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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Thanksgiving in the DC swamp means asking ‘What have I got to lose?’

What have I got to lose?

How many times have we all faced a dilemma in our stressed-out world where there’s no obvious answer to a riddle and time runs short to decide on the proper path forward. Unfortunately, the last best alternative may not be one at all, letting fate determine the outcome.

Rosenstein and JordanAnyone who’s spent hours in a Las Vegas casino has experienced the feeling. If you’re breaking even or marginally ahead and it’s time to head home you may figure the last bet is a no-brainer. Win and go away happier – or lose and figure you’d regret not having tried.

A similar quandary plagues President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans these days as lawmakers meet to clean up last-minute details before adjourning for the holidays. Democrats are poised to assume the House majority in January and Republicans won’t find it easy sledding when Nancy Pelosi – or whichever liberal ideologue grasps the Speaker’s ceremonial gavel – smiles and bows before the cameras on Day one.

For this reason Trump thinks there’s no time like the present for a government shutdown if he doesn’t get his long-awaited funding for a border wall. What do Republicans have to lose, right? Rick Moran of PJ Media reported, “The window of opportunity is closing on Donald Trump as a lame duck Congress prepares to address the issue of funding most of the government before a temporary spending bill expires on December 7. Specifically, Trump wants funding for his border wall. And he may be willing to shut down most of the government until he gets it...

“Trump's nonchalance about a government shutdown reflects an attitude by some Republican conservatives that a partial closure of government offices at Christmas won't hurt them politically. They are right in the sense that the next election is two years away and most voters have short memories.

“But one of the first rules in politics is ‘do no unnecessary harm.’ I'm sure the media coverage of weeping federal workers unable to purchase their kids presents or buy Christmas dinner because they've been furloughed will help put enough pressure on Republicans to give Trump some kind of meaningless funding for the wall.”

Moran offers a Trump quote saying now might be a “good time” for a shutdown, since most of the government’s already been funded through passage of bloated appropriations bills and only a small portion of the federal force would be impacted. Moran also suggests, with an impending majority waiting for them in a little over a month, Democrats have zero incentive to help – so it leaves the lame-duck Republicans to do the work, quite a number of whom won’t be making a return trip to the capital after the new year.

This amounts to Speaker Paul Ryan’s last hurrah and it’ll speak volumes on his days as Republican House leader as to whether he’ll actually push to accomplish something meaningful on immigration prior to his bailing out. What does he got to lose?

Not much, but since when does the establishment ever home in on practical matters? Departing GOPers will have left the party in shambles in the lower chamber, most likely blaming Trump for their unfortunate circumstances and heading back to their districts to look for a real job after living it up on the public dole for years. Unlike the rest of us, former congressmen are financially pampered for life so they’ll still be able to afford Christmas goodies next year whether they do anything worthwhile to advance the cause next month or not.

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection, and if these defeated schleps (the wishy-washy “moderate” ones at least) were worth anything to begin with they’d do serious soul-searching as to how they might’ve done better in this Congress by working harder to fund the border wall and have completed other work to provide incentives for Republicans and independents to reelect them. Democrats rode a wave of anti-Trump anger to victory a couple weeks ago but now the spotlight’s on them -- time will tell what they’ll do with the power.

Republicans have nothing to gain by putting off the wall issue until Democrats take charge. With the senate safely in Republican hands and budget matters subject to passage by reconciliation (requiring the lower 50-vote threshold) there’s a real opportunity to get voters’ attention at a time when Americans are wholeheartedly sick of politics and look to more personal and enjoyable pursuits to focus on.

Trump’s right, this is the perfect chance to do a government shutdown -- not only to spur the intransigent GOP establishment into action but also to provide a little payback for all the grief he's received from the mouths of the “moderates” and the ruling elites, many of whom openly opposed Trump’s election and were more than willing to supply insulting digs to the media while withholding votes for conservative agenda items simply to spite the president.

Would anyone truly care if Congress were kept in session until members and senators relent on the border wall? Democrats are dealing with their own problems these days – will they keep Pelosi as Speaker or go for someone new? – and they’ll hold out until kingdom come before delivering a single vote for Trump on anything.

Trump can send a message to the current and future congresses by withholding his signature from any budget bill that doesn’t offer reasonable provision for border security. Don’t count on Congress making it a priority in the next term – and any government shutdown coming next year will squarely be blamed on Trump. Democrats will try to fund all of their prized priorities and Republicans will be left holding the bag when something goes awry.

It might also set a fighting precedent for Republicans that they’ll desperately need should Democrats carry out their impeachment threats, too. Kyle Cheney reported at Politico, “One of Trump’s fiercest allies, Rep. Jim Jordan, on Friday began flirting openly with a bid to serve as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, the panel where a flood of Democratic-led investigations, and potential impeachment, will begin.

“’We’re still looking at it,’ the Ohio Republican said when asked whether he would run for the post. ‘I’ve always been one who’s going to fight to get the truth out no matter what role I have. So we’ll just wait and see.’

“Republicans' pick will be critical for Trump and his party. The new House Democratic majority has detailed a long list of targets for investigation, from Trump’s business entanglements to his decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey. Even after Republicans were routed in the midterms, GOP leaders are vowing to aggressively defend against Democratic probes, which they've labeled ‘presidential harassment.’”

Ever since Trump’s election Democrats have never felt the urge to withhold their over-the-top criticism and savage attacks. Democrats first tried to persuade potentially wavering members of the Electoral College to defy their constitutional duty and historical precedent to vote against the people’s choice. Then a good many Democrats (over 60) publicly boycotted Trump’s inaugural ceremony. They hooted and hollered about Russian collusion and Trump’s “corruption” even when there was zero evidence to back up any of their outlandish fantasies.

Along the way they’ve called Trump a racist, suggested he was anti-Semitic (even with a converted practicing Jewish daughter and three Jewish grandchildren), sexist and xenophobic because of his very practical and legally permissible travel ban from Muslim-majority hot spots around the globe. They’ve doubted his heart by shamelessly demanding gun control whenever a shooting incident occurs and questioned his mental fitness for office by repeatedly invoking the 25th Amendment as a possible grounds for removing him from office.

Democrats fanatically opposed nearly all of his cabinet appointments and have thrown the proverbial kitchen sink at his judicial nominees, dredging up wholly unsubstantiated claims of sexual abuse concerning now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh to further smear the Trump administration, insinuating the president tolerates and defends moral lepers to advance his deep and dark political agenda.

Democrats withheld their votes for the most salient aspects of Trump’s agenda, demagoguing healthcare, the budget and immigration reform to the point where “bipartisan” cooperation is no longer possible. They’ve stonewalled his attempts to strengthen law enforcement and battle illegal alien gangs. They’ve opposed his foreign policy agenda as well, accusing him of destroying relations with allies and foes alike and weakening our military through mistreatment of veterans.

All of this was done while Democrats were in the minority. What do you think will happen when liberals have the real investigative power come 2019?

Republicans would be crazy to choose anyone other than Jim Jordan to lead the opposition fight in the Judiciary committee. Perhaps the caucus was wary of elevating Jordan to serve as Minority Leader (preferring the establishment’s Kevin McCarthy as the next-in-line) but they should harbor no such reservations to giving Jordan a high-profile administration-defending position. Jordan is a regular in conservative media (and establishment media as well) circles, always providing straight-forward analysis of the situation at hand.

As a top athlete and loyal conservative Jordan understands the need to fight and win the battle of public opinion. Similar in style to President Trump, Jordan never shies away from an opportunity to lock horns with Democrats or members of the deep state. Jordan exposed the soft underbelly of Rod Rosenstein’s handling of the Mueller investigation and got down to the nitty gritty when interrogating FBI Trump-hater Peter Strzok.

Cheney’s article indicated Trump hopes Jordan will take over the job but stopped short of an outright endorsement. If the Republican steering committee (responsible for committee assignments) is smart they’ll anoint the Ohio congressman. What have they got to lose? Who would do a better job of defending the president and the party before his Democrat adversaries?

Speaking of defense, Democrats might be doing a little shielding of their own in the very near future, fighting off internal strife led by newly elected (and avowed socialist) congresswoman from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Again, Rick Moran reported at PJ Media, “Just because Democrats did well in the midterm elections doesn't mean that their civil war has ended. In fact, it's only just begun.

“A small group of ultra leftists decided to form an organization last year to reform the Democratic Party by pushing a radical socialist agenda and electing like-minded individuals to public office. They call themselves the ‘Justice Democrats’ and they're about to become a thorn in the side to establishment Democrats.

“The group received a huge lift with the election to Congress of the high-profile democratic socialist Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. Her chief of staff is going to be Saikat Chakrabarti, a co-founder of Justice Democrats, and both the newly elected congressman and her top aide are threatening to primary incumbent Democrats who don't agree with their agenda and/or are the wrong color.”

It'll be fascinating to witness how the establishment media addresses primary challenges to stodgy old white Democrats who no longer represent the current politically correct direction of things. The media treats all conservative Republican primary challengers as though they’re freaks with extra appendages or an uneven number of eyes, but with the leftist orientation of the Democrat party these days, primary strife could very well be encouraged by the pundits and talkers.

Helping matters is Ocasio-Cortez herself, an extremely camera-friendly young woman of proper “brown” ethnicity and social background to represent the new movement. The woman can hardly string together consecutive sentences without a blatant lie or truthful distortion, but since when does the media ever care about stuff like facts and historical verification?

The “Justice Democrats” could act as a Democrat version of Jim Jordan’s Freedom Caucus, serving as loyal internal opposition to party leaders from within. Ocasio-Cortez seems poised to assume leadership duties (of the group) though she hasn’t yet spent a minute in Congress and even suggested she can’t afford living quarters in the grossly-overpriced Washington DC metro region.

Too bad. Ocasio-Cortez will discover soon enough that operating in Congress is not the same as agitating on the campaign trail and Democrat leaders won’t take kindly to open conflict instigated by their own people. That’s not the way it works in Pelosi’s world where all Democrats are required to believe and desire the same things and be willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of togetherness to present a united front against the hated Trump and his conservative “deplorables” backers.

That’s why there are no John McCain-like “mavericks” in the Democrat party. These types were banished from the party long ago or were starved of money and committee influence. To be a contrarian in Democrat circles is tough and the survival rate ain’t high. The late “Beam me up Scotty” Rep. Jim Traficant was perhaps the last Democrat to deviate from today’s norm. And he went to prison for his troubles, a fate that could await Ocasio-Cortez if she heats the stove too hot and Democrat leaders get burned.

Heading into Thanksgiving, most Americans probably think the only thing they have to lose is a few pounds after the four-day holiday, but Republicans and Democrats face different dilemmas on the political front. The GOP would benefit from acting boldly…what have they got to lose?

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