Saturday, January 7, 2023

Brief Thoughts on the Recent Chaos Over Speaker of the House of Representatives


I don't know much about the guy who finally won the vote to be the Speaker in the now Republican controlled House of Representatives.  Lemme look up his name again.  (I think it's "McKnight.")


I was wrong.  It's Kevin McCarthy.  As I understand it, despite his enthusiastic support for Trump's contention that he only lost his re-election for President bid due to Democratic corruption of the electoral process [a claim that is obviously untrue and extremely hypocritical], McCarthy is [I think] seen by a small group of extreme-right-wing populists as a representative of the "soft-on-the-'globalists'" establishment.

Anyhow, the Republicans have a very small majority in the House.  Just as the Democrats did in 2020.  As Nancy Pelosi, in 2020, needed the vote of every Democratic Congressperson, McCarthy needed every single vote he could get in order to be elected.  For that reason, a small group of renegades had the ability to block his election either to utterly confound him or in order to extract policy concessions.

And that is what they did.  The two front-people in this rebellion appeared to be Trumpistas Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert.  They had some demands that you can read about elsewhere if you wish.  I don't even know if McCarthy agreed to any of them when he finally won after [I think] 15 votes.  One of their demands seemed reasonable.  Not allowing multiple issues to be attached to a bill.

What I want to point out is that this small group of rebel Republicans stood up to their own party and reacted with contempt to their party's leaders threatening them with loss of seats on committees and such.  In so doing they stood in marked contrast to the spinelessness that the so-called "Squad" of allegedly "progressive" Democrats, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ro Khanna when Jimmy Dore called on them to attempt to extract a floor vote on "Medicare-For-All" in return for giving their votes to Nancy Pelosi in 2020 when she needed every Democratic vote in the House to win the Speakership. 

Unlike Gaetz and Boebert [and whoever their small set of allies were], "The Squad" caved entirely.  Asking nothing from Pelosi for their support.  And getting less than nothing in return.  AOC was even denied a position on a committee she was after [one that would have been important for overseeing the "Green New Deal" that the Democratic House leadership and the Senate allowed to be whittled down to almost nothing anyway.]

Okay.  So, when they had a tactical opening, Democratic "progressives" failed to use it.  When Republican far-right populists had one they used it and they stood up to criticism from their own party, their own [ridiculous] demi-god (Trump), FOX News and, obviously, the corporate mainstream.

Many grassroots Republicans and politicians believed [erroneously] that Trump was deprived of his re-election by a vast, left-wing conspiracy.  [To these imbeciles Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Leadership Council, Google, "Meta", Twitter, Silicon Valley in general, Big Pharma and the Military-Industrial-Complex are Marxists.]  On January 6th they rioted at Capital Hill (with the obvious collusion of high-level members of the Republican Party, the National Security system's management and Capitol Hill police.  [This is how capitalism-in-crisis works by the way.  Important factions of the oligarchy support many of the views of right-wing extremists.  So they subsidize them and let them play around.  If, in the process, they alarm other members of the Establishment or go "too far," then even this can be played to the oligarchy's advantage by providing an excuse for further empowerment of the surveillance/suppression apparatus.])

[Trump and his supporters have a justfiable case against the horrid Big Tech/FBI/Surveillance State collusion to bury the story of Hunter Biden's laptop revelations.  But since the Republican Party benefits from gerrymandering, and the undemocratic way that their electoral system grants more votes to Republican-leaning parts of the country, and, more specifically, the way Trump benefitted when James Comey announced that Hillary Clinton was still under investigation during a goddamned campaign, the personal pique of Trump/Trumpistas can be disregarded as self-interested whining.  The abuse of power itself to suppress the Hunter Biden story is something that should alarm all of us however.]

