Sunday, May 22, 2022

How the Radical Right's Embrace of the Great Replacement Theory Is Tied to Overturning Roe v. Wade

There is a lot of important news coming at us pretty fast these days. But David Roberts nailed it!

The CPAC conference in Hungary comes on the heels of the two biggest stories of the last month: (1) the leak of Alito's draft demonstrating that the Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe v. Wade, and (2) the shooting in Buffalo, NY by an adherent of the great replacement theory. Speaking from Hungary, Matt Schlapp (head of CPAC) tied the two stories together.

The GOP has come up with a solution for the “great replacement” it fears is threatening to replace traditional white Republican voters with immigrants: an abortion ban...

“Roe v. Wade is being adjudicated at the Supreme Court right now, for people that believe that we somehow need to replace populations or bring in new workers, I think it is an appropriate first step to give the…enshrinement in law the right to life for our own unborn children,” [Schlapp] said...

“If you say there is a population problem in a country, but you’re killing millions of your own people through legalized abortion every year, if that were to be reduced, some of that problem is solved,” Schlapp said. 

Hungary is the European country where "the great replacement theory reigns supreme." Viktor Orban's response has been to promote "procreation not immigration." So he's been tying the two together for years now. That is the basic idea behind "The Handmaid's Tale" taking root in the 21st Century.

A lot of the stories I've seen lately tie this fascination with Orban's policies in Hungary to the fact that Tucker Carlson took his talk show on the road there last fall. Sometimes those stories acknowledge that it was one of the thought leaders of the new right - Rod Dreher - who talked Carlson into the idea. But this melding of the radical right with Orban's great replacement policies started long before that.

In March 2019, the Hungarian Embassy hosted a "Make Families Great Again" conference at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Attendees at this invitation-only even included White House special assistant Katy Talento, White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp (Matt Schlapp's wife) and several members of Congress.

The Trump Administration sent representatives to the International Conference on Family Policy that was held in Budapest in September 2019. There, Trump officials lauded Hungary’s “procreation, not immigration” policies.

But the Trump administration didn't just participate in conferences. HHS provided $5.1 million Title X family-planning funds to an organization called Obria, which aims to be a pro-life alternative to Planned Parenthood.

In 2015, Obria’s founder and current chief executive explained, “When [Europe’s] nations accepted contraception and abortion, they stopped replacing their population. Christianity began to die out. And, with Europeans having no children, immigrant Muslims came in to replace them, and now the culture of Europe is changing.” She warned that America is “on the same track as Europe” and that “[i]n only two of the past 40 years have we replaced our population.”

After leaving office, former Vice President Pence got in on the action by attending the Budapest Demographic Summit last September.

Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that he is hopeful the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court created during his and President Donald Trump's administration will soon overturn abortion rights in the United States.

Pence spoke at a forum devoted to demographics and family values in Budapest, Hungary, where conservative leaders from central Europe expressed their anxieties about falling birthrates in the Western world and discussed ways to reverse the trend.

“We see a crisis that brings us here today, a crisis that strikes at the very heart of civilization itself. The erosion of the nuclear family marked by declining marriage rates, rising divorce, widespread abortion and plummeting birth rates,” Pence said.
As I've written before, this is the tie that binds the radical right's Christian nationalism, racism, and misogyny. They are making it very clear by saying it out loud and demonstrating that they're willing to destroy democracy (and, at minimum, justify violence) in their quest to implement their goals. Anyone who ignores the threat simply isn't paying attention. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Lie Embedded in Carlson's Great Replacement Theory

Following the terrorist shooting in Buffalo on Saturday, Tucker Carlson initially distanced himself from the great replacement theory that obviously motivated the shooter. But then on Tuesday night, he actually tried to turn the tables and suggest that it was Democrats who embraced the theme of replacement - I kid you not!


Here's Carlson's opening:
You've heard a lot about the great replacement theory recently. It is everywhere in the last two days and we are still not sure exactly what it is. Here's what we do know for a fact. There is a strong political component to the Democratic Party's immigration policy. We are not guessing this. We know this. And we know it because they have said so. They have said it again and again and again. 

It's almost amusing to hear him say that he's not sure exactly what the great replacement theory is all about - especially since he's talked about it over 400 times on his show. But then he claimed that the Democratic Party's immigration policy is all about replacement. Carlson goes on to provide video clips and references to articles, claiming that they make his point. 

One example will suffice to demonstrate the lie that is embedded in Carlson's claim. He points to an article by Ana Navarro from back in 2013 titled "Old, White, Straight, Male Voters Ain't What They Used to Be." Here's what she wrote:

The evidence is everywhere and starkly undeniable after the 2012 presidential race: old, white, straight, male voters just aren’t enough to win elections anymore. Mitt Romney got the highest ever percentage of these voters, and the lowest ever percentage of the minority vote. He lost. The demographic trends show that the minority vote in the United States will continue to grow in numbers and influence. Unless you are under the influence of hallucinogens, it is hard to imagine future scenarios were the Republican Party can win national elections if we do not succeed in attracting more than just the “usual suspects” to the Republican tent.

Of course, Navarro is a Republican political consultant and her take was echoed by Senator Lindsey Graham who said, "The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” But it was Jeb Bush who was the first one to sound the alarm during a 2012 interview with Joe Hagan.

Sitting down across from me, he assumes his role as party Cassandra, warning of the day when the Republicans’ failure to tap an exploding Hispanic population will cripple its chances at reclaiming power—starting in Texas, the family seat of the House of Bush.

“It’s a math question,” he tells me. “Four years from now, Texas is going to be a so-called blue state. Imagine Texas as a blue state, how hard it would be to carry the presidency or gain control of the Senate.”

Following Romney's loss to Obama in 2012, that was the prevailing "wisdom" among Republicans, as was outlined in their autopsy

In the last election, Governor Romney received just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. Other minority communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, also view the Party as unwelcoming...As one conservative, Tea-Party leader, Dick Armey, told us, "You can't call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you. We've chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home."

In other words, almost a decade ago it was Republicans who were noticing that, unless they did a better job of reaching out to Hispanics and other "minority groups," their party was doomed. 

