The New York Times interviews random Republican voters for the millionth time, still learns nothing

There is some unfortunate news to report today. Sadly, I have died. My cause of death was, as I always knew it would be, The New York Times. Seldom do we talk about the ongoing dangers presented by the Times, which is the unregulated gas stove of newspapers, but anyhow I read this new Times focus group piece talking to yet another band of unrepentant Trump voters and it caused me to immediately die. It's a damn shame, but I probably had it coming.

The premise of the piece is the same premise used for each of its one hundred million previous incarnations: The Times gathered up a dozen average-Joe Republican Americans it had previously talked to and asked them yet again what they thought about seditious coup conspirator Donald Trump, about the Republican Party, and about oh right the Jan. 6 insurrection and subsequent hearings publicizing what investigators have been able to learn about the origins of the violence.

What you get, when you ask any random dozen Americans to weigh on any subject not in their personal wheelhouse, is almost certain to be a train wreck every single time it is attempted. We know this. We have always known this. The whole genre is mostly an exercise for the press to find out how badly the press has fucked up its own public responsibilities, and in specific it really can't be anything more than a parlor-game premise in which we attempt to deduce, knowing nothing at all about the handful Americans corralled for public display, which news channel their television most frequently ends up on.

Most. Americans. Do. Not. Pay. Attention. To. Politics. They know only what they have heard thirdhand. The most useable quotes almost always come from the volunteers who are the least informed but the most hardheadedly confident in themselves, a bad combination that never gets any better than absolutely awful.

This is a very useful exercise if you want to lose all hope in America. It's one of the best approaches possible if your paper is looking to collect all its readers who do pay close attention to politics for the purpose of killing them all off at once.

When it comes to actually collecting useful information about anything other than the relative reach of various television and radio programs, however, the assault-every-diner approach is useless. So it must be that the Times really did intend to kill readers. They are serial killers. Their depravity knows no bounds. The murder weapons? Quotes from Americans still willing to say they support Republicans even after the party egged an attempted coup into being, Americans who have been selected for inclusion based explicitly on their utter disinterest in any politics that cannot be sloganed onto a hat.

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) Well, I think Republicans are our only option as far as getting us out of this mess that the Democrats have started with inflation and all that. Do they have a plan at this point? Doesn’t look like it. But are they organized? Doesn’t look like it. But there is hope there.

See, I don't want to write about politics anymore. I just don't. I want to write stories about elves and dwarves and dragons, stories in which the dwarves and elves are at each others throats because elves think trees should exist and dwarves can only find joy in extraction-based industries, and both are competing for control of a fantasy legislative body but they're evenly matched and can't make progress but then a collection of mountain trolls begin to run for office as well, and the mountain trolls argue that since the main reason for electing dwarves is that dwarves really hate elves, well then mountain trolls hate both elves and dwarves so that makes them even more qualified for office.

Anyway, it would all end with the head dwarf, whose name is Kevli or whatever, bargaining for the trolls' support by allowing them to eat both of his legs, one of his arms, both ears, and five dwarven legislators to be named later. It's all a mess, and while the dwarves are all arguing over who to feed to the trolls in order to keep Kevli from looking like a complete dork here the Dark Lord Braendoen is gathering his forces to give everybody slightly cheaper insuli—I mean, potions. Slightly cheaper potions.

I don't have to write about politics. I've got a vivid imagination that could, like, totally nail a story about racist dwarves that conspire with even more racist mountain trolls to keep anyone from getting cheap insuli-I mean, health potions.

But no, here I am, a corpse, because the Times had to kill me before I even had the chance to switch careers in self-defense.

Q: Is there a particular idea or value that you’d like [Republicans] to stand up for?

(Judi, 73, white, Okla., retired) Honesty.

See, I'm dead now. Everything you're hearing from me after this point is just gas escaping.

(Andrea, 49, white, N.J., executive assistant) Just start putting things back on the right track. It makes me scratch my head that the country never did better than when Trump was president — never. You know what I mean? The gas prices were low. The border was under control. Everything was just great. And he got run out of town just because he sends mean tweets and has a big mouth. They’d rather elect a nice guy and have the country in the toilet.

Andrea, a MILLION PEOPLE DIED and you're fucking on about cheap gas prices? THERE WAS A COUP, ANDREA. How the hell did The New York Times ever even find you, how is it that you even became aware that something called The New York Times even existed and wasn't just a phishing effort aimed at getting hold of your Social Security number?

(Alissa, 29, Latina, Fla., procurement) Just thinking back to how well we were doing as a country when [Trump] was running it, I would love to see that again. I think he’s strong. I thought he was a great president. If DeSantis decides to run, I might turn a little bit. It depends.

What Donald Trump brought to America was hats. That's it. There's not a damn thing he actually did except the hat thing. And public belligerence. And being a rapist who bought an entire beauty pageant brand so that he could see teen girls change in the dressing rooms. Oh, and the international extortion bits. And the complete upending of American standing overseas, selling out allies while prodding enemies to open up new beach resorts. And using the presidency of the United States as a reason to mark up cocktail prices in his Washington hotel.

It's the hat thing, isn't it. The exchange Donald Trump made with America is that he gets to ignore laws and be roundly incompetent and kill off so many people that we’re stuffing bodies in refrigerated trucks for lack of other places to put them, but in exchange the shittiest people you know all get the opportunity to buy Chinese hats with a meaningless slogan on them. I mean, who wouldn't go for that deal.

Q: Is there anything about [Trump] that’s turned you off over the last year or that you sort of lost steam on?

(Judi, 73, white, Okla., retired) Well, when Covid started, I think he was swayed into the vaccine thing. He listened to the wrong people. I’ll leave it at that.

Yeah, that's when I died the second time, becoming double-dead. So far I cannot report any meaningful differences from just being the usual kind of dead. This must be what it's like to be a cat.

(Lorna, 60, white, Mo., customer service representative) I think it’s ridiculous people want to put him in prison. For what? And look at Biden and his son.

Again, there is only one reason why any journalistic outlet should ever do any of these diner-inspired stories about The Common American. It is a window into which news outlets they consume and nothing else. There is not one glitteringly enfuckened thing Lorna, 60, of Missouri could tell us about the relative legal jeopardy of Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or Beefystevo Biden that would be the slightest bit informative or useful.

And I do mean that: You could concoct an entirely fictional Biden son named "Beefystevo," ask 12 Republican voters about Beefystevo's crimes, and at least eight of them would insist that Beefystevo has done many, many crimes, all very bad, some of them in Ukraine and some of them in Narnia, and they will tell you that The New York Times is crookedly covering up the very existence of Beefystevo Biden in coordination with Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and a giraffe in Texas that looks kind of similar to Bill Gates.

I dare you to ask your focus groups about Beefystevo and his crimes. I dare you, New York Times. You know what will happen, and I know what will happen. Do it, you diner-hounding cowards.

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) I want DeSantis to run. He’s just like Trump. He’s just as cantankerous, but I think he’s a little bit more refined. For example, you have Jack Daniels, or you have Gentleman Jack. Gentleman Jack is a lot smoother, but it’s still whiskey.

Thank God we finally have someone willing to be honest about Republican politics. That's the word that comes to mind when you think about Florida's Ron DeSantis: Refined. The man is refined, in that you can either suck on what he's selling or what Trump's selling and both will get you nice and politically shitfaced but the DeSantis version goes down smooooother. It's probably because Ron DeSantis doesn't have as much golf-course bunker sand in his shoes. It might be because the DeSantis bottle is spiked with 20% hydroxychloroquine siphoned from an early-pandemic Florida stockpile DeSantis is still trying to get rid of.

Hey, so do any of our fine Normal Republican Americans want to revise or extend their past remarks about the 2020 presidential election being stolen just because a traitorous crapsack and his eight syphillitic reindeer shouted about it way back when? Anyone want to walk that back, or not walk that back?

Was Trump, glorious figurehead who raised American life into the highest tier of awesomeness that has ever been, "cheated" out of winning his pandemic economic-crisis post-(first)-impeachment election?

(Andrea, 49, white, N.J., executive assistant) Cheated as in ballots — truckloads of ballots showing up in the middle of the night. There’s videos of it. There is proof. [...]

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) I know the videos that Andrea is talking about. It’s well documented, but the media doesn’t want to cover that type of stuff.

(Judi, 73, white, Okla., retired) No, I still think [Trump] won the election and that he should still be our president. He should be our president right now.

