Saturday, April 30, 2022


If you're wondering what your right-wing uncle thinks is the most important news story in America right now, a quick look at the Fox News front page provides the answer:

Or you could look at Breitbart's front page:

What's all this about? Here's the story:
The Department of Homeland Security is stepping up an effort to counter disinformation coming from Russia as well as misleading information that human smugglers circulate to target migrants hoping to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The spread of disinformation can affect border security, Americans’ safety during disasters, and public trust in our democratic institutions,” the department said in a statement Wednesday....

A newly formed Disinformation Governance Board [was] announced Wednesday....
More, from The Washington Post's Aaron Blake:
The Department of Homeland Security’s creation of a Disinformation Governance Board has set off a backlash on the right — even as it’s not entirely clear what the perhaps unfortunately named board will do.

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas mentioned the creation of the board in multiple congressional hearings this week. In one, he linked it to efforts to combat misinformation from human smugglers. In another, he said it would be used to counter Russian cyber and election misinformation....

Amid growing anti-censorship fervor on the right, a bevy of Republicans have suggested that the initiative amounts to policing speech. Elon Musk declared it “messed up.” Many on the right likened it to the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell’s book “1984.”
Combatting misinformation on immigration is something you'd think Republicans would like, and, in fact, National Review's Jim Geraghty approves of the idea in theory.
... since at least 2014, the U.S. has been bedeviled by the perception in some Central American countries that the United States is offering “permisos” for children who cross the border illegally — a rumor that picked up steam after President Obama announced he would not deport children who had come into the country illegally with their parents. If this new DHS group spends its time publicly declaring that there are no special, secret, or little-known loopholes for migrants who wish to enter the U.S., it will do some good.
Everyone should also want the United States to counter Russian disinformation, though I realize this is controversial in the GOP.

Unfortunately, as Blake notes, it's just too easy for Republicans to mischaracterize this effort as Orwellian and aimed at American citizens. Republicans are the problem because they lie about everything, and lie in lockstep because they know that's how lies spread most effectively -- but couldn't the Biden administration have anticipated the backlash and been ready to counter it?

I'm not saying that Democrats should always be in a defensive crouch. I'm saying that you should be able to predict what's coming from Republicans and have a plan to neutralize it, for the same reason you make a presidential limousine bulletproof: You know there's a high risk of an attack, so you do something in advance to render any attack harmless.

Let's start with the name. Why the creepy "Disinformation Governance Board"? Blake tells us:
... the Trump administration’s DHS undertook similar efforts; in 2018 it created the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which dealt extensively with the spread of misinformation online — including both foreign interference in elections and the domestic spread of coronavirus misinformation. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the new board would be “a continuation of the work of the former president” when asked about it Friday.
So if you're continuing the old agency's work, why not just retain the name "Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency" and quietly adjust its focus? Why make trouble for yourself with this new name?

Some of the attacks are absurd. Republicans -- who love Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals -- are following Alinsky's twelfth rule ("Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it") by focusing on the woman chosen to head the board. Blake writes,
[Republicans have] also questioned the fitness of the board’s executive director, Nina Jankowicz, who has in the past supported Democrats, praised efforts to crack down on coronavirus misinformation on social media and expressed skepticism about the provenance of Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Jankowicz has a musical theater background, so the GOP is targeting her online vocal performances. This one, about her anti-disinformation work, got up Ted Cruz's nose:

This one gave Breitbart the vapors:
Before her new job at the Department of Homeland Security, President Joe Biden’s new disinformation chief Nina Jankowicz displayed her musical talent on YouTube.

In one video, Jankowicz sings a version of “My Simple Christmas Wish (Rich, Famous, and Powerful)” by David Friedman.

“I want to be rich famous and powerful! Step on all my enemies and never do a thing,” she sings as a piano plays in the background.

Jankowicz sang an edited version of the song to include “Who do I fuck” to be “famous and powerful,” instead of the original lyrics “who do I have to fake”

The video was first posted in 2015....

But they also don't like Jankowicz's criticism of the COVID lab leak theory, her opposition to gendered abuse online, and her factually accurate assertion that some people who give birth don't identify as female.

Maybe none of this matters and the board will establish itself as an effective force against truly dangerous disinformation. But it still annoys me that Democrats don't see these waves of outrage coming. They don't seem to know how to operate in the political environment of 2022. They need to do a better job of predicting and preparing for the bad-faith attacks of Republicans.

Friday, April 29, 2022


A few days ago I wrote about the Utah Democratic Party's decision not to endorse a Democrat in the state's Senate race this year, in the hope that incumbent Republican senator Mike Lee will be unseated by Evan McMullin, a right-centrist independent who says he won't caucus with the Democrats (or with Republicans) if he's elected. Yesterday I learned from a New York Times story that Democrats don't have a candidate in another Senate race, this one in Alaska, where election laws seem to make it possible for a Democrat to win.
In a year when control of Congress is at stake and the Republican Party is dominated by the reactionary right, [Lisa] Murkowski is attempting something almost unheard-of: running for re-election as a proud G.O.P. moderate willing to defy party orthodoxy.

... under a new set of election rules engineered by her allies, Ms. Murkowski does not have to worry about a head-to-head contest with a more conservative opponent. Instead, she will compete in an Aug. 16 primary open to candidates of any political stripe, followed by a general election in which voters will rank the top four to emerge from the primary to determine a winner.

... there is now no Democrat going up against Ms. Murkowski in the race....
Democratic state senator Elvi Gray-Jackson dropped out of the race a month ago. Dr. Alan Gross, who lost the 2020 Senate race to incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan, is running for the state's only House seat, against Sarah Palin and dozens of other candidates. In the Senate race,the filing deadline is June 1, but for now the field includes four Republicans, two independents and a Libertarian.

In the 2020 Senate race, Gross lost -- in a conventional election -- with 41% of the vote. It seems to me that a non-partisan primary followed by a general election involving the top four primary finishers could easily end in a win by someone who got 41% of the vote in a previous statewide election. Yet Gross passed on the race and no other Democrat is in.

I understand why. Murkowski's toughest challenger is Kelly Tshibaka, a Trumpist Republican who has written in support of gay conversion therapy and argued that the Harry Potter and Twilight books are demonic. Murkowski is a centrist who sometimes votes with the Democrats -- although the last big vote on which her decision to cross the aisle was decisive was the 2017 vote to repeal Obamacare, when she joined John McCain, Susan Collins, and Senate Democrats to block repeal. She didn't vote against any of Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominees, and her vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson wasn't needed. She's done nothing to break the roadblocks preventing the enactment of most of President Biden's agenda.

