The Assassination of Eric Swalwell.

(MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace Interviews Congressman Eric Swalwell on “Deadline White House,” about the dangerous and deadly lies GOP House Speaker is spreading about him, and the death threats that have resulted against Swalwell and his family. You can view the YouTube video of the interview on the link at the bottom of the article.)

I froze when I heard Eric Swalwell responding to MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace about the continuing death threats against him and his family. I had heard his tone of voice before.

Swalwell was preternaturally calm, and I recognized that chilling tone of voice going back many, many years. It was the even, accepting voice I heard come out of Bobby Kennedy, when I was 15 years old and campaigning for him for the U.S Senate from New York in the Sunset City Shopping Center of North Babylon, Long Island, in 1964, the year after his brother was assassinated.

It was the same resigned, accepting voice I heard over and over again four years later, on tapes of Martin Luther King’s “Mountaintop” speech to the striking Memphis Sanitation Workers, the night before he was killed.

And, it was the same calm, resigned-to-fate voice I heard, face-to-face, from Yitzhak Rabin, in the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, in 1992, when Governor Mario M. Cuomo and I met with him, three years before Rabin was murdered at a peace rally, by an extreme Right Wing Jewish terrorist.

Listening to Swalwell describe the threats on his life, and the deadly lies being spread about him by House GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy, spooked me. Not just because of the shock of what he was saying, but because the 42-year old father of three young children appeared to be matter-of-factly confronting his fate.

MSNBC’s Wallace, on her January 18, 2023 Deadline White House show, was asking Swalwell about Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s actions to block him from serving on any House Committees, in clear retaliation for Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar — who had uttered anti-Semitic and racist hate speech, and threatened violence against others — being excluded from Committees when the Democrats controlled Congress. Swalwell, who served on both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees during the last Congress, mentioned the Washington Post story earlier that day which gave Kevin McCarthy “Four Pinocchios” for flat out lying. (“McCarthy’s Specious Attacks on Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell.”)

“It’s clear Speaker McCarthy is willing to trade the lives of my children — whose lives have been directly threatened because of his lies — for a few bucks, “ Swalwell said, in a calm, even voice. “The FBI has repeatedly contradicted his lies, but he persists in telling them out of political vengeance.”

Two years earlier, before he became Speaker, McCarthy unsuccessfully tried to have Swalwell removed from the House Intelligence Committee because of his work on the Trump Impeachment effort, and his pointed criticism of Trump. Now, using the power of House Speaker, McCarthy thought it was time to resuscitate the grotesque ghost and the dishonest tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy to assassinate the character of Eric Swalwell. Like his horrific and hateful namesake, the “new” McCarthy reached back 8 years, for a case against a Chinese spy that Swalwell helped the FBI resolve.

Despite the FBI’s repeatedly praising Swalwell’s work with them on the case, the California McCarthy — who sliced baloney in a Central Valley deli before being elected to Congress — waved an imaginary “classified FBI file” at Swalwell and the press, to justify his unjustifiable action.

Without revealing any evidence or any documentation, Kevin McCarthy remarked to reporters on January 12, “ If you got the briefing I got from the FBI you wouldn’t have Swalwell on any committee…” Echoes of Joseph McCarthy’s “I have here in my hand, the names of…,” filled the room. Neither of the mendacious McCarthys had any evidence, shame, nor character.

Death threats against the articulate Congressman Swalwell, his staff, and his family were nothing new. In October 2021, appearing on MSNBC’s Deadline White House with Nicole Wallace, Swalwell detailed death threats from a Tucker Carlson fan who “threatened to kill my entire family.”

One year later — on the day in late October, 2022 that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul Pelosi was viciously beaten in his own home by a crazed conspiracy theorist looking for “Nancy,” a Pennsylvania man, Joshua Hall, pleaded guilty to making threats against Swalwell and his staff.

Swalwell refused to stay silent about the threat, writing on social media :

“A staffer of mine — one month into her job — received a call from a man saying he’s coming to my office with an assault rifle to kill me. I hesitate to share this, but how else do I tell you we are in a violent time and the architects are Trump & McCarthy. Bloodshed is coming.”

As if on cue, the newly-elected GOP House Speaker — beholden to the extreme right wing, QAnon quacks of his Party for election to his post after 15 ballots — continued with his character assassination of Eric Swalwell. Coming in the incendiary political climate of violence against public officials, McCarthy had to know that his casual character assassination could result in the real thing. He just didn’t care.

Swalwell told Nicole Wallace precisely that, during his live Deadline White House appearance of January 18, which came a few days after the arrest and firing of Indiana lab worker Jonathan Reesh, who threatened by phone, to break “Swalwell’s fucking face,” and wishing that his wife and 3 young children, would be “raped and murdered:”

“People parrot what Kevin McCarthy is saying, when they call and make threats. He knows that; we’ve told him that. I have publicly broadcast to him that when you do this it leads to threats to me, my wife, our kids. Recently, someone said they were going to rape and kill my children, and they used the language that Kevin McCarthy was using.”

