Tuesday Reads

Solitude (Lonliness), Paul Delvaux, 1956

Solitude (Loneliness), Paul Delvaux, 1956

Good Morning!!

As Daknikat wrote yesterday, it looks as if Republicans will win enough seats to control the House with a very small majority. But they won’t be able to do much. I suppose they’ll spend their time and energy investigating Hunter Biden and any other crackpot problem they can dream up. The good news is than Lauren Bobert’s seat is still undecided for now.

AP News: California wins leave GOP poised to seize US House control.

Two threatened U.S. House Republicans in California triumphed over Democratic challengers Monday, helping move the GOP within a seat of seizing control of the chamber while a string of congressional races in the state remained in play.

In a bitter fight southeast of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Michelle Steel defeated Democrat Jay Chen in a district that was specifically drawn to give Asian Americans, who comprise the largest group in the district, a stronger voice on Capitol Hill. It includes the nation’s largest Vietnamese community.

East of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Ken Calvert notched a win over Democrat Will Rollins. With 80% of the votes tallied, Calvert, the longest serving Republican in the California congressional delegation, established a nearly 5,500-vote edge in the contest.

Ten races in the state remained undecided as vote-counting continued, though only a handful were seen as tight enough to break either way.

It takes 218 seats to control the House. Republicans have locked down 217 seats so far, with Democrats claiming 205.

Should Democrats fail to protect their fragile majority, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield would be in line to replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.

Read about the remaining undecided races at the link.

The Independent: Lauren Boebert – live: Republican under fire for ‘embarrassing’ tweet as she leads race by just 1,200 votes.

Lauren Boebert has taken aim at Nancy Pelosi and called for the House Speaker’s ousting while her own future in politics continues to hang in the balance.

“Waiting this long for election results is going to make firing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House that much sweeter,” she wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Automat, Edward Hopper

Automat, Edward Hopper

Republicans are just one seat away from control of the House of Representatives, with the balance of power potentially hinging on th eoutcome of Ms Boebert’s race among serveral others that have not yet been decided.

Ms Boebert’s race is still too close to call and it is unlikely that the outcome will be known until the end of the week – at the soonest.

The far-right Republican is currently leading Democratic challenger Adam Frisch by just 1,122 votes in what has shaped up to be an unexpectedly close race. The race could be headed for an automatic recount if neither candidate fails to win by a margin of more than 0.5 per cent.

If only she would lose! This is from Newsweek yesterday: Lauren Boebert in Danger as Rejected Mail-in Ballot Checks Could Help Rival.

The race for Colorado’s third congressional district remains too close to be called, as Trump-endorsed Rep. Lauren Boebert is currently only slightly ahead of her rival, Democrat Adam Frisch.

But the incumbent congresswoman’s narrow lead could once again be overturned if thousands of likely rejected votes in favor of her challenger were to be “cured”, as a recount looms over the Colorado race.

Every year in Colorado, thousands of ballots are reportedly rejected for issues related to signature verification, such as a missing signature or a discrepancy in the signature. Local officials then alert voters of the issue, giving them a week to fix the problem and make their vote count. The process, which is done in 23 other state besides Colorado, is called “ballot curing.”

Boebert was widely projected to win the midterms, with polling website FiveThirtyEight giving her a 97 in 100 chance of victory in the days ahead of the vote.

As of November 14 and with nearly all of the ballots being counted, Boebert is leading with 50.1 percent of the vote (162,040 votes) against Frisch’s 49.8 percent (160,918 votes).

A recount could be called if the final margin between Boebert and Frisch is less than or equal to 0.5 percent of the leading candidate’s vote total. At the moment, the gap between the two candidates is 0.38 percent.

Frisch could still oust the Republican incumbent, an election denier and one of Donald Trump‘s most ardent supporters, if thousands of votes likely rejected for signature verification were cast in support of the Democratic nominee.

So it’s still up in the air.

In Arizona, Katie Hobbs finally triumphed in the race for governor. AZ Central: Katie Hobbs elected Arizona’s 5th female governor, defeating election denier Kari Lake.

Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic election chief who built a national profile by standing up to false claims about the 2020 presidential election, has won the state’s race for governor.

The Associated Press, NBC News and CNN called the race for Hobbs shortly after 7 p.m. Monday, following a nail-biter week of election returns that highlighted the competitiveness of politics in the state.

the-lonely-ones-1935, edvard Munch

The Lonely Ones, by Edvard Munch, 1935

“Democracy is worth the wait,” Hobbs posted on social media before issuing a statement thanking her family, volunteers and staff for their work.

“This was not just about an election — it was about moving this state forward and facing the challenges of our generation,” the statement read, ending: “Let’s get to work.”

Late-in-the-race polling showed her Republican opponent Kari Lake, the former television news anchor, with the momentum as Nov. 8 neared. Instead, voters offered a stunning rebuke of Lake, who was one of the nation’s most prominent election deniers.

With Hobbs’ win, Arizonans followed voters in other battleground states who rejected gubernatorial candidates who pushed false claims about election results.

As Arizona’s 24th governor, Hobbs will be the fifth female to hold the top elected office, more than in any other state.

That’s amazing. We just finally got our first female governor here in Massachusetts.

Donald Trump is supposedly announcing that he’s running for president today, and The New York Times and Washington Post can hardly wait. The NYT even hired another “Trump whisperer” to go along with their star access journalist Maggie Haberman. This is from Emptywheel: In the Wake of Trump’s Third Electoral Failure, NY Times Boasts of Hiring a Third Trump Whisperer.

…Jonathan Swan is a good reporter. Indeed, his move to the NYT, which frees him to write like a human being rather than a McKinsey consultant (AKA Axios style), will likely be a significant improvement on his coverage of DC politics.

But it is downright insane that, at a time the GOP and Fox News are at least making noise about ditching Trump, the NYT pitched this hire — and their own political reporting — in terms of Trump.

Our insightful, authoritative and addictive coverage of the election this year drove home an essential truth: The Times’s political team is simply the best in the business.

Take our coverage of Republicans and Donald J. Trump.

We have Maggie Haberman, the dominant reporter of the Trump era, whose prolific, revealing and exclusive coverage has become indispensable to millions of readers. We have Michael Bender, whom Maggie admired as her “fierce competitor” from his days at The Wall Street Journal, and who has delivered exclusives on everything from the former president’s plans to buy Greenland to examinations of how Trumpism remade the Republican party.

And today we are thrilled to tell you that Jonathan Swan, a gifted, dogged and high-impact reporter, will be joining The Times. Jonathan, a national political reporter at Axios, is one of the biggest news breakers and best-sourced reporters in Washington.

Even if you have never met Jonathan, you know his stories. He first reported that Trump would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate deal, that Steve Bannon would be fired and that Paul Ryan would retire from Congress.

Or perhaps you watched his riveting interview with then-President Trump in 2020, which won Jonathan an Emmy (and made his facial expressions famous.) Ben Smith, the former media columnist for The Times, wrote at the time that it was “perhaps the best interview of Mr. Trump’s term.’’

Jonathan’s nine-part written series on the final days of the Trump administration won broad acclaim, and the podcast on which it was based rose to No. 1 on the Apple charts. [my emphasis]

Alan_Parry_ Weekend Retreat

Weekend Retreat, by Alan Parry

Again, I think the Swan hire is a net good for reporting — but aside from the degree to which Swan is an improvement over Jonathan Martin, who just moved to become Politico’s Politics Bureau Chief — that has nothing to do with the NYT.

Particularly accompanied as it is by Maggie’s multiple efforts to suggest Trump is still The One, the pitch of Swan as a Trump-whisperer — rather than simply as a very good reporter of right wing politics — this announcement commits to keeping Trump (as a politician, rather than, for example, a criminal suspect, something none of these three are very good at reporting) the center of attention.

The Washington Post article hyping Trump’s announcement–two years ahead of the 2024 election–of courses features gossip reporters Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey: Trump campaign operation takes shape ahead of expected 2024 announcement.

Really, who the hell cares? Why don’t these newspapers cover President Biden, who is actually accomplishing plenty, while Trump is likely to be indicted before 2024? Or they could cover the fact that Russia is still working to influence our elections, which CNN reported this morning: CNN Exclusive: US intelligence suggests Russia put off announcing Kherson retreat until after midterm elections.

The US has intelligence that Russia may have delayed announcing its withdrawal from the Ukrainian city of Kherson in part to avoid giving the Biden administration a political win ahead of the midterm elections, according to four people familiar with the intelligence.

Senior Russian officials discussed the US midterms as a factor during deliberations about the withdrawal announcement, one person familiar with the intelligence said. Waiting until after the US election was always a “pre-planned condition” of Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson, a second person familiar with the intelligence told CNN.

Still, the election was far from the only consideration in Russia’s retreat, officials said. Military analysts say Russia had few other operational options and had been preparing to pull back for weeks, leading US officials to wonder when the Russians would officially acknowledge the withdrawal.

While the intelligence is not a formal assessment of Russia’s intentions, it is a sign that Russia has a continued interest in influencing the US political landscape — although the sources said Russia probably miscalculated the impact such an announcement would actually have on the elections.

“I doubt Americans would really have noticed,” said another source familiar with western intelligence.

President Joe Biden last week appeared to hint that the US believed that the timing of Russia’s announcement was more than mere coincidence.

“I find it interesting they waited until after the election to make that judgement, which we knew for some time they were going to be doing, and it’s evidence of the fact that they have some real problems – the Russian military,” Biden said at a press conference last Wednesday.

Carl_Gustav_Carus_-_Woman_on_the_Balcony_-_Google_Art_Project

Carl Gustav Carus, Woman on the Balcony

I’m going to end with this shocking story from The New York Times about Iran: Stymied by Protests, Iran Unleashes Its Wrath on Its Youth.

One girl, a 14-year-old, was incarcerated in an adult prison alongside drug offenders. A 16-year-old boy had his nose broken in detention after a beating by security officers. A 13-year-old girl was physically attacked by plainclothes militia who raided her school.

A brutal crackdown by the authorities in Iran trying to halt protests calling for social freedom and political change that have convulsed the country for the past two months has exacted a terrible toll on the nation’s youth, according to lawyers in Iran and rights activists familiar with the cases.

Young people, including teenage girls and boys, have been at the center of the demonstrations and clashes with security forces on the streets and university campuses and at high schools. Iranian officials have said the average age of protesters is 15.

Some have been beaten and detained, others have been shot and killed on the streets, or beaten in the custody of security services, and the lives of countless others have been disrupted as the authorities raid schools in an effort to crack down on dissent.

The authorities are targeting thousands of minors, under the age of 18, for participating in the protests, according to interviews with two dozen people, including lawyers in Iran involved in cases and rights activists, as well as parents, relatives and teenagers living in the country. Rights groups say that at least 50 minors have been killed.

The lawyers and many of the individuals interviewed for this article asked not to be named for fear of retribution.

The targeting of young people comes amid a broader crackdown on protesters in which 14,000 people have been arrested, according to the United Nations. On Sunday, state media said an unidentified person had been sentenced to death for setting fire to a government building.

There’s much more at the link. Sorry to hit you with this horrifying story, but I thought it was urgent. What can the U.S. do about this? The U.N.?

Please share your thoughts and any other stories that interest you in the comment thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

Sandra Bierman2

By Sandra Bierman

Happy Caturday!!

I’m completely exhausted! I spent most of my time since Tuesday glued to the TV and Twitter, obsessing on the vote counts. My eyes feel as if they are about to fall out. But democracy seems to be surviving for now, thanks to voters who clearly understood the danger and who didn’t like the Supreme Court trying to turn women into broodmares. And thanks to the young people who turned out to vote in swing states.

The New York Times: Young Voters Helped Democrats. But Experts Differ on Just How Much.

Preliminary figures indicate that Democrats, particularly in swing states like Wisconsin and Michigan, benefited from a strong turnout of young voters, aged 18-29, the age group that regularly shows the strongest support for the party — and regularly votes the least.

But less certain and much debated after Tuesday’s vote was whether the turnout was particularly strong this year, or more a continuation of support seen in the last midterm election in 2018 — which restored the party’s control of the House of Representatives — or the 2020 vote that elected President Biden and gave the party control of both chambers of Congress.

Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life, perhaps the most assiduous tracker of young voters, estimated on Thursday that 27 percent of 18-to-29 voters cast ballots in midterm elections — and that 63 percent of them voted for Democrats in House of Representatives elections.

That estimate was based on a nationwide exit poll of voters jointly conducted by the three major television networks and CNN; those preliminary numbers will be updated with data from actual voting. The turnout rate for all voters was 47 percent, according to a preliminary estimate by the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida….

“What’s clear from the data is that young Democrats turned out,” said Victor Shi, the director of strategy for Voters of Tomorrow, a Generation Z-centered civics advocacy group. An analysis of early voting data, he said, indicated that young people had cast a million more Democratic votes than Republican ones. And he said that early voting by young Democratic supporters exceeded 2018 totals in three battleground states — Georgia, Michigan and Ohio.

Independents also broke for Democrats. Everyone except the crazies is sick and tired of Trump and his whining. The Wall Street Journal: Why Independent Voters Broke for Democrats in the Midterms. GOP candidates closely aligned with Trump turned off some centrists and in-play Republicans.

Lisa Ghelfi, a 58-year-old registered Republican in Arizona, voted for Donald Trump for president two years ago but has grown tired of his election-fraud claims. It is the main reason she voted for Democrats for governor, senator, secretary of state and attorney general this fall and plans to change her registration to independent.

“Not allowing the election to be settled, it’s very divisive,” Ms. Ghelfi, a semiretired attorney from Paradise Valley, said of the 2020 race. “I think the election spoke for itself.” She said she voted for Republicans down-ballot who weren’t as vocal about election fraud or as closely tied to Mr. Trump, yet couldn’t support Arizona’s four major Republican candidates because they echoed Mr. Trump’s false claims.

Republicans succeeded in one of their top goals this year: They brought more of their party’s voters to the polls than did Democrats. But in the course of energizing their core voters, Republicans in many states lost voters in the political center—both independents and many Republicans who are uneasy with elements of the party’s focus under Mr. Trump.

Control of the House and Senate, which had seemed poised to land with the Republican Party, is coming down to a handful of races that so far are too close to call, though the GOP remains on track to winning a narrow majority in the House. Republicans have won nearly 5.5 million more votes in House races than have Democrats, a tally by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report finds, as many voters were motivated by anxiety over high inflation and a low opinion of President Biden’s response.

Pierre Bonnard - Marthe à la Chatte, 1912

Pierre Bonnard – Marthe à la Chatte, 1912

We are still waiting on Nevada’s Senate race, but it looks like Catherine Cortez Masto has a good chance to win, Right now, she is only behind Laxalt by 862 votes, according to Jon Ralston, with Las Vegas still outstanding. If she wins, the Democrats will control the Senate. Nate Cohn at The New York Times: Mail Ballots Around Las Vegas Are Likely to Put Democrats Ahead.

Democrats appeared on the cusp of securing control of the Senate over the weekend, as the counting of mail ballots in Nevada brought Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democratic incumbent, within 1,000 votes of overtaking her Republican opponent, Adam Laxalt, for the final seat the party needs to maintain its 50-50 Senate majority.

All eyes will be on Clark County, home to Las Vegas, which is a Democratic stronghold. Ms. Cortez Masto has led mail ballots tabulated after Election Day there by nearly two to one, a margin that would be more than enough to overtake Mr. Laxalt if the trend continues among the approximately 25,000 mail ballots that remain to be counted.

The bulk of the remaining mail ballots in Clark County are expected to be reported on Saturday (though the deadline to have all ballots counted is not until Tuesday). That could be enough to allow news organizations to project a winner, depending on the number of ballots counted and the size of Ms. Cortez Masto’s lead.

Most news organizations, including The Associated Press, are reluctant to call races when the leading candidate is ahead by less than half a percentage point, or about 5,000 votes in this case.

Even so, Ms. Cortez Masto would build a lead of more than 5,000 votes if she fares as well in the final Clark mail ballots as she has in those counted so far. She is also expected to have an advantage in the remaining mail ballots from Washoe County, as well as the more than 10,000 mail ballots that voters can “cure” after being initially rejected for a bad signature match.

Only a few thousand mail votes remain from the state’s rural, Republican counties.

From The Washington Post last night: Congressional Republicans panic as they watch their lead dwindle.

With control of the House and Senate still undecided, angry Republicans mounted public challenges to their leaders in both chambers Friday as they confronted the possibility of falling short of the majority, eager to drag Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) down from their top posts as consequence.

The narrowing path for Republican victory has stunned lawmakers from both parties, freezing plans for legislation and leadership maneuvers as they wait to see who takes control and learn the margins that will dictate which ideological factions wield power. Regardless of the outcome, the lack of a “red wave” marks a devastating outcome for Republicans, who believed they would cruise to a large governing majority in the House and possibly flip the Senate.

Isabelle Breyer,

By Isabelle Breyer

The GOP faces a small but real prospect that it may not reclaim the House majority despite high pre-election hopes based on the disapproval of President Biden, record inflation and traditional losses for the party that holds the White House. Late Friday, Democrats moved one Senate seat closer to retaining their majority in the chamber as Sen. Mark Kelly won reelection in Arizona. Winning either in Nevada — which was still counting votes — or in Georgia, where a runoff is set for Dec. 6, would allow them to stay in power.

House Democrats also were closely watching uncalled races in those states, as well races as Maine, Oregon, Washington and California, to determine whether they have a pathway to keep the majority. Even if they don’t, as many Democratic aides expect, there is a recognition from both parties that Democratic votes will be critical in a narrow House GOP majority.

“It’s an unworkable majority. Nothing meaningful will get passed,” a dejected aide to a senior House Republican said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss internal tensions….

Outgoing Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) told The Washington Post he knew the evening of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that the GOP would have a difficult time proving to voters they should be in the majority in two years.

“By midnight on January 6, it was obvious that if we continued to sleepwalk down the path of crazy we’d face a rude awakening,” he said. “Instead of facing those facts, the GOP spent the last two years heading in the same direction and actively avoiding any internal reckoning. After Tuesday, we have no choice but to heed voters when they say that ‘the grass is green, the sky is blue, and by the way, you just got your ass handed to you.’ But waking up to that reality is going to be rough.”

Meijer lost in the Michigan primary after he voted to impeach Trump.

More good news for democracy: election-denying candidates lost bigtime. Last night Mark Finchem in Arizona went down to defeat. NBC News: Election denier Mark Finchem loses secretary of state race in Arizona.

Republican Mark Finchem, a prominent election denier, has lost to Democrat Adrian Fontes in the race for Arizona secretary of state race, NBC News projects.

Fontes, a former top elections official for Maricopa County, will succeed Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Democratic nominee for governor.

Finchem was among a host of GOP candidates for statewide office who have repeatedly cast doubt over Joe Biden’s presidential victory or falsely claimed that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump in Arizona.

Last year, Trump backed Finchem’s candidacy and highlighted his record of defending the stolen election claims. “Mark was willing to say what few others had the courage to say” about the 2020 election, Trump said in offering his public support….

With his loss, Finchem joins numerous other election deniers who fell short on Election Day. In Michigan, election deniers lost bids for governor, secretary of state and attorney general. Republican Doug Mastriano, a prominent election denier in Pennsylvania who was on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, lost his bid for governor, along with similar GOP gubernatorial candidates in Minnesota and New Mexico.

Other prominent election deniers in Arizona, including attorney general candidate Abraham Hamadeh and Kari Lake, the party’s pick for governor, are still locked in tight races with their opponents several days after the election.

Katie Hobbes still has a chance to win the governor’s race.

Sandra Bierman

By Sandra Bierman

Republicans are angry with Trump for backing crazy, incompetent, far-right candidates. Liz Goodwin writes at The Washington Post: A red wave of criticism crashes into Donald Trump after midterm losses.

As Republicans grapple with their lackluster performance in Tuesday’s midterm elections, one man has begun to take on an unusual amount of criticism from his fellow partisans: Donald Trump.

The former president, who boosted some inexperienced Senate candidates in their primaries who underperformed on Tuesday, declared before the midterms that he wanted “all the credit” if Republicans won. “If they lose, I should not be blamed at all,” he told NewsNation.

But now that Republicans are facing the prospect of being in the minority in the Senate and are still waiting to see whether they will officially nab an uncomfortably narrow majority in the House, some unexpected voices within the party are beginning to question Trump’s influence.

Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, a Republican who strongly supported Trump, said the poor performance of some of his endorsed candidates is a sign he should step aside.

“It turns out that those he did not endorse on the same ticket did better than the ones he did endorse,” she said. “That gives you a clue that the voters want to move on. And a true leader knows when they have become a liability to the mission.”

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) — who cruised to victory as the Trump-endorsed Senate candidate Don Bolduc lost by a large margin — told SiriusXM on Friday that Trump could “muck up” the opportunity for GOP Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker to win if he announces his run before a December runoff in the state.

“What the former president doesn’t understand is if he announces … he’s not going to keep anyone else out of the race,” Sununu said, calling it an “awkward” thing to do. “I don’t think they’ve started out very well.”

The volume of open criticism illustrates a rare moment of weakness for Trump among Republicans just as he prepares to announce his 2024 presidential bid next week. Exit polls showed his favorability as even lower than President Biden’s on Tuesday, and polls of Republican voters suggest he is losing ground to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in hypothetical presidential matchups.

Brian Klaas, an expert on authoritarian leaders, doesn’t think Republicans will abandon Trump: Will Republicans Defy Trump’s Authoritarian Cult of Personality?

On Tuesday, Donald Trump had a bad night. He leveraged his cult leader-style sway over the Republican base to shoehorn terrible candidates through GOP primaries. These were cartoon caricatures, figures so absurd they seemed to have responded to a casting call for unelectable villainy. A quack doctor who lamented the rising cost of crudité faced a long drive home to New Jersey after losing a winnable seat in Pennsylvania. An outspokenly pro-life candidate in Georgia has paid for a seemingly limitless number of abortions, thinks climate change means that China is sending America “bad air,” and allegedly has a penchant for threatening people with guns. In Arizona, the Republican candidate was a venture capitalist who enjoyed military cosplay was running against a literal astronaut. And don’t get me started on Doug Mastriano, who apparently loves dressing up as a Confederate soldier and wants to charge women who get abortions with murder.

Elena Shlegel, 1965

By Elena Shlegel, 1965

The Trump candidates were authoritarian extremists. They mostly lost.

The conventional wisdom, which you’ll now hear repeated over and over by pundits and insiders is that Trump is toast. Let the DeSantis coronation begin. Republicans will fire Trump “like a dog,” as Trump was so fond of saying when getting rid of Rex Tillerson or some other forgotten Trumpian trivia question who may, if we’re lucky, never infect another brain cell of our thoughts ever again.

There’s good reason for Republicans to ditch Trump. Since 2016, he has been an electoral liability. The right way to think about Trump’s strategic “genius” is that the guy had two strokes of genuine political genius: he realized that immigration was an electrifying third rail in US politics and understood that a significant chunk of his party’s voters were latent authoritarians, meaning that the only reason they weren’t voting for a strongman was because one hadn’t been offered to them on the ballot. Those insights propelled him to the presidency. Once he got there, he shot himself in the foot repeatedly, a level of savvy political skills that culminated most deliciously in the Four Seasons Total Landscaping debacle, a fitting coda to a disastrous, slapstick presidency.

But here’s the bad news: Trump isn’t going anywhere. To understand why, you need a frame of reference for US politics that isn’t learned in glitzy political consulting firms, one they don’t teach you if you graduate from the Ronald Reagan school of political history, even if you have read every biography of Lincoln and JFK that’s ever been published.

Read the rest at the above link.

I hope you’re all having a nice long weekend. Let’s hope we’ll get more good news from Arizona and Nevada by tonight. The good news is that democracy has survived for the time being.