Thursday, March 30, 2023

Disney to DeSantis and Rufo: FAFO

On February 27th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that allowed him to appoint members to the supervisory board of the the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) - which governs the land surrounding DisneyWorld. At the time, DeSantis said: "Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end. There's a new sheriff in town." Here's how Disney responded:

Jeff Vahle, the president of Walt Disney World Resort, said the company was "ready to work within this new framework, and we will continue to innovate, inspire and bring joy to the millions of guests who come to Florida to visit Walt Disney World each year."

I was a bit disappointed. It's not because I have any love lost for a major corporation like Disney. Rather, I thought that kow-towing to a fascist like DeSantis set a terrible precedent. 

So I have to admit that I giggled a bit when it was announced that Disney was going to host the Out and Equal Workplace summit in Orlando for the next two years. Billed as "the largest LGBTQ+ conference in the world," it felt like Disney was sticking it to DeSantis just a bit.

But then the really big news broke on Wednesday. I'll let Michael Hiltzik explain:

Did you really believe that Florida’s arrogant, petty, childish Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) would get the better of Walt Disney Co. in their fight over Disney’s supposed “wokeness”?

If so, you don’t know your Disney.

DeSantis handpicked a board of cronies to take over control of Reedy Creek Improvement District — the quasi-governmental entity that Disney and Florida established more than 55 years ago to control development and management of the land on which Walt Disney World, EPCOT and the company’s related enterprises are located.

DeSantis’ board has now revealed that, while they were snoozing, Disney executed an agreement with their predecessors that strips the new board of all its powers except the authority to “maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure,” according to one of the new board members.

Apparently at their meeting on February 8th (two days after the bill to replace them was introduced), the former members of the RCID supervisory board signed an agreement with Disney that basically neuters DeSantis's new board.

Of course, DeSantis's people are crying foul and have hired four law firms (yes, you read that right - 4 law firms) to challenge the agreement. 

Disney responded with a statement saying that "all agreements signed between Disney and the District were appropriate and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida's Government in the Sunshine law." In other words, the RCID board considered and approved the agreement at a public meeting. The agreement was also recorded with the Orange County Comptroller on Feb 9 - the day before the Florida legislature passed the bill. 

One can only surmise that DeSantis didn't notice what Disney and the RCID board were up to because he was too busy running around the country proclaiming that "Florida is where woke goes to die!"

But DeSantis isn't the only one that got made to look like a fool. Last November Disney fired their CEO Bob Chapek and rehired the guy who preceded him in that position, Bob Iger. I suggested that didn't bode well for DeSantis. But Christopher Rufo saw things differently and took the opportunity to write a piece titled, "Disney Retreats."

Iger is signaling that Disney is moderating its position in the culture war. As I have been saying for months, the conservative strategy was to damage Disney’s brand, make the company pay a political price, and force the company to declare neutrality.

So far, it appears that the strategy is working.

Rufo cherrypicked a few items from a town hall Iger held with Disney staff to make that claim. For example:

[I]n response to the suggestion that “many cast members had wished that Disney stayed out of politics,” Iger expressed regret. “Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not,” he said. “It can be distracting, and it can have a negative impact on the company. And to the extent that I can work to kind of quiet things down, I’m going to do that.”

Here's the video of what Iger actually said: 

Contrary to what Rufo claimed, Iger didn't talk about moving "toward neutrality in the culture war." Instead, he was making the point that some of the issues that have been considered controversial for Disney were branded "political," but he doesn't believe they are. As Iger told Chris Wallace last year, "I tweeted an opinion about the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida. To me, it wasn’t about politics. It is about what is right and what is wrong."

When it comes to Iger suggesting that he would "quiet things down," today's headline at CNN suggests he's doing just that. It reads (emphasis mine): "Disney quietly took power from DeSantis’ new board before state takeover."

As I said, I'm not one who usually celebrates victories won by major corporations. But a day that sees BOTH DeSantis and Rufo being made to look like fools is a good day. So thanks to Disney and Bob Iger. 

The other good thing to come out of all of this is that I learned what FAFO stands for (I'll let you figure it out by following the link). That - and a whole host of  other giggles at the expense of DeSantis - can be found by reading the reactions to this Twitter thread. For example, who doesn't love a good reference to The Wire?

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Movements to "perfect our union" spurred a ferocious backlash

In 2020, we elected Joe Biden as president - along with giving Democrats a majority in both the House and Senate. Then, in 2022, the so-called "red wave" never materialized. Democrats expanded their majority in the Senate and Republicans gained a small majority in the House. Just as significant is that Democrats regained a lot of territory in state legislatures. 

I keep reminding myself of all of that when the news-of-the-day seems so depressing. What is going on in red states these days is appalling, as is the fact that so much of our focus is on whether the GOP will nominate an insurrectionist or a fascist in the 2024 presidential election. What the hell is going on?

To answer a question like that it is helpful to take a step back and take a look at the big picture. That is probably why my mind keeps returning to a conversation Chris Hayes recently had with Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

As a prelude to taking a look at their discussion, it is important to keep in mind that one of the most common critiques of Coates has been that he is too pessimistic about race relations in this country. And yet, at about the 6:40 mark in the video below, Hayes asks Coates about how he sees things in our country these days.   

Coates responds by saying that he's excited and then goes on to explain why. It's because we are in a period of extreme backlash, and based on what we've seen historically, that generally happens "when the forces that would like to maintain the status quo are most afraid." For example, he says that "you can't understand Redemption without understanding Reconstruction as an actual threat."

The question then becomes: what happened recently that poses such a threat? In pondering that, I came up with this list of major events over the last 15 years:
  • 2008 - the election of Barack Obama
  • 2013 - bipartisan immigration reform bill passes the Senate
  • 2015 - SCOTUS makes marriage equality the law of the land
  • 2016 - Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote in the presidential election
  • 2017 - worldwide Women's March the day after Trump is inaugurated 
  • 2017 - Me Too movement explodes
  • 2020 - the murder of George Floyd sparks massive protests
As just one example, take a listen to the speech Oprah Winfrey gave in 2018 at the height of the Me Too Movement.

