The GOP’s Texas platform is bonkers. You should see the rest of the party

Sure, the Republican Party is overwhelmingly backing a convicted felon, confirmed sexual assailant, business fraud, insurrectionist, and (alleged!) documents thief whose most endearing personality trait is his rascally inability to stop quoting Hitler, but have you seen what’s going on in Texas lately?

The Lone Star State, which has continually returned a criminally indicted attorney general to statewide office, is now looking to be a laboratory of new, exciting ideas, like “what if we shove all these unlabeled lab chemicals in a Hefty bag, light it on fire, and then stand around and see what happens?”

To read the Texas GOP’s recently passed, deeply un-American platform is to hate it—particularly if you’re a progressive ... or a moderate … or a moderate conservative who either has, knows someone with, or knows of someone with a womb.

As Karen Tumulty wrote in The Washington Post:

Just a few of the platform’s planks: that the Bible should be taught in public schools, with chaplains on hand “to counsel and give guidance from a traditional biblical perspective based on Judeo-Christian principles.” That noncitizens who are legal residents of this country should be deported if they are arrested for participating in a protest that turns violent. That name changes to military bases should be reversed to “publicly honor the southern heroes.” That doctors who perform abortions should be charged with homicide. That the United States should withdraw from the United Nations and that the international organization should be removed from U.S. soil.

Holy Mike Johnson! It’s enough to make you swallow your own tongue, assuming it wasn’t cut out years ago by your local Christofascists for uttering the sacred name of Barron Trump. What’s next, thought crimes? It won’t be long before Republicans seek to jail ordinary Americans for looking at pornographic images of consenting adults—or for not looking at pornographic images of Hunter Biden. (If Covenant Eyes hasn’t yet tweaked its filter to accommodate lurid photos of Hunter Biden, it really doesn’t understand its audience and should probably just shut down now.) 

And that’s not all! If you’re gobsmackingly horrified by the above, well, you should see what they want to do to democracy in Texas.

As reported in the Texas Tribune:

Perhaps the most consequential plank calls for a constitutional amendment to require that candidates for statewide office carry a majority of Texas’ 254 counties to win an election, a model similar to the U.S. electoral college.

Under current voting patterns, in which Republicans routinely win in the state’s rural counties, such a requirement would effectively end Democrats’ chances of winning statewide office. In 2022, Gov. Greg Abbott carried 235 counties, while Democrat Beto O’Rourke carried most of the urban, more populous counties and South Texas counties. Statewide, Abbott won 55% of the popular vote while O’Rourke carried 44%

So to review, Texas Republicans wants to jail abortion doctors while ensuring Greg Abbott can’t possibly lose the governorship, no matter how many killer mutant Sea-Monkeys he pours into the Rio Grande.

All of that is suitably horrifying, of course—and Texas Republicans are admittedly pushing the envelope further than other state parties—but Republican extremism and anti-democratic thinking have been running rampant of late, in case you somehow hadn’t noticed. And that’s a big opportunity for big-D Democrats.

First and foremost, the GOP is a party that embraces a literal felon who faces three more felony cases, all of which are arguably stronger than his first one.

It’s a party that, in newly red redoubts like Ohio, is brazenly attempting to thwart the will of voters on reproductive rights, vowing to do “everything in [its] power” to uphold restrictive abortion laws. 

It’s a party that’s rushed to pass new restrictive voting laws in response to Trump’s insistence that the racist, eternally demagoguing, pro-Putin candidate deserves to win every time.

It’s a party that, to a startling degree, has embraced and protected Putin, as well as openly autocratic Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

It’s a party that, post-Dobbs, has eagerly passed new, restrictive abortion laws, even as it tries to pretend it’s moderate on the issue. 

It’s a party that keeps hinting it will take an axe to Social Security and Medicare, which remain vital to the well-being of millions of Americans.

It’s a party that elevates ambulant absurdities like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s dog killing.

And it’s a party that’s apparently eager to ratify every fascist scheme that Trump wants to inflict on the American people. 

In other words, as Hopium Chronicles’ Simon Rosenberg tweeted, the current iteration of the Republican Party is “the ugliest thing any of us have ever seen.”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg we’re about to crash into at full speed if we’re not careful.

In 2020, the GOP neglected to release a platform in advance of its national convention, perhaps reasoning that Trump’s surpassing charm and wit were all that they needed—or perhaps worried that Trump wouldn’t read it and would wildly contradict its key planks. Or, more likely, they were worried that the GOP’s awful policies—psst, if you want to live a long, healthy life, don’t live in a red state—would actually shake people loose from their tribal fealties long enough to notice that they prefer progressive policies. (Which, to be clear, most of them do. Turns out millions of non-billionaires actually support raising taxes on billionaires. Go figure.)

Of course, despite ample evidence that the electorate as a whole has no use for GOP policy prescriptions—on abortion and a range of other topics—Republicans across the country (not just in Texas) somehow can’t resist saying the quiet parts out loud. 

I say we hand them a megaphone and encourage them to Trump front and center as often as possible. Because every time he talks, an angel vomits into a pail, and there’s only so much mess God is willing to put up with, even from his chosen one.

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Florida Democrat gives GOP a sarcastic taste of their own medicine

If Rep. Jared Moskowitz hadn’t won election to the House for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, he might have been a roast master. Moskowitz has a special knack for mocking MAGA House Republicans, particularly Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

On Wednesday, Moskowitz wanted to make a point about just whose bidding Comer was doing before heading into a hearing on “Influence Peddling: Examining Joe Biden’s Abuse of Public Office.” The hearing was yet another chapter in House Republicans’ failing and increasingly embarrassing attempt to use allegations about Hunter Biden’s business dealings to impeach the president.

Moskowitz showed up for the hearing wearing a mask of Russian President Vladimir Putin as he walked down the hallway. House Democrats have accused Comer and other Republican committee members of spreading Russian disinformation about the Bidens.

RELATED STORY: House GOP can’t wait to have hearings on how old Biden really is

.@RepMoskowitz wears Putin mask to hearing on Biden Family Business Dealing pic.twitter.com/jZdGcaImxO

— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) March 20, 2024

A reporter asked Moskowitz: “Congressman, can you explain what you are wearing?”

And acting in character, Moskowitz replied: “I just came to thank James Comer for taking all of our intelligence and using it in the committee. Maybe he can come see the technology in our grocery stores. Thank you.”

That reference to grocery stores was a dig at former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who, during his visit to Moscow to interview Putin, posted a widely mocked video in which he praised a Russian grocery store for its low prices.

Another reporter then asked Moskowitz: “Congressman, don’t you think this behavior is kind of immature?”

Moskowitz did not reply and could be seen removing the mask as he entered the chamber.

Moskowitz’s masking was intended to draw attention to recent developments in the Biden impeachment inquiry when Republicans’ key witness, Alexander Smirnov, was arrested and accused of lying to authorities about a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving the Biden family’s business dealings in Ukraine. Then prosecutors revealed that Smirnov claimed extensive foreign contacts, including to officials linked to Russian intelligence, portraying him as part of an ongoing foreign plot to spread disinformation and interfere with U.S. democracy.

So far, the exhaustive and lengthy investigation by House Republicans has not turned up any substantial evidence showing that President Biden engaged in any wrongdoing.

All joking aside, Moskowitz can be serious too. This is what he said about the impeachment inquiry in February during a CNN Interview:

Moskowitz: When did James comer know this was false? And how long did he conceal that from the American people? Those are he'll questions we need to get to the bottom of. When did he find out that this was a lie.. and they were still using this information pic.twitter.com/uFA2AJlYEu

— Acyn (@Acyn) February 16, 2024

But Moskowitz, a member of the committee, often uses humor to make his point. After Smirnov’s arrest was revealed, Moskowitz mocked Comer with a gif of the “you sit on a throne of lies” line from the movie film “Elf.”

“The witness of the FD-1023 form was just indicted for making it all up,” wrote Moskowitz, who quoted a post by Comer where he cited an FBI form that documented Smirnov’s claims.

The witness of the FD-1023 form was just indicted for making it all up https://t.co/gEkZmTkTOG pic.twitter.com/wx0HA4y1Fl

— Jared Moskowitz (@JaredEMoskowitz) February 15, 2024

And back in November, when Moskowitz brought up allegations about Comer’s own business dealings with his brother, Comer said the Florida Democrat looked like a “Smurf.” To which Moskowitz responded on X: “Gargamel was very angry today.”

Gargamel was very angry today. https://t.co/aLMzok63g9

— Jared Moskowitz (@JaredEMoskowitz) November 14, 2023

During another hearing, Moskowitz expected that one of the Republicans on the committee might attack Hunter Biden for naked photographs reportedly found on his laptop, The Daily Beast reported. So he was prepared when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia whipped out the nude photos of Hunter Biden at the January hearing. Moskowitz then held up an enlarged photo of Trump with his arm around convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

He told Greene: "You come up here and talk about Hunter Biden’s behavior, and you’re so disgusted, but the guy that you all kneel to associates himself with a pedophile.” Moskowitz told The Daily Beast at the time that it’s the Democrats’ job to give the committee’s Republicans a “taste of their own medicine.”

“They’ve decided to turn it into Cirque du Soleil Oversight where literally, it’s just a total show,” Moskowitz said. “If that is the game that they are going to play, then game on.”

