Friday, September 30, 2022
Friday, September 23, 2022
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Trump's Lawyers Actually State, In Court Filings, The Best Way To Solve Issue Of
Classified Documents Is To Charge Trump With Federal Crimes And Put Him On Trial
Donald Trump's lawyers – in writing – went so far as to invite a criminal prosecution of Donald Trump to determine whether the documents are classified and whether or not they belong to Donald Trump. The Trump lawyers actually said, in writing, ". . . whether some of the listed property does not, in fact, belong to Plaintiff is a matter better dealt with on summary judgment or at trial."
Or at trial. There are Donald Trump's lawyers – in writing – today – to a federal appeals court – saying the way to determine who should have these documents is to charge Donald Trump with federal crimes and put him on trial. [shakes head]
After a day of Trump lawyering like today, you don't have to be a TV fiction-drama writer, like I used to be, to be left wondering: If Donald Trump's lawyers secretly were working against him, wanting him to be convicted of crimes, would they have done or said anything different today?
I mean, think about it. It was Donald Trump's lawyers who suggested Raymond Dearie as the special master, the special master who said today that he might not even look at the classified documents before ruling in favour of the prosecution. And it is Donald Trump's lawyers who have told the special master and the appeals court that the way to find out if [laughs] Donald Trump is going to claim that he declassified those documents while he was president is to charge him with a crime. They are inviting federal prosecutors to charge him with a crime.
The highest-priced lawyer in the room today – the one Donald Trump is paying $3 million of his contributors' money – didn't say a word – not one word. And he's considered the most competent lawyer on the Trump side.
At what point does Donald Trump begin to wonder which side are his lawyers really on?
The Justice Department is investigating Trump for violating (at least) three federal statutes:
18 U.S. Code §793 (the Espionage Act), which includes the refusal to return national security documents upon request. Penalty: up to 10 years in prison and being disqualified from holding any office in the United States.
18 U.S. Code §1519, which includes the act of concealing documents or records "with the intent to impede, obstruct or influence the . . . proper administration of any matter" within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies. Penalty: up to 20 years in prison per offense (i.e., per document).
18 U.S. Code §2071, which includes the theft or destruction of government documents. Penalty: up to three years in prison per offense.
All three statutes state that it does not matter whether the documents at issue were classified or unclassified. Whether Trump declassified any of the documents (and he didn't) is a moot point on which many journalists seem stuck. Discussing classification is playing the game by Trump's made-up rules.
Everything, literally everything, that has been reported to date shows unequivocally that Trump violated all three statutes. Indeed, neither he nor any of his lawyers have offered even one word of explanation as to why he was in possession of 60 boxes of government documents (which he initially told federal investigators were nothing but 12 boxes of "newspaper clippings") at the athletic-and-supper club where he lives.
Monday, September 19, 2022
Trumpy Judge Invents New Laws Just For Trump And Appoints Special Master; As Soon As Special Master Asks Trump For Some Info, He Starts Whining And Refusing To Cooperate
If you tried to make this shit up, you would fail. No one would believe it. It's too ludicrous.
A Trump-appointed judge invented a few new laws (while ignoring legal history) to give Trump exactly what he wanted – a Special Master to review the classified documents – and who he wanted – Ronald Dearie.
And then as his first task, Dearie asked Trump to provide the evidence showing Trump had declassified some of the documents he stole from the US government (Trump has claimed this in his faux-tweets, but his lawyers never claimed it in court (because perjury)). Team Trump did not appreciate Dearie's simple, logical request, to put it mildly.
Trump's lawyers complained that "disclos[ing] specific information regarding declassification . . . will force [Trump] to fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment". They also whined about Dearie moving too fast.
Before you know it, Trump will be faux-tweeting (with Random capitalizations) insults about "Deep State Dearie".
