Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The search warrant will be released as early as today


FBI searched Trump’s home to look for nuclear documents and other items, sources say Attorney General Merrick Garland wouldn’t discuss the search but said he personally signed off on asking a judge to approve it

Classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought in a search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Monday, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Prior to the news:

What if a classified document on U.S. handling of nuclear weapons or names of CIA agents was given or sold by or stolen from an ex-President, who had stashed it in his basement?

— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) August 11, 2022

We don’t know anything more than an incomplete news report.

We need to see the search warrant (and we could as soon as this afternoon).

It is HIGHLY unusual for Jay Bratt, the Chief of the DOJ Counterintelligence & Export Control Section (CES), to sign an unsealing motion--or any motion. It's possible he hasn't signed one since he arrived at CES years ago.

— Brandon Van Grack (@BVanGrack) August 11, 2022

Inclusion of Jay Bratt, Chief of DOJ’s Counterintelligence & Export Control Section, on motion to unseal warrant signifies that national security concerns about classified material at risk animated the grounds for the warrant.

— David Laufman (@DavidLaufmanLaw) August 11, 2022


Florida swing voters: Bring on the search warrants

Florida swing voters in our latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups said the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago was justified — and that it would be a "serious crime" if former President Trump did take classified documents from the White House.

Why it matters: Trump's GOP allies are almost universally echoing his unsubstantiated claims of law enforcement overreach or politicization. The aggressive rhetoric may be boosting Trump's base support and fundraising, but it's not cutting through for this mix of Democrats, independents and Republicans who once backed him.

Also prior to the news:

"Short of the nuclear codes being written on these documents," said @DanaPerino earlier today, "I really don't understand how a document could warrant this kind of warrant."

— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) August 12, 2022

Uhm…  okay, then.

Stat of the Day: 58% 58% of voters believe that Trump either definitely or probably broke the law, including 59% of Independents, in a new @politico @MorningConsult poll. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

— John Anzalone (@JohnAnzo) August 12, 2022

Reposting this because it gets to the heart of the matter:

David Rothkopf/Daily Beast:

The FBI’s Search of Mar-a-Lago Is a Reminder That Trump Has Always Been a National Security Threat

The former president was the most dangerous person in the world when he held power, and he never had respect for the rule of law.

Republican howls of protest in the wake of the FBI’s search of Trump’s Florida residence were as loud as they were cynical, hypocritical, and irresponsible.

They knew full well that Trump had illegally removed classified documents from the White House—because not only was it acknowledged, but some of the documents were returned. They knew that to conduct such an operation, the FBI had to obtain a warrant from a judge, demonstrate that there was probable cause that a crime was committed, and almost certainly clear a higher bar than usual both within the Department of Justice and in the court because the target of the search was a former president. They were also aware that there was a clear pattern of destruction of records within the Trump administration in its final days and that credible reports suggested that Trump on a regular basis destroyed documents that he by law should have preserved, sometimes by flushing them down the toilet.

It’s amazing how baldly Merrick Garland called Trump’s bluff. For days the GOP is all “release the warrant!” and then the moment DOJ is like, “We’d like to release the warrant,” Trump goes, “Let’s not be hasty!”

— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) August 12, 2022

Jonah Goldberg/The Dispatch:

Yearning for a Banana Republic

Emboldened by fever dreams of persecution, Republicans want nothing more than to anoint a strong man to punish their enemies.

I’ll put it plainly: If your “belief” in our country is so fragile and pathetic that you will lose “hope for our nation” unless Donald Trump is given free reign to cleanse the land of evildoers, then you don’t actually believe in this nation. If your love of country is contingent on your preferred faction being in power, you’ve confused partisanship for patriotism. Taken seriously, all of this banana republic talk is un-American.

I don’t mean it’s a wrong or flawed argument or simply an argument I don’t like—though it is all those things. I mean it is literally an un-American argument because it fundamentally betrays the whole idea of this country. And I’d say this if the claims were made about any politician. Indeed, I did. When Barack Obama’s boosters claimed he would fix our “broken souls” (in Michelle Obama’s words), I spared no effort in denouncing them. When Joe Biden sermonized about how “unity”—under his banner—was the answer to all our problems, I trotted out all my arguments against the “cult of unity,” which constantly threatens our constitutional system of separated powers and divided government.

Presidents are not redeemers, messiahs, incarnations of mystical aspirations, or righteous settlers of seething grievances. They’re not god-kings or the fathers of our American family. They’re politicians elected to do some specific things as the head of one branch of one level of government. They get that job for a limited and defined period of time, and afterward they’re simply citizens.

It’s a source of constant consternation and amazement for me that so many people either don’t understand this or simply pretend not to.

Secret Service watchdog suppressed memo on January 6 texts erasure --@hugolowell

— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) August 12, 2022

Tim Alberta/Atlantic:

What Comes After the Search Warrant?

Why August 8 may become a new hinge point in U.S. history

So why did I feel nauseous yesterday, watching coverage of the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate?

Because this country is tracking toward a scale of political violence not seen since the Civil War. It’s evident to anyone who spends significant time dwelling in the physical or virtual spaces of the American right. Go to a gun show. Visit a right-wing church. Check out a Trump rally. No matter the venue, the doomsday prophesying is ubiquitous—and scary. Whenever and wherever I’ve heard hypothetical scenarios of imminent conflict articulated, the premise rests on an egregious abuse of power, typically Democrats weaponizing agencies of the state to target their political opponents. I’ve always walked away from these experiences thinking to myself: If America is a powder keg, then one overreach by the government, real or perceived, could light the fuse.

Think I’m being hysterical? I’ve been accused of that before. But we’ve seen what happens when millions of Americans abandon their faith in the nation’s core institutions. We’ve seen what happens when millions of Americans become convinced that their leaders are illegitimate. We’ve seen what happens when millions of Americans are manipulated into believing that Trump is suffering righteously for their sake; that an attack on him is an attack on them, on their character, on their identity, on their sense of sovereignty. And I fear we’re going to see it again.

— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) August 11, 2022

EJ Dionne/WaPo:

The GOP makes its choice: Trump, yes. Rule of law, no.

The GOP seems to be settling on a snappy slogan for November’s elections: Vote Republican. Because Donald Trump is above the law.

That’s the logical conclusion after a regiment of Republican politicians, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), denounced the FBI’s court-sanctioned search of Mar-a-Lago on Monday even though the fulminators had no idea what Trump may have done to lead a judge to approve it.

I’m just hoping that none of the documents include sensitive information about our Jewish space lasers.

— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) August 12, 2022


Trump world gripped with anger, fear and a host of conspiracies about the FBI search

There is anxiety in the ranks about how this happened, even as they seek to benefit politically from it.

A wave of concern and even paranoia is gripping parts of Trump world as federal investigators tighten their grip on the former president and his inner circle.

In the wake of news that the FBI agents executed a court-authorized search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, Trump’s allies and aides have begun buzzing about a host of potential explanations and worries. Among those being bandied about is that the search was a pretext to fish for other incriminating evidence, that the FBI doctored evidence to support its search warrant — and then planted some incriminating materials and recording devices at Mar-a-Lago for good measure — and even that the timing of the search was meant to be a historical echo of the day President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.

Of all the garbage they are throwing this seems the biggest tell. No crooked cop plants evidence that is not incriminating. So their resort to “planted evidence” by definition concedes their belief that what was found was *incriminating evidence*.

— Francis Wilkinson (@fdwilkinson) August 10, 2022

Jennifer Rubin/WaPo:

Pelosi has found the Democrats’ midterm strategy

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has remained unflappably upbeat about the midterms, now has good reason to tout Democrats’ prospects. Even when other issues have popped up (e.g., impeachment of Trump for inciting an attack on the U.S. Capitol), Pelosi has consistently been an advocate for running on “kitchen table” issues, as she regularly put its, such as lowering the cost of health insurance premiums and prescription drugs…

Above all else, she tells her members, Democrats should run on what they’ve done. Naturally, that will mean highlighting all the measures Republicans opposed (the $35 price cap on insulin being among the juiciest targets).

But she also says Democrats must focus on their future agenda. If Democrats can hold the House and add two more Senate seats, she said at the signing ceremony, “we can get much more done in the United States Senate for the Voting Rights Act and voting protections, and the list goes on — a woman’s right to choose and the rest.”

What can we learn about climate politics from the (long overdue) passage of the Inflation Reduction Act? Two things: 1. Economists were wrong 2. Political scientists were right A 🧵

— Michael Ross (@MichaelRoss7) August 11, 2022

You can read the thread here.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Alex Jones has his day in court

John J. Pitney, Jr./Bulwark:

Democrats Are Running as Opposition Party

Usually the out-party runs as the opposition to the White House. This year, the Supreme Court and Trump have made it possible for Democrats to run as a check on Republican extremism.
The in-party has never been able to wear the “check and balance” mantle—until this year. During the 2022 midterm, there are a couple of ways in which the Democratic appeal is essentially that they will act as a counterweight against an out-of-step Republican party.

Put that recession talk away, and change the subject. A vibecession ain't no recession: July payrolls came in at a huge +528k, and unemployment is down to 3.5%. A whap-bop-a-loopa-a-whap-bam-boo!

— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) August 5, 2022

Verdict: Alex Jones owes $45.2 million more to Sandy Hook in punitive damages. That's on top of $4.1 million in compensatory. That's $49.3 million to two Sandy Hook families. Two more trials after this. Unanimous verdict (what's required for punitive damages).

— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) August 5, 2022

Bill Scher/Washington Monthly:

The Ads That Won the Kansas Abortion Referendum

Avoiding progressive pieties, the ad makers aimed at the broad, persuadable middle of the electorate.

I reviewed eight ads paid for by Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. One used the word choice. Four used decision. Three, neither. The spots usually included the word abortion, but not always.

To appeal to libertarian sentiments, the spots aggressively attacked the anti-abortion amendment as a “government mandate.” To avoid alienating moderates who support constraints on abortion, one ad embraced the regulations already on the Kansas books.

And they used testimonials to reach the electorate: a male doctor who refused to violate his “oath”; a Catholic grandmother worried about her granddaughter’s freedom; a married mom who had a life-saving abortion; and a male pastor offering a religious argument for women’s rights and, implicitly, abortion.

Let’s dissect some of the ads.

Today’s jobs report ‘defied expectations.’ The Kansas abortion vote shocked and stunned. So I say again:

— Margaret Sullivan (@Sulliview) August 5, 2022

Jack Jenkins/Religion News Service:

In Kansas abortion vote, a blow to Catholic bishops’ political strategy

‘If this is what the bishops are going to do, if this was their plan for a ‘post-Roe’ world, then Catholics are going to be very disappointed,’ said one observer of the Catholic hierarchy.

Analysts were quick to frame the result as a setback for anti-abortion movement, but activists and experts say it also amounts to a rejection of the Catholic Church hierarchy, which had shelled out massive sums of money in support of the amendment’s passage. The vote may hint, too, at mounting backlash against the church’s involvement in the nation’s abortion debate — not least among Catholics themselves.

In the wake of the vote, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, who publicly supported the amendment’s passage, issued a statement Wednesday lamenting its failure.

We can argue the strategic value of Democrats spending money in Republican primaries, something Republicans do in Dem primaries all the time, but the bottom line is these insane Republicans are being elected by an extreme Republican base that is the Republican Party of today

— Adam Blickstein (@AdamBlickstein) August 4, 2022

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

The Trumpists are winning. Here are 3 hidden reasons to fear them.

The Trumpists in question are Republicans who won nominations for positions such as governor and secretary of state in critical swing states. The alarming truth is this: Many of them deny the legitimacy of President Biden’s 2020 victory, even as they are seeking positions of control over the certification of future presidential elections.

But the reality of the threat this poses keeps getting lost in euphemisms. There’s an unwillingness in the media to state the true nature of their project in plain, blunt, clear terms.

Hell of a week for Biden: -528k July jobs added -Unemployment at 3.5% (50-year low) -Zawahiri killed -CHIPS Act passes -PACT Act passes -Inflation Reduction Act deal -Gas hits 50+ day low (median US price below $4/gal) -Kansas protects abortion And he oversaw it all with COVID.

— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) August 5, 2022

Paul Waldman/WaPo:

Why criticism of Democrats for boosting radical Trumpists is wrong

[John] Gibbs {MI] is one of a number of such candidates Democrats have tried to help, and the response has been widespread outrage. Outside of the Democratic officials who made the decision to deploy this tactic, there seems to be a nearly universal consensus that what they have done is reckless and hypocritical.

But while I wouldn’t unequivocally endorse parties trying to get their opponents to nominate the looniest candidates possible, there are a number of reasons why the criticism is overblown and even misguided. In fact, we might look back and say that Democrats made a strategic judgment that struck a reasonable balance between risk and reward.

First, note that one of the first things Meijer did after his defeat was to appear at a “unity” event with Gibbs. Whatever Meijer’s distaste for Gibbs’s repugnant views, he’s backing Gibbs in the general election, so spare me the laments for the departure of such a noble public servant.

Second, we can’t escape this fact: Gibbs was exactly what Republican primary voters in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District wanted. This race got plenty of attention, and Gibbs was not hiding who he is. That’s what they chose, just as Republican voters have in state after state. On the same day, Republicans in another swing state, Arizona, nominated an entire slate of election saboteurs; their nominee for secretary of state is an actual member of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing extremist group.

The productivity was hardly sudden. COVID, infrastructure, Juneteenth, postal reform, lend-lease, and more were already law. With CHIPS, guns, IRA, & more, it moves well into a historic Congress and there's still a lame-duck omnibus to pass in December.

— Josh Huder (@joshHuder) August 5, 2022


Trump faces uphill fight on executive privilege in DOJ probe

History and recent battles in civil suits signal he's unlikely to prevail if he seeks to block witnesses' grand jury testimony about Jan. 6.

Short, Jacob and Cipollone testified to the Jan. 6 select committee but negotiated strict terms to avoid discussing their direct interactions with Trump — a nod to the disputed possibility that such communications could be protected by executive privilege. But it’s unlikely that such claims would pass muster in a criminal probe.

“There is no way that any court would say they didn’t have to testify to conversations with President Trump in a grand jury investigation — a criminal investigation arising out of that conduct,” said Neil Eggleston, who served as White House counsel to President Barack Obama and represented President Bill Clinton in several executive privilege fights. “There’s no doubt if this got to a court, it would hold that the department is entitled to the information. … I think it’s a no-brainer.”

A lot of the energy behind the "cynical Dems behind MAGA crazies" storyline is driven by pundits who feel very, very off balance needing to say constantly that the GOP is now a sectarian revanchist party thats a threat to democracy over&over because it remains true. Again & gain.

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) August 4, 2022

3/ where Dems were allegedly boosting MAGAs its not even true. PA Gov is a good example of this. Where this has happened is in a number of House contests, run from out of the DCCC. Second, let's be clear what this "boosting" or "running ads for" actually means.

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) August 4, 2022

NY Times:

Is It All About ‘Fealty to Trump’s Delusions’? Three Writers Talk About Where the G.O.P. Is Headed.

[Tim] Miller: I just want to say here that I do get pissed about the notion that it’s us, the Never Trumpers, who are obsessed with litigating Jan. 6. Pennsylvania is a critical state that now has a nominee for governor who won because of his fealty to this lie, could win the general election and could put his finger on the scale in 2024. The same may be true in another key state, Arizona. This is a red-level threat for our democracy.

A lot of Republicans in Washington, D.C., want to sort of brush it away just like they brushed away the threat before Jan. 6, because it’s inconvenient.

[Ross] Douthat: Let me frame that D.C. Republican objection a different way: If this is a red-level threat for our democracy, why aren’t Democrats acting like it? Why did Democratic Party money enter so many of these races on behalf of the more extreme, stop-the-steal Republican? For example, given the closeness of the race, that sort of tactic quite possibly helped defeat Meijer in Michigan.

Miller: Give me a break. The ads from the left trying to tilt the races were stupid and frankly unpatriotic. I have spoken out about this before. But it’s not the Democrats who are electing these insane people. Were the Democrats responsible for Mark Finchem? Mehmet Oz? Herschel Walker? Mastriano won by over 20 points. This is what Republican voters want.

Also, advertising is a two-way street. If all these self-righteous Republicans were so angry about the ads designed to promote John Gibbs, they could’ve run pro-Meijer ads! Where was Kevin McCarthy defending his member? He was in Florida shining Mr. Trump’s shoes.

Thinking back to Trump acquittal in 2nd impeachment, can't help but focus on how McConnell/GOP thought Trump, Big Lie, 1/6 would be ancient history by now -- & were trying to make that happen. But 3 months before mid-terms, they are bigger than ever, wrapped around GOP's neck.

— Michelangelo Signorile (@MSignorile) August 5, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Trump’s plot to overthrow the election in full focus this week

Sarah Longwell/Atlantic:

The January 6 Hearings Are Changing Republicans’ Minds

GOP voters want political power. And they’re no longer sure Donald Trump is the best way to get it.

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.”

Between the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS+ bill, it's pretty amazing what's being kicked around in production support and/or cost constraints around energy, pharmaceuticals, and tech. Just real cause for hope for the US's long term

— Matt Singer (he/him) (@mattsinger7) July 28, 2022

Robinson Meyer/Atlantic:

Manchin and Schumer’s Astonishing Climate Deal

If passed, the energy provisions of the senators’ new bill would represent the most significant climate action in a generation.

But on climate and energy in particular, the bill is a landmark. It authorizes $369 billion of new climate spending, the largest investment in emissions reduction in American history—and, more important, the biggest blow against climate change ever struck by the U.S. government. “This is it. This is the real victory,” Sam Ricketts, a co-founder of Evergreen Action, a climate think tank, and a former adviser to Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, told me. “I struggle to find enough superlatives to describe this deal.”

The legislation is so big, so multifaceted, that I don’t think it’s possible to summarize in this narrow space. But I will hit a few highlights that are crucial to understanding how the bill’s energy provisions work and what they could mean for the country and the world:

"I will oppose an overwhelmingly popular bill to protect gay marriage that I would otherwise support because I'm mad that the Democrats held a vote on a microchip bill that I also supported" has got to be the best example of DC brain worms I have ever encountered

— Tim Miller (@Timodc) July 28, 2022

Adam Serwer/Atlantic:

Republicans’ Cowardly Excuses for Not Protecting Marriage Equality

There is absolutely no reason to believe that fundamental rights of same-sex couples are safe.

Republican senators such as Marco Rubio and Ben Sasse, as well as conservative outlets such as National Review, have insisted that the Respect for Marriage Act is unnecessary because there is no case currently on its way to the Supreme Court that has the potential to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision that recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry. Rubio said he would vote against the bill because it was a “waste of our time on a non-issue.” Sasse told reporters that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “trying to divide America with culture wars. I think it’s just the same bullshit. She’s not an adult.”

This is nonsense. The majority reasoning in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade, is one that would invalidate Obergefell and allow states to destroy hundreds of thousands of families, notwithstanding the majority’s weak and insincere disclaimer that the decision applied only to abortion. In his concurrence, Justice Clarence Thomas took aim at Obergefell among other decisions as one granting rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution, and therefore a decision that should be overturned. There is absolutely no reason to believe that fundamental rights of same-sex couples are safe. Conservative activists want Obergefell overturned, and will try to make it happen at the first opportunity, because they do not believe that same-sex couples should have the right to marry. Reassurances to the contrary are meaningless, because the same sources that say these rights are not now at risk said similar things about Roe. It is also political strategy: Because they know that repealing marriage equality is an unpopular position, they wish to deny what they are doing right up until the moment it becomes possible. Although no one can predict what the justices themselves will do with complete certainty, Republicans in Congress are now on record as overwhelmingly supportive of the agenda Thomas outlined and the society it would impose.

This is astonishing, yet not surprising. If it feels like you're far less safe in NYC than ever before, it's not bc shootings are up. It's because the media (fueled by lies & fearmongering by NYC Mayor Eric Adams) is up. Look at this chart. Red line is shootings. Grey is media.

— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) July 29, 2022

Liz Sly/WaPo:

Ukraine could be turning the tide of war again as Russian advances stall

The lack of progress may be explained at least in part by the “operational pause” declared by Russia’s Defense Ministry after the seizure of Lysychansk — to allow Russian troops a chance to “rest and develop their combat capabilities,” in the words of President Vladimir Putin.

But the so-called pause did not halt Russian attempts to probe and penetrate Ukrainian lines — and the official end of the pause, announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on July 16, has brought no noticeable increase in the intensity of Russia’s assaults, said George Barros, a geospatial and Russia analyst with the Institute for the Study of War.


What It Will Take For Lisa Murkowski To Win Reelection In Alaska

First, Murkowski’s approval rating has improved more than almost any other senator since President Biden took office. New survey data from Morning Consult found that 46 percent of Alaska registered voters approved of Murkowski in the second quarter of 2022, while 39 percent disapproved. This marked the first time Morning Consult had found Murkowski in net-positive territory during Biden’s presidency. The data also showed how Murkowski is an atypical politician: She had better ratings among those who identify with the opposing party than among her own. The survey found that 62 percent of Democrats approved of her, while 23 percent disapproved. By comparison, 41 percent of Republicans approved of her versus 46 percent who disapproved (she ran about even among independents). However, Murkowski still needs some GOP support in red-leaning Alaska to win, and she might be able to retain it: Those numbers among Republicans were much better than in the first quarter of 2021, when 76 percent of them disapproved of her.

Still, it’s not hard to see why Democrats now have a better opinion of Murkowski than Republicans do. Murkowski supports abortion rights, and she’s tallied a number of conservative apostasies in recent years, including her 2017 vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act and her vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The latter vote even led the Alaska GOP to censure her. Going back to 2010, her tea party-backed primary challenger, Joe Miller, cast her as a RINO — “Republican in name only” — and narrowly defeated her for renomination. But Murkowski bucked her party to mount a write-in campaign and, remarkably, won that November. (She also beat Miller in 2016, when he ran as a Libertarian.) So she’s overcome a stern intraparty challenge before, although it took an extraordinarily unusual campaign.

I once worked in a (winning) presidential campaign. You would kiss the ground in thanks for oppo self-own material like this. The Oz campaign will be studied for a long time. (And the Fetterman campaign.)

— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) July 28, 2022

Caitlin Rivers, PhD/Substack:

A look at the CDC monkeypox technical report

Detailed epidemiological data now available!

I encourage a full review of the new U.S. report. The following highlights stood out to me:

  • Over 99% of cases are in men (or assigned male sex at birth), and 99% of cases are in men who have sex with men. This confirms that men who have sex with men are currently the primary population at risk, and that public health interventions (e.g., outreach, education, vaccination, treatment) should be tailored to them.

  • The mean incubation period was estimated at 7.6 days (CrI 6.2-9.7). with 95% of cases developing symptoms within 17.1 days. The time from exposure to rash onset is slightly longer, at 8.7 days (CrI 6.9-11.7). CDC has previously said that fever, lymphadenopathy and malaise are commonly reported before rash onset, so those may be the symptoms that patients are experiencing in the 2 days before the rash becomes apparent.

  • The median number of days between symptom onset and a positive test result was 8 days, which has remained stable or declined slightly over time. In my opinion, this is one of the most important findings of the report. Rapid diagnosis is critical for enabling public health interventions which are needed to break chains of transmission. A diagnosis is also what enables people who are affected to receive proper treatment. I am glad that CDC chose to report this important metric week by week so that trends can be assessed. Time to diagnosis can and should be reduced through education, case finding, accessible diagnostic testing, and quick turnaround times for lab results.

Sarah Gollust/Twitter:

New study in @JAMANetworkOpen led by @rtopazian @colleenlbarry & colleagues reports concerning finding that a growing percentage of U.S. adults said harassing or threatening public health officials over COVID-19 business closures was justified {thread}

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Writing down a criminal conspiracy isn’t just good television

NY Times:

‘Kind of Wild/Creative’: Emails Shed Light on Trump Fake Electors Plan

Previously undisclosed communications among Trump campaign aides and outside advisers provide new insight into their efforts to overturn the election in the weeks leading to Jan. 6

In emails reviewed by The New York Times and authenticated by people who had worked with the Trump campaign at the time, one lawyer involved in the detailed discussions repeatedly used the word “fake” to refer to the so-called electors, who were intended to provide Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Trump’s allies in Congress a rationale for derailing the congressional process of certifying the outcome. And lawyers working on the proposal made clear they knew that the pro-Trump electors they were putting forward might not hold up to legal scrutiny.


Justice Dept. investigating Trump’s actions in Jan. 6 criminal probe

People familiar with the probe said investigators are examining the former president’s conversations and have seized phone records of top aides

The Justice Department is investigating President Donald Trump’s actions as part of its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors who are questioning witnesses before a grand jury — including two top aides to Vice President Mike Pence — have asked in recent days about conversations with Trump, his lawyers, and others in his inner circle who sought to substitute Trump allies for certified electors from some states Joe Biden won, according to two people familiar with the matter. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

This confirms what we’ve seen so far during the January 6th Committee hearings—the dishonest lawyers advising Trump (Clark, Eastman, Giuliani, etc) have significant liability and could be charged with straightforward crimes by DOJ.

— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) July 25, 2022


Why Democrats' Midterm Chances Don't Hinge On Biden's Approval Rating

On one hand, President Biden is historically unpopular: As of July 25 at 5 p.m. Eastern, he had an average approval rating of 38 percent and an average disapproval rating of 57 percent — a net approval rating of -19 percentage points. You have to go back to Harry Truman to find a president with a net approval rating that bad at this point in his term.

On the other, generic-congressional-ballot polls are pretty close. As of the same date and time, Republicans had an average lead of 1 point.

Those two numbers feel difficult to reconcile. Biden’s approval rating suggests that the national mood is extremely poor for Democrats, while the generic-ballot polling suggests that the political environment is only slightly Republican-leaning. But in reality, these two types of polls aren’t in opposition as much as you might think. They’re separate metrics, and a look back at past midterm elections shows they don’t always line up. But history also shows that when they do diverge, one is more predictive than the other.

First, it’s kind of an obvious point, but presidential-approval polls and generic-ballot polls are measuring two different things. 

The Uvalde school board is formally urging Gov. Greg Abbott to call state lawmakers back to Austin so they can raise the legal age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21

— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) July 26, 2022

Washington Examiner:

Republicans blame drop in online GOP grassroots fundraising on inflation and Trump

“As the economy eats away at purchasing power, something has to go by the wayside,” said Zac Moffatt, CEO of Targeted Victory, a Republican consulting firm that specializes in digital fundraising and strategy. Targeted Victory maintains a house file of online donors. The firm discovered through periodic polling that these grassroots Republicans have reduced discretionary budgets for political giving in response to inflation that accelerated to 9.1% in June.

“We do these massive 3,000-person surveys to our donor file,” Moffatt explained. “The verbatim [responses have been:] It’s gas or this donation; it’s vacation with our children or this donation.” Republican insiders interviewed for this story were more guarded when discussing the Trump factor in the second-quarter fundraising downturn experienced by so many GOP candidates and groups, fearing reprisals by the former president. Granted anonymity, they unloaded.

Jennifer Rubin/WaPo:

It’s no wonder right-wing justices didn’t weigh Dobbs’s awful impact on women

With so many disturbing aspects of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade — the shoddy history, the contempt for stare decisis, etc. — it is easy to forget that one of the most heinous came from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

During oral arguments, Julie Rikelman, counsel for Jackson’s Women Health, had the temerity to spell out the ramifications that bans would have on the health and future of women denied an abortion. Roberts cut her off and plunged ahead in his search for justification for a 15-week limit on the procedure.

Do people still think this is an open question? Yes, Republicans will shut out the press in 2024. Virtually the entire presidential primary will be conducted through the right-wing press. Mainstream press will get access only to be used as punching bags.

— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) July 26, 2022

Sarah Posner/TNR:

How Did Maryland Republicans Nominate Two Extremist Screwballs for Statewide Office?

The gubernatorial nominee was at the Capitol on January 6. The attorney general pick says public schools belong to Hitler. What is going on?

Last Tuesday, Republican primary voters in Maryland picked two radical extremists as their nominees in November’s race for governor and attorney general. In electing Dan Cox as their gubernatorial candidate and Michael Peroutka as their nominee for attorney general, Maryland Republicans showed not just that they prefer the Trumpier brand of the GOP. They showed that a long campaign by radical right theocrats to take over the party has borne more fruit in the age of Trump than ever before, coalescing in a toxic merger of white Christian nationalism and the stolen election lie.

Peter Wehner/NY Times:

What in the World Happened to Elise Stefanik?

There was a time in 2016 when Elise Stefanik, now the third-ranking Republican in the House, was so disgusted by Donald Trump, she would barely mention his name. Today he proudly refers to her as “one of my killers.”

She proved that again last month. In an effort to undermine confidence in the select committee investigating the violent assault on the Capitol, Ms. Stefanik said, “This is not a serious investigation. This is a partisan political witch hunt.” The committee, she said, is “illegitimate.” The hearings did not change her mind. In mid-July, before the final session planned for the summer, she referred to the committee as a “sham” and declared that “it is way worse than the impeachment witch hunt parts one and two.”

Maybe Ms. Stefanik was continuing to discredit the House committee because the evidence it has produced from Trump insiders — and the compelling way the evidence has been presented — has inflicted staggering damage on Mr. Trump, even though it might not prevent him from winning the Republican presidential nomination for a third straight time. Ms. Stefanik has failed in her efforts to sabotage the committee, but it’s not for lack of trying.

Doug Mastriano consultant and Gab CEO Andrew Torba has reaffirmed he doesn't want right-wing Jewish commentators like Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin in his movement unless they “repent” and renounce their Jewish faith.

— Eric Hananoki (@ehananoki) July 22, 2022

David Rothkopf/Daily Beast:

What Comes Next After Biden’s Foreign Policy Marathon

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan talks about Biden’s recent Middle East trip and the challenges that lie ahead

“You’d be hard-pressed to find another president operating at this pace—and all this in an election year,” said U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. “When you think of the stakes involved with China, Russia, Ukraine, NATO expansion, ensuring affordable energy and food supplies, Israel’s integration with the region, shoring up security partnerships, and major issues of geopolitics—to do all those things in nine weeks and to see how much better off the U.S. is at the end of it whether in terms of short-term or long-term trends, it is hard to argue, especially for anyone who has watched him in action, that he has slowed down or been hindered by domestic politics.”

.@CNN Poll Do you think that Trump's public statements leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol encouraged political violence? % Yes/No Voters 60/40 Dem 94/6 GOP 20/79 Ind 66/34 Lib 91/9 Mod 71/29 Con 21/79 White,College 60/40 White,No degree 44/55

— Aron Goldman (@ArgoJournal) July 26, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: What to do about Donald Trump

Ian Bassin and Erica Newland/NYRB:

The Attorney General’s Choice

Merrick Garland’s job in weighing a Trump indictment is not to heal the nation.

The Founders also grasped the difference between the normal judgments delegated to prosecutors and questions that should be left to presidents in moments of national crisis. Arguing in favor of the pardon power to the people of New York during the ratification debates, Alexander Hamilton suggested that “in seasons of insurrection or rebellion, there are often critical moments, when a well timed offer of pardon to the insurgents or rebels may restore the tranquility of the commonwealth.” This is precisely the consideration many are now asking Merrick Garland to take into account. But the Founders deliberately gave this power to the president alone, and courts have repeatedly held that it cannot be delegated.

The point is that Merrick Garland doesn’t have to decide whether prosecution is for the good of the nation, or that the nation should be spared. That’s a president’s job (see Gerald Ford). 

If there’s a reason to prosecute, prosecute.

Michelle Cottle/NY Times:

The Good, the Bad and the Chicken on Jan. 6

Among the most uplifting takeaways has been Liz Cheney’s display of public service. Yes, ideologically speaking, she is a Democrat’s nightmare, an in-your-face conservative who would ordinarily make for great fund-raising fodder. But when it comes to fighting for democracy, personal costs be damned, she has gone all in on the principle that protecting America from all enemies — be they foreign or Floridian — should trump political and policy disagreements. “I believe this is the most important thing I’ve ever done professionally,” she recently told my colleague Peter Baker, “and maybe the most important thing I ever do.” Fact check: True.

At the other end of the patriotic spectrum crouches Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff. From the accounts of his actions (or lack thereof) leading up to and including Jan. 6 — not to mention his ongoing silence — we have learned so much about what cynical, amoral, craven, butt-smooching venality looks like. One suspects that somewhere in Mr. Meadows’s attic hangs a portrait of him, his painted visage steadily rotting away.

Is the "red wave" ebbing? Probably not much. But as Dems show more signs of life and Rs nominate several problematic candidates, we're downgrading our @CookPolitical House outlook from a GOP gain of 20-35 seats to 15-30 seats. Full analysis:

— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) July 22, 2022

Keep it going. The trends are in our favor.

NY Times:

The Jan. 6 Hearings Did a Great Service, by Making Great TV

Investigating a threat to democracy was always going to be important. But this time, it also managed to be buzzworthy.

These hearings, in an era of social-media cacophony, cable-news argument and fixed political camps, were never likely to build to a cinematic climax that would unite the public in outrage. Yet by the standards of today, they have achieved some remarkable things.

They drew an audience for public-affairs TV in the dead of summer. They reportedly prompted further witnesses to come forward. Polling suggests they even moved opinion on Mr. Trump and Jan. 6 among Republicans and independents. They created riveting — and dare I say, watchable — water cooler TV that legitimately mattered.

And make no mistake: The hearings, produced by James Goldston, the former president of ABC News, succeeded not just through good intentions but also by being well-made, well-promoted TV. They may have been a most unusual eight-episode summer series (with more promised in September). But they had elements in common with any good drama.

I have been warning about this for two years. Congress has known all along. But congressional leaders have not closed the statutory loophole that makes this possible. What’s needed is a straightforward technical fix. But heaven forbid they legislate.

— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) July 22, 2022

Paul Waldman/WaPo:

The most dangerous threat to America? White male entitlement.

As witness after witness testified to the Jan. 6 House select committee Thursday about Donald Trump’s deranged and possibly illegal plot to cling to power, it was impossible to ignore his sense of entitlement. What was this system for, if not to give him whatever he wanted? And if it wouldn’t, he would tear it down.

That’s not just his story; it’s also the story of those who stormed the Capitol on his behalf. And it’s increasingly the story of the Republican Party. In our ongoing debate about what the Constitution means and whether we should have a genuine democracy, it is the people who have been given the most advantages who are most willing, even eager, to destroy the American system.

This is about much more than Jan. 6, 2021(...)

Only 8 of the 213 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives support an individual right to contraceptives. Think about that.

— Lucy Caldwell (@lucymcaldwell) July 21, 2022

EJ Dionne/WaPo:

 Finally, the dam is breaking against Trump

During Thursday’s prime-time session, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) summed up the explosive impact of this summer’s hearings by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

“The dam,” she declared, “has begun to break.”

Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, was speaking largely of new investigative opportunities that a parade of witnesses has opened into President Donald Trump’s illicit effort to maintain power. But her statement had much broader implications.

The Jan. 6 committee has fundamentally altered public perceptions of Trump’s role in the violence at the Capitol.

Yesterday prominent GOP polling firm @EchelonInsights found Ds leading by between 4-7 pts. Today highly influential in GOP circles @USChamber released a poll showing Ds up 46-41. Questions about whether McConnell and McCarthy are blowing the election going to start flying now.

— Simon Rosenberg (@SimonWDC) July 21, 2022

Leonard Pitts, Jr/Miami Herald:

You’ve been too quiet, Merrick Garland. Show us you will vigorously defend democracy

Dear Attorney General Merrick Garland:

In a press conference Wednesday, you seemed fed up with carping about the perceived timidity and inertia of your department and you. “A central tenet of the rule of law,” you said, “is that we do not do our investigations in public.” You added that, “We have to hold accountable every person who is criminally responsible for trying to overturn a legitimate election ... in a way filled with integrity and professionalism.” In other words: Back off and let us do our jobs. Your pique is arguably understandable. But there is something here you may not be grasping.

People are impatient, yes. They demand accountability, yes. But the other factor at play is simply that it’s been a very tough time for the aforementioned rule of law. One is reminded of an old trope from Western movies: The angry mob descends on the jailhouse with torches and rope, ready to drag out some prisoner and do street justice. But the sheriff stands them off, tells them to leave the prisoner’s fate to the law. Clichéd as that scene is, it captures an important truth. Fealty to the rule of law is not a native instinct. To the contrary, the native instinct is to demand instant satisfaction if somebody has done you wrong. But the rule of law asks us to exchange torches and rope for a set of rules to be administered on our behalf by the government. Thus do human beings carve civil societies from wildernesses of social primitivism.

Truly remarkable numbers. In just under two years public approval of the US Supreme Court has fallen from 66% to 38%. Simply unprecedented in rapidity. This is what fatal loss of institutional legitimacy looks like.

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 20, 2022

The Bulwark:

Wisconsin Swing Voters Are Done With Trump and Biden—and Not Sold on DeSantis

Trump-to-Biden voters don't want the olds.

“Trump, I would have to agree, was great for our economy, but he was an embarrassment by the way he spoke, his tweets, his attitude,” commented Ginger, 62, from Sherwood. “He was not in control of his emotions, and I found that to be very embarrassing for the leader of our country. Biden is just so confused, and he’s almost like a puppet who is saying what somebody tells him to say. Anytime he speaks, he gets so confused. I think he needs to enjoy retirement.”

“I just don’t feel [Biden] is all there enough to keep going. He’s too old for [the presidency],” remarked Jamie, 36, from Green Bay.

Did 20 or so Senate Republicans acquit Donald Trump of treason during his second impeachment trial in order to cover up their role in a "congressional coup"?

— *The* Editorial Board (@johnastoehr) July 22, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Critical race theory? Nah. The story is the great replacement scam

Bess Levin/Vanity Fair:


In the era of Donald Trump, a major plank of the modern Republican Party platform is outright racism. Whether it’s the leader of the free world telling four congresswomen of color to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came,” a U.S. senator saying he wasn’t afraid of the January 6 rioters but would have been worried if they were Black Lives Matter protesters, a U.S. congresswoman speaking at event put on by a white nationalist, the complete and total hysteria over the idea of children being taught about systemic racism, or a prime-time conservative host’s regular white-power hour, this hateful little ecosystem just loves to appeal to the lowest common denominator by demonizing anyone who isn’t white. But when their actions actually have consequences? And it turns out their hate speech matters? And people have the audacity to suggest they’re part of the problem? Well, they really get their noses out of joint.

Imagine if Trump were President now and Flynn the National Security Adviser….

— Phillips P. OBrien (@PhillipsPOBrien) May 17, 2022

The New York Times:

Republicans Play on Fears of ‘Great Replacement’ in Bid for Base Voters

Republicans across the spectrum were quick to denounce the killings. But fewer party leaders appeared willing to break with the politics of nativism and fear the party has embraced to retain the loyalties of right-wing voters inspired by Donald J. Trump.

One Republican, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, on Monday called out her colleagues for not doing enough to squash the extremist wing of her own party.

“House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism,” Ms. Cheney, the former No. 3 House Republican who was removed from that role over her criticism of Mr. Trump, wrote on Twitter. “History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”

The victims of the terrorist attack in #Buffalo haven’t been buried yet, as Orbán refers to the Great Replacement conspiracy theory in opening speech of new term as PM. Many international media don’t even mention it!!!

— Cas Mudde 😷 (@CasMudde) May 17, 2022


Mitch McConnell refuses to condemn racist 'great replacement theory' three separate times in one press conference

  • Some Republicans have promoted a version of the "replacement theory" that motivated the Buffalo shooter.
  • Insider and 2 other reporters repeatedly asked McConnell about the theory, but he wouldn't denounce it.
  • He said racism "ought to be stood up to by everybody, both Republicans and Democrats."

In early 2021, @elizagriswold told me she wanted to write about the rise of Christian nationalism through a little-known Pennsylvania state senator. I grumbled a bit about it. But now Doug Mastriano is the Republican GOP nominee for governor.

— Michael Luo (@michaelluo) May 18, 2022


How Christian Nationalism And The Big Lie Fused To Fuel Doug Mastriano’s Candidacy

That the Christian right is intertwined with a Republican candidate is hardly new. Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, the movement has defined GOP politics. What is new, and increasingly perilous, is that over the ensuing years the movement has become more highly radicalized, a trend that was validated and accelerated by Trump’s candidacy and presidency — and especially by his stolen election lie. A movement that elevated Trump to messianic status and shielded him from his 2019 impeachment was able to convince millions that satanic forces had robbed God’s man in the White House of his anointed perch as the restorer of America’s white Christian heritage. Their duty, as patriotic spiritual warriors, was to go to battle on his behalf.

NEW: Ukraine aid splinters GOP. With the nationalist camp growing larger and louder, most Hill Republicans — from rank & file up to McConnell — are aggressively pushing back on what they see as a disturbing trend toward isolationism.

— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) May 17, 2022

The Guardian:

Fox News suddenly goes quiet on ‘great replacement’ theory after Buffalo shooting

Suspect was allegedly motivated by the theory, but network has barely mentioned gunman’s reasoning, even after Tucker Carlson pushed the concept in more than 400 of his shows

Fox News, according to Oliver Darcy, a media correspondent for CNN, “largely ignored” the fact that the shooter had been inspired by replacement theory. Darcy searched transcripts from Fox News’s shows, and found one brief mention, by Fox News anchor Eric Shawn.

As Americans absorbed news of the shooting and struggled to understand why it had happened, it seemed a glaring omission. But given Carlson and his colleagues’ promotion of the theory, which has been unchecked by Fox News’s top executives, experts see the network as being left in a bind.

“What can they say?” said Matt Gertz, senior fellow at Media Matters for America, a watchdog of rightwing media. “There’s no way for anyone at Fox News to really issue a convincing and compelling, forthright denunciation of great replacement theory, because it’s being discussed on the network’s primetime hour on a near constant basis.”

Finnish parliament votes: 🇫🇮 Independence declaration 1917 100-88 🇪🇺 EU membership 1994: 152-45 🪖 #Nato membership 2022: 188-8

— adam seven 🇫🇮 🇪🇺 (@a7_FIN_SWE) May 17, 2022

NBC News:

Trump waded into GOP primaries. Democrats hope he sticks around.

The former president’s presence is being increasingly felt in Democrats’ midterm message as they look to leverage his divisiveness to their advantage in yet another election.

Donald Trump has inserted himself into the Republican primaries this week in Pennsylvania, much to the chagrin of some GOP members there, who think he may have picked the wrong candidates and needlessly shuffled the race.

Democrats, however, aren't so sure they've got a problem with the former president making himself an outsize figure in the races there or nationwide, as they try to leverage his divisiveness to their advantage in yet another election.

Democrats are largely still trying to settle on exactly what role Trump should play in their campaigns as they defend razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate this fall.

But there is a growing acknowledgement that leveraging voters’ lingering distaste from the Trump years may be among their best strategies for turning out their voters in November, particularly with their policy agenda falling short in areas like lowering the cost of prescription drugs and passing voting rights legislation.

I don’t think I’ve read a better summary of what US political journalists should be doing that also makes clear what a terrible job they’re doing now. By Dan @froomkin in @thenation

— Will of the Northern Loons 🇺🇸🇸🇪🌻🇺🇦 (@WMRine) May 17, 2022

David Leonhardt/The New York Times:

The Right’s Violence Problem

The Buffalo killings are part of a pattern: Most extremist violence in the U.S. comes from the political right.

As this data shows, the American political right has a violence problem that has no equivalent on the left. And the 10 victims in Buffalo this past weekend are now part of this toll. “Right-wing extremist violence is our biggest threat,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the ADL, has written. “The numbers don’t lie.”

What was Pompeo’s brain trust doing during the Jan. 6 insurrection? One of Pompeo’s State Department assistants was meeting these folks

— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) May 17, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Anatomy of a French presidential win

Adam Gopnik/New Yorker:

The Real Meaning of Emmanuel Macron’s Victory

The fact is that, in difficult circumstances, Macron has managed to win the Presidency twice.
[Marine] Le Pen did not get an enormous vote as a far-right extremist; she got an exceptionally large, though losing, share by pretending not to be a far-right extremist. She also benefited enormously from the presence of [Eric] Zemmour, who was so much further right and so unapologetically anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant that Le Pen seemed temperate by comparison. The whole force, and successful burden, of Macron’s remarks as the campaign ended was to remind people who Le Pen really is, and what her family legacy has been—though struggling to differentiate herself from her openly fascistic-minded father, she inherited her position mainly because of her family name—and what she really stood for. He did, and the French understood the reminder.

„The decisions we make will also kill people. With the weapons we send, people will be killed, in this case Russian soldiers.“ Quite extraordinary for German politics how clearly Habeck has been communicating in this crisis and explaining fraught and complex issues.

— Kai Kupferschmidt (@kakape) April 28, 2022

Walter Shapiro/TNR:

The U.S. Needs an Endgame in the Russia-Ukraine War

So far, Biden and the public are fully behind sending arms to fight Russia. But will the time come for a Putin-appeasing peace treaty?

Still, the quest for total victory in Ukraine is premised on the belief that defeat is the best deterrent. Having forged NATO unity and a surprising degree of economic sacrifice by the Europeans, Putin should be under no illusions that next time will be easier. The Ukraine war is one of those rare times when the morally right course—forcing Russia to retreat from all of Ukraine—is also the approach that appears to make the most strategic sense. There are no certainties in an irrational war seemingly brought on by Putin’s passion to restore the Soviet Union. But America should do everything in its power—short of sending troops—to bring victory parades to Kyiv.

Major shake-up in Bulgaria, as the leading coalition partner - previously seen as dependent on the "pacifist" president Radev - took a clear pro-Ukraine stance today and attacked the president in "presuming that Russia will win this war, while we think Ukraine will win"

— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) April 27, 2022

Emily Hoge/Lawfare:

The Legacy of the Soviet Afghan War and Its Role in the Ukrainian Invasion

The unifying feature of the Afghan movement was a sense of victimization. Regardless of their politics, Afghan veterans were united by the feeling that they had been betrayed: by a government that sent them to a fight in a disastrous war, by people who now said they were murderers, by the fact that they weren’t considered heroes in the way that World War II veterans were, and by the lack of recognition and benefits they had expected and that were granted to veterans of other wars. In response, they started founding political and mutual aid organizations built around the idea that veterans of Afghanistan were and should be loyal to each other above all else. They felt they didn’t owe anything to and couldn’t rely on anyone but fellow soldiers of complicated wars—members of an international “combat brotherhood” that included them, veterans of Vietnam, and eventually veterans of the conflict in Chechnya and other “local wars.” Above all, they felt that they couldn’t rely on the state, the Soviet state or later the Russian state, to take care of their needs and would take care of each other themselves.

Yet by 2014, when I sent my email for my PTSD research, Afghan veterans’ groups had become loyal advocates of the government, frequently represented at and organizers of pro-Kremlin rallies. Afghan veterans’ groups gathered and trained volunteers to send to Crimea and the Donbas in 2014. Some Russian “volunteers” wounded there were treated in a sanatorium belonging to an Afghan veterans’ group, according to a 2014 interview with fighters published by a now-defunct Russian-language website. Veterans’ groups were some of the first Russian organizations to establish branches in Crimea after its annexation. Many Afghan veterans, even though they were mostly in their 50s and 60s, went to fight in eastern Ukraine themselves.

Patrushev. "If anything today unites the peoples living in Ukraine, it is only the fear of the atrocities of the nationalist battalions...the result of the policy of the West and the Kyiv regime under its control can only be the disintegration of Ukraine into several states."

— Shashank Joshi (@shashj) April 27, 2022

William Saletan/Bulwark:

The Most Damning Part of the Meadows Texts

He knew the president was lying. And he kept helping to spread the lies anyway.
We’ve known for a long time, based on audits, investigations, and court reviews, that Donald Trump’s allegations about massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election are false. We also know, based on firsthand accounts from Trump’s former aides, attorneys, and political allies, that Trump’s advisers repeatedly told him the allegations were false. That leaves two possibilities: Either Trump is lying, or he’s trying to overthrow the government based on an impenetrable delusion. Take your pick.

Now we’re compiling similar evidence against Mark Meadows, who was Trump’s chief of staff during the election. He, too, knew Trump’s accusations were false. And instead of telling the truth, Meadows helped spread the lies.

The latest evidence comes from a batch of more than 2,000 text messages, revealed by CNN that were sent to or from Meadows between November 3, 2020, and January 20, 2021. Three of the exchanges are particularly instructive: one in early November of that year, another in late November, and a third in early December.

Do you know many people who publicly support Putin, who continue to praise and love him even now? Who stay loyal to Putin even after the massacres in Bucha and Irpin, after mass civilian killings and rapes? It's incomprehensible, right?

— Maria Pevchikh (@pevchikh) April 27, 2022

Today I will tell you the story of the star Russian maestro Valery Gergiev. The celebrity conductor who headed the London Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and many others. He was once the most wanted guest at La Scala, The Met Opera, Grand Opera, everywhere.

— Maria Pevchikh (@pevchikh) April 27, 2022


Multiple RNC staffers have spoken to Jan. 6 panel, sources say House investigators have questions about the party’s messaging and fundraising in the weeks after the 2020 election.

Most of the officials who have spoken with investigators are former employees who worked during the 2020 election cycle, including the fraught period between Election Day and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, one of the people said.

That means the committee has more insight than previously known into the Republican Party’s activity in the lead-up to January 6. The interviews underscore the select committee’s interest in how political messaging by the national GOP apparatus — which partnered with the Trump campaign on digital fundraising efforts — may have stoked falsehoods about the 2020 election.

They also want to know just how successful one particular email campaign was at getting users to click through to donation websites. Those emails prompted people to give money based on false claims the election was stolen, the select committee has emphasized.

Committee investigators have said they’re interested in who authorized the RNC’s specific messaging about the election outcome and whether it played a role in stoking the violent mob that breached the Capitol on Jan. 6.

New: discussions involving the Trump WH RE using emergency powers have become an imp but little-known part of the J6 cmte's investigation. Our dive into all the talk abt helping Trump strong-arm his way past an electoral defeat, w @jdawsey1 & @thamburger:

— Jacqueline Alemany (@JaxAlemany) April 27, 2022

Mark Liebovitch/Atlantic:

Just Call Trump a Loser

His record is clear. Some nervy Republican challenger should say so.

But if Trump does decide to inflict himself on another race, he will enter as the clear Republican favorite, enjoying a presumption of invincibility inside the GOP. This has engendered a belief that anyone who challenges Trump must tread lightly, or end up like the roadkill that his primary opponents became in 2016.

That notion is outdated.

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

NEW: Russia's war in Ukraine has turned to the cloudy Donbas, putting low-flying fighter jets in missile range. The change has forced both Russia & Ukraine to turn to drones to keep a watchful eye in the sky and hit targets on the ground.

— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) April 27, 2022

Morning Consult:

Most Governors Facing Re-Election This Year Are Quite Popular Democrats in Rhode Island, Wisconsin and New Mexico have the weakest job approval ratings of governors up in 2022

Most governors facing re-election in November are beginning the year popular with voters in their states, according to Morning Consult Political Intelligence quarterly tracking. And despite declines over the past year, a handful of Republicans among them are some of the most-liked governors in the country

Ex-Georgian leader who lost war against Russia thinks Ukraine will prevail

— Reuters (@Reuters) April 28, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The state of the Union is sound, but Europe is at war

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

Five vile things Trump did to Zelensky and Ukraine that you forgot about

The obvious rejoinder to this spin is that Trump got impeached for withholding military aid to strong-arm Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into manufacturing propaganda to help Trump’s reelection. This came even as Zelensky pleaded for help against Russian aggression, which the world is now witnessing unfold in all its horror.

But the focus only on that episode risks oversimplifying the story. It casts this recent history as being mainly about Trump’s personal corruption, i.e., his effort to use foreign policy to smear his campaign opponent.

Belarusians have formed at least five military units in #Ukraine right now and are fighting alongside Ukrainians. Many of them could have fled Ukraine and stayed safe but they decided to support them. Here is an appeal to the Belarusian military not to go to war in Ukraine.

— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) March 1, 2022

Some news pieces to catch you up:

NY Times:

Senior EU officials tell me the EU is considering offering qualified Russian 🇷🇺 citizens EU 🇪🇺 passports - to accelerate Russian economic brain drain This is just one of many innovative measures being considered to complement economic sanctions now in place 🇪🇺🇺🇦

— Mujtaba (Mij) Rahman (@Mij_Europe) March 1, 2022


In just 72 hours, Europe overhauled its entire post-Cold War relationship with Russia

Just last week, many European countries were still so somnolent about the threat Russia posed to Ukraine that Germany’s spy chief was caught unawares in Kyiv when the Kremlin invasion started. He had to be extracted in a special operation.

But over just a handful of days, Europe has been shocked out of a post-Cold War era — and state of mind — in which it left many of the democratic world’s most burning security problems to the United States.

Switzerland no longer neutral? That’s not as shocking as Germany deciding to rearm.

The wording by French finance minister @BrunoLeMaire is important. “We are going to wage a total economic and financial war on Russia”

— Andrew S. Weiss (@andrewsweiss) March 1, 2022

Mitchell A Orenstein/Bulwark:

What Changed Germany’s Mind

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s decision to give weapons to Ukraine overturned decades of tradition.

Until yesterday, Germany remained extremely reluctant to create even the faintest appearance that it was threatening Russia militarily—hence its refusal even to allow overflight rights to NATO allies exporting arms to Ukraine. For its own domestic and moral reasons, Germany needed to be a peacemaker to the last.

Putin’s blatant and unprovoked assault on Ukraine changed that calculus. Now, no one in their right mind could possibly blame Germany, so it is finally safe to act. Germany can play a key role as a supporter of Ukraine, both by sending arms to help the poor people in Kyiv and throughout the country and by rearming itself, as Scholz has promised to do, to meet the obvious threat from Russia.

The new era has long been coming. For years, Germany’s leaders, committed to good relations, studiously refused to treat Russia as a threat, but rather as a potential partner. Putin made it easy for them to change their minds.

In decades past, when America’s national interest was at stake, especially with a threat from abroad, members of both parties showed solidarity and support for the president. It is fundamental patriotism. Now lacking among a majority of congressional Republicans.

— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) March 2, 2022

David Dayen/TAP:

Biden Wants to Take Down the Ocean Shipping Cartel

New initiatives would beef up investigations into anti-competitive conduct from the industry, which is enjoying astronomical profits.

President Biden will target the ocean shipping cartel in tomorrow night’s State of the Union address, outlining new steps to crack down on suspected anti-competitive behavior priced into the cost of every transported good, which has led to astronomical profits for the industry.

The steps include an executive action to commence investigations into ocean shipping excess profit-taking, and a legislative recommendation to bolster the Ocean Shipping Reform Act now working its way through Congress by taking away the industry’s antitrust exemption for so-called “ocean shipping alliances.”

The executive action results from a joint agreement between the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the main regulator of ocean carriers, and the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department. Under the arrangement, the Antitrust Division will essentially act as the FMC’s counsel in investigating conduct in the industry, providing the lawyer-power for what would otherwise be an impossible task for an understaffed and under-resourced agency.

This is a powerful speech and everyone should listen. But I'm also interested in the framing of it. Is there any evidence this is not just a random room with a chair and a flag? Plus the shot is so low, as if hiding the absence of a desk or something else.

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) March 1, 2022

David Remnick/New Yorker:

The Ambassador Caught Between Ukraine and Trump

In her first major interview since testifying against Trump, Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, discusses Russia’s war on the nation and Trump’s attack on her.

How far will Putin take this? The invasion hasn’t gone the way he would’ve liked, but maybe time is on his side. The sheer volume of arms is on his side. What does he want here?

I think he wants to control Ukraine. When I was in the country, from 2016 to 2019, I always felt that he didn’t really want to own Ukraine, because then there’s at least a modicum of responsibility. He would have to provide services. But he wanted to make sure that Ukraine didn’t have the power of self-determination. He wanted to keep it in his sphere of influence. What he discovered—due, ironically, to his own actions, particularly the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of the Donbass—was that he is the single biggest driver since independence, in 1991, of bringing the Ukrainian people together.

As Zelensky fights for his country, for democracy, for his own life, it's crucial that Trump & the GOP hacks who defended his alliance with Putin & his criminal behaviors toward Ukraine be named, quoted, & relentlessly reminded of their votes on impeachment and Jan. 6.

— Joe Hagan (@joehagansays) March 1, 2022

John Cassidy/New Yorker:

How Vladimir Putin Miscalculated the Economic Cost of Invading Ukraine

The Russian leader apparently failed to anticipate the unprecedented targeting of the Central Bank of Russia, a step that has battered the ruble and shaken the country’s financial system.

In wartime, it is wise to treat statements from all sides skeptically. In this case, we don’t need to rely on the assessments of anonymous U.S. officials. When the international markets opened on Monday morning, the value of Russia’s currency plunged by a third. To stem the decline, the Russian Central Bank more than doubled its key interest rate, from 9.5 per cent to twenty per cent, and ordered Russian exporting companies to sell foreign currencies and buy rubles. These desperate moves helped trim losses, but at the close of trading in Moscow the ruble was still down by almost twenty per cent—a huge decline for any currency. In a briefing with reporters, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, conceded that “economic reality had significantly changed.”

In Washington, meanwhile, the Biden Administration intensified its economic offensive by imposing a freeze on the Central Bank of Russia’s assets held in U.S. financial institutions. The Treasury Department also prohibited any U.S. person, including American banks and businesses, from engaging in transactions with Russia’s Central Bank, finance ministry, or sovereign wealth fund. “This action effectively immobilizes any assets of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation held in the United States or by U.S. persons, wherever located,” the Treasury said, in a statement announcing the new policy. In London, the U.K government has introduced a policy along the same lines.

It wasn’t immediately clear just how much money the Central Bank of Russia still holds in New York, London, and other Western financial centers—and which it will no longer be able to access. (According to some estimates, about two-thirds of Russian reserves are now blocked off in countries that have introduced sanctions.) Even so, experts on economic sanctions described the targeting as unprecedented and highly effective. “The G-7 sanctions against the Russian Central Bank, not the swift sanctions, are the real hammer, and they’re showing effect,” Jonathan Hackenbroich, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said. “Russia’s Central Bank might struggle to fight massive inflation and panic even after it doubled interest rates and introduced capital controls.”

First it was 3,000. Then it was 500. Now they don’t even want to talk numbers.

— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) March 1, 2022

I don’t know whether the alleged Zelensky assassination plot was, in fact, foiled by FSB snitches, as the Ukrainians say. But saying the tip came from with the FSB itself is maximally designed to send the FSB into a counterintelligence ouroboros.

— Zach Dorfman (@zachsdorfman) March 1, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Omicron is declining around the world, but still presents danger

Tim Miller/Bulwark:

Ghostface Trump Lives and Susan Collins Keeps Letting Him

The Good Republican won’t rule out Trump 2024.

It was true in the first impeachment when every Senate Republican except Mitt Romney knew exactly how bad the Ukrainian drug deal was but passed the buck to voters anyway, hoping the people would send Trump packing.

It was true in the second impeachment, when 17 Republican senators had the ability to banish him from federal office permanently but instead made a calculation that the party couldn’t survive the voter backlash. So they made sternly worded speeches while letting Trump off the hook.

It was true when Lindsey Graham was getting shouted down for his Trump apostasy in an airport terminal and then tucked his tail and returned to his dominant’s golf cart.

And it was true this weekend when Good Republican Dan Crenshaw showed up to Trump’s pro-insurrection rally in Texas on Saturday and Double Plus Good Republican Susan Collins sat down with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

Amid all those moments of choosing there have been sporadic bouts of courage from a handful of Republicans who really were willing to risk their careers. But they have been the exceptions that proved the rule.

The Omicron wave begins a global descent after >90 million confirmed cases in 10 weeks, more than all of 2020, as reported by @DrTedros @OurWorldInData

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) February 1, 2022


Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children under 5 could be available by the end of February, people with knowledge say

Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, the manufacturers of the vaccine, are expected to submit to the Food and Drug Administration as early as Tuesday a request for emergency-use authorization for the vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old, which would make it the first vaccine available for that age group. Older children already can receive the shot.

The FDA urged the companies to submit the application so that regulators could begin reviewing the two-shot data, according to the knowledgeable individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The companies in the last few months have been testing a third dose, following disappointing results for the two-shot regimen showing that while the vaccine is safe, two doses did not provide a strong enough immune response in all age groups. But data on a third shot will not be available until at least late March. Once that information is submitted, regulators are expected to authorize a third dose of the pediatric vaccine.

I know the cool kids like to say "it's not the crime, it's the cover-up," but no, really, the crime is the worse part. And you can, in fact, have a crime even if the criminal is too stupid to cover it up. Honest!

— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) January 31, 2022

Aaron Blake/WaPo:

Trump toys with the mob — again

In Texas, Trump encouraged people to hold protests over his legal jeopardy and suggested he would pardon Jan. 6 rioters who took such a message to its extreme

What’s the worst that could happen?

Former president Donald Trump on Saturday night sent his strongest signal to date that he will fight his legal problems outside of a court of law. He encouraged people to engage in massive demonstrations in jurisdictions pursuing criminal investigations against him over Jan. 6 and tax-related issues. Then, minutes later, he said that if he’s reinstalled as president, he would consider pardoning some of the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.

Both Trump comments were, as with many earlier ones about ongoing legal matters, carefully tailored. (Trump seemed to be reading them off a teleprompter rather than speaking extemporaneously.) The combination of the two comments, though, can’t help but conjure a repeat — or at least the suggestive prospect of a repeat — of the kind of lawlessness we saw just over a year ago.

“If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protests we have ever had in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere,” Trump said, “because our country and our elections are corrupt.”

Reply from @keir_starmer in full. To Conservative MPs, he says: "Continuing his leadership will mean further misconduct, cover up and deceit. "It is only they that can end this farce. The eyes of the country are upon them. They will be judged by the decisions they take now."

— Best for Britain (@BestForBritain) January 31, 2022


4.3 million Americans left their jobs in December as omicron variant disrupted everything

The high number of people leaving their jobs came amid immense pressure on workers and parents, many of whom had to juggle multiple responsibilities as case numbers surged at the end of 2021.

The elevated quitting data, which represented nearly three percent of the country’s employed population, is another window into how the labor market’s patterns have been upended by the pandemic.

While the crisis was originally marked by mass joblessness — more than 20 million people lost their jobs in the earliest days of the pandemic, many temporarily — 2021 was defined by a strong labor market recovery as well as complaints by employers about difficulty finding available workers.

That shortage has meant that many companies have been racing to compete with each other for workers, raising wages, adding cash bonuses and sweetening the pot in other ways to try to attract applicants. And that in turn has created a climate for workers to have more leverage and options than perhaps any other time in recent history.

Taking the Trump cue: incorporating violence and intimidation as a core of the strategy for taking and holding power. And hardly any R elected or conservative commentators will acknowledge it’s happening, much less mobilize in opposition to it. Extremist wing too big to confront

— Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) January 31, 2022

Bill Scher/Washington Monthly:

What Message Should Biden Use in the Midterms?

Blaming Republicans can only get you so far. The president needs to embrace his bipartisan successes and lay out a plan for more.

Biden wants it both ways: He wants credit for breaking partisan gridlock, and he wants to tag Republicans for worsening partisan gridlock. But that doesn’t make for a coherent midterm message. Biden and the Democrats need to choose between selling a bipartisan success story or blaming Republicans and apostate Dems for screwing everything up.

You can understand why Biden attacks Republicans more than he applauds them. Even the most committed compromiser puts on the gloves in campaign season. Moreover, Democrats would like to take the ambitious ideas that hit a wall of Republican opposition in the past year and use them in November to stimulate turnout—ideas such as voting rights protections, paid family leave, and free community college. Running on such a platform requires drawing a clear and partisan contrast.

Yet this sharp-elbowed partisan strategy is out of whack with how Biden ran in 2020 and with what voters still want today.

I write this because as the incumbent party in the midterms we will be assessed on whether we made things better, as promised. And we have. We need to say so. It's not been easy, but things are better. Yes, there is still more to do. But things are better.

— Simon Rosenberg (@SimonWDC) February 1, 2022

Monmouth Poll:

Time to Accept Covid and Move On?

Fully 7 in 10 Americans (70%) agree with the sentiment that “it’s time we accept that Covid is here to stay and we just need to get on with our lives” – including 78% of those who report having gotten Covid and 65% of those who say they have not been infected. The main difference in the sense that it is time to move on is due to partisanship – ranging from 89% of Republicans and 71% of independents to 47% of Democrats. Only one-third of the public (34%) feels the country will get the outbreak under control and return to normal by the end of the year. In fact, more than 1 in 4 (28%) now believe a return to normalcy will never happen, which is up from 22% who felt this way in September and just 6% who were similarly pessimistic exactly a year ago.

“Americans’ worries about Covid haven’t gone away. It seems more to be a realization that we are not going to get this virus under control in a way that we thought was possible just last year,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Four in 10 Americans (40%) report that they have had Covid – or think they have had it – since the pandemic began, including 27% who said their infection was confirmed with a test. About one-third (36%) of people who have been vaccinated report also being infected with Covid (note: the poll did not ask whether infection occurred before or after vaccination) and about 6 in 10 (61%) of those who have not gotten a shot say they have been infected with the virus.

Half the public is either very (23%) or somewhat (27%) concerned about catching one of the new Covid variants. This concern includes 58% of those who have not had Covid, but also includes 38% of those who have already had it. The number of adults who are very concerned about catching a new variant is up somewhat from early December (14%) before the omicron variant really hit the U.S. Similarly, the number of people who are very concerned about a family member becoming seriously ill from the virus (38%) has increased since December (30%), but it is still lower than concern in September (45%) when the delta variant was spreading.

It's fine to question research, seek out opposing viewpoints, test alternative theories, the reason it's dumb to carry on with this w/ vaccines is you have ongoing realtime evidence from literally billions of people all over the entire world and it all keeps saying the same thing

— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) January 31, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Is Boris Johnson facing a no confidence vote?

The Independent:

What is a no confidence motion and what could it mean for Boris Johnson?

Liberal Democrats have called for Conservatives to back vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson

A motion of no confidence has been laid down by the Liberal Democrats as they seek to topple the Boris Johnson administration following a litany of claims of coronavirus rule-breaking in No 10.

Here is a look at what the Lib Dems are proposing, what a no confidence vote entails and how it works.

People are saying “future prime minister” but I’m not sure there’s a need to wait. Give her a go now,

— Niall Stanage (@NiallStanage) January 18, 2022

NY Times:

Omicron cases may be peaking in some U.S. states, but COVID-19 is overwhelming hospitals

The United States is averaging over 790,000 new daily cases, a tally that includes an artificially low count on Monday, when many states did not release new data because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. Deaths now exceed 1,900 a day, up 54 percent over the past two weeks.

Even before the holiday weekend, daily cases had peaked in New York and other Northeastern states. According to a New York Times database, cases in the region peaked on Jan. 10-11.

the funniest part of the 2011 comedy "Contagion" is when they invent a lifesaving vaccine at the end, and then everyone takes the vaccine. hahahaha fantastic writing

— Rob DenBleyker (@RobDenBleyker) December 21, 2021

You can get your free at-home test kits here.

Julia Azari/FiveThirtyEight:

What Does It Mean If Republicans Won’t Debate?

What should we think about this development?

For starters, the RNC’s reasons to prohibit participation in the debates are important. And that’s because they fall in line with an important strain of Trumpism: a claim to being the victims of unfair treatment. To be fair, evidence does show that some important cultural institutions, including the news media, are more likely to be populated by Democrats than Republicans, but conflict between presidential campaigns and debate organizers about the journalists who moderate the debates is hardly one-sided — or new. After all, the purpose of debates is to allow voters to see candidates perform under pressure and to evaluate their responses — tension with the campaigns on how to best facilitate this is to be expected. But this move represents the Trumpist Republican Party only further rejecting established institutions and democratic practices.

I just keep coming back to this: The Republican Party has gone stark-raving brown-shirt crazy but is still expected to win back Congress next year and political journalists are going yeah, OK, instead of going WHAT THE FUCK??? AAAAH!

— Dan Froomkin/ (@froomkin) January 16, 2022

Ron Brownstein/The Atlantic:

How Manchin and Sinema Completed a Conservative Vision

A nationwide standard of voting rights now seems like a pipe dream.

Those decisions have had an enormous practical impact on the rules for American elections. But many voting-rights advocates say that the rulings have been equally important in sending a signal to Republican-controlled states that the Supreme Court majority is unlikely to stand in their way if they impose new restrictions on voting or extreme partisan gerrymanders in congressional and state legislative districts.

Democrats are still pressing the two senators to reconsider their decision before this week’s votes. Barring an unlikely last-minute reversal of their position, Manchin and Sinema have effectively blocked federal voting-rights legislation by insisting that it remain subject to a filibuster that provides Senate Republicans a veto. And that could trigger a renewed red-state offensive.

Hawley: the mess made itself.

— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) January 18, 2022

David Rothkopf/Twitter:

I'm troubled by the argument I've seen to often recently from DC pundit-types, most well-meaning, that the Dems and Biden have made a mistake by embracing a left or progressive agenda and that they should shift to the center, their "true" base. This is based on a fallacy. 
Everything Biden has done has been supported by either all Dems or all Dems minus one or two Dem Senators. Does this analysis mean that 48 out of 50 Senators are "left" and that Biden needs to adjust his policies to suit the other two? 
Does it mean that he should be adjusting his policies to win the votes of so-called "centrist" GOPers. You know, the ones who are uniformly voting against the most basic protections for democracy & who have voted against measure after measure supported by most Americans? 
DC is a donut. There is no "center" in DC politics. There are two parties & a handful of people caught between them. As for the country as a whole, there is of course a center. There are independents & on issue after issue, the things Biden has supported are supported by them. 

France's parliament has approved a law that will ban unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports arenas, and other public venues.

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 18, 2022

Jennifer Rubin/WaPo:

Dear media: Stop giving Republicans the benefit of the doubt

The story line was set: Democrats blew it by closing schools; Youngkin was “smart” to pose as a normal Republican. As The New York Times cooed: “Many conservatives see his campaign as providing a template for how to delicately embrace Trumpism in blue states.”

Delicately? Youngkin was always serious about the MAGA camp’s culture wars, as he made abundantly clear on day one of his governorship.

Shortly after his inauguration, Youngkin promptly banned critical race theory from Virginia curriculums, even though it isn’t taught in schools, thereby flaunting his willingness to cater to White grievance in a state infamous for its resistance to desegregation. He described what would be removed from school curriculum: “All of the principles of critical race theory, the fundamental building blocks of actually accusing one group of being oppressors and another of being oppressed, of actually burdening children today for sins of the past."

Listening to Youngkin, one might never know that slavery and Jim Crow are woven into the Commonwealth’s history and are relevant to ongoing racial disparities in wealth, education, health and homeownership. His airbrushed version of history is the standard MAGA effort to cater to White supremacists and wreak havoc in the schools. If only the media had taken him seriously during the campaign.

Pretty big difference US vs UK in this wave. Vaccination differences likely a big part of it.

— Stefan Schubert (@StefanFSchubert) January 16, 2022

A lot of regional charts looking exactly like those South Africa charts from a month ago.

— Joe Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) January 18, 2022