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GOP senators orchestrate 'blockade' of key Biden agenda bills

Republicans Tuesday evening killed debate on the For the People Act, a key component of Democrats' agenda to protect democracy, expand and strengthen voting rights, and reduce the influence of dark money in elections. As Senators were voting on the motion to begin debate on the bill, news broke that the GOP Whip, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota had announced another critical piece of Democratic legislation, the infrastructure bill, was even further in doubt.

GOP Senators appeared to be orchestrating a complete and total shutdown of key legislation critical to President Joe Biden's progressive agenda.

Democratic Majority Leader Schumer immediately denounced Republicans' "blockade."

Sen. Thune also said Republicans would oppose a slimmed down version of a voting rights bill:

60 votes were required to begin debate on the voting rights bill. The motion failed in a 50-50 vote. As voting was taking place GOP Minority Leader Mitch mcConnell could be seen huddling with other top Republican Senators including John Cornyn of Texas and John Kennedy of Louisiana.

The only option to pass the bill now would be for a simple majority of Senators agree to kill the 60-vote filibuster. Some are supporting a modification to 55 votes. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona had steadfastly refused to support killing the filibuster.

"This is a dark day in this country," Al Sharpton said on MSNBC.

"This is a dark day for Republicans," host Nicolle Wallace replied. "Republicans won't just walk over norms, they will burn them down," she told host Ari Melber during the handoff.

Voting rights expert Ari Berman weighed in, chastising the GOP:

The legacy of 'daddy issues' among presidents

President Joe Biden often talks about the close relationship he had with his father and how this influenced him growing up as “the scrappy kid from Scranton," Pennsylvania

Biden was born into wealth, the son of a polo-playing yachtsman. But his father, Joe Biden Sr., lost his job after World War II and abused alcohol, struggling financially for years before getting back on his feet and finding middle-class work selling cars near Wilmington, Delaware.

Sunday, June 20, is Father's Day. Biden's relationship with his father contrasts with perhaps every president in the last four decades, who had either absent or distant fathers or abusive or alcoholic fathers or stepfathers.

“The measure of a man is not how often he is knocked down," Joe Biden Sr. told his son, “but how quickly he gets up."

His father's support boosted young Joe's political career, and offered comfort when Joe Jr.'s wife and daughter were killed in a car crash.

On the 2020 presidential campaign trail, Biden remembered his late father's belief that “there's no higher calling for a woman or a man than to be a good mother or a good father."

This will be my first Father's Day without my own father, who died in August 2020 at age 95. He, too, believed in the calling of fatherhood. My father and mother were there for us. They encouraged us to follow our own dreams and not theirs.

This sort of supportive father-child relationship is common – except perhaps in politics.

Former congressional staffer and political journalist Barron YoungSmith once wrote an article for Slate with the headline, “Why Do So Many Politicians Have Daddy Issues?" “American politics," he wrote, “is overflowing with stories of absent fathers, alcoholic fathers, neglectful fathers."

Ford, Reagan, Clinton

Gerald Ford's father, Leslie Lynch King Sr., was an abusive alcoholic. Ford's mother left King 16 days after the future president was born, when her husband threatened her and her infant son with a butcher knife. Ford's mother married Gerald Rudolff Ford. When he was 22, Ford changed his name from Leslie Lynch King Jr. to Gerald Rudolph Ford.

Jimmy Carter's father, James Earl Carter Sr., was a high school dropout who encouraged his son to read, a hard worker who urged his son to work hard, and a devoted husband and father. He served in the Georgia Legislature but died during his first term of pancreatic cancer at age 58.

Unlike other presidents, Jimmy Carter did not have to search for his father, who never left. Carter's upbringing stood in contrast to both Ford, the man who preceded him in the White House, and Reagan, the one who followed him.

YoungSmith wrote that Ronald Reagan remained haunted by the moment he found “his alcoholic father on the front porch … his hair filled with snow." Reagan said his father was “drunk, dead to the world." Reagan, who was then 11, had to drag his father into the house. He spent the rest of life trying to connect with a man who was not there for him.

Psychologist Robert E. Gilbert said Reagan can be properly understood only as the child of an alcoholic. “Alcoholic parents leave deep marks on their children's lives; even after those children become adults," Gilbert said, adding that Reagan was aloof and distant, living in a world of make-believe where he craved approval.

Bill Clinton's biological father, William Jefferson Blythe Jr., died in a car accident before his son was born. Clinton was raised by a stepfather who was an abusive alcoholic and regularly beat his wife, Clinton's mother. The beatings stopped after Clinton stood up to his stepfather.

The Bushes

George H.W. Bush experienced the burden of having a great man as a father. His father, Prescott, was a Wall Street investment banker who became a U.S. senator and an influential leader in the Republican Party.

George H.W. moved to Texas to escape his father's shadow. He then relied on his father's influential friends to make a fortune in oil before entering politics, where he served as a congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, vice president of the United States and then president.

G.H.W. Bush's oldest son, George W., responded to the pressures of having a great man as a father by drinking too much before quitting drinking and using his father's influence to help him become governor of Texas and then U.S. president. YoungSmith said that George W. “spent his entire life, including his presidency, careening between attempts to live up to H.W.'s impossible expectations and efforts to garishly repudiate them."

Obama and Trump

George W. Bush's failures as president contributed to the election of Barack Obama, the first Black president. Obama's parents separated when he was two, when his father left Hawaii and returned to his home country of Kenya. The father-son relationship became the basis for his autobiography, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," where he wrote about the difficulty of not having a father around to help him navigate the issues of being a Black man in a white-dominated country.

“It hardly bears recounting that President Obama built his political persona around a search for his absent dad," YoungSmith said.

Obama was succeeded as president by Donald Trump, who once said he was “so screwed up, because I had a father that pushed me pretty hard."

Fred Trump Sr., a real estate magnate, bullied and intimidated one son – Fred Jr., who died of alcoholism when he was 42. Fred rejected another son, Donald, sending him off to military school when he was 12. When Donald returned, Fred taught his son to be a “killer" in business, that the ends justified the means and that empathy was a sign of weakness.

Freddy just wasn't a killer," Donald said of his brother.

Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist who was the daughter of Fred Trump Jr., said this lack of empathy prevented her uncle, Donald Trump, from acknowledging human suffering, including the widespread death associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

“Acknowledging the victims of COVID-19 would be to associate himself with their weakness, a trait his father taught him to despise," Mary Trump wrote.

Biden, by contrast, talked openly on the 2020 campaign trial about his love for his father and about his own grieving over the death of his son, Beau, who died from brain cancer in 2015. In doing so, he made a very human and relatable connection between his own father, himself, and his own approach to fatherhood.

[Like what you've read? Want more? Sign up for The Conversation's daily newsletter.]The Conversation

Chris Lamb, Professor of Journalism, IUPUI

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

These two 'Biden-Republican' districts highlight Colorado's leftward trend over the last decade

Daily Kos Elections has calculated the 2020 presidential results for every state Senate and state House district in Colorado, a one-time swing state that has shifted sharply to the left over the last few years. You can find all of our district-level data nationwide at this bookmarkable permalink.

Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by a wide 55-42 margin, which was the best Democratic performance at the top of the ticket since Lyndon Johnson's 1964 landslide. Unsurprisingly, Democrats also maintained their majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

In the House, where all seats are up every two years, Democrats enjoy the same 41-24 majority they went into 2020 with. Team Blue took control of the lower chamber in 2004 after 28 years in the minority and, apart from the two years following the 2010 Republican wave, they've held it ever since. Crossover voting helped the GOP, but not nearly enough: Republicans hold all 22 Trump districts but just two of the chamber's 43 seats that went for Biden.

Those two Biden-Republican seats illustrate Colorado's overall leftward trajectory well. In HD-43 in Douglas County, state Rep. Kevin Van Winkle won his fourth and final term 53-47 despite Biden winning his district 52-46. Only a few years ago, though, it would have been shocking to imagine a Democratic presidential candidate winning in a constituency located in what has long been Team Red's biggest source of strength in the Denver area: Mitt Romney carried Van Winkle's HD-43 by a wide 58-40 margin, while Trump won it 49-42. Even in 2018, Republican Walker Stapleton took this seat 51-47 despite losing the governor's race to Democrat Jared Polis in a 53-43 blowout.

His colleague is Colin Larson, who secured his second term 51-46 in HD-22, a 49-48 Biden district in neighboring Jefferson County that also was solidly red not long ago: Trump won it 50-41 in 2016 and Romney carried it 55-43 four years earlier.

In the Senate, meanwhile, Biden won 23 districts to Trump's 12, with Republicans occupying all the Trump seats plus three Biden constituencies, leaving Democrats with a 20-15 advantage overall. Only half of the chamber is up each cycle, though, so only two of these Republicans had to fight against anti-Trump headwinds last year.

One was state Sen. Robert Rankin, who was reelected 50.6-49.4 as his SD-08 in western Colorado went for Biden 52-46; the other was state Sen. Kevin Priola, who won another term 51-49 in SD-25 despite Biden's 52-45 victory in this slice of suburban Denver. The final Biden Republican is Minority Leader Chris Holbert, who will be termed out in 2022; his SD-30, also in the Denver 'burbs, went for Biden 50-48.

While Democrats look dominant in the Senate now, that advantage only solidified after years of rough fighting. After flipping the chamber in 2004, Democrats emerged from the 2012 elections holding the same 20-15 majority they have now, but the NRA financed a successful recall campaign against two Democratic legislators the following year that whittled the party's Senate edge to just a single seat.

Democrats recaptured those two districts in 2014 but lost three others, a result that handed Republicans a one-seat edge, which they clung to in 2016 despite Hillary Clinton's 48-43 victory in the state. It wasn't until the 2018 blue wave that Democrats were able to recapture a 19-16 majority, which they expanded last year.

New maps will replace the current districts next year, but Democrats' top-to-bottom takeover of state government nonetheless won't give them authority over the coming round of redistricting. That's because voters approved two independent redistricting commissions, one for Congress and one for the state legislature, in 2018. The congressional commission is slated to release a preliminary map on Wednesday while the panel handling the legislative redraw will do so for both chambers next week.

'Monster': Internet makes #AbbottHatesDogs trend after Texas Governor vetos bipartisan anti-cruelty bill

#BetoLovesDogs Rises

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott is under fire for vetoing the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, bipartisan legislation to protect dogs by making it illegal to tie them up with heavy chains outdoors, or leave them without water or shade. He criticized the bill as "micro-managing and over-criminalization."

The legislation "would have expanded and clarified the state's animal cruelty laws," and "had the support of animal control officers, law enforcement agencies and organizations, county prosecutors, and advocates for animals, and it passed 28-3 in the Senate and 83-32 in the House," as The Week reports.

Abbott increasingly has been in the national news, amid speculation he might run for the White House in 2024. He is also facing a possible primary from the right. As #AbbottHatesDogs trended on social media the Texas Republican governor posted a clip of his two dogs. It did not seem to help.

Vetoing legislation to protect dogs does not seem to have helped his future prospects, as many social media users appear to think, but it did help former U.S. Congressman Beto O'Rourke's fortunes as people started to post #BetoLovesDogs tweets.

Mississippi wrongly paid out almost $118 million in unemployment claims: auditor

Reporting on deep red states like Mississippi often describes efforts by Republican lawmakers to make life more difficult for the poor in their states. But according to Mississippi State Auditor's Office, the state wrongly paid out almost $118 million in unemployment claims during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Mississippi State Auditor Shad White, in an official statement, said, "It's more important than ever to understand the mistakes that were made when money was flowing so freely during COVID."

According to Lee O. Sanderlin, a reporter for the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger, "Of the incorrect payments, some were cases of stolen identity, some were part of international unemployment fraud schemes, some went to people who never lost their jobs, and others went to people who were in jail, the report says…. The Department of Employment Security cannot yet determine how much unemployment money was given to fraudsters and how much was incorrectly paid to people who made mistakes filing for benefits, according to Stephanie Palmertree, director of finance and compliance for the Mississippi State Auditor's Office."

Sanderlin reports that the Mississippi State Auditor's Office "suggests many of the wrong payments went undetected by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, or MDES, because its staff were overwhelmed by the sheer number of unemployment claims filed at the pandemic's start."

'His silence is breathtaking': Biden under fire for going silent on voting rights

With Senate Republicans expected to successfully filibuster the For the People Act on Tuesday, progressive activists, lawmakers, and some prominent figures within the Democratic mainstream are criticizing President Joe Biden for failing to use his bully pulpit to publicly fight for the popular bill as the GOP assault on ballot access intensifies nationwide.

"The For the People Act will be voted on today. Where's Biden?" asked Robert Reich, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who served as Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration.

