Tit for Tat

You have often heard me say that sometimes I think our friends across the pond see our situation with more clarity than we do. There’s an old adage, “… can’t see the forest for the trees”, meaning sometimes we are too close to a situation, and if we could only step back a ways, we would see it more clearly. I’m often amazed by the interest our UK/European friends show in our political situation, but also their understanding of where we are headed. One such voice is David Prosser, who very clearly sees what is happening and where it could potentially lead if our elected officials are not held accountable for their actions. This is David’s insightful take on several aspects of our situation so far this year … thank you, David!

The BUTHIDARS

I promised myelf not to be surprised by anything more that American Politics threw up after the acquisition of the role of Speaker of the house by Kevin McCarthy. I say acquisiton rather than election as he had to sell his soul to get the post. The new owner of that soul is none other than Margie Greene who to my mind should not even be sitting in the house.

the tit for tat started early this week with thr removal of Representitive Ilhan Omar from her role on the House Foreign Affairs Committee because of anti semitism. Whilst to my mind, she has expressed strong views on the Israeli actions in Palestine, those views have been entirely valid. The treatment of Plestinians by Israeli forces has been abominable. I somehow doubt her removal frrom this important role will deter or lessen Ms Omar’s opinions.

But how is it that…

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A Few Thoughts

Just a few of my thoughts on this Saturday afternoon …


I think the people of District 3 in New York should have the opportunity to recall George Santos and force a special election.  The man they thought they were voting for, after all, does not exist.  Mr. Santos, or whatever his name actually is, built his reputation on a tower of lies … a very high tower, as it were.  And now, that tower is crumbling and should by any logical thought, be brought down before it does significant damage.  However, by the terms set forth in the U.S. Constitution, a member of the House can only be removed by a 2/3 majority vote in the House … or death.  With the current panic by Republicans over losing so much as one seat of their paper-thin majority, that is beyond unlikely.  Remember when the former guy said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not suffer any repercussions?  Well, apparently that also applies to George Santos and any other House Republicans.


Apparently, the committee name “House Intelligence Committee” is a misnomer, for Republican House Leader McCarthy has ejected the only two members who actually had any … intelligence, that is.  Yep, the arsehole refused to allow two very intelligent and qualified Democrats, Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff, to serve on the ‘Intelligence’ Committee.  Both have previously served on the committee, and Adam Schiff, notably, has led the Intelligence Committee for the past four years!

McCarthy did not diss Schiff and Swalwell because they weren’t qualified – he dissed them in retaliation for the times that some of his choices were not chosen for various committees, such as when Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t allow the two Jims – Jordan and Banks – to serve on the January 6th investigative committee because both had played a role in the insurrection.  Or the time that the Democratic-led House stripped Marge Greene and Paul Gosar, two radical conspiracy theorists, from their committee assignments.  Or perhaps, as Adam Schiff says …

“His objection seems to be that I was the lead impeachment manager in Donald Trump’s first impeachment, and that we held him accountable for withholding hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid from Ukraine. So he is now, I think, carrying the dirty water for the former president in trying to remove me from the intel committee.”

Whatever the reason, he is denying two of the House members with the most experience a seat on an important committee, one that is crucial to the security of the nation, for reasons that make no sense to a rational mind.


Remember, folks, it’s not about good governance, it’s not about what’s best for the nation and its people, it’s not about justice or truth, it’s only about power and wealth for the few.  Full stop.  Let us hope that in November 2024, people will vote more conscientiously, will actually put thought into their vote rather than simply voting along party lines or for the loudest voice.

And now, let’s lighten the mood with a few ‘toons, shall we?

MAINLY FOR AMERICANS, AND THOSE AFFECTED BY THEM — The Debt Ceiling Debate

On Tuesday, I read, saved and bookmarked Robert Reich’s newsletter about the debt ceiling, planning to share it sometime soon, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Meanwhile, our friend rawgod beat me to the draw, so in the interest of not re-inventing the wheel, I shall re-blog rg’s post! Please take a few moments to read this piece, for it clears up some miscomprehensions about what the debt ceiling is and how critical it is to the very survival of this nation. Thanks, rg!

Ideas From Outside the Boxes

Following are the words of Professor Robert Reich, once upon a time the Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. He is now, and has long been, an American professor, author, lawyer, and political commentator. He also worked in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. I believe he knows the truth about what he is saying.

**********************

Friends,

Few things make me as furious as the mainstream media’s reluctance to tell the public what the Republican Party is doing — and instead hide the truth behind “both sides” rubbish. How the hell can democracy work ifTheNew York Times,CNN, and even National Public Radio obscure what’s really going on?

Let me state five central truths about the pending fight over the debt ceiling and show you how the mainstream media is distorting each of them.

Truth #1: The fight is being waged solely by the…

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Homeland Terror

I keep hoping to wake up from the nightmare that is defined by the current U.S. House of Representatives, but so far no luck. The House “leader” has placed the most UNqualified candidates in positions on committees that he could find, and they are indulging their fantasies with “investigations” that they know are bogus, that will have no effect other than to turn the House into a three-ring circus! And we pay these arseholes for this! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Clay Jones of Claytoonz fame has written an excellent piece about a couple of these unqualified clowns sitting on committees. For the record, I fully agree with all he says. Thank you, Clay!

claytoonz

Let’s make one thing clear. What happened on January 6, 2021, was a terrorist attack against our country.

It was an insurrection by white nationalists to overturn a free democratic election and install an unelected dictator. It was a coup attempt.

It was an attack designed to stop the certification of the election, a duty mandated on Congress by the United States Constitution.

The people who did this are terrorists. Ashli Babbitt, who was killed during the attack, was a terrorist.

This was an attack on the United States of America. It was not a protest. It wasn’t just a bunch of tourists. It was a terrorist attack that was instigated by conspiracy theories and the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and it was stolen from him by Joe Biden, Democrats, and a Deep State. One of the biggest advocates for this lie and assault on our…

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No delusions – poor governance in action

The U.S. House of Representatives is supposed to be “the people’s” branch of Congress, but today it is anything but. The goals of about half the members of the House do not align with the goal of a government that is “… of the people, by the people, for the people.” Check out what our friend Keith has to say about the House and responsible governance.

musingsofanoldfart

In case you had any delusions that the new majority in the US House would offer up good governance, please note:

– Returning Congress representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar have been seated on Committees by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, after being removed in the last Congress for their inflammatory and inane remarks. When I think of Greene and Gosar, the words reasonable and collaborative are not top of mind.

– New Congressman George Santos, the one with the highly fabricated resume, will be seated on two Committees by Speaker McCarthy. Instead of advocating for his being censured or even removed, Santos gets two Committee assignments. I guess the Speaker holds lying in higher regard than most people. Either that or he needed his vote to remain Speaker and will put up with anything.

– Numerous bills have been proposed to restrict voting. As an independent voter, the greater problem…

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Just A Coupl’a Thoughts …

I’ve said before that these next two years are going to be chaotic and annoying, and already my angst levels are high, though not as high as they were at this point six years ago!  So, I have just a couple of thoughts at the moment to share with you.


The keepers of the purse …

Y’know … the people on the right-hand side of the aisle, also known as Republicans, sure do make a big fuss over saying that Democrats are not fiscally responsible, that they just spend, spend, spend, with no thought to a balanced budget or debt reduction.  Funny though … last year the U.S. deficit (the difference between assets and liabilities) fell … from $2.6 trillion to $1.4 trillion.  Now, as I recall, the Democrats were a majority in both chambers of Congress, and we had a Democratic president as well.  So, it seems to me that the Democrats do just fine with managing finances!  I guess those Republicans just need something to say to make themselves feel superior, eh?  Oh, and in case you’re wondering … the last time the deficit was erased and the budget fully balanced was under another Democrat – President Bill Clinton.


And speaking of those pesky Republicans …

In the days following the January 6th violent insurrection, additional security measures were taken in the Capitol, one of which was to install metal detectors, known as magnetometers.  Threats against members of Congress are at an all-time high, with 9,625 such threats in 2022 alone, so the safety of our lawmakers should be of primary concern.  But once the Republicans won a very slim majority in the House of Representatives, they had the magnetometers removed from outside the House chamber.  Why?  Who knows?  I do seem to recall that pistol-totin’ Lauren Boebert complained about having to pass through the detectors, ‘cause you know she can’t go anywhere without her gun, so maybe she whined long and loud enough.  Or maybe they’re already working with the likes of the Proud Boys to plot the next attempted coup and want to make sure they can get in with their guns.

But in an additional move to risk the safety of the members of the House, they lifted the smoking ban on their side of the Capitol building.  A number of representatives lit up stinky stogies (cigars) just because they could.  An interesting tidbit … former House Speaker John Boehner smoked so many cigarettes that new carpets, a fresh coat of paint and an ozone machine were required when Paul Ryan took over his office.  Guess who paid for all that?  I wonder if some of the non-smokers will file a lawsuit against their colleagues?


And that’s all the serious stuff I have the stomach for this morning, so how ‘bout some ‘toons?

An Insightful Conversation

There are a few conservative journalists that I follow and respect, for they are not in sync with today’s Republican Party, but are of a generation of conservatives that still believe in such things as integrity and responsibility.  Two of those are David Brooks and Bret Stephens, opinion columnists for the New York Times.  What follows is a conversation between the two, and while by no means do they agree on every point, I think both are in full agreement that the Republican Party no longer represents their views and values.  This is a lengthy article and normally I would have posted the first few paragraphs and provided a link to the original article.  However, since the NYT has a paywall and many of you would not be able to read it, and because I think it is a worthy read, I am posting it in its entirety here.


The Party’s Over for Us. Where Do We Go Now?

By Bret Stephens and David Brooks

11 January 2023

For decades, conservative values have been central to Bret Stephens’s and David Brooks’s political beliefs, and the Republican Party was the vehicle to extend those beliefs into policy. But in recent years, both the party and a radicalized conservative movement have left them feeling alienated in various ways. Now, with an extremist fringe seemingly in control of the House, the G.O.P. bears little resemblance to the party that was once their home. Bret and David got together to suss out what happened and where the party can go.

Bret Stephens: Lately I’ve been thinking about that classic Will Rogers line: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” A century or so later, it looks like the shoe is on the other foot. Is it even possible to call the Republican Party a “party” anymore?

David Brooks: My thinking about the G.O.P. goes back to a brunch I had with Laura Ingraham and Dinesh D’Souza in the ’80s that helps me see, in retrospect, that people in my circle were pro-conservative, while Ingraham and D’Souza and people in their circle were anti-left. We wanted to champion Edmund Burke and Adam Smith and a Reaganite foreign policy. They wanted to rock the establishment. That turned out to be a consequential difference because almost all the people in my circle back then — like David Frum and Robert Kagan — ended up, decades later, NeverTrumpers, and almost all the people in their circle became Trumpers or went bonkers.

Bret: Right, they weren’t conservatives. They were just illiberal.

David: Then in 1995 some friends and I created a magazine called The Weekly Standard. The goal was to help the G.O.P. become a mature governing party. Clearly we did an awesome job! I have a zillion thoughts about where the Republican Party went astray, but do you have a core theory?

Bret: I have multiple theories, but let me start with one: The mid-1990s was also the time that Newt Gingrich became speaker of the House and Fox News got started. Back then, those who were on the more intelligent end of the conservative spectrum thought a magazine such as The Weekly Standard, a channel such as Fox and a guy like Gingrich would be complementary: The Standard would provide innovative ideas for Republican leaders like Gingrich, and Fox would popularize those ideas for right-of-center voters. It didn’t work out as planned. The supposed popularizers turned into angry populists. And the populists turned on the intellectuals.

To borrow Warren Buffett’s take about investing, the conservative movement went from innovation to imitation to idiocy. It’s how the movement embraced Donald Trump as a standard-bearer and role model. All the rest, as they say, is Commentary.

Your theory?

David: I think I’d tell a similar story, but maybe less flattering to my circle. The people who led the Republican Party, either as president (Ronald Reagan through the Bushes), members of Congress (Jack Kemp, John McCain, Paul Ryan) or as administration officials and intellectuals (Richard Darman, Condi Rice) believed in promoting change through the institutions of established power. They generally wanted to shrink and reform the government but they venerated the Senate, the institution of the presidency, and they worked comfortably with people from the think tanks, the press and the universities. They were liberal internationalists, cosmopolitan, believers in the value of immigration.

Bret: I’d add that they also believed in the core values of old-fashioned liberalism: faith in the goodness of democracy, human rights, the rule of law, free speech, political compromise, the political process itself. They believed in building things up, not just tearing them down. I would count myself among them.

David: Then the establishment got discredited (Iraq War, financial crisis, the ossifying of the meritocracy, the widening values gap between metro elites and everybody else), and suddenly all the people I regarded as fringe and wackadoodle (Pat Buchanan, Donald Trump, anybody who ran CPAC) rose up on the wave of populist fury.

Everybody likes a story in which the little guy rises up to take on the establishment, but in this case the little guys rode in on a wave of know-nothingism, mendacity, an apocalyptic mind-set, and authoritarianism. Within a few short years, a somewhat Hamiltonian party became a Jacksonian one, with a truly nihilistic wing.

Bret: Slightly unfair to Jackson, who at least opposed nullification, but I take your overall point.

David: After many years of the G.O.P. decaying, the party’s institutional and moral collapse happened quickly, between 2013 and 2016. In the 2000 Republican primaries I enthusiastically supported John McCain. I believed in his approach to governance and I admired him enormously. But by 2008, when he got the nomination, the party had shifted and McCain had shifted along with it. I walked into the polling booth that November genuinely not knowing if I would vote for McCain or Barack Obama. Then an optical illusion flashed across my brain. McCain and Obama’s names appeared to be written on the ballot in 12-point type. But Sarah Palin’s name looked like it was written in red in 24-point type. I don’t think I’ve ever said this publicly before, but I voted for Obama.

Bret: I voted for McCain. If I were basing my presidential votes on the vice-presidential candidate, I’d have thought twice about voting for Biden.

On your point about populism: There have been previous Republican presidents who rode to office on waves of populist discontent, particularly Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. But as presidents they channeled the discontent into serious programs and also turned their backs on the ugly fringes of the right. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and expanded the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Reagan established a working relationship with Democratic House leaders to pass tax reform and gave amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. What’s different this time is that populist feelings were never harnessed to pragmatic policies. As you say, it’s just populism in the service of nihilism.

David: So where does the G.O.P. go from here and where does the old core of the conservative movement go? Do they (we) become Democrats or a quiet left-wing fringe of what’s become Matt Gaetz’s clown show?

Bret: When people get on a bad path, whether it’s drinking or gambling or political or religious fanaticism, they tend to follow it all the way to the bottom, at which point they either die or have that proverbial moment of clarity. I’ve been waiting for Republicans to have a moment of clarity for a while now — after Joe Biden’s victory, or Jan. 6, the midterms, Trump’s dinner with Kanye West. I had a flicker of hope that the Kevin McCarthy debacle last week would open some eyes, but probably not. Part of the problem is that so many Republicans no longer get into politics to pass legislation. They do it to become celebrities. The more feverish they are, the better it sells.

On the other hand, some Republicans who conspicuously did well in the midterms were the “normies” — people like Gov. Brian Kemp in Georgia and Gov. Mike DeWine in Ohio. It gives me hope that the fever will eventually burn itself out, maybe after a few well-earned defeats. The solution here is some kind of Republican version of the old Democratic Leadership Council, which yanked left-wing Democrats back to the center after three consecutive presidential wipeouts and paved the way for the election of Bill Clinton.

Which raises another question for me, David: Where are the old brains and money trusts of the G.O.P., to give life and energy to that kind of effort?

David: Well, it’s not going to be me! Even in my red-hot youth, when I worked for Bill Buckley at National Review, I didn’t see myself as a Republican, just a conservative. I maintain a distance from political parties because I think it’s always wrong for a writer to align too closely to a party. That’s the path to predictability and propagandism. Furthermore, I belong in the American tradition that begins with Alexander Hamilton, runs through the Whig Party and Lincoln, and then modernized with Theodore Roosevelt, parts of Reagan and McCain. I wasted years writing essays on how Republicans could maintain this tradition. The party went the other way. Now I think the Democrats are a better Hamiltonian home.

Bret: I’m part of the same conservative tradition, though maybe with a heavier dose of Milton Friedman.

David: Our trajectories with the G.O.P. are fairly similar, and so are our lives. I’m older than you, but our lives have a number of parallels. We both grew up in secular Jewish families, went to the University of Chicago, worked at The Wall Street Journal, served in Brussels for The Journal, and wound up at The Times.

Bret: We also probably had many of the same professors at Chicago — wonderful teachers like Nathan Tarcov, Ralph Lerner, François Furet, and Leon and Amy Kass — who taught me that Lesson No. 1 was to not succumb to the idea that justice is the advantage of the stronger, and to always keep an open mind to a powerful counterargument. That’s not a mind-set I see with the current Republican leaders.

David: When people ask me whether they should end a relationship they’re in, I answer them with a question: Are the embers dead? Presumably when the relationship started there was a flame of love. Is some of that warmth still there, waiting to be revived, or is it just stone-cold ash? In my relationship with the G.O.P., the embers are dead. I look at the recent madness in the House with astonishment but detachment. Isaiah Berlin once declared he belonged to “the extreme right-wing edge of the left-wing movement,” and if that location is good enough for old Ike Berlin, it’s good enough for me.

Bret: I wouldn’t have had trouble calling myself a Republican till 2012, when I started to write pretty critically about the direction the party was taking on social issues, immigration and foreign policy. In 2016 I voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in my life, did it again in 2020, and I think of myself as a conservative-minded independent. If I haven’t finalized my divorce from the G.O.P., we’re definitely separated and living apart.

David: I suppose I went through stages of alienation. By the early 2000s, I came to believe that the free market policies that were right to combat stagnation and sclerosis a few decades earlier were not right for an age of inequality and social breakdown. Then the congressional Republicans began to oppose almost every positive federal good, even George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism. Trump brought the three horsemen of the apocalypse — immorality, dishonesty and bigotry. The party, complicit in all that, is dead to me, even though, I have to say, a good chunk of my friends are Republicans.

Bret: I’m loath to give up completely on Republicans only because I believe a successful democracy needs a morally healthy conservative party — one that channels conservative psychological tendencies into policies to check heedless progressivism while engaging productively with an evolving world. I see no other plausible vehicle to advance those policies. Still, the party’s road to recovery is going to be long and hard. And it’s going to require some courageous and credible conservatives to speak up and denounce the current direction of the party.

David: As for who is going to lead a Republican revival, I guess I’d start in the states. One of Al From’s insights in leading the Democratic Leadership Council was that change was going to come from the young and ambitious state legislators and governors, like Bill Clinton — a new generation of politicians from moderate parts of the country. But the Democrats had a strong incentive to change because they lost a lot of elections between 1968 and 1992. The country is now so evenly divided, it takes only a slight shift to produce victory, and nobody has an incentive to rethink his or her party.

Bret: And, of course, when Republicans lose, they console themselves with the thought that it’s because the other side cheated.

