McCarthy Ouster, Senate Republican Opposition Bode Ill for 2023 Ukraine Funding

The House of Representatives is playing out a Ukraine dynamic that UK voters might recognize from Brexit. After Theresa May’s gambit of snap elections backfired, she was left with a small majority in the House of Commons. The hard Brexit radicals, often called the Ultras, had more than enough votes in their solid bloc to deny May a majority. As Chris Grey was early to point out, their disproportionate power, their dogmatism, and relentless messaging enable the to refine what for the general public had been a Rorschach test Brexit into a very hard Brexit being normalized and then institutionalized.

Or rather, that’s one way to look at the picture, that the unfortunate thin Republican margin in the House has allowed a radical fringe to get its way. But another way to look at it is that this hard core is allowing all sort of factions that doubt the wisdom of continuing to support Project Ukraine to let them do the initial heavy lifting and see how to position themselves as events play out.

The fact that the drama of the nixing of more Ukraine funding in the short-term funding and now the defenestration of speaker Kevin McCarthy1 has also diverted attention from the fact that Senate Republicans ex Mitch McConnell are also cooling on more Ukraine spending.

Normally, the cynical view would be that of course the Ukraine 2023 funding that was stripped from the so-called continuing resolution will eventually be restored. But it is becoming more and more apparent that Ukraine is not winning proposition, literally and figuratively. A majority of voters oppose more funding. That poll was as of early August. Since then, more and more press organs have been forced to admit that the much-hyped Ukraine counteroffensive was a bust. As the movie General Patton said, in an opening monologue cobbled together from actual Patton speeches:

Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. Now, I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.

Fortunately for us, or at least many in the political classes, it is Ukraine that is losing this war, but there is still an increasingly desperate-looking effort to either pretend Ukraine can win, or that Russia will let us have a peace with honor outcome which as we and others have pointed out is na ga happen.

Moreover, it isn’t as if voting against more Ukraine largesse that would necessarily lead to defense contractors pulling support from that particular Congresscritter. Admittedly, some might have product mixes that benefit more from a land war in Ukraine than a naval/air escalation against China. But the hawks have bigger martial ambitions than the arms merchants can satisfy, and the belligerent consensus is that China is the bigger priority, so writing off Ukraine sooner rather than later is probably not a terrible outcome for them.

Keep in mind that the immediate play is whether Biden can get a stand-alone bill for additional Ukraine funding for 2023 or get it included in the next “continuing resolution” bill or more permanent funding package, which has to be passed by November 17 to prevent a government shutdown. We had argued that the precedent of this defiance of the Administration and Republican grandees lowered the bar for it happening again. The ouster of McCarthy make getting more near-term dough for Ukraine even more fraught.

First from Bloomberg on the implications of McCarthy being forced out as Speaker:

Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as US House speaker plunged Congress into an internal power struggle as it faces key deadlines on avoiding a government shutdown and approving aid for Ukraine — all as the country hurtles toward a presidential election.

McCarthy lost his leadership post after hardliners in his own party revolted over his compromise with Democrats to avert a government shutdown last weekend. He said he won’t run again for speaker and hasn’t thought about resigning from Congress….

Goldman Sachs said in analysis for clients that the ouster raises the risk of a government shutdown next month. McCarthy’s successor will probably be under “even more pressure” to avoid a temporary funding package or additional funding for Ukraine, Goldman said.

From an op-ed at The Hill:

Whoever walks into the Speaker’s office will inherit the same harsh reality that led to McCarthy’s ouster. The only difference is that McCarthy’s successor will have even less negotiating leverage against a House Freedom Caucus capable of removing an uncooperative Speaker at will. That’s a lofty amount of power, and caucus member Rep. Matt Gaetz has proven he can wield it effectively, assisted by the GOP’s razor-thin House margin. Any future Speaker will in effect become one member of the Freedom Caucus’s politburo — or they’ll quickly find themselves exiting stage (far) right.

Mind you, some Republicans, particularly coup-meister Matt Gaetz, are unhappy that the voting on a replacement speaker won’t start until October 11. He’s wanted it done straight away. Another bone of contention among the harder-core House Republicans is the way McCarthy and his ally, House Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan, have been (in their eyes) slow-walking the Biden impeachment investigation. So the week delay in the Speaker vote is another week delay in turning the screws tighter on Biden.

Initial commentary, such as from the New York Times and Politico, depicts McCarthy as having pleased no one, taking moves to try to placate the hard-right faction that alienated the Democrats who could have rescued him.2

The focus on the House drama has meant other stories that describe how Congressional support for Ukraine is slipping are going unnoticed. For instance, from The Federalist, which Beltway-watchers tell me is good at reporting on Republican dynamics, in How Conservatives Quietly Outmaneuvered Weakened McConnell On Ukraine:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suffered a stunning blow this weekend when Republicans in the upper chamber disregarded his repeated calls for prioritizing Ukraine funding by passing the House GOP’s short-term spending bill, which included no provisions for the Volodymyr Zelensky regime.

Publicly, McConnell pretended his move to finance the proxy war in Ukraine was temporarily tabled for the convenience of avoiding an imminent government shutdown. Behind closed doors, the Senate minority leader’s plan to indefinitely send U.S. tax dollars to Eastern Europe was shunned by nearly every member of his party who expressed discomfort with hinging the fate of the government shutdown on Ukraine.

One source familiar with the situation told The Federalist that even McConnell quietly acknowledged to his colleagues that any spending bill that included Ukraine funding was not a winning issue for the party. Yet, he was so committed to putting another country’s financial well-being ahead of his own that he fought his own conference on it.

The Senate GOP’s defiance of McConnell was confirmed when they, at the urging of Senate GOP steering committee members like Sens. Mike Lee and Rick Scott, passed House Republicans’ continuing resolution (CR) instead of the Senate bill.

Note that another indicator of Ukraine’s sliding support are Matt Gaetz’s efforts to strip Ukraine funding entirely from 2024 Defense Department appropriations. From NBC five days ago, as in before both the continuing resolution passed without monies for Ukraine and the McCarthy defenestration:

An amendment to the defense funding bill by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., to prohibit all military assistance to Ukraine won 93 Republican votes Wednesday, as 126 Republicans and all 213 Democrats voted against it. That’s up from 70 Republicans who voted for a similar measure by Gaetz in July.

A separate amendment by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., to slash $300 million in arms assistance for Ukraine — an allocation that has been the status quo since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 — got 104 GOP votes, with 117 Republicans joining 213 Democrats to vote it down.

Where this funding fight wind up is anyone’s guess. But Ukraine looks to be en route to a serious diet.


1 For those interested in the House Ultras’ bill of particulars, from the New York Times:

Only a few of them rose on the House floor ahead of the vote to list their grievances against Mr. McCarthy, chief among them that he had relied on Democratic votes to push through two bills they opposed — one to prevent the nation from defaulting on its debt for the first time in history and another, over the weekend, to avert a government shutdown.

“The speaker fought through 15 votes in January to become speaker, but was only willing to fight through one failed C.R. before surrendering to the Democrats on Saturday,” Mr. Good said, referring to a measure known as a continuing resolution for a stopgap spending bill. “We need a speaker who will fight for something, anything besides just staying or becoming speaker.”

2 Again from the Times:

But their [House Democrats’] disdain for Mr. McCarthy ultimately overrode any political will they had to save him, and in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday morning, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, instructed fellow Democrats not to do so, citing Republicans’ “unwillingness to break from MAGA extremism.”

That meeting, which was billed as a listening session and strategy meeting to determine how Democrats would vote on Mr. Gaetz’s motion to remove Mr. McCarthy, quickly became an airing of grievances against the speaker.

The litany piled up: his vote to overturn the 2020 presidential election results after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; his decision to renege on the debt limit deal he had brokered with President Biden in the summer to appease the rebels; his friendly relationship with former President Donald J. Trump; and his decision to open an impeachment inquiry into Mr. Biden without evidence of wrongdoing.

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  1. Expat2uruguay

    The big thing that I got out of this reporting is that the house Democrats failed to rally to support Kevin McCarthy, thus making it much more likely that the government will shutdown on November 17th and/or remain shut down for longer.

    1. pjay

      Perhaps the Democrats are simply following the neocon/CIA playbook regarding opposing countries: you would like the opposition leadership to do your bidding, but if they don’t the next best strategy is to foster its fragmentation and factional conflict. You may be right that chaos will result, but then that’s never stopped the neocons either.

      1. Jeff

        Exactly. The best way for the Dems to win is to use the American public like a hostage, kind of like what they have effectively done with the funding of the proxy ukr/Rus war.

        Heads they win, tales we lose.

    2. John k

      Yes, I expected dems to step in and save the day, which would seem to be best strategy both for ukr funding and avoiding a shutdown.
      However, I seem to remember a shutdown happening years ago, I think under Clinton. National parks shut down, checks didn’t go out etc, and the public was pissed. But as I remember, the public mostly blamed the republicans and this was expressed in the next election.
      I assume something like this analysis is behind dem actions.

    3. Matthew G. Saroff

      If you are Speaker of the House, job 1 is t count votes.

      Here is the total tally of opposition votes for you if the alternative is Satan: 0 votes.

  2. timbers

    If Ukraine funding is seriously reduced, we may get to the point where Ukraine soldiers disperse like fleeing rabbits at the prospect of a serious Russian offensive. Maybe even without one. Once their paychecks stop, it’s all over. I never thought Washington would allow a funding issue to happen and it may still have tricks to prevent one, but we owe these Republicans a thank you. My sisters father etc are in California and Arizona and they all resent Ukraine funding as our borders vanish and seemed pretty up on the games being played in Washington over both.

    1. JohnA

      The main thing stopping Ukrainian soldiers from deserting is the Azov fanatics behind the front line shooting anyone trying that, and even shooting at injured soldiers being rescued by Russian forces and bombing places where they suspect Ukrainians are thinking of surrendering.

    2. whiteylockmandoubled

      Don’t hold your breath about the money. Rare bad counting take by Yves. Ukraine funding has overwhelming congressional support, starting with 208 rock solid votes in the House. Leadership in both chambers will call a Ukraine stand alone (an issue of procedural principle for Gaetz et al, btw), certainly once the Speaker mess is figured out, and it will pass easily. The 8 who dumped McCarthy will be joined by a subset of the GOP caucus who cynically calculate that voting NO helps them back home.

