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Christian Nationalists Want 'Ideological Purity' Tests For Federal Employees

Christian nationalist Russ Vought recently appeared on Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk’s radio show to discuss plans to purge at least 10% of federal career staffers under a new Trump administration. Vought described that portion of the federal workforce as “the roots of the problem” that prevented former President Donald Trump from fully implementing his agenda. During the interview, Kirk suggested that the next Republican administration subject civil servants to “ideological purity tests.”

Vought ran the powerful Office of Management and Budget under Trump and now heads up a right-wing think tank called the Center for Renewing America, whose mission is to “renew a consensus of America as a nation under God.” While at OMB, Vought helped develop a policy called “Schedule F” as a tool that would allow a new conservative administration to circumvent job protections typically enjoyed by federal workers who aren’t politically appointed.

Speaking on the September 23 edition of The Charlie Kirk Show, Vought claimed to have reclassified 90% of the workers in his own office under that job category.

“Schedule F is an authority that we discovered and developed at the end of the Trump administration to give the president the ability to reclassify career civil servants, who normally have permanency within the bureaucracy, to turn them into essentially at-will employees,” Vought told Kirk.

When asked by Kirk how many career employees he’d like to potentially sack using this authority, Vought set the floor at 10% of current workers, but suggested that he considers as much as 80% of the federal workforce to be ideological opponents.

“I would say that within my agency, we had, you know, 80% of it was left-leaning,” Vought said. “Their paradigms were all rooted in this permanent class, ruling class that defines the milieu of Washington, D.C.”

“And you can reason and work with that crowd, but there is about a 10% of activists that are animated by the wokeism, the anti-racist movement, to be able to come into these agencies and they're just activists,” Vought added.

Vought then told Kirk that someone in the human resources department at OMB described themselves and their colleagues as “committed anti-racists.”

Kirk responded by calling that person the leader of “a sleeper cell of a woke communist ideology who's just right there within our federal government.”

“You're going to have to figure out how to solve that, I don’t know,” Kirk continued. “But ideological purity tests are an interesting approach, but let's break up the federal government first and then we'll go from there.”

In July, Axios reported on discussions Trump allies were having about staffing their next administration, with the Schedule F being central to the framework. Vought reportedly has been a leader in these efforts: As Media Matters reported a week prior to Axios’ story, Vought stated publicly that he wants to build an “army” of hard-right activists with “Biblical worldview” to run the federal agencies that he can’t outright destroy. He’s been very clear that the goal is to get “ideologically committed individuals up and down the agencies,” and he’s been similarly clear that Schedule F is the way to do it.

Right-wing propagandist Christopher Rufo – known for launching bad-faith attacks on critical race theory and targeting children’s hospitals that provide care to trans youth – has pushed for a similar course of action.

“The idea is to centralize ideological control over the federal agencies in the White House and create a team at the Office of Management and Budget to enforce it,” Rufo said in an interview with conservative website IM-1776 in July.

In furtherance of those shared goals, Vought has attempted to turn the Center for Renewing America into a shadow government-in-waiting for Trump or another conservative president. In June, Vought brought on Jeffrey Clark, a former Department of Justice environmental lawyer and Trump’s top coup architect, as senior fellow at CRA. Kash Patel, another key figure in Trump’s attempt to subvert the 2020 election, is a CRA senior fellow as well.

In the recent interview with Kirk, Vought expressed a common regret among former Trump officials that the administration wasted precious time in its first years adjusting to the steep learning curve of running the government.

“My hope is that we don’t have to do that again because we're laying the groundwork now,” Vought said, later adding, “We want to make sure that can never happen again and make sure that from day one, we can ensure that the agenda is being done.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

'Turning Point' Student Group Promotes White Nationalist Speakers

The Turning Point USA chapter at the University of Alabama has enlisted two associates of notorious white nationalist Nick Fuentes as featured event speakers on campus next month.

Fuentes is a white nationalist, Holocaust denier, and anti-Semite who attended the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection also subpoenaed Fuentes this year for his role in organizing “Stop the Steal” rallies that led to the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol in 2021.

