These GOP governors saw their approval plummet after fighting vaccine requirements: report

Some Republican MAGA governors have not only been slamming President Joe Biden for his vaccine/COVID-19 testing mandate — they have also been forbidding school districts or private businesses from having vaccine or mask requirements for their adult employees. That type of thing plays well with the MAGA crowd, but in Politico, reporter Lisa Kashinsky stresses that some GOP governors are seeing their poll numbers fall after fighting vaccine requirements.

"From Florida to Texas to South Dakota, GOP governors have been on the front lines of the war against vaccine mandates, barring immunization requirements in their states and threatening to fight President Joe Biden's federal vaccine mandate in court," Kashinsky explains. "Just last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott flat-out banned vaccine requirements, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis followed up by vowing to sue the Biden Administration. But new research shows governors in states without vaccine mandates — or where they've outright prohibited such a requirement — have 'significantly lower' approval ratings for their handling of COVID-19.

Not all Republican governors have been handling the COVID-19 crisis badly. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, for example, have always taken the pandemic seriously — and they have never promoted dangerous anti-vaxxer or anti-masker views or engaged in COVID-19 denial. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, pandering to their MAGA base, have downplayed the severity of a pandemic that has killed more than 4.9 million people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The COVID States Project reports that 52% of Americans approve of their governors' handling of the pandemic. But Kashinsky reports, "That coronavirus approval rating drops to 42% for governors in states with no vaccine requirements. And it takes yet another hit — dropping to just 36% — in states where governors have barred vaccine mandates."

Alauna C. Safarpour, who is with the Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy and is among the Covid States Project's researchers, told Politico, "Our findings really suggest that individuals in our survey were rewarding these governors who took proactive steps to combat the pandemic, and they were punishing governors who prohibited public health policies that would combat the pandemic like vaccine mandates."

Trump’s obsession with 2020’s election could lead to a 'disaster' for Republicans -- according this GOP governor

Almost a year after President Joe Biden's decisive victory over former President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, Trump continues to make the false and debunked claim that the election was stolen from him because of widespread voter fraud. Most Republicans are afraid to publicly disagree with Trump's bogus claim, and some are outright promoting it. But one right-wing conservative Republican who believes that Trump's claims could hurt the GOP in the 2022 midterms is Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Trump, in an official statement, recently said, "If we don't solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in '22 or '24." And Hutchinson believes that such talk could prove to be a "disaster" for his party in next year's midterms.

During a Sunday, October 17 appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," the 70-year-old Hutchinson told host Chuck Todd, "Relitigating 2020 is a recipe for disaster in 2022. Let's talk about the future. The election is past. It's been certified. The states made decisions on the integrity of each of their elections and made improvements where need be. It's about the future. It's not about the last election. And those kind of comments are not constructive."

Hutchinson continued, "We could win in 2022, and we're going to. But let's focus on the important issues of our supply chain, of getting over this pandemic, about freedom and not the last election."

Hutchinson, who serves as chairman of the National Governors Association — a position previously held by former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat — was first elected governor of Arkansas in 2014 and reelected in 2018. Because Arkansas has gubernatorial term limits, Hutchinson cannot seek a third term next year. And the frontrunner in the GOP's 2022 Arkansas gubernatorial primary is Sarah Huckabee Sanders, daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Trump's second of former White House press secretaries.

Judge orders Trump to give a videotaped deposition

One of the many lawsuits that President Donald Trump has faced involves a September 2015 rally outside of Trump Tower in New York City, where a group of Mexican protesters say they were assaulted. And a judge in the Bronx, Doris Gonzalez, has ordered Trump to sit for a videotaped deposition in connection with the lawsuit, according to ABC News.

The lawsuit, which alleges that Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric encouraged violence, names not only Trump, but also, his 2016 presidential campaign and Keith Schiller, who was his head of security in 2015.

Judge Gonzalez declared, "Donald J. Trump shall appear for a deposition October 18, 2021 at 10 a.m.... or, in the event of illness or emergency, on another mutually agreed to date on or before October 31, 2021."

When Trump was running for president in 2016, he drew a great deal of criticism from immigrants' rights groups for describing Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and "criminals." And the lawsuit alleges that such rhetoric encouraged violence like the assault outside Trump Tower.

'We'll never know how close we came': Journalist lays out dark details of Trump's attempted election theft

When reporters for major news organizations covered the aftermath of the United States' 2020 presidential election, they knew they were witnessing something that was unprecedented in U.S. history — and not in a good way. Never before had a lame duck president lost an election by more than 7 million votes only to falsely claim that he really won. Former President Donald Trump was unable to overturn the 2020 election results, but in a Washington Post column published this week, opinion writer Aaron Blake asks, "So, just how close did we come to an actual stolen election — stolen by Trump?"

"The picture of Donald Trump's scheme to get the Justice Department to help him overturn the 2020 election has been significantly filled out in recent weeks," Blake explains. "First came the disclosure that conservative lawyer John Eastman had authored a memo outlining the steps by which this would take place on January 6. Then came a major report from the Senate Judiciary Committee detailing Trump's pressure campaign to get the Justice Department to lay a predicate for that January 6 plot. One thing has become pretty clear in recent weeks: This plot was foiled in large part because the Justice Department and Vice President Mike Pence opted not to go along with it."

It might've played out differently, Blake noted, if Trump had had more compliant leadership at the Department of Justice (or a more malleable vice president). By Jan. 6, Bill Barr had already resigned as attorney general in part because of his disputes with Trump about the election. It just so happened the Jeffrey Rosen wasn't more willing to go along with the "plot" as acting attorney general.

The United States' systems of checks and balances held up in late 2020 and early 2021 thanks, in part, to Republicans who resisted pressure from Trump and his lawyers to help him overturn the election results. Blake points out that "Eastman's plan relied upon something, come January 6, that the Trump team didn't have: alternate slates of pro-Trump electors in the states at issue."

"Congress overturning an election is one thing; Congress overturning an election in which the given state legislatures hadn't even designated alternate slates of pro-Trump electors or legitimized the controversies in their states would be quite another," Blake notes.

Blake continues, "Eastman, in recent interviews explaining himself, emphasized that the plot would have been 'foolish' without those state legislatures designating alternate electors. That's certainly convenient for him to say now, as he's downplaying just how brazen the plot was. But it does reinforce how many pieces needed to fall into place for the plot to work. We'll never know how close we came to that being truly tested. But as we continue to sort through what became of January 6, it's worth taking stock of what a few more pieces falling into place might have meant — and the pressure points in our democracy they reveal."

Paul Krugman: 'Increasingly radical' Republicans are scaring businesses in GOP-led states

For generations, the GOP has pushed itself as the "pro-business party." But when MAGA Republicans take extremist measures in states they control — voter suppression, opposing vaccine requirements and public safety measures during a pandemic — it makes a compelling argument for operating businesses in blue states. And liberal economist Paul Krugman, this week in his New York Times column, argues that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other GOP governors are frightening businesses with their "radicalism."

Krugman explains, "Big business is overwhelmingly in favor of requiring that workers get vaccinated against COVID-19. A recent CNBC survey of chief financial officers found that 80% of them say they 'totally support' the Biden Administration's plan to impose a vaccine-or-test mandate on companies with more than 100 workers — and many companies have already announced vaccination requirements for their employees. Yet Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, just issued an executive order banning vaccine mandates in his state. That is, he's not just refusing to use his own powers to promote vaccination; he's interfering in private decisions, trying to prevent businesses from requiring that their workers or customers be vaccinated."

The GOP and large corporations, Krugman notes, were joined at the hip for many years.

"Republicans have been closely allied with big business since the Gilded Age, when a party originally based on opposition to slavery was in effect captured by the rising power of corporations," Krugman notes. "That alliance lost some of its force in the 1950s and 1960s, an era in which the GOP largely accepted things like progressive taxation and strong labor unions, but came back in full with the rise of Ronald Reagan and his agenda of tax cuts and deregulation."

But thanks to the "rise of Trumpism," Krugman adds, "Republican politicians are at odds with Corporate America on crucial issues."

