#1616 The Party of Putin and the Propaganda Leading the GOP to Trump and the US to Russian-Style Autocracy (Transcript)

Air Date 3/15/2024

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award winning Best of the Left podcast, in which we take a look at the result of Republicans having been trending toward Putin fandom for more than a decade, but with each passing year, the stakes get higher, the propaganda gets more brazen, and what they're willing to support gets more grotesque. 

For context, my first glimpse into this worldview was from a conservative listener around a decade or more ago, who kindly explained to us on the left, that what we were not getting was that Republicans actually like Putin. At the time there was maybe confusion over the pivot from the cold warrior, anti-Russia all the time perspective to the new sort of, at the time, lukewarm embrace of Russia on some issues. And what he explained was that clearly times have changed and Putin was the kind of strong man leader conservatives liked. So why not like Putin's Russia? Why not, indeed? 

Sources today [00:01:00] include Brian Tyler Cohen, MSNBC, On the Media. The Hartmann Report, The Rachel Maddow Show, and The BradCast, with an additional members-only clip from Gaslit Nation.

Chris Wallace DESTROYS former colleague Tucker Carlson - Brian Tyler Cohen - Air Date 2-10-24

CHRIS WALLACE: Tucker Carlson showed up in Moscow this week to interview Vladimir Putin. It turned out to be anything but an interview. Putin droned on for two hours and seven minutes, while Tucker sat there like an eager puppy. Occasionally, but rarely, he got in a question, like this one, about the power of the deep state in Washington DC 

TUCKER CARLSON: It sounds like you're describing a system that's not run by the people who are elected in your telling.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: That's right. That's right. 

CHRIS WALLACE: But more telling than what Tucker asked is what he didn't ask. Nothing about why Putin invaded a sovereign country. Nothing about targeting civilians. Nothing about Russian war crimes. A reporter can [00:02:00] ask Putin a tough question, if he wants a real interview. 

Why is it that so many of the people that oppose Vladimir Putin end up dead or close to it?

But apparently, that's not why Tucker went to Moscow. During the Cold War, gullible Westerners who spread Soviet propaganda were dismissed as useful idiots, but calling Tucker that is unfair... to useful idiots. No he's made a cynical decision to chase MAGA's affection for dictators. And what better way to cash in than Putin's Kremlin?

BRIAN TYLER COHEN - HOST, BRAIN TYLER COHEN: Now you might have seen Tucker Carlson's big hard hitting interview with Vladimir Putin, which was definitely not right wing Russian propaganda, as evidenced by statements like this. 

TUCKER CARLSON: We ourselves have put in a request for an interview with Zelensky and we hope he accepts. But the interviews he's already done in the United States are not traditional interviews. They are fawning pep sessions specifically [00:03:00] designed to amplify Zelensky's demand that the US enter more deeply into a war in Eastern Europe and pay for it. That is not journalism. It is government propaganda. Propaganda of the ugliest kind, the kind that kills people. 

At the same time, our politicians and media outlets have been doing this, promoting a foreign leader like he's a new consumer brand, not a single Western journalist has bothered to interview the president of the other country involved in this conflict, Vladimir Putin.

Most Americans have no idea why Putin invaded Ukraine, or what his goals are now. They've never heard his voice. That's wrong. 

BRIAN TYLER COHEN - HOST, BRAIN TYLER COHEN: Most Americans have no idea why Putin launched his invasion into Ukraine. Not like he's been broadcasting his desire to take back territory that was lost during the fall of the Soviet Union for years. Not like he's already tried to annex Crimea and Georgia, and most recently announced the annexation of four regions in Ukraine, which Putin himself said would be "Russian forever". But sure, we can't possibly figure out why he launched this war. [00:04:00] 

And one more point on Tucker. Thank God we have someone like him to call out those in the media who lie in service of the government. That's right, without totally independent, impartial Tucker Carlson, who would be there to call out all of the partisan hacks who advocate openly for one political party over the other? At least someone out there is willing to keep the government honest But also, think about why Tucker Carlson and the rest of the right wing ecosystem love Vladimir Putin and Russia. The answer is that they are aligned. 

Trump and Republicans support Russia because Russia is content to meddle on their behalf, just like they did in 2016. And while Donald Trump loves to rewrite history and yell no collusion all day, just remember that the Russia investigation resulted in 34 people and 3 Russian businesses indicted, as well as 7 guilty pleas.

And because Republicans are solely interested in power, and yes, that very much includes Tucker Carlson, then they welcome the support from the Kremlin and are happy to reciprocate. And in terms of what Putin gets out of the deal, Russia wants Trump in power because Trump will help undermine NATO, which is the biggest [00:05:00] impediment to Russian expansion and imperialism. Trump today expressed his desire to do exactly that. 

DONALD TRUMP: One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, "Well, sir, if we don't pay and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us?" I said, "you didn't pay, you're delinquent?" He said, "yes." "Let's say that happened. No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay."

BRIAN TYLER COHEN - HOST, BRAIN TYLER COHEN: Again, a mutually beneficial relationship. Putin helps the Republicans electorally, who will then take power and push us away from NATO, which will allow Putin to expand his empire. Putin found a useful idiot in Trump, and he'll be damned if he's not gonna do everything he can to help him, Which means getting Republicans in power. Again, a mutually beneficial relationship with a bunch of autocratic egomaniacs at the center.

In terms of what Tucker stands to gain, Chris Wallace noted it perfectly. He is cashing in off of MAGA's affection for dictators. Look, it's already clear that there's a love affair between Trump and Putin, the reasons for which I just laid out. And so because the cult [00:06:00] leader says that Putin is good, then the rest of his cult blindly follows along. And so knowing that Putin's stock is rising within the cult that is the Republican base, Tucker is simply jumping on the bandwagon and meeting the Republicans where they are. Remember, right wing media doesn't influence the base, the base influences them. During Trump's election theft claims of 2020, Fox News, for example, knew that it had to repeat those claims or risk losing audience share to Newsmax. They won't report the truth, but they report what the base is desperate to hear. It is the tail wagging the dog. 

