Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

We’re in day 3 of a non-functioning House of Representatives. It’s basically a government shutdown, since the Senate can’t legislate without the House participating. This morning, my Representative Katherine Clark had harsh words for the Republicans who have paralyzed Congress. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic leader, followed up.

Nancy Pelosi had this to say on Twitter. The Hill: Pelosi: Republicans’ ‘cavalier’ attitude in Speaker election ‘frivolous, disrespectful.’

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is criticizing the GOP’s approach to the Speakership election as it reaches its third day, saying that Republicans’ “cavalier” attitude is “frivolous, disrespectful.”

“All who serve in the House share a responsibility to bring dignity to this body,” Pelosi tweeted late Wednesday. “Sadly, Republicans’ cavalier attitude in electing a Speaker is frivolous, disrespectful and unworthy of this institution.” 

“We must open the House and proceed with the People’s work,” she continued.

The House has been brought to a standstill as the body has been unable to elect a Speaker during the first two days of its new session. The House is not able to conduct any additional business, including swearing in new members, until a Speaker is elected. 

Kevin McCarthy is twisting himself into a pretzel with endless concessions to the terrorists in the “Freedom Caucus.”

The Washington Post: McCarthy makes fresh concessions to try to woo hard-right Republicans in speaker bid.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has made fresh concessions to a group of 20 GOP lawmakers in hopes of ending their blockade of his speakership ahead of votes Thursday, a stunning reversal that, if adopted, would weaken the position of speaker and ensure a tenuous hold on the job….

In a major allowance to the hard-right Republicans, McCarthy offered to lower from five to one the number of members required to sponsor a resolution to force a vote on ousting the speaker — a change that the California Republican had previously said he would not accept.

EIPVXCQ2ZVABDDKDCH2T4SYEAUMcCarthy also expressed a willingness to place more members of the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus on the House Rules Committee, which debates legislation before it’s moved to the floor.

And he relented on allowing floor votes to institute term limits on members and to enact specific border policy legislation.

It remained unclear early Thursday whether the concessions could move the holdouts, several of whom have said they will not support McCarthy no matter what. The House is scheduled to reconvene at noon Thursday for more voting. But some moderates have grown irate at the moves, after pledging last month they would never support a rules package that gives one House member the power to vacate the speaker….

In another bid to woo holdouts, the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC endorsed by McCarthy, and the conservative Club for Growth, which had initially signaled opposition to McCarthy as speaker, announced a deal Wednesday to stay out of open House primaries for safe Republican seats.

“Kevin McCarthy has effectively led House Republicans from the Minority to the Majority and we want to see him continue to lead the party so we can pick up seats for the third cycle in a row,” Conservative Leadership Fund President Dan Conston said in a statement.

During the midterm elections, the McCarthy-endorsed group worked to elect more moderate Republican candidates considered more willing to govern, an intervention that alienated staunch hard-liners in the House Freedom Caucus.

Club for Growth President David McIntosh said Wednesday that the agreement not to interfere with “safe-seat primaries” fulfilled a major concern they had pressed for.

Meanwhile the House is paralyzed. Imagine if this were a presidential year. Tomorrow is January 6, the anniversary of the insurrection and the day the Congress would need to meet to certify electoral votes.

From the Bulwark article:

As Kevin McCarthy repeatedly fails to secure enough votes to become speaker and the House of Representatives sits in limbo, Democrats say they are increasingly concerned about the risks to national security involved in a prolonged period without any active members or ability to conduct legislative business.

Currently, every elected member of the House has yet to be sworn in to office, leaving committee structures up in the air and creating a backlog of onboarding for freshmen and their staffs.

Lawmakers’ families who came to Washington for the pomp and circumstance of the first day, including the swearing-in of members, have grown exhausted waiting. House staffers have lamented they have no work to start until there’s a successful vote. Meanwhile, freshmen members have been prevented from accessing official House emails; some prematurely sent out press releases announcing their swearing-in, even though it has yet to happen.

A more serious matter is the committee work. Although most committees under a GOP majority are expected to shift the focus of their work, there is some committee work that should have continued over from the previous Congress and already been underway. Right now, however, members of Congress are unable even to view classified documents. This has some Democrats uneasy about the next few days—and if the speakership impasse drags out, potentially much longer.

