Look who’s putting the “fun” in “dysfunction”! That’s right. It's Republicans. Again!
Long after Rep. Kevin McCarthy gave gobs of concessions to secure his speaker’s gavel on the 15th vote—a humiliation that may or may not have included a Hello Kitty ball gag, two Shetland ponies, and a backyard kiddie pool full of gently used Dick Cheney hearts—Republicans have gone back to the drawing-and-quartering board, hoping to choose a new House honcho before voters somehow notice they’re not all that serious about governing.
So naturally they have their sights set on Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.
On Friday, Jordan failed to nail down the votes he needed to secure the speaker’s chair—which is really shocking when you think about it. How odd that a shambolic cabal of famously aimless bomb-throwers won’t unanimously anoint the most loathsome little hobgoblin they’ve ever laid eyes on. Then again, most Republicans have long since left their party to join the cult of Donald Trump, who’s basically just David Koresh with worse hair.
Of course, there could be an upside to House Speaker Jim Jordan. For Democrats, anyway. Yes, he could do tremendous damage to the country if he gets the nod, but he might do even more damage to Republicans’ chances in 2024. So what outcome should we be rooting for, really? Frankly, I don’t know. It’s kind of like deciding whether to let a drunk snow leopard loose in your house in order to convince your wife she doesn’t really want a cat.
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Luckily, we don’t have to decide. But we do get to watch. And if we’re really fortunate, it will be nearly as entertaining as this:
Onward and, erm ... downward! Assuming that’s even possible.
First up, a dash of sanity. As Republicans continue to battle for the speakership like two nude old men fighting a seagull over a bag of Ruffles, Democrats are still hoping for a productive path forward that somehow doesn’t elevate literal traitors to rarefied positions in our government.
It’s an outrageous ask, I know, but they’re going ahead with it.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries joined Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press” to stress that Democrats are still open to a bipartisan path out of the current quagmire, and reveals that informal discussions about alternative solutions have already taken place.
WELKER: “We heard you talking about a bipartisan solution to resolving this stalemate in the House. Are you actually having conversations behind the scenes with your Republican counterparts about trying to create a bipartisan solution—a governing coalition?”
JEFFRIES: “There are informal conversations that have been underway. When we get back to Washington tomorrow it's important to begin to formalize those discussions. From the very beginning of this Congress, House Democrats have made clear that we want to continue to put people over politics and to fight for things like lower costs, better-paying jobs, safer communities, and to build an economy that works from the middle out and the bottom up. On the other hand, House Republicans have been focused on fighting each other. It’s time to end the Republican civil war so we can get back to doing the business of the American people, and we as House Democrats are committed to finding that bipartisan path forward in a meaningful way.”
WELKER: “Leader Jeffries, this has been going on for 11 days. Why haven’t formal conversations started yet?”
JEFFRIES: “At this point, that is on my House Republican colleagues. We have made clear, publicly and privately, that we are ready, willing, and able to enter into a bipartisan governing coalition that puts the American people first and solves problems for hardworking American taxpayers. My Republican colleagues have a simple choice. They can either double or triple down on the chaos, dysfunction, and extremism, or let’s have a real conversation about changing the rules of the House so it can work in the best interests of the American people.”
For the record, Jeffries presented the bare bones of his bipartisan proposal in an Oct. 6 Washington Post opinion article. It may not be a perfect solution, but on the bright side it wouldn’t place any insurrectionists in the top echelons of our federal government.
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Not everyone is as freaked out about Insurrectionist Jim as they should be. Some otherwise marginally sane House members have loaded their garages with hulking pallets of Kirkland Turd Polish and are doing their darndest to push him over the finish line.
One of these characters is Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who’s apparently decided he’d better side with Jordan now before someone staples a syphilitic fruit bat to Louie Gohmert’s forehead and tries to make that speaker.
Crenshaw appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper. The best part about this clip is the friendly laugh they share over the fact that the current frontrunner for speaker—along with 146 other current and former Republican lawmakers—doesn’t actually believe in democracy.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Most Republican House members are insurrectionists! Ha ha ha. How are we supposed to find a speaker candidate who isn’t? The very notion is absurd!
TAPPER: “People say, well, let’s just bring McCarthy back, and either that happens or [temporary Speaker Patrick] McHenry gets it by default. Is that possible, do you think?”
