The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Tag: republican party

Fox Hosts To Headline GOP Fundraisers Despite Network's ‘Policy’

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox hosts Larry Kudlow and Tomi Lahren are scheduled to participate in Republican Party fundraisers in the coming weeks. The two network employees are doing campaign events even though Fox claims it has a policy against such practices.

Fox News said in 2018 that it "does not condone any talent participating in campaign events." Media Matters, however, has exhaustively documented how the self-described news network has inconsistently enforced that supposed policywith its personnel over the years.

Kudlow is a former Trump administration official who hosts the Fox Business program Kudlow. Lahren hosts the Fox Nation programs Final Thoughts and No Interruption. Both are also Fox News contributors.

Kudlow is scheduled to keynote the Bridgeport Republican Town Committee Lincoln Day Dinner in Connecticut on August 7. Tickets for the event, which is also set to feature former Trump administration official Linda McMahon, range from $100 to $250.

Lahren is scheduled to speak at the Sumter County Republican Party's Red White and Blue BBQ and Valor Awards in Florida on July 22. Tickets for the event, which is also set to feature toxic commentator and former Sheriff David Clarke, are $100.

Conservatives Betray Their Own Values By Rejecting Vaccine Passports

If there is any fundamental belief that has always united conservatives, it's the central importance of property rights. James Madison wrote: "Government is instituted to protect property of every sort ... (T)hat alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own." Said economist Milton Friedman, "Nothing is so important for freedom as recognizing in the law each individual's natural right to property."

That idea still has some appeal on the right. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has gone so far as to criticize the Fair Housing Act, which barred racial discrimination in the sale and rental of homes, for infringing on the liberty of owners. "Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered," he wrote in 2002. "As a consequence, some associations will discriminate." He was fine with that.

But Republicans have gotten fickle about the rights of property owners. This shift is apparent in their rejection of "vaccine passports," which would allow businesses to deny service to people who have not been inoculated against COVID-19.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis argued, "It's completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society." Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) said, "Vaccine credentials would be a complete government overstep" and would risk "substantially limiting normal day-to-day essential activities."

The Biden administration has said it has no interest in making such verification mandatory for any purpose. "We're not going to have any federally mandated, universal vaccine credential, and there will not be a federal database," said White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients. All it is doing is looking for ways to facilitate private-sector initiatives while protecting privacy and preventing fraud.

Some of the objections grow out of the fever-swamp paranoia we have come to expect from people who think COVID-19 was unleashed by Bill Gates to bring about a world government. But some of it comes from people who think anything that conflicts with their selfish preferences is a violation of their rights.

Americans have never had a problem with businesses enforcing a dress code for employees or restaurants requiring patrons to wear shoes and shirts. Conservatives champion the right of bakers to refuse to provide cakes for same-sex weddings. They think pharmacies should not have to provide emergency contraceptives.

They don't mind when corporations drug-test job applicants. They registered no outrage when a Michigan ammunition shop said it would refuse to sell to Biden voters.

All these policies rest on the accepted notion that private companies are allowed to set their own terms for doing business and customers who object are free to go elsewhere. (The exceptions are rare, such as forbidding discrimination against historically oppressed groups.)

But the pandemic prompted many Republicans to suddenly abandon their respect for the property rights of private companies. Over the past year, innumerable videos have surfaced of Trump loyalists who refused to wear masks screaming at retail employees while claiming their rights were being violated.

Now, in the same vein, conservatives who refuse to get vaccinated insist that businesses are not allowed to keep them out. Gun-toting Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) tweeted, "Vaccine Passports are unconstitutional. Period."

She's welcome to take that up with the Supreme Court, which has repeatedly described "the right to exclude others" as "one of the most essential sticks in the bundle of rights that are commonly characterized as property." A business choosing to make proof of vaccination a condition for employees or customers would be constitutionally protected.

Just last month, the court heard a lawsuit filed by the libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation aimed at striking down a California regulation granting union organizers limited access to farms to speak with workers. The foundation says, "You wouldn't be forced to let a solicitor in your home — why on earth should you be forced to let a private-sector union enter your property?"

Good point. So why, if you own a business, should you be forced to admit someone who declines to verify that he or she has been immunized against a highly contagious and potentially lethal virus?

Conservatives used to place supreme value on all the rights that go with property ownership. But today, one of the most important ones finds itself being turned away at the door.

Steve Chapman blogs at Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

In Trump’s GOP, They Can’t Handle The Truth

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

Even if you don't like or have never seen the 1992 film, or if you judge Jack Nicholson's acting technique as, shall we say, a bit much, you can probably recite his signature outburst from "A Few Good Men," with appropriate volume: "You can't handle the truth!"

Why are so many in the GOP still insisting that the presidential election was rigged and that Donald Trump, the main attraction at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, is the "real" president? Why would a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — to avoid a repeat by the same forces who believed an election fraud lie — be a bad idea? Why all the squawking and attempts in some states to censor a social studies curriculum that presents a nuanced and complete history of a United States that has not always acknowledged the accomplishments and sacrifice of all its citizens?

Say it louder, Jack. I don't think the Republicans present and represented at CPAC can hear you.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to reassure a justifiably fearful country, in the midst of a crushing Depression, by being honest and positive about "our common problems."

"Let me assert my firm belief," he said, "that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

Actions motivated by that emotion, by fear, can easily take a toxic turn, away from the truth toward full retreat from anything that acknowledges "common problems" or a willingness to solve them.

At CPAC, speaker after speaker repeated a lie that widespread voter fraud, not the votes of more than 81 million Americans, put Joe Biden in the White House. Though that lie fueled the pro-Trump riot of Jan. 6 that left five people dead, too many GOP lawmakers refuse to face that truth, fearful that Trump will name them, as he did every one of the House and Senate Republicans who supported his impeachment in his CPAC speech. This acquiescence is coming from some who were witness to the chaos.

It's a soulless transaction that views democracy as expendable.

And it's leading to an avalanche of additional attacks on democracy, in the form of voting restrictions in states across the country by legislatures dominated by Republicans.

A Return To Form

Newly minted swing states Biden won are clearly in the crosshairs. Arizona Republicans are floating a law that would allow the state Legislature to overturn the results of a presidential election. And sweeping election changes under consideration in Georgia would, among other things, limit Sunday voting — a move certainly aimed at the "Souls to the Polls" events popular with predominantly Black churches.

Additionally, in Georgia, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, praised for defying Trump's effort to hold up the state's valid 2020 vote count, has made it known that his office will enforce the rule preventing folks from providing food or water to anyone standing in line to vote.

Enough GOP senators, looking more and more like those who once set up literacy tests and poll taxes, seem all too ready to stop House legislation proposed to make voting easier because of fear that a multiracial and multicultural America will reject what the party Trump still leads is offering.

With the Supreme Court looking primed to further shrink the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act, if the justices' questions this week in important voting rights cases are any indication, maybe the GOP shouldn't worry too much about its battle on that front, though voters of color might truly have something to fear.

Fear Laid Bare

"Election integrity" was the focus of Trump's weekend speech, as well as many of the sessions at CPAC. The fear behind that slogan has been laid bare by the continued attacks on voters in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, and other majority-minority centers, presenting a scary "other" instead of an America that's bending toward justice. Listening to the concerns of all Americans, to the truths about needed police reform, health care inequities in the communities most devastated by COVID-19, and environmental injustices on view just weeks ago in Texas, must be a step too far for lawmakers who won't believe the Trump-appointed director of the FBI when he warns of domestic terrorism by far-right groups.

At a Senate Judiciary hearing this week to address concerns about the intelligence leading up to January 6, as well as the threat of domestic terrorism, Christopher Wray's repeated declarations about the outsize role of militia and white supremacist groups and the danger that has his agency chasing more than 2,000 cases met GOP ears that would rather deflect.

While Sen. Chuck Grassley did not go full Ron Johnson, which would mean echoing the Wisconsin senator's wild and false claims of "fake Trump protesters" who ruined a "jovial" pro-police gathering on January 6, the Iowa Republican tried and failed in his effort to make Wray view domestic terrorism through a lens of antifa and leftist protests of last summer.

"We're not serious about attacking domestic extremism if we only focus on white supremacy movements, which isn't the only ideology that's responsible for murders and violence," Grassley said, though, according to Wray and anyone with eyes, those movements were most responsible for January 6.

The Republican Party of now was on view at CPAC, with Trump the star and a soundtrack of "Y.M.C.A" and "Macho Man," amusingly ironic for anyone familiar with the Village People's ethos and the anti-LGBTQ turn of today's GOP. Stereotypically tough "macho" talk marked speech after speech, though deception was rampant and the fear so thick you could cut it with a knife.

