The Mahablog

Politics. Society. Group Therapy.

The Mahablog

Why I’m Not Looking Forward to Another Election Year

This is the sort of thing that depresses the hell out of me.

Voters rank “the economy” and “inflation” as their top concern in every major survey. And they consistently express more faith in Trump’s competence on those issues than Biden’s. In a Bloomberg–Morning Consult poll from last month, swing-state voters favored Trump over Biden on the economy by a 15-point margin and trusted the Republican more than the Democrat to best handle the cost of everyday goods and services by 12 points. Those results are in line with the findings of various other surveys of both battleground states and the nation as a whole.

Of course, here in Real World Land President Biden and his economic team have done a brilliant job lowering inflation while avoiding a recession. A whole lot of other industrialized democracies are suffering much more than we are. And (as Eric Levitz goes on to explain) Trump’s plans for a second term would make inflation worse.

Voters’ faith in Trump’s price-management bona fides may rest on nostalgia for the 2019 economy, antipathy for Biden, or the belief that The Apprentice was a documentary. One thing it most certainly does not rest on, however, is an accurate understanding of the Trump 2025 agenda’s macroeconomic implications.

That agenda includes imposing a 10 percent tariff on all foreign-made goods, enacting large deficit-financed tax cuts, and slashing America’s foreign-born labor force through mass deportations and immigration restriction. Taken together, this constitutes a recipe for a drastic increase in U.S. consumer prices.

Trump doesn’t understand how tariffs work. In his first term he persisted in thinking that a tariff is somehow a tax imposed on the importing country rather than a tax on the imported goods that American consumers end up having to pay. One suspects that at least a few people have attempted to explain to him how tarriffs work, but he decided to trust his own “stable genius” rather than economists. And Trump is a bleeping moron.

I don’t think the American people have ever heard the story of what a terrible businessman Trump really is. That information was out there in 2016, but if you aren’t the sort of person who reads the long, investigative features in major newspapers  probably you wouldn’t have heard it. The truth is that his record as a businessman is awful. The real estate business he inherited from his father may have had some success after Trump took it over, although it’s hard to know now if any of that was real or just cooking the books. But it’s my understanding that every business venture Trump started himself ended up in bankruptcy court or just plain failed, or was shut down by a court because it was commiting fraud. If you know of an exception, do speak up. Were it not for tax and other fraud, being bailed out by The Apprentice, and probable money laundering for vaqious criminal entities he would have been wiped out long ago.

Some of this collective ignorance among voters is the Fox News effect, but some of it is the collective failure of U.S. news media. Too many allegedly “mainstream” news outlets just plain shy away from telling the plain truth, either because of losing access to Republican sources, or losing viewers, or possibly losing advertisers, or whatever.

And year after year people complain that elections are covered as if they were a “horse race” — who is ahead in the polls, who is behind — while the stories of the candidates’ records and what they might do if elected go mostly untold (except in those really long newspaper stories that only us nerds read). And by golly, so far as we move into a presidential election year, they’re pretty much doing that again, with the additional focus on Joe Biden’s age without noting that Trump is only three years younger.

The Biden campaign, at least, is complaining about some of the coverage of Trump. Charlotte Klein writes for Vanity Fair:

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign accused the political press this past week of not shining “a bright enough light” on Donald Trump’s abortion record, taking specific aim at a New York Timespiece that described the former president—who has boasted about his Supreme Court picks overturning Roe v. Wade—as now “employing vagueness and trying to occupy a middle ground of sorts” on the issue. “It’s time to meet the moment and responsibly inform the electorate of what their lives might look like if the leading GOP candidate for president is allowed back in the White House,” the campaign wrote. Biden campaign aides reiterated this critique on X. “Good to see folks have learned nothing from a decade of covering Donald Trump,” wrote deputy campaign manager Rob Flaherty.

It’s a start.

In other news: X May Lose Up to $75 Million in Revenue as More Advertisers Pull Out. Comment on social media — “Elon has lost his wife, his kids, 40 billion dollars, and his space ship crashed. It’s like a genre of country music that doesn’t even exist yet.”

