Archives for category: Republicans

Since he lost in 2020, former President Trump has repeatedly and falsely alleged that the election was rigged, stolen from him. Millions of his adherents believe him. Sowing disbelief in the fundamental fairness of the nation’s voting system may be Trump’s greatest crime, for which he will never be prosecuted. It is a clear violation of his oath of office, in which he solemnly swore that he would “”to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

But the Washington Post obtained a secret study commissioned by Trump to determine the scope of any election fraud. The study did not confirm the claims Trump made in public. The voter fraud discovered by his team could not verify his wild claims.

When Donald Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, in a now-infamous bid to overturn the 2020 election, he alleged that thousands of dead people had voted in the state.
“So dead people voted, and I think the number is close to 5,000 people. And they went to obituaries. They went to all sorts of methods to come up with an accurate number, and a minimum is close to about 5,000 voters,” he said, without citing his study.

But a report commissioned by his own campaign dated one day prior told a different story: Researchers paid by Trump’s team had “high confidence” of only nine dead voters in Fulton County, defined as ballots that may have been cast by someone else in the name of a deceased person. They believed there was a “potential statewide exposure” of 23 such votes across the Peach State — or 4,977 fewer than the “minimum” Trump claimed.In a separate failed bid to overturn the results in Nevada, Trump’s lawyers said in a court filing that 1,506 ballots were cast in the names of dead people and 42,284 voted twice. Trump lost the Silver State by about 33,000 votes.

The researchers paid by Trump’s team had “high confidence” that 12 ballots were cast in the names of deceased people in Clark County, Nev., and believed the “high end potential exposure” was 20 voters statewide — some 1,486 fewer than Trump’s lawyers said.

According to their research, the “low end potential exposure” of double voters was 45, while the “high end potential exposure” was 9,063. The judge tossed the Nevada case even as Trump continued to claim he won the state.

Are there penalties for lying?

Are there consequences for undermining public confidence in the democratic process of selecting those who govern us?

How do we hold accountable a president who violates his oath of office?

Most of us probably didn’t realize that the controversy over transgender athletes was a matter deserving Congressional action.

Should trans women be allowed to compete in women’s sports? Should trans men be allowed to compete in men’s sports? I assumed that the governing bodies of the sports would settle the matter.

But Republicans believe it is necessary to pass a federal law. They know the Senate won’t pass whatever law they write, so this is a symbolic gesture to their base, some of whom are terrified of trans people.

SPORTS BILL ADVANCES FOR FIRST TIME —Congressional Republicans are the closest they’ve ever been to passing legislation that would prohibit transgender women and girls from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity.

— The bill — H.R. 734 (118), the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 — was introduced by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) several times, but was taken up by the House Education and Workforce Committee for the first time last week in a 16-hour markup. It would amend Title IX, the federal education law that bars sex-based discrimination, to define sex as based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.

— The measure was recommended by the committee in a vote on party lines and is now primed for a vote on the House floor. While H.R. 5 (118), the Parents Bill of Rights Act, cleared the committee the same day and is slated for a vote in two weeks, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s office said they haven’t made any announcements on when they will take up the sports bill for a vote. House Republicans are expected to pass the bill with their slim majority, but it’s not likely that the Democrat-controlled Senate will allow the bill to move.

— The legislation will be a way for the GOP to force Democrats to go on record with their support for transgender students to play sports, a key part of the GOP’s 2022 midterm policy agenda. It is also a direct rebuke of the Biden administration’s proposed Title IX rule, which seeks to codify protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Education Department is expected to unveil its final rule in May, though it said it would make a separate rule for sports.

Now we begin to understand how Trump and other demagogues win power and control people: Fear. Ordinary people do not have this mysterious charisma, this ability to frighten and intimidate others.

Aaron Blake, a columnist for the Washington Post, explains this power:

“What [Donald Trump]’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson texted his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, two days after the 2020 election. “He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”

“We can’t make people think we’ve turned against Trump,” another Carlson producer warned Pfeiffer on Nov. 10.

“We don’t want to antagonize Trump further, but [Rudy] Giuliani taken with a large grain of salt,” Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch told Fox News’s CEO in a Nov. 16 email. “Everything at stake here.”

“‘No unforced errors’ in content — example: Abruptly turning away from a Trump campaign press conference,” Fox News executive Ron Mitchell wrote in a Nov. 18 email to the CEO and Fox News’s president.

By the night of Jan. 6, 2021, after the dust had settled on the Capitol riot, Carlson declared Trump to be “a demonic force, a destroyer. But he’s not going to destroy us.”

The internal Fox communications shared last week in the defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systemspaint a picture of a cable news outlet that was preoccupied with its business model as it chose to air baseless and false claims about a “stolen” election. And a big part of those preoccupations was not just the pronounced worries about its rival Newsmax’s sudden ratings boom, but Fox’s fear of Trump. Rather than driving conservative thought as the nation’s leading right-wing media organization, Fox adopted a defensive and reactive posture.

And in many ways, these backstage exchanges mirror the dynamics within the broader conservative movement and the Republican Party.

It’s no novel observation to say that Trump has maintained this degree of power over the GOP in large part due to threats — whether stated, implied or assumed. Everyone knows that running afoul of Trump is a recipe for Trump making your life miserable with the base. And so the party sticks with Trump in some measure even though it’s obvious he’s proven more of an electoral liability than an asset.

Nor is Carlson is the first conservative to warn about Trump’s ability to “destroy” allies who displease him; Republicans have repeatedly pointed in this direction.

“He can make [the party] bigger. He can make it stronger. He can make it more diverse,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) told Axios in March 2021. “And he also could destroy it.”

When Axios’s Jonathan Swan suggested that Graham was stroking Trump’s ego so Trump didn’t break off and form a third party, Graham didn’t at all disagree with the premise of the question.

Similarly, several Republicans have said their colleagues went along with Trump’s stolen-election claims out of fear — not just for their political careers, but for their personal safety. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has said GOP colleagues privately admitted they acquitted Trump at his first impeachment trial out of fear.

Trump’s former attorney general, William P. Barr, wrote in a November New York Post op-ed that Trump’s strategy is to control a sizable enough faction of the party, “which allows Trump to use it as leverage to extort and bully the rest of the party into submission.”

Barr added: “The threat is simple: Unless the rest of the party goes along with him, he will burn the whole house down by leading ‘his people’ out of the GOP.”

As political strategies go, it’s unquestionably proven and effective. Virtually all high-profile Trump critics have seen their numbers crater with the GOP base after they spoke out — from Bob Corker to Jeff Flake to John McCain to Liz Cheney to Mitt Romney. Former vice president Mike Pence saw his numbers fall off a cliff after Jan. 6 for the offense of not unilaterally attempting to overturn the 2020 election.

What’s left is the need to thread the needle between saying what you know or actually believe and keeping your seat at the table (and, in Fox’s case, your viewers). In private, Fox employees spoke repeatedly about that dilemma.

Mitchell privately derided Giuliani’s and Sidney Powell’s wild Nov. 19 news conference, but he also lamented that “those clowns put us [in] an awkward place where we’re going to need to thread the needle.”

The second Carlson producer, Justin Wells, noted, “We’re threading a needle that has to be thread because of” Fox News’s decision desk calling Arizona for Trump.

And just before Carlson warned about Trump destroying Fox, one of his producers intoned, “It’s a hard needle to thread, but I really think many on our side are being reckless demagogues right now.”

Carlson responded: “Of course they are. We’re not going to follow them.”

Carlson went on to apply some real skepticism to Powell’s claims, pointing to her lack of evidence — the rare Fox News host to do so. “It’s unbelievably offensive to me,” Carlson texted fellow Fox prime time host Laura Ingraham on Nov. 18. “Our viewers are good people and they believe it.”

The following day came Powell’s and Giuliani’s infamous Nov. 19 news conference in which they, among other things, repeatedly and falsely accused Dominion of rigging the election. Fox reporter Kristin Fisher fact-checked the claims, saying, “So much of what he said was simply not true or has already been thrown out in court.” Fox host Dana Perino noted Dominion could sue over the claims.

Both segments drew derision from executives who worried that viewers would feel disrespected, even as both Perino and Fisher were correct — prescient even, in Perino’s case.

Fox News is currently experiencing the legal downside of toeing Trump’s line out of fear. The national Republican Party has been failing to actually thread that needle for years now — and, looking ahead to its future, still has no idea what to do about it.

I had a conversation with Tim Slekar on his program, “Busted Pencils,” about the Rightwing attack on teaching history honestly and accurately.

We had fun, and you might enjoy listening:

#BustEDPencils Pod.
It’s not an attack on history. It’s an attack on #democracy.

Guest: Diane Ravitch.

Listen here:

ProPublica wrote recently about a powerful organization of far-right conservatives that carefully avoids public scrutiny. They are wealthy, powerful, and networked, thanks to the Federalist Society and its mastermind Leonard Leo. Leo is the guy who picked judges for Trump and engineered the selection of Brett Kanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett.

Please read this article about Teneo, an organization with long tentacles and a goal of crushing liberal ideas, ideas that are central to our democracy.

A few tidbits:

ProPublica and Documented have obtained more than 50 hours of internal Teneo videos and hundreds of pages of documents that reveal the organization’s ambitious agenda, influential membership and burgeoning clout. We have also interviewed Teneo members and people familiar with the group’s activities. The videos, documents and interviews provide an unfiltered look at the lens through which the group views the power of the left — and how it plans to combat it.

In response to questions for this story, Leo said in a statement: “Teneo’s young membership proves that the conservative movement is poised to be even more talented, driven, and successful in the future. This is a group that knows how to build winning teams.”

The records show Teneo’s members have included a host of prominent names from the conservative vanguard, including such elected officials as U.S. Sens. J.D. Vance of Ohio and Missouri’s Josh Hawley, a co-founder of the group. Other members have included Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, now the fourth-ranking House Republican, as well as Nebraska’s attorney general and Virginia’s solicitor general. Three senior aides to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, are members. Another is the federal judge who struck down a Biden administration mask mandate. The heads of the Republican Attorneys General Association, Republican State Leadership Committee and Turning Point USA — all key cogs in the world of national conservative politics — have been listed as Teneo members…

Teneo co-founder Evan Baehr, a tech entrepreneur and veteran of conservative activism, said in a 2019 video for new members that Teneo had “many, many, many dozens” of members working in the Trump administration, including in the White House, State Department, Justice Department and Pentagon. “They’re everywhere….”

Soon after Leo took an interest in Teneo, the group’s finances soared. Annual revenue reached$2.3 million in 2020 and nearly $5 million in 2021, according to tax records. In 2021, the bulk of Teneo’s income — more than $3 million — came from one source: DonorsTrust, a clearinghouse for conservative, libertarian and other charitable gifts that masks the original source of the money. In 2020, the Leo-run group that received the Chicago business owner’s $1.6 billion donation gave $41 million to DonorsTrust, which had $1.5 billion in assets as of 2021.

Teneo’s other funders have included marquee conservative donors: hedge fund investor Paul Singer, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, the Charles Koch Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, and the DeVos family, according to Baehr.

As the group’s finances improved, its videos became much more professionally produced, and its website underwent a dramatic upgrade from previous iterations. All of this was part of what Baehr called “Teneo 2.0,” a major leap forward for the group, driven in part by Leo’s guidance and involvement….

Many of the connections happen at Teneo’s annual retreat, which brings together hundreds of members and their spouses, plus allies including politicians like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and DeSantis as well as business leaders and prominent academics. Speakers at past Teneo retreats have included luminaries spanning politics, culture, business and the law: New York Times columnist David Brooks, federal judge Trevor McFadden, Blackwater founder Erik Prince, “Woke, Inc.” author and 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, former Trump cabinet official and 2024 presidential hopeful Nikki Haley, ultrawealthy donors and activists Dick and Betsy DeVos, and Chick-fil-A board chair Dan Cathy.

These are the only posts today. Read them. Think about it. What did you learn? What should we do? None of us is a billionaire. How can we save our democracy?

Organize. Be informed. Vote.

Jeff Yass is the richest man in Pennsylvania.

Jeff Yass is a billionaire. The Bloomberg Billionaire Index says he has $33 billion.

Jeff Yass created a Wall Street firm with partners called the Susquehanna International Group.

Jeff Yass is a huge supporter of charter schools. He created the annual Yass Prize, which is administered by the anti-public school organization called “The Center for Education Reform.” CER supports every kind of choice (charters, vouchers, online charters, for-profit charters, homeschooling) while vehemently denouncing public schools. CER is opposed to any regulation or accountability of “choice” schools. CER distributes millions in prizes to charter schools, thanks to the Yass family.

ProPublica says there’s something else you don’t know about Jeff Yass.

He funds Republican candidates and election deniers.

He opposes abortion.

He funds candidates who oppose critical race theory.

His top priority is to defund public schools.

According to ProPublica:

The firm he and his friends founded, Susquehanna International Group, is a sprawling global company that makes billions of dollars. Yass and his team used their numerical expertise to make rapid-fire computer-driven trades in options and other securities, eventually becoming a giant middleman in the markets for stocks and other securities. If you have bought stock or options on an app like Robinhood or E-Trade, there’s a good chance you traded with Susquehanna without knowing it. Today, Yass, 63, is one of the richest and most powerful financiers in the country.

But one crucial aspect of his ascent to stratospheric wealth has transpired out of public view. Using the same prowess that he’s applied to race tracks and options markets, Yass has taken aim at another target: his tax bill.

There, too, the winnings have been immense: at least $1 billion in tax savings over six recent years, according to ProPublica’s analysis of a trove of IRS data. During that time, Yass paid an average federal income tax rate of just 19%, far below that of comparable Wall Street traders.

Yass has devised trading strategies that reduce his tax burden but push legal boundaries. He has repeatedly drawn IRS audits, yet has continued to test the limits. Susquehanna has often gone to court to fight the government, with one multiyear audit battle ending in a costly defeat. The firm has maintained in court filings that it complied with the law.

Yass’ low rate is particularly notable because Susquehanna, by its own description, specializes in short-term trading. Money made from such rapid trades is typically taxed at rates around 40%.

In recent years, however, Yass’ annual income has, with uncanny consistency, been made up almost entirely of income taxed at the roughly 20% rate reserved for longer-term investments.

Congress long ago tried to stamp out widely used techniques that seek to transform profits taxed at the high rate into profits taxed at the low rate. But Yass and his colleagues have managed to avoid higher taxes anyway.

The tax savings have contributed to an explosion in wealth for Yass, who has increasingly poured that fortune into candidates and causes on the political right. He has spent more than $100 million on election campaigns in recent years. The money has gone to everything from anti-tax advocacy and charter schools to campaigns against so-called critical race theory and for candidates who falsely say the 2020 election was stolen and seek to ban abortion.

Grassroots groups, led by the Working Families Party, held a protest in front of his offices to protest his funding of groups that undermine democracy.

The LittleSis Project, which tracks the connections among rightwing funders and organizations, has more information about Yass. He is the money man behind Pennsylvania’s rightwing political machine. His top priority is school privatization. He wants to dismantle public schools. Read the article.

Yass’s influence over state politics doesn’t stop after elections are over. His money gets distributed throughout the right-wing network in the state and influences legislation and the conservative agenda year round. The right-wing organizations that spend Yass’s money consistently and successfully lobby to cut corporate taxes, bust unions, block climate solutions, ban abortion, target trans youth, and prevent what the right calls “critical race theory” from being taught in schools.

