Wednesday, August 17, 2022

LIZ CHENEY IS A STALKER

While I admire Liz Cheney's devotion to democracy and contempt for Donald Trump, it troubles me that she thinks her presence in the 2024 presidential race will eventually rally her fellow Republicans to her way of thinking about him. The longer I watch Cheney, the more she seems like a jilted lover who won't accept the fact that her ex -- the GOP electorate -- just isn't into her pro-democracy, anti-Trump stance and never will be. No matter how many times her party's voters reject anti-Trumpism, whether in her House primary or in the primaries of other Republicans who've been critical of Trump, she believes she should just keep trying to make the voters see reason.

Many of us have acted this way after being dumped, but let's face it -- it's stalker behavior.

In The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein writes:
... many of Trump’s remaining Republican critics believe that a Cheney candidacy in the 2024 GOP presidential primaries could help prevent him from capturing the next nomination—or stop him from winning the general election if he does. “Of course she doesn’t win,” Bill Kristol, the longtime strategist who has become one of Trump’s fiercest conservative critics, told me. But, he added, if Cheney “makes the point over and over again” that Trump represents a unique threat to American democracy and “forces the other candidates to come to grips” with that argument, she “could have a pretty significant effect” on Trump’s chances.
Have you ever done this? Have you ever come to the conclusion that someone who dumped you will have a change of heart if you just explain why you shouldn't have been dumped at great length and in detail? Have you made phone calls, sent long emails, arranged "accidental" meetings, just to plead your case "over and over again"? If so, you were being a stalker -- and that's what Cheney is doing.

Brownstein adds:
... many Cheney supporters believe that the real leverage for her—and other Trump critics—would come from working to defeat the former president, or a like-minded alternative, in the 2024 general election. The only plausible way to break Trump’s hold on the GOP, these critics believe, is to show that Trump, or Trumpism, cannot win national elections. Even if Cheney cannot deny Trump the nomination, she could still ultimately loosen his hold on the party, this thinking goes, if she persuades enough centrist and white-collar voters to reject him and ensure his defeat in a general election. To save the party, in other words, Cheney might first have to be willing to destroy it.

... Cheney’s GOP supporters are ... divided over a possible general-election strategy; some sympathizers believe she would hurt Trump most by running as an independent third-party presidential candidate in the general election, and others worry that such a bid would help Trump by splitting voters resistant to him.
The belief that Cheney would hurt Trump in a general election by running third-party is, to put it bluntly, insane -- notice who's rallied to her recently (Democrats, moderate independents, the mainstream media) and who hasn't (any significant bloc of Republican voters). Of course she'd split the anti-Trump vote and guarantee his victory.

But consider the argument Brownstein is making here after talking to Cheney backers: She intends to prove that Trump can't win by sabotaging the GOP vote. It won't work, but it's shockingly reminiscent of the toxic thoughts many jilted lovers have. Cheney is saying in effect, If we democracy-lovers can't have them -- i.e., Republican voters -- then you can't either, Donald Trump.

Cheney needs to face the reality that her party is lost to her. The relationship can't be mended. And even if Republican voters dump Trump, they'll dump him for a like-minded authoritarian, Ron DeSantis. If Cheney wants to prevent Trump's election in 2024, she should back Trump's Democratic opponent. Beyond that, she should burn the love letters and move on from the GOP. It's through with her, and with everyone who thinks about democracy the way she does.

DEMOCRATS HELPED LIZ CHENEY. WILL SHE RETURN THE FAVOR?

Many Wyoming Democrats re-registered as Republicans so they could vote for Liz Cheney in Wyoming's Republican House primary, but there weren't enough of them -- she lost the primary by 37 points.

She's clearly planning to run for president. In her concession speech, she compared her congressional defeat to Lincoln's:
This primary election is over but now the real work begins.

The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most important election of all. Lincoln ultimately prevailed, he saved our Union and he defined our obligation as Americans for all of history.
Politico reports:
SCOOP: CHENEY’S NEXT MOVE — Rep. LIZ CHENEY is wasting no time beginning the next phase of her bid to prevent DONALD TRUMP’s return to office.

“In coming weeks, Liz will be launching an organization to educate the American people about the ongoing threat to our Republic, and to mobilize a unified effort to oppose any Donald Trump campaign for president,” Cheney spokesperson JEREMY ADLER tells Playbook exclusively.

The new group ... will serve as Cheney’s primary political vehicle as she considers whether to run for president in 2024....
So she's running. But what else will she do in the immediate future "about the ongoing threat to our Republic"?

