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For Trump, Racism Is an Election Strategy. For the Republican Right, It’s a Path to Power.

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Most Republican leaders sat in shameful silence after President Trump told four women of color in the House of Representatives—three of them born in the U.S—to “go back” to  the “crime infested” countries they came from. When called on his racist rhetoric, Trump doubled down and dialed up the volume, accusing these elected officials of hating America and again inviting them and anyone else like them to leave. His followers picked up on his cue, chanting “send her back” after Trump slammed Rep. Ilhan Omar at a political rally.

Trump’s racist rants and policy pronouncements aren’t just a glimpse into his id; they’re part of a strategy for inflaming his supporters against perceived threats from “the other”—people of color, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ people and “socialists”—in order to win elections.  And for the right-wing political machine that has embraced him, that’s the key to their real endgame, which is to maintain and increase the access to power that they’ve gained since Trump came into office. That power is apparent in Trump’s massive tax cut for the wealthy, in the administration’s aggressive moves to overturn regulations that protect individuals, communities, and the environment, and in the judges they hope will gut the federal government’s constitutional authority to act on behalf of the common good.

This is not to say that Trump’s racism is not heartfelt. Decades of evidence suggest that it is. But Trump also apparently believes that his campaign tirades against immigrants put him in the White House. And he has clearly decided that he can win re-election by fully embracing that strategy. That’s why his administration has embraced cruelty as official policy, even to the point of stealing babies from their parents—and perpetuating conditions that are traumatizing and, yes, killing children.

For Trump, it’s a playbook for winning. For those who see themselves as pious or otherwise respectable Republicans, what could be worth all the horror and humiliation?

Power.

Groups from every corner of the conservative movement are enjoying the fulfillment of long-held wish lists, which is why right-wing leaders—including Trump’s evangelical cheerleaders—will do anything for him, and tolerate or actually cheer anything he says or does, no matter how base or cruel.

Recall that when Trump jumped into the presidential race, it wasn’t as a movement conservative. His candidacy was an ego-stroking power trip that followed the demagogic path cleared by right-wing authors, radio hosts and TV pundits who had primed millions of Americans to resent “illegal aliens” and “political correctness” and not to trust the “liberal media.”

Trump likes to believe he’s the genius who created the conditions for his own victory. It’s true that he brought the strongman bombast his followers love, but the conditions for his success were created by a massive infrastructure of think tanks, media outlets, and political organizations funded for decades by right-wing foundations and wealthy conservatives. Alongside and overlapping that movement is the Religious Right, which spent decades building its own infrastructure and effectively taking over the Republican Party from the bottom up.

Trump’s advisers know where power resides in today’s GOP. When Trump picked Mike Pence as his running mate, he simultaneously signaled the two most important Republican power blocs that had previously been suspicious of him—Religious Right leaders and the Koch brothers’ political networks. And when Trump pledged to turn over the selection of Supreme Court justices to the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, he won allegiance both from activists eager to ban abortion and reverse progress toward LGBTQ equality—and from those eager to further weaken the power of unions and reverse decades of progressive regulation and court rulings.

Which is how we got to where we are today, when white evangelical Christians are the most unapologetic and unquestioningly loyal defenders of the “anointed” Trump, no matter what he says or does or who he hurts. In return, they’re getting the Supreme Court of their dreams and an executive branch that is advancing its anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ policy agendas.

And when Mick Mulvaney, elected to Congress in the 2010 Tea Party wave, is using his power as White House chief of staff to push executive branch agencies to more aggressively reverse regulations that might inconvenience corporations. One advantage of authoritarian governments for those on the inside has always been the power to plunder.

Then there’s the assault on the judiciary. The harmful judges that Trump and Mitch McConnell are putting in lifetime positions on the federal courts are being counted on by his supporters not only to reverse Roe v. Wade and marriage equality and landmark decisions upholding separation of church and state, but also dismantle the administrative state and undo the New Deal and Great Society programs by returning us to a 19th century state-rights-focused interpretation of the Constitution that would drastically restrict the authority of the federal government to regulate corporate behavior.