Do you think that when Oprah told the status quo defenders that "their time is up," it was taken as a threat? Do you suppose the power she claimed for women might have been the kind of thing that spurred the ferocious backlash we've seen in attempts to make the Handmaid's Tale a reality? 

Back in 2019 I wrote about "The Crisis of Belonging." Here's how I ended that piece:
In those moments when I am most deeply depressed about the Trump presidency and the state of our nation, I try to remind myself that we got to this place precisely because we were on the verge of taking the next step of “perfecting our union” by opening the doors a bit wider to announce: “you belong.” That scared a lot of people and led to the election of what Ta-Nehisi Coates called “our first white president.” As he wrote, “The foundation of Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.”

The task before us now is to decide whether we want to get back to opening those doors of belonging or succumb to the backlash.

The backlash is still raging and, to be honest, I don't know how it will end. But the one thing I DO know is that it is imperative that we all take a good hard look at what is going on and not miss seeing the forest for the trees. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Why Republicans No Longer Believe in Democracy

Seven years ago I was asked to write a review of Zachary Roth's book, "The Great Suppression." More than anything I'd read up until then, it helped me connect the dots about what was going on with the Republican Party. 

Roth documented how the race/class/gender exclusions that were originally built in to our founding were never completely abandoned by conservatives. He went on to discuss how those attachments gained currency during the Obama years.

It’s not simply because the country elected its first African American president – it’s how he won. Beginning in the 1970’s, Richard Nixon referred to the “silent majority.” Through the Reagan years we heard a lot about the “permanent Republican majority.” As Roth says, “Today’s conservatives have no such confidence that the people are on their side. In fact, they are beginning to perceive that they’re in the minority – perhaps more glaringly than ever before. And yet this realization has brought with it another more hopeful one: being outnumbered doesn’t have to mean losing.”

Back in 2016, the examples Roth used to describe the Republican strategy of suppression included the normalization of the filibuster to block progress in the Senate, voter suppression, gerrymandering, judicial engagement, and preemption. 

In case you haven't heard of that last one, it is "a legal doctrine that allows a higher level of government to limit or even eliminate the power of a lower level of government to regulate a specific issue." At the time that Roth was writing his book, examples of how Republicans were using preemption included North Carolina's infamous HB2 bill against the city of Charlotte’s ordinance affirming the rights of LGBT people and efforts to overrule minimum wage increases and paid sick leave in states like Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Michigan.

The problem for Republicans is that - even in deeply red states - urban areas are still strongly Democratic. For example, as of March 2023, 62% of the mayors of the 100 largest cities are Democrats. That includes cities like Houston, Charlotte, Nashville, Memphis, Louisville, Kansas City, Atlanta, Raleigh, New Orleans, and Norfolk. 

What's even more pronounced is that - especially in the former confederate states - many of those Democratic mayors are African American. For example, in Georgia, there are currently 19 African American mayors in cities ranging from Atlanta (population 506,000) to Keysville (population 300). 

The same thing is true for district attorneys. Notice anything in particular about the prosecutors in the picture above - Bragg, Willis, and James - who are conducting investigations of Trump?

All of this is why Sherrilyn Ifill has written an important piece titled, "The Republican Plan to Make Voting Irrelevant."

This effort—to remove powers from elected representatives who are Democrats—has become the new method of disenfranchising voters and maintaining perpetual Republican political power. And it is being undertaken with alarming frequency and speed across the country. This may be the most dangerous and efficient structural attack on our democracy. Its threat, and pernicious ingenuity, lies in its ability to make voting itself irrelevant. Voters may turn out in high numbers and elect their candidates of choice, but if the official is not one whose views align with those of the Republican Party, they may find that their powers of office are removed by antagonistic GOP-controlled legislatures.

We have seen this phenomenon most readily applied to so-called progressive prosecutors who have run successfully on platforms of criminal justice reform across the country...Indeed, bills have been filed in more than a dozen states to remove power from reform-minded prosecutors from Polk County, Iowa, to Mississippi...

Now this practice of power reallocation, as with all voter-suppression techniques first workshopped on Black communities in the South, has metastasized into a national phenomenon. Unchecked, it will make the act of voting a Potemkin exercise and upend the very concept of representative government.

What she's describing is an even more muscular form of preemption - something we haven't seen in this country since the confederate states went after the reforms of the Reconstruction era.

Similarly, Will Bunch has written that "Republicans are taking over stuff run by Black people because the GOP hates democracy." He notes that Texas Gov. Abbott is taking over Houston schools and the Mississippi legislature in considering a bill that "would take at least some of the judicial system in the Black-majority capital city, and control of the police, away from elected officials and put it into the hands of the heavily GOP statehouse." He adds that:

Increasingly, Republicans are using their control of statehouses in red America to simply override election results in blue-dot localities that they don’t like, but especially when the ballot box winners are the choice of Black and brown voters...In 2023, there is nothing subtle about the antidemocratic and arguably fascist bent of this effort

What is becoming increasingly clear is that Republicans only tolerated democracy as long as white men were the voting majority. When that is no longer the case, they move to "make the act of voting a Potemkin exercise and upend the very concept of representative government."

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Where has all the dark money gone?

A recent story by Ally Mutnick caught my eye. In the run up to the 2024 Senate elections, Republicans are looking for uber rich guys who can self-fund their campaigns. No one is going to be surprised that multi-millionaires are often aligned with GOP politics. But the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) is actively recruiting these guys for a reason.

Both parties have relied on self-funders before. But this approach has taken on increasing importance for Republicans because they failed to counter Democrats’ massive grassroots fundraising in Senate races during the past two cycles. In 2022 alone, Democratic nominees outraised Republicans by $288 million in the six closest Senate races.

This is a story I've been following for years now. While we have all heard about how the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision allowed unlimited dark money into our politics, not many of us noticed a huge development that happened in 2004.

Operating from an office just off Harvard Square, Matt DeBergalis and Ben Rahn, through the Web site they created,, have raised $32 million since it was started in 2004. They are gearing up to make good on their promise that it will raise $100 million for Democrats in this election cycle [2008].

In many ways, ActBlue has turned fund-raising on its head by exploiting the power of the Internet and small donors that was pioneered by Howard Dean and bringing it to the next generation of grass-roots supporters and online donors.

Where big-dollar fund-raising is typically done behind closed doors with well-connected bundlers and showy, costly fund-raisers, ActBlue is just the opposite. It is an Internet-based political action committee that lets Democratic candidates use their Web site as a portal to collect donations, making fund-raising cheap, and, for donors, as simple as a click of a mouse.

While ActBlue was in the initial stages of transforming the way Democratic campaigns were fundraising, Republicans placed their bets on conservative billionaires pouring millions of dollars of dark money into super PACs. In 2012, the first election after the Citizens United decision, they were successful in raising lots of money. But there was one problem with that:

A study Wednesday by the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending, concluded that Rove’s super PAC, American Crossroads, had a success rate of just 1 percent on $103 million in attack ads — one of the lowest “returns on investment” (ROIs) of any outside spending group in this year’s elections…

The American Crossroads debacle was only the most dramatic example of the limits of big money in this election, according to the Sunlight Foundation report. About $1.3 billion was spent by outside groups overall — about two-thirds on the Republican side — and for the most part their returns were equally low.

During the 2016 Republican primary, Jeb Bush was the choice for rich guys. He hauled in $120 million from outside groups. But all of that money didn't help much. Jeb bowed out after the South Carolina primary.

To understand what's happening with all of this it is important to know that individuals can give small dollar donations directly to a candidate running for office. Campaigns can use that money in any way they chose, including staff, advertising, travel expenses, GOTV efforts, etc. 

On the other hand, Super PACs can't give directly to a candidate, nor are they allowed to coordinate their efforts with a campaign. So they are pretty much limited to spending their money on video ads and direct-mail campaigns. Super PACs also have to pay a much higher price for television ads. In the days of cord-cutting - especially among younger voters - those ads are reaching a smaller audience every year.

Over the last decade, we've seen stories like this during every election cycle:

Politico reported last week that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told his GOP colleagues that Democrats "are kicking our ass" in fundraising, and our data shows just how right he was. The Democrats who flipped GOP-held House seats in 2018 are continuing to raise money at a pace that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, while Democratic challengers are also hauling in massive amounts.

By 2019, Republicans noticed how badly they were being hurt by this disadvantage with grassroots fundraising, so they started their own version of ActBlue that they named WinRed. Would it be a surprise to learn that their efforts are failing due to greed and fraud? Probably not. 

So now Republicans have decided to look for uber-wealthy candidates who can self-finance their own campaigns. Isn't that special?

Where is all of the dark money going these days? A lot of it shifted from political campaigns to shaping the courts - as we've seen with exposes on Leonard Leo. Now that he and his Federalist Society buddies have bought an extremist majority on the Supreme Court, here's what comes next:

Flush with money after receiving the largest-known political advocacy donation in U.S. history, conservative activist Leonard Leo and his associates are spending millions of dollars to influence some of the Supreme Court’s most consequential recent cases, newly released tax documents obtained by ProPublica and The Lever show.

The documents detail how Leo, who helped build the Supreme Court’s conservative majority as an adviser to President Donald Trump, has used a sprawling network of opaque nonprofits to fund groups advocating for ending affirmative action, rolling back anti-discrimination protections and allowing state legislatures unreviewable oversight of federal elections.

In other words, they bought a Supreme Court majority - now it's time to use it. 

As ProPublica documented, Leo is also funding a private and confidential conservative group - Teneo - whose goal is to "crush liberal dominance" in a country plagued by “woke-ism” in corporations and education, “one-sided journalism” and “entertainment that’s really corrupting our youth.” That is basically the agenda of the National Conservatives, which isn't surprising given that some of the people involved with Teneo include J.D. Vance, Peter Thiel, Josh Hawley, and Ben Shapiro. 

In the end, what we have is one party that is kicking a** by raising small dollar donations from the grassroots while the other party depends on self-funded multi-millionaire candidates while astro-turfing a culture war against wokeism.  


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

How our presidential politics have been tied to Putin's desire for revenge in Ukraine

I think the best way to capture this story is to start with a timeline of events related to Putin, Ukraine, and our most recent presidential elections.

Early 2000's - Color revolutions erupt in former Soviet republics - including Ukraine (2004 Orange Revolution).

2011 - Snow Revolution breaks out in Russia with major protests over fraudulent elections.

Putin needed to defuse these popular protests and restore his standing in time for the March 2012 presidential election. Rather than engage with his opponents and attempt to co-opt them, he chose to repress and discredit his critics: He portrayed opposition leaders as traitorous agents of the United States. Putin always had been paranoid about American efforts to undermine his government. Years before, he developed the view that the United States intended to foment a “color revolution” against his regime, just as we allegedly did in Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004.

2012 - Putin is re-elected President of Russia.

2014 - Ukraine's "Revolution of Dignity" (aka "Maidan Revolution") ousts Putin puppet Viktor Yanukovich. Putin said: "the United States is trying to subjugate Russia." He went on to blame the West for the overthrow of a Moscow-backed president in Ukraine in February and accused Washington of stoking protests against him in the winter of 2011-12."

2014 - Russia invades and occupies Crimea while launching the war in Donbas.

2016 - Trump hires Paul Manafort to chair his presidential campaign. Manafort had previously worked for Viktor Yanukovich in Ukraine and received millions in off-the-books payments from Yanukovych's party.

2016 - Trump is elected president following Russia's attempt to interfere in support of his candidacy.