Plus, of course, the other side of that, Republicans love Putin because he's an autocrat. Trump has spent years fawning over Kim Jong un and Duterte and Erdoğan and Bolsonaro and any other right wing autocrat who catches his eye. There is nothing more the right in general loves more than the appearance of a strongman. For a bunch of self proclaimed alphas, they spend an awful lot of time demanding that a tough man rule them. These people love nothing more than to be under the thumb of a powerful man, and that's exactly what they got from Donald Trump.

And by the way, don't take my word for [00:07:00] it, take Trump's. It was him who demanded that a president should be able to do whatever he wants with impunity. He is arguing right now in court that a president should be able to commit crimes and not face any prosecution. 

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I can say presidential immunity, which we'll be talking about because that will be upcoming. It's very, very important for a president to have. If a president doesn't have immunity, he really doesn't have a presidency. He can be told to do things that he would never do. He can do really bad things for our country. Presidential immunity is imperative. It's going to be very, very important.

And I'd rather talk about that next week, but there is nothing more important to a presidency than immunity. Because they have to be free to make decisions without saying, Oh, if I do this or if I do that, as soon as I get out of office, we're going to be indicted. We're going to have trouble and the other party will do that.

I think we've seen that they've done that. There's some very bad people. And you have an opposition party and they will do things that are very bad. If you don't have immunity, you could be blackmailed. [00:08:00] You could be, as a president, they'll say if you don't do this, this, and this, we're going to indict you as soon as you leave office.

You cannot allow a president to be out there without immunity. They don't have immunity, you don't have a presidency. You lose all form of free thought and good thought. 

BRIAN TYLER COHEN - HOST, BRAIN TYLER COHEN: And it's worth noting, by the way, that presidents already have immunity from civil litigation. You can't sue a president for policies you don't like, for example. It's just criminal violations that a president can be prosecuted for. If your argument is that a president needs to commit felonies while in office to be able to effectively govern, you might have just lost the plot. So good on Chris Wallace for calling Tucker out for doing what he and so many others in the right wing media ecosystem have made a living doing, clinging onto the dictatorial tendencies of Donald Trump and cashing in for relevance. These people are a bunch of barnacles attaching themselves to a sinking ship, and we should do whatever we can to make sure that it sinks even faster.

Trump voters tell NBC Reporter that ‘Russia is not our enemy - MSNBC - Air Date 2-27-24

VAUGHN HILLYARD: If Russia did take over Ukraine, would it give you any [00:09:00] pause? 

NEWS CLIP: I don't have a problem with Russia, I really don't I have a problem with Ukraine. They're corrupt. I think that people are just ridiculous that they think that Putin is such this enemy. He isn't doing anything. He just wants back what was his. 

VAUGHN HILLYARD: He invaded Ukraine, killing thousands of people. 

NEWS CLIP: That's fine. That's fine with me. 

VAUGHN HILLYARD: As a veteran yourself, does it concern you at all that Russian aggression could move even beyond Ukraine? 

NEWS CLIP: I don't think Putin's a problem. I think Zelinsky is the problem. 

VAUGHN HILLYARD: Why do you think Putin's not the problem? He's the one that invaded Ukraine and has killed thousands of people. 

NEWS CLIP: Because Putin is trying to save his country from the likes of idiots like Zelensky and the elitists. 

This administration's trying to start a war with Russia. Russia's not our enemy. 

NICOLLE WALLACE - HOST, MSNBC: Russia's not our enemy. Wow. It's chilling. It fits in. Those people weren't asking to have their voices altered or talking to Vaughn behind curtains, talking to him on camera. It fits in [00:10:00] perfectly and alarmingly with our new series, American Autocracy, It Could Happen Here. We are so lucky that Vaughn has agreed to help us understand how we got here.

In the coming weeks, he'll be joining us with his reporter's notebook, his exquisite ability to cut through the noise that happens in studios like this, one and help us understand what's actually happening in the country. So we were talking before about how this vote to not provide funding for Ukraine in Washington gets covered as though it is detached from these kind of women who love Putin and hate Zelensky. Knit those things back together for us. 

VAUGHN HILLYARD: I think it's important for folks to understand that while we go to these Trump rallies around the country, engage in these conversations, it's not a matter of whether the US should be engaged either with personnel or with aid in foreign wars. That's not what the conversation is. It's a matter of whether Vladimir Zelensky is evil or not. Or whether Putin is in the right to further move beyond [00:11:00] Russia's own boarder lines. 

This is where it is difficult and complicated because we're talking about the conditioning of his supporters. Ruth Ben Ghiat and Ian have been so poignant about this year, because from two years ago, when we were first having conversations about the devastating images coming out of Mariupol. We're talking about war crimes. And where over the last two years we have gone after listening to Donald Trump suggest that he would broker some deal between Ukraine and Russia, never a flat out condemning Vladimir Putin's aggression here, suggesting just last week that Russia could do whatever the hell they want. Those words have impact on these communities around the country and these folks that we are talking to because it hits at the crux of what the US 's role in the world is as a democracy and whether we are going to be defending other democracies and our allies against the autocrats like Vladimir Putin. 

NICOLLE WALLACE - HOST, MSNBC: Let me ask you this. Are these people, does it expand to relitigating the Cold War? 

VAUGHN HILLYARD: [00:12:00] This for them is, it's a matter of what you heard that one man say, "what is Russia's". That this is a matter... 

NICOLLE WALLACE - HOST, MSNBC: But that's what the Cold War, right? Do they want the wall back up in Berlin? Do they want to give it all? Is it that deep or is it a more shallow, reflexive affection for Putin and animosity for Zelensky. 

VAUGHN HILLYARD: I think largely it is very shallow. This is, when we're talking about Vladimir Putin, Tucker Carlson's conversation just two weeks ago with Vladimir Putin that went on for more than two hours. The number of folks that told me that they listened to it and they walked away more sympathetic to Vladimir Putin, that they understood where he was coming from. Tucker Carlson is somebody who Donald Trump has floated as his vice president. That Don Jr. has said that he would wish for him to be the VP. That's where Donald Trump's words have impact, because he is telling folks that this is somebody that you should listen to, that this is a valid voice. And when that valid voice goes over to Russia and talks with Vladimir Putin, you have, therefore, legitimacy in these folks minds to go back into their communities, talk with their family members, go to their churches, go to their kids [00:13:00] schools, and echo, parrot, Russian propaganda. That the US should not be sending our own taxpayer money to Ukraine because it's It is Ukraine that is evil that is the one that is corrupt. And this is where it is so tough, so often, to untangle the the lies, the Russian propaganda and frankly, the conspiracy theories that, again, it doesn't hit at the heart of the normal foreign policy conversation that we, as Democrats and Republicans have...

NICOLLE WALLACE - HOST, MSNBC: Somebody says your out to get sound. Let me show some of what you're hearing. Can we play that? 

VAUGHN HILLYARD: Does Russian aggression concern you, that they could...



NEWS CLIP: Because I watched Tucker Carlson's interview. Putin don't really want to do anything, I think that's old news. I don't really think that he wants to do anything.

VAUGHN HILLYARD: Do you think that Russia has ill intent towards the United States? 

NEWS CLIP: I don't. No, I don't. After watching the interview with Tucker Carlson, I do not. 


VAUGHN HILLYARD: To my point exactly. The hardest part [00:14:00] about these conversations is this woman otherwise seems like a nice human being. Producer Dan, who is shooting all this video with me. He's been traveling with me since the summer to go and shoot all of these interviews. We have not shown any of them till now, here. This one was just last week, but producer Dan, he actually did five stints in Ukraine, working with our colleagues over there, each one of those was a month. In the hardest part for him and conversing with him here is just how separate of a reality that he witnessed with his own eyes, civilian deaths, and you come back here in this person, and then a woman like this can go there with confidence and say that Vladimir Putin is not an enemy, that Russia is not an enemy of democracy, of the United States. 

We are suddenly at the brink of having a legitimate conversation in our communities that our kids are engaged in on whether Russia, who has slaughtered thousands of people in Ukraine, is in the right or in the wrong. And those are the [00:15:00] conversations that are happening in our communities around the country.

American Patriots Support... Vladimir Putin - On the Media - Air Date 3-4-22

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: Spencer, a White supremacist, has described Russia as the sole White power in the world. Although it isn't, because it's multi ethnic, like we are.

CASEY MICHEL: One of the great ironies in following all these White nationalistic figures, and they're overweening support for Putin, lusting after this kind of strongman type in Washington is they have a very particular view of Russia and of Putin in particular. He is a White, masculine, Christian, European leader.

They don't usually refer to him as a dictator, but that's obviously what they see him as. Pushing back against same sex marriage, pushing back against any kind of expanded understanding of notions like gender identity. They do not understand that Russia is this remarkably diverse country with great numbers of ethnic and religious minorities. I think they have this image that Russia is a White man's paradise for them without actually realizing what it's like on the ground in Russia itself. 

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: You write that David Duke, the former Grand Wizard [00:16:00] of the Knights of the KKK. has said Russia is the key to White survival and that other far right figures should go there to better learn how to grow their movements here.

CASEY MICHEL: David Duke lived in Russia for a number of years and we still have very little idea of what he was actually doing over there. We know that his book, this incredible racist tract, was sold in the Douma Bookstore, the bookstore for the Russian parliament. But we still don't have any idea about the kinds of connections he made, the kinds of potential funding that he received. In addition to all these other White nationalistic figures whose links we're still beginning to sift through to figure out how some of these groups may be involved in ongoing interference efforts here. Certainly in 2016, but by no means limited to that election.

I think David Duke is symptomatic of the hard right Christian nationalist, White supremacist contingent over the past two decades gravitating to of all places, the Kremlin, which is such a whiplash from where things were during the cold war, obviously when the Soviets were around. It is a one 80 that I still haven't [00:17:00] wrapped my mind around.

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: You spoke to Cole Park, an LGBT researcher with Political Research Associates who told you it's difficult to say who's inspiring whom, but there's a lot of cross fertilization, it seems, going on. 

CASEY MICHEL: These are mutually reinforcing dynamics. You have those in the United States that are watching this incredible demographic change take place. They're watching, in 2008, the election of the country's first Black president, they're watching things like same sex marriage become legalized, and beginning to search out other sources of inspiration and support for what they see as traditionalist values. While in Russia, in the late 2000s and early 2010s, you have the consolidation of power in Moscow. You have any kind of dreams of broader democratization falling away. You have the return of Putin to the presidency in 2012. And all of a sudden you see these elements of this outreach looking for broader fertile audiences to spread Moscow's message. 

And what we see taking place, especially by the early 2010s is this [00:18:00] activation of these different networks targeting American White nationalists, far right separatists and secessionists, American evangelicals. And all of a sudden you begin looking into these interpersonal linkages, these organizational linkages, funding linkages and funding mechanisms to specifically groom and hopefully activate these White nationalist contingents in the United States, to sow chaos, to lead to potential bloodshed and if Putin would have his way, potential state fracture in the United States itself. Again, remember, Putin very much blames the United States of America for the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fragmentation into 15 new countries. 

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: As to when all this began, you say it was the late 2000s and the early 2010s that were an inflection point. And of course, you can't underestimate the impact on these extremists of having a Black president.

CASEY MICHEL: This is exactly where Donald Trump emerges from. Trump rose to political prominence, claiming that Obama was born outside of the United States. It's this [00:19:00] broader rubric of racist, racialist pushback against the way that the country is going and into the breach these Russian funded figures and organizations step. Certain oligarchs, networks, organizations, reaching out and building bridges to Americans on the far right and the hard right and building these kinds of, they call it the traditionalist international, building this broader movement to a greater degree than they probably ever thought. 

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: And you've said that at a 10,000 foot level, the goal of the Christian White nationalists here is to find and elect a Putin style figure with a similar political dynamic to unify various Christian nationalist groups. 

CASEY MICHEL: It is as clear as day that these organizations and groups and networks would like nothing more than to have, whether it's Donald Trump or some other similar figure in power in the White House. If they can't get their way, they're willing to lead separatist or secessionist movements and do what they can to, if [00:20:00] nothing else, throw sticks in the spokes of America's broader democratic experiment of alliances and of the West's broader efforts to push back against things like the aggression we are now seeing out of Moscow and all the bloodshed in Ukraine. 

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: You've also written that the White nationalist, Matthew Heinbach, he's the head of the Traditionalist Workers Party, considers Putin to be the leader of the free world, and seeks to create a global network called Traditionalist Internationale.

What is that, and how hypothetical is it? 

CASEY MICHEL: Thankfully, we are a long way away from the realization of the Traditionalist Internationale, but the fact that we do see support for it in the United States, in Europe, and certainly out of Moscow, is something that we have to continue watching. At the end of the day, it's exactly what we've been talking about is the entrenchment of Putinist style regimes in Washington, Ottawa, London, Brussels, and [00:21:00] elsewhere.

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: Okay, so let's talk about what happened in 2015. The leading lights of Europe's far right, including members of Austria's Freedom Party, people from Sweden, Netherlands, Austria, the UK, they got together in Petersburg. You say this meeting was one of the most notable gatherings of Europe's xenophobic far right, but was it significant?

CASEY MICHEL: It was again one of these signal flares where you realize. That there is far more organization, there is far greater depth to these networks than would seem at initial blush. Usually these organizations, they operate in a domestic context. You don't see these international gatherings, anything like this magnitude, except once almost in a generation. And that just so happened to be in 2015, in Russia, in St. Petersburg. 

These groups didn't come back to Washington, or come back to Athens, or come back to Oslo, and all of a sudden begin implementing legislation, but one of the things that we have seen time and again out of Russia is an ability to [00:22:00] build these bridges across Europe, across North America.

Brooke, I don't think there's any surprise that while that conference was happening, the same exact type of transatlantic transnational conference was happening of separatist and secessionists in Moscow, many of whom are also on the far right from places like Spain, like Italy, including Texas secessionists flying over to Russia to coordinate with all these other separatists organized out of Moscow.

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: What happens if we ignore Putin's role as a global leader for White Christian nationalism?

CASEY MICHEL: I do want to encourage listeners to maybe broaden their aperture about what potential outcomes we may be facing later this decade. I'm not saying anything like this is going to happen during the midterm, it's not going to happen in the run up to the next election, but this is a period of drastic, change coming ahead of us. Any number of outcomes is possible. I'm not at all saying that this White Christian nationalistic outcome is the one that's staring us in the face, but there's certainly a [00:23:00] possibility in which, say, Joe Biden runs again in 2024, wins again, Donald Trump refuses to concede, and we see an expansion of the January 6th type violence, and what flows from that, I have no idea.

The Dark and Destructive Vision of Putin's GOP - The Hartmann Report - Air Date 2-27-24

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Heidi, welcome back to the program. You've been writing about Mike Johnson and his ties to Russia. Tell me about that. 

HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA: As the second anniversary of the large scale invasion of Russia's war of aggression was approaching, I was thinking that the most important thing that we can do as investigative reporters is focus our energy on Mike Johnson.

Because as you know, Ukrainian soldiers are counting their bullets on the battlefield right now. Well, in 2018, Mike Johnson was taking money from Russian oligarchs. And how do we know that? Because there were enough investigative reporters still around then to actually report that there was a company called American Ethane, lol. It's actually funded. The main shareholders were three Russian oligarchs. 

And why does it matter? Because one of them owns a munitions [00:24:00] factory in Russia which is producing the ammunition that is currently being used to commit genocide in Ukraine. So it's very important that nobody confuses who Mike Johnson really is. This is a mild mannered domestic terrorist who has spent a career trying to take away our rights, my rights, my children's rights. And now he is actually doing photo ops in Mar a Lago while the body count around this man is really piling up. 

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: I noticed that the amount of money that he received was not that great. Do you think that it was just something that slipped through?

HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA: It's not the point. It's that Russia continues to be a malign influence on our elections. This is just one example. He got funding from Robert Mercer. What else did Robert Mercer fund? Breitbart, Parler, Cambridge Analytica, and Mike Johnson, who might be the greatest weapon of democratic destruction.

So for me, it's not about the amount of money or whether or not he returned the [00:25:00] money, it's that we have. Russian oligarchs having a malign and outsized influence on our elections. And this is just one example. And as you know, there are multiple ties between Mike Johnson, the Council for National Policy, a shadowy network, that is also tied to a religious extremists in Russia, all funded by the fossil fuel industry.

So it's the same cabals that we continually report on, and yet we miss the big picture that this is part of a religious extremist power grab in America that is also tied to religious extremists in Russia. 

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Yeah. It's almost like there's a confluence of religious crackpots, right wing religious crackpots and the fossil fuel industry getting together. Both here in the United States and certainly in Russia. Putin is going out of his way to declare Russia a Christian nation, and his anti gay [00:26:00] laws that he's just passed in the last few months, and the real crackdown on the LGBTQ community there. It's pretty grim stuff and it clearly is the vision that these people have for America 

HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA: It's a very dark and destructive vision, and Thom, my work is informed by two documentaries that I just watched, Bad Faith and God and Country, and both of them show that the religious extremist movement, this decades long plot, was actually the origins are from racism. The origins are from school integration and religious extremists that tried to have their own private schools to deny that integration. And when that was not allowed, you had these extremists realizing that's not going to be a narrative to mobilize voters. So that's how they came up with this anti abortion narrative, which Mike Johnson is right in the heart of. So much of his work is built around that. And in fact, he [00:27:00] had a nonprofit where one of the CNP leaders, Tony Perkins, was also part of that. 

So he is part of this very dangerous network that actually wants to, take away our rights and turn America into this religious theocracy, which is not what we are about. And Thom I want to let you know, I saw God and Country, which is a Rob and Michelle produced film. And I saw it in Sonoma yesterday and Sonoma, California, you think of it as this beautiful progressive enclave. What's happening in Sonoma now is that an affiliate with a core member of the CNP is buying up a lot of real estate, affiliated with a megachurch, and people in Sonoma are looking around going, what's happening to my community? Thankfully, there's an organization called Wake Up Sonoma that is trying to wake people up. 

But this is being replicated throughout the country, and Mike Johnson is the apex of this. He [00:28:00] is, like I said, a mild manner, in my view, domestic terrorists, religious terrorists. These are extremists. And one thing I would like your viewers to think about that I'm putting a lot of effort thinking about is how un American this movement is.

Christian nationalism is un American. It has nothing to do with Christianity. In fact, I think if people who were truly religious knew how their empathy and hearts were being weaponized to destroy democracy, they might not actually like it. But I find him to be incredibly dangerous. And while he's having photo ops in Mar a Lago, people are actually dying.

