I Have a Few Questions…

Let’s start with the question raised above by journalist Ronald Brownstein. What the hell are we seeing in the People’s House?

OK. We know twenty Insurrectionists and/or Big Liars are holding the Republican caucus hostage. The world is watching the House of Representatives at a standstill. The not-so-merry band of do-badders who’ve promised to shut down the government over the debt ceiling are showing their mettle ahead of schedule.

And we know that Kevin McCarthy would make a terrible Speaker. As former Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki observed: “Politics 101: Don’t call for a vote when you don’t have the votes.”

So a man who is demonstrably already a failure at his job continues to give away more and more of the store to a group that hates him and wants to ransack the store at every opportunity.

I’m not asking why McCarthy would continue to humiliate himself. This hollow man sold his soul to the Insurrectionist-in-Chief immediately after January 6th, and he’s too vain and dense to either realize or care what his obsessive power grab is doing to our country. And since he’s been negotiating against himself for days, it doesn’t look as though that gavel will have much heft if he even secures it.

McCarthy, who perhaps thought he was showing trumpian defiance by moving all his stuff into the Speaker’s office before the first vote, has already agreed to between thirty and thirty-eight rules changes (not all bad) and promises that include:

  • Get rid of the metal detector that was preventing the likes of Boebert and Greene and who knows who else from packing heat in the august chambers from which most of the current members fled for their lives on January 6, 2021;
  • Give five–no, we’re now down to one (!)–representative the power to recall the speaker at will, ensuring that even if he somehow squeaks through at this point, McCarthy definitely shouldn’t unpack the cartons in the Speaker’s office.
  • Gut the Office of Congressional Ethics–because who needs that these days?

“Progress” with the faux-populist folks who promised to “drain the swamp” seemed to have been made before Thursday’s votes showed even this wasn’t enough:

Agreement between McCarthy’s fat cat PAC and the PAC from the right-wing Club for Growth that they wouldn’t interfere with each other’s support of candidates. The Club for Growth likes to throw a heap of money at far-right candidates like the current anti-McCarthy group.

This was a win for the Dark Money swamp-dwellers who want no IRS, no consumer protections, no regulations to interfere with their businesses, no voting rights, no functioning government–and for the anti-government warriors disguised as legislators right there in the swamp, eager to accept their Dark Money to do their bidding.

A group calling itself the Conservative Action Project, which includes Justice Clarence Thomas’s best friend and wife Ginni Thomas and others who want a government-free, whiter, more Christian Nationalist America, signed a letter in support of the “20 courageous members of Congress seeking to change the status quo in Washington.”

You can see how high the stakes are in this battle for the Speaker’s gavel.

So here are my next questions:

Why would those Republicans the press continues to call “moderates” or “conservatives” still be standing behind McCarthy at this juncture? How do they envision accomplishing any actual governing?

Who could replace McCarthy and gain the support of enough of these “moderates/conservatives” to gain the magical 218 votes?

And would that individual be forced to honor all McCarthy’s promises to the Insurrectionists-in-Charge?

Seventeen former military officials who are now Republican legislators expressed their concern about the damage the Insurrectionists were doing to their party and the country–specifically, our national security.

I thought of them when I saw this tweet from Democratic Representative Jason Crow, a veteran who had helped his colleagues when more than three dozen of them were trapped in the House balcony during the Insurrection:

Thinking about the Anti-National Security minority of Republicans controlling events, I pose my admittedly far-fetched last question:

What would it take for just six of those seventeen former military Republicans who registered outrage toward their intransigent Insurrectionist colleagues to put duty and country before party and vote accordingly?

In this response to a reporter’s question, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who was unanimously elected to lead the Democrats’ often fractious caucus, demonstrates the stark difference between a party governing well for the good of Americans and one that has descended into chaos.

As we commemorate January 6, 2021, it will be important for all Americans to keep this distinction in mind. We are in for a rough two years in which our fragile democracy will continue to be under attack. The majority of Americans did not vote for chaos and extremism, and we must remind our elected officials that we will not tolerate anything less than serious governing in our behalf.

Annie

32 thoughts on “I Have a Few Questions…

  1. It’s a mess. I don’t see how the Republicans can ever resolve this purely among themselves. Any other non-lunatic-fringe candidate will suffer the same fate as McCarthy — the twenty-plus flaming nutballs will reject him no matter what concessions he makes. Any candidate loopy enough to win the support of the Boeberts and Gaetzes will be unacceptable to some number of the relative moderates now supporting McCarthy. Nobody is going to get to 218 votes out of that caucus. The Republican majority is too narrow and the crazies are too intransigent.

    If at some point some Republicans approach the Democrats and ask them to help elect a compromise candidate, the Democrats should tell them, “Hakeem Jeffries has gotten 212 votes in every round so far. If six or more Republicans switch their votes to him, the House will have a speaker and this fiasco will end. That’s the deal, take it or leave it.” If they won’t take it, that’s their problem. They’ve already shown they can’t run anything properly. With a Republican speaker the mess will just continue endlessly. If one or even five members can file a motion to remove the speaker, it’s going to be happening constantly and disrupting whatever they do manage to do. And they’ve already made it clear that they have no intention of trying to pass constructive legislation, just indulge in endless posturing “investigations” and maybe an impeachment or two. With Jeffries as speaker, the Democrats plus even a tiny number of Republicans willing to play ball could form a de facto majority and the House will be able to do its job.

    Aside from those seventeen ex-military, there are eighteen House Republicans who represent districts where Biden got a majority. It should be possible to peel off six or so, if the failed speaker voting drags on long enough. Those members have every incentive to avoid enabling the crazies.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. On this day and directly to this topic the wife has hung a sign over the microwave “Three Wise Men…….are your serious?
      Not a likely place for a budding Diogenes to find a person of principle or six. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Former Republican Rep. David Jolly, who had said he was sure McCarthy would fail in his efforts, watching the odds for the hollow man improve: “It’s remarkable how much currency you have when you stand for nothing.”

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Infidel: At the moment—3:50 pm ET—McCarthy appears to be close to snagging an impotent Speakership tonight. We’ll soon learn the extent of damage that’s been done to governmental functioning through this ugly process. The fact that Ginni Thomas’s group isn’t getting their way is small comfort, as there’s no reason to think their influence has been reduced. But there’s always the hope that the R’s inability to function will lead to defections in the near future.

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      1. Yeah, he may have done it, though it’s not a done deal yet. I can’t help but think it’s not going to be that easy, though. McCarthy couldn’t have won over so many of the Gang of Twenty without making concessions that a lot of the mainstream Republicans will be unhappy with. And he’s made it so easy to force a vote to remove the speaker that almost every time he does anything that any member seriously objects to, they’ll have to go through this whole thing again.

        Oh, well, the politics junkies will certainly have something to keep them occupied for the next two years.

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      2. I am most concerned about this far right takeover of the House, Infidel. I think the “politics junkies” will be essential to keeping Americans aware of what’s going on. Our functioning may well depend on a handful of Rs who remained silent and watched as a sniveling coward promised traitors he’d do their bidding.

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      3. Yep, he finally (barely) got it. Things got pretty heated among them, though, and he’s earned the contempt of some and the enmity of others, while weakening the position. The next couple of years are going to look like Game of Thrones with more boring outfits.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Your last line is quotable, Infidel. I’d say he’s done far worse than weakening the position. He’s ensured the continuation of this chaos. I heard one Republican say he plans to vote against the rules package. A few more, and that would be “good chaos” to paraphrase John Lewis. If these Insurrectionist rules are adopted in toto—and the Freedom Caucus gains control of the Rules Committee, for example—we’re in dangerous territory re: budgets, Ukraine, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I think there will be a lot of “good chaos” (along with plenty of bad, of course). A couple of points I think are important:

        1) The less-wacky majority of Republicans — the ones who voted for McCarthy right from the start — have now seen that their loyalty was rewarded by their interests being ignored, while the Gang of Twenty were intransigent, made outlandish demands, and refused to budge, and were rewarded by getting every concession they could have wanted. Every Republican has now learned that playing hardball with McCarthy and making extreme demands is the way to get results. The ones more amenable to working with Democrats have learned that along with the others. They’ll play hardball with him too.

        2) The Gang of Twenty spent days denouncing McCarthy as totally unacceptable, declaring they’d never vote for him in a million years, etc, but then eventually most of them gave in, due to offers of power and perks and, perhaps, pressure behind the scenes. Remember that when the big fights like the debt ceiling come along. These guys talk tough, but when you get right down to it, they can be bought. They can be pressured.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I’ll always opt for an optimistic view, Infidel. Your comment reminded me that the intransigents had made it clear they don’t trust McCarthy bc he promises one thing and does another. Perhaps the less radical Rs are counting on him to “lead” in this manner. We’ll know more next week, when the vote on the new rules package is held. I suspect tons of amendments will be offered (if that’s possible).

        I found the image of McCarthy leading them all in their oath to the Constitution both infuriating and heartbreaking.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I’m reminded of a saying from one of the ancient Greek philosophers which seems relevant here. He said, if a group of good men and a group of evil men are contending with each other for supremacy, which group is more likely to prevail? Superficially it might seem that the group of evil men have the advantage, since they will use any tactic likely to work, no matter how immoral or treacherous. But in fact, given that that is their nature, they will also behave immorally and treacherously toward each other, and so will never be able to trust each other or work together as effectively as the group of good men will. So the latter actually have the advantage.

        I think it’s obvious how this applies to the situation in Congress.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s not only the twenty who are responsible, but also the many who voted for them and the hundred other Republicans insurrectionists-elect who more or less share their anarchist views.

    Why would those Republicans the press continues to call “moderates” or “conservatives” still be standing behind McCarthy at this juncture? They expect to hold influential positions in the 118th Congress.

    How do they envision accomplishing any actual governing? Few Democrats or Republicans expect much other than “must pass bills,” if that.

    Who could replace McCarthy and gain the support of enough of these “moderates/conservatives” to gain the magical 218 votes? Seemingly no one.

    And would that individual be forced to honor all McCarthy’s promises to the Insurrectionists-in-Charge? Yes, that has been conceded and won’t be taken back.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am an anarchist! 🙂 Responsible is a personality trait.
      These 20 and their supporters are the opposite of that. They wanted it broke, they succeeded in breaking it, they are celebrating in their success and defying anyone to fix it. Totally irresponsible!
      Infidel is quite right in the ease of repair but you are likely right in that it will not be repaired.

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  3. It is a mess. Re Jefferies as speaker though a good idea, I was wondering Annie if you an have a Democrat speaker of the house if they don’t have a majority – ie. is there anything in the rules that says the speaker must come from the majority party?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, Joni. The Speaker is whoever gets a majority (half plus one of those present). We must hope that a handful of Rs will side with the Dems on important issues. We’ll know soon, when they vote on these new rules. Though a few are good, some will hamstring governing in dangerous ways.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was up late, and it was certainly a wild session, but I’m glad in a way it was finally decided so I don’t have to listen to again on Monday. Time will tell I guess…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Annie….but my mother listens to CNN most of the time, and I have to admit since I’ve been staying here more, I do too! I’m a night owl, so the tv is on quite late, and if I’m reading and it’s on in the background and I hear something interesting I go and check it out. I do find American news and politics more interesting than Canadian.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. As I write, the 14th vote has left McCarthy short by only one vote, as two people voted “present”, lowering the needed threshold. McCarthy has bargained away that which was NOT his to bargain, and he will pay a price, but the highest price will be paid by We the People, for it is our future that he is playing his greedy games with. He will, no doubt, prevail either tonight or over the weekend, and he is the lesser of evils among the likes of Jim Jordan and Andy Biggs, but that’s a low bar. The only saving grace for this nation is that we have a wise, intelligent president and the Senate is not in the hands of the crooks and liars as the House is.

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    1. McCarthy’s “victory” sets the stage for a repeat of this week’s struggle again and again for two years. In particular, the idea that a 435 member parliament can operate like a rural town hall meeting is silly

      Liked by 2 people

      1. No doubt you are right about that! I foresee the entire next two years being a series of speakership votes with one after another being installed, then evicted. And we are paying them to put on this three-ring circus!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. All true, Jill. But his concessions include some very dangerous giveaways that will cripple government. (Biggs and the like would never have received a majority—it took a sellout with no principles to gain this hollow “victory”). We must now hope for a sudden sprouting of spine among some of those who’ve quietly participated in this debacle—knowing they’ll never be re-elected in two short years if they allow the dismantling of government to continue.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are quite right … he gave away what wasn’t his to give, and we will all pay for his perfidy. I don’t think there will be a ‘sprouting of spine’ amongst them. They have stopped caring, if they ever did, about honouring their oaths or about the people of this country. They don’t realize they are hurting themselves in the long run, but they are short-sighted and concerned only with the immediate, the short term. The best outcome from all of this is that they may have been given enough rope to hang themselves in 2024.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Possible, but the entire Republican Party seems to be afraid … afraid to cross Donald Trump. Still, I hope your hope is realized … and before mid-summer when the debt ceiling is reached!

        Liked by 1 person

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