Friday Talking Points -- Republican Civil War Rages

[ Posted Friday, October 6th, 2023 – 18:07 UTC ]

We've finally gotten to the point where even the headline-writers in the mainstream media had to admit the reality -- which runs 180 degrees counter to their propensity to magnify every little squabble among Democrats -- and finally write a few: "Republicans In Disarray" headlines. Because this was the week it became unavoidable. The Republican civil war broke out into the open in a big way, as they made history by deposing a speaker of the House of Representatives for the first time ever. From this point forward, we will be referring to just Representative Kevin McCarthy, since that's all he now is. And maybe not even that, if the rumors he's thinking about stepping down entirely turn out to be true.

We were curious, so we went back to the January chaos of McCarthy getting elected speaker, just to find out what we had predicted at the time. And we found that we called it pretty close to what actually happened. We went back to the first column we wrote after McCarthy finally became speaker (on the 15th round of voting) and found the following:

McCarthy is an extraordinarily weak party leader. Here's how one conservative columnist for the New York Times put it today: "A few honorable exceptions aside, the G.O.P. is basically split between reptiles and invertebrates. McCarthy is the ultimate invertebrate." Not exactly a ringing endorsement, and that's from a conservative writer. Which is why my guess is that most of the House Republicans -- even the frothing-at-the-mouth lunatics -- will probably be happy enough to keep McCarthy where he is, at least for the next few months. McCarthy has proven that he will accede to any demand from the extremists, so why bother removing him? I would be surprised, in fact, if anyone does call for a motion to "vacate the chair" any time soon -- say, before this summer, at the earliest.

The outgoing 117th Congress gave McCarthy (and the rest of the country) this breathing room, after all. The budget is settled for the year, meaning the big budget fights won't really begin to happen until we get a lot closer to October (the start of the federal fiscal year).

Here we are, in early October, and McCarthy is toast. Maybe we should have gone to Las Vegas and made an actual bet on the date -- we would have been pretty close, you've got to admit!

McCarthy's ouster may have been the most ignominious, for the way it played out, but he certainly isn't the first Republican speaker booted from the chair by rowdy hooligans within his own caucus. John Boehner and Paul Ryan might have a few words of sympathy for McCarthy right about now, is all we are saying. At this point, becoming speaker of a Republican House should be seen in the same light as being named Spinal Tap's new drummer -- something to celebrate, perhaps, but with an impending aura of doom nonetheless.

McCarthy survived 269 days in his role as "Herder of the Rabid Republican Feral Cats," but there's no guarantee this isn't going to happen all over again -- and a lot quicker, perhaps, next time. We figure the odds are only about even that the next GOP speaker will survive in the job until Thanksgiving, since the whole fight this time was just to buy an extra six weeks for budget negotiations. If those negotiations are concluded by striking any sort of deal with Democrats (in the Senate, in the White House, and/or in the House), another motion to vacate the chair may immediately follow. This isn't a Spinal Tab drummer spontaneously combusting, in other words; it is instead the other members of the band performing a human sacrifice on his own drum kit, live and on stage.

To put this all another way, you would have to be completely crazy to want the job. Which was the cue for one completely crazy Republican to announce his bid for it. But we're getting ahead of ourselves here, let's back up and review the entire three-ring-circus week first.

Last Friday, most everyone (us included) expected that a government shutdown was imminent. But then on Saturday -- the last day possible -- Kevin McCarthy surprised everyone by introducing a clean continuing resolution (C.R.) bill, to keep government funding on autopilot while adding billions in disaster aid and a few other things that needed doing (because deadlines were approaching). What it didn't have: aid to Ukraine. Or any of the radical Republican poison-pill ideas.

McCarthy then actually started talking like a sane politician, which was decidedly odd, for him. It spurred an article in the Washington Post titled: "Who Is This Man And What Has He Done With Kevin McCarthy?" It begins:

For eight months, there were no adults working in the House Republican day-care center.

Day after day, the toddlers of the far right threw tantrum after tantrum. But instead of giving the brats in his caucus a timeout, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tried to quiet them with all the lollipops, ice cream and sugary drinks they could consume.

Finally on Saturday, with just 12 hours to go before the federal government would shut down, McCarthy declared himself a grown-up.

