New Jersey’s 7th district has been redrawn by the state’s Democratic legislature— with an R+1 PVI— to make two conservative Democrats’ seats safer. Blue Dogs Josh Gottheimer and Mikie Sherrill. Blue precincts were taken from Tom Malinowski’s 7th district and put into Gottheimer’s 5th and Sherrill’s 11th. Before the new map was drawn Malinowski’s district had a D+4 partisan lean; now it’s an R+3. That’s close to an electoral death sentence. Gottheimer’s district went from a partisan lean that was even to a D+7 and Sherrill’s district went from a shaky D+1 to a solid D+11 lean. In terms of PVI, Gottheimer now has a D+4 and Sherrill has a D+6. This week alone, the DCCC spent $2.3 million propping up the less than worthless Gottheimer and a DCCC ally spent $2 million last week on Sherrill. Malinowski was the sacrificial lamb and the legislature seems to be handing the seat over to one of their colleagues, Senate minority leader Tom Kean, Jr.
538 forecasts a 51.8% to 48.2% Kean victory next week, although the most recent poll— albeit by GQR, a not very reliable Democratic outfit— shows an 48-48% dead heat. Writing for the Star-Ledger editorial board this morning, Tom Moran, put the dirty campaign into context. “We are witnessing,” he wrote, “the final act in Tom Kean Jr.’s campaign for Congress, an attempt to squeak out a win by smearing his Democratic opponent with outright lies. Again. The charge is that Rep. Tom Malinowski, his Democratic opponent, used inside information in Congress to profit off the pandemic. That’s a felony, and if it were true, Malinowski would likely be headed to prison in disgrace. Republicans are using the final days of the campaign to double down on the charge. Malinowski, the Republican State Committee says, ‘got rich off other peoples’ suffering’ and used ‘insider trading tips to profit off of pandemic victims.’ It’s a theme Kean has amplified in a TV ad that begin darkly with, ‘He did it.’ No, he didn’t. We know that because the charge was investigated last year by the Office of Congressional Ethics, a bipartisan watchdog agency whose members are appointed by party leaders on both sides, split down the middle. Its conclusion? Malinowski committed a paperwork error by failing to report stock trades before the deadline and was fined $200. The bipartisan OCE report specifically ruled out insider trading, concluding that Malinowski had no clue which stocks his broker, Neil Gagnon, was buying and selling.”
Kean must have read this report, which means he must know the accusation from his campaign is untrue. At age 54, the heir to a political dynasty, Kean lost two races for Congress, and is willing to sell his soul to scratch out a win this time, to live up to that last name of his.
Let’s turn the tables and look at Kean’s ethics. He owns stocks in Big Pharma, while pushing its agenda by saying that Medicare should be banned from negotiating discounts on behalf of seniors. He owns stock in Big Oil while he opposed several measures to combat climate change, including offshore wind and the Paris Climate Accord.
That raises more red flags on ethics than a paperwork error. And as always, Kean refuses to discuss it.
…Malinowski is in this mess partly because of his own party leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who for years resisted the obvious answer – to ban all trading of individual stocks by members of Congress, to require them to invest only in mutual funds or index funds, to remove all doubt. She dropped her resistance under pressure this year, but still hasn’t done the work required to pass a bill.
“That is by far the more serious issue than disclosure,” says Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer for three years in the George W. Bush White House, now a professor of law at University of Minnesota.
Malinowski supports the ban on stock trades. Kean won’t say.
…The tragedy is that Kean was once a moderate and reasonable Republican, like his father. But when Donald Trump and the MAGA folks took over, Kean Jr. shed that persona as if changing his coat. He’s dishonest now, and secretive, and he makes no pretense of being an independent player. One of his mailers makes it explicit, with this slogan printed in large type: “No matter what Trump does, Kean has his back.”
There is a character issue in this race. But it’s not about Malinowski’s careless paperwork. It’s about Kean’s deliberately dishonest strategy.
Although Malinowski has outraised Kean significantly— $8,321,483 to $3,957,936— McCarthy’s sleazy SuperPAC has more than made up for the difference, smearing Malinowski with $4,416,219 worth of ads. The NRCC has spent another $1,024,281 in the race. Meanwhile, the DCCC spent just $95 and Pelosi’s SuperPAC, just $965,434. Odd that the Democrats feel they can give away a winnable New Jersey seat as if it were no biggie!
Writing for Salon last week, Robert McElvaine asked, “Will America's future be one of democracy and women's control over their own bodies or one of authoritarianism and forced pregnancy?” Can we count on the Democratic Establishment to do the right thing? Don’t make me laugh.
At a time when right-wing extremists are hellbent on making American states— or, as many intend the whole nation— into the fictional Republic of Gilead, it is appropriate to turn to Margaret Atwood. “Tyrants and dictators like Adolf Hitler and Nicolae Ceausescu have often dictated the terms of fertility and criminalized those who did not comply,” she pointed out in 2017. “It's no accident that Napoleon banned abortion. He said exactly what he wanted offspring for— cannon fodder. Lovely!
Speaking of authoritarian regimes, Atwood said in 2020, “What it comes down to is that they assert their right to control reproduction, and they assert their right over people's bodies. All totalitarianisms, no matter what they say their aims are, no matter what's on the flag, they all have in common the rollback of women's rights.”
…To understand, and try to overcome, both the treatment of women as property and the basis of authoritarianism, we must dive into the deep history of humanity. When we do so, we find that those two evils emanate from the same source.
It is more than mere coincidence that the desperate, redoubled quest to outlaw abortion gained traction during an era in which women have achieved a greater degree of autonomy in other areas. The underlying question is not whether a fetus is a person. Rather, it is whether a woman a person, or simply property.
That oldest and most consequential question in human history is the deep font of the struggle to control women's bodies, which is why it is so crucial to the self-doubting men who turn toward authoritarians.
It is often and correctly said that enslavement is the original sin of America. Less recognized is another foundational condition shaping much of recorded history and our lives today: Sexism is the original sin of humanity.
Misogyny is the gateway drug to all other hatreds, all other relationships of dominance and subordination. The belief that men are superior to women is the model on which all other vertical divisions— race, class, nationality, master/slave, religious hierarchies and so on— have been constructed. The subordinate position in these relationships is always depicted as corresponding to women.
…The war on women's choice is Armageddon for insecure men because if women have control over their own bodies, they are their own bodies — that is, they are equal human beings, not property owned by men.
That way lies the unraveling of male dominance and so it is on the issue they call "pro-life" (in truth, forced pregnancy), where self-doubting men who are terrified of equality with women have dug in for their last stand. Because the concept that men are superior to women is the foundation for all other claims that one classification of people is superior to another, to question male authority endangers the whole edifice of inequality that has been raised upon it.
Deuteronomy 22:29 declares that a woman must marry her rapist. Italian law had this requirement— matrimonio Riparatore, "rehabilitating marriage," to restore a raped woman's reputation— well into the second half of the 20th century. After the Dobbs decision, in many states a woman— or even a 10-year-old girl— may be required to carry and deliver the child of her rapist. The message to women in the abortion laws passed in several states over the past few years is essentially the same as that in Deuteronomy: When you're fucked, you're fucked. Anxious, fragile men are determined to keep it that way.
Women and secure men must work together to establish, once and for all, that women are not real estate, but equal human beings. One place to start is by mobilizing to ensure that those who are unequivocal in their affirmation that women are free human beings have the political power to pass a federal law protecting women's bodies from government control. Women being slaves of the state is what authoritarianism looks like. To surrender women's freedom is to surrender all our freedoms.
And you figure out where Thomas Kean Jr fits into this narrative and why it's so important to defeat him in 9 days.