Durbin tests positive for COVID-19 for third time in past year 

Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said Sunday that he tested positive for COVID-19, marking the third time he has contracted the virus in the past year.

The diagnosis means Durbin will miss votes in the Senate this week before Congress is expected to break for the month of August.

“Unfortunately, I tested positive for COVID-19 today,” he tweeted. “I'm disappointed to have to miss critical work on the Senate's NDAA this week in Washington. Consistent with (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, I'll quarantine at home and follow the advice of my doctor while I work remotely.”

The Senate is slated this week to consider the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House earlier this month along largely partisan lines. The legislation was met with sharp criticism from Democrats after GOP-sponsored amendments about abortion, transgender rights and diversity and inclusion initiatives were attached to the bill.

The Democrat-led Senate is likely going to reject the GOP-backed amendments to the bill, which was typically passed with bipartisan support in previous years.

Durbin also tested positive for the virus at the end of July 2022 and in March of this year. In recent months, COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths have remained low compared to the peak of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While individuals can have immunity once contracting the virus, reinfections can be considered to occur as soon as 90 days after the first positive test.

It’s time to celebrate a COVID-19 milestone … with caution

On Jan. 23, 2020, the same day that Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial began, Daily Kos diverted from following that story to cover what was then referred to as the “Wuhan virus,” after the city in China where the first outbreak of the highly infectious disease was reported. At the time of that report, there had been 17 deaths connected to the virus, but with 21 million people under lockdown in China and scientists already working to sequence the virus, that report ended with reassurance that “Restricting the spread of an emerging disease remains a near-impossible task, but health officials around the world are giving it a really extraordinary try.”

That report was the first of more than 500 that would follow. Daily Kos’ coverage included Trump’s promotion of increasingly unlikely outlandish “cures” and Dr. Anthony Fauci becoming a hero to Americans as well as a villain to conspiracy theorists. Seemingly overnight this became a world in which everyone was all too familiar with overflowing hospitals, cheering weary healthcare workers at the end of their shift, and terms like “spike protein” or “variant.”

Since then, there have been another 6,899,724 deaths. Of those, 1,134,710 happened in the United States. At its worst, the level of excess mortalities in the United States rose to an astounding 46%, including not just deaths directly attributed to COVID-19, but those who died because they couldn’t get adequate treatment in a pandemic-driven world.

However, over the first half of this year, the level of excess deaths has hit another very important number. That number is 0%. As far as deaths are concerned, the pandemic may be over.

Right now, a quick look at the CDC data shows that Puerto Rico still attributes 4.5% of deaths to infection by COVID-19. No other state or territory currently has a value above 1.5% and several states are reporting numbers so low that they easily round to 0%.

However, the CDC values also show that many states have quit breaking out COVID-19 deaths into a separate category. That’s a trend that started two years ago, when some Republican governors found it highly inconvenient to admit that people were dying from COVID-19 in their states. But even for those states where COVID deaths are shuffled in among deaths due to “respiratory failure” or “cardiac arrest,” the damage being caused by COVID-19 should show up in the form of excess deaths.

But in the first half of 2023, that signal disappeared.

The chart of excess deaths in the U.S. clearly shows the spike of initial deaths largely centered in the Northeast, where many medical facilities were overrun and life-saving equipment like ventilators became a huge topic of concern. Additional spikes appear as the disease spreads across the country, peaking at the end of 2020 when most states had lowered any restrictions and people traveled to see their families around the holidays. There’s a sharp drop in the rate of deaths in spring of 2021, as vaccines begin a widespread rollout. However, more spikes come in the fall of 2021 with the arrival of the 200% more infectious delta variant, and at the end of the year with still more travel and more family get-togethers. Then rates drop off again before the arrival of the still more infectious omicron variant, which drives a prolonged period of elevated deaths that peaks … with family travel and get-togethers at the end of the year.

Then the rates drop again at the beginning of 2023. And they have stayed down.

However, there’s another way of looking at this, with just a little annotation, that adds a cautionary note to the current celebration.

Looked at this way, it’s easy to see that every year of the pandemic has ended in much the same way, with that travel-related spike in which millions of Americans ran around the country stirring the mix and making sure that the latest variant was spread far and wide. When that spike subsides, each year has seen a big decline in excess deaths. There are two reasons for this. One is probably that following the spike more people have a level of exposure to the latest variant and have gained at least partial immunity. The other factor is that many of the most susceptible died during that holiday spike.

In each of the previous years, that low level of post-holiday deaths continued for some time, but only until a new variant that was either more contagious or more evasive of past infection became dominant. Then the number of deaths rose again.

It’s easy to read into those declining humps the idea that each variant has become weaker than the one before. That’s not the case. Untreated delta in a person with no immunity is actually 3.45 times more likely to be deadly than early variants up to alpha, and untreated omicron is about the same. Contrary to popular belief, there is no evolutionary pressure on viruses to become less deadly. In fact, since the same factors that make a disease more infectious can also make it more likely to result in the death of the host, diseases can easily move from mild to more deadly over time.

What’s different about 2023 so far is that no new variant has appeared that is significantly more contagious, or more evasive, than omicron. Also, the CDC estimates that 96% of Americans have antibodies to at least one variant of COVID-19 through either vaccination or exposure. Put that all together, and you get a season where COVID deaths have just stayed down.

The other big factor is treatment. In 2020, medical workers were in the dark on how to handle a COVID-19 infection. Now, in addition to over 75% of the population being vaccinated at least once, the steps to more effectively treat COVID-19 are better understood. Plus there are new tools like Paxlovid, which can reduce the rate of death even if it doesn’t necessarily help people get over symptoms more quickly. Improved treatment over time is a big factor in why each of those peaks in mortality tends to be smaller than the previous.

That’s fantastic. But it’s also not a guarantee of peachy keen sailing from here on out.

Scientists around the world are still tracking variants of concern, two of which are thought to be more contagious than baseline omicron while maintaining about the same level of severity. Those variants, or others with similar statistics, could become dominant in the United States in coming weeks, creating a new crest in mortality. All of these variants are descended from omicron. Right now, alpha, delta, and all the other variants and subvariants are either essentially extinct or found only at very low levels in the population. Omicron has won the evolution game by simply being more infectious than all the rest—including by being the variant most likely to infect people who have already been infected by past variants.

The good news is that the relative level of change in infectiousness between these latest variants is much lower than the two-times, or even five-times jumps seen earlier. The SARS-CoV-2 virus underwent a period in which the billions of people infected, pouring out quadrillions of new viruses, created a high-speed evolutionary showdown for most infectious virus ever. But having obtained a measles-like rate of contagiousness, the structure of the virus may not offer any other opportunities for big jumps that don’t involve a whole series of changes to the genetic sequence.

So the next big wave may never come—or it may begin next week. But even if the threat still looms out there, the level of deaths at this moment deserves real celebration.

Yes, things could get worse again quickly. Yes, levels of hospitalization haven’t dropped nearly as sharply as deaths, so COVID-19 is still making thousands of people a day very, very sick. Yes, long COVID remains a poorly understood problem that is affecting the lives of millions and will affect both the economy and the stability of health care programs. Yes, COVID-19 probably has more nasty sequelae waiting in the wings that we don’t understand at the moment.

But right now, the number of people dying from COVID-19 in the United States has dropped to a level that is pretty much lost in statistical noise. Numbers that were once going up by thousands a day are now going up by single digits. This is all much better than I expected.

That’s worth celebrating. Just please don’t blow the candles out while they’re on the cake. Because … germs.

Tough guy Jim Jordan turns outrage on teachers, unions

On Wednesday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, where the odious Rep. Jim Jordan tried to grill her on school closures during COVID and “culture wars.” To no one’s surprise, his effort was a flop.

According to the subcommittee’s Republican chairman, Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, the committee’s job is to investigate “the decision-making process behind school closures [during the COVID-19 pandemic] and the effects it had so that we can do better in the future.” 

Weingarten was brought in by Republicans because the conservative movement in our country wants the trials and tribulations we all dealt with during the pandemic—in this case, school closures—to be blamed on workers in all sectors of society, especially teachers and school staff.

Like most Republican-led committee meetings, this one was part circus, part conspiracy theory, and all useless. Committee hearings under Republican leaders are a cauldron of hypocrisies—too many to enumerate here. This committee could have made an effort to actually find out how school closures impacted students and educators. But instead, the general tenor of the Republicans’ questions for Weingarten was “unions and labor rights are bad.” After enduring some new lows from moral sewer-dweller Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who used her time to attack adoptive parents (including Weingarten herself), Weingarten had to answer a series of Jordan’s “gotcha” questions.

RELATED STORY: Marjorie Taylor Greene finally shuts up. It wasn't her decision

While Greene’s attacks on Weingarten were clearly personal, Jordan’s low-level interrogation was an attempt to paint Weingarten as a left-wing radical culture warrior for the implied crime of closing schools during a lethal pandemic. There are very few people who are less smart than Jordan, and Weingarten ain’t one of them, so Jordan’s plans blew up in his face.

Jordan, no stranger to wasting breath, began his interrogation by asking Weingarten, “Who cares more about a child's education, the teacher's union, or the child's parents?”

Weingarten replied that both parents and teachers care about children, and that obviously no one cares for individual children more than their parents. It’s hard to know what response Jordan thought he was going to get, but he evidently didn’t get the one he wanted—so he asked the question again. Weingarten easily circumvented Jordan’s sophomoric line of questioning, saying, “Look, I'm not here to be in a competition. Parents are so important in children's lives. Teachers are so important in children's lives, too.”

Jordan, whose cross-examination style might be a result of watching too many “L.A. Law” episodes, asked Weingarten, “Who are the ‘extremist politicians’?” The attempt to put Weingarten on her heels by employing a non sequitur failed miserably. Jordan read  Weingarten’s writing aloud on the matter of school safety during the pandemic, where she asserted that “attacks by extremist politicians have undermined teachers in schools.” That led to this amazing exchange:

REP. JIM JORDAN: Well, who are the extremist politicians?

RANDI WEINGARTEN: I think you just heard one, sir.

JORDAN: So Ms. Greene’s one of them.

Indeed. Weingarten pivoted to explaining how the conservative preoccupation with “culture wars” is anti-educational, then implied that book banning is a tell-tale sign of having lost an argument. Another swing and a miss for Jordan!

It is important to note here that Jordan—a coward of a man who clearly likes to talk fast but allegedly kept conspicuously silent when young men under his charge were being sexually molested at Ohio State University—pretends to do a lot of busywork when he’s supposed to be listening. It is his attempt to seem like he’s got everything under control, but he so clearly has nothing under control. His next question: “Who started the culture wars?”

Weingarten responded by explaining, once again, that the moment you start banning books about people like Anne Frank and Roberto Clemente, you’ve stepped into a place that can only be called “wrong.” Jordan, desperate to resuscitate his pointless existence on this committee, tried a transphobic attack, which Weingarten redirected back to the question he said he was asking.

The Republican Party’s extremism comes with an enormous price: narcissistic incompetence. Even when they are in control of congressional committees, they cannot turn their circus “investigations” into anything worthwhile. Instead, like all Republican-led committees at this point, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic is mostly a performance art space for right-wing political theater performed by dunderheaded goblins like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan.


Marjorie Taylor Greene is wrong (again): Non-biological parents are parents. Full stop

MTG offers up ludicrous series of questions with fake 'facts' during committee hearing

Twitter has a field day with Jim Jordan's craven behavior at impeachment hearing

One Florida school district with optional masks has had 17 staff die of COVID-19 since August

This is the day the world changed: Three years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic began

On this date three years ago, a man walked into Hubei Provincial Hospital in Wuhan, China, reporting flu-like symptoms. Within two weeks, there were 27 cases showing similar symptoms. Then, just four days before the end of the year, the head of the hospital’s respiratory department, Dr. Zhang Jixian, made a report to state health officials that the cases were caused by “a novel coronavirus.” At that point, the number of known infections was approaching 180.

Dec. 1 may have been the official start of the local novel coronavirus outbreak that would become a national epidemic that would become the COVID-19 pandemic. But it certainly wasn’t the first actual case. As early as March 2020, a review of health records suggested that the first case had actually been seen in Wuhan as early as Nov. 17, and that there had been a steady trickle of new cases for two weeks before that first official case.

It would take another two years before scientists were able to pin down what had been suspected all along—the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was almost certainly the “wet” market in Wuhan, where a wide variety of wild-caught animals were sold for food and traditional medicine. A similar market was the source of the original SARS virus in 2002. A combination of health care records and genetic information suggests that the virus made the jump from animals to humans at least twice in the closing months of 2019, though exactly which animal played host to the virus before it made the jump remains unclear.

With all that, it’s hard to give an official date for when the pandemic that has now generated at least 650 million cases and 6.6 million deaths around the world really began. But today is as good a day as any to say, “This is the day the world changed.”

To mark this third anniversary, it seems like a good time to hit some “highlights” of the pandemic’s early days and how it was covered at Daily Kos—much of which, I’m going to tell you right now, easily devolves into “look at all the stuff I got wrong.”

Dec. 31, 2019 — A doctor in China unofficially notifies World Health Organization (WHO) that it has detected a cluster of cases involving “a pneumonia of unknown etiology.” China would send an official notification to WHO on Jan. 3. 

Jan. 21, 2020 — China confirms that the disease is spreading from person to person. At this point, the number of known cases in China is approaching 300, and there are single cases known in Japan, Thailand, and South Korea.

Jan. 23, 2020 — The first article on the outbreak at Daily Kos. That article got some things right.

The outbreak that began near the city of Wuhan is caused by a coronavirus, one of a number of viruses in a poorly understood group that also includes SARS. … The ease with which the new virus is apparently spread through the air, or through superficial contact, suggests that it may be transferred even more readily than the SARS virus, which killed at least 800 in its initial outbreak.

And some things very, very wrong. 

...officials everywhere have been faster to act, faster to impose restrictions, and faster to identify the underlying cause of the outbreak than they had been in the case of SARS. Restricting the spread of an emerging disease remains a near-impossible task, but health officials around the world are giving it a really extraordinary try.

Jan. 31, 2020 — It would be a week before the novel coronavirus reached the front page of Daily Kos again. In our defense, there were a few things going on at the time—such as Donald Trump facing his first impeachment trial in the Senate. That second article actually came on the same day that the House impeachment managers wrapped up their case. Even at this point, what would become a very familiar theme was starting to emerge. And so was that theme of getting something right, followed by getting something else so very wrong.

... it is time to consider the possible effects of prolonged disruption from interrupted supply chains, shortages of items manufactured in China, or further restrictions of travel and trade. Companies, educational facilities, and city managers are already looking at what it could mean if there is an extended disruption of normal activities—not because the coronavirus is likely to have the devastating reach of the 1918 flu, but because the steps necessary to arrest its spread may mean taking unfamiliar actions.

At that point, the frequency of covered increased sharply—which included me providing now highly cringe-worthy praise of China’s management of the outbreak—and it wouldn’t be a week before the “P” word was being thrown around.

Feb. 5, 2020 — What had started with a tiny cluster of cases a month earlier was now approaching 25,000, and small numbers of cases had appeared in an astounding 24 countries. It was a testimony to both how easily the SARS-CoV-2 virus could be spread, and to how interconnected our world has become.

Still, 2019-nCoV is not yet a global pandemic. Despite some alarming cases, including a number of infections aboard a now-quarantined cruise ship, it remains an outbreak with just one real epicenter. However, keeping things that way is going to be difficult. And expensive.

Feb. 6, 2020 — Just a day later came news of the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, one of a group of doctors in Wuhan who had risked their careers to buck both local and state officials and get out the news about the initial outbreak. Li was a previously healthy 34-year-old. His death would make him not just a martyr to the case of transparency, but a signpost for how bad things might become. Even so, half of the post this day was devoted to staying hopeful that the outbreak in China was slowing down, that measures seemed to be preventing a similar outbreak elsewhere, and hey, didn’t SARS burn out just a few weeks after its first appearance?

It would be easy to present a version of this story that played up all the things that were right in these early articles—showing that this virus would be more transmissible than SARS, warnings about the need for quick intervention to isolate cases when detected, walking through the evidence to show that the virus was not the product of a weapons lab, and predictions about coming impacts to fragile international supply chains—but there was just as much wrong. That included praising policy in China that was not only brutal, but may have contributed to spreading the disease by encouraging people to hide symptoms. There was also a lot of happy, hopeful, “don’t panic” talk that utterly missed the boat on the real scale of the threat and the necessary steps to check the coming pandemic. Also, as happened way too many times over the next year, I repeatedly got lost in the statistics, grinding away at numbers to see if I could squeeze just one hint of a rainbow out of all those dark clouds.

The level of naivete can easily be expressed by this headline from Feb. 11, 2020.

Novel coronavirus deaths exceed 1,000. Are there more grim milestones ahead?

It’s safe to say the answer was “yes.” The number of deaths would double in one week, and of course, that was barely the start of a graph that would lead to 6,641,418, as of today.

Three years later, reviewing those early reports about what would eventually be the COVID-19 pandemic leaves me with a lot of embarrassment. It’s hard to find anything in there that seems all that prescient—or all that useful—this far down the line.

One thing that does stand out in these early reports is just how rarely Donald Trump gets mentioned in connection with the virus, because that’s how little he was involved in doing anything about it. It wouldn’t be until Feb. 26, 2020, that Trump finally got around to creating his infamous task force on the virus, the one that Mike Pence would nominally lead, but which Trump would turn into a platform for promoting quack cures and attacking science.

That came one day after what may have been the most accurate statement issued by any official to that point. 

On Tuesday, Nancy Messonier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, one of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that Americans can expect to see the COVID-19 coronavirus spread within the United States, and that “disruption to everyday life may be severe.“ Messonier acknowledged in a press briefing, “This whole situation may seem overwhelming,” before revealing that she had been warning her own children that they needed to prepare for what’s coming. “Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country. It’s not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but rather more exactly when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”

After making that statement, Messonier was carefully removed from public speaking roles, sidelined from her daily briefings, and not made a part of Trump’s task force.

But no one may have given a better summary of what was coming than she did less than two months after the first announcement from WHO.

‘From homemaker to House Speaker’: Nancy Pelosi’s time in Congress

After almost two decades leading the House Democratic Caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that she will step down from her leadership role in the next congressional session. 

Pelosi became the leader of the caucus in 2003 and became the first female speaker of the House in 2007. She has had two separate stints as House speaker and minority leader but has consistently been a face of the Democratic Party for a generation. 

Pelosi has overseen the passage of many major pieces of legislation during her tenure and was often key to the legislative successes of the Obama and Biden administrations. She also made history on multiple occasions, becoming the first woman to serve in several of the positions she held. 

"When I first came to the Floor at six years old, never would I have thought that someday I would go from homemaker to House Speaker," she said during her remarks on Thursday.

Although she will no longer hold a leadership position, Pelosi will keep her seat in the House to guide the next generation of leaders. 

Here’s a timeline of Pelosi’s career in Congress, from her first election to her announcement Thursday: 


Nancy Pelosi, who served as chairwoman of the California Democratic Party from 1981 to 1983, wins a special election in June to fill the remainder of the term of Rep. Sala Burton (D), who died in office. 

She easily prevails in the heavily Democratic district, receiving more than 67 percent of the vote. She more narrowly defeated a San Francisco city supervisor in the primary in April. 

Pelosi was 47 years old at the time. 


Pelosi sponsors legislation in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing to allow Chinese students in the United States at the time to be able to seek permanent residency without returning home first. 

The House approved the bill unanimously, and the Senate approved it by voice vote, but then-President George H.W. Bush vetoed it, reasoning that he already planned to use his executive powers to give the students the protections the bill would offer. 

The Chinese government also had threatened to cut off future student exchanges if the bill became law. 

The House voted to override Bush’s veto, but the Senate fell a few votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority. 

Pelosi would be a strong advocate for human rights in China throughout her career. 


The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program goes into effect following advocacy from Pelosi. The program, which Congress approved as part of the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990, to provide affordable housing for low-income people with HIV and AIDS. 

The legislation is one of Pelosi’s first legislative victories, and she becomes a proponent of providing protection and funding to help people living with the virus. 


A provision of legislation that becomes known as the Pelosi Amendment goes into effect. The amendment, which was approved in 1989, requires international financial institutions, including the World Bank, to allow the assessment of environmental impacts of proposed loans. 

It also instructs U.S. representatives on the boards of these institutions to vote against any loans not subject to this public scrutiny. 


Pelosi begins serving on the House Intelligence Committee, where she would serve for a decade, making her the longest-serving member in the committee’s history. She serves as the committee’s ranking member from 2000 to 2003 and continues to serve as an ex officio member after. 


President Clinton signs a bill into law to preserve the Presidio of San Francisco following a multi-year effort from Pelosi. The Presidio was a military post from 1776 until the Army closed it in 1994, transferring it to the jurisdiction of the National Park Service and putting its future in jeopardy. 

The legislation creates a public-private partnership to preserve the park and allow it to become financially self-sufficient. Pelosi initially sponsored the bill to provide funding for the park in 1994, and it passed the House but failed in the Senate. 

The effort to pass the bill was renewed in the next session of Congress, which was controlled by the GOP, and was successful. Pelosi helped secure more than $300 million in federal funding for the trust, which was set to be financially independent by 2013. 


Pelosi is elected as House minority whip, the highest rank a woman had ever reached in Congress at the time. She narrowly defeated Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), with whom she would work closely in Democratic leadership, to win the role, which she assumes early the next year. 


Pelosi splits with then-House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) and much of her own party in voting against the resolution authorizing the Bush administration to take military action in Iraq. Pelosi said in a statement announcing her decision that she was not convinced that all diplomatic remedies had been exhausted. 

Serving as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, she said she did not see any evidence or intelligence that Iraq posed an “imminent threat” to the U.S. She remains a strong opponent of the war as it continues. 


Pelosi is elected House minority leader, the first woman to hold the role, after Gephardt declines to run for leadership again ahead of his planned 2004 presidential run. She wins with an overwhelming number of caucus members supporting her bid. 


Pelosi successfully organizes almost unanimous Democratic opposition to block President George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. Bush put forward reforming the program as his top domestic priority days after winning the 2004 presidential election. 

Bush mentioned the plan in his 2005 State of the Union address and said that he planned to use the political capital he gained from his reelection on this initiative, but Pelosi and Democrats rallied opposition from the American people to the plan. 

Polls showed widespread disapproval with Bush’s plan, and the president eventually pulled the idea. 


Pelosi is elected the first female speaker of the House after Democrats pick up more than 30 seats in the body to win a majority. Democrats unanimously chose her as their nominee almost exactly 16 years before her announcement Thursday that she would step down from party leadership. 

She also became the first Italian American to be elected speaker. 


President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, one of the most significant legislative accomplishments of his presidency, into law. Pelosi was essential in gathering enough votes for the legislation to pass, working for months to win over the necessary support from members of the liberal and more conservative Democrats. 

Obama said before signing the bill into law that Pelosi was “one of the best speakers” that the House has ever had. 


Pelosi becomes minority leader for a second time after Democrats lose control of the House. She fended off a challenge from a conservative Democrat to remain the leader of the caucus. 


Pelosi holds onto her position leading House Democrats despite some talks of replacing her after the party lost multiple House special elections in a row. She defended her record at a press conference and her abilities as a “master legislator” and “strategic, politically astute leader.” 


Pelosi becomes House speaker for a second time after Democrats regain the majority in the House following the 2018 midterms. Some Democrats expressed interest in Pelosi stepping aside and the party moving to a new generation of leaders, but she made a deal with them that she would not serve for more than four years as speaker. 


The House approves two articles of impeachment against President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress following an investigation into a phone call he made with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July of that year. 

Pelosi initiated the formal House inquiry into the matter, which concluded that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine to try to pressure Zelensky into launching an investigation into President Biden, whom Trump saw as a top competitor for the 2020 election, and his son, Hunter. 

Trump was ultimately acquitted of the charges in the Senate. 


Pelosi tears up a copy of Trump’s State of the Union address after he finishes delivering it, gaining widespread attention. She told reporters after that it was “the courteous thing to do given the alternatives.” 

Trump appeared to ignore Pelosi’s offer for a handshake earlier. The speech came as the Senate was in the midst of Trump’s impeachment trial. 


Pelosi calls on Trump to resign in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, promising to begin impeachment proceedings if he did not do so or if he was not removed by the Cabinet under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. 

After Trump did not step down and his Cabinet did not remove him, the House impeached him for a second time, with all Democrats and 10 Republicans voting in favor. A majority of the Senate voted in favor of convicting him for the charge of inciting violence, but the body did not reach the required two-thirds majority needed for a conviction. 


Pelosi maintains her role as House speaker after Democrats lose seats in the body in the 2020 elections but keep a majority. She leads House Democrats in passing major legislative accomplishments from the Biden administration, including the American Rescue Plan, to fight against the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the bipartisan infrastructure investment package. 


Pelosi becomes the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan as Beijing steps up its threats toward the self-governing island. She previously visited in 1999 as a House member.

She maintained that the visit did not violate the One China policy, in which the U.S. only recognizes Beijing as the legitimate Chinese government but considers Taiwan's status to be unsettled.


Pelosi announces she will not run for another term in House Democratic leadership but will remain in Congress, representing her House district.

Five investigations House Republicans are plotting if they win majority

From Hunter Biden to alleged politicization in the Department of Justice and beyond, House Republicans have been preparing for months to unleash a flood of investigatory actions and findings if they win a majority in the Nov. 8 midterm election.

Investigations would be a major tool for the House GOP, as many top policy priorities would be unlikely to make it past a filibuster in the Senate or be signed by President Biden. 

With the majority also comes the ability to dictate the focus of hearings and compel testimony and documents, including some that they may have already requested but not received, through subpoenas. That could put pressure on the Biden administration. 

The House GOP’s "Commitment to America" midterm policy and messaging plan boasts that House Republicans have already sent more than 500 requests for information and documents.

Hunter Biden and Biden family business activities

President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden leave Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Johns Island, S.C., after attending a Mass, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Rep. James Comer (Ky.), the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee in line to be chair of the panel, has promised hearings and probes into the Biden family’s overseas business activities.

Republicans on the committee have a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive first revealed shortly before the 2020 election, but say that salacious video and photos in the files are not the focus.

“The reason we’re investigating Hunter Biden is because we believe he's compromised Joe Biden,” Comer told reporters in September.

A top priority for Republicans on the Oversight panel is gaining access to the Treasury Department’s suspicious activity reports from U.S. banks relating to foreign business deals from Hunter Biden and other Biden associates. Republicans have said that the Treasury Department has refused to provide the reports, and alleged that Biden family members have prompted at least 150 suspicious activity reports.

“I think that’ll go a long way towards helping us be able to uncover some questions that the American people have about the ethics, and whether or not the Biden administration is truly compromised by Hunter’s shady business dealings,” Comer said.

Alleged politicization in the Department of Justice


An aerial view of President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate Aug. 10, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Republican trust in federal law enforcement agencies plummeted alongside the rise of former President Trump and special counsel Robert Meuller’s investigation into him, and the sense among the GOP that the DOJ and FBI are biased against conservatives has only grown since that time.

One top topic for a GOP House will be the DOJ’s decision to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August and seize classified materials.

Republicans have requested documents from the National Archives and the FBI related to the decision to refer the matter of missing documents to the FBI and to execute the search warrant. After the raid, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned Attorney General Merrick Garland to “preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”

GOP interest in the DOJ extends beyond Trump, though. 

“The No. 1 thing is this weaponization of the DOJ against the American people,” House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who is likely to chair the committee in a GOP majority, said at the House GOP’s platform rollout event in September.

Jordan has said that his office has received information from more than a dozen whistleblowers who came forward with allegations of FBI bias against conservatives, including the agency retaliating against employees with conservative views.

In a major win for the House GOP, former FBI official Jill Sanborn will sit for a transcribed interview with the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 2. Jordan and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) sought testimony from Sanborn in relation to whistleblower claims that the FBI pressured agents to improperly reclassify cases as “domestic violent extremism.”

COVID-19 origins and policies

A health care worker in Wuhan, China during the initial COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. (Getty)

The Democratic-controlled House created a select Oversight subcommittee on the coronavirus in 2020, and Republicans have complained that the committee did not hold hearings on the origin of the virus.

report from Republicans on the select subcommittee released Wednesday pledged to keep investigating U.S. dollars that flowed to research on coronaviruses at a Wuhan, China, lab, officials who sought to squash the lab leak hypothesis, and state policies that pushed COVID-positive patients into nursing homes.

Republicans from the subcommittee hosted an expert forum, during which panelists said they thought evidence pointed to the virus originating in the Wuhan lab. 

Studies released this year point to natural origins of the virus. The U.S. intelligence community has said the virus was not created as a bioweapon.

Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden who has spent decades as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, plans to step down from his government positions in December. But Republicans say that will not stop them from calling Fauci to appear before Congress to talk about the origins of the virus.

Afghanistan withdrawal

In this Aug. 21, 2021, file photo provided by the U.S. Marines, U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force provide assistance at an evacuation checkpoint during at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

GOP leaders have pledged to hold more hearings on the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021 that led to the deaths of 13 service members in a bombing and the Taliban taking control of the country, saying that unanswered questions remain.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans released an “interim report” on the withdrawal in August, finding that the State Department “took very few substantive steps” to prepare for the consequences in the months ahead of the August withdrawal.

The report said that the State Department failed to provide numerous materials relating to the withdrawal and forecasted the intention to use subpoena power to retrieve those documents as well as have officials sit for transcribed interviews. 

Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) on Tuesday also sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requesting information on how the Department of Defense has “secured, archived, and standardized operational data and intelligence” from Afghanistan. In an interview with The Hill, Waltz said that data is necessary in case the U.S. has to go back into Afghanistan to counter terror threats.

Handling of U.S.-Mexico border

Multiple Republican members of Congress have already introduced articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as as result of the Biden administration's border policies. (Getty)

The surge of migrants at the southern border and the Biden administration’s policies that allow the migrants into the country are top campaign issues for Republicans in the midterms and would be a sharp focus in a GOP House.

“We will give [Homeland Security] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas a reserved parking spot, he will be testifying so much about this,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said at Republicans’ "Commitment to America" rollout event in September.

Deaths of migrants at the border, the flow of illegal drugs like fentanyl into the U.S., and the Department of Homeland Security's ending of the “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum-seekers are other likely topics of inquiry. A letter from Republicans in April accused Mayorkas of having “disregard for the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.”

Multiple Republicans members have introduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas in the current Congress. McCarthy has declined to commit to impeachment of any Biden Cabinet member, saying he will not support a political impeachment, but opened the door to impeaching Mayorkas in an April stop near the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This is his moment in time to do his job. But at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody,” McCarthy said at the time.

Updated 12:47 p.m.

Rand Paul Proposes Amendment To Eliminate Fauci’s Government Position Entirely

Republican Senator Rand Paul has come up with a novel solution to what he considers the Fauci problem. He said he will propose an amendment that would eliminate the entire government position currently held by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

The idea would be to separate his job into three different positions so that “one person wouldn’t have a monopoly of so much power that they could use against their enemies.” 

Paul made his remarks during an interview on Fox News’ “Jesse Watters Primetime” on Monday.

RELATED: U.S. Health And Human Services Spent $10.3 Million On Faulty Covid Tests

Sen. Paul: ‘If you don’t agree with their political opinions, they’ll go after you’

In a statement from his office, Paul argued, “We’ve learned a lot over the past two years, but one lesson in particular is that no one person should be deemed “dictator-in-chief.” No one person should have unilateral authority to make decisions for millions of Americans.”

On Fox, Sen. Paul told Jesse Watters, “I will present an amendment that will get a vote on eliminating Anthony Fauci’s position. I think we should eliminate his position, divide it into three, and appoint three new directors that will be approvable by the Senate.”

“The problem with having only one person and having everything go before him for like 40 years is that he’s monopolized power and he’s created a culture that’s not conducive to scientific inquiry,” Paul continued. “You need people who question.”

“That’s what science is about,” the senator noted. “It’s about questioning and putting forth your hypothesis and then trying to prove it with experiments.”

Paul claimed Fauci has made his job too political.

“But he’s shown, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins, have both shown that they’ll get into the mud,” Paul claimed. “If you don’t agree with their political opinions, they’ll go after you. That’s why, the last time I had an exchange with Dr. Fauci, we asked him about some emails between him and Dr. Collins. And in the emails, he says let’s do a dramatic takedown of three scientists who they disagreed with politically.”

RELATED: Never Trumpers Close Ranks After Pro-Impeachment Republican Gets Blasted By Trump As ‘Total Fool’

Paul on Fauci: ‘It’s long past time that we remove him from government’

“Well, when a person like Dr. Fauci controls $5 billion worth of money, it’s not good that we have a really petty tyrant who wants to take down the people he disagrees with, and that’s not conducive to scientific inquiries,” Paul said.

He added, “So, it’s long past time that we remove him from government. And I think really the power should be split up into three different positions, and then one person wouldn’t have a monopoly of so much power that they could use against their enemies.”

Rand Paul and Dr. Fauci have gone at it multiple over the course of the Covid pandemic and has been a skeptic about government mandates.

He has long called for Fauci to be fired.

You can read Paul’s statement about his proposal here.

POLL: Do you support Rand Paul's idea?

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CNN Analyst And Former Obama DHS Official Demands Police Slash Tires, Arrest Canadian Truckers

CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, responding to the ongoing trucker protest at the Ambassador Bridge, demanded police officers take drastic actions including slashing their tires and making arrests.

Kayyem, a lecturer at Harvard University and former member of Barack Obama’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, made her comments in a social media posting about the ‘Freedom Convoy.’

The Canadian ‘Freedom Convoy’ has been a massive and peaceful demonstration against the US-Canada cross-border vaccine mandate.

For roughly five days, truckers have blocked the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, the largest bridge link between the U.S. and Canada.

Kayyem called for drastic measures to be taken by law enforcement.

“The convoy protest, applauded by right-wing media as a ‘freedom protest,’ is an economic and security issue now,” she tweeted. “The Ambassador Bridge link constitutes 28% of annual trade movement between US and Canada.”

“Slash the tires, empty gas tanks, arrest the drivers, and move the trucks,” Kayyem added.

RELATED: DHS Sends Memo Warning Police About US Trucker Protest Hours After Issuing Terrorism Threat Focused On ‘Misinformation’

CNN Analyst Wants Police To Slash Truck Tires

It’s difficult to understand how a former DHS official would think it a good idea to slash the tires and siphon gas from vehicles if the goal is to clear the blockade.

Kayyem probably didn’t think the tweet through very carefully. But she wasn’t prepared to walk away from her ridiculous ideas. In fact, she expanded on them in a follow-up tweet.

“Trust me, I will not run out of ways to make this hurt: cancel their insurance; suspend their drivers licenses; prohibit any future regulatory certification for truckers, etc.,” she continued.

“Have we learned nothing? These things fester when there are no consequences.”

Needless to say, there was some outrage over her suggestions.

Political commentator Stephen Miller asked, “You think you’re the good guy here?”

“Yes,” she replied. “This isn’t about vaccines. Stay unvaccinated. Your choice. Bad choice. Deadly one. Just don’t close an international border with your whining. So many emotions with you guys. It’s not personal.”

Sure thing. Kayyem is calling on police to respond like a scorned girlfriend in a Carrie Underwood song … but it’s everybody else who is emotional.

RELATED: CNN Personality Claims Trump Is ‘Leader Of A Terrorist Organization’


Juliette Kayyem is yet another example of the type of unhinged extremists CNN has hired as analysts for their programming for years, and at least partially a reason they can’t get intelligent people to watch their shows.

This isn’t the first time she’s engaged in extreme rhetoric and hyperbole to get attention.

Kayyem, days after the Capitol riot, referred to then-President Trump as the “leader of a terrorist organization.”

“Trump is the spiritual, but I will also say operational leader of this domestic terrorism effort,” she ranted. “He tells them where to go. He tells them what to do. He tells them why they’re angry.”

CNN’s Juliette Kayyem calling on law enforcement to slash the tires of truckers isn’t the only one calling for a muscular response to the ‘Freedom Convoy.’

POLL: Would you support an American trucker convoy?

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The Biden administration has urged Canada to use its “federal powers” to end the protest.

“(DHS) Secretary Mayorkas and (DOT Secretary Pete) Buttigieg each spoke with their Canadian counterparts, urging them to use Federal powers to resolve this situation at our joint border,” a White House official said in a statement.

Can you even imagine the outrage if Trump had told a foreign nation to put down a leftist protest?

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DeSantis urges students write about anti-vaxx surgeon general, Big Lie ally for Black History Month

The fact that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis even knows that Black History Month is an actual thing is surprising, but that he ran a statewide essay contest about it contradicts everything he’s been attempting to do to erase Black people.

Remember, this is the same guy who proclaimed he was "taking a stand against critical race theory” in Florida schools and in the workplace by enacting “Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees Act," or the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act.” Not to mention his support for the Parental Rights in Education proposal, colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

So what does DeSantis want the budding young minds of Florida to write about? Well, it isn’t actually impressive Black Americans, nope. He’s suggesting that students write about his anti-vaxxer, numbskull surgeon general, Dr. Joseph “I don’t know a thing about science” Ladapo. A Harvard-trained doc who denies standard COVID-19 mitigations like vaccines and masks over unproven treatments such as ivermectin and monoclonal antibodies

DeSantis also suggested the kids write about Republican Rep. Bryon Donalds, who has been public about having COVID-19, and that he believes that he’s not eternally protected from getting it again and therefore doesn’t need a vaccine.

“I chose not to get vaccinated because I chose not to get vaccinated,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “I already had COVID-19 once, I’m 42 years old, I’m in very good health, I actually get checkups regularly and do all those things. That is a personal decision for myself; members of my family, my wife and three kids, they’ve all had COVID. They’re not getting vaccinated, they’re all healthy. That is a decision they’ve chosen to make.

“If people in the United States are concerned about contracting and being hospitalized and dying, of course, from COVID-19, please go get vaccinated. I will never tell you not to get vaccinated. What I’m saying is: I made a decision not to get vaccinated and it doesn’t matter if it’s you or Joe Biden or anybody else that’s going to stress or want me to get it … I made that decision as a free person.”

Getting the picture? 

He has opposed masking and opposed mask mandates whenever they arose. This included appearances in Cape Coral and before the Collier County Commission.

“You have no authority to mandate what people can put on their body. The fear people are having doesn’t justify it,” Donalds said when he spoke before the Cape Coral City Council on July 6, 2020. “As a council, you have the solemn duty to vote this down and get back to common sense.”

Ron DeSantis’ “Black History Month” essay contest recommends students write about Florida’s Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who shared unproven covid treatments, and US House Rep. Bryon Donalds who objected to the January 6th election certification. pic.twitter.com/mrI6duLizl

— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) February 9, 2022

Like most things DeSantis-related, the motivation must be questioned at the very least, and at the most it should be ignored. The only thing Lapado and Donalds have in common? They’re both Black. 

It’s not about the fact that they’re both Republican (although given what we all know about the Republican Party, that part is questionable), it’s that neither is an example of what students should be looking toward as examples of successful Black Americans, or any Americans for that matter. 

On Jan. 6, Donalds was hanging with his buddies outside the U.S. Capitol during Trump’s rally. 

This you at the rally from the video at the opening of the impeachment trial? Asking for all constituents in #FL19 👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/vSDh1rGGb8

— Dr. Cindy Banyai for Congress FL19 (@Cindy_Banyai_FL) February 10, 2021

And prior to the insurrection, Donalds posted a video of himself walking into the Capitol saying he was planning to challenge Biden’s win. 

“I’m about to sign the objection forms to object to the certification of the electoral college in four states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia,” he said. “It’s important we always uphold our law and the constitution no matter what, and that’s my job here in Congress.”

I’m walking into the Capitol to sign the objection to the Electoral College certification. It’s important we always uphold our laws and our Constitution, no matter what. pic.twitter.com/jg91w8uzqs

— Byron Donalds (@ByronDonalds) January 6, 2021

Donalds ultimately was among 12 Florida members of Congress to object to all four states’ slates of electors. 

Not all skin folk are kinfolk. And I’ll leave it at that. 

Black Trumpkin pastor in Virginia brags about issuing 17,000 religious exemptions from vaccines

It may seem that the Republican Party is willing to condone racism. After all, Donald Trump still has the GOP very much in his thrall, despite his penchant for blowing racist yacht horns—like calling Democratic lawmakers “savages” when he was attacking a Latina, two Black people, a Palestinian, and two Jews. But the GOP is okay with people of color—just as long as they’re line-drawing conservatives. Take the word of Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is of the mind that people of color “can go anywhere”—but “you just need to be conservative, not liberal.”

While Graham was referring specifically to people of color in his state of South Carolina, I suspect that the kind of Black politician he has in mind is Leon Benjamin, a Black pastor from Richmond, Virginia. Two years ago, Benjamin challenged incumbent Democrat Don McEachin in the commonwealth’s Fourth Congressional District—and got his head handed to him, 61-38. He’s back for a rematch in 2022 even though he’s running in territory that is even bluer than its predecessor. But that hasn’t dissuaded Benjamin from going full-on deplorable. How deplorable, you ask?

He’s openly bragging about doling out religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

I first noticed Benjamin late last month. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch caught him speaking at the Phoenix edition of the Reawaken America Tour, a right-wing conference organized by podcaster Clay Clark and co-sponsored by Charisma magazine. At that gathering, Benjamin took a swipe at pastors who guide their flocks to wear masks and get vaccinated, calling them “false prophets” and more.

MAGA pastor and GOP congressional candidate Leon Benjamin declares that any Christian leader who supports COVID vaccines or the wearing of masks is a false prophet: "God would never cover the mouth of a true prophet!" pic.twitter.com/O7N75u1fvC

— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) January 21, 2022

I did a little more digging, and discovered that his full speech was even worse. Benjamin revealed that his church, New Life Harvest Church in Richmond—where he is founder and “bishop”—is offering forms for religious exemptions from vaccine mandates. In my book, this makes Benjamin no different from a drug dealer. But to do so when he almost certainly knows that hospitals are gasping under the weight of the omicron surge? 

Well, it turns out that such considerations haven’t mattered to Benjamin for some time. His Twitter account features this pinned tweet:

The Democrat Party has become the party of division & governmental control. It is no longer the party of great leaders like JFK or MLK. The time to restore our faith in God, not the government is NOW. Support me ➡️ https://t.co/Gfdc58tZ5g pic.twitter.com/SVWatrIDY3

— Leon Benjamin (@Leon4Congress) January 10, 2022

At first glance, this is a typical treatise of why Benjamin identifies as a line-drawing Black conservative. He claims, with a straight face, that the Democrats have strayed from the vision of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy, people whom he considered role models as a kid. And now he has have prostrated himself before a guy who is basically a Dixiecrat, a guy who has spent his political life trampling on JFK and Dr. King’s vision? 

At around the two-minute mark, Benjamin goes from mere deplorable to dangerous. He openly brags that he has written over 17,000 religious exemptions against vaccine mandates. He frames this as protecting “religious liberty” and “freedom of choice.”

The video had me close to screaming and cursing—a reaction that is normally reserved for outrages from Donald Trump. Benjamin has to know that hospitals in the Richmond area, and in the nation as a whole, are being stretched close to their breaking point due to unvaccinated people filling up beds with severe cases of COVID-19. He has to know that one of the biggest reasons that we’re in the third year of this pandemic is that not enough people are vaccinated to protect the elderly, the high-risk, the immunocompromised, and those who can’t (rather than won’t) be vaccinated.

For instance, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and former Secretary of State Colin Powell died of COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. Why? He had multiple myeloma, which attacked his white blood cells and left his immune system weakened, even while vaccinated. Powell was thus dependent on those around him to be vaccinated. Unfortunately, people like Benjamin are making that task more difficult. Benjamin, according to his campaign biography, is a Navy veteran. It's a safe bet that he considers Powell a role model, as do a lot of Black servicemen of his generation. Has he considered, even for a minute, that exemptions like these may have left Powell exposed?

And if you’re worried about freedom, “Pastor,” what about the right of people to not get sick from a deadly virus? Or the rights of hospital workers and other people on the front lines of this virus? Moreover, would you rather see us in a repeat of the stay-at-home orders of the spring of 2020? If you got your self-absorbed head out of your self-absorbed ass, you’d realize that. You’re certainly smart enough to realize it, with your engineering degrees from Virginia Union University and the University of Virginia.

Benjamin is up against nearly impossible odds in November. As a result of redistricting, he’s now running in a district with a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of D+16; the old VA-04 had a PVI of D+10. Even if he wasn’t running as a full-on deplorable, he would need literally everything to break right for him in order to win. Taking his current line, he’s on a death mission. Moreover, a recent poll from Public Policy Polling shows that newly inaugurated Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s rollback of COVID-19 restrictions is backfiring—and bigly. Virginians actually favor mask and vaccine mandates by double-digit margins. 

So why sound the alarm about a guy who is basically a sacrificial lamb? Well, Benjamin is positioning himself to be something of a voice for Black Trumpkins. That makes it all the more important to turn the hot lights on him.

It’s also personal for me, since I came close to sounding a lot like him. Many of you know that in my freshman year at the University of North Carolina, I was suckered into joining a hypercharismatic and borderline cultish campus ministry. While it was the only even remotely racially integrated Christian group on campus at the time, the Black folks in that bunch made Clarence Thomas sound socialist—just like Benjamin does now. I look back on this a quarter-century later, and realize that had I not been able to hold out, I probably would have sounded a lot like this guy. Just thinking that I might have been joining Benjamin in his COVID foolishness—despite how much this virus has ravaged people of color—makes me shudder.