#PutiPoodle | #WhatTheyVotedFor
This is not a joke:
Blackwater founder Erik Prince will host a fundraiser for California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher as the Republican faces a tough re-election.
No, really, it’s not a joke.
#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor
Notes and quotes from Steve Benen, at MaddowBlog, 20 February 2017:
• #ProbablyNot: “If it makes Sweden feel any better, many Americans often have no idea what Trump is saying, either.”
• #WatersEdge: “As a factual matter, the senator is a Maverick in Name Only.”
• #WhatTheyVotedFor: “There’s no reason to go along with this as if it were somehow normal.”
• #GettingWorseNotBetter: “Republicans may be eager to blast Democratic ‘obstruction’ and partisan delays, but the truth of the matter is simple: Democrats can’t block nominees who don’t exist.”
• #McCarthysMouth: “That’s the kind of quote that could use some clarification.”
• #Backfill: “The era of ‘fuzzy math’ is back with a vengeance.”
• #WhyGovernmentDoesntWork: “So, the nation’s Education Secretary, even now, isn’t sure the position she now holds should exist―apparently because she’s still not on board with the idea of having a federal Department of Education, which she now leads.”
• #MatthewFifteenElevenα: “The president is himself on board with the ‘Never-Mind-What-Trump-Said’ approach to foreign policy.”
• #PutiPoodle: “Why Cohen would tell two very different stories to two different newspapers is unclear.”
• #YesWeHave: “Have we really reached the point at which Trump World is so accustomed to pushing bogus and misleading information that even the president’s golfing is fair game?”
Good news, everybody!
Or, well, you know. It’s Congress.
The House on Friday passed by voice vote a five-day continuing resolution to fund the government through Dec. 16, securing a little more time for congressional leaders and appropriators to finish negotiating an omnibus spending measure.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign the five-day CR, which the Senate passed on Thursday.
There are a couple of things here. To the one, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA23) called off weekend work because of the new CR, which is intended to give the Appropriations Committee more time to finish an omnibus bill; Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY05) is aiming for 14 December, with the House returning to session the next day. What could possibly go wrong?
To the other, this is Congress.
And this is a five day continuing resolution.
Yes, really. Five days.
Image note: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. (Detail of photo by Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)
McPherson, Lindsey and Tamar Hallerman. “House Passes Five-Day Extension of Government Funding”. 218. Roll Call. 11 December 2015.
“One senior GOP aide familiar with discussions between leadership and the Freedom Caucus used Dante Alighieri’s description of hell in ‘The Divine Comedy’, with its varying concentric circles, to describe the HFC. No candidate will get to the innermost circle. But Ryan could pick off a lot of members on the outer rings.”
The upshot here is that the idea of static or patterned chaos, which really does sound somewhat counterintuitive until you do the thing with a triangle and dice, but in this case we mean something yet altogether different: Meet the new chaos; same as the old chaos. House Republicans seem caught up in some sort of loop, waiting for Ryan while trying to deliberately ignore the gigantic question mark they keep glancing aside in hopes of checking.
Matt Fuller of Roll Call explains:
If the HFC, after largely taking credit for pushing out Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and blocking the ascension of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is seen as having scuttled a Ryan speakership, the divide between the ultra-conservative group and the rest of the conference could become even more unmanageable.
Without Ryan, the speaker’s race threatens to turn into a free-for-all. On Tuesday, there were at least a half dozen new names of Republicans quietly testing the water for runs of their own, including a couple of Texans (Reps. Bill Flores and Michael McCaul), the wealthiest man in Congress (Rep. Darrell Issa) and a woman, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn ....
.... Sources close to Ryan say the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee has no intention of putting up with an insurrection on his right flank. If Ryan agrees to take the speakership, he will tell colleagues he’ll only do it with all of their support. What’s more, he is making no promises about overhauling the process, shaking up the Steering Committee or any of the other concessions being floated by conservatives.
If that’s Ryan’s position, there will almost certainly be Republicans who will oppose him. And then conservatives will have a choice of their own. They can either hold fast to their procedural demands, or they can get on board with a Ryan speakership.
In truth, Mr. Fuller’s running commentary about sources is much more enlightening. After all, Congress is Congress, and reporters are merely human. Every little piece, you know? It’s not just the stories they tell, but also whether or not we are capable of understanding them. In communicative relationships, the burdens of transmission are much more apparent than the obligations of actually being able to receive.
Image note: Detail of photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
Fuller, Matt. “Oh, and another thing I noticed”. Twitter. 13 October 2015.
—————. “Ryan’s Choice and the House Freedom Caucus Fallout”. 218. Roll Call. 13 October 2015.
There are, of course, partisan considerations, but still, this stands out:
Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, hit back Sunday at a former committee staffer who said he was fired for not cooperating with the panel’s focus on former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s actions in response to the 2012 terrorist attack.
“Until his Friday conversations with media, this staffer has never mentioned Secretary Clinton as a cause of his termination, and he did not cite Clinton’s name in a legally mandated mediation,” the South Carolina Republican said in a written statement. “He also has not produced documentary proof that in the time before his termination he was directed to focus on Clinton.”
Okay, look, there is obviously a lot going on with the House Benghazi farce, but Gowdy might have overplayed his hand.
As the drama continues on Capitol Hill, there is this from David Hawkings of Roll Call:
Ryan has proven experience in drafting provocative budgetary blueprints, a zeal for shaping innovative tax simplification plans and a solid record as a party fundraiser to go along with all his perceived potential to heal the GOP’s profound internal injuries.
But that seemingly almost impossible task won’t be made an easier by the one gap in his resume that his allies are portraying among his virtues: He has no real experience running the House or attending to the day-to-day needs of his colleagues.
He’s never done the floor leader’s work of managing the legislative calendar or the whip’s job of counting and corralling votes. He’s never been charged with the overall messaging, policy development, campaign strategy and internal GOP organizational tasks that are the purview of the other leaders.
Maybe most notably of all, he’s never gotten his hands dirty in what’s euphemistically dubbed “member services” — the catchall work of mediating petty turf wars, granting oddball VIP favors, providing late-night sustenance, refereeing travel requests, finding extra office space, bird-dogging personal behavior and intervening to prevent ethical transgressions.
Most of those high-risk and concertedly below-the-radar thankless tasks get performed by the floor leaders and whips, which helps explain why all but one speaker since World War II was previously in one or both jobs for at least a combined five years. And the exception, Republican J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, was a serious practitioner of the member services dark arts as the appointed chief deputy whip for four years.
Fuller, Matt. “Speaker Election Delay Stirs Conservative Anger”. 218. Roll Call. 9 October 2015.
Hawkings, David. “Next Speaker Unlikely to Continue Long String of Leadership Insiders”. Hawkings Here. Roll Call. 10 October 2015.
Lillis, Mike. “Top GOP strategist: House leadership turmoil ‘a good thing'”. The Hill. 10 October 2015.
Over the years, one constant is that American conservatives have some of the best potential to actually, genuinely surprise me. In a way, this is predictable; if we suggest it is not simply the positions they hold―e.g., a diverse range of prioritized supremacism―but also the severity and desperation, it only makes sense that it would be conservatives offending me, as there are very few liberal advocates of white, Christian, male, heterosexual supremacism. That sort of thing.
But it happens in other ways, too. Imagine an accurate description of George W. Bush’s presidency, offered as a prognostication the night he was elected. And think of it this way, too―it’s not just the wars. Consider: Vice President Cheney will craft energy policy in secret meetings with people who wreck the energy industry, and then claim executive privilege to hide that record from public scrutiny until it is time to surrender those materials to the National Archives, whereupon he will claim to be part of the Legislative branch of government. Back then, it would have seemed a wild claim. Not that a vice president would hold secret policy meetings and try to hide the record, but to suggest Mr. Cheney would be so damnably stupid as to hide behind executive privilege and then claim to not be part of the executive branch―both claims regarding the same issue―would have seemed an insulting condemnation of his character and intellect alike.
Then again, by the time the Bush/Cheney administration was finished, nothing really seemed surprising, did it?
What about the Speakership of John Boehner?
When he took the gavel, would any of us have imagined this end? What would it have sounded like to predict the worst speakership in the history of the nation? What would people have said of purported clairvoyance spinning tales of such incredible incompetence? Here, try this one: No, we don’t want the President to use his executive authority on immigration; I have a bill. No, we can’t pass our bill; I guess the President will have to use his executive authority. No, the President should not have used his executive authority; we will find a way to sue him in order to stop him.α
How about Tuesday?
No, really, I made a joke. It wasn’t a good joke; it was an obvious joke about a House Republican Conference so fractious and intractable that the Speaker of the House could not actually manage to do anything useful. And it is a House Republican Conference so fractious and intractable that we now get to find out whether or not Speaker Boehner is capable of merely resigning properly.
Boehner said in a statement that he’ll continue to serve as speaker until the House selects someone to replace him. “We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks. Our conference will work together to ensure we have the strongest team possible as we continue to focus on the American people’s priorities,” said the Ohio lawmaker.
This is really happening.
α And we’re still waiting for the lawsuit, as I recall.
Frumin, Aliyah. “Kevin McCarthy abruptly drops House speaker bid, race postponed”. msnbc. 8 October 2015.
And then there is this:
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has dropped out of elections for House Speaker, shocking Capitol Hill and raising questions about who can possibly lead the House Republican conference.
Right. Good luck. We’ll try to figure this out as it progresses.
If it’s Thursday, this must be your United States House of Representatives.
Image Note House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., pauses as he speaks about foreign policy during the John Hay Initiative, Monday 28 September 2015, in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Wong, Scott. “Shock! McCarthy drops from Speaker’s race”. The Hill. 8 October 2015.
Here is a strange proposition: The Trump effect, currently plaguing the 2016 GOP presidential nomination contest, is a feature, not a bug.
While the notion of sucking up all the oxygen is certainly evident as Republican candidates struggle for breath, consider for a moment that there is also a Democratic contest afoot. To the other, all we really hear about it is a string of scandal stories about Hillary Clinton, and how many people turn out for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
And, of course, any time we might lead with a joke like, What do Kim Davis and Donald Trump have in common? we might rest assured that our uneasiness is genuine because things really have gotten that far out of hand.
The question of the hour:
Barring a historic meltdown, Republicans will select Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to be their nominee for speaker Thursday. But does that mean McCarthy will get 218 votes in the House floor vote on Oct. 29?
Meanwhile, House Democrats aren’t exactly sitting back and watching, but nobody should feel badly for thinking otherwise. There is plenty of intrigue to go around, but the drama in the House of Representatives is exclusively Republican.
McCarthy (R-Calif.) has been desperately trying to distance himself from Boehner (R-Ohio), the man he wants to replace as Speaker of the House. His latest attempt came Tuesday night as he made his pitch to a dozens of conservative lawmakers at the Capitol Hill Club.
“I’m not John Boehner. I’m going to run things differently. I’m my own man,” McCarthy said, according to one conservative in the room, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).