JUST IN: Special Master Dearie has asked Trump's team for declarations about any acftions he's taken to declassify material. Trump's team says i n a filing tonight that it is resisting that request — because it could be a defense to any criminal cahrges. https://t.co/Wrl47hrygS pic.twitter.com/fCeF7PnJKv— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 19, 2022
NYT reports that former WH top adviser and lawyer Eric Herschmann specifically warned Trump late last year that he could face legal exposure if he didn't return government documents, per 3 people briefed.— Duty To Warn 🔉 (@duty2warn) September 20, 2022
TO RECAP: Trump demanded a special master and won. He asked for Raymond Dearie and won. Now his legal team is upset that Dearie is asking for evidence of what he claims to have declassified and is setting aggressive deadlines.https://t.co/RsOsYCoQBu— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 19, 2022
The Special Master is calling Trump’s bluff and already they’re objecting. https://t.co/ds4O2lVFa4— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) September 19, 2022
The Special Master has asked Trump's team for declarations re: *any actions* he's taken to declassify material that was recovered from MAL. Trump's team stated in a filing tonight that it is *resisting* that request because it could expose Trump to criminal liability. LMFAO— Andrew Wortman 🏳️🌈🇺🇸 (@AmoneyResists) September 19, 2022
So, they're admitting to the Special Master that Trump never declassified anything but want the right to allege he did if it later benefits them to do so. This won't sit well with Dearie. And by tomorrow, mark our words (others have said it too) Trump will be railing on Dearie.— Duty To Warn 🔉 (@duty2warn) September 20, 2022
When you deny your hand-picked Special Master's request for information about documents because it may deprive you of a defense in a criminal case, I'd say you (or at least your attorney) know you're good and screwed. https://t.co/Pz0o72MD0K— Justin Scott (@Agasgani) September 19, 2022
Demanding a special master and already trying not to cooperate with said special master is peak Trump.— Angry Staffer 🌻 (@Angry_Staffer) September 20, 2022
How long until Trump demands a Super Special Master to oversee the Special Master that suddenly isn’t going his way?— Tristan Snell (@TristanSnell) September 20, 2022
Dearie should simply decide that he is going to accept the government’s assessment that docs that are marked classified are classified; if Trump wants to wait until he is charged to litigate declassification it’s unclear what the point is in reviewing them further now 🤷🏽♀️— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) September 19, 2022
Saturday, September 17, 2022
Rachel Self, an immigration attorney based in Boston (my emphasis):
Wow. An immigration attorney just exposed Ron DeSantis’ multi-million dollar human trafficking scheme and it’s even worse than it sounds. pic.twitter.com/ydFm8gnxht— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) September 16, 2022
Accounts from the migrants who arrived last night make it clear that they were lied to again and again and fraudulently induced to board the planes. They were told there was a surprise present for them, and that there would be jobs and housing awaiting them when they arrived. This was, obviously, a sadistic lie.Not only did those responsible for this stunt know that there was no housing and no employment awaiting the migrants, they also very intentionally chose not to call ahead, to any single office or authority on Martha's Vineyard, so that even the most basic human needs arrangements could be made. Ensuring that no help awaited the migrants at all was the entire point.They were provided with a cartoonishly simple map of Martha's Vineyard and the United States and a brief brochure containing snippets from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website — and instructions to report their change of address to USCIS when they relocated. This is especially troubling, as anyone with even the most basic understanding of immigration proceedings knows that USCIS was not the agency with whom the migrants would have to record their address and has nothing to do with their cases in any way.It is clear this was an intentional attempt to ensure the migrants were removed in absentia when they failed to change their address with the proper agency. This was a purposeful derailment designed to prevent people from complying with federal immigration policies. This is problematic because the state should not be interfering in federal immigration policy.Before they boarded the planes, the migrants were process by agents of the Department of Homeland Security, who listed falsified addresses on the migrants' paperwork. Agents apparently chose random homeless shelters all across the country, from Washington State to Florida, to list as the mirgants' mailing addresses, even when told by the migrants that they had no address in the U.S. According to the paperwork provided to them, the migrants are required to check in with the ICE office nearest the fake address chosen for them by DHS, or be permanently removed — with some required to check in as soon as this coming Monday.It couldn't be clearer that this is an attempt to ensure that these people are ordered removed, even as they try as hard as they can to comply with the instructions provided to them. There is no other reason to list as someone's mailing address a homeless shelter in Tacoma, Washington, and then ship them to Massachusetts. It is sickeningly cruel.Throwing obstacles in the way of people fleeing violence and oppression, some of whom walked through ten countries in hope of finding safety, is shameful and inhuman. Many of these victims were deprived of medical care despite clear existing injuries. These people are human beings who were deprived of basic human rights.To these wonderful people who find themselves plane-wrecked on our island, I have a message for all of them: You are not alone. We have your backs. We are proud to be here for you and we got you. If the intention of those who perpetrated this horrendous act was to create a crisis, they have failed.
Their demeanor is kind. Their demeanor is grateful and their demeanor is that they want to be doing everything right. Their biggest concern today is that many of them have dates to appear in San Antonio, Monday morning. Tacoma, Washington, Monday morning. Washington, D.C., Monday morning. You tell me how that's possible. . . . Their biggest concern is compliance.
It was 1962.— NPR (@NPR) September 17, 2022
Southern segregationists, fuming over the civil rights movement, hatched a plan to lash out at Northern liberals: They tricked some 200 Black Southerners into moving North with false promises of opportunity.
There are dark parallels today.https://t.co/owjK7wLpWD
DeSantis just used COVID-19 relief money he opposed to traffic 50 Venezuelans across the country. DeSantis only won his 2018 election by approximately 32,000 votes. Florida has the largest Venezuelan population of any state - 102,116 or .5% of the state's population.Charlie Crist, who is running against DeSantis in Florida, tweeted:
According to this article, Governor Abbott denied any involvement in chartering planes. The $12 mil program DeSantis created from interest on COVID-19 relief funds he opposed gives authority to transport illegal aliens from Florida.
DeSantis flew them from Texas to Florida so he could presumably use these funds to say he was transporting them "from" Florida [Note: The plane did make a brief stop in the Florida panhandle.]
Governor DeSantis enjoys no immunity from human trafficking or smuggling across state lines.
Apparently, Governor Abbott denies any involvement in this human trafficking stunt. So, how does a Governor from a different state (DeSantis) have authority to transport these individuals from another state across the country?
Answer: He doesn't.
Ron won’t answer questions so we looked ourselves: FL paid Vertol Systems $615,000 on Sept 8th out of the $12m deportation fund. So Floridians paid $12,300 for each refugee DeSantis trafficked for his own political purposes.Uhlfelder:
Vertol Sytems Company Inc. is based in Destin, Florida. https://vscglobal.comNote: Montgomerie is "a very, very conservative republican" who has had "government contract[s] for at least 22 years". In what is an interesting coincedence, he claims his company is "the only civil company currently operating Russian helicopters in the United States." . . . Maybe not a coincedence:
Vertol Sytems is owned by James Montgomerie. Vertol also is managing member of company affiliated with Destin developer Jay Odom called Zeppelin Holdings. Odom went to prison for laundering campaign funds for Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign.
NEWS: The little-known aviation company awarded the migrant "relocation" contract by the DeSantis administration purchased 6 helicopters from the Russian government in 2018 for $42 million. Other significant business with Kremlin-adjacent companies.
The Russian government bodies involved in the transaction, the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, and its parent company Russian Helicopters were sanctioned this year for proving support to the Russian military in Ukraine.
The Florida company awarded the migrant contract has also purchased aircraft parts from a Russian government contractor that is embroiled in an embezzlement scandal.
So, how does DeSantis coordinate paying $600k to a helicopter company based out of Destin, FL with ties to well known Republican donor who went to prison for laundering funds for Mike Huckabee transport 50 migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard.
I just called the owner of the business that got paid $615,000 by DeSantis to help transport 50 migrants across the country this week. I will provide updates going forward.
I’m now at the hangar where the company that was paid $615k at DeSantis’s request to traffic 50 human beings across state lines is headquartered. Strange, because I was told the company was just a flight school not a human trafficking company.
DeSantis’s relocation statute requires two bids for these contracts. I wonder what other flight school program bid for this human trafficking gig.
DeSantis knew if you wanted to pull off a crime like this the best place to do it is the Florida panhandle.
Planes land at Crestview airport. DeSantis pays $615k to crooked Destin vendor to carry it out. Stay tuned as we uncover all the players.
I guess the $615,000 doesn't cover the $25 a month WIX fee for DeSantis's human trafficking vendor. Their website just went dark.
Strange how the company DeSantis authorized to pay $615,000 to traffic 50 migrants no longer has a working website. I left message for head of company and visited their headquarters earlier today. It's a 4 person operation that trains pilots.
This shows you why Desantis never takes questions from reporters. He can’t coherently defend his own policies. FL law allowed him to transport migrants IN FLORIDA. He says he was justified flying them from TX because maybe some were going to FL. pic.twitter.com/w2Uws6kEFs— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) September 16, 2022
“Most of them were intending to come to Florida” — DeSantis pic.twitter.com/L9ChsbgllG— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 16, 2022
Right media today is just gross. The demagoguery on this is even more over the top than usual. One can just hope that the quiet center of this country politically is as repulsed as we are. pic.twitter.com/O8kuiaFH5m— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) September 16, 2022
This GOP Jesus ad will never age out pic.twitter.com/htUFGMpl8Q— Marjorie Gaylor Queen 🏳️🌈 (@Tim_Tweeted) September 15, 2022
Thursday, September 15, 2022
Do Federal Laws Apply To State Governors?
DeSantis (And Abbott) Should Be Arrested For Human Smuggling/Kidnapping After Transporting Migrants Across State Lines In Violation Of The Immigration And Nationality Act (8 U.S. Code §1324)
Give me your hungry, your tired, your poor, I'll piss on 'em
That's what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses, let's club 'em to death
And get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard
Get 'em out!
Lou Reed, "Dirty Blvd."
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is guilty of multiple violations of 8 U.S. Code §1324 (§274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act) and should be arrested.
DeSantis promised 50 Venezuelan and Columbian migrants that were in Texas that they would be transported to Boston and receive expedited work papers. That was a lie. DeSantis had the people, including numerous children, none of whom spoke English, flown to Martha's Vineyard (because Obama owns a house there (seriously, that's the reason)) and abandoned them at the airport. They had to walk three miles to a community center, with no idea where they were. Spanish-speaking high school students acted as interpreters.
The migrants were given a map and instructions about housing and jobs, but the directions led to a vacant parking lot. DeSantis told Fox this was part of his "relocation program for illegal immigrants".
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post writes that the deliberate sadism of the entire dehumanizing affair seemed "orchestrated for maximum cruelty", beginning with the migrants being approached by a woman outside a shelter in San Antonio, who gave them food and "lured" them onto the plane with the promise work papers.
One of DeSantis's spokespeople agreed with someone who likened her boss's actions to that of a criminal human trafficking cartel.
David J. Bier, The Daily Beast:
This was a crime perpetrated on some of the most vulnerable people in this country. . . .
[K]idnapping is really the only word that works to describe it. The state used deception to transport someone to a place they wouldn't otherwise go for the purpose of harming them and depriving them of the ability to move freely (especially to Florida).
Beyond the deception, the intent to injure the immigrants is further confirmed by the fact that though he apparently tipped off Fox News, Gov. DeSantis intentionally gave the little town no advance notice about the flight. Clearly, the plan was to trick the immigrants into leaving their shelter in Texas and strand them on the island homeless, jobless, and starving.
DeSantis, a neo-Nazi sociopathic pile of shit, publicly confessed (several times) to committing this crime and, in what appears to be a concerted effort to out-moron Donald Trump (he's already mastered the body language and air accordion solos), he had a film crew document his crimes. DeSantis (no stranger to using people as political propos) wasted taxpayer money for this illegal publicity stunt.
In addition to be arrested and charged with 50 violations of 8 U.S. Code §1324, DeSantis should be ordered to personally pay Florida's taxpayers back that $12 million. The punishment? It turns out it's five years in prison for each person transported. That's a potential 250-year prison sentence. Plus fines. . . . (Or just life in prison.) I'm cool with that.
Make an example of him and maybe ti would curb the on-going sadism from so many far-right public officials.
By the way, Texas Governor Greg Abbott also should be in handcuffs for multiple violations of the same law. Since April, Abbott has sent approximately 9,800 migrants to other cities, including Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago. (That works out to 49,000 years in prison.)
DeSantis and Abbott can be warehoused in one of those Florida or Texas unairconditioned prisons where the temperatures are regularly over 100 and the heat index, which records how hot it feels with humidity, reaches 150 degrees.
filed an official plea with the DOJ to prosecute Abbott and DeSantis for violating Section 274(a)(1)(A)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act which makes it a federal crime to transport undocumented persons across state lines.
The law is clear. No person may knowingly transport an undocumented person within the United States, and Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis just did.
We're holding Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott accountable for using human beings as political props. Democrats need to stop playing nice. It's time to fight fire with fire.
Gavin Newson has also requested that the Department of Justice begin an investigation.
Jonathan V. Last of The Bulwark is rightly incensed:
Ron DeSantis is, supposedly, a Christian.
Here's DeSantis last February, talking to the Very Fine Kids at Hillsdale College:Put on the full armor of God. Stand firm against the left's schemes. You will face flaming arrows, but if you have the shield of faith, you will overcome them, and in Florida we walk the line here. And I can tell you this, I have only begun to fight.On Monday, the Tampa Bay Times dove into his penchant for invoking Christian and nationalist themes:The biblical reference DeSantis is using is from Ephesians 6, and calls on Christians to spiritually arm themselves against the "devil's schemes." In DeSantis' speeches, he has replaced the "devil" with "the left" as he tries to mobilize supporters ahead of his reelection in November and possibly a run for the White House in 2024.. . . Let's pretend, just for a moment, that Jesus would have nothing to say about whether or not the state should seek to discourage undocumented migrants as a high-level matter of government policy.
"The full armor of God passage is a favorite amongst certain types of Pentecostals who really do see the world in terms of spiritual warfare," said Philip Gorski, a comparative-history sociologist at Yale University who co-wrote the book The Flag and the Cross: White Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy.
DeSantis has made the biblical references in numerous stump speeches. He did it at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando in February. Then, at the Florida Republican Party's annual gathering in July. And again, in August, while campaigning alongside Doug Mastriano, a right-wing Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate who has promoted Christian power in America. . . .
On Sunday, DeSantis was a keynote speaker at the National Conservatism Conference in Aventura, a three-day event that featured several sessions about the role of Christianity in politics, including one titled "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Christian Nationalism."
Those planes were filled with actual human beings. People with dignity. People with hopes and dreams, problems and challenges. People with names and families.
And this Christian man used them as props. He didn't clothe the naked or feed the hungry. He literally did the opposite: Evicted them—and not because he felt that he had to, because it was a requirement of the law. But because he saw that he could use them as a means to the ends of his personal ambition.
I'm trying—really trying—not to get too hot here. But Christians should look at this act and be revolted. They should be horrified.
Because using vulnerable human beings for your personal gratification is evil. Full stop. . . .
[H]e's not just doing evil. He's doing evil while claiming Jesus as his justification. . . .
One of the early truths we learned about Trumpism was that the cruelty was the point.
In previous eras, when a political actor pursued a policy that was useful but cruel, he would make excuses. He would pretend that actually the policy was okay. That no one would really get hurt. Or that, if someone was going to get the short end, that tough choices had to be made because there was no alternative. So sorry.
One of Trump's political innovations was to realize that his followers wanted cruelty. They didn't care about abstract ideas, like the free market or liberalism. They had various subsets of Americans whom they hated. What they wanted was a strongman who would target these othered peoples and hurt them. They wanted cruelty; policy TBD.
That lesson has been absorbed by Trump's children, DeSantis first among them.
This episode is one more data point in support of the thesis that Christian nationalism is nationalism first and foremost. In this formulation, "Christian" is not a modifier so much as a marker, useful only to distinguish one nationalist tribe from another.
The people of Martha's Vineyard turned a callous, cold-hearted, and evil political stunt into a demonstration of how to be a caring human being.
I was reminded of this November 2019 exchange between Salon's Chauncey DeVega and Dr. John Gartner, a psychologist, psychoanalyst, and former professor at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School, and the founder of the Duty to Warn PAC.
Trump has really normalized deviance. At one of his recent rallies he even pretended to have an orgasm on stage while re-enacting a sex act. There is a deeply libidinal connection between Donald Trump and his cult members. This is an aspect of fascism which is little understood by the general public and most in the news media.
Trump experiences great pleasure from sadism. One of the four components of narcissism is sadism, getting pleasure — maybe even sexual pleasure — from degrading, humiliating and harming your enemies. . . .
Donald Trump is an empty shell of a human being. That is what he is manically trying to overcome with all this grandiosity. Deep down inside, Donald Trump is a very empty and sad person. . . . I believe that Donald Trump's whole life is about a battle to be dominant and to crush his enemies. That is what gets him off. It excites him.
One of DeSantis's former college baseball teammates called him "the most selfish person I have ever interacted with" and "the biggest dick we knew":
He has always loved embarrassing and humiliating people.
Nothing I have read about DeSantis dissuades me from believing he receives the exact same pleasure — a drug rush of pure joy, perhaps even a sexual satisfaction — from inflicting pain on people he hates.
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
A New Book: "American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation Of How The Republican Party Went Crazy (David Corn)
David Corn's new book looks like it will be a solid, if depressing, history lesson.
It Didn't Start With Trump: The Decades-Long Saga Of How The GOP Went Crazy
The Modern Republican Party Has Always Exploited And Encouraged Extremism.
David Corn, Mother Jones, September/October 2022
. . . Joe Biden had expressed [the sentiment] during the 2020 campaign: If Donald Trump were out of the White House, the GOP would return to normal and be amenable to forging deals and legislative compromises. . . .
But was the GOP's complete surrender to Trumpism an aberration? Or was the party long sliding toward this point? About a year ago, I set out to explore the history of the Republican Party, with this question in mind. What I found was not an exception, but a pattern. Since the 1950s, the GOP has repeatedly mined fear, resentment, prejudice, and grievance and played to extremist forces so the party could win elections. Trump assembling white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Christian nationalists, QAnoners, and others who formed a violent terrorist mob on January 6 is only the most flagrant manifestation of the tried-and-true GOP tactic to court kooks and bigots. . . .
In my book American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy, I lay out this sordid history in great detail. But even a highlight reel makes it clear that the GOP has bowed to, depended on, and promoted far-right extremists and conspiracists for the past 70 years. Trumpism is the continuation, not a new version, of Republican politics. . . .
The Southern Strategy
In 1968, Nixon had a problem, actually two: George Wallace and Ronald Reagan. . . . Nixon worried that Wallace, the segregationist and former Democratic governor of Alabama running as a third-party candidate . . . Nixon feared that Reagan, the onetime B-movie star who had won the California governorship in 1966 by exploiting white backlash to the civil rights movement . . .
This led him into the arms of white supremacists. At a May gathering of Southern Republican officials, Nixon pandered, saying he opposed forcing the pace of integration, especially busing to redress school segregation . . . [Nixon met and found common ground with] Strom Thurmond, the arch-segregationist senator from South Carolina . . .
In subsequent weeks, Nixon contemplated how best to capitalize on racism. . . . Nixon instructed his campaign manager, John Mitchell, to tell Southern party leaders that he would choose a running mate acceptable to the South and would "lay off pro-Negro crap." . . .
Nixon blocked Reagan and won the nomination. He chose Maryland Gov. Spiro Agnew, an experienced race-baiter, as his running mate. . . . He had won the nomination battle by kneeling before the segregationists and adopting racism as a key ingredient in the GOP's recipe for electoral success.
Reagan's Allies of Hate
Reagan eventually got his turn. After being nominated at the GOP's presidential convention in July 1980, his first campaign stop was in Philadelphia, Mississippi—where 16 years earlier the Ku Klux Klan had murdered three civil rights workers. . . .
Throughout the campaign, Reagan courted the new religious right. . . . [In August 1980, Reagan sat behind] fiery Pastor James Robison . . . "There is no possible way that you can separate God from government and have a successful government," Robison thundered. He blasted liberals, homosexuals, and communists, lumping them all together into one giant threat to American families. "We'll either have a Hitler-type takeover, or Soviet dominion, or God is going to take over this country." . . .
Satan's Useful Idiot
. . . The GOP's embrace of [Pat] Robertson became a bear hug after he formed the Christian Coalition in early 1990. . . . Robertson advanced the far-right trope that America was being annihilated from within, claiming "elites" were trying "to destroy the very society from which they drew their nurture." He added, "There will be Satanic forces . . . We are not going to be coming up just against human beings to beat them in elections. We're going to be coming up against spiritual warfare." . . .
Robertson had published a book, called The New World Order, that merged some of the battiest conspiracy theories of the ages. . . . George H.W. Bush, he asserted, had "unwittingly" carried out "the mission . . . of a tightly knit cabal whose goal is nothing less than a new order for the human race under the domination of Lucifer and his followers."
George Bush, Satanic dupe—that was Robertson's claim. The Wall Street Journal called his book a "compendium of the lunatic fringe's greatest hits." . . .
But the Christian Coalition would become further integrated into the GOP and help Newt Gingrich and the Republicans gain control of the House in 1994. Six years later, Robertson and his group would rescue Texas Gov. George W. Bush when Sen. John McCain threatened to defeat him in the Republican presidential primary. W. welcomed the assistance of the nut who had pegged his dad as Satan's useful idiot.
Joining the Tea Party
In the fall of 2009, a House Republican backbencher summoned conservative activists to the Capitol for a protest and ended up fusing the GOP to a new manifestation of far-right extremism. . . .
Tea Partiers, led by Sarah Palin [and shot full of paranoia, racism, and rage] . . . falsely claimed Obama's health care reform bill would set up "death panels" . . . [They] legitimized Fox News host Glenn Beck, an unofficial Tea Party leader who suggested Obama was a "full-fledged Marxist" who hated white people, was setting up concentration camps for his political foes, and was creating a "fascist" state. . . .
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann . . . urged Tea Partiers to protest the health care bill at the Capitol. Thousands showed up. They carried signs depicting Obama as Sambo. . . . Another equated Obamacare with a Holocaust death camp. At the mention of Democrats' health care plan, the Tea Partiers shouted, "Nazis! Nazis!"
Yet this crowd was welcomed by the top leadership of the GOP. Present were House Republican leader John Boehner, Reps. Eric Cantor and Mike Pence, and other House Republicans. . . .
Boehner and other Republicans had emboldened a nativistic and tribalistic right-wing force that would soon provide a political base for Trump's jingoistic, racist, and demagogic campaign.
There's a well-established record. For more than 70 years, the Republican Party has stoked animus and conspiracies, often capitalizing on unfounded apprehension about internal enemies subverting the nation. In the 1950s, the foe was Reds. In the 1960s (and beyond), it was Black people demanding social justice and societal change. In the 1970s, the New Right and the religious right claimed liberals and Democrats (and gays!) were plotting to destroy the nation. Tea Partiers asserted Obama headed a sinister cabal bent on turning the United States into a socialist hellhole. Trump and his devotees say the same about today's Democrats.
From McCarthyism to the Southern strategy to the New Right to the Tea Party—the GOP told Americans they were being victimized and that their nation was being sabotaged by their fellow citizens. The Republican Party encouraged Americans to believe the worst, and it affirmed the worst beliefs held by Americans. It operated a feedback loop that caused and reinforced animosity. It bred extremism; it cynically profited off extremism.
There is a great body of academic literature exploring why people believe conspiracy theories, hold fast to false premises, and are susceptible to tribalism and drawn to authoritarians. In 1970, sociologists Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab wrote, "Right-wing extremist movements in America have all risen against the background of economic and social changes which have resulted in the displacement of some population groups from former positions of dominance." Four decades later, political scientists Christopher S. Parker and Matt A. Barreto concluded, "People are driven to support the Tea Party from the anxiety they feel as they perceive the America they know, the country they love, slipping away, threatened by the rapidly changing face of what they believe is the 'real' America: a heterosexual, Christian, middle-class, (mostly) male, white country." In an analysis of Trump's 2016 victory, political scientists John Sides, Michael Tesler, and Lynn Vavreck reached an identical conclusion: "He capitalized on an existing reservoir of discontent about a changing American society and culture."
The GOP hasn't been all extremism, all the time. . . . But since at least the 1950s, the party has consistently boosted extremism, prejudice, paranoia, and rage. . . .
This dark side of the Republican Party has often been obfuscated, allowing Biden, Pelosi, and others to suggest there was once a day when the GOP was an honorable entity. Yet the history is undeniable: The party has consistently sought to exploit the worst of America and foment hate and suspicion. Trump didn't invent this malevolence. He merely turned it into the party's brand.
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In the latest edition of Our Land, Corn realizes his book's subtitle is "a bit of a misnomer":
Donald Trump and Snowflake FascismDonald Trump recently issued a statement on his struggling TRUTH Social platform: "Why are people so mean?" This came in the middle of a conservative crusade to depict liberals and Democrats as nasty folks. Trump's remark captured the absurdity of this campaign. The fellow who routinely assails political foes and critics as "losers," whose misogynistic history of denigrating women is unparalleled in American public life, who rose to the top of the GOP pile by disparaging the physical appearances of his opponents (and, in one case, the wife of an opponent), who railed against Muslims and "shithole countries," who called for locking up his political rival, who worships revenge and lives on spite, who denounced journalists as "the enemy of the people," who relishes conjuring up ugly and dismissive nicknames for his political adversaries, whose entire political project is built upon denigration and vilification—this guy complains about people being mean? And this list does not include his incitement of an insurrectionist riot or his attempt to destroy the foundation of American democracy.
Yes, you can chalk this up to Trump projection: his habit of accusing others of his own pathological sins. But his whine occurred as other right-wingers boo-hoo'ed about President Joe Biden's recent blast at Trumpism. . . .Trump and his cultists are masters at the I'm-rubber-you're-glue form of name-calling. Each day, I receive a bunch of fundraising emails from Trump or other Republicans lambasting evil Democrats as radical socialists or communists pursuing devious plots to purposefully destroy America. . . .On September 1, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Biden again addressed the issue of MAGA extremism in a formal speech. Noting that not every Republican is a MAGA Republican—which is a charitable position these days—he declared, "Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic." He put it simply: "MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election. And they're working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself….They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence." . . .And this, too, triggered the Trumpers. Mercedes Schlapp, a former Trump White House official, exclaimed, "No Republican can feel safe in Biden's America.". . . In pro-Trump internet forums, Biden was cast as Hitler. Ari Fleischer, the onetime White House press secretary who helped the Bush-Cheney administration lie the United States into the Iraq war, slammed Biden as "the most divisive, over the top, rhetorically vile, bumbling, inarticulate president in history." Did Fleischer just wake up from a five-year coma? . . .The GOP, going back to McCarthyism, has wielded falsehoods and paranoia to cast its political enemies as malevolent and nefarious threats to the nation—as literal enemies of the state. . . . [N]ow we see that Trump and his Republican enablers are snowflake fascists. They hurl false accusations to demonize and dehumanize adversaries, plot against democracy, peddle outrageous lies to their followers, support dangerous and nutty conspiracy theories, and fan the flames of political violence. Then they moan when they are called out. C'mon now. Fascists ought to be made of sterner stuff. Perhaps that's why Biden called them semis.
