Let the Playacting Begin!

Today is the day for voting rights legislation, or H1/S1. But we remain in a kind of play-acting drama. Kirsten Sinema remains steadfast in her opposition to ending the filibuster, a position she reaffirmed last night. But she’s a preening clown. More interesting, befuddling, bizarre is the stance of Joe Manchin.

As you’ll remember, a couple weeks ago, Manchin announced he was opposed to the For the People Act (H1/S1). This didn’t turn the tables too dramatically since that really only meant that the bill went from being ten votes short of 60 to eleven votes short of 60. But then a few days ago Manchin came forward with a revised version of the bill which he said he did support.

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Where Things Stand: Dem Calls For GOPers Ouster After Latest Jan 6 Conspiracy Theory
Prime Membership Required

Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) yesterday called for the removal of three of his colleagues — Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) — from Congress over their promotion of the far-right’s latest wild conspiracy theory surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Moulton told CNN Sunday the trio were “traitors” who are attempting to “whitewash history” by hyping the theory, which makes the case that the FBI was actually the entity responsible for the Jan. 6 attack.

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The Era of Email Newsletters

As you may know we’re in the midst of an burgeoning era of email newsletters. We have two new or upgraded ones ourselves: The Franchise (on voting rights and democracy) and The Weekender. (You can sign up for both here.) There’s also Substack, a newsletter platform which now hosts a substantial number of established journalists (and newcomers) who are striking out on their own as one-man/-woman shops with revenue from recurring subscriptions. There’s even been some controversy in the case of Substack because they have basically fronted a year of guaranteed revenue to a number of journalists with established followings. Substack thinks it will make money on those advances and does so because it wants as many proofs of concept on the platform as possible. Nothing surprising or controversial there, though some think otherwise.

A key part of the newsletter revival is the subscription model, one which I’ve discussed at great length as a key to TPM’s survival and current vitality. That is a key part of their attractiveness. The greatest financial challenge to journalism today is the dominating role occupied by platform monopolies which take from publications their longstanding role as gatekeepers and profit centers for commercial speech. Direct relationships with readers via subscriptions cuts right through that existential challenge.

But it’s not the business model of newsletters that brings me to write about them today. It’s the more intangible or elusive qualities that makes them attractive to readers. The apparently viable business model makes them attractive to independent journalists and publications. But none of it would work if there wasn’t demonstrable demand. And that demand very clearly exists.

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Read Gregory Downs’ history of Juneteenth, originally published in 2015.

Could the Court Toss a Ban on Partisan Gerrymandering?

Last week I noted that even if Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is watering down the For the People Act, his somewhat diminished version is still very much worth fighting for. Part of my argument is that the ban on partisan gerrymandering is likely the most important part of the legislation. And Manchin appears to be saying that he supports that part of the bill.

Now, a number of you have written in to ask how excited we can be about that given the GOP majority (yes, intentional usage) Supreme Court which is often inclined to use the most facially absurd arguments if they advance conservative ideology or the present interests of the Republican party (yes, this is definitely still true). Or to put it more directly, how likely are those provisions to withstand the scrutiny of this Supreme Court?

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I teased it yesterday, and now it’s live. Josh Kovensky peels back the layers of “ItalyGate” (not familiar? Josh will explain). Along the way, he finds a surprising cameo by a longtime TPM fixture, threads into Iceland and Somalia (no, really), and a cast of characters that will leave you scratching your head. It’s rollicking good fun, but remember this is the crap Trump’s White House chief of staff was pushing the Justice Department to look into. It’s a classic TPM story.

Check Back Tomorrow

We have a Josh Kovensky must-read coming Saturday. You won’t want to miss it, even on a holiday weekend. Trust me: it’s a lot of fun.

Very Important

We’re off to a solid start to our second annual drive for The TPM Journalism Fund. It’s super important for TPM (more details here) and it’s a critical way to keep TPM thriving and focused on original reporting. If you haven’t yet, please consider clicking here to contribute to The TPM Journalism Fund.

Where Things Stand: All The Grievances
Prime Membership Required

The Senate minority leader is showing a bit more of his cards than usual.

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The Right Isn’t Done With Juneteenth

As I noted below, my first reaction to the news that Juneteenth was becoming a federal holiday was shock. Given all the rightwing freak-outs we’ve seen about BLM, CRT, the 1619 Project and all the rest I was shocked, albeit very pleasantly, by the fact that congressional Republicans voted overwhelmingly in favor of making the day a federal holiday. In his new newsletter (The Uprising), TPM Alum Hunter Walker looks at the fourteen members of the House who voted against the holiday and their various excuses for doing so. There he notes right wing activist Charlie Kirk tweeting that Juneteenth is a kind of effort to cancel July 4th.

“America only has one Independence Day and it’s on July 4th, 1776. If you’re a conservative who is okay with the ‘Juneteenth National Independence Day Act,’ you’re not paying attention to what the left is truly trying to accomplish.”

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Elections officials in two Georgia counties sued by former President Donald Trump after the 2020 election have recovered legal fees, which they say came from the plaintiffs in the case: Trump, his campaign and Georgia’s Republican Party chair.

| News

The long-awaited moment is here: The Senate will vote on whether to proceed with Democrats’ sweeping voting rights bill, the For The People Act/S. 1, this evening. While Republicans have vowed to block it, and will, today’s vote will test whether all 50 Senate Democrats are unified in taking this preliminary step. Without 50 Democrats now, there’s no chance of blowing up the filibuster later.

  • Music to McConnell’s ears: In case you still had any doubts, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who co-sponsored S.1, very much stands by her refusal to blow up the filibuster. She made exactly that point in a new Washington Post op-ed last night.


Trump’s Legal Woes Are Piling Up

Another top executive at the Trump Organization has gotten roped into Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s criminal investigation, according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • Who’s entangled in this mess now? Matthew Calamari (yes that’s really his name), who serves as the company’s chief operating officer. Prosecutors are reportedly examining whether Calamari received untaxed fringe benefits.
  • That’s the same thing they’re reportedly looking into with Allen Weisselberg.
  • But if it makes Trump feel any better, it doesn’t seem like the prosecutors have found much success in trying to get Weisselberg to flip. The CFO still shows up for work at Trump Tower as normal, according to WaPo.



| News

Before Texas filed a lawsuit that asked the Supreme Court to block President Biden’s win in four battleground states, a draft of the petition was circulated to the Louisiana attorney general’s office.

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| News

In the minds of the right, the international communist threat is back. And this time, it’s not just personal — it’s genetic.

At least, that’s according to a letter that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent to President Biden this week.

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| News

Nearly three months after the head of Michigan’s Republican Party unveiled an audacious plan that would allow GOP legislators to circumvent the state’s Democratic governor’s veto to pass restrictive voting laws, the contours of the scheme remain murky. 

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| Muckraker

Over the past two months of infrastructure talks, there’s been a constant refrain from Republican negotiators: why not just use all the unspent COVID aid money to pay for the bill?

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| Cafe

As a lifelong novel consumer who enjoys throwing myself into other worlds for hours on end, it probably won’t come as a surprise that I don’t read too many short stories.

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