Cheney could endorse -- and campaign for -- Democrats running against election deniers. She could go into moderate Republican districts and offer support for Josh Shapiro in his Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign against Doug Mastriano. She could campaign for Katie Hobbs Mark Kelly, and Adrian Fontes in Arizona, all of whom are running against denialists, Hobbs against Kari Lake in the governor's race, Kelly against Senate candidate Blake Masters, and Fontes against secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem. She could back Tim Ryan in his Ohio Senate campaign against J.D. Vance. She could campaign against deniers in Michigan and Nevada as well.

And if she's really a person of principle, she could campaign in Florida against Ron DeSantis, who's on a barnstorming tour speaking on behalf of Mastriano, Lake, Masters, and Vance.

I know -- I argued a few days ago that if Cheney runs in the Republican presidential primaries in 2024, she'll just inspire GOP voters to rally around Trump. But those are Republican primaries. These are general elections in states that are purple or, in the case of Ohio, not blood red. And if she's concerned that campaign appearances will inspire a Trumpist backlash, then maybe she could stay off the trail, but use her newfound star status to raise money for these Democrats.

Will she? Maybe. In the concession speech, she said:
Today, as we meet here, there are Republican candidates for governor who deny the outcome of the 2020 election, and who may refuse to certify future elections if they oppose the results. We have candidates for secretary of state who may refuse to report the actual results of the popular vote in future elections. And we have candidates for Congress, including here in Wyoming, who refuse to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the 2020 election and suggest that states decertify their results.

Our nation is barreling, once again, towards crisis, lawlessness and violence. No American should support election deniers for any position of genuine responsibility, where their refusal to follow the rule of law will corrupt our future.
So she might. But we'll see.

In the battle against Trumpism, Democrats are engaging in a lot of self-sacrifice. Democrats voted for Cheney in Wyoming. It appears that Democratic votes have made Lisa Murkowski the top vote-getter in Alaska's jungle Senate primary -- the top Democrat received only 6% of the vote in the Senate primary, but a Democrat, Mary Peltola, leads the at-large House primary with 35% of the vote (ahead of Sarah Palin), so there are clearly many Murkowski/Peltola voters. Democrats have chosen not to run a candidate in the Utah Senate race and have endorsed third-party candidate Evan McMullin instead.

This road should go both ways. We'll see if Cheney agrees.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

FOR REPUBLICANS, IT'S ALL ABOUT SEX, AND BY "SEX" THEY MEAN AUTHORITARIANISM

This, from the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, might be the creepiest thing you'll watch all day:


Transcript:
He [Ron Desantis] is gutsy. The guy has bigger -- okay, let me think about how I want to word this. My staff always says, "Whatever you do, do not say 'balls.'" So I'm not going to say it. That guy has a backbone made of steel. I'll tell you what he's got. I don't know if you've heard of this, but he's got BDE. Anybody know what that means? Ask your kids about it later. I call it Big DeSantis Energy. Right? He's got the same kind of BDE that President Trump has -- and frankly, he has the same kind of BDE that we want all of our elected leaders to have.
There's so much to unpack here. This occurred at a rally for Lake and Senate candidate Blake Masters at which DeSantis spoke, yet Lake is praising DeSantis as if he's the candidate who needs a boost. (That's also the vibe when Trump speaks on behalf of endorsees.) Also, Lake has been endorsed by Trump, yet here she is embracing his likely chief rival in 2024 (insert that meme of the guy checking out a woman on the street while his girlfriend looks on in horror, but with the genders reversed). And she says "all of our elected leaders" should have Big Dick Energy when, um, she's trying to become one of our elected leaders. (Unsex me here, as Lady Macbeth said.)

And now to the sexual ickiness. I can't say that Democrats are completely immune to this sort of thing. There was that cringe tweet in 2018 about then-Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke ("O’Rourke is like the guy who is all sweet and nerdy but holds you down and makes you cum until your calves cramp"). There were disturbing moments in the Clinton years: At the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, journalist Nina Burleigh told Howard Kurtz, then of The Washington Post, that she "would be happy to give [Bill Clinton] a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their Presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs." And in 1993, at a D.C. march for gay rights, comedian Lea DeLaria said, "I like the Clintons. Finally we have a First Lady you can fuck."

But when Republicans make it all about sex, they really make it all about authoritarianism. Remember what Peggy Noonan wrote just after George W. Bush won a second term in 1984 2004:
About a year ago I was visiting West Point, and I was talking to a big officer, a general or colonel. But he had the medals and ribbons and the stature, and he asked me what I thought of President Bush. I tried to explain what most impressed me about Mr. Bush, and I kept falling back on words like “courage” and “guts.” I wasn’t capturing the special quality Mr. Bush has of making a tough decision and then staying with it if he thinks it’s right and paying the price even when the price is high and—

I stopped speaking for a moment. There was silence. And then the general said, “You mean he’s got two of ’em.” And I laughed and said yes, that’s exactly what I mean.
At the time, what that meant was that Bush wouldn't reverse course on the quagmire that was the Iraq War, nor would he acknowledge that the U.S. was torturing prisoners on his watch. What Lake means is that DeSantis and Trump delight in bullying, intimidation, and (at least in Trump's case) criminality and mob violence.

