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Gaetz And Greene 'America First' Tour Is A Fundraising Disaster

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

At a time when Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida is facing a federal sex trafficking investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has jumped to his defense and joined forces with him for a fundraising tour. The far-right MAGA Republicans are both aggressive fundraisers, repeatedly stressing their unwavering devotion to former President Donald Trump. But according to Daily Beast reporter Roger Sollenberger, the Gaetz/Greene tour has "spent four times as much as" it has raised.

Sollenberger explains, "Since Gaetz and Greene kicked off their joint fundraising committee with a May 7 event at The Villages in Central Florida, their campaigns and joint fundraising committee have posted a combined loss of $342,000. And according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission, that joint fundraising effort, 'Put America First,' reported only $59,345.54 in contributions. That sort of meager haul would be fine for a dinner or one-time event, but Gaetz and Greene have repeatedly held high-profile events and spent a whopping $287,036.19 to hold them — meaning they're in the hole by more than $225,000."

Greene is great at earning small-dollar donations for her own war chest; she brought in $3.2 million during 2021's first quarter. When Greene says or does something controversial and is called out for it — which happens a lot — the pro-QAnon congresswoman often paints herself as a victim of persecution from Democrats, the Deep State, Never Trump conservatives, and RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). And Greene is an expert at playing the MAGA grievance card in her fundraising e-mails.

But the Greene/Gaetz tour, according to Sollenberger, has been operating in the red.

"Both Gaetz and Greene contributed $150,000 apiece from their own campaigns to the joint fundraising committee," Sollenberger observes. "And they've raised money almost entirely from small-dollar donors. Only four people gave $500 or more to the shared committee. But their campaign tour of some of the most Trump-friendly areas in the nation has been inordinately expensive."

Sollenberger stresses that as a combination, Gaetz and Greene haven't been able to match what they have been able to bring in as individuals.

"Individually, Gaetz and Greene raised $1.34 million and $1.31 million in the second quarter of 2021, respectively," Sollenberger observes. "Those totals are certainly impressive, and Gaetz and Greene could argue that the publicity from their circuit is helping them fundraise individually. Except, they're not making that argument, and both candidates have actually raised less in this most recent quarter than they did in the first."

Regardless, it appears that the tour is going to continue.

According to Sollenberger, "Greene, who has shown GOP leadership her value as a fundraising powerhouse, still apparently sees reason to go forward, at least according to the Gaetz campaign. A spokesperson for the Florida Republican told the Daily Beast that Greene had personally committed to future events."

Greene Bursts Into Laughter When Asked About Child Who Died Of Covid-19

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia recently downplayed the severity of COVID-19's impact on Georgia residents who are young and aren't obese. But Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Tia Mitchell, this week, reminded the far-right Republican congresswoman that not everyone who is getting really sick with COVID-19 is older or overweight.

In Northwest Georgia, a five-year-old child named Wyatt Gary Gibsonbecame infected with COVID-19 before dying in a Chattanooga, Tennessee hospital on July 16, though these kinds of cases are rare. Miller asked Greene if she feels "any responsibility" for spreading false information about COVID-19, noting that "there are children" and "skinny people" who "have died of the coronavirus." And Greene, dismissive of the question, started laughing and told Mitchell, "Gee, you crack me up. You know what, I think people's responsibility is their own."

Here are some Twitter responses to the interview:

Trump Ripped Former GOP Allies In Furious Interview

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

No matter how much a Republican has done for Donald Trump, the former president can easily turn against them if he feels they have let him down in some way — and that includes former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. They all were his targets for an interview featured in Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker's new book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year.

On March 31, Washington Post reporters Leonnig and Rucker interviewed Trump in person for their book at his Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida. I Alone Can Fix It is being released half a year into Joe Biden's presidency; it was six months ago, on January 20, that Trump vacated the White House and Biden was sworn into office. Highlights of that interview can be found in a book excerpt published by Vanity Fair.

During the interview, Trump promoted the false and debunked conspiracy theory that he won the 2020 election — which, in fact, he lost by more than 7 million votes. And Trump believes that Pence let him down by not preventing Congress from affirming Biden's Electoral College victory on January 6, the day a violent mob of Trump's supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol Building.

The ex-president told Leonnig and Rucker, "The greatest fraud ever perpetrated in this country was this last election. It was rigged, and it was stolen. It was both. It was a combination, and Bill Barr didn't do anything about it."

In December 2020, Trump was furious when Barr told the Associated Press that there was no evidence proving the type of widespread voter fraud that Trump was alleging. As much of a Trump loyalist as Barr had been, he acknowledged that Biden was the United States' legitimate president-elect.

Trump told Leonnig and Rucker, "Barr disliked me at the end, in my opinion, and that's why he made the statement about the election, because he did not know. And I like Bill Barr, just so you know. I think he started off as a great patriot, but I don't believe he finished that way."

Similarly, Trump believes that Pence let him down as well. Pence, in early January, stressed that as vice president, he didn't have the authority to reverse the Electoral College results. But as Trump saw it, he wasn't trying hard enough.

At Mar-a-Lago, Trump told Leonnig and Rucker, "Had Mike Pence had the courage to send it back to the legislatures, you would have had a different outcome, in my opinion. I think that the vice president of the United States must protect the Constitution of the United States. I don't believe he's just supposed to be a statue who gets these votes from the states and immediately hands them over. If you see fraud, then I believe you have an obligation to do one of a number of things."

On Capitol Hill, Democrats view Sen. Mitch McConnell as a fierce and unyielding partisan who fights them every step of the way. But Trump doesn't agree.

Thanks in part to McConnell, all three of Trump's Supreme Court nominees are now on the High Court: Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Yet Trump believes that McConnell didn't do enough for him. And ironically, Trump holds a grudge against the Senate minority leader for not wanting to abolish the filibuster. Democrats, during the Biden era, have been complaining that the filibuster is preventing them from getting important legislation passed in the Senate — from a voting rights bill to a commission to study the January 6 insurrection.

Trump said of McConnell, "He's a stupid person. I don't think he's smart enough. I tried to convince Mitch McConnell to get rid of the filibuster, to terminate it, so that we would get everything — and he was a knucklehead, and he didn't do it."

Other Republicans Trump ranted against during the March 31 interview ranged from former House Speaker Paul Ryan to Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The former president told Leonnig and Rucker, "Chris has been very disloyal, but that's OK. I helped Chris Christie a lot. He knows that more than anybody, but I helped him a lot. But he's been disloyal."

Are Republican Voters Rejecting ‘Anti-Christ’ Mike Pence?

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

It remains to be seen whether or not former President Donald Trump will seek the GOP nomination in the 2024 presidential election — and who Trump will endorse if he decides not to run. The non-Trump possibilities often mentioned by pundits range from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. But one person who isn't generating enthusiasm among many Republican voters, journalist David Siders stresses in an article published by Politico this week, is former Vice President Mike Pence.

Raymond Harre, vice chairman of the Scott County Republican Party in Iowa, told Politico, "I don't imagine (Pence would) have a whole lot of support. There are some Trump supporters who think he's the Antichrist."

In the past, Pence might have done well as a Republican presidential candidate. He is a severe Christian fundamentalist and an outspoken social conservative with an anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-feminist resumé. And in 2016, Trump thought enough of Pence to make him his running mate.

But in the minds of Trump devotees, Pence committed an unpardonable sin when, on January 6, he accepted the certification of now-President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over Trump.

In the days leading up to January 6, Pence said that as vice president, he didn't have the authority to overturn Biden's Electoral College victory. But Trump insisted that he could have pulled it off if he had tried harder, and the insurrectionists who were chanting, "Hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence" on January 6 believed that he betrayed their "Dear Leader."

Republican operative Doug Gross, who served as chief of staff to former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, is equally skeptical about Pence performing well as a 2024 presidential candidate. Gross told Politico, "It's just, where would you place him?.… With Trumpsters, he didn't perform when they really wanted him to perform; so, he's DQ'd there. Then you go to the evangelicals, they have plenty of other choices."

Steve Bannon, who served as White House chief strategist under Trump in 2017 and now hosts the War Room podcast, believes that the MAGA base will never support Pence as a presidential candidate.

Veteran GOP strategist Sean Walsh, who served in the White House under President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush, told Politico that Pence has "got to justify to the Trumpistas why he isn't Judas Iscariot, and then, he's got to demonstrate to a bunch of other Republicans why he hung out with someone they perceive to be a nutjob…. I just think it is an awfully tough, tough hill for him to climb."

Claremont: A Proto-Fascist Think-Tank For Trumpist ‘Intellectuals’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Although not as well-known as other right-wing think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the libertarian Cato Institute, the Claremont Institute has been around since 1979 — when it was founded in California by students of the late Harry V. Jaffa, who had been a speechwriter during Sen. Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign. Claremont has taken a decidedly Trumpian turn in recent years, and in a lengthy article published by The Bulwark this week, Laura K. Field (a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center) argues that Claremont has been overtaken by far-right conspiracy theorists, "election lies" and authoritarianism.

"The Claremont Institute used to be one of the principal places for conservative intellectuals to come together," Field explains. "It was founded by scholars who were taken seriously even by people who disagreed with them, and some such scholars still publish in the pages of the (Claremont Review of Books). That Claremont has been unparalleled in its intellectual submission to Trumpism should give us pause. After all, in some respects, the Claremont crowd is precisely the sort who should have known better: deeply read in political philosophy and history, and familiar with the many warning signs that Trump would be a damaging and divisive president. There is also a sense, however, in which the Claremont crowd's submission to Trump was the most predictable thing in the world — the simple culmination of a political theory rooted in jingoism and denial."

Field goes on to cite specific examples of how low Claremont has sunk, noting that Jack Michael Posobiec III, who promoted the ludicrous Pizzagate conspiracy theory, and Turning Point USA's Charlie Kirk — a promoter of the Big Lie — are both Lincoln Fellows for Claremont. According to Field, Claremont has been hijacked by "intellectual cheerleaders for Trump" and others who have promoted the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election and was victimized by widespread voter fraud.

Many Never Trump conservatives — from MSNBC's Joe Scarborough to Washington Post columnist Max Boot to members of the Lincoln Project — have argued that Trumpism is not traditional conservatism, but outright fascism. And in an infamous essay published by The American Mind on March 24, Glenn Ellmers (a Claremont senior fellow) admitted that Trumpism falls outside of traditional conservatism. In Ellmers' essay, titled "Conservatism Is No Longer Enough," he argued that a post-conservative approach will be needed to save the U.S. from the left, writing: "Most people living in the United States today — certainly more than half — are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term…. It is not obvious what we should call these citizen-aliens, these non-American Americans; but they are something else."

Field explains, "The people he has in mind are the ones who voted for Joe Biden…. The real and 'authentic' Americans are, 'by and large,' the 74 million people who voted for Trump…. Ellmers' essay is a bold-faced call to anti-republican, anti-democratic, factional arms and action. More than any kind of legitimate appeal to republican or democratic norms of persuasion, it signals an acknowledgment of defeat."

To make matters worse, Fields writes, Claremont "has knowingly provided cover to, and made common cause with, an alleged white supremacist named Darren J. Beattie."

Field notes, "Beattie has a Ph.D. in political philosophy from Duke University. He was a speechwriter in the Trump White House but was fired in August 2018 for having spoken at a conference in 2016 alongside White supremacists."

Field wraps up her essay by lamenting that while Claremont wasn't always dominated by extremists, it clearly is now.

"The Claremont Institute says that its mission is 'to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life,'" Field writes. "But all it has done lately is divide and despoil the public spirit."

CPAC’s Insane Extremism Is A Warning For 2022

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Many Never Trump conservatives were hoping that when now-President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, Republicans would abandon Trumpism. Instead, they doubled down on it, and the recent 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas was a celebration of Trumpian extremism — from anti-vaxxer paranoia to the Big Lie about the 2020 election to praising the January 6 insurrectionists as heroic. According to liberal Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent, CPAC 2021 should serve as a wake-up call for Democrats and encourage them to do everything imaginable to prevent a red wave in the 2022 midterms.

SargeNT explains, "Back in the dark ages of the last century, the right-wing culture war was often described with a reference to the three Gs: God, guns and gays. These days, the right-wing culture war is perhaps better described with three Vs: vaccine derangement, validation of White racial innocence, and valorization of insurrectionists. Over the weekend, the Conservative Political Action Conference treated the nation to a parade of such obsessions."

The lineup at CPAC 2021 in Dallas ranged from former President Donald Trump to Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas to a QAnon supporter: Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

"We were told the large percentage of Americans who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 is a cause for ecstatic celebration," Sargent notes. "We were told 'Marxist' Democrats want to indoctrinate your children to be ashamed of their whiteness. And, of course, we were told that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. This zombie lie was delivered to CPAC by the former president himself, who previewed this by telling Fox News that the January 6 rioters were 'peaceful people' and that they are this current moment's true victims of injustice. If there's one thing that all this lunacy confirmed, it's that such culture-warring will be central to GOP efforts in 2022."

Sargent notes that the 2010 and 2014 midterms — back when Barack Obama was president — far-right Republicans successfully used culture war fear-mongering to rally their base.

"Today's vaccine denial and valorization of insurrectionists carry serious echoes of the Tea Party during the Barack Obama presidency," Sargent recalls. "In 2010, protesters confronted Democratic lawmakers with vile slurs, and Republicans told endless lies about 'death panels.' In 2014, the GOP went all-in on the lie that Obama would allow terrorists to import Ebola across our border. Republicans were in no way penalized for any of this. Instead, they won two smashing midterm victories."

Sargent wraps up his column by urging Democrats to put Republicans "on the defensive" in the 2022 midterms.

"This might include asking anti-critical race theory Republicans why they think our cadets are such snowflakes that they must be shielded from hard truths about their country's past," Sargent writes. "Or asking why Republicans are doing far too little to encourage GOP voters to endure a little pinprick to protect their friends, relatives, and neighbors from dying of a deadly disease. Or why they're trying to bury the truth about their own party's complicity in an effort to sack the U.S. government with mob violence."

The columnist adds, "Ask yourself this: Why is it that Democrats spend far more time denying lies — that they want to indoctrinate your children with White shame and send jackbooted government thugs to kick down your doors and force vaccines on you — than Republicans spend denying any of those charges against them, which are true?"

Arizona Secretary Of State Seeks Criminal Probe Of Trump

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Following the 2020 presidential election, then-President Donald Trump tried to overturn the election results in Arizona. It didn't work: conservative Republican Gov. Doug Ducey certified now-President Joe Biden's victory, much to Trump's chagrin — and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, another GOP conservative, stressed that there was no evidence to support Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud in Arizona. Now, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, is asking Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to launch a criminal investigation of Trump for possible election interference.

On July 7, Hobbs asked Republican Brnovich's office to investigate whether or not Trump tried to improperly influence Maricopa County election supervisors in 2020 while the votes were still being counted. Fox News' decision desk called Arizona for Biden on Election Night, November 3, and the Associated Press called Arizona for Biden about three hours later. But other major news outlets held off on calling Arizona for the former vice president and ex-U.S. senator.

Trump was furious with Fox News for calling Arizona for Biden, repeatedly insisting that he won the state and putting pressure on Arizona election officials.

Arizona Republic reporter Yvonne Wingett Sanchez explains, "Hobbs said some of the communications 'involve clear efforts to induce supervisors to refuse to comply with their duties,' which could violate Arizona law. She cited the Arizona Republic's reporting last week on text messages and voicemails from the White House, Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward to the Republican members of the Board of Supervisors."

Hobbs, in a letter e-mailed to Brnovich wrote, "The reporting also includes firsthand statements from the victims of this potential crime."

Hobbs isn't the only Arizona Democrat who is calling for an investigation of Trump's efforts to overturn the election results in that southwestern state, which was deeply Republican in the past but has evolved into a swing state with two Democratic U.S. senators: Sen. Mark Kelly and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. It was also on July 7 that Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the possibility that Trump and his allies committed "an extremely serious crime" with their "pressure campaign" to overturn the election results. That "pressure campaign," Gallego said, shows "a disturbing trend following the 2020 election of Trump advisors and allies, and even former President Trump himself, committing potential crimes to overturn the election."

Hobbs and Brnovich are both candidates in the 2022 midterms. Hobbs is seeking the Democratic nomination in Arizona's gubernatorial race, while Brnovich is seeking the GOP nomination in Arizona's 2022 U.S. Senate race.

FBI Probe Uncovered Virginia Extremists Making Bombs In Wake Of January 6

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The more the FBI investigates the January 6 insurrection, the more disturbing the information becomes. That includes the case of Virginia resident Fi Duong, who was recently arrested for his alleged involvement in that attack, and people he associated with as part of a "Bible study" group. Duong, a 14-page FBI document alleges, was pursuing "bomb-building" and had a "cache of weapons" in the months following the insurrection.

According to CNN reporters Hannah Rabinowitz and Katelyn Polantz, "The startling new case, landing six months after the pro-Trump insurrection, adds to the more than 500 Capitol riot federal criminal cases already in court and fleshes out what's known about the Justice Department's understanding of the continued interests of right-wing extremists to allegedly interfere with the U.S. government and discuss with each other how to do so. The new case highlights one group member's apparent interest in a second American civil war."

The FBI document, Rabinowitz and Polantz report, was recently filed in court to explain why Duong was being arrested and what the charges are. Duong is facing four federal charges, and they include obstructing an official government proceeding — Congress' January 6 certification of now-President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 election — and entering the U.S. Capitol building without permission that day. However, Rabinowitz and Polantz note that Duong has not entered either a "guilty" or "not guilty" plea.

But according to Rabinowitz and Polantz, the FBI is alleging that Duong's connection to extremism goes beyond the January 6 attack.

"On January 6 in Downtown Washington," the CNN reporters explain, "Duong spoke with an undercover Metropolitan Police officer, according to his charging papers. Duong was dressed in black, in an alleged effort to disguise himself as the leftist group Antifa, investigators say. During the conversation, Duong asked the undercover officer if they were a 'patriot,' and identified himself as an 'operator.'"

Duong, according to Rabinowitz and Polantz, put a member of the Three Percenters — one of the extremist groups involved in the January 6 insurrection — in contact with members of the "Bible study" group he was a part of. Duong's group, the CNN journalists report, "appeared to exist separately from any known major groups previously identified as taking part in the Capitol riot."

FBI investigators allege that Duong wrote a "manifesto" and said, "If I get into a gun fight with the feds and I don't make it, I want to be able to transfer as much wisdom to my son as possible."

In March, according to Rabinowitz and Polantz, Duong told an undercover FBI agent that "his group tried to be 'cloak and dagger' and wanted to 'build resistances,' according to court records. The agent then attended what the group members called a 'Bible study' meeting at an Alexandria, Virginia house in February, (when) the group members discussed the Bible and secession, weaponry and combat training, and using methods to make their communications private, according to court records."

Rabinowitz and Polantz report that in the months following the January 6 attack, Duong was well-armed.

"Duong had compiled a cache of weapons at his home in Alexandria, investigators say, including an AK-47 and five boxes full of materials to make and test Molotov cocktails," the CNN journalists report. "At one group meeting at Duong's house in May, the undercover agent saw five cardboard boxes filled with about 50 glass bottles, and heard him and another person discuss what they could fill them with to make explosives, according to the court papers."

Hilarious Video Takes Down J.D. Vance, ‘Race-Baiting Culture War It Boy'

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On July 1, right-wing "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance announced that he is seeking the GOP nomination for Ohio's 2022 U.S. Senate race, and some pundits have mentioned him as a possible presidential candidate for 2024. When it came out in 2016, "Hillbilly Elegy" was widely read — even by liberals and progressives, who wanted to hear what Vance had to say about social and economic problems in rural Appalachia. But recently, the 36-year-old Vance has been sounding more and more like a Trumpian culture warrior, and Never Trump conservative Tim Miller notes how much of a "culture war it boy" Vance has become in a hilarious but scathing video posted on YouTube and The Bulwark on July 1.

Although Miller is conservative, he isn't far-right and has been a blistering critic of former President Donald Trump. In 2020, Miller left the Republican Party after many years and endorsed now-President Joe Biden in the presidential election. And his Vance video slams the "Hillbilly Elegy" author right away, with Miller asking, "Did Hollywood help propel a new race-baiting, culture-war 'it boy' to political stardom?"

"This is J.D. Vance," Miller explains in the video. "He looks like a cross between Elmer Fudd and three babies in a trench coat. And he's running for Senate in Ohio, with his eyes on a future presidential bid."

2016 was not only the year "Hillbilly Elegy" was released — it was also the year in which Trump defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in that year's presidential election, losing the popular vote but picking up more electoral votes. Miller recalls that Vance was anti-Trump in 2016 but has since flip-flopped and become very Trumpian rhetorically.

"You may have seen his Netflix movie 'Hillbilly Elegy,' which was based on his critically acclaimed book," Miller observes with biting sarcasm. "It was lauded as a nuanced portrait of the Trump-supporting White working class that was all too often tarnished as racist or backwards. And back then, J.D. played reviewers like a fiddle. He texted his agent saying that Trump winning would be terrible for the country, but good for book sales. Everyone from Seth Meyers to Bill Gates used J.D.'s story to help them understand this crazy species that they'd never encountered in the wild: the Trump voter."

Miller slams Vance as a shameless opportunist, saying, "Now, Vance is parlaying that media success into politics, and the former Trump skeptic has taken a dark turn. These days, he's a Trumpstan, and he's relying on racial resentment to reach the very voters that he was supposedly shining a more empathetic and nuanced light on. His Twitter feed has turned into kind of a Trumpian cosplay, but without any of the former tweeter-in-chief's je ne sais quoi."

Vance recently resorted to fake outrage after Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, during a congressional hearing, said he "wanted to understand White rage."

"In response," Miller observes in his video, "J.D. rage-tweeted, 'The conservative [American]s you trash are disproportionately bleeding for this country.' Ah, so only angry White men serve in the military. Boy, that's some subtle stuff there, bro. I wonder if the audience picked up on the dog whistle."

But as much as Miller lambasts Vance in his video, he also expresses regret — pointing out that instead of pandering to White racists, he could be genuinely shedding light on the economic problems of White rural America.

Indeed, a major void was left after the death of journalist/author Joe Bageant, the self-described "redneck leftist" who specialized in liberal commentary on economic pain among rural Whites. Bageant, who died of cancer in 2011, is best remembered for his book Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War.

Miller, with frustration, explains, "Here's the worst part about J.D.'s new shtick: The points he's made over the years about liberal elites looking down on and ignoring the forgotten hillbillies were right. They do do that! J.D. could have been a model for a new, more empowering kind of politics. But instead of changing the way politicians address White working-class problems, he's using the same demagogic bullshit about race and crime and gays that every populist asshole has been employing since the AIDS crisis and Jim Crow. And instead of telling them the truth, he's going with his dad to Trump's conspiracy-election-fraud jamboree and going along with Big Lie BS."

Watch the video below:

Tim Miller's NOT MY PARTY | Will JD Vance Find Political Stardom? www.youtube.com

‘A Scheme To Defraud’: Manhattan DA’s 15-Count Indictment Hits Trump Inc. And Weisselberg

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On Thursday, Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, officially faced a grand jury indictment on criminal charges in connection with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.'s financial investigation of former President Donald Trump's company. Weisselberg entered a "not guilty" plea to charges that include grand larceny, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records.

The Trump Organization itself was also indicted; under New York State law, companies as well as individuals can be indicted on criminal charges. Donald Trump, however, has not been indicted so far.

The indictment in New York State v. the Trump Organization reads, "Beginning from at least 2005 to on or about June 30, 2021, the defendants and others devised and operated a scheme to defraud federal, New York State, and New York City tax authorities. The purpose of the scheme was to compensate Weisselberg and other Trump Organization executives in a manner that was 'off the books': the beneficiaries of the scheme received substantial portions of their income through indirect and disguised means, with 'compensation that was unreported or misreported by the Trump Corporation or Trump Payroll Corp. 10 the tax authorities."

New York State Attorney General Letitia James has announced:

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal attorney, told CNN:

CNN legal reporter Erica Orden explained:

Other major legal experts have been quick to respond to the charges that Weisselberg and the Trump Organization are facing. Here's what some of them they have been saying:

Fox News Will Pay $1M Penalty For Human Rights Violations

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In 2021, Fox News' legal troubles have included not only a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, but a human rights lawsuit too. And Fox News, as journalist Lloyd Grove reports in the Daily Beast, has agreed to pay a $1 million fine to settle that lawsuit.

Grove explains, "Despite Fox News' claims to have repaired the company's toxic workplace culture since the firing of founder and chairman Roger Ailes in July 2016, Rupert Murdoch's media empire has effectively admitted to ongoing misconduct that includes sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation against victimized employees, and has agreed to pay a million-dollar fine for what New York City's Commission on Human Rights called 'a pattern of violating of the NYC Human Rights Law.'"

According to Grove, "The settlement agreement, reached last week with the Human Rights Commission, contains the largest-ever financial penalty assessed in the agency's six-decade history, and also requires Fox News to remove mandatory confidential arbitration clauses from the contracts of on-air talent along with other employees and contributors for a period of four years when they file legal claims under the city's human-rights law outside of the company's internal process."

Labor attorney Nancy Erika Smith, who represented former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in a sexual harassment lawsuit, described the lawsuit settlement as "monumental."

Smith told the Beast, "I'm not aware of any government agency requiring an employer to stop silencing victims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and that's what NDAs and arbitration do: They silence victims. So, bravo! Finally! The government is seeing that silencing victims protects harassers."

During a 2019 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Suzanne Scott, chief executive of Fox News Media, claimed that she has been working hard to change the work environment at Fox News for the better and fight sexism in the workplace. In a statement, the company defended its progress under Scott, saying, "No other company has implemented such a comprehensive and continuous overhaul, which notably, earned FOX News Media recognition as a 'Great Place to Work' for the first time in its existence, a testament to the many cultural changes that Ms. Scott has instituted during her tenure as CEO."

But Smith is highly critical of Scott, telling the Beast, "Suzanne Scott has always been instrumental, since the beginning of Fox News, in a culture founded on misogyny and enabling harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. So, anybody who thought she changed it in any way is extremely naive or uninformed."

Ex-Marine And Sheriff’s Deputy Plotted Neo-Nazi Terror Spree

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Involvement in white supremacist and white nationalist terrorist groups is especially dangerous when someone has been enlisted in the U.S. military, as that person has been trained in the use of weapons. An article by reporter Chris Joyner, published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on June 26, takes a look at a former U.S. Marine and sheriff's deputy from Wilkinson County, Georgia who was, according to the FBI, plotting racist terrorist attacks.

"When FBI agents in San Diego seized the cell phone of a suspected white supremacist last year," Joyner reports, "they discovered text messages with a Georgia sheriff's deputy boasting of racial violence and preparations for a civil war. The text message chain, called 'Shadow Moses, between San Diego plumber Grey Zamudio, 33, and 28-year-old Cody Griggers, a former Marine and sheriff's deputy in Wilkinson County, revealed plans to steal explosives, dry runs with illegal silencers and boasts of racial violence. In one text, Griggers said he hoped law enforcement and the military would join their side in the coming conflict."

Griggers and Zamudio, Joyner notes, have both pled guilty to federal weapons charges. Both of them are due to be sentenced this summer — first Zamudio in July, then Griggers in August.

Joyner reports, "Griggers, who was a military policeman stationed in San Diego until his honorable discharge in 2017, said he wished he could 'go ahead and fast-forward so I can enjoy the suffering of the abortion that is the American population.'"

Joyner notes that "rooting out extremism within the military" is a high priority for Gen. Lloyd Austin, secretary of defense in the Biden Administration — and Joyner points out out that "Griggers' involvement shines a light on the growing concern inside the intelligence community about the far-right radicalization of service members and law enforcement officers." And Joyner also observes that according to a recent study by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, 12% of the more than 450 people arrested in connection with the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building were current or former members of the United States' armed services.

The Griggers/Zamudio alliance underscores the type of threat that violent white supremacists and white nationalists pose in the United States in 2021. Griggers bragged that he could obtain weapons such as flashbang grenades, and Zamudio told his ally, "I'm ready to terrorize L.A."

Joyner explains, "In one exchange, Griggers wrote about getting police equipment and explosives in preparation for what he expected would be the racial and political violence to come. Other law enforcement officers could be brought to his side or attacked for 'siding with the enemy'…. The FBI said Griggers spoke approvingly of the Holocaust, and when they raided Zamudio's home, they found an anti-Semitic and racist novel well known among the radical right for its depiction of an apocalyptic race war. Griggers indulged in such fantasies where the assassination of 'famous liberals'' could be blamed on Muslims."

Griggers told Zamudio, "I'm either positioned to maximize damage by attacking from the inside or coordinate efforts to safely identify ourselves as patriots in order to maximize weapons pointed towards the enemy and minimize friendly fire."

According to Joyner, "In his texts, Griggers boasted of using his law enforcement position to carry out attacks. In one exchange in August 2019, he described an alleged beating of a Black suspect as 'sweet stress relief' and claimed he planned to charge other Black people with felonies to keep them from voting."

Texas Governor’s ‘Patriotic Education’ Law Puts Propaganda Over History

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

When former President Donald Trump, in September 2020, called for mandatory "patriotic education" for students in the United States, Democrat Susan Rice — former national security adviser under President Barack Obama — was appalled and told CNN's Erin Burnett, "I thought I was listening to Mao Tse Tung running Communist China." Republicans, however, haven't abandoned Trump's "patriotic education" idea, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed into law a bill that calls for "patriotic education" in the Lone Star State.

When Abbott signed into law Texas House Bill 2497, a.k.a. the 1836 Project, he declared, "The 1836 Project promotes patriotic education about Texas and ensures that the generations to come understand Texas values." But critics of HB 2497, according to Corpus Christi Caller-Times reporter Kailey E. Hunt, are arguing that "patriotic education" hasn't been clearly defined and fear that it will promote a narrow, rigid definition of patriotism.

Armando Alonzo, an associate history professor at Texas A&M College Station, told the Caller-Times, "What is patriotic education? They haven't really defined it. Does it mean we only select the high points and good points in Texas history? Well, what happens (then) to the other events in Texas history — where historical actors committed offenses and atrocities against ... (the) Native American people and.... the Mexican-American people?"