Swalwell’s three children are 6, 5 and 2 years old. The son and brother of law enforcement professionals, the East Bay Congressman has zero tolerance for intolerance , hate speech, or threats of violence. A former Assistant District Attorney in Alameda County, Swalwell knows that swift action, arrest, conviction and sentencing is the best way to shut down violent actors.

The Biden Administration can immediately take bold steps to protect Swalwell, by providing his family with 24-hour Secret Service protection. Additionally, to swiftly and efficiently expose Kevin McCarthy for the dangerous liar he is, Biden can declassify portions of the FBI report which fully exonerates Swalwell. President Biden’s reading from the report at a White House Press Conference, along with FBI Director Christopher Wray, would help protect Congressman Swalwell and his young family from both types of assassination.

The GOP Speaker’s words and actions against Eric Swalwell — coming in the same week when another Trump fanatic and failed New Mexico MAGA candidate for pubic office reportedly hired assassins to kill local Democratic public officials — must be seen as an incitement to commit violence against a specific lawmaker.

Either the newest, national political abomination named McCarthy doesn’t understand that, or, like Trump, he knows exactly what evil his words unleash, and simply doesn’t care about the consequences.

Hakeem’s Dream: The ABC’s of Democracy.

HAKEEM’S DREAM:  The ABC’s of Democracy.

(Following 15 ballots to elect a new Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Democratic Leader of the House, Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn, N.Y.) delivered a powerful speech defending democratic ideals, before handing over the Speaker’s gavel to Kevin McCarthy, from California.  In his speech, Jeffries poetically pinpointed his “ABC’s of Democracy,” which captured the attention and admiration of millions of social media users for days.   I am proud to turn my blog over to my fellow Brooklynite, Hakeem Jefferies, to help share his inspiring “ABC’s of Democracy,” with as many people as possible.  This should be a rallying cry for Democrats and all decent human beings for the next two years, until Hakeem Jeffries is elected to be the first Black Speaker of the House of Representatives in American history, after Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives in 2024.)

“… We do extend our hand of partnership to you and want to make clear that we extend and intend to try to find common ground whenever and wherever possible on behalf of the American people. Not as Democrats, not as Republicans, not as independents but as Americans. 

But I also want to make clear that we will never compromise our principles.

House Democrats will always put American values over autocracy. Benevolence over bigotry. The constitution over the cult. Democracy over demagogues.

Economic opportunity over extremism. Freedom over fascism. Governing over gaslighting. Hopefulness over hatred. Inclusion over isolation. Justice over judicial overreach. Knowledge over kangaroo courts. Liberty over limitation. Maturity over Mar-a-Lago. Normalcy over negativity. Opportunity over obstruction. People over politics.

Quality of life issues over Q Anon. Reason over racism. Substance over slander. Triumph over tyranny. Understanding over ugliness. Voting rights over voter suppression. Working families over the well-connected. Xenial over xenophobia. “Yes We Can” over “You Can’t Do It.” And zealous Representation over zero-sum confrontation. 

We will always do the right thing by the American people. So let us not grow weary of doing good. For the American people will reap the benefit of the harvest if we do not give up.”


by House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, January 7, 2023

American Values over Autocracy;

Benevolence over Bigotry;

Constitution over the Cult;

Democracy over Demogogues;

Economic Opportunity over Extremism;

Freedom over Fascism;

Governing over Gaslighting;

Hopefulness over Hatred;

Inclusion over Isolation;

Justice over Judicial Overreach;

Knowledge over Kangaroo Courts;

Liberty over Limitations;

Maturity over Mar-A-Lago;

Normalcy over Negativity;

Opportunity over Obstruction;

People over Politics;

Quality of Life Issues over QAnon;

Reason over Racism;

Substance over Slander;

Triumph over Tyranny;

Understanding over Ugliness;

Voting Rights over Voter Suppression;

Working Families over the Well-Connected;

Xenial over Xenophobia;

“Yes We Can” over “You Can’t Do it;”

Zealous Representation over Zero-sum confrontation.

The Invisible Men of the NFL

(Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.”)

When I saw the young, lithe, black Buffalo Bills’ athlete Damar Hamlin  collapse on an NFL football field in Cincinnati this week, after being hit hard in the chest, I could not stop staring at the constant playback loop of Hamlin’s crumbling to the ground . My mind had witnessed this horror before.

I struggled to place it.   Then, one of the most powerful pieces of writing I’ve ever encountered marched into my mind.

The brutal hit which stopped Hamlin’s heart reminded me of the chilling opening chapter of Ralph Ellison’s remarkable book “Invisible Man.”  (Random House, NY, N.Y., 1952.)

In the riveting, cinematic descriptions which thrust readers head-first into his National Book Award winning work, Ellison chillingly depicted how wealthy White people looked right through young, athletic Black men, and saw only what they wanted to see, for whatever purpose they found gratifying or entertaining.

Again, I watched the replay of Hamlin falling backwards on a football field named Paycor—for a company that manages “human capital”– and thought of Ellison’s eloquent account, told through the eyes of a young, bright Black man invited into an elite gathering of southern, white, community leaders.

Ellison’s educated main Black character had earned a college scholarship, and to receive it, he was told by the Superintendent of Schools, he would have the privilege of giving a speech to a roomful of old, white, male movers and shakers. 

They would be impressed by his eloquence, the young Black man was promised, but first, he and nine other young, well-built black men had to provide some pugilistic entertainment for the rich, powerful audience, of inebriated good ole’ boys:

“ All of the town’s big shots were there in their tuxedos, wolfing down buffet foods, drinking beer and whiskey and smoking black cigars. It was a large room with a high ceiling. Chairs were arranged in neat rows around three sides of a portable boxing ring. The fourth side was clear, revealing a gleaming space of polished floor.”

 “In those pre-invisible days, I visualized myself as a potential Booker T. Washington…I suspected the fighting might detract from the dignity of my speech.

We were led out of the elevator through a rococo hall into an anteroom and told to get into our fighting togs. Each of us was issued a pair of boxing gloves and ushered into the big mirrored hall…”

“We were a small tight group, clustered together, our bare upper bodies touching and shining with anticipatory sweat, while up front the big shots were becoming increasingly excited… Suddenly, I heard the School Superintendent, who told me to come, yell, ‘Bring up the Shines, gentlemen! ‘Bring up the little Shines!”

Hit ‘em hard; bring ‘em down; that’s what we want!  We pay them well enough to allow them to play this violent game we crave.  They know what they are buying into.  Look at how quickly we got the ambulance on the field!  Cut to commercial!

“We were ordered to get into the ring…All 10 of us climbed under the ropes and allowed ourselves to be blindfolded, with broad bands of white cloth…I felt a sudden fit of blind terror …I stood against the ropes trembling… it seemed as if all nine of the boys had turned upon me at once. Blows pounded me from all sides…A glove connected with my head, filling my mouth with warm blood…”

“Everybody fought everybody else…I heard one boy scream in pain as he smashed his hand against a ring post…The (White) men kept yelling: ‘Slug him, black boy! Knock his guts out! Uppercut him! Kill him! Kill that big boy!’

 When the bell sounded, two men in tuxedos leapt into the ring and removed the blindfolds…”

The White men — bankers, lawyers, judges, doctors, fire chiefs, teachers, merchants and pastors — all dressed in tuxedos, now arranged for the second act of the evening’s entertainment: two Black “boys” would fight it out, before all would get some money:

I saw the howling of red faces crouching tense beneath the cloud of blue-grey smoke…I wanted to deliver my speech more than anything because I felt that only these men could judge truly my ability…A blow to my head as I danced about sent my right eye popping like a Jack-in-the-Box and settled my dilemma…I wondered if I would now be allowed to speak…”

The tuxedoed White men stopped the fight, but only because they wanted to see one more show—their own “Superbowl” of entertainment. 

Ellison’s evil rich men rolled away the portable boxing ring, and set up a small square rug in the vacant space surrounded by chairs. An emcee gave the signal for the young, Black men to “come and get your money,” a collection of gold, coins and a few crumpled bills tossed in the middle of the rug.

I looked at the listless body of Damar Hamlin, laying on a NFL football field named for a company that dealt in “human capital”, and wondered if the gobs of money tossed his way was worth the price.  But then, I knew what atrocities came next in “Invisible Man.”  Unlike Hamlin, Ellison’s young black scholar-athlete was still conscious to narrate for us:

As told, we got around the square rug on our knees. ‘Ready, Go!’ the emcee said. I lunged for a yellow coin lying on a blue design of the carpet, touching it …A hot, violent force tore through my body, shaking me like a wet rat. The rug was electrified…my muscles jumped, my nerves jangled, writhed…Suddenly, I saw a boy lifted in the air, glistening with sweat like a circus seal, and dropped, his wet back landing flush upon the charged rug, heard him yell, and saw him literally dance upon his back, his elbows beating a frenzied tattoo upon the floor, his muscles twitching like the flesh of a horse stung by too many flies… his face was gray and no one stopped him when he ran from the floor, amid booming laughter.”

To their credit, the well-heeled crowd at the Cincinnati Bengal’s NFL stadium didn’t cheer, but, instead, were stunned into silence by the consequences of the brutality they witnessed, and the other entertainers were brought to tears.

Ellison’s journey for his eloquent Black hero was different.  To ground himself against the pre-meditated electric shock, the young, college-bound Black man, grabbed the wooden leg of a chair being straddled by a laughing, beer-bellied, drunken White man and tried to topple his tormentor onto the electrified carpet. The fat, rich, White man kicked him viciously in the chest and back onto the charged rug.   He was fortunate the blow to his chest didn’t send him into cardiac arrest:

“ The chair flew out of my hand, and I felt myself going… It was as though I had rolled through a bed of hot coals. It seemed a whole century would pass before I would roll free, a century in which I was seared through the deepest levels of my body to the fearful breath within me, and the breath seared and heated to the point of explosion. It’ll all be over in a flash, I thought… It’ll all be over in a flash.”

Did anybody die?  Not this time, not that we know…But wattabout that game?