Wednesday, August 31, 2022


Donald Trump's theft of classified documents seems like a national security disaster, but in The Washington Post, David Von Drehle tells us it's just Trump being the wacky guy he's always been.
... former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham ... noted that Trump simply has a thing for paper — heaps of it, the more jumbled, the better. He even hauled boxes of assorted materials with him when he traveled on Air Force One. “There was no rhyme or reason — it was classified documents on top of newspapers on top of papers people printed out of things they wanted him to read. The boxes were never organized,” Grisham told The Post....

Anyone who has flown in Trump’s company can confirm Grisham’s account. When I interviewed candidate Trump in early 2016 aboard his private 757, the pile of disorganized paper on his desk made a striking contrast to the pristine white leather seats and gold-colored hardware. An even larger mess rode in the seat next to him — thousands of pages in all....

Trump did not read anything from the paper piles. Several times during the flight he plucked a news clipping or report seemingly at random from the stack and peered at it with a puzzled look. Then he tossed it back onto the pile. The sequence repeated every five or 10 minutes until I understood completely why many in Trump’s orbit believe he is dyslexic.

But if the mass of material was not to be read, what purpose did it serve?

It was a prop.... The mountain of paper showed how very busy and important its owner was.

This became clear as the candidate began rummaging through the pile for various proofs of his own fame and lovability. He dug down about three inches to unearth an 8-by-10-inch photograph of the late pop superstar Michael Jackson. “Do you know who this is?” he asked improbably. “A very good friend of mine,” he answered himself.

Later, he reenacted the same performance with a photograph of Muhammad Ali. Still later, a picture of boxing promoter Don King. The uproar of the day had to do with Trump’s endorsement from Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke — and whaddaya know: So many very good Black friends of The Donald just happened to surface from the pile.
So Von Drehle thinks Trump kept top secret documents so he can wave them around in the presence of people he wants to impress (a group that consists of literally everyone he meets). And this is supposed to make us less worried about the document theft?

If Von Drehle said that Trump kept them so he could gaze on them privately, in a Mar-a-Lago inner sanctum far removed from anyone else's view, like a billionaire who's commissioned an art thief to steal him a Renaissance masterwork, I'd be somewhat mollified. It would still be reckless, appalling, and illegal, but I could imagine that the danger might be contained.

But Von Drehle is talking about classified documents, many of them extraordinarily sensitive, and is saying, "Hey, don't worry -- Trump just likes to show people stuff to impress them." This is not stuff we want him to show people -- not Russian or Saudi officials and not blue-haired Mar-a-Lago members (or shady people who want you to believe they're Mar-a-Lago members).

If you tell me that the primary reason Trump took the documents was to show them to people who shouldn't see them, that's not reassuring.


Here's a headline on the website of local TV channel WPIX:
Former NYPD cop claims he was canned for supporting ‘MAGA’ ideals: lawsuit
The same headline appears at The Hill, accompanying the same story.

We all know that in 2022 many people don't read stories -- they just read headlines. These headlines say this cop was canned for thoughtcrime. But he wasn't, as the story makes clear:
A former NYPD officer claims he was booted from the police department for his right-wing political views and his interpersonal relationships with former Donald Trump advisor Roger Stone and Manhattan Madam Kristin Davis.

Salvatore Greco was at the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and was filmed palling around with Stone and Davis, who was convicted of prostitution, at a Washington. D.C. hotel but was never accused of doing anything illegal or violent at the riots, according to a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Greco is suing the NYPD, claiming the department and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell violated his First Amendment rights when they terminated him for supporting ‘Making America Great Again’ ideals. He acknowledged he has “familial” and “political” ties to Stone and Davis, and also supports extremist groups the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, the suit said.
So Greco hangs out with Roger Stone (and Kristin Davis, a former madam who claimed disgraced New York governor Eliot Spitzer as a client, then ran for governor herself as a stunt candidate, with Stone as a campaign adviser; she was later questioned by Robert Mueller). Also, he supports the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. That seems like reason enough to remove him from the police force. You could argue that a cop should have freedom of association, though it seems clear that the NYPD doesn't agree. (The specific infraction is consorting with a felon, although Stone's felony conviction was overturned by a Donald Trump pardon.) What you can't argue is that he was fired solely for his political beliefs.

But Greco got WPIX and The Hill to make that claim in a headline. And that's all many people will see.

This is awful journalism.

A March story in the New York Daily News lays out the NYPD's actual case against Greco in more detail:
An NYPD police officer faced a departmental trial Tuesday for allegedly working as unpaid security for Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone alongside members of the far right Oath Keepers militia.

The disciplinary proceeding against Officer Salvatore Greco pits free speech against a rule barring cops from hanging out with convicted felons.

Greco faces a range of charges for associating with Stone from July 2019 through March 2021, in particular in Washington, D.C., during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

To make their case against Greco, NYPD prosecutors said they will submit a recorded statement from Joshua James, an Oath Keeper from Alabama facing federal charges of seditious conspiracy in connection with the D.C. riot.

“Joshua James told us how he and Sal Greco worked security for Stone on Jan. 5 and 6,” NYPD prosecutor Samuel Yee told Assistant Deputy Trials Commissioner Paul Gamble....

Greco attended Stone’s February 2020 sentencing to 40 months in prison for lying to Congress — and their friendship continued well after that. The cop is also charged with evading investigators’ questions and associating with Stone’s friend “Manhattan Madam” Kristin Davis, who was convicted of prostitution-related activities and selling prescription drugs....

Greco carried a gun as he worked “uncompensated” security for Stone and Davis during the Jan. 6 riot, and was with Stone’s Oath Keepers security team that included James, Yee said....

Yee also alleged Greco had “repeated” contacts with the Proud Boys, another right wing group. And he was “evasive” under police questioning.
That's a lot more than thoughtcrime.

If you could really lose your job at the NYPD for "supporting MAGA ideals," there'd barely be a white cop left in the city. But your right-wing relatives will see the headline and insist that's what's happening.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022


In his latest Washington Post piece Greg Sargent tries to make the case that while Republican insiders increasingly see Donald Trump as a liability, "Some GOP candidates ... genuinely appear to see Trump and Trumpism as key sources of political energy and inspiration." He mentions Kari Lake and Doug Mastriano, the GOP gubernatorial candidates in Arizona and Pennsylvania, and he's right about them, but his main example is Arizona's Republican Senate candidate, Blake Masters. A couple of days ago, Masters wrote a sarcastic tweet attacking diversity in the federal government:

Sargent writes:
Masters is under fire for blaming racial diversity at the Federal Reserve for economic woes. Now, Masters has responded with a video that seems designed to capture a kind of unadulterated Trumpism:

Note that Masters says “fake news!” with a bombastic vehemence that appears to consciously imitate Trump. And Masters attacks Vice President Harris with the ugly claim that she is “so incompetent she can’t even get a sentence out.”

... he’s working overtime to capture the spirit and essence of Trump’s sheer abusiveness. It’s as though going all-in on such unapologetic derangement is itself a selling point that displays resolve and fight against, well, whoever gets triggered by it.

... As Sam Adler-Bell documents, Masters is crafting a brand of Trumpism that’s nerdy and hyper-intellectualized but retains its dark hatreds of all manner of leftist enemies.
But Masters was publicly obnoxious about politics, in a nerdy and hyper-intellectual (or pseudointellectual) way, years before Trump entered politics. As a college student, he was a self-impressed libertarian-leaning message-board poster and occasional essayist who quoted Goering while pontificating like Ron Paul and patting himself on the back for his brilliance:
In a 2006 post on the libertarian site, he rehashed an elaborate conspiracy theory about the United States’ entry into World War I, implying a connection between the banking “Houses of Morgan and Rothschild” and the failure to alert American steamship passengers to German threats that preceded the sinking of the Lusitania. His main source was C. Edward Griffin, an ardent libertarian who once said that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — a notorious antisemitic forgery — “accurately describe much of what is happening in our world today.”

The post ended with what Mr. Masters called a “poignant quotation” from Hermann Goering — Hitler’s right-hand man and one of the most powerful Nazis of the Third Reich....

He called the United States “an empire-driven (soft and hard) nation-state with security craving sheep” and dismissed the Federal Reserve Board as a “semi-private banking cartel.”

And, on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mr. Masters ... asked, “what about the non-Americans in the twin towers? Personally I see no reason to lament the demise of ‘American’ innocents any more than those of other nationalities.”

Finally, on Sept. 25, 2007, Mr. Masters, then a Stanford junior, bid adieu to his ... interlocutors, signing off with one last expression of sophomoric-sounding self-assurance.

“I don’t mean any disrespect — but it takes years to understand where I’m coming from, let alone agree or disagree,” he wrote.
He's abandoned many of the ideas of his youth -- he's gone from believing in open borders to demonizing immigrants -- but he still leads with obnoxiousness.

He didn't learn this from Trump. Obnoxiousness has been central to amateur online political commentary since long before Trump entered politics. Fox News was obnoxious as far back as the late twentieth century, taking its cues from talk radio.

Masters and his sugar daddy, Peter Thiel, hang out with Curtis Yarvin, formerly known as Mencius Moldbug, a blowhard whose contemptuous online essays made him famous in certain circles. This is what right-wingers like. This is what they've liked since the days of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. Trump's only innovation was demonstrating that you could make it the basis of a winning national campaign.


The Bulwark's Jonathan Last thinks Donald Trump is either mentally ill or a traitor:
The former president of the United States has made a new pronouncement. He now demands that the federal government either:
1. Declare him the winner of the 2020 election and install him as president. Or,

2. Re-do the 2020 election.
... If Trump is serious, then he is cognitively impaired. There is no way to accomplish the “remedies” he proposes. The idea that someone could simply “declare” him the rightful winner of the 2020 election is preposterous. Who has that authority? Not Congress. Not the Supreme Court. Not the president. There is no piece of paper that can be signed and ratified that would accomplish this goal.

So either Trump does not have the baseline intelligence to understand how the government and the U.S. Constitution function—or he has suffered from some mental decline which has rendered him incapable of basic deductive reasoning....

On the other hand, if Trump is not serious—by which I mean that he does not actually believe that either of these remedies are even theoretically possible—then he is advocating the overthrow of the legitimately-elected government of the United States and rejecting the Constitution.
Does Trump know he can't just be declared the president? I'm not sure -- but if he thinks it's possible, it's not cognitive impairment, it's merely a level of ignorance Trump shares with millions of voters, who don't pay attention to the basic workings of government and have no idea what's possible under the law and what isn't.

(Part of the evil genius of the Republican Party over the past few decades has been the embrace of ignorance -- Republicans pitch their propaganda to people who have no idea that what they're being told doesn't pass the smell test. These voters embrace the messaging because it makes them feel good -- or makes them angry, which is the same thing. So for instance, much of the Republican Party has recently spread the lie that the Inflation Reduction Act calls for the hiring of 87,000 armed IRS agents trained to use deadly force. No Republican wants to inform the base that this isn't really happening, because then the base won't be angry anymore. For Republicans, lying works.)

It's possible that Trump doesn't know that immediate reinstatement can't happen. It's possible that he understands it can't but knows that demanding it fires up his fans. If the latter is correct, you could say he's just negotiating brazenly. By demanding immediate reinstatement, in a statement to an electorate that has no idea whether that's permissible, he's trying to move the Overton window. He's throwing out a brazen ask and daring everyone to call it unreasonable.

Is this how he negotiated when he was a famous real estate "dealmaker"? Making a demand that's selfish, unreasonable, and blatantly impermissible is a bold negotiating tactic. It's also the way a bratty child "negotiates": Give me everything I want, right now!

Trump is either a seditionary or a spoiled five-year-old. Or both, I guess.

Monday, August 29, 2022


Senator Lindsey Graham has predicted that "there will be riots" if Donald Trump is indicted, and the comments at Free Republic are ... unhinged:
Riots in the streets is exactly what the Deep State wants.

It will give them the excuse they need to identify and neutralize the most virulent MAGA activists.


Sept indictment leads to riots which give the communists reason to shutdown the election defeat in November! Watch!


GrahamPox would be happy for an excuse to permanently shut down MAGA. What an asshat.

biden’s troops will be looking for any excuse to open fire on a crowd of Republicans. They will go so far as to plant operatives in the crowd who will start violence. Then anyone who was within 5 miles will be thrown into solitary.


Sen. Limp-wrist is just trying to validate AG Garland’s claim that whites are the greatest threat.

Most whites don’t riot. We have jobs and bills to pay. We also have to pay taxes to prop up this collapsing system. We can all thank obama for this mess.


Riots false flag riots instigated by the FBI I am sure!! They would do ANYTHING!! If they indict Trump WE NEED to stay out of the streets they will set us up AGAIN!! WE NEED to show up in DROVES at the midterms enough of us to overcome the fraud!!
These folks seem to believe Graham wants riots so Trumpers can be repressed. As a result, they think rioting is a terrible idea.

Some recommend voting. Others would prefer a little terrorism:
I think it would be better to single out antifa and blm acivists and leadership for discrete retribution, ranging from doxxing to .... well, use your imagination.

I’m too old to do stuff like that, but there are probably those who have the expertise and equipment to do it.

Far more effective than rioting in the streets.


Any en masse confrontation will only lead to the fate the J6 demonstrators met.

Things must be done discreetly, with small cells of no more than two to five people.

The smaller the cell, the harder to connect to a larger movement.
There are some similar reactions in the Fox News comments:
It won't be will be war...civil war. Everyone laughed for decades at the South for saying the South would rise again...people aren't laughing right now because they now know it could become a very real possibility.


... The purpose of all this theater is to cause chaos right before an election that the Democrats were going to lose. Riots in the street would work quite well for them as an excuse to further demonize half the electorate and cancel these elections. A far better response would be to channel those Canadian truckers and non-violently shut Washington down. Targeted boycotts and pickets of the media and tech firms supporting the regime also might also make these less effective as tools to suppress opposition. Riots hurt real people, not the elites. They have to be shown that the consequences of political instability will hurt them, too.


The thing is, when Republican's riot, it won't be to destroy businesses and cars and people's livelihoods. It will be against the government. That's the difference. When Black Lives Matter and antifa were rioting, they burn down cities. When Republicans riot, we tend to go for government buildings and officials and we would do it in a more organized manner.


The Constitution is the only thing preventing a Civil War. If the Democrats discard it, they will have no authority to do anything. And those who oppose them will have no restraint....


There is very good reason why the Founding Fathers gifted US Citizens the Second Amendment and that reason has nothing to do with hunting.


Historically from what I have read assassinations follow such things. I am not saying who, when, where but they often did take place and sometimes entire families so all I know is this stuff happens. Sort of a cleansing as i see it is all historically that is ;-) Despite Secret Service the way and means to reach out and touch someone is ever presents day and night.


Civil War? Can't happen? If only 1% of the Trump supporters decided to revolt against the authorities, there would be 80,000 people with guns, marching into state offices, Utility districts, and Television stations all over the U.S. at the same time... Your cops would stand down because they would be grossly outnumbered. That's only 1%. They could take down your Blue State, while you are sleeping. We only need to capture one BLUE state and hold it for two weeks. Imagine a "well organized" militia with all the toys for night fighting equipment we currently own, the surprise attacks... Cutting off power, communications, water supply, command and control, roads and bridges would be blocked using cement barriers, trucking would come to a halt, so would trains and airports...Noooo, it can’t be done...LOL


Just blockade all the big blue cities, cut off power, food, water and fuel going in and they will collapse without having to invade.
They'll probably never do any of this. But it's obvious that they really want to.


This happened yesterday:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday warned of “riots in the streets” if former President Trump is prosecuted for his handling of classified materials found when the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago home.

“If there’s a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information, after the Clinton debacle... there’ll be riots in the streets,” Graham told former South Carolina congressman Trey Gowdy, who now hosts Fox News’ “Sunday Night in America.”
You can read this as "Lindsey Graham threatens violence," and that's a valid interpretation of what he said. But he's also saying that if there are riots in the aftermath of a Trump indictment, they won't be the fault of the rioters. I'm reasonably certain that no Republican ever said that about the moments of violence and property damage that took place in 2020 in the wake of George Floyd's murder. Did Graham or any other Republican blame those smashed windows and burned cars on Derek Chauvin and his fellow police officers? If so, I'm not aware of it.

Republicans' multiple January 6 narratives exonerate members of the party (it was a riot because of Antifa members in disguise, it was a riot because of FBI provocateurs, it was a riot because Nancy Pelosi runs the Capitol Police and wanted a riot, it actually wasn't a riot at all), but this is new: Graham is effectively admitting that his fellow Trump-lovers will be the rioters -- yet it still won't be their fault.

Graham knows, of course, that much of the mainstream commentariat agrees with him and will blame Democrats if Republicans riot. But if that's what you believe, then you should also believe George Floyd protestors were entitled to burn entire cities to the ground. The cops made them do it, right?

Sunday, August 28, 2022


I'm enjoying the trailer for the new Breitbart-backed Biden-bashing movie, My Son Hunter:

Who's the guy who's built like Donald Trump and who rants angrily like the patriarch in an HBO drama about a dynastic billionaire, and why is he talking as if he's the father of the Hunter Biden character? Oh, wait, that stout, angry guy is actually supposed to be the lean, sometimes befuddled Joe Biden. It might be fun if the real Biden were actually like this once in a while (although he's been a lot more forceful lately) -- minus the monomaniacal obsession with dealmaking. (Funny, I thought Republicans liked dealmakers, or at least romanticized that aspect of Donald Trump's biography.)

And I have the same question about the trailer that I've had for years about the GOP's Hunter Biden narrative: How can a guy who constantly looks as if he's trying to figure out what day it is and also remember what day it was when he took the pills be primarily responsible for the sinister arrangements that (a) sold out America to international globalists and (b) made his father a rich evil HBO patriarch? This Hunter doesn't seem capable of staggering to the bathroom to vomit into a toilet -- which is also my impression of the real Hunter. So I guess Dad is the evil mastermind -- the same Dad these folks think can't find his way around the White House without a dementia nurse, while some of them argue that he's being controlled by Barack Obama remotely, like a drone weapon.

According to an Andrew Kitrzman op-ed in The Washington Post, Rudy Giuliani is a believer in the Joe-Biden-as-evil-patriarch theory:
Unable to prove his case against Biden, [Giuliani] launched a harrowing campaign of character assassination. “You little slimeball, and miserable father. Hard thing is going to be not to spit in your face, the way you treat your kid, Joe,” Giuliani said on his radio show in November 2020, referring to Hunter’s addiction problems. “Instead of letting him live a life that was simple, [Joe] started to use him as a bag man to collect bribes for him,” he told RT television the same day.
Maybe I've misunderstood the GOP narrative. Maybe the real message is: We are all Hunter Biden. We'd all like to just sit around the pool and do drugs, but Evil Dad keeps forcing us to do missions on behalf of globalism. Damn you, Evil Dad! I could watch the movie and find out, but even my curioity about Right-Wing Bizarro World has limits.

Saturday, August 27, 2022


Two weeks ago, I told you about a New York Times story, written by Luke Broadwater and Michael Bender, that said Trumpist congressman Paul Gosar was among several Republicans who had backed away from attacking the FBI over the search of Mar-a-Lago:
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.)
In fact, Gosar didn't avoid the subject of the FBI search on that Friday:

And now the Times is doing it again. In a story headlined "Republicans, Once Outraged by Mar-a-Lago Search, Become Quieter as Details Emerge," Jonathan Weisman -- who wasn't one of the bylined authors of the earlier story -- tells us:
... even the most bombastic Republicans — Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Jim Jordan of Ohio — were at least initially focused elsewhere. Ms. Greene was posting on Friday about border “invasions.” Ms. Boebert noted on Twitter the anniversary of the suicide bombing of U.S. service members at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mr. Jordan was focused on an interview with Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder. None tweeted about the affidavit.
(Emphasis added.)

None tweeted about the affidavit yesterday? It's true that Marjorie Taylor Greene didn't. But here's a tweet Lauren Boebert posted last night:

And on the subject of the search:

Today, she posted this:

As for Jim Jordan, he may not have written any tweets about the affidavit yesterday, but he was still tweeting about the search:

And he was retweeting affidavit tweets from the account of the House Judiciary Committee's Republicans (Jordan is, of course, the committee's lead Republican) and from Dan Bishop, a Republican colleague on the committee:

And his fellow committee Republicans don't seem to have "become quieter":

Times reporters are so desperate to believe that the Trumpist fever is breaking that they refuse to check social media feeds in a thorough manner before confidently declaring that hardliners have backed away from pro-Trump attacks. You simply can't trust the Times on this.

Friday, August 26, 2022


I'm sure you know about this:
Federal prosecutors presented new evidence on Thursday implicating the conservative group Project Veritas in the theft of a diary and items belonging to Ashley Biden, President Biden’s daughter, laying out in court papers their fullest account yet of how allies of President Donald J. Trump tried to use the diary to undercut Mr. Biden in the final days of the 2020 campaign.

The court papers were filed in connection with the guilty pleas on Thursday of two Florida residents who admitted in federal court in Manhattan that they had stolen the diary and sold it to Project Veritas....

In their pleas, [Aimee] Harris, 40, and [Robert] Kurlander, 58, admitted they took part in a conspiracy to transport stolen materials....

Ms. Biden had left the diary at a friend’s home where she had been staying in Delray Beach, Fla., in 2020 and planned to return to retrieve it that year....

After Ms. Biden left, her friend allowed Ms. Harris, who was in a bitter custody dispute and struggling financially, to stay at the home. Ms. Harris learned that Ms. Biden had been living there and found her belongings, including the diary, in August.

She told Mr. Kurlander, who texted her that they could make a lot of money from the diary and family photos she had also found among Ms. Biden’s belongings. Mr. Kurlander ... then informed a Trump supporter and fund-raiser, Elizabeth Fago.