"It's not just vaccines," Krugman observes. "Corporate interests also want serious investment in infrastructure and find themselves on the outs with Republican leaders who don't want to see Democrats achieve any policy successes…. Just to be clear, corporations aren't being good guys. They support vaccine mandates and infrastructure investment because they believe that both would be good for their bottom lines."

In the past, Krugman writes, businesses "could live with a bit of craziness" from Republicans "so long as they got their tax cuts and deregulation. But "Trumpism," according to Krugman, has made the GOP's "craziness" much worse.

"The conflict between the GOP and corporations is a striking new turn in American politics," Krugman emphasizes. "And I wonder if some corporate leaders find themselves asking, in the privacy of their own minds, 'My God, what have we done?' For the truth is that the Republican Party has been growing increasingly radical — and decreasingly rational — for a long time."

In other news, former President Donald Trump could soon be off the hook in the Stormy Daniels payoff case — and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is disgusted. WATCH:

Trump could soon be off the hook in Stormy Daniels case — and Michael Cohen is 'disgusted' youtu.be

How a top Trump aide 'inadvertently' revealed the 'essential truth' about the GOP: columnist

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is among the Republicans who has been subpoenaed to testify before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's select committee on the January 6 insurrection, but former President Donald Trump has urged him to refuse. Meadows discussed the committee Tuesday night during an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, and liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent slammed his comments as exemplifying the anti-democracy mindset that is so common in today's Republican Party.

Sargent, this week in his column, explains, "Meadows…. dismissed the January 6 committee's core mission…. Republicans have broadly renounced any obligation of any kind to hold actors on their side accountable for the effort to overturn U.S. democracy, first through corrupt and possibly illegal procedural means and then through mob violence."

During the interview, Sargent notes, Meadows and Ingraham "sneered at" the idea that extremists on the far right pose a "threat to democracy."

"Just look at that sneering at the very idea that Trumpists would undermine faith in our elections," Sargent observes. "How preposterous! Except just this weekend, Trump reiterated his stolen election lie, and the No. 2 House Republican refused to say the 2020 outcome was legitimate."

Sargent adds, "We just learned that a Trump lawyer authored a coup memo urging Vice President Mike Pence to ignore federal law to throw the election to Trump, and that Pence actually did entertain that scheme. Yet for Meadows, none of this is worth learning more about."

The fact that Meadows doesn't see the need for Pelosi's committee on January 6, Sargent stresses, shows how little Republicans care about the wellbeing of democracy in the United States.

"Meadows, apparently, doesn't want us to learn more about the full insurrectionist intentions of Trump and other co-conspirators — which likely include Republican lawmakers — or about the degree to which Meadows himself might have been one of those co-conspirators," Sargent writes. "Needless to say, a party this deeply committed to the absolute exoneration of Trump by definition does not see this effort to overthrow U.S. democracy as worthy of any national reckoning."

He concluded: "Meadows inadvertently captured an essential truth: The notion that a sustained effort to overthrow U.S. democracy requires a real reckoning and response has indeed become exclusively the Democratic Party position. But what does that say about the GOP?"

'It is statistical fact': A journalist fires back after Justice Alito singled him out for criticism

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, nominated by President George W. Bush in 2005, recently complained that those who view the High Court as overly politicized are wrong — and he cited journalist Adam Serwer as an example of someone who is promoting that wrong-headed view. But Serwer, in an article published by The Atlantic this week, argues that Alito only succeeded in proving his point.

The 71-year-old Alito, during a speech at Notre Dame University in September, took issue with those who view the Supreme Court as "a dangerous cabal" that is "deciding important issues in a novel, secretive, improper way, in the middle of the night, hidden from public view." And Alito claimed that it was "false and inflammatory" for Serwer to have said that the Roe v. Wade decision had been nullified by Texas' new anti-abortion law, which the court allowed to go into effect — much to the disappointment of the law's critics.

"Alito's speech perfectly encapsulated the new imperious attitude of the Court's right-wing majority, which wants to act politically without being seen as political, and expects the public to silently acquiesce to its every directive without scrutiny, criticism or protest," Serwer writes. "As if oblivious to the irony, Alito's office set ground rules barring media outlets from transcribing or broadcasting in full the speech at the University of Notre Dame, in which he delivered his complaint."

