More to ignore, Book 105...

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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.....Mutual recriminations will ping-pong around right-wing circles in the coming days and weeks. Most will likely center on “messaging,” candidate choices and other such tactical failures. It’s true that local circumstances shape any midterm election — we live in a vast and variegated country, and each race has its own contours. Still, in an era when national politics exerts such a strong gravitational pull on local elections, the most important question is: What sort of national vision did the Republican Party offer working Americans in 2022?

It’s hard to say, really. The best I can come up with is something like this: Hand us the keys to government, but don’t expect us to give you anything in return. And in that indifference lies the central problem bedeviling Republicans up and down the ballot......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Kherson is liberated

Mark Sumner

The 11th of November already has a storied place in the history of warfare. But this morning the people of Kherson, and the entering troops of Ukraine, didn’t bother waiting for the 11th minute of the 11th hour. They just got right down to celebrating.



These soldiers are actually members of the Kherson police who joined the military to help free their city.



At this hour, locals have already raised the Ukrainian flag at the city center and are waiting for those troops who are marching into the city.



There are still small numbers of Russian troops wandering, apparently to no purpose, along the waterfront and clustered near the shattered bridge. There is also confirmation that some Russian troops shed their uniforms and put on civilian clothing. None of that seems to matter right now.



The liberation of Kherson is going to continue throughout this day, and likely into tomorrow. The cleanup of remaining Russian forces west of the Dnipro, and the catalog of captured Russian equipment, will be carrying on for many days, if not weeks, after that. Overnight, Russian media came out with a staged video claiming that all Russian forces had been safely removed from Kherson.



On the other hand, there were maps purporting to be locations of Russian cell phones that painted a somewhat different picture.



Russia might want to toss a net across the mouth of the Dnipro if they want to pick up some of those guys as they flow down the river. BTW, water temperatures near Kherson are about 10°C (50°F).

But really, this morning isn’t about what happened to those Russian forces. It’s all about the victory of Ukrainian forces, and that victory is special in so many ways. As the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense made sure to point out this morning, their forces are not walking into a ruin. They’re not reaching a city center pulverized into rubble the way that Russia did when they captured Mariupol or so many other locations.

Kherson is largely intact. Tens of thousands of citizens remain there, cheering on the approaching Ukrainian force. That’s because Ukraine fought the battle of Kherson in a smart way, choking off Russian supply routes, keeping up pressure to force Russian troops to expend their ammo and strain their equipment, bringing things to the point where Russia had no choice but to leave the city.

There are, of course, concerns this morning. Russia could be waiting until both troops and civilians are massed in celebration before firing artillery from across the river. The possibility that Russia might choose this moment to toss a missile, or drop a bomb, in the city that Vladimir Putin claimed was “forever Russia” remains real. There’s no doubt that Ukrainian troops will not be packing into that central plaza all at once, the way so many of them would love to do.

But this is a helluva great day, one that Ukraine has worked carefully, over a period of many months, to achieve. It’s a great victory. And a huge, huge defeat for Russia.

The liberation of Kherson is not yet official. But expect that announcement to come at any hour, and expect that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is anxious to pay a visit.
......
As I’ve been writing, Ukrainian troops have reached the central square. And that thing I said about people being afraid to mass together? Forget it.



 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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UPDATE: Friday, Nov 11, 2022 · 9:29:59 AM EST · Mark Sumner
Beryslav is liberated. That’s it. That’s the last place I know of where Russian forces were still fighting on the west bank. It’s done.


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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UPDATE: Friday, Nov 11, 2022 · 10:05:15 AM EST · Mark Sumner
And yes, we knew this was coming. There is no way that this glorious day won’t be tainted by the evidence that will rapidly come out of what’s happened in Kherson and all over the oblast. Now that Beryslav has been liberated, there are expected to be true horrors emerging from the “filtration camp” that Russian forces established there.