"Why isn't he making the case to the American people? Why isn't he strong-arming Manchin? Why isn't he on the Hill buttonholing senators? The most important voting rights bill in 56 years. His silence is breathtaking," Reich continued. "I like Biden but he's been AWOL on voting rights and ending the filibuster, which are critical to everything else America must achieve."

In late March, the president condemned Republican-led voter suppression efforts in Georgia and dozens of other states as "pernicious" and promised to "do everything in [his] power" to protect the franchise.

But while the White House insists that protecting voting rights remains at the top of Biden's agenda, progressives say the president has been missing in action as GOP attacks on voting rights continue to advance in state legislatures across the country. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Republicans have introduced at least 389 voter suppression bills in 48 states since the beginning of the year, and 22 have become law.

"Is saving democracy a priority for this administration or not?" Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, wrote in a series of tweets on Monday. "Right-wing zealots are systematically dismantling our democratic institutions. I don't want to see some tepid public statement."

Pointing to the aggressive public messaging that past presidents used to advance their legislative priorities, Levin wrote: "I hope Joe Biden cares about saving our democracy as much as Bill Clinton cared about NAFTA. As much Barack Obama cared about the Affordable Care Act. As much as every Republican president cares about tax cuts for their donors."

"Democracy is under threat," Levin added. "Fascism is rising. Time is running out. It's time for the president to get off the sidelines and into the game, or we're all going to lose."

Asked during a Monday briefing to specify what Biden has done in recent weeks to bolster the Senate's chances of passing a voting rights bill to counter GOP-led suppression attempts, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president has "had conversations, obviously, with members about supporting this legislation, including Senator [Joe] Manchin," the only member of the Senate Democratic caucus who has refused to co-sponsor the For the People Act.

"As it relates to the filibuster: You know, I don't think you have to take it from us," Psaki added. "That would be Congress moving forward or making a decision. If the vote is unsuccessful tomorrow, it will... we suspect it will prompt a new conversation about the path forward, and we'll see where that goes."

Psaki's remarks came as more than 480 Democratic state legislators from all 50 states signed on to a letter (pdf) pleading for federal action to shield voting rights, warning: "We are out of options. We need your help."

"The world is watching," reads the letter, which was addressed to Democratic and Republican congressional leaders. "American democracy is in the balance. When future generations judge whether we rose to this pivotal moment in history, we hope you will be counted alongside us in the fight to preserve this experiment in self-governance."

The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday evening on a motion to proceed to debate on the For the People Act, which would establish federal standards for absentee voting, institute a national automatic voter registration system, strengthen donor disclosure requirements, and bar states from purging voter rolls.

Under current Senate rules, procedural motions are subject to the 60-vote legislative filibuster, meaning Democrats will need the support of at least 10 Republicans to advance the voting rights bill. Thus far, not one Republican has backed the For the People Act or a watered-down alternative that Manchin put forth last week.

As activists anticipate the outcome of Tuesday's vote and gear up for nationwide demonstrations, it remains unclear how Biden intends to respond to the GOP's likely filibuster of the For the People Act. Biden doesn't have any voting rights-related public events or speeches scheduled ahead of or immediately after Tuesday's vote, and the president has largely been quiet about the filibuster since he endorsed reforming the rule in mid-March.

"We need President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris talking about the threats to our democracy every single day until we pass the For the People Act to protect voting rights and get money out of politics. Period," Indivisible tweeted Monday.

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) echoed that message, writing, "Our democracy is in crisis and we need the president to act like it."

Columnist explains how Manchin got Republicans to admit their goal is 'voter suppression' — not 'election integrity'

Among liberals and progressives, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has recently been the most criticized Democrat in the U.S. Senate — with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a fellow centrist, running neck and neck. Countless Democrats expressed their frustration with Manchin when he came out against the "For the People Act" in its current form, and some of them were not thrilled with the compromise that he offered. But that compromise, liberal opinion writer Catherine Rampell stresses in her Washington Post column, has served a useful purpose by showing that Republicans are not serious about "election integrity" as they claim.

"Manchin has become the bane of progressives' existence — for lots of reasons," Rampell explains in her June 21 column. "He balked at raising the federal minimum wage to $15 or hiking the corporate tax rate to 28%. He opposes the For the People Act, his party's sweeping elections reform bill, because it lacks bipartisan support. Most consequentially, he refuses to nuke the filibuster and bristles at passing more legislation through reconciliation, arguing that major bills such as a proposed infrastructure package should have Republican buy-in."

After Manchin proposed an alternative to the "For the People Act" in its current form, some progressives attacked his compromise as too watered down. But Stacey Abrams wasn't one of them. The Georgia-based Democratic organizer was willing to accept Manchin's compromise if that was what it took to get him to vote in favor of a voting rights bill. Senate Republicans, however, were quick to reject Manchin's offer.

"Manchin did something very clever when he offered a compromise on election-reform legislation," Rampell notes. "In a memo, Manchin proposed building upon parts of the For the People Act and a narrower bill, known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, with a few amendments. His proposal would make Election Day a public holiday, require two weeks of early voting, automatically register voters through motor vehicle departments and eliminate partisan gerrymandering. It's not everything Democrats want — and has some oversights — but it addresses most of the party's goals for promoting free and fair elections…. For instance, Manchin's proposal includes a nationwide voter ID requirement."

Manchin, Rampell adds, "also conspicuously omitted Democratic initiatives that Republicans claim, without evidence, lead to voter fraud, such as mandatory same-day voter registration, stand-alone drop boxes and no-excuse absentee voting."

"Democrats didn't love these choices, but key party leaders endorsed Manchin's framework as a useful compromise all the same," Rampell observes. "Republicans, on the other hand, rejected the framework. Immediately, forcefully, unambiguously."

The West Virginia senator, according to Rampell, has succeed in making Senate Republicans look very bad.

"By ceding ground on 'election security' and effectively taking the issue off the table," Rampell writes, "Manchin just proved Republicans never actually cared about election security. Not election security in the past — i.e., the 2020 presidential election they pretend was 'stolen' — and not at some hypothetical point in the future. Their goal was always to use gerrymandering and voter suppression just to make it harder for Democrats to win elections."

Rampell goes on to say, "Maybe Manchin was surprised by Republicans' knee-jerk rejection of his completely reasonable compromise. Another way to interpret last week's events is that Manchin slyly revealed Republicans' stated concerns about stolen elections — and their professed desire to work across the aisle — as the baloney they always were."

Ruling by Trump-appointed judge gives feds 'green light' to attack protesters: ACLU

The ACLU reacted with outrage—and warned of potentially major implications for the right to protest—after a Trump-appointed federal judge on Monday largely dismissed lawsuits accusing the former president and his attorney general of illegally authorizing a violent assault on peaceful demonstrators in the nation's capital last year.

Filed by the ACLU last June on behalf of Black Lives Matter D.C. and individual demonstrators, the suits alleged that Trump administration officials conspired to clear Lafayette Square of racial justice protesters to make way for then-President Donald Trump's infamous walk to nearby St. John's Episcopal Church. Critics denounced Trump's walk and subsequent threatening remarks in front of the church as a gross photo op amid nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich of Washington, D.C. argued in a 51-page ruling (pdf) Monday that the plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient evidence of a "conspiracy" among Trump administration officials to clear the square for the president's photo op in violation of protesters' constitutional rights.

As the Washington Post reported:

Friedrich acknowledged claims that Trump tweeted threats and encouragement of violence against protesters, and ordered [then-Attorney General William] Barr to take charge of the situation before Barr mobilized law enforcement and appeared at the square just before it was cleared.
The judge also said the square was cleared right before Trump, Barr, and [then-Defense Secretary Mark] Esper's walk to the church. But these events weren't enough to allow conspiracy claims to go forward without further, specific factual allegations, Friedrich wrote.

During oral arguments in the case last month, Friedrich signaled that even if it were demonstrated that the Trump administration violently dispersed the protesters to create a path for the president, she would accept the Biden Justice Department's argument that U.S. national security interests were served by the move.

"How do I get over the clear national security concern over the president's safety?" Friedrich asked. "It seems to me you have to clear the square before he [Trump] walks to the church. Why is that not reasonable?"

Scott Michelman, legal director of the ACLU's D.C. chapter, said in a statement that Friedrich's ruling "essentially gives the federal government a green light to use violence, including lethal force against demonstrators, as long as federal officials claim to be protecting national security."

"Under today's decision, Lafayette Square is now a Constitution-free zone when it comes to the actions of federal officials," Michelman continued. "Not only is this decision a stunning rejection of our constitutional values and protestors' First Amendment rights, but it effectively places federal officials above the law."

Last month, lawyers for the Biden Justice Department urged Friedrich to dismiss the lawsuits against Trump, Barr, and other former administration officials, arguing that they are immune from civil suits over the police actions in Lafayette Square, which included the use of chemical agents such as pepper balls.

While rejecting the lawsuits against federal officials, Friedrich did "allow lawsuits challenging continued restrictions of protester access to Lafayette Square and against local police agencies in Washington and Arlington County, Va., to proceed," the New York Times reported.

Michelman said Monday that the ACLU plans "to evaluate all our legal options to ensure that protestors cannot be wantonly attacked at the whim of a federal official."

"The blitzkrieg unleashed against civil rights demonstrators in Lafayette Square is a stain on our nation's commitment to the Constitution, and slamming the courthouse doors in the face of the demonstrators because the defendants are federal, rather than state or local officials, sends exactly the wrong message about what our country stands for," Michelman added. "Congress should plug this dangerous gap in our system of constitutional remedies by legislating that federal officers, no less than state and local ones, can be sued when they violate individuals' rights."

Biden-bashing doctor resigns after his rant about the 'Black race' prompts backlash

A Texas doctor is resigning from his position as a county official after receiving backlash from a Facebook post many see as racist, 12News reports.

Dr. George Zuzukin still has not admitted that he's the one behind the Facebook posts, which attack the Black community and local city officials. Zuzukin oversaw the Jefferson County Employee Health Clinic, which was a position where his salary was paid by taxpayers.

Screenshots of his rant were posted to Twitter, showing his suggesting that Beaumont City Councilman Audwin Samuel was only getting votes because he is Black. He also shared a meme that disparaged the Black community.

"...your idol MLK would side with law abiding citizens and not with thugs of BLM and ANTIFA!!!" Zuzukin allegedly wrote on Facebook. "after all it were (sic) white Republicans who abolished slavery and made black race years ago prosperous."

The post also calls President Joe Biden an "idiot imposter."

"I pray for him," Samuel said in response to the rant. "That is an evil spirit."

Respectable white people continue to give Republicans the benefit of the doubt. Why?

There seems to be some confusion, at least among certain respectable white people, about the meaning of hypocrisy and its application to today's Republican Party. The confusion is understandable. The outrage over the Republicans saying one thing and doing another may even yield concrete results in time. But even then, we should have clear in our minds that Republican rhetoric operates on two levels simultaneously. Most importantly, it is hostile toward the principle of universal political equality.

To illustrate, let me draw your attention to an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the largest and most influential daily newspaper in that area.1 In it, the editorial writer excoriates the 21 Republicans in the United States House of Representatives who voted against bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal to "the officers, of various police units, who put their lives on the line (and in one case, died) protecting those very lawmakers after then-President Donald Trump incited the mob to storm the Capitol."

Asked to choose between the anti-democracy thugs who assailed America's seat of government, or the small contingent of police officers who valiantly tried to stop them, these 21 elected representatives of the people chose … the thugs.

For generations, writes the editorial writer, the Republicans were celebrated as the party of law and order. "That was infused with some hypocrisy from the start—Nixon would ultimately be driven from the White House for his crimes in office—but in principle, at least, it aligned with a central tenet of conservatism: that respect for the law provides the restraint of passions that is necessary for society to thrive."

But that was before the former president came along. "While in office, Trump's almost weekly displays of contempt for the restraints of the Constitution made Nixon look like a choirboy, culminating in his incitement of a riot in an attempt to retain power. And yet to this day, most congressional Republicans still kiss the Trumpian ring."

Since then, the editorial writer says, the GOP has shown it's "no longer defined by respect for the law." In addition to the 21 Republicans failing to honor heroic cops, the editorial writer cites Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, who said that "a rioter who was shot to death by an officer as she breached a Capitol window had been 'executed'." Also cited is Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a former sheriff, who signed into law a bill "to impose heavy fines against local police departments if they enforce federal gun laws." The editorial concludes: "'Law and order' is just another empty slogan designed to own the libs. All that today's Republican Party actually believes in is power."

Before I go on, let me say we are in a very good place if respectable white people of the kind who write and consume newspaper editorials in the country's major cities are offended by the appearance of Republican hypocrisy. That may counterbalance the outrage the Republicans are trying to invent (out of thin air) over "critical race theory." As I said last week, the Republicans don't know what CRT is. They don't want to know what CRT is. All they know is they already "know" what it is, enough for an ad-hoc scorched-earth campaign at the state level against free speech and free inquiry. Even if respectable white people are scared of the Republicans' newest boogeyman, they also know the Democrats never claimed, and will never claim, to be the party of CRT.

That said, I think respectable white people are making a grave error. They continue to give the Republicans the benefit of the doubt. How? By assuming the Republicans care about equal treatment under law. If they did, they really would be hypocrites. If you drop that assumption, however, everything makes much more sense. "Law and order" is not another empty slogan. It's an expression of ideology. They value a dual system of law and order—one for us and one for them. This is the proper view, I think, of the Republican acquittal of Donald Trump. A Republican president can be above the law. A Democratic president can't be. One is protected. One is punished. The Republicans want what American fascists always want: two legal systems, separate and unequal.

The editorial writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was right but only partly. It's not that the Republicans do not respect law and order. They deeply respect law and order as long as there are two sets, one for them and one for everyone else. What they do not respect is political equality. What they do not respect are attempts to hold them equally accountable. More ominously, what they want is a social order in which violence (white-power domestic terrorism) of the kind we saw on January 6 is a legitimate response to the "injustice" of a free and fair election. The insurgent shot to death at the Capitol was not a traitor, but instead a martyr to the cause of law and order.

It seems to me pretty clear that the Republicans don't care about equality or equal treatment under law. It seems to me pretty clear that certain respectable white people don't want to see the whole truth, because, as bad as the Republicans are, they aren't that bad for respectable white people. After all, respectable white people are going to benefit from a dual system of justice, whether or not they intend to. The trick, I think, is pushing them to see that there's more going on here than mere hypocrisy. The Republicans deeply respect "law and order." What they hate is America as it is.

Georgia GOP quickly moving to oust Democrats from local election posts

Republicans in Georgia are moving swiftly to capitalize on their election-law power grab by removing anyone in local election posts who might interfere with their efforts to suppress Democratic voters and manipulate election outcomes.

Lonnie Hollis is exactly that type of troublemaker, which is why Republicans will be ousting her this year from the Troup County election board in West Georgia, according to The New York Times.

"I speak out and I know the laws," said Hollis, a Black woman who has served on the board since 2013. "The bottom line is they don't like people that have some type of intelligence and know what they're doing, because they know they can't influence them."

Hollis and election board members in at least 10 other counties across the state are victims of the Georgia GOP's new power grabs. In Troup County, a local law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp handed over full control of the county election board to Republicans. The GOP-led county commission can now run the table on whatever changes it wants to make to the board, whereas election board members used to be chosen by county commissioners in conjunction with both political parties and the county's three biggest cities. Of the local election board members across Georgia who will likely either be replaced or eliminated, most are Democrats and five are people of color, according to the Times, but all of their seats will most likely be filled by Republicans.

Hollis, for instance, was clearly a problem—for which Republicans now have a solution. She has pushed for making voting more accessible by doing things like opening polls on Sunday and adding a new polling location at a Black church, for instance.

Georgia's statewide voter suppression law is one of 24 new election laws that Republican-led legislatures have enacted in more than a dozen states, with more likely to come. Some of those laws have included both front-end and back-end manipulations to protect against outcomes that Republicans don't like. So alongside restricting who can vote, Republican lawmakers have also taken power away from elected officials, put a stranglehold on state election boards, and empowered themselves to overturn any unfortunate election results.

But these early moves in Georgia suggest the fears of many voting rights advocates are already afoot. If partisan Republicans are already taking action to remove any Democratic and Republican local election board members who threaten to act in good faith in a disputed contest, then it's clear that they are already stacking the decks to get the results they want, regardless of who Georgia voters choose to represent them.

"It's a thinly veiled attempt to wrest control from officials who oversaw one of the most secure elections in our history and put it in the hands of bad actors," said Jena Griswold, chairwoman of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State and the current Colorado secretary of state. "The risk is the destruction of democracy."

As election law expert and founder of Democracy Docket Marc Elias tweeted, "This is not normal. It is wrong. It is dangerous. And, it is happening."

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