Archives for category: Trump

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post compares the anti-vaxxers (those who fight for the right to get sick and die) to ‘60s radicals in this article.

The times, they are a-changin’.

Last month, when antiabortion activists and anti-vaccine protesters staged mass protests in the capital, speakers at both rallies quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “Today, we are going to reclaim Martin’s dream!” the first speaker at the anti-vaccine rally, Kevin Jenkins, declared from the Lincoln Memorial, the site of King’s immortal speech. “Are we ready to reclaim the dream?”
“Yeah!” shouted back the overwhelmingly White crowd.

“Martin is alive!” Jenkins told them. “We are here today fighting for the same thing he fought for.”
The crowd rejoiced at this discovery that King, like them, had battled for the right to take deworming medication instead of highly effective vaccines.
We shall overcome … mask mandates?

At the same time, Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been making a strong bid to become the Hanoi Jane of the Ukraine conflict, calling for kumbaya with Russia. Night after night, he has been taking Vladimir Putin’s side and parroting Kremlin propaganda in the standoff against NATO and the United States. (Poor Putin’s just trying “to keep his western borders secure.”)

Carlson’s flower-child viewers have been calling lawmakers with a message that would have enraged Republicans just a few years ago: Give appeasement a chance.

Now, truckers are staging mass civil disobedience to occupy Ottawa and shut down border crossings with the United States in protest of public health rules. And Republican officials say: Right on, man.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) hailed the truckers as modern-day Freedom Riders, “heroes” who are “marching for your freedom and for my freedom,” while Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said they want only “what God gave them: freedom.”

“Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal. “Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates.”

Stick it to the man — by, um, refusing to take a jab.
Just how far will this new New Right go in flattering the New Left with imitation? Well, they aren’t burning bras and draft cards — but they have been known to burn face masks. As Politico’s Jack Shafer argued last week, the truckers’ takeover of Ottawa streets is an “occupation”-style protest popularized by the left with 1930s labor sit-ins, the 1968 student occupation of the Columbia University president’s office and the Occupy Wall Street movement of about a decade ago.

“The American Right Hits Its Hippie Phase” was the headline atop a July article in National Review by Kevin D. Williamson. Like the leftist radicals of the 1960s, he wrote, “the contemporary Right also hates the government, the business establishment, much of organized religion, compromise, etc., but instead of LSD and Transcendental Meditation it has hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin, absurd mask politics, election trutherism, anti-vaccine activism, 1,001 conspiracy theories, and QAnon.”

Turn on, tune in — and drop your sense of irony.
Covering the hypocrisy of the Trump right is a full-time beat these days. “Law and order” Republicans now embrace insurrectionists. Those who decried “cancel culture” now ban books and history lessons. Conservatives who supported “tort reform” now enshrine the rights of private citizens to sue one another. A party that welcomed libertarians now has officials incentivizing people to report on their neighbors. Onetime Cold Warriors now sympathize with Putin.

The inconsistency over street protests is particularly black and white.

When a convoy of White people in trucks promotes chaos and lawlessness on the northern border, Republican officials call them heroes, and former president Donald Trump invites them to the United States. When a caravan of Brown people on foot posed a remote chance of chaos and lawlessness on the southern border in 2018, Trump called in the military to protect against the “MANY CRIMINALS.”

When (predominantly White) crowds protest for the right to ignore public health rules in mostly peaceful but occasionally violent and highly disruptive actions, Republican officials hail the glory of civil disobedience. When (heavily Black) crowds protested for racial justice in mostly peaceful but occasionally violent and highly disruptive actions, Trump called them “rioters, looters and anarchists” not to mention “terrorists,” “arsonists” and “violent mobs.”

“I’m old enough to remember when Black Lives Matter shut down highways and the right responded with laws making it easier to run protesters over — and get away with it!” conservative Matt Lewis wrote in the Daily Beast. It’s true: Last year, Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a law granting civil immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a street. Texas, Oklahoma and other states enacted similar laws.

Now, Republican officials are lending rhetorical support and financial protection to the White men blocking the streets of Ottawa? This isn’t “reclaiming the dream.” It’s a bad acid trip.

Remember when Trump bragged about his great skills as a deal maker? Emremember when he ridiculed everyone else who preceded him? Guess what? He was a conman on that claim like so many others, according to Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times.

The final tally is in, and the numbers are grim: Donald Trump’s huge trade deal with China — the deal he trumpeted as a “transformative” victory for the U.S. — turned out to be a massive bust.

The deal, it may be remembered, required China to make $200 billion in new purchasesof agricultural and manufactured goods, services and crude oil and other energy.

The idea floated by Trump was that the deal would end the trade war he had started with China, while producing a massive infusion of new income for American manufacturers and growers.

Today the only undisputed ‘historical’ aspect of that agreement is its failure.

None of those outcomes happened. Although the trade war stopped escalating, most of the tariffs Trump had imposed on Chinese goods remained in place, as did retaliatory tariffs China imposed.

More to the point, “China bought none of the additional $200 billion of exports Trump’s deal had promised.”

That’s the finding of a study just published by Chad P. Bown of the Peterson Institute of International Economics, who has assiduously tracked China trade since the deal was reached.

Heather Cox Richardson is a historian who blogs about current events from an historical perspective. Her blog is called “Letters from an American.”

She wrote:

February 14, 2022

Heather Cox Richardson

It appears there was a reason for the former president’s unhinged rant of yesterday suggesting that members of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign had spied on him and that “in a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death.”

Trump is likely unhappy because of a letter his accountants, the firm Mazars, sent to the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer on February 9. That letter came to light today when New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating the finances of the Trump Organization, filed new court documents to explain why she wanted to question Trump and his adult children under oath.

The Mazars letter told the Trump organization that Trump’s financial statements from years ending June 2011 through June 2020 could not be relied upon to be accurate, and that it should tell anyone relying on those documents—banks, for example—that they were not reliable. It went on to say there was now a “non-waivable conflict of interest” with the Trump Organization that meant that Mazars was “not able to provide new work product” for the organization.

Lawyer George Conway interpreted the letter for non-lawyers. He tweeted:

“‘decision regarding the financial…statements’=they are false because you lied

‘totality of the circumstances’=the D.A. is serious

‘non-waivable conflict of interest’=we are now on team D.A.

‘not able to provide new work product’=sorry we’re not going to jail for you”

That is, it appears that Mazars is now working with James’s office. Last month, James’s office alleged that there is “significant” evidence that the Trump Organization manipulated asset valuations to obtain loans and avoid taxes. Now Trump’s accountants appear to be working with her office and have said that Trump’s past ten years of financial statements “should not be relied upon.”

This will probably be a problem for the banks that have loaned money to Trump. Their officers have likely relied on the accuracy of the information Trump provided, and according to lawyer Tristan Snell, the lenders could now call in loans early or otherwise change the terms of their agreements.

The Trump Organization jumped on the statements in the Mazars letter that “we have not concluded that the various financial statements, as a whole, contain material discrepancies,” and that “Mazars performed its work in accordance with professional standards” to claim that it is exonerated from any wrongdoing. “This confirmation,” it wrote, “effectively renders the investigations by the DA and AG moot.”

NBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner tweeted: “Trump Org[anization] tries to spin it as a complete exoneration (& G[eorge] Orwell blushes).” Orwell was famous for identifying “doublespeak,” language that reverses the meaning of words.

But while the fear of what it means for him that his accountant has dropped him might have inspired Trump’s rants about executing Hillary, the same does not hold for Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), who on Sunday’s Fox & Friends broadcast agreed with Trump that Clinton’s aides had spied on him, and implied the punishment for such alleged espionage should be death.

The normalization of violence as part of the mainstream Republican Party is cause for concern.

Katherine Stewart has been writing for years about Christian nationalism and its pernicious influence on American society, especially public schools. Her latest book is The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous World of Religious Nationalists.

She wrote this article about the January 6 insurrection for The New York Times:

The most serious attempt to overthrow the American constitutional system since the Civil War would not have been feasible without the influence of America’s Christian nationalist movement. One year later, the movement seems to have learned a lesson: If it tries harder next time, it may well succeed in making the promise of American democracy a relic of the past.

Christian nationalist symbolism was all over the events of Jan. 6, as observers have pointed out. But the movement’s contribution to the effort to overturn the 2020 election and install an unelected president goes much deeper than the activities of a few of its representatives on the day that marks the unsuccessful end (or at least a temporary setback) of an attempted coup.

A critical precondition for Donald Trump’s attempt to retain the presidency against the will of the people was the cultivation of a substantial population of voters prepared to believe his fraudulent claim that the election was stolen — a line of argument Mr. Trump began preparing well before the election, at the first presidential debate.

The role of social and right-wing media in priming the base for the claim that the election was fraudulent is by now well understood. The role of the faith-based messaging sphere is less well appreciated. Pastors, congregations and the religious media are among the most trusted sources of information for many voters. Christian nationalist leaders have established richly funded national organizations and initiatives to exploit this fact. The repeated message that they sought to deliver through these channels is that outside sources of information are simply not credible. The creation of an information bubble, impervious to correction, was the first prerequisite of Mr. Trump’s claim.

The coup attempt also would not have been possible without the unshakable sense of persecution that movement leaders have cultivated among the same base of voters. Christian nationalism today begins with the conviction that conservative Christians are the most oppressed group in American society. Among leaders of the movement, it is a matter of routine to hear talk that they are engaged in a “battle against tyranny,” and that the Bible may soon be outlawed.

A final precondition for the coup attempt was the belief, among the target population, that the legitimacy of the United States government derives from its commitment to a particular religious and cultural heritage, and not from its democratic form. It is astonishing to many that the leaders of the Jan. 6 attack on the constitutional electoral process styled themselves as “patriots.” But it makes a glimmer of sense once you understand that their allegiance is to a belief in blood, earth and religion, rather than to the mere idea of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Given the movement’s role in laying the groundwork for the coup attempt, its leaders faced a quandary when Mr. Trump began to push his repeatedly disproven claims — and that quandary turned into a test of character on Jan. 6. Would they go along with an attempt to overthrow America’s democratic system?

Some attempted to rewrite the facts about Jan. 6. The former Republican Representative Michele Bachmann suggested the riot was the work of “paid rabble rousers,” while the activist and author Lance Wallnau, who has praised Mr. Trump as “God’s chaos candidate,” blamed “the local antifa mob.” Many leaders, like Charlie Kirk, appeared to endorse Mr. Trump’s claims about a fraudulent election. Others, like Michael Farris, president and chief executive of the religious right legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, provided indirect but no less valuable support by concern-trolling about supposed “constitutional irregularities” in battleground states.

None appeared willing to condemn Mr. Trump for organizing an attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. On the contrary, the Rev. Franklin Graham, writing on Facebook, condemned “these ten” from Mr. Trump’s “own party” who voted to impeach him and mused, “It makes you wonder what the thirty pieces of silver were that Speaker Pelosi promised for this betrayal.”

At Christian nationalist conferences I have been reporting on, I have heard speakers go out of their way to defend and even lionize the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. At the Road to Majority conference, which was held in Central Florida in June 2021, the author and radio host Eric Metaxas said, “The reason I think we are being so persecuted, why the Jan. 6 folks are being persecuted, when you’re over the target like that, oh my.” At that same conference, the political commentator Dinesh D’Souza, in conversation with the religious right strategist Ralph Reed, said, “The people who are really getting shafted right now are the Jan. 6 protesters,” before adding, “We won’t defend our guys even when they’re good guys.” Mr. Reed nodded in response and replied, “I think Donald Trump taught our movement a lot.”

Movement leaders now appear to be working to prime the base for the next attempt to subvert the electoral process. At dozens of conservative churches in swing states this past year, groups of pastors were treated to presentations by an initiative called Faith Wins. Featuring speakers like David Barton, a key figure in the fabrication of Christian nationalist myths about history, and led by Chad Connelly, a Republican political veteran, Faith Wins serves up elections skepticism while demanding that pastors mobilize their flocks to vote “biblical” values. “Every pastor you know needs to make sure 100 percent of the people in their pews are voting, and voting biblical values,” Mr. Connelly told the assembled pastors at a Faith Wins event in Chantilly, Va. in September.

“The church is not a cruise ship, the church is a battleship,” added Byron Foxx, an evangelist touring with Faith Wins. The Faith Wins team also had at its side Hogan Gidley, a deputy press secretary in the Trump White House, who now runs the Center for Election Integrity, an initiative of the America First Policy Institute, a group led in part by former members of the Trump administration. Mr. Gidley informed the gathering that his group is “nonpartisan” — and then went on to mention that in the last election cycle there were “A lot of rogue secretaries of state, a lot of rogue governors.”

He was presumably referring to Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state of Georgia who earned the ire of Trumpists by rebuffing the former president’s request to find him an additional 11,780 votes. “You saw the stuff in Arizona, you’re going to see more stuff in Wisconsin, these are significant issues, and we can’t be dismissed out of hand anymore, the facts are too glaring,” Mr. Gidley said. In fact, the Republican-backed audit of votes in Arizona’s largest county confirmed that President Biden won Arizona by more votes than previously thought. But the persecution narrative is too politically useful to discard simply because it’s not true.

Even as movement leaders are preparing for a possible restoration of a Trumpist regime — a period they continue to regard as a golden age in retrospect — they are advancing in parallel on closely related fronts. Among the most important of these has to do with public education.

In the panic arising out of the claim that America’s schools are indoctrinating young children in critical race theory, or C.R.T., it isn’t hard to detect the ritualized workings of the same information bubble, persecution complex and sense of entitlement that powered the coup attempt. Whatever you make of the new efforts in state legislatures to impose new “anti-C.R.T.” restrictions on speech and teaching in public schools, the more important consequence is to extend the religious right’s longstanding program to undermine confidence in public education, an effort that religious right leaders see as essential both for the movement’s long-term funding prospects and for its antidemocratic agenda.

Opposition to public education is part of the DNA of America’s religious right. The movement came together in the 1970s not solely around abortion politics, as later mythmakers would have it, but around the outrage of the I.R.S. threatening to take away the tax-exempt status of church-led “segregation academies.” In 1979, Jerry Falwell said he hoped to see the day when there wouldn’t be “any public schools — the churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them.”

Today, movement leaders have their eye on the approximately $700 billion that federal, state, and local governments spend yearly on education. The case of Carson v. Makin, which is before the Supreme Court this term and involves a challenge, in Maine, to prohibitions on using state tuition aid to attend religious schools, could force taxpayers to fund sectarian schools no matter how discriminatory their policies or fanatical their teachings. The endgame is to get a chunk of this money with the help either of state legislatures or the Supreme Court, which in its current configuration might well be convinced that religious schools have a right to taxpayer funds.

This longstanding anti-public school agenda is the driving force behind the movement’s effort to orchestrate the anti-C.R.T. campaign. The small explosions of hate detonating in public school boards across the nation are not entirely coming from the grass roots up. The Family Research Council, a Washington, D.C.-based Christian right policy group, recently held an online School Board Boot Camp, a four-hour training session providing instruction on how to run for school boards and against C.R.T. and to recruit others to do so. The Bradley Foundation, Heritage Action for America, and The Manhattan Institute are among those providing support for groups on the forefront of the latest public school culture wars.

A decade ago, the radical aims at the ideological core of the Christian nationalist movement were there to see for anybody who looked. Not many bothered to look, and those who did were often dismissed as alarmist. More important, most Republican Party leaders at the time distanced themselves from theocratic extremists. They avoided the rhetoric of Seven Mountains dominionism, an ideology that calls explicitly for the domination of the seven “peaks” of modern civilization (including government and education) by Christians of the correct, supposedly biblical variety.

What a difference a decade makes. National organizations like the Faith & Freedom Coalition and the Ziklag Group, which bring together prominent Republican leaders with donors and religious right activists, feature “Seven Mountains” workshops and panels at their gatherings. Nationalist leaders and their political dependents in the Republican Party now state quite openly what before they whispered to one another over their prayer breakfasts. Whether the public will take notice remains to be seen.

Charlie Kirk is a pro-Trump activist with a huge following and an organization called “Turning Points USA.” He plans to open a chain of private schools to teach America-First ideology. This is a frightening turn of events. Partisan schools that indoctrinate students.

His plans were temporarily stymied when one of his key contractors backed out after learning that he was the client. But he is forging ahead, with a projection that he will collect $40 million annually in revenue by indoctrinating children into his world view.

Turning Point USA, the youth group led by pro-Trump activist Charlie Kirk, sought to entice investors last year with a new foray in the culture wars: an academy aimed at students failed by schools “poisoning our youth with anti-American ideas.”

A company in the early stages of realizing Kirk’s vision was anticipating millions in revenue from Turning Point Academy — part of an effort to market K-12 curriculum to families seeking an “America-first education.”

A document circulated within StrongMind, an education firm in Arizona where programmers had begun work on the project, noted plans to open the online academy by the fall of 2022 and assessed its “potential to generate over $40MM in gross revenue at full capacity (10K students).”

The firm’s plans disintegrated last week amid a Washington Post investigation and backlash from StrongMind employees concerned about the prospect of Turning Point-directed lesson plans. A key subcontractor tapped to prepare course material also backed out after learning that Kirk’s group was the ultimate client. The 28-year-old activist, who boasts 1.7 million Twitter followers, has championed former president Donald Trump’s baseless claim that widespread fraud cost him reelection and has scorned demands for racial justice that followed the 2020 murder of a Black man at the hands of the Minneapolis police, calling George Floyd a “scumbag.”

Kirk still intends to open the academy, though with other partners, said a spokesman, Andrew Kolvet, who called the agreement with StrongMind “nonbinding and nonexclusive.”

The early blueprint for Turning Point Academy — laid out in detail for the first time in documents and chat logs reviewed by The Post — points to the growing market for education and media serving families disgruntled with public schools, a flash point in many communities and a key issue on the campaign trail. The quest to raise revenue by allowing families to bypass traditional schools and buy curriculum more aligned with their political worldview worried some experts and watchdogs.

“This sounds like a very slippery slope,” said Carole Basile, dean of Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “It depends on what the curriculum actually looks like, but to move in the direction of letting partisan identity decide what is being taught, that feels new and worrying…

Turning Point USA, founded by Kirk in 2012, rose to prominence by maintaining a “professor watchlist” promising to unmask liberal instructors. The nonprofit prospered under Trump’s presidency, raising more than $80 million from undisclosed donors, according to its four most recent tax filings. It announced its intentions to launch an academy last year, in the midst of an inflamed debate over how much schools should focus on racial inequity.

Meeting in Salt Lake City, the Republican National Committee censured Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinziger for participating in the investigation of the events of January 6 and declared that the insurrectionists of January 6 were engaged in “legitimate political discourse.

Salt Lake City (CNN) – In a resolution formally censuring GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the Republican National Committee on Friday called the events surrounding the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol “legitimate political discourse.”

A copy of the resolution obtained by CNN claimed that the two lawmakers were “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse” from their perches on the House select committee, which has conducted interviews with close to 400 individuals — from members of former President Donald Trump’s inner circle to organizers who helped plan the “Stop the Steal” rally on the morning of January 6.

If violently breaking and entering the Capitol and assaulting law officers is “legitimate political discourse,” the Republican Party has truly drowned in Trump’s swamp of lies.

Jim Sleeper is a lecturer in political science at Yale and an author. He wrote the following post in 2018, when the horrors of the Trump regime were fresh. It is still relevant.

Donald J. Trump isn’t a Nazi, although his father came close. It’s true that historical analogies between Trump’s policies and Hitler’s are often facile, and sometimes dangerously misleading. But here’s one that I’m not inclined to shrug off.

During a long stay in Berlin in 2009, I went often to the Grunewald railway station to have my coffee. It’s a picturesque little station, built in the 1899, fronted by a cobblestone square and surrounded by splendid, well-preserved villas of that period.

It’s also the point from which more than 50,000 Berlin Jews were shipped to concentration camps, a few hundred a week, from 1942 to 1945. At the station’s Track 17, a steel strip along the platform edge records, in raised letters, each week’s shipment of several hundred “Juden” to Theresienstadt, Minsk, Riga, Kaunas, Łódź and, later, directly to Auschwitz and other death camps.

It’s hard for most Americans, especially those of us whose parents fought in World War II, to imagine that people who boarded the trains had no idea of what lay ahead. Yet, although Jews had been vilified and some attacked on the streets since 1938, some things remained unthinkable to Berlin Jews, most of whom had been middle-class, law-abiding citizens since birth. They showed up at station on the appointed dates, children and luggage in tow, for what they’d been told would be deportation to resettlement and work centers. At worst, they expected something like what Japanese-Americans experienced in internment camps on our own West Coast during the same war.

Under the watchful eyes of German police, they took their seats in ordinary passenger coaches for many of these departures. Only later, far beyond Berlin, were they transferred to box cars. Some time after that, postcards they hadn’t written were sent to relatives or acquaintances whom they’d listed with the authorities, assuring them that all was well in their new locations.

One day in April of 2009, as I sipped my coffee at the Grunewald station alongside retirees in their 70s and near a beer-garden where younger Germans also overlooked the square, three police cars swept in and officers leapt out, commanding us, “Don’t Move.” Then approximately 45 young military officers in formal parade dress descended from a tourist bus. Their uniforms were attractive, but alien—clearly not German. As they milled about, one of the men seated near me asked a police officer, “Was is das?”

“Israelischen,” he answered. They were Israeli army officers.

A silence descended upon the square like nothing I’d ever felt, so thick you could have cut it with a knife. Not another word was spoken, but I thought that I sensed three dimensions in the quiet all around me. The first was straight out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind: “They’re here. They’ve come.” The second was of admiration, or at least respect, for these vibrant young officers, stunning negations of the image of “Juden” that some of these older men must have remembered from their infancy. The third dimension, I sensed from the tightened body language around me, carried a flicker of resentment at having to be reminded, instead of being left to sip one’s coffee in peace.

A black car with tinted windows ascended a ramp toward Track 17. The Israeli officers fell into formation and followed. They’d come to lay a wreath on Track 17 on Yom Ha’Shoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day. Ironically, I hadn’t remembered the day myself.

I recount this now because some Americans remind me of Berlin Jews who didn’t think the unthinkable when they should have. After watching the Trump administration tear apart weeping parents and children—on the initiative of its senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, who’s Jewish—I’m thinking that although Trump has now found it politically expedient to halt the practice, more than a few of my fellow Americans were thinking, “Well, they deserve it, unlike me, a law-abiding citizen, and a veteran.”

Those Berlin Jews had been law-abiding citizens, too, at least until 1935, and more than a few were military veterans: Some 12,000 of the Jews who had served in the German military had fallen in World War I. In an irony beyond ironies, it was a Jewish lieutenant, Hugo Gutmann, who secured an Iron Cross, First Class, for a 29-year-old corporal under his command, Adolph Hitler.

We now know that German veterans of that war, Jews and non-Jews alike, were lied to and sent into harm’s way for no good reason. So were soldiers in the Nazi Wehrmacht 25 years later, whom my father, a corporal in the U.S. Army Combat Engineers, was ordered to supervise as prisoners as his 277th battalion clanked across northern Germany, because he spoke Yiddish, which is closely related to German.

He did it with mix of grief and revulsion. One day, when his battalion commandeered a Nazi-friendly baron’s estate in the town of Hohne, my father and others scouted a cottage behind the mansion and found a white-haired, well-spoken man who said he was a caretaker but whom the G.I.’s suspected was closer to the missing baron. As some of them prodded him down the hill toward the mansion, jabbing him roughly with their rifle barrels, my father said, suddenly, almost instinctively, “Cut that out.”

“Why? You should enjoy this Sleeper, you’re a Jew.”

“Cut it out, I said.” He had no illusions about Nazism. But he was a young American, emancipated from his ancestors’ European hell, and he thought he was fighting for a world better than one in which the tables of unjust power are merely turned, a world where justice—dare one say, “due process”?—is stronger than revenge.

Watching the fires that Trump is stoking week in, week out, I wonder when his supporters and enablers will see that the unthinkable could happen to them. I’m not inclined to alarmism, but what if, a couple of years from now, veterans who say they fought for an America where people are free to speak their minds decide to speak their own minds in ways Trump doesn’t like? How far might this admirer of Vladimir Putin go against Americans he thinks are his enemies? He’s already said that he wants to tighten libel laws; his ICE agents have developed arrest-and-detention tactics that a craven Congress would let him expand with the stroke of a pen; municipal police forces are more militarized than ever before.

Yes, historical analogies are risky. But, sipping coffee overlooking the Grunewald station’s charming cobblestone square, you’d never imagine what happened there if you hadn’t been told.

This is a remarkable document in the New York Times. It details the planning and coordination for violent action that began as soon as the results of the 2020 were clear. The Oathkeepers, extremists who refused to accept Trump’s loss, started their efforts to stockpile weapons and convene in D.C. on January 6. Of course, other groups and unaffiliated individuals joined them.

This account directly contradicts the claims by Trumpers that Antifa or the FBI were behind the riots or that the insurrectionists were peaceful protestors exercising their First Amendment rights.

Most of us are familiar with left wing sectarianism, the tendency to organize into a circular firing squad. In the 1930s, the U.S left splintered into Democrats, Socialists, Democratic Socialists, Communists, Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Trotskyites, Cannonites, Schachtmanites, Lovestoneites, and many other factions. Most of their infighting was over ideological and doctrinal differences.

Now, as the Washington Post reports, our zany rightwingers are splitting into warring factions, not so much over ideology (which in their case is either nonexistent or incoherent), but over power and greed.

The far-right firebrands and conspiracy theorists of the pro-Trump Internet have a new enemy: each other.

QAnon devotees are livid at their former hero Michael Flynn for accurately calling their jumbled credo “total nonsense.” Donald Trump superfans have voiced a sense of betrayal because the former president, booed for getting a coronavirus immunization booster, has become a “vaccine salesman.” And attorney Lin Wood seems mad at pretty much everyone, including former allies on the scattered “elite strike-force team” investigating nonexistent mass voter fraud.

After months of failing to disprove the reality of Trump’s 2020 presidential election loss, some of the Internet’s most popular right-wing provocateurs are grappling with the pressures of restless audiences, saturated markets, ongoing investigations and millions of dollars in legal bills.
The result is a chaotic melodrama, playing out via secretly recorded phone calls, personal attacks in podcasts, and a seemingly endless stream of posts on Twitter, Gab and Telegram calling their rivals Satanists, communists, pedophiles or “pay-triots” — money-grubbing grifters exploiting the cause.
The infighting reflects the diminishing financial rewards for the merchants of right-wing disinformation, whose battles center not on policy or doctrine but on the treasures of online fame: viewer donations and subscriptions; paid appearances at rallies and conferences; and crowds of followers to buy their books and merchandise.

But it also reflects a broader confusion in the year since QAnon’s faceless nonsense-peddler, Q, went mysteriously silent….

The cage match kicked off late in November when Kyle Rittenhouse, acquitted of all charges after fatally shooting two men at a protest last year in Kenosha, Wis., told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that his former attorneys, including Wood, had exploited his jail time to boost their fundraising “for their own benefit, not trying to set me free.”

Wood has since snapped back at his 18-year-old former client, wondering aloud in recent messages on the chat service Telegram: Could his life be “literally under the supervision and control of a ‘director?’ Whoever ‘Kyle’ is, pray for him.”

The feud carved a major rift between Wood and his former compatriots in the pro-Trump “stop the steal” campaign, with an embattled Wood attacking Rittenhouse supporters including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.); Flynn, a former national security adviser to Trump; Sidney Powell, Flynn’s attorney; and Patrick Byrne, the Overstock founder who became a major “stop the steal” financier….

Each faction has accused the opposing side of betraying the pro-Trump cause or misusing the millions of dollars in funds that have gone to groups such as Powell’s Defending the Republic.
Wood has posted recordings of his phone calls with Byrne, who can be heard saying that Wood is “a little kooky,” and Flynn, a QAnon icon who can be heard telling Wood that QAnon’s mix of extremist conspiracy theories was actually bogus “nonsense” or a “CIA operation.”

Beyond the infighting, both sides are also staring down the potential for major financial damage in court. A federal judge last month ordered Wood and Powell to pay roughly $175,000 in legal fees for their “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” in suing to overturn the 2020 presidential election. And Powell and others face potentially billions of dollars in damages as a result of defamation lawsuits filed by Dominion Voting Systems, which they falsely accused of helping to rig the 2020 race.

To help cover their legal bills, the factions have set up online merchandise shops targeting their most loyal followers. Fans of Powell’s bogus conspiracy theory can, for instance, buy a four-pack set of “Release the Kraken: Defending the Republic” drink tumblers from her website for $80. On Flynn’s newly launched website, fans can buy “General Flynn: #FightLikeAFlynn” women’s racerback tank tops for $30. And Wood’s online store sells $64.99 “#FightBack” unisex hoodies; the fleece, a listing says, feels like “wearing a soft, fluffy cloud.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. The Trump minions are showing their true colors as a clown car.

Alexandra Petri writes humor columns about the news for The Washington Post. She wrote about Ted Cruz’s abject apology on the Tucker Carlson Show for calling the 1/6 insurrectionists a bad name. He called them terrorists, as he had done many times. Uh-oh. The Trump Party insists that the crowd who entered the U.S. Capitol, smashed windows, pummeled police officers, and ransacked the building were friendly and patriotic tourists, walking peaceably through a revered building. The very few troublemakers were Antifa or the FBI. Cruz forgot the party line, and he is very apologetic.

Petri wrote:

Have you ever watched a wind sock deflate until it is just a sad polyester shell crumpled on the pavement? Have you ever left some soft cheese near a hot stove and come back to find a demoralized puddle in its place? Have you ever failed to properly care for a houseplant so that not only do you watch it die, but you spend several weeks witnessing it wither, crumple and lose all dignity?

Relatedly, did you see Ted Cruz on with Tucker Carlson on Thursday night?

Here is what I will say about that interview: Personally, just personally, if I were having exploratory surgery to make certain that no hint of a spine remained in any nook of my body I might have overlooked, I would not do it on national television. If I were plucking my voice out and giving it to Tucker Carlson to add to yet another of his magic seashells in the hopes that, in exchange, he would give me legs for 2024 — I would do that somewhere where the cameras were not rolling. I know that Ted Cruz has always loved soup, gelatinous, oozing, always taking the shape of its container. However, I did not want to watch him become soup. Some processes ought to be private.

I would take more joy in watching Ted Cruz be berated for his words (one of the few unalloyed delights that remain to us) if the words in question were not his description of Jan. 6, 2021, as a “violent terrorist attack”; I would also take more joy if the person doing the berating were not Tucker Carlson, complaining that this was no way to describe the very fine people who had so kindly vouchsafed their presence in the Capitol and if Carlson were not wondering why Cruz would utter such hideous slander.

“You told that lie on purpose,” Carlson began by saying, “and I’m wondering why you did.”

“I wasn’t saying the thousands of peaceful protesters supporting Donald Trump are somehow terrorists,” Cruz said, truckling. “I wasn’t saying the millions of patriots across the country supporting Trump are terrorists.” He went on: “Tucker, I agree with you. It was a mistake to say that yesterday, and the reason is what you just said, which is we have now had a year of Democrats and the media twisting words and trying to say that all of us are terrorists.”

The interview could not have been a more vivid reminder that the Republican Party has been undergoing a Change for some time. It would be bad enough if everyone in the GOP shocked the country by simply showing up one day transformed: new blandly smiling faces, new gelatinous substance barely holding their bodies upright, new minds wiped perfectly clean. But it’s somehow worse that it is all happening in public.

We have to watch the slow melting away of the original worried face, the replacement of the vestigial spinal column, the painful extraction of the memories. It is sickening to see, even if the victim is Ted Cruz. If anything, it’s more stomach-churning, because he is so eager and so transparent about it. He is thrilled to be undergoing this lobotomy! He tweeted out the interview himself!

There are some metamorphoses you simply do not sign up to look in on. If you had told me a decade ago that I would have to watch Ted Cruz oleaginously beseech Tucker Carlson to allow him to see the five fingers the party prefers rather than the four he knows are really there, I would have gone into another line of work.

Yes, here are the new parameters for acceptable Republican speech, and here, right on time for his scheduled reprogramming and groveling, is Ted! He knows which way the wind is blowing, and he will do his best to become a windbag that blows in that direction, whatever humiliating deflation is required first.