Tuesday Reads

 

Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday, Talking Points Memo released a large trove of Mark Meadows’ text messages. It’s not clear how they obtained them, but the main author of the series of articles is Hunter Walker, who collaborated with Denver Riggleman on the book The Breach, which described Riggleman’s work for the January 6 Committee. Riggleman led the project to identify the senders of text messages that were turned over to the committee. The articles are not behind the usual TPM paywall.

Hunter Walker introduces the series at TPM: A Plot To Overturn An American Election.

TPM has obtained the 2,319 text messages that Mark Meadows, who was President Trump’s last White House chief of staff, turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Today, we are publishing The Meadows Texts, a series based on an in-depth analysis of these extraordinary — and disturbing — communications. 

The vast majority of Meadows’ texts described in this series are being made public for the very first time. They show the senior-most official in the Trump White House communicating with members of Congress, state-level politicians, and far-right activists as they work feverishly to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. The Meadows texts illustrate in moment-to-moment detail an authoritarian effort to undermine the will of the people and upend the American democratic system as we know it. 

The text messages, obtained from multiple sources, offer new insights into how the assault on the election was rooted in deranged internet paranoia and undemocratic ideology. They show Meadows and other high-level Trump allies reveling in wild conspiracy theories, violent rhetoric, and crackpot legal strategies for refusing to certify Joe Biden’s victory. They expose the previously unknown roles of some members of Congress, local politicians, activists and others in the plot to overturn the election. Now, for the first time, many of those figures will be named and their roles will be described — in their own words.

Meadows turned over the text messages during a brief period of cooperation with the committee before he filed a December 2021 lawsuit arguing that its subpoenas seeking testimony and his phone records were “overly broad” and violations of executive privilege. The committee did not respond to a request for comment on this story. Since then, Meadows has faced losses in his efforts to challenge the subpoena in court. However, that legal battle is ongoing and is unlikely to conclude before next month, when the incoming Republican House majority is widely expected to shutter the committee’s investigation. Earlier this year, Meadows reportedly turned over the same material he gave the select committee to the Justice Department in response to another subpoena. These messages are key evidence in the two major investigations into the Jan. 6 attack. With this series, the American people will be able to evaluate the most important texts for themselves.  

This one is the real shocker. Hunter Walker, Josh Kovensky, and Emine Yücel at TPM: Mark Meadows Exchanged Texts With 34 Members Of Congress About Plans To Overturn The 2020 Election.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows exchanged text messages with at least 34 Republican members of Congress as they plotted to overturn President Trump’s loss in the 2020 election….

Meadows’ exchanges shed new light on the extent of congressional involvement in Trump’s efforts to spread baseless conspiracy theories about his defeat and his attempts to reverse it. The messages document the role members played in the campaign to subvert the election as it was conceived, built, and reached its violent climax on Jan. 6, 2021. The texts are rife with links to far-right websites, questionable legal theories, violent rhetoric, and advocacy for authoritarian power grabs.

Dan Crowley+-+A+Jester's+Toast

A Jester’s Toast, Dan Crowley

One message identified as coming from Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) to Meadows on January 17, 2021, three days before Joe Biden was set to take office, is a raw distillation of the various themes in the congressional correspondence. In the text, despite a typo, Norman seemed to be proposing a dramatic last ditch plan: having Trump impose martial law during his final hours in office. 

“Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of � no return � in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!”

The text, which has not previously been reported, is a particularly vivid example of how congressional opposition to Biden’s election was underpinned by paranoid and debunked conspiracy theories like those about Dominion voting machines. Norman’s text also showed the potentially violent lengths to which some congressional Republicans were willing to go in order to keep Trump in power. The log Meadows provided to the select committee does not include a response to Norman’s message. 

Reached via cell phone on Monday morning, Norman asked TPM for a chance to review his messages before commenting. 

“It’s been two years,” Norman said. “Send that text to me and I’ll take a look at it.”

TPM forwarded Norman a copy of the message calling for “Marshall Law!!” We did not receive any further response from the congressman.  

Read the rest at TPM.

Two more pieces in the series:

Hunter Walker and Josh Kovensky at TPM: Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry’s Work To Overturn 2020 Election Included A ‘Cyber Team’ And An Italian Job.

Kate Riga and Hunter Walker: As The 2020 Election Slipped Away, Andy Biggs And Mark Meadows Schemed To Reverse The Vote In Arizona.

So you can check those out at TPM. It’s quite a scoop for Josh Marshall’s blog.

Here’s another shocker from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP): Hundreds of Members of Extremist Group Oath Keepers Worked for U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Leaked Roster Shows.

More than 300 people identifying themselves as current or former employees of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or affiliated agencies appeared on an internal roster of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing anti-government group whose leader has been convicted of sedition.

Among them is a man identifying himself as a “20 year Special Agent” with the U.S. Secret Service who worked security for two presidents, a person who said he was a “Current Supervisory Border Patrol Agent,” and one who described himself as an IT employee at the headquarters of the Transportation Security Administration.

The Oath Keepers roster analyzed by OCCRP and its reporting partner, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), shows that 306 dues-paying Oath Keepers members listed themselves as affiliated with DHS, including 21 who said they were working for the agency at the time their names were added.

Clara Ledesma - SIN TITULO - Coleccion Nader 2

Sin Titulo, Clara Ledesma

One hundred eighty-four identified themselves as having served in the Coast Guard, 67 as having worked in DHS itself, 40 at Customs and Border Protection or the Border Patrol, 11 at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and seven at the U.S. Secret Service, the agency charged with protecting the president, vice president, and visiting heads of state.

The new revelations are troubling, said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democratic congressman who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.

“Extremism within our government is always alarming, but even more so in a department with a law enforcement and national security nexus like DHS,” said Thompson, who is also heading the U.S. House’s investigation into the January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol….

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-racism group, the Oath Keepers claim to have recruited tens of thousands of current and former U.S. military and law enforcement employees. The Oath Keepers’ top leader, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, wrote in a 2009 blog post that “men like this on the inside … can and do provide information to expose what is going on,” adding that “we are hearing from more and more federal officers all the time.”

Click the link to read more.

Elon Musk continues his pathetic cries for attention from the right wing mob. I’m sure you’ve heard that he attacked Anthony Fauci on Twitter. From The Independent: Dr Fauci hits back at Musk claims he should be prosecuted: ‘Cesspool of misinformation.’

Dr Anthony Fauci, the outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who helped steer the country through the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, brushed off criticism from Twitter’s Elon Musk on Monday.

On Sunday, Mr Musk, who has increasingly broadcast far right views in recent months, tweeted: “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci.”

Dr Fauci, who has faced hostility from conservatives for years due to his support of public health measures to limit the spread and severity of Covid, told reporter Max Kozlov of the science magazine Nature that he was not bothered by Mr Musk’s attack.

“I don’t pay attention to that, Max, and I don’t even feel I need to respond,” Dr Fauci told Kozlov. “A lot of that stuff is just a cesspool of misinformation, and I don’t waste a minute worrying about it.”

Kozlov tweeted that a full interview with Dr Fauci is forthcoming.

Mr Musk, who was an early skeptic of Covid public health measures and remote work, at one point tweeted that there would likely be no new US cases of Covid by April of 2020. His lack of public health credentials notwithstanding, Mr Musk’s tweet was amplified by critics of Dr Fauci like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

Mr Musk’s tweet also mocked the increasingly common practice of people explicitly stating their preferred gender pronouns, a practice aimed at ensuring that people are not misgendered.

Yesterday,  I learned that there could be some personal psychological reasons for Musk’s right-wing radicalization. One of his children, who identifies as a trans woman, has publicly disowned him and changed her surname. She legally changed her name from Xavier Musk to Vivian Jenna Wilson (he mother’s maiden name).

Mercury News: Elon Musk says he lost transgender daughter because of ‘neo-Marxists.’

Elon Musk doesn’t seem to believe he played any role in alienating his 18-year-old transgender daughter, who made the legal move this year to no longer be related to her controversial billionaire father “in any way, shape or form.”

