Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Last Call For Bad Religion, Con't

The reaction by the fascist "Christian" hard right to last week's Mar-a-Lago warrant being served by the FBI is proof enough that most churches need to lose their tax-exempt status, frankly.

Right-wing Christian media kicked into high gear in the days following the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, coalescing around a defense of former President Donald Trump based on a smorgasbord of persecution complexes, whataboutism, conspiracy theories, lies, and misinformation about law enforcement and the judicial process. The Christian right and its GOP allies are counting on their base consuming a steady diet of these radio shows, podcasts, social media posts, and email blasts, tuning out any coverage that conflicts with their image of Trump as both a virile hero and a victim besieged by radical leftists at the FBI. For them, God anointed Trump, choosing an “unlikely” leader to restore Christian America. It is precisely because Trump is singularly capable of resurrecting the Christian nation, this thinking goes, that the radical leftists of the deep state want to bring him down.

On the night of the raid, Tony Perkins, president of the leading Christian right political organization the Family Research Council, tweeted, “Who trusts the FBI to pursue justice? The agency has become so politicized that even if their actions were justified half the nation still would not trust them.” The next day, Franklin Graham, scion of the evangelist Billy Graham, also stoked distrust of the FBI, invoking the 1992 standoff at the Ruby Ridge compound of the anti-government, white supremacist extremist Randy Weaver. “Last night as we watched the events that unfolded at Mar-a-Lago, I couldn’t help but think that the FBI and DOJ are losing credibility and the trust of the American people again,” Graham wrote on Facebook. He then invoked the conspiracy theory, now pervasive in right-wing circles, that new funding in the Inflation Reduction Act to boost collection of taxes owed by the wealthy was “a step in weaponizing the IRS to act against people, organizations, and businesses who have a voice of dissent against government agendas.”

A central theme of the Christian right’s coverage is that the raid was politically motivated to stop Trump from running for president again in 2024, and to dampen his influence in the 2022 midterms. “Was it driven by politics or national security? Why did we not see the same with Hillary Clinton?” asked Perkins on his radio program, Washington Watch, on August 12, the day after Attorney General Merrick Garland publicly explained the legal process by which the search warrant was obtained and executed. Just the fact that Clinton’s home was never the subject of a search warrant — never mind whether there was any basis to seek or obtain one — was evidence enough that Trump had received unequal treatment.

Perkins even lauded the Trump administration for not investigating Clinton because “they didn’t want to create a political circus like we see happening right now.” (Trump, of course, is well-known for not creating political circuses, and for his magnanimous treatment of Hillary Clinton.) Perkins went on to say that Clinton “was not paraded out in handcuffs,” a verbal sleight of hand that suggested (falsely) that Trump was. (He was not even present at Mar-a-Lago the night of the raid.) Then Perkins waved off the ubiquitous “lock her up” chants at Trump rallies, and said, “I don’t even think many conservatives would want political leaders, even of the other side, mistreated, or treated in such a fashion that shakes our very concept of justice and dignity in this country.”

Themes of war — actual and spiritual — abounded, a call to arms for Trump’s Christian followers who are being primed to believe that just as law enforcement came after Trump, it will come after them. Eric Metaxas, a popular evangelical author, Trump promoter, and radio host, called the FBI “thugs.” He interviewed Charlie Kirk, the founder of the right-wing campus group Turning Point USA and also a rising star in the evangelical world, who declared the raid a “rubicon” moment for the left. “It wasn’t a raid, it was a military occupation,” Kirk told Metaxas, adding “I looked at it as a political invasion. I looked at it as they invaded us.” Stephen Strang, an influential evangelical publisher and author of four laudatory books about Trump, wrote, “I believe God raised up Donald Trump and there is warfare going on — satanic activity that is trying to tear down the fabric of this country.” He urged “Americans who are concerned about religious freedom and the threat of communist agendas to this country” to “stand up and voice their support for President Trump.”
Again, all this is in service to a pig of a human being. The imagery of Christian soldiers killing the unclean to conquer America and make it into a Christian fascist theocracy is not just a recruiting tool, armed religious fascism is the actual plan.

