Choose Your Fighter!

An analysis by Amy Walker at the Cook Political Report is a sample of an emerging Beltway narrative for the upcoming midterms: centrism is out in both parties. Here’s an excerpt:

This strategy for the 2018 midterms was summarized best by then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s slogan of “Just win, baby.” Primaries were for picking the candidates who could win these swing CDs, not for intra-party ideological warfare. In 2020, Democrats rallied behind the more centrist Biden simply because they believed he provided Democrats the best chance to beat Trump that fall.

But, with Trump no longer in the White House and Biden’s approval ratings underwater, the electability message is falling flat in Democratic primaries. In 2018, Democratic candidates prevailed in GOP-leaning CDs by leaning into a message of bipartisanship. Today, however, a restive Democratic base, discouraged by a lack of action on many of their key issues (like climate and student loan debt), and frustrated by GOP attacks on issues like abortion and election integrity, want fighters, not unifiers as their candidates.

Walker’s piece addresses Conor Lamb’s struggles against John Fetterman. So did an even more Lamb-focused piece that reached a similar conclusion (centrists are so over!) by Trip Gabriel in yesterday’s Times. There’s even speculation that Joe Manchin discredited centrism within the party.

I don’t know, but it seems to me this narrative downplays a significant factor, i.e., that Republicans have gone absolutely bug-fuck crazy and turned on democracy itself. So yeah, we want fighters, but I don’t think it’s necessarily an ideological thing. It’s more a question of style. What do you think?

Open thread!

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Religious Zealots (Open Thread)

In one of the morning threads, Kay brought up a great point: anti-choice religious zealots spend so much time with fellow fundamentalist loons that they don’t know how they sound to normal people. This could play to our advantage. She shared an example from an NPR piece about how draconian anti-abortion laws inhibit miscarriage care:

“It is a pro-life position to allow physicians to make those life-and-death decisions,” [TX Right to Life legislative director John] Seago said. “And that may mean in certain circumstances protecting the mother in this situation and the child passing away.”

The sheer effrontery and unmitigated fucking gall of that bible college clown thinking it’s up to him and his fellow fanatics to “allow” doctors to save their patients’ lives. Miscarriages are common — there are about a million a year in the U.S., which translates into many millions of women who have that personal experience. So it’s worth pointing out that anti-abortion kooks believe they have a say in miscarriage medical treatment.

Also, there’s been another SCOTUS leak, this time to Politico:

Justice Samuel Alito’s sweeping and blunt draft majority opinion from February overturning Roe remains the court’s only circulated draft in the pending Mississippi abortion case, POLITICO has learned, and none of the conservative justices who initially sided with Alito have to date switched their votes. No dissenting draft opinions have circulated from any justice, including the three liberals.

Unprecedented!

Also from Politico:

The latest: Joe Manchin opposes Democrats’ abortion rights bill the Senate is voting on Wednesday, ensuring that the legislation will not even receive a simple majority.

The West Virginia Democrat, who generally supports abortion restrictions, said he would back a “clean” bill codifying Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision enshrining abortion rights. But he says the bill before him goes too far, deeming it a “shame” that the party didn’t put something on the floor that could get his vote.

“They’re trying to make people believe that this is the same thing as codifying Roe v. Wade. And I want you to know, it’s not. This is not the same. It expands abortion,” Manchin said in an interview Wednesday.

I so look forward to the day when PawPaw Blacklung is no longer the reed upon which the entire party’s fortunes hang. It’s possible he’s not the most duplicitous, corrupt and self-regarding bag of shit who moors his yacht in the Potomac basin but only because the place is probably crawling with Republicans.

Open.

 

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‘Tell us, sir…’

“How did the back elastic of your underpants end up under your chin?”

Hello, 9-1-1 operator?

If you think it’s irritating to hear the media yap about how catastrophic the midterms will be for Dems all the time, imagine living in Florida and also being told constantly that your horrifying hog-goblin governor will definitely be reelected this year and is also definitely the 2024 GOP nominee if Donald Trump takes a dirt nap or otherwise declines to run.

Friends, it’s a cycle of suck from which there’s no escape except in liquor, weed, TV and birdwatching.

That’s probably why Nikki Fried, current ag commish and Democratic candidate for governor, is growing on me, despite earlier misgivings. She just fucking ethers people who come at her on Twitter, and she’s salty in person too. After the SCOTUS radical clerics’ fatwa reveal last week, she didn’t focus-group shit but instead staged a pro-choice rally. She doesn’t really bother yammering about how “divisive” DeSantis is but rather explains, “Ron’s an asshole.” Cut, jib, like, etc.

I don’t think Fried will be the nominee. Current House member, former one-term Republican governor, and 2014 Dem nominee retread Charlie Crist is racking up the establishment endorsements, so he’ll probably win the nomination. Again.

But primaries are for voting your heart, and Fried’s smash-mouth style has won mine.

Open thread!

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Pre-Sunrise Morning Thread

I read this opinion on “losers’ logic” at TPM and immediately had to share it because I see similar reasoning all the fucking time all over the Dem-0-sphere for why this or that tactic won’t work, and too much of that can be self-defeating and demoralizing as hell:

I’m seeing a lot of commentators saying the bill that Democrats propose to codify Roe will rapidly be rejected by this Supreme Court. If it’s not accompanied by Court expansion there’s no point. While I appreciate that these remarks are proffered in good faith and quite possibly accurate as predictions, it’s still losers’ logic.

There are some technical questions about whether a more narrowly tailored or differently drafted law could be harder to strike down. There are other reforms besides expanding the Court that would end the corrupt majority’s stranglehold on public life. Some of them are quite possibly better. But these are tactical details for another conversation. The central issue is that you cannot self-deter. You can never be in a position where you say, “We’d do this thing but then the other side might do that other thing. So we’ll simply do nothing.”

It’s as simple as not negotiating against yourself. It goes beyond the specifics of any particular political question. Inaction drives demoralization; impotence is enervating for any political movement or party. You might as well make sad trombone your personal motto or party theme song.

Ten thousand amens to that. Yeah, it’s important to choose your battles wisely, but you also don’t want be a dithering General McClellan in a time that’s crying out for a decisive General Grant.

Open thread.

PS: Before someone shows up to Well Ackshully me, I am fully aware that McClellan was replaced with Burnside.

PPS: I find the prospect of defeat through inaction and indecision so terrifying because I witnessed it firsthand here in Florida. We had a state party that won within my memory. We had a larger-than-life Dem governor who gleefully curb-stomped Republican challengers (including Jeb!).

But the party lost its way after his death and fell into a pattern of self-defeating inaction and indecisiveness. Couldn’t quite figure out what it stood for. We haven’t won the governorship in this century. And look at the state now — politically, we’re basically Mississippi with a longer coastline

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More protests, more leaks

The double standard Beltway media outlets apply to liberals and conservatives is so obvious and pervasive it’s not worth mentioning most of the time. This isn’t most of the time. DougJ’s parody gets to the heart of it.

Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass if Weepy von Frostmug’s own neighbor organizing vigils near his home makes him uncomfortable. Maybe in the Before Times, that would have seemed like crossing a line. But after a then-sitting president’s face-saving lies inspired armed yahoos to loiter around election officials’ homes? After Crybaby McSlamshot signed onto an opinion that will overturn women’s reproductive rights and obliterate established notions of privacy for every citizen of this country? Nope.

If the disparate media treatment makes the current peaceful protests redound to Sobby McKegstand’s benefit in terms of public sympathy, that sucks. But liberals can’t be expected to cede their right to peaceably assemble just because the Beltway coverage blows goats.

That’s not the only application of the double-standard that popped up this weekend on this story. The (not) unprecedented leak of the Alito draft caused such turmoil that DC security erected high fences around the SCOTUS building, presumably so the Radical Cleric Five can issue their fatwas from a Green Zone-like safe space. Another leak that occurred on Sunday didn’t get nearly so much attention. WaPo:

The leaked draft opinion is dated in February and is almost surely obsolete now, as justices have had time to offer dissents and revisions. But as of last week, the majority of five justices to strike Roe remains intact, according to three conservatives close to the court who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

I get that the leak of a draft opinion is sexier, but the three anonymous conservatives quoted above also revealed sensitive information about ongoing deliberations. Not only did no one rush to publicly condemn that, the story in which the latest leak appears doesn’t get around to mentioning it for more than a dozen paragraphs, and the bombshell is not alluded to in the headline or lede. Fellow citizens, WTF?

Open thread.

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Steve Schmidt vs Meghan McCain in epic Twitter wig-snatch

For about 20 hours and counting, Steve Schmidt has been roasting the bejeebus out of Meghan McCain on Twitter in multi-threaded tweets powered by an incandescent fury that makes the sun look like a 5 watt bulb. Why?

From the context, I gather John McCain’s DaughterTM blamed Schmidt for the Palin pick and heaped other abuse on him in her whiny flop of a book. (I haven’t read her book – no one has! – but we can safely assume it’s whiny.)

Well, Schmidt is not having it anymore. He beholds his field and finds it bereft of fucks.

It doesn’t speak well of my character, but I am so here for this kind of petty shit. In addition to uncut personal rancor so pure that injecting it directly into your veins is dangerous, Schmidt reveals more about the Republican Party-Russia connection, which he says originated with McCain 2008, not Trump 2016.

In a thread that starts here, Schmidt talks about McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, whom Schmidt blames for the Palin fiasco since he says Davis was in charge of vetting her, and Davis’s corrupt ties to Russia. Some excerpts:

@MeghanMcCain this is the story of the man you call Uncle Rick and it explains how we met

Your Father tolerated his campaign chairman being in business and working for Putin through his association with Yanukovych.

Yanukovych, as you probably have no idea, was Putin’s puppet in Ukraine. The story of American corruption in Ukraine starts here. It starts in John McCain’s operation, not Trumps.

Schmidt informs MM that her dad spent his 70th birthday aboard Oleg Deripaska’s yacht and that it was Davis’s grotesque Russia connections that caused McCain’s campaign to implode in the summer of 2008.

Schmidt claims he was brought on as a volunteer to reset the flailing campaign for the nomination, which he did, with no gratitude from Meghan McCain, whom he calls “the singularly most rotten person I have ever met.”

He also calls out The McCain Institute for having “Putin and Yanukovych alumni on the Board,” saying it’s “gross” in “an era that requires the exposure of corruption and hypocrisy not its accommodation.”

Do you have any idea how disappointed the brave people in Ukraine would be learning that one of Victor Yanukovych right hands is on the Board of the McCain Institute. Let’s ask. @visegrad24 @KyivIndependent @olex_scherba

was outrageous then and it is outrageous now. Here is the serious part. The person I’m talking about, is the one who was in charge of VETTING the VP candidate. True. Putin’s guy, the one who was Victor Yanukovich’s henchman was in charge of ALL of the DUE DILIGENCE around Palin. I wasn’t.

This was reported at the time and is detailed in Game Change. I was focused on dealing with a different catastrophe. Get back to me @MeghanMcCain if you want to hear more.

In another thread, Schmidt just says fuck it, opens a tea shop:

I was the first adult that @MeghanMcCain ever encountered that she heard the word NO from. I told her she was unimportant and that the Presidential election wasn’t about her. I left her on the tarmac when she didn’t make the plane because as I explained to her, the 5000 people

who were waiting to see her father speak and took the time to do it deserved to have him show up on time. That was the way John McCain saw it. He was appalled by @MeghanMcCain conduct on the campaign. Appalled and embarrassed. The tantrums were beyond anything I have

ever witnessed from any other human being. They were epic meltdowns that would test the range of Meryl Streep, Kate Winslett, Jodi Foster and Anne Hathaway on their best days. Raging, screaming, crying, at the staff, at the makeup people at Secret Service. Without any doubt

it was the most rotten, entitled, spoiled, cruel, mean and bullying behavior I have ever witnessed. It was my job to confront it and I did. I talked to 24 year old @MeghanMcCain the way an adult should have talked to the Trump kids. I talked to her the way a retired USMC

Star General failed to do in the WH with Ivanka, Jared and Jr. They are all the same people. I told her that she was unimportant and that everything around her had nothing to do with her. I told her she was privileged and lucky and should be grateful. She told me and

anyone else who would listen in response, “Do you know who the Fuck my Dad is” It was the miserable anthem of the total chaos that was the McCain Campaign. It never stopped until one day when I said ENOUGH!

@MeghanMcCain is a bully, entitled, unaccomplished, spoiled and mean. She has rejected her Family’s history of service for a shallow and purposeless celebrity where she trades on a famous name like a fourth generation wannabe clipping coupons while pretending to be an heir

I was a volunteer for John McCain. He called me when that campaign went belly up. Everyone quit and he called and asked for my help and I never asked him for a dime. I never took a dime. I left my three year old for a year and did everything I could for John McCain.

He was the only person I ever worked for who put in a position where I became involved in a public lie. When that campaign ended, I made a vow that that would never happen again and it hasn’t.

Excerpts don’t do justice to the supernova of rage that is Schmidt’s Twitter feed right now. Read it for much, much, much more.

Open thread!

PS: Schmidt’s rants attracted outraged howls from a certain resident of Brazil, so Schmidt’s accusations about the GOP-Russia connection have been confirmed.

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Midterms Pitch (Open Thread)

It’s tough to predict exactly how the impending fall of Roe will affect the midterm elections, but most observers seem to think it at least has a chance to be a gamechanger. In his most recent podcast, Josh Marshall noted that Americans prefer to keep Roe in place by about a 70% to 30% margin.

He said he thinks Chuck Schumer ought to do a headcount to determine how many current Dem senators are on board with amending the filibuster to pass legislation that codifies Roe, and then the president should make this pitch:

If we hold the House and add two* more Democrats to the U.S. Senate, Democrats will pass legislation codifying Roe, and I’ll sign it in the first week of the new term.

Marshall says it would be a mistake to complicate the pitch by tinkering with Roe — basically just pass legislation guaranteeing abortion rights in the first trimester.

I didn’t hear the whole thing, so I don’t know if they got around to talking about what else could happen with a real majority. Presumably, the candidates would run on whatever works in their districts/states — the pitch to codify Roe would come directly from President Biden.

I don’t know if this would work or not, but it would definitely put an issue that seems to favor Dems at the center of the election, and maybe it would change the DOOM narrative. What do y’all think?

*It might be more than two — Marshall assumed Manchin and Sinema would continue to cling to the filibuster as holy writ, but there might be another one or two Dems who wouldn’t be on board with amending it to codify Roe. Anyhoo, the point is, the headcount would reveal the number.

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Some thoughts about discussing women’s issues and inclusive language

For my money, no one laid out the stakes on abortion rights better than Ruth Bader Ginsburg* did during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings prior to her confirmation to the Supreme Court. Reading RBG’s testimony today, I’m struck by how crabbed and degraded the confirmation process has become over the past 30 years, almost entirely thanks to Republican radicalism on abortion.

Anyhoo, here’s what Ginsburg said in 1993:

The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.

The Alito draft deliberately consigns us egg-bearers to the status of “less than a fully adult human.” That’s because putting women back in their place is one of the chief aims of the modern conservative movement, not just in the United States but around the world.

Women aren’t the only group under attack, of course. The possible fall of Roe is happening in a larger context where reactionary forces are also trying to stuff LGBTQ people back in the closet and subjugate racial, ethnic and religious minorities — from North America to Eastern Europe to India and elsewhere.

The Alito draft conversations this week raised questions I’m still pondering about inclusive language when discussing topics that have been described as “women’s issues” for decades. I don’t have any answers, but I think the conversation is worth having, and I’m interested in hearing y’all’s thoughts on it.

During one of this week’s discussions about the latest salvo in the “war on women,” someone suggested calling it the “war on people with uteruses” to include trans men and nonbinary people who can become pregnant. Some women said they felt erased by that language. I’m all for inclusivity, but I felt not only erased but reduced to an internal organ.

I don’t think anyone who was discussing this in good faith here wants to erase women or reduce them to reproductive organs on the one side — or exclude trans men and nonbinary people when we talk about the Republicans’ fundamental assault on bodily autonomy on the other. But some of us do see it as primarily an assault on women’s rights and denial of women’s full humanity.

I think there are two aspects to this — one that has to do with political/social realities, and the other a question of identity. The political/social part is ugly, but it’s real, so let’s start with that.

I think if we liberals start generally asking folks to replace the word “women” with “people with uteruses” and/or terms like “pregnant women” with “pregnant people,” etc., we’ll embody every dumb stereotype conservatives believe about liberals. It won’t be solely wingnuts and TERFs who see it that way because insisting on that language at all times is, quite literally, erasing women from the conversation. And that brings us to the identity issue.

Speaking for myself, being a woman is a core part of my identity. The word is significant to me, and it has evocative associations, including the generations-long and still ongoing struggle to be recognized as “a fully adult human.” At the same time “woman” doesn’t just include people who were born with female reproductive organs and the typical chromosome assortment.

As far as I am concerned, trans women are women. And while the number of people who do not identify as women but are subject to personal physical harm from laws designed to strip women of bodily autonomy is small, I do think it’s important to include them and acknowledge their presence in these conversations.

I think there’s got to be a way to speak of women’s issues without erasing women AND without excluding people who deserve the same protections women deserve, which is everyone who needs them. But how?

Newspaper articles that are giving factual information on reproductive health, etc., are starting to replace “pregnant women” with “pregnant people.” This recent Tampa Bay Times article on Florida’s new restrictions on abortion is an example. I confess I find it a bit jarring still, but I’m an old fart, and I will get over it. It’s factual information in the public interest, which argues for maximum inclusiveness.

What of other types of writing/speech that touch on what have long been considered “women’s issues,” such as newspaper columns, blog posts, tweets, comments, speeches, etc., that are meant to persuade, protest, excoriate, motivate, commiserate, rabble rouse, etc.? This form tends to touch on the identity aspects of “women’s issues,” so it’s imperative not to erase women from the conversation.

Writers I admire not only for their prose and insights but commitment to equality seem to be using a combination of gendered and non-gendered language in columns about the latest assault on women’s rights. It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it because they’re mostly framing it the way I just did, i.e., as an assault on women’s rights.

But the use of nongendered language also implicitly acknowledges that the issues don’t affect only people who identify as women. Examples include Michelle Goldberg and Roxane Gay in recent NYT columns about the end of Roe (links here and here). Is that inclusive enough? I don’t know, but I’m going to try to follow their example.

Anyhoo, I am interested in what y’all think about this issue. I don’t think it’s trivial. I’m also pretty sure someone somewhere has already addressed it in a way that is miles more creative, compassionate and coherent than I just did. Maybe someone will link to that in comments.

Open thread-ish.

 

 

*The day the Alito draft leaked, I tweeted a preemptive “go fuck yourself” to anyone who would pick that day to dunk on RBG for not retiring during Obama’s term. I’d like to extend that indefinitely. I mean, go ahead, knock yourself out if you want to piss on a beloved feminist icon’s grave, but please know that you’re not making an original point and that most of the people you hope to rile up with your comments even agree with you; we just think you’re being a dick about it.

 

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Alito’s Role Model

Ken Armstrong is a ProPublica reporter who co-authored “Unbelievable,” a book about a young woman coming out of the foster care system who reported a rape and then recanted her story. The book was later made into an excellent Netflix series.

Anyhoo, Mr. Armstrong read the leaked Alito opinion, noticed a familiar name in a citation and provided the backstory in a long tweet thread. It starts here:

The rest of the thread is detwitterized below, save for a couple of images:

2/ The Alito draft says Hale “described abortion of a quick child who died in the womb as a ‘great crime’ and a ‘great misprision.’”

3/ Hale became Lord Chief Justice of England in 1671. In his views of women, he was not a forward-thinking fellow — *even* by the abysmally low standards of his era.

4/ To Hale, English gentlewomen were “the ruin of families.” Young women were a particular source of despair. They “learn to be bold,” he complained, and “talk loud.”

5/ I researched Hale while writing, with @txtianmiller, the book “Unbelievable.” The book was an extension of a story we wrote for
@propublica and @MarshallProj called “An Unbelievable Story of Rape.”

6/ Hale believed that for women, it was easy to accuse a man of rape. He believed that for men, such accusations were hard to defend, even if innocent. He advised that jurors be warned — explicitly, and at length — about the threat of the false accuser.

7/ He came up with quite the list of factors for jurors to weigh. Jurors, he wrote, should consider: Is the woman claiming rape of “good fame” — or “evil fame?” Did she cry out? Try to flee? Make immediate complaint afterward? Does she stand supported by others?

8/ Hale’s words became a standard feature of criminal trials in the U.S.

As long as 300 years after Hale’s death in 1676, many an American jury would be cautioned with what courts called the “Hale Warning”: an instruction to be especially wary of false accusations of rape.

9/ But that wasn’t Hale’s only legacy.

In 1662, at Bury St. Edmunds, Hale presided at the trial of two women accused of witchcraft. Hale instructed the jury that witches were real, saying Scripture affirmed as much.

10/ The jury convicted Amy Denny and Rose Cullender, after which Hale sentenced both women to hang.

Thirty years later, Hale’s handling of this trial, preserved in written record, served as model in Salem, Massachusetts, in the infamous witch trials of 1692.

11/ Hale is known for his legal treatises. But just as revealing is a letter he wrote to his granddaughters, dispensing individually tailored advice.

Granddaughter Mary, he wrote, needed to “govern the greatness of her spirit,” lest she become “proud, imperious and revengeful.”

12/ Granddaughter Frances could make a good housewife, Hale wrote, provided she be “kept in some awe, especially in relation to lying and deceiving.”

13/ As for granddaughter Ann, Hale perceived a “soft nature,” and therefore forbade plays, ballads or melancholic books, “for they will make too deep an impression upon her mind.”

14/ This letter was 182 pages long. When it came to advice, Sir Matthew Hale was full of it.

15/ Young women, Hale wrote, “make it their business to paint or patch their faces, to curl their locks, and to find out the newest and costliest of fashions.” …

16/ “If they rise in the morning before ten of the clock, the morning is spent between the comb, and the glass, and the box of patches; though they know not how to make provision for it themselves, they must have choice diet provided for them…”

17/ The letter reveals a man about as cheerful as his portrait suggests.

Wrote Hale: “The whole constitution of the people of this kingdom is corrupted into debauchery, drunkenness, gluttony, whoring, gaming, profuseness, and the most foolish, sottish prodigality imaginable.”

Sir Matthew Hale was a dour, arrogant, joyless and cruel prick. That makes him a fitting model for Justice Alito, both in personal character and judicial philosophy. Good to know.

Open thread.

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‘Integrity,’ he says…

Chief Justice John Roberts’ statement on the leaked SCOTUS opinion, via CNN:

“This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here. I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak,” Roberts said in a statement Tuesday.

“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” Roberts said. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way…

He’s right that the court’s integrity won’t be undermined — the Roberts court doesn’t have any fucking integrity. I know Roberts allegedly sided with the liberals on this decision, but fuck that harrumphing fraud. The best thing Roberts could do for the court’s precious “integrity” would be to drop dead during a Democratic administration so a president who actually won the popular vote could offset one of the three frauds Trump appointed.

Open thread.

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