Saturday, January 7, 2023

New House Playing Political Poker: Jokers are Wild

The high stakes game starts Monday.

New House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is going to have to show a poker face when dealing with the jokers in his recently formed and fragile house of cards.

The first hand for the new speaker is passing new rules for the now MAGA infested House on Monday. 

After the drama of getting elected after 15 attempts McCarthy can reasonably assume the jokers in the deck aren't going to play nice on Monday.

Jokers like Chip Roy of Texas are going to want to play "Texas Hold 'Em" where blinds (forced bets) are set up and the first person to play is said to be under the gun. 

In reality McCarthy is playing with one hand tied behind his back. He promised some of the biggest jokers that they would get to chair committees. That's a recipe for a ridiculous waste of time and taxpayer dollars.

The concessions McCarthy threw into the pot to get to continue playing speaker of the house were longtime MAGA fever dreams. Non-MAGARats in the GOP majority recognize that nightmarish scenarios lie ahead in the next two years. 

Plans like investigating the so-called weaponization of the federal government and the power to reduce the salary of government officials are going to be up for a vote Monday.

Here's what we know. 

The Republican Party is one hot steaming pile of shit. After a week of trying to pick their own leader (what is normally an easy game to play) they're preparing to bring the swamp to the House on Monday.

As Speaker of the House McCarthy is not the new sheriff in town. He's a temporary dealer subject to the whims of crazy political poker players who could take him down in a heartbeat.

As it stands, knowing when to draw or to fold will be crucial to McCarthy's political life in Congress.

Friday, January 6, 2023

McCarthy Elected Speaker of the House in the Dead of Night

Just after the witching hour of midnight struck, Kevin McCarthy was finally elected to the House speakership on Saturday morning.

Not exactly a prime time to gloat over his hard-fought battles with Americans sleeping through the swearing-in ceremonies.  

It took 15 pathetic attempts and a lot of groveling (something he excels at) to finally get his rag tag party to agree that he should be their fearless leader.

It was getting ugly by the 14th attempt and a couple of Republicans had to be separated like two bad boys in a reform school. 

That humiliation may have moved the needle embarrassing them enough to come together in a devil's pact for the remainder of McCarthy's soul.

I suspect he won't last long with the new rules neutering the speaker's power and making him vulnerable to an in-house coup the moment one of the crazies feel neglected. 

But one never knows how low he will go to cling to the puppet speakership. 

As it stands, the 118th Congress will be remembered for a lot of reasons. None of them good ones.

House Almost Opens its Doors for Business but MAGA Maroons Block It

After losing his bid for the House speakership 12 times McCarthy sensed blood in the waters after a group of resisters flipped after an overnight epiphany - well, bribe - and voted for him today.
(Illustrations via The New Yorker)

One can only speculate what he promised those former "Never Kevins/MAGA Morons" but it had to be something significant like human sacrifice involving Democratic lawmakers.

It didn't matter. McCarthy lost his 13th bid for the speakership anyway. The problem is not all of the "Never Kevins/MAGA Morons" took his bait. 

The six holdouts are having a great time obstructing one-third of the government. 

They came to the House to set it on fire. 

Not to work with the majority in their party who won the House.

In an attempt to flip the stubborn six, the Republican majority voted to adjourn.

Apparently, they plan on coming back this evening to take up a vote... again. And again. It's probably going to be a long night.

Don't place any bets that a speaker will emerge from the dark after an all-nighter.

After all we're looking at a bat-shit crazy caucus whose mission is to dismantle democracy.

One thing is becoming increasingly obvious. If, and when, McCarthy becomes Speaker of the House of Representatives, he's going to be one of the weakest speakers in the House's history.

We'll see just how craven McCarthy's been in the next two years as an extremist agenda goes on a Revenge Tour with frivolous investigations.

I suspect McCarthy won't last for long with the new rules neutering the speaker's power and making him vulnerable to an in-house coup the moment he pisses off one of the crazies. But one never knows how low he will go to cling to the puppet speakership.

I watched a split screen today that truly tells the story of America. 

One half showed President Biden giving out medals of honor to the heroes of the 2021 insurrection who protected our democracy.

The other half showed the lawmakers who promoted the coup arguing about who's going to be the next House speaker while shuttering all functions of the House while they have their tantrums.

As it stands, it's been 200 years since we had a more dysfunctional incoming House leadership. This is ridiculous.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

The House is on a Hamster Wheel Going Nowhere: And That's Supposed to be Good for Democracy?

When my wife and I got married in 1974 we chose a hamster for a pet because they're low maintenance, and we were on the move a lot.

His name was Zig Zag and we only had him a few weeks before he ran himself to death! At least that's what we think happened.

For some reason he wouldn't get off his hamster wheel one day and ran in it around the clock for several days before collapsing.

When I look at the current situation in the House of Representatives, I think about Zig Zag and his wheel of death. 

House Republicans are making a mockery of governing with their display of confusion about who they want to lead them. It's been one hundred years since the Republican Party had this much of a problem selecting a leader.

They took nine votes before settling on a new speaker. So far this session there's been 11 futile attempts with no end in sight.

It really cracks me up when they say that chaos is good for the country. We're supposed to be satisfied with their claims that their dysfunctional attempt to agree on something is what democracy is all about.

"It's supposed to be messy," more than one MAGA Republican claimed. No. Romper Room at the schoolhouse is messy. Adults should work things out in a reasonable way.