Trump’s personal goals for his presidency may focus on self-aggrandizement, self-enrichment, and reversing any step taken by the Obama administration. But the right-wing movement’s more audacious goal—to reverse much of the legal and social progress of the past century—depends on keeping Trump in the White House and continuing to pack the courts with judges chosen for their youth as well as their ideology so as to extend Trump’s influence for decades beyond his time in the White House.

Republican leaders and prominent conservatives have apparently made the shameful and cynical calculation that the goal of achieving their turn-back-the-clock agenda is so worthwhile that if achieving it requires creating a brutal humanitarian catastrophe, or undermining constitutional checks and balances, or poisoning our political culture with racist and nativist rhetoric that energizes violent bigots and white nationalists, so be it.

This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.

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Watch Live: Day One of the Historic January 6 House Select Committee Hearing

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It’s been 202 days since Donald Trump, then the President, incited the attack on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn a free and fair election. The January 6 insurrection, an act of domestic terrorism, an attempted coup, is one of the darkest days in American history.

At 9:30 AM Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) will gavel in day one of the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, a bipartisan investigation into that dark day.

You can watch live below. The proceedings will also be carried and streamed on most major networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN. Fox News is expected to have a degree of coverage.

Today’s hearing will feature testimony from four officers who defended members of Congress and the Capitol on January 6, or, as Chairman Thompson said, “frontline heroes who put their lives on the line to protect our democracy.”

Here are several feeds for you to watch live:

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‘It’s What Stupid People Do’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe Burns Kevin McCarthy for ‘Childish’ Games

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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough ripped House minority leader Kevin McCarthy for making up “stupid” nicknames for a pair of Republicans who refuse to go along with Donald Trump’s election lies.

Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) were among 10 GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, and they will sit on the House panel investigating that assault on democracy — and McCarthy mocked them as “Pelosi Republicans.”

“It’s what stupid people do,” Scarborough said. “If you look at the facts, which Kevin McCarthy doesn’t ever do, Liz Cheney has like a 95 percent [American Conservative Union] rating, 95 percent conservative rating over the course of her career, which is actually my conservative rating, but what I found out a long time ago and Liz certainly has known for some time now, obviously, by saying what’s going on, this Republican Party, Donald Trump’s Republican Party doesn’t care about ideas, doesn’t care about ideology, doesn’t care about conservatism, it is disconnected from conservatism.”

“It’s all tribal,” he continued, “it’s all about voodoo in medicine, violence on Jan. 6, it’s all about covering up actually what Donald Trump is doing, and so Kevin McCarthy resorts to childish name calling for, again, I don’t know what Adam’s lifetime conservative rating is, but Liz’s is 95 percent, one of the more conservative members in the United States Congress, by the way, and so, that’s what they resort to. Why? Because that’s all they have. They don’t have the facts on their side, they don’t have history on their side, so all he can do is act like act like a 3-year-old, or Donald Trump, same thing, and just throw names around. So lots of luck with that.”

“It’s not going to change the fact that four police officers are going to talk about how they were brutalized and almost killed by Donald Trump supporters on Jan. 6, as they were trying to actually overthrow the government and commit sedition against the United States of America and stop the voting, which is constitutionally mandated, of the Electoral College voting,” Scarborough concluded. “But that’s the party that Kevin McCarthy will always be associated with. Lots of luck with that, buddy, lots of luck with that.”

 

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‘You Falsely Smeared My Wife and She’s Getting Death Threats’: Eric Swalwell Posts Angry Texts With Tucker Carlson

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On Friday, The Daily Beast reported that Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) posted screenshots of an angry argument between him and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who wanted to get him on the phone for a call.

“Tucker, I’m hesitant to do that. You falsely smeared my wife on Tuesday and she’s getting death threats,” said Swalwell, referring to a retracted Fox News story alleging that Swalwell’s campaign funneled money to a business employing his wife. “That’s way out of bounds. She’s a pregnant mom of a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. Hit me all you like. But to go after her. That’s just wrong.”

“Carlson responded by calling the Democrat a ‘coward’ and then apparently phoning him a few minutes later,” reported Blake Montgomery. “Swalwell tweeted, ‘I’m just not that into you.'”

Swalwell, the second-highest ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has long been a target of rage for conservatives. Carlson has also accused Swalwell of aiding a Chinese spy — although experts have made clear that Swalwell in fact properly worked with the FBI to help upon learning the spy had tried to get information from him.

 

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