Ray Hartmann

National Review turns the tables on Trump

National Review Editor-In-Chief Rich Lowry borrowed a page from Donald Trump’s playbook today with an email blast seeking to cash in on an attack he made Friday against the magazine.

“He didn’t insult anyone’s wife, give us a nickname, or say that the title of our magazine somehow sounds Chinese,” Lowry wrote. He only said that we are lightweights who serve no purpose and whose publication deserves to die.”

Here’s the statement Trump posted on social media, according to the Review:

“Why does anyone read the National Review. (sic) They are so negative to Conservatives and me and are seen as being led by lightweights that couldn’t shine the shoes of Bill Buckley. They have absolutely nothing going, it is failing fast, and my only question is, who is paying for the losses — when it loses plenty of money and serves no purpose at all. People are tired of haters — let the National Review die peacefully!”

The email utilized those words to set up a financial kill shot, in Trump fashion:

“He wonders who’s funding us, and that’s an easy one — people like you who believe in our cause and who are willing to help out. There’s a reason that Mar-a-Lago wants us to die, and if you envision and hope for a better American future, you should help us live."

The email dropped any pretense of journalistic nonpartisanship in its fundraising appeal.

“We want a Republican Party that can win majorities and that doesn’t limit itself to trying to eke through with 46 percent in presidential elections,” the email stated. “We want a conservatism that is unapologetic and serious-minded and not distorted by one man’s ego or abased by ridiculous conspiracy theories.”

More than 30 Republicans supported Andy Biggs’ failed speaker bid – here’s how strange that makes them

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was easily elected Speaker today in a 188-31 romp over Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ).

But lost in the main story was one that’s perhaps just as significant: A large chunk of Republicans cast their secret ballots for one of the weirdest-of-the-weird members of the House Freedom Caucus.

Biggs has compiled an extremist resume that few can match, even as it has flown under the radar relative to the likes of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert. Biggs takes a back seat to no one in the clown car of wingnut world.

The fact that he got any votes for House Speaker – much less almost 15 percent of them – is a statement, however unsurprising, that certifies the freakishness of the Republicans’ right flank. Biggs, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, is off the grid.

Here are some of Biggs’ credits:

Biggs is the ultimate homophobe. Biggs voted against the 2020 COVID-19 relief bill because it “redefined family” by providing benefits for same-sex couples. He has called same-sex marriage “an affront to millions of Americans. As Arizona Senate President, he supported a bill that would have allowed business owner to refuse service to LGBT people by citing their religiously-based opposition to homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Biggs served as a policy advisor to United Families International, so virulently homophobic that it has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group.” His wife, Cindy Biggs, was the treasurer of that organization, which has previously lobbied against expansions of LGBTQ rights.

He was a leading insurrectionist. Biggs was accused of having helped plan the events of January 6 by confessed organizer Ali Alexander, a conspiracy theorist and right-wing activist. Before that, an 80-second message from Biggs was played at a “Stop the Steal” rally on December 19 in Arizona.

His own brothers attacked him as “at least partially to blame” for the January 6 riot. He was among a small handle of members refusing to wear a COVID mask while Congress was locked down during the riot.

He was a prominent anti-vaxxer, having introduced a bill prohibiting businesses that received COVID-19 from mandating vaccines within their own companies.

He was among the first perpetrators of the Big Lie, having tweeted just 10 days after the election an invented falsehood that 10,000 Maricopa County voters were disenfranchised by “the green button.” Biggs tried to advance the lie that antifa were partly to blame for the January 6 riot. He went on national conservative media to call Pennsylvania’s election “fraud, pure and simple,” and demand its results be invalidated.

He found the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul to be humorous, saying “Nancy is losing the gavel but finding the hammer” at a GOP election watch party in Arizona.

He loves a good conspiracy. Representative Andy Biggs accused former President Obama of attempting to orchestrate a “coup” against his successor, saying the previous administration engaged in a conspiracy to undermine then President-elect Trump while investigating national security adviser Michael Flynn.

He’s a leading hater of Dr. Anthony Fauci. “Dr. Fauci is conveniently resigning from his position in December before House Republicans have an opportunity to hold him accountable for destroying our country over these past three years. This guy is a coward.”

He’s cool with hate. Biggs was among just 233 Republicans to vote against a 2019 resolution condemning anti-Semitism and others forms of hatred. He was one of just 12 Republicans to vote against the “Never Forget the Heroes” 9/11 victims’ compensation bill in the same year.

He gave sweepstakes a bad name. If Biggs hadn’t become independently wealthy in 1993 by winning $10 million in the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, it’s likely no one would have ever heard of him today.

Here are the 20 best lines from Sonia Sotomayor's blistering dissent in Supreme Court school prayer case

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The landmark U.S. Supreme Court 6-3 ruling today siding with a high school football coach who led prayers during school events in Washington state will evoke heated debate among legal scholars and pundits.

But there’s no handier critique than the blistering dissent author by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. She excoriated the court majority for ignoring “overwhelming precedents establishing that school officials leading prayer violates the Establishment Clause.”

Here are some of the most quotable points in Sotomayor’s dissent:

“This case is about whether a public school must permit a school official to kneel, bow his head, and say a prayer at the center of a school event. The Constitution does not authorize, let alone require, public schools to embrace this conduct."

“This Court consistently has recognized that school officials leading prayer is constitutionally impermissible.”

“While the Court reaffirms that the Establishment Clause prohibits the government from coercing participation in religious exercise, it applies a nearly toothless version of the coercion analysis, failing to acknowledge the unique pressures faced by students when participating in school-sponsored activities.

“This decision does a disservice to schools and the young citizens they serve, as well as to our Nation’s longstanding commitment to the separation of church and state.

“Official-led prayer strikes at the core of our constitutional protections for the religious liberty of students and their parents, as embodied in both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.”

“This case is not about the limits on an individual’s ability to engage in private prayer at work. This case is about whether a school district is required to allow one of its employees to incorporate a public, communicative display of the employee’s personal religious beliefs into a school event, where that display is recognizable as part of a longstanding practice of the employee ministering religion to students as the public watched.”

“Government neutrality toward religion is particularly important in the public-school context given the role public schools play in our society.”

“The Court concludes that coercion was not present in any event because “Kennedy did not seek to direct any prayers to students or require anyone else to participate. But nowhere does the Court engage with the unique coercive power of a coach’s actions on his adolescent players.”

“This decision rests on an erroneous understanding of the Religion Clauses. It also disregards the balance this Court’s cases strike among the rights conferred by the Clauses.”

“The Court relies on an assortment of pluralities, concurrences, and dissents by Members of the current majority to effect fundamental changes in this Court’s Religion Clauses jurisprudence, all the while proclaiming that nothing has changed at all.”

“For decades, the Court has recognized that, in determining whether a school has violated the Establishment Clause, ‘one of the relevant questions is whether an objective observer, acquainted with the text, legislative history, and implementation of the [practice], would perceive it as a state endorsement of prayer in public schools.’ The Court now says for the first time that endorsement simply does not matter.”

“The question before the Court is not whether a coach taking a knee to pray on the field would constitute an Establishment Clause violation in any and all circumstances. It is whether permitting Kennedy to continue a demonstrative prayer practice at the center of the football field after years of inappropriately leading students in prayer in the same spot, at that same time, and in the same manner, which led students to feel compelled to join him, violates the Establishment Clause. It does.”

“The effects of the majority’s new rule could be profound. The problems with elevating history and tradition over purpose and precedent are well documented.”

“The Court’s history-and-tradition test offers essentially no guidance for school administrators. If even judges and Justices, with full adversarial briefing and argument tailored to precise legal issues, regularly disagree (and err) in their amateur efforts at history, how are school administrators, faculty, and staff supposed to adapt?

“How will school administrators exercise their responsibilities to manage school curriculum and events when the Court appears to elevate individuals’ rights to religious exercise above all else?

“Today’s opinion provides little in the way of answers; the Court simply sets the stage for future legal changes that will inevitably follow the Court’s choice today to upset longstanding rules.”

“Today, the Court once again weakens the backstop. It elevates one individual’s interest in personal religious exercise, in the exact time and place of that individual’s choosing, over society’s interest in protecting the separation be- tween church and state, eroding the protections for religious liberty for all.”

“In focusing almost exclusively on Kennedy’s free exercise claim, however, and declining to recognize the conflicting rights at issue, the Court substitutes one supposed blanket rule for another.”

“Today’s decision is particularly misguided because it elevates the religious rights of a school official, who voluntarily accepted public employment and the limits that public employment entails, over those of his students, who are required to attend school and who this Court has long recognized are particularly vulnerable and deserving of protection.”

“The Court sets us further down a perilous path in forcing States to entangle themselves with religion, with all of our rights hanging in the balance.”

“As much as the Court protests otherwise, to- day’s decision is no victory for religious liberty.”

You can read the full decision of the Court decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District here.

'I tore down the barricades': FBI identifies and nabs Capitol rioter from Uber ride video confession

A California man who bragged to his Uber driver that he broke down a barrier at the January 6 Capitol riot was arrested last week -- with the help of the driver’s dashboard video camera.

Jerry Braun, of South El Monte, Calif., was charged by the FBI with illegal entry, disorderly and disruptive conduct and parading in the Capitol. Braun’s case stood out in the manner he was apprehended, as well as an unusual in-person interview last November at his home with FBI agents.

The FBI was tipped off by the Uber driver who picked Braun up at 7:05 p.m., after the riot. Here’s how their conversation went:

Driver: “So, has it been violent all day?”

Braun: “Well, it started around, right when I got there. I tore down the barricades.”

Driver: “You did? Why?”

Braun: “Well, because, so we could get to the Capitol.”

Driver: “Well, how’d that work out for ya?”

Braun: “Well, it looks like, uh, Biden’s gonna be our president.”

Agents were able to match Braun to the Uber video -- in which he had been identified as “Jerry LNU” for “Last Name Unknown” -- with the help of phone records and the following description:

“From the interviews with the Uber driver, I learned that Jerry LNU had a white beard, an injury near his right eye, and showed visible bleeding near the eye during the Uber ride.”

Braun: “Well, it looks like, uh, Biden’s gonna be our president.”

Agents were able to match Braun to the Uber video -- in which he had been identified as “Jerry LNU” for “Last Name Unknown” -- with the help of phone records and the following description:

“From the interviews with the Uber driver, I learned that Jerry LNU had a white beard, an injury near his right eye, and showed visible bleeding near the eye during the Uber ride.”

“Braun stated he had been analyzing politics his whole life, and went to Washington, D.C. to listen to a speech of the President. After being asked by the agents if Braun had anything he wanted to tell them before he departed the search location, Braun responded, “Guilty.” When asked what he was guilty of, Braun responded, “Everything.” Braun stated he “flew out there, listened to the speech, walked toward the Capitol, made it to the edge of the crowd.”

The FBI complaint against Braun included this description captured on police body cameras during the riot on the west side of the Capitol grounds:

“Braun is in possession of a long wood plank that appears to be about eight feet in length. Videos show Braun in possession of the wood plank, controlling the wood plank and maneuvering the wood plank towards law enforcement officers in an aggressive manner.

“In one instance captured on the videos, Braun extends the wood plank and physically strikes an individual who is wearing a helmet with the text “PRESS” displayed across the front (the photographer) and appears to be taking photographs with a camera. Braun and the photographer appear to exchange words. Braun then strikes the photographer with his left hand, and subsequently strikes the photographer once more with the wood plank.”

You can read the FBI criminal complaint here.

MAGA school teacher pleads guilty after her husband lied to the FBI about entering Capitol

A Missouri couple who had boasted on Facebook of being "the first ones in" to the U.S. Capitol on January 6 has pleaded guilty to remaining unlawfully in the building they told FBI agents they hadn't entered.

Kelsey Leigh Ann Wilson -- then a first-grade teacher -- and her husband Zachary Wilson entered their guilty pleas Monday and await December 7 sentencing. Zachary Wilson had been arrested in February, but Kelsey Wilson hadn't been booked until six months later.

Here's how it was reported at the Kansas City Star:

FBI investigators interviewed Kelsey and Zachary Wilson on Jan. 18 at their home in Springfield, the documents said. During the interview, both said they had been on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 but denied entering the building.
An FBI agent interviewed Zachary Wilson a second time at his home on Jan. 20, according to the documents. Zachary Wilson then admitted entering the Capitol building but said his wife did not go inside.

But a coworker of Kelsey Wilson who accompanied them to Washington D.C. was interviewed by FBI agents and said the two had gone into the Capitol for 30 minutes. She shared a photo of Kelsey Wilson "wearing a black, white and gold beanie, white pants, a gray long-sleeved shirt and a 'Keep America Great Again' pro-Trump flag wrapped around her body," the FBI reported.

It was Kelsey Wilson's position as a first-grade teacher that had drawn the most attention when she arrested. At the time, the attorney said she expected to lose her new job at Dayspring Christian School in Springfield, Missouri. She was put on administrative leave and, as of Tuesday, the school told reporters she was no longer employed there.

'I’m standing in the way': Alabama governor channels George Wallace in opposing Biden vaccine mandate

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey was one of about 20 Republican governors to attack President Joe Biden's new rules on vaccines last week, but she stood apart in the historical context framing her anger.

Ivey, 76, channeled a hero of her youth, former Gov. George Wallace, famously standing in the schoolhouse doors in 1962 to block federal marshals from mandating the integration of Alabama schools.

Nearly half a century later, Ivey assumed a similar stance toward Washington D.C. But in this case, it was to resist the federal government imposing public-health measures on her sovereign state.

Ivey took to Twitter to invoke Wallace's imagery, this time to oppose Biden's OSHA-grounded requirement that employees be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19 before coming to work in companies employing 100 or more. Here's her Tweet:

"You bet I'm standing in the way. And if he thinks he's going to move me out of the way, he's got another thing coming. I'm standing as strong as a bull for Alabama against this outrageous Washington overreach. Bring it on," Ivey said."

And there was this: "I encourage Alabamians to take the vaccine – have been since the beginning, but we're never going to mandate it. And we certainly aren't going to allow Washington, D.C. & this president to tell Alabama what to do. Here in AL, we don't put up with that nonsense."

That was precisely Alabama's position when Wallace was standing in those doors. Was the reference to standing in the way coincidental? The similarity wasn't lost on the Alabama Democratic Party, the website AL.com reported Sunday:

"Governor, quit playing your political games and work with Washington to find solutions to get folks to take the shot. Lives are on the line. It's time to be a leader, not a Wallace wannabe," said Wade Perry, executive director of the party.

Alabama ranks eighth in the nation in COVID-19 deaths and ninth in total cases since the beginning of the pandemic, according to statistics from the New York Times coronavirus tracker. It's death rate of 259 per 100,000 is 30 percent higher than the national average.

Perry called out Ivey for having failed to control the pandemic in Alabama:

"Now is not the time for feigned outrage or political rhetoric," Perry said. "Getting mad and throwing a tantrum is not what leaders do. We've needed real leadership throughout this pandemic and Kay Ivey has failed us. 12,552 Alabamians have died from COVID-19. For these neighbors, there will be no more birthdays, weddings, graduations, and holidays celebrated - only an empty seat at the family table for a generation."

Perry also noted the hypocrisy of Alabama's governor invoking state sovereignty while relying upon federal programs and assistance, Al.com reported.

Ivey, who is running for re-election in 2022, had made national headlines in late July by attacking Alabamans who refused to get vaccinated.

"Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It's the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down," Ivey told reporters in Birmingham. "The unvaccinated are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain. "We've got to get folks to take the shot."

Ivey ducked reporters' questions about imposing state mask or vaccine mandates, CNN reported. But now she has gone full Wallace in attacking Biden for attempting to force what she called "the greatest weapon we have to fight Covid" upon the states.

Then again, that's not all that surprising, given Ivey's history. Ivey had campaigned in 1966 for Wallace's wife Lurleen -- who had been placed on the ballot by her husband as "Mrs. George Wallace" in an unabashed effort to circumvent state term limits at the time.

Ivey's bona fides as a disciple of Wallace were validated by none other than Wallace's daughter -- Peggy Kennedy Wallace -- shortly after her election as governor in 2018. Here's how the Montgomery Advertiser reported it:

"Peggy Wallace Kennedy spoke on a week that started with former Gov. Robert Bentley resigning amid a scandal that has dominated national headlines and Kay Ivey being sworn in as Alabama's second female governor. The state's first female governor was Kennedy's mother, Lurleen B. Wallace.

Kennedy said Ivey campaigned for her mother and that she's been a friend for years.

"I know that she'll put the past behind (her) and move the state forward," Kennedy said. "I think that Gov. Ivey will move us in the right direction. "(Lurleen Wallace) knew Gov. Ivey, of course, so I think she would be really proud of Gov. Ivey. I really, really do."

And certainly, George Wallace would be just as proud today of Ivey for standing in the way of Washington D.C.

Attorney for MAGA rioter trots out the 'blame Trump' defense

To hear his attorney tell it, accused rioter Kyle Fitzsimons was merely "caught up in the frenzy of the rally and protest" when Donald Trump incited his followers to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

It is a defense that first started getting noticed in the weeks following the insurrection. But even though Trump certainly incited the riot that day, it's not clear that it is a winning argument when it comes to the exoneration of the rioters.

Fitzsimons, 37, of Lebanon ME, was bloodied by an officer's baton on the front lines of the riot, but "lowered his shoulder and charged at the line of officers" according to the FBI. The criminal complaint against him cited multiple witnesses who told agents of his "vocal right-wing beliefs," including frequent references to firearms.

"Fitzsimons has been held without bail since Feb. 4, when authorities arrested him at his Lebanon home. He was indicted on 10 charges, including rushing at a line of officers, disorderly conduct and assault on a federal officer," the Bangor Daily News reported.

"When a judge denied him bail in April, he rejected Fitzsimons' contention that a crowd pushed him from behind into a line of police at the Capitol.

"'I saw you charge at the officers, you were beat down but then got up and went back at them,' U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey said at the time," the Daily News reported.

In court Friday, however, Fitzsimons' public defender Natasha Taylor-Smith argued for his release pending trial "due to his "minimal" criminal history that includes a drunken driving offense and "no history of substance abuse or mental health issues." She said he is not a flight risk and poses no threat to the community," the newspaper reported.

"Mr. Fitzsimons had no prior intent to enter the Capitol building or engage in violence, but the energy of the crowd that day is well-documented, and the mood shifted from one of purported patriotism to agitation," Taylor Smith said. She added that his mother has offered to open her Titusville, Florida, home to Fitzsimons, who worked as a freelance butcher in York County and has no passport.

But the Portland Press-Herald reported this:

"Federal prosecutors have a very different portrayal of Fitzsimons in their arguments to hold him in jail pending trial. Prosecutors had not yet responded Saturday to Taylor-Smith's latest request, but among the reasons they cited in earlier filings were threatening calls Fitzsimons allegedly made to the office of a member of Congress later identified as Maine's Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-District 1.

"He was reported to be very aggressive, shouting and yelling," prosecutors wrote in a motion filed with the courts in March. "Fitzsimons said that he was going to 'give it to her hard' and that 'we're coming for her' (referring to the Congressperson)."

"Fitzsimons allegedly called back the next day to say the Electoral College vote is "corrupt and total garbage. 'He urged the Congressperson to dispute the election results in January,' prosecutors wrote. "He stated that Biden is a corrupt skeleton and that this is going to be civil war." In another call, Fitzsimons identified himself as 'Kyle Fitzsimons, the man who wants to start a war' as he demanded a number for Chinese President Xi Jinping."

Josh Hawley hits a new low for hypocrisy

If they decide to make flip-flopping an Olympic sport, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley needs to hop on the next plane to Tokyo.

Hawley just attacked President Joe Biden for attacking Facebook. Yes, this excruciatingly annoying preppy man who has staked his repulsive young political career upon crusading against social media -- through the use of social media -- has decided it's not cool for Biden to get in Facebook's face. Really.

In the past week -- publicly and without apology -- the Biden administration has pressed Facebook (among other social media) to stop facilitating the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. On Friday, Biden claimed Facebook was "killing people." The company fired back with a dismissive response telling Biden "to move past the finger-pointing."

There is neither a carrot nor a stick involved in Biden's effort. His administration is trying to shame Facebook into doing its fair share to keep dangerous lies from exacerbating a pandemic that continues to rage on--especially among the unvaccinated. And the government effort has not been well-received by the social-media giant.

But even before Biden's spat with Facebook, Hawley had already advanced the bizarre conspiracy theory that since Facebook is a monopoly and the government was in communication with it, this can only mean one thing: "(social media) collusion with the Biden administration to suppress free speech." Somewhere Q is blushing.

A few truths cry out for attention. One, criticizing and colluding are different things. Two, urging and censoring are different things. And three, joining forces and fighting are different things.

Hawley is just beside himself that the administration "is in regular touch with the social media platforms" about misinformation and disinformation about related to COVID-19 and that it is "flagging problematic posts for Facebook." He finds it "shocking" that such "casual collusion" could exist.

Only in Hawley's twisted world could communication with Facebook have morphed into a plot to "censor" those who spread falsehoods for the purpose of scaring people away from getting vaccinated. Or that fighting the spread of a deadly virus is a bad thing.

It's revealing that Hawley equates conservative speech and false information on vaccines. Perhaps he has a point there. But this is the same politician who has demanded that the federal government use every tool at his disposal to punish social-media companies that he and fellow Republicans deem offensive.

Think that's exaggerated? Consider one of the first bills Hawley introduced as a freshman senator in 2018, one that Vox succinctly described at the time as a "joke." Here's how writer Peter Kafka explained Hawley's bill:

"The idea is that the federal government will strip away protections that shield those companies from being held accountable for the content their users upload and they distribute — and will only restore those protections once the companies can prove they aren't favoring one end of the political spectrum…

"On to the bill itself: Its main idea is to remove Section 230 from the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which says that big internet publishers that distribute content supplied by their users — think Twitter, YouTube, Facebook — aren't held liable for the content those users supply.

"Hawley, though, describes that protection from lawsuits as a "subsidy" given to big internet companies. And he says they should have to prove themselves worthy of that protection by convincing at least four of the five members of the Federal Trade Commission that they're not politically biased — a process they would have to repeat every two years.

"How would Twitter or Facebook successfully prove that to the satisfaction of the FTC members? Hawley's bill doesn't tell us. It just says the companies need to provide "clear and convincing evidence that the provider does not … moderate information provided by other information content providers in a politically biased manner."

Now that's what you call Big Brother government.

Kafka didn't have the benefit in 2018 of knowing that Hawley would flip to the view in 2021 that even for an administration to complain to Facebook would constitute "collusion" to impose censorship in the event Republicans were not the complaining party. But now that the uniforms have changed, everything is reversed. Forget about those tribunals calling social-media executives on the carpet to disprove the negative that they're not "politically biased."

Now that the Democrats are in power, Hawley is trying to claim it's a tyrannical act of censorship even for Biden and his administration to urge Facebook to combat the spread of misinformation about public health during a pandemic. And even as a private company, Facebook must be compelled not to "police speech…in the public square" -- even if it means saving lives.

How much more hypocritically can this political Plastic Man contort his positions with respect to social media? To be fair, it was a bit of an Olympian feat that Hawley could deliver his most recent deceits with a straight face, even in this era of unbridled shamelessness by insurrectionists such as himself.

Hawley was, after all, the guy with the iconic clenched fist on January 6 outside the Capitol. And he's never been prouder of anything. The man has no shame.

What's next, using an iPhone for a Twitter post to promote an anti-tech book on Amazon? Oh wait, Hawley just did that.

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Mo Brooks snared by local paper over Alabama's Confederate holidays — after he voted against Juneteenth

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-AL, provided a reminder this week of why intellectually challenged politicians are best served by not trying to explain their votes.

Brooks was one of just 14 Republicans to oppose the overwhelmingly bipartisan bill that made Juneteenth a federal holiday this week. When he tried to explain why, it just made matters worse.

The QAnon-friendly congressman (and Alabama U.S. Senate candidate) feebly tried to make his vote about money, as reported at Al.com:

"The Huntsville congressman…said he had fiscal concerns about the bill, noting that adding a federal holiday would cost the country $1 billion in lost productivity by giving federal workers a day off.

"The cost should have been offset by eliminating one of the other holidays so that taxpayers don't once again have to foot the bill for paying millions of people not to work," he said.

Asked which federal holiday should be cut to add one that celebrates the end of slavery, Brooks said, "I have some thoughts, but I'm not going to volunteer a holiday and get a group of folks unnecessarily mad at me unless it was going to be a trade-off."

Unfortunately for Brooks, his home-district daily newspaper, the Athens (AL) News-Courier, raised a matter even closer to home:

"A spokesman for Brooks did not respond to questions asking if the congressman had similar concerns about the cost to state taxpayers for the multiple Confederacy-related holidays in Alabama," the News-Courier reported.

Showing why local journalism stills matters, the story included this civics lesson:

"Alabama is the last state to have a legal holiday set aside solely to commemorate the birth of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Mississippi marks Davis' birthday but includes it in the Memorial Day celebration. In Texas, Davis' birthday is part of "Confederate Heroes Day" while other Southern states, including Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee, have a holiday for Davis on the books but do not give employees a day off.

"Alabama and Mississippi are also the last two states to have a combined holiday in January in observation of the January birthdays of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee. Legislation introduced in Alabama this year to move Robert E. Lee Day to Columbus Day did not make it out of committee."

FBI invited a Trump rioter to write an essay about his day at the Capitol -- and he did

Carey Jon Walden of Kansas City was arrested today in connection with the January 6 Capitol riot, but only after an FBI interview that resembled a middle-schooler getting questioned by his teacher about a field trip.

Walden, identified by the FBI as an ex-Marine, was identified with the help of a tip to the bureau's online portal and a photo he had posted on his Facebook page. But what made this accused rioter stand out from the rest was his unusually forthcoming discussion with the FBI.

What was truly extraordinary was the FBI description of his response to being interviewed by an agent. The highlight was Walton's claim to have "fist-bumped and devil-horned" a friendly swat line.

Here, according to the FBI criminal complaint, is how it went:

"On February 3, the FBI interviewed Walden at his residence in Kansas City, Missouri. Walden admitted to the FBI that he was present at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and that he went inside the Capitol Building that day through a broken window.

"Walden was shown a photocopy of the U.S. Capitol and asked to show where he went inside. Walden circled on the photocopy where he thinks he went into the US Capitol. He wrote on the back, 'That's where I think I was during protest.' Walden signed, dated, and placed his date of birth on the photocopy. Walden also forwarded three videos (and) four still photographs from his phone to the FBI (that he identified as coming) from his activities outside the Capitol.

"Walden was then shown two printed photos from Facebook titled Carey Jon Walden. Walden stated that the first picture was one he took and posted on Facebook prior to entering the U.S. Capitol thru a broken window. Walden confirmed also posting the second photo and then wrote on the front of the photocopy "This is from my Facebook, picture that I took."

"Walden was then asked to write in his own words his activities inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, which he did.

"I, Carey J. Walden, climbed a wall into the Capitol building on 6 Jan 21, at approx 1:00pm to 1:30pm. I took pictures and videos of where I entered. I went into a broken window, which was already broken. I walked in a 15 SQ FT, area, witch there were police in a line guarding a passage way. I took pictures and video. I did not break anything. The police were present and I was not asked to leave. I fist bumped and 'Devil horned' the swat line. I left after about 5 minutes. I walked out after I heard that someone was shot. I was wearing blue jeans gray sweatshirt, blue respirator, red chiefs beanie. Had a backpack, with all of the belongings I have. I was not armed, nor had body armor. I am not a part of any hate groups. I went with a bus of Trump supports. I am a U.S Marine (inactive) veteran. These are my recollections of that day."

The FBI complaint against Walden also showed a screen capture of Walden's self-identified video shows a breathing apparatus he was wearing prior to making entry into the Capitol building. Walden faces charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful entry.

You can read the complaint here


Even right-wing media are slamming Arizona's bizarre 'election audit'

The conservative Washington Times, a noted purveyor of conspiracy theories, didn't mince words in criticizing the spectacle of a partisan election "audit' -- to placate Donald Trump -- in Maricopa County, AZ.

"'Hoping something sticks': Arizona election audit promises more intrigue than answers," read the headline on a Saturday piece at the newspaper's website.

"The ongoing audit of the 2020 election in Arizona has the state's Republican leaders at each other's throats and their disputes over the process are raising doubts about the outcome of the high-tech recount," the paper reported.

The Times was not alone among leading conservative information sites in shying away from Trump's obsession. The Arizona audit has received scant coverage at FoxNews.com and Newsmax.com -- likely because Arizona Republicans are allowing the even-battier OANN to livestream the festivities -- and other right-wing sources have also seemed unimpressed.

"The Madness of the Maricopa Election Audit," blared a headline Friday at the National Review. "The election results in Arizona's largest county have been certified and authenticated multiple times. This audit effort has been pure folly."

Even the agitators at Breitbart.com have been circumspect, eschewing their customary red-meat screeching and picking up AP News stories on the audit instead. Imagine the confusion among Breitbart believers upon seeing the audit described like this last week:


The Washington Times analysis did not read like one would expect from a newspaper known for birtherism, climate denial and most recently, wondering aloud if Antifa hadn't pulled off the January 6 Capitol riot in disguise.

"The pro-Trump faction that is championing the effort says all they want is the truth about an election in which President Biden was declared the winner by a less than 1% margin and GOP challenges over irregularities were rejected by the courts," the newspaper reported.

"Republican officials in Maricopa County, which is Arizona's largest county and the target of the audit, say the auditors have made impossible demands. Some analysts suspect the audit is less about getting answers and more about injecting new uncertainty."

The National Review piece -- one of three critical of the audit in recent weeks, with none in support -- was authored by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican elected to that post in November. The article was carried until the "Elections" tab and not identified as a guest column.

Richer offer the conservative audience an analogy to an IRS audit of an American who does not cheat or lie on taxes:

"Even though an IRS audit might annoy you and cause you some stress, you'd eventually realize that you have nothing to fear as long as the audit is done fairly and properly.

"But you'd likely feel differently if the IRS outsourced the audit to someone who:

  • Had no applicable professional credentials
  • Had never previously run a tax audit
  • Believed that Hugo Chavez had nefariously controlled your tax-auditing software
  • Had publicly stated prior to examining your taxes that you'd certainly committed tax fraud

"That is what is happening to elections in Maricopa County, Ariz. — the home of almost two-thirds of Arizona's voting population."

Richer went on to defend the accuracy of the county's 2020 vote tabulation and he described the head of the company conducting the audit -- Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan -- as having "indulged the wildest election conspiracy theories, including the one that deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez somehow had a hand in rigging America's elections."

For its part, the Washington Times piece did present some whataboutism about then-Democratic president candidate John Kerry having challenged voting-machine accuracy in Ohio during the 2004 election. And it presented some Trump quotes, but in the context of questions that "have given Trump room to operate."

And the most telltale sign of how skeptically the conservative media view the Arizona circus is how the Times ended its analysis. It quoted Matt Bernhard, a research engineer at VotingWorks, a non-partisan, non-profit voting technology company:

"Mr. Bernhard said the problem is from what he's seen, the auditors in Arizona are in over their head and 'based on their lack of expertise, aren't capable of finding problems if they are there.

"'It is sort of the dog chasing a firetruck situation," he said. 'The dog is never going to catch the fire truck and even if he did he wouldn't know what to do with it.'"

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All-villain team: The 62 who voted against the bipartisan hate crimes bill are the worst of the worst GOPers in the House

The "COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act" signed into law Thursday by President Joe Biden has been hailed as a rare breakthrough in the partisan gridlock that poisons American politics.

That's a fair assessment, given that the law was passed by whopping margins of 94-1 in the Senate and 364-62 in the House of Representatives. The big story was the bipartisan goodwill -- however fleeting -- that accompanied a measure that will, among other things, provide long-overdue greater protections to members of the AAPI community.

But every silver lining has a cloud in Washington D.C. So it's not unreasonable to wonder who would possibly stoop so low as to vote against a resolution "condemning the horrific shootings in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16th and reaffirming the House's commitment to combating hate, bigotry, and violence against the AAPI community."

The answer is 63 Republican members of Congress. But not just any 63.

They are the worst of the worst, a veritable who's who of the most hateful, treasonous and otherwise irrational voices on the national landscape.

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley reveled in his lone "no" vote in the Senate. His quest to claim the title as most bodacious seditionist this side of the Dear Leader could not have been more transparent.

On the House side, 62 members shamelessly stood apart from 147 other Republicans to take a collective public stand on behalf of hatred. All of them have terms that expire in 2022 -- and almost none have anything to fear electorally other than perhaps a primary from their right -- so they fired stray bullets in the culture war. Or perhaps they really love hate.

Considering that their fellow 147 Republicans have a pretty clear record of enabling Trump and his racist agenda, it's no small feat to put together a group that makes the others moderate in comparison. They've definitely planted their QAnon-ish flag.

What has emerged is the handiest roster of the nastiest scoundrels in the House.

Most striking about the 62 House members-- overlooked in the media focus on bipartisanship -- is the high-profile nature of this rogue's gallery. Virtually every major reprobate of the Far-Right defiantly went out of the way to make it more difficult to protect the AAPI community from acts of hatred.

It's an all-villains registry featuring the biggest of the big names: Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Green, Mo Brooks, Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, Madison Cawthorn, Paul Gosar, Ronny Jackson, Andy Biggs and more. If they're in Congress and have made a public splash on behalf of insurrection, racism and the like, they're almost certainly listed in this program guide.

To borrow a phrase offered today by ultra-conservative Rep. Liz Cheney, these people embody "evil lunacy." And though not all of the 62 hate enablers are household names, as a group they share one trait: This isn't their first act of treachery, just the most recent.

Consider some statistics:

Of the 62 members, 40 were among those joining as a group the disgraced and dismissed December lawsuit in Texas to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court flipped it aside.

Another 17 of the members weren't part of that legal effort because they hadn't yet taken office. These freshmen members of Congress represent 38% of the Republican class of newcomers--a chilling glimpse into the direction the party is heading.

Of the remaining five members, three -- Gosar, Cole and Davidson -- didn't join the lawsuit (citing concerns over federalism) but did vote to overturn the election on January 6. The others, Massie and Roy, have still continued to support the Big Lie.

Sixty of the 62 members voted to overturn the results, with two -- Mace and Massie -- saying Congress lacked power to do so (while repeating the Big Lie about the election having been stolen from Trump).

In a strange footnote, Cole claims he voted "no" by mistake on the anti-hate bill and had that read into the Congressional record. His official "no" vote stands in the final count.

Here, as reported at CNN, is an alphabetical list of the House Republicans who voted against the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act:

Robert Aderholt of Alabama

Rick Allen of Georgia

Jodey Arrington of Texas.

Brian Babin of Texas

Jim Banks of Indiana

Andy Biggs of Arizona

Dan Bishop of North Carolina

Lauren Boebert of Colorado

Mo Brooks of Alabama

Ted Budd of North Carolina

Tim Burchett of Tennessee

Kat Cammack of Florida

Jerry Carl of Alabama

Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina

Michael Cloud of Texas

Andrew Clyde of Georgia

Tom Cole of Oklahoma

Warren Davidson of Ohio

Byron Donalds of Florida

Jeff Duncan of South Carolina

Virginia Foxx of North Carolina

Matt Gaetz of Florida

Louie Gohmert of Texas

Bob Good of Virginia

Lance Gooden of Texas

Paul Gosar of Arizona

Mark Green of Tennessee

Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia

Michael Guest of Mississippi

Andy Harris of Maryland

Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee

Kevin Hern of Oklahoma

Yvette Herrell of New Mexico

Jody Hice of Georgia

Clay Higgins of Louisiana

Ronny Jackson of Texas

Mike Johnson of Louisiana

Jim Jordan of Ohio

Trent Kelly of Mississippi

Doug LaMalfa of California

Barry Loudermilk of Georgia

Nancy Mace of South Carolina

Tracey Mann of Kansas

Thomas Massie of Kentucky

Tom McClintock of California

Mary Miller of Illinois

Alex Mooney of West Virginia

Barry Moore of Alabama

Ralph Norman of South Carolina

Steven Palazzo of Mississippi

Gary Palmer of Alabama

Scott Perry of Pennsylvania

August Pfluger of Texas

Tom Rice of South Carolina

John Rose of Tennessee

Matt Rosendale of Montana

David Rouzer of North Carolina

Chip Roy of Texas

John Rutherford of Florida

Greg Steube of Florida

Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin

Randy Weber of Texas

Roger Stone's latest hustle finds him groveling for mercy — and cash

Poor, pitiful Roger Stone.

Oh, what a fall from grace it has been for the Prince of Darkness, the Dirty Trickster, Roger Dodger the Artful Codger. Call him what you will (he's said to like the first one), Stone has suddenly pivoted to a new persona.

Meet Roger Stone, downtrodden political martyr. Here's how he is spinning his suffering at -- where else? -- the Roger Stone Legal Defense Fund:

"As a Victim of The Mueller Witch Hunt, I Have Been Drained of All My Resources," Stone blubbered to his followers.

"For me and my family, the Mueller Witch Hunt never seems to end- even after the President of the United States saw through the corruption and unfairness of my railroading in a DC Courtroom and granted me a commutation and ultimately a full pardon.

"For three years I was smeared by CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post and the rest of the fake news media, hunted, terrorized, silenced, de-platformed, gagged, censored, harassed, persecuted, and forced into poverty by the corrupt politically-motivated Mueller witch hunt.

"Now the same corrupt cabal of media leftists and their Democrat allies are seeking to frame and destroy me again." In recent days the exact same fake media outlets seek to imply that I was involved in or knew about the storming of the Capitol on January 6th. This is categorically false and a smear, based solely on naked "guilt by association", sly innuendo and baseless supposition. It did not happen.

"Now these same Trump-hating leftists are once again demanding I be prosecuted in connection to the January 6th storming of the Capitol, an event I was not present for and have no knowledge of or connection to!"

Stone's plea conveniently left out a few details. One, was the part about a jury in that DC courtroom having found him guilty in November 2019 of all seven charges he faced: Five counts of lying to Congress, one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of a proceeding. That was a jury. Not Mueller. Not the media.

Stone also forgot to mention that his current financial plight owes to the IRS closing in on him regarding tax liabilities dating back a decade prior to the Mueller probe. Here's the crux of Stone's newest (and not small) problem, as reported Friday by Newsweek:

"The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump's ally and confidante Roger Stone on Friday, alleging that Stone avoided paying about $2 million in taxes and fees to fund his "lavish lifestyle."

"The suit claims that Stone and his wife Nydia Stone used the company Drake Ventures as an "alter ego" to avoid paying $1,590,361.89 in taxes, interest and fees for the tax years 2007 to 2011, along with another $407,036.84 for the 2018 tax year.

"Although they used funds held in Drake Ventures accounts to pay some of their taxes, the Stones' use of Drake Ventures to hold their funds allowed them to shield their personal income from enforced collection and fund a lavish lifestyle despite owing nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties," the complaint states. "As the Stones' alter ego, Drake Ventures is liable for the taxes."

"The complaint goes on to note that Drake Ventures is "dominated and controlled" by the Stones to such an extent that it "does not exist as an independent entity," with the company having no website or phone number and the Stones' private residence listed as the address. Nydia Stone is said to be listed as the managing member of Drake Ventures, while all other members are also members of the Stone family."

"They purchased the residence shortly after Roger Stone's indictment and placed it in the name of the Bertran Trust just prior to defaulting on their installment agreement with the IRS," the suit claims. "The Stones have long owed back taxes, and they have been parties to numerous installment agreements, some of which were terminated by the IRS. They were aware that their default would result in IRS collection activity."

"In addition to repayment of the unpaid taxes and fees, the DOJ is seeking that the house the Stones transferred to the trust be declared their own property rather than that of the trust, allowing it to be included in tax liens that could collect the unpaid balances."

Perhaps it's understandable that Stone would fail to mention any of that. It's a bit awkward to be trying to blame federal prosecutors and media leftists for all those IRS tax delinquencies -- and related shenanigans -- from a previous decade.

