Jason Sattler

Chaos in the House picked up where January 6th left off

Laughing at Republicans is fun, especially when Republicans seem to go out of their way to be so laughable.

Who can’t enjoy a raging Marjorie Taylor Greene swinging her rhetorical kettlebell at the barely reelected Lauren Boebert?

Or Kevin McCarthy being served a steaming bowl of karma after spending two years sucking up to Donald Trump?

READ MORE: 'Freedom over fascism' and 'governing over gaslighting': Hakeem Jeffries' 'masterpiece' A to Z speech goes viral

Or Donald Trump failing to sway a single dissenter?

You’re probably AI if you 'can't’ laugh at the House Republicans becoming the first majority not to elect a speaker on the first ballot and then repeating that feat 13 more times.

But it’s crucial to remember that what went on at our nation’s Capitol was less politics-as-usual and more a continuation of J6.

He’s already broken

READ MORE: 'You ain’t seen nothing yet': New analysis explains why McCarthy may be leading the 'most dysfunctional Congress ever'

Of the 20 Republicans who repeatedly voted against Kevin McCarthy, most are democracy deniers who refuse to accept the results of the 2020 election and nearly all the incumbents in this herd refused to certify the election on January 6th, 2021, after their fellow Trump supporters beat hundreds of cops, sacked the Capitol building and demanded the neck of Mike Pence.

Press coverage of the 20’s demands and the load of concessions McCarthy offered them generally misses the larger insurrectionist point here: These Republicans genuinely seem to hate Kevin McCarthy. They don’t fear him. They have him by the teeth.

They weren't trying to break him.

He was already broken.

His agenda is their agenda. He promised to demand cuts to America’s beloved Medicare and Social Security programs in exchange for raising the debt limit. He showed a willingness to add to other hard-right commands, like defunding the Department of Justice’s investigations into Trump, to his list of risible demands.

But absolute humiliation wasn’t enough.

The 20 wanted a speaker they could trust to make their demands and carry through on their threat to actually default on America’s debt and propel the global economy into a massive economic crisis.

They knew McCarthy was willing to raise the gun to his own head and hold himself hostage by threatening to blow up our economy.

But are they sure he won’t pull the trigger?

Any patriot would refuse to hand Vladimir Putin, President Xi and all enemies of America’s leadership a massive victory with the first purposeful default on our debt in American history.

Many argue that refusing to pay our debt is a direct violation of the 14th amendment, which coincidentally also bars insurrectionists from holding public office. They argue that because that’s exactly what the text says, not that any of these “originalists” care.

But the 20 weren’t worried about McCarthy’s patriotism or fealty to our constitution. They were worried he’ll back off when his big donors see large portions of their wealth threatened by the market chaos that any serious threat of a default is almost certain to summon.

Squirm

McCarthy’s only superpower is fundraising. This requires a slavish devotion to the whims or whining of America’s oligarchs.

While the billionaires love the idea of spending cuts and letting rich dudes get away with crimes, they don’t love the idea of a sudden and precipitous market collapse with no real upside for them.

Don’t get me wrong.

The Republican Party and its corporate sponsors would welcome a recession, especially one that deflates the best job market of our lifetimes. But what they don't love is an unprecedented and unpredictable blow to asset values, which could bring sudden and possibly irreparable harm to those who build their wealth and secure their financing by the holding of assets – namely the very, very rich.

Voters would know which party to blame and the big donors would be far less likely to save Republicans from the voters’ wrath.

This is a nightmare-in-waiting for McCarthy. He cares about power only.

His wranglings were all about preventing him from losing the job he failed to get 14 straight times, and what he gave away to clinch it on the 15th virtually guarantees a chaotic 118th Congress.

Could he blow up the global economy to keep his power?

Probably!

But McCarthy had to save room to do what worms do.

Squirm.

The 20 made it clear to any GOP speaker that they only want two things: to discover more Hunter Biden nudes and to obstruct. They want to obstruct the investigations into Trump, they want to obstruct the economy and they want to obstruct democracy.

Notably, “obstruction” is the crime that hundreds of participants in the attempted paramilitary takeover have been charged with.

Marcy Wheeler, who has followed the criminal proceedings around J6 closer than anyone, has continually made the case that “obstruction” remains a charge Donald Trump could face himself.

By any means

There’s a clear line from the legislative obstruction under Mitch McConnell to criminal obstruction by Trump and his followers. Both sides have turned it into an art form. But what we’re seeing in Washington is part of the attempt to blur those lines.

These 20 Republicans want the same thing Trump wants, even if Trump doesn’t back their cause directly. They want absolute rule and the power to blow up the ball if they can’t set the rules of the game.

They want this though they are just a thin slice of a party that barely controls one chamber of the Congress and that hasn’t won the presidential popular vote since years before the iPhone was released.

They want the power to obstruct the will of the people and, though they’re using legislative means this time, they’ve already proven it’s all part of the same effort to overturn democracy by any means.

READ MORE: The shutdown caucus really wins: The House power grab was always bigger than Kevin McCarthy

Joe Biden can kiss future Supreme Court nominations goodbye if Republicans win the Senate

Have you heard there’s a US Senate race in North Carolina?

For reals. No joke.

It’s actually happening, even if you probably couldn’t name the two candidates competing for the seat if you were waterboarded or hypnotized – or both.

READ MORE: 'Democrats need to win this': PA independent Senate candidate drops out and endorses John Fetterman

At first glance, it’s easy to guess why this race isn’t getting much attention.

It doesn’t feature a scammy TV doctor from New Jersey with an apparent side hustle in the puppy torture industry.

There isn't an ex-NFL player with a fake police badge now best known for paying for abortions and threatening to kill the mother of his son and his son, according to said son.

Still, Democrats still may regret watching this seat slip away for years, if not decades.

READ MORE: A 'shadow campaign for the presidency': How Ted Cruz’s 'lame' theatrics point to another presidential run

The race to replace retiring inside-trader Republican Richard Burr isn’t just the Democrats’ best chance this decade to pick up a Senate seat in purplish North Carolina, where Joe Biden lost by only 1.34 percent of the vote. It’s one of the closest Senate races in an election year filled with coin-toss Senate races.

Democrat Cheri Beasely, a former chief justice of North Carolina’s Supreme Court, trails Republican Ted Budd, a member of the Congress and Trump fanboy, by about 3 points, according to 538’s poll averages. Even less than that in other reputable polls.

That puts it well within the margin of error of most polls and what would normally be considered an amazing pickup opportunity for Democrats desperately in need of pickup opportunities.

Yet you’ve surely heard far more about Senate races in Wisconsin, Arizona and Florida, where the polls aren’t as tight.

There are many reasons why the Senate race in North Carolina is getting less attention than nearly mathematically impossible attempts to oust rabid Karens who are Lauren Boebert or Marjorie Taylor Greene.

And none of them are particularly great.

First of all, the Republican candidate doesn’t want anyone to pay attention to this race.

Budd is running a “stealth” campaign, according to Michael Bitzer, a professor of politics and history at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina.

“When you’re doing a stealth campaign, relying on the fundamentals, and letting your TV ads be your main conduit, you can fly below the radar and be restrained enough not to say anything out of the mainstream that will call attention to you,” Bitzer told the New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner.

And apparently Budd’s strategy is working, as evidenced by the almost lack of national focus on the race.

The word “fundamentals” points to why Beasley, the Democratic candidate, may also be eager to keep the race off of MSNBC or Fox.

No Democrat has won a US Senate race in North Carolina since 2008, when Obama’s massive landslide swept in the state and, somehow, Indiana, like some sort of 1,000-year flood.

So Beasley, who would be the first Black woman North Carolina has ever sent to the US Senate, has to “thread a very small needle to have a shot,” according to Bitzer, which requires mirroring the “centrist” approach of two-term Democratic governor Roy Cooper.

And the word “fundamentals” also means that the president's party hasn’t had a good midterm election since 2002, when the entire nation was still suffering a cortisol surge from Sept. 11.

One real exception to this rule was when Republicans picked up two Senate seats in 2018, despite losing their House majority.

What was different in 2018?

Republicans had a very good Senate map that year, but Democrats had excellent recruits in Missouri and Tennessee. What many people think made the difference for the GOP was Brett Kavanaugh who was confirmed to the Supreme Court despite (or because of) a credible accusation of sexual assault.

Republicans rallied around the conservative goal of dominating the courts and, as a result, they were able to overturn Roe at the first opportunity.

Which leads us to why 2022 could be different, and why Democrats should be doing everything they can to help Beasley and win this seat.

Most Americans want Roe back.

Most North Carolinians want Roe back.

But here’s something every Democrat and every honest observer of politics must understand quickly, or eight years ago when Democrats lost the Senate and doomed the nation to rule by a stolen Republican Supreme Court majority: A Republican Senate will never confirm a Democratic president’s pick for the Supreme Court.

Never. Ever. It’s over.

In fact, it’s been over since 1895. That’s the last time a Republican-controlled Senate confirmed an appointee from a Democratic president.

If Democrats don’t hold the Senate in 2022, Joe Biden will not get to put anyone else on the Supreme Court. He probably also won’t be able to fill any cabinet vacancies or openings that may occur on the National Labor Relations Board or any other parts of the government that operate via presidential appointment.

And if Democrats don’t hold the Senate in 2022, the chances of them retaking it for the rest of this decade and beyond are beyond dim. And that means that Democrats may be able to win the presidency if the Supreme Court doesn’t allow Republicans to rig the electoral college, but Democratic presidents will not be allowed to act as presidents by a GOP Senate.

The only way to avoid this constitutional perversion is to somehow hold the Senate and expand the majority by doing everything possible to win a state like North Carolina when there’s any chance of winning in North Carolina.

We’re past the point when money will make too much of a difference, but there are still calls to be made and doors to be knocked.

But most of all, we need to recognize that our only hope of overcoming a Republican majority on the Supreme Court almost entirely appointed by GOP presidents who lost the popular vote at least once is to hold the Senate.

And if we took this realization seriously, no Democrat would be ignoring the North Carolina Senate seat.

READ MORE: Mehmet Oz: Democracy includes 'local political leaders' getting involved with abortions

The unbearable sexism of a press corps covering Ron DeSantis more than Gretchen Whitmer

You’ll never find anyone who loves you the way the Washington press corps loves the idea of Ron DeSantis usurping Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2024.

Only the sweet relief of a medical coma could save you from all the stories about the Florida governor’s attempts to claim the former president’s anointment as Republican God-Emperor.

The search “DeSantis president” elicits 69 million Google results, compared to around 18 million for “DeSantis governor.”

READ MORE: 'A common middle ground': These Michigan Republicans are campaigning for Gretchen Whitmer — here’s why

You’d think that, with a media infatuation like this, the Republicans’ great white hope would be cruising to reelection with a double-lead over his chump opponent.

Instead, he’s in a somewhat bruising race against a former governor of the state, even as he gallivants around the country trying to play the role of a benevolent despot by campaigning for Republican wannabees like JD Vance and actual insurrectionist Doug Mastriano.

Despite this posturing and big GOP donors circling around him like he’s the EpiPen that could save the party from the nation’s allergic reaction to the 45th president, you can smell DeSantis’ flop sweat rising faster than the oceans around Florida.

A governor of Florida doesn’t go kidnapping dozens of asylum seekers in Texas to “deport” them to Massachusetts if he feels confident about his life choices.

READ MORE: Two men found guilty in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

He’s obviously jealous of the way Republicans have rushed to defend Trump after the raid of Mar-a-Lago. So he’s seeking legal peril of his own to gain the semi-fascist affections of his party.

But this crime against humanity-sized distraction is probably also aimed at keeping headlines away from his state’s skyrocketing energy bills along with the one issue that will likely end up defining the 2022 elections.

Earlier this year, DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion ban like Lindsey Graham has introduced in the US Senate. The bill has no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the patient, and was opposed by 60 percent of Floridians, according to one poll.

The vast majority of DeSantis’ constituents are pro-choice and likely hate the ban because of its excessive cruelty and limitations on freedom. And the GOP base, the white evangelicals he’s trying to impress with his recreational human trafficking, likely despise it because it still allows “nearly all” abortions, according to the CDC.

Meanwhile, DeSantis’ lead in the polls is under 6 percent, which is nothing compared to the more than 20 percent lead in the polls registered by the presidential aspirant he’s most often compared to – California Governor Gavin Newsom.

It’s also less than half the dominating poll lead of an incumbent of a swing state governor who continues to demonstrate the actual political skill the national press keeps hoping to see from DeSantis.

Yet the media doesn’t seem to notice - probably because this particular governor is a woman.

Gretchen Whitmer is everything Ron DeSantis pretends to be – and more.

Unlike DeSantis, Whitmer crushed her opponent in 2018, winning by more than 400,000 votes, a nearly 10 percent lead, as the poser from Jacksonville slipped by a mere 32,463 votes, an 0.4 percent lead.

Unlike DeSantis, Whitmer attracted an absolute clown as her opponent in 2022.

Tudor Dixon is a failed B-movie actress handpicked by the DeVos family to continue their war on public education and make Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin seem like a moderate by insisting on an abortion ban with “no exceptions” because, to her, forcing raped kids to give birth is “healing” both for the child – and the rapist.

Dixon has taken to making jokes about a kidnapping conspiracy that targeted Whitmer, resulting in multiple convictions, because – honestly – that’s all she’s got, as her poll numbers keep getting worse.

Unlike DeSantis, Whitmer champions her constituents’ reproductive rights – leading the effort to overturn a 1931 law that would ban abortion in the aftermath of the disastrous Dobbs decision.

Unlike DeSantis, Whitmer hasn’t gone to war with one of her state’s largest employers.

While the governor of the Disney State has targeted the House of the Mouse for speaking out against his completely unnecessary “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the governor of the Auto State has worked hand-in-hand with the Biden administration as it’s signed into law more than half a trillion dollars in infrastructure investments, including billions and billions for electric vehicles, the batteries that fuel them and the semiconductors that run them.

Whitmer clearly sees politics as the “art of the possible” – problem-solving to achieve actual goals. DeSantis sees politics as “war” – like Andrew Breitbart and Donald Trump before him.

A human troll doll, he judges success by how upset he makes liberals – how “owned” they are by his stunts. And he’d rather ship migrants around like cattle than accept either their basic human dignity or answer the pleas of employers in his state for more workers.

The press obviously loves the drama, his slight rebranding of boring reactionary politics and – I guess – his stuffed Men’s Wearhouse suit.

Thus they ignore or seek to soften the shrillness of this Craft Beer Trump’s policies, affect and voice. They pretend he’d survive a primary campaign with Trump without being reduced to a sniveling “Lil’ Marco” or an unctuous “Lyin’ Ted.”

DeSantis has become the most overrated Republican politician since, at least, Chris Christie. And Whitmer may be the most underrated.

There are fewer than 3 million search results for “Whitmer president,” though she’s proven she can govern and deliver a state that will, unlike Florida, be among the handful that will decide the 2024 election. And she’s deft, likable and the one elected official who has done the most to defend her constituents’ bodily autonomy, an issue that will likely play a starring role in any 2024 campaign.

DeSantis is lucky the media is so manifestly and latently sexist.

And frankly – given the press corps’ love for casting doubt on whether he will run again in 2024 – so is Joe Biden.

READ MORE: The Roe backlash is real. And, as they say, it is spectacular

Starbucks CEO is blind to the publicity in labor organizing

The billionaire who built the Starbucks brand into one of the globe’s favorite recreational drug dealers returned in April as interim CEO of the company. He’s determined, it seems, to either kill the union drives sweeping up his company’s stores or his brand or both.

The National Labor Relations Board has accused Schultz’s company of breaking federal labor laws with the carelessness and passion of a twice impeached president stealing nuclear secrets.

And the caffeineglomerate was recently ordered by a federal judge to rehire seven employees of a Memphis Starbucks, who claim they were fired for union organizing. Starbucks Workers United claims that’s a tiny fraction of the more than 75 workers who’ve been sacked by the company for seeking the basic right of collective bargaining.

READ MORE: How labor unions are combating domestic violence

We have no idea how much Starbucks is spending on union-busting compared to the millions being spent by Amazon. The company seems to be evading that reporting requirement.

But no matter how much that amount is, the result has been filling garbage bins with stinky wads of cash and setting them aflame.

Until the 12th month of 2021, there were zero – zero! – unionized Starbucks stores.

There are now 209.

READ MORE: Ralph Nader: The rule of law overwhelmed by 'unbridled political power of corporatism and other lawless forces'

This floundering matches Schultz’s embarrassing attempt to run as an “independent” for president, which flared out after a couple of “Morning Joe”s and a few fat checks to the political consultants – the only people excited by the idea of Schultz in the White House.

While the pace of new unionized stores has held pretty steady – one every two days – Schultz has escalated his war on workers seeking collective bargaining by closing stores. The company says closures are coming for “safety” reasons. You’re probably not surprised at all to learn that union organizers disagree.

"Every decision Starbucks makes must be viewed through the lens of the company’s unprecedented and virulent union-busting campaign," Workers United said in a statement.

Likewise, everything Schultz does must be seen through the lens of a man who may hate unions more than he loves his company.

Because if you look at this historic union drive from almost any other perspective, you will see what could be the best thing to happen to the Starbucks’ brand this century.

Here’s why.

Labor is more beloved now than it’s been in half a century.

Organized labor hasn’t been this popular since Donald Trump got two of five deferments that kept him out of the Vietnam War.

The labor movement has experienced an extraordinary upswing in popularity since the beginning of the Great Recession, when the Occupy Movement was birthed. This accelerated in the birther era, when Republicans embraced the rhetoric of (white) worker populism as they continued policies engineered for billionaires’ pleasure.

The overwhelming embrace of unions is pretty remarkable given the country’s polarization and unions’ close relationship with the Democrats. But it’s even more remarkable given that the last time unions were this popular the share of workers who were in a union, 28.4 percent, was almost triple what it is today, around 10.3 percent.

With public affection for unions, an organized workforce would give Starbucks a serious competitive advantage against other chains.

Schultz is well aware his customers like the idea of a company that treats its workers well – it was a cornerstone of Starbucks’ appeal as the company’s stores reached near ubiquity. But the thought of giving workers a voice that puts them on more equal footing with shareholders is apparently his worst nightmare.

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act, which guarantees the right of nearly all private sector employees to organize. Of course, under Republican presidents they tend to do the exact opposite.

Since 2021, the Biden-appointed Democratic majority on the NLRB has been attempting to make the case that who the president is really, really, really, really, really, really, really important for workers.

“NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo is quite possibly the most pro-labor agency chief in its history,” according to Ryan Cooper of the American Prospect. She has “an agenda that would transform the American workplace.”

Schultz has decided to become the poster billionaire for union busting, stepping in the fray to take on labor directly right after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos stepped back and let someone else be the face of his company’s assault on organizing.

That means he has to be Public Enemy No. 1 of anyone who cares about workers’ rights. Gruesome tactics against Shultz’s employees will result in reputational loss for this man with a Venti ego.

But that’s not all.

Continued losses at the NLRB may not have a huge financial cost for the company (because our labor laws aren’t strong enough), they could embolden workers in the more than 15,000 Starbucks stores not yet close to being organized while shattering Shultz’s legacy.

Unless he wants to go down in history as a clownish Dickensian villain who got schooled by one of America’s favorite movements.

You have to forgive Baby Boomers for assuming that youthful values fade into reactionary retirement planning by time you buy a house. That’s certainly what happened for many of them and their peers.

But the times actually do seem to be changing, possibly because America’s young people have never been so diverse, connected and in love with labor organizing. They are helping power the organizing surge, according to the dean of labor journalism, Steven Greenhouse.

“Inspired in many instances by Sen. Bernie Sanders’s calls for economic justice and by the Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter, and the #MeToo and environmental movements, today’s young workers are more enthusiastic about unions than those who grew up during Ronald Reagan’s 1980s,” he wrote.

And young organizers include many TikTok and meme masters who have 50-plus years of coffee consumption ahead of them.

A tight job market with a beloved labor movement and a new generation of activated citizens who may actually be interested in living out their values make welcoming unionization the best advertising that Starbucks can’t buy.

Or Schultz can just keep on losing and hope right-wingers get back into power before it’s too late. Given his spectacular lack of political instincts, you can probably guess which path he’ll take.

READ MORE: How employers are trying to bust union efforts

Democrats finally have a reason to celebrate. And they should

That twinge you’re feeling isn't the edible kicking in.

Joe Biden signed into law Tuesday the most sweeping climate legislation in the history of the planet. Though the Inflation Reduction Action is an undeniably good thing, please don’t blame the Democrats for having forgotten how to experience victory.

Memories have dimmed a bit, but the last time the Democrats celebrated might have been when Mitt “Mr. 47 Percent” Romney canceled his fireworks show and when Barack Obama became the first president to be elected with 51 percent, twice, since 1954.

READ MORE: Progressives elated after Joe Biden signs 'landmark' Inflation Reduction Act into law

Or perhaps it was the nirvana of that evening in 2012 when Karl Rove came close to sobbing live on Fox. Anyway, whenever it was, life has since become a dulling series of horrors and unenforced errors.

The slog of reality

Obama’s reelection was soon eclipsed by the horrific rollout of Healthcare.gov, which eclipsed both the historic success of the Affordable Care Act and the epic job growth it helped usher in.

Democrats lost the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections – and with that defeat went the last best chance of putting a liberal majority on the Supreme Court after Antonin Scalia graciously died in 2016.

READ MORE: 'A very big deal': Paul Krugman explains why the Senate has taken a major step in fighting climate change

Donald Trump came down the stairs to the cheers of paid extras and took over the GOP by being more explicit about the strategic racism that has supercharged the party since Nixon’s “Silent Majority.”

As he installed the supermajority that eventually overturned Roe, Trump first lost the House, then the presidency, then the Senate.

But any chance to savor those victories was overwhelmed by the multitude of planetary plagues facing us and by the megawatts of gaslighting by an ex-president who refused to accept defeat before sending squads of paramilitaries after his vice president’s neck.

Joe Biden’s presidency began with the urgency of a new New Deal. The American Rescue Act – among many other tremendous things for American workers – cut child poverty in half in one swoop.

Then the slog of reality set in.

By “reality,” I mean Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin.

Any hope of Biden’s presidency sparking the transformative progressive progress we saw in the run-up to World War II got the big thumbs down from two of K Street’s favorite senators.

Until the end of June, the extraordinarily popular cornerstones of the president’s agenda – major action on climate change, reversing the Trump tax cuts for the rich and allowing Medicare to negotiate some drug prices – could only be spoken of in dry, mournful tones.

And then … Manchin found a way to say yes! So did Sinema!

And here we are – about to celebrate a massive win.

A humongous win.

A win the size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Superglued sausage

OK, some of you cringe at my uncool glee. But this is a rare moment in the 21st century when cringing is otherwise inappropriate.

I know this isn’t the bill many wanted.

It’s missing so many of the things Americans need, including the expanded child tax credits, paid family leave and universal pre-k promised in the original proposal of the Build Back Better bill.

Essentially, it’s sausage superglued together with compromise, corporate giveaways and half-steps. And many climate activists are dismayed by some of what’s not in the bill as well as what’s in it.

They should be.

Their relentless dissatisfaction is how we got here.

But verily I say unto you, this law may be the most purely good thing any of us will ever do for our children’s children’s children.

But don’t believe me.

Believe the man who co-chaired the first congressional hearing on global warming (and who actually did help invent the Internet).

“In crossing this threshold we have changed history and will never go backwards,” former Vice President Al Gore said last week.

“I’m extremely optimistic that this will be a critical turning point in our struggle to confront the climate crisis.”

Veteran environmentalist Bill McKibben said the legislation “transforms not just the energy landscape but the political landscape.” Experts ranging from Dr. Leah Stokes to climate curmudgeon David Roberts have shared litanies of praise.

From nearly doubling the share of green power on the grid in less than eight years to spending billions helping poor minority communities suffering from our collective indifference to pollution, this legislation includes a cornucopia of tactics to reduce carbon emissions by as much as 40 percent by the turn of the decade.

Because it focuses on incentives for buying cars, solar panels and appliances instead of regulation, it’s likely to survive our “originalist” Supreme Court, which oddly doesn’t seem interested in returning to the “original” carbon emission levels our founders enjoyed in 1788.

So damn good

The Inflation Reduction Act is not nearly perfect at all but it’s so damn good – especially compared to the alternative we were seriously considering less than two months ago.

Which was absof*ckinglutely nothing.

Failing to mark and briefly celebrate this monumental achievement – along with numerous other leaps like hearing aids being made available over-the-counter – would be a moral failure.

It would also be a strategic failure considering the stakes of the midterm elections we face three months from now.

Asked what’s on the ballot in 2022, Harvard sociologist Theda Skocpol – who did breakthrough research on the Tea Party movement, which she now connects in both spirit and goals to the “Stop the Steal” rot that has taken over the GOP – had a simple answer. “The locking-in of minority authoritarian rule,” she said.

That’s why it’s fantastic that the Biden administration is going beyond a bill-signing to hosting a “grand” celebration in early September.

Everyone on the broad left who cares about democracy needs to celebrate this achievement because fear isn’t enough of a motivator to drive the kind of miracle victories we need in November. We have to focus on the very good things that are possible when we win.

So before we return to being the good faith critics this administration needs – the kind that tries to compel the president to do smart things that will make him more popular, like firing Louis DeJoy – let’s celebrate this one for all humankind.

And as we do, let’s think about what’s possible, especially what’s possible if we get two more Democratic senators and no longer have to suffer the whims of Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin.

READ MORE: Revealed: Joe Manchin's price for supporting climate bill

Donald Trump’s fear of loserdom could spoil the GOP’s advantage

Forget Hillary. Forget Sleepy Joe. Forget Mexicans.

Forget Rosie O’Donnell, fact-checkers, the draft, John McCain, facemasks, truth, the American way, trans kids, food for grownups, male-pattern baldness, Mitt Romney or even Black presidents.

The thing Donald Trump hates most is paying his bills.

READ MORE: 'Prisons are filled with maladroit miscreants': Legal experts slam ex-prosecutor’s 'weird defense' of Trump

That’s the screaming subtext of a quiet story from last week. An RNC official said the party would stop paying for Trump’s lawyers if he announces another run for president before the midterms.

The cover story for this threat is that the party must maintain “neutrality.” But if the message to Trump wasn’t obvious enough, The Cowardly Kevin McCarthy, who has repeatedly sold his soul, found the courage to tell reporters he’s been pleading with Trump not to launch his presidential campaign before the 2022 elections.

The GOP wants November to be about Joe Biden, not Trump.

Republicans would want a focus on the president even if Biden’s approval ratings weren’t low and Americans were ignorant of Biden’s accomplishments – such as the fastest and biggest job growth ever recorded under any president – because new Democratic presidents typically get hammered in their first midterms no matter what.

READ MORE: 'Lost a lot of respect': Focus groups find Missouri Republicans turning away from Trump

The last Democrat to hold majorities in both chambers through an off-year election was Jimmy Carter in 1978. Economic indicators that generally predict electoral outcomes suggest Republicans should win as many as 30 House seats, enough for a commanding majority.

So you might expect a big red Republican wave – if 2022 were a typical year. But there are several factors suggesting that 2022 isn’t.

There’s the striking down of Roe by a right-wing supermajority on the Supreme Court appointed almost entirely by popular vote losers.

There’s a J6 committee that’s making the case that the GOP is led by a man who is incalculably traitorous and incomparably incompetent. And there’s Trump himself, the two-time popular vote loser, who single-handedly ended the rights to abortion and privacy.

The RNC has good reasons to worry.

The man behind four bankruptcies managed to lose a House majority that had been gerrymandered to withstand multiple Watergates and a Senate majority with a colossal belly flop no one could have predicted – losing two seats in Georgia on the same day.

But it’s much harder to doubt Trump’s instincts when it comes to his own fortunes. For nearly four scores, he’s been floundering his way to the top, getting richer as those around him are jailed and stiffed.

In 2019, he was pretty much the only person alive who figured out that Joe Biden could defeat him. And he was willing to blackmail a foreign leader to wreck the former vice president’s candidacy.

Trump has obviously been running for president since the moment he was evicted from the White House. There was never any doubt that he would try to regain the one job that solves almost all of his legal problems and prevents him from being indicted.

Recently, he’s been teasing an official campaign kickoff for multiple reasons – to box-out Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, to re-energize his dwindling fundraising (which now trails DeSantis’ buckraking) and to regain the news domination he lost when his Twitter account was shuttered – that all connect to one underlying motivation.

Trump is terrified.

Terrified of looking like a loser.

That’s the underlying obsession fueling Trump’s Big Lie and the reason he’s still trying to persuade Republican legislators to steal the 2020 election for him. He knows the key to being the dominant figure in the rightwing is to retain his veneer of victory, despite being soundly defeated by more than 7 million votes.

Linguist George Lakoff, whose ground-breaking work on the neuroscience of our political thinking, defined the “strict-father” mentality that underlies rightwing politics, notes how important it is for Trump – or any Republican leader - to be perceived as a winner.

“The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate,” Lakoff wrote.

When a “needy” sycophant like McCarthy slightly stands up to him, that means Trump is not dominating – at least not like he used to.

That’s why all these Republicans pleas for Trump to be reasonable and wait around as legal troubles pile up and DeSantis campaigns on full blast for reelection (and the GOP presidential nomination) may just push Trump in the exact direction they don’t want him to go.

And the real problem for the RNC is that they don’t have much or any leverage beyond giving Trump another bill he won’t pay.

Republicans need Trump and his base to win the presidency again. And there’s little evidence that their beloved God-Emperor cares about the GOP at all unless he – or one of his top two favorite children – can use the party’s machinery to regain the presidency.

Otherwise, he might as well tell his fans to stay home.

There’s been a lot made about how the Murdochs and Fox seem to be separating themselves from Trump. But the experts at Media Matters, an organization that watches more Fox than you’d ever want to, say that rumors of an actual divorce are mostly BS.

Everyone on the right knows that you push Trump too far and the scam of selling racism to get tax cuts for billionaires could go bust.

Meanwhile, Trump knows the simplest way to regain his momentum and to reassert his control over the Republican Party is to attach himself to a wave of potential Republican victories this fall.

That’s why he may be willing to lunge for glory, even if making 2022 a referendum on Trump rather than Biden would break a red wave.

And if he costs Republicans control of one or two chambers of the Congress – or the governorship of Florida – what does he care?

He’s done it before.

Republicans know they have to accept it.

READ MORE: 'This is how Republicans are planning to steal elections': GOP officials refuse to certify primaries

The Roe backlash is real. And, as they say, it is spectacular

People are pissed about the Supreme Court unceremoniously overturning Roe. Now we’re seeing just how pissed they are.

Organizers behindMichigan’s Reproductive Freedom for All proposal report that they’ve already collected over 800,000 signatures, nearly double the 425,059 needed by July 15 to get the measure on the ballot – a Michigan record for a ballot initiative.

If approved, this proposal would amend that state’s Constitution to sup1931 law that banned abortion until Roe came along.

READ MORE: Judge blocks Arizona 'personhood' law aimed at criminalizing abortion

And more importantly, it would send a message to the enemies of reproductive rights everywhere – be afraid. Right now, you’re looking upon your works. You should despair.

A ten-year-old rape victim forced to flee her home. Doctors fearing prison if they decide to save a patient from an ectopic pregnancy. Red state politicians salivating at being able to hunt anyone seeking an abortion by preventing them from crossing state lines.

For now, you’re getting exactly what you wanted.

But voters won’t rest until the rights Roe guaranteed are restored.

READ MORE: Returning to Reno in the shadow of Roe's undoing

The popularity of this measure also confirms something that should be obvious to anyone who pays attention to politics – Michigan is the model for resisting autocracy.

You may say that I’m a little too proud of my adopted home state. You might also say I’m overcompensating for the shame of my state of having helped elect Donald Trump in 2016.

You would be right. But so am I.

Like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Michigan responded to the realization that they’d put a Putinist in the White House by electing Democrats to key statewide offices, including governor, in 2018.

READ MORE: Sam Alito and John Roberts appeal to 'history and tradition' — while dancing around the burning Constitution

But the Mitten took the extra step of passing two ballot measures that helped undo some of the damage done to voting rights.

Proposal 2 gave the state one of the best approaches to ending gerrymandering in the nation. Proposal 3 expanded ballot access dramatically by, among many other things, giving every Michigander the option to vote by mail.

Both proposals passed with more than 61 percent support. Both were more popular than the measure legalizing weed, which also passed.

Making it easier to vote helped Michigan reject Trump in 2020 by 146,000 votes, more than 10-times his margin of victory in 2016.

READ MORE: All human rights are endangered when abortions are banned

Thanks to our new fair maps, Democrats have a chance to win back the state Senate for the first time since 1984 along with the state House, which has been in GOP hands most of the last decade.

This would not only give Governor Gretchen Whitmer a chance to actually govern in 2023, it would prevent what is shaping up as the GOP’s plan to steal key swing states in 2024 by using gerrymandered legislatures to overrule voters.

Increased voting rights and fair maps are the simplest way to fight back at the attrition of democracy that made Trump possible. And to be fair, I have to note that Michigan has a huge advantage in achieving these goals over many states, including our fellow bricks in the Blue Wall – Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Pennsylvanians need the state legislature to approve a measure before it can go on their ballot. And the GOP-controlled, gerrymandered-for-their-pleasure state House in the Keystone State will never do anything like that to risk their power or ability to help elect Trump or a Trump impersonator.

READ MORE: An impassioned Joe Biden blasts the 'raw political power' of the Supreme Court

In Wisconsin, you need the measure to pass two consecutive legislatures to pass a ballot measure that would modify the state Constitution. Something that will never happen because the state is, at this point, barely a democracy.

But Michigan’s unique ability to fight for democracy makes it more important to the rest of the nation, not less.

If Michigan’s Reproductive Freedom for All passes in the nation’s third most important swing state with nearly two-thirds of voters supporting it, as I imagine it will, this will send a message to the rest of the nation.

That message will be loud and it will resonate much in the same way that Mallory McMorrow’s righteous speech calling out Republican BS did. And hopefully it will embolden weak-kneed Democrats to stand up on an issue where voters overwhelmingly and clearly oppose Republican BS.

READ MORE: Will Joe Biden get credit for finally taking action on abortion rights?

It will say, we’re sick of your shit and we’re not going to take it anymore. Yes, this isn’t enough, given the depths and depravity of the threats to our rights and democracy we face.

But it’s definitely a start.

'Whining is how they win': ignoring Republicans may be the best way to beat them

The GOP’s coordinated tantrum about the leak of a Samuel Alito-authored draft opinion to overturn Roe should be the ultimate reminder of an essential truth about American politics in 2022.

Republicans celebrate one thing.

Victimhood.

Theirs.

Whether this draft opinion, written in the voice of a man who spends his weekends screaming in the face of a woman trying to enter a Planned Parenthood clinic, turns out to be the final word on a constitutional right to abortion access remains to be seen.

But what’s clear is that’s exactly what the rightwing of this country has been dreaming about since at least the late 1970s when the alleged “religious right” decided to switch their outward focus from opposing racial desegregation to fighting against abortion rights.

Republicans first turned into the Uterus Police to oust America’s first “born again” president, Jimmy Carter, and ran with it as corporate donors saw it as a way to brand the New Deal coalition that had dominated politics in the mid-20th century not just as faulty but evil.

You would think that a conservative movement on the verge of capturing its Holy Grail would be in a good mood and not bleating about “insurrection” and “insurrection” and “insurrection.”

But then you’d be in a coma for 40 years.

The GOP has evolved into a reactionary cult seeking minority rule through the world’s most effective ecosystem of propaganda that feeds millions of Americans a steady diet of strategic victimization.

Talk radio, Fox and a neural network of social media misinformers, provocateurs and Kevin Sorbo have one objective every day: Tell the most coddled people to exist in the history of this planet that they are oppressed and at risk of losing absolutely everything to “them.”

Who’s “them?”

Anyone who isn’t a white, straight Christian man.

Or a useful ally of white, straight Christian men.

The Republicans’ media monster needs to be fed daily and it eats only one thing – outrage. Outrage about Dr. Seuss’ most racist comics or non-sexy peanut M&Ms or an alleged vein in a Snickers bar.

It will even devour outrage about their wildest dreams coming true.

This is extraordinarily effective.

Outrage fuels the GOP’s midterm turnout advantage, which is especially strong when Democrats are in charge, an outrage in itself.

Outrage swerves the conversation away from GOP policies, like the overturning of Roe, which is not supported by most Republicans.

Outrage is key to the in-group/out-group demagoguery that has driven the GOP so far to the right they oppose democracy itself.

You can trace the creation of this extraordinarily effective effort to subvert majority rule to the so-called Powell Memo of 1972, which urged corporations to fight the “broad attack” on business by countering the liberalization of America, as evidenced by even Richard Nixon embracing pinko abominations like the EPA and OSHA.

In a memo to the Chamber of Commerce, future Justice Lewis Powell urged a comprehensive response that required infiltrating American institutions from the news media to academia to the courts.

By the 1980s, this response looked like Rush Limbaugh, bloviating into millions of ears for hours a day. Then Fox, then Facebook, then QAnon.

What have the Democrats and the press corps done?

Mostly treat bad faith as good faith.

Republicans are still called “pro-life,” though they encourage the spread of a novel virus that’s killed at least 1 million Americans.

Their cries about four dead Americans in Benghazi were taken seriously after they led the US into an illegal and terribly planned war in Iraq that led to the deaths of thousands of American soldiers.

They still get to pretend they’re against abortion though the policies they embrace – from opposing sex education to opposing birth control coverage to opposing universal childcare – actually increase abortions.

Banning abortions doesn’t even reduce them.

It just makes an extremely safe procedure far more deadly.

If you want to help Republicans achieve their nefarious goals, you just have to do one simple thing: react to whatever they’re whining about.

That’s how they figure out what works.

If you want to help Trump and his party get back in power, pretend their objections have some purpose other than feeding the beast.

Believe there’s some number of deportations that will be enough to stop their white power-driven attacks on migrants and immigration.

Engage their concern-trolling about Hunter Biden as Trump’s kids cash in on blood money for helping the Saudis carve up a journalist.

But, if you want to defeat the Republicans, focus on what they do.

They’ve given trillions to the super-rich and the corporations.

They’ve undermined workers so they can’t support their families.

They pretend to care about “pure, sacred kids,” as they destroy public education, check kids’ genitals and track their menstrual cycles.

Republicans whine because whining is how they win.

If we have any hope of saving hard-won rights, we have one choice.

Ignore these motherfuckers and their bullshit.

The jobs market favors workers for the first time in a half-century. No one in the press corps can hear it

It’s easy to forget how dire the job market was – and just about everything was – during the last year of the Trump presidency.

Americans were forced to consider theft and murder to make sure their families had enough toilet paper amid a once-a-century plague that will, by the time it’s over, have killed more than a million of us.

I guess we’re just supposed to pretend that never happened, like a fresh hell of a sermon interrupted by the sudden toot of a pastor’s fart – or Donald Trumps’ trademarks in China – or Michael Avenatti.

But letting the memory of the wreckage left behind by Republican presidents is why we get so many more Republican presidents.

So prepare for a haunting flashback.

Before 2020, America had never seen more than a million weekly unemployment claims, not even during the Great Recession.

Late in March 2020, nearly 3 million workers filed claims.

In a week.

That was followed by 5.9 million, then 6.1 million. Pretty much the populations of Los Angeles and Chicago combined were out of work.

In a week.

That weekly hemorrhaging didn’t drop below a million until last August. It didn’t hit pre-pandemic levels until last October.

The American Rescue Plan – along with various pandemic-related reprieves – built on previous and considerable efforts to soften the pain of the pandemic by putting money into workers’ pockets.

The result of this sort of bottom-up economics?

An explosion of job growth unlike any seen before.

We are now seeing the lowest unemployment claims in more than 50 years. 2021 was literally the best year of job growth ever recorded.

You’d think that’d be big news.

Sure, if the president were Republican.

Look, it’s easy to pretend this remarkable recovery, which has seen all jobs lost regained six years faster than it took the job market to recover from the Great Recession, was inevitable or predictable.

It wasn’t.

“Pre-Rescue Act, CBO projected the unemployment rate would be 5.1 percent this past quarter, not go below 4 percent until 2026, and would never go below 3.9 percent. In fact, it fell to 3.6 percent in March,” Seth Hanlon, a former special assistant to President Obama for economic policy, noted.

You may not be aware of the good news.

You’re not alone.

A recent poll found only 12 percent of Americans knew we’d just experienced the best year of job growth ever. In comparison, 43 percent of our fellow citizens believe in the existence of demons.

What explains this catastrophic cognitive dissonance?

Some of it is complicated.

Much of the good news has been buried in constant positive revisions by the government of job numbers. That process dulled deadlines.

It’s also hard to celebrate the good news during a pandemic that’s still killing the unvaccinated, immunocompromised and the unlucky.

(And anyway, work sucks.)

But the simple reason for Americans not knowing how effective the American Rescue Plan has been is psychological abuse.

The Washington press corps, warped by the influence of rightwing media, tends to ignore good job news under Democratic presidencies.

Consider this: Do you know more jobs were created in 2014, the year Obamacare went into effect, than any year so far in the century before 2021? That’s after five years of Republicans predicting the opposite?

What’s going on now is more nefarious, though, It comes from people who know better. They understand well this newfound labor power.

It’s Corporate America.

That’s why workers having the best job security in their lives is continually framed not as victory for Joe Sixpack, but as a crisis.

"US businesses are not laying off workers because they know the enormous challenges they're facing in filling open positions," Ryan Sweet, of Moody's Analytics, told Reuters. "If initial claims remain below 200,000 for a period of time, it will raise a red flag with the Fed."

Not enough layoffs should raise a red flag?

Is the job market too good?

(How dare you ask for a raise! I should be on my superyacht!)

These Scrooge-before-Ghosts-Scared-Him headlines are more common than headlines about the balance of power shifting toward the interests of labor. An excellent example of this comes courtesy of Axios: “Worker shortage thwarts Biden’s ‘millions’ of jobs pledge.”

More nefarious, however, is the fixation by the press corps on the allegation that “inflation” is driven by workers' newfound advantages.

For Republicans, the advantages of discounting the best job market for workers in half a century are obvious. They need to justify resuming power. For Corporate America, record profits are not enough.

They are acutely aware of the success of unionizing efforts at an Amazon warehouse and at multiple Starbucks’ locations. They see how hard it is to hire when workers don’t live in terror of unemployment.

They see Democratic majorities in the Congress having the power, though not yet the votes, to clawback some of the massive giveaways corporations racked up during the Trump administration.

And they want their layoffs back.

Unfortunately, the press corps is happy to help.

So is the Fed – with rate increases likely to deflate the jobs market than help mitigate inflation, which has as much to do with the pandemic and the flimsiness of anti-worker supply chains as anything.

Workers haven’t had much to celebrate for a long time. It’s hard to celebrate an economy fundamentally rigged to fluff the super rich.

But we better understand the power we have.

Corporations want it back, fast.

How to stop Marjorie Taylor Greene and the GQP from destroying democracy

Who wouldn’t like to see Marjorie Taylor Greene’s career-ending after one uselessly nauseating term in the US House of Representatives?

Who wouldn’t like to see her spending more time chilling with Putin-loving white nationalists, harassing kids who survived school shootings, or groping photoshopped cutouts of Donald Trump?

It’s just the way our brains need things to work.

Q-curious spreaders of Jewish Space Laser conspiracies who incite violence against public servants aren’t supposed to win reelection.

They’re supposed to be defeated – forced to fly away to an even worse fate, like fleeing Congress to run Trump’s failing fake Twitter site.

Our brains are so desperate to make this true that Marcus Flowers, a possible Democratic opponent, has raised almost $5 million with 87 percent coming from donations of less than $200 – even though his home seems to no longer be in Greene’s district in Georgia.

To be honest, it wouldn’t matter whether Flowers, or any Democrat, raised $50 million or even the more than $90 million Amy McGrath spent to lose to Mitch McConnell in 2020, Greene is going to win – likely by more than the nearly 20-point margin, McGrath lost by.

Why?

Because gerrymandering doesn’t care about your feelings.

If picking your voters didn’t work, Republicans wouldn’t bother rigging maps. No one knows better than Republicans that their future as a party depends on turning fewer (and whiter) votes into more power.

A genius candidate with a bursting war chest could overcome a five-point or 10-point or possibly even a 20-point advantage if everything including the earth’s axis swings to her advantage.

But no candidate is going to overcome a 45 percent Republican lean, not in a country whose largest export is now negative partisanship.

Greene could marry Hunter Biden, put her pronouns on her Twitter bio and give herself a real-time abortion on Tucker Carlson’s desk while wearing a rainbow-colored N95 mask – she’d still win.

All she needs are the votes from her party.

They’d vote for a cumquat as long as it had an “R” next to it.

The urge to lance this human boil from our body politic is obviously born of the best intentions. Democrats must contest every race, including in the second-most Republican House district in Georgia. Remember the success of Howard Dean’s “50-state” strategy?

A “whole ballot” strategy is crucial to confronting the menace of a GOP that has chosen Trumpism (aka American Putinism) over democracy.

You could even argue that investing millions in Georgia’s 14th could end up helping Georgia’s Senator Raphael Warnock, whose race could easily decide control of the upper chamber of the Congress, or Stacey Abrams, who lost to Brian Kemp in her first effort to become the first Black woman governor in US history by a mere .4 percent in 2018.

But whoever runs against Greene is going to have plenty of cash – too much cash, in fact – so why not just give to Warnock or Abrams!

Better yet, donate to Democrats in the House majority who face tight races, including 13 whose races are deemed toss-ups by the Cook Political report. Those races could decide control of the lower chamber of Congress. Even better, how about helping the effort to take control of at least one state House in every key swing state?

I hate lecturing anyone on the best ways for doing politics given the last election I won was for the honor of “Most Talkative” in the ninth grade. But I know one thing. Democracy is on the ballot in 2022.

If the GOP takes both chambers and retains control of legislatures in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, or Michigan, the chances of a Democrat being fairly elected president in 2024 will veer dangerously close to zero.

Don’t believe me. Believe election law expert Rick Hasen. He fears that Republicans could swipe the presidency in one of two ways.

Try employing an absurd legal theory giving state control of elections that has support from at least four Republicans on the Supreme Court.

Or try swaying the actual vote count by corrupting state and local election officials or by threatening their non-corrupt counterparts.

All that’s holding up Nightmare No. 1 is Democratic governors in blue states, all of whom are running for election and facing tight races.

Steve Bannon is aiming for Nightmare No. 2 with a laser focus on local elections to pick the hands that guide the machinery of democracy.

On the Democrat’s side, there’s no national figure trying to rally the party in preparation for a full-ballot assault favoring democracy.

Run for Something is an incredible organization. It’s focused on helping young progressives get on the ballot and win.

But Run for Something’s national budget in the last election was less than half of what Marcus Flowers has raised to lose to Greene.

By November, the millions spent on Flowers’ already-decided race may exceed the $39.3 million spent on all the 2020 races for the Michigan House. And Democratic control of the Michigan House could stop the Trump effort to steal that state in 2024 through the legislature, cold.

Patriotic Democrats should have no delusions about the enormity and importance of the challenge they face.

No Democratic president has seen his party hold both chambers of the Congress through his first midterm election since 1978. Rick Hasen has said that if Kevin McCarthy – who’d likely be the Speaker of the House were the Republicans to win in 2022 – were in chargeback in 2020, “I don’t know that we’d have a President Biden right now.”

You can’t beat Marjorie Taylor Greene.

But you can do even better.

You can help stop a plot to destroy democracy. You might even keep Greene mostly irrelevant with zero committee assignments.

This will require matching, then exceeding Republicans’ ruthless focus on winning. That begins with fixating on where our democracy is decided, not burning money to make our brains feel a little bit better.

No, the GOP has not finally 'seen the light' on MAGA — 'Everybody wants to be on President Trump’s bandwagon'

If you’ve been on the internet longer than you should be, you’ve heard of RickRolling. So you know that the gist of this “joke” is that instead of sending you toward the thing you’re trying to find, a link sends you to the video of Rick Astley’s debut hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up.

By clicking on this article, you’ve been RickRolled.

Sorry.

RickRolling isn’t particularly funny. Still, it is harmless, and it becomes a bit funnier each time it happens to you – or someone you know.

You can’t say this is true of its nauseating and far more dangerous cousin, which I call “Dickrolling.”

Dickrolling is anything that tickles the titillating yet specious notion that the Republican Party has finally seen “the light” and is about to abandon Donald Trump. During the 2016 campaign, we were Dickrolled so often that it could qualify as a prostate exam.

There was the time Trump insulted John McCain’s service. Or when Trump lost Iowa and claimed fraud. Or how about when Ted Cruz refused to endorse Trump at the GOP convention. Or when the “Access Hollywood” video came out and RNC chair Reince Priebus allegedly told the GOP nominee he should “drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history.”

You barely remember these “Trump’s finished now!” moments.

The biggest Dickroll came after the J6 insurrection when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the ex-president was “practically and morally responsible” for the attack on the Capitol that ended America’s tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. Of course, McConnell had just voted to acquit the ex-president of all impeachment charges for the second time.

We are now in another moment of immense Dickrolling. Again the GOP may be wresting away its soul from the parasite who took over the party and became its host.

Trump’s accountants have finally abandoned him, insisting that the financial statements the firm put together from 2011 to 2020, or the bulk of Trump’s career in Republican politics, "should no longer be relied upon.”

Meanwhile, McConnell is doing his best to keep more Trump allies out of the Senate. Republican voters have rejected the claim that Mike Pence should have “overturned” the 2020 election, as Trump insisted. And “tensions” are allegedly at a “boil” within the Republican Party over Trump’s multi-level marketing-style fundraising appeals.

In general, Trump’s legal woes continue to engorge in multiple ways that would doom anyone who doesn’t have the resources and non-existent conscience of a guy who has been a millionaire since age 8 thanks to tax fraud.

And if you buy that any of this has lessened Trump’s grip on the GOP, congratulations.

You’ve been Dickrolled.

Republicans have long been willing to express their concerns about Trump anonymously and you’ll notice that all of the most pointed quotes from Politico’s recent piece “GOP senators steer clear of Trump as rift deepens” were from unnamed sources.

This cowardly posturing betrays a clear fact.

The GOP needs Trump more than he needs the GOP.

This isn’t theoretical.

Unlike his more than 30,000 lies as president, Trump’s iron grip on the GOP has been proven again and again.

“I’m done,” Trump reportedly told Republican National Committee chairperson Ronna McDaniel, on his last day in office. “I’m starting my own party.”

And McDaniel – who reportedly stopped using her maiden name “Romney” in early 2017, because it bugged Trump – promptly caved.

The GOP is now paying millions for Trump’s legal bills and Republicans, including Mike Pence, who was targeted by rioters for a possible lynching on J6, are insisting that the events that led to the insurrection were “legitimate poltical discourse.”

Trump’s successful threat at the absolute nadir of his power echoes his abandoning of a pledge to back the Republican nominee at the first 2016 GOP presidential primary debate.

In effect, Trump’s position has never changed. Bend or I’ll break you.

The GOP has bent so often its spine is now a hinge.

You could argue that there’s a boastfulness here that Trump hopes is self-fulfilling. Like any adherent of How to Win Friends & Influence People, Trump is always aiming to will his desires into reality.

But the man who pretends to have written The Art of the Deal seems to have a better understanding of America’s political landscape than many commentators.

Trump’s support is different from what typical Republicans enjoy, a 2021 study confirmed.

Republicans just like Trump. And Republicans also like generic Republicans like McConnell and Paul Ryan.

“However, for Trump himself, and Trump alone, the other thing that predicted whether they would like him was that they disliked Muslims, African Americans, Hispanics and L.G.B.T.Q. Americans,” Lilliana Mason, a John Hopkins political scientist who co-authored the study, explained. “Any mix of those, but largely all of them.”

Unfortunately, the people who share this dislike of these minority groups are not all Republicans.

That’s right.

Trump’s explicit antagonism toward minorities actually expands the GOP base. This helps make the GOP more competitive in key states they’ve generally lost as they’ve lost the popular vote in presidential elections 88 percent of the time since 1992.

Any Republican who wants to hold the presidency cannot risk alienating Trump’s faction. Any Republican who wants to be president is desperate for their support.

And McConnell knows the Republican caucus in the US Senate is overflowing with dudes who want to be president.

That’s why the “old crow” is trying to bring in less Trumpy Senators into the body as he aims to take back the majority – not because he has any significant policy differences from Trump, but because he knows Trump will pressure the presidential wannabes to vote against him as majority leader.

He knows shameless cowards like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, for instance, will always back Trump.

McConnell just wants his power back, with a vote or two to spare. Believe him when he says he’ll “absolutely” back Trump in 2024.

So will the entire GOP.

"I think everybody wants to be on President Trump's bandwagon, without any question,” Senator Tim Scott said last Sunday when asked if he’d consider being Trump’s running mate.

There is no national GOP without Trump’s faction.

So counting on the GOP’s non-existent immune system or our “justice system,” which should have stopped this corrupt clown decades ago, to contain his lust for destroying our democracy is just a Dickroll.

Defeating Trump and the party that he’s consumed at the polls is, tragically, our only hope for a peaceful end to this ridiculous crisis.

America has surrendered to Fox

It’s time to get back to normal. That’s what we’re hearing from some of the shrillest voices in the press and pundit corps along with governors of some of the largest states in the union.

And what does normal look like?

Apparently, it means opening “everything” – even if no one can figure out exactly what is closed or has been closed for more than a year, except schools that can’t find enough adults to stay open because so much of the faculty and staff have the covid.

You might think normalcy would include radically reducing the number of people dying, which is higher than it has been in a year.

Nope!

It means resuming “playdates and dinner parties without guilt” while crossing our fingers hoping the omicron surge magically de-surges.

Let’s be like Denmark, these “normies” insist.

Let’s “live” with the disease!

Let’s party like we’re young, immune and Scandinavian!

After all, the Danes, with their population of almost 6 million, are only averaging around 22 daily deaths from the novel coronavirus, which is about half of what the state of Wisconsin has been experiencing.


Sounds rad.

Who wouldn’t long for The Time Before Covid, as we do whenever a variant wave crashes? The airtight fantasy is perfect. Like an Instagram influencer's fantasy life, it sidesteps a few crucial bits of reality.

First of all, Denmark’s vaccination rate is at 81 percent for two doses and 61 percent for three for the entire population. Compare that to 64 percent with two doses in the United States and 42 percent with three.


Also applying Denmark’s “Let’s treat it like a cold” philosophy to the United States neglects the biggest obstacle to returning to any semblance of normal here: The Danes don’t have Fox.

You can’t find fault with wanting to pretend Fox doesn’t exist. Hopefully, you’ve set the parental controls at your parents’ house.

But what we can’t ignore is that for almost a year, our largest cable “news” channel – and the most durable propaganda machine in human history – has been waging a war against covid vaccinations.

Almost nightly, the channel’s hugely popular primetime hosts have flung every speck of feces they can find at the miracle vaccines that have proven to be so incredible at minimizing the risk of death.

And when Fox adopts a misinformation campaign – like, say, make-believing genuine concern for the Benghazi tragedy – it doesn’t soak millions of viewers in filth. It’s more like a black hole, drawing the entire GOP and its right-wing media complex into the darkness.

(All while the channel appears to have covid vaccination mandate stricter than anything President Joe Biden has proposed.)

Vaccinating this country is the closest thing we’ve come to facing a “Dunkirk Moment,” when average citizens step up in a rescue mission that will give us a chance to prevail over an enemy that’s now killed far more Americans than have died in all our foreign wars.

But Fox has convinced a huge chunk of the Republican Party to turn their boats around and block the rest of us from getting to the beach.

Being a Republican makes you less likely to be vaccinated, no matter what demographic group you are in. This is your nation on Fox:

Charles Gaba found that rates of death from covid soared in red areas compared to blue areas, even adjusted for age, since the president’s inauguration. This trend now continues even while Omicron’s highly contagious nature has led to an explosion of cases in big, blue cities.

And what have the rest of us done about it?

Most of us vaccinated Americans, who are the majority of the county, have just watched in horror as we try to get along with our lives, hoping the tide will turn with the next convervative anti-vax talk radio guy who begs for a vaccination as he faces death on a ventilator.


We largely haven’t adjusted our “vaccinations only” approach to fighting the pandemic, even as anti-vax misinformation floods at a pace and furor that no scientific education campaign could match.

Instead, “normalcy” obsesses Democratic governors after watching Terry MacCullife lose in Virginia. They’ve been urging Biden to “move away” from the pandemic, even if the pandemic won’t go away and continues to kill a 9/11-number of Americans almost every day.


The Times reports that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy led the way. In 2017, he won by a blowout, but in 2021, he won by just a few points.

QUOTEQUOTEArranging a series of focus groups across the state to see what they had missed, Mr. Murphy’s advisers were struck by the findings: Across the board, voters shared frustrations over public health measures, a sense of pessimism about the future and a deep desire to return to some sense of normalcy.

These focus groups sound a lot like David Leonhardt of the Times – who constantly inveighs for “normality” while also recently wondering why there has been no urgency to get America boosted – and “Hotline” Josh Kraushaar of National Journal – a Republican who pretends to care about Joe Biden’s political fate while constantly praising Democratic Governor Jared Polis’ rush to normalcy in Colorado.

Polis has declared the covid emergency “over.” The governor said that “if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s really your own darn fault.”

These focus groups and reporters are at odds with polls showing that mask mandates are consistently populareven in Texas. Parents of school-aged kids have largely embraced them, but are drowned out by screeching right-wing parents with the time, energy and spittle to rant at school board meetings, even if their kids are homeschooled.

Governor Murphy should consider that perhaps it isn’t the restrictions that narrowed his reelection victory but the reality that New Jersey has had more covid deaths per capita than any state but Mississippi.

But this is a time for cheap and easy solutions.

The fact that our hospital system nearly crashed under the weight of omicron’s “mild” effects will be soon forgotten. As will the realization that the administration’s sudden push toward testing and masking at the peak of the surge may have prevented a full medical meltdown.

Like amnesiacs, we’ll relearn these things after the next wave comes.

Pretending the pandemic has ended for boosted Americans who are relatively sure they won’t die from the plague requires an incredible talent for shunning reality. A numbness of such magnitude makes me wonder if all the daily death has hollowed out our nation’s conscience.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Why Ron DeSantis is the junior Donald Trump Jr.

If there were ever a cock astride a weather vane who could point in which direction the GOP base is blowing, it is Donald J. Trump.

He figured out that Tea Partiers actually cared about Barack Obama’s papers (and skin color), not the deficit. He sensed the party didn’t just want to kick immigrants out. They wanted to build a wall from which they could kick back and fondle their guns, as they enjoyed the mass deportations. Now he’s sensing how the political winds may be blowing his party’s base into the arms of another Mr. White.

And he’s not just going to let the party he’s dominated for more than a half of decade wander off without a fit.

“Former President Donald Trump appeared to snap at Gov. Ron DeSantis in a new interview with One America News Network, where he bashed unnamed politicians who won’t say whether they've gotten a booster shot,”Politico reported earlier in January.

DeSantis seemingly responded by attacking Trump for something no one had ever accused the ex-president of before – being a Fauci-lover who was far too cautious when it came to fighting covid.

The ex-president has since called his feud with the Florida governor “fake news,” reminding us all he hasn’t written a new joke in five years.

But all you need to know about how seriously the Trump Klan is taking the DeSantis threat came from Roger Stone. Trump’s oldest and most ratf*cking-est advisor went after DeSantis as a “Yale Harvard fat boy,” implying DeSantis is having an affair, right as his wife was finishing up her chemotherapy for breast cancer.

All of this is gross. A decent person would rather be forced to stare into scabies than think about any of it.

It’s so gross even Republicans seem nauseated by having to continually get into legal trouble and literal penis-measuring contests with the guy running their party. Tangling with the Trumps tends to end in one of two ways for Republicans: you either submit in abject and never-ending humiliation, like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, or you go to prison, like Michael Cohen.

It’s pretty remarkable DeSantis had gone for so long without taking Trump shrapnel as Fox News, the GOP’s big donors and “intellectuals” have rushed to embrace the governor with a glee we haven’t seen since the last time they got the chance to cut their own taxes.

National Review, which was anti-Trump until Trump “won” in 2016, regularly publishes DeSantis hagiography and demands for apologies on his behalf. It has also taken to smearing one of his likely Democratic opponents for her eagerness in pointing out the governor’s often dictatorial aspirations.

This desperate fanboying makes sense. If you’re searching for an alternative to Trump who could appeal to the MAGA “faction,” which the GOP can’t win without, you need someone who at least matches the ex-president’s callous disregard for life, passion for employing strategic racism, and obsession with punishing the party’s perceived enemies.

And that’s basically DeSantis in a nutshell, or a stuffed Men’s Wearhouse suit.

Florida saw most deaths from covid overall and per capita in the summer after the vaccines became widely available, causing many to call the “Delta variant” the “DeSantis variant.”

This needless carnage became inevitable when the governor decided to fight vaccination and masking requirements harder than he ever fought the virus itself.

Rather than change course as the bodies piled up in mobile morgues, he’s spent much of his time inventing thought crimes to destroy academic freedom and protect white people’ feelings while trying to legalize the murder of protesters.

Let’s not forget his most amazing feat – at least to conservatives.

In 2019, DeSantis showed that his connections to white nationalists were far more than coincidental. He signed a bill that disenfranchised some 300,000 Black voters with what amounts to a poll tax.

This is likely the greatest single act of voter suppression since the Voting Rights Act went into law, dwarfing the purge of Florida’s voter rolls that helped George W. Bush swipe the Sunshine State in 2000.

And like Trump, DeSantis always pairs his political revanchism with the essential mission of the Republican Party. He remains fixated on rewarding his rich donors and their corporations.

What else could the GOP elites want? They certainly can’t be reacting to his charisma or popularity or lack of both.

DeSantis was only elected in 2018 less than half a percent, in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1994. His approval rating continues to tank and Stephen Colbert recently gave a new nickname “Covid Dick” that seems likely to stick.

But Republicans have never let a little unpopularity or even the inability to get the most votes stand in the way of taking power. They love DeSantis’ continued defiance in the face of science, scorn and even Trump’s veiled attacks.

He’s like Donald Trump Jr. without the fake tan and the larger and larger veneers. You could call him Donald Trump Jr. Jr. Only unlike the Trumps, he doesn’t wear makeup fit for a corpse.

He seems somewhat normal and fun – at least to the bros at National Review. He’s the kind of guy you’d want to have a craft beer with while spreading covid to numerous retirees while giving the bartender a crumbled N95 mask as a tip.

Unfortunately, to the DeSantis’ fans who’d like to keep the party’s Trumpiness and Trump voters and amputate the actual Trump, this plan seems destined to fail.

Trump allies in red states across the electoral map are in the process of rigging their electoral system so Trump will carry the Electoral College regardless of how many votes fewer than his opponent he gets.

Trump is leading this effort, stressing – like Stalin before him – that the vote counters matter more than votes themselves. He isn’t taking time from his precious golf schedule to do this for DeSantis or any other Republican not named Trump.

While Trump seems shy about getting into a fight that could put him in bad graces of a guy who may be running a key swing state in 2024, he’ll have no qualms about giving DeSantis the kneecapping he gave Cruz and Rubio should the governor sincerely begin to oppose him.

DeSantis is slimy enough to recognize and slip away tail-between-legs before he does permanent damage to his standing with the base. And that’s something else that would make him relatable to the bros at National Review.

It’s Trump’s party or Trumps’ party. And if you don’t decide to be his eager accomplice in his constant grifting and the dismantling of democracy, you’ll soon get pointed out.

Is there 'surprising good news for Democrats' in redistricting? Not so fast

In the week leading up to the anniversary of the J6 insurrection, we were reminded of the greatest threat America’s wonky democracy faces.

No, it isn’t Donald Trump, nor his army of Auschwitz-appreciators, recreational horse dewormer enthusiasts and QAnon clowns waiting for JFK Jr. to parachute into Dealey Plaza.

It isn’t the remaining Koch brother, the one who apparently won his one-dollar bet with the other Koch. It isn’t even very vaccinated Rupert Murdoch and his malevolent Kendall Roy, who have turned their super-spreader “news” channel into Covid-19’s most infectious ally.

What could be worse than these wannabe tyrants?

READ: There are disturbing parallels between the 2020s and 1940s in the U.S.

It’s the normalization of the GOP minority domination.

This shrugging acceptance of the perversion of our elections helped to make true democracy an exception in America rather than the rule — especially at the federal level.

And nowhere has the GOP’s success at withering away our democracy been more obvious than when we hear the huge yawn across the media after they’ve successfully stolen power from the voters through gerrymandering.

The Cook Report noted on January 4 that the ongoing redistricting process showed some “surprising good news for Democrats.” That good news? Republicans are merely the favorites to win the House in 2022 and for much of the rest of the decade but not an absolute lock.

READ: Prominent QAnon anti-vaxxer who called for Anthony Fauci’s execution dies of COVID-19

The Wall Street Journal jumped in to mock the 150 political scientists who declared we’re approaching “midnight” for democracy due to “partisan politicization” unless Congress passes the Freedom to Vote Act.

What exactly are we supposed to be celebrating here?

That the majority party in America — the party that has won the popular vote in seven out of the last eight elections — will be allowed to compete for control of the House of Representatives with merely a significant disadvantage because Republicans?

Cook Report’s Dave Wasserman told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent that among the reasons for the GOP’s “restraint” is that it has been forced to play “keep away” with the districts it has squirreled away with Cirque du Soleil-style contortions of political maps.

READ: 'Traitor' Jim Jordan mocked for refusing to comply with Jan. 6 committee — after declaring 'nothing to hide'

“A number of their own districts have become more vulnerable over the past 10 years,” he said. “They’ve had no choice but to focus on shoring those districts up.”

In other words, they focused on cementing their unearned majorities rather than expanding them.

Absent in this discussion is any honest assessment of the high crime against democracy the GOP pulled off in 2010, led by Karl Rove’s Redistricting Majority Project (REDMAP) — a not-so-secret evil plan Rove announced in a column in the Wall Street Journal that ran with the shameless subhead “He who controls redistricting can control Congress.”

And control redistricting Rove and the GOP did.

READ: Cult survivor explains how Trump 'weaponizes' the 'us vs. them' tactics of a 'cult leader'

Like Dick Cheney conducting a VP search.

The Brennan Center’s Michael Li noted that, in 2011, “The nation saw some of the most gerrymandered and racially discriminatory maps in its history.”

It’s hard to minimize how destructive extreme partisan gerrymandering can be.

It hurts access to health care, limits affected citizens’ access to credit and leaves tens of millions of Americans without a representative who will be accountable to anyone outside the party’s base, as competitive districts have become as rare as elected Republicans who will admit they’ve been vaccinated.

READ: Noam Chomsky: 'Proto-fascism' and 'white nationalism are prime ingredients of the GOP’s slow-motion coup

But these ills are mild compared to the threats to democracy that gerrymandering has enabled in the last decade.

Replacing elections with selections of voters has directly fed the rise of the white nationalism within the GOP that gave us Donald Trump, the J6 insurrection and the “Eastman plot” for a soft coup that came one Mike-Pence-phone-call-to-Dan-Quayle away from succeeding.

A 2018 study found that the whiter a congressional district is, the more likely it is to be represented by a Republican. This is the evitable result of Rove’s REDMAP project and attempts to consolidate Republican voters, who are significantly whiter than our still mostly white electorate.

And because House Republicans mostly occupy safe seats where they’ll compete almost exclusively for the votes of a diverse group of voters whose complexions range from “eggshell” to “eczema,” white identity politics isn’t a choice for most candidates. It’s a requirement.

READ: Automated killer robots aren't science fiction anymore — and the world isn't ready

This explains why the GOP ignored the RNC’s 2013 “autopsy” after Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss, which embraced comprehensive immigration reform. Instead, House Republicans went on to repeatedly vote to deport the DREAMers, immigrants brought to this country as children whose path to citizenship is supported by about three out of four voters. This pandering to the far-white paved the way for Trump to goose step his way to the GOP nomination in 2016 by accusing immigrants of pretty much any crime he imagined (or possibly saw) his old pal Jeffrey Epstein committing.

When Trump lost in 2020 and decided to try to cling to power by seeking to convince Mike Pence to throw the election “back to the states,” this fantastical plan was only conceivable because partisan gerrymandering had given Republicans an insulated lock on legislatures in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — even when they received fewer overall votes than their Democratic opponents.

These gerrymandered-for-the-GOP’s-pleasure majorities in key states are exactly what Trump is imagining as he leads his party in the effort to sever the Electoral College from anything resembling the will of the voters in order to carry off a successful coup in 2024.

Apologists of the attrition of America’s democracy make all kinds of excuses to help normalize the slow drip forming the stalactite that will eventually fall and stab what’s left of our democracy’s heart.

It’s geography! It’s normal! Democrats do it, too!

All of these excuses fuel the GOP’s shamelessness.

And they’re lies.

Redistricting reforms in Democratic states, which would be implemented nationally if the Freedom to Vote Act became law (and somehow survived the Supreme Court), managed to forge fair maps that are far more generous to the Republicans than any Republicans would ever be to Democrats.

There are myriad reasons why voting rights issues are treated as a triviality or the hobbyhorse of one political party. Affluent white people — the sort of people who usually become prominent commentators or take-slingers — generally have shorter waits for voting. And they likely aren’t related or sympathetic to the millions and millions of Black Americans who were alive pre-1965 when their right to vote wasn’t anything close to a right.

Moreso, covering the reality of the GOP’s obsession with minority rule honestly requires abandoning the pretense that we still have two major political parties. It would force you to admit that instead we have one imperfect party struggling to Band-Aid together a coalition and an increasingly authoritarian cult that thrives as a national party by keeping people of color from ballots.

Greg Sargent also has an excellent post about how a “both-sides” press might cover a successful Trump coup in the next presidential election, a year later. But we don’t need to guess what that might look like. It will look exactly like the way the press covers Republicans’ gerrymandering.

And we should expect to be cheerfully informed of “surprising good news,” like President Trump not arresting all his political opponents … yet.

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