Arizona’s 2023 monsoon leaves us wanting more. Why some of us got rain and others didn’t

AZ Central – The Arizona Republic

Arizona’s 2023 monsoon leaves us wanting more. Why some of us got rain and others didn’t

Kye Graves, Arizona Republic – September 29, 2023

Arizona’s 2023 monsoon season left a lot to be desired, from below-average rainfall numbers across the state to record-setting heat streaks, and the spectacle that often provides widespread relief to the region was sorely missed.

The scope of the season’s impact, while minimal, was exacerbated by the scalding summer conditions and multiple heat records in a slew of categories.

Thunderstorms were hard to come by this year. Rainfall totals for the monsoon season, which ends Sept. 30, will likely result in the driest-ever summer season at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where the National Weather Service records the official figure. The rain gauge there posted just 0.15 of an inch, less than half the total of 1924, previously the driest with 0.35 of an inch.

Some areas did fare better, primarily in the East Valley and Cave Creek, where some gauges snagged upward of 4 inches, but the spotty season will still place Maricopa County on the infamous dry list behind 2020’s “Nonsoon.”

Ultimately, this lack of storms helped fuel the full effect of triple-digit temperatures and the sweltering sun to be felt across the state.

In fact, each of the three branches of the National Weather Service — Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson — recorded Julys that surpassed the month in years prior, posting their hottest-ever totals.

The sun silhouettes the air traffic control tower at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix on Sept. 6, 2023. An excessive heat watch for this weekend was issued by the National Weather Service.
Flagstaff sees hottest monsoon season on record; Tucson and Phoenix hottest-ever Julys

Climate summary data from the weather service’s website highlights the month’s ferocity. In the Phoenix area, for example, average high temperatures for July were 114.7 degrees, more than eight degrees above the recorded norm between the years 1991-2020.

The average mean temperature was 102.7 degrees, about seven degrees higher than the recorded norm. The most revealing stat was for warm-lows, as nights in Phoenix averaged 90.8 degrees, more than six degrees north of the month’s typical mean.

For Tucson and Flagstaff, climate reports echo a similar song. Tucson posted its hottest July, with an average monthly temperature of 94.2, six degrees hotter than normal. Flagstaff witnessed its warmest July, with a 4.7-degree temperature spike above its typical mark, bringing the overall average figure for the month to 71.4 degrees.

Flagstaff is on pace for its warmest monsoon season on record by just 0.2 degrees, surpassing the number one spot set in 1980.

Rainfall totals shallow compared to recent years

Total precipitation for 2023’s monsoon, recorded at Phoenix Sky Harbor, Flagstaff Pulliam and Tucson International airports, varied across the board:

  • Flagstaff: 4.24 inches
  • Tucson: 4.73 inches
  • Phoenix: 0.15 of an inch

As a whole, the deviation from the norm for Tucson is not that negative.

A typical season usually produces around 5.7 inches of rain for Tucson’s airport, coming mainly in July and August. This was mirrored in 2023, as the prime months brought 2 and 2.39 inches, respectively, making up for a zero in the June column and a lackluster September

Tucson held close to its 2022 mark as well, coming just 0.20 of an inch from eclipsing that year’s total.

In Flagstaff and Phoenix, things get a lot less pretty.

At the high country’s airport, 2023’s accumulation of 4.24 inches puts it well below its average of 7.68. The year was also dwarfed in comparison to 2022 (10.63 inches) and 2021 (10.90 inches).

In Phoenix, Sky Harbor caught an abysmal 0.15 of an inch of rain this season, easily placing it as the driest on record, pushing out 1924 at 0.35 of an inch. Usually, Sky Harbor gets around 2.43 inches of rain during the season.

When compared even to 2020’s “Nonsoon,” a total that both Tucson and Flagstaff handily exceeded, Phoenix’s 2023 comes nowhere close. Sky Harbor got exactly 1 inch of rain that year, according to NWS statistics.

Overall for Arizona, precipitation in 2023 was more in line with typical seasons than that of 2020 and 2021.

“I would say as far as precipitation patterns, it was more typical because of the variability,” NOAA Warning Coordination Meteorologist Kenneth Drozd told The Arizona Republic. “(In) 2022, there were more places that were above normal than below normal, but it was still pretty mixed. Kind of like this year, there are more places that are below normal than above normal, but it still varies quite a bit depending on where you’re at.”

In 2020 and 2021, Drozd said, conditions were “unique” because of their widespread consistencies, with 2020 being so dry and 2021 being much wetter.

Maricopa County on pace to be wetter than 2020

While Sky Habor couldn’t catch a break, Arizona’s most populous county as a whole is set to end the monsoon season in a better position.

According to data from the Maricopa County Flood Control District, the county posted wetter numbers than it did in 2020, in large part due to healthier amounts falling in Cave Creek, Wickenburg, Apache Junction and portions of the East Valley.

Throughout Maricopa County, totals from data stretching back 108 days from the season’s Saturday endpoint bounce around from lows in central Phoenix at 0.39 of an inch to upward of four inches in parts of Cave Creek.

A notable area that performed the best in the county was near rural Crown King north of the Valley, where there were spots receiving nearly eight inches during the storm span.

“In general, the closer to the mountains you are, the more rain you’re going to receive during monsoon because the storms form over them,” National Weather Service Phoenix office meteorologist Mark O’Malley told The Republic. “That just became exacerbated this year where the areas of south Phoenix through Laveen, down through Avondale and Goodyear, some areas didn’t even receive a tenth of an inch.”

According to O’Malley, the lack of storms this season was primarily due to the weather pattern setting up with strong high pressure over southern Arizona, bringing hotter temperatures and lackluster storms.

“The weather pattern was set up to where it favored the heat and the storms were more removed from the area, more frequently,” O’Malley said.

SRP: 3 monsoons touched down in the Valley in 2023

According to data from Salt River Project, three major monsoon storms hit metro Phoenix in 2023: on July 26Aug. 31 and Sept. 12.

These storms left their marks, too, with SRP reporting estimated outage numbers at the height of each storm:

  • July 26: 50,000 customers out of power
  • Aug. 31: 71,000 customers out of power
  • Sept. 12: 39,000 customers out of power

APS customers were affected as well, with the company reporting approximate outages during peak storm hours:

  • July 26: 7,750 customers without power
  • Aug. 31: 18,000 customers without power
  • Sept. 12: 11,000 customers without power

Each event brought its own force, bringing down power lines, overturning planes, destroying mobile homes and uprooting trees. While par for the course during the season, rainfall totals certainly weren’t.

The Maricopa County Flood Control District’s point rainfall data paints a clear picture of how dry the year was.

For July 26, chunks of the storm covered the greater Phoenix area into Scottsdale and swaths of the East Valley, with downtown Phoenix only registering 0.04 of an inch of rain. Paradise Valley and Apache Junction received as much as one full inch during the duration of the storm.

On Aug. 31, more portions of Maricopa County got involved but with far less rain. Only two areas throughout the metro saw upward of a half inch. Much of the rain that fell did so in the Cave Creek and New River areas, ranging from 1.45 to 3 inches through the course of the storm.

A storm on Sept. 12 produced the best results for the Valley, with multiple areas getting over the half-inch hump. Again, much of the wealth ended up in Cave Creek, with various areas tabulating over 1.5 inches.

We didn’t have a Pure Michigan summer. Pay attention to those climate warning signs.

Detroit Free Press – Opinion

We didn’t have a Pure Michigan summer. Pay attention to those climate warning signs.

Ali Abazeed – September 29, 2023

As summer draws to a close, it would be easy to forget the weather patterns and disruptions that took us about as far from a Pure Michigan summer as you can get. But we’re moving into an uncertain future, and we must pay attention to these warning signs.

