Trump

These far-right white evangelicals remain unwavering MAGA loyalists: ‘Trump is my president’

In the past, former President Donald Trump was hardly a likely contender for icon of the Christian Right. He was a centrist Democrat most of his life, he grew up in Queens, he was twice divorced, and he was a non-practicing Presbyterian who used off-color language and often appeared on Howard Stern's show. But the far-right White evangelical movement adored Trump during his four years in the White House, and according to Guardian reporter David Smith, the Christian Right still adores Trump in the Biden era.

At the Faith and Freedom Coalition's recent annual Road to Majority conference in Orlando, Florida — Smith reports in an article published on June 19 — pro-Trump merchandise and signs were not hard to find. A t-shirt being sold read, "Jesus is my savior. Trump is my president," and a sign read, "Trump: Take America Back, 2024."

"The Christian Right's unlikely faith in Trump has not been shaken," Smith explains. "For many, he is a martyr who may yet rise again…. Interviews with a dozen attendees found a widespread conviction that the 2020 election was stolen, support for tougher voting restrictions and a reluctance to condemn Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on 6 January."

One of those evangelical Trump devotees is Tampa-based Jonathan Riches, who booed former Vice President Mike Pence during a speech on June 18. Riches told the Guardian, "We feel like he abandoned Trump. We needed him to challenge the election. He doesn't represent our party. He's now trying to redeem himself, but we don't want him."

Riches obviously buys into the Big Lie, believing Trump's debunked and totally false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump because of widespread voter fraud. In fact, the election was quite secure, and now-President Joe Biden enjoyed a decisive victory — winning 306 votes in the Electoral College and defeating Trump by more than 7 million in the popular vote.

Another Road to Majority attendee who buys into the Big Lie is 56-year-old Shelley Villarreal, a retired school teacher from Houston. Villarreal, speaking to The Guardian, praised Sidney Powell — a far-right attorney who is being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems for promoting the lie that Dominion helped Biden steal the election. Villarreal told The Guardian, "Sidney Powell has some pretty good statistics and data and facts. I rely on her to know."

Villarreal, who was wearing a "President Trump 2024" sweater, said of the January 6 insurrection, "Violence has no place in politics. However, I did think it was an emotionally charged crowd, and it just got out of control. I don't think that was the plan; it happened in the heat of the moment. It was a reflection of how frustrated the public was about the outcome of the election."

But another Road to Majority attendee flat-out condoned the violence that occurred on January 6. Identifying himself as only Greg A., that attendee compared the January 6 attack to the American Revolution and told The Guardian, "1776 was the same thing because your government says we are going to install a dictatorship. The people have no choice but to rise up."

Another Road to Majority attendee, 50-year-old Greensboro, North Carolina resident Glenn Romano, buys into the far-out conspiracy theory that the January 6 rioters weren't really Trump supporters —and Romano blames Black Lives Matter even though the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol Building was overwhelmingly White.

Romano told The Guardian, "I think it was staged. There have been reports of BLM leaders. Our media's just completely anti-conservative. They're pushing the leftist agenda."

'What about Guantánamo?': Here are 5 disturbing bombshells in a new book on Trump's 'rudderless' COVID response

The United States recently passed yet another grim milestone in the 2020/2021 pandemic when Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reported that the COVID-19 death count had passed 600,000 in the United States. Nonetheless, there is reason for optimism where the pandemic is concerned. Around 65% of U.S. adults, according to the New York Times, have been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19, and President Joe Biden — who has been promoting vaccination aggressively — hopes to get that number up to 70% by July 4. Biden obviously takes the pandemic much more than former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly downplayed its severity in 2020.

Trump's dysfunctional response to the worst global health crisis in more than 100 years is the focus of a new book by Washington Port reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta: "Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration's Response to the Pandemic That Changed History," which Post reporter Dan Diamond discusses in detail in an article published on June 21. Here are five bombshells in the book, according to Diamond.

1. Trump wanted to quarantine infected Americans at Guantánamo Bay

Guantánamo Bay, Cuba is where is where the Bush Administration kept suspected terrorists following the 9/11 attacks. And it is also where, according to Abutaleb and Paletta, Trump wanted to keep Americans who tested positive for COVID-19. In February 2020, Abutaleb and Paletta report, Trump asked aides, "Don't we have an island that we own? What about Guantánamo?"

2. Kushner had a meltdown after learning about a delay in mask shipments

In late March 2020, according to Abutaleb and Paletta, Robert Kadlec — preparedness chief at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — informed then-White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner that there would be a delay in shipments of protective face masks, which wouldn't be available until June. And Kushner reportedly became unglued, shouting at Kadlec, "You fucking moron! We'll all be dead by June!"

