Category Archives: Congress

The Strzok Hearing: Shitshow Or Kangaroo Court?

The post title is a rhetorical question: that fakakta hearing was both. It was inevitable in the Trump era that a joint hearing of two Congressional committees would be a shitshow.

I only watched a few hours of the Strzok hearing. In addition to having other shit to do, I found the posturing and Kangaroo Court antics of Congressional GOPers to be tiresome in the extreme. Perhaps that’s because they’re extremists as well as extremely stupid. I’m old enough to remember when *some* Congressional right-wingers were intelligent. The door slammed on that era in 2010 with the teabagger wave election.

As to the witness, he’s a badass with an awesome first name. Peter Strzok held up under withering fire and never called Louis Gohmert Piles and Jim Jordan stupid or Trey Gowdy a weasel. It must have been hard: Strzok is so much smarter than the Kangaroo Court critters who were grilling him. To use a grilled cheese analogy, he did Gouda…

Republicans tried to flip the old adage “actions speak louder than words” on its head. As far as they were concerned, Strzok’s texted words were more important than the fact that he never acted on them. The hearing could have been shut down after the witness pointed out that all he had to do to torpedo the Trump campaign would have been to leak word of the investigation. Instead it went on for 11+ hours of madness.

I learned this week that Peter Strzok was the counter-intelligence agent who cracked the case that inspired The Americans. I saw some members of the twitterazzi compare Strzok to Stan (The Man) Beeman when in fact (fiction?) Strzok is comparable to his first boss, Frank Gaad who was played by Richard Thomas. Good night, John Boy.

The Strzok shitshow won’t change any minds. It was a performance piece staged by House Republicans to support the Kaiser of Chaos by blowing enough smoke to cover the Capitol Dome. You cannot shame the shameless.

Let’s circle back to the post title.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Kangaroo Court as:

  1.  a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted
  2.  a court characterized by irresponsible, unauthorized, or irregular status or procedures

I first heard of Kangaroo Courts when I was a kid. It’s customary for baseball teams to hold them to boost morale and esprit de corps. The judge is usually a veteran player, the best player on the team, or the funniest guy in the locker room. Holy locker room talk, Batman.

Two of the greatest players of the Sixties, Bob Gibson and Frank Robinson, were the judges for the Cardinals and Orioles respectively. That was a long-winded way of posting a picture of Judge Robinson and teammate Davey Johnson both of whom were later managers:

Obligatory San Francisco Giants reference. Frank Robinson was not only the first African-American manager in baseball history, he managed the Giants from 1981-1984. F Robby could do it all: hit, run, field, manage, and judge.

Invasion Of The Federalist Society Body Snatchers

Charlie Pierce has a theory that the Federalist Society has a lab where they grow GOP judicial nominees. It’s hard to argue the point that they’re pod people like the ones grown in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Btw, Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version is one of the few remakes I like. It’s more of a re-imagining. Besides, what’s not to like about a movie set in San Francisco with Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum. I do, however, still revere the 1956 Don Siegel directed original with Monty Clift’s bestie, Kevin McCarthy who should never be confused with the House Majority leader. End of film buff reverie.

Let’s get back to the matter at hand: pod person Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I skipped the fakakta dog and pony show staged by Trumpy’s new flack, Bill Shine. It was timed to boost the ratings of Shine’s pal, Sean Hannity. That Fox News meathead is now the most influential media type in the land. I feel as if I’ve died and gone to hell. At least the 8PM EST timing juiced up my girl Rachel Maddow’s ratings as well.

One deviation from the Federalist Society playbook is that Kavanaugh had a rough ride in his first confirmation process. He was nominated by George W Bush in 2003 and not confirmed until 2006. He’s been compared to two movie characters: Zelig by Chuck Schumer and Forrest Gump by Dick Durbin. Here’s why: Kavanaugh is a political animal who was involved in the Clinton impeachment, the 2000 Bush-Gore recount, and was a senior aide to George W Bush before moving to the Federalist Society greenhouse/lab and rehatching as a federal judge.

One serious problem Kavanaugh faces is that Senator Durbin believes that he lied at his confirmation hearing. Kavanaugh claimed that he was ignorant of some of the nastier practices of the Bush administration’s so-called war on terror. Unfortunately, lying is not disqualifying in the Trump era. Durbin is still on the judiciary committee and ready to call Kavanaugh out.

The more I look at Kavanaugh’s track record, the more I see why McConnell preferred another pod person. Kavanaugh’s paper trail is long, extensive, and contradictory. Senators have customarily been allowed to pour over the nominee’s documents, which in this instance could number up to a million because of Kavanaugh’s association with Ken Starr and Bush the younger. There are emails involved. That should give wingnuts a boner but it won’t because:

There seem to be two reasons why pod person Kavanaugh was selected in the face of opposition by social conservatives:

First, Team Trump schmoozed Justice Kennedy into retiring with the promise that his former law clerk would be his successor. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would join fellow Kennedy clerk Neil Gorsuch on the bench. There’s been some mutterings of a corrupt deal but this seems more like mentoring run amuck. You can tell that Trump out-sourced that part of the process because he’d have no problem betraying Kennedy. Stiffing people is what he does. Just ask his former chaffeur.

Second, I’m convinced that the president* selected pod person Kavanaugh because he views him as a human get-out-of-jail-free card. I’ll let girlfriend Dahlia Lithwick explain:

Over what I believe to be a surprisingly authentic warning from Mitch McConnell not to select Kavanaugh or Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat left by Anthony Kennedy, the president chose the guy who had the most to say about imperial presidents. This is not a surprise. Beyond the fact that Kennedy doubtless approved of Trump’s selection—Kavanaugh, like Gorsuch, clerked for Kennedy—the single greatest selling point for Kavanaugh had to have been the much-reported line from his 2009 Minnesota Law Review article, in which he wrote, “Even in the absence of congressionally conferred immunity, a serious constitutional question exists regarding whether a President can be criminally indicted and tried while in office.” A President Trump seeking justification to immunize himself from prosecution needed to look no farther than Kavanaugh’s caution in that same article that the indictment and trial of a president “would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas.”

Being a GOP pod person, Kavanaugh was for vigorously investigating presidents before he was against it. I suspect that had something to do with his days in the Beavis-Duce White House. Repeat after me:

I’m milking that meme for all it’s worth. It was originally supposed to be the featured image for a post centered on the IOKYAR-ness of this nominee. That was before I entered the Federalist Society lab/greenhouse and tripped over a pod.

The nomination of pod person  Kavanaugh provides opponents with more ammunition than any other potential nominee, which is the incompetent Trumper twist on the Federalist Society formula. I still expect the latest pod to be hatched at the Supreme Court after narrowly being confirmed. BUT the extent of Kavanaugh’s paper trail should slow things down considerably. I’m sure the Turtle has a few tricks stored in his shell but we saw with the failed ACA vote that Chinless Mitch is not infallible.

More importantly, Trump has given Democrats an issue gift for the election. Here’s girlfriend Dahlia again:

In short, this means that Trump didn’t just give Senate Democrats the talking point that Kavanaugh is an all-but-certain vote to erode or end Roe v. Wade. That statement, while true, could’ve been made about any of the judges on the president’s short list. In selecting Kavanaugh, Trump has given Democrats an additional talking point: The president picked a guy he hopes will hand him a get-out-of-jail-free card.

A pair of Democratic senators have already jumped on this bandwagon, with Jeff Merkley tweeting that the pick indicates Trump “is terrified of Robert Mueller” and Cory Booker stating that he “literally selected the one person who has a pretty good written record of saying, ‘Hey, if you’re a president under investigation, I don’t think you should be allowed to be under criminal investigation.’ ”

Whether this is true or not, or even supported in Kavanaugh’s extensive record, the fact is that Senate Democrats will be able to spend the summer arguing precisely what the president doesn’t want them to argue: that the Mueller probe is ongoing, that close Trump confederates have been indicted and other indictments are coming, that many of the legal questions surrounding the Mueller investigation may end up before the Supreme Court, and that the president may have hand-picked a judge solely for the possibility that he may vote to exonerate him.

Donald Trump always puts his own selfish interests ahead of the national interest. He’s done it again. He can’t even follow the Federalist Society script and nominate another Roberts or Gorsuch. Kavanaugh seems genial enough but he’s a flawed pod person who will make it easier for the Senate minority to slow things down. Thanks, Trumpy.

I’m not though throwing memes at you. Let’s pay a visit to the Federalist Society lab/greenhouse in glorious black and white.

Quote Of The Day: Alternate Reality Edition

It comes from a column by the Observer’s Will Hutton. He’s writing about hardcore Thatcherites and Brexiters but it applies equally to American teabaggers.

There is truth. One of the reasons for our current disastrous plight is that politicians, especially but not only on the Thatcherite Eurosceptic right, have come to feel that what is true is what they believe. Their beliefs may not correspond to reality but that does not matter. Others may think they shamelessly lie or deceive, but what matters is an intent to be truthful to their beliefs, even if the gap between what they say and what is true is so yawning anyone else would regard their utterances as bare-faced lies.

This reminds me of the members of the so-called House Freedom Caucus. They’re currently in thrall to the Insult Comedian but *they* believe their own rhetoric. They hate Hillary Clinton and she was Secretary of State when Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi happened. Therefore she must be guilty of some sort of crime. And don’t forget those emails.

One of the most obnoxious and deeply stupid members of the Freedom Caucus is Ohio’s Jim Jordan. He’s gotten himself in a spot of bother over accusations that, as an assistant wresting coach at Ohio State, he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse by the team doctor. Jordan has denied the allegations but I’m skeptical. This is a man who lies, or fantasizes in the sense described by Will Hutton, every day. The president* insists he’s a good man who’s being lied about. That means, of course, that he did it.

There are some calls for a Congressional ethics inquiry but that’s unlikely. The activity occurred long before Jordan was elected to the House. I am, however, enjoying this sanctimonious investigator being hoist on his own petard. The dotard who watches teevee at the White House probably doesn’t know the word petard. Look it up, dude.

Jordan’s inaction in the face of evil makes him a third-rate Joe Paterno to Dr. Richard Strauss’ Jerry Sandusky. He’s not as culpable as Paterno because he wasn’t head coach BUT his moral responsibility is the same. Inaction often speaks louder than words.

Jordan will continue to denounce and deny the allegations. I’m sure he believes his story because he’s certain of his own rectitude.  To paraphrase the immortal words of Difford and Tilbrook, the truth is NOT his middle name:

 

Moderate Republicans Always Cave

The vote spread in the Senate is tantalizing. The GOP has a two vote margin, one if you don’t count John McCain. Defeating a Trump Supreme Court nominee seems doable IF the two Republican Senators who are on the record as pro-choice vote against a nominee. Don’t hold your breath: moderate Republicans always cave.

Yeah, I know, Collins and Murkowski voted against  ACA repeal but that’s an exception to the rule. Unless Trump picks a nominee as outlandish as his twitter feed, they’ll vote the party line. One reason I expect a smooth and genial Gorsuch/Roberts-type nominee is who vetted the potential Supremes for the Trumpers:

Leonard Leo — the anti-abortion Federalist Society executive vice president currently on leave to advise the President on Supreme Court nominees, and the originator of Trump’s campaign-era list of potential nominees — has been careful to note that names on the list have not taken a public stance on abortion.

“None of the people who are being talked about now in the public space in the media are people who have a clear position on Roe v. Wade,” he said, as quoted by the Washington Free Beacon.

The right has these things down to a science. They’ve been honing their craft since the Robert Bork was, well, borked by the Senate. They tend to pick nominees who are rational on the outside but stone cold wingnuts on the inside. It’s one reason they prefer to nominate federal judges because they’re not out there writing inflammatory articles. The Gorsuch nomination proved this is one area in which Trumpism hasn’t dumbed down the GOP.

Senator Collins is making reassuring noises about how she wouldn’t support a nominee who “demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade.” But she’s also convinced that neither Roberts nor Gorsuch would vote to overrule it. That naive notion seems to be based on her belief that they’re “nice guys” and that “nice” Neil Gorsuch wrote a book about stare decisis:

“I had a very long discussion with Justice Gorsuch in my office and he pointed out to me that he is a co-author of a whole book on precedent,” she said. “So someone who devotes that much time to writing a book on precedent, I think understands how important a principle that is in our judicial system.”

Collins is willing to be hoodwinked by private assurances when the Court overruled several longstanding precedents this term:

Liberals leading the charge against Mr. Trump’s potential picks quickly dismissed Ms. Collins’s remarks, suggesting that the senator was either being hoodwinked or knowingly obfuscating her position. They pointed to court decisions as recently as last week — when the justices overturned a four-decade-old precedent in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to deal a blow to organized labor — in which it reversed earlier rulings.

“This proves how flimsy Collins’ pro-Roe position is,” Brian Fallon, a longtime Democratic operative whose organization, Demand Justice, is helping organize opposition to potential nominees, wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning, referring to Ms. Collins’s comments on Mr. Gorsuch. “She is perfectly happy to let herself be suckered based on phony assurances about ‘precedent.’

Repeat after me: moderate Republicans always cave. The moderate to conservative red state Democratic Senators up for re-election this year have NO incentive to die on the SCOTUS hill unless Collins and Murkowski break with their party. It’s hard to imagine the most vulnerable Dem, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, voting against a conservative court pick in any event. He was elected because he ran in a presidential election year and had an appalling opponent. Conservative Democrats *usually* cave on Republican Supreme Court nominees, after all.

There is no path to defeat a Trump nominee unless Collins and Murkowski announce their opposition early and often. Otherwise the red state Democrats will cave since they’re already running scared. That, too, could hurt their campaigns by flattening out enthusiasm among liberals. There *are* red state liberals: I’m one of them

Of particular interest to me is how Alabama’s Doug Jones comes down on this issue. He has to run again in two years BUT he’s a rather learned lawyer who has surely thought about the implications of replacing Kennedy with a hardcore conservative. There’s no incentive for him to do the right thing if Collins and Murkowski cave.

The best case scenario is for the vote to be delayed until after the election. Given the nuking of the filibuster on SCOTUS votes, I’m not sure how this can be accomplished. I know for certain that Chinless Mitch does not give a shit about the so-called McConnell rule. He could care less about accusations of cynicism: he’s cynical and damn proud of it.

I agree with Larry Tribe and Cory Booker that Trump should not be allowed to appoint a Justice who might rule on issues involving the Mueller probe. I have my doubts that such considerations will move any GOP votes since some of them are working to destroy the investigation. Besides, a prospective nominee could theoretically defuse that issue by promising to recuse themselves. That’s only likely to happen if they think they’re going to lose. Here’s how Jessie Jackson might have phrased it in his prime: If you’re going to lose, defuse and recuse.

