Editors’ Blog

Where Things Stand: It’s September 11 And We’re Nearing 200,000 Dead Prime Badge
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Tragedy is tragedy. And while the invisible crisis our country is currently facing looks and feels and hurts differently than this day 19 years ago, the parallels of massive loss of life and the infiltration of a society-altering fear are clear.

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The Hunger Prime Badge

It’s the 20th most important thing about the book or the interviews. But everything that comes out about these Trump-Woodward interviews, details and news notwithstanding, communicates an almost limitless personal insecurity and need for validation and acceptance. See here. It’s hardly surprising. It’s the flip side of his grievance politics. I certainly don’t feel sorry for Donald Trump – he deserves every bad thing that comes to him. But I don’t think it would be any fun being Donald Trump.

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Who Supports Ending the Filibuster?

Two big non-policy/legislative questions and decisions will determine the politics of the coming years. One is whether there is an audit of the executive branch after Trump leaves office, if he loses the election on November 3rd. But just as important in its own way is whether the Senate filibuster is abolished. You can basically guarantee that no progressive legislation will ever get passed as long as the filibuster exists. The filibuster is undemocratic to start with. But the Republican party’s extreme use of it along with their locked in small state advantage mean that the GOP has what amounts to a permanent veto on all legislation and a guaranteed veto of any progressive legislation.

So I’m curious to find out what Democratic Senators – or Republican Senators for that matter – support abolishing the legislative filibuster on day one of the next Congress. This is only a practical question if the Democrats win back the Senate. But the question is the same in principle regardless.

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Where Things Stand: Pat Robertson Is Not Happy With Trump Prime Badge
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The former Republican presidential candidate and longtime Christian Broadcasting Network host’s ire is not aimed at President Trump ghastly admission that he intentionally downplayed the severity of COVID-19 even though he was aware of it’s deadliness. He’s upset he offered up his iniquities freely to the press. Specifically, to the famous Bob Woodward.

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Rudy Exposed in New Russian Election Interference Operation Prime Badge

And there it is yet again. The President’s personal lawyer and apparent bag man Rudy Giuliani has been exposed as an active participant in yet another Russian intelligence operation aimed at supporting President Trump’s reelection campaign. The details of the story — and Giuliani’s work with Andrii Derkach — have been something of an open secret, especially if you’ve been reading Josh’s on-going reporting. But Derkach has now been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department as an “active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services.”

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Don’t Forget Oregon Prime Badge

TPM Reader GB shares a photo of the spooky scene today in Salem:

I want to confirm TPM Reader JK’s observations about fire on the West Coast. And it’s not just in California. There are multiple fires in Oregon and Washington.

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Some of the most vivid images to emerge from the California infernos over the last 24 hours.

Resist The Metaphor Prime Badge

TPM Reader JF reports from the Bay Area:

This isn’t the sort of thing you normally cover, but it is really remarkable.

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The Big Blowup 2020 Prime Badge

TPM Reader JK writes in from smoky San Francisco:

I just wanted to reach out to let TPM know that the western half of the US is burning down right now. 40 million Americans woke up underneath a cloud of smoke so thick all our streetlights are still on.

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Where Things Stand: He’s Gonna Wing It Prime Badge
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WINSTON SALEM, NC - SEPTEMBER 08: President Donald Trump addresses a crowd during a campaign rally at Smith Reynolds Airport on September 8, 2020 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. The president also made a campaign stop in South Florida on Tuesday. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

President Trump is reportedly banking on a fever swamp perception of former Vice President Joe Biden’s mental acuity — which has been the subject of baseless rumors perpetuated not only by the right, but also, apparently, by Russian propaganda — to guide him through the debates in coming weeks.

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Michael Headfaked Me! Prime Badge

I failed. I was fooled. He pulled one over on me. I admit it and hang my head in shame. Last week I noted the demonstrable reality that Michael Cohen squeezed the Falwells for Jerry Falwell’s critical January 2016 endorsement of Donald Trump because he and Trump had photographs and documents that revealed that the ultimate power couple of rightwing evangelical Christianity were committed swingers and part of the so-called ‘cuckold lifestyle’. But Cohen continued to deny it, even with a soon to launch “tell all” memoir. I said he was likely still holding out because of continuing criminal liability for blackmail and extortion.

But I had it totally wrong.

Cohen was lying. But not to stay ahead of the law. He was lying in the interests of book promotion. He wasn’t going to wrongfoot his book roll out. I’m not sure whether this is more virtuous or proper. But it’s definitely more on brand. So I salute him.

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Where Things Stand: Can The GOP Get It Together On A COVID Relief Bill? Prime Badge
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TPM reporter Kate Riga has been following all of Congress’ failed attempts to pass any type of COVID-19 relief bill for the last several weeks. But even with the Senate back in session, there doesn’t appear to be a clear end in sight.

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Follow the Money … Prime Badge

Bloomberg News this morning floats the doubly absurd idea that President Trump is weighing the possibility of putting $100 million of his own money into his campaign. On its face this seems absurd. Trump had to be dragged kicking and screaming to put half that amount into his campaign in 2016 when the campaign’s need for money was far, far greater. (We don’t even know if Trump has that scale of liquid assets available.) But the bigger question is, why does his campaign even need him to pump in his own money?

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Are We In A Lull? Prime Badge

This article in the Post talks to a number of epidemiologists who say we’re on the cusp of what may be the worst of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The article is based in significant measure on a new model from the IHME modelers at the University of Washington. They don’t have a perfect record. So I don’t think we should see this as consensus opinion or what “the science” says. But it’s worth taking note of as at least one quite dire outlook.

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The Weekend Calm Before the Storm

I hope you’re settling into a relaxing long weekend, or as relaxing as anything can be in these unsettled times. We are on the cusp of a vast civic storm unfolding over the next 60 to 90 days. So make the most of the respite.

While you’re here don’t miss our team’s “Is Your State Ready?” series. Josh Kovensky, Kate Riga, Matt Shuham and Tierney Sneed are looking at every state to look at their preparedness for this pandemic election. You can see the first three installments here.

You can also watch my conversation about Benito Mussolini, Italian Fascism and the rising global authoritarian movement with Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat of New York Univeristy.

Where Things Stand: It’s A Little Too Optimistic To Ask John Kelly To Clear The Air Prime Badge
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As President Trump and the White House collectively go after the Atlantic for its recent report on Trump’s remarks about the late-Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and fallen American soldiers, pundits and journalists across the spectrum are suggesting there’s one person who could easily set the record straight: John Kelly.

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The Endorsement Extortion Stays Under Wraps Prime Badge
LYNCHBURG, VA - MAY 13:  U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Jerry Falwell (R), President of Liberty University, on stage during a commencement at Liberty University May 13, 2017 in Lynchburg, Virginia. President Trump is the first sitting president to speak at LibertyÕs commencement since George H.W. Bush spoke in 1990.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

I wanted to update you on some new news on the Falwell/Trump 2016 endorsement scandal. Since we last checked in on this story another Liberty University student has come forward to say that Becki Falwell pursued him sexually. But it’s the Michael Cohen part of this story that remains the really newsworthy part.

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Trump Orders Stars and Stripes to Shutter Permanently

It’s hardly the President’s biggest outrage. And there has been reporting that President Trump has been pressing the Pentagon to cut the subsidy provided to Star and Stripes, the paper for military service members that traces its history back to the Civil War. But Kathy Kiely, writing in USA Today, reports that Trump has ordered the publication shuttered this month. “The memo orders the publisher of the news organization (which now publishes online as well as in print) to present a plan that “dissolves the Stars and Stripes” by Sept. 15 including ‘specific timeline for vacating government owned/leased space worldwide.'”

Major States Call Trump BS

California and New York now saying that they won’t play along with Trump’s pre-election COVID vaccine charade. They’ll refuse to distribute a vaccine that’s not safe and effective, which seems obvious on its face, but what they mean is a vaccine that’s been rushed through abbreviated phase III trials for political reasons. Josh Kovensky has our exclusive report.

Where Things Stand: These Two Headlines Prime Badge
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This morning we published two pieces with starkly disturbing headlines within about thirty minutes of each other.

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Let’s Talk About the Fretfest Prime Badge

In this week’s edition of The Josh Marshall Podcast we discuss the Democratic fretfest and barreling toward election day. Watch after the jump …

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Trump Losing on ‘Law and Order’ Prime Badge

It’s easy to get lost in the big muddy river of polling data and headlines. But before we get further into the day I wanted to discuss a new group of polls that came out yesterday. This was the first batch of quality polls entirely after the GOP convention. The upshot of really all of them is that “law and order” is not only not helping Trump cut into Biden’s lead. Trump appears to be losing that debate on its own terms. When pollsters ask voters which candidate they trust more to handle civil unrest, protests or crime, they’re picking Biden.

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Grifters All the Way Down Prime Badge

This post may take a few deep breaths because it’s hard to have any sympathy for Kyle Rittenhouse. But it’s not about sympathy. TPM Reader BG raises some important legal points – a couple of which had occurred to me as well – about his legal representation. I’ll note as a separate or related matter that Rittenhouse is being represented by a couple of wingnut hucksters, one of whom, Lin Wood, is the celeb right wing lawyer who’s been filing nuisance lawsuits against myriad news organizations on behalf of Nicholas Sandman. From BG

Rittenhouse is 17, which means he can be a child in need of assistance (CINA) in most states.

He will also be charged as an adult, almost certainly.

Three points:

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He’ll Keep Doubling Down Prime Badge

From TPM Reader JB, a physician and professor at a major academic medical center …

I think we now know what the October surprise will be for the election: It will be the rolling out of a COVID19 vaccine. The CDC has already said that states should prepare for distribution in October/November and the head of the FDA, Stephen Hahn, has said he may Fast Track approval for a vaccine.

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Rittenhouse Now Right-Wing Folk Hero

This is the President’s campaign press secretary again defending accused double-murderer Kyle Rittenhouse and saying his behavior is a logical consequence BLM and criticism of the police.

Join Us Tomorrow Prime Badge

Tomorrow, September 3, from 5 – 7 p.m. ET TPM is hosting a virtual Zoom event focused on the unique challenges of holding an election during the crisis that is 2020.

TPM staff will be joined by Hannah Fried, All Voting is Local’s national campaign director and the former national director and deputy general counsel for voter protection on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and Tammy Patrick, senior adviser at the Democracy Fund and an expert on vote by mail, to discuss efforts to take advantage of the crisis to suppress votes.

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Where Things Stand: He Can’t Stop Politicizing A Tragedy Prime Badge
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They couldn’t even find a willing participant. So they replaced a shop owner with someone who’d be happy to play his game.

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Right Out Into the Open

This is all pretty much in the open now. Trump has the US intelligence agencies running interference for and assisting Russian interference and disinformation campaigns against the Democrats.

The Psychology of Winning Prime Badge

TPM Reader SD has a reply to my post about the psychology and ideational worlds of Republican and Democratic partisans …

I think your post on the jitters of Democrats understates the really dramatic role consistent winning of elections can bring to the psyche of your average Democratic voter. It has been 52 years since 1968, and in those 52 years, the Republicans were really in the ascendancy for more than half of the period and then in the last 20 years the two sides have had an uneasy, unsteady equilibrium with each side gaining temporary advantages (and with Republicans doing a better job than Democrats at preserving or entrenching their otherwise temporary gains). Almost no Democrat under the age of about 70 (someone who would have been 10 years old in 1960) remembers a time where the Democrats had super majorities in the Senate and House while also holding the Presidency. Democrats who were 40 years old in 1960 would have essentially conceived of themselves as being a member of the dominant political party, accustomed to running the country and seeing the government reflect their values, because it is all they would have known in their lifetimes. Even a Republican holding the Presidency as Eisenhower did from 1953-1961 did not revisit the changes wrought by the New Deal. Instead, he could probably be more properly seen as a person of the other party holding the office in an era of the other party’s dominance. I think of Bill Clinton’s Presidency in similar terms.

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Where Things Stand: Why Is Trump Tweeting About Mini-Strokes? Prime Badge
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My roommate just asked me this question. There’s not a solid answer, but it’s related to news out of New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt’s forthcoming book, which was obtained by CNN.

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