The Pennsylvania Capital Star worries about what Yass is doing to our democracy.

Yass is a threat to democracy in Pennsylvania. Our organizations were in the trenches during the 2020 election organizing on the frontline against MAGA Republicans, white nationalists, and conspiracy-riddled extremists. Yass was funding them. Despite Yass trying to back away from those associations publicly and in the press, this year he quietly continued to fund those same organizations like the Club for Growth – a right-wing front group that backed nearly 50 election deniers across the country.

What a guy. Does Senator Corey Booker know? Does Senator Michael Bennett know? Does Representative Hakeem Jeffries know? Does the Center for American Progress know?

Jeff Yass’s enthusiastic support of charter schools is another reason why charter schools should not get federal funding. Why should the US Department of Education spend $440 million a year to open new charter schools (half of which never open), when Jeff Yass and his partners could easily foot the bill, along with other billionaires like the Waltons, Michael Bloomberg, Charles Koch, and Betsy DeVos?

For billionaires like Yass, that amount is pocket change. Or, as the saying goes, chump change.

Heather Cox Richardson writes in her blog “Letters from an American” about the Republican Right’s fascination with the authoritarian leader of Hungary, Viktor Orbán. Orbán is a critic of liberal democracy and a great admirer of Trump. It’s scary.

She writes:

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last weekend, Daily Wire host Michael Knowles said that “for the good of society…transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely—the whole preposterous ideology, at every level.” He worded his statement in such a way that it would inevitably create outrage that he could then angrily refute by insisting that “eradicating transgenderism” was not the same thing as eradicating transgender people. This sort of word game is a well-known right-wing tactic for garnering media attention.

Make no mistake: this attack on transgender people represents a deadly attack on the fundamental principle of American democracy, the idea that all people are created equal.

CPAC and its representatives have become increasingly close to Hungarian president Victor Orbán as he has asserted autocratic power in his own country. Orbán has explicitly rejected the liberal democracy that his country used to enjoy, saying that its emphasis on multiculturalism weakens national cultures while its insistence on human equality undermines traditional society by recognizing that women and LGBTQ people have the same rights as straight white men. The age of liberal democracy is over, he says, and a new age has begun.

In place of equality, Orbán advocates what he calls “illiberal democracy” or “Christian democracy.” “Christian democracy is, by definition, not liberal,” he said in July 2018; “it is, if you like, illiberal. And we can specifically say this in connection with a few important issues—say, three great issues. Liberal democracy is in favor of multiculturalism, while Christian democracy gives priority to Christian culture; this is an illiberal concept. Liberal democracy is pro-immigration, while Christian democracy is anti-immigration; this is again a genuinely illiberal concept. And liberal democracy sides with adaptable family models, while Christian democracy rests on the foundations of the Christian family model; once more, this is an illiberal concept.”

Orbán has focused on LBGTQ rights as a danger to “Western civilization.” Arguing the need to protect children, his party has made it impossible for transgender people to change their gender identification on legal documents and made it illegal to share with minors any content that can be interpreted as promoting an LBGTQ lifestyle. After Orbán put allies in charge of Hungarian universities, his government banned public funding for gender studies courses. According to his chief of staff: “The Hungarian government is of the clear view that people are born either men or women.”

As the opening speaker at CPAC in Texas last August, Orbán called for the establishment of a global right wing to continue to work together to destroy liberal democracy and establish Christian democracy.

The American right wing has heard the call, openly embracing Orbán’s principles. Vox senior correspondent Zack Beauchamp, who is a crackerjack analyst of right-wing political ideology both in the U.S. and abroad, noted in 2021 the rise of right-wing ideologues who saw themselves as the vanguard of a “post-liberal order.”

Beauchamp explained that these ideologues reject American democracy. They argue that “religious liberty, limited government, ‘the inviolability of private institutions (e.g., corporations),’ academic freedom, constitutional originalism, free markets, and free speech”—all central tenets of democracy—have created “liberal totalitarianism” that has destroyed “all institutions that were originally responsible for fostering human virtue: family, ennobling friendship, community, university, polity, church.”

They see the government institutions that defend these democratic tenets as part of a totalitarian system designed to destroy national virtue. If this were truly the case (it is not), it would be an act of heroism to try to destroy those systems altogether. Right-wing attacks on the FBI, the Department of Justice, and even the government itself over the arrest of January 6th rioters who they insist were peaceful tourists shore up the idea that the FBI and DOJ are part of a government determined to crush Trump supporters. That ideology invites those who believe it to continue to attack our government.

Knowles’s statement last week that transgenderism must be eradicated from public life was not simply an attack on transgender individuals, although it was certainly that. Tapping into the anti-LGBTQ sentiment that Orbán and those like him have used to win voters, the statement was a crucial salvo in the attempt to destroy American democracy and replace it with Christian nationalism.

But there is a very simple answer to the radical right’s attack on LGBTQ people that also answers their rejection of democracy. It is an answer that history has proved again and again.

Once you give up the principle of equality, you have given up the whole game. You have admitted the principle that people are unequal, and that some people are better than others. Once you have replaced the principle of equality with the idea that humans are unequal, you have stamped your approval on the idea of rulers and subjects. At that point, all you can do is to hope that no one in power decides that you belong in the lesser group.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln, then a candidate for the Senate, warned that arguments limiting American equality to white men and excluding black Americans were the same arguments “that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world…. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent.”

Either people—men, in his day—were equal, or they were not. Lincoln went on: “I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it…where will it stop?”

Dana Milbank, a fabulous columnist at The Washington Post, reviews Kevin McCarthy’s long record of claiming that he didn’t know, he didn’t see it, he didn’t hear it, he has no opinion.

After McCarthy gave 40,000 hours of security video from January 6, 2021, to Tucker Carlson, he was surprised to hear that Tucker Carlson took clips to “prove” that nothing much happened that day. He was confused. I’m confused too as I thought that Carlson had long advanced the claim that the insurrection and violence that we saw that day was actually a “false flag” operation, manipulated by the FBI, Antifa, and Black Lives Matter. All along, Carlson has pandered to his viewers by insisting that Trump supporters had nothing to do with the turmoil and desecration of the nation’s Capitol.

Just another day at the Capitol is the new line at FOX. If you thought otherwise, your eyes deceived you. The insurrectionists were actually peaceful protestors, now victims and patriots.

This new line was too much for many of the Republicans who were there that day and ran for their lives.

Milbank wrote:

Not since the Know-Nothing Party disappeared in the 1850s has a public figure boasted about his ignorance with as much gusto as Kevin McCarthy does.

It doesn’t seem to matter what you ask the speaker of the House. He hasn’t read it, seen it or heard about it.

The explosive documents from the Dominion case showing Fox News hosts privately said Donald Trump’s election lies were hokum but promoted the lies on air anyway?

“I didn’t read all that. I didn’t see all that,” McCarthy told The Post.

The way Fox News’s Tucker Carlson (predictably) manipulated the Jan. 6, 2021, security footage McCarthy (foolishly) gave the propagandist, giving the false appearance that the bloody insurrection was “mostly peaceful”?

“I didn’t see what was aired,” McCarthy asserted.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, in an implicit rebuke of McCarthy, blasting the Carlson propaganda while holding up a statement from the Capitol Police chief denouncing Fox News’s “outrageous,” “false” and “offensive” portrayal of the insurrection?

You guessed it. McCarthy “didn’t see” McConnell do that.

The benighted McCarthy has been amassing this impressive body of obtuseness for some time. If ignorance is bliss, the California Republican has been in nirvana for years now.