Besides, Stone apparently views another cause as riper for fund-raising purposes: The January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. While ignoring his enormous IRS problem, Stone's urgent plea for help spins his need for lawyers to fend off still another political persecution:

"Because, by the grace of God, I escaped the devilish deadly snare set for me by Congressman Adam Schiff and Robert Mueller's dirty cops, the hysterical demand for my blood on Twitter has reached epic proportions. There are literally thousands of butthurt leftists screaming for my blood- despite the total lack of evidence that I knew about or was involved in this appalling act of lawlessness.

"That's why I need your help. Please contribute to the STONE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND to help prepare to fend off this malicious assault on me once again.

"We lost our home, our savings, my car and most of our insurance in my epic fight for freedom list year. Being banned for life on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram has made it virtually impossible to sell my books online- my main source of income in the two years in which I awaited trial. I simply do not have the personal resources to fight yet another legal battle where I have done nothing whatsoever wrong."

How could anyone read that without tearing up? How is this poor man -- homeless, car-less, drained of all his resources -- supposed to carry on epic fights for freedom?

One way, apparently, was to jet off from Florida to Washington DC, stay at a posh hotel -- presumably serving the "impoverished" -- and hang out innocently with members of the Oath Keepers militia group. Mind you, without knowing who they are, except for the fact they had "graciously" offered to provide free security services for a few days.

Stone was famously videotaped on January 6 in front of that hotel talking with these perfect strangers.

ABC News had this report in February:

"In the video, which was obtained and reviewed by ABC News, Stone takes pictures and mingles with supporters outside a D.C. hotel as Oath Keepers hover around him, one wearing a baseball hat and military-style vest branded with the militia group's logo.

"So, hopefully we have this today, right?" one supporter asks Stone in the video, which was posted just after 10 a.m. on the morning of the rally. "We shall see," Stone replies.

"It is not known to what they were referring.

"Stone has maintained that he played "no role whatsoever in the Jan. 6 events" and has repeatedly said that he "never left the site of my hotel until leaving for Dulles Airport" that afternoon. He has also decried attempts to ascribe to him the motives of the people around him."

Since the ABC report, the FBI has charged one of the men in the video, Roberto Minuta of Texas, in connection with the riot.

Prosecutors told a federal judge "Minuta came to the Capitol dressed in gear identifying him as a member of the right-wing Oath Keepers group — citing a video in which he appears with Stone that morning," the Washington Post reported. And there was this:

"The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating whether Stone and other high-profile right-wing figures played a role in the insurrection by promoting false claims that the election was stolen from former president Donald Trump. Stone, a longtime Trump friend and adviser, was involved in some events on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 but says they were peaceful protests.

"While investigators are interested in how the rioters became radicalized, they caution that criminal charges against Stone and others who spread misinformation are a distant prospect given case law on incitement and free speech."

At least two other Oath Keepers arrested in connection with the riot were pictured with Stone in December, the Post reported in a separate story.

Stone can't be troubled with any of that stuff. He's on a higher mission.

"Because of my unique perspective, I have an obligation to let the world know what happened to me and hold those responsible for abusing the system professionally accountable for their actions. But this does not come cheap and your donations are more vital than ever.

"As if fighting the government was not enough, throughout this whole ordeal, the DNC, former DNC employees, Larry Klayman, and Jerry Corsi have filed numerous and meritless lawsuits against me all over the country. With your donations and the help of expensive and skillful counsel, I have been able to beat back some of them, while some of them continue to be litigated. Your donations are also still needed to defend me from these attempts to bankrupt my family.

"Defending myself in court against the Mueller railroading and the other attacks on me cost almost $3M. Today the coffers are virtually bare. Once again I urgently need your help. Please consider making a contribution to my legal defense fund today."

Stone's tone certainly has changed since 2019. Perhaps you might recall the witness tampering thing, as it made for some reasonably colorful news coverage thanks to a more swaggering Stone.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Stone had threatened radio host Randy Credico, saying he would steal his little service dog if Credico didn't "do a Frank Pentangeli" (refuse, just like a mobster in "The Godfather," to testify before Congress).

"Stone wrote in an email to Credico, "You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds."

Now that 2019 quote didn't sound at all like today's whiny victim begging his supporters for charity. But that's not the important point, no more than Stone's need for cash is related to past IRS delinquencies. This is about the man's terrifying legal bills.

You see, as Stone is quick to point out, lawyers who rip people to shreds aren't cheap. These are practitioners with rare skill sets. They need to be cold and tough and willing to hurt people. They also need to be calculating enough to change their tune when the moment suits.

Just like Roger Stone.

'I'm sure these officers are scared': Infowars 'editor' arrested for role in the Capitol riot

Samuel Christopher Montoya of Texas was arrested today by the FBI on charges of unlawful entry and disorderly and disruptive conduct in connection with the January 6 Capitol riot.

The FBI complaint identifies Montoya as a narrator and video editor at Infowars.com and quotes a witness as saying he worked there. Here's what the complaint states was found at Infowars.com:

"PatriotsStormCongressRawFootageIncludesExecutionofAshliBabbitt. The approximately 44-minute video is embedded with the tag "THERESISTANCE.VIDEO" and the narrator identifies himself as "Sam with Infowars.com." The video captures "Sam" going from the Capitol grounds into the Capitol Building along with crowds of protesters on January 6, 2021, at one point turning the camera on himself and exclaiming, "It feels good to be in the Capitol baby!"

Here are some of the other comments attributed to Montoya in the FBI arrest complaint:

"During the video, Montoya makes the following statements:
9:55 – "We're gonna crawl, we're gonna climb. We're gonna do whatever it takes, we're gonna do whatever it takes to MAGA. Here we go, y'all. Here we go, y'all. Look at this, look at this. I don't even know what's going on right now. I don't wanna get shot, I'll be honest, but I don't wanna lose my country. And that's more important to me than—than getting shot."
11:04 – "We have had enough! We're not gonna take your fucking vaccines! We're not gonna take all your bullshit! The people are rising up! Folks, I am now on the steps of the Capitol. Here we go! Here we go! Having a good time!"
12:55 – "We are in the Capitol, baby! Yeah!"
5:40 – "We're all being a little bit too rowdy for sure."16:07 – "Here we are in the US Capitol in Washington DC in the Capitol building, it has officially been stormed by Trump supporters. Again, the US Capitol building in Washington DC has officially been stormed by Trump supporters. And here we are, taking our—the people's house back!"17:38 – "I'm sure these officers are scared, but we're here, we're here to just show that we've had enough. We've had enough."34:05 – "We don't hurt innocent people; we don't tear down statues! We don't tear down statues! We take our house back! We take the people's house back!"

The report also states: "At times during the video, Montoya describes himself to others inside the Capitol Building as a "reporter" or "journalist" as he attempts to get through crowds. The director of the Congressional press galleries within the Senate Press office did a name check on Samuel Christopher Montoya and confirmed that no one by that name has Congressional press credentials as an individual or via any other organizations.

The FBI stated it had received a tip January 11 to its National Threat Operations Center "from W-1, a family member of Samuel Christopher Montoya." W-1 reported that W-1 had proof that Montoya was physically inside the U.S. Capitol near the shooting of a woman on January 6, 2021. FBI agents interviewed W-1 on January 17, 2021, to follow up on the tip received. W-1 stated that Montoya worked for Infowars and that Montoya showed a video of himself walking through the Capitol and captured footage of the death of Ashli Babbitt. W-1 reported that Montoya showed the video to family members who all recognized Montoya as being the one in the video and having taken the video.

And there was this: "Your affiant has also reviewed several interviews with Montoya on the Infowars show "War Room with Owen Shroyer" regarding the events at the U.S. Capitol. On January 8, 2021, Shroyer interviewed Montoya in a video titled "EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT OF ASHLI BABBITT'S EXECUTION"2 Montoya - who is credited as "Sam," and a "Video Editor" at "Infowarsstore.com" – describes to Shroyer hearing the gunshot and his recollections of the scene of the shooting. His "exclusive" footage that is played features his same voice narrating as in the 44-minute video, and appears to depict activity by the Speaker's Lobby sometime after the conclusion of his 44-minute video.

Here's the FBI complaint.

The RNC has sent out a mailer that is going to infuriate Trump

Donald Trump probably is not happy about this.

The Republican National Committee last week mailed supporters a fundraising letter and survey of GOP 2024 presidential hopefuls over the signature of RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. The letter was remarkable, not for what it said, but what it didn't say.

The party of Donald Trump didn't mention Donald Trump, other than to list his name without fanfare on an alphabetical list of 15 potential presidential nominees. Instead, McDaniel offered the following unconvincing disclaimer:

"I must emphasize the RNC is strictly neutral through the entire presidential primary process," McDaniel's letter stated. "But once the presidential primaries are complete in 2024, the RNC is the ONLY Party committed by federal law that can provide substantial direct financial support to our presidential nominee."

From Trump's perch as arguably the most narcissistic human ever, the two-page letter's five mentions of the White House and zero of him likely didn't sit well. In particular, this paragraph took neutrality to a level not seen at the RNC for many years:

"President Biden and the Radical Democrats are feverishly working to reverse the gains our country made the last four years under Republican leadership in the White House and are determined to ram their Far Left agenda down the American people's throats."

Really? "Under Republican leadership in the White House?" Can't think of the fellow's name, apparently. What's worse, it's part of a sentence that looks to be lifted right off of a MAGA propaganda piece.

McDaniel's letter explained that I (strangely enough) have been invited to be "one of a handful of Republicans in your state" to help ensure the party picks the "absolute strongest candidate for the Presidency our party can find." It repeatedly mentioned Biden and sounded alarms in terms strangely reminiscent of that guy who preceded him:

"Their Far-Left special interest allies are already planning to raise billions of dollars to keep Biden in the White House for another four years so he can finish the "fundamental transformation" of America into a Big Government Socialist state."

The letter was accompanied by an enclosure listing 15 "Republican leaders as potential nominees for president of the United States." We special recipients of the letter weren't asked to rank them, merely to check one of five boxes rating our views of them from "strongly favorable" to "strongly unfavorable."

As the letter explained, "The poll does not ask you to choose between possible candidates. Its purpose is simply to help our Party and possible candidates establish a baseline gauge, at this moment in time, of the interest, viability and support within our Party, of the current provisional slate of "most likely" presidential nominees.

Despite the pledge of strict neutrality, the RNC had to pick someone and -- given that there are far more than 15 such leaders -- it had to some people as well. Both lists, as well as Trump's not-at-all-special treatment, were rather telling.

Here's the list of candidates, with their accompanying descriptions:

  • Tom Cotton (Arkansas Senator)
  • Chris Christie (Former New Jersey Governor)
  • Ted Cruz (Texas Senator)
  • Ron DeSantis (Florida Governor)
  • Nikki Haley (Former South Carolina Governor)
  • Josh Hawley (Missouri Senator)
  • Larry Hogan (Maryland Governor)
  • Rand Paul (Kentucky Senator)
  • Mike Pence (Former Vice President)
  • Mike Pompeo (Former Secretary of State)
  • Marco Rubio (Florida Senator)
  • Rick Scott (Florida Senator)
  • Tim Scott (South Carolina Senator)
  • Donald J. Trump (Former President)
  • Donald Trump Jr. (Businessman)

Just the way the candidates are listed and identified is a hoot. Not that Trump wouldn't appreciate the need to refer to him parenthetically as "Former president." At least he wasn't just called "Businessman" like his son.

But it's worth noting some of the big names who didn't make the cut. There was Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, former adviser and what not. There was Governors Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Greg Abbott, of Texas, on almost everyone's short list. They must be wondering how the RNC dredged up Christie for a spin rather than them. So might Senators Mike Lee and Joni Ernst and Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

On the celebrity non-politician front -- where Don Jr is lined up, so to speak -- a couple of glaring omissions were two media figures whose names have been widely bandied about: Tucker Carlson and Candace Coleman.

These non-inclusions probably weren't as telling, however, as those of Senators Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse, Governor Mike DeWine, former Governor John Kasich and former Senator Bob Corker. All of them have run, or are flirting with running, for the GOP presidential nomination. All have received the title "Never Trumper."

Or, as the RNC, apparently would say now, "Never that former president."

Wingnut Matt Walsh says the quiet part out loud

The right to vote isn't a right at all, but rather a privilege that should be reserved only for those "equipped to take part in the process," writes Matt Walsh, a 27-year-old, far-right talk-show host and blogger, at the Daily Wire this week.

Walsh normally would not merit a flicker of attention from normal humans. But in this case, he has provided a valuable service to the non-wingnut world by saying openly what fellow voter suppressors are only thinking. Or perhaps whispering amongst themselves.

"No It Isn't Easier To Buy A Gun Than Vote. But It Should Be," proclaimed the headline above Walsh's Daily Wire blog. Obviously, he relished killing two birds with one stone. Walsh bathed in conservative shock-and-awe. After complaining that guns were more costly to obtain and more restricted than voting rights, he wrote:

"Gun ownership is, after all, a more important and more essential right than voting. Voting is not really a human right at all, but a privilege that ought to be reserved for those who are the most qualified to do it. The ability to defend yourself and your family is fundamental. We all have the God-given right to ensure our own safety and that of our loved ones."

Having drawn the obligatory -- albeit sacrilegious -- connection between God and guns, Walsh delivered the kill shot:

"But determining the political course of the nation is something different. It is not fundamental and should not be opened up to any warm bodied (or even cold bodied, in some cases) person. In an ideal scenario, there would be tests and requirements for voting which rule out the voters who are not equipped to take part in the process and have no business involving themselves in it. That's the way it should be. That's not the way it is."

This was not the first time Walsh has ventured down this verbal dark alley. In June 2019, he tweeted "Every voter should be a taxpayer who can pass an 8th grade civics exam," apparently unconcerned about the tens of millions of Trump votes this would disenfranchise (along with several Trumps).

In a companion tweet, he added, "I absolutely believe certain people should not be allowed to vote. Specifically, ignorant and non-contributing people. There is no benefit whatsoever to their participation. They only cause damage."

This time, the tweet about guns and voting drew an approving response from the infamous Ann Coulter, who emerged from her crypt with this: "You're right. Possible solution: have Registrars in all 50 states mail guns to citizens."

Walsh surely was flattered to his creepy core: To an upstart agitator, Coulter's blessing is bigotry gold.

As with Coulter, gaining attention by provoking rage is Walsh's oxygen. He is best ignored for the most part. But with the Republicans' voter-suppression campaign in full swing, Walsh provided a service this time by exposing its ugly underbelly.

For that, Walsh has earned no angry reaction. Just a thank-you for spelling out the ongoing attack on democracy so succinctly.

Here's Walsh tweet

Michigan judge who gained fame demolishing rapist Larry Nassar just locked up one of Tucker Carlson's heroes

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced a Michigan restaurant owner to jail Friday for flagrantly violating state health laws regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. That came less than 48 after Fox News agitator Tucker Carlson had tried to make the defendant one of his endless tales of national grievance.

Aquilina threw Holland, Mich. restaurateur Marlena Pavlos-Hackney in jail Friday after a raucous hearing. Aquilina ruled that Pavlos Hackney will remain in jail until the state is assured her restaurant -- Marlena's Bistro and Pizzeria -- is closed and she pays a $7,500 fine, the Detroit News reported.

Pavlos-Hackney has become a cause celebre among Michigan Republicans since the state took away her license for refusing to comply with even the most basic COVID-19 mitigation measures. The restaurant stayed open during a state shutdown and refused to follow mask requirements, seating limits or other social-distancing rules, according to various published reports. Also, Pavlos-Hackney was charged with contempt in court for failing to show up when ordered.

Pavlos-Hackney has been openly defiant of authorities, proclaiming "they can arrest me" and appearing on Carlson's show Thursday and others (including Glenn Beck's "The Blaze") to complain that Michigan "was acting like the Communist state (Poland) I escaped from."

But Friday in Aquilina's court, it was the judge who was making the best sound bites in dressing down the defendant:

"We're in the midst of a pandemic," Aquilina said. "You have selfishly not followed the orders. You've not followed them for your own financial gain and apparently for the publicity that comes with it."

"Aquilina threatened supporters in the courtroom with contempt of court when they made noise during the court hearing. The judge gaveled down Pavlos-Hackney when the restaurant owner tried to interrupt the judge. "This isn't Burger King," Aquilina said. "When the sign changes to Burger King, you can have it your way."

"After the hearing, two supporters of Pavlos-Hackney stood outside the courthouse with bullhorns, calling Aquilina a "tyrant judge."

But Friday, Aquilina spoke with the assurance of a celebrity judge. She had drawn widespread recognition in 2018 in presiding over the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal case involving team doctor Larry Nassar. Here's how BBC.com reported it:

"The judge who has sentenced disgraced USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar has given a voice to over 150 women who chose to confront their abuser face-to-face.

"'I just signed your death warrant," Aquilina said as she told him he would serve up to 175 years. She listened patiently as survivors shared their stories of abuse during the multi-day-long sentencing. At times acting as more of a therapist than a judge, the 59-year-old did not hide her empathy for the women.

"'Leave your pain here," she said.

"She said she had received media requests from around the world but insisted the story was not about her."

Aquilina, first elected as a judge in 2004, had previously "become the first female Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the Michigan Army National Guard where she earned the nickname "Barracuda Aquilina," the BBC reported.

She had not lost her bite as of Friday, as the News reported:

"During Friday's hearing, Aquilina also ordered a man attempting to represent Pavlos-Hackney as "assistance of counsel" to be arrested for contempt of court because he allegedly had represented himself as a lawyer when he was not licensed to practice. Richard Martin, who described himself as a constitutional lawyer and is the founder of the Constitutional Law Group, was ordered to serve 93 days in jail.

Not having been allowed the legal services of non-lawyer Martin was among the grievances spouted by Pavlos-Hackney during media interviews.

The News reported that "Pavlos-Hackney is believed to be the first restaurant owner in Michigan to be arrested for non-compliance with COVID-19 orders, according to Attorney General Dana Nessel's office. Others have complied after receiving court orders."

Carlson had criticized Michigan's "out of control" Attorney General Dana Nessel, consistent with messaging of the Michigan GOP, as reported by the News.

"The Michigan Republican Party criticized Nessel's office for arresting the restaurant owner while refusing to investigate COVID-19 nursing home deaths in Michigan. About 35% of all COVID deaths have occurred among nursing home residents and employees.

"Nessel is eager to spend taxpayer-funded resources going after small business owners trying to stave off bankruptcy but refuses to investigate the deaths of thousands of nursing home residents potentially caused by policies implemented by her political-ally Gretchen Whitmer," GOP spokesman Ted Goodman said in a Friday statement.

"It's a massive abuse of power and shows what her priorities are."

Notably, the Republicans' political attack was void of any substantive defense of Pavlos-Hackney's inalienable right to spread infectious disease. Here's what Nessel's office had stated on that front:

"Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development suspended Marlena's food establishment license on January 20, 2021. The restaurant has been operating without a license since then - in violation of the Michigan Food Law. An administrative hearing was held on February 1 to determine if the suspension was proper and on February 11 the Administrative Law Judge issued a decision and an order continuing the summary suspension of Marlena's food license.

"This owner has continued to willfully violate the state's food laws, public health orders and the order of the court - a dangerous act that may have exposed dozens of diners and employees to the virus following the discovery that one of Marlena's customers tested positive for the virus within two days of eating there."

There was a small gathering of supporting protesting on behalf of the jailed restaurateur Saturday. Neither that, nor Tucker Carlson, is likely to hold much sway with Barracuda Aquilina, however.

Political legend Pete McCloskey compares 'psychopath' Trump to Hitler — and traces the GOP's demise to Newt Gingrich

If anyone ought to have perspective about the troubled state of American democracy, it's Pete McCloskey.

Now 93, McCloskey had more than a front-row seat during the turbulent Vietnam era and the fall of President Richard Nixon. As a renegade Republican congressman, McCloskey called for Nixon's impeachment over the Vietnam War in 1971, opposed him in the Republican primary in 1972 and was the first to demand his resignation during Watergate.

So McCloskey knows an outlaw president when he sees one. With the benefit of that experience and the wisdom of his years, does he see the need to view the reign of Donald Trump dispassionately as just a case of history repeating itself? Are people overreacting to the turmoil of recent times?


McCloskey describes the current climate as "much worse" than the Vietnam era. And he sees Trump -- "a narcissistic psychopath incapable of the truth" --as on an entirely different level than his old nemesis from the 70s. Indeed, McCloskey likened Trump's impact on the Republican Party to that of Adolf Hitler. And he continues to worry about the safety of U.S. politicians.

Highly decorated as a Marine combat veteran in the Korean War, only to become the first Republican elected to Congress opposing the one in Vietnam, McCloskey hasn't lost any of the passion that set him apart as a renegade Republican in his heyday. Nor has any of the idealism faded that spurred him to work across the aisle as co-founder of the first Earth Day and as co-author of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

McCloskey says Congress should go full bore in its investigations of Trump, with "every committee and subcommittee" focused on getting to the bottom of what happened to government during his reign. And he continues to bemoan what's happened to his former political party, a decay he traces back to former colleague Newt Gingrich's election as Speaker of the House in 1994.

McCloskey does see President Joe Biden as having "as much chance as anyone" in restoring some of the relative civility that existed during his 15-year Congressional career spanning 1967 to 1982. And he drew inspiration from how democracy prevailed in the wake of the Capitol insurrection.

Through it all, Congressman Paul Norton (Pete) McCloskey Jr. has kept his sense of humor.

Raw Story spoke to McCloskey last week. What follows is a lightly edited version of that interview.

Q. What has happened to American politics?

A: Who knows? It's a mystery to all of us. How can some Republicans get up and say, oh yes, we think the election was rigged when they know that it wasn't?

I mean, the closest you can come to it is Kristallnacht in 1938 when Hitler's stormtroopers dragged the Jews out of their house and broke all the windows and he had convinced the German people that the Jews were responsible for having lost World War One. And the stormtroopers, coupled with his concept of the Aryan race: that Germans were a special race and that Jews were tainting the blood of the chosen people. He gradually convinced the Germans of the untruth, and they accepted that the Jews were responsible, and the Holocaust was justified.

Q. That's quite a comparison.

A. That's the only way I can explain what Trump has done in this last four years. for Republicans to all stand up and say something that they don't believe yet saying that they believe it. I don't know that anyone could explain that except as a sort of a mass herd of sheep mentality or buffaloes thundering across the plains. The madness on the faces of those who raided the Capitol reflects almost an insanity, a cult a faith, a religion that goes all the way back to the Bible that to wipe out all the enemies and kill their sheep and sow their grounds with salt. These people believe they're right. And it isn't a matter of rationally discussing it with them. It's a matter of challenging their faith when you say it's not true, that the elections weren't rigged. I don't know how to explain that though. If anything, my inability to explain should come through.

Q. That's a long way from where you were as an idealistic young 40-year-old running for his first office in 1967. How did you get into all this?

A. Our congressman suddenly announced that he had leukemia and a cousin of mine said that means he's going to die within a week, which he did. The expectation was that Shirley Temple would be our Congresswoman. She was very conservative, and the odds-on favorite to win. Something snapped in me. I thought if you're going to gripe about the system, you ought to be willing to serve in it. I never wanted to be in politics. I'd seen local government corrupted and state government wasn't anything I wanted to have anything to do with. But with the Congress of the United States, I thought was a worthwhile thing.

Q. So your first race for public office was against Shirley Temple? That must have been interesting.

A. There was no way you run against a child movie star. You couldn't criticize her. You couldn't say anything. But luckily, she talked herself out of it. A lot of people over 60 loved her, since they remembered her from the Good Ship Lollipop. But the Good Ship Lollipop girl wanted to nuke Hanoi. She wouldn't debate anybody. She could have been the Congresswoman if she had even the slightest sensitivity to the public, even though she was probably a nice person underneath it all.

Q. So you managed to defeat Shirley Temple without attacking the Good Ship Lollipop?

A. A guy wrote a book called "The Sinking of the Lollipop" about that election. It was a surprise I was elected, especially since I'd come out against the Vietnam War and majority opinion at that time still favored the war. But I had a Marine Corps background so people really couldn't say I was a communist sympathizer. (Arguably, McCloskey's having been awarded the Navy Cross and Silver Star decorations for heroism in combat and two Purple Hearts while leading his Marine platoon in combat in Korea might have had something to do with it.)

Q. You never thought much of Nixon even as a member of his party, did you?

A. I had no real love for Richard Nixon going back to the 1940s when his was my congressman when I was in high school. But it wasn't until the tapes came out recently and have been declassified that the true evil of Nixon became apparent.

Q. But you certainly were one of his leading critics, during the Vietnam War and through Watergate. So how do you compare him to Donald Trump?

A. There really isn't any comparison. Next to Nixon, Trump is the antichrist. I think Trump's thinks of himself as almost a god, the Messiah, that's come to save the country. Certainly his followers treat him like he's the Messiah. Nixon at least preserved the front of being a reasonable person. Trump is a narcissistic psychopath and incapable of the truth. It's not in him. But I'll tell you the President who was more like Trump than Nixon was Lyndon Johnson, who was a skilled diplomat and understood everything about Washington. We honor him for getting through Medicare and civil rights bills and much else. But he also got us into the Vietnam War by lying about what allegedly happened to a destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. He and Secretary McNamara didn't hesitate to lie to the Congress to of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed. Johnson was a terrible man.

Q. Wow. So you won't be suggesting President Joe Biden emulate Johnson. Who would you suggest as more of a role model for him?

A. I would say Gerry Ford. He was a good friend of mine, going back to our time together in Congress. Ford was the last of the great moderate Republicans. He believed in a woman's right of choice and other important issues. He was perhaps the most decent man I've ever known in politics, too decent a man to run for president. Most people who run for president don't have that quiet, decent judgment that Gerry had.

Q. So many people remember him primarily, though, for his having pardoned Nixon.

A. I can remember the euphoria, that overtook the country when Nixon resigned and finally that period was over. The unfortunate thing was that Congress then went in recess for a month. Had we been in session, had we been around to counsel Gerry, I think we could have talked to him out of the pardon. We'd have said, "Look, Mr. President, he'll plead guilty to two or three counts. or one count of something, he'll get straight probation and it'll be behind us." We knew he hadn't made any deal with Nixon, but it came out looking like he had. Ford had a big heart, and he did what he thought was right for the country. It did cost him the election.

Q. So you think Biden might have some similarities to Ford?

A. I think Biden is decent as well. And he knows the legislative process. But it's such an incredible task. For a president to bring us through all of this, he'll need the genius of a Franklin Roosevelt to do it. I think this first six months is so important. By summer they need to get the COVID crisis under control and the economy turning around. But there are so many challenges.

Q. How did things get so bad?

A. It's been happening for a long time. But I think you can trace a lot of the bitterness that now exists between the two parties back to Gingrich getting elected speaker in 1994. He had been in the House when I was there. He was a pop off, and nobody thought of him as anything but a pop off. But he conceived that for the Republicans to gain power, they needed to treat Democrats as weak and unprincipled and as people who were going to sell the country down the road. That the entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security were bankrupting the country and the Democrats were an evil thing to the country. When Gingrich became speaker, he removed chairmen from any of the 21 House committees if they collaborated with the Democrats in any way. He replaced them with hard heads. From that time on, the contempt Gingrich's has felt for Democrats, that concept of regarding them as enemies of the country, has lasted beyond Gingrich's time. We're so far from where we were when I was in Congress, when people were more decent to one another even when they disagreed.

Q. Do you think there's any hope of getting back to that at this point, given how divided people are, and how they're getting such different information from such different sources in the digital age?

A. I don't know. I hope we can somehow get back to what we had with John Kennedy at one time: the idea that public service, and public office was an honorable thing. I hope we can restore that in the 2022 elections. It's so hard, with 40 percent of the people not believing Biden's the duly elected president.

How do you reach out to those people? You put your finger on it with the question: With knowledge coming from so many different sources and there's so many people out there expressing crazy conspiracy theories, who knows what can be done? Is our educational system strong enough to cause people to go back, to think and challenge and discuss different ideas without all the hatred? These are real questions. But if anybody can do it, it's Joe Biden and I just wish him the best.

Q. What did it feel like for you to be an elector for Biden at the tender age of 93?

A. It was a wonderful honor. When my wife wheeled me into the California assembly room in the capitol and I sat behind one of those desks, I thought, my God, I'm going to have the privilege of being an elector for President of the United States. It was a wonderful feeling. But the real feeling-- the real euphoria we haven't had since Nixon resigned -- was the euphoria of watching the members of the House file back into the chamber two hours after it had been ravaged by the Trump people, to count the electoral ballots. Bless the vice president, under all that pressure, for saying, "my job is just to preside over the counting." The only way Biden was going to become president was when those electoral votes were counted, and he got to 270 votes. Trump knew that he had to block that some way, he had to stop the counting of the votes. If they had caught Pence, they would have hung him, if they would have been able to catch any of the Congress people particularly the speaker, they probably would have killed her on the spot. Mob violence is a terrible thing to behold. Every member of Congress was at risk. We should be grateful for their courage to count every vote, including mine.

Q. So you're not one of the people who thinks Trump was just venting and using the occasion to raise money off his supporters. You think he was all in for a coup?

A. Yes, I think, very definitely. He wanted to stop that vote count. I worried right up until the day they were counted that Trump and his people would understand that if they assassinated Joe Biden, Trump would remain president because Trump would have enough to win the electoral college if he had a dead candidate on the other side. I worry now that every Democratic senator who has a Republican governor has a target on his back-- a bulls' eye on his back --because the people around Trump, those people out in the hinterlands who feel their country has been stolen from them, all they have to do is shoot one democratic senator from a state that has a Republican governor and suddenly the power shifts back to the Republicans in the senate. We see these people all around us that are so crazy that killing is a patriotic act on their part.

Q. So what now?

A. After the impeachment trial is over, every committee of Congress, every subcommittee ought to be investigating what happened during the Trump administration. I hope they subpoena everyone who was part of it, I hope they use their contempt power and use the Freedom of Information Act and remove some of the things that have kept the truth from coming out. This is such a challenging period. I wish that I were in Congress for the next two years.

Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are truly in danger of getting booted from the US Senate — here's why

Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz should be afraid. Very afraid. There's a very real possibility that they might soon find themselves on the business end of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Hawley and Cruz -- likely in that order -- are truly in danger of getting booted from the U.S. Senate by their fellow senators.

As historian Michael Beschloss and others have noted, the legal basis is clear, dating back to the post-Civil War amendment ratified during Reconstruction in 1868. Amendment XIV Section 3 states definitively that "no person shall hold any office" if as a member of Congress they "shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

It's never good news to get caught helping out in a civil war when you're holding a job with qualifications that read "hasn't helped out in a civil war."

Well, that's what Hawley and Cruz just did: The organized insurrectionists incited and directed by Donald Trump to attack the Capitol were doing so in the name of a borderless civil war. (The fact that Trump continues to shun any expression of sympathy for fallen Capitol police officers confirms he regards them as enemy casualties).

Not long after these heavily armed insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol for the expressed purpose of preventing Congress' certification of the 2020 election -- keyword, "after" -- Hawley moved to give their seditious cause "aid and comfort" by challenging the election results of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Cruz had done the same before the insurrection with respect to the state of Arizona.

Both were among senators who voted to reject Pennsylvania's electors. If you're looking for clues as to why the whole enterprise might have been not-so-kosher by this point in time, Hawley yielded his five minutes of time, his first shunning of a microphone or camera in 41 years on the planet. Hawley knew who he was helping and why and wasn't about to add to the record.

But while the conduct of Hawley and Cruz affronted the Constitution's language, the remedy is purely political. That, too, lies in the Constitution: Article 1 Section reserves solely to each chamber of Congress the power to "determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member."

So it comes down to this: Would 17 Republicans join 50 Democrats and independents in taking a patriotic stand against the sedition of Hawley and Cruz?

For the blue team, it's not a tough vote, because January 6 will forever remain on a shortlist of tragic days in American history. Doing nothing shouldn't be an option with regard to members of Congress who actively abetted it.

For both parties, however, almost all political questions come down to three criteria: 1) Is this in our political self-interest?' 2) Is this in our political self-interest, and 3) Is this in our political self-interest?

Normally, that would be that -- as it was during Trump's impeachment -- and the prospect of finding 17 Republicans to vote against him would be impossible. That might remain the case here. But the big problem for Hawley and Cruz is that this wasn't just any domestic terrorist event: It was one that jeopardized the lives of all members of Congress and their staffs, across party lines. Many found themselves quaking under desks making farewell calls to loved ones. And lots of stuff got messed up.

Let's not mince words: They are pissed off and are likely to stay pissed off at Trump and anyone who gave him and his terrorist minions an iota of aid and comfort, especially after the attack occurred. This one literally hit home to them.

This brings us back to the politics. What would be the consequence, in terms of angering the Trump base, to punishing Hawley and Cruz for supporting his cause? And even if Hawley and Cruz can wrap themselves in MAGA flags now, will that matter two or four years from now? Further, would a defanged and de-platformed Trump himself matter by then, especially if he's off making license plates somewhere?

Unhelpful to both senators are the low esteem with which they are held by colleagues, even on their own side of the aisle. Cruz has long held the "most hated man in the Senate" without much competition, pretty much by acclamation. Compare him to a snake and the reptile lobby will go nuts on you.

Hawley might not quite be living on Cruz Island, but he's not far from it.

Consider this from the New York Times Friday:

"The day after Josh Hawley became the first Republican senator to say he would indulge President Trump's demand that lawmakers try to overturn the election, a reporter asked if he thought the gambit would make him unpopular with his colleagues."

"'More than I already am?' he retorted."

Such a lovable guy. But getting back to the original question about political self-interest, there's a factor that weighs against Hawley more than Cruz: Removing him would mean replacing him, with near certainty, with another Republican. And it would probably do a favor to Senator Roy Blunt, a highly regarded member of the party's Senate leadership, who has potential primary concerns of his own as he faces reelection in 2022.

Missouri is one of the Trumpiest states in America, having favored him by 15 percentage points this year and 19 percent in the 2016 election. Were Hawley ejected from the Senate, his replacement would be chosen by Republican Governor Mike Parson--one of the most pro-Trump governors in the nation -- and that person who would stand for a special election alongside Blunt in 2022.

Missouri in 2022 would host a rare dual-senator election like Georgia did in 2020, but with a far higher likelihood of success for the Republicans. Blunt would benefit from running alongside a teammate. Parson would benefit because he could break a logjam of statewide Republican officeholders looking for higher office, including his (Parson is term-limited out in 2024). Hawley has been disowned by his erstwhile patron saint, former Senator Jack Danforth, and two of the state's most influential and wealthy GOP political donors.

So the Republican Party writ large would be glad to be rid of Hawley, who is almost certainly damaged goods for the long term. Even if the party decides it needs a Trump acolyte to carry its banner in 2024, there's a long list of people with last names like Trump, Pompeo, and Haley standing ahead of him in that regard.

For Cruz, the politics are a bit foggier. Unlike Hawley, he has been around quite a while and has more of a natural base of his own. But far more important, Texas is growing more purple by the day. The Republican Party runs a real risk of losing a seat if it jettisons Cruz as it would open the possibility of a Democrat winning the seat in 2022. Cruz isn't up until 2024.

Plus, Cruz didn't inadvertently pose for an iconic fist-pump-to-the-seditionists photo like Hawley did on his way to the Capitol. (That one will help every bit as much smiling from a tank helped not-President Michael Dukakis in 1988.) And Cruz isn't continuing to act in as bellicose a fashion as Hawley, who is continuing to spout "I will never apologize!" and claiming ludicrously that Simon and Schuster abridged his First Amendment rights by dumping his book deal.

Still, Cruz did offer aid and comfort to Donald Trump's cause and, by implication, his little army. And given that so much champagne would flow so freely among so many senators across the aisle were Cruz kicked to the curb, it cannot be ruled out that they'd gleefully kick him to the curb over sedition.

Now if you're thinking none of this could possibly be real, look no further back than a quarter of a century, when longtime Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon was facing expulsion. Over a period of a few years, a sordid history had emerged of Packwood having sexually harassed female aides and other women. Plus he had altered diaries to cover it up.

Packwood resigned in disgrace in 1995, but only after the Senate Ethics Committee voted unanimously -- under Chairman Mitch McConnell, of all people -- to have him expelled from the Senate. Kicking out a senator hasn't happened often, but it's not out of the question.

Long before the Me Too movement, Republican senators were ready to boot a senator for sexually harassing people in the Capitol building. So might they do the same for a senator who offered aid and comfort for people who stormed that very building with guns blazing?

We'll all have to wait on the edge of our seats to learn the answer to that one. You can rest assured that Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz are.

Another bizarre pro-Trump election lawsuit bites the dust

Loony Louie Gohmert just had his zany lawsuit against Vice President Mike Pence tossed on the sad heap of Krakens. Gohmert and some other Republicans were trying to get the courts to require Pence to abuse his position as U.S. Senate presiding officer to make his own call about which electors counted on January 6.

Once again, the nonsense of the Republicans' legal clown car was rejected by a Republican judge appointed to his post by Donald Trump. This time it was Judge Jeremy Kernodle hammering one more nail in the judicial coffin.

LawandCrime.com had this report tonight:

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Vice President Mike Pence by Rep. Louie Gohmert and fake pro-Trump electors on Friday, finding that plaintiffs lacked standing.

"The problem for Plaintiffs here is that they lack standing. Plaintiff Louie Gohmert, the United States Representative for Texas's First Congressional District, alleges at most an institutional injury to the House of Representatives. Under well- settled Supreme Court authority, that is insufficient to support standing," U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle wrote, echoing the Department of Justice's argument that plaintiffs sued the wrong defendant.

"The other Plaintiffs, the slate of Republican Presidential Electors for the State of Arizona (the 'Nominee-Electors'), allege an injury that is not fairly traceable to the Defendant, the Vice President of the United States, and is unlikely to be redressed by the requested relief."

Perhaps the most hilarious part of the story came earlier today when Gohmert's crack legal team argued in vain against Trump's own Justice Department:

"They say that the Vice President, the glorified envelope-opener in chief, has no authority to preside over anything else or to decide anything of substance or to even count the votes in those weighty envelopes. He is only the envelope-opener."

Incredibly, those words were in a filed legal pleading in federal court. As opposed, say, being contained in the transcript of two drunks arguing in an alley.

Pence, apparently hoping for future employment opportunities more glorious than envelope opening, had pushed backed strongly against getting drawn into the nonsense. His attorneys argued that the plaintiffs' complaint was with Congress, not him.

As NPR had reported recently, "In some key battleground states, groups of Republicans have baselessly declared themselves to be 'alternate electors,' claiming to represent the true wishes of the voters. Gohmert and the other plaintiffs — including a group of proclaimed electors from Arizona — argue that when confronted with competing slates of electors, the Constitution gives Pence the power to choose which electors to certify.

Kernodle let Pence off the hook for now. But Pence might have less luck ducking from public view January 6, when the world's cameras are trained upon his hapless announcement that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been officially certified President and Vice President by Congress.

Why right wingers attacking voting systems and software may eat their own words in court

There's an old country saying that may soon take on new meaning for some of the right-wing media and celebrities who have been making wild accusations about voting machines and software in the wake of Donald Trump's defeat. It goes like this:

"Hunting ain't no fun when the rabbit got the gun."

As the New York Times reported Sunday night, the digital security system Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems may soon be turning the tables on some of the people who have brashly tormented them since the election. In particular, Antonio Mugica, founder of Smartmatic, has some wingnut TV outlets in his legal sights.

"In an era of brazen political lies, Mr. Mugica has emerged as an unlikely figure with the power to put the genie back in the bottle," the Times reported. "Last week, his lawyer sent scathing letters to the Fox News Channel, Newsmax and OAN demanding that they immediately, forcefully clear his company's name — and that they retain documents for a planned defamation lawsuit. He has, legal experts say, an unusually strong case. And his new lawyer is J. Erik Connolly, who not coincidentally won the largest settlement in the history of American media defamation in 2017, at least $177 million, for a beef producer whose "lean finely textured beef" was described by ABC News as "pink slime."

Well, that can't be so good if you've been slinging lies for fun and profit at a company whose software wasn't even used outside of Los Angeles County in the 2020 election. What's more, Dominion is right there with Smartmatic in hiring high-powered legal talent to get a little justice from the TV networks. Reports the Times:

"Dominion Voting Systems has hired another high-powered libel lawyer, Tom Clare, who has threatened legal action against Ms. Powell and the Trump campaign. Mr. Clare said in an emailed statement that "we are moving forward on the basis that she will not retract those false statements and that it will be necessary for Dominion to take aggressive legal action, both against Ms. Powell and the many others who have enabled and amplified her campaign of defamation by spreading damaging falsehoods about Dominion."

Citing a top legal expert, the Times suggested OAN and Newsmax in particular could have their business destroyed if they got sued.

"The letters written by lawyers for Smartmatic and Dominion are "extremely powerful," said Floyd Abrams, one of the country's most prominent First Amendment lawyers, in an email to Times. "The repeated accusations against both companies are plainly defamatory and surely have done enormous reputational and financial harm to both."

Mr. Abrams noted that "truth is always a defense" and that, failing that, the networks may defend themselves by saying they didn't know the charges were false, while Ms. Powell may say she was simply describing legal filings.

"It is far too early to predict how the cases, if commenced, will end," he said. "But it is not too early to say that they would be highly dangerous to those sued."

Earlier reporting last week at Fortune.com also suggested that Smartmatic is threatening to go after Fox News and its smaller competitors.

"For Smartmatic, the claims about its machines—which appear to have come primarily from the networks' guests rather than the hosts—are not just frustrating examples of disinformation but a major business risk as well," Fortune reported. "According to its CEO, the company has lost contracts in other countries because of the controversy." As a result, Smartmatic issued a statement on Monday warning it will sue Fox News, as well as smaller media outlets NewsMax and OANN, for defamation if they don't retract "dozens" of inaccurate statements.

The Fortune reporting cautioned that proving libel is difficult for a prominent company.

"According to long-time media lawyer Ed Klaris, companies are subject to the same rules of defamation as individuals—including the need to clear the high bar of "actual malice" in the event they are so-called public figures.

Klaris says it's unclear if Smartmatic is so well-known that it would have to meet the actual malice standard. He also predicted that Fox would likely try to pass off the claims about the voting machines as opinion rather than statements of fact. While matters of opinion—including those thrown out in the hurly-burly of a talk show segment—are typically outside the realm of defamation, courts may find at least some of the "dozens" of allegedly false claims do not qualify as opinion.

Smartmatic's potential lawsuits could also serve to bring judicial scrutiny of some of the more outlandish claims—like plots by Venezuela to rig the election—advanced by the likes of (Rudy) Giuliani and (Sidney) Powell. While the pair has repeatedly advanced such claims in the media, they have not included claims of fraud in their numerous court challenges. Legal watchers say this is because, as attorneys, they can be sanctioned for making baseless claims before a judge.

In any event, Rudy and the Kraken slayer lady might not be sleeping too comfortably on their My Pillows for a while.

"The distinction between a media outlet's positions and those of its guests may not always matter in court, however," according to Klaris. He notes that a victim of defamation is entitled to sue both the person who made the statement as well as the outlet on which the statement was aired.

Klaris also noted that, if Smartmatic has indeed lost out on contracts because of false claims about its voting machines, it will be in a strong position to seek damages.

"Absolutely, they're suffering harm. That's what libel law is meant to fix. It's meant to fix reputational harm," said Klaris.

Republican senator suddenly worries about ethics after ignoring them for 4 years

In a shocking news development, Senator John Cornyn of Texas has received a revelation: Transparency and ethics suddenly matter in government, after all.

Cornyn, blissfully unfamiliar with this topic for the past four years, has rediscovered his indignation hot button with the help of a New York Times (erstwhile "fake news") story suggesting that some key aides to President-elect Joe Biden might face ethics issues. Cornyn was just beside himself Saturday on Twitter:

Non-negotiable, eh? Cornyn's tweet trended number one for a while, but not so much for the Republican senator's belated discovery that integrity is a thing. Turns out, hypocrisy is a thing, too.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova was among thousands refreshing Cornyn's memory.

That just scratched the surface of Cornyn's mendacity on this topic. As one of Trump's loyalist lap dogs — until about 5 minutes before the November 3 election when it looked like that his fealty to the corrupt president might drag him down — Cornyn was unbothered by "transparency."

He never said a word about Trump's refusal to release his tax returns (and associated lies) nor about the secrecy and coverups over the blackmailing of Ukraine, nor about the hundreds of times that the administration stonewalled both sides of the aisle in Congress in its full-scale assault on the very notion of oversight. Cornyn never said a peep about Trump's trampling of what the president termed the "so-called Emoluments Clause."

Here's how little the Texas senator was troubled by one of the most egregious transparency failures in American history: Trump's dishonesty about the deadliness of COVID-19. After reporter Bob Woodward released tapes showing Trump intentionally downplayed the pandemic, here's what Cornyn said in a phone call with Texas reporters, as covered by the Texas Tribune:

"'I understand the intention that he didn't want to panic the American people,'" Cornyn said. 'That's not what leaders do. But I think in retrospect, I think he might have been able to handle that in a way that both didn't panic the American people but also gave them accurate information.'

"Cornyn nonetheless lauded the Trump administration for its initial actions on the pandemic, including China travel restrictions that he instituted in January.

"'The truth is … we've learned a lot about this virus that we didn't know when it first showed its ugly head, and I think the administration, through their coronavirus task force, has tried to be as transparent as they can,'" Cornyn told reporters. 'But I guess I can understand on a human level why the president did not want to panic the American people and felt like he should try to calm fears rather than to stoke them."

Now we can all understand on a human level why former Congressman Beto O'Rourke called out Cornyn as Trump's "single biggest enabler." Cornyn also carved out the distinction as one of the most disingenuous of those enablers: When his race was tightening in October, Cornyn flat out lied –and was outed for doing so by Senate opponent M. J. Hegar — over his prior support of Trump's slimy effort to move military funds to rebuild some border wall:

But to fully appreciate the depths of Cornyn's hypocrisy on the subject of ethics, consider this passage from a 2019 story on him in the Texas Observer:

"Cornyn was tasked in 2017 with securing the largest spoil: Trump's massive tax cut package. Behind closed doors, Cornyn masterfully cut deals with senators to ensure that the bill would pass. The result was a transformational redistribution of wealth to corporations and the ultrarich that Republicans promised would be paid for with magical levels of economic growth (it is actually expected to add at least $1 trillion to the federal debt).

"Along the way, Cornyn ensured that his friends in the Texas oil and gas industry who have lavished him with more than $3.5 million in political contributions over his career would get their fair share. Seventeen major oil and gas corporations, most based in Texas, would receive a combined one-time jolt of $25 billion. Republicans promised that money would trickle down to average Americans through pay increases and bonuses, but that hasn't happened. In the months after the tax cuts were enacted, Houston's major energy companies pumped a collective $9 billion into stock buybacks that enrich investors and executives. ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 said the tax cuts had, as the Houston Chronicle reported, "no effect on employee wages, bonuses, or investment plans." Cornyn also slipped in a provision at the last minute that ensured oil and gas pipeline operators—a sector composed of many GOP mega-donors—would maintain their preferential tax advantage. He was rewarded in 2018 with nearly $80,000 in contributions from pipeline companies—more than any other senator."

So there you have Cornyn's idea of "transparency" when it applies to himself. It's also one more reason for Cornyn's next top priority to be rejected as "non-negotiable":

Critics slam Alan Dershowitz after he fights to defend his own questionable reputation

Formerly respected attorney Alan Dershowitz shifted into damage control Saturday on Twitter, perhaps in an attempt to win his way back into the dark heart of Donald Trump, at least for the moment.

Dershowitz had been a bad boy earlier this week when he told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo that "if you're betting money you can't afford to lose, you have to bet that the outcome of the election will not be reversed." That couldn't have pleased the home offices at Mar-A-Lago and Moscow.

Saturday, Dershowitz decided to throw the full weightlessness of his legal genius behind Trump's scandalous pardon of confessed two-time liar, General Michael Flynn. The Flynn pardon is old news, having been announced by Trump three days earlier, but Dershowitz was all over it 72 hours later.

In a truly bizarre tweet, Dershowitz rushed belatedly to Trump's defense and — oh, by the way — took the occasion to plug his phone number and podcast in case you'd like to subscribe and give him likes and tell your friends about it. You can hear all of that and more self-promotional stuff in Dershowitz's online rant. For real.

Here's the tweet:

In Dershowitz's passionate podcast defense of Flynn, he essentially argues that while Flynn clearly lied to the FBI, which he admits is a crime, and while Flynn clearly violated the Logan Act, another crime, that the whole thing shouldn't have mattered because the FBI shouldn't have charged him in the first place. Oh, and by the way, the Logan Act was declared unconstitutional — by Dershowitz — so therefore Congress must have overreached by having the audacity to have passed it.

In Dershowitz's twisted view, all of Flynn's crimes were negated, strangely, by Congress' presumed legislative overreach, combined with FBI overreach for prosecuting a guy for lying about something it had on tape, combined with judicial overreach by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan for not readily forgiving having been lied to on multiple times by a defendant.

With shameless irony, Dershowitz slandered Sullivan for "conducting a political circus" because he apparently didn't appreciate a politicized Justice Department taking the extraordinary step of attacking itself for having prosecuted Flynn in his courtroom. In Dershowitz's screed, he first called Sullivan "generally a good judge." Moments later, he insulted the respected Sullivan by referring repeatedly to him as the "buttinsky judge" in this case.

In Dershowitz's telling, he only heroes here were Flynn, the confessed liar, and Trump the guy who sprung Flynn for lying in service to him. Alrighty then.

"It's a perfect example of where the judiciary did wrong, the legislature did wrong and the prosecution did wrong," Dershowitz whined. "And who is the only person who could check and balance all that wrongdoing? The president of the United States with his pardon power.

"So the president acted not only perfectly properly, but in a positive good way by doing what the judge should have allowed the Justice Department to do, which is drop the case."

Dershowitz said he hoped Trump would issue more pardons and commutations, in particular for some of his clients.

Suffice it to say Dershowitz's ranting was not universally well-received on Twitter.

‘Kraken’ attorney's message for Trump fans: Make checks payable to Sidney Powell

Today we learned why mobster Don Donald Trump wanted the wildest of his wild-eyed attorneys ejected unceremoniously from his so-called legal team: She was trying to cut into his action.

Yes, TV attorney Sidney Powell can grift with the best of them.

Now that Powell has "unleashed the Kraken" with the help of a copy editor who was smoking the Kraken, it's time to resolve one of the burning questions of the QAnon universe: "How can we ever show our appreciation to Sidney Powell?"

It turns out you can send her a check as part of a ruse so shameless that Powell isn't bothering to have your payment made out to the 501 C-4 political "organization" she formed. Just pay the woman directly.

You can goose step your way to www.sidneypowell.com and press the "Donate Now" button to support the "Legal Defense Fund for the American Republic." First thing you'll see is a nice photo of Sidney Powell captioned "KRAKEN RELEASER." Scroll down and you'll see some small links to the lawsuits followed by a much larger "DONATE BELOW" button.

That's where you get chumped, as they say in the world of scams.

Look no further than https://defendingtherepublic.org. Would you like to "support our mission and the welfare of the American Republic?"

Just write out your check to "Sidney Powell, PC." She's not even bothering to have her pigeons use the name of her "organization."

As the UK's DailyMail.com reported, Powell's "Legal Defense Fund" website was apparently set up November 11, a day after she appeared on Lou Dobbs show on Fox. The DailyMail.com had this to say: "Powell, whose outlandish theory earned a rebuke from the President, has founded a legal defense fund under the Internal Revenue Service category 501(c)(4). The IRS says that 501(c)(4) should normally apply to social welfare organizations and community groups like homeowners associations. It can be used for lobbying activities, but the deductions are not tax deductible like those for nonprofits.

"The website for The Legal Defense fund says that "millions of dollars must be raised to defend the Republic as these lawsuits continue to be filed to ensure victory" for Trump, even though he has now essentially admitted defeat to Joe Biden by allowing the transition to go ahead."

The good news is that Powell's lawsuits in Georgia and Michigan presumably will wind up shortly on the trash heap of legal history. Not that the judges of the U.S. "Districct Court Northern Distrcoict" aren't going to give her case the seriousness it deserves.

The Daily Mail summed up the case pretty well in its headline today: "Fired Trump lawyer Sidney Powell claims Iran and China used Venezuelan voting machine software to rig election in favor of Biden and says 96,000 absentee ballots in Georgia were NOT recorded – in typo-ridden lawsuits with flimsy expert evidence."

Powell promised the faithful she'd be "releasing the kraken" which we all then learned is some sort of legendary sea monster. That had to sound perfect to the Trump base, which surely will be happy to make do with the couple of little sea urchins that Powell actually unleashed.

Everyone gets what they want: Trump world can talk for years about how the stealing of the 2020 election from Dear Leader was all laid out in 104 pages of judicial scholarship that the Deep State judges were paid off not to consider. As for Powell, she is guaranteed a life of permanent stardom in the right-wing stratosphere.

Sidney Powell may have released the Kraken. But apparently, she gets to hold onto the cash.

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True confessions of a ‘Trump supporter’ who keeps getting donor-shamed by the president

As one of the patriots receiving the Con-Artist-In-Chief's daily blizzard of fundraising emails, I am able to offer some rare insight into what it's like to let Dear Leader down. It isn't pretty.

Now, you probably are wondering what I'm doing receiving emails from the dark side, and I don't blame you. I don't recall asking to make this dubious list, but here I am, in a fine position to serve as a treasonous spy.

Sadly, I was just given the bad news that my lifetime Trump-giving record of $0 has not gone unnoticed or unforgiven.

"Friend," the email from "Trump Donor Record" begins. "Did you see the President's email? "

We pulled the records of his most LOYAL supporters – the ones who have been there for him no matter what. Unfortunately, your donor record showed up in the BOTTOM 1% of all Trump Supporters."

The use of Trump's signature CAPS LOCK certainly added to the email's air of authenticity. So did the hurtful reference to my being in the bottom 1 percent, which I believe to be the polar opposite of the percent that he cares about.

Next, the email laid out my own sad personal box score, listing my email address and the fact that I've been a donor since "not available." Add that to my 2020 Campaign Cycle Gifts of $0 and my "Lifetime Total" of $0 and you can see why the big boss' people might not be pleased.

"President Trump REALLY needs you right now. Why haven't you stepped up?" I was scolded by the email. " The truth is, we are pacing BEHIND our Election Defense Fund Goal. If we don't so something quick, we risk LOSING America to BIG GOVERNMENT SOCIALISTS."

"If every supporter took action and contributed TODAY, we'd be back on track and would have what it takes to SAVE AMERICA from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

"Please make your FIRST EVER contribution of $10 or more by 11:59 PM TONIGHT to the Official Election Defense Fund and to help President Trump Save America."

OK, there's a lot to unpack there. As a member of the Fake News media, I've grown accustomed to snarky comments from Trumpees, but this was the first time I was called out as a disloyal friend. No one wants that.

The whole "losing America to big government socialists" thing would of course be news to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. But it was noteworthy that there's no more nuance in the fund-raising screed than there is on the Twitter feed.

Still, my favorite part of the entire email was the phrase "if we don't do something quick." That's actually probably true. Trump has no intention to concede–ever–to the guy who crushed him in a 74-electoral vote landslide (not to mention more than 6 million actual votes). But it appears he is in conceding that the deadline of December 14 to choose electors is real.

Yes, if Trump doesn't do "something quick" to steal the election, we will live unsaved under the rule of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I get that. What I didn't quite get from the email was what my first-ever contribution to the erstwhile proprietor of Trump University had to do with keeping him in power.

What's the "Election Defense Fund" defending again? What did they need this new money for? To pay Rudy? To fix up Mar-A-Largo? Maybe for a good divorce attorney?

I don't know. But as a member-in-bottom-1-percent standing of the Trump base, I've got more pressing things to be concerned about. Do you want a little insight into what keeps us wayward Trump supporters up at night? It's an email that ends like this:

"We're sending President Trump a list of ALL Patriots who step up NOW. Will he see your name?"

Trump is ending his campaign on an ugly new low — and barely anyone noticed

Donald Trump, tragically occupying the office of president of the United States, possibly has uttered the ugliest words of an ugly career defacing the national stage. And they barely led the news anywhere.

Trump has been claiming at his super-spreader rallies for the past week that American doctors are profiting from the death of COVID-19 patients. Take a step back and absorb this atrocity. This man just invented a mendacious lie from scratch, not even remotely rational and in the process denigrated the frontline heroes who have been risking their lives and those of their families in a 9-month struggle against the worst pandemic in a century.

It didn't even dominate a news cycle. The nation has been so numbed by this Hitlerian character that this singular slander cannot be distinguished from all his other regurgitations.

But it was far worse.

It was as ludicrous as suggesting people ingest Clorox to treat COVID-19.

It was as invented as the 3 million people who voted illegally in California in 2016.

It was as vulgar as talking about grabbing women by the genitals.

It was as unpatriotic as groveling at Putin's feet at Helsinki.

It was as insulting as calling Mexicans rapists and murderers.

It was as vicious as telling four U. S. congresswomen to return to their home countries.

It was as monstrous as seeing fine people on both sides at Charlottesville.

It was all those grotesque abominations rolled into one. But the nation is so exhausted and bitter and divided and crazed that it barely noticed that the most powerful man in the world created such an evil falsehood, apparently to find still another scapegoat for his complicity in one of the worst avoidable tragedies in human history.

Trump falsely ascribed some profit motive to wonderful men and women–across the spectrum of race and ethnicity– people who have wept at the bedsides of 225,000 Americans as they died despite every ounce of energy, knowledge and skill that they could muster to save them. And this swine–whose undeserving hindquarters were saved by the very medical profession he besmirches–he is going to convince millions of his incognizant followers that the doctors are to blame for the pandemic because they were cashing in on it?

This is like wishing cancer on the children of someone you despise. This is as low as human speech can descend.

And yet we barely noticed.

‘Uncharacteristically glum’ Trump speech surprises historian Beschloss: The president ‘does not look happy’

Donald Trump put on an uncommonly sad face at his rally today in Pennsylvania, and it's triggering his minions' fear that the monarchy is in jeopardy.

Their fears may not be irrational, based on early accounts of the rally's dour tone from reputable sources. Trump was speaking from Newton, PA, the first of four rallies planned for Trump in the critical state of Pennsylvania today.

Historian Michael Beschloss, as credible and circumspect as it comes, offered multiple tweets describing Trump's "dejected speech."

"President does not look happy at this rally," said one of Beschloss' tweets. "President's speech at this Pennsylvania rally sounds uncharacteristically glum and past tense," said a second. "President sounding very sad at this Pennsylvania rally," said a second. "When has Trump in public sounded as sad as this? asked a third.

The Philadelphia Inquirer concurred, "Trump was notably subdued for his typical rallying style, but hit on common themes he brings up in the state, including a baseless claim that Philadelphia will be a hot spot for voter fraud," the Inquirer reported. "We have to be very very careful in this state," Trump said. "What happens in Philadelphia, we have to be very careful. Everyone has to watch."

He again encouraged his supporters to go to Philadelphia and scrutinize polling places there, the Inquirer reported. "Only official campaign poll watchers certified by the city can do that. He suggested that Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, would be tampering with mail ballots. County elections officials process ballots, not the Wolf administration. And he signaled that if results aren't known the night of the election, they can't be trusted."

The paper also reported that Trump darkly "drew an ominous parallel to the 2020 election, the stakes of which both parties have framed in apocalyptic terms. "It was a tough night," Trump said in Newtown. "It was a violent night. … It turned the entire tide of the war."

Trump was speaking, blasphemously, outside the house George Washington used to stage his crossing of the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War.

In its reporting of the rally in a muddy field, where an unusually small crowd packed together largely without masks, the Wall Street Journal didn't note the somber mood, but reported this less-than-uplifting focus of the president:

"Mr. Trump again criticized the Supreme Court for declining to disturb ballot deadlines in Pennsylvania and North Carolina," the Journal reported.

"That is a terrible, political horrible decision that they made," Mr. Trump said. "We're going to be waiting. November 3 is going to come and go and we're not going to know and you're going to have bedlam in our country."

The president suggested that the public could be waiting for weeks and said "many bad things" can happen with ballots, the paper reported.

Trump did predict victory in Pennsylvania. "Three days from now, this is the state that will save the American dream," Trump said, according to a local television station.

That public concession of relying upon Pennsylvania to save the election did not sound like that confident of much a victory.

Some friendly commenters at Breitbart's website even picked up on the theme in real-time. They, too were whiny:

"He looks exhausted. The man keeps a schedule like no one else, especially his age, can keep. Look at Biden, so sure the fix is in that he's hardly said boo and refuses to answer questions. We need him to win."

"OMG is he tired! He's got an incredible schedule, but, he keeps on plowing through it."

Trump's dour mood Saturday was not well-received by some fans on Twitter.

Trump fans were not the only ones who picked up on his dejected demeanor:

Trump’s Omaha rally disaster may have tanked his chances for a single electoral vote in Nebraska

Donald Trump may have helped seal a key electoral vote from Nebraska last night: For Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

In a disastrous turn of events that's a metaphor for the Trump Administration, Trump's rally at Omaha's Eppley Airfield in freezing temperatures resulted in multiple people hospitalized and thousands stranded on highways. Many among those waiting in the cold were elderly.

"Following President Donald Trump's rally Tuesday night at Eppley Airfield, many attendees struggled to leave the area and multiple people were taken to the hospital," KETV-7, Omaha's ABC-TV affiliate, reported. "More details are expected to be released later Wednesday."

As one of Trump's super-spreader events, the rally had been widely panned by Democrats as others a health risk to Omaha residents, where COVID-19 numbers have spiked to recent levels in recent weeks. Apparently, frostbite needs to get added to the risk factors.

Wind-chill levels fell to the 20s, the station reported. That apparently didn't dampen supporters' enthusiasm for Trump, nor Trump's enthusiasm for misstating simple facts.

"The president was greeted by a large crowd which was chanting 'four more years," KETV reported. 'Is there any place you would rather be than a Trump rally on about a 10-degree evening?" the president asked on the 31-degree night.

The one-hour rally ended at 9:00, but it took until well after midnight to clear the area.

"Thousands who had gathered to hear him speak were stuck in traffic, many left without a way to get back to their vehicles on the other side of the airport." It was reported.

Attendees told KETV NewsWatch 7 that there weren't enough buses for all of the people. A reporter tweeted that he heard an Omaha officer say, "We need at least 30 more buses."

The Washington Post was there, as well.

"As long lines of MAGA-clad attendees queued up for buses to take them to distant parking lots, it quickly became clear something was wrong" the Post reported.

"Thousands who had gathered to hear him speak were stuck in traffic, many left without a way to get back to their vehicles on the other side of the airport." It was reported.

Attendees told KETV NewsWatch 7 that there weren't enough buses for all of the people. A reporter tweeted that he heard an Omaha officer say, "We need at least 30 more buses."

The Washington Post was there, as well.

"As long lines of MAGA-clad attendees queued up for buses to take them to distant parking lots, it quickly became clear something was wrong" the Post reported.

"Leaving thousands of Nebraskans stranded in the cold captures the entire Trump administration,' she told the newspaper. "I hope those responsible for the poor planning to feed Trump's ego will be held accountable and that fellow Nebraskans turn out to vote to end this chaos."

And there was this: "Supporters of the President were brought in, but buses weren't able to get back to transport people out. It's freezing and snowy in Omaha tonight," tweeted Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt (D). "He truly does not care about you."

For their part, Trump supporters, who had been willing to expose themselves to COVID-19 for an hour of presidential assurance that "we've turned the corner" on the pandemic, were at least openly fine with the chaotic scene.

Kris Beckenbach of Lincoln, who volunteered to help at the rally, said she didn't blame organizers.

"How do you practice for that?" she told the World Herald, noting the thousands of people who attended. (The crowd was estimated at more than 6,000). The newspaper quoted the Trump supporter as saying she would do it all again:

"I would go up early and stand there all those hours. It was an adventure," she said. "It was absolutely an adventure."

Trump went to Omaha because Nebraska is just one of two states (Maine being the other) that portions its vote by congressional district. Polls have shown Biden leading in the 2nd district anchored by Omaha and suburbs.

Were Biden to hold Hilary Clinton's 232 votes and flip Wisconsin (where new Washington Post polling shows him up a whopping 17 points today) and Michigan (where he's consistently maintained 7-to-10 point leads), he would need only 12 electoral votes to win the presidency by heating the 270 mark.

The one scenario that would bring Nebraska's one electoral vote into play is Trump winning Pennsylvania and holding Ohio and the battleground southern states of North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

In that event, Arizona's 11 electoral votes–for which Biden is still leading–would only put the former vice president over the top only if he also holds his lead for the single vote of Nebraska's 2nd congressional district.

Trump probably didn't lose any of his base voters by literally freezing them. But with local news coverage and chatter among neighbors dominated by tales of the rally fiasco, if there are many fence-leaners in Omaha, they probably weren't too impressed.

The president may have just left himself out in the cold again.

Did Donald Trump just blow his chance of winning Florida in November?

Usually when politicians float a bunch of names for a key plum pick--say a selection for Vice President--the smart thing is to give as many people as possible their 15 minutes of fame on the national stage.

Both parties do it all the time. Even if you're not selecting someone to a prestigious job they're seeking, the consolation prize is that they're given the gravitas and flattery that comes with having appeared to be a finalist.

But when Donald Trump floated a long list of potential Supreme Court nominees for the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg--and then brought it down to about five finalists--he may have made a terrible political mistake in raising the expectations of the Cuban-American community by tantalizing it by having dangled the name of Judge Barbara Lagoa.

Now that it appears Lagoa won't be his selection--it's widely reported that he's going with the most reliably anti-choice and otherwise extremist Judge Amy Coney Barrett, he may have screwed the pooch in Florida.

Deflated Lagoa backers probably will keep their heads down rather than criticize the choice of Barrett. They won't want to give Democrats fodder, and certainly wouldn't welcome a negative touchdown of Trump's Twitter tornado.

But here are some of the Tweets showing that Trump had raised expectations for Lagoa:






Whether this hurts Trump in Florida (and Arizona) remains to be seen.

But it ain't helping.

Republicans should be careful what they wish for

When it comes to the issue of abortion rights, America’s 50 states hold widely differing views and don’t break down along red-blue lines as predictably as one might expect.

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