Republicans Are Rooting for Civil War
Plus, Tilting Our Politics Back Toward Democracy.
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MONA CHAREN: Republicans Are Rooting for Civil War.
Executing a valid search warrant, FBI agents arrived in the morning to search the office. The word “unprecedented” was on everyone’s lips. They seized business records, computers, and other documents related to possible crimes. An enraged Donald Trump denounced the FBI and the Justice Department, saying not that they had abided by the warrant issued by a federal judge, but rather that agents had “broken into” the office.
The year was 2018, and Trump was livid about the FBI’s investigation into his longtime attorney/fixer, Michael Cohen.
At the time, many observers, including me, assumed that the investigation would yield bushels of incriminating documents about Trump. Cohen was his personal lawyer, after all, the guy who wrote the hush-money checks to porn stars and presumably had access to many of Trump’s dodgy or downright illegal acts. It didn’t turn out that way. Yes, Cohen was prosecuted and pleaded guilty to eight counts of criminal tax evasion, campaign finance violations (that was the Stormy Daniels piece), and other frauds. But Trump himself? Nothing. He skated while his faithful minion became a guest of the Bureau of Prisons in Otisville, New York. It was soon thereafter that we learned from Cohen that Trump keeps few records, shuns emails, and speaks not in commands but in Mafia-esque insinuations. Trump doesn’t give direct orders, Cohen testified, he “speaks in code and I understand that code.”
THEODORE R. JOHNSON: Tilting Our Politics Back Toward Democracy.
Among my many guilty pleasures are political “man on the street” interviews where the lack of critical thinking is readily apparent. Even though these vox-pop videos are usually edited to highlight the most embarrassing examples, it’s amazing how many people complain that the government should keep its grubby hands off their Medicare, or respond “my body, my choice” when refusing vaccine mandates but cannot understand the outrage over the Dobbs decision, or say they love the Constitution while wanting to outlaw speech they don’t like or advocating for state-sanctioned Christian nationalism.
As entertaining as it can be to see such sophomoric thinking on display, it’s also sobering to remember that these folks vote. This thought horrified many of the Founders. During the Constitutional Convention, Roger Sherman of Connecticut said the people were uninformed and “constantly liable to be misled.” Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, for whom gerrymandering is named, agreed, saying the people were “daily misled” by “false reports.” George Mason believed the people could not be trusted with democracy and considered the popular vote as “unnatural” as asking a blind man to identify the colors in a rainbow. Alexander Hamilton declared government should be entrusted to “the rich and well born” because “the people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right.” As a result, the Founders insisted on sifting the will of the people through a representative body, building into our democratic culture an enduring distrust of the demos.
Ron Johnson keeps doubling down on all his crackpot ideas, but he couldn’t have been handed a more ideal challenger — progressive Mandela Barnes. And the Wisconsin GOP goes MAGA in the governors’ race. James Wigderson joins Charlie Sykes for a deep dive on Wisconsin politics.
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In November 2019, after hearing the newly appointed commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, Gen. David Berger, give a talk about his plan to transform the force and prepare it for the new challenges America faces, I asked him how he intended to move forward with no one in the role of under secretary for readiness and personnel and a number of other positions related to the plan. At the time, acting personnel had been running many important Pentagon offices for months, in some cases for more than a year—and their confirmed successors would again leave within months once Joe Biden was inaugurated, leaving their offices empty yet again, likely for more months or years. Berger acknowledged that the vacancies presented a serious challenge to the implementation of his plan.
Berger is not alone in feeling the strain caused by unfilled positions in government agencies: As a new report published by the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition shows, the problem has gotten worse over the past decade thanks to a mechanism originally introduced to help accelerate the appointment process for about 280 “noncontroversial” positions subject to confirmation by the Senate: privileged nominations. Instead of helping these nominees move quickly into their roles, the “privileged” calendar has resulted in new delays across the board—and the resulting vacancies have led to serious consequences for the affected agencies.
Meanwhile, in the old neighborhood… A cat survived a 15 story fall.
The PACT Act is law. President Biden signed the law in front of Heath Robinson’s widow and daughter today. The late Buckeye getting a tribute such
Field of Welfare… The Field of Dreams game is cool, but taxpayers footing the bill? Not cool.
What Comes After the Search Warrant? Tim Alberta on how August 8 might become a new hinge point in history.
Why Amnesty's report on the Ukrainian military is so bad… From our friend and periodic contributor Natalia Antonova.
The 87,000 agents? That’s not exactly true. (Though we do need more agents at IRS.)
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