I remain committed to fighting the nomination, but Josh Marshall presented some contrary views at TPM that are worth considering. The one upside to the political corner Anthony Kennedy’s retirement has painted us into is that  GOP money is flowing from House to Senate races. That helps Democratic odds of retaking the House but the Senate was always trickier given the map.

Anything can happen and a few months is a lifetime in politics. But one should never forget: moderate Republicans always cave.

On Our Own Now: Justice Kennedy Exits, Stage Right

I planned to write about the McConnell Court after the appalling decision in the Muslim ban case, which featured an off-hand reversal of the infamous Korematsu ruling. I hadn’t planned to write about Anthony Kennedy but then the news cycle went berserk and my plans changed.

Liberal twitter was on suicide watch after Kennedy’s announcement. There was fear in the virtual air. Kennedy *was* a swing vote on some issues that matter to liberals: abortion, guns, and gay rights. BUT he was also a conservative Reagan appointee who voted with right-wing justices in 13 out of 13 5-4 decisions this term.

The great Dahlia Lithwick wrote one of the best pieces about Kennedy’s exit, stage right:

It was always more fan fiction than reality that Justice Anthony Kennedy was a moderate centrist. Democrats liked to soothe themselves with the story that Kennedy was a moderate because he’d provided the fifth vote to support continued affirmative action, reproductive rights, and gay rights and had strung the left along with the tantalizing promise of someday finding an unconstitutional political gerrymander. But we always knew that Kennedy was a conservative, indeed a very conservative conservative. Recall that in the famous study done in 2008 by Richard Posner and William Landes, “Four of the five most conservative justices to serve on the Supreme Court since the time of Franklin Roosevelt, including [John] Roberts and [Samuel] Alito, are currently sitting on the bench today.” And Kennedy? He was ranked in that study as the 10th most conservative justice in the past century.

To the extent we wrote paeans to Kennedy, it was for his occasional defections in areas that materially affect the lives of millions of people—women, minorities, LGBTQ couples, voters, Guantanamo detainees. And to be sure, each of those votes was well worth it. But we knew that for each such vote, there was a Bush v. Gore, a Citizens United, a Shelby County.

Kennedy’s opinions this term reflected an exhaustion with the law and the court that shouldn’t surprise anyone. He’s 81 years old and ready to sit back and do whatever retired Supremes do. We should have never regarded him as a legal savior of sorts. We’re on our own now.

I am not optimistic about the chances of defeating Trump’s next nominee BUT it’s a battle well-worth waging. The filibuster was nuked for SCOTUS nominees during the Gorsuch confirmation process BUT the GOP majority is nominally 51-49 but actually 50-49 because of John McCain’s illness. I am not optimistic about rhetorically pro-choice Senators Collins and Murkowski voting NO since Republican moderates almost always cave. Jeff Flake has made noises about holding up judicial nominees until McConnell allows a vote on tariffs but it’s unclear if that would apply to Kennedy’s soon-to-be vacated seat. Besides, Flake has been all hat and no cattle in his opposition to the Orange menace. We’re on our own now.

Having said that, Senate Democrats owe their base a fierce fight over this nomination. The future of Roe v. Wade is at stake. Overruling that 45 year-old precedent will NOT automatically render abortion illegal nationally, BUT it would allow states to do so. I expect the Gret Stet of Louisiana to be one of the early entrants in the odious race to abolish abortion. Louisiana Republicans have been working over-time to make Democrat John Bel Edwards a one-term Governor and a Roe reversal would hand them a cudgel. Edwards is rhetorically  pro-life and, like Justice Kennedy, has supported restrictions. But Governor Edwards would have to deal with an enraged Democratic base if he signed a bill banning all abortions. I somehow doubt he views that prospect with anything but foreboding. He needs Gret Stet liberals if he is to be re-elected. It will be a major test of coalition politics here in my backyard. Stay tuned.

Kennedy’s exit-stage right-is a reminder to liberals that we should stop looking for saviors. There’s no deus ex machina that’s going to drop from the sky and save us from the Trumper horde. We have to do it ourselves at the ballot box. There remains an excellent chance to flip the House but control of the Senate is up in the air despite the GOP’s narrow margin. It’s a tough map for Democrats, which is why everyone needs to forget about 2020 and focus on state and congressional elections. We on our own now.

Like many, I had hoped that Anthony Kennedy’s personal qualities would make him loath to allow the loathsome Insult Comedian to appoint his successor. Kennedy is famous for using words like dignity and respect in his opinions. Ain’t nobody less dignified or more disrespectful than Donald Trump who has already made the Kennedy retirement about himself. Dahlia Lithwick, once again, summed up my feelings on this point:

Many of us predicted that Kennedy would not allow Trump to replace him with someone who would dismantle his legacy. We were wrong. Many of us believed that a lifelong devotee of dignity, civility, and the rule of law would not want his work tarnished by a president who routinely attacks individual judges and the very notion of an independent judiciary. We were wrong. That two of Anthony Kennedy’s last judicial acts included a letter that opened “My dear Mr. President” and a vote to grant that same president a virtual blank check on the national security front certainly suggests that nothing about a president who liesbullies, and destabilizes the rule of law was any kind of real impediment to Kennedy’s departure.

2018 is the most important off-year election in the history of the Republic. It’s a chance to check the wild excesses of the executive and legislative branches.  Organize and vote like your life depends on it.

We’re on our own now.

INSTANT UPDATE: In the least surprising development ever, Jeff Flake has announced that he won’t put a hold on a Supreme Court nominee.

We’re still on our own.

You Say Jungle Primary, I Say Open Primary

There’s even a third alternative used to describe electoral systems such as California and the Gret Stet of Louisiana: top two. I prefer open but hate the system itself. It led to much advance agita about yesterday’s election in California. There is rare good news: Democrats were NOT locked out of any Congressional primaries. A collective sigh of relief was heaved, otherwise we might have hurled.

I admit that I was surprised when California adopted an open primary system via ballot initiative in 2011. No state should emulate Gret Stet politics but they did. At least the California lege can pass a budget, which ours cannot do as I pointed out on the tweeter tube:

The premise of the open/jungle/top two primary is that the role of political parties should be limited. It’s a deeply silly goo-goo notion. Repeat after me: You can’t take politics out of politics. It’s the system that gave Louisiana the run-off from hell in 1991: the Charming Crook versus the Kreepy Klansman. Mercifully, things turned out well yesterday despite this goofy system. The best way to check the Kaiser of Chaos is to retake the House and unleash the subpoena power. Then Scott Pruitt will really have to go to the mattresses.

The teevee punditocracy insist on calling the open/top two system the jungle primary. It has the virtue of being dramatic, it certainly beats the hell out of a *fourth* term of art: non-partisan blanket primary. I hate to be a wet blanket but that sounds like a dull and wonky slumber party.

Jungle primary is a meaningless term that must have been dreamt up by someone who watched too many Tarzan movies on teevee as a kid. I watched a few of those fakakta flicks on TCM recently and I cannot decide if they’re from hunger or campy fun. Tarzan even fights the Nazis in a couple of war-time entries. Tarzan good, Nazis bad.

