Endgame

Endgame

As you may have heard, the Court was split 4-4 yesterday in a ruling that allowed Pennsylvania to count ballots that arrive up to three days after election day, as the state Supreme Court had ruled. This was, apparently, a Constitutional no-brainer that should have been 8-0 in favor of democracy, but four right-wing justices took a radical turn. With Barrett on the court, these election rulings will almost certainly favor Republicans.

This LA Times editorial has more on the fake ballot boxes in California.

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The Sorensen Monologues

McConnell’s Pack-o-Matic

Suddenly much of traditional media seems preoccupied with the idea that Democrats might consider “packing” the Supreme Court. This particular phrasing is ahistorical and completely misleading. It ignores the years of scorched-earth Republican obstruction to Obama’s judicial nominees, including the refusal to give Merrick Garland a hearing, followed by unbridled court-packing under the Trump administration, in which the judiciary has been stuffed with unqualified cronies and Federalist Society nutjobs.

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What’s on the Ballot?

I have always thought it idiotic how we talk about presidential elections in terms of individual personalities. Presidential elections are first and foremost about social networks — countless appointees to courts and regulatory agencies. Most importantly, this one is about the defeat of authoritarianism — the only way we will ever have a more progressive future, or any future at all.

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A Flock of Fanatics

Bill Barr is fond of blaming “militant secularists” for all of society’s ills, which result from unbridled “individual rapacity,” and insisting on a faith-based “natural law” as the only way to control these instincts. Fun fact: Did you know Bill Barr is worth $40 million? After serving in the first Bush administration, he went to work for Verizon (then GTE), and when he retired, received a $17.1 million income deferral payment and a $10.4 million separation payment according to Forbes. Is it just me, or do I detect a little unbridled individual rapacity?

A couple other relevant links: More on Bannon’s feud with the Pope and the establishment of his creepy nationalist “gladiator school.” I almost missed this bit about FEC chair James Trainor III making some very unsettling remarks that sound suspiciously like, oh, a theocrat trying to establish a state religion. Anyway, he’s only in charge of the election — no biggie.

And for more on Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Ms. Magazine has a rundown, including the source of that quote. The secretive sect she belongs to believes that women are spiritually inferior to men. As one former member put it, “[Husband and wife] cannot meet as equals, because the husband always has divine authority on his side.” Okay, then. Bring those sex discrimination cases ON!

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How to use Twitter without getting angry

Twitter can be a tool for activism, giving a voice to the powerless. On the whole, though, it’s destroying our brains, making people crazy, and dooming us all.

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‘Burbs of Chaos

The Trump campaign and its media surrogates have been pushing the false narrative that America’s cities have become dystopian hellscapes, and that crazed mobs of Those People are headed to the suburbs. It’s a barely-updated version of 1970s “white flight” rhetoric that ignores the changes in cities and suburban demographics over the past 50 years. It is fair to say, though, that suburban and exurban areas are now home to many far-right extremists, one of the most infamous examples being AR-15-toting QAnon conspiracy theorist Marjorie Greene, who will almost certainly win her Congressional race in Georgia.

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Find the villains

One of the standard techniques of authoritarians is to invert the reality of who is doing the most harm in a given conflict. Police who abuse their power are portrayed as restoring law and order in the face of chaotic mobs. Scale is distorted; actual cases of destructive protesters (or bad actors trying to make protesters look bad) are given constant attention, ignoring the overwhelming majority of peaceful activists. Fox and Tucker Carlson and many other American right-wing figures are literally operating at the level of Belarusian authoritarianism, using the same arguments and distortions and defenses of indefensible police and vigilante violence.

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Honest Headlines

News broke a week ago that the Trump campaign did, in fact, collude with Russia in 2016. You’ll recall that when the Mueller Report came out, Bill Barr generated massive headlines with his false summary of the findings. Now that we have damning evidence — from the Republican-led Senate, no less! — no one cares. It disappeared from the headlines within a day. The top story on the NYT shortly afterwards was about blood plasma. It goes without saying that a blockbuster report showing Hillary Clinton colluded with Russian intelligence to win a US election would not disappear so quickly.



First They Came for the Mailboxes…

Post office aside, it’s hard to imagine Trump & Co. going quietly into that good night. Just a few weeks ago, Senate Republicans stripped language from an intelligence bill requiring presidential campaigns to disclose offers of foreign help. You would think this would be uncontroversial, but of course we have the new Senate intelligence committee report that came out today that shows a breathtaking degree of shady contact between the Trump campaign and Moscow in 2016.

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Home of the grave

The Vanity Fair article referenced in the last panel is here. Key paragraphs:

…the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force.

Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.

That anyone on the White House pandemic team would suggest this is beyond scandalous. And yet, how many people know about this story?



Immunity Impunity

According to Ian Millhiser on Vox, the Republican bill places a “wide array of obstacles before workers and consumers who allege that they were infected due to a business’s negligence — or even against plaintiffs who allege they were infected because of truly reckless behavior by a business.” It also, breathtakingly, “allows businesses to sue — and collect damages and attorney’s fees from — anyone who so much as writes a letter to a business demanding compensation for certain Covid-19-related legal violations, if the allegations in that letter are later deemed ‘meritless.’ And it allows the United States attorney general to sue law firms, unions, and other entities that are ‘engaged in a pattern or practice’ of seeking compensation for similar violations.” So if you merely try to hold a business accountable, they can sue your pants off. Brilliant!

Now for the kicker: Do you know what this bill is called? The SAFE TO WORK Act! You can’t make this stuff up! (Actually, you can, and George Orwell did.) 



Visit America!

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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

 

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