America's Two Party System Is Not Just Dysfunctional; It's Poisonous
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” said Mitch McConnell a couple of days ago. “Senate races are just different— they’re statewide; candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.” And candidate quality has been severely hampered by Trump’s interference, whether as part of his self-aggrandizement criteria, as in most cases, or because he was bribed by interested parties in other cases— as he was when he endorsed J.D. Vance in Ohio and Blake Masters in Arizona. His candidates— both his Senate candidates and his House candidates— are fine for primaries in the Party of Derangement, but not viable in swing states and swing districts.
Writing for the American Independent, Alex Henderson reported the GOP has nominated over 20 QAnon candidates this cycle, from incumbents like Marjorie Traitor Greene (GA), Lauren Boebert (CO), Mary Miller (IL) and Mayra Flores (TX) to crackpot challengers including Omar Navarro (CA), J.R. Majewski (OH), Billy Prempeh (NJ), Alison Hayden (CA), Johnny Teague (TX), Mike Cargile (CA), Sam Peters (NV), Darlene Swaffar (FL)…
This morning, Punchbow’s John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman gave a preview of what Congress will look like if the Republicans win a majority of seats. They confirmed that the Republicans who win seats “will likely be pro-Trump hardliners. This means a lot of 2020 election deniers who don’t see Biden as the rightful president and are ready for any kind of showdown they can get will likely be coming to Congress…There’s a high probability that House Republicans will impeach Biden or other administration officials. McCarthy will come under enormous pressure to do this, although like Speaker Nancy Pelosi heading into 2019, it’s not something he or other senior Republicans really aspire to do. Trump was impeached twice, meaning there will be an element of revenge for some House Republicans. The former president also isn’t likely to be shy about calling for it either, believing it could help his own political agenda of returning to the Oval Office. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra could also find themselves targeted for removal. There are a number of ways for House Republicans to justify this– Hunter Biden, the border crisis, the White House’s response to the Covid pandemic, Garland’s October 2021 memo on violent threats to school boards, failure to comply with House GOP investigations, etc. The list could be lengthy, although the reasoning squishy. Of course, impeachment won’t mean anything in the end since Biden and/or his Cabinet officials won’t be found guilty in a Senate trial and won’t be removed from office. It could help Biden’s standing if he chooses to run for reelection. And if this is all that House Republicans achieve, it won’t be much of an accomplishment to parade before voters in 2024. McCarthy’s big challenge is to make sure he doesn’t become seen as the roadblock for his new majority— the ‘Boehner Dilemma’— while still being a somewhat reliable partner in governing.
McCarthy and other top House Republicans will have a majority that is anti-government, anti-Washington and anti-moderation. If House Republicans try to “unwind” some of the Democratic initiatives from this Congress– say the “red flag” gun control law or the Inflation Reduction Act– that’s not gonna fly. If they try drastic cuts to government spending or programs, that won’t work either. As we noted, “Fire Fauci!” isn’t realistic either under this scenario.
House Republicans can and will pass bills, but Biden and a Senate Democratic majority will block them. Of course, the reverse is true for Senate Democrats and Biden in terms of new legislative initiatives. These won’t go anywhere if McCarthy says no. House Republicans will have a lock on any new tax and spending initiatives. Blocking Biden and the Democrats on that front will be a win for them.
…[Appropriations] is the one “must do” annual task, and there has to be some compromise in order to make it happen. Yet how that will happen next year under this scenario is uncertain.
There very likely will be an omnibus spending deal in the lame-duck session even if Democrats lose their majority, along with passage of the annual defense authorization bill. After that— as we’ve suggested before— the federal government may be funded for the rest of Biden’s first term by continuing resolutions.
There are a number of Republicans who talk about using these bills to “defund the FBI” or to cut the Justice Department’s budget in retaliation for investigating Trump. They’re considering once again reviving the Holman Rule, which would allow House Republicans to target one federal employee’s salary. Say Dr. Anthony Fauci, for instance.
Of course, the Holman Rule hasn’t worked in decades and won’t under these circumstances either.
There’s also a sizable contingent of lawmakers in both chambers who want to see defense spending increase. That’s not going to happen unless Democrats get something in return. So some common ground will have to be found on Pentagon funding and the annual defense authorization bill. Perhaps another cromnibus?
[A government shutdown] is a possibility, although it’s really dumb and never works out for Republicans. McCarthy has been through shutdowns— three since he’s been in the leadership— and so have Steve Scalise and Elise Stefanik. McCarthy knows it’s a weak hand to play and Biden has a huge advantage. Also, McConnell loathes shutdowns, so don’t expect Senate Republicans to have the House GOP’s back in that case.
…The posturing around raising the debt limit has become intensely counterproductive. This is because it’s not just the U.S. government that’s impacted if there’s a debt default. It would cause a global economic crisis.
The current thinking is that the federal government won’t hit the debt limit until late summer or fall of 2023. This gives everyone [Lauren Boebert? Carl Paladino? Ronny Jackson?] time to figure something out.
But like government shutdowns, using a debt limit showdown to force changes in tax and spending policy is an enormously risky approach that never works.
What a mess! But the Democrats have their own mess to deal with. Their members are now terrified by AIPAC and crypto-billionaire sam Bankman-Fried, unable and unwilling to fight them and ready to just surrender to conservatism… and that includes the so-called “Progressive” Caucus. Watch corrupt Wall Street Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, handpicked by AIPAC, became House Democratic leader when Pelosi retires. (You thought she was bad?!)
For me, The Intercept is a generally trusted source of news. Yesterday Austin Ahlman didn’t do his homework. That title is so misleading: With Progressives Split, Rep. Josh Gottheimer May Be Gaining A New Ally In Congress. Ahlman was on the mark to identify Gottheimer, No Labels, Sam Bankman-Fried, Josh Lafazan as the bad guys in the race for the open Long Island seat that Tom Suozzi gave up to run for governor. (He came in third with 13% and lost his own district.) Suozzi has endorsed the most conservative candidate to succeed him, Josh Lafazan, who is also being backed by Republican-oriented No Labels and the conservative crypto billionaire, Sam Bankman-Fried. What Ahlam got wrong was to imply that there is more than one progressive in the race. There isn’t. There are 3 conservative males and progressive champion Melanie D’Arrigo. He also wrote that Lafazan “appears increasingly likely to win,” which isn’t true and appears to be pulled right out of his ass.
Right now Bankman-Fried is giving heavily to support 4 exceptionally bad puppet candidates— Lafazan, Francis Conole (Syracuse), Maxwell Frost (Orlando) and Laura Gillen (Nassau/Queens)— 4 of the worst candidates running as Democrats in 2022. His Protect Our Future PAC, which pretends to be about healthcare and has zero to do with anything other than electing malleable conservative puppets who will help elect Hakeem Jeffries Leader and will help rig the system in favor the the predatory crypto Ponzi scheme. He’s spent several million dollars on the four puppet candidates, more on Lafazan, who has always run on the Conservative party line, than the others. As Ahlman wrote, “The support from cryptocurrency interests, which Lafazan appears to have actively courted during his campaign and time in the Nassau County Legislature, gives him a financial advantage over a crowded field… Voters in the 3rd District have a history of electing corporate-friendly Democrats. Suozzi, who has endorsed Lafazan, is considered one of the staunchest defenders of business interests in the caucus. But while Suozzi is a reliable defender of key Democratic priorities like firearm regulation, abortion rights, and LGBTQ+ protections, Lafazan’s history suggests there are few, if any, issues he is unwilling to compromise on in order to secure elected office. That Lafazan has not rejected the sizable outside support raises further questions about his independence from corporate interests and conservative activists who have supported his prior runs for public office. Lafazan, who registered as a Democrat in order to run for Congress last year, has accepted the ballot line of a far-right New York political party in his last two runs for office and has long touted his close relationships with local business interests— including a recent endorsement from corporate interest group No Labels, which worked to halt the passage of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda last year. Lafazan, who is presenting himself as a mainstream Democrat in his campaign’s political advertisements, did not respond to multiple requests to comment for this story.”
During his reelection bids in 2019 and 2021, Lafazan, who caucuses with the Democrats in the Naussau County Legislature, accepted the ballot line of the far-right Conservative Party, which touts extremist stances against gun control, abortion rights, criminal justice reforms, and a host of other issues. While Lafazan has distanced himself from the progressive Working Families Party [which says something about these phonies], on whose ballot line he has also appeared, he defended his association with the Conservative Party earlier this year, telling local outlet City & State New York that “the Conservative Party’s two biggest priorities were taxes and substance abuse— and they happen to agree with me on both of those issues.” His continued alignment with the party’s stances on taxes in particular signals that he is likely to continue courting corporate interests while in Congress.
Lafazan put even more distance between himself and the Democratic base following the uprisings over the murder of George Floyd. After declaring to a crowd of protesters that “institutional racism is alive and well in this country, and in 2020, racism is alive and well in this county,” Lafazan appeared to then reverse his position and curry favor with local police unions by supporting staunchly pro-police legislation that that sought to make law enforcement officers into a protected class and restrict bystanders’ ability to record police interactions the following year.
Local leaders, including the NAACP’s Long Island Regional Director Tracey Edwards, condemned Lafazan’s apparent opportunism in stark terms at a hearing for that legislation in August 2021. After recounting Lafazan’s words to Black Lives Matter protesters, Edwards expressed disbelief at Lafazan’s turnaround. “Which legislator are you?” she asked repeatedly.
Despite the considerable blemishes on Lafazan’s record, mainstream and progressive Democrats in the district appear poised to enable his election by failing to coalesce behind one of the three other candidates competing for the seat: Suffolk County Deputy Executive Jon Kaiman [who is nearly as conservative as Lafazan], Democratic National Committee member Robert Zimmerman [an establishment corporate Clinton Democrat], and progressive activist Melanie D’Arrigo [and the Blue America endorsee].
I grew up in this district, have friends galore who live there and I have no idea where Ahlman got this bullshit: “No challenger is emerging as an ideal candidate to consolidate behind and overcome Lafazan, who has raised over $1.6 million in addition to his support from special interests. There is no public polling available to indicate which candidates are competitive, but fundraising records and endorsements indicate a two-man race between Lafazan and Zimmerman.”
There is an ideal candidate: D’Arrigo, who doesn’t take corporate cash, which Ahlman seems to penalize her for, although Long Island voters may not do. In fact, he seems to collate the ability to raise corrupt cash with winning elections. Much of his information seems to have come from the Zimmerman campaign. He never spoke with the D’Arrigo campaign. Great work, Intercept!