The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Tag: lauren boebert

Behind The Sham Of Boebert’s ‘Small-Town Business Owner’ Image

Not unlike Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado is a far-right MAGA Republican who has gone out of her way to court controversy since being sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2021. The 35-year-old Boebert, a QAnon supporter and conspiracy theorist, is running on a pseudo-populist platform in her 2022 reelection campaign. But journalist Abigail Weinberg, in an article published by Mother Jones , demonstrates that Boebert’s image as a “straight-talking small-town business owner” is a sham.

“A close look at Boebert’s past reveals cracks in the narrative she’s built,” Weinberg explains. “And for several people who worked at her restaurant and know her personally, Boebert’s American dream has been more like a ‘nightmare.’”

Boebert owns Shooter’s Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado.

“Former Shooters employees tell me that, in the early years of Boebert’s fame, people visited the restaurant from across the country, and that the dining room was often packed with tourists on summer days,” Weinberg reports. “But they also say that the reality of working at Shooters was far removed from the lighthearted atmosphere shown on TV. In fact, five former Shooters employees tell me that Boebert frequently failed to pay her employees on time. Two of the former workers wished to remain anonymous because they feared retaliation; another did not want to be named and publicly associated with Boebert.”

A big part of Boebert’s hyper-MAGA narrative is that she had a tough working-class upbringing and that Democratic policies did nothing to help someone like her. But according to Weinberg’s sources, the Shooters owner has a history of not treating her employees well.

A former Shooters waitress told Weinberg, “The second the restaurant blew up, her head blew up — and it became something entirely different. And I got to meet a new version of her that is a monster.”

Weinberg reports, “Multiple employees say that they were paid in cash, either out of the register or from Boebert’s husband’s wallet, without any taxes deducted. While many workers were struggling to make ends meet, they say Boebert spent exorbitant sums on breast implants, private schooling for her sons, and a new Cadillac Escalade. They describe her as alternately absent, showing up only when news crews were at the restaurant, or demanding.”

Another former Shooters employee told Weinberg, “If she would come into the restaurant, everyone just knew we were just gonna have a bad day, because she would just walk around and nitpick.”

Josh Boyington, who worked as a cook at Shooters before leaving in 2017, alleges that Shooters was losing money in the late 2010s. Boyington told Weinberg, “Shooters don’t make no money. I left because I don’t even think we were topping $500 a day.”

Weinberg managed to get Boebert on the phone. But when the far-right MAGA congresswoman found out that Weinberg writes for Mother Jones, she hung up on her.

But Boyington was glad to talk to Weinberg, saying that while he agrees with many of Boebert’s right-wing views, he has issues with her as a person.

Boyington told Weinberg, “She’s an easy person to love if you don’t know her. It’s just, once you get to know her, you just don’t love her.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

QAnon’s Takeover Of GOP Surging With 72 Candidates Pushing 'Pedophilia' Lies

The long-running gradual consumption of the Republican Party by the authoritarian QAnon conspiracy cult is nearing the terminal takeover phase: A recent survey by Grid found 72 Republican candidates with varying levels of QAnon affiliation. The most salient fact, however, is not only is the cult presence growing, but not a single Republican in any capacity can be found who either denounces the trend or works in any other way than in concert with it.

That reality is terrifying not just because QAnon has a long record of inspiring unhinged, violent behavior with its fantastically vile beliefs and rhetoric. Most of all, QAnon at its core is deeply eliminationist, with an agenda calling for the mass imprisonment and execution of mainstream Democrats for ostensibly running a global child-trafficking/pedophilia cult—which seamlessly fits the people being targeted by Fox News and mainstream Republicans as “groomers” for opposing the right-wing attacks on the LGTBQ community.

Grid’s survey was based on a review of “public records and reporting, social media posts, and campaign materials and events,” which its team of reporters used to identify and confirm QAnon-aligned candidates for public office in 2022. They found at least 78 of them in 26 states, all but six of them Republicans, mostly running against other Republicans in their state primaries.

“They’re running for governorships, secretaries of state, seats in the Senate and House, and in state legislatures,” the study says. “They have raised over $20 million this cycle — and over $30 million since 2018.” Its simple summary: “QAnon appears to be a growing political movement with increasing clout and significant mainstream appeal.”

The highest concentration of these candidates is in Arizona, which has 13 of them; Florida is a close second with 12, while California has 10 and Texas has six. Over a dozen of them are incumbents, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado. Another 14 serve at the state level, mostly in legislatures.

One of the incumbents, Arizona House member Mark Finchem, participated in the 2021 Capitol insurrection—as did several other QAnon candidates—and has been subpoenaed by the House January 6 committee.

Most of these candidates, indeed, have never held public office and have dubious (at best) records of achievement:

  • Shiva Ayyadurai, who has four degrees from MIT and is running for the Massachusetts governorship, runs a website claiming that he is the inventor of email.
  • Ryan Dark White, who’s running for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland and goes by the name Dr. Jonathan Ambrose McGreevey, has also pleaded guilty to illegal weapons charges and to fraudulently obtaining more than 80,000 doses of opioids.
  • Carla Spaulding, a candidate seeking to be the GOP nominee to run against Democratic House whip Debra Wasserman Schultz for her Florida seat, pays herself a hefty $60,000 salary out of her campaign contributions while running up a six-figure campaign debt. Nonetheless, she has far outraised her Republican competitors for the nomination; she’s number three on Grip’s QAnon fundraising list.

As Grid notes, “Q himself may be on the ballot this year.” In Arizona, Ron Watkins—the longtime 8kun site administrator who is believed to have authored at least some of the “Q drops” that fueled the cult between 2017 and 2020—is running in for the U.S. House in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, though his candidacy is considered a long shot at best. Watkins vowed to raise $1 million for his bid, but so far appears only to have raised about $50,000.

In a rational world, QAnon would have shriveled up and blown away after all of its cherished predictions and beliefs about “the Storm” led by Donald Trump and his allies that would sweep up these evil pedophiles and put them in prison to await execution were completely demolished by the cold reality of Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election. But instead, it kept spreading and growing, its fanaticism helping fuel the January 6 insurrection, and providing a driving force for the ongoing anti-democratic insurgency that has followed. In states like Oregon, it now fundamentally controls the Republican political apparatus.

QAnon reared its ugly head in the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson. As Alex Shepard observed at The New Republic, much of the questioning from Republicans revolved around the core QAnon beliefs:

The Q-inspired pedophile smear is consuming Republican politics. “The phrase ‘child porn’ (or ‘pornography’ or ‘pornographer’)” was mentioned 165 times during Brown’s confirmation hearings, The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank tallied. “I’m not suggesting she likes what’s happening in child pornography,” Senator Lindsey Graham said Monday. But “she ha[d] a chance to impose a sentence that would deter [child pornography], and she chose not to.” Senator Josh Hawley, meanwhile, referenced QAnon in his own remarks. “Judge Jackson’s view is that we should treat everyone more leniently because more and more people are committing worse and worse child sex offenses,” he said, while also stating that “we’ve been told things like child pornography is actually all a conspiracy, it’s not real.” The lunatics who follow QAnon may just be onto something, in other words: The truth is out there.

Shepard also notes that there are concrete reasons for Republicans to permit themselves to be subsumed by an authoritarian cult: It polls well. “Nearly half of Republicans (49 percent) and 52 percent of Trump voters believe that Democrats run child sex-trafficking rings, per YouGov polling conducted during Jackson’s confirmation hearings,” he reports. “Even though only 18 percent of Republicans had a positive view of QAnon (compared to 16 percent of all respondents), 30 percent of all respondents believed that ‘top Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings,’ suggesting the wide reach of the conspiracy theory.”

What all this tells us is that Democrats this fall will be facing a multipronged attack by Republicans, all based on hysterical fantasy: Democrats are soft on crime, they want to push critical race theory and “transgender ideology” on your kids, and they’re pro-pedophile. All three are designed to appeal to the lizard-brained lowest common denominators: the people inclined to violent eliminationism. Candidates should come prepared.

Is There Any Way To Isolate Political Extremists? Yes

There is probably no easy cure for the Marjorie Taylor Greene phenomenon. She's a repellent clown whose presence on the national stage has yielded nothing but degradation — except for the guffaw she afforded us when denouncing Nancy Pelosi's "Gazpacho police."

And she has lots of company. Her colleagues in the House include Paul Gosar and Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert and Louie Gohmert and, sigh, many more. And even among the members who probably do know the difference between the Nazi secret police and a summer soup, there are alarming numbers who are extremist-adjacent. There are, for example, more sitting GOP congressmen who voted not to certify the 2020 election than there are Republicans who voted for a resolution to support NATO.

Democrats are not immune to the extremism virus either. While the Democratic Party hasn't lost its bearings in the way the Republican Party has, it is skewed by its own zealots. In the 2020 presidential primaries, for example, progressive activists pushed candidates to impose a moratorium on deportations, to abolish private health insurance and to ban fracking, among other demands. Those issues weren't top of mind for average Democrats, let alone for average voters.

In the pre-Internet era, our political parties seemed to be bulwarks of stability. But that has long since ceased to be the case. Rather than forming, directing and discipling their members, these institutions have become hollow shells. Unable to control fundraising due to the rise of small-dollar, internet contributions, and stripped even of the formerly coveted power of attaching earmarks to legislation, the parties, as Yuval Levin has argued, are mere soapboxes that permit members to flaunt their personal brands.

The party duopoly empowers the most extreme voters and leaves the vast middle unrepresented and feeling that in general elections they must choose the lesser of two evils. As Katherine Gehl, founder of the Institute for Political Innovation, notes, about 10 percent of voters (those who vote in primaries) determine the outcome of 83 percent of congressional races. And because primary voters tend to be more ideological and extreme than others, candidates pander to them to get elected and then to remain in office. The term "primary" became a verb only in the last decade or so, as the power of the party zealots became a cudgel to use against any member who even considered compromising with the other party.

There's one more factor aggravating the lurch to extremism, at least among Republicans (Democrats have different rules), and that's the winner-take-all system in presidential primaries. In 2016, Donald Trump lost Iowa and then won New Hampshire with 35 percent of the vote. A solid majority, 57 percent, was divided among five other candidates.

So, are we doomed to be at the mercy of the mad and bad? It's possible, but then again, one reform that seems to be getting traction is ranked-choice voting (also known as instant runoff elections).

It's already the law in Alaska and Maine for state, congressional, and presidential contests and has been adopted by more than 20 cities. In Virginia, the Republican Party used a ranked-choice system to choose its gubernatorial candidate in 2021, with the result that Glenn Youngkin rather than Amanda Chase ("Trump in heels") secured the nomination. In New York City, predictions that the city's 5.6 million voters would find the ranked-choice system confusing were not borne out. Turnout was up compared with the last contested mayoral primary, and 95 percent of voters said the system was easy. There were no differences among ethnic groups in understanding the system, and the winner was a moderate former cop.

There are many different approaches to ranked-choice voting, and experimentation will determine which is best. But even with the small sample we have, we can judge that the incentives seem better. Among the three GOP senators who voted to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, only one is up for reelection in 2022 — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Murkowski could uphold the norm of confirming the other party's qualified nominee and not fear a Trumpist primary challenger because Alaska now holds an open primary in which anyone from any party can participate. The four candidates who win the most votes go on to the general election. Voters rank their choices. If one candidate gets over 50 percent, he or she is the winner. If not, the bottom polling candidate is dropped, and the second choices on ballots are distributed, and so on until someone has a majority.

Not only does the ranked-choice system disempower party extremists; it also discourages candidates from savage personal attacks, the persistence of which arguably keeps some fine people out of politics altogether.

The two-party system has not proven to be a solid foundation for democracy. Time to disarm the crazies.

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 www.creators.com.

Lauren Boebert Declares War On Disney — And Loses Instantly

Lauren Boebert, the QAnon-backing gun-loving Republican United States Congresswoman from Colorado, has chimed into Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis's spat with Disney over his state's discriminatory "Don't Say Gay" legislation.

DeSantis and the entertainment giant have been at each other's throats since the corporation publicly condemned the "Parental Rights in Education" bill that DeSantis signed into law last week.

"Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” Disney said in a statement on March 28th. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country."

On Monday, Boebert made a prediction.

"Next year, the woke Disney lobbyists will ask Congress to extend Micky Mouse’s trademark," she tweeted. "I think not."

The Twitter community noticed some problems with Boebert's post.

It was all downhill from there.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

#EndorseThis: Randy Rainbow Raps Those Crazy 'Karens,' Margie And Lauren

The new Randy Rainbow video opens with his usual, a fake news interview -- and this time the target is a smiling Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

"You’ve had a busy few weeks speaking at white nationalist conventions, heckling the president's State of the Union," quips Randy. "Tell us, how do you balance your day job as a bigoted, fame-hungry conspiracy theorist with your personal life as a bigoted, hypocritical seditionist and overall threat to civilization -- and a mom?”

Drawing a bead on Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) as well, he defines the pair in his latest parody song, “Gurl, You’re A Karen” -- sung to a tune from Little Shop of Horrors (appropriately enough).

We don’t have to tell you this video is insanely funny. Why are you waiting to click?

Lauren Boebert Raising Money Off State Of The Union Outburst

Instead of apologizing for interrupting President Joe Biden while he was speaking about the death of his son and other veterans during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) is doubling down.

Boebert sent out a fundraising appeal to supporters, asking them to "donate today and help us ensure victory."

"When Biden talked about flag-draped coffins I couldn't help but call him out for causing the deaths of 13 brave members of our military who lost their lives because of his gross incompetence during the withdrawal from Afghanistan. We expected bad, but the #SOTU is worse than we ever could've imagined," Boebert wrote in the fundraising email.

During Biden's first State of the Union address, the freshman member of Congress cried out, "You put them there! Thirteen of them!" while Biden was detailing the horrors of toxic burn pits, which have been known to expose military service members to toxic materials that can lead to cancer.

The outburst, a reference to 13 service members who were killed by a suicide bomber last year in Afghanistan, came just as Biden began to mention the death of his son. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.

"They came home, many of the world's fittest and best-trained warriors in the world, never the same," Biden said. "Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness. A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin.

"I know. One of those soldiers was my son, Maj. Beau Biden. I don't know for sure if the burn pit that he lived near, that his hooch was near, in Iraq and, earlier than that, in Kosovo is the cause of his brain cancer, or the diseases of so many of our troops. But I'm committed to find out everything we can."

Boebert's heckling earned condemnation, though GOP leaders have largely remained silent.

"The president was talking about his dead soldier son. You and @RepMTG were a national disgrace tonight," Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) tweeted. "But worse — because you are irrelevant — [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy owns all of this. He won't condemn you because he is a colossal coward."

"I agree with what Sen. Lindsey Graham said. Shut up. That's what he said to them. I think they should just shut up," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), said. The Republican from South Carolina was seen to mutter, "Shut up" in response to Boebert on Tuesday.

A handful of Republicans have gone further and publicly criticized Boebert for her behavior.

"I watched the #SOTU last night. There were issues I strongly agreed with. There were other issues I strongly disagree with. That's called independent thinking. ... But we can maybe all agree that Lauren Boebert is classless. An embarrassment to the House," tweeted former Virginia Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman.

Spokespeople for McCarthy (R-CA), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), chair of the House Republican Conference, did not respond to inquiries from the American Independent Foundation sent Wednesday.

For her part, Boebert continued to criticize Biden and trumpet her outburst, appearing on Fox News Wednesday and writing on Twitter Thursday morning: "13 brave and heroic members of our military died during Biden's botched Afghanistan withdrawal. They deserved to be recognized during the State of the Union speech so I made sure to speak up."

Biden pledged to improve health care for veterans during his address.

The White House released its plan Wednesday, promising to cover care for new rare respiratory cancers, expand access to care for veterans who suffered an environmental exposure, process more disability claims for exposures, and train Veterans Affairs providers to better treat them.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

CPAC Taking Overseas Donations Without Foreign Agent Registration

A Republican political action committee is now under fire for accepting foreign donations while violating an act enforcing foreign agent registration.

According to HuffPost, the American Conservative Union and the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) do not appear to be properly registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

A copy of the complaint was reportedly given to HuffPost by a conservative activist under the condition or anonymity. The circumstances surrounding the violation led to a complaint that was brought to the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

“There is sufficient evidence of alleged violations to support a federal criminal or civil investigation,” the complaint reads, according to a copy obtained by HuffPost.

The complaint reportedly names Matt Schlapp and his consulting firm Cove Strategies along with "wife, Mercedes Schlapp, a former Trump White House official and prominent player at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the American Conservative Union, the ACU Foundation."

It was also noted that a number of foreign groups participated at the conference. They include: "New Direction, a conservative think tank in Europe, CPAC Hungary, the Japanese Conservative Union, and CPAC Korea."

In a brief statement about the circumstances, the Department of Justice's FARA unit said it "does not comment on any activities the staff conducts in its efforts to enforce the Act, nor does it comment on compliance matters related to registered agents or other parties.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Why Can't Republican Politicians Control Their Anti-Semitic Tic?

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) last week reportedly asked a group of Jewish people visiting the U.S. Capitol if they were there to do "reconnaissance," the latest in a series of recent comments by prominent Republicans that mock or are offensive to Jews.

According to BuzzFeed News, the first-term lawmaker and QAnon conspiracy theorist later said the comment was a "joke" and added, "I'm too short to see anyone's yarmulkes."

The same day, prominent GOP political consultant Dave Carney, who is currently the general strategist for New Hampshire Senate hopeful Chuck Morse, attacked the United Nations for passing a resolution condemning Holocaust denial on the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference at which Nazi officials set in motion their "final solution" that led to Third Reich's slaughter of millions of Jews during World War II.

Carney, who has advised Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, tweeted a story about the U.N. resolution with the comment, "And again remind me how much money we pour down this rat hole each year? Anyone?"

Troy Price, executive director of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, responded, "Seems like money well spent if it's helping to end anti-Semitism. It's pretty disgusting to see the @Morse4Senateteam spewing this crap."

Morse, the current state Senate president, has not publicly condemned the tweet and did not immediately respond to an inquiry about Carney and his comment.

Last March, Carney called flight attendants who enforce federal COVID-19 safety rules "mask nazi[s]."

At least two GOP representatives have also made comments likening coronavirus rules to the Holocaust.

Last June, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — who has a long history of anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and racist comments — apologized after saying that requiring proof of vaccination before entering the House chamber without a mask was akin to "a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany."

A month later she was back at it, saying in response to an administration plan to provide information on vaccines that the American people "don't need your medical brown shirts showing up at their door."

Last week, Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson apologized for comparing a Washington, D.C., vaccination requirement for restaurants and bars to a "Gesundheitspass," which is translated as "health pass" but was associated with Nazi "racial hygiene" theory.

Back in December, former President Donald Trump, who himself has a lengthy history of using anti-Semitic tropes and rhetoric, made the anti-Semitic claim that Israel once "had absolute power over Congress" and lamented, "And today I think it's the exact opposite. And I think Obama and Biden did that."

North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) has complained in the past to the Jewish Insider that it is really difficult to convince Jews to stop being Jewish and bragged of visiting Adolf Hitler's vacation home, which he said had been on his "bucket list" of things to see.

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks read parts of Hitler's book Mein Kampf aloud on the House floor in 2019 as he attacked media and Democrats over their charges of collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, which Brooks called the "biggest political lie, con, scam, and fraud in American history."

In recent weeks, Senate Republicans have been using procedural tactics to block confirmation of Deborah Lipstadt, an Emory University professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies who is President Joe Biden's nominee to be special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism.

Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) told CNN in December that some GOP senators were upset that Lipstadt had made critical comments on Twitter about Republican lawmakers.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent