SAY WHAT? - House GOPers just turned their first Oversight hearing into bad performance art by raving about Biden's (really Trump's) COVID crimes to kick off their reign of grievance, paranoia and crackpot misinformation: Antifa = fascists, insurgents = ethicists, COVID masks = Taliban, Hunter Biden. They'll get a good boost from veteran, defense contractor, teargas peddler and new Florida Rep. Cory Mills - "Soldier. Conservative. Outsider." Fascist - who gave them a dummy grenade to urge, "Let's come together and get to work."
The process of perverting once-noble democratic governance into what Randy Rainbow calls "the wackest shitshow in town" came seamlessly, he noted, thanks to Kevin McCarthy. "Now that you've handed out important committee assignments to election deniers, QAnon conspiracy theorists, pathological liars and third-rate drag queens," he asked an imaginary Only-Just-Barely Speaker, "tell us how else you mean to drag this country down into the fiery pits of hell?" For hints, see Wednesday's debacle. Eager to launch their red-meat-packed GOP Vengeance Tour, Chair James Comer began by targeting vital-at-the-time COVID relief programs as "the greatest theft of American taxpayer dollars in history," claiming Democrats "have spent far too much time pushing money out the door and far too little time conducting meaningful oversight of how that money is being spent." "With the power of the gavel," he boasted, "we'll get answers the American people deserve" - on not just COVID fraud but lockdowns, fentanyl, Afghanistan, the border, money spent "to push divisive ideologies onto our students" etc, and thank God sensible Republicans are finally here to "hold President Biden accountable."
Less than shockingly, this was self-serving bullshit about programs that were "a lifeline for millions," as Dem Jamie Raskin noted, though he politely called it "cherry-picking." First, they're talking a $3-trillion-plus chunk of money passed by a GOP Senate and signed by Trump. Second, since that massive, urgent, unprecedented spending was approved as many thousands daily died and the economy slowly crashed, Democrats have spent three years - with multiple hearings, reports, investigations and prosecutions - to expose the inevitable fraud and waste that did surface, almost all of which was perpetrated by the Grifter-In-Chief himself. They found that Trump and his rich cronies mismanaged over $84 billion in PPP loans, short-changing many small struggling businesses while rewarding big banks, corporations and GOP allies, including Comer's brother; that GOP lawmakers repeatedly refused to join in oversight efforts unless there was something in it for them; that millions went to what Raskin termed "those trying to profit off the generosity of the American people - imposters, hustlers, con men, liars, outright fraudsters and fakes" - while GOP pandemic profiteers turned a blind eye.
The mind-numbing idiocy and hypocrisy reflected in the day's "festival of disinformation" had no better avatar than "Marjorie Nazi Greene,," aka "Traitor-Trash Sasquatch" and "Georgia mountain creature...somehow simultaneously oleaginous & yet crispy." Thanks to McCarthy's spineless cave to the Treason Caucus, she is back on several stunningly inappropriate committees, including Oversight; also - see cave - she is free to endlessly grandstand under a new House rule allowing any lawmaker to offer an amendment on anything. "We are trying to open things up for everybody," goes the official explanation, though they hope to speed up votes "as a way to lessen the stupidity factor," and good luck with that. Reveling in her new power, MTG jumped right in with one of a reported 140 amendments proposed for a bill on the use of the strategic oil reserve; she wanted to forbid Biden from selling oil from the reserve. Maybe because duh that's what it's for in an emergency, her amendment crashed and burned in a 14 to 418 vote reportedly viewed online by, like, a gazillion gleeful patriots. Worse, rumor had it the 13 other people who voted with her were all different versions of George Santos. e's been busy elsewhere too. Joining a weirdly giddy Tucker Carlson, she announced, "It's time to declare Antifa a domestic terrorist organization," though Tucker mostly wanted to know, "Where do they come from? Where do they sleep?" "America is just sick and tired of Antifa," she intoned, citing the "many people" they've killed and the masks they made people wear "during the so-called pandemic." "Antifa is the ground troops of the Democrat (sic) Party...Enough of Antifa. They are not the anti-fascists - they are the fascists." She also bravely objected when a Dem sought to reestablish a subcommittee on civil rights in the wake of Tyre Nichols' murder in Memphis - "a Democrat-controlled city," she noted, and by black cops so it wasn't "racism or anything like that." Besides, she said, "I'd like to point something": The mother of Jan. 6 rioter Ashli Babbitt was in the hearing room, and what about civil rights for Ashli and the poor people in jail just for trying to overthrow the government, who are just like Tyre Nichols? Except, noted one observer, "One was trying to get home. The other was trying to kill Nancy Pelosi."
Still, MTG's shining hour was the Oversight hearing; she welcomed it online with, "I'm ready." And wow, was she. Seeking to uncover Dem-perpetrated COVID fraud while in fact exposing the folly of an ignorant Nazi talking to people outside their echo chamber, she grilled a comptroller for PPP loans to ask, "Can you tell me how much money went to CRT?" Guy, puzzled: "CRT?" MTG: "It's a racist curriculum used to teach children their white skin is not equal to black skin and other things." Guy: still puzzled. MTG, proud of her Ah-Hah catch: "A single elementary school in Illinois received $5.1 billion for 'equity and diversity' training." Twitter, where many noted schools these days can't even afford pencils: "Holy shit! One school got $5.1 BILLION DOLLARS!! That sounds 100% accurate and in no way made up!" Also, that might even be enough to make MTG less racist! (Illinois' share of American Rescue Plan funds was $5.1 billion.) Up next: How much did Drag Queen Story Time - "where men dress up as women and read confusing books to children" - get? An LGBTQ community center in Pennsylvania got $16,000, she declared triumphantly: "We need to look into this." Says the woman who got $183,504 in PPP loans, forgiven.
There was plenty more stupid to go around. Soon after Greene's amendment bombed, her frenemy Lauren Boebert excitedly bragged on Twitter, "Congress is working as it should be and I'm proud to say all three of my amendments passed today!", prompting certificate of participation memes, the hashtag #LaurenBoebertIsSoDumb, and the idea "someone should really tell her there's a Senate." When Oversight moved on toTwitter and tech issues, Boebert delivered an impassioned speech that began, "At midnight, Tuesday Jan. 24, 2023, Newsmax was removed from DirectTV, denying 13 MILLION (sic: about 150,000) customers of this highly rated news channel." "What's next?" she shrieked. "Fox News? Will the Weather Channel be canceled if they refuse to bow to the Left's altar of climate change? What about the History Channel? The Left already wants to erase history and deny truth. What about their disdain for Christian belief?" Yada yada, says the party of book banning who think the free market's great until they disagree and want to force providers to air content they like and nothing fascist about that. "If these are the Christians taken up in the rapture," said one wiseacre, "Jesus can come and get them."
And so it went. The first meeting of the Judiciary Committee devolved into angry debate after smirky pedophile Matt Gaetz proposed an amendment that members open meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance "to invite inspirational constituents" to join in the empty posturing. Democrat David Cicilline sought to add an amendment clarifying the pledge couldn't be led by anyone who supported insurrection against the U.S. government, given "an affirmation of your defense of democracy" is "hard to (take) seriously" if, say, you led a tour of seditious "tourists" on Jan. 5 or broadcast Nancy Pelosi's location before her scheduled hanging on Jan. 6. On Oversight, Comer said they're eager to investigate Hunter Biden's paintings - "The American people deserve transparency regarding (his) expensive art transactions" - but they have no interest in investigating the "comically corrupt" $2 billion investment Jared Kushner got from journalist-murdering, bone-saw-wielding Saudis, to whom he long offered "unwavering support," for a private equity firm he launched the day after leaving the White House, though even Saudi watchdogs found Kushner's operation “unsatisfactory in all aspects.” Curious, that.
The mind-numbing hypocrisy integral to the GOP's "festival of disinformation" is unsurprising, of course, coming from a morally bankrupt party with nothing to offer but hate and paranoia; that "wears their unfitness for office and their personal repugnance like a badge of honor"; that regularly stoops to grotesque cruelty though, "When cruelty is the point, did you have a point to begin with?"; that's still inexplicably led by a deranged narcissist who just took the 5th almost 450 times - "Only the mob takes the 5th" - rather than incriminate himself over his measureless grift; that still nonetheless bends to his garbled, vengeful marching orders even if most Americans say they don't like them. And who better to lead that shameless cadre than a Speaker who put liars and election-deniers on an Ethics Committee - what, no Santos? - to restore "transparency to the halls of Congress," or who can say straight-faced he removed capable Dems Schiff and Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee because, "I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security. Integrity matters." LOL. Rick Wilson: "Man, the self-awareness-removal surgery worked really well." We are now deep down the rabbit hole.
Finally, aptly joining this laughable, terrifying cabal of charlatans is Trump-endorsed domestic terrorist, veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, State Department defense contractor, maker of vile Paul Pelosi jokes, proud hawker here and around the world of arms and riot-control gear including tear gas used against BLM protesters ("Antifa rioters") and rubber bullets fired on Hong Kong activists, and lockstep fascist Cory Mills, newly elected to Florida via gerrymandering after an ad proclaiming, "I fought tyranny. We battled Governments brutalizing freedoms, controlling lives, and forcing citizens to cover their faces...In America, our enemy is different" (cue images of masked Biden, Fauci, Pelosi) "but their objective is the same. Total. Government. Control." Mills vows to destroy "woke ideology," "unleash American energy," "defend a baby's life," "hold China accountable," and, he recently sneered, tear-gas media if they'd like. He seems nice. To celebrate his new job, he welcomed GOP cohorts to "a mission-oriented 118th Congress" by gifting each an inert, anal-suppository-like, GOP-elephant-adorned, 40mm grenade for a MK19 grenade launcher, made in Florida and developed in the Vietnam War, because nothing says comity and collaboration like a fake explosive ordinance on your desk. Each bore a note: "I look forward to working with you." He'll fit right in.
"Disorder in the house
Zombies on the lawn staggering around."
(Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email: [email protected]. This article was featured first in CommonDreams.org.). PHOTO: Members of the USSR's Young Pioneers Defense pose in 1937 to show they're "Always Prepare" to protect the Motherland. Photo by Viktor Bulla, who was shot and killed as an Enemy of the People shortly afterwards.