The Mahablog

Politics. Society. Group Therapy.

The Mahablog

Trump and Musk: A Tale of Two Juveniles

What have I been saying about Righties being the equivalent of ten-year-old boys? I think we’re heading toward Peak Prepubescence.

Item One: Trump’s NFT trading cards. They’re cheap looking and cheesy and sold out already. You really can’t underestimate Trump supporters, although I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out someday that members of the Trump family bought most of Trump’s childish fantasy cards.

Item Two: Elon Musk is showing us who he is. Yesterday Musk pulled one of his dumbest moves yet and banned some journalists who had reported on him. His excuse was that the journalists had revealed his location, putting him in danger, but there is no evidence that is true. One banned Twitter member who doesn’t seem to be a journalist, exactly, had been using public flight data to share the location of Musk’s private plane, and a lot of other famous people’s private planes, but anyone else could have found the same data. It’s, like, public.

Do read Josh Marshall’s post In the Den of the Dark Lord Elon Thinskinnious.

You’ve likely seen a lot of write-ups about Elon Musk having a temper tantrum last night and banning a group of journalists. It’s gotten a lot of attention in part because he banned ones that were in some sense covering him and his acquisition of Twitter, and because he banned reporters from some of the most prominent news organizations in the country, including CNN, the Times and the Post. In most cases (it’s hard to know because there’s been no clear explanation of why any of this happened) the bans were based on tortured readings of a new rule Twitter put in place the night before based on a different temper tantrum on Wednesday.

So much for free speech. The whole post provides more details of this whole sorry episode. And now the prominent news organizations are “reevaluating” their relationship with Twitter, and I don’t know why they’re still on it already. See also Newsrooms are scrambling to counter Elon Musk’s bans at Semafor.

But, basically, Musk is dumping quality content while opening the door to junk content, and then he wonders why he’s losing advertising revenue. Josh Marshall:

As it happens, I think it all ends badly for Twitter. Its vitality and centrality rest heavily on the presence of journalists and other information influencers. Chase them off and you have what’s become of Facebook, still until recently at least a highly profitable company but no longer central to the flow or news and information. Journalists and other information influencers left and the charge left as well. Facebook at least was highly profitable and continued to be based on your parents and grandparents spending time there until Apple changed its privacy rules. Twitter has never been a profitable company.

It may be that free (to users) social media platforms will disappear someday unless someone with big money is willing to underwrite them.

What Republicans Really Want: An Inquisition

The Womb Nazis didn’t get the memo and are not backing down.

The largest antiabortion organization in Texas has created a team of advocates assigned to investigate citizens who might be distributing abortion pills illegally.

Students for Life of America, a leading national antiabortion group, is making plans to systematically test the water Erin Brockovich-style in several large U.S. cities, searching for contaminants they say result from medication abortion.

And Republican lawmakers in Texas are preparing to introduce legislation that would require internet providers to block abortion pill websites in the same way they can censor child pornography.

Apparently they aren’t seeing the reduction in the rates of abortion they had anticipated, mostly because abortion rights advocates are funneling abortion pills into states with bans. So the Nazis want to crack down even more. And nobody has been charged with violating abortion bans yet, the article says. This frustrates the Nazis to no end. They want bodies tied to stakes.

“Everyone who is trafficking these pills should be in jail for trafficking,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, who has started to speak with Republican governors about the prevalence of illegal abortion pill networks. “It hasn’t happened, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.”

Sweetums, banning abortion doesn’t reduce the rate of abortion, anywhere in the world. It just doesn’t. I doubt you could find an example from anywhere showing that any abortion ban actually reduced the rate of abortion.. Instead, bans drive abortion underground. The pills are a lot safer than a coat hanger, but I guess you won’t be happy until women’s dead bodies are piling up.

The next few months could pit the “true believers” — those who genuinely care about limiting the number of abortions — against those who back antiabortion policies to score political points, said Jonathan Mitchell, the antiabortion lawyer behind the novel Texas abortion ban that took effect in 2021.

There are a growing number of Republicans who don’t want to talk about abortion these days. Funny how that works.

Utopia as imagined by the anti-abortion movement.

Meanwhile, also in Texas, AG Ken “I Love a Big Lie” Paxton has been trying to use state resources to compile data on Texans who have transitioned. I doubt he is planning to just send all the trans folks a fruit basket.

