Comments from Clarence Thomas suggest 'antagonism' with Chief Justice Roberts: legal expert

Over the years, far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has had his conflicts not only with the liberals and centrists on the High Court, but also, with some of its right-wingers — most notably, former Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose libertarian leanings on abortion and gay rights were a sharp contrast to Thomas’ severe social conservatism. Thomas has also had his share of disagreements with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, and the disagreements between Thomas and Roberts were evident when Thomas spoke at a conference in Dallas recently.

President George W. Bush appointed Roberts in 2005. Discussing the atmosphere on the High Court before 2005, Thomas told the Dallas crowd, “We actually trusted each other. We may have been a dysfunctional family, but we were a family — and we loved it.”

Thomas’ comments come at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. A leaked majority draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito makes an argument for overturning Roe; Alito is joined in his 5-4 opinion by Thomas, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Justice Neal Gorsuch — while the four dissenters are Roberts, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Stephen Breyer (who is retiring and will be replaced by President Joe Biden’s nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson).

CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic, in an article published on May 20, explains, “Thomas' blunt remarks suggest new antagonism toward Roberts and added to the uncertainty regarding the ultimate ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, expected by the end of June. Roberts, with his institutionalist approach, is positioned as the one justice who might generate a compromise opinion that stops short of completely overturning Roe v. Wade, at least this year. That would thwart an outcome that Thomas has worked toward for decades.”

Biskupic observes that “Thomas' sudden aim at Roberts' leadership is new. In the Dallas appearance, his message to the chief justice came down to: The Court was better before you arrived.”

“Thomas and Roberts have different negotiating patterns,” Biskupic explains. “Thomas is known for putting his cards on the table and abhorring gamesmanship. The first attribute he ascribed to (Justice Ruth Bader) Ginsburg was revealing: ‘You knew where she was.’ Roberts, in contrast to Thomas, has a reputation inside the Court for being guarded, even secretive.”

It’s so secret where Thomas stands on Roe v. Wade, which he believes was wrongly decided by the Berger Court back in 1973.

“Roberts has a steep climb to craft a compromise that will keep Roe partially intact,” Biskupic notes. “The right-wing bloc allowed Texas' virtual ban on abortions to take effect last year, and during oral arguments in the Mississippi case, it appeared to be holding together to eviscerate Roe.”

US intel officials are ‘skeptical’ that public opinion will change Putin’s brutal Ukraine policy: report

Authoritarians are seldom swayed by majoritarian arguments, which is why far-right Christian nationalists in the United States couldn’t care less what the majority of Americans think about overturning Roe v. Wade or the fact that more voters preferred now-President Joe Biden in 2020’s presidential election. In Russia, similarly, President Vladimir Putin obviously remains committed to the invasion of Ukraine regardless of what all his opponents think.

According to CNN reporters Katie Bo Lillis, Zachary Cohen and Jeremy Herb, intelligence officials in the U.S. “are skeptical that any change in Russian public opinion against the Kremlin's war in Ukraine — even a dramatic one — would have an effect in persuading Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict, according to multiple sources familiar with the latest intelligence.”

“Officials also doubt that the war, which many strategists believe has been an unmitigated disaster for Russia's military, is likely to lead to the removal of Putin from power, at least in the short term,” the CNN reporters explain. “That assessment reflects the extent to which officials believe Putin has cemented his control over Russia during his more than two decades in power.”

A CNN source described as a “senior NATO official” and presumably interviewed on condition of anonymity said of Putin, “He clearly is his own decision maker. He doesn't seem to rely even on experts within the government or the cabinet very much. So, it's a bit hard to imagine that popular opinion sways him all that much.”

Lillis, Cohen and Herb note that Putin has had no tolerance for Russians who oppose the invasion of Ukraine.

“Officials are quick to note that most Russians don’t fully grasp the reality of the war, thanks to the deeply repressive media environment inside Russia,” the CNN reporters write. “Putin has tightened free speech laws surrounding the conflict and effectively shuttered the few remaining independent outlets. Public dissent has also been quickly crushed. Widespread protests in the early days of the war were met with mass arrests.”

Ron DeSantis ignored a real crisis in Florida because he is obsessed with owning the libs: columnist

From far-right Gov. Ron DeSantis to the GOP-controlled Florida State Legislature, Republicans in the Sunshine State have been aggressively fighting the culture wars, defending the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, railing against critical race theory and punishing Disney for not being on board with their agenda. Washington Post opinion writer Lisette Alvarez, in a biting column published on May 19, argues that Florida Republicans have been putting so much time and energy into owning the liberals that they neglected a very real problem: Florida’s “property insurance crisis.”

That crisis, Alvarez writes, is so “dire” that DeSantis has “ordered state lawmakers back into a special session” that is scheduled to start on Monday, May 23. In Florida, property owners are facing a combination of canceled policies and major rate hikes.

Republicans in the Florida State Legislature, Alvarez observes, “squandered weeks of the regular session trying to control what teachers and corporations can say and do instead of addressing a mess that alarms millions of Floridians: a meltdown in the home insurance market.”