Turning Point USA is a right-wing student organization that was co-founded by far-right pundit Charlie Kirk. The group’s upcoming event at the University of Alabama, which is scheduled for October 26 and billed as a discussion with “selections from the rising young right,” will feature Kai Schwemmer, Tyler Russell, and Brandt Wiggins, all of whom are tied to Fuentes’ “groyper” movement of young white extremists.


Schwemmer is an alt-right influencer who has espoused white nationalist views; he previously spoke alongside alt-right troll and YouTuber John Doyle during a Turning Point event in April near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus. Russell, another speaker at the event, is a Canadian white supremacist who reportedly has “the aim of securing a white ethnostate in Canada.” Wiggins, another Fuentes associate poised to speak at the event, is the vice president of the University of Alabama Turning Point chapter. Wiggins is a white nationalist, anti-Semite, and anti-LGBTQ bigot.

On Telegram, Fuentes promoted the Turning Point event:

As Political Research Associates’ Ben Lorber explained in a recent Twitter thread, groyper leaders and influencers are increasingly positioning themselves to be leaders on college campuses with the assistance of Turning Point.

Although Turning Point has attempted to distance itself from white nationalists, the University of Alabama chapter’s decision to host these speakers continues a pattern of Turning Point closely aligning with white nationalists and other far-right extremists – including Fuentes himself:

  • In 2019, a Las Vegas Turning Point leader was caught on camera uttering racial slurs and celebrating “white power!”
  • Turning Point previously listed the alt-right social media platform Gab as a sponsor for its Student Action Summit. Gab is a haven for violent white nationalists and antisemites.
  • Neo-Nazi aligned figures appeared at Turning Point’s 2021 “AmericaFest.”
  • Turning Point defended a Florida professor and chapter faculty adviser for having ties to a white nationalist organization.
  • An Iowa Turning Point chapter invited Fuentes to speak on campus in 2019, where he spoke on “preserving the ‘European texture’ of the United States.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Transforming The United States Into The Republic Of Gilead

Ever since the early morning hours of November 9, 2016, standing in a ballroom with red-hatted Trump election celebrants in the New York Hilton, I’ve been waiting for this moment. This eruption of misogyny, unlike any since perhaps the witch trials and the burnings of midwives at the stake, was only a matter of time.

As shocking, as wildly insulting as that pussy-grabber winning the presidency was to American women and girls, it was just the beginning of what appears to be a long season of sadism.

Who Let The Dogs Out?

The election of Donald Trump signaled a cutting of the chain-link fence behind which something drooling and ferocious had been waiting. Unfortunately, what most of us didn’t fully grasp then was just how powerful that force of (male) nature was. Too late we understood that it had been long licking its wounds in a dark corner gathering strength. We sensed it for years, of course, but we didn’t know just how feral and hungry it might prove to be.

Remember the things that once had the power to shock us? They seem so meh now: American voters electing to the highest office in the land someone credibly accused of sexual harassment and assault, on record advising a younger man to “grab ’em by the pussy.” And that was after a presidential campaign in which he and his supporters had showered his female (“rhymes with witch”) opponent with profane misogynistic abuse.

Soon, The Donald and his followers had normalized everyday misogyny, celebrating their leader’s tendency to reduce all women to strip-club sexual attractiveness. Mini-Trumps sprouted in lesser elected positions across the country, publicly calling elected women or those campaigning for office witches and worse. We even got used to the seating of a new rightist Supreme Court with, for added insult, one new justice credibly accused of sexual assault and another a member of a religious cult that called women “handmaidens.”

Meh, meh. That, too, it turns out, was just the beginning.

We’re now living in the after-times of all that the Trump years unleashed.

In 1991, Susan Faludi wrote a book, Backlash:The Undeclared War Against Women, chronicling the ways in which the patriarchy was then fighting to reverse the gains made by our mothers and grandmothers. They were the ones who had braved public scorn in their struggle to pull American women out of their assigned roles as pointy-bra-wearing, breathy vixens consigned to housewifery or professional lives as secretaries, nurses, or at best teachers.

Faludi was spot on, of course. Sadly, though, the backlash of the 1980s she chronicled would prove to be just a prologue. Having had it named for us, you might think we could have checked that backlash and maintained momentum toward gender equality. Who in the 1990s could have imagined a day when elected men in at least 25 states would be legally enabled to force raped women to give birth or prevent doctors from performing procedures to save women likely to die of pregnancy? Who could have predicted the level of hatred toward women embodied in those very statutes and openly spoken of without shame or hesitation by elected leaders?

Obviously, we should have known better.

The change that felt so natural to those of us who came of age between 1970 and the turn of the century was not natural to them. Not even faintly. Never in recorded history had there been such an upending of patriarchal power as in the years when we grew up. We tend to take it all for granted, but the challenge to male power from the successes of second-wave feminism (and access to birth-control options) was indeed unique.

The facts speak for themselves: A majority of women now work outside the home, and we outnumber men in college attendance, too — signaling even greater numbers of women who should be able to rely economically on themselves instead of male partners. American women were enabled to escape lives of utter dependence on men, precisely because we had access to contraceptives and abortion, and for the first time in history were able to control if, when, and with whom we would bear children.

All that represented serious, deeply meaningful change. It altered the way young women and young men interacted, sexually and socially. Admittedly, we are still far from parity. The development of Silicon Valley, another economic revolution like the industrial one, created a new flood of male-only economic dynasties that once again shut out women (who weren’t wives) from the upper reaches of the economy. But the trend lines in general were upending eons of power relations between men and women at the most intimate, domestic level.

It was only a matter of time — and we should have known it — before such advances provoked the beast. The election of Donald Trump provided a green light for the release of sick, dark fantasies of revenge and a resurgence of the apparently ineradicable urge among some men to rule women utterly and completely.

The Predator’s Ball

I’ve always found the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale to be unwatchable, misogynistic torture porn. As a young English major in the 1980s, I read Margaret Atwood’s novel. I understood it then as a dystopic satire on the theocratic woman-controlling impulses already bubbling up around the edges of American society, which that Canadian writer had creatively taken to their logical conclusion.

The streaming series, however, was something else. The graphic and repeated scenes of actress Elisabeth Moss’s subjection as Offred, including the rapes and various bloody mutilations and punishments visited on her and her sister handmaidens, all converged into a category of visual titillation that went straight to the amygdala. I could imagine men who didn’t find such visual crap as impossible to watch as I did.

The fact that the producers were men had, I’m sure, something to do with the tone.

But today, the horror is this: it’s not confined to a Hulu series anymore. The extreme right in American politics is openly working off the playbook of Atwood’s fictional Republic of Gilead. Its urge is to construct an all-American theocracy in which the Old Testament Biblical rights of men to control women as reproductive chattel are restored to them.

There was a time not that long ago when American women could assume our foes were safely isolated in pockets of lunacy like Missouri, where 2012 Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin famously suggested that rape can sometimes prevent pregnancy. Another example: Nevada, where a 2010 anti-abortion Tea Party candidate explained her “no exceptions for incest” position by suggesting that girls impregnated by their own fathers should remember that “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

We laughed at them then. But the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has emboldened those freaks to leave their hidey-holes and, as Dr. Phil might put it, open up about their true feelings.

Let’s start with Charlie Kirk, Jr., the co-founder of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), which exists mainly to bus conservative college students to fill seats at Trump rallies or form media-attracting long lines to shake hands with Marjorie Taylor Greene and harass progressive college professors.

Kirk has a podcast and a massive social media following. On June 24, in the giddy aftermath of the Roe decision, he gushed about his feelings to his 1.7 million Twitter followers this way (italics mine): “Notice who is marching in the streets: single, unmarried, mostly white, college educated women. Frankly it’s foolish to call conservatives racist — who we actually can’t stand are angry, liberal, white women.”

He was probably disappointed when he only garnered 6,860 likes.

Kirk and his fellow travelers seem to be engaged in a competition to revile women. A few months before Roe was overturned, former NFL football player and Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Minnesota Matt Birk actually got a twofer by slamming working women and supporting rapists simultaneously. Abortion rights, he said, lead to working women who then “go to the rape card” if abortion is restricted. He added: “It’s not over. Our culture loudly but also stealthily promotes abortion. Telling women they should look a certain way, have careers, all these things.”

Have careers, and all these things.

At Charlie Kirk’s recent TPUSA convention in Tampa, Florida, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz brayed to a roomful of young men and women this way: “Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.” (Try to imagine the pasted-on cheerleader smiles of the women in his audience listening to that.)

Who cares about words, though, when sticks and stones — and laws — actually break our bones (or cause us to bleed to death)? Straight from the Gilead playbook, the theocrats are trying to force women who need abortions to stay within the restrictive borders of their states. You don’t even need to imagine how closely this tracks with scenes in Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale. A liberal/left-leaning political advocacy group, Meidas Touch, has created a little video clip to help you see it all too graphically.

In the past few weeks alone:

Texas Attorney General and indicted securities fraudster Ken Paxton sued the federal government to stop the implementation of the Biden administration’s requirement that abortions be performed in case of emergency, when the life of a mother is at stake. Texas is officially on record now, working in the courts to make sure women likely to die of pregnancy actually do so.

Idaho Republicans rejected a measure to allow a life-saving abortion. The man behind the proposal to criminalize all abortions from the moment of conception, Scott Herndon, is running unopposed for a state senate seat. He called it a “declaration of the right to life for reborn children.”

Or look to Texas again for proof that “pro-life” care for the “pre-born” child is a lie and not the real reason for the race to control uteri. A recent Texas Tribune/ProPublica investigation revealed that ironclad anti-abortion Texas is one of just a few states that doesn’t allow Medicaid coverage for a full year after a poor woman gives birth. How caring!

Democratic and progressive strategists and speechwriters don’t have to look far to find outrageous anecdotes. When President Biden mentioned a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion, the rightwing info-silo, including the Wall Street Journal, promptly cast doubt on the very existence of the child and the rape. When the alleged rapist was arrested, theocrats continued to offer up treacly, sick excuses, dripping with sanctimony, for why even children should be forced to give birth.

“She would have had the baby and, as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child,” pro-life lawyer and former Indiana deputy attorney general Jim Bopp typically told Politico. He was, of course, speaking of that 10 year-old whose medical care he would have wanted to prohibit in his state.

Reports of the post-Roe effects of care withheld are starting to hit the national news, with bleeding women and those with deadly infections having to wait for legal analyses or travel to distant places to find doctors. As one physician who narrowly saved the life of a miscarrying woman in Texas (having had to wait for the fetal heartbeat to finally stop) put it: “The patient developed complications, required surgery, lost multiple liters of blood, and had to be put on a breathing machine.” Her life was indeed saved, but in our new post-Roe world, barely.

The Disunited States Of Pro-Choice

There is no doubt in my mind (nor in Margaret Atwood’s) that we’re now witnessing a real-life attempt to construct her once-fictional Republic of Gilead in our country. It will be complete with forced birth and rape as a means of master-race reproduction — plus lots and lots of female blood.

On the upside, the insane depredations, verbal and legal, being visited on women in these post-Roe months have already handed the Democrats a wealth of material from which to craft effective messages and potentially gain an edge in the coming midterm elections. The question is: Does the party have the will and skill to do it? If past is prologue, we can’t be sure.

For too long, the onus has been on women to figure out how to protect themselves from fanatical political misogyny. For example, when it comes to abortion, feminist activists have long urged women to “tell” their stories. Some are now bemoaning the fact that not enough of us did so before the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

The logic here is that if more women talked openly about their experiences, we would “normalize” that procedure. But is that true? Why should women have to “share” personal information in order to sustain our privacy, a right we actually possess, whether secured by law or not?

Our abortion stories couldn’t convert Justice Amy Coney Barrett or deter any other fanatical fetal rights activists from their appointed task before Roe was overturned. And why, in any case, should women ever have to discuss personal reproductive options and decisions outside a doctor’s office?

There is one exception. Survivors of illegal abortions do a service to the cause by sharing these stories. I recommend, for instance, French writer Annie Ernaux’s book The Happening, a short chronicle of her botched back-alley abortion in Paris in 1964. That bloody, terrifying account ranks with the most harrowing war stories ever written.

When abortion is relegated to dirty back rooms, women’s bodies become literal combat zones. The most resonant line among many comes when Ernaux describes the searing pain of a fake doctor inserting a tube into her uterus to start the process. “At that point I killed my mother inside me,” she writes.

