Tuesday, December 7, 2021

If the U.S. Experienced Another Pearl Harbor, Republicans Would Blame Biden

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I'll leave it to historians to dig into the context and outcome of that infamous event. Instead, I find myself wondering what would happen if the United States experienced something similar today. 

Of course, there is not a war raging all over Europe. But the world remains a dangerous place. As I write, the Biden administration is working furiously to stop what appears to be yet another attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. Tensions are rising with China and - due to Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement, that country is justifiably playing hardball with negotiations that are attempting to stop them from developing nuclear weapons. 

I'm not comparing any of those challenges to World War II as it was raging in 1941. But were any of them to escalate into a much more serious situation, it is already clear how Republicans would respond. Instead of rallying the country around a unified response, they would blame President Biden and deepen the political divide. 

In many corners of right wing media, the set-up is already underway. As an example, the editorial board of the New York Post proclaims that: "The world is becoming more dangerous under Joe Biden." They mention the three areas of tension I noted above, making them all Biden's fault rather than holding the leaders of Russia, China, and Iran accountable.

What’s prompting such international boldness? Well, it might be no coincidence that it comes after Biden’s botched bugout from Afghanistan was broadly seen as a sign of gross incompetence and weakness. And his handling of other matters, too, domestically and internationally, has backfired (think: inflation, the southern border) so spectacularly that our enemies may see him as vulnerable.

There was a time when Republican presidents focused on our foreign adversaries as "evil." Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as the "evil empire" to keep the Cold War inflamed and Bush, Jr. talked about Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as the "axis of evil" in order to justify his global war on terror. But these days, Republicans are intent on identifying Democrats as the real threat. 

If you have any doubt that Republicans would politicize a global threat and blame Biden, I would merely point you to how they've handled the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of helping to rally the country to stop the spread of Covid - which has now resulted in more deaths than the number of Americans killed in WWII - they have politicized every preventative measure, while blaming Biden for failing to end the pandemic.

An event like the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the 9/11 attacks would not result in the kind of patriotic unity we've seen in the past. Instead of rallying around a president to tackle the threat, we'd see nothing but blame and recriminations from the right. I suspect that leaders like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are intelligent enough to know that. So if they are picking up a sign that the U.S. is vulnerable, that is more likely the source.

Monday, December 6, 2021

In a World That Seems to Have Gone Crazy, Dana Milbank Provides a Dose of Sanity

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank had the impression that news coverage of President Biden had been "unrelentingly negative." He wondered if it was just his imagination. So he worked with a team of data analysts to compare the coverage of Biden's first 11 months of 2021 to the coverage Trump got during the first 11 months of 2020. Here's what they found:

Biden began the year with a bit of a honeymoon period. But other than an uptick in June, his coverage has grown increasingly negative - ending up on par or worse than how the media covered Trump. That might make sense were it not for this:
In 2020, Trump presided over a worst-in-world pandemic response that caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths; held a superspreader event at the White House and got covid-19 himself; praised QAnon adherents; embraced violent white supremacists; waged a racist campaign against Black Lives Matter demonstrators; attempted to discredit mail-in voting; and refused to accept his defeat in a free and fair election, leading eventually to the violence of Jan. 6 and causing tens of millions to accept the “big lie,” the worst of more than 30,000 he told in office. And yet Trump got press coverage as favorable as, or better than, Biden is getting today.
Milbank didn't mince words when it came to his conclusion, writing that:
My colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy...We need a skeptical, independent press. But how about being partisans for democracy? The country is in an existential struggle between self-governance and an authoritarian alternative. And we in the news media, collectively, have given equal, if not slightly more favorable, treatment to the authoritarians.

Every American should read Milbank's entire piece. But even more importantly, honest members of the press should do so and pause to reflect on their own complicity. 

It won't surprise anyone who has actually been paying attention that, as his opening, Milbank provides some headlines from Politico to make his point:

“Let the Democratic freakout begin.”

“Dems start to face the hard questions.”

“Does the WH owe Larry Summers an apology?”

“The other big intra-Democratic fight.”

“No BIF bump for Biden.”

“White House braces for a bad CBO score.”

“ … Biden dithers …”

“Biden tries to calm nerves about 2024.”

“The case for why Biden is screwed.”

Although Milbank acknowledged that it wasn't just Politico, a journalist from that publication - Ryan Lizza - got a bit defensive on Twitter. That's when Milbank pointed to this:

Regular readers might remember that back in August I noted the sale of Politico to Germany's Axel Springer and suggested that their reporting was about to get worse. As a reminder, here is how Thomas Meany described Axel Springer's flagship publication, Bild:

The experience of reading Bild is a sugar-rush of gossip, accompanied by the clanging gong of headlines. As is traditional, scandals are designated for the front page, but in Bild’s current iteration, fear-mongering appears to be privileged over celebrity soup... 

According to the Bild worldview, the best way to counter the left is to portray its demands as totalitarian, and the best way to kill off the far right is to cannibalise its grievances.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Politico is following in Bild's footsteps. 

What makes all of this even more confounding is the way it is treated by those who claim to quantify media bias. Take a look at where AllSides places Politico.

Not only is Politico placed on the left, they have the right wing site RealClearPolitics in the center. All of the major TV network news sites, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are also on the left. CNN is either left or far left, depending on whether we're talking about straight news or opinion. That is a dream come true for Rupert Murdoch, who started Fox News with the lie that mainstream media has a liberal bias. 

When I look at things like this it makes me feel like the world has turned upside down and I am tempted to question my own sanity. That is precisely why Milbank's column is so important. It grounds us in the facts about what is actually going on. 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Democrats Don't Have to Chose Between "Defund the Police" and Being "Tough on Crime"

In their quest to win back working class voters, several liberal pundits are suggesting that Democrats need to take on the issue of the rise in violent crime. After pointing to polls showing that voters - especially people of color - see this as a major issue, the claim is that the whole "defund the police" movement that arose during the George Floyd protests is hurting the party. 

While as a slogan, "defund the police" is clearly problematic politically, it is important to keep in mind what it actually represents

Only in rare instances are liberal advocates calling for the outright elimination of police departments. Proponents by and large want to redirect some funds now spent on police forces to items such as education, public health, housing and youth services. The idea is that low-income communities would become stronger — and less in need of policing tactics — if root problems were addressed.

It is therefore important, when referring to the slogan "defund the police," to indicate whether it is being used as liberal activists meant it, or as a right wing talking point used by Republicans to lie about Democrats.

The pundits who are worried about how the slogan is affecting voters don't tend to bother with making that distinction. Instead, they pose it in the outdated false dichotomy of "tough on crime" vs "soft on crime," as we see from Ruy Teixeira.

The former UK prime minister, Tony Blair, had a very successful slogan: “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”. Democrats would be well-advised to adopt a similar approach.

Nowhere in that piece does Teixeira mention that President Biden rejected the false notion of defunding the police. He might have addressed these facts:

In his fiscal 2022 budget, Biden kept his campaign promise and proposed to more than double the funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program. Funding is provided to state and local governments to hire law enforcement officers, thus inflating the size of police departments. In Trump’s last year, $156.5 million was provided for COPS Hiring, while Biden would boost that to $388 million, Justice Department documents say. In fact, Biden would boost funding for all COPS grant programs to $651 million, up from $386 million under Trump.

Moreover, Biden announced on June 23 that he was urging cities experiencing an increase in crime to tap funds in his coronavirus relief bill “to hire police officers needed for community policing and to pay their overtime.” He added that they also “can use the funding to scale up wraparound services for the residents as well, including substance abuse and mental health services that we know will make a difference in prevention of crime.”

Interestingly enough, it was Vice President Kamala Harris who originally offered a way out of the "tough on crime," vs. "soft on crime" dichotomy. In 2008, while serving as the District Attorney of San Francisco, she published a book titled "Smart on Crime." In 2013, then-Attorney General Eric Holder took up the theme with a report titled "Smart on Crime: Reforming the Criminal Justice System for the 21st Century." It identified five goals.

  1. To ensure finite resources are devoted to the most important law enforcement priorities;
  2. To promote fairer enforcement of the laws and alleviate disparate impacts of the criminal justice system;
  3. To ensure just punishments for low-level, nonviolent convictions;
  4. To bolster prevention and reentry efforts to deter crime and reduce recidivism;
  5. To strengthen protections for vulnerable populations.
The first one is critical in that it specifically addresses an issue with policing. As David Simon pointed out so powerfully in the HBO series, The Wire, the war on drugs distorted policing with a focus on chasing after statistics that only looked "tough on crime," but were heavily weighted with minor arrests for possession and trafficking, depleting resources that otherwise could have been devoted to violent crime. 

Not too long ago, I noted that Simon had been vindicated when State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that, during the pandemic, Baltimore would no longer prosecute drug possession, prostitution, trespassing and other minor charges, to keep people out of jail and limit the spread of the coronavirus. 
And then crime went down in Baltimore. A lot. While violent crime and homicides skyrocketedin most other big American cities last year, violent crime in Baltimore dropped 20 percent from last March to this month, property crime decreased 36 percent, and there were 13 fewer homicides compared with the previous year. This happened while 39 percent fewer people entered the city’s criminal justice system in the one-year period, and 20 percent fewer people landed in jail after Mosby’s office dismissed more than 1,400 pending cases and tossed out more than 1,400 warrants for nonviolent crimes.

Following the 2016 shooting that killed five police officers in Dallas, the chief articulated the problem as it exists today, suggesting that we're asking law enforcement to do too much. 

Asking law enforcement to solve all of our problems is not only a diversion of resources. It doesn't work, but is a sure-fire way to take steps towards becoming a police state.

After four years of dog whistles from Donald Trump about being the "law and order" president followed by a racist backlash against the movement to reform policing, it is important for Democrats to be clear. We remain the party committed to reforming police abuses. But just as importantly, we reject the false notion that we have to chose between "defund the police" and being "tough on crime." Instead, we can proactively be "smart on crime."

Friday, December 3, 2021

Does McConnell Actually Care About Winning Back a Senate Majority?

Several years ago, David Roberts suggested that the GOP had become the post-truth party. 

They talk about cutting the deficit even as they slash taxes on the rich and launch unfunded wars. They talk about free markets even as they subsidize fossil fuels. They talk about American exceptionalism even as they protect fossil-fuel incumbents and fight research and infrastructure investments.

In short, Republicans have mastered post-truth politics. They’ve realized that their rhetoric doesn’t have to bear any connection to their policy agenda. They can go through different slogans, different rationales, different fights, depending on the political landscape of the moment. They need not feel bound by previous slogans, rationales, or fights. They’ve realized that policy is policy and politics is politics...The two have become entirely unmoored.

Republicans knew that if they were honest about their agenda, it would be wildly unpopular with voters. 

But something changed during Obama's presidency. As I have often suggested, that is because the Bush/Cheney administration demonstrated that Republican policies (both foreign and domestic) were an utter disaster. So they went with a policy of total obstruction. Republicans no longer had to talk about policy goals, they simply opposed everything Democrats tried to do. As Steve Benen wrote, they quit trying to govern and became the post-policy party. 

In 2014, when Republicans regained a majority in the Senate - thus controlling both houses of congress - McConnell and Boehner released a joint statement promising "to help struggling middle-class Americans who are clearly frustrated by an increasing lack of opportunity, the stagnation of wages, and a government that seems incapable of performing even basic tasks." That didn't work out so well. The leaders spent most of their time attempting to deal with the "lunatic caucus," which repeatedly attempted to shut the government down if their demands weren't met. Eventually Speaker Boehner reached an agreement with them that included his resignation. 

Donald Trump actually adopted a Newt Gingrich approach, releasing a Contract with the American Voter just prior to the 2016 election. But over the course of four years, not much of it got enacted. The one exception was tax cuts - which, contrary to Trump's promise, benefited primarily the wealthy. 

Heading into the 2020 election, the GOP decided that they wouldn't bother putting together a party platform at their convention. Instead, they simply promised to support whatever the Trump administration wanted to do.

As talk about the 2022 midterms heats up, Minority Leader McConnell has completely eschewed the idea of putting forward any policy goals. As Axios reports, he recently met with a group of donors, lobbyists, and Republican senators up for re-election. When a donor asked "what are we going to be running on to help us win," this is how McConnell responded:

Senate Republicans won't release a legislative agenda before next year's midterms, according to people who've attended private meetings with the minority leader.... Every midterm cycle, there are Republican donors and operatives who argue the party should release a positive, proactive governing outline around which candidates can rally. McConnell adamantly rejects this idea, preferring to skewer Democrats for their perceived failures.

McConnell is perfectly happy for Republicans to simply run on a platform of painting Democrats as extremists who are out to destroy our country. That is for several reasons. First of all, he has a long history of being a post-truth politician, knowing that his real agenda is still terribly unpopular with voters, as Steve Benen suggests.

[I]f Republicans bundled together some of their vague policy preferences into some kind of 2022 agenda, it'd be filled with unpopular ideas that Democrats would gladly use against them. After all, what do contemporary GOP officials want? Tax breaks for the wealthy, weaker social-insurance programs that families depend on, weaker gun laws, and a systemic effort to roll back the clock on reproductive rights, voting rights, civil rights, and environmental protections.

It's a tough sell for a party that wants to win.

Secondly, over the last decade, the ranks of Republicans in congress have gotten more and more extreme. As Boehner and McConnell found out following the 2014 midterms, the party seems to have lost its ability to govern and might actually function better in the minority.  

Finally, McConnell spent the four years of Trump's presidency passing tax cuts for his wealthy donors and stacking the courts with conservative extremists. Regardless of what happens in elections, the latter is how he plans to secure his legacy. Actual governing be damned. 

It almost makes you wonder whether McConnell cares about winning back a senate majority.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

On the Supreme Court, Ingraham Says the Quiet Part Out Loud

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case pits the one remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi against the state's attempt to ban abortions after 15 weeks. I usually counsel against predicting Supreme Court rulings at this stage, but it is clear that, with this one, the only remaining question is whether the court will gut Roe vs Wade or completely overturn it.

During a discussion about this case with Senator Ted Cruz on Wednesday evening, Fox News host Laura Ingraham said the quiet part out loud.  

Ingraham not only talked about all of the money that's been raised to stack the court with these six extremist judges, she specifically mentioned the Federalist Society. Her reference to the six justices aligns with what Sotomayor said after stating the fact that the sponsors of the Mississippi bill in question said that they were doing it because they have new justices.

The stench Sotomayor is talking about won't just be about public perception of the Supreme Court. It will also emanate from the fact that dark money has been used by people like McConnell and Leonard Leo at the Federalist Society to stack the courts. 

The fact is that the six justices being referenced: Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, were all shepherded onto the Supreme Court by Leo, so he's been at this for years. In 2019, investigative reporters at the Washington Post documented the trail of dark money he has tapped into in order to "remake the nation's courts." Similarly, during Barrett's confirmation hearings, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse gave a master class on how it all works. 

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to his own role in stacking the courts as his "most consequential political accomplishment." It isn't just that he denied a sitting president the ability to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court, he pretty much gutted the ability for the Senate to function as a legislative body and focused all of his efforts on what he called the "judge project."

It is important for all of us to understand why McConnell, Leo, and all of their dark money donors have focused on stacking the courts. As I've documented previously, Leo is a leader of what might be called the Catholic version of Christian nationalism. Five of the six justices he has shepherded onto the Supreme Court are Catholic. The one exception is Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic but attended an Episcopal church after he married an Anglican. As such, all six seem poised to rule in favor of right wing culture warriors when it comes to things like reproductive rights and marriage equality. 

It seems clear that McConnell has no particular interest in culture wars, except to exploit them for his own interests. His long-term association with dark money donors tells us where those interests lie. During his presentation at the Barrett confirmation hearings, Sen. Whitehouse said that he had reviewed 80 Supreme Court cases since John Roberts became the Chief Justice that all had these things in common:

  1. They were decided 5-4
  2. The 5-4 decision was partisan, with Roberts and the four justices nominated by Republicans in the majority 
  3. There was an identifiable Republican donor interest in the case
In every case, the Republican donor interest prevailed. All of those cases were about power, Whitehouse explained, noting that they generally fit into four categories.
  1. Allowed unlimited and dark money in politics
  2. Knocked the civil jury system down
  3. Weakened regulatory agencies
  4. Suppressed the vote
So in addition to the culture wars, that's the agenda for stacking the courts with conservative extremists. 

Since judges are appointed for a lifetime, this is their way to ensure that their agenda continues to dominate, regardless of the outcome of elections. As Zachary Roth pointed out in his book The Great Suppression, it is all based on something called "judicial engagement."
Judicial engagement turns the whole concept of judicial restraint (something we used to hear a lot about from conservatives) on its head. It suggests that, rather than giving the benefit of the doubt to the elected branches of government, judges should strike down laws that they think violate the Constitution. We saw that most notably with their attempts to eliminate Obamacare. But as Roth explains, the deeper issue at work here is to elevate property and economic rights to be on par with other rights, like free speech. The goal is to strike down laws that regulate business or protect workers in favor of “liberty” for corporations. Or as Roth puts it: “All of a sudden activist judges are the last line of defense against the mob.”

In other words, it is yet another way that conservatives are attempting to undermine democracy. Overturning Roe vs Wade is simply step one in that process.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

How the GOP Became the Party of Selfishness

Living through the Covid-19 pandemic, one thing that has stood out to me is the selfishness of right wingers. From day one back in 2020, they failed to grasp that a pandemic is a community event that requires us to not only take care of ourselves, but to be concerned about each other. For example, wearing masks has limited effect in protecting us from catching Covid, but is mainly recommended as a way to avoid passing it on to others. In response, right wingers oppose wearing a mask because it supposedly limits their own "freedom." That is the definition of selfishness.

All of this is especially troubling in that it often comes from those who claim to follow Jesus. When asked which was the greatest commandment, he said it was to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." He went on to say that the second greatest commandment was to "love thy neighbor as thyself.”

But the truth is that the kind of selfishness we're seeing has been baked into conservative ideology for a long time now under the guise of worshiping individualism. At it's root, it is a rejection of democracy. For example, Marshall Ganz once summarized what Alexis De Tocqueville found when he visited our fledging democracy back in the 1830's.

[H]e saw that we had learned that choices a few people make about how to use their money could be balanced by choices many people make about how to use their time.

But only by joining with others could we come to appreciate the extent to which our fates are linked, gain an understanding of our common interests, and make claims on the political power we needed to act on those interests.

To avoid the kind of aristocracy that had flourished in Europe prior to our founding, self-government meant that collective action by citizens could balance the choices a few people make with their money. That is the heart of democracy, which inherently poses a threat to the power of aristocrats. 

More than any other president, it was Ronald Reagan who undermined this concept of self-government with his focus on the idea that "Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem.” With that messaging, our government was no longer "us," but a "them" that represented a problem to be conquered. That has consistently remained the underlying message of Republicans.

By now you might have forgotten that all of that became a focus during the 2012 presidential race between a community organizer and a hedge fund manager. It all started when Barack Obama said this during a campaign event in Roanoke, Virginia:

Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. 

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. 

The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

Mitt Romney and Republicans immediately jumped on the line, "you didn't build that," claiming that Obama was hostile to free enterprise. They made it the cornerstone of their convention that year.

While not naming the Republican messaging directly, Obama responded with a speech at the Democratic Convention dedicated to the idea of citizenship. 
We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk- takers, the entrepreneurs who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity that the world's ever known.

But we also believe in something called citizenship — citizenship, a word at the very heart of our founding, a word at the very essence of our democracy, the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations...

We, the people — recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only, what's in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us, together through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That's what we believe.

That builds of something Obama said during the 2008 campaign.

In a way, Obama was terribly prescient about the Republican focus on "freedom," reminding us that a focus only on "what's in it for me" is unworthy of our founding ideals.

That line  - "America is not what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us" - pretty much encapsulates the ideal of self-government as the enactment of democracy. It goes to the heart of what might be the foundational difference these days between Democrats and Republicans. 

What we have, once again, are two stories of America. One is dedicated to the uniquely American idea of "rugged individualism" that, in isolation from citizenship, leads to the kind of selfishness we've witnessed from right wingers during this pandemic. It's all about "me" and "my freedom." The other says that, in addition to that kind of individualism, we have obligations to one another and can act on those interests "together through the hard and frustrating work of self-government." As Obama said on another occasion, "the single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word 'We.' 'We The People.' 'We Shall Overcome.' 'Yes We Can.'" 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Exhausted Majority

On November 8, 2016, many of us were shocked that Donald Trump prevailed in the Electoral College and became the 45th president of the United States. For the next four years, we absorbed one shock after another. They came so fast that sometimes it was impossible to react to all of them, but we watched a POTUS do things like lie over 20,000 times, claim there were good people on both sides of a white supremacist rally, suggest that the previous administration had tapped his phones, refer to black and brown immigrants as coming from "shithole" countries, separate families who were seeking asylum, ignore a pandemic, and suggest that perhaps we should inject bleach into our veins. It all ended with an orchestrated coup to overturn an election. 

An overused meme these days is to say something controversial and then suggest that we "let that sink in." For most of us, Trump's presidency was so shocking that we still can't let it all sink in. 

Nevertheless, we elected Joe Biden as president and gave Democrats bare majorities in both the House and Senate. But armed with a right wing media network, Republicans continue to send shock waves into the body politic. For example, the premier propaganda channel, Fox News, has fully embraced the white supremacist great replacement theory, Republicans are combating every effort to get Covid under control, local elected officials (particularly school board members) have been physically threatened, and a young man who killed two protesters is being hailed as a hero.

Frankly, for those of us who live in the reality-based world, our shock absorbers have been been tested on almost a daily basis and it is exhausting. As a result, on one side of the political divide are the collective narcissists who, after decades of fear-mongering, live in a constant state of hyper vigilance. On the other side is an exhausted majority. Dan Rather recently wrote about the latter.

We get to a point where the exhaustion is itself exhausting. And I firmly believe that the forces who seek to undermine our society, who seek to pit us against each other for their cynical gain, see exhaustion as a potent weapon at their disposal. The more exhausted people who care about solving difficult challenges become, the more uncertain success in these endeavors becomes. And I suspect many of you sense this as well. And find it exhausting.

The message to those of us who are feeling exhausted is that, while vigilance is necessary, it is critical that we occasionally take a break because "resilience is a perspective that requires rest as well as determination."

It is also helpful to understand what's going on because our addiction to bothsiderism would suggest that people on either side of the political divide are the same. But that's not the case. Those of us who rely on science, reason, and logic are not reacting out of fear, which is the "juice" that drives collective narcissists. 

Even more importantly, we're not the ones garnering headlines in a media environment that is driven by instant reaction and outrage. That creates the impression that our voices don't matter and the shock troops are winning. But I don't believe that's the case. As an example, I could point to the fact that right wingers got all of the attention in the run-up to the 2017 elections, primarily with their threats to school boards. But according to Ballotpedia, they lost 72% of the school board races they contested nationally. Similarly, anti-vaxers are the ones making headlines, but 70% of adults have had at least one shot and 60% have been fully vaccinated.

Among the exhausted majority are those who simply expected Biden to fix everything immediately because the impression they get from news stories is that he has the power to do so. For example, here is Dan Balz at the Washington Post writing about Biden's "failure" when it comes to the pandemic.

Biden’s hope to vaccinate the overwhelming majority of the population has fallen short, leaving a patchwork of vaccinated and unvaccinated states and regions within states. Political divisions over the president’s policies, particularly his vaccine requirement for many companies, are worse than ever...After a premature claim by the president in July that the pandemic was mostly behind us and that people would soon have their freedom back, the delta variant struck hard. Now reality has taken hold.

Here's what the president actually said in July:

Two hundred and forty-five years ago, we declared our independence from a distant king. Today, we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus...

Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19 is — has not been vanquished. We all know powerful variants have emerged, like the Delta variant, but the best defense against these variants is to get vaccinated.  

My fellow Americans, it’s the most patriotic thing you can do. So, please, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated, do it — do it now for yourself, for your loved ones, for your community, and for your country.

The irony is that if Biden was the tyrant right wingers claim him to be, he wouldn't have to be pleading with Americans to get vaccinated. Honest journalists would affirm that, in a democracy, a president isn't all powerful, which would lead them to report on the forces that are aligned against him (ie, Republicans).

The benefit of that kind of reporting would be that Americans would be better informed about the positions of both parties. But even more importantly, they would be more inclined to understand that real power comes from voting for those who align with our values. 

So if you are feeling exhausted, please take a break from news and politics as often as you feel the need to do so. But while Republicans try to do everything they can to make voting more difficult, it is the one thing we can't take a rest from. 

If the U.S. Experienced Another Pearl Harbor, Republicans Would Blame Biden

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I'll leave it to historians to dig into the context and outcome...