Alex Henderson

'Spineless Republicans' show their 'cowardice' by ignoring Trump’s war on the Constitution: conservative

Former President Donald Trump was still being bombarded with condemnation for meeting with white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago when, on Saturday, December 3, he set off yet another controversy — this time, by calling for the U.S. Constitution to be “terminated” so that he can be reinstalled as president. It didn’t take long for countless Democrats, from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates to Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, long to condemn Trump’s comments. And Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, an arch-conservative Republican, called Trump out as well, tweeting, “No honest person can now deny that Trump is an enemy of the Constitution.”

But many other Republicans have remained silent, obviously afraid to say or do anything that would offend Trump’s MAGA base. That silence, according to Washington Post opinion columnist Jennifer Rubin, is yet another textbook example of the “spinelessness” much of the GOP continues to show where Trump is concerned.

In a December 5 column, the Never Trumper observes, “Defeated former President Donald Trump, within the space of two weeks, sat down to dine with two antisemites — one of whom later declared his love of Hitler — and declared on Truth Social that the U.S. Constitution should be subject to ‘termination’ so he could be installed as president. Rarely has an authoritarian insurrectionist under criminal investigation for attempting to overthrow the government issued so candid a confession.”

READ MORE: Appointment of highly regarded special counsel Jack Smith viewed as sign Trump is in legal jeopardy

Although Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, has restored Trump’s @realdonaldtrump account, the former president is still using his own platform Truth Social as his primary social media outlet. And it was on Truth Social that Trump, on December 3, posted, “So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”

The Republican Party, Rubin emphasizes, should totally distance itself from anyone who calls for “termination” of articles in the U.S. Constitution. And the fact that so many Republicans are unwilling to speak out, she laments, underscores the GOP’s dysfunction.

“In a healthy democracy with two sane, stable and pro-democratic parties,” Rubin laments, “it never would have come to this. In such a world, Republicans never would have nominated and elected, in 2016, an openly racist character who fanned birtherism; Republicans never would have renominated him and never would have acquitted him twice in impeachment hearings. Republicans, in our parallel universe, would have disowned him after January 6, 2021 (and) repudiated him when he issued antisemitic insults and continued to lie about 2020. They would have disowned him when he renounced fidelity to the Constitution.”

Rubin adds, “It would hardly come as a surprise that a parade of spineless Republicans appearing on the Sunday shows refused to declare him unfit to be president.”

READ MORE: 'No more kings' – How 3 judges 'utterly demolished' Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago defense: law professor

The columnist argues that Rep. Michael R. Turner of Ohio, a Republican, showed his “moral cowardice” when he said he “vehemently disagreed” with Trump’s call for “termination” the Constitution yet would not “rule out Trump as the nominee” in the 2024 election. And Rep. David Joyce of Ohio, who heads the Republican Governance Group, said he will “support whoever the Republican nominee is” in 2024.

Too many Republicans, Rubin observes, “continue to cower in fear of the radicalized base” that they “helped rile up by standing by the ‘Big Lie’ that the 2020 race was stolen.”

“It should not be too much to ask that serious media outlets label the GOP accurately as a threat to constitutional government and to democracy,” Rubin writes. “At the very least, might mainstream reporters and pundits stop ridiculing President Biden for condemning the ‘semi-fascist’ MAGA movement and repeatedly defending the rule of law?”

Rubin continues, “Neither the press nor the American people can afford to ignore a MAGA GOP that embraces a racist, an antisemite and an enemy of democracy. Trump’s rants are more than just ‘talk’; they’re an invitation to repeat the horrors of January 6.”

READ MORE: 'Festering cabal': Kari Lake melts down at 'sham certification' as loss becomes official

'No more kings': Law professor explains how 3 judges 'utterly demolished' Trump's Mar-a-Lago defense

Former President Donald Trump found a sympathetic voice in the Mar-a-Lago/government documents case when federal Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, granted his request for a special master. But many legal experts have been highly critical of Cannon’s ruling. One of them is University of Baltimore law professor Kimberly Wehle.

In an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on December 5, Never Trumper Wehle applauds a three-judge panel for its rebuke of both Trump and Cannon.

“On Thursday, (December 1), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit finally put to rest the special master nonsense that Donald Trump set in motion late August, when he persuaded U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to interfere with the FBI’s investigation of his illegal harboring of classified and other presidential records at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida,” Wehle explains. “Special Counsel Jack Smith can now proceed apace with the investigation. What’s remarkable about the decision is not the outcome —anyone with a passing legal education could see that Cannon’s ruling was indefensible. It’s how the panel of three judges utterly demolished Trump and Cannon both, in unforgiving language inspired by foundational principles of constitutional restraint.”

READ MORE: Dare we hope: Will Special Counsel Jack Smith do what Robert Mueller would not?

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been investigating Trump in two separate cases: one having to do with government documents he was keeping at his Mar-a-Lago compound in Palm Beach, Florida, the other pertaining to the events of January 6, 2021. In both cases, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed Jack Smith as a special counsel to conduct the investigations.

Attorney Neal Katyal, a scathing Trump critic who served as acting U.S. solicitor general under President Barack Obama, doesn’t believe that appointing a special counsel was a wise decision on Garland’s part; Katyal believes it will slow down the investigations unnecessarily. But Garland obviously decided that bringing in someone from outside DOJ was necessary in order to counter MAGA claims that the Trump-related probes are partisan in nature. Garland has stressed that his motivation is the rule of law, not partisan politics.

“The court made a few things very clear: The FBI acted entirely by the book, which nobody disputes, including Trump,” Wehle writes. “Cannon had no constitutional — that is, ‘jurisdictional’ — authority to do what she did, unless a former president is somehow extra-special and above the laws that apply to everyone else. Cannon assumed Trump is. He’s not.”

The three-judge panel said of Trump’s defense, “All these arguments are a sideshow. The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so.”

READ MORE: 'Voluntary but compulsory': Why Merrick Garland hired a special counsel to handle Donald Trump

Wehle comments, “The vivid picture is not good for Trump, who is under criminal investigation for these misdeeds. And the decision effectively lets Special Counsel Smith loose on all 22,000 documents so the government can pursue the story to its logical conclusion, which could include in an indictment…. Sorry, Donald. No more kings.”

READ MORE: Appointment of highly regarded special counsel Jack Smith viewed as sign Trump is in legal jeopardy

Democrats need a Raphael Warnock victory in Georgia runoff to 'safeguard their gains': journalist

Although Republicans narrowly flipped the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms and will have a majority of around six seats in 2023 — possibly under the leadership of Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California if he is chosen as House speaker — Democrats knew they would be keeping their U.S. Senate majority when Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was reelected in Nevada. And Democrats will slightly expand their Senate majority if incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock defeats Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a runoff election in Georgia that is set for this Tuesday, December 6.

If Warnock prevails, Democrats will have a 51-49 majority in the Senate. If Walker wins, the Senate will have a 50-50 Democrat/Republican split, with Vice President Kamala Harris having the ability to cast a tie-breaking vote.

In an op-ed/essay published by the New York Times on December 5 — the day before the runoff — journalist Ross Barkan lays out some reasons why the outcome of Georgia’s runoff election is important to Democrats and why having 51 Senate seats instead of 50 would be better for them.

READ MORE: 'Abusing her position': Mehdi Hasan explains why Sinema will have to 'play a little nicer' if Warnock is reelected

“Nearly two years ago,” Barkan explains, “Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won runoff elections in Georgia that allowed the new vice president, Kamala Harris, to be the Senate’s tiebreaking vote. Those victories were critical to unleashing a remarkable wave of legislation and spending. Without Mr. Warnock and Mr. Ossoff, President Biden could not have made substantial investments in roads, bridges, public transportation and semiconductor chip manufacturing.”

Barkan continues, “He could not have permitted Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs…. Now, Mr. Warnock is locked in another runoff on December 6, this time against Herschel Walker, the former football star. The stakes feel lower for this one: Democrats are already guaranteed a Senate majority. And no matter the outcome in Georgia, Congress will be divided, with the House in the hands of Republicans. Yet the outcome of Mr. Warnock’s contest matters significantly, for Democrats and Republicans alike — but especially for Democrats. They need Mr. Warnock in power for at least two overriding reasons: to safeguard their gains in the judiciary and to bolster their national bench.”

With Republicans having a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2023 — albeit a small one — there is going to be a lot of legislative gridlock in the federal government. Even if a Democrat-sponsored bill manages to get enough Republican votes to pass in the House, it will still have the 60-vote demand of the filibuster to contend with in the Senate (except for matters that have a filibuster exception).

But legislation isn’t the only reason why having a 51-seat majority would be beneficial for Democrats in 2023. As Barkan points out, the Senate is where members of Congress vote to confirm or reject President Joe Biden’s nominees, whether they are nominees for his administration or nominees for the federal judiciary. If a seat becomes available on the U.S. Supreme Court in 2023 or 2024, it is the Senate, not the House, that would either confirm or reject a Biden nominee.

READ MORE: Another woman is stepping forward with a new Herschel Walker abortion claim

“Under President Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell was venerated — or denounced — for his efficient and cutthroat approach to ramming through Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court picks and confirming federal judges,” Barkan notes. “In four years, Mr. McConnell’s Senate majority confirmed three right-wing justices and 234 new judges overall, many of them youthful conservatives rubber-stamped by the Federalist Society. These Trump appointees can serve for the rest of their lives; it is plausible that some of them will still be remaking federal law 30 or 40 years from now. Most of these judges are avowed originalists, fiercely opposed to the ‘living Constitution’ school that dominates liberal jurisprudence and allowed for all sorts of social progress that is now being turned back."

Barkan continues, “The overturning of Roe v. Wade is the exemplar…. If Mr. Warnock wins, the Senate can move more rapidly and seek judges who are perhaps more progressive in their worldviews — the sort who could hit a snag if someone like Joe Manchin, the centrist from West Virginia, or Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is the deciding vote.”

Walker has faced one controversy after another in Georgia’s U.S. Senate race, from allegations of domestic violence to allegations that he encouraged at least two women he impregnated to have abortions even though he has run on a vehemently anti-abortion platform and favors banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Regardless, the race has been close. Although Warnock had more votes than Walker after the November 8 election, the race went to a runoff under Georgia election rules because Warnock’s lead was under 50 percent.

In an article published by Politico on November 5, journalists Brittany Gibson and Natalie Allison report that although Warnock appears to be a “slight favorite” in the race, a Walker victory is “not out of the question.” And Warnock is reminding voters that turnout is everything in an election.

The cliché that elections ultimately come to “turnout, turnout and more turnout” is heard a lot, but it’s accurate. In the end, polls showing a candidate ahead among “likely voters” don’t mean much unless those voters actually follow through on Election Day.

At a campaign event in East Athens, Georgia on Sunday night, December 4, Warnock told a crowd of mostly African-American supporters, “We had an incredible early vote period, but don’t spike the football before you get to the end zone. I need you to bring this one home.”

READ MORE: Inside the last-minute push to help Raphael Warnock defeat Herschel Walker in Georgia

One-third of the FBI's domestic terrorism investigations 'relate' to January 6th: report

For many years after 9/11, pundits in right-wing media scoffed at the idea of white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Christian nationalists and far-right militia groups posing a major terrorist threat in the United States. Law enforcement’s anti-terrorist resources, they argued, should be focused solely on fighting radical Islamists.

Liberals and progressives would respond that the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) has a long history of domestic terrorism, including attacking African-American churches (such as the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963). In the 1980s, according to federal prosecutors, neo-Nazis planned to dump 200 pounds of pure cyanide into the municipal water supplies of New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. in addition to blowing up natural gas pipelines in states ranging from Texas to Illinois. Prosecutors estimated that if the attack on the water supplies in those cities had been successful, at least 400,000 people would have been killed.

The claim that white supremacists and white nationalists do not pose a major terrorist threat in the U.S. is not a view embraced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). According to Newsweek reporter William M. Arkin, the FBI is “conducting three times (more) domestic terrorism investigations than it was five years ago, with 70 percent of its open cases focused on ‘civil unrest’ and anti-government activity.”

READ MORE: GOP congressman deluged with angry responses over Club Q tweet

Targets of far-right white terrorists in recent years have ranged from African-Americans (the Mother Bethel AME Church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015) to Jews (the Tree of Life Synagogue attack in Pittsburgh in 2018) to Latinos (a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas in 2019) to gays. A gunman’s attack on Club Q, a gay club in Colorado Springs, on November 19 left five people dead and others injured. And anti-gay hate crimes have been on the rise.

In North Carolina, two Duke Energy substations were attacked by gunmen in early December, resulting in over 40,000 people in Moore Counting losing electricity. Police, as of Monday morning, December 5, have not identified a motive in the attack, but the attacks occurred during a drag show in Southern Pines, North Carolina that Christian nationalists were railing against. One of them is activist Emily Grace Rainey, who was part of the “Stop the Steal” demonstrations in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.

Online, Rainey posted, “the Moore County Sheriff’s Office just checked in. I welcomed them to my home. Sorry they wasted their time. I told them that God works in mysterious ways and is responsible for the outage. I used the opportunity to tell them about the immoral drag show and the blasphemies screamed by its supporters. God is chastising Moore County.”

When the drag show lost electricity following the attack on the energy substations, it continued by candlelight. Security was quite heavy at the event, according to WRAL News, because the performers and organizers feared violence.

READ MORE: 'Lowest common denominator': Donald Trump is ignoring advisers' requests to denounce Nick Fuentes

Reporting in Newsweek, Arkin explains how FBI agents distinguish between “hate crimes” and “domestic terrorism.” An FBI report issued in October said, “A hate crime is targeted violence motivated by the offender's bias against a person's actual or perceived characteristics, while a DT (domestic terrorism) incident involves acts dangerous to human life that are in violation of criminal laws and in furtherance of a social or political goal."

Notably, nearly two years after the fact, investigations into individuals who participated in former President Donald Trump's January 6th insurrection are taking up a substantial amount of the Bureau's resources.

Arkin reports, “Of 2,700 open cases, where an individual or group of individuals has been designated domestic terrorists by the FBI, almost a third relate to the 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol or subsequent political activity connected to it. Since then, the counter-terrorism agencies have also focused on the transnational links of domestic individuals and groups — an approach that provides the intelligence agencies more authority to conduct surveillance and intrusive collection of information."

The Newsweek reporter adds, “Domestic terrorism investigations are being conducted in all 50 states and in all 56 FBI field offices, the FBI says, with more than double the number of investigators assigned to domestic terrorism work since January 6…. The FBI uses five categories to describe violent extremism: racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs), including white supremacists; anti-government or anti-authority violent extremists (AGAAVEs), including everyone from militias to Antifa; violent extremism associated with ‘civil unrest’; animal rights/environmental violent extremists; and abortion-related violent extremists.”

READ MORE: White supremacist and former National Guard member sentenced on drugs, weapons charges

'Doing all the wrong things': Health experts call for an end to Wisconsin’s failed 'cocaine moms' law

In 1997, the Wisconsin State Legislature passed Act 292, a.k.a. the Unborn Child Protection Act, which calls for penalties for women who use drugs during a pregnancy. The law, its supporters said 25 years ago, was a response to “cocaine moms.”

But just as many criminal justice reform activists have been calling for an end to the War on Drugs, some Wisconsin doctors and substance use experts are saying that it’s time to reconsider Act 292. One of them is Dr. Kathy Hartke, a retired OB-GYN.

Wisconsin Watch’s Phoebe Petrovic, reporting on December 1, explains, “The law passed in 1997 amid a national ‘crack baby’ hysteria, which in later decades, was scientifically debunked. Longitudinal studies found that children exposed to cocaine in-utero did not vary cognitively or developmentally from children who were not exposed…. Wisconsin Watch spoke with two obstetricians with experience treating pregnant people with substance use disorder, along with leaders of one treatment facility, to explore what the state’s approach to this population could look like in the absence of Act 292.”

READ MORE: The war on drugs is a preview of life without reproductive freedom: columnist

Valerie Vidal is one of 292’s outspoken opponents. Vidal is the CEO of Meta House, a facility and nonprofit in Milwaukee that helps women with substance use problems.

Vidal told Wisconsin Watch, “The laws themselves are criminalizing women who are sick, and ultimately damaging them more by potentially having them be traumatized by a civil detention, instead of getting them access to the care and treatment they may need.”

Hartke argues that substance use is “a medical disease that needs to be treated just like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma.”

The former OB-GYN told Wisconsin Watch, “We have to (help people recover) humanely — nonjudgmentally and with empathy — and we have to do it scientifically and not punitively…. We’re doing all the wrong things.”

READ MORE: Convicted 'Team America' DEA agent says the War on Drugs is 'unwinnable'

Hartke, according to Petrovic, “says she tries to get patients into therapy, assuring them she won’t turn them in. But she advises that if they or their infant test positive for substances around delivery, CPS could take their newborn — showing how avoiding treatment during pregnancy to evade the child welfare system can backfire.”

Dr. Charles Schauberger, known for his expertise on both obstetrics and addiction, also favors a treatment- over-punishment approach.

Schauberger told Wisconsin Watch, “We need to help them learn the skills that they need to be effective parents and productive members of society. Social resources are vitally important and often lacking.”

In 1997, Act 292 was introduced in the Wisconsin State Legislature by State Rep. Bonnie Ladwig, a Republican. Petrovic notes that opponents of the bill, at the time, criticized it for failing to fund treatment programs. Ladwig was dismissive of their concerns, claiming that 292 only targeted pregnant women who refused treatment and didn’t go after those who were seeking treatment. But Vidal believes that 292 has failed from a treatment standpoint.

Vidal told Wisconsin Watch, “It’s fine for decision-makers to say, ‘Well, a pregnant woman using substances should get treatment.’ OK, but then, how are you supporting that woman to navigate the various systems to get her into treatment, so that she’s not losing rights?”

READ MORE: The war on drugs may make student loan relief 'impossible' for some Americans: report

'America’s Unknown Child': Philadelphia police to identify the 'Boy in the Box' after 65 years

On February 25, 1957, the dead body of a boy believed to be between the age of three and six was found in a cardboard box in Philadelphia’s Fox Chase area. Philadelphia police investigated the child’s death extensively but were unable to determine his identity — until now. After 65 years, the Philadelphia Police Department has made a major breakthrough in the case and plans to announce the child’s identity.

The body of the child, who was dubbed “The Boy in the Box” in media reports, was found naked and had been badly beaten, according to the Philadelphia Police Department. The child’s grave is at the Ivy Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, with a headstone describing him as “America’s Unknown Child.” However, a name may be added after his identity is officially announced.

At the location where the child’s body was discovered, a plaque reads, “February 26, 1957, Police Officers Elmer Palmer and Samuel Weinstein responded to the then-rural Susquehanna Road to investigate a report of a body found in a box. There, they discovered the naked, battered body of a small boy believed to be 4-6 years old. This unknown child became known as the ‘Boy in the Box.’ He has never been identified. His case remains open. He is now called 'America's Unknown Child.’”

READ MORE: PA GOP makes one last stand for MAGA after Dems win state House majority for first time in 17 years

The description of Philadelphia’s Susquehanna Road as “then-rural” is important. Fox Chase is in Northeast Philly, which underwent considerable development after World War 2. Although Philadelphia on the whole was densely populated in the 1940s and 1950s, much of the growth and development in Northeast Philly occurred after the War. And if a crime was committed in the area around that part of Susquehanna Road in the past, there wouldn’t have been as great a possibility of witnesses.

Newsweek’s Gerrard Kaonga reports, “The child's body has been exhumed twice, and each time, DNA has been extracted. The most recent DNA sample has allowed authorities to identify the mystery child.”

Linda Tamburri, the secretary and treasurer at Ivy Hill Cemetery, is delighted that there has finally been a major breakthrough in the case.

Tamburri told CBS News, “To have a name on that stone, that's what everybody has been wishing forever. I'm just glad I'm here to actually know I'll see that little boy's name on the stone…. I think it's wonderful. I just wish that the police officers and all the people involved who long passed away were still here to see it because that was one of their goals. And a couple of them said, 'I hope they live long enough to see a name put on there.’”

READ MORE: Progressives win a major victory in Philadelphia — here's how

House Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on 'troubling allegations' against Samuel Alito

The Rev. Rob Schenck, an evangelical pastor and former anti-abortion activist, alleges that back in 2014, he learned of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby weeks before the decision was formally announced — and that he heard about it from evangelical donors and lobbyists Donald and Gayle Wright, who allegedly discussed the case with Justice Samuel Alito and his wife.

The bombshell allegation that Alito or his wife leaked the High Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling comes at a time when public trust in the Court has reached record lows and the Court is still facing widespread condemnation for its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade after 49 years. And the House Judiciary Committee, on Thursday, December 1, announced that it plans to hold a December 8 hearing that will probe Alito’s alleged leak in the Hobby Lobby case.

Journalist Paul Blumenthal, in HuffPost, reports, “The Committee’s announced hearing follows a back-and-forth between the two top committee Democrats overseeing the courts, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), and the Court over the lobbying campaign and the Court’s lack of a binding ethics code. The two lawmakers concluded that the Court refused to answer their questions and threatened to provide the oversight that the Court was not doing for itself.”

READ MORE: Bombshell report on right-wing influence on Supreme Court prompts calls for investigation

Alito has flatly denied that either him or his wife discussed the Court’s Hobby Lobby decision in advance with Donald and Gayle Wright. And Gayle Wright has also denied Schenk’s allegation, saying that it is “patently not true.”

Nonetheless, Sheldon and Johnson believe that Schenk’s allegation needs to be thoroughly investigated. In a statement, the Democratic lawmakers wrote, “If the Court.... is not willing to undertake fact-finding inquiries into possible ethics violations, that leaves Congress as the only forum.”

Blumenthal notes that “a coalition of more than 60 progressive groups, including Demand Justice, Planned Parenthood (and) NARAL Pro-Choice” sent a letter to Whitehouse and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin urging them to hold hearings in the Senate and ask Schenck to testify. The reporter quotes Demand Justice President Brian Fallon as saying, “This scandal is just the latest in a long line of ethical failures the Court itself refuses to deal with. House Judiciary is right to move quickly to investigate, and Senate Democrats should plan to take up the mantle in the new year.”

If Democratic leaders in Congress hold hearings on Schenck’s Hobby Lobby allegations in 2023, it will be in the U.S. Senate rather than the U.S. House of Representatives — as Democrats narrowly lost their House majority in the 2022 midterms but held their majority in the Senate and may even expand that majority if Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock defeats Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a runoff election in Georgia on Tuesday, December 6. The new GOP-led House will be seated on January 3, 2023; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York has been chosen as House minority leader, and the current House minority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, is hoping to become House speaker.

READ MORE: Court disclosure bombshell 'extremely harmful to American politics': legal expert

In a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday night, November 30, Whitehouse said of the U.S. Supreme Court, “We will continue to pursue oversight, including oversight into these latest troubling allegations. The people of the country deserve real answers from justices we trust to wield the power of the highest court in the country. We won’t give up until we get those answers. So, across the street over there, they had better get used to it.”

READ MORE: The Supreme Court is dirty. Time to clean it up

Federal judge orders sanctions for Kari Lake’s legal team in response to voting equipment lawsuit

After Democratic Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs defeated far-right MAGA Republican Kari Lake in Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial election, conservative Republican Gov. Doug Ducey congratulated her and said he looked forward to helping with the transition from a Ducey Administration to a Hobbs Administration. But Lake, a conspiracy theorist and Big Lie promoter who falsely claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump, has refused to concede to Hobbs. And her campaign, in a lawsuit, questioned “the validity of the election results.”

Lake has also been in court attacking the electronic vote-counting equipment used in Arizona. But a federal judge, John J. Tuchi, disagrees with Lake’s claim that the equipment is problematic. And on Thursday, December 1, Tuchi ordered sanctions against Lake’s legal team.

Attorney/journalist Aaron Keller, reporting for Law & Crime on December 1, explains, “The attorneys being sanctioned are not directly named in Thursday’s order, but according to the court docket, Harvard Law School Prof. Alan Dershowitz is Lake’s lead attorney in the matter. Also on her legal team are co-lead attorneys Andrew D. Parker, Jesse Hersch Kibort, and Joseph Alan Pull of Minneapolis. Further listed as a member of her legal team is attorney Kurt B. Olsen of Washington, D.C. Parker, Olsen, and Dershowitz signed the original complaint, an amended complaint, and (an) opposition to a request for sanctions.”

READ MORE: 'The people of Arizona have spoken': Outgoing GOP Governor Doug Ducey congratulates Katie Hobbs

Another far-right MAGA Republican who lost an election in Arizona, State Rep. Mark Finchem, joined Lake as a plaintiff in her lawsuit attacking Arizona’s voting equipment. In the 2022 midterms, Finchem ran for the position that Hobbs presently holds: Arizona secretary of state. And like Lake, he has aggressively promoted the Big Lie and Trump’s debunked voter fraud conspiracy theories. But Finchem lost to Democrat Adrian Fontes. Arizona was once a deep red state, but in 2023, it will have a Democratic governor (Hobbs), a Democratic secretary of state (Fontes) and two Democratic U.S. senators: Mark Kelly (who was reelected in November) and Kyrsten Sinema.

Dershowitz, however, stressed to Law & Crime that he is not questioning the election results in Arizona. And Keller points out that Lake and Finchem’s initial lawsuit questioning Arizona’s electronic voting machines goes back to April.

Dershowitz told Law & Crime, “I have not challenged the results of any Arizona elections. I have given legal advice about the future use of machine counting by companies that refuse to disclose the inner workings of their machines. I support transparency in elections.”

Keller explains, “The Lake/Finchem lawsuit as a whole, according to its opening salvo, sought to question the Grand Canyon State’s use of electronic ballot-counting devices. The case was filed in April, and — as Dershowitz noted — that was long before the results of the November 2022 midterms…. The lawsuit elsewhere bemoaned what it called ‘glaring failures with electronic voting systems’…. U.S. District Judge John J. Tuchi rubbished the lawsuit in August — again, before the midterms — and on Thursday ascertained that sanctions were appropriate. Tuchi, a Barack Obama appointee, noted in August that Arizona election equipment is rigorously tested before it is used to count votes.”

READ MORE: 'Practical Republicans' in Arizona sunk Kari Lake because 'they want government to work': expert

Tuchi laid out the ways in which Arizona’s voting equipment undergoes extensive testing.

Tuchi wrote, “Before a single vote is cast, Arizona’s election equipment undergoes thorough testing by independent, neutral experts. Electronic voting equipment must be tested by both the Secretary’s Certification Committee and an Election Assistance Commission (“EAC”) accredited testing laboratory before it may be used in an Arizona election…. In addition to the equipment certification process, Arizona’s vote tabulation results are subject to four independent audits — two audits occur before the election, and two audits after.”

The judge continued, “The first of these audits is a logic and accuracy test, which is performed by the Arizona Secretary of State on a sample of the tabulation equipment…. The second required audit also takes place before election day. For the second audit, Arizona counties must perform a logic and accuracy test on all of their tabulation equipment.”

Tuchi wrote that Lake’s claims were “too speculative to establish an injury in fact.” Keller notes that the sanctions Tuchi has ordered only apply to the attorneys, not to plaintiffs Lake and Finchem.

The judge also wrote, “The Court shares the concerns expressed by other federal courts about misuse of the judicial system to baselessly cast doubt on the electoral process in a manner that is conspicuously consistent with the plaintiffs’ political ends.”

READ MORE: 'This is who they are': Critics blast Kari Lake for mocking Paul Pelosi after violent assault

'Quit underestimating' him: Newt Gingrich fears Biden has a good shot at being reelected

In the 2022 midterms, President Joe Biden escaped something that plagued the United States’ last two Democratic presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton: a major red wave. The red wave that countless right-wing pundits on Fox News and Fox Business were predicting in the weeks leading up to the November 8 election never materialized. Democrats narrowly lost the U.S House of Representatives but kept their majority in the U.S. Senate and enjoyed gubernatorial victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and other swing states.

The 80-year-old Biden still doesn’t have great approval ratings; a Reuters/Ipsos poll released in late November found approval for Biden at 40 percent, which was an improvement from 36 percent or 37 percent in previous Reuters/Ipsos polls. But then, Obama and President Ronald Reagan also had less-than-stellar approval ratings during their second terms in office. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is warning fellow Republicans to “quit underestimating President Joe Biden.”

In an opinion column published on his Gingrich360 website, Gingrich argued that Biden has a good shot at being reelected in 2024 — an assertion he reiterated during an interview with Axios.

READ MORE: Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are already duking it out in Pennsylvania

On Gingrich360, he wrote, “Republicans must learn to quit underestimating President Joe Biden…. Our aversion to him and his policies makes us underestimate him and the Democrats. But remember: Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan both preferred to be underestimated. Both wanted people to think of them as pleasant — but not dangerous. They found being underestimated was a major asset. While people laughed at them, they were busy achieving their goals and getting their programs implemented.”

Gingrich added, “Biden has achieved something similar. He has spent 50 years in public life, elected to the U.S. Senate at 29 and only eligible to be sworn in after the election in 1972. Biden genially bumbled into becoming a major force in the Senate.”

The former House speaker also argued that Republican “hostility to the Biden Administration…. tends to blind us to just how effective Biden has been on his terms.”

Similarly, Gingrich told Axios, “I was thinking about football and the clarity of winning and losing. It hit me that, measured by his goals, Biden has been much more successful than we have been willing to credit.”

READ MORE: Joe Biden extends student loan payment freeze as 'baseless political lawsuits' threaten aid

Gingrich wasn’t saying that he agrees with Biden’s policies. Rather, his point was that by Democratic standards, Biden has “successful” as president.

Axios’ Mike Allen, who interviewed Gingrich, predicts that if Biden seeks reelection, Democrats will “sell his record” along these lines: “The most significant economic recovery package since Roosevelt.... The largest infrastructure plan since Eisenhower.... The most sweeping gun reform bill since Clinton.... Landmark China competitiveness legislation that's already bringing manufacturing jobs back from overseas.... The largest climate change bill in history.”

Biden still hasn’t said whether or not he will seek a second term in 2024, but according to Allen, a decision may come soon.

Allen reports, “Advisers tell me he hasn't made a formal decision about running again — that'll come over Christmas, ultimately made by him and the first lady. But his friends tell me they think only two things could stop him: health or Jill.”

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis dodges questions about 2024 'Republican civil war' with Donald Trump

Ron DeSantis' 'deeply cringeworthy' autobiography probably signals a presidential run: columnist

Unlike former President Donald Trump, far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not officially announced that he will be running for president in 2024. Trump made his announcement on November 15; DeSantis has yet to make an announcement.

But many political pundits are confident that DeSantis will, like Trump, decide to seek the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. One of them is liberal Vanity Fair columnist Bess Levin.

In her November 30 column, Levin cites DeSantis’ forthcoming autobiography “The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival” as evidence that the Florida governor will probably run. The book has a February 28, 2023 release date on Amazon.

READ MORE: 'A strange no-eye-contact oddball': Who is the real Ron DeSantis?

Other evidence, according to Levin, is DeSantis’ refusal to commit to serving out his second term as Florida governor in its entirety.

“DeSantis’ autobiography is set to be released next February by Broadside Books, the conservative imprint of HarperCollins — which happens to be owned by none other than Rupert Murdoch, who recently all but dumped Donald Trump in favor of the governor,” Levin explains. “While obviously not everyone who writes or has someone ghostwrite a memoir ends up running for president, it’s a time-honored tradition among elected officials gunning for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Levin continues, “What will the tome be titled? Not surprisingly, DeSantis and his publisher have chosen to go with the extremely eye-rolling ‘The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival,’ which has the distinction of not just being deeply cringeworthy, but is also an indication that the book will be filled with lies. While the Florida official likes to boast that his is the freest state in the nation, that claim doesn’t actually hold up in the face of his attempts to stop people from saying the word gay or talking about racism, or his habit of punishing anyone who disagrees with him. But that’s not the only bit of hypocrisy readers can expect from the book!”

Levin goes on to quote an excerpt from DeSantis’ book. The Florida governor, who defeated Democratic challenger Charlie Crist by 19 percent in the 2022 midterms, writes, “What Florida has done is establish a blueprint for governance that has produced tangible results while serving as a rebuke to the entrenched elites who have driven our nation into the ground. Florida is proof positive that we, the people are not powerless in the face of these elites.”

READ MORE: 'He is so done': Ann Coulter doubles down on Republicans to abandon Donald Trump

The Vanity Fair columnist finds it “interesting” that DeSantis is slamming “elites” in light of the fact that he “attended literal bastions of elitism Yale (undergrad) and Harvard (law school)” and “appears to set a record for backing by elitist billionaires.”

Trump has come up with a new name for DeSantis: “Ron DeSanctimonious,” which shows that the former president now views him as a rival. And Trump has been urging DeSantis to stay out of 2024’s presidential race.

The “news” that DeSantis’ book is forthcoming, Levin says with sarcasm, probably “has not gone over well at Mar-a-Lago, where Donald Trump has been sticking pins in a DeSantis-shaped voodoo doll since the midterms.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are already duking it out in Pennsylvania

'Rigged, dishonest bunk': Why liberal lawyers should fight back against this 'fringe legal theory'

As president, Donald Trump vowed to only nominate socially conservative Supreme Court justices who embraced an “originalist” philosophy of jurisprudence, pointing to Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Justice Antonin Scalia as the sort of justices he favored. Some right-wing Republican-appointed High Court justices, although fiscally conservative, turned out to be socially liberal when it came to issues like abortion and gay rights — for example, retired libertarian Justice Anthony Kennedy. Trump, however, wasn’t looking for the next Kennedy.

Trump was looking for the next Thomas or Scalia. And the three justices he appointed (Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett) have been hailed by Fox News pundits as examples of “originalism” or “textualism” in action.

But one media figure who is highly critical of “originalist” or “textualist” ideology is Washington Post opinion columnist Ruth Marcus. In her December 1 column, Marcus slams “originalism” as painfully flawed and warns “liberal lawyers” against buying into it.

READ MORE: The Supreme Court is dirty. Time to clean it up

“Liberal lawyers — and liberal justices, for that matter — risk being caught in an originalism trap,” Marcus explains. “Originalism, the belief that the meaning of the Constitution was fixed at the time it was adopted, is the legal theory that dominates the thinking of this conservative Supreme Court. Not all of the conservative justices are committed originalists. I count four of the six — all but Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and perhaps Samuel A. Alito Jr., who describes himself as a ‘practical originalist.’ But they have all written or joined originalist rulings.”

Marcus continues, “Given that reality, liberals can’t lightly dismiss conservatives’ insistence that the Constitution should be interpreted based strictly on the original meaning of its text. In the current circumstances, liberal advocates appearing before the Court would be remiss not to make an originalist case. But there’s also little evidence, at least in the highest-profile cases, that it will do them much good.”

According to Marcus, “liberal lawyers” who try to use “originalist” arguments to make their case are not competing in a “fair fight” but rather, are up against “conservative justices” who will “cherry-pick competing originalist interpretations that comport with their underlying inclinations.”

“The more liberals present originalist arguments, the more they legitimate originalism rather than refuting it and offering a compelling alternative,” Marcus warns. “Courtroom advocates need to win the case at hand, yet that undermines the more critical long-term effort to wrench the Court away from its reliance on what is, at least as currently practiced, a flawed doctrine that peddles the illusion of impartiality in the service of a conservative result.”

READ MORE: Right-wing Supreme Court justices are dragging the court deeper into a 'crisis of legitimacy': Missouri editorial

Marcus continues, “Because originalism purports to freeze our understanding of the Constitution as written at the end of the 18th Century or amended in the second half of the 19th, it is skewed to a cramped reading of the document, unleavened by modern science and sensibilities. Why should we understand — much less accept — the constitutional meaning as fixed at a time when women lacked the right to vote, when recently enslaved Black people attended segregated schools, when the economy was agrarian, and when the notion of gay rights was unthinkable?”

Originalism, according to Marcus, was a “fringe legal theory” when it started to emerge in the early 1970s as a “reaction to the perceived excesses of the Warren Court.” And she urges “liberal” attorneys and judges to “push back” against originalism rather than pretending that a “flawed approach” has merit.

“Conviction, however sincere, does not make a flawed approach legitimate,” Marcus writes. “And the flaws embedded in originalism are magnified by its use, or misuse, by conservative justices and judges focused on a desired outcome. This brand of originalism isn’t just bunk — it’s rigged, dishonest bunk. The more forcefully liberal lawyers and justices push back on it — the faster they make their way out of the originalism trap — the better.”

READ MORE: Why Samuel Alito’s 'militant Christianity' is a 'problem for the rest of us': journalist

MAGA lame duck Madison Cawthorn reemerges with bizarre, rambling speech against 'soft meterosexuals'

Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina has been keeping a low profile since being voted out of office via a GOP congressional primary in May. The Asheville Citizen Times’ Joel Burgess reported, on November 16, that Cawthorn was missing in action and had “apparently vacated his Washington and district offices nearly two months before the end of his term.”

But the far-right MAGA Republican reemerged on Wednesday, November 30 with a bizarre rant against “meterosexuals” who, in Cawthorn’s mind, aren’t masculine enough.

On the U.S. House floor, the 27-year-old Cawthorn told fellow members of Congress, “Our young men are taught that weakness is strength, that delicacy is desirable, and that being a soft metrosexual is more valuable than training the mind, body and soul. Social media has weakened us, siphoning our men of their will to fight, to rise in a noble manner, square their jaws and charge once more into the breach of life to defend what they love.”

READ MORE: Lame duck Madison Cawthorn has vacated his offices 'nearly two months' before his term ends

Cawthorn continued, “So, on this precipice of disaster, I ask the young men of this nation a question…. Will you reclaim your masculinity? Will you become a man to be feared, to be respected.… Or will you let this nation’s next generation be its final generation?”

Cawthorn’s speech has been drawing its share of ridicule, mockery and negative comments on Twitter.

Twitter user @tousjoursmax53 posted, “Masculinity? I’m not seeing any loss of masculinity. This seems like a thinly veiled insult to anyone who doesn’t fit some outdated cowboy image, and we are much better off without those stereotypes. Grow up cowboy!”

@ProfJulie616 tweeted, “There it is--fear=respect. Toxic masculinity encapsulated in a single sentence.” And @Klock6Jason wrote, “Any one who has to tell you how masculine they are....isn't secure in their masculinity.”

READ MORE: 'We look forward to getting to know you': PAC that unseated Madison Cawthorn targets Lauren Boebert

In 2020, Cawthorn became the youngest person in U.S. history to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. But his hopes of serving a second term were dashed when, in May, he lost a congressional primary to North Carolina State Sen. Chuck Edwards. And Edwards went on to win the general election on November 8, defeating Democratic nominee Jasmine Beach-Ferrara.

Watch Cawthorne's speech below or at this link:

READ MORE: Madison Cawthorn’s GOP challengers are finding plenty of dirt on the ‘public relations train wreck’: report

'Dark times': These Russians are blaming Vladimir Putin for deadly infrastructure failures

In Russia, state-sponsored media outlets have often been cheerleaders for the invasion of Ukraine, which was launched on February 24 on orders from President Vladimir Putin. But the war is by no means universally popular in Russia, where economic sanctions from the Biden Administration and its European allies in the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) have been taking their toll. President Joe Biden has adamantly maintained that there will be no U.S. “boots on the ground” in Ukraine, but stressed that economically, Russia will continue to pay a price for the invasion.

Russia is not only having economic problems during the invasion — it is also having infrastructure problems. And journalist Anna Nemtsova, in an article published by the Daily Beast on December 1, reports that Russians who have been losing heat in frigid temperatures are blaming Putin and the war in Ukraine. As they see it, the war in Ukraine is a much higher priority for Putin and the Kremlin than the wellbeing of people in Russia.

“Russians are being plunged into a bleak winter where power outages and heating failures are already freezing people to death while President Vladimir Putin is choosing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars prosecuting an illegal war in Ukraine instead of helping his own citizens,” Nemtsova reports. “In many of the remote regions where conditions are at their worst, people are also being forced to contribute the most to the war via conscription drives that strip healthy young men out of the local workforce and send them to their deaths on the front line.

READ MORE: 'Kherson is liberated': Why Ukraine's victories could embolden Vladimir Putin to go to extremes

Valentina Melnikova of the Soldiers’ Mothers Committee stressed that many families of young Russians fighting in Ukraine are hurting economically.

Melnikova told the Beast, “They take young men — the only breadwinners — away and send them back in coffins. The guys freeze on the front, get sick, die while their families live in poverty. It seems authorities have no interest left in human lives at this point.”

Nemtsova stresses that losing heat can be deadly during a Russian winter.

“While Russian missile attacks leave Ukraine without water, heating and power, Russia’s own cities — in Siberia, the Altai Mountains, Baikal and Kamchatka — are freezing without central heating,” Nemtsova explains. “The hot water pipeline burst in the center of Abakan, the capital of the Russian republic of Khakasia in Siberia. The crossing of Krylov and Kati Perekreschenko streets disappeared in clouds of steam. The accident meant a disaster for at least 70,000 local people: no hot water, no heating in the freezing -8F.”

READ MORE: Vladimir Putin's 'fundamentalist mindset' could lead him to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine: journalist

Nemtsova continues, “Dozens of people spent the night calling the local emergency hotline on Sunday, asking when their apartment blocks would be warm again. But nobody seemed surprised — worn-down infrastructure and bursting pipes are typical crises in wintertime not only for this part of Siberia, but for dozens of other regions of Putin’s Russia…. People are frustrated that while Moscow spends billions of dollars on the war, they are left to die at home. The Russian regions of Tyumen, Karaganda and Yakutia were among those which reported cases of frost victims in the past week.”

Russia blogger Nikolay Zolotov told the Beast that the war in Ukraine is doing nothing to make life easier in his part of Siberia.

“Dark times,” Zolotov told the Beast. “Ukraine is surviving without heating and light, and here in Khakasia, our life is awfully hard. Bursting pipes is not the worst problem: people live on tiny salaries in a poorly maintained city, without cash to buy food, while our government spends billions on the special operation in Ukraine.”

Nemtsova notes that in 2021, Putin acknowledged that poverty “is our main enemy” in Russia.

“But instead of spending money on fighting poverty this year, the Kremlin found a new enemy and decided to spend around $155 billion of the $315 billion annual state budget on defense and security,” Nemtsova observes. “That meant less money for fixing central heating systems or for figuring out how to install modern plumbing for 35 million Russians who still live without a sewage system and have to rely on freezing outhouses.”

READ MORE: 'Don't want another Chernobyl': Ukrainian nuclear power plant employees face 'a Catch 22 for the ages'

'I thought he was going to beat me': Ex-Herschel Walker girlfriend comes forward with damning new allegations

The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger has done more than his share of bombshell reporting on Herschel Walker in 2022, describing, in elaborate detail, allegations that the U.S. Senate candidate impregnated two different women and wanted them to have abortions — allegations that the MAGA Republican has flatly denied. Sollenberger offers yet another bombshell report on Walker in an article published by the Beast on December 1; this time, the reporter details a former girlfriend’s allegations of violent and abusive behavior.

“A former longtime girlfriend of Republican senatorial candidate Herschel Walker has come forward to detail a violent episode with the football star, who she believes is ‘unstable’ and has ‘little to no control’ over his mental state when he is not in treatment,” Sollenberger explains. “The woman, Dallas resident Cheryl Parsa, described an intimate and tumultuous five-year relationship with Walker in the 2000s, beginning shortly after his divorce and continuing for a year after the publication of his 2008 memoir about his struggle with dissociative identity disorder (DID), once known as multiple personality disorder.”

In Georgia, Walker is trying to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Walker has been campaigning as a severe social conservative, aggressively courting the far-right white evangelical vote and proposing strict abortion bans even in cases of rape or incest. Georgia’s U.S. Senate race shows that truth can be so much stranger than fiction; Rev. Warnock is an ordained Baptist minister, yet white evangelicals are rallying around Walker despite allegations that he has impregnated two women he wasn’t married to, encouraged them to have abortions, committed adultery countless times, and committed acts of domestic violence.

READ MORE: Another woman is stepping forward with a new Herschel Walker abortion claim

Critics of Walker and the Christian Right or Religious Right have been pointing to the race as a textbook example of why they hold the far-right white evangelical movement in such low regard. Walker’s white Republican evangelical supporters, they argue, aren’t about principle; they’ll all about tribalism and power. And Sollenberger’s report on Parsa’s allegations won’t make Walker’s critics any less critical of him.

According to Sollenberger, “Parsa, who has composed a book-length manuscript about her relationship with Walker, says she is speaking out because she is disturbed by Walker’s behavior on the campaign trail, which she claims exhibits telltale flare-ups of the disorder she tried to help him manage for half a decade…. Parsa provided a detailed account of a 2005 incident that turned violent after she caught Walker with another woman at his Dallas condo. She said Walker grew enraged, put his hands on her chest and neck, and swung his fist at her. ‘I thought he was going to beat me,’ she recalled, and fled in fear.”

Parsa didn’t hold back during her interview with the Daily Beast. According to the Dallas resident, Walker uses DID as an “alibi” to “justify lying, cheating, and ultimately destroying families.”

“He’s a pathological liar,” Parsa told the Beast. “Absolutely. But it’s more than that. He knows how to manipulate his disease, in order to manipulate people, while at times being simultaneously completely out of control.”

READ MORE: For white evangelical Protestants, power is religion and Herschel Walker is their vessel

Parsa, Sollenberger reports, is “one of five women who were romantically involved with Walker who spoke to The Daily Beast for this article.”

“All of them described a habit of lying and infidelity — including one woman who claimed she had an affair with Walker while he was married in the 1990s,” Sollenberger explains. “All five women said they were willing to speak to expose the behavior of the man they now see running for Senate…. This is the first time in the campaign that a woman has gone on the record with accusations against Walker. His candidacy, however, has been dogged by other allegations of domestic violence, specifically from a 2008 interview with his ex-wife that resurfaced ahead of his announcement last August.”

Despite all the damning allegations against Walker, it is possible that he will be representing Georgia in the U.S. Senate in 2023. The race has been close. After the November 8 election, Warnock had more votes than Walker. But because Warnock’s lead was less than 50 percent (49.4 percent for Warnock and 48.5 percent for Walker), the race went to a runoff under Georgia’s election rules.

The runoff election is scheduled for Tuesday, December 6. An Emerson College/The Hill poll released on December 1 found Walker trailing Warnock by about 2 percent.

If Warnock is reelected, Democrats will have a 51-seat majority in the U.S. Senate. But if Walker wins, the Senate will have a 50-50 Democratic/Republican split — which will still be a Democratic majority because of Vice President Kamala Harris’ ability to break a tie.

Democratic strategists have been stressing that Walker is unfit to serve in the Senate, and Parsa agrees.

“He is not well,” Parsa told the Daily Beast. “And I say that as someone who knows exactly what this looks like, because I have lived through it and seen what it does to him and to other people. He cannot be a senator. He cannot have control over a state when he has little to no control of his mind.”

READ MORE: 'I live in Texas': Georgia Democrats slam Herschel Walker as a 'carpetbagger' over Dallas home

How 'MAGA culture warriors' have escalated 'threats against teachers and school administrators': study

On Wednesday, November 30, the University of South California, Los Angeles (UCLA) released a report that addresses the effects that MAGA Republicans are having on public education in the United States. The study, titled “Educating for a Diverse Democracy: The Chilling Role of Political Conflict in Blue, Purple, and Red Communities,” was led by UCLA professor John Rogers and University of California, Riverside professor Joseph Kahne.

Washington Post opinion columnist and Never Trumper Jennifer Rubin analyzes the study in her November 30 column, arguing that it paints a damning picture of MAGA Republicans who have been going after schoolteachers and school administrators with a vengeance.

“MAGA culture warriors have heightened their threats against teachers and school administrators,” Rubin explains. “Our public education system is now paying the price. That’s the takeaway from an alarming study from a group of researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of California at Riverside. They found that the ‘virulent stream of hyperpartisan political conflict’ has had ‘a chilling effect on high school education.’”

READ MORE: 'Work doesn’t feel safe': LGBTQ Florida teachers struggle to comply with 'Don’t Say Gay' law

Rubin continues, “Teachers are seeking to avoid controversy by ‘pulling back on teaching lessons in civics, politics, and the history and experiences of America’s minority communities’; incidents of verbal harassment of LGBTQ students are on the rise; and many teachers and administrator are planning to leave their jobs.”

Gay rights and race are two of the main things that MAGA Republicans have been attacking teachers for. Any book that deals with the United States’ painful racial history is likely to be attacked as “critical race theory,” which many MAGA Republicans falsely claim is anti-white.

Rubin notes, “The authors of the report surveyed 682 public high school principals, who confirmed that organized campaigns have attempted to intimidate public schools and force changes to align with right-wing ideology.”

According to the UCLA report, “Our survey data make clear that political conflict over a set of hot button issues occurred at more than two-thirds, 69%, of public schools across the nation during the 2021-2022 school year…. Half of all principals report that parents or other community members sought to limit or challenge teaching and learning about issues of race and racism. Nearly half report challenges to school policies and practices related to LGBTQ student rights.”

READ MORE: 'Prove it': Ron DeSantis hammered for false allegation about teachers

Rubin notes that the report accuses far-right culture warriors of going out of their way to “spread falsehoods, deny civil liberties, and employ hostile and violent rhetoric or intimidating action.”

“The bottom line, according to the study’s authors: Right-wing advocacy organizations and media are impairing the ability of schools to uphold values of ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Rubin warns. “Teachers, principals and school officials can try to manage the swirl of political conflict and demand civility within schools. Many are encouraging students to attend school board meetings and lead their own forums to discuss these issues. But until communities as a whole defend the mission of public education and the ideals of respectful and inclusive debate, teachers and administrators will continue to abandon their profession.”

READ MORE: Wisconsin school district forbids teachers from wearing rainbows or displaying Pride flags

'I live in Texas': Georgia Democrats slam Herschel Walker as a 'carpetbagger' over Dallas home

Regardless of whether the winner in Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff election is incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock or his MAGA Republican challenger Herschel Walker, Democrats will have a majority in the Senate in 2023. But a Warnock victory would mean the difference between the Senate having a 51 Democrats/49 Republicans split and the Senate having a 50/50 split, with Vice President Kamala Harris having the power to step in and break a tie in a really close vote.

Everyone from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to former President Barack Obama has been aggressively promoting Warnock’s reelection campaign and hoping for a 51-seat Senate majority, which would give Democrats more wiggle room when it comes to President Joe Biden’s nominees for cabinet positions or the federal judiciary. Democrats have been using a variety of attacks against Walker, and one of them is that he isn’t a true Georgia resident.

Journalist Martin Pengelly, reporting for The Guardian in an article published on November 30, notes that during a campaign speech earlier this year, Walker said, “I live in Texas.” And CNN recently reported that Walker has been getting a tax break on a home in Dallas — a type of tax break that in Texas, one is eligible for only if that property is the person’s primary residence.

READ MORE: For white evangelical Protestants, power is religion and Herschel Walker is their vessel

According to CNN, Walker was at that Dallas home during four interviews earlier this year.

Pengelly points out that accusations of being an outsider were also used against Republican Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania’s 2022 U.S. Senate race by the Democratic nominee, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

“Republicans have been burned by a similar issue already this year, in another close race vital to control of the Senate,” Pengelly observes. “In Pennsylvania, the Democratic candidate, John Fetterman, focused on questions about whether his opponent, the TV doctor Mehmet Oz, actually lived in New Jersey. Fetterman ultimately won convincingly.”

Anthony Michael Kreis, who teaches law at Georgia State University, told CNN that whether Walker’s true residence is in Georgia or Texas is “more of a political problem than a legal one” for Walker, who “can be painted as a carpetbagger.” And Nikema Williams, who chairs the Georgia Democratic Party, is doing exactly that.

READ MORE: 'Are you kidding me?' Howard Stern blasts Herschel Walker in profanity-filled rant

Williams told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Walker may have “lied about being a Georgia resident” and also said, “Georgians deserve answers, and Walker must be held accountable for his pattern of lies and disturbing conduct.”

READ MORE: Watch: Second woman claims Herschel Walker 'pressured me' to have an abortion

Mitch McConnell doubles down on view that Trump is 'highly unlikely' to defeat a Democrat in 2024

When it comes to former President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been neither a full-fledged Never Trumper nor a MAGA loyalist. McConnell had a convenient but uneasy alliance with Trump during Trump’s four years in the White House, and both of them played a key role in the U.S. Supreme Court’s move to the radical right. One-third of the High Court is now comprised of socially conservative justices who were nominated by Trump and aggressively promoted by McConnell: Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett.

But following the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, there has been considerable bad blood between Trump and McConnell. Trump has repeatedly called for “loser” McConnell to be replaced as Republican leader in the U.S. Senate; McConnell, who usually avoids mentioning Trump by name, obviously believes that he shouldn’t be the GOP presidential nominee in 2024. And McConnell has mentioned Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a possibility.

Trump officially announced his 2024 campaign on Tuesday, November 15. And for McConnell, the controversy that has followed white nationalist Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes’ visit to Mar-a-Lago is yet another reminder that the GOP should look to someone other than Trump as its 2024 presidential nominee.

READ MORE: Conservative details what 'Holocaust denier' Nick Fuentes has in common with 'radical Islamists'

The 24-year-old Fuentes is the founder of the annual America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), which he sees as a white nationalist alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Despite the fact that Fuentes is an unapologetic white nationalist and a Holocaust denier, AFPAC has attracted its share of well-known MAGA Republicans — including former Rep. Steve King, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona. And Fuentes’ racism hasn’t kept him from being on friendly terms with far-right pundit Michelle Malkin (who is Asian-American) and hip-hop star Kanye West, who has been drawing scathing criticism for his recent antisemitic comments.

West’s bizarre and unlikely association with Fuentes recalls white supremacist Tom Metzger, the late founder of White Aryan Resistance (WAR) and a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon, voicing his support for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan during the 1980s. WAR even sent Farrakhan a donation in 1985, and Metzger (who died in 2020) was part of a “white nationalist delegation” that attended a Farrakhan speech.

West was the one who brought Fuentes to Mar-a-Lago. And McConnell, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, November 29, called Trump out without actually mentioning him by name.

The Senate minority leader told reporters, “There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy. And anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States.”

READ MORE: Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes could become the new face of MAGA

Trump, in response, attacked McConnell during a November 29 appearance on Fox News, saying, “Mitch is a loser for our nation and for the Republican Party who would not have been reelected in Kentucky without my endorsement, which he begged me for because he was going down.”

Whether or not Republicans will give Trump the 2024 nomination remains to be seen. Far-right author Ann Coulter is very bullish on DeSantis, arguing that Trump is “so done” in the GOP and that more Republicans than not are fed up with him. But Never Trump conservative Rick Wilson, a co-founder of The Lincoln Project and former GOP strategist, is confident that Trump will receive the 2024 nomination and that he will crush DeSantis in the primary. Wilson believes that even DeSantis is no match for Trump’s “feral sense of cruelty and cunning.”

Wilson takes no pleasure in Trump’s influence on his former party; he has been one of Trump’s most scathing critics on the right and believes that Trump has been terrible for the Republican Party and terrible for the conservative movement.

McConnell, meanwhile, is in no hurry to talk about Trump and his antics. But it isn’t hard to see what the Senate minority leader thinks of Trump’s prospects as a 2024 candidate. Even without mentioning Trump by name, McConnell was, in essence, telling reporters that if Trump becomes the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee, he will most likely lose the general election to a Democrat.

READ MORE: Mitch McConnell beats Rick Scott for control over Senate GOP caucus

'Despicable': Ohio Judge rules far-right tricksters must spend 500 hours registering voters in robocall fraud case

During the 2020 election, the team of Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman — two far-right MAGA activists and conspiracy theorists known for their underhanded stunts — were behind racist robocalls aimed at African-American voters. The robocalls, according to prosecutors, were a blatant attempt at voter suppression, trying to convince Black voters that if they voted by mail, the information they provided could lead to legal consequences for unpaid debts.

But Wohl and Burkman were the ones who ended up facing legal consequences. In late October, both of them pled guilty to a felony count of telecommunications fraud. And on Tuesday, November 29, a sentence was handed down in Ohio by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge John Sutula.

Sutula, according to Cleveland.com reporter Cory Shaffer, “placed” Wohl and Burkman “on two years of probation, fined each $2500 and ordered them to wear GPS ankle monitors with home confinement beginning at 8 p.m. each day for the first six months of their probation.” And they will be required to “spend 500 hours registering voters in low-income neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C., area,” Shaffer reports.

READ MORE: Judge denies far-right tricksters’ request to pause civil voting rights case until criminal case is resolved

The 71-year-old judge had scathing criticism for Wohl and Burkman, telling the MAGA Republicans, “I think it’s a despicable thing that you guys have done” and comparing their racist robocalls of 2020 to efforts to bully and intimidate African-American voters during the 1960s.

Sutula’s ruling was strictly for a case in Ohio. Wohl and Burkman have also been facing criminal charges in Michigan and a civil lawsuit in New York State in connection with their racist robocalls of 2020.

Wohl and Burkman weren’t physically present in Judge Sutula’s courtroom in Ohio, but rather, attended the hearing online. And Wohl told Sutula, “I just really want to express my absolute regret and shame over all of this.” Both of them could have been sentenced to up to a year in prison for telecommunications fraud in the Ohio case.

Shaffer notes, “The charge is connected to thousands of robocalls placed in Cleveland in the run-up to the 2020 election between then-President Donald Trump and the Democratic challenger, Joe Biden. The robocalls came at a time when states across the country had expanded the use of mail-in voting as a protective measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pair gained notoriety in recent years by throwing press conferences to levy phony sexual misconduct allegations against prominent Democrats and Republicans who are critical of former President Donald Trump. They are also charged in Michigan and are being sued by a civil rights organization in federal court in New York over the same robocalls.”

READ MORE: Right-wing fraudsters Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman hit with 15 new felony charges day after testifying in related case

'An existential threat': Legal expert breaks down the Supreme Court case that could radically reshape US elections

On Wednesday, December 7, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Moore v. Harper, a case that deals with partisan gerrymandering and redistricting in North Carolina as well as a far-right legal idea known as the independent state legislature theory (often abbreviated as ISL). It is the ISL part that has civil libertarians especially worried; the ISL, in its most severe form, argues that only state legislatures should be allowed to govern the administration of elections in individual states — not governors, not judges, not state supreme courts.

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the ISL over the years. But civil libertarians and legal experts fear that if the radical-right 2022 edition of the High Court accepts the ISL as valid, it could have dire consequences for democracy in the United States. Imagine a scenario in which a Democratic presidential candidate wins Wisconsin, for example, in 2024 or 2028 but MAGA Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature want to give the state’s electoral votes to the Republican nominee who lost; such a scenario, according to civil libertarians and experts on constitutional law, is not far-fetched if the High Court accepts the ISL in its most radical form.

Moore v. Harper isn’t about former President Donald Trump per se. But in an article published by The Atlantic on November 29, legal expert Quinta Jurecic (who is a fellow at the Brookings Institution) emphasizes that the case reflects the influence of Trump and his MAGA movement.

READ MORE: How a pending Supreme Court case could determine whether US democracy 'lives or dies': legal expert

“At the center of Moore is a ruling by the North Carolina Supreme Court throwing out an aggressively gerrymandered congressional map put together by the state’s Republican legislature, which the Court found violated the state constitution,” Jurecic explains. “The GOP lawmakers are now challenging that ruling before the Supreme Court, arguing that, under the independent state legislature theory, the state court lacked the authority to involve itself in the legislature’s work…. The Constitution gives states the power to decide how they select members of Congress and pick presidential electors.”

Jurecic continues, “Proponents of the independent state legislature theory build their argument around the fact that the specific constitutional text in question refers not to states generally, but instead, to ‘the legislatures thereof.’ Thus, they argue, when administering federal elections, state legislatures are, to some extent, exempt from normal constraints; under this theory, other state-level entities, such as courts and election officials, would be restricted in their ability to check the legislature or act without its approval…. Moore involves only the constitutional language concerning the selection of members of Congress, but a Supreme Court ruling adopting some iteration of the independent state legislature theory could shape how federal courts understand state administration of presidential elections as well.”

The ISL, Jurecic notes, is highly controversial in legal circles. For example, Eric Holder, who served as U.S. attorney general under President Barack Obama, has warned that Moore — depending on how the High Court rules — could pose “an existential threat to our democracy.” And Rick Hasen, an expert on election law, has warned that “a muscular reading of the independent state legislature theory would provide a fig leaf for state legislators to try to reverse presidential election results and overturn the will of the people in a presidential election.”

Jurecic points out that “Trump’s attempted coup in 2020 depended in part on a bizarre overextension” of the ISL.

READ MORE: Robert Reich warns of Supreme Court case that could give GOP-led states 'total power over our democracy'

“John Eastman, the legal scholar advising Trump on the president’s efforts to overturn the election, proposed, in a now-notorious memo, that the Constitution provided legislatures in swing states with the power to simply toss out (Joe) Biden electors in favor of slates supporting Trump,” Jurecic observes. “Eastman himself has filed an amicus brief in Moore, though it is far less outrageous — adopting the maximalist view of the independent state legislature theory instead of his previous, even more extreme interpretation.”

Jurecic wraps up her piece by writing that “the picture is not entirely bleak” when it comes to Moore v. Harper and the wellbeing of U.S. democracy.

“The results of the 2022 midterms substantially limited the ability of election deniers to upend the 2024 presidential vote: Swing-state voters rejected Trump-backed candidates for governor and secretary of state who had expressed a willingness to meddle with elections going forward,” Jurecic explains. “And if the lame-duck Congress can pass reforms to the Electoral Count Act, the statute that governs Congress’ certification of the electoral vote and that Trump sought to exploit on January 6, this would close off avenues for rogue state legislatures operating under an extreme understanding of the independent state legislature theory to disrupt the 2024 certification. Still, Moore is a reminder of just how wobbly the guardrails protecting American democracy have become.”

READ MORE: Are SCOTUS Republicans in on a plot to end Democratic presidencies forever?

'Trees for the forest': Journalist lays out 10 reasons Herschel Walker is 'so appealing' to Republicans

If incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock defeats Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia in December, Democrats will expand their U.S. Senate majority from 50 to 51. Democrats will still have a majority even if Walker wins, but having 51 votes instead of 50 would give Democrats more wiggle room when it comes to nominations from President Joe Biden for federal judges or members of his administration. And Republicans have been campaigning aggressively for Walker in the hope of flipping a Democrat-held seat.

Madison, Wisconsin-based journalist Bill Lueders, in a listicle published by the conservative website The Bulwark on November 29, lays out ten reasons why Republicans “find” Walker “so appealing.” On the surface, it seems that Lueders is listing positive attributes. But Lueders’ piece is humorous, and anyone who picks up on his sarcasm will see that he is actually listing ten reasons why Walker shouldn’t be elected to the U.S. Senate.

The attributes that Lueders lists are: (1) “His reach exceeds his grasp, thus confirming the need for heaven,” (2) “He’s not afraid to be politically incorrect,” (3) “He’s not afraid to be just plain incorrect,” (4) “He knows how to put the best face on a situation,” (5) “He can take a complicated issue and sort it all out,” (6) “He doesn’t miss the trees for the forest,” (7) “He’s dealt with some big personal problems,” (8) “He’s flexible in his thinking,” (9) “He’s all about family,” and (10) “He makes people of color want to be Republicans.”

READ MORE: For white evangelical Protestants, power is religion and Herschel Walker is their vessel

Much of the anti-Walker commentary published by the Never Trump conservatives at The Bulwark has been blunt and forceful. Lueders, however, gets his points across with subtle sarcasm.

With #5, for example, Lueders hails Walker’s “uncanny grasp of the science of climate change,” then goes on to quote Walker as saying, “Since we don’t control the air, our good air decides to float over to China’s bad air. So, when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So, it moves over to our good air space. Then, now, we got to clean that back up.”

Lueders isn’t really praising Walker’s “grasp” of climate change, but rather, is mocking his comments on the subject. Similarly, Lueders mocks Walker’s “flexibility” on the abortion issue with #8.

“Ralph Waldo Emerson once mused that ‘a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,’” Lueders writes. “Walker is nothing if not inconsistent. He has called for a ban on all abortions, with ‘no exceptions.’ Yet he seems to have made exceptions for the two women who have come forward, with substantiating evidence, to say that Walker, after getting them pregnant, pressured them into getting abortions and paid for the procedures. Walker has denied both allegations, adding, ‘And I also want to let you know I didn’t kill JFK, either.’ Such nimbleness would surely serve him well in the U.S. Senate.”

READ MORE: 'Are you kidding me?' Howard Stern blasts Herschel Walker in profanity-filled rant

With #9, Lueders’ point is that Walker preaches family values but doesn’t practice what he preaches.

“Walker has identified fatherless Black families as a ‘major, major problem’ and importuned dads to not drop out of their children’s lives, saying: ‘If you have a child with a woman, even if you have to leave that woman …. you don’t leave that child,’” Lueders explains. “Yet he’s left at least three children to grow up, for the most part, without him.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, campaigning for Walker, recently commented that Democrats are “scared to death of Herschel Walker” because if he wins, “every other young child in America of color might want to be a Republican.”

With #10, Lueders sarcastically writes, in response to Graham, “Yes, that must be exactly what they’re thinking. In sum, it’s little wonder that leading Republicans are thrilled by the prospect of having Herschel Walker join the world’s greatest deliberative body, representing the party of Lincoln with the thoughts that he’ll be thinking. The people of Georgia have the chance to make this happen. Will they seize this opportunity, with all of its power and promise, or fumble it away?”

READ MORE: Rick Scott asked for an 'emergency donation' to Herschel Walker — and kept most of the money for the NRSC

'Abusing her position': Mehdi Hasan explains why Sinema will have to 'play a little nicer' if Warnock is reelected

Democrats learned that they would be keeping their majority in the U.S. Senate when Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was reelected in Nevada, and they will be slightly expanding that majority if incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock defeats Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia. MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan, during a Sunday night, November 27 commentary, laid out some reasons why a 51-seat majority would be better for Democrats in 2023 than a 50-seat majority. And one of them, Hasan argued, is the fact that centrist Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona will have less power.

“Sinema, in my opinion, has been abusing her position as a swing vote, a swing senator, throwing her weight around in a 50/50 Senate to stall the Democratic Party’s agenda at every turn,” the progressive Hasan told viewers. “Before the midterm elections, the Senate was split down the middle, 50/50. That meant that Democrats needed every single one of their senators to vote together, with Vice President Kamala Harris then acting as the tie-breaker in order to get anything passed. So, by threatening to defect —by threatening not to vote with her party — Kyrsten Sinema, as well as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, could hold any Democratic Party legislation hostage.”

Hasan added, however, that Sinema’s “sway over” fellow Senate Democrats “may be coming to an end” if Warnock is reelected and Democrats end up with a 51-seat U.S. Senate majority. Republicans, in that scenario, would be a 49-seat minority in the Senate.

READ MORE: Reelecting Raphael Warnock in 2022 is key to defeating Donald Trump and the GOP in 2024

“So, instead of having to beg both Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin for support all the time, Democrats would only need one of them,” Hasan told viewers. “And while they’re both up for reelection in 2024, only one of them, Kyrsten Sinema, is running for reelection in an increasingly purple state…. Even without a Warnock win, Sinema might need to play a little nicer with her Democratic colleagues in D.C. in order to boost her support with the party base back at home in Arizona. Otherwise, she’s going to face a grueling primary come 2024. And let’s be honest, she deserves to.”

Hasan made his point by bringing on Rep. Rubén Gallego, a liberal Arizona Democrat who was reelected in the 2022 midterms and is being mentioned as a possible primary challenger for Sinema in 2024. Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville has said that if Gallego challenges Sinema in a Senate primary, he will support him.

Gallego told Hasan that he hasn’t decided whether or not he will run for the U.S. Senate but told Hasan he will “have my answer in 2023.”

Although Democrats kept their Senate majority in the midterms, they lost their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. And Gallego is expecting the worst from the new GOP House majority that will be seated in January 2023.

READ MORE: 'She did nothing': Ruben Gallego blasts Kyrsten Sinema for letting fellow Democrats down in the midterms

“This is what they’re going to do for the next two years — it’s just a series of gimmicks and tribunals, essentially,” Gallego told Hasan. “Because they don’t have solutions. They’re not going to be able to govern unless they just kind of give more bread and circuses to their own party, which is going to be the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Lauren Boeberts of the world. They have no solution to help bring down inflation; they have no solution to actually help health care be cheaper and more affordable. If anything, they’re going to try to make it worse. So, what they’re going to do is do these types of gimmicks.”

Watch the video below or at this link:

READ MORE: Why a Kyrsten Sinema primary challenge looks 'more and more likely': reporter

Conservative details what 'Holocaust denier' Nick Fuentes has in common with 'radical Islamists'

Many right-wing pundits are deeply resentful whenever far-right Christian nationalists are compared to far-right Islamist groups like al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Boko Haram. As they see it, Christian nationalists are incapable of the sort of violent extremism that the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden favored — a perspective that ignores the countless acts of domestic terrorism that white racists have committed in the United States over the years.

But one conservative who isn’t afraid to make a white nationalist/radical Islamist comparison is Daily Beast opinion columnist Matt Lewis. In a November 29 column, the Never Trump journalist describes some of the parallels between white nationalist Nick Fuentes’ beliefs and the beliefs of radical Islamists like al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Former President Donald Trump, who is seeking the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee, has been drawing widespread criticism for having a dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Fuentes — the 24-year-old Holocaust denier, Christian nationalist and incel who holds the annual America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC). Fuentes views AFPAC as a white nationalist alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and his event has attracted well-known MAGA Republicans who include Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, former Rep. Steve King and Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers.

READ MORE: GOP lawmaker faces deep scrutiny for excusing Trump’s controversial meeting with Nick Fuentes

Ironically, one of Fuentes’ allies is far-right pundit Michelle Malkin, who is Asian-American yet openly associates with white nationalists. And equally bizarre is the fact that hip-hop star Kanye West is the one who brought Trump and Fuentes together at Mar-a-Lago.

In his November 29 column, Lewis explains, “I spent this weekend re-reading Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book on al Qaeda, ‘The Looming Tower,’ which opens with the origin story of the influential radical Islamist Sayyid Qutb. With one eye on Qutb, and the other on news about white nationalist Nick Fuentes, who dined with Donald Trump last week, it became clear that the two revolutionaries have a lot in common — and not just regarding their obvious shared antisemitism, either.”

Lewis outlines some of the parallels between Qutb and Fuentes, who he describes as a “24-year-old vlogger, a white supremacist, and a January 6 cheerleader” who “thinks Trump should have issued a blanket pardon for the Capitol rioters” and “floated the idea of killing legislators who certified Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory.”

“He’s also a Hitler fan who is also a Holocaust denier,” Lewis observes. “Even though Fuentes has railed against Muslims, his views are not that dissimilar from those of Qutb. Like Qutb, Fuentes is obsessed with women and sex — specifically, not having sex with women…. In his videos, Fuentes doesn’t just rail against gay marriage or trans athletes — issues that mainstream conservatives might oppose. Nor does he just go after birth control, contraceptives, and internet pornography. His vision of a good society looks like one where ‘women don’t have the right to vote,’ ‘women (are) wearing veils at church,’ and ‘women (aren’t) in the workforce.’”

READ MORE: 'His own worst enemy': Even Pat Boone doesn’t want Trump as a 2024 presidential candidate

Those positions, Lewis points out, are the same positions one finds in severe Islamist Sharia law.

“Remember all those Republicans who worried that Sharia law was coming to America?” Lewis explains. “Well, it turns out, they were right! Sort of.”

Fuentes isn’t Muslim. Nor is he a Protestant evangelical, although he identifies with Christian nationalism. Rather, Fuentes favors a severe and extreme form of Catholicism — one the vast majority of Catholics reject.

Lewis quotes Fuentes as saying, “I want this country to have Catholic media, Catholic Hollywood, Catholic government. I want this to be a Catholic-occupied government, not a Jewish-occupied government.”

Lewis writes, however, that as someone who is a “very flawed but committed Christian” as well as a conservative, he has found left-wing comparisons of evangelical Protestants and “radical Islamists” to be “overwrought and offensive.” But in the case of Fuentes, Lewis adds, the Islamist comparison fits.

“Prior to 2016,” Lewis argues, “the notion that someone like Fuentes would be a prominent political voice in America, much less someone who dined with the former Republican president, also seemed outlandish. Donald Trump’s election inspired and mainstreamed many radical and foreign ideas that were not really represented in American political thought. We can only imagine what will happen if he gets another four years in the White House.”

READ MORE: 'Not accidental': GOP governor admonishes Donald Trump for dining with Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes

'His own worst enemy': Even Pat Boone doesn’t want Trump as a 2024 presidential candidate

Pat Boone, now 88, went from being a major teen idol, pop star and actor during the 1950s and 1960s to being a far-right conspiracy theorist and an outspoken ally of the Christian Right and far-right White evangelical fundamentalists. The Jacksonville, Florida native supported former President Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020, but now, following the 2022 midterms, Boone is hoping that Trump won’t be the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee.

During an interview with the Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove published on November 29, Boone said, “If Trump were to ask my advice, I would ask him not to run…. I don’t think there are enough Republicans who would vote for him so he could be elected. But he was his own worst enemy in his manner and his speech. And he made so many enemies that, while he could be a great president again if he muted his speech and all of that — which I’m not sure he’s capable of — I would advise him, ‘Please don’t run. I think you will divide the Republican Party even more.’ Sure, there are a few million people that will support him no matter what. But I think — because of the implacable, unmovable enemies he’s created, even in the Republican Party — that he would not be elected.”

On November 15, Trump officially announced that he is running for president again and is seeking the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination. It was an announcement that some well-known Republicans who supported Trump in the past didn’t welcome. Clearly, author Ann Coulter, Fox News leader Rupert Murdoch and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would much rather have Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2024.

READ MORE: 'He is so done': Ann Coulter doubles down on Republicans to abandon Donald Trump

The fact that Boone wishes Trump would stay out of the 2024 presidential race doesn’t mean that he has moderated his political or religious views. Boone is not a Mainline Protestant; he is very much in the far-right evangelical camp, and he is still a big promoter of conspiracy theories — including the racist and thoroughly debunked “birther” theory, which claims that former President Barack Obama wasn’t really born in the United States but rather, Kenya, and isn’t a U.S. citizen. In fact, Obama’s birth certificate shows that he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961 (two years after Hawaii obtained full statehood).

“In our chat…. (Boone) promoted the discredited conspiracy theory that the FBI identified Antifa operatives leading the January 6, 2021, insurrection — a bats**t assertion denied by no less than FBI Director Christopher Wray — and suggested Biden’s 2020 election victory benefited from voting machine ‘chicanery,’” Grove reports. “He told me that Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor George Soros — who, according to Federal Election Commission records, donated $128 million to Democrats running in the 2022 midterms — tried to subvert the midterms…. And more than six years after even birther-in-chief Donald Trump, at the height of his 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, acknowledged that then-President Obama was born in the U.S., Boone continues to argue otherwise.”

Grove adds, “Boone told me he hasn’t changed his views since September 2011, when he claimed on camera, among other counterfactual assertions, that during a post-2008 election visit to Kenya, people kept telling him that the 44th president was born there, that Obama’s African grandmother admitted to having been present at Obama’s birth in Mombasa, and that the president’s long-form birth certificate — identifying his birthplace on August 4, 1961 as Honolulu’s Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital — was ‘a Photoshopped fraud.’”

Grove notes that Boone and his 66-year-old daughter, pop singer Debby Boone, have had major disagreements over gay rights. Debby Boone, best known for her hit 1977 adult contemporary ballad “You Light Up My Life,” has recorded Christian albums but has been openly critical of her father’s anti-gay rights positions and walked the red carpet at the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards.

READ MORE: 'Lowest common denominator': Donald Trump is ignoring advisers' requests to denounce Nick Fuentes

Pat Boone told Grove, “She came out in a gay magazine and said she was ‘taught error’ growing up. So, I sat her down on this couch in this room and said, ‘Honey, you know I love you. You’re blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh. I’ll love you till I die and beyond. I’ll do anything I can for you, but do you realize you’ve broken the Fifth Commandment?.... Honor your father and mother.’”

READ MORE: 'Better late than never': Former GOP insider offers 'DeSantis fangirls' some 'Never Trump' advice

'Better late than never': Former GOP insider offers 'DeSantis fangirls' some 'Never Trump' advice

There are major differences between hardcore Never Trump conservatives and Republicans who were Donald Trump allies or supporters in the past but are now hoping that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or another Republican will be the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee — a group that includes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, media mogul and Fox News leader Rupert Murdoch, former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and author Ann Coulter.

Never Trumpers like attorney George Conway, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, Washington Post columnists George Will and Max Boot and The Lincoln Project’s Rick Wilson have been consistently scathing in their condemnation of the former president and the MAGA movement. But the Republicans who are now jumping on the “DeSantis for president” bandwagon were among Trump’s defenders or apologists in the past; now, they are supporting DeSantis because they see him as more electable than Trump.

Tim Miller, a former GOP operative who has long been in the Never Trump camp and supported Joe Biden in 2020’s presidential election, addresses the “DeSantis fangirls” in a humorous open letter published by The Bulwark on November 29. Miller’s letter is full of biting sarcasm; he is obviously in no hurry to forgive them for the years they spent as Trump apologists, and Miller believes they have come to the anti-Trump party much too late.

READ MORE: 'He is so done': Ann Coulter doubles down on Republicans to abandon Donald Trump

Miller prefaces his open letter by describing the Republicans who are now promoting DeSantis as a possible presidential candidate.

“In 2024, the chosen one will be Gov. Ron DeSantis,” Miller sarcastically writes. “It has thus been decreed by the old-guard members of Conservative Inc. Or at least the ones calculating enough to have survived the MAGA takeover. Rupert has dubbed him DeFuture. Republican hedge fund donors have taken their Trump tax cut and run. National Review is indistinguishable from a DeSantis Fanzine, lavishly extolling his virtues and wagging their finger at anyone who dares challenge their precious. Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire is not any less effusive and is already cashing in on the new bell cow.”

The Never Trumper continues, “To be honest, I understand this calculation. DeSantis is the golden ticket. He’s the one weird trick that will make all their Trump troubles go away without their having to suffer any additional political pain or consequences from having made a deal with the Devil. DeSantis 2024 will let them be members in good standing on the team again. He will eradicate any nagging doubts about whether they were empowering a man who might bring the constitutional republic they claim to love to its knees.”

Miller goes on to offer “residents of DeSantistan” his open letter.

READ MORE: 'Been to this party too many times': Rick Wilson predicts GOP will nominate Donald Trump in 2024

“It’s nice to hear from you,” Miller tells DeSantis supporters. “I notice you have had some harsh words for Mr. Trump of late. You might even think he’s a Bad Orange Man? Concur! So lucky for you to have been awoken from your torpor on this matter at the most convenient time imaginable. Before we get to the meat of my correspondence, I do have to mention that we missed having you on board these past few annums: During the 2016 general election, Impeachment One, the 2020 Republican primary, the 2020 general election, the alarming interregnum, the 2021 Georgia run-off, Impeachment Two, opposing the Trump election deniers in the 2022 midterms, and the recent FBI raid on the former president’s home. Better late than never.”

Miller lists some of the things that, as an “OG” Never Trumper, he will not do if DeSantis runs for president.

Miller tells DeSantis supporters, “I will not be a human shield for Ron to protect him from all the hard, and not so hard, questions about Donald Trump…. I will not give him a pass when he refuses to provide an answer, any answer, about whether or not he thinks Donald Trump’s coup attempt was a good thing or a bad thing…. I will not practice strategic silence while he exhibits every single behavior of enablement and collaboration with the crazy that got us to Donald Trump in the first place…. I will not pretend that he isn’t anti-vaxcurious, didn’t hire an anti-vax surgeon general, and didn’t oversee a spike in COVID deaths after a life-saving vaccine was available.”

When Miller concludes his open letter, it’s obvious that he believes some of DeSantis’ supporters will turn around and support Trump if he is the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee.

“If these terms aren’t amenable because you’d rather have us as foils to curry favor with your MAGA pals —well, that’s fine, too,” Miller tells DeSantis supporters. “And I understand that you have to preserve your viability in case the DeSantis thing doesn’t work out. So, in the meantime, good luck with the fanzine, hope Ron makes the maneuvering easy for ya out there on the trail. Tim.”

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis’ lack of 'bipartisan success' is the key to his popularity with MAGA voters: columnist

'Safety is disappearing': Racist 'Great Replacement' theory targets Fargo's Liberian immigrants

The Great Replacement theory has not only achieved prominence among White supremacist and White nationalist groups — it has been enthusiastically promoted by some prominent Republicans, from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson to Rep. Elise Stefanik of Upstate New York. And in Fargo, North Dakota, according to Washington Post reporter Danielle Paquette, it is having real-life consequences for some Liberian immigrants who now fear for their safety.

Paquette, in an article published on November 28, reports that Manny Behyee and other Liberian immigrants in Fargo have “tried to keep a low profile since someone — a stranger? a neighbor? — distributed hundreds of fliers labeling them a threat to White children.”

“A mile away, people woke up one September morning to small plastic bags on their lawns containing a picture of a Liberian man who had recently been convicted of killing a 14-year-old girl in Fargo,” Paquette reports. “The caption invoked a racist theory that foreigners of color are ‘replacing’ White Americans in the United States: ‘THE GREAT REPLACEMENT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.’ The victim’s father had appeared in court with who he called ‘pro-White advocates.’ Anti-Black stickers and graffiti showed up on streetlights and buildings, including the international grocery store where Behyee shopped.”

READ MORE: 'Their electoral strategy': Tucker Carlson stokes fear among viewers while blaming Dems for 'Great Replacement' theory

Paquette notes that Behyee, a 37-year-old hospital chef, immigrated to the United States after surviving “two civil wars” in Liberia — only to fear for his safety in Fargo.

Behyee told the Washington Post, “I came here for safety. It feels like the safety is disappearing.”

The Great Replacement theory has origins in France, where White nationalist Renaud Camus’ book “Le Grand Remplacement” (“The Great Replacement”) was published in 2011. According to Camus’ conspiracy theory, French liberals and progressives were making a concerted effort to “replace” Whites with non-White immigrants in France. And the Great Replacement theory made its way to the United States, where it quickly caught on among White nationalists and White supremacists.

Carlson and Stefanik have promoted their own version of the Great Replacement theory, claiming that Democrats are trying to replace Americans with voters from other countries in the hope that they’ll vote Democrat.

READ MORE: The racist ‘Great Replacement’ theory is now ‘mainstream’ Republican thought

“Behyee wasn’t sure what ‘Great Replacement’ meant until he asked a co-worker,” Paquette notes. “The definition bewildered him: People actually believed that Western elites, controlled by Jews, were plotting a ‘migrant invasion’ to wrest power from conservative White voters? The theory hinged on the idea that all Black immigrants backed Democrats, which he found laughable: Behyee hoped to vote for Donald Trump in 2024. A Lutheran charity had brought most of his Liberian friends to North Dakota so they could live in peace — not fulfill the electoral bidding of imaginary puppet masters.”

Paquette adds, “Behyee’s exasperation — ‘ridiculous! just ridiculous!’ — chilled to fear upon reading about the mass shooters who have referenced the Great Replacement.”

READ MORE: There is a real 'Great Replacement' – but it’s not the one the right-wing talks about

How billionaire GOP megadonors are funding a major 'hub for election denial': report

In an article published on November 3, the Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger reported that “nearly 80 percent” of the $1.7 million that right-wing shipping magnates Dick and Elizabeth Uihlein donated to Republican candidates “between January 7, 2021 and August 31, 2022” went to “campaigns or committees tied to the 147 Republicans who voted, on January 6, (2021), to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory.” But their fondness for MAGA election denialists, according to Sollenberger, goes beyond donations.

Sollenberger, writing for the Beast in an article published on November 28, reports that in 2021, Arizona Republican Party Vice Chair Gina Swoboda was hired as executive director for “the Uihlein-backed dark money nonprofit Restoration Action Inc.” Her salary was $108,750 per year.

“Swoboda, a former Trump campaign official and the vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party, is now leading a misguided charge against the ballot count in that state on behalf of GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake,” Sollenberger explains. “Swoboda currently serves as ‘election integrity’ coordinator for Lake, whose repeated false claims of voter fraud have ingratiated her to former President Donald Trump and who still refuses to acknowledge her election loss to (Democratic Arizona Secretary of State) Katie Hobbs.”

READ MORE: 'Another criminal voting operation': Donald Trump demands Kari Lake be 'installed' as Arizona governor

The Beast reporter continues, “After the election, Lake promoted Swoboda’s appearance on a right-wing podcast. In addition to hiring Swoboda, the filing shows Restoration Action’s accounts swelling for the second year in a row. According to the filing, in the 12 months following the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Restoration Action’s revenue topped $20.5 million — double what the group raised in 2020, and light years beyond its $64,000 haul in 2019.”

Sollenberger notes that Restoration Action is “tied to the larger Restoration of America network, funded almost exclusively by the Uihleins.”

Brendan Fischer, who serves as deputy executive director of the watchdog group Documented, told the Beast, “Restoration Action is a hub for election denial, including funding some of the key players pushing election falsehoods in Arizona at the moment. This is a reminder that there’s big money behind the push to undermine democracy. Through Restoration Action and other entities, an array of groups pushing election conspiracy theories are backed by literally tens of millions of dollars from just one billionaire couple.”

Restoration America, according to Sollenberger, “also threw $600,000 to the super PAC affiliated with January 6 rally organizer Tea Party Patriots” and “another $1.5 million…. to the Lawyers Democracy Fund, a conservative dark money group that advocates for changes in election law.”

READ MORE: These GOP megadonors are showing an 'overwhelming' preference for far-right 'election deniers': report

“The group sent another half a million to Fight Voter Fraud, which has also pushed baseless claims of election malfeasance, including in 2021,” Sollenberger reports. “Another recipient, the Liberty Initiative Fund, donated $675,000 to a group fighting for more restrictive voter ID requirements in Michigan. That Michigan group raised $2.2 million total, with $1.5 million coming from Uihlein himself.

READ MORE: 'Selling the Big Lie': Reporter unloads on Kari Lake after her campaign ends in defeat

'He is so done': Ann Coulter doubles down on Republicans to abandon Donald Trump

For months, far-right author Ann Coulter has been saying that the Republican Party needs to abandon former President Donald Trump and look to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2024 election. And with Trump having officially announced that he is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Coulter is doubling down on her assertion that Trump has become a major liability for the GOP.

Coulter isn’t the only well-known Republican who is hoping that Trump won’t be the GOP’s next presidential nominee. Others include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

During a late November discussion on SubStack, Coulter argued, “No, don’t tell me, ‘Oh, you’re voting for Mitch McConnell or Romney if you’re for DeSantis.’ No, DeSantis is the true right-winger. Trump is the j*****s RINO.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are already duking it out in Pennsylvania

Coulter, during the conversation, pushed back against the view that Trump maintains a firm grip on the Republican Party even after its many disappointments in the 2022 midterms — which found a long list of Trump-backed MAGA candidates losing to Democrats.

“He is so done,” Coulter remarked. “He is on his last legs…. There are so few Trump diehards…. Trump won’t be the nominee.”

One anti-Trump conservative who clearly doesn’t share that view is Lincoln Project co-founder and former GOP strategist Rick Wilson. The Never Trumper, during a late November interview with The Guardian, predicted that Trump will be the Republican Party’s 2024 nominee and crush DeSantis in the primary.

Wilson told The Guardian, “Has Ron DeSantis been to the rodeo? Has he been out there in the fight? Has he actually faced up against a full campaign of the brutality and the cruelty that Donald Trump will level against him? He has not. It’s like he’s walked onto the field onto third base and thought he hit a grand slam home run…. Even Trump in a weakened state still has an innate feral sense of cruelty and cunning that Ron DeSantis does not have.”

READ MORE: 'Been to this party too many times': Rick Wilson predicts GOP will nominate Donald Trump in 2024

Wilson commented that whenever a pundit claims that the GOP is ready to move on from Trump, it doesn’t happen. “I’ve just been to this f*****g party too many times now,” Wilson told The Guardian.

Interviewed by Newsweek, Coulter compared Trump’s 2024 campaign to his activities in 2012.

Coulter told Newsweek, “They've been saying, 'It's 2016, again' through three losing election cycles. No, it's 2012, again. That's when Trump tried to run for president by activating the crazies, crashed and burned. 2016 was the exception, when — instead of birtherism or a stolen election — he ran on my book, ‘Adios, America!’ Then, he blew off his promises on immigration, and went right back to his losing streak."

Watch Coulter’s SubStack discussion below or at this link:

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis dodges questions about 2024 'Republican civil war' with Donald Trump

Why Xi Jinping may not need 'the use of force' to 'assault' Taiwan: national security expert

Critics of President Xi Jinping and his allies in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have not only been complaining about their aggression in Hong Kong — they also fear a military invasion of Taiwan. But according to Stephen Peter Rosen, who focuses on military and national security matters at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an “invasion” of Taiwan by Chinese Communist Party officials in Beijing wouldn’t necessarily be a military invasion.

“Sun Tzu wrote that the acme of strategy is to win without fighting,” Rosen writes in an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on November 28. “It is worth gaming out how Xi Jinping, the head of the Communist Party of China (CCP), might contemplate trying to win Taiwan without fighting for it. Xi has not hidden his ambitions with regard to Taiwan, but a war would be costly for China and risky for him. What he would need to do, in order to fulfill Sun Tzu’s maxim, would be to create a situation in which, confronted with Chinese pressure on Taiwan, an American president would calculate that the use of force was not an option.”

These days, the Chinese Communist Party is really communist in name only. Mainland China had a full-fledged communist government during the era of Mao Tse Tung, but what the officials in Beijing favor in 2022 is really a mixture of crony capitalism and strict authoritarianism. And Jinping’s critics fear that he would like to extend that authoritarianism to Taiwan.

READ MORE: China's geopolitical inroads into Central Asia are coming at Russia’s expense

According to Rosen, Jinping “is probably trying to learn from the war in Ukraine” and apply that lesson to Taiwan.

“Most likely,” Rosen argues, “(Jinping) has noted how important having a unified NATO has been for Ukraine’s success against Russia. Ergo, it would be reasonable to think Xi would seek to prevent a unified response by the powerful democratic allies and friends of Taiwan. Sure enough, over the last month, Xi engaged in a series of meetings with the German, French, and British prime ministers, in which he emphasized China’s respect for state sovereignty and the importance of a global order that does not exclude China so as to ensure prosperity and to protect the environment.”

Jinping’s game plan, Rosen writes, is to increase Beijing’s influence in Taiwan, but not with a direct military action.

“The message Xi was attempting to send the democratic world is clear: Xi is not (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, China is not Russia, and Taiwan is not another Ukraine,” Rosen explains. “The end result of these efforts is that the political basis for a unified response by the democratic world to a Chinese attempt to assert control over Taiwan is being gradually undermined. An American president facing a PRC challenge to Taiwan would work the telephone with his fellow democratic leaders and would hear words advocating restraint, prudence, and patient discussion.”

READ MORE: How Iran and Turkey are joining Russia and China to bypass Western global influence

Rosen wraps up his article by stressing that the United States needs to keep a close eye on the government in Beijing where Taiwan is concerned.

“The CCP might not try to invade Taiwan, but also, it might not have to,” Rosen warns. “Disruption of Taiwanese data links, harassment of its sea and air lines of communication, ambiguous sabotage and stoking political unrest could pressure Taiwan to end its efforts to improve its defenses and instead negotiate with the CCP…. We should continue and redouble our preparations to defeat a regular military attack on Taiwan, but we should also give equal attention to the problem of deterring and defeating an irregular assault on Taiwan.”

READ MORE: 'Deeply grateful': Taiwanese legal expert applauds Pelosi’s 'welcome expression of solidarity'

Democratic activists dispute claims that Florida is now 'officially a Republican stronghold': report

The United States’ 2022 midterms will be remembered for the “red wave” that never materialized. Republicans suffered a long list of disappointments, losing gubernatorial races in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, Illinois, New York, Maryland and other states. Republicans narrowly recaptured the U.S. House of Representatives, but Democrats held the U.S. Senate. Moreover, Democrats flipped the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Minnesota State Senate and flipped both houses of the Michigan State Legislature.

But there was one state that really did experience a major red wave in the 2022 midterms: Florida, where far-right Gov. Ron DeSantis was reelected by 19 percent and Sen. Marco Rubio was reelected by 16 percent. Although Democrats exceeded expectations in one state after another, Florida was an unmitigated disaster for their party.

MSNBC’s Joy Reid has been arguing that Florida should no longer be considered a swing state — that it has become a full-fledged red state. And Reid was saying that even before the 2022 midterms.

READ MORE: 'Where woke goes to die': Why Florida is now a red state

If Florida has become a lost cause for Democrats, that’s bad news in presidential elections — as the Sunshine State will have 30 electoral votes in 2024 (up from 29 in 2020). It’s possible for a presidential candidate to lose Florida but still win the election; President Joe Biden did it in 2020, picking up 306 electoral votes despite losing Florida to former President Donald Trump. But without Florida, Democrats need to work extra hard in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin.

However, some Democratic activists, according to National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Ashley López, are pushing back against claims that Florida has become a total red state.

“Florida Republicans won elections up and down the ballot by staggering margins this year,” López explains in a late November report for NPR. “Some political experts say this election could mark the end of Florida's long-time status as the biggest swing state in the country, but Democrats and third-party groups say they are not convinced Florida is officially a Republican stronghold. They say there's a more complicated explanation for what happened in Florida during the midterms.”

According to Dwight Bullard, a senior adviser for the group Florida Rising, and Democratic strategist Joshua Karp, Democrats had a major turnout problem in Florida in the midterms — too many of their voters simply stayed home.

READ MORE: Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are already duking it out in Pennsylvania

Karp told NPR, “(DeSantis) won about 4.1 million votes four years ago. He won about 4.6 million votes this time. So, he certainly increased by a few hundred thousand people the size of his coalition. In a state like Florida, that's a few percentage points. What really happened is Democrats did not show up to the polls.”

Bullard believes that DeSantis’ voter suppression efforts had a “chilling effect” in the midterms, including the well-publicized arrests of 20 people who voted in 2020.

The Florida Rising senior adviser told NPR, “What we were hearing on the ground was people who had the right to vote feeling as though, 'if I did it, it might actually get me arrested again.’”

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis was an obsequious Trump 'sycophant' before he became 'his own brand': journalist

'Voluntary but compulsory': Why Merrick Garland hired a special counsel to handle Donald Trump

Donald Trump is the first ex-president in U.S. history to announce another presidential run when he was facing two major investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ): one pertaining to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, the other pertaining to government documents stored at Mar-a-Lago. Trump announced his 2024 presidential run on November 15, and only three days later, on November 18, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he was appointing a special counsel, Jack Smith, to conduct DOJ’s two Trump-related investigations.

Legal experts have been stressing that in both cases, Smith already has enough evidence for an indictment. Regardless, Smith is obviously determined to proceed with caution, not unlike Garland. The word “institutionalist” has often been used to describe Garland, and it easily applies to Smith as well — which is why Garland chose him. In the past, Smith was an assistant U.S. attorney and headed DOJ’s Public Integrity Section.

But the fact that Garland decided to hire a special counsel for DOJ’s two Trump-related investigations, according to New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush, doesn’t mean that he was crazy about the idea. Rather, Garland saw it as a necessary move in order to counter claims from MAGA Republicans that the DOJ investigations are politically motivated. Garland, a centrist Democrat, was appointed to head the DOJ by another centrist Democrat: President Joe Biden, who may be running against Trump in the 2024 presidential election if Biden runs and they receive their parties’ nominations.

READ MORE: Appointment of highly regarded special counsel Jack Smith viewed as sign Trump is in legal jeopardy

“Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, a stoic former federal judge intent on restoring rule-of-law order at the Justice Department, gradually came to accept that he would need to appoint a special counsel to investigate Donald J. Trump if the former president ran for the White House again,” Thrush reports in an article published by the Times on November 28. “But that did not mean he liked doing it. Mr. Garland made it clear from the start that he was not inclined to tap outsiders to run investigations and indicated that the Department was perfectly capable of functioning as an impartial arbiter in the two criminal inquiries involving Mr. Trump, according to several people familiar with the situation.”

Thrush continues, “But the appointment of a special counsel, Jack Smith, on November 18, and a painstakingly planned rollout of the announcement, signaled a significant, if subtle, shift in that approach. Mr. Garland has shown a growing willingness to operate outside his comfort zone — within the confines of the rule book — in response to the extraordinary circumstance he now finds himself in: investigating Mr. Trump, a top contender for the 2024 nomination of a party that is increasingly rallying around the charge that Mr. Garland has weaponized the Justice Department against Republicans.”

Garland, according to legal experts, finds himself in a difficult position. On one hand, Trump and his MAGA allies are claiming that the two DOJ investigations are politically motivated “witch hunts.” On the other hand, Trump’s critics would accuse Garland of sending out a dangerous message if the investigations were discontinued — a message that former presidents are above the law.

Daniel C. Richman, a former federal prosecutor who is now a law professor at Columbia University in New York City, told the Times, “There is a political dimension that can’t be ignored — this is an investigation that is being used by the target and his allies as a mobilization moment in a political campaign. That’s why you are seeing the Department leaning forward in making these moves, and getting as much detailed information about an ongoing investigation out there as it can.”

READ MORE: 'Political hit man' with a 'nice, soft name': Donald Trump rages over DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith

Garland, Thrush notes, has “cast the appointment of Mr. Smith as voluntary, but compulsory, dictated by the section of the law that allows an attorney general to install a special counsel under ‘extraordinary circumstances.’”

“Mr. Garland appears to view Mr. Smith as more of an internal decision maker than a public buffer,” Thrush reports. “The attorney general intends to follow the letter of the statute, and will most likely accept Mr. Smith’s findings unless his conclusions are ‘inappropriate or unwarranted' under the Department’s precedents, a person familiar with his thinking said.”

David H. Laufman, who once headed the DOJ’s counterintelligence unit, told the Times that an obstruction of justice indictment “looks more and more to be the most compelling charge for the government to bring” in the January 6 case. And an Espionage Act charge, according to Thrush, is a possibility in the Mar-a-Lago/government documents case.

“Department officials emphasized that Mr. Smith would not start from scratch but would bring existing investigations to their conclusion and develop potential links between the two lines of inquiry,” Thrush reports. “The documents case appears to be proceeding more quickly than the January 6 investigation. Public filings and interactions between law enforcement officials and defense lawyers indicate that a lot of work remains, and law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation emphasized that the Department was unlikely to sign off on charges unless it was convinced that it would prevail in court. Evidence made public points to a case based on a section of the Espionage Act, which makes it a crime to mishandle closely held national defense information — and a potential obstruction of justice charge stemming from the former president’s refusal to comply with the subpoena in May.”

READ MORE: These evangelicals are doing something Trump claimed they’d 'never' do — 'considering other' options: report

'Mean-spirited, vulgar grab for power': This evangelical pastor is fighting back against Christian nationalism

Although former President Donald Trump is by no means universally loved within Christianity and has his share of critics among Catholics and Mainline Protestants, he has been incredibly popular within a certain area of Christianity: far-right White fundamentalist evangelicals. That movement, which has been called the Christian Right or the Religious Right, has had a firm grip on the Republican Party since the early 1980s. And although Trump himself was raised Presbyterian, not evangelical, and is not known for being very religious, he was made a point of courting evangelicals.

One pastor who is critical of the relationship between Trump and the Christian Right is Caleb Campbell of the Desert Springs Bible Church in Phoenix, Arizona. According to a report from the Globe & Mail’s Nathan VanderKlippe, Campbell is trying to counter the Trump/MAGA influence on evangelicals.

“You can think of Donald Trump’s most faithful adherents as bigots or patriots, constitutional standard-bearers or deluded masses,” VanderKlippe writes in an article published on November 25. “Caleb Campbell likes to think of them as sheep that have gone astray. He has made it his work to lead them back…. Mr. Campbell’s introduction to the congregation of Trump came in a church, after fellow Christians suggested he attend what was described as a revival event organized by Turning Point.”

READ MORE: Evangelicals are the backbones of Trump's Big Lie — and it's all about white supremacy

Turning Point is the pro-Trump group led by right-wing activist Charlie Kirk. Campbell told the Globe & Mail that when he first heard Kirk speaking at a MAGA/evangelical event, he was “absolutely terrified and horrified.”

“Mr. Kirk established Turning Point USA and, in 2021, TPUSA Faith, which organized some of the events Mr. Campbell attended,” VanderKlippe explains. “Mr. Kirk calls the separation of church and state a lie, saying ‘the church founded this country’ and, today, ‘has to rise up in every capacity.’ TPUSA Faith’s ambition is to gather and organize religious leaders, providing them with resources ‘to activate their congregations to fight for free people, free markets, free speech and limited government.’ Listening to that message left Mr. Campbell unsettled.”

Campbell describes Christian nationalism as “a mean-spirited, vulgar grab for power with violent rhetoric.”

“Mr. Campbell’s initial efforts to push back were not popular with his White, evangelical and suburban parishioners,” VanderKlippe notes. “His congregation shrank from 800 people to 300. He began to write a book about engaging the ‘mission field’ of new religious conservatism — and started to attract new congregants, whom he describes as ‘disheartened, if not disgusted, by the amalgamation of nationalism and Christianity.’”

READ MORE: For white evangelical Protestants, power is religion and Herschel Walker is their vessel

VanderKlippe adds, “(Campbell) has fashioned a tool kit for winning back the souls from the Trump church. He begins by establishing personal trust, without which people tend to resist questioning their own beliefs. He encourages people to fast from media for two weeks. And he invites them to sit at a table with others who hold different views to discuss hot-button issues such as immigration.”

READ MORE: These evangelicals are doing something Trump claimed they’d 'never' do — 'considering other' options: report

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