Democrats, on the other hand, believe [moronically] that Hillary Clinton was robbed of victory in 2016 because illegal Trump Campaign-Putin Regime "collusion."  In the end, these shit-heads said that Trump couldn't be impeached by Mueller because a sitting President can't be charged or some damned thing.  The fact that Mueller said he found NO EVIDENCE of collusion and was only talking about Trump's [aborted] attempts to obstruct Mueller's investigation meant nothing to these dim-wits.  In their fevered brains, Mueller's bullshit investigation WAS obstructed and that's why he wasn't able to find the collusion.  It's just that you can't impeach a sitting president for being fraudulently elected with the criminal support of a foreign power because that would undermine the sanctity of the Office (that is currently being illegitimately held by a traitor in thrall to an evil foreign dictator).

What's important is that for all their outrage and shrieking, Democratic supporters did absolutely nothing about Trump's "illegal" presidency.  They, in the end, acquiesced to it.

Just like "progressive" voters who supported Bernie Sanders and watched in rising disgust and anger as he was blatantly robbed of the nomination by the Democratic Party establishment, meekly submitted to this disgusting theft and rallied around the pieces of shit (Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden) that were imposed upon them.  And then they continued to abase themselves when both Clinton and Biden contemptuously repudiated their values [this was especially true of Clinton] and instead pursued the illusory promise of the votes of "moderate" Republians.

It remains the case that both the Republican and the Democratic parties are nauseating institutions of grifters and authoritarian psychopaths.  It remains the case that Democrat supporters and "progressives" are also prone to crazy conspiracy theories, stupid tribalism and shameless hypocrisy.  But when it comes to putting action to their beliefs, right-wingers are more willing to "Walk the Talk." It isn't just a case of individual fortitude.  Something systemic allows right-wing rebels to behave this way and compells progressive rebels to submission.  And it's long since past time that we identified what causes this to happen and address it.


Anonymous said...

I agree that Squad members have consistently failed to pressure Dem leaders into supporting their positions, and the same can be said for Sanders. You get the behaviour you reward, whether that's on the right or the left. The right has a long history of rewarding extremists - Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, Donald Trump, etc. The "left" punishes them in the name of centrism and bipartisanship. The Squad is pure kabuki to placate progressive voters.

BTW, Mueller never said he found NO EVIDENCE of Trump campaign-Russia collusion, that was Barr's spin. Prosecutors don't talk that way. The Mueller report outlines plenty of evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, but Mueller wasn't convinced he had enough to get a criminal conviction. Claiming Mueller found NO EVIDENCE of Trump-Russia collusion is about as accurate as saying the RCMP found no evidence that Harper and his associates tried to bribe Duffy.


thwap said...


Someone else wrote that about the Republicans reaping what they have sown by catering to extremists.

In our case, it isn't the Democratic leadership that is suffering, it's those who put their faith in either the Democratic Party or its "loyal opposition" (the Squad) or both the party and its progressive wing.

We saw all this before in the 1920's and 1930's. The establishment consensus fucks everything up. Some people turn "left" others "right." The oligarchy favours rightists and ends up subsidizing fascism. And leftists, it seems, splinter into fragments. I guess that I'm as guilty of that as anyone.

I'll concede to what you said about Mueller and evidence of collusion. At the time I thought that Barr was accurate when he relayed the essential point of Mueller's report, and that he only began to editorialize when he started saying that Trump had been thoroughly vindicated.

I remember Mueller's stupid indictments of foreign nationals being treated as the equivalent of convictions of crimes and Mueller running for the hills when one of the Russians named in his indictments came and asked for his day in court.

I remember Roger Stone NOT being privy to Wikileaks insider information. He was convicted of lying for saying that he was and for [not seriously] threatening a witness who said that he wasn't.

I remember Paul Manafort being convicted of sharing polling data and for not being a registered lobbyist or something or other.

I remember [and continue to know since "The Guardian" hasn't retracted the error] the lie about Manafort visiting Assange at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

I remember that Mueller interviewed neither Assange or Craig Murray in his attempt to leave no stone unturned.

I remember Mueller himself pronouncing the Trump Tower meeting as nothing.

