Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: With the election slipping away, Trump reaches for a fantasy

Trailing in the polls and with Republicans in disarray over the unemployment insurance extensions and the contracting economy, Donald Trump tweeted about delaying the elections. And it was totally on brand: a thing someone never should do, he did.

With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020

The reaction was swift and near-universal.

The President's tweet gives life to the theory many have been talking about for over a year now: that the President may attempt to disrupt our free & fair elections, or a transition in power. It sent a shiver down my spine, as I hope it does all of my colleagues of both parties.

— Rep. Elissa Slotkin (@RepSlotkin) July 30, 2020

And even though the President doesn�t have the authority to postpone the election, the self-serving nature of his comments & the way they upend the very tenets of what it means to be American, is so disheartening. Our elections aren�t about you, Mr. President. They�re about us.

— Rep. Elissa Slotkin (@RepSlotkin) July 30, 2020

That they are.

Daily Beast:

‘He’s Terrified of Losing’—Trump Goes Into Hyperdrive to Delegitimize The Election

As much of the political world went into an uproar over Donald Trump floating the idea of delaying the November election, inside the president’s orbit, his Thursday morning tweet suggesting just that was seen as something far narrower and more strategically focused.

The president isn’t really trying to delay the vote. He is trying to preemptively delegitimize the likely results.

MORE: Former Pres. Barack Obama: "If all this takes eliminating the filibuster�another Jim Crow relic�in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, than that's what we should do."

— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) July 30, 2020


U.S. suffered worst quarterly contraction on record as virus ravages economy

When the economy was tumbling in the second quarter, Trump pumped up the third quarter. Now the high hopes are slowly deflating.

The U.S. economy crashed in historic fashion this year — shrinking at a nearly 33 percent annualized pace in the second quarter — as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged businesses and sent joblessness soaring. The question now for President Donald Trump, trailing in the polls and facing a daunting reelection effort, is just how much conditions can snap back in the months leading up to Election Day.

At least for the moment, the spike in Covid-19 cases, the potential for fresh trouble this fall and a bitter fight over how to pump more federal money into the ailing economy suggest the sharp bounce-back Trump is counting on may not show up in a way he envisions.

Watch the LDS vote in Arizona

— Bill Scher (@billscher) July 30, 2020


Does $600 a Week Make People Shirk? Evidence Is No

Yale study challenges Republican theory that expanded jobless benefits discourage people from working.

It’s a bit surprising that extra benefits don’t seem to raise unemployment, considering that many workers get a higher income from unemployment insurance than they got from working. One reason could be that workers who quit rather than being laid off aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance. They’re also required to keep looking for work, and they can lose their benefits if they refuse a “suitable” offer. On top of that, workers presumably realize that an employer’s paycheck is a better long-term bet than a check from the government that’s designed to be temporary.

"Nobody likes me": Trump usually pretends that he's wildly popular. Yesterday, however, overcome by self-pity, he slipped and told the truth about his standing.

— Steve Benen (@stevebenen) July 29, 2020

Henry Olsen/WaPo:

Sorry, Republicans. The polls really are that bad.

Many Republicans are responding with disbelief to polls showing President Trump well behind former vice president Joe Biden nationally and in all the swing states. Some say the polls are undercounting Republicans, while others cite 2016 as evidence that the polls are just wrong. Sadly, neither explanation holds water.

The evidence that polls undercount Republicans is slim at best. Five of the seven matchup polls between Trump and Biden in the RealClearPolitics average as of Tuesday morning have cross-tabulations that show the share of Republicans in their samples. Those shares range from a low of 24 percent to a high of 36 percent, with an average of 31 percent. That’s not far below the 33 percent GOP share in the 2016 presidential election exit polls, and the difference between the two cannot explain Trump’s massive deficit.

See also Nate Cohn/NY Times:

Are the Polls Missing Republican Voters?

Registered Republicans were actually more likely than registered Democrats to respond to the Times/Siena survey.

If polls using partisan characteristics from voter registration files showed a fundamentally different race, this could be a sign that the other polls were biased on partisanship. But the recent surveys that are weighted by party registration or primary vote history offer nearly the same picture as polls that are not. Arguably, they offer a picture even worse for Republicans.

Can a reporter please ask Trump about reports of white supremacists inciting violence across the country? MN: VA: DHS memo on this:

— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) July 29, 2020

Dave Grohl/Atlantic:

In Defense of Our Teachers

When it comes to the daunting question of reopening schools, America’s educators deserve a plan, not a trap.

It takes a certain kind of person to devote their life to this difficult and often-thankless job. I know because I was raised in a community of them. I have mowed their lawns, painted their apartments, even babysat their children, and I’m convinced that they are as essential as any other essential workers. Some even raise rock stars! Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Adam Levine, Josh Groban, and Haim are all children of school workers (with hopefully more academically rewarding results than mine). Over the years, I have come to notice that teachers share a special bond, because there aren’t too many people who truly understand their unique challenges—challenges that go far beyond just pen and paper. Today, those challenges could mean life or death for some.

Federalist Society cofounder backed Trump during Mueller and impeachment: "But this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president�s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate."

— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) July 30, 2020


Misinformation on coronavirus is proving highly contagious

As the world races to find a vaccine and a treatment for COVID-19, there is seemingly no antidote in sight for the burgeoning outbreak of coronavirus conspiracy theories, hoaxes, anti-mask myths and sham cures.

The phenomenon, unfolding largely on social media, escalated this week when President Donald Trump retweeted a false video about an anti-malaria drug being a cure for the virus and it was revealed that Russian intelligence is spreading disinformation about the crisis through English-language websites.

Experts worry the torrent of bad information is dangerously undermining efforts to slow the virus, whose death toll in the U.S. hit 150,000 Wednesday, by far the highest in the world, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Over a half-million people have died in the rest of the world.

The House Minority Leader accidentally calls one of his own, "Congressman Covid."

— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) July 29, 2020

Katherine Eban/Vanity Fair:

How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air”

This spring, a team working under the president's son-in-law produced a plan for an aggressive, coordinated national COVID-19 response that could have brought the pandemic under control. So why did the White House spike it in favor of a shambolic 50-state response

Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.

James M. Lawson: "Let all the people of the USA determine that we will not be long as our economy is shaped not by freedom but by plantation capitalism that continues to cause domination and control rather than access and liberty and equality. "

— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) July 30, 2020

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”

Jamelle Bouie/NY times:

To Overturn Trump, We Need to Overturn White Supremacy

For that to happen, some monuments — and the historical myths they supported — are going to have to come down.

Another way to put this observation is that police brutality, the proximate cause of these protests, is simply an acute instance of the many ways in which the lives of black Americans (and other groups) are degraded and devalued. And while the most consequential form this degradation takes are material — the Covid-19 crisis, for example, has revealed to many Americans the extent to which black lives are still shaped by a deep racial inequality that leaves them disproportionately vulnerable to illness and premature death — there are also many symbolic statements of black worth, or the lack thereof, out there for all to see.

It’s not overreach, it’s overdue.

Great chart from @aedwardslevy on opinion on police reforms.

— Natalie Jackson (@nataliemj10) June 12, 2020

Andrea Benjamin/WaPo:

Polls show strong support for the protests — and also for how police handled them

Americans have a history of supporting causes in the abstract, then retreating.

Beyond the direct expression of outrage, one purpose of protests is to sway public opinion. By that standard, the demonstrations against police violence that followed the killing of George Floyd in police custody appear to have been successful — at least by some measures: A Washington Post-Schar School poll released this past week found that 69 percent of Americans think Floyd’s killing signals a broader problem within law enforcement, compared with 29 percent who consider it to be an isolated incident.

That represents a significant change from 2014, when a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that only 43 percent of Americans felt that the killing of unarmed African American men in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City signified a broader problem (compared with 51 percent who thought they were isolated affairs). The new Post-Schar School poll also found that a large majority of Americans, 74 percent, generally back the protests — a trend that extended even to Republicans, 53 percent of whom support them. Echoing other commentators, Slate said the polling suggested that the Black Lives Matter movement “has made staggering gains in just two weeks.”

There may be reasons for optimism among those who, like me, believe strongly in curbing police violence, but we should also be cautious in interpreting the polls. Declarations of a revolution in American consciousness are premature. For one thing, polls also reveal that a surprisingly high proportion of people thought that police behaved reasonably in response to the protests — despite the footage of the violent clearing of Lafayette Square, the shooting of journalists with pepper guns and the countless baton-beatings that police dished out.

John, we begged you to testify in impeachment. We tried everything, right up until the very last minute of the trial. You persistently refused. Now you want us to feel sorry for you & buy your book? Forget it. #BoycottBolton

— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) June 12, 2020


Most Americans, including Republicans, support sweeping Democratic police reform proposals - Reuters/Ipsos poll

The poll (here) conducted online of 1,113 U.S. adults showed bipartisan support for many of the Democrats' proposals.

For example, 82% of Americans want to ban police from using chokeholds, 83% want to ban racial profiling, and 92% want federal police to be required to wear body cameras.

It also found that 89% of Americans want to require police to give the people they stop their name, badge number and reason for the stop, and 91% support allowing independent investigations of police departments that show patterns of misconduct.

Lots of support for various reforms that would save lives and improve America. But �defunding the police� is underwater 29-49 among African-Americans (26-60 with whites).

— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) June 12, 2020


Trump and NASCAR diverge over the place for symbols of America's racist past

President Donald Trump, upset after catching wind of his own military's openness to changing the names of certain bases honoring Confederate commanders, decreed such a change wouldn't happen on his watch.
NASCAR, responding to an appeal from its only full-time black driver, declared it was banning the Confederate flag at its races, where the historic symbol of Southern secession has been a common sight.
The dueling announcements, made within the same three-hour window, illustrate the entrenched position Trump has staked out as the nation continues to reckon with historic disparities on race and police brutality and as he frets about his diminished political prospects.

According to our forecast, Trump is at 46% in the popular vote today and has a 15% chance of winning. That�s worse than he ever got in our model if we rerun it for 2016. (Graphs on this coming soon.)

— G. Elliott Morris (@gelliottmorris) June 13, 2020

Todd Gitlin/WaPo:

This isn’t 1968. It’s 1969.