3. Trump feared that COVID-19 testing would cause him to lose the election

In March 2020, the month in which the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic, the United States wasn't doing nearly as much testing as it should have been. But Trump, according to Abutaleb and Paletta, believed the U.S. was doing too much — and his reason was entirely political. Trump, during a March 18, 2020 phone conversation with then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, reportedly shouted, "Testing is killing me! I'm going to lose the election because of testing! What idiot had the federal government do testing?"

4. No one knew exactly who was in charge of Trump's COVID-19 response

Trump had two separate COVID-19 task forces in 2020: a White House task force led by then-Vice President Mike Pence, and a task force led by Kushner that focused on private sector efforts in response to the pandemic. According to Abutaleb and Paletta, the Trump Administration's COVID-19 response was so chaotic that it was hard to know who exactly was in charge.

In their book, Abutaleb and Paletta, "One of the biggest flaws in the Trump Administration's response is that no one was in charge of the response. Was it (Dr. Deborah) Birx, the task force coordinator? Was it Pence, head of the task force? Was it Trump, the boss? Was it Kushner, running the shadow task force until he wasn't? Was it Marc Short or Mark Meadows, often at odds, rarely in sync? Ultimately, there was no accountability, and the response was rudderless."

5. Mark Meadows berated a top HHS official

After former Rep. Mark Meadows replaced Mick Mulvaney as White House chief of staff, he became — according to Abutaleb and Paletta — a source of misery for Kadlec. When there was a delay with the rollout of remdesivir (a drug used to treat COVID-19), Meadows reportedly screamed at Kadlec, "I'm going to fire your ass if you can't fix this." According to Abutaleb and Paletta, "That was what the response had turned into: a toxic environment in which no matter where you turned, someone was ready to rip your head off or threatening to fire you."

Clinical psychologist explains how to break the twisted bond between Trump and his supporters

Manhattan's district attorney has convened the grand jury that will determine if charges should be brought against former President Donald Trump. The Boston Globe editorial board has stated that Trump should be criminally prosecuted. These developments have caught the country's attention.

Donald Trump's presidency was an abysmal failure. Americans were constantly bombarded with misinformation, propaganda and gaslighting. We were traumatized by the sickness and death of the coronavirus pandemic that he could have contained and defeated. Our crippled economy created widespread depression and anxiety. Trump's racism, xenophobia, misogyny, nativism, white supremacy and violence were all disturbing forces. His grifting and bashing of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution revealed his shameless greed. His politicization of the Department of Justice for his own personal gain was corruption at its core. And his incitement of the insurrection of our democratic election on Jan. 6 was illegal and the behavior of an authoritarian.

But Trump continues to exert a cult-like influence over millions of Americans who are devoted to him in a "collective narcissism." Trump's supporters view him as an all-knowing, charismatic leader who is going to lead them to the promised land of happiness by airing their grievances and marginalizing people of color, Muslims, and immigrants. In return, Trump relishes his supporters because they give him the praise, adulation and unconditional respect he so desires. They fill up his insatiable need for narcissistic supply. He secretly abhors his supporters but uses them to bolster his self-image of greatness and invincibility.

To be sure, Trump and his supporters have a bond that is intense and irrational. How to break their collective narcissism is the critical question we face.

The answer is that Donald Trump must be prosecuted and punished for his crimes, especially the ones committed during his presidency, such as obstruction of justice during the Mueller probe, efforts to tamper with Georgia's secretary of state, his incitement of the insurrection and perhaps even conscious disregard or worse for the more than 500,000 coronavirus deaths under his watch.

Trump supporters will be convinced of his menace if they see him being prosecuted and punished. Being held accountable will chip away at his cult-like reverence. A bright light needs to be cast on the sordid details of his reprehensible behavior. His fall from grace will be hastened if his supporters see him sentenced to incarceration.

Trump's reign of terror on the American public was fueled by his belief that he would not be punished for it — that he could break laws with impunity. This is exactly why his prosecution is so important. He must face firm consequences so that his supporters will finally understand and accept the objective truth: Trump is a con man and greedy opportunist who unleashed his cruelty, corruption and anti-democratic leanings on all of us.

Not prosecuting and punishing Trump would send the unacceptable message that certain politicians who engage in wrongdoing are above the law. In our democracy, no one should be above the law. Politicians are our elected officials who must serve with honor, integrity, and the public's best interest at heart. We cannot condone corrupt politicians by sticking our heads in the sand or turning a blind eye. Democracy is weakened if our president's illegalities and misdeeds go unheeded.

Many other steps need to be taken to purge Trump from our political consciousness. Keeping him permanently off social media outlets is a necessity. Not nominating him to run again for the presidency is a given. And Congress needs to pass new laws that constrain future presidents from breaking norms and laws.

