The GOP has become a party of political nihilists. Look at the scope of degeneration from the days of Speaker T.R. Reed to Kevin McCarthy. The scary thing is that the new Speaker is not the worst. It's certainly fair to say that he's not the sharpest pencil, but none of the other pencils who represent the Republicans have even been close to a pencil sharpener.

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Jan 10·edited Jan 11

great analysis, thank you for the article

stay safe in the West, best wishes for everyone's safety

The other positive something is being able to watch the riveting drama of cspan, always entertaining.

The standing ovation for the Clerk of the House was a truly incredible moment of unity. "House Clerk Cheryl Johnson receives a standing ovation in the House chamber on Thursday, the third day of speaker elections."

“America is truly a land of opportunity… On this first day, let us commit to the American dream that promises that if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to provide a comfortable living for yourself and for your family.”

The dream of Robert Reich and everyone: a just world.

Robert Reich website: Robert Reich writes at robertreich.substack.com. His latest book is "THE SYSTEM: Who Rigged It, How To Fix It." He is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written 17 other books, including the best sellers "Aftershock,""The Work of Nations," "Beyond Outrage," and "The Common Good." He is a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, founder of Inequality Media, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentaries "Inequality For All," streaming on YouTube, and "Saving Capitalism," now streaming on Netflix.

Robert Reich quotes:

Until everyone who needs a decent job at a livable wage gets one, there is no such thing as an "overheated" economy.

The average minimum wage worker would need to work a staggering 79 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom rental in 95 percent of U.S. counties...in the richest country on Earth.

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

There is no reason U.S. billionaires should hold $4,300,000,000,000 in wealth while food lines stretch for miles and millions are on the brink of eviction.

Remember in the 2022 midterms that every Republican voted against:

$1,400 per person

$300/mo unemployment

$3,000 per child tax credit

Rent assistance

Help for small businesses

Tax the rich.

America's 660 billionaires could give everybody in the country a $3,900 survival check and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic.


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Out of darkness, moments of light.

Thanks so much for so beautifully highlighting the light!

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Great piece--thank you!

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For those who are not familiar with this version that I presume inspired you, Jim, see below...

... but I'll first add that Kevin McCarthy has consistently chosen membership (and apparent prominence) in "The [Republican] Club" over the broader interests of his fellow citizens be they on his side of an argument or the other. For that matter, I have been wondering whether he has ever actually "done" anything during his time in the House (as in craft legislation or represent the nation in a global context, and I cannot think of single example and am reluctant to search out of concern that confirmation of that notion would be dispiriting...).

Thank you... and now, Colonel John Boyd:

Tiger, one day you will come to a fork in the road and you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go. If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments. Or you can go that way and you can do something — something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference. To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?

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Adding thanks for your fair and thoughtful dissection of both speeches. I did not see either "live" and have only listened to Jeffries' oration since, but I certainly agree with your assessment even if I missed the playfulness (perhaps due to the distracting buzzing from the peanut gallery on the other side of the aisle...).

You are somewhat coy in your conclusions about the new Speaker's words versus his deeds both in the form of promises to the rogues in his midst and the implications should they be followed unaltered and without serious restraint by the larger body.

For the lack of a different analogy, is there any chance or path for McCarthy to pivot into a Speaker of the entire House whatever his inclinations towards the GOP might remain?

He's not off to a good start having already reaffirmed his gratitude to TFG...

For what it's worth, here* is an equally thoughtful academic analysis of the just finished election of Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker of the House for the 118th Congress.

"The Struggle to Elect a Speaker" by Matthew Green


While very well presented in the context of the 'modern' Congress, it seems a bit of a stretch to compare the current tensions within the GOP and between the national parties with those that existed in 1855 when the longest vote for Speaker was recorded; on the other hand, that event was the first real test of the nascent Republican Party as a national movement.

Ironic interpretations are welcome, but it does still seem that comparisons of the historical versus potential precursors to armed rebellion on a national scale are problematic.

At least I hope so.

*first posted elsewhere: https://post.news/article/2K4EsuiRE66fzakge82tFn5nRFJ

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A magnificent debut! Thanks for the rhetorical/theatrical analysis.

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I felt proud that Jeffries gave a ringing ABC tutorial to the short-term speaker of the Republican Animal House. With ‘rockets red glare,’ Jeffries reaffirmed American democracy as I remembered it from yesteryear—and with humor!

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Hakeem Jeffries definitely demonstrated why Pelosi has faith in his ability.

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