A couple of days ago Sorryantivaxxer.com did a story about Stan Wilson who died last month from COVID. Both Stan and his wife filled their Facebook pages with pretty strident anti-vax material (some of which you can see in the video above), despite having lost friends, co-workers and family from COVID, including Stan’s own mother, Norma, who also died from it. (It’s believed that Stan contracted the virus from her and that neither of them was vaccinated, of course.) Oh, and Stan was also an EMT, and as such in high risk of contracting COVID just from the nature of his work.
None of those facts seemed to register with Stan or his wife thouogh, as she’s continued posting anti-vax material, even after her husband’s death, arguing that the hospital was negligent for not providing ivermectin or other quack remedies to her already deathly-ill husband. She also posted to Facebook saying, “Neither of us were vaccinated by choice. Stan was ridiculed for it and stood by his conviction. Wonder if his treatment has been different if he had taken it? I will not.”
So it goes.
According to this obituary, Stan died from COVID on September 27, 2021. Stan was an EMT for the Bartlesville Ambulance Service for 27 years. Stan and his wife, Nancy, were anti-vaxxers, and as you’ll see Nancy thought the Bartlesville Hospital could’ve approached Stan’s treatment differently.
The Bartlesville Enterprise-Examiner had a piece on Stan Wilson after his passing as well.
Veteran EMT Stan Wilson died Monday, marking the first COVID-19 related death of a Bartlesville Ambulance Service first responder.
A procession of BAS ambulances, Bartlesville Police and Bartlesville Fire trucks accompanied his body from the hospital to a funeral home. BAS Administrator Dan Bolton said it is believed Wilson, a Bartlesville EMT of 21 years, contracted the disease from his mother, Norma Wilson, who died of COVID-19 on Sept. 12.
“It comes too close to home. It makes COVID very real. Our guys are exposed to it almost every day, to COVID patients. We thought we were through the worst of it, then it came back again. We never expected to have a death. Almost all of our guys have gotten COVID … Stan was the only one who didn’t survive it,” Bolton said.
And Danesh’s tweet contains much of the material that Sorryantivaxxer dug up on Facebook.
Antivaxxer of the Day
Stan Wilson pic.twitter.com/sR1We4vQH2
— Danesh (@thatdaneshguy) October 24, 2021
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North Carolina state representative Mike Clampitt swore an oath to uphold the Constitution after his election in 2016 and again in 2020. But there’s another pledge that Clampitt said he’s upholding: to the Oath Keepers, a right-wing militant organization.
Dozens of Oath Keepers have been arrested in connection to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, some of them looking like a paramilitary group, wearing camo helmets and flak vests. But a list of more than 35,000 members of the Oath Keepers — obtained by an anonymous hacker and shared with ProPublica by the whistleblower group Distributed Denial of Secrets — underscores how the organization is evolving into a force within the Republican Party.
ProPublica identified Clampitt and 47 more state and local government officials on the list, all Republicans: 10 sitting state lawmakers; two former state representatives; one current state assembly candidate; a state legislative aide; a city council assistant; county commissioners in Indiana, Arizona and North Carolina; two town aldermen; sheriffs or constables in Montana, Texas and Kentucky; state investigators in Texas and Louisiana; and a New Jersey town’s public works director.
ProPublica’s analysis also found more than 400 people who signed up for membership or newsletters using government, military or political campaign email addresses, including candidates for Congress and sheriff, a retired assistant school superintendent in Alabama, and an award-winning elementary school teacher in California.
People with law enforcement and military backgrounds — like Clampitt, a retired fire captain in Charlotte, North Carolina — have been the focus of the Oath Keepers’ recruiting efforts since the group started in 2009. According to researchers who monitor the group’s activities, Oath Keepers pledge to resist if the federal government imposes martial law, invades a state or takes people’s guns, ideas that show up in a dark swirl of right-wing conspiracy theories. The group is loosely organized and its leaders do not centrally issue commands. The organization’s roster has ballooned in recent years, from less than 10,000 members at the start of 2011 to more than 35,000 by 2020, membership records show.
The hacked list marks participants as annual ($50) or lifetime ($1,000) members, so not everyone on the list is currently active, though some said they viewed it as a lifelong commitment even if they only paid for one year. Many members said they had little contact with the group after sending in their dues but still supported the cause. Others drifted away and disavowed the group, even before Jan. 6.
The list also includes at least three people who were arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and who federal prosecutors did not identify as Oath Keepers in charging documents: Andrew Alan Hernandez of Riverside, California; Dawn Frankowski of Naperville, Illinois; and Sean David Watson of Alpine, Texas. They pleaded not guilty. These defendants, their attorneys and family members didn’t respond to requests for comment. The Justice Department also declined to comment.