A legion of organizations is now coalescing to assist women who will need abortions in the half of America where they’ll be faced with the same horrific choice Ernaux survived. (Some of those efforts are aggregated here and here.)

Doctors, to their credit, seem to be stepping up for women. The American Medical Association (AMA) issued a strong statement opposing the politicization of reproductive medicine. Its president, Jack Resneck, has warned lawmakers of the challenges they’re creating for doctors. The problem is, it might not matter. Like the American Bar Association’s declining influence in the selection of federal judges — unprecedented numbers of Trump’s appointees were deemed unqualified by that group — the AMA has limited influence in a world where significant numbers of the info-silo’ed believe Covid-19 is a hoax and the vaccines for it contain tracking microchips.

Politically, doctors aren’t going to save us anyway. For too long, even at the greatest women’s march of my adult lifetime, the anti-Trump protest in Washington on January 17, 2017, women have presented a disunited front. The history of the fracturing of the women’s movement is long and sad. Discussions of it are fraught territory, mined with political IEDs that I’d rather avoid. I’ll only say this: Why is it that Congress instantly got moving on the gay marriage law after Roe was overturned (and yes, I’m for it!), when it can’t even get the basics for women passed in the federal Women’s Health Protection act. (The Senate has blocked it twice already.)

The answer, at least in part: advocacy solely for women is always easier to defeat than advocacy for issues that also involve men.

Furthermore, we’re weakened from the inside. As Pamela Paul pointed out in a controversial post-Roe New York Times op-ed on the erasing of women, even Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the ACLU have stopped using the word “women” in discussing abortion in favor of phrases like “pregnant people” or “birthing people.” That the very definition of women is now added to decades of the slicing and dicing of women’s groups into narrower and narrower subdivisions of identity only weakens the movement.

It’s true that heterosexual white women are historically privileged over women of color or of different sexual orientations. But if we can’t even agree that all “women” are ultimately people born with a uterus — a subset of human beings who, whatever our differences in terms of class, race, or ethnicity, share the utterly exceptional, unique challenge of being impregnable — we are going to lose this war.

Copyright 2022 Nina Burleigh

Nina Burleigh is an American political journalist and the author of seven books. Her latest is Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and the Hijacking of America's Response to the Pandemic (an updated paperback version was published in July by Seven Stories Press), a real-life thriller that delves into the official malfeasance behind America’s pandemic chaos and the triumph of science in an era of conspiracy theories and contempt for experts.

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

Rittenhouse's Preordained Acquittal Will Inflame More Right-Wing Violence

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

We may have an answer for the right-wing "civil war" devotee who asked Charlie Kirk the other week: "When do we get to start using the guns?" Judging from the way the trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is proceeding—and from the way right-wing pundits and politicians are responding—this week, the answer is: The day teenager Kyle Rittenhouse is inevitably acquitted for murdering two men at a Black Lives Matter protest last summer.

Rittenhouse's acquittal is largely a foregone conclusion. And not because the evidence points to his innocence—Rittenhouse did, after all, kill a mentally ill man whose only acts of aggression included shouting at him, flinging a plastic bag with his personal effects in them, and reaching for his gun. On the other hand, the prosecution's case has been a mixed bag at best—but more because the judge in the case, Bruce Schroeder, has placed his thumb so heavily on the scales of justice here, often in plain view. More broadly, however, right-wing political figures and extremists discussing the matter on social media are not merely defending Rittenhouse but valorizing him, holding up his murderous acts as heroic vigilantism, and demanding that other like-minded "patriots" follow in his footsteps.

It's a recipe for an outbreak of eliminationist violence directed at "the left"—who these right-wing ideologues define broadly as "antifa," Black Lives Matter, socialists, anti-police protesters, and for that matter merely liberal Democrats who support President Joe Biden. The day when the jury declares Rittenhouse innocent will become a beacon for the radical right, a giant flashing green light signaling permission to begin "using their guns," telling them their long-awaited day to "begin killing these people" without consequence or compunction has finally arrived.

We know this because that is not only what they have been telling themselves in the runup to the trial, but it's what they and their Republican enablers are now shouting from the rooftops. Leading the parade on Twitter was Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance of Ohio, who posted a video ranting about the trial and denouncing the prosecutor for even filing charges against Rittenhouse:

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for us as patriots to stand up. Because if you don't fight back against the lawlessness, if we don't defend this young boy who defended his community when no one else was doing it, it may very well be your baby boy that they come for. It'll be your children whose life they try to destroy when no one else is defending their communities."

Vance repeatedly described Rittenhouse as someone who was "defending his community," even though he did not live in Kenosha, but in Illinois. He also repeatedly described the prosecutor as a "lawless thug" who was "trying to destroy his life."

The trial itself, Vance contended, represented a societal sickness: "We leave our boys without fathers. We let the wolves set fire to their communities. And when human nature tells them to go and defend what no one else is defending, we bring the full weight of the state and the global monopolists against them."

Tucker Carlson, who had adamantly defended Rittenhouse immediately after the shootings, continued in the same vein, blaming the violence on the "radicals" who were "burning down cities" and extolling the virtues of vigilantism as a natural consequence. He also claimed the Rittenhouse has "already won his case," then observed that "if you take a step back from the Rittenhouse story, you see something else entirely, you see violent insanity completely out of control in the middle of an American city. And the question is how did that happen in our country and why did nobody stop it?"

"The question, then, is how exactly are we surprised when a 17-year-old lifeguard from Illinois decides to step in?" Carlson concluded, sounding ominously like Charlie Kirk's interlocutor. "They hate it when you say that, but it's an entirely fair question. When legitimate authority refuses to do its duty, its sworn duty, others will fill the vacuum. That is always true. It's a physics principle."

And it has been from the outset. At far-right Proud Boys rallies rallies that followed the Kenosha shootings, participants began showing up wearing T-shirts declaring "Kyle Rittenhouse Did Nothing Wrong," and extolling his murders: "The Tree of Liberty Must Be Refreshed From Time to Time With the Blood of Commies," read the back of one.

Far-right Twitter maven and Gateway Pundit writer Cassandra Fairbanks retweeted an admirer's post after Rittenhouse's arrest: "I don't give a fuck anymore. I gone full Cassandra. Kill all the idiots violently terrorizing our towns. If the white suprematist [cq] do it then they're more useful than elected officials."

"Yeah," responded Fairbanks, "I'm literally just sitting here like … maybe some people will think twice about rioting tomorrow."

The primary source of their permission for violence is the eliminationist narrative the right has concocted about antifa and Black Lives Matter, concocted out of ideological and racial hysteria and conspiracy theories, depicting them as a demonic threat to the American republic. This narrative has become extraordinarily widespread, as well as deeply imbedded into the nation's political discourse, thanks largely to its constant repetition both by leading Republicans—notably Donald Trump—as well as "mainstream" right-wing media like Fox News.

We saw during jury selection for the federal civil lawsuit trial against the lethal 2017 "Unite the Right" rally organizers in Charlottesville that this wildly distorted view of "the left" has spread deeply enough to affect jury pools as well as court proceedings. In the Rittenhouse trial, it's become clear that not only the jury may be affected, but so is the judge overseeing the proceedings, Bruce Schroeder.

Schroeder, as Will Bunch explored on Twitter and at the Philadelphia Inquirer, has a troubling history of pushing "law and order" politics in his courtroom, as well as indulging in dubious courtroom behavior and head-scratching rulings. He already had informed attorneys in the case that they could not describe the three men as "victims," but would permit defense attorneys to describe them as "looters," "rioters," or "arsonists," even though none of the three were ever accused of those crimes.

