Sunday, July 31, 2022


I saw this tweet yesterday:

This won't happen.

I'm not questioning Biden 52% -- I worry that the president won't make a comeback, but it's conceivable. What won't happen is a scenario Berlatsky and other observers think is quite possible: that Donald Trump will lose the Republican primaries and then become a spoiler as a third-party candidate.

I agree that, under those circumstances, Trump would want to get revenge on everyone he thought had cost him the nomination. But Trump hates losing more than he loves revenge. Let me be more precise -- Trump hates looking like a loser more than he loves revenge. So he won't do it.

There are other ways he could try to hurt or intimidate the people he'd blame for his primary losses. He'd announce plans to sue the national GOP, state Republican parties, and probably Fox News, which he'd blame for his losses (probably with good reason). I bet he wouldn't have the guts to actually sue Fox or the national party, but a few suits in the states might happen, even though the courts would reject them.

His fans might try to start a few mini-January 6 riots in the states, or at the party convention. I think it's likely by then that this will just be considered a normal part of American politics: weapon-bearing bearded men in Carhartt attempting to use force to overturn an election result they don't like. In most locales, there'll be plans in place to limit the damage, and the uprisings will be as unsuccessful as the recent U.S. trucker protests. But they'll be a huge nuisance.

Trump won't run because running third party requires organization, something Trump and his circle have never been very good at. You have to understand the ballot access laws in all fifty states. In some cases, you have to start the process of gathering signatures while the party primaries are still taking place. Trump would have to effectively admit that he might be a loser in the primaries in order to do that. Alternately, he'd have to bypass the GOP at the outset, which would also be an admission of defeat, no matter how much he tried to sell it as an act of war.

Trump is stupid, but he's not completely stupid about ratings and popularity. You could explain to him that he'd split the GOP vote if he ran against DeSantis, and he'd get that. Sure, he'd hurt the Republican Party, but he'd be a loser. He won't risk that, even for vengeance.

If he thinks he can't win the primaries, he won't run at all. If he thinks he can win and then loses, he'll say that the GOP and Fox are part of the Deep State, which kept him off the ballot through fraud. Fans will demand audits in states he lost, and some of those audits might actually take place. (They'll show that he lost legitimately.) But he'll retire from electoral politics. He won't risk a humiliating loss in November.

Saturday, July 30, 2022


I won't be posting today -- places to go, things to do. Back tomorrow.

Friday, July 29, 2022


Sarah Longwell is a prominent anti-Trump Republican who publishes The Bulwark and does focus-group research. Writing for The Atlantic, she tells us that Republican voters in her focus groups are rethinking their support for Donald Trump in response to the January 6 committee hearings:
I conducted dozens of focus groups of Trump 2020 voters in the 17 months between the storming of the Capitol on January 6 and when the hearings began in June. One measure was consistent: At least half of the respondents in each group wanted Trump to run again in 2024. The prevailing belief was that the 2020 election was stolen—or at least unfair in some way—and Trump should get another shot.

But since June, I’ve observed a shift. I’ve conducted nine focus groups during this period, and found that only 14 percent of Trump 2020 voters wanted him to run in 2024, with a few others on the fence. In four of the groups, zero people wanted Trump to run again. Their reasoning is clear: They’re now uncertain that Trump can win again.

“He’s just too divisive and controversial,” a participant in Washington State said about Trump. “There are good candidates out there waiting to shine.”

A participant in Wyoming said, “I feel like there’s too many people against him right now. He’s never gonna make it ... So I feel like somebody else needs to step in that has similar views, but not as big of an ego—who people like, I guess.”
Are these people actually arguing that Trump is not someone "people like"? If so, this is breathtaking -- these Republicans are acknowledging that Trump could lose the 2024 election legitimately, because most voters will vote against him. Whether they realize it or not, they appear to be rejecting a core principle of Republicanism: that Democrats can't win competitive elections without cheating, because if only legitimate votes are counted, Republicans always win.

I may be misinterpreting this. They could be saying that Democrats will cheat harder if Trump is the nominee. And a mamber of one group seems to assume that of course Trump would win in 2024, but then he'd be unpopular:
In a focus group with Ohio voters, one participant said, “I do not want four more years of ‘orange man bad’ and everybody screaming about every time he tweets—and believe me, he did some really bad tweets. I don’t want four more years of that.”
They're so close to understanding the outcome of the 2020 election. Will they ever make the final leap and acknowledge that Joe Biden really did get 81 million legitimate votes, for the simple reason that Trump disgusts us?

Probably not, but they're inching closer.

Thursday, July 28, 2022


Andrew Yang and his ex-Republican allies David Jolly and Christine Todd Whitman published an op-ed in The Washington Post touting their new party, the Forward Party, as an antidote to the extremism and divisiveness they see in American politcs today. The three of them wrote:
Political extremism is ripping our nation apart, and the two major parties have failed to remedy the crisis.....

The United States badly needs a new political party — one that reflects the moderate, common-sense majority. Today’s outdated parties have failed by catering to the fringes. As a result, most Americans feel they aren’t represented....

The two major parties have hollowed out the sensible center of our political system — even though that’s where most voters want to see them move.... On every issue facing this nation — from the controversial to the mundane — we can find a reasonable approach most Americans agree on.
So let's see what happened in Washington a day after this op-ed appeared:
Forty-one Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan compromise bill on Wednesday that would expand health care for veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals while serving. Every one of those no votes came from a Republican senator who had previously pledged to support military veterans and their health care.

Twenty-four of the senators who voted no had voted for a nearly identical bill just weeks ago.

Their flip-flops came shortly after Senate Democrats announced a major agreement on a budget reconciliation package that would invest in climate change action, health care, and fighting inflation — efforts the GOP minority has fiercely opposed.
And what else? Oh, yes -- this:
Sen. Susan Collins, one of a handful of GOP senators working to garner support in her party for a bill to codify gay marriage, said the Democrats’ surprise embrace of a tax and climate change bill made her job much harder.

“I just think the timing could not have been worse and it came totally out of the blue,” the Maine senator told HuffPost Thursday about Senate Democrats’ unveiling of their bill to raise taxes on some companies, boost IRS enforcement and spend the resulting money to fund anti-climate change efforts.

... Collins warned that the manner in which that victory was secured, where it appeared Democrats kept ... negotiations under wraps until a separate bipartisan computer chip production incentive bill was passed by the Senate, hurt the effort to gather support among Republicans to bring the gay marriage bill to the floor.

“After we just had worked together successfully on gun safety legislation, on the CHIPs bill, it was a very unfortunate move that destroys the many bipartisan efforts that are under way,” she said.
The Forward Party says it was formed to combat polarization and government dysfunction, yet here are two obvious examples of Republicans refusing to sign on to popular legislation because they want to punish the other party for an unrelated bill, instead of endorsing "a reasonable approach most Americans agree on" regarding these two issues -- and what is the Forward Party's response?

Absolute silence. There's nothing about either of these acts of legislative sabotage on the Forward Party's website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed. Andrew Yang has nothing to say about it, nor do Christie Whitman and David Jolly.

If you want to persuade us that you're the remedy for the dysfunction that results when one of our major parties fights the other, you'd think you might want to condemn such fighting when it's actually happening, especially when you have the media's attention. Maybe you could say, "Members of the Forward Party will never vote to reject a good bill because we want to punish another party. We pledge to do what's right for Americans, even if another party gets the credit." That's an unenforceable promise, but at least it would suggest a specific approach to governing and politicking.

But these folks don't care. They just want to disrupt the system because they think they might gain power from the disruption. Maybe they don't want to attack the Republican Party more than the Democratic Party, but I'm not sure that's what's holding them back. I think they're not particularly outraged by political dysfunction -- they just believe it's creating a market niche.


On behalf of The New York Times, Frank Luntz recently conducted a focus group of "mad as hell" voters trying (and mostly failing) to find common ground across ideological lines. The group had thirteen participants, seven of whom were Trump voters, six of whom were Biden voters. Only two wanted Trump to run again in 2024, and only one wanted Biden to run.

By coincidence, the Times published the transcript of this focus group on the same day that Andrew Yang and a collection of mostly ex-Republican political figures officially launched Yang's Forward Party, with the goal of appearing on all fifty state ballots in 2024 as an alternative to Democrats and Republicans.

But is a third party what "mad as hell" voters want? During questioning, Luntz asked his focus group, "Give me the name of somebody from either political party who isn’t broken, who has ideas, who would bring this country together or at least bridge the divide that we’ve had right now." The first name offered was Pete Buttigieg, followed by, bizarrely, Andrew Cuomo, who was named by a California Biden voter impressed with Cuomo's pandemic news conferences. To be fair, Luntz asked for names from the major parties only. But the first two people named were a very mainstream guy who ran for president and won two states, and a guy who was once thought to be a presidential contender.

When Luntz followed up by asking for the name of "one person that could pull us together," these were the responses:

When asked for the name of a bridge-builder and unifier, three Trump voters named ... Ron DeSantis, a very divisive figure who's one of the two Republican favorites for 2024. A Trump voter who spent most of the focus group talking about what appeared to be a recent conversion to progressivism named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. A Republican named every Fox viewer's favorite nominal Democrat, Tulsi Gabbard. But Kathy Hochul and Chris Murphy are mainstream Democrats. Marco Rubio is a mainstream Republican. Apart from Gabbard perhaps, Evan McMullin is the only person named who seems like a good fit with Yang's party -- he's centrist and has no ties to either of the major parties.

Do fed-up voters want a thorough overhaul of the system? Or would they settle for the same-old with a new coat of paint slapped on? We appear to be heading toward a presidential election with two unpopular major-party nominees, which would seem like an opening for even a clown like Yang. I think there'll be a high-profile third-party candidate if it's Biden vs. Trump.

But Republicans actually ssem to have a plan for ditching their retread front-runner. The party's main propaganda organ, Fox News, is gradually disengaging from Trump. Some Republicans are cooperating with the January 6 investigations and hoping that those investigations will make Trump too toxic to win the nomination. Maybe it won't work, but they're trying.

Joe Biden could win in 2024. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama weren't very popular going into their first midterms, and yet they both won reelection two years later. But both Clinton and Obama faced party retreads -- Bob Dole, Mitt Romney -- who seemed to win their nominations because it was their time rather than because there was genuine enthusiasm about their candidacies.

I think Biden could beat Trump. But DeSantis has the advantage of simply being new. If he's the nominee, some people will be genuinely enthusiastic about him the way few people were about Dole and Romney.

Old can beat old. But can old beat new? We may find out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022


This seems like great news:
Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday reached a deal on a bill that includes energy and tax policy, a turnaround after the two deadlocked earlier this month in talks on Democrats’ marquee party-line agenda.

In a joint statement, the two Democrats said the legislation will be on the Senate floor next week. It includes roughly $370 billion in energy and climate spending, $300 billion in deficit reduction, three years of subsidies for Affordable Care Act premiums, prescription drug reform and significant tax changes....

Following Manchin’s stated interest in limiting a party-line domestic policy bill to health care and lowering prescription drug prices, Democrats were expecting to pursue a bill that did not include climate or energy provisions. But Manchin and Schumer quietly continued negotiating behind the scenes, mostly through staff, leading to a surprise breakthrough while Manchin was sidelined with Covid.
Apparently Manchin has pledged not to yank the football away this time -- as Jonathan Chait notes, Manchin's statement on the agreement "notably says he 'will vote for' the bill." So: champagne time?

Not yet. Chait writes:
Passage, however, is not assured. Kyrsten Sinema, who has objected to proposals to tax the wealthy, did not sign on to Manchin’s statement, and her support is not yet certain. When reached by a reporter after Manchin’s announcement, she had no comment. A cabal of House Democrats has also publicly opposed taxing the rich. Some of them, representing affluent blue-state districts that were hit by the elimination of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction imposed by Republicans in 2018, have vowed to vote against any bill that fails to include relief. Manchin’s statement seems to rule out any such relief, saying “our tax code should not favor red or blue state elites with loopholes like SALT.” Manchin appears to be daring them to kill Biden’s signature domestic proposal.
Or is Manchin hoping they'll kill it? Have the plutocrats who give generously to Manchin, Sinema, and that House cabal (which is led by New Jersey's Josh Gottheimer) decided it's time for someone other than Manchin to be the villain? Or will he take on the villain role again in response to Gottheimer forcing SALT relief into the House version of the bill?

Years ago, right-wing pundit Glenn Greenwald (then posturing as a progressive) wrote a piece for Salon in which he laid out the idea of the "rotating villain" in Democratic politics. His arguments was that Democrats never actually want to pass progressive legislation -- it's all elaborate theater. Greenwald argued that there always seems to be a reluctant moderate whose unwillingness to endorse progressive legislation scuttles it, sometimes after the moderate has claimed to favor the provisions of the legislation; this, said Greenwald, is an elaborate farce cynically engaged in by the entire Democratic Party, or at least its leadership.
This is what the Democratic Party does; it's who they are. They're willing to feign support for anything their voters want just as long as there's no chance that they can pass it....

The primary tactic in this game is Villain Rotation. They always have a handful of Democratic Senators announce that they will be the ones to deviate this time from the ostensible party position and impede success, but the designated Villain constantly shifts, so the Party itself can claim it supports these measures while an always-changing handful of their members invariably prevent it.
It couldn't possibly be the case that plutocrats routinely buy off enough Democrats (as well as all Republicans) in order to scuttle bills they don't want. No, it must be that the party itself doesn't want these bills passed.

Some of you might think Greenwald's theory makes a lot of sense. Maybe I'm the naive one here. But I'll stick with my theory: The villains are rotated, but it's stinking-rich megadonors who do the rotating, not the party.

And they might do it again. So don't assume you'll get an opportunity to uncork that champagne.


Simon & Schuster told us yesterday that it will publish Mike Pence's memoir, So Help Me God, on November 15. Here's the oddest sentence in the publisher's announcement:
The most robust defense of the Trump record of anyone who served in the administration, SO HELP ME GOD also chronicles President Trump’s severing of their relationship on January 6, 2021 when Pence kept his oath to the Constitution.
We know that Pence is delusional: He thinks he can win the votes of Trump supporters, even though they regard him as a traitor and a RINO. But now we know the specifics of his pitch to them, which is extraordinarily naive: Pence thinks that what they admired about Trump is his record. They do -- get them talking and they'll tell you we were prosperous in the Trump years, and admired (or feared) all over the world. They'll say there was no crime and no illegal immigration.

Pence wants 2024 GOP primary voters to think: The state of the Union in the Trump years was very good, and the man who was a heartbeat away from the presidency surely deserves a large share of the credit for that -- and also he's a man of character and an admirer of the Constitution, unlike the former president. So let's get the good stuff -- the record -- without Trump and his awful character flaws. Pence '24!

But Trump fans -- even the ones who might be starting to sour on him -- don't believe that America was "great again" in the Trump years because a fine team put excellent policies into place. They think it was all vibes -- Trump's vibes. They think America and the world were better in the Trump years because Trump was tough, smart, and crafty, a bully and a rule breaker. I'm sure they can't explain how that helped him bring about paradise on earth. He just did it with Trumpness.

To the fans, the outward manifestation of Trumpness is that you say and do things that infuriate your enemies, and you get away with a lot of them. Ron DeSantis has Trumpness. Mike Pence doesn't. But Pence doesn't grasp any of this. He thinks primary voters will judge him on proximity to Trump rather than shared attitude.

Janary 6 is part of that attitude. To Trump fans, rejecting the Stop the Steal campaign means rejecting what made Trump great -- his willingness to fight by any means necessary for what's right (which, to GOP voters, is permanent control of the government by people like themselves). They think the Trump record derives from the same impulses that led Trump to try to overturn the election. They think: At least he fights. They apply this to the election, foreign policy, immigration, Antifa, and everything else. Pence thinks he can split the record off from the insurrection. To the fans, they all come from the same place.

If some of the fans are drifting away from Trump, it's not because they want the record without the attitude. It's because they think Trump's attitude isn't owning the libs as effectively as it used to. He might be indicted! He motivates liberal voter turnout! The Deep State, the "fake" media, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Pentagon will cheat again to prevent him from winning!

They know we drove Trump out of the White House. They think we got to Pence. They don't think we've laid a glove on DeSantis. And that's why DeSantis will win the nomination if Trump doesn't, while Pence will be lucky to win a dozen delegates.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022


For Joe Biden, this looks bad:
A new CNN poll finds 75% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters want the party to nominate someone other than President Joe Biden in the 2024 election, a sharp increase from earlier this year....

The poll shows a sharp downturn in enthusiasm for a 2024 reelection bid by the President. In January/February, 51% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters said they wanted someone other than Biden to be the Democratic nominee in 2024.
But there's more: In a poll of New Hampshire Democratic voters conducted by the University of New Hampshire, Biden is losing to Pete Buttigieg by 1 point.

Sadder still: Biden isn't even a popular second choice. Only 2% of respondents pick him an alternate. (Cory Booker, Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, and Stacey Abrams all crack double digits.)

Biden finished fifth in the 2020 New Hampshire primary -- Sanders, Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren all finished ahead of him. But he's the president now. This shouldn't be happening,

And I know that New Hampshire is much whiter than the Democratic electorate nationwide. But according to that CNN poll, only 27% of non-white Democrats nationwide want Biden to run again, which is only marginally better than he does among whites (22%).

No primary challenge to a sitting president has succeeded in the past half century -- Ronald Reagan did some damage to Gerald Ford in 1976, and the same is true for Ted Kennedy when he ran against Jimmy Carter in 1980, and Pat Buchanan when he ran against George Bush in 1992. But if Joe Biden doesn't right the ship, I suspect he'll be quite beatable. If he's still struggling in a year but decides to run anyway, will other Democrats conclude that challenging him is bad for the party? Or will they conclude that not challenging him is bad for the party?


Paul Krugman writes this about right-wing beliefs in 2022:
What I don’t think is fully appreciated ... is that the Big Lie is embedded in an even bigger lie: the claim that the Democratic Party is controlled by radical leftists aiming to destroy America as we know it....

The other day The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel, reporting from the campaign trail, noted that many Republican candidates are claiming that Democrats are deliberately undermining the nation and promoting violence against their opponents; some are even claiming that we’re already in a civil war.

Some (many?) of these candidates have been winning primaries, suggesting that the G.O.P. base agrees with them.
He's right -- the base absolutely believes this. The base thinks high gas prices are caused by Democratic policies intended to force an end to the use of fossil fuels. It thinks liberal approaches to policing and bail are meant to cause increases in crime. It believes that border crossings by undocumented immigrants are a Democratic scheme to change the makeup of the U.S. population. There are similar nefarious schemes in the area of foreign policy, right-wingers will insist.

So why do right-wingers think Democrats are saboteurs? I think it starts with two words uttered on the campaign trail by Barack Obama in the fall of 2008.

On October 30, 2008, a few days before Election Day, Barack Obama spoke at a rally in Columbia, Missouri. He said:
After decades of broken politics in Washington, and eight years of failed policies from George W. Bush, and 21 months of a campaign that's taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.
I've highlighted the two words that broke right-wing America's brains.

Now, what did Obama mean by that? He went on to say:
In five days, you can turn the page on policies that put greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street.

In five days, you can choose policies that invest in our middle class, and create new jobs, and grow this economy, so that everyone has a chance to succeed, not just the CEO, but the secretary and janitor, not just the factory owner, but the men and women on the factory floor.

In five days, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election, that tries to pit region against region, and city against town, and Republican against Democrat, that asks -- asks us to fear at a time when we need to hope.

In five days, at this defining moment in history, you can give this country the change we need.
This is standard Democratic talk. But the notion that Obama wanted to fundamentally transform America became a right-wing shibboleth, a short-hand way of saying he wanted to tear it out of the ground root and branch and replace it with something strange, non-European, socialist, multi-racial, and probably gay.

So on the radio in 2010, Glenn Beck said:
I'm going to give you a hard concept to get your arms around: It's the concept that there are people in this country who want to intentionally collapse our economic system.

How could it be that any American would or would want to do such a thing? Well, those involved sleep just fine at night because they tell themselves that they're not collapsing, they're transforming — transforming — America into something better.

... as we discuss this, keep in mind that you're watching all of this through your eyes; you see this as trying to collapse our economy. But progressives see this as a fundamental transformation — something better than we've ever had — as promised by Barack Obama...
In 2015, right-wing radio host Mark Levin said:
... when somebody says they want to fundamentally transform America, well, then you must not love America. It’s like saying I’m going to fundamentally transform my wife, or my girlfriend, that means you must not love your wife or your girlfriend. And Obama has shown no indication that he loves the Constitution. He never talks about capitalism. He’s always bringing up the past. He’s always picking at scabs. Even now he’s a patsy for Islamic terrorism. Half of his speeches are about how terrible America is and America shouldn’t react in [a] negative way.
Joe Biden is president now and Barack Obama has been retired for years, but the right is still using this phrase -- in part because many on the right believe that Obama and his former aides are secretly controlling the Biden White House from afar. Here's a Glenn Beck Facebook post from a couple of weeks after Joe Biden's inaugural. Note the caption:

Here's Senator Ron Johnson on Twitter a couple of weeks ago:

Here's Sarah Palin talking about the Biden presidency:
“It’s purposeful,” said former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who is running in next month’s special election for the state’s sole House seat, in an interview with former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon. “It’s all about the fundamental transformation of America. You only fundamentally transform something for which you have disdain.”
Obama's Blackness and (in their eyes) foreign-ness made them crazy, and even with Biden in the White House, they're still that way.

Monday, July 25, 2022


If you consume enough Republican propaganda -- as millions of Americans do -- eventually stories that have nothing to do with American politics seem infused with domestic political relevance. You'll see a headline about something "woke" in Canada or Denmark or New Zealand and think: This is why I'll never, ever vote for a Democrat. Fox News and other parts of the GOP propaganda machine present international stories that echo its narratives of Democratic evil as if they're stories about evil Democrats. People who consume a great deal of this content start to believe that these stories are really about America.

Here's an example, a story from Gateway Pundit about Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka’s new president Ranil Wickremesinghe is enforcing a QR code digital ID program to access gas in an effort to ration fuel....

Sri Lankans must now comply with the new Fuel Quota policies requiring them to use their National Identity Card Numbers to apply for an assigned QR code to access a gas pump.

The Sri Lankan government is employing the country’s armed guards to enforce the QR code requirement....

In May, Wickremesinghe warned the bankrupt country had run out of fuel and would face more hardships in the coming months.
Sri Lanka is struggling right now, in ways that America isn't. Because this is Gateway Pundit, there can be only one reason for that: Sri Lanka is led by a woke globalist!
Sri Lankan president Wickremesinghe is a member and “Agenda Contributor” of the World Economic Forum.
On the right these days, "World Economic Forum" is a synonym for "evil" in the way that "Rothschild" used to be for certain people (and for some still is).
In an 2016 article published by WEF titled, “The future of Sri Lanka’s economy,” Wickremesinghe outlined the role Sri Lanka would play in reducing global emissions and transitioning away from fossil fuels.
A globalist and a believer in climate change! The worst possible combination!

And now for the domestic angle:
Implementing a global digital identity system is a priority agenda of the WEF....

Democrats in Congress are alos intent on ramping up the U.S. federal government’s participation in a digital identity system

On July 22, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform voted to advance the “Improving Digital Identity Act”, a bill introduced Rep. Bill Foster, D.-Ill. to modernize digital identity infrastructure. The legislation would allocated funding to the Department of Homeland Security to develop credentialing systems for digital identity verification on the state and local level.

Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., along with Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo, introduced a companion bill in the Senate on July 13.
The actual bill appears to be an effort to reduce the amount of money online merchants lose as a result of identity theft. It has nothing to do with Sri Lanka's attempt to use technology to ration gas during a shortage. But if you're in the bubble, the bill is clearly an attempt to force everyone in America to accept the Mark of the Beast. (And it's an evil Democratic plan even with a Republican co-sponsor.)

The commenters, who are well trained after consuming mass quantities of this sort of material, know who the real heroes and villains of this story are:
Ben Franklin said "A Republic if you can keep it". Thomas Jefferson provided the means to keep it with the Second Amendment.



The tyrannical Left are most afraid of the Populace Movement! This is why they have to destroy Trump because he represents the People! Trump gave government back to the people and has hopes that the People will find strength to speak up, and realize their power to take back their country! He cannot do it alone! What good is the Silent Majority when its the Silence that got us here in the first place.


FJB Indeed!




More like FJB is Dr. Jill.


I withdraw my consent to be governed by these maniacs.


Refuse to comply with and actively resist unlawful and unconstitutional edicts from the federal government. Speak up now or forever hold your tongue!

To disarm the the most effectual way to enslave them.


The heat is on simmer. When there is no option I would be worried if I were a Democrat leader. The temperature of many is rising.
A Government cannot control one million or more. The people absolutly will not tolerate confiscating weapons. More have to see it. The air is getting thicker.


Americans............... Hold on to your guns.


“Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, Castro, Pol Pot, all these monsters began by confiscating private arms, then literally soaking the earth with the blood of tens and tens of millions of their people. There can be no free speech, no freedom of the press, no freedom to protest, no freedom to worship your god, no freedom to speak your mind, no freedom from fear, no freedom for your children and for theirs, for anybody, anywhere, without the Second Amendment freedom to fight for it.” - Charlton Heston
The story never mentions guns. It never mentions President Biden. It never mentions Donald Trump or Barack Obama. But these people are well trained. The response is automatic and Pavlovian. Everything in the world leads to the same conclusion: Democrats are evil.


I keep looking at polls and polling averages for key midterm races, especially the ones in which Democrats are defying predictions of a "red wave." Raphael Warnock: up by 1.3% over Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate race according to FiveThirtyEight, and up by 2.8% according to Real Clear Politics. Tim Ryan: up by 0.4% over J.D. Vance in the Ohio Senate race according to FiveThirtyEight. Likely Democratic nominee Mandela Barnes: up by 2% in a Wisconsin Senate matchup against incumbent Ron Johnson, according to a June poll from Marquette University. Josh Shapiro: up by 3 or 4 against Doug Mastriano according to recent polls of the Pennsylvania governor's race. Catherine Cortez Masto: up by 0.8% in the Nevada Senate race against Adam Laxalt, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Democrats can win some or all of these elections -- but if they do, the margins are likely to be tight. How will Republicans react?

Already this year, we see that Trump-addled county officials are refusing to certify election results:
It’s been more than nine weeks since the Pennsylvania primary. The election is still not certified.

The reason: Three counties — Berks, Fayette and Lancaster — are refusing to process absentee ballots that were received in a timely manner and are otherwise valid, except the voter did not write a date on the declaration printed on the ballot’s return envelope....

The standoff in Pennsylvania is the latest attempt by conservative-leaning counties to disrupt, delay or otherwise meddle with the process of statewide election certification....

The issue reached the courts last year, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in a dispute over a judicial election that ballots could not be discounted because voters had not dated the return envelope’s declaration. The Supreme Court upheld that decision in June.
We see election denialists inviting "constitutionalist" sheriffs to meddle in elections:
An influential network of conservative activists fixated on the idea that former President Donald J. Trump won the 2020 election is working to recruit county sheriffs to investigate elections based on the false notion that voter fraud is widespread.

The push, which two right-wing sheriffs’ groups have already endorsed, seeks to lend law enforcement credibility to the false claims and has alarmed voting rights advocates.

... at least three sheriffs involved in the effort — in Michigan, Kansas and Wisconsin — have already been carrying out their own investigations, clashing with election officials....

The three sheriffs gathered with a few hundred others at a forum this month in Las Vegas hosted by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.

Attendees included leaders of True the Vote, a group whose work spreading discredited theories of mass voter fraud inspired the conspiratorial film “2000 Mules”; Mike Lindell, the Trump ally and MyPillow chief executive; and other prominent figures in the 2020 election-denial movement....

The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association ... is dedicated to the theory that sheriffs are beholden only to the Constitution and serve as the ultimate authority in a county — above local, state and federal officials and statutes....
And we see Republicans effectively accusing their political opponents of treason and encouraging violence in response:
In both swing states and safe seats, many Republicans say that liberals hate them personally and may turn rioters or a police state on people who disobey them....

That argument has been dramatized in ads that, for instance, show one armed candidate appearing to charge into the home of a political enemy, and another warning of “the mob” that threatens ordinary Americans. In many cases the candidates are brandishing firearms while threatening harm to liberals or other enemies....

In northwest Ohio, a campaign video for Republican congressional nominee J.R. Majewski shows him walking through a dilapidated factory, holding a semiautomatic weapon, warning that Democrats will “destroy our economy” with purposefully bad policies.

“Their agenda is bringing America to its knees, and I am willing to do whatever it takes,” says Majewski, who’s seeking a House seat in a district around Toledo that has been redrawn to make Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) beatable. “If I have to kick down doors, that’s just what patriots do.”
How will these people react if they lose a few elections by small margins? Obviously they're going to say any Democratic win that's not in the bluest of states and districts was the result of cheating. But it's possible that in quite a few winnable races for Republicans outside the deep-blue parts of America, Democrats will win narrowly after slow counts of big-city districts, or after absentee ballots are counted. I hope we're ready to fight for democracy this year and not just in 2024, because we might need to do that.

Sunday, July 24, 2022


Under the headline "Liz Cheney Braces for Primary Loss as Focus Shifts to 2024," AP tells us that Cheney's near-inevitable primary loss this year will actually advance her political career:
Cheney’s unrelenting criticism of Trump from a Capitol Hill committee room represents the centerpiece of an unconventional campaign strategy that may well lead to her political demise, at least in the short term. Many Cheney allies are prepared for — if not resigned to — a loss in Wyoming’s Aug. 16 Republican primary against Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman.

But as primary day approaches, there is also a pervasive belief among Cheney’s team that her unorthodox strategy in 2022 may put her in a stronger position for the 2024 presidential contest. Cheney’s fierce anti-Trump message as vice chairman of the congressional committee investigating the insurrection has strengthened her national brand while expanding a national network of donors and Trump critics in both parties who could boost a prospective White House run.
The AP story adds:
Cheney has yet to finalize any decisions about 2024, but she has not ruled out a presidential run as a Republican or an independent.
I've added emphasis here because a Cheney primary loss ought to make clear to her what should have been obvious months ago: that she has no home in the GOP. But as I keep telling you, if it appears that we're headed for a Joe Biden-Donald Trump rerun, there'll be a clamor in the punditocracy for a third-party challenger -- and both the mainstream media and the donor class will want that challenger to be corporatist and economically right-leaning, though with credibility among moderate Democratic voters. Cheney, despite her dogmatically conservative voting record apart from matters dealing with Trump and democracy, fits the bill perfectly. Which is why I tweeted this yesterday:

And what do you know? Here's Chuck Todd today talking about Cheney and clearly seeing starbursts:

Luria is noncommittal. I wish she'd said she intends to back Joe Biden in 2024, or even that she intends to back her party's nominee. That's what a Democrat should do. But Luria is in a reelection race rated as a toss-up, in an R+2 district, according to the Cook Political Report. And she's Cheney's friend, as well as a colleague on the January 6 committee. And it's a Democratic instinct to lavish praise on Republicans at those moments when they're not being entirely awful. So Luria expressed the hope that Cheney would be a politcal force in the future.

I can easily imagine a media groundswell for a Cheney third-party run to save America from Trump and Biden. I can imagine big-money donors backing her. As I say in the tweet above, I can imagine polls in which she runs first or second. Cheney voted with Trump more often than Matt Gaetz did, but she'd get a great deal of left-centrist support.

However, another right-wing ideologue is also trying to save us from Trump:

The editorials seem as if they were generated in the same boiler room. (Journal: "Character is revealed in a crisis, and Mr. Pence passed his Jan. 6 trial. Mr. Trump utterly failed his." Post: "as a matter of principle, as a matter of character, Trump has proven himself unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again.") But Michael Wolff and others have been telling us for years that Rupert Murdoch despises Trump and thinks he's an idiot. Yet Fox News, which is both a cash cow for Murdoch and his principal propaganda organ, still can't really quit Trump. (There was chief propagandist Tucker Carlson decrying the conviction of Steve Bannon and calling the January 6 hearings "a show trial" on Friday night.)

But a three-minute montage of Arizona voters rooting for Ron DeSantis to be the 2024 GOP presidential nominee was recently posted on the Fox News website. This doesn't appear to have been aired on the Fox News Channel, however, and Murdoch and his son Lachlan still haven't allowed -- or ordered -- any of their TV stars to ask Trump to step aside. We'll see if there's more where this came from.

If Rupert Murdoch gets his wish and Trump doesn't run, that means there'll be less of a clamor in the mainstream media for a third-party candidate. In other words, DeSantis might save us from Cheney. Of the two very bad deals, this seems like the worse one. A Biden comeback, or an alternate Democratic nominee who can win, is what we really need.

Saturday, July 23, 2022


Imagine you're Lee Zeldin. You're a Trumpist Republican running for governor in New York State, where members of your party have won statewide races, but not for many years -- the last GOP governor left office in 2006. You cling to hope because it could be a Republican wave year, because your opponent has never won a statewide race on her own (Kathy Hochul was Andrew Cuomo's lieutenant governor and was elevated to the governorship when he resigned), and because you're running on "law and order" at a time when there are increases in crime, and when some DAs -- whom you may be empowered to fire if you're elected -- support liberalized bail laws. Your best-known campaign promise is to fire one such DA, Manhattan's Alvin Bragg.

And yet polls show that you're trailing by 18 points. You're not getting much media attention. It looks as if you're about to be another Republican loser in New York.

And then, as if by magic, an event occurs at one of your campaign stops that makes the national news, in a way that precisely tracks with your campaign's narrative on crime. Fox News reported yesterday:

A man who allegedly attacked Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., with a sharp object at a campaign stop in Perinton, New York, Thursday evening was charged with a felony and released from custody within hours of his arrest, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department said.

The suspect, identified as David G. Jakubonis, 43 of Fairport, N.Y., was charged with attempted assault in the second degree.

He was arraigned in Perinton Town Court and released on his own recognizance, the sheriff’s department said.

Zeldin, who is the Republican candidate for governor in New York, predicted the alleged attacker would be released.
Early reports said it was a "knife attack," and some overheated right-wing sites referred to the assault as an attempted assassination. This became a massive story in the right-wing media.

But we quickly learned that this wasn't a deadly weapon:

And now we learn this:
In the case of Mr. Jakubonis, the Monroe County district attorney could have chosen to charge him with a violent felony, which would have qualified the case for potential bail, and pushed to keep him behind bars.

A spokeswoman for Sandra Doorley, the district attorney, declined to comment on whether bail would have been sought in a similar case under the law before 2020. The spokeswoman also said that Ms. Doorley, who is a co-chair of Mr. Zeldin’s campaign, would recuse herself from the case.
So Zeldin's campaign co-chair exercised the option to undercharge Jakubonis. This is not required under the bail law. But that will never be mentioned in the right-wing media.

Now I'm going to go a step further. I think it was a fake attack, staged by the campaign.

Watch the original video.

Jakubonis approaches Zeldin starting at 0:42, but he doesn't seem angry or purposeful at all. It's as if the campaign told him to approach, and it never occurred to him to do any acting. He didn't lean into the assault. He just walked up to Zeldin as if he were walking across his living room.

We know Jakubonis is an Iraq veteran with a history of problem drinking. We know that his LinkedIn page includes the message "Hire me." Is it so hard to believe that the Zeldin campaign would pay this guy a few bucks to stage an attack, promising that he wouldn't face any real punishment? (That was the whole point of the exercise!) And now the campaign has a message it can use all the way to November.

Zeldin recently lost his bid to appear on the Independence Party line as well as the Republican line when his ballot petitions were successfully challenged and found to have 13,000 invalid signatures, most of them apparently photocopied. And, of course, he voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results. So I don't put anything past him.

Friday, July 22, 2022


In 2014, Corey Pein published a piece in The Baffler titled "Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream of a Silicon Reich." Pein told us about a self-important autodidact who'd developed a small but devoted following:
One day in March of this year, a Google engineer named Justine Tunney created a strange and ultimately doomed petition at the White House website. The petition proposed a three-point national referendum, as follows:
1. Retire all government employees with full pensions.
2. Transfer administrative authority to the tech industry.
3. Appoint [Google executive chairman] Eric Schmidt CEO of America.
... “Read Mencius Moldbug,” Tunney told her Twitter followers last month, referring to an aggressively dogmatic blogger with a reverent following in certain tech circles.

... Mencius Moldbug is the blogonym of Curtis Guy Yarvin, a San Francisco software developer....

When Justine Tunney posted her petition online, the press treated it like comic relief that came from nowhere. In fact, it is straight Moldbug. Item one, “retire all government employees,” comes verbatim from a 2012 talk that Yarvin gave to an approving crowd of California techies.... In his typical smarmy, meandering style, Yarvin concluded by calling for “a national CEO [or] what’s called a dictator.”

“If Americans want to change their government, they’re going to have to get over their dictator phobia,” Yarvin said in his talk.
Cut to early 2017. Donald Trump was president now, and The Atlantic's Rosie Gray told us this about the top presidential adviser at the time, Steve Bannon:
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been in contact via intermediaries with Curtis Yarvin, Politico Magazine reported this week. Yarvin, a software engineer and blogger, writes under the name Mencius Moldbug. His anti-egalitarian arguments have formed the basis for a movement called “neoreaction.”

... The fact that Bannon reportedly reads and has been in contact with Yarvin is another sign of the extent to which the Trump era has brought previously fringe right-wing ideologies into the spotlight....

Yarvin ... is focusing on a startup, Urbit, whose investors reportedly include Paypal co-founder and Trump backer Peter Thiel. (Thiel has himself questioned some of the fundamentals of American politics, writing in 2009, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”)
Now cut to the present day. Bannon left the Trump White House after a few months, but he remains a Trump adviser. Curtis Yarvin now inspires a loose agglomeration of so-called National Conservatives, including two Senate candidates, J.D. Vance in Ohio and Blake Masters in Arizona, who have worked for Thiel and are now bankrolled by him, and who have also been endorsed by Trump. Vanity Fair's James Pogue writes about a moment at a Masters campaign event:
... [Masters] took questions at the end.... One man raised his hand to ask how Masters planned to drain the swamp. He gave me a sly look. “Well, one of my friends has this acronym he calls RAGE,” he said. “Retire All Government Employees.” The crowd liked the sound of this and erupted in a cheer.
More from that Vanity Fair article:
In 2014, The Baffler published a lengthy look at [Yarvin's] influence, titled “Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream of a Silicon Reich.” The piece warned that Yarvin’s ideas were spreading among prominent figures like Thiel and Balaji Srinivasan, formerly the CTO of Coinbase....

In 2017, BuzzFeed News published an email exchange between Yarvin and Milo Yiannopoulis in which Yarvin said that he’d watched the 2016 election returns with Thiel. “He’s fully enlightened,” Yarvin wrote. “Just plays it very carefully.” Masters soon had an office in Trump Tower. He and Thiel worked, generally without success, to install figures like Srinivasan, whom they proposed to head the FDA, and who himself ... made common cause with figures like Steve Bannon, who wanted to pick apart the administrative state, an idea that at least had a hint of Yarvin’s RAGE proposal.
And now we're learning this from Axios's Jonathan Swan:
Former President Trump’s top allies are preparing to radically reshape the federal government if he is re-elected, purging potentially thousands of civil servants and filling career posts with loyalists to him and his "America First” ideology....

The impact could go well beyond typical conservative targets such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service. Trump allies are working on plans that would potentially strip layers at the Justice Department — including the FBI, and reaching into national security, intelligence, the State Department and the Pentagon....

Trump signed an executive order, “Creating Schedule F in the Excepted Service,” in October 2020, which established a new employment category for federal employees. It ... quickly was rescinded by President Biden.

Sources close to Trump say that if he were elected to a second term, he would immediately reimpose it.

Tens of thousands of civil servants who serve in roles deemed to have some influence over policy would be reassigned as “Schedule F” employees. Upon reassignment, they would lose their employment protections....

Trump, in theory, could fire tens of thousands of career government officials with no recourse for appeals. He could replace them with people he believes are more loyal to him and to his “America First” agenda.
I'm no expert on how these ideas flow from Thiel World to Trump World and back again. Nevertheless, it looks as if Trump is setting out to become the "“national CEO [or] what’s called a dictator” Yarvin called for.

Bannon was convicted of contempt of Congress today, but his ideas (and the ideas he's borrowed) are out there. Trump probably has no idea who Yarvin is, and his determination to be a dictator/CEO lacks the warped idealism of Yarvin, but in his narcissistic way, he's a Moldbuggian.

Thursday, July 21, 2022


President Biden's COVID diagnosis wasn't the only big health news today. There was also this:
A case of polio has been identified in an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County, according to a news release from the New York State Department of Health and the Rockland County Department of Health on Thursday.

The agencies confirmed that the infection was transmitted from someone who received the oral polio vaccine, which has not been administered in the United States since 2000. Officials believe the virus may have originated outside the United States, where the oral vaccine is still administered....

Those already vaccinated against polio are at very low risk: Those who have had all three shots have close to 100 percent protection. But those who are unvaccinated or haven’t completed their vaccination series should get vaccinated, officials said....

The oral vaccine is safe and effective and is still given in countries where vaccine access is more limited. However, people who receive the oral vaccine, which contains a weakened version of the virus, may still shed the virus.
Right-wingers on social media, based on exactly zero evidence, identified a culprit:

But if the New York Post is correct, this didn't happen in an enclave of undocumented residents:
Three elected officials, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, told The Post that the case was connected to the local Orthodox Jewish community where pockets of vaccine resistance stoked an outbreak of measles in 2019.
The New York Times adds:
... a regional health assessment reported that about half of children in Rockland County had received all of their routine childhood vaccinations in 2016 by 35 months of age, one of the lowest rates in the region. To achieve herd immunity for polio, the target vaccination rate is 80 percent, according to the World Health Organization.
And The Washington Post says:
... in areas with low vaccination coverage, such as the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Rockland County, people who are not vaccinated are at high risk.
According to a Pew survey, 75% of Orthodox Jews in America identify as Republicans or Republican leaners. (American Jews overall are 71% Democratic.) As Religion News Service puts it, "In voting, Orthodox Jews are looking more like evangelicals." In vaccination, too, I guess. And the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community seems more Republican and Trumpier than the Modern Orthodox community.

We don't know who transmitted the virus, but it appears that this person was responsible enough to get vaccinated, though apparently in a country where the riskier vaccine is used. The person who contracted polio seems not to have been vaccinated, in childhood or adulthood.

The story of this case might change as we learn more. But for now it appears that this virus came from a vaccinated person -- but would have been no threat to someone who was also vaccinated.


Just a reminder that you shouldn't develop a soft spot for Mike Pence, and neither should any of your liberal-ish friends and relatives:
Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday hailed the end of Roe v. Wade and outlined steps he hoped to see states take to further roll back abortion access in his first public remarks since the Supreme Court overturned Roe....

“... make no mistake about it: As we gather tonight, we must recognize that we have only come to the end of the beginning,” Pence continued. “Standing here in the first days of post-Roe America, we must resolve that we will not rest, we will not relent, until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the nation.” ...

Pence urged those in attendance to elect anti-abortion officials at the state level so they could craft policies restricting abortion....

He further called for ending “mail-order abortion” by restricting access to abortion pills....

“Though I do not know if I will be here to see it, I believe with all my heart the day will come when the right to life is the law of the land in every state in this country, and this generation will lead us to a pro-life America,” Pence added.
Yes, Trump's people wanted to kill him and Trump thought that was a good idea, but we shouldn't regard Pence as a less threatening Republican as a result.

Also, I'm starting to believe that the many recent stories asserting that Republicans want a crowded 2024 presidential primary field -- Pence, Youngkin, whoever -- aren't really about 2024. Consider this, from The Hill:
... many GOP members are not ready to pick sides in a Trump-Pence clash, at least not before the midterm elections, publicly downplaying or denying that there is any awkwardness or tension with members embracing the former vice president.

“Both men, Trump and Pence, have a role to play in helping House Republicans take back the majority, and each one of them may play a stronger role depending on the congressional districts,” said Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.).
I think what Republicans are trying to signal, in advance of Trump's inevitable announcement that he's running in 2024, is that swing voters this year who don't like Trump shouldn't think of the party as his, nor should angry Democrats -- heck, there are plenty of Republicans who aren't Trump or Trump clones, and some of them are even enemies! So don't withhold your vote for your GOP House or Senate candidate (or if you're a Democrat, stay home if you're angry at Joe Manchin, and don't let Trump motivate you to vote)!

So Republicans are ostensibly talking about 2024, as in this CNN story:
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said that the party has a "lot of good options" and he hopes "they all jump in" to the race....

Senate Minority Whip John Thune told CNN that there will be "other attractive" Republican candidates in 2024 besides Trump, echoing comments earlier this week from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who predicted it will be a crowded field.

And Rep. Dusty Johnson, a South Dakota Republican and member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said he thinks it would be healthy for the GOP to have a debate about who should be their next standard-bearer.

"I certainly hope we'll have a crowded field so we can have a robust discussion," Johnson told CNN.
But my sense is that they're trying to get this message out before Trump announces, which will almost certainly be before November. I don't think they can out-message Trump, but they're trying.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022


A couple of days ago, Fox News released its first full-length DeSantis for President campaign ad:
Ahead of the rally former President Donald Trump was scheduled to have in Arizona (later postponed due to the death of Ivana Trump), the Fox News website posted a stunning three-minute video featuring a host of Trump supporters in Maricopa County talking about ditching him in 2024 for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL).

The incredible montage features a group of Arizona voters who — save for one identified as Beverly who enthusiastically backed a Trump 2024 bid — all said they wanted to see Trump sit it out next time and identified DeSantis as the person they want to take over the party.

Clearly the Murdochs think they can manufacture consent for a DeSantis win in the primaries two years from now. Many GOP voters appear to be on their side, but a few key people aren't on board:
Some House Republicans praised former Vice President Mike Pence for certifying the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021, and encouraged him to run for president in 2024 in a closed-door gathering Wednesday.

During a meeting of the Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus of conservatives in Congress, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, stood up and thanked Pence for his “courage and standing for the Constitution and certifying" President Joe Biden's election win, according to Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., and two other Republicans who attended the meeting.

Roy's comments received "sustained applause" in the room, Hill told NBC News.....

Later in the meeting, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told Pence he appreciated him engaging with lawmakers and asked if he had any plans to run for the Oval Office in 2024....

Leaving the meeting, Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., told reporters “people were encouraging him in there” to run for president.
Pence is the only potential 2024 Republican candidate besides Trump and DeSantis who sometimes polls in the double digits. Right now, Trump is at 53.3% in the Real Clear Politics average, but he occasionally scores below 50%. So maybe he could be beaten. But he won't be beaten if Pence takes just enough of the non-Trump vote to deny DeSantis any victories.

Of course, if Mitch McConnell is right and Trump faces "a crowded field" in 2024, that suggests a replay of 2016. There might be more Trump skeptics than Trump superfans, but Trump's fans will still outnumber anyone else's voters.

Pence is the big problem, however, because -- bafflingly -- he still has a following in the party. (I assume it's Trump skeptics whose religious conservatism is really important to them.) So I wonder: Will Fox eventually put together a long video intended to encourage Pence to drop out?


As I've been saying, I'm fine with Democrats promoting less electable Republicans in primaries. It might not work out well everywhere, but I see no problem with Democrats' decision to run ads portraying Dan Cox as ultra-MAGA in the Maryland gubernatorial primary. Cox probably would have won anyway -- with some votes still to be counted, he's winning by 16 points -- but he's clearly an easier candidate for Democrats to beat. The Cook Political Report has now changed its rating of his race from Lean Democratic to Solid Democratic.

Democrats' many interventions this year have some pundits wondering whether the party will try to promote the 2024 Republican presidential candidate who seems easiest to beat -- Donald Trump. I hope they don't.

Critics of the Democrats' boosting strategy point to 2016, when many people thought Trump was the easiest Republican to beat, as proof that the outcome of elections is unknowable. I think there's a different lesson to be learned from 2016 (and 2018, and 2020): Trump's voter base includes many voters who don't go to the polls regularly. They surprised us by showing up in 2016, and they also nearly put him over the top in 2020. However, they didn't show up in 2018, and Democrats regained the House. It seems as if Trumpists who aren't Donald Trump lack his star power -- they're less likely to win when polls say they're losing. Trump's base includes voters who are simply starstruck by him.

On the other hand, this may be an outdated assumption. There seems to be a contingent of voters who showed up for Trump in the past but now think it's time for a change; also, right-wing propaganda may have made the supporters of certain ideas -- for instance, that critical race theory is the greatest evil in human history -- likely to turn out for those ideas the way they turned out for Trump in the past. Glenn Youngkin's win in Virginia last year might be a sign of that.

I'm still betting that Trump's appeal will remain hard to measure -- in a general election, I think he'll still draw a lot of infrequent voters. So don't help him. Don't trust polls that suggest he's weaker than Ron DeSantis or other Republican alternatives. But I think boosting these other clowns is a reasonable risk to take.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022


Ariel Edwards-Levy looks at some results from a new CNN poll:
Across a spectrum of major policy issues, majorities say that each party's positions are generally mainstream -- the only exception is abortion, where most call Republicans too extreme. Voters are more likely to see Democrats as in the mainstream on voting rights and election integrity, immigration and abortion than to say the same of the Republicans. But they're more apt to see Republicans as mainstream on the economy than Democrats.

On the one hand, this means that much of the GOP's demonization of Democrats has failed to connect with voters outside the right-wing bubble -- most Americans don't believe Democrats are radical Marxists deliberately trying to destroy the U.S. economy, or are maintaining "open borders" in order to replace all the white voters with brown-skinned immigrants, or sadistically want to murder babies after they're born.

On the other hand, Democrats and the supposedly liberal media are still failing to communicate how radical Republicans are. I'm glad most of CNN's poll respondents understand that Republican views on abortion are extreme -- but they still don't grasp that Republicans want open carry of AR-15s on every street corner, want legitimate votes tossed out if they're cast for Democrats, and want even lower taxes on the rich and a $7.25 national minimum wage until the end of time, assuming they don't repeal the minimum wage altogether, through either legislation or a Supreme Court decision, which might come before or after Obamacare is repealed or declared unconstitutional, with Social Security and Medicare in the crosshairs. This year Democrats tried to talk about Rick Scott's plan to sunset those entitlements and require Congress to reauthorize them, and to subject even poor Americans to the income tax, but voters didn't notice. But how hard is it to notice that Republicans want guns everywhere? I guess the nothingburger gun bill that just passed was effective cover for them.

Democrats have never been good at poining out that Republican policies are wildly different from what most Americans want. But Republicans are excellent at proclaiming that Democrats are radicals, and that doesn't seem to be working. So maybe it's generally hard to sell most Americans on the idea that one political party is truly radical. That's a problem because Republicans intend to be more and more radical in the future, which means Democrats really need to find a way to deliver that message.


I see that there's more hand-wringing about Democratic interventions in Republican campaigns, this time in a New York Times op-ed by Brian Beutler of Crooked Media.
In Arizona, Democrats have intervened on behalf of Kari Lake, a candidate for governor who has fanned lies about the 2020 election and demanded the imprisonment of the Democratic front-runner. In Pennsylvania, Democrats ran ads boosting Doug Mastriano, a Christian theocrat who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection before running for governor.

To say that the Democratic strategy of putting a thumb on the scale for these charlatans and conspiracy theorists, in this political climate, has alarmed prominent liberals would be an understatement. The MSNBC host Chris Hayes called it “insane.” Barack Obama’s former chief strategist David Axelrod, who once helped orchestrate similar manipulation, recently wrote that in the Trump era, “I fear the tactic.”
I've written about this before. As I've pointed out, Mastriano won by more than 23 points over his nearest rival in that Pennsylvania primary; Darren Bailey, an election-truther candidate for governor of Illinois for whom Democrats also intervened, won by more than 36. Democrats can't buy that many Republican votes -- if these guys won blowouts, it's because Republican voters liked what they were hearing about them. (It didn't hurt that both were endorsed by Donald Trump.)

Beutler seems to suggest that he agrees with Hayes and Axelrod -- but he's not opposed to Democratic intervention categorically:
I don’t believe Democrats can remain fully neutral during Republican primaries; they will invariably have to respond to the serial outrages pouring out of MAGA candidates. But they should hone a strategy that does more than simply elevate certain Republicans over the rest of the party simply because Democratic strategists believe voters will find them uniquely dangerous or threatening. That strategy obscures and diminishes the truth staring all of us in the face: that the Republican Party as a whole has radicalized against democracy and can’t be trusted with power.
I agree with this: The entire Republican Party is dangerous. Even "nice" Republicans are dangerous. So am I right to think that Beutler disagrees with Hayes and Axelrod? If more beatable Republicans are only marginally worse for America than Republicans who seems mainstream, that means the elevate-the-crazies strategy isn't "insane" or frightening, right? Yet he's equally fretful.

Beutler writes:
The better course would be to find a balance between these two approaches: adopting a coherent overall strategy by attesting honestly to the state of the Republican field as a whole, rather than singling out a few bad apples and spending millions of dollars to boost them.

At some level, Democratic leaders already understand that Mr. Trump’s imprint on the G.O.P. poses a mortal danger to the country. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, told her caucus last week, “The Republicans are not capable of governing a democracy.” That’s a powerful and honest assertion that can, with relentless messaging, remind the 81 million voters who cast their ballots for Joe Biden why they turned out in record-shattering numbers.
That could have been a powerful message in 2022 if Democrats, Pelosi very much included, hadn't been saying exactly the opposite for years. Pelosi, President Biden, and other Democrats regularly sing the praises of the Republican Party, or at least a bygone version of it; Democrats have elevated Liz Cheney to star status and love to boast that their infrastructure bill is bipartisan. (Note that Pelosi made her statement in a closed caucus meeting, and it was leaked to the founder of a subscription-only newsletter read only by D.C. insiders and politics junkies; this is still not a message Democrats have agreed upon for public consumption.)

Also, Pelosi's statement is abstract. Trumpist candidates make it concrete. Saul Alinsky's last Rule for Radicals is "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Republicans know that this works. That's why they demonize specific Democrats -- Pelosi, Hunter Biden, Hillary Clinton, the Squad. I think Democrats should nationalize the spotlight on nutjobs like Mastriano and Lake (and Herschel Walker and others). But just having some of the worst candidates running in purple and blue states could be helpful. If we're lucky, we won't have to assert that Republicans are crazy. They'll prove it every time they open their mouths on the campaign trail.