Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Last Call For Vote Like Your Country Depends On It, Con't

Democrats in Pennsylvania have prevailed in Tuesday's special election for the state House, and that means Dems now regain control of the lower chamber by one vote.
Democrat Lindsay Powell, a nonprofit worker and former staffer for the city of Pittsburgh, won a special election Tuesday and gave her party control of the state House of Representatives, The Associated Press projected.

Powell triumphed in a Democratic-leaning district in Allegheny County vacated by former state Rep. Sara Innamorato. Innamorato left office to run for Allegheny County executive and will be the Democratic nominee for that office in the November general election.

Powell’s victory was expected due to the blue hue of the open district, but it's still important because it tips the balance of power in the statehouse’s lower chamber back to Democrats, who will hold 102 seats after she is seated, compared to Republicans’ 101 seats.

Democrats won the state House majority in 2022 for the first time since 2010, running on maps that were drawn by a state court. But they soon lost full control over the chamber due to vacancies in three seats. In February, after three special elections in Allegheny County, Democrats took back the majority.

Tuesday's special election win puts the party in control of one chamber of the statehouse and the governorship in a key 2024 battleground state, where Democrats flipped a U.S. Senate seat last year.
The state's budget fight now looms, but Democrats are in control. That's a good thing, as Democrats have done very well in 2023 special elections across the country.

Hopefully 2024 will follow suit.

Shutdown Countdown, Clown Town Edition, Con't

With Tuesday's House GOP vote on Pentagon spending pulled because GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy doesn't have the votes to pass anything at this point, a MAGA federal government shutdown now looks all but inevitable.
Republican divisions paralyzed the House again on Tuesday as a small band of conservative rebels blocked a motion to merely begin debate on a military funding bill and GOP leaders abandoned a separate vote to avert a shutdown at the end of the month.

The military vote was close, 212-214, with five GOP hardliners in the narrow majority joining Democrats to sink it: Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Dan Bishop, R-N.C., Ken Buck, R-Colo., Ralph Norman, R-S.C., and Matt Rosendale, R-Mont.

With just 11 days until the deadline, Norman said a government shutdown is inevitable.

“I do not” see a way to prevent it, Norman said, adding that conservatives want assurances on a “top line” spending level that Congress will stick by before they agree to pass any full-year funding bills.

Meanwhile, a split within the far-right has also endangered a continuing resolution, or CR, to stave off a shutdown on Sept. 30, with some Freedom Caucus members rejecting a deal struck between other Freedom Caucus members and center-right lawmakers. A procedural vote on the CR was planned for Tuesday afternoon, but leadership pulled it off the floor after failing to flip the roughly dozen declared no votes.

"They didn't have the votes," Norman said after meeting with leadership.

The House GOP chaos is worse than it may appear. The bills Republicans are fighting over have no chance of becoming law — and if they passed the chamber they’d merely represent an opening bid to negotiate with the Democratic-led Senate and President Joe Biden, who oppose the spending cuts and conservative policies that House Republicans are pursuing.
House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and President Biden are letting McCarthy burn in the bed he made, and aren't about to help him keep the MAGA promises he made in January to become Speaker

With just days to go before the government runs out of money, Biden’s team is watching Congress steam toward a shutdown, resigned to the reality that there’s little they can do now to fix the situation and confident the politics will play out their way.

President Joe Biden has steered well clear of the chaos engulfing the House, where Republicans are battling each other over a government funding bill. Within the White House, aides have settled on a hard-line strategy aimed at pressuring McCarthy to stick to a spending deal he struck with Biden back in May rather than attempt to patch together a new bipartisan bill.

“We agreed to the budget deal and a deal is a deal — House GOP should abide by it,” said a White House official granted anonymity to discuss the private calculations. Their “chaos is making the case that they are responsible if there is a shutdown.”

Biden world’s wait-and-see approach comes against the backdrop of an increasingly likely shutdown, which would be the first of the Biden era.
The debt ceiling deal made earlier this year with the White House is the first thing McCarthy's MAGA chuds threw under the bus this month, so there's no reason why the Biden administration would help break their own commitments to the American people.

Rep. Jeffries is working with the House Problem Solvers caucus to get to a deal to end a shutdown, but it's looking like weeks of Clown Town government shutdown well into October in the meantime.

McCarthy is going to have to eventually fold and make the deal with Jeffries and Biden, and that's almost certainly the end of his Speaker career.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

Me, last week, on the gag order requested by Special Counsel Jack Smith given Donald Trump's threatening social media outbursts against Smith, Judge Tanya Chutkan, and other court officers:

This is hardball stuff on the part of Smith and the DoJ, and of course nobody should be surprised by the part where Trump violated this order almost immediately Friday evening and is risking Chutkan citing him for contempt.  In fact, I expect Trump will absolutely push this as far as he can because he wants the process to break down. He wants riots and violence and bloodshed if she does try to put him behind bars, and he's going to all but openly dare her to do so.

I think the election interference case against Trump is legally flawed and — to the extent that it is valid — unwise to prosecute in the middle of an election season. The criminal-legal system, with all its punitive strictures, wasn’t designed to function with leading presidential candidates as defendants. And the presidential election system, with all its fierce competition and vituperative debate, wasn’t designed to function with defendants as candidates.

But there’s no going back. Smith’s insistence on indicting Trump over the 2020 election and trying him in the 2024 election year, combined with Republican voters’ insistence on making Trump their party’s presidential front-runner, has set up an inexorable clash between democratic politics and the law. There’s no fine-tuning it, no gentling of the legal and political processes to satisfy both. This is a head-on collision, and one or the other must yield.

I’m tempted to condemn Smith’s request for a gag order as an intrusion on the 2024 election, but that would miss the point. The Justice Department has already decided to thrust itself into the middle of the election. It might as well follow through: Prohibit Trump from attacking the proceedings, and when he doesn’t comply, jail him for contempt mid-campaign. Isn’t that what Attorney General Merrick Garland means when he says “no person is above the law”? Prosecutors have made their bed; they should lie in it.
Willick goes on hitting every conservative talking point on the January 6th case: that Trump cannot be prosecuted as a former president or current candidate (meaning Trump is above the law), that this is really a first amendment case that should be dismissed out of court (which it's not given the dozens of charges in Smith's case), that the people won't stand for the prosecution (when the majority of Americans do support the prosecution), that Democrats will suffer the most in the future being rounded up and jailed (which is all the more reason to make Trump an example), that only the voters should be able to determine Trump's fate (which they have, twice) and that this doesn't happen in civilized countries (where South Korea, Mexico, France and plenty of other US allies have prosecuted former presidents and PMs.)
In other words, it's steaming bullshit. But the taunting of Willick for Merrick Garland to follow through on ringing up Trump for violating the gag order is again, deliberate.
Trump wants this in order to justify massive national violence, and Willick is well aware of the plan. 

We'll see if Trump forces Judge Chutkan's hand, but if it happens, it's going to have consequences.

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