• Arizona, Pennsylvania Counties Offer Potential 2024 Preview
• Trump Criticism Still Verboten...
• ...But It's OK to Go After Ronna Romney McDaniel
• McCarthy Warns Republican Conference about "Playing Games"
• Rep. Donald McEachin Dead at 61
• The World Cup: U.S.-Iran Matchup Has Much Ugliness
• Today's Senate Polls
Politics makes strange bedfellows, as they say. And so it is that recent events could well cause Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and their fellow Democrats to take sides with the Republicans against organized labor.
The issue here is the massive railway strike that has been looming now for the better part of 6 months. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh was sent in to resolve the matter and, after a marathon bargaining session, everyone thought a deal had been hammered out. However, you can never be sure until the rank-and-file membership signs off. And while eight of the 12 unions involved in the negotiations gave their blessing, the other four said "no." So, too, have the railroads. Needless to say, when labor wants more and management wants more, that leaves no room for compromise. So, a strike could come as soon as Dec. 9, at least theoretically.
For the White House, however, a strike is a problem. A big problem. The economy still hasn't fully straightened itself out after the pandemic. And it the nation's trains stopped running on Dec. 9, then it would not be pretty. The first thing affected would be the energy markets. As you may have heard, that's already an Achilles' heel for this administration. Eventually, the whole holiday season would affected. Good luck getting that turkey from Minnesota or that package from New York or that tree from North Carolina if there are no trains running.
To that end, Biden wants to (preemptively) break the strike. That is to say, he wants Congress to exercise its authority to impose the settlement agreed to back in September. Pelosi is on board, and will bring the matter up for a vote today. Assuming it clears the House, which it presumably will, then Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will do his part. Republicans have been urging this course of action since October, so presumably they will vote in favor, or at least won't get in the way. That said, the House GOP Conference has quite a reputation for doing whatever they think will hurt the Democrats, and the Senate GOP conference isn't much better on that front. So, don't consider it a done deal until it's a done deal.
If Biden does succeed in imposing a deal, we will see what happens to his self-styled reputation as a "pro-labor president." Certainly, imposing a deal that two-thirds of the unions are OK with, and that management isn't happy about, is nowhere near as anti-labor as sending the troops in to break a strike (like, say, Calvin Coolidge and Grover Cleveland did). On the other hand, it's not exactly labor-friendly. That said, wrecking the U.S. economy right before Christmas would be disastrous for the White House, so this was surely an easy call, if an unpleasant one. (Z)
The Republicans did not do well in Pennsylvania and Arizona this cycle. The explanation that we're going with is that the Party ran lousy candidates on a platform that many voters found odious. However, the functionaries who are responsible for certifying the results in some counties have a very different explanation, namely that there must have been some sort of fraud. They can't say exactly what fraud took place, or how many votes were affected. They certainly can't provide proof. But they're convinced, dadgumit. And so they want more time to investigate and find the proof. Or make up the proof, if it comes to that.
There's one small problem, however. The deadline for certifying results in those states arrives this week. The canvassing boards had their opportunity, and weren't able to seize it, and that is that. They are now legally required to perform their duties and to make it official.
In some Republican-controlled counties, the elections boards are either in touch with reality or in touch with the fact that they do not wish to go to jail. In Maricopa County in Arizona, for example, the board held a lengthy public meeting in which all manner of nutty private citizens were allowed to have their say. And once those folks had shared their conspiratorial views, the all-Republican board promptly voted to certify the election. Similarly, the all-Republican board in Mohave County in Arizona was planning to withhold certification, but once it became clear that could lead to a visit to the hoosegow, they backed down and signed off on the results.
On the other hand, the folks responsible for certifying in Cochise County in Arizona say they're not going to do their job until they've had much more time to "investigate." The elections board in Luzerne County is making the same threat, though it looks like they might also back down before the deadline arrives on Friday. If the elections board members in either place, or both, stick to their guns, they are going to get sued and they are going to lose. Criminal charges are also possible, and with them another loss.
At a glance, this would appear to be bad news for the democracy—that the people charged with affirming election results are willing to reject them just because they don't like the outcome. However, we would suggest a different interpretation. The great majority of officials are falling into line, either because they believe in the process or because they fear punishment. And those who don't fall into line will quickly be forced to do so, at the business end of a judge's gavel. In turn, these temper tantrums will serve as yet another illustration that "stop the steal" is nonsense, while also reaffirming legal precedents that say "you can't do this." In other words, we would say that instead of making it easier to push back against the 2024 results, these folks are making it harder. (Z)
What's worse than having to write one item about Donald Trump's dinner partners? Having to write two items about Donald Trump's dinner partners. But what can we say? When the news breaks, we fix it.
