The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: trump lies

'Master Class': A One-Act Play


Donald Trump is poolside at Mar-a-Lago, waving to guests as they go by.

GUEST #1: Mr. President!

TRUMP: See you at the fundraiser for J.D. Vance tonight. Have the steak.

GUEST #2: Stop the steal!

TRUMP: Have the steak!

An aide walks up to inform him he has a telephone call and hands him a cell phone.

AIDE: It’s Kevin McCarthy.

TRUMP: Again? Should I tape it?

He takes the phone.

TRUMP: My Kevin! You should call more.

McCARTHY: So, Mr. President, now they’ve subpoenaed me.

TRUMP: The Academy Award.

McCARTHY: I’m not accepting it.

TRUMP: Don’t go up there and slap them. You tell me, which is worse and which is more dishonest, the Oscars or the Emmys? Should have won the Emmy. A con game. An irrelevant show. Can you believe that The Apprentice lost to The Amazing Race? No credibility. Low ratings. A joke. Should have gotten it. Stolen.

McCARTHY: They want to ask me about what I said on that tape.

TRUMP: Just say it’s fake.

McCARTHY: I did already. When it came out, I said, “The New York Times’ reporting on me is totally false and wrong.”

TRUMP: You’re on the tape saying, “What Trump did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it.” And you told Liz Cheney you were going to tell me to resign. It’s on the tape.

McCARTHY: I told Fox News, “I never told the president to resign.”

TRUMP: And what else?

McCARTHY: I told Fox, “It was a conversation that we had about scenarios going forward.”

TRUMP: Kevin, you know what your problem is?

McCARTHY: But I told Fox, “What was brought to me, it said I called the president to say that – to resign. I never called the president to say ‘resign.’” Now they say I’m a liar.

TRUMP: They only believe you’re telling the truth if you’re lying.

McCARTHY: But I said I never told you to resign.

TRUMP: Don’t kid a kidder. You couldn’t lie your way out of a traffic ticket.

McCARTHY: So, what do you suggest?

TRUMP: You want some lessons, my Kevin? Let’s go to the tape. First thing, you say the New York Times reporting is wrong. Right?

McCARTHY: It’s two New York Times reporters with a tape.

TRUMP: That’s your first mistake. The tape is a phony, it’s fake, it’s made up, somebody forged it, it’s a counterfeit.

McCARTHY: Deny the tape? With my voice on it?

TRUMP: Until they’re willing to say who gave it to them, it’s a fake. And, guess what, they’ll never say where they got it, never name their source. You win, it’s a fake.

McCARTHY: And resign, asking you to resign?

TRUMP: Resign? Nobody was on that call but you and me. You tell me what you said. So, you’re not lying if I say you’re not lying. What do you think I should say? I’m your friend, aren’t I, Kevin? But there are others who are not your friends.

McCARTHY: Liz says she didn’t leak the tape.

TRUMP: Listen, Pollyanna, it’s someone else who wants to put a knife in your back, wants to shove your corpse to the gutter so they can be Speaker. It’s replacement theory. Liz can’t be Speaker. Didn’t you love it when Elise Stefanik blamed the Democrats as “pedo grifters” for the baby formula shortage? A gift for words. A girl after my own heart.

McCARTHY: Are you suggesting Stefanik leaked that tape?

TRUMP: She’s got purity of heart. Not a dropout, like, well, not personal. You know, I like Matt Gaetz. I like Marjorie Taylor Greene. Don’t forget Jim Jordan. He’s subpoenaed, too. No tapes with him so far. But Elise, she went to Harvard. If I were you, Kevin, when I sit down, I’d make sure my back is against the wall. Make sure you can see who’s coming and going.

A guest walks by.

GUEST #3: Let’s go Brandon!

Trump gives a thumbs up.

TRUMP: Get the steak!

McCARTHY: Yeah, I’ll have a steak tonight, rare.

TRUMP: Well done.

McCARTHY: Thanks.

TRUMP: I mean the steak.

McCARTHY: And I’m not going to testify.

TRUMP: If you do, they’ll refer you for perjury.

McCARTHY: Not if I tell the truth—not that I’m testifying.

