Editors’ Blog

Where Things Stand: DeSantis Campaigns On Ensuring White Floridians Don’t Feel ‘Discomfort’ About Systemic Racism
This is your TPM evening briefing.

It is hard to accept when you might actually be the real snowflake.

But that’s the bitter pill Florida Republicans find themselves having to swallow.

The latest news: Florida state Republicans just passed a bill — pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — that piles on an already-cemented state policy that bans the teaching of Critical Race Theory, and systemic racism-related issues, in Florida public schools.

This latest bill goes even further. It passed out of the Florida state legislature’s Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee this week by a 6-3 vote, per Orlando Weekly.

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Listen To This: The Voting Rights Crescendo

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss the seeming end of (most) Democrats’ push to reform the filibuster and pass voting rights laws.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

Rep. Hinson Wins Stolen Infrastructure Valor Award! Prime Badge
Freshman Rep was against it before she was for it!

We have another ‘Stolen Infrastructure Valor’ All Star in the form of Rep. Ashley Hinson of Iowa. Hinson voted against the Bipartisan Biden Infrastructure Bill which passed late last year. In a press release from November 8th Hinson denounced the bill as a “socialist spending spree” and “Washington Gamesmanship, Spending at its Worst.” But she’s letting bygones be bygones. Or I guess she was just against it before she was for it. Because now Rep. Hinson seems to think it’s seriously awesome. And she’s bragging to constituents about almost a billion dollars she claims to have “secured” for upgrading locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River.

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Where Things Stand: The Most Trumpy Details In The New York AG’s Filing On Trump Org Tax Lies
This is your TPM evening briefing.

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a motion last night notifying the court it has found substantial evidence that the Trump Organization, helped along by the Trump children, used “fraudulent or misleading” information to secure financial loans and tax breaks for the company.

You’ve likely caught up on the basics of the news since it broke last night. Essentially James’ court filing details allegations about the ways in which her office believes members of the organization and the Trump family lied to tax officials and banks about the values of certain property assets for financial gain and tax benefits. The New York AG’s filing revealed the office is seeking subpoenas for testimony from the Donald himself, as well as his two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. She alleges that the two elder children had a hand in the valuation fudging.

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Filibuster or No Filibuster is Not a Binary Choice Prime Badge

We’re now watching the final parts moving into place as two Senate Democrats making a unmovable stand in favor of preserving the filibuster. You can see our live-blogging of the nitty gritty details here. I want to return to a more general point. Filibuster or no filibuster is not a binary choice. The current filibuster is the product of an incremental evolution over many decades. To the extent it matters, the framers of the constitution never envisaged anything like it. We know this because they included a few special cases where a super-majority would be required – for treaties, for removal from office, etc. If they thought it should be required for ordinary legislation they would have said so. But again, it’s not a binary choice.

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Trump Demands Supporters Cheat in 2022 and 2024 Elections Prime Badge

I was scanning through my email this morning when I found this article from Roll Call rounding up what was new in ex-President Trump’s rally Saturday in Arizona. The claims about white people being replaced or deprived of COVID medications in favor of Blacks or Hispanics have gotten more focused and intense, which isn’t terribly surprising based on what I told you back on the 5th; efforts to stop “amplifying” Trump have largely allowed him to further radicalize without any scrutiny. But I really got interested after I read way down into the piece and saw that Trump is now explicitly exhorting his supporters to cheat in elections to counter Democrats’ (of course non-existent) cheating.

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This is Must Read Prime Badge

I hope you’ll take a moment to read this amazing piece by Josh Kovensky. In short, the Oath Keepers – the group at the center of the insurrection whose leaders were just charged with seditious conspiracy – got the idea for storming the Capitol from a Serbian scientist living in Europe who said that Trumpers could use the model of the ouster of Slobodan Milosevic to overturn the election of Joe Biden. It came in the form of a viral video and the Oath Keepers went from there.

Certainly the Oath Keepers didn’t need a lot of encouragement to get violent on behalf of Trump. But the viral video encouraging Trumpers to drive Biden from power like Milosevic seemed to coalesce their thinking into a plan of action and gave them a historical antecedent that showed the good guys winning. The Serbian scientist, Aleksandar Savic, relocated to Texas not long after Joe Biden’s inauguration and Josh Kovensky tracked him down for a conversation. Read it here.

Where Things Stand: Hundreds Of Schools Defy Virginia’s New GOP Guv
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School district officials who oversee hundreds of schools in Virginia are actively defying their new Republican governor’s efforts to tamp down COVID-19 mitigation measures in the state.

The backlash is similar to what we saw play out in Texas and Florida when Republican Govs. Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis enacted similar executive orders late last year, attempting to block individual schools and municipalities from creating their own policies for combatting the pandemic.

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Make A Note of It Prime Badge

Make a note of this for future reference. Axios’s Sara Fischer notes that Al Jazeera seems to be sidelining or perhaps even shuttering “Rightly”. What’s that? It’s yet another right-leaning niche publication, launched in February of last year to “provide fresh voices that are too often left out of the mainstream media space.”

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Fast And Furious Prime Badge
The Omicron surge in New York City is closely following the chronology seen in South Africa.
COVID testing

New York City was one of the first parts of the United States hit by the Omicron variant. The trajectory of the city’s surge now appears remarkably similar to the pattern we saw earlier in South Africa and other countries.

Data out of South Africa showed a roughly four week interval between the start of the Omicron surge and its peak. “Peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two,” said Fareed Abdullah of the South African Medical Research Council. “It was a flash flood more than a wave.”

New York City numbers appear to match this pattern almost exactly.

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COVID Notes #9 (Special Antigen Test Edition) Prime Badge

So many people are getting COVID, trying to figure out whether they have COVID or trying to figure out how long to isolate whether they have COVID or suspect they might. So I wanted to share with you some examples of positive and negative antigen tests. There’s nothing surprising or groundbreaking about what I’m going to show you. But it can just help to see some examples if you’re trying to make sense of this stuff in your own home, workplace or family.

These are six tests from a COVID infection that was antigen positive for 9 days.

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Where Things Stand: Biden Deploys The Military To Fight COVID As SCOTUS Helps Pandemic Linger
This is your TPM evening briefing.

The White House’s latest COVID-19 mitigation efforts are a contrast to the Supreme Court’s ruling today.

President Biden announced Thursday that his administration would double its previous promise to hand out free at-home COVID-19 tests, with plans to send out one billion to Americans’ homes. Along with that, the Biden administration will distribute N95 masks to the public as the country faces an unprecedented spike in COVID infections.

Biden is also deploying more military personnel to hospitals. Speaking from the White House the President said that next week he will send 1,000 military medics to hospitals across the country that have become overrun with patients dangerously sick with the coronavirus. The spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant has left the nation’s hospitals overburdened and short-staffed in recent weeks.

Biden didn’t mince his words in his address announcing the drastic moves.

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A Telling Sign Prime Badge

Notwithstanding Sen. Sinema’s speechlet this afternoon I certainly hope they will still force a vote on the rules change itself. But another point occurs to me, one we’ve discussed before: there will never be another Democrat elected to the Senate who supports the current filibuster. This is obvious for a number of reasons. But I was reminded of it when I got a fundraising email from Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) who’s running for the open Ohio Senate seat. Like you, I get a million of these. Ryan’s just one. But here’s how the email starts …

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Listen To This: Looking to the Court

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, with the Senate all but paralyzed, Josh and Kate discuss the Supreme Court’s posture on the Biden administration’s use of agency power.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

This Is Why You Call the Vote Prime Badge

Newsflash: perfidious silly person Kysten Sinema has now told a friendly reporter at Politico that she’s “weighing” or “considering” or some other chin-scratch-full but meaningless gerund that she may go to the floor of the Senate and give a speech denouncing any changes to Senate rules that will allow Democrats thin majority to do anything. This as President Biden goes to the Senate to press his case for a rule change that will allow democracy-protecting legislation to come to a vote.

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McCarthy Refuses to Testify About Trump’s Confession Prime Badge

Kevin McCarthy has now refused to appear voluntarily before the select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. What’s important about this is that McCarthy is likely one of the few people with direct knowledge of Trump’s efforts to assist the insurrectionists as they were ransacking the Capitol building. According to numerous published reports, the ultimate source of which is almost certainly McCarthy himself, Trump told McCarthy in real time that he was barring the US military from stopping the insurrection in order to give his violent supporters time to ransack the Capitol and bring the official vote tabulation to a halt.

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Where Things Stand: Greene Tiptoes Up To The Line Of Arguing That Guns Should Be Used Against Dems
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It may be the 21st century, but the QAnon congresswoman is urging folks to take up arms against their sea of troubles.

During a podcast interview with none other than the bombastic former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) loudly nodded at the “Second Amendment” as a solution to the far-right’s problems — in this case the “tyrannical government,” aka (for her) Democrats. Greene suggested Democratic lawmakers are currently doing exactly what the founders feared when James Madison proposed the inclusion of Second Amendment rights in the Constitution.

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The Administration’s Flawed COVID Messaging

One area of policy where I hoped the new Biden administration would excel was in its handling of the pandemic, but it has not done so. It wasn’t prepared for either the Delta or Omicron variants; it failed initially to acknowledge waning vaccine immunity and delayed access to boosters; it still doesn’t have an accurate count nationally of infections; and its public messaging on masks, tests, and vaccines has been confusing and sometimes misleading. That was epitomized by a statement from acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Janet L. Woodcock in the Senate hearings yesterday.

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Where Things Stand: ‘Grim Reaper’ Won’t Retire, Yet
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Or so he says.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters today that he plans to run for majority leader again after the midterms, on the assumption that Republicans will be able to take back the upper chamber in November.

“I’m going to be running again for leader later this year,” he said, putting to rest rumors of his possible retirement, at least for the time being.

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Readers on Schools #7 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader JS

I’m sure you get a lot of people emailing you who don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m sure I have written on topics I’m in the Dunning-Krueger zone on, and many where I seem that way. I’m a strange guy. Right now, I’m a high school teacher. I am also a lawyer. I now only practice law for family and as a guardsman for the military. I was also involved in politics, have been elected to office, and was on California’s Democratic Central Committee.

I made the change because teaching was the first job I had that I really liked. I avoided it because everyone in my family is or was also an educator. I also have degrees in stuff unrelated to what I teach now, which is Calculus and Spanish, another weird combo. I’ve done peer-reviewed, published research on language acquisition. Most of this comes up if you Google me.

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Readers on Schools #6 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader DT

I am also an educator, teaching at a R1 university as a research active professor. Last year at this time, I was one of a select group told that I was teaching in person whether I liked it or not (I didn’t) and managed to make it to the other end of that experience intact thanks to sparse attendance and an enormous room to teach in. I have very complicated feelings about that experience: it left me with a very big grudge against the admin, but I also realized that in-person education is truly best for the students. That being said, CN‘s letter struck a couple of nerves that I have to let loose on:

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Readers on Schools #5 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader TH

I have a take on this from a slightly different POV. My wife & I have 2 young children in daycare. A week ago, the older one was found to be exposed to COVID by his teacher, who took a regular and precautionary at-home test that night (she was/is asymptomatic). We live in PA (Philly burbs), and per the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), his whole classroom had to be shut down and everyone quarantined for 5 days. Yesterday (Sunday), I gave him a precautionary (he’s asymptomatic) home test which came back positive. We informed his daycare, who thanked us for the extra step, and reiterated new guidelines for return to daycare from OCDEL – specifically, he needs to have a negative test along with a signature from a Dr or CNP certifying it. We call his healthcare provider today to set up what will hopefully be a negative test later this week. Welp, they don’t do that (and this is the preeminent childrens’ healthcare provider in the region). They just say to quarantine for 10 days from symptoms or positive test. Why 10 days when OCDEL is 5 days? Reasons.

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Where Things Stand: It’s Long-Time Giuliani Bud Bernie Kerik’s Turn Before The Jan 6 Committee
This is your TPM evening briefing.

Longtime Rudy Giuliani ally Bernie Kerik plans to show up for a deposition in front of the Jan. 6 select committee this week. But he might not answer every question that is asked of him.

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Readers on Schools #4 Prime Badge

TPM Reader GE‘s emails started with a headline “pandemic of the working class” and then referenced a tweet that referenced the same argument …

I am a 69 year old physician who my hospital “aged” me out of in-patient care at beginning of pandemic. I still have frightening outpatient exposures, and I saw/see my younger colleagues recover after they get sick, despite vaccines.  I also have 4 children, 2 of whom are in-classroom teachers, and grandchildren attending in-person classes.   There is a huge element of unfairness in the workforce today, and I foresee a future bitterness that could explode.

I had a back and forth with GE over this to try to frame the point. What we’re describing here isn’t ‘working class’ precisely, a phrase usually defined in occupational and educational terms while also signifying a set of cultural values. After all, a physician is definitionally not ‘working class’. What we’re describing here is a stark divide between people who can relocate their work and in most cases work from home and those who – in the nature of the work – cannot. In that sense, physicians and really all health care workers, educators and various caregiving and mission-driven jobs fall on the ‘in person’ side of this divide – even though some are highly educated and highly paid. However you define it or what labels you use it is a stark divide in terms of how people have experienced the pandemic, what life or political lessons they’ve drawn from it and how those views impact the future.

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Readers on Schools #3 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader CN

I wanted to respond to your recent email from a reader LF, published in your editorial piece “Warzone Workplace.”

First, some background on myself – I taught third grade during the pandemic at a private school in the SF Bay Area. When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, like public schools across the state, we immediately were mandated to stop meeting in-person. Unlike California’s public schools, however, our administration pursued an aggressive policy of returning to in-person teaching as soon as we were allowed to do so, and we were back meeting in person in September of 2020, six weeks into the new school year, for those who were comfortable with it, while those who were not attended an online program we also offered. I and the other instructors asked to teach in person did our best, and at the end of the 2020-2021 school year our campus was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School.

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Readers on Schools #2 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader EA

I’m sure you’re getting a lot of good responses. I think that mostly the problem here is Twitter and when you actually talk to most people you get a lot more nuance in the conversation on both sides.

Big Amen to your writer. I think he/she articulates a completely just and fair position. There’s nothing really to disagree with.

The “other side” of this debate is me – I am a parent of two young kids and I desperately need them to be in school. Even if I were to concede that remote and in-person education are equivalent developmentally (I wouldn’t concede that – they are not), there’s still the matter of how the hell am I supposed to do my job?

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Readers on Schools #1 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader AN (not their real initials) …

I’m a public school educator in Wisconsin and I offer this perspective:

When we shut down in March of 2020, we fundentally broke what it means to go to school in this country. All the years building and refining and trying new things . . . broken. We attempted to pivot, but the results were uneven at best and everyone was sacred and we didn’t know what else to do.  We did what we thought was best under terrifying circumstances.

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A Report from the Schools Prime Badge

Yesterday we discussed the ‘schools must never close’ diehards who dominate much of the current COVID policy debate. I wanted to give you an update on the situation in the New York City public schools because I think it illustrates some Omicron-specific dynamics which haven’t really become part of that discussion. I don’t know precisely how far New York City and DC and other parts of the Northeast are ahead of the rest of the country right now. Maybe it’s like this everywhere. If not, likely it soon will be. But I know it’s like this here and in much of the Northeast. I’m going to reference some personal experiences but only to illustrate things I know are widespread if not universal throughout the city and region.

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Warzone Workplace Prime Badge

A follow-up from TPM Reader LF

In your recent post about Covid and school closures, I think you get something very right when you talk about the PhD and elite scolds demanding schools remain open no-matter-what. There is one element in all of this that I think you do not fully appreciate—the anger and legitimate fear that teachers have been living with for the entirety of the pandemic.

I am a college teacher, my partner teaches high school, my friends teach at every level of the educational system. During the pandemic, many have retired early or quit, many of those who have stayed have only done so because they are too young to retire and too old to do something else. Just to be clear, the kids are alright. Almost all teachers love teaching–given how shitty the job is, why else would we do it?

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Where Things Stand: Some News Amid The Commemorations And Noise
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A decent chunk of what would’ve been the right’s blusteringly distasteful counter-programming to Congress’ introspective coup-versary commemorations today were canceled last minute.

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