In so many of the videos coming out, you can see that moment when people go from undeniable joy at the approach of Ukrainian forces, to breaking down as they release everything they’ve been holding in over the last nine months. All of this, the joy and the sadness, and the horror, and the relief … it’s all part of this day. And the evidence of what Russia has done in Kherson will only show how vitally important it is that they quickly be removed from all other areas of Ukraine.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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UPDATE: Friday, Nov 11, 2022 · 1:56:11 PM EST · Mark Sumner
Confirmed liberation of Vesele and Kozatske, where are right at the western end of the Kakhovka bridge. Russia has completely taken out a span of that bridge, just as they did with the bridge at Kherson.
........
UPDATE: Friday, Nov 11, 2022 · 1:13:08 PM EST · Mark Sumner
Note the people taking pictures of these things. They’ll be great curiosities to show the kids when they talk about how they beat “the second greatest army in the world.”


Russia: Consider this the final vote in your “referendum.”

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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As part of the European Union's response to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the European Commission and bordering EU Member States established on 12 May 2022 the EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes. The Solidarity Lanes are essential corridors for Ukraine's agricultural exports, as well as the export and import of other goods.

As one of the world's largest grain producers, Ukraine normally supplied around 45 million tonnes of grain to the global market every year. However, in its brutal war against Ukraine, Russia deliberately targets agricultural production and exports, blocking safe passage to and from Ukrainian Black Sea ports and building up stocks in grain silos. This has driven up world cereals prices, created food insecurity globally and put at risk the livelihoods of millions of people who rely on those grains.

Since the inception of the Solidarity Lanes, more than 15 million tonnes of Ukrainian agricultural goods (grain, oilseeds and related products) have been exported, by road, rail and through Black Sea and Danube ports. In addition, since August, the Black Sea Grain Initiative has helped relaunch grain shipments from Ukraine's Black Sea ports, thereby further reducing food prices globally.

Together these initiatives have allowed the export of about 25 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain, oilseeds and related products between May and end of October to world markets, including to the countries most in need.

The Solidarity Lanes are currently the only option for the export of all other, non-agricultural Ukrainian goods to the rest of the world and for importing all the goods it needs, such as fuel and humanitarian assistance. As such, the Solidarity Lanes have become the lifeline of Ukraine's economy, bringing back more than EUR 15 billion of much-needed income to Ukrainian farmers and businesses.

The EU has been working with Member States, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, international partners and companies, as well as transport operators, to improve the functioning of the Solidarity Lanes. As bordering EU Member States, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary, have made tremendous efforts and investments to facilitate these trade routes.

The Solidarity Lanes have become an indispensable link for deepened relations with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, and are essential to establish a more stable connectivity with the EU in view of future accession. They bring Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova closer to the EU single market, while keeping both countries connected to the rest of the world.

However, the Solidarity Lanes are reaching their capacity limits, bottlenecks persist and logistics costs are high. To sustain and further increase the capacity of the Solidarity Lanes, we have been mobilising significant investments through various existing EU and national programmes. Administrative and operational facilitation needs to continue, including on streamlining border crossing procedures, and more funding is needed.

The European Commission will urgently dedicate EUR 250 million of grants to boost the Solidarity Lanes. For the short-term, we will support quick improvements, in particular with mobile equipment, to reduce waiting times and improve movement through the border crossing points and their access routes. For the medium-term, we are mobilising the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and EUR 50 million to support the infrastructure developments needed to increase further the capacity of the Solidarity Lanes.

Working with partner Financial Institutions such as the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the World Bank we want to ensure liquidity for operators, and funding of repairs and capacity increases. Notably:
  • The European Investment Bank plans to invest up to EUR 300 million by end-2023 on projects that respond to the Solidarity Lanes objectives. This is on top of the activity already announced and financed [1] in Ukraine, a significant part of which is dedicated to road and railway upgrades. In addition, the European Investment Bank and the European Commission are making available the technical expertise of Jaspers (Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions) for the identification and preparation of cross-border transport projects to be financed under the CEF, which can attract potential EIB co-financing.
  • On the basis of the work undertaken for several months on the ground with the European Commission and all relevant stakeholders, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development intends to invest EUR 300 million in favour of Solidarity Lanes over 2022-2023 - part of which will go to projects already identified and in the process of being approved.
  • The World Bank Group, in addition to its regional transport modelling, rapid damage assessment to identify priority repairs and recovery investments as well as ongoing work on trade and logistics, is preparing an emergency project to undertake repairs of the railway and road infrastructure damaged by the war with up to USD 100 million targeted for disbursement in 2023. Rehabilitation of railway infrastructure and multi-modal logistics in Romania and the Republic of Moldova to Ukraine's borders is under discussion to support Ukrainian critical exports and imports, and lay foundations for reconstruction.
We also call on our international partners to provide further financial support to these actions, which are essential for Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and for global food security.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump's Senate cronies circle McConnell like vultures after 'red wave' fiasco

