Tag: j d vance
J.D. Vance

Exploiting Nashville, Vance Forgets Who's Behind Nearly All School Massacres

Republicans are suddenly super concerned about the gender of the Tennessee mass shooter, whose name was Audrey Hale and who went by he/him pronouns.

"If early reports are accurate that a trans shooter targeted a Christian school, there needs to be a lot of soul searching on the extreme left," tweeted Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio. "Giving in to these ideas isn't compassion, it's dangerous."

If it's also accurate that at least 95 percent of mass shootings are committed by cisgender men, as analyses by both Mother Jones magazine and the Violence Project found, then perhaps Vance and other men should do a lot of soul-searching, too.

Indeed, a Mother Jones database of 141 mass shootings in which four or more victims were killed dating back to 1982 found 135 were committed by cisgender men, women committed four (the outlet categorized the Tennessee shooter as a "female" who "identifies as transgender"), and two were perpetrated by male and female shooters acting together. By that measure, men perpetrated at least 95 percent of the mass shootings and, if the Tennessee shooter identified as transgender, then a trans person committed 0.7 percent of those shootings.

The Violence Project documented 172 mass shootings from 1966-2021, and similarly found men perpetrated all but six of the massacres (with four committed by women and two by women working alongside men).

The point is, even if attributes associated with men and masculinity are the problem, fixing maleness in America isn't an achievable solution to country’s gun crisis—or at least not in the short term.

And as Daily Kos' Laura Clawson pointed out, fixating on the shooter's gender identity is just Republicans' latest attempt to jingle their keys in front of Republican voters rather than address the real issue: Anyone of any gender can get their hands on assault weapons in this gun-laden country, and anyone of any gender can use those guns to massacre people—three of whom in America's latest mass school shooting were nine year-old children.

It's unspeakably tragic—as are the lost lives of three other innocent victims—and Republicans are once again proving they would rather scapegoat a clearly sick and disturbed shooter than regulate the ability of that sick and disturbed shooter to get a gun.

Republicans are singlehandedly perpetuating unabated gun violence in this country. As long as they control Congress or have the ability to filibuster legislation in the Senate, the number of Americans and America’s children massacred by guns and assault weapons, in particular, will continue to grow at a breakneck pace.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Midterms Held Off Election Deniers, But They're Still Coming For Democracy

Midterms Held Off Election Deniers, But They're Still Coming For Democracy

Everyone fighting to defend democracy in the just-finishing midterm elections breathed a sigh of relief this week when it became clear that the election denialists running to take over the election apparatuses in key battleground states like Arizona, Nevada, and Michigan all lost in their races decisively, in a clean sweep. The concern revolved around the key secretary-of-state races, where the denialists could have wreaked havoc in presidential elections by altering the Electoral College count—which now will not happen in 2024, at least.

But the attack on democracy presented by election denialists has only been blunted. Outside of those battlegrounds, a significant number of them were, in fact, elected to office—including four secretaries of state. All of them were either elected in red states or in red districts within larger blue states where they are in the minority, which limits the amount of damage they can do. At the same time, it means that conspiracists who readily succumb to false information now hold significant and powerful offices—including U.S. senators and congressmen. It’s been normalized, and it could easily continue to spread.

The New York Times assembled a list of all the hundreds of election denialists of various stripes who ran for either federal or statewide elected offices this year, and found that more than 220 of them won last week. The majority of these were elected to House seats—where there was already no shortage of them—and more than a dozen of them now reside in the U.S. Senate.

“What happened with the election results moved us from the precipice,” UCLA law professor Rick Hasen told Camille Squire and Daniel Nichanian of Bolts. “We won’t have many election deniers running elections, and probably none or few in swing states.”

“Still, there are hundreds of Republican candidates who embraced election denialism and won their races,” he said. “Maybe it’s just cheap talk and it is less worrisome—but it is still antidemocratic and shows that denialism could easily surface again in 2024 or beyond.”