Shane Gleason, an assistant political science professor at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, told the Caller-Times, "The values chosen were to promote a particular version of Texas history. And indeed the name — the '1836 Project' — is very reminiscent of the '1776 Project' instituted by former President Trump to promote, again — patriotic citizenship, patriotic values, patriotic education. It's an easy way to grab some political points."

Another bill that Abbott recently signed into law was Texas House Bill 3979, which bans the teaching of the New York Times' 1619 Project in public schools. Between HB 3979, HB 2497, and Texas Republicans railing incessantly against Critical Race Theory, one is seeing a pattern of Republicans in that state downplaying the United States' history of racism or trying to pretend that it doesn't exist.

Brian Franklin, associate director for the Southern Methodist University Center for Presidential History, told the Caller-Times why he believes that HB 3979 is even worse than HB 2497.

Franklin explained, "I think there's a reason there was a little bit more pomp and circumstance about signing the 1836 Project than there was for [HB] 3979…. [HB 3979] actually puts some very specific restrictions on what and how teachers can teach in the classroom in the State of Texas. And that's not something that you want to publicize as a politician — that you're going to be limiting what teachers can say and do in the classroom."

Miami Paper Blasts DeSantis Over Ideological Policing Of Colleges

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On June 22, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a Republican-sponsored bill that calls for standards of "intellectual diversity" to be enforced on college campuses in the Sunshine State. But the Miami Herald''s editorial board, in a scathing editorial published on June 24, emphasizes that the law isn't about promoting free thought at colleges and universities but rather, is an effort to bully and intimidate political viewpoints that DeSantis and his Republican allies in the Florida Legislature disagree with.

"The state government wants to know what political ideologies and beliefs university professors hold, and it's giving the green light for students to secretly record lessons to later use what instructors say against them," the editorial explains. "All of that is being done in the name of free speech. Such twisted logic and targeting academia have been hallmarks of anti-democratic regimes. Now, they have also become the MO of Florida Republicans who passed a bill that requires public universities and colleges to survey students, faculty and staff, to ensure 'intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity' on campuses."

The Herald's editorialnotes the type of arguments that Florida Republicans have used in favor of the new law. According to the law's supporters, college campuses in Florida have become "socialism factories" designed for "indoctrination" of students.

The Herald's editorial board writes, "Don't worry, bill sponsors say, these surveys won't be used against college professors or to threaten their employment, even though there's nothing in House Bill 233 that guarantees that, or that survey responses will remain anonymous. University budget cuts might be looming if our supreme leaders — er — lawmakers don't like what the survey results show, bill sponsor Sen. Ray Rodrigues and DeSantis suggested Tuesday."

According to the Herald's editorial, HB 233 is designed to do the exact opposite of promoting "intellectual diversity" on college campuses.

"College professors have got to be seeing the writing on the wall," the Herald's editorial warns. "We wouldn't be surprised if they fudged their survey responses out of fear of retaliation or that their institution will lose funding for being deemed too liberal. That's especially true for professors teaching liberal-arts degrees that conservatives consider a waste of time and were trying to make ineligible for full Bright Futures scholarship funding. Luckily, that proposal failed during this year's legislative session after student backlash."

History repeats itself, and the Herald's editorial recalls that during the 1950s, college professors were a favorite target of far-right Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin and his Cold War witch hunt.

"University professors were a target of the post-war Red Scare," the Herald's editorial notes. "In 1949, the National Council for American Education published a booklet called 'Red-Ucators at Harvard,' listing professors deemed subversive. In 1954, Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy...sought to flush out communists among educators and questioned professors accused of having ties to the Communist Party. Intellectual diversity should be something every university strives for, but we know the results of government officials policing educators: paranoia, persecution and the opposite of the free speech Republicans say they want to protect."

‘Vitriolic Threats’ As Michigan GOP Debates Demand For 2020 Election Audit

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On October 8, 2020, it was obvious how severe political tensions had become in Michigan when the FBI announced that 13 men had been arrested in connection with a domestic terrorist plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, subject her to a "trial," and execute her if found guilty. Those behind the kidnapping plot were angry over the restrictions she had imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the political climate in that midwestern state hasn't grown any less tense since then. Washington Post reporter Tom Hamburger, in an article published on June 23, describes the tensions that continue to rock Michigan five months into Joe Biden's presidency.

"As Michigan State Rep. Donna Lasinski got out of her car at the state Capitol in Lansing on a sunny morning last week," Hamburger reports, "she was greeted by two people carrying what she described as assault rifles while protesters outside the building called for an audit of the 2020 election. Such disconcerting encounters are not uncommon in Lansing — a reflection of persistent and growing tension gripping Michigan eight months after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump."

Michigan was among the five states that Trump won in 2016 but lost in 2020; the others were Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia. But Trump and many of his sycophants have continued to make the false and totally debunked claim that Trump really won Michigan and that he was the victim of widespread voter fraud. And with Trump supporters calling for Michigan to have an "audit" of the 2020 election not unlike the Cyber Ninjas farce presently taking place in Maricopa County, Arizona, that only adds to the tensions in the Wolverine State.

"Attacks on the integrity of the 2020 election have persisted in this state, where local county officials are contending with demands by some residents to review ballots for possible fraud," Hamburger explains. "The mounting calls by Trump supporters to revisit the election results are creating a thorny dilemma for the (Michigan) Republican Party, which has sought to fend off those efforts, even as GOP officials seek changes to election law."

Hamburger observes that on June 23, a GOP-controlled committee in the Michigan State Senate "issued a report forcefully rejecting the claims of widespread fraud in the state, saying citizens should be confident in the results and skeptical of 'those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.'" But last week, according to Hamburger, "A few hundred demonstrators carrying boxes of affidavits signed by thousands of people demanding a state ballot audit showed up at the (Michigan) Capitol."

"On (June 22), a GOP legislator introduced a bill to start the audit process, although it so far does not have support among other lawmakers," Hamburger observes. "The drumbeat for audits has been accompanied by increasingly violent and vitriolic threats against state and local officials. The escalating rhetoric has left legislators from both parties lamenting what happened to the state that was home to moderate political consensus builders such as President Gerald Ford, Gov. George Romney and the late Rep. John Dingell."

Manhattan D.A. Investigating Second Trump Organization Executive

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Major media outlets have been reporting extensively on the role that Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer at the Trump Organization, plays in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.'s criminal investigation of the company. But Vanity Fair's Bess Levin, in her June 21 column, emphasizes that Weisselberg isn't the only one in the Trump Organization who is under scrutiny by Vance's office.

Vance, Levin notes, is also probing Trump Organization COO Matthew Calamari.

"As part of its criminal investigation into Donald Trump, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office has, for many months now, been trying to get Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg — who knows where all the bodies are buried and could likely put the dots together for a jury — to flip," Levin explains. "Thus far, it doesn't appear as if he's done so, but the fact that Weisselberg could reportedly face charges this summer presumably ups the chances he'll cooperate to save himself. In the meantime, though, Cyrus Vance, Jr.'s office is apparently looking into another figure who may have some extremely helpful information to share. The Wall Street Journal reports that New York prosecutors are investigating Matthew Calamari, Trump's bodyguard turned chief operating officer, and the question of whether or not he was the recipient of 'tax-free fringe benefits,' as part of their probe into the company possibly giving out such perks to employees as a way to avoid paying taxes."

Calamari hasn't been charged with anything in connection with Vance's investigation of the Trump Organization. Neither has Weisselberg or former President Donald Trump. But Levin notes that according to Wall Street Journal sources, prosecutors have advised both Calamari and his son, Matthew Calamari Jr., to hire lawyers — which, Levin observes, is "generally not a great sign."

"(The older) Calamari has reportedly lived for years in an apartment at the Trump Park Avenue building on the East Side and driven a Mercedes leased through the Trump Organization," Levin notes. "His son, Matthew Calamari, Jr., also lives in a company-owned building. Junior joined the family business in 2011 right after graduating high school and was named corporate director of security in 2017, according to a LinkedIn profile."

Vance's office recently convened a grand jury, which, according to Washington Post reporters Jonathan O'Connell, Shayna Jacobs, David A. Fahrenthold, and Josh Dawsey, is "expected to decide whether to indict the former president, according to two people familiar with the development, and is pressing Weisselberg to provide evidence implicating Trump."

Far Right Republicans Wrote Putin’s Talking Points

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Far-right apologists for the January 6 insurrectionists, from Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia to Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin to Fox News' Tucker Carlson, have seriously downplayed the violence that occurred that day at the U.S. Capitol. Johnson has defended the rioters as "people that love this country" and said there was "no violence" during that attack; Clyde has compared the January 6 attack to a "normal tourist visit," while Carlson has defended the insurrectionists as "sad, disenfranchised people." But conservative columnist Charlie Sykes sees nothing innocent or harmless about the January 6 insurrection, and he emphasizes that Republican apologists for the rioters have given Russian President Vladimir Putin an anti-U.S. talking point.

In his latest column for The Bulwark, the Never Trump conservative writes, "Our current sludge of disinformation, bilge and crackpottery is thoroughly domestic, amplified by a million voices on social media, national networks, and until recently, the White House itself. And now, it has come full circle as Russian President Vladimir Putin feeds back our homegrown disinformation. [The Washington Post's] Dana Milbank notes the symmetry: 'For the past few years, Republicans in Congress have echoed Russian propaganda. On Wednesday, in Geneva, Vladimir Putin returned the favor: He echoed Republican propaganda.'"

Putin's allies in the Kremlin, Sykes laments, "have adopted the talking points of" American "right-wing media about January 6." On June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland, Sykes notes, Putin pointed out that the January 6 rioters are facing "very harsh sentences."

"Putin took the opportunity to emphasize the point," Sykes writes. "Asked about his repression of political dissent, Putin put on a bravura performance of whataboutism."

In Geneva, Putin brought up Ashli Babbitt, a Capitol rioter fatally shot on January 6 — and Sykes writes that comparing the shooting of Babbitt to human rights abuses in Russia is ludicrous.

"Afterward, President Biden called the comparison 'ridiculous,' as indeed it was," Sykes observes. "But the whole episode showed how our political world has devolved in just a few years."