The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Sen. Wendy Rogers

Youtube Screenshot

There have been powerful indicators of the full-bore radicalization of the Republican Party in the past year: the 100-plus extremist candidates it fielded this year, the apparent takeover of the party apparatus in Oregon, the appearance of Republican officials at white nationalist gatherings. All of those are mostly rough gauges or anecdotal evidence, however; it’s been difficult to get a clear picture of just how deeply the extremism has penetrated the party.

Using social media as a kind of proxy for their real-world outreach—a reasonable approach, since there are few politicians now who don’t use social media—the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights decided to get a clearer picture of the reach of extremist influences in official halls of power by examining how many elected officials participate in extremist Facebook groups. What it found was deeply troubling: 875 legislators in all 50 states, constituting nearly 22% of all elected GOP lawmakers, identified as participating members of extremist Facebook groups.

“The ideas of the far right have moved pretty substantially into the mainstream,” Devin Burghart, IREHR’s executive director, told Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, “not only as the basis for acts of violence but as the basis for public policy.”

This is pointedly true when it comes to “replacement theory,” the white-nationalist conspiracist narrative claiming that a nefarious cabal of globalist elites is deliberately manipulating immigration to replace white people in Western society with nonwhites—a set of beliefs that fueled Saturday’s domestic-terrorist attack on the Black community in Buffalo.

“Replacement theory” proponents, Burghart said, come from a broad bandwidth of far-right movements, and have been spread widely over the past year since Fox News’ Tucker Carlson began championing the claims. It’s also been ardently promoted by mainstream Republicans, particularly members of Congress:

  • Elise Stefanik of New York, the number three House Republican: She’s running ads accusing Democrats of “a permanent election insurrection” in the form of an immigration amnesty plan that would “overthrow our current electorate.”
  • Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus: He has claimed “we’re replacing … native-born Americans to permanently transform the political landscape.”
  • Matt Gaetz of Florida, a notorious Trumpist congressman: tweeted that Carlson “is CORRECT about Replacement Theory.”
  • J.D. Vance, who won the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in Ohio: He claims that “Biden’s open border is killing Ohioans, with … more Democrat voters pouring into this country.”
  • Ron Johnson, the GOP senator from Wisconsin: He claims that Democrats “want to remake the demographics of America to ensure ... that they stay in power forever.”

IREHR researchers defined “far-right” groups as those advocating for changes that would significantly undermine political, social, and/or economic equality along class, racial, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, immigration status, or religious lines. Groups fighting government mask and vaccination rules and other public health efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus were also included, as were 23 anti-abortion groups. It identified 789 of them.

The study identified 875 state legislators serving in the 2021-2022 legislative period who had joined these extremist Facebook books, only three of whom were Democrats. The remaining Republicans who had joined these groups constituted 21.74 percent of all Republican lawmakers in the country, and 11.85 percent of all legislators.

The states with the highest percentage of extremist legislators were Alaska (35 percent), Arkansas (25.19 percent), Idaho (22.86 percent), Montana (22.67 percent), Washington (20.41 percent), Minnesota (19.4 percent), Maine (18.28 percent), and Missouri (18.27 percent). The state with the highest total numbers of these legislators was New Hampshire (62), followed by Pennsylvania (40), Minnesota (39), Missouri (36), Arizona (34), Montana (34), Maine (34), Georgia (32), Washington (30), and Maryland (27).

As the report explores in detail—particularly in its profiles of individual extremist legislators, such as Washington state’s Jim Walsh and New Hampshire’s Susan DeLemus—these lawmakers’ far-right politics naturally translate into extremist legislation. The report connects them with a surge in legislation seeking to limit access to the ballot, restrict the rights of LGBTQ people, to limit “critical race theory” and otherwise control what public school children can learn about America’s legacy of racism, as well as to severely restrict abortion rights in their states.

“All of that stuff has been incubated in these networks,’’ Burghart said. “That rhetoric in this context becomes public policy quite quickly and those ideas not only move from the margins to the mainstream but now they’ve been codified into law in some places."

In all, the report identifies some 963 anti-human-rights bills introduced in legislative bodies by these lawmakers.

As Charlie Pierce observes at Esquire:

The point is that there is an internal coherence to all the rightist causes, as well as enthusiasm that hasn’t been there in previous incarnations. And, because of this coherence, there is a more solid political bloc that can influence the “establishment” Republicans, or intimidate them. But, in any case, it is a bloc that cannot be ignored.

Nor are the report’s authors optimistic, considering that even this clearer view of the penetration of extremism within the ranks of elected officials is still very rough and likely misses a great deal of this kind of activity: “IREHR researchers,” it notes, “believe the findings almost certainly understate the breadth of the problem.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}