Finally Friday Reads: Crazy Arizona Woman brings more Chaos to Congress

Woman with a Red Zinnia, 1891.Mary Cassatt

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Just when you thought the Republicans had cornered the market on crazy, weirdly-dressed women in Congress, Senator  Kyrsten Sinema says hold my beer.  The Arizona Republic features an op-ed written by the Senator this morning. “Sen. Kyrsten Sinema: Why I’m registering as an independent.  Opinion: The Arizona senator explains why she has left the Democratic Party.”  Every party needs a pooper, and I’m sure Chuck Schumer’s now singing that song about her.

In catering to the fringes, neither party has demonstrated much tolerance for diversity of thought. Bipartisan compromise is seen as a rarely acceptable last resort, rather than the best way to achieve lasting progress. Payback against the opposition party has replaced thoughtful legislating.

Americans are told that we have only two choices – Democrat or Republican – and that we must subscribe wholesale to policy views the parties hold, views that have been pulled further and further toward the extremes.

Most Arizonans believe this is a false choice, and when I ran for the U.S. House and the Senate, I promised Arizonans something different. I pledged to be independent and work with anyone to achieve lasting results. I committed I would not demonize people I disagreed with, engage in name-calling, or get distracted by political drama.

Helene Schjerfbeck’s Self-Portrait, 1912

She’s obviously missed the part where Mitch McConnell caters obsessively to his base and donors and isn’t interested in anything else.  The White House announced that their relationship with the Senator won’t change.  It’s hard to miss the impact this will have on the next two years. At least Joe Manchin has stayed with the party to give them power while firmly rooted in his donors and self-interest. Given the recent results in the Arizona midterms, I wonder what she thought this move would do for her chances of reelection and finding campaign staff to work for her. I can’t imagine she’s not going to lose staff over this decision.

Aaron Blake has this analysis at the Washington Post. “The politics of Kyrsten Sinema’s party switch.”

Three days ago, we wrote about a few reasons the Georgia Senate runoff — and whether Democrats’ majority would grow to 51-49 — mattered, practically speaking. One of those reasons? The possibility of a party switch.

That has already come to pass: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) announced in a series of interviews, a video and an op-ed Friday that she will re-register as an independent. She becomes the first senator to leave her party since Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in 2009.

Like Specter, Sinema looked set to face an arduous primary if she sought reelection with her former party, given the maneuvering of Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) to run against her. So the move makes some sense for her personally.

That sounds like she would effectively caucus with Democrats — that is, align with them for purposes of organizing the Senate — but for some reason is avoiding saying so directly. And she has said she’s not sure whether her desk will remain on the Democratic side of the Senate. Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether her move would change the balance of power in the Senate, she responded, “that’s kind of a D.C. thing to worry about.”

This question doesn’t immediately matter when it comes to whether Democrats will retain the Senate majority, but it does matter. They will have at least a 50-49 edge as long as Sinema doesn’t caucus with the GOP. But if her plan is to leave the Democratic caucus, that would make Sen. Raphael G. Warnock’s (D-Ga.) win in Tuesday’s runoff potentially hugely significant.

Of course, we’ll never know what Sinema might have done if Warnock hadn’t won. At that point a party switch without caucusing with Democrats would have meant shifting the Senate majority to Republicans. (That has happened before; Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords left the GOP to become an independent who caucused with Democrats 21 years ago, flipping the Senate majority.) Her calculus might have shifted in that scenario: However little Democratic support she’d get in a potential 2024 reelection bid, imagine her trying to appeal to any of the Democrats who elected her in 2018 after having handed the Senate majority to the GOP.

The first thing to note is that it remains unclear whether Sinema will continue to caucus with Democrats, as two other independents in the Senate do. When asked about this, Sinema spokesman Pablo Sierra-Carmona said merely that “she intends to maintain her committee assignments from the Democratic majority. She has never and will not attend caucus messaging or organizational meetings.”

