Press "Enter" to skip to content

Category: News

Elections Are Not Therapy

The Nation’s Elie Mystal makes the case for why people who care about protecting our rights will vote for Democrats even if we aren’t happy with some of their failures.

It is important that people understand that elections are not therapy. Even if they don’t lead to all the results we want, they can reduce the harm inflicted upon many of our neighbors.

Protect the Right to Contraception

I would like to see the Democratic leadership do this immediately.

A Plan for Hope

Brian Beutler offers a plan for hope in his latest Big Tent newsletter. Yes! It’s true: there are things we can do to try to fight back against the radical Republicans and the rise of authoritarianism in our nation.

Herewith: how NOT to let a fascist party win federal power outright, when things are kinda crap, but the last semblances of American democracy are on the line.

It comes down to passing whatever energy bill Senator Joe Manchin will allow (or make it clear why he won’t and then run on passing it without him next year), running on “give us two more senators and the House and we’ll pass a law codifying Roe in January 2023,” and doing everything possible to make every Republican elected official own the Trump Coup of January 6.

Yes to all of this. It is a time to make the choice clear. We have to stop hoping Republicans will become sane again. We have to deal with the political party that exists today, not the one we wish still existed.

Remember Checks and Balances?

While we may be used to giving the Supreme Court an extreme amount of deference, that isn’t how our system of government is supposed to work.

Remember how essential checks and balances are supposed to be in our Constitutional framework? The Washington Post’s Jamelle Bouie explains that the other two branches of our federal government are not powerless to respond to a radicalized Supreme Court doing the Federalist Society’s business:

It can impeach and remove justices. It can increase or decrease the size of the court itself (at its inception, the Supreme Court had only six members). It can strip the court of its jurisdiction over certain issues or it can weaken its power of judicial review by requiring a supermajority of justices to sign off on any decision that overturns a law. Congress can also rebuke the court with legislation that simply cancels the decision in question.

In the face of a reckless, reactionary and power-hungry court, Congress has options. The problem is politics.

That’s spot on. Democrats have shown little appetite to fight the battle in front of them.

A Horrible Decision for our Nation

Today the Supreme Court’s majority did with their ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization what the Federalist Society and radical Republicans selected them to do: overturn Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood.

This decision is the culmination of a five-decade effort to take away the right to abortion. It is a horrible decision for our nation. And Justice Clarence Thomas makes clear in his concurring opinion that the radical right’s work is not done.

Today’s emergency episode of the Strict Scrutiny podcast features an appropriate level of anger in its analysis of the decision and its implications. It also includes a discussion of what we need to do now.

I hope we will now start listening to the people like these hosts who warned us that Roe (among other rights) was in trouble. As discussed in the episode, Leah Litman spoke out in ways that put her at risk before she had tenure.

We keep bringing back the people who were wrong on the critical issues of the 20th Century. Wrong about the Iraq War. Wrong about the housing crisis. Wrong about Republican obstructionism in the Senate. Wrong about whether these Justices would respect precedent. Wrong about the radicalization of the Republican Party starting with Nixon. Wrong about the impact of Trumpism.

We don’t need to hear more from those who were wrong. Let’s listen more to people like Melissa Murray, Kate Shaw, and Litman, who have been right all along.

Pardons Are Complicated

The January 6th Committee continued to do great work outlining the conspiracy to execute a coup and keep Donald Trump in power despite losing the election.

One of the details that came out today was the list of Republican Members of Congress who asked Trump for a pardon before his leaving office.

This revelation led to a reaction from many people on Twitter and other places that there was only one reason you ask for a pardon: because you are guilty.

And that is one reason to do so. But, also, it is expensive to defend yourself against charges: even false ones.

Even innocent and falsely accused people are driven into economic ruin because of how expensive it is to defend oneself.

I doubt that is what is happening here. Pardons are complicated. But it is a reminder that we should do more to ensure people have all the opportunities possible to demonstrate their innocence.

Talking About the Threat of Nuclear War

Dan Froomkin argues that we should be talking about the threat of nuclear war.

After all, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has included threats about using nuclear weapons. And it is not clear that the United States has a plan to deal with the threat. Froomkin explains:

I don’t understand why the media is virtually ignoring the threat of nuclear escalation, should Putin get desperate or angry enough to use a nuclear weapon in the Ukraine. It seems to me that we ought to be talking about it — and making absolutely sure that U.S. policy won’t make things worse.

We have to support Ukraine. But sending certain kinds of weapons creates risk, and sometimes unintended consequences.

The media so far has largely ignored these questions. We need them to help us ensure the Biden Administration has answers.

On the Media Previews the January 6 Hearings

This latest episode of On the Media previews the January 6 hearings with Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz from the Will Be Wild podcast.

As Bernstein explains:

People know what happened from what they saw on their TV screens that day, and that was a lot. But what they don’t know is everything that we have learned in the 17 months since January 6. The planning of it, the intentions of the former president and the people around him. This is an opportunity for people to understand the full story of what happened. 

This podcast provided an excellent overview of what’s at stake: the protection of our democracy.

Ron DeSantis’ Authoritarian Message

Ruth Ben-Ghiat analyzes how Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ used the Special Olympics to send an authoritarian message to voters.

DeSantis threatened the Special Olympics (pause and let those words sink in) with a $27.5 million fine if the organization did not revoke its vaccine mandate. It doesn’t matter to DeSantis that mandate is in place to protect the vulnerable people who compete.

Ben-Ghiat explains how this fits within a pattern of DeSantis deploying the traits of an authoritarian leader:

Such individuals also love to engage in the autocrat game of “making an example” of people or entities that other politicians might not touch due to their size, influence or popularity. The point of this game is to show that no one is above being punished by them.

This is why, along with the usual GOP targets (the LBGTQ community, Blacks, and immigrants) we find DeSantis going after the Special Olympics. That’s not the move you make if you care about being seen as decent, but it’s the move you make if you want to be feared. (emphasis in original)

DeSantis is a favorite for the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination, especially if Donald Trump does not run again. He is showing us who he is. He is showing us what the Republican Party has become. The danger to our democracy isn’t just about one former president and his group of close followers. An entire section of our country is supporting it.

Bad Legal Rulings and Online Misogyny Are a Toxic Mix

Michael Hobbs does an outstanding job explaining how the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp trial spun out of control and led to such a horrible outcome in this guest post at Parker Malloy’s The Present Age.

If you’re surprised to learn Heard’s narrative or the scale of the evidence supporting it, that’s because it has played almost no role in the internet free-for-all that has surrounded this case for the last six weeks. 

Hobbs puts the trial and the internet focus into context and explains why it led to a bad result in this case—and how it could lead to more problems in the future.

He also highlights something that stunned me when I first learned of it:

In hindsight, the verdict came down the minute the judge allowed the case to be televised. Jurors weren’t sequestered or sheltered from the internet in any way, meaning they were likely exposed to the same bad-faith memes and out-of-context clips as everyone else. Plus, this case has been swirling around the internet for years, making an impartial jury an impossibility in the first place. One man was allowed to stay in the jury pool after revealing a text from his wife that read, “Amber is psychotic.” (emphasis added)

How? How can that happen?

I hope you’ll read Hobb’s analysis of the case. It’s the best I’ve seen out there. I also hope you’ll subscribe to The Present Age, Parker Malloy does an excellent job with it.

Also, I know from personal experience how much of a negative impact false accusations can have on a person. But evidence is evidence. This trial is another example of what happens when sound judicial judgments lose out to a trial in the media and social media.

Process matters. We just have to do better.