Monday, March 8, 2021

The Crybaby Cult: Republicans are desperately scrambling for new sources of indignation and victimhood

: Poor Potatoheads. Funny thing is, those six Dr. Seuss titles were taken out of print by the books' publisher during the now defunct Trump admin. So why wasn't the irate GOP whining then?

Republicans are desperately scrambling for new sources of indignation and victimhood (Raw Story link): Republican politicians see culture wars as their avenue back to power, according to The Washington Post columnist James Hohmann

A chorus of Republicans have complained that President Joe Biden had accused two GOP governors of engaging in "Neanderthal thinking" over their decisions to rescind COVID-19 preventative measures. They also expressed outrage that Hasbro planned to drop "Mr." from its Potato Head branding and that Dr. Seuss Enterprises planned to cease printing six books that contained racist stereotypes.

"The familiar chorus of faux indignation from the bad-faith brigade illustrates more than just how reflexive and juvenile the discourse has become," Hohmann writes. "This week also put into stark relief how leading Republicans hope to fight their way out of the wilderness by leaning into grievance and picking culture war battles."  

He adds that efforts to "capitalize on the cultural epidemic of grievance and victimhood" are "entirely rational," because they keep conservatives engaged.

Such battles also help to distract from the fact that Republicans are fighting against popular legislation. According to a Quinnipiac poll from February, nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the Biden administration's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, known as the American Rescue Plan.

"Republicans now face the familiar challenge of keeping their populist base riled up while opposing policies that would benefit many of those core supporters — this time without Trump," Hohmann explains. "Indeed, even as Republicans tried to convince their voters to take offense at Biden's Neanderthal label, they were voting en masse against a measure to extend unemployment benefits and send $1,400 checks to millions of households, while arguing against a $15 an hour minimum wage."

Biden and his aides, on the other hand, have mostly ignored the culture war battles.

"I don't think there is any danger in ignoring a debate on Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss," John Anzalone, a Biden adviser and campaign pollster, told Politico.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

NYT: Cellphone Data Tie Proud Boys Member With Trump White House Before Capitol Riot

Mod: Pictured at left is Proud Boys boss Enrique Tarrio with Donald Trump Jr. and rumored CA GOP governor candidate Kimberly 'TinGuilfoyle.

NYT: Cellphone Data Tie Proud Boys Member With Trump White House Before Capitol Riot (Slate link): Federal law enforcement officials have uncovered a contact between former President Donald Trump’s White House and a member of the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys mere days before the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. The FBI obtained “location, cellular, and call record data” that revealed the information, reports the New York Times, citing an unnamed source who was briefed on the investigation. 

The FBI hasn’t been able to figure out what the two discussed and the source wouldn’t reveal any names of the people on either end of the call.

Word on the call comes as the leader of the group, Enrique Tarrio, confirmed he called Trump associate Roger Stone days before the assault on the Capitol. Tarrio called during a protest in front of Sen. Marco Rubio’s home and he put Stone on speaker phone to talk to the demonstrators. An official said that wasn’t the call in question. 

That means two members of the Proud Boys were in touch with people associated with the White House, illustrating how extremist groups had ties to people close to the Trump administration. 

Earlier this week, there wre reports that federal investigators were looking into communications between members of Congress and members of the mob that stormed the Capitol. CNN reported that there were “indications of contact” in the days surrounding Jan. 6. But the New York Times says so far there’s been “no evidence of communications” between rioters and lawmakers during the attack itself.

At least one person associated with the previous administration allegedly took part in the riot. A former State Department aide, Federico Klein, was arrested Thursday for participating in the riot. Klein thus became the first known Trump official to be charged with crimes connected to the Capitol riot. 