RELATED STORY: GOP seeks new way to attack Biden since impeachment scheme is a bust

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These former Trump voters are determined to stop him. Here’s how

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and their surrogates need to focus their time and resources on consolidating the Democratic base and touting the president’s accomplishments in office. Yet anti-Trump Republicans also have work to do when it comes to building support for Biden.

A group of anti-Trump Republicans are launching their second “Republican Voters Against Trump” campaign against the former president, planning to spend $50 million and use homemade testimonial videos from voters who supported Trump in one of both of his previous campaigns—but cannot vote for him in 2024.

Donald Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday, despite his two impeachments and four criminal indictments. His true Achilles’ heel will be the significant number of Republican voters who refuse to support him. 

Sarah Longwell, president and founder of the Republican Accountability PAC, issued this statement about the campaign:

“Former Republicans and Republican-leaning voters hold the key to 2024, and reaching them with credible, relatable messengers is essential to re-creating the anti-Trump coalition that made the difference in 2020.

“It establishes a permission structure that says that—whatever their complaints about Joe Biden—Donald Trump is too dangerous and too unhinged to ever be president again. Who better to make this case than the voters who used to support him?”

The campaign released this 67-second video accompanying the launch.

A significant number of Republicans might be open to such a campaign. They include supporters of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, whose strongest performance came in cities, college towns, and suburbs, and particularly among college-educated voters, according to CNN.

Haley won Vermont (50%) and Washington, D.C. (63%), and received more than 30% of the vote in New Hampshire, Virginia, South Carolina, Utah, Colorado, and Massachusetts. Haley also got 570,000 votes in three key swing states: Nevada, North Carolina, and Michigan, Reuters reported.

Remember how close the 2020 election actually was? Although Biden received 7 million more votes, just a small shift in votes could have given Trump the Electoral College victory.

According to a Council on Foreign Relations report, if Trump had picked up 42,921 votes in Arizona (10,457), Georgia (11,779), and Wisconsin (20,682), plus the one electoral vote in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, which he lost to Biden by 22,091 votes, he would have won the Electoral College outright. If he’d lost Nebraska’s 2nd, the House would have then decided the election. Republicans held the majority of state delegations in the newly inaugurated Congress, and they undoubtedly would have chosen Trump.

However, Haley dropped out of the race last week, leaving no opposition for Trump. Yet in Tuesday’s primaries, she still received nearly 78,000 votes in Georgia—far more than the number of votes Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” in order to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory in the state. Haley also got 21% of the vote in Washington state.

It’s not yet known how much of Tuesday’s Haley support came from early votes cast before she quit the race, but in Georgia, The New York Times estimates that “less than 5%” of Election Day votes were cast for her. Protest votes for sure—but the reality is that over 13% of Peach State voters chose Haley—when they had her as a choice and when they didn’t. 

Haley declined to endorse Trump when she dropped out of the race, saying instead that “it is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond who did not support him.” She added that “politics is about bringing people into your cause, not turning them away.”

And while Trump invited Haley supporters to join his right-wing MAGA movement, he also bashed many of her supporters as “Radical Left Democrats.”

Biden seized on the opportunity and commended Haley for being “willing to speak the truth about Donald Trump.”

“Donald Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters. I want to be clear: There is a place for them in my campaign,” Biden said in a statement. “I know there is a lot we won’t agree on. But on the fundamental issues of preserving American democracy, on standing up for the rule of law, on treating each other with decency and dignity and respect, on preserving NATO and standing up to America’s adversaries, I hope and believe we can find common ground.”

Polls indicate that Biden could gain support among Haley voters. An Emerson College poll released after Haley quit the race found that 63% of her supporters back Biden and just 27% support Trump, with 10% undecided, The Hill reported.

A Washington Post/Quinnipiac University poll saw slightly different results.

Recent polling from Quinnipiac University found that about half of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters who supported Haley would vote for Trump, while 37 percent would vote for Biden. Twelve percent said they would abstain, vote for someone else or hadn’t yet decided what to do.

It’s clear that there’s room for Republican Voters Against Trump to break through. Longwell said her PAC has already raised $20 million and hopes to raise another $30 million before the November election, Forbes reported. Major donors include several anti-Trump billionaires—Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and a major Democratic donor; Seth Klarman, who runs the Boston-based Baupost hedge fund, and John Pritzker, a member of the family that founded the Hyatt hotel brand.

The RVAT campaign plans to deploy ads on television, streaming, radio, billboards, and digital media in critical swing states, focusing on Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Longwell is a longtime Republican strategist and former national board chair of the Log Cabin Republicans, the conservative LGBTQ+ organization. She was among the early Never Trumpers, refusing to endorse him in 2016. In 2018, she became a co-founder of the anti-Trump conservative news and opinion website The Bulwark.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Longwell said Republican Voters Against Trump is building on experiences from the 2020 presidential race. In the 2022 midterms, the group also campaigned against MAGA extremists like gubernatorial candidates Kari Lake in Arizona and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania.  

In 2020, Longwell said the group first ran traditional attack ads that really beat up on Trump and went viral. But the ads actually turned off and failed to persuade the center-right Republican voters they were trying to reach.

They had more success running personal testimonials from former Trump supporters. Longwell said such testimonials created a “permission structure” which showed there was a community of people who identified themselves as Republicans but were also anti-Trump.

Longwell acknowledged that about 70% of the GOP has gone “full MAGA”—they believe the 2020 election was stolen, but the remaining 30% are persuadable. “Some of those people are going to go home to Trump … They are sort of always Republicans,” Longwell said on “Morning Joe.” 

“There is another group in that 30% that I think has already been voting for Joe Biden,” she added.

Then Longwell described a third group of right-leaning independents, or soft GOP voters, who are “double doubters.”

“They have a tough time voting for Democrats, but also don’t think Donald Trump is a Republican, not like the kind of Republicans of (Ronald) Reagan or John McCain or of Mitt Romney that they like, ...

”We think about this less like building a pro-Joe Biden coalition — because a lot of these people they don’t love Joe Biden — but what you can do is build an anti-Trump coalition.”  She added that the  goal is to get as many of them as possible to come around and vote for Biden.

Watch Longwell’s full MSNBC interview below.

The RVAT testimonials do not promote Biden’s record in office, and the issue of abortion rights isn’t raised. Instead, the videos focus entirely on attacking Trump.

There are a lot more ways to criticize Trump this time around than during the 2020 campaign: the Jan. 6 insurrection, the threat he poses to democracy as a wannabe dictator, his softness on Vladimir Putin and willingness to abandon Ukraine, his four criminal indictments, and his mental fitness to be president, just to name a few. That has led some of the Republican voters to say that Joe Biden is the first Democrat they’ve ever supported.

Here are two of the testimonials posted on X, formerly known as Twitter:

Ethan from Wisconsin voted for Donald Trump in 2020 but will support Joe Biden in 2024 because he believes Donald Trump is not fit to be president: “January 6 was the end of Donald Trump for me.” pic.twitter.com/O1WlStOec5

— Republican Voters Against Trump (@AccountableGOP) March 13, 2024

Eric from Louisiana is a former Trump voter who will never vote for him again: “Biden versus Trump 2.0. I don’t think that’s most people’s dream race, but it is the easiest choice I’ve ever had, and I was a long-time Republican who never considered voting Democrat.” pic.twitter.com/g5h9eYCpfj

— Republican Voters Against Trump (@AccountableGOP) March 13, 2024

Longwell, writing for The Bulwark, said what she’d like to see next is former Trump appointees step up and come out in force against him—beyond essays in elite news outlets like The Atlantic or in an occasional interview on CNN. These include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, White House chief of staff John Kelly,  Attorney General William Barr, national security adviser John Bolton, and even Vice President Mike Pence. 

What we have here is a parade of high-level, serious people (whatever you think about their politics) who served the guy and all came to the same conclusion, independently: He’s nuts."

If we want to stop a Trump restoration and the promised MAGA dictatorship, it’s going to require building a coalition of people who understand the stakes. And there are no messengers better equipped to convey the peril of a Trump presidency than those who lived it firsthand, on the inside.

Longwell said that, based on focus groups she’s conducted of Republican voters, “the reason they seem unbothered by Trump’s autocratic tendencies is that a lot of them don’t know about them” (although some are “perfectly fine with it”). 

The people who served Trump directly need to go on the record, as loudly and frequently as possible, about exactly why he should never get near the White House again. … They could call this project Trump Officials Against Trump.”

[…]

We need former Trump officials—people of conscience, who have not acquiesced to the authoritarianism of it all—to stand as one and to speak plainly to the American people. Again and again, until every voter has heard their voices. … It’s time to go to work. Your country needs you.

In  the 1980 and 1984 campaigns, we heard a lot about so-called “Reagan Democrats.” It’s hard not to wonder: How many “Biden Republicans” might be out there in 2024? 

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15 times Ted Cruz shamelessly pushed GOP’s false allegations about Biden

We know Texas Sen. Ted Cruz isn’t unintelligent. Nor does he lack sophistication. After all, the guy graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. So he obviously knows the difference between clear proof of corruption and a sketchy accusation unsupported by the evidence—just as he knows the difference between an authentic Cancun marg and a bottle of premixed Chi Chi’s margarita drink he picks up at Citgo on his way home from the airport.

But being a Republican these days means pretending to be ignorant of basic realities, like whether a guy who campaigns as a dictator will govern as a dictator, or whether unsupported and unconfirmed accusations of bribery are real or simply part of a psyop conducted by a hostile foreign power that’s already attacked our elections twice.

Well, guess what? The obvious conclusion that even people who went to Cornell or Trump University could have arrived at on their own is, in fact, the correct one. The big Biden bribery allegation that congressional Republicans have been flogging for the better part of a year—and which was based on an unverified FBI form from 2020 that even the Trump administration declined to act on—was invented by a comrade with clear ties to Russian intelligence.

Weird, huh?

PBS Newshour:

A former FBI informant charged with making up a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a Ukrainian energy company had contacts with officials affiliated with Russian intelligence, prosecutors said in a court paper Tuesday.

Prosecutors revealed the alleged contact as they urged a judge to keep Alexander Smirnov behind bars while he awaits trial. He’s charged with falsely reporting to the FBI in June 2020 that executives associated with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each in 2015 or 2016. The claim has been central to the Republican impeachment inquiry in Congress.

[...]

Prosecutors said that during an interview before his arrest last week, Smirnov admitted that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story” about Hunter Biden. They said Smirnov’s contacts with Russian officials were recent and extensive, and said Smirnov had planned to meet with one official during an upcoming overseas trip.

But wait! Ted was so sure these allegations were real, he repeated them ad nauseam. And yet they’re not remotely true. What is true is that Donald Trump—the guy who implied Ted’s wife was heinous—has thousands of financial conflicts of interest that make him, prima facie, unfit to serve as president. These have been sitting out in the open this whole time, and yet Ted seemed more interested in a single, completely made up allegation about the guy who didn’t go out of his way to humiliate Ted and his family.

Weird how the world works sometimes, huh?

Unfortunately for Ted, we’ve collected some receipts, and they make the plucky Harvard Law School grad look pretty dopey. 

Here’s a chronological rundown of some of Ted’s most shameless Biden hits from the past year:

1.

The facts are simple—an informant told the FBI they had evidence that Joe Biden was involved in a $5 million bribery scheme involving a foreign country. Today, top House Oversight leaders will see the documents. More on the latest episode of #Verdict! https://t.co/zhqceE5A1R

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 5, 2023

Well, the facts weren’t that simple after all—though Ted knew his voters were, so that’s why this tweet happened.

2.

As you can see, June 2023 was a big month for bullshit, as Ted just kept piling on:

We have learned of credible evidence that Joe Biden received a $5 million bribe from Burisma, the Ukrainian natural gas company. Now we’re told there is evidence of that on audio tapes. These are allegations of serious misconduct. pic.twitter.com/XXUnSvTsKT

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 13, 2023

There are tapes! That no one has heard or can find! And no one claims anyone is being peed on in any of them—so they must be real! What more could you possibly need?! Impeach!

3.

But wait! Ted’s interrogation of Deputy FBI Director Paul Abbate was a CRUZ MISSILE! YouTube confirms it.

This clip is really rich—especially in retrospect. His fake anger no doubt sent a fake tingle down Lindsey Graham’s fake spine.

Yes, why won’t the FBI talk about totally unsupported, unvetted “intelligence” about Joe Biden that the Trump administration decided not to follow up on during Trump’s pitched 2020 election battle with the former vice president? And why aren’t people lining up at FBI offices to make unsupported allegations that Ted is The Zodiac Killer? Because apparently that would be more than enough to convince Republicans to call a hearing.

4.

Now, in case you didn’t notice from that first tweet above, Ted basically launched an entire true crime podcast about the GOP’s false bribe allegation. It’s as if all 10 episodes of “Making a Murderer” had been based on something a Russian money launderer thought he’d overheard at a Green Bay Applebee’s.

So here’s a bit of Ted’s podcast: He brings up the already debunked accusation that Biden pushed to remove Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, to help the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which had connections to Biden’s son Hunter. In reality, Biden pushed to remove Shokin—as part of a unified U.S. government response—because he wasn’t investigating corruption. 

Enjoy!

If Joe Biden took official action that benefited Burisma after depositing $5 million, Joe Biden should be charged & prosecuted for bribery. That is the most grave allegation against a president that we've seen in our lifetimes. #Verdict https://t.co/vJGPoxxZCh pic.twitter.com/FLfKElvEKM

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 14, 2023

5.

And here’s Ted demanding that Joe Biden release the bullshit evidence that would make him look corrupt to people who have no clue—i.e., any and all Trump supporters—because that’s just good government.

Democrats don't want a hearing on the allegations against Joe Biden. If the allegations are false, you know who could disprove them? Joe Biden. He could call for evidence to be released publicly, but the FBI is stonewalling instead. #Verdict https://t.co/ErPhbZC29d

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 15, 2023

6.

And here he is plugging that same bullshit podcast episode the very next day. This time he demanded that the fake whistleblower give his fake testimony so the American people could decide for themselves what’s real and what isn’t. The same American people who made the inventor of spray-on hair fabulously wealthy. 

What should come next with the allegations against Joe Biden? This alleged whistleblower should testify in front of Congress on national television so the American people can hear his allegations & assess if he's telling the truth. #Verdicthttps://t.co/ErPhbZC29d

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 15, 2023

7.

And—ugh—another tweet with more unsupported innuendo. And another plug for that same podcast episode. Ted must have been super proud of this one.

Why the hell is the FBI hiding the possible existence of evidence that Joe Biden accepted a bribe? Why did they redact the allegation that there may be 17 tape recordings? #Verdict https://t.co/ErPhbZC29d

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 15, 2023

8.

And yet another plug for the podcast. But wait! This one’s for a different episode. Though the bullshit smells the same.

Don't forget to catch the latest episode of #Verdict, where we follow the money & examine what every prosecutor, reporter, or anyone interested in the truth should be asking—did Joe Biden take a bribe? Tune in wherever you get your podcasts! https://t.co/jKjIN10WTW pic.twitter.com/ZrwX8vSEDf

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 17, 2023

9.

Of course, Ted was dead certain that a former vice president and household name couldn’t have possibly made millions from book deals and speaking gigs. After all, only Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney can demand such gaudy fees.

The Daily Mail:

'You're looking at a tax return that has $10 million in cash that came from a mystery source,' Cruz said on Friday during his podcast, Verdict with Ted Cruz.

Biden's two S corporations, CelticCapri Corp and GiaCoppa Corp, reported income of $9,490,857 and $557,882 respectively in 2017, Biden's first year as a private citizen after decades in federal elected office as a senator and the vice president.

That money, which Biden says is from book deals and speeches, was then remitted to Biden and his wife primarily as 'distributions' rather than salary, according to CNBC.

10.

And here’s Ted plugging his nonsense podcast again, pointing out that there’s something fishy about the relative of a high-ranking government official making $5 million at a law firm and not, say, $2 billion from a bloodthirsty Saudi murderer, as God and the Founding Fathers intended. 

Nobody would pay Hunter Biden to represent them in a lawsuit. Nobody would pay him for legal work. If he can make $5 million at a law firm in America, it is purely because he's selling access to the “Big Guy.” #Verdict https://t.co/HxCxWbv3S4

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 3, 2023

11.

And here’s the bullshit FD-1023 form itself! READ this! It’s an allegation! For realz! Why didn’t the Trump DOJ follow up on this when it first came to their attention? We may not know for another several months, when this whole thing blows up in Ted’s beard. 

READ this. This is serious, credible evidence that Joe & Hunter Biden solicited & received a $10m bribe from a foreign national. (1) why didn’t FBI fully investigate? (2) why is corporate media ignoring? https://t.co/jGBsj767Cf

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 21, 2023

12.

Explain yourselves, FBI! Why aren’t you publicizing incendiary claims of corruption with no basis in fact? Well, what if we told you they’re based on dubious sources and support a wild, already debunked theory that plays into the hands of an enemy authoritarian regime? Would that change your mind?

With the grave allegations that Joe Biden took a bribe from a foreign national for official favors, the FBI owes the American people complete candor. If they found these allegations to be false, they need to come forward and explain. #Verdicthttps://t.co/HKrwnB91iT

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 24, 2023

13.

Yeah, well, it’s not true, so ...

If it is true that the oligarch who owned Burisma paid Hunter & Joe Biden $10 million for an official act, then both are guilty of bribery. On the latest episode of #Verdict, we break down all the explosive allegations in the FBI’s form FD-1023. Tune in! https://t.co/fwEzuTu81j

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 25, 2023

14.

Meanwhile, based on this now-debunked claim, Ted thought President Biden should be forced to share a prison cell with his son—which would be particularly cruel, as Hunter prefers to make toilet gin and Joe would naturally insist on making toilet mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Newsweek: 

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said President Joe Biden should "share a cell" with his son Hunter Biden as more findings are released by the House.

Speaking with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Cruz said the "evidence is growing and growing" that Hunter Biden sold "official favors from his father Joe Biden."

[...]

"Bribery is paying someone something of value in exchange for an official favor. Joe Biden has confessed to it in a video interview," Cruz said after Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley released an FD-1023 document containing a confidential FBI informant's unverified claim that the Biden family made a Ukrainian oligarch pay them $10 million. Newsweek has been unable to verify that any such video exists.

In other news, Newsweek has been unable to verify that every pumpkin pie Ted Cruz has served since Thanksgiving 1989 was made from the earwax of his murder victims. 

15.

Aaaannnddd … more innuendo ...

What could Hunter Biden possibly do to earn $5 million from a Chinese company? He had no skills, & no one pays a crackhead $5 million for his talent. The only thing he could have sold was favors from his father. We discuss this corruption on Verdict.https://t.co/RcCse5vQ6i

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 3, 2023

I wouldn’t pay Hunter Biden to sit on a board, but I might pay to watch him fight Ted Cruz in Vegas. Or someone would, anyway. Probably not a Putin-connected Russian national, though. Ted’s far too useful to Russia to come to that sort of end.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link

For Republicans, it’s now ‘Trump First, Putin Second, America Third’

From a domestic perspective, the Republican Party’s embarrassing failure to follow through on its Fox News-goaded attempt to impeach Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas proved to be a blessing. It was wholly performative theater, without any legitimacy. The party’s abrupt, equally embarrassing turnabout on immigration—an issue that Republicans had planned on wielding against Democrats going into 2024—was just more evidence of the GOP’s terminal dysfunction. 

As schadenfreude-y as it may have been for Democrats to watch as the Republicans immolated themselves on the altar of immigration, the rest of the world was far more concerned about how the U.S. would follow through on its prior strategic commitments to Ukraine and Israel. By Wednesday morning, aid packages to both nations were hopelessly consigned to the quicksand of GOP intransigence and finger-pointing. Since aid to those countries was tied—at Republicans’ insistence—to border legislation, the Republicans’ pathetic submission of their much-vaunted immigration concerns to Donald Trump’s electoral whims may have doomed the prospects of further aid to Ukraine and Israel for the remainder of the fiscal year.

(Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer is now crafting separate packages, without immigration reform included, but their likelihood of success appears murky.) 

From the perspective of our allies, however, what occurred this week is seen less as habitual Republican dysfunction and more as the total abandonment of American resolve. In a week’s time, we have proved ourselves, as Anne Applebaum presciently warned last month in The Atlantic, worse than an unreliable ally: We’ve become “a silly ally”—one that can no longer be taken seriously by the rest of the world.

Applebaum isn’t alone in that assessment. Tom Friedman’s Tuesday opinion piece in The New York Times, acidly titled “The G.O.P. Bumper Sticker: Trump First. Putin Second. America Third,” explains just how damaging and consequential the Republicans’ actions this week have been to the nation.

As Friedman wrote, even before the immigration and foreign aid bill collapsed under the weight of Republican cowardice:

There are hinges in history, and this is one of them. What Washington does — or does not do — this year to support its allies and secure our border will say so much about our approach to security and stability in this new post-post-Cold War era. Will America carry the red, white and blue flag into the future or just a white flag? Given the pessimistic talk coming out of the Capitol, it is looking more and more like the white flag, autographed by Donald Trump.

There is no serious doubt that House Republicans rejected the Senate’s painstakingly crafted immigration legislation, which satisfied nearly all prior GOP demands for border enforcement, at the behest of Donald Trump. Trump prefers to do nothing, effectively maintaining the status quo at the border for another full year so he can use it as a campaign talking point, assuming he's still eligible to hold public office

Fearing Trump's wrath, House Republicans swiftly pronounced the immigration and foreign aid package "dead on arrival" before most had even read it. Meanwhile, Republican senators began to quaver at the prospect of being primaried by Trump-chosen challengers for the audacity of trying to actually pass meaningful legislation. Faced with Trump’s continued vise-like grip on their party, upper chamber Republicans opted to jettison the legislation altogether. 

But, as Friedman observes, there’s another key player in the mix: Vladimir Putin. Putin is well-aware that Trump will abandon Ukraine—and likely NATO—the instant he returns to power. Friedman recognizes that Trump’s interests—and thus the interests of a supine Republican Party intent on enabling Trump’s dictatorial ambitions—now necessarily dovetail with Putin’s.

After Ukraine inflicted a terrible defeat on the Russian Army — thanks to U.S. and NATO funding and weapons — without costing a single American soldier’s life, Putin now has to be licking his chops at the thought that we will walk away from Ukraine, leaving him surely counting the days until Kyiv’s missile stocks run out and he will own the skies. Then it’s bombs away.

This week, one of Putin’s primary assets, the propagandist and “useful idiot” Tucker Carlson, is purportedly being wined and dined in Moscow so he can provide cover for Republicans to gut Ukrainian aid. Carlson’s paywalled, one-on-one interview with Putin, and how it might enable the murderous dictator’s “outreach” to Republicans, is already the talk of Russian state television.

As reported Wednesday by The Washington Post’s Robyn Dixon and Natalia Abbakumova:

State television propagandist Vladimir Solovyov, one of the Kremlin’s anti-Western attack dogs, seemed to suggest that Carlson’s interview would torpedo any last hope for approval of new American military aid for Ukraine.

Solovyov said Carlson’s visit came “at the worst possible time for the West,” and he begged Carlson to join the Russian Union of Journalists, which Solovyov heads.

As Friedman points out, this eagerness of Republicans to betray American strategic interests in order to satisfy both Trump and Putin transforms America’s credibility with our allies into a mere afterthought.

If this is the future and our friends from Europe to the Middle East to Asia sense that we are going into hibernation, they will all start to cut deals — European allies with Putin, Arab allies with Iran, Asian allies with China. We won’t feel the change overnight, but, unless we pass this bill or something close to it, we will feel it over time.

America’s ability to assemble alliances against the probes of Russia, China and Iran will gradually be diminished. Our ability to sustain sanctions on pariah nations like North Korea will erode. The rules governing trade, banking and the sanctity of borders being violated by force — rules that America set, enforced and benefited from since World War II — will increasingly be set by others and by their interests.

The saddest fact is that no one should really be surprised by Republicans’ behavior. For a substantial segment of their caucus, their order of loyalty really is “Trump first, Putin second, America third.” Evidently they feel that the risk of betraying their own constituents on the immigration issue is well worth the effort and impact, if it means pleasing their two masters. And if they have so small a regard for their own constituents, there’s little doubt they feel even less toward the American republic writ large.

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Republicans’ betrayal of Ukraine is about one thing: Pleasing Donald Trump

The pathetic capitulation of the Republican Party to Donald Trump may turn out to be the singular political phenomenon of the 21st century, possibly eclipsing even the 9/11 terrorist attacks in sheer scope and impact—not just on American society, but ultimately the rest of the world. What began as simply crass political opportunism on the part of one of the major political parties has by now morphed into a movement that embraces something profoundly worse and far more damaging. This strain of reflexive strongman-worship now threatens to eradicate the American democracy experiment altogether, and could take the rest of the world’s free societies down with it. 

Clear warning signs were all visible at the outset, well before Trump descended his golden escalator to the oohs and aahs of a fawning, fascinated media: The GOP was a party inherently susceptible to authoritarianism and disdain for the egalitarian nature of democracy. It comprised a shrinking demographic of aggrieved white males and white evangelicals facing unfamiliar, threatening cultural shifts and engendering a groundswell of racism and misogyny, all waiting to be galvanized by the cynical machinations of a golden demagogue appearing at just the right moment to exploit them. 

Those factors certainly combined to create the phenomenon we are witnessing today. But as David Frum convincingly explains in a new essay for The Atlantic, what has pushed Republicans irrevocably over the edge is the same thing you see in any totalitarian dictatorship: an irresistible, mandated compulsion to demonstrate fealty, over and over again, to the Great Leader. 

The latest, most glaring example of this imperative can be seen in congressional Republicans’ refusal to provide continued military aid to Ukraine. As Frum observes, fear of Donald Trump’s disapproval coupled with the frantic desire to please him have completely transformed many Republicans’ attitudes about supporting Ukraine. These attitudes were directly cultivated by Trump, based on his own sycophantic relationship to Vladimir Putin. Over a period of just a few years, these attitudes were amplified by Trump himself and by pro-Putin mouthpieces on Fox News and other right-wing media.

They are now so deeply embedded in the GOP that in the event Trump is reelected in 2024, this country will likely abandon not only Ukraine but also the European NATO allies with whom we have worked for 75 years to preserve peace not just in Europe, but at home.

It might be decades before we know the real reasons for Donald Trump’s slavish admiration of a dictator like Putin. The most benign explanation, perverse as it is, is that he is simply enamored with the idea of absolute power, wielded cruelly and ruthlessly. There may be a more prosaic and insidious reason involving Trump’s convoluted history of shady business dealings with Russia that have intersected and overlapped with the Russian dictator’s strategic goals. It’s also entirely possible—as has long been theorized—that Trump himself is compromised or somehow beholden to Putin, who certainly has the capacity, motivation, and wherewithal to engage in blackmail.

But at this point in time, the reason is far less relevant than the end result. Because Trump’s grip on the Republican base is so tight, Republicans feel compelled not only to align themselves with their orange-hued leader, but to act in accordance with his wishes. Failure to do so means banishment from the party at minimum, and risks incurring the violent wrath of his legions of fanatic supporters at worst.

It’s been made clear over the last month that this fealty now includes—and ultimately requires, if Trump is reelected—cutting off military aid to Ukraine, where a Russian victory would cement and accelerate Putin’s long-term goal of intimidating and infiltrating the remaining Western democracies on the European continent. It’s obvious to those countries—or it should be—that Trump and Putin’s logical endgame would ultimately result in America’s abandonment of NATO.

Frum, the former speechwriter for George W. Bush, may be most recognized for his pithy summary of his fellow conservatives' conditional relationship to democracy and its institutions. In a 2018 essay for The Atlantic, Frum took note of the marked drift towards authoritarianism by the Republican Party as it has evolved under Trump. He famously noted, "If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy." 

Whatever you may think of Frum’s background or his own past culpability as a cog in the GOP machine, his statement has been thoroughly vindicated. Republicans are in fact quite demonstrably abandoning democratic institutions. Voter suppression, election denialism, and the draconian autocratic plans of the Heritage Institute—known as ”Project 2025”—are all evidence of a deliberate strategy to reshape the United States into a far more authoritarian country, one where the right to vote is diluted or otherwise manipulated—all to satisfy right-wing policy imperatives driven by white and/or Christian nationalism.

In his most recent piece in The Atlantic, Frum destroys the notion that congressional Republicans’ refusal to provide continued military aid to Ukraine stems from anything other than an abject desire to please Trump. He dispenses with Republicans’ pathetic attempt to equate providing Ukraine aid to sealing the U.S.-Mexican border. Since comprehensive immigration reform is the very last thing Republicans are actually willing to discuss, Frum believes that this comparison really only indicates that they have zero interest in helping Ukraine in the first place. The fact that Republicans have treated such aid as “barter” is more telling in and of itself.

What Republicans’ refusal to aid Ukraine in its war with Russia does indicate, however, is the complete coopting of a substantial portion of the Republican Party to Trump’s (and by extension, Putin’s) views about Ukraine. Frum explains that from 2015 to 2017, in tandem with extensive Russian efforts to secure Trump’s election, Republicans effected a remarkable turnaround on their views towards Russia and its dictator, Putin.

Pre-Trump, Republicans expressed much more hawkish views on Russia than Democrats did. Russia invaded eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea in spring 2014. In a Pew Research survey in March of that year, 58 percent of Republicans complained that President Barack Obama’s response was “not tough enough,” compared with just 22 percent of Democrats. After the annexation, Republicans were more than twice as likely as Democrats to describe Russia as “an adversary” of the United States: 42 percent to 19 percent. As for Putin personally, his rule was condemned by overwhelming majorities of both parties. Only about 20 percent of Democrats expressed confidence in Putin in a 2015 Pew survey, and 17 percent of Republicans.

Trump changed all that—with a lot of help from pro-Putin voices on Fox News and right-wing social media.

As Frum observes, the process began with gushing tributes about Putin’s “manly” rule emanating from frustrated figures of what was then called the “New Right,” such as Pat Buchanan. If it had ended there, Frum believes, the Republican Party could have salvaged itself from the true implications of its then-nascent embrace of the Russian dictator. But as Frum explains, Russian intelligence then went to work infiltrating the party and its allied organizations in the years prior to Trump’s election.

By the mid-2010s, groups such as the National Rifle Association were susceptible to infiltration by Russian-intelligence assets. High-profile conservatives accepted free trips and speaking fees from organizations linked to the Russian government pre-Trump. A lucrative online marketplace for pro-Moscow messages and conspiracy theories already existed. White nationalists had acclaimed Putin as a savior of Christian civilization for years before the Trump campaign began.

But, as Frum notes, the coup de grace that connected these sentiments to the electoral fortunes of the Republican Party was the appearance of Donald Trump, whose unabashed admiration for Putin, combined with is undisputed status as both president and GOP leader, “tangled the whole party in his pro-Russia ties.”

At this point the sheer magnitude of the GOP’s reversal began to manifest itself. 

Frum writes:

The urge to align with the party’s new pro-Russian leader reshaped attitudes among Republican Party loyalists. From 2015 to 2017, Republican opinion shifted markedly in a pro-Russia and pro-Putin direction. In 2017, more than a third of surveyed Republicans expressed favorable views of Putin. By 2019, [Tucker]Carlson—who had risen to the top place among Fox News hosts—was regularly promoting pro-Russian, anti-Ukrainian messages to his conservative audience. His success inspired imitators among many other conservative would-be media stars.

Once Trump attempted to extort Ukraine by denying the country needed military aid to defend themselves against Russia, conditioning such aid only if Ukraine agreed to open an “investigation” to publicize dirt Trump’s allies had invented about his presumed 2020 opponent, Joe Biden, Republicans found themselves in a quandary. How could they reconcile such objectively obvious treachery with their newfound embrace of Putin?

Frum contends it was done by embracing what he refers to as “undernews,” regurgitating innuendo and social media-churned rumors that are too ridiculous or far-fetched for even Fox News to broadcast with a straight face, but are well understood by the Republican base. In the case of Trump’s first impeachment, Frum believes the “undernews” was that Trump’s acts did not rise to the level of high crimes necessary for impeachment, because in the end Ukraine had received its weapons. Frum also recalls this “undernews” involved “an elaborate fantasy that Trump had been right to act as he did.”

In this invented world, Ukraine became the villain as part of a Biden-connected “global criminal enterprise,” and Trump acted heroically by trying to unmask it. Frum’s example provides valuable insight into not just the delusional world that many Republican voters actually occupy, but how the party exploits it.

Frum believes that continued fealty to Trump is the sole motivation behind newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson’s refusal to allow additional aid to Ukraine. Even as Putin issues warnings and threats against Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (all now members of NATO), Republicans remain beholden to the notion of (as Frum describes it): ” Ukraine=enemy of Trump; abandoning Ukraine=proof of loyalty to Trump.” He believes a majority of House Republicans actually still support aid for Ukraine, but the calendar is controlled by those in leadership like Johnson, whose only interest is catering to the deluded, so-called “undernews” faction. 

Thus it is not only Ukraine, but also our European allies—whose perception of Putin’s real aims is based not on delusional notions or political loyalties but the real, existential threat Putin represents to their societies—find themselves left out in the cold by a Republican Party that places more priority on appeasing the whims of an indicted fraudster and Putin sycophant than on standing up to its own established and assumed strategic commitments.

As Frum emphasizes, “If Republicans in Congress abandon Ukraine to Russian aggression, they do so to please Trump. Every other excuse is a fiction or a lie.“

It’s probably not possible to capture in words the magnitude of betrayal that would be felt not just by Ukrainians—who have no choice but to fight on—but by the entirety of Europe. That abandonment would remain a stain on the history of the U.S. for the rest of its existence.

The economic and strategic impact on this country’s standing in the world would be incalculable, with our ability to establish other alliances forever compromised. Seventy-five years of cooperation and trust could be wiped out by the actions of one corrupt, ignorant man and the treachery of his delusion-ridden political party.

All of which, of course, would suit Vladimir Putin just fine.

ICYMI: Judge says woman can get abortion, Texas AG loses his mind

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is out of control

Only hours after a judge ruled to allow a Texas woman facing a nonviable, life-threatening pregnancy to seek an abortion, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened hospitals and doctors with both civil and criminal penalties if they comply with the judge’s ruling.

When possible, Republicans have enacted some of the most extreme abortion bans, and Texas has among the worst. But cases like this one, which expose the GOP’s cruel and heartless attitudes toward women, have further galvanized national opposition to the bans. They’re also giving Democrats ammunition heaving into an election cycle with a generally favorable environment.

In fact, Paxton’s unhinged response is beyond absurd, and must be read to be believed.

More top stories

Venezuela is threatening war with Guyana, and the tankies approve

Here is everything you ever wanted to know about the next possible war, this one brewing in South America.

Gov. Tim Walz criticizes GOP's 'obsession' with strange and cruel issues

Yup. See the opening item above.

Carlson turns a sober warning of Russian threat into a false claim of extortion

Word is that Trump wants this propagandist as his running mate.

GOP impeachment resolution: A circus without substance

House Republicans seem hell-bent on moving forward with their sham “impeachment inquiry” against President Joe Biden, but they don’t even pretend to have a reason for doing so.

Senate Republicans hand Putin a propaganda victory

When Republicans aren’t busy inventing fake impeachments, they’re busy handing Russia and its murderous dictator Vladimir Putin propaganda victories.

This week’s most-read stories

  1. In late-night rant, George Santos shows he's determined to light the GOP on fire

  2. The Ziegler story gets more icky, but what it reveals about Republicans is just as bad

  3. Donald Trump is so thrown by his own shaky performance that he thinks it’s AI

  4. The Newsom-DeSantis debate did not go well. For Ron DeSantis

  5. George Santos was just expelled. Here's what happens to his seat

  6. Taylor Swift is Time's person of the year and the far right is big mad about it

  7. Justice Samuel Alito isolated in tax case he refused to recuse from

  8. White House has things to say as Speaker Johnson reverses course on impeachment inquiry

  9. The moment of reckoning: When DeSantis realizes Newsom just cleaned his clock

  10.  A House Republican tells the truth about the push to impeach Biden

Comic:

More comics.

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Carlson turns a sober warning of Russian threat into a false claim of extortion

Speaking before Congress on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned the House Foreign Affairs Committee that failing to stop Russia in Ukraine could mean much greater costs in the future. That included the possibility of deploying U.S. troops to Europe should Putin invade a NATO ally.

Republican representatives present at the event seemed to get it. As The Messenger reports, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul understood Austin’s warning. “If [Vladimir] Putin takes over Ukraine, he'll get Moldova, Georgia, then maybe the Baltics,” McCaul said following the briefing. He noted that the idea of more troops on the ground in Europe was “what we're trying to avoid."

However, by Thursday, fired Fox News pundit and Putin supporter Tucker Carlson had distorted Austin’s words into what Carlson insisted was an attempt at extorting further aid for Ukraine. Writing on X (formerly Twitter), Carlson claimed that Austin threatened to send “your uncles, cousins and sons to fight Russia” unless more money was handed over to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Not surprisingly, every word of this was a lie—a lie even Fox News has debunked.

Fox’s chief national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin responded that Carlson’s claim was “100 percent not true.” What Austin said was what many officials have said from the outset: Failing to stop Russia in Ukraine invites Putin to expand his ambitions to other countries in Europe.

None of the language that Carlson used in his post has been confirmed by any other source. That didn’t stop X owner Elon Musk from wading in to reply, asking Carlson, “He really said this?” to which Carlson replied, “He really did. Confirmed.”

Except no. Had Austin actually said this before a Republican-led House committee, Congress members would have emerged from the room boiling mad, and it would have been the major story of the day. They didn’t, and it wasn’t, because Austin never made the statement Carlson claims.

In May, USA Today produced a timeline of Carlon’s extensive love affair with Russia. It includes such highlights as Carlson claiming that American liberals hate America more than Putin and claiming that reporters interfered in the 2016 election more than Russia because they released “the Access Hollywood tapes.” And there’s this:

Carlson is now deliberately attempting to fuel conspiracy theories around U.S. support for Ukraine and weaken the Ukrainian military. As Carlson was posting his false claims, Austin was in Ukraine, where he spoke with Zelenskyy and informed him that no more assistance was forthcoming unless Congress appropriated additional funds.

Warnings like the one Austin delivered in Congress have been a constant feature of military analysis since the illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, 2022. As NATO Review made clear in July 2022, “Putin’s regime has chosen confrontation with the ‘collective West,’ irrespective of the costs for Russia itself.”

Russian leadership has threatened that the war will continue into Poland, the Balkans, and even Germany and the U.K. Putin wants to crush the West, write his name in the history books, and restore the Russian empire.

What Austin said isn’t extortion, or even controversial. If Putin is allowed to benefit from an illegal invasion, he will do it again. Right now, the Ukrainian army is doing an amazing job of smashing Russian forces and destroying thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, and aircraft. But they are fighting an enemy that vastly outnumbers them in manpower, equipment, and wealth. They cannot succeed without sustained assistance.

If he wins in Ukraine, Putin will next bring the war to an allied nation that the U.S. has sworn to defend using our own forces. The cost of that will be vastly greater than anything being provided to Ukraine and if Congress doesn’t act, that’s where the world is headed.

That’s not extortion: That’s the truth. And it’s why Russian state media is thrilled about what Republicans have been doing to block funding for Ukraine—and why Putin has sent his congratulations to Republicans for their work in blocking Ukrainian assistance.

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Sunday Four-Play: Zelenskyy seems skeptical that Trump will bring peace, and Mike Johnson lies

For a guy who’s supposedly a multibillionaire, Donald Trump sure spends a lot of his time scrounging for ha’pennies with which to stuff his gross, linty, panko breading–lined pockets. That reality was on lurid display this week as his real estate empire-cum-perpetual grift machine got flayed over and over during testimony meant to establish just how yuuuge a fraud he and his company really are—and always have been.

Would a really rich guy stiff his blue collar contractors? Would he sell tacky NFTs for $99 a pop to a heaving throng of marks who are still hoping their Beanie Babies recover their value? Would he sell mail-order steaks? And would he sell out his country and, by extension, the whole of Western democracy for the chance to build a big tower in a country led by a brutal, murderous war criminal

Trick question! He’d sell out his country for a week-old Wetzel’s Pretzel, and toss in Eric in his official Team CCCP banana hammock mankini.

No, Trump has been pretending. All along. Do you think Warren Buffett lies awake at night trying to figure out how to squeeze ever-more filthy lucre from his fawning fanboys? Of course not. But Trump does—because he apparently has to. And thanks to Trump’s ever-skeevy ambitions, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests are now reliably represented by a small-ish, but hugely significant, segment of the Republican Party.

In fact, while House Republicans have swiftly passed an aid package for Israel, whose military is already far superior to its enemy’s, it left out badly needed aid for Ukraine (while also offering a deficit-ballooning helping hand to America’s patriotic, hardly working tax cheats). New House Speaker Mike Johnson claims Ukraine aid is still on the agenda, but it’s hard to take him completely seriously given his recent skepticism on the issue, as well as his declaration that any bill authorizing new Ukraine aid should come with “conditions.”

So why are Republicans far more eager to help the ally that clearly needs less help than they are the largely overmatched ally that’s been bravely defending itself against a much larger imperialist aggressor, and doing so on behalf of the world’s liberal democracies? Because Donald Trump made loving Vladimir Putin fashionable. And why is that? Because he’s is a greedy, soulless prick who adores dictators. 

How do you like that? I buried the lede.

And now, on to the usual nonsense.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: GOP still deciding which fanatical, anti-American traitor to anoint as speaker

1.

If this universe really is a simulation—and there’s a fair chance it is, frankly—I really regret buying the “Donald Trump is president” expansion pack. He’s ruined so many lives, after all.

Trump is fond of saying Russia would have never invaded Ukraine had he been president, but it seems far more likely that his lingering presence actually encouraged Pee Wee Putin’s Big Adventure—because Putin knew he had good friends in the USA to rely on if things started to go south. After all, Putin doesn’t need to defeat Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy; he just needs to defeat Joe Biden. Then Trump will be able to pull the U.S. out of NATO, as he’d planned on doing all along, and end the war in 24 hours, as he’s promised. Of course, any “peace plan” would almost certainly be made on his good buddy Vlad’s terms. Putin would likely get all the territory he’s stolen from Ukraine, along with a 600-foot statue of Stalin peeing in the reflecting pool at the National Mall; Zelenskyy would get a some-expenses-paid weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago and double scoops of ice cream every night during his stay.

Zelenskyy appeared on “Meet the Press” with host Kristen Welker, and Welker asked him about a new NBC News report that U.S. and European officials have begun talking with Ukrainian officials about what peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia might look like

WATCH: @NBCNews reports that U.S. and European officials have quietly begun talks around Russia-Ukraine peace negotiations, but Zelenskyy says he is not ready to begin that dialogue with Putin.@ZelenskyyUa: "We can’t trust terrorists because terrorists always come back." pic.twitter.com/aHQXqcQtxJ

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) November 5, 2023

WELKER: “President Zelenskyy, NBC News is reporting that U.S. and European officials have begun quietly talking to your government about what possible peace negotiations with Russia might look like to end this war. Have you personally been involved in these talks, and what’s the status of these talks?”

ZELENSKYY: “A lot of different voices around us, I’ve heard a lot of different voices and emotions and … a lot of different things, but as for me, I don’t have, for today, I don’t have any relations with Russia. And they know my position, that is the position of my country. That is the position of our people. We don’t want to make any dialogue with terrorists, and the president of the United States and Congress, bipartisan support, all of these people, they know that I’m not ready to speak with the terrorists, because their word is nothing. Nothing. We can’t trust terrorists, because terrorists always come back.”

Yeah, they do, don’t they? We’re learning that in this country, too:

This is the GOP's frontrunner for president. pic.twitter.com/rEzSUaMnp7

— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) November 2, 2023

Welker also asked Zelenskyy about Trump’s boast that he could end the Ukraine war in 24 hours. At the very least, Zelenskyy seemed skeptical. Feel free to either stare at this picture until you attain satori or, if you don’t have that kind of time, watch the following clip. Either way, you’ll get the gist.

WATCH: Fmr. Pres. Trump — the GOP front-runner — has said he could end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours. Ukrainian President @ZelenskyyUa responds: “If he can come here, I will need 24 minutes … to explain … that he can’t manage this war. He can’t bring peace because of Putin.” pic.twitter.com/iykBUuH6hw

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) November 5, 2023

I won’t transcribe the entire clip, but Zelenskyy’s big takeaway is this: “If [Trump] is not ready to give [us] our independence, he can’t manage it.”

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: The elephant in the room plops down on 'Meet the Press'

2.

Republicans want to pass aid to Israel in the wake of Hamas’ terrorist attack, but they also want to make sure wealthy tax cheats can go on cheatin’. What to do? Oh, here’s an idea! Take $14 billion away from IRS enforcement, then pretend that saves the country money, even though it will actually blow another $12.5 billion hole in our budget. But hey, that deal looks pretty sweet to people who don’t pay attention—which includes most voters, unfortunately. After all, it’s easy to scare Americans by shouting “IRS!” Though somehow this video isn’t quite enough to make them shit fluorescent green armadillos till the heat death of the universe:

This is the GOP's frontrunner for president. pic.twitter.com/rEzSUaMnp7

— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) November 2, 2023

Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer joined George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” to discuss Republicans’ decision to play silly political games during a fraught moment in our nation’s—and the world’s—history.

After House GOP passes emergency aid package for Israel tied to cuts in IRS enforcement, White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer tells @GStephanopoulos the move is “without precedent in recent history.” https://t.co/Qnz5e41SgQ pic.twitter.com/KwnEAHtjA5

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) November 5, 2023

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Finally, the president’s request for aid to Israel and Ukraine and Taiwan and others appears to be the victim of a stalemate right now. House Republicans have passed aid to Israel tied to cuts in IRS enforcement. We have the Republican Leader Steve Scalise on the program next. What’s the president’s message to House Republicans?”

FINER: “I think the message is pretty clear, that it is not good for the United States, good for the region, or good for Israel to tie emergency assistance to Israel to what we consider to be essentially a partisan request for a way to offset that spending. … That is basically without precedent in recent history, and we don’t support it, and are urging the members of our party and the members of Congress from any party not to support it either.”

Well, maybe this particular outrage is unprecedented, but remember, Republicans have long since decided that taking hostages and threatening the economy while a Democrat’s in the White House are acceptable governing tactics. So yeah, shocking but not surprising. Like most everything the GOP does these days.

3.

Ah, Mike Johnson. The new House speaker who’s basically just Mike Pence if you gave him a Howdy Doody wig and steeped him in beef broth for 20 minutes. Johnson appeared on “Fox News Sunday” with Shannon Bream and said some stuff. Spoiler alert: It was mostly lies and deflections. In other words, business as usual.

Wow. Mike Johnson on Fox News Sunday doesn't rule out voting against access to contraception but then says "I really don't remember any of those measures" when asked about his past votes against reproductive health care pic.twitter.com/4pDl3BGGD3

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 5, 2023

BREAM: “I want to talk about some social issues. You’ve got a lot of critics who say that you’re wildly out of step with the American people. Let’s talk abortion first. One of the groups opposing you [Emily’s list] says this: ‘He wants a total abortion ban with no exceptions. He supported bans that would not only criminalize abortion but ban IVF treatments and common forms of birth control,’ and that you voted against access to contraception. Where are you on these issues? Is that an accurate assessment of where you are, because that’s not in step with the American people.”

JOHNSON: “No, Shannon, look, I’m pro-life. I’ve said very clearly I’m a Bible-believing Christian. I believe in the sanctity of every single human life. So I come to Congress with deep, personally held convictions. But guess what, so do my 434 other colleagues in the House. Everyone comes to Congress with their deeply held convictions. But the process here is that you make law by consensus, and I have not brought forward any measure to address any of those issues. Right now our priorities are funding the government, handling these massive national security priorities that we have and crises around the globe, and taking care of changing and reforming how Congress works. That’s what we’re going to do. Listen, prior to the modern time—until recently, actually—almost all of our nation’s leaders openly acknowledged that they were also Bible-believing Christians. This is not something that should cause great unrest, okay? It’s just that Washington right now, what you’re seeing, Washington and the … press corps are engaging with a leader who openly acknowledges faith and the foundational principles of our country. I think this a healthy discussion, but it doesn’t affect how we run Congress.”

BREAM: “To be clear, though, have you voted against fertility treatments and access to contraception? Would you?”

JOHNSON: “I don’t think so. I’m not sure what they’re talking about. I really don’t remember any of those measures. I am personally pro-life.”

BREAM: “But do you oppose [crosstalk] IVF?”

JOHNSON: “No, no, of course not. No, that’s something that’s blessed a lot of families who have problems with fertility. Of course that’s a great thing. I would support that. But again, these are not issues that are on the front of the agenda, and we can come with our convictions and we can govern in an accountable, transparent manner for the American people, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Okay, while my admittedly limited Googling has failed to turn up much on Johnson’s voting record regarding fertility treatments, he does have a pretty well-established record on birth control. Uhh ... he doesn’t like it. 

An Oct. 30 Rolling Stone article titled “House Speaker Mike Johnson’s Long Crusade Against Birth Control” laid out some of the gruesome details:

Johnson is known for being among the most anti-abortion lawmakers in Congress, and for railing against the use of “abortion as a form of birth control” before he was in office. But his statements and actions suggest he does not see much difference between abortion as a form of birth control and birth control as a form of birth control.

As a lawyer, Johnson worked on multiple cases representing plaintiffs who refused to dispense, counsel, or provide emergency contraception, which they considered to be abortion-inducing drugs. And as a congressman, Johnson has repeatedly voted against efforts to expand, fund, or protect access to birth control and other family planning services — including for members of the military.

While a certain, largely female segment of the Republican party has undertaken efforts to expand access to birth control in the wake of Dobbs, Johnson has not joined those efforts.

And—oh, lookee here—he joined 194 of his Republican House colleagues in voting against the Right to Contraception Act

So let’s take another look at his answer, shall we?

BREAM: “To be clear, though, have you voted against fertility treatments and access to contraception? Would you?”

JOHNSON: “I don’t think so. I’m not sure what they’re talking about. I really don’t remember any of those measures. I am personally pro-life.”

Wait, so that was just a … lie? But Bible-believing Christians never lie! Because lies make Baby Jesus cry

Ah, but don't worry about any of that. Johnson is focused on other priorities. And as we all know, people who’ve been on the job for less than two weeks never get around to doing anything else. The new bill requiring chastity belts for women living within a 500-mile radius of Jason Momoa will be taken up in late March at the earliest. So don’t worry your pretty little heads, ladies! Johnson won't get around to banning contraception until he’s finished screwing up a bunch of other stuff first.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: Mike Johnson is a skilled (as in sociopathic) liar, and the GOP still loves Putin

4.

Wait, are Republicans still talking about impeaching President Biden? After that oily ferret orgy of a hearing they held in September? A hearing that was so bad, House Oversight Chair James Comer recently said they don’t want to hold any more hearings

Comer appeared on “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo and tried to pretend that impeaching Biden is still a hot topic of conversation anywhere outside the musty pingpong room inside Marjorie Taylor Greene's head. 

Comer tells Maria Bartiromo he thinks Biden should be impeached but is leaving it up to Mike Johnson pic.twitter.com/g2MI0PNiwh

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 5, 2023

BARTIROMO: “Based on what you know today, Congressman, should Joe Biden be impeached?”

COMER: “I think he should, but that’s going to be left up to the speaker. You know, people ask me why I haven’t put someone in jail yet. All I can do is investigate. The House of Representatives can determine whether or not to impeach, but at the end of the day we’re going to need an attorney general who does the right thing and prosecutes people according to the law and doesn’t have a two-tier system of justice.”

Actually, we probably need more than two tiers in our justice system—if only to accommodate Trump’s dozens of felony charges. But hey, if Comer can find a grand jury to indict Biden based on the fact that he loaned money to his brother and his brother—gasp!—paid it back, he’s welcome to test out his theory that Trump is the most unjustly persecuted individual in the history of whiny little snowflake toddlers.

If nothing else, it should be interesting.

But wait! There’s more!

That’s all for now! Hope you remembered to turn your clocks back and aren’t reading this one hour in the future. But if you are, please let the rest of us know if civilization survived.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

Sunday Four-Play: Mike Johnson is a skilled (as in sociopathic) liar, and the GOP still loves Putin

Remember “The Dating Game”? It was one of those shows that folks of a certain age would watch when we stayed home from school pretending to be bleeding from our eyeballs with hemorrhagic fever. Even as a kid it seemed odd to me that 1) anyone would go on a beach trip vacation alone with a stranger they’d just met, 2) they’d select their date, sight unseen, based on generic softball questions like “What’s your idea of a fun first date?” and 3) the woman would often look utterly stricken when she finally met her chosen suitor face to face, even though only one of the contestants ever turned out to be a serial killer. (That we know of, anyway.)

I couldn’t help but think of that show after Republicans chose Rep. Mike Johnson to lead the House for however long we have left until the rapture, when God finally calls Randy Quaid and his Igloo cooler full of squirrel heads home. The ordeal felt a bit like an episode of “The Dating Game” where Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, and Johnson were the three eager bachelors and Republicans somehow decided Johnson was their least creepy option.

I can almost picture a beaming Johnson declaring how super hard-core he’s going to love America as soon as he gets it alone: “For our first date, I’d like to fly you to Idaho, force you into a covenant marriage, and stare at you for the rest of your natural life with the baleful mien of a Christmas elf who doesn’t like to make toys but does have an oddly specific penchant for unlicensed taxidermy.”

In other words, Republicans chose this guy with precious little forethought or vetting, and it sorta feels like it could backfire. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. But we already know he’s all-in on forced birth, The Big Liecriminalizing gay sex, and handing Ukraine over to Vladimir Putin, so naturally he’ll be an ideal brand ambassador for the GOP heading into the 2024 election cycle. 

This week on the Sunday shows, Johnson’s name came up more than it ever has before. In addition, Maria Bartiromo of “Sunday Morning Futures” scored an exclusive interview with the man himself. I fully expected her to ask about Johnson’s plan for governing and whether it’s easier for a Christian dominionist weirdo and real-life “Handmaid’s Tale” character to keep a show on Fox News or be elected speaker of the House with the unanimous support of his party, but Johnson was too busy lying to get into too much detail on any of that.

He did have some important stuff to say, though. Mostly lies, but what else is new?

So let’s dive in, shall we?

1.

Normally if I were cueing up a Tim Kaine clip I’d warn you well in advance so you had time to order smelling salts and a home defibrillator on Amazon, but in this case he’s exactly what we need. He’s the man for the hour. And the one after that. And the next one, too. Aaaaand … oh, shit, he’s still going. Oh, no, did he just start in on the macroeconomic implications of corporate sorghum subsidies? Again? We could be here a while. Hope you brought a book.

So you didn’t want industrious, conscientious, and serious leaders like Tim Kaine, eh, America? Well, look what you got instead. Kaine may be as exciting as plain oatmeal, but at least he’s good for you. You went with the Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, and they turned out to be actual bombs. 

Kaine joined “The Saturday/Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart” to discuss the yang to his yin, new House Speaker Mike Johnson—who’s also pretty boring, but in that lawful evil way Republicans have always loved. 

"You outlined the positions [Rep. Mike Johnson] had, from election denial to climate science denial to anti-LGBTQ and anti-women's reproductive rights. This is who the Republican Party is now." @SenTimKaine discusses with @CapehartJ the extremism of Speaker Johnson #SundayShow pic.twitter.com/YUqiz7swTj

— The Saturday/Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart (@weekendcapehart) October 29, 2023

CAPEHART: “Before we get into the nitty-gritty, just generally your view of Speaker Mike Johnson, what he represents?”

KAINE: “Well, Jonathan, he is the most powerful Republican in America. He is the face of today’s GOP. He’s second in line to the president, and you outlined the positions he had, from election denial to climate science denial to anti-LGBTQ, anti-women’s reproductive rights. This is who the Republican Party is now, and remember, he received the vote of every member of the Republican caucus to be speaker. So that is obviously a very different vision than Virginians have, a very different vision than Senate Democrats or Republicans have, and so it sets up some challenging times ahead. But all that said, it’s better to have a speaker than not have a speaker, because we have important work to do for the American public.”

It is better to have a speaker than not to have a speaker. That is true. And it was better for the Titanic to have a captain, if only to tell the string quartet where to set up. But Kaine makes some great points, and even more importantly, he offers a living, breathing contrast to today’s GOP, which is exciting in the same way that buying Tylenol in October 1982 was exciting

If you want sober, steady, and policy-focused, you’d do well to elect more Democrats like Kaine. If you want to have a child every 10 months and, seconds after giving birth, be forced to shout, “Thank you, Jesus, may I have another?!” then Mike Johnson is definitely your guy.

Moving on.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: McCarthy still blames Dems for GOP clown show, and Cheney might run for president?

2.

As Kaine said, it is important to have a speaker. Who else is going to try to impeach Joe Biden for no reason? New Speaker Mike Johnson, newly hatched from the Republican-pol pod farm miles below Koch Industries, appeared on “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo to further gaslight a weary nation that’s had just about enough of this nonsense already.

Bartiromo asked the question that’s at the top of every American’s mind: Are you going to keep the Biden impeachment charade going through the 2024 election?

"We're the rule of law team," says one of the congressmen who led the effort to install Trump in power pic.twitter.com/wzwIVcCOhn

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 29, 2023

BARTIROMO: “What about the investigations into the potential Biden family influence peddling, potential bribery? Are you going to allocate the financial resources and human capital needed to do an in-depth investigation? And will an impeachment inquiry turn into an official impeachment?”

JOHNSON: “We’ll see, Maria. I worked on the committees of jurisdiction, and Judiciary is one of those. I think our chairmen have done an exceptional job, you’ve spoken to all of them. Jamie Comer and Jim Jordan and Jason Smith, on Oversight and Judiciary and Ways and Means. They’ve continued those investigations. Even while we were going through the tumult of the speaker’s race, they were still working methodically through that. I’m encouraging that. I think we have a constitutional responsibility to follow this truth where it leads. We’re the rule-of-law team. We don’t use this for political partisan games like the Democrats have done and did against Donald Trump twice. We are going to follow the law and follow the Constitution, and you and I have a suspicion of where that may lead, but we’re going to let the evidence speak for itself, and I look forward to rolling that out over the coming days and weeks and letting the American people see exactly why we’re taking the next steps and where it’s headed.”

Okay, no one has time to fully parse all the lies and barmy nonsense Johnson packed into that short clip. Suffice to say, Republicans have no evidence against Biden. In fact, their one big hearing on the subject was so effing embarrassing, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer recently told reporters, “I don’t know that I wanna hold any more hearings, to be honest with you.” Which is a weird thing to say if, as Johnson claims, they just want to let “the American people see exactly why we’re talking those next steps and where it is headed.”

But flipping reality on its head is kind of the GOP’s brand now. Donald Trump may have extorted a foreign power in order to dig up dirt on Biden, and yes, he tried to illegally overturn the results of a free and fair election and was all-in when his feral mob decided it wanted to hang Mike Pence (he should have known Pence would hang himself eventually), but President Biden loaned some money to his brother. And his brother paid it back! 

Rule-of-Law Party to the rescue!

Sadly, just based on the few clips we’ve seen, it’s clear that Johnson is the kind of liar who can lie straight to your face without flinching. And if I never watched anything on Sunday mornings besides Fox News and Alvin Styczynski’s Polka Palooza, I’d be pretty convinced by him, too. But I watch all the polka shows, and sample more than just one Sunday show, too. So I’m not fooled by him for a second, no matter how many outrageous fibs he tells for Jesus. 

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: GOP still deciding which fanatical, anti-American traitor to anoint as speaker

3.

Top Trump gadfly Chris Christie is back. He appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper to help us ascertain the obvious: Murderous autocrat and war criminal Vladimir Putin’s best friend in America is Donald Trump. And if Trump returns to power, Putin will get pretty much everything he wants (including a U.S. withdrawal from NATO, though Christie didn't specifically mention that part), and Ukraine will be left twisting in a very foul wind.

Yes, Christie is still telling the truth about Donald Trump, which is a big reason why he’s stuck at roughly 3% in the polls. You can’t be a truth-teller and expect to win anything as a Republican.

Chris Christie on Trump calling for Israeli aid to be separated from Ukraine aid: "He wants to separate them to continue to coddle Putin." pic.twitter.com/g2qOjNCrbX

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 29, 2023

TAPPER: “Let’s turn to the war in Israel. President Biden has proposed a $105 billion foreign aid package, which includes support to both Israel and Ukraine and some other priorities. Donald Trump said yesterday that Ukraine aid and Israel aid should be separate, it should be decoupled. What do you think?”

CHRISTIE: “Well, this is Donald Trump’s, you know, bad worldview. Look, he wants to do it and separate them because he wants to continue to coddle Putin, as he’s done from the minute he became president of the United States and going forward from there. This aid is connected because these attacks are connected. There’s no doubt that Russia, China and Iran, and North Korea are all working together to try to disrupt the world and create violence. We need to support Israel and support them strongly, and we need to support our friends in Ukraine as well. Remember, Jake, we made a promise to them in 1992 when they removed nuclear missiles and returned them to Russia that we would protect them if Russia attacked. We need to keep our promises.”

Wait, did anyone else notice what I noticed? Christie just admitted that Trump has been coddling Putin from the moment he became president. Is that why Christie risked his life to help Trump prepare for the debates against Biden? So Trump could continue coddling Putin for another four years? 

Republicans. I tell ya, man. Even when they’re telling the truth they’re up to their eyeballs in horseshit.

4.

Of course, Donald Trump isn’t the only Republican who wants to coddle Putin. Enabling mass murderers is all the rage in the GOP these days. While they’re eager to send aid to Israel, which was attacked by a terrorist group with a small fraction of Israel’s resources, Ukraine was invaded by the No. 2 military in the world (by beet consumption, anyway), and it’s doing a great job curtailing Putin’s imperial ambitions. In other words, Ukraine is shedding its citizens’ blood for the sake of Europe’s and the world’s democracies, not just for its own interests. If you want to promote democracy and contain brutal autocracy, this is the fight you should be paying attention to.

But as the recent speaker battle proved, these jabronis take their orders from Donald Trump now, and Trump still wants to build a big tower in Moscow. Perhaps to live in, but that remains to be seen.

Sen. J.D. Vance joined host Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” to throw our brave and loyal ally Ukraine under the busski. 

"There's a difference between what should happen, and what can happen" -- JD Vance on his opposition to US aid to Ukraine pic.twitter.com/RZ0ByUFxJv

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 29, 2023

BRENNAN: “We just heard the new House Speaker, you have some similarities with him in terms of separating out Israel aid from Ukraine aid. He did say, though, ‘We can’t allow Putin to prevail in Ukraine because I don’t believe it would stop there. We’re not going to abandon them.’ What part of that statement is objectionable to you?”

VANCE: “Well, nothing is objectionable in the sense that if I could wave a magic wand and throw Putin out of Ukraine, I would, but what we have to accept is there’s a difference between what should happen and what can happen. America has limited capacity. Just in the Israeli conflict, for example, there are 300,000 artillery shells the Israelis would love to have access to. They don’t have access to them. Why? Because we sent them to Ukraine. We have a rising threat of China in East Asia. There are weapons the Taiwanese need that we can’t send because we sent them to Ukraine. We have to focus. That’s all I’m saying.”

Uh-huh. You know, when a guy who still supports Donald Trump claims “we have to focus,” it’s almost too much for a single human brain to process. I may have to hook into the Borg hive mind for a few while I try to make sense of it. We have to focus, so let’s make this googly-eyed Adderall golem president again. That sure would help!

Also, we can’t keep sending money to Ukraine. They might win, and where will we be then? So let’s get the Los Alamos National Laboratory started on that magic wand! We’ve got the bad guys on the run now!

These people. Sheesh.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: Matt Gaetz tries to 'splain himself, and Blinken responds to GOP lies about Hamas

But wait! There’s more!

That’s all for this week! Have a happy Halloween! It’s a frightening world out there these days, so maybe take some time to unwind with a few of those “Saw” movies and maybe an “Exorcist” or two.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.