“Let’s look at what Floridians face: skyrocketing property insurance premiums, up 25% from 2020 to 2021 on average, but in some cases tripling in one year, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit trade group that tracks industry trends,” Alvarez writes. “The average cost of homeowner’s insurance in Florida was $3600 in 2021, double the rate for the rest of the country. That’s if you can even get insurance.”

Alvarez continues, “In the past 12 months, more than 400,000 Florida home policies have been dropped, most of them in the past 90 days, according to the Institute. One insurance holding company, this week, announced 68,200 cancellations.”

Mark Friedlander, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, has described Florida as the “most volatile property insurance market in the country,” warning that it is “headed for collapse.”

In Florida, Alvarez notes, private insurance companies are “reluctant to take new clients” — which is why “many homeowners have no choice but to enroll with Citizens, Florida’s state-run, nonprofit insurer.”

“Funded by premiums and taxpayers, Citizens was designed to be a last-ditch insurer, yet it is now the largest in Florida,” Alvarez explains. “The 420,000 policies it had in October 2019 have more than doubled. Soon, it will top 1 million, according to the insurance institute. If a large hurricane hits Florida, Citizens will quickly deplete its reserves — it had $166 million in underwriting losses last year — and taxpayers will have to make up the difference.”

Alvarez adds, “Plus, Citizens is limited: It only insures houses valued less than $700,000, or $1 million in Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys.”

Alvarez points out that because of its insurance crisis, Florida is becoming increasingly “inaccessible” for first-time homeowners.

“Those who do have private insurance often face new, arbitrary rules — such as requiring roofs to be younger than 15 years old — or risk being cut loose, even by Progressive and other large insurers,” Alvarez warns. “The spiraling costs of property insurance have made Florida, one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, even more inaccessible, especially for first-time and middle-class buyers.”

Democrats’ 'stranglehold' on once-red California is a warning sign for Trump Republicans nationally: conservative

California is so dominated by the Democratic Party these days that it’s easy to forget just how Republican it once was. Before the 1990s and the Bill Clinton era, California was a red state — from San Diego to Bakersfield to Glendale and Burbank. Orange County south of Los Angeles was a hotbed of right-wing Republican politics. But the GOP lost a lot of ground in California after the 1980s, and the American Enterprise Institute’s Brent Orrell — in an essay/think piece published by the conservative website The Bulwark on May 19 — argues that former President Donald Trump and the MAGA movement are creating a California-like effect in suburban swing districts all around the United States.

Orrell opens his article by noting that the “political outlook for Democrats” looks “grim” in the 2022 midterms and that between inflation, President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings and a “sour public mood,” election forecasts are predicting a major red wave that will put Republicans back in the control of both houses of Congress. But Orrell quickly adds that the Trumpified GOP is “bent on alienating itself from the political center of the country” and that “the decline of conservative politics in the Golden State is very much the model for the decline of Republican politics nationally.”

According to Orrell, the “political tragedy of California Republicanism” serves as a warning to the GOP in suburban areas all over the U.S.

“There are still pockets of the state where the GOP is strong,” Orrell writes. “But in most heavily populated urban and suburban areas, Republicans have become a pariah party, settling for semi-permanent minority status in a state over which liberal Democrats now have basically unchallenged hegemony…. Donald Trump’s candidacy, election and presidency set off a reenactment of the slow-motion California GOP debacle at the national level.”

Thanks to the MAGA movement, Orrell stresses, the Republican Party has been alienating “moderate” suburban voters more and more. But even though Trump was voted out of office in 2020, the American Enterprise Institute senior fellow adds, his stranglehold on the GOP remains.

“The Trump presidency may have been a failure, but Trumpism has proven to have real and enduring appeal,” Orrell explains. “GOP elected officials, whatever their private doubts, have overwhelmingly acquiesced and become complicit in Trump’s 2020 election fabrications and toed the line on anti-immigration policy out of fear of facing a primary opponent endorsed by the former president. As the 2022 field of candidates comes into focus, the cost of allowing Trump’s election lies to fester is becoming clearer. In state after state and race after race, Republican primary voters are opting not just for Trump-endorsed candidates, but the Trumpiest candidates, the ones most closely tied to Trump’s Big Lie of 2020 voter fraud, whether they have Trump’s endorsement or not.”

Orrell points to far-right Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano’s victory in the 2022 Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial primary as a prime example of how extreme and Trumpified Republican primaries have become.

Orrell observes, “Mastriano is known for his frequent sharing of QAnon-related materials via Twitter and for speaking at a recent QAnon-heavy conference in Pennsylvania.... The pattern in Pennsylvania and elsewhere is clear: The GOP frontrunners or near-frontrunners are, in almost every case, not just Trump-endorsed or Trump-affiliated candidates; they are Trump-consumed candidates with bellies full of that hot, hot MAGA fire. As Steve Bannon recently noted, referring to the Pennsylvania races, the contest isn’t between old-line Republicans and MAGA candidates, ‘it’s MAGA vs. ultra-MAGA.’”

