Senate page     Dec. 02

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New polls: GA
Dem pickups: PA
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Cannon Blasted by Three-Judge Panel

Yesterday, three Republican-appointed judges of the 11th Circuit completed their review of the very-Trump-friendly ruling from Judge Aileen Cannon, which granted the former president several boons, including the appointment of a special master. And in their ruling, the three judges—William H. Pryor Jr. (Bush II), Britt Grant (Trump) and Andrew L. Brasher (Trump)—unanimously decreed that Cannon was wrong, wrong, wrong.

There's really no nuance here. The judges found that a special master should never have been appointed, and ordered that process be halted immediately. They also instructed Cannon to vacate her entire ruling. There are a number of choice passages in the ruling, including this:

It is indeed extraordinary for a warrant to be executed at the home of a former president—but not in a way that affects our legal analysis or otherwise gives the judiciary license to interfere in an ongoing investigation... To create a special exception here would defy our Nation's foundational principle that our law applies "to all, without regard to numbers, wealth, or rank."

It is not common for a district judge to be rebuked this harshly, but Cannon pretty much asked for it. The judges stayed their ruling for seven days, in case Trump decides to appeal. Since his goal is to waste time, he presumably will, but he's not going to get anywhere. At best, he'll buy himself a few more weeks and a few more irritated judges.

Meanwhile, the adverse-to-Trump legal news isn't likely to stop anytime soon. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) told CNN that the 1/6 Select Committee is going to release its final report sometime this month, while Democrats still control the House. And former Biden press secretary Jen Psaki, who is undoubtedly still pretty dialed-in, told MSNBC that a friend in the Department of Justice told her that AG Merrick Garland is "a quiet storm" who is building a Jan. 6 case against Trump. Undoubtedly, once that storm is unleashed, even a black Sharpie pen won't be enough to change its course. (Z)

Cochise County Commissioners Capitulate

The courage of their convictions, this ain't. Two of the three Cochise County officials responsible for approving election returns refused to do their jobs, due to utterly unsubstantiated claims that there was something awry with the voting. Those two lawyered up, and said they intended to stick to their guns, the legal system be damned. That promise held right up until Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley ordered them to certify the results, or else go to jail. At that point, the holdouts folded like a cheap suit, and made the certification. The final vote was actually 2-0. Republican Tom Crosby, making his case for inclusion in the next edition of Profiles in Courage, not only failed to stick to his guns, he also begged off attendance at the meeting where the certification took place. We assume he was curled up in a corner of his home, in the fetal position, sucking his thumb.

And so, the latest episode of everyone's favorite soap opera, Stop the Steal, comes to an end. Ultimately, the lesson here is that trying to overturn election results through chicanery is all-but-impossible. Few people are as corrupt and as willing to ignore the law and their oaths as the two Republicans in Cochise were. Even fewer are corrupt and are willing to go to jail in service of their agenda. And even then, there are multiple layers of the court and the political system available for deployment. Intransigent officials might plausibly be quickly impeached and removed from office, or their signatures might be deemed unnecessary if they are incapacitated (i.e., in jail). Note also that MAGA maniacs like these folks are only likely to get elected in areas that are very red. So, even if their tantrum works, it is likely to remove more Republican than Democratic votes from the tally (as would have been the case in Cochise).

We are not proposing that shenanigans are impossible, but they are very, very difficult to get away with once the ballots have been cast. And for those looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election, note that of the seven closest states from 2020 (Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada and Michigan), five have Democratic governors. The sixth, Georgia, is run by people who have already made clear their unwillingness to monkey around with election returns. The seventh, Nevada, is going to be governed by a non-MAGA, law-and-order Republican, and will have a Democratic secretary of state. It remains the case that trickery before the election (voter ID laws, reduced voting hours, limited dropboxes for ballots, etc.) is vastly more likely to succeed than trickery after the votes are in. (Z)

Workers Get Railroaded

The Senate has made it official. After the House passed a bill imposing a new labor contract on railroad workers, the Senate followed suit, approving the legislation 80-15. Four senators were absent, while Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted "present," making an important statement that... we completely fail to grasp.

The single-biggest issue in the new contract, from the workers' perspective, was the lack of paid sick days. There was an attempt to add an amendment granting the sick leave, but it only got 52 votes, which is short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture. So, it failed. All of the Democrats present, except for Joe Manchin (D-WV), voted for the sick leave, along with six Republicans: Mike Braun (IN), Ted Cruz (TX), Lindsey Graham (SC), Josh Hawley (MO), John Kennedy (LA) and Marco Rubio (FL). We have absolutely no explanation for that list, and even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) expressed surprise that Cruz is, apparently, a closet socialist.

As readers can imagine, we are not especially familiar with the issues involved in this labor action. And we've looked, and the various media aren't giving a lot of coverage of labor's side of the issue. Fortunately, reader J.G. in Chicago is an 18-year veteran of the railroad industry and is a union official to boot, and has, at our request, provided an overview. Note that this was written at the end of a long day of railroad work, which is quite apropos:

On Monday, Joe Biden asked Congress to impose the terms of a contract rejected by the membership of four of the unions included in a labor coalition of the 12 unions that represent the majority of American rail workers. I think most railroad workers were shocked to hear that position from a president who, throughout his entire career, has striven to present himself as an ally of organized labor and specifically of rail laborers. Throughout his Senate career, Biden was known as "Amtrak Joe" not just because he commuted to Washington daily from Delaware, but because of his advocacy on behalf of rail workers. In fact, in 1992, he was one of only six votes in the Senate supporting rail labor, and against the legislation which ended the last major rail labor work stoppage. President Biden has cited the potentially devastating economic implications a prolonged strike could have on the economy. Many dependent industries would be immediately affected, and within a week drinking water purification and the production of electricity would also be impacted. However, Biden's call for the tentative agreement to be imposed hamstrings the collective bargaining efforts of his (purported) union allies and rewards the bad faith tactics of railroad management.

As has been widely reported, the central issues to the impasse are not compensation, but work rules concerning time off and, most specifically, sick days. At present, rail workers have no paid sick days. Municipal and state laws concerning paid sick leave have no bearing on rail workers; because railroad work is classified as "interstate commerce" it is mostly only regulated at the Federal level. While some workers do have paid "personal" days that can be used, these typically are required to requested weeks in advance and are only granted at the railroads' discretion. These days are often limited by service time or assignment-specific rules, and it has not been uncommon in recent years for class-I railroads to issue blanket rejections to all personal day requests and pay out the value of the days at year's end.

Many people outside of the industry do not understand the time demands placed on rail workers. In the transportation departments of railroads (locomotive engineers and conductors who crew and operate trains), many workers are required to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A typical "trip," when a worker is called for duty, usually consists of a 12-hour work period ending in a location 100-300 miles from their home base. They then observe a 10-24 hour rest period at a hotel or dormitory before working on another train for 12 hours in transit to their "home" terminal. Upon completion of this 36-48 round trip, they can be required to begin their next tour of duty in 10 hours time. While some federal regulations are in place regarding rest, they are measures which are in place to provide for safe operations and do not address quality of life. For many, 72 hours on duty, with 48 hours in a hotel, and 48 hours at home, is a typical week. SMART-TD is one of the unions representing transportation workers that rejected the tentative agreement. Many workers in the maintenance of way departments work on location for days on end hundreds of miles from home, and they also work shifts that can be continued indefinitely. 20-hour shifts can be required unexpectedly due to weather events or mainline service interruptions. BMWED, which voted to reject the tentative agreement, represents workers in this department.

These work conditions are not new to railroads. What is new in the last 5 years is the implementation of draconian attendance/disciplinary programs and "Precision Scheduled Railroading" (PSR), a management strategy which seeks to boost profits through maximizing the use of assets while minimizing expenses. PSR has resulted in significantly fewer trains, while the ones that do run are longer and heavier. This makes the jobs workers do more taxing, dangerous and difficult. PSR has reduced maintenance on locomotives, cars, and rail infrastructure to bare minimums; these reductions have led to an increase in injuries and equipment failures, which create delays for customers, adjacent communities and the network itself. Railroads see their employees both as assets to be maximized and expenses to be limited. To that end, the PSR era (beginning in 2018) has seen a 30% reduction in the size of the work force, while year-in and year-out, the industry has moved the same amount of freight and posted record profits each year. To maximize the amount of time each remaining employee spends on the job, punitive points systems for attendance have been unilaterally implemented. BNSF Railway's "HiViz" policy has been especially noteworthy, prompting hundreds of career employees to resign. The quality of service to customers has plummeted in the PSR era. The decline in service has resulted in investigations and hearings led by the Surface Transportation Board and by congressional committees.

The last contract expired on January 1, 2020. The railroads' approach to negotiations has been unyielding and antagonistic. Railroads have openly expressed their desire to eventually eliminate nearly all collectively bargained positions through automation and deregulation. Railroads stalled negotiations for months on end demanding transportation unions agree to eliminate conductor positions on through-freight trains; this would seriously degrade safety standards and eliminate thousands of jobs in the craft. Not only was this demand a non-starter for unions, it also anticipated a state of deregulation which does not currently exist. At present, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires two crew members to be on nearly all through-freight movement. The FRA's formal regulation of this was not considered a necessity until recently (two-person-minimum crews were seen as essential by all sides for decades). The two-person-crew regulation may become a permanent regulation as soon as year's end.

This summer, after more than 30 months of impasse, and in accordance with the 1926 Rail Labor Act, President Biden appointed a "Presidential Emergency Board" (PEB) to hear arguments from both sides and issue recommendations. The PEB punted on most issues brought before them, recommending that things such as scheduling and work rules be removed from the national agreement for localized bargaining and/or arbitration to resolve the difference. Notably, the PEB made proposals for wages that split the railroads' and the unions' positions down the middle. However, in regards to paid sick days, the PEB recommend the railroads' position of zero paid sick days over the unions' request for 15. The PEB's recommendations were immediately praised by the railroads and condemned by the unions for the total lack of paid sick days provided. A strike date was set for September 16. In the days leading up to September 16, deadline marathon negotiations sessions were held between the parties, mediated by Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. On Sept. 15, the sides agreed to a tentative pact with almost no changes to the PEB recommendations, and 0 paid sick days. The only concessions from railroads were to eliminate punitive penalties for attendance in instances where workers were unavailable to work due to hospitalization and the punitive penalty for 1 unpaid day used for medical appointments or procedures, provided that the railroad approve the day in advance and that it only occur on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

Union leadership was clear upon presenting the tentative agreement that they did not endorse the terms, but felt compelled to offer membership a chance to vote on the terms. Leadership was convinced that pursuant to the 1926 Rail Labor Act, Congress would act to impose terms on September 16 before a strike could significantly disrupt operations. Such action would also deny rank and file membership any opportunity to directly weigh in on terms. After the final ratification voting totals were announced on November 21, with 4 unions rejecting the tentative agreement, the strike date of December 9 was set. Rail workers and their union leaders have understood throughout the bargaining process that the railroads have stuck to their position in the belief that Congress would never allow a work disruption to threaten the fragile supply chain. If railroads believed themselves to be vulnerable to the losses that could be incurred by any other industry vulnerable to a workers' strike, they'd have never have held the positions that they did.

The rhetoric and resoluteness that came from the President and Congressional leadership this week was shocking to railroad workers. We understand that the consequences of a work stoppage could be damaging not only to the economy but also to the political fortunes of those in power. Nonetheless, rail unions have been tireless advocates for Democratic candidates and policies for a long time. The willingness of leadership to subvert the collective bargaining process appears to many of us to be a betrayal of both our loyalty and their stated principles. It also appears to play into the Republican narrative that Democrats are only concerned with the concerns of "elites," and have turned their back on the working class. The House's approval of H.R. 100, imposing contractual terms on us, is a major disappointment. Perhaps the progressive wing of the party feels the same shock and disappointment we do, because H.R. 149, advanced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), mandating 7 paid sick days for rail workers, came as major surprise. H.R. 149 also passed yesterday on nearly straight party lines. If the Senate approves both bills, rail labor will see it as a major victory. If the tentative agreement had included 7 paid sick days, it would have been overwhelmingly ratified across the board. However if H.R. 100 passes and H.R. 149 is either defeated or tabled, it will be felt as a painful blow to rail workers. It is also likely that if H.R. 149 fails to be enacted, many rail worker will see it as ploy that was designed to provide Democrats cover for denying us the right to strike and to continue bargaining for our contract, while shifting blame to the Republicans.

If readers would like to know more about the direction of the industry in the last 5 years, and the positions of the unions, see here and here.

Thank you for your report, J.G. And since J.G. wrote in, as we note above, the Senate did pass the main bill while rejecting the paid sick days bill. Perhaps things like this help explain why culture wars issues work. After all, if neither party is delivering on kitchen table stuff, then might as well go with the party that's delivering on the culture stuff. (Z)

Walker Crawls to the Finish Line

Today is the last day of early voting in Georgia, and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is doing everything he can to finish strong. He's blanketing the airwaves with commercials, some of them negative, but many of them more positive and/or uplifting. His get-out-the-vote operation is running at full steam. He's on the campaign trail 12 hours a day, and yesterday held a rally with the rock star of Democratic rock stars, Barack Obama. "You have the power to determine the course of this country," the former president thundered.

Herschel Walker, on the other hand? Not so much. He's got less money, which means fewer ads and fewer people on the ground. He's a less... enthusiastic campaigner than Warnock, shall we say. In fact, the would-be senator decided to grant himself a five-day Thanksgiving vacation. So, for nearly a week, just as early voting was getting underway, he was invisible while Warnock was pounding the pavement. Republican officials are furious over their candidate's lackadaisical attitude.

If that were not enough, Walker got a couple more bits of adverse news on Thursday. First, five more of his ex-romantic partners came forward with tales of horror about his behavior. They said that he is often physically abusive, that he's profoundly dishonest, and that he's a serial philanderer. "He's a pathological liar. Absolutely. But it's more than that," said ex-girlfriend Cheryl Parsa, "He knows how to manipulate his disease, in order to manipulate people, while at times being simultaneously completely out of control." Clearly, someone is carefully managing the release of anti-Walker dirt. And they appear to be doing a bang-up job, such that there are new revelations almost every day.

On top of that, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R-GA) waited in line for an hour to cast his ballot, and then announced that he just couldn't vote for either candidate. Appearing on CNN, Duncan said: "It was the most disappointing ballot I have ever stared at in my entire life. I got two candidates that didn't make any sense for me to put my vote behind. So I walked out of that ballot box, showing up to vote, but not voting for either one of them." It is unlikely that Democrats will be influenced by a Republican's lack of enthusiasm for their candidate. But Republicans? Maybe. Undoubtedly, it cost Richard Nixon some votes in 1960 when then-president Dwight D. Eisenhower said it would take him a week to think of something Nixon had contributed to the administration. Duncan's lack of enthusiasm for Walker could have the same effect.

Despite these various setbacks, Walker talked to Fox to peddle the story that the early turnout "looks good for me." But this is nonsense. The final result is going to be close, of course, but to the extent that we can read anything from the tea leaves thus far, it's that Warnock is leading. Relative to the general election, turnout is up slightly (a few percentage points) in blue counties, and among Black and young voters. Walker is almost certainly going to start in a hole of some size on Tuesday, and will need Election Day Republican votes to make that up. (Z)

Biden Has His Black List

No, it's not like Dick Nixon's enemies list. That's a blacklist, and this is a Black list. As we have noted several times, the DNC is strongly considering a shakeup of its primary calendar. The very white states of Iowa and New Hampshire secured their place at the front of the line back when the primary concern of the major parties was keeping white people happy. That's not true for all of the major parties anymore, and so the Democrats would like to make sure that non-white voters have a larger voice in determining the identity of the Party's nominee.

As the sitting president, Joe Biden will have a lot of input into this process. It is true that Jaime Harrison runs the DNC, but a sitting president is always the leader of their party. And this sitting president has just weighed in with his opinion: He wants South Carolina to go first, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire on the same day a week later, then Georgia a week after that, and then Michigan a week after that, followed by Super Tuesday.

Putting Nevada and New Hampshire on the same day is surely going to impact New Hampsshire. Given a choice between frolicking in the Nevada sunshine or the snows of New Hampshire in February, we suspect most Democrats will choose the former. Besides, Nevada has more delegates to the convention than New Hampshire. So New Hampshire may hold its primary early on, but if nobody shows up, then what? It won't matter so much.

It's not too much of a surprise that he put South Carolina first, since that's the state that elevated Biden from also-ran to frontrunner in 2020. It also makes tactical sense; Black voters aren't the biggest Democratic constituency, but they are a key constituency in several swing states. So, the Party is well served to find a candidate that excites Black voters, and South Carolina has a lot of them (as does Georgia). Getting a couple of medium-to-large swing states in there before Super Tuesday also makes some sense (and it also doesn't hurt to do a little kissing up to Georgians a few days before a key runoff election). It would not be ideal for Michigan and Georgia to go first and second, but it shouldn't be a problem for a candidate who comes out of the South Carolina-Nevada-New Hampshire run with some momentum, even if they are not loaded with cash. Meanwhile, Iowa is nowhere to be seen on the President's list. At this point, it would take a miracle for the Hawkeye State to retain its first-in-the-nation status, at least for the Democrats.

And as long as we're talking Democratic inside baseball, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) dropped out of the race to be assistant minority leader on Thursday, allowing Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) to claim the post. That means the upper ranks of the House Democratic leadership will still have one octogenarian, but will also be diverse, with a total of zero white men in the top four slots. If Cicilline had won the gig, then that would have given the party a white guy, but a gay white guy, and so a different form of diversity. Either way, it's not your parents' Democratic Party. (Z)

Ye Olde Fashioned Meltdown

The artist formerly known as Kanye West, and now known as Ye, is currently in the midst of a very public bout of... something. All we know for sure is that something is very wrong.

Everyone knows by now about his turn toward antisemitism, which became public with his tweet that he wanted to go "death con 3" on the Jews. Then he began palling around with notorious bigot Nick Fuentes, bringing him to the dinner heard 'round the world at Mar-a-Lago. And yesterday, Ye sunk even deeper into the muck. He appeared on Alex Jones' show/podcast, accompanied by Fuentes, which is always a promising start. And throughout the appearance, Ye wore a black ski mask that covered his entire face, which made him look like a bank robber. Oh, and he also shared some new opinions, such as "I like Hitler" and "We've got to stop dissing the Nazis all the time." He also insisted that he loves Jews, too, and after the interview he tweeted out an image that combines a swastika and a Star of David.

There has been some scuttlebutt that the point of the dinner with Trump was actually to embarrass the former president. And we, and at least one reader (J.G. in San Diego), have considered the possibility that all of this is some sort of performance art, and that in 6 months' time Ye will come out and explain it was all a put-on, designed to expose the Trumpublicans for who they are. We doubt it, though, as this performance appears to have wrecked Ye's marriage, and it's definitely cost him over a billion dollars. If it actually is a performance piece, then he's really committed to the bit.

In any event, Ye is finally being canceled by those on the right. The RNC and other Republican officials have been deleting past tweets that were supportive of the artist. Parler has canceled Ye's purchase of the platform. Elon Musk has re-suspended Ye's Twitter account.

We did not especially want to write this story up, as it's got so much of a National Enquirer feel to it. But the fact is that, whether it was his intention or not, Ye has most certainly reminded us of how much extremism and bigotry there is among the Trumpublican wing of the Republican Party. Remember that his antisemitism was well-established weeks ago, and yet he was still getting dinner invites from the former president and being booked for appearances on all the right-wing media outlets. It was only when he kept it up, and crossed way over the line, that the Trumpers finally backed off of him.

The Daily Show has made this same basic point in a different way, with this video, which is well worth watching:

If you do not watch it, it's clips of Nick Fuentes' speeches and podcast, edited together with clips from Fox (especially from Tucker Carlson). It shows Fuentes saying something extremist and bigoted, and then shows someone on Fox... saying the exact same thing. What it boils down to is that when the MAGA members of the Republican Party and media establishment pretend to be upset about the awful things that people like Ye and Fuentes say, don't believe it. They have made very clear they aren't bothered at all. (Z)

The Word Cup, Part IV: Presidential Campaigns, from the Civil War to World War II

Time for another round of slogans. Here are the three previous rounds:

Up today are slogans used by presidents between 1861 and 1945. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries produced a lot of bland presidents and a lot of bland slogans, hence the long period of time needed to include four contenders. Here they are:

Carved stone that says 'Let Us Have Peace'

Let Us Have Peace (1868): This one doesn't resonate with modern Americans very much. But while the Civil War itself ended with Robert E. Lee's surrender on April 9, 1865, the tensions that had fueled the war were still very much in effect. From the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, to political tensions in Washington and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, to vigilantism and the rise of the KKK in the South, to ongoing armed conflict with the Natives, the nation was not in a good place in the years immediately following the rebellion.

This is the context in which Ulysses S. Grant ran for president in 1868. His message was that, as the man who won the war, he could also be the man who won the peace. This promise was perfectly encapsulated by his slogan "Let Us Have Peace." And not only did he get elected in a landslide, he did bring peace, to a fair extent. Washington grew less divisive, the KKK and other extremist groups were stomped out of existence, and the Grant administration pursued a generally humanitarian policy toward the Natives (albeit not a total cessation of violence).

The changes that took place under Grant were secured based on his personal popularity, and did not last much beyond his time in office. The delicate situation in the South descended into white supremacy and lynching within two decades of Grant leaving office. The presidents after him were more aggressive with the Natives, culminating in the Natives' ultimate defeat by 1890. Washington turned nasty again, particularly as the Democratic Party pulled itself together again. Still, the healing that Grant brought to the nation, if only temporary, was such an important part of his legacy that "Let Us Have Peace" is inscribed above his tomb (see picture).

Sheet music that says 'Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa? Up in the White House, Dear'

Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa? (1884): Speaking of nasty post-Grant politics, the election of 1884 was a real mudslinging contest. As a general rule back then, the Republicans were dominant nationally, and won virtually all presidential elections. But that year, the GOP nominated James G. Blaine, who was a notorious spoilsman and all-around sleazeball. Meanwhile, the Democrats chose an uncharacteristically strong candidate in Grover Cleveland.

The Republican pooh-bahs knew full well that their candidate's reputation for corrupt behavior would be a problem, so they looked everywhere for dirt on Cleveland. The term "oppo research" didn't exist back then, but if it had, it would be on the mark. And the proto-oppo researchers eventually came up with something: Cleveland might have fathered a child out of wedlock. Hence the slogan, "Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa?"

The problem for the Republicans is that, somewhat like Hillary Clinton's "deplorables," the scheme basically backfired. Cleveland, ensconced in the first-ever presidential sex scandal, did not say "I did not have sex with that woman." Instead, he admitted to a relationship and said he wasn't certain of the paternity of the child but that he paid child support because he felt it was the right thing to do. Voters appreciated his candor and his sense of honor, and "Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa?" became something of a rallying cry for Democrats, as indicated by the pro-Cleveland sheet music shown in the picture. One Democratic voter explained his reasoning: "We are told that Mr. Blaine has been delinquent in office but blameless in private life, while Mr. Cleveland has been a model of official integrity, but culpable in his personal relations. We should therefore elect Mr. Cleveland to the public office which he is so well qualified to fill, and remand Mr. Blaine to the private station which he is admirably fitted to adorn."

Once Cleveland won the election, of course, the Democrats added to the slogan: "Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa? Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha!"

Button that says 'Keep Cool with Coolidge'

Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge (1924): This slogan had no meaningful impact on the election of 1924, which Coolidge won in a landslide, and would have won in a landslide even without "Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge" (and its many variants).

Still, it is definitely catchy. And few slogans have captured the zeitgeist of their era better than this one. Having largely recovered from World War I, the U.S. was cruising along, and wanted more of the same. Though Coolidge had been pretty active in his first year as president, he had been consumed by depression after the untimely death of his son, and he was caretaker president by the time of his reelection bid. But that's what people wanted, and that's what they voted for.

Of course, there is the Titanic problem: sometimes you're cruising along, and not paying attention, and you cruise right into an iceberg. And the 4 years of hands-off stewardship that Coolidge won in 1924 saw the groundwork laid for the Great Depression. The President didn't notice the signs, and certainly didn't do anything to correct course, thus setting the stage for... well, the next slogan.

Button that says 'For a New Deal and has FDR's picture'

A New Deal for America (1932): The stock market crashed in October 1929, but it took a year or so for the U.S. to be fully subsumed by the Great Depression. Once it was, however, things got ugly: vast unemployment, homelessness, starvation, crime, etc.

Herbert Hoover, who both served and followed Calvin Coolidge, would have been an excellent caretaker president, as he was a very skillful administrator. But when confronted with an unprecedented crisis like the Great Depression? Well, he was the wrong guy. He didn't really believe that trying to smooth out the ups and downs of the economy was the federal government's job. And besides that, he was a man of very limited imagination.

So, to the extent that Hoover had a plan, it was to prop up business interests and to make clear he was "in charge" and that the federal government was still strong. The business part of that did not work out very well, of course. And as to showing strength, Hoover really thought that attacking the Bonus Expeditionary Army—World War I veterans who had descended on Washington in search of early payment of their service "bonus"—would impress Americans. It did not, and he was dead meat heading into the Election of 1932.

The slogan used by Democratic nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt, "A New Deal for America," was not essential to his victory in the presidential election. Hoover would have lost to anyone the Democrats put up. However, the slogan did give people hope, which is no small thing in such dark times. Further, it committed the Roosevelt administration to a program of reform that has no parallel in U.S. history in terms of its scope and impact.

Cast your votes here! And send your comments on the slogans here. (Z)

This Week in Schadenfreude: Project 500

We may have set a record this week for the number of people who sent in a specific schadenfreude item. Thanks to all of you! The item in question involves Republican "operatives" Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, who are among the scummiest people in the Party. They attempt to ruin high-profile "enemies" of the Republican Party by revealing various skeletons they claim to have found in those individuals' closets. For example, they tried to smear Robert Mueller, Anthony Fauci and Pete Buttigieg, at various times, with claims they committed sexual assault. They presented "evidence" that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was hiring gigolos for BDSM play. And they said they had "proof" that Kamala Harris was involved in an extramarital affair. All of this was completely made up, of course.

We describe the pair as "operatives" rather than as operatives because their efforts are so stupid and ham-fisted that they are a very poor imitation of a real dirty trickster. It takes a special level of incompetence to make Roger Stone look like the Einstein of ratfu**ers (there's a phrase you don't hear every day). The latest, and dumbest, from Wohl and Burkman involved hiring a service to make robocalls to predominantly Black neighborhoods prior to Election Day. Here's the script of the calls:

Hi, this is Tamika Taylor from Project 1599, the civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl. Mail-in voting sounds great, but did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts? The CDC is even pushing to use records for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines. Don't be finessed into giving your private information to the man, stay safe and beware of vote by mail.

Needless to say, it's illegal to spread misinformation like this. And it's very easy to trace a robocall back to its source. Were Wohl and Burkman so stupid they didn't realize this? Are they so cavalier they just didn't care? Who knows?

Whatever the case may be, they have now been sentenced in Ohio for their activities. They have to pay a $2,500 fine, wear an ankle monitor for 6 months, spend a couple of years on probation and, best of all, have to spend 500 hours registering voters in Black communities. If that's not a cause for some schadenfreude, we don't know what is.

Note also that these two fine citizens ran their scam in five different states (including New York and Illinois, showing an apparent unawareness of what "deep blue" means). And so, they might still receive punishment in the four states that are not Ohio. For example, there is the possibility of a $5 million fine still on the table. One hopes they get hit with that, and with everything else they've got coming to them. (Z)

This Week in Freudenfreude: Maroon Shoots... and Scores

The nastiness towards one's fellow human beings that is encouraged by Trumpism often spills over into the non-political areas of life. And we'd be willing to bet a fair chunk of cash that Jack Edwards, who broadcasts hockey for NESN, is a Trump voter. Edwards is in the habit of saying needlessly nasty things about the players he's covering, like implying that a player who was injured badly deserved what he got.

This week, Edwards decided to have some "fun" at the expense of Tampa Bay Lightning player Pat Maroon, who is 6 feet tall and about 240 pounds. That's pretty big for a hockey player, particularly one who plays a "speed" position (Maroon plays left wing). So, Edwards remarked: "Listed at 238 pounds, that was day one of training camp. I got a feeling he's had a few more pizzas between then and now." The announcer returned to this theme multiple times, and later added "Inadvertent fasting for Pat Maroon is like four hours without a meal."

Fat-shaming is a bad look, especially for someone public-facing like Jack Edwards. Maroon, for his part, decided not to engage with the troll, though reporters gave him plenty of opportunity to do so. Instead, he did this:

In support of those struggling with mental health, bullying and body image I am making a 2,000 donation in the name of @realjackedwards to @TampaBayThrives and I encourage @TBLightning and @NHL fans to join me. Donate here:

— Pat Maroon (@patmaroon) November 30, 2022

If that's not taking the thoughtless words of a jerk, and making lemonade, we don't know what is. (Z)

Today's Senate Polls

As we note above, it's going to be close. But if you had to place a bet, you'd definitely have to bet on Raphael Warnock to pull it off. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Georgia Raphael Warnock* 50% Herschel Walker 47% Nov 28 Nov 30 SurveyUSA
Georgia Raphael Warnock* 51% Herschel Walker 49% Nov 28 Nov 30 Emerson Coll.

* Denotes incumbent

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