We’ve Got More BS Than Shovels

Josh Marshall writes,

Over the last couple days I’ve read a dozen or more articles and newsletter briefs which describe the purported political disaster that is the Biden classified documents issue, then explain how it bears no comparison to the ongoing Mar-a-Lago scandal and then note that the difference and lack of comparison actually don’t matter because that’s how it is. Punchbowl runs through a list of Democratic lawmakers who are barely willing to make the distinction in public, let alone defend the President from the adverse comparisons. The headline of this Dan Balz column perhaps sums it up most nicely: Biden, Trump cases aren’t alike. The political system doesn’t care.

Most recently, Republicans are expressing outrage that there are no visitor logs for President Biden’s private home. Do presidents ever keep visitor logs for their private homes? Did Trump keep visitor logs at Mar-a-Lago while he was president? Did anyone ever ask for those logs, even now? And didn’t Trump try to shield his White House visitor logs so that the J6 committee and anyone else could not see them? My goodness, yes he did! Josh Marshall continues,

The deputy editor of the Post opinion section goes so far as to say that the Biden documents “should spell the end of any realistic prospect of criminal charges against former President Donald Trump” and lauds this as a wonderful thing since such charges would have been terrible for the country. Arrrghghghghg.

Indeed. That deputy editor is David Von Drehle, whom I met years ago and who seemed a good person, but this is stupid. This is what Von Drehle wrote:

Politically, Trump is a dead man walking. He has lost the ability to drive the news cycle. His outlandish social media posts fall as silently as unheard forest trees. His declaration of his next campaign produced a yawn worthy of another run by Ralph Nader. As drum major of a wackadoodle parade, he marched through the Republican primaries last year, delivering candidates who bombed in the general election. Now no one marches to his tune. When he tried to influence the election of a House speaker, even the surviving zealots ignored his instructions. …

… To be indicted and hauled into court for history’s most heavily publicized trial would invigorate Trump, and the spectacle would galvanize his dwindling base of support. He’d go from grumbling irrelevance in the gilded prison of his Mar-a-Lago mausoleum to ring master of a circus trial that would dominate every news outlet.

One, although Trump is politically diminished, he’s far from dead. But that shouldn’t matter in a courtroom. Two, if he isn’t destroyed, what’s to keep some future despot from taking the same liberties? This stops now.

The real issue here is not about which incident of document mishandling is worse. We know that already. The real issue, as Josh Marshall says at the end of his post, is that the news media and political establishment have decided that the American people are too stupid or too dishonest to understand the difference between Biden’s documents and Trump’s documents. No, most of them aren’t that stupid, but they need the difference explained to them. And it needs to be explained every time the issue comes up, because not everyone tunes in to multiple news sources every day. I’ve seen a lot of television news stories about this that doesn’t point out the difference at all.

Jake Tapper has pissed me off many times in the past, but here in this podcast at least he’s giving it his best shot in exposing GOP Rep. James Comer as a partisan hypocrite for investigating Biden’s documents issue after saying that Trump’s documents issue wasn’t a priority.

Another thing that the Powers That Be have decided the people are too stupid to understand are debt ceilings. House Republicans plan to hold the debt ceiling hostage to force spending cuts, while pretending they are just trying to get spending under control. And, of course, defaulting on loans you’ve already taken out is not usually considered a legitimate spending cut strategy. John Light writes at TPM,

Republicans have periodically taken the debt ceiling hostage as a bargaining chip, threatening the full faith and credit of the U.S. and raising the possibility that a government on which the world’s economy relies might default on its debt. To justify such a maneuver, Republicans habitually conflate the budgeting process — in which Congress decides what it will spend money on — with the debt ceiling, which allows the administration to borrow money to cover expenses largely made up of funds Congress has already appropriated.

Bacon, a McCarthy ally in his recent speakership fight, leaned into that conflation, telling ABC that “the mission we’ve given is to control reckless spending, which has been not the only contributor but one of the main contributors to inflation.”

The hope, for Republicans, is that Americans will share their party’s seeming confusion about just what is going on here. Rep. James Comer (R-KY) went there too, claiming in a separate interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday that “Republicans were elected with a mandate from the American people in the midterm elections. We campaigned on the fact that we were going to be serious about spending cuts. So, the Senate is going to have to recognize the fact that we’re not going to budge until we see meaningful reform with respect to spending.” 

But the Biden Administration has said, in effect, it’s not going to negotiate with hostage takers. This makes the hostage takers sad.

“When President Biden says he’s just going to refuse to negotiate with Republicans on any concessions, I don’t think that’s right either,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) in an interview with ABC This Week on Sunday.

“I want our side to negotiate with the Democrats in good faith,” he said later in the interview. “But President Biden has to also negotiate. He can’t say he refuses to negotiate.”

No, he doesn’t. Republicans have tried this trick too many times. Democrats seem to be united on this. No negotiation, no conditions. Steve Bennen writes,

Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz recently articulated the party’s position using even more direct language.

“In exchange for not crashing the United States economy, you get nothing,” Schatz said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “You don’t get a cookie. … You’re just a person doing the bare minimum of not intentionally screwing over your constituents for insane reasons.”

So we’ll see who blinks.

11 thoughts on “We’ve Got More BS Than Shovels

  1. I'm waiting for the following modern day fable to be written about today's RepubliKKKLAN Party:

    "The (White) Boys Who Cried 'Debt Ceiling' Too Often!"

    Having said that, these Nihilists in "respectable RepubliKKKLAN cloth coats*) are KKKray-KKKray (as the kids say) enough to tank the US economy – and, by extension, the entire world's economy!

    *Today, no cloth coats for the GQPers.

    Only fur, to piss off the libtards and PETA types!!

  2. People need to understand we are being boiled alive by power money hungry Facists.

    Companies are threatened for being too woke: Rs are afraid of liberals whether they are voters or business. Business has always enabled the republican party if they lose that it is worse than losing voters.

    They are punishing cities for disagreeing with them(nashville).

    They are threatening school systems with dissolution because they want to privatize to make money and indoctrinate the next generation.

    They have the scotus in their pocket and the court system is barely hanging on.

    Women have already lost their right to life in half the states. And they are busy making it illegal to help them.

    We are losing control of public school s and teachers and librarians and election workers are targeted and laws are already passed to jail them.

    Theocracy is well heeled and organized to establish itself in law. 

    This isn't a possibility, it is reality now. This is not rehearsal.

  3. First, re Biden v Trump in the documents scandal(s)….  They are different and separate. Strip away the noise and the message (phrased sometimes as a question) Unless you first jail President Biden, you can't charge Trump. The cases do not involve the same documents. The infraction(s) did not happen at the same location(s). They did not happen at the same time. They do not involve the same people. It does not appear that Biden's infractions were deliberate. With Biden (so far) there's no indication of deception or obstruction.  But I'm not sure there's no crime – but it's legal malpractice to consider the validity or criminality relative to the other case. They're different.

    In contrast, a group of Proud Boys were tried together because the people, planning, communication and actions overlapped. It was deemed by the court to be a conspiracy. Stop treating the two cases like they are linked. 

    I'm not thrilled with National Archives in either case. Classified stuff is checked out and nobody's responsible for tracking it. The local public library has better control over anything I borrow than NA has over Top Secret materials. Biden's lawyers just stumbled onto the first batch (and handled it the right way.) National Archives has never indicated with confidence that they knew what Trump had run off with. If this stuff is important enough that the government does send people to jail for mishandling it, the government has to do a better job of IDing what's classified and knowing who has a copy, where, and when it's due back. 

    Biden was there when the Tea Party shut down government under Obama's watch. (2013)  Obama's handling was textbook perfect. Obama warned the GOP House if they did it, the blame would fall on them, and BO made sure it did. For the three people who read my drivel, take note: Boehner blinked when GOP popularity was tanking. He brought funding up for a vote AGAINST the will of the Tea Party, worked with Democrats and re-opened government. THAT is why it took 15 rounds to elect McCarthy – they extracted a promise that McCarthy can NOT go against the 20 terrorists if/when ratings for the GOP plummet. I still see major flaws in the goal of the terrorists to hold this together.

    The hostage-taking is not a "mandate".  The twenty who opposed McCarthy are 5% of the House. The House is only half the Congress. To become law, the President has to sign the bill. This is NOT the tail wagging the dog – it's a few hairs on the dog's tail trying to wag the dog. 

    Speaking of dogs, that's the metaphor to use to explain the dynamics; "I have your dog. He's pooped on my lawn for the last time. I've ordered an expensive spite fence which you will pay for entirely or I'll return your dog slowly and in pieces. You will get his left ear tomorrow unless you agree to good-faith negotiations. I want your full cooperation and a willing agreement from you. "

  4. Best I can tell the Biden document "scandal" is nothing more than the WH press corp feeling left out? What the fuck was Biden supposed to do, call them all one by one with updates? The press is alot like the GOP, they say the "American people" have a right to know when what they really mean is why didn't you tell us first. It's all just chattering class butt hurt. If Trump gets charged (doubtful) it won't be for possessing classified documents it will be for obstruction. The only thing Biden is obstructing is the corporate media's ability to get the story first.

    "“In exchange for not crashing the United States economy, you get nothing,”

    The way I see it the GQP is not interested in budget cuts, spending or any other issue. They see the economy chugging along with low unemployment and lowering inflation and that just won't work for them in 2024. They want to destroy the economy, it's the only way they get lil-donnie back in power. They tried the same thing when Obama was president. They know the sideshow investigations will do little to hurt Biden as long as the economy is performing well. Plain and simple this has nothing to do with dept, budgets, it's all about 2024.

  5. Perhaps the GOP got all huffy about the [admittedly stupid] phrase "Defund the Police" because it doesn't go far enough.  The version they prefer is "Defund Government".

  6. The R brand has gone bad, and they are hoping for some way to revive it.  Doing more inane things is the wrong approach.  It is like they are trying to spend political capital they don't have and rely on trust that they already squandered.  Political redemption does not result from poor political theater.  Especially when their theater is a rerun of previous flops.  Who wants another production of Dystopia Revisited? 

  7. An implicit facet of the extortion is the admission that the GOP can't win a free and fair majority of the House, Senate, and White House. If they believed they could prevail in 2024, hostage-taking would not be necessary. The GOP has failed or underperformed in the last three elections. Trump's pitch in 2016 was that it was worth trying someone from completely out of the beltway system. What harm can it do?

    A million-plus died of Covid, and much of it is the fault of the administration for treating a pandemic as a political problem. In terms of criminal convictions, Trump is worse than Nixon, if not in total convictions, Trump pardoned many of the crooks who were directly impeding every investigation of the truth. (That's Stone and Flynn. Manifort was a different breed and a tool of the Russians.) And Trump is talking about mass pardons for the J6 insurrectionists. 

     If Trump wins in the primary, he will lose in the general. If DeSantis is 'allowed' to run in the primary, Trump will demand the GOP machinery oppose and reject the governor of Florida under the threat of splitting the party if Trump does not get his way. (Trump believes he HAS to win to stay out of jail.) The RNC won't even pretend neutrality. McCarthy is in Trump's pocket. DeSantis has the backing of Fox, a powerful card. Evangelicals are moving away from Trump and toward DeSantis. 

    I don't see that the outcome(s) in the House and Senate in '24 are as relevant as whether the GOP can survive as a political force. Period. The Trump criminal trials may split conservative-leaning voters into two camps: 1) those who accept facts and evidence as presentend in courts of law to juries drawn from pools of average voters OR 2) those who decide – deliberately – that they are living in an evidence-based world and can't accept the MAGA deceptions. I do NOT see these as two poles at the far ends of conservatism. These will be two incompatible teams who hate each other more than they hate progressives. 

    Unlike the Whigs, the Trump party will not go away. They will elect fire-breathing bigots to the House. But not many. The GOP, if they become the party of sane conservatives will do 'better', but with the Trumpsters trying to regain power, they will be in the minority. How does the GOP get back in the game? Work with Democrats to marginalize the Trumpsters. Reduce their influence in every election. Next, the sane Republican party has to attract moderate voters – I'd predict they'd become advocates for women and for immigration reform. ERA and Dreamers. Granted this is speculative but if the GOP became socially liberal/moderate that leaves progressives a lot of room to move left. 

    There's things I'd like to see before I die. Maybe I'll see the US lead in real climate action, acting as a steward of the planet instead of the primary rapist of Mother Earth. Women's rights enshrined in the Constitution.  A wall of separation between big money and OUR government. This is a possible outcome if the Trumpists are rejected and shunned politically by sane conservatives working with Democrats. Then, progressives would have to stay true to their values, resisting temptation. 

    This is where we are: "The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail to the ruin of all." J.R.R. Tolkein

  8. A bit wonkish but IMO, an illustration of the shape of the enemy out to take down democracy. Especially interesting is the subset described under "some people want to see the world burn." A phrase I've used and others smarter than me saw. A smaller group (20 in the House) is quite willing to create chaos regardless of the consequences because they might be able to grab power in the disorder. The larger group within the GOP is willing to try the tactic until/unless it's failing. (GOP popularity dropping.) The smaller group does not care – they intend to run the plan into the ground.The default in the National Debt will have real consequences but the dynamic is that in a jumbo jet with over 400 passengers, only 20 are suicidal and a simple majority can take back control of the plane. Rad and apply the numbers yourself and see if you come to the same conclusion.

    https://digbysblog.net/ –  "We have met the enemy…"

  9. I can easily imagine the whole mishandled classified documents thing has happened possibly many times in the past, but was simply never newsworthy; more in the nature of "hey we found these and realized they needed to be handed over to you guys", "Yeah thanks, we'll take care of it".  Except for the occasional spy, National Archives has probably been very historically accustomed to dealing with mature reasonable rational responsible adults with a strong sense of routine obligation and proper duty, regardless of political affiliation.  Newsworthy only now because of Donnie Small Hands' petulant childish hoarding and refusal to do any effing thing other than stroke his own ego.  And the media has an incessant compulsion to "Both Sides" the hell out of any and every political topic at every opportunity. 

    And I suspect the R most likely to have a man date is Matt Schlapp.


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