Trump (The Former Guy) sent a message to his cult by inviting the rapper Ye (formerly Kanye West) and white nationalist Nick Fuentes to dine with him at Mar-a-Lago. Fuentes is a Holocaust denier, a racist, and an anti-Semite, also a homophobe, of course. Ye is a loud anti-Semite. Are Ye and Fuentes friends, even though Ye is Black? Trump claims he didn’t know Fuentes but it’s hard to believe anything he says, or that a total stranger would be admitted to dine with him.

This is what Heather Cox Richardson said about the dinner:

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, November 22, former president Trump hosted the antisemitic artist Ye, also known as Kanye West, for dinner at a public table at Mar-a-Lago along with political operative Karen Giorno, who was the Trump campaign’s 2016 state director in Florida. Ye brought with him 24-year-old far-right white supremacist Nick Fuentes. Fuentes attended the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in its wake, he committed to moving the Republican Party farther to the right.

Fuentes has openly admired Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and authoritarian Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is currently making war on Russia’s neighbor Ukraine. A Holocaust denier, Fuentes is associated with America’s neo-Nazis.

In February 2020, Fuentes launched the America First Political Action Conference to compete from the right with the Conservative Political Action Conference. In May 2021, on a livestream, Fuentes said: “My job…is to keep pushing things further. We, because nobody else will, have to push the envelope. And we’re gonna get called names. We’re gonna get called racist, sexist, antisemitic, bigoted, whatever.… When the party is where we are two years later, we’re not gonna get the credit for the ideas that become popular. But that’s okay. That’s our job. We are the right-wing flank of the Republican Party. And if we didn’t exist, the Republican Party would be falling backwards all the time.”

Fuentes and his “America First” followers, called “Groypers” after a cartoon amphibian (I’m not kidding), backed Trump’s lies that he had actually won the 2020 election. At a rally shortly after the election, Fuentes told his followers to “storm every state capitol until Jan. 20, 2021, until President Trump is inaugurated for four more years.” Fuentes and Groypers were at the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, and at least seven of them have been charged with federal crimes for their association with that attack. The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed Fuentes himself.

Accounts of the dinner suggest that Trump and Fuentes hit it off, with Trump allegedly saying, “I like this guy, he gets me,” after Fuentes urged Trump to speak freely off the cuff rather than reading teleprompters and trying to appear presidential as his handlers advise.

But Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2024 just days ago, and being seen publicly with far-right white supremacist Fuentes—in addition to Ye—indicates his embrace of the far right. His team told NBC’sMarc Caputo that the dinner was a “f**king nightmare.” Trump tried to distance himself from the meeting by saying he didn’t know who Fuentes was, and that he was just trying to help Ye out by giving the “seriously troubled” man advice, but observers noted that he did not distance himself from Fuentes’s positions.

Republican lawmakers have been silent about Trump’s apparent open embrace of the far right, illustrating the growing power of that far right in the Republican Party. Representatives Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) have affiliated themselves with Fuentes, and while their appearances with him at the America First Political Action Conference last February drew condemnation from Republican leader Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), now McCarthy desperately needs the votes of far-right Republicans to make him speaker of the House. To get that support, he has been promising to deliver their wish list—including an investigation into President Joe Biden’s son Hunter—and appears willing to accept Fuentes and his followers into the party, exactly as Fuentes hoped.

Today, after the news of Trump’s dinner and the thundering silence that followed it, conservative anti-Trumper Bill Kristol tweeted: “Aren’t there five decent Republicans in the House who will announce they won’t vote for anyone for Speaker who doesn’t denounce their party’s current leader, Donald Trump, for consorting with the repulsive neo-Nazi Fuentes?”

So far, at least, the answer is no.

To read footnotes, open the link.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is a time to reflect what we are grateful for.

What are you grateful for?

I am grateful for life. Last year, I had open heart surgery, and for the first five days after surgery, my life hung in the balance. Yet here I am, reading, writing, thinking, alive.

I am grateful for my dear family: My wife, Mary. My children, my grandchildren. I am blessed to be with and near people I love who love me.

I am grateful to live in America. Despite all the challenges our country faces, it’s still a wonderful place to live, where communities come together in bad times, and strangers act to help others.

I am grateful to live in a country where I can speak and write what I wish without fear of punishment.

I am grateful for the rise of a young generation whose idealism and vision will change our country for the better.

I am grateful for the dear friends at the Network for Public Education, whose advocacy and passion on behalf of democracy, public schools, their teachers and their teachers inspires me every day.

I am grateful for the educators who put students first, who work tirelessly for one of the nation’s most important and vital institutions.

I am grateful for the readers of this blog, many of whom have become good friends, without our having met in person. I am grateful too for what I learn every day from you.

If you have read this far, I want you to know that I don’t intend to post much this weekend. Maybe nothing at all.

I have been saving this lovely tribute for the right moment. It’s now, as red state legislatures rev up their attacks on teachers and on the profession. North Carolina leads the pack in its current effort to lower entry standards for teachers (only an associate degree needed to enter the field—two years of college), and pay tied to student test scores, a practice that has failed everywhere tried. In the background is the Gates Foundation, repeating its well-established practice of funding failure. Florida, too, is lowering its standards for teachers and welcoming non-professionals into the classroom. Think of it: Do you want your next air flight to be piloted by someone with six weeks training? Do you want a surgery performed by a medical student?

Dan Rather, a graduate of the Houston public schools (like me), remembers his teachers with gratitude:

One of the great sadnesses of our current age is how politics has polluted so much of our public discourse and spread into realms that once seemed free of partisanship. That this occurs at a time when much of the Republican Party has adopted the posture of a bully and is gripped by extremist ideology and attacks on truth and justice makes it all the more dangerous and dispiriting.

Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in the battlegrounds that our schools have become. We are living in an age when the number of books being banned is on the rise and the willingness to confront America’s complicated history is on the decline. We see intolerance worn as a badge of toughness, while inclusion, the great promise of what public education can be, is treated as weakness. We see a concerted effort to take over school boards, especially in deeply conservative areas, with true believers in the culture wars eager to inflict their small-mindedness, bias, and mean-spirited ideology on shaping how young minds are taught.

Teaching, already an underappreciated profession in this country, is becoming an even less appealing line of work. We have educators who have spent decades in the classroom now forced to look over their shoulders, wondering whether the books on their shelves or their carefully honed lesson plans will run afoul of the new draconian mandates. And we have young idealists with freshly minted teaching certificates wondering whether they can impart their excitement and new ideas into the students before them.

Some of these concerns are not new. When I was a student, for example, racial injustice in the form of legally segregated schools was a hallmark of public education. Schools have always been shaped by the larger societal forces that whip around them. Public education is, after all, about molding the minds and the mores of future citizens. Few institutions have more power in determining what this country will become than our schools.

But there have been decades of progress on what and how our children are taught, and today that wave of advancement is retreating in many parts of America. Sadly, there are so many examples of far-right ideology shaping curricula, on issues ranging from race to LGBTQ rights to science, that to call them all out individually is an impossible task. This is a broad movement not confined by school or district; much of the effort is being directed at the state level.

Republican politicians have learned that they can rally their base through bad-faith misrepresentations of school culture, which they depict as out of control with so-called “woke” ideology (which we wrote about in Steady here) and the bogeyman of “critical race theory,” which they totally mischaracterize — and which is taught in almost none of the schools where they have made it an issue. Nearly every parent wants good schools for their children, and Republicans are playing to fears they have carefully fanned to lure in voters even beyond their base. This was notably true in the last gubernatorial election in Virginia. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has cultivated his political reputation (and a likely presidential run) by attacking professional educators — and indeed the very idea that schools should be welcoming, tolerant learning environments.

The elections that lie ahead — not only the big, marquee ones, but more importantly, those for school boards and other local offices — will do a lot to shape what will happen in our schools in the years to come. But there is another force that is even more powerful, and as we mark the beginning of a new school year, let us recognize it: teachers.

While we should grapple with the political context laid out above, let us shift the tone of this piece now to one of celebration. Writing about teachers, singing their praises, honoring them as American heroes has long been one of my favorite activities. It never gets old, and it never gets less important.

I would like to use whatever platform I have to shine a spotlight of deep respect on these invaluable public servants. And I am pleased that if you search for quotes from me online, one of the most popular is this:

“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth.’”

I believe every word of it. These aren’t empty sentiments. They come from my lived history. A while back here on Steady, I shared my own experiences as a student of public schools, including an emotional return to my elementary school in Houston.

For all the challenges our schools face, right now millions of children are learning about the world and themselves thanks to dedicated teachers. Teachers are going the extra mile, reaching out to kids in need, tweaking lesson plans to include new insights, passing their own inspirations to the young people before them.

The work is not easy — far from it. And it can be an incredible grind, especially when it seems that society doesn’t value it or is even outright hostile to teachers. With this as a backdrop, it is understandable that many are choosing to leave the profession. This is not a reflection on them, but rather on the nation that is allowing it to happen.

Teachers, you are our inspiration and our hope. You nurture the flames of our democracy. You literally save lives. You work miracles every day. Your resourcefulness, resilience, and creativity are boundless. We saw it during the heart of the pandemic. And we see it now. It is all the more reason you should not be taken for granted.

Dear readers, how many of you can close your eyes and be transported to a classroom from your past? Do you see a favorite teacher? Hear that word of encouragement or hard truth that shaped the course of your life? Teachers are the winds that propel our children’s sails forward. They are the North Stars that help guide us all.

I apologize if this reads as a bit trite. I can imagine red ink on the page from some of my previous English teachers marking my excesses. Sadly, those teachers are all now long gone. But in me, as in my classmates, as in all of you, the work of our teachers lives on.

We cannot thank our teachers enough. Each day the gifts they have given us are renewed. We should do everything we can to protect them and value them. A lot of this work must be done at the ballot box, but it can also be accomplished through words of encouragement and support.

To all the teachers out there: thank you.

Robert Hubbell is a favorite blogger of mine because he makes so much sense of events. His views are informative and often reflect what I think but have not yet written. He posted this right before Thanksgiving.

He writes:

          Although there were many significant political developments on Tuesday, I want to start by focusing on gratitude for what we achieved during the midterms. Because we were able to defy “conventional wisdom” about midterm losses by the party in power, we have fundamentally altered the political dynamic for the better going into 2024.

The threat to democracy remains, but Republicans are chastened rather than emboldened, and Democrats are emboldened rather than discouraged. It could have been otherwise—and would have been but for the incredible devotion of tens of millions of Americans who made incredible sacrifices to defend democracy.

          Everyone who contributed to the victory should be proud in equal measure, no matter how large or small your contribution. Indeed, the simple act of voting in a system designed to suppress some voters can be a noteworthy accomplishment. So, I hope you will take a moment over the next few days to recognize the accomplishment achieved by Democrats in the 2022 midterms.

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post published a superb essay on gratitude. I recommend that you read the entire essay in WaPo. See Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Opinion | Democracy defenders have many reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving.

          I recommend that you read Rubin’s essay in full, but in case you don’t, here is a fair sampling:

I’m grateful not to wake up every morning with a sense of impending doom that a cast of election deniers will control key roles in administrating elections in 2024.

I’m grateful many in the media helped identify election deniers for Americans and educated them about the danger of granting them power to discard the will of voters.

I’m grateful to voters, who for the third consecutive election, showed there is a majority — even if a frightfully narrow one — that rejects authoritarianism, crude appeals to racism and xenophobia, and downright nutty and mean candidates.

I’m grateful younger voters are developing a habit of voting in midterms.

I’m grateful to the thousands of election officials, workers and volunteers who pulled off another exceptionally efficient and peaceful exercise in democracy.

I’m grateful to the lawyers who litigated in defense of voting access and impartial election administration.

I’m grateful voters did not ignore their concerns for democracy and women’s rights just because inflation is high.

I’m grateful that nearly all broadcast networks refused to break from regular programming to cover Donald Trump’s presidential campaign announcement.

I’m grateful voters are becoming accustomed to early voting and voting by mail.

I’m grateful President Biden disregarded cynical pundits and reporters to focus on the threat from MAGA extremism.

Jennifer Rubin’s list continues, but you get the point. I hope that you can see your contribution in the list above. We have much to be thankful for. Let’s find the time in the next few days to discern the reasons for gratitude in our lives. Those reasons are abundant—but we need to look for them amid the din and distractions of modern life.

More on GOP’s LGBTQ attacks.

          Three days after the mass killing at Club Q, GOP candidate Herschel Walker released an ad that criticizes Raphael Warnock for supporting the rights of an LGBTQ athlete. See CNN, ‘This ad is hate’: CNN guest shreds Herschel Walker for anti-transgender ad hours after Club Q shooting. Of all of the issues that confront the American people, Herschel Walker chose to continue the culture war on LGBTQ. The insensitivity and cruelty of the timing speaks volumes about who Walker is . . . or at least, who the people are who are telling Walker what to say.

          The ad features a female swimmer who complains about having to compete against a “biological male,” but she fails to mention that both she and the “biological male” were beaten by four female swimmers. That is what counts as a tragedy in the GOP culture war. But the point is not whether it is “fair” for transgender athletes to compete in college sports; it is that the GOP has chosen this moment and this issue for political advantage—before the victims of the Club Q mass murder have been buried.

Legal developments in the effort to hold Trump accountable.

In rapid succession, Trump suffered a series of setbacks in his efforts to evade accountability for his crimes. And in most instances, Trump didn’t merely lose—he lost “bigly.”

          The Supreme Court rejected (9-0) Trump’s last-ditch efforts to prevent the House Ways & Means Committee from obtaining the last five years of his tax returns. See CNN, Trump tax returns: Supreme Court clears way for House to get former president’s taxes. As a result, the Treasury Department must turn over the returns. The question is, “When?” Republicans will take over control of the Committee on January 3, 2023—and will likely rescind the request for the returns. Let’s hope that the Treasury Department moves with dispatch. But even so, the returns must remain confidential within the Committee; the public will not likely see the returns anytime soon. Still, the disclosure to a congressional committee is progress.

          A panel of the 11th Circuit eviscerated Trump’s arguments in defense of the special master appointment in the Mar-a-Lago search. Every observer agrees that the 11th Circuit will overrule Judge Cannon’s order appointing the special master—and may dismiss the case entirely. Trump’s lawyer, Jim Trusty, could not answer basic questions about why Judge Cannon should have exercised jurisdiction over Trump’s lawsuit. As a result, the DOJ (through special counsel Jack Smith) will be able to continue the Mar-a-Lago investigation without interference by Judge Cannon or oversight by special master Judge Dearie.

          Trump’s lawyers tried unsuccessfully (for the third time) to dismiss the New York Attorney General’s civil suit against the Trump organization. New York state judge Arthur Engoron shut down Trump’s attorney time and again. Rather than accept defeat, Trump’s attorney blamed the judge. Alina Habba said,

          This is why we shouldn’t be before you. You have a clear bias against our client. You have for a year and a half. Every time we come to court, you’re prepared to rule against us.

          Of course, one explanation not considered by Ms. Habba is that Trump’s arguments are losers.

          In the above lawsuit against the Trump Organization, Judge Engoron rejected a request by Ivanka Trump that her finances be excluded from oversight by a court-appointed monitor. The monitor, retired federal judge Barbara S. Jones has been charged with compiling a “full and accurate description of the corporate structure” of the Trump Organization. The Trumps, including Ivanka, must also inform the monitor 30 days in advance of shifting any assets. See The Daily Beast, Ivanka Trump Tried to Dodge Her Court-Appointed Financial Monitor.

          There’s more, but you get the point. Trump is fighting multiple losing battles. One of them is bound to stick.

Kevin McCarthy’s performative drama.

         Jim Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene must have Kevin McCarthy in a “double chickenwing camel clutch” wrestling hold. To satisfy the two of them (and other extremists in the party), McCarthy is twisting himself into ridiculous positions to win their votes. On Tuesday, he demanded that DHS Secretary Mayorkas “resign or be prepared to be impeached.” See The Hill, McCarthy calls on DHS Secretary Mayorkas to resign, threatens impeachment inquiry.

          McCarthy’s demand is simultaneously pathetic and outrageous. It is doubtful that the House would impeach Mayorkas, but the Senate would never convict. So, what’s the point? McCarthy would be pursuing the same grievance-fueled messaging that resulted in a disastrous midterm for Republicans. McCarthy must be desperate. Indeed, it appears that McCarthy has dwindling prospects for being elected speaker. See Charlie Sykes, The Bulwark / Morning Shots, Kevin McCarthy’s “Crossover” Problem.

          I know many readers are worried about the supposed onslaught of investigations in the GOP House during the next session of Congress. But there is reason to believe that those investigations will be a flop. See David Frum in The Atlantic, Another Flop From GOP Productions. The GOP broke its pick on ten Benghazi investigations for years and came up with nothing. As Frum notes, the most likely result of an investigation of Hunter Biden’s laptop will be the revelation that Joe Biden is a loving father who was desperately trying to help a son in trouble.

          How do Republicans expect Americans to react to that disclosure? If congressional Republicans had empathy and decency, they would understand that Americans would find those disclosures endearing. So, let’s relax and see whether Republicans can do anything in their investigations and impeachments besides embarrassing themselves.

Helping the Georgia Alliance for Progress “get out the vote” for Senator Warnock.

          For those of you looking to donate in the final push in Georgia, please consider joining Jessica Craven of Chop Wood Carry Water, along with Senate Circle, Markers For Democracy, Team Min, Downtown Nasty Women’s Social Group, and The Wednesday Group who are hosting Christine White of the Georgia Alliance for Progress. The group is working to fund the best grassroots organizations in Georgia—specifically their canvassing programs— who are still underfunded with only weeks to go. You can give here, and please feel free to share the link with friends and family who want to give. The Zoom is on Monday, November 28 at 8:00 PM Eastern/7:00 PM Central, /6:00 PM Mountain/5:00 PM Pacific/4:00 PM Alaska.

Concluding Thoughts.

What Jennifer Rubin said.

This has been a banner year for book banning.

CBS News published a brief description of the 50 most banned books this years. Most, as you will see, are about sexuality, gender and race. Parents and activists fear that children will become what they read about. They worry that reading about gay students will turn their children gay. Why would they worry that their children become racist.

This surge in censorship is a testament of sorts to the power of the written word. The peculiar thing about this crusade to ban books is that far more explicit material about sexuality and race is readily available on the internet.

Censorship of books, textbooks, even standardized tests is not new. I wrote a book called The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn. The pressure groups come from the right and the left and from groups claiming to represent the elderly, women, religious folk, and all sorts of others. Every publisher of textbooks and tests has “bias and sensitivity” guidelines, long lists of words, phrases, topics, and images that will never appear in a textbook or on a test. I have a list at the end of the book that includes more than 800 banned items.

Mercedes Schneider describes the arbitrary and capricious actions of the Berkeley School Board in South Carolina. “Moms for Liberty” won control of the board in the recent election. At its first meeting, it fired the superintendent and the board’s attorney and immediately replaced them.

I posted a report previously about this extremist takeover, written by Paul Bowers, a journalist in South Carolina who attended the tumultuous meeting.

She points out that the superintendent had been rated “proficient” unanimously by the previous board only a month earlier.

Read her post and see how little respect these M4L people have for democratic and legal norms.

Schneider concludes, let the litigation begin!

Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just proved that he is the stupidest person in the world. He said in an interview that Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, is “the most dangerous person in the world.”

More dangerous than the President of China, Xi Jinping, who is threatening the survival of Taiwan and re-imposing a repressive regime across China.

More dangerous than President Kim, the dictator of North Korea, who is threatening South Korea and the rest of the world, with his intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

More dangerous than Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who is trying to destroy the people of Ukraine by destroying their access to heat, light, and water as winter begins,in addition to raining deadly missiles on them.

No, Pompeo says, Randi is “the most dangerous person in the world.”

Why? Because she leads a teachers’ unions, and unions are evil.

Teachers too are evil, Pompeo believes, because the children of America can’t read, write, or do math.

He said,

“I tell the story often — I get asked ‘Who’s the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim, is it Xi Jinping?’ The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten,” Pompeo said.

“It’s not a close call. If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing,” the former top U.S. diplomat added.

Randi replied:

In a thread on Twitter, Weingarten said she didn’t know if the remarks should be considered “ridiculous or dangerous.”

“At the state department, Pompeo defended Middle East’s tyrants & undermined Ukraine. He was more focused on pleasing Trump than fighting 4 freedom, national security & democracy. To compare us to China means he must not know what his own department says,” she wrote.

“Maybe spend a minute in one of the classrooms with my members and their students and you will get a real lesson in the promise and potential of America.”

Pompeo’s blast is ridiculous and stupid. But it’s also dangerous for Randi. It makes her a target of extremists in search of targets. This country has a surfeit of lunatics with guns. Pompeo should pay the cost of personal security for her.

His uninformed, ignorant remarks are insulting to teachers.

I challenge him to name a non-union state that outperforms unionized states.

Every teacher should belong to the AFT or the NEA. They would have higher salaries, health care, pensions, and job security. They would have state and national organizations to protect them in state legislatures and Congress.

The teaching profession is under fire by ignorant politicians like Pompeo. Consequently, many experienced teachers have resigned, and there is a national teacher shortage.

The best way to support teachers and their noble profession is to improve their stature, their salaries, and their working conditions. The only way that will happen is if there are strong unions to stand up for teachers, who alone are powerless.

Only strong unions will fight for the profession against the hostility of bombastic fools like Pompeo.

Pompeo can’t tolerate strong women or strong unions.

Dana Milbank, regular columnist for The Washington Post, writes here about the extremists who will have disproportionate power, due to the slim margin that Republicans hold in the House of Representatives:

Wednesday evening, Republicans formally won control of the House.

Thursday morning, in the first public act of the new majority, senior House Republicans revealed their most urgent priority: They would investigate Hunter Biden.

The incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the incoming chairman of the Oversight Committee, James Comer (R-Ky.), and about 10 other members of the brand-new majority walked into the House TV studio first thing Thursday to announce multiple probes into the president’s son.

“Hunter Biden was conducting business with suspected human traffickers,” they asserted, and “Hunter Biden and Joe Biden were involved in a scheme to try to get China to buy liquefied natural gas,” and “credit cards and bank accounts of Hunter and Joe Biden were commingled” and “Hunter wanted keys made for Joe Biden” to his office. They mentioned Hunter two dozen times in their opening statements alone.

Reporters tried to ask questions about other topics. Comer cut them off. “If we could keep it about Hunter Biden, that would be great,” he said, explaining that “this is kind of a big deal, we think.”

“Why make this your very first visible order of business?” one reporter asked.

Comer assured her that other pressing issues would also be addressed: “Kevin [McCarthy] said the first legislation we’re going to vote on is to repeal the 87,000 IRS agents.”

Great idea! After a GOP campaign focused on crime, their first legislative act will be to protect criminals. They’ll try to block the hiring of IRS enforcement personnel (the true number is much less than 87,000) assigned to crack down on the wealthiest tax cheats. Voters who elected Republicans to fight inflation and gas prices might be feeling puzzled, if not swindled.

But, in fairness, the noisiest voices in the GOP have other plans, too: They also want to cut off military aid to Ukraine as it fights off Russia’s invasion.
A few hours after the Comer and Jordan show, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) took the same stage to announce plans to force a vote on ending funds for Ukraine. “Is Ukraine now the 51st state?” asked Greene, who alleged an elaborate cryptocurrency conspiracy in which military aid for Ukraine actually funds Democrats’ campaigns.

Not too long ago, the Republican Party stood against Russian aggression. But with the GOP’s single-digit majority in the new House, the oddballs hold all the power. “You’ve heard Leader McCarthy say publicly that he doesn’t see very good odds for much funding for Ukraine going forward in a Republican-controlled conference,” Greene pointed out.

Fellow crank Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) agreed: “I will not vote for one more dollar to Ukraine!”
It was heartwarming to see Greene and Gaetz on the same page again. Earlier in the week, they were feuding about whether to deny McCarthy the speakership (the defection of even a couple of Republicans could doom him).

Greene backed McCarthy for speaker and told McCarthy’s critics (including many of her fellow members of the far-right Freedom Caucus) to bring it on. “I’m not afraid of the civil war in the GOP — I lean into it,” she said on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast.

Gaetz shot back: “Whatever Kevin has promised Marjorie Taylor Greene, I guarantee you this: At the first opportunity, he will zap her faster than you can say ‘Jewish space laser’” — a reference to the antisemitic sentiments that got Greene kicked off her committees. McCarthy has promised to restore her privileges.

McCarthy’s age-old ambition to be speaker is again teetering. Thirty-one House Republicans opposed his nomination as speaker this week — many times the number needed to sink him when the full House votes in January.

Even if he wins the job, he might soon wish he hadn’t. That’s because he’ll only get it by signing an endless pile of IOUs the crazies are demanding: impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Multiple Hunter Biden investigations. A select committee to investigate China. An investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, investigation. Investigations of Anthony Fauci and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And a panoply of probes into the Justice Department and the FBI. McCarthy is going to be held “completely hostage,” outgoing Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) predicted.

The same day Republicans were yammering about investigating Hunter and defunding Ukraine, outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her retirement from leadership after two decades in charge of House Democrats. She was the first woman to be speaker and one of the most effective ever to hold that role.

Yet, most Republicans skipped Pelosi’s announcement on the House floor (and a few opted for social-media taunts). Among the missing was McCarthy, who explained: “I had meetings.”

One of those meetings McCarthy had Thursday was with Greene, who informed him of her anti-Ukraine maneuver. “I said, ‘I’m having a press conference at 4,’” Greene recounted. “And he said, ‘Okay.’”

Of course he did. The crazies are all knocking at his door. And if he wants to be speaker, there is only one answer to their demands: “Okay.”

Andrew Van Wagner argues persuasively in this article that the media tries so hard to avoid charges of left wing bias that it ends up repeating the Republican narrative. In bending over backwards, he writes, the media has an anti-Democratic bias.

This “both-sides-ism” led the media to predict a Red Wave, to anticipate how the Democrats would react to their looming election disaster. If you follow the headlines, Democrats were about to take a drubbing.

Journalists have substituted election predictions for substantive coverage of the issues. Voters end up less informed when reporting focuses on the horse race.

He writes:

It would be interesting to find out how many positive stories the NYT ran about the Democrats—or their electoral chances—in the week before the election. You can see potential anti-Democratic bias in the 5 November 2022 NYTheadline “Biden and Obama Reunite in a Last-Ditch Effort to Save Their Party”—you can also see potential anti-Democratic bias if you look at the stories on the NYT’s 7 November 2022 front page, which says “Party’s Outlook Bleak” and “Democrats Brace for Losses”.

Imagine reporting that focused on the issues rather than predicting the outcome.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a historian at New York University abd a scholar of fascism. She wrote the following for MSNBC. Readers of this blog will not be surprised to read her assertion that DeSantis is no better than Trump, and may even be much worse, given his insistence that there is only one right way to teach, act, and think—and he decides what it is. I think of him as DeFascist.

She writes:

If DeSantis is becoming many Republicans’ answer to their “Trump problem,” his rise is because of his authoritarian sympathies and attitudes, not in spite of them. He promises a more “respectable”-seeming version of illiberal rule than the baggage-laden outrage specialist that is Trump. No wonder dozens of billionaires backed him even before his November re-election….

But let’s be clear: The man whom Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post celebrates as “DeFuture” would, in fact, continue Trump’s relentless attempts to turn back the clock on social progress in America by silencing and disenfranchising tens of millions who don’t fit into Republicans’ white Christian vision for the nation.

DeSantis has made Trump’s lines, and lies, his own.

From his education bills that ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools to his crusades against commonsense public health protocols like mask mandates, DeSantis has made Trump’s lines, and lies, his own. His preference for ideology over science (his surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Lapado, has spread misinformation about Covid-19 prevention) had tragic consequences for Floridians.

Who can forget DeSantis mocking children who wore face masks? Or firing an elected county prosecutor who defied DeSantis’ hatred of abortion? Or endorsing extremists for school board races? Or spending millions to dupe Venezuelan migrants to fly to Martha’s Vineyard with false promises of jobs?

He may be worse than Trump because Trump was a fool. DeSanctis has the potential to be a fascist, unafraid to impose his personal views on everyone, using the power of government.