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Boebert Suggests Her Election Was Divinely Ordained

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) on Thursday described her 2020 House election victory in terms often used by Christian conservatives that place U.S. politics in a context of biblical miracles.

During an interview with Tony Perkins, president of the far-right anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, Boebert said, "My victory in this race is certainly a sign and a wonder, just like God promised."

Telling Perkins about "the journey that Jesus took me on as I was called to Congress," Boebert said that she voted for Donald Trump, "who defended the right to life and honored the Bible."

"The wisdom of the world is foolishness in God's sight," she said of predictions that she wouldn't win her race for the House, reciting a Bible verse: "Just like God promised, he said, 'Here I am,' Isaiah 8:18 says, 'Here I am, and the children whom the Lord has given me. We are made for signs and wonder,' and this victory was a sign and a wonder to so many people who think that they have it figured it out."

"I see two possibilities here. One is that Boebert means that her election is in itself a miracle, something that testifies to God's power at work in the world. That seems more than a bit ego-inflated," said Daniel Schultz, a liberal Christian minister in Wisconsin. " The other possibility is more realistic: that her election demonstrates what God can do through the faith of ordinary people."

Schultz said, "It reinforces the claim that conservatives have God on their side: God shows power by sending righteous people into public office or public activism, with 'righteous' defined as agreeing to Boebert's hard-right agenda."

Boebert has previously used the term "signs and wonders" in a political context. She used it in a House floor speech on Feb. 25 speech laced with comparisons of current political events to events in the Christian Bible.

Christian conservatives have recently turned to the Bible in protesting the validity of Trump's loss in the 2020 election. The Washington Post reported in January, after the riot by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol, on an Arkansas ministry that broadcast to its listeners, "We thank God for exposing and foiling all the plans of the enemy set against him. We affirm his lawful election and pray for four more years with Donald Trump as our president!"

A growing number of them are also attracted to the QAnon conspiracy theory supported by Boebert, which posits a cabal of Democratic politicians and celebrities running a satanist child-sex ring, among other claims.

Former GOP Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told the Atlantic this month in response to a question about Christian churches and the Jan. 6 riot, "I have heard enough pastors who are saying they cannot believe the growth of the QAnon theory in their churches. Their churches had become battlegrounds over things that they never thought they would be. It's not so much the pastors preaching that from pulpits—although I'm certain there's some of that—but more people in the congregation who have become convinced that theories [such as QAnon] are reflective of their Christian faith."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

The Strange Nexus Between QAnon And Australia’s Right-Wing Prime Minister

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has never publicly claimed to be a QAnon supporter; in fact, he recently slammed the far-right conspiracy cult as "dangerous." But journalist David Gilbert, in an article published by Vice, examines the connection between Morrison and someone who is: Tim Stewart, described by Gilbert as "Australia's foremost QAnon booster."

Gilbert notes that Four Corners, a television series on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was recently planning to air a report that addressed Morrison's connection to Stewart — who, according to Gilbert, he has known for 30 years — but said it decided to hold off on airing it because of editorial concerns. At a news conference in Canberra last week, Australia's capitol city, Morrison was vehemently critical of Four Corners — saying that it was "really poor form" for the program to delve into allegations that he has some type of connection to QAnon.

Morrison told reporters, "I find it deeply offensive there would be any suggestion I would have any involvement or support for such a dangerous organization. I clearly do not. It is just also disappointing that 'Four Corners,' in their inquiries, would seek to cast this aspersion — not just against me, but (on) members of my own family."

Gilbert notes that Stewart, who has 20,000 followers on Twitter, was a "vocal" supporter of QAnon "from the very beginning."

"Morrison and Stewart have been friends for 30 years because their wives, Jenny Morrison and Lynelle Stewart, are best friends," Gilbert explains. "The pair were bridesmaids at each other's weddings, and today, Lynelle Stewart works for her friend in the prime minister's residence in Sydney, where she holds a government security clearance."

Members of the QAnon cult believe that the government of the United States has been infiltrated by an international ring of child sex traffickers, pedophiles, Satanists and cannibals and that Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 to lead the fight against the cabal. In the U.S., some far-right Republicans have openly endorsed QAnon, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

Morrison, meanwhile, has never openly endorsed QAnon in Australia — and he expressed outright contempt for them recently. But as Gilbert explains in his Vice article, some QAnon extremists thought Morrison was giving them a coded signal of approval during an October 22, 2018 speech before the Australian Parliament in which he "apologized" for child abuse on behalf of the government.

Morrison said, "The crimes of ritual sexual abuse happened in schools, churches, youth groups, scout troops, orphanages, foster homes, sporting clubs, group homes, charities, and in family homes as well." And Gilbert notes that Morrison's use of the word "ritual" caught the attention of QAnon supporter Joe M., who tweeted, "Do my ears deceive me? The new Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison must be a rider in #TheStorm."

"The storm" is one of the terms used by QAnon, whose members have often spoke of "ritual" abuse. But a spokesperson for Morrison told the website Crikey that the prime minister's use of that word had nothing to do with QAnon.

According to that spokesperson, "The term 'ritual' is one that the prime minister heard directly from the abuse survivors and the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Reference Group he met with in the lead-up to the apology, and refers not just to the ritualized way or patterns in which so many crimes were committed, but also, to the frequency and repetition of them."

Morrison's supporters have maintained that his use of the word "ritual" during that 2018 speech is a non-story, and that the prime minister has nothing to do with QAnon. Nonetheless, Gilbert notes that the story has persisted.

Gilbert explains, "The link between Morrison and Stewart wasn't reported in the media until months later when the Guardian linked Morrison and Stewart…. The controversy has not gone away. And whether or not the 'Four Corners' episode was pulled or simply delayed due to editorial concerns…. it will be aired at some point, meaning Morrison will have a lot more questions to answer about his links to Stewart and to QAnon."

GOP Extremists In West Challenging Party ‘Establishment’ For Power

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

One of the consequences of the GOP's sidelong embrace of its extremist elements—from the insurrection denialists and Big Lie gaslighters to the QAnon cultists like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert—is that far-right extremists are now perfectly comfortable identifying as Republicans. In some cases, they're demanding the overthrow of the party's establishment—which can't seem to decide whether to fight back or just succumb willingly to the incoming far-right tide.

Establishment Republicans in Western states are particularly under siege from extremist elements among their voting base. In Idaho, for instance, armed-standoff-guru-turned-pandemic-denialist Ammon Bundy filed paperwork to run for governor, in a race already featuring another leading state "Patriot" movement figure. In Nevada, an insurgent far-right group organized on social media and led by Proud Boys members are attempting an open hostile takeover of the Clark County GOP, the state's largest county-level Republican organization.

Bundy's filing is rich in irony. For starters, he is currently banned from the Idaho Statehouse in Boise after his two ejections and arrests for defying masking requirements, for which he is currently standing trial. For another, as KTVB notes, Bundy himself is not even registered to vote in Idaho, and has apparently never done so in the five years or so that he has lived in Emmett.

He also named himself the treasurer of his campaign, which means that he will have to refile the paperwork, according to the Idaho Secretary of State's office, which tweeted out an explanation: "Because a treasurer must be a registered Idaho voter, Ammon Bundy will either need to register and refile or name a new treasurer by refiling. IDSOS staff have notified him as such."

The Republican field to replace incumbent Governor Brad Little (who has not announced whether he will seek re-election) is already large, and Bundy's competition in the primary already features another leading "Patriot" movement figure, Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, who announced her candidacy last week. While Bundy was probably the earliest far-right figure in Idaho to take up the cause of opposing COVID-19-related public-health restrictions, McGeachin—who has supported Bundy and his fellow standoff-loving "Patriots" steadfastly from her office in Boise—has also been on the pandemic-denialist bandwagon.

McGeachin appeared alongside Bundy at one anti-restriction rally in Boise. More notoriously, she appeared in a video in which she brandished a handgun and a Bible while sitting in the driver's seat of a pickup, railing against coronavirus restrictions.

The political insurgency inside Clark County's GOP was reported Friday by Rory Appleton at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who explained that a group of far-right activists with deep ties to the Proud Boys are positioning themselves to take over the county Republican leadership. Some of its members, meanwhile, are alleged to have threatened a number of prominent Republicans.

The group, Appleton reported, organized online—primarily using the encrypted chat app Telegram—while reveling in anti-Semitic and white-nationalist memes and rhetoric. "Two Republican women in public office told the Review-Journal they've been threatened by leaders of the fringe movement, as did the current board of the Clark County party, which is hiring security for a crucial meeting Tuesday," the story reads.

Calling itself the "Republican Chamber of Commerce" (despite lacking ties to any known GOP organization), the far-right group first made its presence felt last month when it organized a late surge in votes favoring the censure of Barbara Cegavske, the state's Republican Secretary of State, for refusing to play along with attempts to overturn the 2020 election results based on Donald Trump's false claims of election fraud.

Since then, it has been preparing to provide a similar wave of votes to sweep three of their three leading figures—Rudy Clai, Matt Anthony and Paul Laramie—into the leadership of the Clark County GOP. The group has no record of doing business anywhere in the state of Nevada, and has no connection to any of the known chamber or Republican groups already established in Nevada.

Yet its website appears to be a nominally mainstream GOP group. Its primary emblem resembles the Republican National Committee's logo but inverted, with a red elephant on a white background encircled in red with the letters "RCC" and "Republican Chamber of Commerce" within.

Anthony has achieved a level of media notoriety as one of Las Vegas' most prominent Proud Boys, though he insists the local chapter is nonviolent and nonracist. After the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, he defended the people arrested and warned against a law-enforcement crackdown on "Patriots": "They're basically going all in on tyranny, guys. … They're watching. It's to be expected. They're the enemy. They're going to shut down our ability to communicate."

As it happens, Anthony is also a fugitive: He is the subject of an arrest warrant from the state of Michigan after he broke probation by moving to Nevada and then refusing to return after Nevada declined to oversee his probation, all stemming from his 2012 arrest on a drug charge.

The group's Telegram channel—owned by Anthony, and administered by Clai—is titled "Keep Nevada Open," apparently an offshoot of a Facebook group with the same name that boasted 17,000 members and organized anti-masking and other pandemic-related protests. Appleton describes a review of the channel's contents by the Clark County GOP executive board, led by chief of staff Richard MacLean:

MacLean showed his fellow board members several pictures and videos posted within the group, though not specifically by Anthony and Clai.
One photo blamed the 9/11 terrorist bombings on Jews. Another video featured a long clip of an Adolf Hitler speech and Nazi soldier marches. Some featured cartoon characters with negative Jewish stereotypes, and one photo featured messages written on dollar bills.
A post even poked fun at Republicans, claiming they seemed to be shocked at certain current events while white nationalists were thrilled by them.

The board promptly ejected the three men from the party. However, on Thursday, 10 people including Anthony and Clai filed a lawsuit against both the county and state party central committees, accusing them of illegally boxing them out of Clark County GOP meetings. They claim Clai and Anthony are heading up an alternative leadership slate, and are running against a mainstream ticket headed up by state Sen. Carrie Buck.

Despite the pushback by local Republican officials, the extremist elements remain emboldened in no small part because national-level Republicans have shown their eagerness to ignore the radicalism and even embrace it. Certainly, the local far-right leaders are confident that the party's base supports them, and not the establishment players.

"We have the numbers, and they don't, so they have to play dirty," Anthony said in an interview Thursday. "It's that simple."

McGeachin's campaign signs feature the hashtag #IAmIdaho. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are at a pivotal moment in history, not just for Idaho but for our nation," McGeachin said.

Bundy told NBC News on Monday that, despite the filings, he hasn't formally announced his candidacy, but is preparing to build a campaign organization.

"The people of Idaho are very freedom-minded," Bundy said. "I had never desired [to run for office], but I knew as early as 2017 that I would run for governor of Idaho."

Unvaccinated Republican Leads Anti-Mask Tantrum On House Floor

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A Kentucky Republican who is not vaccinated, and says he has no plans to be, led an anti-mask protest on the House floor — protesting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to keep a mask mandate following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was the organizer of the protest, according to multiple reports. Massie, along with nearly a dozen other GOP lawmakers, refused to wear masks in the House chamber even though they are still required. The lawmakers face fines for their behavior, as part of House rules.

"We've had enough," Massie tweeted on Tuesday. "We are refusing to wear our masks on the floor during this vote in spite of Pelosi's threat to take $500 from each of us. Her rule is not based on science. All you need to know is the mask rule has only ever applied to members when they can be seen on TV!"

Even if Pelosi had changed the guidance based on the CDC's new guidance — which says fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors — Massie would still not be able to take his mask off under the House rules, as he has not been vaccinated.

The rest of the lawmakers who joined Massie's protest — including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Lauren Boebert (CO), Brian Mast (FL), Chip Roy (TX), Madison Cawthorn (NC), Beth Van Duyne (TX), Louie Gohmert (TX), Ralph Norman (SC), and Mary Miller (IL) — would not tell NBC News reporter Haley Talbot whether they are fully vaccinated.

But some of those lawmakers, like Greene, have said they had no plans to get the vaccine.

And others have made anti-vaccine comments in the past, including Boebert, who in the fall of 2020 came out against all vaccine requirements, such as public school rules that students be vaccinated before starting.

Of the lawmakers in the protest, only one — Norman — has publicly confirmed being vaccinated, according to a CNN survey of every member of Congress. Meanwhile, every single Democratic lawmaker in both the House and Senate is vaccinated.

It's not the first time some of these lawmakers blatantly disregarded mask rules.

During the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, Greene was one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who refused to wear masks in a safe room where members of Congress were hidden from the violent Donald Trump-supporting mob that was ransacking the building.

Republicans have been fighting mask mandates since the early days of the pandemic, even though public health experts said face coverings were the best way to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus until vaccines were widely available.

And now that vaccines are available, many of those same Republicans lawmakers are refusing to get the vaccine, which could complicate efforts to end the pandemic.

Polls have shown that Republican voters are more hesitant to get vaccinated than Democratic and independent voters. And vaccine rates in states across the country bear that out, with blue states having far higher vaccination rates than red ones. President Joe Biden carried all 10 of the states that currently have the highest vaccination rates, according to the New York Times vaccine tracker.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.