Etc., etc., ... Steele Dossier totally discredited.

But maybe you know something I don't.

Interet Research Agency memes that amounted to nothing. etc. etc.,

Purple library guy said...

It always amazed me . . . Trump was guilty of pretty much everything under the sun . . . EXCEPT the core thing they were accusing him of. Couldn't they have just picked some of the myriad things he WAS guilty of?

The problem being I guess that all the stuff he was guilty of, Democratic politicians were guilty of too. Sure, not as flagrantly or blatantly, and probably no single Democratic politico was guilty of nearly as MANY of them as Trump, but it would still mean a lot of embarrassing back-and-forth finger pointing and in general a violation of the gentlemen's agreement in Washington that you don't bug people over a bit of corruption or where will it end? Trump probably represented a quantitative increase in corruption level so large that it represented a qualitative change as well, but he just represented a general trend--the US is going through a sort of corruption chain reaction where the ascendance of corruption produces laws and norms that make corruption easier which makes corruption ascend more which produces etc. etc.; ultimately everyone else was in on the scam too.

So they needed something fundamentally different. Something that wasn't about corruption, which everyone in the US takes for granted anyway. Something that would actually push the buttons of US citizens and at least seem like something even a politician just shouldn't do. Collusion with a foreign power! Pushes the nationalist jingoism button, something that can usually be relied on in Americans. Something that's even more serious when a politician does it. Unfortunately it probably wasn't true, but when do politicians ever worry about that? I expect they considered that a minor detail which could easily be massaged. And they may have been right--fringe people like you or me try to figure out whether he was actually working with Putin, but in general Democrats say it's true because it's dirt about their enemy, and Republicans say it's false because the Dems say it's true, and it actually being true wouldn't change either of their opinions.

Purple library guy said...

When I think about it, probably the weirdest outcome of the whole Trump-is-a-traitor-colluding-with-Russia schtick is that it actually unmoored many Republicans from the broader kind of US patriotism. In the alt-right, there are now tons of guys who would vote for Putin before they would vote for Biden (let alone Kamala Harris).

This circles back to that resolute fanaticism that we see on the hard right, that was willing for instance to hang tough and extract a ton of concessions in the Speaker vote (and I believe they did in fact successfully extract a bunch). And I think one key is that they would have been fine with it even if they failed. The hard right are bloody-minded, aggressive, and contemptuous of rationalism. They would rather lose than compromise, and they don't care who suffers as a result of any scorched earth tactics they may use. And the thing is that strategically, that is actually a pretty powerful approach. If you look at the game theory of it, it is actually the Squad and other compromise-y "progressives" who have it wrong. If you refuse to compromise, you may lose various individual fights. But, others dealing with you will come to know that there is no point trying to extract concessions from you; if you have any power it will gradually be magnified because people will know they have to appease you to get anything done. And when you do win, you will win big.

The key may be in the "don't care who suffers" part. So for instance, the hard right are willing to entirely shut down government, let the civil service and the poor starve and Medicare-oriented medical care shut down and people die en masse just to make some political point about debt levels that they don't even believe. Progressives tend to be the kind of people who can be told "Well, if you keep fighting this you'll lose and nothing will happen, but if you compromise we'll throw you this bone which will give a thousand people a job, or put a tiny category of people back on food stamps. You don't want those people to suffer, do you?" But as it becomes established that the progressive is someone who will compromise, they'll be made to compromise on their compromises to their compromises until their gains approach zero. In the end they'd have gotten more for their constituents by refusing to be fobbed off with molecules in the bucket. And they'd be politically more effective in the sense of having some red meat to throw their constituents.

Mind you, with AOC I'm not even sure that's the problem. She voted to screw the railway workers, and she wasn't even pushed into it as far as I can tell.

thwap said...


Fucking brilliant. I'm too stoned right now to compose a thoughtful reply. But fucking brilliant.


thwap said...


So, for your first comment: Trump's ascension was really a natural development in the process of right-wing brainwashing that had been going on forever (with pro-business "think tanks" funding the latter-year acting careers of people like Ronald Reagan, and "institutes" that advanced "free market" solutions to problems created by corporate greed (DDT, polluted rivers, etc.)

This carried on with the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch's media empire, featuring bullying hosts like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.

It also carried on with the aggressive militarization of US-American culture in response to the peace movement. Everything was designed to promote the creation of the boorish, ignorant, authoritarian, toxic male, white-skinned asshole.

But with Trump, ... I've written about this here before, ... Trump's rickety empire of corruption required exotic sources of funding and money laundering for Russian gangsters was one of them. And this made him sympathetic to Russians' point of views. Everyone thought the forever wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were a bad idea and Trump couldn't figure out the animosity towards Putin helping Assad, and therefore (one would think) the USA in helping destroy ISIS.

Trump's position threatened a funding source for the Military Industrial Complex and, yeah, the brazen nature of his corruption threatened to expose the workings of the whole system.

thwap said...


I have nothing to add to your analysis of the phenomenon of right-wing rebels refusing to bend no matter the collatoral damage and left-wing rebels propensity to do the opposite to avoid collatoral damage.

I had one more thought re: Trump - Russia - right-wing "patriotism."

Putin is hated by Hillary Clinton. Right-wingers see (accurately) that Putin hasn't actually targeted the USA and that most of the Democrat & Democrat-allied media lie about him. Putin is actually a right-wing, anti-regulation, social conservative. An extreme social conservative. Homophobic, anti-feminist. They like him.

Also, at this post I mention a "moderate" Republican's thoughts on the consequences of russiagate that Glenn Greenwald featured on one of his websites:

"Many of them deny it now, but a lot of 2016 Trump voters were worried during the early stages of the Russia collusion investigation. True, the evidence seemed thin, and the very idea that the US and allied security apparatus would allow Trump to take office if they really thought he might be under Russian blackmail seemed a bit preposterous on its face. But to many conservatives in 2016 and early 2017, it seemed equally preposterous that the institutions they trusted, and even the ones they didn’t, would go all-in on a story if there wasn’t at least something to it. Imagine the consequences for these institutions if it turned out there was nothing to it.

We now know that the FBI and other intelligence agencies conducted covert surveillance against members of the Trump campaign based on evidence manufactured by political operatives working for the Clinton campaign, both before and after the election.


They might have expected such behavior from the Clintons — politics is a violent game and Hillary’s got a lot of scalps on her wall. But many of the people watching this happen were Tea Party types, in spirit if not in actual fact. They give their kids a pocket Constitution for their birthday. They have Yellow Ribbon bumper stickers, and fly the POW/MIA flag under the front-porch Stars and Stripes, and curl their lip at people who talk during the National Anthem at ballgames. They’re the people who believed their institutions when they were told Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. To them, the intel community using fake evidence (including falsified documents) to spy on a presidential campaign is a big deal.

It may surprise many liberals, but most conservative normies actually know the Russia collusion case front and back. A whole ecosystem sprouted up to pore over every new development, and conservatives followed the details as avidly as any follower of liberal conspiracy theorists Seth Abramson or Marcy Wheeler.


There’s no need to relive all the details of the Russia collusion scam. The point is that conservatives were following it all very closely, in real time, and they noticed when things didn’t add up.


For two years, Trump supporters had been called traitors and Russian bots for casting ballots for 'Vladimir Putin’s c*ck holster.' They’d been subjected to a two-year gaslighting campaign by politicians, government agencies, and elite media. It took real fortitude to stand up to the unanimous mockery and scorn of these powerful institutions. But those institutions had gambled their power and credibility, and they’d lost, and now Trump supporters expected a reckoning. When no reckoning was forthcoming - when the Greenwalds, and Taibbis, and Matés of the world were not handed the New York Times’ revoked Pulitzers for correctly and courageously standing against the tsunami on the biggest political story in years - these people shed many illusions about how power really operates in their country."