My Democratic examples are about pleasure or gratitude. The Republican examples are about authority and force. No surprise, really.

Monday, August 15, 2022

IF YOU WANT TRUMP TO LOSE THE NOMINATION, YOU SHOULD BE ROOTING FOR LIZ CHENEY NOT TO RUN

If this Washington Post story is correct, Liz Cheney is quite serious about entering the Republican presidential primaries, although not exactly to win:
Cheney is looking far beyond Tuesday’s Republican primary for this state’s at-large seat in the U.S. House, a race that she is likely to lose....

But Cheney is clear-eyed when it comes to her chances of actually winning the presidential nomination in a party that is still so loyal to former president Donald Trump, according to friends and advisers. She sees her future role similar to how she views the work of the Jan. 6 committee: Blocking any path for Trump back to the Oval Office.

“It’s about the danger that he poses to the country, and that he can’t be anywhere close to that power again,” she told a crowd of supporters in Cheyenne just before the committee hearings launched in early June....

[Dmitri] Mehlhorn advises several donors across the political spectrum who are opposed to Trump, including the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman. He said he and the donors he works with would consider funding a Cheney presidential bid.

... Cheney and a small but influential bloc of anti-Trump Republicans have decided that there must be a 2024 candidate who will run as an unabashed opponent of both the ex-president and other contenders who spew his mistruths about the 2020 election....

Cheney and her crowd want a candidate who would serve merely as a political kamikaze, blowing up his or her candidacy but also taking down Trump.

“You need that. I think it’s got to be somebody that’s willing to take the boos, take the yells,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), the only other Republican on the Jan. 6 committee, said in a recent interview. “Somebody [who] can stand on the stage and just tell people the truth, I think that would have a huge impact.”
But would it have a huge impact? Cheney and other anti-Trump Republicans worry that Trump will coast to the nomination if he's not attacked by an opponent. But there's no reason to believe that attacks Trump will hurt him -- just the opposite, in fact. Look at what's going on right now:


This isn't The West Wing. You can't damage Trump with a principled direct attack -- especially if you're the most hated of RINOs. I'll grant that Cheney is an excellent public speaker who can succinctly and compellingly explain to reasonable people why Trump is unfit to serve. But the Republican voter base includes very few reasonable people. Its voters are overwhelmingly motivated by resentment of their political enemies. The constant presence of one of those enemies on the campaign trail attacking Trump will make him seem like a hero even to the voters who have been wavering in their support.

Garance Franke-Ruta thinks it's an issue of gender:


But in 2016 Trump rolled right past Carly Fiorina too, and he paid no price for telling an interviewer, in reference to her, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” Trump also tried to intimidate Hillary Clinton while they were debating, and said of her, "Such a nasty woman." That's how he'll treat Cheney, and Republican voters will love it.

Investigations and other legal proceedings might make it impossible for Trump to pursue the presidency again -- that's our best hope if we want him out of the race. Otherwise, we'll just have to beat him in November. Beat him by asking Republican voters to have a conscience about democracy? That's the approach that's least likely to be successful.

NEW YORK TIMES: THE GOP IS A BIG-TENT PARTY THAT WELCOMES BOTH RUDE FBI-BASHERS AND POLITE FBI-BASHERS

According to Luke Broadwater of The New York Times, the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago has caused a major split in the GOP.
As Republicans continued on Sunday to defend former President Donald J. Trump after an unprecedented F.B.I. search of his residence in Florida, deep fissures were visible in the party’s support for law enforcement amid a federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of top secret documents.
"Deep fissures"! How deep exactly?
Immediately after the search, congressional Republicans, including members of leadership, reacted with fury, attacking the nation’s top law enforcement agencies. Some called to “defund” or “destroy” the F.B.I., and others invoked the Nazi secret police, using words like “gestapo” and “tyrants.”

On Sunday, more moderate voices in the party chastised their colleagues for the broadsides against law enforcement, making a more restrained case for defending Mr. Trump while also carrying out oversight of the Justice Department.
So no one in the party is actually defending the search or criticizing the criminal ex-president. The "deep fissures" are merely on matters of tone.

Here's one set of responses to the search:
Mr. Trump’s political action committee has been furiously fund-raising off the F.B.I. search, sending out at least 17 text messages to donors since Tuesday. “The Dems broke into the home of Pres. Trump,” one read. “This is POLITICAL TARGETING!” another alleged. “THEY’RE COMING AFTER YOU!” a third said.

Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s son, wrote another fund-raising email on Sunday: “The witch hunt continues…The FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago was a DISGRACE. In fact, it’s UNFATHOMABLE.”

On Saturday, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, also called for the repeal of the Espionage Act, one of the statutes that prompted the investigation....

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican whom the National Republican Congressional Committee is featuring in fund-raising appeals, has begun selling merchandise that says “Defund the F.B.I.”
And here are responses on the other side of the "fissure":
That is a much different approach from Representative Michael R. Turner of Ohio, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, who defended Mr. Trump on Sunday....

“Clearly, no one is above the law,” Mr. Turner said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Donald Trump is not above the law. And Attorney General Garland is not above the law, either. And Congress has the powers of oversight. He needs to comply.”

Mr. Turner said he had not been convinced “whether or not this actually is classified material and whether or not it rises to the level of the highest classified material,” despite the documents released by the court.

“I’d be very surprised if he has actual documents that rise to the level of an immediate national security threat,” Mr. Turner said.

Two of the laws referred to in the search warrant, however, make the taking or concealment of government records a crime regardless of whether they are related to national security....

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, called on his panel to scrutinize Mr. Garland’s actions.

“Never has a former president and potential political opponent to the sitting president been subject to such a search,” Mr. Portman said in a statement. “The attorney general and the F.B.I. should now demonstrate unprecedented transparency and explain to the American people why they authorized the raid.”

Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota, took a similar approach.

“I’m not one of the individuals out there that says that, you know, ‘Immediately attack the F.B.I. or the Justice Department,’” he said on “Meet the Press.”

“But,” he added, “I think it’s very important long term for the Justice Department, now that they’ve done this, that they show that this was not just a fishing expedition.”
Of course, this is the longstanding Republican approach to messaging: Send out the crazies six days a week to fire up the base with the reddest of red meat, then send "nice" Republicans to the Sunday morning talk shows to persuade political insiders and upscale viewers that the GOP is a temperate party that can be trusted with governing. Republicans have been doing this good cop/bad cop act for decades, and they continue to get away with it. But the so-called good cops generally launch the same attacks as their angier colleagues, except in nicer words. That's what's happening here.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

STOCHASTIC TERRORISM FOR THE HELL OF IT

The entire election board in a Texas county has resigned in response to intimidation. The Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post reports:
... Anissa Herrera, elections administrator for Gillespie County since 2019 ... is resigning from her position as administrator largely due to the heightened, and even dangerous circumstances surrounding the voting process.

“After the 2020 (election), I was threatened, I’ve been stalked, I’ve been called out on social media,” said Herrera. “And it’s just dangerous misinformation.”

Herrera ... has worked for Gillespie County for nine-and-a-half years. Prior to her role as elections administrator, she worked as the elections clerk under the county clerk’s office.

What had been an enjoyable job for Herrera took a different turn following the most recent presidential election.

“The year 2020 was when I got the death threats,” said Herrera. “It was enough that I reached out to our county attorney, and it was suggested that I forward it to FPD (Fredericksburg Police Department) and the sheriff’s office.”

Other resignations have occurred in the Elections Department for similar reasons. The dangers were dire enough that some members of the department hired off-duty law enforcement officers and security guards....

The wave of resignations in the Elections Department has left county officials wondering how to successfully conduct upcoming elections.

“We have some people who are pretty fanatical and radical about things,” said Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher. “Unfortunately, they have driven out our elections administrator, and not just her, but the staff. Everybody has resigned.”
As Matthew Chapman notes, this is a county of 27,000 people that now lacks an election board less than three months before an election for governor and other statewide offices, as well as the entire state House of Representatives.

And there's nothing strategic about this. Chapman points out that Donald Trump won the county by 59 points. These people are simply drunk on their own power to intimidate. They're intimidating election workers because they can, because it feels good, and because nearly everyone who does this in America gets away with it. And we're just going to let them keep getting away with it, aren't we?

Saturday, August 13, 2022

REPUBLICAN STOCHASTIC TERRORISM IS THE NEW ASSAULT-WEAPON MASS MURDER

Here's your modern Republican Party:
Just hours after a list began circulating among right-wing media of FBI agents who signed off on the search warrant for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, a former Trump aide tried to sic MAGA fans on the family members of the purported agents.

Garrett Ziegler ... took to Telegram to post the personal information of men he identified as agents.

