Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The Christmas week Roundup has some fruit cake items to share

Washington Monthly:

Time for a POP QUIZ!

In the Real Clear Politics average of national trial heat polling of a Joe Biden-vs.-Donald Trump race, how many lead changes have taken place in 2023?

POP QUIZ ANSWER: Trump and Biden exchanged the lead five times this year.

That’s an unusually high amount in the pre-election year phase.

In 2019 and 2015, between the two eventual nominees, there were none. In 2o11, there were four (as Mitt Romney briefly took a slight lead twice.) RCP data only began tracking a Barack Obama-vs.-John McCain contest in September 2007, and found two lead changes at the very end of the year.

This year’s poll data suggests two things.

One, this is a close race. Two, swing voters still exist.

Or, three, not everyone is tuned in and different people answer polls at different times, so the samples are not representative.

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Thomas Zimmer/”Democracy Americana” on Substack:

Militant Democracy vs Donald Trump

Democracy is fated to fight those who assault it with one hand tied behind its back, lest it become that which it seeks to defeat. But fight it must – or it will perish

It is rather unlikely, therefore, that this [Colorado Supreme Court] decision will have any immediate impact in practice. And yet, this is a big deal. The discussion about what happened here and what should happen next reveals a lot about prevailing attitudes towards democracy, the Trumpist threat, and how it should be handled. Ideally, it should spark a serious reflection on democratic self-defense, and where the limits of that lie.

Unfortunately, the discourse surrounding this decision and its broader implications is a complete mess. Let’s ignore the aggressive Trumpist propaganda coming from the Republican Party – it is as predictable as it is meritless. On the non-MAGA part of the political spectrum, the fault lines have been well established since the question of whether or not Donald Trump should face legal consequences was forcefully put on the agenda by the January 6 Committee in the summer of 2022. On one side, centrist or center-right commentators like Damon Linker and elite conservative voices like Ross Douthat have been adamant that this is “breathtakingly foolish” at best, a catastrophe for the Republic at worst. On the other, there are people who are convinced enforcing criminal law and the constitution is legally justified and politically necessary – a position I share – even if it would certainly not magically solve all problems American democracy faces. Trumpism is a much more fundamental political and societal issue, and putting Trump behind bars or barring him from holding office ever again will not make the radicalizing anti-democratic forces that have fueled his rise go away. But acknowledging that doesn’t mean the courts shouldn’t be involved in the defense against the Trumpian assault.  

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Mike Godwin/Washington Post:

Yes, it’s okay to compare Trump to Hitler. Don’t let me stop you.

My very minor status as an authority on Adolf Hitler comparisons stems from having coined “Godwin’s Law” about three decades ago. I originally framed this “law” as a pseudoscientific postulate: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.” (That is, its likelihood approaches 100 percent.)

I first offered this axiom in 1990 as an observation about the discussions that had expanded like algal blooms in the nascent ecologies of online newsgroups. But within a handful of years, the law had taken on a life of its own, leaping beyond the internet and reaching into our broader popular culture.

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Ryan J Reilly/NBC News:

Jan. 6 rioters the far right claimed were antifa keep getting unmasked as Trump supporters

Misinformation about the Capitol attack continues to go viral on the right, but the claims are slowly getting debunked, federal case by federal case.

In nearly three years since a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, far-right figures have made a claim that flies in the face of reality: That the Jan. 6 attack was actually driven by far-left antifa activists dressed up like Trump supporters, or by federal agents dressed up like Trump supporters, or by some combination thereof.

The only trouble with the conspiracy? The feds keep arresting these supposedly far-left agitators, and the rioters’ own social media posts and FBI affidavits show they’re just Trump supporters.

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New York Times:

How DeSantis’s Ambitious, Costly Ground Game Has Sputtered

The Florida governor’s field operation, one of the most expensive in modern political history, has met challenges from the outset, interviews with a range of voters and political officials revealed.

Seven months later, after tens of millions of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands of doors knocked, one of the most expensive ground games in modern political history shows little sign of creating the momentum it had hoped to achieve.

Mr. DeSantis’s poll numbers have barely budged. His super PAC, Never Back Down, is unraveling. And Mr. Trump’s hold on Republican primary voters seems as unshakable as ever. With time running out before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15, Mr. DeSantis, the governor of Florida, appears in danger of losing the extraordinary bet he made in outsourcing his field operation to a super PAC — a gamble that is testing both the limits of campaign finance law and the power of money to move voter sentiment.

Never Back Down has spent at least $30 million on its push to reach voters in person through door-knocking and canvassing in early-primary states, according to a person with knowledge of its efforts — a figure that does not include additional tens of millions in television advertising. The organization has more than 100 full-time, paid canvassers in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, along with 37,000 volunteers.

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Liz Dye/Public Notice:

Mark Meadows’s loss could embolden right-wing prosecutors

If you think Ken Paxton won’t run wild with this …

The problem is that the language of 28 U.S.C. § 1442(b), which deals with civil suits against non-resident government agents, explicitly allows a former federal official to remove to federal court. And the language of § 1442(a), which deals with civil or criminal cases generally, does not.

So with that in mind, here’s what the Eleventh Circuit asked:

In certain circumstances, 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1) permits “any officer (or any person acting under that officer) of the United States or of any agency thereof, in an official or individual capacity,” to remove a civil action or criminal prosecution from state court to federal court. Does that statute permit former federal officers to remove state actions to federal court or does it permit only current federal officers to remove? Compare 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1), with 28 U.S.C. § 1442(b) (permitting removal of “[a] personal action commenced in any State court by an alien against any citizen of a State who is, or at the time the alleged action accrued was, a civil officer of the United States and is a nonresident of such State . . .”).

In plain English, the appellate panel wanted to know why Meadows, as a former federal official, was entitled to remove his case under this statute. And the question came out of left field, because most people who’d given the matter any thought had assumed that it simply had to.

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And speaking of Ken Paxton, there’s also Dan Patrick. This from The Messenger:

Texas Lt. Gov. Floats Removing Biden From State Ballot in Response to Colorado Dumping Trump

Dan Patrick cited the border when considering the move in response to Trump’s current 2024 legal battle

“Seeing what happened in Colorado makes me think — except we believe in democracy in Texas — maybe we should take Joe Biden off the ballot in Texas for allowing eight million people to cross the border since he’s been president disrupting our state for more than anything anyone else has done in recent history,” Patrick told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Fox News.

Colorado paused their ruling until early January, giving Trump time to appeal to the Supreme Court. Trump’s campaign promised an appeal immediately after the Colorado decision

As the saying goes (e.g., at the bottom of the portrait of the Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall): Fiat justitia ruat caelum (Let justice be done though the heavens fall).

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Matt Robison:

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