Today’s movement more closely resembles the antiwar Moratorium protests than the unrest of the previous year.

Yes, there is something of 1968 in 2020. But the 1968 synapse oversimplifies greatly. The uprising underway now signals a vastly more popular and widespread movement reminiscent of the great outpouring of anti-Vietnam War action in October and November 1969, under the aegis of a national project called the Moratorium, which, amid outrage long in the making, cried out: Enough.

Disgusting. You have a concern with a guideline? Sure, voice it. But to launch ad hominem attacks (or even worse, threats) on public health officials is despicable. These are true public servants. I promise they�re not doing it for the paltry salary or the underfunded office.

— Daniel Liebman MD MBA (@D_Liebman) June 12, 2020

Jennifer Rubin/WaPo:

Republicans have no response to tackle racism

In an inadvertently honest moment on Tuesday, McConnell declared, “None of us have had the experience of being an African American in this country and dealing with this discrimination, which persists here some 50 years after the 1964 civil rights bill and the 1965 civil rights bill.”

In using the pronoun “us,” McConnell appeared to be speaking on behalf of the 52 non-black Republicans, an odd formulation but a telling acknowledgement that they lack the diversity necessary to appreciate the full American experience. Goodness knows they have made little effort to try to educate themselves about systemic racism — as many continue to deny it even exists.

I continue to think that Biden�s core political advantage in this cycle is that none of his opponents believe he has real popular support and thus assume something will sink him. It�s basically the same phenomenon that helped Trump win.

— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) June 12, 2020

Geoffrey Skelley/FiveThirtyEight:

The Latest Swing State Polls Look Good For Biden

Hard as it may be to believe, Election Day is now less than five months away. And at this point, former Vice President Joe Biden has a clear lead over President Trump in the national polls. But recent state-level surveys also give Biden an edge over Trump in a number of key swing states. And of course, how Trump and Biden do at the state level matters the most, as that’s how the outcome in the Electoral College will be decided.

NY Times:

Trump’s Actions Rattle the Military World: ‘I Can’t Support the Man’

“The news of wanting to deploy the military domestically has caused a huge sense of outrage among most families I know,” said Sarah Streyder, the director of the Secure Families Initiative, which advocates diplomacy-first foreign policy and works on behalf of military families. “A lot of military families live on Facebook. Social media is very important for this transient community.”

Numerous military spouses concurred. “From what I see from my friends communicating online, spouses have grown much more vocal in opposition to policies,” said Kate Marsh Lord, a Democrat who is married to a member of the Air Force and lives in Virginia but votes in Ohio. “I have seen more spouses speak out on issues of race and lack of leadership than in my entire 15 years as a military spouse.”

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Excerpts from Trump’s race speech; ditching the ‘welfare queen’ myth

The Abbreviated Pundit Roundup is a regular feature of Daily Kos.

For a portion of my years at the Los Angeles Times, one of my assignments was helping to find and syndicate columnists and edit or supervise the editing of their work. Not columnists published in the Times itself but at other newspapers. I inherited a lot of them, almost exclusively white and mostly conservatives including Mona Charen, Cal Thomas, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Henry Kissinger, and Armstrong Williams, with a handful of moderates or liberals like Robert Reno, William Pfaff, and Jesse Jackson. 

This part of my job was a constant battle with my bosses. Every time I tried to recruit a liberal woman or another person of color, I was told “we already have” syndicated women or we already have a Black columnist. Molly Ivins? I had been told to try to recruit columnists from other syndicates, the kind of raiding all syndicates engaged in at the time, and she was one of my first efforts. She had told me early on in our discussions that if our contract was better than her soon-to-expire contract with Creators Syndicate, she’d sign with us. But “we already have three women,” I was told by my bosses. That wasn’t the argument when I suggested anyone as a possible Latino columnist. We had no syndicated Latinos, liberal or otherwise, when I arrived at the Times and none when I left. They claimed there was not a big enough audience for a syndicated Latino columnist. I did manage to recruit and get approved the lesbian columnist Deb Price.

This situation wasn’t solely bias on the part of my superiors. I heard the same rap from dozens of editorial page and op-ed page editors when trying to interest them in someone I had managed to get past the bosses: “We already have a Black columnist,” “we already have a woman columnist (even though half the time they were talking about Erma Bombeck). 

If I had tried to put forward a columnist as far to the left as, say, Cal Thomas is to the right, I would have been laughed out of the room. In the two decades since then, scores of newspapers have folded and the survivors have deeply downsized their staffs and slashed the number of syndicated columnists when they haven’t eliminated them completely. While there has been somewhat of a shift on some newspaper op-ed pages, the majority of columnists today still range from moderate to ultra-conservative, with rare exceptions, and the proportion who are women or people of color is still far below what it should be. That shift is disturbing to certain folks. As Alex Shepard writes below, “the opinion pages were safe spaces for white, reactionary writers” in the past,” and they aren’t happy with the direction things are going. 

Alex Shepard at The New Republic writes—The Real Snowflakes on the Op-Ed Page:

For years, conservative and centrist columnists have been depicting college campuses as if they were the settings of horror movies. A virus is incubating and spreading. Every year, more and more people are infected with wokeness. The stakes might be small—a misconstrued story about Chinese food and Oberlin College is frequently cited—but, these writers argued, something much scarier is afoot. Every year, more snowflakes enter the real world, spreading cancel culture through every strata of society. Soon, the whole world will be a campus.

The furor following The New York Times’ publication of Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed was, for many of these writers, a vindication. During a town hall meeting on Friday at the Times, in which staffers voiced their outrage and concerns, op-ed columnist Bari Weiss took a victory lap. She tweeted that the debates about political correctness on campus—the debates she had warned about—were now on the front door of the country’s leading newspaper, as well as “other publications and companies across the country.” New York magazine columnist Andrew Sullivan has spent the last week tweeting variations of “We all live on campus now,” the headline of a column he wrote in 2018. National Review was somehow even more histrionic: The headline to a Tuesday David Harsanyi column about the Cotton op-ed described recent events without irony as a “Cultural Revolution.” The big issue for these writers wasn’t systemic racism or police brutality. It was the return of Maoism.

These arguments rest on the idea that liberal democracy is under threat—from an increasingly authoritarian right wing, sure, but also from an increasingly dogmatic left. Sullivan has recirculated a 2019 diatribe about Ibram X. Kendi’’s bestseller How to Be an Anti-Racist, whose recent presence on bestseller lists he has bemoaned. “They seem not to genuinely believe in liberalism, liberal democracy, or persuasion. They have no clear foundational devotion to individual rights or freedom of speech,” he wrote.

Despite all the paeans to liberal democracy, Sullivan and Weiss’s project is a small one. Other anxieties are apparent. For decades, the opinion pages were safe spaces for white, reactionary writers. These writers are lashing out at a loss of impunity, and a rise in editorial standards, that is making opinion journalism stronger.

So Kaepernick kneeling was disrespectful to the vets & members of the U.S. military. However, removing statues of men who took up arms against & murdered/commanded forces who murdered soldiers in the U.S. military is un-American.

— Angela NotValdez Doe (@soygatita11) June 11, 2020

Mara Gay at The New York Times writes—Good Riddance to One of America’s Strongest Police Secrecy Laws:

Protest works.

The large street demonstrations in scores of cities and towns across the country are bringing sudden and sweeping changes to police practices and accountability.

Minneapolis is preparing to disband and rebuild its police department.

California is poised to ban the use of police chokeholds.

Dozens of cities are considering redirecting millions in taxpayer funds from America’s heavily militarized police departments to education, health care, housing and other needs of black and Hispanic neighborhoods that have been underinvested in for generations.

New York took a step toward reform with the repeal Tuesday evening of a state law known as 50-a, a decades-old measure that has allowed the police to keep the disciplinary and personnel records of officers secret. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill. [...]

In New York State, the repeal must be the beginning of changes to policing, not the end. The violent response to largely peaceful protests has pulled back the curtain on what black Americans already knew: that local police departments across the United States, including in New York, are too often abusive and unaccountable to the very people they are supposed to serve. It is time for far-reaching reform.

Dana Milbank at The Washington Post writes—Here is Trump’s speech on race — word for word, alas:

President Trump’s planned address to the nation on race, American Urban Radio’s April Ryan reports, is being written by none other than Stephen Miller, a Trump aide and aficionado of white nationalism.

This is bound to raise a fuhrer. What next? Paul Manafort drafting a presidential address on business ethics?

But Miller can stand down. Trump has already given his remarks on race — many times, in fact. Here they are, entirely in Trump’s own words, excerpted:

I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks. Oh, look at my African American over here. Look at him. [...]

Why do we need more Haitians? Why are we having people from all these shithole countries come here? We should have more people from places like Norway.

An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud. His grandmother in Kenya said, “Oh, no, he was born in Kenya.” A lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate.

That�s Native American Taliban to you, Theodore, because Native Americans are the ones who toppled it.

— Brett Chapman (@brettachapman) June 11, 2020

As someone born in Georgia the same year two Black World War II veterans and their wives were lynched 60 miles east of Atlanta by 20 men who fired 60 bullets at them and then cut the fetus out of Mae Dorsey, who was seven months pregnant, I find the removal Confederate monuments, ripping down of Confederate battle flags displayed in public spaces, and the renewed drive to rename the 10 U.S. military bases named for Confederate traitors refreshing even though this is all symbolic.

The neo-Confederates and other promoters of the Lost Cause are obviously unhappy with this shift away from tolerance for these symbols. Unhappy with this tearing down of what they dare call “American heritage.” I suspect a goodly proportion of them will be even unhappier with the punishment meted out when the transformation of U.S. policing ends impromptu lynchings like George Floyd’s.

Tim Murphy at Mother Jones writes—Donald Trump, Like the Confederacy, Is Picking the Wrong Hill to Die On. All your bases are belong to the US:

The US military, the New York Times pointed out in an editorial last month, has 10 bases named for former Confederate officers. They include Camp Beauregard, named for the officer who fired on Fort Sumter to start the Civil War; Fort Pickett, named for the person most synonymous in American military history with futile slaughter; Fort Lee, named for the person who ordered that slaughter and ultimately lost the war; and Fort Gordon, named for a person many people are saying was a Klansman. In recent weeks, as protesters have pushed governments across the world to remove monuments to notorious racists—or taken the matter into their own hands—these bases have once again been a target for criticism. On Tuesday, retired General David Petraeus and former CIA chief David Petraeus argued in The Atlantic that the time had come to “remove the name of traitors” from American bases.

But President Donald Trump, who is an idiot, has a different point of view. On Wednesday, he responded that changing the names of these bases would rewrite the nation’s “history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom”:

Just to make sure the message was clear, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany followed up with a statement arguing that changing the names would insult soldiers who died overseas

John Nichols at The Nation writes—Georgia Shows How Serious the Threat of Voter Suppression Will Be This November:

Georgia is now ground zero for voter suppression. The state’s largest newspaper summed up the crisis on the morning after Tuesday’s primary election in the state descended into chaos: “‘Complete Meltdown.’” Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, ticked off the evidence of “a system that is failing” voters: “malfunctioning machines, long lines, polling sites that opened late and insufficient numbers of back up paper ballots in Georgia.”

LaTosha Brown, the cofounder of the group Black Voters Matter, tweeted early Wednesday morning: “Georgia’s Elections were a HOT MESS! Last voter walked out at 12:37am in Union City.” Brown and her group provided support for voters who waited five or more hours to cast ballots in predominantly African American precincts, while noting that in suburban precincts there were fewer lines. Referring to the stark disparity, she said, “I come over to this [suburban polling place], and white folks are strolling in. On my side of town, we brought stadium chairs.” [...]

The Georgia primary was such a fiasco, such an overwhelming affront to the basic premises of American democracy, that it cries out for a response. But that response cannot begin or end in one state. 

Trump holding first major rally during covid in Tulsa, site of horrible massacre of blacks in 1921, on Juneteenth, is equivalent to Reagan kicking off 1980 campaign in Neshoba County Mississippi where KKK murdered Goodman, Chaney & Schwerner & saying �I believe in states rights�

— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) June 11, 2020

Every vote that Never Trumpers shave from Donald Trump’s re-election total with their advertising and frequent cameos on cable TV is good news. But after Trump is ousted, we can count on all or most of them returning to their previous gigs pushing the extremist agenda the Republicans have been crafting for the past 40-50 years, depending on how you count. 

Jason Sattler at USA Today writes—What Never Trump Republicans deserve: The thanks of a grateful nation, and nothing more:

Key ”Never Trump” Republicans have figured out something obvious that eluded them in 2016: Stopping Donald Trump requires getting behind the one person who can finish the job — the Democratic nominee for president. They should be rewarded for this insight with the defeat of Donald Trump. And that’s it.

The Lincoln Project is made up of some of the right’s top political operatives and anti-Trump voices. They include George Conway, Steve Schmidt and Rick Wilson, who has nailed Trump’s reverse-Midas touch with the coinage “Everything Trump Touches Dies” — earning him, in turn, a couple of bestsellers and a lot of coin. Before he decided to turn fire on his party’s standard-bearer, the GOP strategist helped elect lots of Republicans and torched lots of Democrats, including Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, a triple-amputee Vietnam War veteran whom Wilson helped brand as soft on terror. [...]

Democrats should feel zero obligation to put a Never Trumper in the Cabinet or on any federal court. Maybe Wilson should get a Kennedy Center Honor for coming up with “Cheeto Jesus,” but that’s it.

No olive branch should be offered beyond a joint effort to reform the executive power that allowed a bunker inspector like Trump to veer the presidency so close to dictatorship. Any appeasement beyond that could be disastrous.

John Feffer at Responsible Statecraft writes—The descent of America:

[...] Donald Trump didn’t suddenly introduce racism into U.S. foreign policy. As I wrote back in January 2018, “Trump was only putting into words an underlying principle of U.S. foreign policy. For decades, the United States has treated countries like ‘shitholes’ even if policymakers haven’t called them such, at least not in public.” Racism is reflected in U.S. budget priorities, in the minuscule size of foreign aid programs, in the pattern of U.S. interventions, in the racial composition of the U.S. Army’s “essential workers” (otherwise known as grunts), and even in the Pentagon’s militarization of domestic policing. Trump certainly didn’t create any of these dynamics, though he has often aggravated them.

Still, the current president’s elevation of racism is not simply rhetorical. There is method to his mania.

Trump is using racism as a tool to destroy whatever lingering commitment the United States has to liberal internationalism. The latter philosophy inspired Americans to help create the United Nations, launch the Peace Corps, administer foreign aid programs, and collaborate with other countries to fight global warming. This liberal internationalism has always had its defects, from paternalism to naivete. But it’s a damn sight better than the illiberal nationalism that Trump offers as an alternative.

Trump’s deployment of racism at home and abroad cuts the legs out from under liberal internationalism. No other country can take America’s human rights rhetoric seriously. No other country can accept America’s claim to impartiality as a broker of peace deals, climate deals, any deals. First put your own house in order, they will say. [...]

Newly released body camera footage from an arrest in Oklahoma City last year shows a suspect saying �I can�t breathe,� and an officer responding "I don't care," before the man died at a hospital.

— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 11, 2020

Diallo Brooks at OtherWords writes—A Bittersweet JuneteenthOur ancestors were emancipated on Juneteenth, but we're still fighting for true freedom in this country:

Over the past two weeks of national protests, I have heard some people decry our criminal justice system as broken. They’re right that the system is unjust, but it’s important to understand what black folks learn the hard way: The system wasn’t built to protect us, because anti-black racism is at the core of our country’s foundation.

Even during its ugliest and most violent expressions, in other words — even when our brethren are killed — our justice system has functioned exactly as it was intended.

For more than 400 years, black Americans have been targeted and murdered in cold blood simply for being black. In the 17th century, slaves and free black Americans alike were under constant surveillance to “detect, prevent, investigate, and prosecute black alleged misconduct,” according to a brief published by the American Constitution Society.

Following our ancestors’ freedom from bondage, anti-black surveillance was codified for nearly a century through a dizzying array of Jim Crow laws that criminalized our blackness, caused widespread poverty, and generally kept us “in our place.” [...]

These profound injustices have come to the fore during this moment of acute crisis.

Tara Lachapelle at Bloomberg writes—#MeToo Made Hollywood Better. So Can This National Movement:

If corporate America and Hollywood struggled in how to respond to #MeToo, race and racial bias have been even more difficult for them to navigate. And for the same reasons: a lack of diversity up top. The broad response to the recent protests continues to oscillate between encouraging and awkward. American businesses — from fast food and makeup, to retailers and streaming-video services — flooded Instagram last week with black squares in support of the protests (though those that used the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag unintentionally drowned out posts from protest organizers). They promised, vaguely, to help effect change, and in some cases are putting money behind that promise.

Some media companies are taking it a step further. On Wednesday, AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max removed the movie classic “Gone With the Wind” from its app because of the film’s racist depictions. ViacomCBS Inc.’s Paramount Network canceled “Cops,” a show that was entering its 33rd season and has been criticized for glorifying police while promoting racist stereotypes. It's a start.

But just like with #MeToo, this isn't about hiding away past bad behavior or troubling history in some dusty case under lock and key. It's about hiring and promoting more women, black people and others of color — and giving them a platform for expressing themselves. 

After Orange County's sheriff said he wouldn't enforce a health officer�s order to wear masks and she began receiving threats from residents, Dr. Nichole Quick became the seventh senior health official to resign in California since the pandemic began.

— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) June 11, 2020

Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Aisha Nyandoro and Anne Price at The Nation write—If Black Lives Matter, the ‘Welfare Queen’ Myth Must Go:

Breonna Taylor and Atatiana Jefferson were both killed by the police while inside their homes for the crime of being a black woman in America. Police officers in Oakland, Calif. chose to storm into a home with riot gear and guns drawn where unhoused black mothers from Moms4Housing were providing shelter for their children in the cold winter months.

While there is less national attention paid to black women, police brutality and state-sponsored violence against black women is long-standing and pervasive.

Why do government decision-makers and police officers respond to black women with violence and indifference? Because the ever-pervasive welfare queen myth has taught us to devalue the lives and humanity of black women, making them expendable and not fully human. The term, introduced in the 1970s by Ronald Reagan, refers to women who allegedly misuse or collect excessive welfare payments. Thanks to decades of dog-whistle politics, the term has become synonymous with being black and female in America. That is the uncomfortable truth we have to grapple with.

Along with fueling ever growing inequality on racial and gender lines, the welfare queen myth is literally killing black women at the hands of our nation’s government. [...]

Black women never recovered from the Great Recession, and if we don’t change course and embark on a campaign to eradicate this narrative, the aftermath of the pandemic will be far worse. If we truly want to build an economic and political system in which black life is valued, we must finally delete the welfare queen out of existence.

The editorial board of The Washington Post concludes—Trump is spreading a dangerous conspiracy theory about antifa:

PRESIDENT TRUMP spread a deranged and dangerous conspiracy theory this week when he accused a 75-year-old man pushed to the ground by police in Buffalo of faking the force of his fall — as well as attempting to “scan” the cops. The man, claimed the president, was “antifa,” a member of a militant activist network known for violent tactics.

This allegation was entirely baseless, a shameful smear of a victim of state violence. It was also part of a pattern. The White House, with the help of Attorney General William P. Barr, is inventing a domestic terror threat from whole cloth, blaming the loose, left-wing anti-fascist, or antifa, movement for the unrest roiling the country these past weeks. The only thing that’s missing is the evidence.

Certainly, much of the property destruction and looting that has accompanied these mass demonstrations against racism have come from people with outside agendas, some political and some merely opportunistic. And certainly, antifa has smashed plenty of windows in recent years — on Inauguration Day in Washington, for example, or in Charlottesville, or at the University of California at Berkeley. Finally, it is certainly possible that individuals making mayhem at protests sympathize with antifa, or even consider themselves antifa affiliates.

Yet experts point out that disrupting demonstrations in general alignment with antifa’s goal of dismantling white supremacy is hardly the group’s ideological bailiwick. They’ve also pointed out that the group isn’t much of a group at all: that antifa is too diffuse and too small to mount a coordinated co-option campaign.

Florida�s coastal waterways are being threatened by the Trump administration, again. There�s no way in hell we will stand for this.

— Commissioner Nikki Fried (@NikkiFriedFL) June 10, 2020

Will Bunch at The Philadelphia Inquirer writes—Why it took a police killing, and not a dictatorial president, to finally fill America’s streets:

The remarkable images that came out of Washington, D.C. this weekend were, in some ways, a near-fulfillment of the political fantasies of the large but loosely aligned group called “the Resistance” that had literally started forming in the pre-dawn hours of November 9, 2016 — vowing to protest, impede and eventually end the presidency of Donald Trump by virtually any means necessary.

Now, nearly 41 months into Trump’s term, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue appeared under siege, literally surrounded by tens of thousands of chanting, occasionally singing protesters. In response, the 45th president has surrounded his palace with a new insurmountable fence, and had even famously retreated to the White House bunker for a short time, in fear of the crowd. On the surface, it looked very much like what one clique on the left — the faction that has protested Trump’s unfitness from 2017′s Women’s March straight through his impeachment trial this year — had prayed for, a Hong Kong-style protest aimed at bringing an end to Trumpism.

Except there was just one thing — the hordes out in the streets of D.C. (and literally hundreds of other U.S. cities and towns) this weekend weren’t there to protest Trump, not really. The much deeper issues of systemic racism in America, enforced by violent policing and illustrated by the killing of one man, George Floyd, on a Minneapolis street corner, brought out thousands of Millennials/Gen Z’ers and people of color who’d once viewed the Trump “resistance” as more their mom’s fight.

Nancy LeTourneau at The Washington Monthly writes—What Republicans Really Mean When They Talk About “Law and Order”:

It is worth remembering what Donald Trump said about law enforcement during his speech at the 2016 Republican convention.

An attack on law enforcement is an attack on all Americans. I have a message to every last person threatening the peace on our streets and the safety of our police: when I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order our country.

I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country to get the job done. In this race for the White House, I am the Law And Order candidate.

For a party that vacillated between being post-truth and post-policy, the mantra of “law and order” has always served as a dog whistle to the racists in their ranks, which effectively rallied the troops when Trump promised to crack down on “those people.”

The president is now deluding himself about garnering support from people of color by planning to give a speech on race relations in America. But reports suggest that his favorite white supremacist—Stephen Miller—will write the speech. That is most likely a recipe for disaster.

Abbreviated pundit round-up: Trump’s budget proposal doesn’t lie; CIA’s Haspel shows her colors

The Abbreviated Pundit Round-up is a daily feature at Daily Kos.

Jefferson Morley at The New Republic writes—Is the CIA’s Director Going Full MAGA? Gina Haspel is not a typical Trump toady, but recent moves suggest a dangerous dynamic between the runaway president and his spy agency:

While there’s no way to know what’s in Haspel’s mind, her Trump-supportive public actions provide clues. “Some contend this public stance provides Haspel a better ability to privately influence the president,” Douglas London, a 34-year veteran of CIA’s Directorate of Operations and former Haspel colleague, wrote this week for Just Security. “In practice, however, her actions reflect a continued unwillingness to spend any of her political capital on encouraging the president to be more supportive of the Intelligence Community’s views, priorities or its workforce’s morale.”

Yet, as London also points out, the arc of Haspel’s career shows her State of the Union performance was not that surprising. Despite her reputation as a low-key, apolitical director, Haspel could not have made it to her office on the seventh floor of the Langley headquarters without being skilled at cultivating patrons and dodging proverbial bullets. [...]

Haspel’s very reputation in the press as “apolitical” reflects a certain mastery of spin. Her leading role in the waterboarding of suspected terrorists (and the destruction of video evidence) was so political that it motivated President Obama to cancel the program on his first day in office. While passionate opposition in the Senate to the torture program “nearly derailed” her nomination, it was her deeply political embrace of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that secured Trump’s admiration.

When Haspel was first considered for the top job at the CIA, Don McGahn, Trump’s White House counsel, was so disturbed by her résumé that he suggested Trump withdraw her nomination. Trump not only disagreed but “actually liked this aspect of Haspel’s resume,” according to Axios.

This is actually WORSE than doing nothing. This is doing nothing while PRETENDING otherwise for the base. #ImpeachBarrNow

— Paul Rosenberg (@PaulHRosenberg) February 13, 2020

Randall D. Eliason at The Washington Post writes—The Justice Department confirms things are even worse than we feared

Tuesday morning, I began to write about how things seemed to be okay at my old workplace, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. True, Attorney General William P. Barr had recently installed his close aide, Timothy Shea, as the new U.S. attorney. And there had been rumblings that the office might soften its position on the sentencing of convicted former national security adviser Michael Flynn. But the government’s tough sentencing memorandum concerning Roger Stone seemed to be a good sign. I wrote that, at least when it comes to interfering in the cases of those convicted during the investigation conducted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, maybe my worst fears about Barr’s Justice Department were not going to be realized.

By midday, that draft column was in the trash. It didn’t take long for the Justice Department to demonstrate that, on the contrary, things are even worse than many have feared. [...]

One day, Trump will leave office. But the damage he has done to the Justice Department will endure — and may be irreparable. For those of us who cherish the department and the ideals for which it stands, this is heartbreaking. For the country, it’s extremely dangerous.

Elie Mystal at The Nation writes—They Rocked New Hampshire—but Pete and Amy Still Can’t Win Over Black Voters:

The latest national poll from Quinnipiac University shows former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg polling at 4 percent among African American voters. This, amazingly, counts as good news for the Buttigieg campaign, which in the past has polled at 0 percent among black voters. In this most recent poll, that dubious honor goes to the current white centrist darling, Senator Amy Klobuchar, who polled at 0 percent in the survey conducted between February 5 and 9. [...]

It’s not because they’re white. Joe Biden is so white they probably have to hide the shoe polish in his house on Halloween, but he does okay with black voters. It’s not because people think they’re racist. Mike Bloomberg probably tried to frisk Barack Obama before he put him in his campaign ad, and yet he’s polling at 22 percent with African Americans. And it’s not because people don’t think Buttigieg or Klobuchar can win. All the media does is tell people that actual progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren can’t win, yet those two consistently receive more black and brown support than the allegedly “electable” Midwestern white candidates.

It’s not their color. It’s not their gender or sexuality. It’s not even their policies or records that are holding them back with voters of color (their records are not great, but they’re still not Mike Bloomberg). It’s their unexamined white privilege, buoyed by their unearned status among the white media, mixed with their unnerving and incessant prattle about “Midwestern values” that has black and brown voters casting about for other options. It’s not that people of color haven’t “gotten to know” Buttigieg or Klobuchar. It’s that we know them all too well.

Every black person up in this mess has a Pete Buttigieg in their lives. 

Fully aware I might be entirely wrong, here's my prediction on the Stone sentencing: Judge Jackson will impose a sentence no lower than 60 mos, no higher than 87 mos. She will remand Stone into custody immediately. (Trump will go berserk, but won't pardon Stone immediately.)

— Elizabeth de la Vega (@Delavegalaw) February 13, 2020

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove at The Nation writes—Budgets Don’t Lie, but Trump and His Enablers Do:

Since budgets don’t lie, the folks crunching the numbers at the White House had to acknowledge there is no plan to get America out of the red anytime soon. They hang their economic hopes on long-term growth projections that make the failed projections of Trump’s first three years seem modest. But they also make clear that Trump wants poor and low-income Americans to pick up the bill for his shortcomings in the meantime.

While Trump touts unemployment rates, which have been trending down since the economic recovery of Obama’s first term, his budget does not address the soaring costs of housing, education, and health care that have created an economic crisis for most Americans. The Poor People’s Campaign, a national movement led by poor people and their allies, has published a moral budget that demonstrates that 140 million Americans—42 percent of the nation—are no more than one $400 emergency away from not being able to pay their bills the next month. [...]

In the same vein, Trump’s new budget proposes $181 billion in cuts to food stamps over the next decade, in addition to slashing $800 billion from Medicaid. If he had his way, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would see a total decrease of 15 percent, Health and Human Services 9 percent, and the Department of Education 8 percent. In the House of Representatives, where Pelosi shredded Trump’s speech last week, such a proposal is dead on arrival. But in an election year, Trump’s message is clear: No matter whose stories he told at the State of the Union, he is not running to represent poor and low-income Americans. He is dedicated to propping up an economy where the rich get richer and the poor get medical debt.

Rebecca Leber at Mother Jones writes—Trump’s Biggest Vulnerability Is His Climate Change Denial

Politico/Morning Consult poll released in late January—smack in the middle of the impeachment trial—asked 2,000 voters about Trump’s performance on a number of issues ranging from jobs, economy, and terrorism to trade, climate, immigration, foreign relations, health care, and draining the swamp. They were the least impressed with climate: More than half—54 percent—gave Trump a D or F, while just 21 percent gave him an A or B.

Then there was an August survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. The research group found that 64 percent of the 1,058 people included disapproved of his record on climate, while 32 percent approved—”the lowest among six issue areas that the poll asked about, including immigration (38%) and health care (37%),” the AP reported. And in July a poll by the Washington Post-ABC News poll found Trump’s lowest rating was on climate: Just 29 percent approving, with 62 percent disapproving, the widest spread in the poll.

The problem with this kind of polling is that the issue is widely polarized, so while climate change is a top-tier issue for Democratic primary voters, it ranks far lower in importance for Republicans. In swing states, it’s unclear whether climate will turn out voters.

Alan Dershowitz is on TV right now trying to convince people that it's entirely normal for presidents to steer the Justice Department to go after some and not others. What a disgrace he is to the legal profession.

— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) February 13, 2020

Paul Heideman at In These Times writes—Yes, Michael Bloomberg Is Definitely an Oligarch:

Throughout his administration, Bloomberg was also a vocal defender of the interests of the rich. In classic trickle-down fashion, he argued that helping the poor was best accomplished by helping the rich. Want to address poverty? “Attract more very fortunate people. They’re the ones who pay the bills, he said in 2013. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, Bloomberg ran interference for the banks, repeating right-wing lies that blamed fair housing laws for the mortgage meltdown. When Occupy Wall Street put inequality into the national spotlight, Bloomberg dismissed the protests, arguing that the country had been “overspending” and social services should be cut. And though he’s singing a different tune now, in 2012 he was a dogged opponent of raising the minimum wage.

It would be bad enough if Bloomberg were just a New York problem. However, because of his vast wealth, Bloomberg has secured a role as a player on the national stage, backing politicians and causes that protect the wealth of the billionaire class. He supported George W. Bush for reelection in 2004, after Bush passed massive tax cuts for the rich. He donated money to the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and backed a host of ultra-conservative politicians, ranging from religious zealot Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to racist loudmouth Rep. Peter King (R-NY). Though he donated to Democrats as well, up until the 2018 midterms, Bloomberg’s super PAC Independence USA spent more money funding the campaigns of Republicans than Democrats.

Charles M. Blow at The New York Times writes—The Notorious Michael R. BloombergHis racist stop-and-frisk policy as New York mayor can’t be forgotten:

Let’s state some facts: Michael Ruben Bloomberg notoriously expanded stop-and-frisk in New York City to obscene proportions, violating the bodies and constitutional rights of mostly minority men and boys, and not only defended the policy, but mocked his detractors and bragged about it.

What Bloomberg did as mayor amounted to a police occupation of minority neighborhoods, a terroristic pressure campaign, with little evidence that it was accomplishing the goal of sustained, long-term crime reduction.

Nearly 90 percent of the people stopped were completely innocent. He knew that. They were the collateral damage in his crusade, black and brown bodies up against walls and down on the ground, groped in the middle of the city by strange men with guns, a vast expanse of human psychological wreckage about which he couldn’t care less. [...]

In 2012, after million of stops, Bloomberg stood up in a church in Brownsville, Brooklyn, among the neighborhoods hardest hit by the policy, and declared that racial profiling was banned in the Police Department. “We will not tolerate it,” he said.

That was a Donald Trump-level lie.

Sustained standing ovation for Marie Yovanovich at Georgetown University where she accepted the Trainor Award for excellence in diplomacy. ��

— Agenthades (@Agenthades1) February 13, 2020

Nancy Le Tourneau at The Washington Monthly writes—The State of Georgia Is in Play:

Paul Waldman recently challenged the meme about Democrats being in disarray. He made some great arguments, but a lot of it comes down to this.

People in politics suffer from a kind of myopia, in which what’s right in front of them, being in sharp focus, seems like the most important thing that has ever happened or will ever happen. This Changes Everything, we say over and over, despite the fact that the last 10 or 15 events that were supposed to Change Everything turned out to be so inconsequential that we’ve already forgotten what they were. [...]

Stories that combat the Democrats in disarray notion abound if you dig deep enough. For example, almost every day the state of Virginia is reminding us of what happens when we elect Democrats. While Trump constantly rails about the “do-nothing Democrats,” the House is about to vote on making Washington, DC the 51st state.

But in a story more directly tied to the 2020 elections, it is what’s happening in Georgia that caught my eye. That state is not only significant because of the presidential race. There are also three open House seats in play, along with both Senate seats.

Donald Trump won Georgia in 2016 by about five points. According to Morning Consult, his current net approval rating now stands at zero. However, the big news coming out of Georgia is that, even as Republicans in that state lead the nation in purging voters, they can’t do so fast enough to keep up with new registrations.

Jonathan Chait at New York magazine writes—Joe Biden’s Campaign Was a Disaster for Liberalism and the Democratic Party:

Candidates who flame out early in presidential primaries, almost by definition, do not make history. But Joe Biden may be an exception. Biden’s presidential campaign is now almost certain to fail, but he has done more than any other candidate to shape the outcome. And the result is likely to be disastrous — for Biden’s personal legacy and political agenda.[...]

Biden’s candidacy almost single-handedly stunted the growth of every other center-left alternative. Cory Booker ran the Freaks and Geeks of campaigns — praised by critics, but never registering with the broader public. Booker might well have attracted Biden’s constituency, before low polling forced him off the debate stage and out of the race. [...]

Biden’s campaigns in 1988 and 2008 ended in disaster for Biden. His 2020 campaign is going to end in a disaster for the whole party.

Redlining was an explicitly racist policy that ensured that until 1968 98 % of federally insured loans went to white Americans. It created one of largest white affirmative action programs we�ve seen and is a direct cause of the devastating black/white wealth gap.

— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) February 13, 2020

Andrew Gawthorpe at The Guardian writes—William Barr's efforts to protect Roger Stone are another blow to rule of law

The extent to which Barr has bent his knee, and increasingly that of the justice department, to Trump is profoundly troubling. Attorneys general have almost always gone to great lengths to avoid even the appearance of political interference in ongoing investigations. For Barr to dance so openly to the tune of Donald Trump’s Twitter feed suggests that not only has he been deeply corrupted, but that he doesn’t care who knows it. His shamelessness puts him in league with the Republican senators who voted to acquit Donald Trump despite clear evidence that he had committed impeachable offences.

But Barr is more dangerous than any senator because he wields more power. If he continues to allow the department to become an instrument of the president’s will, then he can do grave damage to American democracy and the rule of law. Autocrats always seek to corrupt the criminal justice system in order to give themselves and their subordinates legal cover as they attempt to undermine democratic institutions and norms. Another Trump subordinate – Rudy Giuliani – is currently under federal investigation for his involvement in the president’s illegal scheme to sway the outcome of the 2020 election. We can have no confidence that Barr will allow this investigation to go where the facts lead it.

By seeking special treatment for the president’s cronies, Barr creates the impression that future lawbreakers will be able to get away with their crimes so long as they further the interests of the president. Given that the president himself cannot be indicted for a crime, the exposure of his associates and subordinates to legal jeopardy is a key check on the growth of tyranny. As soon as political favoritism begins to play a role in whether or not criminals are prosecuted, the rule of law – and democracy – cannot last.

UPDATE: We tried to prove Eric Trump right. We asked experts: is there any way that Mar-a-Lago is just charging the govt its costs � and it just costs $650 per day to clean one of their rooms? Experts

— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) February 12, 2020

John Patrick Leary at The New Republic writes—What Wall Street Really Means When It Talks About “Climate Risk”:

BlackRock, the world’s largest money management firm, with over $6 trillion in assets, certainly intends to soldier on. Anticipating that climate change will provoke a “fundamental reshaping of finance,” BlackRock’s chairman, Laurence Fink, recently announced a new policy to make “sustainability” a central factor in evaluating investments. In a letter to investors published on the firm’s website, Fink wrote that “the investment risks presented by climate change are set to accelerate a significant reallocation of capital, which will in turn have a profound impact on the pricing of risk and assets around the world.” The move has received mixed responses, both from the financial press and from climate activists. The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote that such a move from a firm of BlackRock’s size “could reshape how corporate America does business,” while others were more circumspect. An investor in Barron’s observed skeptically that BlackRock is still the world’s largest investor in fossil fuels, with over $19 billion in Exxon stock alone, as well as large interests in Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP.

Nicole M. Aschoff at Jacobin writes—Wall Street Can’t Fix the Environment. BlackRock’s recent divestment promises are self-serving measures, not meaningful steps in the fight against global warming:

Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, recently sent another one of his famous letters. Building on previous promises to value all stakeholders, this year’s message to CEOs outlines BlackRock’s new role as a responsible champion of the environment — it vows to both safeguard people’s money and promote a “sustainable and inclusive capitalism.”

The world’s largest asset management company says that beginning this year it will divest from thermal coal and “mak[e] sustainability integral to portfolio construction and risk management.” Fink insists that in the future BlackRock “will be increasingly disposed to vote against management and board directors when companies are not making sufficient progress on sustainability-related disclosures and the business practices and plans underlying them.”

But on closer examination, the details of BlackRock’s plan are less exciting. The company’s vow to pull back from thermal coal refers to its actively managed portfolios. Roughly three-quarters of the company’s portfolios are passively managed, their assets automatically selected to track the global marketplace. (BlackRock’s strong growth over the past decade owes almost entirely to investment flowing into its exchange-traded funds and other types of passive investing.) The vast majority of BlackRock’s more than $17 billion investment in coal sits in passively invested portfolios.

Fink’s letter also says little about the company’s massive presence in other sectors of the fossil-fuel industry. BlackRock is the world’s largest shareholder in oil and gas. Just last year, it completed a $4 billion investment (along with KKR) in the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. The company also pours money into industries associated with deforestation, such as palm oil.

Dana Milbank at The Washington Post writes—As health experts sound the alarm, Trump fights coronavirus with alternative facts:

This is the time for a Manhattan Project, to put all public and private energy into vaccine and antiviral development, diagnostics and expanded hospital capabilities. If the worst happens, we’ll be better prepared. If not, we’ll be prepared for the next pandemic.

Instead, Trump this week proposed cutting U.S. funding for the World Health Organization in half. He has also proposed a nearly 16 percent cut to the CDC and a nearly 8 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health, though officials say they won’t cut from infectious-disease work. Trump’s budget director says the virus isn’t being taken into account in economic forecasts. And Trump is parroting advice from the Chinese regime.

Maybe he’ll also endorse North Korea’s plan to fight the virus with “burdock roots.”

Trump administration officials were asked to participate in the Senate hearing; they refused, instead cooperating in a closed briefing later with senators. [...]

Had they come, they would have heard the experts knock down Trump’s claims that we’re in great shape, that there are only 11 cases here and that China has handled the outbreak well.

Abbreviated pundit round-up: Read 25 books and you’re a peacemaker; ‘Kavanagh all over again’

Francine Prose at The Guardian writes—Mary Louise Kelly's interaction with Mike Pompeo was like satire. If only it was. The character flaws of the secretary of state would be grotesquely hilarious – if all our futures were not at stake:

Before celebrities and their publicists figured out that a goofy, faux-homeboy named Ali G was actually the smart, edgy comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, a succession of political and cultural figures – Newt Gingrich, C Everett Koop, James Baker, Gore Vidal, EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman, among others – agreed to sit for televised interviews with the “rapper.” Almost always, Ali G’s calculatedly crass, good-humored stupidity brought out his subjects’ petty vanity and condescension, their humorless self-importance. The unmaskings – the glimpses of bad character – were at once horrifying and hilarious.

I thought of those episodes while listening to NPR journalist Mary Louise Kelly’s January 24 interview with secretary of state Mike Pompeo. One imagines Pompeo or his staffers assuming that a pretty blonde woman with such a good-girl name, Mary Louise Kelly, would lob softballs and take notes as he explained the government’s Iran policy. Someone must have failed to do due diligence, alerting the secretary to Kelly’s paradoxically calm and hard-hitting approach, to the unperturbed persistence with which – in interviews and in reporting from Russia, China and Iran – she has pursued the facts.

Barbara McQuade is a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, is a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. At USAToday, she writes—Trump’s defense team has offered several arguments to divert public attention from a quest for the truth. Senators and voters should focus on facts:

When a college basketball player shoots free throws, he can expect opposing fans sitting behind the basket to wave their arms, shout and hold up clever signs to distract his focus from the rim. During opening arguments at the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, his lawyers attempted the same tactics.

A former colleague once used the analogy to free throws during a trial in the prosecution of a massive fraud case. She asked members of the jury to maintain focus on their mission of finding the facts after the defense offered a number of irrelevant arguments to distract them from their job. Similarly, Trump’s team offered several arguments to divert public attention from a quest for the truth.

One bit of arm waving that Trump’s lawyers have engaged in is the argument that House managers are attempting to undo an election. White House counsel Pat Cipollone argued that Democrats are asking the Senate to “tear up every ballot” from the 2016 election, characterizing impeachment as an affront to democracy. But our Constitution includes impeachment to protect our citizens from a leader who abuses his power. Concerned about a monarch with too much power, the framers specifically included a method for removing a president from office. If impeachment were improper because it reversed an election, then no impeachment of a president could ever occur. Our Constitution provides otherwise.


Elizabeth Drew writes—Why Having Hunter Biden Testify Would Be Bad for Trump. If it means John Bolton would also testify in the impeachment trial, it could help the Democrats:

For some time, I was against the Democrats’ offering any Biden as a witness in Mr. Trump’s trial, on principle. Just because the Republicans want to batter Hunter Biden is no reason to submit either him or his father as fodder to hostile Republicans. But principle can be turned on its head; calling Hunter Biden could backfire on the Republicans big time. [...]

Having Joe Biden’s son testify would illuminate the Bidens’ irrelevance to the issue of whether the president held up congressionally appropriated military assistance for Ukraine until the Ukrainian president announced — not necessarily conducted, just announced — a government investigation into the Bidens’ role. An appearance by Hunter before Senate questioners now could also go some distance toward removing him as an issue in the general election, should his father be the Democratic nominee. In fact, Hunter could be the star witness as to why a president’s (or vice president’s) offspring should stay out of any business that might have something to do with their parents’ job.

Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post writes—I have just read 25 books and am here to perform your open-heart surgery:

“I’ve read 25 books on it.”

— Jared Kushner, on the conflict in the Middle East

Hello! I’m a relative of your doctor, and I am here to perform your open-heart surgery. [...]

Please lie back and stop attempting to struggle. In case you might worry that I am not qualified to perform this surgery: I read 25 books. So you are in good hands. No, I have not done this before, but in a way, that makes me actually more competent. When I look at you, I don’t see all the problems people saw before: an aorta, and ventricles, and the little tube thing that pokes out. I just see solutions. I am going to put your heart together in a way that has never been tried, but I can guarantee (I read 25 books) that it will make everything 100 percent better, using synergies.


Sasha Abramsky at The Nation writes—Trump Acts Like a Mafia Don—and GOP Senators Yawn. Day by day, tweet by presidential tweet, the country retreats from its democratic premise, yet the grandees of the GOP decline to intervene:

Day by day, tweet by tweet, the country retreats from its democratic premise, this great experiment in pluralism wilts a little more, and the prospect of violence in the political process grows, yet the grandees of the GOP, running scared of its base, declines to intervene.

Former national security adviser John Bolton lets it be known that Trump personally told him that releasing aid to Ukraine was tied to the latter’s announcement of an investigation into the Bidens—and the revelation is met with yawns from GOP senators.

Bolton wants to be a Senate witness, yet majority leader Mitch McConnell’s caucus is terrified that he will blow apart the GOP’s hear-no-evil/see-no-evil strategy. So they pretend his testimony is a nonstarter. The rapidity with which a great democracy has sunk into cultist politics is terrifying.

Lev Parnas produces an audio recording of Trump demanding that his acolytes “take her out,” referring to then–Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Trump sounds just like a Mafia don ordering a hit, yet the GOP meets this revelation of thuggery with silence. It’s now apparently acceptable for the president to “take out” ambassadors who stand in the way of his corrupt machinations.

Tim Murphy at Mother Jones writes—“This Is Kavanaugh All Over Again,” Say Republicans. They’re Right. But not for the reasons they claim:

“This is Kavanaugh all over again,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told reporters on Monday. Soon it was the company line. [...]

Republicans are framing the revelation—from a book manuscript by former national security adviser John Bolton obtained by the New York Times—as a last-minute gimmick, a desperate attempt to change the rules of a game that’s already in progress. Bolton can’t be trusted, and besides, it’s way too late! The House had its chance to get Bolton on the record, the argument goes, and the Senate should not let the development sidetrack it from a case that’s already been laid out. Otherwise you risk losing control of the whole process and creating a partisan spectacle that needlessly tarnishes the reputation of a good man. (The good man, to be clear, is Donald Trump.)

This is, as Barrasso intimates, the basic story Republicans have told themselves about Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings for more than a year. Kavanaugh was on his way to confirmation when Christine Blasey Ford came forward to allege that he had sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers in Washington, DC. Under pressure, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee agreed to hold a new hearing to question Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh.

But the lesson of the Kavanaugh hearings wasn’t the effectiveness of Democratic gamesmanship; it was the power of stonewalling. Blasey Ford was unambiguous about what had happened (“indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” as she put it), and offered a roadmap for further investigation. But none of it mattered, because Senate Republicans did not want to know what had really happened. They were not interested in figuring out, definitively, whether their nominee for the Supreme Court had sexually assaulted someone, and whether he was lying about that or anything else (for instance: his drinking). They did not want to uncover information that would change their minds, so they constructed an elaborate public ritual to help them not find out.


Martin Longman at The Washington Monthly writes—Trump’s Geofencing Could Be a Potent Political Issue:

Donald Trump’s digital advantage may be freaking out Democratic strategists, but what should worry everyone is the technology itself. What makes Trump’s operation so formidable is not so much his investment in digital or any particular architecture that he’s built. It’s more that he’s able to take advantage of monitoring people through their cell phones.

To be clear, the Democrats can and will do the exact same thing. The problem isn’t the candidate, but the capability.

Thomas Edsall discusses this in a piece for the New York Times. It begins with geofencing, a practice that involves tracking every cell phone that enters a predefined area, like a church or MAGA rally. Armed with these phone numbers, identities can be sussed out from other commercial databases, and then people can be sorted by how frequently they vote, their party registration (if any), and all manner of personal information. 

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board says Darrell Issa’s shameful gay-baiting attack ads are the worst kind of time warp:

It’s possible, we suppose, that former Rep. Darrell Issa didn’t realize his TV ad attacking a GOP rival, Carl DeMaio, in the 50th Congressional District primary race could be seen as gay-baiting. The ad, ostensibly about DeMaio’s stance on immigration and President Trump, includes two gratuitous references to the fact that DeMaio is gay.

But others did make the connection, including the chair of the San Diego County Republican Party, who called the ad “highly inappropriate.” For any honorable candidate, this would have been the moment to apologize for any unintentional (assuming it was unintentional) messaging and agree to stop running the ad. Instead, Issa continues to stand by it. [...]

This district just emerged a few weeks ago from the disgraceful era of Duncan Hunter, who stepped down from Congress this month after pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds. Hunter also exploited inflammatory tropes in attack ads against his Democratic challenger in 2018. It was bad enough that voters in this district rewarded him with another term. They should demand better from whoever replaces him.


Nick Martin at The New Republic writes—There’s Nothing More American Than Native Mascots. Redface and tomahawk chops are a cultural product rivaling the Super Bowl itself:

On Sunday, tens of millions of Americans will tune in to Super Bowl LIV to watch Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs try to crack the nut that is the San Francisco 49ers defense. After the fourth quarter comes to a close and the clock reads triple zeros, the fans, casual and devoted alike, will turn off their televisions or change the channel. They probably won’t think twice about the Kansas City team name or the “tomahawk chop” and redface that Kansas City fans will almost certainly bring to the stadium in Miami.

The contours of the issue are familiar, playing out on repeat in the decades since the tomahawk chop first emerged out of Florida State and made its way to Kansas City, Atlanta, and countless high schools across the country: Native people have protested the cartoonish racism and appropriation, while the franchises, team owners, and local legislators—with varying degrees of malice—have ignored these protests or deflected criticism. Papers put out polls on whether readers believe something that is very obviously racist is actually a problem. Public relations firms are paid to craft campaigns to preserve team names as tradition or some kind of perverse tribute. And then the teams play. Fans watch. Some people make money. Everyone goes home.

The mascot issue is not about whether Native people have been properly polled. It is not a question of American ignorance. It’s that the people with the most power in this situation—the owners, the franchises—know exactly what they’re doing and don’t care. And in the face of much more pressing material concerns, it’s true that a fair number of Native people might not care much, either, which is a sentiment I’ve heard from members of my own family and tribe.

Kate Aronoff at The New Republic writes—Selling the Green New Deal to Texas Unions. The AFL-CIO's endorsement of Mike Siegel suggests a new way forward for environmentalists and labor:

Texas’s 10th Congressional District stretches, improbably, from the outer fringes of the Houston metro area to suburbs west of Austin. After sending Democrats to Congress for over 100 years, it has voted for Republican Representative Michael McCaul in every election since its 2005 redistricting. Two years ago, Mike Siegel—a civil rights lawyer and labor activist running on an ambitious progressive platform—came within five points of flipping the district back to blue. This year, campaigning as a Green New Deal supporter, he’s hoping to finish the job. Influential Democratic Party groups like Emily’s List have lined up behind his primary opponent, corporate lawyer Shannon Hutcheson, who fits a more typical profile of Democrats running for red seats. Having been dual-endorsed by the Houston-based Texas Gulf Coast Labor Federation, Siegel and Hutcheson battled it out for the Texas AFL-CIO endorsement, which Siegel had won in 2018. The endorsement was announced at the regional federation’s Committee on Political Education, or COPE, Convention in Austin this past weekend, and while Siegel won it again, his harder-fought victory this cycle offers a preview of what it will take to win labor’s support for a new generation of climate policies.