But the winner of the Tomás de Torquemada Award for scariest person in America has to go to Ron DeSantis, who is beginning a number of Inquisitions on Science. And note that some polls are saying DeSantis is the true front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination; Trump has fallen to Number Two.

And this is what the front-runner is doing.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that he is forming a new state committee to counter policy recommendations from federal health agencies — a decision that medical professionals said will further politicize medicine in the Sunshine State.

At a news conference in South Florida, DeSantis also said he is requesting a statewide grand jury investigation into alleged “crimes and wrongdoing” related to the coronavirus vaccine. He provided few details on what specifically he wants a panel to probe, but in a press release, his office noted side effects like myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation, that have been observed in rare cases.

This is just so wrong on several levels. But I fear the House Republicans are going to make crucifying Anthony Fauci a priority next year, so this is just the start of a whole lot of injustice.

The Meadows Texts: Searching for Marshall Law

Talking Points Memo has the cache of Mark Meadows texts that were obtained by the J6 Committee. I personally think several members of Congress, plus Meadows, need to be tried for sedition. I also think they need remedial spelling classes. Let’s just hope the Meadow Texts get as much attention as Elon Musk’s nothingburger Twitter Files.

The text getting a lot of attention initially is from Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), sent to Meadows on January 17, 2021, just three days before Joe Biden was scheduled to take office.

“Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of ? no return ? in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!”

Something about this rang a bell. Oh, yeah, CNN reported back in April that Marjorie Taylor Greene sent this text to Mark Meadows, also on January 17.

“In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall law. I don’t know on those things. I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next. Please tell him to declassify as much as possible so we can go after Biden and anyone else!”

Obviously, we should find out who Marshall Law is, as he seems to be In On It. (/sarcasm) Oh, wait, I think I found him. He lives in a video game.

Reps. Norman and Greene also obviously really believe that the election was stolen. Here’s another one from Norman.

Guys, if there was ever a time to stand with our leader who has strengthened our military, stood for life for the unborn, supported Israel, built the wall , appointed conservative judges ect. And we lay down and abandon him JUST BECAUSE THE BIASED MEDIA HAS CALL THE ELECTION?? … I will go anywhere anytime to help our cause.

I know I’ve said in the distant past, that the Republican Party is mostly a big con but now the marks are getting into office and still don’t know it’s a con. Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog writes,

When I started blogging twenty years ago, I believed that the right-wing propaganda machine was a cynical means to an end: The people who said that Democrats want to turn America into a communist dictatorship after stealing multiple elections through widespread voter fraud with the help of a monolithically left-wing media didn’t actually believe what they were saying — it was disinformation intended to stir up the rabble and keep them voting Republican. Now, as I read the Talking Points Memo series based on text exchanges after the 2020 election between then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and other coup plotters, I’m reminded that a large number of Republican officeholders are high on their own supply. They’re part of the rabble that believes the nonsense their propaganda outlets peddle.

There’s some serious stuff in the texts. Rep. Rick Allen of Georgia was practically spamming Meadows with utterly wild conspiracy theories he got from “his source.” Example:

Romanian illegal activity 3:40 ? 50 million stolen us identities 7:37 ? used by thiefs for online shopping, loans, election fraud, 8:24 ? produce duplicate copies of driver licenses to commit election fraud 8:40 ? to allow mail in voting from home 9:12 ? emails, passwords and all the data from your phone or laptop..and they will use these data in the election process without you realizing. 10:18 ?Planning this since 2009 10:48 ?100,000 Ukrainian illegally into the USA and “mules” to blackmail 1m US citizens to vote 13:40 ?defrauding 50m US citizens over $100B over past 11 years 15:30 ?received a second set of data in 2018 15:50 ?consequences of Trump reelection

Okay, then. Allen also was leaning on Brad Raffensperger to do something about all that, whatever it is.

And Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona exchanged a bunch of texts with Mark Meadows while ballots were being counted in Arizona. And after that it was about how do we turn this around? Biggs sent this on November 13:

So one of the remedies that may still be left is to enjoin the certification of the election based on the Fed only ballots. If we can’t get the investigation done in time for that, we should make sure we have it done in time and can demonstrate that a significant number of illegal aliens votes in the election so that the legislature, when called into certify the electors, can reject them based on fraud. What do you think?