Kerry Eleveld

To be fair to Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, he didn't exactly hype the red wave, even lamenting at one point that "candidate quality" might hamstring their takeover bid. The remark was a jab at Donald Trump, who handpicked every battleground state Senate GOP nominee.

It's also fair to note, however, that McConnell is only in the vise grip we are about to discuss because of his failed leadership on impeaching Trump after his violent Jan. 6 coup attempt.

With that said, let the festivities begin!
........
"The Senate GOP leadership vote next week should be postponed," newly reelected Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tweeted Friday morning. "First, we need to make sure that those who want to lead us are genuinely committed to fighting for the priorities & values of the working Americans (of every background) who gave us big wins in states like #Florida."

Ruh-roh, Mitch, trouble brewing.

Then came the letter.

“We are all disappointed that a Red Wave failed to materialize, and there are multiple reasons it did not. ... We need to have serious discussions within our conference as to why and what we can do to improve our chances in 2024," wrote Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, and Rick Scott of Florida.

Yep, that Rick Scott! The guy who headed up the campaign to retake the upper chamber as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He wants to take a "serious" look for who else he can scapegoat after he ran the NRSC into the ground, forcing the group to cancel tens of millions of dollars in pre-booked advertising.

So Scott, Lee, and Johnson are currently circulating that dagger of a letter within the GOP conference, according to Politico, which first reported on it.

Now, what could Scott, Lee, Johnson, and Rubio possibly have in common? They have all appropriately surrendered to Donald Trump—yeah, the guy who almost singlehandedly wrecked the Republicans' midterm 'wave'—and are now stalling a leadership vote on the guy whose super PAC plowed some $230 million into trying to save the GOP's sinking ship.

Naturally, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, given one more chance to throw his wife and father under the bus for Trump, jumped on the dump-McConnell train too.

”Critically, we need to hear a specific plan for the next 2 yrs from any candidate for leadership,” tweeted the guy who is perhaps best known for shutting down the government in 2013 so he could read “Green Eggs and Ham” to the country from the Senate floor.

Who might they have in mind for the post? Scott, of course. After practically laying an egg for the GOP, time to promote!

It just so happens that Trump recently endorsed Scott as leader because what does Trump care about GOP wins and losses when he's not on the ticket. All Trump cares about is his underlings being sufficiently sycophantic suck-ups. Plus, sidelining Scott would count as one less person Trump has to slay on his way to reclaiming the 2024 GOP mantle.

Speaking to Fox News on his plane, Trump promised to oust McConnell as leader if he were reelected president, hailing Scott as a "very talented" replacement.

Coincidentally, Scott also dodged a question on Meet The Press over the weekend on whether he's weighing a run for the leadership post, declining to say either way.

Trump and McConnell have sparred for the past two years over who deserved blame for Republicans losing the Senate in 2020, with each of them eagerly pointing their finger at the other.

McConnell and Scott have also clashed throughout the midterm cycle over the GOP agenda, which McConnell hoped to keep under wraps even as Scott committed it to writing.

Notably, Scott's 11-point plan called for raising taxes of tens of millions of working- and middle-class Americans while sunsetting Medicare and Social Security. The plan reeked of a party still trying to suck 99% of Americans dry while passing tax cuts that continue to pad the pockets of the 1%.

Now, in the name of finding a leader who is "genuinely committed to fighting for the priorities & values of the working Americans (of every background)," Trump allies have their eyes on trading in McConnell for Scott.

Same, same. Except one of them actively ran the Senate GOP midterm campaign into the ground while the other tried to salvage it. Of course, no salvaging would have been necessary if Senate Republicans had neutered Trump in the aftermath of the insurrection to begin with.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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McConnell parachutes in with big bucks, strikes deal with Kemp to take Georgia Senate seat

Joan McCarter

Despite that infamous “candidate quality” issue Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell complained about this cycle, he’s stuck with Herschel Walker in Georgia, through all the surprise children and abortions and bonkers claims.

“I think we’re going to stick with Walker and all the effort we put in through [the leadership Super PAC] SLF, we’re going take it all the way to the end,” he said back in October. “I talk to [Walker] fairly often,” McConnell said. “I think they’re going to hang in there and scrap to the finish.”

The finish is going to be decided by a run off, and McConnell is still backing Walker, because he doesn’t care if a dangerously unqualified candidate advances to the Senate. McConnell has figured out a devious plan to unite his dark money arm, that Senate Leadership Fund Super PAC, with the get-out-the-vote machine of Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. The two inked the deal on Thursday, never mind that McConnell is supposed to have nothing at all to do with the operations of the PAC because there is supposed to be a firewall between elected officials and the running of their affiliated PACs. Like McConnell is going to be bothered by legalities.

The PAC will be funding the $2 million-plus campaign, while Kemp will transfer the whole of his GOTV operation—canvassing, data crunching, phone-banking, and micro-targeting—to McConnell’s PAC. Kemp’s team will also be taking over and running the whole field operation.

“Gov. Kemp wrote the playbook for how to win big in Georgia, and we are thrilled to partner with his top-notch team to elect Herschel Walker to the Senate,” said Steven Law, the Senate Leadership Fund president. “As we learned in 2020, Republican turnout is essential for victory in a runoff election, and we are leaving no stone unturned—preparing a ground assault to partner with the coming air war.”

This is McConnell once again trying to clean up a Trump mess and to preempt the damage Trump is almost certainly going to do by bigfooting his way into this race. It also might be a little bit of an insurance policy for McConnell, trying to get the loyalty of a potential incoming senator when he’s facing dissension in the ranks on his continued leadership.

Regardless, it is going to make Warnock’s job in this very short run-off period that much harder, meaning the grassroots really needs to step up to counter the McConnell/Kemp Super PAC power.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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McCarthy tries to paper over his election disaster by dictating House policy

Joan McCarter

GettyImages-1155697616.jpg

Yelling louder isn't going to get you there, Kev.

Votes are still being counted to determine who is going to have the majority in the House of Representatives, with a clear path still open to Democrats. Meanwhile, wannabe-Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, who hasn’t even managed to win over his own people to secure his leadership spot, is trying to pretend like he’s in charge.

McCarthy, who is not leader of the House and right now doesn’t even look like the leader of his fractious conference, wrote a nasty letter to the House clerk, Capitol Police chief, architect of the Capitol, sergeant-at-arms, and other administrative officials demanding that they immediately start to work on his agenda—reopening the Capitol—and present him a plan for how they’ll have it done by Jan. 3, 2023. Never mind that there’s still a COVID-19 pandemic, and that they’re all going to be kind of busy getting the complex ready for an influx of new members and everything that comes with the opening of a new session.

And never mind that this is absolutely not true: “Earlier this week, our country voted for new leadership,” he wrote. Points for unmitigated, belligerent, and misguided hubris, I guess.
........
Meanwhile, the real Speaker of the House is back at work representing Congress at the COP27, the U.N. Climate Change Conference, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. She left her husband’s bedside to be there, the husband who was attacked—and severely—in an assassination attempt aimed at her.



Pelosi’s spokesperson, Drew Hammill, minced few words in responding to McCarthy’s “desperate attempt to distract from the unmitigated disaster that was his party’s performance in the midterm election.”


“Now, after bungling the election, the Minority Leader would rather intimidate the professionals who run the House than get to work on the issues that voters just told us are on their minds,” Hamill wrote.


“A phased reopening has been necessary to limit the spread of a plague that has killed more than a million Americans, including two of the Minority Leader’s own Members—and after a deadly insurrection provoked by his personal hero and broadly supported by his conference. In sharp contrast, Leader McCarthy whipped his colleagues to vote against our House bill securing additional funding for Capitol Police, which has been crucial to the effort to reopen.”
“And in case he’s already forgotten, the Minority Leader is still the Minority Leader—and he shouldn’t count his chickens before they hatch.”

Nicely done, sir.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Mike Pence tells the story of Mike Pence, action hero, and Donald Trump, 'weary' has-been

Mark Sumner

In the pre-dawn darkness on Wednesday, just a few hours after the last polls had closed, and as it became obvious that the supposed “red wave” had turned into the great Republican fizzle, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial by Mike Pence—a reminiscence about his final days in the Trump White House.

For an article by someone who has in the past proven to be unfailingly obsequious and reverential toward the man who tried to get him murdered, it’s a remarkably unworshipful account. That’s not to say that this recollection is completely candid. Pence is no more open to accepting any blame for the events of that day, or noting how he and other Republicans made the violence possible, than he has been at any point in the past.

However, there are definitely things that make Pence’s retelling of this story interesting. One is the timing. That 2:49 AM release on Wednesday has to raise questions about whether Pence and the right-wing editorial board at the WSJ has another version—a much more Trump-friendly version—of this story ready to go if election deniers had romped and stomped at the polls. Or maybe some other editorial entirely. If not, then why wait until it was clear that many of the most ardent Trump supporters had failed before letting this run?
......

There are clearly three purposes to this article. One, and maybe the most obvious one, is to set Pence up as the hero of Jan. 6. From confronting Trump (and telling off attorney John Eastman) to buttonholing Secret Service agents to fearlessly refusing to leave the Capitol, every moment of this account is Mike Pence: Constitutional Scholar and Action Hero.

The second purpose is to put clear air between Trump and Pence. Despite the many (many) occasions after Jan. 6 in which Pence has enthusiastically supported Trump and practically tried to knee-crawl back into his good graces, such as they are, there’s barely a mention of Trump in this account that doesn’t paint him in a bad light. Trump is too “weary” to wait for 2024. He’s unable to grasp why someone wouldn’t break the law if they can get away with it. He’s bullying. He doesn’t talk to Pence; he “lays into him.” This is a typical statement from Trump to Pence in this account.


“You’re too honest,” he chided. “Hundreds of thousands are gonna hate your guts … People are gonna think you’re stupid.”

This, like almost every other thing that Pence apparently recalls, hits both the first and second goals of the article: Pence is a great guy, and he’s not at all close to Trump. Just forget all the times you saw him introducing Trump as the most wonderful, smartest, and bestest man who ever lived. Because this Trump “chides” Pence, calling him a “wimp” and warning him that he’ll regret not shredding the Constitution when he has the chance.

But it’s the third thing that this article sets out to do that may be the most interesting. While Pence devotes a good deal of time to detailing how he never really liked that Trump guy in the first place, he spends almost as much lauding a set of Republicans that he clearly expects to be his new best friends. Who are they? Jim Jordan, Josh Hawley, and Ted Cruise Cruz.

These three, who may have done more to bend over backward in support of Trump and to encourage the violence on Jan. 6, are the sidekicks to Pence’s hero tale. Jordan leads other congressmen in “a discussion about plans to bring objections.” Pence “supports” that. Hawley announces that he “would co-sponsor election objections brought by representatives.” Pence “welcomes” that. Cruz rises to support the first objection. And Pence is there for it.

Despite spending the entire first part of the article explaining how he fends off Trump, Eastman, and Louie Gohmert (sorry Louie, no one wants you on the team) because they want him to change the results of the electoral votes on Jan. 6, Pence then segues to praising Jordan, Hawley, and Cruz precisely because he wants to have a “substantive debate” about … changing the outcome of the electoral vote.

Pence doesn’t come off as having a fundamental disagreement with Trump’s goals here, certainly not in a way that would upset what he clearly sees as the new core of the party. He comes off as a guy who has quibbles with Trump’s methods and tone. If it were up to Pence, they’d have found a way to fix the election, but with more Jesus.


The timing of this account, and the fact that Pence is reaching out to Jordan, Hawley, and Cruz, shows that he’s still under the illusion that he’s a candidate for 2024—and talking about how Trump was too weary to wait, and having Trump say that 2024 was “so far away,” was a none too subtle reminder that Trump will be a tired old candidate. And Pence wants to build an alliance with the most extreme members of Congress who survived this round of elections.

None of the members of the triumvirate Pence mentions are likely to jump on the Mike train. But it is interesting how many of them are maneuvering for the same thing: how to keep Trump’s base, and ditch Trump.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump is reportedly 'cranky' as he cools his heels at Mar-a-Lago following midterm fumbles

Aldous J Pennyfarthing

I’m no fancy head doctor like Ben Carson, but I think I need to install an emergency stent in my brain to safely vent the schadenfreude after reading this story about Donald Trump’s foul mood in the wake of his latest colossal face-plant.

As we all know, Trump ruins everything. That apparently includes his daughter’s wedding and Republicans’ chances of persuading a majority of Americans ever to back them again. Meanwhile, he’s licking his wounds as if they were dribbling heavenly nectar instead of rancid nougat and inky black orc blood.

Gott im Himmel, it is glorious.

So Trump’s daughter Tiffany is getting married on Saturday, and Donald’s mind is naturally fixated on Himself.

CNN has all the sordid details:

[E]ven though Tropical Storm Nicole is moving on, the Trumps may still be in for some tumult over the weekend. They’re gathering as their patriarch makes moves toward a 2024 presidential run, a prospect not everyone in the family is excited about. Some of them are signaling they don’t want to be involved much, if at all, sources close to the family tell CNN.
Three people familiar with the former president’s activities say he is not in the best of spirits. Many of the high-profile candidates he endorsed in the midterms failed to secure a win, and now some Republicans are whispering about his dwindling influence over the party. Trump is “cranky,” says one of the people.

Uh huh. Let us know when Trump isn’t “cranky.” The dude’s got the longest case of diaper rash in the celebrated history of unsightly skin blotches. But hey, Tiffany’s in luck! Trump is far more interested at the moment in ruining all of our lives instead of hers!

At present, say those who are familiar, Trump is more focused on his “special announcement” on Tuesday, when he may – or may not – announce his planned third run for the presidency. His mind is consumed with the 2024 political landscape and where and how he will fit into it.

Oy, that’s not good. Normally when Donald Trump attends a wedding, the hosts’ biggest worry is that he’ll show up in a flowing white dress to take attention away from the bride. In this case, there’s nearly a metaphysical certitude he’ll use his toast to whine at length about the 2020 election.

CNN also says two sources claim Trump has been “on the outs” with his wife, Melania, whom Trump reportedly blamed for making him endorse Dr. Mehmet Oz, who mysteriously lost his Senate bid despite being a world-class snake oil salesman.

The report also notes that Donald’s No. 1 daughter, Ivanka, has no interest in politics pretending to be interested in politics anymore. Nor does the smarmy pillar of fancy wallpaper paste she’s married to.

“[Ivanka] would never go back to that life,” one source told CNN. “She knows it’s not something that would serve her or her family at this point.”

What? That just leaves Don Jr. and Eric. And Mike Lindell. And Fiddle-Drawers Giuliani. At this rate, Trump will be filling out his cabinet with whoever sends in the most Count Chocula boxtops. That’s assuming he wins, of course. Which he can’t. Because while God’s quite the practical joker, there’s no way in hell He’d be that cruel. Is there?

So enjoy the weekend, big guy. And look on the bright side. The daughter who’s getting married isn’t the one you want to date. So this will have no emotional impact on you whatsoever, and you can direct all your rage at whatever fool thought Dr. Oz would be a good senatorial candidate.

That’s you, by the way—in case you somehow haven’t figured that out yet.

 
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