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Category Archives: Dirty side of Politics

‘The stupidity, it burns’: Charlie Sykes warns Tennessee expulsions will hurt GOP everywhere

Story by Travis Gettys • Yesterday 6:08 AM

Tennessee Republicans voted to expel two Black lawmakers \– but not a white Democratic woman — for a protest on the statehouse floor, and conservative Charlie Sykes denounced the move as “political malpractice.”

The GOP supermajority expelled Democratic state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, while an attempt to expel state Rep. Gloria Johnson failed by one vote, and Sykes condemned the partisan stunt as “vindictive retaliation.”

“My problem with this whole story is the stupidity, it burns,” Sykes said. “What were the Republicans in Tennessee hoping to accomplish here? They look horrible. They have made superstars out of the Tennessee three. These are three extraordinarily impressive and eloquent figures that you never would have heard of if it weren’t for this vindictive retaliation by the Republicans, who decided, ‘We have a supermajority and we can do this.'”

He said state legislatures in other Republican-dominated states could be emboldened to undertake similar moves.

“Of course, that’s the same story in Wisconsin, where the Republicans have a supermajority and why they’re quietly talking about, ‘Hey, we could impeach liberal Supreme Court justices if they make rulings we don’t like,'” Sykes said. “Legislators I talked to say, ‘We’re not going to do that, it would be chaotic, futile and stupid.'”

However, former president Donald Trump has been pressuring Republicans to punish his enemies, and that seems to be what the GOP base wants.

“We’ve seen this pattern before, where the base demands this kind of action all you need is one tweet or bleat out of Mar-a-Lago where Donald Trump says, ‘Why aren’t the RINOs in Wisconsin expelling members of the legislature? Why aren’t they impeaching justices?'” Sykes said. “What happens they cave in this story out of Tennessee is extraordinary to me because it is such a case of political malpractice.”


Heather Cox Richardson

5 hr ago

On Saturday, April 1, the emergency measures Congress put in place to extend medical coverage at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic expired. This means that states can end Medicaid coverage for people who do not meet the pre-pandemic eligibility requirements, which are based primarily on income. As many as 15 million of the 85 million people covered by Medicaid could lose coverage, although most will be eligible for other coverage either through employers or through the Affordable Care Act. The 383,000 who will fall through the cracks are in the 10 states that have refused to expand Medicaid. 

The pandemic prompted the United States to reverse 40 years of cutbacks to the social safety net. These cuts were prescribed by Republican politicians who argued that concentrating money upward would promote economic growth by enabling private investment in the economy. That “supply side” economic policy, they said, would expand the economy so effectively that everyone would prosper. In 2017, Republicans passed yet another tax cut, primarily for the wealthy and for corporations, to advance this policy.

As the economy fell apart during the coronavirus pandemic, though, it was clear the government must do something to shore up the tattered social safety net, and even Republicans got on board fast. On March 6, 2020, Trump signed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, allocating $8.3 billion to fund vaccine research and give money to states and local governments to try to stop the spread of the virus. On March 18, he signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provided food assistance, sick leave, $1 billion in unemployment insurance, and Covid testing. On the same day, the Federal Housing Administration put moratoriums on foreclosure and eviction for people with government-backed loans.

On March 27, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), which appropriated $2.3 trillion, including $500 billion for companies, $349 billion for small businesses, $175 billion for hospitals, $150 billion to state and local government, $30.75 billion for schools and universities, individual one-time cash payments, and expanded unemployment benefits.

Trump signed another stimulus package on April 24, 2020, which appropriated another $484 billion. And on December 27, 2020, he signed another $900 billion stimulus and relief package.

When he took office, President Joe Biden promised to rebuild the American middle class. He and the Democratic Congress began to shift the government’s investment from shoring up the social safety net to repairing the economy. On March 19, 2021, he signed the American Rescue Plan into law, putting $1.9 trillion behind economic stimulus and relief proposals.

Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Law, also known as the Bipartisan infrastructure Act, on November 15, 2021, putting $1.2 trillion into so-called hard infrastructure projects: roads and bridges and broadband. 

On August 9, 2022, he signed the CHIPS and Science Act, putting about $280 billion in new funding behind scientific research and the manufacturing of semiconductors. And days later, on August 16, Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Law, putting billions behind addressing climate change and energy security while also raising money to pay for new policies and to reduce the deficit by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, funding the Internal Revenue Service to stop cheating, and permitting Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices.

This dramatic investment in the demand side, rather than the supply side, of the economy helped to spark record inflation, compounded by supply chain issues that created shortages and encouraged price gouging. To combat that inflation, the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates. Numbers released Friday show that inflation cooled in February, suggesting that the Federal Reserve is seeing the downward trend it has been hoping for, although there is concern that the sudden decision of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) this weekend to slash production of crude oil might drive the price of oil back up, dragging prices with it. 

That investment in the demand side of the economy also meant that the child poverty rate in the U.S. fell almost 30%, while food insufficiency fell by 26% in households that received the expanded child tax credit. The U.S. economy recovered faster than that of any other G7 nation after the worst of the pandemic. Wages for low-paid workers grew at their fastest rate in 40 years, with real income growing by 9%. MIddle-income workers’ wages grew by only between 2.4% and 3.9% after inflation, but that, too, was the biggest jump in 40 years. Unemployment has fallen to its lowest level since 1969, and a record 10 million people have applied to start small businesses.

This public investment in the economy has attracted billions in private-sector investment—chipmakers have planned almost $200 billion of investments in 17 states—while it has also pressured certain companies to act in the public interest: the three major insulin producers in the U.S., making up 90% of the market, have all capped prices at $35 a month.  

As the economy begins to smooth out, Biden and members of his administration are touting the benefits of investing in the economy “from the bottom up and the middle out.” They have emphasized that they are working to support unions and the rights of consumers, taking on “junk fees,” noncompete agreements, and nondisparagement clauses. After the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank, the administration has suggested that deregulation of banking institutions went too far, and Biden has continued to push increased support for child care and health care. 

A recent Associated Press–NORC poll shows that while 60% of Americans say the federal government spends too much money, they actually want increased investment in specific programs: 65% want more on education (12% want less); 63% want more on health care (16% want less); 62% want more on Social Security (7% want less); 58% want more spending on Medicare (10% want less); 53% want more on border security (23% want less); and 35% want more spending on the military (29% want less). 

This puts the political parties in an odd spot. A week ago, Biden and members of the administration began barnstorming the country to highlight how their policy of “Investing in America” has been building the economy: “unleashing a manufacturing boom, helping rebuild our infrastructure and bring back supply chains, lowering costs for hardworking families, and creating jobs that don’t require a four-year degree across the country,” as the White House puts it.

Meanwhile,  the Republicans are doubling down on the idea that such investments are a waste of money, and are forcing a fight over the debt ceiling to try to slash the very programs that the administration is celebrating. Ignoring that the 2017 Trump tax cuts and spending under Trump added about 25% to the debt, they are focusing on Biden’s policies and demanding  that the government balance the budget in 10 years without raising taxes and without cutting defense, veterans benefits, Social Security, or Medicare, which would require slashing everything else by an impossible 85%, at least (some estimates say even 100% cuts wouldn’t do it). 

As David Firestone put it today in the New York Times: “Cutting spending…might sound attractive to many voters until you explain what you’re actually cutting and what effect it would have.” Republicans cut taxes and then complain about deficits “but don’t want to discuss how many veterans won’t get care or whose damaged homes won’t get rebuilt or which dangerous products won’t get recalled.” Firestone noted that this disconnect is why the House Republicans cannot come up with a budget. “The details of austerity are unpopular,” Firestone notes, “and it’s easier to just issue fiery news releases.”



March 27, 2023

Heather Cox Richardson

4 hr ago

  • Seven people died today in a school shooting in Nashville. Three of them were nine-year-olds. Three were staffers. One was the shooter. In the aftermath of the shooting, President Joe Biden once again urged Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons, to which today’s Republican lawmakers will never agree because gun ownership has become a key element of social identity for their supporters, who resent the idea that the legal system could regulate their ownership of firearms.

In the wake of the shooting, Representative Andrew Ogles (R-TN), who represents Nashville thanks to redistricting by the Republican legislature that cut up a Democratic district, said he was “utterly heartbroken” by the shooting and offered “thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost.” 

In 2021, Ogles, his wife, and two of his three children held guns as they posed for a Christmas card with a caption that read: “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference—they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”

Meanwhile, protests continue in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to hamstring his country’s Supreme Court and put the legislature in charge of judicial review has sparked fierce opposition. 

Netanyahu regained power last November while he was facing criminal charges of fraud, breach of trust, and bribery. His far-right coalition put together a government and elevated two critics of the Israeli judiciary, who promptly put forward a plan of “legal reforms.” 

According to Amichai Cohen and Yuval Shany in Lawfare, supporters of those changes claim that unelected judges who are part of a “liberal deep state” have too much power, often using it to pursue criminal proceedings against senior politicians, prohibit Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank, or to refuse religious exemptions from military service for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students.  

On January 4, 2023, Netanyahu’s minister of justice Yariv Levin proposed an overhaul of the judicial system that would put Netanyahu’s slim majority—just 64 seats in the 120-member Knesset—in complete control of the country’s laws, enabling the far-right majority to avoid any checks on its power (as well as enabling Netanyahu to evade the criminal trials he faces). 

But Netanyahu did not campaign on remaking the judiciary; it is the far-right members of his coalition who have made it their signature issue. Protests against the measures began almost immediately as alarmed Israelis realized the move would destroy their democracy.

The protests continued until this Saturday, when Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant warned that the massive backlash against the judicial overhaul, including more and more military members who are boycotting their training missions, threatened the nation’s military readiness. He called for a halt to the attempt to force through the changes. Two members of the coalition backed Gallant and one appeared to be wavering, thus threatening Netanyahu’s majority. The next day, Netanyahu fired Gallant.

The firing sparked massive demonstrations and widespread strikes. At first, the far-right members of Netanyahu’s coalition refused to stop their plans to overhaul the judiciary and called for their supporters to turn out to oppose the protesters, but Netanyahu apparently cut a deal with them. He has announced that the judicial reforms will be postponed while the two sides look for a compromise, and that he has agreed to the formation of a civil “national guard” the right will control. While Bethan McKernan of The Guardian called this move an empty gesture, Zach Beauchamp of Vox noted that the new paramilitary unit will be under the control of the extremist minister of national security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who in 2008 was convicted of supporting a terrorist organization and who used to keep a photograph of a mass murderer in his living room. 

Still, as Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes, the halt is “pretty transparently a stalling tactic,” launched in the hope that the protests will die down and the package can go forward later, although, as Marshall points out, polls show that the so-called reforms are very unpopular. 

The crisis in Israel threatens the country’s relationship with the United States. During the Trump administration, Netanyahu cozied up to Trump and his Republican allies, and Israel’s continued rightward shift has alarmed foreign observers. In early March, Israel’s finance minister Bezalel Smotrich called for the state to “erase” a Palestinian town, and he has called himself a “proud homophobe” and a “fascist.” In Israel, Netanyahu’s son tweeted that the U.S. State Department is behind the protests, hoping to overthrow Netanyahu, a sentiment to which Netanyahu himself has nodded.

When Smotrich visited Washington, D.C., earlier this month, White House officials declined to meet with him, and more than ninety Democratic lawmakers wrote to Biden asking him to use “all diplomatic tools available to prevent Israel’s current government from further damaging the nation’s democratic institutions and undermining the potential for two states for two peoples.” According to Josh Lederman of NBC News, more than 300 rabbis last year said that members of Netanyahu’s coalition were not welcome to speak at their synagogues. 

The threats to the Israeli judiciary threaten the nation’s economy, as billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out in a New York Times op-ed earlier this month. “Companies and investors place enormous value on strong and independent judicial systems because courts help protect them — not only against crime and corruption but also government overreach. Just as important, they protect what their employees value most: individual rights and freedoms,” he wrote. 

In case anyone missed the obvious comparison between what is happening in Israel and what might transpire in the U.S., Bloomberg continued: “In the United States, our founding fathers’ insistence on checks and balances to control the tyrannical tendencies of majorities was part of their genius. Our Constitution is not perfect—no law is—but its many checks and balances have been essential to protecting and advancing fundamental rights and maintaining national stability. It was only through those safeguards that the United States has managed to withstand extreme shocks to our democracy in recent years—including a disgraceful attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power—without a catastrophic fracturing.”


Ali Velshi @AliVelshi

Americans should watch developments in Israel, in which a sitting prime minister, facing criminal charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, was returned to office, and is now attempting to pass laws that would, among other things, limit the ways in which he can be declared… PM ∙ Mar 27, 202330,221Likes8,984Retweets

Drezner’s World

Israel is Going Through It Right Now.

The hard-working staff here at Drezner’s World has been reluctant to write about developments in Israel for quite a long time. That was particularly true after Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition won last November’s election. Netanyahu’s cabinet elevated some…

Read more

a day ago · 28 likes · 2 comments · Daniel W. Drezner

Heather Cox Richardson

March 24, 2023

A follow-up to last night’s examination of the confusion among the Republicans about their budget plans: today when a reporter said to House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) that the chair of the House Budget Committee, Jodey Arrington (R-TX), had said that he and McCarthy were finalizing a list of proposals to give to President Biden about spending cuts, McCarthy answered: “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”

Noise also continues from former president Donald Trump, who early this morning posted on social media that his indictment could lead to “potential death & destruction”; hours later, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg received a death threat in an envelope with white powder in it. For three days this week, Russian accounts have emailed bomb threats to the court buildings where the grand jury is meeting.  

Tomorrow, Trump will hold a rally in Waco, Texas, where a 1993 government siege to extricate the leader of a religious cult who witnesses said was stockpiling weapons led to a gun battle and a fire that left seventy-six people dead.  

Although a Republican investigation cited “overwhelming evidence” that exonerated the government of wrongdoing, right-wing talk radio hosts jumped on the events at Waco to attack the administration of Democratic president Bill Clinton. Rush Limbaugh stoked his listeners’ anger with talk of the government’s “murder” of citizens, and Alex Jones dropped out of community college to start a talk show on which he warned that the government had “murdered” the people at Waco and was about to impose martial law.

After the Waco siege the modern militia movement took off, and Trump is clearly using the anniversary to tap into domestic violence against the government to defend him in advance of possible indictments.

But will it work? His supporters turned out on January 6, 2021, when he was president and had the power—they thought—to command the army to back him. In the end, that didn’t happen. Since then, Trump’s foot soldiers have been going to prison while he dines at Mar-a-Lago and rails about how unfairly he has been treated.

Trump is also in more trouble today, as Judge Beryl Howell ruled last week that Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, former director of national intelligence John Ratcliffe, former top Department of Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli, former national security advisor Robert O’Brien, former top aide Stephen Miller, former deputy chief of staff and social media director Dan Scavino, and former Trump aides Nick Luna and John McEntee all have to testify before the federal grand jury investigating Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

Special counsel Jack Smith had subpoenaed these members of the Trump administration, and Trump had tried to stop their testimony by claiming it was covered by executive privilege. Howell rejected that claim. In the past, she rejected a similar claim by arguing that only the current president has the right to claim executive privilege and Biden had declined to do so. Meadows is the key witness to Trump’s involvement in the events of January 6.

Also today, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a repeal of so-called right-to-work legislation passed in 2012 by a Republican-controlled legislature, whose members pushed it through in a lame-duck session without hearings.  

That legislation had a long history. U.S. employers had opposed workers’ unions since the organization of the National Labor Union in 1866, but the rise of international communism in the early twentieth century provoked a new level of violence against organized workers. In 1935, as part of the New Deal, Democrats passed the National Labor Relations Act, popularly known as the Wagner Act, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed it into law. 

The Wagner Act confirmed workers’ right to organize and to bargain with employers collectively (although to appease southern Democrats, it exempted domestic and agricultural workers, who in the South were mostly Black). It also defined unfair labor practices and established a new National Labor Relations Board that could issue cease and desist orders if workers testified that employers were engaging in them. 

The Wagner Act gave workers a unified voice in American politics and leveled the playing field between them and employers. But while most Americans of both parties liked the Wagner Act, right-wing Republicans hated it because it put large sums of money into the hands of labor officials, who used the money to influence politics. And organized workers had backed Democrats since the 1860s.

So, in 1947, a Republican-led Congress pushed back against the Wagner Act. The previous year, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) had launched “Operation Dixie” to organize Black workers, which seemed a threat to segregation as well as white employers. Together, business Republicans and segregationist Democrats passed the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, better known as the Taft-Hartley Act. Ohio Senator Robert Taft (who was the son of President William Howard Taft) claimed that the Taft-Hartley Act would simply equalize power between workers and employers after the “completely one-sided” Wagner Act gave all the power to labor leaders. 

The Taft-Hartley Act limited the ways in which workers could organize; it also went after unions’ money. Although the Wagner Act had established that if a majority of a company’s workers voted to join a union, that union would represent all the workers in the company, it didn’t require all the workers to join that union. That presented a problem: if workers were going to get the benefits of union representation without joining, why should they bother to pay dues? 

So labor leaders began to require that everyone employed in a unionized company must pay into the union to cover the cost of bargaining, whether or not they joined the union.

The Taft-Hartley Act undermined this workaround by permitting states to get rid of the requirement that employees who didn’t join a union that represented them must pay fees to the union. 

Immediately, states began to pass so-called right-to-work laws. Their supporters argued that every man should have the right to bargain for his work on whatever terms he wanted, without oversight by a union. But lawmakers like Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), who pushed a right-to-work law in his own state, were clear that they were intent on breaking the power of organized workers. He was determined to destroy the political power of unions because, he said, their leaders were stealing American freedom. They were, he said, “more dangerous than Soviet Russia.” 

Michigan had been known as a pro-union state, but in 2012, Republicans there pushed through two right-to-work laws over waves of protest. Repealing the laws has been a priority for Democrats, and now that they are in control of state government, they have made it happen.  

Joey Cappelletti of the Associated Press notes that twenty-six states currently have right to work laws, and although Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected a right-to-work law in 2017, it has been 58 years since a state repealed one. Indiana voters repealed theirs in 1965; Republicans put it back into place in 2012.  

Republicans say that since the neighboring states of Indiana and Wisconsin have right-to-work laws—although there were huge protests when those laws went into place in 2012 and 2015—Michigan’s repeal of right to work will make that state less attractive to employers. 

But after signing the law today, Governor Whitmer embraced a different vision for the state, saying: “Today, we are coming together to restore workers’ rights, protect Michiganders on the job, and grow Michigan’s middle class.”


Acyn @Acyn

Reporter: Arrington said you were finalizing a list of proposals to give to Biden about spending cuts McCarthy: I don’t know what he’s talking about

3:45 PM ∙ Mar 24, 2023


Heather Cox Richardson

7 hr ago

Rumors that he is about to be indicted in New York in connection with the $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels have prompted former president Donald Trump to pepper his alternative social media site with requests for money and to double down on the idea that any attack on him is an attack on the United States.

The picture of America in his posts reflects the extreme version of the virtual reality the Republicans have created since the 1980s. The United States is “THIRD WORLD & DYING,” he wrote. “THE AMERICAN DREAM IS DEAD.” He went on to describe a country held captive by “CRIMINALS & LEFTIST THUGS,” in which immigrants are “FLOODING THROUGH OUR OPEN BOARDERS [sic], MANY FROM PRISONS & MENTAL INSTITUTIONS,” and where the president is “SURROUNDED BY EVIL & SINISTER PEOPLE.” He told his supporters to “SAVE AMERICA” by protesting the arrest he—but no one else—says is coming on Tuesday.

Trump’s false and dystopian portrait of the nation takes to its logical conclusion the narrative Republicans have pushed since the 1980s. Since the days of Reagan, Republicans have argued that people who believe that the government should regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, protect civil rights, and promote infrastructure are destroying the country by trying to redistribute wealth from hardworking white Americans to undeserving minorities and women. Now Trump has taken that argument to its logical conclusion: the country has been destroyed by women, Black Americans, Indigenous people, and people of color, who have taken it over and are persecuting people like him.

This old Republican narrative created a false image of the nation and of its politics, an image pushed to a generation of Americans by right-wing media, a vision that MAGA Republicans have now absorbed as part of their identity. It reflects a manipulation of politics that Russian political theorists called “political technology.”

Russian “political technologists” developed a series of techniques to pervert democracy by creating a virtual political reality through modern media. They blackmailed opponents, abused state power to help favored candidates, sponsored “double” candidates with names similar to those of opponents in order to split their voters and thus open the way for their own candidates, created false parties to create opposition, and, finally, created a false narrative around an election or other event that enabled them to control public debate.

Essentially, they perverted democracy, turning it from the concept of voters choosing their leaders into the concept of voters rubber-stamping the leaders they had been manipulated into backing.

This system made sense in former Soviet republics, where it enabled leaders to avoid the censorship that voters would recoil from by instead creating a firehose of news until people became overwhelmed by the task of trying to figure out what was real and simply tuned out.

But it also fit nicely into American politics, where there is a long history of manipulating voters far beyond the usual political spin. As far back as 1972, Nixon’s operatives engaged in what they called “ratf*cking,” dirty tricks that amounted to political sabotage of their opponents. The different elements of that system became a fundamental part of Republican operations in the 1990s, especially the use of a false narrative spread through talk radio and right-wing television.

More recently, we have seen blackmail (former representative Madison Cawthorn [R-NC] blamed his own party for the release of compromising photos); the use of state power to help candidates (through investigations, for example); double candidates (a Florida Republican won a seat in the state legislature in 2020 after a sham candidate with the same name as the Democratic candidate siphoned voters); and the deliberate creation of a false political reality.

Indeed, David Klepper at AP News reported just yesterday that Russian social media accounts are up to their old tricks in the U.S., pushing the idea that federal authorities have been lying about the true impact of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment because they want to divert U.S. money from problems at home to Ukraine. “Biden offers food, water, medicine, shelter, payouts of pension and social services to Ukraine! Ohio first! Offer and deliver to Ohio!” one of those accounts posted.

So the United States has had its own version of political technology that overlaps with the Russian version, and it has led to the grim picture Trump is portraying in his attempt to rile up his supporters to protect him.

But here’s what I wonder: What happens when people who have embraced a virtual world begin to figure out it’s fake?

Russians are having to come to grips with their failing economy, world isolation, and rising death rates as President Vladimir Putin throws Russian soldiers into the maw of battle without training or equipment. Now they have to deal with the fact that the International Criminal Court has indicted their president for war crimes. Will they rally around their leader, slide away, or turn against him?

In the United States, MAGA Republicans have been faced with evidence released in the Dominion Voting Systems defamation case against the Fox News Corporation that shows Fox News Channel personalities lied to them. Now those who have cleaved to Trump have to face that he is asking them to risk their freedom to oppose his arrest for paying $130,000 to an adult film actress to keep quiet about their sexual encounter, hardly a noble cause. And the last time he asked people to defend him, more than 1,000 of them—so far—faced arrest and conviction, while he went back to playing golf and asking people for money.

Tonight, Erica Orden of Politico reported that Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg emailed his employees to say “we do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York.” He told them: “Our law enforcement partners will ensure that any specific or credible threats against the office will be fully investigated and that the proper safeguards are in place so all 1,600 of us have a secure work environment.” He also noted, without mentioning specific cases, that his office has been coordinating with the New York Police Department and with the New York court system during certain ongoing investigations.

Some of Trump’s radical supporters have taken to social media to make a plan for surrounding Mar-a-Lago and protecting Trump with firearms, but others appear to be more eager for someone else to show up than to do so themselves.

Ali Alexander, who helped to organize “Stop the Steal” rallies to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election, wrote to his supporters today: “Previously, I had said if Trump was arrested or under the threat of a perp walk, 100,000 patriots should shut down all routes to Mar-a-Lago…. Now I’m retired. I’ll pray for him though!”


I’m not going to link to Trump’s Truth Social postings. But that’s where they are if you want to seek them out.

Adam Kinzinger #fella @AdamKinzinger

Whether this ends up violent or not, these were the type of comments i was seeing pre Jan 6

LeGate🤠 @williamlegate

Trump’s radical supporters are planning on surrounding Mar-a-Lago and using rifles to shoot law enforcement on scene to arrest Trump AM ∙ Mar 19, 20235,592Likes1,292Retweets

Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s ‘Washing Machine’ Claim Sparks Avalanche of Jokes

Story by Ewan Palmer • 1h ago

Republican Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn has been mocked online over a video in which she attacked the Biden administration’s proposal to make washing machines more efficient.

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-WV) questions Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, former head of security at Twitter, during a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on data security at Twitter, on Capitol Hill, September 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.© Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Blackburn uploaded a video on Twitter speaking out against the Department of Energy’s plans to ensure new washing machines use less water to help battle against climate change.

The DoE has said that changes to appliances such as clothes washers and refrigerators could save American consumers $3.5 billion per year on their energy and water bills.

Manufacturers have said that the changes would mean each cycle will take longer, the detergent will cost more, and clothes would be less clean, reported The Washington Free Beacon.

However, others have suggested the outrage is manufactured, including Blackburn’s claim that people will not be able to use the washing machine they have. Critics say it is misleading, like the previous Republican claim that the Biden administration was coming for people’s gas stoves.

“I think if you like your washing machine, you should be able to keep your washing machine,” Blackburn said. “Now we are hearing the Biden administration are wanting to make washing machines less efficient, use a different detergent that’s new, gonna cost you more, and your clothes won’t be as clean.”

In response, a number of Twitter users have criticized Blackburn for attacking the appliance-efficiency proposals.

Democrats want to take away your laundry soap so that you’ll be stinky and then they can call you stinky. Sign my bill,” wrote Twitter user @possessher.

Social-media user @Woofkoof posted in reply to Blackburn’s tweet: “Yes, Marsha! The washing machine confiscation squad and clean clothes prohibition laws have been keeping me awake too, Marsha.”

Another Twitter user mockingly wrote that Blackburn is “stuck on the spin cycle” over her washing-machine comments.

Others questioned why Blackburn is trying to drum up anger about washing-machine efficiency rather than focus on other issues.

“This Senator of the United States of America has nothing better to do than to attack POTUS about the efficiency of washing machines,” one Twitter user wrote. “‘The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body’ is being disgraced and demeaned. Is this the America you want to live in? America First? Humiliating.

Twitter user @estein101 added: “Marsha, good to see you’re on the important stuff that really matters to Americans right now.”

Travis Fisher is a senior research fellow at Heritage Foundation’s Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment. He queried whether the DoE’s plans to raise the efficiency standard would help the average American have money on their bills if they need to put more cycles on because of it.

“When you’re squeezing all you can out of efficiency in terms of electricity use and water … you by definition either make the appliance worse or slower,” Fisher told the Free Beacon. “Why are we so focused on the energy output, as opposed to if it’s helping me wash my clothes?

“That standard has kind of gone off the rails,” Fisher added.

A DoE spokesperson has dismissed the criticism that its proposals have received.

“Despite misleading claims to the contrary, these proposals are intended for nothing more than promoting innovation and keeping money in the pockets of Americans everywhere without sacrificing the reliability and performance that consumers expect and rely on,” a DoE spokesperson told Fox News Digital.

“As evidenced in the Department’s testing and analysis, the proposed standards would not reduce product performance or negatively impact cleaning ability or cycle time.”

Newsweek has emailed Blackburn for comment.

Minnesota Republican votes against free school meals bill because ‘I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that is hungry’

Joshua Zitser 

Mar 15, 2023, 6:00 AM

Minnesota State Senator Steve Drazkowski speaks on the floor of the Minnesota State Capitol in St Paul on March 14, 2023. Minnesota State media Services

Sen. Steve Drazkowski made the remarks on the floor of the Minnesota State Capitol on Tuesday before voting on HF 5, which would provide free school lunch and breakfast for students in the state.

“I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that is hungry,” said Drazkowski. “I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that says they don’t have access to enough food to eat.”

The bill passed despite his opposition, and is now headed to the state’s governor to be signed into law.

According to Feeding America, a national hunger relief nonprofit, around 340,000 Minnesotans are facing hunger, just under a third of them children. 

More than 13% of children in Minnesota live in “food insecure” homes, per the anti-childhood-hunger campaign No Kid Hungry.

Drazkowsksi said in his floor speech that hunger is “relative,” complaining that it was not well-defined in the bill.

“I had a cereal bar for breakfast,” he said. “I guess I’m hungry now.”

Drazkowski also described the bill as “pure socialism,” arguing that state money should instead be going toward reading, writing, and arithmetic in Minnesota.

Though Drazkowski voted against the bill, it passed 38-26 in the Senate. Four Republicans joined the Democratic majority in voting for it.

A video of Drazkowski’s remarks was shared widely on social media, with the Democrat author of the bill highlighting that there is indeed hunger in Drazkowski’s district.

Drazkowski represents District 20 in the southeast of the state.

“1 in 5 students in Sen. Drazkowski’s district qualifies for free and reduced lunch,” said Sen. Heather Gustafson in a tweet.

Colleen Moriarty, the executive director of nonprofit Hunger Solutions Minnesota, told The Washington Post that Drazkowski’s “eyes may not be open” if he’s not met somebody in the state who is hungry. 

There were 5.5 million visits to Minnesotan food pantries in 2022, a record high, according to the nonprofit. Visits increased in 2022 on the year before across all age groups, with the total number of visits by under-18s increasing by more than 50%, per the nonprofit’s data.

Robert Reich

Feb 28

The awful truth about hedge funds


Bridgewater Associates is the world’s largest hedge fund, managing roughly $125 billion of other people’s money. The New York Times recently reported that its founder, Ray Dalio, agreed to relinquish control of the firm only if it gave him what could amount to billions of dollars in regular payouts over the coming years through a special class of stock.

Dalio already has an estimated net worth of $19 billion.

I first came across Dalio in 2019 when I read his 5,000-word treatise “Why and How Capitalism Needs to be Reformed.” I was intrigued. Here was a major financial figure arguing that capitalism “is not working well for the majority of Americans because it’s producing self-reinforcing spirals up for the haves and down for the have-nots.” That widening wealth gap, Dalio noted, is “bringing about damaging domestic and international conflicts and weakening America’s condition.”

Dalio foresaw one of two outcomes: Either we “re-engineer the system so that the pie is both divided and grown well” or else “we will have great conflict and some form of revolution that will hurt most everyone and will shrink the pie.”

All of that seemed right to me — even more so today. America has already started down the second path. Trump, DeSantis, and other demagogues have been exploiting working-class anger to pump up their power.

But Dalio had no proposal for “re-engineering” the system. To the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t supported a wealth tax or any tax increase on people like himself. He hasn’t proposed stopping giant hedge funds and private equity funds from forcing companies to squeeze out every ounce of profits, typically by suppressing wages and abandoning workers and communities. And he certainly hasn’t proposed capping executive pay.

Worldwide, there are now some 10,000 hedge funds, which together manage about $2 trillion — and they charge their clients a bundle. On top of a 2 percent management fee, they deduct 20 percent of any investment gains. This lets hedge fund managers classify much of their income as “capital gains,” taxed at a far lower rate than regular income. Their wealth has given them so much political clout that this absurd “carried interest” tax loophole remains, despite promises from the last four presidents to close it.

So while schoolteachers and cops face a marginal tax rate of 25 percent, hedge fund managers like Dalio have for years paid only 15 percent on their enormous incomes.

Yet most of the funds Dalio manages come from schoolteachers and cops and other average working Americans. Fully a third come from public pension funds such as the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System. Another third from corporate pension funds that are supposed to guard the retirement savings of their workers, such as those at Kodak and General Motors.

Meanwhile, CEOs and star traders now routinely demand eight-figure compensation packages to keep up with their counterparts at hedge funds.

It’s a giant zero-sum game, as Dalio himself recognizes. “In order to earn more than the market return, you have to take money from somebody else,” he says.

It’s worse than a zero-sum game because hedge funds, like private equity funds, pressure corporations to lay off workers, reduce the (inflation-adjusted) pay of average workers, bust unions, and move production abroad or to anti-labor states.  

They also use their wealth to distort and corrupt American politics, as I’ve already noted.

And they use piles of borrowed money — thereby blowing gigantic, dangerous speculative bubbles. When Wall Street firms got into trouble in 2008, Bridgewater was one of the funds that pulled money out of Lehman Brothers, leaving the American public holding the bag.

There is little justification for hedge funds. If pension funds want to balance out any risks they may take in the stock and bond markets, they can accomplish this far more cheaply through standard leveraging tactics.

Note to pension fund managers: Get the hell out of hedge funds. You’re wasting the retirement money of the workers you’re supposed to represent.

Meanwhile, there’s no justification for the giant compensation packages of hedge fund partners.

Note to pension fund managers: If you absolutely must be in hedge funds, make your voices heard on taming executive pay.

And there’s no justification whatever for maintaining the “carried interest” loophole in the tax code.

Note to President Biden and Congress: Get rid of it.

As Ray Dalio wrote, the system is not working well for the majority of Americans because it’s producing self-reinforcing spirals up for the haves and down for the have-nots. Dalio and his compatriots are part of that self-reinforcing spiral. The rest of us are all the worse for it.

February 22, 2023

Heather Cox Richardson

5 hr ago



Last week’s court filing in the Dominion Voting Systems case proved that Fox News Channel personalities knew full well that Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidential election. They pushed Trump’s Big Lie of voter fraud anyway, afraid they would lose viewers to right-wing networks that were willing to parrot that lie.

Since the 1980s, Republicans have relied on a false narrative to win voters. To get rid of the active government put in place after 1933 to put guardrails around the unfettered capitalism that had led to the Depression, they argued that government regulation, the social safety net, civil rights, and investment in infrastructure were socialism and were undermining traditional America. 

Their argument was that business regulation gave the government control over the way a man ran his business, and that taxes to support government bureaucracy, social services, and public investments redistributed wealth from white men to minorities and women. Real Americans, they suggested, must be willing to defend themselves and the country against the “socialist” national government.

Lately, this determination to get rid of the New Deal government has taken the shape of cutting Social Security and Medicare, which led to the brouhaha over President Biden’s charge during the State of the Union address that Republicans would cut those programs. After Republicans booed him and called him a liar, he backed them into agreeing they would take cuts off the table. 

But former vice president Mike Pence brought it up once more this morning on CNBC, saying, “While I respect the speaker’s commitment to take Social Security and Medicare off the table for the debt ceiling negotiations, we’ve got to put them on the table in the long term,” because they were facing “insolvency.” 

Reversing 40 years of Republican tax cuts would also address financial shortfalls, but that approach does not fit the Republican narrative that cutting taxes promotes growth and raises revenue.

As their policies became increasingly unpopular, Republicans ramped up that narrative until we have the extraordinary scenario we saw last night: former president Trump telling a campaign audience that the United States has blown right past socialism and is now a communist, Marxist country. That, of course, would mean that the people’s government owns the means of production: the factories, services, and so on.

Instead, as President Biden pointed out today in response to right-wing attempts to blame his administration for the Ohio derailment, deregulation has moved money upward and compromised Americans’ safety. He noted that he has committed the federal government to make sure Ohio has all it needs to address the crisis. Then he added: “Rail companies have spent millions of dollars to oppose common-sense safety regulations. And it’s worked. This is more than a train derailment or a toxic waste spill—it’s years of opposition to safety measures coming home to roost.” 

That narrative has also enshrined the idea that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, originally intended to limit the federal government’s power over state militias but now interpreted to mean that individuals have a right to own whatever weaponry they want, defines the nation. After a number of right-wing congressional lawmakers have taken to wearing assault rifle lapel pins, Representative Barry Moore (R-AL) this week introduced a bill to make the AR-15 the “National Gun of America.” Moore claims that “The anti–Second Amendment group won’t stop until they take away all your firearms.”

From February 17 through February 19, there were ten mass shootings in the United States. According to Grace Hauck of USA Today, there were “two mass shootings in Georgia and Missouri and one each in Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina and Mississippi.” Thirteen people were killed and 46 injured. At least 15 of the victims were under 20. Mass shootings are up in 2023 compared to 2022: 82 this year, compared with 59 at the same time last year.  

The idea of strangling government programs and saving tax dollars has gotten to the point that we had the extraordinary scene in Alaska earlier this week of Republican state representative David Eastman, who attended the January 6, 2021, rally in Washington, D.C., suggesting that children dying of child abuse would save the state money in the social services those children would otherwise need. 

The Republican narrative to attract voters, as warped as it has become, has now begun to drive the government itself. Today, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Isaac Stanley-Becker of the Washington Post reported that after the 2020 election, Arizona’s then–attorney general, Mark Brnovich, concealed a report produced after 10,000 hours of investigation by his own staff, that said virtually all the claims of fraud leveled against the 2020 Arizona election were unfounded. 

Brnovich was running to win the Republican nomination for a seat in the U.S. Senate. He kept the report hidden and instead released an “Interim Report” saying that his office had found “serious vulnerabilities.” He continued to circulate hints that the vote was off, somehow, despite fact checks disproving those allegations. His office put together a document refuting the idea the election was stolen and saying that none of the people making that accusation produced any evidence. Brnovich did not release that summary. 

In a later memo summarizing their work, investigators noted that none of those making outlandish claims about the election were willing to repeat those claims to agents, when they would be subject to a state law prohibiting them from lying to law enforcement officers.

Brnovich was involved in the Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee case, decided in July 2021 by the Supreme Court, that made it much harder to challenge voting restrictions that make it harder for minorities to vote. Voters replaced Brnovich this year with Kris Mayes, a Democrat, who shifted Brnovich’s “Election Integrity Unit,” which focused on fraud, to address voter suppression. 

The attempt to maintain the Republican narrative is now deeply embedded in the government itself. House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has apparently given to Tucker Carlson of the Fox News Channel exclusive access to more than 44,000 hours of video taken within the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. This amounts to “one of the worst security risks since 9/11,” Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said in protest today, “a treasure trove of closely held information about how the Capitol complex is protected.”

Carlson has repeatedly challenged the official accounts of the riot, blaming the federal government for launching the attack and claiming that FBI agents were behind it. Carlson is also one of the key conspirators in the Fox News Channel promotion of the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election, even though they dismissed that notion privately. The expectation is that Carlson will hack whatever videos he can into a version of the Republican narrative. 

But there is more: McCarthy is fundraising off his release of the videos to Carlson, claiming he is delivering “truth and transparency over partisan games” and asking “patriots” to “chip…in” to help House Republicans.


President Biden @POTUS

Rail companies have spent millions of dollars to oppose common-sense safety regulations. And it’s worked. This is more than a train derailment or a toxic waste spill – it’s years of opposition to safety measures coming home to roost.11:14 PM ∙ Feb 21, 20237,381Likes1,731Retweets

Julie Tsirkin @JulieNBCNews

NEW: Schumer writes to colleagues about McCarthy’s release of 1/6 security tapes to Fox News — Says it’s a “treasure trove of closely held information about how the Capitol complex is protected and its public release would compromise the safety of the Legislative Branch.”


9:33 PM ∙ Feb 22, 20231,018Likes512Retweets

Emily Wilkins @emrwilkins

McCarthy fundraising off of giving Tucker Carlson access to 1/6 Surveillance tapes


7:11 PM ∙ Feb 22, 2023373Likes267Retweets

Heather Cox Richardson

5 hr ago

Letter From an American

Speaking at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, today, President Biden continued to define this global moment as one in which democracies are defending their way of life against rising authoritarianism.

Biden’s speech followed his surprise visit to Kyiv yesterday, a visit that demonstrated for the world that Putin has failed to take the city in a year of brutal assaults. It built on Vice President Kamala Harris’s speech to the Munich Security Conference saying that Russian atrocities in Ukraine are crimes against humanity. And it built on the fact that the U.S. sent the largest delegation ever to the conference and that the delegation was bipartisan.

Biden began his speech noting that a year ago “the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv.” But he had just come from there and could report: “Kyiv stands strong! Kyiv stands proud. It stands tall. And most important, it stands free.”

The 2022 Russian invasion tested the world’s democracies, Biden said, and they stood up for national sovereignty, for the right of people to live free from aggression, and for democracy. Putin “thought autocrats like himself were tough and leaders of democracies were soft,” Biden said, but he “found himself at war with a nation led by a man whose courage would be forged in fire and steel: President Zelenskyy.” A year later, “President Putin is confronted with something today that he didn’t think was possible a year ago. The democracies of the world have grown stronger, not weaker. But the autocrats of the world have grown weaker, not stronger.”

“A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never be able to [erase] the people’s love of liberty,” he said. “Brutality will never grind down the will of the free. And Ukraine—Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. Never. For free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.”

Biden said it’s time to decide what kind of world we want to build. Looking at the coalition that supports Ukraine, he said: “We need to take the strength and capacity of this coalition and apply it to lifting up—lifting up the lives of people everywhere, improving health, growing prosperity, preserving the planet, building peace and security, treating everyone with dignity and respect. That’s our responsibility. The democracies of the world have to deliver it for our people.”

It’s time to choose “between chaos and stability,” he said. “Between building and destroying. Between hope and fear. Between democracy that lifts up the human spirit and the brutal hand of the dictator who crushes it. Between nothing less than limitation and possibilities, the kind of possibilities that come when people…live not in captivity but in freedom. Freedom. Freedom. There is no sweeter word than freedom. There is no nobler goal than freedom. There is no higher aspiration than freedom.”

“Americans know that, and you know it,” Biden told his Polish audience. “And all that we do now must be done so our children and grandchildren will know it as well.

“Freedom. The enemy of the tyrant and the hope of the brave and the truth of the ages.


“Stand with us,” Biden said. “We will stand with you.”

During his speech, Biden thanked Poland for taking in 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees, then turned to the United States. “The American people are united in our resolve as well,” he said. “All across my country, in big cities and small towns, Ukrainian flags fly from American homes. Over the past year, Democrats and Republicans in our United States Congress have come together to stand for freedom. That’s who Americans are, and that’s what Americans do.”

The line drew applause, and indeed, five Republican lawmakers met with Zelenskyy in Kyiv today. Led by Representative Mike McCaul (R-TX), the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, they pledged their support for Ukraine.

But extremist Republicans stand against continuing Ukraine aid. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and ten other Republican representatives recently introduced to Congress a “Ukraine Fatigue” resolution calling for an end to U.S. aid to Ukraine and urging “a peace agreement,” a position that accepts Russia’s invasion as legitimate.

Right-wing media has been trying to spin Biden’s trip to Kyiv and speech in Poland as proof that he doesn’t care about the derailment of the train carrying hazardous chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio. In fact, Republican governor Mike DeWine initially rejected federal help when Biden offered it, saying he didn’t see the need for it.

The right wing has also gone after Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for the accident, although it was the Trump administration that weakened safety regulations put in place under Barack Obama that could have mitigated the crisis, and railroad personnel cuts that left the train understaffed. Before the accident, train workers had worried that the 151-car train, 9,300 feet long and weighing 18,000 tons, was too long and too heavy to travel safely.

But Buttigieg is answering his Republican critics. After Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called for Buttigieg’s resignation, Buttigieg responded: “I can’t help but notice the last time this agency heard from him on rail regulation was his signature being on a letter that was pretty obviously drafted by industry, calling on us to weaken our practices around track inspection.”

Concerns about train safety seem warranted: on Monday, four train cars derailed in Riverbank, California, and another train of 31 cars carrying coal derailed today in Gothenburg, Nebraska. Unlike in Ohio, in neither case were there injuries or, apparently, hazardous spills.

Buttigieg has called for a three-pronged push to improve safety and hold the freight rail industry accountable for accidents. Among those proposals are calls for safer cars, paid sick leave for railroad workers, and larger crew sizes, some of the very things railroad workers wanted last fall. After Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) tweeted that Buttigieg should “[s]how up, do your job and stop playing politics with every crisis you find,” Buttigieg responded with his proposals and wrote: “If you’re serious, I’ll work with you on this.”

As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post spelled out today, right-wing figures like Fox News Channel (FNC) personality Tucker Carlson and newly elected Ohio senator J.D. Vance are now spinning the Ohio disaster as an issue of racial malice, portraying it not as a result of weakened safety regulations under former president Trump, but as proof that the Biden administration is throwing white people overboard to focus on Buttigieg’s idea that “we have too many white construction workers.”

In fact, Buttigieg’s comments addressed the problem of creating opportunities for minority construction workers when white workers are brought in to work on construction projects in minority communities, and the Biden administration has passed expansive legislation that is bringing jobs to poor white communities, legislation most Republicans opposed. But the race baiting has gone so far that, Sargent notes, right-wing personalities are accusing the Biden administration of “spilling toxic chemicals on poor white people.”

Knocked out of the news by the flurry of activity around the past several days has been the filing in the Dominion Voting Systems defamation case against FNC. The texts and testimony in that filing establish that the FNC is a propaganda arm of the Republican Party.

That information is important as we grapple with House speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) apparent release of the U.S. Capitol video clips from January 6, 2021, to Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson. According to Politico, Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, who has oversight responsibility for those files, did not learn of this deal until he heard it on the news. The Capitol Police have been leery of permitting indiscriminate release of the footage out of concern it reveals safety information.

It remains unclear how—or, perhaps, if—this permission was actually granted. Carlson publicly described his access as “unfettered,” but McCarthy isn’t commenting, and the three-person Capitol Police Board, including Manger, that oversees security decisions would likely have had to sign off on the exchange. House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has told House Democrats he and his team are still trying to learn the details.

There is lots of buzz today about comments from the foreperson from the Georgia grand jury investigating the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Emily Kohrs said the grand jury had recommended a number of indictments and suggested that people would not be shocked to hear the names on the list. Actual indictments are in the hands of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.


Secretary Pete Buttigieg @SecretaryPete

Here are some examples of what Congress can do to help (along with immediate steps we’ve been taking and what we demand rail companies do). If you’re serious, I’ll work with you on this. transportation.govUSDOT Secretary Buttigieg Calls on Rail Industry to Take Immediate, Commonsense Steps to Improve Accountability and Safety and Highlights W…Among the immediate calls for action: Freight rail industry should accelerate phase-in of safer tank cars and provide workers paid sick leave, and Congress can raise existing caps on the fines for rail safety regulations9:00 PM ∙ Feb 21, 20233,589Likes514Retweets

Will, from Cal4 hr ago·edited 4 hr agoScrolling through the top couple threads of the comments yesterday, and hoo boy, y’all, I could I feel the anxiety emanating off the screen! Some of y’all are back in election anticipation terror mode almost two years ahead, with a side order of despairing over the national discourse. I get it. Me too. But gather in, because it is time for a pep talk.The primary election took place today in Wisconsin to fill an upcoming vacancy of the state Supreme Court. If a liberal judge wins in April, ideological control of the court will switch. The ramifications would be enormous. Cases would be brought – and almost certainly succeed – to throw out the state and federal gerrymanders, overturn voting restrictions, nullify the state’s abortion ban, give boosts to unions, and much more. Four judges were on the ballot in what is usually a low turnout affair. Democratic endorsee Janet Protaseiwicz, who has been explicit she is running to save democracy and personal freedoms, came out first. Yay. But here’s the kicker: she received slightly more votes than the two conservative challengers *put together*, and a second liberal candidate took an *additional* 7.5% of the vote.This is Wisconsin. Do I gotta tell y’all whether an 8-point democratic preference in Wisconsin is impressive? It’s impressive.Over in Virginia, Jennifer McClellan won her special Congressional election too. Her district was D+35 for Biden, and D+13 in the ’21 gubernatorial. She won today by 48 points. A nearby special state Senate election was held in recent days. Dems flipped it, solidifying their control of that chamber.In Pennsylvania, Dems also recently put a bow on their newfound control of the state legislature there, not just winning all three special elections held, but outdoing Biden’s wide margins by double digits.This is what being on the winning team looks like.Political control is numbers and gamesmanship. Feelings don’t really enter the picture. I know, I know. Most of us here are big liberals with bigger feelings, and right now we have the biggest sense of concern! It doesn’t *feel* like we’re winning, because we see crazy people in positions of power, and that doesn’t *feel* safe. We just want to *feel* like we know it’s going to be ok and that no bad people will ever be in charge anywhere, and we don’t *feel* that yet.But, my friends, that is where we get into trouble.We have all been traumatized these last few years by the madness in our country. Yes, that is what we are feeling: patriotic trauma. Trauma builds anxiety. Anxiety convinces you to doubt and second-guess and triple-check and think and think and think, sending you on a mental wild goose chase to find the feeling of cosmic safety and certainty that life just can’t seem to give you, to crack the code, to find THE ANSWER as to what to think and say and do to make sure the things you want to happen happen, and the things you do not want to happen do not.How do I know this? Hard experience, my friends. I have three overlapping mental health disorders: the poorly-named Generalized Anxiety Disorder, the poorly-portrayed-on-TV Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Major Depressive Recurrent. I’ll spare the gory clinical details of what these each entail. I will simply say that there is a common denomination among all three of these dark clouds that make up this perfect storm, and that is that they are all very good at convincing my entire brain and body that something feels very wrong with everything, even when nothing is actually wrong with anything. The silver lining if years of therapy is that I have been forced – out of the necessity of survival – to realize that feelings are not facts. When your brain is a misgivings machine, you must learn to ignore misgivings and creeping suspicions and sneaking hunches. When OCD tells your body that the appropriate response to something as anodyne as touching a doorknob wrong is a sudden shock of fear, learning to ignore your fears becomes less a noble ideal and more a practical imperative. And I am not a guru: it is way, way easier said than done. Feelings are an essential part of how we experience life, yes. But they cannot be allowed to totally dictate it.We are winning. Winning does not mean winning every battle. It means holding your ground and not giving up. We have the people, and we have the momentum. It feels scary still. But there is nothing different we need to do to get democracy to prevail. We simply need to keep doing what we are doing.And add to your morning tea session while you’re at it!Yes. We. Can! We already are.Expand full comment153ReplyCollapse

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Georgia Fisanick5 hr ago·edited 5 hr agoThe train wreck story is a sign that Republicans are again going to fight the next election exclusively on culture war issues. Buttigieg is hitting a perfect rapid response combative tone, playing up the Republican hypocrisy and pushing the legislation that will protect railroad workers and the public, and programs that will ensure better fair and job opportunities for all workers.Biden and Buttigieg have to keep giving lessons on how to talk back to the Republicans.110ReplyCollapse

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