Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie — each rumored to be eyeing a presidential run — were quicker to criticize Trump.
Wednesday: Covid postPosted: November 30, 2022 Filed under: just because 12 Comments
Hello, I’ve got the Covid…in fact, everyone in my family has the Covid. So please post what you like today…it is a free day.
Tuesday Reads: Antisemitism and Extremism in the U.S.Posted: November 29, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, children, Donald Trump, just because, Twitter | Tags: anti-semitism, child abuse, child safety, Elon Musk, Holocaust denial, Kanye West, Neo-Nazis, Nicoholas Fuentes, Republicans, Ye 15 Comments
Last Tuesday, Trump hosted a dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Kanye West and and Nicholas Fuentes. West has been spouting virulent antisemitism recently, and Fuentes is a white supremacist, holocaust denier, and Hitler admirer. Trump was reportedly quite taken with Fuentes, and during the dinner said, “I like this guy. He gets me.” Public outrage built over the holiday weekend. At first Republicans were hesitant to criticize Trump for this, but yesterday some of them actually spoke out against his behavior.
The Washington Post: Pence, other Republicans issue rare rebuke of Trump over dinner with Fuentes and Ye.
Former vice president Mike Pence and numerous Republican lawmakers on Monday criticized Donald Trump for dining with the white nationalist Nick Fuentes and the rapper Ye, both of whom have a history of antisemitic remarks, marking a rare break with Trump in the upper echelons of the GOP.
Pence was most clear in his condemnation, saying in an interview with NewsNation, “President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table. I think he should apologize for it, and he should denounce those individuals and their hateful rhetoric without qualification.”
He joined several Republican senators who also directly criticized the former president in statements disavowing the dinner with Fuentes and Ye. Pence’s comments were also one of the clearest instances of the former vice president trying to set himself apart from Trump, whom he served for four years, amid the expectation that Pence will challenge Trump for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.
Christie tweeted on Saturday: “This is just awful, unacceptable conduct from anyone, but most particularly from a former President and current candidate.”
“Well, I hope, someday, we won’t have to be responding to what former President Trump has said or done,” Hutchinson said in an interview Sunday on CNN. “In this instance, it’s important to respond. … I don’t think it’s a good idea for a leader that is setting an example for the country or the party to meet with an avowed racist or antisemite.” [….]
“President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) tweeted. “These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said Trump should have “certainly” known who he is dining with, telling reporters Monday, “I totally think it’s ridiculous to be sitting down with somebody who espouses such views.” [….]
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement that she condemns “antisemitism and white supremacy” and that “the president should never have had a meal or even a meeting with Nick Fuentes.”
The public critiques of Trump were notable after years in which many Republicans remained silent as he courted extremists. Still, many stopped short of a full denouncement.
Mitt Romney delivered the harshest rebuke. From Charlie Sykes’ Morning Shots at The Bulwark:
“There is no bottom to the degree to which he’s willing to degrade himself, and the country for that matter. Having dinner with those people was disgusting,” Romney said.
“I voted to remove him from office twice… I don’t think he should be president of the United states. I don’t think he should be the nominee of our party in 2024. And I certainly don’t want him hanging over our party like a gargoyle.”
More Republican condemnations from Semafor:
“It was ridiculous,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa said.
“I just think that was a really bad idea,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D, the second-ranking Republican leader, said. “He shouldn’t have done it.”
While some lawmakers were reluctant to single out Trump by name, and many paired their statements with attacks on Democrats and reassurances they didn’t consider Trump racist, they almost all made clear he’d crossed a line. Importantly, they did what Trump would not — condemn and disavow the hate his dinner guests preached.
“There’s no room in the Republican Party for white supremacy and antisemitism,” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., a close Trump ally, said. “It’s wrong. I think Republicans should all condemn white supremacy and antisemitism.” [….]
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. called Fuentes an “ass clown” and told CNN he hoped Trump would condemn the “evil” and “disgusting” figure. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas told NBC News he was a “racist clown.”
And even some top supporters were, at minimum, willing to concede it wasn’t the best look. “There’s a lot of other people, I would think that he could have met with to help the country be stronger and go more in the right direction,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. said.
And what about Jewish Trump supporters? Jonathan Weisman at The New York Times: Jewish Allies Call Trump’s Dinner With Antisemites a Breaking Point.
For much of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, Jewish Republicans rationalized away the bigoted fringe of Mr. Trump’s coalition, arguing that the unsavory supporters in his midst and the antisemitic tropes he deployed paled in comparison with the staunchly pro-Israel policies of his administration.
But last week, Mr. Trump dined at his Palm Beach palace, Mar-a-Lago, with the performer Kanye West, who had already been denounced for making antisemitic statements, and with Nick Fuentes, an outspoken antisemite and Holocaust denier, granting the antisemitic fringe a place of honor at his table. Now, even some of Mr. Trump’s staunchest supporters say they can no longer ignore the abetting of bigotry by the nominal leader of the Republican Party.
