Stephanie McCrummen/WaPo has one of the most remarkable political stories you’ll read this year. Here’s a tale about not giving up on red states or those you assume aren’t persuadable:
In rural Georgia, an unlikely rebel against Trumpism
Why didn’t the Republican red wave materialize in the midterms? The life of Cody Johnson offers one answer.
“I don’t want extremists in office,” he said, walking back to his truck. “And I have some small glimmer of hope that maybe things aren’t as screwed up as I think they are.”
And just in time for the holidays!
Putin’s Useful Idiots: Right Wingers Lose It Over Zelensky VisitThe anti-Ukraine right can’t stand America standing as the arsenal of democracy.
The question of why the Trumpian populist right is so consumed with hatred for Ukraine—a hatred that clearly goes beyond concerns about U.S. spending, a very small portion of our military budget, or about the nonexistent involvement of American troops—doesn’t have a simple answer. Partly, it’s simply partisanship: If the libs are for it, we’re against it, and the more offensively the better. (And if the pre-Trump Republican establishment is also for it, then we’re even more against it.) Partly, it’s the belief that Ukrainian democracy is a Biden/Obama/Hillary Clinton/”Deep State” project, all the more suspect because it’s related to Trump’s first impeachment. Partly, it’s the “national conservative” distaste for liberalism—not only in its American progressive iteration, but in the more fundamental sense that includes conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: the outlook based on individual freedom and personal autonomy, equality before the law, limited government, and an international order rooted in those values. Many NatCons are far more sympathetic to Russia’s crusade against secular liberalism than to Ukraine’s desire for integration into liberal, secular Europe.
Whatever the reason, the anti-Ukraine animus on the right is quite real and widespread.
The 5 ‘known unknowns’ that will define 2024
The powerful evidence for a possible criminal case that the bipartisan January 6, 2021, congressional committee presented against former President Donald Trump on Monday underscores the biggest uncertainty looming over the approaching 2024 presidential campaign.
Many factors that will shape the 2024 contest, of course, remain impossible to know almost two years before the voting. But it is possible with greater confidence to identify the questions whose eventual answers will exert the most impact on the result.
During the Iraq War in 2002, Donald Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, coined a famous phrase to describe exactly that kind of situation. Rumsfeld puckishly described a circumstance in which we do not know the answer to a question, but we do know that the answer will matter to the outcome, as a “known unknown.”
Why did a House committee release Trump’s tax returns? Because it could.
Yeah, it’s a short piece but it’s a good question. They were entitled to the tax returns, and they are entitled to use it for legislative purposes. But why release it to the public?
Is it all politics or is there a greater good? By the way, I’m fine with it, I just like the question.
Sam Brodey/Daily Beast:
The Incredible 37-Page Guide for Staffing Sen. Kyrsten Sinema
Aides to the Arizona senator were expected to get her groceries, fix her internet, and learn her very specific preferences for airline seats, according to an internal memo.
The 37-page memo is intended as a guide for aides who set the schedule for and personally staff Sinema during her workdays in Washington and Arizona. And while the document is mostly just revealing of Sinema’s exceptionally strong preferences about things like air travel—preferably not on Southwest Airlines, never book her a seat near a bathroom, and absolutely never a middle seat—Sinema’s standards appear to go right up to the line of what Senate ethics rules allow, if not over.
One section of the staffer guide explains that the senator’s executive assistant must contact Sinema at the beginning of the work week in Washington to “ask if she needs groceries,” and copy both the scheduler and chief of staff on the message to “make sure this is accomplished.” It specifies Sinema will reimburse the assistant through CashApp. The memo also dictates that if the internet in Sinema’s private apartment fails, the executive assistant “should call Verizon to schedule a repair” and ensure a staffer is present to let a technician inside the property.
The Senate ethics handbook states that “staff are compensated for the purpose of assisting Senators in their official legislative and representational duties, and not for the purpose of performing personal or other non-official activities for themselves or on behalf of others.”
Yeah, I get it. You don’t like her. I don’t, either. But, no question that she’s useful. See WJBF:
Schumer breaks Title 42 spending bill logjam with Sinema’s help
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Thursday morning that he’s reached an agreement with colleagues on amendments to the 4,155-page omnibus so the Senate can pass the bill later in the day and give the House a chance to act Friday. And it looks like his savior may be independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), who on Thursday introduced an amendment to increase border funding and resources for border communities and extend the Title 42 health policy that expedites the deportation of migrants seeking asylum in the United States. Sinema’s amendment could give political cover to centrist Democrats to vote against a proposal sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to cut funding for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s office unless the Biden administration reinstates the Trump-era Title 42 policy.
Speaking of which, you know what media — including the evening news — is doing a terrible job on? Explaining what Title 42 actually is. Well, here’s a rare piece that does, from CBS:
What is Title 42, the COVID border policy used to expel migrants?
What exactly is Title 42, and how has it been used by the current and previous U.S. administrations to expel migrants? Here are the facts.
What is Title 42, and how did it start?
On March, 20, 2020, at the outset of the COVID-19 public health emergency, Trump previewed a measure to curb "mass uncontrolled cross-border movement," a move that would ultimately go further in restricting migration than any of his administration's previous hardline border policies.
That day, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield invoked a World War II-era public health law to authorize U.S. border officials to expel migrants. The law, found in Title 42 of the U.S. code, grants the government the "power to prohibit, in whole or in part, the introduction of persons and property" to stop a contagious disease from spreading in the U.S.
So, if it is rescinded, does that mean there’s no COVID public health emergency (or that the argument against Title 42 is to say so)? Or that maneuvering around immigration law is bad because immigration law is the better way to deal with border issues?
In an unrelated matter, the final Jan 6 report is out. See Brandi Buchman’s summary from last night. Here are some samples:
Rick Hasen/Election Law Blog:
My Reflections on the Release of the January 6 Committee Report on Trump’s Attempted Election Subversion and the Expected Passage This Week of Electoral Count Act Reform: Gratitude, Awe, and Partial Relief
The report is careful, lawyerly, and fact-based, and the picture it paints is damning of those, beginning with the former President, who were willing to manipulate legal theories and engage in baldfaced lies about voter fraud in an attempt to steal a presidential election. Even though most of the information in the first 5 chapters of the report was familiar to someone who has been following this closely, the set of narratives makes an unmistakeable record for history of unprecedented treachery and sedition. This is true whether or not criminal charges are brought and convictions obtained. There are strong reasons to prosecute the former President, and as I argued in the New York Times, the risk of not prosecuting Trump is greater than the risk of prosecuting him.
There was some new information to me, such as the fact that former professor John Eastman, who advanced wrong and dangerous theories about the Vice President’s powers to throw out electoral college votes, changed his views when politically expedient: