November 22, 2023

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I’m calling on Speaker Johnson to create a January 6th Select Committee. Releasing the tapes is not enough! There needs to be investigations and ACCOUNTABILITY for ALL of the lies, deceit, and lives ruined. Every member of the Jan 6th committee, Nancy Pelosi, FBI, DOJ, DC Police, Cap Police, Jan 6 witnesses who lied, all need to be subpoenaed. Criminal referrals must be written and prosecutions MUST happen under a Trump DOJ. I’ve said it all along, MAGA did not do this. — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) calling for  a new January 6 select committee.

“If it makes the kids happy, then what the heck? It’s Thanksgiving, and you know what? If you want to eat your dessert before you eat your turkey, that’s fine. But it will make it a bigger problem down the road.” — Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) on the Senate accepting the “laddered” funding resolution passed by the House.

“We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections,” — Herr Trump announced on Veterans Day.


Trump “will destroy democracy in America” if the Republican wins a second term as president. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

"The separation of church and state is a misnomer.” House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La.

“Joe Biden has been pulled so far to the left, the extreme left, as far as liberal. Makes no sense at all. It’s not the person we thought was gonna bring the country together.” — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) attacking President Biden in a vow to mobilize the “radical middle.”


“Agreeing with an antisemitic post on his social media platform X, Elon Musk endorsed the claim that Jewish communities push “hatred against Whites.”

“It’s the same clown car with a different driver.”— Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) on the House Republicans.

“Why would we want to expel a guy (Rep. George Santos (R-NY)) when we’ve got a three-seat, four-seat majority. What are we doing?— Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX).

“I wanted to go back. I was thinking about going back during the problem to stop the problem, doing it myself. Secret Service didn’t like that idea too much. And I could’ve done that. And you know what? I would have been very well received.” — Donald Trump.

“I don’t think it’s possible for MTG to get more extreme. Maybe more unhinged but not more extreme.” — Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

“I think he has a 50-50 shot here, but no better than that, maybe a little worse. He thinks he can cheat nature here and it’s really risky. They’ve got a real problem if they’re counting on Trump to win it for them. I remember Hillary doing that, too.” — David Axelrod on President Biden’s chances of re-election in 2024.

“At this point, Biden—despite his obvious flaws as a candidate—is probably the Democrats’ best option for president against Trump. For in politics, it gets late early. And it is, sadly, too late for a compelling Biden replacement.” — Walter Shapiro: who still thinks Biden made a heedless mistake by not bowing out of the 2024 presidential race last spring, knowing that his age would be a political liability.





Andy Borowitz: George Santos to Spend More Time with Imaginary Family

In an announcement that many in Washington felt was overdue, Representative George Santos said that he was resigning from Congress to spend more time with his imaginary family.

“As much as I’ve loved this job, it’s taken me away from my kids,” he said. “And to them I say: Blake, Kaylee, Agnes, Skip, Molly, Charlie, Leeann, and Rex, Daddy’s coming home.”

He thanked his children for taking care of his many imaginary pets, including a marmot named Jerry and a python named Estelle.

As for his future plans, he said that he would be leaving Congress “to go back to my first love: being a member of the Beatles.”

“Today is an emotional day for me,” he said. “If I don’t look emotional, it’s because of the Botox.”

Vulgarities, insults, baseless attacks: Trump backers follow his lead

Trump’s coarseness and cruelty have come to define the Republican Party since his rise to the presidency — and many GOP voters relish and emulate the approach, while others tolerate it. The split-screen on display in Iowa on Friday and Saturday highlighted one of the defining dynamics in the Republican race, in which Trump is the dominant polling leader overshadowing a roster of candidates running more traditional campaigns.

Offered the chance to support other presidential hopefuls who champion similar agenda to Trump in a less abrasive package, Republicans are for now sticking with the former president — underscoring how his personality and shattering of behavioral norms have long been a major part of his appeal.

Mike Johnson Pays Trump Visit as He Faces Mounting Criticism from the Right

The visit to Mr. Trump’s Florida home came at a tricky moment for the inexperienced speaker, who is already facing criticism from hard-right allies livid at him for teaming with Democrats last week to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown.

Mr. Trump’s influence over spending fights in Washington may be limited, but Mr. Johnson’s decision to meet with him within weeks of his election is a sign he knows he cannot afford to have Mr. Trump weighing in publicly against him and hardening right-wing opposition to his leadership.

Democrats Zero In on Texas and Florida Senate Races after Manchin Retires

A few weeks ago, very few Democrats were thinking about the Senate campaigns in Florida and Texas, the only credible offensive targets for the party in 2024.

Then West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin retired, all but guaranteeing Democrats will lose the seat next year.

That decision has ratcheted up the pressure and expected attention on the two top Democratic campaigns in Florida and Texas. Assuming Democrats lose West Virginia, the party will either need to protect all of its incumbents – including two in states that have elected Republicans to most other statewide positions – or oust Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas or Sen. Rick Scott in Florida to keep hold of the Senate in 2024.

Pro-Nazi posts next to Apple ads: Elon Musk’s X sues watchdog for its damning report 

After a devastating advertiser exodus last week involving some of the world’s largest media companies, X owner Elon Musk is suing the progressive watchdog group Media Matters over its analysis highlighting antisemitic and pro-Nazi content on X — a report that appeared to play a significant role in the massive and highly damaging brand revolt.

How the American Political Environment Got Trumpier

One reason Democrats were slow to take Trump’s rise seriously in the 2016 cycle is that some of the issues he talked about most — ‘law and order,’ ‘open borders’ — were not seen as especially dire. Crime had risen modestly, but was still near its modern lows. The undocumented immigrant population was actually declining.

Since then, things have changed. Border crossings have spiked to record highs and asylum claims are overwhelming the system, prompting the White House and many Democrats to pivot to more hawkish positions. Crime is on a downward trend, but only after a much larger surge in murders in 2020 during the pandemic and intense nationwide debates over police practices.

Maria Bartiromo Floats Bonkers New COVID Conspiracy About Trump and China

Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo was once again just asking questions when she wondered aloud Monday whether the Chinese government intentionally released Covid-19 to get Donald Trump out of the White House, the Daily Beast reports.

Bartiromo’s outlandish theory, which suggests China unleashed a deadly coronavirus within its own borders in an effort to install Joe Biden as U.S. president, was somewhat endorsed by the GOP lawmaker who heads the House investigation into the origins of the virus.

Federal appeals court ruling threatens enforcement of the Voting Rights Act

A federal appeals court issued a ruling Monday that could gut the Voting Rights Act, saying only the federal government — not private citizens or civil rights groups — is allowed to sue under a key section of the landmark civil rights law.

The decision out of the 8th Circuit will almost certainly be appealed and is likely headed to the Supreme Court. Should it stand, it would mark a dramatic rollback of the enforcement of the law that led to increased minority power and representation in American politics.

Sen. Mike Lee Promotes a Debunked Conspiracy Theory

A Republican senator said over the weekend that he planned to question the director of the FBI on whether a Trump supporter currently serving four years in federal prison is an undercover federal agent, NBC News reports.

Sen. Mike Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promoted on his personal X account a conspiracy theory that one of the Jan. 6 videos released at the order of House Speaker Mike Johnson shows an undercover federal agent disguised as a Trump supporter.

Support for Abortion Access Is Near Record

A new Wall Street Journal-NORC poll show Americans’ support for abortion access is at one of the highest levels on record since nonpartisan researchers began tracking it in the 1970s.

Some 55% of respondents say it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if she wants it for any reason.

Georgia Prosecutor Seeks August Trial for Trump

Associated Press: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Friday filed a motion to schedule the start of the trial for Aug. 5. Willis wrote that the proposed trial date balances potential delays from Trump’s other criminal trials and the speedy trial rights of the other defendants.

Many former Trump aides say he shouldn’t be president. Will it matter?

No president has ever attracted more public detractors who were formerly in his inner circle. They are closely watching his rise — cruising in the GOP nomination contest and, in most polls, tying or even leading President Biden in a general election matchup — with alarm. Among them are his former vice president, top military advisers, lawyers, some members of his Cabinet, economic advisers, press officials and campaign aides, some of whom are working for other candidates.

Among their reasons for opposing a second Trump term, they cite the 91 criminal charges against him, his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, his false claims of election fraud, his incendiary rhetoric in office, his desire to weaponize the Justice Department, his chaotic management style, his likely personnel choices in a second term, and his affinity for dictators.
Interviews with 16 former Trump advisers — some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their former boss — show they are grappling with how they can puncture Trump’s candidacy in 2024, whether they can or should coordinate with one another and whether their voices will even matter.

Poll: Biden’s standing hits new lows amid Israel-Hamas war

President Joe Biden’s approval rating has declined to the lowest level of his presidency — 40% — as strong majorities of all voters disapprove of his handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll..

Key takeaway: The erosion for Biden is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza, and among voters ages 18 to 34, with a whopping 70% of them disapproving of Biden’s handling of the war.

The gap between the Biden administration and the Netanyahu government over Gaza’s future is widening

Biden administration officials are increasingly at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government over how it is conducting its military assault on Hamas and how the two countries envision the political future of Gaza.

Amid dire scenes from hospitals in Gaza and a rising civilian death toll, frustration is building among administration officials who have repeatedly appealed to Netanyahu and his government to take more action to protect Palestinian civilians and allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Trump Adviser Stephen Miller’s Legal Group Rakes in $44 Million

A conservative legal group led by longtime Donald Trump adviser Stephen Miller reported a nearly 600% jump in its revenue, raising $44 million in 2022 compared with $6 million in 2021.

Mike Johnson is a board member of a Christian publishing house that called ‘monkeypox’ a penalty for being gay

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) sits on the board of a Christian publishing house that suggested getting “monkeypox” was “an inevitable and appropriate penalty” for being gay and that Barack Obama was rumored to be the Antichrist because of his “leanings toward Islam.

Want to Know What’s Bedeviling Biden? TikTok Economics May Hold Clues.

Look at economic data, and you’d think that young voters would be riding high right now. Unemployment remains low. Job opportunities are plentiful. Inequality is down, wage growth is finally beating inflation, and the economy has expanded rapidly this year.

Look at TikTok, and you get a very different impression — one that seems more in line with both consumer confidence data and President Biden’s performance in political polls.

Several of the economy-related trends getting traction on TikTok are downright dire. The term ‘Silent Depression’ recently spawned a spate of viral videos. Clips critical of capitalism are common. On Instagram, jokes about poor housing affordability are a genre unto themselves.

Social media reflects — and is potentially fueling — a deep-seated angst about the economy that is showing up in surveys of younger consumers and political polls alike.


‘No Labels’ Tax Forms Reveal Execs Cashing In on 2024 Hype

‘No Labels’ raised $21.2 million in 2022, a huge jump from the $11.3 million it raised in 2021, per the 990 that was reported last December. The group ended 2022 with about $20 million in the tank.

With that haul, No Labels could aim to make noise in the 2024 race, as the group insists it will. What they may prefer to keep quiet, however, are the lucrative paydays being doled out to the No Labels’ leadership team, which appear in the tax documents.

The hidden biases at play in the U.S. Senate

The United States Senate was never designed to represent all people equally. But over recent decades, it has become unrepresentative in ways the founders could not have imagined..

Senate Republicans Get Ready to Roll Tuberville on military holds

Republican senators are laying the groundwork to vote before Christmas on a Democratic-drafted resolution to circumvent the blockade that Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R) has placed in front of more than 400 military nominees.

New Hampshire shows how deeply rooted Trump’s fraud lies are

Washington Post-Monmouth University polling shows that even in New Hampshire, where electoral fraud claims were debunked (including by a former chairman of the state Republican Party), most Republicans who are likely to be primary voters think that the 2020 election was suspect. It’s not only that they suspect Biden’s win was illegitimate, using the vague language of the CNN poll. The Post-Monmouth poll presented a choice between Biden’s winning fair and square or winning because of electoral fraud — and 55 percent chose the latter.

As you might expect, most of those who support Trump in the primary — 85 percent of them — think that Biden won because of fraud. Interestingly, so do more than a quarter of those who prefer a candidate other than Trump.

Nikki Haley Would Sign 6-Week Abortion Ban

“Pressed on abortion at a Christian conservative gathering, GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Friday that she would sign a six-week abortion ban in her home state of South Carolina if she were still governor.

Brian Beutler: The 2024 Election Is About Real Things

It’s arguably a bit early in the current cycle to worry about how faithfully the mainstream press has conveyed the stakes of the 2024 election, and it’s arguably less important overall. Eight years later, the American right is more cocooned in a propaganda bubble than it was, and the American youth gets more of its news (or what it thinks of as news) from the TikTok algorithm.

But for at least four reasons, it’s worth applying scrutiny to election coverage much earlier this time, before narratives set in and public opinion hardens. First, we obviously waited too long last time. Second, there’s never a good reason for journalists to be complacent about widespread misperceptions overtaking the public. Third, public perception of the candidates on issues as varied as economic stewardship and basic mental fitness are already badly out of whack with empirical reality. Fourth, this time around, bleak as the polling looks at the moment, nobody in the media is under the mistaken impression that Trump can’t become president, and everyone knows that his presidency poses an existential threat to democracy and rule of law.

David Weigel: Democrats Should Treat Black Americans Like Swing Voters

Democrats are fretting about President Biden’s weaker numbers with Black voters. The new messaging shop Blueprint has a solution: Keep talking about his record until these voters hear about it.

In a new batch of polling, Blueprint found that Black voters, while overwhelmingly Democratic, have priorities and issue awareness much closer to swing voters. The vast majority want the president to bring down prices and raise wages, which the White House is already messaging; between 35% and 40% of Black voters aren’t aware of Biden policies designed to drive down drug prices and end junk fees, which are overwhelmingly popular.

Aaron Blake: Trump’s improved image: Is it approval — or amnesia?

Donald Trump left the presidency with the lowest average approval rating for a tenure in modern history, at 41 percent. One reputable poll showed him bottoming out at 29 percent after Jan. 6, 2021.

That same former president is now looking like a favorite to reclaim the White House just four years later, leading in virtually every recent poll (albeit often within the margin of error).

There are multiple reasons for this, and they start with President Biden’s own problems. But could they also have to do with Americans’ short political attention spans?

Some Trump critics have wagered that the recent polls could reflect a bit of amnesia when it comes to how Americans once felt about Trump — and, its proponents hope, a temporary bout of it. The idea is that Biden’s 2020 supporters can be brought back into the fold when the chaos and controversy of 2017-through-2021 years come back into focus during the 2024 campaign, as well as Trump’s criminal trials.

There is surely some wishfulness involved, but it’s not totally unreasonable.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: The GOP’s hollow presidential primary is allergic to ideas

“Ideas have consequences” was once a favored incantation among conservatives. Drawn from the title of a 1948 book, the phrase was a way for the right to proclaim its intellectual effervescence while casting liberals as the peddlers of a dying creed.

The GOP is now testing a radically new proposition: Are there consequences for having no ideas?

Okay, I guess that depends in part on how you define “ideas.”

Donald Trump has proposed shooting shoplifters, as NBC News noted in a report on GOP “bloodlust.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to kill drug smugglers who cross the Mexican border. Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, in more organized fashion, proposed sending Special Forces into Mexico to go after drug cartels. Oh, and DeSantis said last August that he wanted to “slit the throats” of federal bureaucrats on Day 1 of his administration. But don’t be alarmed, civil servants. He explained later that he was “being colorful.”

If killing various kinds of people is a legitimate solution for various problems, then sure, the party’s presidential candidates have plenty of policies to offer.

Joe Biden: The U.S. won’t back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas

The Palestinian people deserve a state of their own and a future free from Hamas. I, too, am heartbroken by the images out of Gaza and the deaths of many thousands of civilians, including children. Palestinian children are crying for lost parents. Parents are writing their child’s name on their hand or leg so they can be identified if the worst happens. Palestinian nurses and doctors are trying desperately to save every precious life they possibly can, with little to no resources. Every innocent Palestinian life lost is a tragedy that rips apart families and communities.

Our goal should not be simply to stop the war for today — it should be to end the war forever, break the cycle of unceasing violence, and build something stronger in Gaza and across the Middle East so that history does not keep repeating itself.

Just weeks before Oct. 7, I met in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The main subject of that conversation was a set of substantial commitments that would help both Israel and the Palestinian territories better integrate into the broader Middle East. That is also the idea behind the innovative economic corridor that will connect India to Europe through the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, which I announced together with partners at the Group of 20 summit in India in early September. Stronger integration between countries creates predictable markets and draws greater investment. Better regional connection — including physical and economic infrastructure — supports higher employment and more opportunities for young people. That’s what we have been working to realize in the Middle East. It is a future that has no place for Hamas’s violence and hate, and I believe that attempting to destroy the hope for that future is one reason that Hamas instigated this crisis.

This much is clear: A two-state solution is the only way to ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people. Though right now it may seem like that future has never been further away, this crisis has made it more imperative than ever.

A two-state solution — two peoples living side by side with equal measures of freedom, opportunity and dignity — is where the road to peace must lead. Reaching it will take commitments from Israelis and Palestinians, as well as from the United States and our allies and partners. That work must start now.

In a moment of so much violence and suffering — in Ukraine, Israel, Gaza and so many other places — it can be difficult to imagine that something different is possible. But we must never forget the lesson learned time and again throughout our history: Out of great tragedy and upheaval, enormous progress can come. More hope. More freedom. Less rage. Less grievance. Less war. We must not lose our resolve to pursue those goals, because now is when clear vision, big ideas and political courage are needed most. That is the strategy that my administration will continue to lead — in the Middle East, Europe and around the globe. Every step we take toward that future is progress that makes the world safer and the United States of America more secure.

 James D. Zirin: Has Trump Gone Even Crazier?

This is obviously a difficult question to raise about any person, let alone a candidate, who has demonstrated vicious, paranoid, and violent behavior. (A civil trial in a federal court found him guilty of sexual abuse, after all.) So, everything is relative. Still, all the armchair gerontologists parsing every utterance from President Joe Biden, trying to distinguish his congenital stutter from his natural aging, should look at Trump, whose behavior has gone from bad to weird to bizarre. Is he suffering from a palpable form of dementia? I leave that to the medical experts, but I’d implore you to absorb what the 45th president has been saying recently and how it’s even more worrisome than what he’s been saying and doing since he came down the escalator at Trump Towers in 2015.

While neither Trump nor Biden projects John F. Kennedy’s vigor, Trump, 77, has been even more bizarre of late—doddering and disoriented in a new way.

The Economist: Trump Poses the Biggest Danger to the World in 2024

 A shadow looms over the world. In this week’s edition we publish The World Ahead 2024, our 38th annual predictive guide to the coming year, and in all that time no single person has ever eclipsed our analysis as much as Donald Trump eclipses 2024. That a Trump victory next November is a coin-toss probability is beginning to sink in.

Mr Trump dominates the Republican primary. Several polls have him ahead of President Joe Biden in swing states. In one, for the New York Times, 59% of voters trusted him on the economy, compared with just 37% for Mr Biden. In the primaries, at least, civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions have only strengthened Mr Trump. For decades Democrats have relied on support among black and Hispanic voters, but a meaningful number are abandoning the party. In the next 12 months a stumble by either candidate could determine the race—and thus upend the world.

Michael Hiltzik: Elon Musk is an antisemite. What can anyone do about it

The question of how you solve a problem like Elon Musk has crossed the line from an amusing little parlor game to an issue with serious implications for anyone doing business with him, including major corporations and the U.S. government.

Little that Musk says or does escapes popular notice, but a tweet he posted Wednesday on X, the platform he owns which was formerly known as Twitter, is in a category all his own.

On Thursday, IBM announced that it was suspending its advertising on X indefinitely. The company’s action came the day after the watchdog organization Media Matters for America documented that its ads had appeared on X next to Nazi content.

Following the latest Musk tweet, a group of more than 160 Jewish community leaders called on “Disney, Apple, Amazon, and other large advertisers to stop funding X through their ad spend,” and for Apple and Google to remove X from their app stores.

“Make no mistake,” the leaders stated: “Elon Musk is not only powerful because of his own riches. It is because these companies and leaders empower him. In so doing, they are participants in mainstreaming hate that leads to murders.”

Musk’s amplification of antisemitism also poses a problem for the U.S. government and thus for American taxpayers generally. SpaceX, a private company he controls, is a major partner holding contracts from the Defense Department and NASA.

Musk’s behavior raises the question of whether any company he leads can be an appropriate government contractor.

His promotion of antisemitism risks fomenting violence that could cost innocent lives. He has made clear his thoughts and beliefs, which occupy the darkest reaches of inhumanity. It’s time to start hacking away at his influence.

John Cassidy: Trump’s Fascistic Rhetoric Only Emphasizes the Stakes in 2024

Until 2020, Trump reserved his most offensive language for undocumented immigrants. During the 2016 campaign, he referred to them as “drug dealers,” “criminals,” “rapists.” From the Oval Office, he referred to them as “animals,” and in a 2018 tweet he said that Democrats wanted them “to pour into and infest our country, like MS-13.” This dehumanizing rhetoric went down well with many of Trump’s hard-core supporters. He also made derogatory comments about prominent Black figures, calling Representative Maxine Waters “low I.Q.” and Don Lemon, the former CNN anchor, “dumb.” He referred to Baltimore, a predominantly Black city, as a “disgusting, rat- and rodent-infested mess.”

After Trump got criminally indicted earlier this year, he pivoted to his new targets. In June, hours after pleading not guilty to federal charges of mishandling classified documents and conspiring to obstruct justice, he claimed that President Biden “together with a band of his closest thugs, misfits, and Marxists, tried to destroy American democracy.” He added, “If the communists get away with this, it won’t stop with me.” Since then, Trump has routinely adopted this sort of language, occasionally adding the term “fascists” to his repertoire, perhaps as an effort to muddle the meaning of the word. At a speech in Miami earlier this month, on the eve of the off-year election, he urged the crowd to “crush the communists at the ballot box.”

Describing his political opponents as “vermin” on Veterans Day represented a further escalation, and there is no reason to believe that he was unaware of the history he was invoking. (He also posted the same language to his social-media account, and it hasn’t been taken down.) Still, Trump’s incendiary comments were part of a whole that includes him accusing the retired general Mark Milley of treason and suggesting that he should be executed; repeatedly referring to Special Counsel Jack Smith as “deranged” and a “thug”; and constantly lobbing charges of political bias at Judge Arthur F. Engoron, who is presiding over Trump’s New York civil trial, and Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who is overseeing the January 6th case in Washington, D.C.

Last month, Chutkan imposed a partial gag order on Trump, in which she warned him not to make public statements attacking the prosecutors, court staff, or witnesses in that trial, which is set to begin next March. During his speech in New Hampshire, Trump blatantly flouted this order. He again referred to Smith as “deranged” and a “Trump-hating prosecutor,” and he went on: “his wife and family despise me much more than he does.” It remains to be seen if Chutkan will take any additional action against Trump. But, whatever happens, Trump’s rhetoric is only further raising the stakes for the 2024 election.

All Presidential contests are important, of course. But this one is shaping up as a struggle for the future of the country—a struggle in which one of the major political parties is under the control of a would-be strongman, who, during his Veterans Day speech, also took the opportunity to praise the governing styles of Xi Jinping and Viktor Orbán. It’s a struggle in which the former President’s associates are reportedly busy preparing post-election plans to staff the Justice Department with Trump loyalists who are willing to target his opponents; to invoke the Insurrection Act and dispatch the military to political demonstrations; and to build giant camps to hold undocumented migrants. In other words, it’s a struggle to prevent the election of a President whose embrace of fascistic imagery and authoritarian governance goes well beyond what comes out of his mouth. That, unfortunately, is where we are. The reality cannot be avoided.

Dan Balz: Voters must take Trump seriously and literally. The stakes are that high.

Trump may be a performance artist, but with his shocking provocations, he is telling us what he would do in a second term as president. That’s why taking him seriously and literally is required.

The headline on the cover of the latest issue of the Economist magazine does not mince words: “Donald Trump poses the biggest danger to the world in 2024.” The alarm is twofold. First, that the former president could win the election next November; and second, what he might do if that happens.

Presidential elections are often about many things. In 2024, the economy will be a factor for most voters. For many, immigration will be another. Abortion, too, will continue to be a motivator. President Biden’s record certainly will be a consideration, as will the incumbent’s age and perceptions of his capacity to lead the nation for another four years, until he is 86
But the Economist puts the focus where it needs to be, which is on the former president — what he did during his first term, including what he did to help provoke the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, and, most important, how much farther out he has gone rhetorically and substantively since then to preview what a second term might portend.

The Economist summed up why a Trump victory in 2024 could be materially different from his first in 2016. “A second Trump term would be a watershed in a way the first was not,” the editors wrote. “Victory would confirm his most destructive instincts about power. His plans would encounter less resistance. And because America will have voted him in while knowing the worst, its moral authority would decline.”

Trump has spoken openly about a second term as a time of retribution, when he would weaponize the Justice Department to go after his opponents. The Washington Post recently reported that he has identified individuals he would target for investigation, including a number who served in his administration. Among those cited in the article were former White House chief of staff John Kelly, former attorney general William P. Barr and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark A. Milley. He has also talked about going after Biden and his family.

Whatever his campaign advisers say in a statement, Trump himself is not running away from some of what was written about a possible second term. In an interview on Univision a few days after The Post story said Trump might use the Justice Department to go after opponents, the former president confirmed that yes, he might well do that if he gets back into office.

Trump’s rhetoric has become more extreme; it is language associated with authoritarian leaders of the past. The latest and most provocative came during a Veterans Day speech in New Hampshire, when he said this: “We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections.”

Those words quickly echoed across the country and beyond, reported by news organizations and replayed again and again on cable television. Should what he said be taken neither literally nor seriously, or has a Rubicon been crossed that, with an upcoming election, requires that he be taken both literally and seriously?