Truckloads! Truckloads of secret vaccines! I mean, ballots! It's all on video! It's streaming in 5G from every maple tree, but the government doesn't want you to know! It is very important that we, the readers of The New York Times, are exposed to the free and unfettered opinions of our nation's most thickheaded and source-agnostic of opinion havers, because reasons! How would America know that one specific retired Oklahoma vaccine skeptic believes Joe Biden is not the legitimate president if The New York Times did not create an entire "interactive" web feature highlighting this important fucking information? How could the readership survive if we did not contact these people not once, but a second time so that they could rub their curlicue opinions in our eyeballs twice instead of once?

What about the whole coup thing? You know, the attempted coup, the one in which Trump advertised for a rally coinciding with the certification of the United States presidential election, got angry when his security forces tried to deprive the mob of their weapons, and told them all to march to the Capitol during a joint session of Congress as means of threatening Congress if they did not overturn the election's results? That whole thing? The thing that should have made any decent person look for an exit sign, rather than being thought a supporter of a genuine bona-fide traitor to the nation?

(Andrea, 34, biracial, N.H., I.T. support) The internet was just ablaze. I made a post in support of it, and a lot of people came to attack me in the comment section. That day was really crazy. [...]

When I saw videos of everything that happened, I was pretty embarrassed. I was like, “Oh, no. We’re going to hear about this forever.” It did look very chaotic and violent. I knew it was going to come down to blaming Trump somehow, saying that he was a ringleader and he’s responsible, he riled everybody up.

Ah, the very American view of "you make comments supporting one violent riot and everybody gets on your case about it" followed by "oh jeez, this turned out very fucky, now we're all going to be stuck hearing about it." Can't kill me any more than twice, New York Times. Not in a single day, anyway.

What about all those congressional hearings detailing what investigators found out about the coup's organizers, allies, and origins? Any minds changed over here in the Republicans Who Don't Pay Attention To Politics ballpit?

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) If anything, I think my views have become more solidified. If you look, they made a big thing out of it in the media. They didn’t cover Black Lives Matter, antifa. I mean, you talk about Jan. 6 being planned. Antifa, throughout the whole summer of 2020, I mean, those things were planned, organized. The media didn’t cover it.

I cannot emphasize how enraging it was that the media kept covering things that did happen while ignoring things that did not happen. You know who else planned, well, not the violent overthrow of our nation's government but, like, other stuff? Antifa, probably! But no, instead everybody made a Big Damn Deal out of a Republican-led attempt to erase a constitutional United States election. Gawd.

Please tell me any of these Informed Public Voices at least watched the hearings they're now being asked to opine on?

(Barney, 72, white, Del., retired) I didn’t see anything live. It was a waste of $3 million.

I cannot emphasize this enough, but I mean this in kindness: There is no amount of government money that could be spent that would not be a waste of money, when it comes to convincing Barney of Delaware, retired, to have an opinion other than the one he wants to have. This is indeed a terrible waste of government resources.

But the crowd Donald Trump gathered to march on the Capitol was a pretty violent bunch, at least we can all agree on—

(Alissa, 29, Latina, Fla., procurement) No, I don’t think it was. I’ve personally been to Trump rallies. They’re very peaceful. So I don’t think what happened that day had anything to do with Trump. I think it was planned.


Surely the news of an attempt to violently overturn the results of a U.S. election have left at least some small impression on Republican Jus' Folks.

(Lorna, 60, white, Mo., customer service representative) Well, a couple of people locally here were arrested. So of course, they’d show them every news clip, on every channel. It just got old. It was just a waste of taxpayers’ money, in my opinion.

I mean, that's the thing about failed violent coups, they're just so boooooring and everybody keeps going on about them all the time and it makes channel surfing sooooo tedious. Thank you again, New York Times, for exposing us to the very important views of that class of Americans that tries very hard to know nothing about politics and gets bitter and resentful when you shove it onto their television channels anyway.

Because, you know, the Jan. 6 hearings were a farce to begin with. How the hell would the United States Congress know more things than Andrea of New Jersey does? How would anyone in the White House know more about Trump’s actions than Andrea does, or Barney does? They wouldn't, so that means this was all a set up.

(Andrea, 49, white, N.J., executive assistant) I 100 percent agree with what Barney said. I think they testified because they weren’t part of the cool kids anymore or bribes. I’m not really sure what it is, but to make up blatant stories like that, there’s got to be some kind of underlying “What’s in it for me?” kind of thing, I think.

Well, we've rediscovered a core Republican voter tenet so we can't say this was a total waste of time. Ask pretty much anyone in the Republican Party, from the common voter to your average sex-crime-covering-up Republican lawmaker, and they'll tell you that there's no possible reason anyone would want to offer evidence about a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol unless there was something in it for them. The idea that anyone would be sincerely shaken by, say, a mob of pole-wielding cop-beating weirdlings hunting down Trump's political enemies in the halls of the Capitol is utterly foreign to Every Single Republican. The notion eludes them. It is not a concept that can wiggle into their smooth and proud brains.

If people are going to jump in to "testify" every single time an armed mob beats police officers inside the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to hunt down the vice president then where will it end? It's all very suspicious. They probably just want to make the coup guy look bad.

I really wish I hadn't died. Well, I suppose it's more accurate to say I really wish The New York Times hadn't gone out of its way to write an interactive fancy-pants feature specifically intended to kill me, because it seems like a jerk move every time they've tried it and yet they just keep pushing.

Bring us home, Timesy. Show us that any of these people have opinions even an onion-skin thickness above the buzzword generic. Show us that you have gathered up a small crowd who, while admirably anonymous and no doubt chosen according to best dice-throwing the editorial staff of the Times can provide, is worthy of national attention because these dozen people have at least thought about any of this stuff long enough to have any opinion that could not be more efficiently produced by an artificial intelligence exposed only to the opening monologues of weekday Fox News opinion hosts.

Show us, please show us, that you have not just gathered a collection of cranks who are angry that government keeps feeding children and trying to prevent polio and keeps blocking very profitable companies from pumping skin-dissolving toxic soup directly into your home's plumbing. That these are people who have put thought into this, and are not simply reactionary faux-libertarian crackpots spooning the wisdom of gum wrappers and fortune cookies into everyone else's tired, tired brains.

Q: Sandy, what would be a sign that our democracy is healthy?

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) I would say getting back to the basics, sticking with the Constitution. There’s just too much government interference in everything. We’ve got so many regulations, taxes and controls and spending and everything. Get back to the fundamentals. Less government involvement. We should have an army, a military. That’s about it. Otherwise, just stay out of the way.

(Michael, 65, white, Utah, retired) I tend to agree with Sandy, just hoping that we could start letting the Constitution be the Constitution and let us have our rights with freedom of speech and just start living the way that they did hundreds of years ago, when they believed in our country.

There you go. How wonderful. I am so, so glad I didn't live to see that.

Happy New Year! Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter is on the show today to talk about the wild garbage fire that was the Republican speaker of the House vote. Kerry and Markos also break down what this onionskin-thin conservative majority can and cannot do in the coming year, as well as what the Democratic representatives can do to make Kevin McCarthy’s life just that much tougher.

Musk leaks Twitter documents to pursue his own agenda, making Twitter a more dangerous platform

It's been an eventful weekend in Muskland, and as usual every act boils down to Elon Musk making some new attempt to make Twitter worse. Say what you want about Musk, but the creativity of his approach is impressive; the man keeps inventing new ways to make Twitter worth less than it was the day before. Could you do that? No, probably not. Even more impressive is Musk's creativity in inventing new disasters for Twitter that don't involve white supremacists or Nazi sympathizers.

The big news, or what was supposed to be big news until it flopped, was Musk's release of internal Twitter communications that showed employees agonizing over the company's October 2020 decision to block a New York Post story in which the Post claimed it had obtained access to—insert drumroll here—"Hunter Biden's laptop." In a fairly interminable Twitter thread, former big-name journalist turned Substacker Matt Taibbi shared snippets of the internal debate that were provided to him by Musk.

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The big news, as Taibbi would have it, was that this internal debate existed; we already know, however, that Twitter would soon reverse its decision and that the company saw this particular episode as an unforced error on its part. What Taibbi (who is not a credible voice on these matters) glosses over are the reasons why Twitter, along with nearly every other major non-Rupert Murdoch-owned news outlet, was so wary of the Post's October "surprise." The news that the contents of a laptop belonging to "Hunter Biden" had somehow been delivered to Rudy Giuliani and other pro-Trump provocateurs was enough to cause skepticism of itself, given that Giuliani was embroiled in a years-long effort to manufacture a new pro-Russia hoax that would claim that it was Russia's enemy Ukraine and U.S. Democratic figures who were the true villains behind the Russian government's interventions on Trump's behalf in the 2016 presidential elections. The FBI had even warned Twitter beforehand that there was reason to believe a Russia-backed disinformation campaign targeting Hunter Biden, specifically, was in the works. The Post refused to provide evidence of its claims to more reputable media outlets, and many observers inside and outside Twitter indeed saw all the makings of a Giuliani-backed, possibly Russian-backed election eve hoax.

