Pro-Trump Candidates Look To Replace Squishy GOP Senate Retirees In 2022 Midterms

A much deeper shade of red could be on the horizon for Republicans in the Senate, as moderate GOP Senators in five states are retiring, and many of the candidates vying to replace them are not afraid to run on a Trumpian “Make America Great Again” platform.

Of the Senators retiring in those five states, it’s hard to imagine that anyone who replaces them would be more moderate – instead, candidates are looking to bring with them a much more conservative approach to the Senate, an approach that may spill over into the House.

RELATED: Pentagon ‘Concerned’ About Americans Left In Afghanistan But Doesn’t Foresee Military Saving Them

Some Key Races

In North Carolina and Pennsylvania, retiring Senators Richard Burr and Pat Toomey both voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, a vote that got them in hot water with their respective state parties.

Mark Walker, running in North Carolina, declared, “Wrong vote, Sen. Burr. I am running to replace Richard Burr because North Carolina needs a true conservative champion as their next senator.”

Ted Budd – who has been endorsed by Donald Trump, also lambasted Burr’s vote.

But it is not just voters wanting Trump back.

In Ohio, outgoing Senator Rob Portman was one of the architects of the trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure deal. Of ten Republicans running or considering a run, six of those candidates do not support the infrastructure bill.

Populist firebrand and author J.D. Vance, running for Portman’s seat said, “Republicans are bending over backwards to get this deal. Really, it’s just a partisan hatchet job.”

RELATED: When Reporters Ask About Abandoned Americans, Secretary Of State Blinken Turns Back And Walks Away

The Changing Face Of The Republican Party

Whether you love or hate Donald Trump, one thing is certain, he has changed the face of the Republican Party and who it appeals to. It is a sentiment echoed by North Carolina GOP Chair Michael Whatley, who says,

“Trump has reshaped the Republican Party. We’re now a blue-collar party. We’re an America first party. It’s a different party than it was when [retiring Missouri Sen.] Roy Blunt and Richard Burr first got elected. And I don’t think the party is going back. It’s tough on China, protect the border, fight for the Second Amendment, fight for life. That has been an enormously popular agenda with the base.”

But the new face of the party isn’t going to change without the old face putting up a fight.

And because Republicans have zero room for mistakes if they want to win back the Senate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said that he is more than willing to intervene in GOP primaries where he sees “electability” issues. 

Meaning, McConnell and the GOP establishment will do what it takes to keep outsiders… out.

There will be no other place where “electability issues” are more on display than in Missouri. 

Among the candidates vying for Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat is former Gov. Eric Greitens.

Greitens was elected in 2016, but resigned due to a sex scandal in 2018. His candidacy has Missouri GOP officials nervous. Greitens ran for Governor as an “outsider,” and says he has no plans to follow in the establishment footsteps of Roy Blunt.

RELATED: Pentagon’s John Kirby Claims U.S. Military Equipment In Viral Video Is ‘Unusable’

Afghanistan Changes Everything

In less than a year, Americans have put up with higher gas prices, food prices, COVID, and a wide open southern border courtesy of the Biden administration.

But aside from all the analysis and pundit predictions, the one giant horrendous game changer could be Afghanistan. The incompetence and ineptness of the Biden administration has also been on full display with no sign it will get better anytime soon.

While traditionally it is domestic issues that are front and center during midterm elections, and there are plenty of those to go around, there are exceptions. Vietnam in 1968, Iran in 1980, and Middle East terrorism in 2004. 

Democrats may count on Americans having short memories, but Republicans know that is what political ads are for. And in this case, even some Democrats want a full investigation into how this went so horribly wrong.

But former Pennsylvania State GOP Chair Rob Gleason says don’t count Donald Trump and his supporters out anytime soon.

“Primaries have low turnout but you can count on the Trump people because they’re still coming to rallies, they still fly Trump flags, they still wave Trump signs. In all of these states we’re talking about, Trump supporters are still really active and because of all the problems with this presidency now, they don’t just feel more energized. They feel vindicated.”

This may be a good sign for all of those deep red candidates. 

