Time Names Taylor Swift 'Person Of The Year,' Enraging Far Right

Time Names Taylor Swift 'Person Of The Year,' Enraging Far Right

Taylor Swift is Time magazine’s person of the year, a choice that makes perfect sense. Swift’s Eras Tour is on track to break global records for tour earnings. A concert film also smashed records for that genre and provided the AMC movie theater chain with its highest single-day ticket sales ever. She was Spotify's most-streamed artist globally for 2023, following three years in which Bad Bunny took that title. Swift’s romance with NFL player Travis Kelce has increased ratings for Kansas City Chiefs football games while sales of his jersey spiked by 400 percent. She is as dominant a figure as they come these days—exactly what Time’s person of the year is supposed to recognize.

Prominent far-right influencers are very unhappy. “And just like clockwork, @taylorswift13 (as I warned you all about) is being further activated by the media and the Democrats to interfere in the 2024 election,” Laura Loomer tweeted, tying it back to her earlier just-asking-questions conspiracy theory: “Has @taylorswift13 made a deal with George Soros and Alex Soros to get the rights to her music back in exchange for getting Zoomers registered to vote Democrat against President Trump ahead of the 2024 Presidential election?” (This is a particularly odd theory given that Swift has spent years rerecording her early albums to reclaim ownership.)

Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec also weighed in. “The Taylor Swift girlboss psyop has been fully activated. From her hand-selected vaccine shill boyfriend to her DINK lifestyle to her upcoming 2024 voter operation for Democrats on abortion rights,” he tweeted. “It’s all coming.”

Posobiec also offered up the Soros conspiracy theory: “Thinking about when Taylor Swift called out the Soros family in 2019 for buying the rights to her music and then how she came out a super liberal in 2020.”

Time’s person of the year interview with Swift makes clear just how ridiculous this idea is of her as a Soros puppet—or anyone’s puppet. Swift is forceful and direct. She is very much a person who knows her own mind and is charting her own course. Again, this is someone who responded to the loss of control of her artistic product by rerecording it over a period of years while continuing to put out new music and then launching one of the biggest, if not the biggest, tours of all time.

In the interview, Swift models support for other highly successful women in entertainment, refusing to be drawn into competition. She described her tour, Beyoncé’s tour, and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” movie as ”a three-part summer of feminine extravaganza.” She praises both Gerwig and Beyoncé, in particular the latter:

“She’s the most precious gem of a person—warm and open and funny,” Swift says. “And she’s such a great disrupter of music-industry norms. She taught every artist how to flip the table and challenge archaic business practices.” That her tour and Beyoncé’s were frequently juxtaposed is vexing. “There were so many stadium tours this summer, but the only ones that were compared were me and Beyoncé,” she says. “Clearly it’s very lucrative for the media and stan culture to pit two women against each other, even when those two artists in question refuse to participate in that discussion.”

Swift even offered an analysis of how gender is at play in the economics of popular culture. This is not some blank slate being “activated” by the media/Democrats/Soros. She’s not just a singer and performer: She’s a songwriter and a major entrepreneur. At just 33 years old, she’s been navigating fame for more than 15 years. In that time has she learned an enormous amount about how the public responds to what she says and does.

Take her relationship with Kelce, another target of right-wing rage. Before the relationship went public, she told Time, “we actually had a significant amount of time that no one knew, which I’m grateful for, because we got to get to know each other. By the time I went to that first game, we were a couple. I think some people think that they saw our first date at that game? We would never be psychotic enough to hard launch a first date.” This is someone who has from a very early age had to see every detail of her life through the filter of how it might be reported and how her fans and haters might react. If she didn’t have an enormous amount of self-knowledge, she would not be the star she is, because she would have crashed and burned.

People like Posobiec and Loomer, who see everything as a conspiracy, look at Swift and see only a conventionally attractive young woman and pop star and simply cannot wrap their heads around any of that. But even if you’re not especially a Swift fan (here I raise my hand), any assessment of her that’s grounded in reality has to acknowledge her intelligence and independence.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Troy Nehls

House Republican Admits Biden Impeachment Is 'Ammo For Trump'

Most House Republicans keep pretending that there’s some noble basis for their drive to impeach President Joe Biden. He’s corrupt, they say, even as their bombshell evidence of that is that Biden’s son repaid him for a car loan. They’re just following the evidence, they say, glossing over the lack of evidence to follow. Not Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX). He’s being honest.

Nehls told USA Todaythat his reason for impeachment would be to give Trump “a little bit of ammo to fire back” at Biden in the 2024 presidential race. The ammo being “So what if I was impeached twice and face 91 felony counts. You were impeached, too!” It doesn’t get any more partisan than that.

After all of the protestations to the contrary from the 18 House Republicans in Biden districts pontificating, as Rep. Marc Molinaro (D-NY) recently did, about the House’s “fundamental responsibility of provide accountability to the executive branch” and tut-tutting about being “troubled by some of the behavior” from the White House, Nehls is telling the truth.

Republicans were gearing up to impeach Biden before they ever took control of the House, and they started hearings with that end in mind as soon as they could get their act together to do so. You can bet that if they’d found any real evidence of wrongdoing by the president, he’d have been impeached immediately.

Instead, they’re heading into a vote for a formal impeachment inquiry armed with some loan repayments from Joe Biden’s son and his brother, repayments made when he wasn’t even in office. In the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing, they may try to impeach him for obstructing their investigation—presumably by not coughing up the nonexistent evidence they imagine he’s hiding.

And why are they so determined to get this done? It’s like Nehls said: to give Trump “a little bit of ammo to fire back.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Speaker Capitulates To Greene And Far Right On Biden Impeachment Inquiry

Speaker Capitulates To Greene And Far Right On Biden Impeachment Inquiry

House Republicans are moving toward a vote on a formal impeachment inquiry as they continue to allege, without evidence, serious corruption on the part of President Joe Biden. The evidence has not gotten stronger since mid-November, when House Speaker Mike Johnson reportedly told so-called Republican moderates that there was “insufficient evidence” to move forward. The politics, however, have changed. Johnson’s move to keep the government from shutting down angered some extremist Republicans, and the expulsion of George Santos just after Johnson declared his opposition to expulsion did not make Johnson look any stronger. Giving the extremists a vote on an impeachment inquiry is an easy way for Johnson to try to shore up support.

The White House is vigorously pointing out the political calculations behind a vote on an impeachment inquiry. "Under fire for expelling George Santos, Speaker Johnson is throwing red meat to Marjorie Taylor Greene and the far right flank of the House GOP by pushing a full House vote on this illegitimate impeachment stunt," White House spokesperson Ian Sams told The Messenger.

"He admitted there is no evidence to justify it three weeks ago, but he’s doing it anyway — further proof that this whole exercise is an extreme political stunt, rather than a legitimate pursuit of the truth," Sams told The Messenger, excoriating Johnson and his flock for a "baseless smear campaign" that he said is "solely intended to satisfy their most extreme members."

Johnson has been consistent in publicly claiming that Republicans have a strong case against Biden, even as he admitted to members of his conference that there was “insufficient evidence.” Now, House Republicans are preparing to escalate their baseless inquiry and thereby escalate their harassment of Biden—leading into an election year.

The politics of an impeachment inquiry vote are clear, as former Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged, saying on Fox & Friends, “If you’re a Republican, do you really want to guarantee a primary opponent by voting against it?” Gingrich went on to offer up the regular Republican talking points, claiming that Biden is corrupt, but that sentence right there is going to be the basis for at least a few Republican votes on an impeachment inquiry—and with the razor-thin margin Republicans have in the House, that could be the decisive factor.

Republicans are set to move toward impeachment. But their evidence remains even thinner than their House majority, and many of them know it. Partisanship reigns above everything for them.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Jason Chaffetz

Where Did Fox Chatterbox Jason Chaffetz Buy That '$90 Turkey'?

Republicans making outrageous claims about what they’ve spent on ordinary purchases is becoming its own genre during Joe Biden’s presidency. Former congressman and current Fox News commentator Jason Chaffetz would like to contribute a claim about a $90 turkey to that discourse.

“We went to go buy a turkey today. It was $90 for a turkey!” Chaffetz half-shouted, disbelievingly. “The price of stamps is up 32 percent in the last four years. But it’s all a choice by Joe Biden. That is what Bidenomics is.”

It’s a short quote, but there’s a lot to unpack. (As a side note, postage prices are not set by the president, and “the last four years” would include more than a year of Donald Trump’s presidency.)

The most likely case is that Chaffetz was lying about the price of that turkey. He’s a Republican on Fox News—it’s not a stretch to suspect that.

Frozen turkey prices have dropped in recent months, down to $1.25 per pound in September. That’s 43 cents a pound cheaper than a year earlier. Unless Chaffetz was somehow sourcing a 70-pound turkey, he was paying well above the average price per pound. If he was buying an organic turkey at my local Whole Foods, $90 would get him a bird a little over 20 pounds. Who knows, maybe he was getting a 10-pound turkey at a high-end specialty butcher.

Regardless, your average American shopper is not stuck paying $90 for an average-sized turkey. But why wouldn’t Chaffetz lie (again, the most likely scenario here)? Fox News viewers, even ones who know damn well that they did not pay anything like $90 for their turkey, were probably nodding along with him. Chaffetz is part of a well-oiled propaganda machine constantly working to make Americans think things are worse than they are.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Pink Giving Away Banned Books At Florida Concerts

Pink Giving Away Banned Books At Florida Concerts

Under Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida has become the center of book-banning in the United States, overtaking Texas, the former leading state in that category. Pop star Pink is using her Florida concert dates to fight that.

Pink teamed up with anti-censorship nonprofit PEN America to distribute thousands of copies of banned-in-Florida books at her shows in Miami and Sunrise this week. The 2,000 books in the giveaway include The Family Book by children’s author Todd Parr; The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman, who became a favorite right-wing target after her poetry reading at the Biden-Harris inauguration; Beloved by Toni Morrison; and a book from Girls Who Code. The first three books appear on PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans, while the last was temporarily banned in a Pennsylvania school district.