This toxic brew of conspiracy theories, incendiary language, and veneration of Trump is likely to only get uglier and more dangerous as this and other investigations of Trump progress. Christian right figures are repeating Trump’s claim that FBI agents searched his wife Melania’s closet, feeding right-wing paranoias that the “deep state” is filled with sexual deviants. On one side is Trump, whom God anointed. On the other are creepy thugs who rummage through his wife’s intimate belongings.

Kirk, in particular, effectively sanctified Mar-a-Lago as an untouchable holy place, one that the base would fight to defend
. “You want a rallying cry?” he asked Metaxas. “They occupied Mar-a-Lago!” The resort, Kirk went on, is “not just the president’s home. It’s a piece of presidential history. It’s the place where treaties were signed and important meetings happened. They desecrated a core point of American history, for what? For Melania’s shawl? Or to spend an hour in her closet?”

Kirk, though, thinks he has a solution: lawless revenge. “State attorneys general that are Republican have to authorize raids against Soros groups, BLM, Planned Parenthood, the alphabet mafia, groomers, chemical castration of children, now,” he said. (“Alphabet mafia” is a right-wing slur for the LGBTQ movement, and “chemical castration” maligns gender-affirming care for trans kids.) He told Metaxas he has texted state attorneys general that he knows, including Texas’ Ken Paxton and Lousiana’s Jeff Landry, to encourage them to execute their own raids on such organizations as retaliation, even if they did not expect to make any arrests.

In this upside-down world, Trump is sanctified and besieged, and everyone else is getting away with unspeakable crimes. If the past week’s worth of Christian right media coverage of the Mar-a-Lago raid is any indication, we should expect ongoing, escalating attacks on anyone perceived to be an enemy of God’s anointed, persecuted president.
So yeah, when indictments are announced, I would absolutely expect lethal violence across the country as a result. People will fight, kill, and die in Trump's name.
The only question is how many they take down with them.

Water Logged On The Colorado

For the second year in a row, Western states will have to make significant cuts to water usage as the Colorado River and the Lake Mead reservoir has now reached Level 2 water shortage status.
The drought in the Colorado River basin is reaching "a tipping point," Camille Calimlim Touton, the Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner, said. Her remarks come as the bureau announced its forecast for the water system in the West at a time when the region is experiencing a multi-year megadrought made worse by the climate crisis.

Touton said the Colorado River basin is in its 23rd year of a "historic drought." This year's forecast prompted the bureau to declare a Tier 2 water shortage on the Colorado River — forcing several Southwest states to make mandatory water cuts for the second year in a row.

The commissioner said Lake Powell and Lake Mead — the country's two largest reservoirs — are also at "historically low levels."

“The system is approaching a tipping point and without action we cannot protect the system and the millions of Americans who rely on this resource," Touton said.

By taking conservation actions, like water cuts, she said the bureau needs to ensure communities, tribal nations and the environment are sustained, not just next year but for the future

"Protecting the system means protecting the people of the American West," she said.
There's no reason to believe things are going to get better anytime soon, environmentally or politically.

According to a new projection from the Department of the Interior, Lake Mead’s water level will be below 1,050 feet above sea level come January — the threshold required to declare a Tier 2 shortage starting in 2023.

Lake Mead’s level has been around 1,040 feet this summer, just 27% of its full capacity.

The Tier 2 shortage means Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will have to further reduce their Colorado River use beginning in January. California will not have cuts made to to their Colorado River yet. (The threshold for California’s first cut is 1,045 feet in January.)

Of the impacted states, Arizona will face the largest cuts — 592,000 acre-feet — or about 21% of the state’s yearly allotment of river water.

“Every sector in every state has a responsibility to ensure that water is used with maximum efficiency. In order to avoid a catastrophic collapse of the Colorado River System and a future of uncertainty and conflict, water use in the Basin must be reduced,” Interior’s assistant secretary for water and science Tanya Trujillo said in a statement.

Interior’s projections show that by January of next year, Lake Mead’s water surface elevations will be at 1,047.61 feet. Meanwhile, Lake Powell’s water surface elevation will be at 3,521.84 feet – 32 feet above minimum power pool, or the amount needed to generate electricity from hydroelectric operations.

Separately, US Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton and other federal water officials said they are prepared to take additional administrative actions needed to protect the Colorado River, Lake Powell and Lake Mead from falling to “critically low levels.”

Earlier this summer, Touton set a deadline of mid-August for the seven Colorado River states to come up with a plan to cut as much as 25% of their river water usage. It became apparent early this week that those negotiations have stalled, which led some lawmakers and state water officials to call on the federal government to take aggressive action on their own.

Interior has not yet outlined next steps in Touton’s demand for the states’ plan.
If you thought the fight between white supremacist terrorists in the Southwestern US and the Biden administration was bad before, wait until Arizona declares war on California over water restrictions.

Does anyone believe GOP crackpot Kari Lake, if elected governor of Arizona, would comply with Biden Interior Department water regulations for a moment?

This has all the makings of a real, actual battle over resources, and it's only a taste of what's coming in the months and years ahead.

Daughter Of Darkness, Defeated Decisively

I have to admit, I was wrong about GOP Rep. Liz Cheney's Wyoming primary. I thought she was going to lose by 15-20 points in an embarrassing collapse of her political career, crucified by Wyoming GOP voters and Donald Trump as revenge for her role in his impeachment and as co-chair of the House January 6th Committee. But I was wrong.

Trump and his allies have spent the spring and summer turning Republican primaries across the political map into bitter fights in which loyalty to the former President was the central factor.

He lost some high-profile battles, including in Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger held off Trump-back challengers. 
But in most open-seat races, Trump's candidates triumphed. And on Tuesday in Wyoming, Trump, who had endorsed Hageman on the day she entered the race against Cheney, claimed his biggest victory yet. 
Cheney is now the eighth of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump following the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol to exit the House. Four have opted not to seek reelection, and four more have lost GOP primaries. 
In the lead-up to Tuesday's primary, Cheney insisted she was trying to win. 
But her strategy -- attempting to convince the Republican electorate in a state the former President won by a margin of 43 percentage points in 2020 to turn on him -- suggests she'd made a different choice: to go down swinging. 
She infuriated Republicans by urging Wyoming Democrats and unaffiliated voters to switch their party registration and vote in Tuesday's GOP primary. 
Surrounded by US Capitol Police officers on the campaign trail, Cheney opted for small, private events over rallies. She lambasted Trump in television interviews. 
Her campaign's closing message was a TV ad featuring her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, calling Trump a "coward" who lies to his supporters and "tried to steal the last election" using violence. 
Her election night event, on a ranch in Jackson Hole with the sun setting over the Grand Tetons in the background, didn't feature any television screens for supporters to watch results tabulated in a race Cheney was all but certain to lose. 
She told supporters that she could have cozied up to Trump and did what she'd done in the primary two years earlier: win with 73% of the vote. 
"That was a path I could not and would not take," Cheney said. "No House seat, no office in this land, is more important than the principles that we are all sworn to protect. And I well understood the potential political consequences of abiding by my duty." 
She went down swinging, she stuck to her guns, yes. But as I said last night on Twitter:


She refused to go along with Trump's lie and was butchered for it. But the GOP primary voters in Wyoming were more than happy to break out the long knives. Republicans don't want principles, or duty, or anything of the sort. They want bloody vengeance against Democrats and their voters, and they want to elect people who will destroy their "enemies" and who will permit them to join in the lynchings. 

There were never "good" Republicans left.  Hell, there aren't even sane ones left. Trying to "save" this party is a fool's errand because there's no saving it. Last night proved that. There are no good Republicans left.

Just inchoate rage goblins.

That includes Liz Cheney.


The three-term congresswoman has not said what her next political move will be -- including whether she'll run for president in 2024 as a foil for Trump. 
But she used her speech to preview a continued fight against Trump, without laying out exactly what that means. 
"I have said since January 6 that I will do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never again near the Oval Office, and I mean it. This is a fight for all of us, together," she said. 
"I'm a conservative Republican. ... But I love my country more. So I ask you tonight to join me: As we leave here, let us resolve that we will stand together, Republicans, Democrats and independents, against those who would destroy our republic." 
As she left the stage, Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" blared over the event's speakers.
Stopping Trump would mean electing Democrats, not finding Republican alternatives who will be purged from the party and left in piles of politically irrelevant smoking wreckage, conning the rubes into giving them money.
Guess which road  Cheney will take?

No, don't feel bad for her. The answer, as it has always been in the last several decades, is vote Blue.

Related Posts with Thumbnails