MACON, Ga. — Racing to squeeze more support from heavily Republican rural areas, President Donald Trump promised a “red wave” would crush Democrats in November and touted his administration’s agricultural programs at an outdoor rally that underscored Georgia’s tight race for the White House.Throughout his Friday speech to more than 1,000 supporters packing a Macon airport, Trump said he had no doubt Georgia would remain in the GOP column in November, despite polls showing Joe Biden threatening to become the first Democrat to carry the state since 1992.The president sprinkled his remarks with s...
When now-Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was competing with Republican Martha McSally in Arizona's 2018 U.S. Senate race, she ran as a centrist — criticizing parts of then-President Donald Trump's MAGA agenda yet praising a famous Arizona conservative: the late Sen. John McCain. Sinema is still decidedly centrist in her views, and some of her critics argue that she is unnecessarily dogmatic in her centrism — especially when it comes to the Build Back Better Act of 2021. Such dogma is the target of a biting editorial published by New Jersey's NJ.com website on October 24.
In the piece, NJ.com's editorial board attacks Sinema for hurting Biden's economic plans, saying, "Kyrsten Sinema won her U.S. Senate seat largely by blaming an incumbent for supporting 'huge tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations,' and vowing to help a Democratic majority roll back the Trump tax cuts, 83% of which benefit the top 1%. Yet now, she has rejected any tax hike on corporations or high earners to pay for President Biden's 'Build Back Better' package, and that alone could tank the entire agenda."
Sinema and another centrist Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have made it clear that they believe the Build Back Better Act's $3.5 trillion price tag is much too high, and President Joe Biden obviously realizes that parts of it will need to be cut in order to get Sinema and Manchin to vote for it."
NJ.com's editorial board observes, "The massive legislative package — and with it, the $1 trillion infrastructure bill — cannot pass without the votes of the inscrutable Arizonan and fellow holdout Sen. Joe Manchin, and nobody is sure how the pay-fors will be worked out. But one difference worth noting is this: Manchin has explicit, articulated objections to the bill, works to moderate it, and supports repealing the Trump tax cuts. Sinema won't allow Biden to raise the top income tax rate from 37% to 39.6 and the corporate rate from 21% to 28, and she won't say why adding debt is better than making the wealthy pay their fair share."
NJ.com's editorial board points out that a new term has been coined by lawmakers on Capitol Hill: Sinema Verité.
"Along the way," the editorial board writes, "she seems to relish her role as chaos agent, and since returning from a recent fundraiser in Paris, the White House has slashed the bill to pieces almost daily, trying to get her on board…. She reportedly killed the provision to lower prescription drug prices…. She demanded that they whack $100 billion off the bill's climate programs…. They have a new term for it in Washington: Sinema Verité. It's bringing the house down, and not in a good way."
NJ.com published, with its editorial, a recent segment from MSNBC's Chris Hayes criticizing Sinema for butchering the Build Back Better Act. Watch the video below:
Chris Hayes To Kyrsten Sinema: What Are You Doing Here? www.youtube.com
QAnon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) on Monday fumed after a Rolling Stone report linked her to the planning of the January 6th "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C that preceded the Capitol riot.
In an interview with the Daily Caller, Greene railed against Rolling Stone for not naming their sources, even though using anonymous sources is a common practice in journalism.
"They're talking about their sources and sources and quoting sources, but not giving names, so that just reminds me of the whole Russian collusion lie, and the type of language that Adam Schiff uses when he's talking about sources," Greene fumed. "The whole thing is their same playbook. Make up a story, publish it, then all the other outlets rinse and repeat."
Although the report claimed Greene was involved in planning the demonstration ahead of the riot, it did not claim that she knew of or advocated for pro-Trump demonstrators planning to violently storm the Capitol building.
The most explosive claim in the report revolved around Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who allegedly promised demonstrators that Trump was planning to give them a blanket pardon for an unrelated ongoing investigation if they continued to protest the 2020 election results.
Gosar, however, similarly denied the Rolling Stone story and described it to the Daily Caller as "categorically false and defamatory."
There is one thing Republicans are in fierce agreement on: gutting democracy by preventing people from voting — or having their votes counted — and setting the GOP up so that it "wins" elections, even though more Americans want Democrats as leaders. But underneath this agreement are rising tensions over what that push against democracy should look like.
Donald Trump and the more Trumpist wing of the GOP favor a brash approach, based on hyping lies about "stolen" elections, promulgating conspiracy theories about fake ballots and hacked voting machines, and defending the January 6th insurrectionists as martyrs for a just cause. The more institutional Republicans, on the other hand, are becoming warier of this shameless approach.
As I detailed at Salon last week, some of the more institutionalist Republicans have been trying to rewrite the Big Lie. They long for anti-democratic propaganda that is subtler, less embarrassing, and — most importantly — gives them cover within the mainstream media for their radical authoritarian views. The most recent gambit is an attempted redefinition of "rigged election," claiming it's not in reference to the more outlandish conspiracy theories, but to the get-out-the-vote donations by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, which are portrayed as somehow sinister. It's a hysteria based in racism, but it gives conservatives something factual to point to — Zuckerberg did give money to pro-democracy groups — to justify the non-stop ranting about "rigged" elections. The strategy is very much like what's going on with schools, where the teaching of of slavery and Jim Crow in history is used as a pretext for paranoid screaming about "critical race theory."
Republican propagandists want to have their "rigged election" cake, but be able to pretend to be serious people in mainstream politics. Trump and some of his most loyal apparatchiks, however, are not having it.
Last week, Bill O'Reilly interviewed Trump for his misnamed "No Spin" show and tried to get Trump to parrot back the more mainstream-friendly "Zuck bucks" rewrite of the Big Lie. Trump stubbornly refused to play along.
"This is the real rigged election," O'Reilly insisted, referring to Zuckerberg's financial support of pro-democracy groups. "It wasn't voter machine fraud or dead people—"
Trump — whose jaw visibly tightened when he realized that O'Reilly was trying to sell this softer take on the Big Lie — interrupted.
"It was everything," he insisted, clearly not ready to have his over-the-top lies about a "stolen" election replaced with this limp whining about a garden variety get-out-the-vote effort.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, one of the biggest "stolen election" conspiracy theorists, is also none too happy about the efforts to launder the Big Lie. On a recent episode of his "Frank" show, Lindell responded to this O'Reilly interview with Trump by yelling, "The machines were the big steal" and insisting that "O'Reilly's delusional."
Also in the "just keep telling the unvarnished version of the Big Lie" camp is Steve Bannon, despite recently being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer a subpoena issued by the January 6 commission. He's been hosting Lindell on his show, where Lindell keeps telling wild stories about how homes with only two residents somehow voted 20 times. Bannon himself is pushing claims that Democrats plan to "steal" the gubernatorial election in Virginia, prepping his listeners to reject any outcome where Democrat Terry McAuliffe beats Republican Glenn Youngkin.
But while Bannon seems unruffled by the threat of actual jail time for his seditious behavior, other Republicans have reason to worry both about the legal and electoral consequences of the raw, uncut form of the Big Lie.
New reports from the Washington Post and the Rolling Stone have started to expose how much conspiring there was by Trump's allies prior to the January 6 riot, making it clear that there was nothing spontaneous or accidental about Trump's speech that incited an angry crowd to storm the Capitol that day.
John Eastman, the Federalist Society lawyer whose scheme to overturn the election was the fuel that inspired the Capitol riot, is clearly concerned that he might actually face a consequence or two for his role on the attempted coup. He is now saying it was "crazy" to think it was a "viable strategy" to demand that Vice President Mike Pence vacate the election results and turn the 2020 election over to Trump, which is exactly what the insurrectionists were trying to force Pence to do. But Eastman is, quite literally, the guy who came up with this "crazy" idea, wrote a memo for it, and worked with Trump's allies in a "war room" at a D.C. hotel for weeks, in an effort to make this "crazy" scheme happen.
The reason that Eastman, O'Reilly and other more traditional Republicans are eager to rewrite the history of the Big Lie and the insurrection is not mysterious. The reporting on the coup's "war room" and Bannon being held in contempt shows that the January 6 commission may not be as toothless as they hoped it would be. There's a real possibility that the extent of the conspiracy will be revealed. There is even, however faint, a possibility of legal consequences for the participants. In addition, it's widely believed in GOP circles that the insurrection is turning off moderate voters, who would be inclined to vote for the GOP, so long as they didn't think doing so would be tantamount to supporting a literal fascist uprising.
But Trump, Lindell, and Bannon are right to think that the GOP base doesn't want a watered-down revisionist history of the Big Lie and the insurrection. The base wants their conspiracy theories simple and overt, and they want the insurrection celebrated, not shoved down the memory hole. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post got a taste of this reality over the weekend when he attended a Virginia rally for Youngkin that he initially thought would be a little more tasteful than the stereotypical "MAGA gathering" because the "attendees were professionals" and some even "wore North Face." But when one looked past the bland exterior of the country club Republicans, it was a sea of mini-Lindells and mini-Bannons.
"But even here in the upscale suburbs, Republican rallygoers I buttonholed overwhelmingly accepted the 'big lie' about the 2020 election and expected fraud in the gubernatorial election, too," Milbank writes, noting, "If Republicans subscribe to the 'big lie' here, then it prevails everywhere."
This is the dilemma facing Republicans going into the 2022 midterms. Many leaders desperately want to put a "moderate" face on the party, making it palatable to suburban voters who find the politics of insurrection unsettling or distasteful. But, in doing so, they run the risk of turning off their own voters, who are done with what they see as pussyfooting and are ready to embrace a more flagrantly fascistic approach. Who will win the struggle depends on both the midterm elections and how serious the January 6 commission gets about holding those behind the insurrection accountable. But right now, I wouldn't bet against Trump and his crew of unabashedly seditious conspiracy theorists.
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