“Books have held a special joy for me from the time I was a child, and that’s why I am unwilling to stand by and watch while books are banned by schools,” Pink said in a statement. “It’s especially hateful to see authorities take aim at books about race and racism and against LGBTQ authors and those of color. We have made so many strides toward equality in this country and no one should want to see this progress reversed. This is why I am supporting PEN America in its work and why I agree with them: no more banned books.”

Pink promoted the book giveaways—and took on the haters—in a steady stream of tweets:

After critics accused her of sharing a debunked list of banned books, she brought receipts. And on Wednesday night, she signed off with a gleeful note:

It’s really fun when someone who won’t back down or be intimidated offers a reminder of how badly—and why—Republicans are losing the culture wars they’re trying to start.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Chip Roy

GOP Rep. Roy Admits That Congressional Republicans Are Failing (VIDEO)

Rep. Chip Roy is a far-right Texas Republican. How far right? In January, he traded his speaker vote to Kevin McCarthy for a promise that an anti-immigrant bill would be fast-tracked for a vote, but Roy’s bill was too extreme for some House Republicans. But if you don’t get into the specifics of what he wishes House Republicans had done over the past 11 months, his assessment of their record seems exactly right—and it could double as an ad for House Democrats.

“One thing. I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing,” Roy yelled on the House floor on Wednesday. “One. That I can go campaign on and say we did. One! Anybody sitting in the complex, if you want to come down to the floor and come explain to me one material, meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done besides ‘Well, I guess it’s not as bad as the Democrats.’”

Roy wishes House Republicans were doing terrible, terrible things, and this time he’s specifically angry that they’re not moving more directly to shut down the government. But he’s absolutely right about their overall failure to do “one material, meaningful, significant thing.” And long may it continue.

Republicans are challenging labor leaders to fights and allegedly physically assaulting one another. Donald Trump says he will abolish reproductive rights entirely and is openly calling for the extermination of his detractors, referring to them as “vermin” on Veterans Day. The Republican Party has emerged from its corruption cocoon as a full-blown fascist movement.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

How The Republican Party Endangers The Health Of American Kids

How The Republican Party Endangers The Health Of American Kids

When it comes to children’s health, there are two terrifying headlines this week. The Washington Post reports that “CDC data shows highest level yet of vaccine exemptions for kindergartners.” The New York Times says, “At Least 2 Million Children Have Lost Medicaid Insurance This Year.” These interlinking stories are both the results of decisions by Republicans to put MAGA anti-vaccine politics above children.

Vaccination refusal for kindergarteners increased from 2.6 percent during the 2021-2022 school year to three percent in 2022-2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in its most recent review of vaccination records. Every state and Washington, D.C., requires proof of vaccination for measles, whooping cough, and polio at a minimum. Every state allows exemptions for health reasons, but an increasing number of states allow them on religious or “philosophical” grounds.

No, it’s not just MAGA parents who refuse to participate responsibly in civil society by protecting their and other children. But the big increase, according to a December 2022 survey from Kaiser Family Foundation, is among Republicans. “Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, there has been a 24 percentage-point increase in the share” of people who say “parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their school-age children, even if this creates health risks for others.” That’s an increase from 20% in 2019—before the pandemic and MAGA vaccine hysteria—to 44 percent in 2022.

Plenty of those kids and their school and playmates who either aren’t vaccinated or are put at greater risk by being exposed to unvaxxed kids don’t have health insurance anymore since pandemic-era expansions ended; more than 2 million of their policies, as the Times reports. It’s not clear how many have found coverage from other sources, Medicaid expert Joan Alker told the Times. She estimates that there are at least 1 million children without coverage.

That information comes, again, from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been following the “unwinding” of Medicaid coverage since the pandemic expansion of the program expired. That’s just among the 21 states that report the data on who has been kicked off the program by age.

“As of November 8, 2023, at least 2,006,000 children had been disenrolled out of 5,238,000 total disenrollments in the 21 states” KFF reports. Here’s the chart of those 21 states. It’s pretty clear that some of the reddest states have been the most effective in taking health care away from children.

Bar chart showing percentage of children dropped from Medicaid in 21 states reporting that data.

The Medicaid unwinding process has been complicated and difficult for most states. Through the pandemic, Medicaid enrollees didn’t have to continuously prove their eligibility for benefits and 21.2 million people, including children, were added to the program during the pandemic. Some states (mostly the blue ones) worked hard to reach out to enrollees to explain to them how to keep their families covered. And some states (lots of the red ones) were less proactive in helping their citizens.

Both issues are political, and the results are children subject to harm. Kicking kids off of Medicaid and promoting the idea that vaccinations are dangerous and that public health isn’t as important as MAGA beliefs are part and parcel of the Republican ideology these days. That would be the self-proclaimed “party of life,” forcing children to be born so that they can then be neglected and out-and-out harmed by Republican policies.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos


Ohio Republicans Scheming To Overturn Abortion Rights Referendum

Ohio voted 56.6 to 43.4 percent to put the right to abortion in its state constitution. The very next day, Republicans were vowing to overturn that election. Overturning elections is a growing Republican Party trend, but it’s possible that even Donald Trump would hesitate to try it with a 13 percentage point margin of victory where the top election official was a Republican.

Ohio Republicans are in the “throw things at the wall and see what sticks” phase of trying to undo what their state’s voters did, as a press release from the Ohio House of Representatives Republican newsroom clearly shows.

There’s the “ignore the margin, the election was stolen anyway” argument, which state Rep. Jennifer Gross made. “Foreign billionaires don't get to make Ohio laws,” she said, adding, “This is foreign election interference, and it will not stand.” She’s talking about money from the George Soros-backed Open Society Policy Center. Soros was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1961, the expenditures were made according to U.S. law, and if a few million dollars could reliably swing elections toward progressive issues or candidates in Ohio, it’s safe to say the past few elections would have gone very differently. Ohio voters made this Ohio law. They’re adults who made up their own minds.

Then there are some Republicans gearing up to pretend that this amendment doesn’t mean what it says and that it needs the legislature to step in and say what it really means. “Issue 1 doesn't repeal a single Ohio law, in fact, it doesn't even mention one,” according to state Rep. Bill Dean. And that’s the opening he hopes to exploit, or, as he put it, “The amendment’s language is dangerously vague and unconstrained, and can be weaponized to attack parental rights or defend rapists, pedophiles, and human traffickers.”

While there are significant issues left to litigate, with the courts needing to decide which current abortion restrictions are allowed following the Issue 1 vote and which ones to strike down, state House Republicans are clearly very nervous about how that will go in the courts. According to their press release:

To prevent mischief by pro-abortion courts with Issue 1, Ohio legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative. The Ohio legislature alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides.

How’s that for an announcement of a planned power grab? They lost big in August on the vote attempting to make it more difficult to pass abortion rights. They lost big in November. Now, they’re looking ahead to losing in the courts—so they’re laying the groundwork to steal this election by stealing power from the courts.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Andy Beshear

Despite Great Election For Democrats, Media Obsess Over 'Doom Narratives'

Democrats and progressive issues had a great night on Tuesday: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s strong reelection, Democrats gaining control of both chambers of the Virginia state legislature, Dan McCaffery’s Pennsylvania Supreme Court win, Ohio voters putting abortion rights in their state constitution, and a bad night for Moms for Liberty-endorsed school board candidates. It’s an impressive list! If you think that’s going to dissuade the media from continuing to run with everything-is-bad-for-Biden narratives, though, you will need to think again.

To be sure, some in the media got it—even some surprises, like Politico. (Seriously!) The New York Times, on the other hand, cannot accept that its big weekend poll showing Donald Trump leading President Joe Biden in key battleground states might not be the top story of the day after voters went to the polls and handed Biden’s party some wins.

Outside of the straight news pieces about results of specific elections, the Times coverage of Tuesday’s elections was overwhelmingly focused on how even though Democrats won, That Poll is still right a year out. That no matter how much Democrats keep winning elections, Biden is in deep trouble. Here's Peter Baker: “Poll? What poll? The Democratic victories in Tuesday’s off-year elections gave President Biden’s White House some breathing space that it desperately needed just when it needed it.” Got that? The poll is the story. The elections are the distraction.

Nate Cohn arrived to explain: “There’s no contradiction between the polling and Tuesday’s election results. There’s not even a contradiction between the polling and the last year of special elections.”

Cohn wasn’t alone in making that case, but:

It’s possible that 2024 will be the exception, but the pundits—even the data pundits like Cohn—arguing for that likelihood need to take the track record a little more seriously. Actually, this is no time for sarcastic understatement: Make that a lot more seriously.

Not to be outdone by the Times touting its own polls, CNN ran with a poll analysis that appears to have been written before the elections with the assumption that they would signal trouble for Democrats. It seems like it was then hastily tweaked. It opens: “A big night for Democrats Tuesday in state races only highlighted the struggles Joe Biden faces in 2024 following polls suggesting he’s far less popular than his party.” A few paragraphs later, the article’s author, Stephen Collinson, details some of Tuesday’s big wins and offers up this skeptical admission: “This could mean polls are underplaying Democrats’ resilience under Biden, as they did in last year’s midterms when a Republican red wave was averted.” But you know there’s a “but” coming. It is of course a classic traditional media piece, swinging from but to but and always landing most decisively where it started, which is with the bad news for Democrats the morning after a set of big wins.

This is all of a piece with recent media coverage of the economy: Even the best economic news is reported as a political issue in tones of doom for Biden. As the Center for Economic Policy and Research put it, those stories “take advantage of the obvious fact that tens of millions of families are struggling in this economy, as is always true in the United States. The point here is that we have a terribly weak welfare state.” When Democrats are in power, those struggles suddenly become much more interesting to reporters.

It’s true that Biden does not look like a historically strong candidate, but the election is almost a year away. Right now, the media has to decide what matters more, analytically speaking: the results of elections that have already happened, which show Democrats on a historic roll, or polls of a distant election in which almost anything could change. It’s telling that they’re going with the less reliable source.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Most Endangered House Republicans Line Up Behind Extremist Speaker

Most Endangered House Republicans Line Up Behind Extremist Speaker

Whether out of desperation or sheer exhaustion, House Republicans unanimously voted in a new Speaker more than three weeks after Kevin McCarthy was booted. And what a doozy of a speaker he is: Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) is an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+ bigot who is all in on an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden based on lies. He considers himself and Rep. Jim Jordan to be “like Batman and Robin,” and if he were Robin before, maybe now he gets to be Batman. And all 18 Republicans representing districts President Joe Biden won in 2020 got behind this extremist.

Nine Biden-district Republicans voted for Jordan as speaker all three times. Another three voted for him twice before flipping their votes the third time. But Johnson? The “most important architect of the Electoral College objections” in the House on January 6, 2021, according to The New York Times? He got all 18 of them. And all 18 of them are going to have to answer for it in their 2024 reelection campaigns—Democrats will make sure of that (like New York Rep. Mike Lawler, who got heckled on the floor as he voted for Johnson).

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Glenn Youngkin

Virginia Republicans Mail 'Revenge Porn' Leaflets In State Senate Race

The Republican Party of Virginia is exploring how low a political party can go with a new set of campaign mailers targeting Democratic state House candidate Susanna Gibson. Last month, the Washington Postreported that Gibson and her husband had performed sex acts for tips on the platform Chaturbate. At the time, Gibson’s Republican opponent, David Owen, ostentatiously took the high road, telling the Post, “I’m sure this is a difficult time for Susanna and her family, and I’m remaining focused on my campaign.” Now, the state Republican Party is using screenshotted images from those livestreams in a campaign mailer.

“Do not open if you are under the age of 18,” the outside of the mailer reads, and, “Warning: Explicit material enclosed.” Inside, “voters found two pieces of paper with censored quotes and screenshots from Gibson’s public porn livestream,” NBC12 reported.

“Glenn Youngkin wants to ban pornhub but had his party campaign committee mail out nude photos of a candidate. He’s a man of privilege that doesn’t understand CONSENT and that should petrify every voter in Virginia. Revenge porn is a crime and that includes in politics,” state Sen. Louise Lucas tweeted in response to the mailer.

That does raise an important question. When Gibson’s Chaturbate streams were first reported, her lawyer suggested to the Post that their preservation and sharing on other sites could constitute revenge porn, citing a Virginia court’s ruling that there is a “stark distinction between an image existing only in someone’s memory … [and] a permanent file that may be shared or re-viewed indefinitely.”

However, the Republican Party’s lawyers were on the case. Virginia does have a statute on “Unlawful dissemination or sale of images of another,” which prohibits the malicious dissemination of “any videographic or still image created by any means whatsoever that depicts another person who is totally nude, or in a state of undress so as to expose the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast.” However, images of the inside of the mailer aired on local news show that the warnings on the outside about explicit content refer more to quotes from Gibson’s livestream than to the images used, which are not explicit. The spirit of revenge porn is absolutely there, but the letter of the law doesn’t appear to have been violated.

According to the same local news report, Youngkin claimed he didn’t know anything about the mailers—but he was happy to take the opportunity to attack Gibson and talk up Owen. That’s Glenn Youngkin for you. He markets himself as the nice-guy Republican antidote to Trump, but he’s the leader of a state party that’s sending out mailers carefully tiptoeing around the edges of revenge porn laws, and he’ll happily use the controversy around those mailers for political advantage. A total sleazebag, in other words.

Virginia elections expert Larry Sabato suggested that this might be a desperation move by Republicans. “They have decided that this will benefit their candidate. You wonder whether perhaps a private survey indicated that Susanna Gibson was doing better than they expected her to because that is a very competitive district,” he told NBC12.

According to a statement from Gibson’s campaign, “David Owen and the Virginia GOP are trying to distract voters from their extreme agenda to ban abortion, defund schools, and allow violent criminals to access weapons of war. Voters are tired of these desperate attacks, and they will not be fooled by them. From day one, Susanna has been focused on protecting reproductive freedom, fully funding our schools, and keeping our communities safe. Nothing will ever deter her commitment to our community.”

This isn’t the only recent Republican foray into revenge porn, of course, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene showing nonconsensual nude photos of Hunter Biden in a House hearing. When people—or political parties—show you who they are, believe them.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Fun! MAGA House Republicans Are Furiously Attacking Each Other

Fun! MAGA House Republicans Are Furiously Attacking Each Other

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) spent Tuesday fighting for the House speaker’s gavel once again—this time unsuccessfully, as he became the first speaker ever ousted—and like clockwork, Republicans put their total dysfunction on display.

As McCarthy fought to keep the job that it took him 15 rounds of voting to get in the first place, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the fourth-ranking Republican in the House, attempted to make the case for him, and it didn’t go well for either McCarthy’s image or Stefanik’s connection to reality.

“Kevin McCarthy is a happy warrior,” Stefanik said. “He is tireless. He has that uniquely American grit. Under Kevin’s speakership that lasted 15 rounds of him never giving up, this Republican majority has exceeded all expectations.”

Setting aside the “happy warrior” cheese and the hilarious attempt to spin McCarthy’s 15 rounds of groveling into a display of grit, I guess that if your expectation was that McCarthy would face a motion to vacate the chair in February, then he exceeded expectations by making it to October before that happened. Similarly, it’s true that House Republicans exceeded many people’s expectations when they didn’t shut down the government over the weekend, but that’s a pretty low bar. And Rep. Matt Gaetz challenged McCarthy’s leadership because McCarthy, as Gaetz sees it, caved to Democrats to keep the government open. It’s dysfunction piled on dysfunction here.

Gaetz was not letting that one go. “I would just say if this House of Representatives has exceeded all expectations, then we definitely need higher expectations,” he responded.

Here’s the thing: Gaetz is not wrong about that. (Stopped clock, etc.) The expectations he wants this House to meet are expectations of chaos and government shutdowns and punitive funding cuts, but nonetheless, this House Republican majority isn’t meeting any set of expectations. Instead, the majority is scrambling from crisis to crisis—and most of those crises were created by House Republicans to begin with.

Gaetz’s take drew some laughter from Democrats, but it’s safe to say that, in general, he is not making very many friends this week. Rep. Chip Roy, who in January voted against McCarthy 11 times before flipping and helping McCarthy across the finish line, seems a little ticked off.

“You want to come at me and call me a RINO, you can kiss my ass. Look, I’ve spent a lifetime fighting for limited-government conservatism. I have laid it all on the line. I’ve not seen my family for two days in the last 30 days. You go around talking your big game and you thumping your chest on Twitter? Yeah, come in my office and come have a debate, mother——. You know why? Because I’m standing up for this country every single day.”

It sure seems like things are going to settle down and be collegial and productive when the motion-to-vacate fight is over, doesn’t it?

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Angry Trump Hints Anti-Abortion Movement Is A Grift

Angry Trump Hints Anti-Abortion Movement Is A Grift

Donald Trump cannot stop blundering on his abortion stance.

To be fair, he’s in a difficult position: Trump is the relatively rare Republican who understands that abortion bans are unpopular, and he wants to look ahead to a general election, in which support for a federal ban could really hurt him. But he's still competing in a Republican presidential primary, and that means he’s going to need the votes of anti-abortion extremists. It’s a tough balance to strike, and he’s … not succeeding.

If Trump didn’t have such a huge lead in the primary polls, he would have faced massive opposition from anti-abortion groups by now. And his latest gaffe might draw out more of that.

In an interview with The National Pulse, Trump appeared to question the motives of anti-abortion groups:

“This is an issue that’s been going on for 52 years. I was able to end it. That gave tremendous negotiating power to the pro-life movement. Tremendous negotiating power. Because they can’t do the things that they used to be able to do,” Trump said, returning (as he always does) to his grievance that he’s not properly appreciated for his pivotal Supreme Court appointments.

He continued: “The pro-life was fighting it, we have these groups fighting this thing for so many decades, but it’s exactly 52 years as of a date in the not-too-distant future. And that’s a long time. Everybody’s raising money all the time—I don’t know, maybe it’s some kind of a business. I don’t know what’s going on, but everybody was amazed that I was able to do it, and I put them in a great negotiating position.”

There’s a fair bit of Trumpian word salad there, but “Everybody’s raising money all the time—I don’t know, maybe it’s some kind of a business” does jump out. Being Trump, he’s probably torn between admiration for anyone raising money and irritation that the money isn’t going directly to him, but, as the DeSantis War Room account said, it kind of does sound like he was accusing anti-abortion groups of grifting.

That cannot help an already strained relationship between Trump and those groups. Trump has been reluctant to promise a 15-week federal abortion ban, has suggested that Republicans need to include stronger exceptions in their abortion bans, and has criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing a six-week abortion ban, calling it “a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.”

Last spring, Trump did come under pressure from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America for dragging his feet on a 15-week ban—but following a private meeting, the organization’s leader praised him, and the pressure eased. At this point, Trump’s standing in the primary may look too strong for anti-abortion groups to be willing to criticize him too harshly, knowing that they’re likely to have to rally the troops behind him in the general election. But he’s certainly challenging their resolve on that one.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Biden Becomes First Sitting President To Visit Union Picket Line (VIDEO)

Biden Becomes First Sitting President To Visit Union Picket Line (VIDEO)

When President Joe Biden arrived at a Michigan picket line Tuesday, it was the first time a sitting U.S. president is known to have done so, historians say. Biden made the trip at the invitation of United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain, who accompanied him as he spoke to striking workers.

“You guys, UAW, you saved the automobile industry back in 2008 and before. You made a lot of sacrifices, gave a lot when the companies were in trouble, and now they’re doing incredibly well. And guess what, you should be doing incredibly well too,” Biden said, who was at times drowned out by applause. “You deserve a significant raise you need, and other benefits. Let’s get back what we lost, okay? We saved them, it’s about time for them to step up for us.”

Biden’s visit to Michigan came a day ahead of a Donald Trump speech that was initially billed as outreach to union workers but is being held at a nonunion auto parts manufacturer. Trump is trying to play the populist and the stronger job-creator, but it rings false on both fronts:

While the UAW has not yet endorsed Biden for reelection, Fain strongly rebuffed Trump’s efforts to portray himself as an ally of union workers.

“Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers,” Fain said in a statement shared with news organizations when Trump announced his Michigan speech. “We can’t keep electing billionaires and millionaires that don’t have any understanding what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to get by and expecting them to solve the problems of the working class.”

During Trump’s time in the White House, his record was one of hostility to workers and unions, even as he occasionally claimed to be on the side of workers for political advantage. Trump’s administration, the Economic Policy Institute summarized, “rolled back worker protections, proposed budgets that slash funding for agencies that safeguard workers’ rights, wages, and safety, and consistently attacked workers’ ability to organize and collectively bargain.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Narcissist Trump Disdained The Wounded And Admired The War Criminal

Narcissist Trump Disdained The Wounded And Admired The War Criminal

We’ve long known who Donald Trump is: narcissistic, impressed with authoritarian displays, contemptuous of anyone he sees as low status, a man for whom the highest principle is his own self-interest. It’s still shocking to read new accounts of the moments where he’s most willing to come out and show all that, to not even pretend to be anything but what he is—and holy crap, does The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg have the goods in his new profile of outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley, which focuses on Milley’s efforts to protect the military as a nonpartisan institution under Trump.

Two moments stand out for Trump’s casual cruelty. In one, a severely wounded Army captain had sung “God Bless America” at the welcome ceremony for Milley as the new Joint Chiefs of Staff chair:

After Avila’s performance, Trump walked over to congratulate him, but then said to Milley, within earshot of several witnesses, “Why do you bring people like that here? No one wants to see that, the wounded.” Never let Avila appear in public again, Trump told Milley.

It’s a moment that echoed Trump mocking a disabled reporter, or reportedly refusing to visit a cemetery for World War II dead in France, saying “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers” and calling dead Marines “suckers.” That cruelty was not how Trump’s reaction to Capt. Mark Avila was reported at the time.

It’s too much to hope that the media will learn its lesson here, of course.

While Trump sees members of the military who are injured or killed as “losers,” “suckers,” and people “no one wants to see,” he is a big fan of those who commit war crimes in a macho way. Goldberg also recounts Milley’s efforts to keep Trump from returning a Navy SEAL pin to Eddie Gallagher, a SEAL found guilty of posing with the corpse of a prisoner who, witnesses testified, Gallagher had stabbed in the neck. Milley argued to Trump that it was up to the SEALs to decide whether Gallagher would keep his pin.

Trump called Gallagher a hero and said he didn’t understand why he was being punished.“Because he slit the throat of a wounded prisoner,” Milley said.

“The guy was going to die anyway,” Trump said.

Milley answered, “Mr. President, we have military ethics and laws about what happens in battle. We can’t do that kind of thing. It’s a war crime.” Trump answered that he didn’t understand “the big deal.” He went on, “You guys”—meaning combat soldiers—“are all just killers. What’s the difference?”

“You guys are all just killers” is a statement breathtaking in its simultaneous characterization of what service members are supposed to do and its dismissal of “war crime” as a meaningful category.

Soldiers are supposed to kill indiscriminately, as far as Trump is concerned. That’s what he wants to see from them. Goldberg also describes how Trump elevated both Milley and former Defense Secretary James Mattis because they fit his mental model of a general. “Trump picked [Milley] as chief because he looks like what Trump thinks a general should look like,” Sen. Angus King told Goldberg. Trump wanted burly old white men who seemed like they’d killed a lot of people and would be happy to do it again, in part because he thought they’d be more likely to go along with whatever he wanted to do.

“The president couldn’t fathom people who served their nation honorably,” John Kelly, a retired Marine general who served as Trump’s White House chief of staff told Goldberg of Milley, but it applies to Trump’s blank response to the concept of a war crime, as well. And, Goldberg reports, Milley more than once had to steer Trump away from committing his own war crimes.

The anecdotes as reported by Goldberg are stunning in their embrace of military violence and disdain for anyone who has been left disabled by it. The picture that emerges of Trump—a picture consistent with everything we’ve seen from him—is of a child playing with toy soldiers, an unquestionable dictator over his little inanimate figures, whose every decision is righteous and who throws the broken soldiers away, angered by their very existence. The problem, of course, is that here we are talking about actual people, and very real war crimes.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Bob Menendez

Menendez Indictment Highlights Contrasting Partisan Reactions To Corruption

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey isn't backing down as he faces a lurid set of corruption charges—complete with gold bars and stacks of cash—and many prominent Democrats have had nothing to say. That silence is troubling, but it’s also a departure from the previous time Menendez was indicted, when Democrats rallied around him. But Friday evening, the dam may have started to burst, with New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and the speaker of the state Assembly calling on Menendez to resign, along with Rep. Mikie Sherill (D-NJ).

Even with silence from Senate Democrats thus far, the difference between the Democratic response to Menendez’s indictment and the Republican response to Donald Trump’s indictments—or, for that matter, to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ raging corruption—is not hard to see.

For one thing, few high-ranking Democratic officials are rushing to call on Menendez to resign, but neither are they in front of cameras swearing to investigate the prosecutors who indicted him or ranting about political prosecutions. And as the hours passed, a few Democrats began to speak out. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) was the first member of Congress to call for Menendez to resign. (Then again, Phillips has called for a primary challenge to President Joe Biden, so whatever.)

“As both a leader in the Democratic Party & the former Attorney General and given the nature of the charges, I call upon Senator Menendez to resign,” tweeted former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “The nation will be better served if he steps aside and allows a transition to occur that will best serve the people of New Jersey.”

But a bigger difference is visible if you compare the responses of liberal commentators to the immediate Republican rush to defend Trump:

As for the Republican response to the Menendez charges …

Republican voters have largely shrugged off Trump’s indictments, except for the loyalists who’ve made posturing threats of violence in response. Republican commentators have largely defended him, as have Republican lawmakers. It’s important that Democrats do better. So far, the signs are good, but we need more from our leaders.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Lauren Boebert

Boebert's Lewd Public Misconduct? It Was All A Liberal Conspiracy!

Rep. Lauren Boebert is getting the kind of attention that even she presumably doesn’t like. Last week she was kicked out of a Colorado theater for vaping, recording the show, and other disruptive behavior. After Boebert denied vaping, the theater released security footage showing her doing just that—and more. She and her date were fondling each other in ways that had to be uncomfortable for their neighbors.

To her credit, Boebert has apologized for her behavior. However, not content with the explanation that Boebert is who she has always appeared to be, some on the right have turned the incident into a conspiracy theory: Boebert was set up.

The New York Post emphasized that her date was a Democrat who owns a bar that’s hosted at least one drag show, and many took this as evidence of Boebert’s hypocrisy, while others used it to bolster the notion that she was set up. The latter claim is showing up all over social media, led by so-called journalist and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Liz Crokin. “It turns out Lauren Boebert's mystery man is a Democrat bar owner,” Crokin tweeted. “If I was a wagering enthusiast, I would bet this guy was paid to set her up.”

Crokin laid out an elaborate scenario: “She’s coming off a divorce, and she’s vulnerable. This guy comes into her life, charms her, seduces her and then probably gets her liquored up and takes her out in public. Stage set.” Honestly, Boebert probably is vulnerable as she divorces her longtime husband, and she gets to be privately messy over that if she wants to. But this was public misbehavior that impacted other people and ended, according to reports, with her repeatedly busting out the classic, “Do you know who I am?” That’s a statement of entitlement: I get to disrupt other people’s theater experience because I’m important.

Next, Crokin moves to the conspiracy that the stage was supposedly set for: “He then instigates her by fondling her in a theater that just happens to have night vision cameras right on them. Then the whole incident is released to the public in what looks like high-definition video in an attempt to harm her reputation.” Of course, Boebert did not need to be persuaded into bad behavior. Even if you didn’t know who she was, she would stand out in the theater’s security video as the person vaping, waving her arms above her head, and taking flash photos. No one else visible in the video, which shows many rows in the theater, appeared to be behaving that way. (While the video is impressive for night vision, high-definition it is not.) Additionally, Boebert being kicked out of the theater and asking, “Do you know who I am?” had gotten plenty of attention before the video emerged. The vaping and taking pictures and disruptive behavior had already been publicly reported based on what the people around her in the theater were saying.

Crokin concluded: “This is all way too convenient. Whether her date was a part of it or not, this seems like a well-coordinated setup. These types of tactics and traps are used all the time, and I would know.” A well-coordinated setup? It kind of seems like there just happened to be a camera on Boebert being Boebert. If she had sat through the show without vaping and taking photographs and groping, they could have released video showing her in actual high definition through the entire show and it wouldn’t have made a splash. And you’d think a conspiracy theorist like Crokin would be aware of how often we are under surveillance in this day and age.

Boebert herself doesn’t seem to be embracing the conspiracy theory. Though she joked ruefully to TMZ that “I learned to check party affiliation before you go on a date,” she had nothing but positive words about the man in question, calling him “a wonderful man” and a “great man, great friend” although they’ve “peacefully parted.”But Crokin’s “Boebert was set up” theory went viral, with a stream of responses showing how eager some people are to believe the elaborate conspiracy over the idea that a woman with a history of minor arrests who spent the 2022 State of the Union yelling and heckling the president might not be the best-behaved person in a theater, either.

Boebert’s unruliness, her disrespect in political settings, is what her fans like about her. No one should be surprised that it’s not all a political calculation and that she really is that way.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.