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Trump is collapsing into a ball of self-absorbed spite and destruction

In the last weeks of the campaign, Donald Trump is collapsing in on himself. That's the story his campaign and White House team itself seems to want to push in the scurry to avoid blame themselves. On Sunday, a New York Times piece reported on gloom, grievance, and "backbiting" among Trump's staff as his reelection prospects dim, but more of note is the blame getting directed at the big orange hateburper himself.

"Among some of Mr. Trump's lieutenants," reports the Times, there is "a sense that the best they can do for the final stretch is to keep the president occupied, happy and off Twitter as much as possible, rather than producing a major shift in strategy."

Yes, it is truly a shocking development. In the last weeks of the campaign, Donald Trump is ignoring all advice, doubling down on his most hateful behaviors, and choosing closing themes based solely on his own obsessions, grievances, and malevolence. Whoever could have seen that coming? (Aside from everyone.)

The results speak for themselves—no, are so toxic that they are noticeable even to a four-year-flaccid national press. Trump's propensity to target women, select political enemies for demonization, and his renewed vigor in seemingly attempting to goad supporters into violent acts against them are becoming topics with more public weight than any campaign message the shouting twit threatens to stumble into in these last preelection days. It turns out that Donald Trump, left to himself with campaign staff abandoning any further pretense at controlling him, is hateful, spiteful, anti-democratic, misogynistic, openly racist, paranoid, and self-absorbed to the point of self-destruction.

If there's anyone who has survived through four full years of Trump's attentions and they didn't predict that, among his inner circle, they would have to be burrowed so far up his *** that they can peek out his nostrils.

The problem here is that Trump is only going to get worse in the next few weeks—no matter what. If polls continue to look bleak, his narcissistic bitterness will overwhelm him and his demands of his supporters will get even more extreme. His attacks on Democratic leaders that take pandemic precautions—which he considers to be personal attacks on himself and therefore illegitimate, whether the moves save American lives or not—have been getting more vigorous, but his inner circle continues to support those attacks wholeheartedly. He is already obsessing over the notion of invisible election "fraud" as means of delegitimizing the results—as a malignant narcissist, he will adopt whatever delusion is necessary to protect himself from the notion that his own actions are responsible for his failures, as opposed to widespread conspiracy against him.

And if he wins? God help us. A Trump fully untethered from ever having to face voters again, supported by an attorney general who has been so eagerly crooked in tilting the scales of justice that he may already rank as the worst in history, backed by a party fully purged of any but the most obscene lawmakers hailing from the most hard-right of gerrymandered districts; there would be no institutions left. No government scientists, no statistics gatherers, no oversight, no public services, nothing but a hierarchy of sycophants from Washington down to every office. His "conservative" team is turning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into a Trump-tailored propaganda shop during a worldwide pandemic. There's literally nothing left they would not be craven enough to do.

The good news is it looks like he's losing. Possibly even for real this time. The transparent Russian propaganda, though propped up this time by Republican senators and the clownish Rudy Giuliani, isn't motivating his hard-right base into nearly the froth against his male opponent that near-identical hokum spurred when directed at a woman. The Trump question of what do you have to lose has been clarified to all. The notion of choosing a reality show host as world leader does not have the same appeal as it once might have across generic American suburbia.

Trump's campaign and White House staff seem to know it. Last week saw a Washington Post report of the angst of Trump's phalanx of worst enablers as they fretted over possible career repercussions of 1) endlessly lying to the American people and 2) support a corrupt, cretinous toad of a man in 3) reforming the government into a white nationalist-premised, incompetent kleptocracy while destroying longstanding democratic institutions and premises. Consequences! Can you imagine there being consequences for such things? Truly, conservative pundits are beginning to stammer, it would be the end of democracy as we know it.

Lord help us, we are almost there. Only to Election Day, mind you: After that, even under the best-case scenario of American voters delivering a thumping to Trump so severe that not even his scandal-mongers can discredit the results, we still face an embittered Trump and Republican Party willing to dynamite the country into oblivion rather than let it pass unscathed into non-Republican hands.

For now, let's take some comfort in Dear Orange Leader apparently beginning to realize that he is in deep, deep trouble. Hopefully it will unhinge him mostly in ways that harm only himself and his malevolent aides, allies, and hangers-on. If we're lucky he'll demand William Barr arrest himself, or will turn on Rudy Giuliani for failing to sell the Moist Laptop Of Secret Crimes story with enough vim.

