It’s interesting to step back sometimes and consider the possible big pictures of our times. These connections won’t be new to many of you. They’re not to me, as far as they go. But it’s been clarifying and helpful to me nonetheless. Today we have our ongoing battle over democracy and authoritarianism in the U.S. The UK is in its latest stage of its ongoing national self-immolation. Italy has just elected its first far-right government since Benito Mussolini’s rise to power in the early 1920s. Russia, which has made itself into the international clarion of rightist, revanchist nationalism, is stumbling through a succession of largely self-inflicted catastrophes in its war of choice in Ukraine.

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The Wily Ron Johnson 

A series of polls out of Wisconsin show why you simply cannot ever count Ron Johnson out, unfortunately. Johnson has been consistently unpopular with Wisconsin voters for sometime. There weren’t many polls of the reelection contest until the last month or so, after Mandela Barnes finally secured the Democratic nomination. Over that period polls have gone from showing a surprisingly robust lead for Barnes to show an almost equal advantage for Johnson.

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These Judges are Corrupt

Do take a moment to read Josh Kovensky’s report here on Judge Cannon’s latest order. It’s hard to capture just how unheard of and close to unprecedented this is. Trump literally asked for this particular judge to be the special master. Now only a couple weeks after his appointment she is jumping in and just overruling him in the most transparently one-sided ways. It’s really not too much to say that she’s essentially acting as Trump’s defense counsel — which is good I guess since he’s had a hard time holding on to them.

Special masters do work on behalf of the judge. At the end of the process he can make recommendations and she can simply not take them. So she is not acting beyond her authority in the narrow sense. But the point of the exercise is to have a respected outside party review evidence and make recommendations to the judge. By jumping in and overruling entirely reasonable and unremarkable decisions about how the review will be conducted she’s removing whatever pretense was left that she is there to oversee the case under the law as opposed to protect Trump. It’s not the worst of her orders in this ruling. Others are much worse on substance. But Special Master Dearie said he needed x amount of time to conduct the review. She jumps in and says, no actually you need to until past the election.

It’s all very transparent. But here we are. Read it.


Listen To This: The Smorgasbord Episode

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss a charcuterie tray of a Supreme Court case, the latest hijinks of the two most infamous Democratic senators and some recent shifts in midterm polls.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.


Five Alarm Fire 

The DC insider sheets are already buzzing about the exciting news: House Republicans plan a new round of debt limit hostage taking next year. Of course, this is all treated as somehow totally normal, as opposed to an unconstitutional form of legislative terrorism. This piece in Axios walks through the ins and outs of it, noting the following ….

The debt limit turning into a “political football” has become a “pattern in divided government,” particularly with a Democratic president, Neil Bradley, chief policy officer for the U.S. Chamber of Congress, told Axios.

This is a crock. Let’s be honest. Only Republicans do this. It only happens with Democratic presidents. Perhaps understandably, the head of the pro-business Chamber — which is, paradoxically, somewhat reviled now in the Trumpite GOP — can’t say this directly. But journalists don’t have to repeat their nonsense. The leading contender for the key committee chairmanship that would call the shots on this is already being clear on what Republicans will do. Tell the President that he has to repeal his 2021-22 legislation or the country has to declare national bankruptcy.


Missed Chances 

If you look at recent polls, there’s definitely a drift away from Democrats in a number of key races. The shifts are tiny if you look at the race averages. They may simply be the sloshing back and forth of poll numbers which is essentially noise. My best guess, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, is that Republicans have gotten back on the airwaves in a number of key races and been helped by a few weeks or ominous economic news — market declines which create a backdrop of disquiet even for people who have little or no direct exposure to equities markets. These things are mostly beyond Democrats’ and individual Senate candidates’ control. But what campaigns do control or have some real impact on is what an election is about. And it is always critical to make the election “about” whatever it is on which you have the strongest hand. In this case, for Democrats, that’s on abortion rights.


Big Kev: A Stone Cold Killa

This Washington Post article paints a picture of Kevin McCarthy completely at odds with the real life Kevin McCarthy many of us has observed for years. As the piece tells it, McCarthy is backroom enforcer you don’t want to cross. Not content to relive the fates of predecessors John Boehner and Paul Ryan, McCarthy has worked behind the scenes to prune the House GOP of the kinds of bomb throwers and fame-seekers who made Boehner’s and Ryan’s jobs so thankless. Says one McCarthy insider: “He is not a guy to be trifled with. It’s like they say in the Marine Corps, ‘No better friend, no worse enemy.’ And they mean it, and they act on it.”



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The Josh marshall podcast


Ep. 242: The Smorgasbord Episode

Josh and Kate discuss a charcuterie tray of a Supreme Court case, the latest hijinks of the two most infamous Democratic senators and some recent shifts in midterm polls.


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