Instead, the Tesla CEO told the Financial Times in an interview published Friday that his child’s decision to distance herself from him was caused by “neo-Marxists” at educational institutions, Page Six reported.

Musk didn’t specify what institutions had worked their influence on his daughter, but he said, “It’s full-on communism and a general sentiment that if you’re rich, you’re evil.”

hell_methlab, Andrew Brandau

Hell Methlab, Andrew Brandau

Musk apparently sees no connection between his child’s disenchantment with him and his polarizing comments about gender identity issues. The young woman’s mother, Musk’s first wife, Justine Wilson, has characterized the CEO as a difficult, controlling and patriarchal man to live with.

Musk, who has revived his effort to buy Twitter, first came under fire for his views on pronouns in July 2020, when he tweeted that “pronouns suck.” His partner at the time, the singer Grimes, was outraged, saying, “I cannot support hate. Please stop this. I know this isn’t your heart.” Grimes also told him to get off his phone: “I love you but please turn off ur phone.”

Months later, Musk was criticized again for sharing a meme, since deleted, that seemingly mocked people who put their pronouns in their online bios. In response to criticism to that tweet, Musk wrote on Twitter: “I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an esthetic nightmare.” [….]

In June, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge officially approved two requests from Musk’s daughter to be legally recognized as a woman. In petitioning for the name change, the daughter also expressed the desire to no longer be related to her famous father. The judge signed documents that said that a new birth certificate would be issued to the young woman, which reflects the change in name and gender.

A bit more about Musk from his former wife:

In a scathing essay Wilson wrote for Marie Claire about their marriage, which ended in 2008, she said that Musk grew up in the male-dominated culture of South Africa.

“The will to compete and dominate that made him so successful in business did not magically shut off when he came home,” Wilson wrote. “This, and the vast economic imbalance between us, meant that in the months following our wedding, a certain dynamic began to take hold.

“Elon’s judgment overruled mine, and he was constantly remarking on the ways he found me lacking. ‘I am your wife,’ I told him repeatedly, ‘not your employee.’ ‘If you were my employee,’ he said just as often, ‘I would fire you.’”

After their daughter’s decision to sever ties with her father were made public, Wilson expressed support for her, tweeting, “I’m very proud of you!”

You can read the October 7 interview by Roula Khalaf at the Financial Times if you sign up for a free account. Here are some relevant bits: Elon Musk: “Aren’t you entertained?”

Why does a serious guy with serious ideas indulge in silly Twitter games that could also cost his followers dearly? “Aren’t you entertained?” Musk roars with laughter. “I play the fool on Twitter and often shoot myself in the foot and cause myself all sorts of trouble . . . I don’t know, I find it vaguely therapeutic to express myself on Twitter. It’s a way to get messages out to the public.”

It is fair to say that Musk is obsessed with Twitter, so much so that he’s been embroiled in an epic on/off buyout of the platform that has captivated Wall Street and the tech industry for months….

I had asked over dinner whether his original offer had been a bad joke. “Twitter is certainly an invitation to increase your pain level,” he says. “I guess I must be a masochist . . . ” But he makes no secret that his interest in the company has never been primarily financial: “I’m not doing Twitter for the money. It’s not like I’m trying to buy some yacht and I can’t afford it. I don’t own any boats. But I think it’s important that people have a maximally trusted and inclusive means of exchanging ideas and that it should be as trusted and transparent as possible.” The alternative, he says, is a splintering of debate into different social-media bubbles, as evidenced by Donald Trump’s Truth Social network. “It [Truth Social] is essentially a rightwing echo chamber. It might as well be called Trumpet.”

1_ln_theexplosionofdreamreality_300 Gary Baseman

In the explosion of dream reality, Gary Baseman

Now it’s clear that Musk is turning Twitter into Truth Social or something even worse. This is interesting:

We turn to his views on government and politics and the Twitter Musk appears, the more emotional, unrestrained persona that comes across in his frenetic posts. He is lauding billionaires as the most efficient stewards of capital, best placed to decide on the allocation of social benefits. “If the alternative steward of capital is the government, that is actually not going to be to the benefit of the people,” says Musk. 

He is railing against Joe Biden for being in thrall to the unions but also daring to snub him. “He [Biden] had an electric vehicle summit at the White House and deliberately didn’t invite Tesla last year. Then to follow it up, to add insult to injury, at a big event he said that GM was leading the electric car revolution, in the same quarter that GM shipped 26 electric cars and we shipped 300,000. Does that seem fair to you?” [….]

Musk has a dystopian view of the left’s influence on America, which helps explain his wild pursuit of Twitter to liberate free speech. He blames the fact that his teenage daughter no longer wants to be associated with him on the supposed takeover of elite schools and universities by neo-Marxists. “It’s full-on communism . . . and a general sentiment that if you’re rich, you’re evil,” says Musk. “It [the relationship] may change, but I have very good relationships with all the others [children]. Can’t win them all.”

Musk was abused by his father as a child, and his response has been to become a bully.

He also has a dim view of regulators, whom he sees as bureaucrats justifying their jobs by going after high-profile targets like him. He seems to be in a constant feud with one regulator or another, whether it’s over his own pronouncements or over the treatment of staff. Musk is unabashed about driving his employees hard. He was bullied as a child (and has also spoken of emotional abuse by his father) but is now sometimes accused of bullying others. He shoots back: if anyone is unhappy working for him, they should work elsewhere because “they’re not chained to the company, it’s voluntary.

That explains a lot. Read more at Financial Times if you’re interested. I’m beginning to find Musk even more annoying and repulsive than Trump. And here’s the October 2001 Marie Claire essay by Justine Musk: “I Was a Starter Wife”: Inside America’s Messiest Divorce.”

More Twitter News:

Kayla Gogarty at Media Matters: Anti-LGBTQ hate has increased on Twitter since Elon Musk officially acquired the company.

A new report from Media Matters and GLAAD shows that since Elon Musk took over as Twitter CEO and plunged the company into chaos with erratic decisions, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has increased on the platform, despite his claims and actions to the contrary, including disbanding Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council. Media Matters has found that retweets of right-wing figures’ tweets that included the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur increased substantially, as did mentions of right-wing figures in tweets containing the slur.

Key findings include:

  • Anti-LGBTQ accounts that saw substantial increases in both retweets of and mentions in tweets with the slur included Tim Pool, Jack Posobiec, Jake Shield, Gays Against Groomers, Blaire White, Allie Beth Stuckey, Andy Ngo, Seth Dillon, and Mike Cernovich. 
  • Collectively, these 9 accounts saw an over 1,200% increase in retweets of tweets with the slur, going from nearly 3,600 to over 48,000, and they saw an over 1,100% increase in mentions in tweets with the slur, going from over 5,300 to more than 65,000.
  • Other right-wing accounts also saw substantial increases of mentions in tweets containing the slur. For instance, Libs of TikTok saw more than a 600% increase in its mentions, going from nearly 2,000 to nearly 14,000, while Rep. Mayra Flores (R-TX) saw a nearly 6,000% increase, going from nearly 70 mentions to over 4,000. 
  • Anti-LGBTQ figure James Lindsay and right-wing satire site Babylon Bee have earned thousands of retweets on posts perpetuating the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur and have been mentioned in thousands of tweets referencing the slur since their accounts were reinstated by Musk. 
  • Mentions of prominent LGBTQ accounts in tweets with the “groomer” slur also increased during the time frame, with one account seeing an increase of over 225,000% after Musk officially acquired the platform.

Read more at Media Matters.

mask-still-life- David Lynch

Mask Still Life, David Lynch

The Washington Post: Twitter dissolves Trust and Safety Council.

Twitter on Monday night abruptly dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, the latest sign that Elon Musk is unraveling years of work and institutions created to make the social network safer and more civil.

Members of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council received an email with the subject line, “Thank You,” that informed them the council was no longer “the best structure” to bring “external insights into our product and policy development work.”

The email dissolution arrived less than an hour before members of the council were expecting to meet with Twitter executives via Zoom to discuss recent developments, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.

Dozens of civil rights leaders, academics and advocates from around the world had volunteered their time for years to help improve safety on the platform.

“We are grateful for your engagement, advice and collaboration in recent years and wish you every success in the future,” said the email, which was simply signed “Twitter.”

In less than two months, Musk has undone years of investments in trust and safety at Twitter — dismissing key parts of the workforce and bringing back accounts that previously had been suspended. As the body unravels, Musk is tightening his grip on decisions about the future of content moderation at Twitter, with less input from outside experts.

The move is just throwing away “years of institutional memory that we on the council have brought” to the company, said one council member who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to concerns about harassment on the platform. “Getting external experts and advocates looking at your services makes you smarter.”

Read more at the WaPo.

I’ll end there and turn it over to you. What are your thoughts on all this? What other stories are you following?


9 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Good Grief! It keeps becoming worse than we thought!!! I wonder else what the Republicans are hiding about that coup? Musk and Trump ought to have a narcissist throw down and see who is left standing.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think Trump would win. Musk is trying to fit in with the crazies, but he doesn’t have the act down yet.

      • dakinikat says:

        The market has been rebounding because inflation numbers have been good. However, today, Tesla is in crash-and-burn mode. It’s really taking a nose dive.

  2. dakinikat says:

    Russian Trolls Made Fake Kid Rock Fan Accounts — and Fooled Donald Trump Jr.
    The former president’s son reposted a conspiracy theory on Ivermectin and oil supplies from “KidRockOfficial.” The account was a Russian troll trying to meddle in the U.S. election

    https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/russian-trolls-kid-rock-donald-trump-jr-election-interference-1234646523/

    Sheesh. What a dummy!

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    A notorious Trump judge just fired the first shot against birth control
    In retrospect, it was inevitable that this particular judge would come for contraception.

    By Ian Millhiser

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/12/13/23505459/supreme-court-birth-control-contraception-constitution-matthew-kacsmaryk-deanda-becerra

    Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee to a federal court in Texas, spent much of his career trying to interfere with other people’s sexuality.

    A former lawyer at a religious conservative litigation shop, Kacsmaryk denounced, in a 2015 article, a so-called “Sexual Revolution” that began in the 1960s and 1970s, and which “sought public affirmation of the lie that the human person is an autonomous blob of Silly Putty unconstrained by nature or biology, and that marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults.”

    So, in retrospect, it’s unsurprising that Kacsmaryk would be the first federal judge to embrace a challenge to the federal right to birth control after the Supreme Court’s June decision eliminating the right to an abortion.

    Last week, Kacsmaryk issued an opinion in Deanda v. Becerra that attacks Title X, a federal program that offers grants to health providers that fund voluntary and confidential family planning services to patients. Federal law requires the Title X program to include “services for adolescents,”

    The plaintiff in Deanda is a father who says he is “raising each of his daughters in accordance with Christian teaching on matters of sexuality, which requires unmarried children to practice abstinence and refrain from sexual intercourse until marriage.” He claims that the program must cease all grants to health providers who do not require patients under age 18 to “obtain parental consent” before receiving Title X-funded medical care.

    This is not a new argument, and numerous courts have rejected similar challenges to publicly funded family planning programs, in part because the Deanda plaintiff’s legal argument “would undermine the minor’s right to privacy” which the Supreme Court has long held to include a right to contraception.

    But Kacsmaryk isn’t like most other judges. In his brief time on the bench — Trump appointed Kacsmaryk in 2019 — he has shown an extraordinary willingness to interpret the law creatively to benefit right-wing causes.

    Kacsmaryk’s opinion is incompetently drafted and makes several obvious legal errors

    Ian goes on to analyze those errors.

  5. Enheduanna says:

    People who amass fortunes like Musk has usually are corrupted to some degree. Nothing corrupts like money, and Musk is naive to believe otherwise.

  6. dakinikat says:

    instant karma