Start your day with National Memo Newsletter
The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning
Republicans are heading into a 2024 election where their only policy is whatever Donald Trump said in his latest social media post. Being totally dependent on the passing whims of a single mercurial and vindictive leader is not a great position for any political party. But for Republicans, this might actually be a good development.
Not because Trump is anything less than a monster. But because, while Republicans do have ideas, they’re all terrible ideas.
No place illustrates that better than Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis is just starting to realize that his book bans are a total disaster. This cornerstone of anti-woke policies, which was eagerly adopted by Republicans in school districts nationwide, has led to such ridiculous levels of censorship that it’s now under attack by Ron DeSantis himself.
After DeSantis signed a bill that allowed anyone, even people from outside the state, to force schools and libraries to remove books or face criminal consequences, the state became America’s book-banning leader. By last fall, Sunshine State schools had more than double the bans of runner-up Texas and accounted for 40% of book bannings nationwide.
It’s become bad enough that DeSantis has finally recognized that those tagging books for removal were “intentionally depriving students of rightful education by politicizing this process.” But of course, it was an explicitly political process from the start.
DeSantis is speaking out against provisions of the bill he signed, like those that allow a single person to flag an unlimited number of books. But DeSantis is still insisting that many of those bans are “appropriate,” and he doesn’t seem to be talking about repealing the part of that same bill that made it a crime to use someone’s preferred pronouns.
Even if DeSantis gets Florida to back off slightly on the book bans, Republicans there are still hot to take up the critical issues of outlawing pride flags and preserving Confederate monuments. And if that’s not enough, the Florida commissioner of agriculture is attacking the United Nations for “woke” and “left-wing” policies that try to help the environment.
Republicans spent much of the last two years declaring themselves “anti-woke,” attacking trans people, and trying to chase down programs that encouraged diversity and protected the environment. But elections in both 2022 and 2023 have shown that voters don’t like these policies.
That even seems to be true of Republican voters, with poll results last fall showing that this was all a big meh, even on the right. The economy matters to Republican voters. National security matters. But “anti-woke” barely moves the needle.
The same has been true for corporations that tried to leverage anti-woke politics to ditch diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts or environmental policies. A study from November found that shareholder support for anti-ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) programs was “essentially nonexistent.” People don’t seem interested in investing in companies that are polluting, unfair, and out of control … which is nice.
But just because Republicans couldn't manage to make anti-woke happen, doesn't mean they don't have other policies that are just as bad. Or even that they’ve given up on woke. Because woke means anything they want it to mean.
For example, an Idaho state representative has declared that he is against federal funds for rural internet, because giving people in his state internet access is woke.
If they can't win on woke, Republicans can always go back to their sure winners, like the 14 states that refused money to feed hungry school children, the 26 states that refused additional federal unemployment benefits during the pandemic, a push to raise drug prices, and the brilliant idea to eliminate not student loan debt, but student loans.
Join Republicans in keeping Americans broke, hungry, uneducated, and unable to buy the medications they need! That’s a little long to fit on a yard sign, but they can workshop it. If that’s not too woke.
If none of that works, Fox News isn’t afraid to unlimber their anti-woke guns against the biggest target of all: Taylor Swift. According to Fox, Native American activists are worried that Swift could cost them a sacred part of their culture.
America’s most famous Chiefs fan right now, Taylor Swift, is being hailed by some as the great woke hope who can force the franchise to cave to charges of racism and end its "tomahawk chop" chant.
Republicans can surely put that near the top of the 2024 platform. Right above denying people the internet and right below “whatever Trump says.” Attacking Taylor Swift has been such a winning issue for them so far.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.
The FBI informant who was indicted late last week for allegedly fabricating allegations about President Joe Biden and his son Hunter also reportedly had contact with officials in Vladimir Putin's regime, according to a new court filing.
Alexander Smirnov, 43, was charged last week with making false statements to federal authorities over his claim that both Joe and Hunter Biden solicited a $5 million bribe from Ukrainian company Burisma in exchange for protecting it from an investigation by the Ukrainian government. However, a new 28-page filing submitted in US District Court on Tuesday arguing for his continued pretrial detention suggests Smirnov may have had political motivations in concocting the alleged scheme.
"In December 2023 Smirnov reported to his handler about a recent overseas trip, where Smirnov attended a meeting with Russian Official 2, who Smirnov has described as a high-ranking member of a specific Russian intelligence service," read the filing, which was originally tweeted by Politico legal correspondent Kyle Cheney. "During this same trip, Smirnov apparently attended a separate meeting with Russian Official 1, the individual who controls groups that are engaged in overseas assassination efforts."
Revealingly, the filing said that Smirnov told his FBI handler that Russian intelligence officials obtained cell phone calls from "prominent US persons" that the Putin regime "may use as 'kompromat' in the 2024 election,' depending on who the candidates will be." The filing also read that Smirnov is "actively peddling new lies that could impact US elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November."
"Smirnov's contacts with Russian officials who are affiliated with Russian intelligence services are not benign," the DOJ argued in the filing. "The court should consider this conduct as well when evaluating his personal history and characteristics... In light of that fact there is a serious risk he will flee in order to avoid accountability for his actions."
Aside from his alleged fabrications about the Bidens, Smirnov has also been accused of lying about his finances. Even though he told the FBI he only had access to $1,500 in cash and another $5,000 in a savings account, the Tuesday filing read that he withdrew more than $1.7 million in cashier's checks between 2020 and 2022 in the name of "Avalon Group, Inc." It was not made clear from the filing where the money originated.
The lies Smirnov allegedly told make up the core of Republicans' arguments to impeach President Biden, with both House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer (R-KY) both citing his work with the FBI as justification for their impeachment crusade. They have not yet dropped their efforts to impeach Biden despite the president's calls for them to do so in light of Smirnov's indictment.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
- A Republican Congress? It Will Be Showtime -- And Not Much Else ›
- Comer's Latest Biden 'Bombshell' Proves To Be A Ludicrous Dud ›
- Trump Allies Mock (And Bully) Comer Over His Impeachment Flop ›
- Comer's Family Business Is Far Shadier Than Biden's Finances ›
- Former Ukraine President Destroys Impeachment Claims As Fox Host Gawks ›