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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: donald trump

Fox News Covered Trump's Call To Trash The Constitution For One Minute

Fox News is all but ignoring former President Donald Trump’s call for the “termination” of constitutional law and his restoration to the White House in order to keep its viewers focused on 26-month-old Twitter moderation decisions.

“Do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION?” Trump wrote in a Saturday Truth Social post in response to a new report on Twitter’s content moderation during the 2020 election. “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”

Trump’s nakedly authoritarian statement drew criticism from Democrats and even some Republicans. But Fox has spent just over one minute on the story as of posting on Monday, according to a Media Matters review.

Fox host Howard Kurtz first mentioned the story on the Sunday edition of his Media Buzz show. After reading Trump’s remark, he commented, “A lot of media criticism on that — you can make up your own mind.” Fox also devoted a pair of headline reads to the story on Sunday night. The network’s only reference thus far on Monday came when Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy mentioned in passing what he termed the former president’s “crazy” comment.

To reiterate, this is a former president of the United States and the front-runner to be the Republican Party’s nominee in 2024 calling for the overthrow of the democratic order to either somehow have himself named the “RIGHTFUL WINNER” and returned to office or to have a new election. And Fox, a network that regularly and falsely claims that various Democrats are destroying the Constitution, does not care.

What’s going on here? The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro provided a clue in a Monday morning Twitter thread. The anti-anti-Trump conservative argued that Trump’s call to suspend the Constitution was “a perfect example of jumping on a rake with both feet,” because the former president “allowed the Democrats and the media to avoid the #TwitterFiles story entirely by redirecting to Trump’s spoken authoritarianism.” Trump’s real sins, in this telling, are “strategic ineptitude” and “political malpractice.”

Fox’s right-wing propagandists are more disciplined than Trump. Rather than getting sidetracked into a discussion of the former president’s call to overturn the democratic election of his opponent, they all prefer to talk about content moderation that took place on a middle-tier social media platform more than two years ago. Unfortunately for them, there’s not much to their story.

Trump had been responding to “The Twitter Files,” journalist Matt Taibbi’s Friday report based on internal documents he obtained from right-wing icon Elon Musk about the company’s decision to suppress posts linking to an October 2020 New York Post story about Joe Biden’s adult son, Hunter Biden, in the weeks before the presidential election. The story was based on what the Post described as a copy of the hard drive of a laptop that had belonged to Hunter Biden and had been provided to the paper by Rudy Giuliani, at the time Trump’s personal lawyer. (This was after Giuliani collaborated with a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch, disgraced Ukrainian prosecutors, and con men on the disinformation campaign that led to Trump’s first impeachment, but before Giuliani’s recitation of numerous voter fraud conspiracy theories laid the groundwork for the January 6 insurrection and Trump’s second impeachment; the Post’s corporate cousins at The Wall Street Journal and Fox had already passed on the story “over credibility concerns.”)

Taibbi did not establish the involvement of any government entity in Twitter’s decision, though he did report that both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign had sent deletion requests the company had “honored.” Political campaigns frequently ask Twitter to take down posts that violate its rules; with regard to the Post story, the tweets the Biden campaign wanted removed — remember, at the time Donald Trump was president — included nude photos of Hunter Biden. From this thin gruel, the likes of Musk and Fox star Tucker Carlson have concocted what the latter described as “a systemic violation of the First Amendment, the largest example of that in modern history.”

Twitter’s decision to restrict the Post story is ultimately a sideshow. The platform’s content moderation decisions did not keep the story from public discussion. Anyone who was interested in Hunter Biden in October 2020 could find plenty of reporting in major newspapers, on TV, in digital news outlets, and on social media platforms — including Twitter. What frustrated Republicans who sought Trump’s reelection is that much of that reporting was properly skeptical and contextualized.

The right-wing press, from the Murdochs on down, had hoped that mainstream journalists would credulously run with their narrative, make the Hunter Biden story a central facet of the closing days of the election, and carry Trump to victory. They had reason to be optimistic — the very same strategy succeeded in 2016, when the mainstream press closed out the campaign by fixating on Hillary Clinton email pseudo-scandals. But their effort failed in 2020, Trump was turned out of office, and they’ve never been able to get over it.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Trump's Latest Outburst Against The Constitution Stinks Of Fear

I monitor and analyze Donald Trump's ongoing assault on our democracy, among other salient topics. To continue following my peregrinations as I cover this miscreant, please consider becoming a paid Substack subscriber and help me find my way.

You have no doubt heard by now that over the weekend, on his Truth Social network, Donald Trump called for “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” because he lost the election for president. He wants to be declared the “RIGHTFUL WINNER,” or “have a NEW ELECTION.” The all-caps are his, and of course what Trump is calling for is a coup. To “terminate” the Constitution would be to overthrow the laws and the government of the United States and replace the whole thing with a dictator, namely, himself.

For all the things that he isn’t, Donald Trump is a politician, and he can not only read the polls, he has shown he’s pretty good at reading the electorate, a different thing entirely from polls, which are a stilted snapshot of opinion among voters at a single instant in time. Trump doesn’t want to run for president again, because he lost the last time, and he’s looking around, and he’s afraid he’ll lose again. That’s what the Saturday eruption on his social network was about: fear. He’s becoming increasingly irrelevant, and for Donald Trump, that is a fate worse than death. He realizes after two years out of office that you can still be famous and yet slip into a state where your fame and even your presence on earth begins to cease to matter.

Who does Trump matter to at this point? He matters to Republican voters, who political experts are beginning to slice and dice into MAGA, MAGA-adjacent, old establishment, and never-Trumpers. But his voters didn’t do so wonderfully in the midterms, a fact that has doubtlessly not gone unnoticed by the man who endorsed so many of the Republican Party’s losers. The headlines are about Gov. Ron DeSantis and the street-fight over who will be the next Speaker of the House and the war in Ukraine and China’s continuing struggle with the disease that was spawned within its borders. Could Trump be feeling just a tad left out of the national conversation?

It’s interesting, isn’t it, to see what bothers the Prisoner of Mar-a-Lago as he finds himself in mid-fade from relevance. He is sufficiently bored down there in his gilded cage that he invited two Nazi sympathizers to dinner recently, apparently figuring that would get himself some attention. It did, of course, and it was exactly the kind he wanted, because it lit a tiny fire under the collective ass of the Washington press corps, sending them to their phones and even into the halls of the Congress to ask every elected official they could find what they thought of Trump dining with Nazis. Trump is ever in the mode that he began in 50 years ago in New York City, that any publicity is good publicity. If the question on everybody’s mind is Trump and his favorite Nazis, well, at least they’re spelling his name right.

Lately, Trump has found himself mattering a whole lot to some powerful judges who he appointed to their seats but who have ruled against him repeatedly in his flailing lawsuits trying to stop the DOJ investigation of the various crimes he has been accused of committing – trying to overthrow the last election, inciting the assault on the Capitol, and his theft and mishandling of classified documents after he left office. Trump has lost one appeal after another, and now “his” special master, appointed by “his” Judge Aileen Cannon, is being dismissed, and everything seized at Mar-a-Lago by the FBI has been returned to the man who now oversees the prosecution, Jack Smith, a name that’s got to be keeping him up at night.

And Trump seems to matter a whole lot to Elon Musk, who has been doing everything he can think of to get him back on Twitter, including hiring a prominent contrarian journalist to exhume the Hunter Biden laptop story from the vaults of Twitter and splash it across the platform in a long series of tweets that had to have caught Trump’s attention.

In fact, most stories about Trump’s demand that the Constitution be terminated say the Hunter Biden laptop story was what was behind his explosion on Truth Social yesterday. I think that’s less likely than Trump’s panic as the jaws of law enforcement close on him. After all, he sees getting back into the White House as the only way he could avoid jail: he could pardon himself.

My first thought when I decided to write this column was to title it, “There ought to be a law,” you know, against this kind of shit. But there shouldn’t be. There can’t be, because it would violate the very Constitution we’re trying to protect from the likes of Trump. Besides, the anti-war movement back in the 60’s and 70’s was guilty, if that’s the right word, of calling for the downfall of the government because of the crimes the United States was committing in Southeast Asia. I recall a lot of “there ought to be a law” talk back then about the calls of the Left for the overthrow of the government, and it was all from the Right, from Nixon’s people, the apologists for the war.

As outrageous as Trump’s anti-democratic talk is, it’s legal. Calling for a violent overthrow of the government is, however sedition, the crime two leaders of the Oath Keepers were convicted of this week. Trump may be a seditionist in his heart, but he’s carefully not one in his public words.

I think maybe the way to react to Trump’s latest attack on our democracy is to recognize how desperate and afraid he is. That someone would be calling for the destruction of something, a constitutional government in this case, at the same time he is calling for himself to be installed as its leader, is absurd on its face. He’s yelling into the void at this point, but if there is a lesson to be learned from the last six years, we ignore the unhinged cries of this monster at our peril. He sounds weak and pathetic, which he is, but he’s still a danger to the Republic. The Oath Keepers haven’t gone away, the Proud Boys haven’t gone away, and his MAGA hordes are always listening.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.

The Rot In The Republican Party Goes Much Deeper Than Trump

For anyone who wants to understand why Nazis like Kanye West and Nick Fuentes so brazenly spew their hatred, it is not enough to blame their dinner host, former President Donald Trump — although he bears enormous responsibility for the fascist surge of recent years. While the former president has long felt free to exploit hatred as a political tool, encouraging the racists and antisemites who revere him, he is far from alone.

What might once have been little more than a temporary embarrassment has become a deadly trend because Republican leaders have accepted and even embraced Trump's Nazi-coddling attitude. Their mumbling answers to questions about him, his buddy "Ye," and the raging little bigot Fuentes have exposed their complicity — as when they pretend to rebuke anti-semitism without daring to mention Trump's name.

Indeed, the politicians who currently wield the most influence in the GOP, such as Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — along with many if not all of their friends in the so-called House Freedom Caucus — are just as eager to weaponize hate as Trump himself. Greene herself is notorious for promoting conspiracy theories about Jews, as well as for her own grinning dalliance with Fuentes.

On the day after West avowed his love for Hitler in an online interview, Jordan's House Judiciary Committee account finally took down a tweet that implicitly lionized him, Trump and Elon Musk (who is fast becoming an ally of white supremacists and neo-Nazis while tweeting puerile Hitler-coded "jokes" on Twitter).

So far neither Jordan nor anyone who works for him has tried to explain why that tweet escaped deletion for almost two months. But it seems obvious that for the "Freedom Caucus," sidling up to bigots is an active strategy.

Not all Republicans have taken this repugnant path, of course. Aside from Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, staunch anti-fascists who have been driven out of their party for opposing Trump, a few others have spoken out forthrightly, including Sens. Mitt Romney and Bill Cassidy. But others prominent in the party, notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, are silent and complicit.

Yet the most culpable, aside from Trump and his circle of miscreants, is Kevin McCarthy, the would-be House speaker. It is McCarthy whose ambition has enabled the Republican Party's most sinister elements — and his surrender to evil is magnified by the fact that he once behaved quite differently.

When McCarthy ascended to the top party leadership position, one of his first acts was to discipline Rep. Steve King, the Nazi-friendly Iowa Republican who had disgraced himself and the GOP. In January 2019 McCarthy instantly stripped King of his committee posts as punishment for his sickening white nationalist rhetoric, which he denounced as "nothing... associated with America." He was quite pleased to hear the compliments of those who had excoriated his predecessor, Paul Ryan, for giving King a pass. And soon enough, King was gone.

Now, however, McCarthy is poised not only to restore the committee posts stripped from Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar — another Nazi-coddler who has raised money for Fuentes — but he has promised to promote them.

Clearly, McCarthy once knew how to defend the rapidly diminishing decency of his party but no longer will. And the rot within the Republican Party goes even deeper, as he and the Freedom Caucus threaten U.S. support for Ukraine against Vladimir Putin's Kremlin. It is no accident, as the former occupants of that edifice liked to say, that Putin is a sponsor of Nazi and fascist formations around the world, while pretending to "fight Nazism" in beleaguered Ukraine.

The rot within the Republican Party is broad and deep. Harbor no illusions about the sincerity of its leaders when they denounce a disposable stooge like Kanye West. They cannot be relied upon to defend liberty against its murderous enemies.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Trump Urges 'Termination' Of Constitution Over 2020 Election 'Fraud'

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday morning raged on his anti-Twitter app Truth Social about non-existent "fraud and deception" in the November 8th midterm elections – and he proposed scrapping the United States Constitution as a means to reinstall himself into the presidency. Trump also called for a do-over of the race that he lost in a landslide to President Joe Biden.

"So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution," Trump "truthed."

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in either the 2020 or 2022 elections, let alone that which was pervasive enough to affect the results.

"Our great 'Founders' did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!" Trump added. The authors of the Constitution – many of whom were traffickers of enslaved human beings – only wanted white male landowners to vote.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Trump: I'll Have The Loser Combo Plate And A Diet Coke, Please

What follows is my umpteenth-plus report on the Trump stolen documents case. To continue following my peregrinations through the courts covering this nonsense, please consider becoming a paid Substack subscriber and help me find my way.

This is what it sounds like when a Circuit Court of Appeals slams the door on you: “The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so.”

The decision that came down on Thursday night against Donald Trump by the 11th Circuit was unanimous. Before the court’s recent decisions against him, Trump would have described the two judges on the panel he had appointed to the bench as “mine,” the same way he described as “mine” the hundreds of classified documents he had squirreled away in a dank basement of Mar-a-Lago and in a drawer of his own desk. In its 21-page decision, the 11th Circuit all but told him, no they’re not, and no we’re not.

I’ve been down the various rabbit holes the DOJ and the 11th Circuit have wandered through because a single federal judge in Florida, the execrable Eileen Cannon, took it upon herself to step out of her judicial robes and take on what is constitutionally the job of the executive branch, namely, making decisions about whether to undertake an investigation of a citizen for committing a federal crime. Cannon figured she knew better than the attorney general of the United States, whose job it is to investigate federal crimes, so she threw a series of roadblocks in front of the Department of Justice, which was attempting to determine why in God’s name Donald Trump had taken some 22,000 documents owned by the federal government to his home and office in Palm Beach, Florida, and what he did with them.

Judge Cannon put a hold on the DOJ’s use of the documents, all 22,000 of them, as evidence in its investigation, and turned them over to a special master in Brooklyn, of all places, to review the whole lot of them to see if any were subject to either attorney-client or executive privilege protections.

The DOJ quickly got the 11th Circuit to step in and remove from the special master review the hundreds of classified documents found in the possession of the former president by pointing out the obvious: They have markings on them bearing several levels of classification by the federal government which clearly labeled them as property of the government. The DOJ’s second appeal, asking that the entire process of the special master review be halted and all of the documents returned to its investigation, is the one which the 11th Circuit ruled on Thursday night. To put it mildly, it wasn’t a good night for Judge Cannon. The 11th Circuit found she lacked jurisdiction and basically said that her entire “theory of the case” was laughable on its face.

Trump has already been to the Supreme Court once, asking that they overrule the 11th Circuit’s first decision on the classified documents. The Supreme Court refused to hear that appeal with no dissents, strongly indicating that it will do the same thing again if Trump appeals the circuit court's latest decision.

It's been quite a month for the former president. “His” election-denying candidates, almost every one of them, lost their races for various offices around the land on Election Day. Later in November, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a former U. S. attorney, Jack Smith, as special counsel to run both investigations of Trump – one into his attempts to overturn the election of 2020 and his incitement of the attack on the Capitol, and the other into his theft and mishandling of classified documents after he left office. Smith has been serving as chief prosecutor at the International Court of Justice at the Hague in the Netherlands. The prospect of having Jack Smith look into the crimes he is alleged to have committed is not a welcome one for the former president.

And then last week, Trump decided he would invite a notorious anti-semite and apologist for Adolph Hitler over for dinner at his club in Palm Beach. His dinner guest, the rapper and former multi-billionaire Ye, brought along a friend of his, Nick Fuentes, another notorious anti-semite, Holocaust denier, and admirer of Hitler. Fuentes, you will recall, was one of those who marched around Charlottesville, Virginia back in 2017, carrying tiki torches and shouting “Jews will not replace us.”

Trump was still dealing with the blow-back from that dinner when it became known that his former chief of staff, the oily and unctuous Mark Meadows, has been ordered to testify before the special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, which is looking into, among other things, Trump’s phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, when he asked the man in charge of the state’s elections to “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” so that he would be declared winner of the presidential election in Georgia. Meadows, it turns out, placed the phone call to the Georgia secretary of state, and once he got him on the line, handed the phone to his boss, Donald Trump. So, he was involved in the clearly illegal call (election tampering), he had obviously discussed it beforehand with Trump, and he doubtless has more to tell the Georgia grand jury than has come out so far.

Then “his” justices on the Supreme Court ruled that the House Ways and Means Committee can have access to a whole slew of Trump's tax returns that will show that he has never, ever paid any federal taxes.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the grand jury now being supervised by Jack Smith has been very busy. Former Trump aide Stephen Miller testified before that grand jury this past week – the one investigating January 6 and the efforts made by Trump to overturn the election of 2020. Later in the week, a federal judge ordered two former White House lawyers, Pat Cipollone and his deputy, Patrick Philbin, to testify before the same grand jury. Cipollone and Philbin testified in September, but refused to answer some questions, citing executive privilege. Trump sued in federal court asserting executive privilege in an attempt to prevent his two lawyers from being forced to testify and answer the questions they refused last time. The legal proceedings have gone on behind closed doors with the judge overseeing the grand jury in Washington. He has previously ordered other witnesses to testify when they tried to assert executive privilege, and it appears that is the case with these two very key witnesses.

Speaking of witnesses, we are, beginning today, witness to The Whole Thing Coming Apart at the Seams for Donald Trump. Nothing has been going right for the man. He announced his candidacy for president at mid-month in November and has not done a thing as a candidate yet. No rallies. No announcements of endorsements. No big statements on World Affairs. In fact, the only major public statement he’s made was a video he taped for something called the Patriot Freedom Project, a far-right extremist group raising money for the families of indicted and convicted 1/6 insurrectionists. “People have been treated unconstitutionally, in my opinion, and very, very unfairly, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” Trump said in the video. “The country is going communist.”

Trump hasn’t acted like a candidate or spoken like a candidate or looked like a candidate. Oh, wait a minute. I forgot that he got on his Truth Social account one night recently and spread right-wing, white supremacist, and QAnon conspiracy theories for hours. The sole positive thing that has happened for him, if it can be called that, is having his Twitter account restored by the odious Elon Musk. That would be the social media network on which hate speech has skyrocketed since Musk took it over, according to a report in the New York Times this morning.

We have wondered for six years when something like this would happen. He’s being forced to give a deposition in E. Jean Carroll’s rape lawsuit. His closest aides are spending half their time with their own lawyers and the other half being questioned by lawyers before grand juries. A court to which he appointed two judges has ruled against him unanimously not once but twice in a case involving the search of his residence and office by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago. The search was legal, the court said. Former presidents are subject to the same laws everyone else must obey.

And Trump himself? Well, he’s out there posting hate and cozying up to Nazis and whining about being victimized as he watches the transactional sycophants in his party inch away from him not because he’s an awful person who spreads hate and tells lies and breaks the law, but because he’s a loser.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.

Scorning Democracy, Trump Demands Lake Be 'Installed' As Arizona Governor

Former President Trump, the loser of the 2020 presidential election, has demanded that the loser of Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial election, Kari Lake, be crowned governor of the Grand Canyon State after falsely blaming her defeat on “yet another criminal voting operation.”

"Massive numbers of 'BROKEN' voting machines in Republican Districts on Election Day. Mechanics sent in to 'FIX' them made them worse,” Trump claimed without evidence on his disinformation platform, Truth Social.

“Kari had to be taken to a Democrat area, which was working perfectly, to vote. Her opponent ran the Election. This is yet another criminal voting operation - SO OBVIOUS. Kari Lake should be installed Governor of Arizona. This is almost as bad as the 2020 Presidential Election, which the Unselect Committee refuses to touch because they know it was Fraudulent!"

Trump’s hoax-filled diatribe was a response to Lake’s tirade on Truth Social, blaming “incompetent” election officials and “Fake News” for “Arizonians hav[ing] no Faith and Trust in our Elections.”

Despite trailing her Democratic opponent by about 17,000 votes, with 99 percent of the ballots in Arizona reported, Lake, a 2020 election denier who committed to accepting the election only if she won, has refused to concede to Governor-elect Katie Hobbs more than two weeks after the race was called.

Last week, Lake lashed out at Arizona’s departing Republican governor, Doug Ducey, for christening the election a “democratic process,” congratulating Hobbs on her victory, and promising an orderly transition from his administration to hers.

"This is just beyond 2020. I mean what they did in 2020, looks like they did it again, and then some. And for the Governor (@DougDucey), if he says he's going to certify this, and @KatieHobbs to certify this, I think they really better think long and hard," Lake tweeted, alluding to the Big Lie — the false claim that a state-wide voter fraud operation, orchestrated by Democrats, had cost Trump the 2020 elections.

Amid the flood of false election fraud claims promoted by Lake and Trump, the firebrand sued the election administrators she had repeatedly assailed -- Maricopa County’s Republican election officials -- alleging electoral wrongdoing in what she branded “the shoddiest election ever.”

The lawsuit — which Lake announced last Wednesday on “War Room,” indicted Trump ally Steve Bannon’s podcast — demanded the Maricopa County Superior Court compel the county’s election officials to provide Lake’s campaign with various public records, including the number of ballots sent to voters overseas and their verification process.

Citing Maricopa County’s "printer/tabulation problem[s]” — an Election Day malfunction with some printers across the county, which election technicians identified and fixed in a few hours — Lake’s suit is also demanding contact information of voters at polling sites with printer malfunctions and the number of spoiled Election Day ballots.

In a scathing report issued Sunday, Maricopa County rebuffed the false claims of election malpractice and blamed Republican politicians for casting doubt on a secure alternative the county made available for voters inconvenienced by the voting glitches.

A “root cause analysis” of the now-infamous printer issues, which prevented some tabulators from taking ballots on Election Day, was underway; however, all printers “had updated firmware, were installed with uniform settings, and used the same settings that were used in prior elections” the county noted in its report.

Despite providing a “legal, secure, and reliable” voting alternative for people whose ballots tabulators could not read — a secure dropbox option called “Door 3” — “many high-profile and influential individuals instructed voters to not deposit their ballots in Door 3,” Maricopa County wrote in its report.

Tom Liddy, the Republican head of Maricopa County’s civil division, noted that eight other counties utilized only secure drop boxes, whose contents would be tallied at a centralized location, because “[the counties] lacked any tabulators in their polling locations at all.”

The county’s Republican-controlled board unanimously voted to certify its 2022 election results even as the lifelong Republican chairman of the county’s board of supervisors, Bill Gates, was relocated to an undisclosed location for safety after several threats to his safety appeared in far-right Internet spaces.

However, several counties hesitated in approving their election canvass ahead of Monday's state deadline stipulated by law, and several attorneys warned Republican county election supervisors of criminal charges if they ignored their obligation to certiify, according to the Associated Press.

One such jurisdiction, Mohave County, reluctantly certified its election on Monday, with its election-denying board of supervisors chairman, Ron Gould, attributing the delay to “a question” he had about “how our election is run.”

But rural Cochise County, another deep-red stronghold, delayed its certification vote until Friday, despite having no election hiccups, buying time to hear more about the far right’s “concerns over the certification of ballot tabulators,” Jonathan Cooper of the Press reported Tuesday.

Those concerns were pitched to the county’s elections board by a trio of conspiracy theorists — Tom Rice, Brian Steiner, and Daniel Wood — all of whom participated in at least four Arizona Supreme Court cases challenging the results of the 2020 elections, according to the Washington Post.

Hobbs sued Cochise County on Monday, asking the court to compel the county to comply with Arizona law, which demands county elections be certified by November 28.

Barring the court’s intervention, Hobbs spokesperson Sophia Solis said, the secretary of state would “have no choice” but to complete a statutory certification of the state-wide canvass without Cochise County’s votes by December 8.

Ironically, Cochise County's failure to certify could flip the results of two races, including a U.S. House seat, from Republican to Democrat, the Press noted, pruning the GOP’s meager House majority even further.

The Party Of Fear Is Becoming The Party Of Losers

Here’s a fun fact: Years ago, in the early 70’s as I recall, the Village Voice hired some kind of polling firm to determine what were the best-read parts of the paper. I’m sure it wasn’t done because the editors were thinking of covering more of the stuff that the most people read. If that was why they ran the survey, they would have probably quickly dropped the classical music criticism of the wonderful Leighton Kerner, the Voice’s critic in that area, who wrote of classical music as if he were conducting an orchestra of words in his head. No, I think the survey of readers was probably done at the behest of the display advertising department, who could then take the figures from the survey and adjust advertising prices based on how many people read the rock and roll or theater sections, for example.

Well, can you guess what turned out to be the best-read page in the paper? The letters to the editor column. The letters ran on page four, with Jules Feiffer’s cartoons across the bottom. There wasn’t any advertising on page four, but there was on page five, so they must have boosted the rates for the ads on the facing page. The letters page, of course, was the comments section of the era, when readers got their opportunity to vent, telling Voice authors what they thought of them, complaining that their favorite political issue, or their favorite entertainment venue, or their favorite playwright or artist or dance company wasn’t getting the attention it deserved.

I realize I’ve written about this before, but I got my start as a writer in the letters to the editor column of the Voice, writing cranky, rather conservative critiques of the stories I read. My first one drew counter-criticism the following week from an array of New York intellectuals that included Dwight MacDonald, Paul Goodman, and Aryeh Neier, who at the time headed up the New York office of the ACLU and went on to become a founder of Human Rights Watch. Each of them gave the upstart cadet from West Point a good political spanking, which I replied to the following week in the letters column, of course.

People turned to the letters column in the Voice first, it seemed to me, because that was where the action was – writers complaining about other writers, pissed-off old lefties lecturing new lefties who they found ignorant about the origins of this, that, or the other thing…you get the picture. The letter writers were uniformly smart, informed, and some were quite funny as they took on the established writers in the Voice.

You may recognize in the ferment of the Voice letters column a familiar ferment in our own comments section of my Substack newsletter. Although I don’t often reach into the comments and post replies, I read them with great interest. When I was on the staff of the Voice, I made it my policy not to reply to letters to the editor that criticized my pieces. I figured that I had the privilege of being in the Voice as a staff writer, and my pieces spoke for themselves. The letters column was for readers, not Village Voice writers. By and large, I treat the comments section the same way.

But for the first time the other day I posted a column opening a thread for readers, inviting them to comment generally about what was on their minds, and I also invited them to suggest areas they thought would deserve my attention. To put it mildly, I was stunned by the response. I jumped in and left replies here and there as I filled a couple of pages of a reporter’s notebook sitting next to me with a long list of suggestions for stories. Some just aren’t in my wheelhouse, as they say, and would be fine for another columnist to write about. Others, such as the one in the title of this piece, fit me like a well-made suit.

Ralph T. suggested that I consider writing about “the layers and layers of fears driving a majority of Republican voters.” Helpfully, he provided a list, which I will quote from selectively here:

Afraid of vaccines.

Afraid of voters.

Afraid of drop boxes.

So afraid of Democrats that they’re willing to believe they’re killing abducted babies in the basements of pizza joints.

Afraid to go out in public without an arsenal strapped to their flak jackets.

Afraid of LGBTQ folks.

Afraid of Black folks.

Afraid of Latin folks, especially the ones across our southern border who we desperately need in our workforce.

Terrified of Jewish folks.

Afraid of immigrants, although that’s what 98% of us are, having pretty much killed off the local natives when we got here.

Afraid of women, especially smart women.

Afraid of respectfully facing our past.

Afraid of the future.

Afraid of change.

Afraid of books, which I suppose comes from being afraid of reading, or simply not being able to read.

Ralph T. went on to list more fears many Republicans share, but that one stopped me in my tracks, and not because I’ve written books, write a column, and for more than 50 years have depended on readers in order to make a living.

Have you been in a house that has no books? No magazines, no reading material of any kind, with the possible exception of a cookbook or two? I have.

I’ve been in houses of people who were poor, perhaps too poor to afford books and magazines, but I’ve also been in houses of middle-class people who just did not read. Out in L.A., I was even in a beach house in Malibu owned by a very wealthy person in the movie business that contained no books at all. There were some very nice, and very expensive, pieces of art on the wall, but no books, not a one, not even a cookbook, and the owner was not a Republican. People in the movie business like the person from Malibu had what they called “readers,” assistants whose job it was to read books and screenplays that were being considered to be bought to make movies. I didn’t understand why these executives wouldn’t, or couldn’t, read the material they spent so much money on until I realized it was the prospect of failure that made them afraid. They needed to be told what they were supposed to have read was “hot,” that other executives in the business were after the same property so they could contend with their fear that they would spend all that money and the project would end up as a failure.

What all of the people who lived in those houses shared, including the person from Malibu, was fear. They were afraid of different things. In the deep South, I found people afraid of the future, of change, of outsiders, of people of other races and creeds, people who were simply unlike themselves. The phrase “ignorance is bliss” comes to mind, but not as a truism. Ignorance on that level is anything but blissful, bringing with it a closed off-ness that causes such a vacuum of knowledge and surrounding darkness that it’s impossible to deal with on any level whatsoever. To be without accurate and learned information is to be alone with yourself – alone with your fears, as it were.

When I lived in the deep South, I once asked a man who was overtly, openly racist why he was that way. I probed, and not very gently. Did something happen to him as he was growing up? Had he been mugged or beaten up by a Black person or Black people? Did he even know anyone who was Black in a way beyond thanking a server in a restaurant for a refill of his coffee? The answer to every one of my questions was no. It was revealed that there was no reason behind his racism. It just was. He had been raised in what you would call a culture of racism, and so it infected him in the way a virus gets into you. It was in the air he breathed. It was all around him in the lives of his friends and family members and the people he worked with and hunted with and spent holidays with. They were racist, so he was racist. There was a kind of comfort in their community of racism and the fears they shared. The rest of them were afraid to breach the barrier they had built around themselves, and so was he.

Their fears encompassed other things on Ralph T.’s excellent list. Another person in the deep South I spoke to came right out and told me he thought Black people should not have the right to vote. He was afraid of their votes, because they weren’t his votes or the votes of his white friends and neighbors. It didn’t take but a moment or two to see that he was afraid not just of Black people themselves, and Black people voting, but of living in a world in which he felt surrounded by things he did not understand, people he didn’t trust, ideas he was afraid of because to start with, he was unfamiliar with them. He didn’t want to acknowledge the legacy of slavery that was all around him where he lived in the South – the Black side of town had unpaved streets, no sidewalks, no streetlights, shack-like houses – hell, the town didn’t even run its sewage system into the Black section.

The only public thing the Black people in his town had, really, was the right to attend the public schools, and that right, in his opinion, was forced on the town and its people, its white people, by a Supreme Court and a Congress that he felt did not represent people like him, people whom the laws and the culture and the rest of the nation, in fact, had left behind. He was afraid of people who were unlike him; their ideas were unlike his, and crucially, there was nothing he could do about it, at least in part because Black people could vote.

Republicans have come up with a new catchphrase to appeal to voters like this man, and to the people in whose houses I had been who did not have books. Critical race theory. They didn’t even have to define it, to tell anyone what it meant. It didn’t need a meaning, because everyone it was intended to appeal to knew exactly what it meant. The phrase, critical race theory, has a meaning as an academic discipline, but that’s not the way Republicans are using it. In a political sense, from the politicians who conceived of the phrase as a scare tactic, they’re saying we are on your side. We acknowledge your fears. In fact, your fears are our fears, so vote for us, and we will do whatever we can to assuage them. We will put Black people, and liberals, and everyone else you’re scared of in their place.

It's beyond us against them. It’s beyond playing on their fears. It’s taking fear and turning it into a weapon.

Armies use fear as a weapon on the battlefield in wars. That’s what artillery and rockets are all about – suddenly, without warning, out of the sky comes something that will blow you up and kill you. But it didn’t work when the Germans rained down bombs and V-1 rockets on London during World War II, and it’s not working as the Russians do everything in their power to break the will of the Ukrainian people with rockets and drones and artillery shells.

Fear in politics is beginning to exhibit its shortcomings as well. “Owning the libs” was fun for Republicans while it was being driven by Donald Trump and his machinery of hate and fear, but he lost. The Republican Party, which was supposed to sweep the midterms in a red wave, even while they will control the House of Representatives with a very slim majority, is wounded.

Sure, fear works as political weapon for Republicans and they’re not going to let go of it any time soon. But the thing about fear is that it’s not fun to be afraid all the time. That’s why horror movies work: you watch them and you can be afraid for a time, but you know that the movie is going to end, and you won’t have to be afraid anymore.

The kinds of fears Ralph T. was good enough to list for us are not fun. They’re stultifying, they’re dark, and there is no way out of them except embracing at least a few of the things you’re afraid of, like reading and seeking knowledge and allowing yourself to look at what is around you with open eyes and a least a tiny crack in your closed heart.

So fear not. A corner is beginning to be turned. Donald Trump, if he is the nominee of the Republican Party in 2024, will lose again. Republicans, unless they find a way to appeal to folks who are not congenitally fearful, will see their power as a political party wane.

There is, in fact, an end result of the fears we have discussed here at the behest of our friend, Ralph T. It’s called losing.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.

Just Another Day With Anti-Semites At The Former President's House

As we all certainly know by now, Donald Trump had some guests over for dinner last week at his home, the resort/hotel/club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump claims he had invited his good friend Ye, formerly known as Kayne West, and was surprised when a well-known white supremacist, anti-Semite and public supporter of his, Nick Fuentes showed up as well. That Trump would be having dinner a couple of weeks after he announced his campaign for the presidency in 2024 with two notorious racists and anti-Semites is perhaps less surprising than the reaction to the fact of it.

You could have heard the collective gasp from the media sphere if you were at the bottom of a coal mine in Siberia. The horror! The outrage! The whole un-thinkable-ness of it! The story was beaten to death. How could it have happened? Could Ye/Kayne West really have sashayed past the Secret Service-protected gates of Mar-a-Lago with Fuentes in tow? Reports of the dinner by “sources” say that Trump’s reaction to Fuentes was as predictable as it was yawn-inducing: “I really like this guy,” Trump told his friend Ye/Kayne West. “He gets me.”

You would have had to have been at the bottom of the aforesaid coal mine for the past six years not to know that a little fawning goes a long way with our former president.

And then came the reports of the mainstreaming of Fuentes that has gone on since he made an appearance at the so-called “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Here is our boy Nick in the company of current members of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar and right-wing babbler Michele Malkin and former Rep. Steve King at something called the “America First Political Action Conference,” (AFPAC) which advertises itself as even further to the right than the “Conservative Political Action Conference,” (CPAC). Fuentes, it was reported, led cheers of “Russia! Russia! Russia!” and “Putin! Putin! Putin!” at the gathering, because…of course he did. The next day, he was roundly denounced – in a Tweet, naturally – by soon-to-be-former Representative Liz Cheney, because…of course she did: “All Americans should renounce this garbage and reject the Putin wing of the GOP now. The silence by Republican Party leaders is deafening and enabling,” because…of course it is.

Are you beginning to pick up on the fact that there is nothing new here, folks? Just another day at Mar-a-Lago, just another moment in the continuing saga of the descent of Republicans into less a political party than a herd of Brownshirts thundering through the media-scape without raising hardly a ripple? I mean, what has to happen in this country to rouse the decent against the dastardly? An election that was nearly stolen from the American people in front of their eyes didn’t manage to do it. A violent coup against the seat of our government, the Capitol, didn’t do it. Somewhere in the vicinity of 40,000 overt lies told by our former president while in office had no discernible effect.

And now we’ve got the same former president and current candidate dining in public at his resort/hotel/club with two out-of-control and out-of-their minds anti-semites, and all we’ve heard have been squeaks and chirps from the liberal media establishment about how terrible it is, and of course dead silence from the Republican Party, with the exception of a few brave souls like Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (!) who found enough backbone remaining in his normally gelatinous spine that he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Racism, anti-semitism, and denial of the Holocaust have no place in the Republican Party and are completely un-American.”

Wow, you’d go that far, Brian? That’s taking a pretty big risk isn’t it, pal, given the political climate in your own so-called party. I guess we should consider it a story when a climate-change-denying, voter suppressing flat-earther like Kemp appears to come to his senses…but noooooo! In the next breath, he made a bunch of ads for his Texas-based Senate candidate Herschel Walker, and all was right with the world once again.

But the problem here isn’t that Trump refused to denounce Fuentes once he was caught consorting with him, because of course he didn’t. The problem isn’t that the “leadership” of the Republican Party has stayed silent, because of course they have. The problem isn’t the matter of fact-ness of Trump dining with these monsters. The problem is that 80 years after the Holocaust, we are still dealing with people like this piece of scum, Nick Fuentes, who deny that it happened and get attention for their criminal lies. Holocaust denial just never goes away. The anti-semitism of “Jews will not replace us” chants at the torch-lit Charlottesville rally of buttoned-down and khaki pants-wearing white boys just never goes away. The age-old lies that Jews somehow control the world’s banks and stage-manage economic inequality to their own benefit just never goes away.

But it’s the denial of the Holocaust that is the worst of it. The systematic murder of millions of Jews and Gypsies and gay people and political opponents of Nazism and intellectuals is something that not only happened decades ago but keeps getting repeated again and again and again. Nearly an entire people, Native Americans, were massacred during this nation’s founding. Certainly that was a genocide. It is unknown how many Black Americans were lynched and murdered during slavery, Reconstruction and Jim Crow, but certainly that was a genocide as well. Nearly a million were murdered during the Rwandan massacre in 1994, another genocide. The violence and destruction and starvation in Darfur killed 400,000 in 2003, another genocide. In Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, some 200,000 Muslim civilians were systematically murdered, and nearly two million became refugees at the hands of the Serbs, yet another genocide.

And now it’s happening again in Ukraine, where thousands of civilians are thought to have been murdered by the Russian army since February of this year. They are still digging up mass graves and single graves in Kherson after the Russians were driven out recently. There won’t be an authoritative total of the murders for months, even years, but it is clear already that the killings have been planned, sanctioned, and carried out by the Russian army.

History repeats itself because it is denied and swept under the rug and is unstudied and forgotten. Donald Trump and Nick Fuentes and before them David Duke and his ilk are not just propagandists for a lie. They are facilitators of modern genocides. Lies beget murders which beget more lies which beget more murders.

As a species, we seem unable to stop the ongoing Holocaust that is humanity. But we can fight against it by teaching and learning and remembering.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.