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Tag: j d vance

Did J.D. Vance Say Women Should Stay In Violent Marriages? Really? (VIDEO)

J.D. Vance, the Republican Senate nominee in Ohio backed by former President Donald Trump, accidentally let his truth slip out during a moderated talk at Pacifica Christian High School in Santa Monica, California, last September. In a video reported by Vice News, the Hillbilly Elegy author seemed to make a case for staying married no matter what—even in cases of domestic violence. At one point in his 2021 conversation, the moderator compared the relationship of Vance’s grandparents detailed in his book to modern relationships, and asked Vance what's causing one generation "to give up on fatherhood when the other one was so doggedly determined to stick it out, even in tough times."

And Vance gave this response:

“This is one of the great tricks that I think the sexual revolution pulled on the American populace, which is the idea that like, ‘well, OK, these marriages were fundamentally, you know, they were maybe even violent, but certainly they were unhappy. And so getting rid of them and making it easier for people to shift spouses like they change their underwear, that’s going to make people happier in the long term.’”

He added:

“And maybe it worked out for the moms and dads, though I’m skeptical. But it really didn’t work out for the kids of those marriages. And that’s what I think all of us should be honest about, is we’ve run this experiment in real-time. And what we have is a lot of very, very real family dysfunction that’s making our kids unhappy.”

Sticking out domestic violence for the kids’ best interest, however, wasn’t a philosophy Vance was prepared to back outright during his campaign.

When Vice News asked why Vance suggested “it would be better for children if their parents stayed in violent marriages than if they divorced,” he told the media outlet it had posed a “bogus question.”

Vance responded by twisting statistics. Current domestic violence laws are extremely robust compared to the time in which Vance's grandparents were determined to stay together despite their “maybe even violent” marriage. In the 1970s, for example, “domestic violence remained largely unrecognized and virtually ignored in the legal, medical, and social spheres.”

Decades later, domestic violence is treated as a legitimate legal and public health concern, even when it occurs among unmarried couples. That change in standard practice has led to increases in reports of domestic violence in both married and unmarried couples. Avenues for assistance and relief—both in terms of safety and legal recourse—have become more widely available. But you can’t explain that to a man determined to maintain a patriarchy that supports his unexamined beliefs. Vance opted to lay blame at progressives’ feet:

”As anyone who studies these issues knows: domestic violence has skyrocketed in recent years, and is much higher among non-married couples. That’s the ‘trick’ I reference: that domestic violence would somehow go down if progressives got what they want, when in fact modern society’s war on families has made our domestic violence situation much worse. Any fair person would recognize I was criticizing the progressive frame on this issue, not embracing it.

But I can see that you are not a fair person, so rather than answer your loaded and baseless question, let me offer the following: I’m an actual victim of domestic violence. In my life, I have seen siblings, wives, daughters, and myself abused by men. It’s disgusting for you to argue that I was defending those men.”

And even in all of that rhetoric, Vance failed to say deny what he was asked to deny: that he believes staying married to violent partners somehow benefits the children who live with couples who should probably get divorced.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Ohio GOP Senate Candidate Urged Major Cuts To Medicare And Social Security

Ohio Republican nominee J.D. Vance is framing himself in his campaign for Senate as an opponent of powerful "elites."

Meanwhile, in 2011 the author and venture capitalist embraced a controversial GOP budget proposal that would have slashed entitlement protections for poorer and older Americans, ending both Medicare and Medicaid as we know them while cutting taxes for himself and other wealthy elites.

In his writings, Vance did not openly use terms like "Medicare cuts," but embraced words like "reform" and "trim" in discussing the entitlement programs used by millions.

In a column published on April 5, 2011, on the FrumForum, a group blog edited by former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum that described itself as "dedicated to the modernization and renewal of the Republican Party and conservative movement," Vance, under a previous surname taken from a stepfather, praised a budget proposal about to be released by then-House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Ryan's proposed budget called for trillions of dollars to be cut from entitlement programs over a decade: repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the program commonly known as Obamacare that provides health insurance coverage for millions of Americans; transformation of Medicaid into a program funded through limited lump-sum grants to states, which would then manage it; and conversion of Medicare into a capped voucher program.

Robert Greenstein, president of the progressive-leaning nonprofit Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, said at the time that Ryan's proposal was "a dramatic reverse-Robin-Hood approach that gets the lion's share of its budget cuts from programs for low-income Americans — the politically and economically weakest group in America and the politically safest group for Ryan to target— even as it bestows extremely large tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans."

"The plan contains $1.4 trillion in Medicaid cuts over ten years (which includes repeal of the health reform law’s Medicaid expansion); large cuts in food stamps, low-income housing, Pell Grants, and other programs for people with limited incomes; and repeal of the health reform law’s subsidies to help low- and moderate-income people purchase health insurance," Greenstein wrote.

Vance wrote of the proposal, "Early reports suggest that along with serious changes to Social Security and Medicare, the budget will trim nearly $4 trillion from the 10-year budget deficit. I don't know how the Left will react, but I'm confident that they'll overreact. And I'm hoping that when the dust settles, we're having a more intelligent conversation about spending cuts than we've had during my lifetime."

Vance added, "The way forward is as obvious as it is politically difficult: streamline the tax code, reform current entitlements and avoid enacting new ones."

On September 7 of that year, he authored a post endorsing former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and explicitly praising him for supporting Ryan's budget and entitlement cuts.

"As governor, he enacted free-market health care reforms, balanced the budget, and thus far is the most public advocate of the Ryan plan to reduce long-term entitlement spending," Vance wrote. He dismissed another Republican candidate, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, as "a man with no serious plan to curb entitlement spending."

In a May 2022 column published in The Atlantic, Frum noted that in his 2011 collaborations with Vance, the Ohio Senate candidatee "endorsed cuts to the future growth of Medicare and Social Security" and lamented his subsequent evolution to full-throated support for former President Donald Trump.

"In a reversal of the usual political trajectory, Vance's writing and speaking have edged angrier and uglier as he has gained success and prominence," Frum wrote.

A Vance campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

While it is unclear whether he still backs massive entitlement cuts, as a candidate in 2022 Vance has criticized other government spending.

"The Biden administration has spent billions and billions of dollars on things we don't need," he says in the section of his campaign issues page focused on "spending and inflation."

Columnist Ben Burgis noted in an opinion piece published by the Daily Beast in May Vance's opposition to universal child care, debt-free college, and a living minimum wage.

Former President Trump, who has endorsed Vance, has a record of presenting himself as a defender of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid when it suits him.

As a 2016 presidential candidate, he said that he alone could preserve the entitlement programs without any cuts.

"Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security. They want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid," Trump said in an April 2015 address just before kicking off his White House bid. "And we can't do that. And it's not fair to the people that have been paying in for years."

"I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid," he tweeted the following month.

As with most of his major campaign pledges, Trump abandoned his promise when he was president and proposed cuts to the entitlement programs in January 2020.

Republicans across the country continue to talk up ways to destroy longstanding entitlements.

Arizona Republican Senate candidate Jim Lamon is running on a proposal to "save Social Security" by privatizing the program and raising the age at which people can access their benefits. Instead of every worker contributing to Social Security and getting a guaranteed payout at retirement or disability, Lamon proposes switching to a government-endorsed 401(k) pension account system as an "option for every worker to enjoy the benefit from investment in the US economy while also creating a tangible, inheritable asset for their children, instead of the government-controlled trust fund model."

Last month Blake Masters, the front-runner in the Republican primary for Senate in Arizona, told the right-wing group FreedomWorks, "Maybe we should privatize Social Security, right? Private retirement accounts, get the government out of it."

New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Kevin Smith has also called for Social Security to be gradually transitioned "from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan."

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott, the man charged with winning back a Republican majority in the Senate, has proposed a controversial package of reforms that includes letting Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and every other federal program automatically expire every five years and require Congress to extend them. The Florida Republican said in March that it was the best way to force the nation "to stop and take the time to preserve those programs."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

As Putin Sinks Into Infamy, He's Taking Down Trump Republicans Too

As I write, a 40-mile long convoy of Russian “peacekeepers” — i.e., tanks, armored personnel carriers and mobile artillery — is approaching Kiev with the clear intent of bludgeoning the Ukrainian people into surrender. The dead-eyed little killer in the Kremlin is too fearful to back down.

Even so, it’s not going to happen. Vladimir Putin’s forces can besiege the Ukrainian capital and demolish its monuments—albeit at a fearful cost to Russia’s conscript army--but overcoming the patriotic determination of its people appears beyond his capacity. So far, Putin’s invasion has accomplished two things: making Ukraine an international symbol of democracy and the Russian gangster state an international pariah.

And a bankrupt pariah at that.

