GOP panic over two major Pennsylvania races headlines huge primary night nationwide

Tuesday brings us the biggest primary night of the 2022 cycle so far―in fact, one of the biggest we can expect all year―as voters in five different states across the country head to the polls. We have tons of must-watch and extremely expensive elections in store as each side selects its nominees in crucial contests for Senate and governor, as well as in numerous House races.

Below you'll find our guide to all of the top primaries, arranged chronologically by each state’s poll closing times. When it’s available, we'll tell you about any reliable polling that exists for each race, but if we don't mention any numbers, it means no recent surveys have been made public.

And of course, because this is a redistricting year, every state on the docket has a brand-new congressional map. To help you follow along, you can find interactive maps from Dave's Redistricting App for Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. Note that the presidential results we include after each district reflect how the 2020 race would have gone under the new lines in place for this fall. And if you'd like to know how much of the population in each new district comes from each old district, please check out our redistribution tables.

The Daily Kos Elections Team talks about how the MAGA civil war might be hurting the GOP in races across the country on The Downballot podcast

Our live coverage will begin at 7:30 PM ET at Daily Kos Elections when polls close in North Carolina. You can also follow us on Twitter for blow-by-blow updates, and you’ll want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates for primaries in all 50 states.

KENTUCKY

Polls close in the portion of the state located in the Eastern Time Zone, which includes the entire 3rd Congressional District, at 6 PM ET. They close in the rest of the state an hour later.

KY-03 (D) (60-38 Biden): Rep. John Yarmuth, who's spent a decade as Kentucky’s only Democratic member of Congress, is retiring from a Louisville seat that only underwent minor changes in redistricting, and two candidates are running for the nod to replace him: state Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, who has Yarmuth’s endorsement, and state Rep. Attica Scott, who would be the state’s first Black member of Congress.

McGarvey, who has enjoyed a massive fundraising lead over Scott, has also received $1 million in support from Protect Our Future PAC, a group funded by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried. Scott, who kicked off a campaign for this seat before Yarmuth announced his departure, has not benefited from any serious outside spending.

NORTH CAROLINA

Polls close statewide at 7:30 PM ET. Candidates must take at least 30% of the vote to avert a July 26 runoff, though the second-place finisher must officially request a runoff for one to occur. 

NC-Sen (R) (50-49 Trump): A total of 14 Republicans are competing to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr, but most of the attention has centered around Rep. Ted Budd and former Gov. Pat McCrory. Budd has the backing of Donald Trump and the well-funded Club for Growth, which along with its allies has spent $14.3 million on the congressman's behalf. 

While Budd's campaign appeared to be in rough shape as recently as late January, every recent survey has shown him far ahead and well above the threshold for avoiding a runoff. Former Rep. Mark Walker and businesswoman Marjorie Eastman are also running, but they’re unlikely to matter unless the polls are wrong and Budd struggles to win outright. The winner will face former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who doesn’t have any serious opposition in the Democratic primary. 

NC-01 (D & R) (53-45 Biden): Rep. G.K. Butterfield is retiring from this northeastern North Carolina seat that became slightly redder under the new congressional map imposed by the state courts after finding the GOP's districts were illegal partisan gerrymanders. Four fellow Democrats are running to replace the departing congressman. The two main contenders are state Sen. Don Davis, a prominent moderate whom Butterfield is supporting, and former state Sen. Erica Smith, who badly lost the 2020 primary for the U.S. Senate.  

Smith has gone after her opponent for supporting anti-abortion legislation, but she’s been heavily outspent by Davis and his allies. The senator has benefited from $2.9 million in spending from United Democracy Project, a super PAC funded by the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, while the Working Families Party has deployed a considerably smaller $600,000 to promote Smith. A recent Davis internal, to which Smith did not respond, showed him up 44-31

Things got unexpectedly nasty in the final week of the GOP's eight-way primary when the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC close to party leadership, launched an ad campaign aiming to torpedo accountant Sandy Smith, who is running again after losing to Butterfield 54-46 in 2020. Smith’s most prominent intra-party foe appears to be Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson, who is the only elected official in the contest and has self-funded most of his bid. Other contenders to watch are attorney Billy Strickland, who failed to beat an incumbent state senator in a 2020 primary, and another self-funder, businessman Brad Murphy.

NC-04 (D) (67-32 Biden): Veteran Rep. David Price is retiring from a safely blue seat that remains anchored by the college towns of Durham and Chapel Hill, and eight fellow Democrats are competing to take his place. The contest includes two elected officials: Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, who in 2020 became the first Muslim woman to win elective office in North Carolina, and state Sen. Valerie Foushee, who would be the first Black woman to represent this area in Congress. Also in the running is Clay Aiken, the former "American Idol" star who unsuccessfully ran against Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers several maps ago in 2014 and would be the state’s first gay representative.

Outside spending has very much favored Foushee, with AIPAC and Protect Our Future, the crypto-aligned PAC, representing most of the $3.5 million that has been deployed on her behalf; by contrast, Allam has received about $330,000 in support from the Working Families Party and other groups, while there have been no independent expenditures for Aiken. A late April internal from Foushee’s allies at EMILY’s List showed her defeating Allam 35-16.  

NC-11 (R) (54-44 Trump): Far-right freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn pissed off lots of folks in western North Carolina when he tried to leave them behind to run for an even more conservative district in the Charlotte area that he had almost no ties to—a self-serving plan to boost his own profile that got derailed when the state's new court-drawn map replaced that Charlotte seat with a solidly blue district. 

Cawthorn now faces seven challengers in a constituency that’s virtually the same as the one he wanted to abandon, several of whom launched campaigns during the brief period that the congressman was trying to hop districts. Sen. Thom Tillis has thrown his support behind state Sen. Chuck Edwards, who has pitched himself as an ardent conservative alternative to the shameless, attention-seeking incumbent. A super PAC close to Tillis has spent $1.6 million on ads attacking Cawthorn and his litany of embarrassing behaviors while also promoting Edwards. 

The incumbent, though, retains Trump’s endorsement, and he could benefit if the other six candidates, including local GOP official Michele Woodhouse, split the anti-Cawthorn vote. Indeed, a late April survey from GOPAC, which isn’t backing anyone, showed that Cawthorn still led Edwards 38-21. The eventual winner will likely go up against Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who is the Democratic frontrunner. 

NC-13 (D & R) (50-48 Biden): Redistricting created a new swing seat in Raleigh's southern suburbs, and both parties have competitive primaries here. The Democratic side includes five candidates, with state Sen. Wiley Nickel and former state Sen. Sam Searcy the frontrunners. Nickel has enjoyed a spending advantage over Searcy in a contest where major outside groups haven’t gotten involved. 

Things are far busier on the Republican side, where eight contenders are squaring off. Both Donald Trump and the Club for Growth are supporting Bo Hines, a 26-year-old former North Carolina State University football player who has minimal ties to the area and. The Club, the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus, and assorted other groups have together spent over $2.3 million promoting Hines and attacking one of his many opponents, wealthy attorney Kelly Daughtry, while a PAC called Old North has dropped over $1 million to boost Daughtry and bash Hines. 

The other six candidates haven’t attracted as much attention. The field includes former Rep. Renee Ellmers, who represented part of the greater Raleigh area in the House from 2011 to 2017 in a brief career that was defined by some very wild swings of fortune; party activist DeVan Barbour; Army veteran Kent Keirsey; and pastor Chad Slotta. 

PENNSYLVANIA

Polls close statewide at 8 PM ET

PA-Sen (R & D) (50-49 Biden): Both parties have hosted expensive primaries to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in this key swing state, though the GOP contest has been a far more volatile affair. Until the final week, the main contenders were TV personality Mehmet Oz, who has Trump’s backing, and wealthy former hedge fund manager David McCormick. The two candidates and their allies have dumped millions on attack ads for months, which appears to have provided an unexpected opening for author Kathy Barnette, an election denier who badly lost to Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean last cycle in the 4th District. 

A survey taken for Fox News late in the race showed Oz with a 22-20 edge over McCormick, with Barnette just behind at 19%. The Club for Growth soon followed up with a $2 million infusion for Barnette, who has scarcely aired any ads on her own. Many GOP insiders are worried that she’d jeopardize the party’s general election prospects, and even Trump tried to knock her down Thursday. Also in the running are Jeff Bartos, who was Team Red's nominee for lieutenant governor; former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands; and attorney George Bochetto, but they haven’t demonstrated any Barnette-like late surge. 

On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has from day one enjoyed huge polling leads over his two main intra-party rivals, Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta. The race never descended into anything like the bloody affair on the Republican side, though it did turn negative last month. A pro-Lamb super PAC tried to weaken Fetterman using an erroneous and since-corrected news report to falsely claim Fetterman is a "self-described socialist” (the spot was pulled off the air and an edited version had to be substituted), but there’s no indication this attack had its desired effect. Fetterman announced Sunday that he’d suffered a stroke two days before but was “well on my way to a full recovery” and would continue his campaign.  

PA-Gov (R) (50-49 Biden): Republicans have to sort out a crowded, bitter primary before they can focus on trying to replace termed-out Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, a contest Team Blue has taken a deep interest in. State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a QAnon ally and Big Lie proponent whom many Republicans fret would be a toxic nominee, posted a 29-17 advantage over former Rep. Lou Barletta in a mid-May Fox News poll despite spending little money. Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who has no intra-party opposition, even ran commercials ostensibly attacking Mastriano that are actually designed to help him appeal to Trump fans; Trump himself also delivered a late endorsement to Mastriano on Saturday.  

GOP leaders who aren’t Trump have hoped that they could consolidate behind one non-Mastriano candidate, prompting state Senate leader Jake Corman and former Rep. Melissa Hart to drop out just days before the primary and endorse Barletta, an anti-immigration zealot who is anything but a moderate. However, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, self-funding businessman Dave White, and several contenders even further behind in the polls have stayed put. McSwain himself has spent heavily, but he got the worst news possible last month when Trump attacked him for not doing enough to advance the Big Lie and urged Republicans not to vote for him. 

PA-12 (D) (59-39 Biden): Five Democrats are campaigning to succeed retiring Rep. Mike Doyle in a Pittsburgh-based seat that looks very much like the 18th District he currently serves.  

Doyle and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald are both backing Steve Irwin, a former chief of the Pennsylvania Securities Commission. The other major contender is state Rep. Summer Lee, a progressive who would be the first Black woman to represent the Keystone State in Congress. In Lee’s corner are Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and the influential SEIU Pennsylvania State Council. There's also law professor Jerry Dickinson, who challenged Doyle in the 2020 primary and lost 67-33. Dickinson, like Lee, is a Black progressive, and it's possible the two will be competing for the same sorts of voters. 

A late March poll for Lee’s supporters at EMILY’s List showed her beating Irwin 38-13, but Irwin’s allies have ramped up their spending since then. A total of $3.1 million in outside spending has gone towards promoting Irwin or attacking Lee, with the bulk of it coming from AIPAC. The Working Families Party and Justice Democrats, meanwhile, are responsible for most of the $1.7 million that’s aided Lee. 

PA-17 (D & R) (52-46 Biden): Two Democrats and three Republicans are campaigning to succeed Senate candidate Conor Lamb in a suburban Pittsburgh seat that’s very similar to the old 17th District. On the Democratic side, Navy veteran Chris Deluzio has outspent party operative Sean Meloy in a race where outside groups haven’t gotten involved. Deluzio has the Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council on his side, while Meloy, who would be the state’s first LGBTQ member, has the support of neighboring Rep. Mike Doyle. 

The GOP race is a battle between former Ross Township Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer and Jason Killmeyer, a national security analyst who often appears in conservative media. Shaffer has spent the most money, though Killmeyer has made sure to highlight the fact that Shaffer unseated an incumbent state senator in the 2018 primary only to narrowly lose the general election and cost the GOP a crucial seat. The third Republican, business owner Kathleen Coder, has little money. 

IDAHO

Polls close in the portion of the state located in the Mountain Time Zone at 10 PM ET/8 PM local time. Polls close in the rest of the state an hour later.

ID-Gov (R) (64-33 Trump): Gov. Brad Little faces seven fellow Republicans in this overwhelmingly red state, but the most prominent of the bunch is Trump-endorsed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is also an ally of far-right conspiracist groups. Little, however, has enjoyed a massive financial lead, and he posted a huge 60-29 lead over McGeachin in an independent poll conducted in mid-April. 

ID-02 (R) (60-37 Trump): Longtime Republican Rep. Mike Simpson faces a primary rematch against attorney Bryan Smith, whom he beat 62-38 in 2014, in an eastern Idaho constituency that barely changed following redistricting; three little-known contenders are also on the ballot. 

Just as he did eight years ago, Smith is arguing that the congressman is insufficiently conservative, though this time he’s also attacking Simpson for the doubts he expressed about Trump in 2016. The incumbent, for his part, is once again portraying the challenger as a greedy lawyer. Pro-Simpson groups have spent $1.7 million here, while Smith’s allies have dropped $680,000. 

ID-AG (R) (64-33 Trump): Five-term Attorney General Lawrence Wasden faces an intra-party challenge from former Rep. Raúl Labrador, who spent his four terms in the House as one of the most prominent tea party shit-talkers before losing his 2018 bid for governor in the GOP primary. Conservative activist Art Macomber is also in the mix. The Club for Growth has run commercials attacking Wasden for refusing to join other GOP attorneys general in suing to overturn Biden’s win, and Labrador has also taken him to task for not working with hardline conservatives in the legislature. A trio of polls, including a Club internal, have found Labrador in the lead

OREGON

Polls close in most of Oregon at 11 PM ET/8 PM local time; they close an hour earlier in the small portion of the state in the Mountain Time Zone, but few if any votes will be reported before 11 ET.

OR-Gov (D & R) (56-40 Biden): Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is termed-out of an office her party has held since the 1986 elections, and both sides have competitive races to succeed her. The two candidates who emerge Tuesday will be in for an expensive general election that will also feature former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, a conservative Democrat-turned-independent who's been a strong fundraiser.

There are 15 different Democrats in the running, but the only two serious contenders are state Treasurer Tobias Read and former state House Speaker Tina Kotek, who would be the first lesbian elected governor anywhere in the country. Kotek’s ads have emphasized her role in passing progressive policies, while the more moderate Read has argued that he represents a “new approach” for the state. A mid-April Reed internal had Kotek ahead 25-20.

The 19-person GOP field is similarly crowded but more in flux. The only recent poll we’ve seen was an independent survey from early May that showed former state House Minority Leader Christine Drazan leading former state Rep. Bob Tiernan, who has been self-funding, 19-14, with 2016 nominee Bud Pierce at 10%. The field also includes 1998 nominee Bill Sizemore; consultant Bridget Barton; businesswoman Jessica Gomez; Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten; and Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam. 

OR-04 (D) (55-42 Biden): Veteran Rep. Peter DeFazio is retiring from a district along the state’s south coast that Democrats in the legislature made several points bluer, and eight fellow Democrats are running to replace him. 

The top fundraiser is state Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle, who has endorsements from DeFazio and Sen. Jeff Merkley. Around $580,000 in outside spending has gone to supporting Hoyle, with most of that coming from the crypto-aligned Web3 Forward. Also in the race are former Airbnb executive Andrew Kalloch; Corvallis school board chair Sami Al-Abdrabbuh; and Doyle Canning, who badly lost the 2020 primary to DeFazio. The winner will go up against 2020 GOP nominee Alek Skarlatos, a National Guard veteran whose 52-46 loss last cycle represented the closest re-election contest of DeFazio's career.

OR-05 (D & R) (53-44 Biden): Rep. Kurt Schrader, who has long been one of the most visible moderates in the Democratic caucus, faces a challenge from the left in a central Oregon seat that he currently represents just under half of. Schrader’s sole intra-party foe is Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who would be Oregon's first LGBTQ member of Congress and has attacked the incumbent for his ties to special interests. 

McLeod-Skinner has raised a serious amount of money, but Schrader has still massively outspent her. The congressman has also received $2.1 million in outside support, with most of it coming from super PACs dedicated to electing centrist Democrats, while the Working Families Party has deployed about $340,000 for the challenger. Biden has also endorsed Schrader.

Five Republicans are facing off as well. The two serious contenders are former Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who lost two competitive races for the state House in 2016 and 2018, and businessman Jimmy Crumpacker, who took fourth place in the 2020 primary for the old 2nd District.

OR-06 (D & R) (55-42 Biden): Democrats have experienced a massively expensive nine-way race for this brand-new seat in the mid-Willamette Valley that the state earned in reapportionment, though the bulk of the outside spending has benefited just one of them. That candidate is economic development adviser Carrick Flynn, who's been backed by a staggering $11.4 million from cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried's super PAC, Protect Our Future. House Majority PAC, a decade-old group that exists to help Democrats in general elections, has also spent $940,000 to support Flynn, an unprecedented departure condemned by Sen. Jeff Merkley. A third super PAC called Justice Unites Us is running ads for Flynn as well.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a heavy donor to HMP that was furious about the PAC's intervention, has spent around $1.5 million to support state Rep. Andrea Salinas, who would be Oregon’s first Latina member of Congress. The field also includes state Rep. Teresa Alonso León; self-funding perennial candidate Cody Reynolds; Oregon Medical Board member Kathleen Harder; former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith; and cryptocurrency developer Matt West, though none of them have received any outside support. An early May Salinas internal poll showed her edging out Flynn 18-14, with everyone else in single digits.

The seven-person Republican primary is similarly crowded but far cheaper. The field includes three candidates who have histories in older versions of the 5th District, from which the new 6th draws the bulk of its DNA: former Rep. Jim Bunn, who was elected to his only term in the 1994 Gingrich revolution; Mike Erickson, who was the GOP's unsuccessful 2006 and 2008 nominee for the next incarnation of the 5th; and former Keizer city councilor Amy Ryan Courser, who lost to Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader in 2020. Also in the running are Army veteran Nate Sandvig, state Rep. Ron Noble, Dundee Mayor David Russ, and Air Force veteran Angela Plowhead.

In leaked audio, Sen. Lindsey Graham calls Biden ‘maybe the best person to have’ as president

Let it be known that during a brief, ephemeral moment when Donald Trump sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham momentarily gained a conscience and understood just how horrific the Jan. 6 insurrection provoked by Trump's lies really was, even he expressed relief that Joe Biden would soon be taking office and sending Trump back to the toxic swamp from which he came.

"We'll actually come out of this thing stronger," Graham told reporter Jonathan Martin in a recording only being released by Martin now to goose publicity for his new book. "Moments like this reset. It'll take a while."

Martin probed Graham on his optimism: "And Biden will be better, right?"

"Yeah, totally," responded Graham. "He'll be maybe the best person to have, right? I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?"

Yeah, we're all just going to have to let that sit there for a while. It turns out that Lindsey Graham is just as wrong about the actions the Lindsey Graham of the future will take as he is about everything else. What followed next was indeed Graham's predicted "reset," but it was he and his closest allies who did the resetting. In the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup, numerous Republican House and Senate leaders expressed horror at the violence Trump had unleashed and privately vowed to cut him loose, or at least think real hard about cutting him loose. House minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy was among those to float either removing Trump as unfit for office or asking for his resignation.

But then Republicans "reset," and not only returned to rally around Trump but to publicly dismiss the severity of the violent coup, to near-unanimously once again support Trump during his impeachment trial, and indeed to flit to Trump's Florida crime laboratory to publicly polish his boots. (A fun thing to think about: McCarthy and all the other Republican visitors presumably not knowing, during their Mar-a-Lago trips, that inside a private room sat boxes of documents Trump had stolen from the government, some of them highly classified. Or maybe Trump was handing them out as party favors.)

And Graham bungled his prediction even worse when he supposed that nobody could get too mad at the incoming Joe Biden. Republicans quite swiftly pivoted back into lying about Biden outright, and Biden's every new proposal was met with bulging Republican eyes as lawmakers declared him to be the real "fascist."

Graham and the others weighed an attempted coup against proposals to hike corporate tax rates or speed the transition away from fossil fuels and decided that they preferred the coup. So here we are—except, now, with Republican state legislatures and Republican Party functionaries all hurriedly scribbling up new rules allowing the precise methods Trump attempted for his coup, evidence-free declarations that some communities should not have their votes counted paired with new Republican means of overturning elections if the votes do not go their way, to go forward with less resistance next time around.

In Graham's case the motives for flipping from outrage to coverup may be simpler than most. Graham himself was one of the Republicans to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to alter presidential vote totals in the state, backing the very Trump strategies that would soon consolidate into an attempted coup.

Yes, Lindsey Graham is a terrible person. Just terrible. This has been evident for years and was evident when he ditched his longtime ally Sen. John McCain to back Trumpism instead, and is evident every time he defends Republican sexual assaults, international crimes, or violent coup attempts with teary eyes and sneering contempt for the witnesses. He is a horrible, horrible, horrible person of the sort that Republicanism breeds; you cannot back Trumpism after all that has happened unless your devotion to horribleness surpasses every other ambition and personality trait.

So-called journalists who keep private these demonstrations that our elected officials lie constantly and grotesquely to us, exposing them only later when the quotes can be better monetized, aren't much better.

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Infowars host Owen Shroyer overlooked in abortion coverage while Jan. 6 plea deal may be in works

Owen Shroyer has a history of promoting his anti-abortion stance publicly. There is a reported record of his sharing misinformation or outright false information about organizations like Planned Parenthood, including the lie that they engage in human sacrifice rituals. 

This is untrue, like much else that springs forth from Shroyer’s lips or that of his cohort, Alex Jones, the host of the popular right-wing conspiracy program known as InfoWars.

And if people were unfamiliar with Shroyer for InfoWars, or perhaps wouldn’t recognize his face from a public outburst he had during an impeachment inquiry hearing for Trump in 2019—he was hauled out by police—they could also turn to the wealth of public reporting that exists about Shroyer and his very public fight to beat charges related to the attack of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Owen Shroyer was led out of a public impeachment inquiry hearing for President Donald Trump. 

And yet, when ABC ran World News Tonight on Sunday, the network included a video clip where Shroyer is briefly interviewed about his anti-abortion stance. He is, bizarrely, identified only as a “protester” in the chyron below his name.

Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

Noted by Media Matters for America first, what makes the chyron particularly concerning is that less than 24 hours before this interview in Texas by a reporter for ABC’s KVUE affiliate, Shroyer boosted his apperance on Infowars for over an hour. 

During that Infowars program, Shroyer is even seen in clips wearing the same shirt as he did in the ABC interview. He was also carrying a giant picture of a crying baby’s face with him that he apparently cut out, glued to a stick, and held up over his own to taunt pro-abortion rights activists. 

The plain descriptor of Shroyer at the protest is also troublesome because of his history of trolling the abortion rights movement and capitalizing on fears of violence. On the ninth anniversary of the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2018 by Scott Roeder, for example, Shroyer coordinated a protest in Texas and live-streamed right outside of the Texas Planned Parenthood. 

Meanwhile, Shroyer’s defense attorney made a virtual appearance in federal Washington, D.C., court on Monday afternoon as his client pushes to have criminal charges for Jan. 6 dropped, including entering restricted grounds and disorderly conduct. 

Shroyer, who was arrested in August, has argued that because he is a journalist he should not be charged. His conduct on Jan. 6, he claims, was protected speech under the First Amendment. 

Interestingly, when Shroyer’s Infowars colleague Alex Jones was in divorce court fighting for custody of his children with then-wife Kelly Jones, Alex Jones’s lawyer described Infowars—on the record—as “fake news” and told the judge that Jones was just playing a character. 

Shroyer couched his First Amendment claim in the argument that he was merely trying to calm the mob at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and essentially do crowd control. The judge presiding over his case, U.S. District Judge Tim Kelly, an appointee of former President Donald Trump’s, rejected that bid once before. 

Motion to Dismiss Shroyer Second Attempt by Daily Kos on Scribd

Another status conference for Shroyer was set for June 23, according to an entry on the court docket by Judge Kelly. 

Shroyer’s attorney, Norm Pattis, told Daily Kos in an email Monday, that after the hearing Monday, no plea agreements had been struck yet. 

“We are negotiating,” he said. 

Another plea agreement appears to be well in the works for fellow Infowars staffer Samuel Christopher Montoya.

Montoya—who was reported to the FBI by his family before his arrest last April—was meant to appear in court Monday for a status conference. But late last week, his attorney filed a motion to delay the hearing as a plea agreement was negotiated. 

US Montoya Motion to Continue Hearing by Daily Kos on Scribd

Schiff: ‘The court is the most unrepresentative body in the U.S.’ and ‘needs to be unstacked’

The effort by a handful of committed Democrats to elevate Supreme Court expansion got a powerful boost this week when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) added his voice. In a tweet Wednesday, Schiff said: “What I care about is that a small number of conservative justices, who lied about their plans to the Senate, intend to deprive millions of women of reproductive care. Codifying Roe isn't enough. We must expand the court.”

He elaborated on that in an interview with CBS News’ Robert Costa Thursday. “I think the court is now the most unrepresentative body in the United States,” He said. “It is a socially conservative court that has moved in a partisan direction to enact a partisan agenda. And it is the result of Mitch McConnell withholding a justice when Barack Obama was president and then forcing through a justice in the waning days before the election with President Trump.”  

Rep. Adam Schiff on why he has called for the Supreme Court to be expanded: "I think the court is now the most unrepresentative body in the United States." pic.twitter.com/xJ7WKIH1Vt

— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 5, 2022

“As a result, the court is now stacked in this socially conservative way and I think it needs to be unstacked,” he continued. 

“Stacked” or “packed” by McConnell and Trump, choose your rhetoric, the result is the same: “the court is now in a position to force on America a policy regarding abortion that America does not agree with, that puts women’s health at risk and I think is disastrous for the country.”

Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

The first order of business for congressional Democrats, he said, is to hold the vote on legislation to codify Roe v. Wade. He had a message for the two supposedly pro-choice senators who aided and abetted McConnell and Trump in this, as well as for the anti-filibuster Democrats: “I have to hope that some of these senators that bought these assurances from these Supreme Court nominees when they—before the Senate, under oath—said that they would respect precedent, having seen those promises betrayed, would support legislation now to codify Roe and do what’s necessary to overcome the filibuster to do it.”

That’s not going to happen, not even for as profound an issue as saving reproductive rights. But don’t get discouraged, says another key proponent for expanding the court, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). She gave a much-needed pep talk to all of us in Teen Vogue this week. “We may not end the filibuster in the next hour and a half, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't fight to do exactly that. To make change takes not only passion, but persistence. We gotta turn the heat up under it, and keep it up,” she said.

“Those who don't want to make change count on the fact that people get tired. Over Roe v. Wade, we don't have the luxury of getting tired. So if we want to make real change, we've got to push [to end the filibuster].”

She also gave an impassioned argument for expanding the court and for Democrats to keep fighting. “We need to be as visionary as right-wing Republicans have been,” she said. “The Roe decision, at some level, should have shocked no one. They've been working on this for decades. They've been working to stack the Supreme Court, so that it would be a handful of extremists who would deliver one opinion after another that would impose their worldview on the rest of us.”

“The number of justices on the Supreme Court is determined by Congress, that's what the Constitution says,” she pointed out. “Nine is not a magic number. It's been changed seven times before. When a court has gotten this far out of sync with American values, then it's time to expand the court and pull it back toward the middle.”

That’s the fight. It wouldn’t hurt for Schiff, who led the first Trump impeachment, to start making a legislative case for expansion by investigating all five extremist justices for swearing, under oath, to varying degrees of fealty to the idea of stare decisis—Supreme Court precedent. They all lied to different degrees about the respect they would give to the previous courts’ decisions.

They’ve, as Schiff said, squandered the integrity of the court. “[S]adly, most Americans now view the court as they should in the wake of this draft opinion as no longer a conservative legal court but merely a partisan one. The court has sadly become a partisan institution, like every other.” 

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Trump’s ‘parade of supplicants’ advised to woo the ocher ape with big fonts and color photos

I’m trying to think of anything more undignified than sucking up to colossal loser Donald Trump after everything that’s happened in the past few years—telling him he won elections he lost, groveling for his endorsement, buying overpriced tchotchkes at his cult compound/golf resort, and pretending you’re not staring directly into the sallow, rheumy eyes of primordial evil.

I wouldn’t hire Trump to manage a Chuck E. Cheese, unless I actually wanted to open a strip club with an animatronic jug band and didn’t know who to bribe or murder to make that happen. And yet, according to a profoundly pathetic Sunday New York Times story, Republicans as a whole still can’t get enough of his unique blend of feral charisma and sultry lunch meat sweats.

The story is long, sad, and eye-gougingly horrific, but we pretty much already knew the broad strokes of everything that’s in there. Republicans are cashing in their souls for endorsements, and Trump is devouring those souls like so many saucy McNuggets. Pretty standard fare for the sell-out-democracy party.

That said, one portion of the story did grab my eye, because there’s such a huge disconnect between what these GOP hopefuls—almost all of whom went to college—are likely thinking in the parts of their brains they’ve decided to keep alive and what they’re actually doing these days to curry Trump’s favor.

Mr. Trump enjoys flattery and is not above rewarding sycophants. But insiders say bringing compelling visual material matters, too. Big fonts are crucial. With photos and graphics. In color.

“He’s not a real big digital guy, so we had printouts,” said Joe Kent, who has since won Mr. Trump’s backing for his effort to unseat Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, one of the 10 Republican impeachment votes.

...

When he likes what he sees, Mr. Trump will mail words of encouragement, scrawled on news clippings with a Sharpie. “You are doing great!” he wrote in January to Mr. Kent. “You are doing great!” he wrote last October to Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

Good God, is being in Congress really worth this degradation? Is being in the GOP worth it? If I had to choose between behaving this way to stay politically relevant or chaining a pair of slumbering antelopes to my vintage Sam and Frodo nipple rings, it would probably come down to a coin flip.

The Times charitably refers to the GOPsters visiting Trump at Mar-a-Lago as a “parade of supplicants”—possibly because “caravan of ass-kissers” was deemed too déclassé for the paper of record. But Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio sums up these ingratiation celebrations pretty well.

“What was The Apprentice but a sad scramble of people behaving like crabs in a bucket to be lifted out by him?” said D’Antonio. “How are these people anything other than contestants vying for his approval?”

That’s a good analogy, but like most analogies, it’s a bit imprecise. Crabs in a bucket have far more dignity. If the GOP ever reaches crabs-in-a-bucket levels of seriousness again, maybe we can talk. But for now, they’re still beholden to the worst sentient being on this or any planet. And, well, the vast majority of them seem just fine with it. 

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say, “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT,” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE

Far-right Marine Le Pen pledges submission to Moscow, reminding us what Trump 2.0 would look like

In the span of a few weeks, the tilt of the geopolitical world has shifted so quickly that perhaps Americans just haven’t had enough time to digest how fortunate they are Donald Trump did not win the 2020 election. Doubtlessly the Ukrainians are aware, and those living in the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are as well because their very lives would have been entirely forfeit or at grave risk right now. But given the soothing comfort of its giant pick-up trucks, guns, and doorbell cameras, it might be asking too much of American culture to pause and consider the alternative reality we could all be living in.

Still, many—both in this country and elsewhere—would gleefully embrace that reality with open arms. Even as Vladimir Putin’s appalling army systematically rapes, tortures, and beheads helpless civilians in its murderous invasion of Ukraine, the Russian dictator has found a fawning ally in the French far-right, with the re-emergence of Marine Le Pen. Last week, Ms. Le Pen drew 23% of the vote in France’s splintered election, forcing a runoff on April 24 between herself and French President Emanuel Macron, who garnered approximately 28%.

On Wednesday, Le Pen—apparently unperturbed by what is now aptly characterized as a genocidal campaign by Russia to eradicate the Ukrainian population—pledged to effectively abandon the 70-year-old NATO alliance in order to ratify Putin’s brutality, should the French people vote her into the presidency. 

PARIS — Rejecting a “herd-like conformity” with the Biden administration, Marine Le Pen, the French far-right candidate for the presidency, said Wednesday that France would quit NATO’s integrated military command if she were elected and would seek for the alliance “a strategic rapprochement” with Russia.

As reported by Roger Cohen for the Washington Post, Le Pen’s rationale for accommodating Putin’s aims echo the same sentiments espoused by Donald Trump, who, according to former aides, was also intent on appeasing Putin by withdrawing the U.S. from the NATO alliance had he managed to be re-elected. This brand of Putin-envy appears to be particularly common among more autocratic, fascist-leaning politicians who have traditionally applauded the Russian despot as exemplifying what they call “strength” and resolve. In reality, they admire and envy the lack of any real constraints on his power, which they all shamelessly covet. We now see the end product of that lack of constraints playing out in Ukraine.

As Cohen observes, Le Pen’s agenda, to the extent she has one, mirrors Trump’s in all its essentials. 

Dismissing multilateralism, blasting Germany, criticizing the European Union, relegating climate issues to a low priority, attacking “globalists” and maintaining a near silence on Russia’s brutal assault in Ukraine, Ms. Le Pen gave a taste of a worldview that was at once reminiscent of the Trump presidency and appeared to directly threaten NATO’s attempts to arm Ukraine and defeat Russia.

The similarities between Le Pen and Trump were evident in the first days of the latter’s administration. As James Traub observed in a column written for Foreign Policy, Le Pen’s xenophobic brand of so-called “populism” (by now simply a more pleasant word for “fascism”) and the race-baiting lies she espoused to support it were simply more glib and soothing in their delivery than Trump’s general penchant for crudeness and bombast:

Le Pen repeated Donald Trump’s canard that Barack Obama had “banned” immigrants from Iraq; denied, despite vast evidence to the contrary, that her supporters routinely fire off racist and homophobic tweets; and claimed, wrongly, that immigrants can automatically gain French citizenship through marriage. And then there were the Trumpian delusions: that a policy of “economic patriotism” penalizing French companies that move abroad would not raise the cost of French products but rather would foster a “virtuous circle” boosting growth and employment.

As Traub points out, Le Pen’s calculated delivery of her trademark nationalism and bigotry largely stems from her need to distance herself in the French public’s eyes from her ultra-radical and unabashedly antisemitic father, Jean Marie Le Pen, who founded the National Front party she now leads. Still, Le Pen and Trump appear to be cut from basically the same cloth, even where Le Pen will, as Traub puts it, “demonize Muslims with a gracious smile instead of a vicious Twitter tirade.” Both are adept at cynically manipulating their public through fear of the “other.”  Both display an instinctive aversion to the very idea of cooperation between nations, which they perceive only as a means to undercut their own aspirations for control and power.

Both are also intolerant of any dissent. Just as Trump encourages his rabid base to attack journalists and protesters at his rallies, Le Pen exhibits a similar hostility against perceived political enemies:

 

🇫🇷France🇫🇷 A protester holding a picture of Le Pen and Putin shaking hands was tackled and dragged outside by security mens during a press conference in Paris.#MarineLePen #FrenchElection #EmmanuelMacron #Paris pic.twitter.com/M5IlF9rB8r

— Zaid Ahmd  (@realzaidzayn) April 14, 2022

Le Pen is currently expected to lose the run-off election, mainly because the majority of those who originally voted for the far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon will be unable (at least in theory) to stomach a Le Pen victory. And even if she wins, the NATO alliance will most likely remain standing, albeit with France as a thoroughly diminished and unreliable presence.

But suppose the 2020 U.S. election—which Trump may have lost simply because of his dismal handling of the COVID-19 pandemic—had gone the other way. What would have been left of American strategic power and influence in this world would have withered and died on the vine in brutally short order, probably from the moment Putin sent troops into Ukraine. It’s impossible to know how much resolve to assist Ukraine would have existed among the remainder of NATO, but without a credible leader, it’s difficult to imagine how that response would have been effective. The world has never seen a nuclear-armed pathology like Putin invade a peaceful neighboring country for wholly irrational reasons, wielding his nuclear capability as a threat against any country that dares to oppose him, and even worse, vowing to continue his efforts until he is stopped. History suggests that such countries will not stop until they encounter an immutable opposing force.

And Trump would not have delivered that force. A mercurial buffoon with no grasp of (or interest in) foreign policy or even a basic understanding of what NATO stands for—and against—might have been cajoled into reluctant action by an exasperated military. But the sheer weakness of that position would have been evident to anyone paying attention. And Putin, for all his now glaringly apparent flaws, pays attention.

Law professor Alan Rozenshtein, writing for Lawfare, described the “nightmarish” scenario that this country would have faced if Trump were still in office:

From this perspective, it is sobering, if not downright terrifying, to think of how Trump would have handled this current crisis, had he won in 2020. Consider first the question of loyalty. Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in which he responded to the Ukrainian president’s request for more Javelin anti-tank missiles (which have proved vital for the Ukrainian defense) by asking for Ukrainian help in digging up dirt on his main political rival, betrays a disloyalty to the national interest whose geopolitical implications are now all too clear.

Nor is it clear that Trump would even feel that it was his responsibility to rally the world to confront Russia, as the Biden administration has skillfully done. After all, Trump’s response to criticisms of his administration’s early missteps in handling the coronavirus pandemic was to say “I don’t take responsibility at all.” Why expect that he would feel different about a war half a world away, or that he wouldn’t simply have delegated weighty foreign policy decisions to informal advisors, thereby maintaining distance and plausible deniability, as when Rudolph Giuliani effectively ran the White House’s Ukraine policy. Even worse, given Trump’s personal affinity for Vladimir Putin, which he reiterated even as Russian forces entered Ukraine, is the very real possibility that Trump would have supported Russia’s invasion.

The world we all still live in—the world of liberal democracies with a legitimate transfer of power untainted by autocratic, fascistic propaganda, coercion, and repression—is now sitting atop a knife-edge, susceptible to one misguided election by an apathetic, self-absorbed and frankly historically ignorant electorate. Racist demagogues like Le Pen and Trump are perfectly willing to push us off into the abyss simply to realize their dreams of power—the rest of the world be damned. They are both aided by a radicalized base that sees no problem with simply watching the world burn if only to validate its own delusional, stoked-up grievances.

In 2020 we dodged a bullet. But that gun is still pointed at us. If Democrats can’t wake Americans up to that reality, no one else is going to. 

Editor’s Note: This story’s lead image has been changed.

Fiona Hill: Trump said he wanted more than two terms in the White House—and he wasn’t joking

Fiona Hill is a longtime Russia expert who has repeatedly distinguished herself as someone willing to speak boldly, from the strong warning she offered about Russia’s efforts to undermine U.S. democracy during her testimony at Donald Trump’s first impeachment hearings to her statement soon after Russia invaded Ukraine that using nuclear weapons would be in character for Vladimir Putin.

Hill’s expertise on Putin—she co-authored a biography of him—inflects her read of Donald Trump, who she was able to observe in detail during her time as senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council in his administration. New York Times Magazine look back at Trump’s treatment of Ukraine highlights an important passage from her recent memoir, There Is Nothing For You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century: “In the course of his presidency, indeed, Trump would come more to resemble Putin in political practice and predilection than he resembled any of his recent American presidential predecessors.”

RELATED STORY: Fiona Hill: Putin tried to warn Trump he would go nuclear, but Trump didn't understand the warning

In the Times piece, Hill offers more thoughts on that basic assessment, describing how “He would constantly tell world leaders that he deserved a redo of his first two years,” because, “He’d say that his first two years had been taken away from him because of the ‘Russia hoax.’ And he’d say that he wanted more than two terms.”

Listen and subscribe to Daily Kos' The Brief podcast with Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld

When interviewer Robert Draper suggests Trump was joking, Hill responded, “Except that he clearly meant it.”

Hill also heard David Cornstein, Trump’s ambassador to Hungary and a longtime friend, say similar things about Trump’s ambitions. “Ambassador Cornstein openly talked about the fact that Trump wanted the same arrangement as Viktor Orban”—the prime minister of Hungary, one of the autocratic leaders Trump so admires—Hill told Draper, “where he could push the margins and stay in power without any checks and balances.” 

But it was the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that fully clarified for Hill who Trump is and what his ambitions are. “I saw the thread,” she told Draper. “The thread connecting the Zelensky phone call to Jan. 6. And I remembered how, in 2020, Putin had changed Russia’s Constitution to allow him to stay in power longer. This was Trump pulling a Putin.”

Yeah. And U.S. institutions and democracy were strong enough to withstand it once, but we can’t afford a second attempt. Especially since, as Hill also told Draper, “Putin has been there for 22 years. He’s the same guy, with the same people around him. And he’s watching everything”—everything that happens through U.S. elections and changing administrations. 

As Hill warned during her impeachment testimony, “President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a super PAC. They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives. When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy.” Donald Trump is at this point Putin’s eager ally in doing that.

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Kentucky Democrat makes impassioned plea in defense of reproductive rights. You need to see this

Let’s see: In the past few years, Republicans have hitched themselves to Vladimir Putin, violent insurrectionists who tried to overthrow the legitimate government of the United States, a sore-loser campaign to undermine democracy, a former president who stole boxes of classified information from the White House and called a murderous tyrant a savvy genius, and a cruel campaign to gut  (particularly poor and vulnerable) people’s reproductive freedoms.

Seems like that’s a fuckuvalot for Democratic hopefuls to campaign on! Tell me again why so many of us are so pessimistic about the midterms?

Every time I see Republicans attempt to establish a tough-on-Putin narrative after spending four years suckling the scurfy teats of the Moscow murderer’s mucilaginous manservant, I want to effing scream. Where’s the pushback on these ghouls? Come on, now! Let’s get fired up, hey! Let’s get fired up!

In other words, we need more fire like this: Kentucky state Sen. Karen Berg has some choice words for her GOP colleagues when it comes to their support of cruel and benighted anti-choice legislation. In the following clip, she responds to a vote on Kentucky’s SB 321, which would ban abortions after 15 weeks. The bill is designed to mirror a similarly restrictive Mississippi law that’s currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. If SCOTUS upholds that law, Kentucky’s own back-alley clinic bill will be ready to go on Day One. This is straight fire, y’all. 

if you watch one thing today make it this pic.twitter.com/RN2wiq61rr

— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) March 19, 2022

BERG: “You know, I’m a diagnostic radiologist, and diagnostic radiologists, historically, and in many places in this state still do all of the first trimester OB ultrasound. So I am extraordinarily, personally familiar with the development of a fetus in the womb. And for you to sit here and say that at 15 weeks a fetus has a functional heart, a four-chamber heart, that can survive on its own is fallacious. That is not true. There is no viability. You know, I look around at my colleagues on this committee. I am the only woman on this podium right now. I am the only physician sitting on this podium. This bill is a medical sham. It does not follow medicine. It does not even purport to listen to medicine. And for each and every one of my colleagues to be so willing to cast an aye vote, when what you are doing is putting your finger, putting your knee, putting a gun to women’s heads. You are killing women, because abortion will continue. Women will continue to have efficacy over their own body, whether or not you make it legal. I vote no and I really, really apologize to the people of Kentucky that we are spending this much time and this much energy when we have families in poverty. We have single women heading households in poverty at a higher rate than any other group in the state. And you all are not addressing that. You are making it worse. Thank you.”

Democrats! This is how you do it! Interjection! Show excitement! Or emotion! Alleluia! 

Republicans’ war on women’s reproductive rights has now come dangerously close to victory. By a wide margin, most Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade—but the GOP clearly doesn’t care about most Americans’ opinions.

Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of Republicans opposed Volodymyr Zelenskyy before they supported him. And their longtime standard-bearer, Grampa Rage Diapers, is best buds with the butcher of Mariupol and still refuses to directly criticize him

Of course, if you want to support Democrats across the country in November, tossing a few ha’pennies Berg’s way might be a good start. 

Thank you to those asking where you can support my re-election. Here is the link: https://t.co/oQfaCkggft

— Karen Berg (@karenforky) March 19, 2022

Thanks, Karen. We need more Democrats like you. Hell, we need more Karens like you. Republicans are counting on a wave election in November. Let’s show them we have enough fight and grit left in us to withstand their tsunami of everlasting bullshit.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say, “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT,” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE

One of Trump’s closest White House advisers admits that ‘it’s hard to describe how little he knows’

The disgraced former president’s top national security adviser has been doing a slew of interviews the past few weeks. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, John Bolton, like most former national security advisers, has found himself being asked for his opinion on rapidly changing events. John Bolton’s bona fides as a truly terrifying warmonger span decades, and he has been critical of Trump—for a price. Bolton says what most of us already know: Trump’s extortion attempts, in the form of holding back military aid from Ukraine in order to dig up dirt on then-candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter, is a big part of the reason Vladimir Putin did not invade Ukraine until now.

“He obviously saw that Trump had contempt for the Ukrainians. I think that had an impact,” Bolton told VICE earlier this month. Bolton goes on to detail a phone conversation Trump had with Vladimir Putin, shortly after Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected, during which Trump asked Putin how he felt about him. According to Bolton, Trump’s lack of knowledge and backbone in that conversation likely reinforced Putin’s belief that Trump didn’t have strong feelings in support of Ukraine’s leadership.

Trump’s choice to bring Bolton on to replace H.R. McMaster was considered ominous at the time, since Bolton’s No. 1 foreign policy idea has always seemed to be “invade everybody.” But Bolton was in the rooms where Donald Trump conducted foreign policy discussions and played little brother to Putin. “Trump had no idea what the stakes were in Ukraine,” Bolton said.

Related: John Bolton is a warmongering jackass who just happens to have information vital to the nation

Related: Trump is replacing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster with warmonger John Bolton

Related: Lou Dobbs offers up conspiracy theory that John Bolton is working for the 'deep state'

Bolton also pointed out that Trump’s general dislike of NATO, and his work to undermine NATO, worked in favor of Putin’s position. Trump’s interest in Ukraine, according to Bolton’s book, only perked up in “the summer of 2019 when [Trump] realized that he could have the possibility of holding up the obligation and delivery of substantial security assistance [to Ukraine] in an effort to get access to the Hillary Clinton computer server that he felt was in Ukraine, finding out about Hunter Biden’s income in Ukraine, and all of these things in this spaghetti bowl of conspiracy theories. That was the first time he really focused.”

In fact, Bolton explained to VICE, Trump’s lack of curiosity for anything is profound. “It's hard for me to describe how little he knows,” Bolton tried to explain. This true mediocrity is why Trump’s reasoning for things is so whimsical and useless. He has no context or knowledge for much of anything. “He once asked [then-White House Chief of Staff] John Kelly if Finland was part of Russia. What he cared about was the DNC server, and Hunter Biden, and the 2016 election, and the 2020 election. That's what it was all about. And I think he had next to no idea what the larger issues were.”

As a result, Vladimir Putin didn’t have to be aggressive about much of anything regarding U.S. policy in the region. “I think one of the reasons that Putin did not move during Trump’s term in office was he saw the president’s hostility of NATO. Putin saw Trump doing a lot of his work for him, and thought, maybe in a second term, Trump would make good on his desire to get out of NATO, and then it would just ease Putin’s path just that much more.” In another interview, Bolton said of Trump’s threats to pull out of NATO, “I think Putin was waiting for that.”

Bolton’s beef with Trump has also led him to rail against the right-wing narrative that Trump was tough on Putin, with the U.S. under Trump applying sanctions to Russia. “In almost every case, the sanctions were imposed with Trump complaining about it, saying we were being too hard,” told Newsmax when that ultra-right-wing outlet tried to get him to go along with the narrative that Biden was at fault for everything in the history of ever.

Bolton, in an interview with the Washington Post earlier in March, Bolton said that he believed Vladimir Putin’s lack of open invasion of Ukraine during the Trump administration was possibly predicated on the Russian dictator’s belief that Trump would pull the United States out of NATO during a second term in office.

Arguably the saddest exchange between Bolton and VICE’s interviewer is the one when Bolton says he is unsure what Trump would have done if Russia had invaded Ukraine when Trump was in office. He joked, “He never got that server! Those Ukrainians wouldn’t give him the server!” The interviewer remarked that Ukraine probably wished that this mythical server with Hillary’s secret plans existed so they could have ingratiated themselves to Trump. Bolton’s reply, also clearly joking (or half-joking, at least) sounds like something Trump and the MAGA world would have held up as proof, not the absurdist joke it would have been:

“They should have given him a server and said, ‘Hey, we found that—may have been erased, but here's the server.’”

The Qronicles: Biolabs, and JFK conspiracy is back. This time he’s moonlighting as Donald Trump!

The Qronicles is a series that will collect some of the news, videos, and general mis/disinformation roiling around the conspiracy world of QAnon. You can cringe, you can laugh, but these folks are organizing and showing up at the polls!

WelQom back! (YAYYYYY!!!!!) It’s time for some Qronicles! The QAnon world is always busy because conspiracy theories need water, webs, roots, and a boatload of manure to grow. You need to trim those offshoots that didn’t work out and move the goalposts all the time. If you didn’t constantly tend to it, your massively outrageous conspiracy theory would die on the vine. Just ask QAnon toe-dipper Robert “RJ” Regan of Michigan, who blamed the media after he made a strangely triple-offensive remark concerning his daughters, the Big Lie, and sexual assault. There are benefits to keeping QAnon folks frothy with mystery and the dopamine-inducing empty epiphany. 

Related: JFK’s return didn’t materialize. Now QAnoners drink from a communal bleach punch bowl—literally

Related: JFQ Jr. announces Senate run

Related: QAnon Chronicles: Somehow, the JFK Jr. conspiracy crew got even weirder

First up is Ukraine. We discussed in the last Qronicles that QAnon’s conspiracy theories of Donald Trump and his secret war against all that is evil in the world had folded the invasion of Ukraine by Russia into the grand design. The narrative is that there are secret biolabs—wait, stop. These biolabs aren’t secret, they are well known and have published information that pretty much anyone can see. Shut up! There are biolabs, and they are secretly making bioweapons! Ukraine is making bioweapons? No, dummy! Dr. Anthony Fauci is making bioweapons with the help of Hillary Clinton and George Soros! It’s New World Order shit, daddy-o! They are going to begin controlling the new world from Ukraine!