Orrell wraps up his essay/think piece by stressing that Democrats’ “stranglehold on state government” in California serves as a warning sign for the GOP nationally.

“In California, where the radicalization of the GOP has had the longest time to work its way into hearts and minds, the Republican Party has reduced itself to rump status,” Orrell writes. “Once solidly conservative congressional and state legislative districts in suburban communities along the Pacific Coast have mostly adopted various shades of blue, while Republicans have largely receded to the inland districts in the Central Valley and other more rural areas of the state…. Unless Republicans find the nerve to call a halt, they risk seeing their party’s long-term political prospects devoured by xenophobia and conspiracism.”

A Las Vegas paper just published a stunning editorial: 'We are struggling to identify' Republicans 'who are not an active threat' to democracy

On Tuesday, May 17, the Big Lie and the “Stop the Steal” movement enjoyed a major victory when Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano — a far-right Christian nationalist and QAnon ally — won the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nomination in the Keystone State. Mastriano has been a forceful supporter of the claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, but he is hardly alone in that regard. From Pennsylvania to the southwestern swing state of Nevada, the Big Lie has become a litmus test in the Trumpified GOP — and the Las Vegas Sun’s editorial board, in a biting editorial published on May 15, poses the question: Are there any Republicans left who are willing to stand up for democracy?

The answer to that question is that yes, some right-wing Republicans are willing to aggressively stand up for democracy — in the U.S. House of Representatives, for example, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois have been blistering critics of the Big Lie. But Kinzinger isn’t seeking reelection, and Cheney will be gone from the House in 2023 if she loses a GOP congressional primary in Wyoming. Cheney and Kinzinger are the exception, not the norm, in the MAGA-oriented, increasingly authoritarian GOP of 2022.

The Sun’s editorial board focuses heavily on Nevada politics, but its message is relevant whether one lives in Nevada, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida or Maine.

“No one knows better than Nevadans when it’s time to put our cards on the table,” the Sun’s editorial board writes. “The editorial board, and Nevadans as a whole, are facing an agonizing problem. We have endorsed Republicans in the past and might do so again in the future. Yet as we survey the field of Republican candidates across the state, we are struggling to identify those who are not an active threat to American democracy or the institutions of government that have sustained our republic for 250 years. Those are the stakes here for the GOP. For Nevada. For our voters.”

The Sun’s editorial board goes on to describe the “violent insurrection” of January 6, 2021 and the vicious assault on the U.S. Capitol Building as “one of the darkest days in U.S. history” — arguing that the Big Lie is just as toxic now as it was then.

“Since the insurrection,” the Sun’s editorial board warns, “Republican leadership across the nation has worked to disenfranchise voters, allow themselves to defy the will of voters outright and to allow partisan interference in the vote count…. (Nevada) gubernatorial candidate Joey Gilbert was actually at the Capitol that day, spinning unfounded conspiracy theories about election fraud and accusing those Republicans who believe the vote was legitimate of being ‘RINOs (Republicans in Name Only)’ who should be removed from the party.”

The editorial board continues, “(Gilbert) didn’t think that those who vandalized the halls of our Capitol or threatened police officers should be tossed out; he cheered them on. And he’s not alone…. As we wrote last October, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo disgraced himself by not condemning the violent right-wing groups that have been welcomed into the Nevada GOP, leaving Southern Nevadans to wonder whether their sheriff will protect and serve everyone in our community regardless of political persuasion.”

Nevada’s Republican and Democratic primaries will be held on June 14.

“Of the five leading Republican candidates for the governorship of Nevada, every one of them has gone on record as both supporting and contributing to the Big Lie,” the Sun’s editorial board laments. “In doing so, they have all made a choice to subvert our democracy, undermine the integrity of our elections, and ignore the Constitution of the United States. Will GOP leaders stand up for the rule of law and free and fair elections by rejecting autocracy and lies? Or will they continue to debase themselves and their formerly great party by kneeling to their unhinged demigod, Donald Trump, and his dreams of authoritarianism?”

Economist Paul Krugman explains why MAGA’s ‘paranoid’ mindset has overtaken the GOP

When Paul Krugman was on vacation in late April and the first half of May, he actually acted like he was on vacation; the liberal economist and New York Times columnist didn’t do much tweeting, and there was a two-week gap between columns. But Krugman had a lot to talk about after he returned from vacation, including the mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York supermarket on Saturday, May 14.

In his first post-vacation column, published on May 16, Krugman has two observations about the American right: (1) “voodoo economics” is still a failure, and (2) at least the Reagan Republicans who promoted “voodoo economics” during the 1980s didn’t encourage violence.

Back in the days when Madonna, Prince, Duran Duran and Run-D.M.C. reigned supreme, President Ronald Reagan’s economic policy was described as both “trickle-down economics” and “voodoo economics.” Reagan and his allies believed that when millionaires and billionaires are given major tax cuts and become even more prosperous, they inevitably share their economics gains with the middle class and the poor — a school of economic thought that Krugman rejected when he was younger and still rejects in 2022.

Krugman writes, “It was shocking, at the time, when a crank economic doctrine — the claim that tax cuts pay for themselves — became, in effect, the official Republican party line…. And voodoo economics continues to do real damage to this day. The Republicans who control Mississippi, a poor state with desperately underfunded educational programs that’s closing hospitals, recently moved to boost the state’s economy by cutting taxes. As far as I know, however, diatribes about the evils of high marginal tax rates haven’t inspired any acts of domestic terrorism.”

Law enforcement officials believe that the May 14 shooter in Buffalo was inspired by far-right white nationalist doctrine and the racist conspiracy theory known as the Great Replacement. The deadly attack was carried out in a heavily Black area of Buffalo, and most of the people shot were African-American.

“As has been widely reported, the suspect accused of fatally shooting 10 people in Buffalo is a devotee of ‘Replacement theory,’ which claims that sinister elites — especially Jews, of course — are deliberately bringing in immigrants to displace and disempower White Americans,” Krugman explains. “So were the men charged with massacres at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 and an El Paso Walmart in 2019.”

Krugman continues, “Replacement theory used to be a fringe doctrine, but these days, in at best thinly disguised form, it is attracting significant mainstream support within the GOP. And this mainstream acceptance helps it spread. As The Times has documented, Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show has amplified the doctrine more than 400 times.”

The Great Replacement theory, Krugman notes, has also been promoted by well-known Republicans ranging from Rep. Elise Stefanik to “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance, the GOP nominee in Ohio’s 2022 U.S. Senate race.

The “paranoid style,” according to Krugman, has been “taking over the Republican Party,” including “Republican elites” — who “used to push back against conspiracy theories but now cheerfully embrace them whenever it seems politically expedient.”

Krugman explains, “The rise of supply-side economics coincided with the rise of movement conservatism — an interlocking network of elected officials, media organizations, think tanks and lobbying firms…. Who was attracted to this movement? Many were careerists: people happy to serve as apparatchiks, following whatever the party line happened to be at the moment. They may have signed up to promote low taxes and a weaker safety net, but most of the party immediately went MAGA when the winds shifted.”

The columnist cites Vance and one-time “Paul Ryan protégé” Stefanik as examples of former Trump critics in the GOP who flip flopped and “went MAGA” because it was expedient.

“What we now know is that the embrace of crank economics presaged the general moral collapse of the Republican establishment,” Krugman observes. “This collapse opened the door for paranoia and conspiracy theorists of all kinds — and the consequences have been deadly. There is, I would argue, a direct line from the Laffer curve, to January 6, (2021) to Buffalo.”

Conservative warns that 'own-the-libs trolling' can 'radicalize' violent extremists

Right-wing trolling of liberals and progressives didn’t start in the Donald Trump era; the late radio host Rush Limbaugh, in 2010, infamously described then-President Barack Obama as “uppity” (a word with a very racist history) in the hope of offending the left as much as possible. But own-the-liberals trolling greatly accelerated thanks to former President Trump’s MAGA movement. Defenders of such trolling will argue that it’s done in an “ironic” way, but conservative Daily Beast opinion writer Matt Lewis — in a May 17 column — argues that it is by no means harmless.

Lewis’ column was published three days after a May 14 mass shooting at a supermarket in a heavily African-American area of Buffalo, New York. Ten people were killed, and law enforcement officials believe that the 18-year-old suspect — who, they say, embraces White nationalist views and embraces the Great Replacement conspiracy theory — targeted the victims simply because they were Black.

This frightening incident, according to Never Trump conservative Lewis, serves as an example of why own-the-liberals trolling is not harmless fun as its defenders claim.

“In a purported manifesto published online,” Lewis writes, “the alleged shooter says he was radicalized on the anonymous web bulletin board 4chan, which he sought out as a result of pandemic-generated boredom. And what is the content like on these forums?”

Lewis answers his question by quoting the New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore, who described that content as “openly racist” and “anti-Semitic” but “done with irony and humor.”

“One way to suck people into radical ideas is to make the water warm,” Lewis explains. “You can do this by giving people plausible deniability to tell others, and themselves, that the evil they are dabbling in is merely irreverent satire. In other words, it’s about being rebellious and revolutionary and outrageous. It’s all a game. It’s all about freaking out the normies.”

Own-the-libs trolls, Lewis observes, typically say buffoonish things like, “You’re triggered, snowflake! The right’s just getting better at comedy, and you can’t handle it.” But when violent, deadly attacks inspired by racist ideas occur, the Never Trumper warns, there is nothing “ironic” about their actions.

“This same sort of ‘owning the libs’ trope that can be casually confused as internet humor often serves as a pathway to radicalization,” Lewis warns. “That appears to be what happened with the alleged Buffalo shooter. Troll culture should not be used as an excuse to forgive or forget the political rhetoric now occurring in more mainstream places, such as cable TV, podcasts, or tweets from some Republican politicians.”

Lewis cites Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and journalist David French as two examples of conservatives who should be “commended” for calling out MAGA Republicans who “promote racist conspiracy theories.”

“Cable news is merely laundering these pernicious ideas,” Lewis argues. “I’m more concerned about the so-called jokes and ironic message board memes that even I — someone who is fairly internet-literate — cannot always suss out.”

Lewis continues, “Cable news is for old people. If you want to stop the next generation from being radicalized into violence, keep your eye on the breeding ground and fever swamps of the internet forums.”

Scathing editorial slams Supreme Court justices as 'political hacks in black robes'

Faith in the U.S. Supreme Court continues to decline. Morning Consult, in a poll released on May 8, found that only 49% of U.S. adults trusted the High Court compared to 57% on April 23. And other polls have also shown public trust in the High Court eroding; Gallup, for example, has found that approval of the Supreme Court is down to 40% compared to 62% in 2001.

In a scathing editorial published on May 15, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s editorial board argues that the U.S. Supreme Court has become much too politicized for its own good — and that the likely demise of Roe v. Wade will only cause the public’s view of the institution to erode more.

The Post’s editorial board writes, “The breakdown of U.S. Supreme Court legitimacy may already have begun as the public perception of the Court morphs from one of respectful observances of the law as interpreted by the nation’s top judicial scholars to a view of them as little more than political hacks in black robes…. The Court’s politicization is no longer something justices can hide. The three most recent arrivals to the bench misled members of Congress by indicating they regarded Roe v. Wade as settled law, not to be overturned.”

The arrivals that the Post-Dispatch’s editorial board is referring to are Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Neal Gorsuch, all appointed by former President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden’s nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate but won’t replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer until later this year.

A leaked majority draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito finds that the George W. Bush appointee joined Barrett, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Justice Clarence Thomas in a 5-4 argument for overturning Roe.

The editorial board adds, “Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife is an open supporter of former President Donald Trump and his efforts to subvert democracy…. If states choose simply to ignore the Court following a Roe reversal, justices will have only themselves to blame for the erosion of their stature in Americans’ minds.”

Conservative warns that many Americans – even Democrats – are ‘in denial’ about the US authoritarian threat

When democracies are replaced by authoritarianism, it isn’t necessarily because of a violent coup d’état or golpe de estado like the overthrow of Salvador Allende by fascist dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet and his allies in Chile in 1973. Sometimes, authoritarians are voted into office and gradually undermine a democracy’s check and balances until it becomes increasingly undemocratic, which is what has happened with Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey. And it is what MAGA Republicans are trying to do in the United States.

Many of the warnings against the authoritarian efforts of former President Donald Trump’s MAGA movement have been coming from the left, but some Never Trump conservatives have been speaking out as well. One of them is Washington Post opinion columnist Max Boot, who warns that too many Americans — including some Democratic voters — fail to realize how great a “threat” U.S. democracy is facing.

Boot, in his May 10 column, points to a CNN poll released in February. CNN asked if it is likely that “in the next few years, some elected officials will successfully overturn the results of an election”; 51% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats responded that it’s not at all likely.

“This reminds me of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denying, before February 24, that a Russian invasion was imminent and telling people not to ‘panic’ even as Russian armies were massing in plain sight,” Boot writes. “Panic is generally a bad idea, but sometimes, it is warranted. Now is one of those times for anyone who cares about the fate of U.S. democracy.”

Boot continues, “Republicans have succeeded in restricting voting rights in 19 states. Democrats have failed to protect voting rights at the national level because they can’t break a Senate filibuster. Meanwhile, at least 23 supporters of the Big Lie — which holds that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump — are running for secretary of state posts to oversee elections in 19 states. Other election deniers are joining election boards.”

The conservative columnist, who supported now-President Joe Biden in the 2020 election and is a scathing critic of former President Donald Trump and the MAGA movement, notes that “fealty to the Big Lie” has “become a litmus test for Republican candidates because it has become gospel for Republican voters.”

“Despite all the damning details that have emerged about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election,” Boot laments, “Trump remains the dominant figure within the GOP — which means that most Republicans have tacitly accepted that inciting an insurrection is no big deal.”

MAGA Republicans, Boot warns, won’t hesitate to steal the 2024 presidential election in an “authoritarian” way.

“(Trump’s) ‘trump card,’ so to speak, is the House, which is likely to be under GOP control after the midterms,” Boot explains. “CNBC founder Tom Rogers and former Democratic Sen. Timothy Wirth point out in Newsweek that controlling the House can allow Trump to steal the presidency if the election is close. Republican state legislatures in swing states that Biden or another Democrat narrowly wins can claim the results are fraudulent and send in competing slates of electors pledged to Trump. The House and Senate would then vote on which electors to accept.”

Boot continues, “Even if the Senate remains Democratic, a GOP-controlled House could prevent Biden from getting the 270 electoral votes needed to win. It would then fall to the House to decide the presidency.”

Although conservative, Boot is hoping that Democrats will hold the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms — although he believes they probably won’t.

“The only way to save democracy is to vote for Democrats in the fall,” Boot stresses. “And I say that as an ex-Republican turned independent. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with Democrats on some issues. The overriding issue is the preservation of our democracy. That may sound hyperbolic to some, but that’s precisely the problem. Like so many Ukrainians before February 24, most Americans remain in denial about the threat to our country.”

Even NC 'bathroom bill' defender Pat McCrory is now too 'liberal' for extremist MAGA Republicans: report

Back in 2016, then-North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory was praised by many social conservatives for supporting NC House Bill 2 —the so-called “North Carolina bathroom bill,” which banned transgender Americans from using public restrooms for the gender they identified with. Christian fundamentalists praised McCrory for, as they saw it, being willing to defend “traditional values.” But in the 2022 midterms, ironically, the right-wing McCrory finds himself being slammed as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by MAGA extremists.

McCrory ran for reelection in 2016, losing to Democrat Roy Cooper by less than 1%. Now, in 2022, McCrory is seeking the nomination in North Carolina’s GOP U.S. Senate primary, and MAGA Republicans, insanely, are accusing him of not being far enough to right.

Journalist Natalie Allison, in an article published by Politico on May 12, explains, “Former Gov. Pat McCrory served on the frontline of the culture wars in 2016 when he signed North Carolina’s controversial ‘bathroom bill,’ which curbed protections for transgender people. When he was defeated for reelection later that year by a razor-thin margin, he raised questions about the voting process and didn’t concede until nearly a month after the election.”

Allison continues, “Those experiences would seem to make McCrory an ideal nominee in a post-Trump GOP animated by claims of election fraud and the politics of transgender rights. Instead, in the run-up to North Carolina’s Tuesday primary, he’s dropping in polls and being dismissed by MAGA faithful as a liberal RINO.”

McCrory, now 65, finds it “ironic” that he’s now being accused of being too liberal, especially in light of all the angry protests from liberals and progressives that he experienced for defending the “North Carolina bathroom bill” in 2016.

The former North Carolina governor and U.S. Senate candidate told Politico, “It is kind of a unique situation at this point in time. But to have it be said I’m liberal is ironic, because four years ago, I was being branded the exact opposite…. I’m the same person.”

Republican Jim Martin, another former North Carolina governor, also finds it ironic that McCrory is now being accused of being too liberal.

Martin told Politico, “Anybody who really knows Pat and pays attention, whether they’re liberal or conservative, they’re not going to call him liberal.”

McCrory is running for the U.S. Senate seat presently held by Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who is retiring. One of his competitors in the primary is Rep. Ted Budd, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump as well as the Club for Growth. The Club’s super PAC has been paying for ads slamming McCrory as a “liberal faker.”

McCrory told Politico, “I was probably the original person who was canceled, and now, I’m the one being called a liberal. Someone came up to me the other day and said, ‘McCrory, you were (Ron) DeSantis before DeSantis.’ I said, ‘That’s a unique perspective.’ I stood up to some things that were contrary not just to liberals, but to the power elite of my party.”

A Co/Efficient poll released on Monday, May 9 found Budd continuing to surge in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate primary and leading McCrory by 28%. And a CBS 17/The Hill/Emerson College poll released on May 11 found McCrory trailing Budd by 27%.

Journalist lays out a long list of reasons not to trust anything Mitch McConnell has to say

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Republicans regain control of the U.S. Senate and the White House, he would be open to supporting a nationwide abortion ban; the Kentucky Republican, however, is promising, “I will never support smashing the legislative filibuster on this issue or any other.” But Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank, in his May 10 column, lays out a long list of reasons why McConnell would likely go back on his word and “smash” the filibuster in order to get a federal abortion ban passed in the U.S. Senate.

Milbank cleverly uses humor and biting sarcasm to get his point across. When he writes that he “believed McConnell” in the past, he goes on to cite examples of McConnell going back on his word. This is one Milbank column that should not be taken literally, and the reader needs to read between the lines to realize just how untrustworthy Milbank considers McConnell to be.

“I’ve always believed Mitch McConnell,” Milbank sarcastically declares. “I believed the Kentucky Republican when he said, in 2016, that an election-year Supreme Court vacancy ‘should not be filled until we have a new president’ — before he filled a Supreme Court vacancy eight days before the 2020 presidential election.”

After the death of far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, then-President Barack Obama nominated centrist Democrat Merrick Garland — now U.S. attorney general in the Biden Administration — for the High Court. But McConnell, who was Senate majority leader at the time, wouldn’t even consider Obama’s nominee, arguing that it was unfair for Obama to nominate someone during a presidential election year.

McConnell, in 2016, said he was invoking the “McConnell rule.” But the “McConnell rule” was nowhere to be found in 2020, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and McConnell rammed then-President Donald Trump’s far-right nominee, now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett, through the Senate and got her confirmed.

McConnell showed that he is totally untrustworthy, which is exactly the point of Milbank’s May 10 column.

“I believed him when he excoriated Democrats, in 2013, for ‘breaking the rules’ and using the ‘nuclear option’ to eliminate the filibuster for lower-court nominees — before he broke the rules and used the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in 2017,” Milbank sarcastically writes. “I believed him when he said President Donald Trump was ‘practically and morally responsible for provoking’ the January 6 Capitol insurrection — before voting to acquit Trump and declaring he would support him if he’s the Republican nominee in 2024.”

McConnell goes on to give some more reasons why he doesn’t trust McConnell.

“I believed McConnell when he was an outspoken champion of corporate free speech — before he scolded corporations for their ‘quite stupid’ protest of Georgia’s voter-suppression law,” Milbank says. “I believed McConnell’s years of statements in support of disclosing the identities of political contributors — before he used a filibuster in 2010 to block legislation requiring such disclosure…. I believed McConnell in 2009, when he threw his backing behind a proposal for a bipartisan debt commission to get federal spending under control, calling it ‘our best hope’ and urging the Obama Administration to get on board — before using a filibuster to block the proposal after the Obama Administration supported it.”

McConnell was first elected to the U.S. Senate via Kentucky in 1984, the year in which President Ronald Reagan was reelected by a landslide. Along the way, he has become increasingly partisan and increasingly ruthless.

“I believed McConnell when he said, in 2019, that background checks would be front and center in Senate talks on gun legislation; when he said, in 2016, that he would put renewable energy tax credits in an aviation bill; when he reached an agreement with his Democratic counterpart on nominees to the Federal Communications Commission; and when he repeatedly vowed to open up the Senate amendment process,” Milbank writes. “None of these things came to pass, either. But believe me: I still believe Mitch McConnell.”

GOP Sen. Steve Daines mocked for comparing pregnant women to sea turtles

Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, a long-time opponent of abortion rights, has been hoping to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade — and it appears that he is going to get his wish.

The Republican senator and hardcore social conservative reiterated his anti-abortion views during a May 10 speech on the Senate floor, arguing that if the eggs of sea turtles enjoy legal protection, there is no reason why abortion should be legal. And he is being brutally mocked on social media for his ridiculous analogy.

The 59-year-old Daines, during his speech, told his colleagues, "If you were to take or destroy the eggs of a sea turtle — now I said, the eggs…. The criminal penalties are severe: up to a $100,000 fine and a year in prison. Now, why do we have laws in place to protect the eggs of a sea turtle, or the eggs of eagles? Because, when you destroy an egg, you're killing a pre-born baby sea turtle or a pre-born baby eagle. Yet when it comes to a pre-born human baby rather than a sea turtle, that baby will be stripped of all protections in all 50 states…. Is that the America the left wants?"

It didn't take Twitter users long to point out how idiotic and horribly flawed Daines' comparison was:

MSNBC's Katie Phang mocked Daines with dry humor:

This pro-Trump Republican is suffering a 'public relations train wreck' as damaging stories pile up

In the 2022 midterms, many of the aggressive primary challenges that GOP incumbents are facing — from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming — are coming from Donald Trump devotees who believe they aren’t MAGA enough. But in North Carolina, Rep. Madison Cawthorn is being primaried by fellow Republicans for a different reason: They believe the ultra-MAGA, controversy-ridden congressman has been an embarrassment. And according to the Daily Beast’s Sam Brodey, opposition research against Cawthorn from his primary rivals has gone into overdrive.

“Multiple embarrassing traffic stops, a credible accusation of insider trading, photos of him sporting hoop earrings and a bra, a video of a male staffer’s hand near his crotch, another video showing him jokingly but nakedly humping the upper body of potentially the same man — his cousin — and possibly, more to come,” Brodey writes in an article published on May 10. “Few in politics have seen anything like the ever-worsening public relations train wreck that has consumed the political career of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC). The unrelenting pile-up of damaging stories, insiders say, is the clear handiwork of political players determined to take out the 26-year-old MAGA hero in the May 17 primary election.”

Brodey adds, “With a field of hungry Republican primary opponents eyeing the divisive freshman’s seat, the sources of the coordinated stories seem clear: the attacks are coming from inside the house.”

One of the North Carolina Republicans interviewed for Brodey’s article confirmed that Cawthorn is a major target of opposition research. That source, interviewed on condition of anonymity and described by Brodey as a “veteran North Carolina operative,” told the Beast, “It’s definitely a hit job that I’m happy to be a party to. Most of the GOP universe has come around to align against this guy. You’re seeing a full-court, state-based, establishment pushback against him. Get this guy out. Take him out.”

Cawthorn, Brodey notes, has “spent the last year making enemies.” Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, a conservative Republican, is one of them. Tillis, Brodey observes, has “has backed State Sen. Chuck Edwards, one of Cawthorn’s leading primary challengers, and has spent heavily on ads damaging the congressman.”

Cawthorn has been alienating both Democrats and fellow Republicans. The political action committee Fire Madison PAC is run by some North Carolina Democrats; one of its organizers, David Wheeler, told the Beast, “We’ve become kind of the dumping ground for info on the guy. Obviously, we have a target, we’re not afraid to take him on and put out the information his opponents wouldn’t — or the Democrats wouldn’t.”

A political strategist the Beast interviewed anonymously emphasizes that even some hardcore MAGA Republicans have grown fed up with Cawthorn’s antics.

According to that source, “MAGA World is keeping their distance. They aren’t sure how this is going to play out, and right now, they don’t want to put their credibility on the line considering all the baggage Madison has right now.”

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Substitute Teacher uses Racial Slur in 6th Grade Classroom

Columnist: ‘Originalist’ Supreme Court Justices are concocting a ‘new age of oppression’

The “originalist” or “strict constructionist” view of jurisprudence made considerable gains on the U.S. Supreme Court during the Trump years, when Justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced Justice Anthony Kennedy — a right-wing Ronald Reagan appointee with libertarian views on abortion and gay rights — and Justice Amy Coney Barrett replaced the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The High Court, now dominated by social conservatives, appears to be on the verge of striking down Roe v. Wade. And liberal New York Times opinion writer Charles Blow, in his May 8 column, warns that the Court may be helping to bring about a “new age of oppression.”

Blow discusses Roe v. Wade in his column, noting a leaked majority draft opinion in which Justice Samuel Alito lays out an argument for striking down that landmark 1973 ruling. But Blow’s May 8 column is about much more than Roe. Blow stresses that the High Court often promoted “oppression” in the past and may be moving in that direction again now that it is dominated by “originalist” doctrine.

“There are no inviolable rules for those bent on oppression,” Blow warns. “There is only winning, at all costs, no matter the casualties. Conservatives would abide a boor like Donald Trump because he could give them the judges they wanted, the judges who are now poised to reverse federal abortion protections.”

Blow continues, “The Court is a product of the Framers of the Constitution, and for all their flashes of brilliance, they made some terribly flawed decisions about our government. That’s why originalists, those who believe that judgments by the Court must conform to how the Founders understood the Constitution when it was written, are so dangerous.”

The Times columnist argues that “originalist” thought was at the heart of many “oppressive” rulings that the Supreme Court made in the past.

“The originalists…. know the horrendous history of the Court, and they want it to rise again,” Blow writes. “It was the Court in 1857, in the Dred Scott case, that ruled that the Framers believed Black people were ‘beings of an inferior order’ and ‘so far inferior that they had no rights which the White man was bound to respect and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.’”

Blow continues, “As Douglas A. Blackmon laid out in his brilliant book, ‘Slavery by Another Name,’ it was the Court that, in 1883, ‘ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1875, the one federal law forcing Whites to comply with the provisions of the 14th and 15th Amendments — awarding voting and legal rights to Blacks — could be enforced only under the most rare circumstances.’ He wrote, ‘Civil rights was a local, not federal issue, the Court found.’ Alito used similar logic in the leaked draft of his decision that would overturn Roe.”

The columnist also notes that the High Court “sanctioned the architecture of Jim Crow” with its 1896 ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson.

“In 1927,” Blow recalls, “the Court upheld the forced sterilization of the disabled. In 1944, it upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans. In 1986, it upheld sodomy laws in Georgia. And now, the Court has signaled a willingness to revisit some of its previous rulings that increased equality and curbed oppression.”

Blow adds, “In 2013, the Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, and now, we are entering a new Jim Crow era, as conservative state legislatures adopt waves of voter restrictions. In just a few short weeks, the fundamental right enshrined in Roe nearly 50 years ago could disappear overnight for millions of American women. What’s next? Is anything truly safe? The answer is ‘no.’”

The High Court, Blow laments, “is not bound by public opinion, the will of the voters or changing mores.”

“The Court is a permanent council that answers to no one,” Blow writes. “It can behave as it chooses. The robes can go rogue. This is the power Republicans want — the power to overrule the will of the majority…. Republicans and their judges may well have just ushered in a new age of oppression.”

Watch: Geraldo Rivera slams Fox News colleague Greg Gutfeld as an 'insulting punk' during heated abortion debate

Although Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera is a Fox News talking head, he doesn’t always blindly parrot the party-line nonsense coming from his colleagues. Rivera, for example, once got into a high-decibel shouting match with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly over illegal immigration. And during a Wednesday May 4 broadcast of the Fox News program “The Five,” Rivera slammed colleague Greg Gutfeld in response to his comments on abortion.

The heated exchange between the 78-year-old Rivera and far-right commentator Gutfeld came two days after Politico reported that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, in a leaked majority draft opinion, laid out an argument for overturning Roe v. Wade. Gutfeld was dancing with joy over the likely demise of Roe, saying that American women should fully embrace motherhood — and Rivera countered that motherhood should be voluntarily.

Gutfeld told Rivera and others on the panel, “It’s something to celebrate, to cherish, to shout” — and Rivera angrily responded, “That’s baloney. That’s baloney. Cherish the wire hanger stuck up their privates?”

Gutfeld mocked Rivera for reminding viewers that dangerous back-alley abortions were common before the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, and Rivera responded, “You are an arrogant…. You insulting punk.”

Rivera is being applauded on Twitter — even by some of his critics — for calling out Gutfeld’s idiocy.