Are the handful of GOP impeachment holdouts ‘centrists’?

A new Politico story gives a sliver of fresh information on House Republicans' push to impeach Joe Biden: Not only has just one Republican member announced he will vote “no” on a planned vote to formally authorize the so-far unofficial impeachment inquiry, but of the entire caucus, all except "about a half-dozen" members are now supporting the vote.

The opposing vote is from Rep. Ken Buck. He is nobody's idea of a moderate, but he has expressed repeated unwillingness to support efforts by his own party to nullify an American election and propagate hoaxes meant to delegitimize it. (Buck is also retiring from Congress at the end of his term.)

It's Politico's framing of the half-dozen holdouts that's a bit galling.

"House GOP chips away at centrist resistance on Biden impeachment inquiry," says the Politico headline.

Not sure how you can call the half-an-egg-carton of holdouts "centrists" on this one, Politico. Those six or so representatives hail from swing districts, the site reports, so the more appropriate designation might be "cowards."

It's not centrist to be undecided on whether or not an impeachment inquiry based on not even a shred of evidence of actual wrongdoing (but a whole lot of unhinged and provably false conspiracy theories) should go forward solely because the coup-attempting Donald Trump, now indicted in four separate jurisdictions, was impeached twice and Trump's also-coup-supporting admirers have been obsessed with inflicting revenge on everyone who ever caught Trump committing  alleged crimes. No, it's just cowardice. The undecided members are trying to gauge which will cost them more votes: supporting a clearly spurious and revenge-based impeachment and infuriating swing voters, or not supporting impeachment, which will infuriate the far-right elements of their base.

It's a tough call for sure, but it's not centrist. It's just a craven attempt to govern based not on principle but instead on what will best boost their own personal interests. By the same token, you could call a pickpocket who made off with their wallets a "centrist" because they ignored laws and morality to squarely focus on "What should I do if I want to have more money?"

And this bit is just maddening:

But some moderate Republicans argue that a lack of cooperation from Hunter Biden and other family members has forced the GOP’s hand. Formalizing the investigation would boost the GOP’s leverage in its pursuit of documents and witnesses, they say, and represents just one step in the process.

Come again? Hunter Biden is showing a "lack of cooperation" in disproving an ever-shifting range of conspiracy theories, most of them disprovable by even the most basic fact-checking?

How is he supposed to "cooperate" to disprove theories that have no supporting evidence to begin with? Republican hearings have brought forward "evidence," like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's public display of Hunter nudes almost certainly obtained through criminal hacking efforts in attempts to prove who-knows-what.

How is Hunter supposed to more fully "cooperate" with that probe? Do Republicans believe he must now strip naked in front of them, live and in person?

Well, Rep. Jim Jordan probably does.

The coverage of the Republican "impeachment" drive continues to be risible because journalists continue to note the utter lack of evidence as an aside or afterthought in stories that otherwise treat the Republican effort as a credible political process simply by virtue of Republicans willing it to be.

The story here is that despite a lack of evidence that the sitting president has done even a single untoward thing in relation to his son and despite increasingly circus-like efforts to promote hoaxes after Republican investigators could find nothing else, all but seven or so House Republicans support opening an impeachment inquiry anyway in a brazenly dishonest, politically crooked attempt to redirect attention from the unequivocal crookedness of their own coup-attempting, indicted, and openly fascist party leader.

The six or so possible holdouts aren't the story. The uniform corruption that has strangled nearly the entire Republican caucus, though, continues to be the story that will best predict the possible demise of American democracy itself.


Comer isn’t even trying as Jake Tapper makes fun of his Biden conspiracy theory on live TV

Comer's latest bombshell may be his worst dud yet

Hunter Biden asks to testify publicly. House Republicans scurry away in a panic

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Markos and Kerry give their thoughts on what the country is facing in 2024. The Republican Party is running on losing issues like abortion and repealing the ACA—with no explanation of what they plan on replacing it with. Trump has a lot of criming to atone for, and the Republican platform remains set on destroying democracy.

Fox News explains why America shouldn’t hear from Hunter Biden after Comer chickens out

House Republicans are still all-in on their plan to impeach President Joe Biden for Something Something Hunter Biden, even if they still haven't been able to work out the pesky details. But Hunter threw a wrench in the gears Tuesday morning with an offer to testify, in person, to the House Oversight Committee investigating him—but only if his testimony is public.

Crack Republican investigator and committee chair James Comer immediately shot that idea down, because at no point in the process did Republicans intend for Hunter Biden to actually respond to any of this. No, Republicans absolutely do not want Hunter to come in and testify publicly about their speculations and accusations.

Now Fox News and other Republican disinformation factories have to come up with some spin on why the House committee is right to not want the American public to hear Hunter's willing testimony. Acyn has the clip, so here's your shit show:

Fox News hosts trying to convince their viewers that a closed door deposition of Hunter Biden is better than a public hearing

— Acyn (@Acyn) November 28, 2023

Michele Tafoya: But I agree, I prefer hearings to be done behind closed doors, because I think they actually get to the heart of the matter, and they get some truth, and they can ask questions without preening for the camera, without all the grandstanding.

Yes, that's what the Republicans investigating the Something Something Hunter Biden conspiracy hate more than anything else: grandstanding. Comer and Jim Jordan are known nationwide for their unwillingness to do anything that looks like grandstanding. Republicans specifically selected lawmakers who would be least likely to tolerate grandstanding, which is why Comer and Jordan are joined on the committee by such level heads as—taking a deep breath here—Virginia Foxx, Glenn Grothman, Pete Sessions, Clay Higgins, Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Anna Paulina Luna, Paul Gosar, and Marjorie Taylor “Absolutely No Grandstanding Here” Greene.

The House hearings on Hunter Biden are likely the most dignified and least showboating hearings to ever have occurred in any Congress anywhere, in fact. They ooze decorum like Jordan oozes concern for college athletes’ welfare.

Hmm. The chyron identifies Tafoya as a "former NFL sideline reporter." During her many years on the field, I wonder if she ever discovered a football game going on.

“That is my preference, and for Abby Lowell, for his attorney to say, ‘well you all use that to misinform, and to distort the facts,’ well you know what? You can do that too. After he comes out of his closed door session, you feel free to knock yourself out and you can distort too.”

Ah, and there we have the perfect encapsulation of the Fox News mindset: The truth isn't important! Nobody wants to see the truth for themselves! What's important is how partisans want to "distort" the facts, and the other side can distort the facts too, and then Fox will broadcast the distorted facts that it thinks are best and those are what you, loyal couch potato, should then base your entire mushy worldview around. That's how America is supposed to work.

It seems like just last week House Republicans were loudly crowing about how America needed to see all of the Capitol security camera footage from the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—absolutely needed to see every bit of it (except for the bits they're going to withhold because of reasons and the bits where they're going to blur out faces so that nasty, nasty law-abiding Americans can't snitch on any more rioters than they've already snitched on). Now we're hearing that cameras and public broadcasts are bad and what Americans really want to know is what the loudest conspiracy freaks in Congress think they should know.

I mean, you can't say she's wrong here. Roger Ailes built a whole network around that idea and he died rich and only mildly discredited, shunned, and a social pariah.

“I mean, it's a silly argument and Comer has said, ‘fine, sit before us publicly, a public hearing, we will do that later. We want the closed door one first.’”

And if you can't trust Comer and Jordan to keep their word, who can you trust? Ask Jordan's old wrestling team: This is a man who's never told a lie.

“And I think it's totally, totally appropriate. Hunter Biden would love nothing more than to sit, have cameras pointed at him, and try to generate the narrative that he wants to form.”

That darn grandstanding Hunter Biden. He tricked Rudy Giuliani into possessing his criminally hacked computer files. He tricked the least grandstand-y group of House Republicans to ever exist into displaying his hacked, private nude photos during a public hearing. He tricked them into focusing obsessively on all of the lowest moments of his life, using all of his worst failures as tabloid fodder for the sake of discrediting his father. Now he's trying to trick them into allowing him to tell his side of the story, after years of Republicans broadcasting their own version?

The absolute gall.


Hunter Biden asks to testify publicly. House Republicans scurry away in a panic

Looks like Jared Moskowitz seriously got under James Comer's skin

Hunter Biden condemns Republican hoax-promoters: A ‘real threat’ to others ‘desperate to get sober’

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Hunter Biden condemns Republican hoax-promoters: A ‘real threat’ to others ‘desperate to get sober’

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden has been the center of uncountably many Republican-crafted conspiracy theories, all of them after Donald Trump came to believe that Biden would be his 2020 general election opponent.

Hunter himself has mostly chosen to remain silent, but this past Thursday, he published an opinion column in USA Today condemning the effects the omnipresent Republican hoaxes might have on other substance abusers fighting to recover.

What troubles me is the demonization of addiction, of human frailty, using me as its avatar and the devastating consequences it has for the millions struggling with addiction, desperate for a way out and being bombarded by the denigrating and near-constant coverage of me and my addiction on Fox News (more airtime than GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis) and in The New York Post (an average of two stories a day over the past year).

The New York Post running two Hunter Biden stories a day for an entire year is evidence of a different sort of addiction. It's not clear why one is considered more disgraceful than the other.

The science of addiction and recovery has made great strides in just the past decade. However, far too few will ever experience the miracle of recovery unless we change the stigma around addiction.

For those of us who live in recovery and for those who love someone in recovery, we know how hard fought our newfound lives are in letting go of the shame and making amends.

The weaponization of my addiction by partisan and craven factions represents a real threat to those desperate to get sober but are afraid of what may await them if they do.

Notably, the younger Biden specifically names some of the worst offenders.

My recent haircut turned into a wild conspiracy to evade drug tests, tabloids steadily splash nude pictures of me on their covers, and even a member of Congress displayed revenge porn of me on national television.

My addiction doesn’t justify Steve Bannon and Guo Wengui posting altered nude photos of me with “editorial creativity over the pictures.” My addiction shouldn’t permit the likes of Rudy Giuliani or a former Peter Navarro aide to debase and dehumanize me for their own gains.

What Hunter Biden doesn't mention is that the hoaxes Republicans have imposed on him have the strong stench of criminal behavior—and not on his part. Trump's first impeachment came about because Trump withheld aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the Ukrainian president into announcing a supposed "investigation" of a Rudy Giuliani-pushed hoax targeting Hunter. The hoax was debunked before Trump ever made the move, but the extortion attempt continued anyway.

When Giuliani and other Republican operatives later announced they were in possession of stolen data they claimed came from a Hunter-owned "laptop," it became the focus of a new ecosystem of hoaxes and conspiracy claims. But it now appears far more likely that the leaked data was obtained through criminal hacking efforts—and that the "laptop" itself never existed.


James Comer discovers another smoking water pistol

There is no laptop: Hunter Biden sues Rudy Giuliani

Fox News host did not expect his Biden conspiracy to get blown apart on live TV

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Prosecutors probe whether Giuliani was drunk when advising Trump. Does it even matter?

The New York Times and other outlets are reporting that federal prosecutors are taking a very close look at Rudy Giuliani's alleged drinking problems as they seek to prosecute Donald Trump for his illegal acts to nullify his 2020 presidential election loss. From the Times:

The office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, has questioned witnesses about Mr. Giuliani’s alcohol consumption as he was advising Mr. Trump, including on election night, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Smith’s investigators have also asked about Mr. Trump’s level of awareness of his lawyer’s drinking as they worked to overturn the election and prevent Joseph R. Biden Jr. from being certified as the 2020 winner at almost any cost.

Whether Giuliani was notably, speech-slurringly drunk during the times he was offering advice to Trump on how to contest the election's outcome may go a long way in scrubbing out Trump's claims that he was only acting on the advice of counsel when he undertook those illegal acts. If Trump was aware that his alleged lawyer was Barney Gumble drunk during the conversations where Rudy was pushing bizarre election conspiracy theories and offering, the pair now claims, attorney-client advice on how to pursue them, then Trump could hardly claim he was a naive victim blindly following that advice. It would show that Trump ought to have understood from the beginning that he was listening to the ramblings of an impaired man.

Personally, I'm not seeing it. Trump had been using Giuliani to source and publicize a mountain of utterly crackpot conspiracy theories throughout the election. It was evident even by 2019 that Giuliani's claims ranged from sloppy factual blunders to obvious disinformation attempts to full-on fictions. After the Robert Mueller-led probe of Russian election interference concluded in 2019, Giuliani began insisting that the election had actually been interfered with by "Hillary [Clinton], [John] Kerry and Biden people colluding with Ukrainian operatives."

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One of the most bizarre of all Giuliani-pushed conspiracy claims was that Ukraine was actually the nation behind the hacks of Democratic National Committee servers, and that Russia had been framed by Ukrainian or American officials. Giuliani believed a Democratic National Committee server had been spirited to and hidden somewhere in Ukraine by the DNC themselves, their cybersecurity firm, or someone else.

Not only did Trump willingly believe it, he believed it enough to ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate "the server" during the extortion-laden call that resulted in Trump's first impeachment.

Whether or not Rudy Giuliani was or wasn't sloshed enough to be an explosion hazard during this time seems hardly relevant; the man was transparently out of his gourd. He was spouting incoherent, looneytoons fictions long, long before election night, and not only was the national press awash with explanations of just how nonsensical and fraudulent Giuliani's claims were, Trump suffered through an actual bonafide impeachment as a direct result of believing Giuliani's delusional crap.

That would seem to suggest that Trump had every possible opportunity to realize Giuliani was giving him advice that was snow-globe-brain, television-static bonkers long before Giuliani was offering up advice on how to overturn an American election. Yes, it's possible that Giuliani was drunk the whole time; at best, that might show that a sober Trump is still stupider than a stumble-drunk Rudy.

Most of the Times story centers on the apparently widespread knowledge among Giuliani's peers and allies that he has had a devastating drinking problem for "more than a decade." "His consistent, conspicuous intoxication often startled his company," we are told a few years too late to do anyone any good, with "almost anyone in proximity" realizing that his drinking "has been the pulsing drumbeat punctuating his descent." But even then, half the article is devoted to how supposedly grand Giuliani was in his 9/11-punctuated heyday. It appears we will never be free of the hagiographies that have always brushed aside Giuliani's many past scandals in favor of a generic supposed heroism.

As for whether Giuliani was visibly and odiously drunk when he advised Trump to contest the election based on no evidence at all, though, it does appear to be true. The Times, again:

In interviews and in testimony to Congress, several people at the White House on election night — the evening when Mr. Giuliani urged Mr. Trump to declare victory despite the results — have said that the former mayor appeared to be drunk, slurring and carrying an odor of alcohol.

So there you go. It still seems to me that it hardly matters: Was it Drunk Rudy who called a vital press conference at the concrete driveway of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, or Sober Rudy? Was it Drunk Rudy who mistook some unknown substance for hair dye before rushing out to the press for a different press conference, or Sober Rudy?

I don't think we need to hold a match in front of his mouth to judge whether or not the man's judgment has been impaired these past few years. Trump may claim that he only did criminal things because his lawyers told him to, but it doesn't hold up when Trump chose those lawyers specifically because his White House legal team, Department of Justice legal team, and everyone else with common sense weren't willing to go along with plainly criminal acts like "seize the voting machines," "have Mike Pence declare you the winner by fiat," and "impose martial law."


There is no laptop: Hunter Biden sues Rudy Giuliani

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Jim Jordan’s based his career on enabling Republican crimes

With Donald Trump endorsing loud ally Rep. Jim Jordan for the speakership of the House, fellow Trump ally Rep. Steve Scalise's bid for the position may look futile. The whole point of Republicanism the last few years has been to purge anyone who might refuse to do what Trump says, so anyone with House Republican membership in 2023 is almost by definition there because they have promised to govern entirely from inside Trump's colon.

But Jordan's still got to make his own case. He had a go at it Friday morning, telling CNN reporter Manu Raju that the speaker's race will come down to "who can go tell the country what we're doing."

Jim Jordan trying to pitch himself as someone who can be the chief GOP messenger as he seeks to draw a contrast with Scalise. “I think this race comes down to … who can go tell the country what we're doing,” he told me Jordan weighs in on Trump endorsement

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 6, 2023

The odds are nine in 10 that you've never before heard Jordan use an indoor voice, as opposed to his usual "shrieking toddler furiously demanding to know why his diaper just got heavier" voice. In terms of telling the nation what House Republicans are doing, that would become trivially easy under a Jordan speakership. Jordan has devoted his House career to one issue above all others: letting Republicans get away with crimes.

Jordan's skill in letting people get away with crimes is how he became the shrieking voice of Republicanism that he's become. In 2018, Jordan was named by multiple former Ohio State wrestlers as one of the school officials who had been aware of the sexual molestation of athletes by team doctor Richard Strauss. Faced with multiple accusers who relayed specific instances and conversations with Jordan, Jordan loudly denied everything and reportedly pressured at least one former student to lie about it. Soon, he and his office began claiming that it was his accusers who were lying, not him.

Jordan's star began to rise immediately after that. The caucus apparently went starry-eyed at the vehemence with which Jordan attacked his accusers, and Jordan soon became the angry sweating voice of every House committee, probe, and publicity stunt he could be wedged into.

It's not overstating things to say that allowing allies to get away with crimes has been Jordan's top congressional focus. Before the sexual abuse allegations surfaced in 2018, Jordan had already become a face of the Republican obstruction of the probe into 2016 Russian election interference, dismissing federal intelligence assessments with new assertions that the probe was a political ploy by Trump-hating government officials. By 2019, he had been stuffed into the House Intelligence Committee as a temporary measure to act as "attack dog" in the House impeachment hearings resulting from Trump holding up military aid to Ukraine in order to extort anti-Biden propaganda from the Ukrainian government.

He would play similar roles until January 2021, when he joined a seditious conspiracy to nullify a constitutional election on Trump's behalf so that Trump could fraudulently declare himself the winner. Jordan was one of 126 House Republicans who signed an amicus brief to a Texas-led lawsuit asking for the results of multiple Joe Biden-won states to be declared invalid.

On Jan. 5, 2021, Jordan contacted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to promote the theory that then-Vice President Mike Pence could unilaterally block the counting of votes from Biden-won states. He is also known to have spoken "at length" with Trump on the morning of Jan. 6.

After insurrectionists had been removed from the Capitol on Jan. 6, Jordan was among those who still voted to contest the election's results.

Jordan later refused to testify about his own role and communications during the coup attempt, going so far as to defy a congressional subpoena demanding it.

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Jordan was almost certainly aware that the acts he helped facilitate were criminal. He was named as one of seven House Republicans who had probed the White House about potential pardons for House members who had facilitated what became a violent attempted coup.

His role in the post-failed-coup Congress has further congealed around support for Trump's criminal acts. When Trump was indicted in New York over hush money payments made during his 2016 campaign, Jordan demanded prosecutors' documents in the case—while coordinating his actions with Trump himself. Jordan similarly demanded the evidence against Trump be turned over after Trump was indicted in Georgia for his attempted election tampering.

Against the two federal indictments against Trump, Jordan's threats shift into the realm of the bizarre. He has thrown his weight behind plans to block funding from the federal departments and agencies behind the indictments. If the only way to keep Trump out of jail is to disband federal law enforcement efforts wholesale, Jordan and other coup supporters are willing to consider it.

It would be brazenly close to a criminal racketeering scheme if Jordan did not have the unique protections of Congress to hide behind. And all of that stands apart from his other major new effort: to impeach Biden or indict members of his family, even with faked evidence or none at all.

Jordan's view of law and order is consistent. For at least three decades, when faced with a crime committed by an ally, Jordan has sought to ignore it, cover it up, and attack those who discovered it. Against his enemies, there seems no evidence too flimsy for Jordan to claim as proof. It's an unambiguously fascist approach, to be sure, but in starker terms, it is simply crooked as hell. Jordan is on board with whatever criminality his allies may attempt and can be counted on to sabotage justice wherever he can.

There's a very good case to be made that it's Jordan who is the crookedest politician in Washington, D.C. Not Rep. George Santos, indicted though he may be. Not Sen. Bob Menendez, hidden gold bars or no. Jordan's acts to immunize Republican criminality don't stem from schemes of self-enrichment; he appears to truly believe that Republicans ought to be able to commit crimes for the sake of the Republican "movement," and that the movement is obliged to sabotage probes and indictments of those that do.

So that's what Republicans will be "doing" under a Jordan speakership: sabotaging laws outright to allow criminality in their own ranks. It's what he's based his career on. It's the reason Trump counts him as an ally. It's why Republicans embraced him and elevated him to begin with. And if the party is bent on becoming a criminal enterprise and coup-supporting opponents of democracy itself, they would be hard pressed to find a better spokesman than an abuse-enabling, crime-defending, unabashed crook.


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Fox News host suggests ‘Biden and his boys’ framed Sen. Menendez to, uh, sell jets

I've asked this before and I'll likely ask it again, but can anyone figure out what the hell Fox host Jesse Watters is going on about this time?

JESSE WATTERS (HOST): Primetime finally figured out why gold bar-Bob Menendez is being taken out. The president of Turkey, Erdogan, wanted to buy F-16s from us, but gold bar-Bob, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee put a hold on the jets. And now that the hold is lifted, Turkey's on an F-16 shopping spree.

Erdogan admitted it, saying this: "One of our most important problems regarding the F-16s were the activities of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez against our country." But it wasn't just a $20 billion sale that cleared, Turkey was holding up Sweden's application to NATO until they got their F-16s. And now that gold bar-Bob's gone, Turkey gets their jets, Sweden gets its NATO membership. Look how nicely things fall into place for Biden and his boys, when two gold bars are found in a Senator's house. Eh, it's probably a conspiracy theory.

That's the Media Matters transcription from Fox News' Oct. 2 broadcast of “Jesse Watters Primetime,” the program that replaced Tucker Carlson's show after Tucker got too big for his conspiracy britches and had to be sent to a farm upstate. And yes, there are elements of actual news stories rattling around in there. Now-indicted Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez did indeed use his chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee to block the sale of F-16 jets to ostensible NATO ally Turkey, a hold that Menendez based on Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's stonewalling of Sweden's NATO membership, "aggression against [Turkey's] neighbors," and dismal human rights record. It’s worth noting that the committee’s new chair, Sen. Ben Cardin, seems to be in no hurry to lift the block.

Erdogan was nearly giddy about Menendez's indictment, saying last week that his removal from the chairmanship "gives us an advantage."

From these facts, we get a Watters snowball of speculation that even he has to pass off as a conspiracy theory, though only after lodging it inside Fox News viewers' gullible heads. So President Joe Biden "and his boys" get things to fall into place by, uh, planting gold bars in a senator's house? Biden and his boys got Menendez "taken out," framing a Democratic senator for acts of corruption because, uh, Turkey really wanted those jets?

What the airborne monkey heck are you going on about, Jesse? Is it your genuine premise that an innocent and hapless Menendez was taken down by the Biden regime for offending Turkey's would-be strongman or for holding up a big defense contract?

Have you been guzzling any off-brand cough medicine lately, buddy?

Alas, this is par for the course for Fox News primetime hours and is one of the reasons why as far back as 20 years ago, studies concluded that watching the network somehow made viewers even less informed about the news than people who watched no news at all. The reason Watters was pushed into the primetime slot vacated by Carlson was because he best matched Carlson's own brand of flagrant racism and bizarre conspiracies, providing Fox with the best chance of keeping Carlson's viewers glued to their TVs.

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You would definitely be less informed after watching Watters’ latest rant. Turkey has not gotten its jets. Sweden is not yet a NATO member (though Turkey did relent on its opposition), and Turkey's "shopping spree" doesn't consist of anything more than wanting the jets they originally ordered. If this is a conspiracy by the so-called Biden crime family to dispose of a senator who was being too mean to Tayyip Erdogan, of all people, they may have to smuggle gold bars into a lot of other senators' houses.

The Menendez indictment has highlighted the conservative movement’s disbelief that anyone would want to prosecute felonies committed by "important" people. Watters and other conservative pundits appear to be totally flummoxed by the thought that prosecutors would indict someone not for political reasons but instead because doing crimes is illegal even if you're wearing a flag pin and proclaiming yourself above such laws. Instead, they speculate, Menendez must only have been indicted because he was getting in the way of international arms deals or because the Justice Department needed to frame an important Democrat for committing crimes so that their indictments of Donald Trump for committing other crimes would look more legitimate.

That's led to Republicans either clamming up or actively defending Menendez, even as a majority of Democratic senators have demanded his resignation.

Republican lawmakers launched an impeachment inquiry into President Biden as an evidence-free act of retaliation against Democrats for impeaching Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 coup attempt and other corruption. It's already clear they don't consider the rule of law to be anything but a tool to be used against political enemies, one to be hidden away again whenever one of their own gets caught doing a crime (or 10).

All of that said, Watters will likely get into huge trouble on this one from the higher-ups, and not for the reasons you might think. Watters is mocking Menendez as a goldbug, calling him "Gold Bar Bob," but precious-metals companies prodding conservatives into hoarding overpriced gold and silver are some of Fox News' most reliable remaining advertisers. Jesse is making fun of the network's most-valued viewers here, and you know network bigwigs aren't going to let that one stand.


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Even Fox News can’t spin House Republicans’ evidence-free ‘impeachment’ hearing

Fox News tries very, very hard to parrot Republican talking points, but there are a few things that even they can’t make themselves say. Host Neil Cavuto drew the short straw of having to tell his viewers that the House impeachment inquiry hearings—the "breaking news" that viewers were seeing on their screen—turned out to be a Grade-A nothingburger.

"I don't know what was achieved over these last six-plus hours," he confessed.

Hat tip to Acyn for the catch:

NEIL CAVUTO: All right. For the better part of six hours, I have been following these hearings, save an hour off to do my Fox Business show earlier today. I don't know what was achieved over these last six-plus hours. Welcome, everybody, I'm Neil Cavuto. I want to put in perspective here, though, and we are going to legally go through all the details, but James Comer, the Oversight Committee chairman, had said that there would be presented a mountain of evidence against Mr. Biden, he was referring to President Biden, but none of the expert witnesses today presented—yet—any proof for impeachment.

You think that's bad? He was just getting started.

Now to be clear, this was not about impeachment; this is about launching an impeachment inquiry. But it is worth pointing out that none of the witnesses today were fact witnesses. That means that none were involved in the investigation into the alleged activities in the first place. What's more, none of the witnesses testified today of direct knowledge of what Republicans have been claiming about Joe Biden.

In other words, that this—the way this was built up, where there's smoke, there would be fire. Again, I'm not a lawyer and I'm going to be talking to some darn smart ones in a moment, but where there's smoke today, we just got a lot more smoke.

We also say that the best they could say now, after this six-plus hours of testimony back and forth, is that they're going to try to get more bank records from Joe Biden and his son, says that they're needed to determine if a crime was committed. Understood. But none of that was presented today, just that they would need those records to further this investigation today, even though this occurs after months of Republican probes that failed to provide anything resembling concrete evidence.

That's Fox News’ initial reaction to Rep. James Comer's absurd and evidence-free "impeachment inquiry," as delivered by Cavuto after the hearing's close. Will Cavuto now get calls from network executives excoriating him? Will ex-host Tucker Carlson try to call in a few remaining network favors to get him fired for inappropriate truth-telling?

Honestly, it's not likely. Sean Hannity and a few of the network’s other most rabidly shameless hosts might give it a go, but there's no polishing this turd. Republicans still seem to be forgetting that at some point, in this tit-for-tat attempt at impeaching Joe Biden in retaliation for the two impeachments of Donald Trump, you do have to come up with some actual evidence for your frothing claims. Even Fox News might cut these turkeys loose at this rate.

Sign the petition: Denounce MAGA GOP's baseless impeachment inquiry against Biden


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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Republicans ignoring Boebert: ‘Come on’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a little exasperated with Fox News and with House Republicans after one of the loudest, Rep. Lauren Boebert, was thrown out of a theater production of Beetlejuice after vaping, recording the performance, and fondling her date. That's normally the sort of behavior that would result in a humiliated resignation, but as we all know, Republicans can break basic social norms with abandon.

And it is just so, so tiring. In a TikTok video, she said: 

All I gotta say is, I can't go out to lunch in Florida in my free time, not doing anything, just eating outside, and it's wall-to-wall Fox News coverage. And then you have a member of Congress engaging in sexually lewd acts in a public theater—and they got nothing to say.

I danced to [the band] Phoenix once in college, and it was, like, all over the place. But putting on a whole show of their own at Beetlejuice and it's—and there's nothing? I'm just saying be consistent. That's all I'm asking for. Equal treatment. I don't expect it—but come on.

Yes, we all know the same people shrieking over books about crayons or that Anne Frank once wrote "penis" in her diary won’t have a thing to say about a Republican being tossed out of a theater for pawing her date in an audience full of families. Fascism means you get to break rules far in excess of what you'd tolerate from the powerless. That's the whole deal.

And yes, we know it won't change. Democrats can't throw Boebert out of Congress, and Republicans won't have a peep to say about it, but at the least Democrats need to avoid the news channel that's as infamous for brushing off repulsive Republican behaviors as it is for creating faux-scandals when a Democrat goes to lunch.

Sign the petition: No to shutdowns, no to Biden impeachment, no to Republicans


Watch a belligerent Boebert get booted from theater

Conservatives unleash conspiracy theories about Lauren Boebert's lewd date

Senate Republicans offended by gym shorts, less so by public groping

We did it! And it's all thanks to Molech! We're devoting this week's episode of "The Downballot" to giving praise to the dark god himself after New Hampshire Democrat Hal Rafter won a critical special election over Republican Jim Guzofski, the loony toons pastor who once ranted that liberals make "blood sacrifices to their god Molech." Democrats are now just one seat away from erasing the GOP's majority in the state House and should feel good about their chances in the Granite State next year. Republicans, meanwhile, can only stew bitterly that they lack the grassroots fundraising energy provided by Daily Kos, which endorsed Rafter and raised the bulk of his campaign funds via small donations.

Biden warns Trump is an existential threat to democracy. The media whiffs it

In advance of his speech at the United Nations on Tuesday, President Joe Biden traveled to New York on Sunday and spent time at a fundraiser in a Broadway theater Monday night. In front of supporters there, he hammered at the threat Donald Trump presents to the nation's democracy.

“Let there be no question, Donald Trump and his MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy American democracy. And I will always defend, protect and fight for our democracy,” Biden said, according to the Associated Press.

CNN has more from the speech:

“I will not side with dictators like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. Maybe Trump and his MAGA friends can bow down and praise him, but I won’t,” Biden said.

“I don’t believe America is a dark, negative nation, a nation of carnage driven by anger, fear and revenge. Donald Trump does,” he added later.

Citing Trump’s vow if reelection to act as “retribution” for his supporters, Biden asked: “Did you ever think you’d hear a president of the United States speak like that? Well, I believe we are a hopeful, optimistic nation driven by the proposition that everyone deserves a shot.”

CNN describes the speech as "some of his fiercest condemnation to date" of coup conspirator Trump, but none of Biden's remarks seem especially controversial. The AP itself has reported on Trump and his allies’ plan to overhaul the government on authoritarian premises. Trump has repeatedly told crowds he was their "retribution," including at a Waco, Texas, rally that coincided with the 30th anniversary of the deadly Branch Davidian standoff. On a fundamental level, one cannot plausibly argue that a man who organized a mob of known-violent supporters, refused to support their disarming, and had them march on the Capitol in an attempt to block the certification of his opponent's election victory is not a dangerous threat to democracy itself.

Trump is pressing for fascist revolution, and nothing Biden said at the fundraiser is false. But instead of acknowledging that, the media writes stories that play off the potential ensconcing of an authoritarian cultist as one of many competing election factors. Here's the AP's take:

It was the among the president’s strongest rebukes of the Republican front-runner and former president, who is facing criminal charges for his role in the effort to overturn the 2020 election. And it comes as the political pressure is ramping up from Republicans in the House who have opened an impeachment inquiry into Biden in an effort to tie him to his son Hunter’s business dealings and distract from Trump’s legal peril.

Biden said he wanted to send the “strongest and most powerful message possible, that political violence in America is never never never acceptable.”

What the hell is that?

On one hand, "criminal charges for [Trump's] role in the effort to overturn the 2020 election." On the other hand, Biden is facing an "impeachment inquiry"—one that has editorially been determined to be a House Republican attempt to "distract from Trump's legal peril," even as the reporting excludes the crucial detail that the allegations against Biden are, to all available evidence, utterly false.

CNN's version is no better. "Biden takes on Trump and age questions in new fundraiser speech," goes the article’s headline. The first paragraph focuses on Biden accusing Trump of being "determined to destroy democracy." But paragraph two brings us the apparently similarly important news that:

Biden also sought to rebut chronic questions about his age, claiming his long experience in Washington gave him the wisdom to steer the nation forward.

Ah. On the one hand, a potential end to democracy. And on the other, Biden referenced attacks on his age. You can see how both of those things would perk up political journalism's ears to roughly the same extent.

On the same day Biden made these remarks, we learned that Trump has been using classified documents as scratch paper to pass messages to his assistant. It's the sort of buffoonish incompetence or intentional criminality—it's unclear which—that should disqualify anyone from government service.

If press rooms can recognize that the House Republican "impeachment inquiry" of Biden is a straight-up attempt to "distract" from all the crimes Trump's accused of, then the rest of it should follow. That means the House Republican attempt is crooked. That means the party itself, or at least its most powerful members, are attempting themselves to subvert democracy by propagating hoaxes.

Follow the ball, here, reporters. Yes, we grant you that Biden is slightly older than his also-old opponent. But what is the thing future historians will be talking about when chronicling this election and its outcome? What are the threads that will be weaved together to explain these times, presuming a future Republican Party allows history books to accurately record them?

It isn't poll numbers on how many Americans think Joe Biden is old, CNN. It's not a few paragraphs tacked on about Biden's "tepid fundraising schedule," AP, after getting bored with Biden's warnings about our imperiled democracy a mere half-dozen paragraphs in. Figure this out.

Sign the petition: Trump attempted a coup on January 6. He is a clear & present danger to democracy


Trump used classified notecards to write to-do lists for his Mar-a-Lago assistant

Failure to televise Trump’s federal trials will unleash flood of MAGA conspiracy theories

The press needs to stop pretending Trump’s word salads amount to policy thoughts

Kerry talks with Drew Linzer, director of the online polling company Civiqs. Drew tells us what the polls say about voters’ feelings toward President Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and what the results would be if the two men were to, say … run against each other for president in 2024. Oh yeah, Drew polled to find out who thinks Donald Trump is guilty of the crimes he’s been indicted for, and whether or not he should see the inside of a jail cell.

Senate Republicans offended by gym shorts, less so by public groping

To everyone’s horror, this weekend's big news revolved around video of Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert and her date vaping, taking flash photos, and groping each other in public during a performance of “Beetlejuice The Musical.” She got booted from a Denver theater for that, then ended up lying her ass off about it before she realized there was video, then shoved out a half-assed apology after the video was released and it showed much, much more than any of the rest of us wanted to see.

It’s no surprise that her colleagues on the right have responded with radio silence. In recent years, Republicans have honed an intentional strategy of “whataboutism” whenever one of their own gets caught in a scandal that would have political leaders calling for someone's resignation back when we all pretended politicians had a shred of decency. It's rote.

Russia boosted Trump's 2016 election with a bit of strategic hack-and-dump; Rudy Giuliani comes back with a new theory that Russia's enemy Ukraine was behind it all. Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner scores $2 billion in "investments" from Saudi royals immediately after departing the White House; suddenly House lawmakers are frothing with impeachment-level rage over the thought that President Joe Biden's son might have gotten a board position years ago based more on his name than his qualifications. Some Republican gets caught in a sex scandal, and that's enough for another two weeks of every other Republican in politics calling some other subset of Americans "groomers."

I'm not one who has much patience for "this thing is meant to be a distraction from that other news" claims, but a new Republican outrage at somebody not following The Esteemed Senate Dress Code came on conspicuously close to the weekend's video-assisted news of Boebert getting tossed from a theater for acts of public indecency that she would likely be prosecuted for if she wasn't a state big shot.

That's right: The latest Republican push is expressing public horror over a Democrat not meeting Senate dress code standards. Engaging in mammalian rutting behavior while the adults and children around you are trying to enjoy a high-priced musical production might count as a bit uncouth, in the same way that ransacking the Capitol might count as an ordinary tourist visit in Republican minds. But the sheer indecency of not following the dress code? Well, I never.

Police. Firefighters. Judges. Pilots. They all have uniforms. Ours is a suit and tie. We shouldn’t abandon it because it’s more comfortable to wear sweats.

— Mike Lee (@BasedMikeLee) September 18, 2023

Thank you for chiming in, well known Etiquette Master and Respecter of Our Institutions

— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) September 18, 2023

Axios reported that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has told the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms not to enforce the dress code anymore. This led to thinly veiled as well as direct jabs at Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, who is known to favor hoodies and gym shorts. The Pennsylvania senator was not particularly in the mood to take etiquette lessons from the House Revenge Porn Caucus.

Thankfully, the nation's lower chamber lives by a higher code of conduct: displaying ding-a-ling pics in public hearings.

— Senator John Fetterman (@SenFettermanPA) September 18, 2023

Yeah, this is the thing that will bring America down: not wearing formal attire when you're gleefully showing off stolen pictures of the president's son's penis on C-SPAN. Or wearing sweats when you're getting publicly mauled by your date in a manner that would get you fired as a strip club lap dancer, just after vaping in a pregnant woman's face, rather than wearing something classy.

This is the hill Republicans will die on rather than comment on the video that just 10 years ago would have resulted in the immediate resignation of any politician anywhere. Pay no attention to the humping couple in the theater: This guy over here doesn't have his tie on!

Sign the petition: Denounce MAGA GOP's baseless impeachment inquiry against Biden


Conservative youth convention no longer promoting Boebert appearance

Divorce is hard, new places are too: Read Boebert's BS apology for 'Beetlejuice' behavior

Lauren Boebert’s claims go up in smoke as new video emerges

What do you do if you're associated with one of the biggest election fraud scandals in recent memory? If you're Republican Mark Harris, you try running for office again! On this week's episode of "The Downballot," we revisit the absolutely wild story of Harris' 2018 campaign for Congress, when one of his consultants orchestrated a conspiracy to illegally collect blank absentee ballots from voters and then had his team fill them out before "casting" them. Officials wound up tossing the results of this almost-stolen election, but now Harris is back with a new bid for the House—and he won't shut up about his last race, even blaming Democrats for the debacle.