The scene was ridiculous, really, especially that golden Trump idol that had some worshippers bowing down. Don't Trump's white evangelical followers recall Moses, a golden calf, and false gods?

But it's not funny, as endless examples prove.

FDR seemed to forget his own wise words during World War II, when he signed an executive order that sent people of Japanese descent — men, women and children, most of them American citizens — to isolated internment camps. The racism-fueled decision, not extended to Americans of German and Italian descent, was eventually reversed by the Supreme Court, which once had given it a pass.

That whole chapter, which no telling of American history should cancel, remains a stain on professed American ideals.

It's not just the truth, it's a warning of what fear can lead to.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

CQ Roll Call's newest podcast, "Equal Time with Mary C. Curtis," examines policy and politics through the lens of social justice. Please subscribe on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Trump's ‘Cult’ Is Driving Away Republican Legislators

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Across the country, more and more lawmakers are leaving the Republican Party — and Donald Trump is largely to blame.

On Thursday, Arkansas state Sen. Jim Hendren announced his departure from the GOP, citing the violent January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which left five people dead, as "the final straw."

"I've watched a systemic change at the core of our politics that emboldens our worst impulses, the most extreme thinking, disables policy-making, and hurts all of us. ... I watched the encouragement of the worst voices of racism, nationalism, and violence," Hendren said in a statement.

The Capitol riots, carried out by pro-Trump extremists, were famously spurred on by Trump himself, who had provoked a crowd of supporters to march on the building to "take back" the country, saying they would never do so with "weakness." Inside, lawmakers were voting to certify the 2020 Electoral College results for President Joe Biden, an effort marred by pushback from Republicans trying to undermine vote counts in predominantly Black regions of the country. The rioters eventually stormed their way inside, threatening to execute members of Congress, including then-Vice President Mike Pence, who was overseeing Senate business that day.

The Republican Party was already losing officials for years during the Trump administration, but the trickle has grown to a steady exodus since the November election, and particularly after the January 6 riot.

On Feb. 2, a well-known Oregon Republican, Knute Buehler, said he was leaving the party, telling local affiliate KGW, "I don't know what the Republican Party stands for," adding, "It's almost become a cult of personality."

A day prior, dozens of Republican officials who served in former President George W. Bush's administration left the party, citing frustration with lawmakers still loyal to Trump after the January 6 Capitol riot, Reuters reported. Jimmy Gurulé, a former Bush administration official, told the wire service, "The Republican Party as I knew it no longer exists. I'd call it the cult of Trump."

In Oklahoma in January, former congressman Mickey Edwards, 83, a lifelong Republican, said he would be leaving the party, telling local affiliate KFOR, "It's gone. I mean there is no Republican Party anymore that has values, principles, morals, anything."

"This has become a cult. It's no longer a political party. It's a cult," he added. "It's the kind of a cult that when the leader of the cult does anything, no matter what it is, or how awful it is, they [support them]," he said, specifically slamming Republicans who "voted to question the election results even after people came into the Capitol."

Shortly after the November election, Michigan state Rep. Paul Mitchell also announced on Twitter that he was "disaffiliating" from the party, noting that Trump's refusal to concede after losing to Biden was "unacceptable." Mitchell said he "fear[s] long-term harm to our democracy," after Republican leaders enabled Trump's baseless conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud, which Trump's own officials later debunked.

The trend follows that of Republican voters, who are also leaving the party in droves. A February New York Times analysis found that nearly 140,000 Republicans in 25 states had quit the GOP in the month of January alone, with a surge following the Jan. 6 riots.

The Republican exodus signals a larger problem for GOP lawmakers caught in the precarious position of juggling those who disavow Trump, his fervent supporters, and those stuck in the middle.

Political analysts told Reuters that many Republicans who fled the party were from left-leaning counties in big cities, suggesting that moderate Republicans could be influencing their exodus. Their departure pushes the party further pro-Trump, the wire service noted.

"If these voters are leaving the party permanently, it's really bad news for Republicans," Stanford University political scientist Morris Fiorina told Reuters, adding that it will make it more challenging for Republicans to defeat Democrats in upcoming elections.

David Barker, professor of government at American University, echoed that sentiment, telling the American Independent Foundation that the split "means the GOP is going to be less competitive at the national level."

"As long as they remain in Trump's grip, they will lose presidential elections," Barker said. He added that the Republican Party risked severe political consequences unless it decided to "change course" quickly.

UCLA public policy professor Mark A. Peterson said in an email that the trend was a sure departure from the norm, but added that it was worth watching "what happens over time" to determine whether it was a longterm one.

He noted continued attention on Trump's failures in office might "reduce his hold on voters in the constituencies of the Republican officials who are currently trying to succeed [him]."

Many GOP officials are still standing by Trump, trying desperately not to alienate his lingering base.

A Monmouth University poll published on January 25 showed many Republican voters still support Trump, with 85 percent saying they didn't believe Trump's actions were worthy of conviction in his second impeachment trial for inciting an insurrection. (He was ultimately acquitted on Feb. 13.)

However, a majority of Americans approved of Trump's impeachment.

The complication for GOP lawmakers, then, appears to be the divide between Trump's popularity with his supporters and those fleeing the party post-election.

Barker acknowledged that "the party is splitting," but estimated that fewer than ten percent of Republican lawmakers overall were disavowing Trump — while at least three-quarters of GOP voters were sticking with him.

Jesse Lee, vice president of communications at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, gave a similar estimate, adding in an email that, "for the ten percent or so of Republicans who want to actually take their party back, they feel they have no place to go, and the sort of peer pressure is overwhelming."

"The problem the GOP faces is now is the problem they faced in 2018," he said. "They've become entirely dependent on the Trump base, but when he's not on the ballot, that base doesn't care to turn out nearly as much."

Of lawmakers' struggle to get out the vote without a Trump ticket, he added, "They are so beholden and so bereft of any other ideas or identity that they have nothing else to affirmatively motivate their side."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

The Right-Wing Theatre Of Cruelty: Rush Limbaugh, 1951-2021

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Before Fox News and Donald Trump, there was Rush Limbaugh. A talk radio trailblazer who chased ratings by stoking bigotry and shielding his listeners from uncomfortable truths, Limbaugh reshaped right-wing media and eventually the Republican Party itself.

On February 17, Limbaugh's wife announced on air that he died after a battle with lung cancer.

The Rush Limbaugh Show began broadcasting nationwide in 1988 and the host soon amassed an army of "dittoheads," a term which came to signal fans with unquestioning support for Limbaugh's views. According to Talkers Magazine, more than 15 million unique weekly listeners tuned into his show in December 2020.

Not only was Limbaugh syndicated on hundreds of stations across the country, but most other conservative talk radio hosts who came after him were — with few exceptions — Limbaugh wannabes. His disciples included future Vice President Mike Pence, who once described his own 1990s talk radio personality as "Rush Limbaugh on decaf." The cumulative effect was a never-ending stream of Limbaugh or Limbaugh-like rhetoric available day or night to anyone with access to a radio.

GOP leaders recognized the hold that Limbaugh, the self-described "titular head of the Republican Party," had on their voters. They responded by heaping praise on the host and fashioning their politics to fit his monologues. After the 2012 election, when some Republicans pushed to expand outreach to minority voters, the party instead chose to double down on Limbaugh's exclusionary politics.

As my colleague Matt Gertz observed, Republican leaders' constant appeasement of Limbaugh foreshadowed their approach to candidate and then President Donald Trump. Trump and Limbaugh understood the value they offered one another; Trump as the fighter Limbaugh's audience always wanted, and Limbaugh, who was awarded the Medal of Freedom by Trump last year, as the sycophant who could be counted on to spin or ignore Trump's failures.

Weeks before the 2020 presidential election, Trump turned to Limbaugh once again, participating in a two-hour interview in which he knew his lies would never be questioned. And throughout the final days of his program, Limbaugh continued to falsely insist that President Joe Biden had not legitimately won the election.

Media historian Brian Rosenwald notes that talk radio is an intimate medium, one in which hosts develop a deep and lasting bond with longtime listeners. Limbaugh manipulated that bond to convince his audience of things that were not true and to turn them against Democrats, the news media, and anyone else who failed to share his hardline views.

Bigotry And Lies Were Essential To His Appeal

Limbaugh entertained an audience that was primarily composed of older, white conservative men by mocking women, minorities, and anyone else who did not embody his default listener — setting the tone for the toxic, cruel politics of the modern-day conservative movement.

Sexism was one of the most reliable features of Limbaugh's program, and women were regularly referred to on the show as "babes" or even "feminazis" — a term which Limbaugh boasted about coining. Feminism, according to Limbaugh, was created to enable "unattractive women" to have "easier access to the mainstream."

In 2012, the host faced widespread backlash and advertiser boycotts after he referred to a law student who testified in favor of health care coverage for contraceptives as a "slut." During the #MeToo era, Limbaugh mocked and attacked women who reported sexual assault. The host was also virulently opposed to reproductive health care, once comparing abortion clinics to "death camps" and attacking groups like Planned Parenthood as "death squads."

People of color and members of the LGBTQ community were also frequent punching bags on Limbaugh's show.

Limbaugh once remarked that "all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson" and that "the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons." During Barack Obama's presidency, the host fed into birtherism and the conspiracy theory that Obama was secretly a Muslim.

Limbaugh repeatedly downplayed racial discrimination and espoused white nationalist talking points, arguing that immigrants are trying to "invade" the United States. Once, when discussing genocide against Native Americans, Limbaugh asked, "They all have casinos -- what's to complain about?"

After the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, Limbaugh described the decision as an "assault" on American culture that would lead to incest and polygamy. Limbaugh referred to transgender people as mentally ill and blamed the Roman Catholic Church's sex abuse scandals on "the gay infiltration of the Catholic Church."

When confronted with facts that contradicted his conservative worldview, Limbaugh promoted conspiracy theories and obvious lies.

A staunch climate denier throughout his entire career, Limbaugh once bragged about his role in undermining the American public's belief in climate science.

After a Trump supporter mailed pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and media organizations in 2018, Limbaugh suggested that the attack was a false flag designed to damage conservatives. The host made similar remarks in 2019 after the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand.

And when the coronavirus first began to spread through the United States, Limbaugh assured his audience — one of the oldest in conservative media — that it was merely "the common cold." As the death toll continued to mount, the host claimed that the virus had been weaponized by Trump opponents, mocked mask wearers, and accused journalists and hospitals of inflating COVID-19 case counts.

Limbaugh's Toxic Legacy Is Secure

For more than 30 years, Limbaugh's show helped to set the agenda for hosts across the country, and it's not clear who is likely to succeed him as talk radio's unifying voice.

One possible replacement may ironically be the only Fox News prime-time host without radio experience. Tucker Carlson's monologues are already frequently cited by right-wing radio hosts, and his emphasis on culture war topics — particularly his xenophobic, anti-trans, and misogynistic content — aligns well with standard talk radio fare.

But even Carlson is unlikely to match the hold Limbaugh had on a now-declining industry. Today, conservative talk radio is just one facet of a much larger right-wing media ecosystem, where television hosts and conservative writers all sound somewhat like Limbaugh. This ecosystem controls a political party whose latest president regularly sought the counsel of Fox News hosts.

Even without one of its central architects, a right-wing media machine built on outrage and cruelty will continue to deceive its audience long into the future.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

We Can Stop Wondering Who The Republicans Want To Be

When Marjorie Taylor Greene was a teenager, she —

Oops, wrong age.

When Marjorie Taylor Greene was barely into her 20s, she —

I beg your pardon. Wrong decade.

Read Now Show less

Millions Of Trump Voters Ready To Abandon GOP For His New Third Party

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Fully 81 percent of Republican voters still get warm fuzzies when they think of Donald Trump, with 54 percent feeling "strongly" about their adoration, according to a newly released Politico/Morning Consult survey taken Jan. 23-25. That whole attack Trump orchestrated on the homeland—whatevs. In fact, positive views of Trump have bounced back a handful of points since the outlet's Jan. 10-12 survey taken shortly after the Capitol riot. The survey also found that 75 percent of GOP voters disapprove of the Senate following through with an impeachment trial for Trump, with just 18 percent backing it.

So if you're wondering why 45 Senate Republicans just voiced their opposition to putting Trump on trial for his role in inciting the Capitol siege, it's because none of them have the faintest idea how to win elections without Trump — the guy who helped the GOP forfeit the White House, the House, and the Senate in just four years' time. Impressive.

On top of that, Trump's musings about forming a so-called "Patriot Party" have piqued the interest of more than a third of 2020 Trump voters (35 percent) and 30 percent of Republican voters overall. In fact, Trump's Patriot Party splits both groups of voters —Republicans and Trump voters — roughly into thirds, with a third sticking with the GOP, a third interested in joining the new party, and a third who say they aren't interested in affiliating with either party or else hold no opinion on the matter.

Trump, the great divider, is working his magic on the Republican Party and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. And no one in the Republican Party is inspired enough to chart a new course to winning more voters over to their side.

Loser Trump is all they've got.