What Really Happened Today Isn’t Complicated

About an hour ago Punchbowl News sent out an email: “Special Edition: How Congress Averted a Shutdown.” It includes a lot of interesting detail and tidbits. I’m not criticizing it as a report, per se. But the big picture of what happened here is actually very simple.

It had nothing to do with “Congress”. It certainly had nothing to do with House Democrats who were ready to vote for a clean continuing resolution at any point. The Senate, with substantial bipartisan majorities, was ready to pass the appropriations bills that made any continuing resolution unnecessary. Since the House had missed its deadlines the same bipartisan Senate majorities were ready to pass a clean continuing resolution. Even a significant number of House Republicans were willing to pass a clean resolution all along. Indeed, a clean continuing resolution was required all along by the agreement Congress and the President made back in May. Kevin McCarthy simply decided to break that deal to appease House hardliners.

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Joe To Big Kev: This is My Offer. Nothing.

Ditto to everything David says below to this denouement of the latest House GOP clown show. The big picture: House Republicans first demanded huge spending cuts. They then decided to shift to demanding miscellaneous border related abuses to get their prized shutdown. In fact they could never agree what to demand. That was the whole issue of not being able to pass anything. In the end they agreed to give up all their demands and settled for giving Vladimir Putin a big sloppy kiss in the form of killing any new aid to Ukraine in this continuing resolution. This was the sweetener that made the capitulation possible. It’s a telling but unsurprising signal. For the Trumpist Right today, Ukrainians are just Democrats with a funny alphabet. Doing Putin a solid provided enough psychic satisfaction to make this happen.

This keeps the government funded for 45 more days – in essence, until Thanksgiving.

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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


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.


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.


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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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