“This is one of the two feds who signed the ‘Receipt for Property’ form, which detailed—at a very high level—the fishing expedition that the FBI performed at Mar-a-Lago,” Ziegler said on both Truth Social and Telegram.

The former Trump administration staffer that worked under White House trade adviser Peter Navarro further listed out the FBI agents’ date of birth, work emails and linked to alleged family members’ social media accounts.

“Hope he doesn’t get a good night’s sleep for the rest of 2022,” Ziegler wrote on Truth Social, responding to another Truth Social user’s photos of one of the alleged FBI officials who signed off on the inventory receipts on the warrant.
Also:
Threats against the Florida judge who signed the warrant allowing the FBI to search former President Donald Trump’s home earlier this week have led the synagogue where he is a member to cancel Friday’s beachfront service.

... The judge’s address and other personal information were shared online, and threats on his life were made.

Reinhart is Jewish and a member of Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens, a Conservative synagogue where he also serves on the board of trustees....

Friday’s 6:30 p.m. service, led by Cantor Danielle Bensimhon, the synagogue’s leader, was scrapped in the wake of those threats.
This is the new normal. Just as we've all concluded that, because of Republican intransigence, there's nothing we can do about mass shootings with AR-15s in America and we all simply have to get used to the idea that there'll be a multiple murder with a weapon of war every few weeks in America, we're rapidly approaching the point where anything that offends Republicans will result in the doxxing of the responsible parties, with threats of violence as the inevitable consequence. Soon -- again because of Republican intransigence -- we'll conclude that we simply can't prevent this, and anyone who engages in conduct that upsets Republicans will need to invest in extra security and urge every peripheral person who might be affected to do the same. America will be divided into two nations: Republicans and those terrorized or potentially terrorized by Republicans.

We can still avoid this outcome. But as with mass firearm slaughter, we probably won't.

PAUL GOSAR BACKTRACKS (NOT)

In The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Michael Bender tell us that Republicans are rethinking their angry response to the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago:
Republicans struggled to come together on how to respond to the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago as it emerged on Friday that federal law enforcement officers had recovered top secret files from former President Donald J. Trump’s home.

They were divided over whether to attack the nation’s top law enforcement agencies and how aggressive to be in those attacks.
There's some truth to this -- for example, members of the House Freedom Caucus canceled a Friday news conference at which they planned to continue attacking the FBI. But Broadwater and Bender also report this:
Another House Republican, Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, went so far in the immediate aftermath of the search as to write on Twitter, “We must destroy the F.B.I.” (Mr. Gosar avoided the F.B.I. search on Friday, devoting his Twitter account to other subjects.)
(Emphasis added.)

Actually, Gosar has two Twitter accounts, @DrPaulGosar and @RepGosar. And while it appears that Gosar did avoid the subject of the FBI search for most of Friday on these accounts, this popped up last night:


And just a short while ago there was this:


I don't want to tell the folks at the Times how to do their jobs, but maybe an update on Gosar is in order.

Friday, August 12, 2022

THE LIKELY NEXT U.S. SENATOR FROM MISSOURI IS NOW WORKING WITH GATEWAY PUNDIT'S JIM HOFT

Here's a headline that appeared at Gateway Pundit yesterday:
Announcement: The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft Elevated to Lead Plaintiff in State of Missouri and State of Louisiana Lawsuit vs. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. et al.
From the announcement:
Jim Hoft of The Gateway Pundit is a key plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the State of Missouri. State of Missouri ex rel. Schmitt, et al. v. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., et al., 3:22-cv-01213. The lawsuit alleges that the public statements, emails, and recently released documents, establish that the President of the United States and other senior officials in the Biden Administration violated the First Amendment by directing social-media companies to censor viewpoints that conflict with the government’s messaging on Covid-19 and election integrity concerns relating to the 2020 general election, and is a direct assault on the First Amendment....

The collusion of the Biden administration, in coordination with multiple departments within the United States government and big tech, has led to the censorship, silencing and de-platforming of individuals and organizations and it is a direct assault of the First Amendment.
This lawsuit was originally filed in May by Attorney General Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana. Schmitt, who recently won the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Missouri, has now amended the filing to add several plaintiffs, one of whom is Jim Hoft, Missouri's most successful living right-wing disinformationist.

Keep in mind that Schmitt is probably the next U.S. senator from Missouri -- he has led Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine in two polls of the race, in a state Donald Trump won by 15 points in 2020. It seemed to be a good thing that Schmitt beat domestic abuser and sex criminal Eric Greitens in that primary, but if Schmitt is working hand in glove with Hoft, then it's clear that he's going to be one of the worst people in the Senate.

This is a ridiculous lawsuit. In May, Techdirt's Mike Masnick wrote about the original filing:
... the crux of the complaint — ... I must remind you that it is against many parts of the Biden administration — is that they somehow colluded with private social media companies to censor speech, even though they weren’t even the government at that time.

... What content are real life Attorneys General Jeff Landry and Eric Schmitt suing over?

The Hunter Biden laptop story in the NY Post.
Perhaps most notoriously, social-media platforms aggressively censored an October 14, 2020 New York Post exposé about the contents of the laptop of (then-Candidate Biden’s son) Hunter Biden, which had been abandoned in a Delaware repair shop and contained compromising photos and email communications about corrupt foreign business deals.
... the Biden administration did not exist at the time of the Hunter Biden laptop story. So there is no way that the Biden administration could have violated the 1st Amendment into pressuring social media not to carry that story.

... it takes an incredible lack of shame to argue that Twitter (a private company) using its existing “hacked materials” policy to block a single link to a single story, is a 1st Amendment violation, because the Biden administration, which did not exist for another three months, was pressuring the company to block it.

And it gets worse.

The second example used in the lawsuit is social media companies limiting discussions of the whole “lab leak” theory… in early 2020. Also, efforts by social media companies to pull down disinformation about mail-in ballots. All of these things happened under the Trump administration, and not because of government pressure, but because the companies didn’t want to have their platforms abused by malicious actors.

... The entire lawsuit reads more like something we read from trolls in our comments, not a lawsuit filed by two actual, honest-to-goodness state Attorneys General. But, kudos, Jeff Landry and Eric Schmitt, you’ve truly outdone yourselves in stupid, performative, nonsense lawsuits.
And now Hoft has been added as a plaintiff, presumably to get Schmitt some positive coverage at Hoft's regrettably influential site. This is the Republican Party in 2022.

REPUBLICANS ATTACK DEMOCRACY AND THE RULE OF LAW, AND DAVID BROOKS BLAMES EVERYONE BUT THE PERPETRATORS

A headline from David Brooks:
Did the F.B.I. Just Re-Elect Donald Trump?
Answer: No. The FBI might have just increased the likelihood of Trump's renomination, but that's not the same as reelection. Brooks doesn't understand that. Like much of the mainstream media and all of the right-wing media, Brooks believes that only Republicans are Americans.

Brooks writes:
Why is Donald Trump so powerful?
He isn't really. He lost the popular vote in two straight presidential elections. At least a dozen Republicans think they can beat him in the 2024 primaries. And then there are all those legal woes. But Brooks means "powerful" in the sense of holding sway over Republican voters -- the only real Americans.
How did he come to dominate one of the two major parties and get himself elected president? Is it his hair? His waistline? No, it’s his narratives. Trump tells powerful stories that ring true to tens of millions of Americans.

The main one is that America is being ruined by corrupt coastal elites. According to this narrative, there is an interlocking network of highly educated Americans who make up what the Trumpians have come to call the Regime: Washington power players, liberal media, big foundations, elite universities, woke corporations. These people are corrupt, condescending and immoral and are looking out only for themselves. They are out to get Trump because Trump is the person who stands up to them. They are not only out to get Trump; they are out to get you.
Those aren't Trump's narratives -- they're narratives Trump learned directly or indirectly, from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Steve Bannon. Trump borrowed them, rewrote them, and played them at maximum volume, like Led Zeppelin ripping off Muddy Waters. Republicans voter liked Trump's rehash of these ideas because he's reported to be a rich guy who gets laid a lot, and because he said the racist parts without euphemism.
This narrative has a core of truth to it. Highly educated metropolitan elites have become something of a self-enclosed Brahmin class.
Maybe one other reason right-wing voters respond to this narrative is that even the mainstream media agrees with it.
But the Trumpian propaganda turns what is an unfortunate social chasm into venomous conspiracy theory. It simply assumes, against a lot of evidence, that the leading institutions of society are inherently corrupt, malevolent and partisan and are acting in bad faith.