 

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90 Retired Generals And Admirals Call For Resignations Of Defense Sec. Austin And Gen. Milley Over Afghanistan Disaster

In a powerful display of unity of thought Monday, roughly 90 retired generals and admirals signed on to a letter calling for the resignations of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley over the disastrous withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The retired officers contend that it was their job to either convince Biden to do the right thing, or having failed to do so, resign.

RELATED: Biden Left Hundreds Of Americans Behind In Afghanistan

No Holds Barred

The retired flag officers did not hold back in their scathing letter calling for Austin and Milley to step down. 

“If they did not do everything within their authority to stop the hasty withdrawal, they should resign. Conversely, if they did do everything within their ability to persuade the [president] to not hastily exit the country without ensuring the safety of our citizens and Afghans loyal to America, then they should have resigned in protest as a matter of conscience and public statement.”

The letter continued, the tone at one point sounding as though there needed to be a reminder of one of the basic functions of the military, to hold those in charge accountable for their actions, or the lack of them.

“A fundamental principle in the military is holding those in charge responsible and accountable for their actions or inactions. There must be accountability at all levels for this tragic and avoidable debacle.”

RELATED: Pentagon Reportedly Knew Terror Attack Was Planned Hours Before Kabul Bombing

The Long-Term Effects On America

The retired flag officers also referred to long-term effects the chaotic exit by the United States from Afghanistan will have, not just on the credibility and reputation of the U.S. itself, but as events unfold in the region well into the future.

“The consequences of this disaster are enormous and will reverberate for decades beginning with the safety of Americans and Afghans who are unable to move safely to evacuation points; therefore, being de facto hostages of the Taliban at this time.”

The officers also addressed America’s standing with our allies going forward: “The damage to the reputation of the United States is indescribable. We are now seen, and will be seen for many years, as an unreliable partner in any multinational agreement or operation.”

It seems some of those latter results are already rolling in.

Some of the most stinging remarks have come from Great Britain. German officials have expressed anger that the U.S. did not consult with coalition partners.

RELATED: Grieving Military Widow Says Biden Meeting Felt ‘Scripted’ And ‘Shallow’

Calls For Impeachment And Resignation Have Already Begun

The calls for, as the retired generals and admirals have said, “accountability,” are growing.

On Friday, following the horrific suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 13 American servicemen, Reps. Ralph Norman (R-SC) and Andy Harris (R-MD) filed articles of impeachment against Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The articles cite Blinken’s “failure in leadership over the Afghanistan situation.”

The Articles of Impeachment continue, “Secretary Blinken has failed to faithfully uphold his oath and has instead presided over a reckless abandonment of our nation’s interests, security, and values in his role in the withdrawal of American forces and diplomatic assets from Afghanistan.”

Outspoken Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene also wasted no time in filing articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden for his inept and incompetent handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Greene announced her filing of articles of impeachment last week during an appearance on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s podcast. Greene seemed to voice the anger and frustration of millions of Americans when she stated, “I have my team right now working on articles of impeachment. Because I’m so disgusted with Joe Biden. You know I’ve already filed one set of articles of impeachment. But his failure as a president is unspeakable.”

 

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When Reporters Ask About Abandoned Americans, Secretary Of State Blinken Turns Back And Walks Away

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s press briefing on Afghanistan on Monday ended with him turning his back and walking away when reporters began asking about the hundreds of American citizens that have been left behind in Afghanistan.

Blinken had given a nearly 20 minute speech about the status of the withdrawal.

As he left, a reporter said, “Did this administration break its word that no American would be left behind?”

Blinken didn’t answer any questions, instead he left the room.

Blinken: ‘We Will Hold The Taliban To Its Pledge To Let People Freely Depart Afghanistan’

During his speech, Blinken said that the Biden administration would “lead with our diplomacy” and work with the Taliban to get Americans still in the country home. 

“We will continue our relentless efforts to help Americans, foreign nationals and Afghans leave Afghanistan if they choose. Our commitment to them holds no deadline.”

The Secretary of State said, “We will hold the Taliban to its pledge to let people freely depart Afghanistan.”

RELATED: Report: American University Students In Afghanistan ‘Terrified’ After Having A List Of Their Names Given To Taliban

“The Taliban is committed to let anyone with proper documents leave the country in a safe and orderly manner,” Blinken said. “They said this privately and publicly many times.”

“On Friday, a senior Taliban official said it again on television and radio,” he added. “And I quote, ‘any Afghans may leave the country, including those who work for Americans if they want and for whatever reason there may be.’”

“Here, too, we will hold them accountable to that commitment,” he added. “But while we have expectations of the Taliban, that doesn’t mean we will rely on the Taliban.”

RELATED: Lara Trump Torches Kamala Harris Over Afghanistan – ‘We Will Not Forget About This’

Americans Left Behind

The Political Insider reported that although “President Joe Biden originally promised that the U.S. would ‘stay’ in Afghanistan until every American was evacuated,” many still remain in the country.

“On Monday, Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. announced that the last of the U.S. troops stationed at the Kabul airport had left,” The Political Insider noted. “And hundreds of Americans were left behind.”

For what many consider a dereliction of duty, House Republicans filed articles of impeachment against Blinken on Thursday.

The Articles read, “Secretary Blinken has failed to faithfully uphold his oath and has instead presided over a reckless abandonment of our nation’s interests, security, and values in his role in the withdrawal of American forces and diplomatic assets from Afghanistan.”

 

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Trump disciples out to revolutionize Mitch McConnell’s Senate

If Senate Republicans seem conservative now, just wait until next year. The 2022 midterms could usher in a wave of full-spectrum MAGA supporters who would turn the GOP conference an even deeper shade of red — and make the Senate a lot more like the fractious House.

In the five states where Republican senators are retiring, the primary election fields to succeed them are crowded with Donald Trump supporters who have made loyalty to the former president a cornerstone of their campaigns.

The three top candidates to succeed Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina have all denounced his vote to convict Trump in his last impeachment trial. In Pennsylvania, the four leading candidates to succeed Sen. Pat Toomey — who, like Burr, was formally rebuked by the state party for his impeachment vote — have embraced Trump’s calls for an “audit” of the state’s presidential election results, to varying degrees.

The absolute fealty to Trump is only part of the change this class of candidates would herald. There are institutional implications for the Senate as well. The bipartisan infrastructure deal Ohio’s Sen. Rob Portman helped broker? Six of the top GOP candidates vying to replace him have rejected it.

At least five current House members have announced they are running for the open Senate seats, nearly all of whom are more hard-line conservative than the senators they’d replace.

Most of the newcomers would accelerate the GOP’s transition from tea party to Trump party, complicating the job of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who broke with Trump after the Jan. 6 riots that led to the president’s second impeachment.

“Trump has reshaped the Republican Party. We’re now a blue-collar party. We're an America first party,” said Michael Whatley, the chair of the North Carolina GOP. “It’s a different party than it was when [retiring Missouri Sen.] Roy Blunt and Richard Burr first got elected. And I don't think the party is going back. It’s tough on China, protect the border, fight for the Second Amendment, fight for life. That has been an enormously popular agenda with the base.”

McConnell has already indicated his willingness to intervene in GOP primary battles — even against Trump-backed candidates — if he perceives there are electability issues that might endanger the party’s chances of winning the seat. It’s an acknowledgment of a Senate landscape where Republicans have little room for error in their bid to win back the majority in the evenly divided chamber.

Already that dynamic is leading to tensions in Missouri, where GOP officials worry the candidacy of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens — who resigned office amid a 2018 sex scandal — will jeopardize the party’s chances of holding Blunt’s seat.

Greitens, the Republican primary frontrunner, made it clear in a March radio interview that he has no intention of following in the footsteps of Blunt, a deal-maker and close McConnell ally.

“Unfortunately, Roy Blunt has been out siding with Mitch McConnell,” the former governor said. “He’s been criticizing the president of the United States over what happened on Jan. 6. He’s been criticizing the president of the United States for not coming to Joe Biden's inauguration, where obviously, everyone in Missouri, saw Roy Blunt there.”

All of the Republicans seeking the Missouri Senate seat are different in style and tone from Blunt, said Republican former state Sen. John Lamping.

“Roy is a super-super insider and that’s not what the base wants,” Lamping said. “No one is running to be a Roy Blunt senator. They’re running to be a Donald Trump senator. If somebody becomes a serious threat, they’ll be accused by their opponents of being more like Roy Blunt.”

The change in the composition of the GOP conference might be even greater than expected. Beyond the five senators who have announced their retirements, questions are swirling about the plans of three additional Republicans in the chamber — South Dakota’s John Thune, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Iowa’s Chuck Grassley — who have not formally announced their candidacies and could be replaced by more Trump-aligned candidates. Thune and Murkowski have run afoul of Trump, who has already endorsed Republican Kelly Tshibaka against Murkowski.

Though a Trumpier Senate could cause McConnell fits, a top Republican strategist involved in Senate campaigns downplayed the risks to McConnell but acknowledged a change would come if the MAGA firebrands replace the five retiring senators.

“All of these [retiring senators] are good communicators, but their style is different. They enjoy moving legislation along behind the scenes. That’s what they’re good at and that’s why they're in the Senate,” said the strategist, who spoke freely on condition of anonymity. “Politics certainly on our side — and I think across the board — is becoming more of a very public, very vocal fight over the issues. Sometimes that can lead to results, but it's less about what’s happening behind the scenes and moving the football a yard at a time down the field and it’s more, maybe, of a Hail Mary on every snap.”

Those stylistic distinctions are glaring in Alabama, where Trump has endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks for retiring Sen. Richard Shelby’s seat. Brooks, a House Freedom Caucus member, is best known for speaking at the Jan. 6 rally in Washington that preceded the Capitol riots and urging the crowd to "start taking down names and kicking ass."

Shelby, who’s chaired both the Appropriations and Banking committees, is Alabama’s longest-serving senator. In a sign of his productive relationship with current Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Leahy released a statement upon Shelby’s retirement describing him as “a true statesman, and a man of his word.“

Trump paired his endorsement of Brooks with criticism of McConnell and Shelby, who is backing his former chief of staff, Katie Britt, in the race.

“I see that the RINO Senator from Alabama, close friend of Old Crow Mitch McConnell, Richard Shelby, is pushing hard to have his ‘assistant’ fight the great Mo Brooks for his Senate seat,” Trump said in a recent written statement that used the acronym for a “Republican in name only.”

McConnell responded by saying that being called an “Old Crow” was “quite an honor" because "Old Crow is Henry Clay's favorite bourbon."

Trump has also backed North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd, another House Freedom Caucus member who voted against certifying the presidential results and, along with fellow Senate candidate and former Rep. Mark Walker, joined a lawsuit to overturn the presidential election.

While Trump’s endorsement is a major boost in a GOP primary, it’s not always determinative. In Alabama’s 2017 special primary runoff for Senate, Trump endorsed appointed Sen. Luther Strange over former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who won the race only to lose in the general election.

Brett Doster, who worked for Moore’s campaign, said candidates like Moore have prevailed in some primaries over Trump-endorsed candidates when the GOP electorate believed in their conservative bonafides.

“What’s happened inside the Republican Party, for now, is that people are waiting around to see if Trump will be around or not, but he remains a litmus test,” Doster said.

Pennsylvania stands alone among the GOP primary contests because it’s a swing state that Trump lost in 2020 — and one that Democrats have reasonable hopes of flipping. In a sign of the ideological variation, Toomey’s vote to convict Trump has become an issue in the primary campaign — and not every prospective Republican in the race condemns him for it.

Trump’s allies have vowed to punish one potential candidate in the race who has stood by Toomey, former Rep. Ryan Costello. A one-time aide to former party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter, Craig Snyder, also joined the race as an anti-Trump Republican, though most party insiders don’t see him gaining much traction.

Some believe that Trump’s relentless efforts to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania could backfire in a general election because the electorate is “more anti-Biden than pro-Trump,” said former Pennsylvania Rep. Phil English, who acknowledged that Trump’s influence is still a powerful force in the party.

But former state GOP Chair Rob Gleason cautions against any belief that Trump’s influence has waned in primary politics. He said Biden’s recent declining poll numbers amid the deadly withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the increase of Covid cases nationwide has led to a renewed sense of energy among Trump supporters.

