Thursday, November 17, 2022


The House of Representatives will be in Republican hands starting in January, and the majority intends to focus primarily on witch hunts -- er, investigations. It's possible that some of these will seem worthwhile to voters who don't watch Fox News six to fourteen hours a day, although you'd think that Republicans actually would have run on them in the midterms if that were the case.

I've been a critic of Democrats who say the Democratic Party needs to practice "popularism" -- identifying extremely popular policy ideas and stressing them to the exclusion of all else -- because it's always seemed to me that Republicans practice unpopularism and get away with it. In 2022, it could be argued, they advocated unpopular policies (attacking LGBT people, ranting endlessly about the 2020 election) and didn't get away with it, but they won the House, albeit barely, so they plan to do whatever they feel like doing.

Among the things they feel like doing -- or at least Jim Jordan feels like doing, Jordan being, apparently, the most powerful Republican in the House -- is this:
... Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a Trump loyalist and former leader of the far-right Freedom Caucus ... is poised to chair the powerful Judiciary Committee and will be itching to haul Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to Capitol Hill.

In a letter to Garland this month, Jordan previewed some of his potential investigations next year, urging the Justice Department to preserve records related to its probe of the conservative group Project Veritas and how it obtained a copy of the diary of the president’s daughter Ashley Biden, the shuttering of the Justice Department’s Trump-era program targeting Chinese spying and the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in August.
Really? Jordan plans to haul the attorney general and FBI director before his committee and take the side of the thoroughly unlikable James O'Keefe against the president's daughter, whose diary was stolen and wound up in O'Keefe's hands? He thinks O'Keefe is the sympathetic one in this case? And Donald Trump, the guy who's widely seen as having faceplanted in the midterms, and even in his presidential campaign announcement -- the guy even Republicans are sick of -- Jordan wants to rally to his defense?

And the shuttering of the program targeting Chinese spying seems quite defensible:
The China Initiative led to a series of prosecutions against researchers and academics, accusing them of failing to disclose dealings with China when submitting applications for grants. In one of the most recent case to fall apart, prosecutors last month dropped all charges against a Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist, Gang Chen.

“For 371 days, my family and I went through a living hell,” Chen wrote in an essay published by The Boston Globe, referring to the length of time the charges against him were pending....

Also in the crosshairs was Qing Wang, who spent two decades working at the Cleveland Clinic, where he was leading a research project into the genetic causes of heart disease, funded by more than $3.6 million in federal grants from the National Institutes of Health.

He was accused of failing to disclose that he was part of the "Thousand Talents" program, was dean of a Chinese university, and was receiving nearly half a million dollars in Chinese government grants for research that overlapped with his U.S.-funded work.

Prosecutors dropped the charges, but Wang is now in Shanghai, looking for work.

“They are creating such a fear in the scientific community,” he told NBC News last year. “I’m pretty sure many people will move back to China. So that’s actually they are doing a favor to the Chinese government.”
Americans are suspicious of China, but is this what's bothering them? Chinese scientists in America doing research on heart disease? Jordan intends to take his jacket off and yell at top government officials over that?

Also mentioned prominently in Jordan's letter to the attorney general is the Justice Department's response to reported assaults on right-wing provocateur/reporter Andy Ngo, which are extremely important to the Murdoch media and its audience, but not exactly a burning issue for most Americans.

And there's this:
In a closed-door meeting of Republicans on Monday, right-wing lawmakers including Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia extracted a promise that their leaders would investigate Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Justice Department for their treatment of defendants jailed in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
I've been telling you since a couple of weeks after the January 6 insurrection that Republicans are selling a big lie about who really controls the Capitol Police -- it's overseen by a board that includes the sergeants-at-arms of the House and the Senate, but they don't exercise day-to-day control, yet Republicans want us all to believe, and have persuaded most of their hardcore voters to believe, that Pelosi ran the Capitol Police all by herself at the time. And what Greene seems to be arguing now takes that big lie to a new level -- Pelosi is personally overseeing the jails where the insurrectionists are imprisoned, too? (Where does she find the time!)

This is absurd, and also -- after an election in which the most rabid election denialists running for statewide offices were defeated -- Republicans pursuing this angle will be backing denialist rioters.

Maybe they think this is their path to mass popularity, but I'm not seeing it.

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