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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  The Story of 1/6 Just Keeps Getting Worse...
      •  ...While Anti-Democracy Views Are Taking Hold
      •  Today's the Day in Virginia...
      •  ...And in Other States, Of Course
      •  Supreme Court Hears Arguments about Texas Abortion Law

The Story of 1/6 Just Keeps Getting Worse...

The Washington Post, being located in Washington, DC, as it is, has been on top of the 1/6 insurrection as much as any media outlet. And on Halloween, the paper published a three-part exposé on the subject, divided into "before," "during," and "after." WaPo chose its publication date well, since the stories are frightening.

The purpose of the new reporting was to put all the information known about 1/6 into one place, but also to add a bunch of new things the Post's reporters have uncovered. The paper had 75 journalists working on the story, conducted over 200 interviews, and reviewed thousands of pages of documentary evidence. Here are the major takeaways/revelations:

  • The FBI blew it: After the 9/11 attacks—i.e., the last time extremists tried to undermine the U.S. government with a violent attack on Washington, D.C.—the federal government built a national network of intelligence centers. And the network did its job well, collecting all sorts of tips that made clear that a violent uprising was being planned on Jan. 6, and that specific members of Congress (notably Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT) were being targeted. However, the FBI ignored all the red flags, deeming the threats to be "aspirational" rather than viable. Director Christopher Wray should be fired yesterday.

  • The Pentagon was in a no-win situation: Donald Trump gutted much of the Department of Defense's senior leadership in the weeks before the insurrection. Those that remained largely divided into two schools of thought: (1) Trump might try to use the military to aid the insurrection, and (2) Trump wouldn't try to use the military, but his supporters would try to force the soldiers into a violent confrontation, along the lines of the Boston Massacre. Both schools of thought led to the same conclusion: The military must not be on the scene. So they weren't.

  • The Capitol Police blew it, too: With the FBI out to lunch and the Pentagon wary, it was up to the Capitol Police to maintain order. Leadership of the department did not communicate with each other, and then-Chief Steven Sund tried to pass the buck to the National Guard, and to make securing the Capitol their problem. The Pentagon declined, of course.

    Note, incidentally, that when confronted with the mere possibility of violent BLM protests, Sund and his department spent weeks planning, and prepping for all contingencies. But for whatever reason (ahem, skin color?), the officers on the ground were largely left to wing it on Jan. 6. And thanks to this near-total absence of leadership, it was an essentially impossible situation for the rank-and-file police to handle.

  • The Insurrection began early: Even before Donald Trump's speech on 1/6, there were clashes between rioters and police, to the point that tear gas was deployed. Law enforcement officials also took note of piles of unattended backpacks, an indication of large numbers of concealed weapons. What this means is that there was considerably more, and considerably earlier, warning of an attack on the Capitol than was previously known.

  • Donald Trump is guilty: The former president's words, both before and on 1/6, goaded his supporters into violent action. His closest lieutenants played a key role in planning the logistics of that day. And once the Capitol was breached, he sat on his hands for 187 minutes before responding to the entreaties of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and others to do something. Either Trump is a co-conspirator or he's guilty of criminal negligence. Nobody can read the Post's coverage and conclude he bore zero responsibility for what happened.

  • No shame: A handful of Republican members of Congress were, at least for a short period, very critical of Trump and the rioters. But those folks, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quickly fell silent. Meanwhile, the folks who encouraged the insurrection, including Trump, and those who perpetrated it, just got louder afterward about "stop the steal" and election audits.

  • The damage continues: The people who tried to protect the Capitol on 1/6 have grappled with ongoing physical and psychological issues. Meanwhile, violent and anti-democratic rhetoric has grown in prominence (more below), and election officials in at least 17 states have had their lives threatened.

  • A few heroes: All of this said, not everyone was a goat on 1/6, as there are some notable examples of folks who did what they had to do in order to hold the line. Mike Pence, of all people, probably leads the list. He had no legal right to change the election results, and he stuck to that. However, if he had tried to change the results, legally or not, he might well have precipitated a constitutional crisis, and possibly even a hot civil war. There were also key law enforcement and civilian officials who determined to take action and to restore order, even when their colleagues were running around like chickens with their heads cut off. And then there are the officers (and eventually soldiers) on the ground, who did restore order with relatively little loss of life and limb, despite so many missteps by their superiors.

Because the whole coverage package is, in effect, an indictment of Trump, the former president was afforded the opportunity to respond. WaPo even sent him a list of 37 findings they planned to publish, most of which involved him. Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich sent the paper a lengthy... rant, which served as Trump's official response. The Post decided that the response was mostly off-topic, counterfactual, and served only to propagate Trump's anti-democratic conspiratorial thinking, so they declined to publish most of it.

Naturally, this will trigger claims that Trump is being denied his "free speech" rights from people who don't actually understand the First Amendment, and will also lead approximately 100% of Trump supporters to claim media bias. But he's not entitled to respond however he sees fit, and given that one of the main themes of the Post's coverage is that ongoing, divisive rhetoric continues to make the wounds of 1/6 worse, the paper really had no other choice. Though this does mean that the Unabomber was able to get his manifesto published in the Post, but the former president was not. It's not an easy task to be even more crazy and dangerous than Ted Kaczynski. (Z)

...While Anti-Democracy Views Are Taking Hold

The Washington Post's reporting (see above) makes clear that the American democracy continues to take serious damage from Donald Trump and his supporters, nearly 10 months after the insurrection. A new poll from the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute makes the exact same point with cold, hard data. Here are the major findings:

  • A rather large percentage of Americans don't appear to be familiar with the philosophy of George Washington and the other founders of the nation. The pollsters asked about characteristics that are "important to being truly American" and majorities favored "believing in God" (56% overall, 78% of Republicans, 45% of Democrats) and "being able to speak English" (79%/93%/68%). Sizable minorities favored "being born in America" (48%/62%/43%) and "being Christian" (43%/63%/35%). Further, 8% of Americans overall, including 13% of Republicans and 6% of Democrats, think it would be better if the U.S. was primarily a nation for people of white, Western European heritage. That is essentially the platform of the Ku Klux Klan.

  • In addition, among Republicans, 80% feel that America is in danger of losing its culture and identity and 79% feel the nation needs to be "protected" from foreign invaders. Among Republicans who trust Fox as the best news source, those numbers go up to 89% and 84%, and among Republicans who trust some other right-wing outlet as the best news source, they rise to 98% and 92%. This means that in the spectrum of right-wing news outlets, Fox News is a moderate. Among Democrats, incidentally, the percentages who feel a sense of danger, and a need for "protection," are 33% and 37%.

  • Moving along, again among Republicans, 68% completely agree or mostly agree that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. Among those who trust Fox most, it's 82%. Among those who trust some other right-wing source the most, it's 97%. Among Democrats, it's 6%.

  • Yet again among Republicans, 30% think that violence might be necessary "in order to save our country." Among the fans of Fox, it's 32%. Among the fans of other right-wing outlets, it's 40%. Among Democrats, it's 11%.

  • A huge percentage of Democrats—87%—fear that eligible voters are going to be denied their right to vote in future elections. Among Republicans, it's 16%, among Fox fans it's 9%, and among the fans of other right-wing outlets it's 1%. Again, Fox is the moderate outlet on the right.

Considering this item, and the previous one, we see one irrefutable conclusion: The time has come for the Department of Justice to get serious about the insurrection. AG Merrick Garland is by nature cautious and methodical, and we've previously noted that federal prosecutions take time to piece together, and we get that.

However, even if Justice is not ready now (or ever?) to go after Trump, or Mark Meadows, or Rudy Giuliani, it has had opportunities to make a statement with its actions and has largely not taken them. The folks who have been arrested, charged, and convicted of participating have gotten slaps on the wrist. The pattern is clear enough that federal judge Beryl Howell, who happens to be Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, took the DoJ to task last week, declaring that the descriptions of crimes committed by the rioters, as reported in court filings, as compared to the relatively minor punishments meted out, was "almost schizophrenic." She added: "This is a muddled approach by the government. I'm trying to make sense of the government's position here."

And then there is the 1/6 Commission, and their request for DoJ assistance, particularly as regards the enforcement of the Steve Bannon subpoena. It's been over a week, and thus far Garland & Co. have sat on that request. The time has come for the Department to make clear that they support the 1/6 Commission—that is, the legally elected government of the United States—and will use the full extent of DoJ powers to aid the Commission in its work and to act on its findings. In nearly any other governmental context, the full cooperation and support of those in law enforcement would be a given. It is inexcusable that Garland is allowing the Commission to twist in the wind.

Whatever Garland thinks he is doing—affirming that the DoJ is above politics, or showing that he's not a presidential toady like his two or three immediate predecessors, or trying to keep further violent rebellions from breaking out—he's achieved as much as he's going to achieve. There are some who will never accept his actions as legitimate and, like the bipartisanship fetishists, it's time to wake up and smell the 2021 coffee. You gotta break some eggs to make an omelet, and if Garland doesn't break some eggs soon, it may be too late. (Z)

Today's the Day in Virginia...

As you might have heard, there are elections in Virginia today. What happens with the state's House of Delegates is probably more meaningful and more instructive, but it's the gubernatorial race between Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R) that is going to get all the attention.

We had a pretty thorough rundown of the dynamics of the gubernatorial race yesterday, and so there's no need to restate all of that today. According to the polls, the contest remains neck-and-neck, and could go either way. Sabato's Crystal Ball issued its final assessment of the race yesterday, shifting it from "Leans Democratic" to "Leans Republican." That seems about right, since Youngkin clearly has the momentum, and there are a lot of dispirited Democrats in Virginia (and elsewhere) right now. That said, anything can happen in a race this close, and it's at least possible that pollsters are having trouble accounting for early voting (which is way up this year) or are over-correcting for Trump voters who do not like to respond to pollsters. Whatever happens, we might not know the result tonight.

There is a dynamic in the race that is interesting, and that has really shown itself in the past 48 hours or so. As we have noted many times, Youngkin is holding Donald Trump at arm's length, since Trump is not very popular in Virginia. The would-be governor is running on very Trumpy issues and using some very Trumpy rhetoric, most obviously whining about critical race theory. But he is pointedly not hugging Trump close.

In many ways, Trump is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. However, he has an uncanny instinct for maintaining his political brand, which is currently "I am Dear Leader of the Republican Party." And so he recognizes that it's not great for him, and for his influence over the Party, if the most high-profile race of the year is won by someone who has had no need of Trump. Other Republicans might just take a lesson from that; that it's the rhetoric and not the man.

And that is where the interesting dynamic comes in. While Youngkin continues to stay away from Trump, Trump is desperately trying to claim credit for Youngkin. The former president issued a statement on Monday declaring that he and Youngkin are good friends, and that the duo "strongly believe in many of the same policies." On Tuesday, this dynamic was even more obviously on display, as Trump held a tele-rally for Youngkin. The gubernatorial candidate pointedly did not participate, even though all he had to do was make a phone call, just as Trump did. Meanwhile, El Donaldo managed to find just five minutes in his schedule, and he spent the entire call talking once again about what a great guy Youngkin is, and how much they are on the same page about everything.

As a sidebar, incidentally, one Youngkin supporter gave an interview to an activist group called The Good Liars, and asserted that critical race theory (CRT) is the single-most important issue in this election. That's been Youngkin's signature issue for the last couple of months. The interviewee also conceded that he couldn't explain exactly what CRT is, because "I don't understand it that much." We've had a discussion on this site recently (see here, here, and here) about Democratic messaging, and how the blue team isn't as good at marketing themselves as the red team. If Republican voters don't even insist on understanding an issue before accepting the politicians' claims of mortal peril, that may help to clarify why the red team has an easier time of things.

In any event, the big takeaway from Virginia—unless there is an unexpected McAuliffe blowout—is going to be "Uh, oh, the Democrats are in trouble!" It is understandable that the media will focus on this, since it's the biggest, shiniest data point, and since there is a propensity to assume that today's election predicts the next election.

We don't think that's a great assumption, either in general, or in the case of Virginia (and we've laid out some data to support our case). There actually is evidence out there that the Democrats have a tough 2022 ahead of them (like, say, the growing number of House Democrats who are retiring). However, we do not believe that today's results (excepting a Youngkin blowout or, possibly, a dramatic swing in the composition of the Virginia House of Delegates) are a particularly compelling indicator.

We submit for your consideration that the bigger story is actually the one we've alluded to above, namely that—win or lose—Youngkin may have found the key to running on Trumpism without Trump. Assuming it's a win, or a reasonably close loss, Republican politicians running in purple states next year (and possibly even in red states) are going to look long and hard at Youngkin's playbook. And if lots of Republicans start to keep the former president at arm's length, he is going to be furious, and he is going to lash out, with unpredictable results. (Z)

...And in Other States, Of Course

Again, Virginia is going to be the 1A story tonight and tomorrow. There is also a governor's race in New Jersey, but every poll—even those from Republican houses—has given Gov. Phil Murphy (D) a comfortable lead. Unless there is a big upset there, which will prompt a deluge of "What's wrong with polling?" stories, then Jersey will be an afterthought.

That means that the 2A story is likely going to be the mayoral races. We ran down four big ones yesterday (New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Buffalo), but there are several others. Here are a few notes about some of the other interesting ones:

  • Seattle: We picked the four cities we focused on yesterday based on size, level of drama, potential national impact, and a couple of other factors. If we'd added a fifth city to that piece, it would have been Seattle, which is larger than Buffalo or Boston, and also has had plenty of drama.

    Originally, current mayor Jenny Durkan (nonpartisan, but really D) was going to run for reelection. However, she's grown relatively unpopular as a result of her handling of the post-George Floyd protests, which were particularly large in Seattle. So, she backed out. That meant that two minority candidates advanced to the final round, M. Lorena González, who is Latina and progressive, and Bruce Harrell, who is Black and Asian-American, and is more of a moderate. Both are, like Durkan, officially nonpartisan, but really Democrats. The race has turned into a referendum on "defund the police," with González calling for a radical overhaul of policing, and Harrell favoring a more cautious approach. The campaign has been fairly nasty, particularly since González went on the attack when it became clear she was lagging Harrell in both polling and in fundraising. If she goes down to defeat, then people will say, "See, even in liberal Seattle they don't favor defunding the police."

  • Minneapolis: Speaking of defunding the police, Minneapolis has both a ballot initiative (Question 2) and a mayor's race that are centered on that issue. Mayor Jacob Frey (DFL) is moderate on the question, and has the endorsements of all the major Democrats in the state, including Gov. Tim Walz (DFL) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL). Today, Frey will face 16 challengers, many of them staunchly in favor of defunding. And the city now uses ranked-choice voting, so anything could happen. That said, if Seattle elects Harrell, Minneapolis reelects Frey, and Question 2 is defeated, it could be one-two-three strikes and you're out for defunding the police.

  • Pittsburgh: State Rep. Ed Gainey (D) is gunning to become the city's first Black mayor, and has managed to unify the state's Democratic officeholders behind him, even though some progressives were initially leery. Tony Moreno (R) is a former cop who has never held office and is running a classic outsider campaign. The city went for Joe Biden by nearly 30 points last year and hasn't elected a Republican as mayor since Herbert Hoover was in office. Presumably you don't need us to tell you who is going to win this one.

  • Miami: Mayor Francis Suarez (nonpartisan, but really R) is running for reelection against three Democrats and one member of the Socialist Workers Party. He had a Republican challenger too, in the form of Mayra Joli, who is somewhat famous as an enthusiastic, Black Donald Trump supporter. However, she was disqualified, as it turns out she does not actually live in Miami. All four of the remaining opponents are unknowns. The Mayor is popular and won election the first time with 86% of the vote. As in Pittsburgh, this is going to be a rout.

  • Detroit: This is another one where the race is officially nonpartisan, but where both candidates are Democrats. So, will it be the more moderate, white, incumbent Mike Duggan? Or will it be the more progressive, Black, former deputy mayor Anthony Adams? There has been virtually no polling, but in the primary, Duggan got 72% of the vote to Adams' 10%. On the other hand, Adams has had time to build name recognition since then, and the city is 78.3% Black. Duggan will presumably win, but it's probably not quite the slam dunk the previous two races are.

  • Cleveland: And yet another city where two Democrats have to officially claim to be nonpartisan. Mayor Frank Jackson (, nonpartisan) could have stood for a fifth term, but decided that at age 75 he's ready to retire. Or that he's finally old enough to run for president; one of those two. And so, the new mayor will be the young (34), Black, and progressive Justin Bibb, or the older (53), white, slightly more moderate Kevin Kelley. That seems to be the basic description of a lot of these contests, as you might have noticed. Kelley has actual political experience, having served as President of the Cleveland City Council since 2014. Bibb does not, though he outpolled Kelley in the primaries. So, it could presumably go either way.

  • Cincinnati: Stop us if you've heard this before. Two Democrats who are officially running as nonpartisan. A young (39), minority (Indian-American), progressive candidate in the person of Aftab Pureval. An older (82!), white, more moderate candidate in the person of David S. Mann. The main issue in this one has been corruption in city hall. Pureval is enough of an unknown that he doesn't even have a Wikipedia page, though he did collect the most votes in the primary and he's also outraised Mann. Mann, for his part, served in the U.S. House, and has twice been Cincinnati's mayor, though his time in office came when Ronald Reagan and then George H.W. Bush were in the White House. This may just underscore that he's something of a graybeard. In any event, if "clean up the corruption in city hall" is what voters care about, that generally doesn't work to the advantage of a guy who used to run city hall, even if he last did so three decades ago.

That covers most of the big cities, but it's far from an exhaustive list. St. Petersburg, FL; Topeka, KS; Annapolis, MD; Helena, MT; Concord, NH; Jersey City, NJ, Albuquerque, NM; Albany, NY; and Durham, NC, are among the others that will hold mayoral contests today. (Z)

Supreme Court Hears Arguments about Texas Abortion Law

The Supreme Court fast-tracked the case about Texas' new abortion law, with the result that it heard oral arguments yesterday. The oral arguments were not about the underlying law, but instead about the possibility of imposing an injunction until the case works its way through the court system.

The obvious message of the questioning was that a majority of the justices are skeptical about the legality of what Texas did. That includes the three liberals, of course, but there were also pointed questions from Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

That said, the questioning comes with some significant caveats. The first is that reading the Supreme Court tea leaves is often a fool's errand. The second is that the conservative justices appear to be more irritated about the Lone Star State's infringing on federal prerogatives than they are about limiting abortion. The third is that there's a very real possibility that one or more conservatives are playing up their opposition to the Texas law right now so they can appear to be "fair-minded" when they take a different position on a future abortion case.

And that takes us to the biggest caveat of them all: Even if SCOTUS rules quickly on this one, it isn't going to matter too much. In a month, they will hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which is a full-frontal assault on abortion rights, and does not make use of enforcement loopholes the way the Texas law does. Once the Court rules in Dobbs, the Texas law is likely to be mostly or entirely moot. Either the Texans will be reminded that they cannot restrict abortion rights beyond what SCOTUS has already laid out, or they'll learn that there's no longer a need for trickery and that they can pass a straightforward abortion ban. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov01 The Virginia Election is Tomorrow
Nov01 Four Cities Will Choose New Mayors Tomorrow
Nov01 Will Minneapolis Kill the Police Department?
Nov01 Democrats Are Trying to Pass the Two Infrastructure Bills by Tomorrow
Nov01 Will Women Be Angry at the Democrats Due to Paid Leave Being Cut?
Nov01 Biden's Approval Sinks to 42%
Nov01 Adam Kinzinger Won't Seek Reelection
Nov01 Letitia James is Officially Running for Governor
Nov01 Many Jan. 6 Rioters Are Running for Public Office Now
Nov01 Missouri AG Files Suit Against Vaccine Mandate
Nov01 North Carolina Releases Its New House Map
Nov01 Susan Collins Casts Her 8,000th Vote in the Senate
Oct31 Sunday Mailbag
Oct30 Saturday Q&A
Oct29 Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Oct29 What Is Kyrsten Sinema Doing?
Oct29 Joe to Meet with Jorge
Oct29 This Week's 2022 Candidate News
Oct29 Fox Weather Channel Sloganeering, Part I
Oct29 This Week in Schadenfreude
Oct29 Back to the Back to the Future, Part XII: Other
Oct28 The Sausage Making Continues
Oct28 Former Trump Staffers Are Spilling the Beans
Oct28 McConnell Concedes and Endorses Herschel Walker
Oct28 Trump Endorsees Have Troubled Histories
Oct28 Biden Nominates and Senate Confirms Two Top Trump Targets
Oct28 Secretaries of State Targeted by Trump Are Scared to Death
Oct28 Top Washington Republican Election Official Joins Biden Administration
Oct28 Three New Gubernatorial Candidates Are In
Oct28 Is "Evangelical" Just a Synonym for "Republican"?
Oct27 The Democrats' Nightmare Situation?
Oct27 The Democrats' Dream Situation?
Oct27 Let's Go Brandon
Oct27 This Is How They Do It in Brazil
Oct27 Mort Sahl, 1927-2021
Oct27 Fox to Launch Weather Channel
Oct27 Back to the Back to the Future, Part XI: Domestic Affairs
Oct26 The Insurrection Will Soon Be Televised
Oct26 Some Presidents Get to Keep Their Secrets, Others Don't
Oct26 Democrats Go Boldly Where No Tax Has Gone Before
Oct26 The Facebook Papers Drop
Oct26 Biden Finally Gets His FCC House in Order
Oct26 Back to the Back to the Future, Part X: Foreign Affairs
Oct25 One of These Is Not Like the Other
Oct25 Biden Met with Manchin Again
Oct25 Democrats May Be Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Oct25 Some Senators Don't Belong There
Oct25 The Jan. 6 Riot Was Only a Small Part of the Coup Attempt
Oct25 Vance Whacked for Formerly Being Anti-Trump
Oct25 Montana Gets a New House District--and a Big Fight over It