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Republican Lies Pose a Danger to Democracy
The election of Joe Biden to the presidency and majorities, however tenuous, in both Houses of Congress should not be reassuring to Democrats. Remember that there is a solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court and many governorships and State legislatures remain in the hands of Republicans. Biden will try to be a president of all of the people, but that will be very difficult in view of the entrenched opposition he faces. Republicans are good at tearing things down and awful at rebuilding them because of the libertarian streak which permeates the G.O.P. and believes that the less government does, the better off the nation will be, regardless of the extent it benefits the citizenry. Reactionary Grover Norquist’s recommendation that “government be drowned in a bathtub” still appeals to many.
A recent Associated Press article addressed this situation, pointing out how this disease has spread throughout what used to be a legitimate political party, the G.O.P., but which is now no more than a haven for extreme radicalism. This is paraticularly true at the State and local levels.
Manhattan GOP chairwoman Andrea Catsimatidis,
seen in September, this month retweeted:
'Corporate America helped rig the election.'
Here is the Associated Press article:
Local GOP Leaders use Falsehoods
Some manipulate social media to gain followers
By Garance Burke, Martha Mendoza, Juliet Linderman and Larry Fenn - ASSOCIATED PRESS
A faction of local, county and state Republican officials is pushing lies, misinformation and conspiracy theories that echo those that helped inspire the violent U.S. Capitol siege, online messaging that is spreading quickly through GOP ranks fueled by algorithms that boost extreme content.
The Associated Press reviewed public and private social media accounts of nearly 1,000 federal, state and local elected and appointed Republican officials nationwide, many of whom have voiced support for the Jan.6 insurrection or demanded that the 2020 presidential election be overturned, sometimes in deleted posts or now-removed online forums.
'Sham-peachment,' they say, and warn that 'corporate America helped rig the election.' They call former President Donald Trump a 'savior' who was robbed of a second term – despite no evidence – and President Joe Biden a 'thief.' 'Patriots want answers,' they declare.
The bitter, combative rhetoric is helping the officials grow their constituencies on social media and gain outsize influence in their communities, city councils, county boards and state assemblies. And it exposes the GOP’s internal struggle over whether the party can include traditional conservative politicians, conspiracy theorists and militias as it builds its base for 2022.
This month, FBI agents visited Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan Vice President Londa Gatt to ask where she was on the day of the Capitol attack.
Gatt, a Bikers for Trump coordinator who roars, leather-vested, alongside political rallies on her Harley-Davidson, had helped organize busloads of Trump supporters to join her in Washington on Jan. 6. She says she climbed the scaffolding outside the Capitol building that day 'to take a picture of the whole view.' And she said she gladly told FBI agents that she did nothing wrong, and left the scene right away as things turned violent. Since then, Gatt has shared hashtags tied to QAnon conspiracy theories online and asked her Facebook friends who participated in Capitol intrusions to send messages directly to Trump explaining that he didn’t incite them. 'The lawyers need our help,' she posted. Gatt is among many conservatives organizing on Twitter, Facebook, Parler, Gab and Telegram and is working on a digital strategy under different monikers.'We were cheated out of our legit president, and we have no voice because our vote didn’t count,' she told The Associated Press. 'I’m getting ready to start opening up some new pages, focus on getting out people who voted against Trump and replace those with conservative Republicans.'
Working with artificial intelligence company Deep Discovery, AP also helped build a classification algorithm that matched officials to accounts on the right-wing-aligned Parler. AP reporters hand-verified each match using an archived Parler dataset provided by New York University researcher Max Aliopoulios containing 13million user profiles and 183million posts between August 2018 and Jan.10, when Parler was taken offline for several weeks. AP also surveyed officials’ use of alternate social media sites such as Gab and Telegram, whose active users have soared in recent weeks since Twitter and Facebook barred users from posting extremist content and disinformation.
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Mandi Merritt didn’t answer specific questions about the GOP officials’ rhetoric, and instead referred AP to a Jan.13 statement by Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel: 'Violence has no place in our politics. Period.' In early December, Idaho’s Kootenai County Republican Central Committee Chairman Brent Regan boosted a Parler post: 'SIDNEY POWELL’S 'KRAKEN' IS DOD CYBER WARFARE PROGRAM! WE ARE AT WAR!' Powell, a lawyer who supported Trump, called her legal strategy 'the kraken,' powerful enough to destroy Biden’s presidency. However, the Supreme Court on Monday rejected several cases related to the 2020 election filed by Trump and his allies.
Regan has continued posting on Facebook, including on Jan.16: 'The thing I object most about democrats is that they incite my base instincts to retaliate in kind.'
When AP asked about his posts, Regan said: 'My message on social media, print media, and in person is consistent. ‘Pray for serenity. Be the eye of the storm. Stay calm. Think clearly. Don’t panic. Stay peaceful while demanding integrity and honesty.’'
Some Republican officials are posting theories related to QAnon, which the FBI has called a domestic terrorism threat. And the Department of Homeland Security has warned of the potential for lingering violence from extremists enraged by Biden’s election and emboldened by the Capitol attack.
Following Trump’s acquittal in his second impeachment trial, Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, called claims the ex-president won the election 'wild myths.' Still, about two-thirds of Republicans say – contrary to all evidence – that Biden was not legitimately elected president, according to a recent poll by AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Free speech advocates say the legal definition of inciting violence is extremely narrow, and over-policing online posts could undermine democracy.
'We need to be very careful about not painting with an overly broad brush what incitement to violence is,' said Nora Pelizzari, spokeswoman for the National Coalition Against Censorship. 'We can’t allow anger at people in power to become punishable.'
In Arizona and Illinois, prominent Republicans who refused to support Trump’s bid to overturn the election have been rebuked by the state GOP and a central committee, respectively.
Earlier this month, Manhattan, New York, Republican party chair Andrea Catsimatidis retweeted: 'Corporate America helped rig the election.' Catsimatidis told AP she believes it is political officials’ duty to reach as many people as possible. 'Political leaders have influence, and the fact that I have developed a social media following is exactly what you should be doing,' she said. 'I want to make sure that I can get information out.'
(It matters not to such Republicans that the information they are passing on consists of lies.)
* * * *
Buying a Distressed Property Worked for Trump
Shrewd real estate operators are always looking for a bargain. They are always on the lookout for otherwise fine properties whose owners are in financial distress, or which are devalued for other reasons … such as the possibility of nearby construction which would affect it. They pounce on it and get it for a bargain price and figure out how to turn it around.
Go into a “dollar store,” and notice the “name brand” merchandise on their shelves carrying brand names which once carried a favorable image, but no longer do in the “real” marketplace, brands like “Sunbeam” for example. Also note the items peddled on TV carrying the “Bell & Howell” label, once renowned in many areas but now just a label owned by its successors, currently offering cheap sunglasses on TV for example.
So it is with the political organization known as the Republican Party. Once it lost its connection with the American voter because of programs which did little for them but benefit business and the wealthy greatly, it became no more appealing than the once respectable Sunbeam or Bell & Howell brand names. In 2016, its backbone was weak, and it looked like a bargain to a shrewd investor looking for a distressed, underpriced property with a historic name to acquire. (Sort of like the Doral Golf Resort in Florida, after it lost its fine reputation of earlier years, and which that investor purchased for a bargain price.)
And so that’s how Donald Trump seized the G.O.P., turning it into a party dedicated to his personal glory. And that’s what it remains today, the Trumpublican cult ... with a claim to being the party of Lincoln (which Trump might believe is a city in Nebraska or a luxury car made by Ford).
Item Added 2/28/2021
The major weapon, if not the only one, the Republicans are using to try to win elections is voter suppression.
Americans at the local level must figuratively "take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them." Every elected Republican State official should be put on notice by phone calls, emails, demonstrations, letters to local newspapers and at town meetings that voting suppression will not be tolerated.
State legislatures are where these undemocratic laws are promulgated. Examples are limitations on early voting opportunities, voting by mail, voter registration procedures, reduced numbers of "drop boxes," excessive "ID" requirements and interference with voting results by State legislatures.
It is not enough for Democrats to complain among themselves and post on sites (like this one) that Republicans never visit. Voters cannot sit idly by as their number is intentionally depleted by Trumpublican forces of evil.
Item Added 3/02/2021
For years I have had a “garden flag” standing among the plantings in front of my house. (When the sun fades it, I replace it.) Because any official American flag, even those without fifty stars, may be displayed, this is perfectly acceptable. The flag I display is the “Betsy Ross” flag with thirteen stars arranged in a circle. It has great historical significance. The American Legion’s website points out that “According to the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry, the United States flag never becomes obsolete. Any officially approved American flag, irrespective of the number or arrangement of the stars and/or stripes may continue to be used and displayed until no longer serviceable.”
|Washington Reviewing Troops -1777|
|Garden Flag in front of my home|
But not everyone fully understands this. I have been asked why I display a “Confederate” flag in front of my house. More recently, domestic terrorists, convinced by conspiratorial lies that they are the true defenders of American democracy, have displayed it prominently along with their other banners, many of which were turned into weapons when these terrorists attacked the Capitol on January 6. The former president always used innumerable flags as the backdrop when he spoke, making his connection with the flag unmistakable. Hence, in the eyes of many, displaying the flag is a sign of loyalty to a conservative political position rather than a patriotic display, not denoting any political position. I am sure that some driving by my house, seeing my flag, believe that I am a conservative Republican, since in their mind, that’s what it represents.
They are wrong. It is every American’s flag, and if there are any who do not deserve to display it, they are those whose actions show that they despise democracy, and that includes the forty-fifth president.
Item Added 3/04/2021
In "A Very Stable Genius," Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker provide tremendous insight into the mind of former President Trump. Published a few months before his defeat (still not acknowledged by him) at the polls in November, 2020, it describes the kind of person who not only should never be elected to the presidency, but should be kept out of government service at any level, at least in a democracy. Here's an example from a section dealing with his efforts to close the Mexican border, where the actions he asked be taken were clearly illegal: (page 307)
"Trump did not see the law as an impediment, a mind-set forged as a real estate developer. A developer could always just sue, battle it out in court, and negotiate some middle ground." He is further quoted as saying to then Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Neilsen, "Look, we'll get sued and then we'll work it out." (after breaking the law.)
This is enough to suggest that no one with any connection to the real estate field should ever be nominated for political office, by any party. The book's title, "A Very Stable Genius" is a statement Trump sometimes used in describing himself.
Item Added 3/06/2021
We note that among those now charged with lawbreaking in the January 6 invasion of the Capitol is a State Department employee who had a "top secret" security clearance. Unless you were a relative of the President during the past administration, like Ivanka and Jared, such clearances required extensive "vetting." That ought to have revealed his history of involvement in extreme right wing connections which should have disqualified him. I suspect that any security clearances granted during the past administration need to be reviewed. Of course, they should be removed from those no longer in government service and who still would be subject to penalties for disclosing information to which the clearance had given them access.
When I was in the Army back in the mid-1950s, my job required a relatively high security clearance. On leaving the service, and no longer having that clearance, I was made well aware of the penalties (fines and/or jail terms) which could be imposed on me with no time limit, for disclosing information to which my former clearance had given me access.