According to experts who monitor violent extremism, the Oath Keepers’ broadening membership provides the group with two crucial resources: money and, particularly when government officials get involved, legitimacy.
Clampitt said he went to a few Oath Keepers meetings when he joined back in 2014, but the way he participates now is by being a state legislator. He has co-sponsored a bill to allow elected officials to carry concealed guns in courthouses, schools and government buildings, and he supported legislation stiffening penalties for violent demonstrations in response to last year’s protests in Raleigh over George Floyd’s murder. Clampitt said he opposes violence but stood by his Oath Keepers affiliation, despite the dozens of members charged in the Capitol riot.
“Five or six years ago, politicians wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out with Oath Keepers, you’d have to go pretty fringe,” said Jared Holt, who monitors the group for the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. “When groups like that become emboldened, it makes them significantly more dangerous.”
The State Lawmakers
Then-state Delegate Don Dwyer from Maryland was the only elected official at the Oath Keepers’ first rally, back in April 2009. Dwyer was, by his own account, a pariah in Annapolis, but he was building a national profile as a conservative firebrand. He claimed to take direction from his own interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and a personal library of 230 books about U.S. history pre-1900.
The Oath Keepers’ founder, a former Army paratrooper and Yale Law School graduate named Stewart Rhodes, invited Dwyer to speak at the group’s kickoff rally — they called it a “muster” — in Lexington, Massachusetts, the site of the “shot heard round the world” that started the Revolutionary War in 1775.
“I still support the cause,” Dwyer told ProPublica. “And I’m proud to say that I’m a member of that organization.” He left politics in 2015 and served six months in prison for violating his probation after a drunk boating accident.
Dwyer said he was not aware of the Oath Keeper’s presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. “If they were there, they were there on a peaceful mission, I’m sure of it,” he said. Informed that members were photographed wearing tactical gear, Dwyer responded, “OK, that surprises me. That’s all I’ll say.”
Among the current officeholders on the list is Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, who was already publicly identified with the Oath Keepers. Finchem was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 but has said he did not enter the building or engage in violence, and he has disputed the characterization of the Oath Keepers as an anti-government group. He is currently running to be Arizona’s top elections official, and he won former President Donald Trump’s endorsement in September.
Serving with Clampitt in the North Carolina assembly, deputy majority whip Keith Kidwell appeared on the Oath Keepers list as an annual member in 2012. Kidwell declined to comment, calling the membership list “stolen information.” A spokesperson for the state house speaker declined to comment on Kidwell’s and Clampitt’s Oath Keepers affiliation.
The membership list also names Alaska state Rep. David Eastman as a life member and Indiana state Sen. Scott Baldwin and Georgia state Rep. Steve Tarvin as annual members. Eastman confirmed his membership and declined to answer further questions. Baldwin’s spokesperson said he was unavailable to comment.
Tarvin recalled signing up at a booth in White County, Georgia, in 2009 when he was running for Congress. He lost that race but later became a state lawmaker. He didn’t view the Oath Keepers as a militia group back then.
Tarvin said he stands by the pledge he signed and said he isn’t aware of the Oath Keepers’ involvement in the Capitol breach on Jan 6. His congressional district is now represented by Andrew Clyde, who helped barricade a door to the House chamber on Jan. 6 but later compared the riot to a “normal tourist visit.”
Kaye Beach, who is listed as an annual member in 2010, is a legislative assistant to Oklahoma state Rep. Jon Echols, the majority floor leader. Beach sued the state in 2011, arguing that the Bible prohibited taking a driver’s license photo of her. She eventually lost at the state supreme court. Beach and Echols did not respond to requests for comment.
Two other lawmakers have long been public about their affiliation with the Oath Keepers.
Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers announced her membership a few years ago. She responded to Trump’s 2020 loss by encouraging people to buy ammo and recently demanded to “decertify” the election based on the GOP’s “audit” of Maricopa County ballots, even though the partisan review confirmed President Joe Biden’s win.
Idaho state Rep. Chad Christensen lists his Oath Keepers membership on his official legislative biography, in between the John Birch Society and the Idaho Farm Bureau.
Rogers and Christensen didn’t respond to requests for comment.
South Dakota state legislator Phil Jensen appeared on the list as an annual member in 2014, using his title (then state senator) and government email address. His affiliation was reported Tuesday by Rolling Stone. He did not respond to a request for comment.
South Dakota state Sen. Jim Stalzer, whose 2015 annual membership was first reported by BuzzFeed, said he never renewed his membership and stopped supporting the Oath Keepers because he disagreed with “their confrontational approach to what they view as federal overreach.” In an email, Stalzer said he supported peaceful demonstrators on Jan. 6 but “we do not have the right to damage property or harm others, whether it be at the Capitol or anywhere else.”
Virginia Fuller first encountered the Oath Keepers in 2009 at a meeting in San Francisco featuring Rhodes, the group’s founder. Fuller liked Rhodes’ message of upholding the Constitution, she told ProPublica. For a while she corresponded with one of the group’s leaders but they eventually lost touch, and she moved to Florida and ran unsuccessfully for Congress on the Republican ticket in 2018.
Rhodes and other leaders of the Oath Keepers embraced Trump’s lies about election fraud and promoted Jan. 6 as a last chance to make a stand for the republic. Asked about Jan. 6, Fuller said, “There was nothing wrong with that. The Capitol belongs to the people.”
The Oath Keepers rose to prominence when handfuls of heavily armed members showed up at racial justice protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, and their profile grew thanks to a series of standoffs between right-wing militants and federal agents in the Western U.S.
At the 2016 funeral for a rancher who officers shot while trying to arrest him, Stan Vaughan met several Oath Keepers and became an annual member. Vaughan, a one-time chess champion from Las Vegas, ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the Nevada State Assembly in 2016, 2018 and 2020. Even though Vaughan ran in a predominantly Democratic district, he had the support of his party’s establishment, receiving a $500 campaign contribution from Robin Titus, the Assembly’s Republican floor leader. Titus did not respond to requests for comment. Vaughan said he’ll probably run again once he sees how new districts are drawn.
Vaughan said he wouldn’t join the Oath Keepers today. It’s not their ideology that bothers him or their involvement in the Jan. 6 riot. Rather, he said he has concerns about how the group’s leaders spend its money.
One Oath Keeper seen on Jan. 6 wearing an earpiece and talking with group leaders outside the Capitol was Edward Durfee, a local Republican committee member in Bergen County, New Jersey, who is running for state assembly in a predominantly Democratic district. Durfee has not been charged and said he did not enter the building.
“They were caught up in the melee, what else can I say? For whatever reason, I didn’t go in,” Durfee said. “They brand you as white supremacists, domestic terrorists. I don’t know how we got in this mix where there’s so much hatred and so much dislike and how it continues to get fomented. It’s just shameful actually.”
The Local Party Officials
When Joe Marmorato, a retired New York City cop who moved upstate, signed up for an Oath Keepers annual membership in 2013, he described the skills he could offer the group: “Pistol Shooting, police street tactics, driving skills, County Republican committee member.” Marmorato later rose to vice chairman of the Otsego County GOP, but he recently resigned that post because he’s moving. Reached by phone, Marmorato stood by the Oath Keepers, even after Jan. 6. “I just thought they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. I know most of them are all retired police and firemen and have the best interests of the country in mind,” he said. “No matter what you do, you’re vilified by the left.”
Steven K. Booth, a twice-elected Republican county commissioner and state senate candidate in Minnesota in the 2000s, said he wants to run for office again if his wife agrees to it. He’s still active in the local GOP. Booth joined the Oath Keepers as an annual member in 2011 and said he hasn’t heard from them in years. He said he wasn’t aware of their role in Jan. 6 but he’s concerned that some Capitol breach defendants are being held in jail. “That seems kind of weird to me,” Booth said. “I also think it’s kind of weird that nobody is doing anything about all the fraud we were told about in the last election either.”
Asked about the possibility of Booth running for office again, local GOP chair Rich Siegert started talking through openings Booth could aim for. Booth’s Oath Keepers affiliation did not give Siegert pause. “When tyranny comes, that’s when you stop and say you’ve got to do something about it,” said Siegert, who heads the party in northern Minnesota’s Beltrami County. “To go out and get violent and kill people like they did in the early days, I’m not really in favor of that. How do you get the attention of liberals and get them to listen? Firing guns, I don’t know, it’s what they do in some countries. Define what ‘radical’ is.”
Not all party officials shared Siegert’s view. Richland County, South Carolina, GOP chair Tyson Grinstead distanced his committee from Patsy Stewart, who is listed as an Oath Keepers annual member in 2015. “Personally,” Grinstead said, “I don’t think there’s a place for that in our party.”
Stewart has been a delegate or alternate to the GOP state convention and is currently a party precinct officer in Columbia, South Carolina. She didn’t respond to requests for comment. In recent months, Trump supporters have flooded into precinct positions in South Carolina and other states as part of an organized movement inspired by the stolen election myth, ProPublica reported in September.
The Poll Worker
When Andy Maul signed up for the Oath Keepers as an annual member around 2010, he touted his role in the Pittsburgh GOP. Maul said he let his membership lapse because there wasn’t a local chapter, but he still likes the group’s concept.
Maul became the party chairman of his city council district starting around 2016. But other local party leaders chafed at Maul’s confrontational style and lack of follow-through.
“Andy was getting a little out there,” said Allegheny County chairman Sam DeMarco, who had to ask Maul to take down some of his inflammatory social media posts. “If you want to be associated with our committee, you have to represent mainstream traditional Republican values and not be affiliated with fringe groups.”
Maul left the local party committee in 2020, but he continued serving as a poll worker. According to the county elections department, Maul was the “judge of elections” in charge of his precinct in every election since 2017, including this year’s primary in May.
In Pennsylvania, the judge of elections in every precinct is an elected position. If no one runs, as often happens, the local elections office appoints someone to fill in, so a person can sometimes land the job “if you have a pulse and you call them,” said Bob Hillen, the Pittsburgh Republican chairman.
“If I opposed people based on their views for being a judge of elections or anything, that would eliminate a whole lot of people,” Hillen said. “I’m a city chairman, I don’t have time to think about all those things like that.”
Maul said he observed “aberrative” ballots at his precinct on Nov. 3 — just a handful, but he asserted that if the same number occurred at every precinct in the state, it would add up to more than Biden’s margin of victory. (There is no evidence of widespread fraud that could have affected the outcome in Pennsylvania or any other state.)
On Jan. 6, Maul said he marched toward the Capitol but couldn’t make it all the way and returned to his bus. He said he wasn’t familiar with the Oath Keepers’ activities that day. “As a supporter of the Constitution, I had strong differences and concerns about Trump,” Maul said in a text message. “Although my feeling on Trump were mixed, I went to the Jan. 6 rally mainly due to what I experienced at my polling location.”
Around 2005, Marine veteran Bob Haran joined the Minuteman Project, a group of armed people who took it upon themselves to patrol Arizona’s border with Mexico. Haran resented that critics called the group vigilantes and Mexican hunters. All they did, he said, was call the Border Patrol.
Haran held positions in the local GOP and had run for the state House as a Republican. During the tea party wave, Haran became frustrated with the new activists’ anti-government tilt and turned to the Constitution Party, a minor party that’s to the right of the GOP. Haran rose to be the state chairman and secretary. By the time he became an Oath Keepers annual member in 2016, Haran was looking for a new political home.
When Trump rode down a golden escalator to launch his presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” Haran took offense. He faulted the government for failing to secure the border, but he didn’t blame people for seeking better lives for themselves and their families. Haran grew up in Coney Island, near a middle-class apartment complex built by Trump’s father, and he remembered Trump as a braggadocious playboy, not as the successful self-made businessman he later played on TV. Haran said he was appalled as Republicans fell in line behind Trump.
Then, Haran did something unusual, even among never-Trump Republicans: He became a Democrat.
Haran doesn’t agree with the Democrats on everything, but he said he feels welcome in the party. He’s still passionate about guns and immigration, but he also supports environmental protections and universal health care. Above all, he wanted to help get rid of Trump. In 2020, he joined his local precinct committee and started regularly attending party meetings.
Haran was so excited to see Trump leave office that he tuned in to watch the Electoral College certification process on Jan. 6. He couldn’t believe how fast the Trump supporters reached the Senate floor, or how Oath Keepers were attacking the Constitution they swore to defend.
Haran thought back to when he ran for office as a Republican, in 2000, and lost. “I called my opponent and congratulated him: I would have won except he got more votes,” Haran said. “I conceded, which is bestowing legitimacy on my opponent, which is more important than anything.”
He finds it disturbing that Trump and other Republicans today won’t do that anymore. “They were anti-government,” Haran said of the GOP, “but now they’re being anti-democracy.”
Even though he’s not running for reelection, spineless Missouri GOP Sen. Roy Blunt still refused to acknowledge that the election wasn’t stolen from Trump, or to cross him on his lie that the “real insurrection” was on election day.
Here’s Blunt on this Sunday’s Meet the Press being asked by guest host Andrea Mitchell about Trump continuing to push the Big Lie this week.
BLUNT: You know, I think the election was what it was. There’s a process you go through that determines whether or not the early reports were the right reports, and we went through that process.
