The Right Wing

'Textbook definition of projection': Jim Jordan slammed for ridiculously comparing the 'evil left' to Nazis

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is facing sharp criticism for his recent comparison of the "evil left" to Nazis.

During an appearance on Newsmax, the Republican lawmaker suggested that the left is a threat to the United States, claiming it supports evil practices that are synonymous with acts that took place during times of slavery, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, reports HuffPost.

“Every third generation in this country has had to do something big,” Jordan said.

“You think about the Founders and what they did when they declared why we’re going to be an independent country, what they had to overcome, the greatest military in the world. They did it,” he continued. “Three generations later, Lincoln and the Americans then held the country together, got rid of the evil of slavery. Three generations later, America defeated imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, the evils that those two ... countries represented and the greatest generation won that war.”

READ: A writer who predicted Trump's first coup attempt warns of an obscure legal doctrine he may exploit next time

He added, “We have to step forward and do our part like previous generations of Americans have done. I think we’re up to the task.”

Jordan's remarks quickly prompted backlash on Twitter, with one person describing his words as a “textbook definition of projection.”

"Jim Jordan said Liberals must be destroyed because they’re successors of 'Nazis,'" one Twitter user said, adding, "Trump read Mein Kampf to study Hitler’s strategy. His base is made up of proud boys & skinheads. Ron DeSantis is setting up a Gestapo. And Jim supports them all. Gym Jordan is an American Nazi."

Another user also highlighted the projection in Jordan's words saying, "If you wonder how projection works to expose someone's true nature, meet Jim Jordan. What he says about others is actually true about him: Liberals must be destroyed because they are successors to 'evils' of Nazis and slavery."

READ: The nasty legacy of Bob Dole

Another user wrote, "It's textbook 'projection to achieve deflection'. Their real power is the years of conditioning it takes for so many lost people to readily believe."

Joe Manchin sides with GOP — moves to block Biden’s vaccine mandate for businesses

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., recently joined a GOP effort to overturn President Biden's private sector vaccine mandate, backing a resolution that would effectively shut the requirement down.

"Let me be clear, I do not support any government vaccine mandate on private businesses," Manchin said in a statement last Thursday. "That's why I have cosponsored and will strongly support a bill to overturn the federal government vaccine mandate for private businesses."

"I have long said we should incentivize, not penalize, private employers whose responsibility it is to protect their employees from COVID-19," he added.

Manchin's remarks came just following a temporary bipartisan agreement to avert a government shutdown amid the Senate's ongoing debt ceiling standoff. The stopgap measure will allot a similar level of funding to the federal government as last year's, during the Trump administration, POLITICO reported. During the vote, Republicans introduced an amendment to bar the use of federal funds for the enforcement of Biden's mandate, but the amendment failed.

Still, Republicans have signaled that they won't pare back their longer-term crusade against Biden's mandate, which requires that private businesses with more than 100 employees enforce a vaccine requirement or force employees to undergo routine testing.

Aside from Manchin, the GOP-backed resolution – introduced by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., in mid-November – has support from Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

"I hope that more Democratic Senators and Representatives will follow Senator Manchin's strong lead and stand up against this federal overreach that will wreak havoc on our recovering economy and trample on the rights of millions of Americans," Braun said this week.

Amid legislative pushback, Biden's vaccine mandate is also facing challenges in state courts across the country, Newsweek noted.

This week, a federal judge in Louisiana formally blocked Biden's requirement by issuing a nationwide injunction, arguing that "civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency."

In Missouri, a federal judge last week likewise shot down Biden's mandate – which applies to Medicare and Medicaid employees – for certain healthcare workers across 10 states.

"Congress did not clearly authorize CMS to enact this politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate, which Supreme Court precedent requires," the Missouri judge wrote, calling the requirement "arbitrary and capricious."

The Biden administration is set to appeal state rulings against its mandate.

Hillary Clinton was right about the 'deplorables' — and the end of Roe v. Wade

During her 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton warned us that Donald Trump and his "basket of deplorables" were a threat to American democracy. She wasn't a prophet. She was simply offering a reasonable analysis based on the available evidence — and she paid an enormous political price for daring to tell that truth in public.

Two things can be true at the same time. Russian interference may well have played a role in Donald Trump's unlikely electoral victory in 2016. But it is also true that Clinton's truthful but politically unwise comment about the "deplorables" helped to swing the momentum — with the help of an eager and compliant mainstream news media — in Trump's direction.

Clinton's description was in fact about much more than the disreputable people who flocked to Trump's banner. It was also a warning about the regressive politics and antisocial values that Trump's followers represented (and still do), including cruelty, racism and white supremacy, sexism and misogyny, collective narcissism, anti-intellectualism, an infatuation with violence, proud ignorance and support for fascism and authoritarianism.

Whatever you think of her as a person and a public figure, Clinton clearly perceived that Trumpism would be a disaster for American democracy and the world, pushing the United States towards the brink of full-on fascism including an attempted coup. Clinton's campaign strategy against Trump had numerous evident flaws, but her diagnosis of Trump and his movement' was overwhelmingly correct.

One thing Hillary Clinton clearly perceived, even if she didn't put it this way, was that Trump's authoritarian politics would involve a campaign to limit human freedom, in accordance with the needs and goals of the Trump movement. Specifically, limiting and controlling the bodily autonomy of those groups and individuals deemed to be Other, the enemy or otherwise subordinate to the dominant group.

Such an exercise of power is central and foundational to American fascism in its various forms, as the history of slavery and Jim Crow ought to make clear. In America now, the fascist movement longs for the subordination, control, and domination of women's and girls' bodies to the sexual, emotional, financial, physical and psychological needs of men — especially, of course, white conservative "Christian" men. Restricting women's reproductive rights and freedoms, especially by attempting to force women to conceive and bear children, are recurring features of fascist-authoritarian political projects and societies.

Hillary Clinton warned us about this as well, as Colbert King noted several months ago in the Washington Post:

I'm also sick at heart because five years ago, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton put the country on notice that this day could come.

While celebrating the Supreme Court's June 27, 2016, decision rejecting two restrictive provisions in a Texas House bill regulating abortion, Clinton warned in a campaign release that the fight for the right to access health care, and for women to make their own decisions about their bodies and their futures, was "far from over."

She stated, presciently, "The fact that our next president could appoint as many as three or four justices in the next four years" is a striking reminder "that we can't take rulings like today's for granted."

Clinton left no room for speculation. "Just consider Donald Trump, the Republicans' presumptive nominee. The man who could be president has said there should be some form of 'punishment' for women seeking abortions. He pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. And last year, he said he'd shut down the government rather than fund Planned Parenthood."

And Clinton made clear the consequences. "If we send Trump to the White House and a Republican majority to Congress, he could achieve any — or all — of these things. And that's why this election is so important."

"The outcome of November's contests," she declared, "is going to be a deciding factor in whether our elected officials and our courts defend or attack a woman's right to health care for generations to come."

Transforming a democracy into a fascist-authoritarian state is usually a process, not a singular spontaneous event. In the United States in this decade, this has taken the form of one of our two institutional political parties becoming increasingly and openly hostile toward the very idea of multiracial and pluralistic democracy.

More specifically, the Trump-controlled Republican Party and the larger neofascist movement it represents is the symptom of deeper societal problems, rather than their cause. This moment must also be understood as the result of long-term planning by right-wing elites.

Once again, Hillary Clinton was eerily prescient. During an interview in 1998 with NBC's "Today," she famously warned of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that sought to destroy her husband's presidency. Less noticed at the time, she also spoke larger truths about American society and the forces working to undermine its most fundamental rights and freedoms.

In 2016, Clinton revisited that warning during a televised town hall meeting in New Hampshire. Here's how CBS News reported that event:

"At this point it's probably not correct to say it's a conspiracy because it's out in the open," Clinton said. "There is no doubt about who the players are, what they're trying to achieve. ... It's real, and we're going to beat it." ... [R]eferencing GOP financiers like Charles and David Koch, Clinton said the right wing is now "even better funded."

"They've brought in some new multibillionaires," she said. "They want to control our country. They want to rig the economy so they can get richer and richer.

"They salve their consciences by giving money to philanthropy," Clinton continued, "but make no mistake, they want to destroy unions, they want to go after any economic interest they don't believe they can control."

The Supreme Court is now signaling, in bright lights, that it intends to follow through on the decades-long plan by the Republican Party, its Christian fascist elements and other "movement conservatives" to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and otherwise sharply restrict women's reproductive rights and freedoms. Taking away women's bodily autonomy to this extent is another step in the Republican-fascist assault on the human and civil rights of all Americans.

In a new essay, author and talk-show host Thom Hartmann warns that this is "just the first of a series of ideas Republicans have to regulate women's behavior and roll back the clock to the early 1960s when women couldn't get a credit card without their father's or husband's permission, had no legal right to birth control in some states, and faced fully legal discrimination in housing, education and employment." He continues:

In the 1960s, employers could fire women for getting pregnant, women had no legal right to a harassment-free workplace, were charged extra for health insurance, and could be legally raped by their husbands, among other indignities.

And this is just the start. Today the Court is hearing a case out of Maine that could require states to pay for the tuition of all students attending religious schools, using taxpayer money that normally funds public schools. This would include forcing states to pay for religious schools that openly discriminate against LGBTQ+ students and staff, and teach children that being gay is a sin.

Once Republicans are done with birth control they'll be coming for gay marriage and, ultimately, broader civil rights laws themselves including, like in Hungary (their new role model), ending the rights to assembly, free-speech, and due process.

And if you think that's an over-the-top concern, consider: Just a few months ago, Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that provides immunity to drivers who plow their cars into protesters, if those protesters are on a public street. They're already going after our right of public assembly.

Winter is coming: next stop, Gilead.

Last week, Hillary Clinton spoke to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow about America's democracy crisis and the Republican threats to human and civil rights. She was describing the plot of the fictional thriller she co-wrote with Louise Penny, "State of Terror," but also America at present: "[T]here is a plot against the country by people who truly want to turn the clock back. They believe that the progress we've made on all kinds of civil rights and human rights, the cultural changes that have taken place, are so deeply threatening that they want to stage a coup."

America's crisis of democracy is in a wild and dangerous moment, where unpredictable and horrible new realities are being born and where hope is diminishing. The choice between democracy and fascism may have narrowed so far that the real choice at this moment is more about how bad the emerging American fascist regime will be and what possibilities for effective resistance will remain. That may sound hyperbolic, but matters are rapidly becoming that dire.

Defending American democracy in the time that remains requires setting aside factional differences within the Democratic Party — and within the political "left" and "center" more generally — and uniting around the common goal of defeating the Republican-fascist movement. "Hillary derangement syndrome," in the form of the extreme hostility and rage some leftists and progressives still feel toward Clinton, is only a distraction.

Hillary Clinton tried to warn the American people what would happen if Trump and his regime took power — she was proven to be correct. She continues to warn the America and the world about the all-too-real "vast right-wing conspiracy" that continues to push forward, winning victory after victory in its war against human rights, human dignity, social democracy and freedom.

In various ways, Hillary Clinton's unexpected "defeat" by Donald Trump in 2016 offered an important preview of what was to come, with American democracy increasingly under siege. Many people perceived it as a fluke or an anomaly at the time, but it was nothing of the kind. It was a sign. Love her or hate her, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton understood the danger clearly.

Evangelical anti-vaxx 'rebel' reveals father ended up in ER after whole family contracts COVID-19

The evangelical right in our country is not populated by people promoting long-term thinking. While most Christians believe that vaccinations are miraculous ways in which science has been able to help humanity fend off disease and death, evangelicals continue to promote an end-of-times eschatological Judeo-Christian view of the world that has been wrong about the coming apocalypse for about 2,100 years now. Never fear, at some point they’ll get it right. Comedy is just tragedy plus timing and all of that.

Eric Metaxas is one of the Christian right-wingers who has been around peddling pretty abhorrent drivel pretending American Christians have been persecuted in our country for decades. His reading of American history includes the belief that the millions of Native Americans who died as a result of European war and disease were simply the trinkets of Christian deliverance in the New World. Unsurpringly, Metaxas has been an anti-vaxxer in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic—being anti-vaccine is where the money is made these days for libertarians and right-wingers. Guess who got COVID-19? I’ll give you four guesses.

If you said Eric Metaxas, his wife Susan, and both of his parents, ding ding ding! Metaxas spoke on his show after an absence. In the clip below, he explains that he’s been dealing with a lot of COVID-19 in his life.

ERIC METAXAS: I got COVID. Suzanne got COVID. I don't know if she gave it to me, or I gave it to her. But then she went to visit my parents and gave it to them. And my mother got it. And my father got it. And my current daughter—I won’t use her name on the air—let’s just say Hortense, went to nurse my parents.
So this has been the craziest time in the Metaxas family, folks. If you've been wondering where I've been, I have no idea where I've been. I've been in a perspiring haze for days and days and days. Obviously I'm mostly out of it. The fact that I can be functional and talk here for the first time in two weeks. But the fact that my parents were ill was very upsetting to me. My dad had to go to the emergency room, again, so it's been a really crazy time … and obviously when your dad’s 94 and he has COVID, and other health issues, it’s just been very stressful I have to say.

No idea what “current daughter” means in any context. Metaxas could simply be exhausted and historically he speaks in a strange way with phraseologies that even make me wonder. The Metaxas’ family revelations come after months of Metaxas giving his expert opinion on Steve Bannon’s show, where he explained that not taking a vaccine was a way to rebel against … something.

“The bottom line is, questions come up about the vaccine. People say, ‘I’m not going, this is experimental. I’ve watched this pandemic roll out and I’m not afraid of getting it, my kids are not afraid of getting it. This is not a big deal for us, I’m not going to put some experimental thing in my system, when we literally don’t know what could happen.’” Metaxas went on to juxtapose people afraid of the vaccine with “some other people” saying that “you must do it,” and that the “government is telling you you must do it.”

His convoluted point being that … take a breath … ”Americans need to understand that if the government, or everybody, is telling you you have to do something, we don’t have dissent, no dissent, you need to understand that’s not the American way, folks. And if only to be a rebel, you need to say, ‘I’m not going to do that.’” This isn’t the only time Metaxas spent trying to get some of that right-wing anti-vaxx traction.

A couple of days before Halloween, just over a month ago, Metaxas, who was probably trying to scare your children, gave one of those classic analogies to the Holocaust that is so bananas offensive that either someone is a rabid antisemite or they have very little brain function, or both. On right-wing clown Dave Rubin’s Rubin Report, he explained that the COVID-19 vaccine has opened his eyes to what he says has been happening every time he’s been put on shows for the past decade or so. Comparing anti-vaxxers’ “demonization” and “marginalization” to Jews under the Nazis, he reveals: “The vaccine idea, the idea that you can tell people, ‘Listen, yes this was made because of aborted fetuses; but you know, what if it was made with the bodies of Jews we murdered in the concentration camps who cares we're telling you, you need to get it whether you have an objection to murdering Jewish children, we don't care. We're going to tell you what to do.”

I hope he and his family recover at God’s pace.

Veteran House Republicans are trying to sweep the GOP extremists running the caucus under the rug

Sure, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is coddling GOP caucus extremists in his caucus in his quest for the speakership. Sure, a small cadre of House Republicans who have gleefully put their colleagues' lives on the line are running the joint with McCarthy's blessing. Sure, some members of that same group are raising money hand over fist by zealously chasing the title of "worst human in the world."

But it's all just business as usual, says veteran GOP lawmaker Tom Cole, a 10-term Oklahoma Congressman.

“There’s always some gifted communicator who comes in,” said Rep. Cole, who was elected as part of the 1994 Republican takeover of the House. “We’re a long way of knowing how long they’ll stay. A lot of the brightest stars of the 1994 class were gone within eight years.”

If it weren't required journalistic practice, it would almost be superfluous to name the infamous names at this point. But we're talking about Republican representatives such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, and Paul Gosar of Arizona. We can only assume that Cole was singling out one of these ignominious lawmakers as "gifted."

But it was the follow-up portion of Cole's quote to the Associated Press that really captured the essence of the predicament House GOP leadership has put the country in.

“The reality is the first six years, the only thing you are going to do is what they let you,” Cole added.

Bingo. Greene, Boebert, Gosar and several others are simply doing precisely what McCarthy and his leadership team are allowing them to get away with. That includes labeling members of their own caucus "traitors," calling them "trash," inciting intra-caucus feuds, and spurring death threats against colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

To McCarthy, what's a few death threats—or perhaps a lost life—so long as he has the votes to become speaker if the GOP takes back the House next year? And yet, despite his willingness to put lives on the line for his own benefit, the extremists may well give him the boot anyway. In the meantime, they have free rein.

Cole clearly intended to dismiss all the dust being kicked up by the newest round of GOP flamethrowers, but instead he squarely put Republican leaders on the line for fostering the environment of permissiveness that the Greenes and Boeberts of the caucus are now exploiting.

The problem for Republicans now is that the whole point for the MTG caucus is to shock, garner attention, and then escalate. Their big rewards come through fundraising and celebrity, and the more incendiary and rancid their comments, the more they reap the rewards—which can be significant.

Greene, for instance, has raised $6.3 million this year, according to the AP, and Boebert has scored $2.7 million in donations on the year. That's an extraordinary amount of fundraising for any freshman member of the House who otherwise wields almost no institutional power.

“If you say something batshit crazy, if you say something extreme, you are going to raise money,” said GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who became a target of Greene's last week after she dared to condemn Boebert for hurling Islamophobic epithets at Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Greene then labeled Mace "the trash of the conference,” the type of thing that apparently thrills the GOP's rabid base into shelling out money. Mace later told the AP that Greene is a “grifter of the first order” who is capitalizing on “vulnerable conservatives.”

Cole, McCarthy, and others may be happily fooling themselves into believing they're still in charge, but judging by the public discourse in the party, Greene's statement on Steve Bannon's radio show last week carries more water.

"Here's the deal, in the GOP conference they consider conservatives the fringe," she explained, "We are not the fringe. We are the base of the party.”

Greene's no conservative—she and her comrades are extremists, through and through. But she's right that they are no longer the fringe of the party. They are wielding the bulk of the power in the GOP conference precisely because McCarthy is too afraid to stand up to them.

The same thing is true in the Senate, where the supposed establishment has surrendered to Donald Trump to the point where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed violence-prone alleged wife beater Herschel Walker for the Georgia Senate race.

MAGA moms meet Madison Cawthorn's challenge: Why right-wing women raise their sons as 'monsters'

There's much to be learned still about the role that James and Jennifer Crumbley played in the mass murder their son, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, is accused of committing in Oxford, Michigan last Tuesday. But, at a bare minimum, we know that the couple indulged their son's unhealthy fascination with guns and violence, even buying the boy the weapon he allegedly used to kill four teenage kids. In the name of MAGA politics, Jennifer Crumbley has left a long digital trail of evidence demonstrating how she celebrated her son's gun worship. In 2016, she posted a long letter defending her decision to vote for Donald Trump on the grounds that she could not let Hillary Clinton "have control over my son's future." She thanked Trump "for allowing my right to bear arms," and bragged about how she's not scared of Trump's "big personality and quick temper." Finally, she signed the letter as someone who is "sick of getting f*cked in the ass and would rather be grabbed by the pussy."

Crumbley's husband shared the letter by writing, "My wife can be spot on. Sometimes."

In the cult of MAGA, women need to be kept in their place. Yes, even loyal women who worship toxic masculinity to the point of pretending that being sexually assaulted is no big deal.

On the day before Ethan Crumbley allegedly killed four people, he was caught in class looking at pictures of ammunition. His mother's response, in text: "LOL I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."

It is important to recall that in October, one of the more noxious trolls in the House's GOP caucus, Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, gave a speech aimed at the mothers of MAGA in which he encouraged the women to raise their sons to be "monsters." Cawthorn claimed that "[o]ur culture today is trying to completely de-masculate all of the young men," and argued that it's on mothers — who he called "the most vicious in our movement" — to counter this supposed emasculation by training their sons to be "monsters and lions." Predators, essentially.

That Cawthorn only addressed mothers is no mistake, of course. In MAGA-land, fathers who are present in their kids' lives are viewed as emasculated. And a lot of MAGA moms were hardly waiting for Cawthorn's instructions.

Take the relationship of Kyle Rittenhouse and his mother, Wendy Rittenhouse. Every step of the way, she's been a proud MAGA mom, treating her son — who shot three people, killing two, at a Black Lives Matter protest — like he's a hero, and blaming his victims for their own deaths.

"A lot of people shouldn't have been there," she raved to NBC News during her son's trial. "He brung that gun for protection, and to this day if he didn't have that gun, my son would've been dead."

Last January, Kyle Rittenhouse was spotted in a bar partying with his mother and a group of Proud Boys. As the young Rittenhouse flashed white supremacist signs, his mother stood by, clearly unbothered that her 18-year-old was drinking with a group of men known for promoting violence in the name of authoritarian politics.

Or take Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a prime example of a woman who waves a gun around in a bizarre psychological battle with her own tribe's belief in female inferiority. Boebert has been heavily criticized for her repeated shows of contempt for the idea of gun safety. But the worst moment was no doubt over the summer, when, as Zachary Petrizzo reported for Salon, Boebert released a video showing her 8-year-old son "singing, dancing and playing with cigarette lighters — while left alone in a room a few feet away from a high-capacity rifle."

By August, there were at least 259 unintentional shootings by children in 2021, which resulted in 104 deaths and 168 injuries. But raising boys to care about safety is viewed in the MAGA world as, to use Cawthorn's word, "de-masculating." Boebert has routinely blown off critics who point out how dangerous it is to leave loaded guns around, claiming they need to be "ready for use."

In a typical sexist fashion, Cawthorn framed his demand that mothers raise "monsters" in terms of female duty and even sacrifice. But, as these examples show, for a lot of MAGA moms, raising monsters is really more about living vicariously through their sons. And really, it's no wonder. In MAGA-land, being a woman sucks. Sure, as the Boebert example shows, plenty of MAGA women wave around guns and act the part of the tough guy. But at the end of the day, women are simply second class in the Trumpist movement. They are the pussy to be grabbed, not the pussy-grabber.

The ultimate example of the MAGA mom raising up a monster, of course, is the mother-and-son team that stormed the Capitol on January 6.

Video shows Lisa Marie Eisenhart and her son Eric Munchel in tactical gear, armed with zip ties, screaming nonsense about "treason" and vowing that they are done "playing nice" —apparently intent on kidnapping members of Congress. In MAGA mom fantasies, this is the ultimate goal: To not just raise a monster, but be able, through your monster son, to taste the power of political violence yourself.

It's a world where men are viewed as superior to women, and masculinity is defined in the most toxic way possible, in predatory and violent terms. Women can't be equal, so their only way to taste power is through men, especially their sons. That's what Cawthorn's speech was about: Instructing women to sublimate their "vicious" urges by raising boys who are themselves vicious monsters. All too many are already heeding the call.

A writer who predicted Trump's first coup attempt warns of an obscure legal doctrine he may exploit next time

During the 2020 presidential election, The Atlantic’s Barton Gellman was among the journalists who predicted that then-President Donald Trump would not admit defeat if he lost. Gellman’s prediction was spot on: Trump, refusing to acknowledge that now-President Joe Biden won the election, did everything he could to overturn the election results. And in an article published by The Atlantic this week, Gellman predicts that Trump’s next coup attempt will be in a much better position to succeed.

On November 2, 2020, The Atlantic published an article by Gellman headlined, “How Trump Could Attempt a Coup.” Gellman reported that “behind the scenes,” Biden’s team was “preparing for the worst.” At the time, “Real Time” host Bill Maher was making the same troubling prediction — that Trump would not accept the election results if he lost. Republicans accused both Gellman and Maher of suffering from “Trump derangement syndrome,” but just as Gellman and Maher predicted, Trump and his attorneys refused to accept the election results.

During a November 4, 2020 interview with National Public Radio’s Terry Gross, Gellman warned, “What Trump can do if he's sufficiently ruthless — and I think he's proving that he is — is he can do his best to keep changing forums whenever he gets an answer he doesn't like to simply reject it. And we have seen this administration prepared just to flatly reject the requirements of law. Trump can also try to maneuver in the Electoral College to persuade Republican legislatures in states that are still in contention to bypass the popular vote and simply appoint electors for Trump.”

As troubling as Gellman’s November 2020 warnings were, he is even more worried about the 2024 presidential election and explains why in his Atlantic article published this week.

READ: The nasty legacy of Bob Dole

“Technically, the next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup,” Gellman warns. “It will rely on subversion more than violence, although each will have its place. If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect.”

Gellman continues, “The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means. Given the opportunity, they will act. They are acting already.”

According to Gellman, “They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the Big Lie. They are fine-tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters.”

That legal argument rests on an obscure doctrine of constitutional interpretation that Republicans seem to think they can leverage to their advantage, as he explained:

Republicans are promoting an “independent state legislature” doctrine, which holds that statehouses have “plenary,” or exclusive, control of the rules for choosing presidential electors. Taken to its logical conclusion, it could provide a legal basis for any state legislature to throw out an election result it dislikes and appoint its preferred electors instead.
The question could arise, and Barrett’s vote could become decisive, if Trump again asks a Republican-controlled legislature to set aside a Democratic victory at the polls. Any such legislature would be able to point to multiple actions during the election that it had not specifically authorized. To repeat, that is the norm for how elections are carried out today. Discretionary procedures are baked into the cake. A Supreme Court friendly to the doctrine of independent state legislatures would have a range of remedies available to it; the justices might, for instance, simply disqualify the portion of the votes that were cast through “unauthorized” procedures. But one of those remedies would be the nuclear option: throwing out the vote altogether and allowing the state legislature to appoint electors of its choosing.

READ: A writer who predicted Trump's first coup attempt warns of an obscure legal doctrine he may exploit next time

Gellman believes that MAGA Republicans will be much better positioned to steal a presidential election in 2024 than they were in 2020.

“In nearly every battle space of the war to control the count of the next election — statehouses, state election authorities, courthouses, Congress, and the Republican Party apparatus — Trump’s position has improved since a year ago,” Gellman observes. “To understand the threat today, you have to see with clear eyes what happened, what is still happening, after the 2020 election. The charlatans and cranks who filed lawsuits and led public spectacles on Trump’s behalf were sideshows. They distracted from the main event: a systematic effort to nullify the election results and then reverse them.”

Gellman continues, “As milestones passed — individual certification by states, the meeting of the Electoral College on December 14 — Trump’s hand grew weaker. But he played it strategically throughout. The more we learn about January 6, the clearer the conclusion becomes that it was the last gambit in a soundly conceived campaign — one that provides a blueprint for 2024.”

Rep. Devin Nunes is retiring by the end of the month to work for Trump

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California is retiring from Congress at the end of 2021 to work for former President Donald Trump.

The news was first reported by Alex Tavlian of The San Joaquin Valley Sun, which initially claimed he'd stay on until 2022 before updating with the much more rapid timeline. The Trump Media and Technology Group later released a statement confirming that Nunes had accepted an offer to become its CEO, a position he'll assume in January of the new year.

Many observers quickly pointed out that Nunes was next in line to be chair of the Ways and Means committee, should Republicans take control of the House of Representatives — a particularly powerful position in Congress. But apparently, his options outside of government were even more enticing.

Nunes came to public prominence as a fierce defender of Trump during his presidency. For the first two years, Nunes led the House Intelligence Committee and waged an aggressive campaign against the government's investigations into the then-president. He was an aggressive opponent of the Russia investigation and stoked conspiracy theories about an inside plot to bring Trump down.

READ: A writer who predicted Trump's first coup attempt warns of an obscure legal doctrine he may exploit next time

Nunes was also an outspoken critic of the House investigation of Trump's efforts to induce Ukraine into going after Joe Biden, which eventually led to the first of his two impeachments.

Since taking a prominent place in American politics, the California congressman launched a sweeping effort to silence some of his critics by weaponizing a series of lawsuits against media organizations and individuals whose reporting and commentary displeased him. Those lawsuits have been largely unsuccessful in court, but the effort may have nevertheless contributed to a chilling effect on people interested in speaking out against him.

Paul Krugman argues the GOP is 'pro-COVID' and is trying to 'keep the pandemic going'

During Barack Obama’s two terms as president of the United States, he encountered more than his share of obstruction from Republicans in Congress. But liberal economist and New York Times opinion writer Paul Krugman, in a recent column, argues that President Joe Biden is facing obstruction from Republicans that is “both more naked and less rational” than what Obama faced as president.

“Under Obama, leading Republicans claimed that their fiscal brinkmanship was motivated by concerns about budget deficits,” Krugman recalls. “Some of us argued, even at the time, that self-proclaimed deficit hawks were phonies, that they didn’t actually care about government debt — a view validated by their silence when the Trump administration blew up the deficit — and that they actually wanted to see the economy suffer on Obama’s watch. But they maintained enough of a veneer of responsibility to fool many commentators.”

Krugman adds, “This time, Republican obstructionists aren’t even pretending to care about red ink. Instead, they’re threatening to shut everything down unless the Biden administration abandons its efforts to fight the coronavirus with vaccine mandates.”

Biden, according to Krugman, is dealing with “Republican obstruction” on the economy as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ: The nasty legacy of Bob Dole

“As many observers have pointed out, claims that opposition to vaccine mandates — and similar opposition to mask mandates — is about maintaining personal freedom don’t stand up to any kind of scrutiny,” Krugman stresses. “No reasonable definition of freedom includes the right to endanger other people’s health and lives because you don’t feel like taking basic precautions. Furthermore, actions by Republican-controlled state governments — for example, in Florida and Texas — show a party that isn’t so much pro-freedom as it is pro-COVID.”

Krugman continues, “How else can you explain attempts to prevent private businesses — whose freedom to choose was supposed to be sacrosanct — from requiring that their workers be vaccinated, or offers of special unemployment benefits for the unvaccinated?

The economist/Times columnist notes that although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t part of the “anti-vaccine caucus,” many other Republicans are.

“Catering to anti-vaccine hysteria, doing all they can to keep the pandemic going, has become something Republicans do to remain in good standing within the party,” Krugman laments. “The result is that one of America’s two major political parties isn’t just refusing to help the nation deal with its problems; it’s actively working to make the country ungovernable. And I hope the rest of us haven’t lost the ability to be properly horrified at this spectacle.”

READ: A writer who predicted Trump's first coup attempt warns of an obscure legal doctrine he may exploit next time

The ascent of the global far right is more disturbing than any time since fascism’s 1930s heyday

What alt-right guru Steve Bannon failed to create, German taxpayers have just stepped in to revive: a Nationalist International. Thanks to the German government, the far right is about to get its own well-heeled global think tank, complete with the sort of political academy that was so dear to Bannon’s plan for world domination.

Germany’s gift to the far right is the Desiderius Erasmus Foundation, the public-policy arm of the country’s most prominent extremist party, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). Erasmus, a Dutch humanist of the Renaissance best known for his ironic essay “In Praise of Folly,” would have been appalled at such a grotesque misappropriation of his name. The AfD, after all, has built its political base on a series of follies diametrically opposed to humanism, from its initial anti-immigration screeds to its current overtures to the anti-vaccination crowd.

Strangely enough, the AfD underperformed in the recent German elections, its parliamentary delegation losing 11 seats. Still, by capturing a little more than 10% of the vote, the party made it into parliament a second consecutive time. As a result, it qualifies for what all other major parties also receive: government support of its foundation. Unless legal efforts to block this largesse succeed, the Erasmus foundation will soon enjoy the equivalent of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars a year.

Consider that an extraordinary shot in the arm for the global far right, since the AfD will be funded to establish outposts of hate throughout the world. The foundation of the left-wing Die Linke party, the more appropriately labeled Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, already has offices in more than 20 countries. The Green Party’s foundation, named after Nobel Prize-winning German novelist Heinrich Böll, is in more than 30 countries. The far right hasn’t had this kind of opportunity for global expansion since fascism’s heyday in the 1930s.

The notion that the AfD could engage in anything remotely resembling “political education” should be laughable. But that’s exactly how its foundation plans to use the coming federal windfall: to recruit and train a new generation of far-right thinkers and activists. The Erasmus Stiftung aims to hire more than 900 people for its political academy and allied educational institutions. That’s even more ambitious than the academy of intellectual “gladiators” Bannon once dreamed of creating in a former monastery in the Italian countryside.

The Erasmus website says nothing about its global ambitions. Based on the AfD’s latest platform, however, expect the foundation to gather together Euroskeptics to plot the evisceration of the European Union; advance the AfD’s anti-immigrant platform with counterparts across Europe like Lega in Italy, Vlaams Belang in Belgium, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, and several extremist groups in the Balkans; and pour money into establishing a “respectable” face for white nationalism by networking among identitarian groups in North America, the former Soviet Union, and Australasia.

This thunder on the right certainly sounds ominous. And yet, after the defeat of Donald Trump in the 2020 elections, the precipitous decline in public support for President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and the ongoing efforts to counter the far right in Eastern Europe, the prospect of a Nationalist International might seem further away today than, say, four years ago.

One well-funded German foundation is not likely to change that forecast. Unfortunately, the Erasmus Foundation is anything but the only storm cloud on the political horizon.

In reality, the global disillusionment with mainstream politics that fueled the rise of Trump and his ilk has only grown more intense in these last months. New authoritarian populists have consolidated power in places like El Salvador — where President Nayib Bukele calls himself the “world’s coolest dictator” — and are poised for possible takeovers in countries like Chile and Italy. And who knows? Even Donald Trump might claw his way back into the White House in 2024.

In other words, just when you thought it might finally be safe to go back into the international community, the global situation may grow far worse. With the help of German taxpayers and aided by anger over vaccine mandates, a malfunctioning world economy, and the enduring corruption of the powerful, the global right could rebound, securing greater power and influence in the years to come.

The Building Wave of Reaction

At this point, by all the laws of politics, Donald Trump should be radioactive. He lost his re-election bid in November 2020 and his subsequent coup attempt failed. He’s had a lousy record when it comes to expanding Republican Party power, having helped that very party forfeit its House majority in 2018 and its Senate majority in 2020. He continues to face multiple lawsuits and investigations. He’s been barred from Facebook and Twitter.

For Trump, however, politics is a philosopher’s stone. He’s managed to transmute his leaden style — not to mention his countless private failings and professional bankruptcies — into political gold. The big surprise is that so many people continue to fall for such fool’s gold.

Because of his fervent, ever-loyal base of support, Trump continues to control the Republican Party and remains on track to run for president in 2024, with no credible Republican competition in sight. Even his overall popularity, which never made it above 50% when he was president, has recently improved marginally from a February low of 38.8% percent to an almost sunny 43.4%.

Led by this urban elitist from New York, the Republican Party has all but given up on cities and reliably blue regions of the country. Still, it now controls all the levers of power in 23 states, while the Democrats do so in only 15. With a mixture of gerrymandering, voter suppression, federal stonewalling, and a master narrative about fraudulent elections, the Republicans aim to win back control of Congress in 2022 — something the odds increasingly favor — on their way to reclaiming the White House in 2024. At the moment, Donald Trump is the bookies’ choice to win the next presidential election, largely on the strength of not being Joe Biden (just as he won in 2016 by not being Hillary Clinton).

Since he can’t run for king of the world, Trump cares little about building international alliances, but the growing potential for him to return to power in 2024 has inspired right-leaning populists globally to believe that they, too, can lead their countries without the requisite skill, experience, or psychological stability. Indeed, from President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines to President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, being vulgar and vicious has already served a variety of them all too well.

Even more troubling is the new generation of Trump-style politicians coming to the fore globally. In Chile, for instance, the once-traditional conservative José Antonio Kast has remade himself as a far-right populist and in November won the first round of that country’s presidential elections. Across the Pacific in the Philippines, an all-too-literal political marriage of authoritarianism and populism is taking place as Bongbong Marcos, the son of the notorious former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has selected Sara, the daughter of Rodrigo Duterte, to be his running mate in next year’s presidential election. Polling already puts them way ahead of the competition. In France, where Marine Le Pen has had a lock on the extremist vote for a decade, journalist Éric Zemmour is challenging her from the right with his predictions of a coming civil war and Muslim takeover.

Meanwhile, Trump’s minions in America are strengthening their international connections to create a global field of dreams. For many of them, Hungary remains the home plate of that very field of dreams. Right-wingers have been flocking to Budapest to learn how that country’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, transformed the most liberal corner of Eastern Europe into the region’s most reactionary country. (Admittedly, he now faces stiff competition from the Law and Justice Party in Poland and Janez Janša’s Slovenian Democratic Party, among other right-wing forces in Eastern Europe.)

Elsewhere in Europe, the Spanish far-right party Vox has established its own Disenso Foundation to knit together a reactionary “Iberosphere” that includes the Mexican right, extremists in Colombia, the Bolsonaro family in Brazil, and even Texas senator Ted Cruz. But the Western Europe state most likely to follow Hungary’s lead is Italy. Right now, Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, presides over a technocratic administration in Rome. Italian politics, however, is heading straight for neo-fascism. The party that’s only recently surged to the top of the polls, Brothers of Italy, has its roots in a group started in the wake of World War II by diehard supporters of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. It promotes an anti-vaxx “Italy first” agenda and, if elections were held today, would likely create a ruling coalition with the alt-right Lega Party and right-wing populist Silvio Berlusconi’s Forward Italy.Typically enough, former vice president Mike Pence visited Budapest in September to praise Orbán’s “family-centric” anti-abortion version of social policy. This summer, Tucker Carlson broadcast a full week of his Fox News program from that same city. In the process, he devoted an entire show to Orbán’s virulently anti-immigrant initiatives, headlining it: “Why can’t we have this in America?” In fact, this country’s most reactionary political types are so in love with Hungary that they’re scheduling the annual Conservative Policy Action Conference for Budapest next spring, which will only cement such a transatlantic link.

Remember, in 2002, Orbán was kicked out of the prime minister’s office after one term in office, only to return to power in 2010. He’s been ruling ever since. The Trumpistas dream of pulling off just such a political comeback in America.

Meanwhile, several right-wing nationalists and populists are padding their CVs for a future role as the head of any new Nationalist International. Russian President Vladimir Putin may have the strongest claim to the title, given his longstanding support for right-wing and Euroskeptical parties, as well as the way he’s positioned Russia as the preeminent anti-liberal power around.

Don’t rule out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, though. He’s mended fences with the far right in his own country, while trying to establish Turkey as a regional hegemon. Increasingly disillusioned with his NATO peers, he’s purchased weapons from Russia and even hinted at pushing Turkey into the nuclear club. And don’t forget Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi either. Working overtime to contain China, the Hindu nationalist has also been assiduously cultivating strong relations with the right-wing in both the U.S. and Israel.

Creating an actual Axis of Illiberalism from such disparate countries would not be easy given geopolitical rivalries, ideological differences, and personal ambitions. Still, the failures of current global institutions — and the liberal internationalism that animates them — provide a powerful glue with the potential to hold together genuinely disparate elements in an emerging right, adding up to a new version of global fascism.

When the future members of a Nationalist International argue that the status quo — a raging pandemic, runaway climate change, persistent economic inequality, staggering numbers of displaced people on the move — is broken and they have just the plan to fix it, plenty of non-extremists are likely to find the message all too compelling. Short on hope and desperate for change, the disaffected and disenfranchised have proven willing to offer the noisy nationalists and reactionary populists a shot at power (which, given their unscrupulous tactics, may be all they need).

Saving the World (from Liberals)

One of the most persistent symbols of international politics has certainly been the wall. Think of the Great Wall of China, designed to protect successive dynasties from the predations of nomadic outsiders. Many metropolitan areas around the world have retained some portion of the historic walls that once established them as city-states. The Berlin Wall was the most visible symbol of the Cold War, while Trump’s border wall was the only infrastructure program of his presidency (even if it was never truly built).

The far right is now — thank you, Donald Trump! — obsessed with walls, drawing on not only history but a deep reservoir of fear of the outsider. Like “austerity” for neoliberals, “walls” have proven the far right’s one-size-fits-all answer to almost every question. Immigrants? Wall them out. Climate change? Build walls now to prevent future waves of desperate global-warming refugees. Economic decline? Hey, install those tariff walls. Angry neighbors? Walls of weaponry and anti-missile defenses are the obvious answer.

The far right considers not rising sea levels but globalization — trade flows, the movement of people, expanding international governance — as the tide that needs containing. Far right populists are busy constructing dikes of all sorts to keep out such unwanted global flows and preserve national control in an increasingly chaotic world.

Moving down the great chain of governance, it’s no surprise that the far right also wants to culturally wall off communities to uphold what it calls “family values” against contrary civic values, different religious practices, and alternate conceptions of sexuality and gender. It even wants to wall off individuals to “protect” them against intrusive government practices like vaccine mandates. To secure such walls, literal or metaphoric, what’s needed above all are a bloated military at the national level, paramilitaries at the community level, and a semi-automatic in the hands of every red-blooded right-wing individual.

Such walls are a hedge against uncertainty, though ironically the far right’s truest contribution to modern political ideology is not certainty, but a radical skepticism. Sure, that ancient right-wing American crew, the John Birch Society, did traffic in conspiracy theories involving Communists and fluoridated water. But that was nothing compared to the way the modern political right has weaponized conspiracy theories to acquire permanent power. With claims of stolen elections, Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, and others have even cast doubt on the very capacity of democracy to represent voters, emphasizing that only populist extremists can represent the “authentic” wishes of the electorate.

On the other hand, elections that far-right candidates win, like the recent gubernatorial race in Virginia, are automatically defined as free and fair. Radical skepticism about the electoral system, after all, is only a convenient ladder that, once in power, the far right is all too ready to kick away.

The final conspiracy theory to fall will undoubtedly be the nefariousness of the “globalists” who have teamed up to sully the “precious bodily fluids” of pure Americans (or Brazilians or Hungarians). As long as liberal internationalists run global institutions like the World Bank and the World Health Organization, “globalists” will be useful bogeys for the nationalists to rally their followers. However, if the Trumps of this world capture enough countries and successfully infiltrate global institutions, then there will be no more talk of evil globalists.

In that worst-case scenario, even a Nationalist International will no longer be necessary as we discover in Hemingway fashion that, for Trump and his kind, the sun also rises. For all practical purposes, right-wing populists will have taken over the world. Given their blithe disregard for pandemics and climate change, such a victory would, of course, be pyrrhic.

Their win, humanity’s loss.

Copyright 2021 John Feffer

Featured image: Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel, Songlands (the final one in his Splinterlands series), Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

John Feffer, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands and the director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. Frostlands, a Dispatch Books original, is volume two of his Splinterlands series and the final novel in the trilogy, Songlands, has just been published. He has also written The Pandemic Pivot. More information about the new IPS project on a Global Just Transition can be found here.

'Merrick Garland shivering under his desk': Ex-US officials slam DOJ for lack of action on 'criminal' Trump

Several former U.S. government officials are expressing concern and outrage over what they see as the Dept. of Justice and the Biden administration’s lack of action to protect the fundamentals of American democracy, including the lack of prosecution of the former president, Donald Trump, and those who supported and engaged in the planning of the January 6 insurrection.

Former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockart on Monday pointed to Donald Trump’s apparent admission Sunday night that he intentionally obstructed justice by firing then-FBI Director Jim Comey. Lockart, now a CNN political analyst, lamented the Dept. of Justice having “no interest in bringing [Trump] to justice.”

“Why should anyone have confidence in our system of Justice where lawyers lie to get on SCOTUS and criminals walk free,” he asked.

Lockhart also cites Monday’s bombshell Politico story that reveals a former Trump “high-level National Security Council and Pentagon” official is “slam[ing] the Pentagon’s inspector general for what he calls an error-riddled report that protects a top Army official who argued against sending the National Guard to the Capitol on Jan. 6, delaying the insurrection response for hours.”

Separately, former U.S. Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub also went on the attack Monday morning.

“There’s a country where a deposed leader tried to overthrow the government, with help from top military leaders, and his allies have spent the last year rigging the next election,” Shaub said, apparently referring to Trump and the Politico report Lockhart had pointed to. “None has been held accountable. But that country is hosting a democracy and anti-corruption summit.”

President Joe Biden on Thursday and Friday is hosting a “virtual Summit for Democracy, bringing together over 100 participants, representing governments, civil society and private sector leaders,” according to the White House.

“The government of that country,” Shaub continued, “is excluding domestic watchdog groups from the summit and its preparations — to keep the focus on foreign corruption and off the lack of accountability for the corruption of the last administration and the current one’s refusal to support reforms.”

On Sunday Shaub accused members of Congress and their staffs of living “in a universe where it’s 1991” while in the real world, he posited, it’s more like Germany before Hitler took power:

And commenting on the news former Trump Justice official Jeffrey Clark will plead the fifth to the January 6 Committee Shaub effectively accused Attorney General Merrick Garland of cowardice:

Happy Holidays!