'Whining is how they win': Ignoring Republicans may be the best way to beat them

The GOP’s coordinated tantrum about the leak of a Samuel Alito-authored draft opinion to overturn Roe should be the ultimate reminder of an essential truth about American politics in 2022.

Republicans celebrate one thing.

Victimhood.

Theirs.

Whether this draft opinion, written in the voice of a man who spends his weekends screaming in the face of a woman trying to enter a Planned Parenthood clinic, turns out to be the final word on a constitutional right to abortion access remains to be seen.

But what’s clear is that’s exactly what the rightwing of this country has been dreaming about since at least the late 1970s when the alleged “religious right” decided to switch their outward focus from opposing racial desegregation to fighting against abortion rights.

Republicans first turned into the Uterus Police to oust America’s first “born again” president, Jimmy Carter, and ran with it as corporate donors saw it as a way to brand the New Deal coalition that had dominated politics in the mid-20th century not just as faulty but evil.

You would think that a conservative movement on the verge of capturing its Holy Grail would be in a good mood and not bleating about “insurrection” and “insurrection” and “insurrection.”

But then you’d be in a coma for 40 years.

The GOP has evolved into a reactionary cult seeking minority rule through the world’s most effective ecosystem of propaganda that feeds millions of Americans a steady diet of strategic victimization.

Talk radio, Fox and a neural network of social media misinformers, provocateurs and Kevin Sorbo have one objective every day: Tell the most coddled people to exist in the history of this planet that they are oppressed and at risk of losing absolutely everything to “them.”

Who’s “them?”

Anyone who isn’t a white, straight Christian man.

Or a useful ally of white, straight Christian men.

The Republicans’ media monster needs to be fed daily and it eats only one thing – outrage. Outrage about Dr. Seuss’ most racist comics or non-sexy peanut M&Ms or an alleged vein in a Snickers bar.

It will even devour outrage about their wildest dreams coming true.

This is extraordinarily effective.

Outrage fuels the GOP’s midterm turnout advantage, which is especially strong when Democrats are in charge, an outrage in itself.

Outrage swerves the conversation away from GOP policies, like the overturning of Roe, which is not supported by most Republicans.

Outrage is key to the in-group/out-group demagoguery that has driven the GOP so far to the right they oppose democracy itself.

You can trace the creation of this extraordinarily effective effort to subvert majority rule to the so-called Powell Memo of 1972, which urged corporations to fight the “broad attack” on business by countering the liberalization of America, as evidenced by even Richard Nixon embracing pinko abominations like the EPA and OSHA.

In a memo to the Chamber of Commerce, future Justice Lewis Powell urged a comprehensive response that required infiltrating American institutions from the news media to academia to the courts.

By the 1980s, this response looked like Rush Limbaugh, bloviating into millions of ears for hours a day. Then Fox, then Facebook, then QAnon.

What have the Democrats and the press corps done?

Mostly treat bad faith as good faith.

Republicans are still called “pro-life,” though they encourage the spread of a novel virus that’s killed at least 1 million Americans.

Their cries about four dead Americans in Benghazi were taken seriously after they led the US into an illegal and terribly planned war in Iraq that led to the deaths of thousands of American soldiers.

They still get to pretend they’re against abortion though the policies they embrace – from opposing sex education to opposing birth control coverage to opposing universal childcare – actually increase abortions.

Banning abortions doesn’t even reduce them.

It just makes an extremely safe procedure far more deadly.

If you want to help Republicans achieve their nefarious goals, you just have to do one simple thing: react to whatever they’re whining about.

That’s how they figure out what works.

If you want to help Trump and his party get back in power, pretend their objections have some purpose other than feeding the beast.

Believe there’s some number of deportations that will be enough to stop their white power-driven attacks on migrants and immigration.

Engage their concern-trolling about Hunter Biden as Trump’s kids cash in on blood money for helping the Saudis carve up a journalist.

But, if you want to defeat the Republicans, focus on what they do.

They’ve given trillions to the super-rich and the corporations.

They’ve undermined workers so they can’t support their families.

They pretend to care about “pure, sacred kids,” as they destroy public education, check kids’ genitals and track their menstrual cycles.

Republicans whine because whining is how they win.

If we have any hope of saving hard-won rights, we have one choice.

Ignore these motherfuckers and their bullshit.

The jobs market favors workers for the first time in a half-century. No one in the press corps can hear it

It’s easy to forget how dire the job market was – and just about everything was – during the last year of the Trump presidency.

Americans were forced to consider theft and murder to make sure their families had enough toilet paper amid a once-a-century plague that will, by the time it’s over, have killed more than a million of us.

I guess we’re just supposed to pretend that never happened, like a fresh hell of a sermon interrupted by the sudden toot of a pastor’s fart – or Donald Trumps’ trademarks in China – or Michael Avenatti.

But letting the memory of the wreckage left behind by Republican presidents is why we get so many more Republican presidents.

So prepare for a haunting flashback.

Before 2020, America had never seen more than a million weekly unemployment claims, not even during the Great Recession.

Late in March 2020, nearly 3 million workers filed claims.

In a week.

That was followed by 5.9 million, then 6.1 million. Pretty much the populations of Los Angeles and Chicago combined were out of work.

In a week.

That weekly hemorrhaging didn’t drop below a million until last August. It didn’t hit pre-pandemic levels until last October.

The American Rescue Plan – along with various pandemic-related reprieves – built on previous and considerable efforts to soften the pain of the pandemic by putting money into workers’ pockets.

The result of this sort of bottom-up economics?

An explosion of job growth unlike any seen before.

We are now seeing the lowest unemployment claims in more than 50 years. 2021 was literally the best year of job growth ever recorded.

You’d think that’d be big news.

Sure, if the president were Republican.

Look, it’s easy to pretend this remarkable recovery, which has seen all jobs lost regained six years faster than it took the job market to recover from the Great Recession, was inevitable or predictable.

It wasn’t.

“Pre-Rescue Act, CBO projected the unemployment rate would be 5.1 percent this past quarter, not go below 4 percent until 2026, and would never go below 3.9 percent. In fact, it fell to 3.6 percent in March,” Seth Hanlon, a former special assistant to President Obama for economic policy, noted.

You may not be aware of the good news.

You’re not alone.

A recent poll found only 12 percent of Americans knew we’d just experienced the best year of job growth ever. In comparison, 43 percent of our fellow citizens believe in the existence of demons.

What explains this catastrophic cognitive dissonance?

Some of it is complicated.

Much of the good news has been buried in constant positive revisions by the government of job numbers. That process dulled deadlines.

It’s also hard to celebrate the good news during a pandemic that’s still killing the unvaccinated, immunocompromised and the unlucky.

(And anyway, work sucks.)

But the simple reason for Americans not knowing how effective the American Rescue Plan has been is psychological abuse.

The Washington press corps, warped by the influence of rightwing media, tends to ignore good job news under Democratic presidencies.

Consider this: Do you know more jobs were created in 2014, the year Obamacare went into effect, than any year so far in the century before 2021? That’s after five years of Republicans predicting the opposite?

What’s going on now is more nefarious, though, It comes from people who know better. They understand well this newfound labor power.

It’s Corporate America.

That’s why workers having the best job security in their lives is continually framed not as victory for Joe Sixpack, but as a crisis.

"US businesses are not laying off workers because they know the enormous challenges they're facing in filling open positions," Ryan Sweet, of Moody's Analytics, told Reuters. "If initial claims remain below 200,000 for a period of time, it will raise a red flag with the Fed."

Not enough layoffs should raise a red flag?

Is the job market too good?

(How dare you ask for a raise! I should be on my superyacht!)

These Scrooge-before-Ghosts-Scared-Him headlines are more common than headlines about the balance of power shifting toward the interests of labor. An excellent example of this comes courtesy of Axios: “Worker shortage thwarts Biden’s ‘millions’ of jobs pledge.”

More nefarious, however, is the fixation by the press corps on the allegation that “inflation” is driven by workers' newfound advantages.

For Republicans, the advantages of discounting the best job market for workers in half a century are obvious. They need to justify resuming power. For Corporate America, record profits are not enough.

They are acutely aware of the success of unionizing efforts at an Amazon warehouse and at multiple Starbucks’ locations. They see how hard it is to hire when workers don’t live in terror of unemployment.

They see Democratic majorities in the Congress having the power, though not yet the votes, to clawback some of the massive giveaways corporations racked up during the Trump administration.

And they want their layoffs back.

Unfortunately, the press corps is happy to help.

So is the Fed – with rate increases likely to deflate the jobs market than help mitigate inflation, which has as much to do with the pandemic and the flimsiness of anti-worker supply chains as anything.

Workers haven’t had much to celebrate for a long time. It’s hard to celebrate an economy fundamentally rigged to fluff the super rich.

But we better understand the power we have.

Corporations want it back, fast.

How to stop Marjorie Taylor Greene and the GOP from destroying democracy

Who wouldn’t like to see Marjorie Taylor Greene’s career-ending after one uselessly nauseating term in the US House of Representatives?

Who wouldn’t like to see her spending more time chilling with Putin-loving white nationalists, harassing kids who survived school shootings, or groping photoshopped cutouts of Donald Trump?

It’s just the way our brains need things to work.

Q-curious spreaders of Jewish Space Laser conspiracies who incite violence against public servants aren’t supposed to win reelection.

They’re supposed to be defeated – forced to fly away to an even worse fate, like fleeing Congress to run Trump’s failing fake Twitter site.

Our brains are so desperate to make this true that Marcus Flowers, a possible Democratic opponent, has raised almost $5 million with 87 percent coming from donations of less than $200 – even though his home seems to no longer be in Greene’s district in Georgia.

To be honest, it wouldn’t matter whether Flowers, or any Democrat, raised $50 million or even the more than $90 million Amy McGrath spent to lose to Mitch McConnell in 2020, Greene is going to win – likely by more than the nearly 20-point margin, McGrath lost by.

Why?

Because gerrymandering doesn’t care about your feelings.

If picking your voters didn’t work, Republicans wouldn’t bother rigging maps. No one knows better than Republicans that their future as a party depends on turning fewer (and whiter) votes into more power.

A genius candidate with a bursting war chest could overcome a five-point or 10-point or possibly even a 20-point advantage if everything including the earth’s axis swings to her advantage.

But no candidate is going to overcome a 45 percent Republican lean, not in a country whose largest export is now negative partisanship.

Greene could marry Hunter Biden, put her pronouns on her Twitter bio and give herself a real-time abortion on Tucker Carlson’s desk while wearing a rainbow-colored N95 mask – she’d still win.

All she needs are the votes from her party.

They’d vote for a cumquat as long as it had an “R” next to it.

The urge to lance this human boil from our body politic is obviously born of the best intentions. Democrats must contest every race, including in the second-most Republican House district in Georgia. Remember the success of Howard Dean’s “50-state” strategy?

A “whole ballot” strategy is crucial to confronting the menace of a GOP that has chosen Trumpism (aka American Putinism) over democracy.

You could even argue that investing millions in Georgia’s 14th could end up helping Georgia’s Senator Raphael Warnock, whose race could easily decide control of the upper chamber of the Congress, or Stacey Abrams, who lost to Brian Kemp in her first effort to become the first Black woman governor in US history by a mere .4 percent in 2018.

But whoever runs against Greene is going to have plenty of cash – too much cash, in fact – so why not just give to Warnock or Abrams!

Better yet, donate to Democrats in the House majority who face tight races, including 13 whose races are deemed toss-ups by the Cook Political report. Those races could decide control of the lower chamber of Congress. Even better, how about helping the effort to take control of at least one state House in every key swing state?

I hate lecturing anyone on the best ways for doing politics given the last election I won was for the honor of “Most Talkative” in the ninth grade. But I know one thing. Democracy is on the ballot in 2022.

If the GOP takes both chambers and retains control of legislatures in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, or Michigan, the chances of a Democrat being fairly elected president in 2024 will veer dangerously close to zero.

Don’t believe me. Believe election law expert Rick Hasen. He fears that Republicans could swipe the presidency in one of two ways.

Try employing an absurd legal theory giving state control of elections that has support from at least four Republicans on the Supreme Court.

Or try swaying the actual vote count by corrupting state and local election officials or by threatening their non-corrupt counterparts.

All that’s holding up Nightmare No. 1 is Democratic governors in blue states, all of whom are running for election and facing tight races.

Steve Bannon is aiming for Nightmare No. 2 with a laser focus on local elections to pick the hands that guide the machinery of democracy.

On the Democrat’s side, there’s no national figure trying to rally the party in preparation for a full-ballot assault favoring democracy.

Run for Something is an incredible organization. It’s focused on helping young progressives get on the ballot and win.

But Run for Something’s national budget in the last election was less than half of what Marcus Flowers has raised to lose to Greene.

By November, the millions spent on Flowers’ already-decided race may exceed the $39.3 million spent on all the 2020 races for the Michigan House. And Democratic control of the Michigan House could stop the Trump effort to steal that state in 2024 through the legislature, cold.

Patriotic Democrats should have no delusions about the enormity and importance of the challenge they face.

No Democratic president has seen his party hold both chambers of the Congress through his first midterm election since 1978. Rick Hasen has said that if Kevin McCarthy – who’d likely be the Speaker of the House were the Republicans to win in 2022 – were in chargeback in 2020, “I don’t know that we’d have a President Biden right now.”

You can’t beat Marjorie Taylor Greene.

But you can do even better.

You can help stop a plot to destroy democracy. You might even keep Greene mostly irrelevant with zero committee assignments.

This will require matching, then exceeding Republicans’ ruthless focus on winning. That begins with fixating on where our democracy is decided, not burning money to make our brains feel a little bit better.

No, the GOP has not finally 'seen the light' on MAGA — 'Everybody wants to be on President Trump’s bandwagon'

If you’ve been on the internet longer than you should be, you’ve heard of RickRolling. So you know that the gist of this “joke” is that instead of sending you toward the thing you’re trying to find, a link sends you to the video of Rick Astley’s debut hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up.

By clicking on this article, you’ve been RickRolled.

Sorry.

RickRolling isn’t particularly funny. Still, it is harmless, and it becomes a bit funnier each time it happens to you – or someone you know.

You can’t say this is true of its nauseating and far more dangerous cousin, which I call “Dickrolling.”

Dickrolling is anything that tickles the titillating yet specious notion that the Republican Party has finally seen “the light” and is about to abandon Donald Trump. During the 2016 campaign, we were Dickrolled so often that it could qualify as a prostate exam.

There was the time Trump insulted John McCain’s service. Or when Trump lost Iowa and claimed fraud. Or how about when Ted Cruz refused to endorse Trump at the GOP convention. Or when the “Access Hollywood” video came out and RNC chair Reince Priebus allegedly told the GOP nominee he should “drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history.”

You barely remember these “Trump’s finished now!” moments.

The biggest Dickroll came after the J6 insurrection when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the ex-president was “practically and morally responsible” for the attack on the Capitol that ended America’s tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. Of course, McConnell had just voted to acquit the ex-president of all impeachment charges for the second time.

We are now in another moment of immense Dickrolling. Again the GOP may be wresting away its soul from the parasite who took over the party and became its host.

Trump’s accountants have finally abandoned him, insisting that the financial statements the firm put together from 2011 to 2020, or the bulk of Trump’s career in Republican politics, "should no longer be relied upon.”

Meanwhile, McConnell is doing his best to keep more Trump allies out of the Senate. Republican voters have rejected the claim that Mike Pence should have “overturned” the 2020 election, as Trump insisted. And “tensions” are allegedly at a “boil” within the Republican Party over Trump’s multi-level marketing-style fundraising appeals.

In general, Trump’s legal woes continue to engorge in multiple ways that would doom anyone who doesn’t have the resources and non-existent conscience of a guy who has been a millionaire since age 8 thanks to tax fraud.

And if you buy that any of this has lessened Trump’s grip on the GOP, congratulations.

You’ve been Dickrolled.

Republicans have long been willing to express their concerns about Trump anonymously and you’ll notice that all of the most pointed quotes from Politico’s recent piece “GOP senators steer clear of Trump as rift deepens” were from unnamed sources.

This cowardly posturing betrays a clear fact.

The GOP needs Trump more than he needs the GOP.

This isn’t theoretical.

Unlike his more than 30,000 lies as president, Trump’s iron grip on the GOP has been proven again and again.

“I’m done,” Trump reportedly told Republican National Committee chairperson Ronna McDaniel, on his last day in office. “I’m starting my own party.”

And McDaniel – who reportedly stopped using her maiden name “Romney” in early 2017, because it bugged Trump – promptly caved.

The GOP is now paying millions for Trump’s legal bills and Republicans, including Mike Pence, who was targeted by rioters for a possible lynching on J6, are insisting that the events that led to the insurrection were “legitimate poltical discourse.”

Trump’s successful threat at the absolute nadir of his power echoes his abandoning of a pledge to back the Republican nominee at the first 2016 GOP presidential primary debate.

In effect, Trump’s position has never changed. Bend or I’ll break you.

The GOP has bent so often its spine is now a hinge.

You could argue that there’s a boastfulness here that Trump hopes is self-fulfilling. Like any adherent of How to Win Friends & Influence People, Trump is always aiming to will his desires into reality.

But the man who pretends to have written The Art of the Deal seems to have a better understanding of America’s political landscape than many commentators.

Trump’s support is different from what typical Republicans enjoy, a 2021 study confirmed.

Republicans just like Trump. And Republicans also like generic Republicans like McConnell and Paul Ryan.

“However, for Trump himself, and Trump alone, the other thing that predicted whether they would like him was that they disliked Muslims, African Americans, Hispanics and L.G.B.T.Q. Americans,” Lilliana Mason, a John Hopkins political scientist who co-authored the study, explained. “Any mix of those, but largely all of them.”

Unfortunately, the people who share this dislike of these minority groups are not all Republicans.

That’s right.

Trump’s explicit antagonism toward minorities actually expands the GOP base. This helps make the GOP more competitive in key states they’ve generally lost as they’ve lost the popular vote in presidential elections 88 percent of the time since 1992.

Any Republican who wants to hold the presidency cannot risk alienating Trump’s faction. Any Republican who wants to be president is desperate for their support.

And McConnell knows the Republican caucus in the US Senate is overflowing with dudes who want to be president.

That’s why the “old crow” is trying to bring in less Trumpy Senators into the body as he aims to take back the majority – not because he has any significant policy differences from Trump, but because he knows Trump will pressure the presidential wannabes to vote against him as majority leader.

He knows shameless cowards like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, for instance, will always back Trump.

McConnell just wants his power back, with a vote or two to spare. Believe him when he says he’ll “absolutely” back Trump in 2024.

So will the entire GOP.

"I think everybody wants to be on President Trump's bandwagon, without any question,” Senator Tim Scott said last Sunday when asked if he’d consider being Trump’s running mate.

There is no national GOP without Trump’s faction.

So counting on the GOP’s non-existent immune system or our “justice system,” which should have stopped this corrupt clown decades ago, to contain his lust for destroying our democracy is just a Dickroll.

Defeating Trump and the party that he’s consumed at the polls is, tragically, our only hope for a peaceful end to this ridiculous crisis.

America has surrendered to Fox

It’s time to get back to normal. That’s what we’re hearing from some of the shrillest voices in the press and pundit corps along with governors of some of the largest states in the union.

And what does normal look like?

Apparently, it means opening “everything” – even if no one can figure out exactly what is closed or has been closed for more than a year, except schools that can’t find enough adults to stay open because so much of the faculty and staff have the covid.

You might think normalcy would include radically reducing the number of people dying, which is higher than it has been in a year.

Nope!

It means resuming “playdates and dinner parties without guilt” while crossing our fingers hoping the omicron surge magically de-surges.

Let’s be like Denmark, these “normies” insist.

Let’s “live” with the disease!

Let’s party like we’re young, immune and Scandinavian!

After all, the Danes, with their population of almost 6 million, are only averaging around 22 daily deaths from the novel coronavirus, which is about half of what the state of Wisconsin has been experiencing.

Sounds rad.

Who wouldn’t long for The Time Before Covid, as we do whenever a variant wave crashes? The airtight fantasy is perfect. Like an Instagram influencer's fantasy life, it sidesteps a few crucial bits of reality.

First of all, Denmark’s vaccination rate is at 81 percent for two doses and 61 percent for three for the entire population. Compare that to 64 percent with two doses in the United States and 42 percent with three.


Also applying Denmark’s “Let’s treat it like a cold” philosophy to the United States neglects the biggest obstacle to returning to any semblance of normal here: The Danes don’t have Fox.

You can’t find fault with wanting to pretend Fox doesn’t exist. Hopefully, you’ve set the parental controls at your parents’ house.

But what we can’t ignore is that for almost a year, our largest cable “news” channel – and the most durable propaganda machine in human history – has been waging a war against covid vaccinations.

Almost nightly, the channel’s hugely popular primetime hosts have flung every speck of feces they can find at the miracle vaccines that have proven to be so incredible at minimizing the risk of death.

And when Fox adopts a misinformation campaign – like, say, make-believing genuine concern for the Benghazi tragedy – it doesn’t soak millions of viewers in filth. It’s more like a black hole, drawing the entire GOP and its right-wing media complex into the darkness.

(All while the channel appears to have covid vaccination mandate stricter than anything President Joe Biden has proposed.)

Vaccinating this country is the closest thing we’ve come to facing a “Dunkirk Moment,” when average citizens step up in a rescue mission that will give us a chance to prevail over an enemy that’s now killed far more Americans than have died in all our foreign wars.

But Fox has convinced a huge chunk of the Republican Party to turn their boats around and block the rest of us from getting to the beach.

Being a Republican makes you less likely to be vaccinated, no matter what demographic group you are in. This is your nation on Fox: Charles Gaba found that rates of death from covid soared in red areas compared to blue areas, even adjusted for age, since the president’s inauguration. This trend now continues even while Omicron’s highly contagious nature has led to an explosion of cases in big, blue cities.

And what have the rest of us done about it?

Most of us vaccinated Americans, who are the majority of the county, have just watched in horror as we try to get along with our lives, hoping the tide will turn with the next convervative anti-vax talk radio guy who begs for a vaccination as he faces death on a ventilator.

We largely haven’t adjusted our “vaccinations only” approach to fighting the pandemic, even as anti-vax misinformation floods at a pace and furor that no scientific education campaign could match.

Instead, “normalcy” obsesses Democratic governors after watching Terry MacCullife lose in Virginia. They’ve been urging Biden to “move away” from the pandemic, even if the pandemic won’t go away and continues to kill a 9/11-number of Americans almost every day.


The Times reports that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy led the way. In 2017, he won by a blowout, but in 2021, he won by just a few points.

Arranging a series of focus groups across the state to see what they had missed, Mr. Murphy’s advisers were struck by the findings: Across the board, voters shared frustrations over public health measures, a sense of pessimism about the future and a deep desire to return to some sense of normalcy.

These focus groups sound a lot like David Leonhardt of the Times – who constantly inveighs for “normality” while also recently wondering why there has been no urgency to get America boosted – and “Hotline” Josh Kraushaar of National Journal – a Republican who pretends to care about Joe Biden’s political fate while constantly praising Democratic Governor Jared Polis’ rush to normalcy in Colorado.

Polis has declared the covid emergency “over.” The governor said that “if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s really your own darn fault.”

These focus groups and reporters are at odds with polls showing that mask mandates are consistently popular even in Texas. Parents of school-aged kids have largely embraced them, but are drowned out by screeching right-wing parents with the time, energy and spittle to rant at school board meetings, even if their kids are homeschooled.

Governor Murphy should consider that perhaps it isn’t the restrictions that narrowed his reelection victory but the reality that New Jersey has had more covid deaths per capita than any state but Mississippi.

But this is a time for cheap and easy solutions.

The fact that our hospital system nearly crashed under the weight of omicron’s “mild” effects will be soon forgotten. As will the realization that the administration’s sudden push toward testing and masking at the peak of the surge may have prevented a full medical meltdown.

Like amnesiacs, we’ll relearn these things after the next wave comes.

Pretending the pandemic has ended for boosted Americans who are relatively sure they won’t die from the plague requires an incredible talent for shunning reality. A numbness of such magnitude makes me wonder if all the daily death has hollowed out our nation’s conscience.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Ron DeSantis isn't Donald Trump -- he's Donald Trump Jr.

If there were ever a cock astride a weather vane who could point in which direction the GOP base is blowing, it is Donald J. Trump.

He figured out that Tea Partiers actually cared about Barack Obama’s papers (and skin color), not the deficit. He sensed the party didn’t just want to kick immigrants out. They wanted to build a wall from which they could kick back and fondle their guns, as they enjoyed the mass deportations. Now he’s sensing how the political winds may be blowing his party’s base into the arms of another Mr. White.

And he’s not just going to let the party he’s dominated for more than a half of decade wander off without a fit.

“Former President Donald Trump appeared to snap at Gov. Ron DeSantis in a new interview with One America News Network, where he bashed unnamed politicians who won’t say whether they've gotten a booster shot,” Politico reported earlier in January.

DeSantis seemingly responded by attacking Trump for something no one had ever accused the ex-president of before – being a Fauci-lover who was far too cautious when it came to fighting covid.

The ex-president has since called his feud with the Florida governor “fake news,” reminding us all he hasn’t written a new joke in five years.

But all you need to know about how seriously the Trump Klan is taking the DeSantis threat came from Roger Stone. Trump’s oldest and most ratf*cking-est advisor went after DeSantis as a “Yale Harvard fat boy,” implying DeSantis is having an affair, right as his wife was finishing up her chemotherapy for breast cancer.

All of this is gross. A decent person would rather be forced to stare into scabies than think about any of it.

It’s so gross even Republicans seem nauseated by having to continually get into legal trouble and literal penis-measuring contests with the guy running their party. Tangling with the Trumps tends to end in one of two ways for Republicans: you either submit in abject and never-ending humiliation, like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, or you go to prison, like Michael Cohen.

It’s pretty remarkable DeSantis had gone for so long without taking Trump shrapnel as Fox News, the GOP’s big donors and “intellectuals” have rushed to embrace the governor with a glee we haven’t seen since the last time they got the chance to cut their own taxes.

National Review, which was anti-Trump until Trump “won” in 2016, regularly publishes DeSantis hagiography and demands for apologies on his behalf. It has also taken to smearing one of his likely Democratic opponents for her eagerness in pointing out the governor’s often dictatorial aspirations.

This desperate fanboying makes sense. If you’re searching for an alternative to Trump who could appeal to the MAGA “faction,” which the GOP can’t win without, you need someone who at least matches the ex-president’s callous disregard for life, passion for employing strategic racism, and obsession with punishing the party’s perceived enemies.

And that’s basically DeSantis in a nutshell, or a stuffed Men’s Wearhouse suit.

Florida saw most deaths from covid overall and per capita in the summer after the vaccines became widely available, causing many to call the “Delta variant” the “DeSantis variant.”

This needless carnage became inevitable when the governor decided to fight vaccination and masking requirements harder than he ever fought the virus itself.

Rather than change course as the bodies piled up in mobile morgues, he’s spent much of his time inventing thought crimes to destroy academic freedom and protect white people’ feelings while trying to legalize the murder of protesters.

Let’s not forget his most amazing feat – at least to conservatives.

In 2019, DeSantis showed that his connections to white nationalists were far more than coincidental. He signed a bill that disenfranchised some 300,000 Black voters with what amounts to a poll tax.

This is likely the greatest single act of voter suppression since the Voting Rights Act went into law, dwarfing the purge of Florida’s voter rolls that helped George W. Bush swipe the Sunshine State in 2000.

And like Trump, DeSantis always pairs his political revanchism with the essential mission of the Republican Party. He remains fixated on rewarding his rich donors and their corporations.

What else could the GOP elites want? They certainly can’t be reacting to his charisma or popularity or lack of both.

DeSantis was only elected in 2018 less than half a percent, in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1994. His approval rating continues to tank and Stephen Colbert recently gave a new nickname “Covid Dick” that seems likely to stick.

But Republicans have never let a little unpopularity or even the inability to get the most votes stand in the way of taking power. They love DeSantis’ continued defiance in the face of science, scorn and even Trump’s veiled attacks.

He’s like Donald Trump Jr. without the fake tan and the larger and larger veneers. You could call him Donald Trump Jr. Jr. Only unlike the Trumps, he doesn’t wear makeup fit for a corpse.

He seems somewhat normal and fun – at least to the bros at National Review. He’s the kind of guy you’d want to have a craft beer with while spreading covid to numerous retirees while giving the bartender a crumbled N95 mask as a tip.

Unfortunately, to the DeSantis’ fans who’d like to keep the party’s Trumpiness and Trump voters and amputate the actual Trump, this plan seems destined to fail.

Trump allies in red states across the electoral map are in the process of rigging their electoral system so Trump will carry the Electoral College regardless of how many votes fewer than his opponent he gets.

Trump is leading this effort, stressing – like Stalin before him – that the vote counters matter more than votes themselves. He isn’t taking time from his precious golf schedule to do this for DeSantis or any other Republican not named Trump.

While Trump seems shy about getting into a fight that could put him in bad graces of a guy who may be running a key swing state in 2024, he’ll have no qualms about giving DeSantis the kneecapping he gave Cruz and Rubio should the governor sincerely begin to oppose him.

DeSantis is slimy enough to recognize and slip away tail-between-legs before he does permanent damage to his standing with the base. And that’s something else that would make him relatable to the bros at National Review.

It’s Trump’s party or Trumps’ party. And if you don’t decide to be his eager accomplice in his constant grifting and the dismantling of democracy, you’ll soon get pointed out.


Is there 'surprising good news for Democrats' in redistricting? Not so fast

In the week leading up to the anniversary of the J6 insurrection, we were reminded of the greatest threat America’s wonky democracy faces.

No, it isn’t Donald Trump, nor his army of Auschwitz-appreciators, recreational horse dewormer enthusiasts and QAnon clowns waiting for JFK Jr. to parachute into Dealey Plaza.

It isn’t the remaining Koch brother, the one who apparently won his one-dollar bet with the other Koch. It isn’t even very vaccinated Rupert Murdoch and his malevolent Kendall Roy, who have turned their super-spreader “news” channel into Covid-19’s most infectious ally.

What could be worse than these wannabe tyrants?

READ: There are disturbing parallels between the 2020s and 1940s in the U.S.

It’s the normalization of the GOP minority domination.

This shrugging acceptance of the perversion of our elections helped to make true democracy an exception in America rather than the rule — especially at the federal level.

And nowhere has the GOP’s success at withering away our democracy been more obvious than when we hear the huge yawn across the media after they’ve successfully stolen power from the voters through gerrymandering.

The Cook Report noted on January 4 that the ongoing redistricting process showed some “surprising good news for Democrats.” That good news? Republicans are merely the favorites to win the House in 2022 and for much of the rest of the decade but not an absolute lock.

READ: Prominent QAnon anti-vaxxer who called for Anthony Fauci’s execution dies of COVID-19

The Wall Street Journal jumped in to mock the 150 political scientists who declared we’re approaching “midnight” for democracy due to “partisan politicization” unless Congress passes the Freedom to Vote Act.

What exactly are we supposed to be celebrating here?

That the majority party in America — the party that has won the popular vote in seven out of the last eight elections — will be allowed to compete for control of the House of Representatives with merely a significant disadvantage because Republicans?

Cook Report’s Dave Wasserman told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent that among the reasons for the GOP’s “restraint” is that it has been forced to play “keep away” with the districts it has squirreled away with Cirque du Soleil-style contortions of political maps.

READ: 'Traitor' Jim Jordan mocked for refusing to comply with Jan. 6 committee — after declaring 'nothing to hide'

“A number of their own districts have become more vulnerable over the past 10 years,” he said. “They’ve had no choice but to focus on shoring those districts up.”

In other words, they focused on cementing their unearned majorities rather than expanding them.

Absent in this discussion is any honest assessment of the high crime against democracy the GOP pulled off in 2010, led by Karl Rove’s Redistricting Majority Project (REDMAP) — a not-so-secret evil plan Rove announced in a column in the Wall Street Journal that ran with the shameless subhead “He who controls redistricting can control Congress.”

And control redistricting Rove and the GOP did.

READ: Cult survivor explains how Trump 'weaponizes' the 'us vs. them' tactics of a 'cult leader'

Like Dick Cheney conducting a VP search.

The Brennan Center’s Michael Li noted that, in 2011, “The nation saw some of the most gerrymandered and racially discriminatory maps in its history.”

It’s hard to minimize how destructive extreme partisan gerrymandering can be.

It hurts access to health care, limits affected citizens’ access to credit and leaves tens of millions of Americans without a representative who will be accountable to anyone outside the party’s base, as competitive districts have become as rare as elected Republicans who will admit they’ve been vaccinated.

READ: Noam Chomsky: 'Proto-fascism' and 'white nationalism are prime ingredients of the GOP’s slow-motion coup

But these ills are mild compared to the threats to democracy that gerrymandering has enabled in the last decade.

Replacing elections with selections of voters has directly fed the rise of the white nationalism within the GOP that gave us Donald Trump, the J6 insurrection and the “Eastman plot” for a soft coup that came one Mike-Pence-phone-call-to-Dan-Quayle away from succeeding.

A 2018 study found that the whiter a congressional district is, the more likely it is to be represented by a Republican. This is the evitable result of Rove’s REDMAP project and attempts to consolidate Republican voters, who are significantly whiter than our still mostly white electorate.

And because House Republicans mostly occupy safe seats where they’ll compete almost exclusively for the votes of a diverse group of voters whose complexions range from “eggshell” to “eczema,” white identity politics isn’t a choice for most candidates. It’s a requirement.

READ: Automated killer robots aren't science fiction anymore — and the world isn't ready

This explains why the GOP ignored the RNC’s 2013 “autopsy” after Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss, which embraced comprehensive immigration reform. Instead, House Republicans went on to repeatedly vote to deport the DREAMers, immigrants brought to this country as children whose path to citizenship is supported by about three out of four voters. This pandering to the far-white paved the way for Trump to goose step his way to the GOP nomination in 2016 by accusing immigrants of pretty much any crime he imagined (or possibly saw) his old pal Jeffrey Epstein committing.

When Trump lost in 2020 and decided to try to cling to power by seeking to convince Mike Pence to throw the election “back to the states,” this fantastical plan was only conceivable because partisan gerrymandering had given Republicans an insulated lock on legislatures in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — even when they received fewer overall votes than their Democratic opponents.

These gerrymandered-for-the-GOP’s-pleasure majorities in key states are exactly what Trump is imagining as he leads his party in the effort to sever the Electoral College from anything resembling the will of the voters in order to carry off a successful coup in 2024.

Apologists of the attrition of America’s democracy make all kinds of excuses to help normalize the slow drip forming the stalactite that will eventually fall and stab what’s left of our democracy’s heart.

It’s geography! It’s normal! Democrats do it, too!

All of these excuses fuel the GOP’s shamelessness.

And they’re lies.

Redistricting reforms in Democratic states, which would be implemented nationally if the Freedom to Vote Act became law (and somehow survived the Supreme Court), managed to forge fair maps that are far more generous to the Republicans than any Republicans would ever be to Democrats.

There are myriad reasons why voting rights issues are treated as a triviality or the hobbyhorse of one political party. Affluent white people — the sort of people who usually become prominent commentators or take-slingers — generally have shorter waits for voting. And they likely aren’t related or sympathetic to the millions and millions of Black Americans who were alive pre-1965 when their right to vote wasn’t anything close to a right.

Moreso, covering the reality of the GOP’s obsession with minority rule honestly requires abandoning the pretense that we still have two major political parties. It would force you to admit that instead we have one imperfect party struggling to Band-Aid together a coalition and an increasingly authoritarian cult that thrives as a national party by keeping people of color from ballots.

Greg Sargent also has an excellent post about how a “both-sides” press might cover a successful Trump coup in the next presidential election, a year later. But we don’t need to guess what that might look like. It will look exactly like the way the press covers Republicans’ gerrymandering.

And we should expect to be cheerfully informed of “surprising good news,” like President Trump not arresting all his political opponents … yet.