From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:
They won’t even talk about it. Not any of them. Not a single Republican senator even voted to debate a voting-rights bill sent to the Senate by the House for the purposes of providing a national remedy to the massive national effort to suppress the franchise, particularly that of inconvenient minority voters who no longer count as far as the Republican Party is concerned. Even to debate the bill would have required 10 Republicans to support the motion to proceed to debate, and you might as well have required the votes of 10 elves or 10 lords a-leaping. If you took 10 Republican senators at random, you might be able to piece together a single human conscience. Maybe.
But I had to see this vote to believe it anyway. Forget the universal franchise. The Republicans are obviously opposed to universal citizenship. Welcome to 1961, and don’t forget to count the beans in the jar correctly.
And make no mistake, the entire Republican Party is behind the program to restrict the franchise through the vehicle of fanatic conservative majorities in state legislatures, the same fanatic conservative majorities in state legislatures that are calling for these fraudulent “audits” in order to reinforce the Big Lie about the 2020 election. There are no Republican dissenters on this point. Neither Rep. Liz Cheney nor Rep. Adam Kinzinger voted for this bill when it came before the House of Representatives. So they now are investigating the most violent manifestation of the conservative Republican assault on elections—and therefore, on voting rights—and railing against the Big Lie that inspired it, but they voted against any national remedy to the more powerful national movement to make any future “Big Lies” unnecessary. The next time around, nobody will have to break a sweat getting to Washington to break windows and risk jail time. Some state legislatures far from Capitol Hill will take care of the required vandalism—and do it under color of law.
Coincidentally, and coincidence is our only solace these days, a story has emerged thanks to rookie Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. Hard to believe a former football coach would give away this much of the playbook, but Tuberville shared with the Washington Post this amazing tale about the events of January 6. Apparently, while the mob rampaged through the Capitol, and while most of their Republican colleagues were hunkered down in a conference room, Tuberville became part of a rump caucus in a storage closet in which several Republican senators tried to devise a plan by which they could give the mob what it wanted.
Inside the storage closet, a bunker within a bunker, surrounded by stacked furniture, the senators weighed whether the mob’s demonstration of loyalty to Trump that day might affect their own.
“There were 12 of us gathered to talk about what happens now [and] where do things go from here,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). The mood was “very heavy,” remembered Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.). “I do remember saying we have to pull the country together,” said Lankford, “We are so exceptionally divided that it’s spilling into the building.”
Lankford was perfectly willing to consider voting against certifying the results of a free and fair election as long as the subversion of democracy came without a casualty count. What a moderate fellow he is. And, god bless him for being in way over his head, Tuberville added the punchline.
“I didn’t really listen to them,” Tuberville said about the closet colloquy.
(Note: don’t read any further, because the piece goes to great length to explain what a fine fella “Coach” is, and how comfortable he is becoming with being a senator and how much everybody is coming to like him. Alabama traded Doug Jones for this guy. Yeesh.)
On Tuesday night, independent Senator Angus King of Maine took to the floor of the Senate to plead for the voting-rights bill. King, who in the shebeen is known as The Mustache of Righteousness, put the issue into stark relief.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that we are at a hinge of history, that circumstances have thrust us—those of us in this body—into a moment when the fate of the American experiment hangs in the balance. We are the heirs—and trustees—of a tradition that goes back to Jefferson and Lincoln, to Webster, Madison, Margaret Chase Smith, and, yes, our friend John McCain. All were partisans in one way or the other, but all shared an overriding commitment to the idea that animates the American experiment, the idea that our government is of, by, and for the people, all the people. Now is the moment to reach beyond region, beyond party, beyond self, to save and reinvigorate the sputtering flame of that idea.
Yes, democracy is an anomaly in world history and what we have is fragile; it rests upon the Constitution and laws to be sure, but it rests even more so on the trust our people place in our democratic system—and in us.
Listening to King, I thought I was listening to the aging Rep. John Quincy Adams, railing against the “gag rule” that prevented the House of Representatives from hearing petitions that mentioned slavery. Bad things result when legislatures in a republic deem issues too dangerous to talk about.
Make no mistake. There is no point in investigating—or even condemning—the events of January 6, or the Big Lie, if you’re not willing to confront the greater threat to democracy being mounted in dozens of states. This effort inevitably will result in a Trumpian president who will not trip over his own shoelaces. But the Republicans in the Senate, the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, chose not even to debate the issue. They’re all still in the storage closet, patting each other on the back.
From The Hill:
“Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday,” Trump said in a statement.
Trump called Powell “a classic RINO,” an acronym for “Republican in name only.”
“He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!” Trump added.
From The Daily Beast, by Margaret Carlson:
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan has seen Greg Abbott’s insane coronavirus vaccine mandate ban and raised the Texas governor seven more deadly diseases, tweeting that “Ohio should ban all vaccine mandates.”
It’s disturbing but not surprising that when the Republican Party is having a race to the bottom, someone’s going to scrape it. It’s no surprise at all when that someone turns out to be Jordan, who thinks rolling up his shirt sleeves when the cameras are on marks him as Everyman, albeit one who’s been accused of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse during his former career as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University.
