Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Trumpublican stench in Maricopa's 'audit'

About that pile of bat guano steaming away in Maricopa county …

Charlie Sykes, editor of The Bulwark, thinks that Maricopa is Our Future. Think of it as a rehearsal for 2024.

Following are excerpts.

Even by the standards of crazy set by the Arizona GOP, the bizarre audit of voting in Maricopa County is bat guano with hair on it. Cyber Ninjas, searches for bamboo…

And it is apparently too much for the Republicans who actually run elections there. Yesterday, they had enough.

The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Monday denounced an ongoing audit of the 2020 election vote as a “sham” and a “con,” calling on the GOP-led state Senate to end the controversial recount that has been championed by former president Donald Trump.

In a fiery public meeting and subsequent letter to state Senate President Karen Fann, the board members said the audit has been inept, promoted falsehoods and defamed the public servants who ran the fall election.

Calling the process a “spectacle that is harming all of us,” the five members of the board — including four Republicans — asked the state Senate to recognize that it is essential to call off the audit, which officials have said is only about one-quarter complete.

“It is time to make a choice to defend the Constitution and the Republic,” they wrote. “We stand united together to defend the Constitution and the Republic in our opposition to the Big Lie. We ask everyone to join us in standing for the truth,” they added, using a term that refers to the false claim that the election was stolen.

There are two ways to look at this: (1) it’s good that responsible Republicans are pushing back; but (2) they are a small minority in the Trumpian GOP and what is happening in Maricopa County is a foreshadowing of what our future looks like.

A new CBS poll underlines (again) why there will be no bursts of rationality or principle in the GOP. “Eighty percent of Republicans who’d heard about the vote agree with [Liz] Cheney’s removal — they feel she was off-message, unsupportive of Mr. Trump, and that she’s wrong about the 2020 presidential election.”

The base (overwhelmingly) wants other Republicans to model themselves on Trump in multiple ways …

Exit take: the next time round, the GOP base will not just tolerate a Trumpian attempt to overturn an election — they will DEMAND it.

Following is the tweet of Stephanie Ruhle’s interview with Sykes in which he makes the case for (1) no chance of salvaging the GOP, and, therefore, (2) anti-Trumpers should leave the party.

Friday, May 14, 2021

'Elise Stefanik in new GOP role promises 'Yes, Daddy' ...

… but what the hey. Any of the House Trumpublicans could have filled that role. Stefanik just bows and scrapes a bit more. It’s the stuff made for satire.

New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz has two commentaries about the elevation of Elise Stefanik to a Republican House leadership position.

Stefanik Solemnly Swears to Defend Trump from Constitution
Elise Stefanik Replaces Ivanka as Trump’s Daughter

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — In a solemn swearing in as the new House Republican Conference chair, Representative Elise Stefanik vowed to defend Donald J. Trump from the United States Constitution.

With House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy officiating, Stefanik raised her right hand and rested her left on a first edition of “The Art of the Deal.”

"I, Elise Stefanik, do solemnly swear to preserve, protect, and defend Donald J. Trump from the Constitution of the United States,” she recited.

Stefanik became emotional as she finished the oath, in which she promised to defend Trump “from all enemies, foreign and domestic—but especially from that jerk Liz Cheney.”

Perhaps that’s why Trump has taken on Stefanik as an Ivanka replacement.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — Consolidating her position as America’s foremost Trump loyalist, Representative Elise Stefanik stunned political insiders on Wednesday by replacing Ivanka Trump as one of the former President’s daughters.

According to those familiar with the shakeup, Donald Trump made the move after Stefanik spent months convincing him that she was substantially more loyal than his now former daughter.

In an official statement from Mar-a-Lago, Trump wished Ivanka well, adding, “She had a good run.”

Stefanik, who is running to replace Representative Liz Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference, put to rest any doubt that she could handle that job while fulfilling her responsibilities as Trump’s daughter.

“They’re basically the same job,” she said. “I just have to say ‘Yes, Daddy.’ ”

Charlie Sykes makes the case for vaccinations and vaccination passports.

Regarding what would get vaccine deniers to do the right thing, in today’s Bulwark Charlie Sykes admits that “We should not have to use gimmicks like lotteries to induce people to do the right thing. But we should continue to use whatever works. Think of it as a stimulus program for people who are bad at math.”

[But] Polls suggest that bribes work:

@MorningConsult
Nearly 3 in 5 Unvaccinated Adults Say a Big Financial Incentive Would Sway Them to Get a COVID–19 Shot.

Then bring the stick; require proof of vaccination for adults. The more businesses, venues, sports teams, offices, stores, and airlines require vaccine passports, the faster we will get our lives back. The passports provide reassurance, while creating a powerful incentive because they are the tickets to our hot summer of liberation.

And, no, passports are not an assault on our freedom. Until about five minutes ago, it was a principle universally acknowledged that the right to swing your fist stops at another person’s nose.

As Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, wrote last year: “With coronavirus, your freedom stops when it endangers others….”

Not getting jabbed is a choice. But choices have consequences; and the rest of us are free to shun those who make stupid and dangerous choices that put us at risk.

In the 1905 case, Jacobson vs. Massachusetts, the United States Supreme Court upheld mandatory smallpox vaccinations, ruling that: “Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

As Chemerinsky noted: “The court explicitly rejected the claim that ‘liberty’ under the Constitution includes the right of individuals to make decisions about their own health in instances where those decisions could endanger others.”

But this may be beside the point, because COVID vaccine passports are most likely to be required by non-governmental entities, exercising their own constitutionally protected rights.

Naturally, any such requirement will spark fustian and outrage from the anti-vaxxer right. Proof of vaccination, they will insist, is the mark of the beast, or at least incipient tyranny.

But (as I have written previously), wait until they hear about driver’s licenses, photo IDs to vote, Social Security cards, TSA screening, employer drug tests, birth certificates, proofs of residence and citizenship, real passports, and the certificates of vaccination we ALREADY require.

Via Kate Brannen, here’s a list of the required vaccinations children in Florida must have to attend school.

In case you are wondering: “The Form DH 680, Florida Certification of Immunization, must be used to document receipt of immunizations required for entry and attendance in Florida schools, childcare facilities, and family daycare homes.”

Bring it on.

Heritage Foundation issues marching orders to state legislators

In the May 13, 2021 edition of Letters from An American, Heather Cox Richardson reports on how the Heritage Foundation gets Republican state legislatures to think and act with one voice.

[…] the real blockbuster political story of the day came in the form of a video obtained by Mother Jones and written about in a detailed article there by Ari Berman and Nick Surgey. The leaked video shows Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America—the political arm of the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank—explaining to big-money donors that Heritage Action has worked closely with Republican state legislators to enact voter suppression laws. “In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.”

The story is not entirely new. Heritage (as it is known) published a report last February outlining “best practices” for voting, many of which are in the new bills coming out of Republican-dominated state legislatures. And in a March article for the New York Times, Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein outlined the role of Heritage Action in Georgia’s and Arizona’s voting restrictions, noting that at least 23 of the proposed state bills that dealt with voting had language that looked like that of Heritage. They also wrote that Heritage plans to spend $24 million to change voting laws in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin before the 2022 election, and that the person behind the Heritage voting policies is Hans von Spakovsky, who mainstreamed the idea of voter fraud in the Republican Party, although experts agree it is vanishingly rare.