Contrary to what Carlson suggested, the math on that is not dependent on Democrats bringing in illegal foreigners to replace white people, as the Washington Post reported back in 2018 (emphasis mine).

Experts say the main driver of diversification in the United States is the native-born Hispanic population, which grew by about 5 million from 2010 to 2016, just as the native-born white population shrank by about 400,000 over the same period, according to Census Bureau data...

“You can shut the door to everyone in the world and that won’t change,” said Roberto Suro, an immigration and demography expert at the University of Southern California...“If your primary concern is that the American population is becoming less white, it’s already too late.”

According to Pew Research, the Asian-American population is growing even faster.

Asian Americans recorded the fastest population growth rate among all racial and ethnic groups in the United States between 2000 and 2019. The Asian population in the U.S. grew 81% during that span, from roughly 10.5 million to a record 18.9 million, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, the last before 2020 census figures are released. Furthermore, by 2060, the number of U.S. Asians is projected to rise to 35.8 million, more than triple their 2000 population.

Most demographers predict that non-Hispanic white people will no longer be a majority in the U.S. in about 20 years. That cake has already been baked - regardless of what happens with immigration reform. 

Those are the facts. And short of deporting U.S. citizens (or suppressing their votes) there's nothing Tucker Carlson and his white supremacist allies can do about it. So they conjured up a lie about hordes of brown immigrants invading our country from across the southern border as a way to gin up the kind of fear that leads to violence.

On a somewhat related note, Simon Rosenberg does an excellent job of debunking the idea that Democrats are losing the Hispanic vote. He points to the fact that the Hispanic vote went from 6 million in 2000 to 16.5 million in 2020. With that, the Democratic margin went from 1.6 million more votes in 2000 to 4.6 million in 2020. As Simon suggests, "A slightly smaller slice of a bigger pie means you still have more pie. In this case lots more pie." Results in the four heavily Hispanic states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico tell the tale.

In 16 years (2004-2020) Dems have picked up 31 Electoral College votes, 6 Senate seats, 8 House seats and 3 governorships in these 4 southwestern states. These Congressional gains are the reason Dems have majorities today in the Senate and House.

With so much political commentary focused on white working class voters in the Rust Belt, that story has been almost completely overlooked, but it speaks volumes about why Republicans are so afraid of "the browning of America." 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Can Democrats Work With the "New Right" on Anti-Trust Issues?

During the 2020 presidential primary, Sen. Elizabeth Warren focused on the need to break up big tech companies. During a CNN town hall, she provided a helpful explanation for how a move like that would benefit people who shopped online at Amazon. 

As Warren talked about the need to break up Amazon, Google and Facebook, another presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, provided an important qualification.

“I don’t care if it’s Facebook, the pharma industry, even the agricultural industry. We’ve had a problem in America with corporate consolidation that is having really ill effects,” Booker said on ABC News’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.

But, Booker added, “I don’t think that a president should be running around pointing at companies and saying breaking them up without any kind of process here. It’s not me and my own personal opinion about going after folks."

That distinction is gaining even more importance as the so-called "New Right" are in the process of using government power to attack specific companies as part of their culture wars. 

For example, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis specifically targeted DisneyWorld because they spoke out against his "don't say gay" bill. He did so by passing legislation that attempts to remove their special district status. While some liberals might applaud the end result, the democratic (as opposed to fascist) approach would have been to decouple the move from the culture wars and eliminate all of Florida's 1,844 special districts - like the one covering The Villages in central Florida. 

Two of my former colleagues at the Washington Monthly recently approached the possibility of Democrats being able to work with the New Right on issues like anti-trust.

The group includes many younger conservatives who combine contempt for the usual targets of conservative bile (the media, Hollywood, universities) with a brief against the great monopolies of surveillance capitalism (Facebook, Google, Twitter), all while embracing, in many instances, a kind of white Christian identity politics. After hearing presentations from Rachel Bovard, Amanda Milius, Christopher Rufo, and other Millennials at the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, David Brooks wrote about witnessing, in the new conservative movement, a “fusing of the culture war and the class war into one epic Marxist Götterdämmerung,” and pronounced himself terrified.

Should we also be terrified? Emphatically, yes! But there are still startling points of actual and potential overlap emerging between today’s New Right and New Left.

One of those areas of potential overlap is, indeed, anti-trust legislation. But the authors failed to mention the important distinction made by Booker. To the extent that the "New Right" wants to use government to target specific institutions/corporations that don't comply with their racist, sexist, homophobic agenda, that is nothing short of fascism and must be condemned in no uncertain terms.

Senator Josh Hawley is an odious example of the threat posed by the "New Right." In an attempt to keep pace with DeSantis, the senator from Missouri has introduced a bill to strip Disney of its copyrights in a move that has been called "blatantly unconstitutional." While Hawley tried to avoid language that made it obvious he was targeting Disney, "the retroactive provision of the bill applies to any entertainment company with a market capitalization above $150 billion. Disney’s market cap is $196 billion." Hawley's public statements also make his intentions perfectly clear.

“Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists,” said Hawley, who once clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts. “It’s time to take away Disney’s special privileges and open up a new era of creativity and innovation.”

On the other hand, Hawley signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill authored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (yes, you read that right). The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would address the issue identified by Warren in the video above.

The bill prohibits dominant platforms, defined by criteria including how many users they have and their market cap, from discriminating against other businesses that rely on its services, in what’s sometimes referred to as self-preferencing.

That means, for example, Amazon could not simply decide to list its own private label products higher in its search ranking than third-party rivals’ listings. And, similarly, Apple and Google could not unfairly rank their own apps higher than rivals in their own mobile app stores. The same principle would apply to results from Google’s general search engine.

Twelve senators have signed on to co-sponsor the legislation - including six Democrats and six Republicans. It passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 16-6, with five Republicans (Grassley, Graham, Cruz, Hawley and Kennedy) voting in favor of the bill. The committee’s House counterpart has advanced a similar bill, while the Biden administration has offered support from both the Commerce and Justice Departments. With mainstream media practically salivating over the need for bipartisanship, it is unfathomable to me why this piece of legislation is being almost completely ignored. It's a pretty BFD (as POTUS might say).

What Klobuchar's bill demonstrates is that there are places where the so-called "New Right and New Left" can work together. As odious as some of those Republican senators might be, if they want to sign on to legislation drafted by Democrats to address anti-trust issues...fine by me. 

But make no mistake - we'll fight them every step of the way on their attempts to manipulate this issue in order to "Orbanize" our democracy.  

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Alito's Embrace of Junk Science Will Make Several Forms of Contraception Illegal

The potential that Roe vs Wade will be overturned by the Supreme Court in a few weeks has led to a lot of speculation about what comes next. All of the possibilities need to be taken seriously, but when it comes to the radical right going after contraceptives, that move is actually already underway - and the path was laid by Justice Samuel Alito's embrace of junk science in the Hobby Lobby case. 

If you remember, Hobby Lobby claimed a religious exemption to the Obamacare mandate that companies provide coverage of birth control in their health care plans. But it wasn't all forms of birth control they objected to.

The Affordable Care Act says that employer-provided insurance must include essential health benefits, including all medically authorized forms of contraception. The owners of Hobby Lobby objected to this requirement, because they believe that four common forms of birth control—two versions of the “morning-after pill” and two kinds of intrauterine devices (IUDs)—are “abortifacients.” In other words, the owners of Hobby Lobby think these contraceptives end pregnancies rather than prevent them. And they believe that is tantamount to ending a life.

To understand what's going on with that it is important to know that, for many on the radical right, "life" begins at the moment an egg is fertilized. It takes about a week for the fertilized egg to implant in the uterus, which is when the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) says that pregnancy begins. That is because most fertilized eggs naturally fail to implant in the uterus on their own.

The owners of Hobby Lobby claimed that the four forms of birth control they didn't want to cover (Plan B, Ella, hormonal IUDs, and copper IUDs) are abortifacients because they prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. That is a perfect example of junk science

[B]oth Plan B and ella work primarily by preventing ovulation; they can work for up to five days after sex, because sperm can survive in a woman’s body for that long. Both the hormonal and copper IUDs work primarily by preventing sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. Of all these methods, only the copper IUD, when used as an emergency contraceptive, appears capable of preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. However, even then it would not be considered an abortion under standard medical and legal definitions.
Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, which included this statement:
[W]e must decide whether the challenged…regulations substantially burden the exercise of religion, and we hold that they do. The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients.
Alito went on to write that these four contraceptive methods “may have the effect of preventing an already fertilized egg from developing any further by inhibiting its attachment to the uterus." Alito didn't reach that conclusion out of ignorance of the science because, in a footnote, he acknowledged that Hobby Lobby’s religious-based assertions are contradicted by science-based findings. Nevertheless, in a conflict between religion and science, Alito went with religion.

Since Alito's draft overturning Roe was leaked, red states all over the country are resurrecting or passing legislation to outlaw abortions. It is important to note that many of them claim that life begins at fertilization - after which abortion will be illegal. And since Alito embraced junk science, he set a Supreme Court precedent that these four forms of birth control are abortifacients. So in many states, they will be illegal too. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Biden: "This Is No Longer Your Father's Republican Party"


For quite a while now, one of my takes on what's been happening with the Republican Party over the last few years is that things reached an inflection point for the GOP when Barack Obama was elected president. That is because, by the end of George W. Bush's two terms, their entire agenda - both foreign and domestic - was in shambles as a result of things like the Great Recession, two wars in the Middle East, and the debacle of the response to Hurricane Katrina. 

As a result, when Bush left office, his approval rating was historically low at 27.8. Of the previous 12 presidents, the only one who even came close was Richard Nixon, whose approval rating was 24.8 when he resigned over the whole Watergate scandal. In other words, by 2008, the Republican brand was toast.

At that point, it would have made sense for Republicans to step back and re-examine their policy priorities, just as Democrats had done after the 1972 election. But it probably wouldn't have surprised anyone if the GOP had simply doubled-down on their policy priorities with new messaging (ie, continue to be the post-truth party). They did neither. Michael Grunwald explained what they DID do:
[They held] secret meetings led by House GOP whip Eric Cantor (in December 2008) and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (in early January 2009) in which they laid out their daring (though cynical and political) no-honeymoon strategy of all-out resistance to a popular President-elect during an economic emergency. “If he was for it,” former Ohio Senator George Voinovich explained, “we had to be against it.”

The calculation GOP leaders made was that they didn't need an agenda. They would simply obstruct and fan the flames of xenophobia to discredit the country's first African American president. That's what led to Trump and the whole MAGA era. 

It's been clear for a while now that Mitch McConnell still wants to avoid adopting an actual Republican agenda. But there are two sides that are rising up in protest to put one forward. 

One the one hand, there is Senator Rick Scott's agenda that - for the most part - reasserts the failed Republican policies of trickle-down economics, destruction of the social safety net, and dog-whistle racism. Scott probably thinks that enough time has passed that voters will have forgotten what a disaster that agenda turned out to be. 

But the other Republican agenda is even worse. It is being put forward by people like Senator Josh Hawley, J.D. Vance, Tucker Carlson, and Governor Ron DeSantis. While they won't say so openly, their approach is to completely abandon the Ronald Reagan mantra about government being the problem. As I've pointed out before, they want to use government to fight the culture wars. 

Over at The Federalist, Christopher Bedford has written that J.D. Vance's victory in the Ohio Republican senate primary is a sign that what he calls "the new right" is winning against "the establishment" in the battle for control of the Republican agenda. 

[T]here are signs that together, we’re beginning to earn wins: that the rock of the permanent, institutional left-wing-revolution is showing cracks. In the past month alone, we’ve seen a bellwether American state choose an outspent New Right candidate [Vance] to run for Senate, adding a young face and new voice to conservative leadership.

We’ve seen elected politicians in Florida stand up and say, no, you won’t get corporate carve-outs and perks, and use those to attack the parents and children of our state without consequence...

And we’ve seen Senate leaders sit silently, or chuckle along with reporters, as they anticipate the New Right’s failings. We’ve seen columnists like Stephens complain that curtailing one of the world’s most barbarous abortion regimes “would be a radical, not conservative, choice.”

That’s not surprising, though. These men aren’t actually conservatives: they’re simple institutionalists. And in an age where America’s institutions — her colleges and universities, corporate media, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, hospitals and medical associations, Pentagon, Hollywood, children’s entertainment — are dominated by the left, their acquiescing makes them what M. Stanton Evans derisively called “silent partners in the work of destruction”; “silent partners” in the left’s permanent revolution.

I suspect that Bedford is right - the "new right" is winning this battle. And while, as a Democrat I don't have a dog in this fight, it is important to keep in mind that our democracy is threatened by the side that is openly embracing the tactics used by Viktor Orban in Hungary.

When President Biden said that this is no longer your father's Republican Party, he was absolutely right. So was David Frum when he wrote that "If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy." That is the path the GOP is choosing today...as we speak.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The Only Way to Fight Back Against a Radicalized Supreme Court

My head is swirling with reactions to the leaked draft of Justice Samuel Alito's ruling that, if legitimate, with overturn Roe vs. Wade. While it's likely that some of the wording might get changed before a final version is released by the court, I don't think there's much doubt that four justices are prepared to join Alito's draft. 

One of my reactions is to note that a lot of people are suggesting that those of us who are pro-choice must organize to protect women's reproductive freedom. But if Alito's draft - which specifically sends this issue back to the states - is legitimate, it's too late for that, as the Guttmacher Institute previously pointed out.

If Roe were overturned or fundamentally weakened, 22 states have laws or constitutional amendments already in place that would make them certain to attempt to ban abortion as quickly as possible...

By the time the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the Mississippi case, there will be nine states in this group with an abortion ban still on the books from before Roe v. Wade, 13 states with a trigger ban tied to Roe being overturned, five states with a near-total abortion ban enacted after Roe, 11 states with a six-week ban that is not in effect and one state (Texas) with a six-week ban that is in effect, one state with an eight-week ban that is not in effect and four states whose constitutions specifically bar a right to abortion. Some states have multiple types of bans in place.

In those 22 states, it would take affirmative legislation to strike down those bans in order to protect a woman's right to chose. Given that they are all either red or swing states, that isn't going to happen. So if you live in one of them, women's reproductive rights will be gone once Alito's opinion is released. There are an additional four states that, given their political composition and history, are likely to ban abortion as soon as possible.

So to be completely clear, we will NOT be in a position to "protect" women's reproductive rights, but to fight to get them back. That is a monumental shift that we all have to grapple with. 

Given the current make-up of the Supreme Court with its lifetime appointments, the place to fight back won't be in the courts. That is why this part of President Biden's reaction to the leaked draft is so important:
[I]f the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November. At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.

To bolster that argument, it is important to remember how we got here. Ever since Barack Obama was elected president, Mitch McConnell's plan has been to abuse the filibuster to obstruct the passage of legislation. Even when Republicans were in the majority and Trump was president, McConnell was content to neuter congress on pretty much everything other than tax cuts for his wealthy donors.

Meanwhile, the Republican leader of the senate set out to stack the courts. We all watched as he cynically refused to even hold hearings (much less a vote) on Obama's nominee. That wasn't because of some issue with Merrick Garland. Republicans like the late Senator Orrin Hatch had previously claimed that Garland would be a consensus nominee before Obama chose him. Instead, it was a blatant attempt to stack the court with extremist conservatives, which McConnell went on to claim as his "most consequential political accomplishment."

What we're now faced with is a neutered congress and an empowered Supreme Court. That is exactly what McConnell's plan was all about and we're now experiencing the disastrous consequences of that strategy.

Given that it will takes years (and possibly even decades) to rebalance the court, the one way to fight back is to ensure that pro-choice Democrats keep their majority in the House and make significant gains in the Senate. Since gaining a 67-seat majority is unlikely, the goal should be to elect Democrats who are willing to overturn the filibuster and pass legislation that restores women's reproductive freedom. 

The fact is that every election in every state will be critical, including those for governor and state legislators. That is because Alito's draft makes it clear that overturning Roe is just the beginning of what this Supreme Court will attempt to do. He claims that, while the Due Process Clause in the 14th Amendment (on which the Roe decision was based) might guarantee some rights that aren't mentioned explicitly in Constitution, such rights have to be "deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition." That is a terrifying position.

In other words, all of the blood, sweat, and tears that have been spilled over the years in order to build "a more perfect union" could be sent down the drain by this group of extremists on the Supreme Court. That is the gauntlet that has been thrown down by the radical right at this moment in time. It is what will be on the ballot in every election going forward - starting with this November - as long as they hold a solid majority on the Supreme Court.

The Republican reaction to this news provides a slight glimmer of hope. Rather than celebrating the seeming demise of Roe, they are entirely focused on ginning up outrage over the leak of Alito's draft. In other words, they're signaling that, coming six months prior to the midterms, this ruling is very likely to upset the dynamics that had them counting the days until they won majorities. It is now incumbent on us to ensure that their newly-found concern is justified.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Orbanization of the Republican Party

I was glad to see that Zack Beauchamp made the same connection between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Hungarian President Viktor Orban that I made a few days ago. This is a story that should be front and center in our political discussion today. 

DeSantis, who has built a profile as a pugilistic culture warrior with eyes on the presidency, has steadily put together a policy agenda with strong echoes of Orbán’s governing ethos — one in which an allegedly existential cultural threat from the left justifies aggressive uses of state power against the right’s enemies.

Most recently, there was DeSantis’s crackdown on Disney’s special tax exemption; using regulatory powers to punish opposing political speech is one of Orbán’s signature moves. On issues ranging from higher education to social media to gerrymandering, DeSantis has followed a trail blazed by Orbán, turning policy into a tool for targeting outgroups while entrenching his party’s hold on power...
Orbán’s political model has frequently employed a demagogic two-step: Stand up a feared or marginalized group as an enemy then use the supposed need to combat this group’s influence to justify punitive policies that also happen to expand his regime’s power.

Beauchamp does a good job of making a direct connection between the moves by DeSantis on LGBTQ issues, higher education, social media, and gerrymandering to policies implemented by Orban in Hungary. But he left out Orban's "procreation, not immigration" policies." 

Hungary’s “procreation, not immigration” policies have their roots in “replacement theory.” This doctrine holds that white women are not producing enough babies and Christian, western civilizations will be “replaced” through the twin forces of falling birth rates and increasing immigration. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, for example, has argued that “there are political forces in Europe who want a replacement of population” and has vowed to fight those who want “an exchange of populations, to replace the population of Europeans with others.”

In case you're wondering where that one is headed in this country, take a look at this Ohio state legislator talk about the "opportunity" presented by forcing a woman to give birth when the pregnancy is a result of rape. 

While Beauchamp does suggest that this "Orbanization" of American politics isn't limited to DeSantis, he doesn't really address the depth of the way it has been embraced on the right. However, almost a year ago Ben Rhodes outlined the steps Orban took in Hungary to consolidate his power. A lot of this is going to sound very familiar.

In his first term, [Orban] systematically worked to remold Hungary’s democratic institutions. Parliamentary districts were redrawn to benefit Fidesz [Orban's party]. Ethnic Hungarians outside the country were given the right to vote. The courts were methodically packed with right-wing judges. Fidesz’s cronies were enriched and, in turn, members of the business elite funded Orbán’s politics. The government constructed a massive propaganda machine, as independent media were bullied and bought out and right-wing media were transformed into quasi state-media. Whereas Fidesz once had a foreign policy formed in opposition to Russian dominance, Orbán embraced Vladimir Putin and courted Russian investment and the corruption that went along with it...

[T]o justify his efforts, Orbán has skillfully and relentlessly deployed a right-wing populism focused on the failings of liberal democracy and the allure of an older national story: Christian identity, national sovereignty, distrust of international institutions, opposition to immigration, and contempt for politically correct liberal elites. Smash the status quo. Make the masses feel powerful by responding to their grievances...

After his first reelection, Orbán’s focus on the persecution of his enemies intensified. Political opponents, civil society, and independent media have learned to live with various forms of harassment, including ceaseless disinformation and legal threats. Hungary completed a fence to keep migrants out. Conspiracy theories about Soros evolved into a campaign used to justify everything, including onerous restrictions on civil society and sham investigations. Corruption mushroomed and became a backdrop of Hungary’s government spending. Hungary’s historical sins—including complicity in the Holocaust—were whitewashed, as prominent statues and revised curricula rooted Hungary’s future in right-wing aspects of its past.
The structural changes to Hungary’s democracy enabled this: Orbán was elected to a third term in 2018 with less than half the popular vote, yet he presides over all of Hungary’s levers of power like a colossus.

While DeSantis might want to quietly implement Orbanism in Florida as a stepping stone to the White House, National Conservatives are openly touting it as a way to ramp up the so-called "culture wars." Nine months ago Tucker Carlson traveled to Hungary and paid homage to Orban. In less than a month CPAC - America’s most prominent conservative gathering - will hold a conference in Budapest with Orban as the keynote speaker. In other words, the Orbanization of the right is not a secret. It is precisely where the Republican Party in this country is headed. The threat could not be more clear.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

For Those Who Are Tired, Frustrated, and Discouraged

Molly Jong-Fast has done us all a favor by identifying what made the speech by Michigan State Senator Mallory McMarrow so powerful. Unfortunately the title - "Democrats Need to Stand Up for Themselves" - didn't do her piece justice because her analysis went much deeper than it implies.

McMorrow proved that rebuttal can be done effectively—and she succeeded because her rebuke rested on a personal narrative.
Here's the advice Jong-Fast got from McMarrow:
Whatever your personal story is, tell it. Don’t lead with a long policy paper. People vote for people that they trust, and you have to build that trust first, and you don’t do that with a policy paper. You do that with a story about who you are and who they are and what you have in common.

I'm going to drop the speech in here so that you can listen to it again to see how McMorrow did that. 

In writing this piece, Jong-Fast took her own advice and told the story about why McMorrow's words resonated with her personally.
I learned it myself in 1997, in the Lily unit of Hazelden Rehab, in Center City, Minnesota. I was a 19-year-old drug addict trying to kick cocaine and alcohol and everything else. I showed up at Hazelden wearing heavy, dark eye makeup, my bag filled with controlled substances, convinced that no one had ever felt the way I felt. The next four weeks in Minnesota taught me the power of narrative, because the stories I heard from the other people there saved my life. Again and again, people told me their stories, and again and again, I related to their loss, their hardship, their loneliness...It was these stories that convinced me that I could get sober too. And I did. I’m not sure I could have without the power of the first-person narrative.

The first time I remember thinking about the power of stories was back in the 1970's when I read a couple of novels by the Catholic priest, Andrew Greeley. I was just beginning to think through some of the questions I had about religion and the stories he told resonated with me at an incredibly deep, powerful level. When criticized for his writing, Greeley responded by saying that there is a reason why, in the New Testament Gospels, Jesus rarely engaged in discussions about theology with the Pharisees. Instead, he told them parables. 

In 2008, when I became fascinated by Barack Obama's presidential campaign, I began reading about Marshall Ganz, who had been hired to develop "Camp Obama." Ganz, who teaches community organizing at Harvard, learned his craft by being involved in the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi and then with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in California. He writes and lectures on the topic of why stories matter.

 

To summarize, I'm going to start where Ganz ends.
Paul Tillich taught us that the work of justice requires power, and for power to become justice requires love. All three are intimately related. We cannot turn our love into justice without engaging power. Justice is not achieved without struggle. It’s not achieved without mobilizing power. Organizing is about mobilizing power.
In a world of inertia and cynicism, how do we mobilize power in the fight for justice? 
The difference in how individuals respond to urgency or anxiety (detected by the brain’s surveillance system) depends on the brain’s dispositional system, the second system in the brain, which runs from enthusiasm to depression, from hope to despair. When anxiety hits and you’re down in despair, then fear hits. You withdraw or strike out, neither of which helps to deal with the problem. But if you’re up in hope or enthusiasm, you’re more likely to ask questions and learn what you need to learn to deal with the unexpected.

But you can't just go around telling people to be hopeful. We do that by telling stories. 

A story communicates fear, hope, and anxiety, and because we can feel it, we get the moral not just as a concept, but as a teaching of our hearts.
Interestingly enough, Ganz says that storytelling is natural for all of us, but we go to school to learn how to NOT tell stories. So sometimes we have to get back to the basics of how we've been motivating each other for centuries. He also says that when we start conversations by talking about issues, that is what divides us. Our stories are what unite us and lay the groundwork for discussions about issues. 

It was Ganz who first explained to me why the speech Barack Obama gave at the 2004 Democratic Convention resonated so profoundly with the people of this country. As another example, I'd point to an exchange between Joe Biden and Rev. Anthony Thompson that took place at a town hall in Charleston, South Carolina right before the 2020 primary in that state. Conventional wisdom is that Biden's overwhelming victory two days later can be attributed to an endorsement from Rep. Jim Clyburn. I would suggest that this response played a major role.

 

Senator McMorrow is part of a long tradition of people who have used their own personal story as a way to mobilize power in the fight for justice. She's still at it.

Personally, I'd like to thank her for reminding me of the power of story and for sending out a dose of hope to those of us who've been feeling tired, frustrated, and discouraged. If you need a little more, here's a story that might be just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

National Conservatives Are Openly Embracing Fascism to Fight the Culture Wars

I didn't initially write about Governor DeSantis signing the bill to punish Disney World because I wasn't sure exactly what was going on. What confused me went beyond the headlines to items like this tucked away at the end of articles about the legislation.

“Nothing is going to happen,” said Jason Pizzo, a Democrat who represents the state’s 38th Senate district, during the special session Wednesday. “Everyone in this room knows this is not going to happen."

The revocation of Disney's special district doesn't go into effect until next summer and obviously there are those who know the details and are suggesting that this is nothing more than another performative stunt being pulled by a Republican governor. In other words, DeSantis gets to brag about being a true fighter in the culture wars, but the receipts never come due.

But then I started reading about those on the right who are referring to themselves as "national conservatives" (NatCons). In writing a taxonomy of that group, Matthew Continetti describes them as "post-liberals."

The post-liberals say that freedom has become a destructive end-in-itself. Economic freedom has brought about a global system of trade and finance that has outsourced jobs, shifted resources to the metropolitan coasts, and obscured its self-seeking under the veneer of social justice. Personal freedom has ended up in the mainstreaming of pornography, alcohol, drug, and gambling addiction, abortion, single-parent families, and the repression of orthodox religious practice and conscience...

The post-liberals say that the distinction between state and society is illusory. They argue that, even as conservatives defended the independence of civil society from state power, the left took over Hollywood, the academy, the media, and the courts. What the post-liberals seem to call for is the use of government to recapture society from the left.

For all the talk of "freedom" on the right, these folks don't think that's a good thing. Continetti wrote that the elected official who best captures this thinking is Sen. Josh Hawley, pointing to a commencement speech he gave at Kings College in 2019.

For decades now our politics and culture have been dominated by a particular philosophy of freedom. It is a philosophy of liberation from family and tradition; of escape from God and community; a philosophy of self-creation and unrestricted, unfettered free choice.
Hawley actually made the twisted argument that being free to define one's self leads to hierarchy and elitism...I kid you not!

According to these folks, it is imperative that the government be used to "recapture society from the left" in order to address all of the ills brought about by both economic and personal freedom. 

About the time Hawley gave that speech there was a dust-up between Never Trumper David French and NatCon Sohrab Ahmari that was all about shaping the post-Trump conservative movement and the GOP. The position of Ahmari and his cohorts is that conservatives like French have been too "civil" in the culture war

Yes, the old conservative consensus paid lip service to traditional values. But it failed to retard, much less reverse, the eclipse of permanent truths, family stability, communal solidarity, and much else. It surrendered to the pornographization of daily life, to the culture of death, to the cult of competitiveness. It too often bowed to a poisonous and censorious multiculturalism.

Ahmari's alternative is "to fight the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good."

James Pogue recently published a piece about attending the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando last fall (which is where Hawley gave his speech on the threat to masculinity). In it, he describes some of the leaders of this movement. The billionaire funder is Peter Thiel, who once wrote that he no longer believes that "freedom and democracy are compatible." The so-called "intellectuals" are people like Curtis Yarvin, and, or course, Ahmari. Here's part of how Pogue described the "thinking" of Yarvin:

[T]he way conservatives can actually win in America, he has argued, is for a Caesar-like figure to take power back from this devolved oligarchy and replace it with a monarchical regime run like a start-up. As early as 2012, he proposed the acronym RAGE—Retire All Government Employees—as a shorthand for a first step in the overthrow of the American “regime.” What we needed, Yarvin thought, was a “national CEO, [or] what’s called a dictator.” Yarvin now shies away from the word dictator and seems to be trying to promote a friendlier face of authoritarianism as the solution to our political warfare: “If you’re going to have a monarchy, it has to be a monarchy of everyone,” he said.

Thiel is currently bankrolling the senate candidacies of his former COO Blake Masters in Arizona and J.D. Vance in Ohio. Because Vance wanted to talk off the record, Pogue retrieved this from a podcast interview Vance had done with Jack Murphy, the head of the Liminal Order men’s group.

“I tend to think that we should seize the institutions of the left,” he said. “And turn them against the left. We need like a de-Baathification program, a de-woke-ification program.”...

“And when the courts stop you,” he went on, “stand before the country, and say—” he quoted Andrew Jackson, giving a challenge to the entire constitutional order—“the chief justice has made his ruling. Now let him enforce it.”

As an example of what Vance is referring to, he once talked with Tucker Carlson about seizing the assets of charitable groups like the Ford Foundation. Of course, doing that to institutions simply because they are on the other side of the culture wars would be, at minimum, unconstitutional, and perhaps even a crime. So ominously, Vance suggested that he would simply ignore the courts.

All of this shines a whole new light on what DeSantis is doing to Disney World. He seems to have lined up with the National Conservatives. It's also in line with what 18 Republican House members did to threaten Twitter's board when they initially balked at accepting Elon Musk's offer to buy the company. 

Charles Sykes is absolutely right that none of this has anything to do with populism. But it also isn't simply about grievance. It is about turning what we've come to casually refer to as "culture wars" into an actually war for power. Jonathan Chait got this one right.

This is one way rulers like Orban and Putin hold power. It is a method that, until quite recently, would have been considered unthinkable in the United States. That bright line has been obliterated.

While the National Conservatives have quieted down their admiration for Putin since he began his genocidal campaign in Ukraine, they're openly touting their admiration for Viktor Orban. Here's Rod Dreher, one of the leading voices of NatCons.

The call now among some Republican commentators for the state to take action against Disney, to revoke its special privileges on copyright to retaliate for its indoctrination of American children, is a pure Orban move. We need to see more of it. Republicans have been so prostrate before Big Business that they have sat there like idiots while Woke Capitalism organizes to turn conservative values of faith and the traditional family into pariahs among the young. Either we on the Right will learn from Viktor Orban how to use politics to fight this, or we will be defeated.

As I've mentioned before, I don't tend to be an alarmist. But in my 60+ years on this planet I never would have envisioned that we'd be hearing fascist talk like this coming from politicians and political commentators in the United States of America. It is terrifying. If you're not seeing the makings of Gilead from The Handmaid's Tale, then you're not paying attention. 

It is beyond time for all of us to take stock of what is happening in our country. We must stand up, speak out, and vote like our lives depended on it...because they do! 

Friday, April 22, 2022

The Radical Right Understands That Children Must Be Carefully Taught

It's a bit ironic that, during his speech at the 2021 CPAC Conference, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis touted the "business friendly" environment in his state and railed against "cancel culture." Since then, he's passed the "don't say gay" bill, punished DisneyWorld - the biggest employer in the state - for having LGBTQ-friendly policies, and banned math textbooks from Florida schools. The word hypocrisy is totally inadequate at a moment like this. 

But I'd like to further explore that last one about math textbooks. After mentioning something called Social Emotional Learning, here's what DeSantis said in defense of his actions.

You know, math is about getting the right answer and we want kids to learn to think so they get the right answer. It’s not about how you feel about the problem or to introduce some of these other things.

Reporters at Popular Information and the New York Times were able to identify and review some of the banned textbooks and both came to the same conclusion. None of them contain critical race theory (they hardly even mention race), but most of them incorporated Social Emotional Learning (SEL) into their math lessons. 

The attacks on public schools we've been hearing about have to do with CRT and gender/sexual orientation issues, but for the radical right, SEL has become a major target. It is described as "a trojan horse for indoctrination" and a "vehicle for anti-white racism." Of course, Christopher Rufo has been all over this one.

In a March interview conducted over email, Mr. Rufo stated that while social-emotional learning sounds “positive and uncontroversial” in theory, “in practice, SEL serves as a delivery mechanism for radical pedagogies such as critical race theory and gender deconstructionism.”

“The intention of SEL,” he continued, “is to soften children at an emotional level, reinterpret their normative behavior as an expression of ‘repression,’ ‘whiteness,’ or ‘internalized racism,’ and then rewire their behavior according to the dictates of left-wing ideology.”

So what is SEL? Here is how CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) defines it:

SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

They define five core skills students should develop: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness and relationship building. CASEL also points out that "more than 20 states have adopted K-12 SEL competencies and all 50 have adopted pre-K SEL competencies," which makes sense because research shows that it increases students’ academic performance by 11 percentile points.

With all of that in mind, go back and look at what DeSantis said about math simply being about "getting the right answer." Then take a look at an article by President Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Education, Bill Bennett, titled "In Education, Character as Important as Skills." As Bennett points out, character education was fully embraced by this country's founders. Interest in the topic eventually diminished. But it was the Reagan administration that revived the focus and it eventually became a bipartisan movement.

President Reagan began the fiscal race to support character education when he noted the immediate need for character education in schools. President Clinton then acted with urgency when he tripled funding for character education. More recently, President George W. Bush also asked Congress to triple dollars allocated toward character education.

As the idea of character education evolved, one of its offshoots became social emotional learning. An organization that straddled that evolution is actually named the "Center for the 4th and 5th Rs," which promotes the addition of responsibility and respect to "reading, writing, and arithmetic." One has to wonder what they think about the pronouncement by DeSantis that math is simply about getting the right answer.

So why would the radical right abandon Republican hero Ronald Reagan and make enemies of the people who want to teach children about things like self-awareness, social awareness and relationship building? The answer is clear. Any movement based on hate and fear understands that children have to be carefully taught.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Are the Majority of Americans Decent Human Beings? I Sure Hope So!

Among the most hateful crap coming from right wingers these days is the accusation that anyone standing up for LGBTQ rights is a "groomer" who supports pedophelia. That is what happened to Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow on Easter - of all days. So on Monday, she took to the senate floor and gave a speech that rocked the political world.

McMorrow said that when she first saw the attack, she sat on it and wondered "why me?" 

Then I realized...

I’m the biggest threat to your hollow, hateful scheme. Because you can’t claim that you’re targeting marginalized kids in the name of “parental rights” if another parent is standing up and saying no.

She ended by saying that "Hate wins when people like me stand by and let it happen...We will not let hate win."

It is clear that I'm not the only one who shed a few tears when I listened to her speech and felt a release from the burden of hate that has rested on all of our shoulders recently. That video has now been viewed millions of times and, apparently, small donations are pouring into McMorrow's campaign coffers. In other words, she touched a nerve. 

It reminded me of the exchange that put Beto O'Rourke on the map during his 2018 senate campaign against Ted Cruz.  

 

McMorrow and O'Rourke demonstrated what it means to be an ally when people are being targeted for persecution. I am reminded of what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said about the alternative...silence.

These days everyone has an opinion about what Democrats need to do to avoid a "shellacking" in the midterm elections. The advice spans the gamut of sticking to so-called "kitchen table issues," promoting a pet policy issue (monopolies, student loan forgiveness, etc.), moving towards the center, or firing up the progressive base. In other words, the advice is all over the map. But one thing it all has in common is that it is silent about the hate that is being inflamed by right wingers. 

When Senator McMorrow appeared on MSNBC with Jonathan Capehart, she said that she was feeling "exhausted and tired" from this kind of hate - something that many of us can relate to. But instead of retreating or ignoring it - she took in on directly. In doing so, she energized millions of us!

Today John Pavlovitz pointed us back to a piece he wrote in 2019 titled, "I’m Not The Radical Left, I’m The Humane Middle." In it he noted that he is now considered part of the "radical left" by right wingers for believing in things like women should have full autonomy over their bodies, that people shouldn’t be forced to abide by anyone else’s religion, and that people and places are made better by diversity.

Pavlovitz goes on to question how those ideas became radical when he was taught that "they were just part of being a decent human being." But here's where he agrees with McMorrow:

I don’t think I’m alone.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that most people reside here in this place alongside me: the desire for compassion and diversity and equality and justice; that these things aren’t fringe ideologies or extremist positions—but simply the best way to be human.

Oh, how I hope to god that he and McMorrow are right. If the majority of people don't agree with them, we are doomed as a democracy and as a decent country...and nothing else matters! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Right Wing's "Crisis of Masculinity" Is Part of the War on Women

I recently wrote about how the dystopian future in Margaret Attwood's book, "The Handmaid's Tale" is becoming more real every day. To explain, I noted not only the legislation in many red states to essentially ban abortions, but the way Republicans have signaled that birth control is next on the list. Even more ominous are the whispers we're beginning to hear on the right about the need for women to have more babies and the attacks on those who remain childless.

But to get a full picture of what's going on, we have to include what right wingers are saying about men these days. In case you haven't heard, they want us to believe that we are experiencing a "crisis of masculinity." 

In a speech at the National Conservatism Conference last November, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) accused the political left of seeking to redefine traditional masculinity as toxic, and called for a "revival of strong and healthy manhood in America." Rep. Madison Cawthorn took it a step further.

The guru behind this movement is, of course, Jordan Peterson.

Jordan Peterson fills huge lecture halls and tells his audiences there’s no shame in looking backward to a model of how the world should be arranged. Look back to the 1950s, he says — and back even further. He tells his audiences that they are smart. He is bringing them knowledge, yes, but it is knowledge that they already know and feel in their bones. He casts this as ancient wisdom, delivered through religious allegories and fairy tales which contain truth, he says, that modern society has forgotten.

Most of his ideas stem from a gnawing anxiety around gender. “The masculine spirit is under assault,” he told me. “It’s obvious.”

In Mr. Peterson’s world, order is masculine. Chaos is feminine. And if an overdose of femininity is our new poison, Mr. Peterson knows the cure. Hence his new book’s subtitle: “An Antidote to Chaos.”

But given the fact that many of these right wing movements begin with Tucker Carlson, it is important to note that his more recent foray into producing "documentaries" is titled, "The End of Men." It was easy to laugh at the homoerotic nature of the visuals in the trailer Carlson put out. But the message wasn't even subtle. A narrator says, “once a society collapses, then, you’re in hard times. Well, hard iron sharpens iron, as they say. And those times inevitably produce men who are tough, men who are resourceful, men who are strong enough to survive. And they they go on to reestablish order, and so the cycle begins again.”

Carlson claims that his focus is on declining levels of testosterone in men. But as Nikki McCann Ramírez told Aaron Ruper, that last line from the narrator is the real message.

Tucker is focusing on this because, for a long time, he and right-wing media as a whole have been priming the men of their audience to view themselves as enforcers of the culture wars. These viewers aren't going to rush out to the nearest testicle tanning salon and have their balls baked. They're going to have an impression that there's a crisis in the world around them and that they are the ones who need to restore order.

This isn't a new subject for Carlson. Back in 2018 he did a whole series titled "Men in America," which covered a lot of the ground now being pushed by right wingers like Hawley. 

What lurks in the shadows of much of this rhetoric is the fear that men are being "feminized" - because masculinity is strong and femininity is weak. Hence, it is men who are strong and will go on to reestablish "order" from the "chaos" created by women.

Carlson let that cat out of the bag last December while talking to Nigel Farage about Boris Johnson's flip-flopping and blamed it on the British Prime Minister's bout with COVID. Carlson said "But the virus itself, this is true, does tend to take away the life force in some people I notice. I mean it does feminize people." 

For now, let's ignore the ridiculous statement from Carlson about the effects of COVID to zero in on his claim that Johnson's flip-flops represent a "feminized" chaos. But the real gut puncher is that he equated the loss of "the life force" with being feminized. In other words, "the life force" is inherently masculine.

In case you doubt that this message is getting through to the MAGA base, the topic came up in during a discussion the New York Times had with eight conservative men.

This country has become more feminized. It’s not the way it was when I was growing up. We started off talking about how the country has a weak image. They don’t call women the weaker sex for no reason. Men are necessary to maintain a vibrant society. And we’ve been feminized.

I'll be the first one to agree that the statistics demonstrating that some men in this country are in crisis confirm that it is a serious problem. But all the data points to a completely different cause and set of solutions. 


In other words, patriarchy isn't just bad for women, it hurts men too. Just as women begin to free themselves from the kind of bondage patriarch imposes, men will have to do the same. Far be it from me to womansplain what it means to be a man, but I can't help thinking of Dustin Hoffman's line in the final scene of Tootsie: "I was a better man with you as a woman than I ever was with a woman as a man." That wasn't just a line in a movie, it is clear that playing a woman had a dramatic effect on Hoffman in real life. That is what empathy and having an open mind will do for all of us.

Men like Hawley, Cawthorn, Peterson, and Carlson want to reawaken patriarchy as a means of validating themselves and putting women back in their place. When Carlson calls on men to "man up" and restore order, he's  asking them to engage in an actual war on women - through force if necessary. You can refer to "The Handmaid's Tale" to see how that one turns out.

How the Radical Right's Embrace of the Great Replacement Theory Is Tied to Overturning Roe v. Wade

There is a lot of important news coming at us pretty fast these days. But David Roberts nailed it ! It is so wild to me that they're h...