Politico, Portman continue to pretend that the GOP has any interest in responsible governing

In a case of unintentional damning by faint praise, Politico spills a bunch of pixels saying good-bye to the “GOP dealmakers” who are leaving the Senate in 2022, six Republican “negotiators known for working across the aisle,” who take the opportunity to pat themselves on the back for doing the least possible things to keep the government from collapsing.

“Some think ‘you have to be more partisan to win elections,’ Portman said in an interview. ‘I think it’s just the opposite.”

That’s how the story opens. Retiring Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, presenting himself as some kind of iconoclastic force for good in the GOP instead of the guy who went along meekly while Mitch McConnell took a sledge hammer to the institution of the Senate and stole the Supreme Court. Who spent four years with Donald Trump as his standard bearer, supporting Trump’s agenda 90% of the time and voting—twice—to acquit him. Even after Jan. 6. Trump’s attempted coup was “inexcusable,” Portman said. Then he conjured up a loophole to give himself an out when it came time to really condemn Trump. It was “unconstitutional” to impeach a former president, he said.

Never mind that it is not.

Anyway, Portman assures us we don’t need to worry about the fact that he and his five colleagues who have also done the bare minimum to keep government open and doing stuff are departing. The new GOP Senate won’t be “quite the change” people are concerned about he says, because “others will step up” to be the compromisers. It’s going to be so completely normal, he implies. Republicans will be responsible, he suggests.

Just like him. Because he was a beacon of responsible bipartisan behavior this session. “Portman said that not running for reelection made it easier to work on the infrastructure bill in Washington, without having to worry about fundraising or traveling home to campaign. Not to mention the typical constituent and party pressures that bear down on lawmakers with upcoming elections.”

Not having to run for reelection didn’t make him suddenly have principles, however. He still helped his party tie the filibuster record they set in the previous session of Congress. Portman didn’t say “boo” when his fellow Republicans—all but Lisa Murkowski—blocked the Senate from even considering voting rights, for example. He voted with them.

Even now, when he’s never running for office again, Portman won’t break with his party. Given the opportunity to condemn Trump, to put down the marker that he would work to oppose another Trump run for the White House, Portman demurred, saying he believes Trump won’t run again. “Many Americans who … are supportive of [Trump] from a policy point of view are ready to see someone else run for president,” Portman said. He added that it seemed like “a lot of Republican voters are ready to move on to a new candidate, whether it’s DeSantis or someone else.”

All this to say that there is no such thing as a decent Republican and that Politico and the rest of the traditional media are never going to acknowledge that fact.

Republicans roiled as McCarthy likely faces first floor fight over leadership in a century

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy heads into this week on very shaky ground. The wannabe speaker will have a tiny majority—four or five seats, depending on the result in the last uncalled race un California’s 13th District. He’s already got five GOP opponents of his speakership, enough to scuttle it.

That could mean the first floor fight for speaker in exactly 100 years, when Republican Frederick Gillett of Massachusetts had to undergo nine votes over a number of days, with a lot of negotiations and many concessions along the way. The leader of the breakaway Republicans, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, challenged McCarthy in the full GOP conference vote for speaker earlier this month and isn’t going to stop fighting.

“He doesn’t have the votes,” Biggs, a leader of the Freedom Caucus, told NBC News. “Some of the stages of grief include denial, so there will be some denial, and then there’ll be the stage of bargaining where people are trying to figure out … will there be some kind of consensus candidate that emerges.”

RELATED STORY: It took House GOP just one day to show why Democrats need to bomb-proof everything while they can

Biggs and his cohorts—Reps. Bob Good of Virginia, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida, and Matt Rosendale of Montana—are all publicly opposing McCarthy. Good told Politico that he thinks there are at least a dozen who are solid “no” votes. The tally from that secret balloting in the GOP conference was 188-31. That’s a long way from the 218 McCarthy’s going to need, and a lot of bargaining that Democrats are already branding as “corrupt.”

A nonprofit group called Facts First USA, chaired by former GOP Rep. David Jolly of Florida and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, has a memo circulating among Democrats to highlight just how much McCarthy’s going to cave to the maniacs in order to emerge victorious. The messaging in the memo could play to the Republican moderates, who could definitely play the spoiler role in this fight.

“Democrats should undertake a concerted messaging campaign over the next 5 weeks through January 3rd to brand McCarthy’s struggling campaign to win the speakership as a ‘corrupt bargain’ he is striking with ultra MAGA extremists in the Republican caucus to attain the 218 votes he needs to secure the job,” longtime Democratic activist David Brock wrote in the memo.

That’s not going to be hard, looking at what happened on Day One of the GOP majority. That was the day of the press conference from Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, incoming chair of the House Oversight Committee, and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the expected Judiciary Committee chair, about their investigation into the Biden family and the whole QAnon Hunter laptop thing they’re into. Brock labeled it an “unhinged rant” in his memo, and he wasn’t wrong.

It’s not going to be at all difficult for Democrats to use this messaging, that McCarthy is going to make a “corrupt bargain with MAGA” maniacs and allow them to “run wild with any conspiracy theory investigation or impeachment in exchange for their vote.” We’re already there. He’s made the unofficial Q spokesperson, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a part of his ad hoc leadership team and probably promised her a seat on the Oversight committee. Her pal Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, the white supremacist whisperer, is likely going to get his Oversight seat back—the one that was stripped in the current Congress because he is so dangerous.

Meanwhile, Democrats are in total array as the leadership passes from Speaker Nancy Pelosi to a new generation. They’re also relishing the prospect of watching the GOP civil war play out after McCarthy and crew did their best to derail Pelosi’s very slim—and very successful—majority of the past two years.

“They’re going to be fraught with fractures and friction and challenges and apostates. I wish them well in trying to manage that crowd,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia in a Politico interview. He predicted even worse problems for McCarthy than his predecessors faced. “Paul Ryan and John Boehner both had a bigger majority, and they couldn’t exercise control.” And they both were essentially forced out by the maniacs.

The good part, should House and Senate Democrats manage to get as organized and efficient together as possible, is that McCarthy and crew shouldn’t be able to create a lot of damage legislatively. “I don’t lie awake at night worrying about the bad legislation they are going to pass. Because I don’t think they’re going to pass it,” said Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia.

What’s going to make life even harder for McCarthy is his pledge to end proxy voting in the House. It’s been effect for almost all of this Congress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. McCarthy can’t not end it at this point—he had such a hissy fit over it he took it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to even hear it. He’s got to end it, and that means that on any given day, he would have even fewer votes available to accomplish anything.

Unless he strikes a bargain with moderates and Democrats, assuming he does end up with the speakership. It’s just possible that the corrupt bargain label sticks hard enough to McCarthy that moderates hold out and vote with Democrats on an alternative speaker. It’s not terribly likely, but it’s also not impossible.

Those 31 votes McCarthy didn’t get in the secret ballot aren’t all Freedom maniacs—a big chunk could be up for grabs to allow that 218 votes to go to a consensus candidate from Democrats and the few dozen GOP moderates. Now wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants?

As the final results of the 2022 midterm elections came into focus this past week, the lack of clarity in the GOP’s leadership also became apparent. Kerry and Markos break down what this means for Democratic voters going forward and how Donald Trump’s campaign for president is a lose lose proposition for Republicans.  


It took House GOP just one day to show why Democrats need to bomb-proof everything while they can

It’s going exactly how Republicans promised it would if they took the House: vengeance. Nothing but vengeance. Policy agenda? As if.

The first press conference of their majority Thursday, was from the Oversight and Judiciary Committee chairs laying out the number one target for their vendetta. It was all Hunter Biden’s laptop, all the time. A thing that is entirely not real.

On the second day of their majority, Rep. Jim Jordan’s Judiciary committee sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain demanding the testimony of White House staff about the administration’s “misuse of federal criminal and counterterrorism resources to target concerned parents at school board meetings.” Another thing that never happened. All four of the people they are demanding testimony from are women, and some are women of color.

That was just the start. Jordan also sent letters to Justice, the FBI, Departments of Education, and Homeland Security telling them to “anticipate requiring testimony, either in hearings or transcribed interviews” from dozens more officials, many again of whom are people of color and women.

What about inflation? What about gas prices? What about fentanyl? What about violent crime? What about immigration? What about making sure everyone can afford to go to Disneyland?

As if.

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They are not interested in making government work. They won’t try to make government work. Which is why it is imperative that Democrats do all the stuff while they have the majority. That includes figuring out how to put the debt ceiling out of their reach, just for a start. That one’s a necessity.

So is doing the least they can on protecting the next presidential election by pushing the electoral count reforms through. We have some breathing room on that with the great results in some swing state elections, but fixing this is important, particularly now that larger election reforms can’t get done.

It would also be super smart to revive the child tax credit monthly payments from the 2021 COVID-19 relief bill Democrats passed, and generally do do everything they possibly can to help regular people and to make a very big deal out of it—the Democrats’ Christmas Gift to America—to start making the case for 2024.

Which will have to happen the week after next, because they’re already gone until after Thanksgiving. Oh, well. In the meantime, enjoy the Washington Post showing us what a fool Kevin McCarthy is, and relish how his red wave became a pink dribble.

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McCarthy hands the detonator to the bomb-throwers

Republicans have been promising for weeks that if they took the House of Representatives, it would be payback time for Democrats. Sure, they had a big show around releasing their “Commitment to America” to attempt to show that they had some kind of intent to act like real responsible adults put in charge of a nation, but it was all show and no substance.

Now they have their teeny-tiny majority, they’re doing exactly what they said they’d do: seek revenge on Democrats for winning and doing popular stuff. This was the first public statement from the House GOP after securing their gerrymandered, tiny majority.

Hunter Biden's laptop is REAL.

— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) November 17, 2022

That’s previewing the first official press conference where Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and James Comer of Kentucky, the incoming chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees respectively, announce their ridiculous probes into Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son. They gave a preview—where else—on Sean Hannity’s show Wednesday. “We are going to make it very clear that this is now an investigation of President Biden,” Comer told Hannity. Because bogus investigations have worked out so well for them.

It is of course not just Biden, but also Anthony Fauci who is retiring this year. Jordan’s “FBI & DOJ politicization” allegations include his 1,050 page “report,” 1,000 pages of which are copies of the letters they’ve sent to the Biden administration. (This includes 470 pages that are all the same five-page letter sent to U.S. Attorneys.) There’s also Afghanistan and the border and, of course, impeachment investigations from Biden on down.

Speaking of investigations, The New York Times reports: “In a closed-door meeting of Republicans on Monday, right-wing lawmakers including Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia extracted a promise that their leaders would investigate Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Justice Department for their treatment of defendants jailed in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.”

Over at NBC News, Scott Wong says: “McCarthy and other leaders will have their hands full as they try to keep their wafer-thin majority united and corral conservative bomb throwers who are clamoring to shut down the government and impeach President Joe Biden and his top allies.”

News flash: McCarthy and the other leaders are the bomb-throwers.

Oh, and that bit about taking the debt ceiling hostage to force Social Security and Medicare cuts? They mean that, too. Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, the top Republican on the Budget Committee, told Wong, “As it relates to the debt ceiling, Americans rightly expect that their elected officials will use every tool we have to fix whatever crises the country faces—whether it’s the spike in prices, an unsecured border, rising debt, you name it.

“Republicans will use every tool we have to bring relief to Americans and put the country back on the right track.”

They mean it. Which means it is imperative that Democrats use this lame duck to keep them away from the most dangerous weapons.


House Judiciary Republicans release lie-packed, inflated 'report.' Will the media bite?

House GOP promises vengeance on Democrats for doing good stuff while in power

We're now in the second week of election overtime and there are still plenty of major races yet to be decided—as well as tons more great news for Democrats to exult over on this week's episode of The Downballot. On the uncalled races front, co-hosts David Nir and David Beard dive into a pair of House races in California and several legislatures that could flip from red to blue, including the Pennsylvania House. Speaking of legislatures, the Davids also go deep on what the astonishing flips in Michigan will mean for progressives and particularly organized labor.

So much for inflation and gas prices. House GOP agenda is revenge. Just revenge

The Republicans, in making sure they get their voters out, are really doing their part to make sure that Democrats have all the fodder they need to turn out the majority of non-whackadoodle voters between now and Tuesday. House Republicans are still measuring the curtains and out there, in public, talking about all the things they’re going to do if they take the majority—things that have absolutely nothing at all to do with governing or policymaking.

Here’s what they told CNN will be top priorities: Hunter Biden, COVID-19 conspiracy theory hearings, removing the metal detectors at the House chamber doors. That’s along with forcing Social Security and Medicare cuts or destroying the U.S. and global economies. That’s their argument for their election. Yes, “vengeance and destruction” is a pretty great message for Republican voters. It should be a really motivating message for every other voter in the country, because yikes!

Rep. James Comer (R-KY), set to chair the House Oversight Committee, won’t even wait until January when the new Congress is sworn in to start on the absolutely critical Hunter Biden story. He told CNN he is going to demand the Treasury Department send “suspicious bank activity reports” linked to Hunter Biden on Nov. 9, the day after the election. In the week after the election, he and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who could head the Judiciary Committee, will hold a Hunter Biden press conference.

Wouldn’t it be a great if on Wednesday the Republicans woke up as the minority, again? It’s not going to be easy, but we can help make it happen. Please give your $10 to these candidates to help them close out these last few days and get out the vote.

They will also probably hype that big report from Jordan, which consisted of 1,050 pages of crank letters the Republicans have sent to the administration, 470 of which were a five-page letter included 94 times. CNN says that this is “committee’s investigative roadmap alleging political interference by the FBI and Justice Department based in part on whistleblower allegations, while rehashing some previous claims and requests that Republicans have made.”

“Rehashing” is putting it generously for the Republicans. “We’re going to lay out what we have thus far on Hunter Biden, and the crimes we believe he has committed,” Comer told CNN. “And then we’re going to be very clear and say what we are investigating, and who we’re gonna ask to meet with us for transcribed interviews. And we’re going to show different areas that we’re looking into.”

And, of course, they’re already talking impeachment. If not of President Biden, then of homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas. Even one of the non-Freedom Caucus hardliners that will be screaming for impeachment on Day One is on board with the idea, as long as his colleagues approach it right. “Let’s not rush to judgment, let’s build your case,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX). “You got to build your case first before you do something of that magnitude—otherwise, it’s not credible.”

Right. Credibility is the GOP brand these days.

In addition to all of that, there will be more vengeance on Democrats. They’re vowing to end remote voting, thus giving them a better chance to infect their colleagues with COVID-19. They are also going to take the metal detectors away from the House chamber doors, thus upping the chances that Rep. Lauren Boebert, or Marjorie Taylor Greene, or Paul Gosar—anyone of them really—shoots someone on the floor. Probably accidentally, because if they think they need to have guns in the House chamber—and clearly they do or the detectors wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place—they are not really likely to be responsible, gun safety types. Speaking of Greene and Boebert, the other thing Republicans are promising is kicking Democratic members off of committees. Just as revenge.

Not only will they restore Greene and Gosar to their committees—while removing Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committee and boot Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from the House Foreign Affairs Committee—Leader Kevin McCarthy has said that he might give them even “better” assignments. Like putting Greene on the House Oversight Committee. He’s rewarding the arguably worst person out of 435 for being the worst.

So much for fixing inflation and gas prices.

Actually, they do have a legislative agenda. That’s if repealing everything that Democrats have accomplished in the past two years could really be considered an agenda.

At long last, the 2022 midterms are almost here! With the battle for the House front and center, we give you a window into the key races on a final pre-election episode of The Downballot. We discuss a wide range of contests that will offer insight into how the night is going, including top GOP pickup opportunities, second-tier Republican targets, and the seats where Democrats are on offense. And with many vote tallies likely to stretch on for some time, we also identify several bellwether races in states that count quickly.

Donald Trump and his MAGA allies came close to overthrowing our democracy on January 6, and they will try again. The best thing you can do is to get out the Democratic vote, and we need everyone to do what they can. Click here to find all the volunteer opportunities available!

Republicans don’t have an ‘energy agenda.’ They have a vendetta against Democrats

House Republicans continue to salivate over their opportunities to hasten the destruction of democracy and the planet if they prevail in next week’s midterm elections. They’ve figured out the part about making Trump’s tax cuts for rich people permanent, cutting Social Security and Medicare for the next bunch of retirees, making Hunter Biden testify about ... things, destabilizing the global economy, and generally making whatever they can that’s already bad 10 times worse. They just haven’t figured out how to govern.

Politico calls their latest foray into “policy” an “ambitious energy agenda.” By which they mean opening up more public lands to oil and gas drilling and doing it faster, and “probes of how the Biden administration is spending its hundreds of billions in climate dollars.” Because investigating the Biden administration somehow counts as a policy agenda—or at least that’s how the GOP and Politico decided how to sell it.

It’s “drill baby, drill” for this decade, being framed as “measures to stimulate oil and gas production, ease permitting regulations and seek to reduce reliance on China and Russia for critical materials.” It’s about letting the fossil fuel industry get into those protected public lands they always want to get their hands on, even while there are more than 9,000 inactive oil and gas leases that are already approved and not being used, as President Joe Biden pointed out earlier this year. That potentially includes leases issued back in the Obama administration.

Keeping the House is going to be difficult for Democrats, but not impossible. It’s also crucial. Please give $1 now to each of these 12 races where Democrats are fighting to flip GOP seats in the House this year!

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That’s not the only thing that goes back to the Obama administration that’s in the House GOP’s big so-called ‘energy agenda.’ They’re resorting to dragging out old, supposed scandals to justify what they insist will be oversight, including new loan guarantee programs through the Department of Energy to help build and boost renewable energy infrastructure and production. The would-be new chair of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, is calling the new loan guarantees “Solyndra on steroids.”

You might remember Solyndra as one of the “scandals” Republicans tried to cook up during the completely un-scandalous Obama administration. It was a solar startup that received loan guarantees but failed in 2011. It received about $500 million in loan guarantees, a small fraction of the $90 billion the Obama administration put into clean energy programs. The problem they’ve got trying to push that line, however, is that much of the new investment in the Biden programs is going to red states. Even Republicans see that, though not House Republicans.

“It will be super interesting to see how Republicans balance the desire to conduct investigations and find ‘the next Solyndra’ against the fact that Republican states and districts will disproportionately benefit from the investment, construction and job creation that flows from what Democrats just did via reconciliation.” That’s coming from a Republican lobbyist, Colin Hayes, who is a former Republican staff director of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

That’s not going to keep them from trying, though. They’ve got years of grievances to work through, as House Oversight and Reform ranking member James Comer (R-KY) told Politico: “Those include the ‘canceling’ of the Keystone XL pipeline and efforts to restrict oil and gas leasing on federal lands, as well as ways in which the Securities and Exchange Commission ‘is pushing President Biden’s radical climate agenda through regulation that could drive up the costs of goods and services for Americans.’”

You knew they would bring up Keystone XL, right?

There is no policy agenda from Republicans. There won’t be a policy agenda from Republicans. There’s tax cuts and there’s debt ceiling default and government shutdowns and “investigations” of nonexistent Democratic scandals. And there’s vengeance, the one true motivation of Republicans. And there’s destruction. Lots of destruction.

There’s a lot of work to do in the next week to keep that from happening. Here’s comprehensive list of the ways you can get involved to change the outcome of the 2022 election, why these activities will make a difference, and how to decide which ones are right for you. Scroll down to look at all of your options.


House GOP promises vengeance on Democrats for doing good stuff while in power

This was a GOP-inspired assassination attempt against Pelosi, and the media needs to say so

Here’s a job for the national political press corps, if they can take time out from declaring doom for the Democrats in the midterms: Put elected Republicans and every GOP candidate on the ballot everywhere on the record about how their vilification of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resulted in an assassination attempt against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and landed her husband in the hospital with serious injuries.

We’re hearing plenty of platitudes and “thoughts and prayers” from Republicans, from leadership on down. Let’s start with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who, as of this writing, hadn’t released any kind of statement about the attack, but had a press person say, “Leader McCarthy reached out to the Speaker to check in on Paul and said he’s praying for a full recovery and is thankful they caught the assailant.”

Maybe he’s in hiding because of that time he said in public that he’d like to hit Nancy Pelosi with an oversized speaker’s gavel the Tennessee delegation gave him: “I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It will be hard not to hit her with it.”

The Tennessee delegation just presented @GOPLeader with an oversized gavel. “I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel… It’ll be hard not to hit her with it,” he joked. pic.twitter.com/L2Rj1U0oAX

— Vivian Jones (@Vivian_E_Jones) August 1, 2021

That would be a great thing for reporters to ask McCarthy about, should he decide to come out of hiding.

Maybe they could get the odious Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), GOP House conference chair, to elaborate on her tweet about “wishing for a full recovery” for Paul Pelosi. Because Stefanik has made a cottage industry out of telling the public, Pelosi is a monster. Like when she tweeted a hideously altered image of Pelosi, making her look like a monster during Trump’s first impeachment.

Or when she pushed a bunch of Facebook ads targeting Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden and “Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.”

Then there is GOP leadership’s embrace of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the insurrectionist who essentially called for Pelosi’s execution while she was running for Congress in 2018 and 2019. “She’s a traitor to our country, she’s guilty of treason,” Greene said in a video posted on Facebook in 2019. “She took an oath to protect American citizens and uphold our laws. And she gives aid and comfort to our enemies who illegally invade our land. That’s what treason is. And by our law representatives and senators can be kicked out and no longer serve in our government. And it’s, uh, it’s a crime punishable by death is what treason is. Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason.”

She’s not just still a member in good standing, she had a front-row seat when McCarthy released the House GOP’s midterm election agenda.

Then you’ve got Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) bemoaning the attack, saying, “violence is never the answer for any grievance and every American should always be safe in their own home.” Because, of course, the issue here is crime, which is, of course, the Democrats’ fault, but anyway, thoughts and prayers.

Graham is up there with Stefanik in making attacks on Pelosi a hobby. He accused her of “taking a wrecking ball to the Constitution” over Trump’s first impeachment. He all but accused Pelosi of being responsible for the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Lindsey Graham: What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it? pic.twitter.com/Af4QNNU744

— Acyn (@Acyn) February 11, 2021

Which, of course, takes us to Graham’s BFF, lord and master, golfing buddy Donald Trump. The guy who attacked Pelosi at the National Prayer Breakfast after his first impeachment. “As everyone knows, my family, our great country, and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people….” he said, with Pelosi sitting feet away. “So many people have been hurt.  And we can’t let that go on.”

Trump’s attacks on Pelosi were relentless throughout his entire siege of the White House, calling her “unhinged” in tweets, calling her “Crazy Nancy” and accusing her of “breaking all rules” in his impeachment. And, of course, blaming her for the Jan 6. attack (you didn’t think Graham came up with that all on his own, right?). 

“There would have been no January 6, as we know it, if Nancy Pelosi heeded my recommendation to bring 10,000 Soldiers, or the National Guard, into the Capitol,” Trump said in a statement earlier this year. “End the Unselect Committee January 6th Witch Hunt right now. Pelosi and the Dems are responsible!”

That’s what Republicans continue to endorse. That’s what led to an assassination attempt against Pelosi. These people aren’t going to take ownership of what they’ve created. But the very least the traditional press corps could do is hold them to account for it.

How should we be reading the 2022 polls, in light of shifting margins and past misses? In this episode of The Downballot, Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen joins us to explain how his firm weights polls to reflect the likely electorate; why Democratic leads in most surveys this year should be treated as smaller than they appear because undecided voters lean heavily anti-Biden; and the surprisingly potent impact abortion has had on moving the needle with voters despite our deep polarization.

Don’t let Mitch McConnell win. Don’t let him destroy democracy

It’s hard to argue that there’s just one person responsible for the Republican Party having gone entirely off the rails of democracy. It’s been in process for decades, after all, arguably predating Richard Nixon’s resignation but definitely fueled by that in the past half-century. But if you want to find the person most responsible for using and abusing the levers of the systems the founders put in place to undermine democratic rule, look no further than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

His handiwork has reduced the Senate to the massive roadblock to progress that it is today. He was the first lawmaker to decide that something as once unimaginable as threatening to breach the debt ceiling could be used as a bargaining chip. He has made the filibuster business as usual for the Senate, forcing every single piece of regular legislation—however uncontroversial—to go through the arduous process of multiple procedural votes just to be considered on the floor. He refused to do one of the most sacred duties of the Senate—seating a U.S. Supreme Court justice—because he could.

The outgrowth of his brazen dismantling of norms is seen in what’s been happening in Wisconsin for the last several years, where a number of appointees of the former Republican governor, Scott Walker, are simply refusing to recognize Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and are refusing to step down, months after their terms have expired.

Vote Forward has an ambitious goal of sending 10 million letters in October to Democratic-leaning voters in the swing states. You can write these on your own time, in the privacy of your home. Click here to sign up or log into your Vote Forward account.

Mary Williams’ term on the Technical College System Board expired in May 2021 and Evers named her replacement. But the former Republican state representative refuses to leave. So do two other members appointed by Walker: Kelly Tourdot and Becky Levzow. Asked about it, Williams said, “All you have to do is see what the Supreme Court did.” When asked why she is squatting in the job when others have left, she answered, “Because everyone’s an individual. Now I’m going to hang up, and I don’t want you to call me again.”

She, and a number of other Republican appointees on her board and others, are taking the route of Frederick Prehn, who has remained on the state’s Natural Resources Board—at the urging of Walker—despite the fact that his replacement was named months ago. He’s sticking because the state Supreme Court’s conservative majority said he could. Sound familiar?

The court ruled that sitting members can stay on these boards until their successors have been approved by the state Senate. Which is controlled by Republicans. There are 164 Evers nominees who have not received Senate votes. Republicans, who assume they will hold the Senate, have been holding off on these 164 nominees on the assumption that they will keep the Senate and that Republican candidate for Gov. Tim Michel will win in November. At which point all of those nominations would be withdrawn.

It sounds very familiar, doesn’t it.

“There’s two different things going on here,” Miriam Seifter, an associate professor of law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-director of the State Democracy Research Initiative told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “One is the situation where individuals assert the power to stay in office after the term has expired. The other is the Senate refusing to confirm appointees. If either of those things happen in isolation or rarely, neither one is democracy-altering. If these happen systematically and across the board … you would start to see the constraints of gubernatorial power.”

And you see the erosion of democracy, where the will of the people, the voters, is ignored. “Gov. Evers appointed highly qualified, dedicated Wisconsinites for the (Technical College System) and DNR Boards, and Republicans’ continued efforts to prevent basic, fundamental functions of our democracy is radical partisanship at its most dangerous,” said Evers spokesperson Britt Cudaback.

It’s the McConnell playbook in action, and a cautionary tale for 2022. There’s little reason to believe that Republicans in any state in which they gain majorities and take governors seats—and state supreme courts—won’t do the same. There’s little reason to believe they wouldn’t take the next step and do everything they could to make sure that Donald Trump was installed as president again in 2024.

For that matter, there’s little indication to believe McConnell would really fight that eventuality, for all the attacks he’s endured from Trump. When he had the chance to cut off Trump’s path back to the White House with an impeachment conviction, he voted no. He urged his conference to vote no. He would do it again.

This is it. This is the election to stop Wisconsin extremism from infecting more states; to stop McConnell from taking the nation to that level with a Senate majority; to stop the House from going to Republicans who would threaten everything.

That’s why Daily Kos has engaged both broadly and deeply this cycle, with candidate slates at every level. You can learn more about all those endorsements here, and determine if there’s a slate—or even an individual candidate—that speaks to you, your volunteer time, your dollars.

It doesn’t matter how much you give, it matters that you do, and that you engage and help us defeat the fascists.

If you’d like to donate to every single candidate and ballot measure organization Daily Kos has endorsed this year all at once, just click here.

On this week's episode of The Downballot we get medieval on the traditional media for its appalling display of ableism in the wake of John Fetterman's recent NBC interview; recap the absolutely wild goings-on in Los Angeles, where City Council President Nury Martinez just resigned after a racist tirade was caught on tape; dive into the unexpectedly close race for governor in Oklahoma; and highlight a brand-new database from Daily Kos Elections showing how media markets and congressional districts overlap.

House GOP promises vengeance on Democrats for doing good stuff while in power

House Republican candidates are ostensibly running on issues this fall. Odious chair of the House Republican Conference and Rep. Elise Stefanik insisted as much in a Fox interview this weekend. “Republicans are going to fight on behalf of the American people to help save America, to focus on economic issues, to rein in the spending that’s driving our inflation, to unleash American energy independence to lower the price of gas, energy, home heating bills. So there’s a lot that the average American family is concerned about. Republicans have solutions and legislation ready to move in the first 100 days,” she said.

They don’t, actually. They have a snazzy website and a one-page “Commitment to America” memo, a summary of platitudes like “support our troops,” “exercise peace through strength with our allies to counter increasing global threats,” “recover lost learning from school closures,” and “uphold free speech.” And, of course, “rigorous oversight.” All of which really means tax cuts (and defunding the IRS again, which effectively means more tax cuts) and investigations.

Here’s a 100% guaranteed promise for all investigations, all the time. Here’s Rep. James Comer, who is the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee and thus the guy who will get the chair if Republicans take over.

Hunter Biden and the Biden Family have peddled influence across the globe to enrich themselves at the expense of American interests. It’s clear that Joe was involved. The question is: to what extent? We will get that answer for the American people. @MorningsMaria pic.twitter.com/HNgIwRQiZ9

— Rep. James Comer (@RepJamesComer) October 10, 2022

Don’t let them do it. Please give $1 now to each of these 12 races where Democrats are fighting to flip GOP seats in the House this year!

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It’s all about vengeance. It’s been all about vengeance since the nation had the temerity to elect a Black man to the White House and that president was able to do big stuff, like lower millions of people’s health insurance costs. The good news is that after 12 years, the Republicans have finally abandoned Obamacare repeal. (Mostly.)

House Republicans who never managed to actually come up with a health care alternative to the Affordable Care Act and whose only real accomplishment when in the majority has been tax cuts for the rich have one skill: holding a grudge and making political hay out of it. Democrats impeached Trump? Republicans will impeach President Joe Biden, whether he actually did anything or not.

And not just Biden—they’ve already filed 14 impeachment resolutions against Biden as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Attorney General Merrick Garland. Five of them have come from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, most recently seen riling up a MAGA crowd with fascistic, dangerous rhetoric: “Biden’s 5 million illegal aliens are on the verge of replacing you, your jobs, and your kids in school. Coming from all over the world, they’re also replacing your culture.”

Don’t think because Greene is a dangerous whack-job she doesn’t have sway in the Republican caucus. She was sitting right up front when House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unveiled his “commitment” in Pennsylvania last month. “I’m going to be a strong legislator and I’ll be a very involved member of Congress,” she told the Associated Press. “I know how to work inside, and I know how to work outside. And I’m looking forward to doing that.”

The feckless McCarthy has already given in to her, clearly. So if the House does flip to Republicans, he’s going to need her and the other MAGA crowd to hang on to leadership. One Democratic aide put it bluntly and graphically in a Politico interview: “Those members will have his balls in such a vice grip that when they say ‘jump’, he’ll say ‘how high’, and it’ll be too late before he realizes the fall will kill them.”

That assessment was essentially confirmed by Comer. When he was asked recently about whether there was going to be caucus pressure to impeach Biden, he answered, “I’m not under pressure, because that’s gonna be McCarthy’s job.”

Don’t let Marjorie Taylor Greene become the puppet master in charge of the House of Representatives. Help keep the House in Democratic hands.


After an eruption of even more scandals among Republican Senate candidates, FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich returns to The Downballot this week to discuss the effect these sorts of scandals can have on competitive races; whether Democrats stand a chance to keep the House; and the different ways pollsters create likely voter models.

McCarthy lied to the police officers who protected him on Jan. 6, trying to absolve Trump

Kevin McCarthy, would-be House speaker, lied to two of the police officers who helped save his skin on Jan. 6. He lied to the mother of an officer who died after the attack, telling them last year that the person who commanded Trump’s violent followers to march to the U.S. Capitol had no idea at all what they were doing. He also took credit for Trump’s eventual public statement asking rioters to “go home.” One of the attendees, then-D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, recorded the meeting and has shared that recording with CNN.

McCarthy met with Fanone, U.S. Capitol Officer Harry Dunn, and Gladys Sicknick, the mother of late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, in June 2021. Fanone recorded the meeting because as he told CNN, “was because I didn’t expect Kevin McCarthy to, No. 1, tell the truth; No. 2, recount the conversation accurately; and No. 3, I wanted to show people how indifferent lawmakers are, not just Republican lawmakers, but all lawmakers, to the actual American people that they are representing.” D.C. has single-party consent for recordings—what Fanone did is completely legal.

The three had been pressing McCarthy to meet with him after House Republicans had begun to try to downplay what had happened that day and McCarthy himself had started to bow to Trump’s pressure and back off his pledge to allow Republican participation on the Jan. 6 committee. Fanone writes in a new book just being launched, “The only reason McCarthy had agreed to meet with us was because he’d been getting heat for refusing to see me.”

We can’t let this liar and Trump sycophant anywhere near the speaker’s seat. Your donation to these Democratic House candidates can help hold the House.

“I’m just telling you from my phone call, I don’t know that he did know that,” McCarthy told the three, speaking about his call to Trump and Trump’s knowledge of the attack. Sicknick’s mother pushed back in the meeting, according to the audio. “He already knew what was going on,” she said of Trump. “People were fighting for hours and hours and hours. This doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Fanone also challenged McCarthy about his continued defense of Trump: “While you were on the phone with him, I was getting the shit kicked out of me!” He wrote in his book, “I asked McCarthy why he would take credit for Trump’s pathetic, half-hearted late-afternoon video address to his followers. I said, ‘Trump says to his people, ‘This is what happens when you steal an election. Go home. I love you.’ What the f–k is that? That came from the president of the United States.”

Subsequent revelations in public testimony to the Jan. 6 committee proved just how brazenly McCarthy lied to the officers and Mrs. Sicknick.

Jan 6 committee interviews reveal that Rep. Kevin McCarthy told Donald Trump to call off the rioters but Trump turned him down, saying: ‘Well Kevin, I guess they’re just more upset about the election theft than you are’ pic.twitter.com/NBolF2CCYL

— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 22, 2022

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In those hearings, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified about her own telephone conversations with McCarthy that day, conversations which McCarthy now says he doesn’t remember having. “You told me this whole week you aren’t coming up here,” Hutchinson said that McCarthy told her. “Why would you lie to me?” She responded that as far as she knew, there weren’t plans for Trump to go to the Capitol. McCarthy answered, “Well, he just said it on stage, Cassidy. Figure it out. Don’t come up here.”

Months before McCarthy met with the officers, in the immediate aftermath of the attack, McCarthy had no problem blaming Trump for the riot. In audio obtained by The New York Times, McCarthy told fellow Republicans that he wanted Trump to resign as they discussed impeachment. “I’ve had it with this guy,” he told a group of his leadership team. “What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it,” he told the group. That’s what he was saying before he made a call to Trump, when he told the group that he was going to tell Trump to resign.

That didn’t go as planned, according to more recording the Times obtained. Following that call, McCarthy told Republicans on a conference call: “Let me be very clear to all of you, and I have been very clear to the president: He bears responsibilities for his words and actions. [...] No if, ands or buts.”

“I asked him personally today: Does he hold responsibility for what happened?” McCarthy said. “Does he feel bad about what happened? He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened and he’d need to acknowledge that.”

Five months later, McCarthy told the officers who protected him that day and the mother of an officer who died as a result of that attack that Trump had nothing to do with any of it. Kevin McCarthy is a liar. And a bad one. You’d think he’d have learned his lesson about watching what he says in private meetings, given his track record in that whole pre-2016 election scandal: “There's … there's two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump… [S]wear to God.”