Donald Trump and Gaslight Fascism
. . . This is when authoritarians deny their own efforts to impose an authoritarian regime. The GOP has been engaged in gaslight fascism since the January 6 riot, refusing to fully acknowledge the assault for what it was: a rampage of domestic terrorists who had been directed by Trump toward the Capitol and who tried to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power. . . . To counter Biden and to claim that he (not Trump) is the divisive force in American politics—Trump called Biden an "enemy of the state" at a rally in Pennsylvania this weekend—MAGA-ites cannot admit the reality of January 6 and Trump's various schemes and actions to sabotage the 2020 election. . . .
I encountered this directly . . . when I got into a Twitter dust-up with Ric Grenell, the combative and nasty (and apparently misogynistic) Trumpster who served as Trump's acting director of national intelligence for three months in 2020 . . . Grenell contended that criticism of Trump and the Republicans for January 6 and the 2020 Big Lie was nothing but a Democratic attempt to "crush dissent." He insisted that Trump had done no wrong on January 6 and only had called for a peaceful protest. He asserted that the fact-based description of Trump's misdeeds—Trump declaring victory with no basis for that claim, subsequently plotting secretly to overturn the election results, and then doing nothing when his mob attacked the Capitol—was "fake" history.
This was full-scale denialism—so extreme as to be absurd. But this is how fascists and authoritarians debate. . . . George Orwell knew this. In 1984, what is the apotheosis of the Party's desire to create a false reality? "In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it," Orwell wrote. "It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it."
Trump fascists have been trying to do the same with the 2020 election: conjure an alternative reality untethered from confirmed facts and declare it to be the party's truth. And in a two-plus-two-equals-five way, they transform a democracy-threatening authoritarian force into patriotic defenders of democracy. Grenell was casting the Big Lie brownshirts as heroic dissenters, not fascist thugs. More disturbing was that a pack of Grenell's tweeps chimed in with assorted lies and distortions about the 2020 election and January 6. They were drowning in the Kool-Aid served by Trump, Grenell, and their co-conspirators. . . .The reality of Trump's conniving to subvert the republic cannot be recognized by leading Republicans. Doing so would create a dilemma for them. They would then have to explicitly declare themselves in favor of or opposed to this Trumpian war on democracy. They realize an outright expression of support for autocracy would not be good for the GOP, yet a declaration of opposition to the Trumpist assault on the Constitution would alienate any Republican from the party's cult-like base. . . . To survive within the GOP, they must deny. They must say black is white. War is peace. Authoritarianism is democracy. That is the only way the party can now exist. The logic of their position demands it.
[T]he Republican Party has always been somewhat crazy—at least since World War II. That is, if you define "crazy" as the acceptance and promotion of irrationality, bigotry, paranoia, conspiracy theories, and other elements of fanaticism. . . . Donald Trump just placed it front and center and made the red meat even bloodier. . . .One point from the book that seems especially relevant these days is that the GOP and the right has long employed a diabolical and demagogic tactic: accusing Democrats and liberals of purposefully seeking to destroy the United States. . . . The threat within—it's been a common theme for Republicans for decades. We see it today, as the right pushes panics over CRT and the Great Replacement Theory and accuses Democrats of pedophilia.
Spending over a year researching and writing American Psychosis has bolstered my belief in the importance of understanding history. . . . [O]nce you recognize and acknowledge it, the task of countering such reckless and irresponsible political warfare becomes a tad easier. As I've noted before, at the start of this project I didn't envision this book being so timely and relevant. Yet as a debate has ensued over the role of MAGA extremism in the GOP and the value of dubbing Trumpism a fascist—or semi-fascist—enterprise, this history provides a crucial context for this moment and for figuring out what should be done.