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A half-decade ago, the originally Boston-based site and its rabid fan community wouldn’t have scanned as “political” at all. But now, its proudly Neanderthal, reactionary ethos aligns perfectly with the side of our political binary that Trump reconfigured: the one whose common denominator is a tooth-and-nail, middle-finger unwillingness to accept liberal social norms.

If you looked at Portnoy circa 2010 — a budding bro-entrepreneur, popping champagne with models in cheesy photo shoots — you’d have to squint pretty hard to see a potential Republican standard-bearer. If you look now, it’s hard not to. It’s commonplace by now to observe that the Trump presidency “changed everything” for Republicans, from conventional wisdom on policy to how their internal politics are conducted. But first and foremost, it changed the face the party presented to the world. Where onetime nominees like Mitt Romney and John McCain tried and failed to subordinate cultural grievance to a more professionalized, inclusive style of politics, Trump succeeded by placing it right on the front of the tin. And when he casually dismantled that old fusion of free-market economic fervor and country-club traditionalism, Barstool was ready.

The rise of the “Barstool Republican,” to coin a phenotype, doesn’t necessarily explain Trump. It is, however, a useful way to understand what’s happened to American politics without constantly invoking the former president’s name. Portnoy’s devotees aren’t MAGA fanatics or Q fans who live to torment liberals, and they’re certainly not part of the GOP’s evangelical base. (One could imagine the last thing they’d want is a Supreme Court that strikes down Roe.) But the Barstool Republican now largely defines the Republican coalition because of his willingness to dispense with his party’s conventional policy wisdom on anything — the social safety net, drug laws, abortion access — as long as it means one thing: he doesn’t have to vote for some snooty Democrat, and, by proxy, the caste of lousy deans that props up the left’s politically-correct cultural regime.

The backlash to liberal domination of pop culture and the past decade’s transformation of speech norms created the Barstool Republican long before Portnoy’s name was bandied about in jest as a political candidate. And if you’ve been paying attention, their cultural revolution dates back to a time when such antics were more likely to get you kicked out of Mar-a-Lago than installed as its lifelong “El Presidente.”

***

Lost in the annals of a time when culture wars weren’t quite as central to our national politics is a nomenclature that now seems almost quaint: the so-called “South Park Republican.”

As far back as 2001, the gadfly conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan was using the term to describe members of his political tribe who shared the anti-P.C., socially libertarian views of “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Stone and Parker, true to form, loudly protested their hatred of both major parties. Still, the label stuck, inspiring sparring New York Times columns and even a book-length exploration of the concept by conservative writer Brian C. Anderson.

In the political climate of the mid-2000s, the concept’s appeal was obvious: As Gen X-ers and younger Baby Boomers entered the ranks of the political elite, it made sense that they would dispense with the blue-blooded stuffiness and social conservatism of the Reagan-Bush imperium in favor of a vaguely countercultural, post-Sixties tolerance. W traded his father’s country-club affect for a pair of cowboy boots, but he wasn’t fooling anyone: The cultural energy in the Republican Party, to the extent that it had any, was in its feather-ruffling libertarian wing, whose influence would soon reach its zenith with the self-proclaimed Ron Paul Revolution. But like so many would-be revolutions, this one was denied — or at least delayed and mutated.

Paul’s 2012 bid to become the Republican Party’s presidential standard-bearer fizzled out in spectacular fashion, failing to convert internet hype into any meaningful primary support. Romney won the nomination and invited the youthful Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan along for the ride (whose rad workout gear and politically inscrutable love of Rage Against the Machine, alas, failed to inspire a Romney-Ryan youth movement).

Crashing on the rocks of both Barack Obama’s megawatt cultural celebrity and the looming coronation of Jeb Bush as the post-“autopsy” face of the GOP, the Rude Republican cohort was at loose ends — until an unlikely salvation came in the form of a 6’3” reality show host and frequent Howard Stern guest descending his golden escalator into the first paragraph of 21st-century American history.

Trump was at first an uneasy fit for both the more culturally-sophisticated, libertarian-leaning members of the Republican coalition as well as their staid religious counterparts. But at the same time he was hotwiring Republican culture and pushing it to the limits of street-legality, anti-P.C. critics saw another revolution happening within liberal politics — and, by the transitive property, pop culture writ large. In their eyes, Hillary Clinton’s campaign represented the triumph of a pro-establishment cultural nanny state that rejected Obama’s attempted de-escalation of the culture wars in favor of a rigid new etiquette of social justice: A rainbow flag hoisted, in effect, over the Bushes’ Kennebunkport compound.

One of Trump’s early adopters articulated the mindset perfectly in August 2015, back when Jeb! was still his closest primary threat: “I am voting for Donald Trump. I don’t care if he’s a joke. I don’t care if he’s racist. I don’t care if he’s sexist. I don’t care about any of it. I hope he stays in the race and I hope he wins. Why? Because I love the fact that he is making other politicians squirm. I love the fact he says shit nobody else will say, regardless of how ridiculous it is.”

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No points for guessing the author: Dave Portnoy, birthing the Barstool Republican with a single 200-word blog post. Trump transformed the political landscape by tapping into a powerful desire for freedom from criticism or censure — a desire that Portnoy shared, and which has only grown more intense and widespread as the panopticon of social media becomes the primary stage for not just national politics, but civic life at every level.

In a column this February for The Week, the Catholic social conservative writer Matthew Walther referred to “Barstool conservatives” as primarily sharing a “disdain for the language of liberal improvement, the hectoring, schoolmarmish attitude of Democratic politicians and their allies in the media, and, above all, the elevation of risk-aversion to the level of a first-order principle by our professional classes.” In other words: culture-war issues.

Oddly enough, despite the inherent thirst for conflict that it brings, the ascent of Barstool-ism within the Republican Party can be chalked up to ideological diversity within the GOP. What could unite free-market libertarians, revanchist Catholics, Southern evangelicals, and working-class Reagan Democrats but their shared hatred of… actual Democrats?

With that as the party’s guiding principle, and no clear policy agenda to speak of — the 2020 RNC literally did not have a new policy platform — those willing to trash the Democratic cultural regime most loudly and consistently are firmly in command, with more staid Republicans forced to at least provide cover, if not actively follow their cues.

They’re forced to defend freshman North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn in the face of his attention-seeking tweets and allegations of sexual harassment from his (very recent) college days, while he ranks in the top 10 members of Congress in missed votes. They’re forced to defend Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz as he faces his own allegations of sexual impropriety — not to mention his frat-boy antics, like showing up to Congress in a gas mask in the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic. They’re forced to defend Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert as she fends off complaints from constituents about her “embarrassing” freshman term in Congress, after winning a primary and general election largely on the strength of her, well, bar ownership.

So just as anti-P.C., vaguely amoral Barstool-ism can be a strength, it can also be a weakness. In a media environment built to reinforce and intensify one’s ideological beliefs, being on the attack all the time can leave you in an exhausting state of constant defense. Yes, it can galvanize — nearly 75 million people voted to re-elect Donald Trump, the Stoolie-in-chief — but it can also exasperate and infuriate in turn — a record 81 million Americans voted for Trump’s purposely less-pugilistic opponent, Joe Biden. It also runs the risk of all novelty: that people might just bore of it. Yesterday’s provocation becomes today’s status quo, and in turn tomorrow’s epic cringe.

When Republican voters made Trump their presidential nominee in 2016, they chose gloves-off culture war over either Jeb Bush’s earnest compromise or the imitations of a careerist provocateur like Sen. Ted Cruz. Trump tapped into a very real dissatisfaction in the American electorate with the liberal status quo around speech and culture, and reaped both the attendant rewards and backlash. Someone like Dave Portnoy is, if not a viable presidential candidate, at least a credible successor to the role of the office’s last Republican occupant: Trump, Gaetz, Boebert, Cawthorn and their ilk all share Portnoy’s single-minded obsession with scoring headlines and affirming their constituents’ cultural identities at any cost.

In a media-obsessed world, it’s a powerful, intoxicating skill. And now that it’s proven a viable pathway to electoral success, Republicans are — perhaps wisely — clinging to it for dear life. As a creation of Judd Apatow, the 21st century’s great dorm-room comedy auteur, once said: “Pandora doesn’t go back in the box, he only comes out.”

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Jan 6th Commission

[VIDEO] Trey Gowdy accuses the media of being ‘too scared’ to ask Pelosi questions

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‘Sunday Night in America’ slammed the Speaker for rejecting GOP picks for Jan. 6 committee.

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These immigrants have one shot to come to the US. But Biden has to act.

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Three years ago, amid negotiations over immigration reform, then-President Donald Trump infamously questioned why the US was taking in immigrants from “Shithole countries.”

He was referring to people from African nations who often have no legal pathway to come to the US except through a program known as the “diversity visa lottery.” Every year, roughly 55,000 people from countries with low levels of immigration to the US are chosen via a lottery to apply for a visa through the program. For many of them, it’s a golden ticket to a better life.

It wasn’t the first time the program had been targeted and misrepresented by Trump. He blamed a 2017 terrorists attack in New York on the program, vowing to end it. And he presented it as antithetical to his proposal for a “marit-based” immigration system, under which the US would select visa applicants based on desirable labor market attributes — defined so as to make the immigrant population whiter and richer.

Trump never actually managed to end the program, but his administration deprioritized the applicants relative to other immigrants. President Joe Biden’s election was supposed to bring diversity visa applicants relief. He had promised on the campaign trail that he would keep the program intact, and soon after his inauguration, he pledged to expand the program by 25,000 visasannually as part of his proposed comprehensive immigration reform package.

But well into the first year of his presidency, that hasn’t come to fruition. Rather, diversity visa lottery winners who applied for visas amid the Covid-19 pandemic now risk losing their opportunity to come to the US — in part because the State Department has continued the Trump-era policy of deprioritizing their applications.

“What the Biden administration has done to the diversity visa program in deprioritizing, it contravenes those campaign promises, and we’re worse off because of it,” said Rafael Urena, an American attorney representing diversity visa applicants affected by the policy. “We really draw from the strength of our diverse population.”

In response to a request for comment, a State Department official emailed me a statement on the condition of anonymity saying that the US government’s capacity to review these applications and schedule the required interviews depends on US embassies and consulates abroad, many of which are backlogged due to closures and capacity limits amid the pandemic.

They have been prioritizing services to US citizens overseas and issuing visas in urgent or emergency situations, such as for people seeking to aid America’s response to the pandemic. Immediate family members of US citizens, international adoptions, and engaged couples are next on the priority list. Diversity visa applicants are at the very bottom.

“Because of the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it is impossible to forecast how many [diversity visas] we will issue this year, but we want to set appropriate expectations and say that it is very likely we will not issue the full allotment allowed,” the official said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the Department’s visa processing capacity,” the official added. “Additionally, a range of presidential proclamations restricting travel in response to the pandemic have resulted in further constraints on visa issuances worldwide.”

That means diversity visa applicants could miss a once-in-a-lifetime chance to come to the US. The government has to process their applications by a September 30 deadline; otherwise, they lose their spot. And they likely won’t win the lottery again — they have a less than 1 percent chance of being selected from among more than 23 million entrants.

“It’s once in a lifetime,” said Maxwell Goodluck, a diversity visa lottery winner from Ghana who applied every year for 12 years before he was eventually selected. “If we lose this opportunity, it would take the grace of God for it to come back again,” he told me, referring to himself and the other applicants in the same position. “We don’t know what to do.”

The administration’s failure to issue diversity visas has left thousands in limbo

Severals lawsuits  brought by roughly 25,000 diversity visa lottery winners from 141 countries altogether have argued that the federal government faces a legal obligation to review the applications of people who won the lottery and that the US’s vast resources can make that happen. But if that’s not possible, they say they should still have the opportunity to be issued a visa beyond the September 30 deadline.

For Lizbeth Rosales, a diversity visa lottery winner from Lima, Peru, that’s just what seems right. “We don’t have anything against the country or the citizens of America. We just want whatever is fair. That’s it,” she said. “We are not just case numbers. We are people. We have feelings, we have hopes, dreams. This is our only chance for a better future.”

The uncertainty as to whether diversity visa lottery winners will eventually be able to come to the US has left many putting their plans on hold and living with constant anxiety.

Rosales, who also applied for diversity visas on behalf of her husband and their two young children, w as planning to move to New Orleans, where she previously spent a year working in the hospitality industry as an intern on a student visa.

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She has friends there who encouraged her to apply for the visa lottery in the first place, and her husband, who works as a cook on a cruise ship, would also be able to find work. They were also hoping to pursue better educational opportunities for themselves and for their 4-year-old son and almost 1-year-old daughter.

Given that the pandemic has hit Peru particularly hard, leading to one of the highest per capita death rates in the world and a deep economics recessions, Rosales said that moving to the US at this particular moment seems especially attractive. But the uncertainty has been tough to live with. She has commiserated with other diversity visa lottery winners in the region on WhatsApp groups.

“For some of them, this is their only way out. This really breaks my heart because I consider myself to be in a better position than others. It may be God making me experience all of this to better understand or value my life,” she said. “I feel affected not only for me but for the rest. You feel touched by other people’s suffering. So this definitely creates sadness and anxiety as well. I wish the reality was different.”

Goodluck, the lottery winner from Ghana, says he and others are experiencing this anxiety. “We hardly sleep these days,” he told me. “Sometimes, you can’t even concentrate. You’re thinking about it 24/7. To console ourselves, we end up crying.”

He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and is working in the IT department for Ghana’s education department, but he says he has always wanted to pursue cybersecurity, which would require further education. He has a cousin in Colorado who has promised to support him in that goal if he moves to the US.

His backup plan is to pursue a master’s degree in computer science in Ghana. In order to study cybersecurity, he would have to take an online course. But the fees are high, and he doesn’t want to start the program without knowing whether he will stay in the country.

“It’s a nightmare,” he said.

Democrats in Congress have proposed legislation to help — but it might not go far enough

House Democrats have been trying to remedy the plight of diversity visa lottery winners from 2020 and 2021, but it’s not clear they will succeed.

Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) has put forth an amendments to a Homeland Security appropriations bill that would allow unused diversity visas from 2020 and 2021 to remain available after the fiscal year ends on September 30. That means that a portion of the 55,000 or so diversity visas allocated for next year would go to people who had applied in previous years.

Though the amendment has passed in the relevant House committee, the entire bill still has to survive a full floor vote in the House. And it has yet to be considered by the Senate, where it is likely to face opposition from GOP members.

In May, Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) also introduced legislation that would aid the almost 21,000 people who were either granted diversity visas or had applied for them but were prevented from entering the country under Trump-era bans. However, it hasn’t gained any traction in the months since.

But neither of those bills addresses the lengthy wait times that diversity visa applicants are likely to face, even if they remain eligible beyond the September deadline. And diversity visa applicants from years past would take away spots from future applicants under Meng’s amendment.

“It would solve the issue of loss of eligibility,” Urena, the attorney representing diversity visa applicants, said. “But actually getting them into the country — the Biden administration would have to refocus its efforts on adjudicating diversity visas. We’re looking at long wait times and basically losing eligibility every year for [new] diversity visa applicants.”

Urena said the cost of waiting can be high. He had one client who had won the diversity visa lottery in 2020 but died while he was waiting for his visa to be issued. His older children had been hoping to come to the US on diversity visas and start a new life, but that won’t be possible now because they are no longer eligible through their father.

It’s a frustrating reality for families that are just trying to find a legal pathway to come to the US. “We didn’t do anything against the law. We just follow what is supposed to be followed,” Rosales said. “If we really are treated with fairness, we can be a good asset to the country.”

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[VIDEO] GOP Lawmaker Says His District Is ‘Under Direct Assault’ From Biden’s Border Policies

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In the House GOP weekly address, Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX) blamed President Biden’s policies for harming his district and others across the country.

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