What is new and dramatic about the video is seeing Anderson make her pitch to donors for a coordinated right-wing effort to take the vote away from their opponents. She talks of working with similar groups: “We literally give marching orders for the week ahead,” Anderson said. “All so we’re singing from the same song sheet of the goals for that week and where the state bills are across the country.”

Heritage Action is fighting hard against the Democrats’ For the People Act, which would protect the right to vote, end partisan gerrymandering, and limit money in politics. Heritage summarized the bill, which it called the “Corrupt Politicians Act,” in a short sheet for lawmakers. Anderson explained: “We’ve made sure that every single member of Congress knows just how bad the bill is…. Then we’ve made sure there’s an echo chamber of support around these senators driven by your Heritage Action activists and sentinels across the country where we’ve driven hundreds of thousands of calls, emails, place[d] letters to the editor, hosted events, and run television and digital ads.”

Democrats cannot pass the For the People Act through the Senate without buy-in from all 50 of their senators, and Surgey noted that in March, Heritage Action and similar groups bussed protesters to West Virginia from other states for a big rally at the capitol to pressure Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

The “grassroots” protest against “voter fraud” is, in fact, conceived, funded, and organized by one of the most powerful elite political organizations in the country.

Manchin has suggested he will not support the For the People Act without Republican support, so yesterday, he suggested a different way to address the recent voter suppression measures. Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, states and local governments that had a history of racist election laws had to get clearance from federal officials before they put new election rules in place. The Supreme Court gutted that rule in 2013 with the Shelby County v. Holder decision (which is why all these new laws are going into the books). Manchin called for restoring the old system of preclearance, but applying it to all states and territories, not just the nine to which it had previously applied, thus taking away the Supreme Court’s objection that it singled out certain states.

Manchin’s workaround wouldn’t deal with gerrymandering or big money, but it would certainly be a start toward leveling the electoral playing field, and historically, support for the Voting Rights Act was bipartisan. No longer. Almost immediately, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) shot Manchin’s plan down.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Trump, the 'failed blogger'.

[Hot video ad slamming Trumpublicans for their facistical leanings.

MSNBC’s Ari Melber Comes Up With Damning New Way To Describe Donald Trump. It involves Trump’s blog.

Trump is now just a “failed blogger,” Melber said, commenting on House Republicans’ vote to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from GOP leadership for her failure to embrace Trump’s election lies.

Cheney’s purge was “all to appease one blogger in Florida,” “The Beat” anchor added.

"Today is important and will actually be marked in the history books as a measurable turning point for this troubled party,” warned Melber.

“It’s about the Florida blogger,” he continued. “It’s about his ego, his need to dominate ― even out of office ― and the deceitful vanity of getting millions and millions of people to pretend you won because you can’t handle being the loser of the 2020 race. Because that’s what you are, whether you have a new blog or not.”

“Now if it all sounds a little pathetic, it is.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Cheney ousted by Trumpublicans

Breaking: House Republicans oust a defiant Liz Cheney for her repudiation of Trump’s election lies. NYTimes reports.

Today might be the day our Democratic system dies. And there is no getting it back.

Writing in the NY Times, Thomas L. Friedman reveals The Trump G.O.P.’s Plot Against Liz Cheney — and Our Democracy.

(With thanks to Scriber’s Editor-at-Large sherry.)

BEGIN QUOTE

I didn’t want to write again about the House Republicans ousting Liz Cheney from their leadership for calling out Donald Trump’s Big Lie. I was going to make this my week for happy news. But to write about anything else on the verge of Trump’s G.O.P. moving to formally freeze out Cheney would be like writing a column about the weather the day after Watergate exploded or about Ford Theater’s architecture after Lincoln was shot. This is a big moment in American history.

One of America’s two major parties is about to make embracing a huge lie about the integrity of our elections — the core engine of our democracy — a litmus test for leadership in that party, if not future candidacy at the local, state and national levels.

In effect, the Trump G.O.P. has declared that winning the next elections for the House, Senate and presidency is so crucial — and Trump’s ability to energize its base so irreplaceable — that it justifies both accepting his Big Lie about the 2020 election and leveraging that lie to impose new voter-suppression laws and changes in the rules of who can certify elections in order to lock in minority rule for Republicans if need be.

It is hard to accept that this is happening in today’s America, but it is.

If House Republicans follow through on their plan to replace Cheney, it will not constitute the end of American democracy as we’ve known it, but there is a real possibility we’ll look back on May 12, 2021, as the beginning of the end — unless enough principled Republicans can be persuaded to engineer an immediate, radical course correction in their party.

If someone tried a dishonest power play at the P.T.A. of your child’s school like the one in the House, you’d be on the phone in a flash, organizing the other parents to immediately denounce and stop it. If you read about something like this happening in another pillar of democracy, like Britain or France, you’d be sick to your stomach and feel like the world was a little less safe. If you heard that a banana republic dictator had forced such a Big Lie on his sham parliament, you’d want to picket his embassy in Washington.

But this is us — today, right now. And I fear that we’ve so defined down political deviance in the Trump years that we’ve lost the appropriate, drop-everything, Defcon 1, man-the-battle-stations sense of alarm that should greet the G.O.P. crossing such a redline.

“It just bothers me that you have to swear fealty to the ‘Dear Leader’ or you get kicked out of the party,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a moderate Republican, said Sunday on “Meet the Press.” “It just doesn’t make any sense.”

But it doesn’t end there. We’re witnessing a daylight mugging of our democracy — and I am not talking only about the voter-suppression measures being passed by Republican-controlled legislatures in swing states.

There are also the new laws to enable Republican legislatures to legally manipulate the administration and counting of the votes in their states. Election expert Rick Hasen explained it all in an essay in this newspaper last month: “At stake is something I never expected to worry about in the United States: the integrity of the vote count. The danger of manipulated election results looms.”

We’re talking about new regulations like the Georgia law that removed the secretary of state from decision-making power on the State Election Board, clearly aimed to curb the powers of the current secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, after he rejected Trump’s request that he “find” 11,780 votes to undo Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. We’re talking about Arizona’s Republican-led State Senate hiring a company owned by an advocate of the “Stop the Steal” movement to examine the November ballots from Maricopa County. And much more.

According to a new report by Protect Democracy, Law Forward and the States United Democracy Center, “Across the country, state legislators are proposing bills that would give partisan state legislators greater control over elections while hamstringing experienced state and local election administrators who have traditionally run our voting systems. …

“Many of the bills would make elections more difficult to administer or even unworkable; make it more difficult to finalize election results; allow for election interference and manipulation by hyperpartisan actors; and, in the worst cases, allow state legislatures to overturn the will of the voters and precipitate a democracy crisis.”

Had these bills been in place in 2020, it added, “they would have … raised the prospect that the outcome of the election would have been contrary to the popular vote.”

As Stanford University democracy expert Larry Diamond summed it all up to me, while we’re focusing on Liz Cheney and the 2020 elections, Trump’s minions at the state level “are focused on giving themselves the power to legally get away with in 2024 what the courts would not let them get away with in 2020.”

You tell me how American democracy will ever be the same again and how these people can be trusted to cede power the next time they win the White House.

And while you’re at it, tell me how America can ever again be a credible observer and upholder of democratic elections around the world — so vital to our national security and the hopes and dreams of democrats in all these countries who look to America as a beacon of democracy and the rule of law. The next time we want to question election results in Russia or Iran or Poland or Hungary, what do you suppose their elected autocrats will say?

They’ll say: “Listen to you? Your Republican Party turned a blind eye to a guy who told the biggest election lie in the history of the Milky Way Galaxy. And it wasn’t even in the service of some urgent, compelling policy. It was just so he could stay in power, salve his ego and deny he lost.”

So, thank you, Liz Cheney, for doing something vitally important and clarifying — something that only a conservative Republican like you could do: force the G.O.P. at every level to choose whether to stand with Trump and his Big Lie or with the Constitution and the most important conservative principle of all — reverence for the rule of law.

Because, if Trump and friends are not stopped, one day they will get where they are going: They will lock in minority rule in America. And when that happens, both Democrats and principled Republicans will take to the streets, and you can call it whatever you like, but it is going to feel like a new civil war.

I don’t use that term lightly or accidentally. We are all the product of our life experiences, and my first reporting experience was living inside the Lebanese civil war in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

I saw close up what happens when democratically elected politicians think that they can endlessly abuse their institutions, cross redlines, weaken their judiciary and buy reporters and television stations — so that there is no truth, only versions, of every story. And they think that they can do it endlessly — cheat just one more time, break one more rule, buy one more vote — and the system will hold until they can take it over and own it for their own purposes.

Then one day — and you never see it coming — the whole system breaks down. Whatever frayed bonds of truth and trust that were holding it together completely unravel.

And then it’s gone. And there is no getting it back.

END QUOTE

A third party looms in response to Trumpublicans

Reports the NY Times, Over 100 Republicans, including former officials, threaten to split from G.O.P.

(Thanks to our roving Editor-at-Large Sherry.)

BEGIN QUOTE

More than 100 Republicans, including some former elected officials, are preparing to release a letter this week threatening to form a third party if the Republican Party does not make certain changes, according to an organizer of the effort.

The statement is expected to take aim at former President Donald J. Trump’s stranglehold on Republicans, which signatories to the document have deemed unconscionable.

“When in our democratic republic, forces of conspiracy, division, and despotism arise, it is the patriotic duty of citizens to act collectively in defense of liberty and justice,” reads the preamble to the full statement, which is expected to be released on Thursday.

The effort comes as House Republican leaders are expected on Wednesday to oust Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from their ranks because of her outspoken criticism of Mr. Trump’s election lies.

"This is a first step,” said Miles Taylor, an organizer of the effort and a former Trump-era Department of Homeland Security official who anonymously wrote a book condemning the Trump administration. In October, Mr. Taylor acknowledged he was the author of both the book and a 2018 New York Times Op-Ed article.

“This is us saying that a group of more than 100 prominent Republicans think that the situation has gotten so dire with the Republican Party that it is now time to seriously consider whether an alternative might be the only option,” he said.

The list of people signing the statement includes former officials at both the state and national level who once were governors, members of Congress, ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, state legislators and Republican Party chairmen, Mr. Taylor said.

Mr. Taylor declined to name the signers. Reuters reported earlier that the former governors Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey will sign it, as will former Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters and former Representatives Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Reid Ribble of Wisconsin and Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma.

Mr. Taylor declined on Tuesday to reveal the specific changes that the coalition was planning to demand of the Republican Party in its statement.

"I’m still a Republican, but I’m hanging on by the skin of my teeth because how quickly the party has divorced itself from truth and reason,” Mr. Taylor said. “I’m one of those in the group that feels very strongly that if we can’t get the G.OP. back to a rational party that supports free minds, free markets, and free people, I’m out and a lot of people are coming with me.”

END QUOTE

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Liz Cheney - In her own words ...

… why the Republicans are pissed off at Liz Cheney. See this video.

Then continue reading this piece from this morning’s Bulwark by Charlie Sykes.

The Steal Next Time. The Cheney purge may just be prologue.

It’s not too soon to start thinking about this. David Atkins writes in the Washington Monthly:

So what happens in 2024 if President Biden or Vice President Harris win the Electoral College, but local Republicans on county boards with majority Democratic votes refuse to certify the election; when state legislatures who have seized control of certification refuse to certify their state tallies; when a potential Republican majority in the House of Representatives refuses to certify the Electoral College tally? What happens when they refuse to certify Democratic wins in purple state Senate races, throwing control of the Upper Chamber into limbo and chaos?

What happens if Biden/Harris wins the popular vote by 8 million votes and 30 electoral college votes, only to see Republicans in states like Georgia and Wisconsin decide that their GOP legislatures will send electors for Trump or Tucker Carlson or Josh Hawley instead? What happens if Democrats legitimately add to their lead in the Senate, only to see Republicans refuse to certify those tallies as well, keeping GOP Senators in place for the next session?

I would like to think this far-fetched. At this point, I’d like to be able to assure you that is too bizarre to be real; or that it is panic mongering and hype.

But, ladies and gentlemen, I give you January 6… and the rapid devolution of the GOP into full-fledged election denialism. The purge of Liz Cheney may just be prologue. As Greg Sargent writes:

This combination is toxic: Republicans are untethering themselves from any obligation to recognize future legitimate election outcomes, which will provide the rationale to overturn them, a freedom they are also effectively in process of appropriating. Cheney is insisting on a GOP future premised on a full repudiation of these tendencies, and getting punished for it.

**

Mona Charen sees the same thing. Please take the time read her in this morning’s Bulwark, “The Steal Next Time.”

She asks: “Who will prevent the next attempt to overturn the will of the voters?”

Let’s be clear: The substitution of Stefanik for Cheney is a tocsin, signaling that the Republican party will no longer be bound by law or custom. In 2020, many Republican office holders, including the otherwise invertebrate Pence, held the line. They did not submit false slates of electors. They did not decertify votes. They did not “find” phantom fraud. But the party has been schooled since then. It has learned that the base—which is deluded by the likes of Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Mark Levin—believes the lies and demands that Republicans fight. As my colleague Amanda Carpenter put it, the 2024 mantra is going to be “Steal It Back.”

If Cheney must be axed because she will not lie, then what will happen if Republicans take control of Congress in 2022 and are called upon to certify the Electoral College in 2024? How many Raffenspergers will there be? How many will insist, as Pence did, that they must do what the Constitution demands? How many will preserve any semblance of the rule of law and the primacy of truth?

With this sabotage of Cheney, House Republicans are figuratively joining the January 6 mob.

Greg Sargent - Republican threat is more than cowardice

Stop saying Republicans are ‘cowards’ who fear Trump. The truth is far worse. says Greg Sargent (Washington Post Plum Line).

(Thanks to our Editor-at-Large Sherry.)

If you are strapped for time, here’s the essence in subtitles.

This isn’t ‘cowardice’
The goal is to undermine confidence in elections
Time to reckon with GOP radicalization

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, deserves great credit for demanding that his party fully repudiate Donald Trump’s big lie about the 2020 election and acknowledge its role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. But Kinzinger is getting one big thing wrong.

In a Sunday appearance on CBS, Kinzinger repeatedly said fellow Republicans are fundamentally driven by fear of Trump. They don’t want to “confront” Trump’s lies, Kinzinger lamented, adding that they’re “scared to death” of him.

As a broad description of our current moment, this is profoundly insufficient. It risks misleading people about the true nature of the threat posed by the GOP’s ongoing radicalization.

With House Republicans expected this week to oust Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming from leadership for vocally making the same case that Kinzinger is, the idea that Republicans are primarily driven by “cowardice” is everywhere.

"Liz is a living reproach to all these cowards,” one friend of Cheney told the New Yorker, a quote that drew tons of Twitter approval. Similarly, former GOP speechwriter Peggy Noonan ripped into Cheney’s fellow Republicans as a “House of Cowards” who are “jumpy and scared.”

Meanwhile, now that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to replace Cheney in the House GOP leadership, Democrats are pounding McCarthy for “cowardice.”

Obviously fear of attacks from Trump — or from right-wing media or primary challengers — is one motivator. But by itself, this simply won’t do: It implies that Republicans would prefer on principle to stand firm in defense of democracy but are not doing so simply out of fear of facing immediate political consequences.

It is impossible to square this reading with the concrete and affirmative steps that many Republicans are taking right now.

This isn’t ‘cowardice’

Take the shenanigans in Arizona, where GOP state legislators have commissioned a recount of ballots in Maricopa County. It is being conducted by a firm whose chief executive has promoted nonsense about fraud in the 2020 election.

What’s more, the GOP-controlled county board of election supervisors has blasted the recount while vouching for the election’s integrity. Even one Republican supporter of the recount has now denounced it as “ridiculous” and “embarrassing.”

Given all this, it’s impossible to chalk this effort up to “cowardice” or “fear of Trump.” It is a deliberate action plainly undertaken to manufacture fake evidence for the affirmative purpose of further undermining faith in our electoral system going forward.

Stefanik has endorsed this effort. Oozing with phony piety, she claims she merely wants “answers” for Americans concerned about “election security.” Of course, the opposite is true: Stefanik is trying to undermine, not reinforce, voter confidence in our electoral outcomes.

This is not the act of a “coward” who “fears Trump” and would vouch for the integrity of the election if only she could do so without consequences.

Rather, it’s the act of someone who calculates that a willingness to create fake pretexts for treating legitimate election outcomes (ones that Republicans hate) as invalid is a big selling point in today’s GOP. If she does win a leadership role, her calculation will be proven correct.

The goal is to undermine confidence in elections

Underscoring the point, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the chair of the Republican Study Committee, made an extraordinarily disingenuous appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” Banks had endorsed the Texas lawsuit, which would have invalidated millions of votes in four states based on fictions, and voted to overturn President Biden’s electors in Congress.

Pressed by Fox’s Chris Wallace to admit Biden won “fair and square,” Banks kinda sorta acknowledged it, but immediately pivoted to claiming those actions were entirely justified, by insisting that his “serious concerns” about the election were still valid.

This is not the act of a “coward” who “fears Trump,” and would vouch for the integrity of the election if only he could do so without consequences.

Rather, it is the act of someone who is fully devoted to the project of continuing to undermine confidence in our elections going forward.

This is for purely instrumental purposes. Republicans are employing their own invented doubts about 2020 to justify intensified voter suppression everywhere. Banks neatly crystallized the point on Fox, saying those doubts required more voting restrictions — after reinforcing them himself.

Indeed, with all this, Republicans may be in the process of creating a kind of permanent justification for maximal efforts to invalidate future election outcomes by whatever means are within reach.

I’ve already detailed the possibility that a GOP-controlled House could refuse to certify a contested state’s election results in 2024. Brian Beutler suggests other ways Republicans could use official power to undermine legitimate outcomes, such as institutionalizing “sham audits” like the Arizona one or punishing state officials who certify Democratic victories.

Time to reckon with GOP radicalization

The lies about 2020 and the increasing dedication to destroying democratic institutions in the quest for power are inextricable from one another. As Jay Rosen says, the press is comfortable calling out the former — it can be packaged as a “fact check." But being forthright about the latter requires depicting one party as far and away the only primary threat to our democratic stability. That’s accurate, but it’s uncomfortably adversarial.

Relatedly, describing Republicans as “cowards” who “fear Trump” casts their machinations as mere reluctant efforts to cope with externally imposed circumstances they’d prefer not to be dealing with. This lets Republicans off the hook in a very fundamental way. It risks misleading the country about the true depths of GOP radicalization — and the real dangers it poses.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Who and what will be left after the GOPocalypse

Mark Sumner (Daily Beast) has something to say about that. Removing Liz Cheney isn’t a turning point for the Republican Party, it’s a post-extinction event.

Here is his opinion.

BEGIN QUOTE

No Democrat loves Liz Cheney. Over the years she has consistently taken positions that were among the most conservative, most regressive, and most aggressive of any Republican in Congress. She is among those most protective of the wealthy, most willing to sacrifice the environment, and most willing to ignore injustice. Looking back at the key votes of this past year, Cheney voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, against the Paycheck Fairness Act, against a bipartisan bill expanding background checks, against the SAFE Banking Act, and against the American Dream Act. She also voted against removing Marjorie Taylor Greene from committees.

In fact, Cheney cast a “No” vote on every single key vote in 2021—except one. That one exception was her vote on Jan. 13 in favor of impeaching Donald Trump for his role in inciting an insurrection against the U.S. Capitol.

Cheney is, in every way, a perfect example of the kind of Republican that progressives have fought so hard for decades. And that’s exactly why she’s being removed from her post. Because that Republican Party no longer exists.

Cheney got a chance to have her own say in The Washington Post, in which made it clear that her struggle with Donald Trump is on a level that goes beyond policy. “Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work—confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this.”

Cheney also calls out House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who was willing to tell at least a modicum of the truth a week after being forced to flee from the House chamber. “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” McCarthy said on Jan. 13. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.” At the time, McCarthy suggested that Trump deserved to be censored by Congress.

Fast forward three months, and McCarthy was not only visiting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, but defending his actions on Jan. 6. With each passing week, McCarthy has moved more and more to not just defend Trump, but rewrite the history of the past four years, including the assault on the Capitol. His willingness to surrender any sign of honesty has earned McCarthy a spot that The New York Times described as “an alpha lap-dog inside Mr. Trump’s kennel of acolytes.”

Trump left office in shame, with an approval rating that matched the worst of his term in office and a record number of impeachments attached to his name. Republicans, including McCarthy, might have decided to move away from Trump and champion their agenda with someone else at the head. It might even seem logical that the 56-year-old congressional leader might push himself forward, seizing the opportunity to stand in the spotlight far from Trump’s orange glow.

Except … there is no Republican agenda. Not any more. That Republicans failed to adopt a party platform in 2020 wasn’t just some fluke of Trump’s bungled management. It’s a 20-gigawatt Broadway sign signaling that there is no there there, with a footnote that McCarthy may be the weakest “leader” Congress has ever seen.

That’s not to say that Republicans aren’t trying to pass bills. It’s just that those bills have no real purpose beyond making people angry. Making people angry—on both sides of the political spectrum—isn’t just the modern Republican brand, it’s all that remains of their party of trolls. Their base has no demands other than to be fed lies that make them angry, and to see Republicans taking action that makes everyone else angry.

Which is why they went crawling back to Trump. He knows how to spread nonsense that makes people angry, and that’s all the party is about.

Liz Cheney, with her positions and her ideas is an alien to this party. She’s talking about a turning point in a party that turned to ash years ago. Meanwhile, the Gaetz-Greene-Boebert base of the party, both in and out of Congress, see her as an alien who, rambling about conservative principles, might as well be High Martian.

So they’ll get rid of her. But only after Politico publishes a few editorials about how “Democrats love Cheney” without bothering to quote a single Democrat. Because then Republicans get to be angry at Cheney and convinced they’ve also upset Democrats. That’s their idea of a win these days.

“While embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fundraising and political purposes,” wrote Cheney in her editorial, “that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country.” But she’s wrong about a critical point here. The tense.

That damage has already been done.

END QUOTE

Here’s more.

The AZBlueMeanie (Blog for Arizona) describes the GQP Internecine Warfare: Liz Cheney v. Lindsey Graham.

On Thursday, Sen. Graham weighed in on the looming Republican purge of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from House leadership over her opposition to former President Donald Trump. Lindsey Graham Mocked After Making Bizarre ‘Trump Cult’ Prediction About GOP’s Future:

Cheney is the latest victim of conservative cancel culture as she’s reportedly on the verge of losing her position as conference chair, the number three Republican in the House, due to her criticism of the former president.

This is the MAGA/Qanon personality cult’s version of the Night of the Long Knives or the Röhm Purge in 1934, “a series of political extrajudicial executions intended to consolidate Hitler’s power and alleviate the concerns of the German military about the role of Ernst Röhm and the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazis’ paramilitary organization, known colloquially as Brownshirts.”

The MAGA/Qanon personality cult’s purge is to remove any Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump after he incited a violent seditious insurrection on January 6, and who will not promote his Big Lie propaganda that the election was stolen from him. Hopefully the MAGA/Qanon cultists will not actually execute these Republicans, but after their “hang Mike Pence” objective on January 6, can anyone really be certain?

But Graham wasn’t all that sympathetic to her plight.

“Can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no,” he said on Fox News on Thursday night. “I’ve always liked Liz Cheney, but she’s made the determination that the Republican Party can’t grow with President Trump. I’ve determined we can’t grow without him.”

Chris Hayes nailed it.

… last night, in an almost refreshingly honest moment, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina explained his party’s predicament more clearly than just about anyone else basically acknowledging that they just don`t have an alternative to Donald Trump. He is their only way forward as a party.

See the Blue Meanie’s post for more from Hayes program.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

The U.S. needs more workers - increase birth rate or increase immigration

Here’s the thing. We need more workers. “The U.S. economy needs more kids. Parents say they want more kids. Yet the baby bust has gotten worse.”

According to Catherine Rampell: The baby bust won’t end without government action. Following are her conclusions.

… the birthrate is now below the “replacement rate” — the level at which the current generation can at least replace itself — of 2.1 births per woman. This matters for a variety of economic reasons.

We need another generation of children to eventually grow up to become workers, keep the economy productive and contribute the taxes that fund Social Security, Medicare and other services for our aging, nonworking population. Other countries whose demographic time bombs have already detonated, such as Japan, have demonstrated how challenging it is to have a swelling number of retirees dependent on a shrinking number of workers. If the size of the U.S. workforce stagnates or declines, economic growth and living standards are likely to languish.

Possible policy responses fall into two buckets.

First would be a suite of changes that make it easier for Americans to have more kids. They include providing greater income security, so parents can afford to have the number of children they want. Also, adapting workplaces and other parts of the safety net so parents or would-be parents who want to stay in the labor force can do so more easily.

President Biden’s families-related proposal would make progress on these fronts, by extending the temporary “child allowance” he recently signed into law, guaranteeing free or low-cost child care, and implementing paid family leave, among other programs. Changing the culture around work and making “greedy” workplaces friendlier to parents will be greater challenges, though the normalization of remote work arrangements over the past year may help.

But while these changes would make some parents’ lives less stressful, and perhaps induce some people on the margin to pop out more babies, they may not have much impact on overall fertility trends. Many countries with low birthrates have implemented explicitly pro-natal policies, such as greater access to child care or cash bonuses for having babies. They’ve generally been unsuccessful at lifting birthrates.

The other policy in the toolkit is immigration.

If the United States wants more working-age people to contribute to our economy, there are millions of strivers around the world ready and eager to pitch in. Indeed, immigrants and their children have been a key driver of population, economic and productivity growth in the not-so-distant past, but dwindling immigration is another reason population growth slowed so much in the 2010s.

Ramping up immigration should be easy. Despite the nasty, xenophobic rhetoric that dominated U.S. politics in recent years, recent surveys suggest Americans are more pro-immigrant than at any previous time on record. Biden has urged Congress to undertake immigration reform, if lawmakers can get out of their own way.

Biden has pledged to recharge the economy. Without question, that will require ramping up its economic engine — its population — too.

The GOP endgame - undermine electoral confidence. The strategy - death threats against public officials.

Kerry Eleveld of the Daily Kos Staff reports that Arizona governor orders security protection for secretary of state and family after death threats.

The frightening and bizarre saga of Arizona’s sham election audit entered an even bleaker phase Friday with news that Gov. Doug Ducey had ordered state troopers to provide round-the-clock protection to the secretary of state after she and her family received multiple death threats.

The office of Secretary Katie Hobbs reportedly reached out to Ducey’s office requesting a security detail after Hobbs said she had received three separate death threats on Thursday.

On Twitter, Hobbs wrote, “Earlier today a man called my office saying I deserve to die and wanting to know ‘what she is wearing so she’ll be easy to get.’ … It was one of at least three such threats today. Then a man who I’ve never seen before chased me and my staffer outside of our office.”

Hobbs has become a target for fearlessly and repeatedly challenging the integrity of the sham audit being conducted of the Maricopa County election results, which helped secure Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

Earlier this week, Hobbs detailed multiple irregularities with the audit in a letter to the person overseeing it for the state’s Senate Republicans, Ken Bennett.

“I’m not sure what compelled you to oversee this audit,” Hobbs wrote. “But I’d like to assume you took this role with the best of intentions. It is those intentions I appeal to now: Either do it right, or don’t do it at all.”

Hobbs warned Bennett that she would be forced to haul him back to court if he didn’t bring the audit into compliance with state law.

On Friday, Hobbs told MSNBC that she believed the entire goal of those running the audit was to rock the public’s faith in the election results.

“What this is doing is just continuing to undermine people’s confidence in the integrity of our elections,” Hobbs said, “That is dangerous for our democracy, and that, I think, really is the end game here that they want to accomplish.”

The problems with the audit are numerous, but all one really needs to know about it is that it’s being conducted by Cyber Ninjas, a firm that has zero experience with recounts and is owned by a conservative conspiracy theorist and “Stop the Steal” advocate. So not exactly trustworthy or unbiased, to say the least.

This isn’t Hobbs’ first go-round with death threats related to the 2020 election. Hobbs also needed law enforcement protection in the weeks following the election last fall as the state became ground-zero for pro-Trump activists who refused to believe Donald Trump had lost the election. Death threats are apparently their strategy of choice.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

When it comes to the COVID catastrophe Indians run but they cannot hide

Indians Run for the Exits, Taking COVID Risks With Them to Nepal, Dubai From a Dying Nation reports the Daily Beast. Private jet rentals are up 900 percent with the middle class spending their life savings to flee, just as Nepal sees a deadly surge in cases as the chaos spills over the border.

Burning corpses
Incinerating dead COVID victims in India

Here is some of the reporting.

As India logs another 400,000 new infections in a 24-hour period, efforts to contain the worsening crisis have failed and now everyone from middle-class Indians to migrant workers are getting out as fast as they can.

Private jets, often used primarily by Bollywood glitterati and business moguls who left weeks ago, are now being booked by the middle class who are spending their life savings to save their lives.

JetSetGo CEO Kanika Tekriwal told CNBC’s Street Signs Asia that her company has seen a 900 percent increase in bookings, but it is not her usual clientele. “To say that only wealthy Indians are leaving India on private jets would be wrong,” Tekriwal said Thursday from her own safe haven in the Maldives. “In the last 10 days, what we have really seen is anyone who can put together the resources and the means to pool in money for a private jet, or to pool in money just to get out of the country, getting out.”

The most popular destinations are the Maldives, which fetches around $20,000 for an eight-seat jet with a pilot, and Dubai, which runs a whopping $31,ooo for a six-seater with a pilot to the United Arab Emirates. Both countries are among the last to allow Indian passengers to enter as long as they test negative for COVID–19 before departure—which, with odds at 2–1 they have the virus based on spiking contagion rates, is not a guarantee they will get to leave.

But it is those without life savings to spend who are spreading the deadly virus to neighboring countries. Thousands of migrant workers escaping the country have now turned neighboring Nepal into the next hell. Some experts predict that the situation could be even worse than in India and the country’s prime minister, K.P. Sharma Oli, much like India’s Narendra Modi, has been widely criticized for mishandling the pandemic response.

The capital city of Kathmandu is now under strict lockdown, but fears are growing that the border city of Nepalgunj, where thousands of migrant workers from India have returned, could explode with cases. That city has just a dozen intensive-care beds and because most of its medical supplies come from India, it could face shortages soon.

Nepal’s positivity rate is inching closer to 50 percent of all those tested, in what is starting to feel like déjà vu as the country tracks almost exactly the same trajectory India did two weeks ago. But because of an even more unprepared healthcare system—with 0.7 doctors per 100,000 people, fewer than almost anywhere in the world—many experts worry that Nepal’s crisis could be even deadlier than India’s. Nepal—one of the world’s poorest countries— has just 1,595 ICU beds and 480 ventilators for the entire population of 30 million, according to CNN.

Who can be a republican leader - Embarrassment Queen Elise Stefanik knows

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddoqBlog) ponders the answer as Liz Cheney’s would-be successor makes a misguided pitch to the GOP. What does it take to be a Republican leader in 2021? Elise Stefanik is answering the question in painfully embarrassing ways.

On Monday morning, Donald Trump declared that, as far as he’s concerned, the “Big Lie” would refer forevermore exclusively to the nature of his 2020 defeat. Less than an hour later, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) responded, “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”

For the Wyoming Republican, the entirely accurate 30-word missive marked the beginning of the end of her role as a GOP leader. Cheney’s Republican brethren turned on her with a vengeance for having dared to tell the truth, and a New York congresswoman, Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, saw an opportunity.

By Monday afternoon, Stefanik had quietly launched an outreach effort, building support for her bid to replace Cheney as the #3 Republican in the House leadership. It wasn’t long before the New Yorker received support from the top two House GOP lawmakers, as well as Donald Trump.

But as the week progressed, Stefanik’s behind-the-scenes efforts evolved into a more public campaign, in which she appeared eager to impress not just party leaders on Capitol Hill, but the GOP’s larger far-right base. And as the New York Times reported, Stefanik has apparently figured out exactly what Republicans want to hear.

As House Republicans have made the case for ousting Representative Liz Cheney, their No. 3, from their leadership ranks, they have insisted that it is not her repudiation of former President Donald J. Trump’s election lies that they find untenable, but her determination to be vocal about it. But on Thursday, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the Republican whom leaders have anointed as Ms. Cheney’s replacement in waiting, loudly resurrected his false narrative.

The report added that Stefanik’s comments “reflected how central the former president’s election lies have become to the Republican Party message.” That’s clearly true. They also reflected, of course, the New York congresswoman’s willingness to peddle obvious nonsense in order to rise through the ranks in the contemporary GOP.

It’s likely that much of the country is unfamiliar with Stefanik. She hasn’t been a Capitol Hill fixture for very long – the 36-year-old lawmaker is now in her sixth year in Congress – and she hasn’t earned a reputation for spearheading any major legislative initiatives.

But what Stefanik has done is show the political value of rapid ideological evolutions.

The New York Republican initially ran as a relative moderate, at least by modern GOP standards. Stefanik represents an upstate district that Barack Obama, among other national Democratic candidates, won twice, so as a candidate, she stressed her bipartisan bona fides. During her 2016 campaign, Stefanik was reluctant to even say Donald Trump’s name out loud, referring to him only as her party’s nominee.

When the Republican Party’s regressive package of tax breaks for the wealthy came to the floor in 2017, Stefanik voted with Democrats against the bill. A year later, when then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was embroiled in multiple scandals, she was one of a vanishingly small number of GOP lawmakers to call for his resignation.

This was a fine way for her to win re-election with relative ease. It was not, however, sufficient to get ahead in Republican politics and build a broader profile within her party.

And so, the New York congresswoman did exactly what one might expect her to do: Stefanik started making more Fox News appearances and aligning herself with Trump, most notably during his first impeachment fight.

Soon, the moderate version of Stefanik was gone, replaced with an entirely new persona – which included asking the U.S. Supreme Court to keep Trump in power despite his defeat, and voting on Jan. 6 against legitimate election results.

With Cheney becoming a villain to her party for telling inconvenient truths, Stefanik is effectively on the campaign trail again, running for the House Republican Conference chair post. Yesterday, that included cringe-worthy nonsense.

For example, Stefanik stressed her eagerness to “work with the president” – and she was referring to Trump, not Joe Biden. She proceeded to peddle all sorts of bizarre nonsense about the 2020 election, even expressing support for the utterly bonkers “audit” in Arizona and celebrating the former president as “the strongest supporter” of the U.S. Constitution, reality notwithstanding.

All of this, of course, dovetails with Stefanik’s ridiculous and discredited conspiracy theories regarding Trump’s defeat.

It’s possible that the congresswoman’s earlier moderation was a charade, and this new far-right iteration reflects her sincere beliefs. It seems more likely that she knows she’s cynically pushing absurdities, and is choosing this course anyway to get ahead.

Either way, the end result is the same.

What does it take to be a Republican leader in 2021? Elise Stefanik is answering the question in painfully embarrassing ways

Friday, May 7, 2021

GOP set to replace Cheney with a Big Lie tout and more bad news for crAZy

In today’s Bulwark Charlie Sykes features some information about the GOP whiz kid likely to replace Liz Cheney.

Appearing on Steve Bannon’s podcast, @EliseStefanik flaunts her Big Lie bona fides.

So, yes, Elise Stefanik turns out to be even worse than you thought.

As Daniel Dale notes she endorsed efforts to overturn the election; said people “rightly” worried there were “unprecedented voting irregularities”; falsely claimed Georgia eliminated voter verification; claimed there were 140K illegal votes in Fulton; and raised “concerns” about Dominion.

And all of that was before she went on Steve Bannon’s show yesterday to embrace the bogus Arizona “audit” by guys who call themselves the Cyber-ninjas.

As if CrAZy needs more bad PR.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Trump starts social network 'Facebook Netsecapades'

“I’m no fool” said Trump. “I know a good business opportunity when it bites me.” Now along with other escapades, like Trump’s Rumps, he’s going into social media.

New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz reports that Trump Urges Supporters to Follow Him on Facebook Total Landscaping.

PALM BEACH (The Borowitz Report) — A defiant Donald J. Trump is urging his supporters to follow him on Facebook Total Landscaping, a new social network he has created.

“Facebook Total Landscaping will be the biggest social network in the world, way bigger than what that loser Zuckerberg came up with,” he said. “No one’s on Facebook.”

Trump said that his new social-media platform, which will operate out of a parking lot outside Philadelphia, will be run by his former attorney Rudolph Giuliani, “so you know it’s going to be terrific.”

“Rudy’s out buying a computer right now,” he said. “He had to replace the one that the F.B.I. took last week.”

Boasting about his social network’s explosive growth, Trump said that he had already friended Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner, and was waiting to hear back on a friend request to Melania Trump.

Social networking? Perhaps he meant landscaping.

GOP paints bullseye on Liz Cheney

Trump, GOP Leaders, and Even Liz Cheney Allies Say She Is a ‘Dead Woman Walking’ reports Matt Fuller, Senior Politics Editor, and Asawin Suebsaeng, Senior Political Reporter.

And former President Trump couldn’t be happier with her potential replacement.

As House Republicans prepare to purge current conference chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) from leadership, former President Donald Trump’s pals on Capitol Hill have been keeping him posted on the efforts to demote her—and the ex-president has been assured that Cheney will be punished by her colleagues as soon as next week.

In recent days, Trump has been on the phone with several key allies in the House GOP conference, asking for updates on the Cheney situation, as well as on whether there will indeed be a vote to remove her from her leadership post, according to two sources with knowledge of the calls.

Two different people familiar with these conversations say that, in the past few days, one of the top House Republicans who Trump has spoken to about Cheney was Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). And on the call, McCarthy told Trump that Cheney would be on her way out soon. McCarthy’s office declined comment for this story.

On Wednesday, Trump took a break from golfing and dining with Republican Senators at Mar-a-Lago to again wade into internal House GOP politics, this time to post on his blog about his choice for Cheney’s would-be successor.

“Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership,” Trump said in his statement. “We want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritize the values of America First. Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!”

While the twice-impeached former president has persistently called for Cheney’s political ruin—and his statement of support for Stefanik and against Cheney probably is the nail in the coffin—the reality is, Trump probably doesn’t need to lift a finger. Conversations with a dozen sources on Capitol Hill and in Trump’s orbit revealed that Cheney is almost certainly playing out her last week as the GOP conference chairwoman.

Is that a good thing? Depends on who you ask. For starters, Cheney wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post. in which she said: “The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us.” “The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution. In the immediate wake of the violence of Jan. 6, almost all of us knew the gravity and the cause of what had just happened — we had witnessed it firsthand.”

More from the DailyBeast report …

[Anonymous source] … a source familiar with Cheney’s thinking told The Daily Beast that everything she’s said has been “chiefly motivated by telling the truth and saying what needs to be said.”

“Liz Cheney is the kid at the parade that says the emperor has no clothes,” Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump GOP strategist, told The Daily Beast.

“They want their message to be built on a lie,” Longwell said, “and she’s not letting that happen.”

According to Longwell, it’s an obvious problem for Republicans: Cheney is “objectively correct,” but that’s not the reality in which Republicans want to live. It’s much more politically expedient to pretend that Trump actually won the election, thus necessitating voting access reforms, and to pretend that Trump bears no responsibility for the insurrection.

Finally, Cheney writes in the Post op-ed: “we Republicans need to stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality. In our hearts, we are devoted to the American miracle. We believe in the rule of law, in limited government, in a strong national defense, and in prosperity and opportunity brought by low taxes and fiscally conservative policies.”

Now I don’t agree at all with Cheney about the role of government and fiscal policy. But I do know this: we cannot even begin to have a debate so long as one party cannot recognize truth, champions lies piled on more lies, and does not even care.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Jake Tapper finds getting the truth from today's GOP is a hard task.

CNN’s Jake Tapper says that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) is standing up for facts while a large part of her colleagues in the House GOP are still pushing conspiracies and lies because they are afraid of telling the truth to their constituents.

You can view the 8-minute panel discussion here.

With thanks to Scriber’s Editor-at-Large Sherry.

Trump banned from FaceBook - Oversight Board upholds ban

Facebook oversight board upholds Trump’s suspension from platform reports the Associated Press (May 5, 2021 Updated) via the Daily Star.

Former President Donald Trump won’t return to Facebook — for now.

The social network’s quasi-independent Oversight Board voted to uphold his ban from the platform after his account was suspended four months ago for inciting violence that led to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

While uploading the suspension, the board faulted Facebook for the way it made the decision.

“It was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension,” it said.

But …

The board agreed with Facebook that that two of Trump’s Jan. 6 posts “severely violated” the content standards of both Facebook and Instagram.

"We love you. You’re very special,” he said in the first post, and “great patriots” and “remember this day forever” in the second. Those violated Facebook’s rules against praising or supporting people engaged in violence, the board said.

The board says Facebook has six months to reexamine the “arbitrary penalty” it imposed on Jan. 7 and decide on another penalty that reflects the “gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm.”

The board says the new penalty must be “clear, necessary and proportionate” and consistent with Facebook’s rules for severe violations.

The board says if Facebook decides to restore Trump’s accounts, the company must be able to promptly address further violations.

Trump has also been permanently banned from Twitter.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Cheney Stakes

In the May 3, 2021 edition of Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson reveals the stakes of the fight between Liz Cheney and Kevin McCarthy. Following are concluding paragraphs.

As he has consolidated power over the Republican Party after leaving office, the former president has been less and less tolerant of those Republicans who have called out his refusal to recognize the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s election for what it is: a dangerous attack on our democracy. But Cheney is not giving in. After Trump’s announcement this morning, she tweeted: “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”

This fight is a proxy fight over whether Trump will win full control over the Republican Party. His loyalists have vowed to get rid of Cheney from her position in party leadership by the end of the month. An ally of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Scott Wong and Mike Lillis of The Hill: “She’s a liability, and McCarthy’s as fed up as the rest of us that she is focused on the past rather than winning back the House.”

But Cheney appears to have some key backing, including that of former president George W. Bush, who has recently said that if the party stands for “White Anglo-Saxon Protestantism, then it’s not going to win anything.” Cheney is speaking out and standing firm. In a speech today at the annual retreat for the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, in Georgia, she said: “We can’t embrace the notion the election is stolen. It’s a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy…. We can’t whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump’s big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.”

The GOP lives in fear of the man in Mar-a-Lago. Not so Liz Cheney!

Liz Cheney @LizCheney May 3
The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.

Charlie Sykes has some thought about the fracturing of the GOP: Liz Cheney won’t shut up.

WSJ also has some choice words (quoted at the end of this post). Neither will she live in fear of the Wrath of the Man in Mar-a-Lago.

The lady is not for turning.

Even as the anti-Cheney purge gathers momentum, Liz is not backing down or shutting up. Via CNN.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, said on Monday her party cannot accept the “poison” of the idea that the 2020 election was stolen and should not “whitewash” the January 6 Capitol riot – and Donald Trump’s role in fomenting it.

“We can’t embrace the notion the election is stolen. It’s a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy,” Cheney said, speaking behind closed doors at a conference in Sea Island, Georgia. “We can’t whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump’s big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.”

