Longtime political observer Doyle McManus pointed out in a column for the Los Angeles Times, that the Republican leadership is finding itself trapped in a corner by the more extreme elements in the party — from far-right GOP lawmakers who excuse and /or deny violence and conservative voters who see no problem with it.
With Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) excusing and supporting the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6th and Rep. Andrew S. Clyde claiming the insurrectionists were merely “tourists,” Republicans are now confronted with the optics and reality of being the party that condones violence. Republicans refusing to take a firm stance against political violence is not a good sign for a party that just lost the Senate and the White House, insist McManus.
The problem is that a substantial number of the GOP’s most fervent supporters have said they are fine with the use of force to hold political power.
McManus points out that a significant chunk of the party’s most fervent supporters doesn’t think the insurrection was damaging or wrong, and they illustrate the GOP’s malfunction. At a time when the party needs every vote it can muster, it can’t risk alienating loyal supporters, even if they embrace violence. A survey by the conservative American Enterprise Institute after the riot in January, shows that 56% of Republicans agreed that the traditional (white) American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it. It’s these voters that are holding the party hostage as they try to woo voters back after four years of Trumpism.
The same poll reveals, 79% of Republicans said they still had a favorable view of Trump — and 36% said ‘very favorable.’ That consensus has made GOP politicians fearful of crossing Trump or questioning the actions of his most zealous supporters, including the Jan. 6 criminal insurrectionists. Republican officials in both Georgia and Arizona, where Trump is still agitating to reverse the election results, say their families have been physically threatened by Trump’s supporters.
Republicans are trying to tiptoe around a fundamental problem: Their candidate lost a presidential election, but he not only refuses to accept the voters’ verdict; he wants his party to ‘fight’ to restore him to power. They want to move past the embarrassment of Jan. 6, but that’s not going to happen, because face it, they are the party that condones extraconstitutional violence!
Dumbass SenatorTommy Tuberville gave a revealing comment about his opposition to legislation that would establish a commission to study the Jan. 6 insurrection, which has already passed the House of Representatives. The Alabama Republican said that he can’t support the commission “until they make it bipartisan.” WTF?
When the comment was shared on Twitter, Tuberville rightly became the subject of mockery. In the short time since he won his first election in 2020, he’s become known for making dumbass obtuse comments — including the revelation that he didn’t know the three branches of American government. His new comment is similarly ridiculous, because the commission he’s discussing is absolutely bipartisan in every meaningful sense. It will be split evenly between Republican and Democratic appointees, who jointly share subpoena power. It was the result of bipartisan negotiations. And it won bipartisan support in the House, with 35 Republicans along with all the Democrats voting in its favor.
Tuberville’s comment is patently ridiculous — the commission is already bipartisan, so if his answer were honest, he should already support it.
It was a revealing answer nevertheless. It clarified just how disingenuous the opposition to the commission has become among Republicans. Because while other Republicans gave excuses for opposing the commission that were less ham fisted than Tuberville’s, they were, in truth, just as much contrived BS.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, for example, cooked up the bizarre concern that precisely because the commission requires bipartisan support to issue a subpoena, it will allow Democrats to leak when any subpoena fails to get approval, thus casting aspersion on the target. This explanation for opposing the commission is just as phony as Tuberville’s because surely Rubio wouldn’t want a commission where Democrats could unilaterally issue subpoenas. The only conclusion can be that he won’t support a commission at all, even though he won’t admit it that straightforwardly.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins has raised concerns that the commission will extend its work into 2022 — even though the legislation specifically calls for it to be done by the end of 2021 (a condition some argue makes the investigation too truncated.) There’s no good reason for limiting the timeline so dramatically, but Republicans fear that the commission’s work could impact their party negatively in the 2022 election. Of course, they had no qualms when Attorney General Bill Barr suggested he might release a report on the investigation into the origins of the Russia probe in the run-up to the 2020 election.
Rubio and others, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have suggested that the existing investigations into Jan. 6 are sufficient and that the commission is unnecessary. But this explanation doesn’t track, either. The Justice Department investigations are about the crimes that were committed, but they aren’t designed to examine non-criminal behavior that might have contributed to the attack or to share broader lessons about the events as a political matter for Congress and the country. Specific investigations about security failures at the Capitol are important, but they won’t have subpoena power or address the threat to democratic stability. And existing investigations within congressional committees are, in fact, controlled by sitting elected Democrats, so they won’t have the independence, bipartisanship, and authority that the commission would have.
The fact is this: Republicans can’t say what they really think, which is that they don’t want a commission because they’re not concerned with finding bipartisan solutions to the violence, authoritarianism, and anti-democratic sentiment that their party has cultivated and now stands for.
“The Republican Party has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s,” the Never Trumper conservative Tom Nichols laments. “I can already hear the howls about invidious comparisons. I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes.”
In the late 1970s, Nichols explains, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union — under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev — was “a spent force” run by “party ideologues” who stubbornly clung to Marxist-Leninist dogma. Brezhnev’s cronies, Nichols recalls, considered him a “heroic genius.”
“Members of the Communist Party who questioned anything, or expressed any sign of unorthodoxy, could be denounced by name, or more likely, simply fired,” Nichols notes. “They would not be executed — this was not Stalinism, after all — but some were left to rot in obscurity in some make-work exile job, eventually retiring as a forgotten ‘comrade pensioner.’ The deal was clear: pump the party’s nonsense and enjoy the good life, or squawk and be sent to manage a library in Kazakhstan. This should all sound familiar.”
Just as the Marxist-Leninist ideologues of the late 1970s rallied around Brezhnev, Nichols argues, the Republican Party of 2021 is rallying around Trump.
“Falling in line, just as in the old Communist Party, is rewarded, and independence is punished,” Nichols observes. “The anger directed at Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger makes the stilted ideological criticisms of last century’s Soviet propagandists seem almost genteel by comparison. At least Soviet families under Brezhnev didn’t add three-page handwritten denouncements to official party reprimands.”
The Soviet Communist Party didn’t collapse in 1978 or 1979, but it did collapse in the early 1990s — even Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost reforms of the 1980s couldn’t save the Soviet Union, which no longer exists. Modern-day Russia is now ruled by a right-wing authoritarian, President Vladimir Putin, and embraces crony capitalism and corporate oligarchs rather than communism. And according to Nichols, the Republican Party of the United States is, like the old Soviet Communist Party, terminally ill.
But the more marginal the GOP becomes in the months ahead, Nichols predicts, the more dangerously authoritarian it will become.
“A dying party can still be a dangerous party,” Nichols warns. “The Communist leaders in those last years of political sclerosis arrayed a new generation of nuclear missiles against NATO, invaded Afghanistan, tightened the screws on Jews and other dissidents, lied about why they shot down a civilian 747 airliner, and, near the end, came close to starting World War III out of sheer paranoia. The Republican Party is, for now, more of a danger to the United States than to the world. But like the last Soviet-era holdouts in the Kremlin, its cadres are growing more aggressive and paranoid.”
In 2021, Nichols laments, the GOP has passed the point of no return and can only sink deeper and deeper into the abyss.
“Another lesson from all this history is that the Republicans have no path to reform,” Nichols writes. “Like their Soviet counterparts, their party is too far gone. Gorbachev tried to reform the Soviet Communist Party, and he remains reviled among the Soviet faithful to this day. Similar efforts by the remaining handful of reasonable Republicans are unlikely to fare any better. The Republican Party, to take a phrase from the early Soviet leader Leon Trotsky, should now be deposited where it belongs: in the ‘dustbin of history.'”
Deb Haaland, seeking to make history as the first Native American to hold a cabinet secretary position in the US, has weathered a torrent of hostile questioning from Republicans during her confirmation hearing as secretary of the interior.
In a striking opening statement, Haaland, a member of Congress for New Mexico, said “the historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say that it is not about me”, adding that she hoped her elevation would “be an inspiration for Americans, moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us”.
A Laguna Pueblo member, Haaland, 60, said she learned about her culture from her grandmother’s cooking, participating in traditional ceremonies, and learning about the importance of protecting the environment from her grandfather. Haaland said “our climate challenge must be addressed” but conceded that fossil fuels will play a role in the US for “years to come”.
Haaland is considered a progressive on the climate crisis and has previously spoken out on the impact of fossil fuel development upon the environment and Native American tribes, positions that Senate Republicans were keen to attack during a sometimes-contentious confirmation hearing.
John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, criticized Haaland for a tweet from October 2020 in which she stated that “Republicans don’t believe in science”. Barrasso, who has previously incorrectly said the role of human activity in climate change is “not known” and that ambitious climate action in the form of the Green New Deal would mean “cheeseburgers and milkshake would become a thing of the past”, said the tweet was “concerning to those of us who have gone through training, believe in science, and yet with a broad brush, we’re all disbelievers”.
Haaland responded to Barrasso, a surgeon, saying that “if you’re a doctor, I would assume that you believe in science”. Scientists have repeatedly said that the US, and the rest of the world, needs to rapidly reduce planet-heating emissions from fossil fuels in order to prevent disastrous heatwaves, flooding and societal unrest associated with runaway climate change.
The early exchange set the tone for more than two hours of questioning where Republicans repeatedly assailed Joe Biden’s decision to pause oil and gas drilling on federal lands as calamitous for jobs. As interior secretary, Haaland would oversee the management of lands that make up nearly a third of America’s landmass, including tribal lands.
At times the questions were extremely pointed, with Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, asking Haaland: “Will your administration be guided by a prejudice against fossil fuel, or will it be guided by science?” Importantly for the chances for Haaland’s nomination, Joe Manchin, a Democrat who represents the coal heartland of West Virginia, said that he wanted to see the “evolution not elimination” of coal mining.
Haaland said that “we want to move forward with clean energy, we want to get to net zero carbon” but also struck a conciliatory note with her questioners. The nominee said that changes to energy use “are not going to happen overnight” and that she looked forward to working with the senators. At one point when Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, asked why she supported a bill protecting grizzly bears – Haaland responded: “Senator, I believe I was caring about the bears.”
Haaland had to repeatedly correct Republicans who said Biden had scrapped, rather than paused, oil and gas leases but acknowledged her role as a progressive champion would have to change somewhat if she were confirmed. “If I’m confirmed as secretary, that is far different role than a congresswoman representing one small district in my state,” she said. “So I understand that role, it’s to serve all Americans not just my one district in New Mexico. I realize being cabinet is very different, I recognize there is a difference in those two roles.”
During later questioning, Haaland raised the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic upon native Americans and raised concerns over tribes such as the Navajo being subjected to polluted water. In a response to a question from the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders about the opening up of an area sacred to native Americans in Arizona to mining, Haaland said she would “make sure that the voice of the tribal nation is heard on the issue”.
Haaland’s nomination has been vigorously supported by environmental and Native American groups as a landmark moment to confront the climate crisis while addressing widespread inequities experienced by tribes.
Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the steering committee for the Gwich’in people in Alaska, said that Haaland is a “visionary leader who knows we must protect places sacred to the American people like the Arctic national wildlife refuge.
“Our way of life, our survival is interconnected to the land, water and animals. Today we honor the woman set to be the first Native American in history to fill a presidential cabinet position, and look forward to working with her to ensure that indigenous voices are heard and our human rights respected.”
Trump and the Republican’s continuing efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and create an insurgency, so they can seriously milk it, roll on.
Trump is backing the last-ditch dead-ender lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which seeks to throw out the election results in four key swing states.
Trump’s dumb ass filing with the Supreme Court states, quote, “Our country is deeply divided in ways that it arguably has not been since the election of 1860,’. So, leave aside the circular logic of decrying division when he is the one stoking it. But that reference to the election of 1860: You know why the country was divided by that election? Because Abraham Lincoln won fairly and slave states were pissed about that and they seceded and there was a civil war.”
Observers marveled at the fact that Trump’s own legal team was seemingly equating President-elect Joe Biden with Abraham Lincoln and the Trump administration with slaveowners.
We think it’s probably sort of a good thing that the Republican fascism and racism is finally out in the open for everyone to see, like we always have
The hard-hitting Joy Reid of MSNBC opened her show on Saturday morning by calling out Donald Trump for turning his overseas trip — which included attending the G-20 conference — into a fanboy “groveling” tour to meet with his new best friends, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jong-un.
In a commentary dripping with sarcasm, the MSNBC host pointed out the extraordinary fact that former President Jimmy Carter recently slammed Trump and claimed that his presidency is illegitimate.
Former President and real Christian Jimmy “Carter’s absolute rebuke came on the same day Donald Trump had his first face-to-face meeting since the end of the Russia investigation with Vladimir Putin,” Joy explained. “A meeting at which Trump once again publicly defended him and even joked about needing to warn Putin not to attack our election again.”
Joy Reid translated: “Message please, sir: please help me by attacking the election again,” she mocked Trump. “Right now President (“Kleptocrat”) Trump is in South Korea for meetings with President Moon, who is not a dictator, so Trump will probably not grovel.”
“What Trump wants is a photo-op with murderous dictator Kim Jong-un; tweeting a plea to please come hang out at the DMZ. Please come spend time and take selfies, and Trump bragging about the possibility of such a meeting this morning,” the MSNBC host added.
Noting that Trump told reporters that the murderous North Korean dictator appears to follow him on Twitter, Reid ridiculed the leader of the free world for his giddy excitement, smirking, “Oh my god! He follows me on Twitter. Will there be friendship bracelets?”
Air Traffic Controllers & Pilots: “we cannot even calculate the level of risk…nor predict the point at which the entire system will break”
Unions that represent U.S. air traffic controllers, pilots, and flight attendants sent out an alarming joint statement on Wednesday warning that the ongoing federal government shutdown—at 33 days, the longest in history—has caused a situation in which they “cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play” and is “unconscionable.”
“We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines and the traveling public due to the government shutdown,” the presidents of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), and Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) wrote. “This is already the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States and there is no end in sight. In our risk-averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented.”
The unions wrote that air traffic controllers, security and law enforcement personnel, safety inspectors, FBI agents, and “many other critical workers” have been working for over 30 days without pay at a time when air traffic control staffing is already at a 30-year low. They added that controllers can only “maintain the system’s efficiency and capacity” by working unpaid overtime, sometimes involving 10-hour days and six-day workweeks and that the shutdown of Federal Aviation Administration training facilities will create a backlog in new hires.
With 20 percent of fully certified controllers eligible to retire, they added, many may choose to leave their jobs and leave the National Airspace System “crippled.” But there is a short-term danger as well, they warned:
The situation is changing at a rapid pace. Major airports are already seeing security checkpoint closures, with many more potentially to follow… Last Saturday, TSA management announced that a growing number of officers cannot come to work due to the financial toll of the shutdown. In addition, we are not confident that system-wide analyses of safety reporting data, which is used to identify and implement corrective actions in order to reduce risks and prevent accidents is 100 percent operational due to reduced FAA resources.
The “air safety environment” is “deteriorating by the day,” the unions concluded, asking Congress and the White House to “take all necessary steps to end this shutdown immediately.”
According to the New York Times, as many as one out of ten transportation security officers have not shown up to work at times, and airlines “are losing more than $100 million a month in revenue” as travelers have become concerned about wait times and safety. Earlier this month, the Washington Post wrote that 24,000 FAA employees deemed vital for “life and safety” were working without pay, while another 17,000 had been furloughed.
New York Magazine wrote that the president of the AFA, Sara Nelson, called for a “general strike” by labor unions—though stopped short of calling for one specifically by aviation workers.
There’s some history there: In 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired 11,500 of nearly 13,000 striking air traffic controllers, citing a 1978 law prohibiting federal labor strikes. According to ABC News, for many personnel the incident is “seared into their memories,” and striking federal workers “could face prosecution and even jail time.”
However, NATCA-Fort Worth Center president Nick Daniels told ABC News that air traffic controllers “take great pride in that weight that they carry on their shoulders for that job” and would be reluctant to have the U.S. public “pay for this government shut down.”
Some reports on Wednesday suggested that Trump’s administration is prepared to let the shutdown—which, again, is about the president’s demand that Congress authorize $5.7 billion for his ridiculous border wall or some kind of face-saving wall-like object—extend into March or even April. That could result in catastrophic effects on everything from food stamp availability and federal courts to failure to pay government leases.
A panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. went off the rails on Saturday after one speaker blasted the Republican Party and organizers of the major annual gathering of conservatives.
Comments made by Mona Charen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, at Saturday’s CPAC panel titled “#UsToo: Left out by the Left” were relatively conservative—she criticized the modern feminist movement and argued for more traditional male and female gender roles.
But Charen quickly lost the Republican audience when she turned her attention to the Republican Party for enabling and excusing candidates accused by many women of harassment and assault.
“I’m disappointed in people on our side for being hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women who are in our party, who are sitting in the White House,” Charen said, noting the accusations against President Donald Trump, “who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women. And because he happens to have an ‘R’ after his name, we look the other way, we don’t complain.”
She also went after CPAC itself, saying the conference’s organizers should be ashamed for inviting far-right French leader Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the niece of anti-immigrant French leader Marie Le Pen and granddaughter of Nazi apologist Maréchal-Le Pen.
“The Le Pen name is a disgrace,” Charen said. “Her grandfather is a racist and a Nazi.”
She continued: “The fact that CPAC invited her is a disgrace.”