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GOP Stupid Venality / Venal Stupidity Open Thread: As Above, So Below

Both Steve ‘Pigmuck’ King and Louie ‘Dumbest Dude in Congress’ Gohmert are quite silly enough to have called this hearing out of genuine confusion about Facebook’s filtering protocols, or in sympathy with the “rights” of a couple of African-American Trump supporters to monetize the How-Can-He-Be-A-Racist-When-He-Has-Black-Friends market, if only they’d been able to keep a straight face…

(Spoiler: Diamond & Silk were not “censored”, although it’s an open question whether or not they understand that.)
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Him Too?

Looks like Rear Admiral Doctor Ronny Jackson may have erred in inviting the kind of scrutiny no mere physician to the powerful usually encounters:

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee are raising concerns about allegations involving Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the department of Veterans Affairs and are reviewing them to determine if they are substantial enough to upend his nomination.

Committee members have been told about allegations related to improper conduct in various stages of his career, two sources said.

No further details are out yet, beyond the characterization that these are “some fairly raw allegations,” as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) put it.  Pure speculation here, but to my ears this has the ring of #MeToo about it.*

This is clearly not what R. Adm. Jackson anticipated when he too the fatal step of accepting anything from Donald Trump.

No sympathy for him: he did what he did, and he willing chose to pursue a post for which he was clearly ill-placed to fill.   Any sane person would realize the move would bring his conduct under scrutiny.  If bad things are about to rain down on him…well, welcome to the major leagues, son.

But it is also a reminder: Trump diminishes every single person who touches him.

Open Thread.

*Update: It appears it may be workplace issues other than sexual harassment. Memo-to-self: when you don’t know, you don’t know.

Image: Hans Holbein, Henry VIII and the Barber-Surgeons c. 1543 with later alterations.

Just When You Thought They Couldn’t Get Skeevier…

My son, for reasons known best to himself, has taken to watching old Jon Stewart clips, and this morning he was watching a long one, a sit down between Steward and Bill O’Reilly.

Stewart comes off as the smarter, more moral one in the particular bit I saw, but I told my kid I still hated the whole premise.  Stewart was normalizing a monster — even giving him a little bit of his own thoughtfulness as cover.  It wasn’t news back then that O’Reilly was a stone racist and a grotesque boss, a harassing womanizer dragging a tail of NDAs behind him.

But while I watched a true PGO came to me: the GOP obviously has no monopoly on men who are assholes to women, but it does seem to have more than its share, or rather the share you’d expect, given both specific ideology* , and the broader authoritarianism that both depends on and breeds the certainty that to be white and male is to have the right to f**k — and f**k with — the women who are their due.

Hence Porter and Farenthold and Moore and a magazine writer who thinks mere lethal injection is too good for the wanton harlots who choose to have an abortion — and the male-led magazine that thought such views were “provocative” — until it became clear just how provoked the intended gallows-bound (and their friends) had become.  And of course, hence the omphalos of modern Republican moral degeneracy, the Shitgibbon himself.

But I have to say, the latest entrant into the GOP-Sleazebag sweepstakes actually managed to surprise even my jaded self.  Meet Mr. Benjamin Sparks:

A Las Vegas political adviser who worked on national campaigns and high-profile Nevada races sexually enslaved and battered his ex-fiancée before police responded to a domestic dispute, the woman told the Review-Journal.

The 46-year-old woman provided copies of emails, text messages and a signed contract laying out her duties as a “slave in training” to Benjamin Sparks.

Sparks isn’t some small-time local operative.  He was a 2012 Romney spokesperson, and worked for Goggle-Eyed Homunculus Scott Walker during the recall campaign.  And he really, really doesn’t like the idea of female autonomy:

According to emails, documents and text messages obtained by the Review-Journal, Sparks and his ex-fiancée signed a five-page contract stating that she would be his “slave and property.”…

Her specified duties were what you might expect, given that starting point and then escalated to the point of rupture. (Go to the link if you want the details.)

“Slave and property.” Dwell on that phrase.  I’ll wait.

Not All Republicans would be a true statement.  But too much Republican rhetoric, policy and conviction rests on a view of women that taken to pathological extremes, ends with Benjamin Sparks putting down on paper his belief that a woman could be chattel.

There are all kinds of reasons these shandes and goniffs need to get their asses handed to them this November. This is one. A big one.

Open this thread can be.

ETA: Several commenters have pointed out that consensual relations between adults aren’t the problem, and they’re right (as always, IMHO). The issue here for me is the way Sparks took what appears to have been one stage of initial consent and translated that into a one-off permission that gave him the right actually to treat his partner as property.

*Anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-non-discriminatory-treatment in work and society politics that are all underpinned by the conviction that women can’t be allowed to have full agency over their own bodies and their own decisions.

Image: J. Collier, Three grotesque old men with awful teeth pointing and grimacing at each other, 1810. (Via Wellcome Images.)

Late Night Repub Stupidity/Venality Open Thread: Folding His Tents Ducky Pajamas

Corpus Christi Republican Blake Farenthold abruptly resigned from Congress Friday afternoon, less than four months after dropping re-election plans under siege for crude and verbally abusive office behavior…

He made no mention on Friday of any of the allegations that ended his congressional career, and made no apologies for using $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment suit.

He promised to repay those funds four months ago, but has not done so…

Texas is seeing enormous turnover in its congressional delegation this year.

Out of 36 House members, eight announced plans to retire in the last few months. Farenthold is the first to actually leave office…

More granular detail about the upcoming primaries at the link.

ETA: Title reference, from (Republican) Charlie Sykes…

2018 Elections Open Thread: Another Senate Seat Up for Grabs

This cannot be regarded as a real surprise, since Politico was willing to say Cochran was “frail and disoriented… needed a staffer to remind him where the Senate chamber is located” all the way back in October. But it is a disruption, especially to the GOP. Per the Washington Post:

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) will resign from the Senate on April 1, he announced Monday, ending a four-decade congressional career and triggering a fall election that could carve new divisions in the Republican Party and put the GOP Senate majority at greater risk.

Cochran, 80, has been suffering from health problems in recent months. He missed several weeks in the Senate last fall while recuperating from a urinary tract infection. He has appeared frail since his return and has been keeping a low public profile.

“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” Cochran said in a statement. “I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle, after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate.”

First elected to the Senate in 1978 after a stint in the House, Cochran is one of the longest-serving members of Congress in history. He is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a powerful panel with jurisdiction over government spending. When he steps down, the chairmanship is expected to pass to Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), who is next in the line of seniority…

Shelby, 83, went out of his way to vouch for his own health. “I’ve still got a lot of energy,” he said.

Beyond shaking up the Senate, Cochran’s exit will affect the battle for the Senate majority. It gives Republicans another seat to defend at a moment of great uncertainty about the midterms…

Unlike the regular election this year for Republican Sen. Roger Wicker’s seat, candidates for Cochran’s seat would not compete in a primary, and if no one got more than 50 percent of the vote in November, the top two finishers would compete in a runoff.

Chris McDaniel, a hard-right Republican state senator who lost to Cochran in a nasty 2014 primary, announced last week that he would run against Wicker. But he left the door open to switching to a race for Cochran’s seat if one were to take place…

McDaniel represents perhaps the last best hope for the insurgent wing of the GOP, in which former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and his allies have been plotting to shake up the Republican order by elevating candidates hostile to McConnell…

This is treating McDaniel’s history very, very delicately; CNN referred to his 2014 Cochran challenge as “the nation’s ugliest primary”, with cause. If you don’t think it can get worse than Roy Moore, well…