McCarthy even explicitly called himself "the adult in the room." His bill passed the House with a whopping 335 votes (every Democrat but one voted for it) and it sailed through the Senate on an 88-9 vote (where all Democrats voted for it). President Joe Biden signed it before midnight, and the shutdown was averted.

Washington was stunned. The crisis was actually solved by the commonsense action of the Republican speaker. Which really shouldn't be stunning, but it was.

Monday, Matt Gaetz made good on his promise to sandbag McCarthy, by filing a "motion to vacate the chair." Over the weekend, McCarthy explicitly ruled out working with Democrats to save his own political skin. His fate, he announced, would depend solely on Republicans, with no quarter given and no deals made with any Democrats.

The vote was called on Tuesday. McCarthy lost, 216-210. He was out -- the first speaker of the House of Representatives ever to lose a "no confidence" vote in American history.

Being a Republican, McCarthy immediately tried to blame the Democrats for his fate. No, really! You just can't make this stuff up, folks....

It's doubtful McCarthy could even have made this bipartisan support appear if he had tried, to be fair. Representative Pramila Jayapal summed up a lot of Democrats' thoughts when she answered a reporter's question with: "Nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy. Nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy."

McCarthy's spin was that if Democrats hadn't voted to oust him, the eight hotheads in his own party would have lost the vote. But the thing to ask any Republican trying to blame Democrats for McCarthy's fate is, of course: "How many of you would have voted to save Nancy Pelosi's chair if a few Democrats had tried to oust her?" Why is it, in other words, that Democrats are always somehow supposed to be the ones who save Republicans from their own party's worst impulses? We're old enough to remember when the Republicans used to be the party of "taking personal responsibility," but those days are long gone it seems.

We're also old enough to remember when there were three "young guns," the self-identified future of the Republican Party. They wrote a book and everything! All of the three have now crashed and burned: Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy.

But let's return to last week (rather than the dim and distant past). Patrick McHenry, the new designated "speaker pro tempore," immediately demonstrated why Republicans just aren't worth helping, by kicking Nancy Pelosi out of her office space in the Capitol. This was beyond petty, especially considering Pelosi was in San Francisco to attend the funeral of her good friend Dianne Feinstein (who was lying in state in the San Francisco City Hall where she started her political career).

That was just after McHenry entered the history books as his own footnote, under the heading: "Loudest gavel slam in House history." McHenry decided that after leaving the House rudderless, the best course of action was for them to all go on vacation for a full week. Again, you just cannot make this stuff up! Later it was reported that this may have avoided open fistfights within the Republican caucus, but perhaps it will just postpone them.

Where we stand is waiting for the next shoe to drop. The original plan was for the Republicans to all return to Washington next Tuesday and hold a "candidates' forum" within their own caucus, behind closed doors. Then Wednesday they'd conduct a secret ballot to determine which candidate had the support of at least two-thirds of the conference, and he or she would then be put on the House floor as a speaker candidate and they'd all publicly vote on it.

That was the plan, but it may be changing. There is movement on two fronts which may change this schedule. The first is a nebulous plan to change the rules of the House so that it takes more than one member to try to oust a sitting speaker. They'd have to raise it to at least ten to avoid what just happened, but they'd also almost certainly have to have some Democrats vote for this change as well (which is politically fraught, since collaborating with Democrats is what brought McCarthy down).

But the second proposed change is more intriguing. It wouldn't be a change in House rules but rather just in the party rules Republicans follow. And it might actually be an intelligent thing for them to do. Rather than advancing a speaker candidate who got two-thirds of the Republicans' support to the floor of the House (where the voting would be public), instead why not temporarily raise this ceiling to the full 218 votes any candidate would need to actually win the speaker's chair?

The likely result of this would be to delay the proposed schedule, because it is very likely that no Republican candidate would get 218 votes -- at least not on the first round of voting. Remember January? That's what is going to have to happen all over again. Any speaker candidate is going to have to make some promises both to the moderate Republicans in swing districts and to the hotheaded Chaos Caucus. Just like Kevin McCarthy was forced to. The only difference (and it is a big one) is that all this wheeling-dealing and intraparty feuding would happen behind closed doors and the Republicans wouldn't emerge from their caucus room until after someone had enough support to win the first public House floor vote. This would avoid all kinds of public embarrassment, but then again it might take a while for any candidate to hit that bar (we could be in for weeks of the Republican civil war raging, just behind closed doors this time).

The two strongest candidates who have announced their speaker bids so far are Steve Scalise, who held the number-two Republican leadership position under McCarthy, and Jim Jordan, hothead extraordinaire. For a brief heady moment, there was a push for Donald Trump to enter this race, but in the end Trump decided to endorse Jordan and see what happened.

The best epitaph for McCarthy's political career centered on the concept of Republicans eating their own:

The former speaker is correct that the House had failed. But he has the causation backward. It didn't fail because he was ousted; he was ousted because the House had already failed. And the ones who caused it to fail were McCarthy and his colleagues.

For years, they have taken every opportunity to trash the institutions of government -- the FBI, the Justice Department, the IRS, the "woke" military, the CDC, NIH, the courts, the election system, the presidency. After laying waste to all other institutions, it was inevitable that House Republicans would also trash the one institution they controlled.

McCarthy's allies cast Gaetz as aberrant. But the same demagogic techniques that Gaetz used against McCarthy -- dishonesty, conspiracy, vengeance -- have been deployed routinely by House Republicans in recent years, and particularly for the past nine months, against the Biden administration and congressional Democrats. Gaetz was merely doing as his Republican colleagues taught him.

When you govern on lies, you can't be surprised when one of your own lies about you. When you govern on personal vendettas, you can't be shocked that one of your own acts on a vendetta against you. When you govern with contempt for democratic norms, you can't be sanctimonious when one of your own trashes the norms that protected you.

The most amusing part of this whole circus is that the House speakership crisis actually shoved Donald Trump from the media spotlight this week. Trump surprised many when he actually showed up in person for his civil fraud trial in New York. This case is being heard by a judge (no jury), so there really wasn't a whole lot of point to showing up, except (of course) to troll the media cameras into covering him. So he sat and scowled at everyone in the courtroom and occasionally appeared in the hallway full of reporters to rant and rave about how unfairly he was being treated (and anything else that popped into his head, as usual). But by Wednesday, even Trump realized he wasn't making the media splash he had intended (due in no small part to the actual real-life political events happening in the House), and he decided to stop attending the courtroom sessions.

Which brings us to the rundown of Trump legal woes for the week. There was a flurry of activity on many fronts, so we're just going to list them here briefly with links to the stories for anyone interested:

In that same civil New York trial, Trump drew his first (but hopefully not last) official gag order from the judge. He had sent an online attack against the judge's clerk, which enraged the judge (who, once again, is the sole arbiter in the case, since there is no jury). He told Trump to cease and desist any comments about his legal staff. We'll see whether Trump can manage to restrain himself...

The judge also ruled to prevent Trump and his family members from hiding money and assets by moving them around all their different corporations, which seems like a smart move on the judge's part.

Trump's lawyers made a motion to delay the secret documents case until "mid-November" of next year, which is conveniently after the election.

Trump's lawyers made a motion to dismiss the January 6th case against Trump by attempting to play the "because he was president, he's immune from everything" card.

Trump's lawyers made a motion to dismiss the porn-star/hush-money case because (hoo boy...) it is making it harder for him to campaign for president.

All of these are legal longshots, and all are expected to fail.

Trump's lawyers also dropped the case Trump has brought against Michael Cohen, because Trump was scheduled to be deposed next week. Trump says he's merely "postponing" the case, but we'll see....

Trump continues to attack and belittle and threaten pretty much everyone involved in every court case against him. The Washington Post tried to come up with a comprehensive list, but they probably missed a few (since there have been so many).

And in "soon-to-be-charged federally (we hope)" Trump legal news, it was revealed that Trump has been playing fast and lose with national security secrets by bragging to an Australian billionaire at his Florida golf resort about the capabilities of America's nuclear submarines -- including how many nuclear warheads they can carry. The Australian then freely shared all this information -- to over 45 people, including "foreign officials, several of his own employees, and a handful of journalists." Thus proving once again that Donald Trump is the embodiment of a national security threat.

In the "Trump henchmen legal woes" category, it seems that two Trump buddies are following his game plan for how to deal with his legal teams, which can be summarized as: "Don't pay them." Both Mike Lindell (the "My Pillow" guy) and Rudy Giuliani were recently dumped by their lawyers because the two weren't paying their legal bills. Giuliani, on top of it, was slapped with an I.R.S. lien for over half a million dollars on a property he owns in Florida -- for not paying his taxes. But they shouldn't be seen as anything less than following in Trump's own deadbeat footsteps.

OK, that's enough of a weekly wrap-up. If we had one, we'd end this with a dramatic and thundering Patrick McHenry-style gavel-slam to close out the week that was (...but for some reason this job didn't seem to come with a big wooden mallet... probably a good thing, that).


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

This is somewhat premature, we do realize, but the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week was Laphonza Butler, formerly the head of Emily's List, who is now our sitting senator.

Gavin Newsom didn't waste any time, since maintaining a full roster in Washington is important right now, and named Butler last weekend to the vacancy caused by Dianne Feinstein's death. She is an openly lesbian Black woman, the latter parts of which fulfill a promise Newsom made when he appointed our other senator a few years ago.

Newsom recently said that he intended to appoint someone to be a "caretaker" senator, who would not actually run for the seat in the 2024 election. He didn't want to appoint any of the Democrats already running for the job, which functionally would have meant Barbara Lee (the only Black woman running). But it was notable that he didn't apparently get any sort of promise from Senator Butler that she wouldn't run as an incumbent next year, so we'll have to see what happens.

We have to admit we had never heard her name before, but she seems to come with a very acceptable background:

[Senator Laphonza] Butler has deep ties in the labor movement after decades working in a variety of roles. Before heading Emily's List, the fundraising powerhouse group that has worked to support Democratic women up and down the ballot, she served as the president of SEIU Local 2015, a union that represented 325,000 nursing home and home-care workers throughout California. She previously served as an SEIU international vice president and headed SEIU United Long Term Care Workers.

In other words, a breath of progressive fresh air for California. She was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris, which was symbolic (to say the least).

Being that she'll be our senator for at least the next year or so, we will be following her Senate career closely. The most interesting thing will be if she decides to run for the office or not, which should be clear within a few months (given filing deadlines).

But for now, for becoming the first lesbian Black senator in American history, we have to say that Senator Laphonza Butler is indeed the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week, and we wish her well in her new job.

[Congratulate Senator Laphonza Butler on her Senate contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

We have to at least hand out a (Dis-)Honorable Mention award to Representative Jamaal Bowman, who in an apparent attempt to buy time (since Kevin McCarthy introduced his 71-page clean C.R. and then wanted to force Democrats to immediately vote on it, unread) actually pulled a fire alarm in a House office building. He swears he didn't do it to stall things, but we have our doubts as to how honest he is in that stance. In any case, this isn't junior high, Representative Bowman. If Democrats are going to be seen as the adults in the room, then you just can't do things like this, sorry.

But sadly there was another Democrat who was worse. President Joe Biden jarringly announced this week that his administration will be building some new walls down at the southern border.

Here's the basic story:

The announcement... from Biden officials... said they will bypass environmental and conservation laws for the first time to fast-track barrier construction along the southern border, citing an "acute and immediate" need to stop soaring numbers of migrants crossing illegally in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

That announcement, published in the Federal Register, amounted to a shift for Biden, who rebuked his predecessor's pet project by vowing as he ran for office that he would not build "another foot of wall." Biden halted construction on Inauguration Day in January 2021.

Asked by reporters at the White House on Thursday about his administration's plans, the president said he did not believe the barriers were effective but construction had to move forward because Congress already appropriated the money.

"I can't stop that," Biden said, without elaborating. He took no further questions.

There are two reasons why this is all disappointing a lot of Democrats. The first is Biden going back on that campaign promise. That's an obvious source of friction. But there's also the feeling that Biden has essentially been forced into doing this and is not owning up to the reasons why he approved it.

The president could indeed have stopped the plan, even if Congress had appropriated the money for it. He could have refused to waive all the federal laws (including the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act) and dared Republicans to sue him in court to force the money to be spent. As Donald Trump proved on multiple issues, the federal courts are so slow that forcing a court case essentially gives a president a free pass for years. Biden could have chosen this route, but didn't.

There is indeed a case to be made to complete these sections of wall, which Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas laid out in the public notice. And Biden (as well as the Democratic Party as a whole) is in a tough spot on immigration, which Republicans are going to try to use as a political bludgeon next year. So Biden might just have been acting politically, to get out in front of an issue he's weak on.

But if the president really did intend this, he should have just owned it. He should have made the case himself: "There are some gaps that need finishing, so we're just going to do some limited construction to do that." But Biden didn't do that. He's trying to say his hands were tied by Congress, but absent a judge's order that's a pretty weak political argument to make. Or he could just get out in front of it and own it, but he hasn't done that either.

No matter how most Democrats feel about immigration and border walls, it left many with a feeling of disappointment. Which is why President Biden is our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[Contact President Joe Biden on his official contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 725 (10/6/23)

We did consider including an excerpt from former Trump White House chief of staff John Kelly, who confirmed this week to CNN that Donald Trump did indeed say all those disgusting things about America's veterans (even wounded or dead veterans). This proves once again that Trump has zero respect for the military (and zero basic humanity, as well), but that wasn't really in question. And we have to agree with those who still remember Kelly ripping into a Democratic congresswoman for bringing one of these episodes to light by flat-out lying about her. It's really too little, too late for Kelly to somehow fix his own reputation after the fact, so we decided not to even include any of it.

Instead, we've just got the usual mixed bag of talking points, with one rather amusing bit of karma at the end. Enjoy, as always, and please use responsibly.


   Chaos party

Reinforce this excellent talking point and expand it!

"You know, up until now we've all been talking about the 'Chaos Caucus' within the Republican Party, that has no interest in getting things done at all and doesn't know how to do anything other than toss bombs and tear things apart. But now it's pretty obvious that the Chaos Caucus is in complete control of the Republican Party. So I guess we should all now refer to the entire GOP as the Chaos Party?"


   Sure, why not?

Hammer them for this one as hard as you can. They deserve it.

"The clock is ticking on another impending government shutdown. The House needs to get its act together by mid-November. Negotiations need to happen with the Senate and with the White House to come to some compromise budget that can pass both the House and Senate. Time is short. So what did Republicans do right after they kicked out their own speaker of the House? They decided to take a week off, because obviously they were entitled to a vacation. Sure, why not? From what I can see, taking lots of time off is the only thing that House Republicans truly excel at."


   Seriously? Don't make me laugh.

Nip this one in the bud. [Editorial note: we reworked one phrase from the best article we read this week in response to the charge that it was somehow Democrats' fault all this happened, just to give credit where it is due.]

"Seriously? You're sitting there telling me that it was the fault of Democrats that Kevin McCarthy lost his leadership job? You simply cannot be serious. Why is it somehow the Democrats fault every time Republicans make a total mess of things in Congress? Why are we supposed to be the ones to save them from themselves? To all the Republicans sanctimoniously trying to shift blame for this fiasco to Democrats, I would ask a simple question to measure their own omnibenevolence towards their political foes: If Nancy Pelosi had been threatened by a handful of hard-left radicals and it came down to a floor vote, how many of you would have voted to save her? I believe I know the answer to that, and it is precisely the same number as Democrats who voted to save McCarthy: zero. So don't get up on your high horse and try to point the finger now, because if the shoe were on the other foot, you guys wouldn't lift a finger to save a Democratic speaker. I mean, the very idea is downright laughable."


   Thanks, but no thanks

Chuck Schumer gets in a good one.

"I see that a certain faction of House Republicans wants Donald Trump to ride in and be their savior by accepting the speaker's job. Marjorie 'Three-Names' Taylor Greene gushed about how it would: 'be like a Trump rally every day,' and: 'It would be the House of MAGA!' Chuck Schumer, who still remembers what happened on January 6th, tweeted back: 'No thanks, we're good. We've seen a Trump rally at the Capitol already.' Yeah, I'm with Chuck on this one: Thanks, but no thanks."


   A walking national security risk

This is still breaking news, so perhaps we'll learn more details in the next few days, but it's such an easy shot it's worth taking now.

"Donald Trump apparently brags at his golf resorts to his billionaire buddies -- even foreign citizens -- about America's nuclear secrets. He spilled some national security secrets to an Australian, I guess to impress him or something? Trump blabbed about the capabilities of America's nuclear submarines to this random guy, who then promptly passed all of that information along to 45 of his closest friends -- including journalists and foreign officials. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Donald Trump is a walking, talking national security risk and he should not be allowed anywhere near America's secrets, ever again."


   One seat flips already

Something to taunt Republicans with....

"I see that the federal judiciary finally overruled the blatant gerrymandering in Alabama and chose a districting map that will almost guarantee that Democrats win two House seats instead of the one they've been limited to in the state. Just like that, by ending this unconstitutional racial gerrymandering, Democrats have already picked up one of the House seats they will need next year to win control back from the chaos of Republican rule. And since they don't need to flip all that many seats to do so, this is a big win!"


   Happy Kevin Day!

Karma just laughs, at times.

"Kevin McCarthy was ousted from power this Tuesday... which also happened to be something called 'National Kevin Day.' No really! National Kevin Day -- 'aka National Hug-A-Kevin Day' -- falls on October 3rd. As the website explains: 'If you have been neglecting your Kevins lately, here's your chance to right a wrong.' Oh, man... too, too funny! I hope ex-speaker McCarthy had a wonderful National Kevin Day, but somehow I don't think he got enough hugs."

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


26 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Republican Civil War Rages”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    ...Biden (as well as the Democratic Party as a whole) is in a tough spot on immigration, which Republicans are going to try to use as a political bludgeon next year. So Biden might just have been acting politically, to get out in front of an issue he's weak on. But if the president really did intend this, he should have just owned it. He should have made the case himself ...

    Indeed. But, good luck with that.

    It was a pretty sad political action on his part. Unfortunately, for Biden (as well as the Democratic Party as a whole), immigration is just one of many issues he is weak on. He's even weak on issues he should be strong on but can't seem to make the case.

    And, his age isn't the problem. I remember back to 2005 when he was putting the finishing touches on his 'plan for Iraq'. Which was more accurately described as Biden's plan for US policy with regard to Iraq. Anyway, back then he seemed quite unable or just unwilling to take the time to explain what his plan was all about. He didn't fight back nearly as hard as I, myself, did on the Bush administration's efforts to sabotage his efforts and label it as a plan for the partition of Iraq. Consequently, the neo-cons ran with it, virtually unopposed, and convinced the Arab world, more or less, that partition of Iraq is what Biden was all about. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course but, if you can't or won't dispel a false narrative, then the false narrative takes hold.

    Ditto for the Dem's failure to "own" economic issues as they continue, decade after decade, to let the Republicans own the narrative that Republicans are the better stewards of the economy. It would be laughable if it wasn't so damn depressing. Bidenomics is slowly becoming a bad four-letter word as the Republicans are beginning to own THAT, too!

    What a freakin' mess.

    Perhaps Biden and the Dems will get their sad act together before it's too late ... but, this cockeyed optimist ain't too optimistic, these days. :(

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    To say nothing of the clusterfrak of an issue now known at the long war scenario in Ukraine.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Yeah, I couldn't resist. I tried but, I'm not that strong. :)

  5. [5] 
    dsws wrote:

    Marjorie 'Three-Names' Taylor Greene gushed ...

    Since you've decided to mock someone for using three names, instead of for any of the stuff for which she deserves our contempt, do you take the same attitude toward Hillary Rodham Clinton? How about toward Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

  6. [6] 
    andygaus wrote:

    Not to mention Martin "Three-Names" Luther King

  7. [7] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    I absolutely agree that it's premature to award Sen. Butler MIDOW.

    Instead, this nomination is an impressive display of Gov. Newsom's political instincts. He solved 2 problems:
    * By nominating a relative unknown, he avoided "playing favorites" by choosing a person who's already announced his/her candidacy for 2024;
    * By moving with lightning speed, he has taken the air out of the chattering class' speculation game.

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    do you take the same attitude toward Hillary Rodham Clinton?

    Do you want me to answer that?


    Seriously, why can't she just GO AWAY!??

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It's Only Biden

    Every once in a while, I am reminded why I love David Brooks!

  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    oh come on, not even one kevin?

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i've heard that on kevin day it's acceptable to give a kevin some pie. or anyone else for that matter. pie is always acceptable.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Where is our Kevin?

  13. [13] 
    dsws wrote:

    [8] But if HRC went away, who would make sure that we live up to the venerable Democratic tradition of losing elections we should have won? I was convinced she was a disaster candidate already in November 2007 when looking at the potential presidential candidates for 08. It's just that, on the list of her public-image failings, I don't think the decision to use three names even registers.

  14. [14] 
    dsws wrote:

    (Do people here know that I use three names? I was thinking yes, but I can't actually remember mentioning it.)

  15. [15] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i use five, six counting my title

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    but, dsws, you use four letters??

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This war-weary commenter is calling it a night, being very thankful for having been born in a peaceful country if not one that always lives up to its oft professed principles of justice.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  18. [18] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    happy indigenous peoples' day

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Everyday is Indigenous Peoples Day for me until Indigenous rights are fully recognized and respected, here in Canada and around the world.

    What makes me happy and proud and what is so heartwarming is that Manitoba just became the first Canadian province to elect a First Nations premier!

    Canada has such a very long way to go along the path toward justice for First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. While our constitution recognizes and affirms Aboriginal and treaty rights, explicitly in Section 35, most Canadians do not understand the breadth and depth of all that Indigenous, Treaty and land rights entail. The really sad part is that many of us do not wish to understand. That makes progress on these core issues extremely difficult but nevertheless critical for Canada if we truly believe in principles of justice and fairness.

    Canada Day has had a big stain on it for me since 1990 when a lone Cree member of the Manitoba legislature, Eligah Harper, single-handedly stopped a national constitutional reform process here to satisfy the aspirations of Quebec that I whole-heartedly supported.

    Harper's quiet but determined display of grace and courage in standing up for principles of justice for Aboriginal peoples in Canada compelled me to learn about the issues he spoke of. It didn't take long before I began to feel thankful and grateful for what he did to stop that constitutional reform process that would have shut Aboriginal peoples out of the Canadian constitutional family forever. Because of his actions - and efforts by First Nations, Inuit and Metis leaders across this country before and since - we have made progress on Indigenous rights and justice issues but there is such a long way to go.

    I am so looking forward to following newly elected Manitoba premier Wab Kinew and the positive impacts his leadership will have on the province and throughout our country!

  20. [20] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    today is also a day of horror and heartbreak. to repost what i put in response to the newsweek article:

    As saddened as I've been by Israel's most recent government and its turn toward neo-fascism, there are levels of these things, and not all wrongs are created equal. indiscriminate killing and taking civilian hostages is more than a few steps beyond anything the IDF has ever attempted, and something I doubt most of today's palestinians would want to be associated with.

    Would everyone benefit from Israel having a more enlightened, less bellicose government? Of course they would. However, there is no possible justification for the actions of Hamas today. And to anyone who would excuse today's attacks based on Israel's wrongs, real or imagined, consider how you'd feel if the shoe were on the other foot.

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I hope there wasn't an article in Newsweek justifying the Hamas attacks ... I can't bring myself to look it up.

  22. [22] 
    dsws wrote:

    I hyphenated my last name when I got married. I don't use my middle name unless I'm filling out a form that asks for it. But I use all four initials, same as a lot of people use their first and last name but use all three initials.

  23. [23] 
    dsws wrote:

    I suspect that Hamas will succeed in derailing recognition of Israel by Saudi Arabia, at a cost they consider acceptable (even though no sane person would).

  24. [24] 
    dsws wrote:

    The murder of hundreds of Israelis (and I think also of foreigners who happened to be in Israel) by Hamas is bad enough, but I also consider hostage-taking in particular to be heinous beyond the level of direct harm it involves.

    Accepting the surrender of enemy combatants, in a declared state-vs-state war, is not hostage-taking. POW exchanges are as acceptable as anything about war can be. Detaining enemy civilians may sometimes be justified by military necessity, but such detainees must be released without conditions, as soon as military necessity allows. Their release must not be exchanged for anything.

    The capture of Israelis and foreigners by Hamas forces is hostage-taking. It has to be dealt with harshly. But I think we should try to use diplomacy to get as many countries as possible to support a severe Israeli response, even if that means convincing Israel to have a response that's less severe than it ought to be.

  25. [25] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    No more Columbus Day, so Happy Injunous Americans day, everybody!!

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, Columbus got lost and was able to survive thanks to help from the original inhabitants of Turtle Island, so...

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