TRUMP: Nobody believes you’re telling the truth unless you lie all the time. When you lie all the time, that becomes the truth. Then people will believe you. But if you tell the truth and then lie, nobody will ever believe you if you tell the truth, or believe you when you lie. And for the people who don’t believe you, if you lie all the time, they have to say that you think that you’re telling the truth—“on the one hand, on the other hand.” If you get to be “on the other hand,” that’s the truth. The pundits can say “on the one hand,” but if you’re “on the other” you’re just as true. If it’s two truths, you’re still the truth. If you lie all the time, you’re “on the other hand” at the worst, which means that it’s true. Maybe “on the one hand” is true, but maybe it’s a lie, but because of “the other hand” is true. If you lie all the time, that’s the reality, and reality is true, it’s reality, so that’s the truth, but only if you’re lying, that is, all the time.

McCARTHY: I’m trying to follow.

TRUMP: On the one hand, you said something on that tape, and on the other hand you said it’s false. Might be too late for you, my Kevin. Flunked acting. The problem is you have to lie all the time.

McCARTHY: But I am subpoenaed. If I talk and I lie, they’ll say I’m lying. What do I do now?

TRUMP: Don’t talk.

Sidney Blumenthal, former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, has published three books of a projected five-volume political life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man, Wrestling With His Angel ,and All the Powers of Earth. His play This Town, about a scandalous White House dog, was produced in 1995 by LA TheatreWorks. This is the fourteenth in his "Trump Cycle" series of one-act plays published in The National Memo, including The Pardon, Epstein's Ghost, Ivanka's Choice, Sunset Boulevard, The Exclusive, The Role Model, A Modest Proposal, The Exit Interview, The Hitler Gospel, Father Knows Best, The Gold Medal Winner, All I Want For Christmas Is Melania’s Non-Fungible Token, and Puppet Theater.

'A Liar And A Traitor': Sen. Warren Denounces Kevin McCarthy Over Deception

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) didn’t pull any punches when she laid into House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on CNN over last week’s New York Times report of leaked audio in which McCarthy privately blamed then-President Trump for the January 6 insurrection and suggested that he resign.

In her Sunday appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Warren didn’t mince words when CNN anchor Dana Bash sought her reaction to the unfolding situation. “Kevin McCarthy is a liar and a traitor,” Warren exclaimed.

“That is really the illness that pervades the Republican leadership right now, that they say one thing to the American public and something else in private," Warren added, referring to McCarthy and GOP lawmaker’s willingness to support former President Trump publicly after the insurrection he incited.

Warren expressed her outrage at Trump’s allies in Congress, all of whom, she said, “understand” that Trump’s “attempt to overthrow our government” was wrong.

“The Republicans instead want to continue to try to figure out how to make the 2020 election different instead of spending their energy on how it is that we go forward in order to build an economy, in order to make this country work better for the people who sent us to Washington. Shame on Kevin McCarthy,” Warren added.

Warren’s CNN Interview on Twitter

Warren’s fierce rebuke comes at a time McCarthy is struggling to put out political fires in the Republican party after he is heard on tape admitting he’d “had it” with Trump and opining that the former president should take responsibility for the January 6 attack.

“Well, let me be very clear to all of you, and I’ve been very clear to the president — He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No if’s, and’s or but’s. I asked him personally today, ‘Does he hold responsibility for what happened? Does he feel bad about what happened?’ He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened and he needs to acknowledge that,” McCarthy said in a clip obtained by CNN.

Hours before the audio clips were made public, McCarthy and his spokesperson vehemently denied the Times’ reporting of his conversion, claiming that McCarthy had, at no time whatsoever, made or shared any suggestion that Trump resign.

“The New York Times’ reporting on me is totally false and wrong. It comes as no surprise that the corporate media is obsessed with doing everything it can to further a liberal agenda. This promotional book tour is no different. If the reporters were interested in truth why would they ask for comment after the book was printed?” McCarthy said in a statement.

Although Trump forgave McCarthy for the comments, some staunch Trump-allies, including indicted Steve Bannon and disgraced Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FLA), have ripped into the minority leader.

McCarthy will need Trump’s support to have a chance at the coveted House Speaker title if Republicans win back the House.

How Bad Were OAN’s Last Months On DirecTV? This Bad

  • As of April 5, DirecTV has removed One America News Network from its TV subscription packages.