David: If the Republican Party is to thrive, intellectually and politically, it will have to become a multiracial working-class party. A lot of people are already thinking along these lines. Oren Cass at American Compass has been pushing a working-class agenda. The Trumpish writers and activists who call themselves national conservatives are not my cup of tea, but they do speak in the tone of anti-coastal-elite protest that is going to be the melody of this party for a long time to come. To my mind, Yuval Levin is one of the brightest conservatives in America today. He runs a division at the American Enterprise Institute where the debates over the future of the right are already being held.

The party will either revive or crack up, the way the Whig Party did. But it’s going to take decades. If I’m still around to see it, I’ll be eating mush and listening to Led Zeppelin Muzak with the other fogeys at the Rockefeller Republican Home for the Aged.

Bret: You may well be right about how long it takes. But I don’t think it’s going to do so as a party of the working class. The natural place for the G.O.P. is as the party of economic freedom, social aspiration and moral responsibility — a party of risers, if not always of winners. Its archetypal constituent is the small-business owner. It wants less regulation because it understands from experience how well-intended ideas from above translate into onerous and stupid rules at the ground level. It doesn’t mind big business per se but objects to moralizing C.E.O.s who try to use their size and incumbency to impose left-coast ideology. And it thinks there should be consequences, not excuses, for unlawful behavior, which means it looks askance at policies like bail reform and lax law enforcement at borders.

The problem is that Trump turned the party into a single-purpose vehicle for cultural resentments. It doesn’t help that coastal elites do so much on their own to feed those resentments.

David: We’ve reached a rare moment of disagreement! Your configuration for Republicans was a product of long debates in the 20th century. Size-of-government arguments are going to be less salient. Values, identity and social status issues will be more salient. I think the core driver of politics across the Western democracies is this: In society after society, highly educated professionals have formed a Brahmin class. The top of the ladder go to competitive colleges, marry each other, send their kids to elite schools and live in the same neighborhoods. This class dominates the media, the academy, Hollywood, tech and the corporate sector.

Many people on the middle and bottom have risen up to say, we don’t want to be ruled by those guys. To hell with their economic, cultural and political power. We’ll vote for anybody who can smash their machine. The Republican Party is the party of this protest movement.

Bret: Another way of thinking about the class/partisan divide you are describing is between people whose business is the production and distribution of words — academics, journalists, civil servants, lawyers, intellectuals — and people whose business is the production and distribution of things — manufacturers, drivers, contractors, distributors, and so on. The first group makes the rules for the administrative state. The latter lives under the weight of those rules, and will continue to be the base of the G.O.P.

By the way, since you mentioned earlier the need for new leaders to come from the states, is there anyone who particularly impresses you? And how do you feel about the quasi-nominee-in-waiting, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida?

David: I’m slightly bearish about DeSantis. He does a good job of being Trumpy without Trump, but I wonder if a man who apparently has net negative social skills and empathy can really thrive during an intimately covered national campaign that will last two years. Trump was at least funny, and to his voters, charismatic. Do you have any other candidates on your radar screen?

Bret: Well, I don’t think it’ll be either of the Mikes — Pious Pence or Pompous Pompeo. I like Nikki Haley personally and think she has a good mind and a terrific personal story. But I don’t get the sense of much public enthusiasm for her beyond high-level donors.

Which brings me back to DeSantis. He seems to have figured out that the G.O.P. sits on a three-legged stool consisting of Trumpists, evangelicals and the business community. He’s earned the respect of the first with his pugilistic jabs at the media, of the second with his attacks on Disney and his parental rights legislation, and of the third with an open-for-business approach to governance that has brought hundreds of thousands of people to Florida. Next to all that, the personality defects seem pretty surmountable.

David: Sigh. I can’t rebut your logic here. Save us, Glenn Youngkin!

Bret: Final question, David: If you could rewind the tape to 1995, is there anything you or anyone in our circle could have done differently to save the Republican Party from the direction it ultimately took?

David: In 1996 Pat Buchanan’s sister, Kathleen, worked at The Standard as an executive assistant. A truly wonderful woman. We virulently opposed Pat in his presidential run that year. The day after he won the New Hampshire primary she smiled kindly at us and said something to the effect of: Don’t worry. I’ll protect you guys when the pitchforks come.

Bret: Given what happened to The Standard, it didn’t work out as promised.

David: I wish we had taken that Buchanan victory more seriously, since it was a precursor of what was to come. I wish we had pivoted our conservatism even faster away from (sorry) Wall Street Journal editorial page ideas and come up with conservative approaches to inequality, to deindustrialization, to racial disparities, etc. I wish, in other words, that our mentalities had shifted faster.

But in truth, I don’t believe it would have made any difference. Authoritarian populism is a global phenomenon. The Republicans were destined to turn more populist. The big question is, do they continue on the path to authoritarianism?

Bret: I look back at the world of conservative ideas I grew up in, professionally speaking, and I see a lot worth holding on to: George Kelling and James Q. Wilson on crime, Nicholas Eberstadt on social breakdown, Linda Chavez on immigration, Shelby Steele on racial issues, Garry Kasparov on the threat of Vladimir Putin, and so on. I don’t think the ideas were the core problem, even if not every one of them stands the test of time. The problem was that, when the illiberal barbarians were at the conservative gates, the gatekeepers had a catastrophic loss of nerve. Whether it’s too late to regain that nerve is, to me, the ultimate question.

And So It Begins …

It’s been a while since I’ve written a snarky snippets post … but then again, almost all my posts are snarky, aren’t they?  But today my snark-o-meter is telling me it’s time to let a bit of it out before I implode, so here we go …


Another day, another impeachment … ho hum

On President Biden’s first full day in the White House back in 2021, Marge Greene filed impeachment charges against him.  He had barely even sat down in the chair behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office when she decided he had committed impeachable offenses.  Nobody else chose to play her stupid game and the charges sat in the dead impeachment file box, but were added to numerous times over the last two years.  In total, impeachment charges have been filed against President Biden no less than nine times in two years, five of which were filed by Marge Greene herself.  Grounds?  There were none.  Republicans just like the limelight.  One of the things we have heard repeated ad nauseam for the past year or more was that once the Republicans had a majority in the House, they would be impeaching … pick a name!  President Biden, certainly, but also Attorney General Merrick Garland, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.  Grounds?  None.

And so it began yesterday when Representative Patrick Edward Fallon of Texas filed articles of impeachment against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.  Grounds?  The resolution claims Mayorkas “engaged in a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with his duties,” complaining that he has failed to maintain control over the border.  In other words, “None.”

Mr. Fallon has a bit of a history of histrionics:

  • Last June he blamed mass shootings on “overuse of these dang smartphones.”
  • In June 2021 he co-sponsored a bill that would ban teaching the history of racism in Washington DC public schools.
  • Also in June 2021, he signed a letter which demanded that Joe Biden take a cognitive function test.
  • Days after being sworn-in in January 2021, Fallon voted to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election.

Prepare yourself for a number of impeachments over the coming months, none of which will have grounds, none of which will result in anybody’s removal from office … it is just another of those distractions the Republicans love to use to keep us stressed and redirect our attention away from their own criminal activities.


Meanwhile, down in FloriDUH …

Newly seated Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson is unveiling his first legislative proposal … a proposal that would prevent businesses from tracking Floridians’ firearm and ammo purchases. Once I got past the spluttering indignation at such a proposal, I looked at his title and wondered what the Sam Hell the Agricultural Commissioner has to do with firearms regulation???  Since when do gun sales fall under the umbrella of the guy who’s supposed to oversee farming and fruit trees?  Turns out that in Florida, the Department of Agriculture also includes Consumer Services, the people who issue gun licenses.

Now … I don’t know about you guys, but I think there damn well better be a database of who owns what firearms in this country!  If you don’t want your name on that database, then don’t buy a gun!  Seems real simple to me.  Says Mr. Simpson …

“We are all blessed to live in the free state of Florida where our Second Amendment rights are valued and protected, but Democrats in Washington continue to try to chip away at these rights — and we must stay vigilant.  The ‘Florida Arms and Ammo Act’ draws a line in the sand and tells multi-national progressive financial institutions, and their allies in Washington, that they cannot covertly create a backdoor firearm registry of Floridians — or else.”

Oooohhhhh … tough talk.  Apparently, Simpson, and probably most of the airheads in Florida’s state government, believe that their “Second Amendment rights” are far more important than the lives of the people who pay taxes to support them.  Or the children who attend schools in that state.  If his proposal gains ground and actually becomes law, I suspect it will become a matter for the courts to decide.  We shall see if common sense prevails or if it has left the building.


Beating a dead horse … at our expense!

House Republicans have been busy little beavers this week, it seems.  Not, mind you, that they’ve been spending their time on anything useful or beneficial to We the People, but you have to give ‘em credit for finding unique ways to spend our hard-earned tax dollars!

They have commissioned a ‘special investigative panel’ to delve into the origins of Covid-19.  Um … haven’t the scientists already done this research?  Seems to me that the scientists have traced the origins to a Wuhan market in China, but apparently the Republicans in the House a) don’t believe in science, and b) have nothing better to do with their time and our money.  They claim to believe that the coronavirus originated out of laboratory experiments in Wuhan, China, potentially backed by U.S. money … probably somehow tied to George Soros or some other philanthropist.

But wait … it isn’t only the origins of the virus, but they will also be ‘looking into’ vaccine development, school closures and other mitigation measures to examining the roughly $5 trillion in emergency federal aid approved since early 2020.  Why?  Are they really so stupid that they don’t believe the measures taken to protect the public safety were necessary?  Are they a puppet of the conspiracy theorists who claim there was never a threat, despite the deaths of some 6.7 million people worldwide, 1.1 million in the U.S. alone?  And would they have preferred to let people lose their homes and starve to death rather than spend tax money for emergency aid?  Wow, what a bunch of people, eh?

Good People Doing Good Things — Jaylen Smith

My good people post this morning is taking a little deviation from the standard, but this young man crossed my radar last night and frankly I liked what I saw.  Last May, Jaylen Smith graduated from high school.  On January 1st, he was sworn in as mayor of Earle, Arkansas!  Jaylen is 18 years old!

The city of Earle, population 1,831, has undergone much change since the 1990s when the population was nearly double what it is today.  The shoe factory closed, and the supermarket pulled out. So did neighbors whose old homes were now falling apart, overtaken by weeds and trees. Likewise, the best students at Earle High School often left for college and decided their hometown did not have enough to lure them back.

Mr. Smith won over voters by talking about patching up streets, tearing down dilapidated buildings and lifting up the community’s morale.Credit…Houston Cofield for The New York Times

Jaylen Smith could have left, too. Instead, when he graduated from high school last spring he resolved to stay put in Earle, a small city surrounded by farmland in the Arkansas Delta, where his family has lived for generations.  He decided to stay and try to make a difference, so he threw his hat into the ring for the mayor’s race … and won!

“I didn’t run to make a name for myself. I ran because I wanted to help my community and move my community in the direction that it needed to be moved in.”

Coming from some, that would sound like political rhetoric, but … I believe he means every word of it.

Mr. Smith’s platform reflected the steep price that those who remained in Earle have had to pay. Among other things, they have contended with a faulty drainage system that leaves neighborhoods swamped after rain.Credit…Houston Cofield for The New York Times

Smith described Earle as a town driven by high school sports and growing soybeans and cotton. He ran on a platform of bringing a grocery store to town, beautifying the city and improving transportation and public safety.  Now, lest you think Smith has no relevant experience, he served three years as president of Earle High School’s student government, during which he negotiated a deal with a new cafeteria vendor.

During his days of campaigning, he knocked on the door of nearly every home in Earle. He spent days shadowing mayors in other Arkansas cities, including Little Rock and West Memphis, and scheduled video calls with mayors outside the state, eager to learn what the job actually entailed.

“I’m kind of a go-getter. When I was in high school, I was always told no, but I always kept pushing it because I knew there was someone that was waiting to tell me yes.”

Just a few days into his term, his calendar was filling with meetings, and he had already dispatched crews to work on storm drains. He also has college to think about, as he balances the job with online classes at Arkansas State University Mid-South.

Over the years, Earle, whose population has dwindled to about 1,700, has been defined in large measure by all it has lost.Credit…Houston Cofield for The New York Times

The city of Earle has been infused with a sense of optimism since Mr. Smith won the mayor’s race in early December and especially since he took charge on January 1st. His victory made him one of the youngest African American mayors ever elected in the country — a point of enormous pride to his family and supporters. And many residents hope that his youthful energy and sense of mission can boost the city’s fortunes — or, at the very least, attract a supermarket back to Earle.

“You have to have the knowledge. You have to have the character. You have to be disciplined.”

According to City Council member Angela Jones …

“Sometimes, when the City Council members didn’t show up, Jaylen was there. He attends the school board meetings, the water commission meetings. He was young and he was doing this — who does that? At a young age, he had purpose.”

And another City Council member, Tyneshia Bohanon, who came to know Jaylen while substitute teaching in Earle’s public schools, also has positive words …

“It’s an asset because he’s motivated and he has fresh ideas. He’s thinking of others, as he always has. He chose to stay and get his city where he knows it can be.”

Jaylen is young and inexperienced in many ways.  He faces extraordinary problems trying to revive a town that has largely become a ghost town.  But his heart is in the right place and he is so obviously an intelligent young man, so maybe … just maybe he can do it!  I have long said that we need more young people involved in government, and I think Jaylen may prove my point. When I first read his story in the New York Times last night, I was impressed, so I checked it out in other venues such as CNN, The Washington Post, BBC and others, and all presented a very positive image of a bright young man who just might be able to make a big difference in the lives of the people of Earle, Arkansas.  The more I read, the more I felt that here was another good people who deserves mentioning.

So, Where Do We Go From Here?

As he so often does, Robert Hubbell has done an excellent job of summarizing the events of last week in the U.S. House of Representatives and what the coming weeks/months might bring.


The loyal opposition!

January 9, 2023

By Robert Hubbell

After the painful spectacle of Kevin McCarthy’s election as Speaker late Friday, I opened the Comments section to all readers to allow them to express their feelings about the confluence of the January 6th anniversary and McCarthy’s corrupt bargain to become Speaker. Several hundred readers took the opportunity to express themselves. Understandably, feelings of upset, anger, disappointment, and dejection were more common than usual from readers of this newsletter. While there is much to discuss regarding what McCarthy’s election as Speaker portends for America, those details will unfold over time (and may shift in the coming days). I want to start my discussion with the emotional reaction to McCarthy’s pathetic victory and our mission as “the loyal opposition” over the next two years.

It is reasonable for people to feel upset and angry over McCarthy’s victory. He is unfit to serve in Congress, let alone serve as its leader. Indeed, he is peculiarly unfit to be Speaker because he participated in the assault on Congress on January 6th by spreading the Big Lie and voting in favor of baseless objections to electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania. (McCarthy has since lied about his votes to overturn the election. See Talking Points Memo, McCarthy Falsely Denies Voting To Overturn Election Results.) And, of course, he was the first major politician to make a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to begin the rehabilitation of Trump only a week after those killed in Trump’s insurrection were buried.

But all of this we already knew. McCarthy’s late-night victory felt like a slap in the face, even though it was based on humiliating groveling before the bottom feeders in Congress and a betrayal of the American people. After fifteen rounds of votes, McCarthy should have slithered out of the House. Instead, he acted like a conquering hero as GOP members chanted “USA, USA!” only moments after saying he could not be trusted to be Speaker. That moment of celebration by a grotesque caricature of a corrupt politician harkens back to the accidental election of singularly unfit Donald Trump to be president.

For some, McCarthy’s election was a replay of election night 2016. One reader (CC), wrote the following in the Comments section:

“Now many of us have PTSD from the first act of Kevin’s Circus, The Clown Show, that just ended in the House of Representatives. It is reminiscent of The Trump Show. But we’ve been through this situation before, and we know how to handle it. We need to stop inundating our nervous systems by listening to constant reporting about the same problems from different sources every day.

I’m not minimizing what we are facing. We’re all sick of having to fight the ugly underbelly of our country. But we don’t need to tackle the next few years all at once. And we really have no idea what tremendous things we will be able to achieve to counter this current set of dangers. We need to take it one day at a time.

We also need to protect our nervous systems from the overwhelming barrage of dung that will be flung from the monkeys in Kevin’s Circus. They will lie constantly. They always do. Expect it.

We fought back against them once. I would have felt a lot better during the four years of the “Trump administration” if I’d known how successfully Americans would fight back against these unimaginable horrors to “right the ship of state.” We have no guarantee, but we need to believe we can do it again instead of sinking into despair, which is easy to do.”

I agree with CC on all counts. We have every reason to be concerned about what McCarthy and the GOP will attempt to do over the next two years—but we are in a position of strength and should act accordingly. (More on that in a moment.) Even so, I acknowledge that it is almost as painful to watch McCarthy thumping his chest after a historic humiliation as it is to listen to Trump bloviate and lie with apparent immunity from Mar-a-Lago.

I am confident we will contain, outmaneuver, and defeat McCarthy over the next two years. But we can’t control the toxic mixture of gratuitous meanness, pomposity, and ignorance that passes for “politics” in the GOP. In the last forty-eight hours, McCarthy has failed to condemn any of the following: (a) George Santos’s use of a “white supremacist” hand gesture from the House floor, (b) a crude and offensive tweet by a freshman GOP member from Florida who tried to connect the Speaker’s gavel to the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, (c) Trump’s claim over the weekend that Ashli Babbitt is a “true patriot”, and (d) the attack on the Brazilian Senate and presidential palace by supporters of defeated former President Bolsonaro.

As reader CC said, we must “expect it” from McCarthy and his gang, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. Indeed, our task as members of the loyal opposition is to make McCarthy et al. own every debased, depraved, selfish, corrupt, and ignorant statement made by the reprobates to whom McCarthy has surrendered his manhood. And they are about to start an endless stream of such statements without a moment of reflection on the fact that Americans rejected MAGA extremism in 2022.

With all of that as background, let’s take a moment to put Friday’s events in perspective.

They have McCarthy. We have Jeffries. We win—every time.

The Speaker’s election defined two men: Kevin McCarthy and Hakeem Jeffries. McCarthy is exposed as weak, corrupt, and desperate. He was humiliated on the House floor, begging for votes from Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert. It simply doesn’t get more pathetic than that. Conversely, the Democratic caucus unanimously supported Hakeem Jeffries through fifteen rounds of votes. And then the two men spoke—and the differences could not be more pronounced. McCarthy read his speech like the uncomfortable politician whose skill is in the back room, not the podium. Hakeem Jeffries gave an inspiring, lyrical, passionate speech that worth is watching in its entirety: Watch House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ historic first speech (Start at 4:15 mark).

When it comes time to communicate competing visions of our future to anxious Americans, Hakeem Jeffries will win every time. We should feel great about that fact.


Hubbell continues to talk about the promised/threatened ‘investigations’ and the debt ceiling threat, but the entire newsletter is too long for this post, so I hope that you’ll take a couple of minutes to pop over there and read the rest!