The Trump-Cheney schism is scary for the country, but it should be even more frightening for the GOP

Whenever I feel compelled to freak myself out about the GOP’s seemingly ineluctable march toward cult-of-personality authoritarianism, I have to remind myself that Republicans might not be Hitler boof stormtroopers so much as they’re just lemmings.

For the most part, rank-and-file Republicans still love the guy who tried to geld our democracy with his sputtering lies and audacious bid to reverse the verified and certified results of an election he (very clearly) lost. By a lot. I’ve laughed plenty at this braying buffoon, who, to his most fervent fans, is a semi-divine demiurge reconstituting our democracy at an elemental level out of air, earth, fire, and flop sweat.

But while I frequently laugh at this sudoriferous sack of gently used dildos, make no mistake: I’m scared shitless of Donald Trump for one key reason—he has absolutely no shame. Zero. Zilch. Nada. None.

Normal humans feel this thing called guilt when they do awful things to other sentient beings. Sawing our 244-year-old republic off at the knees would certainly qualify as “awful,” but I imagine at this point it’s the only thing that could give him an erection. 

I felt the usual pang of doom while reading this Washington Post story on the simmering internecine battle between a minority GOP contingent led by Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who thinks America is worth saving, and the party’s majority quisling caucus, who seem all too eager to sacrifice our country on the altar of the Dread Blubber Ba’al.

The heartening part of the WaPo story is that it focuses on Cheney’s determination to keep up her fight against Trump and defend her country and party. I can’t stand Cheney’s politics—or much else about her—but she’s doing important work here, and we should support her, at least in this effort. 

What’s frightening, though, is that the story once again points up just how far off the beam “mainstream” Republicans have fallen. The craven capitulation to Trumpism starts at the top, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who traveled to Mar-a-Lago earlier this year to kiss Trump’s ring. He has both publicly and privately rebuked Cheney for her focus on preserving democracy and the rule of law. Cheney is likely to be booted out of her leadership position soon, in favor of Rep. Elise Stefanik, a less ideologically pure Republican who is nevertheless in thrall to our deposed Orange Julius Caesar.

Again, it’s scary shit, because what’s happening right now is a big, party-wide loyalty test in which Republicans are expected to pay unyielding deference to the Big Lie as if it’s the GOP equivalent of the Nicene Creed

So, yes, plenty of reasons to be scared out of our wits. But there may be a silver lining to all this, which is that this insistence on turning one major American party into a personality cult could backfire, bigly.

Why? Even a majority of Republicans is a pretty small cohort in the grand scheme of things, and GOP leaders may be fatally overestimating Trump’s post-Jan. 6 appeal.

After all, the guy lost to Joe Biden for a reason, and it’s hard to imagine he’s a plus for the party going forward.

Indeed, buried deep inside the very scary WaPo story was a far more encouraging nugget.

The debate over Trump’s potentially negative impact on swing districts is likely to escalate in the coming months, as vulnerable Republicans try to position themselves for reelection.

The internal NRCC poll partially shared with lawmakers in April found that President Biden was perilously popular in core battleground districts, with 54 percent favorability. Vice President Harris was also more popular than Trump, the poll showed. Biden’s $1.9 trillion covid stimulus plan and his $2.3 trillion jobs and infrastructure package both polled higher than the former president’s favorability, which was at 41 percent, compared to 42 percent in February.

Biden’s job between now and the 2022 midterm is to keep delivering for the American people, so Trump can continue his long, circuitous journey to the sewage treatment plant … and then out to sea. Our job will be to do whatever we possibly can to hold the House, so that any GOP impulse for overturning a free and fair 2024 election in Congress becomes moot. 

We also need to redouble our efforts to challenge unfair voter suppression laws and, even more importantly, get our base out in droves. If the specter of Trump, who is making Republicans less and less popular in the suburbs every day, still hangs over our country in 2022, we might actually be able to hang onto our House seats, or even expand our slim majority. Whether we collapse under the weight of Trumpism or further extricate ourselves from that noxious swamp is up to us.

The time for celebrating Biden’s victory is over. The time for digging in and defending this country against the Big Lie and the Big Doofus has arrived.

Let’s do this.

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The Ridiculously Racist History of Menthol Cigarettes

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos via Getty

When the Biden Food and Drug Administration announced its plan to ban menthols, it cited the fact that “out of all Black smokers, nearly 85 percent smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to 30 percent of White smokers who smoke menthols.” Other kinds of flavored cigarettes—which apparently once included cinnamon, toffee, vanilla and bourbon, among so many other disgusting tobacco flavor profiles—were banned back in 2009, but not menthols, which continued to be sold. In 2011 and 2013, an FDA advisory committee reported that menthols aren’t any more toxic than other cigarettes, but suggested the minty flavoring mitigates “the harshness of smoke and the irritation from nicotine,” an effect that “may increase the likelihood of nicotine addiction” and make it harder than other cigarettes to quit. “Removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace,” researchers concluded in a resulting paper, “would benefit the public health.”

The FDA has promised, cross-their-heart-and-hope-to die style, that the proposed ban on menthols won’t end up criminalizing Black folks for personal possession, to which the ACLU issued a highly relevant reminder-counterpoint. “Policies that amount to prohibition have serious racial justice implications,” the organization wrote, noting that “criminal penalties…will disproportionately impact” Black people, who police have killed for infractions that specifically include the selling of loose cigarettes. But the ban has been applauded by groups including The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council and the NAACP, which issued a statement calling out cigarette manufacturers for “targeting African Americans…on a narrow quest for profit, and they have been killing us along the way.”

One thing that there’s no disagreement about is that the history of menthol cigarette marketing to Black folks is rich with racist stereotypes and the worst of intentions. Consider the case of Marie Evans, whose son was awarded $152 million in total damages in 2010 in his wrongful death lawsuit against Lorillard Tobacco Company, the manufacturer of Newports. In her 2002 video deposition, taken just weeks before she died of lung cancer, Marie recounted how Lorillard trucks in the late 1950s would roll into the Roxbury housing project where she grew up and hand out sample cigarette packs to Black adults—and young kids, too. As early as age 9, Marie was given Newports she would then trade for candy. At age 13, she started smoking, a habit she spent much of the rest of her life trying and failing to quit. Testifying at trial, Marie’s younger sister also recalled getting Newports from the same Lorillard van, which she said “looked like a Frosty truck.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Teachers shouldn’t have to be superheroes, this week in the war on workers

Care work was already work before the pandemic, and there was already a crisis. But the coronavirus pandemic made the crisis exponentially worse. Sarah Jaffe takes on the policy and personal roots of that crisis in a searing, rage-filled piece that you really should read, from the parts about motherhood and the men who get let off the hook, to the welfare rights movement, to—especially—the part about teachers during COVID-19 and the way they’ve been scapegoated in debates about in-person education.

This is the crux of it: “Get Covid and die, get written about in glowing terms,” she writes. “Collectively refuse to die (or to spread the virus to your students and their families), and your ‘allies’ will begin to threaten you.”

Teachers, she writes, have been “goddamn superheroes,” and, “If we, collectively, gave a shit about kids’ learning conditions, they would not be attending overcrowded schools with lousy ventilation; ancient, crumbling textbooks; ice-cold water in the sinks; and no nurses. Teachers would not be the ones bargaining for smaller class sizes and counselors in the buildings and green space and recess time. They would not be sharing photos of mold and mouse droppings in their buildings online. Or they would, but they’d have actual support from all the current scolds. They wouldn’t have to be superheroes; they could be human, grieving, depressed, struggling, messy, and mortal like the rest of us.”

That. All of that. Read the whole thing.

● New unemployment claims fell to 498,000, the lowest of the pandemic, but April jobs numbers were unexpectedly weak. It’s a mixed economic picture this week.

● How Chicago teachers won a safer reopening, reports Catherine Henderson.

● This old steel mill town is now a hub for green energy, writes Dharna Noor.

● Lauren Kaori Gurley continues doing exceptional reporting on the gig-and-tech economy: Amazon drivers are instructed to drive recklessly to meet delivery quotas.

● The MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL players unions are all supporting the PRO Act.

● United’s catering workers unionized. Now their jobs might be outsourced—after the airline took a government bailout. Reporting from Dave Jamieson.


Guillermo shared this video from the leek harvest in Ventura County. Workers spend 8 hours a day, 6 days a week kneeling on the cold muddy ground moving up and down the rows harvesting the crop. Leeks are labor intensive crop that requires skilled manual work. #WeFeedYou

— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) May 5, 2021

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