2018 - Peter Schweizer publishes his book "Secret Empires" - claiming that Joe Biden's son Hunter was getting money from Ukraine while his father was vice president.

2019 (January) - Giuliani begins a series of meetings with Ukrainians to gather "dirt" on Joe Biden.

2019 (March) - Several articles published over the next few months by John Solomon suggest that (1) Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election to support Clinton, (2) U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was blocking anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, and (3) former Vice President Biden had pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in order to quash a purported criminal probe into Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company on whose board the former Vice President's son, Hunter, sat. These stories were coordinated with Giuliani and associates.

2019 (April) - Volodymyr Zelensky is elected President of Ukraine.

2019 (April) - According to a computer repair shop owner, Hunter Biden dropped his laptop off for repairs and never returned to pick it up.

2019 (May) - New York Times publishes a story suggesting that Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma while Hunter Biden was on their board.

2019 (July) - Trump participates in a phone call with Zelensky and threatens to withhold financial support unless an investigation into the Biden family is initiated.

2019 (September) - A whistleblower's report on the phone call is released.

2019 (September) - Impeachment hearings in the House begin.

2019 (December) - FBI allegedly subpoenas Hunter Biden's laptop from the computer repair shop owner.

2019 (December) - U.S. intelligence agencies warn Trump that Giuliani has been the target of an influence operation by Russian intelligence.

The warnings were based on multiple sources, including intercepted communications, that showed Giuliani was interacting with people tied to Russian intelligence during a December 2019 trip to Ukraine, where he was gathering information that he thought would expose corrupt acts by former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

2020 (August) - Guiliani is in possession of material that is allegedly from the hard drive of Hunter Biden's laptop.

2020 - Giuliani tries to get a news organization to report on the hard drive that is allegedly a copy of the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop. No takers - not even Fox News. But finally Rupert Murdoch's NY Post publishes a story in October 2020 claiming to prove that Joe Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.

2020 (November) - Joe Biden is elected president.

2022 (February) - Russia launches an invasion of Ukraine. Biden rallies NATO allies and much of the globe to stand in solidarity with Ukraine. Trump's immediate response is to say, "This is genius. Putin declares a big portion of Ukraine as independent. Oh, that's wonderful...How smart is that?" 

I'll update this with any new information that surfaces. In the meantime, let's absorb it all and work on connecting the dots.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

What we can learn about right wing politics from the response to SVB

When it became clear that the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was failing, Speaker Kevin McCarthy had a message he wanted Republicans to embrace: "Biden’s spending triggered a rise in inflation, and the Federal Reserve’s subsequent interest rate increases wiped out the bank." 

Of course, that is all based on a half-truth. Rising interest rates did pose a problem for SVB's long-term bond investments, but given the global nature of inflation following the pandemic, it wasn't Biden's spending that triggered the problem. However, McCarthy's message would have presented a problem for Biden and Democrats, given voter's concerns about inflation. 

As we now know, McCarthy's messaging on this one was rejected in favor of blaming the whole episode on wokeness.

House Oversight Committee chair James Comer: "We see now coming out that they were one of the most woke banks in their quest for the ESG [environmental, social, and governance]–type policy and investing."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: "I mean, this bank, they’re so concerned with DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] and politics and all kinds of stuff. I think that really diverted from them focusing on their core mission.”

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley: "SVB = too woke to fail."

WSJ columnist Andy Kessler“the company may have been distracted by diversity demands,” specifically citing the bank having women, Black, and LGBTQ+ board members.

That's just a sampling. But the message is clear. When given the opportunity to use a crisis to spread a negative attack on their opponent's economic agenda, Republicans rejected it in favor of fanning the flames of their culture war against wokeness. That is further confirmation of what Ron Brownstein said about the state of our politics today: 

The dividing lines between the parties now is not so much economic as it is how you feel about the way the country is changing. That is a fundamental fault line in our politics. And it is clear the energy in the Republican Party is for candidates who express resistance to that in all sorts of ways, from classroom censorship to book bans to what is happening on LGBTQ rights in the red states."

There is another political lesson we can learn from the SVB failure about the nature of propaganda. Take a look at what happened on Fox News

Contrary to those claims, SVB did NOT donate $73 million to Black Lives Matter and related organizations. Both Judd Legum and Josh Marshall have written excellent exposés documenting the lies.  

The Fox News hosts touting the lie got it from a database that was put together a few days after the SVB crisis by the right wing think tank Claremont Institute. It claims to be "the most comprehensive database to date tracking corporate contributions and pledges to the Black Lives Matter movement and related causes from 2020 to the present."

The crux of the lie comes in how Claremont defines "the Black Lives Matter movement and related causes." They claim that BLM's "goal is to undermine capitalism, the nation state, and Western civilization." But in their database they included donations made to organizations like the United Negro College Fund, historically Black colleges and universities, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Urban League, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative, and Bank of America financing for housing and business development in minority communities. As Marshall summed up, "the general message is that anything in any way connected to Black people in pretty much any way is 'BLM riots,' and explicitly supporting mayhem and violence." In other words, it's nothing but vile, racist propaganda. 

The fact that Claremont was able to post this so-called "database" within a couple of days of SVB's failure and had Fox News spouting their lies immediately tells us a lot about the nature of propaganda. While it will take weeks/months to unpack the truth about SVB, it was possible to put together the lies in a matter of days. By the time the truth comes out, major media will have moved on and those living in the right wing bubble will have swallowed the propaganda whole.

That is the challenge that liberals face. To the extent that we are grounded in facts, it is important to keep in mind that reality is complex and most of the time it's hard to unravel (see: origins of the coronavirus). The party based on lies has the advantage of being able to produce simplistic fabrications almost immediately. 

There are no easy fixes to that challenge. But at minimum, we have to recognize the problem. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

I, for one, am proud to be part of the "woke mob."

During his State of the Union address, President Biden said this:

My economic plan is about investing in places and people that have been forgotten. Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades, too many people have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible.

Maybe that’s you, watching at home.

You remember the jobs that went away. And you wonder whether a path even exists anymore for you and your children to get ahead without moving away.

I get it.

That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind.

Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back, because of the choices we made in the last two years. This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives.

During the first two years of his term - with the slimmest of majorities in the Senate - Biden and the Democrats delivered on that "blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America" with passage of the American Rescue Plan, the infrastructure bill, and the Inflation Reduction Act. With the release of his 2024 budget, the president continues to build on that success.

With all of that, Biden and Democrats have successfully undermined any holdouts who continue to claim that their party has abandoned working class voters. So it's important to note what Republicans have done in response. Ron Brownstein nailed it!

The dividing lines between the parties now is not so much economic as it is how you feel about the way the country is changing. That is a fundamental fault line in our politics. And it is clear the energy in the Republican Party is for candidates who express resistance to that in all sorts of ways, from classroom censorship to book bans to what is happening on LGBTQ rights in the red states."

In other words, all Republicans have these days is fear mongering about the so-called "woke mind virus." 

What does that mean? The perfect example is what Governor DeSantis is doing in Florida, where he says that "wokeness goes to die." It means using state power to attack Black history, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, women's autonomy, and immigrants - along with free speech and the press. Those attacks are being repeated all over the country in red states. Republicans have completely abandoned any economic message and gone all-in on their so-called "culture wars."

It's important to keep in mind that what Brownstein is referring to is "backlash." The changes Republicans are reacting to are the result of decades of struggle to "perfect our union" and extend the hand of belonging to those who have been left out. 

For example, we've seen that the election of our first African American president triggered Ron DeSantis in a deep way. I am reminded of something Rebecca Traister wrote just before the 2016 election got underway.

The public spectacle of this presidential election, and the two that have preceded it, are inextricably linked to the racialized and gendered anger and violence we see around us…

Whatever their flaws, their political shortcomings, their progressive dings and dents, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton mean a lot. They represent an altered power structure and changed calculations about who in this country may lead.

The threat of an "altered power structure" led to the election of Donald Trump, who Ta-Nehisi Coates called “our first white president.” As he wrote, “The foundation of Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.” 

The Republican platform is now devoted to the negation of every gain we've made over the last century when it comes to civil rights. To accomplish that goal, the GOP is more than willing to abandon democracy, because for them, "being outnumbered doesn't have to mean losing."

That is the state of our politics today. Anyone who struggled with the question of whether working class voters went with Trump because of "economic anxiety" or "xenophobia" can leave that conversation to historians and open their eyes to what is happening right now. The president from Scranton is "building an economy where no one is left behind," while the opposition is so afraid of living in a pluralistic society that they're willing to abandon democracy in order to maintain their dominance. 

There are no "both sides" arguments for this one. It's time to chose sides. I, for one, am proudly part of the "woke mob."

Monday, March 13, 2023

Matt Taibbi: Challenge Accepted

Last week Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger (two authors of the so-called "Twitter files") testified before the House committee on the "weaponization of the government." After the hearing, in response to a tweet from Rep. Sylia Garcia (D-TX), Taibbi issued a challenge. He asked: "Can you please identify something @ShellenbergerMD or I said that is extreme, a lie, or a conspiracy theory?"

Challenge accepted. I'll let you decide if these are extreme, lies, conspiracy theories, or all of the above.

To begin with, both Taibbi and Shellenberger referred to a "censorship industrial complex." Besides being a complete balderization of Eisenhower's powerful indictment of the "military industrial complex," there has been zero proof of any government "censorship." Shelllenberger demonstrated his confusion about that under questioning by Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-NY).

In that clip, Shellenberger equates the FBI flagging material that violated Twitter's terms and services (ie, dickpics) with the FBI directing twitter to remove content. He can't/won't distinguish between the two, which is why their claims of censorship are bogus.

During the hearing, Shellenbergr responded to questions from Chair Jim Jordan about the Hunter Biden laptop story by claiming that the FBI had been "spying on Rudy Giuliani." Not true.
American intelligence agencies were not spying on Giuliani, but on the people with whom he was talking, the source said, including Andrii Derkach, who has been identified by the Treasury Department as a Russian agent. That collection led them to learn about Giuliani's dealings with Derkach and other Russian operatives who wanted to feed him information attempting to discredit Democrat Joe Biden, the source said.

Just as an aside, it wasn't the FBI spying on Derkach. It was the CIA.

There were also a series of questions from Goldman to Shellenberg about this claim from one of his "twitter files." 

Goldman pointed to the opening paragraph of that NY Post story, demonstrating that every single fact is not true.

Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to emails obtained by The Post.

The fact is that the Ukrainian prosecutor in question was fired for NOT investigating corruption - including companies like Burisma. 

In another round of questions from Goldman to Shellenberg about the Hunter Biden laptop story, the journalist seems confused about the difference between a laptop and a hard drive. 

That exchange may leave you scratching your head, which is exactly what the liars/conspiracy theorists want. So let's break it down. 

Supposedly the laptop in question has been in the possession of the FBI since it was subpoenaed in 2019. Everything else is a reference to hard drives that were allegedly copied from the laptop or other hard drives. So no, CBS did NOT do an analysis of the "laptop in question" - but of a hard drive that was given to them by the lawyer of the computer repair shop owner.

Furthermore, Shellenberger seems to be completely ignorant of what the Washington Post found on a hard drive given to them by Jack Maxey. Here's how Philip Bump summarized what they found:
We had multiple experts examine the contents of a hard drive that purported to contain the laptop’s contents, validating tens of thousands of emails as likely to be legitimate. But an enormous amount of the material on the drive couldn’t be validated as legitimate, in part because of the game of telephone that the material had undergone by the time it reached us...

“The experts found the data had been repeatedly accessed and copied by people other than Hunter Biden over nearly three years,” our report explained, with those we spoke with being unable to “reach definitive conclusions about the contents as a whole, including whether all of it originated from a single computer or could have been assembled from files from multiple computers and put on the portable drive.”

All of the data on the hard drive given to the Washington Post could NOT be verified. The reason why this could be significant is that in 2017 Russian intelligence hacked Emmanuel Macron's campaign and leaked data - as well as fake information - to social media sites. It is this mixing of hacked data with fake information that is worth noting. 

Since the hearing concluded, Goldman and Taibbi have continued a discussion on Twitter. Here is the Congressman calling out the journalists on some basic facts: 

Here is a clip of why Goldman made that point. In it, Taibbi claims to not know whether the Russian government hacked and leaked Clinton campaign emails and Shellenberg waffles on the question.

Those are some of the lies/conspiracy theories spread by Taibbi and Shellenberger during the hearing last week. 

Perhaps all of this gives you some clue as to why one of Taibbi's staunchest defenders - Glenn Greenwald - tried to smear Rep. Goldman. 
Dan Goldman is one of the richest members of Congress, he has a net-worth of 250 million dollars. Not because he earned any of it. He was born into the billionaire family that created Levi-Strauss. His great grandfather was the founder of Levi-Strauss and therefore he is the heir to that fortune...The reason he was so popular among the wealthy white liberals who vote for the member of Congress in Manhattan is because he spent the last three years as a lead lawyer in the Mueller investigation.

Here's what you need to know about Dan Goldman. Yes, he is heir to the Levi-Strauss fortune. I guess that in Glenn's mind, that is some sort of crime. But from 2007 to 2017, Goldman was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York. He prosecuted Russian organized crime, Genovese crime family mobsters, and a variety of white-collar crime and securities fraud. Then in 2019, Rep. Adam Schiff tapped Goldman to be the lead counsel for the House Intelligence Committee during Trump's first impeachment hearings.

So no, Goldman was never "a lead lawyer in the Mueller investigation." That, too, is a lie.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

To avoid slouching towards Gilead, it's time for liberals to connect the dots

When it comes to job creation, we got another good jobs report this week. Those who insist that a recession is looming continue to scratch their heads wondering what the heck is going on with this economy. So let's take a look at some headlines and see if we can connect the dots.

Chip makers feel labor market squeeze

The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought

The State of the Nation’s Nursing Shortage

Whenever one of these pop up, we see politicized finger-pointing at how the opposition is to blame. For example, right wingers claim that the BLM protests caused the law enforcement labor shortage while liberals blame the teacher shortage on the right wing attacks leveled at public education. There might be some truth to those claims in individual situations. But it is imperative that we all look at the big picture: we have a shortage of labor. 

While it is true that things like early retirements and a pandemic have had an impact, the fact is that we've been heading in this direction for awhile. Six months before we had ever heard of COVID,  Alexia Fernández Campbell wrote this:
The US economy doesn’t have enough workers.

For a record 16 straight months, the number of open jobs has been higher than the number of people looking for work. The US economy had 7.4 million job openings in June, but only 6 million people were looking for work, according to data released by the US Department of Labor.

This is not normal. Ever since Labor began tracking job turnover two decades ago, there have always been more people looking for work than jobs available. That changed for the first time in January 2018.

Ten years ago Ezra Klein noted that "the ratio of working Americans to retirees will fall from 5-to-1 today to 3-to-1 in 2050." Fewer workers and more retirees spells trouble.

But there are several reasons why it is critical to connect these dots. For starters, it has sparked a natalist movement on the far right. 

A bill introduced in the Texas legislature would give tax breaks to heterosexual couples who have lots of children. J.D. Vance has also proposed tax breaks to families with multiple children while lambasting the “childless left” who have no “physical commitment to the future of this country."

These folks aren't just against abortion and contraception. They literally want women barefoot and pregnant. Anyone who has read "The Handmaid's Tale" knows that this is how things started in Gilead.

Just as ominous is the fact that natalism begins to build a case for "replacement theory," which is a dangerous melding of xenophobia and misogyny.

An extension of colonialist theory, [replacement theory] is predicated on the notion that white women are not having enough children and that falling birthrates will lead to white people around the world being replaced by nonwhite people.

And like so many fundamentalist ideologies, the foundation of this one requires the subjugation of women.

Of course, one easy fix for the labor shortage is to reform our immigration system. But while right wingers are busy with their xenophobic and sexist proposals, too many of us in the real world are simply ignoring what's going on. It's time for us to wake up if we want to move this country FORWARD instead of slinking backwards towards Gilead. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Republicans have gone beyond post-truth to become the party of lies

Back in 2011, David Roberts wrote that Republicans had become the "post-truth" party.

[Republicans] 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.

Fast forward to 2023 and we see that, for Republicans, their rhetoric doesn't have to bear any connection to reality.

  1. While in office, Donald Trump told over 30,000 lies. 
  2. Representative George Santos lied about pretty much everything.
  3. Filings from the lawsuit Dominion brought against Fox News show that the Republican propaganda network is a completely dishonest organization.
Those are just a few examples. 

Of course, a party based on lies can flourish if two conditions are met:

  1. Their supporters exist in an epistemic bubble where they're protected from reality, and
  2. They are in the minority and all they have to do is lob accusatory bombs at the opposition. 
It remains to be seen if the truth about Fox News will poke a hole in the right wing epistemic bubble. But in the 2022 elections, Republicans gained a majority in the House and folks like Jim Jordan are learning that the tactics they perfected while in the minority aren't working for them right now. 

Jordan is chairing the select subcommittee on the "weaponization of government" whose goal is to scrutinize the "concerted effort by the government to silence and punish conservatives at all levels.” So far, things aren't going great. 

  • Axios published at article with the headline: "Jim Jordan scrambles amid claims 'weaponization' probe is a dud."
  • Mike Davis, former chief counsel for nominations for then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), wrote in a tweet thread: "This is doomed to fail."
  • Jeff Carlson, co-host of "Truth Over News" on EpochTV, tweeted, "Is it once again all talk and no action from the ... Weaponization Committee?"
  • Fox News' Jesse Watters said: "Make me feel better, guys. Tell me this is going somewhere." 
  • On Steve Bannon’s program, a conservative guest described the “weaponization” committee as “a failure,” adding, “Jim Jordan is just not a serious person.”
  • Dana Milbank wrote that "It is possible that, by random chance, one of the witnesses may have said something that is factually true, but any pellet of accuracy was lost amid all the errant slugs that ricocheted crazily out of their muzzles."
  • Writers at the Bulwark noted that, "once again, Jordan’s investigative weapon was loaded with blanks. And he was hunting dead game anyway."
So across the political spectrum, the consensus is that Jordan is blowing it. But it's not just because he's incompetent. Steve Benen nailed it.
It would be no more productive for House Republicans to create a select subcommittee to investigate Bigfoot. They could hire dozens of investigators, depose countless witnesses, hold hours of hearings, and send out a steady stream of subpoenas, but in the end, things that don’t exist can’t be found.

The whole premise of the committee is based on a myriad of lies Republicans have been telling for years now. The moral of this story is that, when liars have to step out of their epistemic bubble into the sunlight of the real world, it's not a pretty picture.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

What if the media told the truth about DeSantis?

In a recent speech, Ron DeSantis laid out his case for the presidency based on his performance as Governor of Florida. He said that in "fighting the woke mind virus," what you've seen is "surgical precision execution day after day after day." What we've seen from the media is, at worst, confirmation of those claims and, at best, tacit agreement. 

What would we be hearing if they actually told the truth? 

First of all, we'd learn that the whole DeSantis vs Disney battle was an example of a politician rushing to make headlines before he had any idea what he was doing. For example, a little more than a month after Disney spoke out against DeSantis's "don't say gay" bill,  the governor signed a bill that would dissolve the company's special district status. Here's how the Florida Senate summarized SB 4-C (emphasis mine):

The bill provides for the dissolution of any independent special district established by a special act prior to...November 5, 1968...The bill provides that dissolution of the affected districts will occur on June 1, 2023.

Almost immediately, Disney let it be known that, if the special district was dissolved, Florida taxpayers would be on the hook for its $1 billion in bond debt. Run-roh! Time to scramble behind closed doors to fix that! Seven months later DeSantis had a solution. As governor, he would appoint the board of supervisors who oversee the district, but here's the final word on its status:

When it comes to the people DeSantis appointed to the board, the guy who said that homosexuality is the result of estrogen in our tap water sounds like a real winner. 

But this sums things up pretty well:

It’s unclear what, if any, effect that board will have on how Disney behaves...Even on the level of administration of municipal matters, so far experts estimate that the board takeover isn’t necessarily going to change how things are run in Disney World’s district. “In terms of the day-to-day operation of the district, it doesn’t look like much is going to change,” Aubrey Jewett, associate professor at the University of Central Florida, told NBC News.

Surgical precision execution? Not so much. 

What DeSantis has going for himself are Republican supermajorities in the state house and senate that are willing to pass any nonsense he proposes. So he goes on Fox News to tout his "so-called" accomplishments. What you don't hear much about is how many of those bills face serious court challenges - like his "Stop the Woke Act," which a judge compared to the "upside down" dimension in "Stranger Things." Here are some of the governor's other failures:

  • The "free speech" law that was blocked for violating free speech.
  • The "anti-riot" law that was deemed unconstitutional.
  • The 15-week abortion ban that violates the Florida constitution.
  • The myriad of civil cases being brought against the governor for his scheme to transport migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard.
As of last December, the Miami Herald documented that DeSantis faced "more than 15 lawsuits costing Florida taxpayers nearly $17 million in legal fees to date."
In case after case, courts have scaled back, thrown out, or left in legal limbo rules and laws that impose restrictions on social media giants; limit voting; curb gender-related health care; influence speech in the workplace, college campuses and classrooms; and create new crimes for peaceful protests.

It's also worth noting that, in the process, DeSantis has not only aligned himself with people who think tap water creates homosexuality, he also pals around with liars and propagandists like Christopher Rufo and James O'Keefe. 

None of that bears any resemblance to surgical precision execution. What we have with DeSantis is a fascist governor (with a totally compliant legislature) who conjures up enemies to shoot first and aim later. 

Now run and tell that! 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

No, Democrats don't have a patriotism problem

Ruy Teixeira - one of the white pundits Ron Brownstein labelled a "neo-New Democrat - has developed a "three-point plan to fix the Democrats and their coalition." Here's how he defines the problem:

The Democratic Party may be the party of blue America, especially deep blue metro America, but its bid to be the party of the ordinary American, the common man and woman, is falling short.

There is a simple—and painful—reason for this. The Democrats really are no longer the party of the common man and woman. The priorities and values that dominate the party today are instead those of educated, liberal America which only partially overlap—and sometimes not at all—with those of ordinary Americans.

Do you see what he did there? Those who live in "deep blue metro America" aren't "ordinary Americans." Neither are "educated liberal Americans." That kind of split is reminiscent of where this whole MAGA movement started - with Sarah Palin in 2008. For example: here's what she said at a fundraiser in Greensboro, North Carolina:

We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.

So it should come as no surprise that one of Teixeira's three points is that Democrats have a patriotism problem. 

It’s kind of hard to strike up the band on patriotism when you’ve been endorsing the view that America was born in slavery, marinated in racism and remains a white supremacist society, shot through with multiple, intersecting levels of injustice that make everybody either oppressed or oppressor on a daily basis.

That is nothing more than a repetition of the lie Republicans tell about Democrats. It is a fact that America was born in slavery and that systemic racism remains alive and well. But that sits alongside the fact that, for hundreds of years, those who were oppressed have fought valiantly and often risked their lives for this vision of America.

I don't know about you, but THAT'S what I call patriotic. 

I was thinking about all of this as President Biden travels to Selma today to commemorate the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. It was eight years ago that then-President Obama gave his most important speech at the 50th anniversary. It is helpful to remember the context.

Early that year, Rudy Giuliani had set off a firestorm by suggesting that Obama didn’t love America...It became one of those stories that not only swirled around right wing media, but migrated into mainstream outlets as well. The patriotism of this country’s first African-American president was under assault.

In his speech Obama got to the root of patriotism, going beyond the sentimentality of flag-waving and the divisiveness of referring to "real Americans."

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?...

It’s the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo. That’s America...

For we were born of change. We broke the old aristocracies, declaring ourselves entitled not by bloodline, but endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. We secure our rights and responsibilities through a system of self-government, of and by and for the people... 
Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person. Because the single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.” “We The People.” “We Shall Overcome.” “Yes We Can.” That word is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone.

During my life there have been many moments when I didn't feel patriotic. But when I reflect on Obama's words, I realize that those were times when the need to "speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo" was most important. So like any other form of love, patriotism is more than a requires having a vision and working on making that a reality. That's what Obama referred to as the "imperative of citizenship." 

Pundits like Teixeira who regurgitate right wing talking points about patriotism can simply have a seat and maybe read a book or two about some of our real patriotic heroes - like Democrat John Lewis.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Worst Stawman Argument Ever: Is America Irredeemable?

Republican Senator Tim Scott has written a piece for the right-wing New York Post titled, "I’m proof Democrats are wrong to call America irredeemable." Here's the opening paragraph:

For years, Democrats have spread the message that America is irredeemable, that our original sin defines our present and the future is dependent on our faith in government — not in each other.

I want to focus on the word "irredeemable," but it is also important to note that a government "of, by, and for the people" is exactly how we demonstrate our faith in each other. 

But everything about Scott's argument is a lie. For example, here is the current leader of the Democratic Party at his State of the Union address a few weeks ago: 

Scott's suggestion that Democrats are calling America "irredeemable" is a strawman created by right wingers. It is usually tied to their definition of Critical Race Theory.

Last year, conservative activist Christopher Rufo began using the term “critical race theory” publicly to denounce anti-racist education efforts. Since then, conservative lawmakers, commentators and parents have raised alarm that critical race theory is being used to teach children that they are racist, and that the U.S. is a racist country with irredeemable roots.

Here is Senator Ted Cruz doing just that - while comparing CRT to the Klan: 

Of course, that whole bit is a racist lie.

In the introduction of Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement, a seminal collection of the foundational essays of the movement edited by principal founders and scholars like Kimberlé Crenshaw and Neil Gotanda, the editors write that critical race theory is about transforming social structures to create freedom for all, and it’s grounded in an “ethical commitment to human liberation.”

Why would anyone study how to transform social structures if they thought the country was irredeemable?  

The people who revile CRT say a lot of the same things about the NYT 1619 Project. But in her opening essay, Nicole Hannah-Jones writes about her father's patriotism (emphasis mine).

My dad always flew an American flag in our front yard. The blue paint on our two-story house was perennially chipping; the fence, or the rail by the stairs, or the front door, existed in a perpetual state of disrepair, but that flag always flew pristine. Our corner lot, which had been redlined by the federal government, was along the river that divided the black side from the white side of our Iowa town. At the edge of our lawn, high on an aluminum pole, soared the flag, which my dad would replace as soon as it showed the slightest tatter.

So when I was young, that flag outside our home never made sense to me. How could this black man, having seen firsthand the way his country abused black Americans, how it refused to treat us as full citizens, proudly fly its banner? I didn’t understand his patriotism...

The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie. Our Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, proclaims that ‘‘all men are created equal’’ and ‘‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.’’ But the white men who drafted those words did not believe them to be true for the hundreds of thousands of black people in their midst. ‘‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’’ did not apply to fully one-fifth of the country. Yet despite being violently denied the freedom and justice promised to all, black Americans believed fervently in the American creed. Through centuries of black resistance and protest, we have helped the country live up to its founding ideals.

The people who have been engaged for hundreds of years in a struggle to - as President Obama said - "perfect our union" are definitely NOT the ones who think that our country is irredeemable.  

All of this reminds me that, back in 2014, I was surprised to learn that the real optimists in this country were African Americans. Ellis Cose wrote about it.

African-Americans, long accustomed to frustration in their pursuit of opportunity and respect, are amazingly upbeat, consistently astounding pollsters with their hopefulness. Earlier this year, when a Washington Post–Kaiser–-Harvard poll asked respondents whether they expected their children’s standard of living to be better or worse than their own, 60 percent of blacks chose “better,” compared with only 36 percent of whites.

That was during Obama's presidency and before the emergence of MAGA, so we need an update. Last October, the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research asked a similar question. Forty-one percent (41%) of whites think that young people today will have a better standard of living than their parents, compared to 55% of blacks. 

One Black man's perspective is instructive.

Poll respondent Glen McDaniel, 70, who is Black and works as a medical laboratory scientist in Atlanta, said he has “a certain amount of optimism” about the prospect of future generations having a better standard of living because he “knows for a fact it’s possible, not something you read in a book.”

“I’ve seen a lot of history through these eyes,” he said. “There were times when even someone looking like me going to college didn’t seem possible. We would have to think, going on vacation — would people who look like us be safe, or would we be harassed? It’s incredible to think that was during my lifetime.”

It all comes down to the heart-wrenching reaction from Doc Rivers following the police shooting of Jacob Blake: "We keep loving this country and this country doesn't love us back." 

The problem is clearly not that Black people think this country is irredeemable and can't change. It is the racists who refuse to do so.   

When it comes to the presidential race, are polls all that matter?

A little more than five months from the 2024 presidential election,  conventional wisdom  suggests that  Biden is losing . But according to ...