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The Balloon Blindness of Team Trump
Plus, House Republicans Should Heed the Warning of Justice Scalia
Recently in The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: Gaslighting Our Politics
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CORBIN BARTHOLD: House Republicans Should Heed the Warning of Justice Scalia.
Last year, Rep. Kevin McCarthy vowed that on the “very first day” of the 118th Congress, Republicans would “read every single word of the Constitution aloud from the floor of the House.” But the first day passed by, as did the second, and the third. . . . It took the House GOP more than a month—until this Tuesday, to be precise—to get around to their patriotic oration. They would have you believe that they respect the Constitution, but they can’t even pay their lip service on time.
Their real aim during the next two years is to investigate the Biden administration. Urged on by members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, Republicans have established the new Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which will seek, among other things, to prove that the Justice Department and the FBI are biased against conservatives. To that end, the resolution establishing the subcommittee authorizes it to review the agencies’ “ongoing criminal investigations.”
WILLIAM SALETAN: The Balloon Blindness of Team Trump.
Donald Trump has a well-known aversion to reality. Tens of thousands of Americans, if not hundreds of thousands, died unnecessarily of COVID because he denied and downplayed the emerging pandemic. Thousands of people stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, causing several deaths and threatening to topple American democracy, because he wouldn’t accept that he had lost the 2020 election.
In foreign policy, Trump refused to believe that Vladimir Putin was an incorrigible menace. He rejected U.S. intelligence assessments that Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. He pretended that “love letters” could pacify Kim Jong-un.
But the Trump administration’s defiance of unwelcome evidence went beyond Trump himself. We’re now seeing the extent of this denialism in the wake of revelations about China’s spy balloons. After a Chinese surveillance balloon crossed the United States last week, U.S. military and intelligence officials reported that during Trump’s tenure, at least three other such balloons had passed over the continental United States.
The drunken heckling caucus around Marjorie Taylor Greene is not out of control — it did exactly what its voters sent them to do. And Tucker Carlson is playing to that base, which has contempt for people with an education. Tom Nichols joins Charlie Sykes today.
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JOE PERTICONE: Republicans Flop in First Hunter Biden Hearing.
Republican committee members held large posters displaying tweets in which Roth called Trump administration staffers “Nazis.” Democrats responded with their own posters, which featured Trump’s posts on Truth Social claiming to be the “RIGHTFUL WINNER” of the 2020 election and calling for a redo. In attendance was Micki Witthoeft, the mother of Ashli Babbit, the woman shot by police while breaking into the Capitol on Jan. 6th. Bizarrely, the hearing had to recess for a couple of hours because the power went out, leaving the room in darkness. Even the lights were restored, the hearing didn’t start up again right away, since the C-SPAN crew needed time to get all its equipment running again, and everybody understands that this was the sort of hearing that only exists to create as many weaponizable video clips as possible.
The hearing was a mess, but actually did a good job of illuminating two things…
Committed skeptics of “Russiagate”—the scandal around Russian interference in the 2016 election with the intent of helping elect Donald Trump, and the Trump campaign’s collaboration with this effort—had a good month in January. First, a study released on January 9 concluded that Russian disinformation and propaganda on Twitter, while a real phenomenon, did not significantly affect American attitudes (partly because the notorious Russian bots were, as the Intercept put it, “a small speck when compared to homegrown posters”) or influence the results of the 2016 election. Then, on January 30, Columbia Journalism Review published a four-part report on Russiagate with a scathing analysis of media coverage by veteran investigative journalist Jeff Gerth. It concluded that the news media repeatedly fell short of professional standards in their handling of the story, compromising their objectivity and contributing to polarization and erosion of public trust in journalism.
The reaction from the skeptics—a motley crowd that includes everyone from hardcore Donald Trump cultists to anti-anti-Trumpists to critics of America’s national security apparatus and various anti-establishment contrarians—was downright exuberant.
Speaking of elections… Guess who is headlining CPAC this year? Kari Lake.
The gifts that keep on giving… To President Biden, that is. Rick Scott and Ron Johnson are doubling down on their entitlement proposals.
Meanwhile, in Missouri… Republicans killed a proposal to ban adolescents from openly carrying firearms.
And in the ‘Free State of Florida’… Ron DeSantis’s office continues to weaponize the right-wing media for his own persona political vendettas.
“Outright cruel…” Are we shocked that Project Veritas allegedly doesn’t treat its employees well? You hate to see it! Remember, behind nearly every right wing grift is a failed theatre geek. (Apologies if you’re a failed theatre geek.)
The Bipartisan Data Privacy Push… Is not without its own theatre.
The rise of Rep. Dan Goldman… A star prosecutor during Impeachment I, and now a Democratic Representative, the Democrats have an impressive new street brawler.
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