J.D. Vance Seized His Chance, but the New Right Had a Bad Night

“Vance, who admits to being a “flip-flop-flipper” on Trump, may seem like a counterexample to this narrative. In 2016, he tweeted that the then–presidential candidate “makes people I care about afraid. Immigrants, Muslims, etc. Because of this I find him reprehensible.” Responding to the Access Hollywood tape, he lamented, “Fellow Christians, everyone is watching us when we apologize for this man.” He deleted those tweets, and others critical of the 45th president, while bidding for Trump’s endorsement in the Senate primary, which he eventually received. (Trump then publicly joked that Vance had “kiss[ed] my ass” to get his support, proving that no act of abject fealty goes unpunished.)”

Democrats have the chance to prevent an economic calamity

“The US is currently projected to hit its existing debt ceiling sometime in 2023, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. While raising the ceiling should be relatively straightforward, it’s become a contentious process — and an opportunity for the minority party to extract policy concessions or score political points. Both parties have used debt ceiling increases to their advantage, but Republicans have done so much more frequently in recent years.
In 2011, for example, Republicans balked on suspending the debt limit and refused to move forward until President Barack Obama agreed to key spending cuts, concessions they ultimately secured. The US got so close to default that year, however, that Standard and Poor’s downgraded the country’s credit rating.

Political experts note that this disagreement marked one of the first times it seemed like lawmakers were actually willing to go over the edge, despite the economic chaos that could ensue. Were the US to actually default, that would likely downgrade the dollar and lead to a recession.

While a default has never happened, Republicans’ behavior in 2011 — and their current rhetoric — suggests that they’re more open to the possibility and taking such fights to that point.

Democrats, including in the White House, are reportedly considering preempting this worst-case scenario by tackling the debt ceiling this winter, according to Axios. The White House has denied that such conversations are happening.

There are also still questions about what a debt ceiling bill could look like. While some lawmakers including Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and a group of prominent House Democrats, have expressed support for doing away with the debt ceiling altogether, others, like Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), have opposed taking this route. That’s likely because such talks still offer an opportunity to evaluate spending, and because it could be a useful tool for Democrats should the GOP hold the White House and Congress.

In lieu of getting rid of the debt limit altogether, there’s been growing pressure on Democrats to consider increasing it to such a high value that there isn’t likely to be a standoff over the issue in the short term.”

House Republicans Seek To Shield Kids From Talk About Gender, Sexual Orientation

“A new proposal from congressional Republicans would define sexually-oriented material as “any topic involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related subjects.” The bill, introduced by Rep. Mike Johnson (R–La.) and co-sponsored by 33 Republican members of Congress, is called the “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act.”
Its purpose is to stop schools, libraries, and other institutions from exposing children under 10 years old to those topics, as well as preventing discussions or depictions of other sexually-oriented themes. It would do so by allowing civil lawsuits from parents if federal funds were used to facilitate such discussions. It would also block federal funding for “any program, event, or literature” involving such topics, whether at a school, a museum, a library, or any other institution. And it would also ban all federal funds for institutions with more than one violation in a five-year period.”

“the truly radical side here is the one that wants “any topic involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related subjects” to be off limits for kids.

There are certainly inappropriate ways to discuss these issues with young people, but there are also age-appropriate ways to do so. And it’s safe to assume such subjects may come up organically, without being a part of officially sanctioned curriculum.

Some kids will have gay or transgender parents or relatives. They may even have transgender classmates. And television, movies, and, pop culture are full of depictions of same-sex couples and discussions of gender identity. Kids will have questions about these things, and what are teachers, guidance counselors, and librarians supposed to do when they come up—simply say “we don’t talk about that”?”

“Johnson’s bill would open up schools, libraries, and other institutions to a bevy of lawsuits, since it creates a private right of action for parents “against a government official, government agency, or private entity” if a child under age 10 was “exposed to sexually-oriented material funded in part or in whole by Federal funds.”

Again, there’s something of a bait and switch going on here. Republicans can claim it’s just about not funding certain activities. Meanwhile, it’s inviting parents to sue if a grade school library that has received any money from the federal government includes any books with gay or trans characters.

The bottom line is that the “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act” is being promoted as a way to ensure federal money isn’t funding nude drag queen shows for kids, or programs centered on sexually-oriented content for children. But it’s actually broad enough to ban funds and allow lawsuits for a range of programs—like school libraries or age-appropriate sex education curriculum—that acknowledge sexual orientation or gender identity at all.”

Biden’s Party Is Still Boosting Those ‘MAGA Republicans’ the President Warned Us About

“The ads may have taken different tacks, but all have the same emphasis: presenting moderate Republican candidates as less appealing to the party’s base. If Republican primary voters choose candidates further from the mainstream, then Democrats hope to have an easier time beating them in the general election. By now this is a familiar pattern: In states from Maryland to Pennsylvania to Michigan, Democrats have collectively spent tens of millions on ads painting Republican candidates as “too conservative” or “handpicked by Trump.”

It’s a bad idea in any context, but the tactic looks especially craven in light of President Joe Biden’s speech in Philadelphia earlier this month.

From Independence Hall, Biden warned that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.” He said they “promote authoritarian leaders,” “fan the flames of political violence,” and are “committed…to destroying American democracy.” Opposing these forces constituted “a battle for the soul of this nation.”

But Biden’s warning rings hollow while his party is spending a fortune propping up MAGA Republican candidates, hoping to make them just electable enough for primary voters but not quite electable enough for the general public. It’s a considerable gamble that could easily backfire.”

Most Republicans Support Declaring the United States a Christian Nation

“Christian nationalism, a belief that the United States was founded as a white, Christian nation and that there is no separation between church and state, is gaining steam on the right.

Prominent Republican politicians have made the themes critical to their message to voters in the run up to the 2022 midterm elections. Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, has argued that America is a Christian nation and that the separation of church and state is a “myth.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia hard-liner, declared: “We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian Nationalists.” Amid a backlash, she doubled down and announced she would start selling “Christian Nationalist” shirts. Now Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seems to be flirting with Christian nationalist rhetoric, as well.”

“Our national poll included 2,091 participants, carried out May 6-16, 2022, with a margin of error of +/- 2.14 percent.

We started by asking participants if they believed the Constitution would even allow the United States government to declare the U.S. a “Christian Nation.” We found that 70 percent of Americans — including 57 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats — said that the Constitution would not allow such a declaration. (Indeed, the First Amendment says Congress can neither establish nor prohibit the practice of a religion.)”

“We followed up by asking: “Would You Favor or Oppose the United States Officially Declaring the United States to be a Christian Nation?” The findings were striking.

Overall, 62 percent of respondents said they opposed such a declaration, including 83 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of Republicans. Fully 61 percent of Republicans supported declaring the United States a Christian nation. In other words, even though over half of Republicans previously said such a move would be unconstitutional, a majority of GOP voters would still support this declaration.”

“much of the support for declaring the U.S. a Christian nation comes from Republicans who identify themselves as Evangelical or born-again Christians: Seventy-eight percent of this group support the move compared to 48 percent of other Republicans. Among Democrats, a slight majority of those identifying themselves as Evangelical or born-again Christians also backed such a declaration (52 percent), compared to just 8 percent of other Democrats.”

“Most Republicans in every age group favor designating the U.S. a Christian nation, but even more so in older generations. Fully 71 percent of Silent Generation Republicans and 72 percent of Republican baby boomers would like to see the U.S. officially declared a Christian nation, compared to 33 percent of Silent Generation Democrats and 20 percent of Democratic baby boomers. Among the youngest generations, we see that 51 percent of Millennial Republicans and 51 percent of Generation Z Republicans want the U.S. to be declared a Christian nation, compared to 10 percent of Millennial Democrats and 7 percent of Generation Z Democrats.”

Manchin rails against ‘revenge politics’ on permit plan

“Sen. Joe Manchin on Tuesday railed against what he called “revenge politics,” as liberals in the House and Senate team up with Republicans to oppose his plan to speed permits for natural gas pipelines and other energy projects.

Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, secured a commitment from President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders to include the permitting package in a stopgap government-funding bill in return for his support of a landmark law to curb climate change.

But in the weeks since Biden signed so-called Inflation Reduction Act last month, Democrats and environmental groups have lined up to oppose the permitting plan, calling it bad for the country and the climate. Climate hawks such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, along with dozens of House members, say the permitting plan should be excluded from the must-pass spending bill.

Many Republicans agree. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy panel, called the permitting deal a “political payoff” to Manchin, whose vote on the climate bill was crucial to the law’s passage.

Manchin’s actions on the climate — including secret negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. — “engendered a lot of bad blood” among Republicans, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters. “There’s not a lot of sympathy on our side to provide Sen. Manchin a reward.”

At a news conference Tuesday, Manchin expressed bewilderment at such sentiment, saying he’s “never seen” such an example of “revenge politics,” with Sanders and the “extreme liberal left siding up with Republican leadership” to oppose his plan.

“It’s revenge towards one person — me,” Manchin said.

“I’m hearing that the Republican leadership is upset,” he added. “They’re not going to give a victory to Joe Manchin. Well, Joe Manchin is not looking for a victory.”

While legislative text of his permitting plan has not been made public, Manchin called the bill “a good piece of legislation that is extremely balanced” and does not “bypass any environmental review.″ Instead it would accelerate a timeframe that can take up to 10 years for a major project to win approval.”

Republican Nominees In 40 States Think The 2020 Election Was Stolen. Here’s Why That Matters.

“Almost 200 Republicans who are on the ballot in November 2022 believe that President Biden’s win in the 2020 election was illegitimate. But the 2020 election is over, it can’t be undone — so why is this such a big deal? If a Republican thinks the 2020 election was stolen despite multiple investigations finding no evidence of widespread voter fraud, they might not accept the results of the 2024 election, either. And if they’re elected this November, they will be in a position to influence, and potentially overturn, the next presidential election.”

How Republicans rigged Texas’s federal courts against Biden

“One of the biggest impediments to President Joe Biden’s ability to govern is a small crew of Republican-appointed federal trial judges, all of whom sit in Texas.
In August of 2021, for example, a Trump-appointed judge named Matthew Kacsmaryk ordered the Biden administration to reinstate a Trump-era immigration policy, known as “Remain in Mexico,” which forced many migrants to live in awful conditions on the Mexican side of the US/Mexico border. Although the Supreme Court eventually determined that Kacsmaryk egregiously misread federal immigration law, it left his order in place for nearly a year — and the Court’s most recent decision concerning Remain in Mexico makes it very easy for Kacsmaryk to seize control of federal border policy once again.”

” This one Trump judge’s ability to override an elected president’s policies and assume the powers of a Cabinet secretary is just one aspect of a much larger problem. With the Supreme Court’s tacit blessing, Texas officials and other right-wing litigants can handpick the trial judge who will hear their challenges to Biden administration policies. And when those handpicked judges overreach in ways that even this Supreme Court deems unacceptable, decisions by men like Kacsmaryk can remain in place for as much as a year — effectively replacing governance by an elected presidential administration with rule by unelected Republican judges.

In another, similar case, the Supreme Court allowed a Trump judge named Drew Tipton to temporarily strip Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of much of his authority over Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This is the same Drew Tipton who issued a legally dubious order six days after Biden took office, which blocked the Biden administration’s call for a 100-day pause on deportations while the new administration was figuring out its immigration policies.

And then there’s Judge Reed O’Connor, the Fort Worth, Texas, judge known for rubber stamping nearly any legal outcome requested by Republicans. O’Connor is best known for his order in Texas v. United States, holding that Obamacare must be repealed in its entirety. That decision was so poorly reasoned that seven justices — including four Republican appointees — eventually ruled that no federal judge had any business hearing Texas’s anti-Obamacare lawsuit in the first place.

But that experience did nothing to humble the Rubber Stamp of Fort Worth. In January, O’Connor forced the US Navy to deploy personnel that it deemed unfit for deployment because they are not vaccinated for Covid-19. The Supreme Court blocked most of O’Connor’s ruling in March, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing that the highly partisan judge “in effect inserted [himself] into the Navy’s chain of command, overriding military commanders’ professional military judgments.””

“The fact that all these cases — and this is just a sample of the many policy-setting lawsuits being shunted to a handful of the most conservative judges in Texas — are winding up before a few GOP-appointed judges is not a coincidence. It is a deliberate strategy, made possible by procedural rules that effectively allow litigants to select which judge will hear their lawsuits, and by all appearances, intentionally pursued by the Texas attorney general’s office.”

“the Biden administration’s policies are routinely blocked, not because an impartial judge gives those policies a fair hearing and determines them to be illegal, but because Republican litigants can ensure that lawsuits seeking to undermine President Biden are heard by some of the most partisan judges in the country.”

“the Texas AG’s office has not filed a single case in Austin — the city where that office is actually located — a choice that most likely can be explained by the fact that half of all federal cases filed in Austin are heard by Judge Robert Pitman, an Obama appointee.”

“Although the Supreme Court has, at times, disagreed with the judges Texas’s Republican leaders selected to hear their lawsuits, it’s done nothing to discourage the Texas AG’s judge-shopping. Indeed, if anything, it’s encouraged it.”

“If the courts want to solve the problem of judge-shopping, it would not be hard for them to do so. One solution is to apply the same rule to Texas’s anti-Biden litigation as the Western District of Texas now applies to patent litigation — if a party seeks an order blocking a federal policy, that case will be randomly assigned to any judge within the entire district court where it is filed, not just one in the smaller division.

Alternatively, a court could assign lawsuits seeking a nationwide injunction against a federal policy to a panel of three judges. That’s the solution Fifth Circuit Judge Gregg Costa proposed in a 2018 piece published by the Harvard Law Review’s blog.

In any event, the details of such a solution don’t matter all that much. The important thing is that litigants who are actively trying to sabotage the United States government should not be allowed to handpick judges who share their agenda. For the moment, however, the courts seem to lack the will to address this problem. Texas Republicans can shop around for the judges they want, and that seems to suit a Supreme Court dominated by Republican appointees just fine.”