I am no lawyer, but it might be that those people who seriously believed the election had been stolen from Trump might not be guilty of sedition. But surely Mark Meadows must have realized on some level that the Big Lie is a lie. He’d spent too much time with Trump to not know deep down that Trump is nothing but a grifter.

The way Biggs is processing information in his head is interesting, in a clinical way. Trump didn’t get enough votes? Obviously, it’s because a bunch of illegal aliens voted. That’s the only possible explanation. Biggs is not overburdened with critical thinking skills, I suspect.

In other news: Tesla stock is crashing, although it hasn’t hit zero yet. The BBC has just reported that Elon Musk is no longer the world’s richest man.

Also in other news: The announced breakthrough in fusion energy is good news, and I hope it can be turned into something. But if the past is our guide the world’s media are about to be flooded with stories about how fusion causes cancer or turns people gay or some such, to turn the public against it. And eventually the stories will be traced back to Big Oil. Just watch.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Calls for Armed Insurrection

I’m just now catching up to something Marjorie Taylor Greene said over the weekend:

The Georgia Republican spoke Saturday at a dinner hosted by the New York Young Republican Club and recounted how her critics have incorrectly labeled her an organizer of the insurrection that left one person shot dead and led to the deaths of two other police officers.

“I want to tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. Not to mention, we would’ve been armed,” she said Saturday, according to the New York Post.

We all know MTG is dumber than a drawer full of odd socks, but there is no excuse for this. And there needs to be some kind of response to it, with teeth. Taking up arms against the government is not a joke. The White House has already issued a disapproving statement, but that’s not enough. The last time members of Congress openly advocated armed insurrection was just before the Civil War, I suspect.

Rolling Stone:

At the GOP dinner on Saturday night, Greene didn’t limit her comments to boasting that she and Bannon could have ended democracy as we know it on Jan. 6. She complained about policies to protect transgender children in the classroom and claimed that “teachers can pass around dildos, butt plugs and lube.” 

I keep saying, the only way to understand where the Right is coming from is to imagine they are all ten-year-old boys. Rolling Stone also reminds us that they have testimony MTG was in on the planning of January 6.

Two anonymous sources who organized the pro-Trump rally that preceded the Capitol attack have told Rolling Stone they recalled working with Greene on the rally. “I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” one organizer said. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.” 

Just for fun I looked up MTG’s district. Maybe we could persuade them to secede again. Just the district, of course, not the whole state of Georgia. If they like MTG they must want another Civil War.

Think Hawley Is Bad? Wait ‘Til You See Schmitt.

Awhile back I wrote about some men incarcerated in Missouri who were almost certainly wrongly convicted. One of those is Lamar Johnson. Johnson was convicted of murder in 1995. This is from a PBS report on Johnson:

[St. Louis circuit attorney Kimberly] Gardner’s investigation turned up even more proof of Johnson’s innocence. The prosecution’s eyewitness recanted, admitting he’d only identified Johnson because police told him Johnson was guilty.

And her team found records showing prosecutors paid that witness more than $4,000 for housing and expenses, information that was never disclosed to the defense.

So, you have no evidence that he committed the crime. You have the confession of two other people that they committed the crime and that he did not. You have raised pretty good questions about whether or not the trial was fair. People will ask, then why is he in prison?

Lamar Johnson is Black, and so is prosecutor Kimberly Gardner. The Meatballs in the state government hate Gardner with a white-hot passion. As far as the governor and other relics in Jefferson City are concerned, Johnson was convicted by a jury, and Gardner is just an uppity Black woman who is always going on about stuff they don’t want to hear. Even the state Supreme Court refused to act on Johnson’s case, because their reading of the law didn’t provide “actual innocence” as a reason for being released from jail.

Recently Gardner filed a motion to vacate Johnson’s conviction based on, you know, facts. A judge is scheduled to hear the case in the coming week. In steps state Attorney General and Senator-elect Eric Schmitt, who claimed that Gardner had withheld evidence that points to Johnson’s guilt. Schmitt filed a motion to sanction Gardner.

On Thursday, Schmitt filed a motion arguing Gardner should be sanctioned because her office failed to hand over a report about gunshot residue found on a jacket owned by Johnson.

Gardner’s office shot back, calling the jacket a “red herring” that wasn’t even used during the crime.

Half the men in this state probably have gunshot residue on them somewhere. This is a pro-gun state, you know.

The judge didn’t sanction Gardner but will allow the jacket to be admitted as evidence if anyone can prove Johnson was wearing it at the scene of the crime. And good luck with that.

But I’m bringing this up because this is the kind of crap Eric Schmitt pulls all the time. I’m sure he’s already made up his mind to be the biggest pain in the ass in Senate history. He might almost make Ted Cruz seem reasonable. Just wait.

Also, you may have seen the video of U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler, R-MO, having a meltdown over the Defense of Marriage Act. Hartzler also ran for Roy Blunt’s Senate seat.

Hartzler was considered by some to be a “moderate” candidate compared to Schmitt. And E.J. Dionne has a question

Many traditionalist Christians view homosexual relationships as sinful. I think they are wrong, but I acknowledge that this is a long-held view. Yet many of the same Christians also view adultery as a sin. Jesus was tough on divorce. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder,” he says in Matthew’s Gospel.

But unless I am missing something, we do not see court cases from website designers or florists or bakers about refusing to do business with people in their second or third marriages. We do not see the same ferocious response to adultery as we do to same-sex relationships. Heck, conservative Christians in large numbers were happy to put aside their moral qualms and vote twice for a serial adulterer. Why the selective forgiveness? Why the call to boycott only this one perceived sin?

Anyway — Paul Waldman had a great column last week called Republicans need to learn why the public keeps rejecting them.

Many Republicans want to spend the next two years stirring up culture war controversies and investigating Biden’s family, then nominate Trump again. Right now, a portion of their base remains consumed with the idea that they would have won the 2020 election if only nude photos of Hunter Biden had been more widely distributed on Twitter.

Some of them, of course, haven’t yet been rejected. Eric Schmitt probably thinks he’s going to take over Washington, and I can promise you he’ll make a massive spectacle of himself in the coming year. The House Republican MAGA caucus certainly isn’t going to moderate itself, either. We can count on the usual gasbags — Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, et al. — to continue to behave like spoiled pubescents and do nothing but make spectacles of themselves over the next two years. And I’d like to hope that, maybe, enough of the American public will get tired of it to keep spanking them in elections. Waldman, again:

Many of the core policy goals of the party are deeply unpopular, including its desire to outlaw abortion and give tax cuts to the wealthy, but those are unlikely to change. More than anything else, what the electorate has recoiled from is Trumpism in all its manifestations. The voters have pretty clearly had about enough with the election denialism, the QAnon conspiracy theories, the disregard for the law, the consorting with repugnant extremist bigots, and the relentless need to start petty squabbles with anyone and everyone.

It’s going to be really fun with the Trump indictments start to pile up.


Princess Kyrsten Wants Us to Know She’s Special

So Kyrsten Sinema has left the Democratic party and re-registered as an independent to shake up the Senate. The way I see it, she just primaried herself.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has done the inevitable: She is leaving the Democratic Party.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, the first-term senator said her decision to register as an independent in her home state “makes a lot of sense,” and that she won’t caucus with Republicans, meaning her decision won’t upset the balance of power in the US Senate after the reelection of Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia that gave Democrats a 51-49 majority earlier this week.

She told Tapper, “When I come to work each day, it’ll be the same,” Sinema said. “I’m going to still come to work and hopefully serve on the same committees I’ve been serving on and continue to work well with my colleagues at both political parties.”

Paul Campos at Lawyers, Guns and Money: “My favorite detail in this is that she won’t commit to caucusing with the Democrats, but she expects to keep all her committee assignments!” Yeah, that’s a knee slapper. The other Senate independents, Bernie Sanders and Angus King, formally caucus with Democrats and are counted as Dems as far as committees are concerned. Sinema possibly hadn’t thought that one out.

Aaron Blake at WaPo:

She becomes the first senator to leave her party since Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in 2009. 

Like Specter, Sinema looked set to face an arduous primary if she sought reelection with her former party, given the maneuvering of Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) to run against her. So the move makes some sense for her personally.

But what about the political impact more broadly?

The first thing to note is that it remains unclear whether Sinema will continue to caucus with Democrats, as two other independents in the Senate do. When asked about this, Sinema spokesman Pablo Sierra-Carmona said merely that “she intends to maintain her committee assignments from the Democratic majority. She has never and will not attend caucus messaging or organizational meetings.”

