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The Republican Assault on American Democracy


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#1 LFC

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Posted 25 November 2020 - 04:39 PM

We're probably well past the point that this thread should have been started. We have separate threads for things like Republican court packing, their assault on independent power, assault on reality, that they've "flat out lost their minds", and practically anything to do with Trump but we need to be following Moscow Mitch's multi-prong strategy of destroying democracy and clinging to power with a minority of the country's support.

Here's a good piece by Josh Marshall to kick things off called Offense on Democracy. It's in full due to the paywall.

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President Trump’s decision to allow the full, formal transition process to move forward signals the end of any real attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. It’s been clear for a while that this effort would fail; now you can be sure of it. The real impact of the blizzard of lies and frivolous lawsuits about voter fraud, however, will be as the premise and predicate for a new round of voter suppression laws Republican legislatures and GOP-appointed judges will try to put into effect starting next year.

We’ve seen this pattern before, as predictable as day follows night.

The other predictable part of this pattern is Democrats playing defense – mount the barricades to fight voter ID laws, voter roll purges, new limitations on early voting and more. Democrats have done a relatively good job of this. But it’s – obviously – a loser’s game. The only way to engage the next two years and going forward is to hit the ground running with a raft of new laws and proposals at the state and federal level to expand the reach of the franchise, make voting less onerous and provide greater certainly that votes will be counted. I don’t pretend that all these proposals will become laws. But that’s not the point. You can only limit your losses if you’re playing defense on the other side’s anti-democratic proposals.

I see a lot of Democrats breathing a sigh of relief that the Trump Team’s conspiracy theories aren’t getting traction in the courts and seem to be falling short even with many Republican election administrators. That’s great. But it’s not nearly enough. It’s a missed opportunity. What we have seen over the last month needs to become a rallying cry to secure voting rights, the sanctity of the franchise and the end of onerous barriers to voting. I don’t ever want to see another inspiring story of voters – usually African-American voters – set up with chairs and refreshments for literally hours waiting in line to vote.

Organized forces around the country, led by the President of the United States, tried to disenfranchise millions of voters. They worked to make it as difficult as possible for Democrats to cast ballots. They stymied the postal service. They sought and in some cases received court orders which disqualified ballots cast according to the stated rules of election officials in given states. What we have seen over the last six months and especially the last month is an example of just how vulnerable people’s votes are in the face of organized bad actors. The organized bad actors control an entire political party. That calls for a new raft of laws to protect those votes and those voters.

I don’t know just what those legislative proposals should be in every case. And that’s not the point of this post. But they need to be generated right now not only because we need to dramatically shift the tide on the right to vote in this country but because you cannot enter such a contest only debating the other side’s suppressive and illiberal proposals. And that’s what looks likely to happen.

Democrats are the party in this country fighting to make it easy to vote and making sure every vote is counted. They need to up the ante and make clear to the public that that is what is happening. This is a powerful message and it has the virtue of being true.

There’s another point I want to add to this, though it’s more speculative and I’m not sure the precise modalities. In a civic democracy willfully and knowingly spreading lies to overturn or undermine confidence in a free and fair election is the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater. It amounts to a crime against the people and the republic. Generic lying has strong first amendment protections. But bringing those lies into court does not. There are ample grounds for seeking legal sanctions against the lawyers who have polluted the courts with these frivolous claims with the clear intent of undermining the republic itself. Whether or not such efforts succeed in securing punishments or disbarments they should be pursued and pursued aggressively. Otherwise there will be no disincentive for this kind of reckless behavior in the future. It’s as simple as that.

If nothing else, the reputation for such attacks on the republic should become toxic and unwelcome in respectable society and business – on the level of child molester and those who prey on the incapacity of the elderly to steal money. Does that sound excessive and hyperbolic? What is more basic to our well-being than the safety and security of our democracy and our freedom?

The simple functioning of democracy is a cornerstone issue of our time: making the right to vote real, making voting easy, making sure votes are always counted and making sure majorities govern. That is a powerful and necessary agenda. Time to act like it and go on offense.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#2 LFC

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Posted 25 November 2020 - 04:45 PM

Another piece at TPM discusses the Republican inability to be bipartisan at anything outside of a few edge policies. It lays out four pillars of right-wing "thought" that we can't really expect any compromise on.

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Fast forward to Donald Trump’s nomination. When the #NeverTrump movement coalesced around a core of experienced national security hands, it effectively stripped the GOP of nearly all of its experts and left precious little foreign policy sobriety, humility, or practicality behind.

The myth of an all-powerful America was one of the four right wing fallacies I dissected in the 2016 “I Call Bullshit” book. The others were phantom fraudulent voters, the fever dream of laissez-faire health care and the right’s favorite heroes: private sector “job creators” (i.e. trickle-down supply-side economics). And if you were looking for subjects that test Republicans’ readiness to compromise, three prime areas would be voting rights, health care and demand-side stimulus to deal with the economic downturn and spike in poverty it has caused.

Right now the myth of voter fraud is disintegrating before our very eyes, exposing the GOP’s racist, disenfranchising, partisan game for what it is. The Trump campaign’s farcical legal challenges are deeply dangerous in the way they feed mistrust of the electoral process among their loyal base of voters. At the same time, the Trump-Giuliani Follies serve to clarify the emptiness and cynicism of the entire GOP “election integrity” agenda. The legal case literally boils down to a claim that there were too many Democratic votes. Instead of evidence of fraud or manipulation of vote tallies, the GOP baldly asserts supposed corruption in urban centers like Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee where large numbers of Black people live.

This raises a clear question for post-election bipartisan cooperation. Will Republicans bow to reality and help remove all the administrative obstacles to voting — like voter ID laws and voting roll purges — that were premised on the purported fraud threat?


The whole thing is worth the read but if you don't have time here's the depressing summary.

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From talking to fellow Wisconsinites during the campaign, I know that many of them want political leaders to work things out so that everyone else doesn’t have to worry about it. And if our system worked the way it is supposed to, the center-right and center-left parties would find solutions that strike a balance between their approaches. Unfortunately, the United States no longer has two moderate parties. Instead we have a center-left party and an extreme-right party completely disconnected from the political center. Refreshing as it would be for all of our leaders to come together after 2020, it takes two to bipartisan, and the GOP has for many years been utterly bereft of workable ideas to serve as a basis for compromise.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#3 LFC

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Posted 25 November 2020 - 05:00 PM

Pennsylvania Republicans were all set up to have Donald Trump sit in on a sham "hearing" on voter fraud. Pennsylvania Republicans have a pretty egregious record on this front having failed for years to prove any voter fraud outside of literally a few single cases when they had to testify under oath and in court. They've lied their asses off outside of court, though.

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President Donald Trump is planning to make a surprise visit to a fake legislative “hearing” in Pennsylvania, CNN and The New York Times reported Tuesday night.

“Trump is expected to join [Rudy] Giuliani in Gettysburg, PA tomorrow where GOP state lawmakers are holding a ‘hearing’ on allegations of fraud in the 2020 election, two sources familiar with the plans tell me. Not on his schedule, but being planned as an unannounced movement,” CNN’s Jeremy Diamond reported Thursday.

Maggie Haberman of The New York Times confirmed the report.

“Confirmed to me by two people briefed on the plans. Some aides had tried talking him out of this,” Haberman reported.

The hearing is not a formal legislative hearing, but is being held by the Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee, which is a subset of the GOP caucus. It is not being held at the capitol, but at a Wyndham Hotel.

Edward-Isaac Dovere of The Atlantic argued that the point of the event had nothing to do with discovering fraud.

“The president will take a taxpayer funded trip on Air Force One and commit police resources to protect him so he can participate in a staged event meant to undermine the legitimacy of American democracy rather than have any actual legal effect,” Dovere wrote.


Trump cancelled rather suddenly. I wonder why.

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President Donald Trump’s trip to witness a purported “voter fraud” hearing has been abruptly canceled.

Although the president was scheduled to travel with personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to watch a partisan GOP hearing on supposed voting irregularities, CNN’s Jeremy Diamond is reporting that the trip was called off late Wednesday morning.

Although no reason was given for the cancelation, Diamond notes that it came “after Giuliani was exposed to a second person in the last week who tested positive for coronavirus.”

The event, which is being held at a Wyndham hotel, has been decried as a sham hearing.

