For someone who loves politics as much as I do, it can be humbling to acknowledge just how bad I’d be at actual politicking. Then again, it’s fair to ask why anyone would want to be good at it. All that lying, glad-handing, and soul-corroding compromise has to take a toll eventually, and yet there’s a nearly endless supply of spurious skin bags who want to seize that mantle in order to influence our great and enduring (for now) American experiment.
And, to be clear, I’m not one of them—and never could be. As much as I’d like to make a Jobsian dent in the universe, I simply don’t have the talent for such things. On my best days, I have all the social grace of a saltine a drunk raccoon left out in the rain overnight. I put the “lose” in “recluse” (which is a singular accomplishment, since it isn’t actually there). I’m essentially Howard Hughes with a tiny fraction of the money and a marginally less tiny fraction of the urine jars.
So it’s particularly galling when I see people who do have these skills use them in the furtherance of evil. No, I’m not talking about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s appearing on “Fox News Sunday” with his wife, Casey, this week despite having the personality of a factory-irregular testosterone suppository.
I mean those other Republicans who clearly possess the gift of
grab gab but insist on using it to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. Say what you want about Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz—and there’s a lot to say about him—but the guy could actually be charming if he ever bothered to remove the Satan chip from his motherboard. And Kristen Welker, a talented broadcaster who ushered in her “Meet the Press” tenure last month by grabbing the USA by the Underoos and twisting like a New England saltwater taffy machine, could maybe stop watching with Marlin Perkins-like detachment as the antelopes (i.e., all of us) get their faces eaten off by hyenas. After all, we’re at fascism’s doorstep. It’s okay for a news broadcast to lead with the weather when a Cat 5 hurricane full of snakes and spent heroin needles is bearing down on the coast.
As one of Spider-Man’s relatives (it was either Uncle Ben or the radioactive spider) once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
All you erstwhile homecoming kings and queens have a great talent. You’re popular, and that’s a bankable commodity. Please don’t waste it on awkward fumblings in the backs of sedans with guys like Biff Tannen.
Okay, hoppin’ off the soapbox now—and right back into the mud.
Let’s roll, fellow nerds! (You cool kids are warmly invited, too. You’re at a Democratic site, so I know you’re using your powers for good.)
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We’ll get back to the villains in a bit, but first, Democrats actually want to make government work for the people instead of shrinking it to the size of a gerbil and drowning it in Donald Trump’s bathtub. (Ugh, can you imagine what Trump’s bathtub actually looks like?)
Congressman and future speaker Hakeem Jeffries joined Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” to propose a way out of the rolling disaster that is the Republican-led House of Representatives.
BASH: “Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney said, quote, ‘If the Republicans decide that Jim Jordan should be speaker of the House, there would no longer be any possible way to argue that elected Republicans could be counted on to defend the Constitution.’ Do you think Jim Jordan is fit to be speaker?”
JEFFRIES: “Well, it’s not my job at this moment to weigh in to the politics that have taken place in the House Republican Conference, other than to make clear that it’s time for the GOP to end the Republican civil war in order for us to be able to come together in an enlightened and bipartisan way to get things done for everyday Americans.”
Okay, that’s not the most dynamic answer. So let’s lift a few paragraphs from Jeffries’ recent Washington Post opinion piece, which argues for a sane and productive path forward.
House Republicans have lashed out at historic public servants and tried to shift blame for the failed Republican strategy of appeasement. But what if they pursued a different path and confronted the extremism that has spread unchecked on the Republican side of the aisle? When that step has been taken in good faith, we can proceed together to reform the rules of the House in a manner that permits us to govern in a pragmatic fashion.
The need to change course is urgent. Congress is in the midst of a Republican civil war that undermines our ability to make life more affordable for American taxpayers, to keep communities safe and to strengthen democracy. Traditional Republicans need to break with the MAGA extremism that has poisoned the House of Representatives since the violent insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and its aftermath — when the overwhelming majority of House Republicans continued to promote the “big lie” and voted not to certify the presidential election.
House Democrats remain committed to a bipartisan path forward, as we have repeatedly demonstrated throughout this Congress by providing a majority of the votes to prevent a government shutdown this month and avoid a catastrophic default on America’s debt in June.
Seems like a reasonable ask. “Say, let’s reform House rules so Matt Gaetz can’t screw our country over and over without even Venmo’ing it first.” And all Jeffries needs is “Republican partners willing to break with MAGA extremism, reform the highly partisan House rules that were adopted at the beginning of this Congress and join us in finding common ground for the people.”
He just needs to find a handful of reasonable Republicans! Shouldn’t be hard, right? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Right? *Wipes away tear* Ha ha ha!
Hoo-boy, are we ever fucked.
Did I say Matt Gaetz could maybe be charming if he, say, made evil a hobby instead of a full-time gig? Seriously. He’s not a terrible-looking guy. I always thought he looked a bit like a young Jack Nicholson—though, granted, only the version from the third act of “The Shining.” But still. Jack Nicholson. That’s not half bad.
Gaetz joined Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press” to explain why he irresponsibly set fire to the most valuable house in the country, and he claims there’s a plan and we’re watching it play out.
WELKER: “Well, that takes me to my next question, Congressman, because you led this effort to oust Speaker McCarthy without a clear replacement in place. Was that irresponsible on your part?”
GAETZ: “Well, not only do we have a clear replacement, we have two. We have two men who are incredibly respected ...”
WELKER: “But you don’t have a choice and it’s not clear either of them have enough votes.”
GAETZ: “Well, I think that in a two-man race, it’s a lot easier to get someone to 50% plus 1 than in a race where you have three, four, five, seven people. So the fact that it’s been a constrained race—you are watching the plan play out. And by the way, if we have a Speaker Jim Jordan or a Speaker Steve Scalise at the end of the coming week, there won’t be a single Republican sans maybe Kevin McCarthy who doesn’t believe we have upgraded the position.”
Uh, two clear replacements isn’t a “clear replacement.” It’s a mess. And since choosing between Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise is like trying to pick between John Wayne Gacy and an industrial wood chipper as the main stage entertainment for your daughter’s 4th birthday party, this could drag on for a while. Congratulations, Matt. It’s chaos you wanted, and it’s chaos you got.
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Sorry to bring the room down, but it looks like the world has yet another war to worry about. It’s deeply sad, terribly soul-crushing, and utterly senseless. So naturally Republicans rushed to politicize it.
The latest GOP
talking point brazen lie is that the $6 billion in Iranian money President Biden agreed to unfreeze as part of a prisoner swap deal helped finance Hamas’ attack on Israel.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” to debunk those predictable attacks.
BASH: “While we’re talking about Iran, I just have to ask you if you want to respond to what we’re hearing from Republicans, who are over and over since this happened using the word ‘appeasement’ when it comes to Iran and your administration. They criticize your decision to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian funds. I know and want to say that that money, according to your administration, has not yet been unfrozen. Iran does not yet have it. But the accusation is that … the administration’s posture toward Iran has helped contribute to this. I want to give you a chance to respond.”
BLINKEN: “Well, there are two things here. First, with regard to the funds that you mentioned that were made available to Iran for humanitarian purposes as part of getting Americans back who were being held and detained in Iran. Let’s be very clear about this, and it’s deeply unfortunate that some are playing politics when so many lives have been lost and Israel remains under attack. The facts are these. No U.S. taxpayer dollars were involved. These were Iranian resources that Iran had accumulated for the sale of its oil that were stuck in a bank in South Korea. They have had from day one … under our sanctions the right to use these monies for humanitarian purposes. They were moved from one account to another in another country to facilitate that use. As of now, not a single dollar has been spent from that account. And, again, the account is closely regulated by the U.S. Treasury Department so it can only be used for things like food, medicine, medical equipment. That’s what this is about. And by the way, the previous administration set up a very similar mechanism to enable Iran to use its oil proceeds that were blocked from various places or stuck in various places for humanitarian purposes. So people are either misinformed or they’re misinforming, and either way it's wrong.”
Well, you know Republicans. If they’re not lyin’, they’re not tryin’.
Though “appeasement” is a fun word. I’ve been hearing it a lot lately. Like, for instance, here:
Say what you want about those Lincoln Project folks, and I understand if you’re skeptical of them—they are Republicans, after all—they know how to make a video.
How does one segue from a war in the Middle East to a skirmish inside GOP Rep. Nancy Mace’s head? One doesn’t, I suppose. One simply rolls the clip.
Mace joined Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation”—and this happened:
BRENNAN: “I know you’ve been outspoken about defending victims of sexual assault. Do the past allegations against Jim Jordan that he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse give you any reservations? How do you explain that?”
MACE: “Yeah, I’m not familiar or aware with that. He’s not indicted on anything that I’m aware of, and so I don’t know anything and can’t speak to that ...”
BRENNAN: “It’s the Ohio State University allegations.”
MACE: “Yeah, I don’t know anything, and I don’t know anything about that. What I do know is that I’ve been a very strong voice for women. I’ve talked to Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise about that. I’ve been a very strong advocate for rape victims, as you mentioned earlier. The Judiciary Committee with him as chairman recently passed a rape kit bill that Barbara Lee and I are working on, and those are the facts and the data that I have to work with, and I’ve had a very positive experience with him in that regard.”
Okay, first of all, since when does being aware of indictments matter to Republicans? That’s new.
Also, what the fuck? There’s essentially no chance Mace isn’t aware of the allegations against Jordan. After all, there’s not much to know about him. If you know he likes to take off his suit coat at hearings and that he can’t be fed after midnight, you know about the Ohio State stuff. She’s almost certainly lying.
Anyway, as of Sunday morning, Mace still fully supported Jim Jordan’s bid to be the next House speaker. Something tells me she’ll remain steadfastly unaware of the allegations against him until at least after the vote.
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But wait! There’s more!
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.