Today’s Shorts: Republican Disarray, ‘Go Big or Go Home’ & Calling on the Ancestors

It’s been a dizzying month is Congress since I first published this article on Substack. It’s worth knowing how our country got here politically. Libertarian bullies have been wreaking havoc in the Arizona Legislature for years. Now they’re going it on the Congress.

Republican Chaos: Arizonans Have Seen this Movie Before

In an historic move on October 2, 2023, “Freedom” Caucus member Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) called for a vote to remove Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the Speaker’s chair. On October 3, 2023, by a vote of 216-210 the US House of Representatives made history and removed McCarthy as Speaker. All of the House Democrats and eight Republicans voted to oust McCarthy.

On September 30, McCarthy revealed a deal with the Democrats to stop the US government from shutting down that night and set up a 45-day deadline for a budget. They did the right thing.

That bipartisan effort to stop a federal government shutdown, preserve people’s paychecks and protect our country’s financial standing prompted Gaetz and other Republican hardliners to move against McCarthy. (Mind you, all of them — including McCarthy — are election deniers and acolytes of former President Donald Trump. It’s not as if McCarthy is a flaming liberal. They are eating their own.)

As of today, October 20, the US House of Representatives has been without a Speaker for more two weeks. In the background, the 45-day deadline for stopgap funding to keep the US government open is creeping up.

The House should be hard at work on the budget instead of playing political games. The hardliners don’t have the votes. None of the ultra conservative Republicans, who have tried to win the Speaker’s chair, have been able to get a majority of Republicans to vote for them.

Democrats are hanging tough against all of the hardcore conservative Republicans who have stepped up to run for Speaker and who are to the right of McCarthy — Reps. Austin Scott (R-GA)Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Jim Jordan (R-OH). Today, literally moments ago, Jordon lost his third bid for Speaker of the House.

How did we get here?

In order to win the Speaker’s chair back in January 2023, McCarthy suffered through 15 humiliating rounds of votes and made many concessions to the far right wing of his party. He let them chair committees, let them propose and bring their extreme bills to the floor and agreed to a rule change that allowed any member to call for a vote to remove the Speaker. That last concession did him in. It was a rough nine months for McCarthy as Speaker. Rather than deal with Democrats, McCarthy catered to the right and like rabid dogs, they viciously bit the hand that reached out to them.

Apparently, the ‘Gang the Couldn’t Shoot Straight’ didn’t have a game plan beyond dumping McCarthy.

Mainstream Congressional Republicans need the Democrats to govern, but they have not completely accepted that fact.

The problem is that for years, mainstream Republicans — like Senator Mitch McConnell and former Arizona Speaker Rusty Bowers — have been bowing to right wing extremists in order to hold their thin majorities together and to pass their worst ideas on party line votes. At the federal and state levels, the Republican Party chose to cling to power, rather than to govern. McConnell and other old timers like Senator Lindsey Graham initially balked at Trump’s brash authoritarian ways, but eventually supported the extremists in their party in order to hold power. The old school Republicans wanted to continue the status quo, which has allowed them to game the system and pass loads of legislation on a party line vote with little or no debate.

Ironically, one of the newly elected Republicans from Arizona, Rep. Eli Crane, said he voted for the right-wing rule changes, against McCarthy, and for Jordan for Speaker because he wanted to end the status quo in Congress.

Dude, you and your cronies helped the Democrats break your own party’s status quo. (Woo hoo! Continued on Substack here.

To continue reading this article, as well as Dems: Go Big or Go Home. Run in Every Race in 2024! and Ohio Abolitionists Should Haunt Rep. Jim Jordan at Powers for the People on Substack here.

Today’s Shorts: Christian Nationalism, VanLife Gone Wrong & Halloween Costumes

MAGA Mike keeps making news … homeless on BLM land … and what’s up with all of the sexy nuns?

Is Speaker Mike Johnson a White Christian Nationalist?

For someone who was unknown outside of the Bible Belt a month ago, newly elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives Mike Johnson has been all over the news since he accepted the speaker’s gavel on October 25, 2023.

Some of the more shocking stories about Johnson focus on his flagrant disregard for separation of church and state.

Johnson describes himself as a “Bible-believing Christian.” If people want to learn his opinion on any topic, Johnson said, “Go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it — that’s my worldview.”

I served in the Arizona Legislature with many “Bible-believing Christians” who routinely voted against the teachings of Jesus and his message of universal love and compassion for everyone. Their version of the Bible had an exceptions list, as does Johnson’s. New York Times opinion columnist Charles M. Blow, who grew up in Johnson’s Congressional district, warns us not to be fooled by his Southern charm. Johnson is Trump in a “far more congenial and urbane package”and he’s a pastor in the American Baptist Church.

Continue reading Today’s Shorts: Christian Nationalism, VanLife Gone Wrong & Halloween Costumes

“He [Johnson] is from a part of the country where your nemesis will smile at you and promise to pray for you, where people will quickly submit that they ‘love the sinner but hate the sin,’ where one hand can hold a Bible while the other holds a shackle. He is from a place where people use religion to brand their hatred as love so that they act on it cheerfully and without guilt.” [Emphasis added.]
— Charles M. Blow, I Grew Up in Mike Johnson’ District, Where Kindness Can Mask Cruelty, New York Times, Nov. 1, 2023

Continue reading Today’s Shorts: Christian Nationalism, VanLife Gone Wrong & Halloween Costumes

Today’s Shorts: Term Limits, Remembering John & Javalinas in Sedona

Meme regarding campaign finance reform

The recent manufactured chaos in the Congress points to the need for change. Campaign finance reform would fix dysfunction without term limits.

Congress Is Broken. Change Is Necessary

After more than three weeks without a Speaker of the US House of Representatives, the “Freedom” Caucus’ Tyranny of the Minority ended on October 25, 2023 with the election of Trump loyalist Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) as Speaker.

Many Americans … including me … were wringing their hands over the lack of a fully functioning government in the US for 22 days, while the world was flying apart with multiple wars involving our allies; climate change causing extreme weather and population migration; domestic terrorists shooting innocent Americans in bowling allies, bars, schools, churches, grocery stores, sporting events and homes every day — AND no federal budget.

Given all of this, the Republicans’ election of an ultraconservative fringe candidate to Speaker of the House shows a shocking disregard for the seriousness of the issues facing our nation and the world.

Why elect a Congressional newbie, whose ideas are out-of-step with the majority of Americans and who has no management experience or background relevant to a position that is third in line for the Presidency? It makes you wonder who will really be in charge. Who will be writing the script … and thus, controlling the narrative?

Continue reading Today’s Shorts: Term Limits, Remembering John & Javalinas in Sedona