While President Joe Biden quietly tried to fix the congestion at ports that is causing supply chain issues, the news today has been consumed by one story after another showing the increasing radicalization of those Republicans in charge of the national party.
Yesterday’s news that Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) had posted a video of himself as an anime character killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and slashing at an anime Biden drew attention today as Democrats called for an ethics and law enforcement investigation into the congressman but no leading Republican condemned Gosar’s outrageous and dangerous behavior. Instead, Republicans talked of stripping the committee assignments from the 13 Republican representatives who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
At the very least, this refusal to hold Gosar to account while going after those party members who cooperated with Democrats and voted for the very popular infrastructure bill indicates that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sees no choice but to throw his weight behind the Trump faction.
The party has tied itself to Trump, and yet, more damaging information continues to drop about his administration. A report today from the Office of Special Counsel, an internal federal government watchdog agency led by Henry Kerner, who was appointed to the post by former president Donald Trump, concluded that 13 senior Trump administration officials violated the Hatch Act by using their official positions to campaign for the president.
Pressure on the former president continues to mount.
Late last night, Trump tried to block the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) from answering a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol for telephone records, visitor logs, and other documents.
But tonight, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected his suit, saying that the decision to exercise executive privilege resides with the office, not the people who have held that office in the past. Her decision was scorching. It quoted his tweets inciting the insurrection, took down his arguments one by one, and concluded: “Plaintiff does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent President’s judgment…. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity,’.... But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.” She concluded: “The court…holds that Plaintiff’s assertion of privilege is outweighed by President Biden’s decision not to uphold the privilege.”
But she went further. Trump’s lawyers had tried to argue that the committee was simply on a fishing expedition and had no legitimate legislative reason to look into the insurrection. Judge Chutkan responded with an acknowledgement of just what Congress might want to consider in the wake of the insurrection. It might want to enact or amend criminal laws “to deter and punish violent conduct targeted at the institutions of democracy, enacting measures for future executive enforcement of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment against any Member of Congress or Officer of the United States who engaged in ‘insurrection or rebellion,’ or gave ‘aid or comfort to the enemies thereof,’” she wrote. Coming from a federal judge, this is a significant indictment of the actions of those leaders who engaged in the events of January 6.
Trump’s lawyers immediately appealed. A senior adviser to Trump responded that the former president is simply trying to “defend Executive Privilege for Presidents past, present & future,” and that “Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through.”
For his part, Trump promptly issued a statement insisting that the 2020 election in Georgia was fraudulent.
The House Select Committee issued subpoenas today for records and testimony from ten more people from the Trump White House. Many of those names were of people who are largely out of the spotlight and who witnessed or participated in conversations. Some better known names jump out.
The committee has subpoenaed Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House press secretary, who insisted falsely there was fraud in the election and who was apparently with Trump as he watched the attack on January 6.
It subpoenaed Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who talked falsely about voter fraud in the election and called on state legislatures to overturn Biden’s victory by appointing alternate slates of electors.
It also subpoenaed John McEntee, a young Trump loyalist who had been the former president’s baggage handler before Trump installed him as the White House personnel director, in charge of hiring for the executive branch. McEntee was reportedly present for many of the key conversations around trying to overturn the 2020 election.
An article today in The Atlantic by Jonathan D. Karl, the chief Washington correspondent for ABC News, calls “Johnny” McEntee “the man who made January 6 possible.” McEntee purged the administration of anyone he did not consider sufficiently—that is to say, totally—loyal to Trump.
All the negative news for the former president today provided fodder for the anti-Trump Republicans who seem to be making a play to reclaim control of the party. In reaction to McCarthy’s silence on Gosar, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted: “A party with leaders like Kevin McCarthy, that cannot stand up to the insanity from people like Greene, Gaetz, Gosar, etc, is going to have a hard time standing up to countries like China.”
In New Hampshire today, Republican governor Chris Sununu announced on television that he would not run for the Senate. Party leaders had courted the popular governor for the spot, believing he could win and help the Republicans retake control of the Senate. Sununu did not tell Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) or National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Rick Scott (R-FL) ahead of time, telling reporters: "I guess you'll have to let them know. I haven't talked to them.” Democrats did well in New Hampshire in last week’s election, and Sununu likely noted that this was a poor time to tie himself to the national party.
Also in New Hampshire today, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) tore into the Trump Republicans. She said that Americans are “confronting a domestic threat that we’ve never faced before: a former president who's attempting to unravel the foundations of our Constitutional Republic, aided by political leaders who have made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.” Cheney was speaking at St. Anselm College, a traditional stop for those running for president.
“In this time of testing, will we do our duty? Will we do what we must? Will we defend our Constitution? Will we stand for truth? Will we put duty to our oath above partisan politics? Or will we look away from the danger, ignore the threat, embrace the lies and enable the liar?” she said. “There is no gray area when it comes to that question. When it comes to this moment, there is no middle ground.”
So I had an interesting conversation with my son the other day.
He's against Biden. He's also against The Former Guy.
I watched a video some time back of Nancy Pelosi man-splaining to a very articulate young man how, no, the Democrats could not move any further to the left because we (Americans) are capitalists. Two things occurred to me: first that, no, "we" are not all capitalists, as plainly evidenced by the young man standing in front of her. D'oh. But the second was more important: the young outlive the old. If we haven't sold our point of view to them on merit, then our point of view dies with us. If we cannot make a compelling argument of merit for capitalism, "we" will not be capitalists in the next generation.
My point is not to argue for or against capitalism, but to recognize that the next generation takes over. Right or wrong. Brilliant or stupid. Sane or crazy. And my son is dead-set against Biden. So I dug a little deeper.
Most of us here had grandparents who were in the middle of the labor movements that preceded FDR. Many of us "younger elders" grew up in the full bloom of FDR's legacy, which I feel hit a symbolic peak when we landed on the moon. I built the models. I watched the TV coverage from the comfort of a new house in the suburbs. We ran around the neighborhood without adult supervision all summer long. We've all clung to that image.
My son is the generation that never saw the bloom. He was born after the moon landing had degenerated into Reagan's cynical "Star Wars" project, and by the time he started to become politically aware, it was the middle of the Shrub years and the rise of the security state and perpetual Condition Orange. He saw Edward Snowden as a whistle-blowing hero who was pursued to the ends of the earth by the US security state, and eventually driven into exile in Russia.
He did not grow up in the brand-new house in a brand-new suburb that I did: he grew up in an aging house from that era, with aging fences and crumbling asphalt and cracked sidewalks and regular plumbing repairs. He was looking at higher education just as it was becoming prohibitively expensive and predatory. He learned about the US torture camps at GITMO and remote CIA facilities in Romania. He watched the Great Hope of Obama take a stand against this, and then not close GITMO. It took Obama to the end of both terms to get us out of Iraq. He watched national health care acts kneecapped and turned into the Affordable Care Act. He knows he'll live to see that 1.5 degree increase in temperature, if it isn't 2.5 degrees. Or 3.5. He sees no confidence that the US Government, as a whole, is capable of running the nation anywhere except into the ground.
In his view, the Democrats and Republicans are just two different dancers in the same dance, both miming each other's moves. Biden, in his view, is just dancing the dance.
So I asked him, what DOES he support? He said, it's a good question: he'd let me know if he found anything.
I can see his point, but more importantly, I see his conviction that the whole system is frozen. Everyone here has been asking it, too, in one form or another. Why isn't the DOJ moving faster? Why are the courts so slow that all of the perpetrators will be dead of old age before the lawyers stop gaming the system? Why can we do nothing about the propaganda system that is shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre? Why do armed vigilantes run free in the streets if they are white, but joggers get gunned down by police if they are black? Why do the rich get so damned much richer, while everyone else just puts up with inflation?
I'm seeing my son as representative of a large block of his generation. They are tired of the excuses.
They will outlive us.
John Mcentee, Trump's former baggage handler, pretty much sums up the thuggish Trump Presidency. I honestly feel like I'm reading about a third-world, tinpot dictatorship when I read about the Trump Administration, because that's exactly what it was, and it will take a long time to cleanse this filth away.
And of course McCarthy won't do or say anything about white supremacist, Gosar, as this weasel has tied his fate to Trump's; moreover, a few months ago McCarthy threatened to clobber Nancy Pelosi with a gavel.
So this is the party of Trump: authoritarian, misogynistic and just plain vile.
Also, two thumbs up for the Federal judge who read Trump the riot act (no pun intended).
Thank you for your post