Already, the reputation of Russia’s vaunted army has been tarnished in a display of logistical incompetence that’s left its forces out of fuel, stranded, and at the mercy of Ukrainian irregulars. TheWashington Post reports that “[m]ultiple videos from around the country have portrayed scenes of burned Russian tanks, dead Russian soldiers and captured Russians, some barely out of their teens, making plaintive calls home to their parents.”

They’re mainly draftees, you know. Evidently, many had no idea they were being ordered to invade. Putin has little regard for Russian lives either.

Furthermore, even if Putin’s forces were to capture or kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, they will have first succeeded in transforming him into a heroic avatar: A living symbol of freedom who has used his skills as a TV performer to rally his people against Kremlin brutality.

Frankly, it’s hard to imagine how Putin’s rule survives the consequences of his enormous blunder. "When dictators rule for decades,” former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has said “they (1) stop listening to advisors, (2) become disconnected from reality, (3) spend a lot of time alone, and (4) overreach. This is exactly what has happened to Putin."

McFaul also tweeted that he’s “confident in predicting that Putin's evil invasion of Ukraine marks the beginning of the end of Putin's dictatorship and Putinism in Russia. No moral person can support this heinous war. There are millions of moral people in Russia.”

Frankly, it’s good to be reminded. All across Europe, athletes are refusing to play against Russian teams.

In Moscow, however, the costs of dissent are high. Putin’s political rivals keep falling out of tall buildings and finding deadly toxins in their underwear. Chances are he’s just bluffing about Russia’s nuclear arsenal, like a barroom brawler demanding his friends restrain him. Nevertheless, should the tyrant’s rage and paranoia make him order a nuclear strike, I suspect that patriotic Russian officers would refuse.

And that could indeed be the end of him.

Closer to home, Trump Republicans are having trouble remembering which side they’re on, much less recalling that their hero was impeached for trying to blackmail President Zelensky into conjuring a phony investigation of Joe Biden. Trump also froze military aid to Ukraine, and even echoed Kremlin propaganda that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 American election.

Eric Boehlert points out that on Fox News, whose commentators are regularly featured on Russian state TV, a smirking “Laura Ingraham mocked…Zelensky’s passionate plea for peace as a ‘pathetic display’ from a ‘defeated man.’ Tucker Carlson announced, ‘No one on this show is…rooting for the Ukrainians for that matter,’ insisting Putin ‘just wants to keep his western borders secure.’” Celebrity author and Ohio GOP Senate candidate J.D Vance said, “I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or the other.”

After the political winds shifted, Vance did too.

This is who they are, America. Remember them.

Meanwhile, over on the moron wing of the Republican Party, the inimitable Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke at a white supremacist rally in Orlando whose organizers led cheers for Russia.

“Putin, Putin, Putin!” chanted the crowd.

Greene later feigned ignorance of the group’s views.

It hasn’t been but a month since J.D. Vance, who once called Trump an “idiot” and compared his fan base to opioid addicts, declared himself “honored” to accept her endorsement.

Today’s white nationalists are the spiritual (and sometimes literal) descendants of the 1930s “America First” movement, which held pro-Nazi rallies at Madison Square Garden right up until Pearl Harbor.

So, yes, America, we’ve seen this movie before.

Then there’s the great man himself. Even as the tanks rolled, Donald J. Trump called Vladimir Putin “savvy,” and a “genius.” Speaking at a Florida fund-raiser, he portrayed the Russian invasion as a clever real estate transaction.

“He’s taken over a country for $2 worth of sanctions,” Trump said, “taking over a country — really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people — and just walking right in.”

The man is a moral imbecile.

Now he says that if he were president Russia wouldn’t have dared, this guy who all but sent Putin an engraved invitation.

Republicans Use Waukesha Parade Tragedy To Push Anti-Semitic Politics

Conservatives have wasted no time in politicizing the recent Waukesha, Wisconsin, tragedy, in which a driver plowed his car into scores of people participating in a local holiday parade.

The most recent theory promoted by some Republicans is anti-Semitic in nature and suggests billionaire philanthropist George Soros is somehow responsible for what happened.

"The massacre in Waukesha is horrifying. It was also preventable," Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tweeted Monday. "Soros prosecutors unleash havoc and violence when they take power. It is their goal. When we take back Congress, Republicans will take on the Soros prosecutors and stand up for the victims of crime."

Conservative lawmakers have specifically tried to blame the liberal donor for giving funds to local district attorney campaigns, to back bail reform, citing the fact that the Waukesha driver behind Sunday's incident had posted bond just over a week earlier, after being charged with reckless endangerment and skipping bail in a separate domestic abuse case.

The man in question had a long history of run-ins with police and had allegedly been fleeing the scene of another suspected domestic dispute when he struck multiple parade participants, killing at least five. The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office has since announced an inquiry into what it called the "inappropriately low" bail approved for the suspect earlier in November.

While Soros has poured money into such races across the country, it was not immediately clear whether he had given to John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County district attorney. A scan of finance reports from Chisholm's campaign committee, Citizens for Chisholm, did not immediately reveal any contributions from the philanthropist.

Republicans were quick to blame Soros regardless.

"He funds everything destructive to faith, families, and freedom. He hates America," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) wrote. "George Soros should have his citizenship revoked and we should block his money from poisoning our great country forever more. It's simple. If you don't like our Constitution, we throw you out."

Invoking Soros' name in connection with conspiracy theories and global plots, as many on the right commonly do, follows a pattern of anti-Semitism that connotes Jewish control of society, according to experts. Soros is a Holocaust survivor who was born in Hungary in 1930, and made his fortune as a hedge fund manager.

"In far-right circles worldwide, Soros' philanthropy often is recast as fodder for outsized conspiracy theories, including claims that he masterminds specific global plots or manipulates particular events to further his goals," the Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish advocacy organization, states on its site. "Many of those conspiracy theories employ longstanding anti-Semitic myths, particularly the notion that rich and powerful Jews work behind the scenes, plotting to control countries and manipulate global events."

"Soros prosecutors" has become a canard on the right in the culture war fight around policing and tough-on-crime policies. Conservatives, for example, recently targeted a Muslim prosecutor in Loudoun County, Virginia, in the lead-up to the state's gubernatorial election, alleging that her connection to Soros resulted in a school sexual assault cover-up.

The more recent right-wing claims, including one from Ohio-based Senate candidate J.D. Vance that "the Waukesha terrorist is just one of many criminals that Soros-backed prosecutors have released into our cities" and that his philanthropy has created "death and crime across America," are the latest in a trend of GOP fear-mongering surrounding the incident.

Hours after the Sunday night incident, Fox News hosted Nigel Farage, a former British politician and Brexit leader, who connected the parade tragedy to the southern border and domestic terrorism, despite the case having nothing to do with immigration.

The attempts to tie the Waukesha driver to Democrats appears to be part of a broader attempt by conservatives to use crime as a cudgel against the left, alleging that high crime rates are a result of liberal policies to slash police budgets or admit immigrants and refugees into the country.

Crime has increased nationwide, but that rise has not been limited to Democrat-controlled regions. Numbers have ballooned in some cities that boosted police funding as well.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Phony Populism Is Leading America Toward Real Violence (Again)

Every time I hear somebody say that America's contemporary political climate is uniquely violent, I wonder: "Where were you during the Nixon years?" Too young to remember the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy? The Chicago police riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention? The killings at Kent State? A "Weatherman" bomb factory detonating in Greenwich Village? Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army? The 1992 Los Angeles riots…

The list could go on indefinitely. Politics in America has been a blood sport basically all my life. I've gotten regular death threats for as long as I've written this column, starting during the Clinton administration. One guy used to phone late Friday nights from a pay phone outside a liquor store, threatening to murder me and rape my wife.

Detailed, graphic threats at that.

After the phone company traced the calls, the police assured me that anonymous callers are cowards who get a thrill out of talking dirty. He would never show up. As, indeed, he never did. I always wondered what he was doing with his other hand.

Cell phones have pretty much put an end to such calls. They can't find your number. It might surprise you, however, to learn how many guys are dumb enough to commit the crime of terroristic threatening in an email. These days, as soon as they start, I simply block them. But I also keep a file. The only interesting thing is the psychological projection: who they think they're talking to, and who they pretend to be.

Hairy-chested he-men, mostly. Guys who, in the immortal words of Fifties wrestling icon Dr. Jerry Graham, "men fear and women adore." (Donald Trump stole his whole act from the grappler billed as "The Arizona Assassin, but that's another story.) In my experience, real tough guys don't go around boasting about it. Only professional wrestlers and Republican politicians.

OK, that was a cheap shot. But consider Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) the congressman who tweeted a cartoon video of himself killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attacking President Biden with a sword. Rather like my guy outside the liquor store, I'd say.

See, the thing that drives these boys crazy about AOC isn't simply her Bernie-crat politics, but her quick-witted New York bartender's demeanor: She's the kind of beautiful woman skilled at fending off jerks who make clumsy passes.