The Times found more than 180 Republican election denialists (a number of them incumbents) winning their elections to the House—meaning that more than a third of the members of Congress will have questioned or denied the 2020 election. This also means that a large majority of states will have at least one Republican representative who is an election denialist.

There will be at least 17 Republican denialists in the U.S. Senate (18, should Herschel Walker win his Georgia runoff in December). The most notable of the newly elected senators is Ohio’s J.D. Vance, who won handily against Democrat Tim Ryan, while Markwayne Mullin, the newly elected senator from Oklahoma, is also an ardent denialist. But their ranks include a number of incumbents, notably Kentucky’s Rand Paul.

There were also more than two dozen election denialists who won election to statewide offices—governors, secretary of states, and attorneys general—of Republican-dominated states, notably Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who won re-election.

More than two dozen Republicans who won state races for governor, secretary of state, and attorney general have questioned the 2020 election, including Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama, who was re-elected to another term.

Four states now have election denialists as their secretaries of state: Indiana, South Dakota, Alabama, and Wyoming. Indiana’s outcome was especially disgraceful: The new secretary of state, Diego Morales, had been fired previously from the office he sought to lead, and had twice been accused of sexually harassing young campaign workers and staff members of the secretary of state’s office.

Morales, who also had worked as a staffer for Mike Pence when he was Indiana’s governor, said this year on the campaign trail that the 2020 election was a “scam” and that its outcome “is questionable.” He underperformed his fellow Republicans in the state by 5-7 percentage points, but still handily won the election, 60%-40%.

Alabama’s new secretary of state, Wes Allen, has already indicated how his belief that the 2020 election was fraudulent will affect his state. Earlier this year, he announced that, if elected, he would withdraw Alabama from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC)—an organization that helps states maintain their voter rolls. Allen claimed that ERIC—which has become a popular bogeyman among election denialists—was “started by former members of the Obama administration and groups funded by George Soros.”

Wyoming’s new secretary of state, Chuck Gray, ran unopposed in the general election after duking it out with other MAGA fanatics in the state’s primary election. Gray was endorsed by Trump, and called the 2020 election “clearly rigged.” He has focused on the use of ballot drop boxes, and has promoted the fraudulent 2000 Mules conspiracy claims that the “woke left” has been using drop boxes to steal elections.

Two election-denialist Republican governors—Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas—with the power to select their secretaries of state also won re-election handily last week. Both previously appointed overseers to those positions who either refused to affirm Biden’s election in 2020 or attempted to assist Trump’s efforts to overturn the outcome with fake electors.

And even in states and districts where they lost, the denialists are refusing to give up and go away. In Arizona, the forces behind Kari Lake and Mark Finchem are planning to file legal appeals, and appear to be preparing for a fresh round of “Stop the Steal” demonstrations. Similarly, professional denialists like Steve Bannon and Mike Lindell are still out there flagellating their audiences of millions.

As Elaine Godfrey observes at The Atlantic,it obviously would be foolish to declare the “Stop the Steal” movement finished. “The movement may have fizzled without Donald Trump, but if he runs again in 2024, we haven’t seen the last of it,” she writes. “Even if Trump isn’t on the ballot, an entire swath of the Republican Party is now open to the idea that any narrow loss can be blamed on fraud.”

The midterm elections provided powerful incentives for Republicans to run away from election denialism, because it badly cost Republicans in the midterms. “Some election deniers won,” TheWashington Post’s Aaron Blake reported, “but the hard-liners almost always ran behind their fellow Republicans and lost in places where the electorate was the most competitive.”

It was also manifest that election denialism is a losing game. “If you tell people that voting is hard, or voter fraud is rampant, or elections are rigged, it doesn’t make people more likely to participate,” David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, told The New York Times. “Why would you want to play a game you thought was rigged?”

Similarly, Lake’s strategy of encouraging voters to hang on to their ballots until Election Day as a way to prevent fraud backfired badly, since it meant she missed out on early voting. “We would have never, ever thought about telling people to hold onto their ballots,” said Wes Gullett, a Republican strategist. “The only reason to do that is to build this narrative about ‘foul play’ and keep that narrative going, but any time you encourage people not to vote immediately, you lose the opportunity to get that vote in the bank.”

But the fires that drive election denialism are not based on logic or reason, but rather their antithesis: the profoundly irrational appeal of authoritarianism. The repeated failures of their “forensic audits” and election-denialist lawsuits have not deterred them, and it’s unlikely that the disappointment over an illusory “red tsunami” in a midterm cycle will dissuade them.

Trump functionally destroyed Republicans’ trust in American elections in 2020. Pew Research Center found that in the two years since he lost in 2020, faith in voting outcomes among rank-and-file GOP voters remains low, and in some respects, has gotten worse.

“He’s broken the seal,” Sarah Longwell, the publisher of The Bulwark, told Godfrey. Election denial “is part of our politics now.”

Meanwhile, non-Republican voters in these red states will be forced to live with their profoundly anti-democratic election systems, which often operate in defiance of the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. And in the ruby-red areas where denialists are in complete control—particularly local county authorities in places like Arizona and Nevada—voting rights might become a thing of the past. These districts are also likely to create islands in the states where both voters and officials no longer believe in the value of elections.

As Godfrey says:

The thing about trust is that it’s painstakingly hard to build and relatively easy to demolish. Election denial is now a chronic wound in America’s body politic, only partially healed, and ready to reopen—red and raw—whenever circumstances permit. Those circumstances may arise sooner rather than later if Trump is on the ballot again in 2024. Even if he isn’t, the former president has already broken the tradition of gracious presidential concessions and peaceful transfers of power. He’s encouraged a populist animus toward institutions that will likely remain a litmus test for future Republican candidates. And more than anything, Trump has created a blueprint for exploiting the messiness and complexity of America’s elections. An audience for this type of exploitation is still out there, if Republicans want to take advantage of it.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Lesson For Democrats: How Alpha Tim Ryan Dominated J.D. Vance

Lesson For Democrats: How Alpha Tim Ryan Dominated J.D. Vance

At least one Democrat has started to figure out how to exploit a GOP weakness. He's Tim Ryan, who is running against J.D. Vance for Ohio's open Senate seat.

What has Ryan figured out? He's calling out Vance as a beta male.

Look, in a different world — say, the planet Vulcan — where the inhabitants, like Mr. Spock, were unburdened by primitive passions and instincts, everyone would make decisions about political candidates based entirely upon rational policy choices. But that's not how humans operate. Part of politics is about policies, of course. But beneath the surface — and these days, not very far beneath the surface — political combat partakes of the dog park. There are rituals of alpha dominance and beta submission.

Recall that in July 1988, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis was running 17 points ahead of Vice President George H.W. Bush. Nothing crashed his numbers more surely than his response to a debate question. CNN's Bernard Shaw, noting the governor's opposition to the death penalty, asked whether, if Dukakis' wife, Kitty, were raped and murdered, he thought he might change his view. Dukakis responded: "No, I don't, Bernard, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life."

Now, granted, it was a bad question, because all of us would respond with rage if someone we loved were raped and murdered, and that's not the best way to make policy. So Dukakis' answer was perfectly appropriate as a policy matter, but it was a disaster as a political matter. Voters thought he was some sort of machine bereft of human feelings and betraying his role as manly wife defender.

Candidates have long performed at two levels in debates, parrying and thrusting about issues but also asserting dominance in mammalian code. In 2000, Al Gore and George W. Bush were seated on chairs without lecterns for a townhall-style debate. At one point, as Bush was speaking, Gore strode over to his side of the stage and right into Bush's personal space. Bush looked at him and gave him a curt nod as if to say, "I see what you're doing, and it's not working."

So voters want their leaders to be assertive and commanding. That has always been the case, and in recent decades, before the Trump era, it was kept within reasonable bounds. Trump, of course, made the subtext the headline, proclaiming, "I alone can fix it," and claiming to be the smartest, toughest, wealthiest, savviest, most capable leader the world had ever seen. Like his hero, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who posed shirtless on horseback and with big game "kills," Trump took the alpha posturing to absurd lengths. Actually, if Trump had merely pretended to kill tigers, it would have been less offensive than his promises to commit war crimes (such as targeting the families of terrorists).

It remains a mystery that these absurd boasts by the most obviously insecure manchild in living memory were not met with the ridicule they deserved. But here we are. Trump's image as some sort of Rambo persists with his most perfervid followers, and even non-MAGAites continue to see him as strong.

Most Democrats have responded to the Trump alpha gorilla routine by reminding voters that he's dangerous and unhinged. It's all true. But in the process of strutting as cock of the walk, Trump has emasculated every other Republican. He may look strong, but he demands that every other Republican become weak in his service.

Men like Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have abased themselves to remain in Trump's good graces. Cruz performed one of the most humiliating kowtows, tamely accepting insults to his wife's appearance, to say nothing of Trump's lunatic assertion that Cruz's father had a role in the Kennedy assassination. They all hold their manhoods cheap. And because Trump is vindictive, petty and cruel, he couldn't resist reminding an Ohio audience that J.D. Vance, the candidate he had come to support but who had once been a Trump critic, was "kissing my ass."

At their first debate on Monday, Ryan took the shot. Reminding viewers that he had stood up to leaders of his own party including Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders, he noted that Vance was such a Trump lackey that even Trump had described it in those terms. Pressing the point, he recalled that even after Trump had "taken his dignity away from him," Vance had returned to the stage to shake Trump's hand and smile for the camera. Hitting the everyman theme, Ryan offered, almost with pity, that "I don't know anybody I grew up with, I don't know anybody I went to high school with, that would allow somebody to take their dignity like that and then get back up on stage."

Ryan thus simultaneously elevated his own alpha status while reinforcing Vance's weakness. Every Republican who has bent the knee to Trump — male or female — is vulnerable in this way. Ryan has taught Democrats something.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

J.D. Vance Dragged Over His 'Fake Nonprofit' That Failed Opioid Victims

J.D. Vance Dragged Over His 'Fake Nonprofit' That Failed Opioid Victims

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) faced off against Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance during a live debate on Monday night as both candidates vie for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). At one point in the debate, Ryan dragged Vance over his anti-drug nonprofit “Our Ohio Renewal,” which Ryan said took advantage of Ohioans struggling with drug addiction.

“You know what I haven’t done?” Ryan asked during the debate at WJW Fox 8’s headquarters in Cleveland. “I didn’t start a fake nonprofit pretending I was going to help people with addiction like JD Vance did — literally started a nonprofit and didn’t spend one nickel on anybody.”

“In fact, he brought in somebody from Perdue Pharma to be the spokesperson for the nonprofit,” Ryan continued. “The same drug company, Big Pharma, the big drug company, that had all the pill mills going, got everybody addicted. One million people died, JD. One million people died. And you started a nonprofit to try and take advantage of people in Ohio. And you know what? All you did with it was launch your political career.”

In August, the Associated Press reported that “the charity’s most notable accomplishment — sending an addiction specialist to Ohio’s Appalachian region for a yearlong residency — was tainted by ties among the doctor, the institute that employed her and Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin."

According to the AP, the nonprofit — which Vance founded the day after the 2016 presidential election and closed “shortly after clinching the state’s Republican nomination for U.S. Senate” — hired Dr. Sally Satel, whose writings “sometimes cited Purdue-funded studies and doctors” and “[questioned] the role of prescription painkillers in the national opioid crisis.”

The American Enterprise Institute, where Satel was a resident scholar, “received regular $50,000 donations and other financial support from Purdue totaling $800,000,” the AP reported.

You can watch a clip of the debate below or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.