Tuesday, December 13, 2022


When I started blogging twenty years ago, I believed that the right-wing propaganda machine was a cynical means to an end: The people who said that Democrats want to turn America into a communist dictatorship after stealing multiple elections through widespread voter fraud with the help of a monolithically left-wing media didn't actually believe what they were saying -- it was disinformation intended to stir up the rabble and keep them voting Republican. Now, as I read the Talking Points Memo series based on text exchanges after the 2020 election between then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and other coup plotters, I'm reminded that a large number of Republican officeholders are high on their own supply. They're part of the rabble that believes the nonsense their propaganda outlets peddle.

The TPM series is based on messages that were never intended to go public. Among themselves, the texters didn't have to sound like people who truly believed in the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy. They could have just discussed the election as a contest in which they wanted to prevail by any means necessary. Some did discuss it that way. Then there was South Carolina congressman Ralph Norman, who sent this text to Meadows:
Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of � no return � in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!
And Texas congressman Brian Babin:
Mark, When we lose Trump we lose our Republic. Fight like hell and find a way. We’re with you down here in Texas and refuse to live under a corrupt Marxist dictatorship. Liberty! Babin
Here's Norman again:
Guys, if there was ever a time to stand with our leader who has strengthened our military, stood for life for the unborn, supported Israel, built the wall , appointed conservative judges ect. And we lay down and abandon him JUST BECAUSE THE BIASED MEDIA HAS CALL THE ELECTION?? ... I will go anywhere anytime to help our cause.
Did they sincerely believe their own election conspiracy theories? Pennsylvania congressman Scott Pery, who later became chairmain of the House Freedom Caucus, certainly seemed to believe:
On Nov. 8, 2020, the day after Biden was projected as the winner of the election, Perry texted Meadows and urged him to connect with Sidney Powell, the firebrand far-right attorney. Powell would go on to pin Trump’s defeat on a communist conspiracy masterminded by deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. In messages with other contacts, Meadows, who entertained some conspiracy theories about the vote, indicated that Powell’s ideas were too far-fetched even for him. Perry seemingly had no such doubts and pressed Meadows, “please do not delay in speaking” with Powell.

... On the morning of Nov. 12, he sent a flurry of messages to Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). Perry’s download to the pair began with a rambling 501-word, six-part strategy for challenging the vote in Pennsylvania that Perry said he was forwarding from a legislator in the state....

“People think Dominion software was hacked,” the lengthy text said, referencing a voting machine company that was central to many 2020 conspiracies....

Perry followed that message up by sending Meadows and Jordan what he described as a tip received “from an intel friend.”

“DNI needs to task NSA to immediately seize and begin looking for international comms related to Dominion – was china malware involved?” Perry wrote....

Perry appeared to be convinced there had been foreign interference. Per the texts, he was fixated on what later became known as “ItalyGate.” This conspiracy theory posited that Trump’s loss was really due to a hacking effort masterminded by an Italian defense contractor that used military-grade satellites to zap voting machines and steal the election for Biden.
And here was Congressman Ted Budd (who'll be a senator in the new Congress):
On the evening of Nov. 7, Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) shared a message claiming there were links between Dominion Voting Systems and billionaire George Soros....

“Praying for your health! FYI Dominion Voting Systems is owned by State Street Capital, which are Carlyle (Rubenstein alums), Rubenstein is a longtime co-investor with Soros Capital,” wrote Budd.

Budd’s message seemed to be a misspelling of Staple Street management, a private equity firm that owns Dominion, coupled with a series of claims that there were some kind of ties between various other investors.
And Congressman Paul Gosar:
... shortly after 11 p.m. on Dec. 16, 2020, Gosar wrote in with his own completely inaccurate concerns about Dominion.
... China bought Dominion in October for $400 million. If that’s not interference, then should have a report with details and specifics that would validate that either way. And if they didn’t......
The claim made by Gosar reportedly originated with far right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ website, InfoWars. Gosar also included a link to an executive order signed by Trump in 2018 that called for the director of national intelligence to “conduct an assessment of any information indicating that a foreign government” attempted to interfere with the election within 45 days of ballots being cast. Gosar also sent Meadows a link to a fringe blog called “Some Bitch Told Me” and a since-deleted set of files that he said showed “Massive fraud coming out of AZ.”
I can't give you the exact cynic-to-conspiratorialist ratio in the GOP, but it's clear that the ranks of the latter have been increasing, and will continue to do so.

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