Rep. Gosar Gets GOP to Walk The Plank

Two Republicans refuse to defend his behavior, one is "present."

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From yours truly in this afternoon’s BULWARK, some thoughts on Paul Gosar being stripped of his committee assignments:

Twenty years ago, Traficant was a wacky outlier. Nowadays, with the great zeitgeisty maw of social media demanding constant feeding, many average, un-cool representatives and senators feel compelled to do zany things for attention. Think of the idiotic stunts—Ted Cruz’s bacon machine gun, anyone?—or of the ways that meme culture has spread on Capitol Hill.

Meme culture is particularly prevalent on the Republican side of the aisle. Maybe this can be chalked up to the base—memes have long been popular in conservative culture (think of the emails your aunt sent you during the 2008 election) or maybe it has to do with the joy that prominent right-leaning figures from Donald Trump on down take in trolling. Who needs stodgy, staid press releases when memes and “shitposting” are available instead?

So, what happened?

This afternoon, the House decided in a largely party-line vote to censure Gosar and strip him of his committee assignments. When Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was stripped of her committee assignments in February, she was a new member and so had no record of any committee work. But Gosar has been in Congress for a decade, and has served that whole time the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. The latter committee is fairly important for Gosar’s district, and booting him from it may have real consequences for him. A comparison better than MTG’s case is that of then-Rep. Steve King, who in 2019 was stripped of his committee assignments—including his spot on the Agriculture Committee, important to his state of Iowa—for  calling immigrants “dirt” and taking too friendly a view of white nationalism.

What was it that finally brought Gosar, long known for his inflammatory rhetoric, provocative memes, and conspiratorial antics, to the point of being censured by the House? He posted (and later deleted) what he called a “symbolic cartoon”—an anime video—that depicted violence against President Joe Biden and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who serves with him on Oversight and Government Reform.

Republicans, eager to put January 6th in the rearview mirror put on a theatrical show of whataboutism and process complaints to defend Gosar. I doubt most of them enjoyed doing it but leadership not only puts pressure on people to vote their way, but speak. It’s obvious if one side isn’t sending any people down to talk, which is why most people used the opportunity to slam President Biden instead of talking about Gosar.

Frankly, he should have been expelled right after 1/6. Like with previous acts of extreme behavior, Gosar and McCarthy got Republicans to walk the plank and defend him. Replete with an afternoon chock full of whataboutism and insincere complaints about process.

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The findings of the Mueller report have been overshadowed by the discrediting of the Steele dossier, but the Russia-Trump campaign ties were a real thing. Lawfare's David Priess joins Charlie Sykes on today's podcast.

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GABRIEL SCHOENFELD reviews Rep. Adam Schiff’s new book, Midnight in Washington.

Vilification is one of the primary weapons in Donald Trump’s political arsenal. Over the four years of the Trump presidency, perhaps no one was subjected to more of it than Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and—more pertinently—the lead manager of the House impeachment team during Trump’s first Senate trial. Indeed, Schiff’s name was almost never mentioned by the former president without the accompaniment of some juvenile taunt: “pencil neck,” “Shifty Schiff,” “Little Adam Schiff,” “crooked Adam Schiff,” and even “Adam Schitt.”

Of course, such crude appellations tell us far more about the appalling character of Donald Trump than anything else. But Trump is not alone. Surprisingly, even some ostensible anti-Trumpers have been furiously dumping on the congressman. To Eli Lake, Schiff is a “showman playing the role of statesman,” and for leveling various allegations against Trump that he could never prove, he’s “the boy who cried collusion.” To Jonah Goldberg, Schiff is a “dishonorable and dishonest hack” with a “gift for flinging hyperpartisan innuendo while seeming to be a studious and serious legislator.”

Is any of this right? Even if Schiff is not the villain of Trump’s nightmares, does he nonetheless deserve some of the incoming that has landed on his head?

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RICH THAU AND SUSIE PIEPER have a revealing and somewhat depressing item about how Americans don’t trust Facebook, but plan to keep using it.

Here’s what they found in their focus group:

What it boils down to is habit and convenience.

Benjamin, 32, from Michiana, Michigan, said, “I don’t agree with the things that Facebook has allegedly done, but I also don’t get on Facebook for news or for it to be a reliable source for literally anything. . . . So for that reason, I haven’t gotten rid of it. . . . I do think it’s wrong, but I’m a homebody, and I don’t like to leave my house, so it’s the only way for me to keep in contact with people. . . . I can just see their life from a different perspective, and I don’t have to interact with someone else.”

“I always knew Facebook and social media was a can of worms,” said Mark, 52, from Bayfield, Wisconsin. “Everything you put on there is there forever, and so I never used it for anything other than to communicate with family and friends like I would any other normal way.”

Laurel, 36, from Dunedin, Florida, was similarly nonplussed by the stories about Facebook’s problems: “There’s corruption all around us, and this was just brought to light from this whistleblower, and it sucks, it’s bad, I don’t condone it. But I like seeing my aunt in Hawaii, I like seeing my nieces grow up through Facebook, so I’m not going to stop using it.”

Two respondents did report changing their Facebook habits following the troubling news.

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Jesus wept… Our pal Matt Labash writes about how “Let’s Go Brandon” has made its way to churches, and how some of our brothers and sisters seem to be putting politics above faith.

The Vermont Country Store… If you want a flashback to the 80s or 90s, check this out.

Thanksgiving is coming up… Rep. Adam Kinzinger has this welcome reminder:

Meanwhile, in Florida… FL Gov Ron DeSantis’s controversial spokeswoman appears to outdo Marjorie Taylor-Greene in the crazy anti-Semitism department, as Jonathan Chait writes at Intelligencer:

One can easily predict that the next turn of this story will be that Pushaw and DeSantis angrily deny that her Rothschild conspiracy tweet had any anti-Semitic connotation. She will probably change the subject to DeSantis’s right-wing stance on Israel, which conservatives generally treat as a hall pass to engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric. But the larger point is that DeSantis is gleefully swimming in a sea of conspiracy nuts, and those conspiracy nuts are inevitably going to include a healthy share of anti-Semites.

Enjoy prison, QAnon Shaman… A worthwhile thread about the fate of the “QAnon Shaman” who was sentenced today to 41 months in prison. The “Shaman”, whose name is Jacob Chansley, hired Albert Watkins, who is a… colorful… attorney in Saint Louis, who represented the McCloskeys after their gun-toting adventure. (He also represented a company that went by “South Butt” in a lawsuit against outdoor retailer North Face. It did not work out.)

Insurrection can, and should have consequences. Even if one of them is you can’t see your family while awaiting trial, or getting 3+ years in prison.

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That’s it for me. We’ll see you tomorrow. Tech support questions? Email Questions for me? Respond to this email.


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