Last Thursday, the House passed a bill for DC statehood. The cause has been around for at least 30 years. It’s got more energy right now because of the Democrat’s desire to break up Republican obstruction in the Senate.
The current 50-50 party split in the Senate means that 41 million more Americans are represented by Democrats than by Republicans, even though their number of seats is equal.
Republicans have argued that the bill is a Democratic “power grab”. Some GOP lawmakers agree with Democrats that DC residents should have representation in Congress but say they should become part of Maryland or Virginia, rather than having their own state. They also claim that DC has too small a population, even though it has more residents than both Wyoming and Vermont.
One of their grasping-at-straws arguments is that there’s not a car dealership in DC (actually, they sell Tesla’s). They also complain there isn’t an airport. But neither of those are prerequisites for statehood. On to cartoons.
Just another form of vote suppression:
Speaking of vote suppression, the GOP is on the march:
Sunrise, Owens Valley, CA – 2021 photo by tokalita
It has become obvious that the Senate Republicans plan to use the filibuster to block everything President Biden and the Democrats will try to do to make this country better. It means we’re looking at government gridlock for the next two years. Without some reform or elimination of the filibuster, we can only hope that Democrats can build a larger majority in the Senate. That’s unrealistic, given the political landscape.
“…the next 20 months will be a battle royal for control of the last two years of Biden’s term…”
For Democrats to do well in the 2022 mid-terms, it requires dealing with the Senate filibuster this year. Unless the Dems deal with it, a single Republican can continue to keep a bill blocked by doing nothing more than sending a memo.
The Republicans threaten that if the Dems eliminate the filibuster, the GOP will repeal or privatize Social Security and Medicare once they return to power.
At this point, Democrats should call the GOP’s bluff. If the GOP tries carrying through on their threats, they would be signing their political death warrants. And Democrats would simply promise to reenact those programs in full (possibly retroactively) once they returned to power.
While the above situation is sub-optimal, once the Dems are willing to call the bluff, the question is: What should they do about the filibuster? There are three choices: Eliminate it altogether, eliminate it just for another special case, as McConnell did with judges, or modify it by returning to a “talking filibuster”.
Eliminating it altogether seems unlikely with at least two Democratic Senators (Manchin and Sinema) saying they are against doing that. OTOH, maintaining it, while requiring an old-fashioned talking filibuster seems doable, since it’s supported by Biden, along with Sens. Manchin and Sinema.
A talking filibuster means that if the GOP ever achieves control of all three branches of government, while Democrats couldn’t prevent the enactment of the GOP agenda, they could make it front page news for several weeks while holding the Senate hostage in protest. In some cases, the minority might prevail, as Wrongo said here:
“When Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was minority leader, he used the filibuster in 2019 to block funding for construction of Trump’s border wall. Dems used it twice to impede passage of the Cares Act, forcing Republicans to agree to changes including a $600 weekly federal unemployment supplement. They used it to block legislation to force “sanctuary cities” to cooperate with federal officials, and to stop a prohibition on taxpayer funding of abortion.”
Wrongo also supports a limited removal of the filibuster for specific forms of legislation, like the new Voting Rights Act. As Sen. Ralph Warnock’s (D-GA) said in his maiden speech:
“…access to the ballot ought to be nonpartisan. I submit that there should be 100 votes in this chamber for policies that will make it easier for Americans to make their voices heard in our democracy. Surely, there ought to be at least 60 people in this chamber who believe, as I do, that the four most powerful words uttered in a democracy are, ‘the people have spoken,’ therefore we must ensure that all the people can speak.”
Passage of the Senate’s Bill S-1 (with changes) ought to be Biden’s highest priority. It is a key to preventing the efforts by Republicans to suppress the vote in the coming mid-terms. Meanwhile Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) has already threatened to filibuster S-1. That shows us all we need to know about the bill’s chances if the filibuster stays in place.
So, eliminate it for Voting Rights, or institute the talking filibuster. Going to a talking filibuster really doesn’t require anything inventive. It’s as simple as the Presiding Officer (VP Harris) announcing, after the failure of a cloture vote, “Debate will now resume on Senate Bill X,” rather than moving on to a separate Senate bill or adjourning.
Keep doing that for a week or two, and ultimately, a substantive vote on a possibly amended bill can be had.
Right now, the Senate’s rules are exactly what the GOP want: they were able to fill all the judicial vacancies left unfilled in the Obama years; plus, they filled all the new ones with right wing ideologues, all via simple majority.
Simply put, the Dems should enact laws that enable the kind of society we all want to live in. The Republicans have no vision for America. Their plan is to keep allowing corporations to skim what they can, while letting our infrastructure wear out.
They purposefully avoid legislation that could lead to an abundant future for America. And now, we’re worn out, hollow, and unable to pass laws to change our destiny.
Ruby Beach Overlook, Olympic NP, WA – 2021 photo by Erwin Buske
Back in pre-history or as Wrongo likes to call it, 2004, John Edwards said that there were two Americas. He was talking about social stratification and its pernicious impact on social cohesion in America.
Biden and Congress have just passed the American Recovery Plan into law. It provides a temporary assistance to many Americans, particularly for those in the two Americas who are struggling in our economy. As Wrongo said yesterday, although total wages are now at the level they were before the Covid recession, almost 10 million fewer Americans are working! If we are to be a healthy society, these people need jobs.
Listening to Republicans, there’s no money left in the piggy bank to fund the rest of what America needs to do. They say our debt is too high, and that it would be a terrible mistake to raise taxes on corporations or the wealthy to fund our needs.
Yet, something must be done about the disaster that is America’s infrastructure. Biden has said that improving and modernizing our infrastructure is a high priority for his administration. He campaigned on a $2 trillion infrastructure plan to create a:
“modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future.”
But there is a huge chasm between where we are and where we need to go. From the WaPo: (parenthesis by Wrongo)
“America can put a rover on Mars, but it can’t keep the lights on and water running in the city that birthed the modern space program (Houston). It can develop vaccines….to combat a world-altering illness but suffers one of the developed world’s highest death rates due to lack of prevention and care.”
America’s recent historic breakthroughs in science, medicine and technology coexist alongside monumental failures of infrastructure, public health, and education. More from the WaPo: (emphasis by Wrongo)
“The disparities reflect a multitude of factors…but primarily stem from a few big ones: Compared with other well-to-do nations, the US has tended to prioritize private wealth over public resources, individualism over equity and the shiny new thing over the dull but necessary task of maintaining its infrastructure, much of which is fast becoming a 20th century relic.”
One of our two Americas pays a heavier price for our politicians’ unwillingness to build new infrastructure. Yet politicians kick the can down the road, since higher taxes to fix things is rarely a winning political strategy.
From highways to airports, from internet access to schools, to the electric grid, our infrastructure isn’t distributed equally. Even in richer zip codes, infrastructure quality is uneven. The myth that America treats everyone equally regardless of race, color, or creed is as decrepit as our bridges and highways.
Americans used to be proud of their infrastructure. But since Reagan, Republicans have believed that government spending is a problem. Loving new roads, bridges and tunnels changed to outright suspicion when austerity became the Republican religion.
They are always willing to cut taxes by $trillions to further enrich wealthy people. But they scoff at building a high-speed rail network, a high-speed internet network, or an integrated electric grid. If you’ve ever traveled through a Chinese airport, or traveled by rail in Europe, you have experienced awesome infrastructure projects, things that are normal in most developed nations.
Yet in America, we’re far behind, mostly because Republicans put growing personal wealth ahead of supporting the public good. Much of this hurts the bottom half of the US population more than the top half. It hurts rural America more than urban and suburban America. Most suburbs are as modern and safe as any major city in Europe or Asia. Their public schools are modern and largely well-equipped.
None of these are true in rural or inner-city America.
The time has come to address infrastructure. At least some of it must be paid for by new taxes, even if that means zero Republican political support.
Time to wake up America! We can do better for both Americas by investing in education, infrastructure, and people. And we can give some of those 10 million long-term unemployed workers a new opportunity to succeed in a growing US economy.
To help you wake up, let’s go back to the 1980s, and listen to the Eurythmics do a live version of “Would I Lie to You”. High energy and lots of fun:
For a few weeks, Mitch McConnell has continued to control the Senate, even after the Democrats should have taken control. Because of the Senate’s arcane rules, he wasn’t prepared to give up power unless Chuck Schumer and his new majority promised to retain the filibuster.
Yes, you heard that right. Absent a power sharing agreement known as an organizing resolution that Wrongo wrote about here, McConnell stayed in charge. Schumer and McConnell needed to agree on a new set of rules, which are passed at the start of each new Senate term, to govern how the Senate operates.
The organizing resolution determines everything from committee assignments and staff budgets, to who gets the best office space.
McConnell’s calculation was simple. Not only was preserving the filibuster, something that Republicans could use to control the Democrats’ agenda, it was something that they could unify behind. It was also something that divided Democrats, many of whom want to see it discarded immediately in order to advance their legislative agenda.
But on Monday, McConnell said he was ready to move forward, because Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WVA) signaled informally that they wouldn’t vote to end the filibuster. That assures McConnell that it will remain in place, at least for the time being.
Governing in the Senate will take 60 votes to move forward, potentially assuring gridlock on much of the Democrat’s agenda. It’s another example of how the filibuster rules all without even being officially invoked.
The longest filibuster ever held in the US Senate was 60 days in 1964 to prevent the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The House ended the use of a filibuster in 1842. The filibuster was created when there were just 26 states in the Union. It’s a tool of obstruction. It doesn’t encourage debate, it doesn’t allow for more voices to be heard.
“GOP senators can have a voice in the outcome if they engage in good faith. But they have to realize that “compromise” doesn’t mean “Republicans win and Democrats lose.” Not anymore.”
Both Pelosi and Schumer know damn well who McConnell is at this point. They know that winning votes in the 2022 Congressional races will be directly connected to beating Covid through better public health policy and vaccinations. More from Robinson:
“A better way to seek unity is to vigorously pursue policies that have broad public support — and that begin to clean up the shambles the Biden administration inherits. Democrats may have slim majorities, but they have been given a mandate to lead.”
“I think the budget resolution will be up next week,”
Reconciliation starts with passing a budget resolution for the coming fiscal year. In that budget resolution, they need to include special budget directives or instructions:
“To start the reconciliation process, the House and Senate must agree on a budget resolution that includes “reconciliation directives” for specified committees. Under the Congressional Budget Act, the House and Senate are supposed to adopt a budget resolution each year to establish an overall budget plan and set guidelines for action on spending and revenue.”
It can then go directly to the Senate floor without a committee markup under a provision of the 1974 law that created the modern budget process.
Democrats would be following a precedent laid down in early 2017 when Republicans who controlled the Senate, House and White House attempted to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act. At that time, the Senate Budget chairman, Michael B. Enzi, (R-WY), wrote a fiscal 2017 skinny budget resolution including reconciliation instructions with the goal of repealing the law.
Instead of the Senate marking up the budget, it was discharged from the committee and went straight to the floor where the Senate adopted it.
The Biden relief package may be whittled down, possibly broken into a few pieces. But it must pass, even if it takes budget reconciliation to do it.
The Democrats have inherited a broken country. There are huge expectations resting on them, while the 2022 midterms aren’t looking favorable at this point. That means they have to accomplish a lot, while the GOP only has to sit on its hands.
Democrats have to rise to the urgency of the moment by passing legislation no matter what it takes.
Many lawmakers have already gotten their first vaccine shots. Good for them! Most of us would take it on the first day they could get it too. But it’s wrong that they’re getting shots while (at least at the time of writing this) they haven’t passed a COVID relief bill. And is there a better metaphor for Trump’s presidency than this story from NPR?
“For….six years, the ghost of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino has haunted the boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J…..But not for long: The…eyesore is scheduled for demolition late next month, and the city is offering…the opportunity to bring it down….”
“We are selling the experience to push the button to implode Trump Plaza…”
There will be a bidding war for the right to implode Trump’s failed casino, just nine days after Trump leaves office. Atlantic City mayor Marty Small:
“…on his way out, Donald Trump openly mocked Atlantic City, saying he made a lot of money and then got out….I wanted to use the demolition of this place to raise money for charity.”
Trump persuaded the Republican Party and enough Americans that he was a genius businessman based on hype and his stupid TV show. While Trump was pretending to be a real estate big shot with a game show, his Atlantic City three-casino empire died. Information about his business failures was out there. But people didn’t want to believe it. Now after four years, America’s imploding. Pathetic. On to cartoons.
Will help arrive in time?
Will the new gifts for the season arrive on time?
Trump fails transitions:
Republican wish list for Santa:
The new hackers will control everything:
Mitch goes back to what he does best:
It didn’t take long for a chorus of Republicans to find a stupid non-issue to sing about:
The Democrats are soul-searching about why they can’t win the US rural vote. Many believe the Democrats underperformed in fly-over America, and they’re asking (again) if rural America is lost to them forever.
According to the Economic Innovation Group, the rural Midwest counties Biden won had population growth that averaged 1.8% over the past 10 years, while counties Trump won saw an average population decline of 2.5%:
“…16 rural counties flipped from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020…12 flipped from Clinton in 2016 to Trump in 2020.”
So, not much change. Over the past 50 years, the Midwest has seen out-migration, economic stagnation, young people leaving and small towns withering. They turned rightward and have largely stayed there. Is rural America worth fighting for?
Estimates of rural populations across the US suggest roughly 20% of Americans live in them. Rural areas are not exclusive to states that gave all their electors to Trump. New York and California have plenty of rural spaces and voters. Wrongo’s county in Democratic Connecticut is largely rural, and voted for Trump in 2016 and by a lower margin in 2020.
Yet, given the Electoral College, it is difficult to fashion a durable political majority if Democrats write off most of exurban and rural America. Let’s briefly look at Iowa and Wisconsin.
In Iowa, Trump won the state by 8.3 percentage points this year. GW Bush won in 2004 by 0.7 percentage points. He was the first GOP presidential candidate to carry Iowa in 20 years. Obama won with 54% in 2008 and 52% in 2012. Trump won with 51.7% in 2016, and with 53% in 2020.
Trump carried 93 rural counties, while Biden carried all six of Iowa’s urban counties. Republicans now represent all or parts of 97 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
Wisconsin flipped to blue by six-tenths of a percentage point. Biden won in 14 counties. From Martin Longman at Progress Pond:
“Wisconsin’s Dunn County is in the central part of the state, over 96% white, and represented by Democrat Ron Kind in Congress. Not far from Eau Claire, the rural area voted for Barack Obama twice, but in 2016 Donald Trump won it with 52% to 41%, a 2,000-vote advantage over Hillary Clinton. In 2020, running against Joe Biden, Trump carried Dunn County 56-42, giving him a 3,300-vote edge.”
Bill Hogseth, the chair of the county’s Democratic Party, wrote a piece for Politico Magazine, explaining that the national Democratic Party doesn’t take rural issues seriously enough to get support from rural Wisconsinites. From Hogseth:
“For Democrats to start telling a story that resonates, they need to show a willingness to fight for rural people, and not just by proposing a “rural plan” or showing up on a farm for a photo op…A big step forward for Democrats would be to champion antitrust enforcement and challenge the anticompetitive practices of the gigantic agribusiness firms that squeeze our communities. In his rural plan, Biden pledged to “strengthen antitrust enforcement,” but the term doesn’t appear until the 35th bullet point. For rural voters, antitrust enforcement is a top priority…”
Hogseth is talking about Democratic neglect. Elizabeth Warren made anti-trust and the breakup of big companies’ part of her primary campaign. That’s good policy, and if it helps win some rural votes, even better.
Republicans aren’t talking about anti-monopoly anywhere in America. A generous Farm Bill channeled money into rural areas and the Trump administration’s trade relief payments to farmers have helped maintain rural Republican support. Hogseth says Democratic neglect leaves:
“…an opening for other stories to be told to fill the vacuum—stories that villainize and divide us along racial, geographic and partisan lines.”
People don’t make decisions based solely on a rational analysis, or on self-interest. They don’t believe in the Democrats’ promises to improve things, because Dems haven’t delivered on them in the past 40 years. They need a villain to blame. Trump, and the GOP (and every other nationalist movement in history) gives them just that.
The center-left should be rejoicing, but their down-ballot results are a cause for concern. Today, Democrats are fighting about whether they should be more progressive, or remain moderate going forward.
One reason that Trump got 74+ million votes was because Democrats never mobilized the working class against him. Instead, they mobilized to win suburbia. That gave Biden the presidency, but it also keeps our enduring governmental gridlock in place.
Time to relax a bit on this December Saturday. Today, Connecticut is waiting on a snow storm that in typical nor’easter fashion, could dump 10+ inches, or miss us entirely.
Still, we have time to take a few minutes, turn away from our email, and listen to Harpist Silke Aichhorn play Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” from his Nutcracker Suite. It was written as a ballet in 1892, and has been enjoyed around the holidays ever since:
(The Wrongologist is taking a summer vacation starting today. We will return on August 9th. Wrongo urges all readers to also take a break. Got to get ready for the silly season that starts soon.)
Time to talk 2020 census. The Census Bureau’s follow-up visits to non-responding households were originally scheduled to begin in early May, but they were delayed by a freeze on census field operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April, the Trump administration asked Congress to extend the deadlines for the Census Bureau to turn in their head count data. The Census Bureau independently postponed finishing field operations for the census from the end of July to the end of October.
The House agreed to the extensions, but the Senate hasn’t. Senate Republicans on Monday instead proposed additional funding as part of their HEAL bill to help conclude the census on time, without extending the deadline.
The Census Bureau is required to turn over numbers for apportioning Congressional seats by Dec. 31, and the numbers to be used for redrawing state and local legislative districts by March 30. The requested deadline extensions would push back the apportionment deadline to April 30 for Congress, and to July 31 for state and local districts.
The politics of these decisions are clear. Trump no longer wants a deadline extension, and he doesn’t want undocumented residents counted at all.
The timing of Trump’s memorandum excluding the undocumented and his abandonment of the request to push back the reporting deadlines suggests that the White House wants to ensure that the numbers are undercounted. Also, that Trump receives the apportionment numbers while he’s still in office so they can be fixed if necessary.
House Democrats are wary of what they see as Trump’s attempts to politicize the 2020 census, and want the Senate Republicans to approve the request for deadline extensions. That would mean there’s a chance the final months of the data-crunching would take place under a Biden administration, assuming Biden defeats Trump in November.
“Among those who say they have not participated in the census, 40% say they would not be willing to talk to a census worker who came to the door…”
The 40% breaks down into 16% who say they’re unwilling to talk to the Census people at all, and 24% say they are not very willing to speak with them.
So, what does it all mean for apportioning Congressional seats?
The job is to use the census data to equitably assign the House’s 435 seats to the 50 states. The first 50 seats are automatically assigned, one per state. A series of formulas called the method of Equal Proportions is used to divide up the remaining 385 seats among the states on the basis of their populations. The method of Equal Proportions was first used to apportion House seats in 1940 and has been used ever since.
The apportionment population of a state is defined as all persons residing in the state as of April 1, plus all American military and civilian personnel of the federal government and their dependents from that state who were residing abroad.
At the last census in 2010, the states receiving the largest number of seats were California with 53; Texas with 36 seats, and then Florida and New York with 27 apiece. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming each received only one seat, the one they are granted automatically.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia did a preliminary estimate of how the House seats will be distributed once the 2020 census is in. It obviously is a projection, but the results are shown on this map:
Of the 10 states projected to lose one House seat each in 2020, only two are red states. Of the seven states projected to gain House seats in 2020, six are red states.
If the 2020 apportionment followed Trump’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants, this would be the outcome:
Eight states will lose nine seats with California leading the way. Seven of the eight seats lost would be in blue states.
Seven states would gain nine seats: Texas and Florida would gain two each. Six of the gains would be in red states.
Remember that a state’s votes in the Electoral College are equal to its seats in Congress. It’s not hard to see why Trump wants an undercount that favors Texas and Florida.
Joshua Tree NP CA, in snow – December 2019 photo by chase_embrace
Have you been watching the impeachment extravaganza? It’s a mind-numbing exercise that’s difficult to take in large doses. That was probably Mitch McConnell’s plan. There are a few revelations though. One is the work of Adam Schiff, (D-CA) who is the lead House manager for the impeachment trial.
Josh Marshall at TPM says that Schiff’s job is to put the Senate on trial, and put Republican senators in a box that they can’t climb out of in November:
“Adam Schiff… [is] making a really convincing, damning set of arguments about all the accusations the President’s lawyers are denying while they simultaneously refuse to release records which would quickly confirm and refute those accusations.
These are cases in which we know there are contemporaneous notes or other records. The answers are there. But they refuse to release them. It is a damning indictment not only of the President but even more his Senate accomplices.”
The Senate Republicans swore an oath to be jurors, but they want to keep all of the proof secret. So, Schiff and the other House managers are making it clear that it is the Senate Republicans that are really on trial. The weakness for Republicans is that this is the first Senate trial held in defiance of the principle of shared facts and evidence.
Republican Senators are not paying close attention to Schiff and the others. All Senators are supposed to be in attendance and listening, but a few, mainly on the Republican side, are openly flaunting the rule. Dana Milbank’s column in the WaPo:
“Just minutes into the session, as lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) presented his opening argument for removing the president, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) displayed on his desk a hand-lettered message with big block letters pleading: “S.O.S.” In case that was too subtle, he followed this later with another handwritten message pretending he was an abducted child: “THESE R NOT MY PARENTS!”
See, it’s all just a joke, presided over by the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Hell, Trump said out loud at Davos that he’s withholding evidence: (brackets by Wrongo)
“I got to watch enough [of the Senate trial] — I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”
The second article of impeachment is obstruction of Congress by withholding witnesses and documents. Trump confessed to it on live TV to reporters, and Senate Republicans don’t care.
Wrongo’s been waiting for Republicans to pay a significant price for their lying, hypocrisy, constant defiance of the rule of law, and disrespect for our institutions, norms, and Constitution, ever since the days of St. Ronnie.
“In a way, it’s something the Democrats are getting used to. From the hanging chads in Florida in 2000 to the Electoral College loss in 2016, the Republicans make a living winning despite losing. They’ve become dependent on cheating and rigging the rules of the game, and they’re experts at it at this point.”
The impeachment trial Kabuki play is no different. The GOP is gleefully waiting out the ceremonial “trial” in order to deliver their pre-ordained verdict.
Is it just Wrongo, or does it seem like America is screwed beyond redemption? If, by some cosmic quirk, Democrats one day hold the Presidency and both Houses of Congress, anything they attempt to do that does not align with Republican orthodoxy will end up being decided by one of McConnell’s right-wing courts.
You can expect that they will find a way to tie up, or simply negate anything the savior Congress tries to do. Will some great leader show up? Does the current crop of Democratic candidates have anyone able to make the case for wholesale change?
Do any of them have coattails sufficient to win the Senate?
Wrongo proposes that we think about Adam Schiff as the Democratic Presidential nominee. Sure, you think it’s too late, but is it really?
Here’s what the WaPo’s conservative writer Jennifer Rubin said about Schiff’s opening statement: (emphasis by Wrongo)
“And that is what the trial is about. It’s about making clear to the entire country that Trump did exactly what he is accused of, but that his own party, suffering from political cowardice and intellectual corruption, do not have the nerve to stop him. If that is the goal — prove Trump’s guilt and Republicans’ complicity — Schiff hit a grand slam. And we have days more of evidence to hear.”
He’s someone who can make a tightly reasoned argument. He’s well-spoken, and knows Constitutional history. He’s a liberal from a liberal state, and at 60, he’s not a geezer.
We need to remember the history of how Democrats created the Mitch we have. To do that, we must go back to November 21, 2013. Here’s the WaPo from that day: (emphasis by Wrongo)
“Senate Democrats took the dramatic step Thursday of eliminating filibusters for most nominations by presidents, a power play they said was necessary to fix a broken system but one that Republicans said will only rupture it further.
Democrats used a rare parliamentary move to change the rules so that federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments can advance to confirmation votes by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has been the standard for nearly four decades.
The immediate rationale for the move was to allow the confirmation of three picks by President Obama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — the most recent examples of what Democrats have long considered unreasonably partisan obstruction by Republicans.”
Back then, the main combatants were Harry Reid (D-NV) the Majority Leader, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The vote for the “nuclear option” was 52 to 48, with all but three Democrats backing the move, and every Republican opposing it. After the vote, Obama said that Republicans had turned nomination fights into a “reckless and relentless tool” to grind the gears of government to a halt and noted that “neither party has been blameless for these tactics.” But, he said, “today’s pattern of obstruction…just isn’t normal; it’s not what our founders envisioned.”
Fast forward to 2019. The Senate is split 53-47 now, with the Republicans in charge. Mitch has used Harry Reid’s rule change to appoint two Supreme Court justices, 50 appeals court judges, and 120 district court judges in less than three years.
Today, 20% of judges on all of the federal courts, and 25% on the appeals courts are Trump appointees. On the same day that Trump was impeached, the Senate confirmed 13 new district court judges.
Suddenly, Democrats are waking up to the reality that Trump’s judges will shape American law with a conservative bias for 30-40 years to come.
We can blame Harry Reid and Barack Obama for not thinking ahead.
You ought to be thinking ahead to the weekend, and all of the little things that you need to do so that Santa can do his job next week. It’s at least as challenging a task as locating the missing Trump Impeachment.
Before you shift into drive and start on that big to-do list, it’s time for a Saturday Soother, a brief few moments when you relax, and try to center yourself in the calm before the storm.
Start by brewing up a mug of Coffee and Chicory coffee ($6.70/15oz.) from New Orleans’ own Café Du Monde. Now sit back in a comfy chair and watch and listen to a Holiday Season flash mob by the US Air Force Band at the National Air and Space Museum in 2013:
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
“President Trump has paid $2 million to eight charities as part of a settlement in which the president admitted he misused funds raised by the Donald J. Trump Foundation to promote his presidential bid and pay off business debts, the New York State attorney general said on Tuesday.”
“We should stop the current impeachment deliberations in Washington, because we know all that we need to know right now. An American president who defrauds veterans has met the bar of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’. We shouldn’t need any more testimony about bribery and extortion of a foreign power.”
While the fraud was committed before Trump became president, it is by itself, the greatest presidential crime in American history. And the case has already been decided in front of a judge. In the end, the president admitted in court documents that he had used the foundation’s money to settle legal obligations of his businesses, and to purchase a portrait of himself.
Trump also used the charity to boost political campaigns — first, Pamela Bondi’s Florida attorney general campaign, and then his own 2016 campaign. Trump gave away Trump Foundation checks onstage at rallies, despite strict rules barring nonprofit charities from participating in political campaigns.
Trump settled the case, because the alternative would have been litigation that would have exposed parts of his finances. Think about what his finances look like when his lawyers tell him that the better option is to admit that he stole $2 million from American veterans.
As part of the settlement, Trump’s adult children; Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump all of whom were on the board of the foundation although they never met to discuss its operations, will have to take training to make sure they don’t make similar missteps in the future. That’s a minor wrist-slap.
This story was reported by major outlets but it doesn’t seem to have made a dent in the public consciousness. You’d think a story about $2 million worth of admitted presidential crimes would break through the noise but there’s always competition. Today, it’s a possible trade deal, the ongoing impeachment inquiry and Boris Johnson winning in the UK.
Nobody really cares. Outrage fatigue is a real thing. After a while, you just get worn down and become numb to the next headline. His admission of fraud would have ended any other presidency. But for him, it was Tuesday. Maybe the red hats are immune to outrage fatigue.
The Dem’s impeachment strategy is a farce, as will be the Senate’s “show trial”. Impeaching him will happen by a straight Party line vote, followed by the Senate’s acquittal by a Party line vote by the other Party. This means that both houses of Congress are a farce.
OTOH, not impeaching him would also be a farce. Because not impeaching someone who has done the things Trump has done, someone who makes a mockery of the law every day he’s in office, would make the rule of law a farce as well.
Defrauding veterans is something that the public can understand, and can get angry about. It’s not complicated, most citizens won’t be able to tune it out. His counter argument is weak, despite incessant talking about the Clinton foundation.
These things are not equal. This isn’t a “both sides” situation.
Democrats should be shouting about this every day until November, 2020. This is an arrow right at the heart of Trump’s base: Those purported law and order, military-loving people who populate his rallies. It’s indefensible, and it’s unlikely they will take kindly to his being guilty of defrauding veterans.
Remember when the Republicans were the “Party of Principle“?
Have we seen anything from them (or from Trump) that makes you think that they truly believe in providing a safety net? They think that the primary benefit of charitable giving is to telegraph their relatively high position in society compared to that of the needy.
Conservatives have always used their supposed morality as a cudgel to beat others. Alleviating suffering isn’t really important. They like the “virtue signaling”. That is, feigned righteousness intended to make the speaker appear superior by condemning others.