I had to laugh this morning when I saw Team Cawthorn blaming Adam Kinzinger for his defeat in the North Carolina Republican primary. I think there are a lot of North Carolina Republicans who would dispute that and who are very proud of the anti-fascist/anti-moron house-cleaning they just accomplished. Olivia Beavers reported that "Cawthorn took to Instagram recently to share a post from an allied social media account that cited Kinzinger’s PAC as playing a role in the North Carolina freshman’s primary ouster. 'Turns out Adam Kinzinger has been busy backstabbing the MAGA Base once again … His PAC Country First contacts Democrats to vote for RINOs in the NC and GA primaries… Sadly it’s working,' Rogan O'Handley, who identifies as a political influencer, shared on social media. He claimed that 5,400 Democrats voted in Cawthorn’s primary in a race where he lost by 1,500 votes. O'Handley also suggested Kinzinger’s PAC made a big difference in the primary race for Georgia’s secretary of state position, where incumbent Brad Raffensperger handily dispatched his Trump-backed challenger, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA). Cawthorn wrote a terse caption: 'Close [GOP] primaries.' Kinzinger said he is 'fairly confident' that his efforts to turn out Democrats, independents and 'disaffected' Republicans in the Cawthorn-Edwards primary 'made the difference.'"
And that takes us to the one person in Congress even loonier than Cawthorn: Marjorie Traitor Greene, the former blowjob queen of Alpharetta, Georgia, currently the head of Gang-Greene (AKA, the MAGA Caucus). This morning, Tom Edsall asked the brain-dead and insulting question that elderly media hacks always ask, How do the GOP neo-Nazis differ from the Squad? As if they have anything in common in any way! Edsall wrote that he "asked a high-ranking Republican staff member with decades of government experience" and the Republican git the obvious answer right: "They are different in that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the 'squad' seem to me to be more 'idealist.' They actually do want to legislate/accomplish the very far left social ideas they propose. They are willing to cause Pelosi headaches, but they have shown they are not going to go so far as to jeopardize the government (operations) and safety net that so many families depend on from a working government... I hate to use a loaded word here but I can’t think of another one, the 'MAGA Caucus' members operate more like bullies-- legislative bullies. If they have the opportunity they will gladly hold bills/government funding hostage for the sake of populism and social media. They would take pride in 'shooting the hostage' as that would be very popular with their tribal base and their social media."
What they do have in common is that both are anti-Establishment, which upsets establishment media types as well as establishment politicians and their supporters. In Edsall's own bitter-- "get off my lawn"-- words, "Both blocs have thrived in an era of social media and small-dollar funding, skilled in winning publicity, often shaping public perceptions of partisan competition on Capitol Hill. In this respect, the squad and the MAGA caucus have come to epitomize partisan hostility, the refusal of the parties to cooperate, and, more broadly, the intense political polarization that besets America today... Centrist Democrats contend-- citing poll data from USA Today Ipsos, Pew Research, a FiveThirtyEight polling summary and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Survey-- that support from members of the squad and their allies for defunding the police has undermined the re-election chances of moderate House Democrats running in purple districts." I don't know why I read Edsall's columns anymore. He's generally an old conventional wisdom fool.
He also spoke with John Lawrence, a former Pelosi chief of staff who told him that "The MAGA people seem far more focused on personal celebrity and staking out extremist stances whereas the squad, while pushing the policy envelope to some extent, remain reliable party members." Lawrence explained that the difference "comes from a fundamental distinction between the parties at this point in history: Democrats approach government as an agent of making public policy across a wide swath of subjects whereas Republicans-- and the MAGA people are the extreme example of this-- not only have a very hostile view of government but embrace inaction (and therefore obstruction), especially at the national level."
And he contacted Michael Levy, who served as chief of staff to Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D) 3 decades ago. Levy: "There are many similarities in that both groups live and die by their primaries because their districts are one-party districts and neither has to worry much about the median voter in their states... The squad’s agenda is a basic international social democratic left agenda which joins an expanding social welfare state to an expanding realm of cultural liberalism and identity politics... [The Squad] while willing to attack members of their own party and support candidates in primaries running against incumbents in their own party, continues to exhibit loyalty to basic democratic norms in the system at large. The MAGA caucus has a less coherent ideology, even if it has a very distinct angry populist tone... As best I can tell, they do not have a coherent approach to economic policy or the welfare state."
Brookings' Thomas Mann went straight to the point in an e-mail to Edsall, which Edsall should pay more attention to than just using it to fill up some space in his column: "The MAGA Caucus is antidemocratic, authoritarian, and completely divorced from reality and truth. The squad embraces left views well within the democratic spectrum. What’s striking about the MAGA Caucus is that they are closer to the Republican mainstream these days, given the reticence of Republican officeholders to challenge Trump. We worry about the future of American democracy because the entire Republican Party has gone AWOL. The crazy extremists have taken over one of our two major parties."
Recent history suggests that the MAGA caucus and the overlapping but larger Freedom Caucus, have Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican minority leader who is favored to become speaker of the House if his party takes control, firmly in their grip. The Freedom Caucus played a key role in forcing House Speaker John Boehner out of office in 2015 and a central role in pushing Boehner’s successor, Paul Ryan, to retire three years later.
“The Freedom Caucus has become the political home of right-wing troublemakers who often embarrass and even defy the party leadership,” wrote Ed Kilgore in the Intelligencer section of New York magazine. “A group of experienced ideological extortionists answering to gangster leadership of Trump is going to be hard to handle for the poor schmoes trying to keep the GOP from falling into a moral and political abyss.”
If McCarthy takes the speaker’s gavel next year, he will be in the unenviable position of constantly addressing the demands of a body of legislators who at any moment could turn on him and cut him off at the knees.
Fox is sticking with Trump. As Greg Sargent pointed out this morning, "The not-so-shocking revelation that Fox News will not carry House committee hearings about the insurrection is yet another sign that right-wing media will go to extraordinary lengths to shield the GOP base from brutal truths about Jan. 6, 2021." That's how Republicans can get away with... well, anything, as long as they're right-wing enough and don't get carried away talking about orgies and coke bumps. Take blatantly racist far right sociopath Carl Paladino (net worth $150 million), who started as a conservative Democrat, migrated to the GOP and embraced extremism long before he aligned with Trump. The 75 year old Paladino, who was the controversial co-chair of Trump 2016 New York campaign, is likely to be elected to Congress in November, although he'll be 76 by then.
Yesterday, Media Matters reported that Paladino "shared a post on Facebook [removed as soon as Media Matters published the report] which pushed conspiracy theories about the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. The Facebook post portrayed the tragedies as false flag attacks meant to help Democrats 'revoke the 2nd amendment and take away guns' and claimed 'the Texas shooter was receiving hypnosis training' apparently under the direction of the CIA." Fortunately, Media Matters captured Paladino's 10 point June 1 post before he scrubbed it: