Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

RFK Jr. Sued Daily Kos -- And It's Not Going Well For Him

Back in 2021, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. sued Daily Kos to unmask the identity of a community member who posted a critical story about his dalliance with neo-Nazis at a Berlin rally. I updated the story here, here, here, here, and here.

To briefly summarize, Kennedy wanted us to doxx our community member, and we stridently refused. We protect our community at all costs. Shockingly, Kennedy got a trial court judge in New York to agree with him, and a subpoena was issued to Daily Kos to turn over any information we might have on the account. However, we are based in California, not New York, so once I received the subpoena at home, we had a California court not just quash the subpoena, but essentially signal that if New York didn’t do the right thing on appeal, California could very well take care of it.

It’s been a while since I updated, and given a favorable court ruling this month, it’s way past time to catch everyone up.

This has become a critical free speech case, with what’s called the ”Dendrite standard” at stake. In short, the Dendrite International, Inc. v. Doe No. 3 ruling states that anonymous speech is protected unless all of the following apply:

(1) the plaintiff must make good faith efforts to notify the poster and give the poster a reasonable opportunity to respond; (2) the plaintiff must specifically identify the poster's allegedly actionable statements; (3) the complaint must set forth a prima facie cause of action; (4) the plaintiff must support each element of the claim with sufficient evidence; and (5) "the court must balance the defendant's First Amendment right of anonymous free speech against the strength of the prima facie case presented and the necessity for the disclosure of the anonymous defendant's identity."

Put another way, a plaintiff better have a damn good reason to violate an anonymous poster’s free speech rights in order to force a media organization to unmask them.

This test, suggested by Public Citizen and the ACLU in an amicus brief, was originally adopted by a New Jersey court in 2001. Ever since, Public Citizen has avidly sought to enshrine it in additional states. One of the missing states? New York. Public Citizen has assisted our defense team and represented our community member as an opportunity to enshrine the Dendrite protections in New York.

The issues at hand are so important that The New York Times, the E.W.Scripps Company, the First Amendment Coalition, New York Public Radio, and seven other New York media companies joined the appeals effort with their own joint amicus brief. What started as a dispute over a Daily Kos diarist has become a meaningful First Amendment battle, with major repercussions given New York’s role as a major news media and distribution center.

After reportedly spending over $1 million on legal fees, Kennedy somehow discovered the identity of our community member sometime last year and promptly filed a defamation suit in New Hampshire in what seemed a clumsy attempt at forum shopping, or the practice of choosing where to file suit based on the belief you’ll be granted a favorable outcome. The community member lives in Maine, Kennedy lives in California, and Daily Kos doesn't publish specifically in New Hampshire. A perplexed court threw out the case this past February on those obvious jurisdictional grounds.

[He] does not live or work in New Hampshire, he has no meaningful contacts with this state, he did not consult any New Hampshire sources when writing the article, he did not mention New Hampshire in the article or otherwise ‘direct’ the article to this state, and he had no reason to anticipate that the ‘brunt’ of the (alleged) injury to Kennedy’s reputation would be felt in New Hampshire—particularly since Kennedy is not a resident of New Hampshire and his connections to New Hampshire are, at best, attenuated.

Then, last week, the judge threw out the appeal of that decision because Kennedy’s lawyer didn’t file in time—and blamed the delay on bad Wi-Fi.

Freakin’ hilarious! So our intrepid community member, who ultimately unmasked himself, is in the clear! But that doesn’t mean the broader case is over.

Kennedy tried to dismiss the original case, the one awaiting an appellate decision in New York, claiming it was now moot. His legal team had sued to get the community member’s identity, and now that they had it, they argued that there was no reason for the case to continue.

We disagreed, arguing that there were important issues to resolve (i.e., Dendrite), and we also wanted lawyer fees for their unconstitutional assault on our First Amendment rights. (Fun fact: The press is the only profession specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.)

On Thursday, in a unanimous decision, a four-judge New York Supreme Court appellate panel ordered the case to continue, keeping the Dendrite issue alive and also allowing us to proceed in seeking damages based on New York’s anti-SLAPP law, which prohibits “strategic lawsuits against public participation.”

Here’s how one of our lawyers, Adam Bonin, described the court order: “A New York appeals court is unanimously allowing Daily Kos to proceed on claims that RFK Jr. had no right to try to unmask one of our users and that his attempts to do so violated New York's anti-SLAPP rules, which may entitle the site to seek damages against him.”

Kennedy opened up a can of worms and has spent millions fighting this stupid battle. Despite his losses, we aren’t letting him weasel out of this.

We’ve been able to fight this fight on behalf of our valued community because of your generous support.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

MAGA Suckers Are About To Lose Big Money On Truth Social

MAGA Suckers Are About To Lose Big Money On Truth Social

Like everything else related to Donald Trump, his social media platform Truth Social’s parent company, Trump Media & Technology Group, has been embroiled in a nasty stew of incompetence, greed, and legal warfare. And much of that came to a head Monday as the company lost almost 21.5 percent of its inflated valuation after its much-hyped initial public offering, or IPO.

Despite the one-day collapse, the stock is still grossly overpriced, and a close examination of TMTG’s 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows just how much of a disaster it is—and how much further the stock could plunge. Let’s take a walk through the document.

  • Trump holds 57.3 percent of the company, valued at $8.84 billion as I write this. That means his stake is worth $5 billion. But … that’s just Monopoly money. If he tried to sell, the mass flooding of his shares into a market uninterested in hoovering them up would collapse the price. If he tried to sell, his eventual take would be substantial, but we don’t know what his holdings are really worth. At the moment, he’s forbidden from selling his TMTG shares for six months, though the company’s board (which he controls—more details below) could waive that provision. If they did, it would immediately collapse the share price. If they don’t and Trump has to wait, expect the price to fall in fits and starts over the coming months, because the rest of the 8-K had nothing but horrendous news for the company. As a fun aside, Trump lost around $1.2 billion in paper value today.

  • Since Trump owns more than 50 percent, the filing notes that “a company of which more than 50 percent of the voting power for the election of directors is held by an individual, group or other company is a ‘controlled company’ and may elect not to comply with certain corporate governance standards.” The filing helpfully explains what this means: “Accordingly, investors may not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the Nasdaq corporate governance requirements.” Who wants to invest in a company that has fewer stockholder protections, and is owned by Trump? Oh, and seated on that not-independent board? Donald Trump Jr. and Linda McMahon, who ran for Senate in Connecticut twice (and lost).
  • Conservative former Congressman Devin Nunes is paid $750,000 as CEO, despite having zero experience running a tech or media company, and that will go up to $1 million next year. Prior to serving in Congress, he was a farmer. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Gosh, that’s not a lot of money, and there’s no one more qualified at licking Trump’s boots than Nunes. What if he bolts?” Oh ye of little faith, you underestimate Trump’s grifting negotiating prowess! Nunes is also getting a $600,000 “retention bonus”! Keep that number in mind.
  • The company’s chief financial officer Phillip Juhan and chief operating officer Andrew Northwall are getting $337,500 and $365,000, respectively. And you’ll be happy to learn that both of them are also getting $600,000 retention bonuses.
  • So just to be clear, TMTG’s top three officers are making $3.252 million this year. Therefore, we can assume that the company’s revenues are commensurate with such compensation, right?
  • Kash Patel gets $120,000 annually in “consulting” fees, as does Dan Scavino. You might remember Patel as the insurrectionist who Trump attempted to install at the CIA at the last minute. These days, he’s threatening to jail the media if Trump wins in November. Scavino was the longest-tenured member of the Trump administration, ending as Trump’s director of social media, which tells you how effective he was at sucking up to Trump—and how tolerant he was of Trump’s fascism. In fact, former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis testified that when she told Scavino that Trump had to leave office, he told her, “We don’t care [...] The boss is not going to leave under any circumstances. We are just going to stay in power.” So why do you think two of Trump’s top insurrectionist lieutenants are collecting cushy “consulting” fees from the company?
  • Upon the IPO’s closing, the company took out a $50 million loan at eight percent interest, payable in one year. I’m no expert on this, so I could be wrong, but what I always see post-IPO is that a company will sell a certain percentage of shares to fund whatever expansion/operations are needed. Elon Musk did this effectively at Tesla: Every time the stock price spiked, the company would sell extra shares to raise the money the company needed for its next expansion. The only reasons I can see for TMTG to take out a loan is that 1) it doesn’t dilute Trump’s equity stake, keeping him above 50 percent and that magical “we don’t need to follow the rules” level, and 2) they can declare bankruptcy and never pay it back.
  • Trump Media reported losing $58.2 million on just $4.1 million in revenue in 2023. The bulk of that massive loss comes from $39.4 million in interest expenses. In 2022, the company had a $50.5-million profit on revenue of $1.47 million. And no, I don’t know how you claim a $50 million profit with revenues below $2 million. Maybe they’re counting loans as profit? The 8-K report states, “To date, TMTG has relied primarily on bridge financing, in the form of convertible promissory notes, to build the Truth Social platform.” I count 20 loans totaling $41.7 million, which the company is now paying off (again, rather than using proceeds from the IPO to raise money for the company).
  • Remember, TMTG paid its top three executives $3.252 million for their amazing ability to generate … $4.1 million in revenue. Thank God they granted those generous retention bonuses to keep them around!
  • Uh oh, Elon Musk—they’re coming for your schtick: “TMTG has conducted extensive technological due diligence regarding, and has begun testing, a particular, state-of-the-art technology that supports video streaming and provides a ‘home’ for cancelled content creators, and which TMTG aims to acquire and incorporate into its product offerings and/or services as soon as practicable.”
  • This is just delicious: “TMTG’s success depends in part on the popularity of our brand and the reputation and popularity of President Trump. The value of TMTG’s brand may diminish if the popularity of President Trump were to suffer [...] President Trump is involved in numerous lawsuits and other matters that could damage his reputation. Additionally, TMTG’s business plan relies on President Trump bringing his former social media followers to TMTG’s platform. In the event any of these, or other events, cause his followers to lose interest in his messages, the number of users of our platform could decline or not grow as we have assumed.” The company is literally admitting that its entire business revolves around Donald Trump and his “reputation.” Anyone who puts a dime into this dumpster fire deserves to lose all their money.
  • The filing doesn’t sound all that optimistic: “TMTG expects to continue to incur operating losses and negative cash flows from operating activities for the foreseeable future, as it works to expand its user base, attracting more platform partners and advertisers.” So what is the company doing to attract more users and advertisers? “This growth is expected to come from the overall appeal of the Truth Social Platform.” Ahh, the “vibes” approach to company-building. There is nothing wrong with losing money in order to grow. Most growing businesses do that at some point. But they also don’t go public with a measly $4.1 million in revenue. The norm for Wall Street IPOs is $100 million in revenue and significant year-over-year growth. The idea that a company that has one-third of the revenue of Daily Kos is worth nearly $9 billion is the height of absurdity. And most people know this, which is why this is destined to be a penny stock.
  • This is hilarious: “Since its inception, TMTG has focused on developing Truth Social by enhancing features and user interface rather than relying on traditional performance metrics like average revenue per user, ad impressions and pricing, or active user accounts, including monthly and daily active users.” They don’t report those numbers because they are laughable. They add, “TMTG believes that focusing on these KPIs [key performance indicators] might not align with the best interests of TMTG or its shareholders.” Exactly! If people knew just how pathetic their metrics were, the company’s shareholders would be wiped out overnight.

Now remember, the bulk of TMTG’s expenses are those loans, and it didn’t sell any extra shares to pay them off. So to close this recap, let me quote one more line that perfectly encapsulates the inevitable fate of this company:

[M]anagement had substantial doubt that TMTG will have sufficient funds to meet its liabilities as they fall due.

“Truth,” indeed.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Why Taylor Swift Is Now The Right's Most Fearsome Foe

Why Taylor Swift Is Now The Right's Most Fearsome Foe

While I was writing about the travails of online dating for conservatives, one stat stood out: “Looking at the 2022 midterm election exit polls, married women voted 56-42 for Republicans, while unmarried women voted 68-31 for Democrats—that’s a whopping 51-percentage-point difference! (There was a much smaller 13-point swing among men.)”

That’s why Taylor Swift is one of the biggest threats to conservatism today.

You don’t have to listen or even like Taylor Swift to stand in awe of her accomplishments.

  • Two-time Time Magazine “person of the year”
  • Eleven number one songs on Billboard’s Hot 100
  • Only female artist to replace herself at number one on the Hot 100 … twice
  • Forty-nine top 10 hits on the Hot 100
  • Two-hundred-thirty-two songs total on the Hot 100 (how?)
  • With her album “Midnights,” she held all top 10 spots on the Hot 100 in a single week (a first)
  • Only female artist with three number one albums on the Billboard 200 in a calendar year … twice
  • Thirteen number one albums on the Billboard 200, a record by a female artist
  • Sixty-six total weeks at number one on the Billboard 200, third overall behind the Beatles (132 weeks) and Elvis (67 weeks). Swift is only 34 years old. She’s going to eventually hold this record
  • Twelve Grammy wins
  • Her six Grammy nominations for “album of the year” tie her with Barbra Streisand for most ever for a female artist
  • Her seven Grammy nominations for “song of the year” are the most ever for any artist
  • Net worth: $1.1 billion (all of it self-made)
  • First female artist to reach 100 million monthly listeners on Spotify
  • Most streamed female artist on Apple Music
  • Fifty-six million followers on YouTube
  • Two-hundred-seventy-nine million followers on Instagram

And all that before we even get to her current Eras Tour, where her earnings are expected to be around $4.1 billion, with an economic impact of another $5.7 billion to the U.S. economy. Seriously, it goes on and on. Swift is easily the most successful female recording artist in history, and it’s not even close.

And she’s not just political, but she’s a liberal—and increasingly partisan one at that.

There are several major factors that affect whether someone is a Democrat or Republican, according to 2020 exit polls.

  • Education:The more educated a voter is, the more liberal a voter is. College graduates chose President Joe Biden 55-43, while those without college opted for Donald Trump 50-48.
  • Race: White people voted for Trump 58-41. Black voters chose Biden 87-12, while more than 60% of both Latinos and Asians opted for Biden.
  • Education and race:Tie those two together and the differences become more stark. Among white voters with college degrees, Biden won 51-48, while Trump won 67-32 among white voters without college degrees.
  • Gender:Trump won men 53-45, while Biden won women 57-42.
  • Age:Biden won voters ages 18-44 56-42, while Trump won everyone older than that 51-48.

It’s clear why Republicans attack higher education and why they seek to disenfranchise younger voters and voters of color. It explains much of their virulent misogyny. Throw in the marriage numbers from the top of the story, and the ideal Republican voter is a white, married male with no college education. And their biggest nemesis? A single, college-educated young woman.

And who does Swift speak to? Young, single women. And what does she preach? Personal empowerment and political participation.

In her song “Only the Young,” she preaches the gospel of political activism.

So every day now You brace for the sound You've only heard on TV You go to class, scared Wondering where the best hiding spot would be And the big bad man and his big bad clan Their hands are stained with red Oh, how quickly, they forgetThey aren't gonna help us Too busy helping themselves They aren't gonna change this We gotta do it ourselves They think that it's over But it's just begun

She has been cutting on the double standard she faces as a woman. This is from her song “The Man”:

I would be complex, I would be cool They'd say I played the field before I found someone to commit to And that would be okay for me to do Every conquest I had made would make me more of a boss to youI'd be a fearless leader I'd be an alpha type When everyone believes ya What's that like?

I'm so sick of running as fast as I can Wondering if I'd get there quicker if I was a man And I'm so sick of them coming at me again 'Cause if I was a man, then I'd be the man I'd be the man I'd be the man

They'd say I hustled, put in the work They wouldn't shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve What I was wearing, if I was rude Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves

And they would toast to me, oh, let the players play I'd be just like Leo in Saint-Tropez

And … how about this diss on marriage, from her song “Midnight Rain”?

I was midnight rain He wanted it comfortable I wanted that pain He wanted a bride I was making my own name Chasing that fame He stayed the same All of me changed Like midnight

Indeed, her message of female empowerment and strong personal identity is exactly what Republicans fear the most. What happens if more women stand strong, get educated, carve out their own careers, and either put off marriage or skip it entirely? And given the historically low turnout rates among young voters, what if she gets her legions of fans to register and vote?

In one of her first forays into political activism, she went after Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn in 2018. She has publicly called Donald Trump an autocrat and advocated for his defeat in 2020. And a single Instagram post in September drove tens of thousands of her fans to a voter registration website. And on Election Day 2022, she publicly encouraged her fans to vote. It really does feel like she’s just getting started, and conservatives are terrified.

Following her second Time “person of the year” cover, the right erupted in hysterical outrage. Conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer ranted about Swift being in cahoots with liberal donor George Soros, claiming her efforts to register young voters were meant to “interfere” in the 2024 elections. Jack Posobiec of PizzaGate fame claimed that the “Taylor Swift girlboss psyop” had been “fully activated” for her “upcoming 2024 voter operation for Democrats on abortion rights.”

In another post following the Republican losses this November, he lamented: “Republicans still haven't internalized that the Left promotes abortion as a pro-feminism issue. They aren't voting to kill babies, they're voting bc of feminist movies like Barbie and pop stars like Taylor Swift influencing an army of voters.” In a follow-up tweet, he screamed in all-caps, “BREAKING: THE CHILDLESS, UNMARRIED ABORTION ARMY MOBILIZED BY BARBIE, TAYLOR SWIFT, AND TIKTOK THAT IS CRUSHING REPUBLICANS AT THE BALLOT BOX.”

Childless. Unmarried. You get the point. Conservative radio host Charlie Kirk had a similar message: “Taylor Swift is going to come out in the presidential election and she is going to mobilize her fans. … And we're going to be like, 'Oh wow, where did all these young, female voters come from?’”

The Federalist, a conservative rag, published a story in September titled “Taylor Swift’s Popularity Is A Sign Of Societal Decline.” The problem with her according to this article? You’ll love this:

I still stand by the fact it’s a mistake to read too much in the way of politics or feminism into Swift’s appeal, but given her popularity in the face of this lyrical obsession, it’s a chicken-or-egg-first proposition about whether the cultural avatar of millennial females is famous for being near constantly romantically aggrieved even as TikTok is full of videos of women insisting, “No really, it’s great being 29 and unmarried and childless, I don’t want that at all, I get to sleep in on weekends and learn to make shakshuka, this is the most fulfilling life I can conceive of, I’M HAPPY WHY WON’T ANYONE BELIEVE ME?!”

She’s encouraging women not to get married.

The link inside that blockquote is to a Matt Walsh tweet where he proclaims that a woman posting about how happy she is being single was a problem: “Her life doesn’t revolve around her family and kids so instead it revolves around TV shows and pop stars. Worst of all she’s too stupid to realize how depressing this is.” That is some breathtaking man-splainin’ arrogance, telling a woman how she should live her life, lest it seem to men like him to be “depressing.” Another conservative on Twitter cried, “It’s shameful and sad that a hyper-promiscuous, childless woman (Taylor Swift), aging and alone with a cat, has become the heroine of a feminist age.”

In case it’s not clear, “promiscuous” is another word for “unmarried” since these neanderthals have decreed that sex is bad outside the confines of that traditional institution. It really does bring home her lyrics in “The Man”: how if she were male, she’d “be just like Leo[nardo DeCaprio] in Saint-Tropez,” cavorting with women half his age and younger.

In any case, the Swifties—Swift’s hardcore fan base—are very aware of the right-wing backlash and are extremely defensive of her. The more right-wingers go after her, the more likely her fans are to heed her calls for voter registration and participation. The GOP’s war on democracy and personal liberties (and in particular, abortion and contraception) provides ample motivation to further motivate them.

It’s easy to imagine Swift turning up her activism as we approach next year’s election. Looking at her upcoming tour schedule, she is touring most of the year. But check this out: She has a gap in her tour schedule between August 20 and October 18. The Democratic National Convention will run August 19-22. Would be something to have her play and speak on the final day of the convention.

Then, when she returns to touring in October, her dates on the 18th, 19th, and 20th will be in Florida, where Dems will be fighting to pick up a Senate seat (and who knows, maybe Florida will decide to cooperate next year and be competitive).

Then she’ll be off between November 4-13. Election Day will be November 5.

There’s plenty of time for her to amp up her political activism, registering millions of otherwise inactive voters and ensuring they turn out and vote. And Republicans, by hysterically attacking Swift’s very existence, could very well motivate her to do so. Or maybe she doesn’t need that motivation. Trump and his party are scary enough on their own.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Third party can't win

Why There's No Place for 'No Labels' In 2024

Third parties are just not a thing in American presidential politics. The first-past-the-post nature of our system means that without supplanting one of the major parties, the best-case scenario for any third-party candidate is to play the spoiler.

So why engage in such a futile endeavor? One obvious reason is to use the high-profile nature of the campaign to bring attention to one’s pet issues. This is why Ralph Nader or Cornel West might throw their hat in the ring: Their need to promote themselves and their causes trumps any negative consequences of their quixotic campaigns. In the case of Nader, he played spoiler and we got George W. Bush and an endless war. We could have had a climate champion instead in Al Gore.

But let’s be clear: No Labels is not that. The fledgling “political party” doesn't have a message to sell. Their name literally says, “We stand for nothing.” Theirs is a more cynical pursuit: a bunch of washed-up, loser politicians grifting conservative billionaires out of millions, using ridiculous and easily refuted arguments to line their pockets and pretend to retain some semblance of relevance.

This was all clear as I faced off with No Labels Co-chair Pat McCrory, the transphobic former governor of North Carolina, this past weekend on “Meet the Press.”

The core of the argument is encapsulated in this tweet:

Here’s the transcript of the broader exchange:

CHUCK TODD: Welcome back. So let's look at a Biden general election campaign and this idea of a third party. Pat, you are a big part of No Labels. You guys are recruiting candidates. What is this ticket going to look like, and is this a 100% commitment that there is going to be a ticket from No Labels?PAT McCRORY: Well, Nikki Haley in the debate confirmed that 65% of the people are disgusted with both Trump and Biden being our only choices. They're asking, "Isn't America better than this? Can't we have a better choice?" And the momentum, the movement of No Labels is on fire right now. People are looking for another potential candidate --
CHUCK TODD: I get that people don't want --
PAT McCRORY: And I know -- wait a minute. There are a lot of people --
MARKOS MOULITSAS: No, there are not.
PAT McCRORY: There are a lot of people --
MARKOS MOULITSAS: No, there are not.
PAT McCRORY: There are a lot of people – I'm telling you right now. A lot of people who predicted Trump would never be president are the same people who are saying, "There's no way in hell a third party can win." I'm telling you. We've never had 65% --
CHUCK TODD: Go, Markos.
PAT McCRORY: – of the people disgusted --
PAT McCRORY: – with both parties.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: – is literally a movement that says, "We stand for nothing." Imagine going to Walmart --
PAT McCRORY: That is so –
MARKOS MOULITSAS: – or Target and seeing no labels on a product.
PAT McCRORY: You haven't read obviously the –
MARKOS MOULITSAS: The products are the problem.
PAT McCRORY: – 30-issue statement --
PAT McCRORY: – of No Labels.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: The issue statement ignores abortion. And it has such --
PAT McCRORY: You missed the whole --
MARKOS MOULITSAS: – barn-burning issues such as medical --
PAT McCRORY: You never read it.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: – tort reform. That'll light up the audience.
PAT McCRORY: You have not read it.
PAT McCRORY: He hasn’t read it.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: – reality is it's finance-industry heavy. Oh, I read it. No, I actually did read it. I read it last night.
DANIELLE PLETKA: That's why he couldn't sleep.
PAT McCRORY: Well, Nikki Haley --
PAT McCRORY: – basically repeated the No Labels agenda --
MARKOS MOULITSAS: So the problem isn't they don't like Biden or Trump. It's that you are creating this idea that there's a mythical unicorn creature that will agree with these people who want something else. That doesn't exist. When [Monmouth] polled Manchin and Huntsman, it's like what? 12% --

Let’s run down the arguments.

There’s broad “disgust” with both Trump and Biden.

Yes, neither is particularly popular with the broader electorate in our deeply polarized society, but both are actually popular within their own parties.

Trump is at 34 percent -58 percent among independents, while Biden is at 32 percent --60 percent. Is there “disgust” there? Maybe. But it’s not a unanimous opinion. Left-leaning independents might pine for Bernie Sanders while center-right, never-Trump independents might pine for Mitt Romney. Far-right nuts might want … Ted Nugent? This is an important point, which we’ll return to in a bit.

A bit later in the show, I was asked why there wasn’t a real Democratic primary. “Biden's actually very popular among Democrats. In Civiqs polling—Civiqs with a ‘q’—Biden is sitting around 80% with Democrats,” I said, underplaying Biden’s actual support of 83%. “There's no space. You think there's no space for an anti-Trump? There's really no space for an anti-Biden.”

If you watch the segment, the whole panel—including supposed Democrat Stephanie Murphy, a former congresswoman from Florida—scoffed. They thought it was so ludicrous that anyone would have a favorable opinion of Biden despite the overwhelming evidence in the polling. Do some people wish their favorite Democrat were the nominee instead of Biden? Of course! But that’s a far cry from “disgust.” And yes, all three had stories about how their social circles didn’t like Biden, but the D.C.-groupthink was strong.

And if you think I’m biasing Biden’s numbers by pointing to our very own Civiqs polling, Gallup just asked respondents whether they approved of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president. Among Democrats a whopping 87 percent approved, even higher than in Civiqs polling. This is not controversial. The data is clear.

“There are a lot of people—I'm telling you right now,” McCrory said. “A lot of people who predicted Trump would never be president are the same people who are saying, ‘There's no way in hell a third party can win.’ I'm telling you. We've never had 65% of the people disgusted with both parties.”

Okay, that’s different than Biden versus Trump. That’s talking about the parties. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Among Democrats, 81 percent approve of the Democratic Party, which is shocking given the real problems with our party. The party brand is shit among independents at 24-65, but we know that. It’s why we lose elections in places that should naturally be Democratic, like poor rural counties.

Overall, the Democratic Party approval rating is 38-55. Horrible! But I’d rather have those numbers than the Republican favorability rating among all Americans: 27-64. Ouch. It is only 66-20 approval among Republicans, probably because Trump does such a good job of trashing every other Republican. Among independents it’s 17-70. Brutal.

Still, trying to extrapolate the idea that “voters will support my third party” from those numbers is absurd. The reason the Republican Party favorables among Republicans are so low is because some are angered by the MAGA takeover of the party while others think the party isn’t MAGA enough. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party’s numbers among Democrats are high because we are unified to an unprecedented level—but there are still those who wish we were more like Sanders, and a smaller but still real crowd who wishes we were more “centrist.”

There are a million opinions in politics and you can’t shoehorn them all into two parties. But here’s the thing: You can’t shoehorn them into three parties, either—not without a major realignment.

McCrory then pushes back against my rational notion that a party that is called “No Labels,” which literally means, “we stand for nothing,” actually stands for nothing. He pushes their 30-point platform with such great ideas as number one: “America can’t solve its biggest problems and deliver the results hardworking taxpayers want, need, and deserve unless Democrats and Republicans start working together side by side on bipartisan solutions.” How is a third party going to get the two other parties to work together? And seriously, Democrats have a pathological desire to engage in bipartisanship. The problem there is one-sided. It is Republicans who refuse to engage. (And honestly, I don’t blame them! Parties are supposed to disagree! Let the voters decide which vision to follow.)

Or how about, “National service could help heal America’s political divide.” And then there’s, “It’s in America’s interest to work with our allies to advance our mutual interests.”

I mean, it’s pablum! And if you’re looking for substance on actual issues, forget it. Abortion?* “America must strike a balance between protecting women’s rights to control their own reproductive health and our society’s responsibility to protect human life.” That’s how they manage to talk about abortion without taking an actual position on it. The “balanced” position was Roe v. Wade. If they really wanted to “strike a balance,” all they’d have to say is, “Return to the Roe v. Wade standard.” But they don’t.

Indeed, “No Labels” is an apt name as they don’t actually create an ideological framework that sets them apart from the two main parties. Did you know that they’re also against crime (idea eight) and want our students to be number one (idea thirteen)? Everyone says that, and everyone (mostly) means it! The question is how we get there. And if you think their detailed explanation of their ideas provides more substance, think again. In idea 13, their proposal is to spend more time “reaching for excellence,” and they think, “Our next president should send a signal to us and the world that America is embarking on a national goal to make our students number one in math and reading within a decade.” Well that’s easy! Just send a signal!

Ultimately there’s one big point when talking about third parties, and here it is:

MARKOS MOULITSAS: So the problem isn't they don't like Biden or Trump. It's that you are creating this idea that there's a mythical unicorn creature that will agree with these people who want something else. That doesn't exist. When [Monmouth] polled Manchin and Huntsman, it's like what? 12% --

There are myriad reasons for rejecting the two major parties and their two likely nominees. There isn’t a gap in the ideological spectrum just waiting to be filled by someone who proudly proclaims his strong support for medical tort reform (idea five). Their attempts to sidestep difficult issues like abortion, gun control, and democracy simply mean that anyone who cares about those issues will stick with the major parties since Republicans and Democrats aren’t shy about where they stand on those critical issues.

No Labels likes to quote polls that show a generic third-party candidate as competitive in a presidential matchup against Biden and Trump. Those polls are useless for two reasons: 1) an unnamed candidate who people can imagine as their ideal will always poll better against an actual human with actual positions on things people care about, and 2) third parties always poll better than they perform in actual elections.

On the first point, we have recent proof thanks to a recent Monmouth University poll.

First they asked about a Biden-Trump matchup:

  • Biden: 47
  • Trump: 40

Then they added a generic third-party candidate:

  • Biden: 37
  • Generic: 30
  • Trump: 28

Finally, they gave us names for the third party—a “fusion” ticket featuring Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican former Gov. Jon Huntsman:

  • Biden: 40
  • Trump: 34
  • Manchin: 16

A generic candidate takes 10 points from Biden and 12 points from Trump. An actual name takes 7 points from Biden and 6 points from Trump.

But here’s where the poll gets extra interesting: Monmouth then added a question about voting for a spoiler candidate.

Asked if a third-party vote would spoil the election and lead to a Biden victory:

  • Biden: 39
  • Trump: 37
  • Manchin: 20

In other words, if people think their third-party vote helps Biden, they’re more likely to vote third party and Trump notches his best three-way numbers. But … if told their vote for a third party would benefit Trump, check it out:

  • Biden: 43
  • Trump: 33
  • Manchin: 20

People don’t want Trump to win, and this gives us Biden’s most comfortable winning margin.

And of course, Manchin wouldn’t come anywhere near 20 percent. Meet the Press moderator Todd directly pointed this out to McCrory using my “unicorn” frame:

CHUCK TODD: Pat, can you give us some names? Because, you know, Manchin and Huntsman, that's not going to get you your unicorn. What other candidates --
PAT McCRORY: I'm just saying, I don't think there's going to be a shortage --
CHUCK TODD: Is Will Hurd one of your candidates?
PAT McCRORY: I don't think there'll be a shortage of candidates --
CHUCK TODD: Why can't you guys name some names?

This was a huge messaging victory. The biggest political show on television just flipped the No Labels discussion frame from “people want a third party candidate” to, “Oh yeah? So who is your unicorn?” As McCrory showed, they have no answer for that because the second anyone floats a name, any potential support will quickly evaporate under the inevitable scrutiny and attacks from multiple sides.

That’s not a bad thing! If someone claims that they can fill a massive, unsatisfied percentage of the electorate, then they’ll have to prove it. And there isn’t a single person who can pull that off. It certainly won’t be former Rep. Will Hurd. And if it is? Well, having someone run third party who explicitly calls himself a Republican is fine with me. Let the right split their vote as many ways as possible.

If Republican billionaires like Justice Clarence Thomas’ sugar daddy Harlan Crow want to shower $70 million on No Labels to run a Republican spoiler candidate, more power to them.

(*Fact checking myself: I was wrong in saying that their platform doesn’t mention abortion. In my prep, I jotted down that they “don’t take a position” because they don’t. It just came out wrong in the moment.)

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Trump Smears Smith, Lies About Ukraine And Boasts Of Raising Gas Prices

Trump Smears Smith, Lies About Ukraine And Boasts Of Raising Gas Prices

Twice-indicted, twice-impeached Donald Trump spoke yesterday to North Carolina and Georgia Republicans.

His speeches have always been gibberish, and these have been no different.

Here he tries to play lawyer. Maybe there’s a reason he keeps losing lawyers as he law-splains’ to them what is going on.

Hillary Clinton’s emails!

Shockingly, the crowd doesn’t chant “lock her up!” Maybe they’re realizing that it’s their guy getting locked up.

Anyway, the real criminal here is Mike Pence. And President Joe Biden. And he literally accuses Biden of doing exactly what Trump’s indictment says he did.

Now he’s lying about Ukraine using up “all” of our ammunition, and then accuses Biden of getting “large amounts of money from Ukraine.” Trump will never get over Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskyy refusing to go along with his scheme to frame Hunter Biden in a non-existent investigation.

Also, he would have a peace deal in 24 hours.

Ha ha ha! Fox News cuts in mid-speech to fact check Trump’s claims of election interference. They're feeling the sting of their Dominion Voting Systems legal settlement.

You can sense Fox News dwindling viewers changing channels to one of those non-woke networks like Newsmax or One America News. I do wonder when the libel lawsuits will eventually destroy those two.

There was also a North Carolina speech, where the fun continued.

Here he says that we should’ve gone to war against Venezuela to “take their oil,” and then brags about getting Russia and Saudi Arabia to raise gas prices.

He literally brags about raising oil prices to “save the oil companies”!

Let’s pause a moment to appreciate that the Republican Party, crying about high gas prices during the midterm, worship their cult hero who brags about demanding higher gas prices.

Then he complaints Biden lowered gas prices by releasing strategic oil reserves before the election.

Uh, thanks for the campaign ad material, Donnie boy!

Now he wants to kill American tourist industry.

Anyone have a clue about what this 15 percent would apply to? We already make a fortune from tourists. Pre-COVID, foreign visitors spent $233.5 billion in the U.S., or $640 million every single day. I suspect we’re close or back to those pre-pandemic levels.

So anyway, yes, Trump is back. But I certainly like it a lot better now that he’s under double-indictment. Regardless, beating him won’t be easy, so we need the reminder that he is an existential threat to this country we love so much. And while it’s fun to watch Republicans beat up on each other, and there’ll be plenty of that in the coming months, we’ll need to be ready to gear up soon to challenge this grave threat.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Pramila Jayapal

As Right Wing Rages, It's Becoming Clear Who Won Debt Battle

As the full text of the debt limit deal is released, reactions are streaming in.

Let’s start with the Democrats, who had been pretty quiet as the early details leaked. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who chairs the House Progressive Caucus, told CNN that she is waiting on the legislative text to make a final voting decision: “That’s always, you know, a problem, if you can’t see the exact legislative text. And we’re all trying to wade through spin right now.” That said, she mocked Republicans for not getting what they claimed to want: a reduction in the deficit. Hard to do that when they increased Pentagon spending and removed IRS funding designed to collect unpaid tax revenue.

With the legislative text out, House Democratic leaders sounded optimistic late in the day about Progressive Caucus support.

That is the standard reaction after expecting the worst (relief, mixed with surprise, like new food-stamp access for the homeless and veterans): a huge progressive win. I can’t believe that food-stamp access wasn’t already a thing.

Aside from question marks about the Progressive Caucus membership, the bulk of the party remained supportive. Insofar as I’m seeing any reaction, it’s simply parroting the White House’s talking points. If anything, any celebrations are muted, lest they add fuel to conservative efforts to scuttle the deal.

But as the Semafor headline noted, “The Democrats (mostly) won the debt ceiling fight.” Or as progressive journalist Josh Marshall put it, Republicans walked into a Denny’s to hold it at gunpoint, demanded money, and walked out with nothing more than breakfast. It’s okay to be disappointed at some of the concessions while also celebrating Biden’s major negotiating victory in a government in which Republicans, with the House, unfortunately do have a say.

Many conservatives remain furious.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) continues his tirade against the deal, tweeting at one point that “it’s worse than I thought every minute that goes by.”

And Roy understands the leverage Republicans are losing in the regular budget appropriations process, tweeting that “If you want the border to be secure - no member of the @HouseGOP can vote for this #debtceiling ‘deal’ because it will remove all leverage we have to force action on the border.”

In further conservative ire, Roy tweeted that the deal threw out the $131 billion House Republicans cut in their debt limit show bill, designed to get spending back to pre-COVID levels, and replaced them with “what appears to be effectively flat spending [...] at the bloated 2023 Omnibus spending level, jammed through in a rush in December…”

In response, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee tweeted, “With Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?”

Of particular interest is former Trump budget director Russ Vought, who is currently rallying opposition to the deal:

While we wait on text, let's take the numbers as the GOP is claiming w/o knowing the gimmicks (Dems are claiming higher spending). Deal provides $1.59 trillion in FY24 v. $1.602 in FY23. You gave Biden $4 trillion for $12 billion in cuts largely coming from unspent COVID$?

Or take "It cuts nondefense spending to 2022!" No it doesn't. FY22 nondefense spending was $689 billion. GOP numbers claim FY24 will be $704 billion. You don't get a dog biscuit for that.

Reviewing the text now. Confirms that there only 2 years of actual caps and then 4 years of meaningless language that binds only Congress & easily waived.

The "administrative PAYGO" is totally worthless. It's not just that it can be gamed with plans for fake offsets in exchange for real spending. Its that the OMB Director has complete waiver authority in Section 265 if "necessary for program delivery"

So I’m not a budget expert, but what that tells me is that whatever budgetary restrictions exist in the deal can easily be waived.

Furthermore, responding to a seemingly sensible conservative noting that McCarthy’s leverage was limited given that Democrats control the White House and the Senate, Vought furiously responded, “What exactly did [McCarthy] deliver on? You can't build on it because he gave every leverage point away for the remainder of Biden's tenure. The bill is worse than a clean debt limit.”

Savor that.

The bill is worse than a clean debt limit.

I actually don’t know if that’s true, to be sure. But I desperately hope it is.

Markos (Kos) Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.