Explaining Away Rights

Samuel Johnson, the literary critic and poet and essayist, and the man who compiled and wrote the first English dictionary, because he was angry with the French for being the first to try to stabilize their language – he could do better – was grumpy man. His tale Rasselas was better and far more sensible than Voltaire’s Candide. He knew better about everything, actually, and he said so. Often. He thought the American Revolution was a bunch of nonsense, traitorous nonsense. And he had a quip for everything. He didn’t think much of any sort of legal rights for women – “Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.”

Johnson died in 1784 but that last notion lived on. At the end of the next century all those suffragettes would be in his London streets demanding the right to vote, as if they were actually citizens too, and not just women. And that’s what they got. Here, the first women’s suffrage amendment was introduced in Congress in 1878 – but a suffrage amendment didn’t pass the House until May 21, 1919, and that was quickly followed by the Senate, on June 4, 1919. That amendment was immediately submitted to the states for ratification and got the requisite ratifications to secure adoption and went into effect on August 18, 1920 – and that was that – women were citizens too, not just women. They could vote. Their wishes mattered too. No one was quoting Samuel Johnson anymore, at least on this issue.

But this was the issue in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) – the Supreme Court ruling that women had the right to abortion, up until there was a competing interest, up until the fetus was viable at the beginning of the second trimester. But up to that point, this was the woman’s choice. The government had no business telling them what to do or not do in that first trimester. Women had rights too.

Now, they won’t. Women can still vote, for now. But soon they will not be able to seek an abortion for any reason. That right is as good as gone,

How do the Republicans and their new custom-built Supreme Court explain that to a nation that has been fine with Rose since 1973 – a steady sixty-two percent approval over all the years? That’s easy. Talk about something else. The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim cover that:

The volatile issue of abortion catapulted to the center of the political debate Wednesday after the Supreme Court signaled it would uphold a law undermining Roe v. Wade, creating the potential for the polarizing matter to reshape the electoral battlefield.

Democrats immediately signaled they would aim to make abortion rights a central focus in next year’s midterm elections, where their prospects have been viewed as dim, while many Republicans sought to keep the focus on inflation and other problems facing President Biden.

“This is an attack on women to make their own health-care decisions. Their families, it’s up to them,” said Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), a former chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “To have politicians decide, to me, is just frightening, and I expect a lot of voters will react to that.”

No, women are submissive. They’ll do what they’re told. And really, there are far bigger issues:

Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in contrast demurred when asked whether he believes abortion will be a motivating issue for Republican voters.

“They’re talking about inflation. They’re talking about the border. They’re talking about the Afghanistan debacle. They’re talking about parental involvement in education,” Scott said. “If you look at the polls and what people are caring about, that’s what they’re focused on.”

That’s what he hopes. But the other side has hopes too:

Would Wednesday’s bombshell Supreme Court argument, where the conservative majority suggested it was prepared to sharply cut abortion rights, energize liberals after decades when the issue has been a more powerful motivator for the right?

That should worry all Republicans:

The court’s ruling could come as late as next June, meaning it would land while campaigning is in full swing for the November 2022 congressional elections.

The reactions also underlined Democrats’ urgency to find new ways to shake up the political dynamic, as Biden’s approval ratings have plummeted and the party has struggled to make its case.

One Biden adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record, said abortion was an issue that could move swing voters, particularly suburban women, back to the Democrats’ corner.

Republicans’ caution, in turn, reflected a determination not to alienate these voters. Many centrist voters began to turn away from Democrats over economic concerns, but polls suggest they would be wary if long-established reproductive rights began to crumble.

Telling women to sit down and shut up and do what they’re told, and to stop claiming all these damned rights, to be submissive good little girls for a change, might have them voting against all that, in big numbers. Republicans must realize they don’t have time to repeal the Nineteenth Amendment before the midterms – the process is complicated – so they need to be careful.

But this was inevitable:

Wednesday’s hearing served as a reminder of former president Donald Trump’s enduring influence on the federal bench. Trump ushered in the most conservative Supreme Court in decades, and the day’s events emboldened supporters of Trump, who has signaled interest in running for president again.

Trump sealed the loyalty of many conservatives in the 2016 campaign by releasing a list of his potential justices, all of them dubious of Roe, during the presidential campaign. That yielded three justices who were key to Wednesday’s argument – Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

The current dynamics also mark the culmination of a decades-long conservative project to move the federal judiciary to the right, especially on abortion, led by such groups as the Federalist Society.

Trump didn’t care what sixty-two percent of Americans thought. There wouldn’t be a popular vote on this. Congress wouldn’t vote on this. He had his new custom-built Supreme Court. They’d vote on this.

Trump completed the Republican campaign to bypass the people:

Democrats were particularly enraged when then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked President Barack Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016, then pushed through Barrett’s confirmation shortly before the 2020 election.

And now poor Joe is at a loss:

President Biden, a Catholic who does not speak often about abortion publicly, continued his cautious approach of saying relatively little, leaving questions about how much he will use his platform to boost the party’s efforts.

“I didn’t see any of the debate today,” said Biden, when asked by a reporter about his reaction to the Supreme Court argument. “And I support Roe v. Wade. I think it’s a rational position to take, and I continue to support it.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had “quite a busy schedule” and would be briefed by his team on the hearing. Biden believes “the Mississippi law blatantly violates women’s constitutional rights to safe and legal abortions” and is “committed to working with Congress to codify the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion,” Psaki said.

He knows this is lost:

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), running to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), fired off at least four tweets on abortion Wednesday, warning that justices “should be extremely careful not to submit to political forces by overturning five decades of established law which protects American women.”

The DSCC, the campaign arm of Senate Democrats, issued a statement drawing attention to the hearing.

“A woman’s right to make our own health care choices will be a defining issue in the 2022 midterms, and for voters it will reinforce the stakes of protecting and expanding our Democratic Senate Majority with the power to confirm or reject Supreme Court justices,” said spokeswoman Jazmin Vargas.

In contrast, when asked whether the abortion issue could factor into his reelection bid next year, Rubio took a low-key approach, saying that “it’s never been a political issue to me.”

In short, what’s the fuss? This is no big deal:

Other Republicans emphasized that if the court does strike down Roe, each state would decide whether to outlaw it, meaning it would almost certainly remain legal in Democratic-leaning states.

“I think that there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what the Supreme Court may do and what its impact would be,” said Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), who has previously helmed the Senate Republican campaign arm. “Abortion is still going to be available in the United States, but it’s going to be decided on a state-by-state basis.”

Women in Texas or Mississippi can just buy a plane ticket and fly to California or New York for a few days, if they want an abortion. What’s the big deal? That would be this:

Democrats counter that this would still leave disadvantaged women in Republican-led states with few options.

Abortion rights advocates have argued that if the court strikes down Roe v. Wade, it would empower dozens of states to ban the procedure in all but the most limited of circumstances. Democrats eyeing local races seized on that threat Wednesday.

“We must invest in, organize, and elect Democrats to state legislatures where they can enshrine these and other fundamental rights,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee executive director Heather Williams in a statement. “The Supreme Court won’t save us, but Democratic state legislatures can.”

So this becomes a state-by-state battle. But the principles remain the same. Jennifer Rubin sees those principles this way:

As the Supreme Court considers the Mississippi abortion case, pro-choice advocates would do well to expose the fundamental dishonesty in the “pro-life” movement that it is about saving innocent life.

Set aside for a moment all the questions about personhood and the fact that many religious traditions do not recognize personhood at conception.

Instead, focus on the contention from antiabortion activists that a woman’s right to bodily integrity must be sacrificed for the sake of another. This is a rule that is applicable in no other situation.

In what other context is someone’s body, health and daily life commandeered to save another? No one would countenance a law that said a person who is a bone marrow or organ match is legally obligated to donate to another. There may be a moral imperative (if the person’s life and health would not be impacted), but we do not override an individual’s bodily integrity against his or her will even for noble purposes. We generally do not punish bystanders who refuse to come to the rescue of others in distress, especially when there is any risk to themselves.

