Monday, February 26, 2024

BTRTN Michigan Primary Preview: The Nikki Haley Moral Victory Tour Persists, Plus Biden Versus Uncommitted

This most peculiar primary season continues in what could be the “Ground Zero” election state in November, 2024.

By all rights, Nikki Haley should have packed up her bags after the New Hampshire primary, and if not then, then surely after South Carolina.  Three straight whippings, including Iowa, and a 20-point defeat in your home state would, in any other year, be enough to send an also-ran home.

But 2024 is no ordinary year.  Donald Trump may be locking up delegates as rapidly as an unopposed incumbent, but Haley is taking a glass-almost-half-full approach to her candidacy.  She clearly believes (even if she does not quite say it out loud) that Donald Trump is a threat to democracy.  She also believes she has a future in a re-defined, more Reaganesque GOP down the road.  And thus she – and her donors – have concluded that her best approach is to fight him for as long as she can.  (Although one major donor, Americans for Prosperity, just backed out.).  She can point to the 40%+ of the vote she received in both New Hampshire and South Carolina as evidence that her voice speaks for a powerful anti-Trump wing of the party, with a far different (and more traditional) vision of the GOP, particularly on foreign policy.  She will likely continue with her candidacy until Trump secures enough delegates to claim the nomination, which will almost certainly occur sometime after Super Tuesday.

But remember this stat from South Carolina:  roughly 20% of Republican voters in the GOP primary said they would NOT vote for Trump in November, according to AP StatCast.  That should be a very sobering statistic for TrumpWorld.  Haley is speaking to these people, reinforcing their misgivings, and also playing at the edges of those who could turn on Trump at any moment, especially the way he has been talking about Russia recently, and given the state of his trials.

So, the Nikki Haley Moral Victory Tour continues (or, as Mitch McConnell might have it, “persists”) on to Michigan for another primary tomorrow, Tuesday, February 27.  She will continue to focus on more moderate states – swing states and blue states -- in the coming week, making stops in Virginia, North Carolina, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts (as well as Utah).  She may not win any of them, but she will find a reasonably sizable voting audience that will welcome her message and appreciate her willingness to take on Big Orange at some personal risk – political and otherwise.

It seems unlikely that she will reach that same 40% level in Michigan, which is neither a reasonably reliable blue state (like New Hampshire, which backed the Democrat in the last five presidential elections) nor her home state (like South Carolina).  A loss in Michigan -- especially a bigger one -- will continue to erode the rationale for her candidacy, but she will not let that deter her and will compete across the Super Tuesday primaries – in 16 states and territories – on March 5.

But for now, Michigan will not be pretty for Haley.  BTRTN predicts that Donald Trump will win the Michigan GOP primary by roughly a 70/30 margin.   The drumbeat for Haley to drop out to “unify the party” will then bang ever louder. 

Perhaps the more interesting primary is, for once, on the Democratic side.  Joe Biden did extremely well in the symbolic New Hampshire primary, scoring 64% of the vote as a write-in candidate (he skipped the primary since New Hampshire defied the new primary schedule that Biden backed, which put South Carolina first), and following up with a massive 96/2/2 win over Marion Williamson (who had already dropped out) and Dean Phillips in South Carolina.  Phillips’ ballyhooed run against Biden on the “age” issue has gained zero traction.

But the dynamics in Michigan are quite different, and Biden is locked in an unlikely battle on the ballot with the “uncommitted” line, which essentially represents a proxy vote on the part of Arab-Americans (and other Democrats) protesting Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas War.  Arab-Americans are a potentially pivotal constituency in the Wolverine State, numbering roughly 200,000 registered voters, who, by some estimates, backed Biden in 2020 with 70% of their vote.  Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes in 2020, so you can see that the Arab-American numbers were significant in his victory.  But his support amongst them has evaporated, and polls (from November) show only 16% of Arab-American Democrats are backing Biden. 

This is, of course, because of Biden’s initial embrace of Bibi Netanyahu and Israel in the wake of the horrific terrorist attack of Hamas on Israel last October 7.  But as the civilian body count rose, tolerance for Biden’s full-throated endorsement evaporated among many, including the youth vote and, naturally, Arab-Americans.  Biden has been sprinting toward a more peace-seeking position ever since, pressing for hostage release, humanitarian aid, IDF battle plans that minimize civilian casualties, and a quick end to the fighting.  It is unclear whether these actions have made a difference to Arab-Americans, but clearly the protest is evidence of discontent.

A group of Michigan politicians, led by Michigan House majority leader Abraham Aiyash, with support from U.S. rep Rashida Tlaib (a ”Squad” member) is calling for Michigan Democrats to vote for the “Uncommitted” line in protest of Biden’s policies.  While Biden will win this primary, the key question is how many votes the “Uncommitted” line will garner.  The protesters say they are seeking 11,000 uncommitted votes, symbolically representing the margin of Trump’s win in Michigan in 2016.  But in 2020, in a routine primary that Biden won en route to the White House, the uncommitted line won 19,000 votes out of nearly 1.6 million cast.  So, a better indicator of the depth of the anger might be how much more than 19,000 the protest generates.

Michigan could very well be “Ground Zero” on Election Night for the Democrats.  If Biden can win Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where he is doing relatively well in the polls (generally even with Trump, while he trails him by a small margin in other swing states, including Michigan), he only needs Michigan’s 15 electoral votes to get to the 270 he needs to win the election.  Biden will surely remind voters that Trump would have embraced Netanyahu even more tightly than he did and likely would have ignored hostile world opinion on Netanyahu's prosecution of the war, and thereby secured no aid or hostage relief.  But Biden must also deal with the threat of protest votes for third party candidates, convincing voters this fall that a vote for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. or Jill Stein is really a vote for Trump.

And Michigan could also be the decisive race in the Senate, one of several very close races that the Democrats must win to have a change to keep control of the Senate.

Stay tuned!

Friday, February 23, 2024

BTRTN South Carolina GOP Primary Preview: Why Nikki Remains in the Race

Tom addresses the only question about the South Carolina primary.

Nikki Haley is about to get thrashed in her own state of South Carolina in the GOP primary tomorrow.  This did not have to happen.  Donald Trump’s convincing win in Iowa, topped with leads in polling in virtually every other primary state that lay ahead, was more than enough to chase off every other remaining GOP contender before New Hampshire.  His win there should have chased off Haley, too, yet she remains.  The question is why?

(Let's get this out of the way:  BTRTN predicts that Donald Trump will win the South Carolina GOP primary by roughly a 60/40 margin, or perhaps a bit more.)

It’s not because she thinks she can pull off a true “Haley Mary,” in what would be the greatest upset of all time.  She certainly knows that is not in the cards.

There is only one real clue, but it is a big one – she is staying in because her donors want her to stay in.  She may be having trouble finding GOP voters beyond her base – even in her home state -- but she is not having trouble finding donors.  Campaigns usually end because donors recognize reality before candidates do, and turn off the spigot.  But Haley has funding to continue.

We can think of three possible reasons why she remains, with their support.

The first is that she thinks some massive catalyst in the GOP race could change Trump's fortunes soon, and it would be better to be in the race when that happens, to be able to claim to being the only viable candidate still standing after it happens.  But such thinking is borderline delusional at this point, because it is hard to envision what Trump could possibly do to incur the wrath of the MAGA base that he has not done already.  He’s bragged about groping women, paid off a hooker to conceal an affair with her, called Mexican immigrants rapists, tried to overthrow the 2020 election, stole government documents, was found to have raped a woman, then slandered her to the tune of $83 million, cheated his way to a fortune, was found guilty of it to the tune of $450 million and on and on – you know all this.  (And that does not even cover all he did while in office.) It is hard to imagine what else he could do, short of his own vision of a loyalty test, that is, gunning someone down on 5th Avenue (and he thought he would survive even that), to suddenly alienate the cult.

The second reason is that she is not trying to win herself, but rather aims to take Trump down, to do enough damage that he loses to Joe Biden in the fall.  This is not so far-fetched.  The voters who are now backing Trump include many who do not like him personally and some who voted for Joe Biden in 2020, and, of course, there are still some voters who are undecided.  By staying in the race and attacking Trump, which she is doing freely and with abandon, she has a platform to persuade the persuadable that Trump is bad for the country.  She may say Biden is bad, too, but most of her recent fire is directed at Trump.  Why take down Trump?  She may genuinely feel that the nation cannot withstand four more years of him.  She seems to be truly is alarmed by him personally and his isolationist foreign policy (an area in which she is far more aligned with Biden) and is making no bones about it.  It is certainly true that Ted Kennedy hurt Jimmy Carter in 1980, that Bill Bradley probably nicked Al Gore in 2000, and Bernie Sanders did no favors to Hillary Clinton in 2016.  It would not take much to knock off enough Trump votes by staying to the bitter end, as they did, to make him a loser in the general election.  If she drops out, she loses the platform, and disappears for this election cycle.

Finally, she is playing the long game.  She may be banking on a post-Trump world where the fever breaks and the GOP returns to its Reagan-esque roots of small government, low taxes and a muscular foreign policy.  She now knows that she commands 30-40% of the GOP now, even with Trump alive and kicking.  When he’s gone – and he has no logical successor at this point, given the DeSantis flameout – she would have that base to build on, and a message of a return to normalcy that could be quite welcome.

These last two reasons are not crazy, and her donors have a huge stake in a post-Trump world.  Haley is banking on her time coming at some point, and whether it is now, due to some incredible long-shot this spring, or in 2028, or 12-16 years down the road, long after Trump is gone.  And the best way to get to that future is to keep plugging away in 2024.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

BTRTN: While Democrats Slept

Do Democrats understand that Republicans actually do want to end democracy in America? Steve says it’s not someone else’s job to fight for democracy. It’s ours.

Nice guys finish last.

With the 2000 election hanging in the balance like a chad on a Florida ballot, Democrat Al Gore sought a “fair” resolution to the crisis. George W. Bush's lawyer, former White House Chief of Staff James Baker, focused on how to win. In his book on the 36-day legal battle for the Presidency, author Jeffrey Toobin observed that Gore's approach was high-minded and focused on ensuring a fair process, where Bush worked the realpolitic.  

Guess where the nice guy finished?

Too often, to be a Democrat is to have a knee-jerk instinct to seek the “fair” solution, to insist on playing by the rules even when competing against brazen cheating, and to accept and respect whatever outcome follows.

It is, in Al Gore’s example, to accept a railroaded, bogus resolution of an election out of a high minded, idealistic concern for the stability of the nation.

The result: the candidate who lost the popular vote that year -- and quite possibly actually lost the Electoral College as well -- became President. This, in turn, resulted in a lightweight President, woefully ill-prepared for the job, who led the nation into a foolhardy trillion-dollar war in Iraq triggered on false pretenses, allowed unchecked acceleration of global warming, and cratered global financial markets due to lax, diminished, and insufficient regulation.

Now, in 2024, the stakes in our upcoming Presidential election will make those of 2000 look like one-dollar bets at Tuesday night church bingo. And the get-along, go-along permissive instinct of Democrats to stand back and hope that the resolution is “fair” could result in the end of democracy.

Today, in a world of frequent, shocking, and unprecedented threats to our Constitution and vital institutions of government, the single most worrisome threat of all is how Democratic citizens seem to be standing by on the sidelines, allowing it to happen. Of course there are pockets of activists and deeply involved citizens, but research suggests that fewer than 15% of U.S. adults actively work on political campaigns. Lending Tree published data noting that 71% of Americans have never donated to a political campaign. A recent survey suggests that only about 5% of Americans give over $200 to political campaigns. Anecdotally, we all encounter like-minded citizens who are appalled at and terrified by Trump -- but who are not actually rolling up their sleeves and doing something about it.

The fact: a large percentage of Democrats are not involved in any way in the political process. Worse, perhaps, is the degree to which Democrats are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Many seem to express more concern about Joe Biden’s age than about the boiling-hot Third Reich rhetoric of Donald Trump.

Why aren't more Democrats involved? Taking action? Why are they not volunteering, participating, fighting? It can't be that they don't know how to find volunteer work. We live in a world where you can google "Thai food near me" and find seventeen fabulous options in 0.62 seconds. Surely it is not a matter of not knowing where to find the work that needs to be done.

Like the frog lulled to docile inaction as the water is gradually brought to a boil, Democrats need a wake-up call, fast. It is time to sound the alarm. Your democracy could be over in one year. What are you doing about it?

At the root of this inaction may be a misunderstanding – and a gross underestimation -- of the MAGA movement.

All too many Democrats seem to view MAGA Republicans as Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables:” as just so many ignorant rednecks who are furious at and alienated from a government that has allowed foreign nations and immigrants to take their jobs and the comfortable life they viewed as birthright. The mythology continues: MAGA nation loves Trump because he channels their hate of the establishment, the Federal government, and the wealthy coastal elites and their woke culture. The disdain of Democrats finally seems to land on the notion that MAGA zealots are ignorant of civics, Constitutional theory, and simply don’t realize that Donald Trump is running for dictator, not President.

It is time to flip the switch and understand the exact opposite: MAGA Republicans know exactly what they are doing. They do want to end democracy. In a democracy, they are in the minority. In a democracy, they lose.

They may pretend that they are in the majority and that the only reason they lose is because elections are rigged. But the more likely truth is that they fully understand that if free and fair elections occur, they lose… as indeed happened in 2018, 2020, and 2022. Save for the perversion of democracy we call the Electoral College, Republicans lost in 2016 as well. In fact, the Republican candidate for President won the popular vote only one time in the seven elections going back to 2000.

MAGA Republicans know that if democracy endures, they lose. But in an authoritarian regime with their guy in charge, they get exactly the government they want, and they wouldn't be bothered with the quadrennial risk of losing their power in free elections.

Wake up, Dems. If you sit on the sidelines and let it happen, nice guys finish last. Open up your eyes and realize what is about to happen.

Republicans rage that our government is broken, that it is hopelessly ineffective and utterly unresponsive to the will of the people.

Well, you have to give them this one. They are right.

If our government were truly responding to the will of the people, access to abortion would be a Constitutional right. Gun laws would be stronger. Ukraine would be funded to better fight the murderous madman Vladimir Putin. The Electoral College would no longer exist. The Supreme Court would not be wildly skewed to an extremely conservative minority.  A major immigration bill would have passed.  Candidates who do not receive the majority of votes would not end up as President. It would not be impossible to amend the Constitution… and therefore it would be possible to fix many of these problems.

Of course, that’s not why MAGA Republicans think that our government is broken. They believe – with no proof or support – that our elections are rigged, that Donald Trump won the 2020 election, and that all of Trump’s indictments are bogus charges brought on by a “weaponized” liberal DoJ.

So  there actually is one thing that we can all agree on: our government is broken.

The difference is that Democrats do not want a broken government. Republicans do.

Why? Because such raging dissatisfaction about the ineffectiveness of government is the perfect breeding ground for authoritarians. Authoritarians see their opportunity in moments when people question their government. They promise fast action to fix intractable problems. They campaign on the idea that they will invoke non-existent powers to crash through the gridlocked machinery of the legislative process.  They – and only they – can get things done. 

That, in essence, is exactly why Donald Trump blocked the passage of the recent bipartisan immigration bill. He wants the immigration crisis to rage on unabated, weaponize it against Biden, and then promise that he will take radical action -- to be a dictator, though only on "day one" -- because only a powerful authoritarian can fix the problem. 

The dirty little secret, of course, is that Republicans have been intentionally pouring molasses onto government, stripping it of its ability to act, and then pointing to its dysfunction as a rationale for radical change. It began decades ago… with a Republican President who, without malevolent intent, set in motion a chain of events that led to a Republican Party that wants the government to fail.

Ronald Reagan’s goal was to reduce government. His followers seized on his language as an excuse to bludgeon government. 

Republican fury at government started when Ronald Reagan campaigned on the idea that “government is not the solution, it is the problem.” Reagan was no radical or even innovative thinker – his thinking dates to Locke and Jeffersonian principles of limited government.

But the themes Reagan articulated would metastasize: that big government is bad, that government regulation is evil, and that the Federal government was wasteful, bloated, and not as equipped as the private sector to solve problems.

You can thank Reagan for smashing government oversight, which – among many other disasters -- triggered the rise of biased news channels, rampant disinformation, and the cesspool of inflammatory deceit that is social media. Reagan’s naïve faith in unfettered capitalism to address societal issues is a darn good explanation of why the United States has done little to turn the tide against global warming. Reagan’s abdication of Federal oversight created a straight line to the porridge of murky financial products and greedy manipulation that cratered global markets in 2008.

But the Gipper couldn’t render government useless on his own. Enter Newt Gingrich, who destroyed the idea that horse-trading and compromise were vital to effective government. As Speaker of the House during the Clinton administration, Gingrich intentionally torpedoed legislation that could be interpreted as a “win” for the opposing party.  

Gingrich’s concept would be formalized as Republican canon when Mitch McConnell officially announced in 2010 that "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." (Yes, that is the exact, precise quote). Where once Congressional leaders felt their job was to create legislation to help citizens, McConnell felt his primary role in government was to ensure that the President of United Stats lost the next election.

The pattern is clear: Democratic majorities win elections, Republican minorities view their mission to be to undermine, thwart, stall, and do nothing... that is, nothing that could be interpreted as a victory for Democrats. 

Now, Republicans want government to stay broken to make authoritarian rule seem necessary and even attractive.

Today, the Republican Party is working hard to make sure that our entire system of government is perceived to be failing and ineffective. 

In recent weeks, we have witnessed a political party intentionally derail majority bi-partisan immigration legislation to ensure that the immigration crisis continues and remains a major liability for the current administration. We witness a former President repeatedly bashing our criminal justice system, seeking to undermine its authority and credibility, all for the sole purpose of keeping himself out of jail.   We see a Supreme Court that has become a national embarrassment, compromised by two-bit grifters who shamefully abuse their office for personal financial gain; a judicial farce finally unveiled as a purely politically operation ferociously bent on reversing settled and confirmed law.

All, note bene, are Republicans… and all contribute to an overall sense that our government can no longer effectively govern.

This alleged ineffectiveness, in turn, becomes the rationale for a strong, authoritarian ruler.

Republicans wage a holy war against our elections in order to create the impression that they are actually in the majority. They are not.

Of course the most profound Republican assault on our democracy is their delusion that elections are rigged, and that Donald Trump actually won the election of 2020. This deceit is the sacred dogma of MAGA Republicans: it simultaneously props up the mythology that the GOP is the majority party while also leveling accusations that the Democratic Party is criminal and that Joe Biden’s presidency is not legitimate.  

It's a very good bet that most Republicans understand the truth: that they are a minority party, and that therefore in a democracy, they are likely to lose far more often than they win. MAGA Republicans get this. So they are desperate to elect a President who, once in office, promises to destroy the democracy and thereby enable them to retain power.

Republican leaders now understand that if democracy is destroyed, they need never worry about job security again.

Ever wonder why senior officials in the Republican Party utterly cave to Donald Trump? Why they trip all over themselves to explain why they think Trump doesn’t really mean the things he says? Why they change their votes, their principles, and their supposed party dogma simply to stay in line behind Trump?

Sure, some may worry about being “primaried,’ but that's just a part of it. Today’s Republican leaders realize that if Donald Trump is elected and succeeds in destroying democracy, they have a lifetime job. They will never be voted out.

Every Republican who cares about democracy has already been run out of today’s GOP. The people who still have their jobs have figured out that total, blind, unswerving loyalty to Donald Trump is the only thing that matters… and that it could be rewarded with a lifetime job.

Democrats do not seem to understand that Republicans actually do want to end democracy.

Democrats, who believe that democratic elections are one of the most sacred components of our constitutional government, simply cannot believe that Republicans no longer want free and fair elections. It is so anathema to their thinking that they somehow cannot believe it is true.

Our problem, in the final analysis, is not simply that Republicans want to end democracy. It is that Democrats refuse to believe that it could happen. Democrats do not seem to be able to imagine how easily Donald Trump can end democracy if he is re-elected.

Let’s say it’s February 22, 2025… one year from today.

That morning, President Donald Trump announces that he will make a nationally televised address from the Oval Office at 9:00 pm.

At this point, Trump has been in office for five weeks. Immediately upon taking his oath of office, Donald Trump has put in motion a plan that emerged from the painful lessons of his first term in office. He nominates only ferocious personal loyalists for critical positions in the Cabinet, DoJ, and military.  He knows how to play the game: if any of his nominees are held up for any reason, he has the power to make “temporary” appointments. Heads, he wins (he gets his Senate confirmation) and tails, you lose (his “temporary” appointments are even more fiercely loyal than his nominees). If the GOP manages to flip the Senate in 2024 – a better than even bet, given the seats in play – the GOP will easily confirm Trump sycophants, toadies, and children to every appointed position of power in the U.S. government.

In his televised speech one year from tonight, Trump delivers on his promise to be a "dictator" on immigration. He declares a “national state of emergency,” announcing that urgent measures must be taken to address the immigration crisis. He declares martial law for three purposes: sealing the Southern border, searching for and arresting undocumented non-residents, and addressing urban homelessness and crime related to the influx of immigrants.

Trump reiterates his campaign rhetoric that immigrants are “vermin we must dispose of in order to preserve our blood.” He orders his hand-picked Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to send the United States military to the southern border, to states with significant populations of undocumented non-residents, and into a dozen major cities across the United States, where military commanders usurp authority from Democratic mayors.

The implementation of martial law creates a monumental firestorm of blow-back from the liberal media. Trump, citing concerns about national security, orders his personal lackey at the Federal Communications Commission to “temporarily” revoke the licenses of regulated media unless they cease broadcasting “biased” and "false" news programming, and directs his bag man at the DoJ to issue “cease and desist” orders to liberal print and online news outlets. These are of course ignored… triggering the arrest of opposition media. Yes, that is what Trump's "retribution" could well look like.... arrest warrants for the likes of Rachel Maddow, A. G. Sulzberger, and Stephen Colbert.

Trump orders that all televisions in public venues must be tuned to FOX News to ensure that all citizens see “accurate” coverage of the “national emergency.”

The “temporary” order of martial law stays in place… for months. Then years. Republicans in Congress gleefully support the President’s right to pre-empt their legislative powers. Trump’s hand-picked Supreme Court upholds his right to declare and sustain “emergency powers.”

Trump’s DoJ begins to systematically target Democratic leaders. First, with investigations into tax returns. Arrests for “tax fraud” follow. Bank accounts are frozen. Those who can make plans to leave the United States. 

Trump unilaterally decides to withdraw from NATO. Ukraine falls. The word and bond of the United States of America means nothing. Russia marches. China observes with great interest, patiently awaiting their opportunity.

An overreaction, you say? Sensationalist and far-fetched?

Think again. Nothing that has been cited here is out of the realm of possibility. Ask the nice guys who finished last in the Weimar Republic.

Donald Trump has declared, publicly, that he would not be a dictator, “other than day one,” on which he promises “we’re closing the southern border and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling.” Does anyone believe that a man who would say that he would be a “dictator” has any understanding or respect for our Constitution?

Donald Trump has publicly declared that if elected President, he will be the “retribution” MAGA world wants. Does anyone seriously think that a man would claims he will seek “retribution” will not use the Department of Justice to go after his political opponents?

By this time next year, Donald Trump could be consolidating power in the United States in the manner that Adolf Hitler used to destroy democracy in Germany. Hitler gained power in a legitimate election, and then used the power of his elected office to gain control of the government, the military, and the media...shutting down protest and opposing voices, usurping all authority.

By this time next year, we could be living in that world, and yet millions of ferociously anti-Trump liberals appear to not take that threat seriously.

It is as if they think it simply could not happen here. Not in the United States of America.

It is as if they do not understand that January 6 was simply a poorly planned, badly executed, last-minute, desperate attempt to overthrow democracy. If re-elected, Donald Trump will have the right plan, all the time he needs, and all the power to do it right.

Because if all those liberals actually understood what was likely to happen, surely they would be signing up to take whatever actions they could now to prevent Donald Trump from regaining power.

Anyone who does not believe that Donald Trump is out to destroy democracy in America is a latter-day Neville Chamberlain kidding themselves that they can achieve “peace for our time.”

Anyone who doubts that MAGA Republicans want to permanently rule our country does not understand the college thesis a young John F. Kennedy wrote, which was later published as a book titled “Why England Slept.”

Anyone who is not actively engaged in protecting our democracy from Donald Trump is someone who thinks that democracy is somebody else’s responsibility.

But what do we see from Democrats today? We have Democrats whining that Joe Biden seems “too old” for the job, failing to acknowledge the more relevant and important fact that he has been one of the most effective Presidents in recent history.  We have progressive factions threatening to “sit on their hands” because Biden is not sufficiently aligned with their position on their single issue. We have young people who feel alienated, and while we can empathize with their desire for different candidates, they must realize that this is the choice they have. Do all they can to elect Joe Biden, or let Donald Trump crush democracy.

What can Democrats do?

Wake up.

No one is suggesting that Democrats resort to an eye-for-an-eye, that Democrats break the law to keep Trump out. No, we all understand that Democrats play by the rules… and we must continue to play by the rules even as Republicans stage insurrections, attempt to reverse the outcome of legitimate elections, and flagrantly lie on televised news programs to preserve their power.

No, the urgent suggestion is that we all must do all we can to win the 2024 election. The suggestion is that Adolf Hitler won an election and used the power of his office to subjugate Germany. And that it could happen here.

Winning this election is the thing – the only thing – that ensures that we do not suffer that fate. It is the only thing the protects us from the hideous scenario outlined above.  

Let’s conclude with one of the most encouraging statistics unearthed in these bleak times. A leader of a political action group recently noted a statistic that for every 37 postcards her organization mails to help turn out the vote, one person actually decides to vote.

Some might find that underwhelming… but that is the wrong interpretation. Rather, we must consider the effectiveness of such a post carding campaign. If twenty people write fifteen postcards three times a week, that’s 900 postcards. If that happens every week for ten weeks, that’s 9,000 postcards. And if that happens in 100,000 towns across the United States, that’s 24,324 votes.

That keeps Georgia Blue.

And Arizona.

Do a similar game with the math of grassroots campaign donations and see how you can change the world – if you and like-minded people decide that democracy is truly your job. 

You can have an impact. Volunteer now. Give to Democratic candidates now.

It is time to fight. It is time to work. It is time to act.

Everyone. Please.

Remember this: Nice guys finish last.

Just ask anyone who lived in the Weimar Republic.


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Monday, February 12, 2024

BTRTN: Preview of New York’s 3rd Congressional District Special Election

Tom reviews the race to replace George Santos.

George Santos will have a D-List celebrity career while on his way to becoming an answer to a trivia question and a historical footnote.  His bizarre run in the limelight as the U.S. representative in New York’s 3rd District ended last December when the dysfunctional GOP-led House finally expelled him, after a near two-year saga.  It took that long to dislodge the fabulist because the GOP was loathe to give up a single vote while their hold on the House was so slim.  Santos’s absence was sorely felt when Speaker Mike Johnson’s effort to impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas fell, embarrassingly, by a single vote.  “Remember me?” Santos mockingly tweeted after the vote.

That vote certainly underlined how crucial this swing district is right now.  The GOP is planning to attempt to impeach Mayorkas again on Tuesday, the same day as the special election to replace Santos.  This is the one day that they can do this with at least some confidence, because ailing Majority Leader Steve Scalise will be back as that desperately needed extra vote, a vote that would be offset if they waited any further if the Democrats flip Santos’s seat.   

The race pits Democrat, and former NY3 rep, Tom Suozzi, who quit the seat to run (unsuccessfully) for New York governor in 2022, against GOP candidate (and political neophyte) Mazi Melesa Pilip.  NY3 comprises most of Nassau County in Long Island and a small part of Queens.  The seat had been a reliably Democratic seat for a decade since 2012, when Steve Israel won it; Suozzi won in 2016, 2018 and 2020, by notable margins (+6, +18, +12); Biden won the district by +8 in 2020.  But when Suozzi stepped down in 2022, the Republican Santos won by +7 over Robert Zimmerman (no, not Bob Dylan) in a race in which Santos’s personal defects were identified, in part, but neither investigated in depth nor publicized nearly enough.

Many view the NY3 vote as a bellwether for November.  Beyond their unexpected performance in the 2022 midterms, Democrats have done exceedingly well in special elections across the country since the midterms, involving local elections (in state legislatures), some ballot initiatives (on abortion rights), a congressional election in Rhode Island and a state supreme court judgeship race in Minnesota, outperforming prior election norms by roughly +10 points on average.  It is not an exaggeration to say that the Republicans have not won an election cycle since 2016, having lost the House in 2018, the Senate and White House in 2020, the midterm expectations game in 2022, and the array of special elections since.  So, some view NY3 as a test of those prevailing winds.

Santos’s win in 2022 was part of a strong showing by the GOP in New York State which, along with Ron DeSantis and company in Florida, were the only bright spots on an otherwise dismal midterm showing by the party nationally.  The GOP did succeed in flipping the House but secured it by the unexpectantly thin margin of only five votes, a margin that has rendered them ungovernable, leading to Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ouster and Mike Johnson’s humiliating reign of error.  That margin has since been whittled down further by the Santos expulsion, the resignations of McCarthy and Bill Johnson of Ohio, offset a bit by the resignation of New York Democrat Brian Higgins.  There will be special elections upcoming for all of those vacant seats, too, in the coming months.

Our official BTRTN prediction is that Democrat Tom Suozzi will win New York’s 3rd congressional district special election by a tight margin, thereby flipping the seat and giving the GOP an even tighter margin for Johnson to work with in the House. There have been two recent polls, one by Newsday and another by Emerson, among likely voters that each show Suozzi up by +4, at the very edge of the margin of error for both.

But the key question is, what will it mean going forward for 2024?  Is NY3 really a good bellwether?  Since New York was so contrary in 2022, it is hard to have confidence that, whatever the outcome, it will be indicative of anything other than the electoral environment in Nassau County.  The 2022 races in New York that flipped to the GOP were largely contested and won on the strength of the “crime” issue, which was a unique platform relative to the rest of the country.

This current NY3 special election, however, has been largely contested on a national issue, immigration, at a time when that issue is in the midst of realignment in terms of messaging.  This is because of the volte face of the GOP with respect to its own hardline immigration bill, which was supported by Joe Biden and (enough) Senate Democrats.  When Donald Trump put out the word that he wanted to bill dead, the GOP Senate meekly followed, mustering only four GOP votes for a bill that they themselves wrote and believed went a long way to addressing their own border security concerns.  Trump believes he needs the immigration issue to run on against Biden, with the economy strengthening by the day.  Handing Biden a bipartisan win with the bill was not what he had in mind (putting, of course and as usual, his own interests ahead of the country).  Biden may not have gotten the win that comes with signing a bill on his weakest issue, but the GOP’s astonishing reversal has given him, Suozzi and the Democrats powerful messaging on immigration, which they had lacked.  They are now able to point to Trump and the GOP as obstructionists in solving the very problem they are running on, and, in addition, the fiasco is yet another example of the GOP’s inability to govern.

All of this occurred in the waning days of the Suozzo-Pilip race.  Has there been enough time for the Democrats' anti-GOP messaging to take hold?  Probably not.  So it is difficult to see how this election is a portent of the future, when it is being waged in a brand new environment that is still evolving and doubtless will continue to do so.

Pilip is also an interesting candidate, with a background and resume built for the times.  She is an Ethiopian Israeli immigrant who served in the Israeli Defense Forces, who married a Ukrainian immigrant.  Here background is thus a personal trifecta that links the three crucial elements – immigration, Ukraine and Israel -- of the Senate bill.  She is also a registered Democrat running as a Republican and is toeing the GOP party line on immigration.

So, regardless of the outcome, NY3’s status as a bellwether is unclear, but a Democratic win could hardly hurt the party’s perception that the winds are with them.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

BTRTN: Why You Should Ignore the Nevada Primary (and Caucus)

Tom explains the GOP weirdness that begins today in Nevada.

This will be the outcome in Nevada this week:  Nikki Haley will win the primary by an overwhelming margin.  Donald Trump will take all the delegates.

How can this be? 

It all gets down to a spat between the state and the state’s Republican Party.  The state legislature, run by Democrats, passed a bill in 2021 that instituted a state primary instead of the traditional caucuses.  They also took measures to improve access to the voting process.  The state’s GOP, in protest, decided to hold the caucuses anyway.  The primary will be held today and the caucuses on this Thursday, February 8.  The state GOP told candidates that delegates would be awarded based on the caucuses only, and also decreed that candidates must choose to be on either the primary ballot or the caucus ballot, but not both. 

Haley chose to be on the primary ballot; Trump chose the caucus.  Haley probably figured she could spin a win this way, Trump figured the same and would also pick up delegates.  Insanity reigns in the GOP. 

You may counter, yes, but the Democrats were showing some of their own insanity in New Hampshire, running a primary that did not result in any delegates, right?  I would agree, to a point, but at least the New Hampshire Democrats were following their state laws, which require New Hampshire to hold a first-in-the-nation primary, whereas the Nevada Republicans are defying their state laws. 

So, there won’t be much drama in seeing Haley stomp over Tim Scott and Mike Pence, who have suspended their campaigns, and such other luminaries as Heath Fulkerson and Donald Kjornes (maybe the latter’s presence will allow Haley to claim to have beaten “Donald”).  For his part, Trump will surely triumph over fringe candidate Ryan Binkley.

It may be of modest interest to see what both candidates say after their respective wins.  Haley has been blasting Trump of late, and she will surely do a bit of that and crow about her "momentum" heading into the South Carolina primary on February 24 (she trails Trump by 30+ points in recent polls).  

For his part, Trump chose to rant about Haley after his New Hampshire win.  You probably missed that spectacle.  Most candidates use their victory speeches to thank the voters, their campaign staffs, and their families, and echo broad themes about how the win signifies support for their vision of America and their platforms, reiterating them in summary form.  It would have been smart for Trump to use the platform to pivot to the general election.  But Trump, for those interested in his “mental competence,” offered this semi-deranged word salad instead: 

“Well, I want to thank everybody.  This is a fantastic state.  This is a great great state.  You know we won New Hampshire three times now. Three. Three. We win it every time. We win the primary, we win the generals we wanted [Note: in the general elections, Trump lost to Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020], and it's very very special place to me. It's very important. If you remember in 2016, we came here and we needed that win and we won by 21 points [Note: actually 19.5] and it was great. And today I have to tell you it was very interesting because I said wow what a great victory but then somebody ran up to the stage all dressed up nicely when it was at 7. But now I just walked up and it's at 14 [Note: Trump won by 11 points and was never as high as +14]. Ran up what it was 7 and you know we have to do what's good for our party, and she was up, and I said well she's still doing like a speech like she won. She didn't win, she lost, and you know last, last week we had a little bit of a problem, and if you remember Ron was very upset because she ran up and she pretended she won Iowa, and I looked around, I said didn't she come in third. Yeah, she came in third, and then I looked at the polls. She was talking about most winnability, who's going to win and I had one put up. I don't know if you're seeing it but I have one put up. We've won almost every single poll in the last three months against crooked Joe Biden. Almost every poll, and she doesn't win those polls, and she doesn't win. This, this is not your typical victory speech. But let's not have somebody take a victory when she had a very bad night, she had a very bad night. And you have the very the now very unpopular governor of this state, this guy he's got to be on something. I've never seen anybody with energy, he’s like hopscotch, and you know I’m I'm watching this guy, and two weeks ago said we're going to win, we're going to win in a landslide, we're going to win. About three days ago I started saying what we want to do well.  That's a big difference. But I walked out just now, we're 14 points up and I don't know what it's going to be [Note: it was never 14, and it ended at 11], but when she was up here was like 6 or 7 and you know with like 7% of the vote counted. Now let me just tell you we had an unbelievable week last week, and Iowa we set a record. It was the best in the history of the caucus in the history, and I remember I sorta I had the same feeling. I'm up and I'm watching, and I said she's taking a victory lap, and we beat her so badly, she was, but Ron beat her also, you know Ron came in second and he left, she came in third, and she’s still hanging around. The other thing she only got 25% of the Republican votes. I don't know if you saw that tremendous numbers of independents came out because in this state, because you have a governor that doesn't frankly know what the hell is doing in this state. In the Republican primary they accept Democrats to vote. In fact I think they had 4,000 Democroats Democrats before October 6. They already voted. Now they're all the voting because they want to make me look as bad as possible, because if you remember we won in 2016 and if you really remembered if you want to play it straight, we also won in 2020 by more and we did much better in 2020 than we did in 2016. [Note:  Trump, then the incumbent, received only token opposition in the NH 2020 primary.]  But as they said we lost by a whisker, just by a whisker. [Note:  it is unclear what he is referring to here.  Maybe Iowa, where he lost by a narrow margin to Ted Cruz and claimed it was fixed?]  No, no, but we can't let that happen. You know you have to have people that speak up. I said I can go up and I can say to everybody oh thank you for the victory, it's wonderful. It's what or I can go up and say, who the hell was the imposter that went up on the stage before and like claimed a victory? She did very poorly actually. She had to win, the governor said she's going to win, she's going to win, she's going to win. Then she, she failed very badly now.”

Stay tuned.

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Saturday, February 3, 2024

BTRTN Announces Winners of the 2024 “Lindsey Grahammys” for the Worst in Republican Hypocrisy

Ready for the awards show that celebrates the most outstanding achievements in Republican political hypocrisy?  Cue the opening credits, the lights, and the music…

Welcome to the 2024 Lindsey Grahammy Awards!

Yes, every year on the day the music industry hands out its “Grammy” awards, Born To Run The Numbers hands out statuettes that memorialize the year’s most egregious examples of deceit, sycophancy, and hypocrisy in the Republican Party.

Tonight is the night! It’s the festive celebration in which Republicans drink the Kool-Aid, swallow their pride, and goose-step along our Red State Carpet hoping this is the year they will please the Donald by winning one of our coveted statuettes. Tonight we are broadcasting from the land of the MAGA Carta, the solemn charter sworn by Republicans to abandon principle, renounce the Constitution, and kiss the ring. In Trump they Trust!

Back when we launched the Lindsey Grahammy Awards in 2020, we knew that the statuettes just had to be named for the Republican Senator from South Carolina who was born with two good arms, two good legs, and two good faces. That’s when Lindsay was caught in perhaps the most audacious, flagrant, and absurd hypocrisy… apart, that is, from every single time that Donald Trump opens his mouth.  

It was in 2016 that Graham justified his opposition to Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court by publicly declaring that it was a matter of principle, and that he was perfectly willing to be held accountable to it:

"I want you to use my words against me. If there's a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, 'Let's let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.'"

Sure enough, that exact, precise circumstance came to pass. When Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency, Lindsey managed to completely, totally, and unabashedly abandon his “principled” position of 2016, thoroughly endorsing Trump’s right to ram through a new court appointee.

Then, when called on his hypocrisy, Graham justified his flip-flop by accusing everyone else of being equally lacking in moral fiber. “I am certain if the shoe were on the other foot, you would do the same.” Lindsey Graham not only operates in an ethical vacuum -- he thinks we all operate with the same contempt for moral principle that he shows!

Ah, but those were the quaint old days when harmless Lindsay defined Republican hypocrisy. Now the GOP is the party of Donald Trump, a man who has mastered, perfected, and actually weaponized hypocrisy. An essential element of Donald Trump’s twisted psychosis is to constantly accuse his opponents of exactly what he knows he is guilty of.

Consider: he accuses Democrats of “weaponizing the DoJ” all while he yearned for an Attorney General who would be his “Roy Cohn,” and then he found one who did “weaponize the DoJ” by egregiously misrepresenting the findings of the first impeachment commission to seemingly exonerate Trump. Trump claims that the 2020 election was rigged, when he was the one who pressured officials in swing states to overturn the results of free and fair elections. He screams that the election of 2020 was stolen, when he was the one who orchestrated the insurrection intended to steal the election from Joe Biden.

Donald Trump is hypocrisy incarnate, and the Republican Party has allowed him to become the GOP incarnate. You don’t need to understand the transitive principle to figure out that Republicans are now the party of hypocrisy.

Virtually all the leaders of the Republican Party have embraced the lie that the 2020 election was rigged and that January 6th was a “legitimate political protest.” Those who did not agree to this deceit have been excommunicated, ostracized, and abandoned.

Indeed, the post-factual Trump Party has become a confab of slimy mutated creatures with outsized vocal cords but lacking spines, memories, and dignity. Where once the identifying traits of Republicanism were fiscal responsibility, global obligation, limited government, and rugged individualism, today’s GOP is a pander-fest of wobbly, weak-kneed sycophants whose every action is determined by fear of retaliation from Donald Trump or his army of unhinged insurrectionists.

The question is increasingly becoming whether there is anything that Republicans do that is not in some manner or measure a hypocritical act. In 2024, “Republican hypocrisy” has become a redundancy, and “Republican principle,” is now an oxymoron. Many have suggested that BTRTN would have a far easier time if we simply tried to find the rare example of Republican political courage than attempt to cull the truly exceptional stand-outs in the avalanche of hypocrisy. Ah, but we are committed to his daunting work… and now, the envelopes, please!

1.    You must obey this subpoena, unless you are, uh, us!

On January 24, 2024, the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee tried to lower the boom on Hunter Biden, claiming he should be held in contempt of Congress for failing to respect a Committee subpoena ordering that he must testify behind closed doors. Biden actually appeared at the hearing, offering to testify on the spot under oath, claiming only that he wanted to testify in public rather than private. Republican members of the committee were outraged by his failure to obey the subpoena’s demand for private testimony.

Fortunately, the hypocrisy police were on the scene, in the person of Jared Moskowitz, a House Democrat from Florida. Moskowitz offered a “bipartisan” solution, promising to vote on the spot that Biden be held in contempt… with one little caveat. He proposed that identical contempt resolutions be passed for each of Republicans Scott Perry, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, and Kevin McCarthy – all of whom ignored House Subpoenas from the January 6 Commission. For that matter, Moskowitz could have added Trump Attorney General William Barr, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino.

Every one of these Republicans ignored a House Committee subpoena. Hunter Biden actually showed up to testify. Which one do the Republicans think should go to jail?

Let’s hand out our first “Lindsey Grahammy” statuette to Jim Jordan, currently the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who insists that a Democrat should go to jail for a “crime” that he personally and unabashedly committed.

2.    Best supporting actor: Matt Gaetz, for supporting Mike Johnson’s budget compromise after ousting Kevin McCarthy as Speaker for pretty much the identical deal.

Who can forget the spectacle of a year ago, when Matt Gaetz roasted Kevin McCarthy’s nuts over an open fire of fifteen House floor votes before allowing him to take the Speaker’s gavel, and then only after securing the right for any single member of the House to call a “motion to vacate” on the Speaker at any time. Guess who did? But the specific hypocrisy that earns Gaetz his Grahammy is that he recently supported Speaker Mike Johnson when Johnson made pretty much the exact same deal that Gaetz excoriated to end McCarthy’s tenure as Speaker.

Matt Gaetz epitomizes the new breed of Republican elected official who views his role less as government and more as performance artist. Give this massive gas bag “best supporting actor” for supporting the puppet he installed as Speaker when he was finished castrating his loathed personal enemy.

3.    Legally Deaf, Blind, But Mostly Dumb: Trump’s Lawyers Argue the Opposite of the Argument they Made Two Year Ago

Ah, legal hypocrisy! Donald Trump’s essential argument for his current claim of total Presidential immunity from prosecution is exactly the opposite of the argument he made when battling his second impeachment. The New York Times pointed out that back in 2021 – when Trump was fighting off his second impeachment -- Trump lawyers argued that because he was out of office, the proper legal mechanism for examining Trump’s role on January 6 was not impeachment, but should be the criminal courts.

But when criminal charges were actually brought against Trump, a new set of lawyers argue that Trump cannot be charged with crimes because he was not convicted in his Senate impeachment trial. This, of course, was famously highlighted by Judge Florence Pan, who asked Trump’s lawyer, D. John Sauer, if his contention of absolute Presidential immunity meant that a President could order Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival. Sauer offered the mind-popping reply that “he would have to be and would speedily be impeached and convicted before the criminal prosecution,” and later embellished that “if there’s no impeachment ever, and no conviction, then the official acts are immune. Period.”

So you can’t criminally prosecute unless there has been a conviction in an impeachment trial. But you can’t have an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office. Follow the logic of Trump’s lawyers: Trump could literally have Joe Biden murdered, and then wait to see if he would be impeached and convicted. If he sensed he would lose and be convicted in the Senate, he could simply immediately resign as President… and walk away a free man. In that scenario, there could be no impeachment conviction, because he was no longer president, and no criminal conviction, because there was no impeachment.

So, there you have it, folks. Trump, knowing that he owns the gonads of at least 35 Republican Senators, believes that if he is re-elected he can order the murder of every Democrat in the United States and never have to worry about a thing. 

4.    What Makes this Court Supreme? Its Supreme Hypocrisy!

One of the undeniable accomplishments of the Republican Party in the past decade is the politicization and corruption of the Supreme Court of the United States. In the face of mind-boggling deception, graft, leaks, and corruption, Chief Justice John Roberts has proven to be a frightened little man incapable of exerting moral influence or authority as his court degrades into a slime-fest of amorality and an arrogant rejection of public scrutiny. 

The moral abyss of the conservatives on the Supreme Court was painfully obvious in the hypocrisy evidenced in their confirmation hearings, when each sought to create the impression that they believed Roe to be “settled law,” and a “confirmed precedent” to be respected… all so that their appointments would be ratified by the Senate. The most stupendous deception: Samuel Alito. In the opinion he authored overturning Roe v. Wade, declared that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start.” In that the Roe ruling was in 1973, and Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2005, his use of the phrase “from the start” unambiguously means that Alito already believed Roe should be overturned at the time of his confirmation hearings. Yet, under oath, Alito spoke of the importance of precedent – stare decisis – and acknowledged that Roe had now been on the books for years and had been challenged and upheld.  Ted Kennedy would claim that Alito assured him in private meetings that he felt Roe was “settled law.” The cowardly Alito absolutely refused to give any indication that he felt the law was “egregiously wrong from the start,” no doubt fearing that it would put his nomination in jeopardy. Later, all of Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney-Barrett would play the same disingenuous game of footsie when their turns came before Congress.

Now, in this past year, we have been forced to endure national humiliation as John Roberts does absolutely nothing to rein in the obvious corruption evidenced by Clarence Thomas. A recent Forbes article simply listed the reports of malfeasance committed by Thomas during his tenure on the Supreme Court and found thirteen different allegations of impropriety: Thomas failing to acknowledge gifts, failing to repay loans, and failing to pay taxes on valuable gifts of an RV, real estate, and tuitions. Thomas accepted invitations to attend meetings of overtly conservative organizations, meetings that included mingling with high-net-worth political donors. Thomas has made a dazzling series of “errors and omissions” on his financial disclosures over the past 20 years.

The Forbes article and ProPublica also note that Thomas has taken “38 ‘destination vacations,’ 26 private jet flights, VIP sports passes, helicopter flights, private resorts, and a ‘standing invitation’ for a private golf club.” And let’s not even get into the fact that his wife is a conspiracy theorist who actually attended the January 6 rally… and yet Clarence Thomas refused to recuse himself from cases involving January 6.

As this mountain of corruption became too big to scale, John Roberts meekly sought to institute an ethics policy that would be handled internally by the Supreme Court. In related news, the fox was formally appointed the Chair of the hen house.

Once upon a time, titans of character, responsibility, and legal expertise from across the ideological spectrum understood that objectivity, character, and principle were the secret sauce that enabled the Supreme Court to undo bad legislation, take down corrupt Presidents, and protect the weak and disenfranchised in our society.

Now we have a court packed with Republican misogynists, leakers, deceivers, and thieves… led by a man who lacks the courage to fix it.

Let’s hand six Lindsey Grahammy statuettes to the six Republican charlatans on the United States Supreme Court. 

5.    House Republicans expel George Santos for doing exactly what Donald Trump does routinely.

House Republicans finally had enough with George Santos. He had lied about his credentials for office. He had used deceptive practices to raise campaign donations. He had misrepresented how he used campaign funds. He had committed illegal acts in the course of campaigning for office. He claimed that legal investigations into his malfeasance were politically motivated.

So Republicans expelled George Santos from Congress.

And they are about to nominate Donald Trump to be the President of the United States.

Donald Trump, who drained the bank accounts of octogenarian donors by tricking them into making their one-time contributions recurring weekly gifts. Trump, who paid money to a porn star to keep news of their affair out of tabloids in the run-up to the 2016 election. Trump, who based the argument for his candidacy on the idea that our government was broken and needed the leadership a savvy, successful, deal-making CEO from the private sector. Turns out Trump was a fraud, a crook, a tax-dodger, and lied more prodigiously than George Santos every dreamed of.

The only question to be asked is which Republican behavior is worse? The 105 Republicans hypocrites who ignored Trump’s identical behavior and voted to expel Santos? Or the 112 Republicans who voted against expelling Santos, perhaps because they knew he was just following the behavior modeled by the Big Boss? You could argue that the latter may be slimeballs, but at least they are consistent.

So we’ll give out 105 Lindsey Grahammy statuettes for the hypocrites who voted Santos out even as they try to get Trump back in. 

6.    The “Biden Crime Family,” versus the “Trump Crime Family.”

Donald Trump enjoys labeling the President as the head of the “Biden Crime Family,” and the utterly unsubstantiated and unproven allegation that Joe Biden personally benefitted from Hunter Biden’s foreign financial deals is at the center of the House Republican effort to impeach Joe Biden.

This is particularly juicy, in that Donald Trump’s entire family was already found to have been part of a massive scheme of fraud. The Trumps actually are the “Trump crime family.” This pertains not only to the New York State real estate conviction, but to the litany of examples of Trump and his family using their White House roles for personal gain. On January 4, 2024, The New York Times reported on a report released by House Democrats providing evidence that Trump took “at least $7.8 million from foreign entities while in office,” adding that this was exactly “the kind of conduct that the G.O.P. is grasping to pin on Joe Biden.” Throw in the two billion Jared Kushner received from a Saudi Prince – over the specific and strong objections of his financials advisors -- for Kushner’s brand new investment fund. It’s pretty easy to figure out which one is the crime family.

C’mon up to the stage… we’ve got a Lindsey Grahammy statuette for all of you – even Eric!

7    Trump tries to stop bipartisan immigration bill because he wants the inaction on immigration to be blamed on Biden.

There’s nothing like “late-breaking hypocrisy” to liven up Grahammys night!

Just this past week, Donald Trump made clear to House Republicans that they must not support the Senate bipartisan deal on immigration reform being led by conservative James Langford.  

Yes, this is Donald Trump, who made immigration the centerpiece of his 2016 campaign, promising he would build a wall to stem the flow of rapists and drug dealers into the United States. This is Donald Trump, who very much wants to make immigration a, if not the, central issue in his 2024 campaign because – in his current vernacular – immigrants “poison our blood.”

Now, he is desperately trying to block a deal that is designed to address the very calamity he wants to run on. There’s absolutely no secret why. As Republican Senator Kevin Cramer explained: “a border deal that actually reduced the flow of illegal immigration… that would be good for Biden politically.”

Republican Senator Mitt Romney was blunt: “…the border is a very important issue for Donald Trump, and the fact that he would communicate to Republican Senators and Congresspeople that he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it… is really appalling.”


What Donald Trump wants is for the undocumented immigrants he loathes to continue pouring into the country for at least another ten months, for the sole and precise reason that they will continue to present a political liability for Joe Biden. Guess he is not all that concerned about all that poison going into our blood after all.

Not to be outdone on the hypocrisy meter, House Speaker Mike Johnson was quoted saying “I don’t think now is the time for comprehensive immigration reform.” Um, what? There is an urgent crisis, the Senate is close to finishing drafting comprehensive immigration reform, and the leader of one of our two Federal legislative bodies is saying that it is “not a good time” for legislation.

Ah, statuettes for both craven hypocrites…

8.    FOX News Claims that the Settlement of the Dominion Lawsuit “reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”

Ah, if only the executives at FOX news were as telegenic and magnetically loathsome as the cast of Succession. No, all we saw in the settlement of the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit was a bunch of cowards who were willing to fork over close to a billion dollars rather than endure a humiliating trial in which their famous prime time anchors would be exposed as two-bit scam artists who lie to their television audience simply to preserve ratings and profits.

In what is perhaps the single most concentrated, undiluted, super-charged nugget of hypocrisy in human history, Fox News issued this statement following the settlement:

“We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”

Minutes after the statement was released, Jake Tapper read it live on the air. Google the clip… Tapper could not contain his laughter.

Shiny Lindsey Grahammys for Murdoch, Hannity, Ingraham, Carlson, and the entire network corrupt liars who decide the news, then report.

9.    Republican Presidential candidates vow to support Donald Trump even if he was convicted of a felony. 

At the opening debate of the 2024 Republican Primary season, Bret Baier of Fox News asked all nine candidates, “You all signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee. If former President Trump is convicted in a court of law, would you still support him as your party’s choice? Please raise you hand if you would.”  Vivek Ramaswamy’s hand shot up first. Then Nikki Haley. Then Tim Scott, Doug Burgum, and Ron DeSantis. Yes, Mike Pence. Even Chris Christie seemed to raise his hand halfway before retreating. Only Asa Hutchinson refused to raise his hand.

To be clear: the central issue in this debate was to help voters determine who should be the Republican nominee for President, the person who swears an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, reflection, or even pausing to ask which crime should be considered in Bret Baier’s hypothetical question, six of the eight candidates said yes. Instantly. Yes, no matter what crime he is convicted of, these six people would support Donald Trump if he was the party’s nominee…whether he was convicted for stealing top-secret government documents, undermining our elections, or attempting to prevent the lawful transition of power.

These six people would swear an oath to their God in order to serve as President, but don’t require Donald Trump to live up to the same standard. Sounds like these people don’t have a clue what the Founding Fathers expected in those who would be President of the United States.

Hypocrisy and cowardice are often joined at the hip. Let’s hand out Lindsey Grahammy special statuettes to Haley, Scott, Ramaswamy, Burgum, DeSantis, and Pence.  Perhaps they all think the “Oath of Office” is actually the “Hypocritical Oath.”

10.    Special Lindsey Grahammy for Shame, Humiliation, and Tawdry Behavior

Not every Lindsay Grahammy recipient needs to be high and mighty in the Republican Party. We take this moment to honor lesser figures who nonetheless punched above their weight and proved that hypocrisy is genuinely a grass roots movement pervasive in the Republican Party.

In this category, nominations included Lauren Boebart “explicitly groping in a family friendly theater” in Denver. You’ve got Marjorie Taylor Greene showing her full-throated GOP support for the Constitution, the First Amendment, and the value of free and spirited debate by saying that any member of the Republican Party unwilling to support Trump’s policies should be "completely eradicated" from the party.  

But no, we’re going to give our “Grassroots Republicans Lindsay Grahammy” to marrieds Christian and Bridget Ziegler of Florida, where hubby led the State Republican Party and wifey is on the Sarasota School Board and is co-founder of “Moms for Liberty,” a conservative group that focuses on education, particularly on eradicating “woke” notions like LGBTQ rights from schools. Well, these paragons of virtue and conservative values are now under investigation – him for an alleged rape of a woman that he and his wife had had a threesome with the prior year. So, ah, Bridget and Christian… we must protect our children from exposure to LGBTQ love, but it’s cool to have a threesome comprised of a lesbian affair and an alleged rapist having extramarital sex. Ah, the state motto of Florida: “If it ain’t woke, don’t fix it.”

11.    Impeach Joe Biden!! He committed the high crime and misdemeanor of… uh… hang on… I am sure we’ll find something…

So you think the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives didn’t accomplish much this year? Hey, they took fifteen floor votes before electing a speaker – that took time and effort! Then they got rid of him as unceremoniously as month-old Ramen noodles – that’s fast government action! Then they moved at light-speed to elect a new speaker, saving tons of time by vetting him less thoroughly than candidates for Real Housewives of Atlanta. Then they, uh, passed a bill that strictly defines milk as something that comes from mammals.

Rather than spend time on urgent issues like Gaza, Ukraine, and immigration, the Republican-led House was laser-focused on one issue: attempting to find a link between Joe Biden and his son’s financial gains from ill-advised international business deals.

After finding not so much as a gossamer thread connecting elder Biden to idiot Biden, the House plunged forth with an impeachment inquiry which was not convened for the normal purpose of evaluating clear evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” No, this impeachment inquiry was convened to try to find such evidence.

This, from the party that accuses Democrats daily of “weaponizing the DoJ” to “dig up” evidence about Donald Trump.

Look, you can criticize Joe Biden for stuff like enjoying too many ice cream cones, but the truth is that House Republicans are wasting tax-payer money for one reason and one reason only: they are trying to besmirch Joe Biden’s record, character, and reputation in an election year.

These, of course, are largely the same losers who refused to vote to impeach Donald Trump in the face of massive evidence of very real high crimes and misdemeanors.

Let’s face it: the “impeachment of Joe Biden” is just an epic bow to Donald Trump, acceding to his wish that the House provide “counter-programming” with the hope of offsetting or negating the spectacle of Trump’s year of courtroom drama.

C’mon, bring ‘em all back on stage for another Lindsey Grahammy each… the House Republicans!

12.    And now, our Grand Lindsey Grahammy for 2024 and our Lifetime Achievement Award for His Unrivaled Contribution to Political Hypocrisy… the envelope please!

No need for the envelope. We already know who wins our Grand Grahammy, year after year.

Who claims to be for law and order while systematically undermining confidence in our judicial system?

Who vowed to protect the Constitution and then led an insurrection to destroy it?

Who spews so much Hitler racist rhetoric that he had to re-assure people he had not read Mein Kampf?

Who supposedly felt immigration was such a problem that he vowed to “build a wall,” and now lobbies aggressively to prevent bipartisan immigration legislation so that the border crisis would remain a liability for his political opponent?

Who claims to be the “least racist person you’ll ever meet” while characterizing immigrants as rapists, drug-dealers and “vermin” from “shithole countries?”

Who made 30,573 false and misleading claims while President of the United States?

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s unanimous, and this election was not rigged and was not stolen.

The Grand Lindsey Grahammy for 2024 and our Lifetime Achievement Award goes to one of the sleaziest, scummiest, most despicable human beings on our planet… well, you know who.

Go ahead, Republicans, nominate him again.

After all you’ve done to prop this loser up, all you’ve done to prostrate yourselves before his throne, all you’ve done to ignore his assault on democracy… well, you’d be hypocrites if you didn’t.

That’s it, folks! One last round of applause for our winners. And remember, the coming year promises to be a big one for Republican hypocrisy… if you see something, say something. Send your nomination for a  2025 Lindsay Grahammy to

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