This International Women’s Day, here’s a deep dive into an unsung hero of workers’ rights

On Tuesday, March 8, we can center and honor women on International Women’s Day 2022. Mind you, the news, in general, is bleak. Russia is invading Ukraine, trans youth are fearing for their safety across the U.S., and women are subjected to gender-based violence every single day. Trans women continue to face high rates of physical and sexual violence, as well as homelessness and poverty. Women of color get paid less than white women, and especially less than white men. Abortion rights feel precarious depending on where you live—or really, in general.

In short: Celebrating women is excellent and needed. It’s also excellent and necessary to keep fighting on behalf of actual equality and anti-discrimination. If you’re feeling really, really tired from keeping up the good fight, however, I invite you to dig into some surprising, inspiring history. For me, this looked like doing a delightful deep dive into an influential woman whose history I was barely familiar with. She was the first woman—and apparently, first queer woman—to serve as a Cabinet secretary in U.S. history, and was essentially the backbone of our Social Security system as we know it. 

Her name? Frances Perkins.

Frances Perkins served as the secretary of labor for Franklin D. Roosevelt for 12 years, starting in 1933. She’d known Roosevelt previously, as she served as labor chief for New York state in the time Roosevelt served as governor, as reported by The Washington Post. Perkins, who was in her early fifties at the time, became not only the first woman to serve in the presidential Cabinet, but was a driving force behind Roosevelt’s famed New Deal.

The New Deal included structural efforts to help people during the Great Depression. For Perkins at the time—and in years to come—this meant establishing a minimum wage, ending child labor, expanding insurance for older folks, establishing unemployment compensation, and setting a 40-hour workweek. She even wanted universal health insurance.

Born in Massachusetts to a well-off, Republican family, Perkins attended Mount Holyoke for college. By sheer coincidence, Perkins was in New York for work during the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, where nearly 150 workers—mostly young women—died. Clearly, workers' rights were not just a question of theory for her, but actual daily life. 

In fact, Perkins later referred to the tragedy as “the day the New Deal was born.” 

If you’re assuming Perkins got a lot of flak, you’d be right. She faced an incredible amount of criticism based on her appearance—including reporting on her height and weight, for example—and snide remarks even from her peers in government in reference to her marriageability. Roosevelt was an ally to Perkins until his death in 1945, though she met a fair deal of criticism—including threats of impeachment—on her own, and in spite of the trusted relationship she had with the president.

As reported by NPR, Perkins rarely wore makeup and made an intentional effort to dress plainly and in dark suits in an attempt to be taken seriously by her male colleagues; she rationalized that if she reminded men of their mothers, she’d be accepted by men at work.

After Roosevelt’s death, Perkins wrote a book and went on to teach at various colleges, including Cornell University. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she taught about labor and industries. 

Though Perkins wasn’t publicly out as queer at the time and married Paul Caldwell Wilson, a man who lived with mental health issues and was in and out of treatment, she actually lived with Mary Harriman Rumsey (who founded the publication we now know as Newsweek) until Rumsey’s death following a riding accident. She later lived with New York Rep. Caroline O’Day in Washington, D.C. That home is actually now a National Historic Landmark.

The official website dedicated to her life’s work and history leaves out these relationships, which continues to strike me as I write this piece. Truly, it is sad reading so many sources that erase or otherwise omit her queerness. We can’t rightly say how she would have identified with today’s terms, of course, but total erasure is, if nothing else, absolutely inaccurate. 

This International Women’s Day—and every day—learn, honor, and share about women’s full, rich, complex lives, and not just what’s readily accepted or understood. 

Here is some brief video coverage about Perkins, if you’re interested. 

What women in U.S. history would you love to see highlighted more in mainstream media or school classes? If you’d like to share in the comments below, I’d love to read!

Fox News ‘legal analyst’ forgets the United States jailed Martin Luther King Jr.—dozens of times

Fox News continues its attempts to generate chaos in the United States by reporting on the U.S.-anti-vaxxer-funded trucker protests in Canada. If that sentence sounds convoluted that’s because the concept it is trying to synthesize is hogwash. What has been a relatively small protest by right-wing extremists against public health mandates has been blown so far out of proportion by the Fox News propaganda machine that one wonders if Fox News has more than a little “investment” in it.

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he would be invoking the powers granted to him under the country’s Emergencies Act to try and bring an end to the protests, saying, "The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety. We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue." 

On Tuesday, during one of the hate orgies of make-believe Fox News calls a show, “legal analyst” Jonathan Turley was brought on to speak about Trudeau’s announcement. It was … something to hear.

Turley began by saying the move to use emergency powers was “quite excessive.” Then, without a smirk, without even a smidgen of self-conscious reflection on what a true sociopath he sounds like, Jonathan Turley said this: "By this rationale, they could have cracked down on the civil rights movement. They could have arrested Martin Luther King."

Fox News legal analyst Jonathan Turley, on Canada PM Justin Trudeau invoking emergency powers to deal with the "Freedom Convoy" blockade: "By this rationale, they could have cracked down on the Civil Rights movement. They could have arrested Martin Luther King." pic.twitter.com/s9dwkcvihQ

— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) February 15, 2022

That’s an amazing statement coming from the media outlet that truly hates Black civil disobedience (see: Black Lives Matter protests). It’s also deeply offensive, since it is complete make-believe. 

For one, one of the most famous essays written in American history was written in a Birmingham, Alabama, jail on April 16, 1963—by Martin Luther King Jr. In fact, Martin Luther King Jr. was in jail for “demonstrating without a permit.” He had been in jail for four days before he wrote his essay. Unlike the Canadian trucker convoy, King’s law-breaking had to do with a racist judge, in a racist state, saying that Black people couldn’t hold a protest.

If Jonathan Turley wants to speak to the history of “excessive” use and abuse of state powers, Turley need only look to the at least 28 other times Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and jailed. Blackhistory.com has some of America’s lowlights:

January 26, 1956 -- He was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama as part of a “Get Tough” campaign to intimidate the bus boycotters. Four days later, on January 30, his home was bombed.

March 22, 1956 -- King, Rosa Parks and more than 100 others were arrested on charges of organizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott in protest of Parks' treatment.

September 3, 1958 -- While attempting to attend the arraignment of a man accused of assaulting Abernathy, King is arrested outside Montgomery’s Recorder’s Court and charged with loitering. He is released a short time later on $100 bond.

[...]

October 19, 1960 -- He was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia during a sit-in while waiting to be served at a restaurant. He was sentenced to four months in jail, but after intervention by then presidential candidate John Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, he was released.

[...]

July 27, 1962 -- He was arrested again and jailed for holding a prayer vigil in Albany, Georgia.

[...]

February 2, 1965 -- He was arrested in Selma, Alabama during a voting rights demonstration, but the demonstrations continued leading to demonstrators being beaten at the Pettus Bridge by state highway patrolmen and sheriff’s deputies.

Those ellipses above skip over other frivolous arrests of a man fighting for the right to be treated like a person, not a bunch of dunderheads who want the right to be shitheads because they’re afraid of medicine.

Here’s a fun response.

Fox News analysts already reaping the benefits of banning books, I see https://t.co/zFRBULnb0r

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 15, 2022

Putin uses fabrications about Russians and Ukrainians being ‘one people’ to justify aggression

Vladimir Putin has been bullying Ukraine for many years. But that’s not all. Now, in addition to massing Russian military forces along the border—surrounding his neighbor in what can only be seen as preparation for invading that country—he’s lying about Ukrainians’ very identity in order to snuff out their independence.

Americans know a little something about breaking away from a country with whom we share much in terms of cultural roots. Thanks to history, we also know that when powerful countries start remaking the borders of Europe by force, it opens the door to massive bloodshed.

The lies Putin’s telling these days have a very specific purpose, designed to buttress his bullying. The primary lie is that there are no Ukrainians. He denies their existence as a people, as a community that possesses a national consciousness. They’re really just Russians, you see. That’s why it’s not wrong for Vlad to remake or even erase a border that his country agreed to respect in 1994. He openly violated that treaty in 2014 with his military incursion into the Donbas region of southeastern Ukraine—where he both provided material support for pro-Russian separatists and sent some of his own troops as well—not to mention his outright forced annexation of Crimea. Russia has been violating the agreement consistently ever since.

One of our country’s most highly regarded experts on Eastern Europe, Zbigniew Brzezinski, explained that “without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire.” This is why Putin wants to delegitimize the concept of Ukrainianness. It’s all part of his plan to bring them under his thumb and restore his country’s status as a world power, and also perhaps shore up his political position at home in true Wag the Dog fashion. Invasion seems to be imminent.

NEW: The US believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, and has communicated that decision to the Russian military, three Western and defense officials tell me.

— Nick Schifrin (@nickschifrin) February 11, 2022

WHO’S WHO IN UKRAINE?

Who are the Ukrainians? More importantly, who gets to address that question? Putin clearly believes that the answer to the second one is himself, as he laid out his falsehood-laden response to the first one. This took the form of a Jul. 2021 document titled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.” The two groups are, he claimed, “one people—a single whole … a single people” who have “a common faith, shared cultural traditions … language similarity.” The misinformation was strong in this piece of Фигня.

The article runs through a recitation of historical events extensive enough to make one long for an invasion just to bring it to an end. This 1000-plus year “history” dating back to the medieval state of Kievan Rus’—a loose federation of East Slavic, Baltic, and Finnic peoples in Eastern and Northern Europe that existed from the late 9th to the mid-13th century—is presented in a one-sided fashion that paints the development of a Ukrainianness that exists separate from Russianness as simply false, and as merely the result of foreign influences, ranging from Poles to the Catholic Church to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Political scientist Ivan Krastev noted: “Putin looks at Ukraine and Belarus as part of Russia’s civilizational and cultural space. He thinks the Ukrainian state is totally artificial and that Ukrainian nationalism is not authentic.”

It’s bad enough when a pundit or entertainer tries to define what is and what is not authentic about another group. When the guy doing it has the firepower to actually conquer that group’s country, now we’re talking about a whole other kind of danger.

As for today’s Ukraine, Putin made clear in his missive that he sees himself as the sole and rightful arbiter of what that sovereign nation’s borders should be: “Apparently, and I am becoming more and more convinced of this: Kiev simply does not need Donbas.” In other words: Russia ain’t leaving eastern Ukraine as long as he’s calling the shots. On a side note, Russia doesn’t “need” Donbas either, or benefit in material terms from having some degree of control over it—unless they want a region well-situated to mass-produce Panasonic tape decks.

Finally, Putin presented his conclusion: “I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.” Now that’s what I call an abusive partner. Thomas Friedman, in the New York Times, recently offered a slightly different phrasing that perfectly captures Vlad’s thoughts on the matter: “Marry me, or I’ll kill you.”

An analysis of Putin’s essay at the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan think tank focused on international affairs, noted that it had “been likened in some quarters to a declaration of war” against Ukraine. The analysis included commentary from two experts. Melinda Haring, Deputy Director of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council, stated:

Putin’s delusional and dangerous article reveals what we already knew: Moscow cannot countenance letting Ukraine go. The Russian president’s masterpiece alone should inspire the West to redouble its efforts to bolster’s Kyiv ability to choose its own future, and Zelenskyy should respond immediately and give Putin a history lesson.

Danylo Lubkivsky, director of the Kyiv Security Forum and a former Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine, added:

Putin understands that Ukrainian statehood and the Ukrainian national idea pose a threat to Russian imperialism. He does not know how to solve this problem. Many in his inner circle are known to advocate the use of force, but for now, the Russian leader has no solutions. Instead, he has written an amateurish propaganda piece designed to provide followers of his “Russian World” ideology with talking points. However, his arguments are weak and simply repeat what anti-Ukrainian Russian chauvinists have been saying for decades. Putin’s essay is an expression of imperial agony.

UKRAINE’S HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE

Despite Putin’s propaganda—and the document discussed above is just one part of a far-reaching Russian campaign—the Ukrainian people have a long record of expressing an independent national consciousness, of fighting for their independence from Russia as well as other neighboring states. There’s far too much in his diatribe to refute point by point, but suffice it to say that his denial of Ukrainians’ collective existence is far from fact-based. It’s hard to accept the objectivity of a self-styled historian of Ukraine who, in 2008, Putinsplained the following to then-President Bush, “You don’t understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a state.”

In reality, in the late nineteenth century, at the same time as other peoples in Central and Eastern Europe, proponents of a Ukrainian sense of peoplehood—nationalists, they called themselves—emerged and began building a movement. At the end of the First World War, these Ukrainian nationalists fought to create an independent state out of the chaos in the region, but were defeated. The part of their country that had been under Tsarist Russian control was ultimately absorbed by the Soviet Union, with a newly independent Poland taking the portion that had been part of Galicia, a previously Austro-Hungarian province. At the end of the Second World War, the USSR grabbed that territory from Poland as well.

Since 1991, when the Soviet Union broke apart, Ukraine has been independent, and sought to carve its own path outside of Moscow’s shadow. The current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has cultivated what one Ukrainian journalist described as: “an inclusive Ukrainian national identity transcending the barriers of language, ethnicity and memory that have so often served to divide Ukrainians.”

TRUMP REARS HIS ORANGE HEAD

Zelensky is none other than the man whom our disgraced former president tried to bully into becoming a stooge in his quest to slander Joe Biden. Those actions led to the first impeachment of The Man Who Lost An Election And Tried To Steal It, thanks in part to the brave actions of whistleblowers like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. In fact, Trump as well as numerous right-wing politicians and media figures have all but openly sided with Putin on Ukraine, as Daily Kos’s Mark Sumner thoroughly presented here (and here, on Fucker Carlson specifically).

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman

Vindman, who was born in Ukraine and came with his family to the U.S. in 1979 at the age of three, served as director for European affairs at the National Security Council, and was the top expert on Ukraine in the White House under Fuck a l’Orange. He has urged the U.S. to provide significant defensive military support to Kyiv, and wrote passionately in December about how the land where he was born has evolved since claiming its freedom when the USSR disintegrated:

Over the past 30 years, Ukraine has made major strides in its experiment with democracy. Despite worrying instances of government-backed corruption—undeniably, there is still more work to be done—Ukraine has made hard-fought progress on reform in the midst of war. Six presidents, two revolutions and many violent protests later, the people of Ukraine have sent a clear message that reflects the most fundamental of American values: They will fight for basic rights, and against authoritarian repression.

PARALLELS WITH CHINA AND TAIWAN

We may be seeing some similar developments farther East. After more than seven decades of separation from the mainland government of China, and four decades as a vibrant democracy, the people of Taiwan have increasingly begun to see themselves as having a separate national consciousness as Taiwanese rather than Chinese. For many Ukrainians as well as Taiwanese, the fact that their countries are committed to democratic values, which their erstwhile “big brother” countries reject only serves to heighten their desire to define their separate sense of peoplehood. Both of the larger brothers consider their counterpart’s independence to be a grave offense they cannot abide.

People in Taiwan and China are absolutely paying attention to what’s happening between Russia and Ukraine. Furthermore, the growing ties between Moscow and Beijing—please note the warm meeting between their leaders at the Winter Olympics, hosted by China—not to mention the shared belief that a great power should be able to dominate within a self-defined sphere of influence, offer Putin support for his actions that could counteract potential punishment imposed by the West.

Ultimately, the lies Putin enumerated mask an even more profound truth, one that has nothing to do with an argument about the legitimacy of a particular national identity. Even if Russians and Ukrainians had been “one people” a thousand years ago, or even a thousand days ago, who cares? Things transform in an instant.

DECLARATION(S) OF INDEPENDENCE

Prior to the American Revolution, most of those who were allowed to participate in the political life of the American colonies, as well as their wives and children, defined themselves as English. Nevertheless, they maintained a “right,” as the Founders argued in the Declaration of Independence, to change their minds. Sometimes, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, “it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.” Ukrainians, who want to look west rather than north, and who want democracy rather than autocracy, have made the same judgment regarding Russia.

We know what the Russian president is, and what he wants. This is a man who says the quiet part out loud. He actually lamented the collapse of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe and Central Asia as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” He added that the event represented not the liberation of tens of millions but instead “a genuine tragedy.” Why? Because “tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.”

The borders of Russia should apparently encompass everywhere Russian people live—with the caveat that Putin himself defines who is Russian. It’s up to no one else other than the self-proclaimed father of the Russian people, the bridegroom to Mother Russia, who will gather together once again all his wayward children, including the ones who ran away from home and never want to go back. Please note his foreign minister’s characterization of the countries once under the sway of the Soviets as “territories orphaned by the collapse of the Warsaw Treaty Organization and the Soviet Union.” As for Ukraine specifically, the head of Vlad’s national security council proclaimed in November that it was a “protectorate” of Moscow.

The type of “we’re all one people” ethno-nationalist claptrap Putin has been spewing on Ukraine is at least an echo, even if not a direct parallel, of the language Adolf Hitler used in 1938 to justify the Anschluss that forcibly joined Austria to Nazi Germany and to justify taking the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, as well as aggressive action toward Poland. In all these cases, Hitler claimed that he was simply reuniting people who shared German ancestry—German blood. To clarify, Putin is talking more about shared Russian culture than blood ties, and there’s no evidence he is bent on genocide or world domination.

Nevertheless, a great power committing this kind of aggression—now threatening to commit even more of it—and using this kind of tribal nationalism as a pretext, is something that Europe has not seen for almost a century. It cannot be allowed to succeed, and thankfully President Biden and our European allies are taking steps to make sure that it doesn’t.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of  The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh’s Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)

Trump’s cult of personality is like nothing else in our country’s history

Donald Trump really likes Andrew Jackson. “I'm a fan. I'm a big fan,” he declared about the seventh president at a 2017 event commemorating Jackson’s 250th birthday. Trump added that Jackson’s portrait “hangs proudly” up on the wall in the Oval Office—a place it had not been seen for quite some time until he put it there. Two weeks after Election Day in 2016, Trump’s campaign manager and out-and-out white nationalist Steve Bannon likened his boss’s politics to “Jackson’s populism.” After President Obama had set in motion a plan to have Jackson replaced by Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, The Man Who Lost An Election And Tried To Steal It nixed the effort, although President Biden has since revived it.

The tumultuous events surrounding Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney’s recent removal from the House Republican leadership provide an opportunity to compare and contrast Trump and Jackson in a very specific way—namely their influence on our system of political parties.

For better or worse—okay, in Trump’s case, there’s no question which one—both have had an overall impact on American politics exceeded by a very small number of presidents. Jackson cleaved his party in two on the basis of both ideology and support for his candidacy, while his latter-day counterpart turned his into a body defined by little other than personal loyalty to the leader—in other words, just another Trump Organization.

There are certainly strong parallels between the two—and that’s without even going into each one’s racism. (In addition to Jackson’s well-known and despicable anti-American Indian policies, he was also a virulent supporter of slavery who, as per historian Daniel Walker Howe, “expressed his loathing for the abolitionists vehemently, both in public and in private.”) In big picture terms, both were incredibly divisive personalities who defined an era—Jackson starting with his unsuccessful campaign of 1824 through 1837 when he left the White House after two terms, and Trump certainly since 2016—and who fundamentally transformed the party through which he became a national political figure.

In the 1824 presidential election, Jackson came in first in the Electoral College (and won the popular vote by about 10%), but could not garner an electoral majority as four different candidates won states. John Quincy Adams came in second, but won the support of the fourth place candidate, Henry Clay, and ultimately triumphed in the contingent election held in the House of Representatives. Adams, after being inaugurated, appointed Clay as his secretary of state—each of the last four presidents, including Adams, had served in that position. Jackson accused Adams and Clay of having conspired in a “corrupt bargain,” and slammed Clay in biblical terms: “The Judas of the West has closed the contract and will receive the thirty pieces of silver. His end will be the same.”

Trump, on the other hand, claimed even before the 2016 election that put him in the White House despite losing the popular vote that it would be “rigged.” More recently, he has been promulgating The Big Lie about the 2020 election ever since last November. However, although both men challenged their defeats, Trump’s claims differ from those of Jackson, in that the former and his supporters literally made up wild and crazy events relating to a supposedly fraudulent voting process. One other difference: only one of them incited an insurrection to prevent the actual winner from becoming president.

The election of 1824, and Jackson’s reaction afterward, led to a fundamental shift in our country’s partisan alignment. By 1820, the so-called First Party System—in which the Democratic-Republicans and Federalists competed for power—had basically come to an end with the demise of the latter. President James Monroe ran unopposed in 1820, as the Federalists failed to put up a candidate, and these years were known as The Era of Good Feelings. All four of the major candidates in 1824 were Democratic-Republicans. After that year’s controversial election, Andrew Jackson led his followers into a new organization, which became known as the Democratic Party.

Although Jackson’s personality mattered greatly in this endeavor, there were also ideological grounds on which the old Democratic-Republicans split. He embraced the basic approach held by traditionalists within the older party, namely the Jeffersonian concept of small government that favored agrarian interests. Given the whole Liz Cheney debacle—which we’ll get to, don’t you worry—a real ideological difference seems sort of quaint, no?

The Adams-Clay alliance organized itself not just in opposition to Jackson as a person, but around their shared vision of a more active government—especially at the federal level—that aided the growth of industry and trade. They supported federal tariffs to protect domestic industries, as well as the aggressive building of canals and roads along with the continuation of the National Bank and other measures to promote economic growth—all of which Jacksonian Democrats opposed. The opponents of Jackson were briefly known as the National Republicans and then, after 1832, the Whigs, and their plan was embodied in Clay’s “American System.”

The point here is that the pro-Jackson and anti-Jackson factions developed into different parties built around real policy differences—separate from Old Hickory himself—that defined the Second Party System. Likewise, the next major realignment in the U.S. occurred when the Whigs broke apart in the years after 1850, which created the Third Party System. That shift was motivated by ideology and policy as well. It occurred largely because anti-slavery Whigs refused to stay together with pro-slavery Southern Whigs in a single party, and left in large numbers after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. The anti-slavery forces came together in the new Republican Party.

We don’t yet know what the long-term impact of Donald Trump will be on our political parties and our democracy. Right now, however, there is clearly a divide—as seen in what happened with Liz Cheney. Whatever the final results of that divide turn out to be, recent events bear little resemblance to the divides either of the 1820s or the 1850s.

Rep. Cheney was drummed out of the Republican leadership for one reason, and one reason only: she continued to publicly rebuke Trump’s Big Lie—a lie that has now become a purity test for members of what can realistically be called the Trump Republican Party. There are no ideological or policy grounds that define or separate the pro- and anti-Trump factions among Republicans.

The fact that Cheney has been replaced as the House Republican Conference Chair by New York Rep. Elise Stefanik—whose voting record is significantly less supportive of Trump’s legislative agenda than Cheney’s—makes clear that this is in no way about policy. Cheney remains a hard-right conservative, as her remarks just before the vote on May 12 to remove her make clear: “After today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism.” Cheney may be toeing the fictitious party line about Joe Biden and socialism, but what matters here is that Stefanik supports The Big Lie, and that’s all that matters to the Party of Trump.

Elise Stefanik had a chance to avoid Four Pinocchios. All she had to do was admit she was wrong. instead she doubled down, even after we showed her false claim -- 140,000 suspect votes in Fulton County -- was based on a misreading of a Trump lawsuit. https://t.co/Ghu1XTBN7U

— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) May 7, 2021

Even when, at the last minute, Texas Rep. Chip Roy threw his ten-gallon hat into the ring to challenge Stefanik, it didn’t matter that he had voted for all the right conservative legislation and she hadn’t. Stefanik trounced him anyway: 134 votes to 46. Again, policy and ideology mattered not one iota. Only one issue did.

Key: Chip Roy, with a wildly conservative voting record, can't beat Elise Stefanik, with her comparatively moderate voting record because of one wrong vote. He didn't vote to overturn the 2020 election. IOW, core GOP ideology is The Big Lie. https://t.co/LvsDKsQ61W via @TPM

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 14, 2021

The twice-impeached former president made clear after Jan. 6 that he was going to demand absolute obedience not to any particular set of policies but instead to him as an individual. Republicans made their choice. They could either give it to him or he was going to take his ball and go home. Their decision was purely about what conservatives thought would help them win, nothing else.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham—one of the most notorious flip-floppers on Trump’s fitness to serve—did tell the truth when he admitted why his party continues to bend the knee to the Orange Julius Caesar: “If you tried to run him out of the party, you'd take half the party with him." Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, one of the most prominent anti-Trump Republicans, summed up his feelings by comparing Trump to a North Korean dictator: "It just bothers me that you have to swear fealty to the Dear Leader or you get kicked out of the party."

To demonstrate the ideological hypocrisy of Cheney’s replacing even further, we now know that the House Republicans—whose conservatism supposedly requires them to reject such concepts as representation—mandated that a woman replace Cheney. As Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post commented, they are doing so “because the party—though it supposedly abhors identity politics—needs a skirt to hide behind as it jettisons a strong, independent-minded female colleague.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put out a satirical ad from the House GOP leadership under the heading: “Help Wanted – Non-Threatening Female”

A few right-wing ideologues raised objections regarding this many-layered hypocrisy, but to no avail.

Word is, congressional Republicans are pushing amnesty-shill Elise Stefanik because they want a WOMAN in leadership. Sh!t-for-brains Republicans: NO GOP WOMAN CARES ABOUT IDENTITY POLITICS!

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 12, 2021

Although Cheney has by far received the harshest punishment, the other nine House Republicans who voted to impeach the Insurrectionist-in-Chief for his crimes against our Constitution relating to the attempted coup of Jan. 6 have also been targeted by Trump partisans. They have faced censure votes and, in some cases, will likely draw primary opponents specifically running as more loyal to Trump.

Is the Republican Party going to split in two the way the Democratic-Republicans did after 1824 or the Whigs did after 1854? That’s not happening right now, although in the wake of the Cheney vote 150 prominent Republicans signed on to a “manifesto” titled “A call for American renewal.” The signatories include four former governors—ranging in ideology from tea party favorite Mark Sanford of South Carolina to centrist Bill Weld of Massachusetts—along with a former senator, 27 former House members, a former chair of the Republican National Committee, as well as some relatively high-ranking members of the Trump administration. Daily Kos’ Kerry Eleveld analyzed the statement in some depth here.

This group does not plan to form a new party yet, but rather, in the words of prominent Never Trumper George Conway, sees itself as “a coalition. …There is a need for people who have a conservative to moderate point-of-view and want to believe in the rule of law and … need a place to go and a place where they can organize and support candidates that are consistent with that." In other words, they are looking to create an organized anti-Trump faction within the Republican Party that can, eventually, take control of it. Good luck with that.

On a related note, a very recent study found that learning that Republicans were fighting amongst themselves over the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 victory had a significant impact among those who identify with the Republican Party, but not strongly. The favorability rating of the party expressed by such so-called “weak Republicans” fell by approximately 6% compared to that of a control group who were not given information about intra-Republican squabbling, as well as compared to another group that had been told of strife between Republicans and Democrats. Those weak Republicans’ impression of the Democratic Party improved by about the same amount. That’s even better than if they had become interested in a third party, in terms of improving Democrats’ chances of winning elections.

Republican President Ulysses S. Grant, after the disputed 1876 election that would elect his successor, proclaimed: “No man worthy of the office of President should be willing to hold it … placed there by fraud. Either party can afford to be disappointed by the result, but the country cannot afford to have the result tainted by suspicion of illegal or false returns.” Today’s head of the Republican Party clearly disagrees.

Trump is creating more of a naked cult of personality even than Jackson did. This is not to suggest that Jackson is "better" in some way than Trump. Rather, the contrast is that Jackson's cult of personality was connected to policy differences and a substantive disagreement over a vision for the country, while Trump's is essentially divorced from ideology, and based at this point on little other than fealty to The Big Lie. Likewise, Anti-Trumpists range from true moderates like Hogan and Weld to archconservatives like Cheney and Sanford, and harbor significant political disagreements. 

What Trump has wrought since the election, and especially since Jan. 6, bears little resemblance to previous political realignments or really anything that’s happened before. This kind of purely personality-driven divide is unprecedented in our country’s history.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of  The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)

Assassination, secession, insurrection: The crimes of John Wilkes Booth, Jefferson Davis, and Trump

Donald Trump broke new ground as the first president—the first American, period—to be impeached twice. However, thinking of him solely in those terms fails by a long shot to capture how truly historic his crimes were. Forget the number of impeachments—and certainly don’t be distracted by pathetic, partisan scoundrels voting to acquit—The Man Who Lost The Popular Vote (Twice) is the only president to incite a violent insurrection aimed at overthrowing our democracy—and get away with it.

But reading those words doesn’t fully and accurately describe the vile nature of what Trump wrought on Jan. 6. In this case, to paraphrase the woman who should’ve been the 45th president, it takes a video.

Senate Republicans acquitted Donald Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors twice. So make them pay: Donate $1 right now to each of the Democratic nominee funds targeting vulnerable Senate Republicans in 2022.

Although it’s difficult, I encourage anyone who hasn’t yet done so to watch the compilation of footage the House managers presented on the first day of the impeachment trial. It left me shaking with rage. Those thugs wanted not just to defile a building, but to defile our Constitution. They sought to overturn an election in which many hadn’t even bothered themselves to vote.

What was their purpose? In their own words, as they screamed while storming the Capitol: “Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!” Those were the exact same words they had chanted shortly beforehand during the speech their leader gave at the Ellipse. He told them to fight for him, and they told him they would. And then they did.

“These defendants themselves told you exactly why they were here” pic.twitter.com/6HVsD8Kl0M

— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) February 10, 2021

Many of those fighting for Trump were motivated by a white Christian nationalist ideology of hate—hatred of liberals, Jews, African Americans, and other people of color. Most of that Trumpist mob stands diametrically opposed to the ideals that really do make America great—particularly the simple notion laid down in the Declaration of Independence that, after nearly 250 years, we’ve still yet to fully realize: All of us are created equal. The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was but another battle in our country’s long-running race war.

As Rev. William Barber explained just a few days ago: “White supremacy, though it may be targeted at Black people, is ultimately against democracy itself.” He added: “This kind of mob violence, in reaction to Black, brown and white people coming together and voting to move the nation forward in progressive ways, has always been the backlash.”

Barber is right on all counts. White supremacy’s centuries-long opposition to true democracy in America is also the through-line that connects what Trump has done since Election Day and on Jan. 6 to his true historical forebears in our history. Not the other impeached presidents, whose crimes—some more serious than others—differed from those of Trump not merely by a matter of degree, but in their very nature. Even Richard Nixon, as dangerous to the rule of law as his actions were, didn’t encourage a violent coup. That’s how execrable Trump is; Tricky Dick comes out ahead by comparison.

Instead, Trump’s true forebears are the violent white supremacists who rejected our democracy to preserve their perverted racial hierarchy: the Southern Confederates. It’s no coincidence that on Jan. 6 we saw a good number of Confederate flags unfurled at the Capitol on behalf of the Insurrectionist-in-Chief. As many, including Penn State history professor emeritus William Blair, have noted: “The Confederate flag made it deeper into Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, than it did during the Civil War.“

As for that blood-soaked, intra-American conflict—after Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, 11 Southern states refused to accept the results because they feared it would lead to the end of slavery. They seceded from the Union and backed that action with violence. Led by their president, Jefferson Davis, they aimed to achieve through the shedding of blood what they could not at the ballot box: to protect their vision of a white-dominated society in which African Americans were nothing more than property.

Some, of course, will insist the Civil War began for other reasons, like “states’ rights,” choosing to skip right past the words uttered, just after President Lincoln’s inauguration, by Alexander Stephens, who would soon be elected vice president of the Confederacy. Stephens described the government created by secessionists thusly: “Its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

In the speech he gave at his 1861 inauguration, Lincoln accurately diagnosed secession as standing in direct opposition to democracy.

Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.

Davis, Stephens, and the rest of the Confederates spent four long years in rebellion against democracy and racial equality. In 1865, Lincoln was sworn in for a second term. On the ballot the previous year had been his vision, laid out at Gettysburg, of a war fought so that our country might become what it had long claimed to be, namely a nation built on the promise of liberty and equality for every American. Lincoln’s vision won the election. He planned to lead the Union to final victory and, hopefully, bring that vision to life. Instead, John Wilkes Booth shot the 16th president to death.

Why did Booth commit that violent act, one that sought to remove a democratically elected president? Look at his own written words: “This country was formed for the white, not for the black man. And looking upon African Slavery from the same stand-point held by the noble framers of our constitution. I for one, have ever considered (it) one of the greatest blessings (both for themselves and us,) that God has ever bestowed upon a favored nation.”

As author and Washington College historian Adam Goodheart explains, Booth was “motivated by politics and he was especially motivated by racism, by Lincoln’s actions to emancipate the slaves and, more immediately, by some of Lincoln’s statements that he took as meaning African Americans would get full citizenship.” When Booth opened fire, his gun was aimed at not just one man, but at the notion of a multiracial, egalitarian democracy itself.

Trump may not have pulled a trigger, bashed a window, or attacked any police officers while wearing a flag cape, but he shares the same ideology, motive, and mindset as his anti-democratic, white supremacist forebears. They didn’t like the result of an election, and were ready and willing to use violence to undo it. Secession, assassination, insurrection. These are three sides of a single triangle.

I hope, for the sake of our country and the world, we never have another president like Donald Trump. I hope we as a people—or at least enough of us—have learned that we cannot elect an unprincipled demagogue as our leader.

A person without principle will never respect, let alone cherish, the Constitution or the democratic process. A person without principle can only see those things as a means to gain or maintain a hold on power. A person without principle believes the end always justifies the means.

That’s who Trump is: a person without principle. That’s why he lied for two months after Election Day, why he called for his MAGA minions to come to Washington on the day Joe Biden’s victory was to be formally certified in Congress, and why he incited an insurrection on that day to prevent that certification from taking place. His forces sought nothing less than the destruction of American democracy.

For those crimes, Trump was impeached, yes. But those crimes are far worse than those committed by any other president. Regardless of the verdict, those crimes will appear in the first sentence of his obituary. They are what he will be remembered for, despite the cowardice of his GOP enablers. Forever.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of  The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)

Morning Digest: After surprise disappearance, lying liar Josh Mandel is back for a third Senate bid

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

OH-Sen: Former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is one of our very least-favorite Republican Senate candidates from yesteryear, on Wednesday became the first major candidate to announce a bid to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman. This will be Mandel's third bid for the upper chamber following his unsuccessful 2012 run against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and his aborted 2018 rematch attempt.

Mandel was elected state treasurer during the 2010 GOP wave after waging a campaign that included blatantly Islamophobic messaging. Mandel had little interest in the job he had just won, though, and he almost immediately began plotting a run against Brown.

The Republican ran one of the most revoltingly mendacious campaigns of the cycle: In March of 2012, PolitFact published an article highlighting how "whoppers are fast becoming a calling card of his candidacy," and Mandel utterly shed himself of any semblance of honesty over the following months. This time, though, it didn't work, as Brown turned back Mandel 51-45 while Barack Obama was carrying the Buckeye State by a smaller 51-48 spread.

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Mandel had the good fortune to seek and win re-election in 2014 during another Republican wave, when he performed the worst among the whole GOP ticket, but few politicos thought that he was interested in focusing on his nominal day job. Instead, he announced just a month after the 2016 election that he'd be running against Brown again two years hence, and he immediately emerged as the heavy favorite to win the nomination once more.

Mandel spent the next year running yet another despicable campaign. The treasurer, who wasted little time attacking Muslims again, also defended the men promoting "Pizzagate," the breathtakingly psychotic conspiracy theory that a Washington, D.C. pizzeria housed a child sex ring frequented by top Democrats.

In January of 2018, though, Mandel shocked the political world when he suddenly announced that he was dropping out of the race because of a health problem affecting his then-wife. (The two divorced last year.) Mandel's departure left national Republicans scrambling to find an alternative, and the man they ended up with, Rep. Jim Renacci, went on to lose to Brown that fall. Mandel was termed out as treasurer early in 2019, and Cleveland.com's Seth Richardson writes that he spent the next two years keeping "a relatively low profile, including quietly scrubbing all of his social media in 2019."

But Mandel is back now, and true to form, he's launched his latest Senate bid with a statement blaring, "It's sickening to see radical liberals and fake Republicans in Washington engage in this second assault on President Donald Trump and the millions of us who supported him." (It won't surprise you to learn that it doesn't mention the actual assault on the Capitol that led to this second impeachment.)

Mandel begins the campaign with $4.4 million on-hand from his 2018 effort that he can use for his newest campaign, but, as Richardson notes, also plenty of enemies within the party. Mandel will likely have several serious primary rivals: Jane Timken recently stepped down as state party chair ahead of a likely bid for the Senate, and a number of other Republicans are considering getting in as well.

Senate

IL-Sen, IL-Gov: Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger did not quite rule out a statewide bid in 2022 on Tuesday, but he sounded very unlikely to go for it. "It's not my intention to run for anything statewide," the congressman said, adding, "I think there's probably less of that chatter."

Kinzinger also alluded to his vote to impeach Donald Trump last month when discussing his future. Kinzinger said that people who "speculate that I was taking the positions I was taking to set myself up to run statewide" don't know him and also "probably don't know something about politics if you think I can get through a primary pretty easily."

NC-Sen: Former Rep. Mark Walker earned an endorsement on Wednesday from Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who is one of the most notorious Republican extremists in the freshman class. Walker is the only notable GOP politician who has announced a bid to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr so far, but a number of others are considering getting in.

Governors

MA-Gov: Former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, a Trump supporter who was Team Red's 2018 Senate nominee, said this week that he'd decide on a gubernatorial bid "in the next few months." Diehl had previously expressed interest in waging a primary campaign against Gov. Charlie Baker, who has not yet announced his 2022 plans.

On the Democratic side, political science professor Danielle Allen told WGBH that she expected to remain in exploratory mode at least through the spring. Allen, who would be the first Black woman elected governor of any state, formed an exploratory committee in December.

House

CA-22: This week, Marine veteran Eric Garcia announced that he would run as a Democrat against Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, who is one of the most notorious Trump sycophants in a caucus full of them. Garcia campaigned as an independent two years ago but took last place with just 3% in the top-two primary. Democrat Phil Arballo, who went on to lose to Nunes 54-46 as Trump was carrying this seat by a slightly smaller 52-46 margin, is also seeking a rematch.

MD-05: Activist McKayla Wilkes announced this week that she would seek a rematch against House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who defeated her 64-27 in last year's Democratic primary. Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd is already challenging Hoyer from the left, but he and Wilkes each affirmed that only one of them will be on the 2022 ballot. "I had a conversation with him, and we do plan on consolidating at one point," Wilkes told Maryland Matters. "The main focus is to have a progressive emissary, whether that's Colin or myself."

NC-11: 2020 Democratic nominee Moe Davis said in a recent fundraising email that he was considering seeking a rematch against freshman Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn. Davis raised $2.3 million last year but lost 55-42 as Donald Trump was carrying this western North Carolina seat by a similar 55-43 margin.

NM-01: Two Democratic state legislators have introduced a bill that would require parties to select their nominees for special elections to the House using a traditional primary rather than through a party central committee meeting, but it faces a number of hurdles.

The Albuquerque Journal writes that the legislation would need the support of two-thirds of each chamber in order to go into effect in time for the likely special election to succeed Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland, who is Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of the interior. One of the bill's sponsors, state Rep. Daymon Ely, is also worried that the committee hearing process is moving so slowly that his proposal could be "killed by delay."

NY-22: In an interview that took place one day after he conceded defeat in the extremely tight November election, former Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi did not close the door on a 2022 campaign to return to the House. Brindisi told Syracuse.com, "I certainly have not ruled anything off the table yet. But right now, things are a little too raw and early for me to decide."

Brindisi and Republican Claudia Tenney, who will be sworn in on Thursday, have already faced off in two competitive elections. In 2018, Brindisi denied Tenney a second consecutive term in the House by beating her 51-49 during that year's Democratic wave. Tenney, however, came back last year and unseated Brindisi by 109 votes, though the defeated incumbent still ran well ahead of his party's ticket. According to new data from Daily Kos Elections, Donald Trump carried this seat, which includes the Binghamton and Utica areas upstate, 55-43.

TX-24: The National Journal's Mini Racker reports that 2020 Democratic nominee Candace Valenzuela is considering seeking a rematch against freshman Republican Rep. Beth Van Duyne. This historically red seat in the Dallas Fort Worth suburbs was swung hard from 51-44 Trump to 52-46 Biden but Van Duyne, like almost all Texas Republicans running in competitive House races, ran well ahead of the ticket and prevailed 49-47.  

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: The lobbying group Fontas Advisors, which Politico says is not working with any candidate, has released what it says will be the first of a "recurring series" of polls of the June instant-runoff Democratic primary from Core Decision Analytics. 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang leads Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams 28-17, while the only other candidate to hit double digits was City Comptroller Scott Stringer with 13%. The survey did not ask about respondents' second-choice preferences.

The only other poll we've seen was a mid-January survey for Yang from Slingshot Strategies that gave him a similar 25-17 edge against Adams. That poll went on to simulate the instant runoff process and found Yang defeating Adams 61-39 on the 11th and final round of voting.

There's a long while to go before the primary, though, and this week, the New York Times reported that former White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan became the first contender to launch a "television ad campaign of any significance in the contest."

The spot begins with footage of Barack Obama declaring, "Shaun's just one of those people where he sees a problem, and he will work to solve it." Donovan then appears and tells the audience, "I represent real change. But a change candidate usually has the least experience. I actually have the most." The commercial also features more pictures of the candidate with Obama and Joe Biden.

San Antonio, TX Mayor: Former conservative City Councilman Greg Brockhouse announced over the weekend that he would seek a rematch against Mayor Ron Nirenberg. Nirenberg, a progressive independent, won a second term in 2019 by beating Brockhouse by a narrow 51-49 margin. (San Antonio is the largest city in America to elect its mayors to terms lasting for two years rather than four.)

Back in December, Brockhouse previewed his strategy to once again rally Republican voters in this Democratic-leaning city. The former city councilman said that Donald Trump's defeat meant that "[c]onservatives and faith-based people lost their champion," but insisted that anger with the new national status quo would inspire them to turn out in 2021. Brockhouse also refused to acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect and attacked Nirenberg as a "fearmonger" for his COVID-19 briefings.

Seven others have entered the race ahead of Friday's filing deadline, but there's little question that Brockhouse will once again be Nirenberg's main opponent. The officially nonpartisan primary will take place on May 1, and if no one captures a majority of the vote, a runoff would be held on a later date.

Grab Bag

History: Plenty of governors go on to serve in the Senate but, as we recently noted, it's much more uncommon for members of the upper chamber to try the opposite career switch, and a new report from the University of Minnesota shows just how comparatively rare these senators-turned-governors are.

As Eric Ostermeier writes, "Since 1900, just 21 sitting or former U.S. Senators have been elected governor while 153 sitting or former governors were elected or appointed to the U.S. Senate." Ostermeier adds that six additional people during this time went from the governor's office to the Senate and later back to the governorship.

As we've written before, there's likely a good reason why relatively few senators are looking to trade their Capitol Hill digs even for what's usually a much shorter commute to their statehouse. While many states have term limits that will eventually force their chief executives out of the governor's office, senators can stay in office for decades as long as voters keep re-electing them.

And while some states do allow their governors to seek term after term in office, few have ever enjoyed anything like the longevity that many senators become accustomed to. The longest serving governor in American history is Iowa Republican Terry Branstad, who totaled a little more than 22 years in office during his two stints in charge―a milestone that's less than the length of four Senate terms.

Still, some senators do like the idea of leading their state rather than continuing on as just one member of a 100-person body, and a few do end up running for governor. Ostermeier reports that four sitting senators over the last two decades have competed in a gubernatorial general election, and three prevailed: Alaska Republican Frank Murkowski and New Jersey Democrat Jon Corzine won their sole terms in 2002 and 2005, respectively, while Kansas Republican Sam Brownback would be elected to lead Kansas in 2010 and 2014.

The fourth member of this group was Louisiana Republican David Vitter, who lost to Democrat John Bel Edwards in a 2015 upset. (At least one other sitting senator during this time period, Texas Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, also ran for governor during this time, but her campaign ended in the primary.)

We may see a few current or former senators try to claim the governorship this year, though. The Omaha World-Herald recently reported that Republican Sen. Deb Fischer is considering a run to lead Nebraska, while former GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte has been mentioned as a possible successor for New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu should he run against Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan―who made the jump from governor to senator in 2016 by beating Ayotte.

Community Spotlight: The Daily Kos Community reacts to history in real time

We haven't gotten the chance to celebrate the victories of Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the Georgia runoff elections that, against the expectations of most pundits, delivered the Senate into Democratic hands and demoted Mitch McConnell to head of the minority. That great good news was immediately swallowed by the attempted violent overthrow of Congress.

In the earliest aftermath of any emergency, it's almost impossible to make sense of exactly what happened. This attack is no exception—what appeared at first to be a disorganized mob has, in the space of one short week, been revealed to be a coordinated attack, with elements reaching inside law enforcement, the military, and possibly the Congress itself. All of those threads will have to be traced and the perpetrators held accountable, starting with the President and Inciter-in-Chief himself.

Like the world's worst Polaroid, the full picture will take time to appear.

Fortunately, we have that time. The coup failed, but the price was high. We are only now learning that our government came within a hair's breadth of murderous collapse. The aftermath has left a revanchist Republican party in near-collapse and its malevolent leader howling as, first Twitter, then party support, then business and grifting opportunities and finally—and most woundingly—his treasured golfing creds were stripped from his grasp.

As Besame noted last week, the Daily Kos Community is acutely responsive to the news cycle, and when a crisis shakes the country, the Community pivots to analysis and reflection. Of the 14 rescued stories published this week, 12 focus in some way on the attack or its fallout.

There will be time to take account of it all. And time for the other paradigm shift to sink in: Senators Warnock and Ossoff will change the Senate, not only because their presence gives the Democrats the majority, but because of who they are—the legislation they will shape, the leadership they will assume, the moral force they will bring to bear. A better day is coming for the nation because of their victories. We'll have the chance to celebrate, even in the midst of crisis, exactly how monumental their victories were. Because they will likely be sworn in about the same time as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the Biden administration will have the power to hold the planners and perpetrators of this attempted coup to full account, no matter where they are, or how powerful they think themselves to be.

And there'll be time to savor their victories. Let's not let that get lost.

Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover outstanding work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday. Rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition: ”Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years.” You also can find a link in Meteor Blades’ “Night Owls” series, which publishes daily between 10-11PM EST.

14 RESCUED STORIES FROM 4PM EST FRIDAY, JAN. 8, TO 4PM EST FRIDAY, JAN. 15, 2020

Why Impeach Again Now by dratler observes that President Trump’s first impeachment didn’t catch the public’s interest because Ukraine is a distant country and obstruction of justice requires some knowledge of the law. The attack on Congress, on the other hand, is a visceral and visible attack that can’t be explained away. “As time goes on, we are attending places of worship less and less often. The seat of our government—especially the Capitol—is our common secular temple. You can see the awe and reverence in the faces of tourists who visit our capital every day.” The attack on the Capitol was an attack on all Americans, and it demands a commensurate response. Dratler joined the Daily Kos community nearly five years ago and has authored 85 stories, five of which have been rescued.

In The Coming Crisis, Treats writes, “I’ve never wanted to be wrong about anything more than now.” Treats examines rise of American authoritarianism and warns that its power won’t wane when Trump is gone from public life. “We face in this country right now a long-term, vicious, and ruthless insurgency that will inflict all the terror they can on this nation in order to destabilize it to the point where in the chaos they can take permanent power.” Although its success is not assured, the author warns that we cannot ignore or minimize the dangers this faction poses. A nine-year Kossack “(s)till searching for that tidbit of truth and knowledge to be found here and there,” Treats has authored 31 stories, eight of which have been rescued.

In If you want the wound to heal, take the knife out of it first, LimeyExpatDave likens the United States to a wounded patient in a trauma ward. The assault on the Capitol, he argues, is not the knife-in-the-back moment for democracy, but is instead a deepening of the wound the country sustained the first time we did not demand accountability for a lawless government. “If these actors, the politicians and their followers, who lied, cheated and violated the law  to stab American democracy in the back, are allowed to escape consequences then the wound cannot heal. America has swept these people under the rug so many times that the rug is now within three feet of the ceiling and you’re crawling around on it on your hands and knees, dodging the light fixture!” A prolific commenter, LimeyExpatDave is the author of 43 stories. This is the first time the nearly 13-year Kossack has been rescued. 

Driving through a deep-red farm country on the way to Walmart and Tractor Supply, where Trump support is deep and stalwart, first-time writer and new Kossack YoniL notes a lack of Trump signs and Trump flags, and a proliferation of clean rectangles on vehicles, visible signs “indicating where bumper stickers had been removed. ‘Blue Lives Matter’ stickers were still there, but next to them you could see the tell-tale signs of newly exposed adhesive.” Republicans Denying Trump Faster than Peter Denied Jesus (not equating the two) is a grassroots peek into a new reality in Trump Country. It appears that his ardent supporters are now ready to say “Trump who?”

In The first lies … the ones we tell ourselves, vjr7121 reviews the lies that the media and punditry have told to soften the threat that the Trump regime posed to the country, and argues for a full investigation, accounting, and justice, on behalf of the public and the rule of law. The founding lie, however, is the one we all accepted: American exceptionalism, and the attendant idea that “we owed our ‘home teams’ support for even bad decisions and poor policies … The sickness is not a foreign pathogen and is not based on party affiliation, it is rooted in beliefs (of our nation’s founding).” Vjr7121, a retired educator, sometime writer, and full-time liberal, has written 164 stories for Daily Kos, 23 of which have been rescued.

Whytewolf explores the limits of free speech in the United States in Now More Than Ever: Why We Need the Exercise of Free Expression. Noting that free speech limits are more clearly defined in other Western democracies than they are in the U.S., and that we are unlikely to impose legal restraints on free speech without amending the Constitution, whytewolf considers the ways that absolutists abridge the right to free speech, and how those abuses can be countered. This is whytewolf’s eighth story, and the fourth to be rescued.

In The Road to Hell, A Pagan in Arizona recounts growing up in an evangelical church that always mixed right-wing politics with faith, and how after leaving the church, the author “didn't think about it much. Until 2016, when I started hearing Pastor What's His Name's rhetoric being repeated very often and very loudly. As if someone had exhumed his ideas and repeatedly dosed them with meth.” In a region where Trump flags are still flying, A Pagan in Arizona wonders whether the evangelical neighbors will agree that it was God’s will that Biden was elected. A new Kossack, A Pagan in Arizona is a “Flaming Liberal hedgewitch and artist” who has authored eight stories. This is the first one rescued.

Woodworker brings a change of pace and a somewhat change of subject in The transformative power of the arts. Realizing that “the Republican party has been the sanctuary for some time now for those we excuse as ‘harmless crazed folks’ when they come to the dinner tables of the sane,” Woodworker offers the example of an uncle who found healing in art, and counsels that, “When we craft useful beauty, we are also crafting something within ourselves. The transformation that can take place in wood (or through work in other materials) is also a transformation of self.” A 12-year member of the Daily Kos Community, Woodworker has authored 26 stories, three of which have been rescued.

New member and first-time writer Europeananalyst argues that Trump supporters are not delusional, but are instead determined to hold power at all cost in MAGA Mob does NOT believe in Election Fraud, they’re dishonest traitors.  Drawing from two Italian political mottos to explain what is happening with Trump supporters, the author speaks from the perspective of someone who "learned at an early age, dealing with the communists in my home country, that is pointless to argue with dishonest people." 

In the first true break of subject this week, Brecht captures that lightning-in-a-jar moment in writing in Write your own Bookchat in 2021. While encouraging other Kossacks to write about the books they love in the long-running series Bookchat series, he revisits his first crafted and polished story and its effect on him: “Writing offered me a physical toolkit to test and shape my ideas into more complex stories. A fine novel can be a grand loom, to lay out subtle and interwoven truths, in a rich tapestry of life,” and asks others to do the same. A member of the Daily Kos Community since 2005, Brecht has written 95 stories, 45 of which have been rescued. He resides in Los Angeles with extensive literature and music libraries.

In The House Members Who Voted in 3 Presidential Impeachments, billyleeblack16 takes a dive into impeachment history and finds that “nine House Republicans who voted to both impeach Bill Clinton over a blowjob ... voted against impeaching Donald Trump over inciting an armed insurrection against Congress,” to the astonishment of few indeed. One GOP congressman back in the day—Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan—voted to impeach Clinton, passed on Trump the first time, but voted to impeach the second time, ensuring Upton will be a piece of presidential trivia someday, as the only congressperson to vote to impeach two different presidents. Billyleeblack16, who is neither Billy, nor Lee, nor Black—nor 16 —has written 17 stories, four of which have been rescued.

Taking the aphorism “We are all the hero in the movie of our life” as a starting point, new CCommunity member theghostofjohndewey connects Frodo, Luke Skywalker, and the archetypal QAnon conspiracist under the umbrella of Joseph Campbell’s Hero of a Thousand Faces. The "hero’s journey" is a three-part process that repeats in both modern stories and ancient myths. Theghostofjohndewey explains how the structure of Departure, Initiation and Return act in the monomyth of a QAnon conspiracist. It's not about what is real, but what that person believes is real. Q and The Hero’s Journey (A Shared Delusion) is the author’s fourth story and first rescue.

JenMerrill and her 21-year-old son Lucas rented a hotel and a car, and beat the pavement in Georgia for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, door-knocking and contacting voters face to face. What My Son and I Discovered When We Dipped Our Feet into Georgia Politics recounts their adventures talking to voters in Greene County, where they discovered the power of meeting voters where they live. In the end, they “decided we loved the African Americans of Greene County — the white people we encountered, not so much.” On Election Day, Lucas served as a poll watcher—the only Democratic poll watcher in a sea of Republicans who “almost managed to keep him out” but, in a nail-biter, didn’t. This is proud mom JenMerrill’s second story and first rescue.

Joe Biden will not be inaugurated Jan. 20 announces that, thanks to 100,000,000 write-in votes, the author comeaug will be president instead, and expects to hold office for about three weeks. If you hadn’t heard about the real election because the corporate media is in the bag for Biden and Harris. Extolling the benefits of being an outsider, comeaug promises “to use the Trump method to MAGA. First, I will make America really crappy, and then it will be easy to bring it back (I think).” Comeaug has authored 11 stories with this first-rate parody being the first rescue.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by Community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.

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Here’s a list of all the times Trump’s tried to ‘cancel’ everybody in mythic ‘cancel culture’

Deep into August, Donald Trump has found a new company/organization/concept to boycott in the name of his, and other conservatives’, mythical battle against “cancel culture.” Goodyear, calling for equity in the workplace, has brought down the MAGA monster. A company that employs more Americans than the entirety of the coal industry is under attack from the famed billionaire faux job creator. Cancel culture is the new bugaboo term for “political correctness,” which is soooooo 1990s. The misleading idea behind cancel culture is that people who are targeted for not believing in liberal social justice policies are constantly under threat of being “canceled.” Being canceled means that you lose all of your First Amendment rights! Not really, but as dozens of very free to speak and make money off of that speaking people will tell you, they are being canceled all the time. In fact, it seems that there is a lot of money to be made telling (mostly) white males that they are being oppressed and canceled and their freedom of speech is under attack.

In fact, if you just continue to talk about it enough, freely and without any chance that the government is going to throw you in jail for saying whatever hypocritical bullshit comes into your mind, you might be able to make lots of money—or at least find a right-wing piggy bank to float your boat. Or you can be the president of the United States and actually represent very real attacks on Americans’ freedom of speech. Below is a rough list of all the companies and people Trump has dismissed, fired, or tried to cancel through boycotts and the like. 

For the purposes of this list we will count all of the “resignations” in our government, like former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as dismissals or firings. These are times that Donald Trump canceled the people he had ostensibly hired to help run the government for the American people. The turnover of Trump’s White House staff in the first year of his reign was considerably higher than the previous five most recent presidents, as the Brookings Institute has chronicled.

According to Wikipedia, since the end of May of 2020 there have been 415 unique names dismissed and/or resigned” from this Trump administration. That includes all those names that seem like a billion years ago now: luminary opportunists like Reince Priebus, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, John Bolton, Scaramucci, Omarosa, and James Mattis. That’s just a handful. And most of those people were detestable in the first place. Then there’s the list of people like former Army Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman and climate scientist Joel Clement, who seem to have been trying to work in the government under the mistaken belief that they should be proud, honorable, and have integrity in their work.

But back to Trump trying to use his position of power, both before and after becoming president, to destroy his perceived enemies for … usually demanding justice for humans. 

Trump has called for boycotts against and/or firings of:

Media sites:

CNN

Univision

Fox News

Rolling Stone magazine

HBO

New York Magazine

Vanity Fair magazine Editor Graydon Carter

The Wall Street Journal’s entire editorial board

The Dallas Morning News and seemingly all local Arizona newspapers

Organizations and businesses:

The NFL

Apple

MACY’s

Harley Davidson

Glenfiddich (the Scotch)

AT&T (with twofer that includes CNN again)

Amazon

Goodyear

People:

Bill Maher

Megyn Kelly

Charles Krauthammer

Katy Tur

Karl Rove

Any and all athletes who kneel during the playing of the National Anthem

Debra Messing

Paul Krugman

Chuck Todd

Countries:

The country of Mexico

The country of Scotland

The country of Italy

Chinese products

This is not the definitive list. But I think I may have developed carpal tunnel syndrome just typing it. I’m sure you can add more below.

Trump’s new press secretary on Feb. 25: ‘We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here’

On Tuesday the White House announced that scam artist phantom Stephanie Grisham was out as press secretary. Vapid right-wing talking head Kayleigh McEnany was announced as the new White House lying machine. While Grisham decided to be mysteriously invisible during her time as the White House’s main liaison to the media, McEnany has a more boisterous personality with a more storied history of spewing lies and wrongheaded predictions. For example, here she is on Fox News with now-fired Trish Regan on Feb. 25 of this year. What’s she predicting? That Trump will stop the spread of COVID-19 by way of a travel ban on China? Yes. Let’s hear about it, Kayleigh!

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: This president will always put America first. He will always protect American citizens. We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here. We will not see terrorism come here, and isn't it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama.

You can even watch her saying it!

On the same day Larry Kudlow said coronavirus was �contained� on Feb. 25th, Trump�s campaign spox made an even more bold claim. �We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here..and isn't it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama." pic.twitter.com/O0DDH3Rvkw

— andrew kaczynskiðÂ�¤Â� (@KFILE) April 4, 2020

McEnany has been auditioning for this part for some time now, as has virtually everyone who appears regularly on state misinformation channel Fox News. She’s checked all of requisite boxes of fealty, like saying impeachment proceedings—and in fact any criticism of Donald Trump—amounted to participating in a coup d’etat of our government

McEnany began her right-wing career speaking on CNN as a talking head, but quickly found that running into even the most modest of pushback on her talking points led to her stressing out and blinking strangely, as can be seen in this clip from a couple of years ago.

McEnany has done all the things one expects. She’s called the Mueller report an “exoneration” of Donald Trump; she’s done the softball interviews of truly awful Trump cabinet members like Betsy DeVos; and she’s tweeted out real through-the-looking-glass misinformation, like this:

BIG NEWS from President @realDonaldTrump�s Chinese Virus task force briefing! Dr. Birx shared that 40% of the country now have "EXTRAORDINARY LOW NUMBERS" of cases�� 19 of 50 states have less than 200 cases!

— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) March 26, 2020

But what may have finally gotten Kayleigh the job is her loud, fact-free, and enthusiastic delivery of conservative talking points with seemingly no shame whatsoever. But let’s never forget McEnany’s humble, racist, beginnings.

The new White House press secretary, ladies and gentlemen pic.twitter.com/y3m9YAPtAr

— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) April 7, 2020

Tuesday, Apr 7, 2020 · 7:44:15 PM +00:00 · Walter Einenkel

This quote from Grisham, given to Axios before she was officially replaced, is worth adding here: “Sounds like more palace intrigue to me, but I’ve also been in quarantine. If true, how ironic that the press secretary would hear about being replaced in the press.”

Nixon backers’ obits suggest history won’t be kind to those who don’t support Trump impeachment

Ryan Goodman, editor in chief over at Just Security, published a very interesting piece on Wednesday. In it, Goodman goes back through history and looks at the 10 Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee who voted both for and against the impeachment of then-President Richard Nixon in 1974. More importantly, he looks at their obituaries to see whether his backers’ decisions to support a clearly unhinged and corrupt politician were remembered. According to Goodman, not only was it mentioned in these long-deceased officials’ obituaries, but it was the defining moment of their careers. Reading some of obituary headlines, you begin to get the scope.

“Former Rep. Joseph Maraziti, 78, Defender of Nixon on Watergate”

“Wiley Mayne; House GOP Member Who Voted Not to Impeach Nixon”

“Sandman, Nixon Supporter, Dies”

“Charles Wiggins, 72, Dies; Led Nixon’s Defense in Hearings”

Alternately, Goodman looked at the obituaries of Republican congressmen who voted in favor of impeaching Nixon. Those GOP officials’ careers were also definitively marked by their decision to break with party rank-and-file to make the right decision. 

Just Security is a U.S. national security law and policy think tank and media outlet.