That sounds like she would effectively caucus with Democrats — that is, align with them for purposes of organizing the Senate — but for some reason is avoiding saying so directly. And she has said she’s not sure whether her desk will remain on the Democratic side of the Senate. Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether her move would change the balance of power in the Senate, she responded, “that’s kind of a D.C. thing to worry about.”

This question doesn’t immediately matter when it comes to whether Democrats will retain the Senate majority, but it does matter. They will have at least a 50-49 edge as long as Sinema doesn’t caucus with the GOP. But if her plan is to leave the Democratic caucus, that would make Sen. Raphael G. Warnock’s (D-Ga.) win in Tuesday’s runoff potentially hugely significant.

She’s up for re-election in 2024, and her running as an independent will probably mean she’ll be replaced by a Republican in 2025. I can’t imagine why she would think she could win as an independent.

Adventures in Democracy

The House passed the Defense of Marriage Act, again.

The House had already passed an earlier version of the Respect for Marriage Act in July, but the Senate delayed its vote on the bill until after the midterm elections. Late last month, the Senate passed the bill with a bipartisan amendment to allay some Republicans’ concerns about religious liberty. The amended bill passed the Senate in a 61-36 vote, with 12 Republican senators joining Democrats in favor of it.

In a 258-169 vote, the House on Thursday passed the bill with the amendment, which clarifies that the federal government would not be authorized to recognize polygamous marriages and confirms that nonprofit religious organizations would not be required to provide “any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.” Thirty-nine Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting the measure.

Weirdly, 47 House Republicans voted for the original bill, but only 39 for the amended bill. So they added an amendment to make it more conservative friendly and lost eight Republican votes. The hardline conservative caucus in the House pressured members to vote against it, I understand. I don’t have a list of which Republicans voted for the final bill, but I do know the list includes Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. No surprise there. Now President Biden can sign it, and it’s law.

In other news, Brittney Griner has been freed, exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. But Paul Whelan is still in a Russian prison.

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Moore v. Harper, the case the case that asks whether democracy is protected by the Constitution. Or, it deals with partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina and a far-right legal idea known as the independent state legislature (ISL) theory. ISL theory claims that only state legislatures have the authority to govern elections in their states, and what the legislatures decide cannot be vetoed by governors or state supreme courts. SCOTUS endorsement of ISL could potentially lead to state legislatures overturning elections if they don’t like the results.

It sounds as if the lawyers challenging ISL got the upper hand yesterday. Dahlia Lithwick:

The fake constitutional history supporting this nonexistent constitutional doctrine is so lacking in substance that it was almost impossible to believe that the high court could spend three hours taking it seriously.

The results were almost beyond parody: At one point, the North Carolina GOP legislature’s lawyer, David Thompson, in court to argue that the power to set election procedures is unreviewable by state courts, said that he would soon prove that this was the express intent of virtually all of the colonies from the jump. Justice Sonia Sotomayor mustered a terse response: “Yes if you rewrite history, it’s very easy to do …”

Justice Kagan said,

This is a theory with big consequences. It would say that if a legislature engages in the most extreme forms of gerrymandering, there is no state constitutional remedy even if the courts think that that’s a violation of the constitution. It would say that legislators could enact all manner of restrictions on voting, get rid of all kinds of voter protections that the state constitution in fact prohibits. It might allow the legislatures to insert themselves and to give themselves a role in the certification of elections and the way election results are calculated. So in all these ways, I think what might strike a person is that this is a proposal that gets rid of the normal checks and balances on the way big governmental decisions are made in this country.

Well, yes. See also at Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson Asks Simplest, Most Damning Question As Supreme Court Entertains Canceling Democratic Elections at Above the Law.

As the argument unfolded, three distinct camps emerged, with Jackson, Kagan, and Sotomayor opposed to the whole goofy theory; Alito, Gorsuch, and Thomas thrilling at the prospect of authoritarian rule; and the Chief, Barrett, and Kavanaugh wishing there was some way to let Republicans gerrymander at will without turning North Carolina elections into North Korean elections.

I liked this part.

Neal Katyal went right at the conservatives with receipts — straight up calling his shot, announcing that he’d been “waiting for this case” so he could unload his can of originalism on Justice Thomas — quoting back their own opinions from every time the shoe was on the other foot, prompting a series of blubbering exchanges from the frustrated justices. His exchange with Gorsuch set the tone. The justice asked Katyal for “one example” of the Court employing Katyal’s theory. He cited a 19th century example. “*grumble* Put that aside!” He cited another. Gorsuch rants and raves trying to figure out why he hadn’t researched this point.

And I liked this part:

But amid all the twists and turns from Justice Kagan’s incisive questioning (not-too-far-off translation by Professor Leah Litman: “So this theory could end our democracy. Response?“) to Justice Gorsuch arguing that the independent legislature theory is how pre-Civil War Virginia was a bulwark against the 3/5ths clause (or some nonsense), Justice Jackson delivered the most devastating bodyblow (no transcript… so this may be inexact):

I guess I don’t understand how you can cut the state constitution out of the equation when it is giving the state legislature authority to exercise the legislative power.

And Mark Joseph Stern:

After three hours of oral arguments at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, only one thing is certain: If the justices want to blow up federal elections, they will have nothing to hide behind—not history, not logic, and certainly not the Constitution. The three lawyers defending democracy methodically dismantled the “independent state legislature” theory from every conceivable angle, debunking each myth, misreading, and misrepresentation deployed to prop it up. They bested the conservative justices who tried to corner them, identifying faulty reasoning and bogus history with devastating precision.

Those of us who’ve been ringing the alarm over this dangerous theory—and who’ve been disgusted by the campaign to drag it from the far-right fringe all the way to the Supreme Court—can take solace knowing that these capable lawyers exposed it as an utter fraud. 

We can’t celebrate yet, of course, because any time the future of democracy depends on the whims of Kavanaugh, Barrett, and Roberts — well, it ain’t good.


The Rev. Warnock Can Stop Campaigning Now

I’ve got to agree with Josh Marshall, that it’s a bad idea to watch television coverage on election nights.

If you’re into elections and want to watch results on election night you should never watch them on TV. Ever. If you were watching last night’s election on TV you probably had the sense the race was a close run thing with the lead bouncing back and forth, with Herschel Walker possibly mounting a comeback after weeks of coverage that made Raphael Warnock appear a favorite to win a full term. If you watched the results through my curated Twitter feed of election number crunchers, though, you saw something very different: from the very first returns it looked likely — and then with growing clarity — that the results would roughly bear out the polls, which showed Warnock with a modest but significant lead. The final results this morning show Warnock beating Walker by just shy of three percentage points, almost on the dot of what the consensus of polls predicted.

I decided I couldn’t deal with three hours of Steve Kornacki. I had the teevee tuned to to some crime drama thing, while I alternated between watching the good guys chase bad guys and checking the live feeds of commentary at the New York Times, Talking Points Memo, and other places. And by 8:30 Central Time the live feeds were saying “Warnock’s got this,” even though Walker was actually a bit ahead in the vote count at the time. A bit after 9 Central Time I happened to be looking at the vote totals on the WaPo page when it updated to show Warnock the projected winner. So then I knew it was safe to tune to MSNBC again. I don’t know if the people on CBS at that hour caught the bad guy, but I got to watch Rev. Warnock’s acceptance speech. Nice.

Still, it was damn close. Right now, with 99 percent of votes counted, it’s Warnock 51.4% and Walker 48.6%. Some commenters this morning are saying that a more “normal” Republican could have won, and I can’t argue. As atrocious a candidate as Walker was, he sure got a lot of votes.

Paul Campos writes at Lawyers, Guns & Money:

If we want to be pessimistic about things, we can focus on the fact that Herschel Walker — an almost indescribably terrible candidate by all conventional metrics regarding qualifications, such as being able to read, knowing the difference between the House and the Senate, not coercing the women he was beating up into abortions etc. — got almost exactly the same percentage of the vote in the runoff (48.6%) as the two other most recent Republican senate candidates (Kelly Loeffler, 49%; David Perdue, 49.4%).

More optimistically, this was 2022 not 2020, and the other Republican statewide candidates for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state all got between 52% and 53% of the vote, suggesting strongly that Walker’s absurd buffoonery of a campaign cost the Republicans about 4% of the vote, i.e., a deplorably small but ultimately decisive margin. Note that these other candidates were standard issue reactionary middle aged white guys, who kept the MAGA rhetoric mostly tamped down, didn’t seem to be severely brain damaged, and didn’t have a long line of women claiming that they had forced them to have abortions after beating them up and so forth.

