Posted: April 27, 2021 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: Republican politics | Tags: Arizona fake election audit, conspiracy theories, Cyber Ninjas, Fox News, John Singer Sargent portraits, Kamala Harris book conspiracy theory, Newsmax, OneAmerica, Peter Wehner, Q-Anon, red meat reduction conspiracy theory, Ron Watkins, Tucker Carlson |
Nonchaloir (Repose), by John Singer Sargent
Yesterday Dakinikat posted this article by Peter Wehner in The Atlantic on the growing radicalization of the GOP. Wehner cites reporting by Sarah Longwell of The Bulwark that shows more formerly “normal” Republicans fleeing Fox News and tuning in to conspiracy-oriented outlets like Newsmax and OneAmerica network.
A second finding, according to Longwell, is that for the first time, she’s hearing people say they pretty regularly tune in to Newsmax or One America News Network, two conspiracy-theory-minded MAGA television news outlets. She’s heard from some people in her focus groups that “Fox has gone too far left.” Overall, what she sees isn’t Trump supporters fleeing Fox in huge numbers so much as experiencing some cooling of their enthusiasm and a willingness to look to other sources of information. (Tucker Carlson, the most malicious and influential figure at Fox News, does have a certain rock-star status in MAGA world.)
It appears that Fox is responding by airing even more insane conspiracy theories. For example, last night Tucker Carlson took his anti-mask crusade to a new level. You have to see this to believe it.
The Daily Beast: Tucker Carlson Tells Fox Viewers to Call the Cops if They See Kids Wearing Masks Outdoors.
Raging against face masks on Monday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson told his viewers they should openly harass anyone they see wearing masks outside and go so far as to call the police or social services on the parents of any children with masks on.
Carlson, who was a proponent of mask-wearing to help stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as recently as last March, has since become a fierce critic of face masks and other COVID-19 restrictions, guidelines, and mitigation efforts.
“Masks have always been incompatible with a free society,” he fumed. “We used to know that. Masks strip people of their identity as individuals, transform people from citizens into drones. They isolate us and alienate us to shut us off from one another, they prevent intimacy and human contact. If I can’t see your face, I can’t know you.”
Portrait of Madame X, John Singer Sargent
Stating that a large portion of liberals suffer from an “actual mental health condition” because a recent Pew survey shows they are critical of others who don’t mask up near them, Carlson called on his audience to instead openly mock mask-wearers in public.
“The rest of us should be snorting at them first. They’re the aggressors. It’s our job to brush them back and restore the society we were born in,” he said. “So the next time you see someone in a mask on the sidewalk or on the bike path, do not hesitate. Ask politely but firmly, ‘Would you please take off your mask? Science shows there is no reason for you to be wearing it. Your mask is making me uncomfortable.’” [….]
Carlson then took it several steps further by urging his viewers to take far more drastic measures if they see children wearing masks.
“As for forcing children to wear masks outside, that should be illegal,” the Fox News star huffed. “Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart. Call the police immediately. Contact Child Protective Services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you’re looking at is abuse, it’s child abuse, and you are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.”
This is going to get people killed–either by the virus or by more violent interactions in between Trump crazies in businesses that require masks or just ordinary mask-wearing people going about their business.
Here are some are other MAGA conspiracy theories that have gone viral lately.
Yahoo News: How a false claim about beef and Biden’s climate plan spread.
On Sunday afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted out a Fox News graphic about President Biden proposing a reduction in red meat consumption. “Not gonna happen in Texas!” proclaimed the Republican, who serves nearly 30 million constituents.
Abbott was retweeted by fellow Republican Gov. Brad Little, who said, “Idahoans also have beef with this agenda and for dinner!” The two governors followed in a line of conservative politicians, pundits and news outlets who spent days proudly stating their opposition to a provision of Biden’s climate plan that doesn’t exist.
