Democrats Are Long Shots in the Midterms, but If They Hope to Win, Here's What They Need to Do
A five-point plan to retain control of Congress.
Author’s Note: I finished writing this article on Thursday since I planned on travelling Friday and Saturday. A positive COVID test in the family has kept me grounded. Even so, I didn’t have time to write about the big story that broke on Friday with my Sunday deadline looming. Travel plans are back on for next week, so hopefully I’ll have the opportunity in the next few days to put together an article about the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs. Coverage of that event is included in Signals and Noise, though, and, as it so happens, factors into the article that follows.
As a matter of political physics, there’s no reason to expect Democrats to hold on to Congress in the 2022 election. The president’s party almost always loses seats in midterm elections, particularly when the president’s approval rating is in the gutter. The Democrats’ congressional majorities are slimmer than slim. Republicans have held a steady 2-2.5% lead on the generic congressional ballot for most of the year. And the economy is not great. That’s a recipe for a drubbing.
But these are also rather unusual times. So long as he’s president, Joe Biden will always remain the center of the political universe and the main reference point for voters when assessing the direction of the country, but never before has a defeated and politically ambitious one-term ex-president occupied such a prominent place in the political landscape as Donald Trump. It also should go without saying that Trump stirs up mighty strong passions in the electorate.
So while the laws of political science say the Democrats should lose in the coming midterms, I also know anything is possible in the world of politics. Under normal circumstances, the Democrats should get trounced. But maybe these aren’t normal circumstances. Perhaps the 2022 midterms will go down as the exception that proves the rule. My mind is telling me Democrats don’t stand a chance, but my heart wants to believe differently. Why not indulge that impulse for a day? With our democracy under siege, why not hope for the best? So if Democrats are going to pull this off, here’s what they’ll need to do.
1.) Disqualify Republicans: The message here is simple: Republicans can’t be trusted to protect democracy. We all saw that on 1/6 and in the weeks afterward, and as the 1/6 committee hearings have demonstrated, Republicans still haven’t come to terms with what happened that day. Rather than accept the outcome of the 2020 election, they’d rather cling to the lie that Trump actually won, and they’re using that lie as a pretense to undermine future elections. Republican candidates at both the federal and state level are either pushing policies that could be used to subvert the will of voters or refusing to stand up to those in their party who are. Democrats should get every Republican on record as to whether they believe Biden won the 2020 election and if they would caucus with (and thus enable) those who believe he didn’t.
Additionally, Republicans are either far too cozy with fringe conspiracy groups like QAnon and right-wing extremists like the Proud Boys or too cowardly to denounce them. Forced to choose between Liz Cheney and Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republicans in Congress would choose Greene every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Democrats need to make the most radical elements of the Republican Party famous and dare Republican candidates to stand by them.
The challenge for Democrats is that most voters are prioritizing the economy and inflation over issues related to the health of our democracy. That’s understandable: Inflation eats into people’s pocketbooks on a daily basis while the threat of election subversion feels more remote. Democrats need to make it a more prominent issue, though. Democracy is what gives people a voice in their government, what allows them to weigh in on important public matters, and what allows them to hold their leaders accountable for their actions. It’s what makes America America. If we lose that, the people lose their power, and their leaders no longer have to pay attention to the views of the citizens they are supposed to serve. Democrats can make the issue hit home this way: If the citizens can no longer serve as a check on their leaders, then the government would be free to ignore an issue that directly affects their well-being like inflation. That’s what makes protecting democracy such a fundamental issue.
Plenty of people have said Democrats need to be more than just against Trump and the GOP, that they need to stand for a positive agenda. It makes sense: You have to give people a reason to vote for you, not just against the other guy. But Trump has made the preservation of democracy a political issue in the country, so Democrats ought to take a stand for it. The Republican Party won’t stand up to Trump, meaning they won’t stand up for democracy, meaning there’s no guarantee they’ll stand up for you. Democrats will: They’ll stand up for democracy. They’ll stand up for you.
