By Paresh Dave (Reuters) -YouTube on Saturday suspended multiple Russian channels, including state-funded media outlet RT, from generating revenue on the video service, following a similar move by Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. Citing "extraordinary circumstances," YouTube said in a statement that it was "pausing a number of channels’ ability to monetize on YouTube, including several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions." Videos from the affected channels also will come up less often in recommendations, YouTube spokesperson Farshad Shadlo...
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Last weekend, the criminal former president got his groove back. He said that the US Constitution ought to be terminated. No, really.
“A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude,” Donald Trump wrote, “allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”
This is nothing but sour grapes, yet Trump’s critics couldn’t help themselves. That says more about them than it does Trump, and that’s good information. It’s a good reminder that most Americans, with encouragement from the Republicans, believe the Constitution stands above democratic politics, as if untainted by human sin.
The opposite is reality, though.
The Constitution has been used for achieving political ends just like anything else that’s politically useful. Those ends might be empowering democratic politics to expand liberty, equality and happiness. Those ends might be stopping democratic politics from challenging the status quo. Alas, that’s more often the case.
Yet we cling to it as if we’d surely perish without it – as if a piece of paper were the only thing standing between the people and tyranny. It isn’t. Believing otherwise is foolish. We should put faith in the outcomes of democratic politics, not things said to stand above it.
Oh, the outrage!
On the one hand were conservatives who don’t want Trump to run in 2024. Here's the Post’s Marc Thiessen: “This is many things, but it’s not conservatism. Respect for the Constitution and its original meaning is the bedrock of the modern conservative movement … For someone seeking the Republican presidential nomination to call for the Constitution’s termination is nothing short of heresy.”
On the other were Trump’s critics saying see see tolljah! The Post’s Jennifer Rubin: “In a healthy democracy with two sane, stable and pro-democratic parties, it never would have come to this.”
Neither side seems to understand the truly radical thing about Trump’s statement, which is this: nothing, not even the United States Constitution, is untouchable. Nothing is or should be immune to democratic politics. In denouncing him, critics want him to stop acting politically. But Trump understands politics never stops.
Sorry, not sorry, he’s right.
Granted, this is pretty extreme, even for Trump. It’s not everyday you hear a former Republican president belittle what most Republican voters believe is a sacred text akin to the Ten Commandments.
But it’s not extreme because most Republican voters believe it’s a sacred text. It’s extreme because it sabotages why most Republican voters say it’s a sacred text. They say that because appeals to the Constitution slow down, encumber or stop democratic politics. The more the GOP can stop democratic politics, the more they win.
Think about it.
Democratic politics is a numbers game. The more people who want X, the better chance of X becoming a reality. That includes the law, government policy and amending the United States Constitution.
The Republicans, by their nature, are a minority party. They represent mainly the very obscenely rich, religious zealots, paramilitary cranks and a smattering of intellectuals. That’s it. If politics were just about numbers, the Republican would lose.
So they have a huge incentive to bring into democratic politics, or protect what’s already there, ideas and concepts that they can present as untouchable by humans - as if they were given to us by God Himself, the unquestionable referee of politics. If God says X, it’s X, and the GOP, by some miracle, always knows what God wants.
With these ideas and concepts, the Republicans can say that we, as a government of the people, can’t do something, and by saying that we can’t do something, they are serving and protecting the orders of power that democratic politics always seeks to weaken by flattening. You can see why accusing Trump of heresy isn’t about ideology.
His heresy was giving the game away.
Does it do what we say it does?
If Trump is a heretic, so are the Supreme Court’s Six.
They have done plenty to give the game away by throwing out legal precedent, fabricating history and otherwise making things up.
As destructive as Trump has been to “constitutional conservatism,” the Six have been more so. In effect, they admit in their written opinions that the Constitution isn’t a covenant between and among consenting members of a free community. It’s a weapon of the GOP for slowing down, encumbering or stopping democratic politics.
Given that, shouldn’t we rethink what we say we believe about the Constitution? So far, not so good. A bipartisan chorus of voices rose up to defend the Constitution as if it needed defending from Trump.
New York Congressman-elect Mike Lawler told the Associated Press: “The Constitution is set for a reason, to protect the rights of every American. I think the former president would be well-advised to focus on the future, if he is going to run for president again.”
Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, went even farther, laying it on thick by saying that the Constitution “is a sacrosanct document that for over 200 years has guaranteed that freedom and the rule of law prevail in our great country. Attacking the American Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation.”
I mean, I get why the White House said this, but c’mon. The Supreme Court’s Six don’t buy that. Why should we? Does the Constitution “protect the rights of every American”? Does it guarantee “that freedom and the rule of law prevail in our great country?” Mmmm.
That’s hard to square with a new report by the Post showing that fatal shootings by police officers have increased, even as many go unreported. Does the Constitution stop police from killing people? Did the Constitution prevent police powers from killing George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and others?
In anything, the Constitution can be, and has been, used to rationalize giving agents of the state more power, even to the point of manufacturing legal immunity so they can kill even more people.
If not the Constitution, what then? What is the bulwark against tyranny? Normal, ordinary democratic politics – raising organized hell, strategic pressure on key decision makers – does more to prevent agents of the state from crushing people than much else.
What then is the White House talking as if democratic politics were bad by way of the Constitution standing above it? Part of me thinks it comes from continuing to believe people like Marc Thiessen and their bad faith. He said: “Respect for the Constitution and its original meaning is the bedrock of the modern conservative movement.”
Because its original meaning was anti-democratic.
There are 2 crimes DOJ can 'prove simply' against Trump if Jan. 6 committee makes the referral: expert
The House select committee has agreed to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice at the conclusion of their investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection, and legal experts expect Donald Trump will be one of their targets.
The panel hasn't announced who will be the subject of a referral or how many individuals will be targeted, but former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" the former president will almost certainly be recommended for prosecution on at least two charges.
"It's hard to imagine that list will not include Donald Trump," McQuade said. "We heard [Rep.] Liz Cheney give a summation where she talked about evidence that Donald Trump and others in his close associates engaged in conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of an official proceeding. Even if they don't have evidence that connects Donald Trump to the actual physical attack on the Capitol, those two crimes can be proved simply by the pressure applied on Mike Pence to try to delay and subvert the counting of the election on Jan. 6."
"I'd be really surprised if his name is not on the list," she added. "It would also include others assisting in that plot, like John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark, but, of course, remains to be seen. Now it's largely symbolic. The Justice Department will do what it wants to do, but I think it's important that symbolically this committee does give that referral to send the message to the country that this is what we found, and I think that's important for accountability purposes."
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In the end, the Big Lie 2.0 went out with a whimper, instead of the bang Donald Trump and his acolytes were clearly anticipating. For months, Trump-loyal Republican candidates for state and local offices — often those hand-picked by Trump himself — recycled his false claims that a secret cabal of Democrats had secretly created a system to "steal" elections from Republicans. Not only did MAGA superfans like Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake argue that Joe Biden had somehow stolen the 2020 from Trump, they repeatedly suggested that, should they lose in 2022, that should be presumed illegitimate as well.
This article first appeared in Salon.
There was plenty of cause for worry that all these conspiracy theories were building toward some kind of Jan. 6 redux, especially as several of these candidates had direct ties to the original assault on the Capitol. Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, wasn't just at the Capitol that day, but literally paid for charter buses to send Trump supporters to the rally that turned into an insurrection. Tim Michels, the Wisconsin Republican running against incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, promised that "Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I'm elected governor." Mark Finchem, the Republican candidate for secretary of state in Arizona, was also in D.C. on Jan. 6 and his attorney was deeply involved in the "fake elector" plot Trump hoped he could use to steal the 2020 election.
In the days before the election, Homeland Security and the FBI circulated a memo warning of a "heightened threat" of election violence that might target "candidates running for public office, elected officials, election workers, political rallies, political party representatives, racial and religious minorities, or perceived ideological opponents."
Instead what happened, for the most part, was nothing, thank goodness. Most of the Trumpy candidates seeking swing-state offices that would give them control over the 2024 presidential election lost. They complained but mostly didn't try to fight the results. And none of them actually incited violence in an effort to steal those elections. Maybe that's a modest win for democracy, but it counts.
There was one holdout. Lake, who was a local news anchor in Phoenix before becoming the MAGA-tastic candidate for governor, stood out as something special in the highly competitive field of midterm election deniers. When asked by CNN in October if she would accept an electoral defeat, Lake gave the kind of trolly answer that makes Trumpist hearts soar: "I'm going to win the election and I'll accept that result."
Well, she didn't. Lake lost that election narrowly to Democrat Katie Hobbs, the current secretary of state. Unlike most of her fellow election deniers, Lake has created a public fuss since election night and, along with Finchem, has filed a number of frivolous lawsuits seeking to invalidate or overturn the election. But although Lake certainly tried to adopt Trumpian tactics — whining incessantly and shotgunning all kinds of irrational or ludicrous litigation into court — the whole effort has felt surprisingly tepid. Even Trump's attempt to get involved, by releasing a statement demanding that Lake be "installed" as governor for some imaginary reason, did little to generate any real momentum.
On Monday, Lake's moribund coup effort fizzled out as Arizona officials certified the election in a placid document-signing ceremony, utterly free of screaming Proud Boys trying to smash in cop heads or hang election officials. Sure, Lake is trying to save face with endless tweets about a "crooked election," and still shows up to bellyache on Steve Bannon's podcast. (When does his sentence start again?) But she's almost certainly reached the end of the road. Even the two Republican-controlled counties who initially refused to certify the election finally capitulated to reality and court orders, and did their duty.
It's amusing, of course, to watch Lake flail about impotently. But it does raise an interesting question: Why has it been so difficult for the myriad mini-Trumps of the 2022 midterms to build on his Big Lie? Why was he able to make Jan. 6 happen, but none of his followers have even come close to replicating that moment on the state or local level?
It's tempting to write this off to the structural differences between a national election and smaller, more spread-out state-level elections. Trump could draw on his fame and his enormous fanbase to get attention, and also on the singular, symbolic nature of the Capitol building and nation's capital draw a big crowd in one place on one day. But that explanation leaves something to be desired, because it's also true that it would be easier, in many ways, to stage a more localized insurrection. You would only need a modest-size group in a less secure location, such as a state capitol, to pull off a violent assault on a smaller scale. Just look at how successful far-right groups have been at dominating or disrupting school boards or intimidating drag performers over the past couple of years. You wouldn't need the thousands of people Trump drew to the Capitol in January 2021 to do serious damage. A few dozen right-wing militia types — as in the Michigan lockdown protests of 2020 — would likely be enough in some places.
No, I suspect the real reason the Big Lie is failing to incite fascist violence around midterm elections is that few, if any, Republicans actually believed the Big Lie in the first place. It was always a pretext for what its proponents really want, which is a movement to replace the process by which we choose American presidents with a dictatorship, ideally led by Donald Trump himself. Installing a bunch of mini-Trumps in state offices, even for the purpose of supposedly setting Trump up to steal the 2024 election, doesn't have the emotional power of an actual, no-BS, top-down fascist revolution.
"We're not just going to call them 'election deniers.' They are MAGA fascists," Adrian Fontes, the Democratic winner of Arizona's state secretary position, said on MSNBC on Tuesday.
This distinction isn't just rhetorical flair. "Election deniers" implies that the conspiracy theory of stolen elections is the primary motivation of Trump's insurrectionist movement. But really, the conspiracy theory is just a paper-thin excuse, one which Trump and his minions barely even try to establish as a functioning narrative. Fascists, as John Ganz writes in his most recent newsletter, "believe things have gotten so bad that only a radical move to break the present regime can save the nation." Taking the White House by force is satisfying. Taking the Arizona governor's mansion, not so much.
The fascist cult leader — and in this case you know who that is — draws his power from being the avatar of all his followers' grievances, which are mostly about social and cultural issues and not really about a sincere belief in "election fraud." The anger that drew people to the Capitol on Jan. 6 had nothing to do with any genuine concerns that Democrats had corrupted the election. It was driven largely by cultural grievances: Growing racial and religious diversity. Women's increasing independence. Rap songs dominating the radio and LGBTQ characters on TV.
The Big Lie was just the excuse. The goal was to punish non-MAGA Americans by inflicting Donald Trump on them against their will.
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That anger has more recenlty been rerouted into more direct expressions of right-wing cultural resentments, which is why we're seeing attacks on Pride events and hysteria about "wokeness" or "critical race theory." Having a tantrum, or staging a riot, over Kari Lake losing her bid to be governor of Arizona simply doesn't have the same emotional resonance. Even if such a coup had been successful — a pretty big "if" in a moment when Democrats still control the executive branch of the federal government — it wouldn't have done much to address the larger complaints that fuel modern fascism. Lake talked a big game about being the media's "worst fricking nightmare," but even if she had successfully wedged herself into the governor's mansion, the "liberal coastal elite" media would still have viewed her as a backwoods novelty, rather than a real threat.
The symbolism and power of the presidency is what makes it a prize worthy of violent insurrection. A governor's seat can't hold a candle to that. That's probably the biggest reason why the MAGA movement that was ready to crack skulls on Jan. 6 didn't get out of bed to protest lost midterm elections. The good news here is that the Big Lie 2.0 failed to rile up Trump's jackass army in 2022. The bad news is that while Kari Lake fell on her face in trying to get the MAGA masses outraged on her behalf, those people could potentially be moved to violence again, if they think that means putting their true cult leader back in the White House.