Videos reportedly show Klein assaulting law enforcement officers with a stolen riot shield. Prosecutors had asked Klein be detained before trial but the judge set a bail hearing for Tuesday.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

'Mike Pence has Stockholm Syndrome?' Ex-aide lashes out at him for siding with his 'would-be executioners'

Mod: Have those four years of soul-crushing abuse he suffered in Trump's regime caused Mike Pence to identify with the agenda of those who wished to hang him? Is he the new Patty Hearst?

Mike Pence Can’t Walk Away from the Big Lie (The Bulwark link): Does Mike Pence have a death wish? Not two months have passed since an armed, violent mob stormed the Capitol chanting “hang Mike Pence,” erected a gallows, and forced the Secret Service to rush the then-vice president to safety, all because he had refused to overturn the 2020 election. (Pence correctly observed at the time that he had no such power.)

And yet! In an opinion piece for the Daily Signal, his first public statement since leaving office, Pence implicitly endorsed the exact lies and conspiracy theories that motivated his would-be murderers, writing, “After an election marked by significant voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election.”

It’s worth noting that Pence never actually states the clear implication of his opinion piece. He never alleges that there was widespread voter fraud or an organized campaign or scheme to steal the election, because he knows that’s not true. 

Instead, he wallows in the vagaries of “significant voting irregularities” and “integrity,” surely knowing that the people who believe the Big Lie about the election will assume he’s talking about how Hugo Ch├ívez and Dominion conspired to overturn a landslide victory. Trying to understand what Pence must be thinking is like cleaning out a septic tank by hand. And it has to be done in the same way: bit by noxious bit.

Let’s start by being charitable, and assuming that Pence actually believes both his January 6 statement declining to overturn the election and his recent opinion piece at the same time. The people who stormed the Capitol believed that the election had been stolen, and that all nonviolent remedies to express the true will of the people had been exhausted.

Pence, in a moment of bravery, told Trump and the world that he didn’t have the power to overturn the election, which may have something to do with Trump’s tweet attacking Pence while the insurrection was going on, which the rioters shouted through bullhorns.

Pence made himself a target by making himself, in the eyes of the mob, just another corrupted gear in the rigged, deep-state machine of government. Now, by winking and nodding at possible “irregularities” and illegitimacy, he’s affirming that view. Does Pence have Stockholm Syndrome? It’s pretty rare for the survivor of a crime to publicly declare that, akshually, their attacker was right all along? 

Mod: Wild stuff. Much more at the link.

Friday, March 5, 2021

AP poll puts Biden job approval at 60 percent - Other polling shows Biden with similar strong support

Mod: Nice to see how well an actual real president has been received here. 

AP poll puts Biden job approval at 60 percent (Politico link): A solid majority of Americans say they approve of President Joe Biden’s early job performance, according to a new survey, with even more respondents giving him positive marks for his management of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Friday reports that 60 percent of U.S. adults surveyed approve of Biden’s handling of his job, including 94 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of Republicans.

On the subject of the pandemic, 70 percent of adults surveyed approve of how he has handled the public health crisis, a figure that includes 97 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of Republicans.

Although Biden’s approval numbers dip slightly for his handling of the economy, he still maintains majority support on that issue, with 55 percent of adult respondents — including 88 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of Republicans — favoring his fiscal policy.

Other public polling published this week has shown Biden with similar margins of support. A POLITICO-Morning Consult poll pegged the president's job approval rating at 57 percent among registered voters, and a Reuters-Ipsos poll put the number at 58 percent of Americans.

The AP-NORC survey’s results come as Biden wraps up his sixth full week in office since assuming the presidency in January, during which time he has reiterated that the pandemic and its economic fallout are his top priorities, along with efforts to counter climate change and the push for racial equity.

U.S. Optimism About COVID-19 Situation Reaches New High (Gallup link):  One year after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the U.S., Americans have become markedly more upbeat in their views of the trajectory of the situation, and their worries about access to testing and medical supplies and services have eased. At the same time, Americans' reports of the extent to which the pandemic has disrupted their lives, and their predictions for how long the disruption will last, remain steady.

For the first time in Gallup's trend, a majority of Americans (60%) perceive the coronavirus situation in the U.S. as getting better, while 26% say it is staying the same and 14% believe it is getting worse. This record-high optimism likely reflects the steep decline in new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. in late January and early February. 

Mod: Of course those following the Mr. Potatohead crisis on Fox News may disagree.

No Inauguration: QAnon-evangelical crossbreeding is creating America’s own ‘al-Qaeda’ radicals

Mod: Religious fanatics who want to satisfy their devotion to a cult leader through destructive radical acts. Or, as Donald Trump was fond of saying just a few weeks back, 'really fine people.'  

QAnon-evangelical crossbreeding is creating America’s own ‘al-Qaeda’ radicals (Raw Story link): The Qanon conspiracy movement is cross-pollenating with evangelical Christianity, and experts on extremism are worried about an increasingly radicalized religious movement.

The cult-like conspiracy system and conservative Christianity are influencing one another and creating potentially violent fanatics under the stress of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic fallout, and both movements are angry and bitter over former president Donald Trump's election loss -- which they believe was fraudulent, reported the Independent.

"Something disturbing has happened with evangelicals in this country where we have become prone to conspiracies and believing the worst about our enemies, where we end up placing the Republican Party and ourselves as Americans first before true Christianity," said Michigan pastor David Rice.

Rice, who leads Markey Church in Roscommon County, Michigan, said a woman complained his sermon on the U.S. Capitol riot was "too political," and followed up with a litany of conspiratorial fantasies about President Joe Biden, Antifa and Black Lives Matters that was strongly influenced by Qanon beliefs -- and the pastor tried to talk her down.

"You need to know how crazy this is," Rice told the woman. "You have been with my family and in my home and I care for you but you are dabbling in darkness. You are telling me it's giving you hope. I'm telling you as your pastor that it's evil."

Religious extremism is fundamentally at odds with democracy, especially when they're based on conspiratorial fantasies about pedophilia and satanic sacrifices.

"Religious terrorism tends to be more lethal, because people believe they're serving a higher purpose by committing acts of violence, as opposed to secular groups or ethno-nationalists who are fighting over territory or land," said Colin Clarke, a senior research fellow at The Soufan Center. "You can't negotiate with these people, and you especially can't negotiate with QAnon, because how do you assuage grievances that don't exist?"

Cult deprogrammers overwhelmed with requests to help de-radicalize pro-Trump conspiracy theorists (Raw Story link): Many of former President Donald Trump's supporters have fallen into a web of disinformation surrounding the 2020 presidential election, as well as the infamous QAnon conspiracy theory.

NPR reports that professional exit counselors, who are brought in to help deprogram cult members, are being overwhelmed with requests for help in bringing Trump-supporting conspiracy theorists back to reality.

"I've probably got almost a hundred requests in my inbox," explains Diane Benscoter, an exit counselor who has been helping people leave cults after she herself spent years in the Unification Church cult.

Joan Donovan, who leads the study of online disinformation at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, similarly tells NPR that the current social media environment is a "free for all" that is producing an "unfathomable" amount of disinformation for Americans to consume.

Pat Ryan, a cult interventionist, tells NPR that QAnon is deliberately designed to draw people in by asking them leading questions and pointing them to "answers" that are actually pieces of the conspiracy theory.

Benscoter tells NPR that she knows from personal experience what draws people into political cults such as QAnon.

"It establishes this camaraderie and this feeling of righteousness and this cause for your life, and that feels very invigorating and almost addictive," she says. "You feel like you are fighting the battle for goodness, and all of a sudden you are the hero."

Mod: A lot more information can be found at both links.

BUSTED: Trump official arrested in connection to Capitol riot (Politico link): The FBI on Thursday arrested Federico Klein, a former State Department aide, on charges related to the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, marking the first known instance of an appointee of President Donald Trump facing criminal prosecution in connection with the attempt to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory.

Klein worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign and was then hired at the State Department. As of last summer, he was listed in a federal directory as serving as a special assistant in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and was designated as a “Schedule C” political appointee.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Fake Cruz: Ted Cruz pummeled over a big lie blaming Joe Biden for non-existent ‘war’ on Dr. Suess

: When you think of all the problems facing this nation right now, why is it Tea Nutters like Cancun Cruz are now literally lying about a nonexistent 'War on Dr. Seuss'?

‘Un-Christian liar’ Ted Cruz pummeled for lie blaming Joe Biden for totally non-existent ‘ban’ on Dr. Suess Books (Raw Story link): U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is joining the right wing pile-on attacking liberals for a ban that does not exist on Dr. Seuss books – but the Republican from Texas is going one step further, placing blame for the non-existent ban directly on President Joe Biden.

Among those lying about the "cancel culture" banning of Dr. Suess are Fox News' Ainsley Earhardt, who said on Tuesday, “There's this cancel culture trying to cancel Dr. Seuss now." Donald Trump, Jr. also lied, telling Earhardt, "You know they're canceling Dr. Seuss from reading programs," which is false.

Glenn Beck lied, saying, “They have now banned six books from Dr. Seuss," although like everyone else, he never said who "they" are. 

There is absolutely no "ban" on Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss has not been banned, nor has Dr. Seuss been canceled.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises last year decided six of the beloved author's 60 books do not meet their standards. Some were written nearly a century ago, and the company that owns the copyright to the Seuss books decided to stop licensing those six lesser-known books over depictions of racism they admit are "hurtful and wrong."

Enter Senator Cruz, fresh from lying last week about Attorney General nominee Judge Merrick Garland. Senator Ted Cruz has decided the "they" in "they are banning" is none other than President Joe Biden. Yesterday Cruz tweeted 5 times about Dr. Seuss, today an elected official makes it look like the government outlawed the book. The campaign of lies and propaganda is alive and well with Republicans.

Mod: Will the Q-Trumper insurrectionists be MAGA rioting at the Capitol again today?

The Capitol Is Ready After New Trump Terrorist Attack Warning (PoliticusUSA link): Speaker Pelosi has canceled Thursday’s House session after the FBI and Homeland Security issued a warning about a potential Trump terrorist attack. The Capitol Police issued a statement about the March 4th warning:

"The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex. We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4

We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public, and our police officers.

Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking the intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we cannot provide additional details at this time."

The Trump terrorists aren’t going away now that Trump is out of office. The difference between 1/6 and today is that the Biden administration is trying to protect the Capitol instead of delaying assistance and inciting terrorist violence. If the Trump terrorists return, America will be ready to defend its Capitol.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

'Truly disgusting': Fox News suffers an internal revolt after hiring Kayleigh McEnany

Mod: A couple more inspired hirings like FibbinKayleigh and Fox News' ratings will be right down there with local city council meetings and TV test patterns.

'Truly disgusting': Fox News suffers an internal revolt after hiring Kayleigh McEnany (Raw Story link): Fox News has officially announced that former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany will join the network as a paid contributor, but some insiders within the network aren't pleased, according to a report from The Daily Beast

"It's truly disgusting they fired hard-working journalists who did care about facts and news reporting only to turn around and hire a mini-Goebbels whose incessant lies from the White House helped incite an insurrection on our democracy that got five people killed, including a police officer," a Fox News insider told The Daily Beast.

The source appears to be referring to longtime politics editor Chris Stirewalt, who was fired in January after upsetting conservative Fox News viewers by calling Arizona for Joe Biden election night.

"Post-Trump Fox is quickly becoming a very scary place and quite dangerous for our democracy. It's not even conservative news anymore. They've plunged into an alternate reality where extremist propaganda is the only course on the menu," the insider added.

Another Fox staffer told The Daily Beast that the decision to hire McEnany was "upsetting."

"So many good people are out of a job now and I'm sure she'll get a huge contract," the staffer said, adding that ultimately the hiring makes sense since so many Fox News viewers love McEnany.

"It bothers me in that it is basically a slap in the face to the hardworking journalists that value real news and facts. But it also doesn't surprise me because they have shown that they don't give a damn about facts and real news," another staffer said.

A third staffer lamented that there's "no objectivity in this business anymore. It's a self-serving profiteering enterprise," they said, adding that McEnany was hired because of "name recognition, notoriety, an obvious willingness to say anything her employer desires. The viewers are morons."

For The First Time In History MSNBC Is The #1 Network On All Of Cable (Politicus USA link): For the first time in the history of the cable ratings, MSNBC was the top network overall, as the network tops CNN and Fox NewsMSNBC announced their win: 

"MSNBC averaged 1.4M total viewers during total day (M-Su 6am-6am) (vs. CNN’s 1.2M and FOX News’ 1.3M), propelling the network to the #1 spot in cable for the 1st time ever (ahead of #2 FOX News, #3 CNN and #4 HGTV). Among total viewers, MSNBC increased viewership by +36% during total day while FOX News shed viewers by double digits (-32%) compared to Feb. 2020. A25-54 viewership was up +29% for MSNBC during total day vs. Feb. 20 while FOX News lost -38% of viewers."

The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm finished February as the highest-rated regularly scheduled program across all of cable television for the 2nd straight month. “Maddow” averaged 3.7M total viewers (vs. FOX News’ 3M and CNN’s 2.2M) — a double digit gain in total viewers (+32%) over Feb. 2020. FOX News’ “Hannity” lost -31% of total viewers compared to Feb. 2020. “Maddow” also dominated the demo finishing #1 in A25-54 with 593K viewers (vs. CNN’s 510K and FOX News’ 440K). In A25-54, “Maddow” increased viewership by +36% compared to Feb. 2020 while FOX News shed -39% of viewers.

Sean Hannity
’s viewership is down by 31% and the viewership for Fox and Friends has plunged by 40%.

The right-wing has been reduced under Trump to a small fringe, and those outlets like Fox who continue to cater to the fringe will continue to watch their viewership dwindle.

Facebook moderators sue social media giant for severe mental trauma after exposure to violent images at work

: Have you ever had something pulled down by Facebook? Or had your account suspended because you posted something contrary to 'community standards?' So you know, the folks who do that stuff aren't very happy, either.

Dozens of Facebook moderators sue social media giant for severe mental trauma after being exposed to violent images at work (Daily Mail link): Dozens of Facebook moderators are suing the social media giant for severe mental trauma after being exposed to violent and sexually disturbing images at work.

The 30 staffers, whose job was to spot and remove harrowing material on the site, claim they were not given adequate training to deal with the content or access to doctors or psychiatrists while working for Facebook.

Their lawyers revealed that several have attempted suicide, while others have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), similar to the torment some soldiers suffer after returning from battlefields. 

Others have developed severe depression, disturbing flashbacks and anger issues, while some have complained that changes in character have led to the breakdown of relationships.

The court case is the biggest damages claim ever made against Facebook by staff in Europe, and the Silicon Valley giant could be forced to pay millions of pounds in damages if it loses the legal battle.

Last year, Facebook agreed to pay £37 million to former moderators in the US who brought a similar claim in a California court, blaming the horrific content for causing mental trauma.

A Facebook spokesman said: ‘We are committed to providing support for those that review content for Facebook as we recognize that reviewing certain types of content can sometimes be difficult. Everyone who reviews content for Facebook goes through an in-depth, multi-week training program on our Community Standards and has access to extensive psychological support to ensure their well being."

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Are Californians being asked to recall Gavin Newsom so Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend can run for Governor?

Californians are being asked to recall their governor Gavin Newsom over a ration of gratuitous GOP scat. The usual stuff. But now it appears that just perhaps their real motive is so Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle can make a run. With a recall costing $80 million bucks, it is one mad ask.

California may get Kimberly Guilfoyle back, running for public office
(The Mercury News link): When Kimberly Guilfoyle left California 17 years ago, bound for cable news stardom in New York City, she was a highly-regarded San Francisco prosecutor and the telegenic wife of San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Now there’s talk that Guilfoyle could return to California to run for political office. But she’d find that many residents of her home state would have a darker view of her in 2021, after her fervent speeches for President Trump’s re-election, her romance with his son, Donald Trump Jr., and her call for Trump supporters to “fight” before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol

Politico reported Friday that “some Republicans” are urging Guilfoyle, a top fundraiser for Trump’s 2020 campaign, to move back to the Golden State to run for public office. The report in Politico’s California Playbook didn’t specify which office she might seek. But the report raised the specter of a run against her now-ex, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, in 2022 or should he face a recall election.

Politico report came the same day that Guilfoyle, 51, returned to the political stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday. The San Francisco native and former Fox News host did an extended version of what’s become known as her signature hip-shaking dance as she walked to the podium. Guilfoyle is shown breaking into a hip-shaking dance.

Monday, March 1, 2021

USA Today: Trump's CPAC comeback speech revealed a sad little man, angry at courts and politicians

Mod: Only Fox News carried Trump's speech, and let's face it, he's dead as far as Facebook and Twitter are concerned. So this was it, one last big opportunity to shine. And yeah, he blew it. Big time.

Even Trump's CPAC lies 'seemed faintly ridiculous': USAToday editors (Raw Story link): Former President Donald Trump left his compound in Palm Beach to speak publicly for the first time since leaving the White House. While his speech played on some of his greatest hits over the last five years, USA Today editors Jill Lawrence and David Mastio questioned whether the ex-president was "a declining parody or a terrifying threat."

"Trump's CPAC comeback speech revealed a sad little man, angry at local courts and politicians and disappointed in the federal judges he seated, but who 'didn't have the guts or the courage' to bow to him," wrote Mastio

"Trump tried to carry on as if he hadn't been impeached after the Capitol was ransacked by a mob, but even the lies seemed faintly ridiculous."

"'We will win. We've been doing a lot of winning,' was the wacko fib he launched his speech with, as if he hadn't cost Republicans control of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. Trump Republicans know that truth," Mastio continued.

Lawrence noted that Trump gave her no "sliver of hope." He came into the event to his typical tune of "proud to be an American," but his speech "was an attack on America, laced with ad hominem attacks on his enemies." 

"Fact-checking is a useless exercise for a speech like this one," Lawrence explained. "It was a swollen greatest-hits parade of lies, laughable braggadocio, deliberate double-talk, ugly insults, ugly transactionalism and, from the man who tried to overturn an election, incited a deadly riot and is under investigation in many civil and criminal cases, the despicable (from him) claim that, 'We know that the rule of law is the ultimate safeguard. And we affirm that the Constitution means exactly what it says, as written. As written.'"

As He Faces Possible Criminal Indictment, Trump Attacks The Supreme Court
(PoliticusUSA link): Trump, who is potentially facing multiple criminal indictments, attacked the Supreme Court for not overturning the election.

Trump claimed that the Supreme Court did not have the guts to illegally overturn the election for him. It is likely that Trump’s anger at the high court is based on the fact that they made him turn over his tax returns to the Manhattan DA who is looking at criminally indicting him, his adult children, and his company.

Donald Trump needed the Supreme Court to violate the Constitution in order to stay in power.

The former president is unleashing the same complaints, gripes, and conspiracy theories that dominated his lame-duck period after he lost the election to Joe Biden.

The cable news networks have largely ignored Trump’s CPAC speech. His remarks are being gobbled up by those at CPAC, but for the rest of the country, his complaining is already stale. Attacking the Supreme Court when he is facing possible criminal indictment looks like more of the shoot himself in the foot strategy that made Trump a one-term president.