Ms. Harris and Mr. Kurlander took the diary to a Trump fund-raiser at Ms. Fago’s home, where it was passed around....

... Ms. Fago ultimately helped direct Ms. Harris and Mr. Kurlander to Project Veritas.
In news reports about the theft and sale of the diary, Elizabeth Fago is usually described as a wealthy Trump donor. But she's so much more. Here's a 2018 Palm Beach Post story written when a Fago company was, according to her, struggling to find the money to pay workers:
On a Tuesday in April, executives at NuVista Living at Wellington Green held meetings with anxious employees, hoping to calm fears and explain why paychecks had been late, held back or bounced in recent months.

Officials at the luxury rehabilitation and senior living facility blamed payroll problems on two factors: a delayed Medicare payment and a shortfall from an investment partner. NuVista officials, including chairwoman Elizabeth Fago, promised the workers they would be paid that coming Friday.

Then Fago, who lives in a $7 million home on the Intracoastal Waterway in Jupiter, told employees something else.

“I’d like to say a prayer for every one of us, that we not only make it to Friday, but we make it,” Fago said. “Pray as deepest and hardest as you ever have.”

The employees, some of whom are low-paid nursing assistants, formed a circle, held hands and prayed.
Shamelessness -- it's every Republican's superpower.

The leader of the vigil is a feisty, politically connected entrepreneur who was once a national nursing home magnate.

... Fago’s payroll company, owned with her son, Paul Walczak, owes a stunning $8.3 million in liens to the IRS for back payroll taxes....

NuVista investors and an investor in another venture, however, are in large part getting paid — at least $24 million since 2015, according to court records.

But life has been much more tenuous for the 400 full- and part-time employees at NuVista Living....

Not only have employees worried about getting their paychecks on time, off and on during the past six months, their health-care premiums weren’t always paid on time, workers said, forcing them to check with their insurance company before they saw a doctor.

As her payroll company fell behind in taxes, Fago contributed $26,209 to federal and state political organizations and candidates from 2014 to October 2016, according to the Federal Elections Commission and Florida Division of Elections. This includes $10,000 in October 2016 to Trump Victory, a joint fund-raising committee for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and Republican committees. Other contributions went to Gov. Rick Scott and Jeb Bush....
This is a pattern for Fago: giving to Florida Republicans and cheating everyone else, including the IRS. The Palm Beach Post spotted the pattern in 2004, when then-governor Jeb Bush put Fago on the board of a Florida research institute:
She and her companies have made gifts to Republican causes totaling at least $400,000 since 2001. She co-hosts fund-raising parties that rake in $400,000 a night and is closing in on the $1 million mark as a fund-raiser, making her a key player in the reelection campaigns of Republicans such as President Bush and U.S. Reps. Katherine Harris and Mark Foley.

... [But the] Palm Beach Post has found through public records that the Internal Revenue Service filed liens against her nine times to recoup unpaid income taxes. The last of these liens was cleared in May 2000, when Fago paid $75,000 she had owed for 15 years.

Fago also has been a defendant in at least 35 lawsuits brought by local residents, a landlord, merchants, lawyers, doctors, partners, an employee and financial services companies - primarily for nonpayment and breach of contract.

She also had some bumps in her personal life. For a time, she was married to a man who was a key figure in one of the largest, best organized drug gangs in Palm Beach County history.

She [told a reporter] said she had no contact with the man, Milton Keith Pinder, when he was running dope from the islands. According to court records, federal authorities nabbed Pinder for crimes committed between June 1983 and November 1985. He and Fago wed in June 1985. What Fago says she didn't know was that Pinder was part of the Pinder Cartel - a marijuana- and cocaine-importing gang brought down after a two-year investigation that reached as far as Pablo Escobar's empire in Colombia. Pinder pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was in jail until 1993.
But perhaps a charming personality leads people to ignore these ethical failings ... or maybe not:
As is the case with many people who work their way into the limelight, Fago has accumulated her share of detractors. One of them is a fellow member of the Palm Beach County Health Care District Board, the local panel that runs health care for the indigent. Jeb Bush appointed Fago to that board in 2002.

"Betsy is the Leona Helmsley of South Florida," the board member said, referring to the New York City hotelier famous for making employees cry and declaring that paying taxes was for "the little people."

"When you see her coming to meetings with a rhinestone-encrusted cellphone on which she makes loud calls about which politician should or should not be allowed on her jet, you feel like saying: 'We work for poor people. Why are you rubbing your wealth in their faces?'"

The board member, who asked to remain anonymous because of Fago's clout, called her "imperious." Fago herself admitted in a Post interview that some of the 120 employees at her company's headquarters on PGA Boulevard have taken to calling her "The Queen."
In 2013, when Governor Rick Scott named her to the board of Florida Atlantic University, the Broward-Palm Beach New Times called her "a bizarre melding of Zsa Zsa Gabor and Cruella deVille." And this appeared in the Palm Beach Sun:
Have you heard about..........The “most despised woman in Palm Beach” Elizabeth Fago Smith being named to the FAU Board of Trustees by Gov Rick Scott, thanks to her donations to his re-election campaign. Fago is based in PB Gardens and was married to Keith Pinder, a convicted drug cartel smuggler. When Palm Beach A-listers walk into a room and see her, they walk out, then send a note to the host to not invite them again if Fago will be there. Fago has been a defendant in dozens of lawsuits brought against her by local merchants, doctors, lawyers, business partners & employees.
In a horrifying way, Fago and Trump seem like an ideal match, as do Fago and James O'Keefe. These are the people who ran America until recently, and may run it again soon.

Thursday, August 25, 2022


The Editorial Board's John Stoehr has a theory about the midterms:
What if, and stay with me here – what if Donald Trump’s constant lying about the 2020 election being stolen by Joe Biden and the Democrats is, um, good for democracy?

... Here are two items I saw Tuesday night as primary election results came in. The first came from Dave Wasserman, the Cook Political Report’s editor for House elections. There’s “lots of focus on Dems being more engaged/energetic post-Dobbs, which is undeniably true,” he said. “But to me, the GOP/Trump base appears less engaged than it was last November, which is just as big a part of the story.”

The second came from NBC News’ Ben Collins, who covers the paranoid-delusional fringe. He said that, “A lot of users in pro-Trump forums have fundamentally given up on voting. Shockingly, constantly saying every election bigger than a headcount is rigged has had a deleterious effect on voter turnout in national races.”

Collins cited a chat forum titled: “I’m telling you, we would win EVERY ELECTION in the country if the Democrats didn’t cheat.”
Stoehr's point: Maybe Trump's Big Lie really has a significant number of Republicans not turning out to vote.
The more Trump lies about rigged elections, the more his followers believe him. The more elections are lost to Democratic candidates, the more rigged every election seems.

But instead of doing something about it, as you’d expect, what if they’re losing hope.

... Why vote, organize, protest and debate when it’s hopeless?
I'm not sure I believe this. But what if it's true? What if some of these folks, whether they know it or not, don't even want to win anymore? What if they're so addicted to grievance that grievance is now what they enjoy most?

George W. Bush had "Mission Accomplished" and the death of Saddam. His father had the mini-war in Panama and the first Iraq War. Ronald Reagan had Grenada and "Morning in America." All those were moments of triumph, if fleeting ones in some cases, for Republican presidents.

