Abbreviated pundit roundup: Get your booster, protect your republic from subversion

Greg Bluestein/AJC:

Perdue’s challenge could trigger new culture war in Georgia

Facing stiff Republican opposition to reelection, Gov. Brian Kemp is likely to lead Georgia legislators deeper into divisive cultural clashes over guns, race and gender during the upcoming legislative session.

The first-term governor has already endorsed efforts to restrict “obscene” materials from public schools and block k-12 educators from teaching critical race theory, graduate-level college coursework that’s a favorite target of conservatives though it’s not taught in Georgia.

The primary challenge announced this week by former U.S. Sen. David Perdue is expected to elevate other issues when the Legislature meets in January, including a long-stalled proposal that would let gun owners conceal and carry handguns without a permit.

Perdue, too, is trying to force Kemp into a debate over whether to allow Buckhead and its wealthy white residents to split with the city of Atlanta by calling on the governor to follow his lead and support the idea.

Other proposals will surely gain new attention as Kemp tries to protect his right flank and conservative legislators push for base-pleasing legislation, such as stricter anti-abortion measures and bans on transgender youth from competing in high school sports.

Great. Just great. Remember that Steve Bannon is also viciously attacking Perdue, Trump’s anointed choice.


Here’s an Indiana story from Adam Wren/substack:

The journal article that’s blowing up IN GOP circles—and the Republican author who wrote it

PLUS: Fundraising scoops from Holcomb and Hogsett Worlds.

An article in the conservative journal American Affairs that is sharply critical of the last 17 years of GOP reign in Indiana is circulating among top Republicans, as they contend with whether their approach to economic development has paid dividends for Hoosier voters.

“I read it,” Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb told me of “In Indiana under Republican Rule: ‘Pro-Business’ Policy Disappoints outside the Sunbelt.” “I took exception with multiple parts of it.”

The article, written by Aaron Renn, an economic development columnist for Governing magazine and former fellow at the New York City-based Manhattan Institute, argues that “under Republican leadership the state’s relative incomes started out low and got even lower.”


Corey Robin/NY Times:

Why the Biden Presidency Feels Like Such a Disappointment

The real cause of the unease about Mr. Biden lies elsewhere. There is a sense that however large his spending bills may be, they come nowhere near to solving the problems they are meant to address. There is also a sense that however much in control of the federal government progressives may be, the right is still calling the shots.

The first point is inarguable, especially when it comes to climate change and inequality. The second point is questionable, but it can find confirmation in everything from a conservative Supreme Court supermajority to the right’s ability to unleash one debilitating culture war after another — and in the growing fear that Republicans will ride back into the halls of power and slam the doors of democracy behind them, maybe forever.

There’s a sense of stuckness, in other words, that no amount of social spending or policy innovation can seem to dislodge. The question is: Why?

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Conservative group finds no signs of widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin but urges changes to election processes

 A conservative group issued a report Tuesday saying it found no evidence of widespread fraud in Wisconsin’s presidential election but believed officials did not closely follow all the state’s voting laws.

The report by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty provides Republicans with material they can use to argue Wisconsin’s elections system needs to be overhauled. But it also includes findings Democrats can seize on to emphasize that there is no credible evidence to question Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in Wisconsin.


Buffalo News:

Pandemic Lessons: Maybe you don’t like masks – but do they work? (Spoiler alert: They do)

Straight up: Do masks work?

They do. But masks don’t eliminate Covid-19. Variations in type of mask and how well and often people wear them make a big difference. For the same reasons, the effectiveness of masking is difficult – though not impossible – to study.

But if you start with the basics, and look at the history of the medical field, then yes, masking is an effective way to slow spread.

Infectious disease physicians – along with other doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists – have long used masking in hospitals when a patient arrives with a highly transmissible virus. Long before anyone knew of Covid-19, medical professionals were donning N95 masks when a patient arrived with tuberculosis, a respiratory illness spread through coughing and sneezing. When treating influenza, surgical masks – which today are common everywhere from grocery stores to airplanes – were frequently used.

Rolling Stone:

Trump’s White House Passed Around a PowerPoint on How to End American Democracy

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows handed over a trove of pre-Jan. 6 documentation. It’s damning stuff

The PowerPoint presentation, which spanned 38 pages and was titled “Election fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN,” was part of an email sent on Jan. 5, the day before the attack on the Capitol. The email pertained to a briefing that was to be provided “on the hill.” Hugo Lowell of The Guardian tweeted slides from the presentation on Thursday detailing a conspiracy theory-laden plan for Vice President Pence to install Republican electors in states “where fraud occurred,” and for Trump to declare a national emergency and for all electronic voting to be rendered invalid, citing foreign “control” of electronic voting systems.

Ron Brownstein/Atlantic:


Echoing the New Democrats of the Clinton era, some liberal critics are begging Democrats to change course.

For now, these dissenters from the party’s progressive consensus are mostly shouting from the bleachers. On virtually every major cultural and economic issue, the Democrats’ baseline position today is well to the left of their consensus in the Clinton years (and the country itself has also moved left on some previously polarizing cultural issues, such as marriage equality). As president, Biden has not embraced all of the vanguard liberal positions that critics such as Shor and Teixeira consider damaging, but neither has he publicly confronted and separated himself from the most leftist elements of his party—the way Clinton most famously did during the 1992 campaign when he accused the hip-hop artist Sister Souljah of promoting “hatred” against white people. Only a handful of elected officials—most prominently, incoming New York City Mayor Eric Adams—seem willing to take a more confrontational approach toward cultural liberals, as analysts such as Teixeira are urging. But if next year’s midterm elections go badly for the party, it’s possible, even likely, that more Democrats will join the push for a more Clintonite approach. And that could restart a whole range of battles over policy and political strategy that seemed to have been long settled.

Jamelle Bouie:

So You Lost the Election. We Had Nothing to Do With It.

It is true that some progressives — either Democratic lawmakers or affiliated activists — hold unpopular views or use unpopular language. It is also true that Republicans have amplified this to some electoral success. But missing in this conversation is one inconvenient fact.

Progressives are not actually in the driver’s seat of the Democratic Party.

It’s easy to think otherwise. Even the most sober version of this critique makes it sound as if the Democratic Party is in the grip of its most left-wing officials and constituents. But it isn’t — to the dismay and frustration of those officials and constituents.

The president of the United States, and leader of the Democratic Party, is Joe Biden, the standard-bearer for a bygone era of centrist governance and aisle-crossing compromise, who made his mark in domestic politics as a drug warrior in the 1980s and a “law and order” Democrat in the 1990s.

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