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I appeared on Silvio Canto Jr's talk show from Dallas.  It's here.

 

 

JANUARY 4,  2023

UPDATE AT 11:30 P.M. ET:  You all know that the House has now gone through six ballots without selecting a speaker. The House is in recess.  We are told that much negotiating is going on, and that pizzas are being delivered regularly to the negotiators.  Many stained shirts will likely result.  Whether a speaker will result is another story.  From Fox: 

House Republicans successfully but narrowly voted Wednesday night to adjourn until Thursday, after a break of several hours and indications that some progress might have been achieved in talks between Kevin McCarthy's supporters and 20 GOP opponents.

After a frenzied round of voting and clamoring by members, they voted 216-214 to adjourn.
Every Democrat voted against adjourning and they were joined by four Republicans: Andy Biggs of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Elijah Crane of Arizona and Matt Gaetz of Florida. But every other Republican voted to call it a day, and the House will return Thursday at noon to try again.

Just before the vote, McCarthy said some progress was made in negotiations with his opponents, and said it would be more productive to keep talking rather than hold more votes.

"I crawl before I walk, I walk before I run," McCarthy said after the House adjourned. "I felt as though we had a very good discussion."

McCarthy failed to get the 218 votes needed to win the speaker's gavel three times on Wednesday, and three times on Tuesday. He topped out at 203 votes on Tuesday, and on Wednesday mustered 201.

COMMENT:  No one is making absolute predictions, but I wouldn't be shocked if the dissidents came up with an actual name of someone to run directly against McCarthy. 

There will be a time when the cable news networks get tired of covering these failed votes.  No more free publicity for the members.  Maybe that will be the time a settlement is reached.

January 4, 2023       Permalink

 

A HOUSE DIVIDED – The House is scheduled to vote today for a fourth time to select a speaker.  No normal House business can be conducted before a speaker is chosen.  There has apparently been no progress in behind-the-scenes talks among the warring Republican factions.  However, one item has surfaced on a possible strategy that Kevin McCarthy might use.  From The Hill:

House GOP Speaker nominee Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) expressed optimism about winning the gavel Tuesday night as he emerged from meetings with allied members following three failed ballots, floating the possibility of winning the post with fewer than 218 votes. 

“You’re sitting at 202 votes, so you need technically just 11 more votes to win,” McCarthy said.

“Democrats have 212 votes. You get 213 votes, and the others don’t say another name, that’s how you can win. You can win with 218. You could win with 222. But if you want to look at how you have to go about doing it,” McCarthy said.

The House Speaker is elected by a majority of all those voting for a specific Speaker candidate, not necessarily all members. Those voting “present” and those who are absent do not count toward that total, lowering the threshold.

Former House Speakers Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and John Boehner (R-Ohio) each won the Speakership with just 216 votes in 2021 and 2015, respectively.

In the three Tuesday votes, all 434 members voted in all ballots, putting the majority threshold at 218. In the first and second ballots, McCarthy got 203 votes, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) got 212 and 19 McCarthy opponents voted for other candidates. In the third vote, a 20th member joined the detractors, putting McCarthy at 202.

It is not clear, however, how McCarthy could not only win over 11 in the group to vote for him, but get the other nine to not vote for a candidate.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) dismissed the strategy of McCarthy getting across the line with “present” votes outside a separate meeting in the Capitol with McCarthy allies and detractors in the office of House GOP Whip Tom Emmer (Minn.).

“If he’s literally trying to patchwork votes together, to scrape together the votes by trying to carve out ‘present’ votes in hopes that people don’t show up or something, I just don’t see that as the right path to a strong leadership position,” Roy said.

Roy also cast strong doubts on the notion that any of the 20 Republicans who opposed McCarthy would play ball and vote “present” on Wednesday.  

“I definitely don’t see it,” he said. 

COMMENT:  Republicans are diminishing their own standing with the American people as they fight among themselves.  We'll await today's developments with considerable concern.

January 4, 2023       Permalink

 

 

 

JANUARY 3,  2023

UPDATE AT 5:55 P.M. ET:  The House has now completed a third ballot, and no winner in the race for speaker has emerged.  The House has now adjourned.  This is an unprecedented situation, with no one knowing exactly what will happen next.  Kevin McCarthy shows no sign of giving up, and the dissident Republicans who have caused this crisis have no serious candidate of their own.

UPDATE AT 3 P.M. ET:  The House completed one full ballot in the race for speaker, with no one receiving the 218 votes needed to win.  The chamber is now in the second ballot, and, again, it doesn't look as if anyone will emerge victorious.  We are in uncharted territory, and it's impossible to say what will happen next.  The image of the Republican Party is sinking, as it is showing itself hopelessly split.

 

 

Today the Republicans in the House will decide whether they're serious about governing, and confronting the Biden administration, or whether they require professional babysitting.

I understand the sitters will be waiting in the wings, with warmed formula bottles and bibs, just in case. 

Today the House elects a new speaker, the person third in line for the presidency.  Republicans had expected that they'd have a much larger majority as a result of the midterm election, but things didn't quite work out.  They have a five-seat majority, give or take a few, depending on who shows up to vote.  That means the election for speaker could be disrupted by a few revolutionaries.  That seems to be happening.

Kevin McCarthy, Republican from California, wants to be speaker of the House.  It is his dream.  He has a majority of House Republicans behind him, but a small group of hardliners refuses to support him.   McCarthy may fall just short of the majority needed for election. 

That wasn't in the script.  And it could cause a political explosion.

Republicans must show they are ready to begin the 2024 election campaign...right now.  All business, as little division as possible.  A full agenda reflecting the same appeal that Glenn Youngkin showed when he flipped Virginia red, and that Ron DeSantis shows every day as governor of Florida.  If the GOP stalls on choosing a speaker, and subjects us to vote after vote, the image of the party will fade with great speed.  The members will look like jerks.   They will speak to TV reporters who will make them look even jerkier.  Not ready for prime time.  And if the party members get more and more frustrated, we could see some real ugliness.

It can happen.  The Republicans lack the one thing that can be useful in a moment like this – a strong, respected leader who can knock heads and make it clear who the boss is and what he wants, and who he wants in the speaker's chair.  Theoretically, the last presidential candidate is acting head of a party, the elder statesman.  But Donald Trump is...uh...different.  Too divisive for that role.  And Eisenhower is long gone.

This can be an interesting day.  Stand by.  

January 3, 2023       Permalink  

 

     

 

JANUARY 1-2,  2023

NO WAY TO START A NEW YEAR:  In New York City, two police officers assigned to manage the New Year's Eve crowds in Times Square were slashed by a lone attacker.  The assailant is reportedly a committed Islamic jihadist, already known to law enforcement, which sends an understandable chill through us.  Are the terrorists back?  From Daily Mail: 

Trevor Bickford appeared to be a typical, all-American teenager before he allegedly became a radicalized Muslim and slashed two cops with a machete in Times Square.

The alleged Islamic extremist, 19, once made the school honor roll, won awards for his artwork and was a member of the championship football team in his hometown of Wells, Maine.

But after his father died of a drug overdose in 2018, it's believed Bickford's life descended into turmoil.

By the time Bickford made his way to New York City on Amtrak alone for the alleged attacks this weekend, the teen was already reportedly on the FBI's radar.

He was on the Bureau's terrorism 'Guardian Watchlist,' and had told his aunt he was planning to travel to Afghanistan to fight, sources told The New York Post.

On Saturday night, Bickford allegedly attacked two NYPD police officers on Eighth Avenue between 51st and 52nd Street, right outside Times Square where thousands of revelers were ringing in the new year.

Another officer shot at Bickford, striking him in the shoulder. He remains hospitalized at the Bellevue and charges are pending. 

Bickford does not have criminal record according to a preliminary investigation, but police sources say the Bureau in Boston have an open case on him.

Authorities have told NBC they were looking into whether the suspect had previously posted what they called jihadist writings online and and then traveled to New York City to target police.

Photos posted to Facebook show Bickford at different times of his life, many with his two brothers Devin and Travis. 

There are photos of him playing football with the championship Wells High School Warriors football team, singing in the choir and marching with the color guard.

As recently as 2020, he was among a group of students to win awards for their artwork. Bickford won for his work in jewelry, Seacoastonline reported at the time.

Prior to his death in 2018 - reportedly of a drug overdose - his father Thomas Bickford proudly posted photos of his sons and their achievements.

Family and friends were quick to praise the boys and their bright futures. Bickford's father died at the age of 41, according to his obituary.

COMMENT:  We need to know everything about this kid, and how he became radicalized.  Is he the only one who chose his path?  Hard to believe that. 

And I wonder how many jihadists are coming through our open southern border, and are heading for our big cities?

January 1,  2023     Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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