2.) Feel Voters’ Pain on Inflation: This is such a difficult issue for elected officials to deal with. Nearly everything I’ve read suggests there is little the legislative and executive branches of government can do to tame inflation or bring it down in a significant way. Voters, however, expect politicians to fix the problem. This issue alone could wipe Democrats out in 2022.
Republicans will undoubtedly channel voters’ anger over inflation on the campaign trail this fall. Democrats can do the same but I fear that approach would only rebound onto them as the party in power. They’ve got the summer to reset the national debate over this issue. Begin by empathizing with voters in concrete terms. Don’t simply talk about the price of gas or milk in the abstract, but put an exact dollar price on it. Go into detail about the cost of commutes to work or summer travel plans. Make sure voters understand Democrats know down to the cent what families are experiencing right now and how it affects their ability to replace a used car, buy a laptop for their kids, or feed their families a decent meal.
From there, emphasize the inflation we’re dealing with now is mostly a byproduct of clogged international supply lines resulting from China’s failure to manage the pandemic and soaring energy prices thanks to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Those are factors we have little direct control over, meaning hardships will persist until they are resolved. But we can take steps to help alleviate inflation in the short term and prevent this from happening again. It will require some politically unpopular trade-offs, but if we pair short-term anti-inflationary policies with long-term strategic economic plans, Democrats can use this moment to fight inflation and address problems that should have been dealt with decades ago. I would focus on two areas:
Eliminate Trump’s tariffs against China to bring down the cost of Chinese imports BUT pair that with direct government investment in the domestic production of key products typically produced in China, specifically microchips and solar panels.
Increase domestic oil production to bring down the price of gas BUT pair that with increased subsidies supporting the production and sale of electric vehicles and other green technologies.
Those two steps should help bring down inflation in the short term as supply line issues get worked out and put us on a path toward a time when our economic well-being is less dependent on policymakers in Russia and China. To all that I would add a kicker: Republicans themselves don’t really have a plan to deal with inflation. They just want to be angry about it, which makes them feel good but doesn’t fix the problem. Put them in charge without a plan to fix it and they’ll probably cut taxes for the wealthy, gut health care, endlessly relitigate the 2020 election so they can undermine our electoral system, and continue their war on Mickey Mouse, none of which are national priorities and all of which are bad ideas. Make sure Americans know that when it comes to inflation, Democrats are trying to address the economic concerns of the American people while Republicans are trying to cater to the fragile ego of Donald Trump.
3.) Pass Some Sort of Version of Build Back Better: Reports indicate Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin are deep in the weeds over a slimmed-down Build Back Better package. Whatever gets passed—likely something dealing with lowering prescription drug prices, reducing the deficit, raising taxes on the wealthy, and boosting both green and fossil fuel production—won’t be enough and will leave a lot of the Democratic wish list on the cutting room floor (although it would also be wise to see if the bill can reinstate the child tax credit that expired earlier this year and if it can be used to shore up Obamacare.) At this point, though, Democrats need to demonstrate to the American people and their base that they can enact popular (and anti-inflationary) policies, and frankly, there’s no better time to do that than right now as voters begin to think about the election. The Bernie Bros will be disappointed with the legislation, but at least the two-year process of negotiating this bill will have provided Democrats with a concrete list of objectives they can run on in future elections. Right now, take a win if you can get it.
4.) Mobilize Around Abortion Access: Dobbs is a catastrophe for women in the United States. But it’s also a political opportunity. Democrats need to turn it to their advantage.
Given how polarized the country is right now, there is some debate over how big an electoral effect Dobbs will have. My gut tells me it could be decisive in swing states and swing districts, particularly in places that supported Biden for president but voted for Republicans down ballot. The two most important groups seem to be a.) young female voters who might otherwise sit out the 2022 midterms and b.) socially liberal but economically conservative middle-to-upper-class female voters who have prioritized their economic concerns and voted Republican for the past forty years on the assumption Republicans wouldn’t actually overturn Roe or pass unreasonable restrictions on abortion. Overturning Roe upends that calculus, especially as a number of draconian state laws take effect. Democrats need to target this group, as winning them over not only adds voters to the ranks of Democrats but subtracts them from Republican voter rolls.
5.) Change Leaders: It’s time for a new generation of Democrats to take over. It’s not that Biden-Pelosi-Schumer aren’t effective leaders. Few, in fact, probably know the ins and outs of the legislative process better than they do. The Democratic caucus, however, is full of leaders who would prove capable if given the chance, and voters (especially young voters) might respond positively to a new, younger leadership team more attuned to the way politics is played today. A new group of leaders would come with a lot less political baggage as well, signaling a fresh, future-oriented direction for the party that would contrast well with Republicans’ embrace of Trump and McConnell. It’s too soon for Biden (79) to step aside, and Chuck Schumer (71) doesn’t have an heir apparent, but the House leadership team of Nancy Pelosi (82), Steny Hoyer (83), and Jim Clyburn (81) all seem headed to the exits regardless the outcome of the 2022 election. (A multi-racial, multi-gender coalition consisting of representatives Hakeem Jeffries (NY), Katherine Clark (MA), and Pete Aguilar (CA) are apparently poised to take their place.) Pelosi could give Democrats a boost by announcing a decision not to run for Speaker again around Labor Day; it might also force a potential referendum on a Kevin McCarthy speakership, which Democrats should welcome.
It may be that the results of the 2022 election are already determined, putting the Democrats a little over four months away from a rout. The midterm jinx may just be too tough to overcome, especially when dealing with the headwinds of inflation. But as I mentioned earlier, thanks to Trump, these are strange political days. Conventional political wisdom may not hold. Furthermore, as the voting public has become more polarized, perhaps their political preferences will generate more stable electoral outcomes. Republicans might help Democrats out, too, by nominating poor or even toxic candidates (i.e., Eric Greitens, Herschel Walker, Doug Mastriano, Jim Marchant, Ryan Kelly, Carl Palladino, Kristina Karamo, the MAGA squad of Greene-Gaetz-Gosar, etc., etc., etc.) For Democrats to win, though, they’ll need to press whatever advantages they have hard. That means positioning themselves as the party with its eyes on the future, proving to America that they can govern, and making strong, relentless appeals to voters’ pocketbooks as well as their consciences.
Signals and Noise
As a follow-up to an article I wrote last December, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that states may not exclude religious private schools from state tuition programs designed to offset the costs of a private school education. But that’s not the case on everyone’s minds right now…
The case that should be on everyone’s mind is New York State Rifle v. Bruen, in which a 6-3 majority found in a decision written by Clarence Thomas that state laws prohibiting people from carrying guns in public without “proper cause” are unconstitutional since the Second Amendment protects citizens’ rights to not only keep but to bear arms. Thomas, obsessed as he is with a theory of judicial originalism, came to this conclusion using a “text, history, and tradition test” that only proves his poor grasp of the law is rivaled only by his poor grasp of history. (I’ll write more about this in a few weeks.) It’s the kind of opinion that is, to quote Justice Samuel Alito in another case that was handed down this week, “egregiously wrong from the start.”
Thomas’ reasoning in New York State Rifle is that the Second Amendment basically protects an individual’s right to self-defense, which is kind of weird because if that’s literally what that amendment is about, why doesn’t it just, like, say that instead of getting into that stuff about arms? Because I don’t need guns to self-defend myself. I could do that with a baseball bat (not officially invented by the 1780s) or a slingshot (very Biblical and totes original). Mess with me and I’ve got Jack Johnson and Tom O’Leary for you right here. But look, if it’s about guns and self-defense, then states should be free to regulate the hell out of the use of guns in non-self-defense instances. Remember these idiots?
Yeah, definitely not self-defense. That should be 5-10 years in prison now. Show up at the state capitol for an argument about pandemic restrictions looking like this?
