Republicans taking over state elections

NYT: “Republicans have introduced at least 216 bills in 41 states to give legislatures more power over elections officials, according to the States United Democracy Center, a new bipartisan organization that aims to protect democratic norms. Of those, 24 have been enacted into law across 14 states. …

“The maneuvers risk eroding some of the core checks that stood as a bulwark against former President Donald J. Trump as he sought to subvert the 2020 election results. Had these bills been in place during the aftermath of the election, Democrats say, they would have significantly added to the turmoil Mr. Trump and his allies wrought by trying to overturn the outcome. They worry that proponents of Mr. Trump’s conspiracy theories will soon have much greater control over the levers of the American elections system.”

Is the confusion a feature or a bug?

That probably depends on where you stand. All I know is that you should only read those sections of the Internal Revenue Code that deal with international taxes if you have no regard for your own sanity. The wounds on my brain from taking International Tax at law school over thirty years ago have not healed.

Most members of Congress don?t understand the first thing about the international corporate tax system and won?t have the bandwidth to figure it out.

The trouble with Fox News (from John Boehner)

“The reality that Boehner exposes is that following the 2008 election of Obama, something fundamentally changed at Fox News. It was no longer about pushing conservative policy solutions and young stars of the movement. Instead, the network became a fever swamp for internet trolls pushing every sort of conspiracy theory — from Benghazi to Obama’s citizenship.

“To Boehner’s critical point about how Fox skewed incentives within the GOP: No longer was the goal for most members of Congress (or those aspiring Republicans hoping to join their ranks) to accrue seniority and rise in the ranks of their preferred committee or even into House GOP leadership. Now the goal was to become a conservative pundit on Fox News — that was where the real power (and money if you decided to leave Congress) was.

“And the best way to get on Fox News as much as possible? Say the most outlandish and outrageous things possible. Fox viewers were ready to believe whatever the worst thing you could say about Obama or any of the Clintons. There was no bridge too far. And with ratings as the only goal, Ailes (with a major assist from Fox owner Rupert Murdoch) leaned in hard — vacating any sort of journalistic mission to tell people the truth about their government and politicians in favor of pandering to an audience that wanted to believe that any and every Democratic politician was evil.”

In an explosive excerpt from his forthcoming memoir, former House Speaker John Boehner calls Texas Sen. Ted Cruz a nasty name, refers to lots of Republicans elected in 2010 as "morons" and admits that President Barack Obama had little reason to find "common cause with people who think you are a secret Kenyan Muslim traitor to America."

This is going to take time

It took the Trump administration several years to fuck up our immigration system and it’s likely to take the Biden administration a few years to unfuck it. Meanwhile, the Republican mantra that we need to deal with border security before taking up other immigration matters is dejà vu all over again. When Obama came into office, he wanted to do comprehensive immigration reform but the Republicans in Congress said “secure the border first and then we can talk about comprehensive immigration reform.” Obama was naïve enough to take them at their word and he cracked down hard on the border, earning the title of ‘Deporter-in-Chief,” only to discover their insincerity. At that point, he changed course and did things like DACA. The Republicans are repeating the same line with the same insincerity. One hopes that Biden has learned from this experience.

I doubt very much that any kind of comprehensive immigration reform can be passed as long as the filibuster is intact. At some point, if I have the time, I will post on what I think such reform should look like.

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Democrats who long blistered the Trump administration's hard-line immigration policies are suddenly in a tough political bind...

Two dysfunctional systems

Since the start of the year, much of the world?s attention was focused on two trials on opposite sides of the world. In one, a brave truth-teller was persecuted by a vengeful administration after stirring up his patriotic followers in protest against tyranny. In the other, Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate.

The QAnoners aren’t as dumb as we’d like to think

From the New Republic: “There were plenty of graduates and good students in the mob that day. Plenty of dropouts and poor students looked on in horror. And as much as the right’s critics might prefer an understanding of what’s happened to our politics that flatters their intelligence, the challenge we’re facing isn’t that millions of hapless and benighted yokels have been bamboozled by disinformation. It’s that millions of otherwise ordinary people from many walks of life—including many who went to and even excelled in college—have a material or ideological interest in keeping the Democratic Party and its voters from power by any means possible. And those means include the utilization of narratives, including conspiracy theories, that delegitimize Democrats and offer hope of their eventual comeuppance. …

“Democrats should try campaigning on the truth: The Republican Party is controlled by intelligent, college-educated, and affluent elites who concoct dangerous nonsense to paper over a bigoted, plutocratic agenda and to justify attacks on the democratic process. That agenda and those attacks are supported by millions of reasonably intelligent voters who will believe or claim to believe anything that furthers the objective of keeping conservatives in control of this country forever. Simply pointing to figures like Greene and hoping the indignation of college graduates will do the rest is a mistake. Instead, Democrats should present voters with a material choice between a party that has nothing to offer the majority of Americans but abuse and conspiratorial flimflam and a party committed to building a democracy and an economy that work for all. If they don’t, the lizard people who run the GOP will be running the government again in no time.”

Their belief that this surreal conspiracy has arisen because of the poor education of its adherents is based in classism, not reality.

The bogeyman of socialism

“[H]ere’s what Republicans are failing to realize. As families suffer and Americans die because the Trump administration refused to lead during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hard to sell the idea that we need less government. In a pandemic — must it even be said? — competent government is essential.

“And yet the notion that Democrats are taking this country down a scary path — to socialism or perhaps hell — continues to resonate with conservatives.”

My own take is that the word socialism has too many meanings and causes more confusion than enlightenment such that we would be better off if we simply dropped the word from our discourse.

As Americans die because the Trump administration refused to lead during the pandemic, it's hard to sell the idea that we need less government.