Monday, July 12, 2021

Last Call For The Big Lie, Con't

Next week, the Maricopa County, Arizona "audit" of the 2020 ballots will enter its fourth month, and there's no sign that the audit will ever end. As Amanda Carpenter reveals, that's the point. Audit uber alles!

If you’re waiting to read the Cyber Ninjas’ report about Maricopa County’s election counts to find out what happens next in Donald Trump’s rigged election narrative, don’t bother.

The sham audit itself is the endgame. The audit, which began on April 23, was supposed to end by May 14. Now, nearly two months after blowing past that deadline, a spokesman says people shouldn’t expect anything until August. But, really, who knows when, or if, it all will ever end

It’s not like anyone in MAGA land is in any hurry to call curtains on the big show. That’s because the performance, as incompetent as it is, is the point. It’s what’s keeping Trump’s election delusions alive and well; not what will prove or disprove whether the fantasy has merit. The play’s the thing.

Besides, haven’t they already won, on some level? It’s not every day a couple of partisans are able to seize millions of ballots and a bunch of expensive election equipment to put on a big, months-long show at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Everybody came, too. Politicos, reporters, elected officials. MAGA propagandists are still capitalizing on all the free content. And donations keep pouring into the coffers of Trump-adjacent grifters all around. Why end it now?

The auditors haven’t even drafted a report and already, there’s lots of breathless talk from MAGA land about taking the show on the road to Pennsylvania. The dominos are falling, just as the prophecy foretold!

Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli “Stop the Counting” Ward couldn’t be happier. “It is good to know that the Arizona audit is already inspiring others to take important steps to ensure election integrity,” she said in a video on Friday. “Even before its completion, the Arizona audit, America’s audit, is bearing good fruit.”

Joy! The sequel is being planned before the first release even wraps its maiden run! Election Integrity Forever!

There are plenty of financial, legal, and political costs associated with the spectacle, none of which seem to worry the audit’s proponents much. They’re having too much fun.

They’re not concerned about sticking Arizona taxpayers with the bill for voting equipment that will need to be replaced at a yet-to-be-determined cost. They’re not thinking about the implications of using private funds to finance what was billed as a public, government-run enterprise before spiraling into bamboo-sniffing, Cheeto-dust-hunting ridiculousness. The Department of Justice has warned about possible legal exposure that Arizona Republicans have for violating federal laws requiring the preservation of election records. But that hasn’t slowed them down, either.

More than likely, the audit will damage the Republican brand even further in the critical swing state of Arizona, where it lost both its marquee races—the presidency and U.S. Senate—in 2020. A recent Bendixen & Amandi International poll found roughly half of Arizona voters oppose the recount effort and that the “intensity of opposition to the audit exceeded the intensity of support, with those strongly opposed to it outnumbering those strongly in favor by 5 percentage points.”

Considering that Maricopa County delivers about two-thirds of Arizona’s votes, someone ought to start writing a political thriller for 2022. Title it: “Backlash
Boy I'd like to think that this is how it plays out, but something tells me that it's not going to happen this way. "Remember Arizona!" is going to be a permanent battle cry through 2022 I suspect. In fact, the best thing for the GOP would be for Democrats to try to force an end to the report, and they'll hold out until someone makes them issue...some kind of statement.
Then they'll bitch about needing another audit.
It'll never end. That's the point.

The Road To Gilead, Con't

America's journey into the darkness continues while Trump is out of political power, for there are plenty of folks who expect him to return triumphantly and usher in a new epoch of rule. The problem is they're not waiting until 2024, hell they're expecting in next month. And of course, we can't have a Christian fundamentalist theocracy without an official state religion, right?  

The pastor was already pacing when he gave the first signal. Then he gave another, and another, until a giant video screen behind him was lit up with an enormous colored map of Fort Worth divided into four quadrants.

Greed, the map read over the west side. Competition, it said over the east side. Rebellion, it said over the north part of the city. Lust, it said over the south.

It was an hour and a half into the 11 a.m. service of a church that represents a rapidly growing kind of Christianity in the United States, one whose goal includes bringing under the authority of a biblical God every facet of life, from schools to city halls to Washington, where the pastor had traveled a month after the Jan. 6 insurrection and filmed himself in front of the U.S. Capitol saying quietly, “Father, we declare America is yours.”

Now he stood in front of the glowing map, a 38-year-old White man in skinny jeans telling a congregation of some 1,500 people what he said the Lord had told him: that Fort Worth was in thrall to four “high-ranking demonic forces.” That all of America was in the grip of “an anti-Christ spirit.” That the Lord had told him that 2021 was going to be the “Year of the Supernatural,” a time when believers would rise up and wage “spiritual warfare” to advance God’s Kingdom, which was one reason for the bright-red T-shirt he was wearing. It bore the name of a church elder who was running for mayor of Fort Worth. And when the pastor cued the band, the candidate, a Guatemalan American businessman, stood along with the rest of the congregation as spotlights flashed on faces that were young and old, rich and poor, White and various shades of Brown — a church that had grown so large since its founding in 2019 that there were now three services every Sunday totaling some 4,500 people, a growing Saturday service in Spanish and plans for expansion to other parts of the country.

“Say, ‘Cleanse me,’ ” the pastor continued as drums began pounding and the people repeated his words. “Say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servants are listening.’ ”

The church is called Mercy Culture, and it is part of a growing Christian movement that is nondenominational, openly political and has become an engine of former president Donald Trump’s Republican Party. It includes some of the largest congregations in the nation, housed in the husks of old Baptist churches, former big-box stores and sprawling multimillion-dollar buildings with private security to direct traffic on Sundays. Its most successful leaders are considered apostles and prophets, including some with followings in the hundreds of thousands, publishing empires, TV shows, vast prayer networks, podcasts, spiritual academies, and branding in the form of T-shirts, bumper stickers and even flags. It is a world in which demons are real, miracles are real, and the ultimate mission is not just transforming individual lives but also turning civilization itself into their version of God’s Kingdom: one with two genders, no abortion, a free-market economy, Bible-based education, church-based social programs and laws such as the ones curtailing LGBTQ rights now moving through statehouses around the country.

This is the world of Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White and many more lesser-known but influential religious leaders who prophesied that Trump would win the election and helped organize nationwide prayer rallies in the days before the Jan. 6 insurrection, speaking of an imminent “heavenly strike” and “a Christian populist uprising,” leading many who stormed the Capitol to believe they were taking back the country for God.

Even as mainline Protestant and evangelical denominations continue an overall decline in numbers in a changing America, nondenominational congregations have surged from being virtually nonexistent in the 1980s to accounting for roughly 1 in 10 Americans in 2020, according to long-term academic surveys of religious affiliation. Church leaders tend to attribute the growth to the power of an uncompromised Christianity. Experts seeking a more historical understanding point to a relatively recent development called the New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR.

A California-based theologian coined the phrase in the 1990s to describe what he said he had seen as a missionary in Latin America — vast church growth, miracles, and modern-day prophets and apostles endowed with special powers to fight demonic forces. He and others promoted new church models using sociological principles to attract members. They also began advancing a set of beliefs called dominionism, which holds that God commands Christians to assert authority over the “seven mountains” of life — family, religion, education, economy, arts, media and government — after which time Jesus Christ will return and God will reign for eternity.

None of which is new, exactly. Strains of this thinking formed the basis of the Christian right in the 1970s and have fueled the GOP for decades.

What is new is the degree to which Trump elevated a fresh network of NAR-style leaders who in turn elevated him as God’s chosen president, a fusion that has secured the movement as a grass-roots force within the GOP just as the old Christian right is waning. Increasingly, this is the world that the term “evangelical voter” refers to — not white-haired Southern Baptists in wooden pews but the comparatively younger, more diverse, more extreme world of millions drawn to leaders who believe they are igniting a new Great Awakening in America, one whose epicenter is Texas.
It's had many names and many forms over the years, last decade it was Quiverfull (as in "breeding an army of God's soldiers, arrows to fill the quiver") and two decades ago it was Prosperity Gospel (God will make you rich!)
People keep asking the wrong question, which is "How can evangelical Christians support Donald Trump?" The assumption is that Democrats must be doing something critically wrong to lose 80% of the white evangelical vote to someone like him. The reality though is that modern American Christianity has changed into something malignant, and it sees Trump as its prophet. Dems never had a chance to win over these folks, because Democrats are literally the anti-Christ to these folks.

It's a holy war, guys.

Those never end well.

Taking On Gunmerica

Former NYPD captain Eric Adams won NYC's ranked choice Democratic primary, and as such there's a 99.9% chance he ends up Mayor (something that has Trumpy Republican Curtis Sliwa very upset, folks) and everyone knows it. Adams isn't resting on his laurels either, not flinching from calling out national progressive Dems for focusing gun safety efforts on rifles like the AR-15 and mass shootings and for not more heavily regulating the weapons that compose most of street crime in cities like NYC: handguns.

New York City Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams said Sunday that national Democrats are focusing on the wrong issue in terms of gun violence.

Adams told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that Democrats’ priorities on gun laws at the federal level are misguided, saying they’ve focused too much on banning assault rifles in the aftermath of mass shootings, while they should be focusing more on gun crimes committed with handguns, which are more common.

“I believe those priorities, they really were misplaced,” Adams said. “And it's almost insulting what we have witnessed over the last few years. Many of our presidents, they saw these numbers. They knew that the inner cities, particularly where Black brown and poor people lived, they know — they knew they were dealing with this real crisis.”

Adams officially won the Democratic mayoral nomination last week as the results from the city's first ranked-choice election were released. He ran as a moderate with a centrist message focused on public safety, police reform and reversing a surge in crime in New York City.

He stressed Sunday that Democrats need to increase focus on the trafficking of handguns, “just as we became energetic after we saw mass shootings with assault rifles in the suburban parts of our country.”

“The numbers of those who are killed by handguns are astronomical. And if we don't start having real federal legislation, matched with states and cities, we're never going to get this crisis under control,” he said.

Adams commended President Joe Biden’s increased focus on the rise in gun crimes in recent weeks, with the president announcing on June 23 that the Justice Department was launching five firearms trafficking strike forces in cities across the country. Last week, during a trip to Illinois, Biden addressed “the fight against gun violence” following a deadly July Fourth weekend in Chicago, where 104 people were shot and 19 were killed.

The Biden administration is grappling with an uptick in violent crimes in big cities this year, with guns driving much of that spike in violence.

“I believe, for the first time, we are going to see a coordinated effort between the president, the governor, the mayor to go after the flow of guns in our city, which is extremely important. But then, right on the ground, how do we deal with the intervention aspects of it?” Adams said on what New Yorkers can expect if he’s elected mayor.
Adams stresses he doesn't want to ban handguns, something that would never survive the Roberts Court anyway. He wants to go after gun dealers, their suppliers, and enforcing laws already on the books to save real people in neighborhoods rather than performative social media bleating.

What a concept.

Sorry, I missed having a pragmatic Democratic party that doesn't give in to the screeching hordes, and man is it ever good to see it again. New tag, as I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot from him in the years ahead: Eric Adams.
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