Out of all the post-impeachment theater, one moment stood out for me... as Republican Party committees and caucuses all over rallied for Trumpism by attacking defectors, like the (slightly) Magnificent Seven senators who (for a brief moment) put country and honor above lickspittle cravenness, what stood out was this news from Utah.
The Utah Republican Party released a statement Monday accepting the different votes of the state's Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee in last week's impeachment trial, marking a stark contrast with how some other state and county GOP party operations have pursued censure against Republicans who voted to impeach or convict former President Donald Trump.
"Our senators have both been criticized for their vote," the Utah GOP wrote. "The differences between our own Utah Republicans showcase a diversity of thought, in contrast to the danger of a party fixated on 'unanimity of thought.' There is power in our differences as a political party, and we look forward to each senator explaining their votes to the people of Utah."
Set aside the almost certainty that Sen. Lee is just another Foxite nutjob shill for Putinism and treason. The fact that the Utah GOP is even willing to entertain the possibility of anything other than pure Nuremberg-rally discipline in support of treason is actually quite telling. I said it in Polemical Judo and repeat it... Democrats should reach out to Utah!
"We know you will never be majority-liberal. But you represent the kind of conservatism we can negotiate with and that will negotiate with us, dropping the demonization... an almost vanished American conservatism that's ethical, moral, principled, and willing to test its polemic against things called actual facts.
"Your dilemma isn't unprecedented! In 1947 the Democratic Party split over whether or not to continue believing the monstrous lies of Joseph Stalin. We passed that test (with flying colors!) and we pray that American conservatives will pass this one. If enough of them do - sufficient to save the movement of rational citizens like Barry Goldwater and Robert Heinlein, then we expect one major center of that rejuvenation and rebirth of sane conservatism to be Utah."
== Stop Sweating Joe Manchin ==
Everyone's talking about the Senator from West Virginia. The deal-maker who sends liberals tearing their hair out... but who has mostly been there, when needed. And yes, he represents a state that is culturally deep, deep red, even when that runs against the actual best self-interest of WVa voters. Luring them back into the Union that their ancestors so bravely joined, in 1861, will take savvy and effort and we need to make allowances for Manchin's role in that project.
And yet, we also need for him to keep stepping up! So, get him to truly commit to the filibuster 'compromise' he spoke of, on-and-off:
1- All future filibusters must be talk style like in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with no yielding to colleagues or breaks... and the chair can force the speaker to "stay germane." Manchin might agree that saves face, because that's what the public already thinks 'filibuster' means.
2- Adjust rules so that cloture (stopping debate) must be assertively STOPPED by 41 senators of the minority, instead of demanding that 60 senators to actively invoke cloture. The burden is on them. Do that and we'll manage.
3- Each Senator gets one per session, or per year.
These are measures that Manchin could get as part of his deal to "save" the filibuster. And yes, he has a point about 'minority rights... or would have a point, if McConnell's GOP ever intended to play fair, ever, even once, at all. Ever. Of course they don't.
But hen, let's test Joe M's sincerity. Do you actually want to ensure minority rights for legislators in a way that reduces partisan discipline and enhances the old American tradition of autonomous representatives and senators? Possibly freeing more Romneys and Murkowskis to grow the kind of courage shown by Adam Kinzinger? Well then... Included in my long to-do-list of proposed judo moves is this one that Nancy Pelosi could use to change Congress in ways that benefit us all. And especially Democrats... whether in the majority or some future minority.
Give every member of Congress a permanent right to issue one subpoena per session, to use as she or he sees fit!
Sure, some would donate theirs to their committee chairs. Most would hoard theirs to summon some witness for 3 hours of testimony to impress voters, back home.
But many would use this power to investigate some unsual thing. And it would mean that Democrats would never again be unable to probe while in the minority. And it would be seen as utterly revolutionary and there will be no way for Foxites to bad-spin it.
(Will goppers try to use it to clog things while they are in the minority? Sure, a bit, but surprisingly little. LIGHT unevenly helps justice. Anyway, many members will hoard their subpoenas, regaining a habit of defying their party leaders.)
Just... think about it. Someone. (Anyone?) It's in Polemical Judo.
== Simple. Un-Redact! ==
ONE THING Biden's folk can do right now that will have aggressively political effects without seeming ostensibly aggressive will be to without much fanfare just UN-REDACT the MUELLER REPORT! Or rather, leave redacted only those parts that the intel community and prosecutors actually asked to have redacted. Let us all see the portions William Barr chose to exclude, in service to his patrons!
In a terrific twist, this move would call attention exactly to the parts Barr wanted to hide. They would leap off every page. And prosecutors would be asked to think again about their redactions, too.
Time for this delayed-fuse bomb to go off. Now.
== The Russian Connection ==
An ex-KGB agent spills the beans about how early Trump was groomed for his role, as detailed in Craig Unger's American Kompromat. Though I yawn at how “of course” it all is. What’s more significant is how few defectors we get these days. Ex-KGB colonel Putin knew that was a fatal flaw in the old Cold War and he has systematically terrorized potential defectors and used agents like Trump to wreck our biggest draw... the moral high ground.
== And political miscellany ==
A U.S.-bound caravan thwarted in Guatemala as pressure against migrants continues.
One win-win aspect to Biden addressing immigrations problems would be simple. Go after the oppressive ruling elites and the criminal gangs in Honduras and other mafia states, who terrorize their people and turn many into refugees. Assisting local democracy activists to establish justice and rule-of-law would help make up for past US crimes in the region, it would burnish our rep, it would do tons of pragmatic good…. and it would dry up sources of refugees, thus luring some others of our own US neighbors out of their paranoid “MAGA” funk.
Amanda Gustafson wrote on my FB thread: “I recently learned that Fox News gets a big part of its funding by being part of cable channel bundles. What if a bunch of us reached out to our cable providers and said we don't want it as part of our bundle and that we do not want to pay for it? and that we will shift cable unless they take us seriously? what if Fox news was something that people had to pay extra for like the fringe it is?”
It’s not too soon for at least some of us to note the lineup that is forming for 2024, and there is zero doubt in this observer’s mind that Nikki Haley sees herself seizing the helm of the Republican Party, whatever the anointed prince-in-waiting – Paul Ryan – has to say about it.
One of you observed that “totalitarianism in general is predicated on the assumption there's one born every minute - and I suspect we won't find the folks with whom the BS is originating putting up stakes. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of the folks in whatever constitutes the 'QAnon Core' have been making a bit of side money betting against their own prophecies.”
And it’s all of a similar mindset overseas. Rob Atkinson offers a cogent comparison of Germany’s trade predation 1900-1945 to similar tactics being used today. The number of blatant overlaps makes for riveting reading. “In writing about Germany in 1941, Douglas Miller, former U.S. commercial attaché to Germany, could easily have been writing about China today: “We must get this straight once and for all: There is no such thing as having purely economic relations with the totalitarian states. Every business deal with them carries with it political, military, social, propaganda implications.”
The economy has fared far better under Democrats. The gap, as one academic paper puts it, is “startlingly large.” A key element: Republican presidents over the past 40 years have pursued one economic policy above all other — tax cuts, skewed heavily toward the affluent — and there is little evidence that they do much for economic growth. Find it all here.