“We can’t even do basic things,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Cal.) told The Bulwark. “We can’t conduct any oversight. You can’t have an entire branch of government simply not function. And we don’t have a House right now because no one’s even sworn in.”

“And the chaos on the Republican side is having real consequences for the country and it’s going to get very serious very fast,” he added. “Imagine if there’s some unexpected crisis either domestically or somewhere in the world and you needed Congress to act. We couldn’t right now because we don’t have a speaker.”

Lieu also painted a picture of a future speakership fight with even more disturbing consequences—if a dispute like this were to occur during a year in which Congress is charged with certifying a presidential election….

Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, joined Lieu in suggesting that Republicans are neglecting their duties and putting the country in a dangerous position.

“If God forbid there was a crisis we couldn’t respond to it in any way,” Nadler said. “Either [Republicans] do and they don’t care or they don’t understand it.”

From The New York Times: ‘Nobody Is in Charge’: A Ragged G.O.P. Stumbles Through the Wilderness.

After two days of chaos and confusion on the House floor, Republicans have made it abundantly clear who is leading their party: absolutely no one.

From the halls of Congress to the Ohio Statehouse to the back-room dealings of the Republican National Committee, the party is confronting an identity crisis unseen in decades. With no unified legislative agenda, clear leadership or shared vision for the country, Republicans find themselves mired in intraparty warfare, defined by a fringe element that seems more eager to tear down the House than to rebuild the foundation of a political party that has faced disappointment in the past three national elections.

Even as Donald J. Trump rarely leaves his Florida home in what so far appears to be little more than a Potemkin presidential campaign, Republicans have failed to quell the anti-establishment fervor that accompanied his rise to power. Instead, those tumultuous political forces now threaten to devour the entire party.

Nowhere was that on more vivid display than the House floor, where 20 Republicans on Wednesday stymied their party from taking control for a second day by refusing to support Representative Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker.

“Nobody is in charge,” John Fredericks, a syndicated right-wing radio host and former chairman of Mr. Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns in Virginia, said in an interview. “Embrace the chaos. Our movement is embracing the chaos.”

That ideology of destruction defies characterization by traditional political labels like moderate or conservative. Instead, the party has created its own complicated taxonomy of America First, MAGA and anti-Trump — descriptions that are more about political style and personal vendettas than policy disagreements.

This iteration of the Grand Old Party, with its narrow majority in the House empowering conservative dissidents, represents a striking reversal of the classic political maxim that Democrats need to fall in love while Republicans just fall in line.

“The members who began this have little interest in legislating, but are most interested in burning down the existing Republican leadership structure,” said Karl Rove, the Republican strategist who embodies the party’s pre-Trump era. “Their behavior shows the absence of power corrupts just as absolutely as power does.”

Read the rest at the link.

The House will meet again this afternoon, and we’ll see if McCarthy’s concession make any difference. Even if they elect him, he will be an extremely weak speaker and the crazies will still be in charge. I just saw on CNN that Republicans are expected one or two more losing ballots and another adjournment. This is insane.

In other news, President Biden is showing real leadership.

Yahoo News: In bipartisan event with McConnell, Biden shows contrast with House Republicans.

“Total chaos.”

That was how President Biden described conditions on the frequently congested Brent Spence Bridge between Covington, Ky., and Cincinnati, where he arrived on Wednesday to tout implementation of his $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, of which $1.5 billion will be used to fix the notorious crossing.

But the phrase, uttered on the banks of the Ohio River, could have just as easily been used to describe the state of affairs on the Potomac, where chaos has reigned for the last two days, as Republicans failed to select a speaker of the House of Representatives. In what is turning out to be an increasingly acrimonious battle, a group of around 20 far-right conservatives are resisting what had once been seen as the all-but-certain elevation of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to the speakership.

Their resistance, which has resulted in six inconclusive votes since Tuesday, has embarrassed mainstream Republicans while providing the White House with a narrative almost too obvious in its juxtapositions.

Flanked by members of both parties, including Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, both of whom are Republicans, Biden was happy to bask in the contrast with congressional GOP members, who won control of the House in last November’s election. Two days into the 118th Congress, however, Republicans have managed only to lay bare their ideological and political differences.

“I just think it’s a little embarrassing,” Biden told reporters from the South Lawn of the White House before departing for Kentucky. “And the rest of the world is looking.”

The speakership fight seemed to validate Biden’s argument — made insistently in the months and weeks before last year’s midterms — that the Republican Party had fallen captive to a pro-Trump “MAGA” faction that was uninterested in governing. Inside the West Wing, staffers have been watching the GOP’s internecine fight with quiet relish, recognizing the scenes of intraparty acrimony as a kind of political gift that was best left to unspool on its own.

“I hope they get their act together,” Biden told reporters.

Read more at the Yahoo link.

Elon Musk’s Twitter is another embarrassment for right wingers.

From The Washington Post: Hackers leak email addresses tied to 235 million Twitter accounts.

Records of 235 million Twitter accounts and the email addresses used to register them have been posted to an online hacking forum, setting the stage for anonymous handles to be linked to real-world identities.

That poses threats of exposure, arrest or violence against people who used Twitter to criticize governments or powerful individuals, and it could open up others to extortion, security experts said. Hackers could also use the email addresses to attempt to reset passwords and take control of accounts, especially those not protected by two-factor authentication.

“This database is going to be used by hackers, political hacktivists and of course governments to harm our privacy even further,” said Alon Gal, co-founder of the Israeli security company Hudson Rock, who spotted the posting on a popular underground marketplace.

The records were probably compiled in late 2021, using a flaw in Twitter’s system that allowed outsiders who already had an email address or phone number to find any account that had shared that information with Twitter. Those lookups could be automated to check an unlimited list of emails or phone numbers.

Twitter said in August that it had learned of the vulnerability in January 2022 through its reward program for bug reports and that the vulnerability had been accidentally introduced in a code update seven months before that.

In July, hackers were spotted selling a set of 5.4 million Twitter account handles and associated emails and phone numbers, which Twitter said was the first it learned that someone had taken advantage of the flaw.

The much larger data dump was almost certainly compiled in the same way and has been offered for private sale and circulated for a while before the recent publication, Gal said.

Read more at the WaPo link.

More stories to check out today:

Alexandra Petri: Opinion: The House speaker election is so embarrassing (for you).

Raw Story: Former GOP House aide issues stark warning about some of McCarthy’s concessions.

From Debbie Stabenow’s website: Senator Stabenow Announces She Will Not Seek Re-Election in 2024.

The New Republic: George Santos Caught Lying About Voting on Something He Wasn’t in Congress For?

Just Security: Insiders’ View of the January 6th Committee’s Social Media Investigation.

The Washington Post: At trial, Oath Keeper alleges specific plan to stop vote count.

The House is in session again. Will the Republicans elect a speaker or will they continue to paralyze Congress? What are your thoughts? What other stories are you following?

38 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice Thursday, Sky Dancers!! Or should we call it Ground Hog Day?

  2. darthvelma says:

    If I hear one more poop-flinging republican freedumb caucus loony talk about “fixing a broken system” that hey HELPED FUCKING BREAK…I am going to lose every bit of my shit.

    I am beyond tired of their fucking grandstanding. Just nominate your guy again and lose again.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    McCarthy loses 7th ballot.

    • darthvelma says:

      Oh good grief – Gaetz voted for Trump. *rolls eyes*

    • quixote says:


      I mean … just …. Wow.

    • dakinikat says:

      Still twenty votes against McCarthy. The guy from North Carolina got all self-righteous about their protest candidate, talked about change, and said we could have a black speaker of the house who would be a fundamental change and then walked right into the entire dem caucus shouting yes ! Hakeem Jeffries!!

      • darthvelma says:

        It’s really embarrassing. As a ex-pat Texan, seeing Chip Roy’s punchable mug repeatedly yesterday was bad enough. And now I’ve got Dan Bishop making my current state look like it’s full of poop-flinging idiots. Ok, so it kinda is. But still.

        I was going to ask if someone from a state I haven’t lived in could get up and make a fool of them…and then Matt Gaetz stepped up and did it.

        • quixote says:

          Admittedly, it’s pretty close, but isn’t it living dangerously to try to outcompete Floriduh Man? 😛

          • darthvelma says:

            Yup. Everyone jokes that the unofficial motto of every other southern state is “thank god for Mississippi” but Mississippi’s is “at least we ain’t Floriduh”.

  4. dakinikat says:

    Russia risks becoming ungovernable and descending into chaos
    There is growing opposition to President Putin at home

    Mr Putin’s war is turning Russia into a failed state, with uncontrolled borders, private military formations, a fleeing population, moral decay and the possibility of civil conflict. And though confidence among Western leaders in Ukraine’s ability to withstand Mr Putin’s terror has gone up, there is growing concern about Russia’s own ability to survive the war. It could become ungovernable and descend into chaos.

    Consider its borders. Russia’s absurd and illegal annexation of four regions of Ukraine—Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia—before it could even establish full control over them, makes it a state with illegitimate territories and a fluid frontier. “The Russian Federation as we know it is self-liquidating and passing into a failed-state phase,” says Ekaterina Schulmann, a political scientist. Its administration, she notes, is unable to carry out its basic functions. The annexation will not deter Ukrainian forces, but it will create precedents for Russia’s own restive regions, including the north Caucasus republics, which are likely to head for the exit if the central government starts loosening its grip.

  5. dakinikat says:

    There’s an update on Damar’s Health. They’re saying he is making substantial process. He’s waking up, and he’s neurological processes are in tact.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    The eighth ballot has begun.

    • bostonboomer says:

      McCarthy loses eighth ballot.

      • quixote says:

        As the people who actually know, like Pelosi, point out, this isn’t really funny. It could be a disaster.

        But I have to admit all I’m doing is sitting here and giggling uncontrollably.

        • quixote says:

          Mainly because there’s a Very Simple Solution. Five Republicans decide to join the Dems and vote for someone (***cough*** Jeffries ***cough***) who can do the job.

        • dakinikat says:

          Who the hell is Rep. Kevin Hern?

          • darthvelma says:

            A republican named Kevin that Boebert could use to troll Kevin McCarthy.

            Yes, I believe she is just that petty.

            He’s also a whack-a-loon, but he’s a republican so that goes without saying.

          • dakinikat says:

            life ish
            Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) introduced the Protecting Life from Chemical Abortions Act, which will prevent the Executive Branch from declaring an abortion-related public health emergency. Second, this legislation reinstates safety regulations and in-person dispensing requirements for dangerous chemical abortions. It further bars the FDA from waiving these protections in the future.

          • NW Luna says:

            “chemical abortion”??? Life itself is a chemical process when you look at what everything is made up of.

  7. NW Luna says:

    Come on, they have an enormous supply of popcorn!

  8. dakinikat says:

    Tomorrow is January 6th. The insurrectionists are still working to gut our democracy.

    • darthvelma says:

      If they vote more tomorrow, every Democrat should point out that they’re voting for the only candidate for Speaker that did not support armed insurrection and treason.

      • bostonboomer says:

        McCarthy voted to overturn the election.

        • darthvelma says:

          Yup. I find it surreal that every republican name they throw out (even Gaetz’s votes for Trump) is an insurrection supporter. At this point, I think you could literally pick a person at random from the last census and you’d get someone better qualified and less batshit insane.

          Hakeem Jeffries is a fine choice and would be in any instance. But wow does his calm demeanor and ability to keep his caucus together make the other side look so so bad. 🙂

  9. bostonboomer says:

    I can’t believe they are taking a tenth vote!

    • darthvelma says:

      Did anyone else notice they aren’t showing the running vote total on C-SPAN for this round of voting?

      • darthvelma says:

        Nevermind. They finally popped it up on screen. And yes, I cannot believe this, but I was actually worried about shenanigans. This is what my country has come to.

        I’m going to go make a drink.

      • NW Luna says:

        Will this finally make voters understand what happens when they pick tantrumy toddler Republicans? Anarchists is what they act like, except in suits.

  10. NW Luna says:

    South Carolina struck down the abortion ban!

    The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state’s six-week abortion ban on Thursday, ruling that the law that restricted abortions after detectable fetal cardiac activity “an unreasonable restriction upon a woman’s right to privacy” and unconstitutional.

    The 3-2 decision means abortion in South Carolina is now legal until around 20 weeks of pregnancy. The ruling comes nearly two years after the state enacted the law, known as the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, which banned abortion after six weeks except in limited cases

  11. NW Luna says: