Biden says he won’t step aside. What happens next?

Despite continuing calls for him to step aside as the Democratic Party’s nominee, President Joe Biden says he’s not going anywhere. A significant contingent of Democratic leaders disagrees with that decision.

So where do things stand now?

This year’s presidential race was already neck-and-neck heading into a June 27 debate that Biden requested, using rules he established. The result was not great, as I wrote at the time. “President Joe Biden had one job Thursday, one job only—prove to America that he still has what’s needed to be president, despite rampant questions about his age. He didn’t do that. Instead, he validated the worst criticisms.”

Three weeks later, the debate rages on inside the Democratic Party: Should Biden stay or should he go?

The problem is, there is no real mechanism to force him out. Some have said that delegates can take it upon themselves to ditch Biden, given the party rule stating that “Delegates elected to the national convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.” That sounds good on paper, except that it’s not as simple as that.

There are 3,979 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention. To oust Biden, 1,990 would have to not just abandon Biden, but do so for a single other candidate. This means there would have to be an actual campaign, with all the trappings that would entail—public appeals for support, clearing the field, and managing the inherent divisiveness of such a move. (Disclosure: I’m a California delegate to the convention.)

In other words, forcing Biden out of the race against his will would require an organized rebellion and unity in purpose that is well beyond the Democratic Party’s ability. You can see it even in the statements of those demanding that Biden quit—few are clearly advocating for the obvious alternative, Vice President Kamala Harris. They all talk about some truncated primary process because the second an actual Biden alternative is named, it generates opposition from supporters of other potential replacement candidates.

That’s why on Wednesday, California Rep. Adam Schiff called for Biden to “pass the torch” without explaining how and to whom. The second he named a name, people would disagree with that alternative, starting a debate that does nothing to help us win in November.

Timing is important here, as there are several deadlines approaching. One is the party’s decision to nominate Biden in a virtual roll call, first agreed on to avoid the filing deadline in Ohio. Like Alabama, Ohio’s deadline has since been moved to after the convention, so efforts to continue with the virtual roll call appear to be motivated by the desire to shut down Biden’s intra-party detractors and lock in Biden’s nomination ahead of the late-August Democratic convention.

That doesn’t mean that Biden, even after being nominated, couldn’t drop out and release his delegates by the convention’s start. The bigger timing issue is simple: We’re less than four months away from Election Day, and every single day that the focus isn’t on Donald Trump is a day that he has effectively won the news cycle.

Elections are usually a referendum on the incumbent. This year, we effectively have two incumbents—a sitting and a former president. So in order to win, we have to make this election about Trump and ask voters whether they want to return to the chaos, incompetence, and fascist tendencies of the Trump administration … but supercharged.

538’s polling average has shown a roughly 2-point drop for Biden post debate, a relatively small effect given his disastrous performance and the media’s near-constant coverage of it. But the explanation is simple: It’s about the narrative.

Before the debate, Democrats said Trump was a dangerous liar, and Republicans said Biden was cognitively addled and old. Then the debate happened, and what did voters see? They saw that Trump was a dangerous liar, and Biden was old and suffering from cognitive decline. The narrative had been set, and the debate confirmed it. Biden missed a golden opportunity to reset that narrative, but it wasn’t to be.

Ultimately, voters saw nothing in the debate that they didn’t already assume was true.

And because of that, some Democrats’ efforts to push Biden out of the race have largely proven self-destructive. The news cycle is speeding past at a dizzying pace. An assassination attempt on Trump four days ago is now old news. Had Democrats shrugged off Biden’s performance and quickly moved on, the whole debacle would now be ancient, mostly forgotten news. Instead, Democrats have insisted on replaying the ordeal in the news every single day.

I get it—we have a lot more at stake than Republicans do. Democrats recognize that our rights and our very democracy are on the line. As for Republicans: What do they have to fear from Biden? Just look at Trump’s nickname for Biden—”Sleepy Joe.” We are fearful of losing our rights, they are fearful of what—a president that falls asleep?

We even have data on this. A March AP poll found that around 70% of Democrats were fearful of another Trump presidency, while a significantly fewer 56% of Republicans said the same about a Biden presidency. He’s just not that scary.

That’s why conservative memes often portray Biden as a puppet being manipulated by George Soros or Bernie Sanders (the Jews!), or Barack Obama or Harris (the scary Blacks!). Or maybe all of the above.  

Trump and his MAGA ilk really don’t know how to run against an old white man, someone who looks just like the Republican base. They prefer to run against the “other.” That’s always been the case, and that’s why Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on July 25, 2019, to try to manufacture a fake investigation against Hunter Biden. That was the same phone call that led to Trump’s first impeachment.

At that time, Biden was polling in the high 20s or low 30s in the Democratic primary. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were polling high, and had they united the left wing of the party, could’ve posed a serious threat. But Trump wasn’t worried about them: He was worried about Biden, and actively working to kneecap his candidacy early. Turns out, Trump had every reason to fear Biden the most.

For his part, Biden is through listening to his party’s critics. He wanted to run for president in 2016, but party leaders pushed him aside in favor of Hillary Clinton. When he geared up to run in 2019, the same voices claimed he was too old and archaic to defeat Trump. Heck, I was saying those things. Yet Biden proved his critics wrong, and did something that has only been done five times since 1912—he defeated an incumbent president.

Biden is done listening to critics.

So the critics in the Democratic Party are saying he should step aside, and he’s thinking, “They were wrong in 2016, they were wrong again in 2020, and they’re wrong again today.”

Of course, the Biden of four years ago is a different one than today’s Biden. Heck, he even seems different from the Biden who nailed the State of the Union address back on March 7. So yeah, people have reason to be freaked out, but the fundamentals of the race haven’t changed. Swapping out a candidate won’t reset the race for the Democrats; it’ll just create strife and ill feelings at a time when we need to be focused on Trump and his Project 2025 agenda. And much of what I wrote pre-debate about why Biden is not looking as bad as the polls indicate? It still holds up today.

Democrats have been overperforming polling since 2020. That includes 2022, when everyone declared that a red wave was inevitably going to sweep Democrats out of power in Congress, state houses, and state legislatures across the country. That certainly didn’t happen. And in regular and special elections, Democrats continue to overperform. Meanwhile, Trump underperformed his polling during the contested part of the Republican primary season.

Even globally, the far right has underperformed polling and expectations in India, Poland, and most recently, in France. (The right was swept out of office in the United Kingdom, but that was well predicted by the polling.) We’re consistently seeing that when facing right-wing authoritarian fascism, voters turn out in greater numbers than predicted, no matter what the polls say.

None of that means Biden is a shoo-in, but we’re not facing a calamitous situation. Indeed, Biden’s chances of winning in 538’s election model have inched up in recent days, to 54%. That’s a coin flip, within the margin of engagement. That was true before the debate, it’s true after the debate, and it will be true after the Republican convention and even the Democratic one.

The winner of the 2024 presidential election will come down to which side out-hustles the other one on the ground, turning out their vote in just a handful of battleground states. There isn’t a single potential candidate (pie-in-the-sky nominee Michelle Obama doesn’t count) that would significantly change the dynamics of this race. The country is locked into hyperpartisanship so strong that few people’s minds will be changed by anything—not even the attempted assassination of one of the candidates. (It’s true: Trump got zero bump.)

With Biden fully committed to his reelection campaign, it serves little purpose for senior Democrats to continue undermining the sitting president. You don’t have to like it (most don’t), you can think it sucks (and you might be right!), but Biden is holding all the cards. We either get back to focusing on Trump and Project 2025, or we give Trump a big assist in his bid to reoccupy the Oval Office.

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ICYMI: Judge says woman can get abortion, Texas AG loses his mind

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is out of control

Only hours after a judge ruled to allow a Texas woman facing a nonviable, life-threatening pregnancy to seek an abortion, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened hospitals and doctors with both civil and criminal penalties if they comply with the judge’s ruling.

When possible, Republicans have enacted some of the most extreme abortion bans, and Texas has among the worst. But cases like this one, which expose the GOP’s cruel and heartless attitudes toward women, have further galvanized national opposition to the bans. They’re also giving Democrats ammunition heaving into an election cycle with a generally favorable environment.

In fact, Paxton’s unhinged response is beyond absurd, and must be read to be believed.

More top stories

Venezuela is threatening war with Guyana, and the tankies approve

Here is everything you ever wanted to know about the next possible war, this one brewing in South America.

Gov. Tim Walz criticizes GOP's 'obsession' with strange and cruel issues

Yup. See the opening item above.

Carlson turns a sober warning of Russian threat into a false claim of extortion

Word is that Trump wants this propagandist as his running mate.

GOP impeachment resolution: A circus without substance

House Republicans seem hell-bent on moving forward with their sham “impeachment inquiry” against President Joe Biden, but they don’t even pretend to have a reason for doing so.

Senate Republicans hand Putin a propaganda victory

When Republicans aren’t busy inventing fake impeachments, they’re busy handing Russia and its murderous dictator Vladimir Putin propaganda victories.

This week’s most-read stories

  1. In late-night rant, George Santos shows he's determined to light the GOP on fire

  2. The Ziegler story gets more icky, but what it reveals about Republicans is just as bad

  3. Donald Trump is so thrown by his own shaky performance that he thinks it’s AI

  4. The Newsom-DeSantis debate did not go well. For Ron DeSantis

  5. George Santos was just expelled. Here's what happens to his seat

  6. Taylor Swift is Time's person of the year and the far right is big mad about it

  7. Justice Samuel Alito isolated in tax case he refused to recuse from

  8. White House has things to say as Speaker Johnson reverses course on impeachment inquiry

  9. The moment of reckoning: When DeSantis realizes Newsom just cleaned his clock

  10.  A House Republican tells the truth about the push to impeach Biden


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ICYMI: Republicans reveal the smoking (cap) gun in Biden impeachment inquiry

Monday’s theme? Republican weakness

Republicans don’t seem to be trying very hard as we head into the December holidays.

The Republican effort in the House to impeach President Joe Biden took a new step forward before quickly taking two steps back. Rep. James Comer sure thought he’d found the smoking gun, but his latest claims were debunked in record time, and we could feel secondhand humiliation from here.

Meanwhile, Republicans are dipping their toes into the world of “deepfakes” and artificial intelligence with a new scare campaign aimed at America’s beloved national parks

And finally, some Republicans are starting to recognize the sustained damage Donald Trump has done to the GOP over the past seven or so years.

These stories are all signs of the weakness of the Republican platform going into 2024. With no evidence of any crimes by Biden, Republicans are throwing anything and everything at the wall to see what sticks in order to keep their conspiracy-lovin' base happy.

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The cults that took over Christian colleges now aim to take over your government

So gross.

Texas GOP executive committee rejects proposed ban on associating with Nazi sympathizers

Everything really is bigger in Texas, even the WTFs.

The Newsom-DeSantis debate did not go well. For Ron DeSantis

We are still wondering how it is possible Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is still a candidate for anything after this spectacular meltdown.

Kari Lake demonized Arizona Republicans. Now she’s demanding their support for her Senate run

It is very difficult to tell who's bullshitting who on this one.

Sunday Four-Play: DeSantis-bot glitches out, and ex-Trump aide says the former guy is 'slowing down'

For a party that has invested so much in the “Joe Biden is cognitively addled” narrative, it doesn’t help when their own candidate has so clearly lost a step … or three.

After Trump re-ups Obamacare repeal threats, Biden drops ad touting cuts in health care costs

People like Obamacare. Democrats are thrilled that Trump has once again promised to destroy it.

With 100% clean energy mandate, Michigan Democrats show elections have consequences

Good things happen when Democrats win elections.

White House warns of impending crisis in Ukraine assistance funding

President Joe Biden is issuing an urgent appeal for help.


A cartoon by Mike Luckovich.

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ICYMI: Media sleeps as Trump blatantly disregards constitutional norms

Why is the media ignoring Trump's direct threats to our Constitution?

Donald Trump keeps threatening our nation’s democracy in no uncertain terms, and yet the nation’s media insists on treating his proclamations as spectacle, when they’re not outright ignoring him.

Take Trump’s fascist declaration that his potential next administration would “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, that lie and steal and cheat on elections.” Historians have noted the alarming similarities to Adolf Hitler’s and Benito Mussolini’s eliminationist rhetoric, yet a Media Matters for America analysis found that our media could barely be bothered to care. Indeed, comparing the media’s coverage of Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comment to Trump’s “vermin” comment is … just go look for yourself.

Well, now he’s threatening the media, promising in a social media post to “come down hard” on MSNBC for its “constant attacks” on him. Clearly, Trump has no use for the First Amendment or the Constitution in general. Yet, can we expect the media to rally around its freedoms by calling out such outrageous threats? Don’t hold your breath. The media has a history of ignoring his threats, after all. If only his name were Hillary Clinton, perhaps then they’d be more suitably outraged.

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Senate Republicans do Trump's bidding on Ukraine, immigration

Once upon a time, the Republican Party stood tough against Russian imperialism. But now, thanks to Trump, they are Vladimir Putin’s useful idiots.

Hunter Biden called James Comer's bluff. Now Comer is flailing

This was hilarious yesterday. Given how Republicans are still flailing, it remains hilarious today.

Students for Trump co-founder charged with assaulting woman with firearm

They really are deplorables, though.

Reporter asks simple Biden impeachment logic question. Speaker Mike Johnson changes the subject

Republicans are forging ahead on their Biden “impeachment inquiry” despite zero evidence to support it. With one question, one reporter lays bare the absurdity of the Republicans’ actions.

Trump tries to delay trial with another spurious court filing, but this one’s a stinker

This is what happens when Trump dictates his legal strategy instead of letting people who know what they’re doing take the lead.

How many times will Tommy Tuberville pull the football away from Senate Republicans?

This time he’ll allow military promotions to proceed, promise! He just needs a couple more days. …


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Republican chaos is purposefully designed to dampen voter engagement

The Washington Post ran an illuminating story on Sunday titled, “In a swing Wisconsin county, everyone is tired of politics.”

A more honest headline would’ve been, “In a swing Wisconsin county, everyone is tired of Republican politics.”

With conservative nihilists either actively destroying our institutions, like the Freedom Caucus and the U.S. House of Representatives, or promising to do so, like Donald Trump, it should come as no surprise that people are growing increasingly tired of this.

Still, traditional media outlets remain wary of ascribing proper blame, doing a disservice to people who take that “both sides do it” coverage to heart. The Washington Post article featuring people in Wisconsin’s Door County, which is between Milwaukee and Green Bay, exemplifies that. It is one of just nine counties in the country that have voted for the winning presidential candidate since 2000. Let’s take a look.

The pandemic and inflation have already rattled folks, and the broader political backdrop — the impeachments, Trump’s torrent of falsehoods about the 2020 election, the Capitol insurrection, the band of hard-right Republicans ousting their speaker — has blocked out notice of what both sides cast as accomplishments, such as the billions of dollars poured into updating the nation’s roads, bridges and ports. Even as the economy grows at the strongest pace in two years, and jobs continue to proliferate, signs of progress are easy to miss amid what voters see as screaming matches.

So what are these screaming matches voters tell the Post are distressing them? Impeachments, Trump’s 2020 lies, the insurrection, and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ouster. What do all these items have in common?

The answer is obvious: They are all things conservatives do. Even the pandemic was exacerbated by anti-science Republicans. Yes, voters refuse to see positive news on the economy because of those Republican screaming matches, but that’s on purpose. Republicans have every interest in making sure Democrats don’t get credit for being responsible stewards of our economy.

Here is the next paragraph:

They long for compromise. They want to feel heard and understood. Most Americans, for instance, desire access to abortion, tighter restrictions on guns and affordable health care. Many wonder why our laws don’t reflect that.

Access to abortion, tighter gun restrictions, and affordable health care? Which party is fighting for that, and which one opposes all those things?

Again, the article shouldn’t be about how people are disenchanted with politics, but with how Republicans are poisoning the electorate that otherwise supports the core Democratic agenda.

Nichols, a 58-year-old caregiving service manager in the city of Sturgeon Bay, sees Biden as “not super impressive” at a time when she aches to be reassured. She wants a leader who can bring the sparring factions together — a feat no one seems to be close to accomplishing. (Her favorite thing about Biden, though: “He’s not always in the news.”) Trump, on the other hand, was guilty of “mean girl behavior,” she thought, picking fights with even his own party while racking up criminal charges.

The government in general reminded her of the reality series “Big Brother” — “with all the lies and deals behind the scenes.”

“You don’t know where to turn or who to believe,” she said.

So … she longs for a leader who can bring everyone together, but she is upset by “all the … deals behind the scenes.” Politics isn’t about facts and figures, it’s about vibes. That entire sentence is nonsensical, yet this voter absolutely believes it. It doesn’t mean she’s stupid or unsophisticated; we need to stop thinking of voters that way. (I used to do so, and I’m increasingly realizing that it is not helpful in achieving our goals.) It means Republicans have done a great job of muddling the political landscape so that it repels people who are natural Democratic supporters.

Talking about Washington, [League of Women Voters advocates] decided, isn’t the best way to nudge Door County voters to the polls. But when the group focused on hot-button issues, Kohout noticed, residents seemed eager to listen. Chairs filled up at their event focused on mental health and opioid addiction.

Investment in mental health and opioid addiction? Again, those are government investments Democrats are happy to make, and Republicans are eager to block.

Henderson had liked Trump’s outspokenness at first — she would have voted for him in 2020 but was recovering from surgery on Election Day. Now she resents his “cockiness” and wishes he and other politicians would channel more energy into addressing the soaring cost of food. Two months ago, she’d had to lift the price of every menu item by 50 cents, and now her barbecue chicken Mother Clucker sandwich cost $10.75. Customers, she knew, wouldn’t pay much more than that.

Inflation is a serious issue, and arguing that the United States has the lowest inflation rate of any industrialized nation doesn’t do much to assuage those concerns. But we also know that a big part of inflation is corporate America taking advantage of it to artificially raise prices, leading to record Wall Street profits. One party would do something about that, the other wants to give corporations unfettered ability to price-gouge Americans.

The article then meanders around some Libertarians in the area, because sure, why not talk to a Libertarian about (checks notes) abortion rights, tighter gun restrictions, affordable health care, corporate price gouging, and mental health and opioid programs?

The LGBTQ+ community here is small, [Owen Alabado] said. As a gay man with Filipino roots in the overwhelmingly White town of Baileys Harbor, he stood out. It felt personal when Door County’s board of supervisors voted in September to restrict what flags can be raised on county poles, effectively banning the Pride rainbow. Then lawmakers in Washington elected a House speaker who had previously suggested criminalizing gay sex.

Alabado was sick of the division, he said. Neither party, he thought, seemed capable of fixing it. He wished he could be excited to vote for Biden, rather than feel obligated to do so to defend “basic human rights.”

“I can’t really speak to anything he has done,” he said, “because I’ve tuned it out, like a lot of people have. We’re so tired of the us-against-them politics.”

One party is banning the LGBTQ+ flag and trying to criminalize gay sex, but sure, both parties are part of the problem. And “I don’t know what Biden has done because I refuse to pay attention” is a weird flex. But again, vibes. People are fed up with the toxicity of our politics and they want to tune out. Who does this benefit? Republicans. Conservatives are doing this on purpose.

The single most successful Biden moment over the past three years hasn’t been any of his actual and very real policy accomplishments. It was the Dark Brandon meme.

We can lament the lack of sophistication among key voters, chastising them for not doing politics right, or we can understand that nihilist conservatives are destroying our institutions precisely to drive down voter participation and engagement.

If it takes Dark Brandon to combat that, sign me up. And over the next year, we’re going to have to find ways to talk to people in a way that calms and reassures them while also driving home the existential threat to our democracy that Trump represents.

Does that seem like an impossibly contradictory task? It is. But that’s what the country wants, and it will be our job as liberals and Democrats to find the solution.

Republicans are challenging labor leaders to fights and allegedly physically assaulting one another. Donald Trump says he will abolish reproductive rights entirely and is openly calling for the extermination of his detractors, referring to them as “vermin” on Veterans Day. The Republican Party has emerged from its corruption cocoon as a full-blown fascist movement.

ICYMI: Trump praises terrorists, calling them ‘very smart’

Donald Trump praises terrorists

Donald Trump has always been a terrible human being, but no one can say he wasn’t effective. He conquered the Republican Party and won the presidency by projecting power and strength. He also has an uncanny ability to tickle the conservative lizard brain, validating their most racist, sexist, xenophobic, and bigoted tendencies. However, those political instincts seem to have abandoned Trump lately. His low-energy, slurred-word, bizarrely meandering speeches (like this one and this one) are getting him in repeated trouble.

Trump has already angered his anti-abortion constituency by criticizing the draconian restrictions that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law. But today, Trump finally united his Republican primary challengers in outrage. First, he criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because Netanyahu, in Trump’s words, “didn’t make me feel too good.” Second, Trump made sure everyone understood just how impressed he was by the terrorists attacking Israel. “You know, Hezbollah’s very smart, they’re all very smart. The press doesn’t like when they say [unintelligible],” he said. But just in case his admiration wasn’t clear enough, he restated his main point: “But Hezbollah, they’re very smart.” Good luck walking that one back.

The 2016 version of Trump would not have made this mistake, but that Trump wasn’t burdened with two-plus years of post-presidential grievances. Trump never got over Netanyahu congratulating Joe Biden on his victory in 2020. “Fuck him,” Trump said about Netanyahu at the time. For Trump, that anger now manifests as him praising terrorists.

Republicans still can’t govern

Trump isn’t the only challenge facing Republicans, who every single day prove their inability to govern. In the House of Representatives, the Republican majority still can’t get their act together to pick a speaker. While earning the official backing of a majority of the Republican caucus, Rep. Steve Scalise is still a long way from the 217 votes he needs from the entire House to become speaker. With enough “hard no” votes among nihilist Republicans to scuttle any leadership vote, Republicans remain paralyzed—and will continue to be until they cut a deal with Democrats. What could Democrats demand? At minimum: funding for Ukraine, Israel, and disaster relief; an omnibus bill to keep the government funded until after the 2024 elections; and an end to the baseless impeachment inquiry against Biden. Meanwhile, Rep. Kevin McCarthy wants his old job back, and he thinks pretending to be an elder statesman will get him there. His problem? He sucks at it.

So where is Trump in all of this? Ghoulishly using Scalise’s cancer diagnosis to undermine him.

Other top stories:

A new indictment charges Sen. Menendez with being an unregistered agent of the Egyptian government 

Unlike Republicans, Democrats don’t rally around their crooks. Menendez must go.

Ukraine Update: Russia suffers catastrophic losses in two ill-fated attacks

In these dark days, who doesn’t love a heart-warming story of a massive Russian battlefield loss?

Ohio effort to end GOP gerrymandering can begin gathering voter signatures for the 2024 ballot

Trump won Ohio by 8 percentage points in 2016 and 2020, yet Republicans hold 10 of the state’s 15 seats in one of the nation’s most aggressive partisan gerrymanders. In August, Ohio voters soundly rejected a Republican effort this summer to curtail citizen ballot initiatives. And speaking of gerrymandering, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case out of South Carolina that might make it harder to challenge Republicans’ racial gerrymanders.

'Podiumgate': The Huckabee Sanders' scandal that keeps on giving

Arkansas Republicans weakened child labor laws so that kids could work at bars on school nights. The state also enacted some of the nation’s strictest anti-abortion laws. And apparently, that’s all A-okay with voters. But buying a $20,000 lectern with taxpayer money? Suddenly, people are pissed!

Banker says Trump’s financial statements were key to loan approvals, but there were 'sanity checks' 

A bank official testified that his financial institution relied on Trump’s reported valuations, but they also kinda knew he was lying, giving the numbers “haircuts.”

Moms for Liberty's school board takeover strategy is meeting pushback

These Moms for Liberty tactics are deplorable, but parents are getting savvy to them and pushing back.

ICYMI: Biden strongly condemns Hamas, says it doesn’t represent Palestinians

President Joe Biden condemns Hamas terrorism

Today, President Joe Biden spoke to the nation about Hamas’ terrorist attack against Israel and about the U.S. response to the ongoing violence. Biden stridently condemned the “pure unadulterated evil” of the Hamas attack, referring to it as a “slaughter” and a “massacre.” He noted that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people, said that Palestinians are pawns being used as “human shields,” and said, “This is terrorism, but sadly, for the Jewish people, [it] is not new. … We must be crystal clear. We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel.”

War Update: Israel, Ukraine, Russia, and Republicans

Russia is using the war in Israel to inject dangerous and false propaganda into the debate, and pro-Putin Republicans are gleefully taking the bait. “[An] account with over 350,000 followers on X (formerly known as Twitter) not only blames the Hamas attack on the U.S., but insists that it was all somehow done on orders from Barack Obama,” writes our own Mark Sumner. “Expect more such conspiracy theories, many more false claims, and for the worst of Republicans to continue using the dead in Israel for political gain.”

RNC chair's partisan remarks on Israel tragedy ignite controversy

War is breaking out, civilians are being massacred, but don’t worry—the Republican National Committee is thrilled. “I think this is a great opportunity for our candidates to contrast where Republicans have stood with Israel time and time again, and Joe Biden has been weak,” said RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel.

Other top stories

Former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice advises Republican leader against impeachment

The advice from the former Republican justice was probably not what many Republican legislators in Wisconsin wanted to hear.

Rumors swirl over DeSantis' cowboy boots

Rumors and speculation have been buzzing for months about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ footwear. Over the past week, they broke through to widespread attention—including Donald Trump’s.

Speaker search fiasco: McCarthy's return spurs confusion in House GOP

Ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy didn’t make anything easier for the GOP with his opportunistic reemergence as a quasi-leader in response to the crisis in Israel.

Fox News twist: Republicans criticize Biden over 'lid' misinterpretation

Republicans are always on the lookout for their next attack on President Joe Biden, and on Monday, Fox News personality John Roberts pulled one out of thin air.

Trump's comically absurd revisionism on the economy

Sure is nice of Trump to rave about Biden’s economy!

Trial document: Trump acknowledged penthouse size at 11,000 square feet, not 30,000 he later claimed

Thirty years ago, Donald Trump revealed the true size of his Manhattan penthouse, and it’s now coming back to haunt him at his civil trial in New York.

Prosecutors ask judge to take steps to protect potential jurors' identities in 2020 election case

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team has asked District Judge Tanya Chutkan for extra precautions when it comes to jury selection and identification in the classified documents trial. 

McCarthy pathetically blames Nancy Pelosi for his failures

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is asked at a press conference why he’s not fighting for the speakership since he claimed he would “never give up fighting.” His answer is absolutely bonkers.

McCarthy: You know what’s interesting? […] In today’s world if you’re sitting in Congress, and you took a gamble to make sure government was still open, and eight people can throw you out as speaker. And the Democrats who said they wanted to keep government open, I think you got a real divide. I think you got a real institutional problem.

Interesting, it was in this room, after we had won the majority and I had become speaker, Nancy Pelosi came to me, she was speaker at the time on the way out, and I told her I was having issues with getting enough votes. And she said, “What’s the problem?” I said, “They want this one person can rule you out.” She was the only speaker that changed that rule.

I had the power to call the vote on her, but I never would. I lost some votes because of it.

She said, “Just give it to them. I will always back you up. I made the same offer to [John] Boehner, and the same thing to Paul [Ryan], because I believe in the institution.”

I think today was a political decision by the Democrats. I think the things they had done in the past hurt the institution. They started removing people from committees. They just started doing the other things. My fear is the institution fell today, because you can’t do the job if eight people […] can partner with the whole other side. How do you govern?

Dear god, where to begin?

“You took a gamble to make sure government was still open …”

He wants a cookie for doing his job. This is the lowest freakin’ bar, and he considers it “a gamble.” Maybe that, right there, is why McCarthy failed. Maybe it was because he couldn’t do the most basic part of his job without expecting Democrats to hail him as some sort of conquering hero.

“[A]nd eight people can throw you out as speaker.”

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Yeah, those were the rules he instituted. That’s his problem, not the Democrats. And it wasn’t eight people that threw him out. It was 216 members of Congress.

“I had the power to call the vote on her, but I never would. “

Sure, he could’ve challenged her speakership, and he would’ve lost. She was actually good at her job.

And to be clear, Democrats didn’t call this vote. They didn’t bust any norms that McCarthy supposedly upheld. They just sat back and voted the exact same way they voted when McCarthy was first elected speaker. Thinking they would do otherwise, absent an actual deal with the current Democratic leader, was sheer madness.

“I think today was a political decision by the Democrats.”

House Republicans are currently investigating Hunter Biden penis pictures and engaging in a sham “impeachment inquiry” of President Joe Biden, and yet he’s going to cry about “politics”? Of course Democrats played politics! So did Rep. Matt Gaetz and the Freedom Caucus. And so did McCarthy!

The problem is, McCarthy played his politics poorly.

Why would he expect Democrats to bail him out after McCarthy resuscitated a wounded Donald Trump post-Jan. 6 insurrection? Why would they help him when McCarthy did everything possible to undermine the Jan. 6 commission? What about all the bullshit investigations, all of them at the behest of the Freedom Caucus? And why would he go on TV this past weekend and blame the potential government shutdown on Democrats?

Even if he had a deal, he had a shitty way to uphold his end of the bargain, which was, quite obviously, to act in the best interest of our nation.

But there was no deal, and we know he’s full of shit because of one simple reason:

If Pelosi had truly inoculated him against the Freedom Caucus, why would McCarthy go to such great lengths to let the Freedom Caucus run the show? From investigations to Trump’s butt-kissing, McCarthy always acted in the interests of his unruly nihilists hoping that giving them what they wanted would pacify them. If he had any agreement with Pelosi, he would’ve told them to pound sand from the beginning, daring them to pull the trigger on the leadership challenge.

But he didn’t. He ran his caucus scared. And when the time came to protect his speakership, did he go to the Democrats to confirm he had a deal? No, because there was never a deal, and he was too arrogant to do anything about it.

Imagine if McCarthy went to Democrats and offered to uphold his original budget deal with Biden and end all the sham investigations through the end of this term? That would suggest that McCarthy was, indeed, putting country over his party, and they could’ve worked together on a bipartisan solution to the budget impasse. Given a bipartisan power-sharing deal, Democrats would’ve saved his ass.  

But he didn’t try. Even when Democrats told him flat out that they were voting against him, he didn’t try. And crying about Pelosi is just about the most pathetic thing that this pathetic spineless man can do on his way out the door.

Evening Brief: Breaking Point—McCarthy out, Trump on the edge

The cold war between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and nihilist Freedom Caucus Rep. Matt Gaetz finally turned hot today, as the two faced off in an ouster vote.

McCarthy lost.

Democrats made it clear early in the day that they wouldn’t bail out McCarthy, pointing to his actions on Jan. 6, his sucking up to Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago post-insurrection, his attempts to discredit the Jan. 6 committee, his sham Biden impeachment inquiry, his reneging on debt-limit deal, and his actions on national TV this past weekend, claiming Democrats wanted to shut down the government.

With McCarthy ousted (for now), we are in uncharted territory. Here’s what could happen. Unhappy House Republicans are reportedly already talking about expelling Gaetz from the House. Gaetz used Democratic votes to oust McCarthy, so it would be hilarious if Republicans then use Democratic votes to oust Gaetz. That would be bipartisanship we can all believe in! Democrats will happily assist Republicans in ousting any Republican they want, making the slim Republican House majority even slimmer.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump continued his unhinged tirades from a New York courtroom, where he continued to cry about the lack of jury trial. (His lawyers specifically didn’t request one. Was that a hilarious screwup, or was it done on purpose?) Trump also bizarrely claimed a courtroom clerk was Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer’s “girlfriend,” leading the judge to issue a gag order on Trump. Shockingly, Trump seems to have backed down! He removed the offending social media post, offering a good lesson to all the other judges in all the other Trump cases on how to handle his volatile theatrics. Separately, the judge had to clarify that Trump’s claims of an important courtroom win were false. Trump isn’t winning anything at the moment.

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Republicans ditch McCarthy, first speaker ousted in American history

Holy crap, did we really just watch that happen? In a historic first, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to oust the speaker via a vote of the chamber. In the past, endangered speakers like Paul Ryan and John Boehner opted to quit or not run for reelection rather than face the ignominy of losing a vote by their peers.

But not former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who dared rebel Rep. Matt Gaetz to oust him. As “The Wire’s” Omar Little said, “You come at the king, you best not miss,” and Gaetz’s aim was true. With the help of gleeful Democrats, happy to pay McCarthy back for a legitimate list of grievances, McCarthy narrowly lost the vote 216-210, two votes more than the magic number of 214. It was only the second time in American history such a vote was attempted, and the first time it was successful.

This is, in the end, the ultimate Leopards Ate Face story.

It was clear from the very beginning of this House term that the Freedom Caucus was a nihilist group intent on tearing down the institution. They were ungovernable from the beginning, yet McCarthy, in a Faustian bargain, surrendered to them in order to achieve his big dream of holding the speaker’s gavel. And he did! He even got to stand behind President Joe Biden for a single State of the Union. But in the end, all it bought him was a historic humiliation.

Was it worth it, Kevin?

We are now in uncharted territory. Joan McCarter wrote about what could happen next.

One likely outcome is a vengeful effort by the majority of House Republicans to expel Gaetz from the House. Gaetz used Democratic votes to oust McCarthy. It would be hilarious if Republicans then use Democratic votes to oust Gaetz. That’s bipartisanship we can all believe in! Democrats will happily assist Republicans in ousting any Republican they want, making the slim Republican House majority even slimmer.

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But before we get there, Republicans will need to figure out how to elect a new speaker. Will McCarthy make another attempt? He certainly can’t do it with Republican votes, and if he didn’t cut a deal with Democrats to save his skin on Tuesday, why would he do so to get elected a second time? Is there another Republican that can unite the two Republican factions that clearly loathe each other?

Given the slim Republican majority, can Democrats somehow engineer a coup, getting Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries elected speaker with the assistance of rebel Republicans? Over two dozen Republicans represent Biden-won districts. They wouldn’t even have to vote for Jeffries; they could just be unavailable for a day.

Jeffries is clearly open to the possibilities, as his latest statement shows

And heck, it’s clear that the Freedom Caucus longs to be in the minority. Their grift is so much more effective when facing off against a Democratic speaker, and as a bonus to the racist MAGA base, Jeffries is Black. They can raise a ton of money off being in the minority. It might literally benefit them to engineer a Jeffries speakership.

As for McCarthy, good riddance. Republicans are unable to take responsibility for their own actions, so the likes of former Rep. Tom Cole, Rep. Patrick McHenry, and Republican operative Brendan Buck were sure to claim it was Democrats that were sending our nation into turmoil because they wouldn’t bail McCarthy out. Democrats had no reason to help McCarthy, and he never offered them a deal to protect him. It’s always someone else’s fault with them!

Still, all Democrats had to do was point to McCarthy’s actions on Jan. 6, and his sucking up to Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago days later, at a time when Trump was at his most politically vulnerable. McCarthy worked tirelessly to discredit the Jan. 6 committee, and he’s been complicit in the sham Biden impeachment inquiry—ironically designed to placate the same Republican nihilist caucus that ultimately ousted him. McCarthy also reneged on the debt-limit deal he made with Biden earlier in the year, and this weekend, he went on national TV to blame Democrats for wanting to shut down the government.

McCarthy is a pathetic man, groveling to the worst of his party, all in the raw pursuit of power. And in the end, he got exactly what everyone expected.