So why this? Yes, many religious traditions do not recognize personhood at conception. Rubin is Jewish. She knows that. Only evangelical Christians hold the personhood begins at conception, at which point that microscopic little two-cell “person” has full legal and human and constitutional rights, that do trump any rights of the mother, the “vessel” in this case. That’s why they claim all abortion is murder, the murder of actual children, and so is all birth control. God intended that this particular sperm merge with that particular egg. God imagined a specific child. Your condom murdered that child, and so on,

But there’s more to this;

The motives behind the antiabortion movement become clear when one recognizes that even though abortion is legal, the incidence of abortion has dropped dramatically. Hence, permissive laws do not mean the procedure happens more often. If we want to reduce abortions, we arguably should be doing precisely what we have been doing over the past few decades.

Moreover, these same voices roundly reject the obligation of self-sacrifice for others’ health when the inconvenience is far more trivial than the emotional, physical and financial burden of a nine-month pregnancy. The “my body, my choice” slogan from anti-mask and anti-vaccine advocates is the most stunning example of their refusal to compel even minor inconveniences to save innocent life. They refuse to apply that same demand for bodily autonomy in the abortion context.

But wait, there’s more:

Likewise, the same right-wing advocates for criminalizing abortion reject any slight inconvenience for gun buyers, such as background checks, even if it might save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. Their Second Amendment rights trump everyone else’s safety. The only ones denied the right of self-determination are pregnant women.

Indeed, in no other context does “innocent life” eviscerate all other liberties and interests. They demand we keep stores open to sustain the economy, even if doing so imperils others. They blithely vote to chop Medicaid funding in the name of fiscal sobriety (even though they are happy to support tax cuts for the wealthy), making lifesaving addiction treatment more difficult to access. And they routinely oppose environmental regulations – economic freedom! – to restrict pollutants that threaten the health and lives of others.

So most of this pro-life stuff is bullshit:

A free society must allow a realm of personal freedom and a sphere of personal autonomy. We recognize the unacceptable price of overriding that zone of personal integrity in certain intimate matters. We dare not give government the right to override bodily integrity even for very good reasons.

The Supreme Court may well uproot decades of precedent on abortion rights. State legislatures may follow with abortion bans. But let us not pretend this is about the noble principle of “saving innocent life.”

This is about denying women in particular the power to decide whether to undergo a substantial physical, hormonal, emotional and financial obligation for nine months. Until we are ready to demand commensurate obligations for all Americans in a host of other contexts and severely limit their personal autonomy (at great personal inconvenience and cost), we should be honest enough to recognize this is about controlling women, not about innocent life.

And then Rubin gets specific:

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said it better than any of the court’s external critics. “Will this institution survive the stench this creates in the public perception, that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” she asked during oral arguments on Mississippi’s abortion law on Wednesday. “If people believe this is all politics, how will we survive? How will this court survive?”

She was referring to the apparent willingness of the court to overthrow precedent simply because its membership changed. (The usual reasons for overriding precedent – such as new facts or an evolving social consensus – do not apply in this case.) As the solicitor general and the counsel for the Center of Reproductive Rights argued, this is the first time in history that the court will rip up decades of precedent to take away a fundamental personal right.

I trust Sotomayor’s query was rhetorical; the court will remain in its august building. But should it repudiate abortion rights, any pretense that it is above politics will vanish, in no small part a result of the blatant partisan agenda and intellectually pathetic arguments displayed on Wednesday.

Intellectually pathetic arguments? Yep:

Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who apparently snookered Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) into believing he considered abortion precedent “settled,” made the most disingenuous argument of the morning. Why can’t the court just be “neutral” on abortion, he asked. Some states would still allow abortion, right?

This is not how constitutional law works. The court is not “neutral” on the First Amendment or the Second or the 14th. It is there to uphold rights against political branches seeking to intrude upon – if not destroy – individual liberties. In declaring itself “neutral,” the court would be denying the right to an abortion affixed to nearly 50 years of precedent.

And there was this:

In terms of sheer frightfulness, nothing quite topped Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who repeatedly asked why the whole problem was not solved by the fact that women could just give up their child at the conclusion of their pregnancy. In other words, women can be forced to complete a pregnancy against their will, in violation of the 14th Amendment, because they do not have to keep the child.

This, of course, misunderstands the entire issue: It is about whether the government can violate a woman’s bodily autonomy, something we would not dream of doing in other contexts. Why do we not force people to give up kidneys for organ donation, given that at the end of the procedure, they will – probably – return to full health?

But wait, there’s more:

She was outdone in the realm of theocratic arrogance only by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who repeatedly referred to the interests and rights of a fetus. Where did that come from? Certainly not the Constitution, which speaks of “persons.” The notion that a fetus is a person is not shared by all faith traditions. Those who have accused right-wing justices of seeking to impose one strain of Christian doctrine on the rest of the country sadly have been proved correct.

And there was this:

Anyone counting on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to be the voice of restraint was sadly mistaken. In the guise of finding a way to overrule nearly 50 years of precedent without explicitly doing so, he asked the litigants why we couldn’t make the dividing line (after which the state can prohibit abortion) at 15 weeks rather than at viability? Well, then, what’s wrong, with 10 weeks, or six weeks?

The chief justice proposes to remove the only fixed and clear demarcation point for abortion rights, thereby inviting states to outlaw the vast number of abortions.

Rubin offers more, but it all comes down to this:

We are, in short, on the verge of a constitutional and political tsunami. What was settled, predictable law on which millions of people relied will likely be tossed aside. The blowback likely will be ferocious. It may not be what Republicans intended. But it is coming.

This will not end well. American women may have to take back their country. It is their country s too, isn’t it? They can still vote, for now.

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Wasting Neurons

Kevin Drum has been doing sensible political commentary for decades, as one of the first bloggers and then doing that for the websites of major magazines, and now back on his own again, just for the fun of it. Perhaps he’s seen too much. He wants to stop the nonsense:

There are a few Republican members of Congress who have no particular power and exist solely to say outrageous things that will get them a hit on Fox News. Off the top of my head, they are Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Marsha Blackburn and Madison Cawthorn.

That’s the source of the nonsense:

These are not mere idiots, like Ron Johnson or Louie Gohmert. They are bomb throwers who say idiotic stuff as part of a conscious plan to get themselves attention.

Nor are they influential members of Congress, like Kevin McCarthy or Jim Jordan, that we have to pay attention to because they have institutional power.

So I propose that we all boycott them. Just stop mentioning them. Don’t waste neurons highlighting their latest outrageous utterance. Allow them to fester in the fever swamps of the right.

That’s not a bad idea, but that’s not how things work. Nonsense is fascinating. Nasty nonsense is even more fascinating. That’s because nasty nonsense is rather dangerous. It’s time to waste a few neurons on this. This stuff is too dangerous.

The Washington Post reviews the situation:

House Republican leaders are facing calls to condemn Islamophobic remarks by members of their conference, amid mounting concern that their silence is enabling extremist rhetoric that contributes to bigotry and potential threats of violence toward Muslims.

At a Capitol news conference Tuesday, all three Muslim lawmakers currently serving in the House – Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and André Carson (Ind.) – urged Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to make clear that such attacks will not be tolerated within his party’s ranks.

“We cannot pretend that this hate speech from leading politicians doesn’t have real consequences,” said Omar, who recently introduced a bill to monitor and combat Islamophobia globally.

Ilhan Omar then got specific:

She played a threatening voice mail that she said she received the previous day, after Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) accused her of “anti-American and anti-Semitic” rhetoric in a video posted on social media.

“I myself have reported hundreds of threats on my life, often triggered by Republican attacks on my faith,” Omar said. “And this week, once again, we saw another increase.”

They’re just death threats from angry White Christian Republicans. Expressing anger is protected free speech. Death threats are not. But of course these callers weren’t serious. They were just expressing anger. But one of them might be serious. Which one? No one knows. That is unsettling. But this had to happen:

The embrace of Islamophobic rhetoric on the right is not new. In 2015, then-candidate Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and after winning the White House, Trump quickly acted on that promise by instituting a ban targeting foreign nationals from several Muslim-majority countries.

