Day 32+11H: Trump’s Other Wall

[NB: Byline — check it. /~Rayne]

This post is about a wall. Nope, not about Trump’s narcissistic pipe dream made of steel slats and Fox News-borne ego fluffing.

It’s a wall of GOP senators, so corrupt and craven they will line up against reopening their country’s government while voting to help a country which U.S. intelligence agencies say interfered with the 2016 elections.

They’ll roll over while Americans begin to die from their gross neglect. Federal employees who are diabetics are already having difficulty paying for insulin, a double whammy since the GOP-led Congress has done nothing to deal with extortive insulin pricing. Children affected by the shutdown will begin to go hungry soon if they haven’t already, whether from cuts to school lunches or at home.

There are several groups varying by their corruption and cravenness; I’ve already written about the Class II senators who don’t appear to feel concern about their re-election prospects — yet.

But the second group in need of a swift kick are those who visited Russia on July 4th this past year:

Richard Shelby (AL) — Senate Class III

John Thune (SD) — Senate Class III

John Hoeven (ND) — Senate Class III

Ron Johnson (WI) – Senate Class Class III

John Kennedy (LA) — Senate Class III

John Thune (SD) — Senate Class III

Jerry Moran (KS) — Senate Class III

Steve Daines (MT) — Senate class II

Kay Granger (TX) — Representative

At the top is the senior “spokesperson” for the group; he’s the one quoted most often by the media when asked about this congressional delegation.

At the bottom are two exceptions: Daines is running for re-election for the first time in 2020, and Granger isn’t a senator at all but a House rep from a solidly red congressional district.

Notice the trait most have in common? They’re Class III, which means they will be up for re-election in 2022.

Why the hell did nearly 30% of the Class III GOP senators go to Russia on our most American holiday, one celebrating our independence from an authoritarian monarchy?

Not sending Class I senators who were working on their 2018 mid-term campaigns makes sense, but why not more Class II? These classes are assigned by state according to Constitution’s Article I, Section III; there should have been broader, more random representation on this trip (and certainly not on July 4th).

Here’s my theory: first, this congressional delegation trip was an interview for aid. Not development aid for the U.S. but for their campaigns. I can’t think of a reason why so many Class III senators would have gone together. Thankfully none of them are on the Armed Services or Select Intelligence Committees though Johnson and Young are on the Foreign Policy Committee and Shelby, Hoeven, Moran, and Kennedy are on the Appropriations Committee.

Or is the percentage of links between these senators and these committees relevant in some way?

Daines is an exception — his need is more immediate, and his state is in play based on the data produced by Democratic Senator Jon Tester’s re-election in 2018. Daines may be a proof of concept.

Second, I believe Granger went because Senator John Cornyn hadn’t yet decided whether to run for re-election in 2020. He didn’t announce until September that he would do so. Granger may have been groomed as a candidate for this seat because her congressional district encompassing Fort Worth is solidly red and the GOP probably has a House candidate waiting in the wings. If Beto O’Rourke runs for the Senate again in 2020 as a Democrat, the GOP may have wanted to run a woman against him if Cornyn retired. But now Granger will have to wait for another slot to open. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her run for governor after Greg Abbott finishes his term(s).

There are seven more senators and one representative who are likely to continue to stand pat behind Trump and his Putinist agenda, including his “fucken wall.” They will only change their loyalties if they are called out on their bullshit.

There should be no conditions placed on reopening government. Period. The shutdown has weakened all security including the health and economic welfare of citizens whether federal employees or not.

Trump’s proposal made this weekend is a joke — his personal businesses will benefit from the continued protection of immigrants who work at his resorts while failing to provide any real additional security — and will be shoved in our faces tomorrow as McConnell has scheduled it for a vote.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121

If you can help at all, check with local food banks to make donations. There are federal employees who live and/or work in nearly every county. You can also try to pay off outstanding school lunch fees for kids who don’t qualify for the federal school program but have run up their hot lunch charges for lack of funds — just call your local public school system and ask if you can help.

Now is a good time to make small purchases, too, if there’s a previously owned item you’ve put off buying. Federal employees and contractors have been selling all manner of items to raise cash, from clothing to books.

And some have been reduced to selling plasma.

I don’t know how we can come away from this horrible episode in our nation’s history without thinking the GOP has deliberately chosen to harm this country and quite possibly to appease and benefit a hostile country.

Americans’ deaths arising from this shutdown will be on their hands.

33 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Treat this as an open thread.


  2. viget says:

    Amen to that Rayne.

    We need to expose the campaign finance system as the rotten money laundering scheme it is. If we don’t, our entire democracy will be bought and paid for by Russian oligarchs and organized crime.

    Hard to imagine the principles of the Constitution surviving that.

  3. Trip says:


    The ruling class that drove Brexit
    After the vote, journalists went on endless tours of deprived areas to report on how working-class people voted Leave…they somehow forgot to mention that wealthy counties…backed Brexit, while some of the poorest areas of the UK –voted Remain….we find no evidence of a link with working class identification.’

    (Same here.)

    …reactionary backlashes to egalitarian movements, they pump up latent ideas of racism and sexism that exist throughout society. Brexit, Trump, Orbán, Salvini, Bolsonaro and Le Pen all tap into deep social and cultural crises in their countries….their success comes not from addressing the causes of the deep feelings of alienation produced by late capitalism, but from facilitating displacement mechanisms and from encouraging people to blame anyone but those with real power – those who have thrived in the recent crisis.

    I didn’t count, long article, I hope within fair use.

    The US is just another brick in the wall.

    • earlofhfuntingdon says:

      Nice use of the ellipsis.

      Rayne has the last word, but the word count looks ok.  If the quote function is unavailable, use quotation marks to set off words not your own.

      Enjoy the Pink Floyd reference, especially for a teaching moment.

    • Rayne says:

      138 words — within the 300 threshold. Better use would include more commentary on the excerpted material since one criteria for Fair Use evaluation is criticism.

      There are plenty of free online word counting apps which run in browsers, by the way.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If I can’t count all the words, I assume it’s more than 300 and bring out my friend, Mr. Ellipsis.  Then, again, I have in common with Morse that I prefer a pen, one with a nib, and you fill it from a bottle.

        • LeeNLP says:

          Goodness, I love you people.  The primaries and the regular commentators, and those who timidly put their toe in and say something worth hearing.  The passion, the powerful theorizing, all the way down to the clever turns of phrases.  EW never disappoints!  :)

          (Sorry on the username- I meant “LeeNLP”)

          [Fixed the username, thanks for the heads up. /~Rayne]

  4. BobCon says:

    There’s always a decent chance there’s an NRA connection. The NRA needs to know it won’t get pilloried for its Russia connections, and arranging for a prominent trip to Russia is a way to shore up support from potentially sensitive members of the GOP — who among them will feel comfortable speaking up if the news gets worse for the NRA?

    • Rayne says:

      Yet the NRA is going broke. I suspect another so-called nonprofit organization will emerge as the next laundering vehicle to replace the NRA.

      Perhaps the nature of that organization will fit the interests of the committees these 6-7 senators serve.

        • Rayne says:

          Hmm. I’d buy that if these Class III senators were on the Judiciary Committee.

          There’s some other organization they’ll use to fund these senators — since most belong to Appropriations and Shelby piped up, will they use some sort of pro-defense/pro-security entity?

      • BobCon says:

        I think the NRA will survive, if in a restructured way. The power of their brand is enormous, and even in a diminished form it won’t stop being a force in the GOP.

        An NRA endorsement matters to almost any GOP politician, and they can still call in favors. And Russia, almost certainly, can call in favors from the NRA.

        That’s not to say there isn’t someone else behind this. I’m sure there are plenty of reasonable suspects.

  5. klynn says:

    I wonder if anyone passed along an analytics study about how long a shut needs to go in order to cause destabilization that could be defined as “national emergency” for Tpon to use to his advantage? My tin foil hat is large…I know.

  6. Pete says:

    Perhaps only tangentially related to this topic, but anyway:

    So, Trump is gonna show up next Tuesday night to deliver the State of The Union address.

    Hmmm..what about that joint resolution that is the real gateway for setting the joint session of Congress in the House chamber for the speech?

    • Alan says:

      Pelosi could/should just reply “Sorry you misunderstood–we will not be holding a State of the Union Address while government workers aren’t getting paid.  End of story.”

  7. harpie says:

    Since this is an open thread [thanks, Rayne!] I would like to share something beautiful Andrew Weisburd linked to yesterday.

    Hear the sound of the Old Norse language: Creation myth set to music

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for that! It sounds so much like contemporary Icelandic, a bit like Swedish and Norwegian.

      Sample this, a reading of Beowulf in Old English. Crunching the text through Google Translate, the closest match is also Icelandic. I suspect the professor reading the Old English should have an accent closer to the one in that Old Norse nocturne you shared — fewer flat A sounds, rounder vowels like those in Romance languages.

  8. Jenny says:

    Thank You Rayne. This is really a time to help one another. Action is the key.

    Some of the Senators have full message machines or are not answering. You might consider going to their local numbers. That is the only way I can contact McConnell who has been missing in action for 33 days.

    His current quote: “Time to put the country ahead of politics.” I would say he is 33 days too late.

  9. PR says:

    What does that smug look on your face tell us? Nick Sandmann is another Brett Kavanaugh in the making. Kentucky brings us McConnell and Paul, who hold the nation hostage ad nauseum. Two senators who hold the far larger economic engines in blue states hostage by racism and classism and party politics. Hide behind your immigrant wife, Trump, but you’re still a racist who hates certain immigrants like McConnell who harbors bias. Is the worst era for America? No, just look at the Nick Sandmanns of the nation: entitled, emboldened, enriched, enabled by unearned privilege by a system that socially reproduces men just like him. America this is not the worst, it’s more of the same with worse to come. Look at Mr. Miller of Santa Monica of Jewish Immigrant (and illiterate) background. He assimilated so well into the UGLY racism that runs America. Look at Nick Sandmann who tell us who they are by their actions. Total disrespect, in your face, smugly getting off and smiling and snickering. That’s his truth: you’re trash and I laugh at you. He was not “confused” he was entertaining himself. “Don’t believe the truth” they say. “Don’t trust your own senses” or “don’t take it too seriously, it was just a joke” or “locker room talk”.

    “I’m a Catholic” they say. I say NO YOU’RE NOT. I AM. There’s a place in HELL for people like you. Mr. Miller will be there with Hitler and R. Kelly.

    Hanging nooses. Death threats. Gay bashings. Rapes by designer drugs purchased on the internet. Who cares? Nick Sandmann has the world at his feet because he’s earned it by being “from the right kind of family and money”

    Remember the “social registries”? Mugshots of protesters against segregation, Jim Crow?? Who wore it best? The “criminal” /”degenerate” or the “socialite”?

    Before God, YOU will be judged. Your prep school antics are sending you on your way to HELL. And to all the college admissions officers, who would want to be in school with THAT?

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Smug look” is the standard description for the look Nathan Sandmann gave to Nathan Phillips, which was captured on the Lincoln Memorial video.

    Mr. Sandmann’s look did not display much respect for a Native elder or any adult, just unsupervised private school swagger on a day away from Sister Suzie and Brother John.

  11. J. H. Frank says:

    What’s with the recurring reminder to check the byline?

    I’m relatively new here, but I’ve gotten used to checking the byline for every post because, while Marcy’s nom is the URL, bmaz and Rayne both post somewhat regularly.

    Sorry if this is a dumb question.

    • Rayne says:

      We get a few folks who attribute my posts to Marcy. I’m the exhortative here while she does all the weedy analytical stuff with emphasis this past two years on the DOJ/FBI/SCO. It could get messy if a sloppy or too-hurried journalist decided to tear after Marcy about my angry mom-itude.

      Nobody really makes that mistake with bmaz’s Trash Talk and because he’s the lawyer here I don’t think mis-identification problems when he talks about the law.

  12. Eureka says:

    Thanks, Rayne, for sleuthing and deducing the future of the GOP. Now we know where (else) to look.
    Paying off school lunch tabs is another good idea, among the rest you’ve suggested.
    Today, a state senator had a robocall explaining how (because of fed shutdown) all February SNAP benefits were paid out on January 18th, so budget accordingly – and call if you have any questions. Good move, sad it has to happen.
    There was also local news footage of federal workers lined up under a highway bridge for a pop-up food pantry, with some giving snippets of their stories- all very relatable.

    ADD: link re when/how/why SNAP impacted:
    Government Shutdown Puts Federal Food Stamp Program In Jeopardy : NPR

    • Eureka says:

      Adding some links re SNAP to contextualize the ‘why it’s news anew’ link above.  Basically, the last ~ sure benes (for February) have been issued, but they have been issued early per USDA guidance under a program usually reserved for natural disasters.   States were instructed to apply for funds through ‘early issuance’ in order to get the funds out by the ’30-days-after-expiration deadline’ of the December 22 exp. short-term funding bill.  So depending on one’s state and regular schedule, the February benefits could have been received prior to the January ones, and officials are trying to give people a heads-up.

      This one has bonus content re:  Perdue and Trump hostilities to food stamps:
      USDA: Food stamps will be funded through February
      IIRC, Rayne has posted about SNAP before, but I can’t find the post.  General info:
      Government shutdown: people on food stamps, or SNAP, could be hit hard – Vox

  13. Marinela says:

    If Trump is not intterested in making a deal to re-open the government, what is the end game here?

    He knows Pelosi and dems cannot accept the last offer.

    So what is the reason on why he really doesn’t want a deal?

    His poll numbers are slliping, unless he thinks dems are going to cave on the shutdown.

  14. J. Adams Jefferson says:

    God, I love you guys. (Polygender term? Is for me.) I note others visiting here also have similar appreciation.

    And I observe a train of thought developing through comments on several recent posts that is aligned with mine, perhaps many coming to similar conclusions about the Mueller probe.

    This is worthwhile:

    I hate to be long-winded (one of the things I’m best at, tho?) but it’s late, the thread’s not active, & likely I won’t be back for awhile. Hope you’ll receive this as a drive-by throwing flowers.

    A little introduction, since this is first time I’ve posted here. I’ve kind of removed myself from the world, for wilderness beauty & primitive life, but I can’t cease to witness what’s happening. In my world, it’s perfectly valid to find out about major news events by talking to your neighbor over the pasture fence, and leave it at that. If you’ve got background, all you need is a headline to understand the story. If you see where your neighbor’s bias leans, you can almost sketch the larger picture. Maybe a few times a year I’ll take a deep dive, and quickly update all my timelines in detail.

    Since 20 December 2018 I’ve been watching the tectonics line up, an underlying structural development that to me shows the end of the Trump Presidency in sight. The event of that day was Mattis’ resignation. In my response, sotto voce, I made much of Syria, but of course Mattis did not mention Syria. It’s symbolic. Consider me as taking some artistic liberty with the subject:

    The Last 100 Days of the Trump Presidency (Part 1)

    By the way, I’m not prognosticating how this goes down. There are too many variables; I don’t assume anything obvious. Dem leadership have been rightfully leery of impeachment talk – as Friedman notes, it’s Republican momentum that has to carry the ball. My initial sense was that Dems could only hinder the process by getting too out front and too much in the way, so Tlaib’s outburst was a little concerning; but I think it was the right message from the right source.

    Anyway, I’m keyed in, now. It takes a lot of work from here, but I’m making an effort to stay on top of what’s happening. And when I saw the Buzzfeed can-of-worms sitting at the nexus of the entire journosystem braced up on Two. Anonymous. Sources. I almost felt a kind of panic.