The news from New Jersey was also pretty darn good. Democrats have an excellent chance to flip four seats held by the GOP. There’s even a rising star in the bunch:  former Navy pilot Mikie Sherrill who’s also a graduate of the Naval Academy.

It was a another good night for Democrats. Turn-out was good and the enthusiasm gap was visible; something the inside the beltway pundit class continues to have a hard time spotting. I think Nate Silver nailed it:

They’d rather beat the drums for jungle primaries. You say jungle primary, I say open primary. Let’s call the whole thing off.

What would I do without Ira Gershwin? Or Ella and Louis for that matter:

WRT Mueller

Just a quick note on the savior of the Republic.

Look. I am as susceptible as anyone to Twitter outrage over whatever Mueller’s found today that incriminates Trump and everyone around him. However, I want everyone to understand that a Republican Congress is not going to impeach Donald. Under no circumstances. The four loud Never Trumpers aren’t enough here, especially since they don’t back up their talk-show bullshit with votes.

November is all that matters. It’s ALL that matters. Even that might not be enough, but you gotta check some of his bullshit and Congress is the only way to do that. The courts are one Supreme away from being lost forever. If we want to stop Trump it’s gonna happen in the Capitol and in state houses across the country so buckle up and register some goddamn voters.

Yes, it’s an outrage (whatever it is we’ve found today, I dunno, I haven’t checked in 30 seconds or so) and yes, it’s fun to pop the corn. I’m not saying I ain’t drinking champagne on indictment day. But remember Fitzmas, remember Scooter Libby, and keep your eye on the fucking ball.

A.

Trumpier Than Trump In West By Gosh Virginia

I’m old enough to remember when West Virginia was reliably Democratic in national politics unless it was a wave election such as the Nixon and Reagan re-election campaigns. Michael Fricking Dukakis won it for chrissake. We’re all old enough to remember when West Virginia had two outstanding liberal Senators in Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller. West Virginia turned decisively red nationally in 2000 and the current GOP senate primary involves 3 major candidates vying for the title of who is the Trumpiest Trumper of all.

Since negativity comes easy for him, the Insult Comedian knows who he’s against in West Virginia:

In response to that tweet, Don Blankenship said he was “Trumpier than Trump.” It’s hard to argue that point as the former coal mine baron was convicted for conspiracy to violate federal mine safety standards. His dereliction of duty led to the deaths of 29 miners. He has spun this as persecution by Obama, Hillary, Holder, Lynch, and every damn librul he can think of. Some people have bought it. It’s the age of the angry, gullible voter, after all.

Blankenship is a rich dude running against Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment. Sound familiar? Blankenship calls the Senate GOP leader Cocaine Mitch and denounces his ties to “China people” because he’s married to Elaine Chao. At least he hasn’t made any tasteless jokes about miners tunneling their way to China or used more venerable anti-Chinese slurs. He may be bat shit cray cray but he’s not *that* cray cray.

I’m still waiting for Blankenship to tie Chinless Mitch to Mr. Wu from Deadwood.

Maybe he’s saving that for the general election against Joe Manchin. He could tie it to the GOP’s Pelosi phobia because of Mr. Wu’s catchphrase, “San Francisco cocksucker.”

Blankenship is running third in most polls but has benefited from his equally Trumptastic foes firing shots at one another. It’s a classic scenario that only changed recently. I’m pulling for Blankenship to win the GOP nomination tomorrow. It will be as entertaining as hell and help the Democrats hold a seat. Joe Manchin isn’t my ideal Senator BUT I’ll take a blue dog who caucuses with the Dems to a Forever Trump Republican any day.

A quick note about the post title. There are dueling versions of the informal West Virginia slogan: By Gosh versus By God. I come down on the By Gosh side because that’s how Dr. A and her old friends Karen and Joe say it. Karen and Joe are from West Virginia so I trust their version By God. I mean By Gosh.

The Mr. Wu colloquy gave me an earworm. That’s why Steely Dan gets the last word By Gosh or By God:

You say Doctor Wu, I say Mr. Wu. Let’s call the whole thing off.

Malaka Of The Week: Mo Brooks

Since November, 2016, one of the MSM’s favorite words is unprecedented. Everything is unprecedented. It’s hard to argue that a president* making foreign policy pronouncements on twitter while watching Fox News is NOT unprecedented. It is. It is also aberrant and a textbook example of malakatude.

I’m going to do something unprecedented myself: First Draft’s first two-time malaka of the week. In the past, I’ve avoided repeat offenders because there’s enough malakatude to go around without plowing the same furrow again. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do and that is why Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks is malaka of the week.

Mo Brooks first wore the malakatude crown of shame on June 8, 2014 for some inflammatory and downright idiotic white nationalist rantings. Brooks puts the Mo in Moron. In 2014, Malaka Mo claimed Democrats were waging a “war on whites” because of their uppity president and such.

Since then, Mo finished third in the 2017 GOP Senate primary behind Judge Pervert and Luther Strange. He was only the second craziest candidate in the race. Go figure.

In 2018, we’re getting Mo of the same nonsense as Brooks claims that assassination threats are the reason so many House GOPers are retiring:

“One of the things that’s concerning me is the assassination risk may become a factor,” he said.

Brooks referred to the fact many members of the Republican baseball team are retiring, including Sen. Jeff Flake and Reps. Ryan Costello, Pat Meehan, Dennis Ross and Tom Rooney.

“You have to wonder with that kind of disproportionate retirement number whether what happened in June played a factor,” he said.

So, it’s not scandal or the fact that they’re sure losers in the fall? It’s the Scalise shooting? Does Darrell Issa know about this? Since Mo is running for re-election, I guess that makes him one of the brave ones. Of course, he represents Alabama’s 5th district where white Democrats are rare and you can’t shake a stick without hitting a neo-Klansman. Mo is one brave motherfucker as well as a tribune of malakatude.

My favorite bit of this imbecilic rant is when Mo makes a vague Chinese Cultural Revolution reference without showing any signs that he knows what a Maoist really is:

He also said the “socialist Bernie Sanders wing of society” was pushing for a revolution that would lead to Maoist level of violence.

“There are a growing number of leftists who believe the way to resolve this is not at the ballot box but through threats and sometimes through violence and assassinations,” he said.

Other than social media keyboard warriors, I’m unaware of anyone advocating violent revolution or tooling up to become a 21st Century Gang of Four. The idea of past malaka of the week Jeff Weaver, Nina Turner and cohort donning Mao shirts and waving the little red book at Our Revolution rallies makes me chortle, titter, and even guffaw.

Since Malaka Mo is trotting out the Maoist straw man, it’s time to trot out some good old-fashioned ChiCom rhetoric and call Mo a running dog of the imperialist Trumpist dynasty.

It seems as if Mo is starting a Congressional GOP baseball team conspiracy theory. They’re all retiring because the Mau Mau Maoists are out to get them, which makes this some kind of Obama-Gang of Four conspiracy. Does Alex Jones know about this? He might, however, confuse them with the British rock band of that name. He could always ask his pal Billy Corgan to clarify matters.

It turns out that Malaka Mo is one of the GOP baseball team’s “coaches.” Why does a pickup baseball team need coaches? Is Mo teaching them the spitball? He’s good at scuffing up the truth, after all. Coach Mo conjures up images of Coach, Sam Malone’s lovably dim sidekick/bartender on the early seasons of Cheers. Mo Brooks is his evil twin but every bit as dim. I guess I shouldn’t use the word dim or Malaka Mo will think I’m talking about dim sum, which could make me a Maoist or some such shit. Mmm, dim sum.

