Michelle Cottle | Marjorie Taylor Greene Apologized and Got a Standing Ovation. Seriously. – The New York Times

“The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, issued a plaintive plea to his troops on Wednesday: Can’t we all just get along?

Congressional Republicans had two delicate items on their midweek to-do list involving the possible punishment of their own members:

1. Vote on whether to oust from leadership Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the chamber’s No. 3 Republican, over her vote to impeach Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Ms. Cheney had asserted on the eve of impeachment, provoking wrath among Trump loyalists.

2. Decide whether to strip committee assignments from Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the conspiracy theory-embracing, race-baiting freshman from Georgia, who, pre-Congress, spent her time on social media indulging right-wing rants about killing prominent Democratic officials and agents of the so-called deep state.

In the matter of Ms. Cheney, Republicans declined to bow to their Trumpian cultists. During a conference meeting in the bowels of the Capitol Wednesday, Ms. Cheney refused to apologize for backing impeachment, even when members of the Freedom Caucus accused her of “aiding the enemy.” After some four hours of debate, the conference voted decisively, 145 to 61, to keep her as its chairwoman. That the balloting was secret enabled some of the more spinally challenged members to vote their conscience.

Credit…J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

With Ms. Greene, the party’s fringe carried the day. Mr. McCarthy issued a statement assuring the public that the poison conspiracy theories she had peddled “do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference.” And Ms. Greene apologized to colleagues for some of her battier statements and for putting the conference in a tough political spot. For this, she received a standing ovation.

In the end, Republicans refused to take any concrete action against her. They instead left it to the full House to vote Thursday on a resolution put forward by Democrats to remove Ms. Greene from two committees. The House voted 230 to 199 to do so, with 11 Republicans voting with Democrats.

This dodge allowed Mr. McCarthy to denounce the move as a “partisan power grab” by Democrats, while he and others hawk the usual slippery-slope gibberish. If they come for Ms. Greene today, they warn, what’s to stop them for coming for other Republicans tomorrow?

On the surface, these moves — or lack thereof — appear to pull in different directions. But they have the shared aim of preserving the fraying ties between the party’s angry, Trumpist base and its more traditional wing. “We need to unite for us to take the majority and govern,” Mr. McCarthy reportedly urged in defending Ms. Cheney.” . . .

“Deliberation is a wonderful thing. But among the pile of already established facts are videos of Ms. Greene holding forth on some of the most unhinged fictions percolating on the internet. In her social media postings, she has even endorsed the “frazzledrip” conspiracy theory. Warning: Do not Google that one if you have a weak stomach.”

I dared to google, What is the frazzledrip conspiracy, and I wish I hadn’t. It is real story about an insidious lie, that investigators found a video on Anthony Weiner’s laptop of a girl being mutilated. From the U.S. Sun, a British tabloid?:

“The fake report claimed that the video allegedly shows Hillary Clinton and her former aide Huma Abedin, Weiner’s ex-wife, raping and mutilating a young girl.

At the end of the so-called video, the girl bleeds out before Clinton and Abedin drink the blood during a Satanic ritual sacrifice.

Hundreds of YouTube videos, each with thousands of views, are dedicated to the violent and untrue conspiracy theory, according to Vox.”

To repeat, there is no such video, and the people who pass on such stories, like Marjory Taylor Green, now in congress, are sick and dangerous. She apologized profusely, and her GOP colleagues gave her a standing ovation?

Paul Krugman | The G.O.P. Is in a Doom Loop of Bizarro – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…L.E. Baskow/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Here’s what we know about American politics: The Republican Party is stuck, probably irreversibly, in a doom loop of bizarro. If the Trump-incited Capitol insurrection didn’t snap the party back to sanity — and it didn’t — nothing will.

What isn’t clear yet is who, exactly, will end up facing doom. Will it be the G.O.P. as a significant political force? Or will it be America as we know it? Unfortunately, we don’t know the answer. It depends a lot on how successful Republicans will be in suppressing votes.

About the bizarro: Even I had some lingering hope that the Republican establishment might try to end Trumpism. But such hopes died this week.

On Tuesday Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, who has said that Donald Trump’s role in fomenting the insurrection was impeachable, voted for a measure that would have declared a Trump trial unconstitutional because he’s no longer in office. (Most constitutional scholars disagree.)

On Thursday Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader — who still hasn’t conceded that Joe Biden legitimately won the presidency, but did declare that Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack on Congress — visited Mar-a-Lago, presumably to make amends.

And the fringe is consolidating its hold at the state level. The Arizona state party censured the Republican governor for the sin of belatedly trying to contain the coronavirus. The Texas G.O.P. has adopted the slogan “We are the storm,” which is associated with QAnon, although the party denies it intended any link. Oregon Republicans have endorsed the completely baseless claim, contradicted by the rioters themselves, that the attack on the Capitol was a left-wing false flag operation.

How did this happen to what was once the party of Dwight Eisenhower? Political scientists argue that traditional forces of moderation have been weakened by factors like the nationalization of politics and the rise of partisan media, notably Fox News.” . . .

This is what Krugman wrote last week while he was hitting his head.  Yesterday, the GOP got a bit saner.  The voted in secret ballot to keep Liz Chaney in leadership, and 13 brave souls joined all the Democrats to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee appointments in the house. 

‘Trump Just Used Us and Our Fear’: One Woman’s Journey Out of QAnon – The New York Times

Last week there were many articles I wanted to share from the NYT. I put it all off to get other stuff done, but this one news report haunted me. I had learned so much about some of the Trump supporters who embraced QAnon, which is mysterious source for a collective of conspiracy theories. Is Q an agent of the Russian FSB, formerly called the KGB? Q is doing a great deal to undermine the foundations of our democracy.

“. . . The theories can be malevolent, causing real-life damage to people who end up in their cross hairs: the parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook mass shooting who have been harassed by conspiracists, or a Washington pizza restaurant shot up by a man who had come to take down a child trafficking ring he believed was housed inside. Q sweatshirts dotted the crowd that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

But while much has been said about how people descend into this world, little is known about how they get out. Those who do leave are often filled with shame. Sometimes their addiction was so severe that they have become estranged from family and friends.

The theories seem crazy to Ms. Perron now, but looking back, she understands how they drew her in. They were comforting, a way to get her bearings in a chaotic world that felt increasingly unequal and rigged against middle-class people like her. These stories offered agency: Evil cabals could be defeated. A diffuse sense that things were out of her control could not.

The theories were fiction, but they hooked into an emotional vulnerability that sprang from something real. For Ms. Perron, it was a feeling that the Democratic Party had betrayed her after a lifetime of trusting it deeply.

Her immigrant family, from the former Yugoslavia, were union Democrats in working-class Detroit who had seen their middle-class lifestyle decline after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. As an inspector for the insurance industry, she spent decades in factories seeing union jobs wither. Still, she stayed with the party because she believed it was fighting for her. When Bernie Sanders became a presidential candidate she found him electrifying.

“He put into words what I couldn’t figure out but I was seeing around me,” said Ms. Perron, who is now 55. “The middle class was shrinking. The 1 percent and corporations having more control and taking more of the money.”

She felt sure the Democratic establishment would back him, and she began volunteering for his campaign, meeting many new friends in the movement. But she felt that the news media was barely covering him. Then he lost the 2016 primary. When she began reading through leaked emails that fall, it looked to her like the party establishment had conspired to block him.” . . .

What We Learned from Trump’s Effort to Overturn the 2020 Election Results – The New York Times

“For 77 days between the election and the inauguration, President Donald J. Trump attempted to subvert American democracy with a lie about election fraud that he had been grooming for years.

New York Times examination of the events that unfolded after the election shows how the president — enabled by Republican leaders, advised by conspiracy-minded lawyers and bankrolled by a new class of Trump-era donors — waged an extralegal campaign that convinced tens of millions of Americans the election had been stolen and made the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol almost inevitable.

Interviews with central players, along with documents, videos and previously unreported emails, tell the story of a campaign that was more coordinated than previously understood, even as it strayed farther from reality with each passing day.

Here are some key takeaways:

77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election – The New York Times

“By Thursday the 12th of November, President Donald J. Trump’s election lawyers were concluding that the reality he faced was the inverse of the narrative he was promoting in his comments and on Twitter. There was no substantial evidence of election fraud, and there were nowhere near enough “irregularities” to reverse the outcome in the courts.

Mr. Trump did not, could not, win the election, not by “a lot” or even a little. His presidency would soon be over.

Allegations of Democratic malfeasance had disintegrated in embarrassing fashion. A supposed suitcase of illegal ballots in Detroit proved to be a box of camera equipment. “Dead voters” were turning up alive in television and newspaper interviews.

The week was coming to a particularly demoralizing close: In Arizona, the Trump lawyers were preparing to withdraw their main lawsuit as the state tally showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. leading by more than 10,000 votes, against the 191 ballots they had identified for challenge.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you all for this superb accounting. So much to do, to try and clean up this disaster. I hope it becomes a priority of the Biden administration to bring back the Fairness Doctrine for all journalism and social media, that was abolished by Ronald Reagan. I keep forgetting what exactly this docrtrine is, so here is a brief reminder:
“FCC fairness doctrine From Wikipedia,
The fairness doctrine of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, was a policy that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC eliminated the policy in 1987 and removed the rule that implemented the policy from the Federal Register in August 2011.[1] The fairness doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented. The demise of this FCC rule has been considered by some to be a contributing factor for the rising level of party polarization in the United States.[2][3]

The men behind QAnon – ABC News

Who is Q? (No one knows for sure)

“The two Americans most clearly associated with the author of thousands of “Q drops” dating back to October 2017 are James Arthur Watkins, 56, who gained control in 2015 of the controversial anonymous message board 8chan, and his son, Ronald Watkins, former 8chan administrator and current administrator of its successor, the Watkins-owned 8kun.

Since 2001, Watkins has been living in the Philippines, according to Philippines immigration records obtained by ABC News.

“If he’s not ‘Q’ himself, he can find out who ‘Q’ is at any time,” said Fredrick Brennan, the creator of 8chan and Watkins’ former business partner.

“And he’s pretty much the only person in the world that can have private contact with ‘Q.’ He’s the only person that — through the board that ‘Q’ started on 8chan – can send ‘Q’ a direct message and get into private contact with basically the leader of this political cult that everybody wants to hear from right now.”

Brennan created 8chan in 2013 when he was living in New York City, he said, after dreaming up the idea during a trip on psychedelic mushrooms.

He moved to Manila in 2014 to work with James and Ron Watkins and in 2015 he cut a deal that turned over ownership of the site to the elder Watkins. He continued to work on other Watkins projects until 2018 before splitting entirely and to date remains embroiled in a bitter personal dispute with the family.

Watkins and his son, Ron, who have previously denied being “Q,” declined repeated ABC News interview requests and did not reply to a subsequent list of questions from ABC News submitted through his U.S. attorney and in letters delivered to his home and businesses in Manila.”

Source: The men behind QAnon – ABC News

Thomas B. Edsall | ‘The Capitol Insurrection Was as Christian Nationalist as It Gets.’ – The New York Times

“Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality. He has written extensively about the rise of the political right and the religious right.

Credit…Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

“It’s impossible to understand the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol without addressing the movement that has come to be known as Christian nationalism.

Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry, professors of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the University of Oklahoma, describe Christian Nationalism in their book “Taking America Back for God”:

It includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy and heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control and militarism. It is as ethnic and political as it is religious. Understood in this light, Christian nationalism contends that America has been and should always be distinctively ‘Christian’ from top to bottom — in its self-identity, interpretations of its own history, sacred symbols, cherished values and public policies — and it aims to keep it this way.

In her recent book, “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism,” Katherine Stewart, a frequent contributor to these pages, does not mince words:

It is a political movement, and its ultimate goal is power. It does not seek to add another voice to America’s pluralistic democracy, but to replace our foundational democratic principles and institutions with a state grounded on a particular version of Christianity, answering to what some adherents call a ‘biblical worldview’ that also happens to serve the interests of its plutocratic funders and allied political leaders.

This, Stewart writes, “is not a ‘culture war.’ It is a political war over the future of democracy.”

Stuart A. Thompson | Three Weeks Inside a  – The New York Times

“As President Biden’s inauguration ticked closer, some of Donald Trump’s supporters were feeling gleeful. Mr. Trump was on the cusp of declaring martial law, they believed. Military tribunals would follow, then televised executions, then Democrats and other deep state operatives would finally be brought to justice.

These were honestly held beliefs. Dozens of Trump supporters spoke regularly over the past three weeks on a public audio chat room app, where they uploaded short recordings instead of typing. In these candid digital confessionals, participants would crack jokes, share hopes and make predictions.

“Look at the last four years. They haven’t listened to a thing we’ve said. Um … there’s going to have to be some serious anarchy that goes on. Otherwise, nothing is going to change.”

I spent the past three weeks listening to the channel — from before the Jan. 6 Washington protest to after Mr. Biden’s inauguration. It became an obsession, something I’d check first thing every morning and listen to as I fell asleep at night. Participants tend to revere Mr. Trump and believe he’ll end the crisis outlined by Q: that the world is run by a cabal of pedophiles who operate a sex-trafficking ring, among other crimes. While the chat room group is relatively small, with only about 900 subscribers, it offers a glimpse into a worrying sect of Trump supporters. Some conspiracists like them have turned to violent language in the wake of Mr. Trump’s electoral loss.

“If the Biden inauguration wants to come in and take your weapons and force vaccination, you have due process to blow them the [expletive] away. Do it.”

From Navy SEAL to Part of the Angry Mob Outside the Capitol – The New York Times

“In the weeks since Adam Newbold, a former member of the Navy SEALs, was identified as part of the enraged crowd that descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6, he has been interviewed by the F.B.I. and has resigned under pressure from jobs as a mentor and as a volunteer wrestling coach. He expects his business to lose major customers over his actions.

But none of it has shaken his belief, against all evidence, that the presidential election was stolen and that people like him were right to rise up.

It is surprising because Mr. Newbold’s background would seem to armor him better than most against the lure of baseless conspiracy theories. In the Navy, he was trained as an expert in sorting information from disinformation, a clandestine commando who spent years working in intelligence paired with the C.I.A., and he once mocked the idea of shadowy antidemocratic plots as “tinfoil hat” thinking.

Even so, like thousands of others who surged to Washington this month to support President Donald J. Trump, Mr. Newbold bought into the fabricated theory that the election was rigged by a shadowy cabal of liberal power brokers who had pushed the nation to the precipice of civil war. No one could persuade him otherwise.”

Deeply disturbing story. It actually left me with virtigo.  Here are the two most popular comments, which helped me grow more calm and centered.

RickNYC
Brooklyn3h ago
Times Pick

There is a real tendency in this country to automatically apply hero status to anyone in uniform. Here in New York, post 9/11 cops were afforded hugely outsized reverence, regardless of who the individual was behind the badge. This aura only grows when describing somebody as well trained and disciplined as a Navy Seal. That rare position has mythical status, automatically exalting the person. It is dangerous to forget that, regardless of rank or title, these are just people. People can be susceptible. People can be prone to fantasy, or delusions. I secretly reject the automatic hero status & credibility these titles impart, because it lets bad apples off the hook. Maybe this guy is a Seal, but to me he’s a dangerously well trained conspiracy theorist who should be regarded as such, full stop.

14 Replies1107 Recommended
 
 
ChristineMcM commented 3 hours ago

 

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts3h ago
Times Pick

““I tried to reason with him, show him facts, and he just went nuclear.”” Almost one third of the country thinks like this. There’s a fine line between patriotism in the original sense of the word, and fascism. All it takes is a desire to believe. The Trump phenomen is nothing new, as Eric Hoffer wrote seventy years ago in “The True Believer.” The question is, in a fractured society like ours, what are we going to do about all the Adam Newbolds out there? We’re moving from isolated malcontents like the perpetrator of the Oklahoma bombing to a true mass movement dominated by one party so cutlike and outrageous that it’s chilling it’s growing so fast. A free democratic society can’t exist when there’s no common ground on what constitutes reality.

4 Replies698 Recommended

Opinion | Parler and the Far Right’s Ever-Evolving Digital Ecosystem – The New York Times

Candace Rondeaux and 

Ms. Rondeaux is a senior fellow with the Center on the Future of War. Ms. Hurlburt directs New Models of Policy Change at New America.

Credit…Kevin Van Aelst

“Since the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol in Washington, right-wing extremists on social media continue to glorify violence, draw new adherents and forge fresh plans for mayhem. This ominous activity presents an urgent threat to the security and social cohesion of the United States.

But there is another, less obvious takeaway: Experts know — or can know — an enormous amount about the nature and evolution of the threat.

Data sleuths have combed through a 70 terabyte cache of data from Parler, the now-defunct social media platform popular among the far right. Researchers have archived and mapped millions of these ethically hacked posts, wrangled by an anonymous, purportedly Austria-based hacker. The haul — potentially bigger than the WikiLeaks data dump of the Afghan War logs and the Democratic National Committee leak, combined — includes valuable evidence and planning of further attacks, mixed in with the private data of individuals who committed no crimes (along with quite a bit of pornography). The early takeaways are terrifying: According to at least one preliminary analysis, the frequency of hashtags on Parler referencing hanging or killing duly elected members of Congress more than doubled after the November elections.

Until the nation reckons with the self-inflicted wounds stemming from an under-regulated, unreformed social media information architecture, President Biden’s calls for healing and national unity won’t produce substantial, lasting results. The new administration needs a long-term plan to confront the escalating threat, as far-right insurgents migrate from one platform to the next.”