Brazil restores order after fascist Bolsonaro supporters attack Congress, Supreme Court buildings

Brazilian authorities are again in control of government buildings attacked by fascist supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, but video from the scene shows extensive damage inside. Thousands of rioters pushed past police lines and broke windows to enter the nation’s Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential residence. Congress and the court were both in recess, and newly elected President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was touring flood damage elsewhere in the nation. Bolsonaro’s supporters instead vented their frustration on the buildings, furnishings, and exhibited artwork.

Roughly 1,200 Bolsonaro supporters were detained after the attacks, and President Lula, who returned to the capital city of Brasília to survey the damage, promised that the “terrorists” responsible for the destruction “are being identified and punished.”

The demands of the pro-Bolsonaro rioters remain the same: Fueled by hoaxes very similar to those used to incite the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in this country, Bolsonaro’s hard-right allies are demanding the Brazilian military seize power from Lula, nullifying the results of the nation’s last presidential election. The hoaxes have been boosted by Republican elected officials in this nation and by some of the same fascist provocateurs behind Trump’s attempted coup. Social media companies have also played a vital role, with disinformation running rampant on multiple platforms.

The military did not step in, and Brazilian authorities now appear to be moving swiftly to investigate and respond to the attack. Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes has suspended the district’s governor for 90 days, publicly accusing district authorities of “consent, and even active participation” in the attacks. Lula, too, is accusing Brasília public security officials of “incompetence, ill will or bad faith.”

The parallels to the Jan. 6 coup are uncanny, but both have followed a standard fascist pattern of promoting disinformation to delegitimize democracy, using those hoaxes as supposed evidence that an authoritarian overthrow of that democracy is “necessary” in order to return the country to (far-right) greatness.

The eagerness of Republican activists and elected officials to help export their anti-democracy hoaxes internationally is also now a consistent pattern; the current war in Ukraine, for example, was preceded by numerous acts to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty on behalf of pro-Russian oligarchs, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson and “conservative” outfits like the Conservative Political Action Committee have boosted anti-democratic Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.

American conservatives have been heavily boosting the Brazilian far-right in specific, with former Trump adviser Jason Miller attending and co-sponsoring an event in Campinas; at the time of Sunday’s riots, former president Bolsonaro himself was in Florida after leaving to attend a New Year’s party in Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club rather than attending Lula’s inauguration ceremonies.

Bolsonaro has now reportedly been hospitalized in Florida for acute stomach pain.

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George Santos staffer accused of impersonating Kevin McCarthy's chief of staff in calls with donors

A complaint was filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission accusing Republican Rep. George Santos of a plethora of campaign finance violations, The Washington Post reports. 

Filed by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, the complaint could launch an investigation by the federal regulator, according to the Post.

“Particularly in light of Santos’s mountain of lies about his life and qualifications for office, the Commission should thoroughly investigate what appear to be equally brazen lies about how his campaign raised and spent money,” the complaint argues.

RELATED STORY: Stunning images captured of GOP lawmakers scrambling during House speaker vote

NEWS: Federal complaint filed Monday says Rep. George Santos hid sources of funds he lent his campaign; Says Santos’ salary soaring from $55,000 in 2020 to $750,000 in 2022 suggests he was a funnel for others’ money. https://t.co/532SRCT3G2 via @Newsday @TomBruneDC— Yancey Roy (@YanceyRoy) January 9, 2023

To add insult to injury, along with all of the ubiquitous lies that have emerged from the congressman’s lips, CNBC reported Monday that during the 2020 and 2022 election cycles, a member of Santos’ campaign team had a dubious plan to dupe donors by impersonating Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s chief of staff, Dan Meyer.

The staffer’s name was actually Sam Miele, according to CNBC. 

Santos is already embroiled in an investigation by the Nassau County, New York, district attorney’s office and authorities in Brazil involving a fraud case dating back to 2008.

Then there’s the gesture Santos made last Friday during his vote for McCarthy for House speaker; he raised his right hand to vote—and with his left hand, delicately formed his fingers into what appeared by some to look eerily similar to the infamous “okay” symbol the Anti-Defamation League calls a “sincere expression of white supremacy.”

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The hand gesture was brief. Hardly noticeable, especially among all the attention paid to the fight Rep. Kevin McCarthy was having, convincing his Republican colleagues to vote for him. Watch as he appears to intentionally make the gesture, however briefly.

Of course, there is absolutely no way to know for sure if the first openly gay Latino congressman from New York meant to convey such a notoriously racist symbol. And Santos himself has not acknowledged the allegations. But Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres of New York ripped Santos in an interview on MSNBC Sunday with guest host Julian Castro, calling Santos “an indictment on what the Republican Party has become.”

When Torres was asked about claims swirling around the internet that Santos made a white power gesture, the congressman said, “Apparently, Santos is not only Latino and Black, but he’s also white now.”

Torres is referring to the many ethnicities Santos has claimed. He’s said his grandparents were Ukrainian Jewish refugees from Belgium who “survived the Holocaust” and converted to Catholicism, CNN reports. He’s called himself a “Latino Jew” and said he was “biracial,” telling a commenter in one of his tweets that he was “Caucasian and black.” Santos later backtracked, saying he was “Jew-ish.”

George Santos is not biracial but tri-racial. He has Latino, black, and now white power.— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) January 8, 2023

The New York Post reports that at the recommendation of Rep. Matt Gaetz, Santos recently hired Viswanag “Vish” Burra, a MAGA “fixer,” to help salvage his horrible reputation. Burra has ties to Steve Bannon and Carl Paladino, who, like Ye, once spoke positively about Adolph Hitler.

“He’s just an utter embarrassment,” Torres said. “He has no business serving in Congress. It diminishes the institution to have him seated, to have him sworn in.”

Torres has called on Santos to resign.

In December, Torres introduced titled the Stopping Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker Act, aka the SANTOS Act.

If the bill passes, Torres wrote in a tweet, it would “require candidates to disclose under oath their employment, educational, & military history so we can punish candidates who lie to voters about their qualifications.”

BIG NEWS: I am introducing a bill to require candidates to disclose under oath their employment, educational, & military history so we can punish candidates who lie to voters about their qualifications. It will be called the Stop Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker (SANTOS) ACT. pic.twitter.com/IpBhzAsDbt— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) December 30, 2022

“George Santos is not simply a reflection of himself; he’s an indictment of what the Republican party has become,” Torres told Castro. “When you have a political party that has been hijacked by Donald Trump and the far right, charlatans like George Santos will inevitably follow. I see the scandal of George Santos in the context of the Trumpian rot, the far-right rot that lies at the core of the Republican Party.”

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Sign the petition: Expel George Santos

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During Biden visit, Abbott cries he 'desperately needs more money' after wasting billions on stunts

President Joe Biden traveled to the southern border for the first time during his term this past Sunday, meeting U.S. border officers and local elected officials at El Paso’s busiest port of entry and making an unannounced stop at the border wall.

While the president didn’t meet any migrants on the heels of announcing a widely-condemned proposal further restricting the U.S. asylum rights of migrants, he toured the El Paso County Migrant Services Center, which aids newly arrived migrants processed and released by federal immigration officials.