      Everyone seems to have forgotten the Trump Administration already – Pelosi, D leadership and a minority of the Democratic Caucus teamed up with Republicans to pass large increases to Trump’s already absurd military budget proposals, which, by the way, were larded with the surveillance authority that GOP critters now claim to find objectionable.

      A similar dynamic is in play here – the usual dreary partisan “opposition” to war on procedural or corruption grounds. Think Roy Cohn in post WWII Germany, Robert Caro’s rendering of LBJ’s regular military procurement scandals in the 1950s or Benghazi. The notion that Project Ukraine funding is in trouble at the moment is nonsense, especially if one expects public support for the project to affect the current outcome. Look at all the polling carefully. Yes, when asked directly, support for Ukraine is declining, but the intensity isn’t there among the general electorate. National Security, Ukraine and Russia are barely visible on the list of priority issues in surveys asking what voters care about for 2024.

      For the moment, Ukraine is Democratic dogma, while criticism is just a base-motivating issue for GOP politicians, “Corrupt Hunter, Brandon and their pal SBF are getting rich and laundering money in Ukraine.” They’ll keep that alive into the general election season with the impeachment to try to chip off a few gettable “independents” and keep their own base stoked. (also why McCarthy and Jordan are smarter than Gaetz on timing. The votes will never be there in the Senate, so time the media coverage of the trial for maximum general election impact).

      A standalone funding bill will pass with unanimous Democratic support and probably majority Republican support, but certainly a lot more than 8 House and 10 Senate GOP votes, which are all that’s needed. it’s perfect for everyone – Dems all vote to Protect Democracy and Norms From Trump and Putin, while GOP members get to decide whether their voters prefer sober opposition to the evil Rooskies, or a vote against that can be sold back home as either opposing Democratic corruption, shifting focus to the Real Yellow Peril Menace, or both. A vote that has absolutely no practical consequences for the Treasury or the flow of money into the weapons industry, as every single member of Congress knows. No doubt, the GOP will offer an audit amendment, which allows YES voters on the funding to tell the folks back home that we have to keep killing Russians, but I’m listening when you say we can’t trust the Democrats with Our Precious Tax Dollars so I voted for an audit but the corrupt Democrats won’t even let us count the pennies to make sure they’re not flowing back into Democratic campaign coffers, which they no doubt are.

      Fundamentally, for Gaetz et al, Ukraine is just evidence of Democratic profligacy. The core issue for them and their voters is taxation = theft and this is the convenient evidence.

      The erosion of support for Ukraine is interesting historically, but it’s way too early for it to result in meaningful Congressional action. It took six years from the Proxmire hearings on Vietnam until there was a credible threat to war funding.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        Thanks, Whitey Lockman:

        I was wondering, Now when did the Republican hard right become such peaceniks?

        I think that you have made the diagnosis: Fundamentally, for Gaetz et al, Ukraine is just evidence of Democratic profligacy. The core issue for them and their voters is taxation = theft and this is the convenient evidence.

        Unlike other countries, where the elites are split or starting to split over Ukraine, the U.S. elites are hog-wild for war. It’s fighting over “drowning government in the bathtub” that preoccupies them.

        How the shrunken government floating dead in a bathtub is supposed to finance these misadventures of the U.S. ruling class: ‘Tis a mystery.

        1. Samuel Conner

          > How the shrunken government floating dead in a bathtub is supposed to finance these misadventures of the U.S. ruling class: ‘Tis a mystery.

          I doubt very much that the “fiscal responsibility” types actually believe their rhetoric. Given actual practice, they must realize that USG is not revenue constrained (but there are constraints; see below). I feel a measure of apprehension about the MMT educational agendas of Stephanie Kelton and others; how much anger will there be when the wider population realizes the needlessness of what its rulers have inflicted on it?

          Re: constraints, the real question is, “how are shrunken US industry and adversary-dependent supply chains supposed to produce the war materiel needed to sustain these misadventures of the U.S. ruling class?”

      2. urdsama

        Yves provides context, background and sources for her positions on this matter.

        Can you provide the same?

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        This is a straw man, which is a violation of our written site Policies. I did not say the funding might not get done. I said the additional 2023 funding would prove to be more difficult than most assume.

        You assume the new Speaker will give Biden a stand alone vote. No good negotiator gives a free trade to the other side. One way would be to insist on the audit of Ukraine spending that Republicans have called for and not gotten. See

        Most of the candidates are RINOs but some are not. A non-RINO speaker will want something visible from ‘Biden for a bill to restore the Ukraine funding. Or he could put other House business first and let this be dealt with in however the spending bills shake out as the current one expires.

    3. Feral Finster

      The United States alone has spent over $3,800 and counting for every Ukrainian man, woman and child. And that’s not counting inflation.

      The citizens of East Palestine are denied so much as a single hotel voucher. Hell, proposed aid to Maui comes to less than $700 per person.

      People should be hopping mad.

      1. John k

        Yeah, but…
        Imo most of that 3800 never left dc, in which case deserving us citizens get the lions share. What’s not to like? S

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Actually not correct. The $3800 did leave because it was equipment largely already in US stores and the rest was direct support to the Ukraine government.