The “Trump campaign calling its press event in Gettysburg a ‘public hearing’ being held by the Pennsylvania Senate with ‘opening statements’ and ‘testimony’ is a flat-out falsehood. This is not a Senate event and certainly not a government hearing,” explained Washington Post reporter Amy Gardner.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#4 Traveler

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Posted 25 November 2020 - 05:29 PM

 LFC, on 25 November 2020 - 04:39 PM, said:

We're probably well past the point that this thread should have been started. We have separate threads for things like Republican court packing, their assault on independent power, assault on reality, that they've "flat out lost their minds", and practically anything to do with Trump but we need to be following Moscow Mitch's multi-prong strategy of destroying democracy and clinging to power with a minority of the country's support.

Here's a good piece by Josh Marshall to kick things off called Offense on Democracy. It's in full due to the paywall.
Great Post. As is Josh's take. What should Dems do? looks like Biden wants to bend over. Hope I am not wrong.
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#5 JackD

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Posted 25 November 2020 - 05:36 PM

"What should Dems do?" Win state legislatures and governorships.

#6 AnBr

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Posted 25 November 2020 - 06:52 PM

 JackD, on 25 November 2020 - 05:36 PM, said:

"What should Dems do?" Win state legislatures and governorships.

And this is exactly what proponents of third parties do not understand. It is what Dems need to realize. It is what the conservative movement realized decades ago. It is how you establish a power base.
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#7 golden_valley

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Posted 25 November 2020 - 07:57 PM

 JackD, on 25 November 2020 - 05:36 PM, said:

"What should Dems do?" Win state legislatures and governorships.

I heard a podcast done by the principals at Lawyers, Guns, & Money. They talked about the permanent mouth piece the Republican Party had in Faux News for years and said the Democrats that held the governorships and state houses were generally not making the Democratic Party look capable. So Dems need competent people in the states.

ETA: One of LGM guys (Farley I think) lives in Kentucky. He said MConnell's ads in the US Senate race were about AOC and Nancy Pelosi. They rarely mentioned his actual opponent. Why did that work? Because Faux News followers know "all about" AOC and Pelosi and know they are evil.

#8 LFC

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Posted 25 November 2020 - 08:34 PM

Yes, the PA Republicans "fraud" "hearing" is a joke but it's a dangerous one. Go past Trump whining to get a glimpse of the American fascism that is blazing in their nasty, dictatorship loving little heads. Bold mine.

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Midway through President Donald Trump’s testimony to the Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee on Wednesday, Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis received another incoming call on her cell phone.

That was a problem for Trump, because he was addressing the committee via speakerphone, and the beeps from the incoming call to his lawyer’s phone were an annoying interruption. Trump was reportedly planning on attending the meeting in person with Ellis and the campaign’s other lead attorney as of late, Rudy Giuliani, but he ultimately decided against it.

Still, the President managed to get his point across: The Democrats cheated all over the country! The election was fraudulent! After all, he’d heard a commentator on television say there was no way he’d lost Pennsylvania, because “the energy industry was all for him.” In fact, not only had he won in Pennsylvania by a lot, he’d won “all of these swing states” by a lot.

His solution to this predicament was clear: He deserved to win, tallied votes and court losses be damned.

“Why wouldn’t they overturn an election?” he seethed, referring to the judges who’ve rejected his campaign’s attempts. Trump added later: “We have to turn the election over, because there’s no doubt we have all the evidence, we have all the affidavits, we have everything. All we need is to have some judge listen to it properly.”

Some elected officials might have been aghast at the President’s request to deliver him a “victory” in defiance of the voters’ will. But Sen. David Argall ( R ), the committee’s chairman, beamed.

“What you’ve just heard guarantees that 100 years from now, that this is the most important public hearing ever held by this Senate committee,” he said after Trump hung up.


Judges faced with the Trump campaign’s legal pitch haven’t been nearly as starstruck. In case after case, they haven’t listened “properly” — meaning, they haven’t delivered Trump a second term.

So while Giuliani and Ellis’ appearance before the committee was billed as a hearing on “2020 election issues and irregularities,” Giuliani quickly made clear that he came with a singular demand: Deliver the state for Trump.

In real terms, Giuliani asked the state legislature to simply ignore more than 682,000 votes in Philadelphia and Allegheny County (home to Pittsburgh) that he falsely said “were not observed by any single Republican.” That’s not going to happen — the state has already certified it’s results, and Joe Biden won. But, apparently, the President’s team felt it was worth a shot.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#9 LFC

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 11:27 AM

Trump flunky U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) just got shot down HARD in court but the more important thing to note is that this fascist was willing to subvert American democracy at all. Yes there are a number of unhappy but silent Republicans but I've become convinced that there are more, MANY MORE, who are completely and totally complicit. And yes, there are Republican "justices" who are fascist or fascism-curious. Moscow Mitch and the GOP establishment has understood for decades the power of corrupt courts.

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Pennsylvania’s highest court on Saturday night threw out a lower court’s order preventing the state from certifying dozens of contests on its Nov. 3 election ballot in the latest lawsuit filed by Republicans attempting to thwart President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state.

The state Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, threw out the three-day-old order, saying the underlying lawsuit was filed months after the expiration of a time limit in Pennsylvania’s expansive year-old mail-in voting law allowing for challenges to it.

Justices also remarked on the lawsuit’s staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively.

“They have failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted,” Justice David Wecht wrote in a concurring opinion.

The state’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, called the court’s decision “another win for Democracy.”

President Donald Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, have repeatedly and baselessly claimed that Democrats falsified mail-in ballots to steal the election from Trump. Biden beat Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016.

The week-old lawsuit, led by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania, had challenged the state’s mail-in voting law as unconstitutional.

As a remedy, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law — most of them by Democrats — or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors.

In any case, that request — for the state’s lawmakers to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors — flies in the face of a nearly century-old state law that already grants the power to pick electors to the state’s popular vote, Wecht wrote.

While the high court’s two Republicans joined the five Democrats in opposing those remedies, they split from Democrats in suggesting that the lawsuit’s underlying claims — that the state’s mail-in voting law might violate the constitution — are worth considering.

Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, elected as a Republican in 2009, had issued the order Wednesday to halt certification of any remaining contests, including apparently contests for Congress.

It did not appear to affect the presidential contest since a day earlier, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, had certified Biden as the winner of the presidential election in Pennsylvania.

Wolf quickly appealed McCullough’s decision to the state Supreme Court, saying there was no “conceivable justification” for it.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#10 LFC

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 11:55 AM

At one time I would have called this simple pettiness but not anymore. The mealy-mouthing by Roy Blunt in an attempt to have it both ways is disgusting. It's all a part of trying to reinforce the appearance that the election was invalid to their base and, in this case, trying not to lie too much. That makes it part of the assault on democracy.

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A small but growing contingent of Republican lawmakers have slowly come around to accepting the reality that President Trump’s presidency is ending in January after the sitting president’s flailing attempts at legally challenging the election results have fallen flat.

On Sunday, Blunt appeared unfazed by the recent blows dealt to Trump’s attempts at delegitimizing Biden’s legitimate election victory.

“Well, we’re certainly moving forward as if that what is going to happen on January the 20th,” Blunt said when asked on CNN whether he acknowledges Biden as president-elect. “We are working with the Biden administration, likely administration, on both the transition and the inauguration as if we are moving forward.”

Blunt once again declined to acknowledge that Biden is president-elect as he argued that the title isn’t valid until after the Electoral College meets in its states in mid-December.

“Well, the president-elect will be the president-elect when the electors vote for him. There is no official job of president-elect,” Blunt said.

When asked whether he had seen any evidence of widespread fraud in the election, Blunt replied that Trump’s legal team had failed to present evidence “that was acceptable to any court.”

“I think there were things that could have been done differently and better to ensure there weren’t voter fraud,” Blunt said. “I think the system, frankly, was more secure than it’s ever been before. And the President deserves some credit for that.”

Blunt, however, denied that the election was “rigged” later in the interview.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#11 LFC

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 11:57 AM

 LFC, on 25 November 2020 - 04:39 PM, said:

Here's a good piece by Josh Marshall to kick things off called Offense on Democracy. It's in full due to the paywall.

Here's a follow-up that is also paywalled. The Democrats have to get more aggressive. [sigh]

Quote

On Wednesday I noted how critical it is that Democrats go on offense to protect democracy in this country. This is not only a critical policy imperative. It is also good politics. The critical point, as I argued, is that Democrats need to go on offense now – pushing a broad array of reforms to secure civic democracy in this country – because Republicans will certainly use this election as another excuse to impose further restrictions. And here we have one of the first of what will certainly be many examples.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida ( R ) is pushing his Verifiable, Orderly, & Timely Election Results (VOTER) Act, which he first introduced in September. “This election has shown we need major reforms to our election systems, including Voter ID laws across the nation, to protect against fraud and rebuild the American people’s trust in fair outcomes.” As he notes the law would introduce a series of federal standards for elections, taking many key choices out of the hands of states. It would place extensive restrictions on voting by mail and mandate a national voter ID qualifications across the country.

And thus we see it. Republicans went to great lengths this year to restrict voting and sow doubts about the integrity of the election itself. Given the rapid expansion of many existing methods of voting and all the dislocations of the pandemic it was quite possible this would be a messy election clouded by uncertainty about the result. In the event, it was remarkably orderly and clean. But Republicans are now using their own despicable campaign of disinformation about the result as the premise for more attacks on the right to vote and the right of majorities to govern.

What we have is a spectacle in which virtually the entirety of the Republican party showed its willingness to impede voting to stay in power. Faced with defeat, when everything was on the table, they were happy to say, throw out of the votes of African-American voters in major cities in swing states. We have all just been witnesses to a grave crime against the republic, spearheaded by the President but supported by virtually every Republican officeholder in the country. It is no less grievous for appearing to have failed in its primary goal. It failed mainly because Joe Biden’s victory was simply too decisive. It required too much tinkering in too many different parts of the country to undo.

It has to be a central program to pass laws and sanction offenders to ensure something like this never happens again. Even if not all of these laws are passed, even if none of them are, that has to be the public conversation. Allowing Republicans to frame that post-election debate is civic suicide.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#12 LFC

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 02:02 PM

Of course Faux News, a.k.a. Republican Pravda, doesn't seem to have a problem with stealing elections.

Quote

As President Donald Trump’s ceaseless attempts to overturn the election through the courts continue to crash and burn, his increasingly desperate allies at Fox News are now arguing that hey, who needs to provide that pesky legal evidence anyway?

“Steve, Ainsley, I think what’s happening here is we are quickly moving towards a political case being made, meaning the Trump team is talking to state legislators in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and we know today in Arizona as well, attempting to make their case,” “Fox and Friends” co-host Will Cain told fellow hosts Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt.

“There may not be enough evidence for a court system, but there should be enough evidence for state legislators to change their electors,” he added. “Will they find more success there? We’ll soon find out.”

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#13 LFC

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 03:40 PM

In the view of Ted Cruz's former speechwriter (so a real liberal) Faux News, other right-wingnut media, and the Republican Party are no longer skipping along hand in hand. Now it appears that Faux News and other wealthy people grasp the power they have and is pulling the strings. The oligarchs are funding and leading the assault on democracy and piles of spineless Republicans are just taking their paychecks which, while small in amount for the oligarchs, is more than these talentless turds could imagine making in the real world on their "abilities."

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Cymothoa exigua is a terrifying creature.

The parasite enters a fish through its gills, attaches to its tongue, consumes the tongue, and then becomes a sort of new tongue. For the rest of the fish’s life, it swims around with the “tongue-eating louse,” as the isopod is known, operating its mouth.

At first, seeing a photo of it made me recoil. Then, I realized it seemed oddly familiar: It reminds me of the relationship between what’s loosely defined as “conservative media” and the GOP.

For a long time, most influential right-leaning media figures were content to swim alongside the GOP, flowing along in the same general direction. Until Donald Trump came along. Then they saw an opportunity to burrow deep inside the GOP and wield real power.

It worked. So well that the GOP, as an institution, no longer controls its tongue and its craven media parasites are the only thing keeping it alive.


This explains why they hate social media platforms that call out political lies.

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Knowing this dynamic within the GOP, it’s no wonder that (to name just one ambitious pol) Sen. Ted Cruz has adopted the posture of an online Twitter troll instead of the constitutional scholar-turned-statesman of the most Republican of the big states. One doesn’t amass a rabid grassroots following by passing bipartisan legislation, delivering on constituent services, or even acting to protect the homeland during a pandemic. The demands of leading and governing in the public interest have never meshed well with the demands of winning and keeping office, but they have never before been so contradictory.

Propaganda Party rules dictate that “owning the libz” and generating likes, retweets, and reactions online are the key to success. In the absence of any policy platform, a new party operating philosophy has emerged among politicians and media figures alike: present Trump-friendly figures in the best light possible and depict anyone who stands in their way as some variation of a socialist, child-eating, Satan worshipper.

Plenty of deep-pocketed investors are down for it; they’re looking to fund more media that will do exactly this. In a piece published last night, New York Times media reporter Ben Smith found a healthy appetite among media investors eager to “convert Mr. Trump’s political profile into cash”:

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“There are a lot of well-capitalized people circling,” said Michael Clemente, a former executive at ABC News and Fox News and former chief executive of Newsmax, who has been part of conversations as a potential leader of a new venture. . . . The noisiest effort is led by Hicks Equity Partners, the family business of a Republican National Committee co-chairman and friend of Donald Trump Jr., Thomas Hicks Jr. The Hicks group has sought to lead buyouts of both Newsmax and its smaller and stranger rival, the One America News Network. . . .

Other possibilities for the president to cash in on his stature include creating a new Trump TV network from scratch, either as a television broadcast channel, a package of online video or even a way to direct cash into the Trump family political operation.

Dollar-for-dollar it’s a much better bang for their buck than funding candidates or ads. It sure beats abiding by pesky campaign finance rules, too.

The only problem is, people outside of the GOP bubble are starting to think that publishing and promoting disinformation shouldn’t be so easy. Hence, the GOP obsession with “Big Tech”—or what Tucker Carlson dubbed the “censorship cartel.” This is practically the only policy discussion that universally animates a major sect of top 2024 GOP presidential candidates, among whom, at least according to one poll, Carlson could be a plausible contender.

Makes sense. The prospect that Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram might enforce rules to bar politicians from dumping disinformation online is probably the biggest threat to their political model.


Control of the media is key to the fascist strategy of gaining control over the means of production. It's just not the puppet Republican government that will actually have that control. It's the rich puppet masters.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#14 LFC

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 04:09 PM

Republicans (and they're handlers) are using lies to drive the politics of unjustified resentment and righteous retribution against "those people." A German writer describes the historical parallel.

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On Monday, writing for The New York Times, German columnist Jochen Bittner issued a dire warning to America: outgoing President Donald Trump’s narrative that he and his supporters had their victory “stolen” from them echoes the post-World War I nationalist rage in Germany that ultimately brought about the rise of Nazism.

“One hundred years ago, amid the implosions of Imperial Germany, powerful conservatives who led the country into war refused to accept that they had lost. Their denial gave birth to arguably the most potent and disastrous political lie of the 20th century — the Dolchstosslegende, or stab-in-the-back myth,” wrote Bittner. “Its core claim was that Imperial Germany never lost World War I. Defeat, its proponents said, was declared but not warranted. It was a conspiracy, a con, a capitulation — a grave betrayal that forever stained the nation. That the claim was palpably false didn’t matter. Among a sizable number of Germans, it stirred resentment, humiliation and anger. And the one figure who knew best how to exploit their frustration was Adolf Hitler.”

While Trump himself is not a historical tyrant and murderer on the scale of Hitler, Bittner stressed, he is tapping into the same kind of right-wing populist anger — and it would be a “grave error” to ignore the parallels: “the campaign should be seen as what it is: an attempt to elevate ‘They stole it’ to the level of legend, perhaps seeding for the future social polarization and division on a scale America has never seen.”

There was never any truth to Dolchstosslegende, noted Bittner — Germany was outmatched by the power of the Allies, especially after the United States joined the war, and mass military revolts and nationwide strikes over death and famine forced the Kaiser to abdicate. But the myth was “at the heart of Nazi propaganda, and instrumental in justifying violence against opponents” — the crackdowns that ultimately evolved into the Holocaust were sold as retribution against those perceived as having sold out German victory.

“Alarmingly, that seems to be exactly what is happening in the United States today,” wrote Bittner. “Since the election, millions of Trump supporters have installed the alternative social media app Parler. Filter bubbles are turning into filter networks. In such a landscape of social fragmentation, Mr. Trump’s baseless accusations about electoral fraud could do serious harm. A staggering 88 percent of Trump voters believe that the election result is illegitimate, according to a YouGov poll. A myth of betrayal and injustice is well underway.”

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#15 Traveler

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 09:30 PM

 LFC, on 30 November 2020 - 11:57 AM, said:

Here's a follow-up that is also paywalled. The Democrats have to get more aggressive. [sigh]
That last one violates the Constitution.
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#16 baw1064

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 10:05 PM

 Traveler, on 30 November 2020 - 09:30 PM, said:

That last one violates the Constitution.

And for those of us not inclined to indulge the paywall, what would that be?
"strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence"

#17 Traveler

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 10:14 PM

 baw1064, on 30 November 2020 - 10:05 PM, said:

And for those of us not inclined to indulge the paywall, what would that be?
The VOTER act is joke. Is all.
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#18 LFC

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 03:52 PM

Here's a paywalled TPM piece called The Proto-Fascist Cauldron which covers the bigger picture of Trump's attorney Joe DiGenova publicly calling for the execution of the DHS director who told the truth about their voter fraud lies. The big point is that open calls for violence and lying are now completely normal behavior within the Republican Party. Bold is mine.

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This situation with Joe DiGenova saying whistleblower (in the informal sense) Chris Krebs should be “taken out at dawn and shot” deserves our attention for a few reasons. The first, of course, is the sheer unacceptability and outrageousness of it. But it’s also a window into the permissive and transgressive far-right/Trumpist ecosystem.

Joe DiGenova wasn’t always this far out there. He’s actually a one-time US Attorney and was seen as upstanding, though always conservative, member of the DC bar. Last year he was a key player in Rudy Giuliani’s work with Russian intelligence operatives and oligarchs, bagging millions with his partner/wife Victoria Toensing as well as plotting to sabotage a US election. A week ago he was part of that nutty Trump lawyer press conference that appears to have broken the back of Trump’s low energy coup plot. And now he’s calling for a guy Trump fired to be shot.

It’s important to be clear on this. Sometimes people can use ambiguous language that is clearly meant as a metaphor. DiGenova clearly went way past that line, though I’m sure he would say he wasn’t literally demanding that Krebs be shot.

In any case, what happened here? I’m not saying what happened to Joe DiGenova like he was some upstanding guy and something awful happened to him. I suspect this was always who DiGenova was. I’ve been watching the guy for 25 years. But there is something about the far-right lawyer/commentator/operative ecosystem where any expression of aggression or appeal to illegality is basically accepted. It’s a permissive, enabling environment. I mean, that’s why we have Trump. It’s why we have Trumpism. It’s something with deeply political and historical roots. But whatever the roots it exists. And it’s why you have someone like DiGenova openly saying someone who is already getting very real death threats should be shot.

It’s also why you have people suddenly pretty much openly demanding that state legislatures toss out the results of an election and declare a different candidate the winner. It’s a seedbed and no-limits generation point of attacks on civic democracy and the republic itself.


There's an interesting piece at The Bulwark that covers much of the same ground.

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This is not just a random Parler troll trying to get attention. This is an attorney speaking on behalf of the President of the United States’ re-election campaign. And while it may read like a macabre joke, the direct nature of diGenova’s comments make it impossible to interpret as anything other than a real wish/threat against a public servant for offering truthful testimony.

Carr responded to the statement with an awkward pause and a laugh and then changed the subject. Some shit is so weird that it even makes Newsmax people uncomfortable.

DiGenova’s execution wishcasting comes on the heels of a Krebs interview with 60 Minutes in which he debunked the Trump team’s outlandish and conspiratorial claims about the election. Krebs is a lifelong Republican who Trump put in charge of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which had oversight of election security. (Trump fired Krebs via tweet.)

In addition to threatening Krebs, over the course of the interview diGenova made ominous and false suggestions about “circuit breakers” shutting down on election night in multiple states, which allowed for vote fraud; millions of votes showing up in dump trucks, tow trucks, and vans without detection; and he called on state legislatures to have the “cojones” to overturn the results of the election.

In other words: Just a normal day for Elite Strike Force.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#19 LFC

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 04:50 PM

Josh Marshall wrote a piece called Acclimating to New Realities. The Republican assault on democracy will continue and now that Biden will be President we can expect a full blown shitstorm of hypocrisy. Josh calls for shutting down all bad faith arguments from bad faith actors rather than engaging them. I interpret that as telling each and every hypocritical blowhard to sit down and STFU. If they whine about something that might actually be real simply say something like "Mr Graham, your despicable toady behavior under Trump makes you unfit to even discuss this issue with us. Find a more honest champion and we can talk."

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You’ve probably noticed that my posts have been perhaps a bit more reflective than usual in recent days. Biden not only won and Trump is leaving but now Trump gets it and knows he’s leaving, even as he labors to manufacture a narrative in which he won but is being deprived of office by a conspiracy against him. Like TPM Reader MM below, there is a certain relaxing of muscles and tension. This really is over. And despite Trump’s still fairly successful efforts to project a reality in which he remains a presence past his presidency, I suspect it’s really over to a degree greater than we quite yet suspect.

So when I say reflective I find myself working to shake free of a certain set of assumptions and problems and questions and think through what seems necessary in a new reality which is quite different and yet a continuation and perhaps even a deepening of the crisis of the last five years.

What do we need to do now?

As I’ve been saying for months, we need an audit of the executive branch. We can see now how difficult that ends up being when an incoming administration is faced with such a rush of imperatives, crises and demands on its time. But we need it. So that is something we will discuss. I won’t rehearse the argument again here. The original piece covers it.

You may have noticed that Neera Tanden, head of CAP and Joe Biden’s choice to head the Office of Management and Budget is now being targeted by the Bernie-adjacent left and Republican senators largely for her irascible and combative Twitter feed. People are rightly noting the comedy of Republicans newfound concern with mean tweets. The truth is Senators get a vote and they’re free to vote against anyone who hurt their feelings. There’s no law or rule against that, petty as it may be.

More bracingly, Sen. John Cornyn, one of the President’s more reliable toadies for four years has announced that he will need for disclosure of all of President Biden’s nominees work for any foreign governments or corporations. “Transparency is non-negotiable,” he tweeted without irony or apparent self-awareness. But is there a rule against hypocrisy? Hardly.

Here’s where we do get to something that is real and we need to remain focused on going forward. No Republican who has served in Congress under Donald Trump, with the exception of Mitt Romney, has any credibility on any question tied to ethics, public corruption or corrupt entanglements with foreign governments. Folks like Cornyn can say anything they want. But these are all bad faith arguments, bad faith statements and they should be treated as such. TPM alum Brian Beutler has this right in a tweet from a couple days ago: “When I’ve said we need new discourse norms to ostracize bad-faith actors, I was thinking ahead to this moment. How journalists cover Republicans pretending to care about deficits, tweets, etc. will go far toward determining whether the sabotage they’re plotting “works” or not.”

This is correct and it will take a lot of work for Democrats not to get drawn into bad faith arguments, debates, discussions. Obviously Republicans can vote how they want. And honest government, uncorrupted administration of government isn’t less important because Republicans don’t care about it. But we shouldn’t engage bad faith actors on any of these questions. It’s not a matter of tit for tat or that Democrats get to enjoy the standard-less regime Trump enjoyed. It is just a commitment not to engage bad faith actors and bad faith arguments – and to clearly identify those who choose to. It’s actually very important.

These are by no means exhaustive, just a few that are on my mind this morning. Globally, there is no going back. Obama or Hillary Clinton or whatever else did ‘give us Trump’. But clearly the old way of operating created the stage on which Trump was possible. So we need to do better and do differently and profit from the brutal education of the last four years.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#20 golden_valley

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 05:29 PM

The Georgia Secretary of State's press person says this:

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The Georgia secretary of state’s office says online posts about an elections company contractor are essentially encouraging murder and have placed the worker’s life in jeopardy.

One post claims to show video of a Dominion Voting Systems worker manipulating election data in Gwinnett County. Secretary of State spokesman Gabriel Sterling says in reality it shows no such thing.

A follow-up post shows a noose and appears to name the worker, accusing him of treason and says “May God have mercy on your soul.”

“Somebody’s gonna get hurt or somebody’s gonna get killed,” Sterling told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne. “Neither of those is acceptable.”

Sterling says he is calling on President Trump and Georgia’s Republican U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue to condemn such actions and other irresponsible rhetoric, which Sterling says has long since passed the point of normal political discourse.

“They have refused to condemn this type of behavior and language continues to escalate every day,” Sterling told Winne. “There are some people out there who are losing their damn minds and somebody’s gonna get shot.”

Winne has previously reported both Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Sterling have physical security plans in place because of previous threats against them in the wake of President Trump losing Georgia in the 2020 election. Raffensperger’s home address and cell number have been posted online and a Fed Ex delivery to Sterling’s home indicates his address is known as well.

Maybe I'm crazy but I suspect that AOC and the left wing is not the source of this behavior, but of course maybe it's a diabolical "false flag" operation to make Trump supporters look bad.





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