As we noted yesterday, Trump had dinner last Tuesday with Ye (nee Kanye West). And Ye brought along several friends, among them antisemite, white supremacist, and all-around deplorable Nick Fuentes. When this news broke, Trump first denied that the dinner happened, and then said it happened but he had no idea who Fuentes was, and then said that it didn't matter about Fuentes because he (Trump) was just trying to help his good (Black) buddy Ye. (As a sidebar, all the attention has been on Fuentes, but let us note that Ye is also a terrible human being and also someone that a would-be president should not be dining with.)
Trump's fellow Republicans have now had plenty of time to respond to this news (and every Republican in Congress has been asked about it by reporters), and their responses have been... interesting. Take a look at the headlines from Politico and The Hill:
These headlines tell very different stories. And yet, if you read the stories (see here and here) they both rely on the same quotes from the same people (mostly U.S. Senators). The reason for the variance is that while a fair number of Republicans have expressed "concern" (guess who?) about Trump's dinner companions, very few of them are willing to directly criticize or condemn Trump. So, from one vantage point, they're saying a lot. From another vantage point, they're not saying anything at all.
Anyhow, the reason we write it up is this: Not only did Trump blow the midterms for the Republican Party, but he also spent the weekend consorting with a pair of unapologetic bigots. Yet still, most Republicans are just too frightened to challenge the throne. It's a results-based business, and the poor midterm results might have broken his hold, with the white supremacist dinner giving Party members an excuse to make the break. But, once again, it's not happening. And that, in turn, means that even if they don't want him to run for president, they're not going to do a damn thing to try to stop him from getting the nomination. And all he really needs is for the pooh-bahs and the muckety-mucks to sit on their hands. (Z)
Republican politicians largely remain unwilling to directly the challenge the Dear Leader. And so, the emperor will get away with having no clothes for a while longer. On the other hand, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel is fair game. The Republicans' terrible midterms are Donald Trump's fault far more than hers, but she's far less dangerous to criticize. And so, she's become a popular whipping girl. The latest to indulge is Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD), who appeared on Fox to share her view that Romney McDaniel has to go. "We need to win. That's just the fact. Our kids' future depends on it," the Governor explained.
Of course, you can't replace someone with no one, and former representative Lee Zeldin has yet to throw his hat in the ring. So, who might take on the job if Romney McDaniel gets cashiered. How about... wait for it... the MyPillow Guy? That's right. Yesterday, Mike Lindell announced that he is running to lead the Republican Party. "I'm all in," he explained, "and one of the things that one of the big donors said to me, he said, 'Mike, everybody wants you to be head of the RNC, some of them just don't know it yet.'"
It sounds like the power of positive delusion to us, but who knows? If dissatisfaction with the current chair keeps growing, and Lindell is the only alternative, and the MAGA folks are running the show, anything could happen. (Z)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appeared yesterday on Newsmax, which apparently still exists. He was appearing on the show of Sean Spicer, who apparently still exists. And the point of the appearance was to stage a softball interview in which Spicer set up the pins so that McCarthy could knock them down. After the host waxed poetically about how very much McCarthy has done for Republican members of the House, raising over $500 million for them, he yielded the mic to the Representative. Once the floor was his, McCarthy declared:
We got five more weeks. We're working through our conference rules today. We want to make sure that everybody has input, but we have to speak as one voice. We will only be successful if we work together or we'll lose individually.
This is very fragile that we are the only stopgap for this Biden administration. And if we don't do this right, the Democrats can take the majority. If we play games on the floor, the Democrats could end up picking who the speaker is.
If McCarthy wants to speak to a Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) or a Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), he can do it directly without the need to go on TV. The reason he submits to this sort of hassle is to address the sort of far-right voters who make up Greene's base or Gaetz' base. The Minority Leader's hope is that some of those voters will contact their representative and insist they fall in line behind him.
Now, is there anything in particular that has put a bee in McCarthy's bonnet? Maybe. Reader P.F. in Fairbanks, AK, sent us this news item about the Alaska state Senate. It seems that, after the recent elections there, the upper chamber is made up of 8 Democrats, 8 normal Republicans and 3 whackadoodle Republicans. The 8 normal Republicans did not want to spend the next 2 years dealing with their whackadoodle colleagues. And so, they agreed to form a 16-member Democrat-normal Republican majority, with the 3 whackadoodle Republicans on the outside looking in. Perhaps the Minority Leader is worried that when his colleagues hear about this, perhaps from Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK), they'll start to get... ideas. (Z)
Virginia Democrat Donald McEachin, who was just reelected to a fourth term in the House of Representatives, battled cancer throughout his Washington career. The disease finally overtook him yesterday, just a few weeks after his 61st birthday.
McEachin led a very interesting life. He was born in Nuremberg, in what was then West Germany, and he lived in several places around the world as his father's military postings dictated. He returned to the United States for college, and got an undergraduate degree in political history and then postgraduate degrees in both law and divinity. Thereafter, during the regular week he ran his successful law practice and on Sundays he preached.
McEachin made his move into politics in 1995, serving three terms in the Virginia House, and then became the first Black man to run for Virginia AG (he lost). He regained his state House seat in 2005, and then spent 8 years in the Virginia state Senate before running for and winning the U.S. House seat representing VA-04. During his term of service in the House, the Representative made national headlines with his aggressive gun control views. When various towns and counties in Virginia adopted resolutions in 2019 declaring themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries, where the state's gun laws would not be enforced, McEachin suggested that then-Gov. Ralph Northam send the Virginia National Guard in to start confiscating guns. The Governor did not take the Representative's advice.
Sometime next year, an election will be held to determine McEachin's replacement. The district is D+10, and the majority of the Democrats who make it so are Black. So, the next person to represent VA-04 figures to be another Black Democrat. But until then, there is one fewer person to vote on things like Speaker of the House. If all 434 members show up and cast votes, then it would still take 218 votes to get over the top. But the absence of the VA-04 vote means that if one representative misses work, or one representative votes "present," then the hill becomes one vote easier for Kevin McCarthy to climb. This sort of vulgar math will be performed anytime a representative passes away in the next two years.
McEachin's last public appearance was at a screening of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. That is a movie that is very clearly missing actor Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 of the same type of cancer (colorectal) that claimed the Representative's life. Speaking to reporters after, McEachin urged people to get preventative cancer screenings. That's good advice; the CDC has information and resources right here. (Z)
People watch sports for the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. The thrill of oppression, the agony of torture? Not so much.
As readers will know by now, Iran has recently been providing an object lesson in the downsides to extremism. On Sept. 16, Mahsa Amini was wearing her hijab in a manner that left some of her hair visible. The Guidance Patrol, which is the Iranian force charged with policing religious morality, arrested Amini and beat her to death while she was in custody. There have been ongoing mass protests in Iran ever since, in which many women have flouted the hijab rules. This would seem to be the opposite outcome from what the morality cops were going for. Unfortunately, at least 300 people have been killed by the Iranian government during the unrest. And that number is probably low, since Iranian security forces have developed a habit of opening fire on crowds, and letting the bullets (and bodies) fall where they may.
This is the background for the World Cup match being staged between the United States and Iran today. These nations are not exactly the best of friends as it is, and the behavior of the Iranian regime has not helped things. This weekend, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), looking to signal its solidarity with the protesters, fired up a copy of Photoshop and removed the emblem of the Islamic State from the Iranian flag. Throughout the weekend, the USSF used the doctored flag in social media posts about the match. The government of Iran is hopping mad, which is hardly a surprise. After all, imagine the response in the U.S., particularly in certain states that rhyme with Vex Us, if the Iranian Soccer Federation had defaced the American Flag. Iran's leaders want the U.S. to be tossed out of the tournament, though FIFA has declined to take any action.
It is understandable why the folks at the USSF made the choices they did, since nearly everyone except the government of Iran stands with the protesters. That includes... the members of the Iranian national team. Those players declined to sing the Iranian national anthem prior to their game against England. This did not go over well with Iranian authorities, as you might imagine. So, members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps had a chat with the Iranian players, and advised them they better sing today and mean it. If not, their families will face "violence and torture."
These international sporting events were conceived as a way to foster international understanding and cooperation. It does not seem to be working. Maybe there is something to the notion that if a country can't meet a certain base level of regard for human rights, they can't come to the party. Or host the party, for that matter. (Z)
Looks like that runoff election in Georgia is going to be close. Thank goodness for polls, otherwise we would have had no idea.
Also, it is interesting that polling is no longer just a small college game. High schools, like Phillips Academy, are jumping in, too. Can East Cupcake Junior High be far behind? (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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