Congressman Brooks continues to put the Mo into Moron with his bizarre ideas and convoluted thinking. Republican Congresscritters are retiring because they think they’ll lose their seats and control of the House. Fear of violence is just another lame excuse. And that is why Mo Brooks is malaka of the week.

Yup. Vote Them Out.

It’s the only way:

Trumpism isn’t receding in the GOP — it’s increasing. This year’s Senate and House candidates are more like Trump than the ones in 2016. The voter outrage these candidates are stirring up won’t go away, even if some of the Trumpy candidates get their clocks cleaned in November — remember that many of them won’t, because they’ll be running in deep red states or districts.

After that, either Trump will consolidate power, which will make Trumpism the winning play for 2020 candidates, or he’ll remain under siege, possibly until he falls, which will increase Republican voters’ taste for vengeance.

The minute the cowards McConnell and Ryan decided to throw in with Trump, pussy-grabbing and all, so that they could get their tax cuts, the only way out of this for the GOP was ever gonna be through it.

David Cay Johnston, a reporter so meticulous he once asked THIS VERY BLOG for a correction (and we gave it to him because he Knows Things and also he was right and we were wrong), thinks this is the most important set of elections since the Civil War.

Well, he may win again in 2020. The November elections are the most important American elections since the Civil War, and I’m including 1932.

Based just on normal historic averages, the Republicans should lose control of the House by about four seats. They should lose control of the Senate as well, although the map is pretty awful for the Democrats. If Republicans retain control then I believe what will happen over time is that someone who shares Trump’s dictatorial and authoritarian tendencies but doesn’t have his baggage — someone who is a competent manager and just as charismatic — will eventually arise and you can kiss your individual liberties goodbye. That will take time but it’s the trend we are heading towards.

And everybody who thinks the answer is that the GOP needs to nominate more moderate candidates is bonkers crazy nuts. The answer isn’t that the GOP needs to fix itself. It’s that the GOP needs to be voted the fuck OUT.

Everywhere. In red states and blue ones. In city offices and in congressional races and in goddamn county clerkships from here to eternity.

“But my congressman’s a moderate!” Doesn’t matter. “But my guy does good things!” So what? If he’s still voting with Trump (and every Republican is) then he’s as useful to you as a coal-rolling doomsday-prepping schoolgirl-assaulting Bible-banging yeehaw screaming about child trafficking-pepperoni plots. This is not a time when we can afford to save a few Republicans who are Not That Bad. The aggregate is all that matters and in the aggregate they are All That Bad.

Is this some kind of tragedy? Not really. Should the GOP fix itself? Meh. It’s far more important that AMERICA fix itself and we don’t need them to do that. I get why our political infrastructure are invested in promoting the idea that America needs two functioning parties but I don’t get why anybody who isn’t paid to say so should give a good goddamn.

Convention centers and journalists and Grindr need Republicans but name me one reason America does. What do they bring to the table of any value? The last time they did good stuff they were basically where Democrats are now so maybe we should just have Democrats and Democrats, I don’t care, the goal is to get everybody home safe and alive and not bankrupt so call it whatever you want.

But stop pretending the GOP is gonna turn this around. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. That’s an oncoming train and they’re driving it, fast.

A.

You Beto Your Life

It’s time to revisit the Texas senate race. Beto O’Rourke remains the underdog but I’m glad people are taking a flyer on his candidacy. If there was ever a year to try to win a statewide race in Texas, 2018 is the year. Besides, what would be sweeter than bloodying Tailgunner Ted’s nose even if he survives? It’s win-win.

I have a suggestion for the Beto Bunch. It’s in the nature of a stunt. Those of us who are old enough to have voted in 1992 should recall Chicken George. He was the dude in the chicken suit who followed Poppy Bush around. The chicken came out of the coop when Poppy initially refused to debate. It was a Democratic stunt to bug Bush and benefit the Clinton campaign. It worked.

I think the gag could be updated but with a retro twist. Not only a retro twist but another pun on the Congressman’s nickname. Puns are important, y’all.

Let me clarify something: I may be old but I’m not old enough to have seen You Bet Your Life when it first aired. I saw the re-runs. Ya got that? I don’t want to have to make like the late R Lee Ermey and go Full Metal Jacket on your asses.

Back to Grouco Marx. Anyone who has ever seen his venerable quiz show knows that there was a secret word, when a contestant said it, a duck puppet dropped down and the contestant won some cold, hard cash. The duck puppet/muppet/marionette, whatever it was, looked like Groucho and evoked Duck Soup as opposed to Daffy Duck or Duck Dunn.

I suspect you’re wondering where the 2018 tie-in is. Here it is: the Beto Bunch should station a dude in a duck suit at every Cruz event. He could carry a pole with a You Bet Your Life style duck marionette that looks, not like Groucho, but like Rafael Edward Cruz. Every time Ted lies or mentions the name Donald Trump, the Duck Dude can quack and wave the marionette.

As a reminder of Cruzian spinelessness, there could also be a sidekick waving a placard with these National Enquirer front pages:

On second thought, the placard is probably a bad idea. Some of Cruz’s supporters may be packing heat and if it’s duck season, the Duck Dude and sidekick could be in deep doo doo like Daffy.

Duck Elmer GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

This proposed stunt is a bit complicated and I realize not everyone will get the joke, but I like to be helpful. Maybe the Duck Dude could duck and cover when Cruz advocates bombing a country. The possibilities are endless as well as endlessly silly.

The last word goes to the Kinks:

Speaker Disconnected

I’m old enough to remember when being Speaker of the House was the ultimate accomplishment for Congresscritters. There was a long line of Speakers who, for good or ill, served forever. Gerald Ford accepted the Vice-Presidency because his ambition to be Speaker was thwarted by Democratic control, which lasted until 1995. Wise choice, Jerry.

The great Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn served as Speaker from 1940-1947, 1949-1953, and  1955-1961. Mr. Sam loved his job and his members as did Tip O’Neill who was Speaker for 10 years. Those days came to a screeching halt after the Tea Party wave election of 2010. Paul Ryan has finally had enough and decided not to run for re-election this fall. I, for one, am not surprised.

The most ardent teabaggers have morphed into the so-called Freedom Caucus who have specialized in making first John Boehner’s, then Paul Ryan’s life a living hell. We all know the line about herding cats. Dealing with the so-called Freedom Caucus is like herding FERAL CATS. Do I have any sympathy for the man Charlie Pierce memorably dubbed the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver? Hell to the no. I never bought into his previously glowing reputation, which is gone, gone, gone after 2 years of bowing and scraping to the Kaiser of Chaos.

There have long been rumors that Jenna Ryan is not down with her husband’s politics much like Ronald Reagan’s chirren with Nancy. Snopes has found these rumors to be unproven. I have something to throw in the hopper. It’s more in the nature of gossip or hearsay but I hope it’s true. I have a friend who has a friend who knows Jenna Ryan quite well. Supposedly, she’s banned all mention of Donald Trump from the family home and dinner table. Who could blame her?

The other good news is that Ryan’s seat could flip in the fall without him defending it:

In the words of the Insult Comedian, that would be beautiful, tremendous. Not as beautiful as Ryan losing to a Democrat in the fall but still tremendous. There’s a chance that up to 50 House Republicans may retire instead of facing the voters. Those skeptical of a Blue Wave can put that in their pipe and smoke it.

Ryan’s Randian views have long been repugnant to right-thinking people BUT he used to have the reputation of being a nice guy off-stage. That ended with the advent of Trump. Speaker Ryan is the latest in a long line of Trump dignity wraiths. Everything Trump touches turns to shit.

I wrote about Ryan on the day he became Speaker in 2015. In a fog of history post, I compared Lyin’ Ryan to James G. Blaine “the continental liar from the state of Maine.” I also posted a Separated at Birth image of him and Eddie Munster.

I’m sure Grandpa Munster would have been disappointed in him: the late Al Lewis was a lefty activist when not playing a zany vampire. We do not have to Snopes that.

The last word goes to Keane with this peachy video with a horror movie feel. Much scarier than the Munsters’ house at 1313 Mockingbird Lane but not as scary as the current House of Representatives or one led by the Gret Stet’s Steve Scalise.

Malaka Of The Week: Ralph Norman

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A friend asked me the other day why I’m doing fewer malaka of week posts. Surely, he said, malakatude is not decreasing. It is not. There’s been an explosion of malakatude in the Trump error era. Norms are being discarded willy nilly, especially on the subject of guns and that is why Congressman Ralph Norman of South Carolina is malaka of the week. Yeah, it happened last week but let’s not be pedantic about dates. Genuine malakatude is timeless.

It’s a pity that the Congressman’s parents didn’t name him Norman Norman. Not only would that get him a shout-out at Cheers, I could call him Norm Norman while pointing out the pulling out a loaded gun in a room full of constituents is not normal, Norman.

From the Charleston Post & Courier’s Palmetto Politics section:

A South Carolina Republican congressman is not backing down from critics after he pulled out his own personal — and loaded — .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun during a meeting with constituents Friday.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, told The Post and Courier he pulled out the weapon and placed it on a table for several minutes in attempt to make a point that guns are only dangerous in the hands of criminals.

“I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords,” Norman said afterward, referring to the former Arizona Democratic congresswoman who was shot outside a Tucson-area grocery store during a constituent gathering in 2011.

That was a real low country low blow as Malaka Norman seems to imply that it was Ms. Giffords’ own fault that she was shot. A scathingly polite reaction to that came from Jeff Flake who served in the House with Giffords:

Palmetto state pols have long been known for their bravado, bluster, and bullshit. Who among us can forget Joe (You Lie) Wilson? Then there was that Southern charmer Congressman Preston Brooks who attacked Senator Charles Sumner with a cane in 1856:

That may be a low country low blow but Malaka Norman deserves whatever he gets for mocking Gabby Giffords and for this bit of Palmetto state poo-poo:

Norman said he pulled out the gun, pointed it away from the meeting attendees and put it on a table for about five minutes while they continued their conversation over breakfast.

The move, Norman said, was intended to prove “guns don’t shoot people; people shoot guns.”

Norman is a state concealed carry permit holder and said he regularly brings his gun with him when out in public.

If anyone walked into the diner and started shooting, Norman told the attendees, he would be able to protect them because of his gun.

“I don’t mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back,” he told The Post and Courier.

I’m not sure if that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard but it’s on the list. Repeat after me: gun nuttery is an ideology and the NRA is a cult. What would this bozo do if an angry white man with an assault weapon came after him? It’s unclear if Norman can do anything but shoot off his mouth. He’s good at that. In my experience, braggarts are rarely heroic. Remember the last politician who waved a gun around in public?

Norman may not be a pervert like Roy Moore but he *is* a real estate developer. That figures: they’re world-class assholes who make car dealers look honest. Exhibit A is the Insult Comedian, the braggingest man on the planet. Norman is on that list as well. And that is why Ralph Norman is malaka of the week.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “And the loons shall lie down with the Lamb” edition

 

Okay people – coffee break’s over – back on your heads!

One subject for today’s Obsession – Pennsylvania special election live thread!

Lamb vs. Saccone Special Election PA18
NY Times ^ | March 13, 2018

Posted on 3/13/2018, 7:16:01 PM by Pinkbell

A thread to discuss the results.

I feel like Lamb has a lot of momentum, has run as a moderate, and has run a better campaign. I’ll predict he’ll win tonight (although I’d like to see Saccone win).

NYT does a good job with election results.

1 posted on 3/13/2018, 7:16:02 PM by Pinkbell
Oh, DO they, now? So the “New York Slimes” is always full of fake news, but suddenly they’re the go-to for factual election results?

To: Pinkbell

The republicans would have had more excitement excrement if they ran a head of cabbage.

FIFY.

How can these clowns lose a state like Alabama? They’re going to give it all back to the commies if they don’t get their act together.

I thought you Freepers loved you some commies?  Or is that just since 2016?

RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel needs to go home if they cannot do better than this.

10 posted on 3/13/2018, 7:21:54 PM by boycott

I wonder how long it’s going to be before the other Freepers strap on their blamethrowers?
To: boycott

 

The republicans do not want the majority because they cannot justify what they are doing, tax cuts aside.

12 posted on 3/13/2018, 7:24:39 PM by Lagmeister ( false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders Mark 13:22)

BlameThrower
 .
Twelve posts in – that has to be some kind of record.
 .
To: VeniVidiVici

 

Marine officer and democrat…

Two terms that just don’t seem to right in the same sentence.

20 posted on 3/13/2018, 7:30:44 PM by NFHale (The Second Amendment – By Any Means Necessary.)

Nice try, wannabe. I’ve got a Marine friend named Dan who could cut you into pieces small enough to hide, and he’s as liberal as they come.
To: NutsOnYew

 

God…yet another potentially close race with a LOSERTARIAN also on the ballot. I wonder if Soros is back-channel supporting these idiots?

23 posted on 3/13/2018, 7:33:01 PM by House Atreides (BOYCOTT the NFL, its products and players 100% – PERMANENTLY)

BlameThrowerDiagram
And then –
To: Pinkbell

 

Saccone takes the lead by 14 votes!

woohoo it’s in the bag!

27 posted on 3/13/2018, 7:35:26 PM by JPJones (More tariffs, less income tax.)

You a fonny boy.
More below the “Read Roy Moore” link…
.

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The Lambslide

I am, of course, being sardonic, sarcastic, and other S words. Conor Lamb’s special election margin is 627 votes as I write this but a win is a win is a win. It’s a victory for coalition politics and a defeat for the president* and a feckless Speaker of the House who seems incapable of distancing his members from a wildly unpopular Trump. Paul Ryan is the most politically inept Speaker of my lifetime: the goal of any Speaker is to preserve their majority. Ryan is too afraid of the rabid right-wing base he’s pandered to all these years to even try to save his majority. Thanks, Paul.

This triumph will prove to be somewhat ephemeral since the crazy quilt Pennsylvania Gerrymander scheme was tossed out by the courts. Lamb will have to run in a differently configured district this fall but that somehow makes this victory even sweeter. Lamb beat a Republican in a district drawn to make it well-nigh impossible for a D to beat an R.  It took an asshole president* to produce a 20 point swing. Thanks, Trumpy.

In classic Trump fashion, he’s making excuses and absolving himself from any blame for the GOP’s latest special election defeat:

 “The young man last night that ran, he said, ‘Oh, I’m like Trump. Second Amendment, everything. I love the tax cuts, everything.’ He ran on that basis,” Trump said at the fundraiser, according to an audio recording obtained by The Atlantic. “He ran on a campaign that said very nice things about me. I said, ‘Is he a Republican? He sounds like a Republican to me.’”

In fact, Lamb ran a classic lunch pail/kitchen table pro-union campaign. It’s the way Democrats have won elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since the New Deal. I don’t recall Trump being a fan of organized labor. Fake populism can only get you so far.

Here’s how former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau described Landslide Lamb’s campaign:

It takes a coalition to win any election that doesn’t take place in the purest truest bluest district. For the 50 state strategy to succeed, that requires supporting candidates who can win in a given district. That was the strategy Howard Dean used to help Democrats take back the House in 2006. You might recall that Dean ran as the most liberal candidate in the Democratic presidential race in 2004. He was still a believer in coalition politics, which is what made Nancy Smash Speaker and Harry Reid Senate Majority Leader.

The important thing is to win and negotiate our differences later: the future of the Republic may well depend on a blue wave this fall. A candidate who can win in Berkeley or Brooklyn cannot win in Western Pennsylvania or statewide in, say, Texas. A lot of “non-partisan progressives” on twitter have been unhappy with Beto O’Rourke because he’s insufficiently pure. Do they prefer Rafael Edward Cruz who the last time I checked was the wingnut’s wingnut?

The sitting president is *always* the issue in mid-term elections, especially since the South became a sea of red. The days when Tip O’Neill could hold his majority with a popular Republican president in office are long gone. Trump will be the main issue even when a candidate chooses to treat him like Voldemort and not speak his name aloud a la Landslide Lamb. It’s a losing issue for Republicans and a winner for Democrats and sanity. Believe me.

The last word goes to Genesis with my favorite song with the word lamb in it:

Exhuming McCarthy

Trump with arch-McCarthyite Roy Cohn.

I spent the weekend in the Carnival bubble, which is a good place. I stayed there even when two of the leading resistance activists in my area came over for a parade party yesterday. We didn’t feel like dissecting the Nunes memo and what, if any, significance it might have.

The memo itself is a damp squib: Nunes has admitted that he hasn’t read any of the underlying material. He’s emulating his dear leader who was left alone with a 3 1/2 page memo for several hours. Trump claims to have read it but I think he watched teevee instead. The Nunes memo does, however, aid and abet the possibility of what many have called a slow motion Saturday Night Massacre.

It’s not an original insight to apply the label neo-McCarthyism to Nunes and his doings, especially now that he plans to give Foggy Bottom a spanking next. The State Department was Tailgunner Joe’s main target, after all.

One hears the word unprecedented a lot in the age of Trump. Sometimes it’s used correctly. But it is not unprecedented for Republican politicians to attack arms of government to suit their own political aims. It’s what Joe McCarthy did and it’s what Devin Nunes and Donald Trump are doing right now.

Once again Trump proves that he’s worse than Nixon. Tricky’s assault on the FBI and CIA was mostly subterranean whereas Trump’s is out in the open and on the tweeter tube. Trump’s is more egregious: he is willing to take down the FBI to save his own ass. It surprises but does not shock me that GOPers do not understand that if one is not-guilty one does not need to obstruct justice by finagling to shut an investigation down. One is not the loneliest number in this post.

Will it work? I’m not sure. Slate legal eagle Dahlia Lithiwck thinks it might. If nothing else, the Nunes memo has sown the seeds of chaos, confusion, and discord that Team Trump thrives on. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. His operating principle is that if you throw enough shit against the wall some of it will stick.

The post title is taken from an REM song from their great 1987 album, Document. Exhuming McCarthy was written in response to the Iran-Contra scandal and the rise of the likes of Newt Gingrich who specialized in McCarthyite attacks on their opponents. The lyrics are just as relevant to the current situation and the Current Occupant who lie as easily as the worst of the Reaganites. The good news is that they’re not as good at it as St. Ronnie and his cohort. Reagan had an aura of niceness that mitigated his lies in the eyes of many. Trump is a prick who is only believed by hardcore cultists. The Reaganites attack on the truth worked: it remains to be seen if the Trumpers efforts will work. One thing I’m sure of: Reagan would be appalled by Trump’s fealty to the neo-Soviet government of Vladimir Putin. Even the Reaganites had their limits.

A reminder: Donald Trump considers Joe McCarthy’s henchman Roy Cohn a mentor as you can see in the featured image at the top of the post. As I wrote during the campaign, oy such a mentor.

The last word goes to-who else?-REM as it did in the Trump-Cohn post.

Cave Diving

This, pretty much: 

So Democrats staved off the worst effects of a government shutdown. They prevented a turn in public opinion against their party for this shutdown, as well as Dreamers. They got CHIP. They got a commitment from McConnell to bring up immigration legislation. And they gave up none of their leverage.

It may be tempting to insist that Democrats should have pressed on with the shutdown strategy until they got everything they wanted. But Congress works slowly ― barely ― until the moment that it all comes together in an instant.

Democrats took a step toward that moment.

I know they should have held out for DACA, sure, but you tell me how that was going to happen. I don’t believe Schumer trusts McConnell and I don’t believe McConnell is going to do the right thing and I don’t believe Paul Ryan is anything other than the vaguely sentient sexbot Ayn Rand wishes she had built. Of course they’re not going to bring up DACA again. Of course Lucy’s gonna pull the football away. Of course we’re just gonna have to do this again in three weeks.

Three more weeks for DACA recipients to be deported. That’s monstrous. That’s not in any way all right.

And there was no way for the Democrats to stop it. They don’t have the House, the Senate, the White House. They don’t have a majority of statehouses and they’re never gonna take the streets.

But in 10 months they can take two of those things back. Ten months from now they can take back the House, take back the Senate, and fix DACA for good. Authorize CHIP for a hundred years. Impeach the orange motherfucker whose chaos-enabling shitlord underlings engineered this whole mess. I believe this is the answer:

Conservative Dems are infuriating. Republican-lite Dems are infuriating. But it’s their disproportionate representation in Congress that makes them powerful. Elect 70 Dem senators and the four assholes we all hate don’t matter. Elect a few dozen more Dem House members and the 12 gutless pricks that drive us crazy every time lose all their leverage. Elect Democrats to hold every statehouse in the land AND NO REPUBLICAN POLICIES WILL EVEN COME UP FOR A VOTE.

You know who’s yelling loudest that Democrats are CAVING and it’s all terrible for Democrats?

Republicans.

So shout at your senators if you want. Tell them they should have held out for DACA. Shit, primary them if you want (though you come for Tammy Baldwin First of Her Name, you’re gonna have to go through me). That’s your right, and maybe I’m wrong here. Maybe in 3 weeks it’ll all go tits-up and you can all say I TOLD YOU SO NEOLIBERAL SHILL.

That’s your right, too.

But don’t add your voice to the Republican spin machine that would have said ANY outcome was terrible for Democrats, who are always In Disarray and always Letting True Progressives Down. Absent Republicans, absent ALEC, absent Koch/Murdoch/Fox, none of this would be happening at all.

Tell your senators they made a terrible compromise. And let’s try to get rid of the reason for terrible compromises in the first place.

A.

America Held Hostage Day Three

If Yogi Berra were still with us, he’d say it was “deja vu all over again.” The last federal government shutdown was in 2013, which was when I inaugurated the first incarnation of this feature with this opening paragraph:

I keep dating myself (I kiss and tell too) on this blog but I do it for a good cause. I remember when ABC News launched a late night newscast after bored students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took a bunch of hostages to avoid studying for finals. The show was originally called America Held Hostage before morphing into Nightline, which is apparently still airing but I haven’t seen it in eons. A late night network news show is now kinda quaint but it was cutting edge in 1979.

This could be called the Stupid Shutdown since the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the executive branch. Stupid is on brand for the Trumpified, post-Tea Party GOP as is the whole notion of a government shutdown. Anything that is the brain child of N Leroy Gingrich is presumed stupid until proven otherwise.

Since government shutdowns have been part of the GOP brand since 1995, Democrats should hold firm on their demands. A closely divided Senate gives them leverage on DACA, which is an idea everyone but the dimmer people on the White House staff claim to support. Despite Trump’s urging, Chinless Mitch ain’t nuking the filibuster. He’s been in the minority before and will be again, hopefully in 2019. Veteran senators take the long view on the filibuster. Besides, the filibuster was the Turtle’s best friend when he was minority leader.

As to the White House, I call Trump the Kaiser of Chaos for a reason. He thrives on chaos, disorder, and instability: they’re part of his brand. As far as he’s concerned, this is Congress’ problem, he’ll sign whatever they send over. Some leader, some leadership.

The White House has provided some unintentional comedy relief as you can see in this tweet from Krazy author Michael Tisserand:

I am, however, disappointed that Michael missed the Get Smart shoe phone:

As Agent 86 would surely say at this point: “Missed it by that much.”

FYI, the bad guy spooks in Get Smart were Chaos. Sound familiar? I hear they have a Kaiser, not a Tsar.

The bumbling in Washington would be funnier if the real life implications weren’t so potentially terrible. Republicans expect Democrats to behave as responsible adults and cave. It hasn’t quite worked out that way in the past but it’s their expectation. What tends to happen is bi-partisan caving. Repeat after me: moderates always cave.

The joker in the 2018 shutdown deck is the Insult Comedian. Other that his stupid wall, he doesn’t believe in anything or care about anyone, he just wants a win. Every time he opens his mouth or unleashes his itchy twitter trigger finger he upsets an apple cart. I figured I should use an arcane phrase because he’s trying to take us back to the pre-civil rights, pre-feminist era. What he wants to do when he gets there is beyond me. Chaos is the result.

The teabagger driven 2013 shutdown lasted 16 days. The 2018 shutdown is driven by stupidity and Trump’s love of disorder. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. Right now, he’s stupidly happy:

Repeat after me: the Kaiser of Chaos is stupidly happy.

Bedlam

Bedlam was originally the nickname for an early psychiatric hospital in London. The word has subsequently become synonymous with madness, chaos, and disorder as well as this swell 1946 movie:

In the Trump era, our nation’s capital has become the world’s largest loony bin even if the president* passed a cognitive test administered by his doctor. He may not have early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, but he’s a fucking moron with a short attention span and impulse control issues. Boris Karloff might have said that he’s nuttier than a fruitcake. I concur: he’s every bit as nasty as one too; his “incredible genes” notwithstanding.

The Kaiser of Chaos has no idea what his policies are or how to argue for them. Congressional Republicans want to use CHIP as a weapon against Democrats to blame them for a shutdown.  Such subtleties are lost on the Insult Comedian who blew up this strategy on the Tweeter Tube:

He’s already tweeted against bills that his administration proposed and is likely to continue doing so. His position on DACA shifts hourly depending who he last spoke to. The result is chaos, confusion, and bedlam.

Trump has convinced himself that a 2018 government shutdown will be a “good shutdown.” There ain’t no such thing. The notion that voters will blame the party that controls none of the political branches of government fails the smell test. It’s the Insult Comedian pandering to a diminished base who are the only ones who still believe anything he says. The result is chaos, confusion, and bedlam.

Well-meaning personally decent Republicans like Jeff Flake are speaking out against the bedlam. Flake’s recent speech comparing the Trump to Uncle Joe Stalin was a good one BUT fine words aren’t enough in this situation. Flake has voted the Trump party line 90% of the time. Flake’s critique is increasingly reminiscent of someone who corrects your grammar or table manners. It’s all style and no substance. It contributes to the chaos, confusion, and bedlam.

Things are so bad that reports about Trump’s affair with Gret Stet born porn star Stormy Daniels are getting no traction. This is the sort of story that the Beltway press corps used to live for, but now they seem to have scandal fatigue. They’re increasingly numb to the chaos, confusion, and bedlam.  (Parenthetical aside: Stormy threatened to run for the Senate against Diaper Dave in 2010. There’s a swell account of this by Mitch Rabalais at the Bayou Brief. Y’all know how much I love sub-plots and this is a juicy one.)

The country has been battered, beaten, and abused before, but we’ve never had an administration with so many scandals that the press has a hard time prioritizing which one to cover. The extent and scope of the Trump administration’s crimes dwarf anything we’ve seen in our history. Teapot Dome was a tempest in an oily teacup compared to the Trump scandals. The result is chaos, confusion, and bedlam.

Kevin McCarthy: Candyass Candyman

In 2015, I wrote a funny post about how House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy blew his chance to replace Speaker Boner. It had a classic title if I do say so myself and I do, Untrustable in Hungria: The Kevin McCarthy Story. McCarthy has trouble with the language, which may be one reason Trump likes him; that and his obsequious toadying:

President Trump and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) were alone in the presidential suite on Air Force One, flying east toward Washington in early October, when the president reached for a handful of Starbursts, the square-shaped candy fruit chews.

But instead of unwrapping all the treats, the president was careful to pluck out and eat two flavors: cherry and strawberry, McCarthy noticed.

“We’re there, having a little dessert, and he offers me some,” McCarthy recalled in an interview. “Just the red and the pink. A bit later, a couple of his aides saw me with those colors and told me, ‘Those are the president’s favorites.’ ”

Days later, the No. 2 Republican in the House — known for his relentless cultivation of political alliances — bought a plentiful supply of Starbursts and asked a staffer to sort through the pile, placing only those two flavors in a jar. McCarthy made sure his name was on the side of the gift, which was delivered to a grinning Trump, according to a White House official.

First, Starbursts are nasty. I thought only small kids and teenagers ate that sticky and nasty shit. It makes sense that the arrested adolescent president* would like them. Ick. What is it with Republicans and nasty artificial fruit flavored candy? Reagan was a jelly bean freak. Now it’s the Insult Comedian and Starburst. One would think that a man with orange hair would favor that flavor instead of pink and red. Is it a subliminal message that he’s a pinko? His pal Vladdy used to be a red, after all.

Second, having a staffer sort Starbursts is an example of your tax dollars at work in the  Trump era. Admittedly, it beats the hell out of taking away health care from millions of Americans, but it still sucks. Plus it’s icky and sticky. Perhaps the staffer in question will quit and write an expose: I sorted Starburst  for Trump. I guess Kev didn’t know you could buy the red kind separately…

Kevin McCarthy is a dolt and  a world-class sycophant. His head is so far up Trump’s ass that the president* calls him “my Kevin.” That’s as sickly sweet as Trump’s favorite treat.

Writing this post has given me dueling earworms from an unlikely pair: Sammy Davis Jr. and the Grateful Dead and they’ll get the last word. We’ll go with the hit first: