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On the unionization vote in Bessemer, Alabama, a note from TPM Reader XX

I hesitate to comment before the votes are in. But I would be surprised if the RWSDU won the election. Based on my former experiences as a union organizer (including one campaign in Alabama,) I believe there are three reasons–

First, there’s a reason companies place factories–and this is a factory, in internal organization if not in name–in rural areas, especially in the South: The pay and benefits are so much better than anything else in the area. These are good jobs, relatively speaking.

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A Glorious Anniversary Prime Badge
Photograph of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) shown wearing a military uniform and posing for a portrait. He served in the U.S. Civil War at various levels of military command. Grant was promoted to lieutenant general in 1864 and given command of all Union armies. He was eighteenth president of the United States, elected in 1868 and reelected in 1872.

April 9th is a glorious anniversary: the day Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the US Army, received the surrender of Robert E. Lee, a renegade US Army Colonel who was a leader of a violent rebellion against the United States which killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. Grant offered generous terms to Lee and the other traitors making up his army. Six days later President Lincoln was assassinated in Washington, DC.

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Where Things Stand: Suppressing Democracy To Appease The Faithful Prime Badge
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Brian Kemp is up for reelection in 2022. And the true leader of the Republican Party, former President Donald Trump, has made it pretty clear that Kemp has fallen far outside of his good graces.

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New Terrible News from Manchin! Yay! Prime Badge

I just got around to reading Joe Manchin’s new OpEd in the Post. And, well … it’s pretty bad news and by my read almost all bad news. With anything less than heroic squinting and wishful thinking, it reads pretty clear: Manchin won’t support abolishing or weakening the filibuster. Full stop. This seems to take back what had seemed to be his pretty clear openness to some version of a talking filibuster earlier in the Spring. He claims early efforts to weaken the filibuster have only increased partisan polarization, a claim that makes no sense – correlation, causation, etc.

What jumps out to me most is that his argument is absurd even on its own terms.

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Europe’s Vaccine Misfortune Prime Badge

Europe is again grappling with a problem we in the US are really lucky to have avoided. European and British regulators now seem to be increasingly confident the AstraZeneca vaccine is associated with a serious but extremely rare blood-clotting side effect. Until now the UK – which has one of the world’s leading vaccination campaigns – has rejected reports of adverse side effects. But now they’re seeing them too and are recommending those under 30 get other vaccines. (There’s some indication younger people may be more susceptible to the side effect; and of course they face less threat from COVID.)

This isn’t just a major setback for Europe. It’s a major setback for the whole world. The global effort to vaccinate the populations of poorer nations (COVAX) relies heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine because it requires less complex refrigeration and transport technology.
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Where Things Stand: Traditional Conservative Values Butt Heads With The New Culture Wars Prime Badge
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Asa Hutchinson’s veto of an anti-trans bill in his state, which we covered yesterday, proved to be for naught — it was promptly overridden by his GOP colleagues in the state legislature.

But his defense of his veto saw him position himself at a crossroads for conservatism, between libertarian values and the increasing desire on the right to punish one’s perceived enemies.

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The Brave New Post-COVID Vaccine World Prime Badge

Somehow yesterday I happened on this December article about COVID vaccines by David Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine. The premise is a set of facts you probably know. The Moderna vaccine, which along with Pfizer’s and Johnson and Johnson’s is now protecting millions of Americans from COVID and in all likelihood bringing a halt to the pandemic, was designed by January 13th. A month later a small first batch had already been sent to the NIH to begin phase one trials. Moderna was first but the Pfizer vaccine was almost as fast. In other words, we had the vaccines before the pandemic in the US even really got off the ground in early March.

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Where Things Stand: GOP Governor Steps In To Stop Anti-Trans Bill Prime Badge
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 19:  on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

As Republicans fling one culture war after another at the wall to see what sticks in recent weeks, at least one GOP governor isn’t playing along.

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McConnell, “Serious Consequences” and the Limits of “Woke” Corporate America Prime Badge

Mitch McConnell is upping the ante and threatening “serious consequences” for corporations who use their clout against GOP voter suppression bills in states. They should “stay out of politics,” he warns. I discussed the broader issue on Friday as a disjuncture between culture and consumerism on the one hand and apparatus of the American political system on the other. But McConnell’s threat of “serious consequences” demonstrates the hollowness of this debate.

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GOP Vs. Corporate America Becomes Flash Point In Voting Rights Battles Prime Badge
This Week in Voting Rights: A weekly roundup of news on Americans' access to the ballot box.
Where Things Stand: The Happy Marriage Between The GOP And Corporations Hits A Rough Patch Prime Badge
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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11:  U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens during a news briefing after the weekly Senate Republican Policy Luncheon July 11, 2017 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. Sen. McConnell announced that Senate will delay its recess to the third week of August.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) statement decrying the “bullying” of Americans by corporations might mark a new low in the once-fruitful backscratching relationship between corporate American and the GOP, the tension between the two institutions has been building and moving us in this direction for some time.

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COVID, Suicide and Solidarity Prime Badge

Throughout the last year of the COVID pandemic and through the polarized debates over lockdowns and mitigation one constant refrain from politicians has been that aggressive lockdowns are taking lives as well as saving them. In its crudest form, remember ex-President Trump’s constant insistence that ‘the cure can’t be worse than the disease’. He and others who made this argument focused particularly on depression and suicide. But now preliminary data for 2020 shows that death by suicide actually declined by a small but significant amount. Year over year in 2020 death by suicide (44,834) declined by 5.6% and was the lowest in absolute numbers since 2015 (44,193).

Is this a surprise?

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Culture and Consumerism vs the American Political System Prime Badge

As Tierney Sneed explains here, big corporations are lining up in opposition to the voter suppression law in Texas as many have been over the last couple weeks in response to the legislation in Georgia. This broader trend has spurred a generally insipid and perhaps offensive debate about whether corporate America is now “woke” as well as a more interesting question about whether we should applaud a system in which corporate America tries to exercise a veto over the political choices of state governments. (Remember, it may not always be laws you disagree with.) But apart from loaded questions this phenomenon is an illustration of a broader reality undergirding almost all American politics today, which is important to focus on.

Why are corporations doing this?

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Will There Be Justice For Trump? Prime Badge
The full replay of TPM's most recent Live Discussion is now available for members.
Gaetz Antics Apparently Common Knowledge in MAGAville Prime Badge

The Matt Gaetz story is exploding in so many bizarre and incriminating directions at once that it’s pretty hard to keep up with all the threads of the story. But there’s one broader element of the saga which has become increasingly evident over the last couple days: Matt Gaetz lifestyle and behavior, if not the specific alleged crimes, appear to have been common knowledge in MAGA world and among DC Republicans generally.

A few examples.

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ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 05: Stickers for voters after they have voted, sit on a table at a Cobb County voting location on January 5, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. Polls have opened across Georgia in the two runoff elections, pitting incumbents Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) against Democratic candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)
Peeling Back Layers of Fear and Hyper-Caution Prime Badge

Yesterday was two weeks after I got my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the first day I was officially immune from COVID, or as immune as an mRNA vaccine gets you. Obviously vaccinated people still get COVID, though serious or fatal cases are extremely rare, almost to the point of non-existence, according to the latest data. Two additional studies have been released over the last week: one a batch of follow-on trial data from Pfizer which places the vaccine’s efficacy just over 90%; another from the CDC, probably more consequential, suggests the vaccine is almost as effective against infection as it is against disease. But for the moment, whatever the latest science says, I’m as vaccinated as you get.

My family and I have been very ‘tight’ when it comes to COVID. On the spectrum of mitigation we’ve leaned strongly to the side of caution. Still though I go to the pharmacy to pick up medicines, to the grocery to get food, for the occasional outdoor dining. But each time it’s not only masked or now double-masked, it’s with a persistent consciousness of vulnerability and a general imperative to limit my time indoors with people I don’t know as much as possible. Do what I need to do and get back to the relative safety and isolation of my home.

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Where Things Stand: Where Are Gaetz’s Friends Now? Prime Badge
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House Judiciary Committee Republican member Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) talks out of turn and interrupts the hearing before being stopped by Chairman Jerrold Nadler during a House Judiciary Committee hearing to receive counsel presentations of evidence on the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 9, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Apparently, they were always few and far between. At least in Washington.

According to a new Daily Beast report, Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) colleagues on the Hill have been wary for some time that he might eventually become embroiled in scandal. Lawmakers told the Daily Beast that it’s widely known in Congress that the Florida Republican has an affinity for partying hard, and it was an open secret in 2018 that he was dating a college student who came to Washington, D.C. as an intern.

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Gaetz Saga Manages to Get More Absurd Prime Badge

Here’s a fascinating new wrinkle to the Matt Gaetz story. Jeff Stein has a piece up about the backstory of this Iranian rescue operation which – absurd as it sounds – is the center of what the Gaetzes claim was an extortion plot.

The Gaetzes gave purported screencaps of text messages to The Washington Examiner, a friendly rightwing outfit, to support their extortion claims. But even at face value what is described doesn’t sound like an extortion plot.

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Where Things Stand: Gaetz Tries, Fails To Pick Up Deep State Baton In Trump’s Absence Prime Badge
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And it’s not going well.

If you didn’t watch Rep. Matt Gaetz’ (R-FL) stunning interview on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson’s show last night, you should check out our report on it here.

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Secretary of State David Whitley, left, arrives for his confirmation hearing, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Austin, Texas, where he addressed the backlash surrounding Texas' efforts to find noncitizens on voter rolls. Whitley denies his office made mistakes over a list of 95,000 voters whose U.S. citizenship was called into question but included thousands of wrongly flagged names. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
The Self-Immolation of (Not So) Young Matt Gaetz Prime Badge
UNITED STATES - MAY 8: Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is seen during a House Judiciary Committee markup in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, to vote on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the unredacted Mueller report to the committee. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When I saw the first reports of the Gaetz story I figured he was hooked up with some sleazeball who kept a coterie of young women on hand for his male pals enjoyment. Gaetz partook and got swept up in the investigation of the sleazeball associate. Some version of that seems broadly true and the friend is a disgraced GOP rising star named Joel Greenberg, who was the tax chief in Seminole County before getting indicted for stalking, child sex trafficking and more.

But Gaetz’s performance on TV and Twitter last night makes me think his legal predicament is significantly more serious. Sex with a minor, with money involved and crossing state lines, is certainly bad enough. But these wild claims about good guy and bad guy factions at the DOJ, feds pressuring various friends to testify against him, denials about photographs with underaged girls that no one had at least publicly accused him of yet – these are the flounderings and flailings of a guy wrapped up in something considerably more serious.

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Where Things Stand: Preparing For The Next Pandemic Prime Badge
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The global community has taken significant steps in the last week to try to properly arm the world against the inevitability of another pandemic. In a letter published in newspapers around the world, 24 world leaders — including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron — made the case for some form of a global treaty for pandemics, arguing COVID-19 was “a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe.”

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