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Mike Lee Refuses to Take the L
Plus: The silence of the elites
In today’s pre-holiday Morning Shots: John Kelly has a question, Candace Owens gets nuked, and Mike Lee refuses to take the L.
Plus, an update on Auggie.
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Mike Lee: Never Apologize, Never Admit a Blunder
Utah’s senior senator has internalized one of the central precepts of Trumpism: never admit a mistake; and never apologize for a smear.
As we discussed yesterday, Mike Lee spent much of the weekend peddling an absurd and easily debunked conspiracy theory about January 6. Lee claimed that newly released footage of the riot showed an undercover FBI agent who may have been disguised as a Trump supporter. Via Ryan Reilly:
In reality, the image Lee shared shows Jan. 6 defendant Kevin Lyons, a self-proclaimed “idiot” and Trump supporter who stole a framed photo of the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis and a staffer’s wallet from then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. The video shows that Lyons, as he's leaving the Capitol building, briefly shows his hands as a heavily armed tactical team comes inside the building to get control of the riot.
Lyons is holding an item in his right hand. Conspiracy theorists claimed Lyons was holding a “badge," but the item appears to be a vape that Lyons was seen holding earlier in the day, although the quality of the footage makes that difficult to say with 100 percent certainty.
Well, never mind, right? As Reilly notes, many of the wooliest conspiracists on the right had to admit the whole thing was bogus. “Both MTG and Jim Hoft from Gateway Pundit — repeatedly declared the “Dumbest Man On The Internet” — took the L. Not Mike Lee.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a Republican ally of former President Donald Trump, also posted false claims about Lyons but deleted the allegation after being called out by other social media users.
"That’s a law enforcement badge in his hand while disguised as a Trump supporter in a MAGA hat," Greene wrote on X before she edited her post to remove that allegation. "I’ve said it all along, MAGA did not do this."
Even the far-right conspiracy website Gateway Pundit walked back a post about the image of Lyons, writing that it "now appears this is a vape."
When NBC News reached out for comment, Lee spokesman Billy Gribbin in a statement dodged questions about the false claim. “Senator Lee would like Director Wray to answer important questions regarding the uncuffed rioter fist bumping Capitol police inside the building, the unidentified pipe bomber, and other individuals about whom the FBI and fraudulent January 6th Committee have shown a surprising lack of interest," he said.
Bonus: Amanda Carpenter’s deep-dive into Lee’s coup flirtation is worth your time: “Mike Lee’s Role in Trump’s Attempted Coup - The Bulwark.”
Double bonus: The president of the Claremont Institute is “over the target”!
The Annihilation of Truth
On our Monday podcast: Internet randos are beating reality. Plus, Haley’s abortion dance, the cowardice of DeSantis, another Biden panic poll, and why the Steve Bannon wing feels like it has the wind at their backs. Will Saletan joins me for Charlie and Will Monday.
You can listen to the whole thing here. Or watch us on YouTube:
Another conservative organization is shocked, shocked to discover that it has bigots in its midst. Via Mediaite: ‘Ignorant’ and ‘Hateful’ Candace Owens Nuked from Orbit By Conservative Org That Championed Her: ‘Obsessed with Her Own Fame’
The David Horowitz Freedom Center has some regrets.
Six years ago, the David Horowitz Freedom Center invited the then little-known Candace Owens to its annual Restoration Weekend gathering of conservative movers and shakers.
“This really is the conference where everything started for me,” Candace later said. “I started my career, my political career on YouTube making just funny, satirical videos, and I got an email from David Horowitz inviting me to this conference and let me just tell you what a big deal it was for me. I had no connections whatsoever.”
At this conference she met Charlie Kirk and connected with his nationwide student organization Turning Point USA, and became a national figure.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center went on promoting Candace, honored her with an Annie Taylor Award for Courage in 2018, and hosted her at multiple events.
That’s why we are so disappointed in what she has become.
Sigh. If only they had been warned.
For years they looked the other way as Owens flirted with various iterations of nutbaggery and bigotry, ("If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay fine") but her reaction to the October 7 attack on Israel seems to have been… clarifying.
The atrocities of October 7, the appearance of ignorant mobs in the U.S. chanting “Hitler was right” and supporting the Hamas terrorists, and Candace’s moral equivalence about these neo-Nazis have changed the stakes. We have decided to issue the present statement because of her recent promotion of Hamas’ genocidal lies.
For example, she has falsely compared Israel to the “segregated South.” This is the sort of ignorant ‘Apartheid State” slander that we expect from Black Lives Matter – and the Jew-killers of the Middle East.
When Candace implied that Israel was engaged in “genocide” for defending itself against the atrocities committed by Hamas, that’s the kind of genocidal lie we expect to hear from Hamas.
Really, they were appalled — and apparently quite surprised — to discover that Candace Owens had turned out to be a shallow, narcissistic, grifter. Because who could ever have seen this coming?
Instead of focusing on the meaningful activism and defense of American values that brought her to our attention, Candace Owens has become obsessed with her own fame, stirring up drama to compensate for a lack of real achievement. Her comments about Israel and her promotion of people like Andrew Tate are part of a pattern. Candace tackles a subject she knows nothing about, never bothers to learn anything about it, and then rides the backlash by playing the victim to generate more fame and money.
Exit take: Your move, Ben Shapiro (who still employs her).
Silence of the elites
Where are business leaders on Elon Musk’s wild turn to antisemitism? Maya Bodnick:
Business and tech elites have been vocal about antisemitism on campus recently. Bill Ackman condemned pro-Palestine protesters at Harvard as antisemitic and tweeted that he was compiling a list of students associated with a pro-Palestine statement to ensure that he did not “inadvertently hire” them. At least a dozen CEOs backed Ackman’s efforts. Similarly, wealthy university donors including Mark Rowan (Apollo Global Management), Kenneth Griffin (founder of Citadel), Seth Klarman (CEO of the Baupost Group), and Lloyd Blankfein (former CEO of Goldman Sachs) have called out pro-Palestine protesters and publicly put pressure on university administrations to retaliate against them.
But these same elites have been much quieter about Elon’s promotion of the Great Replacement Theory.
I recently spoke with Kara Swisher about this, and she suggested: “It's easy to punch down at students and threaten their livelihoods and try to dox them, but they're not going to do that to Elon, because power is comfortable with power… When it comes to their paycheck, elites learn to be quiet about things they say matter to them.”
“What’s going on in the country that a single person thinks this guy would still be a good president when he’s said the things he’s said and done the things he’s done?” Kelly said in a recent interview. “It’s beyond my comprehension he has the support he has.”…
“I came out and told people the awful things he said about wounded soldiers, and it didn’t have half a day’s bounce. You had his attorney general Bill Barr come out, and not a half a day’s bounce. If anything, his numbers go up. It might even move the needle in the wrong direction. I think we’re in a dangerous zone in our country,” he said.
Exit take: We know. We know. We know.
Something to be thankful for
Writing bad poetry is a pastime shared with youth and age. I will spare you mine, but intense emotion always draws it out of me, and I hide it as if it were an addiction to drink or pornography. I am so grateful that Auggie is home. And he is back. This is not redundant.
His stitches are out; the cone is off; his obsession with balls is unabated; he is romping nearly at full speed, and he seems to have a new appreciation for home, and bed, and snuggles. He is insatiably hungry; all I do is feed him. I don’t even need to tempt him. He is healing and his body needs to rebuild.
We almost lost him more than once, and we are so grateful to have him back, whole in every meaningful sense of the word, and sound. But he seems to have muted just the smallest bit, noticeable only to those who know him, and suddenly he is no longer young and immortal, but middle-aged and vulnerable like the rest of us.
We took him in for a check-up and sat studying the veterinary wall chart on dog sizes and lifespans. At six, Auggie is now well into middle age, and his life may be more than half over. His family have lived to twelve and fourteen. While that makes me vulnerable to hope, those ages are not common for big dogs, and Auggie is a lean 112 pounds. Mortality lingers in the background for all of us, but dogs have those first sparkling years, and then the slow sadness creeps in too quickly.
I used to scoff at people who said they couldn’t endure the pain of losing another dog. Now, I’m starting to get it.
But meanwhile, here they both are: vibrant, restless, and ready to run. I’d better go.
Wishing you a Thanksgiving with long walks and happy dogs!
1. The Day My Father Scared America
MY FATHER HAD A STORY TO TELL that no one wanted to hear. He was repeatedly warned not to, even by the White House. But he wouldn’t retreat until he had dragged President Reagan, and the whole country, through the simulation of nuclear war.
Forty years ago last night, 100 million viewers (out of roughly 234 million Americans) tuned in to The Day After on ABC, making it the most-watched movie in television history. The Nielsen ratings showed that 62 percent of TVs in use on the night of Sunday, November 20, 1983 were tuned in to the movie. And nearly every American had heard about it.
2. The Battle to Control Wisconsin Elections
DURING A NOVEMBER 8 APPEARANCE on The Coach Mel Show—a podcast hosted by an election denier and QAon supporter named Melody Jennings—guest Brett Galaszewski, a member of the right-wing youth group Turning Point Action and a local Republican party official, advised the show’s listeners on how to help win the critical state of Wisconsin in the 2024 election.
Galaszewski, who serves as vice chair of the Milwaukee County GOP (“the home party of the Republican National Convention happening next year”), urged viewers to do three things: join the county party’s newly formed “Election Integrity Committee,” become a poll worker, and push to get the state’s top elections official removed from office.
Jennings, who as founder of the group Clean Elections USA in 2022 led a nationwide effort to harass people who were attempting to cast ballots using election dropboxes, had asked Galaszewski for ideas on how to “Get everybody in there to do this and go see how you can save the Wisconsin election coming up.”
Galaszewski replied that his group has set out to recruit “upwards of 2,000 poll workers in Milwaukee County to make sure that we have our eyes and ears in all facets of next year’s election.” The purpose of this effort, he explained, is to “just shave off a small percentage of liberal votes” in order to shift the statewide outcome, because “the left is going to try everything that they can to mess with this again.”
3. America Needs a Pro-Democracy Conservative Legal Establishment
American democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law are the righteous causes of our times, and the nation’s legal profession is obligated to support them. But with the acquiescence of the conservative legal movement, these pillars of our system of governing are becoming increasingly imperiled, and the dangers will only grow should Donald Trump be returned to the White House next November ...
We must rebuild a conservative legal movement that supports and defends American democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law.