Metro Detroit experienced unprecedented air quality alerts this summer, with over 23 days of air quality gauged unhealthy or worse, the first-ever air quality alert for the entire state, our own rash of fires due to unprecedented hot and dry conditions, and, thanks to Canadian wildfire smoke in early June, another air-quality alert first: a warning based on PM2.5, a form of fine particulate matter that wreaks havoc on the respiratory system.

Hospitals across the state reported increased admissions of patients suffering breathing problems due to poor air quality. For a region of the country that already ranks poorly in particle pollution, this summer’s alerts serve as a clarion call for action.

And it wasn’t just poor air quality. We’ve witnessed increases in extreme flooding, extreme heat, tornadoes and high winds, just this summer. If left unchecked, we are looking at scenarios that will lead to profound environmental degradation — and this for a state deemed a potential “climate haven” for its ability to weather the even more destructive effects of climate change.

Smoke from Canadian wildfires lingers in downtown Detroit skyline off of Woodward Avenue on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.
Beyond the ‘hottest summer ever’: How climate extremes impact us

Flooding and erosion will likely disrupt Michigan’s precious freshwater systems, and could contribute to harmful algal blooms that damage aquatic life and pose a risk to human health. Just last week, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources added two new invasive species to the state’s watch list, likely the result of alterations in habitat conditions due to climate change. These environmental flags have far-reaching consequences for the region, our state’s social fabric, and public health.

The consequences of climate extremes extend beyond just the environment and health. The stress and uncertainty generated by extreme weather events also corrode our built environment and social square.

Upheaval due to extreme weather is leading to significant changes in the fabric of society. Research shows that climate change is causing “social tipping points”: fast and fundamental changes in human values, behaviors, the nature of relationships, technologies and institutions that are just as intractable and hard to undo as climate change itself.

Lake Michigan shoreline in Ottawa County, Mich., is shown on Feb. 1, 2022. Despite its closeness to the lake, the county has areas where household and business wells are running short of water. That's because the aquifer beneath the county has dropped significantly in recent decades and it has no connection to the lake. Experts say Ottawa County is a cautionary tale for the state of Michigan, which is trying to leverage its water abundance to build a "blue economy" as climate change brings more drought and depleted aquifers to much of the U.S.

Constant worry about the next flood or extreme weather event takes a toll on interpersonal relationships, and has a deleterious effect on community bonds. Neighborhood squares, once the bedrock of local culture and interaction, face an existential crisis as people are forced to move, houses are abandoned and the pressures of climate change reshape communities. The ironclad law of climate change is this: Underserved communities and communities closest to the pain will always bear the brunt of displacement, insecurity and devastation due to extreme weather.

More from Freep opinion: I lead the Michigan AFL-CIO. Trump has never shown up for union workers. | Opinion

This is to say nothing of the already growing political tensions likely to rise due to extreme weather.

Research has repeatedly shown that more extreme weather contributes to many adverse outcomes, including violent crime, political instability and even the collapse of global regimes. Locally, we have diverging views on accepting the science of climate change, let alone addressing its disastrous effects. Politicizing what should be a shared concern for our state will make it harder to enact meaningful change.

Climate change is a public health crisis – and a social challenge

So, what can we do?

First, we must accept that extreme weather is not just an environmental issue, but a public health crisis and a social challenge. A public health approach centers on the health and well-being of communities near and far, but also emphasizes the importance of our built environment and its effect on our health. If our built environment is constantly reconfigured and disrupted by the ensuing floods, droughts, storms, or wildfires, the consequences on our health will continue to be disastrous.

We must adopt and enforce policies that limit emissions and promote sustainable practices now.

It’s important to expand our conception of community, and invest in regional efforts vital to increasing the resilience of communities, like long overdue investments in regional transit.

Downstream communities like Dearborn cannot solve flooding alone — we need cooperation and support from upstream communities to improve resiliency.

Though climate change is often globalized, seen as a concept far removed from our day-to-day, local actions can provide significant outcomes in the short term. For example, research shows that though most climate-related actions save money and provide benefits in the long run, the benefits of emission reductions for improved air quality provide immediate results regarding improved health outcomes, agricultural benefits, medical expenses and economic benefits.

Actions at the local level matter, and there are essential steps you can take now in your own community: Encourage investment in green infrastructure that makes our terrain more resilient to inevitable extreme weather, shift toward renewable energy sources, and educate yourself and others on climate adaptation. Ask your local government whether it has a sustainability plan. When new developments are proposed in your community, make sure those developments move us closer to a green future. Political leaders should incorporate public health concepts and terminology into their climate policies to engage communities that are facing the brunt of the devastation.

The summer of 2023 was a glaring preview of what’s at stake for Michigan’s future. Our health, communities and shared social bonds are on the line.

The time for more decisive action was yesterday.

Ali Abazeed is a Dearborn native, founding director of public health for the City of Dearborn, where is is currently the city’s chief public health officer, and is a faculty member at Wayne State University.

Trump’s retribution plan: Becoming America’s first dictator


Trump’s retribution plan: Becoming America’s first dictator

Chauncey DeVega – September 29, 2023

Donald Trump Sean Rayford/Getty Images
Donald Trump Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Donald Trump is a very honest liar.

When Trump says he is going to hurt you he means it. This is one of the primary reasons his political cultists are so loyal to him.

On this, journalist Masha Gessen warns and advises: “Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: Humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable.”

In her new book, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson shares how during the Jan. 6 terrorist attack on the Capitol by his followers, Trump was heard chanting “hang” as Mike Pence was fleeing for his life. Cassidy’s account is but one more example of many showing how the disgraced and mentally unwell ex-president likely has what psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank suggests is an erotic relationship to violence.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Cassidy issued the following warning about her former boss: “I think that Donald Trump is the most grave threat we will face to our democracy in our lifetime, and potentially in American history.”

Confirming Hutchinson’s warnings, in a Sunday post on his Truth Social disinformation platform, Trump again threatened to end freedom of the press and the First Amendment if he returns to power.

They are almost all dishonest and corrupt, but Comcast, with its one-side and vicious coverage by NBC NEWS, and in particular MSNBC, often and correctly referred to as MSDNC (Democrat National Committee!), should be investigated for its “Country Threatening Treason.” Their endless coverage of the now fully debunked SCAM known as Russia, Russia, Russia, and much else, is one big Campaign Contribution to the Radical Left Democrat Party. I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I WIN the Presidency of the United States, they and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events. Why should NBC, or any other of the corrupt & dishonest media companies, be entitled to use the very valuable Airwaves of the USA, FREE? They are a true threat to Democracy and are, in fact, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE! The Fake News Media should pay a big price for what they have done to our once great Country!

Trump is not exaggerating, or posturing, or just being hyperbolic as too many in the American news media, the country’s political class, and among the general public would like to believe – which at this point is delusional. When Trump calls the news media “the enemy of the people” and invokes the Nazis and their attacks on the “lugenpresse“, he is threatening members of the news media (and public more broadly) with prison – and worse if they dare to oppose him.

At a rally in Iowa last Wednesday, Trump told his followers that he is going to invoke the Alien Enemies Act, which is a little-used law that gives the president unilateral power to deport and detain non-citizens who are older than 14 years old. The Alien Enemies Act was last used by President Roosevelt during World War 2 to put Japanese Americans in concentration camps. Trump has also promised to reinstate a ban on travel to America from Muslim countries as well as his regime’s evil “family separation” policy – and presumably the concentration camp system that accompanied it.

Trump is threatening to use the Alien Enemies Act against “drug dealers” and “suspected gang members”. Trump should not be believed: given his past behavior and announced plans to become a dictator he will likely use that law to target his personal and political enemies. As seen in his recent attacks on Gen. Mark Milley, Trump is escalating his fascist threats of violence as part of his plan to become America’s first dictator.

In an interview earlier this month with Hugh Hewitt, Trump summoned the white supremacist conspiracy theory lie that the “Democrats” and “the left” are “importing” black and brown people from “Third World countries” in an attempt to replace “real Americans”, i.e. White “Christians”:

These are corrupt people. These are fascists. These are Marxists. These are communists. These are sick people that are destroying our country. We have millions of people coming in. I’m in New York right now, and I just rode through the streets. I’ve never seen anything like it. New York, I’ve never seen it looking like this. And you have thousands and thousands of people in plain sight that come from foreign countries that most people never even heard of. It’s not just countries adjoining us. It’s foreign countries that many people have never even heard of. They’re coming from all over Africa. They’re coming from areas of the world that nobody can believe, and how far it is away for them to get there. These cartels are making a fortune, and they’re destroying our country, and we’re doing nothing about it. And we have a president that’s incompetent and corrupt.

In his interviews and speeches and other communications, Trump is also continuing to announce his plans to deploy the military to occupy America’s cities (meaning major cities with large populations of nonwhites in “blue” parts of the country), put homeless people in camps, use the Department of Justice to punish and imprison his political rivals (including President Biden), and to criminalize transgendered people.

In all, Trump’s plans are an extension of a decades-long revolutionary project by the “conservative” movement and white right to end multiracial pluralistic democracy and replace it with a Christofascist plutocracy. These plans to end American democracy are detailed in Trump’s Agenda 47 and the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025.

In a 2022 essay at Current, historian John Fea reflected upon the lessons for how to turn the United States into a fascist nation as instructed in the 1938 satirical novel “The School for Dictators”:

1. Encourage anti-intellectualism.

2. Undermine moral standards, especially among lawmakers.

3. Pursue power for power’s sake. 

4. Develop a spiritual connection with loyal followers.

5. Rewrite national history.

6. Create political chaos.

Some eight decades later, “The School for Dictators” is a prophetic guidebook for the Trumpocene.

For more than seven years, the American news media has, largely, continued to fail in its responsibilities to defend American democracy against Trumpism and neofascism. In a time of democracy crisis, the news media should be speaking truth to the powerful, shining a light on the threats to democracy and civil society, and helping the public to understand the nature of the challenge and what they should do about it. Instead, the American news media has decided to play referee or alternatively to behave like a traffic cop who does not intervene to stop the crimes he or she is witnessing.

Donald Trump is an objective threat to American democracy and civil society. That is a fact. Instead of stating that fact consistently and plainly, the American news media has decided to be neutral and to create false standards of “fairness” and “balance” and “bothsideism” that reduce these existential dangers to being mere “partisanship” and “polarization” where the Democrats and Republicans, Biden and Trump, those Americans who believe in a real democracy vs the supporters of the MAGA movement and neofascism, are all more or less equivalent.

In all, profits and entertaining and distracting the public matter to the mainstream news media more than telling uncomfortable truths.

In a recent post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, author Stephen Beschloss described such irresponsible behavior by the country’s news media in the following way:

Trump is getting worse, more dangerous, more bent on inciting violence. This is not a presidential candidate; this is a criminal defendant seeking to save his own skin no matter how much damage it causes. The media must stop pretending this is a normal presidential horse race.

At New York magazine, Eric Levitz engages in this bold truth-telling:

In this context, a news outlet can cover Trump’s affronts to democracy. But it can’t quite internalize them. For such a publication to fully behave as though it has a working memory — and a capacity to rationally weigh the significance of disparate pieces of information — would be for it to resemble a partisan rag.

The most salient truth about the 2024 election is that the Republican Party is poised to nominate an authoritarian thug who publishes rationalizations for political violence and promises to abuse presidential authority on a near-daily basis. There is no way for a paper or news channel to appropriately emphasize this reality without sounding like a shrill, dull, Democratic propaganda outlet. So, like the nation writ large, the press comports itself as an amnesiac, or an abusive household committed to keeping up appearances, losing itself in the old routines, in an effortful approximation of normality until it almost forgets what it doesn’t want to know.

Once again, as Masha Gessen warns, “Believe the autocrat. He means what he says.”

The autocrat – and in the case of Donald Trump, he who wants to be a dictator – is not kidding. Denial, wishcasting, hope peddling, and hiding behind “centrism”, “norms”, “consensus”, “institutions”, “the guardrails”, “tradition”, “American Exceptionalism”, “our leaders”, “the adults in the room”, and other myths and fantasies and failed psychological coping mechanisms will not save you or American democracy from Trump and the Republican fascists’ cruelty and destruction and pain.

That time of the year! How To Get Rid of Mice — Easy Home Remedies as Inexpensive as They Are Effective:

Woman’s World

How To Get Rid of Mice — Easy Home Remedies as Inexpensive as They Are Effective: Pest Pro Reveals

Lindsey Bosslett – September 28, 2023

Ahh, we love the nip in the air that means fall is finally here. Unfortunately, the dip in outdoor temperatures means mice will be looking to take up residence in warmer surroundings, namely your home. If all through your house a creature is stirring, don’t worry — it’s easier than you think to banish mice. And it’s important to know: Not only are mice a nuisance, they can also import other pests, like ticks and mites, into your home. In fact, according to Discovery Wildlife, 42% of homeowners with an unwanted “mouse guest” will experience damage to their home’s structure and furnishings; 31% to food supplies; and 9% to insulation and wiring. And since a single mouse can give birth to 50 or more babies a year! We’ve tapped pest pros to give us the best way to get rid of mice without having to call…a pest pro!

How to tell if you have mice
Mouse eating through a piece of bread
Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty images

“Mice are primarily nocturnal, so the chances you’ll actually see one are low unless you’re a night owl,” explains Nicole Carpenter, pest control specialist with Black Pest. Signs you have one or more living among you include:

  • Holes chewed into boxes of food, pet food and litter
  • Holes chewed into furniture, blankets or pillows with stuffing disturbed
  • Cylindrical, pointy-ended droppings about 6 mm long
  • The smell of ammonia, which is caused by their urine
  • Hearing scurrying, squeaking or gnawing sounds in your walls, vents or ceiling
  • Seeing tooth marks in furniture, walls or wires
  • Dirty-looking smears along walls or floors, which is caused by the grease on their fur
Why mice can be hazardous to your health

Mice can carry several diseases that can be transferred to their human roommates, including hantavirusleptospirosislymphocytic choriomeningitis, typhus and even the bubonic plague, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And though it’s rare to get sick from the rodents, it’s important to throw away any food they may have gotten into to ensure you stay disease-free.

How to get rid of mice: the best no-trap deterrent home remedies

If you’ve found signs that little critters have set up shop in your home, try the following simple home remedies to create a mouse-free zone without needing to trap and kill them:

1. The smell of peppermint
a bunch of fresh picked mint, home remedy to get rid of mice
Jenny Dettrick/Getty Images

Mint is one of the best all-natural mice deterrents there is. “Mice really hate the smell and will go out of their way — even leave their cozy nests behind —to avoid it,” Carpenter reveals. “Just take some cotton balls, soak them in peppermint essential oil and leave them near spots you think the mice are active in your home.”

2. The smell of mothballs
Moth balls over the sackcloth (How to Get Rid of Mice Home Remedies)

May as well call them miceballs, mothballs contain naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene — as these chemicals break down, they produce an odorous gas that creates that signature “mothball” scent. Mice not only find the smell unpleasant, the gas is also unhealthy for them, so they’ll take off for clearer air elsewhere. “Simply place mothballs near where you think the mice are nesting,” says Thomas.

3. The smell of white vinegar

Another scent mice won’t want to be around is white vinegar. Carpenter says there are two ways to put it to work: “First, you can soak cotton balls in white vinegar and put them where you suspect mice might be. Change these every few days to keep the vinegar smell strong. Or you can mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spritz it along baseboards, corners and entry points. Repeat this as needed.”

How to get rid of mice: humane trap home remedies

Humane traps let you capture mice, then release them unharmed away from your home. Experts recommend driving at least two miles away, otherwise the mice will often try to return. A few to try: Wanqueen Humane Trap 4-pack, (Buy from Amazon, $12.99) or Harris Catch and Release Humane Mouse Trap 2-pack, (Buy from Home Depot, $14.39).

If you are considering using traps that kill mice, the best choice is a spring trap, which can be found at your local supermarket or dollar store and are the least likely to cause the mouse any suffering.

Most pest experts recommend staying away from glue traps due to cruelty, and from poisons, as these not only cause an unpleasant death for the mouse, but they can wind up perishing inside your walls or vents and be difficult to remove. Plus, if the bait or poisoned mouse is eaten by pets or other wildlife, they can wind up being poisoned, as well.

Can a cat help rid my home of mice?

Not all cats are interested in hunting, and even those who do like to stalk prey typically cannot tackle a true infestation. Bottom line: Kitties are great pets, but generally not a reliable form of mouse control.

How to keep mice from ever darkening your door

To avoid even needing to know how to get rid of mice using home remedies, the first line of defense is to keep mice out of your home in the first place, says Sean Thomas, owner of DIY pest control blog Conquer Critters. His easy how-tos:

1. Tweak your pantry

Food is one of the top reasons mice enter homes, according to Thomas, and they can detect scents up to 10 miles away — which means they can sniff out crumbs left on your counters and floors, as well as food left in paper or cardboard containers, which includes pantry staples like rice, cereal, oats, sugar and pasta. Give your kitchen a quick daily sweep to stay on top of crumbs, Thomas advises. “And store food in airtight, mouse-proof packaging.” Look for hard plastic food storage bins at the dollar store. Or you can buy entire sets, like the Mibote 28-piece airtight storage container set (Buy at Walmart, $49.99). Not only are they mouse-proof, they also keep your food fresher longer and can transform your pantry from cluttered to a beautifully curated space.

2. Plug sneaky leaks
Pipe leaking water
LoveTheWind/Getty Images

Like every other creature, mice need water to live. “So if there are any leaking pipes or standing water, that can draw them in too,” Carpenter explains. Just do a quick check under sink cabinets and near drains in basements to make sure there are no water issues you need to address — in addition to mice, these can also cause mold and mildew problems that may impact your health. (Click through to learn more about how to get rid of mold in your bathroom.)

3. Bar common entry points

Shelter is the other top reason mice enter homes — most people believe they only invade in winter while looking for warmth, but they will also seek the cool, dry comfort of your house to escape the summer heat and rain.

“Shoring up your house from shelter-seeking mice takes a bit of a sharp eye,” says Thomas. “Mice have collapsible rib cages, which means they can flatten their bodies to fit in a tiny gap between, say, the bottom of your garage door and the floor, or a hole as small as 2 cm. They are also adept climbers, so the entryways don’t need to be ground-level.”

Where to check for mice

When looking for mouse entryways, grab a flashlight and check these areas key inside your home:

  • Around doors and windows
  • Inside cabinets, particularly the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Along baseboards and near vent openings
  • Behind appliances
  • Around pipes and floor drains
  • Along basement walls and crawl spaces

Then head outside and inspect these spots:

  • The foundation
  • Around pipes, gas lines or electrical wiring
  • The garage door and walls
  • Around any weather stripping
  • Any outdoor vents and airways
  • Attic windows

See holes and gaps? A home remedy that works: Use copper or steel wool to fill in holes, as mice typically won’t put in the effort to chew through it.

Or, you can fill them in using expandable mouse-proof foam insultation, such as DAP Mouse Foam Sealant, (Buy from Amazon, $18.62) or Smart Dispenser 12 oz. Pestblock Insulating Spray Foam Sealant, (Buy from Home Depot, $9.97)

Whether You Prefer to Snap, Zap, or Catch and Release Them

Popular Mechanics

These Are the Best Mouse Traps, Whether You Prefer to Snap, Zap, or Catch and Release Them

Kevin Cortez, Alex Rennie – September 27, 2023

victor mouse trap
The Best Mouse Traps for Getting Rid of RodentsVictor

“Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links.”

Whether you think mice are pests to be eliminated by any means necessary or simply cute and cuddly guests to be relocated, one thing is true: They need to be removed. And you should know how to get rid of mice. Although serious infestations will require a professional pest control expert, there’s still a lot you can do to mitigate your rodent problem by employing mouse traps. These are designed to be easy to use, and since they’re available in a variety of types and sizes, you can choose exactly how you’d like to deal with captured mice.

Looking for more pest control solutions? Check out our guides for the best insect repellentstick repellents, and bug zappers.

The Best Mouse Traps
What to Consider
Catch and Release (No-Kill), Snap Traps (Kill), or Glue (Either/Or)

The most important thing to remember when choosing a mouse trap is whether or not you want to kill your mice or keep them alive after they’re caught. If you’d prefer not to kill the unwanted houseguests, choose a “catch and release” trap. These contraptions usually feature a mechanism that allows the mouse to enter then quarantines them inside until you can transport them to wherever you plan to release them. They’re also typically reusable and come in various sizes, from catching one mouse to up to 10. Catch and release is considered, naturally, a humane pest control tactic. When releasing, just be careful not to make contact with any urine or droppings to prevent exposure to hantaviruses.

Choose a snap-style or glue trap if you plan to kill your mice. Snapping traps do just that: snap their jaws onto the mouse once the animal steps on the trigger. These are usually disposable as, once a mouse has been killed in it, other mice will tend to avoid it.

Glue traps are another lethal option and use a strong adhesive to trap and immobilize the mouse when it steps on it, eventually killing it. Although we have been able to use glue traps without killing the mice they caught (we used olive oil to free them successfully), you should consider these traps lethal. Rats often get stuck and will rip off their skin and fur when trying to escape them, so be mindful of this if you consider the glue trap. All glue traps are made with nontoxic adhesive, so if a small child or pet accidentally touches one, they won’t be exposed to harmful chemicals or poisons. However, the CDC does not recommend glue traps as they can scare mice and rats, causing them to urinate, which can increase risk of rodent-related illnesses.

We don’t recommend using poisons. These baits and pellets cause rats and mice to die slowly over time, resulting in dead bodies scattered around the house—maybe inside your walls or in other hard-to-reach areas. That can also create an odor that’s difficult to locate and, therefore, clean up. Poisons also cause rodent bodies to become poisonous, thus poisoning any animal that may eat a carcass—pets included.


Regardless of what kind of trap you choose, you’ll need bait. Some traps include gel baits that attract mice to their scent, while others require you to use something that you may already have to invite mice, like food. Pest control companies often recommend loading traps with small bits of cheese, nut butter, chocolate, or seeds. Be careful not to overload a trap, as mice may easily be able to grab pieces without setting them off. Too much bait also risks attracting other pests like roaches and ants.

How We Selected

We’ve used nearly every mouse trap and took that experience, as well as several hours of research, to determine which are the best. We considered advice, guides, and explainers from various pest control services and publications to find what makes a mouse trap effective, and, importantly, only chose lures with nontoxic additives. No poisonous baits were considered, as they’re too dangerous for homes with animals and children. We did our best to include a range of trap sizes, so whether you’re in a studio apartment with minimal room or need help controlling an outdoor infestation, you’ll find a trap that best suits your living space. Because there isn’t much variation among traps of a certain type between brands, we selected only six as the best: two catch-and-release, two snap, and and one glue trap, plus an electric option for the quickest kill possible.

Press ’N Set Mouse Trap

This snap trap served us well during a particularly aggressive mouse infestation. It’s extremely simple to set up, so there’s minimal risk of pinched fingers. You just press the rear tab, the jaw opens, and the trap is ready to go.

Best of all, the top jaw has a handy cutout, so you can bait the trigger before you even expose the teeth. Despite this simple operation, the trap is stronger than you might think, and ours was even able to catch three mice in a single snap. Its white plastic body is also easier on the eyes than black or metal traps, which was a nice perk.

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M154 Mouse Trap

If you’re looking to trap several mice but don’t have the budget for more expensive disposable traps, this classic Victor snap trap is a great fit—given you’re okay with kill traps. You get a dozen with each purchase, making it ideal for placing along a runway or area that rodents frequently use, increasing chances of success.

This old-school, prototypical mouse trap isn’t as easy to set as newer traps—it has more tension when setting them. Relatedly, users find the trigger less sensitive than on other traps, and featherweight or younger mice may not be heavy enough to set it off. Others say it’s fragile and, while labeled reusable, is likely not. Still, most users say this classic trap is the way to go, as it instantly kills mice, thus, limiting exposure to potential rodent-related diseases via droppings or urine—no wait, and minor cleanup.

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M250S No Touch, No See Mouse Trap

This lethal trap features a unique system to destroy the mice it captures—using an electric current to quickly electrocute any rodents that walk inside its “kill chamber.”

The chamber is detachable, so it’s easy to empty and clean out and allows you to re-bait it before reattaching. A green indicator light also lets you know as soon as a mouse is caught and will stay lit for up to a week so that you won’t miss it.

Replacing batteries in any tool can be inconvenient, but since this model can kill 100 mice per charge, you won’t need to switch them out often.

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Heavy Duty Glue Mouse Trap

This Catchmaster glue trap covers a large surface area—10 by 5 inches—which increases your chances of trapping your furry intruders. They’re simple to use—just pull the two boards apart and place them on the ground—and should last for up to a year under normal circumstances.

Plus, the integrated floor anchors (tabs of putty at each corner of the trap) keep them in place, even if your mouse tries to pull them away. The large size of these traps might not make them the most practical choice for heavy traffic areas like your kitchen, where pets or kids might accidentally get stuck.

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Flip N Slide Mouse Trap

This RinneTrap bucket trap is designed to humanely capture multiple mice, making it well-suited for barns, warehouses, or anywhere else with large mice populations that need removing.

A simple ramp and tipping lid means no poisons or chemicals on your property. You simply attach this device to a standard 5- or 20-gallon bucket, load it with bait, check the trap, and release the rodents if full. It doesn’t include the required bucket, though you should be able to find one at your local hardware store. RinneTraps are quite pricey when compared to other traps here, however.

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M310SSR Tin Cat Multi-Catch Live Mouse Trap

The Victor Tin Cat mouse trap is large enough to catch up to 30 mice before reaching capacity, but its 1.9-inch height still makes it compact enough to use in your home without taking up too much space. Its cutout window lets you know when a mouse is inside, and the lid is simple to open, so you can quickly release them whenever ready.

Its metal construction ensures a mouse can’t simply open its list and slip out, plus it makes cleaning bait, like peanut butter and cheeses, off its surface. This trap is safe for kids and animals and can be reused or disposed of when finished.

Some users say it’s ineffective for catching small and baby mice, as they can slip through the trap’s openings. Others note that it works well when used outdoors and can withstand mild weather like rain and snow.

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Donald Trump’s thrill ride is nearly over — but the media refuses to let go


Donald Trump’s thrill ride is nearly over — but the media refuses to let go

Brian Karem – September 28, 2023

Donald Trump Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Donald Trump Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Longtime White House correspondent Brian Karem writes a weekly column for Salon.

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend
The end of our elaborate plans
The end of everything that stands — Jim Morrison

I take no joy in saying this, but we in the press are moral cowards.

Last Friday, former President Donald Trump called for the execution of U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, branding him a traitor. This was because Milley told his Chinese counterparts, toward the end of the Trump administration, that the U.S. was not planning to invade China and start World War III. In other words, Milley reiterated official U.S. policy since the end of World War II, which Trump is apparently unaware that we won. But forgive him: He also seems to think Jeb Bush was president.

A few days later, our actual president, Joe Biden, made history by standing on a picket line with striking UAW members in Michigan.

We in the press didn’t tell you much about that, but we wasted airtime, pixels and ink reporting that Trump calls himself “pro-worker” — though there is no evidence of that to be found anywhere. We also told you that Biden wears tennis shoes. We pretty much ignored Trump’s threat against the chairman of the Joint Chiefs — who Trump himself appointed, by the way. We have also done minimal reporting on the New York judge who imposed the “corporate death penalty” on Trump’s business enterprises this week and may end up confiscating Trump’s property, after issuing a summary judgment that Trump’s companies actively engaged in fraud over many years.

There’s a potential government shutdown coming this weekend, but that took a back seat to an outlier political poll that shows Trump leading Biden by 10 points.

Those still capable of cogent thought may well wonder: When did this country jump the shark?

Dahlia Lithwick, a member of Mary Trump’s “Nerd Avengers,” said on the podcast Wednesday,  “We have achieved a point where lawlessness is the goal itself.” So while she may not pinpoint when we jumped, she certainly knows where we landed. This is the end, beautiful friend.

Take a look around. Who would want their children to grow up and become members of Congress? Bob Menendez, George Santos, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, Lauren Boebert, Kevin McCarthy . . . the list goes on and on with people we’d abhor if we met them in everyday life. There isn’t one of them I’d invite to a neighborhood barbecue. They are lawless without exception and without care. It’s not just Donald Trump.

They deflect from real issues by bombarding the public with facts taken out of context and outright lies. When that doesn’t work, they resort to bullying. “I’m at the point where, fine, investigate Joe Biden. Investigate Hunter Biden. But also hold Jared Kushner and Donald Trump accountable,” former GOP strategist Kurt Bardella said on the same podcast.

Bardella also said that after this week’s ruling by New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, if the press doesn’t “mention fraud every time we mention Trump’s name,” then we’re not doing our job. Mind you, Trump was also labeled as a rapist in civil court, and we rarely mention that either. We routinely ignore his 91 felony charges in four jurisdictions when we talk about his so-called politics, and we seem to have forgotten he’s already been impeached twice. We pretend that his many lies are changes in policy. Anyone who expects the press to responsibly report the reality of Donald Trump at this point may, in fact, be as delusional as Trump.

And Trump is truly delusional. “Brick by brick, Donald Trump is a fantasy. He’s the biggest fraud there is,” political commentator Danielle Moodie told Mary Trump.

Every bit of reporting we do on him should stress that. It’s not like his delusion is a secret. “We in the family knew it,” Mary Trump said, explaining the fraud perpetrated by her uncle — before describing him as the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on America.

Agreed. But don’t count on the press to inform you about any of that. We’re too busy pretending, and entertaining you by treating Trump as if he were a charmer, or a savior.

It isn’t just the press that is filled with cowards. The Republicans in Congress are repugnant criminal cowards. The Democrats are eunuchs and moral cowards. While the Republicans pursue Hunter Biden — and if he’s guilty of something, so be it — the Democrats have not said one word about Jared Kushner, Eric Trump or Donald Trump Jr. There is more than enough evidence to investigate those three for trading White House access for billions in foreign investment. Yet so far, nothing.

The Democrats don’t want to look like they’re gutter-fighting quite as dirty as the GOP, and seem to lack any desire to pursue obvious corruption. Thus it appears to millions of American voters, including many potential voters still on the fence, that the Bidens have the most to hide.

I cannot say it enough. We have two political parties in this country: One has no heart. One has no head.

And the press? We have neither.

So busy are we trying to pretend we’re even-handed that we present propaganda as fact just to look fair. That’s not our job. The moronic desire to be “objective” blinds us from our true mission: providing vetted facts.

Exactly three years ago, I asked a simple question of Trump in the White House briefing room: Would he accept a peaceful transfer of power? Three years and 91 felony charges in four jurisdictions later, we know the answer. He continues to deny that he lost the 2020 election. He continues to obfuscate, confuse, lie and cheat. We continue to let him get away with it.

When he said to me in the White House briefing room that if we stopped counting ballots at the moment of his choosing “there would be no change” in power, that should have been enough. Hell, when he made fun of a reporter with a disability, that should have been enough. When he made fun of veterans or called dead Marines “suckers,” that should have been enough. It wasn’t. It’s never enough, and we never doggedly pursue the facts.

Lithwick said that Trump has never been caught. I respectfully disagree: He is always getting caught in his own lies. We just allow him to go free without forcing him to take responsibility for his actions.

Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane — Jim Morrison

The rest of the insane clown posse of children in the GOP got together Wednesday night for their latest attempt to stop Trump — who won’t attend a debate because he’s scared s**tless. How deeply disturbing it must be to be running against Trump as a member of the Republican party.

Not only do you have to run against a seditious criminal fool, but you have to do so in an environment where he has risen far above the other candidates who, while guilty of a great deal of stupidity, are not facing 91 felony charges. That alone should give them a leg up.

Nope. And they continued to support their near-certain standard-bearer on Wednesday night, even as they tried to run against him. Sure, there was slightly more negative treatment of him from some, like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But in the end, the also-rans lived up to their name.

If you want to defend Trump, go ahead. Defend a man who is a fraud, a rapist and an insurrectionist. He has been impeached twice and indicted in four different jurisdictions on 91 felony charges. Don’t forget he also kept classified information in his bathroom and refused to return it when asked. Defend all of that. Defend his criminality by using false equivalency and “whataboutism.” Defend it all with aplomb and own it.

I won’t. I was in Trump’s White House every day of that administration. If you weren’t, then you can stick your opinions someplace where ignorance and information are equal, like the nether regions of Trump’s mind.

Donald Trump is a menace. That’s not “politics.” That’s just a fact.

He is facing charges because he’s a dangerous would-be despot. There is no evidence any part of the electoral process was hijacked — except for the ballot boxes he tried to steal and the witnesses he desperately tried to intimidate.

Donald Trump is a traitor, a moron and a goon. If you believe he’s the second coming, mind your Matthew 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

The Biden White House and the Democrats have no heart for the fight they face, and no head for it either. In an attempt to avoid getting their hands dirty, they’re allowing the country to bathe in Trump’s filth without responding to it. We heard a rare exception from Biden this week in San Francisco when he said, “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy this democracy.”

White House spokesman Andrew Base backed that up by saying that “to abuse presidential power and violate the constitutional rights of reporters would be an outrageous attack on our democracy and the rule of law.”

We need more of that and a lot less of people in my profession giving false equivalency between Trump and his GOP competitors, much less the current president. If this is the end, then let it be Trump’s end — not our country’s.

At the end of the day, will some of my fellow journalists grow a pair? We make decisions every day based on money and audience share, not journalism. Trump went on “Meet the Press” because he’s good for ratings. We cover him as if he were equal to Biden for the same reason.

I encourage my professional comrades to consider this: There are millions of people who will tune into the facts if we consistently deliver them. Facts are the true coin of our realm. Ratings could be had if we did our job the way we’re supposed to. There is a market for solid reporting.

Here are some facts:  Donald Trump is despotic and deranged. His politics are nothing but grift. His life is about fleecing others. We should preface every mention of him by stating that he’s been indicted in four jurisdictions for 91 felonies. He’s been labeled a rapist and a business cheat in civil court and he was impeached twice.

Report that every single day. Don’t tell me he’s “pro-worker.” He’s only pro-Trump.

Late on Wednesday evening, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan told Trump that she won’t recuse herself in his federal election interference case. That news, along with the New York summary judgment that could force Trump to forfeit all his real estate holdings in and around his hometown, offer the latest signs that Donald Trump’s prominence on the world stage is ending. He’s had a good run to ruin, and has never had to clean up any of his many expensive messes.

If he’d looked at the ticket he swindled to get on this ride, he might have seen that the bill comes due when the ride ends. It’s a bitch being held accountable. Just ask your average crossroads demon.

For Trump, the accountability ride has begun, and it promises to get much darker for him than the thrill ride that preceded it.

On that ride, anything goes and he always got what he wanted, no matter what.

But guess what? This is the end of that ride.

The West is the best
Get here and we’ll do the rest
The blue bus is calling us — Jim Morrison

Union Workers Who Support Trump Are Delusional Morons


Union Workers Who Support Trump Are Delusional Morons

Collin Woodard – September 28, 2023

Donald Trump

Instead of attending last night’s debate over which unpopular loser would make a better vice presidential candidate, Donald Trump decided instead to speak at Drake Enterprises, a small parts supplier in Michigan’s Clinton Township that is notably not unionized. Somehow, that got spun into a few stories and posts about Trump speaking to union members, which is only true in the sense that some people at the event claimed to be union members. We have no real reason to doubt them, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a delusional moron if you think Trump is in any way pro-union.

Now, it’s not surprising that some UAW members are also Trump voters. His support among voters without college degrees is scarily high, and you can probably find a few MAGA chuds in pretty much any industry. It would also be understandable if they focused on how excited they were for Trump to hurt the people they hate, which is basically his whole schtick. Yeah, he’ll probably gut worker protections, make it harder for workers to unionize and make it easier for the rich to continue getting richer, but you can also guarantee that if he’s elected again, he’ll make life hell for queer people, women and racial minorities, which is what bigots care about most.

To anyone with basic reading comprehension skills, it’s clear that Trump is anti-worker and anti-union. And a lot of Republicans love that, especially business owners. But if you think for a second that Trump actually supports the UAW or unions in general, you’re a delusional moron. The only unions Trump is ever going to help out are police unions. But hey, at least he’ll probably hurt the people that UAW Trump supporters hate even more.

3 reasons the 2024 election will be very different from 2020

Yahoo! News

3 reasons the 2024 election will be very different from 2020

Andrew Romano, West Coast Correspondent – September 27, 2023

Two photos show Donald Trump and Joe Biden speaking.
Donald Trump and Joe Biden. (Artie Walker Jr./AP, Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

With every passing poll, it looks more and more likely that the 2024 presidential general election will star the same two protagonists as 2020: President Biden and former President Donald Trump.

In the Republican primary, Trump now leads his nearest rival by 46 percentage points, according to the latest Yahoo News/YouGov survey. On the Democratic side, Biden is ahead by 61.

History says that such leads tend to be insurmountable.

Yet even if America ends up with a Biden-Trump rematch, that doesn’t mean November 2024 will be a rerun of November 2020.

In part that’s because Trump and Biden have changed, with the former now facing four criminal trials and the latter fending off questions about his advanced age.

But it’s also because key electoral dynamics have been changing as well.

The map

The Electoral College has long favored Republicans, and that advantage has grown in recent elections. Both Trump and George W. Bush were able to win the presidency while losing the popular vote because they fared far better in the pivotal battleground states than they did nationwide.

But a recent New York Times analysis notes that the GOP’s Electoral College edge might be fading.

The main reason is that Trump has been improving his standing among nonwhite voters at the same time Biden has been holding his ground among white voters (especially college graduates).

Nonwhite voters are generally underrepresented in critical battleground states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and overrepresented in solidly blue states like California and New York. As a result, “Trump’s gains among nonwhite voters nationwide would tend to do more to improve his standing in the national vote than in the battleground states,” as the Times put it. Trump flipping a voter in Democratic Oregon is worth less than Biden flipping a voter in purple Pennsylvania.

Voters pass a sign reading: Voter entrance.
Voters outside a polling site in Warwick, R.I., on Nov. 7, 2022. (David Goldman/AP) (AP)

Recent special-election outcomes in swing states like Wisconsin and New Hampshire reflect this emerging shift. So far in this year’s special elections, Democrats have been performing better than expected by an average of 11 percentage points, according to FiveThirtyEight.

That doesn’t mean Biden is heading for a blowout in 2024. In fact, current polling suggests a closer race than last time, when Biden won by more than 4 points.

But it may mean a shifting landscape. While more diverse battlegrounds such as Arizona, Georgia and Nevada are likely to retain their nail-biter status, the whiter swing states across the Northeast and Upper Midwest could become harder for Trump to win — and a state like North Carolina (which Biden lost by just 1.35% in 2020, and where Republicans face brewing abortion-ban backlash) could play a bigger role than ever before.

The electorate

The nominees might not be different in 2024, but the electorate certainly will be. According to Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, 1 in 5 eligible voters will now be members of Gen Z, born in the late 1990s or after.

Compared to their older counterparts — two and a half million of whom die each year — that figure represents a net gain of 52 million potential Gen Z voters since 2016.

It also represents a potential advantage for Biden in a rematch with Trump. It’s not that Gen Z voters are loyal to the elderly president (or to any politician or party, for that matter). But 48% of them identify as people of color (compared to baby boomers, who are 72% white), and they’re more likely to be highly educated, to support LGBTQ rights and to list racism among their greatest concerns than the generations that preceded them.

Driven less, then, by party or personality than by “strong passion on one or more issues” — such as climate change or abortion access — young people in recent years have “vote[d] more frequently for Democrats and progressive policies than prior generations did when of similar age,” according to Lake.

Although still voting at much lower rates than older people, they’ve also turned out to vote in greater numbers than their forebears. As Lake writes, “average turnout by young voters (defined here as voters under 30) in the Trump and post-Trump years has been 25 percent higher than that of older generations at the same age before Trump — 8 percent higher in presidential years and a whopping 46 percent higher in midterms.”

The third-party spoilers

A third-party candidate ran in 2020: Libertarian Jo Jorgensen. But her candidacy barely registered, attracting just 1.2% of the vote. The Green Party’s Howie Hawkins did even worse (0.26%).

The possibility of a spoiler could be a lot higher this cycle, however.

For one thing, the left-wing Green Party is running a far more prominent candidate in Cornel West, the charismatic Princeton philosophy professor.

Cornel West points into the air as he speaks into a microphone.
Scholar and activist Cornel West. (Damian Dovarganes/AP) (AP)

Meanwhile, the centrist group known as No Labels is also barreling ahead with a controversial plan to field a third-party “unity” ticket in 2024 — one Republican, one Democrat. Two politicians with ties to the group, former Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican from Maryland, and Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, have already expressed interest in teaming up.

No Labels has said it has until March 2024 to decide whether to get into the race — and that it will announce its candidates no later than April 15, 2024, ahead of the group’s own convention in Dallas.

In the meantime, the group is amassing $70 million — from donors it has repeatedly refused to disclose — to purchase its own presidential ballot line in all 50 states. In 34 of those states, No Labels can hold a spot on the 2024 ballot for a potential third-party ticket by collecting and submitting a certain number of signatures. The group has already cleared that bar in Arizona, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon, and it says it’s “on track” to add another 24 states “by year’s end” (including battlegrounds such as Florida, North Carolina and Nevada). Elsewhere, it’s up to the candidates themselves — if any end up materializing — to secure their own ballot access.

Democrats fear that No Labels would siphon anti-Trump voters away from Biden — and help Trump win back the White House.

The Judge Who Wants to Drag Us Back to the Victorian Era

The New Republic

The Judge Who Wants to Drag Us Back to the Victorian Era

Melissa Gira Grant – September 27, 2023

From the federal bench in Amarillo, Texas, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk laid another plank last week in the expanding Christian nationalist platform for the United States, in a ruling favoring a public university president who banned a drag show organized by a campus LGBTQ student group. In this court order, the latest twist in a case filed in March by Spectrum WT, a student organization at West Texas A&M University, Kacsmaryk denied the group’s request to restrain the school’s president and his administration from banning drag while their case is still in process. With Kacsmaryk’s order, we are witnessing the strengthening of the Christian right’s preferred legal reality, in which drag performance is not protected speech or expression under the First Amendment—thanks in part to the (literally) Victorian turn Kacsmaryk has made.

The university president’s drag ban comes as recently passed drag bans in several states face their own legal scrutiny. On Tuesday, Texas’s June 2023 drag ban was ruled unconstitutional, following a similar drag ban that was also overturned earlier this year in Tennessee. Other drag bans in Florida and Montana were also temporarily blocked by courts because of the damage the bans could do in their respective states while these cases were being argued. Kacsmaryk refused to follow suit.

In an order that points to his likely eventual ruling in the Spectrum WT case, Kacsmaryk deploys the same arguments as the Christian-right players behind the drag bans: that drag is “sexualized” expression or conduct, thus a danger to children, and thus fair game for their restrictions. Judge Kacsmaryk does not shy from the source of such spurious reasoning in the written order. He cited not only Christopher Rufo, the self-admitted architect of the moral panic that incited drag bans, but also Gays Against Groomers, the pseudo-grassroots group that claims to be “a coalition of gay people” opposed to “gender identity” (and whose rhetoric neatly follows the rest of the Christian right’s anti-trans rhetoric).

But another curious mention caught my eye in Kacsmaryk’s recent ruling: the Comstock Act. In his ruling, Kacsmaryk asserted that this 1873 law banning the dissemination of information related to sexuality (among many other things) is part of what he termed a “Free Speech ecosystem” that he claims went ignored by the students in their case. Whatever he means by “free speech ecosystem” aside, in reaching back to the Comstock Act—a law that has been chipped away at by the courts since its passage, and remains all but discarded in practice—Kacsmaryk claims to have found justification for excluding drag from constitutional protections.

Yet again, it appears that the Christian right’s latest go-to legal strategy is to summon the ghost of Anthony Comstock, the Victorian era’s arch foe of “obscenity.” It is not even the first time Kacsmaryk has referenced Comstock in a ruling siding with the Christian right. In April, in a case to restrict access to mifepristone argued by the Christian-right law group Alliance Defending Freedom, Kacsmaryk claimed that the Comstock Act may apply when it comes to the legal distribution of the drug, given its prohibitions around mailing anything that may cause an abortion (the Justice Department, it should be noted, had preemptively disagreed with this take). In a sense, by deploying Comstock now against both abortion and drag, Kacsmaryk is picking up on something quite true about the Comstock Act: Abortion, contraception, queerness, transness, sex work, sex ed, all of it is what Comstock was originally seeking to outlaw—and that Victorian sensibility is being resurrected from the dead.

But why revive Comstock now? To understand what Kacsmaryk is doing with the Comstock Act in both the drag and abortion cases, one must look to the Christian-right law projects that have both laid the groundwork for Christian nationalist legal theories and paved Kacsmaryk’s way to the federal bench.

Nearly a decade ago, Kacsmaryk joined the Texas-based First Liberty Institute, or FLI, a group that claims to be the largest legal project in the U.S. “focused exclusively on religious liberty.” From 2014 to 2019, Kacsmaryk was employed as an FLI attorney, where he represented clients fighting “the government’s effort to punish business owners and ministry leaders for following their religious beliefs and moral convictions,” as he said in 2017 after an FLI meeting with the Trump administration. As a lawyer working for the Christian right, Kacsmaryk was part of an effort aimed at rolling back contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act—a provision that made birth control available to millions of people in the U.S. at no extra charge—on purported “religious liberty” grounds. In the movement for queer and trans rights too, according to Kacsmaryk, “religious liberty” is fundamentally at odds with “sexual liberty.” Since leaving FLI in 2019 to assume his place on the federal bench in Amarillo, coming down on the side of religious liberty is an effort Kacsmaryk can sustain with near-perfect continuity. Now with the power to decide from the front of the courtroom, he is able to tee up such cases for the Supreme Court.

After his nomination, FLI celebrated Kacsmaryk’s lifetime appointment as “a major win for religious-freedom practitioners, proving that a principled attorney may zealously advocate for the rights of … faith-based ministries without forfeiting the opportunity to serve on the bench,” and boasted that “Matthew is the first [emphasis its own] confirmed judge who’s gone directly from a religious liberty law firm to the federal judiciary.” Kacsmaryk’s nomination was not  solely thanks to FLI: He also held a leadership position in the Federalist Society, the group that vetted a list of judicial nominees for Trump, curated by its board chair (and “friend” of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginni) Leonard Leo. Having a Christian right–friendly judge like Kacsmaryk on a court is a boon to these legal players; having Kacsmaryk on a court in which he hears at least 95 percent of civil cases filed there is only more so.

First Liberty Institute, like the better-known Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, imagines that in the U.S., Christians are a persecuted minority. This assertion is something both groups would claim is not representative of their philosophy, pointing to their stated, broader defense of “religious freedom”—which in practice is a “freedom” reserved primarily for those Christians who use their faith as a rationale for violating the Constitution and civil rights protections. FLI’s founding president Kelly Shackelford was among the first on the Christian right to identify the post–Obergefell v. Hodges moment as the opening of a “a new war over religious freedom,” as he wrote in 2015. Within five years, he was declaring victory in that war. Shackelford said he was “watching history change on its axis,” marveling that groups like FLI were now suddenly prevailing—“because of what’s happening with the judges”—reflecting on, as Sarah Posner reported, the success their movement had putting millions of dollars into their crusade, using Trump’s power to stack the judiciary with their own. 

Shackelford and FLI have continued to go to bat for the man who won for their side with “their” judges. They’ve even helped to substantiate Trump’s conspiracy theories about a stolen election: Shackelford joined a December 30, 2020, letter from a number of Christian-right groups that advanced Trump’s “fake electors” scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and asked Senate Republicans to contest legitimate electoral votes, claiming that there was “substantial evidence” of “large numbers of illegal votes” (which there was not). Today, FLI is part of a group preparing the way for Trump’s return, the 2025 Presidential Transition Project, an effort led by the Heritage Foundation. It is a plan for overhauling the government as they see fit, starting from day one; it’s authoritarian in scope and features a “top to bottom overhaul” of the Justice Department, including demands to prosecute anyone providing medication abortion by mail, as well as classifying as “sex offenders” those who distribute what the plan deems “pornography”—which it claims is “manifested today in the omnipresent propagation of transgender ideology and sexualisation of children.” It’s a project already in progress.

Little of this powerful backstory is apparent in the federal courthouse in Amarillo when Judge Kacsmaryk is at work. Likewise, it’s not immediately obvious what the Christian right of today, from its wealthy backers making martinis from glacier ice with Supreme Court justices, to its prayerful warriors engaged in combat outside the Capitol on January 6, has to do with Anthony Comstock. That man died in 1915, leaving behind less a legacy and more a joke in the periodic usage of the term Comstockery to denote censorious impulses. Matthew Kacsmaryk, on the other hand, was only born in 1977, and he will most likely have many more decades on the bench in service to the Christian right.

How much does it cost to buy a federal judge? How much to buy one willing to raise Anthony Comstock from the dead? I sincerely suspect Kacsmaryk might throw that summoning in for free.

Judge Rules That Donald Trump Committed Fraud While Building Real Estate Empire


Judge Rules That Donald Trump Committed Fraud While Building Real Estate Empire

Virginia Chamlee – September 27, 2023

The ruling allows a civil trial against Trump and his adult sons to move forward next week, and orders that some of the former president’s companies be dissolved

James Devaney/GC Images Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan on March 9, 2021
James Devaney/GC Images Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan on March 9, 2021

A New York judge ruled on Tuesday that Donald Trump lied on financial statements about the value of the properties in his real estate portfolio and was therefore able to secure favorable loan terms and lower insurance premiums.

In a 35-page ruling, Judge Arthur Engoron said that Trump and his organization had overvalued several of it’s properties, including the members-only Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

In court filings, Trump has pegged the property’s worth at between $426.5 million and $612.1 million. But Engoron cited a Palm Beach County assessor who appraised Mar-a-Lago’s market value to be between $18 million and $27.6 million — at least 2,300 percent less than what the former president has claimed.

In the ruling, the judge adds that some of the former president’s defenses — such as arguing that square footage is “subjective” — are “absurd.” The ruling further sanctions Trump’s attorneys $7,500 each for continuing to make legal arguments that had already been rejected in court twice, and requires that some LLCs associated with Trump be dissolved.

Tuesday’s ruling allows a civil trial into the outstanding claims (to be decided by the judge, with no jury) to begin next week.

©Trump Hotels Eric, Donald Jr., Donald, and Ivanka Trump at the ground-breaking ceremony for Trump Hotel Washington, D.C.
©Trump Hotels Eric, Donald Jr., Donald, and Ivanka Trump at the ground-breaking ceremony for Trump Hotel Washington, D.C.

The ruling came as part of a fraud case brought against the former president, his adult sons Eric Trump and  Donald Trump Jr., and their company the Trump Organization, by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.

“Today, a judge ruled in our favor and found that Donald Trump and the Trump Organization engaged in years of financial fraud,” James said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting the rest of our case at trial.”

James has accused the Trumps and their company of fraudulently inflating the former president’s fortune by as much as $2.2 billion since 2011. The lawsuit aims to have Trump banned from doing business in New York and pay $250 million.

Engoron’s ruling alleges that the inflation of Mar-a-Lago’s worth is akin to fraud. From the ruling: “A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud.”

Related: Donald Trump Has Overstated His Fortune by as Much as $2.2B, Says New York Attorney General in Court Filing

Joe Raedle/Getty Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida
Joe Raedle/Getty Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida

An earlier court filing alleges that “correcting for these and other blatant and obvious deceptive practices engaged in by Defendants reduces Mr. Trump’s net worth by between 17-39% in each year, or between $812 million to $2.2 billion, depending on the year.”

The filing accused Trump of valuing several of his properties “at amounts that significantly exceeded professional appraisals of which his employees were aware and chose to ignore.” In one alleged instance, he valued his leased property on Wall Street at more than twice the amount of the appraised value.

Trump and his sons have both fired back at the recent ruling regarding the worth of Mar-a-Lago, with Eric claiming on Twitter: “Mar-a-Lago is speculated to be worth we’ll [sic] over a billion dollars.”

Trump himself also disputed the ruling, writing an angry missive on his social media site Truth Social in which he accused the judge of being “a Deranged, Trump Hating Judge, who RAILROADED this FAKE CASE through a NYS Court at a speed never seen before, refusing to let it go to the Commercial Division, where it belongs, denying me everything, No Trial, No Jury.”

Related: The Cases Against Trump: What to Know About the Various Investigations Surrounding the 45th U.S. President

Trump added that Mar-a-Lago is “WORTH POSSIBLY 100 TIMES” what Engoron cited in his ruling, adding: “My actual Net Worth is MUCH GREATER than the number shown on the Financial Statements, a BIG SURPRISE to him & the Racist A.G., Letitia James, who campaigned for office on a get Trump Platform.”

Since leaving office in January 2021, Trump’s post-White House prestige has been overshadowed by intensifying investigations on various fronts, including into his political conduct and business affairs.

So far, four of those investigations have led to indictments — the first one making him the only U.S. president to face criminal charges, and the next two further distinguishing him as the only president to face federal charges.