Yesterday the House passed a weird CR that kicks the can down the road a bit, past the holiday season at least. I am optimistic the Senate will pass it also, but you never know. Mike Johnson had to resort to the same tactic that got Kevin McCarthy axed as Speaker, which was to leave spending levels alone and get the thing passed with Democratic votes. Because there was no other choice.
The Freedom Clown caucus is furious as well as utterly obvlivious to the public outrage that would have fallen on their heads were the government to shut down right before the holiday travel season. Word is that the clowns are not planning to oust Johnson — yet — but they are thinking of gumming up the works in other ways to get revenge.
One tactic under discussion is the same one they used against McCarthy after he struck a debt deal they hated: holding the House floor hostage by tanking procedural votes.
“There is a sentiment that if we can’t fight anything, then let’s just hold up everything,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), one of several frustrated Freedom Caucus members who has huddled with the speaker multiple times this week.
If this were a ball game, they aren’t exactly taking the ball and going home. It’s more like they plan to just sit in the outfield and refuse to play.
And then yesterday was brawl day at the Capitol. Chris Hayes has highlights. The best part was when Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) tried to pick a brawl with Teamsters President Sean O’Brien and Bernie Sanders had to tell him to sit down.
Someone yesterday — it may have been Chris Hayes — commented that Republicans have given up on persuasion. They know only how to try to get their way by bullying, temper tantrums, and resorts to violence. For example, Marjorie Taylor Greene has been campaigning to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas because she doesn’t like his policy decisions. Which, of course, is not what impeachment is for. It somehow doesn’t occur to her that the House could, in theory, draft laws directing the Administration to handle border security differently. Indeed, as I understand it the past several administrations have more or less been winging it on the border in the absence of clear direction from Congress. And, frankly, if you were to sit MTG down and ask her to write the border policy she wants into a bill, I doubt she could do it, because she’s a moron. What she’s doing really is grandstanding for the cameras.
But it occurred to me also that the clowns can’t do persuation because their policy preferences are not based on facts or reason. For example, cutting the IRS budget is a top priority with them. One assumes they have wealthy benefactors who are pushing for this. Otherwise, it makes absolutely no sense. The Congressional Budget Office keeps trying to tell them that cutting the IRS budget would lead to a big loss in federal revenue and a net increasse in the budget deficit, but the clowns are not listening. Or they don’t care, because their reasons for cutting the IRS budget have nothing to do with saving money. Which is why those reasons must remain unspoken, I assume.
The clowns want draconian cuts in safety net programs. If you ask why, they will tell you something about forcing people to be more self-reliant and not depend on government. But that’s the excuse, not the reason, since they can’t demonstrate that cutting those programs would cause the steady jobs and affordable housing that weren’t available before to magically appear. The reason is that they want to punish the poor for being poor, especially the nonwhite poor. Why that is so must have something to do with ugliness deep in their own ids. It’s not something that can be expressed to make it sound benevolent.
And if there really aren’t fact-based, compelling reasons for your position, how can you possibly persuade others who don’t share your biases to agree with you? What else can the clowns do but bully, throw tantrums, and threaten violence?
The problem for House Republicans is that they have a majority in name only. They are fractured against each other, the Freedom Caucus versus most of the rest of them.
In other news: I am having a hard time keeping up with the gag orders and which ones are supposedly active versus on hold pending appeal. See Donald Trump’s Comments Could Land Him in Jail: Ex-White House Lawyer and Jack Smith Cites Medieval Murder as He Seeks Donald Trump Gag Order, both at Newsweek.
In more other news: See Senate Dems take major step towards ending Tuberville’s military holds at Politico. Unfortunately there is little the Dems can do unless nine Republicans are willing to vote with them.
Update: This just happened — Trump’s lawyers filed a motion for mistrial in the New York fraud case.
The motion for a mistrial centers on his increasing annoyance with Allison Greenfield, an attorney who serves as the judge’s right hand legal adviser—and one who has repeatedly shut down the billionaire’s attempts to stymie the New York Attorney General’s investigation and delay tactics in court. Now that Engoron has issued gag orders preventing Trump from directly attacking her and court staff—a restriction that he has since expanded to include Trump’s legal team from also engaging in ferocious personal insults against her—defense lawyers are now crying foul.
“This appearance of bias threatens both Defendants’ rights and the integrity of the judiciary as an institution,” they wrote in court papers, claiming that “Greenfield’s unprecedented role in the trial and extensive, public partisan activities, would cause even a casual observer to question the court’s partiality. Thus, only the grant of a mistrial can salvage what is left of the rule of law.”
The request is, of course, up to Engoron himself—who isn’t likely to side with the very attorneys who have spent weeks trying to gin up drama in court in an attempt to relitigate the entire affair on appeal in New York state’s higher courts.
Trump must be terrified out of his wits that he’s going to lose his New York properties.
Update: RIP Zandar.