In actual sad news:  Eric Lutz, Vanity Fair, Trump’s Attacks On Judge and Law Clerk Triggers “Hundreds” Of Threats: Report. So maybe after a few people have been killed by Trump culties the gag order thing will be taken a bit more seriously.

Jim Crow Is Alive and Well and Wearing Judge’s Robes

I’ve started reading Rachel Maddow’s new book, Prequel. Chapter 3 is about how the Third Reich looked to U.S. racial policies for guidance on singling out Jews for discrimination. The Reich actually sent lawyers to the U.S. to understand how we did it, considering our laws said all kinds of stuff about equal protection that obviously wan’t practiced. And, basically, the answer was that the white men who ran everything had many ingenious ways to rationalize that the equal protection clauses simply didn’t apply to nonwhites, because reasons.

So it was creepy when this happened yesterday.

A federal appeals court issued a ruling Monday that could gut the Voting Rights Act, saying only the federal government — not private citizens or civil rights groups — is allowed to sue under a key section of the landmark civil rights law. …

… The appellate court ruled that there is no “private right of action” for Section 2 of the law — which prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race.

That, in practice, would severely limit the scope of the protections of Section 2. On paper, those protections are themselves unchanged by the ruling. But for decades, private parties — including civil rights groups, individual voters and political parties — have brought Section 2 challenges on everything from redistricting to voter ID requirements.

The court’s reasons for this make absolutely no sense to me. But this is exactly the kind of thing courts used to do back in the 1930s to effectively nullify any legal language about equal protection and nondiscrimination. And yeah, the judge who wrote the decision was a Trump appointee.

Adam Serwer wrote at The Atlantic,

The Constitution is supposed to forbid such discrimination, but that sounds simpler than it is. In practice, if you have enough judges or justices willing to find unconstitutional the laws adopted to enforce that right, or willing to rule in such a way that nullifies the ability of those laws to function, you can simply render the Fifteenth Amendment useless. This is what the Supreme Court did after Reconstruction, when Black people were still trying to assert their right to vote and the justices decided it was a right they could not or would not defend.

And that judicial nullification was still going on when Hitler’s lawyers came here to study our legal system.

The majority’s reasoning is simple, if absurd. Although acknowledging that “Congress had ‘clearly intended’ all along to allow private enforcement,” it argues that the text does not say so explicitly, therefore Congress’s intentions, Supreme Court precedent, and decades of practice are irrelevant. The fact that this would allow lawmakers to discriminate against their Black constituents without interference from pesky civil-rights groups is an innocent coincidence. This interpretation of the law was teed up for the judges by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas in another 2021 voting-rights case in which the conservative-dominated high court weakened prohibitions against voting discrimination.

This decision will probably go to SCOTUS for review, I understand, but fat lot of good that is likely to do.

At Election Law Blog:

The majority reaches its decision with a wooden, textualist analysis. It reaches it decision despite recognizing that the Supreme Court and lower courts have for decades allowed such cases to be brought, assuming that Congress intended to allow such suits. And the majority acknowledges that the legislative history of the passage of Section 2 leaves no doubt: Congress intended to allow private plaintiffs to bring suit.

So, yes, this is an outrage.

Elon Is Upset and Other News Bits

After Elon Musk’s stupid endorsement of a blatantly antisemitic “x,” or whatever tweets are called these days, big name advertisers are fleeing the social media platform. Now Musk says he will file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters for America first thing tomorrow.

Hitting back on Saturday at the exodus of advertisers on the platform, Mr Musk wrote a post in which he said: “Many of the largest advertisers are the greatest oppressors of your right to free speech.”

The Tesla founder added in a second post: “The split second court opens on Monday, X Corp will be filing a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and all those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company.”

Musk blames Media Matters because it said X is placing ads for Amazon, NBA Mexico, NBCUniversal, and others next to content with white nationalist hashtags. Media Matters has screen captures.

President Biden has an op ed in the Washington Post explaining his position on Ukraine and Israel. “The U.S. won’t back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas,” he said. In brief, he says Gaza and the West Bank should be “reunited” under Palestinian authority and calls for a two-state solution.

It also appears the U.S. has brokered a deal to pause the war and free the hostages.

See also Biden Skillfully Handled Xi Jinping’s U.S. Visit in Ways Trump Simply Never Could. “The president was gracious but tough, candid but thoughtful, and unlike his predecessor, did not sell out the country to a dictator.”

If you can somehow get through The Atlantic paywall, I recommend “The Women Who Saw 9/11 Coming” by Liza Mundy. It turns out some CIA and other analysts, working together, had been tracking the rise of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden going back to the late 1980s. And all through the 1990s they were trying to get their superiors to pay attention and take the growing threat seriously. The problem is that these analysts were all women, so the good old boys just patted them on the head and asked them to fetch coffee. And I absolutely do believe this happened. (Note: If you can’t get through the paywall even in an incognito window, download the article from this link.)

Today’s News Bits

The MAL documents case is going nowhere, and at a snail’s pace at that. It’s too obvious that Loose Cannon is deliberately trying to do Trump favors. And the bobbleheads on MSNBC last night said that the screwups that will certainly throw Cannon’s trial schedule way out of wack could very well impact the other Trump trials scheduled for 2024. But so far what Cannon is doing isn’t quite blatant enough to force her to recuse herself. Here’s a rundown.

Yesterday was Let’s Laugh at George Santos Day. The Ethics Committee Report came out, and it’s a doozy. He used campaign funds to shop in luxury stores and get Botox treatments. He made a $4,127.80 purchase at Hermes, for example. And he lied to everybody about where money was coming from and where it was going. There’s always been a level of exceptable graft in Washington; as long as it’s subtle and doesn’t leave a paper trail. But Santos was off the charts. Even his campaign staff told him he needed psychiatric help.

“House Ethics Chairman Michael Guest, a Mississippi Republican, introduced a resolution Friday to expel GOP Rep. George Santos of New York from Congress,” it says here. But they won’t be voting on it until they get back from Thanksgiving break. Santos has announced he won’t be running for re-election. Well, no, I’m sure he won’t. And he won’t qualify for any congressional pension.

Is Trump Getting Crazier? This is a question from James D. Zirin at Washington Monthly. In recent speeches Trump has confused Joe Biden with Barack Obama, called Viktor Orban the President of Turkey, and mis-stated what city he was in at the time. He also appears to be having a harder time with basic words,

But it’s not just misidentification. It’s the cadence and slurring of speech, too. Trump is having trouble with names. “On purpose” came out as “on perfect.” Adherents of Karl Marx came out as “markers,” not Marxists. He warned that Biden is drifting us into World War II.

He’s been doing stuff like that all along, though. Remember “covfefe” and the time George Washington’s Continental Army took over the airports? Trump’s head was never screwed on all the way. If his mental bumbling seems to be getting more frequent, it might be dementia, or it might be the stress of impending criminal charges. Or maybe all that hydroxychloroquine he said he was taking scrambled his brain.

Tom Nichols writes at The Atlantic that he’s been reluctant to call Trump a fascist.

Fascism is not mere oppression. It is a more holistic ideology that elevates the state over the individual (except for a sole leader, around whom there is a cult of personality), glorifies hypernationalism and racism, worships military power, hates liberal democracy, and wallows in nostalgia and historical grievances. It asserts that all public activity should serve the regime, and that all power must be gathered in the fist of the leader and exercised only by his party.

I argued that for most of Trump’s time as a public figure, he was not a fascist but rather a wannabe caudillo, the kind of Latin American strongman who cared little about what people believed so long as they feared him and left him in power. When he would make forays into the public square, his politics were insubstantial and mostly focused on exploiting reflexive resentment and racism, such as when he called for the death penalty for the Black youths wrongly accused in the infamous Central Park–jogger case. But Trump in those days was never able to square his desperate wish to be accepted in Manhattan society with his need to play the role of an outer-borough tough guy. He was an obnoxious and racist gadfly, perhaps, but he was still a long way from fascism.

As a candidate and as president, he had little in the way of a political program for the GOP beyond his exhausting narcissism. He had only two consistent issues: hatred of immigrants and love for foreign autocrats. Even now, his rants contain little political substance; when he veers off into actual issues, such as abortion and taxes, he does not seem to understand or care about them very much, and he will turn on a dime when he thinks it is to his advantage.

Trump had long wanted to be somebody in politics, but he is also rather indolent—again, not a characteristic of previous fascists—and he did not necessarily want to be saddled with any actual responsibilities. According to somereports, he never expected to win in 2016. But even then, in the run-up to the election, Trump’s opponents were already calling hima fascist. I counseled against such usage at the time, because Trump, as a person and as a public figure, is just so obviously ridiculous; fascists, by contrast, are dangerously serious people, and in many circumstances, their leaders have been unnervingly tough and courageous. Trump—whiny, childish, unmanly—hardly fits that bill. (A rare benefit of his disordered character is that his defensiveness and pettiness likely continue to limit the size of his personality cult.)

But now, Nichol says, his moment as a fascist has arrived. His recent rhetoric and stated plans for his second term put him squarely in the fascist camp. The problem is that so many people have been calling him a fascist all along that it’s not registering now.

Republicans Don’t Do Persuasion Any More

Yesterday the House passed a weird CR that kicks the can down the road a bit, past the holiday season at least. I am optimistic the Senate will pass it also, but you never know. Mike Johnson had to resort to the same tactic that got Kevin McCarthy axed as Speaker, which was to leave spending levels alone and get the thing passed with Democratic votes. Because there was no other choice.

The Freedom Clown caucus is furious as well as utterly obvlivious to the public outrage that would have fallen on their heads were the government to shut down right before the holiday travel season. Word is that the clowns are not planning to oust Johnson — yet — but they are thinking of gumming up the works in other ways to get revenge.

One tactic under discussion is the same one they used against McCarthy after he struck a debt deal they hated: holding the House floor hostage by tanking procedural votes.

“There is a sentiment that if we can’t fight anything, then let’s just hold up everything,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), one of several frustrated Freedom Caucus members who has huddled with the speaker multiple times this week.

If this were a ball game, they aren’t exactly taking the ball and going home. It’s more like they plan to just sit in the outfield and refuse to play.

And then yesterday was brawl day at the Capitol. Chris Hayes has highlights. The best part was when Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) tried to pick a brawl with Teamsters President Sean O’Brien and Bernie Sanders had to tell him to sit down.

Someone yesterday — it may have been Chris Hayes — commented that Republicans have given up on persuasion. They know only how to try to get their way by bullying, temper tantrums, and resorts to violence. For example, Marjorie Taylor Greene has been campaigning to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas because she doesn’t like his policy decisions. Which, of course, is not what impeachment is for. It somehow doesn’t occur to her that the House could, in theory, draft laws directing the Administration to handle border security differently. Indeed, as I understand it the past several administrations have more or less been winging it on the border in the absence of clear direction from Congress. And, frankly, if you were to sit MTG down and ask her to write the border policy she wants into a bill, I doubt she could do it, because she’s a moron. What she’s doing really is grandstanding for the cameras.

But it occurred to me also that the clowns can’t do persuation because their policy preferences are not based on facts or reason. For example, cutting the IRS budget is a top priority with them. One assumes they have wealthy benefactors who are pushing for this. Otherwise, it makes absolutely no sense. The Congressional Budget Office keeps trying to tell them that cutting the IRS budget would lead to a big loss in federal revenue and a net increasse in the budget deficit, but the clowns are not listening. Or they don’t care, because their reasons for cutting the IRS budget have nothing to do with saving money. Which is why those reasons must remain unspoken, I assume.

The clowns want draconian cuts in safety net programs. If you ask why, they will tell you something about forcing people to be more self-reliant and not depend on government. But that’s the excuse, not the reason, since they can’t demonstrate that cutting those programs would cause the steady jobs and affordable housing that weren’t available before to magically appear. The reason is that they want to punish the poor for being poor, especially the nonwhite poor. Why that is so must have something to do with ugliness deep in their own ids. It’s not something that can be expressed to make it sound benevolent.

And if there really aren’t fact-based, compelling reasons for your position, how can you possibly persuade others who don’t share your biases to agree with you? What else can the clowns do but bully, throw tantrums, and threaten violence?

The problem for House Republicans is that they have a majority in name only. They are fractured against each other, the Freedom Caucus versus most of the rest of them.

In other news: I am having a hard time keeping up with the gag orders and which ones are supposedly active versus on hold pending appeal. See Donald Trump’s Comments Could Land Him in Jail: Ex-White House Lawyer and Jack Smith Cites Medieval Murder as He Seeks Donald Trump Gag Order, both at Newsweek.

In more other news: See Senate Dems take major step towards ending Tuberville’s military holds at Politico. Unfortunately there is little the Dems can do unless nine Republicans are willing to vote with them.

Update: This just happened — Trump’s lawyers filed a motion for mistrial in the New York fraud case.

The motion for a mistrial centers on his increasing annoyance with Allison Greenfield, an attorney who serves as the judge’s right hand legal adviser—and one who has repeatedly shut down the billionaire’s attempts to stymie the New York Attorney General’s investigation and delay tactics in court. Now that Engoron has issued gag orders preventing Trump from directly attacking her and court staff—a restriction that he has since expanded to include Trump’s legal team from also engaging in ferocious personal insults against her—defense lawyers are now crying foul.

“This appearance of bias threatens both Defendants’ rights and the integrity of the judiciary as an institution,” they wrote in court papers, claiming that “Greenfield’s unprecedented role in the trial and extensive, public partisan activities, would cause even a casual observer to question the court’s partiality. Thus, only the grant of a mistrial can salvage what is left of the rule of law.”

The request is, of course, up to Engoron himself—who isn’t likely to side with the very attorneys who have spent weeks trying to gin up drama in court in an attempt to relitigate the entire affair on appeal in New York state’s higher courts.

Trump must be terrified out of his wits that he’s going to lose his New York properties.

Update: RIP Zandar.

Let’s Not Let Nazis Be “Normal”

The House seems even more dysfunctional under the new speaker as it was under the last one. And we’re staring at another possible government shutdown, just before Thanksgiving. Forbes is running handy travel tips in case all the TSA employees required to work without pay suddenly get the flu.

Let’s talk about “normalization.” Somewhat belatedly, Trump’s Veteran’s Day “truth” post is getting some scrutiny.

The first I heard of this was yesterday. Michael Tomasky in The New Republic, It’s Official: With “Vermin,” Trump Is Now Using Straight-up Nazi Talk. And there’s more.

Then, at a rally in New Hampshire later that day, he repeated those words essentially verbatim—promising to “root out … the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country”—and doubled down on it: “The real threat is not from the radical right; the real threat is from the radical left, and it’s growing every day, every single day. The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within. Our threat is from within.”

Of course, those last two sentences are true, since Trump himself is the greatest threat to this country right now. Tomasky continues,

But dear God. Can’t we get people to think about fascism, and what Trump would do to this country? Trump invoked “vermin” on the very day that The New York Timesbroke yet another harrowing story about his second-term plans, this time having to do with immigration. “He plans,” the Times reported, “to scour the country for unauthorized immigrants and deport people by the millions per year.” And he wants to build huge—yes—detention camps. There’s much more. And all of this, by the way, appears to have been fed to the paper by his own people, who are obviously proud of it. They want America to know. And just before this, remember, Trump told Univision that he would use the Justice Department and the FBI to go after his political enemies.

Digby reports that the mainstream media buried these remarks.

As far as I can tell, only Kristen Welker on on Meet the Press mentioned it in passing to Ronna McDaniel and the only two mainstream newspapers to headline it are the NY Times (who only discussed it in the story, not in the headline above), in a small article and Forbes.

Also, she said, CNN covered the New Hampshire speech and buried the “Nazi” talk way down in the story.

Finally, late in the day yesterday, the Washington Post ran this headline: Trump calls political enemies ‘vermin,’ echoing dictators Hitler, Mussolini. But even then in the online edition you had to scroll way down to find it. And I understand it was not on the front page of the paper edition.

The WaPo story, by Marianne LeVine, quoted some reactions to Trump’s words.

“The language is the language that dictators use to instill fear,” said Timothy Naftali, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. “When you dehumanize an opponent, you strip them of their constitutional rights to participate securely in a democracy because you’re saying they’re not human. That’s what dictators do.”

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian at New York University, said in an email to The Washington Post that “calling people ‘vermin’ was used effectively by Hitler and Mussolini to dehumanize people and encourage their followers to engage in violence.”

“Trump is also using projection: note that he mentions all kinds of authoritarians ‘communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left’ to set himself up as the deliverer of freedom,” Ben-Ghiat said. “Mussolini promised freedom to his people too and then declared dictatorship.”

Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesman, told The Post “those who try to make that ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome and their entire existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House.”

Wow, Steven Cheung, thanks for clearing that up.

At Press Watch, Dan Froomkin wonders if this could be a turning point in Trump coverage.

Saturday night was a low point in the elite media’s coverage of Donald Trump.

The New York Times put a light-hearted headline on a news article about Trump’s Veterans Day address in New Hampshire, in which he vowed to “root out” what he called “the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

Trump Takes Veterans Day Speech in a Very Different Direction” was the initial headline over the story by Michael Gold.

Gold acknowledged in his second paragraph that Trump’s language was “incendiary and dehumanizing.” But that, of course, should have been the lede – and should have been in the headline.

The Times soon changed its headline to “In Veterans Day Speech, Trump Promises to ‘Root Out’ the Left,” but that wasn’t much better.

A social-media furor quickly erupted. (Twitter, the platform now called X by some, is still good for something.)

Meanwhile, the Washington Post made no mention of the speech at all.

Until Sunday night, that is.

Sunday night WaPo ran the Marianne LeVine story. I wasn’t watching, but I understand that Joe Scarborough did a segment on the Nazi talk.

And today, Aaron Blake published How Trump’s rhetoric compares with Hitler’s. No paywall.

In other news: ABC News got its hands on proffer sessions of the people working out plea deals in the Georgia election interference RICO case. Jenna Ellis said that Dan Scavino told her “the Boss” would not leave the White House even though he had lost.

A lot of juicy stuff is coming out of Jonathan Karls new book. This tidbit is several paragraphs down in the story:

As Trump’s presidency was winding down, he sent top aide Johnny McEntee to warn Pentagon leaders that Trump was irate because Army Chief of Staff James McConville and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy had publicly insisted the military would play no role in the transition of power or determining the outcome of the 2020 election. But Trump, who had been huddling with advisers urging him to consider deploying the military to seize voting machines, was displeased, Karl reports.

McEntee relayed Trump’s concerns to acting defense secretary Chris Miller and took some notes on the conversation to pass back to the West Wing.

“Chris Miller spoke to both of them and anticipates no more statements coming out,” read McEntee’s note, which was included in a massive batch of documents posted publicly by the select committee. “If another happens, he will fire them.”

Trump, according to Karl, tore up the note after reading it. And the version obtained by the select committee was clearly reconstructed from several torn pieces by aides who delivered the repaired missive to the National Archives.

No more “normalizing” this monster.

Out of Touch Politicians Are Not Getting the Clues

So yesterday Joe Manchin announced he would not run for another Senate term (yay), but then he dropped big hints he might to open to other things

“After months of deliberation and long conversations with my family, I believe in my heart of hearts that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia. I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate, but what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.”

This immediately fueled speculation that Manchin might be angling for a nod from No Labels to run for POTUS. If Manchin seriously thinks there’s some groundswell of “moderate” voters out there just looking for a right-leaning, anti-progressive Democrat to vote for, he’s likely to be disappointed. In truth, the word “moderate” means absolutelly nothing in the U.S. political climate. But of course No Labels is hardly a group that cares about ordinary Americans.

I’m sure No Labels prayerfully hopes there are substantial numbers of voters who are lost somewhere between the GOP’s culture wars and MAGAism and the Democrats’ increasingly progressive direction, which would have been a lot more progressive had rats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema not been gumming up the works. But I don’t think there are. The closest they might get are with low-information voters who are not Fox News viewers and whatever Hillary Clinton die-hards are still breathing. And frankly I don’t think there is any voter support for Joe Manchin, anywhere.

Democrats are rightfully concerned that Manchin’s retirement from the Senate could cost them a Senate majority. But there were a lot of warning signs out there that Manchin was likely to lose next year, anyway. At the Bulwark, Jonathan Last argues that the Dems will be hurting without Manchin, and that if they want to win more elections they need to make their tent bigger to allow for more Manchin-esque type candidates. Do I ever disagree. I think the third-way style Democrats that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s — and I include the Clintons —  did huge damage to the Democratic brand. The young folks especially refused to believe there was any real difference between the parties, until possibly very recently, and that was mostly because of abortion. Democrats will benefit from a consistent policy message and then delivering on that message whenever possible. If the young folks would turn out to vote in big numbers because they trust Democrats to deliver on issues they care about, it would be genuinely revolutionary.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party seems determined to promote the most extreme MAGA candidates it can find, even though voters keep signalling they want something else. Aaron Blake writes that they just can’t get the clue that voters are looking for “mormal.”

While Gov. Andy Beshear (D) steered his way to a relatively easy victory Tuesday, Kentucky Republicans swept every other statewide race. And no candidate took more votes than Secretary of State Michael Adams (R).

Adams is merely the latest candidateto show his party how successful it can be when it doesn’t marginalize itself with such things as election denialism — and even fights back against it.

Adams flat-out denied the Big Lie, period. He actually discussed expanding voter access. He was endorsed by some Right to Life groups but I take it he didn’t campaign on banning abortion.

Adams wound up taking 61 percent and nearly 785,000 votes, according to the most recent results, compared with GOP gubernatorial nominee Daniel Cameron’s 47 percent and 627,000. Adams’s vote total also outpaced four other statewide GOP candidates.

At the New York Times, Jamelle Bouie writes that The G.O.P’s Culture War Shtick Is Wearing Thin With Voters.

To be fair to Republican strategists, there was a moment, in the fall of 2021, when it looked like the plan was working. Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for governor in Virginia, ran on a campaign of “parents’ rights” against “critical race theory” and won a narrow victory against Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic governor, sweeping Republicans into power statewide for the first time since 2009. Youngkin shot to national prominence and Republicans made immediate plans to take the strategy to every competitive race in the country.

In 2022, with “parental rights” as their rallying cry, Republican lawmakers unleashed a barrage of legislation targeting transgender rights, and Republican candidates ran explicit campaigns against transgender and other gender nonconforming people. “They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the drag queens,” said Kari Lake, an Arizona Republican, during her 2022 campaign for governor. “They took down our flag and replaced it with a rainbow.”

And, of course, Lake lost, as did a lot of other MAGA candidates. But this year the GOP doubled down.

Undaunted, Republicans stepped back up to the plate and took another swing at transgender rights. Attorney General Daniel Cameron of Kentucky, the Republican nominee for governor of that state, and his allies spent millions on anti-transgender right ads in his race against the Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear. In one television ad, a narrator warns viewers of a “radical transgender agenda” that’s “bombarding our children everywhere we turn.” Beshear won re-election. 

The thing is, right-wing politicians have been using scare tactics to win elections going back to Joe McCarthy, if not earlier. They painted the opposition as pro-Communist pro-desegregation pro-racial justice pro-welfare pro-affirmative action pro-Women’s Rights Amendment etc etc etc. And on the whole it’s worked pretty well for them over the years. It’s also pretty much all Republicans know how to do these days. The current crop in the House can’t seem to organize themselves to pass bills or do much of anything except inept “investigations” of Hunter Biden and his legendary laptop.

I’m sure there are still a lot of voters who fall for the scare tactics. But now they aren’t working the way they used to. Perhaps there are more voters now who grew up on the Internet, and they are more sophisticated message consumers. Or something. And certainly what was said at the Republican candidate “debate” Wednesdy night didn’t reveal that anyone was ready to take a new direction.

So Joe Manchin and the No Labels crew are out of touch, and Republicans are out of touch. I’m not going to give Democrats a complete pass. This Huffington Post article says Democrats in Washington have been slammed by constituent phone calls demanding a cease fire in Gaza, and this has thrown them off guard. I disagree somewhat with the author of the article,

Abortion Rights Are Undefeated

With 95 percent of the votes counted, the “yes” votes on the Ohio abortion rights referendum are ahead 56.6 percent to 43.4 percent. So it wasn’t at all close. And this was in spite of Republicans pullling every scam they could think of to trick voters into voting “no.” The numbers for the referendum to legalize marijuana are nearly identical, btw. I wonder if having both measures on the same ballot helped both measures pass by pulling young folks to the polls.

And Virginia voters gave Gov. Glenn Youngkin a big ol’ noogie by turning control of both houses of the state legislature to Democrats. Perhaps talk of drafting Youngkin to run for president was a tad premature. See Glenn Youngkin handed presidential buzzkill at Axios and Virginia Democrats’ wins thwart Youngkin on abortion, taxes, climate at WaPo.

Democrats flipped the Virginia House of Delegates and held on to the state Senate in elections Tuesday, dashing Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s hopes for curbing abortion rights in Virginia, the only Southern state that has not restricted or banned the procedure since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

By giving control of those two chambers to Democrats, voters denied Youngkin (R) the political allies he needed to ban most abortions after 15 weeks. The governor also lost his chance for turning Virginia sharply to the right in other areas, including public education, tax policy, LGBTQ+ rights, criminal justice, the environment and voting access.

Youngkin’s popularity numbers in Virginia are not exactly impressive (ignore the headline). I think perhaps he’s further to the Right than Virginia voters thought he would be. He can’t run for re-election because Virginia doesn’t allow governors to serve consecutive terms, but if he could I wonder if he’d win.

But the important point for now is that Youngkin ran the GOP’s so-called “moderate” position on abortion, a ban at 15 weeks’ gestation, up the flagpole. And voters shot it down. Will Republicans get the memo? I’m betting a lot of them won’t.

See Philip Bump, Abortion Access Remains Undefeated in the Polls Post-Roe.

Ohio became the seventh state to vote to protect access to abortion in a statewide initiative since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court last year. Four of those initiatives were on the ballot in states that Joe Biden lost in the 2020 election; in all seven, the abortion-access position outperformed Biden’s support in the state.

I don’t know how much clearer it could be. But watch Republicans continue to push for abortion bans.

Update: This is from Politico regarding the Ohio abortion referendum votes —

The unofficial results also suggest that the counties with the highest turnout in Tuesday’s election were actually jurisdictions that had favored Trump in 2020. The victory for Yes on Issue 1 was not driven by remarkable Democratic turnout — but by a significant share of voters in Republican-leaning counties casting their ballots for abortion rights.

And this is about Virginia —

The wins are a rebuke to Youngkin’s efforts to consolidate power in the state by removing a Democratic roadblock to his agenda, on everything from taxes to abortion. Youngkin, unusually, launched a strategy to have Republicans run on abortion in these elections. Youngkin pushed candidates to coalesce around a 15 week ban in the state, trying to cast Democrats as extremists on the issue and Republicans as the party with the reasonable position.

Update: More good news — Moms for Liberty Candidates Take a Beating in Some School Races.