This week, Schroeder also:

  • Called on the court to applaud a defense witness, who was there to testify that Rittenhouse was justified in taking two lives, for being a veteran. Schroeder, noting that it was Veterans Day, asked if anyone in the court was a veteran; when witness John Black said he was, Schroeder called for the court to applaud him. Jurors joined in on the applause.
  • Rejected video of Rittenhouse shooting one of his victims, claiming the using Apple's zoom functions might distort the image. "iPads, which are made by Apple, have artificial intelligence in them that allow things to be viewed through three-dimensions and logarithms," defense attorneys insisted. "It uses artificial intelligence, or their logarithms, to create what they believe is happening. So this isn't actually enhanced video, this is Apple's iPad programming creating what it thinks is there, not what necessarily is there." Schroeder agreed.
  • Kept forgetting to silence his phone, whose ringtone is the Lee Greenwood song "God Bless the USA." The song is the anthem of the tea party/"Patriot" right, and is used at Trump rallies as his entrance theme.
  • Refused to permit prosecutors to ask defense witness Drew Hernandez, a pseudo-journalist who specializes in filming and posting misleadingly edited videos about antifascists and anti-police protesters, about his work for former Trump adviser Steve Bannon's Real America's Voice network. Hernandez also was present at the January 6 insurrection inside the Capitol, before which he had spoken at the "Stop the Steal" rally, telling the crowd: "We punch back, we fight back. Because we will not go down without a fight. We will not go down without bloodshed. If they want a second civil war, then they got one. I will fight to the very last breath." Schroeder ruled that the jury could not learn about his background because "this is not a political trial."
  • Tried to make a joke to the court, after the jury had filed out, about the lunch that had been ordered that day: "I hope the Asian food isn't coming … isn't on one of those boats from Long Beach Harbor." (The joke went over the heads of everyone who wasn't a regular viewer of Fox News, which has repeatedly run stories about supply chain issues for Asian goods coming in to Long Beach—issues that in fact are primarily the result of Donald Trump's trade wars with China and other nations.)

Most legal observers have observed that the trial's outcome is a foregone conclusion, and many believe the primary blame lies with Schroeder and his handling of the proceedings—particularly how he has intervened at every juncture when the prosecutor has trapped Rittenhouse in a lie. Some observers describe this style as "pro-defense"—which is consistent with the judge's record—but family members of the victims surrounding the Kenosha unrest are outraged.

"It seems like he's aiming to let this man out of this courthouse scot-free and we're not going to let that happen," Justin Blake, the uncle of Jacob Blake, whose shooting by a police officer sparked the Kenosha protests, told The Washington Post. "If it happens, we're not going to be quiet about it."

Right-wing extremists are already stepping up their threatening behavior, and doing so with apparent confidence that they will face no consequences for doing so. A militia group called the Kenosha Strong Patriots posted the name, photo, and home address of Rittenhouse's chief prosecutor on Telegram. A participant disingenuously claimed: "This is absolutely not an encouragement to violence. Just would be nice to see a peaceful protest outside his home like the left does every time they don't like something."

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post observes that the embrace of Rittenhouse's vigilantism is occurring in the context of a general absorption of a violent ethos into the fabric of the Republican Party, which includes their ongoing valorization of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and Congressman Paul Gosar's recent anime video portraying a fantasy in which he kills his Democratic colleague.

Carlson's Fox News colleague, Greg Gutfeld, similarly chimed in that "all Rittenhouse did was to fill the void that the government left open."

"Those two people should never ever should have been out on the streets and it forced citizens to become the police," Gutfeld said.

Other right-wing pundits valorized Rittenhouse as a youth role model. As Kristen Doerer reports at Flux, one of these is Ed Martin, president of Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, who devoted an extended rant on his podcast to defending the teenager.

"And my point here in setting that up is Kyle Rittenhouse was a completely—his conduct was completely consistent with what Americans should do," Martin wrote. "Stand up for the property, stand up for their towns, stand up for what's happening. He is a hero—that's true. Kyle Rittenhouse is a hero. Kyle Rittenhouse should be regarded as someone who did the right things."

Moreover, his example is worthy of emulation, Martin opined: "He stepped up in a way that was, frankly, it was much more, it was much more worthy of praise than the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans that sat home and watched cities burn."

These themes have been the right's primary argument in support of Rittenhouse's murders since he was arrested. Moreover, the undercurrent in all of these arguments is to create permission for right-wing "patriots" ginned up on right-wing propaganda to act out their shared violent fantasies.

What Charlie Kirk's Potential Venues And Sponsors Need To Know

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

At an event this week in Boise, Idaho, right-wing commentator and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk was asked a friendly question by an audience member: "When do we get to use the guns?" the audience member said, even further adding that this was "not a joke." He asked: "I mean, literally, where's the line? How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?"

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At Idaho Event, Far Rightist Asks 'When Do We Kill These People?'

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The politics of eliminationism—in which ordinary democratic discourse is replaced by the constant drumbeat of demonization that depicts one's political opponents as inhuman objects fit only for extermination—has been growing steadily in America for well over a decade, reaching a fever pitch during Donald Trump's tenure in the White House.
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How Right-Wing Media Greased Path For Trump’s Coup Attempt

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

The Atlantic staff writer Adam Serwer has a must-read new piece, "Trump's Plans for a Coup Are Now Public," really examining the scope of former President Donald Trump's multiple attempts to overthrow the results of the 2020 election.

Putting these pieces together becomes especially important in light of the newly revealed memo by Trump attorney John Eastman, who proposed that Vice President Mike Pence should have unilaterally refused to count Joe Biden's Electoral College votes — or even have just declared Trump the winner — at the joint session of Congress on January 6.

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‘Conservative Pornstar’ Disrupts Trumpist Youth Conference

Zachary Petrizzo

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Turning Point USA, the right-wing youth student organization led by Charlie Kirk, found itself in an unusual controversy Saturday night after "conservative pornstar" Brandi Love was allowed into a Florida conference and welcomed as an "Adult VIP," sparking backlash.

The drama began early in the night when the adult entertainer's presence in Tampa was first discovered by a follower of white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes and former Kansas State student Jaden McNeil, who wrote on Telegram, "Turning Point USA has a pornstar as a VIP at their Student Action Summit."

"Imagine sending your kids to this conference think they're gonna learn about Christian Conservative values, and they come home with photos with pornstars," he added, attaching a photo of Love snapping a picture with a TPUSA attendee.

Quickly thereafter, white nationalist "groypers" began to approach Love both in person at the event and feverishly online, hurling insults again and again at the adult star.

After a while, more mainstream conservative figures and student activists began to join in as well, calling out Turning Point USA for the alleged misstep. "A new low for TPUSA. Zero class left in that organization," Liberty University student Carley Dehnisch said. Right-wing writer Alec Sears penned, "Absolutely fucking speechless that 'conservative' org TPUSA has invited an actual porn star to a conference that minors attend." Young America's Foundation (YAF) intern Jacob Porwisz wrote, "Great job TPUSA, for inviting a porn star to their conference that features kids under 17; very conservative of them!"

Reached for comment by Salon, TPUSA spokesperson Andrew Kolvet declined to comment on the drama. Shortly thereafter, Love was banned from the gathering.

"We regret to inform you that your SAS 2021 invitation has been revoked," an email from TPUSA stated, posted to Twitter by the adult entertainer. "This decision is final. This revocation does not impact application to future events, and we hope that you will consider applying again in the future."

However, Love wasn't buying it and said the Republican Party is "broken" due to TPUSA officials giving her the boot. "Can't make this shit up lol!! I just watched Charlie Kirk, Dan Bongino, Rick Scott, Kat Timpf, speak about freedom, censorship, how inclusive the 'movement' is," she stated. "And then they had me thrown out of the Turning Point USA conference. The Republican Party is broken."

While many right-wingers cheered the ban on Love, an unlikely opposition force led by Federalist co-founder and frequent Fox News guest Ben Domenech also emerged: "I'm disappointed that TPUSA kicked out Brandi Love for no reason whatsoever. She's a Florida conservative businesswoman who loves America," he tweeted. "The right has an opportunity to be the big tent party. Don't be a bunch of prudes."

As of Sunday morning, the ban remained.

Turning Point USA is no stranger to such type of controversy, as back in December of 2020, the organization came under fire during their Student Action Conference in Palm Beach, Florida, over Bang Energy's "Bang Girls" blasting free cash into the crowd of college and high school students.

Following publication, factions on the right emerged over TPUSA's decision to ban Love. Notably, New York Post opinion editor and event speaker Sohrab Ahmari agreed with the move, tweeting, "Here at the TPUSA Student Action Summit, and I'm proud of Charlie Kirk and his team for revoking the pass of a pornstar who'd signed up as an adult attendee. There are kids as young as 15 here."