We begin today with Zack Beauchamp of Vox writing about last night’s largely pointless Republican presidential debate.
Donald Trump is solidly over 50 percent in the national polling averages, and no one else in the primary field has anything that looks like momentum. No opponent has been able to find a line of attack that could hurt him; many of them aren’t even trying. The great GOP establishment hope, that Trump’s legal problems might torpedo his campaign, was a mirage. If anything, the four indictments helped him in the primary.
At this point, the only things that could stop Trump are his death or incapacitation. Everyone in the political world — including the debate’s organizers and non-delusional rival candidates — is aware of this fact. Trump isn’t participating in the debates because he doesn’t need to: He would be lowering himself to share a stage with people who pretend to be rivals, but are really just the warm-up act for his coronation.
That doesn’t mean the debate is entirely pointless. The other candidates get something out of being on that stage, like improving their future political prospects or satisfying a need for attention. And if you squint, you might get an actually interesting window into the policy debates that will define a post-Trump Republican Party. […]
The debate is fake. Donald Trump’s grip on the GOP is not.
Heather Cox Richardson writes for her “Letters From an American” Substack about House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s continued courting of the extreme right wing of the Republican Party in lieu of a government shutdown beginning this coming Sunday, Oct. 1.
At any point, McCarthy could agree to work with the Democrats to pass the 12 appropriations bills that will fund the government. Last night, by a vote of 77–19, the Senate illustrated how that could be done by passing a bipartisan continuing resolution to fund the government through November 17 and to provide additional funding for Ukraine.
Today, McCarthy told Republican House members that he would not bring the Senate’s measure up for a vote. Instead, he will continue to court the extremists, who spent the day posturing. At the motion of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), for example, they voted to reduce Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s salary to $1 a year. They went on to pass a number of similarly extreme measures that will never make it through the Senate.
For all that McCarthy is trying to pin the blame for a shutdown on the Democrats, it is the House Republicans who are refusing to perform the most basic of government procedures: fund the government for the next year. When Republicans have shut down the government in the past, the American people blamed them for it, and today Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called out his House colleagues, clearly trying to isolate them, likely hoping to keep them from tainting the whole party in the eyes of voters before the 2024 election.
Michael Macagnone of Roll Call notes that the federal courts have the funds to maintain federal criminal prosecutions during a potential government shutdown.
Should Congress fail to pass spending legislation before Oct. 1, the federal courts will have enough funds to keep the doors open for a while, though many civil cases would taper off because of the shutdown’s effect on Department of Justice operations, according to a contingency plan published this week.
The plan states the Justice Department will exempt more than 84 percent of the department’s workforce, or more than 96,000 employees, from a shutdown furlough. That includes employees “necessary to protect life and property” like the Bureau of Prisons, Drug Enforcement Administration and others. […]
The contingency plan noted that criminal prosecutions would continue as normal. Funding for Special Counsel John L. “Jack” Smith, supervising the criminal cases against Trump in Washington and Florida, comes from a “permanent, indefinite” appropriation which continues in the event of a shutdown.
Appearing alongside Biden, Shawn Fain, the president of the U.A.W.—whose relationship with the White House has sometimes been frosty—described Biden’s decision to join the picket line as “a historic moment.” Fain went on, “Our President chose to stand up with workers in our fight for economic and social justice.” Initially, Fain had kept his distance from the Administration after the strike began, rebuffing an effort by the White House to send two senior officials to Detroit as liaisons. But late last week, after he asked Biden to join a picket line and the President said he would, the union leader’s attitude changed. When Air Force One hit the tarmac at Detroit Metro, Fain was there to greet him and to give him a black U.A.W. baseball cap, which Biden wore outside the Willow Run facility. “Thank you, Mr. President, for coming,” Fain declared. “We know the President will do right by the working class.” […]
Last week, I pointed out that Biden does have a strong record on labor issues. Lacking sixty votes in the Senate, he couldn’t pass the union-supported pro Act, which would make organizing unions easier and weaken the right-to-work laws that exist in twenty-seven states. But since he entered the White House, he has consistently expressed support for unions. And his appointees to the National Labor Relations Board, the agency entrusted with enforcing labor laws, have issued a series of rulings that should make it easier for nonunion workers to organize and harder for nonunion employers, such as Starbucks and Amazon, to intimidate them. If Trump were to win next year, these rulings would surely be reversed, despite his pro-worker bluster.
Can the Biden Administration get this message across? In our splintered age, when many people consume only news and information that reinforce their political opinions, nothing is guaranteed. Even in this polarized environment, though, some events and images can break through and have a lasting impact. Biden’s appearance on the U.A.W. picket line could conceivably be one of them…
Isaac Arnsdorf of The Washington Post writes about Number 45’s appearance at a nonunion shop in Michigan yesterday with an audience mixed with nonunion and striking UAW employees.
Trump offered his support to striking members of the United Auto Workers but demanded the union’s official endorsement or else warned of their imminent extinction. He excoriated Biden administration policies encouraging domestic investment in electric vehicles, calling them an existential danger to U.S. manufacturing and describing efforts to limit planet-warming emissions as irreconcilable with auto industry jobs. […]
Trump spoke at a nonunion business, Drake Enterprises, to an audience that included some striking and nonstriking UAW members, as well as nonunionized industry workers and others who retired or left the industry. The campaign distributed signs saying autoworkers and union members for Trump, not all of which ended up in the hands of autoworkers or union members.
Unions have historically supported Democrats, and Biden won Michigan’s union households by 62 percent to Trump’s 37 percent, according to 2020 exit polls. But Trump has made inroads with working-class voters who traditionally voted for Democrats and is trying to peel off rank-and-file union members from their leaders, a bid to repeat his gains with Midwestern blue-collar workers that helped him win the electoral college in 2016.
Charles Blow of The New York Times says that when Number 45 talks about “the people,” we know exactly who he is talking about.
This idea, that the parameters of the word “people” can be defined by a speaker or writer, came rushing back to me recently as I was reviewing the increasingly erratic posts and comments of Donald Trump.
Intellectually and creatively, Trump is the antithesis of Morrison, but if I come to understand that when Trump says “people,” it is confined to his people, then his inane utterances make more sense to me. In fact, the whole of the MAGA universe begins to make more sense to me.
On Sunday, Trump posted on Truth Social, claiming Comcast, MSNBC’s owner, and “others of the LameStream Media” will be “thoroughly scrutinized” because they are “THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE” who should pay “for what they have done to our once great Country.”
“The people” here means his people, the only worthy and legitimate people, the only ones worth defending because they are the only ones defending him. When he says “our once great country,” he means the country when it most benefited those most devoted to him, at a time when the racial hierarchy was more fixed, the patriarchy was more entrenched, immigrant communities were often whiter and gender identities were more rigid.
Nadra Nittle of The 19th News reports on a proposed Advanced Placement course for Women’s History.
The dearth of women’s political history in AP U.S. Government and Politics, which Williams has years of experience teaching, is a major reason the educator believes in the necessity of an AP course devoted solely to women’s contributions in the United States. That none of the foundational documents included in AP U.S. Government are written by women and few questions on the exam for the course are about women disturb both Williams and Kelly, who contend that the class should be more intersectional. […]
The Women’s History in High School website created by Kelly and Williams outlines the subject matter their proposed course would include, and it’s far-ranging. It would begin by covering women’s roles in Indigenous societies before the Americas were colonized and would go on to cover the American Revolution, Seneca Falls, Manifest Destiny, the Civil War and the Gilded Age — all with women’s issues at the forefront. From there, the course enters the 20th century, examining both world wars, second- and third-wave feminism and the conservative backlash to feminism, before ending in the present day with a focus on contemporary women’s issues and trailblazers.
Rebeca Queimaliños of El País in English reports on an interesting virtual reality demonstration that allows people to “experience” LGBTQ discrimination for themselves.
Fed up with shocking but ineffective headlines, the couple considered how to communicate the terror that victims experience. That was the seed of Ponte en mi Piel, or Put Yourself in my Skin, a virtual reality project that allows viewers to experience first-hand discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. The couple conducted research to create the three stories that make up the project, reflecting what a lesbian teenager, a gay couple and a transgender person may face on a daily basis. The 12-minute experience goes through three stages of each character’s life to show viewers that hate is as timeless as it is impactful. […]
Once you put on the virtual reality glasses, it is impossible not to feel the panic of a lesbian teenager or the helplessness when witnessing a couple being beaten for being gay. Those feelings are universal. However, after months of touring, Porteiro believes that the capacity for empathy among people between the ages of 60 and 80 is greater than among young people. “I don’t know how to explain it. Without sounding pessimistic, I think there is a regression.” To combat that point of view, Porteiro and Ramos want to take the project further. While they offer the experience to schools, institutes, city councils and companies, they are looking for a way to reach Apple and turn it into a mixed-reality experience.
Steven Lee Myers of The New York Times reports on the first test of the EU’s Digital Devices Act.
As Slovakia heads toward an election on Saturday, the country has been inundated with disinformation and other harmful content on social media sites. What is different now is a new European Union law that could force the world’s social media platforms to do more to fight it — or else face fines of up to 6 percent of a company’s revenue.
The law, the Digital Services Act, is intended to force social media giants to adopt new policies and practices to address accusations that they routinely host — and, through their algorithms, popularize — corrosive content. If the measure is successful, as officials and experts hope, its effects could extend far beyond Europe, changing company policies in the United States and elsewhere.
The law, years of painstaking bureaucracy in the making, reflects a growing alarm in European capitals that the unfettered flow of disinformation online — much of it fueled by Russia and other foreign adversaries — threatens to erode the democratic governance at the core of the European Union’s values.
Europe’s effort sharply contrasts with the fight against disinformation in the United States, which has become mired in political and legal debates over what steps, if any, the government may take in shaping what the platforms allow on their sites.
Kyung-joo Jeon of The Diplomat writes about the significance of the North Korea-Russia summit for the Korean peninsula.
Even though Russia and China, as permanent members of the Security Council, have hindered further sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile launches, there has been a bleak expectation that they would act differently should North Korea conduct a seventh nuclear test. Thanks to the deal at this summit, however, Kim Jong Un now has highly effective leverage over Putin. In addition to his unwavering support for Russia’s Ukraine war, Pyongyang’s massive arsenal will become a reason for Putin to overlook North Korea’s proliferation pursuits. The extent of Putin’s desperation mirrors the strength of this leverage. […]
Second, China may not feel comfortable with North Korea’s growing alignment with Russia. While it is uncertain how China views this development, based on its reserved comments, it is evident that China has refrained from signaling a clear position, whether in opposition or support of this cooperation between two neighboring countries. If China had expressed a positive stance, it could have posed a threat to the Western world, but it chose not to do so, or it had no foundation to do so.
Contrary to some arguments, Beijing is likely to perceive more risks than benefits for itself in this situation. It is important to note that China’s foreign policy has not shifted toward forming an alliance with Russia to counter its rival, the United States, since the war in Ukraine. While North Korea remains China’s sole ally, there has always been the potential for differences between the two nations that have prevented them from becoming too closely aligned. Furthermore, both North Korea and Russia have not advocated for a “China-led” world; instead, they seek a multipolar world where they can assert their respective voices and ambitions.
Finally today, Constance Malleret of Guardian reports about the campaign to get Brazilian President President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to nominate the first Black female to Brazil’s highest court.
“It’s absurd to think that in a country that is more than 50% Black, and where Black women are almost a third of the population, there has never been a Black female justice,” said Tainah Pereira, political coordinator of Black Women Decide, an organisation fighting this demographic’s underrepresentation in institutional politics.
Women make up 51% of the population, and Afro-Brazilians 56%, but both groups have been chronically underrepresented in state institutions. This is particularly true in the upper levels of the judiciary: in its 132-year history, the supreme court has only ever had six judges who weren’t white and male – three white women and three Black men.
Civil society is now clamouring for Lula to right this historical injustice. The leftist leader will soon nominate a new judge to the country’s top tribunal, after Chief Justice Rosa Weber reaches the compulsory retirement age of 75 in October.
Have the best possible day everyone!