Friday, February 23, 2024

Fwd: The Emerging Republican Theocracy

A must read from Robert Reich 

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---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Robert Reich <robertreich@substack.com>
Date: Thu, Feb 22, 2024 at 23:04
Subject: The Emerging Republican Theocracy
To: <juanma2t@gmail.com>


White Christian nationalism is the creed of red America
͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­
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The Emerging Republican Theocracy

White Christian nationalism is the creed of red America

Feb 23
 
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Friends,

In a case centering on wrongful-death claims for frozen embryos that were destroyed in a mishap at a fertility clinic, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled last Friday that frozen embryos are "children" under state law. As a result, Alabama in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics are ceasing services, afraid to store or destroy any embryos.

The underlying issue is whether government can interfere in the most intimate aspects of people's lives — not only barring people from obtaining IVF services but also forbidding them from entering into gay marriage, utilizing contraception, having out-of-wedlock births, ending their pregnancies, changing their genders, checking out whatever books they want from the library, and worshipping God in whatever way they wish (or not worshipping at all).

All of these private freedoms are under increasing assault from Republican legislators and judges who want to impose their own morality on everyone else. Republicans are increasingly at war with America's fundamental separation of church and state. 

According to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, more than half of Republicans believe the country should be a strictly Christian nation — either adhering to the ideals of Christian nationalism (21 percent) or sympathizing with those views (33 percent).

This point of view has long been prominent among white evangelicals but is spreading into almost all reaches of the Republican Party, as exemplified by the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling.

It is also closely linked with authoritarianism. According to the survey, half of Christian nationalism adherents and nearly 4 in 10 sympathizers said they support the idea of an authoritarian leader powerful enough to keep these Christian values in society.

During an interview at a Turning Point USA event last August, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said party leaders need to be more responsive to the base of the party, which she claimed is made up of Christian nationalists.

"We need to be the party of nationalism," she said. "I am a Christian and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists."

A growing number of Republican voters view Trump as the second coming of Jesus Christ and see the 2024 election as a battle not only for America's soul but for the salvation of all mankind. Many of the Trump followers who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, carried Christian symbols, clothes, and signs invoking God and Jesus.

An influential think tank close to Trump is developing plans to infuse Christian nationalist ideas into his administration if Trump returns to power, according to documents obtained by Politico.

Spearheading the effort is Russell Vought, who served as Trump's director of the Office of Management and Budget during his first term and remains close to him. Vought, frequently cited as a potential chief of staff in a second Trump White House, has embraced the idea that Christians are under assault and has spoken of policies he might pursue in response.

Those policies include banning immigration of non-Christians into the United States, overturning same-sex marriage, and barring access to contraception.  

In a concurring opinion in last week's Alabama Supreme Court decision, Alabama's chief justice, Tom Parker, invoked the prophet Jeremiah and the writings of 16th- and 17th-century theologians. "Human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God," he wrote. "Even before birth, all human beings have the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory."

Referring to the Book of Genesis, Parker noted that "the principle itself — that human life is fundamentally distinct from other forms of life and cannot be taken intentionally without justification — has deep roots that reach back to the creation of man 'in the image of God.'"

Before joining the court, Parker was a close aide and ally of Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was twice removed from the job — first for dismissing a federal court order to remove an enormous granite monument of the Ten Commandments he had installed in the state judicial building, and then for ordering state judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court's decision affirming gay marriage.

So far, the U.S. Supreme Court has not explicitly based its decisions on scripture, but several of its recent rulings — the Dobbs decision that overruled Roe v. Wade, its decision in Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District on behalf of a public school football coach who led students in Christian prayer, and its decision in Carson v. Makin, requiring states to fund private religious schools if they fund any other private schools, even if those religious schools would use public funds for religious instruction and worship — are consistent with Christian nationalism.

But Christian nationalism is inconsistent with personal freedom, including the First Amendment's guarantee that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

We can be truly free only if we're confident we can go about our private lives without being monitored or intruded upon by government, and can practice whatever faith (or lack of faith) we wish regardless of the religious beliefs of others.

A society where one set of religious views is imposed on a large number of citizens who disagree with them is not a democracy. It's a theocracy.

 
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© 2024 Robert Reich
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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Fwd: When I met Strom Thurmond


Robert Reich rode on an elevator with racist United States Senator.   This article is about that ride.   Very unspectacular.
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---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Robert Reich <robertreich@substack.com>
Date: Thu, Feb 22, 2024 at 13:01
Subject: When I met Strom Thurmond
To: <juanma2t@gmail.com>


My conversation with him in an elevator
͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­
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When I met Strom Thurmond

My conversation with him in an elevator

Feb 22
 
READ IN APP
 

Friends,

Speaking at a campaign fundraiser in San Francisco last night, President Biden compared current Republicans in Congress to the "real racists" he served with as a senator in the 1970s and claimed today's GOP lawmakers are "worse" and have "become a party of chaos and division."

