Abbreviated pundit roundup: November is fast approaching with so much at stake

Chris Geidner/NY Times:

The 3 Types of Election-Denying Republicans Running for Secretary of State

There are three types of election-denying candidates, and each one poses distinct problems for civic integrity. There are the swing-state candidates getting lots of justified attention, running in places like Arizona and Michigan, because their elections could have pivotal, clear national implications in the 2024 presidential campaign.

There are candidates like Chuck Gray in Wyoming, who is all but certain to take office in January, as Democrats didn’t field an opponent. Election-denying candidates in very red states aren’t getting as much attention now, but they likely will come January, when they are officeholders. They will help set policies in their states — many of which will also have Republican-led legislatures and governors — where extremist ideas could become law.

And there are people like Dominic Rapini, Connecticut’s Republican secretary of state nominee, who are running in blue states and unlikely to win. Their campaigns, though, will have critical fallout effects. By virtue of their statewide platforms, even losing candidates can further damage the discourse — in their states and nationally — and increase the risks to our democracy. Election deniers in blue states can uniquely exacerbate Mr. Trump’s undermining of faith in our elections, and they, like their winning counterparts in red states, can set the stage for local election-denying candidates to win now or in the future.



‘Afraid of losing their power’: Judge decries GOP leaders who back Trump election claims

At a sentencing of one of the Jan. 6 defendants, a federal judge says Republicans are afraid of contradicting Trump.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said former President Donald Trump had turned his lies about the election into a litmus test for Republican candidates and that “high-ranking members of Congress and state officials” are “so afraid of losing their power” that they won’t contradict him. That fealty, she said, comes even as law enforcement and judges involved in cases related to the former president are facing unprecedented threats of violence.

It’s up to the judiciary, she added, to help draw the line against those dangers.

“The judiciary … has to make it clear: It is not patriotism, it is not standing up for America to stand up for one man — who knows full well that he lost — instead of the Constitution he was trying to subvert,” said Jackson, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama.

In addition, Jackson said, Trump and his allies are using rhetoric about the multiple criminal probes connected to Trump that contain dangerous undertones.

“Some prominent figures in the Republican Party … are cagily predicting or even outright calling for violence in the streets if one of the multiple investigations doesn’t go his way,” Jackson said.

Noah Smith/Substack:

Why the UK is having an economic crisis

It turns out deficits do matter after all.

So when I see people saying apocalyptic things about the crash in the pound and the rise in British bond yields, I try to keep calm. The British economy is not collapsing. The UK is not a poor country, nor is it likely to become one anytime soon.

But it’s undeniable that it’s having a difficult time right now. Calling this a “crisis” might be a bit overblown compared to what, say, Sri Lanka is experiencing, but unless things improve quickly, British people are in for tougher times ahead. The crash came on suddenly, but it had its roots in long-standing, chronic economic weaknesses. And the country’s leaders seem paralyzed, flummoxed, and utterly unprepared. So I guess using the word “crisis” here is acceptable.

So what is happening to the British economy, and why? The easiest way to understand this, I think, is to analyze this episode as a milder, gentler version of the kind of crisis that tends to plague emerging markets.



The Real Problem Revealed By The Brett Favre Welfare Scandal

The program that paid Favre wasn’t paying poor people in the first place.

Favre is the highest-profile figure caught in the Mississippi welfare scandal, in which the state funneled $77 million of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds to people with political connections.

But there’s an even bigger scandal here: Nationwide, most TANF money doesn’t go to poor people in the first place.

Just 22% of program funds went to cash assistance in 2020, according to an analysis of state and federal data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank. The bulk of the rest of the money paid for child care, training programs, tax credits and administration of the program itself.

The Favre case “is absolutely an egregious example of the pitfalls that are inherent in TANF today,” Aditi Shrivastava, a senior policy analyst with the CBPP, said in an interview.

Why does the program most closely associated with the word “welfare” spend so little money on actual cash welfare? Because that’s how Congress wanted it.

Favre is still a lowlife, though.


Damon Young/WaPo:

Woke is now a dog whistle for Black. What’s next?

There’s “urban” of course. And urban’s cousin “inner-city.”

And then there’s “at-risk,” “underserved” and “fatherless” if talking about our children. “Marginalized,” “low-income” and “welfare-dependent” if talking about the parents of those children.

We live in “Democratic strongholds” like “Chicago,” but we’re also “socialists” and “low-information voters” taught “critical race theory” by “Marxists” so we can be “anti-American.” Our neighborhoods are “sketchy” and “depressed” “ghettos” filled with “thugs” and “transient” “Section 8” “renters” employable only through “affirmative action” “diversity” “quotas.” If we choose to play a sport, we are “naturally gifted,” “ungrateful,” “intimidating” and somehow both “aggressive” and “lazy.”

In the decades since I first became aware of the coded language used to indicate Black people, I’ve lost count of how many different euphemisms I’ve read and heard to describe, well, me. I even considered creating a drinking game where I’d take a shot each time I’d heard a racist dog whistle during a politician’s speech, but I probably would’ve died.


Foreign Affairs (from mid-September, and still relevant even after choosing mobilization):

Putin’s Next Move in Ukraine

Mobilize, Retreat, or Something in Between?

Mobilization, on the other hand, would radically upset the Kremlin’s careful management of the war at home. Dramatically increasing Russia’s manpower might seem a logical choice for a country with a population that is three times the size of Ukraine’s, but the war’s popularity has depended on it being far away. Even the Russian terminology for the war, the “special military operation,” has been a hedge, an obfuscation. Despite the Kremlin’s rhetoric of “denazification,” for the Russian population the Ukraine war is entirely unlike the direct, existential struggle that Russia endured in World War II. By announcing a mobilization, the Kremlin would risk domestic opposition to a war that most Russians are unprepared to fight…

A decision by Putin to mobilize the Russian population, to institute a draft and to call hundreds of thousands of new soldiers, would raise stark new challenges for both Russia and the West. Even if only partial, a Kremlin-ordered mobilization would amount to a full recognition that the country is at war. It would also make that war existential for Russia. Until now, the invasion of Ukraine has not even been presented as a war to most of the Russian population. It has been termed a military operation, which has in practice been a war of choice built on delusional overconfidence and false assumptions about Ukraine and about Ukraine’s allies and partners. With mobilization, however, Russia would be publicly investing itself in a major war. Choice would be transformed into necessity and the “special operation” into a war that all Russians would need to fight and win. Such a decision would probably make a defeat unacceptable for the Russian leadership, rendering the prospect of a negotiated outcome even more unlikely.


Susan J Demas/Michigan Advance:

As Trump goes full QAnon, Dixon delights in sowing Whitmer kidnapping conspiracies

But moreover, this winking dismissal of violence against Whitmer dovetails perfectly with the QAnon-inspired themes of [Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor] Dixon’s campaign. It was a calculated message to her far-right base that Democrats are the ones who are really committing violence — to businesses, kids and their fundamental way of life.

When you need to shore up a key voting bloc that’s part of the Q death cult, things have truly gone off the rails.

Dixon isn’t running like she expects to win, but like she’s hoping to inflict the maximum amount of personal pain on Whitmer she can while pleasing GOP donors by inflaming her core voters enough so the party can pull out key down-ballot wins.

It’s uncomfortable to grapple with an election like this. Michigan faces extremely serious issues with democracy, the economy, abortion rights, education, the Great Lakes and more. In an ideal world, that’s what the gubernatorial race should be about.

But in the year and half that Dixon has been running for the highest office in the state, she’s never come close to demonstrating mastery over any policy issue at the level she can unleash twisted quips about Whitmer getting kidnapped.

And so here we are.


My current theory of the confusing election (as of this morning) is that it’s because Democrats are campaigning on their issues, GOP on theirs, no overlap, so there is no common issue to judge who is winning.

“Polls help, but don’t trust the polls, here’s the latest poll” stories a bonus!

Pundits: Polls predict a red wave.

“Old news. The polls lately show a close race, Dems are even perhaps ahead.”

Pundits: Don’t believe the polls.

You are forgiven for being confused. The truth is we really do not know who wins in November. But that is so much better than knowing you’re going to lose.

P.S. Let’s win.



Revealed: world’s biggest meat firm appears to have avoided millions in UK tax

Exclusive: major supplier to brands including KFC and Nando’s used offshore companies allowing them to reduce UK tax payments, investigation suggests

An investigation by the Guardian and Lighthouse Reports has found that two companies – Anglo Beef Processors UK and Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation (owned by Brazilian beef giant JBS) – appear to have reduced their tax bill by structuring their companies and loans in a way that allows them to take advantage of different tax systems, in what one expert has described as “aggressive tax avoidance”.

These practices are not illegal, but they have proliferated over the past couple of decades as multinational companies and their accountants spot opportunities to reduce their tax bills. Many argue that complicated financial structures can allow some companies to avoid paying their fair share of tax. And that, they say, leads to falling income for national governments as taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab.

In this instance, the meat companies concerned have branches both in the UK and in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, which have different tax regimes. By lending money from a company in one country to a related company in the other, and then borrowing it back at a different interest rate, the companies can significantly and legally cut their tax bills

And if that’s how they navigate the U.K., how do they navigate the U.S.? The consumers and the taxpayers here in the states are not necessarily the beneficiaries of opacity. 

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