Hours before a likely, senseless government shutdown, the goons and sycophants of a GOP House Dysfunction Caucus lurched through a fact-free Biden impeachment clown show the esteemed Jamie Raskin called an “invertebrate appeasement” of fanatics heeding their master’s voice “like flying monkeys on a mission for the Wicked Witch of the West.” Raskin and other Dems were smart, tough, caustic, often hilarious—Jasmine Crockett for the brutal win!—which gives us hope: A Republic, if you can keep it.
The so-called impeachment inquiry by a House Oversight Committee rabidly intent on exposing the villainy of an evidently non-existent “Biden Crime Family” offers the latest proof, if we needed it, of “the utterly depraved state of the GOP.” To be clear: Sure, we have enduring gripes about Democrats. But they have principles, policies idea (and sometimes the will to enact them), they don’t have the malignant likes of Jordan, Gosar, Boebert, Gaetz, Greene et al, nor are they in thrall to a chaos caucus that “wants to burn the whole place down.”
And until they do, lest we forget, they’ve proposed a host of uber-cruel actions: Cutting housing subsidies for the poor by 33% amidst soaring rents, cutting home-heating assistance for low-income families by 70% heading into winter, forcing over a million poor women and children onto a wait-list for food assistance, and over $150 billion cut from child care, education subsidies, medical research and other noble ventures in a “bottom line (so) singularly focused right now on achieving our conservative objectives” that a McCarthy aide, having catalogued the atrocities, ended by happily declaring, “Hail Satan!”
Speaking of: Behind them, of course, is a delusional, similarly merciless despot-in-chief who’ll do literally anything to escape a staggering 91 felony charges. Meidas Touch, suggesting Trump may have “broken too many of (the media’s) brains” for us to register how evil he remains, lists the insane things he has said he’ll do once re-elected (after he illegally buys a gun): Arrest all homeless people, build 10 “freedom cities with no government regulations, bring back Mike Flynn and appoint more Clarence Thomas bots, seize university endowments if they’re “Marxist,” prosecute Gen. Milley, Comcast, NBC and arguably the rest of us for treason, execute drug dealers, end the Constitution, Department of Education, absentee voting, democracy itself.
Little wonder, then, this week’s “debate” among the losers and riffraff who want his job hit the same rock-bottom, “holy crap,” “flat-out unwatchable” low. Pence will solve mass shootings by quickly killing the shooter, Scott says LBJ’s Great Society was worse than slavery, Vivek makes Haley “dumber…every time I hear you,” nobody wants to leave the island, everyone goes off the rails.
The next day, it was implausibly, even more ingloriously followed by an impeachment debacle so devoid of substance that top House Oversight Democrat Jamie Raskin—God we love him—dubbed it “a Seinfeld impeachment,” a nothing-burger, about…nothing. Its nothingness was rendered yet more flagrant by the simultaneous failure of sorta Speaker Kevin McCarthy to undertake anything resembling governance to try to keep democracy running, prompting Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig to introduce a “My Constituents Cannot Afford Rebellious Tantrums, Handle Your Shutdown Act, aka MCCARTHY Shutdown Act, to urge he “stop negotiating with crazy” and start docking Congress members’ paychecks, one day’s pay for every shutdown day. “Let’s get real,” said an exasperated Raskin on the stupidity—hours from a shutdown born of intransigent chaos that “threatens the well-being of every American”—of grandstanding deadbeats “launching an impeachment drive based on a long-debunked and discredited lie.” “No foreign enemy has ever been able to shut down the United States government,” he noted, “but now MAGA Republicans are about to do just that.”
Said impeachment drive, led by an inexhaustibly inept James Comer, follows an eight-month investigation punctuated by feverish pronouncements on its growing “mountain of evidence” of Joe’s and Hunter’s nefarious crimes, which had somehow not been unearthed during literally years of previous, desperate GOP searches for them. At last, Thursday’s opening hearing brought them to light—all the wild speculation, conspiracy theories, posturing, fakery, quackery, “sad-sack theater” and “spreading of false claims with impunity.”
It also opened an explosive clown car of witnesses who haven’t witnessed anything, have no connection to Hunter or Joe Biden and no knowledge of their actions: Eileen O’Connor, a former Bush official who worked in the DOJ 20 years ago, accountant Bruce Dubinsky, who often goes on FOX to attack Hunter, and the GOP’s go-to “legal scholar”Jonathan Turley, who defended Trump at his 2019 impeachment and—pot/kettle—warned about “lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger.” Democrats also called on impeachment expert and normal person Michael Gerhardt.
Alas, with all that MAGA firepower, a much-vaunted 12,000 pages of evidence, and a sweaty Jim Jordan incessantly shrieking about Biden’s sinister “meetings” and “shakedowns” and “brand”—wait, he had steaks and his name in gold on cheesy hotels?—they came up with zilch in the way of credible evidence of wrongdoing—an astounding fact that New York Rep. Dan Goldman, the Democrats’ lead counsel in Trump’s impeachment who’s repeatedly trashed this new, dumb, sham impeachment, suavely pointed out. His response to a bizarre, fact-free rant by GOPer Nancy Mace: “She stated that Joe Biden received bribes, committed money laundering and was involved in a prostitution ring. She claims there are texts, emails, and phone calls. Then she says we should trust the evidence. (And) I agree, because the evidence shows absolutely no connection between Joe Biden and any of those allegations.”
The GOP “know full well that what they are alleging is patently false,” he has said; they’re “pushing forward with it” and wasting “millions of taxpayer dollars,” with no Congressional vote approving it, “because Donald Trump wants them to.”
And so it went. The circus was amiably documented by, among others, Daily Kos‘ Mark Sumner, who with clearly more intestinal fortitude than the rest of us, advised, “You are better off just getting this thing drip-fed to you at a safe distance.” His commentary often focused on the GOP’s dubious “arguments”: “Comer starts right (off) treating every claim as if it is an established fact. It’s always easier to conduct a trial if you don’t have to prove anything,” and, “Begin with the assumption Hunter Biden was a corrupt influence peddler, because (you can) go to the next step if you skip having to prove that part.” Rep. Virginia Foxx asks O’Connor for “common knowledge” of how criminals act. Rep. Chuck Edwards says “ogglyargarch,” making Lauren Boebert “sound like a champion Ted Talk.” Rep. Glenn Grothman says…mumble…Hunter Biden…mumble. Jordan keeps yelling at Democrats to be quiet. Dubinsky knows all about fraudsters, “and where there’s smoke there’s fire,” though “he can’t say whether there’s any actual fire. Or smoke.” But he knows shell companies “more often than not” are used for illicit purposes (like Trump’s 500 shell companies?).
When AOC calls out a blatantly fake text message swiped from a QAnon site, she scowls, “This is an embarrassment.” Sumner helpfully notes, “Republicans are not embarrassed. They don’t do that,” then muses, “You know, it’s beginning to seem as if Republicans really don’t have anything on Joe Biden.” That becomes clearer when even Turley, who once advocated for a polygamist who raped a 13-year-old, attests, “Not anywhere in Hunter Biden’s investigation is there any allegation of Joe Biden doing anything wrong…I do not believe the current evidence would support articles of impeachment.” AOC goes three better, asking each witness in turn, “Have (you) presented any first-hand testimony of crimes committed by the President of the United States?” They all say “No.” Texas’ Greg Casar cites Jordan earlier calling the Trump impeachment “political theater.” “What would you call this?” he asks, and answers, “This is a disgrace.” In a stunning closer, he asks members to raise their hands if they believe both Hunter and Donald should be held accountable if convicted of a crime. No GOPer moves. Casar: “We cannot say equal justice for everyone under the law except the guy who pulls the leash.”
“The first hearing was a dumpster fire inside a clown car wrapped in a fiasco,” Charlie Sykes of The Bulwark later wrote. “To put it mildly, the GOP did not bring their best.” In contrast and sweet justice, the Democrats did. As dispiriting as the spectacle of GOP lies, feints and gross malfeasance was, the Democrats’ efficacy and quick-witted deftness in the face of idiocy offered solace. Jamie Raskin, armed with countdown-to-shutdown clock, repeatedly asks for a vote to call Rudy Giuliani and (convicted) Lev Parnas to testify about the years-old, “thoroughly demolished” Burisma conspiracy lie that got them here; so many Dems echo him one holds up a sign, “Where’s Rudy?”
Jordan shuts them all down, a violation of House rules, “because the last thing Republicans want in this hearing is someone who actually knows something.” Raskin also displays quotes of Repubs trashing their own hapless colleagues—”broken,” “clown show,” “lunatics,” “These folks don’t have a plan”—to expose “a staggering failure of leadership.” “If Republicans had a smoking gun, or even a dripping water pistol, they would be presenting it,” he said. “But they’ve got nothing.”
Still, Dems brought some welcome laughs. In “top tier trolling, John Fetterman, fresh from sartorial battles—he now has (union-made) merch declaring, “Revolting Slob” and “I Vote In This Hoodie”—sent a case of GOP-boycotted Bud Light “to salute Rep. Comer and his Team America™ squad as they embark on their historic impeachment journey.” And Jared Moskowitz was almost gleeful before the havoc. “What a day we are having here, right?!” he smirked. “As a former director of emergency management, I know a disaster when I see one.” He went on to mock Hurley for saying nothing rose to the level of impeachment—”Boy, that is awkward”—GOP graft and servility—”They’re all one-upping each other in the Donald-Trump-friend Olympics, trying to get invited to the sleepover at Mar-a-Lago”—and, with whiteboard, Trump “winning…half the impeachments in American history, but all the indictments.” “That’s why we’re here, so they can try to put some numbers on the board for Joe Biden,” he said. “The problem is, when you’re slinging mud, you gotta have mud.” Or votes, which Comer didn’t. “Impeach him right now,” he snapped. “I dare you.”
Ultimately, the day belonged to Texas Rep. Jasmine Crockett, a fierce, Black, incendiary former public defender and criminal justice advocate all out of fucks to give. First, she asked to enter into the record a fact sheet from the Congressional Integrity Project on Trump’s crimes. Comer objected; Crockett charged on. “Of course y’all gonna object, but we gon’ talk about it.” She cited the GOP’s 35-plus feeble speculations on Biden: “If they’d continued to say ‘if’ and ‘Hunter’ and we were playing a drinking game, I’d be drunk by now.” She noted, “When you’re talking about impeachment, you’re talking about high crimes or misdemeanors. But I can’t seem to find the crime.”
She began listing, in contrast, Trump’s lies, abuses, 91 felony charges. Then, picking up an infamous photo of classified documents in a preposterous place, she furiously waved it in the air. “When we start talking about things that look like evidence, they want to act like they’re blind—they don’t know what this is,” she thundered. “These are our national secrets…Looks like in the shitter to me!” On fire, she had much more: Debunked theories, lame allegations, documents on a Mar-A-Lago stage, Biden’s “crime” of “loving his child unconditionally,” the need to “get back to the people’s work.” But really, the shitter says it all.
Omg wow this pic.twitter.com/fnYcAXzcNf
— Acyn (@Acyn) September 28, 2023
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