This Is The Dumbest Debt Ceiling Fight Ever

INSIDE: Dianne Feinstein ... Clarence Thomas ... George Santos
Washington, DC - April 17 : House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) walks out to an event to mark a 100 days of the Republican majority in the House on his 100th day as Speaker on Capitol Hill on Monday, April 17, 20... Washington, DC - April 17 : House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) walks out to an event to mark a 100 days of the Republican majority in the House on his 100th day as Speaker on Capitol Hill on Monday, April 17, 2023, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

McCarthy Lacks A Plan And The Votes

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has such a tenuous grip on his own conference that the debt-ceiling hostage-taking he is attempting to pull off has all the hallmarks of the bumbling kidnapping capers you see in the movies:

  • The House GOP can’t agree amongst themselves what to ask for as ransom.
  • They can’t get the White House to take them seriously enough as a ragtag band of kidnappers to engage in negotiations.
  • They keep threatening dire consequences for not taking them seriously but are repeatedly hobbled by their own lack of consensus.

At this point, McCarthy wants the House to vote by the end of the month on a package that combines the debt ceiling with draconian spending cuts, but he clearly doesn’t have (i) internal agreement on those cuts or on how much to raise the debt ceiling by; or (ii) the votes to push a package through as early as next week.

McCarthy is preparing to bypass the House committees altogether and cobble together a package on the floor himself, Punchbowl reports. If wishing and hoping were a plan …

One word of warning: Political reporters are doing McCarthy a favor by calling what he’s presenting publicly, including in his speech yesterday to the NYSE, a “plan.” It’s not a plan yet. It skews the coverage to pretend it is a plan. McCarthy is taking advantage of this journalistic failure to try to leverage pressure on the White House. The White House ain’t stupid and isn’t biting.

McCarthy doesn’t have a plan or the votes. Until that changes, that’s really all you need to know.

No Settlement Overnight In Dominion v. Fox

Trial is set to start this morning after a delay of one day, reportedly to pursue settlement talks, didn’t immediately yield a resolution to the case.

Senate Dems Look Moronic

The most generous interpretation of Senate Democrats’ ineffectual effort to get Republicans to help them sideline Dianne Feinstein so they can resume confirming Biden judges is that they needed to go through these motions and have them fail before they could prevail on Feinstein to resign her seat.

I could barely type that without screaming into the void. Because of course that’s too generous by a lot.

Senate Republicans lined up yesterday to declare they’re not going to lend Democrats a hand. Of course not. It was silly to pretend they were going to help, both because this is the modern Republican Party and because … why should they really?

So we’re back to where this all started a week or so ago. Until DiFi resigns her seat, the Judiciary Committee is hamstrung and new Biden judicial nominations will be stalled. It’s true that Senate Democrats can’t make her resign, but the song-and-dance routine of the past week doesn’t inspire confidence that they really get what’s at stake or have coalesced around an effective path forward.

The Hollowness Of The Clarence Thomas-Harlan Crow Friendship

Billionaire GOP donor Harlan Crow did an interview with the Dallas Morning News to push back against all the criticism over his cozy undisclosed financial relationship with Justice Clarence Thomas. Instead of mounting an effective defense, Crow revealed the essential hollowness of his “friendship” with Thomas, which began a few years after Thomas was confirmed to the high court:

But would Crow be friends with Thomas if he weren’t a Supreme Court justice?

“It’s an interesting, good question. I don’t know how to answer that. Maybe not. Maybe yes. I don’t know.”

And this:

Did he ever consider his friendship as a ticket to quid pro quo?

“Every single relationship — a baby’s relationship to his mom — has some kind of reciprocity,” he said. …

 “I try to be friendly, polite and kind to you, and you do that back to me. If that’s reciprocity, then yes, there’s reciprocity. But if it’s anything beyond that, there’s no reciprocity.”

Gosar Is A Menace

Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar’s weekly newsletter to constituents included a link to an anti-Semitic website praising him, Media Matters reported. It doesn’t appear to have been an accident. How do we know?

The original article Gosar’s newsletter linked to at the Hitler-adoring, Holocaust-denying Veterans Today website was titled: “Congressman: Jewish warmongers Nuland & Blinken ‘Are Dangers Fools Who Can Get Us All Killed’”

The headline was edited for the newsletter to remove the Jewish reference: “Congressman Gosar: Warmongers Nuland & Blinken ‘Are Dangerous Fools Who Can Get Us All Killed’” 

George Santos Runs For Re-Election

The serial fabulist Republican representing Long Island announced he’s running for re-election whilst under multiple ethics and criminal investigations. A Santos re-election campaign should set off all kinds of intra-GOP turmoil in New York state, where party leaders have more or less renounced him.

Judge Scoffs At Trump’s Request To Delay Carroll Trial

Donald Trump’s latest attempt to delay the start of E. Jean Carroll’s rape and defamation trial went nowhere. In short the judge said if now is a bad time to hold the trial just wait until you’re indicted in multiple other jurisdictions! I’m exaggerating only sightly.

Disney Trolls DeSantis?

Hours after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) threatened Disney with the prospect of building a prison or a competing theme park next to Disney World in Orlando, the entertainment giant announced its first-ever Pride Nite, set for June at Disneyland in California.

Ralph Yarl Shooter Charged

Andrew Lester, an 85-year-old white man, was charged with felony assault and armed criminal action in last week’s shooting of Ralph Yarl, the Black teenager who accidentally went to Lester’s address to pick up his siblings.

Sarah Bils Now Under Federal Investigation

The Navy and FBI are now investigating Sarah Bils, the 37-year-old former Navy noncommissioned officer who was identified by the WSJ as running a pro-Russian social media account that helped spread the classified documents released by air national guardsman Jack Teixeira.

Elon and Tucker And AI? Shoot Me Now

Some days I feel like we deserve everything that is happening right now. Today is definitely one of those days.

Here’s Elon Musk telling Tucker Carlson: “An AI that cares about understanding the universe is unlikely to annihilate humans because we are an interesting part of the universe … hopefully, they will think that.”

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