Democrats appear to be afraid that the presence of a Democrat in the race will throw the race to Tshibaka. But how much effective difference would a Tshibaka victory make in the Senate? How many times will the outcome of an important vote depend on Murkowski voting in a way that Tshibaka wouldn't? And isn't there a decent chance that a four-way, ranked-choice vote could split in favor of an appealing Democrat?

Is this how the Democratic Party dies? Taking a dive in a race here and a race there, and then eventually withdrawing from more and more contests?

I can easily imagine the 2024 presidential election approaching with the two most likely Democratic presidential candidates, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, still low in the polls, and the most likely alternative, Pete Buttigieg, not particularly popular either. Imagine that Biden and Donald Trump are running again, and because much of the public doesn't want either one to win, a celebrity third-party candidate -- Mark Cuban or The Rock or Matthew McConaughey -- tests the waters and starts doing well in the polls. Or maybe it's an anti-Trump media favorite -- Liz Cheney, John Kasich, Larry Hogan. Imagine there are polls showing Biden trailing Trump in both a two-way and a three-way race, with the third candidate gaining support. Wouldn't a few pundits start suggesting that Democrats consider sitting out the 2024 presidential election, for the good of the country?

I offer these doomy Eeyore scenarios because I don't see Democrats making efforts to repair the brand -- either their party's or the president's and vice president's. I see a handful of Democrats passionately defending our ideals and attacking the actions of Republicans -- Mallory McMorrow and Jamie Raskin most recently -- but I don't see a party-wide campaign that defines Republicans as the extremists they are. Right now, Democrats are doing the same things over and over again -- struggling to pass bills, limiting their midterm pitch to kitchen-table issues on which they're not really delivering -- while expecting a different result.

Democrats need to make big changes. They need to learn how politics works in the 2020s. Unless they do that, they'll continue being asked to politely step aside in more and more races. Without a course correction, it might not be long before there's hardly any Democratic Party left.

Thursday, April 28, 2022


Writing for The New York Times, Jazmine Ulloa tells us about the latest Republican craze: claiming that undocument immigrants are voting for Democrats. And she really believes it's the latest:
G.O.P. Concocts New Fake Threat: Voter Fraud by Undocumented Immigrants

Far from the U.S.-Mexico border, Ohio’s Senate primary shows how the Republican obsession with the fiction of a stolen election has spawned a new cause for fear of illegal immigration.

Six years after former President Donald J. Trump paved his way to the White House on nativist and xenophobic appeals to white voters, the 2,000-mile dividing line between Mexico and the United States has once again become a fixation of the Republican Party.

But the resurgence of the issue on the right has come with a new twist: Republican leaders and candidates are increasingly claiming without basis that unauthorized immigrants are gaining access to the ballot box.

... that fabricated message — capitalizing on a concocted threat to advance Mr. Trump’s broader lie of stolen elections — is now finding receptive audiences in more than a dozen states across the country, including several far from the U.S.-Mexico border.

... Both Republicans and Democrats — especially the G.O.P. in recent years — have historically played into bigoted tropes that conflate illegal immigration and crime and that portray Latinos and Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners in their own country or, worse, an economic threat.

But the leap from unsecure borders to unsecure elections is newer.
(Emphasis added.)

No, it's not newer. This has been a staple of Republican rhetoric for nearly twenty years.

Ulloa is fairly young -- she graduated from college in 2009 -- but does she know nothing about this period in American politics? Do her editors, who presumably have been doing this a lot longer than she has, know nothing?

Well into the piece, she acknowledges that this isn't a completely new conspiracy theory.
Mr. Trump himself made that false claim in 2017, asserting without evidence that between three million and five million unauthorized immigrants had voted for Hillary Clinton. But the idea that immigrants, and Latinos specifically, are illegally entering the country to vote Democratic has been a fringe right-wing trope for years, said Mike Madrid, a Republican political consultant and co-founder of the Lincoln Project.
What does "fringe" mean in this context? The word reassures readers that the Republican Party was, for the most part, nice and polite before that nasty old Trump guy showed up, and will probably be just fine again once he's no longer being such a terrible influence on the otherwise fine people of the GOP.

Is the Heritage Foundation a "fringe" group? Here's Hans von Spakovsky writing on the Heritage website in 2008:
Thousands of non-citizens are registered to vote in some states, and tens if not hundreds of thousands in total may be present on the voter rolls nationwide. These numbers are significant: Local elections are often decided by only a handful of votes, and even national elections have likely been within the margin of the number of non-citizens illegally registered to vote.

... Unless and until immigrants become citizens, they must respect the laws that bar non-citizen voting. To keep non-citizens from diluting citizens' votes, Immigration and election officials must cooperate far more effectively than they have to date, and state and federal officials must increase their efforts to enforce the laws against non-citizen voting that are already on the books.
Are Republican state attorney generals "fringe"? From an Arizona newspaper in 2011:
Attorney General Tom Horne accused the Obama administration Tuesday of trying to thwart Arizona’s voter-ID laws in a bid to get more illegal immigrants to the polls — presumably to cast ballots for the president and Democrats.

Horne acknowledged that a brief filed by the Department of Justice in a case to be heard next month by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals centers around the agency’s argument that Arizona’s law requiring proof of citizenship to register is pre-empted by federal law. But Horne, a Republican, told Capitol Media Services he sees something more sinister.

“I think the motive is that the more illegals that vote, the better the Obama administration thinks it will do," he said.
Is Rush Limbaugh -- honorary member of the Republican House freshman class after the 1994 election, close friend of Dick Cheney, 2020 Presidential Medal of Freedom winner -- "fringe"? Here he is in 2013 discussing a proposal to issue federal ID cards to all Americans:
What's that going to do to vote fraud? Well, we can't have photo ID at the polls. So does this mean Democrats will be exempted from the federal ID card? Probably so, I mean, if these people hold true to form. Only Republicans and legal immigrants will get the federal ID card. Democrats and illegals will be exempted.
Is Ann Coulter -- bestselling author and frequent Bill Maher guest -- "fringe"? Title of a 2012 Coulter column: "Democrats’ Ideal Voter: Illegal Alien, Single Mother, Convicted Felon."

Maybe you think Louie Go hmert is "fringe," though he's been in Congress since 2005. Here he is in 2014:
Speaking with Newsmax host Steve Malzberg yesterday about the influx of Central American children and families at the Southern border, Rep. Louie Gohmert implied that President Obama was orchestrating the crisis in order to recruit millions of people to cast fraudulent ballots for Democrats and seize Texas from Republican control.

“In the end, they have said that they want to turn Texas blue, they want to turn America blue,” he said. “And if you bring in hundreds of thousands or millions of people and give them the ability to vote and tell them — as [former Republican congressman] Quico Canseco said, he had illegals in his district that were told, ‘If you want to keep getting the benefits, you have to vote, and President Obama’s lawyers are not going to allow them to ask for an ID, so go vote or you’re going to lose the benefits you’re getting now.’ That drives people to vote and it will ensure that Republicans don’t ever get elected again.”
This idea has been widespread in the GOP for many years. It may be more central to Republican rhetoric than it was in the past, but it's not new. Why doesn't a New York Times political reporter know that? Is it because the mainstream press has ignored the channels where Republicans talk to one another for many years, on the assumption that the "presentable" Republicans on Sundaty talk shows are the real party?


UPDATE: The Times has removed the word "New" from the headline, though not from the subhead. I also don't see any changes to the story.


Writing for The Atlantic, Mark Leibovich outlines a galaxy-brain strategy to rid our politics of Donald Trump:
... if Trump does decide to inflict himself on another [presidential] race, he will enter as the clear Republican favorite, enjoying a presumption of invincibility inside the GOP. This has engendered a belief that anyone who challenges Trump must tread lightly, or end up like the roadkill that his primary opponents became in 2016.

That notion is outdated.

Trump’s bizarre and enduring hold over his party has made it verboten for many Republicans to even utter publicly the unpleasant fact of his defeat—something they will readily acknowledge in private. I caught up recently with several Trump-opposing Republican strategists and former associates of the president who argued this restraint should end. The best way for a Republican to depose Trump in 2024, they said, will be to call Trump a loser, as early and as brutally as possible—and keep pointing out the absurdity of treating a one-term, twice-impeached, 75-year-old former president like a kingmaker and heir apparent. In other words, don’t worry about hurting Special Boy’s feelings.
Oh, is that all? Just say he was unsuccessful politician? Because I'm sure that would find a highly receptive audience among GOP voters in the 2024 primaries.

Leibovich is proposing that the winning strategy in a campaign against Trump is to say "Trump lost" to voters whose core belief is that he won: that he was robbed of his rightful victory by a vast "swamp"/left-wing conspiracy that had tried and failed to neutralize him via impeachment, out of fear that he might continue seizing the conspirators' power and giving it to We The People. This is what GOP voters actually believe, as Leibovich would know if he met some of them.

Leibovich continues:
“Why on earth would we hitch our wagons again to a crybaby sore loser who lost the popular vote twice, lost the House, lost the Senate, and lost the White House, and so on?” said Barbara Comstock, a longtime political consultant and former Republican congresswoman from Virginia. “For Republicans, whether they embrace the Big Lie or not, Trump is vulnerable to having the stench of disaster on him.”
Ah, yes, Barbara Comstock, a consultant whose highest-profile client was Mitt Romney in 2008 -- there's a person whose advice you want to take! I'm sure it'd be a piece of cake to sell the notion of Trump as a loser to voters who not only believe Trump's loss in 2020 was rigged, but also believe that Democrats rig every election, largely because that's what they've been told by Republican officeholders and Fox News since the Bush years. They don't think Trump is a failure because Congress and the White House are now (barely) in Democratic hands -- they think Trump is a success because he beat our all-powerful juggernaut once. It must be nice to live in Mark Leibovich's bubble, where he never has to meet an ordinary American who really believes all this. But they're out there, and they're the Republican multitudes.

More from Leibovich:
Trump’s wasn’t an ordinary election defeat, either. Some nervy Republican challenger needs to remind everyone how rare it is for an incumbent president to lose reelection, and also that Trump was perhaps the most graceless loser and insufferable whiner in presidential history....
Republican voters like whining! They've liked it since Nixon!
Said nervy Republican challenger could even (just for fun) remind the former president that he once called the person he lost to “the worst presidential candidate in the history of presidential politics.”

“So what does that make you, sir? At least Jimmy Carter lost to, you know, Ronald Reagan.”

This is a devastating point of attack against Trump.
This is not a devastating point of attack against Trump, for the simple reason that 70% of the party's voters don't think Trump lost -- and the other 30% hate Democrats as much as the 70% do, which means that many of them will root for Trump if he's the nominee because they believe a Trump victory would own us harder than a victory by just about any other Republican. If Mark Leibovich got out and met some actual Republican voters, or even read a few right-wing comment threads, he'd know this.

Leibovich passes on further advice from what he calls his "cabinet of critics":
Abandon all deference, and don’t forget to troll the troller.

“It is erroneous to think there’s a benefit to being the adult in the room against Donald Trump,” said Michael Cohen, the former president’s fixer turned antagonist, who clearly knows him and all of his trigger points. “There’s a way of going after Trump that I would call intelligent mockery,” continued Cohen, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal charges for lying to Congress on behalf of his former client and paying hush money to Trump’s porn-actor paramour, Stormy Daniels. “If you can make your criticism personal to him, he will become flustered. And when he gets flustered, his level of stupidity rises and then morphs into complete idiocy.”
Let me pause here to make a simple point:

Michael Cohen? Disbarred. Jailed for a year.

Donald Trump? Still walking around free.

Michael Cohen is not the person you want to turn to for advice about how to get the better of Trump.

Maybe it's theoretically possible to get under Trump's skin in the way Cohen describes -- but the last person who managed to do it was Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, and that was more than a decade ago. And Trump got his revenge by defeating Obama's would-be successor. Obama, with the right material, has some of the best comedy timing in American politics. Who does Leibovich think might pull this off in the 2020s? Let's ask him:
Who could make this work? Perhaps a popular Republican governor such as Maryland’s Larry Hogan or New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu, neither of whom has much use for Trump. “You know, he’s probably going to be the next president,” Sununu said of Trump earlier this month in a comedic speech at Washington’s annual Gridiron Club dinner. “Nah, I’m just kidding; he’s fucking crazy.”

