Ed Kilgore/New York:

Georgia Republicans Working Hard to Sabotage a 2022 Comeback

All this obnoxious activity was obviously the product of Trump’s election-fraud claims, since there were no documented cases of problems with Georgia’s 2020 elections other than the aforementioned long lines. So the Georgia GOP was very conspicuously exposing itself as doing bad things in a bad cause.

Eventually, legislators took out some of the most offensive pieces of the final election bill, but they had so mishandled it all that nobody noticed or cared. As Kemp went on-camera to spin the legislation he was about to sign as a triumph for voting rights and election security, a Black legislator tapped on his door to see what he was doing and was promptly wrestled out of the Georgia State Capitol by white state troopers and charged with two felonies:

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Daily Beast:

Republicans Have Been Waiting for a Matt Gaetz Scandal to Break

After Rep. Matt Gaetz accused a Florida lawyer of a $25 million extortion scheme to make sex trafficking allegations disappear, Republicans on and off Capitol Hill on Wednesday largely kept their mouths shut.

Gaetz—the Trump-loving, Fox News-grinning, 38-year-old Florida Republican—has a less-than-sterling reputation among his congressional colleagues. More than a half-dozen lawmakers have spoken to these reporters about his love of alcohol and illegal drugs, as well as his proclivity for younger women. It’s well-known among Republican lawmakers that Gaetz was dating a college student—one over the age of consent—in 2018. She came to Washington as an intern.

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Greg Sargent/WaPo:

Trump’s favorite new candidate exposes the true depths of GOP radicalization

Perhaps we should be thankful that Rep. Jody Hice is running to be the new chief of elections in Georgia, with the enthusiastic backing of former president Donald Trump. That’s because the Republican’s candidacy is exposing vile truths about the GOP’s ongoing slide into authoritarianism with dispiriting but useful clarity.

We need to retheorize what’s right in front of our noses. Republicans have launched new voter-suppression efforts everywhere, while Democrats are pushing reforms to thwart those tactics and make voting easier. Yet this is often covered as a “partisan” struggle, as if each side were trying to manipulate election rules to its advantage in a manner that was vaguely equivalent.

A new CNN piece on Hice’s candidacy, and a new political science paper that breaks fresh ground on the pernicious impact of GOP tactics, should help lay that tendency to rest, by demonstrating just how radical the GOP’s descent into anti-democratic derangement truly is.

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Arwa Mahdawi/Guardian:

The sleazy Matt Gaetz saga grows ever more disturbing

After the Times broke the story, Gaetz confirmed to Axios that he was under federal investigation for sexual misconduct and is worried about being criminally charged. Rather predictably, however, he insists that he’s actually the victim in all of this and has said “no part of the allegations” against him are true. Gaetz, who is currently engaged to a woman 12 years younger than him, claimed that he used to be a “generous” partner in his single days and paid for flights and hotel rooms. “I think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not,” he said.

Why would someone want to do that? Well, in a statement released on Tuesday Gaetz said he and his family have “been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DoJ official seeking $25m while threatening to smear my name”. He claims the investigation is a cover for extortion and suggested that it was linked to the “Biden White House”. Which is a weird claim considering the New York Times reports that the investigation into Gaetz, a Donald Trump loyalist, was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under then attorney general William Barr.

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NBC News:

Culture wars strain once unshakeable bond between Republicans, corporate America

“Talking about corporate tax cuts and reducing burdensome regulations doesn’t do it for our new voters,” one Republican lobbyist said.

“Boycott baseball and all of the woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections,” former President Donald Trump said in a statement. “Are you listening Coke, Delta, and all!”

“Why are we still listening to these woke corporate hypocrites on taxes, regulations & anti-trust?” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted.

Such public dust-ups between businesses and members of the GOP are becoming more frequent, though the divide — possibly one of the most consequential in U.S. politics and society — is years in the making. The shift is the product of a Republican Party increasingly driven by “culture war” issues that animate a base invigorated by Trump and corporate powerhouses that are under more pressure than ever to align themselves with the left on voting rights, LGBTQ rights and anti-racist efforts.

The result is a fraying in relations between a GOP that has for years advocated for the kinds of libertarian economic policies that have widely benefited these businesses and companies that are using their might to help advance racial and social justice causes.

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Greg Sargent/WaPo:

The GOP attack on Delta reveals an ugly side to the culture war

An extraordinary event took place in Georgia on Wednesday night. Republicans sought to cancel a tax break for Delta Air Lines, the state’s biggest employer, as punishment for the heresy of criticizing the new voter-suppression law Republicans passed last week.

And a top Republican has openly, blithely confirmed that this was exactly the motive.

This latest turn in the Georgia voting wars is wretched in its own right. But it also helps clarify some larger national themes: the profound phoniness of many GOP screams about “cancel culture” and “woke” corporations, and the ugly nature of GOP culture-warmongering, which has grown all-consuming.

What happened is that the Georgia state House voted late Wednesday to rescind a tax break on jet fuel that is a lucrative benefit for Delta, after Delta condemned Georgia’s new voting law.

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Dr Ellie Murray/twitter:

I saw a tweet about how there isn’t enough discussion of what experts got wrong on COVID, so here’s a thread of things I got wrong. 

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Erin Aubry Kaplan/LA Times:

Derek Chauvin is in the courtroom, but the character of Black people is on trial in Minneapolis

The character of Black people is what is always on trial — their humanity and their presumed innocence called into question. Character assassination is fundamental to structural racism; it precedes it. Chauvin’s lawyers are going to argue technicalities, that Floyd was killed by cardiac arrest, that he was in bad health and used drugs, and never mind the knee on the neck. It’s not surprising from a legal standpoint: Everyone is entitled to a defense.

But really, what the defense is arguing is that Floyd died because he didn’t deserve to live. He was a big Black man, sporadically employed and, yes, a drug user. He had prior encounters with police (significantly, details of one of those encounters will be allowed into evidence). In short, he was marginal. That he would die young and badly was just a matter of time and circumstances, in any case not a reason to send a white man to prison, especially a police officer, gainfully employed and just doing his job.

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