It’s awfully quiet inside Jordan’s head, without the clanging from Republicans who are OK with every other vaccine but dead set against mandating this one to help stop the spread of a disease that’s still killing nearly 2,000 Americans a day for the simple reason that their base hates anything elites want, no matter how sensible or helpful. He’s resolved the dilemma by objecting to all of them.
Fortunately, Jordan’s words were just that, and responsible parents all over the Buckeye state had already delivered their children to the first day of classes fully immunized against polio; measles, mumps and rubella; chickenpox; hepatitis B; meningococcal disease; and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, as required by its its health department.
Still, it was enough for Jordan to claim the rhetorical lead in the wild competition among red-state officials to take the most radical position possible. But one reason Jordan is talking so wildly is that unlike many of his rivals who have real power, he only has Twitter.
There’s South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who found time to push through her daughter’s real estate appraiser’s license when she wasn’t encouraging 500,000 bikers to come to Sturgis for 10 days of partying and superspreading. And Abbott, whose favorable rating in Texas has fallen to the mid-40s as he faces a re-election campaign next year and who has already lost most of the women in greater Houston and Dallas with his vigilante-enforced ban on abortions after six weeks.
Abbott has to actually do some governing, and so his position is a little less crude, sufficiently revolting to appeal to the “you’re not the boss of me” crowd while at least trying to remain flexible enough to repackage himself later for general consumption. To that end, he insists he likes the COVID vaccine, don’t get him wrong, but he won’t let government tell people what to do—unless of course they’re women who need to end a pregnancy. So he says President Biden “invaded” the Lone Star state with a vaccine mandate and the governor is only trying to protect Texas from that.
It’s a position that puts him on the other side of companies like American Airlines, which welcomed a push from Washington to help get its employees immunized and said outright that Abbott’s order “does not change anything” for it. Fortunately for Abbott, the world’s biggest airline is too big to move its massive fleet of 737s parked at its longtime hub in Dallas-Fort Worth or the thousands of employees in the state where it’s headquartered. But watch him become more nuanced should Exxon-Mobil, McKesson, or AT&T make noises. At least he’ll always have Tesla, even if the electric carmaker is an odd fit for a state in many ways defined by the oil and gas industry.
Not to be outflanked by his governor, Sen. Ted Cruz falsely claimed that the Southwest Airlines meltdown that stranded thousands of travelers was caused by pilots who refused to abide by the Biden vaccine mandate, an assertion with no basis in fact according to the carrier’s CEO and the FAA. What does Lyin’ Ted, who fudged bailing to Cancun during his state’s freeze-out, care about facts if he can own the libs for a news cycle?
The worst COVID-incited turmoil is at the local level, where the havoc anti-vax and anti-mask politicians is wreaking has turned so violent that the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to the president deeming the clashes at school board meetings akin to “domestic terrorism.” With videos of parent-on-parent and school official brawls pouring in, Attorney General Merrick Garland told the FBI to recommend ways to address the violence.
Immediately, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell shot back that Garland’s memo doesn’t reflect what he’s seen at school boards meetings, which raises the question what news he’s watching. He should tune in to the testimony of Florida’s Brevard school board member Jennifer Jenkins describing her life. She disagreed with a resolution to curb parent participation at meetings. What she’s asking for is protection from parents menacing her and her family outside meetings, brandishing weapons at her house, and “following me around, saying that they’re coming for me, that I will need to beg for mercy.”
It gets worse. Someone made “a false DCF [Department of Child and Family Services] claim” against her, she said, and since all such reports have to be followed up on, she had “to take a DCF investigator to her [daughter’s] playdate to go underneath her clothing and check for burn marks.”
A false report to child protective services anywhere is a crime, and if Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey weren’t such a staunch Republican and friend of former President Donald Trump, he might investigate this one as such. Meantime, Jordan and the other Republicans who routinely go on TV to dismiss the flames they’re fanning in no small part with their pandemic pandering should stop puffing themselves up with stories of brushing off their own harassment as they walk through airports and ask themselves if they’ve ever endured having a child strip-searched because a political adversary accused them of abuse.
That, Jenkins clarified at the end of her testimony, “is what I’m against.”
Not McConnell, who summarized his opposition to the AG’s memo by describing what’s happening as “democracy, not intimidation,” a new chapter in defining deviancy down as practiced by former Vice President Mike Pence. He recently downplayed Jan. 6, when Trump supporters weren’t actually looking to lock him up but to string him up, as just “one day in January” that the media supposedly wants to distract the public with.
We no longer live in a country where there’s agreement on what constitutes the common good. It’s two decades since half the country told Gallup we were on the right track, and longer still since 600 children died in the early days of the polio vaccine but parents still followed the science and lined up their offspring for the immunization until iron lungs all but disappeared.
If Jim Jordan would roll down his sleeves—he can since he’s had his shots, like most of his GOP colleagues—and stop making absurd pronouncements, the same will someday be true of ventilators.
Satire from The New Yorker, by Andy Borowitz:
PALM BEACH (The Borowitz Report)—Donald J. Trump will skip the 2024 campaign and go straight to claiming that he won, the former reality-show host has confirmed.
Speaking to reporters, Trump said that campaigning in 2024 would be “a waste of time, quite frankly, because I have already won that election.”
Asked how he could have won an election that is not scheduled to occur for another three years, he said, “People are saying that it already did happen. A lot of very smart people are calling me and saying that.”
Trump said that, although he already won the 2024 election, “there was fraud and corruption like you wouldn’t believe.”
“The 2024 election was so stolen it makes the 2020 election look not stolen,” he said. “The fact that I won in 2024 even though it was stolen from me is amazing, and, quite frankly, fantastic.”
Trump lashed out at a reporter who asked if he planned to run yet again in 2028. “I already won in 2028,” he said. “That’s a stupid question and you’re a disgrace.”
From The New York Times, by Michael S. Schmidt:
The Saudi royal family showered Donald J. Trump and his entourage on his first trip abroad as president with dozens of presents, including three robes made with white tiger and cheetah fur, and a dagger with a handle that appeared to be ivory.
Little that followed went right.
A White House lawyer determined that possession of the furs and dagger most likely violated the Endangered Species Act, but the Trump administration held onto them and failed to disclose them as gifts received from a foreign government.
On the last full day of Mr. Trump’s presidency, the White House handed them over to the General Services Administration — the wrong agency — rather than the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which seized the gifts this summer.
At that point, there was a surprise.
The furs, from an oil-rich family worth billions of dollars, were fake.
“Wildlife inspectors and special agents determined the linings of the robes were dyed to mimic tiger and cheetah patterns and were not comprised of protected species,” said Tyler Cherry, a spokesman for the Interior Department, which oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington declined to comment.
It is unclear if the Saudis knew about the fake furs or were deceived by a supplier, but Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an expert on Saudi-U. S. relations, called the gifts highly embarrassing.
“The two most important things for them is to look like they’re aboveboard world actors, and are rich and show their wealth,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump did not return several messages seeking comment.
Satire from The New Yorker, by Andy Borowitz:
AUSTIN (The Borowitz Report)—In a judicial decision that has stirred controversy in the Lone Star State, Texas has been temporarily forced to recognize women as humans.
The incendiary decision, handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman, enables women to “come out of the shadows” and be granted rights similar to those enjoyed by other humans in Texas.
In an emotional press conference, the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, called the judge’s decision to confer human status on women “a dark day in the history of our great state.”
He warned that the state could face mass immigration from women “once word gets out that Texas considers them equivalent to human beings.”
“The voters of Texas did not put me in office to allow women to be treated as humans,” he said, choking back tears. “As long as I can draw a breath, this will not stand.”
From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:
Hang around politics and you manage to see all manner of human sycophancy, stuff that makes Uriah Heep look like Jeremiah Johnson. Some of it is tactical. Some of it is cowardice. And some of it comes as naturally to certain people as breathing. This is all to remind you that Mike Pence was once one clogged coronary artery away from the White House, and, to attain that exalted position, he apparently made a deal by which he has to suck up to El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago until one or both of them is dead. From the Washington Post:
“I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration’s failed agenda by focusing on one day in January,” Pence told Hannity. “They want to use that one day to try and demean the character and intentions of 74 million Americans who believed we could be strong again and prosperous again and supported our administration in 2016 and 2020.” …Pence has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2024.
Mike, there’s no chance. Take your bust in the Capitol. You get one, the same way Teddy Roosevelt, LBJ, Dick Cheney, and Charles Dawes do. Even Spiro Agnew has one, although you really have to look hard for it. That’s your thin slice of history. Well, that and the fact that a mob stormed the Capitol announcing its intention to hang you. That was sort of a first.
I will grant you that the former president* rescued you from the remainder bin. You were a massive failure as governor of Indiana, and you left with an approval rating below freezing Fahrenheit. You were as done as a steak at St. Elmo’s. Then along comes this freak tornado, and it whisks you off to grifter Oz for four years. Maybe you owe something to that memory and maybe you don’t, but if you’re still having second thoughts about what you did in the Senate chamber in January—or worse, feeling guilty about it—please seek help.
And, what the hell, you have no chance at any Republican nomination for anything, because that mob now runs the party, and you committed the unpardonable offense of doing your constitutional duty and certifying the actual winner of the election. You have to know this. Do not ask for whom the beast bays. It bays for thee.
Texas’ secretary of state on Thursday announced its office was reexamining the results in the counties of Dallas, Collin (which includes part of the city of Dallas), Harris (where Houston is located), and Tarrant (where Fort Worth is located) only hours after the release of a letter from Trump to Abbott calling for an audit in Texas. Trump said: “Let’s get to the bottom of the 2020 Presidential Election Scam!”
Abbott on Sunday said the timing of Trump’s letter had nothing to do with the decision to perform audits.
“They actually began months ago because the secretary of state of Texas has an obligation to make sure that we do conduct audits in the state of Texas,” Abbott told host Chris Wallace.
Trump won Texas by more than 600,000 votes.