Cheney made her comments, confirmed to CNN by two people in the room, during an off-the-record interview with former House Speaker Paul Ryan before a crowd of donors and scholars at the annual retreat for the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

Paul Ryan, you say?

Oliver Darcy writes: “Cheney was being interviewed on stage by former House speaker Paul Ryan at that AEI retreat on Monday. Cheney was right, of course, but it’s ironic that she delivered those comments to Ryan. Ryan sits on the Fox Corp. board and has stood by silently as the company’s right-wing talk channel first pushed the Big Lie and now allows its stars to whitewash the Capitol Hill attack. When will he speak out about the rhetoric he is quite literally profiting off of?”

Yesterday, I also had some thoughts about Cheney:

Deadline White House
@DeadlineWH
“Given the threat to her leadership, what they really want [Liz Cheney] to do is to be silent. They want her to shut-up… Obviously she could save her career by going along with the lie… and she won’t do it”
- @SykesCharlie w/ @NicolleDWallace

Somewhat more suprisingly, the Wall Street Journal editorial board also has some thoughts. In today’s editorial, the WSJ warns against purging Cheney, while elevating crackpots like MTG.

Ms. Cheney should get credit for daring to stand alone despite the political risks. The Trumpians are vowing to defeat her in a primary in 2022, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Trump acolyte, flew to a rally in Cheyenne last week to stir up opposition. Donald Trump Jr. called into the rally to promote a primary challenge to her in 2022.

If bowing before all things Trump is the litmus test for being a loyal Republican, the party should get used to continued losses in the suburbs. Mr. McCarthy should be defending his colleague’s vote as a matter of principle, even if he disagreed with it, rather than living in fear of the wrath of Mar-a-Lago.

What Trump has to offer the GOP - opportunities for embarrassment.

Charlie Sykes, in the Bulwark, thinks that Mitt Romney Asked the Right Question.

Following are excerpts, with light editing by the Scriber.

Over the weekend, this happened:

Sen. Mitt Romney was lustily booed by the more than 2,100 Republican delegates who packed into the Maverik Center on Saturday for the party’s state convention.

“Accusations that Romney was a ‘traitor’ or ‘communist’ flew from the crowd like so many poison darts.”

Romney is, of course, a lifelong Republican. His father was the GOP governor of Michigan. Mitt was the Republican governor of Massachusetts, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, and is Utah’s junior United States Senator.

As the boos intensified, Romney asked the crowd:

“Aren’t you embarrassed?”

That question seems to hang in the air. How is the GOP not thoroughly humiliated by what it is becoming?

The House GOP evidently is not. Axios reports that GOP leaders are threatening to strip Liz Cheney of her leadership position for her disloyalty to Trump’s lie. During an interview with Axios on Friday, Rep. Steve Scalise laid down a marker of fealty: "This idea that you just disregard President Trump is not where we are, and, frankly, he has a lot to offer still.”

More to offer? Oh, come on!

Mystery Solvent @MysterySolvent tweeeted:
The one time leader of the free world who now lives alone in a hotel sharing buffets, common areas, and staff with strangers, yearns for attention and relevance so badly, he now stands on a patio step every night ranting to tens of people about a 6 month old election that he lost.

Here’s what he said:

“Watch Arizona, some very interesting things are happening in Arizona, and we just had a great ruling, or actually the Senate, the State Senate of Arizona. Let’s see what they find, I wouldn’t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes. So we’re going to watch that very close to the end after that we’ll watch Pennsylvania and you watch Georgia and you’re going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin and you’re watching New Hampshire, they found a lot of votes up in New Hampshire, a lot of votes up in New Hampshire just now, you saw that? Because this was a rigged election, everybody knows it and we’re going to be watching it very closely but start off by you just take a look, it’s on closed circuit…”

Imagine watching this and saying: Yes, that is our leader. We believe him. We follow him. Let’s put him back in the Oval Office.

Is that what he has to offer?

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Remember January 6th! News media must hold the congressional perps accountable.

Margaret Sullivan at the WaPo reports on The politicians who tried to overturn an election — and the local news team that won’t let anyone forget it.

Excerpts follow. (And thanks to the alert from Scriber’s Editor-at-Large, Sherry.)

The journalists at WITF, an all-news public radio station in Harrisburg, Pa., made a perfectly reasonable decision a few months ago.

They decided they wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism.

They wouldn’t do what too many in Big Journalism have done in recent months: shove into the memory hole the undemocratic efforts by some Republican elected officials to delegitimize or overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Too many Sunday news shows repeatedly book the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson without reminding viewers how these members of Congress tried to undo the results of the election — and encouraged the Trumpian lies about election fraud that led to the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol less than four months ago. A rare exception is CNN’s “State of the Union,” which hasn’t booked a single member of the so-called Sedition Caucus since January.

Sullivan names names and indicts news outlets for their kind treatment of those lawmakers who attacked our democracy.

"There’s a kind of clubby atmosphere on these shows, part of the Beltway Bubble mentality, in which it’s become almost impolite to raise the topic of the insurrection,” Princeton University history professor Kevin Kruse told me.

[Sullivan winds up:] I’d like to see more accountability. So would Princeton’s Kruse. “There’s a tendency in the political media to get caught up in the story of the day and not dwell on the things that need to be reckoned with,” he said.

If it were up to him, Kruse would prescribe a simple rule for network TV producers thinking about putting election denialists on-air: “Don’t book them, as long as they haven’t publicly retracted.” The Harrisburg station expects to continue its practice at least through the 2022 elections and possibly through 2024. If legislators change their minds, the station will reflect that in their language, but it won’t simply wipe the slate clean for them.

“Elected officials are going to run on this,” Blanchard said. “This is an example of their judgment.” In other words, no memory hole. No “let’s just move on.” And, sorry, no amnesty.

Certainly not for those actors in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Was January 6 the start of a new Order

From the Past, a Chilling Warning About the Extremists of the Present writes Neil MacFarquhar in the NY Times. Almost four decades after officials dismantled the Order, a violent far-right group, experts see echoes in the far right of today.

Excerpts follow. (And thanks to Scriber’s Editor-at-Large Sherry.

What initially seemed to F.B.I. agents like distant, disparate crimes turned out to be the opening salvos in a war against the federal government by members of a violent extremist group called the Order, who sought to establish a whites-only homeland out West.

Their crime spree played out in 1984. Fast forward to 2021. Federal agents and prosecutors who dismantled the Order see troubling echoes of its threat to democracy in the Capitol riot and the growing extremist activity across the country.

"When you see the country as politically and philosophically divided as it is today, that makes it more likely that somebody could take advantage of these times to bring about another revolutionary concept like the Order,” said Wayne F. Manis, the main F.B.I. agent on the case. “We stopped the Order. We did not stop the ideology.”

SNIP

Though the motivations are related, there is plenty that separates groups active now from those that operated in the past. Far-right organizations once needed to engage with possible recruits in person; now much of that radicalization occurs online. They can connect, scheme and even act through the internet. [In the 1980s] It was also unthinkable that any high-profile politician would voice opinions that such groups considered encouragement. Now those words have come from a former president.

Former agents viewed the Capitol riot and last year’s protests over social justice issues as possible seeds for radicalization.

“I feel that if there is an organization today from the extreme right that is following in the footsteps of the Order,” Mr. Manis said, “you will not know anything about it until it is too late and they have already done something dastardly.”