The Mahablog

Politics. Society. Group Therapy.

The Mahablog

Trump Organization Found Guilty!

Trump Organization Convicted in New York Criminal Tax Fraud Trial:

Former president Donald Trump’s namesake company was convicted Tuesday of tax crimes committed by two of its longtime executives after a Manhattan trial that gave jurors a peek at some of the inner workings of the Trump Organization’s finances.

The real estate, hospitality and golf resort operation headquartered at Trump Tower on Fifth Ave. faces the possibility of a $1.6 million fine. New York Supreme Court jurors began their deliberations mid-day on Monday.

The company was charged with scheme to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records.

In other news, Special Counsel Subpoenas At Least 5 Key Counties For Trump Comms Around 2020 Election.

Special Counsel Jack Smith obtained grand jury subpoenas last month for communications between Trump, his campaign, and top campaign staffers and local officials in Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

TPM has reviewed a subpoena issued to the Milwaukee County Clerk, dated Nov. 22.

The subpoenas went to at least five counties in swing states where the Trump campaign sought to reverse the election results in 2020.

They are Dane County, Wisconsin, Maricopa County, Arizona, and Wayne County, Michigan, the Washington Post reported. TPM confirmed Tuesday that another subpoena was sent to officials in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and received a copy of the subpoena issued to Milwaukee County.

The Georgia Runoff and the Fate of the Nation

Today’s the day — with any luck — we’ll finally see the end of the 2020 midterms. The FiveThirtyEight nerds say that Warnock has a slight lead, but Walker could still win. To me, that there are people bright enough to dress themselves and eat with a fork who will still vote for Walker is what’s wrong with America.

For example, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed a voter who said he was voting for Walker because he was afraid the Democrats would regulate cryptocurrency.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: One complication of the race today is that there was a libertarian candidate for the Senate seat in the November 8 election who ran a very distant third. But because this was a ranked choice vote, whoever those voters listed as their second choice will get those votes today. That seems weird, especially since those same voters are eligible to vote in today’s election. I question whether that’s accurate. But it is worrisome. Libertarians would probably have picked Walker over Warnock.

Awhile back I noted that the National Republican Senatorial Committee, still headed by Rick Scott, was sending out fund raising appeals ostensibly to elect Herschel Walker, but only one cent of every dollar donated was actually going to Herschel Walker’s campaign. Now the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that  Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Burgess Owens are doing something similar.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Burgess Owens are raising money on behalf of Herschel Walker ahead of Tuesday’s Senate runoff election against Democrat Sen. Rafael Warnock, warning the Georgia Republican could be the final bulwark against President Joe Biden’s agenda. It is not immediately apparent to donors that half of the money they contribute will go to Walker’s campaign, while Lee or Owens keeps the other half.

Well, at least half the money being raised for Walker is going to Walker. That’s better than what the NRSC was doing. But Mediaite is reporting that lots of people in the GOP are pulling this same trick — sending out fundraising appeals for Walker but keeping a chunk of the donations for their own campaign committees or PACs. Names dropped include Donald Trump, J.D Vance, and Ted Budd. Meanwhile, money raised to re-elect Raphael Warnock is all going to Raphael Warnock.

Much Ado About Hunter Biden’s Laptop

Perhaps the best way to understand the Right is to imagine that most of them are 10-year-old boys. Then they kind of make sense.

For example — the latest in the Hunter Biden Laptop saga is that Matt Taibbi — who is now working for Elon Musk, apparently — released the “Twitter files,” which was some internal communication from the pre-Elon days in which Twitter staff debated whether to allow some files, allegedly from Hunter Biden’s laptop, to be published on Twitter. And after some discussion it was decided to nix them. I have not read the “Twitter files,” but I understand that the participants decided the material violated Twitter’s policy about publishing hacked material.

Much of the Right erupted in outrage and began screaming about “censorship,” showing us once again they don’t understand what “censorship” is, since Twitter is a private company and not the government.

Tim Miller writes at The Bulwark — in No, You Do Not Have a Constitutional Right to Post Hunter Biden’s Dick Pic on Twitter

While normal humans who denied Republicans their red wave were enjoying an epic sports weekend, an insular community of MAGA activists and online contrarians led by the world’s richest man (for now) were getting riled up about a cache of leaked emails revealing that the former actor James Woods and Chinese troll accounts were not allowed to post ill-gotten photos of Hunter Biden’s hog on a private company’s microblogging platform 25 months ago.

Now if you are one of the normals—someone who would never think about posting another person’s penis on your social media account; has no desire to see politicians’ kids’ penises when scrolling social media; doesn’t understand why there are other people out there who care one way or another about the moderation policies surrounding stolen penis photos; or can’t even figure out what it is that I’m talking about—then this might seem like a gratuitous matter for an article. Sadly, it is not.

Because among Republican members of Congress, leading conservative media commentators, contrarian substackers, conservative tech bros, and friends of Donald Trump, the ability to post Hunter Biden’s cock shots on Twitter is the number-one issue in America this weekend. They believe that if they are not allowed to post porno, our constitutional republic may be in jeopardy.

I truly, truly wish I were joking.

Well, okay, I’m gathering from other news stories that the hacked files weren’t just dick pics. The files had been the subject of a New York Post article of October 2020, right before the election. The NY Post claimed to have proof found on Hunter Biden’s laptop that Joe Biden had met with an executive of Burisma, the Ukrainian company Hunter was working for, which allegedly indicated that Joe Biden used his influence as Vice President to benefit Burisma. Oh, and there were some “explicit” photos also. But none of the “evidence” regarding a Burisma connection, which any ten-year-old with a computer could have fabricated, actually says what it was that Joe Biden did, beyond being introduced to a guy. And the sourcing was obviously hinky.

It came out in 2021 that Twitter had chosen to suppress links to the Post story, and Twitter executives in 2021 said that the suppression was a mistake, but looking at the Post story now, I don’t think so. It seems to me to be a reasonable decision, given the skimpiness and murky provenance of the information.

And to this day no one has been able to show that Joe Biden did anything to help the Burisma company or Hunter Biden’s position in it. But the children won’t let go of it, because if they’re going to bring articles of impeachment against Joe Biden as payback for Trump’s impeachments, the Burisma non-scandal is mostly what they’ve got.

The Right is telling itself that Tim Miller’s Bulwark post “backfired.”

What “news”? This was just a repetition of an allegation that was already making the rounds. And there’s nothing in the “Twitter files” that hadn’t come out from other sources some time ago. See also Elon Musk’s Big ‘Twitter Files’ Reveal Turns Into Snoozefest at Rolling Stone and Elon Musk’s promised Twitter exposé on the Hunter Biden story is a flop that doxxed multiple people at The Verge.

Josh Marshall:

I really thought they’d come up with more. Any big organization has a large number of idiots within it. I figured you could cherry pick some embarrassing asides from junior employees, at least since they have access to everyone’s emails and chats. Basically it was the responsible executives discussing whether to invoke their post-2016 rule against publishing hacked material. They decided to do so, said they needed to be cautious and most of all find out more information.

Again, people taking their responsibilities seriously, trying to make the right decisions. Shocking stuff.

Taking responsibilities seriously, or “adulting” in any form, is not a concept the children can grasp.

While this episode has been taking up way too much space on the Intertubes, other things have happened that might be important. For example, Trump is now calling for the Constitution to be suspended.

This is a screen grab. I’m not linking to crap on Truth Social. It’s not hard to find, if you want to find it.

And I want to say I’m encouraged that the Democratic Party finally is demoting the Iowa Caucuses as the first-in-the-nation nomination event, and the New Hampshire primary as first primary. In both 2016 and 2020 the caucuses showed us they didn’t deserve the responsibility. See Thanks Loads, Iowa from February 4, 2020. No more of that crap. I have fewer complaints about New Hampshire, but it probably would be good for the Dem nomination process to have the early primaries in more diverse states.

 

Trump’s Bad Week Points to More Bad Weeks

What a week for Donald Trump. House Democrats finally got their hands on his tax returns. Judge Aileen Cannon has been ordered by the 11th Circuit to dismiss the documents case in her court and put an end to the “special master” delay tactic. The two top Oath Keeper guys were found guilty of seditious conspiracy. It looks like testimony in the tax fraud trial in Manhattan is about to wrap up. The dinner with Ye and Nick Fuentes is still making headlines because they are all walking freak shows who won’t shut up. And there’s this, which has been under-covered

A federal judge has ordered former top Trump White House lawyers to provide additional grand jury testimony, rejecting former President Donald Trump’s privilege claims in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of his effort to overturn the 2020 election, people briefed on the matter said.

Pat Cipollone, the Trump White House counsel, and his deputy, Patrick Philbin, appeared in September before the grand jury in Washington, DC, as part of the Justice Department probe, which is now being overseen by newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith.

Cipollone and Philbin declined to answer some questions at that time, citing Trump’s claims of executive and attorney-client privilege.

The Republican Party probably hasn’t hit bottom yet, but it’s getting closer. The Ye – Alex Jones interview, in which Ye revealed himself to be a Hitler fanboy, ought to be a huge embarrassment for the entire right-wing media-political infrastructure. Tucker Carlson made Ye a right-wing hero. The GOP had turned Ye into some kind of poster boy for Black People Who Support Trump. (The sub-context being see? we aren’t racists!) That’s all blowing up in their faces now. Jewish groups are demanding that the GOP cut all ties with Ye, which I assume they will do. They need Jewish votes more than they need the 6.2 Black Voters who might have changed parties because they are Ye fans.

Ye himself is, obviously, a massively screwed up person who needs to be under psychiatric supervision a lot more than he needs to be in a media spotlight. I hope he gets the help he needs now that he’s probably about to become persona non grata in right-wing media. But unless he is psychotic being screwed up mentally is no excuse for anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial.

At The Atlantic, Ron Brownstein says the Republican party may be at a cross roads regarding its extremist supporters. Many GOP politicians were slow to respond to the Ye-Fuentes-Trump debacle. Now some of them seem to want to re-erect old barriers between the far-right fringe and the party mainstream, but others are reluctant. Without the White and Christian nationalists, who else is going to vote for them?

Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security under Trump who focused on domestic extremism, told me she believes the backlash—however belated—combined with the GOP’s disappointing performance in last month’s midterm elections, could mark a turning point. “I think we are going to be playing footsie with fascism and authoritarianism and extremism for a while,” because it helped Trump win the presidency in 2016 and sustain his support thereafter, she said. But, she added, after several years of feeling “very pessimistic” about the prospect of weakening those movements, “this is the first time I’ve felt there might be some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Yet others remain unconvinced that the GOP is ready to fundamentally break with Trump or ostracize the coalition’s overtly racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic white supremacists and Christian nationalists. “I think what we are looking at is the entrenchment of extremism, and that’s what is so worrisome,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told me.

If anything, extremist groups could gain momentum in the coming months. Musk’s proposed mass amnesty for banned Twitter accounts would provide “a tremendous amount of oxygen to extremists on the radical right” and allow those groups to push back much harder against any Republican elected officials resisting their presence in the party, Michael Edison Hayden of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project told me. If Musk opens the door to extremist organizing on Twitter, Hayden said, the white-nationalist presence in the GOP coalition will become “potentially irreversible in the short term.”

I suspect Greenblatt and Hayden are calling this right. The next couple of years are going to be interesting.

Jennifer Rubin also has a good column, The MAGA cult should face facts: America will never be theirs ‘again.’

Right-wing media commentators and MAGA politicians have one thing right: The cultural tide of pluralism, secularism and feminism has washed away their imagined reactionary paradise of a White Christian America. Unfortunately, they fail to realize this trend is irreversible.

Republicans have been invested in the “culture war” for decades now. And they’re losing. They’re stuck with defending many positions that were winners for them in the past but aren’t any more — opposition to legal abortion, opposition to same-sex marriage, opposition to “virtually anything that smacks of racial justice,” Rubin says. As a result, they are at odds with the overwhelming majority of Americans on most social issues. And that’s not going to change.

But they are stuck in dependency with the White Christian Nationalists and the various other fringe crazies who like to pretend they are freedom fighters and warriors for the revolution.

(Their real problem is that they are leading meaningless lives and are not nearly as privileged and admired as they think they ought to be. One of the best things I’ve read this week is “Why Did the Oath Keepers Do It?” by Tom Nichols at The Atlantic, which I can’t get to today without starting up another subscription. Which I don’t want to do. But give it a try and see if they’ll let you read it.)

In the meantime, what might really shake up the political landscape is if Trump finally is tried and convicted of something, and that’s looking more possible all the time.

 

 

Missouri: Show Me the Corruption

Yesterday the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which provides protection for same-sex marriages from the corrupt Supreme Court. These twelve Republicans voted with the Dems: Roy Blunt (Mo.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Susan Collins (Maine), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Cynthia M. Lummis (Wyo.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Todd C. Young (Ind.).

Roy Blunt is about to be replaced by Eric Schmitt. I never liked Blunt, but Eric Schmitt is a walking shit show. And the Kansas City Star has turned up something suspicious about him. The KC Star tends to be behind a paywall, so I’m linking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch here:

While Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in the past year traveled around the state and even out of state whipping up controversy to aid his U.S. Senate run, who was footing his travel bills? Schmitt isn’t saying. An investigation by The Kansas City Star has turned up more questions than answers.

The newspaper reports that Schmitt’s state office claims to have no travel expense records for Schmitt since 2020, even though he clearly was traveling during that time. If the taxpayers funded it, they have a right to the details. If his Senate campaign or its supporters funded it, that would seem to be evidence that Schmitt was in fact using his state office to campaign for the Senate. As if further proof was needed.

It has long been obvious that Schmitt abused his official powers to file ideologically loaded lawsuits designed to fire up the Republican base — against Missouri schools, against the federal government, against China. As part of those efforts, he preened for the cameras in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Mexican border and elsewhere.

Unless Schmitt is now acknowledging that it was all a political roadshow, rather than legitimate work for the Missouri taxpayers, how does he justify refusing to divulge who paid for the plane tickets and hotel rooms?

“Missourians have not paid for Attorney General Schmitt’s official travel,” Chris Nuelle, spokesman for Schmitt’s state office, told the newspaper. That’s an odd statement in itself. It also contradicts Nuelle’s own statement last year that Schmitt’s October 2021 trip to Texas’ southern border to showboat about immigration reform was in fact tax-funded. So which is it?

And if Schmitt’s official travel wasn’t tax-funded, why not? Schmitt claims these trips were necessary in his official capacity as Missouri’s attorney general. If that’s true, the taxpayers should be paying for them.

So who did pay? Nuelle demurred (“I’m only able to speak to what was paid for by the official office”) and there were no indications that Schmitt’s Senate campaign paid for it.

It would have been nice if this had been turned up before the midterms. It may not have made a difference, of course. I remember that when Claire McCaskill was running for re-election in 2018, it was revealed she was doing some of the campaign travel on an “RV tour” on her own private plane. This was blown up into a huge scandal that may have put the odious Josh Hawley in the Senate. But a Republican doing the same thing wouldn’t have caused so much as a raised eyebrow.

See also Democrat alleges Missouri investigating hospital in retaliation for ad critical of Eric Schmitt and Missouri’s aging Sunshine Law is too easy for politicians to ignore. Strengthen it. From the latter: “As attorney general, both Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt made pursuit of public records almost impossible. But government documents belong to the taxpayers, not politicians.” Yeah, Hawley was state AG before Schmitt. They both used the office to get themselves noticed and to campaign for the Senate.

Trump’s, and the GOP’s, Bigotry Coalition

[Update — the Oath Keepers are guilty! Stewart Rhodes and four co-defendants just got found guilty by the jury.]

The fallout from Trump’s Dinner With Fuentes continues. I didn’t think it was that much of a departure from his past behaviors to have caused this much of a ruckus. At TPM Josh Marshall posts a letter from a reader who argues that this wouldn’t have been a big deal before the midterms. TPM notes that a right-wing group called the Zionist Organization of America, which has supported Trump all along, is now shocked (!) over his association with Fuentes. The TPM reader comments,

Now? Now they turn on Trump? Oh yeah, it was a bridge too far to be with West and Fuentes. Give me a break. Even Michael Oren figured this out 3 years ago. They smell the stench of a loser on him just like some of these others, that’s all. There are tons of ex-neoconish Republicans out there who are the hard core of #NeverTrump who are so exactly because of his constant footsie playing with antisemites, among other things. It’s not like this was some massive deception we are only now awake to.

Trump’s dinner has been criticized by some Republicans but not other Republicans. The other Republicans tend to be those who might challenge Trump for the nomination in 2024, and also Herschel Walker, who is still in campaign mode and arguing that the use of pronouns decreases military readiness. The other Republicans have either said nothing or else released some boilerplate rhetoric condemning anti-Semitism without naming Trump. Or else they blame Trump’s staff, not Trump. For example,

Among those Republicans who have been silent on the matter so far, the most conspicuous is Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, where the dinner took place. DeSantis is often eager to jump into national political controversies. But he’s also Trump’s rival for control of the Republican Party and eager to court (and win) the former president’s supporters.

Further,

You’ll notice, in all of this, that while Republicans are willing to condemn Fuentes and Ye and Trump’s decision to eat dinner with them, they are not willing to go so far as to draw any conclusions about Trump himself. Even Pence — who had, in this group, the strongest words for Trump — took care not to impute any malice to his former boss. “I don’t believe Donald Trump is an antisemite. I don’t believe he’s a racist or a bigot,” he said. “I think the president demonstrated profoundly poor judgment in giving those individuals a seat at the table.”

Republicans who might want to run for office in the future can’t piss off Trump or his base. They don’t want to totally alienate anti-Semites or White supremacists, either. Sometimes they have to say something, but they have to make statements bland and fuzzy enough so that various factions can hear in them what they want to hear.

I honestly didn’t know who Nick Fuentes was until last week. Have you caught some of the videos of him ranting about how white male Catholics should rule the world? What a pathetic, whiny little man-baby. He and pathetic, whiny man-baby Trump probably did hit it off. Peas in a pod.

The irony here is that in spite of all their long-standing criticism of identity politics, it’s the Republicans who are pretty much exclusively practicing identity politics. It’s all about catering to various factions of bigots and signaling to them that the party is on their side against those other people.

See also Greg Sargent, How Trump is handing white supremacists huge propaganda victories.

 

The GOP Is Drowning in Entitled Narcissism

So Trump had the entertainer formerly known as Kanye West plus White supremacist/anti-Semite/Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes as dinner guests at Mar-a-Lago this week. Much hand-wringing and pearl-clutching ensued. I’m struggling to understand why anyone would find this remarkable, given that it’s Trump we’re talking about, but apparently some do.

Ye, who has announced he is running for President, reported that he asked Trump to be his running mate. Whether this was meant to be a jest I do not know, but of course Trump does not comprehend “humor.” “Trump started basically screaming” and told Ye he would lose.

By several accounts Fuentes had not been invited but was allowed in because he came with Ye. And Trump found Fuentes completely captivating. As Zack Stanton and Garrett Ross write at Politico, “The quickest way to DONALD TRUMP’s heart is flattery: Say nice things about him, and you’re in.” Trump’s advisers were aghast.

Advisers to Trump privately acknowledged that the decision to host the Tuesday dinner, just one week after Trump launched his reelection bid, was a significant concern. One adviser described it as “horrible” and another as “totally awful.” They and others in Trump’s orbit spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.

David M. Friedman, who served as his ambassador to Israel, publicly took Trump to task for consorting with the troublesome pair, tweeting that the former president was “better than this.”

No, he’s not. He’s not “better than this” at all. That’s exactly who he is, and who he has been all along.

Anyway, the more interesting read is at Talking Points Memo. Josh Marshall writes Elon Musk and the Narcissism/Radicalization Maelstrom. This post isn’t so much about Elon Musk as it is about Musk and Trump, both entitled narcissists, being pulled deeper and deeper by their own egos into a hard-Right alternative universe.

It’s clear that Donald Trump had dark political impulses and beliefs going back decades. He put his cards on the table clearly enough when he announced his presidential campaign with denunciations of Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers. But the politics wasn’t as fleshed out ideologically or as clearly articulated as it would soon become. You could watch in his online interactions how his ego followed the praise and fawning. His narcissism pulled him toward the people who became his most loyal online devotees and they were routinely and unsurprisingly the most ardent white nationalists and far-right agitators. They showed up increasingly in his Twitter timeline. He started engaging with them and promoting them. The point isn’t that Trump was some kind of naif pulled into a radicalization spiral. He had all the building blocks. I doubt very much that in mid-2015 Trump had any real familiarity with the arcana of racist and radical right groups, their keywords or ideological touch-points. But they knew he was one of them, perhaps even more than he did. They pledged their undying devotion and his narcissism did the rest.

Elon Musk is on the same path. There are various theories purporting to explain Musk’s hard right turn: a childhood in apartheid South Africa, his connection with Peter Thiel, disappointments in his personal life. Whatever the truth of the matter, whatever right-leaning tendencies he may have had before a couple years ago appear to have been latent or unformed. Now the transformation is almost complete. He’s done with general “free speech” grievance and springing for alternative viewpoints. He’s routinely pushing all the far right storylines from woke groomers to great replacement.

I’ve paid little attention to Elon Musk until recently. There is copious testimony from many former employees that he is basically an entitled child with little understanding of how his cars and/or space ships work. Both he and Trump were men born into money who somehow gained reputations for being genius business people when in fact they are both a bit dim. More ego than brains.  Josh Marshall continues,

Most of us know what it’s like to be caught up in the moment. In a moment of tense confrontation or ego injury it is natural, if unlovely, to pull tight to those who are there to defend you. Some of this is simply human nature. But with the likes of Musk and Trump it operates on a qualitatively different and more explosive level, the consequence of an innate narcissism, an ingrained sense of grievance and entitlement and the unique dynamics of social media. Their power and wealth also make their meltdowns vastly more consequential than yours or mine.

Right now the Republican party is being pulled further and further into Crazy Land because of Trump. More of them now are willing to come out and say that they need to cut ties with Trump. However, they’re still afraid of him. They also don’t have much else to offer. See Jennifer Rubin on this point. For example,

In yet another entry in the poor argument sweepstakes, former vice president Mike Pence went on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday to opine, “Candidates that were focused on the issues that people are facing today and solutions for tomorrow, focused on the future did quite well. But candidates that were focused on the past, candidates that were focused on re-litigating the 2020 election did not fare as well.”

Hmmm. Which prominent Republican laid out a rational anti-inflation policy or a jobs policy or anything of substance that might have a prayer of passage? It seems the party spent more time running away from the extreme agenda outlined by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, than explaining what it would do if elected.

The Republicans for too long have leaned on fear mongering and dirty politics to win elections, going back to the 1950s. They started out with McCarthyism and Red baiting, and then they learned to use racism and sexism and homophobia to keep the base marching to the voting booth. For a long time there were still “serious” Republicans who could write legislation and who had some understanding of policy issues, but now that group has mostly been replaced by Internet trolls. Even Jim Geraghty, a National Review guy who also writes for the Washington Post, has realized they’ve hit a wall.

Yes, the GOP underperformed in a lot of places this year, but the limits of “angertainment” were perhaps most vividly illustrated here, a rough lesson in the diminishing returns from an approach to governing that mistakes “owning the libs” for getting things done for constituents.

The razor-thin near-rejection of Boebert — from a district that Donald Trump won by eight percentage points in 2020, covering much of the western half of the state — demonstrates that Trump-esque style of turning the performative outrage up to 11 hit a hard ceiling among the electorate, repelling not just Democrats and independents but apparently a thin but decisive slice of Republicans. It likely isn’t a coincidence that the last good year for Colorado Republicans was the one before Trump announced his 2016 presidential campaign.

Geraghty has realized that the cheapest and easiest way for a Republican politician to gain attention is to be controversial and crazy. The problem is that not enough of the voting public watches Fox News.

But now the GOP finds itself in something like a perfect storm. Too much of “the base” is seething with bigotry and grievance and really is just about owning the Libs. They have no discernible interest in policy other than knee-jerk opposition to whatever the Democrats are trying to do. They dismiss Republicans who aren’t as radical as they are as RINOs. And they alienate centrist and conventionally conservative voters.

It’s like riding a tiger. How do you get off without being eaten?

See also At Protests, Guns Are Doing the Talking. Gun-carrying at public demonstrations is becoming more and more common, but only among right-wingers.

A partisan divide — with Democrats largely eschewing firearms and Republicans embracing them — has warped civic discourse. Deploying the Second Amendment in service of the First has become a way to buttress a policy argument, a sort of silent, if intimidating, bullhorn.

“It’s disappointing we’ve gotten to that state in our country,” said Kevin Thompson, executive director of the Museum of Science & History in Memphis, Tenn., where armed protesters led to the cancellation of an L.G.B.T.Q. event in September. “What I saw was a group of folks who did not want to engage in any sort of dialogue and just wanted to impose their belief.”

A New York Times analysis of more than 700 armed demonstrations found that, at about 77 percent of them, people openly carrying guns represented right-wing views, such as opposition to L.G.B.T.Q. rights and abortion access, hostility to racial justice rallies and support for former President Donald J. Trump’s lie of winning the 2020 election.

They believe themselves to be right, but they won’t, or can’t, engage in dialog because they honestly have no arguments. And I don’t know where the nation will go from here.

Fashion News and Other Leftist Plots (Updates)

The Stewart Rhodes insurrection case went to the jury yesterday. Maybe we’ll get a verdict before Thanksgiving.

For an interesting read on what’s being called “salad bar terrorism,” see Composite Violent Extremism: A Radicalization Pattern Changing the Face of Terrorism by a bunch of people at Lawfare Blog. This is about an increasing phenomenon of mass shooters and others committing violent acts who don’t fit into pre-existing ideological categories.

In recent congressional testimony, for example, FBI Director Christopher Wray described extremists who hold a “weird hodgepodge blend of ideologies,” noting that this trend is producing challenges in “trying to unpack what are often sort of incoherent belief systems, combined with kind of personal grievances.” Other government officials and private-sector researchers have used a variety of different terms to discuss the same phenomenon, including ideological mixing and ideology à la carte.

What the fashionable Balenciaga Leftie was wearing in 1954. You can tell she’s a Communist getting ready to infiltrate something.

Speaking of ideological confusion, yesterday a guy at the Right-Wing site Hot Air wrote a post headlined Kids and Bondage that began, “The Left gets creepier by the minute. And that is saying something.” It was about some advertising featuring children in sexualized poses from the luxury fashion house Balenciaga. Since when is Balenciaga  “the Left”? Oh, it’s explained late in the post — the NAACP commended Balenciaga for leaving Twitter. That’s the connection.

Well, obviously, this is solid proof that Hillary Clinton up to something. Maybe Anthony Fauci also. They’ll find the truth on Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Alas, fashion can’t fix stupid.

The new leak allegations aimed at Justice Samuel Alito are showing us how very wealthy right-wing people get access to Supreme Court justices. Through money, of course. The money isn’t going into the justice’s personal pockets, but it still stinks. See The Real Problem With the Second Alleged Leak at the Court by Dahlia Lithwick at Slate.

Update: Lindsey Graham is testifying to the Fulton Country Grand Jury today. He probably didn’t wear Balenciaga.

Update: The Supreme Court has decided the House can get Trump’s tax returns. Of course, now there is some question about whether they can get the returns before the Republicans take over.

If the House Dems can get the returns before the term is up, they should be sure Democratic senators get copies. They should send a copy to Susanne Craig at the New York Times. Hell, I’d make PDFs and put them all online.

Also, this happened today at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. This is from Law & Crime:

In the first courtroom match-up for newly anointed special counsel Jack Smith, the Department of Justice urged a conservative panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to void the privilege review stopping them from using certain files seized from Mar-a-Lago in their investigation against former President Donald Trump.

“Delay is fatal to the vindication of criminal law,” Justice Department attorney Sopan Joshi, on loan from the solicitor general’s office, declared on Tuesday afternoon.

From the general tenor of the roughly 40-minute hearing, that warning resonated: A three-judge panel of all Republican appointees from the conservative 11th Circuit Court of Appeals suggested that a lower court judge may not have had equitable jurisdiction over the case and appeared deeply concerned about the precedent finding in Trump’s favor would set for any subject or target of a criminal investigation.

Time and again throughout oral arguments, Trump’s attorney James Trusty faced sharp questioning from the three-judge panel, even over referring to the search of Mar-a-Lago as a “raid.”

“Do you think that ‘raid” is the right term for execution of a a warrant?” U.S. Circuit Judge Elizabeth “Britt” Cagle Grant, a Trump appointee, asked.

Trusty apologized for using loaded terminology, only to earn another rebuke later for referring to the document authorizing it as a “general warrant.”

“You didn’t establish that it was a general warrant,” Pryor countered.

The exchanges encapsulated the rough reception Trump’s legal team has had in the 11th Circuit since the Justice Department’s appeal began.

 

How Serious Is the GOP About Herschel Walker?

Josh Marshall catches the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) playing a fast one on donors. The NRSC is pushing an email campaign for donations to elect Herschel Walker to the Senate next month. That seems normal. But if you keep reading, you see that only one cent of every dollar donated is actually going to “Team Herschel.”

The most notable thing is that for ever dollar I give literally one cent goes to Herschel Walker’s campaign. 98 cents goes to the NRSC. This is fairly shocking in itself. But at the moment the NRSC’s main task is getting Walker elected. That’s the only outstanding Senate race. So maybe you can argue that NRSC money is mostly going to support Walker. Maybe.

But the thing that really jumped out to me is that the NRSC gets 98 cents, Herschel Walker gets one cent and “Team Rick Scott” also gets one cent. Rick Scott ran the NRSC for this cycle, a fairly disastrous run. This cycle continues with the runoff. But what’s Team Rick Scott? That’s Scott’s own personal campaign committee. And what’s the point exactly? After all it’s just one cent. If he’s going to put his hand in the till why not take more? The Times‘ Shane Goldmacher I think has this right. It’s not the money so much as the data. Scott only has a one cent toehold but he gets the donor data on every dollar these NRSC fundraising pitches bring in. It’s just astonishingly brazen.

Here’s what Shane Goldmacher said.

In other words, this is about Rick Scott possibly preparing for a presidential run, not about the head of the NRSC trying to get one more seat in the Senate.

There was a lot of griping within the GOP about Scott’s handling of the NRSC. A few days ago there was talk of an audit to find what Scott had done with donations. Scott blamed the NRSC’s financial problems on whoever was in charge before Scott took over, two years ago.

This New York Times article from September says that the NRSC racked in millions of dollars, but that Scott blew it .

It was early 2021, and Senator Rick Scott wanted to go big. The new chairman of the Senate Republican campaign arm had a mind to modernize the place. One of his first decisions was to overhaul how the group raised money online.

Mr. Scott installed a new digital team, spearheaded by Trump veterans, and greenlit an enormous wave of spending on digital ads, not to promote candidates but to discover more small contributors. Soon, the committee was smashing fund-raising records. By the summer of 2021, Mr. Scott was boasting about “historic investments in digital fund-raising that are already paying dividends.”

A year later, some of that braggadocio has vanished — along with most of the money.

Do tell.

Now top Republicans are beginning to ask: Where did all the money go?

The answer, chiefly, is that Mr. Scott’s enormous gamble on finding new online donors has been a costly financial flop in 2022, according to a New York Times analysis of federal records and interviews with people briefed on the committee’s finances. Today, the N.R.S.C. is raising less than before Mr. Scott’s digital splurge.

You can read the NY Times story (no paywall) for the whole story. The gist of it is that Scott went to the small donor well too often and too aggressively. Returns diminished after a while.

As far as Herschel is concerned, the GOP seems mostly concerned about keeping Trump out of Georgia so he doesn’t step on whatever chance Herschel has in winning. I am not finding any new polls since November 7, most of which had Walker beating Warnock.