How about Trump’s speech on the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021, provoking the sacking of the Capitol?

“I didn’t watch it,” McCarthy said.

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) calling the insurrectionists’ rampage a “normal tourist visit”?

“I don’t know what Congressman Clyde said,” quoth McCarthy, and “I didn’t see it.

When his own designated negotiator reached a bipartisan agreement to form a commission to probe the Jan. 6 attack (a commission McCarthy ultimately killed)?

I haven’t read through it.”

Trump, in a recorded phone call, demanding Georgia’s secretary of state “find” enough votes to overturn the election results?

I have to hear it first.”

Trump telling four congresswomen of color (three of them U.S.-born) to “go back” where they came from, prompting chants of “send her back” among his rallygoers?

I didn’t get to see the rally.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) harassing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) with shouts and slander just off the House floor?

I didn’t see that. I don’t know what happened.”

Trump’s ludicrous allegation that former GOP congressman and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough may have murdered a staffer?

“I don’t quite know about the subject itself. I don’t know this subject well.”

Trump’s scandalous claim that Democrats inflated the death toll from a hurricane in Puerto Rico to “make me look as bad as possible”?

“I haven’t read it yet,” McCarthy pleaded.

At best, McCarthy’s willful cluelessness is just a dodge. But this week, McCarthy’s see-no-evil approach was just plain evil.

After Carlson aired his phony portrayal of the insurrection, several Republicans finally spoke up about Fox News’s lies: “Inexcusable and bull—-” (Sen. Thom Tillis, N.C.), “whitewashing” (Sen. Lindsey Graham, S.C.), “dangerous and disgusting” (Sen. Mitt Romney, Utah).

Then there was McCarthy, questioned by reporters just outside the speaker’s office, which the supposedly “peaceful” insurrectionists had ransacked that terrible day.

“Do you regret giving him this footage so he could whitewash the events of that day?” asked CNN’s Manu Raju.

“No,” McCarthy replied, adding some gibberish about “transparency” (which is the very opposite of Carlson’s fabrication).

“Do you agree with his portrayal of what happened that day?” Raju pressed.

“Look,” McCarthy said. “Each person can come up with their own conclusion.”

Talk about dangerous and disgusting. Given a choice between fact and fiction, between law and anarchy, between democracy and thuggery, the speaker of the House proclaimed his agnosticism. In doing so, he threw the power of the speakership behind the insurrectionists and against the constitutional order he swore to uphold. McCarthy’s leadership team even endorsed Carlson’s fakery, promoting a link to the segment from the House GOP conference’s official Twitter account with four alarm emojis and a “MUST WATCH” recommendation.

Of course, were McCarthy to turn against Fox News, the speaker, weakened by the promises he made to secure the speakership, would be swiftly replaced by the likes of GOP caucus chair Elise Stefanik of New York (who claimed Carlson’s propaganda “demolished” the “Democrats’ dishonest narrative” about Jan. 6), or Rep. Tom Massie (R-Ky.), who went on Carlson’s show to congratulate him on his deception.

So McCarthy sells out democracy to preserve his title. He gave the security footage to Carlson in the first place because he promised that to the far-right Republicans denying him the speakership during his 15-ballot quinceañera in January.

Even Fox Corp.’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, has expressed some regret over the network’s role in perpetrating Trump’s “big lie,” saying it should have been “stronger in denouncing it.” The internal documents exposed in the Dominion lawsuit show beyond any doubt that Fox News hosts knew the truth about the 2020 election and yet encouraged viewers night after night to believe Trump’s lies.

Those hosts continue to deceive and manipulate viewers nightly. The same day Carlson aired his Jan. 6 fabrication, Trump said on Sean Hannity’s radio show that he would have been willing to let Vladimir Putin “take over” parts of Ukraine. But when Hannity played excerpts of the interview on Fox News, the network edited out Trump’s proposed surrender.

The latest Fox News lies have proven too much for the Senate GOP leader. Though McConnell has enabled Trump at crucial moments, he said at a news conference this week that it was “a mistake” for Fox News to portray the insurrection “in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here in the Capitol thinks.”

Yet McCarthy continues to put himself before his country. In just two months on the job, McCarthy “already … has done more than any party leader in Congress to enable the spread of Donald Trump’s Big Lie,” the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, charged on the Senate floor this week. The speaker, he said, “has made our democracy weaker.”

And McCarthy isn’t finished with his depredations. Greene, given a position of influence and respectability by the speaker, is launching a probe, complete with a field trip to a D.C. jail, into the “inhumane treatment” allegedly suffered by the accused insurrectionists awaiting trial. McCarthy has also given the green light to a new probe designed to challenge the conclusions of the Jan. 6 committee.

The man who will lead that panel, Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), declared this week that Americans “didn’t see the other side” of the insurrection. “I think the truth is going to be somewhere between the violent videos and the supposedly peaceful actions there,” he said.

No. The only truth is that Jan. 6 was a violent attack on the seat of American democracy. There was nothing peaceful about an armed insurrection attempting to overturn an election — even if some people there that day weren’t themselves violent.

But that truth — and this democracy — are threatened by a dangerously weak speaker of the House, who has concluded that the only way to preserve his own power is to support Fox News in its sabotage of this country.

The Arizona Republic reported that Republican legislators are focused on imposing new demands on the public schools, reflecting the rightwing cultural agenda. This is somewhat ironic since they previously used their power, when the Governor was Republican, to create a universal voucher program so that students can use public money to attend private schools that are entirely unregulated by the state.

Arizona lawmakers are seeking to reach deep into classroom operations with proposals to require the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, to designate which students can use which bathrooms and, once again, to limit how race and ethnicity are taught.

Those are in addition to proposals that would require gun safety training at schools and mandate that instructional materials and teacher lesson plans get posted online. Another bill would have the state Department of Education create a list of books banned from classroom use.

To some, these bills, among others, are a replay of recent legislative sessions, where the public school system became the turf for battles over hot-button cultural issues.

That ignores the changed political reality at the Capitol, with the arrival of a Democratic governor after more than a decade of unified GOP control, said Marisol Garcia, president of the Arizona Education Association.

If the GOP actually cares about these issues, why don’t they put the same requirements on voucher schools? It appears that if you want to escape the GOP mandates, the way to do it to open a private school, where you are free to teach about race and gender, free of testing, free of any accountability.

The Arkansas Legislature, controlled by Republicans, passed Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders “education” bill, dubbed LEARNS, which authorizes vouchers. The first two hearings were held during school hours. The bill sailed through the legislature. The third hearing, where students were able to attend, was limited to a six-page amendment.

The students wanted to oppose the bill, but State Senator Jane English tried to shut them down, interrupting them, cutting them off.

Students found clever ways to work around her brusque treatment but their objections were ignored.

“I’m sorry, you just don’t get to talk on the bill,” English told the students. “If you want to talk on this amendment, specifically things that are in this amendment, you’re free to do that, but you cannot speak on the bill….”

“I’d like to speak on the amendments, and how they do not go far enough to tear down and decimate this bill,” said student Ethan Walker, over repeated interruptions by English. “These petty little wording rearrangements don’t do anything to address how bad this bill actually is….”

Another student, sophomore Rhone Kuta, worked around English’s objections by referencing a specific line on a specific page, as the Republican chair repeatedly interrupted him.

“Where it deletes ‘and’ and substitutes ‘or,’ the reasons I believe this amendment is bad is, this should actually say we are deleting the voucher program on section 63 because the voucher program absolutely reallocates resources from the working class Americans and Arkansans and reallocates it to the upper class,” Kuta said.

The students showed themselves to be far more intelligent than their elected officials. They were treated shamefully. The bill was a fair accompli.

If you do only one thing today at my request, please watch the video in the Alternet post, where you will see an adult bullying high school students.