Head of a Woman, Albrecht Dürer, circa 1520

So, did she just decide to be more annoying than Kari Lake and Blake Masters? Well, it did steal the Arizona headlines from Brittney Griner. Maybe she just needs to make it all about her today. Moving on to Brittney, who is now home with her family.  We’re glad you’re home!

Brittney Griner returned to the United States early Friday, nearly 10 months after the basketball star’s detention in Russia made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad and set off a political firestorm.

Griner’s status as an openly gay Black woman, her prominence in women’s basketball and her imprisonment in a country where authorities have been hostile to the LGBTQ community heightened concerns for her and brought tremendous attention to the case. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after her arrest complicated matters further.

The deal that saw Griner exchanged for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout achieved a top goal for President Joe Biden. But the U.S. failed to win freedom for another American, Paul Whelan, who has been jailed for nearly four years.

Asked if more such swaps could happen, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that “everything is possible,” noting that “compromises have been found” to clear the way for Thursday’s exchange.\

Biden’s authorization to release Bout, the Russian felon once nicknamed “the Merchant of Death,” underscored the heightened urgency that his administration faced to get Griner home, particularly after the recent resolution of her criminal case on drug charges and her subsequent transfer to a penal colony.

Woman with fan (1917-1918) by Gustav Klimt

Raw Story’s Travis Gettys reports, “Five power substations attacked in Pacific northwest similar to strike that caused outages in North Carolina.  This is looking like a coordinated effort now.

The FBI is investigating at least five attacks on electricity substations in the Pacific northwest similar to one that caused widespread power outages in North Carolina.

Representatives from Puget Sound Energy, the Cowlitz County Public Utility District and Bonneville Power Administration confirmed the attacks took place in November, although the FBI declined to confirm the investigations and it’s not clear whether any of the damage resulted in service disruptions, reported the Seattle Times.

“BPA is actively cooperating with the FBI on this incident and has encouraged other utilities throughout the region to increase their vigilance and report any suspicious or similar activity to law enforcement,” said Douglas Johnson, a spokesman for BPA.

Johnson declined to give details about the equipment that was damaged, but he said a “deliberate physical attack” at a Clackamas, Oregon, substation damaged a fence and equipment over the Thanksgiving holiday.

A spokesman said two Puget Sound Energy substations were damaged last month but declined to provide details, and a spokeswoman said two Cowlitz County Public Utility District substations in Woodland, Washington, were damaged by vandals in mid-November but have since been repaired.

Three Young Surrealist Women Holding in Their Arms the Skins of an Orchestra, Salvador Dalí, 1936

Republicans remain in disarray as they seriously underestimated their chances of a red wave and grabbing a good-sized majority in the House. CNN reports, “House Republicans brace for doomsday scenario if McCarthy falls short of 218 votes for speaker.” 

As a right-wing faction threatens to tank his speakership ambitions, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy delivered a promise: “I’ll never leave,” making clear he has no plans to drop out of the race even if the fight goes to many ballots on the floor.

“I’ll get 218,” McCarthy told CNN, referring to the votes he’d need to become House speaker.

But Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, a conservative hardliner who is challenging McCarthy to be the most powerful member of Congress, doubled down on his commitment to stop the California Republican’s ascension.

“I’m not bluffing,” Biggs told CNN on Thursday when asked if he would drop out.

With the increasing likelihood that the speaker’s race could go to multiple ballots – something that hasn’t happened since 1923 – McCarthy’s allies and foes alike are starting to quietly game out the next steps if he can’t get the necessary 218 votes on the first round and they move into uncharted territory.

McCarthy’s supporters are vowing to keep voting for him on multiple ballots, and GOP sources said there are early discussions about a floor strategy for that potential scenario, including whether to recess the House or let the votes keep rolling – no matter how long it takes.