We don’t want Muslims here. They hate us. That is what Trump said. Had he said No Jews Allowed Ever – a kind of late-thirties German thing – he would have been shunned by everyone but the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters and David Duke. But he said Muslims, not Jews. Perhaps, through carelessness, Hitler had picked the wrong target-religion. But the idea was the same. There is a totally evil religion out there. Keep it out there. And get rid of it in here. Hitler said hate the Jews. He had the right idea, just the wrong religion. Trump was walking down that path.

Now he’s gone, but that hardly matters:

Even after Trump’s departure from the White House, the use of anti-Muslim language among some Republican lawmakers has grown, with recent statements by Boebert and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) among the latest examples.

Both lawmakers have referred to Omar as a member of the “Jihad Squad.” Boebert has repeatedly told a story in which she likened Omar to a suicide bomber, while Greene on Tuesday described the Minnesota Democrat as “bloodthirsty,” “pro-al Qaeda” and “basically an apologist for Islamic terrorists.”

Both are walking down that same path:

Robert McCaw, director of government affairs for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, denounced the attacks on Omar and said that rooting out Islamophobia within their party’s ranks should be an “urgent priority” for Republican leaders.

“The rhetoric in these anti-Muslim sneers being targeted at Congresswoman Omar is not new, and we have heard it for the past several years, since the election of the first Muslim member of Congress, Keith Ellison,” McCaw said. “House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy needs to publicly, once and for all, make it clear that the GOP does not welcome anti-Muslim rhetoric, especially before the 2022 midterm elections. Anti-Muslim hatred cannot be a Republican Party talking point.”

It’s far too late for that. This may be the main Republican talking point now, but even some Jews. remembering their history and ours, are worried:

The civil rights group Muslim Advocates and the liberal Jewish group Bend the Arc: Jewish Action on Tuesday urged the House Ethics Committee to investigate Boebert over her “virulent, anti-Muslim” remarks, which they said had created a “dangerous environment,” particularly in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

What? They’re not going to the ovens. But what do you do with someone who won’t say the Israel is perfect in everything it does? That’s one problem here:

Republicans have long been critical of Omar for her criticisms of Israel, and members of both parties have denounced some of her statements as anti-Semitic. In 2019, House Democratic leaders swiftly condemned Omar’s suggestion that Israel’s allies in American politics were motivated by money rather than principle; Omar apologized later that day.

But the attacks on Omar have intensified in recent years, going far beyond criticism of her policy positions and often suggesting that she is a threat because she is Muslim, while also distorting her words and baselessly claiming that she supports terrorists.

At an event in her Colorado district last week, Boebert told supporters that an encounter with Omar was “not my first Jihad Squad Moment.” Boebert also shared a story in which she once rode a Capitol elevator with Omar and remarked to a Capitol Police officer: “Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine.”

Omar said the story was “made up” and called for Boebert to be disciplined by House leaders.

It was, but Omar had once actually criticized Israel. Boebert simply connected the dots. And then things got weird:

Boebert sent a tweet Friday in which she apologized “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar.” But in a phone call with Omar on Monday, Boebert refused to publicly apologize and instead accused the Minnesota Democrat of “anti-American and anti-Semitic” rhetoric, prompting Omar to end the call.

Omar hung up on her. There was new evidence. Boebert told a similar story at an event in September, according to a video reported by CNN on Tuesday.

And then there’s the useless House minority leader:

Kevin McCarthy has not publicly commented on Boebert’s recent Islamophobic remarks about Omar. In response to questions Tuesday about Republican leaders’ silence on the matter, McCarthy’s spokesman, Matt Sparks, said that Boebert had apologized.

Spokesmen for House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.) did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Greene, meanwhile, has already been removed from her House committee assignments over her embrace of extremist beliefs. But that move was led by House Democrats, after McCarthy and other top Republicans refused to do so.

That has given Greene what everyone has to assume is full authority to speak for all Republicans:

During an appearance Tuesday on former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, Greene defended Boebert and said she did not owe Omar an apology.

Greene went on to make further Islamophobic attacks against Omar.

