Now that the week is over, most of the results from Tuesday are known. On Thursday, three more outcomes—in Georgia, New Jersey, and Virginia, respectively—became clear.
The Georgia news is probably the least consequential, but we're going in alphabetical order here, so they get to go first. When the day ended on Tuesday, it was clear that the Atlanta mayoral race was headed to a runoff, and that City Council President Felicia Moore, the leading vote getter, would be advancing to the next round. But would her opponent be Councilman Andre Dickens or former mayor Kasim Reed? Now we know it will be Dickens. Reed concluded that he was not going to be able to overcome the 600-vote gap that had opened up, and so he conceded. The final round of voting will take place on November 30; it's s shame they couldn't push it one day, since December is the perfect month for Dickens stories. All of these folks are "nonpartisan" Democrats, incidentally.
Meanwhile, the most powerful legislator in New Jersey, Senate president Steve Sweeney (D), has been declared a loser by all the major media outlets. He got caught up in the anti-Democratic backlash, but was also hurt by his longstanding practice of machine politics and the attendant corruption that implies. His replacement is Ed Durr (R), a political newbie who barely campaigned. When asked what he would do in office, Durr said: "I really don't know." That district hasn't elected a Republican to the state Senate since before (Z) was born (though one incumbent, Raymond Zane, did switch parties midway through his term—and was promptly defeated). We assume that this means that when the Democrats put up a less problematic candidate in a couple of years, the Party will be favored to win the seat back.
And finally, it is now clear that the Democrats will not retain control of the Virginia House of Delegates. At this point, 50 races have been called for Republicans, 46 have been called for Democrats, and 4 are undecided. Even if the Democrats claim all of the undecided races, it would be an even split, and would result in a power-sharing agreement. If the Republicans claim just one of the undecided races, then it will be a Republican majority. Either way, it's a sizable shift from the current 55-45 Democratic majority. That said, the state Senate will remain under Democratic control, 21-19, until 2024, so the Old Dominion State is looking at a minimum of two years of divided government.
That resolves most of the remaining drama, excepting elections that are headed to a runoff (e.g., Atlanta mayor) and those that are headed to a recount (e.g., the Democratic primary in FL-20). (Z)
Illinois hammered out its post-2020 census district map last week, and Iowa was not far behind, It's prime mapping time for Midwestern states whose names start with an "I," though apparently the slackers in Indiana didn't get the memo. Maybe they need Bobby Knight to throw a chair at them for some motivation.
Here is the new Iowa map, which Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed into law yesterday:
The first, second, and third districts will all be competitive, while the fourth district will be a safe Republican district. That is a pretty fair representation of Iowa voters, which is the kind of thing that happens when the maps are drawn by a nonpartisan commission.
There will likely be some musical chairs prompted by the new map. Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks (R), who won one of the narrowest victories in history last year, has a decision to make. She represents the current IA-02, but resides in the future IA-03. If Miller-Meeks stays in IA-02, she'll face Rep. Ashley Hinson (R), who represents the current IA-01, but has already said she's running for reelection in IA-02. If Miller-Meeks jumps to the new IA-03, she will hope that Rep. Cindy Axne (D) follows through on possible plans to run for governor. Whatever happens, Rep. Randy Feenstra (R) will stay in IA-04, while IA-01 is likely to be an open seat. The latter is going to get a lot of attention from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (Z)
Ohio's name does not start with an "I," except maybe in Latin (no, wait—that's Jehovah). Nonetheless, the Buckeye State is among those states in the Midwest that is trying to get its district map worked out. Here is the draft map the Ohio House released on Wednesday (the Ohio Senate also has a map, but it's not terribly different):
This is pretty much the polar opposite of the Iowa map above, as Ohio has a Republican trifecta, and there's nothing stopping them from gerrymandering to their heart's contents. The most noticeable thing about the map is that great care has been taken to chop the most urban counties into pieces. Notice Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) up there in the north (by #11), or Franklin County (Columbus) in the middle (under #3), or Hamilton County (Cincinnati) in the southwest (under #1).
Ohio is losing a seat, but state Republicans are going to try to take that lemon and make lemonade, albeit by taking some risks. The state's current delegation is 12 Republicans and 4 Democrats; the new maps are set up to try to give the Republicans a 13-2 advantage. On one hand, that means that the Republicans are giving themselves very small margins of error. On the other hand, the Ohioans are Olympic-class when it comes to effective gerrymandering. There have been 82 House elections held under the current map, and in those, the incumbent party has won...82 times. That's right, Ohio hasn't had a single seat flip in the last five elections. You can look at the Wikipedia chart for the Ohio U.S. House delegation if you find that hard to believe:
In short, until presented with evidence to the contrary, assume that the Ohio gerrymanderers, if they want a 13/2 delegation, are going to get a 13/2 delegation. Of course, that's something of a slap in the face of democracy, given that the state most certainly is not 86.7% Republican. (Z)
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) appeared, last week, at one of the seemingly endless Republican dog and pony shows that would-be presidential candidates have to subject themselves to (specifically, the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, FL). And he shared a somewhat significant piece of news, albeit one that could have been guessed: If Donald Trump runs for president in 2024, Hawley will not mount a bid. Spoken like a true aspiring VP candidate.
That said, Hawley's revelation got lost in the shuffle, primarily because he gave a wildly over the top speech with a wildly over the top thesis. And that gives us an opportunity to put together v1.0 of our 2024 presidential candidate talking-point generator. Start with the following statement:
"Democrats' attacks on [A] are driving [B] to [C] and [D] ."
Now, fill in the blanks, Mad Lib-style, with one selection each from the appropriate columns:
|Column A||Column B||Column C||Column D|
|Christianity||senior citizens||drugs||a life devoid of purpose|
|family values||married women||adultery||reckless driving|
|masculinity||our young people||rooting for the Chicago Bears||an early grave|
|Donald Trump||veterans||alcoholism||Satan worship|
|the flag||God-fearing Christians||a life of crime||urban violence|
|marriage||working people||pornography||problem gambling|
|our families||white people||communism||hating America|
|schools||men||a life of misery||mental disease|
|small business owners||farmers||atheism||video games|
If you would prefer to flip the script...
"Republicans' attacks on [A] are driving [B] to [C] and [D] ."
You actually don't have to adjust all that much:
|Column A||Column B||Column C||Column D|
|free speech||LGBTQ youth||drugs||poverty|
|family values||single women||unprotected sex||drunken driving|
|women's rights||students||a sexless existence||an early grave|
|Hillary Clinton||the uninsured||alcoholism||Satan worship|
|the working class||Muslims||a life of crime||enrollment at USC|
|the environment||working people||pornography||vaping|
|democracy||minorities||fascism||relocation to Canada|
|school boards||immigrants||a life without purpose||mental disease|
|labor unions||hourly workers||religious cults||video games|
Many of these things are serious issues, of course, and we do not mean to suggest otherwise. We're merely looking askance at facile, meaningless talking points.
Oh, and Hawley's speech was entitled "Future of the American Man," and its main thesis was that Democrats' attacks on manhood are driving men to pornography and video games. See, he knows how to play this game! (Z)
The lawsuits are flying fast and furious these days, and we have three today where there is something worth noting. Going in chronological order, Donald Trump's people filed a lawsuit a couple of weeks ago asking the federal courts to extend executive privilege to him, since Joe Biden has refused to do so. Judge Tanya Chutkan held a hearing this week, and was not impressed with Team Trump's argument.
While Chutkan did say she might trim the wings of the request made by the 1/6 Committee, suggesting it could be too broad in some places, she had mostly vitriol for the former president's lawyers. Specifically, Chutkan found ludicrous the assertion that documents related to the insurrection, and the White House conversations held before and during that day, are Trump's personal business, and have no relevance to the work of the 1/6 Committee. "Are you really saying that the President's notes, talking points, telephone conversations, on January 6, have no relation to the matter on which Congress is considering legislation?" Chutkan wondered. "The January 6 riot happened in the Capitol. That is literally Congress' house."
The Judge was also unimpressed with a request that the Court review every single document before it is released to the Committee. She knows a deliberate attempt to delay when she sees one and said as much, scolding Trump's attorneys and estimating that it would take "years" to conduct such a review.
The White House has said it will start releasing the requested documents next week. Based on the hearing, it seems clear that Chutkan (or Judge Beryl A. Howell, who has also held hearings on this general subject) will not be lifting a gavel to stop the administration from doing so. (Z)
Donald Trump is not the only president whose people know how to file a lawsuit. OK, the Department of Justice isn't exactly Joe Biden's people (certainly not in the way that the Department was Trump's people), but they do still work under him. And the DoJ have decided that it does not like the new restrictions that Texas has imposed on voting, and so has sued.
Not everything that the Texans did is illegal, even if much of it is less than admirable. However, the DoJ does believe that the state's limits on mail-in-voting and on voter assistance are a violation of federal civil rights laws. So, those are the focus of the lawsuit. Various other citizens' groups had already sued, which means that somebody with standing is eventually going to get before a judge in order to make their case. Whether they will win is a different matter, since most federal judges in Texas are quite conservative.
Meanwhile, the Merrick Garland-led DoJ continues to remain silent about Steve Bannon and other Congressional subpoena defiers. (Z)
The Lord giveth, and he taketh away. And the Biden administration sueth, and it gets sued. So it was on Friday, just about 12 hours after the DoJ filed the Texas lawsuit noted above. The Friday suits, which come from the state of Florida and the website The Daily Wire are a preemptive effort to stop the White House from imposing a vaccination mandate on businesses with 100 or more employees, currently set to take effect after the holiday season.
This question, it should be noted, is already a settled question of law. In a 7-2 decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), the Supreme Court declared that individual liberty is not absolute, and that vaccine mandates are acceptable as part of the police power of the state. That particular case dealt with a state-level mandate, but there is no reason that the federal government should have less police power than an individual state.
It could be that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Daily Wire publisher emeritus Ben Shapiro think that conservative judges, and the passage of 116 years, will lead to a reversal. It is doubtful that they think that, however, and if they do, it is doubtful they are correct. This issue has come up over and over again, including several times in the last year, and the courts have consistently stuck with Jacobson. It is considerably more likely that this is just a cheap ploy for attention, to drive donors and voters in DeSantis' direction and new subscribers in Shapiro's direction. Since both men are skilled in executing cheap ploys for attention, this would be consistent with their usual modus operandi. (Z)
When Saturday Night Live hit the airwaves in the 1970s, they were under the very watchful eye of a series of network censors (the formal name of the department is "standards and practices"). And the young, drug-using, anti-establishment, rebellious latter-day hippies who produced and created the show learned that if they distracted the network censor with something really tasteless, they could sneak past the somewhat less problematic jokes they really wanted to get on air. That's how early faux commercials for "Pussy Whip" and "The Hershey Highway" made the cut.
What is the relevance of that tidbit? We'll get to that later. For now, we will remind you that back in July, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) published a list of 12 people who are responsible for nearly two-thirds of vaccine misinformation on Facebook. And this week, the CCDH was back with a new list, following that same model, of the "Toxic Ten," who are responsible for more than two-thirds of the climate change denial on the social media platform. Here is the list:
We pass this list along for two reasons. The first is that Republicans and right-wing outlets constantly whine and moan about censorship by the social media platforms. They know full well that is not true. But, like the writers on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s, such kvetching is a useful distraction that causes those who might censor them to allow many things to slide.
The second reason we mention this is this: Isn't it remarkable how the goals of the American right, the petroleum industry, and the Russian government are almost completely in alignment? Is there any major issue in American politics where one of that trio substantially disagrees with the other members of the trio? (Z)
The folks responsible for global warming misinformation (see above) are dishonest and disingenuous. But they also have accomplices in their campaigns of lies. As we (and others) have noted many times, Facebook leadership knows full well that their platform is used all the time for lies, hatred, and other harmful rhetoric. And the platform takes a pretty passive approach to policing content, since Mark Zuckerberg & Co. don't want the bad PR that comes from right-wing bellyaching, and since outrageous/outlandish/apoplexy-triggering content drives eyeballs to the site and so fattens Facebook's profits.
Because Facebook is, well, kinda evil, it's nice when Mark Zuckerberg ends up with at least a little egg on his face. And so it is with the big reveal of the new name of Facebook's parent company, which is now known as "Meta," since the focus is ostensibly the "Metaverse." Team Facebook seems to have forgotten the first rule of rebranding, however: look the new name up in a bunch of foreign language dictionaries, to make sure it doesn't translate in an embarrassing way. And so, Hebrew speakers have been having some fun at Facebook's expense this week, since "meta" sounds like that language's word for "dead." In fact, for several hours after the announcement, #FacebookDead was trending on Twitter.
This is not as bad as it could be. One of the reasons Exxon picked that name is because before it was Exxon it was ESSO and ENCO in various countries, and ENCO means "stalled car" in Japanese. "Exxon" was chosen as the name because no language has a double xx in any word, as all the anti-vaxxers well know. But although Exxon decided to yield, Zuckerberg seems to be rather stubborn. So, he will probably stick with Meta. And Hebrew-speaking people will probably have a chuckle, and maybe a little sense of schadenfreude whenever they see it. (Z)