What a difference a few hours make, forget about an entire day. Charlie Sykes’ newsletter opens with the saga of the downhill slide of Mike Lee into conspiracy theory madness over the weekend with his Bizarro World CT about January 6 and the rioter holding a vape pen which Lee contended was an FBI badge. And we’ll look at that in a moment. But first you want to see what he’s posted Monday morning. Lee has “decided to follow Elon, Alex Jones, Tucker, MTG, Trump into the feculent bog of conspiracism,” as Sykes puts it. Maybe he read Sykes’ newsletter which dropped around 7:30 a.m. Utah time and said “hold my beer” because that’s what it seems to me.
When trying to decide what to do with the soon-to-expire FISA 702, you can’t go wrong by following this formula:
1. Find out what these two people think we should do.
2. Do the opposite of that. pic.twitter.com/M4Y90pNdHd
— Mike Lee (@BasedMikeLee) November 20, 2023
And then this.
You must get rid of McConnell!
— Lookingup52 (@Lookingup52) November 20, 2023
The crazies are showing up in this thread. Mike Lee is the new lightning rod for right-wing dementia on Twitter/X. And it continues.
Up next: progressives will argue that Milei is “not a serious person.”
To progressives, “serious” = “worships at the altar of government.”
— Mike Lee (@BasedMikeLee) November 20, 2023
No, serious means uphold the Constitution, as you swore an oath to do. Serious means representing the interests of your constituents, rather than going off the deep end and joining with the crazies in the party.
Take a look at what led up to this, if you missed the story this weekend. This is truly frightening to look at. This is what Charlie Sykes said, merely hours before Lee published the drivel you just read.
By now it is a story as old as time. A once-respected, apparently normal Republican politician looks in the mirror one day and decides, to hell with it, I’m going all in on the insanity.
Somewhere in the mists of the Before Times, Mike Lee was a simulacrum of a serious conservative. But there is no longer any incentive to try to sound like William F. Buckley Jr., so Lee has decided to follow ElonAlexJonesTuckerMTGTrump into the feculent bog of conspiracism.
Actually, he dove in face-first.
The senior senator from Utah spent the weekend misunderstanding some of the newly released footage from January 6th and spreading a risible theory (that was quickly debunked):
Lee claimed in a series of tweets that the footage somehow disproves the Left’s political narratives about the Capitol riot, he picked up on a tweet from Derrick Evans, the former West Virginia lawmaker who pled guilty to a felony civil disorder charge after live-streaming himself storming the Capitol. The post had a photo of a Trump supporter inside the Capitol holding an object in his hand, giving Evans basis to say “Is this person flashing a badge? If so, this would prove there were undercover federal agents disguised as MAGA.”
Big, if true, of course, because it would seem to quasi-confirm one of the right’s favorite conspiracy theories: that J6 was a false-flag op incited by undercover federal agents.
Not. Even. Close.
As reporters, readers, and assorted sentient beings quickly pointed out to Utah’s senator, the man in the photo was not flashing a badge. He’s holding a vape pen.
And he is not a federal agent. His name is Kevin Lyons, who was recently sentenced to four years in prison, and he is a real piece of work:
Once on the Capitol grounds, Lyons gathered with other rioters and encountered tear gas and flashbangs.
Lyons did not leave the grounds; rather, he stated his intentions, saying, “We’re storming the Capitol building” and “I guess we’re all going to jail.” Lyons then yelled, “Let’s take it!” before heading up the Capitol stairs toward the Senate Wing doors.
Lyons yelled comments at police officers while he walked toward the Senate Wing door, saying, “Oath breakers!” “Fucking Nazi bastards!” and “Traitors!”
As NBC’s Ryan Reilly noted, Lyons also had a photo he stole from Nancy Pelosi’s office.
My colleague Tim Miller sums up the state of play here: “A Senator looks at a grainy photo of a vape pen 3 years after the storming of the Capitol and wonders if the smoking device might be evidence that the guy in the MAGA hat was really secret FBI.
“This is ‘Dude Where’s My Car’-level legislating.”
It gets worse. Because, of course.
On Saturday, Liz Cheney called Lee out for his nutbaggery:
Lee, predictably, continued doubling down, demanding: “Shouldn’t the J6 committee have been demanding answers to this question?”
Let me interject here with this. Lee is openly accusing Cheney of hiding the truth. He is that far gone.
Liz, we’ve seen footage like that a million times.
You made sure we saw that—and nothing else.
It’s the other stuff—what you deliberately hid from us—that we find so upsetting.
P.S. How many of these guys are feds? (As if you’d ever tell us). https://t.co/FryO0VdLdP
— Mike Lee (@BasedMikeLee) November 18, 2023
Lee is the one who is manipulating the truth. Not Cheney. And he’s doing it openly. This is beyond batshit what he’s doing. Why is Lee doing this? And he’s getting plenty of blow back from it.
Mike Lee you act like video at the begining cherry picked by Speaker Mike Johnson was the entire Insurrection when things were just getting getting warmed up. Once more Magats arrived things got violent and officers were killed
You're just trying to cover your own ass traitor! pic.twitter.com/lrw2qU8pms
— Beverly Resists🌊 (@BeverlyFolkers) November 18, 2023
Back to Charlie Sykes’ narrative.
“Why didn’t Liz Cheney and Adam Kizinger [sic] ever refer to any of these tapes?Maybe they never looked for them. Maybe they never even questioned their own narrative. Maybe they were just too busy selectively leaking the text messages of Republicans they wanted to defeat,” Lee Xeeted Saturday.
As Socrates once said of the Sophists; bullshit, all bullshit.
I didn’t know the Greeks used the word bullshit, but now I do. Here’s further commentary on Lee’s crossing over to the Dark Side.
Lee’s descent into conspiracism raises familiar questions. Our former colleague Andrew Egger writes: “Hard to think of a worse heel turn in all of politics than Mike Lee suddenly realizing getting ‘base’ was the way to the heart of the world’s dumbest people and becoming a willing accessory to whitewashing January 6.”
BTW, in case you are wondering why there is so much of this J6 conspiracy nonsense on your Xitter feed, consider this scoop from Semafor:
Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X, formerly Twitter, has turned the service’s Hail Mary bet on an imagined $100 million political advertising business over to someone she trusts: her son Matt Madrazo…. He’s part of what’s essentially a two-man operation to restart X’s political advertising business with the goal of capitalizing on the massive amounts of money that campaigns are about to spend during the 2024 elections.
According to three people with knowledge of the situation, Madrazo has been tasked with outreach to Republican digital advertising firms and spenders…
Well, there you have it. Money and power are the root of Lee’s conversion to pure idiocy and right-wing conspiracy. Not that that is surprising. It’s just the blatancy of it that bears some examination. Lee may have started out as a conservative but the conservative winds have shifted considerably. Donald Trump uncovered the MAGA underbelly of this country and rallied them into a recognizable voting bloc. A lot of those people, Mike Lindell for example, never voted in their lives but they heard the siren call of hate and division that Trump pipes and they began following his music in 2015.
Mike Lee was terrified by the challenge that Evan McMullin posed in 2022. McMullin ran as an Independent with Democratic support. Lee won by 112,016 votes, which is a decent margin in ruby red Utah for the senior senator, but apparently it was close enough to make Lee worry about staying in power. So evidently his solution in 2024 is to go all out, and join the RW extremist loonies — not only of America, but of the entire world.
The election of Javier Milei is nothing to celebrate. It’s another political fiasco ala Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — His legions of fans call him “the madman” and “the wig” due to his ferocity and unruly mop of hair. He refers to himself as “the lion.” He thinks sex education is a Marxist plot to destroy the family, views his cloned mastiffs as his “children with four paws” and has suggested people should be allowed to sell their own vital organs.
He is Javier Milei, Argentina’s next president.
A few years ago, Milei was a television talking head whom bookers loved because his screeds against government spending and the ruling political class boosted ratings. At the time, and up until mere months ago, hardly any political expert believed he had a real shot at becoming president of South America’s second-largest economy.
The guy is a lunatic and Argentina is headed for a rude awakening. We have seen this show before. And this is what Mike Lee hails as a wonderful thing and as the template for the direction he wants to take this country.
May God help us. Now democracy has another enemy.