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Christian nationalism is an oxymoron. I believe it was a centurion came to Jesus and said, " should I pay my taxes?" and Jesus said, "whose face is on the coin that you'd pay with?" And the guy said, "Caesar", and Jesus said, "render unto Caesar what Caesar's, render unto God what's God's." Basically, separation of church and state. I'm not seeing that being respected by the Republican and religious right that really, as [00:29:00] you correctly point out, really got kicked off in 1954 with the Brown vs Board of Education decision. 

HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA: Yes, exactly. We can't underestimate these dangers. And we also need to remind people that these are extremists, and they are doing these extreme moves because they do not have the votes. And what happened when Roe was overturned, they found out 70 percent of the population did not like that. And they will continually now, in order to create that outrage and that perpetual state of fear that they keep people in, they will continually find new witches to burn. 

Former CIA Director explains how Russia is using 'Republican lawmakers as tools’ - MSNBC - Air Date 2-25-24

MICHAEL STEELE - CO-HOST, THE WEEKEND: I want to continue down that line because I'm particularly offended and just really annoyed with the constant nonsense coming from leaders who have the intelligence. These are not folks who are sitting in a closet, unaware of what's going on around them. I want to play for you, you've got James Comer talking, he and Jim Jordan, talking about this whole situation. If we could just [00:30:00] take a quick listen at that. 

NEWS CLIP: We never knew who the informant was. All we knew was what Christopher Wray said. Now we see that the FBI arrested him for lying. It doesn't make sense. It's not the same treatment that we saw when the FBI figured out that the Steele dossier. 

Who knows? Maybe this guy lied to the FBI, maybe they're right, but I just see a pattern that seems to be developing here over the last three presidential elections.

MICHAEL STEELE - CO-HOST, THE WEEKEND: Maybe it was this. I didn't know about that. Oh, maybe the Steele dossier. It's just the shear incompetence behind what we see these members who are sitting on important committees that have this information. What is the impact inside of the various agencies, our intel agencies, when they see members taking intelligence and using it this way?

JOHN BRENNAN: Well, I think it's very much appalling to my former colleagues who worked so hard to try to protect our country's national security. But then we have the Republican lawmakers right now [00:31:00] who are using things like this as a way to attack the president, and quite unfairly. But also, I think that my colleagues are concerned that the Russians see the Republican lawmakers as tools. They are so willing to accept anything, and Russians use information operations very effectively. And I have no doubt at all that they're going to continue to use it in this presidential election. 

And the fact that Comer and Jordan and others willingly accept these things, and they don't care whether it's true or not, as long as it's salacious, as long as it's something that they can use. This is something that I think the Russians recognize is ready for their exploitation. 

ALICIA MENENDEZ - CO-HOST, THE WEEKEND: Bingo. And we heard something very similar from Congressman Jamie Raskin. I want you to take a listen to what he said and we'll talk about it on the other side. 

JAMIE RASKIN: Yesterday's revelations demonstrate that Putin's pattern of interference and destabilization of foreign democratic elections around the world, including in America, has continued to this very day. And this impeachment investigation [00:32:00] is nothing but a wild goose chase that is based on Russian disinformation. 

ALICIA MENENDEZ - CO-HOST, THE WEEKEND: So this is about injecting an element of chaos. We know from the Mueller Report 2016, there were signs of Russian interference. 2020 reports of Russian interference in US elections. As we approach 2024, we have to presume that there will be similar efforts. Do you feel that the CIA, that the FBI are prepared for the possibility of that type of interference? What are they doing right now? 

JOHN BRENNAN: Well, I think they're trying to uncover all the things that the Russians are trying to do and information operations takes many different forms. It can be disinformation. It can be fabricated information that is provided to human sources like a Mr Smirnoff. It can be allowing the dissemination of information that is going to advance their interests in terms of things that they want to help Donald Trump, in terms of his campaign. Also things to smear Joe Biden. So their information operations, fabrication, dissemination, propagation is trying to influence the attitudes and the views and therefore, the Republican [00:33:00] lawmakers who are willing to be able to take this and to use it for their in their efforts, I think it just demonstrates to the Russians that they should continue along this line. 

SYMONE SANDERS-TOWNSEND - CO-HOST, THE WEEKEND: This is very serious. I think a lot of times people hear... As soon as I heard the story about Smirnoff and the revelations that the FBI had charged him for lying, and then the Russian component, I was shocked, but then you look at the papers or you look at social media, you turn on some, SOME cable news shows and you just have folks saying, "Oh, here go the Democrats again, screaming Russia, Russia, Russia."

But this is an attempt, potentially, if it is true that the Russians fed him this information, this is yet another attempt of a foreign government, a hostile foreign government, attempting to meddle in, not just our elections, but truly try to take down the American president.

ALICIA MENENDEZ - CO-HOST, THE WEEKEND: And let's layer in the fact that this past week we had the, we've been reckoning with the death of Alexander Navalny, and there has been a global conversation among leaders about the US 's role [00:34:00] and the most immediate to do on the list is to pass supplemental funding for Ukraine. You can't get Republicans to do the most basic thing and use the most basic tool they have to stand up and say, we stand on the side of democracy, against autocracy. They are unwilling to meet that basic function. 

JOHN BRENNAN: Yes, and it's so appalling that there's growing sympathy within the Republican party and among the MAGA base for Mr. Putin in Russia. I'm sure Ronald Reagan is rolling over in his grave right now, because this sentiment that is " give Putin the benefit of the doubt on these issues", clearly the death of Navalny was a result of what Putin has done. Clearly what's happening in Ukraine is just demonstrating how aggressive Russia is going to be to try to go against its neighbors as well as the West.

And also their involvement, I think, in our election coming up is going to really be an effort by them. to be able to bring Mr. Trump back into the White House, because clearly Mr. Trump is very, very sympathetic to Mr. Putin. He's [00:35:00] intimidated. He's cowed. 

ALICIA MENENDEZ - CO-HOST, THE WEEKEND: He hasn't called him out on Navalny yet. 

JOHN BRENNAN: It is just, and the fact that there are so many Republicans in Congress, both in the Senate and the House that kowtow to Mr. Trump, and continue to allow Russia to get away with what it has is something that is so inconsistent with what the Republican party has stood for for so many years, but also is so against what our national security really demands, [which] is for us to be able to stand with our allies, NATO partners and others, to be able to risk resist these Russian efforts to try to continue to undermine Western democracies.

With each new election cycle, Republicans accept Russian help with greater ease - The Rachel Maddow Show - Air Date 2-26-24

FIONA HILL: The Russian security services operate like a super PAC. They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives. When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy. 

RACHEL MADDOW - HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Fiona Hill testifying at President Trump's first impeachment, describing [00:36:00] how our faith in our own democracy is the kind of center of the bullseye. It's what they're aiming at when they try to hurt us the worst. Well, now in this election cycle, Republican members of Congress have been trumpeting claims that turn out to have come from Russian intelligence.

The informant at the center of their impeachment push against President Biden today was ordered jailed as he awaits trial for lying to the FBI, feeding them what prosecutors say is disinformation targeting President Biden that he got from Russian intelligence. Joining us now is Fiona Hill, former Senior Director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council.

Dr. Hill, it's really nice of you to be with us tonight. Thanks very much for making the time.

FIONA HILL: Thanks, Rachel. 

RACHEL MADDOW - HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Both NBC News and The Washington Post today led with big stories about how this is the third straight election cycle where we've got pretty aggressive Russian efforts to mess with us in this election.

Do you agree with that characterization? 

FIONA HILL: I do. And look, very sadly the Russians have been at these kinds of operations for an extraordinary long time. [00:37:00] Going back to the Cold War, there were lots of efforts, as well. But unfortunately, we've made it easier for them than ever before to be able to penetrate our politics and to be able to influence, because of the structure of our election campaigns, we've got, basically our own political parties who are trying to destroy each other. And, as you've been pointing out through the course of the program, we've got actors in our own political system who are just as keen on using disinformation as foreign adversaries. 

RACHEL MADDOW - HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Because that you look at it with that long sweep, I feel like that's one of the, one of the big reasons I wanted to talk to you because I've been very focused on 2016, 2020, and 2024, when Russian disinformation, Russian targeting of us wasn't just about making us hate each other and making us weak and making us distrust our democracy, it really was dovetailing with and therefore boosting Donald Trump and the Republican campaign and helping one side and hurting the other.

And maybe that's. It's not their long term goal, but it's at least been their sort of short to medium [00:38:00] goal. And that seems to be activating an instinct in the Republican Party that, if Putin likes us, maybe we should like him back. And I'm wondering if there is, if you see a way to, to interrupt that.

FIONA HILL: Look, I think it also requires responsible people within the Republican Party themselves to push back against this. It's not every single person who's a member of that party. We've got Nikki Haley out there who's running now what seems almost a futile campaign to compete with Donald Trump, is obviously saying something quite different and calling out.

And , on the disinformation, perhaps not going to quite the same way that you are, but she's certainly trying to do that. And you know, and I know, and many other people know that behind the scenes, there are members of the staff, senior staff, so on Capitol Hill, people in the Senate and , surprisingly still, members of Congress who, behind the scenes, are really deeply troubled by this and are trying to do something.

But in the heat of this campaign, as you're pointing out, they seem to be much more interested in taking potshots of president Biden or, basically trying to [00:39:00] bring down their opponent than thinking about national security And I would have thought, however, that given everything that's happened with the war in Ukraine, the recent death of Alexei Navalny, and just this piling up of information just as you're saying now, this criminal campaign rather, this prosecution of this FBI informant, that surely people would have woken up to this. 

This is an issue of our national security, not just something about whether your guy is going to win in the election. 

RACHEL MADDOW - HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: On the national security point, I think of the United States as having a lot of tools to stand up for our national security, a lot of resources to bring to bear. But when it comes to defending ourselves against Russian election interference when it comes to standing up for our ally in Ukraine and all the different ways that that means, when it comes to responding to the murder of Alexei Navalny in Russia, could the US government be doing more? Anne Applebaum joined me last week here and she said something that stuck with me all week. She said that if the United States government really wanted to get more serious, one of the things they could do was they could have thousands of [00:40:00] people working on enforcing sanctions to make sure they bit harder and that they hurt the Russian government more and more effectively.

I wanted to get your response to that, but also just to find out if you think there's more we could be doing. 

FIONA HILL: There's certainly a lot more that we could be doing. As Anne points out sanctions enforcement is part of the problem. I mean, we're actually seeing even some of our own allied countries that are basically buying more and more oil from Russia and they're labeling them to bring in more revenues, of course, to keep on prosecuting the war against Ukraine.

We've got NATO allies— European countries, as well as I said, these larger global partners— we're going to have to figure out how we work with them directly. It's going to be a stepped up diplomacy which the administration's already talking about. But she also does have a point about putting more resources toward this now.

 We are, of course, also on the verge of a government shutdown. We also have members of the Republican Party and others and Donald Trump talking about basically dismantling the state apparatus, which make it very difficult. But we can be much more creative. We can work very closely with other [00:41:00] European allies who actually have really woken up to the threats and to get them to also exert pressure and to push back.

We've got the debate about. What we can do about Russian frozen assets, for example, which is a major issue right now, which I know you've covered quite recently as well. And then when we get back to the topic they're talking about, about disinformation, some of the other cases that are running through, even including in the Supreme Court right now about freedom of speech and the regulation of the social media platforms become relevant as well.

Because, basically, X, that used to be Twitter, in terms of stepping back from the regulation of some of the content on their platform have opened it up even more to disinformation from Russia. And other companies like Meta, for example, and Microsoft, they have actually been trying to do more here, but we should also be encouraging the private sector to step up at this crucial time.

From Russia With...The Left; Beware of Kremlin propaganda on Ukraine Part 2 - The BradCast - Air Date 2-26-24

BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: I received a note from a long time, previously good, progressive here in Southern California, I believe he's a long time KPFK listener as [00:42:00] well, his name is Jim. I'm not going to mention his last name because I'm not trying to embarrass him, but I do wish to talk to my own peeps here, the folks on the progressive left who have been so woefully disinformed via Kremlin talking points that they seem to have forgotten what it is they stand for. And of course the saddest part is, I honestly do not think those folks understand how they are being used as dupes and useful idiots by the Kremlin. 

So Jim sent me an email citing an opinion piece in The Hill over the weekend arguing that those of us who believe Ukraine should be aided in their fight for their fight for themselves in favor of democracy and against fascist autocratic invading neighbors are just doing so because we are, as the headline in The Hill says, privileged enough to be willing to, "fight to the last Ukrainian." You may have heard that quote before. It's been used a lot over the past several [00:43:00] months and now years of Putin's assault on Ukraine. As the opinion writer in The Hill argues, if the idea of supporting the Ukraine war with Russia was to, "save the people of Ukraine and the country's infrastructure, then those who advocated for that course of action have failed miserably."

The writer goes on to ask if any of that matters to the, "privileged and neocon class on both sides of the Atlantic, who, from the safety of thousands of miles away, continually advocate for the youth of Ukraine to march into the teeth of the Russian war machine. The writer then offers a familiar argument heard from both the far right and, yes, from the far left.

And, coincidentally, as luck would have it, directly from the Kremlin itself that , "If they have no regard for the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded, for the leveled infrastructure, for the six million plus who have fled Ukraine, or for the billions of US tax dollars, then what is their opinion with [00:44:00] regard to triggering World War III?"

It's literally the argument straight out of the Kremlin. It's echoed, that argument, by both the right and, sadly, the left. Even though nobody wants World War III, but nobody is forcing the youth of Ukraine to march into the Russian war machine. Other than Russia, by the way. They are. But those of us who think that Ukraine should be allowed to defend themselves if they choose to, which they have valiantly now for more than two years, from an invasion they neither caused nor invited, that somehow we are the privileged and, amusingly, the neocon class, really?

It's quite amusing because if only this particular piece in The Hill sent to me by an actual progressive citing it, I guess, favorably— or at least a one time progressive— to argue against my position on Ukraine. That article in The Hill was actually written by a guy named Doug McKinnon. He used to work for the [00:45:00] Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush White Houses, and the Pentagon under the Bush administration, he was press secretary to Bob Dole. But he's the guy progressives are citing now? On Ukraine? To support their position? He's the one who's worried about the privileged and the neocons? And he's being promoted by a supposed lefty for these peaceful views on Ukraine.

Really? Anyway, I want to focus on the claim included in the headline of that Hill piece. It was sent to me by Jim to, "raise your privileged hand if you're willing to fight to the last Ukrainian." In fact, Jim's email to me including nothing, included nothing more than a link to that article. With a subject line on the email that read, " Raise that hand, Brad."

And I honestly believe that Jim has no idea that he is literally helping to circulate literal Kremlin [00:46:00] propaganda on that fight to the last Ukrainian line. I suspect Doug McKinnon does know it. I don't know if Jim does. But, you know, I'd like to think he doesn't. And I'd like to think that many of the folks that you may hear echoing these exact same lines— including folks you will hear right here on my own flagship station in Los Angeles on KPFK, and probably across many other Pacifica affiliate stations— maybe they don't realize that this disinformation comes literally straight out of the Kremlin. But it does. As the Washington Post reported in an exclusive last week headline: "Kremlin Runs Disinformation Campaign to Undermine Zelensky, Documents Show."

Kremlin instructions to circulate pretty much all of the talking points that I just mentioned. That McKinnon, on the right, passed along to Hill readers, and that Jim, on the left, then passed on to me. These are all [00:47:00] now well-documented as being ordered specifically by the Kremlin, making their way onto social media, and then into the mouths of knowing or unknowing useful idiots.

The post writes in their exclusive, "The Kremlin instruction resulted in thousands of social media posts and hundreds of fabricated articles created by troll farms and circulated in Ukraine and across Europe. The files numbering more than 100 documents were shared with the Post to expose for the first time the scale of Kremlin propaganda targeting Zelensky with the aim of dividing and destabilizing Ukrainian society. Efforts that Moscow dubbed, 'information psychological operations.'"

The article goes on to list Moscow's four key objectives as detailed by the document, which, "show that progress was monitored at near-weekly Kremlin meetings where the strategist gave presentations showcasing the most widely read posts [00:48:00] that they planted. In social media. Among the material they highlighted was a top post they cited of a fake video on Telegram claiming that the main war aim of authorities in Kiev was, " to fight to the last Ukrainian.

That's the exact argument that appeared in The Hill last week from a right winger, was passed on to me from a supposed left winger. Not a supposed left wing. An actual one. I know him. But like too many on the left, he has fallen prey. Yes, just as the House GOP has. Two talking points literally straight out of the Kremlin.

And while there are many out there calling out Trump and his Republican party at this point for becoming useful idiots for Vladimir Putin, few, if any, are calling out those on the left who have done the same thing. Who have fallen for it even at the potential cost of Western [00:49:00] democracy. 

BONUS Trump Backers Kill Navalny - Gaslit Nation - Air Date 2-20-24

ANDREA CHALUPA - CO-HOST, GASLIT NATION: Without question, and I want to point out that you wrote a very brave piece for the Washington Post years ago calling out Navalny's more chauvinistic, far right, Russian imperialist attitude towards Ukrainians. He was all in favor, initially, of Russia keeping Crimea, which it seized— invading another country and just seizing some of his land as Hitler did in the 1930s— and Navalny is like, "Yeah, no. Crimea is ours now." He got a lot of pushback for that including in your piece, which you got a lot of heat for because the West has a tendency of wanting to put opposition figures— who are, of course, risking their lives and being very brave— on pedestals, and simplify their story.

Where you presented Navalny as more complicated than that. Thank you for doing that because, when his murder was announced, you had a lot of leading Ukrainian journalists and civic society leaders going, "Let's be real here. This one man's death doesn't overshadow the fact that every single day Ukrainians are being [00:50:00] slaughtered." Civilians are being slaughtered, just two sleeping, I believe, last night were just killed in a Ukrainian city.

Thank you for doing that. 

TERRELL STARR: Thank you. I appreciate that, because there are many obituaries about Alexei Navalny. When we think about Alexei Navalny's death and the many obituaries that are written about him, that are tweeted about him, that are Instagrammed and TikToked about him, it really is a microcosm of life.

During death, because that person is no longer here to defend themselves, we tend to say we want to "give deference" to the dead, right? However, if you are a public figure, in the case of Navalny, you no longer have that cover. You took the pledge of being a public figure. Particularly one in his case, where he took a very brave moral high ground that we all can learn from. Which is fighting kleptocracy.

 Many people say, "What can we learn from Navalny's death?" I think there are a couple of things. One, I wish that he had lived long enough to show that he could be a better human being than [00:51:00] he actually was. That his actions betrayed. For example, notice that most of the people who are giving cover to his racism, to his nationalism and his xenophobia, are white men in the West and people who are banned from going to Russia.

 These are people who have grievances with Putin, I think they have such strong tunnel vision that they can't see anything else. I remember having a very vigorous debate about his nationalism at a think tank here in DC. One person that was in the Zoom call basically said, "I know he says some racist things," and that's it, and brushed it aside. 

I'm like, "Okay." 

It was as if I was not even in the room! What if someone that you like says some racist things about Black people? Are you just going to say, "Well, he said these things in the past, but he 'kind of' acknowledged it," then we're going to move on?

Navalny did not make himself accountable to his strongest critics and the people with whom he claimed that he wanted to lead a better Russia with (i. [00:52:00] e. the central Asians who are colonized— the Georgians, the Armenians, the Ukrainians). Those are the people who I wish that he could have proved that he was a better human being to.

Moreover, when we think about kleptocracy, and Biden saying, " Putin is responsible for his death, and we need to pay tribute to Navalny." You know what we can do? We can stop the kleptocracy here in the United States of America. We can really reverse some of these laws that make it so easy for money —PAC money —to influence our elections. We could do a better job to stop washing oligarch money in our country. 

There's a really great researcher, his name is Casey Michel, who does a lot of work on this. In his book, he talked about Ihor Kolomyskyi, who was buying industrial businesses in the Midwest. He really didn't care about the workers. Really did not care about their safety. It was just a place where he could wash his money— he could hide it. Because those local communities were so cash-strapped and desperate for investment, they didn't care about the origins of [00:53:00] his money. So, if we really cared about kleptocracy, we can at least do that. I think that's one thing that we can honor Navalny for— by being better human beings to each other. What do we value most? Do we value human rights? Are we bloodthirsty capitalists who don't care about the moral fabric? About where the money comes from? We really want to invest in Navalny's legacy, why don't we start there? 

ANDREA CHALUPA - CO-HOST, GASLIT NATION: Without question! America is one of the largest money laundering paradises for the corrupt. We have all the oligarchs from around the world hiding their money in our real estate. One insanely rich woman from China bought an apartment— a $6 million apartment— that's sitting empty because it's for her two-year-old child.

That's who we're competing with for real estate here in New York City. All of these corrupt oligarchs laundering their money in cities like New York. And that's just one place; it's happening all across the country. Then you have our easy LLC shell company system [00:54:00] where anybody from anywhere can just open up a company and park their money here.

As a result, you have these corrupt officials from around the world laundering their money across the US and further entrenching their influence with their money across the US. Then we're wondering why Donald Trump is just a heartbeat away from becoming president states? Because there's this larger culture of corruption that has gone unchecked for too long because of hyper capitalism.

The most amazing thing is people — especially Republicans, especially conservatives —are pulling their hair out going, "How did my beloved,"— and I'm speaking from their point of view, I'm not speaking for myself because Reagan is a mass murderer in his own way, they're saying, "How did my beloved Reagan, 'Morning in America,' —how did the 'Party of Reagan' become the party of Putin?"

It's so simple. Reagan laid the groundwork for that with "Greed is Good." The Kremlin took advantage of that. The Kremlin's like, "Yes, greed is good. And, we are going to invade your country through the front door — through your greed." That's what they're doing now. 

TERRELL STARR: Isn't it [00:55:00] ironic that Ronald Reagan, who we both abhor, was totally correct about blunting the expansion of the USSR, but he was completely wrong about everything else that helped them to really insert themselves in our democracy financially. Isn't that ironic? 

Final comments on the global vaiew of autocratic propaganda

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with Brian Tyler Cohen, breaking down Tucker Carlson's Putin interview. MSNBC looked at how propaganda has normalized autocracy. On the Media looked at the connection with Christian nationalism. The Hartmann Report tied in Mike Johnson to the discussion on theocracy. MSNBC looked at how Russia is using Republican lawmakers as tools of propaganda. The Rachel Maddow Show discuss the national security implications of Russian election interference. And The BradCast broke down a piece of Russian propaganda aimed at the progressive left. That's what everybody heard, but members also heard a bonus clip from Gaslit Nation, getting into some of the messy details of the death of Putin opposition leader, [00:56:00] Navalny. 

To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support, or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information. 

Now to wrap up. And this may not need to be said, but we're not just facing a Russia problem. You know, we're facing an authoritarianism problem and that is around the world. Trump's authoritarian ambitions are coming ever clearer into focus as he describes what he would like to do when reelected but he also met up recently with Viktor Orban of Hungary who has already put in place all of the basic mechanisms Trump would like to use to ensconce himself into power indefinitely. 

And that was a good reminder that Tucker Carlson did the exact same thing with Orban as he did with Putin. He traveled to Hungary, interviewed Orban, and spoke at length about why Hungary is so much better than the US. [00:57:00] It's really just boiler plate normalization of authoritarianism at this point. CPAC, the far right annual American political conference where GOP presidential candidates used to regularly appear to present themselves to the grassroots of the GOP, has also set up shop in Hungary now. Their third conference in Budapest is happening next month. 

So in terms of defeating this spreading wave of autocratic energy, it's definitely a 'think global act local' kind of moment. On one hand, I think it is important to understand all of the interconnectedness of what's happening on the far right globally. But it's also important to not become overwhelmed. Everyone has a role to play in the lead up to the coming election in November. And that needs to be the focus. Find a way to get involved, help any way you can and stem the tide of dictatorship where you can have an impact. Don't get [00:58:00] overly wrapped up and stressed about everything you can't have an impact on. You cannot change the tide of right-wing thought around the world. But you can take action where you live to help this year's election be a bulwark against that tide of authoritarianism.

That is going to be it for today as always keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about this or anything else. You can leave a voicemail or send a text at 202-999-3991, or simply email me to [email protected]. 

Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to our transcriptionist quartet, Ken, Brian, Ben, and now Andrew, for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and a bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who already support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift [00:59:00] memberships. You can join them by signing up today bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and often funny bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content, no ads, and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes all through your regular podcast player. You'll find that link in the show notes, along with a link to join our Discord community, where you can also continue the discussion. 

So, coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show, from bestoftheleft.com.

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