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Bonfire of the Normies
Plus: Elon Musk, free speech phony.
Catching up on a Monday morning:
President of what? “Rick Perry teases possible presidential bid.”
Is this real life?
A reminder of what the GOP is in for. The former president’s touching Mother’s Day message to the nation. (NOT A PARODY.)
“I will say, General Flynn, he’s some general. He’s some man,” Trump continued. “He took abuse like nobody could have handled, and he came out bigger, better, stronger than ever before.”
“That’s right,” Flynn affirmed.
“We love him,” Trump said. “He’s a leader, and you just stay wealthy and healthy and well, and everything. I want you to have great lives in general. You just have to stay healthy because we’re bringing you back. We’re gonna bring you back.”
Flynn is a controversial figure. A Trump loyalist, Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI during the 2016 campaign regarding his contact with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. and his activity as a lobbyist and consultant to Turkey’s government. Flynn ultimately resigned in disgrace from the Trump White House in 2017 before going on to become a revered figure in the QAnon movement.
And the hunt for the Great White Whale isn’t going well. . . . House Oversight chairman James Comer has been promising YUGE bombshells and smoking guns about the “Biden Crime Family,” but had to admit yesterday that he has somehow mislaid his key informant.
“Hold on a second, Congressman. Did you just say that the whistleblower or the informant is now missing?”
“Well, we’re hopeful that we can find the informant,” said Comer. “Remember, these informants are kind of in the spy business, so they don’t make a habit of being seen a lot or being high profile or anything like that.”
Comer went on to say that “nine of the ten people that we’ve identified that have very good knowledge with respect to the Bidens, they’re one of three things. They’re either currently in court, they’re currently in jail, or they’re currently missing.”
An instant classic. Exit take:
Richard Reeves: The Trouble with Boys and Men
Girls are blowing past boys in school, and while most men are poorer than they were 50 years ago, women’s incomes have risen across the board. A new kind of gender inequality is drawing men into MAGA’s poisonous politics. Richard Reeves joined me for the weekend podcast.
The Bonfire of the Normies
Not surprisingly, it was a brutal weekend for the ragged vestige of normal Republicans who are desperately trying to ignore the crazy around them.
Here is Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. ABC’s Jon Karl played a clip from Trump’s CNN town hall — “in which the ex-president refused to give a straight answer on whether he wants Ukraine to win the war against Russia’s invading military, and also complained about U.S. military aid to foreign nations.”
“I don’t think in terms of winning and losing. I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing these people,” Trump told Kaitlan Collins. “I want everybody to stop dying.”…
“What do you say to that?” Karl asked McCaul. “He’s your Republican frontrunner right now, and he can’t say whether or not he wants Ukraine to win against Russian aggression.”
“I think he always thinks in terms of winning and losing,” McCaul answered. “I will say this, I think what he is thinking is that this counteroffensive, which is happening soon, will be so successful we can have a ceasefire and get to a negotiating phase.”
That. Is. Not. What. Trump. Said. Or what he meant. And McCaul knows it.
But he has to pretend that Trump is not Putin’s bitch, doesn’t he?
Then there was Nikki. “Nikki Haley dodges chance to condemn Trump for E. Jean Carroll sex abuse verdict.”
Asked about whether it tarnishes the Republican party that its leading figure was found liable of such crimes, Ms Haley responded that all sides should be heard in a legal proceeding, and that it was up to the American people to pass judgment.
“I have always said that anyone that feels like they have been sexually assaulted in any way should come forward and have their voice heard,” Ms Haley told CBS News’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “I also think that anyone that’s been accused should be able to defend themselves. I was not on the jury. I am not the judge. I think that both of them had their voices heard. There has been a verdict and there has been an appeal.”
Because, Nikki isn’t really running for president, after all, is she?
Via Josh Kraushaar in Axios: “The GOP's shrinking Senate map.”
In an interview with CNN last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was cautious about the number of top GOP pickup opportunities — despite a historically favorable map giving the party a strong chance of ending Democrats' 51–49 majority.
“I just spent 10 minutes explaining to you how we could screw this up, and we’re working very hard to not let that happen. Let’s put it that way," McConnell said.
He only listed four Democratic-held seats as top opportunities: West Virginia, Montana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Why it matters: If Trump's endorsements of weak candidates hurt GOP prospects in 2022, it's the prospect that Trump will lead the GOP presidential ticket that could jeopardize purple-state opportunities in 2024.
Elon Musk: Free Speech Phony
As Turkey’s democracy hung in the balance, Musk caved in to demands from the Erdogan government to censor Twitter ahead of the presidential election. And defended his toadying.
Twitter World noticed.
Twitter users were not happy at Musk's compliance with the Turkish government's request.
'So you're helping Erdogan censor his opposition ahead of a close election. Nice work,' wrote one user.
'@ElonMusk Shame On You! Shame On Twitter! Since when do you restrict the individual's freedom of speech and side with tyrants ?' added another.
This seems like a good time to remind you that Musk’s understanding of free speech is about what you’d expect of an undereducated 12-year-old. Here he is from last year, demonstrating that he does not understand how authoritarian regimes operate… at all:
Exit take: Mehdi Hasan pointed out the irony: “You can't crown yourself the grand poobah of free speech while also cravenly caving to the demands of foreign autocracies where you also, conveniently, happen to have other business interests."
1. What I Learned From My Guest Role on Succession
I was playing the role of Ben Stove, a right-wing Republican political analyst, on the set of HBO’s Succession a few weeks before last Christmas. As Ben, I had a small part in one of the most critically acclaimed dramas in American history, and I was trying my darndest to act.
It was a surreal experience. I learned two things during my several days with Succession. One is about television, the other is about politics.
2. RFK Jr. and His Right-Wing Allies
3. Why Putin Attacked Ukraine When He Did
How did Russia get into this fix? Why did Russian strongman Vladimir Putin launch a war that he cannot win and that has wrecked Russia’s military, costing it tens of thousands of lives and the destruction of much of its armored force? The story is told in Overreach, an engaging mixture of analysis and close-up reportage by the British journalist-historian Owen Matthews. In addition to a long career as a Moscow correspondent for Newsweek, Matthews has an intimate personal connection to Russia: His mother was born in 1934 in Kharkiv into a family that for two centuries served both the tsars and the Soviet Communists, and suffered dearly for their pains.
4. Why GOP Govs Are Rushing to Quit Project for Clean Voter Data
Since the 2020 election, eight states have informed ERIC that they’re leaving the group—all of them red-led states: Missouri, Louisiana, Alabama, Ohio, West Virginia, Iowa, Florida, and now Virginia all have pulled out. Texas, which only just joined in 2020, is rumbling about leaving but has not yet withdrawn.
Since Trump lost, right-wing groups have latched on to conspiracy theories about ERIC being a left-wing effort—a George Soros project, some (falsely) claim. In reality, the ERIC board is made up of elections officials from member states.