The false narrative stems from coverage of Biden announcing his new climate goals last week in honor of Earth Day, including cutting U.S. carbon emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030 over 2005 levels. The plan drew immediate Republican condemnation, but the beef-specific narrative stems from a Thursday article in the Daily Mail, a conservative British tabloid. The lengthy headline reads, “How Biden’s climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH, cost $3.5K a year per person in taxes, force you to spend $55K on an electric car and ‘crush’ American jobs.”
The piece cites a University of Michigan study that analyzes what different changes in the U.S. diet could mean for greenhouse gas emissions. This was translated into the Fox News graphic shared by Abbott and others, which stated that the Biden proposal would cut 90 percent of red meat from Americans’ diet, allowing them a maximum of 4 pounds per year and one burger a month.
A primary issue in using the paper to condemn the Biden climate plan is that it was published in January 2020, when Biden was involved in a tight Democratic primary and a year away from being sworn in as president. His climate plan does not have any provisions regulating citizens’ ability to consume meat.
Gregory A. Keoleian and Martin Heller, two of the study’s authors, told Yahoo News that “to our knowledge, there is no connection between our study and Joe Biden’s Climate plan.”
Smoke of Ambergris, 1880, by John Singer Sargent
The Washington Post: No, officials are not handing out Harris’s picture book to migrant kids.
“After learning officials are handing out Kamala Harris’ book to migrants in facilities at the border, it’s worth asking… Was Harris paid for these books? Is she profiting from Biden’s border crisis?”
— Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, in a tweet, April 26, 2021\“The Biden administration’s weakness caused a surge of illegal immigration. Now they’re forcing taxpayers to buy Kamala Harris’s book to give to those illegal immigrants?”\— Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), in a tweet linking to a report in the New York Post, April 25, 2021
“Harris’s children’s book Superheroes Are Everywhere is included in welcome packs for migrant children arriving at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, a recently converted influx facility, along with basic hygiene supplies and clothing, photographs show.”
— Reporting on Fox News, April 24, 2021
“Unaccompanied migrant kids brought from the U.S.-Mexico border to a new shelter in Long Beach, Calif., will be given a copy of her 2019 children’s book, ‘Superheroes are Everywhere,’ in their welcome kits.”
— Reporting in the New York Post, April 23, 2021
It’s like a bad game of telephone.
The New York Post reported that a children’s picture book written by Vice President Harris was being handed out in “welcome kits” to young migrants at a shelter in Long Beach, Calif.
Fox News, which is owned by the same family as the New York Post, then amplified the story with its own version of the article.\Cotton and McDaniel ran with these reports and posted critical tweets. But they should have dug deeper.
Long Beach city officials told The Washington Post that Harris’s book is not being handed out in welcome kits. A single copy of the book was donated during a citywide donation drive, officials said.
Click the link to read the backstory.
I haven’t been paying much attention to the Arizona election audit story until today. It’s pretty wild. From The Daily Beast: Last-Ditch Plot to Undermine Biden’s Election Goes Full QAnon.
An ongoing “audit” of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County, Arizona, is taking its cues straight from a man intimately tied to the QAnon conspiracy theory.
President Joe Biden won Arizona—and Maricopa County—in the 2020 election, a victory that was upheld by multiple bipartisan reviews. But last week, a Republican-led coalition launched its own recount of Maricopa County’s votes, a process helmed by a conspiracy-tweeting tech CEO and funded by an unknown slate of donors.
Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth by John Singer Sargent
The counting has just begun, but already the audit has become almost inextricable from the far-right internet. There, audit-watchers share tips and concerns about security offered by Ron Watkins, a man suspected of helping birth the QAnon craze.
The audit, it should be noted, is nonbinding. Arizona’s Republican governor, secretary of state, and state Supreme Court chief justice all previously certified Biden’s victory. Nevertheless, the recount has been embraced by a conspiratorial set seeking to cast doubt on the 2020 election, including former President Donald Trump himself.
