Archive of Articles for September, 2023

Friday Talking Points -- Shutdown Follies

[ Posted Friday, September 29th, 2023 – 17:08 UTC ]

Welcome back once again to the Shutdown Follies! Today's entertainment will be provided by the House Republicans, who will all be driving clown cars in a demolition derby, for your enjoyment.

That's what it feels like, at any rate. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Jellyfish) is caught in a vortex of political posturing, from which there is no apparent escape. No escape for the country, as we all get sucked into a completely pointless government shutdown in its wake, and no escape for Kevin McCarthy, whose only way out is to commit political hara-kiri (or, if you prefer, seppuku). The "Chaos Caucus" of MAGA lunatics is in full control of the House now, and they are content to head the ship of state at full speed directly into a gigantic (and eminently avoidable) iceberg. And there's nothing anyone can do but sit back and watch the disaster unfold, it seems.

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The Second Republican Presidential Debate

[ Posted Thursday, September 28th, 2023 – 16:36 UTC ]

Last night, at the Republican shrine of Saint Ronald of Reagan, seven Republican presidential candidates appeared on the same stage to debate each other. Of course, the real winner of the debate was the candidate who didn't show up: Donald Trump. Even the moderator, at the very start, had to get a little snarky about this, beginning with: "Let's meet the candidates who have qualified -- and chosen -- to be on the stage tonight...."

Not too surprisingly, the second debate shared one glaring similarity with the first: utter chaos. The networks hosting these debates have a hard choice to make -- they can either cut off (or heavily dial the volume down) the microphones of all the candidates who did not just get asked a question, or they can just succumb to the fact that Donald Trump has changed debate rules forever (by not having a shred of decorum or respect for the rules). This was made obvious once again, last night.

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The 2024 General Election Campaign Begins

[ Posted Wednesday, September 27th, 2023 – 15:55 UTC ]

I realize it is incredibly early to make such a statement, but it truly seems like the 2024 general election campaign for president is kicking off this week. Sure, we're still something like 100 days away from even the first of the primaries, but at this point -- barring any political earthquake -- both parties seem to have all but settled on their nominees. This isn't too unusual for the Democrats, since they've got a sitting incumbent president in the White House, but it is extremely unusual for the Republicans. However, Donald Trump's continued strength in the polls means the chances are far more likely than not that America will see a rematch of the 2020 contest between Trump and President Joe Biden.

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Menendez Needs To Go

[ Posted Tuesday, September 26th, 2023 – 15:35 UTC ]

This has been a notable week for Labor. President Joe Biden today visited an autoworkers' Union picket line in Detroit, in what is being described as "the first time ever" for a sitting president (nobody seems to have any definitive word on whether Biden truly is the first or not, but then again nobody has yet come up with another example from American history either). The week started out with the news that the Hollywood writers appear to have come to a deal with the studios to end their strike. And I have to say that while I applauded seeing Biden visit a Union picket line, I really cheered the news from Hollywood, as I have been seriously missing late-night television comics in my life. I look at politics all day, every day, and it is almost necessary (for my sanity) for me to decompress with some good political humor at the end of the day (or, for Saturday Night Live, at the end of the week). But that hasn't been an option for months now. The good news is that late-night will be the first part of the industry to recover, so we could start seeing new shows within days of the agreement being finalized.

What will the comics talk about? Well, they've certainly got plenty of material to work with. A lot of Trump's legal developments happened after the strike began, just for starters. Just within the world of politics, there have been plenty of juicy stories just ripe for ridicule over the summer. But at some point they'll also pick up on the most current events; the most current easy low-hanging targets for political ridicule. Which, in a very roundabout way, leads me to the subject of this article: Senator Robert Menendez needs to resign his seat -- and for his own sake, he should do it before Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers and all the rest of them get back to work. He might spare himself a boatload of ridicule by doing so. Admittedly, that's a rather strange angle to see it all from, but it's what popped into my mind when the scandal broke almost simultaneously with the writers striking a deal.

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Reviewing The Field For The Second GOP Debate.

[ Posted Monday, September 25th, 2023 – 16:03 UTC ]

It's almost time for the second Republican debate, although we're still waiting to hear who exactly will be allowed on the stage Wednesday night. Just as in the first debate, frontrunner Donald Trump will not be on the stage, not through being disqualified in some way but because he has decided (once again) to stage his own event in an effort to "counterprogram" the Fox debate. Trump has a big problem with the Ronald Reagan presidential library where the debate will be held, but even without that dynamic he still likely would have skipped this one as well. He is -- quite accurately -- figuring that there isn't a whole lot of upside for him showing up, since he is already so dominant in the polling at the moment. So once again we're going to see all the candidates who have yet to truly challenge Trump's standing with Republican voters bickering among themselves.

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[From The Archives:] Friday Talking Points [363] -- New Job Vacancy: Chief GOP Cat-Herder

[ Posted Friday, September 22nd, 2023 – 14:47 UTC ]

Program Note: As I mentioned last week, I am playing hooky today. So I went looking for a column to re-run and came across this one, from almost exactly eight years ago. It's stunning in the sense of plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, since it wouldn't take much more than changing a few names to be almost perfectly relevant today. It was written the week that John Boehner announced he was stepping down from being speaker and retiring from politics. At the time (as you'll see), Kevin McCarthy's name was being bandied about as a replacement, but ultimately Paul Ryan was chosen as a sort of sacrificial lamb instead.

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Will Democrats Save McCarthy?

[ Posted Thursday, September 21st, 2023 – 15:50 UTC ]

I should begin by clarifying terms. Perhaps the headline should read: " McCarthy's speakership," because I am not talking about whether Democrats will either step in to avert a government shutdown or eventually offer House Speaker Kevin McCarthy a path to ending such a shutdown, because at this point one of those is almost inevitable. There will eventually be a short-term deal, it will pass the House, and it will pass with mostly Democratic votes. The Senate will then pass it as well and President Joe Biden will sign it. I'm not talking about saving McCarthy from the shutdown nonsense (which may happen or not), instead I'm talking about what might happen afterwards... or even "during."

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Poor Kevin

[ Posted Wednesday, September 20th, 2023 – 15:55 UTC ]

It wasn't supposed to be like this. We were told that, a while back, when Republicans took over control of the House of Representatives. Things were going to be different! Republicans were going to show us all how Congress is supposed to work. The 12 appropriations bills that make up the federal budget were going to go through "regular order" and be voted on one by one instead of all being swept into a giant "omnibus" bill or just largely ignored by the use of a "continuing resolution" (C.R.). That was all going to be a thing of the past, as Congress returned to regular order and appropriated funding the correct and proper way. Washington would bask in the sunshine of regular order and the citizenry would reward the staunch Republicans who had shown Congress the way out of the darkness. That was the way it was supposed to be!

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Biden Needs To Go To Michigan

[ Posted Tuesday, September 19th, 2023 – 15:30 UTC ]

President Joe Biden needs to go to Michigan, and he needs to do it soon. Biden needs to go within days, in fact -- and certainly before next Wednesday. Because if he either waits that long or doesn't go at all, he will have failed an important pop quiz in Politics 101. Here is how such a quiz might be framed:

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Trump, Media Haven't Changed

[ Posted Monday, September 18th, 2023 – 16:27 UTC ]

Donald Trump hasn't changed. That was my big takeaway from watching his performance on this week's Meet The Press, where Kristen Welker started her new stint as host of the program by scoring a blockbuster interview with Trump. This is the first such interview he has given in a long time: on network television which is not part of the right-wing echo chamber. And it went about how you'd expect (assuming you haven't been in a coma for the past eight years). Trump flooded the zone with lies, distortions, conspiracy theories, and general blithering, and the poor benighted host simply couldn't keep up. So two big takeaways, really: Donald Trump hasn't changed, and (sadly) neither has the media.

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