In the runoff election on January 5, 2021, Warnock beat Kelly Loeffler 51% to 49%. I hadn’t remembered this, but Loeffler was planning to challenge the election result. Then January 6 happened, and she changed her mind and conceded.

Republicans are pointing out that the midterm elections in Georgia were very good for Republicans except for the Senate race. And this was because not-MAGA Republicans won the primaries, and then the GOP nominees went on to win the general. I get a sense that the GOP is mightily pissed at Trump for pushing Walker into the primary. But I’m not sure that Georgia has become quite as purple as some excited Democratic commenters believe. It does point to a path for Republicans to stop kowtowing to Trump, however.

Speaking of Trump — a couple of classified documents have just turned up in a a federally run storage site in West Palm Beach

Former President Donald J. Trump hired people to search four properties after being directed by a federal judge to look harder for any classified material still in his possession, and they found at least two documents with classified markings inside a sealed box in one of the locations, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump’s search team discovered the documents at a federally run storage site in West Palm Beach, Fla., the person said, prompting his lawyers to notify the Justice Department about them.

And here’s more background on the counties subpoenaed by Jack Smith.

Trump Organization Found Guilty!

Trump Organization Convicted in New York Criminal Tax Fraud Trial:

Former president Donald Trump’s namesake company was convicted Tuesday of tax crimes committed by two of its longtime executives after a Manhattan trial that gave jurors a peek at some of the inner workings of the Trump Organization’s finances.

The real estate, hospitality and golf resort operation headquartered at Trump Tower on Fifth Ave. faces the possibility of a $1.6 million fine. New York Supreme Court jurors began their deliberations mid-day on Monday.

The company was charged with scheme to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records.

In other news, Special Counsel Subpoenas At Least 5 Key Counties For Trump Comms Around 2020 Election.

Special Counsel Jack Smith obtained grand jury subpoenas last month for communications between Trump, his campaign, and top campaign staffers and local officials in Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

TPM has reviewed a subpoena issued to the Milwaukee County Clerk, dated Nov. 22.

The subpoenas went to at least five counties in swing states where the Trump campaign sought to reverse the election results in 2020.

They are Dane County, Wisconsin, Maricopa County, Arizona, and Wayne County, Michigan, the Washington Post reported. TPM confirmed Tuesday that another subpoena was sent to officials in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and received a copy of the subpoena issued to Milwaukee County.

The Georgia Runoff and the Fate of the Nation

Today’s the day — with any luck — we’ll finally see the end of the 2020 midterms. The FiveThirtyEight nerds say that Warnock has a slight lead, but Walker could still win. To me, that there are people bright enough to dress themselves and eat with a fork who will still vote for Walker is what’s wrong with America.

For example, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed a voter who said he was voting for Walker because he was afraid the Democrats would regulate cryptocurrency.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: One complication of the race today is that there was a libertarian candidate for the Senate seat in the November 8 election who ran a very distant third. But because this was a ranked choice vote, whoever those voters listed as their second choice will get those votes today. That seems weird, especially since those same voters are eligible to vote in today’s election. I question whether that’s accurate. But it is worrisome. Libertarians would probably have picked Walker over Warnock.

Awhile back I noted that the National Republican Senatorial Committee, still headed by Rick Scott, was sending out fund raising appeals ostensibly to elect Herschel Walker, but only one cent of every dollar donated was actually going to Herschel Walker’s campaign. Now the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that  Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Burgess Owens are doing something similar.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Burgess Owens are raising money on behalf of Herschel Walker ahead of Tuesday’s Senate runoff election against Democrat Sen. Rafael Warnock, warning the Georgia Republican could be the final bulwark against President Joe Biden’s agenda. It is not immediately apparent to donors that half of the money they contribute will go to Walker’s campaign, while Lee or Owens keeps the other half.

Well, at least half the money being raised for Walker is going to Walker. That’s better than what the NRSC was doing. But Mediaite is reporting that lots of people in the GOP are pulling this same trick — sending out fundraising appeals for Walker but keeping a chunk of the donations for their own campaign committees or PACs. Names dropped include Donald Trump, J.D Vance, and Ted Budd. Meanwhile, money raised to re-elect Raphael Warnock is all going to Raphael Warnock.