A Young Man And An Old Geezer Meet Up

As you all know by now, I’m a big fan of former Secretary of Labour, Robert Reich.  He’s intelligent, well-spoken, experienced, and also has a sense of humour.  Recently, he interviewed Tennessee state Representative Justin Jones, who you may remember was one of two Black legislators temporarily expelled from the Tennessee House last month.  This is Reich’s take on the interview, and there is a short (6 minutes) YouTube video at the end that I really hope you’ll watch, for it is well worth the time spent and I found it gave me a sense of who Justin Jones is and his determination to bring about positive changes.  I believe this young man is going places, and he gave me a glimmer of hope for the future.

Meeting Justin Jones

Passing the baton

Robert Reich

16 May 2023

On Sunday I experienced the perfect antidote to the resurgent Trump and Trumpism. I met with Tennessee Representative Justin Jones right after he gave an inspiring talk to our graduating UC Berkeley public policy students.

As you may recall, Jones and another young Black Tennessee legislator, Justin Pearson, were expelled last month from the state’s General Assembly for protesting Tennessee’s failure to enact stronger gun controls after a shooting at a Christian school in Nashville took the lives of three nine-year-olds and three adults.

Now, he and Pearson are back. And their expulsion has caused a groundswell of support for them and the causes they’re fighting for, in Tennessee and elsewhere around America.

A half century separates us. He’s 27, at the start of his career. I’m about to be 77, nearing the end of mine.

He’s a young Black man. I’m an old white guy.

We grew up in radically different times.

But I came away from our discussion profoundly optimistic about the future of this country. In talking with him I felt as if I were passing a generational baton to someone who will be fighting the good fight for the next half century — a new generation that will be more successful than mine in achieving social and economic justice, that will lead the nation toward a strong multiracial, multiethnic democracy.

He and Pearson, who took office in November and January, respectively, are community organizers and social justice advocates. Jones has described himself as an activist.

“I think our presence as young Black voices for our constituencies, people who will not bow down, those who will not be conformed, that’s what put a target on us the day we walked in the Tennessee General Assembly. … I mean, this is the first time in Tennessee history we had a completely partisan expulsion by predominantly white caucus — all but one member of their caucus is white out of 75 members — and we are the two youngest Black lawmakers in Tennessee. … And so what we saw was a system of political hubris. This was not just an attack on us, it was an attempt to silence our districts.”

He believes the biggest challenge his generation faces is the growing assault on democracy.

“The Tennessee House Republicans’ attempt to crucify democracy has instead resurrected a movement led by young people to restore democracy, to build a multi-racial coalition … . The message is that we will continue to resist, that this is not the end. Their decision to expel us is not the ultimate authority, but the people will hold them accountable.”

Jones is optimistic.

“We have an old saying in Tennessee that a mule kicks hardest when it’s dying. They’re fighting us so hard because they realize their power and their systems are dying.”

I was also impressed by his candor about the psychological toll the fight was taking on him and others. “Your generation went through the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement,” he told me backstage,

“but you didn’t talk about what those fights demanded of you, how the hate they aroused hurt you. Some of you burned out. My generation is different. We recognize the pain, and we find solace in communities that are engaged with us. The opposite of oppression is community. We know the fight will be long. We can’t burn out.”


George Santos — The Face Of Today’s GOP?

Yesterday, I noted in a brief snippet that serial liar George Santos had been arrested on 13 counts of financial crimes such as wire fraud and money-laundering.  George Santos seems to have studied at the Trump School of Cons & Liars, doesn’t he?  Today, I share with you Joyce Vance’s deeper dive into the charges, causes, and potential penalties for these crimes.  Ms. Vance is an attorney and a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Law, teaching in the areas of criminal justice reform, criminal procedure, and civil rights, so she knows of what she speaks. Kevin McCarthy, desperate to keep his very narrow majority in the House of Representatives, is refusing to demand Santos’ resignation, and Santos is claiming he will remain in his seat in the House.  Governance???  HAH!   More like a clown show!

The Tragicomedy of George Santos and the GOP

Also, understanding the crimes Santos is charged with

Joyce Vance

10 May 2023

What is the worst fate that could befall a political party? Leaving Donald Trump (sexual assaulter, twice-impeached, insurrectionist, former president who badly lost his effort to hold onto the office and is still denying it on national television, thanks to CNN and their misguided “town hall” Wednesday night) for the moment, it’s George Santos, also a serial liar. Instead of offloading him at the first possible moment, when news of who he really is came to light, Republicans held onto him. They supported him. They wanted his vote in Congress so badly that they revealed to us who they’ve become through their embrace of him. Of course, most of us already knew. We’ve understood the truth about what the Grand Old Party has become for some time.

What could be more plain than the tragedy for a political party of having a George, or is it Devolder, in your ranks? The tragedy of the post-Trump Republican Party is summed up, very tidily, in the person of George Santos.

He lied about his mother’s death and tried to claim the mantle of sympathy for victims of 9/11. He claimed to be Jewish and, then, Jew-ish. There’s nothing George Santos won’t stoop to. Today we learned what DOJ believes it can prove to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ahead of Santos’s first appearance in court this morning, DOJ unsealed a 13-count indictment charging him with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. Read the full indictment here. And the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, which further explains the charges they brought along with DOJ’s Criminal Division, here.

Santos has almost inevitably pleaded guilty to try to limit his time in custody. While some of the charges will place him in a sentencing guideline range where at least some time in prison is required, he could plead, for instance to the false statements charges, where that might not be the case. However, his prior criminal history is murky and he may end up in a category where no matter what, he has to spend at least some period of time in custody. Here’s hoping.

Prosecutors have also requested the seizure of assets Santos obtained as a result of his crimes. If they can’t be located, substitute assets in their value can be seized.

Let’s take a first look at what these charges require the government to prove.

Wire fraud: The elements of wire fraud are (1) that the defendant voluntarily and intentionally devised or participated in a scheme to defraud someone out of money; (2) that the defendant had the intent to defraud; (3) that the defendant knew or should have foreseen that interstate wire communications would be used; and (4) that interstate wire communications were in fact used. What differentiates wire fraud from other federal fraud crimes like mail fraud or bank fraud is proof that the defendant made an interstate phone call or electronic communication to execute the scheme. In other words, sending a potential donor an email.

The maximum statutory sentence for wire fraud is 20 years, or 30 years if “the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency.” There was speculation before we saw the indictment that the 30-year penalty could come into play because of Covid. Although counts 1 through 5 of the indictment charge wire fraud, they are in connection with illegal campaign contributions Santos sought. But counts 10 and 11 involved his fraudulent application for and receipt of Covid-related unemployment benefits and they could well trigger the longer provision.

Money laundering: 18 U.S.C. § 1957 is a companion to § 1956, the primary federal money laundering statute. Section 1957 prohibits depositing or spending more than $10,000 of the proceeds from a “predicate offense.” The statutory maximum penalty is 10 years in custody. Santos is charged in connection with transfers of money obtained through illegal campaign contributions to accounts he accessed for personal use.

There, the government has to prove five elements to establish this crime: (1) the defendant knowingly engaged or attempted to engage in a monetary transaction; (2) the defendant knew that the transaction involved criminally derived property (they don’t have to know exactly what the crime was, though); (3) the criminally derived property must have a value that exceeds $10,000; (4) the criminally derived property has to been obtained through the commission of an unlawful activity specified in the money-laundering provisions; and the monetary transaction must have taken place, for purposes of this case, in the United States.

Theft of government property: Title 18 U.S.C. § 641 provides that whoever “steals” any “thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof” shall be fined and imprisoned no more than 10 years so long as the value of the stolen property is over $1,000. If it’s less than that, the crime becomes a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison. The charge here relates to the unemployment benefits Santos obtained by lying about his employment status during Covid, and assuming the government can prove its contention that he obtained over $1,000 he wasn’t entitled to, this is another felony charge.

The government will have to prove Santos stole government property—benefits like this typically qualify under this provision—with the intent to keep them permanently. 

False statements: Republicans may not be intent on holding Santos responsible for the false statements he made on his disclosure forms, but DOJ wants a word here, charging Santos with false statements on both his 2020 and 2022 disclosure forms.

Section 1001’s statutory terms are violated if a defendant knowingly makes false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations about a material matter to an agency or department of the United States. The maximum penalty is five years in custody.

“Materiality” is a hot issue in 1001 cases. To be criminal, the statement has to have been capable of influencing the outcome of the endeavor the false statement was submitted in support of. An easy way to understand this is to think about a passport application. If you submit one using a false name and statement about being a citizen, those false statements would be material to the State Department’s decision as to whether to grant a passport. That explains why the test for materiality isn’t whether the false statement actually influenced a government function but whether it had the capacity to influence. The government alleges Santos made false statements about his earnings that were submitted to the House Ethics Committee. It’s not difficult to envision some question about whether Santos’s false statements in this regard are material given that Committee’s seeming inertia.

That’s a quick layout of the legal elements the government will have to prove to convict on each of these charges. More likely, they will be reciting those elements and the evidence they have to support them for whichever charges are selected for Santos to plead to.

Santos is a garden-variety con man. It’s likely no one was more surprised than Santos himself when he won the election. He was campaigning for the grift. He would have kept his ill-gotten gains if he’d lost. His unemployment benefits fraud likely would not have come to light. It was his electoral success that set the events that led to his prosecution in motion. Had Santos lost, it’s unlikely any of this would have ever come to light. But Republicans’ unvetted support for him—Elise Stefanik, the Harvard-educated lawyer in the Republican leadership, was a key fundraiser—and insistence that he remain in office has brought about this result. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has declined to demand his resignation. You are what you tolerate. Whether it’s George Santos or Donald Trump, who took center stage on CNN tonight to repeat his lies and spew his hate, we can know the Republican Party by the company it keeps.

Trump’s performance tonight, and the laughing audience that seemingly enjoyed his denigration of the criminal justice system and of democracy itself, frighten me. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, something I say a lot but that is nonetheless true if we’re going to hold onto this democracy.

We’re in this together

Have ‘We The People’ No Shame?

Paul Gosar has been a member of the United States House of Representatives from Arizona since 2011.  He flew under my radar for a long time, until about 3 years ago when he entered the far-right QAnon circle led by Georgia Representative, Marge Greene.  Since then, I’ve come to see him as a really nasty piece of work.  He has claimed that the 2nd Amendment is one of the most important rights listed in the Bill of Rights.  He seems to be against ALL immigration and has no use for the Dreamers, people brought to this nation as children.  He has referred to Native Americans as “wards of the federal government.”  He has ties to far-right groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys who were involved in the attempted coup of January 6th, 2021, as well as Nazi-lover Nick Fuentes.  His degree is in dentistry, which surely qualifies him for a seat in Congress about as much as Greene’s time spent running a gym qualifies her, or Lauren Boebert’s time spent running a bar qualifies her.

But today, his nastiness topped the charts … broke through the worst of the worst.

Like most other members of Congress, he sends out a weekly newsletter to his constituents.  In his April 16th newsletter he included a link to an article in the February 26th issue of Veterans Today by senior editor Jonas E. Alexis that has the headline “Congressman: Jewish warmongers Nuland & Blinken ‘Are Dangerous Fools Who Can Get Us All Killed.’”  That “Congressman” is none other than Gosar himself.  For those who may not be aware, as I was not, Veterans Today is an antisemitic website that has called the Holocaust a “lie” and a “hoax” and praised Hitler as a “great man” and “a man of valor.”  That it is the publication Gosar chooses to voice his opinions is telling in and of itself.

My question is this:  WHY do we tolerate such behaviour and associations by a government official, an elected official who is paid from the public’s hard-earned tax dollars!  If Mr. Gosar (and others) wishes his racism, his bigotry to be on full display, then he must step down from his seat in Congress and WE THE PEOPLE must demand it!

In the 2022 election, Gosar won his bid for re-election with 97.8% of the vote — 192,796 votes!  Does this speak volumes about the state of the nation, or at least the state of the state of Arizona?  If 97.8% of the people in his district in Arizona support a man who is an unapologetic bigot, who supports an organization that praises Adolf Hitler and genocide, then does that paint a picture of who this nation, or at least the people of Arizona, are?

I grew up thinking that I was lucky to have been born in the United States, that it was one of the best countries I could have been born into.  When I look around today, when I see the likes of Paul Gosar, Marge Greene, Kevin McCarthy, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Josh Hawley and so many more who are supposedly representing We the People, I realize that I have lost my trust in this nation, in its government yes, but also in the people, for it was the people who put these bloody fools in office.  Have We the People no shame?

An OUTRAGE In Tennessee

The PEOPLE of Tennessee elected these three state representatives [Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson] to represent them.

But now, the state legislature has decided to override the will of the people and they have expelled two of the three.  They have decided that people who have an opinion, who are sick and damn tired of seeing innocent children shot and killed with military weapons in the hands of mentally ill civilians, are not entitled to their opinion, that they must not, in fact, have an opinion.  At least where the sacred guns are concerned.

The three legislators took part in a protest against gun violence that was in response to the latest school shooting in Nashville last week.  Apparently, they broke the rules of the Tennessee legislature by standing on the House floor and using a bullhorn to lead protesters in chanting demands for stricter gun laws.  They did not incite violence, there were no riots, it was simply people expressing their anguish and rage over the ongoing slaughter of people in this nation … a slaughter that could be reduced if only legislators at both the state and federal level found their cojones as these three people did to stand for doing the right thing.

In 2020, guns became the leading cause of death for children and in 2021 alone, 3,597 children were killed by guns.  And yet, it is a crime to want to legislate stricter gun laws, to try to save the lives of not only children, but everyone???  In my book, the Republican-majority Tennessee legislature, in taking such drastic action against its own members for their stance on guns, is telling the world that they have decided guns are more important than children.  No damn wonder they are so dead set against abortion – gotta keep making more babies so the gun nuts will have somebody to shoot!  Yes, that statement is crass and unfair, but this IS a rant and I AM angry!

There are three issues here:

  • The PEOPLE of the state of Tennessee elected these three legislators and now the people’s voice has been silenced in removing two of them.
  • Even legislators have the right to express their opinion on issues. In fact, that is part of what we elect them to do.  The people of Tennessee are tired of the lax gun laws, or lack of gun laws that are causing their children to die and these three representatives were representing the will of the people.
  • Only the two Black men who were part of the protest were expelled – the white woman was not.

When Ms. Johnson was asked why she thought she was spared after Jones and Pearson were ousted. she responded: “It might have to do with the color of our skin.”  Gee … ya think?

Do you blame the people of Tennessee for being angry over guns?  Just last week, six people, three of them children, were murdered by a person with an AR-15, and ON THE SAME DAY, a federal judge cleared the way for the Tennessee legislature to lower the age for ‘permitless carry’ in the state from 21 to 18. Republican governor Bill Lee signed the ‘permitless carry’ bill for 21 and up in 2021 at a Beretta gun manufacturing plant.

The expulsion of the two Black representatives yesterday is blatant racism, but also the opposite of democracy.  I hesitate to use the word ‘fascism,’ for that word is bandied about far too often these days, but when one group, in this case the Republicans, can override the will of the majority of the people, then it damn sure cannot be called ‘democracy’ either.

This will play out in the courts, possibly working its way all the way up to the Supreme Court, and I’m not making any bets as to the ultimate outcome.  The people of Tennessee should be enraged at this point, for they have been told to sit down and shut up, they have been told that their children have no value and that their voices will be silenced.  Is this, then, the future of this nation?

One Man’s Courage

Ever since I first heard of John Fetterman, when he was running for the seat he currently holds in the U.S. Senate, I’ve admired the man.  He has courage, intellect, and humanity – things his opponent in that race lacked.  Senator Fetterman has been through a lot, and today Dan Rather’s piece gives him the respect he has earned, as well as reminding us that mental health issues deserve to be treated with empathy and compassion, not as a stigma.

A Different Politician’s Story

A plea for healing

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

04 April 2023

Today the news offers wall-to-wall coverage of a politician — a former president — who is duplicitous, divisive, and vainglorious. 

He is a weak man incapable of admitting to any personal fault or struggle. He is quick to blame others for any impediment he faces. He excuses his own failings. He demonizes his political opponents and weaponizes their “othering.”

These character flaws may have finally caught up with him in a court of law. We shall see. If you want more coverage of these developments, you can find them elsewhere today. In truth, almost everywhere else. 

But here at Steady we want to offer a counternarrative. We also have a story about a politician, but it’s not about sordid allegations or court proceedings. It’s not even about policy or politics, per se. 

It’s about health, humanity, and healing. And it’s about that fickle but essential aspiration: hope. 

On April 1, U.S. Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania was discharged from Walter Reed hospital after a six-week stay to treat depression. Fetterman apparently has struggled with the disease for years, but it became worse in the wake of a stroke that nearly derailed his 2022 campaign. He now says his depression is in remission.

During the last election season, concerns about Fetterman’s physical health were widespread as he publicly navigated the difficult rehabilitation of a stroke victim. His Republican opponent, the TV doctor Mehmet Oz, made questions about Fetterman’s health a major line of attack (something we wrote about in a Steady column, “Fitness to Serve”).

At the time, we wondered about the very definition of fitness:

“Perhaps this idea of how we measure fitness is too limited. Are people who deny the results of the 2020 election fit for elective office? What about politicians who embrace lies, stoke division, and foment violence? Many doctors and scientists have warned that Oz, Fetterman’s opponent, has spread dangerous medical misinformation. How should that be factored into assessing fitness?”

And we noted that covering questions of fitness was of special concern for the press: 

“Judging medical fitness is legitimate, but are we providing the audience a nuanced understanding, or are we playing into stereotypes?”

In the end, the voters of Pennsylvania chose Fetterman by nearly 5 points. It was considered a tremendous victory and framed as a personal triumph for a candidate beset by such obvious physical ailments. 

We now know that it didn’t feel like a triumph for Fetterman, who was privately struggling with a second serious disease. 

This Sunday, Fetterman told the story of his depression to Jane Pauley on the CBS News program “Sunday Morning.” It is an emotional journey, and we share the piece here:

(Note: In the past some Steady readers outside of the United States had trouble accessing a “Sunday Morning” piece. We apologize if that’s the case once again. Please let us know.)

It has been heartening to see that the coverage of Fetterman’s treatment for depression has been different from the reaction to his stroke. By and large, he has received bipartisan well wishes and the support of his constituents. 

This is why Fetterman’s story is even bigger than the very big senator (he stands 6′8″) from the Keystone State. 

Millions of Americans suffer from depression. It can destroy lives and lead to suicide. Now there are indications that the pandemic has exacerbated mental illness across the country, including depression. This trend is especially acute in children. 

Historically, depression has also carried much stigma. And shame. And misunderstanding. This adds to the damage it can inflict in the shadows. 

If we are going to make headway, we need to face depression and other mental illnesses with honesty and empathy. It is a major service when someone of Fetterman’s stature courageously shares their story. Those who suffer similarly can feel seen and may be encouraged to seek help. The millions more who know a friend or loved one afflicted with this horrible illness can feel part of a broader community of support. 

Part of what makes depression so frustrating is that it seems to make no sense. Someone like Fetterman, who seemed to have it all — a loving family and a major professional success — can feel lost even at a moment when he should feel exhilarated. He checked himself into the hospital on his son’s birthday.

Regardless of what one may think of Fetterman’s politics, we should all wish him continued recovery for both his mental and physical ailments. It is a benefit to our nation to have people with his experiences in our government. There is a notion that politicians are supposed to be poised almost to the point of perfection. But we know they are human and subject to the same vices, biases, and illnesses as the rest of us. 

We need for our leaders to understand the struggles of their fellow citizens, and there are few better foundations for this kind of understanding than shared lived experiences. This is especially important when it comes to mental health. It’s okay for people to not be okay. And we can all work for a government more responsive to the needs of its people. 

Fetterman is set to return to the Senate on April 17. He will find Republican colleagues who also have made mental health a major priority. Hopefully we can continue to see a bipartisan path to progress. And health. And hope. 

We need Trump – Really?

Keith ponders the many, many reasons that the former guy should NEVER be given the keys to that big White House on Pennsylvania Avenue again. After 4 years in office, and another two spent attempting to subvert and destroy this nation, some people still believe he is a viable candidate for the job. I’m with Keith here … he is the WORST possible candidate! Thank you, Keith … your words need to be heard far and wide!


I saw a MAGA fan of the former president holding up a sign that said “We need Trump.” My response is “really?” A person voted by over 150 presidential historians as in the bottom five as one of the worst presidents ever? I am sure this poll of historians does not make many far right’ news blips.

The rationale for such a low rating, per one of the historians who so voted, is on top of his policy decisions and making America’s standing in the world fall, his poor handling of the COVID pandemic and his role in the seditious insurrection against a branch of government pull him down. It is not a surprise that his sycophants are trying to re-write history on these two issues.

But, these two issues do not stand alone. Here are a few other things to chew on:

  • His one focus his first year was…

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“Verdant canopy of lies” – resume inflation is growing

Lies, lies, and still more lies. There is a very real danger in the recent spate of lies by our elected officials, the very people to whom we entrust our lives. When we become inured to all the lies, when we come to EXPECT politicians to lie about anything and everything including who or what they are, then we no longer vote based on qualifications, but rather on personality. That, my friends, is dangerous, as we saw so clearly in the 2016 election. Keith’s post today highlights a few of the many lies that have been told by politicos recently and addresses the issue of trust. Thank you, Keith, for this timely post.


Jack Shafer of Politico wrote the following opinion piece earlier this week that should concern each of us called “Opinion | The George Santos Caucus Is Growing – Resume inflation on Capitol Hill is getting out of hand.” Here is the first few paragraphs, with a link to the article below.

“The verdant canopy of lies tended by Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) requires no summary here. They’re so thick and leafy that they now block the sun from the forest floor. But he’s not the only freshman member who struggles when self-reporting. According to a recent Washington Post investigation, Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) can’t keep her ethnicity straight, claims to have grown up destitute and neglected when she didn’t, and appears to have incorrectly portrayed herself as the victim of a home invasion. (Luna has contested the Post story and won one correction and a clarification.) Meanwhile, Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) has…

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McCarthy’s QAnon Committee

It took the Republicans a few days to figure out how to manipulate Kevin McCarthy and get what they wanted in exchange for giving him the position he has aspired to for years, perhaps decades, but now they’re all saddled up and rarin’ to go!  We knew they planned committees to perform pointless and laughable “investigations” that will amount to naught but a waste of time and money at the end of the day, and they are off to a great start on that.  Washington Post writer Dana Milbank tells us about how closely the Republican Weaponization Committee resembles a QAnon convention in his latest piece.  It is a bit long, but I felt it was all important to give us a clear picture of what we are paying these people to do … or rather, not to do.

Yes, weaponization committee. We are all out to get you.

By Dana Milbank

10 February 2023

One thing is clear after Thursday’s first hearing of the new “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government”: The weaponization panel’s weapon of choice will be the blunderbuss.

I don’t want to be conspiratorial about it, but House Republicans somehow turned Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Judiciary Committee hearing room, into the main ballroom of a QAnon convention. The witnesses — including world-class conspiracy purveyors Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Ivermectin) and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (I-Ukraine bioweapons labs) — might as well have been auditioning to guest-host “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

It is possible that, by random chance, one of the witnesses may have said something that is factually true, but any pellet of accuracy was lost amid all the errant slugs that ricocheted crazily out of their muzzles.

They revisited the “Russian collusion hoax” perpetrated by the “fake dossier,” Fusion GPS, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. They conjured an “engineered” Trump impeachment and a “coordinated effort” to “sabotage any public revelation of Hunter Biden’s laptop.” They alleged maltreatment of Jan. 6 insurrectionists and suggested that embedded federal agents provoked the crowd to attack the Capitol. They went back a decade to revive the debunked charge that a politically motivated Obama administration sicced the IRS on tea party groups.

They imagined that the U.S. government funded the creation of the coronavirus, that the World Health Organization has been “captured by the Chinese government,” and that doctors have been wrongly “vilified” for treating the virus with hydroxychloroquine and other bogus treatments. They fantasized about a government coverup of harms caused by coronavirus vaccines. They imagined that ordinary people are being labeled “domestic terrorists” for asking questions at school board meetings or for flying the Betsy Ross flag.

Above all, the witnesses testified to their own victimhood. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) recited a long list of Democratic colleagues who are out to get him as part of a “triad” that also involves partisan journalists and the FBI. Gabbard, who left the Democratic Party for Fox News after a failed presidential campaign, expressed her outrage that Hillary Clinton said mean things about her and that Mitt Romney made “baseless accusations of treason.” (Apparently, the senator from Utah and 2012 Republican presidential nominee is part of the vast left-wing conspiracy.)

“RonAnon” Johnson testified about a conspiracy so huge it includes “most members of the mainstream media, Big Tech, social media giants, global institutions and foundations, Democrat Party operatives and elected officials,” all working “in concert” with “corrupt individuals within federal agencies” to “defeat their political opponents and promote left-wing ideology and government control over our lives.”

You’ve caught us red-handed, senator! In fact, the weaponization committee needs only one more thing to complete its work: a scintilla of evidence.

White nationalists get a seat on the dais

Rep. Paul Gosar just won’t stop saluting those white nationalists.

The Arizona Republican has dined with them, traveled with them, spoken at their conferences, defended them on social media and promoted their racist themes. He lost his committee assignments in 2021 when he posted a cartoon video of himself killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a Latina.

But House Republican leaders, in their wisdom, restored Gosar’s committee status, giving him a seat on the House Oversight Committee. And Gosar this week repaid their confidence in him — by using one of the very first hearings of the committee to promote white nationalism.

At a hearing Tuesday on border security, Gosar declared that President Biden has “a plan … to deliberately open our borders and cede power to the cartels,” and thereby create chaos. “What is the answer to this mess for Biden and the Democrats?” he asked. “More big brother? More control? Even changing our culture?”

That is the very definition of the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory: that the left is deliberately importing immigrants to replace White people and White culture.

As it happens, Democrats on the committee anticipated this. At the hearing’s start, they tweeted a warning about Republican lawmakers “who are using today’s hearing to amplify white nationalist conspiracy theories.” The tweet linked to previous expressions of great replacement sentiments by panel Republicans, including Chairman James Comer of Kentucky (who said Democrats encourage illegal immigration as “part of their social equality campaign to fundamentally change America”) and Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania (who claimed “we’re replacing … native-born Americans to permanently transform the landscape of this very nation”).

Republicans saw red after the Democrats’ mention of white nationalism — “offensive” and “inflammatory” was the view of Rep. Glenn Grothman (Wis.) — but then proceeded to validate the accusation.

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) both decried the migrant “invasion” of the country.

Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) informed the committee who the “million gotaways” — migrants who avoided capture the past two years — are: “stout young men … wearing camouflage, rolling hard … they’re carrying backpacks, they work for the drug cartels.”

And Republican after Republican claimed the Biden administration has conspired to endanger Americans with an “open border” policy.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials testifying at the hearing played it straight. Yes, they are overwhelmed by the number of migrants, and they need more agents. No, a border wall isn’t a panacea.

Perry repeatedly demanded to know “what changed” since the Trump administration ended to cause such a flood of migration. He was clearly fishing for the officials to blame Biden.

But John Modlin, chief of the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, testified that the real cause was disinformation. Apprehended migrants, he said, primarily tell border agents that they heard the border “was open.” Said Modlin: “All it takes is a few people to say the right words.”

Now where would migrants get the false impression that the United States has an open border? Hmm.

McCarthy blames Biden for House Republicans’ State of the Union hooliganism

Fourteen years ago, I was in the House chamber when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shocked the world by shouting two words at President Barack Obama during an address to Congress: “You lie!” In the outcry that followed, House Republican leaders demanded Wilson apologize, which he did, calling the White House and issuing a public statement offering “sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility.”

In retrospect, the episode looks almost quaint. Wilson might as well have been operating under Emily Post’s rules of etiquette compared with the boorishness of his Republican colleagues at Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) reportedly asked Biden in advance not to use the phrase “extreme MAGA Republicans,” and Biden honored the request. The president’s goodwill didn’t end there. He opened by congratulating McCarthy and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). He used the word “together” 20 times in the speech, hailing bipartisan achievements, offering to resolve the debt-ceiling standoff (“let’s sit down together and discuss our mutual plans together”) and closing with a rallying cry: “We’re the United States of America, and there’s nothing — nothing — beyond our capacity if we do it together.”

Republicans answered him with hooliganism and obscenity. Greene shouted “Liar!” at the president — not once, as Wilson had done, but over and over. As Biden talked about solving the debt standoff together, a woman in Greene’s vicinity (Politico identified her as Greene) shouted “bulls—!” at Biden. Some closer to the front — GOP Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) among them — whipped their heads around in surprise.

House Republicans by the dozens groaned, booed, laughed, jeered, waved their hands dismissively at the president and pointed their thumbs down — ignoring an attempt by McCarthy, seated behind Biden, to shush them. Several shouted “secure the border!” One shouted at Biden that fentanyl deaths are “your fault.” Rep. Ronny Jackson (Tex.) noisily chewed gum, Rep. Byron Donalds (Fla.) interrupted Biden with a series of taunts (“don’t say it!”), Boebert shook her head in disgust, others shared laughs about messages on their phone screens, and, in the middle of the mayhem, GOP leaders Steve Scalise, Tom Emmer and Elise Stefanik sat stone-faced.

Decorum has broken down before during presidential addresses. Justice Samuel Alito shook his head and said “not true” during an Obama speech. Democrats groaned and booed during a Trump speech, and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ripped up her text after Trump finished. Trump called Democrats “treasonous” for failing to applaud him sufficiently.

If holding applause is treason, one can only imagine what capital offenses Republicans committed Tuesday night. And the shouting didn’t end on the House floor.

In Statuary Hall after the speech, I caught up with Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Tex.), who had been sitting next to Greene:

“He lied about the economy! He lied about the deficit! He lied about us cutting Medicare and Social Security. … He lied about the labor shortage! … He lied about burger joints! … He lied about policing. … He lied about Mr. Pelosi.”

“So overall, you liked it?” I asked Fallon.

“I loved the ending, because it was over,” Fallon replied, soon resuming his catalogue: “He said a couple of things like we’re going to work together. He’s lying there, too!”

Fallon shared with me and Joseph Morton of the Dallas Morning News three pages of scribbled notes he took during the address. Among his observations: Biden is a “SNAKE OIL SALESMAN” (and, of course, a “LIAR”) who “MUMBLES” (Fallon thought this evidence of a “health issue”), engages in “climate alarmism” and “CLASS WARFARE” and is apparently a “a communist — accuse him of central control.”

Even some Republicans thought Biden deserved a more “respectful” audience for his “cordial” speech, as Rep. Ryan Zinke (Mont.) told us. But it requires leadership to keep the hooligans in line — and House Republicans don’t have that. McCarthy went on Fox News on Wednesday and blamed the Republicans’ outbursts on Biden. “Well, the president was trying to goad the members, and the members are passionate about it,” the speaker said.

This is how McCarthy repays Biden’s goodwill? It’s going to be a long couple of years.

Probe of Hunter Biden’s laptop already needs a reboot

Rep. James Comer is rapidly establishing himself as the Chief Inspector Dreyfus of the 118th Congress.

First, the newly installed chairman of the House Oversight Committee said he would investigate Biden’s mishandling of classified documents from his time as vice president, but not President Donald Trump’s mishandling of classified documents. Why? “The president has the authority to declassify documents,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Jan. 15. “The vice president does not.”

That rationale blew up a few days later, when it emerged that former vice president Mike Pence also mishandled classified documents. So Comer approached reporters in the Capitol basement on Jan. 31 in an attempt to establish a new justification for probing Biden but not Trump. But Comer succeeded only in confusing himself. “We’re very concerned about who had access to Pence’s documents,” he said — then stopped. “I said Pence. I’m sorry. Let me start all over. We’re very concerned about who had access to Biden’s documents.” Moments later, he added: “I want to be very clear, I was talking about Biden.”

Comer tried again this week, returning to CNN for an interview with Kaitlan Collins on Tuesday. This time, he said he wasn’t looking into Trump’s documents because “there’s a special counsel looking into everything at Mar-a-Lago.”

Collins pointed out that “there’s a special counsel looking into Biden as well.”

Comer, trapped, grasped for a lifeline. “Pardon me for not having as much confidence in this special counsel appointed by [Attorney General] Merrick Garland on Joe Biden.”

Collins checked him again: “But he appointed the special counsel into Trump as well.”

“I’m against both special counsels!” blurted out Comer, contradicting his latest rationale, expressed mere seconds earlier, for probing Biden but not Trump.

Comer is not bound by reason — even his own. Last week, he speculated on Fox News that the Chinese spy balloon might contain bioweapons from Wuhan — speculation he later admitted was based on “no evidence.” Yet he seems sensitive to the impression that he sounds nutty. He recently protested that “I’m sincere about trying to do the right thing.” His evidence: He didn’t vote to overthrow the 2020 election.

Baby steps, Mr. Chairman.

This week, after giving white nationalism a platform, he led his committee the following day into a doomed attempt to prove that the FBI and the Biden campaign colluded with Twitter “to suppress and delegitimize information contained in Hunter Biden’s laptop about the Biden family’s business schemes.” That’s how Comer put it as he sat in front of a blown-up New York Post front page screaming “BIDEN SECRET EMAILS.”

The hearing extended for six hours — including an hour-long break in the middle when the power went out in the hearing room. In the darkness, somebody on the panel (it sounded like Clay Higgins) said: “Now did Twitter do that?”

The conspiracies never end!

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!


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?