CRENSHAW: “Anything’s possible. These are very unlikely. McCarthy has to actually want to run. Out of protest, some members will vote for McCarthy. He has no intention of running. Jordan has been a true ally to McCarthy, at least from everything I’ve seen and what McCarthy is saying now. And what I would remind a lot of the members who are against Jordan—because his reputation precedes him, but his reputation has changed over time. He has become part of the solution, not part of the problem. He’s long since been part of the solution. I’ve had a lot of good conversations with him; I’ve gotten to know him; there’s a reason I support him. Giving McHenry additional powers. That still requires a vote, and what kind of powers? At a certain point you’re just electing a speaker. So he doesn’t want that, and he’s asking us not to do that.”
TAPPER: “I mean, [Jordan] defied a congressional subpoena and he was trying to get Pence to overturn the electoral votes, but anyway, you’re in the Jordan camp.”
CRENSHAW: [Laughs] “But a lot of them did that. If I held that grudge, I wouldn’t have friends in the Republican conference.”
TAPPER: [Smiling] “True, that’s two-thirds of the conference. That’s an excellent point.”
CRENSHAW: “I was on an island there.”
TAPPER: “Yeah, I hear ya.”
Hilarious, right? The Republican Party is such a writhing nest of anti-American vipers, it’s basically impossible to find a leader who isn’t mind-bogglingly reckless in the face of clear and present threats to our ever-fragile democracy.
You’re a hoot, Dan Crenshaw. You too, Jake. An absolute hoot!
This next clip needs a bit of context. And that context is this: Donald Trump is a gormless twit who would sell out an ally for a few extra gummy worms in his Sunday omelet. But there’s more. Trump still holds a grudge against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for siding with consensus reality after the 2020 presidential election instead of giving Trump’s raw-pork-and-Adderall hallucinations a fair hearing.
Here’s still more context, from Barak Ravid on Axios:
Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu were the closest of political allies during the four years they overlapped in office, at least in public. Not anymore. "I haven’t spoken to him since," Trump said of the former Israeli prime minister. "F**k him."
What he's saying: Trump repeatedly criticized Netanyahu during two interviews for my book, “Trump’s Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East." The final straw for Trump was when Netanyahu congratulated President-elect Biden for his election victory while Trump was still disputing the result.
In other words, Bibi betrayed Trump by acknowledging the actual winner of the 2020 presidential election, so the Israeli people should rightly be crying for Trump, not themselves.
Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” and Tapper asked her about Trump’s recent comments about Netanyahu and Hezbollah.
TAPPER: “Speaking of having Israel’s back, I want you to take a listen to what Donald Trump had to say about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a few days ago.”
TRUMP (VOICEOVER): “He has been hurt very badly because of what’s happened here. He was not prepared. He was not prepared, and Israel was not prepared. And under Trump, they wouldn’t have had to be prepared.”
TAPPER: “He went on to call Hezbollah, which the U.S. classifies as a terrorist group, very smart. He called the defense minister a jerk, and he went on and on. This was, I think, Wednesday, so four days after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. What was your response when you heard that?”
HALEY: “It’s why I continue to say it is time for a new generational leader. We’ve got to get past the headlines of the past. Look, he congratulated the Chinese Communist Party not too long ago. He’s saying Hezbollah’s smart. I can tell you, at the United Nations when I was there, and I dealt with all of them every day, you don’t go and compliment any of them, because what that does is that makes America look weak. It doesn’t make America look strong. It doesn’t make America have friends with them. What you do is you show strength, you let them know what we expect of them. So complimenting Hezbollah and going and complimenting the Chinese Communist Party, or criticizing a leader who has just watched so many of his citizens brutally murdered: It’s the wrong place at the wrong time. This isn’t about Trump. It’s not about him. It’s not about what happened in the past. We’ve got to look forward. This is going to be tough days ahead for everyone involved. This is not the time to sit there and bash a leader. This is the time to sit there and give him the support he needs, give the Israeli people the support they need, and to help us get through this in the best way possible.”
The most interesting part about that clip was not what Haley said, but the look on her face when Tapper asked her about Trump’s latest barmy blatherings. Yes, Nikki, this is your former boss. This is the guy you said you’d still vote for, even if he were convicted of multiple felonies. And here comes another question about his behavior. What is it this time? Did he say Hitler had some great ideas? Did he bury the body of a close relative in a McDonald’s Playland ball pit?
Oh, whew! We already knew about this one. He thinks Hezbollah rules and Netanyahu drools. Easy-peasy. Launching rehearsed talking points in 3, 2, 1 …
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Republican presidential candid-ish Ron DeSantis appeared on “Face the Nation” with Margaret Brennan to show the country how serious he is about all the issues and stuff. Unfortunately for Ron, Brennan had the temerity to mention a really weird thing he said in an ultimately vain attempt to make himself look even more rabid than Donald Trump. Which is essentially impossible, unless you literally have rabies. And even then it’s a pretty tall order.
As DeSantis attempts to peevishly squint his way into the Oval Office, he’s speaking with news outlets other than Fox News. Unfortunately for him, the non-MAGA media occasionally ask probing questions about off-the-charts-bonkers proposals the candidates have floated.
In this clip, Brennan asks DeSantis about his plan for shooting anyone who tries to cross the border while wearing a backpack.
BRENNAN: “You in the past have said you would authorize the U.S. military to go to the U.S. border and shoot cartel members. You told my colleague Norah O’Donnell, quote, ‘When somebody’s got a backpack on and they’re breaking through the wall, you know that’s hostile intent and you have every right to take action under those circumstances.’ Can you explain how that would work? Would a soldier have to ask his commanding officer for permission before he shoots anyone wearing a backpack, or is this just a blanket shoot anyone with a backpack?”
DESANTIS: “Well, first, cartels are invading this country and they are killing tens of thousands of our fellow citizens with fentanyl, and this is happening in communities all across our country. We have every right and duty to fight back against that. It’s typical how you would have with law enforcement or military. You define rules of engagement, they have positively identified somebody that’s hostile, either action or intent, and they engage. But we are going to engage. The days of our communities being ravaged by fentanyl are going to be over. Yes, we’re going to stop the invasion. Yes, we’re going to build the wall. We’re going to do all those things. We’ll deport people when they come illegally, but you have to hold the cartels accountable, and I’ll do that as commander-in-chief.”
BRENNAN: “Well, I think a lot of Americans would support that given how terrible fentanyl is, but in terms of a specific proposal here, how would you differentiate who’s a threat? How would you, say, shoot people wearing backpacks?”
DESANTIS: “Well, Margaret, when you’re down at the border, I mean, you see, like, the cartels will actually have lookouts where they’ll just bring people across. Yes, they will be carrying different types of ...”
BRENNAN: “But how do you know what’s in the backpack?”
DESANTIS: “Well, you have to make those judgments based on intelligence and all the other things that you do, but I can tell you this. Once you show the willingness to actually take this threat seriously, you are going to change their behavior. They’re eating our lunch at the border right now because we don’t do anything to fight back. That’s going to change on Jan. 20, 2025.”
Jeez, Margaret. This is just common sense. Or at least it seems that way when you’re talking to drunk dudes in “Fuck Joe Biden” hoodies at Toby Keith concerts. But now that you mention it, that applause line probably doesn’t translate all that well into actionable policy.
But here’s a quick rundown of the plan: If it’s a G.I. Joe backpack, shoot to kill. If it’s a Dora the Explorer school bag? Shoot the perp in the leg and ask questions later. Questions like, “What grade are you in?” and “Do you know how to make a tourniquet out of a used pair of Huggies?” See? Common sense!
Brennan did an okay job here, but more media members need to confront the zombie lie that immigrants are primarily responsible for America’s fentanyl crisis.
For the most part, fentanyl is being smuggled in by Americans, for Americans.
[T]he vast majority of illicit fentanyl — close to 90% — is seized at official border crossings. Immigration authorities say nearly all of that is smuggled by people who are legally authorized to cross the border, and more than half by U.S. citizens .... Virtually none is seized from migrants seeking asylum.
Sometimes fentanyl and other drugs are concealed inside tractor-trailers carrying loads of legitimate cargo into the U.S. More often, authorities say, it's hidden in passenger cars or on the bodies of pedestrians.
Of course, while promising to shoot migrant workers wearing backpacks full of trail mix and drinking water may help DeSantis close the yawning gap between him and Trump, it won’t do much—or really anything—to stop the regular inflows of fentanyl. But since when has drug interdiction ever really worked? Maybe it’s time to start exploring different approaches.
But wait! There’s more!
That’s it for now. See you next week! Hopefully the universe will have come to its senses by then.
Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.