Perhaps We Trusted Too Much

If you were born with pale skin in the United States in the last 150 years, you have led a life of great privilege, though you might not realize it.  You might begin to realize it if you could exchange brief life stories with someone your age born in Ghana, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Iraq … most any other non-democratic nation.  But here’s the thing … we are so used to that life of privilege that we no longer appreciate it, we take it for granted.

Since you were old enough to talk, you’ve understood that this is a mostly free nation, that people have certain ‘unalienable’ rights.  You can choose your own career path, can choose to be well-educated … or not.  You can choose, within the confines of your economic status, where to live, what sort of car to drive.  You are not told who, or even if you must marry.  You are not forced into any religion.  And perhaps most importantly of all, you have the right to vote in order to keep people in government who are dedicated to preserving your rights.

You were told when you first learned about the founding of the U.S. and the U.S. Constitution that this document was the foundation of our nation and was the primary safeguard against the country ever becoming a Nazi Germany ruled by a madman.  You were told that the Constitution guaranteed that religion and government would always be kept separate, that you would never be beheaded for not believing in any religion.  It is your right, you were told, to be a Jew, Muslin, Hindu, Christian, or atheist.  It is your right to marry whomever you choose.  It is your right to have the final say over your body.  And you thought all this was guaranteed, that those ‘rights’ could never be taken away from you.

It may just be that you were wrong.

We became lazy, we became complacent, we became inured to the little things that were chipping away at our lives, our freedoms, as we didn’t even realize it.  We trusted in our government and its foundational separation of powers that would always keep any one branch of government from having too much power.  We never asked ourselves what would happen if two or even three of those branches plotted to join hands and become all-powerful.  We had the utmost faith in the impartial, non-partisan, 9-member Supreme Court that would always rule in favour of ‘right’.  We trusted in the ‘Separation of Church and State’ doctrine to keep us free of bigoted, restrictive rules imposed by religious sects.

But a funny thing happened as we travelled through the decades.  Men became intoxicated by power and the smell of money. And then they lied to us.  They lied about little things, they lied about big things.  They manipulated us, told us that those who try to help people in need are ‘socialists’ and ‘communists’, even though the majority of people do not even understand what those terms mean, but these greedy men gave us their interpretation and … we were too lazy to educate ourselves with facts, to learn the truth of the matter.

I won’t go through the entire scenario of the past twelve years or so, but here we are today … dangerously close to the precipice, to that thin line that separates a democratic republic from an autocracy.  Even now, when we nearly lost our voices and our freedoms on January 6th, far too many people believe that the men lying to them on a near-hourly basis are the good guys, the guys in the white hats.  They have allowed themselves to be brainwashed into believing that white folks like themselves are being pushed into a minority and that … somehow this is not a good thing.  They have been convinced that climate change is a hoax, that the pandemic is but a minor blip on the radar, and that somehow all evil stems from one side of the political spectrum.

A quote by Nelson Mandela speaks volumes here …

The United States is at a crossroads.  We can continue to allow the politicians, our elected representatives, to lie to us, to rob us, to cheat on us, as we take comfort in the fact that we have a job, a comfortable home, a ‘happy’ life, or we can educate ourselves, wake up and realize what could happen, how drastically our lives could change over the coming few years if we simply do nothing, continue to believe that somehow it will “all work out in the long run.”  A lot of people in Germany 90 years ago made the same mistake.

Differences

A view from across the big pond. Why is it that our friends outside the U.S. can so often see our situation with far more clarity than we can? Thank you, David, for an open-eyed view of what is happening here.

The BUTHIDARS

Kevin McCarthy’s statement

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In response, representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) tweeted the legal code: 18 U.S. Code § 1505: “Whoever…by any threatening letter or communication…endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede…the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any…investigation is being had by either House…Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned…”

My Response.

Kevin McCarthy, Marjie Greene, Matt Gaetz, and even Mitch McConnell’s attempts to gag private companies with undisguised threats puts every American at risk of not knowing the naames and degree of involvement certain politicians had in the attempted insurrection of January 6th 2021. Without this information American citizens are in danger of becoming subjects of a new form of dictatorial Government possibly under an already failed leader Donald Trump where a large part of the population would not even be allowed to vote. The words Surveillance State are used with the purpose of scaring the…

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It Should Be Humanitarian, Not Political!

The 24/7 press about the situation in Afghanistan wears on one’s psyche, especially in light of all the finger-pointing, mud-slinging and everyone putting their own coat of varnish on the situation and its political ramifications.  I am a forever supporter of a free press, but … in return, I expect them to be responsible in their reporting.  This responsibility seems to be largely lacking at the moment.

Nobody can sum up a situation quite like New York Times’ Frank Bruni, so I shall leave it to him to unpack the current chaos …


Stop Politicizing the Misery in Afghanistan

By Frank Bruni

Opinion writer

26 August 2021

Democrats are panicked that the debacle in Afghanistan will shake American voters’ confidence in not only President Biden but also the rest of the party, potentially costing it control of the Senate and the House in 2022. They’ve said as much — to me, to other journalists, to anyone who will listen.

I wish they’d stop, because their political fate is nothing next to the fate of Afghans on the wrong side of the Taliban. And every time they communicate as much concern with the party’s near future as with Afghanistan’s, they inch toward the very destiny they dread.

To review: There were explosions today outside the airport in Kabul, underscoring how gravely dangerous the situation there is. Afghans have been crushed to death in stampedes to that area. Many who took considerable risks to help us now justifiably fear brutal reprisals from the Taliban and cannot count on us to get them to safety. Refugees have traded one hell for another: fetid, sweltering, rat-infested camps unfit for even fleeting human habitation. And some of our allies have struggled to rescue their own citizens and lost yet more faith in the United States.

But, sure, let’s talk about domestic politics and the midterms — which, mind you, are more than 14 months away.

I’m not minimizing the stakes of those elections. Given the Republican Party’s capitulation to conspiracy theories, its contempt for democratic norms, the paranoia of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the depravity of Matt Gaetz, the cowardice of Kevin McCarthy and the stubborn pull of their orange overlord, a Republican takeover of Congress would likely be disastrous.

But you know how Democrats and the media can increase the odds of that? By framing too much in those terms. By conspicuously keeping score: This event works to our advantage, that development works in theirs, we drew blood here, they drew blood there. When everyone seems equally political, everything is reduced to politics, and voters have a harder time seeing who’s on their side. They see only a contest with contestants out for themselves.

Republicans are goading Democrats, that’s for sure. Donald Trump is mocking them and Fox News taunting them — by politically weaponizing the misery in Afghanistan and casting it as an illustration of Biden’s and Democrats’ unfitness to govern.

Let them. They look parochial at best, callous at worst and opportunistic through and through. They’re right to demand more of the country and its president than what we’ve seen in regard to Afghanistan, and it’s fine to discuss that, but not in a tone so nakedly partisan and not with a memory so audaciously selective.

Trump would have done us prouder? Hah. The United States was humiliated repeatedly and spectacularly under his, um, leadership, as he gleefully trashed our most cherished ideals. What’s more, there was nothing in his magnitude of ignorance, self-consumption and neglect to suggest that he would have accomplished a withdrawal from Afghanistan — which, mind you, he was insistent about — with more grace. Any assertion otherwise charts the confluence of runaway revisionism and pure fantasy.

But if Democrats want to be sure to beat Republicans, their best bet is to be not like them: to focus on the substance of problems rather than their political implications, to talk about solutions without calculating their political benefit. In these jaded times, a little genuine earnestness could go a long way.

That holds true for the media as well. In an excellent column in The Washington Post recently, Margaret Sullivan rued the fact that reporting on government has become reporting on politics, although the two aren’t — or at least shouldn’t be — the same. Her prompt was the fight between Democrats and Republicans over a congressional investigation into the events of Jan. 6. She implored journalists to “stop asking who the winners and losers were in the latest skirmish. Start asking who is serving the democracy and who is undermining it. Stop being ‘savvy’ and start being patriotic.”

Amen. A similar plea has a place in the coverage of Afghanistan. I’ve pretty much given up on Republicans for the time being, but I’m still rooting for better from Democrats, who should focus on how the United States honors the promises we made in Afghanistan, limits the suffering there and reclaims a place of honor and reliability in global affairs. I don’t want the handicapping of the 2022 horse race, at least not right now.

For The People Act Cannot Die — Here’s Why

After the Census Bureau released detailed population and demographic data from the 2020 census yesterday, states and local governments are set to begin the once-a-decade process of drawing new voting district boundaries known as redistricting. And gerrymandering — when those boundaries are drawn with the intention of influencing who gets elected — is bound to follow.

The current redistricting cycle will be the first since the Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling that gerrymandering for party advantage cannot be challenged in federal court, which has set the stage for perhaps the most ominous round of map drawing in the country’s history.

In the unlikely event that the For the People Act passes the Senate, gerrymandering will be relegated to the annals of history, but since that is about as likely as me growing a pair of wings and flying far, far away, I will take this opportunity to redux my explanation of gerrymandering from a post I did back in 2019:

Gerrymandering, for any who may be unclear on precisely what the term means, is a means of re-drawing district maps to manipulate the boundaries in order to favour one party over the other.  The Washington Post published an excellent article explaining the process  back in March 2015  that I urge you to take a look at.  The graphic below, taken from that article, provides a pretty good visual explanation.

Every 10 years, states redraw their legislative and congressional district lines following the census. Because communities change, redistricting is critical to our democracy: maps must be redrawn to ensure that districts are equally populated, comply with laws such as the Voting Rights Act, and are otherwise representative of a state’s population. Done right, redistricting is a chance to create maps that, in the words of John Adams, are an “exact portrait, a miniature” of the people as a whole.

Trouble is, it is almost never ‘done right’.

While legislative and congressional district shapes may look wildly different from state to state, most attempts to gerrymander can best be understood through the lens of two basic techniques: cracking and packing.

Cracking splits groups of people with similar characteristics, such as voters of the same party affiliation, or perhaps the same … skin colour … across multiple districts. With their voting strength divided and diluted, these groups struggle to elect their preferred candidates in any of the districts.

Packing is the opposite of cracking: map drawers cram certain groups of voters into as few districts as possible. In these few districts, the “packed” groups are likely to elect their preferred candidates, but the groups’ voting strength is weakened everywhere else.

While historically both parties have used gerrymandering to their advantage, today it is largely the Republicans who do so in order to disenfranchise certain groups, among them Blacks, the elderly, college students, and the working poor.  Now, coupled with the blatant voter suppression laws that are being proposed and legislated in 42 of the 50 states, and … well, you can see the problem.  Black people’s voices will be diluted, as will the elderly and others, while white Christians will have their voices amplified.  One piece of legislation can halt both voter suppression laws and gerrymandering in their tracks:  the For the People Act.

In a nutshell, this bill, which has already passed in the House of Representatives and is lying dormant in the Senate today, will …

  • Make it easier for every eligible voter to register to vote
  • Make it easier for every registered voter to vote
  • Make election day a public holiday
  • Ban partisan gerrymandering by prohibiting adoption of any map that has the intent or effect of “unduly favoring or disfavoring” one political party over another
  • Require that congressional redistricting be transparent and participatory, with open meetings and public hearings, opportunities for the public to review and comment on proposed maps
  • Require that states carry out congressional redistricting using independent commissions that:
    • prohibit current and recent lawmakers, staff, and lobbyists and others with conflicts of interest from serving on the commission;
    • include an equal number of Republican, Democratic, and unaffiliated or third-party members selected through a rigorous screening process, with voting rules designed to ensure that maps can pass only with support from all three groups; and
    • include members who are representative of the state’s demographic makeup and different geographic regions, with enough members from racial, ethnic, and language minorities to give those groups a meaningful opportunity to participate in the redistricting process

There is much, much more in this bill that would bring equity and fairness back into our election process, and I do plan to cover more of it in the near future, but … the bill is on the chopping block and desperately needs to be resuscitated.  It is subject to the senate filibuster, an archaic, racist tool that is used by the minority party to keep legislation they don’t like from ever passing any legislation.  In this case, however, We the People need to step up to the plate, we need to fight tooth and nail to get this legislation passed!  This may, in fact, be the single most important bill on the docket of this Congress — even more crucial than the infrastructure bill.

Why, exactly, don’t the Republicans want to allow the For the People Act to see the light of day?  Because in a fair and honest election, few Republicans would stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected.  Ever since they showed their racist side in response to a Black man being elected president, and then backed a raving madman with zero qualifications for the presidency in 2016, the Republican Party has been on a downhill path, eschewing sound policymaking and instead engaging in lies, cheating, conspiracy theories, and such nefarious practices to win elections.  In 2016, their hero lost by 2.8 million votes, but due to gerrymandered districts, was placed in the Oval Office by the Electoral College.  The minority ruled.  Last year, that same hero lost by more than 7 million votes, and the Republicans are determined not to allow that to happen again, even if it means stopping the votes of the majority.  And if all else fails, there is little doubt in my mind that they will have a ‘Plan B’, likely something along the lines of what happened on January 6th.

If we care at all about this nation, if we care about how our government spends our hard-earned tax dollars and how they treat people, then we must DEMAND that the Senate pass this damn bill!!!  Otherwise, welcome to the Plutocracy of the dis-United States.

On Boot-Lickers, Pakistan, and Karen

The snark-o-meter is spinning madly tonight … partly, I think, from being treated to an hour or so of my daughter’s bagpipe practice 🧏 !  But there’s more than that … there is … life.  Reality.  News.  Politics.  People.


Why oh why are they still licking his boots???

I will never understand why the Republican Party has hitched its wagon to the former guy and won’t let go.  NEWS FLASH, Republicans … Donald Trump is NO LONGER the president of this nation, he has absolutely ZERO power, unless you give it to him.  He was, on the whole, the single worst, most corrupt president the United States has ever known, and we breathed a collective sigh of relief on January 20th of this year when the former guy went back to his estate at Mar-a-Lago and President Joe Biden took the oath of office.

The congressional Republicans are digging their own grave, shooting themselves in the foot … pick your analogy.  The former guy has threatened Republicans in Congress who sign on to the current and much overdue infrastructure bill … WTF???  He’s nothing … a nobody … why in hell are they cowering in their tracks at the slightest hint of displeasure from that asshole?  What, specifically, has set me off this time?  A statement by Ohio Senator Rob Portman …

“I have encouraged President Trump to take credit for this. President Trump’s effort to raise the level of awareness about the need for infrastructure improvement should help us get this done. You know, he proposed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill.”

No, STUPID … NO NO NO NO NO … he is NOT the damned president and he deserves LESS THAN ZERO credit for a bill that has happened under President Joseph R. Biden!  How low, Rob Portman, are you willing to go.  You’ve licked his boots for years, are you now willing to kiss his posterior as well???  And why, one has to ask … Trump has no power and Portman is retiring from the Senate at the end of 2022.  The only thing I can come up with is that Portman is kissing Trump’s ass in hopes of currying favour and becoming his vice-presidential nominee in 2024.  Either way, I used to think that Rob was one of the better Republicans in Congress … I no longer think that.


Something to ponder …

I often criticize society and life in general here in the United States, and in truth there IS much that is wrong.  Racism, both systemic and societal.  Greed, arrogance, lack of attentiveness to climate change, corruption in our government, an education system that has been in decline in recent years, political chaos, the worst healthcare system in the western world and more.  But, something I read tonight made me thankful to live in a western nation, if not specifically the U.S.

In Pakistan, an 8-year-old boy was arrested and may face the death penalty when he comes to trial.  Yes, you heard me right … 8 years old.  What, you ask, did he do?  He peed in a library.  How many 8-year-old boys have taken a dare by friends, or just decided to show off, and peed in inappropriate places?  Likely most all of them.  Heck, some people on our street have a teenager who routinely pees in our birdseed!  I might yell at him when I catch him doing it, but I’m damn sure not going to call the cops!  And even if I did, he would not even face jail time, let alone the death penalty.

This boy, not named by The Guardian where I saw the story, is the youngest person ever to be charged with blasphemy in the country.  According to the story …

The boy’s family is in hiding and many of the Hindu community in the conservative district of Rahim Yar Khan, in Punjab, have fled their homes after a Muslim crowd attacked a Hindu temple after the boy’s release on bail last week. Troops were deployed to the area to quell any further unrest.

On Saturday, 20 people were arrested in connection with the temple attack.

The boy is accused of intentionally urinating on a carpet in the library of a madrassa, where religious books were kept, last month. Blasphemy charges can carry the death penalty.

Speaking from an undisclosed location, a member of the boy’s family told the Guardian: “He [the boy] is not even aware of such blasphemy issues and he has been falsely indulged in these matters. He still doesn’t understand what his crime was and why he was kept in jail for a week.

“We have left our shops and work, the entire community is scared and we fear backlash. We don’t want to return to this area. We don’t see any concrete and meaningful action will be taken against the culprits or to safeguard the minorities living here.”

Blasphemy laws have been disproportionately used in the past against religious minorities in Pakistan. Although no blasphemy executions have been carried out in the country since the death penalty was introduced for the crime in 1986, suspects are often attacked and sometimes killed by mobs.

I understand and respect that different cultures have different social norms, values and laws, but … pardon me, I think to hold a child such as this accountable for an act that harmed nobody, that is easily enough repaired, is a violation of human rights.  Yeah, sometimes it’s not so bad living in the U.S. … relatively speaking.


But then … are we really so far from similar atrocities?

On a recent Sunday …

“46-year-old real estate agent Eric Brown was showing off a Wyoming, Michigan, home to 45-year-old Roy Thorne and his 15-year-old son Samuel. Thorne, an army veteran, was in the market to buy a home and Eric Brown has worked in the Grand Rapids area of Michigan selling people homes for two decades. At some point during the 30-minute walk around the prospective homeowner was doing, six uniformed Wyoming police officers surrounded the property with their guns drawn. All three men were forced to exit the home with their hands up as officers pointed their guns at and then handcuffed them. The men were then placed in three separate police vehicles.

Eric Brown, Roy Thorne, and Samuel Thorne are all Black. According to the Wyoming Police Department, the officers were responding to a 911 call from a neighbor that claimed the home was being burglarized. It was only after spending around 20 minutes in handcuffs that the three were released. Brown told a reporter that he would be lying if he didn’t believe race played a large part in the 911 call and police response.”

Hell yes race played the entire part in the 911 call AND in the officer’s treatment of the men.  No doubt some Karen made the call, but the police might have bothered to assess the situation before arresting the men … and teen.  Perhaps we’re not as far off from Pakistan as we’d like to think.

Republicans Must Not Be Allowed to Retake the House

Mid-term elections are just fifteen months away … or, to phrase it another way, mid-term elections are fifteen months away, approximately 450 days, and a lot can happen in fifteen months.  In all my history as a political animal, I’ve never put a lot of importance on the “party”, but more on the individual.  Today, though, that has all changed as we are in the age of uber-partisanship and the values of the two parties are miles apart.  From where I stand, the Republican Party shoots itself in the foot a little more every day, but I also understand that not everyone shares my viewpoint.  However, I think that in the midterms in some 450 days, it will be the end of this nation as we know it if the Republican Party manages to capture a majority in both chambers of Congress.  And folks … it could happen.  Every day they lie through their teeth to voters who may not be inclined to seek the truth, but find it easier to believe what they are told by the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Louie Gohmert, Mitch McConnell and others who long ago sold their consciences.

Our friend TokyoSand over at Political Charge has written a post showing just one reason that the Republicans cannot be allowed to re-take majority roles in Congress.  I strongly urge you to read her post and give this some thought …


Republicans Must Not Be Allowed to Retake the House

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The Republicans don’t deserve to govern.

Last night, reports surfaced that Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was at an event, raising money for the midterms, where he riled up the crowd by saying he wanted them to watch Nancy Pelosi hand him the Speaker’s gavel after they won the midterms. He followed up by saying, “It will be hard not to hit her with it.”

Read that again.

The top Republican in the House chose to casually suggest violence against the female Speaker of the House because he knew that’s what his supporters and voters want to hear. This, after Trump supporters specifically sought out Pelosi during the January 6th insurrection.

… Read more of this post

The Rise of the American Left and Nina Turner: What Her Win Would Mean

Today I would like to share another post by our new blogging friend Quentin over at WeTheCommoners.  Quentin talks a bit about some of the up-and-coming new faces in the Democratic Party, or the ‘Left’, and then he posits that the new blood in the party needs to stand firm, that they aren’t being forceful enough and have been afraid to utilize their power.  Now, up to this point, I fully agree with him … the Democratic Party as a whole needs to be more forceful, not allow the ‘other side’ to walk all over them as they are so often doing these days.  But he takes it a step further and there is a point where I’m not quite 100% in agreement with him.  However, I want you to read this post with an open mind, for he makes many excellent points that should be given thought, so I won’t express my reservations just yet … perhaps later on in comments.  Thank you, Quentin, for a very thought-provoking, well-written post!


The Rise of the American Left and Nina Turner: What Her Win Would Mean

The American left has slowly risen in power. Would Nina Turner’s potential win in Ohio give them the energy they need to fight their own party?

By Quentin Choy

July 27, 2021

If you’ve paid any attention to American politics over the last five years, you’ve noticed several upstarts on the political left.

An unknown Senator from Vermont almost defeated Hillary Clinton and the Democratic machine in the 2016 primaries.

A young bartender in the Bronx defeated a 10-term Congressman. Over in the north Bronx, a high school principal defeated the chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee just two years later.

Please read the rest of the post by clicking on the link!

When Conservative became Noservative

Our friend Brosephus shares his thoughts on today’s Republican conservatives, or ‘noservatives’ as he so aptly dubs them. What, he asks, has happened to the Republican Party in the past decade or two? Where is the party that actually DID something instead of simply trying to put roadblocks up for the other party? Brosephus’ post is one well worth reading and pondering. Thank you, Brosephus!

The Mind of Brosephus

Cover of Time Magazine from March 21, 2016

There’s been several topics that have popped up that I haven’t had the time to write about. Most times, these topics usually get discussed in the comment section. I appreciate that because I don’t always have the time to post a new topic to address recent events to allow “on topic” commenting.

That said, I happened to come across the above Time Magazine cover, and I think it asks a very important question that we don’t discuss enough. What happened to the Republican Party? I’m talking beyond the personality cult it’s become with the sole intent on pissing off liberals. What happened to the ideas and guiding principles of conservatism?

For example, let’s discuss immigration for a minute. Conservatives will whine and bitch to no end about how immigration is a problem and there’s a border crisis going on. We’ve been hearing…

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The GOP Madness … Doing Us A Favour?

Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of the Republican House members who had been appointed by Kevin McCarthy to sit on the committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection.  The two were Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Burns of Indiana, and Speaker Pelosi was well within her rights to reject them, for both had refused to certify the election results from the 2020 election, though there was no question whatsoever that President Biden had won by more than 7 million votes. Both attempted to stifle our votes, our voices.

McCarthy, who qualifies as one of the head clowns in the GOP circus, went ballistic and pulled the other three, the ones Pelosi had agreed to, off of the committee.  Fine by me, for his only goal was to be disruptive and ensure that the committee would be unable to conduct a full investigation as we need them to.  Why?  Why are Republicans so adamant that we not get to the bottom of an attack that threatened the democratic principles founded in the U.S. Constitution?  Because … they know the role that certain Republicans played in inciting and participating in the events of the day.  Some of those people carry the last name “Trump” and that is already a proven fact!  So, let’s cover it up … bury it so that they don’t have to try to justify their actions, justify their attempt to rob We the People of our voice … so that come November 2022, people will have forgotten the coup that almost was, and those who bear some responsibility for the events won’t have to answer awkward questions that might land them on the other side of the iron bars!

That said, Washington Post columnists Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman have collaborated on a piece that I think worthy of being shared.  For what little my opinion may be worth, I am 100% in agreement with these gentlemen …


How Kevin McCarthy is boosting the integrity of the Jan. 6 investigation

Opinion by Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman

21 July 2021; 5:08 p.m. EDT

We should be thankful that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) just pulled Republicans out of any involvement in the select committee to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection. In so doing, he ensured that the committee’s investigation will both have more integrity and be more likely to undertake a valuable accounting.

Which goes to a larger truth about this moment: Efforts at a real examination of arguably the worst outbreak of political violence in modern times — and efforts to protect our democracy more broadly — will not be bipartisan. These things will be done by Democrats alone.

McCarthy’s handling of the Jan. 6 committee illustrates the point. It comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that she is nixing two of McCarthy’s picks to serve on it: Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

McCarthy mustered great outrage about this, railing that it was an “abuse of power” that had cost the committee “all legitimacy and credibility.”

In fact, precisely the opposite is true: By pulling out, McCarthy has boosted the committee’s legitimacy and credibility immeasurably. The less involved McCarthy is with this committee, the more likely it will be to undertake a genuine and comprehensive accounting.

McCarthy’s picks were expressly designed to prevent that accounting. This is not speculation or a mere guess at McCarthy’s motives. It is unavoidably clear from the public statements and conduct of Banks and Jordan themselves.

Banks’s first act on getting named by McCarthy was to release a statement declaring that the committee must investigate the “hundreds of violent political riots” in which “many more innocent Americans and law-enforcement officers were attacked.”

That’s an explicit declaration that the insurrection and Donald Trump’s incitement of it should not be the focus of the committee and is a less serious matter than those riots.

Similarly, after Jordan was picked, he immediately declared he wants to serve on the committee because “this is impeachment round three,” unwittingly revealing — or perhaps unabashedly declaring — that he saw his role as solely a means for working to exonerate Trump.

What’s more, Jordan had already played a prominent role in spreading the very lies about the 2020 election that helped inspire the insurrection the committee will be investigating. Given that the committee is charged with probing the causes of the violence — and that those lies are a major cause — any real accounting must also implicate Republicans such as Jordan.

On top of all this, remember that McCarthy could have exercised even more control over the investigation — yet declined. Back in May, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the Homeland Security Committee chair, announced an agreement with the ranking Republican on an evenly divided 10-member bipartisan commission, with both parties having veto power over subpoenas.

Guess who voted against that commission? McCarthy, Banks and Jordan did.

All three also voted to object to President Biden’s electors, a vote that represented the culmination of the lies this committee will investigate as a cause of the violence.

There’s another hidden dynamic here, too: McCarthy and Jordan are very likely witnesses themselves. McCarthy made a frantic appeal to Trump to call off the rioters; he likely has firsthand experience of Trump’s truly sociopathic and insurrectionist intentions that day.

And Jordan was present in a Dec. 21 White House meeting with Trump and others, at which they discussed how to overturn Biden’s electors on the day of what would become the insurrection. What was said at that meeting will be of great interest to the committee.

“Anyone who is a material witness to the key events leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection doesn’t really belong on the committee,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the select committee, told us.

“The investigative inquiry is being shaped right now,” Raskin continued, “but those are likely to be key events in the chronology.”

Here’s the bottom line: By nixing Banks and Jordan, Pelosi actually protected the integrity of the committee’s investigation, from their openly advertised intention to misdirect, disrupt and sabotage it. By appointing publicly committed saboteurs, McCarthy openly advertised the same intention.

The conventions of political reporting are such that this basic and obvious truth will not be faithfully rendered in press accounts. But it follows from a straightforward interpretation of the statements and conduct of those Republicans themselves.

There Outta Be A Law!

There is currently no law in the U.S. that says a convicted felon cannot run for public office all the way up to the presidency.  Crazy, right?  You’ll likely remember the Bundy brothers – Ammon and Ryan – and their father, Cliven, who came to fame in 2014 when they engaged in an armed standoff with Bureau of Land Management agents at their Bunkerville, Nevada, ranch amid a dispute over the father Cliven Bundy’s refusal to pay grazing fees.  All three were indicted and served jail time.

Then in 2016, Ammon gained further notoriety over a protest at the Malheur national wildlife refuge – part of a campaign to force the federal government to turn public land over to states.

Bundy was arrested twice last year at Idaho’s state capitol after leading a march to protest Idaho’s stay-at-home pandemic order and was later charged with criminal trespass for disrupting a meeting of the state legislature. In April of this year, he was arrested again over a similar encounter. He has pleaded not guilty in one case and has not yet entered a plea in the second.  But despite all this, guess what?  Yep, you guessed it … Ammon Bundy has filed the paperwork to run for the office of Governor of Idaho in 2022!

Bundy says his reason for seeking the governorship is that he wants to defend Idaho from “Joe Biden and those in the Deep State that control him” because they “are going to try to take away our gun rights, freedom of religion, parental rights, and more and further violate the constitution in unimaginable ways even more than they’ve already done.”

Interestingly, though, the GOP doesn’t seem to want Bundy.  Idaho Republican party chairman, Tom Luna, said this month that Bundy is not welcome among GOP ranks, pointing to Bundy’s failure to register as a Republican before at the time he filed initial campaign paperwork.  So, he didn’t register, but with his history and his attitude, what else could he be but a Republican???  But there’s more, according to Luna …

“Furthermore, we do not support his antics or his chaotic political theater. That is not the Idaho Republican party, and we will not turn a blind eye to his behaviors.”

In his campaign launch video, Bundy drew attention to his long battle with the federal government over the use of government land, which make up about two-thirds of the state. His platform is to eliminate property and income taxes, federal control over land and public health mandates.  Hmmmm … sounds to me as if he plans to secede Idaho from the United States, for none of this would fall under his authority even as governor.

Says Bundy …

“We cannot afford to have state leadership that lets the federal government bully us, or walk all over us. And it’s an unfair fight, when the federal government unlawfully attacks the people, believe me, I know as my family and I experienced this first-hand, when we were unlawfully attacked by federal officials at our family ranch in Nevada in 2014. But we did not back down, and thankfully, like-minded patriots across the country stood with us, as we fought back against federal tyranny to protect our land and our rights.”

Oh yes, indeed, Ammon … you are a great hero … convicted felon, jailbird, squatter, killer of wildlife and more.

Why don’t we have laws prohibiting convicted felons from running for office?  Perhaps such laws were never needed before, but this is a new day, a day when QAnon conspiracists sit in Congress, a day when an armed insurrection is referred to as “nothing out of the ordinary”, and a day when a television comedian, a madman, could sit in the Oval Office for 4 full years.  It’s time to up our game.  It’s time to put the brakes on before we see this nation enter the ranks of a banana republic with the likes of Ammon Bundy, Margie QAnon Greene, Josh fist-bump Hawley, Ted Cancun Cruz, Matt sex-trafficker Gaetz, Lauren gimme-my-gun Boebert and others running the show!