The Supreme Court's decision to let the Texas law stand — at least for now — appeared on its "shadow docket," which Serwer describes as "the emergency orders that the Court issues outside the regular process of review with limited briefing and without oral arguments — and thus, without the typical degree of attention from the public or the justices themselves."

Alito, during his Notre Dame speech, objected to the media's use of the term "shadow docket." But Serwer argues that Alito has no one but himself to blame for the term's "negative connotations."

"The term shadow docket was coined by a former (Chief Justice John) Roberts clerk six years ago; it is not an invention of Alito's Lügenpresse," Serwer notes. "The negative connotations it has more recently assumed are entirely a product of the Court's selective use of the mechanism to make sweeping decisions and deliver rapid victories to right-wing causes."

Serwer compares part of Alito's Notre Dame speech to former President Donald Trump's attacks on the media.

"The Supreme Court is making greater use of emergency orders in that it is issuing them more frequently, in more significant and lasting ways, and with outcomes that favor the right," Serwer observes. "This is not a matter of opinion; it is statistical fact. It is also an argument raised by the other justices on the Court in their dissents to the Texas decision. Alito's Trump-like broadside against the media, in other words, was also a means of mocking his own colleagues, while insisting that the Court is not partisan and that the justices are not political. He can do this, I would add, because the 6–3 conservative majority on the Court means he is unlikely to ever need their votes."

In other news, a pro-Donald Trump religious sect — which worships with AR-15s — has purchased 130 acres on a mountaintop in Tennessee which they intend to turn into a "training center." WATCH:

MAGA-loving 'Church of the AR-15' purchasing massive Tennessee retreat for 'training center' youtu.be


'You should be ashamed': Far-right GOP congresswoman slammed for attacking Pelosi and Pope Francis as 'communists'

On Saturday, October 11, Pope Francis met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — and far-right Rep. Claudia Tenney of New York, in response, called both of them "communists."

The MAGA Republican and Donald Trump apologist, tweeting a photo of Pelosi and Pope Francis together, wrote, "Just two communists."

Tenney is being slammed for her comment on Twitter.

Here are some of the comments in response to Tenney's tweet:





Big pharma and drug lobbyists are 'courting' Kyrsten Sinema as the 'lead blocker' on pricing reform: report

It is no coincidence that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is often mentioned in the same sentence as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Sinema and Manchin are among the Democrats who have the most conservative voting records in the U.S. Senate. And according to Guardian reporters Andrew Perez and David Sirota, that fact isn't lost on lobbyists for pharmaceutical companies.

In an article published by The Guardian on October 11, Perez and Sirota report, "In the current Congress, big pharma appears to have zeroed in on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat from Arizona, as one of their lead obstructionists to help kill or gut the Democrats' drug pricing plan. In the 2020 election cycle, pharmaceutical political action committees suddenly funneled more money to her than they did the whole six years she served in the U.S. House."

The 45-year-old Sinema, a Tucson native, served in Arizona State Legislature before serving three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. But when she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018, defeating Republican nominee Martha McSally, it marked the first time she won a statewide race for a position in the federal government. In the Joe Biden era, Sinema is a swing vote who can make or break Democratic bills — and progressive Democrats view Sinema as an obstacle to their hopes of reducing drug prices in the United States.

Perez and Sirota explain, "It's clear now that the pharmaceutical industry has been courting Sinema for some time. Indeed, in March 2021, as pharmaceutical PAC money was flooding into her campaign coffers, drug lobbyists were already bragging to Beltway reporters that they may have found their lead blocker in Sinema."

The Arizona senator, according to Perez and Sirota, "has studiously avoided giving the public any details about where she stands on virtually any of the policy proposals in Democrats' reconciliation legislation — refusing to speak with activists, reporters, or even other Democratic lawmakers."

In the past, Sinema campaigned on lowering drug prices in the United States — where people pay a lot more for prescription drugs than residents of European countries. But in 2021, Perez and Sirota report, big pharma views Sinema as a possible ally.

"Over the course of her career," the Guardian reporters note, "Sinema has accepted more than $500,000 from executives and PACs in the pharmaceutical and health products industries, according to data from OpenSecrets. By March 2021, big pharma wasn't just quietly funneling money to Sinema; the industry was publicly signaling that the senator could be its lead blocker in the fight to prevent the government from negotiating drug prices."

Multi-millionaire evangelical megachurch pastor returns $4.4 million in PPP loans

Joel Osteen is a multi-millionaire, but that didn't stop him from taking full advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program in 2020. The New York Daily News, however, reports that Osteen has returned the $4.4 million it received in PPP loans.

Osteen, who operates Lakewood Church in Houston, generated a lot of controversy when he took that PPP money — as the Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help small businesses that were struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And Lakewood is not a small business; it is a megachurch with hundreds of employees.

The New York Daily News' Theresa Braine explains, "The loans are meant for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, but the coronavirus funds were distinguished by the number of religious institutions that took advantage of the funds. In Texas alone, more than 1000 religious groups got money from the federal program, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported last December."

Osteen, Braine notes, has a reported net worth of $100 million and drives a Ferrari.

The Lakewood pastor has been a leading proponent of what is known as "prosperity theology" or "the prosperity gospel" in evangelical Christianity. It teaches that the rich are rich because God has blessed them, and prosperity theology — which equates affluence with morality and poverty with immorality — is highly controversial among Christians.

Critics of prosperity theology argue that its celebration of greed and materialism is unbiblical, pointing to quotes from the Holy Bible such as "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24) and "the love of money is the root of all evil" (Timothy 6:10).

'Official dogma of his party': Fact checker busts GOP for 'trying to paint Trump as a victim of the attempted coup'

Donald Trump was the first president in United States history who lost his bid for reelection only to falsely claim that the election was stolen from him because of widespread voter fraud, and many Republicans in Congress have been willing to go along with the Big Lie. CNN's John Berman called out two of them, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, during an October 11 broadcast of the morning show "New Day."

Berman, who hosts "New Day" with his CNN colleague Brianna Keilar, told viewers, "(Trump's) rewritten history is now practically the official dogma of his party — and his lies, the accepted reality of his party."

To illustrate his point, Berman showed interviews with Scalise and Grassley — who appeared with Trump at a MAGA rally in Iowa on Saturday, October 9. The following day, Scalise was interviewed by Fox News' Chris Wallace.

Wallace, one of the few people at Fox News who asks MAGA Republicans tough questions, bluntly asked Scalise, "So, you think the election was stolen?" — and Scalise jumped through hoops to dodge the question. Berman slammed that interview as "Minority Whip Scalise perpetuating a lie about 2020." And he went on to show a clip of the 88-year-old Grassley being interviewed by Newsmax TV and defending Trump's refusal to accept the 2020 election results.

Berman told viewers, "On the Senate side, 88-year-old Chuck Grassley is the Republican establishment. On his decades-long career, no one would have called him a radical — until now…. Grassley is trying to paint Trump as a victim of the attempted coup when in fact, it was Trump himself driving it."

Berman noted, "Trump asked the Justice Department nine times to undermine the election results. He successfully got his White House staff to help pressure — he tried to pressure secretaries of state to not certify the election. He then attacked them, including Republicans…. Trump also tried to pressure state legislatures in key battleground states. Then he tried to get the courts to overturn the election results based on bogus conspiracies."

The "New Day" host continued, "A Trump lawyer wrote a blueprint. He wrote it down, outlining how Mike Pence could overturn the election. And speaking of Pence, Trump publicly and loudly tried to get his vice president to decertify the election on January 6. And then, the mob showed up. It is worth noting Trump is still spouting these conspiracies, including at the rally that Grassley attended and participated in."

Watch the video below:

CNN coup www.youtube.com

Journalist wonders 'how dumb' America can get during a pandemic 'and still survive'

As much as there is to criticize about Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the right-wing Republican senator made perfect sense when he recommended getting vaccinated for COVID-19 during a recent speech at a GOP event in his state. But anti-vaxxers in the crowd responded by booing, jeering and heckling him, and liberal Washington Post opinion writer Eugene Robinson — discussing that embarrassing incident in his October 8 column — poses the question, "How dumb can a nation get and still survive?"

It's a perfectly legitimate question in light of the fact that Graham, in August, was infected with COVID-19 — which, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has killed more than 4.8 million people worldwide, including over 710,000 in the United States. Graham had been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 but was infected anyway; he was an example of what medical experts call a "breakthrough" case. However, it wasn't a really serious or life-threatening infection; the senator didn't need to be hospitalized and was never on a ventilator — and during his speech in South Carolina, he attributed the vaccine to the fact that his case of COVID-19 wasn't more serious.

But anti-vaxxer wingnuts didn't want to hear that, and they responded by booing him loudly.

Robinson writes, "COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease that has killed more than 700,000 Americans over the past 20 months. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines all but guarantee that recipients will not die from COVID. I have, or had, an acquaintance who refused to get vaccinated, despite pleas from his adult children to protect himself. He got COVID-19, and it killed him. Most of the deaths the nation has suffered during the current Delta variant wave of the disease — deaths of the unvaccinated — have been similarly needless and senseless."

The Post columnist points out that Graham, unlike his unvaccinated acquaintance, is still very much alive — and he slams the booing of Graham by anti-vaxxer Republicans as "just plain stupid."

Robinson writes, "How did we become, in such alarming measure, so dumb? Why is the news dominated by ridiculous controversies that should not be controversial at all? When did so many of our fellow citizens become full-blown nihilists who deny even the concept of objective reality? And how must this look to the rest of the world?"

The booing of Graham isn't the only example of "droolingly stupid" behavior by Republicans that Robinson calls out in his column — he also slams Republicans who play "frequent games of chicken" with the United States' debt ceiling, obsess over Critical Race Theory and promote the Big Lie.

"Conservatives in state legislatures across the country are pushing legislation to halt the teaching of 'Critical Race Theory' in public schools," Robinson explains. "I put the term in quotes because genuine Critical Race Theory, a dry and esoteric set of ideas debated in obscure academic journals, is not actually being taught in those schools at all. What's being taught instead — and squelched — is American history, which happens to include slavery, Jim Crow repression and structural racism."

Robinson adds, "I get it. The GOP has become the party of white racial grievance, and this battle against an imaginary enemy stirs the base. But the whole charade involves Republican officials — many of them educated at the nation's top schools — betting that their constituents are too dumb to know they're being lied to. So far, the bet is paying off. And then, of course, there's the whole 'stolen election' farce, which led to the tragedy of January 6."

How Trump continues to be a major thorn in Mitch McConnell’s side

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — unlike outright Never Trumpers such as attorney George Conway, former GOP strategist Rick Wilson and Washington Post columnists George Will and Max Boot — doesn't go out of his way to criticize former President Donald Trump. Whatever he may or may not be saying behind closed doors, the Kentucky Republican generally keeps his thoughts about Trump to himself. But there is obviously no love lost between Trump and McConnell, and an article by journalist Eric Lutz for Vanity Fair Lutz describes some ways in which Trump continues to be a major thorn in McConnell's side.

During an October 7 appearance on Fox News, Trump criticized McConnell's handling of the United States' debt ceiling and told Sean Hannity, "The Republican Senate needs new leaders. Mitch is not the guy. Not the right guy. He's not doing the job."

Lutz stresses that Trump's criticism of McConnell isn't really policy-related but rather, reflects the fact that Trump holds a grudge against him for criticizing him after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building.

"Trump's frustration with McConnell almost certainly has less to do with the debt ceiling and more to do with the criticism he faced from the senator after the January 6 insurrection," Lutz explains. "McConnell didn't go to bat for him in his second impeachment trial earlier this year and rebuked him in a floor speech, and Trump has been trying to oust him ever since."

One thing Trump won't be able to do in 2022 or 2024 is threaten McConnell with a GOP primary challenge. McConnell was reelected to the U.S. Senate in 2020, defeating Democratic opponent Amy McGrath in Kentucky — and he won't be up for reelection again until 2026. Trump, however, can run around telling his devotees that McConnell shouldn't be Senate minority leader.

"But McConnell is also a bizarre target for Trump's rage," Lutz observes. "He wound up voting against impeachment, and he did more to advance Trump's despicable agenda during his presidency than just about anybody. Trump, though, is a sucker for appearances, and the idea that McConnell would take even a performative stand against him or make a strategic concession to Democrats is too much for him to process."

How Trump continues to be a major thorn in Mitch McConnell’s side

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — unlike outright Never Trumpers such as attorney George Conway, former GOP strategist Rick Wilson and Washington Post columnists George Will and Max Boot — doesn't go out of his way to criticize former President Donald Trump. Whatever he may or may not be saying behind closed doors, the Kentucky Republican generally keeps his thoughts about Trump to himself. But there is obviously no love lost between Trump and McConnell, and an article by journalist Eric Lutz for Vanity Fair Lutz describes some ways in which Trump continues to be a major thorn in McConnell's side.

During an October 7 appearance on Fox News, Trump criticized McConnell's handling of the United States' debt ceiling and told Sean Hannity, "The Republican Senate needs new leaders. Mitch is not the guy. Not the right guy. He's not doing the job."

Lutz stresses that Trump's criticism of McConnell isn't really policy-related but rather, reflects the fact that Trump holds a grudge against him for criticizing him after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building.

"Trump's frustration with McConnell almost certainly has less to do with the debt ceiling and more to do with the criticism he faced from the senator after the January 6 insurrection," Lutz explains. "McConnell didn't go to bat for him in his second impeachment trial earlier this year and rebuked him in a floor speech, and Trump has been trying to oust him ever since."

One thing Trump won't be able to do in 2022 or 2024 is threaten McConnell with a GOP primary challenge. McConnell was reelected to the U.S. Senate in 2020, defeating Democratic opponent Amy McGrath in Kentucky — and he won't be up for reelection again until 2026. Trump, however, can run around telling his devotees that McConnell shouldn't be Senate minority leader.

"But McConnell is also a bizarre target for Trump's rage," Lutz observes. "He wound up voting against impeachment, and he did more to advance Trump's despicable agenda during his presidency than just about anybody. Trump, though, is a sucker for appearances, and the idea that McConnell would take even a performative stand against him or make a strategic concession to Democrats is too much for him to process."

'American fascism': A disturbing event will bring together gun nuts, Trumpians and a Pennsylvania doomsday church

Freedom Festival is a far-right event held in Greenley, Pennsylvania and organized by a combination of fringe Christians and gun manufacturers. The speakers at this year's event will include former National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, and according to Daily Beast reporter Jose Pagliery, their presence at Freedom Festival underscores the ever-increasing radicalization of the Republican Party.

"Few Americans are even aware that the gun company Kahr and a rural Pennsylvania doomsday church — both run by the same ultra-rich Korean family — hold an annual 'Freedom Festival' that attracts gun enthusiasts and the type of people who attach 'Don't Tread on Me' flags to the back of their trucks," Pagliery explains in an article published on October 8. "But in the wake of the failed January 6 insurrection, the event's amalgamation of sovereign citizens and alt-truthers has taken on a new meaning. And now, it's even got an all-star lineup."

Ryan Busse, a former gun industry executive, warns that the presence of a former NRA spokesperson at Freedom Festival is "legitimizing" extremism.

Busse told the Beast, "It's going to send a message across the country that this is normal, that this is OK. This is American fascism being developed right before our eyes. This is like 1936 Germany in a symposium."

Busse went on to say, "The one that concerns me the most is Dana Loesch. She's treated by gun consumers like royalty, and here she is legitimizing this insanity. That scares me."

Busse finds Freedom Festival's combination of religious extremism, guns, conspiracy theories and Trumpism to be incredibly toxic.

The former NRA member told the Beast, "It's what I fear: anything that will gin up people to buy more guns, hate people more, and vote for people like Trump. It's all of that on steroids. Doesn't the Klan meet in the dark out back behind uncle's barn? This is right out in the open."

'American fascism': A disturbing event will bring together gun nuts, Trumpians and a Pennsylvania do youtu.be

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