Friday Talking Points -- GOP White Supremacist Caucus Forms

[ Posted Friday, April 16th, 2021 – 18:13 UTC ]

Some Republicans have apparently decided that political dog whistles are just no longer even necessary. After the bombast of Donald Trump, they're now quite comfortable just openly saying exactly what they mean -- no matter how racist it might be.

We refer to the formation of a new congressional caucus: the "America First Caucus." Normally, this wouldn't be all that big a deal -- just some group of extra-Trumpy GOP members getting together to figure out what their Dear Leader would want them to do in Congress. But their founding document was leaked, and it goes a wee bit further in laying out the founding principles of the new caucus. Here are their first few paragraphs on immigration, for instance:

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Full Court Press

[ Posted Thursday, April 15th, 2021 – 16:07 UTC ]

Democrats in both the House and Senate just unveiled bills to increase the size of the Supreme Court from its current nine members up to 13. The motivation behind this is obvious: Democrats see two out of the three Supreme Court justices Donald Trump got to appoint as being totally illegitimate. First, Barack Obama was denied a pick because Mitch McConnell got all sanctimonious about a brand-new "tradition" he made up out of whole cloth: "the voters should have a say" in such decisions. This cuts completely against what the United States Constitution actually says, but whatever. Second, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, McConnell suddenly developed a great passion for denying the voters a chance to be heard in the decision, and hustled through a Trump pick in record time, just before the election. Because two seats flipped from liberal to conservative, the court's makeup is now 6-3 conservative, whereas it would have wound up 5-4 the other way if liberals had had their way. So, to rectify this, Democrats are proposing to hand Joe Biden four new picks, which would leave the balance at 7-6 liberal, in a new 13-member court.

This is, quite obviously, court-packing. Liberals don't care what you call it, they consider it righting a wrong and providing fairness once again. They consider it the only way to see true justice done, in other words.

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Will The GOP Haggle?

[ Posted Wednesday, April 14th, 2021 – 16:24 UTC ]

In the next two or three months, we may begin to see an answer to the big question in Washington right now: is bipartisanship still possible? The biggest test of this question will be on President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan. If Republicans can't even vote for an infrastructure bill, then bipartisanship will be seen as stone cold dead, at least until after the 2022 midterms. If, however, some sort of deal is worked out, it could raise the prospects of future cooperation across the aisle -- which Joe Biden would dearly like to see.

There's an interesting development in this storyline, as today it was reported that Republicans may be on the brink of making their own offer. Biden's American Jobs Plan would cost $2.3 trillion, as proposed. The GOP is reportedly thinking of making a counteroffer in the $600 billion to $800 billion range. In days gone by, this would have signalled the start of the haggling phase of the negotiations -- but nobody's sure if that is even possible anymore.

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GOP Finally Writes Some Infrastructure Talking Points

[ Posted Tuesday, April 13th, 2021 – 16:39 UTC ]

Ever since President Joe Biden rolled out the first part of his infrastructure plan, Republicans have been largely caught flat-footed. They just don't have much of an answer for why they don't support it. Which makes sense, because most of what is contained in the plan is actually widely supported by the public. So the one thing Republicans really haven't been able to do is to point to the plan and give any good examples as to why it would be such a terrible idea.

As I've noted previously, all they seem to have is: "It's too big!" and: "It raises taxes on the poor, poor multinational corporations!" and, even worse: "It's not infrastructure!" This last one is just laughable, because most of the good investments in the bill used to actually be supported by Republicans as infrastructure, so for them to define infrastructure now on the narrowest terms (literally: "only things your car can actually drive on") is pretty disingenuous of them.

But that was really all they had to work with. Since Biden's plan was announced, whenever Republicans were interviewed in the media, they fell back on these three rather weak talking points.

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From The Archives -- America Is Ready To Explode

[ Posted Monday, April 12th, 2021 – 13:58 UTC ]

This isn't going to be a new column on politics. It's not even going to be a full column, really. I am scheduled to get my second vaccine shot this afternoon, therefore I didn't have the time for either one of those things, sorry.

After today, I've got a few more weeks of waiting and then I will feel (relatively) safe once again. I am not saying this to lord it over those who have not even gotten their first shot yet, because I know how bad "vaccine envy" can be. I say it positively instead, as an encouragement -- because you too will be here, very soon now. Take heart!

Not every state has thrown the doors wide open for anyone age 16 and up to get vaccinated. But we are fast approaching that point. California will do so in a few days' time, later this week. Other states have already hit this milestone, meaning it is now just a matter of getting an appointment for any adult. That's all good news. If your state isn't quite there yet, you won't have long to wait until it is at that point, when everyone who wants a "Fauci ouchie" shot can get one (or two, depending on the brand).

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Friday Talking Points -- Biden Flying High (And Fast!)

[ Posted Friday, April 9th, 2021 – 18:05 UTC ]

Nothing illuminates the difference between the current United States president and the former one as much as how they respond to a misstatement. President Joe Biden, speaking recently about his dreams for American infrastructure improvements, said the following:

We're going to talk about commercial aircraft flying at subsonic speeds -- supersonic speeds. Be able to, figuratively, if you may -- if we decided to do it, traverse the world in about an hour, travel 21,000 miles an hour. So much is changing. We have got to lead it.

There's only one problem with this: physics. Because that is just way too fast, Joe. Divided out, 21,000 miles per hour is 5.8 miles per second, which is significantly faster (roughly ten times faster) than the fastest airplane ever built. The supersonic Concorde only managed Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound), or a little under 1,400 miles per hour. The record-holder is the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, which flew at Mach 3.5, or a top speed of almost 2,200 miles per hour (although there is evidence it may have flown a lot faster, in emergencies). Whatever the actual numbers are, though, Biden plainly misspoke.

So far, the White House has not corrected the number Biden gave yesterday. But you know what? We are fully confident they will do so, by soon issuing a clarification. Because they not only believe in science, they also believe in telling the truth.

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From The Archives -- The Cowardice Of Their Convictions

[ Posted Thursday, April 8th, 2021 – 17:05 UTC ]

Program Note: I was unable to write today due to external commitments, sorry. Instead, I am running a column from almost exactly a year ago, just because not much has changed. This should help to remind everyone that this is not some brand-new problem that was a result of Donald Trump trying to overturn a fair and free election. That all just fed into something that had been going on for quite some time, that's all. The column below is just as pertinent now as it was a year ago, because things have only intensified over time. Republicans still don't have much of an agenda, so they have moved all their voter-suppression ideas into overdrive. But, like I said, this is not exactly a new phenomenon. So again, apologies for the lack of new column today, new columns will return tomorrow for our regular Friday rundown, so I will see you back here for that then.


Originally published April 9, 2020

The Republican Party has now been reduced to being so deathly afraid of the unpopularity of their political agenda among the electorate at large that they are now openly admitting that the only way for them to win elections is to suppress as many votes as possible. This is the exact opposite of "having the courage of your convictions," folks. Republicans are quaking in fear of the efforts to expand voting to make it easier and (much more important) safer for everyone, because they think they'll lose if that happens.

This used to be the sort of thing that was left unsaid. It used to be just the murmuring from the smoke-filled rooms in the back, where Republicans felt free to talk among themselves. This is no longer true, since Donald Trump is now openly admitting what they've been fearing all along -- that mail-in voting would mean (as Trump put it): "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again." And now that he's just coming right out and admitting it, this has freed up other Republicans to 'fess up to the real truth of their multi-decade attack on easy voting: it was never about "fraud," it has always been about suppressing Democratic votes, period.

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Corporate America v. The GOP

[ Posted Wednesday, April 7th, 2021 – 16:09 UTC ]

To be clear, that title is pugilistic in nature, not legalistic. Not a courtroom lawsuit, in other words, but a boxing match. Because corporate America and the Republican Party seem to be at least preparing to trade some major blows. So far, it's all been just shadow boxing, but that could be about to change. This is a fairly major development, considering the long and close history between the two. Whether it becomes a full-blown punching match or not is going to depend on how far both sides are willing to go and what price they're willing to pay.

Many factors have led to this moment. The Me Too movement and Black Lives Matter both showed the power of having a righteous position and having large multitudes who support it. Women and Black people stood up and said: "Enough!" and by doing so have changed the political and social dynamic of the country. It can be argued to what degree of success each of these movements has so far achieved, but what is irrefutable is that they have, in fact, started changing things.

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Stunning Depth Of GOP Hypocrisy Never Ceases To Amaze

[ Posted Tuesday, April 6th, 2021 – 15:57 UTC ]

The irony in Washington is so thick on the ground right now, you could slice it up and sell it to the tourists as souvenirs. Seriously -- the hypocrisy currently emanating from the Republican Party is just stunning, since to believe any of it you would have to erase your mind of pretty much everything the party has ever said on the subject previously. And even then it would still be hypocritical and ironic.

I speak of the Republican reaction to Major League Baseball's decision to pull the All-Star Game from Georgia after they passed a law to suppress voting. The reaction has been ironic on so many levels it's tough to even identify them all.

First, Republicans fell back on their new favorite: decrying "cancel culture." They castigated M.L.B. for somehow "cancelling" Georgia and instead choosing Colorado to host their midsummer showpiece game. This, from the party that previously argued for bakers to have the right to refuse to make gay wedding cakes on moral grounds, I hasten to remind everyone. So what was Republicans' first reaction to this supposed outrage? To call for a boycott of baseball. To try to cancel baseball, in other words.

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GOP's Weak Attack On Biden's Infrastructure Plan

[ Posted Monday, April 5th, 2021 – 15:07 UTC ]

As I am wont to do, I watched all the Sunday political chatfests this weekend (well... as many of them as I could stomach, at any rate...). I was mostly interested in hearing the Republicans' counterargument to the American Jobs Plan that President Joe Biden introduced last week, a massive $2.3 trillion investment in America. What I heard, however, was just laughably weak. Republicans apparently want to have a grand debate over the proper definition of the word "infrastructure," since they apparently have already figured out that talking about the specifics of Biden's plan doesn't exactly help their side. I mean, what is a respectable Republican politician supposed to do, when just about everything in Biden's plan sounds like a dandy idea to most of the public? So, rather than hold a debate about these popular specifics, Republicans instead prefer to play semantic games.

Their argument can be boiled down quite simply: "But it's not infrastructure!"

That's it. That's all they've got. Defining the word infrastructure to mean "only roads and bridges" is the new GOP position. Note that this position doesn't say that all the other stuff that they don't consider to be infrastructure isn't worth doing, because (again), they really don't want to have that debate at all.

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