The McCarthy & Freedom Caucus Relationship is Working Just As Intended

As of today we are seeing more and more reporting that House Freedom Caucus hardliners may actually force a vote on Kevin McCarthy’s speakership and drive him from office. Like, not the, “we might do this!!!” we’ve heard more or less constantly for the last nine months but, “hey, this might actually happen.” One report said insiders don’t think McCarthy will last past December. While I’m skeptical, I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. But let’s remind ourselves that this isn’t a relationship coming apart at the seams or a system going haywire. It’s a system — that of the post-2010 House GOP caucus — working exactly as intended.

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I will never forget the chaotic television images of a 45 year old Dianne Feinstein, with some mix of calm and shock, announcing the deaths of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

And then with the coda: “The suspect is Supervisor Dan White.”

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A Blackout on The Phony “Union Members” At Trump’s Event?

Let me ask you: what coverage have you seen of ex-President Trump’s event in Michigan Wednesday night? The speech was billed as a message to union autoworkers and comes amidst the on-going UAW strike. It was meant both to counter-program last night’s GOP presidential debate and also to contest President Biden’s relationship with unionized auto workers. Biden showed up to walk on a UAW picket line on Tuesday, making history as the first time a sitting president has ever so explicitly backed not just the right to bargain generally, but a specific strike.

A lot of coverage noted that Trump’s visit wasn’t really “at the strike,” as a number of reports had it, but at a non-union auto parts manufacturer, Drake Enterprises. What’s gotten much less attention is that a substantial number of the “auto workers” and “union members” in the audience appear to have been phonies produced by the Trump campaign. The Detroit News found at least one actual, self-identified auto worker in the crowd, 55 year old Doug King, who works for Stellantis. The paper also reported that a retired auto worker named Brian Pannebecker said he helped recruit people to come to the event. But the paper seemed to have a hard time finding real auto workers or union members in the crowd of between 400 and 500 people.

From The Detroit News

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Remember: The Saudis Are The Problem

At the frontier of political and economics journalism there’s a long running dialogue looking for that key development that will finally tip the post-COVID U.S. economy into recession. Think of it as a part of “soft landing” discourse, now mixing together analyses of inflation, Fed rate hike policy, the end of loan forbearance and post-COVID savings running dry. In recent weeks it’s focused on the price of oil and thus gas creeping back up towards $100 a barrel. Yesterday saw the biggest one day rise since the Spring.

The drivers of oil prices are complex. Part of the rise is fueled by the very strength of the U.S. and global economy, which is driving up demand. But the big driver is supply and particularly the policy to restrict supply and drive up prices, a policy headquartered in Saudi Arabia. Rising oil prices help keep inflation high. They also increase pressure on the Fed to maintain or increase interest rates. Both have bad effects on the U.S. (and global) economy, as well as knock-on political impacts on Joe Biden’s reelection effort.

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Quick Debate Thoughts

I’ve said repeatedly going back almost a year that there’s virtually no way anyone can defeat Donald Trump in the GOP presidential primary. Certainly nothing has changed to alter that judgment. The two GOP debates have amounted to a kind of cosplay episode. Aside from the yelling, canned comments and embarrassing moments, the one thing that struck me about tonight’s debate is this: two or three of the contenders seem to be realizing, finally, that there’s zero point in doing this without attacking Donald Trump. Not in some vague wink wink way but directly. Is this a game changer? Of course not. But it was enough to give a hint of how this primary process might actually have been contested in some meaningful way, even if Trump likely still would have been the nominee.

Fundamentally it’s Trump’s party. So he’s the nominee. But in those few moments of attacks you could see how a different kind of contest could have unfolded. They really seem to have thought that Republicans might abandon Trump (to whom Republican voters have committed so much) without them even saying there was anything wrong with him. That’s a remarkable failure of imagination and personal character.


Cosplay Debate Live Blog

10:53 PM: Just a brutally stupid spectacle. Hard to know what to say beyond that.

9:56 PM: The most chilling thing about watching this debate is the commercials. I just saw an ad saying to oppose a new Biden FDA ban on menthol flavoring in cigarettes will empower the Mexican drug cartels.

9:40 PM: Chris Christie finally stood up and attacked Trump for once.

9:12 PM: It’s not Trump talking here. But there’s a big argument out there that the GOP is somehow increasingly pro-union. Not just Trump but the GOP. And yet here you see a pretty resoundingly anti-union message. Mass firings, making fun of wage demands support for right-to-work laws.

9:08 PM: The message here seems to be making fun of UAW and the strike.

9:01 PM: Ok, folks. Here we go.


Trump’s Two Storylines

The biggest challenge of telling the story of history as it unfolds is that you don’t know how it ends. This is a commonplace, of course — a humorous aside or even trite. But the implications of this fact are not always obvious. So it can be worth considering what it means. We are a story-telling species. We take the unorganized facts of existence and weave them together into meaningful trajectories through time. The meaning and logic of these stories are intrinsically linked to and bounded by the unique features of the human brain. When I started studying to be a historian in a PhD program in the early 90s I found this unnerving. But I later realized or perhaps decided that it was one of the essential, nourishing features of being human.

This is always the case. And we are constantly in the process of revising stories — either in our own individual lives or as journalists making sense of the larger world we live in. But there are some moments in which the fracture, the potentially different storylines seem especially great, where the very different lists of what’s important and what’s not is especially stark. We seem to be in one of those moments in the story of the 2024 campaign. And by this I actually don’t mean the hugely consequential question of who wins the election, though of course it’s related to that. I’m talking about the Trump story itself.


Your Thoughts on Trump Coverage

TPM Reader NB responds to my post on Trump coverage …

I have to say, this piece made me uncharacteristically angry, and I’m still trying to put my finger on precisely why—especially since I agree with you about the basic remedy. Yes, the media’s job is neither to hide behind endless euphemism or analysis-as-apologia, nor to engage in deplatforming, but first and foremost to inform. Leave the excuse-making to partisans or to the audience’s own shocked internal But Surely!’s.


Learn to Cover Trump Right Before It’s Too Late

In today’s Morning Memo, David notes that Donald Trump’s latest ravings have been so extreme as to manage to break through, at least partly, the wall of mainstream media indifference. Trump pledges to take Comcast (owner of MSNBC) off the air for “treason” if he’s returned to office and suggests that retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley should be executed. Milley, who retires at the end of the month, gave a lengthy (and, for Trump, unflattering) interview to Atlantic Monthly editor Jeff Goldberg. So that’s what Milley’s execution is about. This is the moment we live in in the history of the American republic, a man who talks like a character out of a dystopian novel about the end of America is the choice of about half of Americans to be the next President.



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Connecticut Mayoral Candidate Is Hoping Voters Can Look Beyond His Participation In Jan. 6

The chaos of Jan. 6 has spawned several political candidates and right wing influencers who have sought to capitalize on their roles in the attempt to reverse the 2020 election. Gino DiGiovanni Jr. is different. The Republican mayoral candidate in the city of Derby, Connecticut was one of the Trump supporters who surged into the U.S. Capitol that day and he’s facing multiple federal charges. However, rather than embracing MAGA infamy or martyrdom, DiGiovanni has sought a degree of distance from the dead ender movement that erupted in the wake of former President Trump’s loss. 

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