RELATED STORY: Democratic lawmakers, advocates widely condemn Biden admin proposal further restricting asylum

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As previously mentioned, Republicans have been obsessed with the topic of Biden not yet visiting the region during his presidency. It’s a disingenuous obsession; their immigration plans consist mostly of border stunts. But, they finally got their wish. Biden went to the border. Their reaction? Predictable projection. Speaker-for-now Kevin McCarthy called the visit a “photo op,” falsely claiming the administration has created “the most dangerous border crisis in American history.”

Big words from someone who has been a fan of border stunts when he needs some attention off himself. Then this nonsense about the “most dangerous border crisis” ever? Others might argue that the most dangerous breach in American history wasn’t carried out by vulnerable migrants and families seeking refuge in our nation, but rather by insurrectionists who scaled a wall outside the U.S. Capitol two years ago. 

House Republicans, now in power, have been seeking to keep a lid on documents related to the probe into this deadly attack on democracy. But, hey, they chanted “USA!” when they finally put Kevin out of his misery and gave him the gavel (for now) on the fifteenth vote. They just have a funny way of showing they love America.

But Kevin’s wasn’t the most ridiculous Republican reaction to result from the president’s visit to El Paso. That distinct honor belongs to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. While former Arizona Gov. Jan “headless bodies in the desert” Brewer infamously greeted former President Barack Obama with a finger in his face, Abbott was prepared with a letter, which could have easily been sent to Washington. But he wanted to give it to the president on the tarmac, in front of cameras and eyes, because Republicans love their photo ops. Projection. 

As numerous pointed out on social media, the letter was like Abbott himself: ridiculous. The governor “told media he’d given President Biden a letter with proposed solutions,” El Paso Matters’ Bob Moore tweeted. Laughable. The political letter was loaded with demands that the president is already carrying out, like continuing to enforce the debunked Title 42 policy. Abbott also falsely claimed Biden is “sandbagging the implementation of the Remain-in-Mexico policy.” Sir, the Supreme Court said the president acted lawfully in attempting to end that policy. While a right-wing judge has since said the president can’t end it, Remain in Mexico can’t be fully reinstated without Mexico’s cooperation, and Mexico has said it’s done with the policy.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, the president is not only continuing the Title 42 order pursuant to its ruling last month, he’s expanded it. That was curiously not mentioned in Abbott’s political letter. But then came a real doozy outside the political letter, when Abbott cried to reporters that his state “desperately needs more money.” 

“I know the Republicans in the US House have committed to providing Texas the money that we need,” Abbott said, according to Business Insider. “We just finished over the past two years spending 4 billion of Texas taxpayer dollars for Texas to fill the gap caused by the Biden administration.”

This financial hole has been caused by you, Greg. You see, in his bid for political power, Abbott has carried out immigration-related stunt after immigration-related stunt that’s cost the state’s taxpayers billions and led to huge business ramifications for the state. Remember the disastrous stunt where Abbott forced truckers to undergo inspections by state police after their vehicles had already been inspected by U.S. officials? The losses to vegetable and fruit producers alone were estimated at over $240 million. 

Overall, the redundant inspections cost his state $4 billion in losses and turned up nothing. While state inspectors cited a couple of hundred drivers for minor infractions that included under-inflated tires and oil leaks, no migrants or drugs were uncovered. Mexico, by the way, as a result of these shenanigans, decided to reroute a proposed railway through New Mexico instead, pissed off over the stunt.

None of these even touches on the unrelated, illegal Operation Lone Star, which has cost the state another $4 billion and is currently under investigation by both the Justice Department and the Treasury Department for possibly operating with misused federal pandemic funds. But we’re not quite done yet, folks, because Abbott’s busing of migrants—including sick children—has also cost as much as $20 million, Business Insider said.

Rep. Veronica Escobar, a great champion of migrants and their rights, also had her own exchange with Abbott, Moore reported. He, at one point, told her that migrants should go to seek asylum at a port of entry, to which she responded that they’re currently not allowed to do that because of Title 42. “He said going between ports is illegal, and I reminded him seeking asylum is legal,” she continued. 

The child wrote “Lord, I ask that you take me from here soon, help me with with my case, I want to be with my mom and my sister soon, amen.” Every time I visit the border I leave with memories of the children I’ve seen. Their faces and stories often haunt me. Bless this kid. https://t.co/H2WEm2Opp1— Aaron Reichlin-Melnick (@ReichlinMelnick) January 9, 2023

No one, including Republicans, truly believe that a border visit really does anything to immediately begin fixing our inhumane immigration system. “But talking to people on the ground, organizations working with asylum seekers, to get a sense of what they need and are seeing, is helpful,” tweeted America’s Voice Campaigns Director Mario Carrillo.

Texas Public Radio reporter Pablo De La Rosa added that a visit to an organization like El Paso County Migrant Services Center “is probably many steps closer to help with ‘the mess’, as some have called it, than asking your Attorney General to place them under investigation.” 

He’s pointing to an intimidation effort by Abbott that orders very corrupt state attorney general Ken Paxton to probe whether non-government groups aiding newly arrived migrants have been engaged in illegal behavior. Abbott, who admitted that he publicly lied about his busing of migrants to blue areas, provided zero evidence and “did not say what prompted the call,” The Texas Tribune reported.

Texas Republicans have also focused their ire on a pro-migrant Catholic organization. Just like Jesus would do. 

“We were happy to have President Biden come and see first-hand the situation we are facing in El Paso,” said Maria Torres, Senior US Border Program Manager for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “While we know there is not an immediate fix or one that comes from the President alone, hopefully, his visit will shine a light on the dire situation we face and that the President will better understand the realities migrants and asylum seekers face. We urge him to work closely with Congress to develop a long-term solution.” 

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Ukraine update: Germany has done more for Ukraine than most know or acknowledge

UPDATE: Monday, Jan 9, 2023 · 5:40:27 PM +00:00 · kos

Brutal.

Spare a thought for #Ukraine’s forces today: Russia’s making another attempt to capture town of Soledar near Bakhmut. Deputy Defense Minister said massive artillery bombardment & new 🇷🇺 assault groups are attacking “literally on the corpses of 🇷🇺 soldiers” https://t.co/KXIAmukgrK pic.twitter.com/xqBgIqt4NW— Glasnost Gone (@GlasnostGone) January 9, 2023

One would be hard-pressed to see any discussion about Germany in Ukraine-related forums and discussions without hearing people rip the country apart. “They are Putin’s best friends!” “When will they deliver this aid, 2025?” “We can’t trust anything they say!” 

While Germany was certainly late in providing significant support, they have gradually evolved into being Ukraine’s strongest European partner while weaning themselves off Russian gas in record time. In fact, their efforts have lacked in just two areas: providing leadership (they happily follow), and public relations to sell their contributions. 

Check out this chart of total aid commitments as of late November, including military and humanitarian aid as well as direct financial support to the Ukrainian government:

Germany has committed nearly double the aid of the next two countries, France and the United Kingdom. This is what it looks like accounting for just military aid: 

If it looks like the U.S. is overly represented in terms of military aid, that’s what being the world’s policeman has wrought. Europe conveniently outsourced their defense to the U.S., leaving themselves lacking much military gear to offer. As one popular meme jokes, “Russia is about to find out why America doesn’t have universal health care.” It’s funny, but it hurts. We’ll be better off in the long term if Europe takes responsibility for their own security. They can afford it. But that’s an argument for another time. 

Despite the bare cupboards, Germany has provided more direct weapons deliveries than any other country except ours. Critics will point to GDP, saying that Germany’s contributions lag in comparison to, say, Poland, or the Baltic nations. And it’s true!

If you want to see the rest of the list click here, but Germany clocks in at only 0.33% of GDP compared to Estonia’s 1.3%, or Poland’s 0.7%. And yes, that’s a convenient way to attempt to shame larger nations intro contributing more. But in the end, what matters to Ukraine isn’t Estonia’s share of its GDP ($37.19 billion), as laudable as that is. (Germany’s GDP is $4.26 trillion, that of the U.S. is $23.3 trillion.) What matters to Ukraine is cold, hard cash, and the military hardware it needs to wage its defense. 

And on that front, Germany has delivered. Click on that link for the extensive list. Germany hasn’t just delivered critical hardware, it has also “backfilled” Eastern European countries’ armories, allowing them to send Ukraine their Soviet-era gear in exchange for German kit. That was particularly important in the earlier phases of the war when Ukraine didn’t have the logistical and sustainment capabilities to operate Western gear. Countries like Poland and Slovakia have gotten the public relations credit for the weapons deliveries (like T-72 tanks), but they only did so because Germany replaced those weapons with modern NATO gear. It’s easy to be generous when someone else is footing the bill.

Ukrainians have been particularly thrilled with two German weapons systems: the Gepard (cheetah) anti-aircraft system, which has been exceptionally effective against Russian and Iranian suicide drones, and the PzH 2000 self-propelled artillery gun, considered among the best in the world. The Gepard has been so effective that Germany is rebuilding several near-scrapped vehicles and is trying to buy back units sold to Brazil and Qatar to gift to Ukraine. When Switzerland refused to authorize the transfer of Swiss-made ammunition to Ukraine from German stocks, Germany worked with a manufacturer in Norway to start a new production line as well as buying excess ammo from Brazil. (Germany is so furious at Switzerland’s obstruction, in fact, that it has threatened to stop all defense cooperation and procurement with the Swiss.)

On top of that, Germany is joining the United States in sending Ukraine a $1.1 billion Patriot anti-missile battery. This stuff ain’t cheap, and Germany is stepping up. 

Meanwhile, Germany helped win Europe’s energy war against Russia. It seems funny now, but Putin and his supporters were convinced this summer that Europe would freeze this winter as Russia cut off shipments of gas and oil to Ukrainian-backing European nations (which is most of them). Putin wagered that cold Europeans would become restless, putting political pressure on their leaders to abandon Ukraine in favor of Russian fossil fuels. At the time polls showed that Europeans weren’t keen to cave to such blackmail, but it was easy to stand firm in the warmer summer and mild autumn. Would public sentiment shift as the weather turned bitter cold and higher energy prices fueled inflation on the continent? Putin wagered he’d come out ahead.

This thread has great charts on the state of European energy supplies. In short, Putin was wrong. Natural gas storage levels are rising, prices are lower now than before the Nordstream gas pipeline between Russia and German was shut, and the Russian ruble is finally caving as those lower (global) prices take a toll on the Russian economy. 

Third, longer-dated Natural Gas futures pricing are now back to levels seen before the Nordstream shut-down. = > They have reversed the entire mega-spike from Jun-Aug pic.twitter.com/uOWChAPyrG— Jens Nordvig 🇩🇰🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@jnordvig) January 4, 2023

None of that is possible without Germany getting its shit together since it was Russia’s best client, almost entirely reliant on Russian fossil fuels. “More gas is being injected into storage than withdrawn from it,” reported the German government. “The total storage level in Germany is 90.72%. The storage level at the Rehden facility is 90.33%.” A warmer winter has helped for sure, but delaying the shutdown of several nuclear reactors slated for closure was a big factor, as well as cutting through Germany’s fabled bureaucratic red tape to build its first liquid natural gas terminal in a matter of months instead of the usual years. 

In response to Russia’s war of aggression against #Ukraine, Germany moved to end its dependence on Russian energy imports – quickly and irreversibly. Today, the first German Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal was completed in Wilhelmshaven. pic.twitter.com/VJ13xeDabH— Emily Haber (@GermanAmbUSA) November 15, 2022

Germany just received its first shipment at the terminal … with natural gas from Louisiana. Just as importantly, Germany sees this as a short-term solution as it helps drive the European Union toward greater reliance on renewable energy sources. No one is happy that the continent is more reliant on fossil fuels, but better it use American, Norwegian, and African natural gas for now. 

This has become yet another Putin miscalculation among many. Shut out of the lucrative European market, it has been forced to sell its products at a steep discount to India and China. 

Urals: The value of Urals crude has been trading below the G7’s $60/b price cap since Nov. 18 and Platts last assessed it at $37.635/b on Jan 4, around half the value of Dated Brent, S&P Global Commodity Insights data showed#oott https://t.co/fsGWCvq51m— Giovanni Staunovo🛢 (@staunovo) January 6, 2023

Russian petroleum is trading at half the price of Brent—Atlantic basin oil that sets the price for two-thirds of the world’s supply. That’s great for India and China, which are happy to profit off Russia’s misery, but it’s a nightmare for Russia. 

Russia’s budget deficit could be wider than a planned 2% of GDP in 2023 as an oil price cap squeezes export income, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said, an extra fiscal hurdle for Moscow as it spends heavily on its military activities in Ukraine.

His comments represented Moscow’s clearest acknowledgement yet that the $60 per barrel cap, imposed on Dec. 5 by the Group of Seven, European Union and Australia with the aim of limiting Russia’s ability to fund the military campaign, could indeed hit state finances.

Along with the economic challenges, Russia announced that lack of demand might force it to cut oil production another 5-7%. Meanwhile, China’s current economic troubles should further depress demand. Rather than freeze Europe and cause economic mayhem, it is Russia that is facing serious challenges. This isn’t all Germany’s doing, of course, but as the largest economy in Europe and the nation most reliant on Russian fossil fuels, its ability to wean itself off those products in record time has had an outsized role in these outcomes. 

People are rightfully frustrated at Germany’s refusal to lead during this crisis. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz kept talking to Putin way after it was obvious that doing so was futile (along with French President Emmanuel Macron). Also, like Macron, Scholz believes it’s imperative that Europe not punish Russia after the war ends, to Eastern Europe’s endless frustration. And Germany certainly won’t be the first to escalate military capabilities for Ukraine, deferring to the United States on M270 MLRS rocket artillery and to the U.S. and France on infantry fighting vehicles. Now as Ukraine desperately pleads for Western armor, a coalition of nations (Poland, Finland, and Denmark) is looking to Germany for the green light to send German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks. Germany isn’t rushing to approve. It wants others to go first.

As frustrating as that it given current circumstances, such timidity stems from Germany’s very real guilt over World War II and a genuine fear that a remilitarized Germany could someday once again threaten its neighbors. As such, it would very much rather support everyone else’s decisions than ever be accused of using its economic might (and to a much lesser extent, its currently depleted military) to threaten anyone else. While Germany’s far right is currently a fringe movement, we’ve seen such parties elsewhere in Europe tap into anti-immigrant fervor to build popular support. Nothing says Germany is immune from such demagoguery. 

As such, Germany isn’t just afraid to step ahead of the European and allied consensus, but it is almost embarrassed to tout its Ukrainian aid. As a result, few are aware of just how substantial Germany’s contributions have been and how remarkable they are given their historical aversion to military engagement. Germany won’t have any problem enthusiastically helping Ukraine rebuild after the war. It’s the military side that makes it nervous. 

Can Germany do more? Of course. Everyone can. The United States’ refusal to send long-range ATACMS rockets is beyond frustrating, as has been the long delay in sending Bradleys infantry fighting vehicles. But Germany is doing a great deal. And if it can green-light delivers of Leopard 2s to Ukraine (perhaps at the Jan. 20 Ramstein meeting of Ukraine’s allies), that will go a long way toward assuaging the last lingering doubts about Germany’s commitment. 

But if nothing else, it’s time to retire the eye-rolling and cynicism German suffers when discussing Ukrainian support. They are a key Ukrainian ally and have done more than anyone for Ukraine than anyone else besides the United States.

Click here to donate to help those escaping Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

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House ready to move into next potentially bruising battle over rules package

Bruised and battered after a week of daily public humiliation, Kevin McCarthy has won the prize of being in charge of the House of Representatives. Just how powerless he’s going to be as Speaker will, in part, be determined Monday evening, when the House reconvenes to vote on the rules package that will govern the 118th session—the package that was the subject of so many of the concessions McCarthy gave to the radical Freedom Caucus to be allowed to hold the gavel.

The stuff that everyone knows about that he gave away has caused some consternation among the 200 of the House GOP, and the secret stuff he gave away—all those rumored promises of committee seats and gavels—could combine to make passing this package dicey for McCarthy. As with the speaker’s vote, he has a margin of no more than four votes—it’s not clear yet how many members will be in town and voting Monday.

That uncertainty is going to be a daily headache for McCarthy with his tiny majority and his already proven difficulty in counting votes, by the way. Just one of many. The biggest one could end up being his caving in on the motion to vacate the chair. That’s the rule that allows for members to call immediate votes on ousting the Speaker.

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After something like half a dozen defeats on the floor last week, McCarthy gave in on his one red line in negotiations, and agreed that the number of people necessary to bring that no-confidence vote would be one. Any single member, including Democrats, can now demand a vote on whether he should remain Speaker any time. Every day, if they want. The maniacs may or may not be planning on implementing that tool. The point is that they may not have to because the threat of deploying it would be enough to keep McCarthy under their control.

That means that the other stuff demanded and given in the rules package—all the stuff about balanced budgets and spending limits and not agreeing to a debt ceiling hike—guarantees two years of dangerous chaos and a certain government shutdown when the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Joe Biden refuse the draconian cuts the House GOP will demand.

McCarthy and team promised that they would hold discretionary spending at fiscal year 2022 levels, which could mean as much as a 10% cut in defense spending and additional cuts everywhere else. That’s got the defense hawks in the conference concerned. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) a top GOP appropriator, is one of them. “Certainly I think for those of us who believe in a strong defense, I think there’s some concerns there,” he said last week, adding, “there’s still a lot of details that I think are being worked out.”

Rep. Tom Emmer, the new GOP whip, went on Fox News to placate the defense hawks. Don’t worry, he said, because they are going to go after everything else first.

“It’s the domestic spending that we’re gonna go after” — Tom Emmer pic.twitter.com/I7U1latjou— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 9, 2023

It’s not just those cuts and those promised showdowns that have some members bothered, though. It’s all the stuff that they haven’t heard about. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday that she’s fine with “open, fair and fiscally conservative,” but wants to know what else was given away. “We don’t know what they got, or didn’t get. We haven’t seen it. We don’t have any idea what promises were made or what gentleman’s handshakes were made.”

Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), who loves to tout himself as a moderate, wrote an op-ed bitching about how the “small minority of my own party [tried] to impose their will on a majority.” News flash, Don. They didn’t just try, they succeeded. Because you went along with it. And by all indications in that op-ed, he’s going to continue to go along with it.

It’s possible by the time they start voting Monday that enough of those secret side deals McCarthy made with the maniacs will come to light that there will be a rebellion among enough of the rest of them to defeat this rules package. But probably not, given that their spines have all the strength of damp tissue paper.

Join us for live coverage starting at 5:00 eastern this afternoon, and we’ll see what happens.

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House Republicans are firing up the Jim Jordan show, and it's going to be ugly

Now that they’ve taken nearly a week to even choose a speaker, House Republicans are preparing to show their priorities for governing: personal attacks and efforts to dismantle the government, with sidelines in anti-abortion extremism, ruining the economy, and demonizing migrants.

Up first, creating a special Judiciary subcommittee addressing the “weaponization of the federal government,” by which they mean any federal efforts to stop Republicans from breaking laws. This would of course be a Jim Jordan joint, with Jordan—who will also be the chair of the full Judiciary Committee—getting an extra venue for his sweaty yapping. According to Rep. Chip Roy, in his increasingly desperate bids to gain votes for speaker, Kevin McCarthy promised that such a committee would get at least as much funding as the special committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

RELATED STORY: GOP House sets agenda for first few weeks, and yes, it’s ridiculous

Appearing on Fox News on Friday evening, Roy made clear that the plan was simply to harass the Biden administration with everything House Republicans can muster. “So we got more resources, more specificity, more power to go after this recalcitrant Biden administration,” he said. “That’s really important.”

House Republicans are intending to try to empower their special subcommittee to look into “ongoing criminal investigations,” because having a partisan group putting its nose into criminal investigations just screams “fair and impartial administration of justice.” The Justice Department is likely to fight those efforts in court.

Republicans keep comparing their plan to the Church Committee of the 1970s, which uncovered intelligence agency abuses by both Republican and Democratic administrations, but their goals are obviously very different. Rep. Jerrold Nadler had it right when he compared the planned committee “fueled by conspiracy theories and slated to be run by the most extreme members of the MAGA caucus” to the vile House Un-American Activities Committee of the 20th century.

Make no mistake, though: The key things Gym Jordan and his buddies are interested in here are hamstringing the Biden administration and hampering any investigations into lawbreaking by Donald Trump and his allies. In November, just before Election Day, Jordan released a stunt report angling for headlines, claiming that the FBI “spied on President Trump’s campaign and ridiculed conservative Americans” and that the “rot within the F.B.I. festers in and proceeds from Washington.” Sure sounds like he’s planning a careful, impartial investigation! That report also characterized the FBI’s seizure of Rep. Scott Perry’s cell phone, which was backed by a court-authorized warrant, as the FBI having “stalked a Republican Congressman while on a family vacation to seize his cell phone.” 

And you know what? We don’t yet know that Republicans won’t put Perry himself on the committee to investigate the FBI having been mean to Scott Perry. Perry himself won’t rule out being on the committee. 

“Why should I be limited—why should anybody be limited just because someone has made an accusation?” he said on ABC’s This Week, adding: “I get accused of all kinds of things every single day, as does every member that serves in the public eye. But that doesn’t stop you from doing your job. It is our duty and it is my duty.”

The plan is to go after the government for having refused to allow Republicans to attempt a coup without investigating the crimes committed in the process. And also to talk a lot about Hunter Biden’s laptop and/or penis. This is Republican governance. This is who they are.

RELATED STORIES: 

So much for inflation and gas prices. House GOP agenda is revenge. Just revenge

Jim Jordan tried to jump the gun on oversight requests; Biden White House tells him to pound sand

What a way to start the new year! On the first episode of season two of The Downballot, we’re talking with Sara Garcia, the strategy and outreach manager at Crooked Media—home of Pod Save America—about everything her organization does to mobilize progressives and kick GOP ass. Sara tells us how Crooked arose to fill a void in the media landscape, how it not only informs listeners but also gives them tools to take action, and some of her favorite shows that she loves to recommend to folks.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also discuss the Republican shitshow currently unfolding in Congress—and starkly different outcomes in two state legislatures that just elected new House speakers via bipartisan coalitions; the landslide win for the good guys in a special election primary in Virginia; why George Santos faces serious legal trouble that will very likely end with his resignation; and the massive pushback from progressive groups and labor unions against Kathy Hochul’s conservative pick to be New York’s top judge.

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Corporations that promised to suspend donations to 2020 election deniers show they can't be trusted

Following the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol siege, numerous corporations vowed to stop bribing Republicans who had objected to certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential win. They’ve since dipped their toes back into insurrectionist waters and decided the temperature is more to their liking now, even if the piranhas therein are no less apt to skeletonize our democracy.

If the government didn’t occasionally regulate and hold corporations accountable, there’s no limit to what they’d try to get away with. If you think Subway’s bread already looks, tastes, and chemically reacts as if it’s been parboiled to imperfection by Old World artisan bakers in Chris Christie’s unctuous undergirdle, imagine if they were given free rein. You’d have to specifically ask for the anthrax-free bread. And then continually follow up to ensure they don’t mean the anthrax is added free of charge.

But this isn’t a story about Subway, because it doesn’t end with me making an urgent FOIA request to determine how organically similar its bread is to lightly seared Roswell alien. It’s about corporations’ PR decisions—and whether those decisions hold up when the klieg lights of public scrutiny have dimmed. 

Spoiler alert: They don’t.

A new report from Politico shows just how wishy-washy these on-again, off-again defenders of democracy have been. According to the site’s analysis, 70 major corporations that promised to pause or reassess their donations to election deniers have since gone back on that vow—to the tune of more than $10 million in (legal, to be fair) bribes. 

But over the next two years, amid a contentious midterm battle, less than half of those companies kept those promises for a full election cycle, the analysis of campaign donations found.

The contributions made by corporate political action committees to the 147 members of Congress who sought to challenge the election results represent only a small fraction of the more than $350 million that those members raised over the past two years.

But the totals still add up to significant support. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who raised more than $27 million during the 2022 election cycle and objected to the election results along with the majority of his party in the House, brought in $285,000 from the PACs of companies that had once pushed back against election denialism. 

Almost forgot: One of the guys who decided to spit in the face of democracy when Congress gathered to certify the 2020 presidential elections is the new speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy. We live in interesting times, huh?

“So many corporations sought recognition for halting political spending after Jan. 6, then quietly reopened the money spigot to election deniers when they thought no one was paying attention,” Jeremy Funk, the media relations director for the watchdog group Accountable.US, told Politico. “Companies that claimed to be allies for democracy then rewarded millions to lawmakers that tried to finish what the insurrectionists started have shown they were never serious.”

Or maybe they decided on their own that they were being “super woke” and wanted to give a fair hearing to both sides—democracy supporters and fascist agitators alike.

Working off lists created by Accountable.US and OpenSecrets, Politico looked at 100 companies and business groups that had pledged to turn off the money spigot to insurrectionist lawmakers. Most later donated to at least one member of Congress who tried to block the certification of a free and fair presidential election. The publication also noted that the companies that had actually kept their promise had given fewer donations to begin with.

Accountable.US also followed up on the 50 Fortune 100 companies that had decided to reconsider and/or pause donations following Jan. 6 and found that “34 went on to give at least $5.6 million to members who voted against certification over the last two years.”

Cigna, for example, told its employees in the immediate aftermath of Jan. 6 that it would “discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered the peaceful transition of power.” But the health insurance company was among the first of these corporations to resume donating to election deniers.

But Cigna was hardly alone. According to the analysis, AT&T, Boeing, Comcast, General Motors, Home Depot, Lockheed Martin, Marathon Petroleum, Pfizer, Raytheon, UPS, UnitedHealth, Valaro, Verizon, and Walmart all gave at least $100,000 to election deniers via their PACs.

So, yeah, corporations won’t save our democracy. It’s more reasonable to assume they’ll pretend to save our democracy as long as they know we’re watching. Which, apparently, too many of us aren’t anymore.

Maybe it’s time we do pay attention and start voting with our wallets. To get started, here’s Accountable.US’ list of election deniers who have received the most corporate largesse. And guess who’s at the top of the list? I’ll give you 15 guesses—but don’t use them all, because that would be really fucking embarrassing. I mean, just totally, totally humiliating. Mortifying, really.

Then again, I’m fairly certain you only need one.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

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Morning Digest: Kentucky's unpopular ex-governor trolls pols at filing deadline but nixes comeback

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Cara Zelaya, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

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Leading Off

● KY-Gov: Friday was the last day for candidates to file to run for office in Kentucky this year, and former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin spent the day trolling the political world about his plans before finally passing on a rematch against Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear. Bevin, who famously launched his successful 2015 campaign on the last day possible, kept everyone guessing for months if he’d do the same thing and enter the crowded May 16 primary.

The former governor, to the frustration of Republicans who remember his chaotic four years in office, narrow 2019 defeat, and controversial final pardons, began Friday with some cryptic tweets implying he’d try again. Bevin then announced an afternoon press conference at the state Capitol, the same building where filing was taking place in the secretary of state’s office, after which he’d be “proceeding down the hall.”

With about an hour to go before the deadline Bevin delivered a 20-minute speech that appeared to be his campaign kickoff. However, the Republican instead took the hall that led out of the building, got into a van, and drove away―all without actually saying that he wasn’t going to run. It was only at 4 PM local time that the secretary of state’s office door closed and it became 100% clear that Bevin wouldn’t be coming back, though one person joked, “Bevin’s coming in the window!”

So, who is running in the Republican primary for governor? Twelve contenders, ended up filing, and the notable names are:

State Attorney General Daniel Cameron
former Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft
State Auditor Mike Harmon
Somerset Mayor Alan Keck
State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles

While there was some speculation over the preceding weeks that Papa John’s founder John Schnatter or another Republican could get in late, there were no surprises in the end. It’s far too early to designate a frontrunner for this primary, where it takes a simple plurality to win, especially since no one has released any polling here in months.

However, both Cameron and Craft have some big advantages. The attorney general, who would be Kentucky’s first Black governor, has an endorsement from Donald Trump; Cameron is also close to his former boss, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Craft and her husband, coal billionaire Joe Craft, have together been some of the GOP’s most influential donors, and she outraised all of her intra-party rivals during the final quarter of 2022 without doing any major self-funding. Craft has also spent considerably more than her opponents, and she has the personal wealth to throw down more.

Quarles, for his part, finished last year with the largest war chest in the race, though he brought in little during the last quarter. Keck, meanwhile, leads a small community of 12,000 people in heavily conservative southern Kentucky, though this appears to be the first time he’s sought higher office.

Harmon, finally, has announced all the way back in July of 2021, but he’s been a terrible fundraiser throughout his long campaign. Harmon last quarter brought in just about $3,000, which is about as much as another rival, Republican-turned independent-turned-Republican Eric Deters, took in. Deters, a suspended attorney who was charged in October with menacing behavior towards his nephew, has pledged to self-fund over $1 million, but he’s thrown down just $70,000 so far.

Beshear, who is Kentucky’s only Democratic statewide elected official, will be in for a tough fight no matter what in a state that Trump took 62-36. We haven’t seen any surveys testing him against any of these Republicans, though a September poll from the Democratic firm Garin-Hart-Yang showed him with a strong 62-36 approval rating. Beshear also finished last year with $4.7 million on-hand, which was considerably more than any of his opponents had available.

Redistricting

● SC Redistricting: A federal court struck down South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District on Friday, ruling that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Black voters when they redrew it. The three-judge panel concluded that legislators had violated the Constitution in packing too many African Americans into the neighboring 6th District, illegally letting race predominate when drawing their new map without serving a compelling government interest.

The legislature now has until March 31 to devise a remedial plan. However, the court rejected similar claims of racial gerrymandering by the plaintiffs, who are backed by the NAACP, regarding the 2nd and 5th districts, limiting the scope of the decision.

The 1st District had seen competitive elections under the previous map in recent years: Democrat Joe Cunningham won a 51-49 upset in 2018 before losing by that same margin to Republican Nancy Mace in 2020. However, the GOP engaged in defensive gerrymandering in order to insulate Mace from future challenges, shifting the 1st from a district that had backed Donald Trump by a 52-46 margin to one that would have given him a wider 53-45 edge.

They did so by moving Black voters—who reliably vote for Democrats—from the 1st into the already dark blue 6th District, a Voting Rights Act-protected seat that already was home to a Black majority and has long sent Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Black Democrat, to Congress. (Due to population loss, the 6th had to add a significant number of new residents and now has a Black plurality, despite GOP packing.) As a result, Mace comfortably won re-election in the 1st by a 56-42 margin last year.

But despite this latest ruling, a revised map may not significantly improve Black voters’ ability to reliably elect their preferred candidate—almost certainly a Democrat—in a second one of the state’s seven districts, even though nearly two-sevenths of South Carolina’s population is Black. That’s because the court’s ruling hinged on the 14th Amendment rather than the Voting Rights Act; while the latter can require states to draw districts that empower Black voters to elect their chosen candidates, the former mandates only that map-makers don’t let race predominate over other factors without justification when crafting lines.

Republicans may therefore try to continue to pursue their partisan ends of drawing a map that favors Republicans in six of the state’s seven districts, simply by convincing the court that a future map does not overly rely on race. Nevertheless, if this ruling survives a likely appeal, it could see the 1st District become somewhat less favorable toward Republicans. But given the Supreme Court’s deep hostility toward minority voting rights in recent redistricting rulings, this decision could get overturned.

Senate

● MI-Sen: Republicans will need to make it through yet another cycle without having Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller as a candidate for higher office.

While Miller’s old chief of staff, Jamie Roe, said Thursday that the former congresswoman was “seriously considering” campaigning to succeed Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Roe the next day confirmed reports that she had decided to sit out the open seat race. Roe tweeted Miller “believes it’s time to pass to a new generation and stay doing a job she loves,” so this may be the last time she gets seriously talked about for Senate or governor.

Meanwhile, the Detroit News mentions state Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt as a possible GOP contender, while a Democratic strategist names newly elected Rep. Hillary Scholten as a possibility for his party, though there’s no word if either is considering. One Democrat who has made it clear she won’t run, though, is Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald.

● MO-Sen: Marine veteran Lucas Kunce, a Democrat who lost last year’s primary for Missouri’s other Senate seat, announced Friday that he’d challenge Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, a kickoff that coincided with the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack. Kunce launched his campaign with a video highlighting how Hawley ran from the rioters just hours after raising his fist to salute the crowd that wanted to overturn Biden’s victory. Kunce told Politico that “if I ran like that in Iraq or Afghanistan—or anybody else there did—the Marine Corps would have court-martialed us.”

Kunce last cycle raised about $5.6 million for his campaign to succeed retiring incumbent Roy Blunt in what’s become a very tough state for Democrats. Self-funder Trudy Busch Valentine, though, defeated Kunce 43-38 for the nomination before losing the general election 55-42 against Republican Eric Schmitt.

Governors

● IN-Gov: Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch revealed Friday that she’d finished 2022 with $3.1 million on-hand, which gives her a slightly larger war chest for the 2024 Republican primary than her two declared opponents. Sen. Mike Braun ended last year with $2.9 million to spend, while businessman Eric Doden had $2.8 million available.

None of them will be bringing in much for a while, though, because state law prohibits candidates for statewide office from raising money during the legislative session. The legislature is set to convene Monday and remain in session until late April.

● LA-Gov: Attorney General Jeff Landry is using what will likely be his last days as the only Republican in the race to reveal that he has more than $5 million on-hand, while his allied PAC has an additional $1.5 million available. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser is set to announce Tuesday that he’s joining the October all-party primary, while state Treasurer John Schroder’s declaration is scheduled for two days afterwards. Another Republican, state Rep. Richard Nelson, says he’ll reveal his own plans in “next few weeks.”

Louisiana political observers are also waiting to see if Rep. Garret Graves will get in now that he knows he won’t need to go up against Sen. John Kennedy, who recently declined to run. The GOP congressman, though, doesn’t appear to have said much since the November elections about his interest in this race, and he didn’t respond to The Advocate’s questions on Thursday.

House

● WV-01: Former Del. Derrick Evans, who served 90 days in prison for his participation in the Jan. 6 riot, used the second anniversary of the attack to announce he would challenge Republican Rep. Carol Miller for renomination in this safely red seat. “Carol Miller has had five years to leave her mark on Washington,” Evans said of the incumbent, who actually took office four years ago, “But instead, she’s left the car door open with the keys in the ignition.”

Evans two years ago live-streamed himself at the Capitol yelling at police officers, “You go tell your liberal mayor to go kiss rocks!” A short time later he told his audience, “We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” Evans resigned from the legislature days later after only about a month in office, and later told his judge that he was a “good person who was unfortunately caught up in a moment which led to me breaking the law.”

Unsurprisingly, Evans isn’t at all apologetic about what he did. He launched his exploratory committee last month by declaring he was “held captive by the illegitimate Biden regime as a Jan. 6 political prisoner” until October, adding, “I am proud to know that the liberal mainstream media is going to label me as an ultra MAGA election denier.”

Legislatures

● NH State House: The New Hampshire Bullet reported over the holidays that Feb. 21 will indeed be the date for special election for Strafford District 8 (usually referred to locally as Rochester Ward 4), which will be a replay of the November contest that ended in a tie between Democratic incumbent Chuck Grassie and Republican challenger David Walker. Republicans currently enjoy a tiny 201-198 edge in New Hampshire’s 400-person lower chamber.

Mayors and County Leaders

● Harris County, TX Judge: Republican Alexandra del Moral Mealer, who lost a tight contest to Democratic incumbent Lina Hidalgo last year, announced Thursday evening that she would contest her defeat, a matter that will go before the county’s district court. Mealer, who came up short by 18,000 votes―a margin of 51-49―initially conceded the race to lead Texas’ most populous county, but she now argues that “there were serious operational issues that occurred throughout Election Day that call into question whether the county’s failures denied voters their right to vote.”

Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum last month turned in a report looking into the ballot shortages and late opening polling places that occurred on Nov. 8, but he said it is “not yet revealed” if these prevented anyone from voting. Tatum also wrote that the county Republican Party had “reportedly” urged at least some presiding judges and alternate judges not to speak to his staff about the issues.

Political science professor Bob Stein told the Texas Tribune that it was unlikely these issues were enough to impact the result of the county judge race, declaring, “I’m extremely doubtful that there is a legitimate legal challenge here.” (In Texas, county judges are executive rather than judicial offices.) “It’s not like voters were told they couldn’t vote or that they had to go home,” he said, adding, “They were discouraged because the lines were long, or because they were told they’d have to wait.”

Stein argued that, in order to convince the court that it should void the election or proclaim Mealer the winner, her team would need to bring in evidence that more than 18,000 people had planned to vote for the Republican and couldn’t. The story also notes that about 70% of the county’s 2022 votes were cast before Election Day.

● Las Vegas, NV Mayor: Former Rep. Shelley Berkley, who was the Democratic nominee for Senate in 2012, announced Thursday that she was entering the 2024 nonpartisan race to succeed termed-out independent Mayor Carolyn Goodman. Berkley, who was elected to a Las Vegas-based seat in 1998, has not sought office since her tight loss to GOP Sen. Dean Heller.

Berkley joins a contest that began to take shape all the way back in 2021 when City Councilman Cedric Crear and Nevada Equal Rights Commission head Kara Jenkins, who would each be the city’s first Black chief executive, both announced they were in. The last mayoral contest, which Goodman won easily, took place in 2019, but the Democratic legislature soon passed a law requiring all Nevada municipalities conduct local elections in even-numbered years starting in 2022.

● Suffolk County, NY Executive: Venture capitalist Dave Calone has had the field to himself ever since he entered the race last July, and prominent Democrats are working to make sure he has no intra-party opposition to succeed termed-out Democratic incumbent Steve Bellone this year. Calone on Thursday held his kickoff with powerful county chair Rich Schaffer, the Democratic caucus in the county legislature, and local party officials. Calone was on the ballot back in 2016 when he competed in the primary to take on 1st District Rep. Lee Zeldin, but he narrowly lost the nod to Anna Throne-Holst.

It remains to be seen who the Republicans will run as they try to take control of Suffolk County, a populous Long Island community that has moved to the right in recent years. Local GOP chairman Jesse Garcia didn’t name anyone who might compete in the June party primary, merely telling Newsday his camp was “talking to a number of candidates.” County Comptroller John Kennedy, who lost to Bellone 56-43 in 2019, didn’t rule out the idea of another campaign in early November just before Kennedy was re-elected 60-40.

grab bag

● Where Are They Now?: Both Richard Burr and his attorneys put out statements Friday saying that the Securities and Exchange Commission has told them that it has ended its insider trading investigation and will not charge the former North Carolina senator or his brother-in-law. The SEC previously said it was “investigating whether [Burr] sold stocks on the basis of nonpublic information” during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and provided this information to his relative.

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Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The chaos ahead is predictable

Clive Crook/Bloomberg:

American and British Conservatives Are Frozen in Failure

Both Republicans and Tories are finding the revolutions of 2016 difficult to reverse

For the past few years, the US and the UK have followed strikingly similar political trajectories. Against all odds, populist uprisings captured both countries’ conservative parties, secured power and embarked on projects of national transformation. These efforts went badly (to put it generously), and in due course support for the rebellions subsided.

Lately voters have been calling for a rethink. In both countries, this is proving harder than you’d suppose.

John Cassidy/The New Yorker:

Kevin McCarthy’s Hollow Victory Will Have Economic and Political Consequences

If the new House Speaker is to get anything done, he will need to retain the support of far-right extremists.

More immediately, McCarthy’s hollow victory opens the way for months more of G.O.P. performance art, which will likely encompass passing legislation that has no chance of being enacted by the Democratic-controlled Senate and holding innumerable conspiracy-theory-stoking hearings into the covid-19 pandemic, Hunter Biden, and anything else that might garner favorable coverage on Fox News and Newsmax. Along the way, the enduring fealty of many House Republicans to Donald Trump is also likely to become clear.

A new House speaker with 49% (216) of the vote – heading the U.S. minority party, beholden to 20 most extreme members and ex-POTUS who lost the popular vote twice – is a disaster for democracy McCarthy and the tyranny of minority rule. My new column https://t.co/uVmvUaeRZk— Will Bunch (@Will_Bunch) January 8, 2023

Joanne B Freeman/The New York Times:

It’s Tempting to Laugh at McCarthy’s Struggles, but History Shows That This Type of Chaos Is Not a Joke

This was far from the first time the House was mired in a stalemate over the speakership. It’s the 15th such battle in Congress’s history, and the ninth time that electing a speaker required more than three ballots.

Each of those times, the struggle was a litmus test of the state of party politics and the state of the nation. Our recent contest was much the same, exposing party fractures and irreconcilable differences, but unlike previous battles, it lacked a policy- and legislation-bound core. More than anything else, it was about power — a gap that reveals much about the state of the nation.

Jim Tankersley/The New York Times:

Speaker Drama Raises New Fears on Debt Limit

An emboldened conservative flank and concessions made to win votes could lead to a protracted standoff on critical fiscal issues, risking economic pain.

Economists, Wall Street analysts and political observers are warning that the concessions he made to fiscal conservatives could make it very difficult for Mr. McCarthy to muster the votes to raise the debt limit — or even put such a measure to a vote. That could prevent Congress from doing the basic tasks of keeping the government open, paying the country’s bills and avoiding default on America’s trillions of dollars in debt.

The speakership battle that spanned more than four days and 15 rounds of votes suggested President Biden and Congress could be on track later this year for the most perilous debt-limit debate since 2011, when former President Barack Obama and a new Republican majority in the House nearly defaulted on the nation’s debt before cutting an 11th-hour deal.

Rick Perlstein/New York Magazine:

INSURRECTION DAY JUNE 30, 2021

The Long Authoritarian History of the Capitol Riot

After 25 years studying the American right, I think I’ve drilled down to the irreducible core of the thing. Because in these United States everything eventually comes down to questions of commerce, I found it, appropriately enough, in a 1981 yearbook of Advertising Age, in a case study examining the work of a marketing expert the magazine had enshrined as its Adman of the Year: Richard Wirthlin, chief strategist for Ronald Reagan’s recent successful presidential campaign.

Wirthlin began his work in 1979 with an exhaustive “Survey of Voter Values and Attitudes,” in which he discovered that Reagan supporters “obtain high scores on … authoritarianism — and a low score on egalitarianism.” It continued, “Eastern European ethnic groups living in large cities … follow the same pattern, and hence were a prime target for conversion.” Thus Reagan launched his nomination campaign with “highly visible visits to such neighborhoods.”

A Wirthlin assistant was then quoted: “Reagan decided to stop the practice because he considered it exploitative.” In fact, Reagan made constant campaign stops in white ethnic neighborhoods, and God knows his appeal to authoritarians never sagged. The crucial point is that a Reagan associate even thought to claim Reagan put the kibosh on the enterprise. There’s an old saying: Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. Meaning, those who say one thing and do another are at least acknowledging that right and wrong exist. If you want to understand the evolution of Donald Trump’s Republican Party, that’s the whole rancid enchilada.

It’s always been about building a political base of authoritarians. But at least Republicans used to be sheepish about it. Donald “They’re Rapists” Trump was but a milestone in the Republican Party’s long journey toward dropping the pretense altogether. January 6, 2021, was another. Build your party’s power by actively seeking out thugs, and of course things eventually get out of hand.

And now all the obstinate right wingers get their reward – Sunday show appearances.https://t.co/Sab5oDhQt4— Natalie Jackson (@nataliemj10) January 8, 2023

Céline Gounder/The New York Times:

Grant Wahl Was a Loving Husband. I Will Always Protect His Legacy.

I knew that disinformation purveyors would blame Grant’s death on Covid vaccines, and I knew what tactics they would use to do so. I also knew that debunking what these people believe head-on in public risks giving them the attention they crave and invites further trolling. But this situation was different from the many others I’d dealt with as an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist or while serving on the Biden-Harris transition Covid Advisory Board. This was my Grant, and I needed to know what had happened to him. And I knew I had to share that information publicly: Pairing facts with empathy is the best way to disempower trolls.

Gregg Gonsalves/The Nation:

Why Are So Many People Dying? Reaping the Anti-Vaxx Whirlwind.
Though it was GOP politicians who first came for the Covid vaccines, not all vaccine resistance is partisan—or political.

What is now becoming clear is that this resistance to vaccination is leaching out of the soil of the same partisan divides—and spreading beyond aversion to Covid-19 immunization. Party affiliation is now becoming more and more associated with hesitancy toward immunization against such common childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio and chickenpox. Recent polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that more than a third of parents—up from less than a quarter in 2019—now oppose school vaccination requirements. Once again, this resistance to vaccination is concentrated among Republicans or those that lean that way; 44 percent of such parents now say they want out of these routine vaccination requirements.

I condemn this outrageous assault on #Brazil’s govt buildings incited by demagogue Bolsonaro’s reckless disregard for democratic principles. 2 yrs since Jan.6, Trump’s legacy continues to poison our hemisphere. Protecting democracy & holding malign actors to account is essential. https://t.co/BnXFXRLKm2— Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@SFRCdems) January 8, 2023

Eric Topol/The Washington Post:

The coronavirus is speaking. It’s saying it’s not done with us.

There’s no sugar-coating it: The world has let its guard down on covid-19. And the virus’s latest dominant form, XBB.1.5, makes clear that we’re doing so just as the virus finds new ways to hurt us.

The new dominant strain shows that the virus is always evolving to spread more quickly and infect us more efficiently. That should serve as a wake-up call for the country to re-invest in new vaccines, treatments and pandemic monitoring.

The XBB strain is the first fast-spreading recombinant variant — meaning it is a fusion of two omicron lineages. Its original version led to a wave of infections in Singapore. Then it added two critical mutations to become XBB.1.5, which was first detected in New York.

These two mutations maintain the high level of immune escape of XBB, while also adding more infectivity advantage, giving the virus better ability to attach itself to the receptors that get it into our cells. The variant identified has rapidly become dominant throughout the Northeast and is destined to do so across the country in the weeks ahead.

-Tesla stock crashing -Twitter likely facing lawsuits for not paying rent or severance -Ukraine holding strong, West sending more tanks -False voter fraud conspiracy theories don’t overthrow Brazil govt, lead to mass arrests -Glass Onion well received Bad few weeks for Elon Musk— Nicholas Grossman (@NGrossman81) January 9, 2023

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Fascist Bolsonaro supporters attack Congress, presidential palace in Brazilian capital

UPDATE: Sunday, Jan 8, 2023 · 9:50:25 PM +00:00

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Hunter

At least some rioters now appear to have been arrested.

UPDATE: Sunday, Jan 8, 2023 · 9:28:42 PM +00:00

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Hunter

Bloomberg now reports that law enforcement has retaken control of the Supreme Court building, but there is “extensive” damage.

UPDATE: Sunday, Jan 8, 2023 · 9:16:13 PM +00:00

·
Hunter

@LulaOficial addressing nation, begins by denouncing “fascists,” “vandals,” “nazis, stalinists…no, not stalinists, fascists” and criticizing security shortcomings. Everyone involved, he says, will be tracked down and arrested. pic.twitter.com/g4rqa0aKDs— Andre Pagliarini (@apagliar) January 8, 2023

In scenes nearly identical to those of the Jan. 6 coup attempt in this country, thousands of fascist supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro have attacked that nation’s Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential palace. Unlike the Jan. 6 coup, however, neither Congress nor the court is is session, and new Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is touring flood damage elsewhere in the country. Bolsonaro himself remains in Florida after traveling to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club for New Year celebrations.

Video shows the rioters breaking into government buildings and vandalizing exhibitions and offices after pushing through police lines. Bolsonaro’s fascist base has demanded the resignation of the new president and a military takeover of the country rather than abide Bolsonaro’s election loss; the claims are based on evidenceless claims of election fraud and are backed by many of the Republican coup plotters responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection.

While the Jan. 6 coup attempt was coordinated in order to disrupt a joint session of Congress that would certify the election that Donald Trump, an architect of the coup, sending lawmakers and Trump’s vice president fleeing until the violent rioters had been dispersed, there seems little organizational plan behind the current fascist riots that would lead to the military coup the fascists are demanding.

There is currently no word on when or how law enforcement will disperse the violent crowd.

BREAKING 🇧🇷: Bolsonaristas are invading Congress en masse in Brasilia. pic.twitter.com/6dh3rItJgH— David Adler (@davidrkadler) January 8, 2023

Unreal. The imagery of the unfolding insurrection in Brasilia is *identical* to that of the January 6 riot at the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/ymctlORIy1— David Adler (@davidrkadler) January 8, 2023

BREAKING 🇧🇷: The Bolsonaristas have now invaded the floor of the Federal Senate. pic.twitter.com/eBR5Dv2XSl— David Adler (@davidrkadler) January 8, 2023

Seems familiar pic.twitter.com/nxvdo6rLHx— Acyn (@Acyn) January 8, 2023

And once again, Twitter let election conspiracy theories run rampant after Musk dismantled all of their trust and safety teams. Now Brazil’s capitol is facing an insurrection. But unlike before, Musk has actively promoted and pushed these conspiracies. https://t.co/rKts84I4Rg pic.twitter.com/iwUIslAtb9— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) January 8, 2023

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