Tag: 2022 midterms
With Jellyfish McCarthy As 'Leader,' Republicans Prepare To Abandon Ukraine

With Jellyfish McCarthy As 'Leader,' Republicans Prepare To Abandon Ukraine

You don’t even need to live near the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans to know where the Republican Party is headed. All you have to do is look at the human jellyfish that is Kevin McCarthy – a quivering, flapping piece of protoplasm so transparently without a heart or a soul you can see right through him.

And yet, like the oceanic creature he resembles, McCarthy can sting. The innocents he is getting ready to lay low with what’s left of his power in the Republican Party are far, far away, suffering the steady bombardment of Russian artillery, missiles, and drones. Yes, Kevin McCarthy, that tower of democratic principle and dedication, is getting ready to abandon the Ukrainian people to the psychotic ravages of Vladimir Putin, who has decided he wants their land and whatever is left of their cities and infrastructure when he’s finished bombing them.

Politico reported yesterday that aides to President Joe Biden are pointing to an “internal rift” in the Republican Party over spending for Ukraine and are forecasting slippage of support for the war that is raging 4900 miles from their comfy offices on Capitol Hill. In fact, it has already happened. The only votes against the $40 billion aid package for Ukraine in the spring were cast by Republicans – 57 members of the House and 11 Senators opposed the aid package intended to help the beleaguered country fight back against the Russian invasion that was at that point only a couple of months old.

Conservative – or shall we say, radical – Republicans went out on the stump and said they were voting against aid to Ukraine because it wasn’t offset by cuts in domestic spending. They didn’t spell out what cuts they were thinking about in the spring, but they haven’t been as shy lately, popping right out of the closet and putting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid on the chopping block if they take over the House in 2023.

Republicans also made the case that money spent to defend our allies in Ukraine – and the rest of Europe if Putin’s slavering about a new Russian empire is to be believed – could be better spent to defend our southern border and bring down inflation, however the hell that’s supposed to work.

It's all about bashing Biden and the Democrats, of course, only this time they’re not using grade school textbooks on “sex” and scary trans kids. They’re getting ready to make a political issue out of the war in Ukraine. All those graves found in the forest outside of Izium and in fields outside Bucha? Tough luck, Ukrainian civilians. Republicans are more interested in cutting the budget and squawking about the “war” on our border than they are about the very real shooting war that’s killing Ukrainians overseas.

McCarthy told Punchbowl News on Tuesday that if Republicans take the House in November, aid to Ukraine isn’t going to be “a free blank check. I think people [Republican House members] are gonna be sitting in a recession and they're not going to write a blank check to Ukraine." While “Ukraine is important,” McCarthy told the Washington D.C. political website ($300 a year for a subscription), he went on to emphasize that Republicans have other priorities, including of course “the border” – read: all those brown people invading our cities and taking our jobs – and preventing women from controlling their reproductive health. Also, in for some serious cuts is funding for COVID research and even the vaccines and treatments which are currently free to Americans because the federal government is paying for them.

So elect Republicans, Kevin McCarthy told Punchbowl News, and watch the bodies pile up in Ukraine and right here at home as new variants of COVID send the death count way, way up.

The White House calculus is that Republican support for Ukraine won’t crater, because what will happen if Ukraine suffers losses on the battlefield and Russia “emerges triumphant?” Politico forecasts a “political blowback” against Republicans if that were to happen. But a quick look at recent history reveals that the MAGA-centric Republican Party doesn’t give much of a shit about blowback – see also: what happened after Roe was overturned. Oh, a few of them gave their anti-choice websites a quick bath, but just look around you. Republicans are happily running full speed ahead on their anti-woman, anti-immigrant, crime-crime-crime agenda. You think they’ll be shy about running on starving Ukrainians of weapons, ammo, food, and other supplies?

I’ve got a bridge to sell you…

Meanwhile, over in the country the Republican Party is getting ready to consign to the ash heap, Russian cruise missiles and kamikaze drones continue to fly, hitting towns and villages along the front lines in Eastern Ukraine and in the south near Kherson as well as the usual civilian targets in Kyiv and other major cities. With winter on the horizon, the Russians unveiled a new set of targets this week, too: power plants. A Russian cruise missile hit the Burshtyn coal-fired power station in the Ivano-Frankivsk region yesterday along with more missiles causing multiple explosions in Kyiv, Chernihiv and Vinnytsia, the Kyiv Independent reported this morning. President Volodymyr Zelensky announced yesterday that three powerplants in Ukraine were destroyed in the previous 24 hours.

On Tuesday, Zelensky told the Kyiv Independent that fully one-third of Ukrainian power plants had been destroyed by Russian missiles. Ukraine uses vulnerable thermal power plants to generate steam to heat homes and businesses, according to The New York Times.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports that Russia is preparing the ground for a false-flag attack on the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant near Kherson. Russian forces are under heavy attack from the Ukrainian army in the Kherson area. They have pulled back from multiple defensive positions recently and are beginning to "set conditions for Russian forces to damage the dam and then blame Ukraine while using the resulting floods to cover their own retreat further south into Kherson Oblast," the ISW reported this morning.

Meanwhile, an independent podcast out of Russia known as “Naked Pravda” is reporting that its sources, including someone who works inside the Russian FSB, or Federal Security Service, say that Russia’s “irrecoverable losses,” including soldiers killed, wounded, or gone AWOL, total 90,000 since the beginning of the war. That figure is close to a Pentagon estimate in August that Russia had lost 70-80,000 on the battlefield. The British Defense Ministry has also stated that Russian losses, including KIA’s and soldiers wounded badly enough they could not return to the battlefield, stand at about 80,000.

So that’s where things stand in Ukraine. Russia can’t win a single engagement on the battlefield. Their loses are going up so fast, Putin is sending young, barely trained recruits to take the place of seasoned soldiers who have been killed. And Putin has turned to terror-bombing Ukrainian civilians with cruise missiles and armed Iranian drones to make up for his inability to show any Russian gains in Ukraine.

With all of this going on in Ukraine, what are Republicans doing in this country? Why, they’re following the Jellyfish-In-Chief’s lead and laying the groundwork to turn the war in Ukraine into one of the top issues they’re going to hammer come the 2024 campaign – which will begin on November 9, the day the midterms are over, even before the outcomes are completely decided.

No sense in wasting any time consigning the citizens of Ukraine to the ravages of Donald Trump’s friend, Vladimir Putin, is there? Kevin McCarthy is out there leading the way. Could his hero, Donald Trump, be far behind?

Watch them turn the next fight over the debt ceiling into an excuse to hang the Ukrainian people out to dry. Four Republican members of the House, all of whom expressed interest in running the Budget Committee if their party takes over next year, told Bloomberg last week they will refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats come to heel on entitlement spending and other issues like the border.

They did not specifically mention support for Ukraine, but Republicans will do anything to win, anything, including causing a global financial meltdown while the bodies pile up in Ukraine.

Watch this space.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

Mastriano's Weirdness, Paranoia, And Prejudice Are Sinking His Campaign

Mastriano's Weirdness, Paranoia, And Prejudice Are Sinking His Campaign

You didn’t even have to be in the State of Pennsylvania to hear the sickening crunch of the slow-motion train wreck of Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano’s campaign at the state capital in Harrisburg on Saturday. Only a few dozen people showed up for a rally Mastriano held on the capitol steps, and many of them appeared to be campaign volunteers, according to the New York Times.

Mastriano doesn’t really seem to have a campaign, according to reports in newspapers and on local television news shows over the last six months. Nor does he hold regular campaign events like speeches to crowds of supporters [see also: Harrisburg rally] or local civic organizations. He doesn’t give interviews to the media, either. In fact, he travels with a coterie of thuggish aides and candidate handlers whose sole job seems to be keeping the media at bay. He does like to speak at churches, where the press is almost always kept outside the sanctuary and cannot hear what Mastriano tells the congregations. When he does appear in a public setting, as he did two weeks ago at a luncheon in Pittsburgh, the press was “barred entirely,” according to a report in Vanity Fair, which had a reporter there attempting to cover the Mastriano campaign, with little apparent success.

At another campaign event in Pittsburgh recently, journalists were told “not to engage with Doug or Rebbie [Mastriano’s wife] and were physically blocked by campaign members and supporters,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Philadelphia Inquirer put it this way in a recent report: “On the campaign trail with Mastriano, dissent is squelched. Questions are neither asked nor answered. Paranoia is rampant.” Mastriano assured his audience in Pittsburgh that when he is elected, “No longer will you have a governor reigning over you with terror and fear.”

You have to wonder what kind of fear the man is talking about, and who he’s afraid of.

Mastriano, who cultivates the reputation of a tough guy and is often photographed scowling at the camera when the media can get close enough, is a thick-chested former Army officer who served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and retired as a colonel while teaching at the Army War College in 2017.

At another campaign stop in Delaware County recently, a videographer hired by the Mastriano campaign threatened a woman attending the event who he heard utter the date, January 6. “What was the question that you shouted?” asked the videographer, who was wearing a “Project Veritas” hat and a Captain America T-shirt, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Did you make a statement?” The woman tried to explain that she was an innocent attendee: “I was just standing here,” she said. Interviewed by the Inquirer, the woman was “not a rabble-rouser, but a Mastriano loyalist. She was only saying that she saw him at the Capitol on the day of the insurrection — because she was there, too,” the paper reported.

Indeed, he was at the Capitol the day it was attacked on January 6. He wasn’t just an innocent bystander, either. Mastriano had paid for two busloads of people to travel to Washington with him. He claims that he did not enter the Capitol and that he did not see any police lines when he joined the mob outside the Capitol building. Of course, the police barricades had been pushed aside by then, and the Capitol police defending them had been attacked and beaten by the mob, with more than 140 of them injured during the approximately four-hour riot.

Mastriano was subpoenaed by the January 6 select committee in February of this year, and on September 1, sued the committee attempting to block its subpoena. The committee had sent him a letter with the subpoena, noting that in his public statements about his presence at the Capitol that day, Mastriano had said that he “witnessed ‘agitators … getting in the face of the police’ and ‘agitators … start pushing the police up the Capitol steps.’”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who chairs the select committee, wrote to Mastriano, “We would like to better understand these statements and expenditures, events that you witnessed or in which you participated, and communications we believe you may have had with national, state, and local officials” concerning the 2020 election. The “expenditures” apparently refer to the money Mastriano spent to charter the buses to attend the Trump rally and other monies spent for accommodations and food on January 5 and 6, when he led his delegation from Pennsylvania to Washington.

Mastriano has refused to be interviewed about his participation in the assault on the Capitol building. He has also refused to answer questions about a hearing he helped to organize that was held on November 25, 2020, in Gettysburg by the state Senate Republican policy committee that was attended by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The hearing was one of several at which election deniers gave testimony about fake evidence of fraud that had been thrown out of court by judges hearing Trump lawsuits seeking to overturn the results of the election in Pennsylvania and other battleground states.

Mastriano’s lawsuit against the select committee is still pending, even as the committee has begun winding down its investigation in order to ready its report.

The New York Times yesterday described Mastriano’s campaign as “sputtering.” A recent poll by Muhlenberg College and CBS showed Democrat Josh Shapiro leading Mastriano by 11 points. The Republican candidate has had no television ads on the air in Pennsylvania since May. Shapiro has broadcast more than 23,000 ads in the state since the May primary. The Times also reports that the Republican Governors Association, which has contributed to the campaigns of Republican candidates in eight other states, has no plans to help Mastriano.

“We don’t fund lost causes and we don’t fund landslides,” Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona told an audience at Georgetown University recently. Ducey is the co-chair of the Republican Governors Association. “You have to show us something, you have to demonstrate that you can move numbers and you can raise resources,” Ducey told his audience, clearly referring to Mastriano, a candidate who has done neither.

Mastriano posted a Facebook video appeal for funds last Wednesday which, with only 4,700 page views, has gone exactly nowhere. “Really not finding a lot of support from national-level Republican organizations, so we’re calling on people across Pennsylvania and across the United States of America to give directly to our campaign,” Mastriano told his tiny Facebook audience. The Times reported that he was “glum-looking” in the video.

Previously, Mastriano had spent $5,000 trying to recruit supporters and small donations on the far-right social media site Gab, apparently without much success. A recent campaign finance report by Mastriano showed his campaign with $397,319. The finance report for the Shapiro campaign for the same time period showed him with $13.5 million on hand.

It's not hard to put a finger on what’s wrong with the Mastriano campaign. He doesn’t do media. He is surrounded by a wall of handlers and bodyguards whose job is to keep the press and even the public away from him, unless of course, the public has been vetted as supporters already by Mastriano’s advance team. He was recently accused of making an anti-Semitic attack on Shapiro when a video surfaced showing him saying, "This is something Josh Shapiro can't relate to. He grew up in a privileged neighborhood, attended one of the most privileged schools in the nation as a young man — not college, I'm talking about as a kid — sending his four kids to the same privileged, exclusive, elite school ... we talk about him having disdain for people like us. We saw that."

The school Mastriano referred to is a Jewish day school. Mastriano has previously come out for public funding of private education for children that would include Christian parochial schools, so there is little doubt which dog he was whistling to in his statement last week.

But perhaps the most telling detail about the Mastriano campaign is revealed in the rest of its finance report. Mastriano reported paying no salaries for campaign staff. None. But he did report making payments of some $43,000 to something called Misfit Creates, whose website claims it does something to help you “re-imagine your narrative.”

The website’s owner is Vishal Jetnarayan, who Mastriano’s campaign described in promotional emails as its campaign chairman. Although the Philadelphia NPR station WHYY describes Jetnarayan as “an unknown in Pennsylvania politics,” he is not unknown in Christian nationalist circles. He lives in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the same town where Mastriano lives, and on a religious website he runs, Jetnarayan claims that he works in two churches and describes himself as a prophet who speaks directly with God and can help others become able to do the same thing.

Mastriano has also made campaign appearances with Julie Green, another self-described prophet who is well-known in arch-conservative fundamentalist Christian circles. According to WHYY, she has previously accused Nancy Pelosi of drinking the blood of children and prophesied that “a wide variety of politicians will be killed for committing treason.”

With nearly 20 prominent state Republican figures recently coming out against Mastriano and pledging to work for the Shapiro campaign, it was icing on the proverbial cake when Liz Cheney announced yesterday that she will campaign against Mastriano and Kari Lake, who is running for governor in Arizona, both of whom are prominent election deniers. "We have to make sure Mastriano doesn't win,” Cheney told a crowd at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Saturday.

But Mastriano shouldn’t worry that Cheney and other Republicans have turned against him. He’s got those several dozen campaign workers and other supporters who turned out to hear him speak in Harrisburg on his team to stay.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

Biden Slams Trump's 'Extremist' Assault On Democracy

Biden Slams Trump's 'Extremist' Assault On Democracy

Philadelphia (AFP) - President Joe Biden took fierce aim Thursday at Donald Trump and his "extremist" supporters, labeling them enemies of American democracy in a prime-time address that sought to fire up voters ahead of key midterm elections.

Speaking in Philadelphia, the cradle of American democracy, the president launched an extraordinary assault on those Republicans who embrace Trump's "Make America Great Again" ideology -- and urged his own supporters to fight back.

"Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic," thundered Biden, speaking near the spot where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted more than two centuries ago.

"They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies."

"There is no place for political violence in America. Period. None. Ever," warned the 79-year-old Democrat -- in a reference to last year's assault on the US Capitol by hardline Trump supporters refusing to accept his defeat.

Citing the nationwide assault on abortion rights by hardline conservatives -- and fears for other freedoms from contraception to same-sex marriage -- the U.S. leader charged that "MAGA forces" were "determined to take this country backwards."

With control of Congress in the balance come November, Biden appealed directly to mainstream Republicans to join forces with Democrats and repudiate Trump's brand of politics -- which still holds sway over much of his party.

And he made it clearer than ever that Democrats intended to make the midterms a referendum on Trump, saying the Republican Party was wholly "dominated, driven and intimidated" by the former president and his MAGA agenda.

"And that is a threat to this country," he said, insisting American democracy had to be defended.

"Protect it. Stand up for it," Biden urged.


Biden's speech -- billed as an address on the "battle for the Soul of the Nation" -- harked back to an article he published in The Atlantic magazine in 2017, after a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that he says spurred his presidential run.

"We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation," Biden wrote then.

After his election in 2020, the veteran politician initially planned to wage this battle through dialogue with moderate Republican lawmakers, and through economic and social policies aimed at the middle class.

But the talk of reconciliation has died down, as polls seem to indicate the Democratic leader is better served by being more aggressive.

Last week, Biden accused Trump's supporters of being consumed by "semi-fascism."

The term sparked indignation in conservative ranks -- with Republican Senate Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy charging that it "vilifies" millions of "hardworking, law-abiding citizens.

"With all due respect Mr President, there's nothing wrong with America's soul," retorted Republican senator and longtime Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham after Biden's speech. "The American people are hurting because of your policies."

A new poll published Thursday by The Wall Street Journal shows that if the midterm elections were held today, 47 percent of eligible voters would cast ballots for Democrats, and 44 percent would vote Republican.

In March, the Republicans had a five-point advantage.

The Democrats are hoping for an upset in November's elections, in which all of the seats in the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate seats are on the ballot. Traditionally, the midterms don't favor the ruling party.

Things have been going well for Biden lately, however, with inflation slowing, a series of his landmark reforms finally pushed through Congress and Trump fighting off a series of criminal investigations. Polls show widespread support for abortion rights, which could put many Republicans on the back foot.

This would be enough to give hope to the Democrats, who are battling to keep their hold on the House and preserve their Senate majority -- or even strengthen it.

And Pennsylvania will be crucial for any of that to happen.

Historically a key battleground state in US politics, the Keystone State will likely prove vital to both parties in the midterms -- and Biden will visit three times this week alone.

Trump is also planning an appearance in the state on Saturday to support his candidate in the Senate race, TV physician Mehmet Oz.