And I’m of the view that the best thing that the president Trump could do to help us win the majorities in 2022 is talk about the future, and he can be an important part of that 2022 effort.
But I think better off to talk about the future than to focus on the past in every election.
Every election should be about the future, and I think that’s what this next one’s going to be about.
Roy Blunt had a choice. He could have said that the election was legitimate and the 1/6 attack was an insurrection. Instead of telling the truth, he decided to say that the election was what it was, not mention 1/6 at all, and suggest that Trump stop talking about the past.
It was a slimy dodge that reveals how scared Republicans are to cross the Big Lie.
Until the Republican Party gains the courage to kick Trump to the curb, they will remain a threat to democracy. Even the Republicans who don’t fully embrace the Big Lie are participating in the attack on democracy.
CNN’s Jake Tapper called out Lauren Boebert and J.D. Vance for their horrid, cruel remarks following the tragic shooting death of Halyna Hutchins, and better late than never, finally noticed that the cruelty is the point with Republicans.
We’ve been talking about that for some time over in the liberal blogosphere, and Chris Hayes whacked them for the same thing earlier this week.
It’s nice to see our corporate media finally acknowledge the obvious, but let’s not pretend it’s something new.
We will ultimately learn what went so wrong and accountability, of course, is essential. But before we can even get to that, there is the tragedy of this moment. Halyna Hutchins was 42, from Ukraine, a rising star in her field. The wife of Matthew Hutchins, the mother of a boy Andros Hutchins. Heartbreaking for normal people. But there’s something about our politics right now that is driving people away from our shared humanity.
Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado apparently spent some time and did some digging and found an Alec Baldwin tweet from 2014 about the “Hands up, don’t shoot” movement. Baldwin, is, of course, not only a progressive but very aggressive and outspoken about liberal issues, including gun control. The Colorado congresswoman thought it was funny to exploit “Hands up, don’t shoot” to make a joke at the expense of Baldwin but more importantly really to make a joke at the expense of Halyna Hutchins and her husband Matthew and their son Andros.
More disappointing, perhaps, was a tweet from J.D. Vance, a former marine, Yale Law grad, author of “Hillbilly Elegy.” Vance was even for a time a CNN contributor, hired because of his perceived insight and empathy. Vance is a conservative for whom a lot of folks once had great hope would rise to become a real leader but he’s running in the Senate Republican primary in Ohio that seems to have become the fear factor for American politics, with contestants positioned against one another, as to who can confirmatively appeal best to the lowest common denominator.
Vance, joking, asked for Twitter to remove its ban on Donald Trump, because, quote, “We need Alec Baldwin tweets.” In other words, Vance appears to be saying we need to see Donald Trump attack Alec Baldwin hours after this tragedy, at this moment, to exploit this horror in which an innocent woman, mother, wife, artist was killed.
Vance seems to want Trump to attack and mock for a global audience Alec Baldwin for killing a woman in what almost certainly was a tragic accident, regardless of the pain of Matthew Hutchins or Andros Hutchins. And however this impacts Baldwin, and really, I mean, how might such an incident impact you?
And he did this — J.D. Vance, he did this why? Presumably because he thinks it will help him win supporters. He did it to win votes. In other words, the cruelty is a feature of his candidacy, not a bug.
Vance is seemingly following the playbook of Donald Trump, whose response to the death of Secretary Colin Powell a few days ago was to issue a statement attacking Powell. Following similar attacks that he made against the late John McCain and the late John Dingell, after they had died.
Violations of basic decency, ones we see repeatedly with the Republican Party’s embrace of individuals such as Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia. Her reaction in 2018 to a deadly fire in the Western United States was to go on Facebook and speculate that wealthy Jewish Americans might be using lasers to cause the fires to make money somehow. A deranged anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Nuts. One that was brought up by Congresswoman Liz Cheney when Marjorie Taylor Greene started berating Cheney on the House floor this week.
Now, Cheney has been ostracized by her party for standing against Trump lies and for wanting to get to the bottom of the deadly insurrection on January 6th. Green, well, she was described by one Democratic congressman as seeming rather gleeful on that day, January 6th. Though Green staff denies it.
Either way, ask yourself, which of these congresswomen is more likely to be given a speaking slot at the 2024 Republican Convention? A longtime Republican official texted me after J.D. Vance’s tweet, quote, “being a horrible person,” he wrote, “is now actually a job requirement in this party,” unquote.
I hope to God that that Republican official was wrong.