“She hates Israel,” Greene said of the Minnesota Democrat. “She’s pro-Hamas. She’s pro-al-Qaeda. She’s basically an apologist for Islamic terrorists. There is no need to apologize to that woman because she will never stop. She’s bloodthirsty. She wants Republicans completely taken out. She wants Republicans jailed. She does not care about our country. She’s anti-American.”

She added: “It’s never enough for Ilhan Omar. It’s never enough for the Jihad Squad. Nothing is good enough for them. No one could bow deep enough for them to be satisfied because they want all of us gone.”

This is close to what Greene says of the Black Lives Matter movement. Those people have on two aims. First, kills all the cops. Then kill all the White people. So it’s time to fight back:

As a House candidate in 2020, Greene posted on Facebook an image of herself holding a rifle with photos of Omar and two other liberal congresswomen of color and vowed to “go on the offense” against members of the “Squad.”

That a message to one of the unhinged out there. Save the country. Kill these people. Trump will pardon you. Kevin McCarthy approved this message.

Now add another traitor to the mix:

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) condemned Boebert’s anti-Muslim remarks and soon faced a barrage of criticism on social media from Greene, who called her “trash” and accused her of being a “RINO,” or “Republican in name only.”

After a day of tweets sent back and forth, Mace told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday night: “All I can say about Marjorie Taylor Greene is bless her… heart.”

Maybe the Democrats will have to end this:

It remains unclear whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will seek to take action to censure Boebert or further punish Greene.

At their weekly meeting Tuesday night, House Democratic leaders discussed a possible resolution condemning Islamophobia but didn’t make any decisions, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private gathering.

In an exchange with reporters earlier Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said there was yet to be a “significant” discussion on whether to punish Boebert but that there is a possibility, given the congresswoman’s ongoing “toxic” rhetoric.

But that’s not enough:

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) on Tuesday afternoon suggested that McCarthy himself should step down over his handling of the issue.

“The GOP is a serial-offending, malicious anti-Muslim party,” Swalwell said in a tweet. “@GOPLeader McCarthy’s silence is a permission slip for his members to keep assaulting the Muslim community. His green-lighting this will lead to violence. He must resign.”

Trump weighed in, as well, issuing a statement in which he falsely accused Omar of “wishing death to Israel” and of “essentially abandoning her former country, which doesn’t even have a government – Exactly what she’d like to see for the United States!”

This will not end well, and then there’s this:

The heightened Islamophobic rhetoric comes at a time when many Republicans are also speaking out against Afghan refugees coming to the United States after President Biden ended the country’s military presence there.

A Quinnipiac poll in September found 60 percent of Americans supportive of accepting Afghan refugees into the United States and 32 percent opposed.

Nearly two-thirds of Republicans – 62 percent – said they were opposed to accepting Afghan refugees into the United States, while 30 percent were in support. That compared with 87 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents who supported accepting Afghan refugees.

But there was one exception to all this:

Overall support for accepting refugees increased to 83 percent if the potential refugee was an Afghan national who assisted the United States during the war. Seventy-one percent of Republicans supported accepting Afghan refugees if they assisted the United States, along with 84 percent of independents and 91 percent of Democrats.

Those folks proved themselves worthy. There rest of those starving homeless (Muslim) people can just go die elsewhere.

Is that the Republican position? Politico’s Olivia Beavers discusses that:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tried – without success – Tuesday night to end an ugly battle between two of his GOP freshmen.

The California Republican implored Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), in separate private meetings, to stop attacking one another after their back-and-forth online spat dragged on for hours earlier Tuesday.

They blew him off:

After speaking with the GOP leader, Greene said she told McCarthy that she would quit attacking Mace. But as she was leaving the meeting, Greene suggested to CNN that she was interested in seeing Nancy Mace get a Republican primary challenger, something former President Donald Trump has called for.

Mace, after meeting with McCarthy, also didn’t back down after being asked about Greene’s primary challenger comments.

“All I can say about Marjorie Taylor Greene is bless her fucking heart,” Mace told reporters.

Ah, that was the missing word! Greene will sic her daddy on Mace. Mace laughed in her face

Mace didn’t put down her boxing gloves, either. Mace later called Greene a “a No. 1 grifter,” someone who has “nothing going on in her life,” and someone who “takes advantage of vulnerable Americans and vulnerable conservatives” to a group of reporters on the Capitol steps.

Kevin McCarthy can’t fix this:

Mace and Greene have thrown public punches at one another before, but this latest melee erupted after Mace condemned fellow freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) over her anti-Muslim remarks, including calling Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) a member of the “Jihad squad.”

When asked about Boebert’s comments, Mace told CNN on Sunday that she has previously condemned colleagues on “both sides of the aisle for racist tropes and remarks that I find disgusting – and this is no different than any others.”

Greene then took to Twitter telling Mace to “back up off” Boebert and suggesting that she can go hang with the “Jihad squad.” After that, the two women issued various tweets going after one another.

McCarthy is stuck now. He can do nothing:

McCarthy has already faced a series of controversies with his GOP members, each time distracting from GOP efforts turn up the heat on Democrats and the Biden administration as they seek to reclaim the majority next year.

It also further illustrates McCarthy’s balancing act as he seeks to also win the speaker’s gavel: trying to keep the pro-Trump wing of the party and the faction of Republicans who want to head in a new direction – two incompatible wings of the party – unified.

He can’t do the impossible, and the CNN analysis of the situation illustrates that:

The dust-up is the latest in series of ugly intraparty spats, including a move to punish the 13 House Republicans who voted for the new infrastructure law, such as New York Rep. John Katko, one of the most vulnerable Republicans in his chamber, whom Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz had said “stabbed” Republicans in the back – a comment echoed by a number of other conservatives. Katko was also one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the insurrection at the US Capitol last January.

Returning to session Tuesday after the Thanksgiving recess, senior Republicans said the focus of their party must change immediately in order to capitalize on the major advantages they currently enjoy in the fight for the House majority next year. If not, they said, self-inflicted wounds could give Democrats an improbable victory.

“Yeah, I do,” Rep. Fred Upton, a veteran Michigan Republican, said when asked whether he thought the most recent eruption over Boebert and Greene hurts their chances at taking back the majority. “It’s uncalled for.”

Upton added: “It’s tit for tat. Where’s the shovel? This needs to end.”

Stop being happy about generating all the death threats to other party members for voting for roads and bridges, and all the other death threats too. And stop the nasty infighting:

“Have you ever seen a team where they should be winning, and you’ll just look on the sidelines and then coach is yelling at a player, players yell at the coach and it doesn’t show they’re on track to win,” said Rep. Brett Guthrie, a Kentucky Republican. “Anytime we’re not focusing on what they’re doing and what we want to do, I think it’s not a good thing.”

But there no one around to stop any of this:

The aggressive attacks against fellow Republicans have come from Trump’s most loyal supporters, putting McCarthy in an awkward spot as he tries to stay in the good graces of the former President while also trying to focus his party to stay unified against President Joe Biden’s sweeping agenda.

That dynamic was in full display earlier in November when another member of the hard-right faction, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, tweeted an animated video where he acted violently toward Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Biden himself. That earned him a rare censure from the House, which also stripped him of his committee assignments. But McCarthy chose to deal with Gosar privately – and rallied his conference to reject the efforts by Democrats to punish him.

The short stabbing animation was instructive in a way. Someone will be amused, and then inspired. Sooner or later someone will stab Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to death. Trump and the base will cheer. But who else will cheer?

There are some Republicans who are worried about that:

Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the GOP whip, who could be the majority leader next Congress, told CNN that it’s time for House Republicans to refocus on issues – something he said would be a focus of a Wednesday meeting with his full conference.

“Inflation crisis, border crisis, energy crisis, confidence crisis and Joe Biden’s policies – that’s what the focus needs to be on, and how we can solve these problems that they’ve created,” Scalise said. “Everybody’s been away for Thanksgiving. And now that we’re back, we’ve got to get back focused on the things that matter to families back home.”

But who is going to listen to him? The nasty nonsense is far more interesting, and paying attention to it is not wasting neurons. Someone is going to get killed. And then all hell breaks loose.

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