If you’ve missed it—lucky you—we’ve seen the clown show of GOP House “Weaponization” et al subcommittees, a sorry apotheosis of GOP fanaticism, paranoia and bullshit, lumber on as a parade of eloquent Dems do steadfast battle against the “nonsense.” Most visible is the indefatigable Jamie Raskin, who’s been on fire. Now he’s fervidly offered up to the party of lies and alternative facts the hallowed notion of “truth,” on which “democratic governance rests.” An appreciation thread is due.
Having vowed to uncover the nefarious doings of an imaginary “Deep State” out to “get” conservatives through the shocking testimony of a gazillion whistleblowers, Jordan’s subcommittee, along with others, has instead flopped, bombed, landed as dead on arrival as the famous Monty Python parrot: “It’s passed on…It has ceased to be, it’s expired and gone to see its maker. This is a late parrot.”
The reviews, to date: The brand-new Republican majority is off to an awful, abysmal, amateurish and appalling start, and those are just the applicable adjectives that begin with the letter A.” “The party has turned into a conspiracy-mongering extremist caucus,” “We were promised whistleblowers, but we got hot air, which they then got high on.” The GOP is “one flaming hot mess of ego, resentment and paranoia.” And, the hearings “have accomplished nothing.”
The lesson from their risible probes on multiple alleged misdeeds—besides weaponization, COVID, jobs, Ukraine, Jan. 6, Hunter Biden—through which inept “Banana Republicans” perpetually tripped over pesky facts: “Never bring a Boebert/Greene/Jordan/Comer to a Raskin fight.” At this point, Democrats weary of sitting through and calling out farces that merely “spin the wheels of House (committees) in political theater circles” understandably have—to borrow from Martin McDonagh’s mournful, lovely Banshees of Inisherin—no fecks left to give.
GOP cluelessness was everywhere. There was sanctimonious Kevin McCarthy claiming the right to overturn a long-in-the-works rewrite of D.C.’s criminal code by a supposedly soft-on-crime Democratic City Council, only to have Dems point out that McCarthy’s hometown of Bakersfield CA., has one of the highest crime rates in America—higher than (Dem-controlled) D.C. and almost double (ditto) New York City: “No wonder he never goes there.”
Also Marjorie Taylor Greene blasted tyrannical COVID school closures for causing kids’ reading levels to drop while stumbling over numbers too high for her to read and blamed Biden’s “open border” for the deaths of two young men from fentanyl during Trump’s reign, after which her spokesperson responded to a fact-checker’s questions with “Fuck off.”
And hapless comic-book villain James Comer, who with his BS in agriculture from Western Kentucky University somehow made it to the chairmanship of the House Oversight Committee, was lamenting US attorneys didn’t get around to investigating grifting by Beau Biden—can we go any lower?—before he died of brain cancer from serving in Iraq, also of course Hunter: “I think the evidence is overwhelming that this family’s been involved in some very shady business dealings that could compromise national security,” he intoned, cleverly ignoring the $2 billion dollars Jared got from the Saudis for being married to Ivanka. Comer also lit into Dr. Fauci and the Dems who supported him for lying about COVID; delightfully, Florida Rep. Jared Moskowitz took the ball and ran with it.
L O L… These hearings aren’t going great for Republicans pic.twitter.com/2AHijtF6U8
— Acyn (@Acyn) February 28, 2023
Smirking groomer Matt Gaetz offered more idiocy in the face of people smarter then he is. Having earlier made a Big Deal out of insisting the Pledge of Allegiance be read before the opening of Congressional sessions, he brought in as his first “honored guest” to read it, a guy he met at a gun club who, as it turned out, was convicted of murdering one family member and attempting to murder another in a 2019 stand-off with Michigan police, so go U.S.A. and all its empty jingoistic rituals.
Then he tried to bully Colin Kahl, an undersecretary of Defense, to admit the U.S. was sending money and weapons to the Azov Battalion, a right-wing nationalist group in Ukraine reportedly fighting with the resistance. When Kahl said he didn’t think Azov had access to US weapons, Gaetz then sententiously read his “evidence” to the contrary, quoting from a report in the Global Times, which turns out to be a major Chinese Communist propaganda outlet. “Is this the Global Times from China?” Kahl asked innocently. Gaetz: “No, this is…” leans over to peer at paper. “Oh. Well. It might be…Yeah, I guess it is.” Kahl, coolly calling him out, “As a general matter, I don’t take Beijing’s propaganda at face value.” Ouch. From one observer, “Gaetz should be a lot more cut-up from walking into propellers like that.” After which an exasperated Dem Rep. Eric Swalwell made it clear he’d had enough of Gaetz’ and his colleagues'”stunts and games,” adding, like the grown-up in the room, “We’re here to get shit done.”
Just to keep the malarkey evenly spread, the Senate also offered up “a true murderers’ row”—Cruz, Lee, Hawley, Cotton—sounding like “the world’s largest wingnut xylophone” as they interrogated Merrick Garland on his alleged crimes, thus proving, over and over, “These are not serious people worthy of governing.” Tom Cotton wanted Garland to imprison protesters outside Brett Kavanaugh’s house, aka “threatening the life of a Supreme Court Justice”; asked if the soft-on-crime Garland thought “citizens of dangerous cities in America should seek asylum in Honduras, where the murder rate is lower than New Orleans”; and yelled Garland had “directed the FBI to investigate parents for being white.”
Garland, who’d issued a memo specifically naming “violent extremists”: “I did not.” Cotton: “So after you directed the FBI to investigate parents for being white…” Josh Hawley blasted the arrest of a pro-life terrorist—“You used an unbelievable show of force, with guns that, I just note, liberals usually decry, but you’re happy to deploy them against Catholics and innocent children,” and shrieked, “How many informants do you have in Catholic churches?! How many?!”
Ted Cruz, having just been seen fist-bumping in triumph after blocking a bill to help meet veterans’ medical needs after exposure to toxic burn pits, harangued Garland with a belligerent speech about Hunter Biden; when Garland said, “Can I answer the question?”, Cruz screamed, “No, you cannot!” Ah, reasonable governance in action.
Still, the House saw most of the stupid, with the fiery Jamie Raskin tirelessly battling against it. For the occasion, Raskin, who’s undergoing chemotherapy, donned a newly fashionable velour bandanna gifted to him from musician Steve Van Zandt, a synchronicity people loved: “A rock star embracing another rock star!” “Total mensches, both of you,” “Are you the Raskin Twins or the Van Zandt Brothers? Either way, I’m either going to benefit from genius teaching or extraordinary entertainment.” Thus did Raskin set out to elegantly eviscerate “the very distinguished gentlelady from Colorado” Lauren Boebert.
First up, COVID. When Boebert screeched about China and Wuhan, Raskin coolly noted all the times Trump praised them, suggesting that if she had a problem with the Chinese government, “You would have to pin that on your favorite President Donald Trump.” He also cited a book by Trump COVID special adviser Dr. Deborah Birx in which she charged “the lethal recklessness of Trump’s policies on COVID cost Americans hundreds of thousands of lives.” His dry punchline: “I’m sure you read her book.”
Gleeful observers: “Dark Raskin is throwing more shade than an umbrella store” and, “It’s like Michael Jordan dunking on grade-school children.” He did the same with jobs: “I heard the very distinguished gentlelady from Colorado mention job creators. I assume she was responding to President Biden, since 12 million new jobs have been created under Biden, whereas millions of jobs were lost under the prior president.” Etc.
In one of his finest moments, Raskin also sought to “educate our very distinguished colleague” for a longstanding “grammatical error”—the habit of using “Democrat” as an adjective, as in the “far-left Democrat plan”—which “grates on our ears” because it’s a noun. “I am beginning to suspect that this word usage is intended to be an act of incivility,”‘ he politely noted, before turning the tables. “It’s as if every time we mentioned the other party, it just came out…‘Oh, the Banana Republican Party,’ like we’d mention, ‘the Banana Republican member.’ But of course we wouldn’t do that.”
Saving the best for last, in response to the GOP Big Lie—”They say, ‘Who knows, maybe he won, maybe he didn’t'”—Raskin’s soaring oratory this week on the difference between truth and lies, and why it matters: “America must reject the GOP’s dangerous nihilism about the impossibility of separating truth from lies, a derangement brought on by Donald Trump but now infecting their whole party… Our whole judicial system is based on the difference between truth and lies. Our system of democratic governance rests on truth and facts—not lies and conspiracy theories…That’s what democratic government is.”
Later, he tweeted, “We cannot let (the lies of McCarthy, Carlson et al) become the Orwellian editors of our past, or the authoritarian authors of our future.” Damn. May we one day have a governing body of Raskins. For now, in these fraught and scary times, we salute you and we thank you, sir.
Republished with permission from Common Dreams, by Abby Zimet
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