That's not what's happening. If anything, the dialogue between MAGA holdouts and moderates is getting nastier by the day.

Understand. With no functioning House bad things are going to happen in the near future. The world is already bemused by our inability to even pick a leader in a winning party.

No legislation can be passed. It cripples a third of our government. It also hurts our national security. That's just not cool.

Idealogues would rather argue about getting their way than actually taking action and moving the country and party forward. That stalemate gets more serious with each passing day.

There's something else that concerns me about what's unfolding in the House. It's looking like a MAGA minority (10 percent) is going to be calling the shots for the next two years. 

It appears that the other 90 percent of Republicans are just going to have to go along with what the crazies want.

As it stands, if the GOP can't pull their head out of their asses that interparty schism assures there will be more chaos for the country and no meaningful legislation passed in the House before 2024.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

New GOP Majority Needs an Adult to Make an Intervention

Take a long look at the 118th Congress under a Republican majority.

They can't even decide who they want to lead them! 

The result is we have a dormant House that can't legislate anything. The members aren't even officially sworn in.

For the second day in a row Republicans couldn't decide who they want for the Speaker of the House after McCarthy lost his opening bid in the first three rounds of voting yesterday. 

He was so sure he was going to be elected McCarthy had his stuff moved into the Speakers Office. A bit prematurely it now appears.

To rub more salt into McCarthy's wound it was the first time in 100 years congress was so dysfunctional the majority party couldn't decide who they wanted for a leader in the first round of voting. 

After three voting attempts the meeting was finally adjourned.

Today's Voting Results

Hakeem Jeffries had the most votes in the 4th round with 212.

McCarthy could only muster up 202 votes.

A newcomer Byron Donalds got 20 votes.

The 5th round wasn't any different. Jeffries once again got the most votes with the same count as round 4.

Apparently, they weren't embarrassed enough by the results as they tried voting for the sixth time... hoping for a change. The very definition of stupid. 

Predictably it failed and no Speaker of the House emerged. After that they gave up and adjourned the meeting. Again.

Republicans are going to pay a price in the 2024 Presidential election. The American public is watching this drama play out as the GOP self-destructed the moment they came into power.

Americans expect the House of Representatives to be a fully functional government institution.  

As it stands, I wonder if Republicans are tired of winning if this is what it's going to look like!

Monday, January 2, 2023

New GOP House Member is the Party's 2023 Poster Boy

He lied to his constituents in order to get elected to the US House of Representatives.

It worked and he's expected to be sworn in by the new Speaker of the House despite being caught lying right after the election was over.

His name is George Santos and he's the new Poster Boy for right-wing lawmakers. And why not? He represents everything in the Trump wing of the party.

Lie. Defy. Lie again if caught. And again, regardless of facts and reality as long as you pledge fealty to his Rumpness Trump.

I'm cynically amused at the deafening silence coming from Republican Party lawmakers over Santos's corruption. 

Sure, there's a few mumblings out there about accountability but for the most part the GOP would take a mass-murderer into their club if he was elected by Trump's crazed base.

Especially right now with the house speakership struggle coming to a head. McCarthy needs every vote - regardless of how crooked the new arrival.

This automatically promotes Santos to the GOP Poster Boy of the Month for lying and getting away with it. The fact that he was a graduate of Trump University (certificate above) really helped. He majored in lying and cheating.

Twisting facts into political pretzels is brought up in the first chapter of Trump's underground book - The Art of the Steal - which is required MAGA reading (I should say required viewing of videos as most can't read).

Today, the clown show in the House will commence as Republicans attempt to select a speaker. If Kevin McCarthy can't get 218 votes there will have to be another round of voting. And the recounts go on until they figure it out.

The last time that happened in the House was 100 years ago.

Meanwhile Santos is actually enjoying the limelight and not worrying about any kind justice catching up to him anytime soon. 

As it stands, the 118th Session of Congress isn't going exactly the way Republicans thought it would with such a shaky start. No surprise, however.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Oregon is the First State in the Nation to Legally Offer Magic Mushrooms to Veterans

What a way to start a new year.

Oregon's veterans are being offered a new way to combat the negative effects of PTSD by taking Magic Mushrooms

With the passage of Measure 109 Oregonians got the green light to use the psychedelic for treatment programs for veterans. 

Who ever thought that psilocybin would be legalized someday?

The state is processing licenses this month, and organizations that connect veterans to psychedelics have high hopes.

The ultimate plan is for the Beaver State to be home to future psilocybin retreats, where new cohorts of veteran facilitators can be trained.

This form of treatment has seen numerous studies indicating psilocybin is effective in treating symptoms of depression, addiction, and PTSD.

Despite the positive news coming from these studies the Food and Drug Administration still classifies psilocybin as a Schedule 1 Drug - on no known medical value.

As of this year Oregon will legally pioneer this new approach for healing in the nation. I should point out that Colorado will have a similar program that's scheduled to roll out in 2024.

In addition, cities like San Francisco and Washington DC have passed ballot measures to decriminalize the drug. No roll out dates are available at this time.

As it stands, as a Vietnam veteran with service-connected PTSD, I welcome any program that will help veterans cope with their PTSD.

On Naps and Blog Breaks

I've always thought taking a nap during the day was the way to go even though Americans are not known for the habit. Taking daytime nap...