35 Poltroons

These dastardly Senators, Republicans all, betrayed the country and disgraced themselves.

ON THE FRIDAY before Memorial Day weekend, 35 Senate Republicans killed a bill to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection—the worst attack on our democracy since Booth shot Lincoln.

No, allow me to re-phrase, as that doesn’t fully capture just how antidemocratic, and how fucked, this vote was. On May 28, 2021, the Senate voted by 54 to 35 to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection—the worst attack on our democracy since Booth shot Lincoln. Eleven Senators, including two Democrats, declined to vote.

Sixty percent of those voting were in favor of the commission. When we consider the populations of their respective states, those Senators in support represented an overwhelming majority of Americans. Nevertheless, the Republican minority was able to kibosh the bill. Why? Due to arcane parliamentary rules concerning the filibuster—an outmoded device used historically to torpedo civil rights legislation—the Democrats needed 60 votes to pass the bill, not a simple majority. Not 60 percent of the votes; 60 votes.

The obvious next move is to confine the filibuster to the same racist dustbin of history where Jim Crow laws and the Fugitive Slave Act currently reside. But two Democrats oppose this tactic, for reasons beyond my comprehension. One of them is Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who might be (finally) waking up to the fact that his “colleagues across the aisle” are enemies of democracy. The other is Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who didn’t even bother to show up to vote. I don’t know what’s up with her—indeed, as her office offered no excuse for why she missed the vote, I’m frankly concerned for her wellbeing—but as a politician, she is more tone-deaf than an office rendering of “Happy Birthday to You.”

The outcome of this vote is disgraceful. It is a slap in the face to our democracy. It is maddeningly unfair. But it’s not a surprise. Republicans have been telling us for years who they are: new authoritarians, white supremacists, stormtroopers of the patriarchy, aspiring oligarchs, criminal accomplices, Vichy collaborators—nihilists, happy to watch the republic burn.

Anyone paying attention recognizes this. And yet Chuck Schumer and the Democratic leadership continue to operate under the bizarre delusion that the GOP is a functional, pro-democracy party. It is not, and has not been for quite some time. The Republicans are the equivalent of the Nigerian prince in that legendary internet scam, insisting that the windfall is just around the corner. And Schumer keeps Venmo’ing cash.

Liberals shake their heads when a Boebert or a Greene makes some batshit pronouncement from LaLaLand, but, as chess legend and political activist Garry Kasparov tweeted (italics mine), “The Republicans aren’t the ones denying reality. They admit they cannot win elections fairly. They admit the Jan 6 insurrection reflects their members and their base. They are acting accordingly to seize and hold power. Denying that is the delusion.” And time is running out. “A disbelieving opposition is the autocrats’ greatest ally in the early stages. Biden and the Democrats risk refusing to acknowledge reality until they no longer have the power to do much about it.”

Similarly, there is widespread—and apparently sincere—disbelief on the Hill that Republican Senators would not want a commission to investigate the besieging of the Capitol, in which their own lives were at risk. To me, this was always the desired GOP outcome. Too many Republicans are either compromised, if not complicit in the actual insurrection, to want any daylight shone on its planning and execution. The last thing you want to do when the power goes out is open the refrigerator. God only knows where a well-fanged investigation might lead. It’s not a risk these traitors are willing to take.

There were 35 poltroons who betrayed us. Let’s take a closer look at who they are, and why they might have done so.

First, let’s acknowledge the Republicans who voted for the bill, and who are thus not active traitors to the country: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Utah’s Mitt Romney.

The GOP who did not vote: Richard Shelby of Alabama, Jim Risch of Idaho, Mike Braun of Indiana, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and, surprisingly, Tennessee’s Martha Blackburn.

(It’s notable that a majority of the Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee—Burr, Risch, Collins, Blunt, and Sasse—either voted yes or didn’t vote).

The 35 Republicans who shot down the bill clearly want to turn the page on the insurrection. At this point, it’s fair to ask why.

I put them in four categories:

I. Spineless Cowards

This group voted NEIN and then offered up some total bullshit, fake-ass justification. For example:

1/ John Boozman, AZ
“There are multiple investigations already underway, within Congress and by law enforcement agencies, into the events of January 6th,” so we shouldn’t have one with subpoena power that the American people can watch on TV.

2/ Kevin Cramer, ND
“We have committees studying what happened, & there have been hundreds of federal investigations launched into the people responsible for the horrible events that day,” so we shouldn’t have one with subpoena power that the American people can watch on TV.

3/ John Cornyn, TX
“The process has been hijacked for political purposes,” which is I guess more of an affront than the actual Capitol being literally hijacked for political purposes.

4/ Bill Hagerty, TN
“This is clearly just a partisan attempt to open up an area where they think it will be helpful to the Democrats in the next cycle of the elections,” which is I guess more of an affront than the actual Capitol being besieged in a partisan attempt to open up an area.

5/ Tom Cotton, AR
“This duplicative, partisan commission isn’t designed to uncover new information, but rather to advance the Democrats’ partisan goals,” as opposed to Cotton’s partisan goals, which involve martial law, Trump as dictator-for-life, and no one asking nosy questions about what he might like to do in his leisure time.

You get the idea. The other nay-voting yellow-bellies are:

6/ John Barrasso, WY
7/ Shelley Moore Capito, WV
8/ Mike Crapo, ID
9/ Joni Ernst, IA
10/ Deb Fischer, NE
11/ Cindy Hyde-Smith, MS
12/ James Lankford, OK
13/ Mike Lee, UT
14/ Cynthia Lummis, WY
15/ Roger Marshall, KS
16/ Rick Scott, FL
17/ Tim Scott, SC
18/ Dan Sullivan, AK
19/ Thom Tillis, NC
20/ Roger Wicker, MS
21/ Todd C. Young, IN

II. Fourth of July Traitors

One July 4, 2018, seven Republican Senators—and zero Democrats—flew to Moscow to meet key members of the Russian government, including foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and former Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak—the two jackals who 14 months prior were photographed by the Russian press yukking it up with Trump in the Oval Office the day after Jim Comey was fired. What happened over there? I have no idea. But Ron Johnson, one of the party, has been spewing so much Russian disinformation ever since he got back that he may as well host his own Russian gameshow.

Eighty-seven-year-old Richard Shelby of Alabama, who led the Moscow delegation, did not cast a vote on Friday. The other six Fourth of July Traitors voted against the J-6 Commission:

22/ Jerry Moran, KS
23/ John Neely Kennedy, LA
24/ Steve Daines, MT
25/ John Hoeven, ND
26/ John Thune, SD
27/ Ron Johnson, WI

III. Insurrection Enthusiasts

28/ Tommy Tuberville, AL
A message to Coach Tuberville from Rudy Giuliani was intercepted because Trump’s personal attorney dialed the wrong number. Giuliani wanted the newly-minted Alabama Senator to “try and just slow [the certification vote] down.” Why did Rudy call Tommy? That’s something a J-6 Commission might be curious about. So instead of taking the sack, the football coach threw the ball away.

29/ Chuck Grassley, IA
The Senate president pro tempere lost his fastball years ago. I can’t pretend to know what’s happening in the blighted cornfield of his mind. However, if the insurrectionists had managed to execute Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, which they were clearly trying to do, the Hawkeye dotard would have been next in line for the presidency. That seems like a crucial detail in a coup attempt. Also, one of his longtime staffers, Barbara Ledeen, has a long history of political black ops, is a Mike Flynn loyalist, and is alleged to have been involved in a honeypot sting to discredit “disloyal” Trump appointees. A J-6 Commission would want to hear from both of them.

30/ Josh Hawley, MO
This hateful little prick wants to be dictator himself some day. The infamous photo of him giving the insurrectionists the Fist of Approval went viral. How much did he know about the besieging? A J-6 Commission would put his arrogant ass on the stand and find out.

31/ Ted Cruz, TX
Dressed like the bad-guy archeologist from a low-budget Indiana Jones reboot, Ted Cruz delivered a fiery speech in Georgia a few days before the insurrection, and was one of the leaders of the attempt to quash the election results. Besiegers stopped at his seat in the Senate Chamber because “Ted Cruz would want us to do this.” A J-6 Commission would get to the bottom of his involvement.

IV. Owned Property

We can expect nothing from this Quisling quintet, who are to Donald John Trump what Donald John Trump is to Vladimir Putin. They can’t so much as use an extra square of toilet tissue without asking permission first. The last thing these lily-livered cowards wants is a J-6 Commission poking around.

32/ Marco Rubio, FL
As chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Liddle’ Marco did to Volume 5 what Bill Barr did to the Mueller Report. He is no longer a familiar longing for eternal life; he is a full-fledged democracy vampire.

33/ Mitch McConnell, KY
Is this soulless ghoul working for the Kochs? For the one-percenters and no one else? For the Chinese, via his wife, Elaine Chao, whose family owns one of the largest logistics company in that hostile foreign country, and to whom he owes much of his vast fortune? For Putin, via the oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who opened that aluminum plant in Kentucky? For the reanimated corpse of John Wilkes Booth, and the spirit of the Confederacy he so loves and cherishes? I don’t know, but I can say for sure that Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr. is not, and never has been, working on behalf of the American people—least of all his constituents in the Bluegrass State.

34/ Rand Paul, KY
“The Senator from Kentucky is working for Vladimir Putin,” said John McCain on the floor of the Senate—which, I mean, when you get right down to it, there is very little evidence to the contrary. This sniveling little faux-libertarian fuck hand-delivered a letter from Trump to Putin. He has been actively working to undermine democracy for years.

35/ Lindsey Graham, SC
Trump’s hostage. If only his backbone were as strong as his liver, which seems Promethian in its regenerative powers. He has become Renfield, eating rats and insects at Carfax Abbey, begging Count Dracula for a cat: “I am here to do Your bidding, Master. I am Your slave, and You will reward me, for I shall be faithful.” I tweeted this two and a half years ago, and it remains true:

It’s plain as the gin blossoms on Lady G’s face that these 35 poltroons don’t want an investigation because it will expose their own complicity. The “no” vote was a veritable confession. Some of the lawmakers, one hopes, are familiar with Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states (boldface mine):

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

These traitors meet that criteria, and should be expelled from the august legislative body: that’s what a J-6 Commission would show. Which is ultimately why these 35 poltroons voted against it.


Photo credit: Gage Skidmore. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaking with attendees at the 2019 Teen Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Marriott Marquis in Washington.