To prevent that from happening, McCarthy and his team have been engaged in serious talks with a group of conservatives, including over potentially giving them influential committee assignments and more power to drive the legislative process. GOP sources said those negotiations are still early in the process and could ultimately end up giving the group some aspect of what the hardliners desperately want: additional power to seek a sitting speaker’s ouster with a vote on the floor.

Asked if he would drop out of the race if he doesn’t get 218 votes on the first ballot, Biggs refused to say.

“I’m not going to talk about hypotheticals,” said Biggs, who lost his conference’s nomination to become speaker last month after securing 31 votes.

But in the case of a doomsday scenario – where neither McCarthy nor Biggs can get 218 votes on January 3 and neither drops out – some pro-McCarthy Republicans are signaling support for a different approach. Some said they would be willing to work with Democrats to find a moderate Republican who can get the 218 votes to clinch the gavel – a long-shot idea that underscores the uncertainty looming over the speaker’s race.

Eldzier Cortor, Southern Landscape, 1941, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment
Photo: Travis Fullerton © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The chickens are coming home to roost and shit on Donald Trump and his crime syndicate of a family.  This is from The Washington Post.  “Justice Department asks judge to hold Trump team in contempt over Mar-a-Lago case.”

Prosecutors have urged a federal judge to hold Donald Trump’s office in contempt of court for failing to fully comply with a May subpoena to return all classified documents in his possession, according to people familiar with the matter — a sign of how contentious the private talks have become over whether the former president still holds any secret papers.

In recent days, Justice Department lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell to hold Trump’s office in contempt, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sealed court proceedings. The hearing is scheduled for Friday, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The request came after months of mounting frustration from the Justice Department with Trump’s team — frustration that spiked in June after the former president’s lawyers provided assurances that a diligent search had been conducted for classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago Club and residence. But the FBI amassed evidence suggesting — and later confirmed through a court-authorized search — that many more remained.

One of the key areas of disagreement centers on the Trump legal team’s repeated refusal to designate a custodian of records to sign a document attesting that all classified materials have been returned to the federal government, according to two of these people. The Justice Department has repeatedly sought an unequivocal sworn written assurance from Trump’s team that all such documents have been returned, and Trump’s team has been unwilling to designate a custodian of records to sign such a statement while also giving assurances that they have handed documents back.

“The Watch” by Andrea Kowch,

I will end the Trump discussion with this piece from Susan Glasser at The New Yorker.  “Trump’s 2024 Campaign So Far Is an Epic Act of Self-Sabotage.  But is this really the end of an error?” 

The official campaign for the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination is barely three weeks old, but there is one clear takeaway so far: Donald Trump is running against himself—and losing. From his low-energy announcement speech at Mar-a-Lago to his dinner with the Hitler-praising Kanye West and the white supremacist Nick Fuentes, Trump has courted more controversy than votes since launching his bid in November. He has held no campaign rallies and hired no campaign manager. He has hosted a QAnon conspiracy theorist and helped raise money for the indicted insurrectionists of January 6th. More classified items have been found in his possession, and his Trump Organization was convicted in New York of a major tax-fraud scheme. He has scared away neither prospective opponents nor prosecutors, and, while openly courting extremists, he seems to be running on a campaign platform that is somehow even more nakedly driven by self-interest than his previous two bids. Just last week, he suggested jettisoning the Constitution so he could be reinstated to the office he was thrown out of by the voters in 2020. “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” he wrote in a post on his social network, Truth Social.

The fact that he actually put his objections to the Constitution in writing is a classically Trumpian flourish—one that seems more likely to be used against him in a court of law than to win him any support. In Georgia, when Trump’s handpicked candidate, Herschel Walker, lost the Senate race in a post-election runoff on Tuesday, Walker made a point of conceding his defeat and urging supporters to retain their faith in the legal order. “I want you to believe in America and continue to believe in the Constitution,” he said, in an implicit rebuff of his patron. You know things for Trump are bad when Herschel Walker, a man whom Georgia’s Republican lieutenant governor called “one of the worst Republican candidates in our party’s history,” has started rebuking him.

Since Walker’s loss, Republicans who spent the Trump Presidency lavishing him with public if often insincere praise have piled on as well, blaming Trump not only for inflicting Walker on the Party but for the G.O.P.’s generally bad performance in the midterms. No wonder the shifting conventional wisdom in Washington is that there’s no point in any of his potential Republican rivals formally jumping into the race anytime soon. Trump is doing more damage with his self-sabotage than any opponents could hope to inflict on him right now. Has there ever been a more awful start to a campaign?

Copyright © 2008 Linda Apple, “Power of Transformation.”

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is still making a nuisance.  This is from the Washington Post‘s Phillip Bump “There’s a reason Republicans didn’t want Greene on the trail.”  She’s also been out insulting Lindsay Graham. All we need is Boebert News, and we’ve got the trifecta for crazy.

Enter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). The fringe-right legislator appeared on the podcast of fringe-right commentator Stephen K. Bannon on Wednesday to identify a central cause for Walker’s loss: The GOP didn’t have Greene do enough rallies.

“Let me lay this out real clear for everyone to understand — and this is especially for the campaign consultants with the 30,000-foot view, where they look down on Georgia and arrogantly think they know how to win races in this state,” she said. “This is for [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell and [Sen.] Lindsey Graham and the rest of the Republican senators: You guys are the reasons we are losing races all over the country.”

“Let me let you know something, Steve,” she continued. “I was never asked, very often, by the Herschel Walker campaign to come speak at any of his campaign events. They only asked me to come to maybe two, I think? Two or three in my own district when he was campaigning all over the state.” She added that she found this “extremely insulting.”

It’s very easy after the fact to claim that your approach to a campaign would have resulted in victory. People do it all the time in politics; it’s like the guy who always knows how his football team could have pulled out a victory.

This little bit of gossip from Qwerty is wild. “Marjorie Taylor Greene blasts Lindsey Graham for “rudeness” and insulting her.”  I recommend Graham lay low because MTG always looks like she’s ready for a wrestling match.

Appearing on the Steve Bannon War Room podcast, Greene whined about not having a more high-profile role in Walker’s campaign.

“This is for Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and the rest of the Republican senators; you guys are the reasons why we are losing Republican races all over the country.

I am glad we have women in both houses of Congress and in major roles in the Biden/Harris administration.  The Trifecta of Crazy, however, is getting far too much attention, and I think that’s what they’re after.  I’m not suggesting women have to go back to floppy bow ties and suited skirts to be taken seriously, but a little professionalism and less drama would certainly be appreciated.  Also, it’s not all about you ladies!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

22 Comments on “Finally Friday Reads: Crazy Arizona Woman brings more Chaos to Congress”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Have a great weekend!

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    I love the paintings!

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Now there are reports of tampering at several substations in Florida.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Trump’s Attorneys in Closed-Door Court Hearing After Contempt Reports
    Lawyers seen entering closed-door hearing in Washington court
    Hearing comes amid news reports of grand jury subpoena fight

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. dakinikat says:

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  9. dakinikat says:

    Rayne on emptywheel

    Jack Dorsey is a crypto Nazi. He’s been encouraging Musk for some time, and now he’s nudging him to take all remaining restraints off the Nazis Musk has already freed, including insurrectionists like Roger Stone. “[M]ake everything public now,” which will allow right-wing propagandists to run amok and distort past moderation decisions.

    The way Twitter responded to Trump’s racist crap back when Dorsey was at the helm should have been clue enough; the donation Twitter made to the ACLU was just whitewash, the few hundred thousand a feint when Musk would spend billions to upend the entire place to free his Nazi fanbois’ speech.

    Dorsey tried to play both sides but it was ultimately easier to let his buddy Musk strip away the veil. Or hood, if you’d prefer.

    Bari Weiss is a Nazi apologist who thinks she can escape what Nazis do by being their handmaid, carrying Nazis’ water, chopping their wood for them.