"I've been a senator since '72. I've served with real racists. I've served with Strom Thurmond," Biden said, referring to the South Carolina Republican senator and segregationist who died at the age of one hundred in 2003. "I've served with all these guys that have set terrible records on race. But guess what? These guys are worse. These guys do not believe in basic democratic principles."

"By the time Strom left, he did terrible things," Biden said of Thurmond. "My point is at least you could work with some of these guys," he added. "Time and again, Republicans show they are the party of chaos and division."

Thurmond was governor of South Carolina between 1947 and 1951 and senator for that same state between 1954 and 1956 and again from November 7, 1956 to January 3, 2003, when he retired from politics. He ran for president in 1948 for the Dixiecrat faction of the Democratic Party that defended Jim Crow laws and racial segregation. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, Thurmond joined the Republican Party.

My one interaction with Thurmond came in 1996 when I was on Capitol Hill meeting with senators about raising the minimum wage. Thurmond wasn't on my schedule.

I was in an elevator when he came in.

"Mr. Secretary," he acknowledged, with a smile.

"Senator," I said, nodding my head.

"Nice suit you have on, Mr. Secretary," he said.

There was nothing special about it, as far as I knew. Standard dark blue.

"Thank you, Senator."

"Tell me," he said, slyly. "do they make that in an adult size?"

I didn't know how to respond. The elevator doors opened and I moved to leave.

"Have a nice day, Mr. Secretary," he grinned broadly.

"You, too, Senator," I said as I exited.

 
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© 2024 Robert Reich
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104
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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Something to Know - 22 February



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---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American <heathercoxrichardson@substack.com>
Date: Wed, Feb 21, 2024 at 18:41
Subject: February 21, 2024
To: <juanma2t@gmail.com>


Seas are calm.  Honolulu was beautiful the past two days.  Departed pier 11 at 6pm.  Onward to Hilo.   HCR  has a summary of yesterday's MAGA follies and related problems,
The centerpiece of Republicans' case for impeaching Democratic president Joe Biden is the allegation that he and his son Hunter each accepted a $5 million bribe from Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma when Biden Sr. was vice president. But in the last week, that accusation has revealed quite a different problem, one that implicates Republicans.
͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­͏ ‌     ­
View in browser

The centerpiece of Republicans' case for impeaching Democratic president Joe Biden is the allegation that he and his son Hunter each accepted a $5 million bribe from Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma when Biden Sr. was vice president. But in the last week, that accusation has revealed quite a different problem, one that implicates Republicans. 

The accusation that the Bidens accepted bribes broke into public channels on May 3, 2023, when Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Representative James Comer (R-KY), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray saying they had received "highly credible…whistleblower disclosures" that said the Department of Justice and the FBI appeared to have "valuable, verifiable information that you have failed to disclose to the American people." 

Grassley and Comer claimed there was "growing concern about the DOJ and the FBI's track record of allowing political bias to infect their decision-making process," and so Congress would be conducting its own "independent and objective review of this matter." 

Comer then issued a subpoena for the document containing the information, a so-called FD-1023, which is the form used by FBI agents to record "raw, unverified" information from confidential informants. In it, informant Alexander Smirnov made a number of allegations about the Bidens, including that they had accepted bribes. 

In July, Grassley and Comer got the document and showed it to others in a secure facility. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) saw it there, took pictures of it, and posted them on social media. She claimed that "Joe Biden is a criminal and is compromised" and that he was backing Ukraine in its fight against Russia's invasion because Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky "has proof of more Biden crimes." "IMPEACH BIDEN," she wrote.

Grassley also released it, suggesting that the Justice Department and the FBI were trying to cover up a "criminal bribery scheme" implicating the Bidens. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) jumped in, saying: "Every day, the evidence keeps mounting and the evidence that is coming in is number one, of a widespread bribery scheme of Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and the entire Biden family, to extract bribes from foreign nationals." 

The idea that Biden had accepted bribes was central to the House impeachment effort that then–House speaker Kevin McCarthy (D-CA) announced in September 2023.

That story fell apart a week ago, on February 14, 2024, when a federal grand jury indicted Smirnov for lying and "creating a false and fictitious record." 

And the story became even more troubling yesterday, when Trump-appointed Special Counsel David Weiss of the Justice Department filed a document establishing that the informant, Alexander Smirnov, has "extensive and extremely recent" ties with "Russian intelligence agencies." 

The filing revealed other, more recent, false allegations Smirnov had made, and concluded that "Smirnov's efforts to spread misinformation about a candidate of one of the two major parties in the United States continues…. What this shows is that the misinformation he is spreading is not confined to 2020. He is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November." 

Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, told reporters today that "the impeachment investigation essentially ended yesterday, in substance if not in form, with the explosive revelation that Mr. Smirnov's allegations about Ukrainian Burisma payments to Joe Biden were concocted along with Russian intelligence agents. And it appears like the whole thing was not only obviously false and fraudulent but a product of Russian disinformation and propaganda. And that's been the motor force behind this investigation for more than a year."

The Republican release of Smirnov's allegations in July 2023 did not happen in a vacuum: they came right after the Republican-led House censured Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) for "misleading the American public and for conduct unbecoming of an elected Member of the House of Representatives," including "spread[ing] false accusations that the [2016] Trump campaign colluded with Russia."

But the Mueller Report concluded that "[t]he Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion" and that "the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts." The Senate Intelligence Committee Report found that "the Russian government engaged in an aggressive, multifaceted effort to influence…the outcome of the 2016 presidential election" and that Trump campaign advisor Paul Manafort worked directly with Konstantin Kilimnik, "a Russian intelligence officer."  

That effort continued in 2020, with the U.S. intelligence community assessing in March 2021 that "Russian President Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden's candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US."

That foreign countries try to influence elections is far less a surprise than that one of the two major U.S. political parties now appears to be, wittingly or not, working on their behalf.

That willingness to do anything to win—even working with a foreign dictator—seems a logical outgrowth of the process begun during the administration of President Richard Nixon, when his people deliberately appealed to voters' emotions with a picture of traditional America under siege by antiwar student activists, people of color, and feminist women. 

To rally voters to their party in the 1970s midterms, Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew engaged in what they called "positive polarization." Nixon's speechwriter Pat Buchanan wrote a memo to Nixon warning: "We are in a contest over the soul of the country now and the decision will not be some middle compromise…. It will be their kind of society or ours." 

The theme that the Republicans' opponents were dangerous socialists out to destroy the country became the centerpiece of Republican rhetoric. From President Ronald Reagan's welfare queen, who was scamming the system and thus taxpayers, through talk radio host Rush Limbaugh's "feminazis," to Trump's claim that immigrants are "poisoning the blood of our country," the party has defined itself as "true America" standing against enemies.

And if you believe you are fighting for the right, it only makes sense to do whatever it takes to win.

Meanwhile, that belief has now overlapped with the evangelical base that supports what it considers traditional values so that, as Alexander Ward and Heidi Przybyla outlined in Politico yesterday, the party is now advancing plans to impose Christian nationalism on the country. Leaders of the Christian nationalist movement incorrectly believe that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, so they intend to rest the government and public life on what they consider to be Christian values. 

In December, Trump promised: "Upon taking office, I will create a new federal task force on fighting anti-Christian bias to be led by a fully reformed Department of Justice." 

What that might look like became clear this week when the Alabama Supreme Court decided in a wrongful death suit resulting from the accidental destruction of embryos that were part of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) process, in which doctors artificially fertilize eggs outside the womb and then transfer them into a person, that fertilized human eggs have the same status as children. Chief Justice Tom Parker declared in a concurring opinion that the people of Alabama have adopted the "theologically based view" that "life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God."

About 2% of U.S. births are a product of IVF. Today the largest healthcare system in Alabama has announced it is halting its IVF program out of fear of prosecution. 

Reworking the nation to impose Christian nationalism requires minority rule, which aligns with the ideology of authoritarianism, enabling Trump and those who share his views to praise someone like Vladimir Putin. And, it seems, to accept his help winning elections.

Notes:

https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.nvd.167064/gov.uscourts.nvd.167064.15.0.pdf

https://www.factcheck.org/2024/02/indictment-of-fbi-informant-undermines-centerpiece-of-gops-impeachment-case/

https://perma.cc/Z7N6-9Q8L

https://perma.cc/7Z4D-ZHPH

https://apnews.com/article/mccarthy-speaker-biden-impeachment-republicans-shutdown-4d8c314763252429a6f87e7d13ad2b43

https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-resolution/521/text

https://www.justice.gov/archives/sco/file/1373816/download

https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/report_volume5.pdf

https://www.dni.gov/files/ODNI/documents/assessments/ICA-declass-16MAR21.pdf

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2024-election/trump-says-immigrants-are-poisoning-blood-country-biden-campaign-liken-rcna130141

https://www.politico.com/news/2024/02/20/donald-trump-allies-christian-nationalism-00142086

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2024/02/abortion-bans-alabama-ivf-explained.html

https://www.al.com/news/2024/02/uab-pauses-in-vitro-fertilization-due-to-fear-of-prosecution-officials-say.html

Patrick J. Buchanan, "Media Memorandum for the President," May 2, 1970, at Nixon Library, https://bit.ly/3XXkxXV. Spiro Agnew, quoted in Thomas Byrne Edsall with Mary D. Edsall, Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991), p. 85.

https://www.justice.gov/sco-weiss/pr/grand-jury-returns-indictment-charging-fbi-confidential-human-source-felony-false

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