One Senate seat. Just one. Four House seats. Four. That’s the very slender reed upon which President Joe Biden’s success or failure is riding in the 2022 midterm elections. Without intervention from Congress very soon, that election will be held under Jim Crow 2.0 in 18 states with 30 new voter suppression laws so far. The states aren’t done yet, and the redistricting—or in many of these states, the gerrymandering—has not yet begun.
The tidal wave of voter suppression laws coupled with the gerrymandering that’s coming mean that when President Joe Biden says that even without breaking the filibuster and passing new voting rights legislation, “the American public, you can’t stop them from voting. […] They’re going to show up again. They’re going to do it again,” voting rights activists respond with, “We’re fucked.”
That’s a quote from Georgia organizer Nsé Ufot, who told Politico that they’re doing their best but “if there isn’t a way for us to repeat what happened in November 2020, we’re fucked,” she said. “We are doing what we do to make sure that not only our constituents, our base, the people, the communities that we organize with, get it. We’re trying to make sure that our elected officials get it as well,” Ufot added. But the latest news out of Georgia completely stacks the deck against whatever organizing they can do: Republicans are plotting the takeover of the elections board for Fulton County—the state’s largest and most important Democratic county. The state where Sen. Raphael Warnock—whose win in a special election flipped the Senate to Democratic control in January—is running for reelection in 2022.
Georgia’s new voting law allows Republican state officials to take over local election operations, basically firing local officials and appointing their own people to control elections. They passed this law and are threatening to carry it out based on the Big Lie that Democratic elections officials stole the election on behalf of Biden. “All legal and procedural options are on the table if they don’t do their job,” said state Rep. Chuck Martin, a Fulton county Republican of local elections officials. “That’s not a threat. That’s just good policy.” By “do their job,” he means not counting all the Democratic votes, presumably.
Which brings us to gerrymandering, the partisan carving up of congressional districts that would be stopped by the For the People Act. Georgia, along with North Carolina and Florida, could help Republicans gain as many as five House seats. David Shor, head of data science at OpenLabs R&D, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to advancing progressive causes, estimates “the negative impact of gerrymandering is ~20X larger than the theoretical upper bound of a massively well funded field program.”
Michale Li, redistricting and voting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, reiterates that with actual data. “In 2012 in PA, Democrats got 51% of the congressional vote but won just 5 of 18 seats. The map was so gerrymandered that even if Ds won 56% of the vote, they would have won only 6 of 18 seats.” House Democrats, in fact, got 4.7 million more votes than Republicans in 2020, and lost 12 seats.
Professor Sam Wang, director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, sees more of that: As many as eight seats could flip in 2022 in the House as a result of redistricting. “I would say that the national vote could be the same as this year two years from now, and redistricting by itself would easily be enough to alter who controls the chamber.” Even if the record turnout of 2020 was repeated—which is a thing that never happens in midterm elections—the House would still go to Republicans, he is predicting. That is, again, without a federal law curtailing gerrymandering.
Realization might be dawning on at least some filibuster-loving Democrats that this status quo is not sustainable for democracy. Virginia Democrat Mark Warner told Fox News this weekend: “If we have to do a small carve out on filibuster for voting rights—that is the only area where I’d allow that kind of reform.” This isn’t actually a new position for Warner. He toldThe Washington Post back in March: “When it comes to fundamental issues like protecting Americans from draconian efforts attacking their constitutional right to vote, it would be a mistake to take any option off the table.”
Warner is a key moderate working with the staunch anti-reformer Democrats Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin on the bipartisan infrastructure team. That’s what makes his statement—on Fox News on Sunday—noteworthy. It might not be his intention, but the result is that he’s isolating those two staunch filibuster fans just that much more within the caucus.
That’s good, but it might not be enough. Now would be a really good time for the presidential bully pulpit to be used, with the redistricting process now heating up in the states.
Wyden has now said he’s halting Mangus’ hearing until he gets needed responses. “While it is clear that Customs and Border Protection faces pressing issues, as the senior senator from Oregon, I am unable to advance this nominee until DHS and DOJ give Oregonians some straight answers about what they were up to in Portland last year, and who was responsible,” BuzzFeed News reports Wyden has told the Biden administration.
“Members of Congress, local officials, and the public have expressed concerns about CBP’s presence and questionable actions—especially given the agency’s track record of abusive policing tactics and use of excessive force,” groups said last year in suing for information about the deployment of officers to protests following the police murder of George Floyd last year. Among officers sent to terrorize demonstrators in Portland were members of a special tactical unit that then raided a humanitarian medical camp in the border desert.
“At the time, Wyden had sought answers from then-Attorney General William Barr and former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf about the deployment of federal officers, calling the response on the ground ‘intolerable,’” CNN reported. Wyden again relayed his concerns to their successors, Merrick Garland and Alejandro Mayorkas. The Washington Postreports that while he has received some information from officials, “the answers fell short.”
“As they have not provided [responses], Sen. Wyden informed the administration this week he would not be able to hold a hearing until his questions are sufficiently answered,” CNN reports Wyden’s office said. Mangus, Biden’s nominee to officially head CBP, is “a progressive police chief who promoted community policing efforts while overseeing departments in Tucson and Richmond, Calif,” The New York Timesreported in April.
While the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general released a report in April saying the department had authority to ploy officers from CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Secret Service, they were unprepared. “Specifically, not all officers completed required training; had the necessary equipment; and used consistent uniforms, devices, and operational tactics when responding to the events in Portland,” the report said.
Jenn Budd, a former senior border agent turned whistleblower, toldThe Guardian last year that the special tactical unit deployed to Portland is among “the most violent and racist in all law enforcement.” Humanitarian organization No More Deaths, which exists to prevent the horrific deaths of migrants in the border wilderness, said that members of CBP also stabbed gallons of water during the raid on its camp last year. Border agents already have a disgusting history of destroying water intended for migrants. They’ve even been caught on tape in the act.
Then-candidate Biden slammed the previous administration’s attacks on protesters, saying in a statement at the time that “Homeland Security agents—without a clearly defined mandate or authority — are ranging far from federal property, stripped of badges and insignia and identifying markings, to detain people. They are brutally attacking peaceful protesters, including a U.S. Navy veteran.”
After six months of Republican attempts to block it from happening, a congressional committee will on Tuesday begin to hear testimony from witnesses on the events of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Four police officers attacked by the crowd will be the select committee’s first witnesses.
All of this is still happening without the support of Republican leaders, who continue to insist that revisiting the “history” of an attempted overthrow of the U.S. government six months ago is merely Democratic gamesmanship to make Republicans look bad. These claims continue despite Donald Trump and Republican allies continuing, even now, to tell crowds that the election that removed him from power was fraudulent and that winner Joe Biden may yet be removed from office so that Trump himself can take over.
Those insurrection-backing false claims represent an ongoing danger to the safety of the American public and the stability of government itself, but Republican Party leaders and lawmakers are nearly unanimous in refusing to even acknowledge that they are happening. On the contrary, each proposed bipartisan probe of a violent insurrection has been blocked by those Republicans, one after the other, and the current select committee formed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is no different. After Pelosi’s rejection of two House Republicans—Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, who had repeatedly expressed an intent to disrupt the committee’s probe—McCarthy pulled all remaining Republican members from consideration in an attempt to portray this committee, too, as solely a Democratic endeavor.
At least two House Republicans have now been seated to the committee anyway, however. Rep. Liz Cheney was stripped of her Republican leadership position after she condemned the false election claims used by insurrectionists to justify their violence, but accepted Pelosi’s invitation to be seated on the select committee over Republican objections. Rep. Adam Kinzinger has similarly accepted Pelosi’s appointment.
Both Republicans are likely to face retaliation from their fellow House Republicans for daring to assist in the insurrection probe. The Republican “Freedom Caucus,” made up of far-right House Republicans who were among the most eager to promote fraudulent election claims and similar propaganda, are demanding McCarthy strip both Cheney and Kinzinger from all other committee assignments as punishment—a move that Pelosi herself could immediately reverse by reappointing them both regardless of Republican complaints.
What is evident, though, is that support for the insurrection is now so solidified among Republican lawmakers that even investigating the events of that day is considered to be an attack on the party.
That view may not be wrong. Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate eagerly pushed false claims about the election results from November onward. Multiple lawmakers spoke to the crowd assembled by Trump just before the attack on the Capitol began. A majority of House Republicans voted to reject the electoral vote totals in Biden-won states due to Trumpian claims of fraud that were knowably false. All of this was aimed at discrediting the incoming not-Republican administration; at justifying further sabotage of not-Republican priorities; at placating a delusional, authoritarian incompetent; and at discrediting the process of elections in general—thus justifying a new nationwide push for new voting laws aimed squarely at complicating the process for working class voters and other not-Republican communities while putting new rules in place allowing Republican-held legislatures to directly manipulate how elections are run and whether their results will be accepted.
Each of these Republican claims, made by Republican lawmakers to a Republican-backing crowd specifically assembled by Donald Trump and his allies as direct counter to the House and Senate verification of the election’s results, is directly responsible for goading that crowd into violence on Jan. 6. The insurrectionists were made to believe that a U.S. election had been fraudulently decided and that they themselves would be patriots if they took action against Congress to prevent the “fraud” from being formally accepted. The whole point of the “march” that day was to intimidate Congress into falsifying the election results in favor of the Republican loser; the whole point of marching in those precise moments was to arrive at the perilously unguarded Capitol exactly as Trump’s singled-out enemies were formalizing his removal from power.
There is absolutely no question that the insurrection was caused by false Republican propaganda promoted by the party as means to overturn a U.S. election. None. There is no plausible argument that the insurrection of Jan. 6 would still have happened if Republican lawmakers had not amplified Trump’s patently false election conspiracy claims, or if Trump’s Republican allies had not specifically arranged for the mob of violent militia members and other alleged “patriots” to assemble outside Congress on that specific day and time, or if Republican broadcasters had not jumped wholeheartedly to manufacture and disseminate an unending series of new conspiracy claims blaming Trump’s loss on everything from dead Venezuelan leaders to Italian satellites to voting companies to the brand of pens used on the ballots to antifa to alleged bamboo-infused ballots shipped in from China.
It was a Republican insurrection, supported by the party up until the moment lawmakers found their own lives in danger—and supported again as soon as lawmakers were convinced the danger had passed. Of course House Republicans intend to block any and all retellings of that day. Trump is making the same claims even now; the insurrection being probed by a new House select committee isn’t even over yet.
Ufot, who’s the CEO of the Stacey Abrams-founded New Georgia Project, said their organization is trying to lay the groundwork to overcome the Republican attack on voting rights in the state, but “if there isn’t a way for us to repeat what happened in November 2020, we’re fucked,” she said. “We are doing what we do to make sure that not only our constituents, our base, the people, the communities that we organize with, get it. We’re trying to make sure that our elected officials get it as well,” Ufot added.
In other words, yes, we’re organizing on the ground, but hey, elected officials, how about you do your part too?
Activists across the country are desperately trying to disabuse White House officials of the notion that inaction is a reasonable course of action to combat the raft of GOP-led voter suppression laws already passed in some 18 states.
In Georgia, one of the most onerous changes to state voting laws is the voter identification requirement for mail-in ballots that could prove prohibitive for nearly 300,000 voters who lack such identification. In addition, the GOP’s severe reduction in the availability of drop boxes could jam hundreds of thousands more voters in the Atlanta suburbs who used those boxes to cast ballots in 2020, along with voters in other parts of the state. Taken together, those two changes alone threaten to impact hundreds of thousands of voters in a state where then-candidate Joe Biden eked out a win by roughly 12,000 votes.
The Georgia State Democratic Party is rushing to reactivate its 2018 midterm network in order to train county chairs, Democratic activists, and voters in all 159 state counties on the new voter ID laws, according to Politico. The party has also hired three new outreach directors for Black, Latino, and Asian American communities.
Democratic activists in the Peach State will get somewhat of a trial run for their new organizing efforts later this fall during the Atlanta mayoral election. While the political contours of Atlanta-based Fulton County are somewhat distinct from other areas of the state, it’s also the most populous county and critical to Democratic fortunes.
But Democratic organizers in states across the nation face similar hurdles, and organizers continue to be baffled by the lax response from Democrats in Washington.
“I’m super worried,” said Max Wood, founder and CEO of progressive data analytics firm Deck. “I do think there are times when this kind of stuff can galvanize enthusiasm and turnout,” Wood added, “but I don’t know that that will be enough, especially with how extreme some of these laws are.”
And for all the pitfalls the Biden administration has avoided repeating from the Obama administration, failing to properly elevate 2018 and spearhead a coordinated midterm campaign could potentially prove catastrophic for Democratic fortunes nationwide, not to mention President Biden’s agenda.
“I don’t think the Democratic Party as a whole is prioritizing this issue and its potential damage in the way that they should,” said Doug Herman, a lead mail strategist for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. “We just went through an insurrection that was stoked by voter fraud lies, and the reaction to that from the Republican Party is to restrict the voting process so severely that only their voters can participate. And I don’t understand the lack of fierce resistance to that from Americans and Democrats.”
The Biden administration announced on Friday that it’s cancelling two border wall contracts issued during the previous administration. While no construction from these two projects had yet begun, the agreements were for 31 miles of border barrier in South Texas’ Laredo and Webb counties totaling over $500 million in taxpayer funds, Border Report said.
“THE BORDER WALL IN LAREDO IS DEAD,” the #NoBorderWall Coalition declared in a tweet following the announcement. “An epic David vs. Goliath Battle. The people of Laredo won!”
While the Biden administration had in June announced that it would be returning more than $2 billion that the previous administration had swindled from military funds for its stupid and racist wall, the two soon-to-be-cancelled contracts “were funded with DHS fiscal year 2020 appropriations,” CNN reported.
“The contracts worth $564M—more than $18M per mile—would have destroyed the city landmarks of Las Palmas Nature Trail and Riverbend, parts of Laredo College, the downtown Tres Laredos Park, small businesses, private homes, family ranches, and many other iconic river sites,” #NoBorderWall Coalition continued. Environmental activists had previously called the damage inflicted by this stupid project, “incalculable.”
The administration had said in its announcement last month that it would be using appropriated funds “to address urgent life, safety, and environmental issues” stemming from wall construction. In its Friday statement, DHS said the administration “intends to engage in environmental planning concerning these barrier projects, including taking certain actions consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other statues.”
Ecstatic community leaders told Border Report that they hoped that two other contracts negotiated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the region also end up on the chopping block. Advocates said those contracts total $484 million and would “destroy an additional 40 river miles that extend from the Colombia International Bridge to El Pico Rd, as well as the northern reach of Zapata County and historic San Ygnacio.”
“It’s a tremendous amount of money that they wanted to waste for an ineffective, destructive wall that would threaten our life, our property, our culture. We weren’t going to accept it,” Rio Grande International Study Center’s Melissa Cigarroa told Border Report. “But our community, our organization, our people would not accept it. It was so counter to our way of life and to what we live every day. There is no disaster. There is no danger.”
Making that point were the Rio Grande Valley counties that refused to be a part of the Republican governor’s very serious border emergency declaration.
In a tweet, #NoBorderWall Coalition said Friday’s announcement “directly contradicts the ‘disaster’ narrative that Gov. Greg Abbott is using against Laredo and other border communities to launch his reelection campaign, and which Webb County Judge Tijerina joined for possible state taxpayer dollars to fill county coffers.” Educator Dr. Sylvia Dominguez said the “’disaster’ narrative is a fantasy, and clearly refuted by the facts,” the group continued.
Abbott has since announced his own plan to complete some of the previous president’s wall. He’s so into copying that bill he’s also forcing some of that bill onto taxpayers. He also promised “transparency and accountability” in crowdfunding for further funds, but “Abbott’s office is not disclosing the locations of donors, nor is it requiring that they identify themselves with their real names,” The Texas Tribunereported. “The shortcomings in the donation disclosures have raised ethical concerns about the private fundraising effort for the governor’s major state initiative.”
“DHS continues to review all other paused border barrier projects and is in the process of determining which projects may be necessary to address life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements and where to conduct environmental planning,” Friday’s announcement from the administration continued.
“We continue to call on @POTUS to terminate remaining construction contracts across the border region, and we demand that @DHSgov rescind its waivers issued under the REAL ID Act. We also urge officials to prioritize remediation of border ecosystems damaged by wall construction,” #NoBorderWall Coalition continued. “As always, shout out to all the organizers and volunteers who tirelessly contributed to our growing movement! Stay tuned for more …”
Another infrastructure week begins just like all the other ones have, with Republicans saying they’re “optimistic” but Democrats laying out issues yet to be resolved in this bipartisan “hard” infrastructure proposal: “highways/bridges, water funding, broadband, Davis-Bacon [prevailing wages for projects using federal funds], using unspent Covid [money] as [a] payfor, infrastructure bank and transit.”
Which is, well, most of it really. That leaves negotiators in essentially the same place they were Friday and, shockingly, not where Republican Sen. Susan Collins insisted they would be Monday: ready to vote.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tried to push Republicans with a vote last Wednesday to kick off a legislative process on this bipartisan infrastructure bill, and Republicans unanimously filibustered it because they just weren’t ready after something like six weeks of “working” on it. On Friday, Republicans were trying to change the standard 80/20 funding breakdown between highway/transit programs. And were calling Democrats unreasonable for assuming that this standard funding formula was a given. One could say Republicans are not necessarily acting in good faith on that. Nonetheless, the White House and Democrats offered what they’re calling a global deal—on every outstanding issue—Sunday.
The time crunch hasn’t changed. If this isn’t done this week, at least part of the August recess—now set to begin Aug. 9—will be rescinded, but this process has to play out to get the Democrats who insist on this bipartisan fiasco to be reassured that they’ve done everything possible with Republicans so they’ll support the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that contains the rest of President Joe Biden’s economic priorities, in which the human infrastructure parts include education, paid leave, child tax credits, and expansion of health care—all potentially transformational programs.
The bipartisan bill, for lack of a better description of what still seems to be cocktail napkin scribblings, is a number—$579 billion in “new” spending—that was agreed to weeks ago, and nearly a trillion in total spending. Where it’s coming from and where it will be spent beyond the broad categories of infrastructure—water systems, highways, maybe transit, broadband—seems to continue to be in discussion. Details are scarce other than Republicans saying it’s too much public transportation.
Their argument, according to Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, is that transit got plenty of COVID-19 relief money. “Nobody’s talking about cutting transit,” Toomey said Sunday. “The question is, how many tens of billions of dollars on top of the huge increase that they have already gotten is sufficient? And that’s where there is a little disagreement.”
That funding was to keep transit programs afloat during the pandemic, allowing them to essentially survive. New funding is necessary for public transit to meet future requirements. That’s where House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio—an Oregon Democrat—and 30 of his committee members come in. They’ve warned the Senate in a letter that they won’t accept less than the $715 billion in the infrastructure bill, which they have already passed.
Public transportation groups agree. “The historical share for public transit from the Highway Trust Fund is 20%,” Paul Skoutelas, president of the American Public Transportation Association, said Sunday. “It is the absolute minimum acceptable level to help sustain our nation’s public transportation systems. It is imperative that we make robust, forward looking investments to modernize and expand public transit that will assist in our economic recovery from the COVID pandemic and get Americans back to work.”
As of Monday morning, Republicans are rejecting that global offer from Democrats, saying it “goes against” what had already been agreed to, but since anything they’ve already agreed to hasn’t been released to the public (if it has even been written down anywhere), no one outside the negotiations has any way of verifying that. A Republican source told Punchbowl News: “The ‘global offer’ we received from the White House and Chuck Schumer was discouraging since it attempts to reopen numerous issues the bipartisan group had already agreed to.”
In other words, when Collins said last Wednesday that they “are making tremendous progress, and I hope that the majority leader will reconsider and just delay the vote until Monday,” she was lying. Republicans insisted they had to have a bill before they could vote, even though last week’s vote was purely procedural, an agreement that eventually there would be a bill to consider on the floor. Collins insisted that they could have that much by Monday—today. They don’t. Surprise, surprise.
An Arizona legislator running for secretary of state found herself on the wrong side of quickly-turning GOP sentiment on Saturday after she voiced opposition to the frivolous and seemingly unending audit of 2020 election results in the state’s Maricopa County. A crowd booed State Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita off of stage before she could even complete a thought at a “Protect Our Elections” rally the anti-Democrat PAC Turning Point Action held in support of former President Donald Trump’s election fraud conspiracy theories in Phoenix.
“Why don’t you listen to what I have to say? We the people, look. It’s we the people who are empowered by our founding…” Ugenti-Rita told the crowd in video shared by Brahm Resnik, a reporter for KPNX. “Listen. Fine, OK… I am running to be your next Secretary of State. I’m going to win the primary. Thank you very much.” She conceded after several failed attempts to start her speech and walked off of the stage after about 90 seconds, , Newsweek reported.
FYI Trump base crowd was primed to boo @MichelleUgenti. Wasn’t anything she said. Boos rained all over room from start till she bailed out.
Resnik said in a Twitter thread that the crowd’s reaction was in response to the legislator opposing a fellow Republican’s wish list for election changes.”FYI Trump base crowd was primed to boo @MichelleUgenti . Wasn’t anything she said,” Resnik tweeted. “Boos rained all over room from start till she bailed out.”
“I’ve been on the frontlines of the battle for election integrity for the last 10 years. I wrote the law banning ballot harvesting, cleaned-up our mail-in voter rolls, strengthened ID requirements just to name a few of my accomplishments, (1of5)
something every candidate on that stage praised. I’ll put my record of fighting for election integrity up against anyone. What I won’t do is vote for “show” legislation that does nothing to strengthen election integrity and introduced for self serving reasons. (2of5)
There’s too much at stake. Our election system is under constant assault by the left, and I won’t support bills that fail to strengthen our election system. The same holds true for the audit. I supported the audit, but I do not support the Trump audit any longer. (3of5)
I wanted to review our election processes and see what, if anything, could be improved. Sadly, it’s now become clear that the audit has been botched. The total lack of competence by @FannKfann over the last 5 months has deprived the voters of Arizona a comprehensive…(4of5)
accounting of the 2020 election. That’s inexcusable, but it shows what can happen when Republicans do not take election integrity deadly serious. (5of5)”
Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, who Ugenti-Rita referenced on Twitter by the handle @FannKfann, was issued a litigation hold and preservation notice in May hinting at possible legal action regarding the many lies told by those tasked with auditing 2020 election results, Newsweek reported. “It is clear the Arizona Senate and its contractors do not intend to retract false allegations defaming the County and its employees,” Republican Maricopa County Chairman Jack Seller said in a statement Newsweek obtained. “For that reason, Maricopa County is formally requesting Senate President Fann, Senator (Warren) Petersen, Senate liaison Ken Bennett and contractors involved in the ‘audit’ preserve documents and evidence as they may be subject to future legal claims.”
Although Maricopa County officials finalized audit results last November showing President Joe Biden’s victory in the county, Republican legislators have pursued other audits clutching tightly to Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud. The company the majority-Republican Arizona Senate hired to audit election results already audited is none other than Cyber Ninjas, a tech company based in Florida with no experience conducting audits and with ties to conspiracy theory promoted by the business’ CEO Doug Logan, USA Today reported.
“We have 74,243 mail-in ballots where there is no clear record of them being sent,” Logan reportedly said during a state Senate briefing earlier this month. Jason Berry, a communications manager for Maricopa County, told USA Today: “Without knowing exactly what data the Senate contractors are using and how they’re interpreting it, we can’t know for sure where they came up with 74,000.”
The county addressed the claim regarding mail-in ballots and several others in a Twitter thread on July 15:
CLAIM: Maricopa County received 74,000 more mail-in ballots than we sent. FACTS: In Maricopa County, we allow people to vote early in two ways: 1) by mail and 2) in-person at Vote Centers. These are all considered early votes.
This accuracy is verified through logic and accuracy tests, hand counts performed by the political parties, and post-election audits performed by EAC certified voting testing laboratories. #SharpieGate has been debunked already.https://t.co/ltmk5lr4N2
Ryan Randazzo, a reporter forThe Arizona Republic, also tweeted a synopsis of the prolonged controversy on Friday. “The liaison for the Arizona election audit gave some data to outside experts who want to check the Cyber Ninjas’ work, and then he was locked out of the audit,” Randazzo said in the tweet. “Also it looks like the ninjas miscounted and the roof on the budget building is leaking.”
With the power to stop much of this uselessness with a simple concession speech, Trump instead continued to egg on the controversy on Saturday.
“You know, if somebody robs Tiffany, a beautiful jeweler, 57th and Fifth, good location, excellent location, and they steal the diamonds, and then they get caught, they have to turn the diamonds back,” Trump said during the rally in Arizona. “It’s very simple, amazing the way it works. And I only wish that my friend Mike Pence had that additional courage to send (…) the results back to the legislatures because it all happened so quickly.
“You know they schemed on this plan for four years. This all happened so quickly.”
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring. He doesn’t need to shine Donald Trump’s boots, or engage in fantastical stories of supposed election fraud. He doesn’t need to run interference for a movement that goaded supporters into a frenzy by claiming that even elections themselves were now illegitimate, causing violent believers to launch a direct attack on government to nullify a Trump loss. Anything he is or isn’t doing right now he is doing because he wants to.
Right now, Sen. Pat Toomey wants America to stop probing the causes of a violent insurrection. Investigating how it happened is just a ploy by Democrats to hurt Republicans, he says. It is a “constant reminder about a terrible episode in our history.”
GOP Sen. Pat Toomey says investigating Jan. 6 “is politically to the advantage of Democrats, to try to keep this issue in the forefront” and argues “it is a constant reminder about a terrible episode in our history … rather than looking at the policies of the current President” pic.twitter.com/jlT8qk6V4t
Aside from that whole sequence being the product of someone who deep down must just be a terrible person, I mean honestly how do you even look at yourself in the bathroom mirror in the morning after a yesterday of making arguments like that, there is a rather fundamental flaw in Toomey’s logic. The insurrection attempt isn’t “history” yet, because it ain’t over. A single day before Pat Toomey went on television to claim that investigations of the attack’s origins were merely political gamesmanship, the insurrection’s top orchestrator and Republicanism’s buffoonish Dear Leader figure was yet again claiming that the election had been rigged, that the people who were looking to nullify it were patriots, and that all of it may yet return him to presidential power, toppling the current sitting president, the Constitution, and our democracy in one fell swoop.
Have you met Donald Trump, Sen. Pat Toomey? I believe you have. Donald Trump doesn’t think that the insurrection is over. Donald Trump is still goading on crowds with the precise lies that launched a domestic terrorist assault on the Capitol to begin with.
Do you want to revise your remarks, Pat Toomey?
“He doesn’t do a damn thing” — Trump dogs Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in his home state of Arizona and gets the crowd booing him. He then pivots to bashing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who also gets booed. pic.twitter.com/3HMuZHrx5V
Somebody explain to me how Trump is not the ongoing head of the insurrectionist conspiracy to overthrow American democracy. All those people indicted? He’s publicly telling them to do it again day after day. And they’re defense is “he told us to!” https://t.co/8DnED0Sf18
In a speech to the faithful less than 24 hours before Toomey’s appearance, Trump again led a crowd into booing his own vice president, who he continues to attack for not conspiring to nullify election results. He continues to attack the other figures hunted by the mob that day. He continues to claim the election was stolen from him, using the same false claims he, his allies, and a majority of Republican lawmakers themselves used to justify nullifying election results.
And, more importantly still, he continues to insist to his rabid and delusional base that the election may yet be nullified, returning him to power.
The attempt to topple democracy by throwing out the results of an election that did not go the Republican Party’s way is not just “history.” It is ongoing. Sen. Pat Toomey is himself assisting in it by demanding that the causes of the pro-Trump violence by a pro-Trump mob bent on nullifying an election be left unexamined—that they be ignored, so that his party can better focus on demonizing the Democratic president Trump continues to rail against.
Pat Toomey does not have to do this. He does not have to be a hack. He does not have to ally himself with a fascist movement that continues to push for a return to power by any means necessary. He does not have to do any of this.
And he is doing it anyway. “History” will lump that in with all the rest, presuming Toomey’s party does not get its way and democracy does indeed survive this explicitly fascist moment.
Pat Toomey was one of just seven Republican senators who agreed, back in February, that Donald Trump should be impeached for inciting the insurrection that Toomey now says needs no further review. He is not stupid. He is not reflexively a coward. But he still seems more intent on deflecting blame for the violence away from his party’s top officials and fellow lawmakers than he does on ensuring that the insurrection truly fails. At the moment, the insurrection has not failed. The man most responsible for it is even now giving new speeches to new crowds in which he claims he may yet be returned to office—if only his allies have the extraconstitutional courage to bring that change about.
This is the same Pat Toomey who pushed hard in 2012 and 2013 for the sham Benghazi investigation: “I have long supported a congressional investigation and want to get answers to important questions,” he said back then. https://t.co/1juCRglyBA
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Matt Booker, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
This longtime swing state lurched hard to Donald Trump in 2016 after backing Barack Obama twice, but Democrats hoped that a shift back to the left would help them claim their first state House majority since 2010, which would have required a pickup of four seats. Instead, though, Trump beat Joe Biden in Iowa by a wide 53-45 margin, and Republicans secured a 59-41 majority in the lower chamber after netting six seats.
As bad as 2020 went for Team Blue, though, crossover voting actually worked in their favor in Iowa in a year when it mostly benefited downballot Republicans nationally. Five of the 63 Trump seats in the 100-member House, where members are up every two years, are held by Democrats, while just one of the 37 Biden districts is represented by a Republican.
It’s almost impossible to believe now, but Obama carried Prichard’s constituency 56-43 in 2012 as he was winning 52-46 statewide. The area has utterly transformed politically since then, though: Trump prevailed 57-38 in 2016, while Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds won 55-42 in 2018 amidst a close statewide race against Democrat Fred Hubbell. But Prichard’s seat is far from an anomaly, as a full 28 of the 61 Obama districts backed Trump last year. Unsurprisingly, the other four Democrats in Trump seats also represent areas that had gone for Obama in the past.
Andrews’ victory came even though his district’s political trajectory has been the direct opposite of Prichard’s. Mitt Romney prevailed 56-43 here in 2012, but Trump won it by a much smaller 49-44; the seat then favored Reynolds only 50-48 before Biden took it last year. All of this makes Andrews’ district one of just four Romney-Biden House seats in a state that has overwhelmingly moved in the other direction.
We’ll turn to the Senate, where half the members are up in presidential years while the rest are on the ballot in midterm cycles. Democrats managed to hold on to the upper chamber during the 2010 and 2014 GOP waves, but they finally lost power during the 2016 Trump sweep. Republicans ended the 2020 cycle with the same hefty 32-18 majority they came in with, and it would almost certainly take two solid election cycles in a row for Democrats to have a chance at retaking control anytime soon.
Trump won 32 seats to Biden’s 18, with two senators in each party representing crossover turf. The only member of this quartet who was up in 2020 was Republican state Sen. Brad Zaun, whose SD-20 includes all of Andrews’ constituency. (In Iowa, two House districts are nested within each Senate district.) Zaun had failed to unseat the late Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell in a competitive race in 2010, but he demonstrated considerably more electoral success last year when he won a fifth term 51-49 as Biden was prevailing 53-45.
The other Senate Republican in a Biden district is Roby Smith, who won 53-47 in 2018 in a Davenport-area seat that backed Hubbell 50-49 in that year’s race for governor; two years later, SD-47 went for Biden 52-46.
Their two Democratic counterparts are Amanda Ragan and Jackie Smith, who were also last on the ballot in 2018. Ragan held on 51-49 in SD-27, another northeastern Iowa constituency that went for Reynolds 55-43 and later supported Trump by a slightly larger 56-42 spread. Smith, meanwhile, unseated a GOP senator in another 51-49 race in a seat based around Sioux City in northwest Iowa; SD-07 supported Reynolds by a tiny 48.9-48.8 margin, while Trump won it 50-49 in 2020.
The GOP’s 2020 wins will likely have long-term consequences even if Iowa becomes competitive again in the near future. Under state law, a nonpartisan agency proposes maps to the state legislature, and lawmakers have always adopted them. In previous decades, control over Iowa’s state government has been divided between the parties, but for the first time, Republicans are completely in charge. As a result, they have the option to simply reject the agency’s proposals or repeal it altogether, which would allow them to implement their own gerrymanders.
●GA-Sen: The Associated Press reported Friday that Cindy Grossman, the ex-wife of former NFL football star Herschel Walker, secured a restraining order against him in 2005 for allegedly threatening to kill her and her boyfriend. Donald Trump has spent months trying to recruit Walker to challenge Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, though Walker has yet to reveal his plans.
Grossman had filed for divorce in 2001 for what she called “physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior” from Walker. She went on to seek a protection order from a judge four years later in Texas, where they both lived, which included an affidavit from her sister, Maria Tsettos, detailing Walker’s alleged threats. Tsettos wrote that the former football player had called her and “stated unequivocally that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her boyfriend in the head.” She added that Walker informed her a short time later that he’d purchased a firearm and planned to carry out his threat.
Grosman told the court that Walker had confronted her later that day, saying he “slowly drove by in his vehicle, pointed his finger at (her) and traced (her) with his finger as he drove.” Records obtained by the AP say that the police spoke with Walker, who denied threatening his former wife. The AP story says that Tsettos’ account “was concerning enough to police that they took for ‘safe keeping’ a gun Walker had on the floor of his car.” A judge went on to both issue the protective order Grossman sought and temporarily forbade Walker from possessing any guns.
Walker previously wrote about his struggle with mental illness in a 2008 book, which included a 2001 story describing how he’d furiously hunted for a man who was late delivering a car. “The logical side of me knew that what I was thinking of doing to this man—murdering him for messing up my schedule—wasn’t a viable alternative,” wrote Walker, “But another side of me was so angry that all I could think was how satisfying it would feel to step out of the car, pull out the gun, slip off the safety, and squeeze the trigger.” Walker said that he ended his search after seeing a bumper sticker reading, “SMILE. JESUS LOVES YOU” and soon found professional help.
After the publication of Walker’s book, Grossman told ABC News that on one occasion, Walker put a gun to her head and said, “I’m going to blow your f-ing brains out.”
●MD-Gov: Former RNC chair Michael Steele and 2020 Biden supporter announced Thursday that he was forming an exploratory committee for a possible campaign for the GOP nod, but his team isn’t entirely closing the door on the idea that Steele could run as an independent instead. When the Washington Post asked strategist Jim Dornan about this speculation, he replied, “[T]hat is not our intention at this time.” Dornan, though, still insisted that Steele, who previously served as lieutenant governor and as Team Red’s 2006 Senate nominee, is still a “strong conservative” and a Republican.
●NE-Gov: Former Republican Gov. Dave Heineman, who confirmed last month that he’s looking at a comeback bid, now says he’ll “take most of the rest of the summer and the fall” to decide whether he wants to seek his old job.
●OH-11: A new poll from the group Democratic Majority for Israel, which has been spending heavily on behalf of Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, now finds her trailing former state Sen. Nina Turner by a 41-36 margin. A memo from pollster Mark Mellman (who also chairs DMFI) also includes previously unreleased trendlines that show Brown making up much of a considerable gap that stood at 50-26 last month.
With the Aug. 3 special election primary just over a week away, though, there’s not much time left for Brown to catch up the rest of the way—if indeed DMFI’s polling is accurate in the first place. (Brown’s internal polls, for what it’s worth, have shown a similar trajectory, while Turner hasn’t released any survey data since May.) Mellman also acknowledges that “putting Shontel Brown over the top will require substantial resources and a sustained communications effort through Election Day,” another area where she’s lagged.
Turner also outspent Brown, $2.8 million to $1.6 million, and had a $645,000 to $355,000 advantage in cash-on-hand for the stretch run. DMFI has partly made up that gap, spending $941,000 so far on ads both boosting Brown and attacking Turner, while a trio of groups (including the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Working Families Party) has put in $516,000 in support of Turner.
●OH-15: Campaign fundraising reports are in for the Aug. 3 GOP primary covering the period from April 1 to July 14, and we have the totals for each notable candidate below:
Coal company lobbyist Mike Carey: $460,000 raised, $305,000 spent, $155,000 cash-on-hand
State Sen. Bob Peterson: $450,000 raised, additional $105,000 self-funded, $160,000 spent, $395,000 cash-on-hand
State Rep. Jeff LaRe: $215,000 raised, additional $15,000 self-funded, $95,000 spent, $135,000 cash-on-hand
Hilliard City Council member Omar Tarazi: $195,000 raised, additional $15,000 self-funded, $200,000 spent, $10,000 cash-on-hand
Former Center for Christian Virtue staffer Ruth Edmonds: $160,000 raised, additional $3,000 self-funded, $115,000 spent, $50,000 cash-on-hand
Former state Rep. Ron Hood: $155,000 raised, $55,000 spent, $100,000 cash-on-hand
State Sen. Stephanie Kunze: $80,000 raised, $15,000 spent, $70,000 cash-on-hand
Donald Trump is backing Carey, the candidate who raised the most money from donors, but some other contenders have also earned some high-profile support. Most notably, Steve Stivers, whose resignation from the House set off this special election, has backed LaRe, and the former congressman’s campaign committee has also aired ads on his behalf.
Unsurprisingly, things are far quieter on the Democratic side in this conservative seat. State Rep. Allison Russo raised $275,000 and had $195,000 on-hand in mid-July, while Army veteran Greg Betts hauled in less than $10,000.
●TX-06: The anti-tax Club For Growth’s newest spot for Tuesday’s all-GOP special argues that state Rep. Jake Ellzey has missed numerous votes in the legislature during his seven months in office because he’s “so busy trying to get to Congress.” The narrator continues, “When Ellzey did show up, he broke his word and voted for a tax hike.”
Welch, a former member of the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners, takes 23%, while Blackmon edges Democrat Darden Rice, a fellow member of the City Council, 22-17. Another Democrat, former state Rep. Wengay Newton, lags well behind with 8%. St. Pete Polls gave Welch a similar 20% of the vote one month ago, but the firm found a very different battle for second place back then: The June survey showed Newton in second with 13%, with Blackmon and Rice at 12% each.
Meanwhile, Welch earned a cross-party endorsement on Friday from Ken Foster, the city’s most recent GOP mayor. Welch also enjoys the support of another notable Republican, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, as well as two prominent local Democrats: termed-out incumbent Rick Kriseman, who unseated Foster in 2013, and Rep. Charlie Crist.
CHEERS to the Republican’s worst nightmare: health insurance for poor people. So typical: voters approve a measure at the ballot box—eminently-sensible Medicaid expansion, in this case—and the Republicans in charge ignore them. But wait! What’s this? The judicial branch rides to the rescue again!
[T]he Missouri Supreme Court ruled that an additional 275,000 low-income individuals in the state are again eligible for publicly-funded health care.
Missouri voters successfully pushed through a state constitutional amendment on the ballot last August to adopt Medicaid expansion, but the Republican-dominated legislature refused to implement it, prompting Gov. Mike Parson, also a Republican, to pull the plug on plans to bolster the health care program.
Amy Blouin, the president of the Missouri Budget Project, which supports expansion, said in a statement she hoped expansion would be implemented quickly. … “State after state has shown that in addition to providing insurance to those eligible, expansion is a fiscal and economic boon to state economies and budgets,” Blouin said.
We note that states were first allowed to expand their Medicaid rolls (which 38 have opted to do) in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act. Thus explaining the Show Me State’s new state slogan: Missouri—We’re Almost Only A Decade Behind.
JEERS to the idiots who walk among us…right up until the moment they don’t. As the super-spreadable Delta variant of COVID-19 liquifies the lungs if the unvaccinated, we’re seeing more and more stories of anti-vaxxers and hoaxers who are seeing two versions of the light: either Grandma calling them into it, or the realization that maybe science isn’t a deep state plot after all. Yup, even here in “70% Vaccination Club” member Maine, where this self-absorbed Republican leader is now dealing with being virus-absorbed:
Rep. Chris A. Johansen, R-Monticello, on Friday told the Press Herald only that he wasn’t feeling well and didn’t stay on the phone long enough to be asked whether he has the virus. However, a reporter for Mainer News, an alternative weekly, contacted Johansen and recorded him saying that he has COVID-19 and is “really, really sick.”
Johansen’s wife, Cindy Johansen, who is an officer for the Aroostook County Republican committee, posted on Facebook that she has COVID-19 as well. […]
Chris Johansen was one of seven lawmakers who appeared maskless in a video taken in a State House office in January in violation of a legislative rule that masks be worn inside the building to control the spread of COVID-19.
He was also one of seven lawmakers who had a confrontation with Capitol police in May when they entered the State House without wearing masks.
Once again we see that on the chess board of the universe, science takes the pawn. And any other damn thing it wants.
Delegate 1: Are you sure that we should not insist upon inclusion of some kind of balanced budget amendment in here? For the sake of our union and in the spirit of shared sacrifice, so that nothing is left on or off the table and we may all partake in the bounty of such a grand bargain?
Delegate 2: What, are you nuts? That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. No one will ever be so stupid as to try and put that insanity into the Constitution! Whoever makes the attempt is dumb. Dumb, I tell you. Dumb dumb dumb dumb, dumbeth and dumber!
Delegate 1: So, uh, would this be a bad time, then, to bring up amendments banning flag-burning and gay marriage?
Delegate 2: Lay off the grog, kid. You’re startin’ to weird me out.
After ratification they celebrated by overturning a bunch of carriages in Jersey.
JEERS to testosterone gone wild. As I was watching Olympic coverage this weekend and listening to the male commentators blather on over the weekend, I got to thinking. At the original Olympic games in 776 BC women were banned, and those who snuck in to watch were thrown off a cliff by men. In 1936, evil man Adolf Hitler refused to shake Jesse Owens’ hand. In 1972 the terrorists who killed 8 athletes were men and the Atlanta bomber was also a man. Jimmy Carter, a man, wouldn’t let us compete in the 1980 summer games in Moscow. In 2004, security personnel outnumbered athletes 7-to-1 in Athens because of threats from men with bombs. And over the last twenty years competitors have been subjected to man-made pollution. Ladies, how do you put up with us?
CHEERS to a whole lotta knot-tyin’ goin’ on. Gay couples in New York started getting married yesterday, and even the Fox News anchors were permitted by Roger Ailes to break into an occasional smile. Kudos to CNN for live coverage of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg officiating at the ceremony for two of his City Hall staff members—that was nice. In the wake of yesterday’s coverage, one right-wing myth was busted all to hell: that gay couples can’t stay together very long. All day long there were clips of couples who had been together 10, 20, 30, 40 years or more. And how nice to see that the fuddy-duddy Catholic Church even knows when to back away slowly:
“There may not be much more to say at this point,” Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said.
Except, maybe, congrats and enjoy those Bed, Bath & Beyond gift cards.
And just one more…
CHEERS to memorable moments in malodorousness. Big excitement this week at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. A rare “corpse flower”—aka Amorphophallus titaniumaka “Rotty Top”—is in the process of blooming there for the first time, says Jeff Martin, manager of their UT’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Greenhouses. You can click on a livestream of it here. There’s a method to its malodorousness, according to How Stuff Works:
Why does the corpse flower smell so terrible? To attract insects of course.
Because Titan Arum plants are located so far apart from one another and bloom so infrequently, they need to attract as much insect attention as possible to ensure pollination.
The corpse flower uses its smell to attract sweat bees and beetles looking for a prime location to lay their eggs. By crawling all over the plant, these insects play a vital role in pollinating the Titan Arum.
Put another way, it’s like the CPAC convention of the botanical world.
Have a tolerable Monday. Floor’s open…What are you cheering and jeering about today?
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