Trump's final ad buy betrays just how broke his campaign really is

On a call Monday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien revealed the campaign's total ad buy for the last two weeks of the presidential race would be a whopping a paltry $55 million ... split between no fewer than 11 states.

Um, just wow. And that's not only the Trump campaign, it represents coordinated spending with the Republican National Committee (RNC) too. Far from being a muscular way to close out the race, it feels more like a cry for help. By comparison, Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said last week that she still anticipates raising another $234 million through the election.

The 11 states included on the target list for both entities are: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine-2, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.


According to an Axios article last week, Stepien views Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Maine's 2nd district as the foundation of their path to 270—in other words, must gets. In fact, the article quoted Stepien calling that line up the "easy part," but apparently not so easy that they're forgoing dropping money in all four supposed gimmes.

As New York Times journalist Shane Goldmacher, who was on the call, noted, "On the one hand, Stepien says he is 'certain' that they are winning Ohio and Iowa. On the other hand, he announces the campaign will be up with ads in those two states in final two weeks." Go figure.

One state the Trump campaign appears to have finally given up on altogether is Minnesota. Earlier on Monday, the Trump camp had announced cancelling ad buys in several Midwestern states even as they were preparing to reinvest in some of them through this coordinated ad buy with the RNC. But Minnesota, which has pretty much always been a pipe dream for Team Trump, was dropped altogether.

Even before this final Trump ad buy in the closing weeks, Biden's ad spending had outpaced Trump's by a 2-to-1 ratio for months, according to The New York Times. In a review of the two campaigns' spending in 10 battleground states, the only state where Trump outspent Biden was Georgia—which doesn't exactly jibe with that state's inclusion in Stepien's so-called "easy" list.

Biden's spending strategy has clearly centered on the Midwest. "His dominance is most pronounced in three critical swing states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where he spent about $53 million to Mr. Trump's $17 million over the past month largely on ads assailing the president's handling of the virus as well as the economy and taxes," writes the Times.

And while Trump initially enjoyed a digital ad advantage in the early part of the campaign, Biden has steadily closed that gap in recent months, achieving near parity in the last 30 days at $50 million for each ad campaign on Google and Facebook, according to the Times.

What is perhaps most interesting in these final weeks is just how small Trump is playing even as Team Biden has played very big—and not just in terms of overall spending. As this Politico piece explains, the Biden campaign has seen so many paths to 270 open up that in some cases they realized it would be more cost effective to make national buys rather than spending astronomical amounts in smaller battleground markets. It's a worth a read.

Under normal circumstances, most campaigns at this point would be making buys to leverage their position in 10 or even fewer states. But the Biden campaign realized that making some national buys through the networks would actually cost only slightly more, for instance, than purchasing air time in states with major Senate races like Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia, where pricing had gone through the roof. The big upside of the national buys was that they had the advantage of not only reaching the desired markets in key battlegrounds but also establishing a Biden presence in states that were newly on the radar, like Texas.

"We are looking at a very wide map right now," Becca Siegel, the Biden campaign's chief analytics officer, said. "Normally at this stage of the campaign, we would be narrowing in. But at this stage of the campaign, we have a lot of pathways that have opened up."

So as Trump closes out with a whimper, Biden is heading out with a roar, and his sizable cash advantage has made all that possible.

Republicans are growing anxious about losing a Senate seat in Texas — once again

The final two weeks of the 2020 election are upon us, and with the political climate continuing to favor Democrats overall, Daily Kos Elections is moving our race ratings in 11 more contests—nine shift to the left, while two move towards the GOP. We also now have a total of 11 GOP-held Senate seats rated as Lean Republican or better for Democrats. You can find all our Senate, gubernatorial, and House ratings at each link.

TX-Sen (Likely R to Lean R): Democrat MJ Hegar not only swamped Republican Sen. John Cornyn 2:1 in fundraising over the last quarter, she just got a big vote of confidence from the Senate Majority PAC, which announced it would invest almost $9 million to support her bid—the first time outside Democratic groups have spent money on a Texas Senate race in forever. (Yep, even Beto didn't get that kind of love.)

All polls still have Cornyn ahead, and Texas is still Texas. But the gap has narrowed, and with presidential polling showing a near-tie, the once unthinkable is now a whole lot more thinkable. Cornyn himself also seems to be feeling the heat: After spending four years positioning himself as nothing but an ardent Trump ally, the senator insisted to reporters over the weekend that he'd disagreed with the White House plenty of times but kept his dissent private.

