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

Tag: marjorie taylor greene

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Incoming House Intelligence Chair Punts On Hunter Biden Investigation

Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has pledged to steer the committee away from politically charged investigations, including a Hunter Biden probe, and focus instead on its “areas of jurisdiction” — specifically, national security.

Turner’s remarks stood in stark contrast with the rabid rhetoric espoused by the fringe arm of the House GOP, who have since vowed baseless congressional investigations into President Biden’s family and other unfounded grievances in the forthcoming 118th Congress.

On November 17, barely a day after the major networks called the House for the Republican Party, Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) — ranking Republicans in House Oversight and Judicial Committees, which they are expected to chair come January — announced imminent investigations into the president’s family.

"The president's participation in enriching his family is, in a word, abuse of the highest order," Comer said without citing any evidence. "I want to be clear: This is an investigation of Joe Biden, and that's where our focus will be next Congress."

Taking a step back from the performative effort that Comer gleefully christened “the Joe Biden investigation,” Turner told ABC News host Martha Raddatz in an interview that under his leadership, the intelligence panel would ditch partisanship for oversight.

“Congressman Turner, do you view [Hunter Biden’s laptop] as a matter for the intelligence community? What are [Republicans] looking at there?” Raddatz pressed Turner on Sunday’s broadcast of ABC News’ This Week.

“So, I think, you know, one thing that’s going to be very, very positive about this Congress is: we’re going to get back to the committees working again,” Turner replied.

“And what the committee is working on, they’re going to be focusing on their areas of jurisdiction. We’re going to take the intelligence committee from what was an impeachment committee, a partisan committee, back to national security.

“There certainly are issues with respect to Hunter Biden’s laptop that are going to have to be looked at,” Turner added.

“Impeachment issues, you believe?” Raddatz asked, alluding to the egregious threats of impeachment that prominent right-wing luminaries and their allies have dangled since Donald Trump lost the 2020 elections.

“The impeachment issue was Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi. And where our committee was taken off the rails,” Turner replied, referring to the 2019 and 2021 impeachments of then-President Trump.

However, Turner glossed over GOP firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and House Resolution 57, an article of impeachment she filed on January 21, 2021, barely a day after Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America.

“Our committee is going to focus on national security and our adversaries. We have real adversaries where the committee hasn’t been focused again,” Turner continued, taking care to sidestep the Hunter Biden issue.

Turner’s comments mirrored his responses in an interview with the New York Times last month, where he promised to focus and work with his Democratic colleagues on national security oversight.

“We need to do the job that we were intended to do,” Turner told the Times. “I believe that there is a hunger between both sides of the aisle — members who are national security-focused, intelligence community-focused — to get this committee back on track."

The Republican also told Raddatz that the committee aims to provide the U.S. intelligence community with “the tools that we need” to “move at the speed of our adversaries,” rejecting Greene’s push to defund the Justice Department for investigating Trump’s novel heist of thousands of government documents.

Trump has repeatedly lambasted the FBI for seizing the stolen documents from his Mar-a-Lago estate, the Justice Department for reviewing them for violations of federal laws, and Special Counsel Jack Smith, appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to take over two Trump criminal investigations after the ex-president announced a 2024 presidential bid.

“You people have to fight. You have to fight. You have to be strong,” Trump remarked at a November 18 address at his Florida abode — echoing his incendiary January 6, 2021, call to “fight,” which incited a mob of his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol shortly after.

Greene Says Trump Promised 'Over And Over Again' To Pardon January 6 Rioters

Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) revealed that former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump are both "just sick" because some January 6 defendants are still behind bars.

During an interview with right-wing podcaster Steve Bannon on Saturday, Greene explained that she had posted a thread of messages defending the former president on Twitter. Greene said that she was trying to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday when she saw Twitter users angry at Trump for failing to pardon the January 6 defendants.

"I thought, this is ridiculous; they're lying about him," the lawmaker recalled. "People are lying about him. The very idea that he could have pardoned all the January 6 defendants before he left the White House on January 20 is impossible because the high majority of those people weren't even arrested until after he left office!"

"And he didn't even know them!" she continued. "He had no idea who they are. He doesn't know who they are still. He had nothing to do with what they did on January 6, um, so it would have been impossible for him to magically know how to find these people and pardon them."

Greene said that she gave a report about the January 6 defendants to Trump and the former first lady.

"President Trump and Melania were both just sick over what they learned," she revealed. "And he said over and over that he will — he will pardon the January 6 defendants."

"This is real political persecution," Greene added. "And it shouldn't be happening in America and so the criticism on President Trump is ridiculous!"

Watch the video below from Real America's Voice or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Marge Greene Paid Neo-Nazi Website Gab For 'Fundraising' Last August

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) paid a little over $1,000 in fundraising expenses in August to Gab, a social media platform that caters to white nationalists and is led by an anti-semite who says Jewish people aren’t welcome in his political movement. The Republican congresswoman has paid more than $37,000 to the site since 2021.

Greene has pushed numerous conspiracy theories, violent rhetoric, and bigoted remarks. She also associates with white nationalists and conspiracy theorists in the media and has an active account on Gab, where she regularly posts about her congressional and political activities. During the 2022 campaign, she also posted fundraising pleas to its user base.

According to an October quarterly report filed with the Federal Election Commission, Greene’s campaign paid $1,020.01 on August 15 to Gab for “digital marketing for fundraising.” Media Matters reported in February that Greene paid $36,741 in marketing costs to Gab in 2021.

Gab is heavily populated with antisemitic, neo-Nazi, and white nationalist users, including those who have been banned from other social media platforms. Many of them use the site to express their hatred toward Jewish people, including with violent threats. One of its users was the gunman who allegedly killed 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018.

A June 1 report by the Stanford Internet Observatory analyzed content on Gab and concluded that “extreme anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic content is rife, with open praise of Nazism, encouragement of violence against minorities, and ‘Great Replacement’ narratives.”

Gab is run by Andrew Torba, who has frequently made anti-semitic remarks and said that he supports a political movement which doesn’t include Jewish people and other non-Christians. Torba has praised Greene: In July, he said that “she is getting loud with the explicit Christian nationalism and I love to see it. This is great stuff.”

Torba and Greene both appeared at Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes’ white nationalist conference in February.

Greene paid Gab for fundraising shortly after unsuccessful Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano received heavy criticism for paying the site for “consulting.” Mastriano later removed his Gab account and issued a statement distancing himself from its CEO, but never actually criticized Torba or the site for anti-semitism.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker have also run advertising on Gab.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

GOP 'Investigations' Rerun Is The Lowest Form Of Political Comedy

Now that the Republicans have eked out a tiny majority in the next Congress, their leaders have announced the party’s legislative agenda – zero legislation but endless “investigation.”

Nobody except small children could have been surprised by the House Republican announcement, which was like a rollout touting the next sequel of a mediocre sci-fi franchise. While this show too will attract diehard fans, it sorely lacks freshness or appeal.

In 1994, when Republicans took control of Congress for the first time in 40 years, Newt Gingrich’s first order of business was to order up investigations on every conceivable front. Both House and Senate Republican leaders named special committees to excavate the Whitewater “scandal” – a long-ago land deal in rural Arkansas that had cost Bill and Hillary Clinton around $45,000 after a swindle perpetrated by their business partner, a mentally ill operator named James McDougal they had met through mutual political associates. Despite the Clintons’ thoroughly documented financial loss, the Republicans and the media endlessly promoted a false version of the story that supposedly implicated the Clintons criminally.

Neither the Congressional investigations nor the parallel probe by the late Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr -- which squandered tens of millions of dollars -- ever proved any of the baroque assertions, which came to include a fantastic tale of the Clintons smuggling cocaine through a rural airport. And while those probes provoked episodes of hysteria in the press, none had much impact on voters, who reelected President Clinton overwhelmingly in 1996.

Flash forward to the Obama administration, which came under similarly hollow inquisitions by Congressional Republicans after the 2010 midterm. They busied themselves with conspiracy theories about the Internal Revenue Service and other smears, only to see President Obama easily reelected.

Then came the infamous Benghazi investigation, with yet another special House committee assigned to produce redundant nonsense after nine other investigations cleared the Obama administration and specifically Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of any wrongdoing. Kevin McCarthy himself famously blurted the true purpose of that fiasco, when he boasted that its entire motive was to damage Clinton’s reputation before the 2016 election cycle.

And now we hear again from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the excitable former wrestling coach credibly accused of covering up the sexual abuse of Ohio State students, who promises that GOP investigations will “frame up the 2024 election.” Anyone who observed Jordan in frantic and fruitless action during the Benghazi hearings -- especially that epic day when Hillary testified for 11 hours – can anticipate his upcoming antics. But he will face heavy competition from the equally manic Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who reportedly has elbowed her way onto the House Oversight Committee in a deal to support McCarthy for Speaker.

When Republicans take power on January 3, 2023, the political abuse of congressional authority is set on rerun. The coming attractions touted by Jordan and Rep James Comer (R-KY) focus on the international business dealings of Hunter Biden, alleged for years to have entangled the president and other family members. Promising proof of bribery, money laundering, and other offenses, the incoming inquisitors point to a laptop computer that once belonged to Hunter Biden and the already debunked claims by a highly dubious former business partner.

This is a revival of the smears mounted by the Trump campaign and its allies years ago, back when Donald Trump tried to coerce the government of Ukraine into framing Biden with a faked “investigation” in exchange for defensive missiles, which led to his first impeachment.

But back to our upcoming rerun: Remember how disgraced attorney Rudy Giuliani first showed up with that Hunter Biden laptop? And how he refused to let anyone conduct a forensic examination of its hard drive? Giuliani couldn’t account for its chain of custody, but we now know that persons other than Hunter Biden have tampered with its contents. As a source of reliable information, the mystery laptop still remains highly suspect.

Not much better can be said for Tony Bobulinski, the ex-partner of the younger Biden who went over to the Trump camp two years ago. Before the 2020 election, he told the Wall Street Journal that Joe Biden had participated in his son’s overseas business affairs and lied about it. But after extensive reporting, the conservative Journal found that the available evidence contradicted Bobulinski’s sensational claims.

By his own account, Hunter Biden is a man whose personal tragedies, self-destructive addictions, and financial pressures left him deeply troubled. Cynical Republicans have long targeted him for mockery and abuse. What we have learned so far about him and his father is not a story of the father’s financial chicanery, however, but of a bereaved and tormented dad trying to save his surviving son.

What will unfold on Capitol Hill in the months ahead will closely resemble past episodes of right-wing snipe-hunting. After the tenure of the strongest Speaker in memory, Nancy Pelosi, we will see the weakest in Kevin McCarthy. The Republican Party is now in the hands of Trump’s stooge "Gym" Jordan and kooks like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, mesmerized by Jewish space lasers, pizza-parlor pedophiles, and the injustice of prosecuting the January 6 insurrectionists. Prepare for fabrications, fantasies, and the lowest form of political comedy.

On Trump's Truth Social, Unhinged Election Conspiracy Theories Rule

Misinformation and madness rule on Truth Social, former President Trump’s beleaguered social media platform, where the most chilling of Democrat-focused threats — “Wipe them out” and “Nuke them from orbit,” among many others — and the most outrageous of right-wing conspiracy theories are all daily fare.

“Hey, Truthsayer,” registrations are mailed upon signing up to Truth Social, a Twitter clone abounding in extremist right-wing rhetoric and screeds — scary even to card-carrying moderate Republicans.

Hunter Biden, vaccine and election conspiracies, and BlueAnon — a conservative play on the QAnon term to refer to “left-wing conspiracy theories"— are a fraction of the hard-right ravings that litter Truth Social as prominent figures in the MAGA sphere and anonymous Trumplican provocateurs on the platform engage in heated discussion of their fantasies.

False information about the Democratic Party’s midterm election campaigns and Nancy Pelosi’s husband, whom a hoax-peddling Trump supporter recently attacked after breaking into the family’s home, have spread rampantly within the far-right echo chamber.

Notorious agitators like the former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, MAGA firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and disgraced former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani all have Truth Social accounts, from which they peddle the lies and obfuscations already rampant on the platform.

In the days leading up to November 8, the platform and its users became more unhinged, fueled not only by speculations of a “red wave,” which would see Republicans regain power in Congress, along with hints that the MAGA chief himself will imminently announce his 2024 bid for the White House.

Trump Jr, for example, has, in preparation for the midterms, prompted a flurry of vaccine, drugs, and Ukraine-related conspiracy theories on his Truth Social account, all of which are “eagerly lapped up by fellow Truthers,” according to the Guardian.

Greene, another thought leader on the platform, renowned for her extremist lexicon (and malapropisms), is one of the loudest disinformation merchants on the platform, disseminating vitriolic mendacities that outdo her already-obscene Twitter feed.

“A darling of the Trump-Republican movement,” the Guardian’s Adam Gabbatt writes, “[Greene] has become one of the loudest voices in what is a very loud room.”

Like Trump Jr., Greene’s rhetoric in the lead-up to the midterms grew even more furious, and she hastened the flurry of foreboding, dystopian warnings — widely deployed by Republican candidates and chugged down as gospel by extremist MAGA voters — from her account.

“Corporate communists control the speech of their employees & customers by only allowing Democrat speech and punishing, silencing, and canceling Republican speech,” Taylor Greene claimed, typically without evidence of any kind.

“But there is a shift beginning,” she continued. “People are beginning to refuse to be silenced and a Patriot economy is beginning.”

Emboldened by the alleged absence of content moderation on Truth Social, Greene has also levied groundless accusations at her Democratic colleagues, attacking more than just their political ideologies.

“There are more Democrat conspiracy theories & theorists on Twitter than Qanon ever produced,” Greene posted on October 28. “Most have blue check marks, post their pronouns, support war in Ukraine, are triple vaxxed & boosted, and work in corporate media, Hollywood, or the government. BlueAnon are dangerous.”

Alarmingly, many Truth Social users have been particularly sympathetic to Russia and its criminal invasion of Ukraine, using the #IStandWithRussia hashtag numerous times in the past month.

“Russia invaded the Ukraine to stop the NWO [New World Order, a conspiracy theory] for producing more viral weapons,” Truth Social user mikesonfire posted to the platform. The New World Order hoax hypothesizes the emergence of a totalitarian world government by a cabal of elites.

Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter — specifically, his promise to promote “free speech” on the platform — has been of immense interest to Truth Social users, who are intrigued by how the Tesla mogul’s back-and-forth with activists and Democrats, which has led to permanent bans, might affect Democratic political operations going forward.

“Democrats are not going to be able to handle free speech and the corrupt Democratic Party will fall apart after hearing the truth,” a user opined after Musk’s takeover.

Truth Social is described on Google’s Play Store, in which it was recently reinstated after an initial ban over content moderation concerns, as a platform that welcomes “open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology.”

For how long the platform can continue to cater to the MAGA crowd remains in question, however, as Digital World Acquisition Corp., the company looking to acquire Truth Social’s parent company, Trump Media & Technology Group, has been unable to raise the $1.3 billion capital it needs to complete the takeover -- and may be forced to liquidate by December 8 if it remains unable to do so.

Inciting Violence Is Now Intrinsic To The Republican Party's Fascist Lexicon

There was a saying in Hollywood when I worked out there in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s: To make a motion picture, first you need the written word. It was true. None of the moving images you’ve seen in a movie theater on your television would have been possible unless some writer had sat down in a room, usually alone, and written the screenplay or teleplay that told the story and described the action that would eventually fill screens for you to marvel at.

I should confess my prejudice from the beginning: As a writer, I have always believed in the power of words to inform, to entertain, to inspire, to soothe, to amaze, to stun, to motivate, to carry you away to places you’ve never been and to experience feelings you’ve never felt. Without words, we would be lost. We would not be able to communicate with one another. We would be unable to engage in commerce, to give directions, to express our love for each other or for wonderful things, even to grieve and recover from grief. Words are one of the most important things that make us human. The animal world is without them, although some species such as whales and birds and canines like wolves can “talk” to each other by making sounds that are emitted from vocal cords not unlike our own.

The Oxford English Dictionary estimates that there are currently 171,146 words in use in the English language, not to mention some 47,000 or so that were once used but have become obsolete. I don’t know the numbers for other languages, but with some 7,000-plus languages spoken around the world, there are probably two billion words in use by human beings on this planet.

Certain words are more powerful than others. The word “love” is one of them. It has been the subject of countless poems and books. It is a word found throughout the Bible and the sacred texts of other religions. The word “love” is as universal as the air we breathe. It expresses something seemingly all of us feel or are capable of feeling or want to feel.

But so is the word “hate” powerful. If words can bring us together, join us to one another individually or as a people, so can they drive us apart. Hate is one of those words. If you say you hate someone, you are expressing your apartness from that person. By hating a person or a place or an idea, you are marking it as wrong, as alien, as unlike yourself, as dangerous – a thing to be scorned, even to be destroyed.

And it is here that we enter the world of rhetoric, the art – if you will – of using words to serve the purpose of persuasion. You can persuade, or attempt to persuade, people for various reasons and in various ways. The academy, where rhetoric is studied, will tell you there are three ways to use rhetoric to appeal to an audience: As the Greek philosopher Aristotle observed, you can use “logos,” deploying reason. You can use “ethos,” counting on your own character and credibility to carry the day. And you can use “pathos,” appealing to the audience’s emotions and shared beliefs and values.

Political rhetoric, the use of words to persuade people, let us say, to be on your side rather than that of your opponent, can make use of all three corners of what they call the rhetorical triangle, involving reason, credibility (which we can read here as apparent truthfulness), and emotions. And that’s the way political rhetoric has gone practically since our country’s founding. Here are the reasons my program or policy is better than my opponent’s, and here are the reasons I’m more trustworthy than my opponent. For example, my opponent took campaign contributions from the “X” industry, so how can you trust that he will represent you and not the industry that gave the money? Here is a list of people with whom my opponent identifies, and these are the reasons his closeness to them is not in your interest. Vote for me! I will do the things I say I will do, unlike my opponent, who failed to keep his promises the last time you voted him into office.

Or politicians could decide to just sling mud and lies and hate.

There are plenty of examples of rhetoric visiting the gutter in American politics. In campaign ditties sung by troubadours – an early version of campaign advertising – John Adams accused Thomas Jefferson (accurately, as it turned out) of fathering children by a slave. Invective was slung about in campaign after campaign. Father Charles E. Coughlin, a famous “radio priest” from Detroit, at first supported President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal. But when he turned against him, he hurled anti-Semitic attacks at Roosevelt, accusing him of being in league with “Jewish bankers” who controlled the world, and thus the American economy, to the detriment of ordinary citizens.

In the 1930s and '40s and '50s, right-wing politicians accused their liberal opponents of being communists and socialists. The examples of racism being used in American politics is long and sickening. In recent times, there was the so-called Willie Horton ad used against Michael Dukakis by George H.W. Bush. And the infamous Jesse Helms ad showing a pair of white hands crumbling up a job rejection letter with a black hand clearly shown on the letter and a voiceover explaining that he didn’t get the job because of racial quotas. Helms’ opponent in the Senate race in North Carolina was Harvey Gantt, who was Black.

I’m sure you can come up with examples of your own of what used to be called dirty politics through the years. But except for the vicious rhetoric which preceded the Civil War over slavery, when southern states under the banner of the Democratic Party banded together to attack northern politicians, Lincoln chief among them, the harshest rhetoric in American politics was more or less one-on-one, with individual candidates making nasty accusations against their opponents.

Until 1990, that is, when Newt Gingrich, using GOPAC, a Republican organization put together to help train and fund GOP candidates for office, began his campaign to elect Republicans to Congress who would one day elect him Speaker of the House. In service of that singular cause – Gingrich made it sound like it was about Republican ideas and programs, but it was really all about himself – he released a memo put together with the help of Republican pollster Frank Luntz. The title of the memo was “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.” The memo was written because so many Republican candidates had told GOPAC organizers, “I want to speak like Newt,” who was then making fiery speeches on the House floor, usually to an audience that consisted of the House video cameras and zero members. The speeches made his reputation for using negative words and attack phrases meant to divide, diminish, distract, and destroy political opponents, namely Democrats and the Democratic Party.

The Gingrich memo codified Republican negative attack politics and was notable for language that was at the time called vicious and nasty, not to mention negative and outrageous. From the perspective of the week that Nancy Pelosi’s husband was attacked with a hammer by a right-wing extremist follower of Donald Trump who had posted long diatribes against Jews, the LGBTQ community, Blacks, and immigrants, the Gingrich memo seems to float into view on a pink cloud of lost innocence.

The memo has two lists of words Luntz had tested with focus groups to determine their political efficacy. The first was a list of “Optimistic Positive Governing Words,” meant to “help develop the positive side of the contrast you should create with your opponent, giving your community something to vote for!” It included words like building, caring, change, children, courage, crusade, commitment, family, fair, freedom, hard work, incentive, liberty, opportunity, peace, precious, preserve, principle, prosperity, protect, pride, reform, strength, tough, truth, we/us/our.

The second list, entitled, “Contrasting Words,” was meant to “define our opponents” and be applied to Democrats’ “record, proposals, and their party.” Here we go with the attack vocabulary according to Newt Gingrich: abuse of power; anti flag, family, child, jobs; bizarre; cheat; bosses; bureaucracy; corrupt; criminal rights; decay; destroy; destructive; disgrace; greed; failure; incompetent; intolerant; liberal; lie; pathetic; permissive; radical; selfish; self-serving; shallow; shame; sick; steal; taxes; they/them; traitors; unionize, waste; welfare.

The words themselves were not as remarkable as the fact that one of our two political parties made a decision at its highest levels to abandon persuasion in favor, essentially, of name-calling and attacking the other side not just as wrong on the issues, but as a group of “them” who were not as genuinely American as “us.” The fact that it was an organized effort to marshal a way of attacking the other side began to infect everything about the Republican Party.

An activist by the name of Grover Norquist, who ran a Washington D.C. lobbying outfit with the innocuous name of Americans For Tax Reform, began holding Wednesday morning coffee klatches for Republican campaign advisers, staffers, and legislative assistants on Capitol Hill, and he handed out what became known as “talking points” for the week to come. The Republican Party would speak with one voice for the next seven days about tax cuts or deregulation or what they termed “extreme” environmental policies, or whatever Norquist and other Republican organizers came up with. They would pepper their talking points with Gingrich’s attack words, and they would hammer their weekly message home with repetition ad nauseum. You would turn on a political program on television, and every Republican would be mouthing not just the party line in general, but a specific party line. And then next week, the talking points would change, and they would mouth a new one.

The words and the talking points worked. The Republicans took control of the House for the first time in decades and Gingrich was elected Speaker. Throughout the 1990’s and into the 2000’s, you could detect a difference in the way politics was practiced by Republicans as they deployed Gingrich’s attack words to demonize Democrats and label them as against everything “we” stood for. They were supposed to be used to contrast “good” Republicans from “bad” Democrats, and that is exactly what happened.

That is until, over time, the Gingrich list wasn’t nasty enough. Democrats became the enemy, or in the words of Donald Trump, the “enemy of the people.” Democrats are now “evil” and “in league with the Devil,” and not just anti-flag and anti-family, but “anti-God.” Democrats are going to “take your guns,” when no such policy has ever been proposed by any Democrat running for any office. And naturally, Democrats and any person straying from the Trumpian truth and narrow are now labeled as pedophiles, including a fellow Republican, former Arizona Speaker of the House Randy Bowers, who refused to go along with Trump’s charge that the election was stolen in his state. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, after she had been nominated to the Supreme Court, was smeared by Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri as being sympathetic to pedophiles because several prison sentences she had given child abusers were deemed not long enough. A rumor that a Democratic Party pedophile ring was headquartered in the basement of a Washington, D.C, pizza restaurant spread so fast and so far that the inevitable happened: An armed man showed up one day and shot up the place looking for all the pedophiles.

An entire movement, if it can be called that, QAnon, sprang up around the idea that leaders in the Democratic Party are conspiring to kidnap children, abuse them, kill them, and then drink their blood because of its “anti-aging” qualities. This charge has been levied against Nancy Pelosi by Republican candidates for office. Other Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene have labeled Pelosi a “traitor” and called for the “death penalty” for her. One Republican congressman ran an online ad showing him shooting a gun at a firing range with a voiceover calling for “firing” Nancy Pelosi. He was asked in a television interview if it wasn’t true that he was encouraging people who perhaps were not completely in control of themselves to take their guns and actually “fire” them at Nancy Pelosi or other Democrats. It had become so commonplace for guns to be brandished in Republican campaign ads by now that he just shrugged.

And so it has come to pass that this week we’ve got Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter and the world’s most wealthy man, as well as numerous Republican elected officials, gleefully spreading vicious lies that the attack on Paul Pelosi was somehow a gay tryst gone wrong. The garbage right-wing website they linked to just made stuff up. But Republicans linking to the site and Musk himself have become expert at using a kind of code to get across their hateful disinformation. It frequently takes the form of raising an apparently innocent question: I’m just asking, could this be true? Then they cite the lies they want to put across.

In his tweet about the attack on Paul Pelosi, Musk used another common way of spreading extremist lies: He didn’t come right out and endorse the story he linked to, but rather said “there is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye.” It’s the I’m just sayin’ scam writ large. The entire Republican Party has become adept at using the language Trump has employed when he wants to spread a story he knows to be untrue – people are saying, or I’ve heard from people who say. There are half a dozen wordings for the scam, but all serve the same purpose. Neither Trump nor any of the other Republicans who put across lies in this fashion have heard anything of the sort, but once they say it, everyone will hear it. That’s the point. A lie is no good unless it is spread widely, and they’re experts at moving lies around the information ecosystem.

I heard a Fox News host “just asking” why Paul Pelosi’s attacker had been jailed without bail when “lots of people hit other people with hammers,” and they don’t get arrested and held without bail, implying that because the attacker’s victim is the husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he is being singled out by prosecutors and discriminated against. The Fox News talking-head didn’t have to tell his viewers what they had been trained to know already: It’s the libs going after a man just because he’s a conservative.

It has become a common refrain from Republicans and their followers on the far right: They call the Trump mob that assaulted the Capitol “patriots” and claim they are being treated more harshly than liberals or Antifa or Black Lives Matter protesters would be treated for committing the same offenses. It’s utter nonsense, of course, but Republicans regularly spew such a miasma of hate and nastiness that it has become normalized, just another day in American politics. Some of the hate and lies are right out there in antisemitic memes and racist tropes and violent imagery like shooting guns. Other Republican rhetoric is coded or put in the form of “innocent” questions, but all of it is toxic, and its growth and volume have turned politics in this country dangerous.

This is how far things have gone: There are armed men in camouflage outfits and bulletproof vests standing watch at ballot drop-off boxes in Arizona. A state court judge recently refused to ban this blatant form of voter intimidation and called it “free speech.”

My friend Charlie Pierce in his Esquire column yesterday referred to the entire phenomenon of the Republicans’ descent not just into violent rhetoric but violence itself as “the prion disease [that] has jumped from one subject population to the general public, and in too many ways, it is creating its own reality in the national mind.”

“We are all lost and mad,” Charlie lamented. I can understand why he feels that way. I could continue this brief history of the descent of Republican political rhetoric into a radical politics that embraces anti-democratic principles and movements and leaders like the ones in Hungary and Italy, but enough is enough. It makes me physically ill to go back through this stuff and write it down for this column.

I would part ways with Charlie Pierce in one way, however. The prion disease infecting the Republican Party is a metaphor derived from mad cow disease that can destroy whole herds if not caught and treated.

But mad cows catch the disease from infectious agents in the wild. Republicans have administered the disease to themselves, beginning with Gingrich’s memo more than 30 years ago, and the virus has mutated and turned deadly. There was a purposeful takeover of the politics of a political party that used to be part of our democratic system but is no longer. It is now a fascist party that is actively spreading a political disease that can kill our democracy and has already killed some United States citizens. The political ravings of Vladimir Putin about Ukraine would be right at home in the Republican Party of today. In fact, they already are.

It has gone beyond rhetoric, folks. To the Republican Party and its leaders, Democrats are not fellow citizens to be persuaded but a people with whom they are at war who must be destroyed. There have been enough guns in enough Republican political ads recently that it’s not just a phenomenon, it’s a fact. Even with all their voter suppression and gerrymandering and threats at ballot drop boxes and lies about Democratic voter fraud, if Republicans can’t beat us at the ballot box, they’ll encourage their loon followers to “be wild” and “fire” us.

After years of hateful and violent rhetoric, they’ll know exactly what to do.

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

Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

Ceaseless Far-Right Attacks On Pelosi Led To Assassination Attempt

A new analysis is exposing the real timeline of staged attacks against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) while explaining why it should not be a surprise that the lawmaker and her husband were the victims of a home invasion.

The report, collectively written by The Washington Post's Ashley Parker, Hannah Allam, and Marianna Sotomayor, sheds light on how far-right Republicans have been depicting the top-ranking Democratic lawmaker as a target for several years. In fact, some have even suggested that she be assassinated.

In the report, the writers highlighted how the alleged home invasion assailant, identified as 42-year-old David Depape, has a history of echoing conspiracy theories. They also suggested that the Republican Party's disturbing rhetoric may also be a contributing factor to the uptick in politically charged threats and violence.

According to the Post,"For many Democrats, the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul represents the logical conclusion of Republicans’ increasingly violent and threatening rhetoric toward their political opponents — a phenomenon that escalated under former president Donald Trump, who prided himself on his inflammatory oratory and who was often reluctant to denounce white nationalists and others spewing hate speech."

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said, "Sadly this attack was inevitable. Political violence is on the rise. And instead of GOP leaders condemning it, they condone it with silence or, even worse, glorification.”

As an example, the writers referenced the history of controversial remarks made by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). On multiple occasions, the conspiracy-driven lawmaker has encouraged threats against Pelosi.

"But the threats against Pelosi have often been particularly ferocious and date back more than a decade, when Republicans worked to make her one of the faces of former president Barack Obama’s health-care law," they wrote.

"More recently, CNN reported that in 2018 and 2019, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA.) — who was elected to Congress in 2020 and quickly became known for her conspiracy theory-laden views — repeatedly expressed support for executing prominent Democratic politicians, including Pelosi."

"Greene liked a Facebook comment that said 'a bullet to the head would be quicker' as a way of removing Pelosi as speaker, CNN found. And in a video of a speech Greene gave promoting a 2019 petition she’d launched to impeach Pelosi for 'crimes of treason,' Greene calls Pelosi 'a traitor to our country' and says the speaker could be executed for treason," with Greene sen stating in a video, "It’s a crime punishable by death — is what treason is. Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason.”

Michael Jensen, with the START consortium for terrorism research at the University of Maryland, also expounded on some of the problems that could arise when some individuals are targeted.

"If somebody sets their sights on these individuals and then they decide to mobilize, there’s virtually nothing stopping them,” Jensen said, later adding, "There was an opportunity for the more moderate elements of the Republican Party to distance themselves from the more radical elements and marginalize them, and be the start of the end of this wave. The exact opposite happened. What we saw instead was a doubling down on moving extremism into the mainstream.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.