Friday, October 22, 2021

The latest Trump business failure - steaks, mattresses, phony degrees, and now a tech company

Will Trump’s latest venture, a media company, be any more successful than any of his earlier fiascos? Trump University comes to mind. (With thanks to Charlie Sykes.)

Jack Shafer at Politico offers this Opinion | Trump’s New Media Outlet Will Go the Way of His Steaks and Mattresses. The former president promises to take on the biggest competitors in the business. But he has no clue how to run a media company, and it’s not clear he can attract an audience. Lightly edited excerpts follow.

Nobody can doubt the power of former President Donald Trump to draw and keep an audience. Before Twitter permanently suspended him in January, he could boast 88.7 million followers. At least 35.4 million subscribed to his Facebook account prior to his defenestration there. His many books clotted the New York Times bestseller list, and even after his November defeat, he can still reliably fill basketball arenas and state fairground exhibition halls. Wherever Trump has gone, his supporters have flocked to partake of his strange charisma.

But is their allegiance so pure and enduring that they’ll follow him to a new company, announced Wednesday night — a business that promises a social media outlet to take on Twitter (called Truth Social), “non-woke” streaming video news and entertainment to compete with CNN and Disney, podcasts, and cloud software and services to go up against Microsoft, Google and Amazon? A public statement announcing the merger of the newly formed Trump Media & Technology Group, of which Trump is chair, and a speculative “blank-check” company named Digital World Acquisition Corp. promises that TMTG will enter all these media spaces to “fight back against the ‘Big Tech’ companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America.”

At least that’s Trump’s pipe dream. There’s nothing new about the comic grandiosity of TMTG’s ambitions, revealed in its corporate slide deck. It only conforms with Trump’s long-held belief that “truthful hyperbole” is the key to selling real estate — or any of the crap products (steaks, mattresses, water, men’s wear, vodka, perfume, eyeglasses, coffee) (and did I, your Scriber, mention faux degrees from Trump U?) Trump has hawked to resistant customers. Trump is a moderately successful businessman when he sticks to his specialties — real estate and hotels. But all those overpriced, shoddy namesake products failed in the marketplace because Trump didn’t know how to compete with people who really understood those businesses. We can expect Truth Social and the other world-beater enterprises TMTG proposes to likewise be sucked into the void because Trump 1) has no clue about how to run media or tech properties and 2) lacks sufficient appeal.


As an example of the kind of thing Trump is now trying out: “Then came the disaster of the Trump blog, which died earlier this year after just 29 days, finding a permanent resting place in the Trump cemetery interred alongside his steaks, coffee pods, neckwear and vodka bottles.” And could I again lobby for Trump U?

"… are we really expected to believe a media and tech start-up with the pocket-change of $293 million in the kitty and overseen by a 75-year-old man can outduel Fox, CNN, Disney and Microsoft?

For the better part of his career, Trump has been frequently characterized in the press as a grifter, somebody who preys on people for a living. That’s a tad unfair. Trump’s reputation for milking consumers with slapdash goods and bamboozling investors has been so well established for so long that anybody who buys from or invests with him must first ignore the ample evidence arguing against dealing with him. It’s too early in TMTG’s story to call the company a grift, even if, as the Washington Post puts it, TMTG appears to be little more than “a vaguely defined company headquartered at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s club in Palm Beach.” Based on TMTG’s public statement, there’s no clue the company has a product ready to sell, unique technology or even name recognition to trade on. (You can, however, download the Truth Social app, but the beta site doesn’t go live until November.) That Trump can only start something so small to take on businesses that are so large indicates that his reputation for business failure has finally caught up to him. Billionaires and other truly moneyed folk must not have returned Trump’s calls. It’s an old story: Eventually, every grifter runs out of people to grift.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

We need a voting rights law ...

… like right NOW!

Here is an excerpt from Heather Cox Richardson’s October 15, 2021 Letters from An American.

… here we are. Republicans are trying to regain control of the government by making sure their opponents can’t vote, while Democrats are trying to level a badly tilted playing field. If the Democrats do not succeed in passing a voting rights law, we can expect America to become a one-party state that, at best, will look much like the American South did between 1876 and 1964.

Our nation will no longer be a democracy.

There are currently three voting measures before Congress. The For the People Act is a sweeping measure that cuts back on voter suppression, ends partisan gerrymandering, curbs dark money in politics, and combats corruption. The House of Representatives passed this measure in early March 2021 and sent it to the Senate, where Republicans blocked it using a filibuster.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court gutted in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision. The House of Representatives passed this measure in late August 2021 and sent it to the Senate, where it sits under threat of a filibuster.

In the Senate, Joe Manchin (D-WV) expressed misgivings about the voting measures and vowed to hammer out a voting rights bill that could attract the votes of ten Republicans and thus break a filibuster. He and a number of Democratic colleagues announced the Freedom to Vote Act in mid-September 2021. If there are ten Republicans to support the measure, we have not yet seen them.

The Senate will vote on the Freedom to Vote Act on Wednesday.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

The curious record of Senator Sinematic - Updated

The curious record of Senator Sinematic.

You might recall, from years past, that I (your Scriber) have flipped and flopped when it comes to U. S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema. I’ve complained about her voting record in the House. But then I’ve published data showing that she voted mostly progressively and against Trump. If you want to sample her voting use the search feature on this blog for “Sinematic”. Most recently she dramatically, Sinematically we could say, nixed the $15 minimum wage and then joined Sen. Joe Manchin in rejecting filibuster reform.

Chris Hayes To Kyrsten Sinema: What Are You Doing Here? asks the AZ Blue Meanie at Blog for Arizona. Following is an excerpt from that post.

Tom Danehy, at the Tucson Weekly, thinks that: It Is Time For Kyrsten Sinema To Go.


Here are 10 reasons why Kyrsten Sinema must go away. In fact, the very concept of Kyrsten Sinema must go away. And she must go away now. Not next year or, God help us, in 2024, when we Arizonans who actually give a damn about our state and country find a primary candidate to knock the multi-colored crap out of her.

We can’t recall her. The Republicans in the Senate certainly won’t do anything to her. She’s their staunchest (and strangest) ally. We’re going to have to trick her. We should get President Biden to appoint her as Ambassador to Cotton Candy Land, where everything is pink and sweet and there are no mean people trying to figure out what is bouncing around in that hollow head of hers.

(1) She’s freakin’ nuts! Now, I know that it’s crazy for a layperson such as myself to try to psychoanalyze somebody, but this one’s easy. Maybe she’s one of those high-functioning sociopaths that we see in the movies. Those things never end well.

(2) Her absurd fascination with the filibuster is allowing Senate Republicans to run out the clock on this vital legislative session (nothing will get done next year because it’s a midterm election year) while their counterparts in various state governments do all they can to make future elections for whites only, thus ensuring that America’s clear majority will be disenfranchised, ignored, and maybe even subjugated by tyrants who will do anything to cling to minority power for the next few years.

She’s like the basketball player standing in the lane on defense who watches somebody drive straight to the basket for a layup. When asked later why she didn’t help, she will say, “I had my man; she didn’t score.” When America turns into something that’s not America, how hollow will her words sound when she says, “I stood up for the filibuster, an outdated and horribly misused anachronism.”

(3) She and her partner in gross incompetence, West Virgina Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, are content to fiddle while democracy burns. And it’s burning.

(4) She’s the most embarrassing member of Congress from Arizona and that’s really saying something. You might figure that it’s Andy Biggs, who got up in front of God and everybody and put in the official Congressional record that he doesn’t know who won the presidential vote in Arizona in 2020. He does. They all do. It’s just that, between them, they don’t have the combined capacity of one testicle and therefore can’t bring themselves to utter the truth. Biggs’ justification for repeating the Big Lie: He claims that someone who worked at a polling station “had some concerns.”

Paul Gosar, who is openly racist and anti-Semitic, is worse than Andy Biggs. But at least we know where both of those talking rectums stand. They don’t pretend to care about democracy or fairness or skin that’s darker than Dolly Parton’s. They’re just really bad people doing really bad things for really bad reasons. But at least they don’t pretend to be something else.

Sinema pretends to be serious, but she’s a buffoon.

(5) Her backstory keeps changing. That’s a major red flag.

(6) Forget about being the most embarrassing Arizona politician right now. She’s the most embarrassing EVER. Evan Mecham can now rest in peace, having passed on the mantle.

(7) She’s like the idiot who has a bumper sticker that reads “I’m a maverick.” True mavericks would never feel the need to publicly self-identify. And neither do they ostentatiously attempt to prove it on a daily basis.

(8)* I know that it’s a matter of personal style (or complete lack thereof) and Lord knows no one will ever accuse me of being a slave to fashion, but I’m not a United States Senator, for goodness sake! How does she expect anybody to take her seriously when she shows up to work dressed like she spent the night on a park bench after being thrown out of the monster truck rally for being too obnoxious?

I completely understand that no man should EVER tell a woman how to dress, but she is in Washington doing a job for her constituents. She’s got to know that many of the knuckleheads with whom she must deal (at least partially) judge her by her appearance. If she wants to be taken seriously, maybe she can start by taking herself seriously.

(9) We have no idea where she stands on anything. She doesn’t make statements, she doesn’t give interviews, she doesn’t do her damn job. It’s painfully obvious that what Kyrsten Sinema wants is for people to be obsessed with trying to figure out what Kyrsten Sinema wants. I’m firmly convinced that there’s no there, there.

(10) She was elected under false pretenses. She caught the luckiest of breaks, running in a midterm year against a horribly flawed Republican candidate (Martha McSally) who had doomed her chances by tying herself to the worst president in United States history. (McSally would stupidly repeat that mistake in 2020, all the while being humiliated by Trump.)

I HATE that I voted for Sinema. She’s a fraud and a danger. Her political career is over. She can’t win in 2024. Republicans won’t vote for her because she’s not a Republican and Democrats won’t vote for her because she’s not a Democrat.

She should leave now before she can do any more harm.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Jim Jordan wants to 'ban all vaccine mandates'

What the heck. If the GOPlins are going to ban vaccination why stop with Covid? Indeed, that piece of Republican stupidity is in the works!

Why it matters that Jim Jordan wants to ‘ban all vaccine mandates’. Steve Benen, writing at the MSNBC MaddowBlog, explains the danger preented by Jim Jordan who wants a ban on “all vaccine mandates,” not just those related to Covid–19. It’s an inevitable endpoint to a ridiculous political position.

For months, opponents of Covid–19 vaccine requirements have faced an awkward question for which there is no obvious answer: If vaccine mandates are so outrageous, why have they been common in the United States for generations?

Indeed, The New York Times recently explained that vaccination mandates “are an American tradition,” with roots that predate the United States itself. These policies are especially common in schools nationwide, where children are required to receive all kinds of vaccinations before they can attend classes.

The result is an unresolved inconsistency for those fighting tooth and nail against Covid–19 vaccine requirements: If modern society already has plenty of vaccine mandates, and they’re widely seen as uncontroversial, what’s wrong with defeating a deadly pandemic with one more?

To resolve the incongruity, opponents of Covid–19 vaccine requirements have two choices: They can accept the effective policies, or they can start pushing back against mandates that predate the current crisis. As The Washington Post noted, one far-right congressman prefers the latter.

The clash over mandates is playing out far beyond Texas…. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an outspoken conservative, tweeted that “Ohio should ban all vaccine mandates.”

After seeing the Republican’s tweet, I checked the Ohio Department of Health’s website, which features an “immunization summary for school attendance.” It’s not an especially short list: Before children can attend schools in Ohio, they must be fully immunized against, among other things, polio, measles, hepatitis B, chickenpox, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

This is not a new policy. It’s existed for years and it’s proven effective. But according to Jordan, the state of Ohio should nevertheless “ban all vaccine mandates” — because whether these requirements work well in preventing the spread of serious illnesses is less important than whether these requirements are ideologically satisfying.

The GOP congressman offers an unsettling example, but he may not be altogether alone. It was just a few weeks ago when Republican state Sen. Manny Diaz, who leads a health care committee in Florida’s legislature, said the state may “review” mandate policies for other vaccines.

Diaz later walked back his comment, but we were nevertheless reminded of where these arguments can end up. The editorial board of The Miami Herald recently published a good piece along these lines:

[I]n the GOP playbook, vaccine mandates are a new concoction by the freedom-hating far-left and government bureaucrats. Could long-standing vaccine mandates be the next target in Republican-led states like Florida? We once thought that would be a far-fetched possibility. Not so much today…. [T]oday we cannot so easily dismiss the idea that lunacy might prevail against established — and effective — public-health measures.

NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin added this week that it seems likely that the United States will “end up with fewer vaccine requirements in some places than we started with before the pandemic” that killed over 700,000 people. That may sound like madness, but it’s also painfully realistic.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

AZ AG caught between reality and Republicans

LAURIE ROBERTS (Arizona Republic) opines: The Arizona audit may bring down a politician after all. As pressure builds on Attorney General Mark Brnovich to start jailing people for non-existent election crimes, audit fanatics seem determined to ensure that Sen. Mark Kelly wins re-election.

It’s a rough time to be the Republicans’ best hope of knocking off Sen. Mark Kelly.

Brnovich soon may have to make a choice:

  • Do I abandon my oath and my ability to look in the mirror in order to win next year’s Senate Republican primary?
  • Or do I abide by the rules of evidence that require actual evidence before accusing people of crimes?

The fact that there is even a question shows just how far the far right wing of the Republican Party has descended in its freefall from reality.


Brnovich wants to overcome Trump’s criticism

Brnovich, these days, must be watching his political life flash before his eyes. He is the best known Republican in the Senate race, the candidate best positioned to win back the seat his party held for 52 years, until Kelly’s defeat of Sen. Martha McSally in 2020.

But Brnovich was put on notice in May by ex-President Donald Trump, who called him out for the cardinal sin of refusing to buy into the delusion that Trump really won Arizona.

“The lackluster Attorney General of Arizona, Mark Brnovich, has to get on the ball and catch up with the great Republican Patriots in the Arizona State Senate,” Trump said at the time. “As massive crime in the 2020 Election is becoming more and more evident and obvious, Brnovich is nowhere to be found.”

Brnovich’s sin? He hadn’t thrown in with the conspiracy crowd and the grifters who convinced a shockingly high number of Republicans that Arizona’s election was stolen. The AG even acknowledged in November that Joe Biden won, a statement that is a sacrilege in some GOP circles.

Since getting hit with the “lackluster” tag, Brnovich has been working overtime to out-Republican the competition in the crowded Senate GOP primary. He’s turned the Attorney General’s Office into a campaign annex.

The man’s a daily fixture on Fox as he rails against mask mandates and vaccine mandates and “Biden’s Border Crisis” and whatever he else he can use to rally the ranks and perhaps put the Senate once again in Republican hands.

Will he investigate (non-existent) fraud?

But ahead lies one massive pothole in his path to the Republican nomination:

Brnovich is expected to buy into the delusion that Senate President Karen Fann’s audit of Maricopa County’s election turned up evidence of massive voter fraud and he must act upon it.

Never mind that even the auditors acknowledge they found no evidence of fraud, only “anomalies” for which there may be logical explanations. (There are.)

Despite that inconvenient fact, far-right fanatics – hoping to ride the audit into higher office or greater fame or fatter wallets – are putting pressure on Brnovich to start arresting people.

“With all of the evidence of incompetence and criminality that’s been presented to the Arizona Senate, to Congress and now to the Arizona Attorney General, the Maricopa County election should not be allowed to stand,” state Rep. Mark Finchem, the Trump-endorsed candidate for secretary of state, said on Saturday during Trump’s Iowa rally.

Others in the GOP are pushing him to do it

Kari Lake, the Republican frontrunner in the governor’s race, wants Brnovich to file criminal charges against Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

“She’s basically the mastermind of the 2020 election … ,” Lake said during an appearance on Steve Bannon’s podcast in late September, shortly after the audit results were released in late September. “We have proof and evidence and he (Brnovich) needs to, right now, make it a crime scene.”

“Frankly, I think she should be locked up,” Lake said during an Oct. 2 rally in Cave Creek.

State Sen. Wendy Rogers wants to arrest the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

“I am about to go scorched earth if I don’t see progress from the Arizona AG soon,” state Sen. Wendy Rogers tweeted on Friday.

“Start calling and emailing the Arizona Attorney General,” Rogers tweeted on Tuesday. “Tell him to do his job and make arrests of the people the Arizona Senate caught deleting election files.”

Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s on board with that.

“They admit they hid evidence! #Crime,” Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward tweeted on Monday.

Either way, Brnovich will likely lose

Here in the real world, the supervisors have admitted that they moved election data to the archives, clearing space in the county’s election management system in February as they prepared for the spring elections. So not deleted, merely archived – meaning available for anyone to see who presents a subpoena.

But alas for Brnovich, the real world is not the space that he must occupy if he’s going to have a shot at Mark Kelly. Every day, the calls grow louder for him to start arresting people.

Brnovich is in a tough spot.

He’s sworn to follow the law and besides that, he’s saavy enough to know he can’t repeat the mistakes of McSally, who lost – twice – because she tied herself too tightly to Trump.

But he also needs to survive the primary, which means he must cater to the conspiracy crowd.

And the arrest-‘em-all fanatics don’t seem content with mere appetizers thrown their way in the form of a promise to investigate. They are demanding generous, juicy slabs of red meat – the bloodier the better.

Unfortunately for Brnovich, the blood left on the floor may, in the end, be his own.


Reach Roberts at Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Rational Republicans must ally with Democrats to save our democracy

WATCH: "We have a Republican Party that is now an autocratic cult around Donald Trump,” California Democrat @RepAdamSchiff tells @margbrennan on Face the Nation. “It is not interested in governing. It’s not interested in even maintaining the solvency in the credit worthiness of the country.”

Heather Cox Richardson, in her Oct 12 Letters from an American, expands on a theme by former (and some present) Republicans arguing for an alliance of “rational Republicans” and moderate Democrats. Here is her essay.


Both the New York Times and the Washington Post today ran op-eds from Republicans or former Republicans urging members of their party who still value democracy to vote Democratic until the authoritarian faction that has taken over their party is bled out of it.

In the New York Times, Miles Taylor and Christine Todd Whitman wrote, “We are Republicans. There’s only one way to save our party from pro-Trump extremists.” Taylor served in the Department of Homeland Security and was the author of the 2018 New York Times piece by “Anonymous” criticizing former president Trump. Whitman was governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001, after which she headed the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush.

Taylor and Whitman note that “rational Republicans” had hoped after Trump’s defeat that they might take back the party, but it is clear now, they write, that they are losing the party’s “civil war.” But while they originally hoped to form a new party, they now agree that the only way to stop Trumpism “is for us to form an alliance with Democrats to defend American institutions, defeat far-right candidates, and elect honorable representatives next year—including a strong contingent of moderate Democrats.” To defend democracy, they write, “concerned conservatives must join forces with Democrats on the most essential near-term imperative: blocking Republican leaders from regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives” and the Senate.

They call for Republicans to put country over party and back moderate Democrats, while also asking Democrats to concede that “there are certain races where progressives simply cannot win and acknowledg[e] that it makes more sense to throw their lot in with a center-right candidate who can take out a more radical conservative.”

At the Washington Post, Max Boot takes an even stronger stand: “I’m no Democrat—but I’m voting exclusively for Democrats to save our democracy.” Boot is a Russian-American specialist in foreign affairs who identifies as a conservative but no longer supports the Republican Party. He writes: “I’m a single-issue voter. My issue is the fate of democracy in the United States. Simply put, I have no faith that we will remain a democracy if Republicans win power. Thus, although I’m not a Democrat, I will continue to vote exclusively for Democrats—as I have done in every election since 2016—until the GOP ceases to pose an existential threat to our freedom.”

Boot singles out the dueling reports from the Senate Judiciary Committee about the nine ways in which Trump tried to pressure then–acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to back his claims of election fraud. The Democrats on the committee established these efforts with an evidence-based report, only to have the Republicans on the committee, led by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), respond that the president was simply trying to promote confidence in the election results and that since he did not ultimately replace Rosen with another lawyer who promised to use the Justice Department to challenge the election—after the other leaders of the Justice Department threatened to resign in a mass protest—he did not actually abuse his office.

Boot writes, “It is mind-boggling that a defeated president won’t accept the election outcome…. What is even more alarming is that more than 60 percent of Republicans agree with his preposterous assertion that the election was stolen and want him to remain as the party’s leader.”

Taylor, Whitman, and Boot are hardly the first to be calling out the anti-democratic consolidation of the Republican Party. Yesterday, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, managed Trump’s first impeachment trial, and sits on the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, gave an interview to CBS’s Face the Nation in which he called the Republican Party “an autocratic cult around Donald Trump” that is “not interested in governing” or “maintaining the solvency of the country.”

But what makes today’s op-eds stand out is that they are from former Republicans, that they are calling not for a separate party but for Republicans to shift their votes to the Democrats, and that their identification of the Republicans as an existential threat to our democracy is being published in major newspapers.

Mainstream television and newspapers have been slow to identify the radicalization of the Republican Party as a threat to democracy. The Eastman memo, uncovered by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa at the end of September in their new book Peril, flew largely under the radar screen, explained away as more of Trump being Trump even as it laid out, in writing, the steps to overturn the 2020 election and even as we knew that the former president tried to put that plan into place. A study by Media Matters showed that ABC, NBC, and CBS all chose not even to mention the memo; they reach more than 20 million Americans.

On Saturday, a monologue by comedian Bill Maher about the Eastman memo titled “Slow Moving Coup” laid out in 8 minutes how Trump tried to steal the 2020 election and how, when officials resisted him, he set out to solidify his power for 2024. Maher woke people up to the ongoing crisis in our democracy.

Maher’s monologue, along with the draft Senate Judiciary Committee report, which sets out in detail the efforts the former president made to bend the Department of Justice to his will, seems to have driven home to members of the press the fact that they cannot present today’s news as business as usual, especially after their presentation of the debt ceiling crisis as a political horse race when one side was trying to save the country and the other to destroy it. In the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday, journalist Will Bunch wrote: “The future of American democracy depends, frankly, on whether journalists stop burying their head in ‘the work’ of balanced-but-misleading reporting and admit that, yes, actually, we are at war.”

Bunch pointed out that on Friday, the Nobel Peace Prize went to two journalists, Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia. Both have braved political persecution and threats to hold the autocratic leaders of their countries—Rodrigo Duterte and Vladimir Putin—to account, battling against the online disinformation and attacks on the press that shore up their support.

“In a battle for facts, in a battle for truth, journalism is activism,” Ressa said in 2020. Disinformation, she said, “is how you transform a democracy. This is death by a thousand cuts. The same thing is happening in the United States. I think the goal of influence operations or information operations is to seed it, repeat it, incite hate and…change the way real people think, and that impacts the real world. This is happening all around the world. That’s what the research has shown us, that’s what the data shows us.”

In 1854, the elite slaveholders who controlled the Democratic Party at the time pressured Congress to bow to their will and overturn the Missouri Compromise that had kept enslavement out of the western territories. Northern men, who disagreed among themselves on party allegiance, and immigration, and economic policies, and women’s rights, and Black rights, recognized that the acquisition of new western slave states would mean it was only a question of time until the enslavers took over the federal government and made their oligarchical system national.

Northern men recognized they must put their political differences aside until they saved democracy. Abraham Lincoln later remembered that men were “thunderstruck and stunned” by the passage of the law that overturned the Missouri Compromise, “and we reeled and fell in utter confusion. But we rose each fighting, grasping whatever he could first reach—a scythe—a pitchfork—a chopping axe, or a butcher’s cleaver…. “‘[O]ur drill, our dress, and our weapons, are not entirely perfect and uniform,” Lincoln said, but “[w]hen the storm shall be past, [men] shall find us still Americans; no less devoted to the continued Union and prosperity of the country than heretofore.”


Sunday, October 10, 2021

America is getting dumb ... and dumber by the minute

Opinion: How dumb can a nation get and still survive?

That’s the question posed by Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson.

T.S. Eliot wrote that the world ends "not with a bang but a whimper,” but I fear our great nation is careening toward a third manner of demise: descent into lip-blubbering, self-destructive idiocy.

How did we become, in such alarming measure, so dumb? Why is the news dominated by ridiculous controversies that should not be controversial at all? When did so many of our fellow citizens become full-blown nihilists who deny even the concept of objective reality? And how must this look to the rest of the world?

Read the headlines and try not to weep:


Our elected representatives in the U.S. Senate, which laughably calls itself “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” agreed Thursday not to wreck our economy and trigger a global recession — at least for a few weeks. Republicans had refused to raise the federal debt ceiling, or even to let Democrats do so quickly by simple majority vote. They relented only after needlessly unsettling an international financial system based on the U.S. dollar.

The frequent games of chicken that Congress plays over the debt ceiling are — to use a term of art I recall from Economics 101 — droolingly stupid. In the end, yes, we always agree to pay our obligations. But the credit rating of the planet’s greatest economic superpower has already been lowered because of this every-few-years ritual, and each time we stage the absurd melodrama, we risk a miscalculation that sends us over the fiscal cliff.

Today’s trench-warfare political tribalism makes that peril greater than ever. An intelligent and reasonable Congress would eliminate the debt ceiling once and for all. Our Congress is neither.

In other news, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) was speaking to a crowd of Republicans at a country club in his home state Saturday when he tried, gently, to boost South Carolina’s relatively low rate of vaccination against the coronavirus. He began, “If you haven’t had the vaccine, you ought to think about getting it because if you’re my age — ”

"No!” yelled many in the crowd.

Graham retreated — “I didn’t tell you to get it; you ought to think about it” — and then defended his own decision to get vaccinated. But still the crowd shouted him down. Seriously, people?

Covid–19 is a highly infectious disease that has killed more than 700,000 Americans over the past 20 months. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines all but guarantee that recipients will not die from covid. I have, or had, an acquaintance who refused to get vaccinated, despite pleas from his adult children to protect himself. He got covid–19, and it killed him. Most of the deaths the nation has suffered during the current delta-variant wave of the disease — deaths of the unvaccinated — have been similarly needless and senseless.

Covid–19 is a bipartisan killer. In the tribal-political sense, the safe and effective vaccines are a bipartisan miracle, developed under the Republican Trump administration and largely distributed under the Democratic Biden administration. People in most of the rest of the world realize, however, that vaccination is not political at all; it is a matter of life and death, and also a matter of how soon — if ever — we get to resume our normal lives.

Why would people not protect their own health and save their own lives? How is this anything but just plain stupid?

We are having other fights that are, unlike vaccination, partisan and political — but equally divorced from demonstrable fact.

Conservatives in state legislatures across the country are pushing legislation to halt the teaching of “critical race theory” in public schools. I put the term in quotes because genuine critical race theory, a dry and esoteric set of ideas debated in obscure academic journals, is not actually being taught in those schools at all. What’s being taught instead — and squelched — is American history, which happens to include slavery, Jim Crow repression and structural racism.

I get it. The GOP has become the party of White racial grievance, and this battle against an imaginary enemy stirs the base. But the whole charade involves Republican officials — many of them educated at the nation’s top schools — betting that their constituents are too dumb to know they’re being lied to. So far, the bet is paying off.

And then, of course, there’s the whole “stolen election” farce, which led to the tragedy of Jan. 6. Every recount, every court case, every verifiable fact proves that Joe Biden fairly defeated Donald Trump. Yet a sizeable portion of the American electorate either can’t do basic arithmetic or doesn’t believe that one plus one always equals two.

How dumb can a nation get and still survive? Idiotically, we seem determined to find out.


A dark prediction for 2024

Bill Maher makes a very “ dark prediction for the 2024 U.S. presidential election.”

Charlie Sykes (Bulwark) advises: “When you have time, you should watch this. You might not be a Maher fan, but he’s not wrong.”

Sunday, September 5, 2021

America isn’t a pretty picture.

New York Times Opinion columnist Maureen Dowd shows how we are Drowning Our Future in the Past.

One coast is burning. The other is under water. In between, anti-abortion vigilantes may soon rampage across gunslinging territory.

What has happened to this country?

Scriber recommends that you read the whole thing!

With thanks to our Editor-at-Large, Sherry.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

McCarthy threatens using a GOP House to punish private companies. That's just a start.

Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent looks ahead to a possible future containing a GOP House as Kevin McCarthy keeps revealing how ugly a GOP House would be.

Mark this down: If Republicans win the House in the 2022 elections, one of their very first acts in the majority will be to impeach President Biden for the offense of having won the 2020 election.

Okay, that’s a joke. But only partly. Republicans would not put it in those terms, of course, but that would be functionally what they are doing.

We’re now beginning to see just how ugly a House GOP takeover would be for the country. What is unmistakable is that a Republican House would be singularly devoted to using its power to avenge Donald Trump’s 2020 loss — and to whitewashing his efforts to overturn it in every way possible.

Case in point: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has now openly threatened to use a GOP-controlled House to punish private companies that comply with lawful subpoenas issued by the House select committee examining the Jan. 6 insurrection.

In an extraordinary statement, McCarthy lashed out at the select committee over its directive earlier this week that telecommunications and social media companies should preserve records that might be relevant to their investigation.

McCarthy said that if these companies turn over any information, they will be in violation of federal law, adding that “a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable.”

That is an explicit threat to use the “Republican majority” — his words — to punish compliance with congressional subpoenas that serve an investigation into an effort to overturn U.S. democracy through mob intimidation and violence.

It should be noted that the select committee hasn’t even issued any subpoenas along these lines. It has only directed the companies to preserve records in preparation for possible ones later.

What’s more, despite McCarthy’s lurid claims about potential lawbreaking by these companies, subpoenas targeting private entities are in fact routine in congressional investigations.

“These companies have a legal obligation to preserve the records,“ ethics expert Norman Eisen told me. ”The committee has the legal authority to get this critically important evidence.”

So McCarthy’s line is utterly bogus. But Democrats cannot stand by in the face of this naked effort to use the threat of a GOP majority to cripple an accounting into an effort to wield mob violence to thwart a legitimately elected government from taking over.

One option for Democrats would be to refer McCarthy’s threat to the House Ethics Committee, …

… Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.): “He’s telling the telecommunications companies to not honor a lawful subpoena, or there could be some penalty down the line.” Swalwell said a referral to the Justice Department should be considered.

… many House Republicans plainly think the underlying cause of the [Jan 6] rioters was righteous and just, even if they publicly condemn the violence itself. All this comes as Republicans are already pressuring McCarthy to prepare to impeach Biden on invented pretexts, showing that a GOP House would nakedly abuse its power to slake the Trump Rump’s desire for vengeance over 2020.

… McCarthy’s threat is really an effort to protect Republicans themselves from accountability. It’s also an effort to carry forward a coverup designed to preserve the myth that a virtuous set of motives undergirded the worst outbreak of U.S. political violence in recent times.

In that context, it’s easy to see how a House GOP majority could use its investigative powers in 2023 to exact retribution against companies that cooperate with the Jan. 6 investigation, even if Democrats still controlled the White House and Senate.

“We ought not to be desensitized to the horrifying implications of what the highest-ranking Republican in the House has suggested,” Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told me. “We ought to be universally condemning that kind of blatant extortion.”

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Vaccine Refusers Must Not Dictate Terms Anymore

Vaccine Refusers Don’t Get to Dictate Terms Anymore writes Juliette Kayyem in The Atlantic. Americans are entitled to make their own decisions, but their employers, health insurers, and fellow citizens are not required to accommodate them.

Why should I, among the vaccinated, pay the price for the recalcitrance, of anti-vaxxers? Read on.


The vaccinated have for too long carried the burden of the pandemic. In theory, unvaccinated people should be taking greater precautions. A recent poll conducted for the Associated Press found that vaccinated adults have been more likely than unvaccinated ones to wear masks in public settings, refrain from unnecessary travel, and avoid large group settings.

Public-health officials can keep trying to figure out ways to persuade the unvaccinated to get shots, and maybe at this late point they can still discover some new message that succeeds where all others have failed. If so, that would be fantastic. But begging is not a strategy. It is not a coincidence that many of the entities pushing hardest for mandatory vaccination are in industries—higher education, travel, entertainment—that have been badly disrupted by unpredictable waves of infection and are existentially threatened by a pandemic that goes on without end.

People in the crisis-management field have made peace with blanket one-size-fits-all policies that some individuals don’t like. When a ship is going down, passengers aren’t given the luxury of quibbling with the color or design of the life vest, and they can’t dither forever about whether to put one on or not. Emergencies invariably force people to make some choices that they might not consider ideal, but asking everyone to get vaccinated against a potentially lethal virus is not a big imposition. Ironically, by talking as if everyone, given enough time, will eventually choose the shot, public-health agencies may have understated the urgency of the matter and invited the vaccine-hesitant to dwell on the decision indefinitely.

Sorry. Time’s up.

The Biden administration could do even more to assist the communities and businesses that are trying to nudge unvaccinated people along. In 2021, paper cards that can easily be lost, damaged, or falsified are an outmoded way to keep track of who has gotten a shot. Even establishments that check their patrons’ vaccination status are doing so in makeshift ways—for instance, by asking patrons to show a driver’s license alongside a picture of their vaccination card on their phone. Some states are moving forward with their own vaccination-verification apps, but the failure to plan a national system will be viewed, in time, as a costly concession to a vocal minority.

Employers are being creative with some of their requirements, creating so-called leaky mandates. Rather than fire noncompliant employees, for example, Delta Air Lines opted for a financial penalty. This approach may make particular sense in industries where a rapid round of terminations will hurt a business’s ability to function. It also acknowledges the free will of vaccine refusers: They can keep rejecting the shot, as long as they accept the consequences.

Up to this point, many employers and medical providers—wary of offending anyone—have been careful to describe vaccination as a deeply personal decision. Vaccination mandates are essentially a recognition that vaccinated people have feelings too, and that the burden of fighting the pandemic shouldn’t be on them alone.

I know, I know: I should try harder to understand the feelings of unvaccinated Americans. Being more patient and empathetic would make me sound nicer. But do you know what’s really nice? Going back to school safely. Traveling without feeling vulnerable. Seeing a nation come back to life.

Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary for homeland security under President Barack Obama, is the faculty chair of the homeland-security program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She is the author of Security Mom: An Unclassified Guide to Protecting Our Homeland and Your Home.

With thanks to Charlie Sykes at The Bulwark.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

What you need to know about the Delta variant

Jonathon V. Last, Editor of The Bulwark tells us about Everything Delta. His report is based on a conversation between Bill Kristol and Ashish Jha.

Bill Kristol sat down to talk with Ashish Jha, who’s dean of public health at Brown. Their conversation is very much worth your time.

But there are a few bits I want to flag for you:

[T]he biggest thing about the Delta variant that I think has been a bit of surprise is just how contagious it is. It is way more contagious than any variant of this virus, and that really changes things. And it changes things in terms of how much population immunity you need. It changes things in terms of what the breakthrough infections are for the vaccinated… .

we are starting to see some data around the durability of the vaccines, at least as far as preventing breakthrough infections. And this is preliminary data from the UK, preliminary data from Israel, maybe a little data from the US, that as you get six, seven months out of vaccinations, you start seeing some more breakthrough infections, particularly in elderly people.

So what does it mean to say that the delta is “more contagious”?

So if you start with the original strain, the original Wuhan strain from last year, from 2019, 2020, the Alpha variant, which was the one originally from the UK, B117, that was a super contagious variant. If you remember back in March, April, we were like, “it’s a race between the variant and the vaccine.” We were trying to beat the Alpha variant. And that we thought was 50 to 70% more contagious than the original Wuhan strain.

This one is, and again, people have different numbers, kind of in the 60 to a hundred percent more contagious than the Alpha variant. All right, so what does that all mean? And how do you think about it? There are a couple of ways of thinking about it. One is, if you look at the amount of virus in the nose, throat of a patient with Delta variant, it’s about a thousand times more virus than what we saw with the previous strain. So it’s a lot more with a much higher viral load.

Another way people think about this is where the original Wuhan strain virus, the average person might have infected two or three people, about three people. The Alpha, we thought the average person infects four to five. The Delta variant now, the average person may be infecting six to eight. And if you think about exponential growth, 1, 3, 9, 27, 81, that’s pretty substantial growth. 1, 6, 36, three, four generations of spread and it’s massive, you just get to much higher numbers, much, much faster with the Delta variant.

Okay, so you combine the increased contagiousness of delta with the unexpected number of anti-vaxxers and what you get isn’t great. But the third piece here is the vaccines being slightly less durable than expected.

In general, the vaccines have performed better than initial expectations in just about every way, but the biggest unexpected bonus was the extent to which they cut down on transmission. The durability problem is the first time they haven’t overperformed. But whatever. If people need booster shots, that’s not the end of the world.

But when you add it all up, what does it look like going forward? Not great.

Three things—a much more contagious variant, fewer people vaccinated [than we hoped], and now some waning immunity—means this is a very different situation than we thought we were in a few months ago. This means the next few months are going to be pretty tough. A lot of Americans are going to get infected. A lot of vaccinated Americans are going to get infected. Most vaccinated Americans are going to do extremely well, the unvaccinated Americans are not going to do extremely well. And we’re in for a bumpy few months.

One last thing: Here’s Jha giving a pretty nice layman’s explanation for how being vaccinated works to help you avoid really bad outcomes with COVID:

the vaccine has, essentially think of it as, it’s an army, and it has two kind of main things. It has the antibodies, which are your active forces. They’re the ones that would protect you from getting infected. Then you have your reserves, the T-cells and the B-cells, and they kick in once an invasion has happened, once you’re infected.Three things—a much more contagious variant, fewer people vaccinated [than we hoped], and now some waning immunity—means this is a very different situation than we thought we were in a few months ago. This means the next few months are going to be pretty tough. A lot of Americans are going to get infected. A lot of vaccinated Americans are going to get infected. Most vaccinated Americans are going to do extremely well, the unvaccinated Americans are not going to do extremely well. And we’re in for a bumpy few months.

Your T-cells and B-cells are still doing fabulously well with the Delta variant, that’s why we’re not seeing a lot of hospitalizations and deaths among vaccinated people. But the problem is when the amount of virus that shows up is just much, much larger, because of this huge viral load, your antibodies can get a bit overwhelmed and that’s why we’re starting to see more breakthrough infections: you just don’t have enough antibodies and they do wane over time… .

So you’re having lunch with your friend indoors at a restaurant, your friend is unvaccinated and infected, what would your risks be if you were unvaccinated of picking up the virus from your friend, and then how much does the vaccine knock it down? And we think based on the best data that your vaccine knocks it down about 80, 90%, so that’s pretty good.

The problem is that when there’s very little infection in the community, it’s fabulous. But when you imagine that you’re having lunch with an infected friend every day, one of those times …

in May and June, I had lunch and dinner indoors with vaccinated friends several times and felt very comfortable doing so. And in the last 10 days, two weeks, when a friend reaches out for dinner, I’m like, “Let’s see if we can find an outdoor place to have dinner.” Not because I’m worried, because all my friends are all vaccinated, but I don’t know that I want to be in a packed restaurant where other people may be unvaccinated.

And here’s why, and this is really important, because people say, “Well, what’s the big deal?” I actually have had colleagues who’ve had breakthrough infections, and one of them had fevers for about three days, 103, felt pretty lousy. About a week later he was mostly back to normal, but just felt like he was kind of wiped out for a week.

And my thought was, “I don’t want that.” If I could avoid a week of my life being wiped out by an annoying viral infection, I don’t want that. So it’s not so much that I’m terrified that I’m going to die or get hospitalized. It’s easy enough to avoid and there’s a lot of Delta starting to spread the country, I think I’m going to stick with mostly being outdoors for a little while until this Delta surge subsides.

Be smart about this stuff.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Unless we as a nation act -- 'The unvaccinated will set the country on fire over and over again.'

On that theme, here is some of what Charlie Sykes wrote today in The Bulwark.

Responses should match circumstances. And in the last week, it has become obvious that the milder responses — including relying on the honor system — are no longer getting the job done. Daily coronavirus infections in the United States have climbed 145 percent in just the last two weeks.

Obviously, the surge requires a new strategy. Writing in the Wapo, Dr. Leana Wen writes that the federal government needs to “use this opportunity to — finally — incentivize vaccination.”

It could say that areas with high vaccine uptake do not need to reimplement mask mandates, and mandate vaccination on planes and trains and in federal buildings. And it can finally get behind a vaccine verification system that would allow restaurants, gyms, workplaces and universities to create safe, maskless environments where everyone is vaccinated.

One obvious starting place: mandating the vaccine for all health care workers.

Medical groups representing millions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health workers on Monday called for mandatory vaccinations of all U.S. health personnel against the coronavirus, framing the move as a moral imperative as new infections mount sharply.

[Tweets Kyle Griffin:] Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey on the rise in COVID cases in her state: “Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

Every infected person, anywhere in the world, offers the coronavirus another opportunity to morph into a new variant. The more infections there are globally, the more likely new variants will arise.

The United States will be vulnerable to every one of them until it can immunize millions of people who now refuse to get the vaccine, are still persuadable but hesitant, or have not yet gained access. The unvaccinated will set the country on fire over and over again.

Pelosi - 'This is about seeking the truth.'

Distinguished pol of the week: Someone finally put their foot down observes Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post.

And with thanks to Sherry, Scriber’s Editor-at-Large.


There were many outstanding figures worthy of recognition this past week. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Sen. Rand Paul during a hearing on Tuesday that the Kentucky Republican didn’t know what he was talking about when he accused the National Institutes of Health of funding research that resulted in the coronavirus pandemic. “And I want to say that officially,” Fauci declared to the amusement of many tired of the persistent Paul’s unfounded accusations and belly-aching about lifesaving pandemic restrictions.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Wednesday said what any honest observer should acknowledge: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), given his peddling of propaganda about Jan. 6, would be unfit to serve as speaker should the GOP win back the House. “The rhetoric we have heard from the minority leader is disingenuous. … At every opportunity, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened.” She added, “Any person who would be third in line to the presidency must demonstrate a commitment to the Constitution and a commitment to the rule of law, and Minority Leader McCarthy has not done that.”

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) outshone them all by deciding she would not allow two obstreperous Republicans to throw the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection into chaos. She accepted three of McCarthy’s appointees (one of whom voted against accepting the electoral count) but rejected Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) (infamous for shouting utter rubbish about Ukraine during the impeachment hearing) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) (who has absurdly tried to blame Democrats for the violence at the Capitol).

"As you know, well over 100 people were injured. Some died. It was a horrible, horrible thing. I’ll never forget the trauma it caused, not only for our members, but for our staff and for the people who work in the Capitol to make our work here possible,” Pelosi emotionally recounted at her Thursday news conference.

She offered a bipartisan commission to investigate the events. The Republicans in the Senate filibustered it. She offered a committee, but McCarthy offered two unhinged and unserious figures to serve on it. And even though she offered to keep his three remaining Republicans (and may appoint more Republicans), McCarthy withdrew all five in a huff.

Pelosi made clear she was in no mood to let the committee become a farce: “This is about seeking the truth.” She explained that given her “respect for the integrity of the investigation, with concern that the American people want to know the truth, and in light of statements and actions taken by them, I could not appoint them.” She added, “I said that while this may be unprecedented, so was an attack on the Capitol. I’m not going to spend any more time talking about them.”

Finally, someone is willing to put their foot down. Someone is refusing to let Republicans make a mockery of the House, of the investigation into the insurrection and of an assault on the Constitution. Republicans can try that routine on right-wing media, but not on a committee designed to hold people — perhaps some GOP members — responsible for an unprecedented, violent insurrection sparked by the disgraced former president and others.

Hopefully, the American people comprehend just how reckless, irresponsible and wildly dishonest the MAGA Republicans are. For defending the House, protecting the integrity of the committee and exposing McCarthy as a dangerous pawn in the former president’s attempt to undermine our democracy, we can say, well done, Madam Speaker.


Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Costs of the Anti-Vaxxers Among us

Trump Country Rejects Vaccines Despite Growing Delta Threat. President Biden missed a July 4 target for shots after politically conservative areas balked.

“There hasn’t been enough research done on it, and I’d rather take my chances with the virus than I would to get the vaccine. I trust my immune system,” [the niece] said in an interview. “If I get it, and it’s my time to die, then I get it and it’s my time to die.”

I, your Scriber, heard that one from one of the pickle ball players the other day.

Jonathon V. Last published this Bulwark piece in his “Triad” column today (July 22).

The Costs of Anti-Vaxxers

From CBS This Morning: “Many states are facing another surge of COVID–19 cases. David Begnaud spoke with a COVID–19 patient in a Louisiana hospital who says he won’t vaccinate because there are too many issues with the vaccine.”

The reporter asks this very fine, high-IQ citizen if, knowing what he knows now, he could go back in time to take the vaccine and avoid getting sick, being hospitalized, and almost dying—would he get the vaccine?

Dude does not even hesitate for a second.

Hearing that, I wondered: Who is paying for the costs of his hospitalization? I hope he has health insurance. And if he does, he’ll pay some out-of-pocket minimum to meet his deductible. Then the insurer will reach a negotiated settlement with the hospital. And then, next year, the insurance company will pass on the costs of that large payment to the rest of its customers.

The people in the insurance pool who got the vaccine will pick up the tab for the treatment of the people who got sick after refusing to get the vaccine.

That’s conservative, rugged individualism, circa 2021.

And it’s a pretty sweet deal, too. You can make whatever damn fool choices you want, and someone else—the hospital, your insurance company, your neighbors paying into the insurance pool—will pick up the tab.

Why would these people ever change?

Why, indeed?

Sunday, July 4, 2021

The storm might be here.

This is a must-read - if you care about the dangers to our democracy being manufactured hourly by Trumpist hoodlums. You will see why that label includes the ex-president and the right-wing members of congress.

Luke Mogelson chronicled the Jan 6 insurrection for the New Yorker in Among the Insurrectionists The Capitol was breached by Trump supporters who had been declaring, at rally after rally, that they would go to violent lengths to keep the President in power. A chronicle of an attack foretold.

For example:

… When Chris Krebs, a Trump appointee in charge of national cybersecurity, deemed the election “the most secure in American history,” the President fired him. Joe diGenova, Trump’s attorney, then said that Krebs “should be drawn and quartered—taken out at dawn and shot.”

Published in the print edition of the January 25, 2021, issue, with the headline “The Storm.”

Saturday, July 3, 2021

An In-Depth Look at How a Mob Stormed the Capitol

The New York Times has published an investigatory video about the Jan 6 capitol riot. This is a must view!

NY Times reports on the Day of Rage: An In-Depth Look at How a Mob Stormed the Capitol. A six-month Times investigation has synchronized and mapped out thousands of videos and police radio communications from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, providing the most complete picture to date of what happened — and why.

Here is the link:

A Republican Senator who told the truth about the election

Tim Alberta, in The Atlantic, reports on The (Republican) Senator Who Decided to Tell the Truth. A Michigan Republican spent eight months searching for evidence of election fraud, but all he found was lies.

Thanks to Scriber’s Editor-at-Large (Sherry). Snippets follow.

… a Republican state senator who chairs the [Michigan state] Oversight Committee, had released a report detailing his eight-month-long investigation into the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

"Our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan,” [Ed] McBroom wrote in the report. “There is no evidence presented at this time to prove either significant acts of fraud or that an organized, wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters.”

For good measure, McBroom added: “The Committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.”

A little while earlier, when discussing the scourge of social media, Ed McBroom joked about quitting Facebook to keep his sanity. Then he rattled off the incoming fire he’s been dealing with daily—not just social-media posts and messages, but angry emails and texts from random numbers. Some people accuse him of being in league with Biden; others claim that China bought him off. Occasionally the screeds get nasty and downright threatening, though he said the most disturbing communications of that nature are delivered in middle-of-the-night phone calls. The senator knows that people can locate his farm easily enough, and worries about being gone so much during the week, leaving Sarah and Susan alone with the 13 children. (Both women, he noted, are trained and highly qualified to operate the collection of rifles that hung in a cabinet behind us.)

Still, whatever fleeting dread he feels about personal backlash is diminished by his concern for the country’s sudden epistemological crisis. Not long ago, McBroom said, he would have defaulted to dismissing any notions of mass societal irrationality. He is not dismissive anymore. He sees large portions of the voting public rejecting the basic tenets of civic education and sequestering into “this alternate world” of social media. He hears from constituents about “enemies” on the other side of political disputes and a looming civil conflict to resolve them. And he wonders, as an amateur historian, whether the “very real trouble” we’re in can be escaped.

"It’s easy to look at the current status of American culture, American politics, the American church, and be really apoplectic right now. It’s very easy to give in to that sense of panic,” McBroom told me. “But we go through different cycles in this country. I’m hoping we’re in a cycle of riots and demonstrations on and off, [and not] the cycle where we end up in civil war. I’ve encountered some folks who are like, ‘Maybe it’s time to rise up’—you know, ‘refreshing the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots,’ that stuff. And I say to them, ‘Are you seriously going to go looking for people with biden signs in their yards? I mean, is that what you’re going to do? Make a list? Is this what this is coming to? You’re ready to go out and fight your neighbors? Because I don’t think you really are. I think you’re talking stupid.’”

McBroom closed his eyes and took a heavy breath. “These are good people, and they’re being lied to, and they’re believing the lies,” he said. “And it’s really dangerous.”

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Trump regarded by historians as near the bottom of US presidents. In the new study Obama ranked near the top

Scriber’s Editor-at-Large Sherry calls our attention to a USA Today report:

Historians rank Trump near the bottom of U.S. presidents as Obama rises into the top 10. Historians ranked Donald Trump lowest of any president in 150 years, but he remains the GOP’s most influential figure and a possible 2024 candidate.

More snippets from the report:

Abraham Lincoln has been ranked at the top of the list in each of the four surveys. George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt have also been steadily among the top five. Dwight Eisenhower was ranked fifth this year and in 2017.

The lowest ranking president is James Buchanan, Lincoln’s predecessor, whose divisive tenure helped precipitate the Civil War.

Among other modern presidents, Barack Obama has risen to No. 10, compared with No. 12 in the last C-SPAN historians’ survey, in 2017. Ronald Reagan is ranked at No. 9; Bill Clinton at No. 19; George H.W. Bush at No. 21, and George W. Bush at No. 29.

Richard Nixon, the only president forced to resign the office amid scandal, is rated No. 31.

That last one is interesting. Trump (rank 41) is rated as worse than Nixon. Now that is one hell of an accomplishment.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Trump vs. America's lawyers - including William Barr

George T. Conway III, Washington Post Contributing columnist, thinks that America owes thanks to Trump’s lawyers — even William Barr.


Donald Trump could never really count on the lawyers.

No matter how many cynical or craven congressmen, toadying aides, grifting consultants, unhinged activists, disinforming talking heads and deluded cultists he may have had, Trump still needed the lawyers. He needed serious members of the bar to provide at least some semblance of a legal justification for his attempted self-coup.

They never did.

Nearly six months after Jan. 6, as Trump’s private business stands on the verge of indictment, we’ve been learning more about how lawyers stood in the way of his attempt to commit the ultimate abuse of public trust during his final days in office.

The latest revelations involve former attorney general William P. Barr. An excerpt from a forthcoming book by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl describes what Barr thought about the 45th president’s claims of electoral fraud: “It was all bulls—t.“ The Justice Department “realized from the beginning it was just bulls—.” No legal term, English or Latin, fits better than that.

Barr shared a similar assessment with Trump at the White House on Dec. 1, 2020, Karl reports. You’ve shown no fraud, Barr explained, and yet “your people keep on shoveling this s— out.”

Barr’s opposition left Trump enraged. One attendee described the president as having “the eyes and mannerism of a madman.” The book reports that the “livid” president responded by saying, “You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump.”

To be sure, Barr’s rectitude that day doesn’t excuse his earlier kowtowing to Trump or his politicization of the Justice Department. And what Barr had done to precipitate his confrontation with Trump — issuing a bombshell public statement that the Justice Department had found no significant electoral fraud — didn’t exactly arise from high-minded motive: Karl reports that then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had prevailed upon Barr to make the announcement, fearing that Trump’s campaign to overturn the presidential election would cost their party the Senate.

But make no mistake: Barr, in Karl’s telling, did the right thing by refusing to treat Trump’s fraud claims as anything other than what he believed them to be: factual and legal manure.

And after Barr had resigned in the wake of that fiery confrontation, the remaining political appointees at the Justice Department similarly stood up to Trump. Barr’s successor, then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen, steadfastly refused Trump’s demand that the department seek to overturn the election.

Rosen did that despite knowing that the president might replace him with Jeffrey Clark, an official who was apparently eager to do Trump’s bidding. The remaining members of the Justice Department’s senior leadership likewise stood firm. They entered into a bureaucratic suicide pact by which they would all resign if Rosen were fired.

Emails recently unearthed by a congressional investigation show that Trump and his White House relentlessly urged these senior Justice Department officials to put Trump’s interests over the nation’s, and to follow Trump’s desires over the rule of law. They balked — and succeeded in running out the clock on Trump’s mendacious claims and his term of office.

Not attempting to destroy constitutional democracy would seem to be a low standard for members of the bar. And it is. But the importance of these lawyers’ refusals to behave lawlessly in the waning days of Trump’s presidency can’t be overstated.

As Barr put it at the White House with Trump on Dec. 1, according to Karl, “No self-respecting lawyer” would go “anywhere near” the president’s meritless claims. He was right: A number of lawyers quit their representation of Trump’s campaign as the absurdity of his claims became clear.

Their assessment was upheld by Trump-appointed judges, who in turn dealt scathing decisional blows to Trump’s electoral-fraud litigation charade. Those jurists included Stephanos Bibas, an appellate court appointee from Pennsylvania who emphatically affirmed that “democracy depends on counting all lawful votes promptly and finally not setting them aside without weighty proof.”

Precisely because good lawyers couldn’t fathom Trump’s false claims of fraud, Trump was left with what Barr aptly called a “clown show” of a legal effort — the clown show led by Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani got his well-earned due last week. His ceaseless public lying in support of Trump led a New York court to suspend his license to practice law because his conduct had undermined “the profession’s role as a crucial source of reliable information.”

The lawyers of the Trump era weren’t perfect — far from it — but Americans should still be grateful there were more Rosens than Giulianis. Even Barr deserves some credit.

And for that, in the end, we owe the essential culture of America’s legal profession. As exemplified by the decision suspending Giuliani, that culture, at its best, seeks to vindicate factual truth and the rule of law — values entirely anathematic to Trump. Which is why the lawyers could never really be on his side.


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

What is wrong with US Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

She does seem to line up more with GOPlins than with the political party that put her in the Senate. Is she just being Sinematic or does she really bellieve the fountain of crap she spouts?

Kyrsten Sinema Doesn’t Give a Fuck. Does Her Party? The senator from Arizona is willing to let Republicans demolish democracy so long as she can claim she’s being “bipartisan” by doing that.

Molly Jong-Fast, Beast Editor-At-Large, has some fiery observations about what Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is doing.

Democrats find themselves on a sticky wicket. They now control the presidency, the House and the Senate, and have a chance to protect voting rights. But Republicans seem unified and emboldened by defeat to fight tooth and nail against democracy itself.

The Brennan Center is tracking some “389 bills with restrictive provisions in 48 states” at a time when, according to Pew, “just 28% of Republicans and Republican leaners say everything possible should be done to make voting easy.” More than 50 percent of Republicans believe the Big Lie that the last election was stolen from their orange idol.

So it’s up to Democrats to save democracy, but they don’t seem to be in control of their own party or up to the challenge, as we saw Tuesday when the “For the People Act” fell predictably short in the Senate. One big reason why is Sen. Joe Manchin, who actually voted to advance the bill but who has steadfastly opposed ending the filibuster, which means it stands no chance without the support of 10 sane Republicans, and there are not 10 sane Republicans to back it or, likely, to back his slimmed-down alternative.

But Manchin at least has an excuse for his defense of the filibuster that ensured the voting rights bill fell short, and that the rest of the party’s agenda will as well: He is the only Democrat who could possibly hold on in West Virginia, a state where Trump won 68.6 percent of the vote in 2020. His partner in partisan pettifoggery, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, has no excuse at all for her defense of the filibuster.

She tried to provide one in an opinion piece in The Washington Post, an essay in defense of the filibuster. But the filibuster is largely indefensible. According to Sinema, “The best way to achieve durable, lasting results? Bipartisan cooperation” since, she argues, bills that are passed on a party line vote will be reversed when Republicans come back into power. Of course, this wasn’t true for Obamacare, nor was it true earlier this year when Democrats passed the American Rescue Act, which soon became so popular that Republicans tried to take credit for it, pretending they had supported it all along.

GOP voters pretty much agree with Democratic Senators about infrastructure and voting rights. But GOP Senators are completely uninterested in what their voters want. Like Groucho Marx, whatever it is, they’re against it.

It’s a real MAGA moment, as Sinema pretends that she’s living in a pre-Trump world, even as her defense of bipartisanship is oddly Trumpian in her hostility towards the media with her dig about how “bipartisanship seems outdated to many pundits.” But it’s not that her fellow Democrats are against bipartisanship—it’s that Republicans are no longer even pretending to negotiate in good faith.

Maybe Sinema missed what happened on Jan. 6, when Trump supporters violently tried to overturn the election and hang Mike Pence, and even after that eight of her fellow senators voted to overturn a free and fair election because it didn’t go their way. These people have no interest in bipartisanship; they don’t even want democracy anymore.

Ultimately Sinema argues that she doesn’t support getting rid of the filibuster because the filibuster protects democracy as “Instability, partisanship and tribalism continue to infect our politics. The solution, however, is not to continue weakening our democracy’s guardrails.”

It’s a pretty amazing statement considering the precarious state our democracy is in. The guardrails are already real fucking weak. Democrats are trying to pass the For the People Act to repair them while there’s still time, and as the other party is working extremely hard to undermine democracy with countless state bills doing everything from making it illegal to bring voters water to making it so that partisans can overturn results they don’t like.

What do I think? Perhaps Sinema is taking a line from the Melania Trump book of favorites: I really don’t care, do u?

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

crAZy's Fraudit is 'insane'

‘This is insane’: GOP Arizona county official slams election ‘audit’
Republican Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer says the so-called forensic audit of the 2020 presidential election occurring in his county is “insane just from a competence standpoint.”

Read Anderson Cooper’s interview in CNN Politics:

Shared by Sherry Moreau.

Monday, June 21, 2021

What Sinema has wrong about the filibuster

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) explains how Sinema’s case against the filibuster isn’t getting any better. To hear Kyrsten Sinema tell it, leaving filibuster rules alone is what’s “best for our democracy.” That’s a difficult pitch to take seriously.


It is no secret that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is one of the shrinking number of Senate Democrats fiercely opposed to reforming the institution’s filibuster rules. It’s also no secret that the Arizonan is under considerable pressure to reconsider, especially with filibuster abuses standing in the way of voting-rights legislation.

But as the debate continues to unfold, Sinema continues to make the case that she’s right and those pressuring her from the left are wrong. The trouble is, her case just isn’t very good.

In April, the centrist Democratic senator said, rather than restoring the institution’s majority-rule traditions, members should simply “change their behavior.” And if Republicans’ “behavior” doesn’t change? Well, then the legislative process will remain sclerotic, Americans seeking policy solutions will go without, and abuses in the Senate will continue indefinitely.

For that matter, it’s curious for someone whose literal job it is to write laws to argue that rule changes are a poor substitute for asking people to simply do the right thing.

When this taking point didn’t prove persuasive, Sinema also said that the filibuster “was created as a tool to bring together members of different parties to find compromise.” Senators are certainly entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to just make up historical details that don’t exist – and the Arizonan’s argument about how the filibuster was created was just spectacularly and demonstrably untrue.

Now, the Senate Democrat is trying a slightly different tack:

Sinema’s office told NBC News her support for the filibuster is “not based on the importance of any particular policy,” but rather “based on what is best for our democracy, including the fact that the filibuster helps protect the country from wild swings back and forth between opposing policy poles.”

Let’s take those one at a time.

First, there’s no reason to assume a majority-rule Senate will necessarily produce wild policy swings. Not only is this at odds with what history shows us – remember, filibuster abuses are a fairly modern phenomenon – but both parties have recently struggled to put together 50 votes for major partisan priorities, reinforcing the kind of challenges associated with dramatic governing changes. Consider what happened, for example, when Republicans tried to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

Besides, the power should remain in voters’ hands. If they elect policymakers who go too far with “wild” policy swings, voters in the next election cycle can elect new officials to do the opposite.

Second, there’s Sinema’s suggestion that mandatory super-majorities for nearly all legislation is what’s “best for our democracy.”

Perhaps “democracy” wasn’t the best choice of words in this pitch.

Americans can elect one party to lead the White House, the Senate, and the House, with polls showing robust public support for that party’s legislative agenda. But thanks to filibuster abuses, that party won’t be able to pursue its own governing vision unless some members of the Senate minority agree to let them.

Jon Chait added this morning that in the current Senate, “New laws require 60 votes, but existing programs can be defunded with 51. Judges, who can be appointed with a mere 51 votes, can strike down laws that required 60 to pass.”

How in the world is this what’s “best for our democracy”?

The Senate was not designed to work this way. It traditionally didn’t even try to work this way. Given the status quo, it obviously doesn’t work this way. (Sinema herself has said the chamber appears “broken.”)

Suggesting that democracy, of all things, benefits from ongoing procedural abuses that makes legislating so difficult is a mistake.


Covid-19 pandemic triggered fundamental economic shifts

Here is a link to a longish article about what we can expect over the next few years (or longer).

The economy isn’t going back to February 2020. Fundamental shifts have occurred. A new era has arrived of greater worker power, higher housing costs and very different ways of doing business writes Heather Long in the Washington Post.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

How modern science and engineering produced the mRNA covid vaccine - and what is next for modern medicine.

Take time to read this one! Inside Pfizer’s race to produce the world’s biggest supply of covid vaccine.

At the Washington Post Christopher Rowland tells the story of how “Pfizer engineers used a ‘bulldozer’ approach to go from ‘utter failure’ to 3 billion doses.”

Here is the short version of two miracles of science and engineering and the high stakes for modern medicine.

After the “miracle of science” to develop the mRNA vaccine, [President Joe] Biden said, the Pfizer accomplishments in Kalamazoo were “a second miracle — a miracle of manufacturing — to produce hundreds of millions of doses.”

Pfizer and other companies are building mRNA vaccine pipelines for influenza, HIV, tuberculosis, rabies, rotavirus, malaria, and Zika, according to an analysis by the investment advisory firm Berenberg Capital Markets. BioNTech and Moderna are conducting extensive work on the use of mRNA against cancer.

Katie Hobbs in the Washington Post - 'Democracy Is Under Siege'

AZ Secretary of State Katie Hobbs wrote this op-ed: I’m leading the fight for voting rights in Arizona. We need the Senate to step up, now. Here it is in full, reprinted from the Washington Post.


PHOENIX — Democracy is under siege in Arizona. As part of the “big lie” that Republicans have been pushing about electoral fraud, they’re conducting an “audit” in our largest county, Maricopa, to dig up nonexistent evidence. It’s an absurd spectacle. The proliferation of conspiracy theories is staggering: ballots are being disqualified because of Sharpies; ballots were shipped in from China; ballots were burned in a chicken-farm fire.

My office won a court order to send impartial observers to the audit, and I try to keep the public informed about its dangers. For insisting on straightforward truths, I and my family have received death threats. Armed protesters have shown up at my home. Twice, I’ve been assigned a security detail to protect me.

Most Arizonans — Democrats, Republicans and independents — understand that the audit is a farce. They saw the 2020 election with their own eyes, and they don’t want their ballots scrutinized by a shadowy, partisan company.

But Republicans aren’t just protesting the results of our most recent presidential election; they are laying the groundwork to steal the next one. They are sowing doubt about our electoral process to justify a crackdown on voting rights: The 2020 election was insecure, they say, and so our next election must be airtight. This twisted logic has propelled voter-suppression laws across the country, in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and other states.

Here, Republicans just got rid of one of Arizona’s most effective voting measures: the Permanent Early Voter List. Previously, anyone who signed up for the list would automatically receive a mail-in ballot at their home for each election they are eligible to vote in. This law, enacted by a Republican-controlled state legislature in 2007, is hugely popular: Some 75 percent of eligible voters relied on the list to receive their mail-in ballots in 2020, and nearly 80 percent decided to vote by mail.

Last month, though, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed legislation that removes people from the list if they do not vote by mail in two election cycles — even if they choose to vote by other methods. This subtle adjustment — changing the Permanent Early Voter List to the Active Early Voter List — could prevent more than 100,000 Arizonans from receiving their ballots. And Republicans will not stop there. Several other bills, each designed to further restrict access to voting, are under consideration in the Arizona legislature.

I am working with our legislators to defeat those bills, many of which are designed to depress turnout of minority and lower-income voters. But with Republicans in control of both chambers of our legislature, my options on a state level are limited. So I am sounding the alarm and appealing to my Democratic colleagues in Washington for help.

The U.S. Senate is currently considering two voting rights bills. One, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would prevent states from passing further measures to restrict ballot access that disproportionately target minority voters. But that legislation would do nothing to roll back anti-voting laws that are already on the books. Republicans have instituted 22 voter-suppression laws in 14 states so far this year. To simply let these regressive measures stand would be to abandon our duty as public officials.

Another federal bill, the For the People Act, would strike down the senseless restrictions that Republicans have rushed to impose. What’s more, the bill includes many long overdue, common-sense ideas that would expand voting rights such as automatic national voter registration. Passing these provisions would be a huge victory — not for Democrats specifically but for democracy.

Yet the For the People Act is in jeopardy because 50 Republican senators and several Democratic ones are not taking the steps needed to pass it. Democrats including Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona either do not support the bill or refuse to touch the filibuster — an arcane Senate rule that has often been used to block voting rights — in order to bring the bill to a vote.

Sinema and I serve the same state. We both know that if we do nothing now, Arizonans’ access to the ballot will be stripped away by Republican legislators. If Republicans want to make the right to vote a partisan issue, that’s their problem. I know — and I believe that U.S. senators know, too — that access to the ballot isn’t a red or blue policy but a basic American value.

Voter-suppression efforts in Arizona are part of a nationwide dismantling of voting rights — the most sustained and egregious assault on U.S. democracy since the Jim Crow era. I am taking what steps I can to fight back on a local level. But I cannot succeed without help from Congress. Please, act decisively and pass the For the People Act. We are running out of time.


Research reports - Vaccines are effective against the 'delta variant' of COVID-19

Regarding the COVID–19 from the Washington Post: Your questions, answered

“Are current vaccines effective against the delta variant of covid 19?” — Colleen in Ohio

Yes, coronavirus vaccines have been shown to be effective against the highly transmissible delta variant.

Following are summaries of supporting research from the Post.


The delta variant, which has been listed as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, was first seen in India and has since been reported in dozens of other countries. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, recently told reporters that the delta variant, also known as B.1.617, is “essentially taking over as the dominant variant” in the United Kingdom. But he said vaccines seem to be slowing the variant’s spread in the United States, where it currently accounts for some 6 percent of new infections.

Fauci said the two-dose messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are doing “very well” in being able to protect against the variant. He said Johnson & Johnson’s single shot is likely doing well too, but there is not as much data as with the mRNA vaccines.

Some early research has shown that vaccination was somewhat less effective against the delta variant.

However, a preprint released last month by Public Health England showed that when the vaccines series were completed, the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were highly effective against B.1.617.2, the delta sub-variant that’s in Britain.

The vaccines were 33 percent effective against symptomatic infection from the delta variant after the first dose. But after the second dose, the Pfizer vaccine was 88 percent effective and the AstraZeneca vaccine, an adenovirus-vectored vaccine, was 60 percent effective, according to the findings.

“We expect the vaccines to be even more effective at preventing hospitalization and death,” said Mary Ramsay, who is head of immunization at Public Health England, “so it is vital to get both doses to gain maximum protection against all existing and emerging variants.”


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Arizona Fraudit shows that Trump's attempted coup is not yet over

Writing in The Bulwark, Tim Miller advises us to Get Ready for the Shitstorm That Will Follow the Arizona “Recount”. Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy’s plan for Arizona is the same as it was before January 6. Following is Miller’s conclusion.

Sometime soon the results of the Arizona audit will be brought forth. It seems quite likely, given the participants, that the auditor ninjas will claim that Donald Trump won Arizona. Or probably won Arizona—who can say! Or would have won Arizona, if not for those meddling kids.

And if this happens, the former president and his MAGA media echo chamber will once again stoke the flames of insurrection. Q-adherents will convince themselves that one of the seven seals has been revealed. Millions (tens of millions) of Republicans throughout the country will believe it. And some of them will demand action.

So when the Arizona audit bell tolls, what exactly is McConnell and McCarthy’s plan?

Because it sure looks as though they are dooming us all to repeat the same history we just lived through, humoring Trump’s delusions and hoping that none of their supporters die in their imaginary fight for freedom this time.

What we're all getting wrong

What we’re all getting wrong writes Steve Schmidt from The Lincoln Project (via email).

“Everyone is still making an assumption that there are these two parties…but that’s not the fight we’re in … There is no bipartisanship anymore.”


We’re all getting this wrong, … , and I wanted to make sure you saw my note from yesterday. It’s too important to miss.

You have probably heard by now that it is very unlikely that HR1, the federal bill to protect voting rights, has any chance of passing the Senate. Joe Manchin is unwilling to get rid of the filibuster because he is still hopeful of a bipartisan solution.

This is not to blame Joe Manchin personally. But it’s clear that he, too many of his colleagues, and too many in the media have read the situation completely wrong.

There is no bipartisanship anymore. The GOP of old - and the idea that both parties come together and negotiate to get things done - is dead. It doesn’t exist anymore.

Matthew Dowd called it the GOP’s “black mold problem” and made it clear: you do not negotiate with black mold. You have to rip out everything it touched and rebuild. And if you deny it exists…and breathe it in…it makes you sick.

What we all have to realize is that we are falling into a trap. The media, Democratic leadership, former Republican leaders - we are mistakenly believing this is still a two party system, and we’re missing the point.

Everyone is still making an assumption that there are these two parties…but that’s not the fight we’re in. There is only the Democratic Party, and on the other side is an authoritarian movement fueled by Donald Trump. That movement has grown to hold so much power in what used to be the Republican party that it has purged former leaders and left them fearful for the future.

So when we mistakenly think “bipartisanship” is the solution, who are we negotiating with? Either those held hostage by the black mold - or the hostage takers. Neither is a tenable solution for our democracy.

This is no longer a choice between two parties. You’re either part of the authoritarian movement and support their treasonous activities or you are against it. This is what we are tasked to do. You, me, the Lincoln Project, and every American who wants to stand up for our democracy.

And it’s also important to remember that many of our fellow citizens have been lied to. And they believe those lies. But those people, they are not the enemy. In order to help them overcome this and wake up to what is happening, we need to offer those people the truth.

This is no longer a political fight. It is an existential threat to the future of our democracy.

Our role in this is simple. We need to deliver the truth to the people who have been lied to. And every time that someone uses bipartisanship as a reason to negotiate with the black mold, we have to call it out. We need to make every American realize what the stakes are not just next November, but every time someone repeats the Big Lie or cries bipartisanship.

The truth matters.

The more that Marjorie Taylor Green takes the mic and shows the rot in a Republican party fully co-opted by Trump, she proves it is in fact now a movement of autocrats who seek to destroy democracy.

This is bigger than Trump. This autocratic movement will not implode while we stand by and wait. We have to take action now because it is much larger than that. If these people regain the House and the Senate, how much further do you think they’ll go?

We have to stop the spread and we can’t do it alone. Talk to your neighbors. Reach out in your community. We have to start having these conversations before it’s too late.