    My very first thought recalled some bogus docs that were transomed to Maddow – there was a connection to The Intercept – that she was savvy enough to recognize as a plant intended to discredit dissidents with false evidence they might run with. There was at least one other incident of something like this I recall in the past year or so, a trap that was sidestepped. So when Peter Carr spoke out on behalf of the Mueller team, I felt a shudder; but his disavowal was so carefully parse-able it could have been koans. A riddle.

    Tracking down the Delphic explanation, I came to emptywheel, scanned and sifted as best I could through Marcy Wheeler’s immensely penetrating oracles on both Peter Carr and DAG Rosenstein, and almost 200 comments so on point and mostly civil I could not ask for keener illumination.

    So I put my admiration for you all in the topic sentence, how much you care, how deeply you love, how hard you’ve labored to stay true to the best of what this country was meant to be.

    And I go forward feeling a whole lot better, almost relieved, even if the buzzkill-blowback still looks like a mess. Essential questions are answered, for me. Who is leaking this information, and why? How much of it is true? What is the meaning of the nuanced disputation from Mueller’s office? And why Buzzfeed, of all outlets? The sources can’t be ignorant who they’re dealing with; and Buzzfeed’s got to have some self-awareness of what they’re doing. What the leakers want, and what Buzzfeed wants, is the same; and Buzzfeed is equipped to stand on it precisely because of the road they’ve been down. Even the seemingly casual, journalistically sloppy, empty formality of running an abbreviated headline past Mueller’s office before publication looks to be cagey and instinctive.

    You may not see it – this is just my take. I agree with Marcy – and I’m grateful for her clarity of perception and expression – that the “two federal law enforcement officials” that the Buzzfeed authors claimed were “fully, 100 percent read-in” to the evidence had to be connected with the transit of Michael Cohen’s docket through the SDNY. The tension she spells out in the objectives at variance between the SDNY and the Special Prosecutor’s office makes it all make sense.

    The fact that Leopold and Cormier had been working on their article “for months” seems significant to me, but it could mean a few different things. The most straightforward view is that “the law enforcement sources familiar with [Michael Cohen’s] testimony to the special counsel” see themselves like the adults hiding under their desks in the West Wing, who would write an anonymous New York Times Oped to say, “Don’t fret, we’ve got everything under control.” Except that in this case, they’re in a position to take decisive action.

    I recognize that this is not the only way of deciphering the motives of those involved. But if you were in a position to know precisely how Mueller has circumscribed his own purview, to give Trump a pass on bad behavior when you don’t think that is just or right for the country that you serve, you might want the truth to get out, no matter what.

    I’m not saying Mueller’s team is lying with their denials, only that, as regarding the ringleader-in-chief, someone thinks they’ve taken too conservative an approach to immoralities too corrosive to be pardoned.

    Will it ultimately have the desired effect? Or will it pan out to be counterproductive? Could it, indeed, unmoor the whole Mueller effort?

    Can’t tell you. But I’d tell Nancy Pelosi right now she needs to make a prime-time address to the nation, and she should request live air time from all the networks. This is a moment for stepping up to leadership, to face the criminal & humanitarian crisis in Washington, and the pain being inflicted upon all American citizens by a renegade commander with a weapon leveled directly at our livelihood and way of life.

  15. Taxidermist says:

    Marinela @12:45

    Sarah Kendzior said this today online:
    ”The Trump camp is not worried about public approval, because they’re not worried about losing elections, because they don’t plan on having free or fair elections. This is an acceleration of the move toward authoritarianism.” “This shutdown is an attack on the most vulnerable people in this country, but it also a defense for the most privileged. It is a means for Trump and other criminal officials to consolidate power, purging the officials who could stop them. The shutdown is a hostile restructuring…Mueller will not save you…We are being ruled by a coalition of corruption, a burden we as ordinary citizens all share but none deserve. The shutdown is not about Trump knowing too little about how government works, but about his team of GOP operatives and outside advisors knowing too much. They know a shutdown achieves kleptocratic goals”

    It’s depressing as hell but reading her work and hearing her warnings since 2016, she isn’t often wrong.

    • Marinela says:

      Just watched Mussolini segment on PBS last nigth. And now this write up.

      This is terrifying.

      What can Pelosi do?

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