It’s been more than obvious that Republican official was correct for a very long time now to anyone willing to admit the truth about what’s been happening to the Republican party, Jake. Trump finally said the quiet part out loud, but the GOP has been running on racism and hatred of liberals for decades now.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has invited law enforcement officers around the country to come to Florida if they lose their jobs because they refuse to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
During an interview on Fox News, DeSantis explained that he had “scientific” reasons for hiring unvaccinated police officers.
“On a scientific basis, most of those first responders have had Covid and have recovered,” DeSantis claimed without evidence. “So they have strong protection and so I think that influences their decision on a lot of this that they have already had it and recovered.”
“In Florida, not only are we going to want to protect the law enforcement and all the jobs,” he continued, “we’re actually actively working to recruit out-of-state law enforcement because we do have needs in our police and our sheriff’s departments. So the next legislative session, I’m going to hopefully sign legislation that gives a $5000 bonus to any out-of-state law enforcement that relocates in Florida.”
He added: “So NYPD, Minneapolis, Seattle — if you’re not being treated well, we’ll treat you better here. You can fill important needs for us and we’ll compensate you as a result.”
Watch the video below from Fox News.
Fox News hosts lashed out at the public education system on Sunday because a lecture at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill discussed “right-hand privilege.”
A segment on the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends called out the lecture on inclusion after a photo was shared on Instagram. The photo highlighted some of the benefits of so-called right-handed privilege.
This appeared to outrage Fox News hosts Lawrence Jones, Rachel Campos-Duffy and Pete Hegseth.
“You’re looking at the most privileged couch in America,” Hegseth said, noting that the three hosts are right-handed. “You guys are so privileged, it’s not even funny. You don’t even know it.”
“So you see that the solution to people believing that white people having more advantage is a reverse racism,” Campos-Duffy opined. “So what should happen to those of us who are right-handed who have enjoyed for decades, you know, this kind of advantage over our left-handed minorities.”
The hosts went on to argue that public schools should be defunded because of the lecture on right-handed privilege.
“Conservatives abandoned the college campuses for so long and they continue to reinforce sending their kids to these college campuses,” Jones explained. “If you want this to change then you’ve got to support conservative universities or don’t send them at all. Take that money, teach your child how to be a business owner and take that money that you were going to send them to school and invest into them.”
“Stop sending them,” Hegseth agreed.
“I will not fund those schools,” Campos-Duffy insisted. “I will not give my hard-earned money for that kind of indoctrination and that kind of garbage and — I’m not going to say the word but you know what it is.”
In a chilling discussion with Ari Melber on Friday, Snyder said that Republicans today remind him of what Russians cynically call “the administrative resource.” It means that the GOP is providing “resources” to determine elections’ outcomes.
The Big Lie is one component of the effort, Snyder said.
SNYDER: What we’re looking at is people who believe in, or pretend to believe in this big lie actually carrying out our elections. And the problem with this, or one of them, is that since these people have already claimed that the other side cheated, that basically legitimates their cheat. In other words, if you talk about the big lie now, you’re basically promising to cheat the next time around. and that’s very concerning.
Then there’s the coordinated effort to use the “administrative resource.” Melber asked how worried Snyder is that we “could face a situation” where officials “could actually swing an election.” In short, we should all be very worried.
The scenario for 2024, for most influential people around Donald Trump, which, unfortunately, means one of the political parties, is precisely to be installed without winning the election. That’s very consistent with everything Mr. Trump has ever said in 2016, 2020 and now. So I don’t think it’s something that could happen. I think it’s something under way. The question is, can we accept this reality in time to take the measures we need to take to prevent it?
Melber suggested that maybe Trump isn’t competent enough to actually steal the next election. “He had a lot of power as an incumbent president,” Melber pointed out, so why didn’t he start interfering in the voting processes sooner? “It almost seems like we watched someone lumber towards this type of chicanery,” Melber said.
Snyder did not seem to find that one bit reassuring.
So, we’re now looking at a situation where instead of just a person who makes the kind of disorganized attempt relying on personal charisma and signals to his followers and a few people in the Justice Department and hope. We now have that person, plus a whole bunch of institutional machinery, plus a whole lot of time to plan. So that’s the scenario.
The reason why I would be more worried about 2024 than about 2020 is you have the person, plus the lie, which is new, plus the institutions which are getting worse.
Seems like a good time for the Democrats to pass voting rights legislation, eh?
After weeks of watching what appeared to be a host of transformative policies withering on the vine, progressives have real reason for optimism.
The roughly $2 trillion bill that has taken shape this week isn’t everything progressives hoped for, but it would still make historic investments in health care, child and elder care, early childhood education, and combating climate change.
By all accounts, President Joe Biden deserves a lot of credit for helping to break the logjam. On Tuesday, Biden held a marathon string of meetings, beginning with separate sessions with Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, followed by a group of House progressives, and bookended by a joint session with House and Senate moderates.
Following the meetings, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who has been a rock as leader of the Progressive Caucus, told The Hill that she and her colleagues were “even more optimistic” about reaching an agreement on the package.
Moderate Sen. Jon Tester of Montana even went so far as to correct himself for having expressed frustration at the slow pace of movement.”I think we’re making really good progress, better progress than I thought we were making,” Tester said after the moderates’ meeting.
“I think I told one of you nothing’s happened in the last 10 days. There’s been a lot happening in the last 10 days—I just wasn’t aware of it.”
That’s a refreshing amount of candor about the refreshing idea that, actually, things are moving in Washington.
The details of the bill are still being worked out, but Jayapal has made clear so far that progressives’ priorities are still in the bill, even though they’ve had to scale back some of the proposals.
Manchin and Sinema have continued to be the skunks at the garden party, but Biden seems to have pinned them down on both a price tag and their red lines in the sand.
For Sinema, one red line was her vexing refusal to raise taxes on corporations and top income earners. But that opposition has produced an interesting opportunity for liberal Democrats to revisit the idea of imposing a new wealth tax on the nation’s roughly 700 billionaires. Such a tax is reportedly more appealing to Sinema and Manchin—or at least not a nonstarter—and would raise hundreds of billions in revenue.
The idea continued to gain steam Friday afternoon, with Jayapal tweeting, “The wealth of billionaires has grown astronomically throughout the pandemic, while working families have struggled to keep food on the table. It’s time to tax the rich and invest in people.”
Either way, the White House has continued to maintain that the $2 trillion plan can be fully funded even without raising the corporate tax rate. “Absolutely,” as White House press secretary Jen Psaki put it. Other ways to raise revenue include stronger tax enforcement and a new global minimum tax for corporations, along with a 15% minimum corporate tax rate.
After meeting with the president Friday morning, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Democratic members they would “aim” to vote on both the $2 trillion package and the bipartisan infrastructure deal before Oct. 31, when funding for surface transportation programs expire.
Nothing is assured yet, but the momentum shift among Democrats is palpable. After weeks of fearing defeat, they are starting to smell victory—and that’s a very enticing feeling for lawmakers who are hungry for a win.
And if the Afghanistan withdrawal took some of the sheen off the president and his White House, this week featured Biden at his best.
His CNN town hall was a work of art. Biden threaded the needle by leveling with the American people about the sausage-making, while gently nudging the process forward. Even better, Biden previewed a shift on filibuster reforms that could allow the passage of absolutely critical voting rights legislation “and maybe more.”
That’s a good week—a very hopeful and promising week—for Democrats, who are flirting not just with goodness, but the possibility of greatness.
Published with permission from Daily Kos.
President Barack Obama blasted Republican nominee for governor, Glenn Youngkin, for refusing to rebuke the extremists who held a rally for him, where they pledged allegiance to a flag that was used during the insurrection on January 6th.
Speaking at a rally for Terry Mcauliffe, Pres. Obama laid into Youngkin for acting like he’s not a wealthy business owner.
“You do notice whenever a wealthy person runs for office, they always want to show you what a regular guy they are,” Obama said.
“That’s okay,” he said. And then he lowered the boom.
“But when your supporters hold a rally, where they pledge allegiance to a flag that was flown at the insurrection at the [US] Capitol on January 6th, the biggest threat to our democracy in my lifetime, when you don’t separate yourselves from them, when you don’t think that’s a problem, well you know what? That’s a problem,” he said to loud audience agreement.
“You can’t run ads telling me you’re a regular old hoops-playing, dish-washing, fleece-wearing guy, but quietly cultivate support from those who seek to tear down our democracy, ” Obama explained.
“Either he actually believes in the same conspiracy theories that resulted in a mob, or, he doesn’t believe it, but he’s willing to go along with it, to say or do anything get elected. And maybe that’s worse.”
Obama continued on about what those choices say about Younkin’s character, asking, “When are you willing to say, ‘There are some things that are more important than getting elected, and maybe American democracy is one of those things!'”
Clearly, Younkin and Republicans care not for American democracy, but are fine with saluting fascist extremists who have tried to overthrow the US Constitution.
Throughout his epic, scandal-ridden career, Donald Trump has compiled an astonishing record of impunity, constantly staying one jump ahead of prosecutors, plaintiffs and creditors.
He is the only president to be impeached twice, and acquitted twice by the votes of Republican senators.
He spent almost three years under investigation for what looked like collusion with Russia, only to walk away scot-free.
Democrats moved sharply to the left on racial attitudes over last decade, opening a wide gap with the GOP. White Democrats shifted the most.
His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, went to prison for paying hush money to an adult entertainer known as Stormy Daniels, but “Individual-1,” the man who ordered him to write the check, was never held accountable.
That record of escapes would make Houdini envious.
But Trump remains under the gun. He’s still in search of escape routes.
A House committee is examining his attempts to overturn last year’s presidential election, including his actions when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
A prosecutor in Georgia is investigating whether he violated state law against soliciting election fraud when he demanded that officials “find 11,780 votes” — the number he needed to undo Joe Biden’s victory in that state.
And prosecutors in New York are looking into allegations that Trump, or at least the closely held family business he runs, committed tax and bank fraud.
But don’t count him out.
“His life has been a series of lessons showing that with aggressive lawyering and a lot of chutzpah, you can achieve almost total immunity,” Norman Eisen, a counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during Trump’s first impeachment, told me.
The former president’s most visible battles are against the Democratic-led House of Representatives, which asked the Justice Department last week to prosecute his former aide Stephen K. Bannon after Bannon refused to comply with a subpoena.
Trump has ordered Bannon and other former associates to stonewall on the grounds that all of his conversations with them are protected by executive privilege.
That’s the legal doctrine that allows a president to protect internal White House deliberations from congressional snooping, a claim Trump asserted broadly when he was president.
In this case, the claim sounds far-fetched: How can a former president assert executive privilege, especially over conversations with someone like Bannon, who wasn’t a government official at the time?
But constitutional lawyers say Trump has several arguments he can make. He’ll probably try them all.
First, a former president does have the right to assert executive privilege. Trump can thank former President Nixon for that, fittingly enough. In 1977, Nixon tried to block the federal government from releasing his presidential papers; he lost, but in deciding the case, the Supreme Court declared that former presidents can assert the privilege under some circumstances.
As for Bannon, the Justice Department has long argued that executive privilege can protect a president’s meetings with nonemployees as long as the discussion covers official business. In January, Bannon reportedly urged Trump to block Congress from certifying Biden’s election, then told listeners of his Jan. 5 podcast: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
“If the cases are argued on the merits, Trump and Bannon are unlikely to prevail,” Jonathan Shaub, a former Justice Department lawyer who now teaches at University of Kentucky‘s law school, told me.
“Executive privilege doesn’t apply to acts taken in a personal or political capacity, and it doesn’t apply when there are concrete allegations of wrongdoing.”
But winning may not be the point.
“In the end, this is all about delay,” Shaub said.
Trump and his supporters know that if they can tie the House committee in knots until the 2022 congressional election, there’s a good chance Republicans will win control of the chamber and kill the investigation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) know that, too. That’s a major reason they asked the Justice Department to prosecute Bannon for criminal contempt; it’s faster than a civil suit.
The next step is up to Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland, who has exasperated some Democrats by keeping his distance from the Trump investigations.
President Biden said last week that he thinks Garland should prosecute Bannon and others who reject congressional subpoenas. That was an improper, Trump-style act of presidential jawboning; Garland pushed back, saying he wanted to return the Justice Department to its apolitical norm.
But Biden was right on the merits; without the threat of prosecution, Bannon and others will continue to stonewall.
Meanwhile, Trump has made his defense almost entirely political, not only denouncing the House investigation but praising the mob that invaded the capital.
“The insurrection took place on Nov. 3, election day,” he said in a written statement last week. “Jan. 6 was the protest!”
He’s used the investigation to raise money for his political action committee, which has collected millions.
“The Left will never stop coming after me,” he wrote in an email to donors last week. “Please contribute ANY AMOUNT IMMEDIATELY to make a statement to the Left that you’ll ALWAYS stand with YOUR President.”
And there, no matter how the legal wrangles turn out, lies the answer to a persistent question about Trump: What makes him run?
Ego, surely, in part. A desire to take revenge on his adversaries, too.
But two practical reasons, as well.
One is money. Political contributions may be the most reliable revenue stream the Trump family enterprise has at the moment.
The other, equally important, is to bolster his legal defense. As long as he’s running (or even sort of running), Trump can denounce every inquest and subpoena as just another part of a political vendetta. It’s a way to hold his troops together — and to make every prosecutor think twice.
He’s notching up another presidential first: He’s running for reelection to stay out of jail.