CO-Sen (Lean D to Likely D): With reports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the Senate Leadership Fund have both drastically scaled back their spending in Colorado's Senate race, Republicans have now all but abandoned Cory Gardner. Confirming the development, the top Democratic super PAC, Senate Majority PAC, has also cut seven figures from its planned advertising. Every single poll of this race has shown Gardner trailing Democrat John Hickenlooper, most by double digits. At this point, Colorado is simply too blue for a Republican with no real ability to distance himself from Donald Trump—like Gardner.

VT-Gov (Likely R to Safe R): Despite Vermont's deep blue hue, the state has continued its long history of electing Republican governors, and Phil Scott has remained exceedingly popular, in part because of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Limited polling has shown him crushing his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, and there's been no indication that outside groups plan to get involved here in the final weeks.

CA-21 (Lean D to Tossup): Democrat TJ Cox narrowly unseated Republican Rep. David Valadao in one of the biggest upsets of 2018, and he faces a difficult campaign to stop Valadao from reclaiming California's 21st Congressional District this year.

The only recent poll we've seen out of this southern Central Valley seat was a mid-September American Viewpoint internal for the pro-Republican Congressional Leadership Fund that found Valadao ahead 49-38. It may seem implausible that Valadao could have a huge lead in a district that Trump lost 55-40, but Democrats have not responded with better numbers, and Politico also recently reported that this was one of only a few seats that Team Blue is "growing increasingly nervous" about.

There are some other factors that could complicate Cox's chances even in a good year for his party. National polls show Trump running better with Latino voters than he did four years ago, which could help him make up some ground in this heavily Latino district. And Valadao has always run ahead of the GOP ticket in past years, sometimes quite dramatically. Cox may still be the slight favorite to hang on, but a Valadao win would no longer be a surprise.

FL-18 (Safe R to Likely R): Republican Rep. Brian Mast looked secure after he beat a well-funded opponent by a convincing 54-46 during last cycle's Democratic wave, but he faces another credible challenge this year from Navy veteran Pam Keith in Florida's 18th Congressional District.

A mid-September survey from St. Pete Polls found Mast ahead by a wide—but not insurmountable—50-42 margin even as respondents narrowly favored Biden in a district that had backed Trump 53-44 four years earlier. An early October Keith internal from Clearview Research then showed her ahead 45-43, and Mast's allies haven't responded with alternate numbers. There has been no notable outside spending so far in this seat, which includes the Palm Beach area and the Treasure Coast to the north, but an upset is possible if Nov. 3 is a strong night for Team Blue.

IL-13 (Lean R to Tossup): We had thought that Betsy Dirksen Londrigan's near-miss against Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in 2018 might have been a high-water mark for Democrats in central Illinois' 13th Congressional District, which isn't necessarily the most favorable sort of turf from Team Blue. But a recent survey for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) found her leading Davis by five points in her rematch after prior polls showed the race neck-and-neck, and we haven't seen any sort of GOP response.

The D-Trip has backed up its data with hard dollars: Along with the House Majority PAC, they've matched spending with the big outside Republican groups. This one is looking very close once again.

MI-03 (Likely R to Lean R): Michigan's 3rd Congressional District hasn't been competitive in a general election in some time, but outside groups from both parties are spending serious amounts of money in the contest to succeed Republican-turned-independent-turned-Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash, who is retiring after a tumultuous career.

The few polls we've seen have shown an unsettled contest in this Grand Rapids-based seat between Democrat Hillary Scholten, an immigration attorney, and Republican Peter Meijer, whose family owns an eponymous retail chain with almost 200 locations. A mid-September internal from Global Strategy Group for Scholten's allies at House Majority PAC showed a 41-41 tie as Biden led 49-41 in a district that backed Trump 52-42 in 2016; weeks later, the Democratic nominee released numbers from ALG Research that had her ahead 44-42. Meijer did get better news, though, when a late September survey from the conservative firm We Ask America had him leading 48-41 as Biden and Trump deadlocked 47-47.

This seat is still red enough that Meijer remains the frontrunner, but Scholten's chances are as strong as they've ever been.

NC-08 (Likely R to Lean R): While Republican Rep. Richard Hudson is still the favorite against Democrat Pat Timmons-Goodson, a former justice on the state Supreme Court, major outside groups on both sides have begun spending serious amounts of money late in the contest for North Carolina's 8th Congressional District.

The only two polls we've seen in recent weeks have both come from Democrats, and they've each shown a close race. A late September internal from Brilliant Corners for Timmons-Goodson showed Hudson up 44-42 as Trump led only 47-44 in a seat he took 53-44 four years ago. An early October DCCC Analytics poll was even more favorable: It found Timmons-Goodson and Biden up 42-39 and 47-43, respectively. Republicans have yet to release contradictory numbers.

There's also one other factor that could complicate Hudson's path in this seat, which includes Fayetteville and some of Charlotte's suburbs: Because of court-supervised redistricting, the Republican is seeking reelection in a seat where a quarter of all residents are new to him, which could prevent him from enjoying the full benefits of incumbency.

SC-01 (Tossup to Lean D): Freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham won South Carolina's coastal 1st Congressional District in one of the bigger upsets of 2018, but he's the frontrunner going into the final weeks of his bid for reelection.

An early October DCCC internal from GQR found Cunningham leading GOP state Rep. Nancy Mace by a wide 55-42 margin as respondents backed Biden 48-47 in a district that Trump took 53-40 last time. Mace responded the following week with a Strategic National survey that showed her ahead 47-45 as Trump led 47-44, but even fellow Republicans don't seem to believe she's actually doing that well: Last week, Politico recently reported that Republicans privately believe Mace's prospects are "dimming."

Major outside groups on both sides are still spending heavily here, and a Mace win is still very possible, but Cunningham, for perhaps the first time in his political career, is the favorite.

TX-32 (Lean D to Likely D): Freshman Democratic Rep. Colin Allred flipped Texas' 32nd District after a very expensive 2018 battle, but it will be hard for businesswoman Genevieve Collins to reclaim it for her party.

This historically red suburban North Dallas seat swung from 57-41 Romney to 49-47 Clinton, and diverse and well-educated constituencies like this have only become more hostile to the GOP over the last four years. Major outside groups also aren't acting like this will be close: While both parties are pouring millions into the neighboring 24th District, they've steered clear of this race so far. Collins still has the resources to run a credible campaign on her own, but it would be a big surprise if she emerged victorious.

WA-03 (Likely R to Lean R): Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is still the frontrunner against Democrat Carolyn Long, whom she defeated 53-47 in 2018, but their rematch for southern Washington's 3rd Congressional District has been looking more competitive recently.

In late September, Long released an internal from GQR that found Herrera Beutler up 49-47 as Trump led just 48-47 in a district he took 50-43 in 2016. That's the only survey we've seen here in some time, but major outside groups are acting like this seat is very much in play. The National Republican Congressional Committee and Congressional Leadership Fund went on the air on Oct. 13 to aid the congresswoman, the very same day the DCCC released its first anti-Herrera Beutler ads. Altogether, national GOP groups spent almost $900,000 during the week of Oct. 12, while the DCCC dropped $470,000 during that time.

Herrera Beutler still has the advantage, though, in this conservative seat. The incumbent pulled off a healthy win last cycle, and even Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell narrowly lost the 3rd District 51-49 that year while she was winning statewide in a 58-42 landslide. However, if 2020 turns out to be a stronger year for Team Blue than 2018 was, Long will have an opportunity to notch an upset.

Trump’s top health official lies and says the US is doing as well as the rest of the world on COVID

The Trump administration is a disaster. It was a garbage fire when it began, but that ongoing fire, stoked by the entire Republican Party, has led to an increase in authoritarian use of law enforcement and ICE forces to dehumanize people all across our country. On top of all of that, the bad economic policies and general culture of avarice and self-serving incompetence promoted by Trump and the Republican Party have led us to the precipice of an economic depression, and a public health crisis the likes of which has not been seen in generations has pushed that depression into the territory of collapse.

With just over two weeks until Election Day, Trump's surrogates—the ones not sick with COVID-19 or hiding out to pretend they aren't still milking the poisonous Trump cow—have taken to the airwaves to pretend everything is going according to plan. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was on Meet the Press Sunday, to implore Americans in his most imploring-sounding voice, to wear masks and follow the basic general protections against spreading the COVID-19 virus that experts have been promoting since the beginning of this pandemic. Azar even scripted his statement as a plea to Chuck Todd's "viewers." This, obviously, surprised even Meet The Press host Chuck Todd, since Donald Trump and his administration have done the opposite now for, oh, about ... seven months.

Secretary Azar's message to Chuck Todd's viewers was specifically about large "indoor gatherings." This is relevant due to upcoming Halloween festivities and Thanksgiving celebrations. Todd remarked that Azar's statement was strange considering that just last week, Azar attended an indoor rally with President Trump—the same President Trump that still may very well be COVID-19 positive. Azar said that everyone at the indoor rally was socially distanced—sort of—and were all offered masks. Of course, this means nothing if you don't wear said mask. Todd pointed out that the message being sent doesn't seem consistent, as states like Wisconsin see surges in COVID-19 cases, while Donald Trump flies into those areas to promote big superspreader events.

It is here that Azar attempts to promote misinformation that does two things: It attempts at justifying the Trump administration's current anti-public health farewell tour, while also absolving the administration's criminally negligent handling of a pandemic that has claimed almost a quarter of a million American lives. Azar says that lots of countries in lockdown are having big surges. The implication here is that you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

This isn't true. The fact of the matter is that the United States, for the first time in years, is actually No. 1 in the world in something: death rates due to COVID-19 and death rates in general during the pandemic. We are also a leader in the world in cases per 100,000 and deaths per 100,000. I guess Azar is talking about how places like Aruba and Bahrain have a worse case rate? Todd asks why it's been so "difficult for the president" to promote a public health message that would actually save thousands, if not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of lives.

ALEX AZAR: I think it's a difficult message for all western democracies. We're seeing that in Europe. The American people have given so much. People of Europe have given so much, Chuck. They've been locked down, isolated. But they're tired. But the point is, we're so close. Hang in there with us. We're so close ...

Azar has been a Trump hack throughout this process and can be justifiably blamed for much of the misinformation and confusion among certain sections of the American public in regard to COVID-19. He has attacked Americans and frontline responders instead of the virus. If we lived in a just universe, Alex Azar would soon find himself doing some prison time along with the hundreds of Republican operatives and scam artists who have brought us to where we are now.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar says wear a mask but that it doesn't really matter www.youtube.com

Trump could sink vulnerable Senate Republicans even in states he manages to win

Donald Trump's parting gift to vulnerable Senate Republicans is that he appears to be a drag on them with both his most loyal supporters and the swing voters they need to win their reelection bids.

In several of the most crucial Senate races, Trump is running ahead of his Senate GOP counterparts. In some cases, Trump might even win the state while the corresponding Senate Republican loses their race. In others, they both appear poised to lose the state but the Senate Republican could suffer a bigger defeat.

What this suggests is that Trump's wild support among MAGA enthusiasts isn't making the 1-to-1 transfer to his Senate colleagues—meaning their blind loyalty to Trump hasn't paid the dividends they anticipated. At the same time, Senate Republicans' studied obsequiousness to Trump has hobbled their chances of winning enough moderate and independent voters to be assured they can prevail in their reelection bids.

In North Carolina, for instance, Trump and GOP Sen. Thom Tillis are both losing to their Democratic rivals according to polling composites, but Tillis is running behind Trump. According to Washington Post aggregates of the races, Trump has 45% support to Tillis' 41%.

In Georgia, the Post has Trump running slightly ahead of Joe Biden, 48% to 46%, but Sen. David Perdue only garners 46% support. It's worth noting the some aggregates show Biden just slightly ahead or virtually tied. But more crucially to Sen. Perdue, if he can't clear the 50% threshold in the state, he'll be forced into a two-way runoff with Democrat Jon Ossoff.

South Carolina's Senate race is wild and GOP incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham is still favored to win reelection, though Democrat Jamie Harrison has made a real race of it. But in last week's New York Times/Siena poll, for instance, Trump enjoyed a "very favorable" rating among 79% of GOP voters while only 54% said the same of Graham. The survey also showed Trump up by 8 points, while Graham was winning by 6 points.

In Iowa, polls show a dead heat between Trump and Biden in the presidential race but incumbent Senator Joni Ernst is fairing worse against her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield. The Post aggregates have Trump winning 46% of voters to Ernst's 44% of voters.

It's kind of beautiful, when you think about it. After Senate Republicans built Trump into a monster by underwriting every abhorrent thing he's done and then acquitting him of all wrongdoing to boot, they're getting punished for selling out America on both sides of the electoral equation.

NY Post reporter refused to allow his byline on flawed Hunter Biden story: NYT

We've all seen this absurd Hunter Biden October "surprise" story by now.

In short, it makes no sense. A mystery figure dropped off a wet laptop at a Delaware computer shop, didn't leave his name, and never picked it up. It had all sorts of incriminating info on it, as well as a Beau Biden Foundation sticker. Uh huh. Because that's ordinary human behavior. And somehow Rudy Giuliani, who's been searching high and low for Hunter Biden dirt, got hold of it. And in no way is this the kind of Russian disinformation campaign the White House received a warning about just last year — a warning that specifically noted Giuliani's gullibility, by the way.

Well, it gets worse. One of the original authors of the story refused to put his byline on it because, well, he smelled bullshit.

The New York Times:

The New York Post's front-page article about Hunter Biden on Wednesday was written mostly by a staff reporter who refused to put his name on it, two Post employees said.
Bruce Golding, a reporter at the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid since 2007, did not allow his byline to be used because he had concerns over the article's credibility, the two Post employees said, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation.

Well, that's some interesting information they neglected to share.

As deadline approached, editors pressed staff members to add their bylines to the story — and at least one aside from Mr. Golding refused, two Post journalists said. A Post spokeswoman had no comment on how the article was written or edited.

So who got the byline? Well, that's an interesting story. The lead author of the piece was Emma-Jo Morris, a former associate producer for the always scrupulous Sean Hannity. And, whoa, she never had a byline in The Post before. Her co-author? Gabrielle Fonrouge, who's been with the newspaper since 2014. And that's an interesting story, too.

Ms. Fonrouge had little to do with the reporting or writing of the article, said three people with knowledge of how it was prepared. She learned that her byline was on the story only after it was published, the people said.

Rudy Giuliani is not mentally all there, and yet The New York Post staked its reputation — such as it is — on the melange of coffee breath molecules and gross loose skin that comprise his essence.

Just shows you how desperate they've become.

Let's support Joe, and let's make sure we give him a Democratic Senate.

We have them on the run. Let's drown them in the river.

GOP senator says he opposed Trump's worst moves in secret. How convenient

As a direct result of being a Trump-backing toady, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, a hack during the best of times, is in serious danger of losing his seat to Democratic opponent MJ Hegar in the November elections. In an attempt to stanch the bleeding, Cornyn met with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's editorial board to (ahem) explain himself.

The results, which are being widely mocked around the internets for reasons that will soon become obvious, are an excellent preview of the defense every Republican will be offering up if Donald Trump loses his reelection bid. The less deft ones might want to go ahead and copy-and-paste Cornyn's answers into their own notes now, rather than later; it may be, however, that the Republican Party will distribute them as talking points approximately five minutes after a definitive Trump loss. Or possibly crocheted on a pillow.

Sen. Cornyn wants the editorial board and/or Texas public to know that Actually, he has "disagreed" with Donald Blowhard Corruption Magnet on at least several important Republican things during these last four years. It is just that he did it in "private," because reasons. The Star-Telegram reports that Cornyn told them he privately disagrees with Trump on "budget deficits and debt"—telegraphing an immediate Republican Party reversal-with-somersault switcharoo on whinging about those things endlessly, after allowing and encouraging the Trump team to blow enough holes in the federal budget to make it a colander. He privately disagreed on Trump's bizarrely premised and ridiculously executed trade wars, he wants you to know—trade wars that conflicted mightily with previous conservative ideology, only to be crumpled into a pile of YOLO when Trump did the opposite. Cornyn private disagreed with Trump on pilfering military money for his stupid border wall—it's not clear if this was before or after Cornyn publicly defended Trump doing exactly that and voted to let him do exactly that, so this one was a particularly private objection. He hid it so well he even hid it from himself!

"When I have had differences of opinion, which I have, (I) do that privately," Cornyn told the board, calling it a "much more effective" approach but offering no apparent evidence that it has been "effective" even once.

The short version, then, is this: On the verge of potentially losing his office, Sen. Cornyn would like you to know that despite defending Trump at every turn, including when Trump was impeached for the criminal abuse of his office, he secretly has opposed Trump at least several times and secretly has, you know, the right and non-humiliating opinions on things. Yes, all hail the noble and brave John Cornyn, who absolutely has disagreed with the authoritarian thunderdunce's incompetent moves and incomprehensible stances, but who nobly hid his disagreements rather than take action and risk being tweeted at.

Truly, a more noble figure has never graced public life. What a hero.

Oh—and if Donald wins, please forget he said any of these things. Parkour!

Sigh. Get used to these claims of secret Trump defiance, because if Trump causes Republicans nationwide to be routed from office you are going to be hearing a lot of them, and they're all going to match. Republicans are going to claim they were "against" Trump's incompetence and criminality the whole time, they just, um, did it when you weren't looking. It isn't that they were accessories to Trump's worst behavior, and actively celebrated many of his worst actions. It isn't that they actively worked to prevent criminal acts by Trump from being discovered, whether it be the constant grifting of government funds to line his pockets or an extortion scheme that the Republican Senate scurried to declare a non-issue. It isn't that they used their offices, as lawmakers, to support Trump's racist and white nationalist edicts, or used their committees to push obvious disinformation on his behalf.

Heavens, no. Actually, Cornyn and the others will insist, we were against those things all along. We were very unhappy about all of it. Secretly. Behind the scenes. Please give us new jobs, or hire us on as pundits, or whatever.

This new alleged rediscovery of morals and principles will be the subject of at least six (6) completely ridiculous Republican autobiographies released in the next six months, two dozen eerily similar Republican op-eds, and a full-on interpretive dance pageant held at Republican National Committee headquarters. You can count on it.

If it all sounds like bullshit, congratulations: Your skull has not yet been completely hollowed out by the last four years of insanity. Of course it's bullshit. As senator, John Cornyn allied himself with nearly all of Trump's moves, including the possibly-criminal ones, much less the only stupid ones. There's no doubt he had private concerns about doing some of them, but that didn't stop him. He chose the most craven approach each time, on every topic, and is slinking back to his voters with the most craven approach now, signaling that his principles are now whatever they need to be in this moment, and will be shifting yet again if the moment changes. Whatever you want, voters. Just tell him the tune and he'll dance to it.

Hacks and scoundrels, the lot of them. There's not enough integrity left in the Republican Party to fill a mason jar. If Cornyn saves his seat—and it's going to be close, but he's still a few points ahead—he will switch messages all over again, either surgically attaching himself to Trump or re-re-inventing himself with whatever newly discovered principle each week and month temporarily requires. The Mitch McConnell-led Senate has combined the conspiracy theorizing of House Republicans with a relentless drive to maintain conservative power using every available rule and, when those are not sufficient, inventing new ones; holding power is the only ideology remaining in a party that has gleefully shed all of the others.

Hacks. Just hacks, from top to bottom. They don't even have the decency left to feel shame, when they pull this "well secretly I was actually against those controversial things I supported" nonsense.



Watch: Pete Buttigieg nails another Fox News interview — right when it matters most

Former Democratic presidential hopeful and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg has made a pretty regular and exciting appearance on Fox News Sunday lately. As a surrogate for the Biden-Harris ticket, Buttigieg is doing some important work in reaching Fox News viewers. Though as a presidential candidate he had substantially different views from both Harris and Biden (as is normal and expected among candidates), this Sunday he talked to Fox News host Chris Wallace about unity—and how the wide spectrum of progressives and moderates backing Biden just confirms how important this election is.

"Look how unified we are now," Buttigieg told Wallace. "You've got Democrats from across the spectrum from the left to the center joining with independents and Republicans because we can all see what's at stake here. I can't think of an election in modern history where the choice has been this stark and I know what side I'm on." Buttigieg also talked about one of the most personal reasons he fears Judge Amy Coney Barrett joining the U.S. Supreme Court. Let's look at the clips below.

First, here is that clip about unity.


"Of course there's an enormous amount of frustration that this Senate can't even bring itself, with Mitch McConnell, to vote through a COVID relief package," Buttigieg stressed. "People are suffering, people are hurting, there's no clear end in sight. There's been a bill we brought to them months ago coming out of the House, they won't touch it, they won't do anything but suddenly they have time to rush through a nomination that the American people don't want."

Here's that clip.


"My marriage might depend on what is about to happen in the Senate with regard to this justice. So many issues are on the line," Buttigieg added, in reference to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision which legalized gay marriage. Of course, this is far from the first time Buttigieg, the first openly gay candidate for a major party, has talked about his marriage to his husband, Chasten Buttigieg. For example, he once called out Vice President Mike Pence and said his marriage "moved [him] close to God." On the campaign trail, Buttigieg faced homophobic hecklers as well as sweet children who turned to him for advice on coming out.

Some people like to argue that the personal isn't political, but that clearly won't be the case until human rights, equality, and people's dignity aren't on the line. What can we do about that today? Vote.


Senate Democrats try to save federal workforce from Trump's harebrained payroll tax scheme

Senate Democrats are trying to save federal workers from having big docks in their pay next spring by allowing them to opt out of the mandatory Trump scheme to give them a payroll tax holiday. Trump spent the whole of the year obsessing about "terminating" payroll taxes as stimulus in the coronavirus pandemic, somehow not grasping the basic issue that people who lost their jobs because of the virus aren't paying payroll taxes anyway. He was so intent on making this thing that no one thought would be helpful that his administration finally just gave in and imposed it on the only people they could—federal workers. The difficulty is that they'll have to pay the money back in the first quarter of next year, while we're still going to be in this pandemic.

Democrats want them to be able to opt out and continue to have the withholdings. "During this time of heightened uncertainty, our public servants deserve the ability to choose what makes most sense for them and for their pocketbooks. That's why the President's payroll tax deferral must be made optional," lead sponsor of the bill, Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, said in a statement. These are the payroll taxes that fund Social Security. Trump has vowed to "terminate" payroll taxes entirely, a plan that could "terminate" Social Security by 2023, the chief actuary for the program says. That's if there wasn't a substitute funding plan in place. Given that they haven't managed a substitute plan for the Affordable Care Act in a decade, it's hard to imagine Republicans coming up with a Social Security plan.

Members of Congress have been urging the administration to allow federal employees to opt out—they've done so in both the House and Senate, and private sector employees and employers have been given that choice. Other than the House and Senate, only the semi-governmental, semi-private Postal Service has been given the option. Even Louis DeJoy, Trump's corrupt toady postmaster general, opted out of suspending withholding. Federal employee unions have also been asking the administration to allow them to give the withholding a pass. Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin said in a hearing last month that that was a "reasonable" request, but he hasn't acted on it, and he and the Office of Management and Budget have kept the policy in place.

So all federal employees who earn less than $4,000 per biweekly paycheck with get the 6.2% bump in pay, but will have to repay that starting in January, with larger withholdings from their paychecks—the regular withholding plus the clawback. So they won't be able to spend this "extra" pay now because they'll need it starting in January when their paychecks will be smaller. Which is stupid. But it's Trump's big idea so of course it's stupid. "The President's payroll tax deferral scheme is nothing more than a scam on hardworking federal employees—making their paychecks look bigger until the end the of the year when they'll be hit with a surprise increase in their payroll taxes right after the holidays," American Federation of Government Employees President Everett Kelley said in a statement.

The Democrats' legislation might be enough of a nudge for Mnuchin to reverse the policy for the remainder of the year, but again, Trump wanted this. He seems to believe that all the federal employees will be so grateful to him for giving them a temporary bonus they'll vote for him or something. Which shows just how untethered from reality the man is.

We need to smash the GOP pipeline that produces sycophantic senators. Here's how to do it

Thom Tillis is one of the worst of the worst. The Republican senator from North Carolina has always been a mindless zealot for the conservative cause, but while he's now fighting for his political life as he seeks reelection in a race that could decide control of the Senate, it's critical we remember that craven cowards like him don't just spring forth from nowhere.

Rather, they're cultivated and groomed by the dark architects of the GOP agenda—and the favorite petri dish for the Kochs and their ilk are our state legislatures. That's exactly where Tillis was incubated: For many years before he joined the Senate in 2015, he was a member of the North Carolina state House and was ultimately rewarded for his fealty by getting elevated to speaker.

While he ruled the roost, Tillis did every awful thing imaginable: He blocked Medicaid expansion. He endorsed "personhood" legislation, passed a law requiring women seeking abortions to undergo invasive ultrasounds, and argued states had the right to ban certain types of birth control. He pushed to open up North Carolina's coasts to offshore drilling, said climate change isn't real, and passed a law preventing the state from considering climate science on sea-level rise when making policy. And most notoriously, he enacted a massive voter suppression package that a federal court later struck down, saying it had sought to "target African Americans with almost surgical precision."

With a record like this, it's no wonder he was perfect fodder when Republicans were looking for a Senate candidate six years ago, and it's likewise no surprise that he's performed his duties as a willing Trump sycophant so ably.

But here's the worst part: Thom Tillis never faced a single Democratic opponent in each of his four elections to the legislature. He was unopposed in the general election every single time. And this isn't an isolated story. Far, far too many Republican lawmakers get off with little or no opposition year in and year out. It's why the GOP has been so successful in developing its farm system, producing an endless string of zealots eager to wreck democracy and bow down before Trump.

It's also precisely why we have to crush this pipeline—half of all members of the Senate got their start in state legislatures. The good news is that North Carolina Democrats have put up a fantastic array of candidates for both the state House and Senate this year, and it offers us a three-fer: We can stop the next generation of Thom Tillises, we can develop our own bench, and we can flip both legislative chambers in this crucial swing state right before redistricting starts.

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