        2. Feral Finster

          Regardless, it’s not as if the US government were showering its citizens with unearned free cash, or paying MiC contractors on behalf of US citizens and their interests.

  3. ambrit

    As the Government becomes increasingly dysfunctional, watch the rise of parallel institutions. Alas for we leftists, the Right is more disciplined and devoted to doing such.
    I remember the Home Schooling fight back in the 1980s in Louisiana. The ultra conservative evangelicals were the driving force behind the eventual Home School laws. They also organized home schooling books, pamphlets, videos, etc. that supported and promoted their views on many subjects. Such was the strategy of aligned conservative evangelicals in Texas, where their main push was to co-opt the Texas State Board of Education. Instead of fighting the “authorities,” the conservatives decided to become the “authorities.”
    As recent history has shown, that strategy worked.
    This McCarthy imbroglio shows that, far from devolving into a “rule by mob,” as many conservatives will assert, we are falling into a “rule by cliques.” Proscriptions are next.

    1. mrsyk

      I’ve ben ruminating over this subject for some time. It seems like a natural transition to the seemingly unavoidable Balkanization of the US. Ever read Snow Crash?

    2. Benny Profane

      “As the Government becomes increasingly dysfunctional”

      How is this dysfunctional? I think quite the opposite. Finally, someday has the cajones not only to say enough, but acts on it in a legal and rules based way. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to “function”? And now Gaetz has to face the wrath of both his voters, if they disagree, and the deep state apparatchiks. That’s politics these days.
      Dysfunctional to me is Britain. A country falling into third world status, behaving like a military power with no army and now no arms, and a government that insists on harming it’s citizens at every turn.

  4. The Rev Kev

    Looks like McCarthy is another victim of the Zelensky Curse and his hair did not save him at all. Gaetz was accusing McCarthy of going behind everybody’s back to get funding for the Ukraine done but regardless, there must have been a trigger for this action and I think that it was actually Lindsay Graham. One of the holy grails of Republicans, nay conservatives, is border security along the Mexican border. Even Biden right now is having work done on the border on the quite. But this week Lindsay Graham came out and said that what will happen is that there will be no money for border security unless money for the Ukraine is allocated. And not just a few billion or the $24 billion that Biden was talking about but a full on $60 billion with more to come. I think that this must have galvanized a lot of Republicans to stomp on those RINO demands and the way forward was to take out McCarthy. If there is going to be any more funds for the Ukraine to will have to stand on its own merits. So if you see Biden walking around like a ruptured duck, it is in fact because he is now officially a lame duck.

  5. Chris Smith

    I have to give Republicans my grudging respect yet again. I’m no fan of Gaetz, but he drew a red line and when McCarthy crossed it he fought back and circumstances being what they are, cost McCarthy the speakership. Compare that with “the Squad” who for all their talk always fall in line with Democratic leadership in the end.

    My take is, that Gaetz’s challenge and McCarthy’s loss is the sign of a healthy party (keeping in mind that the Democrats were a necessary component to toppling McCarthy). Contrast this with Democratic obedience, at least right up until a Manchin, Sinema, or parliamentarian is necessary to thwart something Democratic voters actually want.

    1. Louis Fyne

      —- but he drew a red line and when McCarthy crossed it —

      Insert Putin meme in which Putin quips about forgiveness for everything, except betrayal.

      McCarthy flat-out lied to Gaetz’s face, and McCarthy caught the blowback.

      What a novel idea, a politician being held accountable to their promise.

      In today’s bizarro-world, Gaetz deserves a JF Kennedy profile in courage, lol.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Hey, if Monica Lewinsky deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor for the hummer that saved Social Security – and she does – then how can Gaetz be denied?

        It all makes me want to shower, though.

    2. Socal Rhino

      Glenn Greenwald has repeatedly pointed out that the Ukraine war is being debated everywhere except the Democratic party in the US.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I suspect despite the leaks that Team Blue decided their deal with McCarthy would open up that debate and determined losing McCarthy would avoid that debate. If popular opinion has turned against funding with no support, it could be a devastating blow for the do nothing Team Blue to out their names on funding. They needed it within the haze of funding every project to avoid that debate.

        When did they know Zelensky was a turd and kept funding when American children can’t do long division? College loan payments restarting under the guy who created education loan crisis in the first place? Rampant inflation? Healthcare?

        Gaetz went all in when he realized Team Blue would argue for Ukraine not material goods.

        1. Jams O'Donnell

          “kept funding [Ukraine] when American children can’t do long division?”

          Such a good point. US education and infrastructure are dying on their feet and need very substantial funding in order to even just stay where they are. But the kleptocrats in Washington and Wall Street would rather spend money to back a fascist state to attack their completely imaginary enemy in Russia. To call these people ‘traitors’ is to devalue the meaning of the word.

  6. Louis Fyne

    when it takes a “radical fringe” to deliver a popular policy outcome (and nudge the world into a spot where less people are sent to pointless deaths), it says more about the rot of the mainstream parties.

  7. Wukchumni

    Bye-bye, Kevin.

    The 40 day or so deadline plays into the Caucus screwing over the country, as all they have to do is the opposite of what they accomplished with McCarthy, by voting down every consideration for Speaker, gumming up the works as it were

    Their savior has been backed into a corner, they surely feel the same, and like Benedict Donald-want to burn everything down

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      On one hand, it’s funny, but Gaetz and friends aren’t afraid of how this looks. Democrats aren’t offering alternatives other than bizarre explanations for fire alarms. With a few neocons like Lindsey, the GOP won’t be united against Gaetz. His terrorism will look reasonable to his district as other issues matter to voters.

      With neoconservatives screaming about Ukraine, Gaetz won’t look insane to GOP voters who already believe Democrats are babykillers. The GOP is going nuts over tne border to a point where even I am starting to wonder if there is a problem. The only path out is for Biden to mint the coin, but that would create the idea he isn’t powerless and require someone to get an intern to stamp the president’s signature on a piece of paper.

      1. John k

        No neocon will mint that coin because imo banks hate it. My perspective is that a bank license is freedom to print only limited by acquiring sufficient reserves while us treasury has hard limits as we see here. Banks don’t want any change in gov restraints, and those pols sensitive to bank donations don’t want it either. I doubt any pol in high office today would authorize the coin.

  8. Benny Profane

    As all this is happening, the head cheerleader from the Ukraine funding side sounded like he was off his meds when asked about it at a press conference, and probably went off for ice cream and a nap afterwards. Normally the president, or commander in chief, has used his bully pulpit at times like this. Ain’t no way to rally the nation behind a proxy war.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      The particularly delicious part is that he “thought” he had a side deal with McCarthy. I wonder if anyone in the WH had the temerity to inform him that as of yesterday, 5PM, McCarthy is no longer the speaker, so his “deal” is null and void, as one party to the deal is no longer capable of delivering.

      With the House out of action until at least October 11, be on the lookout for a “drugs for guns” type of deal. Exchange some dope seized at the border to a ME country in exchange for weapons for Z? Echoes of Iran/Contra. Where is Oliver North, these days?

      The Pentagon also has a huge black budget of unaccountable, non-auditable funds. Will that be enough to stop the checks from bouncing in Kiev?

    2. JTMcPhee

      See the note in yesterday’s Water Cooler about the power of propaganda. Pretty clear “the nation” has already been “rallied behind a proxy war.” How much evidence, of the sort that gets introduced aily here at NC, does one need to see that whatever it might be, “deep state,” cartel, what have you, the English war on Russia — the “Great Game” — will go on and on.

      The critters who operate it, annd the parallel anctors who profit from it annd hope to divvy up the carcass, are organized and have been at it for centuries. Their institutions apparently instill the “Et Rossia Delenda Est” mantra into the set of people who end up running things. The Bris and the rump Commonwealth seem fully invested in it (see Canada and Nazis, and Australia that swallowed a CIA regime change and Brit and US nuclear tests, e.g.) Short of maybe a mass die-off of that set, which an ultimately implacable Russia may provide if the Death Cult keeps pushing the “fool around and find out” behavior along with the idiot cousins here in America, I’m betting that the the long-term will continue to be funded, in Ukraine and all the other places where “isolation” and “destabilization” is on the agenda.

  9. Frank

    My only question is, if the Democrats prioritized Ukraine over everything else, shouldn’t they have voted to save the speaker?

    1. ChrisFromGA

      That’s a good question. They also could have voted down the clean CR, and shut down the government, but they didn’t. So obviously they at least put something above selling out to a foreign government.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Given the complaints included the last shutdown threat when Biden cut them off from the obvious solution, mint the coin, my gut is this is more about the perception Team Blue is spineless and declining stars of progressive champions. AOC said support would not be given for free. Huh? She rolled over for Biden.

      There was the farce of J6 investigations, the great crisis of our day, at least until it was time for vacation! Team Blue knows they didn’t build from that but looked comical. So they went after one of the country’s most prominent invertebrates.

      They demanded Ukraine funding instead of something popular with immediate impact.

    3. Pat

      Nothing interferes with vacation. I joke but there is an aspect of that in there. I also believe that Ukraine support is an inch deep for most of Congress (same with opposition to Ukraine support). Democrats are going to vote for it because so many of the leaders are attached to it. But lay down and take heat for it…not so much. The vote yesterday makes it clear that the opposition to it isn’t even the majority of the Republicans. I think of it this way, those passionate about Ukraine, for and against, is probably about a quarter of Congress. It is up for negotiation for everybody else.

    4. Feral Finster

      I asked myself the same thing. I guess the temptation to put a shiv into Team R was just too strong? Especially as all they need are a couple of Team R votes to get Zelenskii’s latest check through the House.

  10. Pat

    What I am getting is that McCarthy’s biggest crime for the Democrats was not protecting Biden. (Whenever I hear that there is no evidence about Biden I remember being told how there was no evidence that Cheney, Bush, Powell et Al were lying about there being WMDs in Iraq.) The fact that his ouster would make it even harder to keep the government open and somewhat functioning was of no real consideration.

    And for the record, I fully expect the Democrats not the Republicans to be the focus of voter anger if there is a government shut down or massive cuts of government programs. It may not be fair but they are the group that has consistently ignored public sentiment about what is important. They may think that the Republican infighting may distract from this, but it actually highlights the lack of importance American problems and the American people have in the Democratic Party.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There is no evidence (yet) because:

      1. Biden has been defying subpoenas for records

      2. We are supposed to believe Biden had nothing to do with his kids getting all sorts of cash and prizes from foreign governments

      3. The Administration spokescritters are acting as if the IRS whistleblowers, who IIRC found $5 million going to Biden (from Ukraine???) through a long chain of shell companies, don’t exist

      1. Pat

        He is just a parent with a problem child who has to learn responsibility. Tough love means having to work hard to pay through the nose for that room in Dad’s house. /s

        I don’t know what I was thinking.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          my mom…whom i consider a representative sample of PMC/Team Blue…cooked fish and shrimp last night.
          luckily, my youngest got home in time to be a human shield for me(mom wont go all narcissistic ragey when theres a witness).
          anyhoo…her cooking is always timed to NBC national news…that Lester Guy.
          they did the breathless rundown of Trumpennews…then segued to a brief mention of Hunter’s Woes.
          i said “hell…put em all in jail…”
          and she, at the stove, went on about “problem child”(ie: a dig at me,lol), and “do you think biden’s worse than trump?”
          i said yes…40+ years in power, and behind just about every adverse government action…wars and rapine and punish the poors, and on and on.
          senator from mastercard, etc.
          when i said he’s tried to cut social security and medicare repeatedly…she said “bullshit!”
          when i said he bragged about writing the patriot act..”bullshit!”
          making student loans exempt from bankruptcy…”bullshit!”.
          and so on…in a repeat exchange from the one about Herself circa 2015.
          so i’ll try to find the Cspan clips,lol…and send them to her, as promised.
          she actually asserted that, for all his decades in high office, him and his family never got rich(!!!).
          i gave up at this point…and the local news had come on, providing opportunity to switch to weather.
          my point in this rundown is that the Team Blue/PMC cohort is All In on Biden…he’s the Greatest President since FDR(whom they would hate)…and since they seem to suffer from varying degrees of collective narcissistic personality disorder(really, run down the criteria,lol)…and therefore have never been wrong about anything at all, ever…they’ll double, triple and quadruple down on this mess.
          and insist that all of us, left right and center, who disagreed were putin puppets and trumpenfascists.

          mom asked during our exchange where i was getting this stuff:
          i said Wapo, NYT, WSJ, CNN, Democracy Now, CNN, and even Daily Kos…all of them up until around 2016, when they memoryholed everything that was suddenly deemed Wrongthink.
          she laughed as if to say that all that was fake news,lol
          we are frelled…

          1. Joe Well

            Is it the entire Team Blue/PMC cohort or is it heavily age-dependent?

            (And do they really think he is “greater” than Obama?)

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              in my rather limited sampling of pmc/team blue*, yes…but pmc/team blue seems to skew older, all by itself…which would confound things,lol.
              *- i have mom, and her 3 female cousins(all covert narcissist older boomers), my late dad, his wife, and maybe 20 or so Team Blue blue hairs out here in the sticks, safely sequestered in their hillforts(mansions on top of hills), whom i run into in town occasionally.
              80% of my sample is female…all of them are older than 65…most are pushing 80 or beyond.
              not a one of them, save my stepmom…to my knowledge…has ever gone without dinner, lived in a car, etc.
              college was paid for, healthcare has always been within reach, if not essentially free, and on and on.
              and from within the Daily Kos/MSDNC bubble, everything really does look just fine.
              after all, they solved all the problems by 1976.
              “Democrat”=”Goodness and Light”…Obama is a Saint, and Biden is his saintly heir.
              notably, all their kids….now grown up and gone…are either totally apolitical, some form of Libertarian(often left leaning, like me) or Right Wing Christofascists.
              the fault for this latter phenomenon(not being Team Blue) lies with…variously…drugs, Fascistgop mind control, or idiotic intransigence, due to prior drug and alcohol use(Hunter is a Proxy for all their problem kids…they feel for Uncle Joe having to deal with all that).
              it sure as hell aint their fault,lol.

              1. Jeff

                People who hate trump and feel rage toward anyone who could even consider not voting for Biden checked out mentally years ago. Their hatred has impaired their judgement to the point now where they sound as confused as John fetterman in a debate. You can’t reason with people if their cult of choice is “trump is as bad as Hitler”. Your can’t reason with people who really believe this.

          2. Feral Finster

            This jives with my experiences of Team D cultists. They are all-in.

            If Biden were to start channeling Adolf Eichmann or his decrepit frame were to be possessed by the accursed ghost of Pol Pot, they wouldn’t miss so much a single beat.

          3. Pat

            I get it. A friend who puts up with my rants, but does think Trump is a bigger threat to the world than Biden, at least had to give me that Newsom’s Senator appointment sucked right away. She is probably the only IRL friend I regularly point out the “ironies” to.

            But I wasn’t kidding about the run up to the Iraq war. I was amazed how many people could hand wave things that just didn’t add up. They buried logic and memory. Will I have conversations years from now where people who deny Biden’s corruption today but say they knew it all along then just like support for the invasion became being against AUMF? I don’t know. I’m still waiting for people to realize that Obama knew Obamacare was going to be a disaster, even as they now admit it is one. Denial is a national pastime.

            That said, I don’t for a moment believe that the Democrats running interference for Biden don’t know he was on the take. Even if they aren’t running their own scams, they know.

            1. John Wright

              I get the response that “Trump would have been worse than Biden.” from Biden supporting PMC’s.

              I then ask, in what way?

              I had one Biden supporter claim that Trump was worse than Bush II.

              If one looks at lives lost (both USA military and a huge number of foreign citizens), erosion of civil liberties, loss of USA goodwill due to torture, loss of habeus corpus, amped up domestic/international surveillance/censorship AND the opportunity cost of the resources used in Bush’s GWOT, Bush II earned “Worst President Evah” with (in my view) considerable margin.

              I suspect the USA now has many “long TDS” sufferers to accompany the long Covid sufferers.

              1. David in Friday Harbor

                Don’t forget that, “We tortured some folks.”

                But Shrub (the little Bush) does give out Altoids at funerals, so even if he’s the wurst, he’s not all bad…

              2. tegnost

                Yeah re bush 2.That Patriot Act conveniently lost americans pretty much all civil liberties… other than the liberty to fleece people, that’s sacrosanct. Mission Accomplished.

                1. Pat

                  And never forget that the Senator from Delaware had spent years sponsoring those policies.
                  Baby Bush had bipartisan help on most of his worst ideas.

      2. steven t johnson

        In the end, the post assumes that Ukraine spending is the principled issue driving Gaetz’ et al.
        The likelihood that cutting funding for Jack Smith plays more of a role is omitted. The even greater likelihood that Gaetz has a personal interest in completing January 6 one way or another apparently is inconceivable. Gaetz even has to worry about the Fourteenth Amendment suddenly being taken as part of the Constitution. The unargued presumption that either the Republican Party or Trump are anti-war is not only unsupported, it has considerable compelling evidence this is fake news. The total votes of the majority of the Republican Party plus the Democrats for war are what matters. There is no good reason to think there will be any major change there.

        Lots of people know the difference between harassment by subpoena and what actually survives a defense in court. Even more to the point… When Trump was President, there was lots of time and will to find real evidence. Four years of failure to do so are powerful arguments there isn’t any such legal evidence.

        In my opinion, it is quite likely Hunter has been influence peddling (including I think in the prices of his paintings, but that’s me.) But that is not legally criminal unless there is a quid pro quo. Personally I think the true corruption is what’s legal, but one more time, that’s me, not the law. Consultancy fees, speaking fees, advances for memoirs, influence peddling has been the norm. Only Trumpers manage believe/pretend to believe that the paltry millions accumulated by the Biden crime family count more than the hundreds of millions Trump’s family has piled up, the actual legal standard be damned. It’s like not reporting Reagan’s Alzheimer’s at all, and relentlessly blasting away are Biden’s mental health while ignoring the crazy crap coming out of Trump’s mouth.

        The testimony of IRS whistleblowers in Congress at the behest of Republican supporters of Trump is not evidence. The saw in thriller movies is, follow the money. When they actually find the money in Biden’s pocket, then sensible people will actually pay attention. Till then, that’s strictly for the Trumpers. At this point, it’s political posturing, as significant and truthful as Joe McCarthy waving a piece of paper. Wake me when there’s real evidence.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          There is already one quid pro quo. Getting the Ukraine corruption prosecutor fired, which Biden bragged about, enabled Burisma to get critical development licenses. No licenses, no big board seat pay for Hunter because broke company.

        2. Paris

          Pathetic. Doesn’t deserve more than a word as reply. “Paltry millions” accumulated by poor senile Biden lol, don’t make me laugh, under what rock do you live?

        3. tegnost

          The likelihood that cutting funding for Jack Smith plays more of a role is omitted.
          First I’ve heard of it…do tell…
          seems pretty eleventy dimensional what with all the reagan,IRS,sensible people, trumpers (is there an antonym for that?)
          And yes, pimping your kids is the PMC way, gotta keep up the master race.

      3. David in Friday Harbor

        Yves makes three important points in her last comment.

        I’m more convinced every day that this is all about Biden being bought by the Dnepropetrovsk Mafia that once ran the Soviet Union under Brezhnev and Chernenko and that after being deposed by Gorbachev was succeeded by Kuchma, Bogolyubov, and Kolomoyskyi when “Ukraine” bolted from the collapse of the USSR. I suspect — on admittedly thin evidence — that Bogolyubov and Kolomoyskyi’s current PrivatBank predicament is pure theater. If (unlike that lazy turd Adam Schiff) the GOP leadership of the House Judiciary Committee litigates their subpoenas, they will probably come-up with lots of dirty laundry in 2014-17 Vice-Presidential cables and email. The Dems seem to be hoping to derail the impeachment inquiry by facilitating the current Republican break-up. When a Biden gets bought, he stays bought.

        There can be no other explanation for his obsession with “Ukraine” that has been carried along by the anti-Russian confirmation bias of post-Cold War American society. Just the other evening I got into it with a friend who went on and on about the current “Soviet” invasion. I had to point-out that there hasn’t been a “Soviet Union” for over 30 years…

        1. turtle

          It doesn’t seem to me that the Ukraine obsession is only Biden’s. After all, the US has been pushing for Ukraine to join NATO since at least 2008 (under Bush II), if not earlier.

          1. David in Friday Harbor

            Joe Biden has never been accused of having an original idea. Pandering? Yes. Original ideas? Never.

            But the point is that by the time Hunter was “wetting his beak” at Burisma Zlochevsky was out and Privat and Kolomoyskyi were paying the grift. Kolomoyskyi was a “good guy” until the Justice Department sudenly ramped-up on him in 2019 — coincidentally just about when Biden started looking like the opposition candidate and Rudi started putting pressure on Kolomoyskiy’s boy Zelenskyi for kompromat on the former Viceroy of Ukraine.

            All coincidences, no doubt. Or was Russiagate projection?

  11. orlbucfan

    Anyone here who thinks Matt ‘Rich Kid’ Gaetz is some sort of hero needs to be committed. He’s a yahoo who should be in jail for sex playing with kids (10 and younger). Rich Daddy, who followed the usual ripping off Medicare a la Rick Scott, is why sonny will never see the inside of a jail. I’m solid anti-war so the spooks and neocons getting ‘screwed’ on Ukraine funding is fine with me. Now, the dysfunctional government is showing its true colors. I’ve been prepared for that one for a long time. With the international climate crisis worsening, this whole DC Comedy is a sick joke.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is a straw man as well as ad hominem. No one said that Gaetz was a hero. He was relentless and managed to get one on Biden and the House RINOs.

      You are exhibiting the cognitive bias called halo effect, of needing to see people as all good or bad. Today Ray McGovern and Judge Napolitano described long form how Feinstein, who was generally an appalling person, nevertheless took an investigation of CIA torture seriously and got a damning 550 page executive summary into the record… well as the fact that the CIA was tapping the phone of the investigative team.

      Similarly. Gaetz can be and likely is a terrible person and still do something useful.

      1. Kilgore Trout

        Ya I am pretty much in love with Yves. It is so nice to read a thoughtful thread and think about it a bit.

      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        it really harshes my mellow when i have to listen to someone like gaetz…or MTG…or trump!…and, if im being honest with myself,say,
        ” i think they’re right about this”.
        like a Koan.
        or something.
        shocks you out of your unexamined assumptions.
        we need more and better parties…or none at all.
        and before that, a better cognitive framework to parse all these competing interests(excluding the interests that are already more than well represented)

  12. Jams O'Donnell

    I am not au fait with the ins and outs of the US political system, but Gilbert Doctorow who is, or at least was, a US citizen and so should be informed, thinks that this is a big deal.

    “Many have asked how long this can continue without the system collapsing. Well, friends, it has just collapsed and I say that is a godsend in the literal sense of the word.”

    However, this doesn’t seem to be the prevailing opinion here. I do though, hope that he is right.

  13. Amfortas the Hippie

    this is the meat, i think:
    “The irony of these developments is that the Ukrainian war may end for entirely arbitrary reasons within the U.S. power structure. All the efforts of Jeffrey Sachs and John Mearsheimer that brought to the attention of millions of youtube watchers the guilt of the West for this supposedly “unprovoked” war will have played no role in the denouement. Nor will one even be able to say that those in Congress who opposed further aid to Ukraine did so not because they are peace-niks but because they prefer to do battle with China. No, the collapse of support for Ukraine will be attributable to the true collapse of American political culture. ”

    i’m not sanguine,lol.
    i want the current regime(neolib/neocon, pretending to be at odds) to end, utterly….i want the USA Empire to end, utterly.
    what had at least some providence for good in the world, was squandered…early and exponentially…for the avarice of the few.
    everyone now associated with it must be anathema, henceforth.

    sadly, and unlike Good Gilbert…i dont think we’re there yet, by any measure.
    this is just another tooth on our sawtooth decline trajectory.
    the Burning Times are still ahead of us.

  14. turtle

    What are the chances that democrats didn’t stop McCarthy from being fired from the speakership when he was important to funding the Ukraine war because they know that Ukraine is a losing proposition and this may provide a possible escape route for themselves by shifting the blame to the republicans? It probably seems like a win-win to them, killing two birds with one stone, as they say.

  15. tawal

    I’m not the sharpest knife on politics. I am pleased that there was no funding for Ukraine…at least at this juncture. I am totally ANTI- WAR, ANY.
    I believe that the Democrats voted against McCarthy because he failed Biden. And that Biden will lose vs. Trump. Even if states refuse to put Trump on the ballot, he will be written in enough to win a National election.
    Similarly, I’m grateful that the shut down was avoided…for now. Putting workers out of work is a sure way to a recession; as is the FED action to have and maintain high interest rates, which actually fuels additional inflation for net borrowers, working people; and makes businesses raise prices to be able to better meet their higher interest costs

    1. John k

      All good points.
      High rates also boost inflation by boosting income to bond holders, who then spend some of it, boosting demand for items that may be limited supply. Mosler points out the deficit is now 7% of gdp, meaning high bond payments to the private sector in relation to the recent path.

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