The line killed, according to Comstock, who was at the dinner. It underscored how effective humor—or ridicule—can be in the airing of unspoken and commonly understood truths. “This will be an important weapon for some Republicans to use against Trump at some point,” Comstock told me.
Yeah, I'm sure it killed -- in a roomful of D.C. swells. Imagine being so out of touch that you think voters who watch Tucker Carlson every night will turn their backs on MAGA red meat in favor of ... Chris Sununu.

Or Larry Hogan. Or -- yes, of course Leibovich goes there -- Chris Christie, who is to insider journalists what Donald Trump is to the MAGA army, a golden god:
Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor, also could serve as a useful nuisance against Trump.
I can't. I just can't. It's as if the elite media lives on the dark side of the moon, where the news that Chris Christie is a laughingstock to voters across the political spectrum has never penetrated.

Leibovich comes so close to getting it:
The final indignity occurred when Christie attended the September 2020 super-spreader reception at the White House for the Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, after which the president, the first lady, and several guests, including Christie, tested positive for COVID-19. Trump was nice enough to call and check in on Christie when he was laid up in a New Jersey ICU. “Are you going to say you got this from me?” Trump asked, according to Christie. “It was one of the few laughs I had in the hospital,” Christie told me later of Trump’s gesture of deep concern. “I got off the phone, and I just shook my head. Like, this guy will never change.”
Right -- Trump is an asshole. Trump took Chris Christie -- who'd been seen as a Trump figure before Trump came along, a charismatic bully who could bully his way to the White House -- and turned him into the fat sidekick everyone makes fun of. That's what Trump's fans love about him -- they see him as a bully even to bullies. This, of course, is not true when Trump is dealing with a world-class sociopath -- Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong-un. But there's no one in that league in the GOP, not even Ron DeSantis.

Trump walked all over Chris Christie the way he'd walk all over anyone who tried to challenge him directly in a contested primary, because that's what Trump does to anyone who gets in his way. He did it to Chris Christie. It's right in front of Leibovich's eyes. And he doesn't get it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


I know why Donald Trump is expressing support for Kevin McCarthy, despite the anti-Trump remarks McCarthy made in response to the January 6 insurrection, as reported in the new book by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns and released in multiple recordings. Trump is backing McCarthy for the same reason he endorsed former Never Trumper J.D. Vance in the Ohio Senate race:

Trump likes it when he can intimidate a onetime opponent. He likes it when ex-adversaries beg for his forgiveness.

And if Trump is backing him, I guess it was inevitable that House Republicans would back him as well. The ones who agreed with McCarthy's original critical remarks about Trump also share his fear of Trump, so they understand his craven submission. And Trump has given them permission not to defenestrate him.

But what about the criticism from Tucker Carlson and Republicans who are Trump purists?

For now, at least, McCarthy is the Schrödinger's cat of MAGA. He is both the House leader who'll lead the America First forces back to control of the House and the useless RINO who'll be at fault when they screw up (because any future can't be the fault of a real Trumper -- Trumpism can't fail, it can only be failed, you see). This is a role previously played, back when Trumpism was called "the Tea Party," by John Boehner and Paul Ryan.

The value of keeping McCarthy in place is that it can always be claimed that genuine Trumpism hasn't been tried. But until McCarthy is blamed and removed from power, he'll be largely deferential to the MAGA forces. I don't know if we'll ever have a GOP that's unabashedly pure MAGA -- maybe if Jim Jordan gets McCarthy's job after his inevitable downfall. For now, Trumpism has an enabler, and a future scapegoat.


Axios's Sophia Cai gives us a glimpse into the future:
A number of young and prominent Trump-appointed judges are writing their opinions with provocative language, diving into the culture wars in ways offering an audition for a future Supreme Court opening.

Why it matters: Most judges who are would-be justices try to avoid controversy, preserving themselves for a confirmation hearing. But with the specter of former President Trump mounting another run for office, their opinions may not only create opportunity but curry favor with the person who could fulfill their ambitions.
The person who could fulfill their ambitions might also be President Ron DeSantis. But go on.
... 35-year-old Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, recently — and single-handedly — struck down the federal mask mandate on public transportation.

... James Ho, 45, sitting on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has called abortion a "moral tragedy."

... More recently, Ho, in a public speech, defended a law professor who came under fire for criticizing Biden's choice to only consider black women for the Supreme Court.

“If Ilya Shapiro is deserving of cancellation, then you should go ahead and cancel me, too" — a statement dropped into the middle of what at the time was a highly sensitive, political issue.

... Judge Kyle Duncan, 47, also serving on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, willfully misgendered a trans woman.
Even Amy Coney Barrett pretended to be a moderate, reasonable individual who could be welcomed onto the Court by Americans across the political spectrum, but the next wave of right-wing judges might believe, with good reason, that that won't be necessary. Republicans are likely to win control of the Senate in November and retain control for quite a while. Mitch McConnell or his successor will ram through any Supreme Court nominee a Republican president appoints, public opinion be damned.

The author of this piece can't resist a moment of bothsidesing:
But, but, but: Judges appointed by Democrats aren't immune to rhetorical flourishes.

Newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson did so in a U.S. District Court ruling that Trump's former White House counsel Don McGahn must comply with the congressional subpoena.

"Presidents," she wrote, "are not kings."
Didn't we all learn in school that in America "presidents are not kings" is a foundational principle? Why is this treated as a controversial statement? Why was it treated as such during Jackson's confirmation hearings?

In any event, I'm sure the gist of this story is correct: If you want to be appointed to the Supreme Court by a future Republican president, you should brazenly own the libs. It won't hurt your chances. What will hurt your chances is not even trying.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022


Walter Shapiro thinks this is a great idea:
At [their] convention, Utah Democrats opted by a 782-to-594 vote not to endorse their own candidate for the Senate seat held by embattled right-winger Mike Lee. Instead, Utah Democrats endorsed the independent candidacy of Evan McMullin, a former CIA agent who ran as a never-Trump Republican protest candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

At first glance, this looks like a gesture of abject surrender by a Democratic Party that last elected a Utah senator in 1970. But, in truth, this shrewd decision can serve as a model for a big-tent crusade to preserve democracy during this time of deep fissures in our republic.

... The underlying message in the Utah Democrats' endorsement of McMullin is the same one that has animated the Jan. 6 committee in the House: In the battle against the forces out to nullify free elections, you take your allies where you can find them without worrying about litmus tests.
Yes, but can McMullin win? In the most recent Deseret News poll, Lee outpolls McMullin and the Democrat combined:
The poll found 43% of voters say they most likely would support Lee in the general election, 19% favor independent candidate Evan McMullin and 11% would pick Democrat Kael Weston.
And if McMullin somehow does win, he says he won't even caucus with the Democrats -- although he also says he won't caucus with the Republicans.

As one Utah political insider says,
Supposedly, such positioning gives him a powerful leverage. This is a fantasy because any member of Congress who does not affiliate with a major party diminishes effectiveness to the detriment of their state (i.e. committee assignments). Expect this naïveté to be an election issue.
Shapiro thinks Utahns aren't big Trump fans, and thus might look favorably on McMullin:
Utah has never been a Trump state. Not only is the other senator Mitt Romney (the only Republican to vote to remove Trump from office after his 2020 impeachment trial over Ukraine), but McMullin himself received 22 percent of the presidential vote in the state in 2016.
Yes, but Trump got 46% of the vote in 2016 and beat Hillary Clinton by 18 points. In 2020, without McMullin on the ballot, Trump got 58% of the vote and won by 20.

Shapiro sees this as a model for other forms of pro-democracy cooperation across state lines.
The same possibility of a coalition for democracy exists in Wyoming where Liz Cheney — the embodiment of anti-Trump conservatism — faces a brutal August 16 primary to hold her House seat. Under Wyoming election laws, Democrats could declare themselves as “Republicans for a day” to vote to support Cheney. In a close election, these temporary converts might decide the outcome.

Even if McMullin and Cheney go down to defeat, the strategy behind Democratic involvement in both these races is sound. In one-party Republican states, the best possible approach is to make common cause with conservatives and moderates who uphold democratic values and reject Trump’s destructive fantasies about a stolen election.
But will any Republicans return the favor? Many election truthers will win Republican primaries this year. Will even a segment of the Michigan GOP ally with Democrats to defeat QAnon-linked, Trump-backed election denier Kristin Karamo if, as expected, she wins the secretary of state primary in Michigan? (She has the party's endorsement.) Will any Republicans split off and endorse the Democrat in Missouri if unindicted sex criminal Eric Greitens is the Senate nominee? And so on around the country.

The Democratic Party will abase itself in Utah and Wyoming, and probably in Alaska, where Senator Lisa Murkowski will need Democratic votes to beat Trumpist Kelly Tshibaka in the general election, assuming, as expected, that both survive the nonpartisan primary. Meanwhile, nearly all Republicans will probably vote for the conspiracy theorists and other low lives their party nominates. Walter Shapiro may like this, but it looks as if it will be a one-way street.


Last week, the opinion section of The New York Times published an op-ed by Mark Penn, former pollster to Bill and Hillary Clinton and frequent Fox News guest; Penn predictably urged President Biden to tack rightward on a wide range of issues, citing a recent survey his Harris Poll had conducted under the auspices of Harvard's Center for American Political Studies.

I took a look at that poll. Much of it is agenda-driven hackwork -- pure push-polling.

The survey starts with unobjectionable questions. It asks respondents what they think of the president and a range of other figures, whether they think the country is on the right or wrong track, and so on. The hackishness kicks in about halfway through.

Yes, Biden can either expand the social safety net or be "responsible." Just dry, neutral polling language! I give credit to the 36% of respondents who dared to say they preferred the first choice.

Right, because "energy independence" can be achieved only via oil (which is priced globally), and can't possibly be achieved via renewables.

Should Biden continue to allow his policies to be dictated by East Coast elitist socialist hippies? Or should the policies be decided by Americans?

Yes, let's embrace the notion that if we issue a lot of drilling permits on Monday, by the weekend we'll be awash in new oil and the price of gas will instantly drop to $2.50 a gallon.

This is just one in a series of Fox News-flavored leading questions on immigration:
* "About 200,000 immigrants are crossing the Southern Border each month and over 2 million came in illegally in 2021. Given these numbers, should the administration continue its current policies or issue new, stricter policies to reduce the flow of people coming over the border?"

* "Is the Biden administration creating an open border or is it just trying to enforce immigration laws more humanely?"

* "Do you think the Biden border policies are increasing the flow or drugs and crime to the United States or are those policies simply treating people more humanely?"
There's a similar series of hackish questions on crime:
* "Turning to the issue of crime. Do you think big city district attorneys today are prosecuting violent offenders sufficiently or are they pulling back from prosecuting them?"

* "Would you support or oppose removing district attorneys that are pulling back on prosecuting violent offenders?"

* "Do you think the Justice Department is focusing enough on fighting gangs and crime syndicates or is it focusing too much on political offenses like January 6th and protecting school parents?"

* "Would you favor or oppose the justice department intervening in cities where local District Attorneys have reduced their prosecution of violent offenders?"
There are reasonable questions on Ukraine and the pandemic -- but then we get to a series of "Emerging Issues" questions.

Harvard, I hope you're proud.

The final questions are making news today. From The Hill:
Fifty-seven percent of voters said they approve of entrepreneur Elon Musk buying Twitter, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill on Monday.

Another 43 percent said they were opposed to Musk purchasing the social media platform.

The poll was conducted late last week....

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll also showed a divide over whether Twitter fairly shuts down inappropriate speech or if it censors conservative speech.

Forty-eight percent of respondents called it a fair platform, while 52 percent said it censors conservative speech.

“Twitter had a poor image and was increasingly out of the mainstream of America and those who believe in free speech,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey. “Most of America welcomes the Musk takeover.”
Yes, and I'm sure those responses were completely spontaneous, and not at all a reaction to the ideological lean of the questions:

This is garbage. It's propaganda disguised as polling.

Monday, April 25, 2022


Politically engaged Democrats and Never Trumpers know that the Republican Party is a party of wackos, lunatics, and corrupt authoritarian extremists, led by Donald Trump. But much of America believes that Trump (whom most of them don't like) is somehow separate from the Republican Party (which they increasingly favor and plan to reward in November with complete control of Congress). Democrats haven't succeeded in making what would seem to be the extremely obvious connection between the Republican Party and Trump.

But maybe Elon Musk will. Tim Miller of The Bulwark thinks that might happen, if, as expected, Musk invites Trump back onto Twitter and Trump stops playing hard to get and accepts the offer.
Musk Twitter might ... be a disaster for ... Mitch McConnell and the establishment Republican ostriches who are doing everything in their power to put their heads in the sand and pretend Donald Trump doesn’t exist....

In Georgia on Insurrection Eve, we saw how a big Trump megaphone could divide the Republican base, resulting in political success for the Democrats. The election fraud mass formation psychosis led Trump voters in rural parts of the state to stay home rather than participate in yet another RIGGED contest while a small percentage of Atlanta Kemp/Raffensperger Republicans refused to be a party to the anti-democratic horror show. As a result, Georgia elected the state’s first black and Jewish senators—on the same day!—despite the fact that both had fewer votes than their GOP opponents during the November election.

A repeat of that is the worst-case scenario for the GOP at a time when the political environment is looking rather rosy for them.

Back in January, Bloomberg’s Joshua Green interviewed experts on the possible ways Republicans could screw the pooch in the midterms. Liam Donovan offered this hypothetical: “For the last year Trump has been in a straitjacket where he can’t harm his own party ... Maybe he gets back on Twitter, there’s no bigger wild card than letting the tiger out of its cage.”


Now I’m skeptical that Trump trash-tweeting the Republican haters and losers who don’t prostrate themselves before the MyPillow altar will be enough to cost Republicans Congress on its own. They’re surfing a wave, baby. But it certainly isn’t going to help.

For instance, it’s not hard to imagine the Herschel Walkers of the world overcompensating to appease the Orange One in ways that harm their campaign, costing the party a few seats.

And even if it doesn’t cost Republicans any seats, forcing these assholes to actually defend all the insanity Trump’s feed would push into the public square would be a good unto itself.
I don't whether any of this will happen, but I think that Trump simultaneously attempting to own the news cycle via Twitter every other day and barnstorming the country on behalf of Republican candidates could remind the Trump-averse that he's the party leader. At least, I hope so.


There's widespread agreement in the media: Marine Le Pen, who lost yesterday's French presidential election by 17 points, actually won.

Look, I get it: No far-rightist has ever done as well in the second round of a French presidential election as Le Pen did yesterday. She won 34% of the vote in the second round in 2017 and 41% this time. And yet:
By championing cost-of-living issues, befriending the working class, changing her party’s name and distancing herself from her father, Le Pen broadened her appeal and made herself less scary to growing swaths of France's electorate.
So she ran as Glenn Youngkin, sending two sets of messages, one of which was, in effect, I understand exactly why you might fear me and I want to reassure you that I'm not a monster. By contrast, America's neofascist, anti-Muslim Putin ally gave it to us uncut and undiluted, won in 2016, came within fewer than 50,000 votes of an Electoral College victory in 2020, and is the favorite to win (and win the popular vote this time) in 2024.

But let's imagine that the Democratic Party is in a stronger position in 2024. Let's imagine that Biden or another Democrat actually beats Trump or Ron DeSantis that year. If Le Pen lost by 17 and was declared the winner by the media, how big a victory would Biden or Kamala Harris or Pete Buttigieg need in order to be declared the real winner in 2024?

Our mainstream media embraces a culturally liberal, economically conservative, elitist-technocrat centrism in most things. Emmanuel Macron would seem like the ideal poster boy for that worldview. And yet not long after Macron was declared the winner last night, The New York Times was treating his win as not particularly important news.

It's as if the press wanted racist, fascist populism to triumph, because it would satisfy their own self-hate -- the same self-hate that led the Times and much of the rest of the media to beat their breasts after the 2016 election because they hadn't looked deep into the sould of Trump voters, who, of course, are not at all like them.

You don't have to love Emmanuel Macron to acknowledge that the line held and dangerous ideas were repudiated. A win is a win -- and by U.S. standards, this one wasn't close. So take the victory lap.

Sunday, April 24, 2022


I've been criticizing the Democratic Party a lot lately, and some readers aren't pleased. From the comments to my last post:

I'm not whining (or even "whinning"). I'm urging Democrats to fight back by talking about Republican extremism the way Michigan state senator Mallory McMorrow did on Tuesday (although I assume they won't).

Among liberals, arguing that the press needs to do a better job of portraying the GOP as a dangerously extremist party is not particularly controversial. I'm saying that Democrats need to do this, too.

Margaret Sullivan, who writes about media for The Washington Post and who was once the public editor at The New York Times, writes this about her former employer, which has just hired a new executive editor, Joe Kahn:
... one of the world’s most influential news organizations is in need of serious soul-searching.

Our very democracy is on the brink, and how the Times covers that existential threat is of extraordinary importance, especially as crucial elections approach this fall and in 2024. Will the paper’s coverage forthrightly identify the problems posed by a radicalized Republican Party that is increasingly dedicated to lies, bad-faith attacks and the destruction of democratic norms, or will it try to treat today’s politics as simply the result of bipartisan “polarization”? Will it try to cut the situation straight down the middle as if we were still in the old days — an era that no longer exists?

... adherence to the press’s true mission and highest calling demands journalism that discards the safety-seeking instinct for false equivalency.
If we think it's extremely important for the press to tell the whole truth about the GOP, why don't we also believe that it's important for the opposition party to do the same thing? While the feral nature of the present-day GOP leads many of us to believe that the mainstream press ought to rethink old habits, it's understandable that the press would have a natural tendency toward balancing and even-handedness -- but the Democrats have no excuse. A political party's core message should always be "We're better than the other guys." And yet Democrats tiptoe around the majority of Republican positions and the nastiest Republican rhetoric, limiting themselves to talking about disagreements on a narrow range of kitchen-table issues on which Democrats haven't even been able to pass significant legislation during the current administration.

If the press needs to tell us that Republicans are dangerous, then so does the only party that can prevent Republicans from taking office. Isn't that obvious?

Saturday, April 23, 2022


The GOP is the party of insurrectionists, abortion banners, LGBT bashers, and politicians who do this:
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill stripping Disney World of its status as an "independent special district" ...

The bill ... could impose a steep cost on Orange and Osceola counties, where the theme park is located. The two counties would inherit the Disney district's debts, which officials say would result in higher taxes....

The Florida Senate's own financial impact analysis of the bill states that in most cases when a county takes over a special district, it "shall also assume all indebtedness of the preexisting special district." In Disney's case, that could put local governments on the hook for about $1 billion in bond debt.

... Danielle Prieur of member station WMFE in Orlando reports, "homeowners here could see property taxes jump by 20% to make up the difference. And even then, it probably wouldn't be enough to cover all the money that would be lost."
And this:
Gov. Greg Abbott increasing inspections of commercial trucks entering from Mexico in the hopes of staunching illegal smuggling activity resulted in zero migrants detentions or illegal drug seizures, despite allegedly costing the Lone Star State billions of dollars.

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller stated in an email to supporters this week that the enhanced truck inspections cost Texas consumers and businesses an estimated $4.3 billion "despite not catching a single illegal alien or confiscating a single gram of illegal drugs."
And this:
Since its publication in 2001, “Everywhere Babies” — a whimsical, lyrical ode to infancy, illustrated by Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Marla Frazee — has become a staple of family bookshelves, a common recommendation in new parent groups, and a celebrated title on Best Books lists.

But for the first time in its history, “Everywhere Babies” was featured this week on an entirely different kind of list: The book was among dozens of works recently banned from public school libraries in Walton County, Fla.

When I first saw the news, I grabbed a copy of the book and flipped through it in search of what might have led to it being included on this list. All I noticed were a few illustrations that might be depicting same-sex couples, which are not specifically identified in the text.
It's the party whose rhetoric led to this:
A California man threatened to bomb Merriam-Webster's HQ over the dictionary's definition of the word female as 'a gender identity that is the opposite of male.'

Jeremy David Hanson, 34, of Rossmoor, California, faces a federal charge of interstate communication of threats to commit violence.

Hanson's alleged antics forced the firm to shutter its offices for five days.

... Hanson is ... accused of sending the following message to the 'Contact Us' page: 'You [sic] headquarters should be shot up and bombed. It is sickening that you have caved to the cultural Marxist, anti-science tranny [sic] agenda and altered the definition of 'female' as part of the Left's efforts to corrupt and degrade the English language and deny reality. You evil Marxists should all be killed. It would be poetic justice to have someone storm your offices and shoot up the place, leaving none of you commies alive.'

... He also once emailed the gaming website IGN decrying their positive review for Superman coming out as bisexual in a comic book and Hasbro over dropping the 'Mr.' from 'Mr. Potato Head.' He similarly threatened to bomb both companies.
And yet:
The collective mood of Democratic insiders has darkened appreciably in recent weeks. Pollsters and prognosticators are forecasting increasingly dire results for their party in the November midterm elections....

Democrats are still weighing, too, how much to emphasize their accomplishments versus how much to sharpen their points of contrast with Republicans.
Gosh, do you think we should contrast ourselves with Republicans? YES, YOU IMBECILES! Your message should be "These people are dangerous extremists and we're not" -- because that's been the Republican message about Democrats for years, and it works.

Earlier this week, a Democratic state senator from Michigan named Mallory McMorrow laid into a Republican colleague who'd used a fundraising pitch to accuse McMorrow of being a "groomer."

Fellow Democrats responded as if it had never occurred to them that a Democrat could fight back in this way. Greg Sargent interviewed James Carville, who a few months earlier had denounced Democratic "wokeness."
Was that “wokeness”? Yes, at least in a sense. But either way, Carville appeared transfixed by it.

“Enormously effective piece of communication,” Carville told me. “There’s really no comeback to it.” ...

... “She wasn’t defensive at all.” He noted that McMorrow personalized the issue, drew a sharp and legible contrast with Republicans, and even added in an argument about “roads and schools.”

“I’d show this clip as an instructional video,” Carville said. Asked if he’d advise other Democrats to talk this way, he said: “I would. I’m going to start talking that way.”
Dude, why weren't you talking that way already? Why were you unable to conceive of a response like this to Republican McCarthyism? Why don't national Democrats understand that calling Republicans out is the proper response to their aggression?

It's as if national Democrats don't understand that millions of people are outraged at the appalling extremism of the GOP. It's as if they don't think we want our politicians to stand up and fight for our values. It's as if they don't understand that we regard inclusivity and basic decency as values.

I hope there's more of this, but I predict that Democrats won't follow up. I expect them to conclude that McMorrow's speech was a miracle, a once-in-a-millennium event, and certainly not something that can be replicated by every Democratic politician, every day -- yes, those Republicans seem awfully extreme, but you can't expect us to just say that on a regular basis.

And then when the midterms are a disaster for Democrats, they'll blame Defund the Police and people who say "LatinX."

Friday, April 22, 2022


No, this won't hurt Madison Cawthorn.
Photographs obtained by POLITICO appear to show Madison Cawthorn, the embattled Republican congressman from North Carolina who recently accused his GOP colleagues of inviting him to orgies, wearing lingerie in what appears to be a party setting.

Cawthorn's response:

Cawthorn links to a post at a site called Cruise Critic that explains:
What Royal Caribbean event has you sharing your underwear, putting lipstick on strangers and screaming at the top of your lungs? It's the Quest game show, the adults-only scavenger hunt that ranks as a cruise can't-miss....

Here's how it worked: The cruise director would instruct a member or members of the team to bring him a certain requested item. The first team to arrive with the requested item gets the most points, the second gets the second-highest and the third … well, you get it. After the top three teams, all other teams that arrive with the item receive one point each. It started off innocently enough, with requests for items like "a tie" or "a sock with a hole in it" (yes, every sock has at least ONE hole in it). But it quickly got a little more bawdy: a man wearing lipstick or someone with their pants on backward. By the end, it was barely controlled chaos, with one male member of our group wearing a bra and poorly applied makeup declaring his name was Savannah Sunshine.
So this leads to drag, but the kind of drag practiced by people who assume that everyone knows they're unimpeachably straight and not into any of that gay stuff whatsoever.

Yup. See, e.g., Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump in this video from 2000:

I've witnessed this kind of thing firsthand. At my high school every year, there was an assembly in honor of the football team -- attendance mandator.y It ended with several players onstage dressed in drag. The message was that these kids were the embodiment of masculinity, so it was funny, get it? Not even remotely gay or transsexual or connected to transvestism!

What we know about Cawthorn's sexuality is that he's been accused of being a heterosexual predator:
Four women told BuzzFeed News that Cawthorn ... was aggressive, misogynistic, or predatory toward them. Their allegations include calling them derogatory names in public in front of their peers, including calling one woman “slutty,” asking them inappropriate questions about their sex lives, grabbing their thighs, forcing them to sit in his lap, and kissing and touching them without their consent. One of these women now works as an intern for another Republican member of Congress and passes Cawthorn in the corridors of the Capitol. According to more than a dozen people — including three women who had firsthand experience and seven people who heard about these incidents from them at the time — Cawthorn often used his car as a way to entrap and harass his women classmates, taking them on what he could call “fun drives" off campus. Two said he would drive recklessly and ask them about their virginity and sexual experiences while they were locked in the moving vehicle.

“I realized he was taking me out to the middle of nowhere, Virginia,” said Caitlin Coulter, a former classmate who went for a drive with him during her senior year. “We were on these small, like, one- [or] two-lane back roads, and I just felt so uncomfortable and nervous and not even something I think at the time I could put a finger on, but just, like, danger warning.”
I assume that's the real Cawthorn. Those allegations should have ended his career, but this is the GOP is the 2020s, so the had no effect whatsoever. Maybe the drag pictures will hurt him, but I don't see it. Giuliani lost the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, but that was undoubtedly because he was pro-choice and pro-gun control; he remained a presence on the right long after that clip emerged. I assume Cawthorn isn't going anywhere either.

He accuses "the left" of leaking the photos, but I think Tom Hilton is right:

I credit Kevin McCarthy with this leak.



Here's an NPR story on womanless weddings if you want to read more.


Earlier this week, I devoted way too much time to reading another deep-thinky feature story on the New Right, or National Conservatives, or whatever we're supposed to be calling them this week. This story was in Vanity Fair, and, once again, J.D. Vance was treated as among the deepest and thinkiest of the new class of cons. He was presented as a champion of the common people.
Vance believes that a well-educated and culturally liberal American elite has greatly benefited from globalization, the financialization of our economy, and the growing power of big tech. This has led an Ivy League intellectual and management class—a quasi-aristocracy he calls “the regime”—to adopt a set of economic and cultural interests that directly oppose those of people in places like Middletown, Ohio, where he grew up. In the Vancian view, this class has no stake in what people on the New Right often call the “real economy”—the farm and factory jobs that once sustained middle-class life in Middle America. This is a fundamental difference between New Right figures like Vance and the Reaganite right-wingers of their parents’ generation.
Nearly every journalist who's encountered these folks comes away with the belief that they're the future of Republicanism. But as Politico notes today, actual Republican officeholders have very different ideas:
Congressional Republicans continue to talk tough about confronting China economically, echoing the populist rhetoric of former President Donald Trump. But with Trump and the political cover he provided gone from Washington, GOP senators are turning away from some of the most restrictive China trade policies his administration instituted.

... Republicans are balking at the protectionist trade provisions included in House legislation to help the U.S. economy compete with China, which passed the lower chamber with only one GOP vote.

Instead, Republicans are pushing to approve the Senate version of the legislation, which would roll back some of Trump’s tariffs on China — something the Biden administration has been reluctant to do....

The embrace of more trade-friendly policies is a welcome development ... for major corporate advocacy groups, a traditional GOP constituency, who scrambled last year to keep trade-restricting provisions out of the Senate package, only to see a number of them revived in the House.

The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which the Senate passed by a vote of 68-32 last June, would actually make it easier for many firms to trade with the world’s second largest economy. That’s because it would reinstate more than 2,200 exceptions to the tariffs on China that the Trump administration imposed, allow refunds for firms whose exemptions expired at the end of 2020, and direct the U.S. trade representative to allow new companies to apply for exemptions. Thus far, the Biden administration has refused to remove the Trump-era tariffs and only awarded exemptions on a narrow set of 359 products.
This is the real Republican Party. It's not anti-corporate. Even Ron DeSantis isn't anti-corporate -- he's anti-Disney because demanding that companies bend the knee is how fellow autocrats like Putin and Orban operate. But if you play ball, you get to make money. DeSantisism is probably the future of the GOP -- fat cats still operate as fat cats as long as they mollify (and kick money back to) the autocrat. Right-populist anti-corporate rhetoric fools naive voters (and reporters), but it will never be a dominant strain of GOP thinking -- not as long as we still have the campaign finance laws we have now. And since no Republican would be caught dead agreeing with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on that or any other subject, and our Supreme Court has a corpratist supermajority, those laws will be with us for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, April 21, 2022


In all likelihood, we're about to enter a post-Roe v. Wade future. In that future, many people seem to assume that abortion will be banned in much of the country but remain widely available in deep-blue states. That will probably be the case as long as Democrats hold the White House, but as an item from Alexandra DeSanctis at National Review's Corner makes clear, the right won't be content with that.
Over at Public Discourse, Josh Craddock has an interesting essay on what pro-life lawmakers in Congress might consider doing if the Supreme Court overturns Roe and Casey in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization this term.... From his essay:
... legislators should introduce strong anti-abortion legislation that recognizes the personhood of the unborn, strips federal courts of jurisdiction over the statute, and empowers individuals to enforce it through a private right of action. And if such strong medicine is too politically impracticable, pro-life legislators should at the very least tax abortion providers and abortion-pill manufacturers as a mechanism for promoting a pro-life social policy.
I’m especially intrigued by his proposal that Congress use its taxing power to cripple the abortion industry.... The proposal to use taxing power in the meantime is a smart one: “Just as Congress’s taxing power has been used to all-but prohibit automatic firearms and to effectively require individuals to purchase health insurance, a special ‘sin tax’ on abortion providers and abortion-pill manufacturers (perhaps $2,500 for each abortion performed or pill prescribed) could—consistent with Supreme Court precedent—regulate individual behavior and cripple the abortion industry.”
Craddock is not messing around:
Congress should enforce the constitutional guarantees of due process of law and equal protection of the laws for unborn children nationwide, barring states from giving effect to permissive abortion laws. Such legislation could provide, for example, that no state or person acting under state law (or in interstate commerce, as an alternative basis) may discriminate on the basis of whether a human being has been born. The law should specifically apply to any state prohibition against homicide, and require that any person who commits an abortion shall be subject to the same or comparable penalties as exist under state law for other homicide cases.
I've been told that the upcoming Supreme Court decision will make abortion policy a state matter. DeSanctis and Craddock don't believe that's necessarily the case. And given the fact that Republicans might control both houses of Congress and the White House starting in 2025 -- perhaps with a filibuster-proof Senate majority, if David Shor's gloomiest projections come true -- we need to take the possibility of an effective nationwide ban on abortion very, very seriously.

They're telling us what they want to do. We should believe them.