Politically speaking, I've got my own issues with AOC and "The Squad." Democrats who label themselves "Socialist" are doing the right-wingers' work for them. In much of the country, the label's simply toxic, and no amount of clever apologetics can make it less so.

But I digress. Sentenced to double-secret probation by House Democrats, Rep. Gosar was championed by virtually the entire GOP delegation in a scene right out of Animal House. Evidently it's perfectly alright to fantasize publicly about murdering a colleague and assaulting the president if you were just kidding.

And also, like, a total dork.

Then there's Sen Josh Hawley of Missouri, another virile Republican specimen last seen raising his fist in solidarity with Trump's January 6 insurrectionists. Hawley gave a recent speech at the National Conservatism Conference calling for "revival of strong and healthy manhood in America." Judging by media accounts, it sounded like a declaration of war against Ivy League gender studies departments, who Hawley thinks are responsible for young men wasting their precious bodily fluids playing video games and watching porn.

Literally, that's what he said.

"Hmmmm," observed the Washington Post's conservative columnist Kathleen Parker. "Why is it that the guys who look as though they've never so much as pushed a lawn mower are always the ones who want to saddle up and save the womenfolk?"

Cruel, unfair, and precisely on target.

My response to Hawley is as follows: Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to watch this week's Michigan-Ohio State football game. Do you still think effeminate girly-men are taking over the USA? Closer to home, the Missouri-Arkansas game would do.

Everywhere you look, privileged characters with fancy private school degrees are venting populist rage. Stirring up the mob. Not only Sen. Hawley (Stanford and Yale), but establishment figures like Sen. Ted Cruz (Princeton, Harvard), J. D. Vance (Yale Law) fill the air with violent invective.

To longtime conservative author David Brooks, they're "wrong to think there is a unified thing called 'the left' that hates America. This is just the apocalyptic menace many of them had to invent in order to justify their decision to vote for Donald Trump."

But the mob is definitely listening. At a right-wing rally in Idaho recently, a young man asked publicly when it would be OK to shoot Democrats. "How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?"

The crowd applauded. Lies and crackpot rhetoric have consequences.

So when will the shooting start?

This is America. Stick around.

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.

J.D. Vance's Cynical Senate Candidacy Crashing As He Shuns Debates

In Ohio, Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance and former State Treasurer Josh Mandel are battling for the GOP nomination in the Buckeye State's 2022 U.S. Senate race — and they are jumping through hoops to show who is the biggest MAGA wingnut. Vance is, hands down, the bigger flip-flopper of the two; he went from being a blistering critic of Donald Trump in 2016 to being a strident, in-your-face Trump sycophant during the 2020 election. And Never Trump conservative Jim Swift, in an article published by The Bulwark on November 11, argues that Vance's obvious insincerity is sinking his campaign.

Not unlike all the other former Trump critics in the GOP who became knee-jerk Trump devotees — from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate New York — Vance comes across as a shameless opportunist who will say or do anything to show how MAGA he is. Arch-conservative Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, in contrast, now comes across as a principled MAGA opponent; liberals and progressives detest many of her policies and neocon views, but find themselves applauding her for defending the rule of law and the United States' system of checks and balances.

Cheney views President Joe Biden as the loyal opposition; Vance and Mandel don't. Or, at least Vance pretends that he doesn't. The Hillbilly Elegy author is such a cynical flip flopper that is hard to gauge what he really thinks.

But Mandel, Swift stresses in his Bulwark article, is convincing MAGA voters in Ohio that he is the real deal.

"As much as he tries, J.D. Vance cannot out-crazy Josh Mandel," Swift explains. "But try he has. Bizarre video rants about Kyle Rittenhouse; attacking detractors for having a picture of an animal in their profile picture; a defense of Trump hatchet man Johnny McEntee, who comes across as a psychopath — and this is all within just the last three days. There's so much more."

Swift continues, "Even while J.D. continues to try to compete with Josh on the Ohio Right-Wing Scoville Scale of Spicy Craziness, he is doing something that suggests that his Peter Thiel-supported candidacy is imploding. Vance has chickened out and refused to debate other candidates twice recently, citing prior commitments. But reporting from the Daily Beast contradicts that excuse."

Mandel, Swift observes, has been "running away with the race in polls." For example, a WPA Intelligence poll released in late September found Mandel ahead of Vance by 24 percent. However, an OH-Sen poll found Mandel ahead by only three percent.



Swift notes that a recent anti-Vance attack ad slams him for being so ridiculous a flip-flopper:


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.