“I am a child of survivors. I have become very frightened for my people,” Morton Klein, head of the right-wing Zionist Organization of America, said on Monday, referring to his parents’ survival of the Holocaust. “Donald Trump is not an antisemite. He loves Israel. He loves Jews. But he mainstreams, he legitimizes Jew hatred and Jew haters. And this scares me.”
Not all Republican leaders have spoken out, but Jewish Republicans are slowly peeling away from a former president who, for years, insisted he had no ties to the bigoted far right, but refused to repudiate it. Jewish figures and organizations that have stood by Mr. Trump, from Mr. Klein’s group to the pro-Trump commentator Ben Shapiro to Mr. Trump’s own former ambassador to Israel and onetime bankruptcy lawyer, David M. Friedman, have all spoken out since the dinner.
For Jews, the concern extends far beyond a single meal at Mar-a-Lago, though that dinner has become a touchstone, especially for Jewish Republicans.
“We have a long history in this country of separating the moral character of the man in the White House from his conduct in office, but with Trump, it’s gone beyond any of the reasonably acceptable and justifiable norms,” Jay Lefkowitz, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and a supporter of many of Mr. Trump’s policies, said on Monday.
For American Jewry, the debate since the dinner has brought into focus what may be the most discomfiting moment in U.S. history in a half-century or more.
“The normalization of antisemitism is here,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.
From New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg: Antisemitism’s March Into the Mainstream.
Jews are thriving in America, and even with the violent resurgence of antisemitism in the Trump era, I’ve rarely felt personally threatened, perhaps a function of my privilege. Over the last week, though, I’m reminded that well-off Jews in other times and places have also imagined that they’d moved beyond existential danger, and been wrong.
At this point, there is no excuse for being shocked by anything that Donald Trump does, yet I confess to being astonished that the former president dined last week with one of the country’s most influential white supremacists, a smirking little fascist named Nick Fuentes. There’s nothing new about antisemites in Trump’s circle, but they usually try to maintain some plausible deniability, ranting about globalists and George Soros rather than the Jews. Fuentes, by contrast, is overt. “Jews have too much power in our society,” he recently wrote on his Telegram channel. “Christians should have all the power, everyone else very little.”
Fuentes was brought to Trump’s lair by Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who was evidently serious when he threatened to go “death con 3” on the Jews last month. (The relationship with West is a bit of a coup for Fuentes, who, openly wishing for conflict between Jews and Black people, has been willing to sublimate his anti-Black racism in the service of his antisemitism.) According to Axios, at one point during the dinner Trump turned to Ye and said of Fuentes: “I really like this guy. He gets me.”
Since then, Trump has claimed he didn’t know who Fuentes was. I find this unlikely. In September, I wrote a piece about a Trump-endorsed congressional candidate named Joe Kent that mentions Fuentes in the first paragraph. Trump scrawled a note of congratulations on the print version and mailed it to Kent, who sent the image out on his email list. But even if Trump’s ignorance was sincere, he still didn’t denounce Fuentes after learning his identity.
Most Republicans, in turn, spent days declining to criticize Trump, though former Vice President Mike Pence and several senators finally spoke out on Monday. There is a good argument that politicians and journalists should avoid responding to every one of the ex-president’s provocations. In this case, however, the reluctance to rebuke Trump erodes the already-shaky taboo against antisemitism in Republican politics.
Goldberg goes on to note that “other narcissistic celebrities are now joining him in reveling in reactionary transgression.”
Ye is launching a vanity presidential campaign run by the far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who recently wrote on Telegram, “We’re done putting Jewish interests first.” After buying Twitter, Elon Musk enthusiastically welcomed both Trump and Ye back to the platform, and has been tiptoing up to the edge of antisemitism himself. On Sunday, he tweeted that Alexander Vindman, the Jewish retired Army officer who testified about Trump’s attempt to extort Ukraine’s president, is both “puppet & puppeteer,” echoing an old antisemitic trope about Jews pulling the strings behind world events. On Monday, Musk tweeted an image of the alt-right symbol Pepe the Frog.
And now Musk owns Twitter, which has become a kind of public square that is important to people, causes, and even government agencies around the world. I knew nothing about Musk until recently, when he began making noises about buying Twitter. Now it’s clear to me that he is a full-blown malignant narcissist, very similar to Trump. He appears to be on a path to turning Twitter into an unmoderated hell scape like 4chan and 8chan, where Qanon and other crazy conspiracy theories festered. Recently Musk announced that he will reinstate all of the account that were previously banned by Twitter moderators. According to NPR,
In the days after the Capitol insurrection, Twitter banned 70,000 QAnon-linked accounts for spreading the conspiracy theory. Some belonged to influencers with large followings, including high-profile Trump supporters Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn, who had also spread false claims of election fraud and had tried to get the election results overturned.
Many more accounts have been banned since then. Even more concerning, despite his claims that protecting children is important to him, Musk’s layoffs and firings have made Twitter more dangerous for children.
Wired: Layoffs Have Gutted Twitter’s Child Safety Team.
REMOVING CHILD EXPLOITATION is “priority #1”, Twitter’s new owner and CEO Elon Musk declared last week. But, at the same time, following widespread layoffs and resignations, just one staff member remains on a key team dedicated to removing child sexual abuse content from the site, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, who both requested to remain anonymous.
It’s unclear how many people were on the team before Musk’s takeover. On LinkedIn, WIRED identified four Singapore-based employees who specialize in child safety who said publicly they left Twitter in November.
The importance of in-house child safety experts cannot be understated, researchers say. Based in Twitter’s Asian headquarters in Singapore, the team enforces the company’s ban on child sex abuse material (CSAM) in the Asia Pacific region. Right now, that team has just one full-time employee. The Asia Pacific region is home to around 4.3 billion people, about 60 percent of the world’s population.
The team in Singapore is responsible for some of the platform’s busiest markets, including Japan. Twitter has 59 million users in Japan, second only to the number of users in the United States, according to data aggregator Statista. Yet the Singapore office has also been impacted by widespread layoffs and resignations following Musk’s takeover of the business. In the past month, Twitter laid off half its workforce and then emailed remaining staff asking them to choose between committing to work “long hours at high intensity” or accepting a severance package of three months’ pay.
The impact of layoffs and resignations on Twitter’s ability to tackle CSAM is “very worrying,” says Carolina Christofoletti, a CSAM researcher at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. “It’s delusional to think that there will be no impact on the platform if people who were working on child safety inside of Twitter can be laid off or allowed to resign,” she says. Twitter did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The Twitter in-house child safety team is vitally important to outside organizations who work to protect vulnerable children, because the metadata and analysis are only available inside Twitter.
Whether you love or hate Twitter, that is frightening. We’ve spent the past 7 years dealing with one narcissistic psychopath who could still run for president again. Now there’s another one in charge of the most important platform for communication with journalists, government leaders, historians, researchers, and more. Why do we do this to ourselves? That’s a topic for another day.
What do you think? What stories are you following today?
Manic Monday Reads: This is AmericaPosted: November 28, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: Gaslighting, Republican pervs, sex trafficking 12 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!
The GOP is the party of projection. They gaslight us all the time. It’s not all that ironic that I got to use Merriam-Webster’s word of the year at the top of this post, as reported by PBS Nightly News. You’ll see my point soon enough.
“Gaslighting” — behavior that’s mind manipulating, grossly misleading, downright deceitful — is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year.
Lookups for the word on merriam-webster.com increased 1,740 percent in 2022 over the year before. But something else happened. There wasn’t a single event that drove significant spikes in curiosity, as it usually goes with the chosen word of the year.
The gaslighting was pervasive.
“It’s a word that has risen so quickly in the English language, and especially in the last four years, that it actually came as a surprise to me and to many of us,” said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s unveiling.
“It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year,” he said.
There were deepfakes and the dark web. There were deep states and fake news. And there was a whole lot of trolling.
Merriam-Webster’s top definition for gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time, that “causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”
More broadly, the dictionary defines the word thusly: “The act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.”
Gaslighting is a heinous tool frequently used by abusers in relationships — and by politicians and other newsmakers. It can happen between romantic partners, within a broader family unit and among friends. It can be a corporate tactic, or a way to mislead the public. There’s also “medical gaslighting,” when a health care professional dismisses a patient’s symptoms or illness as “all in your head.”
Despite its relatively recent prominence — including “Gaslighter,” The Chicks’ 2020 album featuring the rousingly angry titular single — the word was brought to life more than 80 years ago with “Gas Light,” a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton.
It’s also a great movie from 1944.
Gas light is a 1944 American psychological thriller film directed by George Cukor, and starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten and Angela Lansbury in her film debut. Adapted by John Van Druten, Walter Reisch, and John L. Balderston from Patrick Hamilton‘s play Gas Light (1938), it follows a young woman whose husband slowly manipulates her into believing that she is descending into insanity.
We lost the late great Angela Lansbury this year on October 11th. I loved her in The Manchurian Candidate, which is also apropos viewing to accompany the last few years. It was filmed in 1962, But Gaslight was filmed during the same period that Rachel Maddow’s Ultra covered when many Republicans in the country became enamored with Hitler. Everything old becomes new again.
One of the strangest narratives and most deadly that Right Wing Republicans have come up with is that the Democratic party is rampant with “groomers” and pedophiles. This has primarily been used to attack the GLBTX community and to suggest anything that talks to the love that dares not speak its name focuses on children. This conspiracy really took off a right-wing conspiracy disinformation campaign, #PizzaGate. It has its own hashtag and just never goes away. Here’s a little review of its relevance from the SPLC. “‘There’s nothing you can do’: The Legacy of #PizzaGate.” The story is from last year.
The Washington City Paper, a small D.C. outlet, ran a story called “Alt Right Conspiracy Theorists Obsess Over Comet Ping Pong” on Nov. 6, 2016. A phone call requesting comment for the article marks the moment that restaurateur James Alefantis’ life changed.
The online disinformation campaign now known as #Pizzagate, which extremists blasted into mainstream visibility on such sites as Twitter and Reddit, targeted Alefantis with a storm of harassment and lies, falsely suggesting that liberal elites abused children in the basement of his pizza restaurant. The #Pizzagate fable ultimately inspired a man to drive across state lines from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., to “save” fictitious victims. He fired a gun inside Comet Ping Pong in December 2016, when the restaurant was full of families eating lunch. Trolls continue to target Alefantis and his staff with harassment even now, as the event approaches its fifth anniversary.
Researchers of the far right still talk about #Pizzagate, but for different reasons: #Pizzagate influenced the politically charged disinformation campaigns that followed it in significant, often underreported ways. #Pizzagate helped birth the sprawling, pro-Trump conspiracy #QAnon, which in turn led to a number of violent crimes. #Pizzagate represents a watershed moment for Trump-era extremists, and its popularity united such figures as the actress Rosanne Barr with open neo-Nazis and, potentially, the Russian government. It can be viewed as a forerunner to the so-called Big Lie, wherein millions of Americans falsely came to believe that former President Trump won reelection in 2020 but liberal elites colluded to change the outcome.
Hatewatch published a detailed analysis of Twitter’s enabling of the far right on July 7. The analysis frequently references #Pizzagate due to the degree to which once-obscure extremists who pushed those lies went on to achieve fame on the website without ever facing consequences for their actions. Hard-right disinformation peddlers such as Jack Posobiec, Mike Cernovich and Cassandra Fairbanks, who hyped #Pizzagate on Twitter, also later used the site to push lies about the 2020 election in the runup to the violent insurrection attempt on the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6. Twitter has enabled these figures for years and even recommended to readers Posobiec’s misleading content about the trial of Derek Chauvin, despite the sensitivity around the trial and his connections to the white supremacist movement.
As Vox notes, “The right’s moral panic over “grooming” invokes age-old homophobia. “Groomer” accusations against liberals and the LGBTQ community are recycled Satanic Panic.” This is from last April.
A renewed moral panic, stoked by the far right and trickling into mainstream conservatism, has come on the heels of an abrupt shift in the fight for gay rights in America. Following the recent passage of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law and a wave of other homophobic and transphobic legislation throughout the country, current right-wing rhetoric has focused on accusations of “grooming.” The term — which describes the actions an adult takes to make a child vulnerable to sexual abuse — is taking on a conspiracy-theory tone as conservatives use it to imply that the LGBTQ community, their allies, and liberals more generally are pedophiles or pedophile-enablers.
Attempting to reframe the controversial Florida law, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s press secretary Christina Pushaw described it as “the Anti-Grooming Bill” in early March, tweeting that if you’re against it, “you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children.” Those familiar with QAnon will recognize this bizarre leap in logic. Pushaw adopted language that QAnon conspiracy theory believers and the related #SaveTheChildren crusaders have used to imply that liberals are, if not pedophiles themselves, advocates of pedophilia.
This rhetoric has long existed among fringe conspiracy-theory-mongers and extremists, but Pushaw’s usage helped turn grooming into a mainstream conservative talking point.Fox News has run several segments devoted to pedophilia throughout March and April. During the same period, numerous Fox pundits began describing the behavior of parents and teachers who want to allow children to express their transgender identity as grooming; one Fox and Friends guest suggested children were “being ripened for grooming for sexual abuse by adults,” while America Reports guest Charlie Hurt said affirmative care for trans children “goes beyond just predatory grooming” into “psychological torture.”
Accusations of pedophilia were also a refrain during the March 2022 confirmation hearings for new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. After Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) falsely accused Jackson of giving child pornographers unusually lenient sentences and “soft” treatment, other conservatives, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, ran with the idea that Jackson and anyone who supported her confirmation was supporting or sympathetic to pedophilia.
The result of this fear-mongering is grim: Vice reports that users of extremist right-wing websites like Patriot.win recently tried to publicize the address of a school superintendent who they claimed was “grooming” children. In March, the superintendent placed a school nurse on leave for allegedly making inappropriate statements on Facebook about a student who may have been receiving gender-affirming care.
Claiming the superintendent was “supporting leftist grooming in her schools” by implicitly protecting the welfare of a potentially trans student, one Patriot.win user wrote that she “needs to be executed by our judicial system.” Other users made violent references to hangings and gallows in response to various debates over trans identity. There’s concern that these online threats could lead to real-world physical violence; as Vice noted, many of the platforms pushing this current narrative are home to extremist communities, including some that were involved in planning the January 6, 2021, insurrection.
Framing homosexuality as a wicked specter and queer people as pedophiles is one of the oldest narratives in the homophobic playbook; proponents of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and other recent anti-gay and anti-trans legal actions across the US have been all too happy to recycle it. Only now, due to the paranoiac tendency of the modern right wing, it’s also being expanded and applied to LGBTQ allies, to educators whose work gets caught in the cultural crossfire, and to liberals writ large.
One of the heroes of these freaks is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has whistled every dog whistle and pushed every possible law to support these false accusations and narratives. It is Gas Lighting. And, it’s odd that whenever we get into the history of any of these folks, we find their policies and lack of action endanger children. Living, breathing, sentient, feeling, and vulnerable children suffer under Republican regimes.So, I’ve taken quite a bit to set this up. No, it’s not the usual pedophile Republican pol or judge caught in the act. It’s Ron DeSantis’ own government doing it. “Innocence Sold: Florida’s foster system provides dangerous sex traffickers with easy access to vulnerable children.” This article is behind a strict paywall, so I will try to share it with you as much as possible. It is also a part of the South Florida Sentinel’s podcast series “Felonius Florida.” It’s the story of 15-year-old Sophie Reeder, who walked out of her bedroom one night 5 1/2 years ago and never returned.
Somebody knows what happened to Sophie Reeder. But not the police. Not her parents. Not the private investigators who tried to find her.
Despite powerful evidence that she fell into the hands of a sex trafficker, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department’s handling of her case diminished the chance she’d ever be found.
Sophie’s case was part of the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s year-long investigation into child sex trafficking, a vile crime that is relatively easy to get away with in Florida.
Sophie wasn’t a runaway, or a foster child, or an abused daughter, like many girls who fall under a predator’s sway. She was a middle-class girl with two parents who loved her — parents who had the means to help. Friends and family saw red flags, but no one realized quite what they were seeing.
Her case shows that sex trafficking is common, hiding in plain sight.
In Sophie’s cell phone, police found messages she sent a friend, discussing prices charged for commercial sex acts.
“There are so many cases in our local community, and the average person has no clue,” said John Rode, a former South Florida cop who has searched for Sophie for five years. “If I ask 10 people, ‘What is human trafficking?,’ most are going to say it’s a container on a ship, and there’s 50 Haitian people packed into the container like the movies. Most of the cases are just young runaway girls that get mixed up with the wrong person and sooner or later they can’t get out or they can’t be found.”
Although most of their stories aren’t told, children are reported missing every day in Florida. Last year, 2,166 kids were reported missing in Florida, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. All but 145 of them were found.
These children — runaways and other missing kids — are among the most vulnerable to sex trafficking, researchers have proven.
Their stories are eerily similar: a girl with low self-esteem meets an attentive older man. He may offer gifts, compliments, promises of a better life — or even love.
Sophie suffered from anxiety and depression. Many teens do. I was one of them.
It’s not just the institutions in governments like Ron Desantis that cause these inefficiencies. Their attitudes toward living, breathing children who are now subjected to school programs make them feel like outsiders. It also is a program that provides no solutions, no information, and no help. You’re on your own, kid.
And I will go there. This is from Salon. It’s also from last April, and I’m so sorry I missed reading all this then. It took Sophie’s story to get me to dig into it all. “So, Let’s Talk About Republicans and Sex Crimes. This seems like an appropriate moment.” Paging anyone that can prosecute Matt Gaetz! Floriduh pervert.
Because American politics are now just one, long, low-rent nightmare, Republican culture warriors have spent the past few weeks slandering their various enemies as being soft on pedophilia. For some time, this sort of raving was mostly confined to adherents of QAnon, the Trump-idolizing conspiracy cult that believes Democratic politicians and other elites are secretly operating a global child trafficking ring.
But a confluence of events has helped bring a version of it mainstream.
During the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in March, Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz attempted to smear the nominee by inaccurately claiming that she had a record of handing out unusually light sentences in cases where defendants were accused of viewing child pornography. The issue descended deeper into absurdity after three moderate Republicans voted to confirm Jackson this week and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene—the walking id of MAGA-America—tweeted about them, saying “Murkowski, Collins, and Romney are pro-pedophile.”
Meanwhile, defenders of Florida’s new “don’t say gay” law, which strictly limits public school teachers’ ability to discuss LGBTQ people and issues in the classroom, began referring to the legislation as an “anti-grooming” bill—evoking the deeply homophobic idea that an adult would only talk about these topics with a child in order to prime them for abuse. After Disney, one of Florida’s largest employers, called for the law to be repealed, conservative social media influencers and Fox News personalities like Laura Ingraham launched a wild crusade against the company accusing it too of being complicit in “grooming.”
This is all galling. But it’s especially rich considering that, of the two major parties, the GOP has many more notable and recent scandals involving the sexual abuse of minors and young students—as well as a recent track record of reacting to them with a shrug.
Let’s review some of that history …
In 2006, Florida Rep. Mark Foley was forced to resign after it was revealed that he’d sent sexually explicit messages and propositioned teenage congressional pages via email and text.
In 2015, former Rep. Dennis Hastert, the longest-ever serving Republican speaker of the House, pleaded guilty to making illegal hush-money payments in order to cover up his history of sexually abusing high school wrestlers he had coached decades before.
“Nothing is more stunning than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the House’ in the same sentence,” the judge said at his sentencing.
During and after the 2016 presidential race, among the dozens of women who accused former president Donald Trump of being a sexual predator were several contestants in the 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant, who reported that he barged into their dressing room while girls as young as 15 were changing. (Trump allegedly told them, “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.”)
His campaign denied the accusation, but CNN unearthed a 2005 Howard Stern interview where Trump bragged about walking into backstage dressing rooms at the pageants he ran.
During the 2018 midterms, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore was accused of preying on girls as young as 14 and 16; the New Yorker reported that his habit of trying to pick up high schoolers was so notorious that it actually got him banned from a local mall.
Also in 2018, Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s fiercest allies and a co-founder of the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus, became embroiled in a scandal over his time as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University, where a team doctor named Richard Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005, was found to have sexually abused more than 177 male student athletes.
An investigation commissioned by the university found that Strauss regularly used examinations as an excuse to grope and fondle the students, sometimes to the point of ejaculation; often ordered them to strip nude unnecessarily; and in two cases, attempted to perform oral sex. Numerous former wrestlers told reporters that Jordan was personally aware of the abuse during the early 1990s but chose to turn a blind eye. The Congressman simply denied having any knowledge of it—and suggested at least one of the accusers claiming otherwise was acting on a personal vendetta against him.
And finally, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida is currently the subject of a literal sex-trafficking investigation, which is looking into whether he had sex with an underage 17-year-old girl, among other issues. (Greene is close with Gaetz, who denies the allegations, and has defended him.)
On Twitter, liberals have taken to rattling off this list of scandals—among others—in response to conservative accusations of grooming (in a somewhat apt turn of events, a former Republican National Committee staffer was sentenced for a child pornography conviction the same day Jackson was confirmed to the court).
Some have gone further, remarking that the GOP is particularly afflicted with a pedophilia problem. “Every accusation is a confession,” goes one popular refrain. (Some large social media accounts have been trying to make the phrase “pedocon” stick.)
So, the word gas lighting seems appropriate, don’t you think? There are many vulnerable populations in this country. Just think of our amazing backlog of testing rape kits! You can check the backlog in your own state at the link.
While the press fritters its print away on the psychosis of Elon Musk or the hapless pursuit to be Speaker of the House by Kevin, the pandemic continues. Women cannot get accessible and affordable reproductive healthcare. Voting Rights are being decimated. Folks are trying to vote in Georgia as we speak. We’ve got a few days past a mass shooting, and it goes out of the national consciousness that quickly. But, hey, that football game!
And the republican gaslighting and victim-blaming, and projection keep going on. Donald Trump meets with a White Supremacist, and Stephen Miller trots to the Capitol to speak to Kevin. Nobody presses a potential presidential candidate for the Republican Party on it. Lindsay Graham was omnipresent on the Sunday Talk shows at one time. Where is he now? Plus, why don’t they have a platform and a list of planned policies? We need a much more involved press to get to answers. I’m not sure if they just took Thanksgiving weekend off to watch football and eat turkey or what. But these things demand answers. And only a few regional newspapers with fewer reporters go after the stories about our community problems and solutions. The repeats of whatever on the new stations were maddening. Why all the time spent yammering on about clogged airports?
It’s more than just covering the bullets after they’ve torn through a nightclub, a second-grade classroom, or a place of worship. Why are our children so vulnerable? Why have we still not taken back the night? Who is following droughts all over the world? Check where big money goes, and you’ll find the answer. It goes from gun manufacturers to Republicans. It goes from Wall Street and Silicon Valley to Republicans. It goes from the Fossil Fuel Industry to Republicans. Everything old is new again.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Sunday Reads: CartoonsPosted: November 27, 2022 Filed under: just because 4 Comments
Just cartoons today…I’ve got some major cold that is kicking my butt.
From Cagle website:
This is an open thread.
Lazy Caturday Reads: Twin Narcissistic SociopathsPosted: November 26, 2022 Filed under: cat art, caturday, Donald Trump, just because | Tags: Elon Musk, John Bolton, Kanye West, Nick Fuentes, Twitter 7 Comments
The long holiday weekend continues. I’m still having trouble sleeping at night, so once again this post is embarrassingly late. What news there is is still pretty ugly, with twin narcissistic sociopaths Donald Trump and Elon Musk dominating the headlines.
People are still talking about Trump’s dinner with anti-Semite Kanye West and holocaust denying Nazi Nick Fuentes. Dakinikat wrote quite a bit about this yesterday. Here’s the latest:
Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer at The New York Times: Trump’s Latest Dinner Guest: Nick Fuentes, White Supremacist.
Former President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday night had dinner with Nicewk Fuentes, an outspoken antisemite and racist who is one of the country’s most prominent young white supremacists, at Mr. Trump’s private club in Florida, advisers to Mr. Trump conceded on Friday.
Also at the dinner was the performer Kanye West, who has also been denounced for making antisemitic statements. Mr. West traveled to meet with Mr. Trump at the club, Mar-a-Lago, and brought Mr. Fuentes along, the advisers said.
The fourth attendee at the four-person dinner, Karen Giorno — a veteran political operative who worked on Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign as his state director in Florida — also confirmed that Mr. Fuentes was there….
In recent years, Mr. Fuentes, 24, has developed a high profile on the far right and forged ties with such Republican lawmakers as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, largely through his leadership of an annual white-supremacist event called the America First Political Action Conference.
A Holocaust denier and unabashed racist, Mr. Fuentes openly uses hateful language on his podcast, in recent weeks calling for the military to be sent into Black neighborhoods and demanding that Jews leave the country….
During the dinner, according to a person briefed on what took place, Mr. Fuentes described himself as part of Mr. Trump’s base of supporters. Mr. Trump remarked that his advisers urge him to read speeches using a teleprompter and don’t like when he ad-libs remarks.
Mr. Fuentes said Mr. Trump’s supporters preferred the ad-libs, at which Mr. Trump turned to the others, the person said, and declared that he liked Mr. Fuentes, adding: “He gets me.”
I’d have to agree. Trump is clearly an anti-Semite and fascist would love to turn the U.S. into a dictatorship. He’s also a needy narcissist who will listen to anyone who shamelessly flatters and sucks up to him. And it sounds like Fuentes did that.
In a statement on Friday, Mr. Trump said: “Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.” The statement said nothing about Mr. Fuentes’s views.
In a post later Friday on his social media website, Truth Social, Mr. Trump said that Mr. West “unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about.” He said the dinner took place “with many members present on the back patio. The dinner was quick and uneventful. Then they left for the airport.”
Early Friday evening, Mr. Trump made a third attempt at defending himself, saying that Mr. West had sought business advice from him, “expressed no anti-Semitism, & I appreciated all of the nice things he said about me on ‘Tucker Carlson.’ Why wouldn’t I agree to meet? I also, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes.”
Well Trump has to know who and what Fuentes is now, and he’s still not willing to say anything against him. I’m reminded of the time in 2016 when Trump refused to reject the endorsement of David Duke and claimed to know nothing about him or the KKK. But The Washington Post documented statements by Trump about Duke in 1991 and 2000, in which he “condemned Duke and his views.”
Even taking at face value Mr. Trump’s protestation that he knew nothing of Mr. Fuentes, the apparent ease with which Mr. Fuentes arrived at the home of a former president who is under multiple investigations — including one related to keeping classified documents at Mar-a-Lago long after he left office — underscores the undisciplined, uncontrolled nature of Mr. Trump’s post-presidency just 10 days into his third campaign for the White House.
Marc Caputo at NBC News: ‘F—ing nightmare’: Trump team does damage control after he dines with Ye and white supremacist Nick Fuentes.
…[D]espite Trump suggesting that the event was “uneventful,” the fallout over his dinner with Fuentes appears to have thrown Trump’s campaign into damage control mode. The former president took hours to respond publicly after multiple media outlets reported that Fuentes was present at the dinner.
Even the two Trump advisers winced at how a Holocaust denier like Fuentes was able to wind up with Trump at dinner — even if it was by mistake — along with the rapper, who had just had his Twitter account restored but lost major endorsement deals for making antisemitic remarks.
“This is a f—ing nightmare,” said one longtime Trump adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of stoking the former president’s ire at “disloyal” people who criticize him. “If people are looking at [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis to run against Trump, here’s another reason why.”
All three sources familiar with the dinner told NBC News there was one glaring inaccuracy in Trump’s statement: Trump knew one of the three “friends” brought by the rapper, Karen Giorno. She was the Trump campaign’s Florida director in 2016 and the former president knows her by name and sight, the sources said. In addition to Giorno and Fuentes, Ye also brought along another man who was an associate, according to the sources.
The source familiar with the dinner conversation said the dinner grew heated after Ye — who announced another run for president in 2024 on Thursday — asked Trump to be his running mate. Trump then began insulting Ye’s ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, according to the source and a video that Ye posted to Twitter on Thanksgiving Day recounting the dinner.
The source also said Fuentes is helping to advise Ye in his second presidential campaign. The rapper has said the campaign would be managed by Milo Yiannopoulos, a far-right provocateur and former Breitbart editor who was banned from Twitter in 2016 for inciting a racist campaign against comedian Leslie Jones.
How anyone could possibly vote for someone like Trump is a mystery to me.
John Bolton told the Guardian’s David Smith that: Trump’s act is ‘old and tired’, says his own former national security adviser.
John Bolton, former national security adviser to Donald Trump, has described the former US president’s act as “old and tired” and said the Republican party is ready to move on to a “fresh face”.
Bolton is the latest ex-White House official to condemn Trump after Republicans underperformed in this month’s midterm elections, which added to a losing streak that convinced some he is now hurting rather than helping the party.
“There are a lot of reasons to be against Trump being the nominee but the one I’m hearing now as I call around the country, talking to my supporters and others about what happened on 8 November, is the number of people who have just switched Trump off in their brain,” Bolton told the Guardian.
“Even if they loved his style, loved his approach, loved his policies, loved everything about him, they don’t want to lose and the fear is, given the results on 8 November, that if he got the nomination, not only would he lose the general election, but he would take an awful lot of Republican candidates down with him.”
NPR: Twitter has lost 50 of its top 100 advertisers since Elon Musk took over, report says.
Half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers appear to no longer be advertising on the website. A report from Media Matters for America states that these 50 advertisers have spent almost $2 billion on Twitter ads since 2020 and more than $750 million just in 2022.
Seven additional advertisers have slowed their advertising to almost nothing, according to the report, which was published on Tuesday. These companies have paid Twitter more than $255 million since 2020.
Chevrolet, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Ford, Jeep, Kyndryl, Merck & Co. and Novartis AG all issued statements about halting Twitter ads or were reported and confirmed as doing so. The others ceased advertising on the platform for a “significant period of time following direct outreach, controversies, and warnings from media buyers.”
The report wrote that even with these hits to advertising revenue, Twitter CEO Elon Musk has “continued his rash of brand unsafe actions — including amplifying conspiracy theories, unilaterally reinstating banned accounts such as that of former President Donald Trump, courting and engaging with far-right accounts, and instituting a haphazard verification scheme that allowed extremists and scammers to purchase a blue check.” [….]
Eli Lilly and Co. stopped showing ads on Twitter the day after an account impersonating the pharmaceutical company — complete with a purchased blue check mark — posted, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.”
Eli Lilly asked Twitter to take it down, but the tweet remained up for hours, because the platform’s staff was stretched thin due to recent layoffs and resignations. The tweet garnered hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes, and Eli Lilly’s stock soon took a dive.
Endpoints News reported that 12 pharmaceutical giants soon stopped buying Twitter ads, citing Pathmatics, which collects data on corporate advertising and digital marketing trends.
Inc: The ‘Myth Of Elon Musk’ Was His Most Valuable Asset. The Twitter Debacle Means It’s Over.
For Elon Musk, the idea that he is a once-in-a-generation super genius is central to the success of everything he does. It’s one of the most important narratives in business–that he is capable of rallying companies to do what seems to be impossible for everyone else.
That myth has taken Musk far in life, including making him the most wealthy man in the world. It’s tempting to think that it must be at least partially true.
If you [are] a Tesla shareholder, for example, you want to believe that Musk is uniquely qualified to bring into existence things like mass-scale electric vehicles (EVs), or autonomous cars that can navigate city streets more safely than human drivers. You also want to believe that when Musk promises to do things like get humans to Mars, that he has a plan and isn’t just throwing things against the wall to see what doesn’t blow up. You have a financial interest in the myth.
To be fair, the companies Musk leads are–by all of the ways you might measure such a thing–incredibly successful. Tesla has almost single-handedly made EVs a thing normal people will buy. SpaceX is easily the most important private space exploration company ever. It has been able to do in a decade what the full resources of the United States Space program hasn’t been able to do–mostly build a rocket that you can land and use more than once.
Those successes are almost always attributed to the genius of Elon. I’m sure there’s some credit due to him, but I can’t help but think it’s equally as possible that those companies have been wildly successful not because of Elon Musk, but in spite of him. Over the past few weeks, it has become more apparent that the genius of Musk is a myth.
If nothing else, the past month of Twitter under Musk’s ownership–and, more importantly, his leadership–has broken through the myth and revealed that he doesn’t always have a well-thought out plan for success. Sometimes he’s just winging it and gets lucky. Sometimes he’s able to impose his will by the sheer force of his personality. Other times, he pushes too far and things break.
At Tesla and SpaceX, everyone knows who is in charge. The culture is completely built around the myth. Your job, if you work for one of those companies, is to figure out how to turn the myth (or the promises, no matter how detached from reality) into truth. That’s it. That’s what you do. Musk makes a bold claim and you work “extremely hardcore” until it’s accomplished.
None of that is true at Twitter. What is true is that the company is a mess and Musk has no real plan to fix it beyond imposing his personality and hope that the people still there will jump at his latest whim.
Click the link to read the rest.
Ruby Cramer at The Washington Post: Elon Musk says he would support Ron DeSantis in 2024.