In January, DirecTV announced that it would not renew its contract with the far-right conspiracy theory network. Although OAN provided years of virulent bigotry and right-wing misinformation, including one reporter’s on- and off-screen attempts to overturn the 2020 election, the announcement came after a massive public backlash to a Reuters report which revealed that DirecTV’s owner, AT&T, played a critical role in creating OAN and supplied 90% of its income.

Once news broke of its DirecTV contract expiration, OAN filed a breach of contract lawsuit against AT&T and briefly solicited viewers for “dirt” on AT&T’s board chair. Meanwhile, OAN programming has gotten worse since January, as the network doubled down on old staples like anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and lies about the 2020 election, as well as irresponsible coverage of new topics like the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Supreme Court nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The OAN line on COVID-19 vaccines, as delivered by correspondent Pearson Sharp, is that the vaccines are “turning into DNA” to become “part of your body’s genetic code,” meaning that “there’s a good chance they could … kill you.” None of this is true, but in February, Sharp took these abject lies about vaccine mortality in a genocidal direction, telling OAN viewers that the survival of the United States depended on COVID-19 vaccines killing liberals. Sharp also appeared on Infowars, where he hypothesized that COVID-19 restrictions could spark a justified revolution.

Though she was not OAN’s only misinformer about the 2020 election, former host Christina Bobb became the network’s face of its attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. She fought for, reported on, and fundraised for the Arizona “audit,” and before she left OAN in March to work for former President Donald Trump, Bobb had begun a new phase of her pressure campaign against state-level Republicans to begin new “audits.”

OAN also attached its brand of unhinged conspiracy theories to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Multiple OAN figures have suggested or stated that the Russian attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, was what Sharp called a “false flag operation” connected to billionaire George Soros.

But few OAN personalities took as much of an interest in spreading misinformation about the war in Ukraine as prime-time host Dan Ball, who repeatedly spread Russian government propaganda about nonexistent “biochemical weapons plants” in Ukraine, and seems to fervently believe that the war somehow involves President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and the 2020 Trump campaign’s old, desperate allegations against Biden and a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma. In one segment about Ukraine, Ball even agreed with a guest that the U.S. military should invade and occupy northern Mexico because of immigration.

OAN also spent the past few weeks directing viewers’ ire toward Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. Like much of right-wing media, OAN is enthralled by the false narrative that Jackson “lets pedos out of jail early,” according to Ball, who also called the accomplished jurist “scum” based on this smear. OAN programming has called Jackson part of “the pedophilia problem that is currently happening in the left,” an unmistakable reference to QAnon lies (previously seen during the pre-QAnon Pizzagate era) that liberal elites participate in the systematic sexual exploitation of children.

In what may be OAN's waning days, as DirecTV essentially replaced it with Fox Nation and some of its more visible “talent” have fled the sinking ship, OAN launched its own streaming service in an attempt to stay alive. While subscriber numbers are not publicly known, it seems unlikely that “OANN Live” will make up for the financial loss of OAN’s DirecTV contract.

More importantly, OAN’s conduct since losing DirecTV -- suing its former carrier, spreading Russian propaganda, convincing viewers that not only will vaccines kill people but some of them have to die, to say nothing of its shockingly hateful anti-LGBTQ content -- should make it clear to any TV provider that this litigious, conspiratorial disaster of a channel is simply not worth the trouble.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Speaking With Historian, Trump Tried To Rewrite His Presidency

Julian E. Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University in New Jersey, has been writing a series of books on the United States’ most recent former presidents — and his forthcoming book, “The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment” follows his work on President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Zelizer’s Trump book, the historian/author explains in an article published by The Atlantic on April 4, led to a Zoom conversation with Trump during the Summer of 2021.

“As an academic historian, I never expected to find myself in a videoconference with Donald Trump,” Zelizer explains. “But one afternoon last summer — a day after C-SPAN released a poll of historians who ranked him just above Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan, our country’s worst chief executives — he popped up in a Zoom box and told me and some of my colleagues about the 45th presidency from his point of view…. A few days after The New York Times reported on the project, Trump’s then-aide Jason Miller contacted me to say that the former president wanted to talk to my co-authors and me —something that neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama had done.”

Zelizer continues, “For someone who claimed indifference about how people in our world viewed him, Trump was spending an inordinate amount of time — more than any ex-president that we know of — trying to influence the narratives being written about him.”

According to Zelizer, Trump was calm during the Zoom conversation.

Nonetheless, Zelizer writes, “If anything, our conversation with the former president underscored common criticisms: that he construed the presidency as a forum to prove his dealmaking prowess; that he sought flattery and believed too much of his own spin; that he dismissed substantive criticism as misinformed, politically motivated, ethically compromised, or otherwise cynical. He demonstrated a limited historical worldview: When praising the virtues of press releases over tweets — because the former are more elegant and lengthier — he sounded as if he himself had discovered that old form of presidential communication. He showed little interest in exploring, or even acknowledging, some of the contradictions and tensions in his record.”

A recurring theme during the Zoom conversation, according to Zelizer, was that “the best and brightest didn’t always know what they were talking about, unlike hardworking people who lived by common sense, as he did.”

“While talking to us,” Zelizer recalls, “Trump was working to influence the narratives that were told about him — as he’d done repeatedly during his time in the Oval Office. Indeed, he had even closed out his term peddling the case that he was not a failed one-term president, like Herbert Hoover or Jimmy Carter, but someone who had victory stolen from him.”

Zelizer also notes that during the Zoom conversation, Trump repeated the claim that the 2020 election was “rigged.”

In fact, the 2020 election was quite secure; widespread voter fraud did not occur as Trump has claimed. And bipartisan recounts in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, and other battleground states confirmed that now-President Joe Biden won the election fair and square, picking up 306 electoral votes and defeating Trump by more than seven million in the popular vote.

Reprinted with by permission from Alternet.

House Panel Subpoenas Trump Lawyers And Flacks Behind Coup Plot

Investigators probing the attack on the U.S. Capitol have issued six new subpoenas, honing in this time on a group of lawyers and other allies to former President Donald Trump who frenziedly worked in the runup to Jan. 6 to promote his false claims of fraud in the 2020 election.

In a statement from Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat said records and testimony from those subpoenaed Tuesday—Cleta Mitchell, Kurt Olsen, Kenneth Chesebro, Katherine Friess, Phillip Kline, and Christina Bobb—would help investigators better understand how the overturn strategy materialized and was facilitated behind the scenes.

For many watching the probe, questions have abounded for months over whether the panel would formally demand deposition from Mitchell, a prominent conservative attorney with deep roots in Washington. She’s served as counsel to groups like the National Rifle Association, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Trump-friendly lawmakers like Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Patt Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Roy Blunt of Missouri, among others.

Mitchell’s role advising Trump flew largely under the radar before the attack. Unlike other attorneys advising the 45th president—see Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, or Sidney Powell—Mitchell was less flashy in her approach. She mostly stayed away from the press and kept her name off of Trump’s lawsuits and other legal briefs flowing from the White House after the election. When she did make media appearances, she sometimes described herself as a “volunteer” to Trump’s campaign and legal teams.

Mitchell’s “volunteerism” came to a head, however, on January 3, 2021, when The Washington Post published an hour-long recording of a January 2 phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump asked the secretary to “find 11,780 votes” for him in Georgia and vacillated between flattering and threatening Raffensperger for the duration.

On the call, Mitchell insisted there was fraud in Georgia and griped at Raffensperger for not providing the Trump campaign data it requested. Further, Mitchell promoted the theory to the Georgia secretary of state that voting machines were rigged.

Mitchell resigned from her partnership at the D.C. law firm Foley & Lardner after the call went public. That resignation arrived just one day before the Capitol attack. The firm said publicly it was “concerned” about Mitchell’s relationship with the president. Mitchell said she stepped down because of “a massive pressure campaign … mounted by leftist groups” who were outraged over her “personal involvement with President Trump.”

Mitchell now sits on the advisory board for the Election Assistance Commission, the only agency in the federal government that has authority over elections.

The January 6 committee wants Mitchell to provide information about the Raffensperger call as well as testify about her contact with Trump on Jan. 6 and the days before.

Attorney Kurt Olsen, another Trump stalwart, was subpoenaed for records and testimony about a reported draft executive order he helped write that instructed the Department of Justice to “take voter action” addressing Trump’s fraud claims.

Olsen ascended the ranks of Trump's world quickly after he joined up with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal bid to have the Supreme Court throw out the 2020 election results.

Though they lost the case, internal Department of Justice emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee have since shown how Olsen pushed to get closer to Trump, succeeded, and then started taking orders. Olsen wrote in one email that he was directed by Trump to brief then-Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen about a strategy to relaunch a fraud lawsuit in Texas after the case was tossed out. His efforts were reportedly relentless and his devotion to Trump complete.

Boston-based lawyer Kenneth Chesebro was also subpoenaed Tuesday.

The committee is keen to interview Chesebro about the role he played promoting Trump’s “alternate electors” scheme and in particular, the Nov. 18, 2020 memo he wrote and then sent to Jim Troupis, the lead attorney for Trump’s campaign in Wisconsin.

The memo, entitled “The Real Deadline for Setting a State’s Electoral Votes,” proposed that the “real” date that lawmakers could meet to count and certify votes was January 6, not December 14, which is the officially recognized safe harbor date for the Electoral College to count votes.

Chesebro Memo by Daily Kos

Chesebro nonetheless insisted that “alternate electors” were a viable path forward for Trump to overturn the results. Their chosen electors in Wisconsin, he argued, did not need to submit their slates for Trump with “involvement by state officials.” This was false.

But both Troupis and Chesebro took their Trump-backed bid challenging Wisconsin’s election results to the Supreme Court. The high court ultimately denied the lawsuit.

The Jan. 6 committee has also issued a subpoena to former Kansas Attorney General Phillip Kline.

Kline is a staunch conservative who had his law license indefinitely suspended by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2013. The court concluded Kline’s robust desire to prosecute abortion providers was so intense that it led him to present phony testimony in some cases and in others, illegally obtain the medical records of women planning abortions in his state.

“Ultimately, we unanimously conclude the weight of the aggravating factors — i.e., Kline’s inability or refusal to acknowledge the line between overzealous advocacy and operating within the bounds of the law and his professional obligations; his selfish motives; and his lengthy and substantial pattern of misconduct — weigh more heavily than the mitigating factors and merit his indefinite suspension,” the Kansas high court wrote.

Kline was a hugely vocal proponent of Trump’s after the election in November and joined the president’s legal challenges to election results in Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.

Lawmakers on the select committee want Kline to disclose information about a private Jan. 2 conference call he organized under the umbrella of his “election fraud watchdog” group, the Amistad Project, an offshoot of the Thomas Moore Society.

The call involved more than 300 state legislators. Leaders of the “Stop the Steal” movement were also participating and according to a tweet from Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama that evening, over 50 congresspeople were on the call, including Rep. Jim Jordan.

Jordan was subpoenaed by the committee but has so far refused to cooperate.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro were also on the call, according to The Washington Examiner.

As for lawyer and lobbyist Katherine Friess, investigators say she was involved in the drafting of an executive order that directed federal agencies to seize voting machines. She also traveled to Michigan to “strong-arm” voting machine data from local officials, the committee contends.

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik—hit with a committee subpoena in November—has previously told reporters at the Daily Beast that Friess helped prepare legal documents, arranged interviews, and reviewed affidavits. Kerik said she also coordinated hearings and meetings when either he or Giuliani requested it.

Investigators have subpoenaed Friess’ AT&T phone records, demanding a review of metadata from November 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021. Friess sued to stop the review in February.

Lastly, investigators on Tuesday demanded records and deposition from Christina Bobb, an anchor at One America News Network, a pro-Trump right-wing propaganda network. Investigators say Bobb was involved in the drafting of an executive order that directed the seizure of voting machines by federal agencies.

Bobb is a former lawyer who served as a ”volunteer” to the ex-president’s campaign and specifically aided Giuliani. Giuliani disclosed details about Bobb’s role during a deposition in federal court last September involving Dominion voting machines. Though Bobb has been mum about the “alternate electors” strategy she facilitated under Giuliani, she has admitted openly to working on the legal campaign.

Bobb was also on at least one phone call where the alternate slates were discussed and she was in the “war room” at the Willard Hotel with other Trump officials on January 6.

The individuals subpoenaed Tuesday did not immediately return a request for comment.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Hillary: If GOP Won’t Stand Up To Trump, It Can’t Stand Up To Putin Or Xi

Liberal democracy is under attack not only in countries that have voted authoritarians into office — Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines — but also, in the United States, where Fox News’ Tucker Carlson openly praises Orbán, countless MAGA Republicans tried to overturn 2020’s presidential election results, and the Claremont Institute (a right-wing think tank) argues that democracy has outlived its usefulness. But in late February articles, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former U.S. State Department official Dan Schwerin and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria argue that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows why liberal democracy is well worth fighting for.

Clinton and Schwerin, in an article published by The Atlantic on February 25, stress that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine is about much more than his interests in that part of the world.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin pines for the old Russian empire and takes Ukraine’s independence as a personal affront, but the invasion of Ukraine is not a limited regional dispute between neighbors,” Clinton and Schwerin observe. “Putin is also motivated by a deep opposition to democracy more broadly; that is why he has waged a long-running shadow war to destabilize free societies and discredit democratic institutions in the United States and around the world. Ukraine is one flash point in a larger global struggle between democracy and autocracy — one that stretches from the steppes of Eastern Europe to the waters of the Indo-Pacific to the halls of the U.S.”


Events in Ukraine, according to Clinton and Schwerin, must be viewed as a part of a global trend in which democracy is also under attack by everyone from the government in Mainland China to the Republican Party in the United States.

“Much has been said about the assault on American democracy by a radicalized Republican Party, but its international consequences have not gotten the attention they deserve,” Clinton and Schwerin warn. “Republican leaders are abandoning core tenets of American democracy even as the stakes in the global contest between democracy and autocracy are clearer and higher than at any time since the end of the Cold War. They are defending coup-plotters and curbing voting rights while Russia tries to crush Ukraine’s fragile democracy and China menaces not only Taiwan, but democracies everywhere, from Australia to Lithuania.”

Meanwhile, in an op-ed published by the Washington Post on February 24, Zakaria — best known for hosting Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN — writes that Putin feels threatened by Ukraine’s desire to remain a democracy.

Zakaria explains, “What caused this crisis in the first place? It’s very simple: the overwhelming desire of Ukrainians to live in an open, democratic society. Let us not forget what it was that enraged Putin and led him to invade Ukraine for the first time in 2014. It was not a Ukrainian declaration to seek NATO membership; it was the efforts of the Kyiv government, a pro-Russian government at the time, to finalize an ‘association agreement’ with the European Union.”

The CNN host views Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a “bloody, brutal effort” to “stem” the “the liberal democratic project” in Eastern Europe.

Zakaria wraps up his op-ed by stressing that while liberal democracy hasn’t been defeated, it will be crucial to fight for it around the world.

“With the voices of nationalism and populism so loud, it seems that liberal values have few willing to defend them unabashedly,” Zakaria writes. “To those who dwell on liberal democracy’s problems rather than its promise, I say, ‘Let them go to Ukraine.’ The people of Ukraine are showing us that those values — of an open society and a free world — can be worth fighting for and even dying for. The question for all of us is, what will we do to help them?"

Reprinted with permission from Alternet



Republicans Blast ‘Embarrassing’ And ‘Stupid’ RNC Censure Resolution

Senate Republicans have finally located their problem, and it's the Republican National Committee. After the RNC last week endorsed the January 6 insurrection as "legitimate political discourse," many congressional Republicans are pretending like the national Republican Party bears no relationship to them.

"I'm not a member of the RNC," Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said Sunday when asked whether GOP Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois deserved to be censured by the RNC for participating in the January 6 probe. Within the text of that censure resolution, the RNC endorsed the violent January 6 assault that resulted in death and destruction as "legitimate political discourse."

"It could not have been a more inappropriate message," said Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the uncle of RNC chair Ronna McDaniel. Romney said he had texted with McDaniel after passage of the resolution and described her to CNN as a "wonderful person and doing her very best." But as for the resolution, Romney added, "Anything that my party does that comes across as being stupid is not going to help us."

Stupid is apt—but let's not limit the moniker to McDaniel and the national party alone. Republicans, eyeing an election cycle that should absolutely favor them based on historical trends, had the chance to bury Donald Trump last year during his second impeachment trial and leave much of his political baggage in the rearview mirror. Instead, they breathed new life into him, and now they're pretending like the RNC is solely responsible for his drag on the party.

The RNC censure resolution came at the end of a week that was kicked off by Trump dangling pardons for Jan. 6 convicts during a Texas rally the weekend before. Trump then called on Congress to investigate his former vice president, Mike Pence, for failing to unilaterally "overturn" a free and fair 2020 election.

