On The Brink

What a time for Congress to be impotent.

The outcome of the war in Ukraine will have enormous consequences for global democracy, and requires unflagging support that MAGA Republicans oppose. The war just launched by Hamas against Israel threatens to strengthen Netanyahu, a corrupt, anti-democratic autocrat embraced by Trump who has caused immense damage to Israel’s reputation, both at home and abroad, and to further destabilize one of the world’s most dangerous areas. Climate change is accelerating, while MAGA Republicans continue to deny its reality. The gap between the rich and the rest is accurately characterized as a new and massively unfair Gilded Age. American lifespans are declining…The list goes on.

And the Republicans in Congress are clowns, utterly unable to rise to any occasion, or to make even the most feeble efforts to do their jobs. The GOP has picked a very unfortunate time to disintegrate ala the Whigs.

As Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has observed, McCarthy’s downfall is another symptom of the same underlying pathologies: a cultish GOP in thrall to a would-be autocrat, anti-majoritarian structural impediments, a surge in right-wing extremism, and White resentments and grievances channeled into a burn-it-all-down fever.

 Unfortunately, McCarthy’s ouster.doesn’t change those underlying systemic problems. Republicans in the House are deeply divided between an outdated and unrealistic Right wing and a full-blown lunatic Right. The two candidates who’ve emerged as frontrunners in the contest to succeed McCarthy would be unacceptable in any rational legislative body. (Jim Jordan is so unhinged that one Democratic strategist has been quoted for the observation that elevating him would give Democrats 14 additional House seats. Steve Scalise is best known for his claim to be “David Duke without the baggage.”)

All this would be bad enough in a saner, more peaceful world. Now, it’s terrifying–sort of like being stuck in place with a broken leg while watching an avalanche descending on you . 

Jennifer Rubin recently summed up where we are, and she echoed my own feelings: 

After Hamas is defeated, there will be a reckoning in Israel to match anything we have ever seen. Evidence of warnings to the Israeli government about insufficient deterrence, recriminations about putting a racist ideologue in the Defense Ministry post and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s misguided assault on democracy will all be reviewed. Careers will end. History will convict many of grotesque negligence.

Here in the United States, I have less patience than usual (which is often none) for inane right-wing rhetoric in the United States. No, there were no humanitarian funds released to Iran that might have put money in the mullahs’ pockets to be spent on Hamas. No, the Biden administration did not invite any of this. Republicans used to denounce the urge to “blame America first” for monstrous evil perpetrated by others. No more.

This should, but likely will not, inject some sobriety into the Republican Party, which has held up U.S. military promotions and confirmations and State Department postings; brought the House to a state of collapse under the weight of MAGA hysteria; carried water for Russia (an ally of Iran); and generally reminded us that adults are needed in government.

Voters need to wise up: We cannot tolerate the return to power of the egregiously unfit four-times indicted former president (who gleefully spread around intelligence information) nor allow MAGA nihilists to hold the country hostage. The stakes here and around the world are far too grave.

And those stakes are “around the world.” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began the largest war in Europe since World War II. Meanwhile, China has become more bellicose toward Taiwan, India is experiencing an eruption of virulent nationalism, and Israel has formed the most extreme government in its history. Populism is growing in otherwise democratic countries like France and Spain.

If the chaos caused in large measure by the “stop the world, I want to get off” Republcans in Congress ends up adding fuel to a meltdown of civilization and stability across the globe, if the wars that keep breaking out engulf us in another worldwide conflict, a significant cause will be the fact that far too many Americans have reverted to an unthinking and reflexive tribalism while they wallow in an utter lack of interest in –or desire for–adult governance.

The only bright spot in any of this is the fact that we have a seasoned, wise and statesmanlike President at the helm, and not the preceding ignoramus.


  1. I am horrified and heartbroken at the violence and loss of life caused by Hamas. Any group that undertakes an attack like that must be condemned and stopped.

    That said, I am also pretty furious about the gross inevitability of the whole situation. It’s not as though it’s difficult to see that the path of actions taken by the Israeli government against the Palestinians (especially with Netanyahu in control) leads directly to this horrific act. (The Haaretz newspaper has published editorials to this effect, and I generally agree with their analysis.)

    Partly because I’m cynical and partly because Netanyahu is a psychopath, I actually suspect he isn’t sorry this happened. Now, he has a real excuse to proceed with genocide, and it feels like he is going to try to proceed. I feel no hope. I grieve in advance for all the innocents on both sides that will die in the coming days.

    Note that I also blame the USA not a little. The Israeli government has been terrible, yet they continue to always get full support from the USA (in dollars and military aid), as if they weren’t. (And from other countries, too, but to a _much_ lesser extent.) I can’t imagine any other country getting away with their inhumane crap, and the USA largely goes blindly along. (It’s just another reason for me to be angry with some American religious people who see Israel’s existence as a step on the path to the rapture.) If anyone complains, they are called antisemitic. Well, that’s crap, too. The state and people of Israel are just as deserving of respect and democracy as any country or person, but the behaviour of the government must be utterly unacceptable to any sane and reasonable being.

  2. I’m with John H and his comments. I would only add that outside players had their hands in this too. Governments and organizations that harbor hatred and mistrust of others are ripe for the influence of evildoers. Take note Republicans.

  3. Great post and John H expressed my thoughts which I really appreciate today. I know very little about that area of the world but what I have gleaned from the coverage is that John feels like I think. Thanks for that.

    Just for the record, I’m having my 64th birthday in a couple of weeks and I don’t remember any time in my life that there was peace over there. My first memories of “news” has been about those places fighting endlessly. It’s exhausting.

  4. Biden and Blinken are the weakest of weak leaders. Biden had not spoken to the Israel PM for over nine months and Blinken called for a cease fire after 1000 Israeli women and children were slaughtered? Eventually he had to reverse that. In Afghanistan Blinken went against the late Sen McCains wishes to stay in Afghanistan showing solidarity with the government that was easily toppled by the Taliban after a failed withdrawal attempt leaving 13 dead marines and thousands loyal to the cause of democracy in Afghanistsn left to be murdered.
    Pray for the families of those who lost loved ones not only in Afghanistan but also now in Israel. These people are paying the price for our unstable leadership as we have bolstered their confidence.
    Its called leading from behind.
    Remember to attack your political opponents when you have failed and the chips are down?

  5. Excellent comment John H. And, how will Israel respond to this horrific attack on innocent civilians? Of course they’ll attack innocent civilians.

  6. John H hits most notes.

    As for Biden being “seasoned and wise,” he is undoubtedly seasoned. 😉

    Israel has trained the Palestinians and Hamas on how to handle conflict. My heart bleeds for both sides year-round, but Israel knows better. Hamas would go away if Israel would stop impeding on Palestine or what’s left of it.

  7. Please tell us what was misguided about Netanyahu’s proposed judicial changes and why we should take you seriously for prejudicially interpreting these changes as an assault on democracy.

  8. John H, you hit the nail on the head. The West, led by US has generally ignored the outlandish efforts of Netanyahu to expand Israeli dominance of the West Bank. When you push people out of their homes, don’t offer any compensation, leaving them with no place to go, this might be the result anywhere, not just in the Middle East. We eventually got it right in South Africa, but we didn’t learn from that.

  9. So Israel has cut off most water, electricity and food from Gaza. Fits the UN definition of “war crimes”. Do unto others as they do unto you. Tough for me and (hopefully) all Jews….”Heal the world”? Heal thyself….

    Terror begets terror….our world? MAGA terror begets??????

  10. and a little history lesson might be in order as many decry the terrorist Hamas organization. In Arabic, Hamas is spelled “Irgun” and Hezbollah is spelled “Haganah.” Israel came into being largely on the shoulders of two world-recognized terrorist groups, Irgun (thank you Menachem Begin) and Haganah, Irgun’s parent. From Haganah we get Rabin, Sharon, Dov Hoz, Moshe Dayan and other notable leaders of the Jewish state. VIctors get to write the history, so Irgun and Haganah and Lehi became the IDF, and heroes.
    My point is there is a lot of evil in this “war”, a conflict which has raged since at least 1948. The list of atrocities is long for both sides. The current escalation is just the most recent, albeit perhaps more savage in its attacks on civilian population, if there is a “civilian population” in Israel given its near universal conscription (exempting primarily very conservative Jewish students who are then free to propigate hate towards Arabs). As the world has witnessed in Ireland, Africa, Cyprus, Aremenia and Azerbaijan, and countless other places, evil in the name of a nation state begets evil in the name of a nation state. Peace is the answer, and not the twisted version proposed by Netanyahu, Trump, and the Saudi prince MSB. Real peace, with real respect. Can this happen in the Mid East? Good question. I’m almost 66, and majored in political science, and all I’ve ever known from this region was war and death and depravity on both sides…

  11. The Israel of today and recent years, is NOT the Israel voted into statehood in 1948. The change is one closely reflecting their greatest enemies who attempted to obliterate them from the face of the earth. They began as a nation of peace; a gathering place for Jews to at last have a homeland but have become a reflection of what they barely survived in Hitler’s “Final Solution” of the Holocaust.

    They looked into the abyss and became the abyss; can they survive as their own worst enemy?

  12. JoAnn, you make good points, as did John H.
    Again, Hamas played right into Bibi’s hands!
    There is a theory about America and an 80 year cycle of war, and perhaps it is now happening on a global scale???
    John S., we had no good reason to be in Afghanistan in the first place, but little Bush wanted to be a “war-president,” and lives were lost at an alarming rate, on both sides.
    What you need to remember are Eisenhower’s words about the military-industrial complex.

  13. The Indigo Girls, “Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable. And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.”

  14. This strikes me as the potential beginning of another Russia/Ukraine war but in the Middle East.

    Israelis know that a war in Palestine will be costly to both sides in terms of lives and money, but both are betting on sympathy from the global public and a US political response, knowing that the elections this year will be high stakes for both parties.

    What’s more important to American voters? Biden maintains our well-established mutual support treaties, like NATO, or Republican promises of borders closed to those who are outsiders and cut, cut, cut “reckless” government spending and, therefore, high taxes.

    Go figure.

  15. Lester,


    This really isn’t rocket science. As I recall, There were those in government that knew 9/11 was going to happen. The result? Wars that raged for two decades and a vendetta continued against Saddam Hussein because of him disrespecting Bush senior.

    So, Saddam gets his head ripped off as he’s being hung, and how many American soldiers and soldiers of America’s allies died?

    7500 American soldiers, 200,000 allied soldiers and police. Hundreds of thousands of civilians. All to defend Daddy’s honor!

    They’re definitely is a shortage of discernment concerning getting involved in conflict so far from your home base. And, what evolves from taking out one group leaving a vacuum. Al-Qaeda was a prime example, who filled the void? ISIS.

    You think they could have just went back and looked at the history books and realized that the Middle East is something that you should leave alone. The Middle Eastern countries have a vendetta because the powers that be divided up the Middle East into countries that had no natural borders. They installed heinous leaders which brutalized the populations of those artificially bordered countries. The hatred is so deep, it will never be eradicated.

    The Germans did the same thing in the ’30s before World war II. Night of the Long knives, kristallnacht, and burning down their own Parliament building. One of adolf’s biggest fans, attempted the same thing on January 6th of 2021.

    Netanyahu will now declare his martial law, actually he already has, and then tighten the noose around governments neck. Then eliminate is competition. Vladimir Putin is doing the same thing in Ukraine. He can now assassinate who he pleases. All of his governmental and press based adversaries. Prison or death!

    It’s all old hat, and it works! Why? Because when fear is instilled in the population, they will do anything or allow anything to save their skin.

    And, as we can see just from the past couple of decades, the civilian population is just Cannon fodder!

    Kevin McCarthy lamented yesterday, that the world is falling apart around him. And he wasn’t talking about his political dealings, he was talking about the world in general.

    Galatians 5: 19 – 23 that scripture is found the word egotistical! But what does that mean? It’s very interesting.