The Trump presidency, by contrast, was primarily a four-year airing of grievances. Republicanism since then has been an orgy of grievance -- not just the 2020 election, but inflation, Antifa, the border "invasion," bail reform, Big Tech "shadow banning," COVID lockdowns (which ended a couple of years ago), trans rights, CRT, DEI, ESG ... the list is endless. That's what you hear from Republican politicians. That's what you hear from Fox News. For Republican voters, grievance is entertainment.

What if many of them don't even care if they win anymore? What if grievance is such a great drug that they're in no hurry to be weaned off it?

That might be a lot to hope for. But maybe it's happening.


I know that Beltway pundits have been double- and triple-booking space on fainting couches ever since Democrats decided to run ads for a few of the most extreme Republican candidates during the primaries, in the belief that those candidates would be easier to beat. (So far, polls suggest that most of them are quite beatable.) But a story about a fight within the GOP suggests that Democrats could try another ratfuck, this time targeted at Republican voters in the general election:
Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as “a pawn for the Democrats” and said he should “immediately” be replaced.

Trump, who soured on McConnell after the Senate leader condemned Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and acknowledged President Joe Biden’s election victory, has renewed his attacks since last week, when McConnell gave a downbeat assessment of his party’s prospects of winning Senate control in the November election....

“Mitch McConnell is not an Opposition Leader, he is a pawn for the Democrats to get whatever they want,” Trump said in a statement on his Truth Social platform. “He is afraid of them, and will not do what has to be done. A new Republican Leader in the Senate should be picked immediately!”

Trump also tore into McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao, who resigned as Trump’s transportation secretary days after the Capitol riot. Trump cited an article in the conservative outlet The Federalist reporting the couple have been using their positions to make money in China.

Over the weekend, Trump bashed McConnell as a “broken down hack” and said he should spend more time and money helping GOP candidates than “helping his crazy wife and family get rich on China!”

Trump allies. including Fox News personality Sean Hannity, also took swipes at McConnell, accusing him of abandoning his own party’s candidates.
Okay, here's where the potential ratfuck comes in:
A cash-rich Super PAC linked to McConnell will spend $156 million after Labor day across eight states to boost candidates.
Trump and Hannity's anger at McConnell reinforces the belief many GOP voters have that McConnell is in the same category as John McCain, George W. Bush, and Mitt Romney: people who look to the rest of us like rock-solid Republicans, but who are seen by the MAGA faithful as RINOs, Republicans who are no better than the hated Democrats.

For that reason, in each of the states where McConnell's PAC is spending, Democrats should run ads targeted at GOP voters, especially online, that show McConnell's candidate next to McConnell -- or, better yet, next to McConnell and his wife -- accompanied by, in huge letters, the words ENDORSED BY MITCH McCONNELL.

Democrats wouldn't be saying anything low or underhanded about these candidates. They'd just be stating a fact. And while including Chao in the ad opens up Democrats to charges of racism, I don't think there's a need to say anything negative about her, or to make her look sinister. Just pick an ordinary photo of McConnell and Chao, maybe even one that's flattering to her. (I don't think it's theoretically possible to find a photo that's flattering to McConnell.)

McConnell is widely disliked. According to the Real Clear Politics average, he's at 25.8% favorable, 57% unfavorable nationwide. In the most recent poll that included a question about him, from Politico and Morning Consult, McConnell had a 20% favorable rating and a 60% unfavorable rating. Amond conservatives, he's at 35%/49%; among moderates, the numbers are an abysmal 14%/62%.

So put him in ads, Democrats. Republicans have been putting Nancy Pelosi in attack ads for many years. Why not return the favor, either as a direct attack or a clever ratfuck?

Wednesday, August 24, 2022


The results of yesterday's elections brought good news about some terrible candidates. Scott Esk, the candidate for the Oklahoma House of Representatives who said it would be "totally just" to kill gay people by stoning, lost his race (though he did get 42% of the vote). Jarrin Jackson, the Oklahoma state Senate candidate who included "the Jews" as evidence that "evil exists," and who was endorsed by Kari Lake, the Trumpist Evita wannabe running for governor of Arizona, lost his race as well (but he got 46% of the vote). Luis Miguel, the Florida state House candidate who was banned from Twitter after tweeting, “Under my plan, all Floridians will be able to shoot FBI, IRS, ATF, and all other federal troops on sight," lost his race (he got 23% of the vote).

Racist Carl Paladino lost a primary for the U.S. House in western New York State (barely). Laura Loomer, the Muslim-bashing conspiacy theorist, lost a primary for a Florida seat in the U.S. House (also barely).

On the other hand, 25 of 30 school board candidates endorsed by Ron DeSantis won in Florida, which is clearly bad news. Democrats need to pay a lot more attention to these races.

And in Florida, this candidate won a congressional primary:

That's Anna Paulina Luna. The photos are taken from a 2020 Gateway Pundit post celebrating her primary victory that year. Luna went on to lose the general election that year (to Charlie Crist, who won the Democratic gubernatorial primary yesterday); her district, Florida-13, has since been redrawn and is now rated R+6 by the Cook Political Report, so she's favored to win the general election this time around.

Here's a description of a bonkers ad she ran in 2020:
The nearly 3-minute ad features three GOP congressional candidates, as well as the former NRA spokesperson, [Dana Loesch,] together coined the “RedState Warriors,”

... the narrator begins the ad by depicting the “armies of the left,” hyperbolically illustrating groups as “Marxists,” “The Ecofreaks,” “The Pink Hats,” “The Wokes” and “The Sore Losers,” nodding to Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 Election.

In between each’s seemingly villainous introduction, footage of burning buildings and protests flash.

“Death to America, burn it to the ground,” a group in the commercial shouts in their “introduction,” wearing all black.

Then, the mood shifts.

In a heroic tone, the narrator announces, “And these are the ‘RedState Warriors’.”

They slip on their leather jackets, garnished with a red “W,” back turned to the camera....

Then, a red Camaro with white stripes pulls up. Luna steps out in an action movie-like style, flipping her perfectly kept hair as she exits the vehicle.

She pulls a gun with an American flag paint job out of the trunk, straps it to her back. But that’s not all. She has a flamethrower, too. And she’s using it.

Shots of Luna with the flamethrower continue in the montage, while the Republican candidate has a dialogue with the narrator.

The narrator starts, “Anna Paulina Luna, GOP congressional candidate in Florida’s 13th District. The LatinX—”

Luna cuts him off. “Hold up, it’s LatinA, announcer dude.” “Sorry,” the announcer responds, and continues her introduction.


She's toned it down a smidge in 2022:

But of course she touts endorsements by Donald Trump, Charlie Kirk, Jim Jordan, Newt Gingrich, and Lauren Boebert. Yes, it would be quite annoying to have her in Congress. Let's hope she's beatable.


Shockingly, the conventional wisdom right now is Democrats in array.
It would have been easy to write Nebraska off as a fluke, after Democrats ran better than expected in a House race there last month. But then came Minnesota, where Democrats again beat expectations. And then, in New York on Tuesday, the dam broke.

“Well, shit,” one Republican strategist texted late Tuesday, as results from a Hudson Valley special election filtered in.

It would have been a victory for Democrats if they’d even kept it close. Instead, Democrat Pat Ryan beat Republican Marc Molinaro in a district that Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020, but that would have appeared to favor Republicans in a normal midterm climate.

Overall, on the last major primary night of the year, the winds appeared to be shifting in Democrats’ favor.
Here's an exchange on this between an election analyst and a local pol from Pennsylvania:

Yes, we were repeatedly told to BEWARE THE MIGHTY WRATH OF THE WRONGED TRUMP VOTER!!! And nothing happened. In many races, these voters didn't turn out.

The old conventional wisdom was: Democrats fall in love. Republicans fall in line. The 2016 and 2020 elections strongly suggested that the reverse is true now: In both years, Democrats nominated a candidate whom many of the party's voters didn't love, while Republicans were besotted.

(Democrats nominated Walter Mondale in 1984, Mike Dukakis in 1988, Al Gore in 2000, and John Kerry in 2004, so love has often not been the driving force on the Democratic side.)

In this year's election, I suspect that Democrats are voting for the party -- the party of abortion rights, the party of democracy, the party opposed to gun extremism and demonization of people who aren't straight white males. Republicans seem to be looking for someone to love: Trump, Ron DeSantis (who didn't have an opponent in yesterday's Florida primary), or some Trump or DeSantis substitute. There may be some love for a few of the Trump- and DeSantis-endorsed extremists, but for the most part there's no one on the ballot this year who makes GOP voters' hearts go pitty-pat.

Maybe that will change between now and November. But I think Democrats might be better positioned because they're voting on issues, not emotions. The 2024 presidential election will probably be different, alas -- Republicans will have two objects of affection fighting for their hand. (How romantic!) But for now, Democrats are the realists and Republicans appear to be lovelorn.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022


Liz Cheney clearly wants to run against Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential race, either in the GOP primaries or as an independent in the general election. Last week I said a Cheney third-party run would be a terrible idea:
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.
And it appears I was right:
... a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that if Cheney were to run for president as an independent in 2024, she could ... single-handedly swing the election to Trump....

It found that if the 2024 election were held today — and if it were a one-on-one rematch between President Biden and Trump — Biden would lead by 4 points among registered voters, 46% to 42%.

But in a three-way race with Cheney on the ballot as an independent, Trump would suddenly vault to an 8-point lead over Biden, 40% to 32%.

In that scenario, Cheney trails with just 11% of the vote. The problem for Biden is that nearly all of Cheney’s votes come at his expense — and there are enough of them, in theory, to put Trump over the top.

But what about a Cheney run in the Republican primaries? Last week on Twitter, I predicted that she wouldn't even crack 5% versus Trump and Ron DeSantis. Well, I was close:
In a hypothetical three-way GOP primary contest, just 6% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they would support Cheney.

According to the poll, her presence in the primary would do nothing to diminish Trump’s substantial odds of securing the nomination. One on one, Trump laps Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by 18 points (49% to 31%); with Cheney on the ballot, the former president still leads by the exact same margin (50% to 32%).
So a Cheney presidential run, of either variety, is a bad idea. But what other lessons can we take away from this poll? Here's one: Every mainstream pundit who talks about ideological extremism as if it's an equal problem in the Democratic and Republican parties is completely uninformed about the nature of the actual Democratic Party:
Needless to say, Cheney’s outspoken opposition to Trump has not endeared her to rank-and-file Republicans (who mostly still support the former president). Just 18% of them now hold a favorable opinion of her, according to the poll. A full 61% view Cheney unfavorably.

The opposite is true, however, among Democrats. Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) now rate Cheney favorably, while just 18% express an unfavorable opinion — remarkable numbers for a lifelong Republican who was best known, until recently, for her staunch social conservatism and hawkish foreign-policy views.

As a result, Democrats are surprisingly supportive of a Cheney presidential bid, with roughly equal numbers saying yes (30%) and no (33%) when asked if she should run in 2024. Republicans are against the idea by an overwhelming 70%-to-10% margin.
Pundits who want to bothsides every issue by portraying the average Democrat as a police-defunding, ICE-abolishing, pronoun-obsessed wokeness Nazi -- because they need to believe Democrats are as far to the left as Republicans are to the right -- grossly misrepresent typical Democrats. Frankly, I wish Democratic voters were a bit more ideological. But this is who Democrats are. Many of them have fallen head over heels for Cheney, and far too many of them would choose her over Biden. So remember this poll the next time you read a self-righteous op-ed that includes the phrase "extremists on both sides."


When I saw this, it worried me:

David Jolly is a Trump -bashing former Republican congressman whose Serve America Movement has now been merged into Andrew Yang's Forward Party. Jolly's speculation that Cheney might run for president in 2024 as an independent -- he doesn't say so, but I imagine the Forward Party would love to sign her up as a candidate -- led me to worry that this has become her plan, which would be a disaster because she'd take moderate votes from the Democrats and take very few votes from the Republicans. That might guarantee Donald Trump's election.

But a story from CNBC suggests to me that she has high-priced benefactors who believe she could really pull off a kamikaze mission in the GOP primaries.
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney has amassed a group of political consultants with ties to ... the expansive Koch network as she mulls a run for the White House after losing in the GOP primary for her Wyoming House seat....

Billionaire and conservative political backer Charles Koch is helping Cheney through i360, a data and technology company owned by his conglomerate, Koch Industries, according to financial database PitchBook and Federal Election Commission filings.

The filing shows two PACs, Conservatives for a Strong America and Wyomingites Defending Freedom and Democracy, paid i360 to help deploy pro-Cheney ads through text messages....

A nonprofit partially funded by Charles Koch, Americans for Prosperity, paid $11 million to i360 for data services, according to the nonprofit’s 2020 tax disclosure.
What does the Koch network want? Republican governance forever. But not just with any Republican president -- as the story notes, relations between Koch World and Trump aren't good. Trump is too flaky and self-obsessed to be the methodical advocate for the plutocracy the Koch network wants. So I assume Team Koch is helping Cheney in the hope that the mainstream media is right and she really can take down Trump in the primaries, in order to clear the field for Ron DeSantis or some other Republican who'll be more electable, and who'll work tirelessly as president to make the rich richer.

Yes, the mainstream media also (foolishly) believes that a general-election third-party campaign by Cheney could take down Trump if he's the nominee because Cheney's a Republican and is sure to take Republican votes from Trump. But even if Koch World is naive enough to believe that, the result would be a victory by (shudder!) the Democrats. That's not acceptable in Koch World.

So I suspect Cheney's plan is to run in the Republican primaries. She won't take down Trump -- her attacks could actually make him more popular with the GOP base -- but if this is her strategy, then at least she won't be helping Trump win in November.

Monday, August 22, 2022


To many of us, Herschel Walker seems like a train wreck of a Senate candidate -- but even though he's trailing incumbent Raphael Warnock in the polls, he's keeping the race a lot closer than Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania or Blake Masters in Arizona.

There's one obvious reason for this: Georgia is in the South and Walker is a former college football star. That gets you to 45% in the polls all by itself.

But another reason is that ignorance doesn't offend Republican voters, many of whom regard it as wisdom. They've felt this way for decades.

So today we're talking about this:
In an appearance Sunday, according to an account by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Walker reiterated his opposition to the Inflation Reduction Act, signed by Biden last week, that invests in curbing global warming, among other things.

“They continue to try to fool you that they are helping you out. But they’re not,” Walker said. “Because a lot of money, it’s going to trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?”
That won't upset Republican voters any more than they were upset in 1966 when Ronald Reagan, the greatest Republican hero of the modern era (at least until Donald Trump came along), said:
... we’ve got to recognize that where the preservation of a natural resource like the redwoods is concerned, that there is a common sense limit. I mean, if you’ve looked at a hundred thousand acres or so of trees — you know, a tree is a tree, how many more do you need to look at?
Republican voters hate environmentalism, and really hate the kinds of people who favor it. They think we're know-it-alls. They think we consider ourselves smarter than everyone else. So Walker's simple-minded dismissal of environmentalism won't make these voters wince. It will make them cheer.

Reagan also said, "Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do," and repeatedly insisted that they're responsible for nearly all nitrogen oxide pollution. (He was wrong.) Republicans just want to hear that their enemies are wrong and they never have to do anything they don't want to do. Reagan gave them the reassurances they wanted and he's still revered as a result. Herschel Walker talks the same way, so we really shouldn't assume that he can't win.


In The New York Times, Damon Linker argues against prosecuting Donald Trump, saying that it can't possibly end well:
There is no scenario following from the present that culminates in a happy ending for anyone, even for Democrats.

Down one path is the prosecution of the former president. This would be a Democratic administration putting the previous occupant of the White House, the ostensible head of the Republican Party and the current favorite to be the G.O.P. presidential nominee in 2024, on trial. That would set an incredibly dangerous precedent. Imagine, each time the presidency is handed from one party to the other, an investigation by the new administration’s Justice Department leads toward the investigation and possible indictment of its predecessor.
For Democrats, this is different from the past only in degree. While in office, Bill Clinton had to contend with the Paula Jones case, the Whitewater investigation, and the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to impeachment (and that's an incomplete list). Barack Obama faced multiple Benghazi investigations, as well as investigations into the ATF's Fast and Furious program and into supposed targeting of conservative groups by the IRS. Republicans, if they win one or both houses of Congress in the midterms, now promise to spend two years investigating Hunter Biden, various mythical COVID scandals, and Democratic immigration policy. The only difference between all that and Linker's nightmare scenario is that Linker presents the possibility that a Democratic president might go to jail.

Hold that thought. I'll get back to it.

Linker believes we should let the political process decide Trump's fate -- let him run in 2024. He thinks we can tough it out:
But we’ve been through a version of the turbulent Trump experience before. During the Trump years, the system passed its stress test. We have reason to think it would do so again, especially with reforms to the Electoral Count Act likely to pass during the lame duck session following the upcoming midterm elections, if not before.
Linker thinks the guardrails held and will continue to hold. Yet he warns against prosecuting Trump for legitimate crimes because he thinks it will inevitably lead to efforts to prosecute Joe Biden on illegitimate charges. But if the system ultimately works and guardrails are still in place, then why shouldn't Biden's response to the possibility of malicious prosecution be "Bring it on"?

If the system still works, as Linker insists, then we ought to be able to rely on responsible federal judges and juries to recognize the fact that a politicized Trump or DeSantis Justice Depatment has no case against Biden. We ought to be able to trust that non-Republican citizens will recognize the fakery in the government's case, and will turn against the GOP in subsequent elections.

If we can't count on that -- if the system might send Biden to prison even though he's innocent, and voters might not punish the Republican party at the ballot box for prosecutorial malice -- then we have a much larger problem on our hands. In that case, the guardrails aren't holding.

Which means it would be insane to give the GOP -- the party of guardrail destruction -- a free pass right now. The system is already severely damaged. Let's not damage it even more by effectively handing Trump a blanket pardon for all past and future federal crimes.

Sunday, August 21, 2022


NBC News recently recently published a piece by Sarah Mullens about her mother, who's been an Alex Jones fan since Jones's public-access broadcasts in the 1990s. Mullens writes:
... my mother has found purpose and intellectual stimulation through her fervent following of Jones. Even as he backpedaled on the witness stand during his defamation trial in Texas and a jury ordered him to pay $50 million to the parents of a Sandy Hook victim for the lies he spread about the massacre, even as Jones faces another defamation case in Connecticut, she calls for a Nuremberg 2.0 to try the forces behind Covid-19 vaccines, which Jones’ site claims are a weapon of genocide.
The reference to "Nurenberg 2.0" got my attention because I've run across the idea recently -- but not in connection to Jones. Steve Deace, a former Iowa talk radio host who became an operative on Ted Cruz's 2016 presidential campaign and later went to work as a host on Glenn Beck's network, The Blaze, has a book coming out in 2023 titled Rise of the Fourth Reich: Confronting COVID Fascism with a New Nuremberg Trial, So This Never Happens Again. The book will be published by Post Hill Press and distributed by Simon & Schuster; the S&S website tells us:
COVID-19 was used to launch the worst tyranny in American history, which we’re still facing even now. It was also the worst oppression in global history since the Third Reich. Just as that evil required a reckoning at Nuremberg, this one does as well. In this Nuremberg 2.0, we call witnesses that our elected representatives and law enforcement agents need to hear from in order to know the full extent of the evil, and who is responsible for it—so that this never happens again.
Based on advance orders -- yes, possibly bulk buys -- the book reached #28 on the Amazon bestseller list last week.

But the "Nuremberg 2.0" idea didn't originate in America. It appears to have started in Germany. Last year, Jessica Bateman of Vice News wrote about Reiner Fuellmich, a German lawyer who spread the idea:
Fuellmich isn’t a familiar name to most people. But for many of those sucked into conspiracy theories around COVID-19, he has become one of the most influential figures in the world. Thousands of people worldwide are clinging to the fantasy that he will soon be leading a major prosecution of world leaders, scientists and journalists, placing them on trial for “crimes against humanity” for their role in supposedly engineering a false pandemic.

His followers believe these trials will carry global historical significance, so much so that they’ve become known as “Nuremberg 2.0” in reference to the trials of Nazi leaders that took place after World War 2....

This push for a “Nuremberg 2.0” is gaining traction within the increasingly-interconnected global anti-lockdown scene.... mentions of the term in German Telegram groups jumped from virtually zero to over 1,000 a day in April. The term trended on Twitter in the UK this summer, and in August, a man interrupted a police press conference in Sydney, Australia, shouting “Nuremberg 2.0”.

A Facebook group, in which Fuellmich’s supporters encourage people to contact their local police about the claims made in his videos, gained more than 17,000 members before being removed by Facebook as a result of inquiries by VICE World News.
Facebook may have removed that site, but here's an Italian "Nuremberg 2.0" Facebook group that appears to be active. Big Tech seems quite tolerant of the "Nuremberg 2.0" idea. Here are many videos on YouTube. Here's Audible (Amazon) hosting a radio broadcast with Bret Barker, who's a member of the COVID conspiracy group America's Frontline Doctors and who is described as "CEO Nuremberg 2.0 Ltd." Here's a Dutch Instagram site with the tagline "Nuremberg 2.0." Here's a podcast called "Nuremberg 2.0" at Apple Podcasts. Many mainstream sites even host a song called "Crimes Against Humanity," on which Fuellmich's words are heard over a techno-jazz dance beat.

So yes, you can find a 2021 broadcast in which Alex Jones interviewed Francis Boyle, a law professor who believes the coronavirus is a bioweapon, on "the next steps of Nuremberg 2.0 and Fauci's arrest." You can find "Nuremberg 2.0" invoked in a March 2022 Jones interview with Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, whose proposal for treating COVID with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc impressed Rudy Giuliani and others in Trumpworld in the early days of the pandemic. (Zelenko died of lung cancer at the age of 48 a few months after the interview.) But Jones is only one of the people pushing this idea.