But the RNC's endorsement of the January 6 violence was just the latest in a years-long parade of Republican efforts to appease and coddle Trump. He has continually demanded absolute fealty from Republicans every step of the way, and they have acquiesced time and time again. With its censure resolution, the RNC was once again mollifying Trump by pursuing his political vendetta against Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger, both of whom voted to impeach him for inciting the January 6 attack.

Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina, also one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, told CNN the House GOP caucus avoided the topic of the censure altogether in its conference meeting Tuesday, suggesting the whole episode was just too cringy to touch.

“It was pretty damn embarrassing,” Rice said.

But Senate Republicans are especially prickly on the matter, particularly those who had a chance to impeach Trump for inciting the attack on the U.S. government and explicitly declined to take it.

"It's just not a constructive move, when you're trying to win elections and take on Democrats, to take on Republicans," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, as if no one could have imagined Trump would inspire internecine mayhem when he voted to let him off the hook for January 6.

Asked whether McDaniel should step aside, Thune pretended the RNC had nothing whatsoever to do with congressional Republicans. "Oh, I don't know. Ultimately, it will be up to the RNC," he said of McDaniel's fate.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina rolled out the same talking point Senate Republicans have been parroting every time Trump pulls them into some new controversy—2022 is all about the future for Republicans, folks.

"I think all of us up here want to talk about forward and not backward," Graham said. "We want to talk about why we should be in charge of the House and the Senate, and when you're not talking about that, that takes you in the wrong direction."

And by talking about why Republicans should be in charge, Graham means deliberately not releasing a 2022 agenda so voters will have exactly no idea what Republicans plan to do if they retake control of the upper chamber.

The frustration among most Republicans was palpable.

"I think the RNC should be focused on electing Republicans," said Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Even House Republicans, led by Trump hack Kevin McCarthy, sought to distance themselves from the RNC's unforced error.

Asked about the RNC resolution, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise told CNN, "My focus has been on what we need to do to take back the House."

The House GOP campaign chief, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, added, "We're focused on winning the majority next fall."

It wasn't exactly a full-throated stand for American democracy, but hey, Republicans want control of Congress so they can end this scurrilous investigation into the worst homegrown attack on the Capitol in U.S. history.

"We ought to capture the January 6 committee and convert it to our purposes: pursuing the extent to which federal involvement might have animated violence," Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, floating a totally unsubstantiated right-wing conspiracy theory.

To be fair, some Republicans did join the RNC in defending the insurrectionists.

"There's no doubt that there were tens of thousands of people engaged in peaceful free speech that the press and Democrats try to demonize falsely," said Sen. Ted Cruz, who voted against certification.

Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who also voted to throw out the election, called the January 6 panel "illegitimate," presumably while pumping his fist.

"They're not following their own rules. And I think, frankly, it's, it harkens back to the House Committee on un-American affairs," said Hawley, engaging the "un-American" topic on which Republicans have become bonafide experts.

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, firmly ensconced in his bubble, couldn't dig out of his conspiracy rabbit hole long enough to take note of the RNC aligning itself with January 6 terrorists.

"I did not pay any attention to that," said Johnson, who's up for reelection this year.

But Johnson was upstaged by House GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who coughed up an entirely fictional explanation of the RNC's resolution.

“What they were talking about is the six RNC members who Jan 6th has subpoenaed, who weren't even here, who were in Florida that day," McCarthy said—something that was never even mentioned in the censure resolution.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Ron Johnson Denying Reported Role In January 2021 Sedition Plot

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) was one of three Republican lawmakers who attended MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's virtual meeting to discuss how they could possibly delay the election certification affirming President Joe Biden's win.

According to The Washington Post, the meeting took place just two days before the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. The group of individuals who met in person assembled at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Speaking to the Post, Lindell reportedly said that the meeting was for the purpose of discussing the possibility of delaying the election certification.

Other attendees also shared details about the meeting as they revealed a presentation was provided to highlight unfounded claims of alleged voter fraud. However, Johnson appears to be denying the claims.

During a recent radio interview, Johnson also spoke out about the meeting as he attempted to dismiss the reports about the topics discussed during the meeting. Speaking to Wisconsin's WTMG, the Republican lawmaker insisted he didn't "believe that (delaying the certification of the election) was ever discussed. They were talking about what machines might have done."

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), who attended Lindell's meeting in person, also made remarks similar to Johnson's.


Reprinted with permission from Alternet