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COMMENTARY

‘Knives Are Out’: McCarthy Launches Bid for Speaker Despite Majority Not Assured, Predictions of ‘Spectacular S-Show’

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Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has just launched his bid to become Speaker of the House in a letter on his official government website, but his plans to take the gavel from Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been massively hampered after it quickly became clear that no “red wave” would appear Tuesday night, and it remains uncertain which party will have the majority in the House.

The first warning, of course, came after McCarthy’s prediction one year ago this week, as MSNBC’s Steve Benen noted today, that Republicans would flip more than 60 seats on Election Day did not happen — not even close. And in McCarthy’s usual style, he not only had bragged they would, he made it personal.

“If you’re a Democrat and President Biden won your seat by 16 points, you’re in a competitive race next year. You are no longer safe,” McCarthy told reporters last week, as The Hill had reported.

“It’ll be more than 70 [Democratic seats] that will be competitive. There’s many that are going to lose their races based upon walking off a cliff from [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] pushing them,” McCarthy said nastily. “She may not care if she lose. She lost 63 the last time she was Speaker moving policy that the country didn’t care for.”

READ MORE: ‘Absolute Disaster’: Veteran Conservative Pundit Warns Republicans’ Midterms Performance Is ‘Searing Indictment’ of GOP

“Many believe she won’t stay around” in Congress, McCarthy added, telling House Democrats: “So she’s not going to be there to defend you.”

That turned out to be massively false. At best, if Republicans do take the House majority, MSNBC has been projecting about 225 GOP seats, so a majority of around seven or so.

The second sign was McCarthy’s disastrous “Take Back the House” party during which he apparently expected to announce he would run for Speaker.

It was conspicuously delayed. By hours.

This was the scene at midnight for his expected announcement, via CBS News’ Caitlin Huey-Burns.

1:50 AM:

2:00 AM:

And yet, despite the lengthy delay of several hours, McCarthy remained cocky and apparently unaware of how things work.

Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich at 1:47 AM tweeted, “GOP source tells me ‘if it wasn’t clear before it should be now. We have a Trump problem.'”

Remember, that’s from a Fox News reporter.

READ MORE: ‘How Is This Not a Red Wave?’: Frustrated Fox & Friends Hosts Struggle to Understand Election Results

She continued, saying, if there’s a slim GOP majority, the “Knives are out for Kevin McCarthy.”

Late Tuesday night The Atlantic’s Tim Alberta noted, “Folks, if you’re wondering how Speaker Kevin McCarthy would handle a 6- or 7-seat majority, it’s worth considering there may never be a Speaker Kevin McCarthy at all.”

In other words, McCarthy does not appear to have a lock on the Speaker’s gavel, even if the Republicans take the majority.

Indeed, just past midnight, CBS News Chief Election and Campaign Correspondent Robert Costa reported: “Several House GOP sources tell CBS after midnight tonight that they are now increasingly worried that if GOP wins a narrow House majority, it’ll be utter chaos for McCarthy/leadership team. Rep. [Marjorie Taylor Greene] & her allies would have much more sway in a tight GOP House, the sources predict.”

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes summed up what some appeared to be thinking.

“One of the possibilities currently on the table is Speaker Kevin McCarthy presiding over, like, a 10-vote R majority in the house, which will be a *spectacular* s-show.”

To which former Biden White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki replied, “If he can get elected speaker with that narrow of a majority…”

A reporter for the far right Newsmax adds, “Despite the talk of Trump today, a lot of the blame in GOP circles is being allocated to Rep. Kevin McCarthy who insiders say may not have the votes to be Speaker in the likely event Republicans take House control.”

It’s not looking like an “easy ascension” to the Speakership for Leader McCarthy.

“House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is moving swiftly to lock down the votes to claim the speaker’s gavel as a hard-right faction of his conference discusses whether to mount a long-shot challenge to complicate his bid and force concessions in the process, according to multiple GOP sources,” CNN reports Wednesday at 1:45 PM ET.

“McCarthy privately spoke to his closest advisers and confidantes in a Wednesday morning phone call just hours after his party appeared on track to take the House but fell short of their bullish expectations of a massive GOP landslide. The California Republican tapped a group of members to be on his whip team that will help him secure the 218 votes in order to win the speakership in January, with GOP lawmakers on the call promising to ‘work hard to get him elected,’ according to a source familiar with the matter.”

“But McCarthy’s easy ascension to the speakership will be determined in large part by the size of a potential GOP majority. If McCarthy maintains a narrow majority, then the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus could stand in the way of his leadership ambitions. CNN has not yet projected a Republican takeover of the chamber.”

 

 

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COMMENTARY

Donald Trump Just Called for Another Coup and Hardly Anyone Even Noticed

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Donald Trump, the one-term ex-president who is running for the Republican nomination for president once again, on Monday advocated for yet another coup against the United States.

Trump is currently under at least four criminal investigations: his unlawful retention and refusal to return classified and other White House documents; his alleged election fraud attempts in Georgia; his alleged hush money payment to two women and the campaign finance issues those raise; and his alleged attempted coup, sometimes referred to as an “autocoup, or “autogolpe” – a self-coup – and the actions he took surrounding the January 6 insurrection.

After Trump’s expected GOP challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, was widely mocked two weeks ago for being unable to tell a reporter from a Murdoch outlet in the UK how he would handle the U.S. efforts to support Ukraine against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal war, Fox’s Tucker Carlson submitted written questions to all current and potential GOP presidential candidates.

DeSantis, in that now-infamous interview, had responded to the Ukraine question by telling the reporter: “Perhaps you should cover some other ground?” and, “I think I’ve said enough.”

READ MORE: Trump Falsely Says Mike Pence Is to ‘Blame’ for Violence on January 6

On Monday, sharing with viewers DeSantis’ new, written response, Carlson declared the Ukraine issue is the most important question of our time: “Until tonight, no one could really say with precision where he stood on the war in Ukraine, which is arguably the most important topic in the world.”

DeSantis’ response made news largely because it is in direct opposition to current U.S. policy. The far-right Florida governor declared the war against Ukraine a mere “territorial dispute” and not in America’s “vital national interests,” as NBC News reported. (Experts disagree with DeSantis’ position, with some calling the war against Ukraine a genocide.)

Trump’s response, however, should have drawn as much attention.

Carlson, in the video below, very specifically says he submitted six questions about Ukraine to Trump, DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Kristi Noem, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Greg Abbott, Tim Scott, Chris Christie, Chris Sununu, Asa Hutchinson, John Bolton and Vivek Ramaswamy. (Not all responded.)

According to the segment on his show Monday night, none of those questions included a question about “regime change” in Russia.

And yet Trump’s, DeSantis’ and Pence’s responses did, so it’s possible Carlson wasn’t being fully transparent, although why he didn’t mention he asked that question seems important. And to be clear, the Biden administration has made clear regime change in Russia is not the goal.

So, first, here’s DeSantis’ response that mentions “regime change”:

“A policy of ‘regime change’ in Russia (no doubt popular among the DC foreign policy interventionists) would greatly increase the stakes of the conflict, making the use of nuclear weapons more likely. Such a policy would neither stop the death and destruction of the war, nor produce a pro-American, Madisonian constitutionalist in the Kremlin. History indicates that Putin’s successor, in this hypothetical, would likely be even more ruthless. The costs to achieve such a dubious outcome could become astronomical.”

READ MORE: Chasten Buttigieg Accuses Mike Pence of Using Couple’s Twins as a ‘Punchline’ in Homophobic Attack

And here’s Trump’s response that mentions “regime change”:

“Should the United States support regime change in Russia?”

“No. We should support regime change in the United States, that’s far more important. The Biden administration are the ones who got us into this mess,” Trump wrote, according to Carlson.

“Regime change,” as most know, is the removal of a current government, often by force, which could also be called a coup.

If you google the definition of “regime change,” you’ll find this: “the replacement of one administration or government by another, especially by means of military force.”

Certainly not at the ballot box.

Some might say, as they often do, “Well, maybe Donald Trump doesn’t know what the term really means.”

He does.

May 27, 2019: Asked about his military buildup in the Middle East and his pull-out of President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, Trump told reporters, “We’re not looking for regime change. I want to make that clear.”

January 3, 2020: “President Donald Trump said Friday that America does not seek ‘regime change’ in Iran, less than a day after the U.S. launched an airstrike that killed the country’s top general, Qasem Soleimani.”

Donald Trump called for another coup Monday night.

Watch Carlson’s segment below or at this link.

READ MORE: Trump: ‘World War III Is Looming’ and We Are ‘Doomed’ if You Don’t Put Me Back in the White House

 

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COMMENTARY

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Signs Law Gutting Child Labor Protections for Minors Under 16 Years Old

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Arkansas Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed into law a bill further destabilizing minors in what was once called the “Land of Opportunity.” Her signature comes on the same day lawmakers sent to her desk a sprawling bill revamping Arkansas’ education system to allow wealthy families to remove funds from public elementary and secondary schools and put them into private tuition.

On Tuesday, Huckabee Sanders, barely months into her term, signed HB1410, the Youth Hiring Act, which guts child labor protections and removes what the new governor called “arbitrary” and “burdensome and obsolete” regulations that required the state to verify the age of anyone working who is under 16-years old.

Those regulations merely required “children under the age of 16 obtain an employment certificate, which is accessible to local school officials, before a company can hire them,” Quartz reports. “The change would end one of the only oversight mechanisms for child labor in the state.”

The new law “rolls back significant portions of the state’s child labor protections,” The Washington Post reports.

READ MORE: Fox’s Bartiromo Admitted to Banning Staff From Calling Joe Biden ‘President-Elect’: Report

Before Gov. Huckabee signed the bill into law, children under 16 were required “to verify their age and provide a description of the work schedule, as well as a parent or legal guardian’s consent, in the certificate,” according to Quartz.

While Republican governors and lawmakers across the country have taken up the mantle of “parents’ rights” as they support bans on books, sex education, and any discussion of LGBTQ people, Governor Huckabee has removed the right of parents to be informed of or consent to their young minor children getting a job.

Before Huckabee Sanders signed the Youth Hiring Act, state law prohibited “children under 16 from working more than eight hours a day, more than six days a week and more than 48 hours per week,” KNOE reported. “Opponents of House Bill 1410 have expressed concerns it will open the door to violations of these child labor requirements and put children at risk of human trafficking.”

READ MORE: Anti-LGBTQ Bills Filed in States This Year Rapidly Approaching 400 – Already More Than in All of 2022: ACLU

Quartz also reports that Governor Huckabee, who mentions her own three children in her official state biography, signed the law stripping rights from parents and children just weeks after the U.S. Dept. of Labor fined a slaughterhouse cleaning company $1.5 million for child labor violations, involving over 100 children. That fine includes $150,000 for two locations in Huckabee’s state of Arkansas.

This week Huckabee Sanders flooded her Twitter page with tweets praising her education legislation, including from former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other “school choice” activists who call taking public education funds and handing them to private and faith-based institutions education or school “choice.” She posted not one tweet mentioning her stripping parents’ rights and children’s protections from state law.

 

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COMMENTARY

FBI Director Wray Promotes COVID ‘Lab Leak’ Theory on Fox News, Leading Some Republicans to Talk About ‘Bioweapons’

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FBI Director Chris Wray promoted the “lab leak” theory of COVID-19’s origins in a Tuesday evening interview on the right-wing propaganda cable TV network Fox News. Wray’s poorly-worded and confusing remarks led some, including several GOP lawmakers, to wrongly propose he may have been suggesting COVID was a bioweapon from China. They also quickly made their way into a congressional hearing less than one hour later when far-right Republican Rep. Jim Banks, citing the FBI Director’s claim, asked if “there is a chance that the Wuhan lab was involved in bioweapons research?”

Director Wray, who was appointed by Donald Trump in 2017, told Fox News’ Bret Baier the “FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan.”

His “lab leak” claim is not the consensus of the medical or scientific communities, nor the intelligence community, nor the federal government of the United States, nor the World Health Organization.

As NPR noted, “Wray’s remarks are the first in public by a senior law enforcement official following the Energy Department’s classified report, published by the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, saying the pandemic was likely caused by a lab leak in China. That assessment was reportedly ‘low confidence.'”

READ MORE: Buttigieg Goes On Offense as Republicans Attack

In remarks that could further fray the already damaged relationship between Washington and Beijing, Director Wray tossed around the allegation that COVID is the result of “a potential leak from a Chinese government controlled lab that killed millions of Americans and that’s precisely what that capability was designed for.”

His remarks have been seen as confusing.

In context, here’s what Wray said (video is below): “The FBI has folks, agents, professionals, analysts, virologists, microbiologists, etc., who focus specifically on the dangers of biological threats which include things like novel viruses like COVID. And the concerns that in the wrong hands, some bad guys, a hostile nation state, a terrorist, a criminal, the threats that those those could pose. So here you’re talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab that killed millions of Americans and that’s precisely what that capability was designed for.”

(Wray is off on the U.S. death toll, which is estimated to be 1,145,661.)

There’s debate on what Wray meant when he said, “that’s precisely what that capability was designed for.” Some took that to mean China’s Wuhan lab was “designed for” making bioweapons, and some took that to mean the FBI’s “folks” have the capability to investigate those biological threats.

Crooked Media editor-in-chief Brian Beutler, responding to a Twitter user, said: “To state the obvious, this isn’t the most natural construction of the actual words Wray spoke. But if it’s what he *meant* he needs to correct his own error in a high profile setting, because as it stands he just told millions of Fox viewers COVID is probably a Chinese bioweapon.”

Economist and frequent political commentator David Rothschild also pointed to Wray’s confusing remarks, tweeting, “Pretty sure Trump’s man (Wray) *meant* that figuring out how the virus started & spread is what FBI’s capabilities are designed for not that the Chinese intentionally created & leaked the virus to kill millions of Americans: Wray should clarify what he spewed on Republican TV.”

And indeed, it didn’t take long for another far-right Republican, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, to make clear why what Wray said was dangerous and reckless: “Chris Wray made it sound like #Covid was part of a bioweapons program.”

The Director also said, “our work related to this continues and there are not a whole lot of details I can share that aren’t classified. I will just make the observation that the Chinese government seems to me has been doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate the work here, the work that we’re doing the work that our U.S. government and close foreign partners are doing, and that’s unfortunate for everybody.”

NPR, reporting on Wray’s remarks, noted that “the FBI’s assessment is far from universal. Four other U.S. intelligence agencies as well as the National Intelligence Council say, with low confidence, that COVID emerged through natural transmission.”

READ MORE: ‘Just a Disgrace’: Former DOJ Officials Express Concern, Call for Resignation of FBI Director Wray

“Eight U.S. government agencies are investigating the source of COVID-19, and they remain very divided on the issue. None of them is certain about the cause. Four lean toward natural causes. Two haven’t taken a position,” NPR’s report adds.. “Meanwhile, the evidence produced by the greater scientific community points overwhelmingly to a natural cause, via exposure to an infected animal.”

NBC News reporter Kevin Collier posted the Intelligence Community’s assessment, which was produced prior to Wray’s Tuesday night remarks. He notes the IC assessment “hid which agency thinks what,” and adds: “That the FBI decided to come forth like this, and doing so by heavily touting a major Wray interview on Fox News, is certainly a choice.”

After his interview the FBI posted a portion of his remarks to Twitter.

Others were also quick to respond to Wray’s remarks.

“Wray now claiming lab leak of bioweapon designed to kill Americans,” tweeted the founder and publisher of Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall.

Nicholas Bauer, PhD, tweeted, “Biden should fire Wray. Not because of the underlying content – the FBI hasn’t changed its position – but poor judgment to get interviewed on Fox News and participate in this clearly choreographed media influence blitz.”

Journalist, author, and conspiracy theory expert Mike Rothschild slammed Director Wray: “‘Most likely a potential lab incident’ is pretty big hedge from Wray regarding the lab leak theory. Also, why is the FBI giving an opinion on something that seems like the CIA or CDC’s territory?”

“This is a meaningless statement that sounds designed to do nothing other than get airtime on Fox News,” Rothschild added. “How did they assess this? What is the evidence? What *exact* path did the ‘leak’ take?”

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mike Lee Spread Anti-Ukraine Disinformation With Deceptively-Edited Viral Video

 

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