In an extraordinary bow to former President Trump, House Republicans voted Wednesday to purge GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney from her leadership post, punishing the conservative Wyoming Republican for daring to refute Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
The decision was made by voice vote, meaning there will be no tally of the lawmakers who voted to dump Cheney, or of those who wanted her to stay on. Sources inside the closed-door vote said it was an overwhelming vote against Cheney. Some guessed the split was three to one.
That represents a remarkable shift from a similar challenge to her leadership status in February, when she won handily. And it marked the first time in recent memory that a congressional GOP leader was toppled by rank-and-file Republicans in the middle of their term through a formal vote.
Trump was not on Wednesday’s ballot, but he was the elephant in the room as Cheney’s colleagues voted to condemn her for what has become an unpardonable sin in today’s Republican Party: calling out the former president for his repeated falsehoods about his election defeat.
“You can't have a conference chair who recites Democrat talking points,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), former head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a close Trump ally, said after the vote.
Yet not all conservatives agreed.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), another Freedom Caucus member, was a rare conservative supporting Cheney. A sharp critic of "cancel culture," Buck warned after the vote that Republicans likely alienated voters who agree with Cheney's criticisms of Trump — or at least her right to air them from a position of leadership.
"Liz didn't agree with President Trump's narrative and she was cancelled," Buck said. "We have to deal with this narrative at some point. There are major issues — the border, spending — there are major issues. But to suggest that the American people in 2022 won't consider the fact that we were unwilling to stand up to a narrative that the election was stolen, I think will be taken into consideration with their vote."
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
The Trump party just collected apostate Rep. Liz Cheney's head, removing her from the House GOP leadership in an unceremonious voice vote this morning.
It's all about Trump now.
Anyone who doesn't bow down to him will be removed.
Anyone remaining in the party is okay with that.
Keep that fact in mind.
Over a hundred retired US military generals and admirals signed on to The Big Lie this week, and the Pentagon and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin now have to confront the fact that our armed forces have long been a breeding ground for white supremacist insurrectionists with the training and knowledge to do real violence, and that the rot obviously goes way up the chain of command.
A day after 124 retired generals and admirals released a letter spreading the lie that President Joe Biden stole the election, current and former military officers are speaking out, calling the missive a dangerous new sign of the military being dragged into the trenches of partisan warfare.
The open letter on Monday from a group calling itself Flag Officers 4 America advanced the false conspiracy theory that the presidential vote was rigged in Biden's favor and warned that the nation is "in deep peril" from "a full-blown assault on our Constitutional rights."
“Under a Democrat Congress and the Current Administration,” they wrote, “our Country has taken a hard left turn toward Socialism and a Marxist form of tyrannical government which must be countered now by electing congressional and presidential candidates who will always act to defend our Constitutional Republic.”
The broadside also raises questions about “the mental and physical condition of the Commander in Chief" and sounds the alarm about a host of hot-button issues, such as the border wall. It goes on to accuse congressional leaders of "using the U.S. military as political pawns with thousands of troops deployed around the U.S. Capitol Building."
The group's website claims that "we are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776."
As news of the letter spread, it set off a round of recriminations among current and former military members. One serving Navy officer, who did not want to be identified publicly, called it "disturbing and reckless."
Jim Golby, an expert in civil-military relations, called it a "shameful effort to use their rank and the military's reputation for such a gross and blatant partisan attack," while a retired Air Force colonel who teaches cadets at the Air Force Academy, Marybeth Ulrich, labeled it "anti-democratic."
"I think it hurts the military and by extension it hurts the country," said retired Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, describing it as replete with "right-wing Republican talking points."
The talking points in the letter fall generally in line with die-hard loyalists in Trump's orbit, who question the results of the election despite the fact that the courts and Trump's own Justice Department said there was no reason to declare him the winner.
Several experts said it reminded them of the current crisis in civil-military relations in France, where dozens of retired generals were recently sanctioned after warning in an open letter in a right-wing magazine of civil war for the "protection of our civilisational values."
That letter was followed up by an anonymous one from current officers calling French politicians cowards for not dealing with the Muslim population, sparking calls for a purge of the ranks. The controversy has undermined public confidence in the French military and recalled the bitter feuds between the brass and elected officials during the early years of the Cold War.
The American letter was striking for several reasons. It is not unusual for retired officers to take sides in electoral politics and endorse candidates. But its fiery, even angry, language and conspiracy-mongering struck multiple long-time observers as particularly out of bounds and dangerous. Coming outside the campaign season was also seen as rare if not unprecedented.
This is a not-so-subtle reminder that if there are scores of flag officers willing to embrace the Big Lie, there are thousands of members of the Armed Forces who feel the same, and the letter all but calls President Biden unfit for command. The implication that current and former military personnel should ignore his commands and consider "righting this wrong" of his election are absolutely frightening.
The Pentagon ignores this at our peril. The potential for real, devastating violence is the highest it's been in generations.
It's far from over.
I have to admit that Americans are very good at self-fulfilling prophecies of stupidity, I've been writing about that for going on 13 years now.
A growing number of gas stations along the East Coast are without fuel as nervous drivers aggressively fill up their tanks following a ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline, a critical artery for gasoline. The panic-buying threatens to exacerbate the supply shock.
As of 4 pm ET Tuesday, 8.5% of gas stations in North Carolina and 7.7% in Virginia didn't have gasoline, according to outage figures reported by GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices and demand. The Virginia figure was flat from 11 am ET, while North Carolina was up from 5.8% previously.
Rising outages are also being reported at gas stations in Georgia (5.8%), Florida (2.8%) and South Carolina (3.5%), according to GasBuddy, which collects user reports and shares the information with the government during emergencies.
"Panicked buying" is "running stations in the region dry," Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNN Business.
He warned that the "irrational behavior" could prolong supply issues "for weeks."
Tiffany Wright of AAA Carolinas criticized what she described as "irresponsible behavior at the pump."
"People are taking their entire family fleet of vehicles to the gas station and filing up when they don't need to," Wright told CNN's Dianne Gallagher. "We are our own worst enemy in this situation because we are over-consuming at the pump."
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm pleaded with Americans not to hoard gas as the pipeline attempts to resume operations.
"Let me emphasize that much as there was no cause for say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline," Granholm said during Tuesday's White House press briefing, "especially in light of the fact that the pipeline should be substantially operational by the end of this week and over the weekend."
Demand for information on gasoline availability is so intense that GasBuddy itself experienced outages. De Haan told CNN the platform is experiencing "slowdowns" because of "extreme traffic," so users may experience "periodic timeouts" on its website and app.
US gasoline demand jumped 20% on Monday compared with the prior week, according to GasBuddy.
In just five states served by Colonial Pipeline — Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia -- demand was up by a collective 40.1%, GasBuddy said.
"I got scared that I could not go to work or take my daughters to school," Florida resident Linderly Bedoya told CNN on Tuesday. "All the gas stations in my area were without gas and when I finally found one I had to stay an hour in line and I had to fill up with the premium unleaded."
So if you're a Republican governor, and you want to hurt this administration, what do you do? You declare a state of emergency, which immediately makes demand and shortages even worse.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency due to the Colonial Pipeline shutdown on Saturday, May 7.
According to the executive order, on May 7, Colonial Pipeline, a major US fuel pipeline operator, was the target of a cyberattack that disabled certain computer systems responsible for sustaining pipeline operations.
As a result of the incident, Colonial Pipeline was forced to temporarily halt pipeline operations in order to contain the attack.
Colonial Pipeline is responsible for transporting a "substantial percentage" of fuel on the East Coast of the United States, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum products, the executive order stated.
The closure of the pipeline poses a severe threat to the State of Florida and Gov. DeSantis said this requires immediate resources be taken to protect the continued delivery of fuel products to the state, the executive order read.
The executive order is to expire in 30 days from Tuesday, May 11, unless Gov. DeSantis extends it.
So now Florida is free from all commercial driving regulations for as long as DeSantis wants it, and shortages will sure make energy companies and GOP donors a shitload of money, while he sits back and blames Biden.
Bonus: He gets political cover for doing this from Virginia's Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who also declared a state of emergency making everything worse.
You can bet that DeSantis will be playing news footage of long gas lines whenever he needs to do so, and I have to admit, he's crafty as well as evil.
Remember when I said the real threat was Trump, only without the baggage?
- Colombian activist Lucas Villa was declared brain dead Monday night, almost a week after he was shot eight times at a peaceful protest by unknown gunmen.
- Arizona GOP Gov. Doug Ducey has signed into law the state's voter suppression bill, purging 140,000 voters from the rolls and making voter registration more difficult.
- Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis says she will seek the death penalty for the Atlanta suspect accused of shooting eight people at various spas, charging the suspect with anti-Asian hate crimes.
- President Biden is expected to nominate former Chicago Mayor and Obama WH Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as America's Ambassador to Japan.
- The country's largest planned wind turbine power farm has finally cleared regulatory hurdles and has received final approval to be built off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.