It simply assumes that the proof of people’s virtue is that they’re getting attacked by the Regime. Trump’s political career has been kept afloat by elite scorn. The more elites scorn him, the more Republicans love him. The key criterion for leadership in the Republican Party today is having the right enemies.
Translation: When Trump does something terrible, it's the establishment's fault.
Into this situation walks the F.B.I. There’s a lot we don’t know about the search at Mar-a-Lago. But we do know how the Republican Party reacted. The right side of my Twitter feed was ecstatic. See! We really are persecuted!
The fact that right-wingers are happy is what a columnist with a degree of moral decency would be writing at this moment. A better David Brooks would be telling us that the entire right wing is pretending to be outraged -- and is stoking outrage in its voter base -- out of pure cynicism. But right-wingers aren't Brooks's bad guys. He blames the feds.
... According to a Trafalgar Group/Convention of States Action survey, 83 percent of likely Republican voters said the F.B.I. search made them more motivated to vote in the 2022 elections. Over 75 percent of likely Republican voters believed Trump’s political enemies were behind the search rather than the impartial justice system, as did 48 percent of likely general election voters overall.
Trafalgar Group is a pollster that made its name by more or less accurately polling races in which Trump was on the ballot. It doesn't do nearly as well when Trump isn't on the ballot and allegedly shy Trump voters aren't a factor. (Trafalgar's final poll of 2021 gubernatorial recall election in California predicted that Gavin Newsom would win by 8. He won by 24.) And Convention of States Action is a Koch-linked group attempting to enact an ALEC wish list of bog-standard GOP/corporatist proposals by means of a constitutional convention. So I'm skeptical of the source.

According to the poll, 83% of Republicans say they're more likely to vote in November in response to the "the FBI raid on President Trump" (which wasn't a raid and wasn't "on" the absent Trump, who isn't president) -- but 55% of Democrats say they're also more likely to vote now. And the numbers on the reason for the search (referred to in the survey question as "the FBI raid on President Trump's private home") make clear that most non-Republican respondents don't think the motivation was political.
In a normal society, when politicians get investigated or charged, it hurts them politically. But that no longer applies to the G.O.P.
Brooks writes this as if this is a law of nature rather than the choice of a voting bloc gone feral. It never occurs to him to say that if millions of voters admire Trump more because he's being investigated for crimes, that attitude is a problem for democracy. Instead, he implies that the investigators are the problem.
What happens if a prosecutor charges Trump and he is convicted just as he is cruising to the G.O.P. nomination or maybe even the presidency? What happens if the legal system, using its criteria, decides Trump should go to prison at the very moment that the electoral system, using its criteria, decides he should go to the White House?

I presume in those circumstances Trump would be arrested and imprisoned. I also presume we would see widespread political violence from incensed Trump voters who would conclude that the Regime has stolen the country. In my view, this is the most likely path to a complete democratic breakdown.
Yes, but only because his admirers choose to reject the rule of law.
In theory, justice is blind, and obviously no person can be above the law. But as Damon Linker wrote in a Substack post, “This is a polity, not a graduate seminar in Kantian ethics.” We live in a specific real-world situation, and we all have to take responsibility for the real-world effects of our actions.
So if a Trumper takes an AR-15 to an FBI office and then has an armed standoff with law enforcement, that's the FBI's fault. The Trumper doesn't have agency. The Trumper is simply acting according to his innate nature. He doesn't have an obligation not to attack the government. He's just going to do that -- he can't help it! It's our responsibility not to get him riled up.
America absolutely needs to punish those who commit crimes. On the other hand, America absolutely needs to make sure that Trump does not get another term as president. What do we do if the former makes the latter more likely? I have no clue how to get out of this potential conflict between our legal and political realities.
I accept the notion that this makes Trump a more likely nominee. But a more likely victor in 2024? Let's look at what Axios is reporting today:
Florida swing voters in our latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups said the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago was justified — and that it would be a "serious crime" if former President Trump did take classified documents from the White House.

... Eleven of 12 participants said it was appropriate for the FBI to execute a signed search warrant at the home of the former president — and that it would be a serious crime to take documents from the White House in an unauthorized fashion even if that person previously held the office.

None said they would support Trump if he ran again.
I know this will come as a shock to David Brooks, but there are some Americans who are not Trump Republicans. They're citizens. They're legally permitted to vote. And they don't like Trump. They don't want him to run for president again. A plurality of them think he should be charged with crimes in connection with the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Brooks thinks their opinions don't matter -- and shouldn't matter. Their job is to manage the emotions of the "real" Americans by not upsetting them with justice. And if those "real" Americans vote for a criminal because he's a criminal, or burn the country to the ground, then it's everyone's fault except theirs.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

WHEN THE VIOLENCE ESCALATES, REPUBLICANS WILL JUST DENY IT'S REAL (updated)

This isn't good:
An armed man flashing an AR-15 style rifle fired a nail gun into an FBI Cincinnati building Thursday morning leading to a police pursuit and shots fired on an interstate, authorities said....

"Law enforcement has traded shots with a male suspect who is wearing a gray shirt and body armor," the agency said in an initial statement, warning people nearby to stay inside and lock their doors. Ohio State Highway Patrol said the suspect had fired shots from a Ford Crown Victoria while he was being pursued by police.
This will keep happening. There'll be much more if Trump is charged with a crime. But if you think anyone on the right will denounce the violence, forget it.

Some will say it never happened -- the Alex Jones response. Fake events, crisis actors, news reporters in studios in front of green screens pretending to be at sites where violence took place -- that's what some of them will tell us is going on.

Others, like these Breitbart commenters responding to what happened today, will just say that the government-slash-Deep State is responsible for the violence.
Carried an AR-15, but fired a nail gun? Sounds like a false flag to me. Carry the AR for optics but fire something that won’t hurt anyone. Good job. 🤫

****

It's phony bologna.

****

FBI fake things???..... not since January 6th...!!!

****

Or rather, continuously since Jan 6th, AND BEFORE!

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A fake soldier. A nail gun has zero accuracy unless pressed against a target. What a genius the fake sergeant is.

****

It doesn’t sound like he got close enough to point it at anything specific. That’s the whole point. He used a ‘weapon’ in a way that wouldn’t hurt anyone, but would cause a stir. If he wanted to hurt someone, he would use the AR.

It’s like the FBI sponsored ’bomber’ a few years ago. He mailed (maybe) bombs that were configured so that they wouldn’t hurt anyone, but give the appearance of a threat. Then they gave his van a decal job to make him look like a Trump supporter. People who knew him said the van was plain white until AFTER the case broke, and many didn’t believe it.

Same thing here. Wray plays the victim, claiming threats. No one believes him. So, dial up a ‘threat’.
And now we're learning that the suspect himself was a denialist:
Investigators are looking into whether the man who tried to breach the F.B.I.’s field office in Cincinnati on Thursday had ties to extremist groups, including one that participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter.

The suspect, identified by the officials as Ricky Shiffer, 42, seems to have appeared in a video posted on Facebook on Jan. 5, 2021, showing him attending a pro-Trump rally at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington the night before the Capitol was stormed.

In May, a Twitter user named Ricky Shiffer replied to a photograph of rioters scaling the walls of the Capitol on Jan. 6 with a message that claimed he was present at the building and seemed to place the blame for the attack on people other than supporters of former President Donald J. Trump.

“I was there,” the message read. “We watched as your goons did that.”
And now Shiffer is dead.


And now the right will tell us that the FBI killed a patriot in cold blood so it could blame him for a phony attack. The entire right is off the rails -- these people will never acknowledge that anything done by one of their ideological allies is bad.

*******

AND:


The Washington Post says it "could not confirm whether the account actually belonged to Shiffer." But assuming it's the real deal, your right-wing relatives won't believe it. They'll just say it was a fake account created by somebody paid by George Soros.

RELEASE THE TAPES, ERIC!

Eric Trump says the FBI misbehaved in its search of Mar-a-Lago, and it was all caught on video:
Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, the former president's son said the 30 agents who arrived at the property asked staff to turn security cameras off – but they refused.

... By not turning off the security cameras, Eric said they saw the FBI raiding areas of the property that they 'shouldn't have been.'
Eric is alleging misconduct, which the brave freedom fighters at Mar-a-Lago caught on video. So where are the tapes? Why hasn't Team Trump released them? Is this like the search warrant, which Trump and his circle refuse to release?

Oh, wait -- Eric is also saying that the FBI unlawfully refused to hand over a copy of the warrant:
Eric said that his father's lawyer Christina Bobb was forced to stand at the end of the Mar-a-Lago driveway throughout the raid.

... 'They would not give her the search warrant,' he claimed. 'So they showed it to her from about 10 feet away. They would not give her a copy of the search warrant.'
Bobb's story is ... um, slightly different:
Bobb also told Real America News on Tuesday that she was able to see the warrant, but claimed that it was partly sealed, making it impossible for her to see what the probable cause was that compelled a judge to approve the raid. She also did not suggest she had received a physical copy.

'When I arrived and kind of announced myself as the legal representation for President Trump. I asked to see a copy of the warrant,' the Trump lawyer detailed of the events the day prior.

'Initially they refused and said, 'You know, we don't have to show it to you.' And there was a little bit of an exchange about whether it was appropriate to withhold the warrant when you're searching the residence of the former president, who's likely to be the Republican nominee in the next election, though they conceded and let me see it, they did not give me a copy of it right away, but they did let me see it,' added Bobb, who once was a host on far-right One America News Network.
(Emphasis added.)

So was it never handed over? Or was it handed over, but not right away? And if it was never handed over, how does Eric know that FBI agents went to parts of the property where they "shouldn't have been"?

And why hasn't anyone else in Trumpworld said that the warrant wasn't handed over, in response to the many questions about why Trump hasn't released the warrant?


They have it. There was no FBI misconduct. And if I'm wrong, Eric, show me the tapes.