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Is There Any Republican Left Who Isn't Just Foul Ambition, All the Way Through?

Charles P. Pierce
Photo credit: Dominik Bindl - Getty Images

From Esquire

(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To The Last Post Of The Week From The Blog’s Favourite Living Canadian)

Back in 2015, in the wake of the white-supremacist mass murder committed by Dylann Roof at Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina, then-Governor Nikki Haley took the genuinely bold step of removing the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol building. It was this move that catapulted Haley onto the national stage and even stirred, in the hearts of some wishful and childlike souls, the idea that Haley might be the person who brings the Republican Party back to sanity. "There is a place for that flag," she told CNN at the time. "It's not in a place that represents all people in South Carolina.” Make no mistake. This was a real political risk for Haley.

That was then. This is now, and, having sized up the inmates of Bedlam carefully, Haley apparently has decided to pound her most impressive moment as a public figure into small smithereens. She also apparently would like to be vice president if and when El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago gets tired of hanging around Mike (The Choirboy) Pence. So, we get this, from an interview with Glenn Beck—and if that’s not a giveaway right there, I don’t know what is.

"Here is this guy who comes out with this manifesto, holding the Confederate flag. And [he] had just hijacked everything that people thought of. We don’t have hateful people in South Carolina — there’s always the small minority, that’s always going to be there — but people saw it as service and sacrifice and heritage, but once he did that, there was no way to overcome it.”

So it was a 25-year-old mass murderer who turned the Gonfalon of Treason sour? It wasn’t that the flag represented the service, sacrifice, and heritage associated with owning human beings as property? Is there anyone in the party who isn’t foul ambition all the way through? Is there anyone who wouldn’t have fired on Fort Sumter?

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “Fear Of The Blades” (Adam Deitsch Quartet). Yeah, I pretty much still love New Orleans.

Weekly Visit To The Pathe Archives: It was 86 years ago this week that FDR signed the 21st Amendment, which overrode the 18th Amendment and ended our national experiment with Prohibition, a very bad, awful idea that nonetheless produced some great cinema down through the decades. Here’s James Cagney from Yankee Doodle Dandy, explaining the relationship between the repeal of Prohibition with the construction of Boulder Dam. History is so cool.

Photo credit: Tom Williams - Getty Images

What the hell is wrong with these people, Part the Infinity: not 100 yards from this very keyboard is the Armenian Museum of America, a lovely place full to its gunwales with art, artifacts, and a wealth of information about the genocide practiced upon the Armenian people by Turkey at the beginning of the previous century. What dog Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota has in this fight is beyond me, but Cramer has proven himself to be a remarkable White House lapdog on the subject. From NBC News:

The senator, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, was acting at the direction of the White House, said the resolution's Republican co-author, Ted Cruz. "Those objections have been raised on behalf of the administration. The administration has asked senators to raise objections," the Texas senator said, calling that position "a mistake.” The resolution "acknowledges the horrific atrocity that was the Armenian genocide, the systematic slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians that for far too long has been covered up, has been hidden, and U.S. policy has not acknowledged," Cruz said.

I know that Recep Erdogan is one of the names that the president* has scrawled on his Trapper Keeper with a heart drawn around it, but to hell with these people. Hitler knew that what happened to the Armenians was genocide. The inability of this government (100 years later) to call it what it was is an offense against history.

Photo credit: Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire - Getty Images

What the hell is wrong with these people, Part the Infinity + 1: The Senate is trying to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and my new friend Joni Ernst is carrying the ball for the Republican side. This being the Senate under Mitch McConnell, she has managed to carry it through the end zone, out of the stadium, across the parking lot, and over a cliff. From the Daily Beast:

Republicans say the provision—which would prevent abusive dating partners from accessing firearms—is too political and will never make it past a GOP-controlled chamber. But documents obtained by The Daily Beast show the issue may not be as divisive as Republicans want it to seem—in fact, even Donald Trump’s Department of Justice supports it...

But the bill stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate, after the National Rifle Association threatened to negatively rate any legislator who voted to close the loophole. In an interview with The New York Times, NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker accused Democrats of inserting the provision into their VAWA bill as a “poison pill” to make Republicans who voted against the legislation look anti-woman.

After eight months of fruitless negotiations, Senate Democrats introduced their own version of the bill in November, with language nearly identical to the House version. Days later, Republican Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) released her own version—which, unsurprisingly, kept the boyfriend loophole intact.

Not only that, but Ernst is pushing a bill that would weaken protections under the VAWA for Native women, who face a staggering epidemic of violence and murder. From HuffPost:

Ernst’s bill eliminates gains made in the 2013 VAWA reauthorization that gave tribes badly needed jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by non-Native men who abuse Native women on tribal lands ― a common pattern to the kinds of domestic violence faced by Native women. Under Ernst’s bill, these non-Native abusers would no longer have to exhaust tribal court remedies before appealing their case to a federal court.

“Tribal courts prosecuting non-Indian defendants already provide the same ― if not more ― due process rights than state and federal courts,” Mary Kathryn Nagle, a partner and counsel at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, said in a statement. “Placing paternalistic restrictions on tribal courts in the name of ‘due process’ is nothing more than a disguise for prejudice.”

Ernst’s bill also puts new restrictions on tribal courts that go beyond those imposed on federal and state courts, including audits by the U.S. attorney general, and it waives tribes’ sovereign immunity by creating a civil rights cause of action against the tribe for any alleged rights violations. In other words, domestic violence offenders could further antagonize their victims by claiming their own civil rights had been violated.

The National Congress of American Indians, the largest organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, told Senate leaders in a Wednesday letter that it opposes Ernst’s bill because it would undermine the independence of tribal courts, destabilize protections offered to defendants under the Indian Civil Rights Act and impose unfair requirements on tribal courts. ...

Tribal opposition appears to be a dealbreaker for at least some GOP senators. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a prominent voice on Native issues, all but said she can’t support Ernst’s VAWA bill during a Senate hearing last month on her bills relating to missing and murdered indigenous women. “I want to emphasize the importance of passing a bipartisan VAWA bill with a strong tribal provision which empowers our tribal governments and respects tribal sovereignty,” Murkowski said in passionate remarks, even though the bill wasn’t part of the hearing.

Under Mitch McConnell, the Republicans can’t even agree on exactly what terrible policies to adopt. Ah, well, judges...

Is it a good day for dinosaur news, Science? It’s always a good day for dinosaur news!

The “remarkable” two-for-one fossil would have been preserved in an incredibly unlikely chain of events, the researchers write today in Scientific Reports. The paleontologists believe that after the Prosaurolophus hadrosaur died—and the flesh had decayed off its jawbone—it washed into a river. There, a blob of sticky resin from either a redwood or an araucarian conifer tree also fell. The blob, containing an unlucky aphid, washed up against the bone and was pressed against it by the flow of water, the scientists argue. It was then covered in sediment for tens of millions of years, during which time the resin hardened into amber. The find—the first of its kind in North America—carries a cargo of secrets about the dinosaur’s environment. For example, the plant and insect traces inside confirm what many paleontologists already hypothesized: Some hadrosaurs, including the 9-meter-long Prosaurolophus, fed on conifers near coastal floodplains.

I saw Jurassic Park. I know what happens next. They pry loose the aphid and, the next thing I know, I’m riding the bus with hadrosaurs. Dinosaurs lived then to make us happy now, but I’m not sure they can live now to make us happy now.

Even on a grim week like this one has been, The Committee always is optimistic that a Top Commenter Of The Week can be found to take home all the Beckhams. And, lo and behold, here comes Top Commenter Matthew S. Kamp with a strange but wonderful description of Attorney General William Barr.

It's like Bull Connor and Droopy had a baby.

That’s some top-of-the-line gourmet reference-goulash, my friends, and it’s enough for Mr. Kamp to sock away 79.22 Beckhams, which he receives along with our undying awe and respect.

Back to DC on Monday, probably, to watch the House Judiciary Committee try to keep Doug Collins from calling square dances when it’s his turn to speak. Be well and play nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snake-line, and, for god’s sake, don’t mess with prehistoric aphids.

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