Tuesday, March 30, 2021


This morning we learned that Trumpist weirdo Matt Gaetz was thinking about quitting Congress to get a job at Newsmax TV. Within a few hours, we learned why that rumor was floated. The New York Times reports:
Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, the people said.
I can think of few people more deserving of a reckoning like this. But as I was reading the Times story, I found myself learning about an associate of Gaetz's who hasn't done nearly as much damage to the country, but might be even slimier than Gaetz. And I asked myself: Why haven't I heard of Joel Greenberg until now?
... the examination of Mr. Gaetz, 38, is part of a broader investigation into a political ally of his, a local official in Florida named Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on an array of charges, including sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl.

Mr. Greenberg, who has since resigned his post as tax collector in Seminole County, north of Orlando, visited the White House with Mr. Gaetz in 2019, according to a photograph that Mr. Greenberg posted on Twitter....

... Last June, federal prosecutors secured an indictment against Mr. Greenberg, accusing him of stalking a political rival.

Around that time, federal authorities seized Mr. Greenberg’s phone and laptop, according to court records. They discovered evidence that Mr. Greenberg, whose job responsibilities included issuing licenses, was creating fake identification cards for himself and a teenage girl, and was experimenting with holograms used on permits for concealed firearms, according to court documents.

Two months later, he was indicted on the sex trafficking charge. From May to November 2017, prosecutors said, Mr. Greenberg targeted the girl, who was between 14 and 17, saying he “recruited” and “solicited” her for sex acts in exchange for unspecified perks or favors....

Within days of taking office, [Greenberg] fired three employees who had supported his predecessor and began spending more than $1.5 million in taxpayer money on personal expenses, including guns, ammunition, body armor and a drone, as well as on computers for his own cryptocurrency venture, a county audit later revealed....

Prosecutors said he sent an anonymous letter to the school where one potential [rival] candidate worked that made unfounded accusations of sexual misconduct with a student and making similar claims on a fake Facebook account.

As the primary race intensified last summer, similar messaging began appearing on fake social media accounts that have been tied to [Roger] Stone....

The post linked to an article about the rival published on Central Florida Post, a website controlled by Mr. Stone’s associates that ... was founded by a member of the Proud Boys....
This guy has been to the White House. He's hung out with Matt Gaetz, Roger Stone, and the Proud Boys.

He's engaged in a staggering array of sleazy activities, up to and including pedophilia. He was indicted nine months ago. So why have I never heard of him until now?

If there were a close associate of prominent Democrats who'd done a tenth of what Greenberg has done and had visited the White House during a Democratic presidency, there would have been several hundred stories about him on Fox News. Your right-wing relatives would have dropped his name in conversation as if he were as famous as Tom Brady.

But the mainstream media doesn't operate like that, and even openly liberal pundits rarely focus on figures like Greenberg in any sustained way. Liberals care about policy. Liberals want universal health coverage, a higher minimum wage, a serious approach to climate change, an end to racist policing, a humane immigration system, a curtailment of gun violence. Right-wingers just want enemies -- demons to demonize, liberals to own.

It works for them. It sustains GOP team loyalty. It probably helps recruit some new voters, who hear about how awful a demonized Democrat is and conclude they can't possibly vote for that party.

I don't want to be exactly like Republicans. But I think we'd be winning over more voters if there were more demonization of Republicans who deserve it.

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