Siegel and his supporters spent last weekend in nearly round-the-clock meetings with unions, some of whose international leaderships have previously spoken against the Green New Deal. “Everybody throws in something about a just transition when they talk about taking on climate change,” Rick Levy, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, told me. “But I think there’s concern about how central workers’ issues are going to be to that process.… It’s just really hard when you’re in that industry, particularly in a place like Texas,” Levy said of unionized fossil fuel workers in the Right to Work state. “You see all these slings and arrows headed your way to your livelihood, climate change being one of them.” The Green New Deal, he told me, “is either the panacea or the devil, depending on where you’re coming from.”


David Dayen at The American Prospect writes—They Forgot About Bern:

With six days until the Iowa caucuses, the political establishment has arrived at a troubling realization: It might be time to take this Bernie Sanders guy seriously. In the past few days, polls have shown Sanders breaking dramatically from the pack in Iowa and New Hampshire. Polls have shown him leading in Super Tuesday states California and Utah, while he’s climbed meaningfully in early states Nevada and South Carolina.

In the aftermath of Sanders’s ascendancy, various corporate gatekeepers and big-money representatives are scrambling—with little coherence or success—to put together a last-minute campaign to slow him down. The justification for such action, of course, is that the political establishment and their corporate henchmen, self-styled paragons of pragmatism and stewards of lucid, sober thinking, need to protect the electorate from a wild-eyed radical who is dangerously out of touch with America.

But the last-second freakout tells us less about the Sanders campaign than about those political elites themselves, whose political instincts are so alarmingly wrongheaded that they’ve managed to ignore an obvious risk to their continued status until a week before voting begins. If anyone has revealed themselves as inept to the point of disqualification, it’s the anti-Sanders neighborhood watch.

Sanders has been in the race since last February, which means he’s spent some 350 days shattering donation records, building a committed fan base of millions, and never exiting the top three in polling, while spending the majority of the race in second place. Meanwhile, he’s run up a long list of high-profile endorsements from prominent politicians and celebrities. This is not someone who snuck up on the field.

John Nichols at The Nation writes—Bernie Sanders Is Rising on the Strength of His Anti-War Stance:

Cedar Falls, Iowa—A roar of approval filled the packed ballroom on the University of Northern Iowa campus when Black Hawk County Supervisor Chris Schwartz reminded hundreds of Iowans that, almost two decades ago, “It was Bernie Sanders who stood up to George Bush and said no to war!”

The applause was just as loud a few minutes later, when Congressional Progressive Caucus cochair Mark Pocan, from neighboring Wisconsin, told the Iowans he was barnstorming for Sanders because “Yes! We must stop endless wars!”

The national media has moved on from discussing the prospect that President Trump’s decision to kill a key Iranian general had brought the Middle East to “the brink of war.” But concerns about issues of war and peace—which briefly upended the national debate in early January—continue to influence the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. That’s benefiting Sanders, especially in Iowa.

Nelson Lichtenstein at Jacobin writes—What’s Old for US Labor Is New Again:

Everything old is new again. If American workers are ever to emerge from the economic insecurity and political powerlessness that are so characteristic of our second, contemporary Gilded Age, they are likely to rediscover some of the innovations in labor policy and corporate governance that emerged more than a century ago in that first era of social inequality and capitalist excess.

That’s because the structure of capitalism today, and the legal framework that sustains it, evokes many of the same social and economic pathologies that made Americans of that bygone era question the future of US democracy itself.

It has never been just a question of inequality: robber barons then, and the rise of a politically potent billionaire class today. Rather, the two Gilded Ages are similar because at both times a new and disruptive reconfiguration of American capitalism has made necessary a radical set of policies designed to democratize the world of work and empower a multiracial working class.

A bold and comprehensive report from Harvard’s Labor and Worklife Program, “A Clean Slate for Worker Power: Building a Just Economy and Democracy,” offers twenty-first-century reformers an innovative set of policy ideas challenging corporate power in our time.

Sonny Bunch at The Washington Post writes—Everyone at Sundance knew what Harvey Weinstein was. They should stop pretending:

It was with something like slack-jawed amazement that I read Dominic Patten’s on-the-ground report from Sundance chronicling attendees’ disgust and amazement at the testimony in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial. The Deadline reporter’s missive reads almost like parody, a communique from an Armando Iannucci-esque parallel universe where Hollywood swells hope and pray that the country is a nation of easily misled rubes. [...]

Patten, wandering around Sundance, found a number of industry bigshots who were shocked, shocked to learn that Weinstein was a world-class monster. The quotes are stunning both in their content and in the fact that they were still, despite Weinstein’s defenestration, delivered anonymously. [...]

All of which is to say it’s a little bit rich to hear the good visitors to Park City profess their disgust with Weinstein. It’s hard to take any of this seriously — especially when it’s offered up anonymously — as a real bit of soul-searching or examination of the predations of the movie profession. Indeed, it reads much more as a bit of rear-end-covering, a way to profess innocence without actually having to put a name to a statement of ignorance.

Abbreviated pundit round-up: GOP’s ‘death of reason’; gun rally terrorism in Virginia

The Abbreviated Pundit Round-up is a daily feature at Daily Kos.

Juan Cole at Informed Comment writes—Did Saudi prince Bin Salman personally Hack Jeff Bezos’s Phone, Vacuuming up Secrets? What about Jared Kushner?

We’ve long known that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s phone was hacked. Large amounts of data were taken off of it, including intimate photographs and evidence of a romantic affair, which then showed up in The National Enquirer. The tabloid’s publication of this private material led to Bezos’s divorce and the loss of half of his fabulous wealth. A careful forensic investigation of the hack now shows that Bezos’s phone was compromised when he opened a message on Whatsapp from the personal cell phone of Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The message contained malicious software that installed itself as soon as Bezos clicked on it to open it. This according to Stephanie Kirchgaessner, reporting for The Guardian.

The revelation that Bin Salman himself played a pivotal role in the attempt to ruin Bezos’s life over the Washington Post‘s reporting on Saudi Arabia and on Donald Trump should send chills down the spine of everyone who has ever chatted with the prince over Whatsapp. 


Nancy LeTourneau at The Washington Monthly writes—The Senate Trial and the Death of Reason:

With Fox News and the rest of the right-wing propaganda network providing the filter through which one side of the political divide viewed the presentations, Senate Republicans are free to take on the role of collaborators in covering up the truth. Charles Pierce nailed it.

In this, no Republican was different from any other Republican. Lisa Murkowski and Tom Cotton were the same. Thom Tillis and Ted Cruz were the same. Cory Gardner and Jim Inhofe were the same. Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse were the same as Mike Rounds and Mike Enzi. And they were all the same as Mitch McConnell. There were no moderate Republicans in the Senate on Tuesday. There were no Never Trumpers. There were only collaborators. There was no independence in the Senate on Tuesday, only complicity. And it was a deadening, sad thing to watch.

In that sense, the House managers and the president’s defense team were, indeed, playing two completely different games. The former were providing facts and evidence, while all the latter had to do was show up and count on their propaganda network to gin up fear and loathing for anyone who dares to challenge the president. That is why we are witnessing the death of reason on the Republican side.

Andrew Gawthorpe at The Guardian writes—Republicans have turned the impeachment trial into a dangerous sham:

While previous presidents tended to seek incremental increases in presidential power in service of what they believed, rightly or wrongly, to be the common good, Trump does the exact opposite. He seeks not just one particular new power but complete freedom from scrutiny for his conduct, and he does so in service not of any plausible national interest but rather purely to shield himself from the consequences of his abuses of power.

Trump appears to give little thought to his actions, but McConnell does. Just as he decided that refusing to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland was worth imperiling the legitimacy of the supreme court, now he has decided that the political survival of Donald Trump is worth creating the precedent that future presidents do not have to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”. The only remedy is to channel public anger into a Democratic seizure of the Senate, and remake a broken institution as an instrument of the public good rather than a rubber-stamp legislature for the would-be authoritarian in the White House. If you want to see the consequences of failing to do so, just tune into the “trial.”


As a colleague of mine who knows farms points out, Pence’s claim is “spectacularly” wrong.

Elie Mystal at The Nation writes—The Republicans Have Revealed Their Impeachment Strategy—Lying:

During his opening remarks at the Senate removal trial of Donald Trump, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone lied. Repeatedly. Cipollone said that Republicans were not allowed in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility to participate in depositions taken during the House’s impeachment investigation. That is a demonstrable lie. He accused Representative Adam Schiff of having “manufactured” a “false version” of Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. That’s not true. He played fast and loose with the timeline around the Zelensky call, alleging a controversy over the first phone call that never happened.

We, as a country, are used to President Trump lying almost every time he opens his mouth. We are used to his state-sponsored media sycophants going on television and lying for the president every night. We are used to Republicans lying to stay in lockstep with Trump.

But we haven’t seen the Trump people lie so brazenly in court, or something that appears to be court. We haven’t seen them lie after oaths have been taken. A lot of people thought that a trial presided over by the chief justice of the United States would be the moment where the lying stopped.


E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post writes—Why Democrats owe a debt to Mitch McConnell:

Recall that when Democrats were debating whether to impeach President Trump last year, those opposed to the move argued there was no chance that Senate Republicans would remove him from office, committed as they are to marching off any cliff toward which the president directs them.

The fear was that Trump would inevitably tout acquittal in the Senate as vindication. He’d say that impeachment was, to use a word invoked over and over by his hapless lawyer Pat Cipollone on the Senate floor (because he had little of substance to say), “ridiculous.”

But #MidnightMitch, as the Senate leader was labeled by his Twitter critics, rode to the rescue. By working with Trump to rig the trial by admitting as little evidence as possible, McConnell robbed the proceeding of any legitimacy as a fair adjudication of Trump’s behavior.

Noah Bookbinder at The New York Times writes—The American People Are Being Scammed by Mitch McConnell. Senators have a duty to conduct a fair and full trial. The Republican leader is trying to make sure they can’t:

The removal of a sitting president is the last line of defense provided by the framers of the Constitution against the abuse of power by the leader of our country. When senators take an oath to uphold the Constitution, they assume the grave responsibility to conduct a thorough and fair trial on behalf of the American people.

Dismissing this process set out in the Constitution, President Trump has called the impeachment process a “scam.” That’s his opinion, of course — but this week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing everything he can to ensure that the Senate trial actually is a scam.

An impeachment trial is only meaningful if the American people can have confidence in the fairness of the process; only then will the trial’s verdict be worthy of respect. Mr. McConnell is advocating trial procedures that would undercut any possibility of that.


Michael Winship, Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams was previously the Emmy Award-winning senior writer for Moyers & Company and At Common Dreams, he writes—The Imperative of Pulling Together to Beat the Trump Who Would Be King:

That 1972 campaign to defeat Richard Nixon for reelection began with 15 hopefuls seeking the Democratic nod, including Shirley Chisolm, the first African-American woman to run for the nomination, and Rep. Patsy Mink, the first Asian-American.

There was much dissension within the ranks—some of it, we now know, fostered by dirty tricksters from the Nixon campaign—as well as honest disagreements on issues that roiled the primary season. When the dust had cleared, McGovern was the nominee—in part because reforms he helped engineer took a lot of the electioneering out of the backrooms and gave increased power to grassroots organizing.

But sadly, McGovern’s success in ’72 ended there. As the general election race against Nixon began, his campaign was wounded by the discovery that vice presidential pick Tom Eagleton had failed to let McGovern know he had received electroshock therapy for depression. He withdrew and was replaced by Sargent Shriver. What’s more, many party regulars were resentful of the McGovern reformers; some even refused to endorse or vote for him. [...]

No, November 3 will be our best chance and no matter the Democratic candidate, we must band together as one to make it happen—the defeat of a man who, honest to God, reportedly tried to read aloud part of the Constitution and proclaimed, “It’s like a foreign language.”

Matt Ford at The New Republic writes—Alan Dershowitz Hasn’t Changed One Bit. The celebrity attorney has spent much of his career defending the interests of scandal-plagued elites—and profiting from it:

The American legal community has spent the Trump era wondering aloud what happened to Alan Dershowitz. He told me in 2018 that he hadn’t actually changed; it was everyone else who was different. There’s a certain truth to this. Dershowitz’s career is a testament to the effects that celebrity, affluence, and fame can have on even the most formidable legal minds. His client in the Senate trial won’t be Trump, or even the presidency as an institution, but power itself.

Dershowitz, like Trump, also has an ineluctable power to draw media attention. “I’ve discovered that the most dangerous place to be in the criminal justice system is not the Federal Penitentiary at Marion or the holding cell at the Tombs, but between Alan Dershowitz and a television camera,” Brian Wice, a Texas lawyer who worked alongside him in the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker case, quipped in 1991. Dershowitz’s ubiquitous appearances on television made him perhaps the best-known living American lawyer in the 1980s and 1990s. One book reviewer, writing about O.J. Simpson lawyer Robert Shapiro’s account of the TV-driven case in 1996, wondered if Shapiro had hired Dershowitz “mainly to shut him up.”

Malaika Jabali at The New Republic writes—The Shallow “Unity” of The New York Times’ Endorsements:

On Sunday, after much fanfare, The New York Times’ editorial board announced its presidential endorsement, which was actually a decision to endorse two candidates: Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. “Both the radical and the realist models” being offered in the Democratic primary “warrant serious consideration,” the board wrote, and so voters must decide which is “best suited for repairing the Republic.”

As much as the op-ed served to announce the board’s endorsements, it was also an opportunity to issue some warnings: “Any hope of restoring unity in the country will require modesty, a willingness to compromise and the support of the many demographics that make up the Democratic coalition—young and old, in red states and blue, black and brown and white.” Bernie Sanders, they argued, would merely exchange “one over-promising, divisive figure in Washington for another.” (This is also where Warren falters, according to the board: “She sometimes sounds like a candidate who sees a universe of us-versus-thems, who, in the general election, would be going up against a president who has already divided America into his own version of them and us.”)

The rhetoric of unity to restore American democracy feels good on its face, but the board seems untroubled by and uninterested in the question of who, exactly, might be united under a future president. And by what?


Andrea Miller at The Nation writes—There’s a New Playbook for Securing Abortion Access. Recent wins suggest that we are more effective when we proudly proclaim our support for abortion access for all—and defend that position when the attacks come:

What we are learning—led by activists and advocates who are fighting the attacks on the front lines—is that we are more effective when we publicly proclaim our support for abortion access for all and stand strong to defend that position when the ugly and deceitful attacks come. Hiding or apologizing for our support for abortion access will not prevent the attacks, and only contributes to abortion stigma. In the 1990s, many Democrats hedged their support for abortion rights by adopting Bill Clinton’s formulation that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” In those years, Pennsylvania, with the White House, mounted a direct challenge to Roe that went to the Supreme Court and the federal government enacted the first-ever federal abortion ban. The years 1990 to 1999 also represent the greatest number of murders and attempted murders of abortion providers and clinic staff by anti-abortion zealots on record. History suggests that silence and shame do not mitigate political attacks on abortion or prevent violence against those on the front lines.

Progressive legislators and the voting public are recognizing that anti-choice forces will stop at nothing to undermine, and someday overturn, Roe, and are shoring up state protections accordingly. But there’s also a deeper change afoot. Victories like the ones we saw last year are not possible without strong voter support and the infrastructure to create the conditions for success. In 2019, 29 states and Washington, DC, introduced 143 bills to improve abortion access, up from just 12 bills in nine states in 2014. States have expanded insurance coverage for abortion and presidential candidates are calling for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, thanks to the sea change in support for Medicaid funding for abortion brought about by the All* Above All campaign.

Will Bunch at The Philadelphia Inquirer writes—Call Richmond’s MLK Day gun rally what it was: An outbreak of terrorism on American soil:

The event — part of a just-OK idea to make the King holiday a “Lobby Day” to allow citizens to air their grievances which increasingly has become a gun-lobby day in the last few years — was a rally led by the Virginia Citizens Defense League that drew an estimated 22,000 to a state capital on a total lockdown, with guns banned from the fenced-in site of the actual event. Most attendees milled around outside the fences — armed to the teeth, waving their long guns to see who had the biggest one. When the event ended early Monday afternoon, there was a palpable sigh of relief both in Richmond and around a nation that had just watched the armed hijacking of MLK Day. 

The event — part of a just-OK idea to make the King holiday a “Lobby Day” to allow citizens to air their grievances which increasingly has become a gun-lobby day in the last few years — was a rally led by the Virginia Citizens Defense League that drew an estimated 22,000 to a state capital on a total lockdown, with guns banned from the fenced-in site of the actual event. Most attendees milled around outside the fences — armed to the teeth, waving their long guns to see who had the biggest one. When the event ended early Monday afternoon, there was a palpable sigh of relief both in Richmond and around a nation that had just watched the armed hijacking of MLK Day.

To use a popular buzzword of 2020 by way of 1920, I’m here to call “malarkey” on the popular notion that what went down in Richmond was “peaceful.” To the contrary, America — although we may be too frightened to even admit it — just witnessed arguably the most successful use of terrorism on U.S. soil in nearly a generation, even if this time was non-lethal.


David Korten at Yes! magazine writes—The Time for Postponing Climate Action Is Over:

BBC environmental correspondent Matt McGrath pointed out last July that to achieve the UN’s initial target of a 45% cut in carbon emissions by 2030 will require decisive global action by the end of this year—2020. His point is that reaching that initial target in just 10 years will require massive changes. So, if we don’t get going immediately, we will not make it.

Humanity is reawakening to a basic truth understood by earlier humans, by many Indigenous people today, and now confirmed by the leading scientists: We are born of and members of a living Earth community.

We are now awakening to the responsibilities that come with our distinctive ability to consciously create our future. The environmental consequences of our neglect of this responsibility have been known for more than half a century, but for many people, the urgent need to act is just now sinking in.

Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post writes—In a break from tradition, I am endorsing all 12 Democratic candidates:

In 2020, American voters must choose among several visions of the future. There is a serious debate going on in the Democratic Party about what is wrong with the country and what needs to be done to fix it.

And I, for one, am not going to take a stance on that debate.

Should we be realists? Should we be radicals? Should we be neither radical nor realistic? Yes, yes and yes!

Jamelle Bouie at The New York Times writes—The Iconic Man With a Gun Is a White Man:

RICHMOND, Va. — Around 22,000 people came here on Monday to protest potential new restrictions on guns under consideration by the new Democratic majority in the General Assembly. Most of the protesters were outside the grounds of the State Capitol, and most appeared to be carrying weapons: handguns, shotguns, carbines and semiautomatic rifles. There were armed men in camouflage and military-style equipment threatening insurrection if the state’s elected representatives acted contrary to their wishes.

Walking through the crowds, I saw Gadsden flags emblazoned with “Don’t Tread on Me” and “Come and Take It” banners alongside “Blue Lives Matter” patches sewn into vests and T-shirts with oft-used quotations like Thomas Jefferson’s famous claim that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

The rhetoric may have been violent, but the overall event was calm — a “peaceful protest,” Brian Moran, the Virginia secretary of public safety, told The Washington Post. A model of democratic assembly.

But that “peace” can’t be separated from intimidation; progressive groups urged members not to go to the Capitol to avoid violent confrontation with extremists. There were no counterprotests or rival demonstrations. The Second Amendment had effectively limited the First.

As I watched the rally, it was impossible not to think through counterfactuals. What if these were left-wing protesters instead? Twenty-two thousand members of the Democratic Socialists of America, armed and threatening insurrection if the Commonwealth of Virginia didn’t establish a system for single-payer health care. How would the state authorities react? Would they give them a wide berth or would they assume hostile intent?