If it wasn't a hoax, new factors came into play: Was the laptop's data stolen, and would publishing information from a stolen device constitute a crime? What evidence could the Post provide that even if the data was genuine, it hadn't been altered between the time it left Hunter Biden's possession and, through a series of suspect events, landed in the Post's possession? (And, it turns out, the data had indeed been altered.)

We still don't have solid answers to any of it, but the internal Twitter debate was initially premised on suspicions that the Post's "laptop" story stood good chance of either being a Giuliani-tied hoax or the product of a criminal data hack. Twitter later reevaluated those odds and reversed itself, but if you were to ask anyone not on the Trump campaign's personal go-to lists whether or not they could vouch for a story that seemed to be pulled quite directly from the same Giuliani-promoted anti-Ukraine propaganda efforts that led to Donald Trump's first impeachment trial, you can begin to understand why Twitter's trust and safety teams were falling over themselves to determine whether the notoriously sensationalist Post had just willingly fallen for a hoax or, worse from Twitter's standpoint, were abetting a crime.

All of this is fairly interesting from a content moderation standpoint ... and that's about it. For a thread exploring just what it does and doesn't mean, however, you can try here.

It also can't be overlooked that a very great deal of the controversy revolves around conservatives wanting to expose pornographic images of Hunter Biden found on the "laptop," in the name of constitutional free speech or somesuch. Revenge porn is not, however, generally considered free speech. Nor do we have any concrete explanation for why the crowd currently beside themselves with theories about "groomers" continues to be so fired up in their demands that they be able to post images of penises, though the Jordan-Gaetz wing of the party could probably shed some light on that for us and will no doubt make it their mission to do so whether we want them to or not.

Alternatively you can do what Donald Trump Jr. did: Snort a hell of a lot of something and melt the absolute bejeebers down because being able to expose private information and images of a politician's grown-ass adult son is the most important issue of our modern era:

Junior is upset that the media isn’t making a big deal out of the Hunter story, and says that 70% of people would’ve switched their vote in 2020 if they had known about it.

— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) December 4, 2022

It's not clear Uday here is really thinking through the consequences of his assertions that probing the private life of a prominent American politician's drug-fueled failson is absolutely something that must be done, but if that clip is any indication he won't be able to think through such things until he gets three full days of sleep and at least a few bags of IV fluid.

The biggest takeaway from the story, however, might be its impact on Twitter itself. In a wide-ranging Twitter Spaces Q&A session featuring a vaudevillian cast of supporting characters, Elon Musk claimed he has given full access to internal Twitter emails and documents to Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and to at least one other person.

Musk's goal appears to be to hunt for justification for his claims that Twitter has acted to "give preference to left wing candidates" here and abroad; in order to find such evidence, Musk is relying on at least two would-be investigators who have focused their current careers on making such claims.

Whether you work for Twitter or simply use the platform, Musk has now demonstrated that he's willing to publicly release your work for the purposes of backing his own conservative agenda.

That's going to be an existential problem—literally—for protesters in other countries who have used Twitter to organize and to evade government speech restrictions. If Musk is willing to open up private employee communications in order to target, by name, employees and groups who he believes favor the "left," will the Musk-led company be similarly eager to expose the direct messages of those who have run afoul of conservative Saudi and Iranian regimes? And what of Ukraine, where Twitter is a dominant means of tracking—often anonymously—both military movements and likely war crimes?

Can U.S. journalists themselves trust that Musk will not personally take an interest in their own direct messages on the social network, or release those private messages if he believes they show "bias" against his own friends and allies?

Musk's apparent move to provide anti-left "investigators" with years of internal employee records goes beyond making Twitter a more dodgy place for advertisers and for attention-grabbing celebrities and journalists. It demonstrates Twitter to be a now inherently unsafe place for anyone who might someday run afoul of Musk and his personal agenda. It wipes out Twitter as an organizing tool—unless, of course, you're a white supremacist, neo-Nazi sympathizer, crypto scammer, conservative propagandist, or other Musk ally.

Yes, that brings us to the final story of the weekend: Musk's order to reinstate celebrity train wreck Kanye West, even though West had been suspended from Twitter for antisemitic statements, ended precisely how everyone but Musk thought it would after Musk was again forced to suspend West after West tweeted, in the immediate aftermath of an Alex Jones appearance in which he praised Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, an image that merged the Star of David with the Nazi swastika.

Because Musk continues to know absolutely nothing about anything when it comes to running a social media network, First Amendment-thumping conman Musk falsely claimed he was obliged to suspend West because showing the image was a violation of American law. This is an outrageously false statement, and one that proves Musk to be an absolute buffoon when it comes to interpreting "free speech" rights or anything else.

It does, however, hint at yet another way Musk may be getting Twitter into very hot regulatory waters. Displaying Nazi symbols is not illegal in the United States, but it can be illegal in Germany. As an international company, Twitter must navigate an ever-bubbling stew of international regulations, and must now do so despite Musk's removal of most of the staff responsible for knowing those regulations and abiding by them.

There's no question that West tweeted the symbol as an intentional nod to Nazis, but whether that specific image would run afoul of German law is unclear. What's considerably more dangerous to Musk is his own order that previously banned hate accounts, including neo-Nazi figures, be unbanned. There appear to be around 12,000 suspended accounts so far reactivated, including QAnon hoaxers, spam accounts, "adult content" distributors, and the heads of several notorious white supremacist groups.

At the same time, Twitter moderation is grappling, poorly, with far-right and fascist attempts to get anti-fascist watchdog accounts banned en masse by flooding Twitter with false reports targeting those users. The far-right may not need help, however, given that Musk himself has been publicly asking far-right figures to provide him with lists of accounts they believe should be suspended.

Oh—and in the meantime, the re-launch of "Twitter Blue" remains stymied by rampant identity theft concerns and now, a Musk-led attempt to dodge Apple App Store fees.

So there's where things stand now. Twitter is suspending watchdog accounts that report on the doings of extremist far-right groups, a far-right campaign that is successful in large part because Twitter now doesn't have enough moderators to police against the gaming of their systems. Musk himself is publicly appealing to extremist figures to report their enemies. And Musk is releasing internal Twitter communications to a handpicked list of right-leaning investigators in a move that is already resulting in the far-right targeting of Twitter employees who made (or didn't make) decisions that Musk personally suspects to have been motivated by hostility towards the right.

Whether it's time to leave Twitter, at least for the moment, is up to you. But know the platform is now inherently "unsafe" in that Musk has proven willing to use his ownership to selectively leak whatever he personally believes might provide him with an advantage. In the meantime the question of Twitter's short-term viability is entirely out of our hands; Musk is on a collision course with European regulators, with the Federal Trade Commission, and with the site's own teetering stability.

With the reinstatement of high-profile hate accounts and new warnings from federal officials predicting that new Twitter-published hate speech will lead to extremist violence, it's now impossible to name any Musk action that hasn't had the immediate result of making Twitter less profitable, less reliable, and far more dangerous.


Twitter's moderation teams collapse while Musk berates the advertisers who are bailing out

Musk's only hope for keeping Twitter alive is circling down the drain of that sink he carried in

More top Twitter executives resign, warning that Musk is exposing the company to massive legal risks

Republicans lean into racism, fascism, and glorification of sedition in weekend Nevada rally

Donald Trump and Republican candidates held a Nevada rally on Saturday. Thanks to the speakers, there was no attempt to misdirect or moderate the speeches. What was on display was the heart of Republicanism's new fascism. Racism; paranoia; hoax promotion; a focus not on winning elections, but on winning the power to administer and subjugate them. Highlights of the event come via Acyn.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville delivered unabashed racism:

All the quiet parts now with bullhorns

— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 9, 2022

A bit of climate denial was thrown in as well, part of the party's now-widespread anger at science and intellectualism in all its forms:

Tuberville: God changes the climate

— Acyn (@Acyn) October 9, 2022

From Jim Marchant, the party's Big Lie-endorsing and sedition-backing secretary of state candidate in Nevada, we got a definition of what taking our country back means, to Republicans. It means controlling the mechanisms of our elections.

Marchant: If get all our Secretaries of State elected around the country like this, we take our country back

— Acyn (@Acyn) October 9, 2022

But what are the secretaries of state supposed to do, once the offices are in Republican control? Apparently their role will consist not only of monitoring elections, but facilitating criminal acts from the party?

Kash Patel says they have to elect Laxalt to defeat the “lies” about “Ukraine impeachment one, Ukraine impeachment two” and January 6th with the truth

— Acyn (@Acyn) October 9, 2022

Criminal acts such as preparing and delivering forged documents purporting to be legitimate presidential electors based on groups of individual Republicans simply declaring themselves to be so:

McDonald: They can point at us and call us fake electors.. No, we stood up for the rights of Nevadans

— Acyn (@Acyn) October 9, 2022

Glorifying the reign of Dear Leader, mainly by fictionalizing it, was on the agenda:

Fox News made them stupid. Fox and Trump got them to stop trusting facts. Then Trump showed the power of repeating lies.

— Randi Mayem Singer (@rmayemsinger) October 9, 2022

After the crowd had been pummeled by delusionists for long enough, it was time for the traitor whose lies led to deaths in the Capitol to bellow his own versions. Donald Trump, a traitor, wants you to remember the good times of unabated pandemic death.

Trump: Think of it, two years ago everything was so good in our country

— Acyn (@Acyn) October 9, 2022

A proper fascist leader might have dug up the corpse of pandemic casualty Herman Cain and rigged it to applaud when Trump spoke that line, but we can't have everything. Trump left office a seditionist, a crooked traitor who betrayed the country in a dozen slovenly ways, but that was only after incompetently handling a national crisis to the tune of half a million deaths. But this was a crowd of Republicans willing to support such a traitor; while many of them likely had family members who died in large part because this buffoon refused to support even masking, much less other protections, those family members are long forgotten. What is important is that the shit-skulled traitor be properly cheered.

We moved on to, of course, demands that those who were not seditionist traitors be locked up.

We’ve reached the first lock her up chant

— Acyn (@Acyn) October 9, 2022

While glorifying Trump's own acts to overthrow the government.

Trump: You know the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen? January 6th

— Acyn (@Acyn) October 9, 2022

A bit of fever dream was added in, as the traitor's mind wandered to his more current problems:

"George H.W. Bush took millions of documents to a former bowling alley and a former Chinese restaurant where they combined them. So they're in a bowling alley slash Chinese restaurant." -- Trump

— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) October 9, 2022

But Trump took time out of his own fascist delusions to promote a foreign dictatorship. The Republican Party has fetished murderous Russian kleptocrat Vladimir Putin, even as Putin faces the world exposed as a fraud, a thug whose reign has so decimated his country that his own military has collapsed from the corruption. Ukraine is currently routing Russian armies, threatening to take back Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia for nearly a decade.

Trump, who consistently sought to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty at every turn during his time in office for reasons we can still only speculate on, took a moment to promote new Russian demands that Ukrainians halt their destruction of the army that sought to occupy them.

Putin wants an immediate negotiation because he is losing and wants to stop the Ukrainian offensive before they take back more of the land Russia has illegally seized. Interesting that Trump again advocates the Putin position. And of course says nothing critical about Putin.

— Max Boot 🇺🇦🇺🇸 (@MaxBoot) October 9, 2022

Republicanism is hardening into a fascist movement steadily, and with no significant pushback. In just one event we see assertion of white supremacy, a barrage of false propaganda meant to glorify the movement and deny its failures, the now-omnipresent contempt for book-learning in all its forms, the glorification of violence to assert party dominance, assertions that the nation can be saved only if the party itself administers its elections, and the seeds of likely future violence. The party became a fascist party when it backed the January 6 coup attempt, both on the day itself and for these two long years afterwards as it both obstructed all attempts to investigate Trump's actions during the coup and glorified, to their base, the alleged patriotism of the seditionists themselves.

We are now at the point where the movement believes even state national security secrets do not belong to the state, but belong to Donald Trump personally, by the rules of finders keepers. It is fascist, fascist, fascist. Look at the crowd, in those images. They are proud to be white supremacists, to rally around hoaxes, and to back the attempted overthrow of their own government. They are having so much fun, as they cheer for it all and hold up their pre-made signs.

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Kevin McCarthy’s allies have spent big bucks to retaliate against Republicans who oppose him

We've got another press dive into the world of House Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy, and once again, it manages to be darkly, unintentionally hilarious. The political press just cannot help but paint every politician's personal acts of revenge as Machiavellian strategery, weaving a grand basket of complications around an egg of a premise that would otherwise look tawdry, just lying there on its own.

Yes, The Washington Post has a look at "How Kevin McCarthy's political machine worked to sway the GOP field," and the answer is "with money." What the Post has discovered is a devoted effort by McCarthy and his wealthy allies to sabotage the careers of would-be House Republicans who don't back McCarthy's leadership ambitions. Most of it is through the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC, but because this is American politics and American politics is deeply crooked, an assortment of other billionaire-backed PAC names pop in and out to help the cause as needed. There is no part of our election system that is not either controlled outright by money, or that cannot be tweaked by a single anonymous rich person so that it better aligns with their own anonymous interests. We do the voting, but it’s anonymous rich people that decide which names are on the ballots.

Mind you, there's a bunch of blowhardism thrown in from the parties involved about how no, no, McCarthy and his allies are just trying to make sure the party presents more "electable" Republicans than what they've currently been dredging up, to form a "more functioning GOP caucus." And it’s a pretty damn thin case: McCarthy and allies are still backing, for example, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a sedition-backing one-person wrecking crew making her way through every pretense at decency her party once tried to maintain, even as they spent freely (though secretly!) to sabotage Madison Cawthorn after Cawthorn let slip that Washington, D.C., Republicanism was a cesspit of cocaine and sex parties.

I dunno here, but let's see if we can tease out what the difference is between the pro-sedition treasonbastards that McCarthy's money team is willing to embrace and the pro-sedition treasonbastards that go too far.

"In safe Republican districts, controversial Republicans like former New York State party chair Carl Paladino, Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini and Trump-endorsed congressional candidate Joe Kent have been targeted after distancing themselves from McCarthy’s leadership ..."

Campaign Action

Oh. There it is right there. Well hell, why'd we need any of the rest of it?

Take, for example, the case of Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler, who voted for Trump's impeachment—the sin that turned other members of the caucus into pariahs. The intolerable sin. And yet, McCarthy's allies spent big against her Trump-backed opponent, Joe Kent:

"Kent, her Trump-endorsed challenger, opposed McCarthy as speaker ..."

It does feel like a pattern:

"Sabatini, a friend of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), had been an outspoken critic of McCarthy."

So what we have here is a Republican would-be majority that is willing to tolerate political positions from pro-sedition to pro-impeaching the people who tried to do the sedition, so long as you don't tick off that one little box that will irritate Kevin McCarthy on a, shall we say, professional level.

And here we thought Republicanism didn't have coherent policy stances. Look! We just found a big one! Bow to the guy who controls the money, or get the snot kicked out of you!

As I said at the beginning, there's something deeply funny about this reporting. The whole premise is that rich people close to Kevin Owen McCarthy are trying to filter out some of the most conspicuous Nazi-loving or pro-sedition wackadoodles from Republican ranks. The people behind the PACs are trying to sell it as a noble effort to pull Republicanism back from, at the least, openly supporting the democracy-ending rebellion.

But even on its own terms, it’s inconsistent with reality as we know it. McCarthy continues to make very nice with the head seditionist who got people killed inside the Capitol as part of an attempted overthrow of the government. McCarthy keeps vowing to restore the committee assignments one of the most brazen pro-seditionists of all if voters put him in charge. House leadership has specifically worked to defend avid seditionists while punishing members who spoke out to condemn Trump for the attempted coup.

Instead, the most aggressive moves McCarthy and his allies have made against any House Republican were reserved for the one irritant who mentioned, on tape, that boy howdy there are a lot of coke orgies going on behind House Republican scenes.

THAT SEEMS VERY RELEVANT SOMEHOW. Can't put my finger on why. But yeah, sure, these are some bold moves by Kevin McCarthy and his biggest fundraisers to, uh, kneecap the political careers of anyone who badmouths Kevin McCarthy.

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Meet Politico’s new maverick publisher, Peter Elon Bezos Yang Musk or whatever

The Washington Post has a long read on the man now in control of American political news site Politico, and it comes with the newsworthy snippet that Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner sent a rather bizarre email to his executive team "weeks" before the November 2020 elections.

"Do we all want to get together for an hour in the morning on November 3 and pray that Donald Trump will again become President of the United States of America?" he asked his team.

That the rich "entrepreneurial"-styled head of an international news company might have still been backing ridiculous clownburger Donald Trump—after transparently corrupt acts and a pandemic response that relied heavily on his clownburger son-in-law poking his nose into things before everyone lost all remaining interest—is not really news. Much of the news you read comes through the filter of right-leaning corporate owners who don't give a particular damn about anything but themselves and their personal cash flows, whether it be the Post's own worker-gouging Bezos or the unmitigated malevolence of the Murdoch clan. It's baked in.

The weirder part is that Döpfner apparently insisted quite boldly he had never sent such a message, right up until the Post showed him their copy of the email in question, after which he claimed he might have sent such a thing as "an ironic, provocative statement in the circle of people that hate Donald Trump."

You know, just to get a rise out of his own executives. As one does, when one wants to be a free-spirited provocateur.

The “I only did that to be an asshole” defense is itself usually a pretty solid one when it comes to any profile of any chief executive who has rapidly risen through the ranks and now stands on the top of the common rabble, and Döpfner might have had a shot at selling the Ironic Asshole Defense had the email not also contained a numbered list of Trump's supposed best accomplishments, aside from the being impeached for corruption and leading a staff of incompetent mostly-crooked buffoons through a campaign of screwing up any part of government any one of them was aware of.

"No American administration in the last 50 years has done more," wrote Döpfner after listing off successes like "defending the free democracies" against Russia(?), pressuring NATO to spend more money(??) and, of course, "tax reforms."

A complete failure to respond to worldwide pandemic disaster didn't make the cut of Döpfner's concerns, and whether or not Trump instituted a policy to intentionally separate refugee children from their parents is not worth mentioning. It just couldn't compete against the powerful success of "tax reforms."

The Post's profile of Döpfner is gawdawful familiar, even to the point of being rote. We're told that Döpfner's politics are hard to pin down, but that he thinks the Post and The New York Times have gone too far left while he is not a fan of conservative media's "alternative facts." He believes there is a nonpartisan path between the two, between "predictable political camps." He is an iconoclast, spending his money on "a collection of female nudes by female artists" rather than the usual yachts. He's not a fan of racism or homophobia, but as his plaudits for Trump's alleged successes show, neither is a dealbreaker.

Oh, and he calls Elon Musk "one of the most inspiring people" he's met, and the man’s son works for the fascism-promoting white-nationalist-boosting Peter Thiel, and it just happens that the two news outlets at the top of the company's German media empire are a hard-right skeevy tabloid and a not-as-hard-right mostly corporatist paper—an arrangement we here in America are already quite familiar with and do not find "hard to pin down" in the slightest.

By the time you're even halfway through, then, the Post story paints a picture of the sort of big-media iconoclast who is utterly rote at this point. Got it. He's a right-leaning new-money self-promoting entrepreneur type who wants to chart a path where rich people get lots of tax cuts, but we maybe don't burn his LGBTQ friends at the stake. He's here to revamp journalism around a version of centrism that thinks Donald Trump was doing a bang-up job when he was scooting around the world dragging his bare ass on the carpets while not giving a particular damn about the crooked parts or the authoritarianism.

We heard this biography when it was about Musk. Or about Thiel. Or when Andrew Yang declared that all this fuss over hard-right fascism and not-fascism was super-super partisan and what the world needed instead was a new party that didn't care about such things and instead cared about whatever Andrew Yang cared about—cryptocurrencies, maybe. We heard it when it was the Starbucks guy who wanted to run for president on the same platform.

This isn't being a maverick. This is the most bog standard of all possible Rich Person Political Stances. This is the utter, magnificent laziness of men at the top of their profession quickly coming to decide that Politics Itself is wrong and that they, uniquely and truly, are the ones who can see through the nonsense and give us a nice, semi-fascist middle ground.

Jeebus Cripes, this is Great Gatsby stuff. New Wealth Fixes The World is what Ayn Rand choked her pages with. This sort of nihilistic I-can't-be-defined-by-your-politics hokum is the essence of every "tax cuts for rich people, marijuana for the poor people" college libertarian rant—and the people in charge of the world love this vapidity. Each of them is convinced they, personally, may have invented it.

We get it. The moment a certain kind of man gains elevated wealth and power, they can't rest until the rest of the world knows that it's because they have the brain to solve all problems, and the answer they come up with every last time is: A middle position! One where both sides agree that I get tax cuts and we compromise down the middle on the fascism and book-burning and whatnot!

I mean ... whatever. The Post is doing us a service in showing us that time after time, the leaders of all the stuff you watch and read are, for the most part, vapid people who rose through the ranks of other vapid people to become the new earls and dukes of vapidity, but there’s not a lot of divergent thinking among any of them. Is there any question that newspapers find people to own newspapers to be the cleverest and most interesting people in the world? Are you surprised when a new network head is feted by the rest of the industry as having a bold new take on things that only looks exactly the same as the previous take to you because you aren't a media visionary?

Eh. Seriously though, to write a letter boosting Donald Trump for overseeing corporate tax cuts in the fall of 2020, with half a million American pandemic dead, a prior impeachment over corruption, and a list of accomplishments that can best be described only as a campaign of international blowhardism: The new head who will be steering Politico into yet another vision of wealth-backing neutrality seems to have spent a lot less time on his political stances than he has on his art collection. Can't all these iconoclasts follow their hearts, building space yachts shaped like naked women or whatever it is animates them without dragging the rest of us into it? Why dip yourself into politics at all? If all you want are tax breaks, sure, whoever develops a new space program gets a tax break. Whoever figures out a way to keep the state of Florida above water when Greenland's ice sheets collapse gets a tax break, and we'll rename Miami to whatever new name you want.

We'll agree to that if you all stop telling us how your own indifference to the slow dismantling of world democracies amounts, when balanced against new tax policies, to a heretofore unseen and brilliant Third Way. Gawd, just stop already.

Meet the new dark money Republican hoax and troll group, ‘Citizens for Sanity’

One of the hallmarks of the Steve Bannon era, and the Tucker Carlson era, the Rudy Giuliani era, and God help us all we could keep going with that for another hour if nobody reined us in, was the seemingly omnipresent political question: Are American voters really dim enough to fall for that? "That" has been a take-your-pick selection of some of the weirdest conspiracy theories and paranoias to ever have campaign money put behind them, but the answer has always seemed to be: Yes.

Yes, there is literally no invented paranoia too ridiculous for some segment of the jus' folks Republican base to refuse to latch on to. You say Central American drug cartels are working with Al Qaeda to ship dangerous sex toys to Walmart store basements? This requires immediate action! Why are Democrats letting this happen? Why are our national newspapers not up in arms about this? Why yes, I will donate $20 to your campaign or interest group so that you can bring us more news about the Al Qaeda Sex Toy Caravan!

You might remember, as one example, that Texas Republicans—the sort of people who willingly elect Louie Gohmert to office, and more than once—became convinced during the Obama years that a multistate military exercise used to test and train our large-scale military operations capabilities, dubbed by the Pentagon as Jade Helm, was secretly a plot by the federal government to take over Texas and turn it into, uh, part of America. Republicans showed up at town halls seething about these things. The state's Republican officials put out stern warnings insisting that they were on the lookout for this sort of thing, so if any Texas law enforcement folks saw any suspicious pro-Obama annexation happening, by gum there would be trouble.

No, really. State officials had to "address" this and everything.

So yeah, something we've learned over the years is that the more conservative an American is, the more willing they are to believe absolutely anything you throw at them. You say caravans, they believe caravans. You say "Obama's gonna annex Texas" they believe Obama's gonna annex Texas. They might not know what a single damn word of it means, but they will make it a core part of their identity and howl in heavily armed outrage at anyone who doesn't believe it as much as they do.

Conservative dark money groups have taken to weaponizing that paranoia, and that brings us to the current moment. A Politico story reports that a dark money group calling itself Citizens for Sanity—this is a very Washington, D.C., thing, this naming convention of picking a name that openly throat-punches the premise of the underlying thing being sold—will supposedly be spending "millions of dollars" on what amounts to a trolling campaign.

A trolling campaign aimed just as much at their own base as on anyone else, mind you: The group is targeting allegedly out-of-control "wokeness" and the terrible "woke" radicals who are threatening America with it. The first John Brabender-produced ad, reports Politico, envisions a terror-filled future in which a transgender athlete wins a sporting event.

Because yes, that's the sort of thing that will get Republican base voters worked up. Republican voters are not smart. They are extremely not smart. They are to smart what yogurt is to bridge construction. The Republican base quite literally does not care about 1 million pandemic deaths. They believe climate change is a hoax perpetrated against them by nerds. They would rather live in a post-coup fascist dystopia than pay an extra 20 cents for gas, and will tell you so to your face.

Tell them that transgender athletes are coming to win all the sporting events, thus somehow leading to America annexing Texas, you'll have these beer-burping twits out waving guns in front of government buildings in three minutes flat. Conservative campaign groups love these voters. They can be controlled with a piece of cheese on a string. Come up with even the most bizarre scenario in which a conservative talk radio listener or Fox News watcher might be expected to show a bare amount of public decency and out come the guns. Convince them that the history book mention of Fredrick Douglass on page 174 is a conspiracy to make children “woke” and they'll be dry-humping whatever politician vows to defeat that evil scheme.

Yogurt. Bridges.

So this is how unknown rich assholes will be spending their money in the months before the midterms, and we don't know which rich assholes because nobody wants their name attached to what amounts to a(nother) bottomlessly cynical professional hoax-producing outfit. Maybe it's the MyPillow guy. Maybe it's the Uline guy. Maybe it's some stadium owner, maybe it's that same group of half-dozen wealthy fascists that has been trying to overturn democracy ever since people started muttering that they should pay their damn taxes already. It's purely a trolling effort, with billboards—and, if Politico is to be believed, this is actually real—with fake slogans plastered on them like "Protect Pregnant Men from Climate Discrimination," and, "Open the jails. Open the borders. Close the schools. Vote progressive this November."

It's a multimillion dollar troll campaign, and the people being trolled aren't just conservatism's many supposed cultural enemies, but Republican voters themselves. If you want a conspiracy theory to panic over, here’s one: Republicans have spent the last five decades trying to sabotage both education and journalism, and now that a significant percentage of the U.S. population has yogurt for brains and couldn’t decipher a two-box flowchart if their lives depended on it, the party intends to capitalize on the effort by rousing the yogurt-brained as the driving force of electoral politics.

Forget about the coup attempt and the deaths in the U.S. Capitol. Forget about the Republican domestic terrorism, the new laws giving party lackeys the power to overturn election results, the million pandemic deaths, the two impeachments, the national security documents found stuffed into rooms at Mar-a-Lago. Forget about your abortion rights. If you abandon Republicanism just because of that stuff Republicans are doing, our dearly gullible Republican voters, criminals will run amuck, men will demand pregnancy rights, and children will be allowed to participate in sporting events without local party officials looking down their pants.

The premise of Citizens for Sanity: "Forget everything we've done, all you yogurt-brains. Instead, here are 50 new conspiracy theories. Just pick whichever one you want and go with it, we really don't care."

Once again: Republicanism is reliant on hoaxes. It is now how they campaign, and how they govern, and how they try to evade responsibility for even criminal acts. Not just the dark money groups, but individual campaigns are now centered around "The 2020 elections were secretly rigged against Trump," or, "The entire American education system is actually a trick perpetrated on the country by woke anti-racist groomers." Hoax-based gibberish is now the basis of all of Republicanism.

And we're left once again wondering: Will it work? How much will it work? What percentage of conservative voters, after turning their own brains to absolute mush by watching pro-fascist conspiracy programs propped up by the Murdoch family for just a bit more wealth, will vote to ignore the abortion debate, Florida's future coastlines, the future inhabitability of large parts of the Republican-held South, the return of polio, and an economy that's no longer collapsing because they are absolutely convinced a secret plot by "woke" people will destroy the country if they don't keep voting for the party that turns everything it governs to crap?

Donald Trump’s next-term promises are a laundry list of fascist ideas

The Washington Post has a roundup of Donald Trump's most recent dystopian visions of what his theoretical second term might look like—if we assume that America just moves on from that whole violent militia-assisted end of democracy thing; the requests to state officials to fake their election totals; and the squirreling away of "highly classified" security secrets to a room in Spytown, USA, otherwise known as Donald Trump's Florida golf club.

His proposals range from petty to just plain crooked, and from impossible to fascist. Since there seems to be no great urgency to put the treasonous coup-plotter and document thief in handcuffs anytime soon, however, we've got time. So, sure. It's a bit like publicly debating Al Capone's gardening skills, but whatever. Let's take a look at the Post's six identified planks in whatever the hell Donald Trump thinks he's building up to.

"Execute drug dealers"

This is a retread. Trump had a pathetic fascist crush on Philippines strongman Rodrigo Duterte from the first months of his presidency, specifically for his "unbelievable job" in the extrajudicial killings of anyone in his country suspected of drug sales. A year into his term, he was already pushing to copy the Duterte approach.

But he didn't do it. He couldn't do it. There's a whole government in the way of plans like, "What if we impose the death penalty for Eric's cocaine dealer while eliminating all penalties for selling nuclear secrets to Russia?” We know Trump was just itching to kill people because, once William Barr landed in the attorney general spot, the administration started executing death row prisoners like it was a new Trump team sport. But it's already looking like much of Trump's would-be new presidential campaign will be based on pointing out that he was a colossal failure at getting the big-ticket fascist stuff done the first time around. So vote for him again!

"Move homeless people to outlying 'tent cities’"

Again, this is just his standard real-estate tycoon fixation on property values and how all these poor people around here are lowering them. He famously complained about unhoused people outside expensive buildings. The "people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes," but "all of a sudden they have tents. Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building," he ranted back in 2019.

So his solution to poor people ruining rich people's office building experiences is, of course, concentration camps. In Donald's America, you'll be able to call a hotline to report a disheveled person on the sidewalk outside your place of work, and authorities will come to take that person away to the "outer skirts of the various cities" where they can get the tent-based care they need.

"You don't have time to build buildings, you can do that later," he opines.

Concentration camps for the Americans wealthy property owners don't want to see. I'm mostly curious as to how the democracy-hostile and fascism-curious current Supreme Court would justify that brazenly creep-ass-strongman proposal. There's little doubt that Justice Samuel Alito would reach back to 1600s Britain to assert that, actually, there are 400 years of history that says wealthy people can imprison whoever the hell they want.

"Deploy federal force against crime, unrest, and protests"

Yeah, been there before. The Lafayette Square approach to policing: If regular law enforcement is encumbered by too many rules restricting who they can use violence against and for what reasons—and heaven knows American law enforcement is famously reluctant to use violence against people who aren't doing actual crimes—then call up your hand-picked attorney general and have them send some prison riot teams to crack skulls. Or, of course, the National Guard.

Fascism, then. Republicanism has been going here for a long time. Sen. Tom Cotton and Bill Barr and innumerable state Republicans with strong opinions about protesters have been so noisy in advocating that those who protest against the regime be met with a military or paramilitary response that Trump's not breaking any new ground here. Yeah, he wants to be able to hurt and kill protesters. It's one of his big things.

It was also a central part of his coup plans; the Trump coup team hoped that Mike Pence could be convinced to throw the election into chaos, upon which time Trump would declare emergency powers under the Insurrection Act to snuff out whatever protests of the stolen election developed, and/or use the military to literally seize the voting machines. A fully fascist plan. Trump is still pissed that it didn't work.

"Strip job protections for federal workers"

Yeah, that's a pretty banal subhead for Trump's actual proposal here. Trump and his fascist allies (see: Ginni Thomas) have long been enamored with the notion that whenever one of Captain Bigbrain's ideas lands with a thud, or whenever the U.S. Constitution and other laws prevent Captain Bigbrain from doing something—like executing drug dealers on sight or putting disheveled-looking people in government camps—Trump's failures were actually because of a "deep state" conspiracy to make him fail. Ginni Thomas, coup supporter, is all about this theory. And Trump, in his first term, focused obsessively on firing any government official or watchdog who reported his possible crimes, undercut one of his favored lies, or was unwilling to assist in corrupt acts.

It's not just Trump; it’s all of his orbiting Republican allies who propose a new solution that would solve many of their past problems with, you know, being caught doing illegal stuff. They want the ability to fire any government worker they want to, through the entirety of the federal government. No more rules preventing presidents from wholesale firings to clear out entire agencies so that their own sycophants can be installed into every last role.

So, fascism again then. This is basically the Russian model as well; in Vladimir Putin's Russia, all jobs are allocated not according to competence or expertise but by loyalty. Putin rewards his most reliable sycophants with the most powerful jobs, which each loyalist then uses to siphon as much money as possible into their own accounts; those sycophants, in turn, hire only those willing to help them in their corruption, in exchange for their own corrupt schemes being overlooked, ad nauseam all the way through government.

In a government based on willingness to overlook corruption, corruption becomes the primary task of government. When an emboldened and sycophantic-to-the-point-of-delusion Russia declared a new war of conquest, it turned out much of Russia's military had simply ceased to meaningfully exist. The food the troops were to bring with them consisted of long-expired rations. Warehouses of materials turned out to be imaginary. From vehicle maintenance to secure communications plans, the money that was to be used to keep the military running had gotten siphoned away to the point of logistical collapse.

This is an absolute dream scenario for the likes of Donald J. Golfboy: A government in which he gets to do anything he wants, punish whoever he wants, and take whatever he wants, and a government that allows him to control who else gets similar spoils. And if it later turns out that all the crookedness has led the country to ruin, then who the hell cares, baby, because he got to be the one doing it.

It's also now standard-issue Republicanism. From the first impeachment onward, the party declared en masse that Republican leaders could absolutely do crooked things and get away with it. Republican Party rhetoric, both from the party itself and individual lawmakers, is currently centered on vows of revenge against whichever government agents, witnesses, or whistleblowers dared to catch Trump doing yet another crime. This has been the theme of Republican governance for a decade: Find the names of those who testify to Republican corruption. Expose them. Eliminate them.

"Eliminate the Education Department"

Right, the revenge-for-segregation thing that's animated the right for a half-century. Trump doesn't give a damn, he's just jumping on the latest bandwagon. Some hack wrote this into his speech, and he said it, and it got applause from the angry racist base, so he's probably going to say it some more. Didn't do it the first time around. Was willing to attempt a coup that resulted in deaths, but wasn't able to do that. Because it would require work. Lots of work. Donnie Two-Scoops does not do work.

"Restrict voting to one day using paper ballots"

Ha ha ha ha ha—yeah, uh, again, it's more than just that. Donald Trump, supergenius big-brain uberdude from planet Golfcheat, convinced himself the election machines were all rigged against him in order to block out any hint that maybe America just wanted to scrape him out of the Oval Office because they didn't like him. He convince himself absentee ballots were all rigged against him for the same reason. And that there was a conspiracy by elections officials. And China. And possibly Italy, and a dead South American guy, and Hillary Clinton, and the guy who designed the ramp that Donald Trump once had to gingerly inch down, tarnishing his big-muscle superguy image.

Trump wants to get rid of voting by mail, obliging everyone to vote at the polling places. Republicans, historically, have made a game of under-allocating booths and staff to polling places in Democratic-majority districts, making it far more difficult (or even impossible) to vote if you're in one of those blue places. Republicans used to love voting by mail because their base skews much older and is less mobile; they now absolutely hate mail-in ballots because, during the pandemic, there was a surge of pandemic-conscious younger voters who took advantage of the same system—which erased, and then some, what Republicans thought was a built-in party advantage. So now it’s gotta go; it can’t be controlled, Republicans have learned, the same way physical polling places can be controlled.

Oh, and Donald Trump thinks it's a conspiracy against him if the person who's leading in the first released results loses that lead in later counts. And he thinks it's a conspiracy against him if the counting isn't done before he gets sleepy and wants to go to bed.

Oh, and Trump's Republican "Big Lie" believers want every ballot to be hand-counted. Hundreds of millions. Gotta do it by midnight, though, or it's crooked. Whatever didn’t get counted by midnight is automatically crooked. No, we won’t be allocating any more counters to the job; that’s much too expensive.

Guess what: If Republicans accomplish all of this, and their latest Dear Leader figure still doesn't win, they're still going to say the vote was crooked. That's why Republican lawmakers in the various most-crooked states have already passed new laws giving Republican officials the power to challenge whatever vote totals they don't personally like, and the power to take over the ballot-counting in places that might produce such unpleasant results.

All of this has gone far beyond one man's uncontrollable narcissism. Trump didn't get the job the first time around because of his supposed promises or claims that he was smarter than every scientist, military general, and world leader on the planet. He got it because he was a mean, blustery asshole willing to spout more hate more openly than anyone else on the debate stage—and Republican voters absolutely love that stuff. They don't want good government; they want government that will punish their enemies while elevating their own paranoias.

Trump could drop dead tomorrow, and the "let's corral the poor into death camps" plank of Republicanism would probably wither away. But the Republican Party moves to take control of election counts, identify and fire government workers who are not loyal to the latest party proclamations,  and meet protests against them by sending in military forces to crush those protests? Those are here to stay.

That's standard-issue Republicanism now. All of the candidates will be promoting that. DeSantis, Hawley, Cruz, Graham, Cotton, McCarthy, Abbott—all of them. It's carved into the movement now, and there's no evidence it can be scraped back out. They happen across the fascist solutions to each of their problems, and adopt the fascist solutions as their answers.

As for how it got this way—how we got a base that no longer cared whether government functions, had no interest in policies or in facts but would instead eagerly identify with all of a narcissistic conman's most guttural burps of paranoia and anger—well, that's a different question. Ask the Murdoch family; they probably could run you through the whole history.


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'We will not stand by and we will not stand down': Armed Trump backers protest at Phoenix FBI office

Trump breaks the law, so Republicans say it’s the law that needs to go—and the agents who caught him

The Republican reactions to Trump, ahem, being caught with highly classified nuclear weapons-related documents after asserting to federal agents he didn't have them continues, and as the facts worsen for Trump his pro-attempted-coup Republican allies are sliding towards the obvious endpoint. If a Republican leader commits a crime against the government, well then maybe that thing shouldn't even be a crime at all!

Rand Paul has been homing in on that one. He started out claiming that the FBI might have been planting evidence against Trump.

Rand Paul suggests the FBI may have planted evidence in boxes they seized from Mar-a-Lago

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 10, 2022

Then we found out that it wasn't just any documents the government was hunting for, but classified nuclear weapons documents, and that among the potential criminal charges facing Trump was violations of the Espionage Act, so Paul had to revise and extend his hackery. If Donald Trump violated the Espionage Act, and the government has him dead to rights on that, it can only mean the Espionage Act is wrong. "It is long past time to repeal this egregious affront to the 1st Amendment," tweeted Paul.

It's not enough to merely suggest that the FBI is full of crooks who would plant evidence against Dear Leader, as addled Trump supporters throughout the country target FBI offices and individual FBI agents. No, if Donald Trump is caught with classified national security documents being stored in a room at his spy-riddled for-profit golf club, it is A Violation Of The First Amendment Itself to not let him keep them. Or to, you know, even look into it.

Good work, Rand. Can always count on you to jump off any rhetorical bridge you might come across. A First Amendment right to keep and sell classified nuclear secrets, sure, you stick with that one.

Rand Paul has always been a bit of a turd, piping up with sudden libertarian proclamations in between advocating for big government powers, but ... actually, I forget where I'm going with that. He's just a turd.

On Team Spy, however, Trump ally Peter Navarro isn't content with "let's just repeal whatever laws Donald Trump was caught violating." He wants you to know that Donald Trump was patriotically planning on patriotically leaking our nuclear secrets so that the American people can "get more jobs."

The video suggests that Navarro was on exactly as much cocaine as you think he was when suggesting this.

Peter Navarro says the documents Trump had should never have been classified in the first place, and Trump needed them to let the American people know what was in them so we can stay out of wars and get more jobs.

— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) August 12, 2022

Got it? Donald Trump is a big-brain whistleblower who was going to out national nuclear secrets so that the United States would "stay out of wars." Then you'll all get jobs, America. Don't you want jobs?

Surely, we can all agree that Donald Golf Resort Trump, in between hosting Saudi golf tournaments and attempting to overthrow the United States government, only has the American people's best interests at heart. He wasn't going to trade those documents away for the right to build a new hotel in Saudi Arabia or in the center of Moscow. He was going to patriotically release that information for the good of everyone who congregates in midwestern diners.

It is not enough, say other Republicans, to merely erase whatever laws Donald Trump may have willingly broken. The Republican focus during two impeachment trials and during every other scandal during Trump's years was always on finding out who was trying to enforce laws Donald wanted to break, so that those people or government agencies could be punished good and hard.

That's why Trump and his lawyers released a their copy of the government warrant papers served at Mar-a-Lago with the names of the goverment agents involved left unredacted, which in turn immediately led to Trump's base hunting down information about the agents and, predictably, death threats. It's why Republicans followed up the release with a party-wide campaign accusing the FBI of being corrupt, which almost immediately led to an attack on FBI offices because of course it did.

By Wednesday the Republican message was already out, though. Sen. Rand Paul was only one of the Republicans whose immediate reaction to the raid was to parrot the Trumpworld insistence that whatever Bad Stuff the FBI might have found was, uh, actually planted there. Why, Dear Leader being caught doing a crime means it's time to gut the FBI, which every Republican knows has been corrupt this whole time!

The FBI has a long history of corruption that’s only grown over time - but these recent actions are the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s time for Congress to bring the swamp to heel.

— Rep. Dan Bishop (@RepDanBishop) August 10, 2022

Don't just get rid of the laws Trump broke. Find out who found out he was breaking the laws, call them corrupt, release their public information, and shutter their whole agencies if we have to. All hail Dear Leader, and so forth.

Obviously, catching Donald Trump with nuclear weapons secrets in the basement of his spy club means that the sitting attorney general also has to go. That's just common sense.

GOP strategist: Trump has to be indicted or Merrick Garland has to resign

— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) August 14, 2022

Here's a tip: "GOP strategist" is not a news thing. CNN chose to host a "GOP strategist" despite the job of "GOP strategist" being, quite literally, strategizing how to best bullshit the American people with party-flattering spins on news events. It is not news; CNN, as a network, is reliant on booking partisan liars to mislead the public about current events in between news reports of what those current events actually are. Hosting professional liars is the core network strategy; it's cheap, it's assured to generate faux-"controversy," and you can be abso-tootly sure that party-paid propagandists will always, always be willing to show up. They own the suits, they know where the studio is, and they know how to look presentable on camera. Can’t say that about government records law experts.

But sure, this is all very bad news for Merrick Garland. The first former president to be caught stealing nuclear secrets is really putting Merrick Garland in a bind here, and if Merrick Garland doesn't want to be seen as overplaying his hand he either has to put Donald in prison or this or resign in shame.

Sure, fine. Let's go with that. The dude who defended Trump through a list of half-dozen treasons and counting is going with it, so you know it's gonna be a (very stupid) thing. But we agree: If the Department of Justice can't see its way to prosecuting a very powerful figure caught dead to rights doing the sort of crime other people get decades in prison for, then it would certainly demonstrate Justice Department leadership isn't up to snuff. That's what you meant, right?

All right, so the Republican response is now morphing into one in which Trump violating the Espionage Act means we have to erase the Espionage Act, Donald Trump hiding nuclear weapons secrets in his for-profit golf club serves only as proof that Donald Trump was valiantly trying to save the American people by spilling those secrets, the FBI discovering that Donald Trump was lying through his crooked teeth when he claimed he didn't have the documents now requires a wholesale purge of the FBI for Their Unholy Audacity, and the attorney general who oversaw getting those papers back is now hopelessly politically compromised because he may have actually believed the bullshit we tell our schoolchildren about "nobody being above the law," which is not something the Republican Party has believed at any point in its modern history.

Fox host defends Trump’s handling of top secret documents: “President Nixon said, that if the president does it, that it is not illegal. Is that not truly the standard when it comes to classified documents?”

— Media Matters (@mmfa) August 14, 2022

If you're going to eliminate whatever laws Donald breaks from now until his eventual McDonald's-caused death, plus whatever agents discovered the crimes, plus whatever agencies the agents belong to, plus the attorney general for having the audacity to believe he had any right to, for example, take classified nuclear documents out of Donald's golf club and for-profit wedding venue even if Donald didn't want him to, there's not much of America that's going to be left. You're undermining everything that counts as "rule of law," when people say "rule of law."

At some point you don't have a government at all, if you're getting rid of all the parts that might inconvenience Dear Leader during a crime spree.

Which, as it turns out, is what the pro-insurrection parts of Republicanism's violent base are again saying out loud. Republicanism is becoming indistinguishable from the threats of terrorism it fosters. And it's all because Republicans think that whatever Trump wants, whether it's stealing nuclear weapons secrets or staying in office despite losing an election, Trump should get.


Trump took classified docs and tried to hide them from investigators. His excuses don't hold water

'We will not stand by and we will not stand down': Armed Trump backers protest at Phoenix FBI office

Cincinnati FBI breach suspect is killed in shootout and identified as possible Jan. 6 participant

The complete guide to every excuse Republicans have made for Trump's theft of classified documents

News Roundup: Republicans threaten retaliations, revenge, civil war over Trump search warrant

The first-ever FBI search warrant served against a former U.S. president is still the big news in the country, but we still don't know much more about it than we did yesterday. Donald Trump took "classified national security documents" from the White House when he left; when those documents were discovered at Mar-a-Lago in early June, Trump seems to have refused to relinquish them, relying on his apparent political power to skirt consequences. Didn't work out for him.

Today's news, then, is an absolute boatload of seditionists, aspiring fascists, and Republican lawmakers insisting that this attempt to enforce laws that Donald Trump definitely broke is the precursor to civil war, the sign of a collapsing republic, or evidence of shocking, absolutely shocking (checks notes) politics inside the Department of Justice. Few are willing to declare that Trump didn't do a crime; Republicans are—as they were before, during, and after two Trump impeachments—instead shouting that consequences for Republican crime-doing are completely unacceptable. It's ... not a movement with a lot of principles. 

Here's some of what you may have missed:

In Ukraine:

John Eastman worried he wasn’t going to get paid for his work instigating a seditious coup

The New York Times has another mini-scoop from Trumpland, but the headline news is probably less interesting (and much less funny) than the details. The headline is that coup architect John Eastman, the lawyer who attached himself to an idea that Vice President Mike Pence could simply throw out electors on his personal say-so, was still at it even on Biden's inauguration day two weeks later.

That’s when Eastman sent an email to Trump's personal conspiracy promoter Rudy Giuliani proposing that the Trump team responsible for that violent coup turn their focus to challenging the Georgia runoff elections that had resulted in two new Democratic senators on Jan. 5.

Was it because Eastman had some evidence of supposed "fraud," you might ask? Not even close. Eastman wrote that "a lot of us have now staked our reputations on the claims of election fraud," and after the Trump team got their asses handed to them in every courtroom in the land when they presented their hoaxes about supposed fraud in the presidential election, challenging the Georgia results would give them a new opportunity to hunt for "fraud" in the Senate races.

"If we get proof of fraud on Jan. 5," wrote coup plotter Eastman, "it will likely also demonstrate the fraud on Nov. 3, thereby vindicating [Golfboy's] claims and serving as a strong bulwark against Senate impeachment trial."

Yet another fishing expedition, then. There was no non-ridiculous evidence that there was anything wrong with the Jan. 5 elections in Georgia, but Eastman and team had just inspired a violent coup, Eastman himself thought he might need to be pardoned for doing it, and since they had come up completely dry on every "fraud" claim in the November elections, this was a last-ditch attempt to hunt for fraud in a different election, which by the mathematical properties of transience would prove they were right all along or, you know, whatever.

But it's that "bulwark against Senate impeachment trial" bit that leads us to the more important motive for Eastman's email to Rudy Giuliani. The guy was still trying to get paid.

You know, for the coup.

The Times reports that the Eastman email also "asked for Mr. Giuliani's help in collecting on a $270,000 invoice he had sent the Trump campaign the previous day," and that among the invoiced charges was a $10,000-per-day fee for Eastman's work for Trump during eight days in January. Yes, John Eastman billed for each of the days he attempted to goad the vice president and his staff into supporting a seditious act to nullify the U.S. election. It was supposed to cost the Trump campaign $10,000 per day, and even after people died at the U.S. Capitol because an armed and violent crowd actually believed the erase-the-election bullshit Eastman was selling, Eastman was still trying to collect his fee for proposing it.

But Eastman wasn't done yet. He was also trying to get the Trump campaign to pay him similarly steep fees for a barely-related Georgia fishing expedition, and the way Eastman was attempting to sell the new project is to claim that it would be a "bulwark" against Trump's upcoming (second) impeachment trial. Not only was he billing for instigating violence at the Capitol, but he was also still pushing his services as a guy who could help Trump evade responsibility for the violence—and with the exact same invisible "fraud" that caused all of it the first time around!

That is extremely f--king galling, or would be if anyone still thought anyone within a mile of Donald Trump still had a human soul. This guy wanted to get paid for a seditious conspiracy. Here's a guy whose legal advice was so spectacularly terrible that it lead to multiple people's deaths, and he's getting anxious that maybe he's not going to be getting his invoices paid.

He wasn't attempting to overthrow the United States government and install Donald Trump as at least a temporary god-king out of patriotism, you say? He expected to be paid for instigating a violent coup? Oh, and also a pardon, pretty please?


The Times indicates that their own sources say Eastman never did get paid, and that John Eastman was looking to Rudy Giuliani, of all people, to pry money out of Trump shows a naivete that seems out of place for the architect of a failed fascist coup. Giuliani, who was charging Trump $20,000 for his own hair-dye melting performances, wasn't any likelier to get paid than Eastman was.

As for the implications of Eastman sending a bill for his attempts to coerce the vice president and his staff into staging a coup, there are probably lots, and I couldn't tell you what they are because, gotta be honest with you here, at the moment I don't even care. Eastman has long claimed he was working as Trump's lawyer, and that's why he doesn't have to testify about anything, But apparently he thought he was working as the Trump campaign's lawyer, not Trump's, and if Eastman ever succeeded in squeezing a dime or two out of the campaign then that would be another direct link between Trump's political team and the plotted coup attempt. The Department of Justice already has Eastman's phone communications, however, so we know whatever thin veneer of "I was just the lawyer" Eastman might be insisting on, it's not working.

For the moment, though, let's just revel in the sheer gall of this blazingly arrogant, irredeemably evil national seditionist being antsy about whether the violent coup's failure means he might not get paid. Just an A+ effort at villainy, Claremont Institute guy. Couldn't do it any better without a costume.


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