Category Archives: Politics: The Party of Sleaze

Evil Leads in Race vs. Crazy But Paralysis Still in First Place

Steve Scalise

Source: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It seems a narrow majority of the House GOP conference has plumped for ultra-rightist but somewhat establishment Rep. Steve Scalise over ultra-rightist bomb-thrower Rep. Jim Jordan as its choice for Speaker of the House–an office the Washington Post recently called ‘the worst job in Washington’.

But it also seems as though there currently are enough House GOP rebels to prevent Scalise from having the necessary 217 votes to get elected over Democratic opposition. So we remain in a state of paralysis while Gaza burns and Ukraine hangs in the wind. The chances that Scalise would cut a deal with Democrats to get elected, pass a budget, seem remote.

When looking for culprits for this state of affairs, in addition to the obvious do not forget the American campaign finance system, which allows unlimited dark money in federal campaigns, and the increasingly gerrymandered districts in so many states in which partisan majorities work to create as many safe seats as they can.  If fewer districts are competitive, there is no incentive to tack to the center, nor to work with the opposition.  Indeed, any sign of cooperation becomes a dangerous trait, as it leads to primary opponents.

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Read it and Prepare to Weep

The proposed rules for the new session of the House of Representatives are something else indeed.

Yes, they do the headline stuff you likely heard about, but there are real devils in the details.

At least one of the changes is a good one: requiring 72 hours advance notice for spending bills instead of dropping giant documents on members with a take-it-or leave it vote.

Another change sounds good in principle, but is in fact warped to be only unhelpful.  And it is likely to be a disaster in practice.  In principle the idea of allowing any member to propose floor amendments to spending bills is a good thing. Unfortunately, the practice got corrupted by political posturing well over a decade ago. At one point, then-minority Republicans seized on the amendment process to propose various amendments designed not to succeed but cause painful sound bites for vulnerable Democrats (“Smith voted against controlling spending on {whatever} TEN times”).  Others started introducing rafts of amendments mainly designed to create delay. So the leadership of both parties started either rationing or eliminating amendments.  That’s not very democratic, and returning to ‘regular order’ might in theory be good, although the weaponization of amendments is sure to return.

The real evil here, though, is that only amendments cutting spending will be allowed.  Any amendment raising spending without an off-setting cut will be ruled out of order.  Since the new leadership also contemplates returning to the practice of having multiple spending bills divided by subject matter, I’m guessing that it will not be possible to, say, propose more money for childcare at the expense of military spending on golf courses because those come in different bills.  Even if cross-subject offsets are possible, it means that every bill that comes to the floor in effect will be a ceiling on expenditures.

The rule sets up lighting consideration for two concurrent resolutions: “(H. Con. Res. 4) expressing support for the Nation’s law enforcement agencies and condemning any efforts to defund or dismantle law enforcement agencies”  and “(H. Con. Res. 3) expressing the sense of Congress condemning the recent attacks on prolife facilities, groups, and churches.”

The rule also creates lightning procedures – no amendment, little debate – for some pet projects (hypocrisy anyone?) such as bills to allow more oil leases, cut appropriations to the IRS designed to reduce tax cheating by rich people, “(H.R. 7) to prohibit taxpayer fund-ed abortions,” and so on.

And then there are the witch hunts.  A Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic would be a great idea if it were not to be stuffed with people who think Dr. Fauci is the devil.  A Select Committee on the “Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party” just sounds weird–isn’t the competition with the People’s Republic, not the CCP? A Select Subcommittee (of the Justice Committee) on the “Weaponization of the Federal Government” — this will be Jim Jordan’s revival of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, now with more classified documents and a bonus helping of Congresspersons who are being investigated for crimes doing their best to muck up the investigations.

Fun times a-coming.

Update: Neglected to mention the trashing of the (already quite tame) House Office of Congressional Ethics.

Posted in Politics: The Party of Sleaze, Politics: US | 1 Comment

Two Local Congressmen Among Die-Hard Trump/Insurrectionist Enablers

Let it never be forgotten that Carlos Gimenez and Mario Diaz-Balart voted to sustain the objection to accepting and counting Arizona’s electoral votes — well after the mob invited and incited by Trump smashed their way into and looted the Capitol.

By this vote Gimenez and Diaz-Balart signaled their support of Trump, or the mob, or both. In so doing they forever sullied their records as legislators, as patriots, and as decent human beings. In the case off Gimenez, he achieved this distinction in his first week on the job, a very dubious achievement.  Diaz-Ballart has been in Congress on and off since 2002. Time for off again.

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Signs and Portents

No, I’m not referring to birds falling out of the sky, nor to the hellish coloration of California last week.

I’m thinking of Trump’s amazing descent into full-throated fascism and even eugenics. If you follow just one link in this post, follow that one. There is no low so low we cannot go lower.

I’m thinking of this ad — which is apparently not a parody other than perhaps a self-parody — for Sen. Kelly Loeffler, in which her spokesperson brags that  Loeffler is “more conservative than Attila the Hun”; the ad then cuts to Loeffler’s idea of Attila ordering a minion to “attack big government” — and concludes with his order to “eliminate the liberal scribes”.

In this context, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s spineless about-face on Supreme Court nominations seems almost banal.

Update: and now I can’t tell if this fake focus group introduced by Triumph the Insult Comic Dog is a real fake, or a fake fake where everyone is an actor. I really hope they are actors.

Posted in Politics: The Party of Sleaze, The Scandals | 2 Comments

A Very Illuminating Chart

I knew there was a big difference, but not this big:

It’s even more striking when you consider that historically the FBI and other federal law enforcement bodies were strongly Republican. And in my lifetime, the GOP has made much more noise about ‘law and order’ too.

And of course we can reasonably expect the Trump number to balloon…

Posted in Politics: The Party of Sleaze | 3 Comments

Random Fact

Maryland has no statute of limitations for attempted rape, according to a web page at RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network):

I mention this à propos de rien.

Posted in Law: Criminal Law, Law: The Supremes, Politics: The Party of Sleaze | Comments Off on Random Fact