PHILADELPHIA — Four men who had been incarcerated in Philadelphia jails died over the last two weeks, raising the death toll to 18 people this year. It is the highest mortality rate in recent memory at city jail facilities that have been beset during the pandemic by assaults, riots, severe staff shortages, a federal lawsuit, and a grand jury investigation. The city's jail mortality rate is now more than double the most recent national average, recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Jerome Lyles, 62; Bartholomew Gottshalk, 52; and Angel Torres-Rosado, 42, were all incarcerated on no...
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Every metamorphosis the newly imported West Coast multimillionaire executes is calculated.
The baby-faced bestseller grew a beard to morph from Silicon Valley elite to Midwestern mint when he moved from California to Ohio to run for the Senate seat. To compete with primary rivals jostling for a coveted (?) endorsement from the most corrupt president in American history, Vance did a 180-degree transition from Never-Trumper to Uber-Trumper.
He changed from center-right to full-on MAGA, embracing the far side of fanatical and everything the Dear Leader fabricated about a legitimate election he lost. Vance’s strategic conversion to the cult of personality paid off with a last-minute blessing from the loser. That affirmation (from an amoral psychopath) and the millions spent on his behalf by a billionaire benefactor, propelled Vance to a narrow primary victory.
As Nov. 8 closes in, the Hillbilly Elegy author has reinvented himself again. What worked on a rabid MAGA base might make general election voters, suburban moms, and independents recoil in horror. Vance must smooth the scary edges of his radical makeover. Appear more mainstream than extreme. To that end, his campaign rolled out its first TV ad for a broad electorate with a decidedly feel-good, instead of fascist bent.
The comfy commercial, narrated by Vance’s soft-spoken wife against a muted home background, extolls the virtues of a family-loving Republican who came up hard the way, served in the military and wants to fight for Ohio. Typical political fare of warm and fuzzy to mitigate immoderate and doctrinaire.
Of course, it tells Ohioans absolutely nothing about who Vance is, what he believes in, what he’ll do as a U.S. Senator and which campaign incarnation of the 38-year-old’s is authentic or opportunistic. But Vance’s exposure during the primary as a fascist-admiring extremist only Tucker Carlson could love tells voters plenty about his anything-but-mainstream positions.
The real deal is a real authoritarian who envisions a society under the jackboot of righteous conformity rigorously enforced. Gilead, if you will. But don’t take my word for it. Take his.
Vance talks about purging the government of nonbelievers, seizing the “institutions of the left,” replacing the American “regime” with loyalists of the New Right. “I think that what Trump (after he runs in 2024 and installs himself as king) should do, if I were giving him one piece of advice: Fire every single midlevel bureaucrat, every civil servant in the administrative state, replace them with our people.”
Vance uses “our people” as code for white Christian nationalists. “Our people aren’t having enough children to replace themselves.” When he fixates on babies and the need for more of them —which is all the time — Vance is not referring to nonwhite babies or immigrant babies. More of those babies, from an immigrant “invasion,” would replace real Americans. “You can’t have so many people coming to the country at a time when our own families aren’t replicating themselves.”
Dog whistle for the racist “white replacement theory.” When Vance isn’t obsessing over white birthrates and white fertility, he’s suggesting parents should get more votes than nonparents. So much for one man, one vote. Why can’t we incentivize bigger families like Hungary’s authoritarian leader, he asked, before submitting that the more babies parents have the more power they ought to wield over childless Americans. Extreme enough for you?
Women need to get with the program in Vance’s 1950s version of 2022. He insinuated that they’ve been duped into day jobs to ditch motherhood. “If your worldview tells you that it’s bad for women to become mothers but liberating for them to work 90 hours a week in a cubicle at the New York Times or Goldman Sachs,” Vance tweeted, “you’ve been had.” Gullible ladies should be tending to home and hearth and American babies.
As if that wasn’t insulting enough to over half the voting population in Ohio, Vance wants to ensure that women have no choice about having babies. “It’s not whether a women should be forced to bring a child to term,” he said, (about his forced-birth, abortion bans without exception platform) “it’s whether a child should be allowed to live, even though the circumstances of that child’s birth are somehow inconvenient or a problem to society.” Like the inconvenient pregnancy of a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio Vance would have give birth.
The Republican blamed a combination of abortion, (which Vance compared to slavery) and porn for stopping Americans from getting married and starting families. He’d ban pornography and “would like abortion to be illegal nationally” but backpedaled on a federal ban “right now.” The family guy in the 30-second Hallmark homage also supports people staying in violent marriages for the sake of children. (and more babies?)
Vance is shedding his right-wing veneer in an idyllic political ad about a man who loves his wife and kids. The smiling millennial with a Midwestern beard, from his last metamorphosis, isn’t wearing a red hat but that doesn’t belie the snakeskin he’s stepping over.
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In six key battleground states that played a decisive role in the 2020 presidential race, Republican candidates who have openly embraced former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie" have won nearly two-thirds of the GOP nominating contests for positions with power over state and federal elections, a potentially seismic threat to democracy.
According to a Washington Post analysis published Monday, 54 of 87 Republican nominees for key posts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have denied the legitimacy of President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory.
"Had those candidates held power in 2020, they would have had the electoral clout to try something that the current officeholders refused: overturning the vote and denying Biden the presidency," the Post notes. "Whether they could have succeeded in practice is a matter of vigorous debate among scholars, who cite the potential for court challenges and other means of upholding the results."
"But the experts agree on one thing: A close presidential contest that comes down to the outcome in states where officials are willing to try to thwart the popular will could throw the country into chaos," the newspaper adds. "It would potentially delay the result, undermine confidence in the democratic system, and sow the seeds of civil strife on a scale even greater than what the nation saw on January 6, 2021."
Trump, who is gearing up for a possible 2024 run as he's under criminal investigation by the Justice Department, has endorsed and campaigned for many of the candidates featured in the Post's analysis, including Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake—a former TV news anchor whose incessant lies about the 2020 election catapulted her to a win in the GOP primary earlier this month, delighting the former president.
Even in victory, Lake lashed out at the Arizona election process, complaining that the results "took longer than they should have."
The Post's analysis confirms that Arizona, a state Biden carried narrowly in 2020, is a bastion of election denial on the GOP side: 12 of 13 Republican nominees for state and federal offices there have questioned the election, including the chosen candidate for secretary of state.
Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called the rise of GOP election deniers across the U.S. "the biggest story not enough people are watching."
"This is how our democracy could crumble, quickly and quietly," Bookbinder warned.
The notion that Biden was elected illegitimately is broadly popular with Republican voters, according to recent opinion surveys. As the Post points out, "The predilection among Republican primary voters toward candidates who deny the result of the last election extends well beyond Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona—three states that together accounted for 47 electoral votes in 2020, more than enough to flip the last election to Trump."
Ian Vandewalker, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, wrote in a blog post earlier this month that "the Big Lie that the election was stolen from Trump has been pushed by powerful politicians, starting with Trump himself."
"But it may be leaders closer to home who have the greatest ability to affect the popularity of election denial among the people of their state," he added.
One prominent Republican officeholder that is actively boosting election deniers is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a possible 2024 presidential contender.
The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that DeSantis is "set to appear at rallies for Pennsylvania GOP governor's candidate Doug Mastriano, Arizona candidate for governor Kari Lake, and U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters, all of whom have denied Biden's win and falsely claimed election fraud.
DeSantis was one of the first Republicans to suggest state legislatures could overrule voters to choose Trump.
"Appearing on Fox News on November 5, two days after the election," the Sentinel observed, "he said 'presidential electors are done by the legislators and the schemes they create and the framework. And if there's departure from that, if they're not following law, if they're ignoring the law, then they can provide remedies as well.'"
The Republican Party's elevation of fervent election deniers—often with the support of dark money—in battleground states and nationwide has dramatically raised the stakes of the upcoming November contests, given that they could usher into power officials willing to subvert the democratic process to secure their desired outcome.
Wisconsin offers an illustrative example of November's implications. As the New York Times reported Monday, "The governor's race this fall, along with a pivotal State Supreme Court contest next spring, will decide whether Republicans can solidify their grip on the swing state and remake its voting laws."
"Nowhere in the country have Republican lawmakers been more aggressive in their attempts to seize a partisan edge than in Wisconsin," the Times noted. "Having gerrymandered the Legislature past the point that it can be flipped, they are now pushing intensely to take greater control over the state's voting infrastructure ahead of the 2024 presidential contest."
Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg cut a deal to do five months in jail while not cooperating with investigators. While the deal might be great for Weisselberg, former Justice Department prosecutor for Robert Mueller's investigation, Andrew Weissmann, said it isn't for the Trump Org.
Speaking to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Monday evening, Weissmann said that in the next few days it could be that Weisselberg is actually pleading guilty as part of the deal.
"The reason that is important for Donald Trump is the Trump Organization is scheduled for trial in October," he explained. Once Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty, it is over for the Trump Organization. The crimes he committed, get imputed to the Trump Organization. So, the leverage in terms of the financial consequences to Donald Trump doesn't mean he's gonna go to jail, but the consequences for the Trump Organization are huge."
Weissmann described it as a "big deal" for the former president in part because what he did was all about making more money, but it was also about bribery.
"This is a big deal," he went on. "So, I think that would be number one, focus on the financial consequences of the Allen Weisselberg deal. And then, down the road, I mean, Lawrence, you laid out a litany of criminal and national security trouble, in Florida, in D.C., in Georgia. And this is a day where you saw a movement on all fronts. And to me, the thing that I thought was probably the most telling was the grand jury subpoena to Eric Hirschmann. There is a guy who can completely corroborate what we heard from Cassidy Hutchinson. I am sure he has information."
He also noted that Hirschmann isn't likely to corroborate the idea that Trump had some kind of magical order to declassify everything.
"So, that was a very bad fact, in terms of signaling that Merrick Garland is really I think, putting his foot on the gas," he closed.
See the full conversation, which includes legal expert Brad Moss below. You can also watch at this link.
How Allen Weisselberg's deal is really really bad for Trump youtu.be