Watkins is a former administrator of 8kun, the forum that hosted the QAnon conspiracy theory, which falsely accuses Trump’s foes of Satanic pedophilia and cannibalism. A new HBO documentary argues that Watkins is one of the authors behind the conspiracy theory. Watkins, who did not return a request for comment, denies that he is the anonymous “Q.”
Watkins even implied that “rioters” might try to interfere with the fake audit and the “auditors” needed police protection.
“Will Maricopa county deploy police to protect the auditors from rioters?” he posted on his Telegram channel in mid-April. “Will the police end up standing down? You cannot have information security without physical security.”
He wasn’t the only QAnon-adjacent person stoking those fears. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn claimed, without evidence, that anti-fascists and Black Lives Matter activists would attack the audit. “I’m telling you now, I’ll say it today, because we have intel that they may be bringing people down from Portland and Seattle to disrupt,” Flynn said during a speech this month. “I mean to disrupt finding the truth, discovering the truth?“
Watkins has continued to imply the left was traveling to protest the audit—a process virtually no one outside of the far right has taken seriously. “If you have proof, chat logs, or information regarding BLM or antifa booking rooms in Arizona to protest the audits, please email me,” he wrote several days later.
Politico on the organization that is running the “audit”: ‘Never heard of them’: Arizona GOP audit firm unknown even in home state.
A successful ninja is unseen, unheard, stealthy.
By that standard, the firm Cyber Ninjas — which Arizona Republicans chose to audit the ballots cast in 2020 in the Phoenix area — fits the bill: Almost no one involved in election or politics in Florida, the state where the company is headquartered, seems to have heard of it or knows anything about it.
Nor do they know anything about Cyber Ninjas’ founder, Doug Logan, who registered his firm in the southwest Florida city of Sarasota in 2014, state records show.
“Doug Logan? Cyber Ninjas? No. I don’t know these guys. Never heard of them,” said Christian Ziegler, vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida and a resident of Sarasota, echoing a dozen top Florida Republicans and elections professionals interviewed by POLITICO.
The firm’s relative anonymity is a curious anomaly in Florida, one of the nation’s biggest battlegrounds, where top political players are typically familiar with companies that provide election services and technology.
In a state like Florida — a place synonymous with razor-close elections and recounts for more than two decades — Cyber Ninjas’ absence of name identification and its lack of experience in election audits among insiders stands out. And it calls into question Arizona Republicans’claim that the company is right for the controversial job of auditing the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, which encompasses the Phoenix metro area. The 2020 presidential results there have drawn national attention as a result of baseless claims of election fraud.
Read all about it at Politico.
Carnation, Lily, Rose, John Singer Sargent
It really doesn’t seem as if the Republican Party can be salvaged. Peter Wehner is still holding out hope.
Having alienated college-educated suburban voters, many consequential Republicans decided their best bet is to keep their contracting coalition in a state of constant agitation and fear, combatants in a never-ending culture war, “embattled warriors making a last stand against the demise of everything,” as a friend of mine describes it. And that, in turn, requires them to feed the base even greater falsehoods.
That is where we are, at least for now, and it does no one any good—least of all conservatives—to pretend otherwise. We saw how well denial and wishful thinking worked out during the Trump presidency.
But where the GOP is now isn’t where it needs to stay. Any party, at any time, can take strides toward decency, honor, and American ideals. It is never too late to do good. But in the current climate, doing good requires some degree of courage, and sometimes courage is not enough to prevail.
All Americans should hope the Republican Party regains its philosophical bearings and moral senses. A healthy conservative party is important for the nation, as the Harvard political scientist Daniel Ziblatt has shown, and it can serve as a check on the left’s worst excesses. But today the Republican Party is hardly a healthy conservative party. In fact, it has grown inhospitable to authentic conservatism, and certainly to conservative sensibilities. What we are seeing instead more closely resembles what Ziblatt refers to as a “ferocious right-wing populist politics, which threatens to swallow older, self-identified conservative political parties.”
I don’t know what is going to happen, but what’s happening right now is really scary.
So . . . what do you think? And what stories have you been following? As always, this is an open thread.
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends: