The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Tag: j d vance

How Stephen Miller’s Racist Hysteria Endangered Our Afghan Allies

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With the Taliban having seized control of Afghanistan, former White House senior adviser Stephen Miller is among the MAGA Republicans who is vehemently opposed to bringing Afghan refugees into the United States. Former Mike Pence staffer turned Never Trump conservative Olivia Troye addresses Miller's anti-refugee views this week in a Twitter thread, pointing out that he has a long history of pushing "racist hysteria" where refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq are concerned.

Troye, who has described herself as a "John McCain Republican," left the Trump White House last year in response to then-President Donald Trump's disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic — and she infuriated Trumpworld by announcing that she would be voting for now-President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. When Troye was part of Pence's staff, she specialized in national security matters and favored SIVs or special immigrant visas for Afghan refugees; Miller was adamantly opposed to them.

Miller expressed his anti-refugee views earlier this week during an appearance on Fox News, where he told host Laura Ingraham, "Those who are advocating mass Afghan resettlements in this country are doing so for political, not humanitarian, reasons…. Resettling in America is not about solving a humanitarian crisis, it's about accomplishing an ideological objective: to change America."

With the "change America" comment, Miller was venturing into Great Replacement territory. The Great Replacement is a racist far-right conspiracy theory claiming that liberals and progressives are trying to "replace" Whites with non-Whites in western countries.

Troye, in her Twitter thread, recalls how intensely Miller fought against refugees when she was part of Pence's staff:

In her thread, Troye not only calls out Miller, but also, "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance — who is running for the U.S. Senate in Ohio as a MAGA Republican and has also come out against bringing Afghan refugees into the U.S.

Fox News Lies About Vaccine Mandates — Including Its Own

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Facing the growing threat of the new delta variant of the coronavirus, President Joe Biden's administration has begun implementing new vaccination rules for federal workers and moving to implement universal vaccination in the military. And outside of government, more and more private companies are requiring employees to get vaccinated as Americans return to regular office work.

But in Fox News' telling, this kind of national effort is somehow a threat to everything this country is supposed to be about — even as Fox News is doing it, too.

Yes, vaccine mandates are legal — and have been here a long time

Speaking on Thursday, Biden said it was "still a question" as to whether the federal government could mandate that the whole citizenry get vaccinated. But even if that is not the case, there would still be plenty of other opportunities for vaccine mandates by state and local governments, private companies, and the federal government in its capacity as an employer.

So far this year, courts have upheld vaccine requirements for private hospital employment and to attend state universities. And none of this should have been surprising because public school system already require vaccinations, which has suddenly become controversial amid the anti-vaccine propaganda during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beyond that, the idea of state and local governments simply mandating that all residents get vaccinated — not just depending on a particular job or school attendance — was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court all the way back in the 1905 case Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which occurred in the context of a regional smallpox epidemic. The court ruled that "a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members," unless there was compelling evidence in a specific case that an individual could be harmed by the vaccination.

But Fox News is ignoring all of this context and history to further its anti-vaccine fearmongering campaign.

Fox News declares vaccine passports un-American — despite their own vaccine passport system

Just as a reminder: Fox News already has its own vaccine passport at its offices under a program called the "Fox Clear Pass," in which employees who provide their vaccine information are allowed to bypass daily health screenings. But the network has simultaneously claimed that the Biden administration was attacking "unvaccinated Americans," speaking as if such a category represented an ethnic group or other protected minority.

On the Friday night edition of Fox News Primetime, rotating host Tammy Bruce welcomed author and Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who argued that "we cannot let the government or these corporations turn people into second-class citizens unless they bend the knee." The segment opened with Bruce approvingly reading a quote by Vance that "there is nothing more antithetical to what this country stands for than draconian vaccine passport mandates."

Bruce, moreover, compared the disparate treatment of people based on whether they've been vaccinated to the most disgraceful examples of racial segregation in the country's history — while of course ignoring that the company where she was working, Fox News, was already conducting an internal vaccine passport system.

TAMMY BRUCE (HOST): You know, let me say, and as we move now into these, these other ideas that would separate and segregate the American people — if you don't have your papers, or for in our American history, which thank goodness we have grown out of and become a better nation, is the idea that if you don't conform, if you don't look like other people, if you don't behave like a majority, you will have to sit in the back of the bus, you cannot sit at the counter in the diner.

Americans refuse to return to that dynamic, no matter what our skin color, but especially for communities of color and those who might not have the same kind of finances or access to power to push back.

On Friday's edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host appeared against a backdrop reading "Vaccine Coercion," as he seemed to suggest that mandates would lead to violence.

"The question is, really, how long are Americans going to put up with this? What happens when large groups of people start to resist these mandates?" Carlson said. "As inevitably they will, because they're too unreasonable, they're too irrational, they're not rooted in science. They are pushing us toward something awful."

And on Friday night's The Ingraham Angle, guest host Brian Kilmeade falsely declared: "But I don't think you can mandate someone to get vaccinated, I'm pretty sure that we've never done that before."

Billionaire Linked To White Nationalists Backing GOP Senate Hopeful In Ohio

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance announced on Thursday that he would be running for the Republican nomination for Ohio's open U.S. Senate seat in 2022.

The seat is currently held by GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who is retiring. Vance is the seventh Republican to officially file for the election. Also currently running is serial failed Senate candidate Josh Mandel.

The seat is currently rated as "lean Republican" by the Cook Political Report, while Inside Elections says it is "solid" for the party.

In March, in advance of Vance's official campaign declaration, former Paypal executive and billionaire Peter Thiel donated $10 million to Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC supporting Vance's candidacy. On Wednesday, just before Vance's announcement, the PAC released a digital ad in support of his campaign, which they promoted in an "exclusive" for Fox News.

Over the last few years, Thiel has been a prominent voice within the Republican Party. He was one of the featured speakers at the Republican National Convention in 2016, expressing support for former President Donald Trump's campaign, and donated to him through several super PACs.

According to a 2020 Buzzfeed report, as part of his effort to back Trump, Thiel reportedly hosted a dinner with Kevin DeAnna, a prominent white nationalist who founded the far-right group Youth For Western Civilization, in July 2016.

In an email sent on July 16, 2016, Thiel reportedly told DeAnna, "Really enjoyed meeting you last night." The email also includes the suggestion that Thiel was interested in further meetings with the white supremacist. According to Buzzfeed, DeAnna responded to Thiel, writing, "It was a real honor meeting you and thanks for hosting all of us."

DeAnna, the outlet noted, has written in favor of creating a white "ethno-state" which he said is "the great dream of the White Republic" in a 2013 column.

DeAnna is also a proponent of the racist "great replacement" conspiracy theory, which claims that immigration to America from nonwhites is a plot to replace white people. Writing about the conspiracy on the white supremacist site VDARE in July 2019, DeAnna claimed, "Westerners must wake to this demographic tidal wave lest their culture, people and civilization be extinguished."

More recently, elements of the conspiracy have been voiced by Republicans in Congress.

Thiel has not commented publicly on his reported interactions with white nationalist figures.

In addition to Thiel, the far-right Mercer family has also reportedly donated to the pro-Vance super PAC.

Bryan Lanza, a spokesman for the PAC, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Bob and Rebekah Mercer made a "significant contribution" to Protect Ohio Values.

The Mercers, who made their money from hedge funds, were also major donors to Trump's 2016 campaign. They helped to finance the right-wing outlet Breitbart, which has frequently trafficked in racism, sexism, and political smears.

Parler, the right-wing social network, was also financed by the Mercers, and Rebekah Mercer co-founded the company. The network was removed from the Apple app store in January after it became clear that some users had utilized it to organize the January 6 attack on the Capitol. It has since been restored.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Hilarious Video Takes Down J.D. Vance, ‘Race-Baiting Culture War It Boy'

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On July 1, right-wing "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance announced that he is seeking the GOP nomination for Ohio's 2022 U.S. Senate race, and some pundits have mentioned him as a possible presidential candidate for 2024. When it came out in 2016, "Hillbilly Elegy" was widely read — even by liberals and progressives, who wanted to hear what Vance had to say about social and economic problems in rural Appalachia. But recently, the 36-year-old Vance has been sounding more and more like a Trumpian culture warrior, and Never Trump conservative Tim Miller notes how much of a "culture war it boy" Vance has become in a hilarious but scathing video posted on YouTube and The Bulwark on July 1.

Although Miller is conservative, he isn't far-right and has been a blistering critic of former President Donald Trump. In 2020, Miller left the Republican Party after many years and endorsed now-President Joe Biden in the presidential election. And his Vance video slams the "Hillbilly Elegy" author right away, with Miller asking, "Did Hollywood help propel a new race-baiting, culture-war 'it boy' to political stardom?"

"This is J.D. Vance," Miller explains in the video. "He looks like a cross between Elmer Fudd and three babies in a trench coat. And he's running for Senate in Ohio, with his eyes on a future presidential bid."

2016 was not only the year "Hillbilly Elegy" was released — it was also the year in which Trump defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in that year's presidential election, losing the popular vote but picking up more electoral votes. Miller recalls that Vance was anti-Trump in 2016 but has since flip-flopped and become very Trumpian rhetorically.

"You may have seen his Netflix movie 'Hillbilly Elegy,' which was based on his critically acclaimed book," Miller observes with biting sarcasm. "It was lauded as a nuanced portrait of the Trump-supporting White working class that was all too often tarnished as racist or backwards. And back then, J.D. played reviewers like a fiddle. He texted his agent saying that Trump winning would be terrible for the country, but good for book sales. Everyone from Seth Meyers to Bill Gates used J.D.'s story to help them understand this crazy species that they'd never encountered in the wild: the Trump voter."

Miller slams Vance as a shameless opportunist, saying, "Now, Vance is parlaying that media success into politics, and the former Trump skeptic has taken a dark turn. These days, he's a Trumpstan, and he's relying on racial resentment to reach the very voters that he was supposedly shining a more empathetic and nuanced light on. His Twitter feed has turned into kind of a Trumpian cosplay, but without any of the former tweeter-in-chief's je ne sais quoi."

Vance recently resorted to fake outrage after Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, during a congressional hearing, said he "wanted to understand White rage."

"In response," Miller observes in his video, "J.D. rage-tweeted, 'The conservative [American]s you trash are disproportionately bleeding for this country.' Ah, so only angry White men serve in the military. Boy, that's some subtle stuff there, bro. I wonder if the audience picked up on the dog whistle."

But as much as Miller lambasts Vance in his video, he also expresses regret — pointing out that instead of pandering to White racists, he could be genuinely shedding light on the economic problems of White rural America.

Indeed, a major void was left after the death of journalist/author Joe Bageant, the self-described "redneck leftist" who specialized in liberal commentary on economic pain among rural Whites. Bageant, who died of cancer in 2011, is best remembered for his book Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War.

Miller, with frustration, explains, "Here's the worst part about J.D.'s new shtick: The points he's made over the years about liberal elites looking down on and ignoring the forgotten hillbillies were right. They do do that! J.D. could have been a model for a new, more empowering kind of politics. But instead of changing the way politicians address White working-class problems, he's using the same demagogic bullshit about race and crime and gays that every populist asshole has been employing since the AIDS crisis and Jim Crow. And instead of telling them the truth, he's going with his dad to Trump's conspiracy-election-fraud jamboree and going along with Big Lie BS."

Watch the video below:

Tim Miller's NOT MY PARTY | Will JD Vance Find Political Stardom?

J.D. Vance Joins The Jackals

The question of what will become of the Republican Party in the post-Trump era seems to be on everyone's lips. A New York Times survey found that Republicans themselves have five distinct views of Donald Trump, including 35 percent who are either "Never Trump" or "Post Trump." But 65 percent fall into the "Die-hard" camp (27 percent), the "Trump Booster" faction (28 percent), or the "InfoWars" segment (ten percent).

Whatever the future of the Republican Party will be, the shape-shifting J.D. Vance sheds light on the dynamics of how we got here and where the Republican Party is headed. This week, billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel announced that he is donating $10 million to a super PAC supporting Vance's potential run for the United States Senate seat from Ohio.

Vance today is a fixture of the Trumpist right, but that isn't the way he debuted. Not at all.

Rarely does a nonfiction book make the kind of splash Hillbilly Elegy did in 2016. I was part of the cheering section. Vance emerged as an authentic voice of the working class — a self-styled "hillbilly" no less — to declare that the problems of many working-class people were largely self-inflicted.

Or perhaps a better way to say it is that their problems are a matter of personal choices. Drug abuse, welfare dependency, domestic violence, irresponsible spending, and family disintegration were all omnipresent in Vance's family and community. The stories of his upbringing are harrowing. He described his home life as "extraordinarily chaotic." His grandmother once attempted to murder his grandfather by dousing his bed with gasoline and lighting a match (he survived).

In a 2016 interview, Vance told Rod Dreher that his mother probably cycled through 15 husbands/boyfriends during his childhood. Family disintegration was the greatest handicap Vance and others like him were saddled with. "Of all the things that I hated about my childhood," he wrote, "nothing compared to the revolving door of father figures."

His depiction of working-class life wasn't a complete rejection of his origins. He stressed that he loved his family, and that a majority (even if a bare majority) of his community does work hard. For children trapped in dysfunctional homes, one can have nothing but sympathy. And he believed that elites did fail to evince much understanding for people who were struggling. On the other hand, he was keen to counter the pervasive sense of helplessness in the community he was raised in. "There is a lack of agency here — a feeling that you have little control over your life and a willingness to blame everyone but yourself."

In a sense, Vance was the anti-Trump. He was a true son of Appalachia striving to lift his community, in contrast to the faux populist from Manhattan seeking to flatter and exploit them. Vance felt that they needed hope and a generous dose of honesty. Trump offered fantasies and cunningly curated hatred.

During his 2016 book tour, Vance was not shy about his disdain for Trump. When NPR's Terry Gross asked how he planned to vote in November, he said: "I can't stomach Trump. I think that he's noxious and is leading the white working class to a very dark place." And appearing on the podcast I hosted at the time, Need to Know, Vance recalled texting his editor to say that, "If Trump wins it would be terrible for the country, but good for book sales."

But a funny thing happened after the introduction of J.D. Vance, anti-Trump voice of the working class. He began to drift into the Trump camp. I don't know why or how, but Vance became not a voice for the voiceless but an echo of the loudmouth. Scroll through his Twitter feed and you will find retweets of Tucker Carlson, alarmist alerts about immigration, links to Vance's appearances on the podcasts of Seb Gorka, Dinesh D'Souza, and the like, and even retweets of Mike Cernovich. But the tweet that really made my heart sink was this one from Feb. 12: "Someone should have asked Jeffrey Epstein, John Weaver, or Leon Black about the CRAZY CONSPIRACY that many powerful people were predators targeting children."

By citing the cases of Jeffrey Epstein and John Weaver, one a convicted abuser of underage girls and the other an accused abuser of teenage boys, he is whitewashing the QAnon conspiracy.

Jeffrey Epstein was a despicable creep. John Weaver seems to have done bad things (though he has not been convicted of anything yet). But the QAnon conspiracy teaches that a cabal of leading Democrats and Hollywood celebrities sexually abuses not teenagers but little children, and then eats them. No decent human being should in any way remotely suggest, far less with all caps, that those conspiracies might not be so crazy.

I'm not sure which is worse: that Vance, who just four years ago lamented the rise of conspiracy theories on the right, is now helping to foment one of the worst, or that the Republican base is so warped that ambitious men feel the need to sink into the sewer in search of political success.

Vance's slide from path-breaking writer to Trumpist troll tracks perfectly with the decline of the Republican Party. Peter Thiel clearly believes his new incarnation will win votes. And it may. But to quote Vance back at himself, if he does win, "it will be terrible for the country."

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the Beg to Differ podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Self-Pitying Pessimism Is Personally And Politically Crippling

Well, I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison
And I went to pick her up in the rain
But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
She got runned over by a damned old train
–David Alan Coe

Anybody who can sing the lyrics to what country bad boy David Alan Coe called “the perfect country song” probably won’t find a whole lot in J.D. Vance’s hotly-debated, best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” that’s real surprising.

Fans of Jeff Foxworthy’s painfully funny “You might be a redneck” comedy act will also find Vance’s action-packed childhood familiar. Like this: “If your grandma poured gasoline on grandpa, and lit him on fire for coming home drunk…you might be a redneck.”

“If your momma brought home twelve ‘stepfathers’ in fifteen years…”

These things actually happened. Early in life, Vance writes, “I recognized that though many of my peers lacked the traditional American family, mine was more non-traditional than most.”

No kidding. That said, Erskine Caldwell’s “Tobacco Road” covered much of the same territory in the 1930s, along with William Faulkner’s “Snopes Trilogy,” Larry Brown’s “Joe,” and a host of Southern novelists and memoirists too numerous to list. The inexhaustible Joyce Carol Oates has chronicled the stunted lives of Yankee hillbillies for decades.

None of which is to diminish Vance’s achievement, nor to minimize his success in focusing affectionate, yet unsparing attention on the ongoing plight of the poor white Appalachian emigrants he calls his people. American Conservative columnist Rod Dreher has written that “Hillbilly Elegy” “does for poor white people what Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book (“Between the World and Me”) did for poor black people: give them voice and presence in the public square.”

Some even think Vance helps explain the election of Donald Trump, although his political message is distinctly mixed. Either way, “Hillbilly Elegy” is deservedly number two on the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list.

Born in rural eastern Kentucky, Vance was mostly raised by his doting, albeit violent grandparents in the decaying mill town of Middletown, Ohio—one of those “rust-belt” communities that lured Southern country folk to factory jobs that have since moved away—often to non-union Southern states like Arkansas. I kept thinking of Bobby Bare’s homesick lament “Detroit City”: “I think I’ll take my foolish pride/and put it on a southbound freight and ride.”

Vance took a less sentimental escape route: the US Marines, Ohio State University, and Yale Law School. Today he lives in San Francisco with his Asian-American wife and works at a Silicon Valley investment firm. His memoir shows him to be the king of mixed feelings: proud and relieved to have escaped the drug- and booze-addicted turmoil of his youth, yet determined to evoke respect for the “loyalty, honor, toughness” and fierce patriotism of the hillbilly culture back home.

Like many cross-cultural migrants, Vance has a thin skin—seeing condescension everywhere he looks. Of course nobody with a Southern accent needs to search hard in New Haven. Back in the day, my wife got patronized to her face in academic New England. After she visited her Arkansas parents, one haughty colleague asked if she was an anthropologist.

She kept a lot of it from me for fear I might do something crazy.

In the long run, it’s best to laugh these things off. The world is full of fools. At thirty-one, Vance isn’t there yet. Even so, the portrait he draws of his people is frequently less than admiring. What they hate about President Obama, he writes, isn’t his race as much as the perception that “Nothing about him bears any resemblance to the people I admired growing up: His accent—clean, perfect, neutral—is foreign; his credentials are so impressive that they’re frightening.”

As such, Obama’s a standing rebuke to people like Vance’s hometown friend who bragged that he quit his job “because he was sick of waking up early,” but spends time bashing the “Obama economy” on Facebook. Hence too “birtherism,” a mythological construct explaining away the unacceptable truth: maybe a lot of your problems are your own damn fault.

Vance thinks that hillbilly clannishness and self-pitying pessimism are personally and politically crippling. “We can’t trust the evening news. We can’t trust our politicians. Our universities, the gateway to a better life, are rigged against us. We can’t get jobs. You can’t believe these things and participate meaningfully in society.”

Exactly. Having spent the last decade living on a gravel road in a backwoods Arkansas County with even more cows than hillbillies, I can affirm that at their best, there are no finer neighbors.

That said, not getting wasted every day definitely helps. However, Vance’s mother was an addict. “An important question for hillbillies like me,” he writes, is “How much is Mom’s life her own fault? Where does blame stop and sympathy begin?”

Good question.

IMAGE: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump supporters yell at a protesters as Trump speaks at campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio March 12, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk