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The GOP’s Putin Caucus Steps Into the Spotlight

Just last week I was pointing out the growing rift in the GOP, a rift centered on the open obstruction of aid to Ukraine by what Liz Cheney has famously called the “Putin Wing” of the party. In the last week, the rift has only gotten wider. What I didn’t elaborate on then, though it’s closely related, was the apparent influence of both Russian money and Russian propaganda on a growing number of Republicans. This is now out in the open, and more prominent Republicans are going public about it. Several powerful GOP senators, including Thom Tillis and John Cornyn, are known to be not happy about their party’s ties to the Kremlin. But it’s two GOP House committee chairs who are making the biggest waves. Michael Turner, chair of the Intelligence Committee, and Michael McCaul, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, both made the startling claim that some of their Republican colleagues were echoing Russian propaganda, right on the House floor. They stopped short of c
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Some Republicans are Starting to Poke the Bear

  For all its faults, the Opinion page of The Washington Post is not a venue for the more extreme rightwing pundits. Even so, WaPo has, over the years, lent plenty of dubious respectability to the likes of Marc A. Thiessen and Hugh Hewitt, giving them their own regular columns, which serve to showcase the darker, fact-free side of the both-sides narrative. Thiessen, in particular, is among the more articulate of the Trump crowd, which is not a high bar. He was once a speechwriter for George W. Bush, so you know he speaks fluent bullshit. He used to hang with Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Bolton and the rest of the Neocons — guys in ties who never met a war they didn’t like — so he has a soft spot for Ukraine, and a loathing for Russia that goes back to the womb. In recent times, his columns have gone full-on MAGA, which means he’s generally unreadable except, perhaps, as a future historical artifact. Normally I can’t get past his first paragraph without needing a shower.

Hey, Ronna! Message This!

  Now, while Ronna McDaniel is still in the news, please return with me to last year — almost exactly — when she was still pretending to lead the Republican National Committee. The people of Wisconsin had just elected, by ten percentage points, a sane person to head up their Supreme Court, and Ronna was doing what she does worst: damage control.  “When you’re losing by 10 points, there is a messaging issue.” —   Ronna McDaniel , Republican Party Chair, reacting to the Wisconsin election Y'think, Ronna? You think your message might not be getting across? You think forced birth as a lifestyle isn't generating the numbers you'd hoped? You think an assault rifle in every school isn't making it as a talking point? You think voter suppression just isn't being sold right? Well, Ronna,   here's some free advice   from a marketing communications professional. Take your very worst ideas — the ones people most loathe, the ones that cast your whole party in the vilest pos

House Republicans Find More Rakes to Step On

  Republicans are nothing if not tenacious. The idea that you should never back down, for any reason — no matter how idiotic it makes you look — is now core to the GOP brand. If you’re a Republican, you must train yourself to be oblivious to embarrassment and impervious to irony. There is no lie so shameless that you won’t tell it — and sell it — with a totally straight face. You bring canned answers to questions you weren’t asked, and no answers to those you were. You sidestep every attempt to pin you down, and you’re never wrong about anything. But the downside is starting to show. The more Republicans cling to this bull-headed mendacity, the more ridiculous they look. And ridicule might just be the key to the next election. Whatever one thinks of George Stephanopoulos, his professional take-down of toxic congresswoman Nancy Mace was instructive. She’d been foolish enough to step outside the Fox bubble — to engage with an actual journalist for once — and he

The Golden Age of Both-Siderism is Upon Us

Two things to consider going forward: One, Biden is way more popular than the mainstream media would have you believe. Two, Trump is way less popular than the mainstream media would have you believe. The common denominator here is the mainstream media, who seem bent on ushering the well-honed “both sides are bad” narrative into a golden age. The more Trump descends into a Shakespearean sort of madness, and the more the Republican party follows him into the abyss, the more the press will strain to find something, anything, that makes Democrats look equally bad. It isn’t easy, but this is their formula and they’re sticking to it. They stuck to it all through the 2022 midterms — remember the Red Wave? — and ended up looking like inept fools. There is no sign that they’ve learned anything from that. And it’s not just about their stories, or the deceptive spin they put on their headlines. It’s also about their dishonest use of polls. When The New York Times releases a poll sho

Joe Biden Isn’t Even Breathing Hard

Joe Biden hit it out of the park last week. His State of the Union speech, most agree, was pitch perfect. Even some Republicans, even some Fox pundits, even a toxic tool like Rick Santorum had to stretch to find something to quibble with, though not for lack of trying. Biden eviscerated Trump without once mentioning him by name. He castigated the Supreme Court, with all the due respect they weren’t due. He finessed the Middle East. He stood up for reproductive rights that his Catholic upbringing never allowed for. He taunted Republicans for their naked hypocrisy on immigration, called them out for their betrayal of Ukraine, and got righteously pissed off at what he’s too polite to call an attempted Christo-fascist coup. All this while demonstrating, quite convincingly, that eighty is the new sixty. What came through for me, most of all, was how much he gets off on this. You could see it in that stroll through the very venue that was his workplace for most of hi

The Trouble with Being Born

  In a red state, it’s no great privilege to be born. Certainly not from a legal standpoint. Republican-run governments are highly protective of the unborn, and are now extending legal protection to frozen embryos, at least in Alabama. If you happen to be one of those far-from-born organisms, you now enjoy all the rights of a living child. It’s when you get yourself born that things get complicated. Not that you would then lose those rights, just that they’d be widely ignored, poorly enforced, and cynically violated. But as long as you stay unborn, you’ve got lots of rights you don’t need. In Alabama — a theocracy-in-waiting — the entire nine months of your gestation are now protected by law, and violations of that law will be subject to investigation and enforcement. Logic would now say that if you, a formerly frozen embryo, were to die anywhere along that timeline, a charge of murder could be brought against anyone who might be seen as responsible. The crime