“Primaries have low turnout but you can count on the Trump people because they’re still coming to rallies, they still fly Trump flags, they still wave Trump signs,” Gleason said. “In all of these states we’re talking about, Trump supporters are still really active and because of all the problems with this presidency now, they don’t just feel more energized. They feel vindicated.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Report: Some Democrats Want Biden Administration Officials Fired Over Afghanistan Debacle

The Washington Post is reporting that some Democrats are privately expressing their concerns about the handling of the Afghanistan crisis and would like to see top Biden administration officials fired over the debacle.

“In private discussions, some House Democrats have raised the prospect of whether Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan — two of Biden’s most trusted aides — should lose their jobs,” the Post revealed this past weekend.

Seems like a reasonable proposition considering the botched withdrawal of US forces in Afghanistan, culminating with last week’s suicide bombing which claimed the lives of 13 American soldiers and as many as 170 civilians.

That is, until you start digging a little deeper into the article where you find the true reason they’d like to see Blinken and Sullivan fired over what transpired in Afghanistan.

RELATED: Psaki Responds To Calls For Biden’s Resignation: ‘Not A Day For Politics’

Why Do They Want Them Fired Over Afghanistan?

Remarkably, the Washington Post doesn’t try very hard to sugar coat why some Democrats want to see Blinken and Sullivan fired over Afghanistan.

It’s not for accountability or some semblance of justice for the 13 service members who unnecessarily lost their lives.

It’s the Democrat agenda they care about.

Take a listen to John Jackson, the chairman of the DeKalb County Democrats in Georgia.

He tells the Washington Post, “I just worry about his ability to achieve his agenda.”

Really? That’s his concern as 13 flag-draped coffins were sent home from the scene in Afghanistan over the weekend?

It sure seems like that’s the main concern as the Post goes on to suggest Democrats are simply hoping to “weather the storm” with the negative Afghanistan news so they can focus on ‘more important’ things. Things like infrastructure and their social agenda.

“They see positive developments on the horizon if they can weather the storm over Afghanistan,” the Post writes, “such as the prospect of signing legislation making historic investments in roads, bridges and social programs.”

RELATED: Republicans File Articles Of Impeachment Against Biden’s Secretary Of State Blinken

Nobody Held Accountable

As it stands, the only person held accountable for the tragic turn of events in Afghanistan has been Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller who was reportedly relieved of duty for daring to demand accountability from military leaders following the terror attack.

Scheller had posted a viral video demanding answers.

“I’m not making this video because it is potentially an emotional time,” he said. “I’m making it because I have a growing discontent and contempt with my perceived ineptitude at the foreign policy level. I want to specifically ask some questions to some of my senior leaders.”

On Friday, House Reps. Ralph Norman (R-SC) and Andy Harris (R-MD) introduced articles of impeachment against Blinken citing “failures in leadership over [the] Afghanistan situation.”

It’s unclear why they introduced the articles against a Cabinet Secretary rather than the Commander-in-Chief, Joe Biden.

There have been calls for President Biden himself to resign over what has transpired in Afghanistan, an idea White House press secretary Jen Psaki swatted away by saying it is “not a day for politics.”

Not a day for politics – and yet, Democrats want Blinken and Sullivan fired over Afghanistan in part because of how it reflects on their party politically.

The Post describes President Biden as having a “devastating month of his tenure in office” in August and said such crises as the resurgent pandemic and the Afghanistan mission have “sent waves of anger and worry through his party as his poll numbers decline.”

If only Democrats could get just as angry over the coffins of young American soldiers being sent home from faraway lands.

 

 

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Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Hurricane Ida closes in on Louisiana

Wishing safety to everyone in the path of Hurricane Ida as the storm closes in on the Louisiana coast. As of this writing, Ida is forecast to make landfall in Louisiana about 60 miles west of New Orleans, in the city of Houma, on Sunday.

Frida Ghitis of CNN examines some of the strategic choices that the U.S. has left when it comes to Afghanistan.

Listen to US officials speak and it's clear they are watching their words, trying to avoid antagonizing the radical jihadis for fear of jeopardizing the airlift that has carried more than 104,000 souls to safety since August 14. Secretary of State Antony Blinken gingerly sidestepped a question about the future of the US Embassy in Kabul on Wednesday, saying, "With regard to diplomatic engagement, we're looking at a series of options, and I'm sure we'll have more on that in the coming days and weeks, but we're looking at a variety of options."
But we don't all need to watch our words. Let me say unequivocally: The United States cannot recognize a Taliban-led government -- certainly not any time soon.
Judging by the conciliatory tone the Taliban spokesmen struck after the takeover, the group is interested in repairing its reputation and gaining international recognition. But words mean little, especially when there's a long track record of repugnant behavior. This is the group that sentenced women and girls to crushing restrictions that prevented them from studying, working or leaving their homes on their own. The Taliban forced women to cover their faces in public, buried them up to their necks and stoned them to death after claims of adultery. They also killed homosexuals, chopped off the hands of suspected thieves, and generally forced an entire country to live under draconian rules. Their words alone won't do.
Robin Wright of The New Yorker asserts that the strike against ISIS-K will not deter extremist groups or terrorist operations in Afghanistan.
The United States may indeed manage to kill more isis-k fighters and destroy some of their modest arsenal. But the central flaw in U.S. strategy is the belief that military force can eradicate extremist groups or radical ideologies. On Friday evening, a senior Biden Administration official acknowledged that the United States “can’t physically eliminate an ideology. What you can do is deal, hopefully effectively, with any threat that it poses.” Past Administrations have tried lethal strikes. In August, 1998, President Bill Clinton ordered Operation Infinite Reach, a series of cruise-missile attacks on Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and on a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that U.S. intelligence erroneously linked to Osama bin Laden. The strikes were in retaliation for the bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than two hundred and injured more than four thousand. That U.S. operation had limited impact. Three years later, Al Qaeda operatives carried out the 9/11 attacks, killing nearly three thousand in the deadliest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. Despite the killing of bin Laden, a decade ago, the more skilled Al Qaeda fighters were the force multipliers in the Taliban’s sweep across Afghanistan this year.
“The bottom line is that kinetic action by itself cannot significantly counter terrorist organizations,” Seth Jones, a former adviser to U.S. Special Operations forces in Afghanistan, told me. “It is very limited in what it can do. It can disrupt operationally and take people out. But tactical and operational impact is very short-term.”

Sarah A. Binder and Molly E. Reynolds of the Brookings Institution take a look at the impact of the 9/11 attacks on today’s Congress.

The 9/11 attacks reshaped the business of Congress in at least two ways.

First, the attacks have had lasting effects on congressional budgeting for defense. According to the Congressional Research Service, the federal government spent an estimated $2 trillion in emergency funding to support its response to the 9/11 attacks; Other analysts tally the costs at over $6 trillion. Legislative critics on the left and right have at times derided such emergency monies as slush funds since Congress does not account for the funding in its regular appropriations, allowing it to evade spending limits put in place in 2011. But the parties have generally been complicit in exempting such amounts from legal limits placed on other avenues of government spending. Two decades later, Congress still affords special treatment to the fiscal demands of the government’s war on terror.

[...]

For anyone who works on or visits Capitol Hill today, the changes made in the months and years immediately following the attack are readily apparent. Congress allocated funding to speed up the Capitol Visitors’ Center to serve as a security screening point for visitors to the Capitol itself; closed streets around congressional office buildings; constructed additional vehicle barriers; and made other changes to emergency procedures. By 2004, Congress had expanded the U.S. Capitol Police force (which today comprises almost 10% of the legislative branch’s budget) by roughly 27%.

These operational procedures were significant. But Congress left much bigger-picture, longer-range planning of importance undone. Despite calls for major reforms that would allow the House and Senate to continue operating and, if necessary, repopulate themselves in the event of catastrophe, Congress did little to address its own continuity.

Luisa S. Deprez of Washington Monthly asserts that conservatives have been singing the same song since the 1960s (at the very least), and Donald Trump is no exception at all.

Conservative elites can adjust their anti-government targets depending on the circumstances. Fried and Harris chronicle how Republicans’ arguments changed about how government should operate, depending on who was in control. Newt Gingrich’s rise to power was fueled by the charge that Congress had become too powerful. After Republicans won a House majority in 1994, Gingrich flipped to arguing that Congress should be the dominant power. The same way a broken clock is right twice a day, Gingrich might have stumbled into the truth since executive branch power has grown disturbingly large since World War II.

This can lead to infuriating hypocrisy. Despite Republicans’ portrayal of their complaints about “big government” as rooted in a consistent ideology, Fried and Harris show they’re situational. In the same press conference where President Reagan said “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help,’” the conservative icon also announced “record amounts of assistance” to farmers. Later in the same news conference, the Gipper rebuffed Chicago Mayor Harold Washington’s contention that cuts in the federal budget were hurting his city’s residents.

In this telling, Donald Trump is no exception to decades of Republican party demagoguery. Granted, Trump’s anger, xenophobia, racism, and railings against the “deep state” were more uncivil and overt; he was unusual in espousing overtly undemocratic norms. But Trump fit comfortably into a Republican tradition of arousing Americans’ suspicions of government. Trump sought to intimidate, “attack and scapegoat” immigrants, attempting to ban “aliens” from benefiting from social programs. That contrasts sharply with Reagan’s grant of amnesty to around 3 million undocumented immigrants, many of them poor. But Trump’s anti-immigrant policies extended Republicans’ long-standing project of radically reducing government—for certain groups and not others.

Kimberly Atkins Stohr of The Boston Globe writes about the increasing and dangerous use of the “shadow docket” by the United States Supreme Court.

While it is certainly the role of the court to decide issues including the limits of presidential authority, such weighty judgments have traditionally come during the court’s regular term, with a full examination of the arguments and in public view. But lately, the rulings come in the form of terse summary orders, drafted out of sight, often issued at night when few are watching.

And for those challenging a presidential order or other matter, the process of getting to the shadow docket is a lot easier than convincing the court to take up a case on the merits. Any litigant can appeal to one justice, who then decides whether to forward the matter to the rest of the court.

If that happens, an order can follow quickly, sometimes within days. Consider the host of shadow docket rulings in favor of churches and other organizations seeking to opt out of pandemic safety measures imposed by cities and states since last year — giving the court leverage to dramatically expand the scope of religious freedom claims in the process.

Chris Joyner of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at some of the factors influencing judicial decisions being made with regard to some of the Jan. 6 insurrection defendants.

In their initial appearances, magistrate judges were making decisions to keep defendants in jail “more along the lines of the nature of the offense” and siding with prosecutors concerned about a possible continued insurrection against the government, he said.

“As time went on, there was more of an understanding of the types of activities that different defendants engaged in, some merely entering into the Capitol building, walking around and leaving,” he said.

Some of the rioters benefit from the fact that United States does not have a domestic terrorism law, so the charges some face are more mundane.

[...]

The people who battled police in fierce hand-to-hand combat on the Capitol steps and forced their way inside, kicking in doors and calling out for congressional leaders as they attempted to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election, face more serious charges. And some have been less successful winning release.

Paul Krugman of The New York Times examines trends regarding gentrification in California and the larger national perspective.

Since the 1980s America has experienced growing regional divergence. We have become a knowledge economy driven by industries that rely on a highly educated work force, and firms in those industries, it turns out, want to be located in places where there are a lot of highly educated workers already — places like the Bay Area.

Unfortunately, most of these rising knowledge-industry hubs also severely limit housing construction; this is true even of greater New York, which is much denser than any other U.S. metropolitan area but could and should be even denser. As a result, housing prices in these metros have soared, and working-class families, instead of sharing in regional success, are being driven out.

The result is that there are now, in effect, two Americas: the America of high-tech, high-income enclaves that are unaffordable for the less affluent, and the rest of the country.

And this economic divergence goes along with political divergence, mainly because education has become a prime driver of political affiliation.

Brown University professor and emergency physician Jay Baruch writes for STATnews, proposing a “harm-reduction” strategy in order to deal with vaccine hesitancy.

I’m not free of the frustration and anger about unvaccinated people voiced by my clinician colleagues as we once again don N95 masks and goggles and other protective gear. Mustering sympathy for patients who don’t take precautions to protect their health and safeguard the well-being of others can be difficult, whether they’ve chosen not to wear masks or get vaccinated, drove drunk, or lit matches near flammable oxygen. But this challenge cuts to the heart of what it means to be a physician in a moral profession.

I recognize that “moral” is a term open to distrust and eye rolling. The premise that medicine is a moral profession might sound like a hallucination in today’s profit-driven health care climate. But medicine has a rich tradition as a moral profession based on ideals — placing patients’ interests first, using medical knowledge to benefit others, and acting in a manner that promotes societal trust — that are foreign to health care providers today or often flouted by them.

The anger I feel toward vaccine-hesitant people becomes a more complicated emotion when I witness them reckoning with their choices. Many of the unvaccinated people I’ve talked with are hard-working, loving individuals struggling to catch a break in a life that hasn’t been fair. They’re unmoored and don’t know what to believe when truth itself has supply-chain problems and the health care system has been letting them down for years.

Rich Miller, publisher of the indispensable newsletter of Illinois politics, Capitol Fax, writes for The Chicago Sun-Times about his carelessness in possibly exposing himself to COVID-19 (he turned out to be negative).

Wednesday’s Republican event on the lake was mostly confined to a large room packed with people, including some (like GOP gubernatorial candidates Darren Bailey and Gary Rabine) who have publicly said they aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19. There were no ceiling fans, the doors were closed and the air conditioner was having real trouble keeping up. It was hot and close. And nobody, of course, was wearing masks.

I didn’t stay longer than 15 or 20 minutes.

[...]

I called a close friend on my way home to say that I’d probably just made a mistake. I’m fully vaccinated, but if I was going to get one of those “breakthrough” cases, that was going to be the place.

On Friday of that week, Leader McConchie, who is also fully vaccinated, announced that he had a mild breakthrough case. I received a text message later that evening from someone else who was at the lake party at the same time as me to tell me he had been exposed to the virus. He suggested that I get tested.

I read Capitol Fax about once a week, but it should be one of my daily must-reads.

Glenn Sacks, a teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District, pens an opinion piece for The Washington Post on the need for the College Board to add a current elections component to the Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. Government and Politics exam.

Not only are elections relevant and interesting, but my students, who are seniors, are often involved in them. Some serve as poll watchers, some even vote. What could be wrong with AP Government teachers devoting class time to elections?

They're not on the AP exam.

Every minute spent on these engaging current events is a minute I should have spent explaining the difference between client politics, entrepreneurial politics, interest group politics, and majoritarian politics, between layer cake, marble cake, cooperative and competitive federalism. It’s time we should have spent reading and analyzing all of Federalist Papers 105170 and 78, and on a raft of other generally worthy but somewhat arcane topics.

Taking the time to properly cover our current elections harms my students’ ability to pass the AP exam. I can’t complain about their scores — they’ve done much better than the national average each year. But the perverse incentives built into AP Government mean I’m continually forced to choose between the best things to teach them vs. teaching to the test.

Finally today, Jeff Grabmeier writes for Phys.org about an interesting study conducted at THE Ohio State University regarding consumer behavior with “just-below” ($0.99) pricing.

In one field study, the researchers set up a coffee stand on the Ohio State campus for two days, rotating the prices regularly. About half the time, they offered a small coffee with a "just below" price of 95 cents or a larger cup upgrade for $1.20. In order to choose the upgrade option, customers had to cross that $1 round-number boundary.

Roughly every hour, they changed the price of the small cup to $1 and increased the price of the larger cup by 5 cents to $1.25.

While the larger cup was now more expensive than before, so was the smaller cup. Critically, both prices were on the same side of the $1 boundary, which the researchers predicted would make customers more likely to choose the upgrade.

How did customers respond? Well, 56 percent of them upgraded to the larger cup when they didn't have to cross the round-number boundary to upgrade ($1 to 1.25). But only 29 percent did when the smaller cup was at the just-below price of 95 cents and they had to cross the $1 threshold for the larger cup.

Everyone have a great day!