Breaking Logjams — A week of pleasant surprises


Bryan Zepp Jamieson
October 2nd, 2023

A few weeks back, I posited that if just six Republicans could stand on principle and break with the party, the looming budget crisis could be averted. Given the grim lockstep cowardice the GOP had shown up until then, I figured six would be the best I could hope for, and that retribution from the rest would be so severe their own option would be to leave the party and become independents.
I’m happy to say I was wrong.
Six Republicans didn’t break ranks: a hundred and twenty six did. It may be quite a while before we learn the exact behind-the-scenes machinations that led to this (especially since the MAGAt crowd are still a clear and present danger to all who oppose them and want specific targets to punish) but a majority of House Republicans realized there is safety in numbers, and absolutely flattened the leverage the “Freedom Caucus” was holding over them, the House, and the country.
How pervasive was the defection? I was amazed to learn that my own congressman, a lunar-landing-denying dingbat from the heart of our infamous demented neighbor, Shasta County, was one of the defectors. That was not on my dance card. That wouldn’t have been on a Bernie Sanders masturbatory fantasy!
For those just getting back from a weekend recreation and are just now catching up on the news, the continuing resolution is for 45 days (until November 15th, meaning before the Thanksgiving break and with the pressure of the holiday season looming). It is, however, a “clean” resolution. No spending cuts, in particular none of the draconian cuts to child care, law enforcement, and the IRS that the demented Trumpenfascists of the MAGA crowd wanted. Funding for Ukraine was excluded, but both Houses vow to take it up separately, and since the measure will enjoy majority support in both Houses and in both parties, I doubt Zelenskii is losing any sleep over that.
With 126 defectors, even Kevin McCarthy felt brave. He was one of the defectors. I wonder if he had to resist the impulse to blow a raspberry at Matt Gaetz as he voted. Given the Republican level of decorum in the House, it wouldn’t have been out of place.
Gaetz is swearing he will move to kick McCarthy out of the Speakership, even though anyone with the simple ability to count to 218 realizes that putting someone he likes in as Speaker is mathematically impossible. In fact, he may not even be able to kick McCarthy out: there are rumors flying that he and the Democratic Party members are confabulating, discussing scenarios where a large chunk of Democrats may actually vote to defeat the motion to vacate and let McCarthy keep his job. Part of that, of course, will mean taking a more centrist position, but between the 126 Republicans who have clearly signaled that they have had enough of the vicious and destructive MAGAts, and a number of Democrats would would sooner have to deal with a sane opposition party, McCarthy might get to keep his job.
One especially tasty rumor making the rounds is that the quid pro quo for Democratic support might include votes to expel some or even all of the Freedom Caucus. This Trump Rump group includes some of the most unsavory and unpatriotic members of Congress, including Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs, Scott Perry, and Paul Gosar. The best of the 45 or so members are merely repulsive. The worst are traitors. About a dozen of them asked for pardons from then-President Trump in the wake of the January 6th insurrection, a prima facie admission of guilt and more than adequate grounds for expulsion.
Expelling just a few of these people would, in the short term, break the back of the GOP, but by destroying the power of the MAGA caucus, also put them on the road to recovery. And yes, that’s a good thing: any democracy needs at least two opposing parties that are willing to negotiate with one another. It’s a fundamental element the fascists in the MAGA crowd overlooked in their lust for power.
If the Dems want to, they can get GOP support and start moving the budget negotiations forward. Or they can let them shoot themselves in the foot one more time before the next elections, and ride a populist wave to majorities in both Houses and the White House. The GOP have never won one of these extortionist showdowns, and in the last two, got clobbered. Seems the senile old man in the basement somehow outwits the entire Trump brain trust, every time.
This vote also shows that Trump’s power is rapidly crumbling. Last weeks’ court finding of massive fraud and the resultant suspension of his business license in New York state did extreme damage to his finances, and the expected avalanche of plea bargains in Georgia and Washington have begun. Trump is going down, and there’s nobody in the party to take his place. DeSantis? Gaetz? Taylor-Greene? Don’t make me laugh.
It’s a ray of hope. America may escape the worst crisis it has faced since the Civil War.
In other news, the death of California’s celebrated Senator, Dianne Feinstein (RIP, Di), put Governor Newsom in a difficult position. He had three estimable candidates to choose from, all of whom were planning to run for Senate next year. Barbara Lee, Adam Schiff, and Katie Porter. Further, he had vowed to put a black woman in the Senate In The Event Of. That would have been Lee, my own preference.
But Newsom surprised pretty near everyone and chose a different black woman, EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler. Butler, a fundraising giant in the Democratic party and a labor leader, is a moderately-left Democrat who falls about half-way between Feinstein and Lee politically. She’s also LGBTQ, which Newsom probably considered as his repudiation of the hate-filled far right of the GOP.
Butler was named with no preconditions, which means she is free to run as the incumbent next year, or not. She’s a close ally of Kamala Harris, and is likely to boost Harris’ chances going forward.
The Senate remains fairly stable. It passed the CR by a 91-8 vote the other day, showing solidarity against the fascist right. This is a good thing.
As for the next few weeks in the House, well, pass the popcorn. It probably won’t be constructive, or polite, but it will be massively entertaining.

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