Once Trump begins to lose his supporters, his political clout will melt away. Perhaps then the Republican party will stop its complicity and new, fresh leadership can step forward. Our democracy works best in a two-party system. Unfortunately, the Republican party has been transformed into the ugly image of the former president. It will take outside forces — like the full and transparent prosecution of all charges — for the party to untether itself from the malignancy of Trump himself.

In strong democracies, it is not unheard of to hold politicians accountable for their crimes. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was tried in 2021 for crimes he committed during his 2007 presidential campaign. He was found guilty. Another former French President, Jacques Chirac, was charged with crimes that occurred previously to his presidency, while he was mayor of Paris. In 2011, four years after leaving presidential office, he was tried and found guilty of corruption.

Prosecution and punishment of Donald Trump is the key to unlocking his bond of collective narcissism with his supporters. Nothing short of that will convince millions of Americans of his dangerousness and unfit stature. This major step must happen if America is to move past the unprecedented burden of our criminal ex-president.

Trump admin lawyers having trouble finding jobs post-Jan. 6 insurrection

BREAKING NEWS: Saruman's orcs are having a hard time finding jobs in the new post-Mordor economy. Several Uruk-hai have applied for au pair positions in the Shire and been flatly refused. Who knows why? Might have something to do with their brazen attempt to sack Gondor, but it could be anything, really.

Won't someone think of the orcs? They need to eat, too!

By all rights, having worked for the Trump administration should essentially bar you from any kind of work—with the possible exception of squeegeeing the ex-pr*sident's kingly moobs once a fortnight ... or whenever he orders a 12-piece Chicken McNugget with extra sauces. And while that's certainly more than a one-person job, unfortunately it's not going to help the dozens of traitors who stuck with this doofus through thousands of lies, two impeachments, dozens of outrages, and one full-blown insurrection against the legitimate government of the United States.

According to a recent Bloomberg story, lawyers who served in the Trump administration are facing higher hurdles than members of past administrations when it comes to securing employment.

Bloomberg:

Trump lawyers have been more difficult to place than those who served in previous administrations, particularly if they were closely connected to his most controversial policies or if they lacked the experience past alumni had, said Lauren Drake, a partner at search firm Macrae.

Several companies and law firms distanced themselves from Trump after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Corporate law firm Crowell & Moring called for Trump's removal from office and urged others to make the same demand. Law firms Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Seyfarth Shaw dropped Trump and his businesses as clients.
"I don't think anyone coming out of the George W. Bush administration was told, 'We can't hire this person,'" [former Trump administration Homeland Security attorney Ken] Cuccinelli said. "I'm sure Jan. 6 made it that much worse than it ever would have been."

Gee, ya think? Jan. 6 made it much worse? You'd think lawyers for the Trump administration would have about as much chance of being hired elsewhere as Capt. Hazelwood did of getting another oil tanker gig, but that's an unfair comparison ... because the Exxon Valdez spill was a fucking accident.

Cuccinelli, the deputy secretary of Homeland Security from late 2019 to early 2021, has personally discovered just how radioactive Trump was and is. After being considered for one particular corporate job, and being turned down, Cuccinelli told Bloomberg, "They just decided they didn't want Trump people. It was just flat out—you can call it Trump discrimination."

Sure, you can call it Trump discrimination. You could also call it common decency. The latter rings more true to me.

Of course, there are competing theories as to why major law firms are showing such a reluctance to soil their pantaloons in public.

Reed D. Rubinstein, who worked for the Trump Education Department, said the lack of interest in Trump's henchmen has to do with "the extent to which Big Law has been captured by the political left."

"To protect the middle and working class, we directly challenged the control, legitimacy, and power of the credentialed managerial class and their corporate institutions," Rubinstein told Bloomberg. "So it's not a surprise to me that they are hostile to Trump administration alumni."

Sure, Reed. Whatever helps you sleep, my man.

Of course, this dynamic could change as Republicans proceed in their campaign to flush Jan. 6 down the memory hole. But for now, I'll relish this limited—and perhaps temporary—comeuppance.

As far as I'm concerned, most Trump lackeys should be shunned from polite society altogether. Or impolite society, for that matter. Send them to Snake Island. They'd fit in better there anyway.

Donald Trump and the new Lost Cause

Lies are a denomination of power. The bigger the lie, the more power it represents. Right now in this country, we are being treated daily to the Big Lie that Donald Trump was the true winner of the presidential election of 2020, and the only reason he's not in the White House right now is because the election was stolen from him.

You may have noticed that the people pushing the Big Lie today are very good at it. This is because many of them have been pushing an even bigger Big Lie for most of their lives: the lie of the Lost Cause, that the Civil War wasn't really fought over the disgraceful secession of the Southern states and slavery, it was instead a noble cause fought for the "honor" of the South, and that slavery itself wasn't bad or immoral, because enslaved people were happy workers living much better lives than they would have lived where they came from in Africa.

The Lost Cause was — or still is, because it lives today across a broad swath of America — the foundational ethos of racism and was used to perpetuate the racial crimes of the Jim Crow era, when Black Americans in the South were stripped of the right to vote and segregated from whites and subjected to the pernicious political and social discriminatory practices of white supremacy.

The Civil War was, of course, lost by the Confederacy, but you wouldn't know it if you lived in the South through the disgraceful years of Jim Crow or even today in the states which comprised the Confederacy. One of the truths about wars is that they are often won or lost not in the big battles which become famous and end up celebrated — or lamented — in the history books, but in smaller out-of-the-way battles that get largely forgotten.

The battle of Franklin, Tennessee, was one such battle in the Civil War. Little celebrated in the history books or anywhere except Franklin itself, the battle was fought late in the war, on November 30, 1864, and was part of the campaign by the Army of Tennessee following the Confederate defeat by the Union Army of Lt. Gen. William T. Sherman in the battle of Atlanta. Commanded by Confederate General John Bell Hood, the Army of Tennessee, instead of pursuing Sherman after he left Atlanta and began his famous "March to the Sea," turned westward and began a campaign to take Nashville from the Union forces which occupied this important manufacturing center of the South.

The battle of Franklin and the battle of Nashville, which followed quickly on its heels, were a disaster for the Confederacy. The Army of Tennessee began its campaign with 38,000 men in November of 1864. By January of 1865, the Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, who was in overall command of the Confederate armies in the West, would report to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, that his army was reduced in strength to 15,000, having lost more than 6,000 men on a single day in the battle of Franklin, and 2,500 more in the battle of Nashville. More than 2,000 losses were attributed to desertion in the ranks during both battles.

John Bell Hood was incompetent as a tactician and bloody awful as a combat commander. His campaign after the loss in Atlanta was "unfortunate" in the words of some sympathetic texts about the war. Confederate losses in the battle of Franklin were by some counts the largest in a single day in the war. Fourteen Confederate generals were either killed or wounded, along with 55 regimental commanders, decimating the leadership of the Confederate army in the west.

While living in Franklin a few years back, I visited part of the Franklin battlefield at Carnton Plantation with my son on a Cub Scout troop excursion. The house was transformed into a Confederate hospital during the battle of Franklin, and on the property is a cemetery containing 1,481 Confederate graves. The 48-acre site was the location of a plantation consisting of about 1,000 acres of land owned by Randal McGavock, who had been a state supreme court clerk and mayor of Nashville. The 1850 census showed 28 enslaved people working at the Carnton plantation. The plantation house and all the outbuildings, including a large sawmill, were built with slave labor. Records show that in 1859, McGavock's son John, who had inherited the plantation upon his father's death, "purchased a slave" for $2500 to run his sawmill. Currently owned by the Battle of Franklin Trust, you can visit the "historic" site seven days a week. An adult ticket costs $18, a child's ticket $8. All of the land you walk on was worked by the people enslaved at Carnton plantation. Every structure you walk through on the tour was built by enslaved people. Throughout the time the plantation existed, there were more enslaved people on the property than there were white people who owned them.

During the tour of the house, I was stricken by the way the docent described the battle of Franklin. Facing a group of us from a few steps up on the house's grand staircase, with a lavishly furnished entrance hall behind us, the docent went on at some length about what an "idiot" General Hood was, how he should never have been given command of a Confederate army, how his foolishness had led to so many sad deaths on the day of the battle. All of those now lying in the cemetery less than a hundred yards from the house were killed under Hood's command, due to his malfeasance as a commanding general. The docent's emphasis throughout his talk was on the tragedy of the deaths of so many good Southern boys. He didn't mention once the "cause" they fought for. In fact, the the words "slave" or "slavery" didn't pass his lips. It was as if the fact of slavery and the enslaved people owned by the McGavock family didn't exist.

Outside we had passed reenactors in Confederate army costumes. Inside the house, listening to the docent describe the incompetent General Hood and the incredible losses suffered in the battle, we could hear the reenactors firing blanks, showing the tourists how the Confederate soldiers fired their rifles. Omitted from the reenactor's demonstration was the fact that their rifles were fired in vain in a battle that cost the lives of several thousand Confederate soldiers attired just like them.

It was impossible to miss the implications of the whole scene at the plantation. The life of the distinguished McGavock family within the house was orderly, elegant, refined. The furnishings in the house were beautiful. The battle, as reenacted in a minor way outside and described by the docent inside, was tragic only in that the dastardly Hood had lost it. The Confederate soldiers had fought bravely, nobly for their cause, the Lost Cause that was on display all around us in the structures and land and furnishings. Unstated was the fact that the house itself was built by the enslaved and furnished and cleaned by them, the land was worked by the enslaved, indeed the life of the McGavock family had been made possible by slavery.

Carnton in its day was one of the grandest plantations in the whole Nashville area and had been voted "best farm" at the Williamson County Fair in 1860. For your $18 admission fee, you support the Franklin Battlefield Trust and visit this tribute to the nobility of a time and a way of life that is still celebrated in Tennessee and at similar sites of plantations and other battlefields across the South. Cherished for its "historical" value, the Carnton plantation is all the evidence you need that the Lost Cause was lost in name only.

The Lost Cause of Donald Trump's defeat at the polls is being celebrated in much the same way every day across the land by his supporters who send money to his political action committee, who buy and wear MAGA gear, who wave huge TRUMP flags alongside Confederate flags at MAGA demonstrations, and of course who wore and waved all of their Trump gear when thousands of them assaulted the Capitol on January 6 in his name.

Some of them are even paying for memberships to his personal plantation at Mar-a-Lago, and to his golf clubs in Sterling, Virginia; Bedminster, New Jersey; and Briarcliff Manor, New York. It has recently been reported that Trump himself has been seen wandering through Mar-a-Lago and his golf clubs, stopping to visit gatherings of members at their weddings and birthdays — in effect acting as his own docent, delivering lengthy descriptions of the Battle of the 2020 Election, which while lost, was nonetheless fought valiantly, nobly by his supporters. The battle is still being fought today in places like Arizona by his own army laboring tirelessly in reenactments in their so-called "audit" as they shove ballots beneath black lights looking for shreds of bamboo fibers which would show their origin in China and give evidence of having been "stuffed" into ballot boxes on election day on behalf of the dastardly Joe Biden.

They're going to keep this up. They've kept up the fiction of the Lost Cause of the South's defeat in the Civil War for more than 150 years, so why shouldn't they keep pushing the Lost Cause of Donald Trump's defeat in the election of 2020? The South has been enslaved by the lies they have told about the Civil War. Look at John Bell Hood! They even managed to get a United States Army base named after the man who lost more Confederate soldiers on a single day than anyone during the entire war! Why give up now? Next thing you know, they'll be pushing to erect monuments to General Michael "Let's have a coup!" Flynn! If they can celebrate the criminally incompetent Hood, why not the criminally pardoned Flynn? Why not rename the FBI building after Rudy "Hunter Biden! Burisma!" Giuliani? Or re-name the building housing the Department of Justice after William "What Mueller report?" Barr? Or erect a grand statue of Mitch "I forgot where I was on January 6" McConnell? Or name a federal courthouse after Sidney "I lost every election lawsuit I filed" Powell?

Just watch what they're going to do with the assault on the Capitol, which is perfect for the Lost Cause of Donald Trump. It's like their very own Battle of Franklin. They failed to stop the certification of the Electoral College ballots. Joe Biden was named president. They lost the battle of the Capitol, 400 have been indicted, and they accomplished exactly nothing. All they need now is a new Lost Cause battle flag. Or maybe they'll just adopt the old one, the Confederate battle flag, because that's what the followers of the new Lost Cause have become: Donald Trump's Confederacy of Dunces.

Military expert: Russians will eventually 'leak' what they 'had to control Trump'

During President Joe Biden's trip to Europe, it has been obvious how greatly he differs from former President Donald Trump in terms of foreign policy. While Trump was favorable to Putin and openly hostile to the United States' long-time NATO allies, Biden has stressed how much he values the United States' relationship with NATO and has been much more critical of Putin. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a military analyst for MSNBC, discussed Biden's meeting with Putin during a Wednesday, June 16 appearance on MSNBC's "The 11th Hour" — and stressed how great a contrast it was to the Trump era.

McCaffrey told host Brian Williams, "I think, without question, that President Biden and his senior team were right to engage with the Russians and to meet Putin. There's no question we have to have an ongoing dialogue with Putin."

The retired general went on to say that he believes Biden is dealing with Putin from a position of strength.

McCaffrey explained, "Putin heads a state that is hostile to American interests…. They've interfered with our election. They're using hackers, surrogate hackers, to attack our economic system. So, I think Mr. Biden will do just fine to show up, engage him, leave a marker on the table. But then, we must take action, or this daring, clever kleptocrat, Putin, will not change his behavior."

The MSNBC military analyst said of Putin, "What he does have going for him is daring and a lack of respect for the law. I look at this, with almost amazement, at how far he got with Trump…. Eventually, the Russians will leak what they had to control Mr. Trump with his anti-American activities. Those days are over. Biden and his team are in charge. We don't need military operations against the Russians, but we do need to directly confront them on cyberhacking, interference with our election."

Watch below:


Former Trump attorney general may be willing to discuss last-ditch efforts to overturn election results

Donald Trump's final attorney general Jeffrey Rosen may be willing to reveal new details about the former president's last-minute efforts to remain in office despite his election loss.

Rosen, who served the final month of Trump's presidency as acting attorney general, is in discussions with the House Oversight Committee to sit down for a transcribed interview about his communications with the ousted president, reported the Washington Post.

"Such an interview could fill in critical details," wrote Post columnist Greg Sargent. "Among the things Rosen could speak to are whether there were additional communications between Trump and Rosen — including verbal ones, as well as unreleased email communications."

"If there were more communications between them," Sargent added, "Rosen could fill in additional detail about the full scope of Trump's efforts to get the department to help overturn the election."

The committee released emails showing Trump tried to enlist both Rosen and his predecessor William Barr in efforts to use the Department of Justice to discredit Joe Biden's election win, and the former acting attorney general could be able to say how close he came to succeeding.

"Rosen might also be able to say when in the timeline he realized just how serious and deliberate Trump's efforts to overturn the election really were," Sargent wrote, "and he might be able to say more about possible additional efforts by Trump or people around him to get other department officials to scrutinize other examples of supposed election fraud."

'It makes the hill harder to climb': Distress signals already emerging within GOP over sticking with Trump

Fresh off promoting a return to fiscal austerity principles, members of the House Republican Study Committee (RSC) met with Donald Trump last week to talk midterms.

The committee, whose members represent nearly three-quarters of the entire House GOP caucus, had floated an alternative budget only weeks earlier that was chock full of rewarmed Ryan-era ideas about cutting government spending to the bone. Still, their meeting with profligate GOP spender Trump went just peachy according to RSC chair Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana.

"He was all about the future," Banks told Politico of Trump's forward-thinking approach to the midterms. "It was not focused on the past."

Nothing but unicorns and rainbows, folks.

But the truth is, Trump's toxic effect on party politics at the state and federal level is already roiling the GOP, and we're starting see signs of that everywhere. Just over a week ago, Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri reverted to a practice that Republicans developed during the Trump-era amid efforts to reach a leader who never listened to his advisers—he made an entreaty to Trump on the airwaves.

"He could be incredibly helpful in 2022 if he gets focused on 2022 and the differences in the two political parties," Blunt said of Trump, on NBC's Meet The Press.

And who could miss Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week telling Fox News that Trump "has his own agenda" when it comes to the midterms?

Then there's the GOP candidates who are clearly scared out of their wits over what Trump could do to the party's electoral hopes in 2022 given that he continues to be obsessed with relitigating his 2020 election loss, which he called "the crime of the century" just last month.

"He should have learned from what happened in Georgia," said one GOP lawmaker, who represents a purple district but obviously didn't want to risk Trump's ire by going on the record. "He cost us Georgia by focusing on the election."

The words "should have" appear to be the operative part in that sentence.

"If Trump focused on Pelosi and Biden's policy failures, he would help us. If it's about election fraud and sour grapes from 2020, it will hurt us," the GOP lawmaker added.

Again, the word "if" is telling and not particularly hopeful from a Republican lawmaker who was likely speaking more frankly based on being granted anonymity.

The lawmaker acknowledged that Trump's 2020 grievances animate the base, but said it's not particularly helpful when it comes to retaking the majority—presumably in more swingy districts.

"We may be able to still win the majority, but I think it makes the hill harder to climb."

In other words, in the eyes of a purple-district House Republican, Trump could be more of a liability to the GOP in the midterms than a boon.

Not exactly unicorns and rainbows, folks.

How Trump made being a psychopath fashionable

My friend and colleague on SiriusXM radio, Dean Obeidallah, reminded me yesterday when we were chatting on his show that he pointed out last week that "air rage" incidents have exploded this year. He wrote a great op-ed about it for CNN here.

This article was originally published at The Hartmann Report

The FAA says there have been 2900 reports of air rage since the first of the year, and 2200 of those involved people becoming enraged over mask requirements.

And we're not just seeing it on airplanes. Road rage is up, people challenging (and, yesterday, murdering) retail workers is up, even mass shootings are up right now.

Dean correctly points out that a lot of this has to do with wearing masks, and Donald Trump set the tone for the nation in ridiculing them and even ridiculing candidate Joe Biden for wearing one, saying it made him look "weak."

Other commentators point to the confluence of stressors hitting Americans right now ranging from having spent a year in lockdown to fear of illness to a devastated economy that has destroyed the lives of tens of millions of Americans.

These are all excellent points, and all are no doubt highly causal to today's situation.

But what concerns me beyond what may be a transient mask kerfuffle is that Trump didn't just set the tone for defying authority or generally acting like an asshole. The truly deadly thing he did, in and to our society, was to put down the psychopath marker and use it to call together his neurological tribe.

About 1% of Americans are psychopaths, although such people tend to be concentrated in some areas: as many as 12% of major corporate CEOs are believed to be psychopaths, and about 15% of people in prison.

A psychopath, for all practical purposes, believes that he's quite literally the only "true human being" on planet Earth.

Everybody else is an actor of some sort, a prop, in the grand play of the psychopath's life. Everybody else is here to make him happy and meet his needs, and he doesn't have to worry about hurting them or not meeting their needs because they are not "real people" like he is.

The clinical terminology is that psychopaths "lack the ability to feel empathy." Weirdly, this lack of empathy can make them more successful in big business and in criminal and prison environments.

This defines Donald Trump, as numerous mental health professionals have pointed out over the past few years on my show, in numerous books and articles, and across other media.

When Donald Trump was just a corrupt real estate developer in New York his psychopathy only damaged the people in his immediate circle: his family, the people who did business with him, and people he fleeced like students for Trump University or contractors he refused to pay.

But when he became president, he became our nation's "father." This can't be emphasized enough; in the US the president is both head of government (like Prime Minister Johnson) and head of state (like Queen Elizabeth). The president thus sets the tone for the country and establishes the norm for how a person with privilege and power is expected to behave.

And Americans have a history of emulating our presidents, from FDR's enthusiasm to JFK's haircut to Bush's war fever.

It's sort of like how you can generally predict that the kid who cheats at the high school football game, gets caught, and goes off on a loud, profane against the referee is going to have a parent who taught him those behaviors.

Thus, Trump's presidency has massively empowered the psychopaths among us. The people who, if their life had taken just a slightly different turn at some point, would today be a member of a prison gang or a CEO. They recognize themselves in him and are empowered by him.

As president, Trump made being a psychopath fashionable, and his fellow psychopaths across the nation are having a huge coming-out party.

This is how Trump has unleashed a wave of newly-empowered psychopaths who are now rapidly rising up through Republican political and judicial ranks, pushing the non-psychopaths out of the way (as psychopaths are wont to do), and generally terrorizing the American public.

Elderly people who've spent their lives volunteering or working as election workers are getting phone calls telling them that they will soon die a slow and painful death if they don't quit and turn their jobs over.

People who dare have a Biden/Harris bumper-sticker on their car or a Pride flag in their window find themselves the victims of vandals, arsonists and worse.

Asian Americans, including elderly Asian Americans, are increasingly victims of these Trump-psychopathy fueled individuals chanting Trump's racist virus epithet.

Teachers simply trying to explain the simple history of America are on the receiving end of not just death threats, but a loss of livelihood that could leave them homeless and without healthcare.

Trump's tribe of psychopaths are finding each other on social media and coming together in armed groups, plotting their revenge against a society they feel has unfairly tried to constrain their selfish impulses and behaviors.

The last time this happened in a major western nation was 1933, when Adolf Hitler — another high-functioning psychopath — took over leadership of Germany. For a republic, having a psychopath at the top of leadership is extraordinarily dangerous and usually leads to the psychopath so corrupting the political process that democracy is badly damaged or even destroyed and replaced with oligarchy or fascism.

Joe Biden is doing a great job of showing the country what a "normal parent" politician is like, but a large handful of psychopaths with major rightwing media platforms continue to stir Trump's tribe in order to get higher ratings and make money.

And the more money these performers make for their psychopathic CEOs, the more they're rewarded for this insanely destructive behavior.

At some point, hopefully, the fever will break. It will probably take a disaster of some sort, the way it took the 1996 mass shooting in Tasmania to wake up Australians enough to institute rational gun control and re-stabilize their society.

Ideally that scenario can be avoided, but as long as the awesome, multi-billion-dollar radio and TV media infrastructure conservatives have built over the past 40 years continues to crank up the heat, the pot will continue to boil until it explodes.

'I didn't take an oath to defend Trump': This conservative South Carolina Republican is now branded a 'traitor'

Although some Republicans in Congress have had the courage to condemn former President Donald Trump for the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building — including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — many other Republicans are afraid to say one word against Dear Leader. Republicans in red states who stand up to Trump are likely to face an aggressive GOP primary challenge, and the political future of Rep. Tom Rice — who voted to impeach Trump following the January 6 attack — is the focus of an article by Washington Post reporter Marianna Sotomayor.

Rice is not known for being a Never Trumper. The South Carolina Republican was very pro-Trump in the past, but after the January 6 insurrection, he finally drew the line.

Sotomayor explains, "As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rice helped draft what became the party's hallmark 2017 tax cut legislation. He supported building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He supported Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods. He defended Trump during his first impeachment, saying, 'He has been the target of an astounding barrage of lies, deceit, and corruption.' And he objected to certifying the 2020 election results from Pennsylvania and Arizona that Trump falsely said were fraudulent. But on January 13, Rice shocked Washington and voters…. He voted to impeach Trump on charges he incited the deadly January 6 attack on the Capitol."

The South Carolina congressman, now 63, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. After Trump lost to now-President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, Rice promoted the Big Lie — and in December 2020, he signed an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's appalling lawsuit that tried to throw out the democratic election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

But on January 6, Rice finally had an attack of conscience. And after he voted in favor of Trump's second impeachment, the South Carolina GOP voted to formally censure him. On top of that, Rice is facing GOP primary challenges in the 2022 election.

The congressman told the Post, "It was very clear to me, I took an oath to defend the Constitution. I didn't take an oath to defend Donald Trump. What he did was a frontal assault on the Constitution."

Rice jokingly added, "What do you call somebody who votes with Trump 99% of the time? A traitor."

One of the things that turned Rice against Trump on January 6, he told the Post, was a tweet attacking then-Vice President Mike Pence. Trump tweeted that Pence didn't have "the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution."

The Post quotes Rice as saying, "To me, that is completely despicable…. For him to be calling Mike Pence a coward and him sitting at the White House surrounded by Secret Service and tweeting while Mike Pence is in the middle of all that, and he's a coward? Give me a break…. If the president, by force, can intimidate Congress into voting their way, then we might as well do away with Congress and hand it over to a king. What he did, in my mind, is what dictators do."

A staggering number of GOP cultists think Trump will be reinstated as president this year: poll

I'll never understand why anyone listens to Donald Trump on any subject. He wanted to nuke hurricanes. He wanted to put alligator-filled moats along the southern border. He thinks windmills cause cancer, asbestos is swell, and exercise is bad for you. He seriously suggested pumping our bodies full of UV light and disinfectant. He thinks we have planes that are literally invisible, for God's sake!

Nevertheless, millions of Trump fans have bent their brains into pretzels trying to make his doofus proclamations sound presidential—or even marginally nonsimian (see also: hydroxychloroquine).

We've pretty well established that Trump's brain is, at best, masticated circus peanut and, at worst, Lucifer's molten boom-booms, and yet when he dry-heaves utter batshit nonsense, plenty of his fans seem all too ready to lick it up like feral purse poodles.

Case in point: Fully 29% of Republicans think Donald Trump is returning before the year is out—possibly riding in on a cloud or a flaming chariot or (more likely) a golf cart with a cupholder and custom-installed deep fryer.

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll asked survey respondents this straightforward question: "How likely do you think it is that former President Donald Trump will be reinstated as U.S. President this year, if at all?" The question was no doubt included in the poll because Trump himself has been telling insiders that he thinks he'll be back in office by August. (Narrator: He won't.)

The results? (You still have time to bail if you've had your yearly quota of frothing insanity. You're still here? Okay, gird your loins.)

Among Republicans surveyed, 17% think it's "very likely" that Trump will return to the White House this year, 12% think it's "somewhat likely," and 10% don't know or have no opinion. Taken together, this shows that two-fifths of Republicans have not yet accepted that Joe Biden won the presidency.

Of course, that wasn't the only eye-opening result. Asked whether things are going in the right direction in the U.S. or on the wrong track, only 15% of Republicans thought things were going in a positive direction, while 85% said we're veering off course. Guess 85% of Republicans prefer raging pandemics and collapsing economies to Democratic presidents.

Is this what it's like to lick hallucinogenic toads for breakfast in lieu of frosted Pop-Tarts? At some point, do you just surrender to the unreality of your environment?

Over at Civiqs, even more Republicans report they're worried; a stunning 93% of card-carrying GOPers think we're all gonna die.

If you enjoy watching Donald Trump eat the Republican Party from within, like a genetically modified tropical eyeball worm, you'll be happy to know that the Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 80% of Republicans want to stick around so they can see him play either a major (59%) or a minor role (21%) in the party going forward. If you'd prefer he stay in Florida chucking oyster shells at flamingos from his balcony, you'll likely be disappointed by the 13% of Republicans who want him to slink away.

There's also some good news, of course. President Biden's approval rating is at 53% among all registered voters, with 28% of respondents "strongly" approving of the job he's doing, 25% "somewhat" approving, 43% disapproving, and the rest offering no opinion.

Meanwhile, 66% of registered voters want Congress to pass an infrastructure bill—so maybe we should get that done, huh?

There's still some sanity left in the world, so long as you look in the right place. And that right place is clearly nowhere in the vicinity of the right wing. I invite Republicans to hurry on back to planet Earth. The water's fine. At least it is for now—unfortunately, only 12% of Republicans consider passing a bill to address climate change a "top priority."

Go figure.

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