That’s why Vladimir Putin is invading Ukraine? Exactly. Remember how all of those Ukrainians and Americans in Ukraine testified and released evidence that Donald Trump attempted to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden? Totally! He was impeached for that. But isn’t this the New World Order that can control the government, make it seem like Joe Biden is the actual president while the real president is playing golf in Florida, and hold the occasional rally? Didn’t they let Hunter Biden’s laptop get into the hands of Fox News and those folks?

Yup. They’re depraved!

It’s weird how QAnon folks seem to be arrested for things like child abuse and child pornography, and the conservative party they’re tied to seems to be filled with those kinds of cretins. Forget about all of that logic! I said biolabs!

Russia’s early struggles to push disinformation and propaganda about Ukraine have picked up momentum in recent days, thanks to a variety of debunked conspiracy theories about biological research labs in Ukraine. Much of the false information is flourishing in Russian social media, far-right online spaces and U.S. conservative media, including Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News.

This hogwash was recently parroted by former Democrat Tulsi Gabbard on Sunday, March 13. It has also received the now-common (and always profitable) libertarian wing of journalism’s seal of “We’re just asking questions.” Represented by folks like Glenn Greenwald and Michael Tracey, these are usually once somewhat respected anti-establishment journos who have found a lucrative financial niche in maintaining their anti-establishment bonafides while pretending not to notice that the right-wing-o-sphere makes up an extraordinarily large part of the media landscape. This allows them the chance to make a lot of money speaking to (mostly) men who, while they’re not against gay marriage and may even know some Black folks they call friends, do feel like capitalism has let them down. But they aren’t willing—or are too narcissistic—to put the blame on the systemic inequalities in our society and the need to make changes to deal with them. This makes them feel like they’re getting left further behind, and they’ve cornered themselves in a shame circle shaped like a penis.

Here’s an offshoot of this Ukraine conspiracy theory, care of VICE: Some QAnonites believe that Dear Leader Trump has long been telegraphing the secret mission now being undertaken by both himself and Putin! Specifically, his strange pronunciation of “China.” Even more specifically, some QAnoners believe the code-cracking is that Shpyl'chyna is the “Chy-na” Trump has been saying all these years—while also talking about the global superpower China at the same time. (12-dimensional chess and all that.)

The Ukrainian “chy-na” is in fact just part of the name of what appears to be a village on the outskirts of Lviv. In Ukrainian, it is called “Шпильчина,” but on Google Maps, it’s referred to as “Shpyl’chyna.” Unfortunately, this is a bad transliteration: The ‘y’ is meant to represent a very soft ‘i’ sound that’s hard to transliterate, because it’s rarely used in English.

English, shminglish! Let’s get back to John F. Kennedy!

After JFK, his son, and his wife failed to materialize—in fact, even Trump didn’t show up and technically he is alive—Michael Protzman, the originator of this JFK-based conspiracy theory, just dug in deeper. The people that stayed are very easily described as a cult. In fact, this Q-offshoot group has worried many of its adherents’ friends and family members

Michael Protzman aka -48 told his online followers after the rally that it wasn’t Trump on stage, It was JFK because of his height. He brings people on stage so you can see it’s not him. pic.twitter.com/Pt9VWyrz9L

— 2022 Karma 🌻🌻 (@2022_Karma) March 13, 2022

So Trump was wearing a John F. Kennedy suit? Wow. That had not occurred to me. Does this mean Donald Trump has always been dead and JFK has always been Donald Trump? Maybe it has something to do with an island. QAnon folks love a secret rich guy island where nefarious things happen. (Unless it’s Donald Trump hanging with well-known sexual predator and human sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.)

Speaking of John F. Kennedy Jr.: That guy—Vinnie Fusca, the one that some QAnon folks believe is actually JFK Jr. openly hiding at events—has decided to try and cash in on his cult celebrity. He’s looking to run for Senate in his home state of Pennsylvania. I mean, I thought he lived in Manhattan, or at least on the secret Joe Biden island with Michael Jackson and Princess Diana. It’s hard to keep up.

If you haven’t heard, gas prices are rising. Some people believe it’s inflation. Some people believe it’s fossil fuel interests using the invasion of Ukraine and “supply chain” issues as cover for gouging prices for higher profits, and some people think it’s President Joe Biden’s fault. However, some people in the land of Q believe that Biden is at fault for the higher gas prices but that he isn’t really president, and that Donald Trump is still in control of everything. But the gas issue, that’s Biden’s problem. Not Trump. Something about waking people up. Try to keep up.

Trump is still president but definitely don’t blame him for high gas prices. We got the news from this genius. pic.twitter.com/LuftMs2Hmd

— Davram (@davramdavram) March 3, 2022

Then there is the fear of being “digitiled.” What, you say, is that? It’s not technically a word, but as we can see in the clip, it’s a word now!

Asked a member of the trucker convoy what issues were important to her. Her answer was… interesting. pic.twitter.com/q7UDZHNxSE

— The Good Liars (@TheGoodLiars) March 7, 2022

It kind of seems to sound like what it is. How that might happen to this lady, be it by wearing a mask or by getting an injection, is unclear. I mean, I suspect her car has Bluetooth and she has a phone that sends occasional signals to and from satellites by way of cellular towers. Hopefully she never needs a pacemaker or any other such medical monitoring device as that would surely count as being “digitiled.”

And finally, there’s this.

This woman at the Trucker Convoy explained to us what covid19 REALLY means. pic.twitter.com/6XGRK1qcFr

— The Good Liars (@TheGoodLiars) March 14, 2022

The Gematria thing: It’s a numerology tool of sorts. Hebrew Gematria is much more involved and has the mysticism of being of “ancient” lineage. Unfortunately, Hebrew Gematria doesn’t get anything resembling the number of the beast. However, Simple Gematria does count “corona” as 66. It also counts my name as 154. According to numerology nation, this is a good sign for me! I’m in! COVID-19 is the Antichrist! Wait ... Oh, right, the surrender sheep thing. In Hebrew, “ovid” means “worker.” Ovid was a very famous Roman poet who lived from around 43 BCE to 17 CE. Maybe she meant “ovis?” “Ovis” is the Latin word for “sheep.” But this person with the very patriotic get-up must have missed the debunking of this “theory” done almost two years ago. The “19” code for “surrender” is not a thing.

So let’s fix it and call COVID-19 COVIS-surrender-in-202? I put the question mark there since we want to leave open the ongoing end of times date. Maybe it should be 20 just in case we end up in the next decade before the Clintons and Obamas finally take over the world and drink everybody’s baby blood.

Before we laugh too hard, remember: QAnon isn’t fringe. The most far flung aspects of the ideas may be fringe but they’re just the logic conclusions being reached by people who are having their ideas reflected back at them by pretend legitimate media outlets like Fox News. In turn it is the fountain from which all the right-wing news takes its propaganda cues these days. As the two views photocopy each other in an endless cycle, reality fades further and further away until the conspiracy has to be real otherwise what else will they have?

I’ll tell you one thing: People like Laura Ingraham will be richer—that’s for sure.

QAnon has a lot of funny wacky beliefs but I think important to remember the core of it is a day of the rope-style mass murder fantasy https://t.co/DdnKnykTfK

— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) March 10, 2022