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It's a truth that should be self-evident: If you are emasculated by a balloon, you weren't so tough to begin with. Last week, a balloon that U.S. officials believe to be a Chinese surveillance device was spotted floating over Montana, likely to take pictures of military assets. In the grown-up world where President Joe Biden and Democrats live, this was a situation that called for a thoughtful, careful response. While displeased with the predicament, adults recognized that freaking out was not the answer. Instead, they waited until the balloon wasn't a direct threat to people and property underneath and shot it down over the ocean.
Meanwhile, Republicans — many in elected office who could be doing something useful with their time — saw the Chinese balloon as an opportunity for cringeworthy tough guy cosplay. Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance was just one of many, many Republicans who spent the Days of the Chinese Balloon ping-ponging between performative hysterics and childish games of dress-up where they pretended they were somehow going to shoot the balloon down.
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Truly, it's an insult to call this "cosplay." People who dress up like Thor at a comic book convention don't actually imagine someone mistakes them for a godlike superhero. But Republicans genuinely seem to think waving a gun around impotently at the sky while in a panic over a balloon somehow shows they are tough guys and Biden is not.
In truth, the whole debacle really just illustrated the opposite: Republicans are the epitome of overcompensation.
The gun-waving does not hide, but rather highlights how they are small, fearful, and painfully insecure —especially, it seems, when it comes to masculinity. The GOP is a political party singularly devoted to trying to shore up the fragile egos of a bunch of dudes who suspect everyone knows they aren't as manly as they claim to be.
Leading the pack, of course, was the small-fingered phony tough guy himself, Donald Trump.
"The Chinese would never have floated the Blimp ('Balloon') over the United States if I were President!!!" he screeched on his fake Twitter site, Truth Social.
Republicans genuinely seem to think waving a gun around impotently at the sky while in a panic over a balloon somehow shows they are tough guys.
Presumably, we're meant to believe his elaborate combover and spray tan would have created a manliness force field that repelled all floating objects. But, of course, it's a lie, as Jonathan Karl of ABC News reminded Sen. Marco "Once Pretended To Like Rap" Rubio, R-Fla., when he echoed Trump's lie on-air. In reality, U.S. officials claim the Chinese sent three balloons into U.S. airspace during Trump's presidency, none of which were shot down.
Trump reacted to this reminder like he always does, like a 5-year-old denying he's the one who drew kitty cat pictures on the wall on crayon, taking to Truth Social again to rave.
"China had too much respect for 'TRUMP' for this to have happened, and it NEVER did."
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That Republican voters mistake this man for John Wayne really showcases how it's a party built around the childish insecurities of people who really should be old enough to know better but who continue to confuse belligerence for grit.
The GOP is obviously a party of cowards who are constantly jumping at shadows. It's become exhausting to watch even an hour of Fox News and the long, long lists of all the things they expect their audiences to live in fear of, from "antifa" and Black Lives Matter to kids reading books with gay characters to big cities to transgender people to women who say rude things about anti-choice judges to "wokeness" to refugees seeking political asylum. They've complained when candy cartoons changed their shoe preference, Mr. Potato Head became just "Potato Head," women joined the Ghostbusters, people dyed their hair pink or purple and popular songs referenced female sexual arousal.
Of course, as fun as it is to laugh at these fools, there's a very real dark side to the politics of overcompensation. Quislings who want to pretend they're tough often do so in the most despicable way possible: Finding someone smaller to beat up on.
The first rule of MAGA: Never, ever pick on someone your own size.
As Melissa Ryan writes in the CtrlAltRightDelete newsletter, what really defines the MAGA base is that they "crave an authoritarian government that will punish their enemies" and "beat down vulnerable populations." So it's no surprise that they follow Trump, who bragged on tape about how he uses his status as a rich celebrity to sexually assault women, most of whom probably weigh less than half what he does. Or that they idolize Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who picks his targets mainly based on how powerless they are, which is why he's so focused on snatching books out of the hands of schoolchildren. Or that their new hero, Rep. George Santos, is a con man accused of stealing from old women and defrauding a disabled veteran. Or that they make excuses for the violence of David DePape, who is accused of trying to murder the elderly husband of then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Perhaps the most pitch-perfect illustration of what MAGA is all about came during Trump's presidency when he hid in a bunker in the White House while police tear-gassed peaceful protesters outside. Unlike those protesters, Trump has no physical courage of his own. He is such a weenie that he couldn't even stand to walk outside where he'd be heckled by the crowd of unarmed, peaceful protesters. But he feigned strength by sending someone else to enact violence for him — on a group of people who couldn't defend themselves, naturally. The first rule of MAGA: Never, ever pick on someone your own size.
This Chinese balloon nonsense is just the silliest iteration of this mentality. Shooting it down prematurely only meant risking civilian lives. Of course, the same sociopathic Republicans who discourage COVID-19 vaccinations don't care how many people they get killed for their political theatrics. In grown-up land, however, you don't go crushing innocent people to death in an impotent display of anger towards a helium-fueled spy machine that likely gathered less data than TikTok does by the minute. But Republicans don't care about the hard-nosed choices actual adults make. All they care about is masculinity make-believe, no matter what the cost.
At 9:00 PM President Joe Biden will deliver his State of the Union Address, informing the American people most likely that the "state of our union is strong," but First Lady Jill Biden will also be speaking to the American people, via a lengthy and carefully-crafted list of guests she and the White House have invited, in full sight of the tens of millions of people expected to watch – and the Republicans in the room.
Dr. Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will host the White House's 26 guests, who are a representation of the Democrats' wider agenda, including some of the left's most important battles and achievements. The White House in a statement Tuesday said, "Each of these individuals were invited by the White House because they personify issues or themes to be addressed by the President in his speech, or they embody the Biden-Harris Administration’s policies at work for the American people. "
Guests include a married same-sex couple who helped make Massachusetts the first state to legalize marriage equality in 2004. A hero who stopped a mass shooter from killing even more people. The mother and step-father of Tyre Nichols. A pregnant woman who nearly died because of Texas' abortion ban. A DREAMer. A cancer-survivor. A caregiver to a Navy combat veteran. A mother whose son battled lead poisoning due to contaminated drinking water. A member of Navajo Nation and Registered nurse who is working to provide medical care and cancer treatment. Parents of a survivor of pediatric cancer. The Ambassador of Ukraine. A 10th grade computer-integrated manufacturing student. A father who lost his 20-year old daughter to a fentanyl overdose. And more, including Bono.
Paul Pelosi, the husband to now-former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, will be by Dr. Jill Biden's side. Republicans, including several expected to be sitting in the same room, mocked him when a Trump-supporting right-wing extremist and conspiracy theorist took a hammer to the 82-year old's head, causing a "near-fatal" injury on October 28. Should President Biden mention Mr. Pelosi in his speech, Republican response would no doubt be attention-grabbing.
In its statement Tuesday the White House makes its intent clear: "The attack reportedly was politically motivated, with the intruder’s alleged intent to harm and kidnap the former Speaker. According to court filings, the intruder confronted Mr. Pelosi, asking 'Where’s Nancy?,' a similar chant of those responsible for the January 6th Capitol insurrection."
President Biden appears to have taken the assault on Paul Pelosi very seriously. On November 1, he slammed Republicans, painting their refusal to condemn bad actors and bad actions as part of a much larger problem in America.
"I've been talking to Nancy Pelosi" about the attack on her husband, Biden said. "And look at the response—the so-called response from Republicans, making jokes about it and/or saying, "Well, you know, it's not because of what's being said and not said.'"
When "unstable people...hear every single day these outrageous lies—these outrageous lies across the board about everything; when they look at the internet and see what's being said, stated and talk about, you know, where we keep children in basements to molest them and all these kinds of things—look what's happened. And think however this guy is demonizing LBGTQ [LGBTQ]* population. Think how his opponent is demonizing anyone who disagrees with him," he said.
"And so you wonder why—how this guy came breaking into Paul—and Paul is a friend, as—as is Nancy. I've known them for years and years," Biden continued.
"And nobody on that party condemns it for exactly what it is. Says it's not because when I made a comment about this is to be expected when you have leaders of the other party condoning the kind of conduct that is—that I've just discussed and others."
Last year 38.2 million people watched President Biden's State of the Union Address. These 26 people may be silent but together they will speak volumes about the agenda he has created.
An attorney representing former President Donald Trump on Tuesday launched what Law & Crime News reporter Adam Klasfeld described as a "charm offensive" on a judge who had previously shown little patience for the Trump legal team's arguments.
According to Klasfeld, attorney Joe Tacopina tried to ease tensions between Trump's legal team and U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is overseeing the civil lawsuit filed against Trump by E. Jean Carroll.
Among other things, Tacopina promised that there would be no more stalling tactics of the kinds that Trump's legal team has become famous for employing and he said he was ready to go to trial with the case, although he did ask for a brief delay to the start of the trial so he could witness the birth of his grandchild.
Judge Kaplan did not issue an immediate ruling on Tacopina's request, although the judge did indicate respect for the attorney , who has represented clients in his court in the past.
The new strategy being used by Tacopina to smooth things over with Kaplan comes just a month after the judge smacked down the Trump legal team's "absurd" bid to get the Carroll lawsuit tossed out.
Trump's attorneys had tried to argue that the law Carroll was using to sue him, called the New York Adult Survivors Act, was unconstitutional on the grounds that it supposedly denied him due process under the law.
Kaplan, however, was having none of it.
"To suggest that the ASA violates the state Due Process Clause because the legislature supposedly did not describe that injustice to the defendant’s entire satisfaction in a particular paragraph of a particular type of legislative document – itself a dubious premise – is absurd,” wrote Kaplan.