    Egotistical (ke·noʹdo·xos) literally conveys the idea of “empty glory; vainglory.” It occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures. One lexicon defines it as “having exaggerated self-conceptions, conceited, boastful.” This suggests a strong desire to receive praise from others for valueless, empty reasons. A related Greek word is rendered “egotism” at Philippians 2:3

    You see this in all of the cruel leaders throughout history, the most recent, Paul Pot, of the Khmer Rouge. Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazis. Joseph Stalin, the Bolshevik revolution. Mao Tsaetung, The boxer revolution. They were responsible for more than 100 million deaths! All for personal glory, or vainglory. We can see that very trait in the other guy! And you can pick out those in Congress, an example, Tommy Tuberville.

    The world is way too interlinked now, it’s never been linked in this manner in history. Artificial intelligence running algorithms, artificial intelligence designing artificial intelligence, remember Qanon? Conspiracy theorists that crave attention. It’s the human condition, and, it’s becoming more malignant than ever before. To the detriment of the entire population of this planet I might add.

  16. Just sadly learned that the US defense supplies going to Israel include offensive weapons. I had been praying it would be defensive ones only (like rocket shootdown munitions).

    “I ain’t going study war no more….”

  17. For John S.
    Hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets for months to protest Bibi’s attempted power grab. These are all people who would be directly affected by the proposed changes. The fact that reservists have declared their resolve to stand down if the plan goes forward says a lot about reasonableness. Underlying all of this is the personal corruption of Netanyahu and his goal of avoiding the consequences of his criminal actions.

  18. Every morning I get out of bed and immediately go to my computer and pull up Sheila’s post. I am a devout Democrat and I am amazed at your thinking and I agree with you Sheila at 100 percent. I have served the public all my life and strongly believe that the Republicans have no desire to protect/serve the public. I can’t stomach their not caring or their egos anymore.

  19. The timing of shutting down the house with the Hamas attacks seems coordinated. Russia stalled in their war on Ukraine and allied to Iran means Iran could be source of aid and impetus of Hamas to distract resources from Ukraine. Trump leaking security documents and directing Gayts to cause havoc by shutting down the house when time is of the essence in responding with aid. Seems US needs to open it’s eyes and see how volatile and critical the situation is. Enough pandering to treasonous infiltrate in this country! Lock him up!

  20. I agree that the Biden administration did not do a very good job of handling the Afghanistan withdrawal. But who set the deadline for that withdrawal? TFG! And who refused to do any coordination with the incoming Biden administration? TFG! He did everything in his power to ensure the the Biden administration would fail, and be embarrassed. Those are historical facts.

    Here is a conspiracy theory that I sincerely hope that history eventually proves untrue: Having lost the election and having been unable to accomplish his armed insurrection, TFG suggested to VP that Biden would be unwilling, or unable to mount a defense of Ukraine if VP decided to finish the job that he had started in 2014, thereby directly triggering the war in Ukraine.

    Here is an established historical fact: whenever there is a major change in political leadership in a major power; the other major powers attempt to probe / test the new leadership looking for weaknesses that they can take advantage of. A current result: Israeli political instability caused by the weak government that Bibi has formed led Iran to prompt its vassal Hamas to undertake a surprise military assault that has been remarkably successful. Hamas and ALL Palestinians will lose and suffer horribly, but maybe the majority of Israeli’s will also come to their senses and eliminate Bibi from their political infrastructure.

  21. So religion will ultimately save the day? Where one goes to church, temple or mosque has been a convenient dodge for inhumane conduct since religion has been invented as a means of explaining the inexplicable – which it has failed to do to date. Magic has been made a substitute for reality and inhumanity has somehow resulted via an admixture of religion and politics, i.e., it’s O.K. to kill other human beings to gain territory, institute slavery etc. because the killers go to the same mosque or temple or church and we don’t or go to a different one and therefore let’s kill “them” via “wars,” as politicians in alliance with clergy and the ruling elite gain their flag-waving secular cross admixture which Hitler, the reader will recall, and speaking of inhumanity, had a uniform with a swastika on the arm and a cross on the chest.

    So now we have both Arabs and Israelis terrorizing one another without a clear claim to do so in representing their respective polities both claiming the high moral ground in this admixture? But for the Israeli presence in the area that pertains to our national security, how about a pox on both their houses unless they quickly adopt a two-state treaty that makes any act of terror by either automatically subject to UN sanctions?

  22. CGH; you missed the boat with your comments. Trump set up the complete withdrawal of U.S. military from Afghanistan with a May 31st deadline. President Biden got the deadline extended to August 31st; the Afghan government did little if anything to move Afghani people to safe areas to leave the country, then fled Afghanistan safely well before the August 31st deadline knowing they were leaving the country and people to the Taliban. The Taliban had been terrorizing and murdering Afghan people and preventing them from getting themselves to safe areas to disembark, the second designated airport was blocked, leaving only one airport which was impossible for most of the people to get to and too many to be air lifted to safety.

    Israel declared war on Hamas, a terrorist, militant fundamentalist religion but is carrying out that war on Palestine; which has always been their primary target.

  23. JoAnn – I don’t think that Israel is attacking the West Bank (Palestine), only Gaza….

  24. Gaza is a Palestinian territory; if Puerto Rico were attacked it would be an attack on the U.S. as Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory.

    This may be splitting hairs but…Israel has staged 4 wars on the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

  25. John H – I appreciate your comments, and I, too, am horrified by this vicious attack.
    In 2015 we went to Israel with the Peace Organization Pax Christi. We visited some Refugee Camps where the Israeli government only provided water during midday. Upon leaving, our group experienced a tear gas assault that was directed toward children who were playing too close to the gate. It was difficult to witness how the Palestinians were treated. They were also required to go through check points on their way to work or school. Their land was stolen from them and replaced with settlements. You can only beat down a population for so long.
    But please understand I’m not condoning this horrific attack on innocent civilians.
    I agree with Richardallen, that Israel will respond with attacks on innocent civilians…..

  26. Gerald:

    “So religion will ultimately save the day? Where one goes to church, temple or mosque has been a convenient dodge for inhumane conduct since religion has been invented as a means of explaining the inexplicable….”

    You left out synagogue in the aforementioned queue of cults.

  27. You’re just as clueless as the passengers on the Titanic. The last paragraph almost made me throw up!
    Biden is FINISHED- he is compliant in this whole conflict. America is probably the next target as our border is completely open.

    Trump will be POTUS again – and I can’t wait.

    I hope your dining mates are the likes of Ben Shapiro and Tony Katz . 🚢

  28. OMG! Don’t tarry too long, Sheila! The unhinged are . . . showing out! While the cat’s away, the mice (rats) will play.

  29. Point one – their Arab brothers created the camps for the Palestinians to have political pawns for their own purposes and to recruit fighters.

    Point two – there were no Palestinian fighters against Egypt in Egyptian controlled Gaza or against Trans-Jordan in Trans-Jordanian controlled West Bank (or after they changed their name to Jordan, subtly claiming the West Bank as their own). There were attacks against Israelis, and later, any Jew in the world.

    Point three – I’ve seen pictures of the bloody aftermath of”freedom fighters” going into homes and killing everyone in a book called The Six Days – it was about the 1956 war. The pictures were pre-war terrorist attacks against civilians.

    Point four – It is terrible that Hamas murdered men, women, and children, babies in their cribs, set fire to buildings with people trapped inside, gunned down over 200 people at a music festival, stopped to rape and behead people, shot people in the legs so that they couldn’t flee their rapists


    But means everything said before is worthless balderdash, meaningless words – it negates all that proceeded it

    If you want to criticize Israel, have the decency to let the dead be buried. For the sake of the nine Jews that don’t exist because of repeated attempts at genocide (1 in 3 murdered during the holocaust). And make no mistake, Hamas would happily kill every Jew on earth. This was mini-genocide – It has been expressed before – “Babies grow up, so they are [fair game]” (and easier to kill).

    Bonus point, since everyone seems to have forgotten – besides being a sleeze, Netanyahu has another issue with the Palestinians. In 1976 Palestinians highjacked an airplane and took it to Uganda, where they separated the Jews, like the Nazis they so admired. Israel rescued all but one woman who was taken to a hospital for heart problems and never seen again. Israel suffered only one loss – Yonatan Netanyahu, the old brother that Bibi purportedly had always worshiped. He is a sleezy, vile man, but a sleezy, vile man with an ax to grind.

    End of diatribe – sorry Sheila – I should have known not to read the comments.

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