There are some people worldwide who believed last year that the Nuremberg 2.0 trial was already underway. A couple of Facebook users from the Republic of Georgia were among those spreading the rumor that the trial was happening. So this is an idea that's global. It would continue to spread even if Alex Jones went silent tomorrow.

Saturday, August 20, 2022


Mitch McConnell is worried that his candidates in the midterms won't win the Senate for the GOP. Jonathan Chait thinks McConnell himself is to blame:
Having driven out [Liz Cheney,] the one member of their party who fought back against Donald Trump’s election lies, Republicans find themselves mystified that election liars are taking over. What is fascinating is that the party’s mainstream wing sees no connection between these two things at all.

... When Trump refused to concede defeat, McConnell went along, saying, “A few legal inquiries from the president do not exactly spell the end of the republic.” For a few days during and after the insurrection, Republicans were prepared to make a break with Trump, but quickly reconsidered. One week after the insurrection, on January 13, Axios reported that McConnell still leaned toward impeaching Trump, but his allies were “divided whether to do it with one quick kill via impeachment, or let him slowly fade away.”

... The party Establishment decided to treat Trump’s coup as a minor detail they could put to the side. Confronting the insurrection would open a damaging schism within the party. They expected the party to work together in an authoritarian-led coalition.

... one completely foreseeable consequence of the party’s decision to cede the argument over 2020 to Trump is that it has allowed Trump to retain his influence.

... If Republican voters believe the 2020 election was stolen, of course they are going to demand their party nominate candidates who will stop it. Why would they even consider “moving on” from a historical crime so profound?
I'm not in the habit of defending Mitch McConnell or the rest of the GOP establishment, but they were right: Confronting the insurrection would have opened a damaging schism within the party. The notion that Republican voters would simply shrug and accept a Senate conviction in Trump's impeachment trial, especially if the Senate declared him ineligible to run for office again, is ludicrous.

What's happening to Republicans now is the culmination of a Republican strategy that goes back decades, to a period well before Trump entered politics. Starting in the late twentieth century, Republicans decided that their best path to power was demonizing their political enemies -- Democrats mostly, but also "RINOs" -- at every opportunity. They eventually mastered the art of gerrymandering, maximizing not only the number of Republican House districts in America but also constructing those districts so that few would be truly competitive under any circumstances. That meant that they could win House seats without appealing to moderates. All they needed to do was throw the reddest of red meat at the base.

At the same time, they ceded control of their messaging to Fox News, talk radio, right-wing megachurch preachers, and conspiratorialist websites. They went all in on compromise-averse extremism.

This is a fine strategy if you've constructed a lot of House districts with 57% Republican registration. In those districts, hard-right demagoguery is the right messaging strategy. But it doesn't work well for candidates running across entire purple states.

At this point, Republican voters are addicted to extremism. That's why most of them can't quit Trump, and why the ones who have expressed a willingness to quit him have shifted their allegiance to another authoritarian extremist, Ron DeSantis. The party continues to pursue extremism, often in ways that don't reference Trump. DeSantis and others have declared war on "wokeness," critical race theory, and trans people. Republicans on the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Fox News can't quite commit to abandoning Trump, while its top star, Tucker Carlson, openly embraces white nationalism and Viktor Orban's fascism.

Maybe McConnell could have headed this off by voting to convict Trump in the second impeachment trial and urging his senators to do the same. If Trump had been convicted, ,aybe GOP voters would have licked their wounds and gone on to nominate a collection of Lisa Murkowski clones.

But I doubt it. I think voter outrage and right-wing media rabble-rousing would have driven McConnell from his leadership job. A backlash like the one against George W. Bush's pursuit of immigration reform would have punished pro-conviction Republicans and pushed the party right back in Trump's direction, even if he'd been banned from electoral politics. Republicans voters are intolerant of moderation and compromise. They can't be talked down. The only way we'll ever neutralize them is to outvote them.

Friday, August 19, 2022


A candidate for state legislature in Florida has gotten himself banned from Twitter -- deservedly, but in all likelihood deliberately. Florida Politics reports:
A Republican candidate for the House from St. Augustine is spending the final days of the Primary campaign suspended from Twitter after advocating violence against the federal government.

Republican Luis Miguel, running against incumbent Rep. Bobby Payne of Palatka in the redrawn House District 20, was suspended from Twitter after a tweet advocating that Floridians should be able to shoot federal agents on sight.

“Under my plan, all Floridians will be able to shoot FBI, IRS, ATF, and all other federal troops on sight,” Miguel tweeted. “Let freedom ring.”

Miguel told Florida Politics Friday the suspension, which is “permanent” per a message he got on his Twitter app, “doesn’t affect (him) at all.” He stands by the proposal, which he says is justified because the IRS has been “weaponized by dissident forces.”

When Miguel says the Twitter ban “doesn’t affect (him) at all,” I think what he really means is that he hopes it will affect his campaign in a positive way. His primary is Tuesday, and as the Florida Politics story notes, he's facing long odds in his effort to beat the incumbent.
Miguel raised just over $4,000 as a candidate, meaning social media was key to his messaging. Payne raised nearly $140,000 in hard money and has not needed to spend it against his challenger. He had more than $110,000 on hand as of Aug. 5.
Threatening U.S. government officials is a felony, although, arguably, an assertion that it should be legal under state law to shoot federal agents is more of a policy statement than a threat. (I don't think even Florida Republicans are ready to embrace this idea, though the notion that federal law enforcement should be unwelcome in the states, or at least should defer to county sheriffs, is increasingly popular on the right, so I won't be surprised to see a serious challenge to the feds' ability to function in at least one or two states that are deep red. Would a GOP-dominated Supreme Court say that was okay? At this point, who knows?)

Miguel's Instagram page is still up, as are a Facebook page and a Facebook group. The message in the tweet that got him banned from Twitter doesn't appear on those pages, but he does call for the arrest and execution of Bill Gates. (Gates's capital crime is supporting legislation Miguel doesn't like.)

He also wants the chairman of the World Economic forum executed:

He says running a drag queen story hour should be punishable by life imprisonment, and he also thinks IRS agents and executives of entertainment companies that produce LGBTQ-positive content should be arrested:

He also says he wants to get rid of the dollar, and "break all ties with Washington," which sounds a lot like secession to me:

Miguel writes for The New American, a magazine published by the John Birch Society. (Yes, they're still around.) In one of his pieces, he says that doctors who perform abortions and women who have them should be charged with murder.

Miguel's LinkedIn page says he's "authored hundreds of SEO-friendly content pieces for clients like eTech360,, DeWalt, and" Unless it's a bizarre, sustained bit of performance art, I think Miguel's "can you believe I'm this extreme?" is also an effort at creating optimized content, right-wing style: He's hoping that taking the most extreme positions imaginable will get him attention and votes without the expenditure of money he doesn't have. It seems not to be working, so I think he tried to up the ante in the week before Election Day by getting himself thrown off Twitter.

I think Miguel is a cynic, but just think about how depraved our culture is if this even seems like a pathway to electoral success. Miguel's main Facebook page has 11,000 followers, none of whom apparently thought it was a problem worth reporting when Miguel called for the execution of Klaus Schwab and Bill Gates. Much of the Republican electorate thinks the most batshit insane right-wing proposals sound perfectly reasonable, and the rest might not agree but don't think they're at all objectionable. That's America in 2022.