Yep, that’s not self-defense, that’s 5-10 years. You so much as flash a gun to intimidate someone, you’re going to jail. (See the person holding the sign behind them? That’s fine. But those guns are not saying, “Self-defense.” They’re saying, “If my owner doesn’t get his way, he might use me.”) Alternate idea: People who choose to arm themselves must dress in a way that announces they are armed and prepared to defend themselves. I’m not talking about a hunter orange t-shirt reading “I am Exercising My Second Amendment Rights” or dressing up like Wyatt Earp. Inspired by Clarence Thomas, I’m thinking something more “original,” like this:
Now that’s a well-regulated militia.
But that’s not the case on everyone’s minds right now. Dobbs is. By Jia Tolentino, for The New Yorker, on the effects of overturning Roe v. Wade: “Anyone who can get pregnant must now face the reality that half of the country is in the hands of legislators who believe that your personhood and autonomy are conditional—who believe that, if you are impregnated by another person, under any circumstance, you have a legal and moral duty to undergo pregnancy, delivery, and, in all likelihood, two decades or more of caregiving, no matter the permanent and potentially devastating consequences for your body, your heart, your mind, your family, your ability to put food on the table, your plans, your aspirations, your life….We have entered an era not of unsafe abortion but of widespread state surveillance and criminalization—of pregnant women, certainly, but also of doctors and pharmacists and clinic staffers and volunteers and friends and family members, of anyone who comes into meaningful contact with a pregnancy that does not end in a healthy birth.”
Elizabeth Weise of USA Today reported deaths during pregnancy could rise 20% in states that ban abortion.
What do abortion rights look like in other nations? Adam Liptak of the New York Times provides some insight (and potentially a model for Democratic legislators going forward.) In a 2021 article for the New York Times, Mary Fitzgerald notes most countries in the world are liberalizing their abortion laws, while autocratic or near-autocratic regimes like those in Hungary and Poland are placing restrictions on abortion.
I wouldn’t be opposed to the Senate hauling Neil Gorsuch and (especially) Brett Kavanaugh before the Judicial Committee to explain their vote in Dobbs. Both indicated Roe was pretty strong precedent. Both were also said to have assured Sen. Susan Collins that Roe was “settled as precedent.” Did they lie to Collins? Sen. Joe Manchin also believed he had received similar assurances from them. Collins and Manchin both released statements expressing disappointment in the two judges. But Erin Gloria Ryan at The Daily Beast asks a better question: “Are Joe Manchin and Susan Collins Stupid—Or Do They Just Think We Are?” (“If they’re telling the truth now, they are the people that necessitate stickers on irons that read ‘WARNING: DO NOT IRON CLOTHES WHILE WEARING THEM.’…‘The fox promised it would not eat any of the chickens if given access to the henhouse!’ doesn’t work as an excuse when the coop is spatter painted with blood and feathers. What’s likely the truth is that Manchin and Collins knew exactly what they were doing in helping confirm Gorsuch and Kavanaugh….Collins and Manchin didn’t care about actually protecting abortion access; they cared about appearing to care about protecting abortion access. They thought voters would be stupid enough to believe that they were doing due diligence to protect women’s reproductive autonomy, and now, they think voters are stupid enough to believe that they were hoodwinked.”)
What was Don Trump’s reaction to Dobbs?
He told FOX News that in the end “this will work out for everybody” and that “God made the decision” (which makes me wonder why it was such a big deal for Mitch McConnell to get Gorsuch and Barrett on the Court then.) He’s also taking credit for appointing three conservatives to the Court as if someone like Teddy Cancun or even John Kasich wouldn’t have done the exact same thing. It’s not like the Federalist Society didn’t have a list to work off of.
But, from the Washington Post: “[Trump] has complained privately that the overturning of Roe could hurt Republicans politically in independent and suburban districts, two advisers said, and has told allies they should emphasize that states can set their own laws. Trump has also told some of his advisers he thinks a better position would be to limit but not ban abortion, two of these people said, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal discussions.”
House Republicans are looking to restrict abortion nationally. But this raises a big question relevant to both Republican and Democratic ambitions: Does the Constitution allow Congress to pass abortion regulations? The states retain police powers to regulate health and welfare; it’s why the federal government does not regulate murder and why it could not impose a national mask mandate during the pandemic. (For the record, I personally think this framework is terribly outdated and needs to be reimagined. Also, as a side note, I’ve always wondered what the federal government would do if a state overturned its laws making murder a crime.) I would assume a conservative Supreme Court would overturn a Democratic law that legalized abortion nationally (even one based on the Equal Protection clause.) But would a conservative Supreme Court also overturn a Republican law that banned abortion nationally? That position would be consistent with conservative legal theory, which has long emphasized that the federal government should not encroach on powers reserved to the states. (Trump’s victory lap on FOX News this week emphasized that the power to regulate abortion is “back to the states where it has always belonged.”) I suspect, though, that when it comes to abortion, a conservative Supreme Court would suddenly discover the federal government has a lot more regulatory power than they once believed.
Surprise(?)! Justice Clarence Thomas wants the Supreme Court after Dobbs to revisit cases that prohibit states from regulating contraception, intimate same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage. This coming from a guy who probably doesn’t drink Coca-Cola because it no longer contains cocaine. Justice Kavanaugh in his concurrence countered Thomas, writing, “Overruling Roe does not mean the overruling of those precedents [pertaining to contraception, intimate same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage], and does not threaten or cast doubt on those precedents.” But I don’t trust anything of Kavanaugh says.
By Ronald Brownstein, for The Atlantic: “America is Growing Apart, Possibly for Good”. Brownstein summarizes an article by Michael Podhorzer who argues that America is dividing into Red and Blue nations, and warns that the Red Nation, animated by authoritarian impulses, is not satisfied with reigning supreme in Red states but longs to impose its views on the nation as a whole even if it means trampling on the nation’s democratic traditions. Podhorzer ultimately compares the current MAGA movement not to the Jim Crow regime that sought to solidify one-party control in one region of the country but to the pro-slavery regime of the 1850s that sought to gain power in the federal government to compel the entire nation to play by their rules.
“Just say [the election] was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”—Trump to a DOJ official in late 2020. This is a smoking gun: Trump knew there was no evidence of fraud in the election but wanted someone to say there was so he had a pretense to overturn the election.
Hypothetical: Let’s say you rent your house one summer to a bunch of college kids with the expectation they do not trash it. They stay there the whole summer without much incident, but then, the night before you get back, they have a big party and the place totally gets trashed. Would you rent your place out to them again? Anyway, Arizona House Speaker Randy Bowers testified at the House Select Committee Hearings this week that he resisted efforts by Trump to overturn the 2020 election, calling such efforts illegal and unconstitutional. (Bowers said Giuliani had “theories” about voter fraud but no “evidence.”) It was powerful testimony. But Bowers said he would still vote for Trump in 2024 because Trump did such a good job
housesittingbefore COVID hit.
Tom Nichols, writing in The Atlantic about the fear Trump has instilled among election workers: “[Trump’s] goal is to make public service a hazardous undertaking, to create an environment in which people working on elections—their fellow American citizens—fear for their lives if they don’t cough up the results they want.”
Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is a pretty loopy guy. This week he said people were coming up to him with tears streaming down their cheeks urging him to run for re-election, which is why he broke his term limit pledge. Happened like this, didn’t it?
Bro, you are in the United States Senate, not a K-Pop band. People in Wisconsin don’t even act that way around Aaron Rodgers. Why would they act that way around you? Anyway, news also broke Johnson tried to slip Mike Pence a slate of fake electors from Wisconsin on 1/6, which is just about the most 4th Grade thing a Senator can do. (“Oh, lookie here, it’s my state’s electoral votes! Must have gotten sent to my office on accident. Wouldn’t want you not to have these, Mikey.”) A reporter tried to ask Johnson what he was up to on January 6 but RonJohn just pretended to be on his phone even after the reporter called him out for faking the call.Ron Johnson pretends to be on his phone and is busted by reporter: “No, you’re not. I can see your screen!”
Johnson for Senate ‘22: He’s a liar and dumb. (UPDATE: Johnson says he received the slate of electors from Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly, who quickly told the press he hasn’t spoken to Johnson in over a decade. Instead, it appears Johnson was working with a former judge who also legally represented Trump.)
The 1/6 Committee found that the following six members of Congress asked for pardons from Trump following the Capitol riot: Matt Gaetz (FL), Mo Brooks (AL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Andy Biggs (AZ), Scott Perry (PA), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA). Jim Jordan (OH) asked if the White House was planning on giving out pardons but did not ask for one personally.
There’s a new line of argument developing on the Right that suggests Republicans saved the day on 1/6. Here’s Bret Baier of FOX News, from The Hill: “The anchor said the testimony proves that Democrats on the committee who have suggested the country was close to an overturned presidential election in 2020 are wrong. If anything, it shows we were not close to that. And even though the president wanted to keep on trying to overturn the election, that there were patriots along the way who said we can’t do this, and so I’m not sure that that premise sells with all the witnesses they are putting forward.” The only problem with this take is that it overlooks the Republican president who encouraged a Republican mob to riot at the Capitol, the Republican members of Congress who egged them on and refused to stand up to Trump’s Big Lie, and the many Republicans in the states and in the electorate who pushed this democracy to its breaking point rather than accept a normal and peaceful transition of power. Without Republicans, a Republican like Mike Pence wouldn’t have had to debate long and hard about doing the right thing on January 6 after years of enabling Trump. As Neil Cavuto responded to Baier, “But if one of [those Republicans] had buckled, it would be a very different—” to which Baier correctly replied, “100%.” January 6 is the story of a political party that failed to keep its house in order and how their recklessness nearly cost this country its democracy. You can’t sweep that under the rug just because a few of them finally sprouted a conscience.
Ryan Kelley, a Republican candidate for governor in Michigan, was arrested this week on charges related to his participation in the 1/6 riot. He’s apparently received a bounce in the polls as a result.
Eric Greitens is about as close to a psychopath as they come. Greitens resigned as governor of Missouri in 2018 after he had been credibly accused of blackmailing a woman he was having an affair with with revenge porn and then sexually assaulting her. His ex-wife has accused him of physical abuse and of abusing their young children. Now he’s running in Missouri’s Republican Senate primary as a MAGA candidate. He has the endorsement of Donald Trump Jr. Here’s his latest political ad (remember RINO stands for “Republican In Name Only”.)
That ad prompted Missouri’s Republican Senate Majority Leader to call the cops on Greitens. Greitens called it a joke (read the room, dude.) Real Clear Politics’ polling aggregator has Greitens in the lead for the nomination.
Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee for Senate in Georgia, thinks there are 52 states. He also didn’t think his multiple personality disorder was a disorder because “Do our Lord Jesus Christ have a mental illness because he said he’s the father, the son and the Holy Spirit? To me, those are 3 different personalities.” I’m guessing Walker failed 3rd Grade Social Studies, Psych 101, and year after year of Sunday School.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, finishing off an argument with a British journalist about strict gun regulations in the UK and the nation’s low homicide rate: “Well, you can go back to your country and worry about your no guns.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) is alarmed by the presence of a bunch of bricks near the House office buildings. Apparently, ever since the 2020 BLM protests, right-wing conspiracy theorists believe the government is supplying protesters with bricks to riot with. The Daily Beast checked into this and found out they’re being used in a (whodathunkit) construction project. They’ve got the whole scoop. Proof yet again that it’s easier for these nut cases to believe the ridiculous than it is to believe reality.
From the dumb to the dangerous: Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas is threatening to block a bill on school meal funding because a provision of the bill prohibits school lunch programs from discriminating against LGBTQ students.
Jeff Greenfield hypothesizes about what would happen if Trump ran for president but lost the Republican nomination: “Most important, a Trump who is denied the nomination — which, by his account, must have been the product of horrible, disgusting cheating the likes of which nobody has ever seen — is a Trump with the inclination and the resources to run an independent campaign for president. And he’ll have enough true believers to doom whoever the GOP nominee is.”
Back to guns: CONGRESS ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING! Republicans finally got onboard with a fairly modest piece of gun control legislation. The two most significant parts of the bill appear to be an expanded background check for gun purchasers between the ages of 18-21 and a provision that expands who qualifies as federally licensed firearms dealers, who are required to conduct background checks. This latter provision is intended to close the gun show loophole. Now to see if this law will actually make a difference.
Conservative writer David French has written an interesting article titled “Against Gun Idolatry”. A few years ago, French wrote an article defending gun rights and gun culture for The Atlantic. He now writes that gun culture—defined by a desire for self-defense—is under attack by gun owners who fetishize guns and brandish firearms as a form of defiance meant to intimidate others and make them feel uncomfortable and unsafe. It’s a trend that threatens to destabilize our democracy.
By Matt Jancer, for Smithsonian Magazine (2018): “Gun Control is as Old as the Old West” (“The ‘Old West’ conjures up all sorts of imagery, but broadly, the term is used to evoke life among the crusty prospectors, threadbare gold panners, madams of brothels, and six-shooter-packing cowboys in small frontier towns – such as Tombstone, Deadwood, Dodge City, or Abilene, to name a few. One other thing these cities had in common: strict gun control laws. ‘Tombstone had much more restrictive laws on carrying guns in public in the 1880s than it has today,’ says Adam Winkler, a professor and specialist in American constitutional law at UCLA School of Law. ‘Today, you’re allowed to carry a gun without a license or permit on Tombstone streets. Back in the 1880s, you weren’t.’ Same goes for most of the New West, to varying degrees, in the once-rowdy frontier towns of Nevada, Kansas, Montana, and South Dakota.”)
Vladislav Zubok writes in Foreign Affairs that the West should stop believing Putin’s war in Ukraine will weaken Putin’s support in Russia in the short term. Instead, it will likely take years of economic pain to push Putin from power, and even if it gets to that point, it’s more likely Russia becomes more authoritarian than cave to public pressure.
From the New York Times: “Western Move to Choke Russia’s Oil Exports Boomerangs, for Now” (“China and India, the world’s most populous countries, have swooped in to buy roughly the same volume of Russian oil that would have gone to the West. Oil prices are so high that Russia is making even more money now from sales than it did before the war began four months ago. And its once-flailing currency has surged in value against the dollar.”)
Katherine Wu of The Atlantic has five pandemic equations that no longer make sense:
2 doses = fully vaccinated
< 6 feet + > 15 minutes = close contact
5 days = end of isolation
Infection + 90 days = no retest
200 cases + 10 hospital admissions per 100,000 = mask? (I’d argue we should all be masking again.)
From Bloomberg: “Supply Issues Account for Half of Surge in US Inflation, Study Says”
From the Wall Street Journal: “Labor Shortage Stymies Construction Work as $1 Trillion Infrastructure Spending Kicks In”
By Rebecca Jennings, for Vox: “Labor Exploitation, Explained by Minions” (“By being portrayed as the unruly proletariat, the film casts Minions as foolish and infantile creatures who are only able to actualize themselves under capitalism: Serving a master who belongs to the ‘transnational jet-set’ of billionaire-coded villains who own private jets and live in palaces is the only way they seem to achieve happiness. Meanwhile, the film suggests that the Minion’s freedom from these masters is ‘precluded by the ostensibly limited cognitive capabilities of the working classes. Thus, the toil of the nascent subject is ultimately ridiculed.’ It might be possible to argue that by exemplifying the effects of capitalism, the Despicable Me franchise is actually producing anti-capitalist commentary. Szklarczyk doesn’t buy this, though: Because Gru is ultimately a good master to the Minions, the films fail as critiques of the system, and in fact condition children to live in an unequal world.”)