Surfing the Blue Wave

With each passing day, more and more corruption in the Trump administration is revealed. And there are more and more examples of Trump’s unsuitability for office. Social movements from student demonstrations against gun violence to teachers’ strikes are all over the news. More and more members of the administration, and Republicans in Congress, are leaving. Those on the Left politically have to be happy about their prospects for the mid-terms.

But Election Day is six months away. That’s a long time. It can be too easy to lose momentum or become complacent, and if one hopes to at least check the worst excesses of the current administration, that could lead to disaster.

What’s a Democrat / Liberal / Leftist to do?

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The Race to the Bottom

Opening Day for the baseball season is tomorrow – which means all the sports journalists have come out with their power rankings and predictions for the season. It’s pretty easy to choose who the division winners are going to be. With the exception of the American League East (which has two – the Yankees and the Red Sox), each division has just one powerhouse team that should have no problems running away with their flag.

That’s just how the game has turned out these past few years. Sure, a few teams can sneak in to the playoffs via the wild card, but even there you don’t have more than a couple of teams capable of doing that. Most teams are mediocre at best, with no chance of getting anywhere.

And however it happened, the current economic situation has actually encouraged – at least it hasn’t actively discouraged – poor teams from giving up and selling or trading off the few good players they might have in the hope of getting a bunch of good prospects or draft choices.

With the pennant races virtually decided even before the first shout of “Play Ball”, the real races to watch are the ones for last place. Will the crappy teams do the honorable thing and try to win as many games as they can, or make the good business decision to “tank” and hope for the best in the off-season?

Here are my choices for the worst teams in every division (and how they might actually pull off a miracle):

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Now Comes the Hard Part

Congratulations!

You’ve marched and protested and demonstrated. You’ve gotten great coverage in the local and national press, and even international news has noticed.

It might be tempting to just sit back contentedly and watch as your efforts achieve their intended results. But there’s still a lot of work to be done. Marches alone didn’t bring integration, as Barry McGuire sang.

There’s a tendency to look at the March on Washington in 1963 as an example of how a march can lead to change. But in that instance, the march was the culmination of well over a decade of laying the groundwork, building alliances, and coming up with a clear set of goals.

By the time people gathered in DC, everything was already in place socially and politically. The march itself wouldn’t have accomplished anything if the ground hadn’t been prepared ahead of time.

Now, you’ve got society on your side (for the most part). Surveys show that most Americans agree on a set of basic laws for reducing gun violence, there are plenty of organizations on your side, and even corporations are starting to take notice. It’s time to get the politicians to come out on your side.

While fighting in DC is what gets the big headlines, that’s also where you’re going to get the most resistance. State capitols, on the other hand, tend to fly under the national radar. And some states have already passed the sort of legislation you’re calling for. Connecticut didn’t wait much after Sandy Hook to pass a package of gun control rules – and they worked. Gun deaths dropped significantly in that state. Get state governments on your side, and the federal government will have to fall in line.

I also see that you’re already being slandered by your opponents. Ignore those losers; they know they can’t win a fair fight.

It’s going to be a long slog over the months ahead. The hardest part will be to never lose faith, never lose hope, and to never give up.

How Else Do You Explain It?

Last week, we witnessed one of the biggest farces in recent memory with the release of the Nunes Memo. Intended to prove that the Mueller Investigation was compromised because the document that spurred the investigation was a partisan attack, it actually showed the exact opposite.

One continues to see all manner of windbaggery claiming that the entire investigation into the president and his campaign’s ties to Russia is nothing more than a treasonous witch hunt. While it is still remotely possible for it to turn out to be a great “nothingburger”, I have yet to see anyone put forth an alternate explanation for the events of the past year or so.

Anyone trying to claim that the Russian Collusion theory is false needs to answer some questions:

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Dear Senator Gillibrand

Congratulations!

You have successfully rid the Senate of that notorious serial groper and sexual deviant Al Franken!

No longer will the women (and men too, presumably) of those august halls live in abject fear of running into someone who stood accused of being a little too “hands on” during photo ops over seven years ago! Even though his current staff and former co-workers have no ill to speak of him, being a former “dirty old man” makes one obviously unsuitable for even the smallest role in the Federal Government!

You can take pride in knowing that you have done your country a great service. Even though Mr. Franken was one of the sharpest interrogators in Senate hearings and a bastion of feminist and Democratic principles, one has to draw a line!

While you may be tempted to consider this a job well done and look forward to a relaxing holiday season, I urge that you do not put your weapons away just yet.

Infamous (accused, to be fair) child molester and general creep Roy Moore just might be sent by the people of Alabama to represent them in the same Senate that you have just finished purging. Be ready to lead the charge against him should it prove necessary!

And then, keep your Sword of Righteousness at hand! Consider these bouts as training for the biggest target: the self-confessed “Pussygrabber-in-Chief” Donald Trump. Surely, if Franken had to go, Trump should be shown the door, too?

Yours,

A Constituent

p.s. I hope you’ll remember to help with the campaign next year. A safe Senate seat for Democrats through 2020 is now up for grabs next year!

The Outrage Factor

These past few weeks have seen a lot of creepy guys getting called out on the carpet for their crappy treatment of women. Harvey Weinstein got what he deserved, Kevin Spacey was outed, an accused child molester is running for the Senate in Alabama, even Sen. Al Franken got caught with his hands where they should not have been. El Presidente still has a reputation for grabbing women, and former president Bill Clinton is being raked over the coals again by some for his past personal affairs.

It’s getting so common that you can’t tell what to be outraged about anymore.

As it happens, I think I’ve come up with a formula that can help you decide what to be outraged over, and how much outrage to give it.

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Investigations, Indictments, and Impeachment

There was a brief bit of excitement as the first round of indictments came out of Robert Muller’s investigation a few days ago. Some on The Left started doing a happy dance, hoping that this was just the beginning, and the dragnet would very shortly close in around the president and force the start of the impeachment process.

Well, it’s not that simple. There’s still a lot more to do and uncover, and even then it might not be enough for an impeachment. Sure, Trump’s sympathies (such as they are) are pro-Russia. But that, in and of itself, isn’t a crime. One would need direct evidence that he conspired with Russia. Or that members of his campaign team did, and he knew about it and did nothing.

Given his recent panic over the investigation, it seems as if things are hitting close to home. Perhaps he really does have something to worry about, or he’s so insecure that he cannot handle any challenge to his authority. Either way, there are two things we need to watch out for.

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On the 2017 World Series

Wow.

What a World Series! What can I say? It was an unbelievable set of games, between two amazing teams. All the games were very close and hard-fought. Even the ones that look like blowouts from the final score weren’t. Game 4, that ended with the Dodgers winning 6-2? It was tied at 1 going to the ninth inning. And even Game 7 was tighter than you’d think.

Sure, the Astros scored their five runs early. Yu Darvish is probably already getting blamed for it, but watch the replays. Springer’s leadoff double was fair by inches, and if Cody Bellinger has simply put the ball in his pocket instead of throwing it to El Monte…. Meanwhile, Astros’ starter Lance McCullers must have thought he was playing dodgeball instead of baseball against the Dodgers – he hit four of the thirteen batters he faced. But the Dodgers offense left the population of Burbank on the basepaths, dooming whatever chances they were handed.

Even so, knowing the state of the Astros’ bullpen and the overall strength of the Dodgers’ offense, there was always the hope / worry that Los Angeles would put something together and pull out a win. They didn’t really look dead until the bottom of the ninth.

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On Presidential Succession

With “El Presidente” showing more and more signs of his his colossal unsuitability for holding the highest office in the land, commenters in various fora on the the Internet are speculating on what happens when Trump is pushed out, either by impeachment or Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. Many are worried that Mike Pence is just as corrupt as Trump, so he’ll soon be given the boot as well. This leads them to the unpleasant prospect of President Paul Ryan.

While they do get the Presidential Order of Succession correct (President, Vice President, Speaker of the House), they miss one important fact: that order presumes an essentially simultaneous removal of both the president and the VP. As a historical example, when President Reagan was shot, and VP George H.W. Bush was on his way to Washington DC and therefore out of contact for a little while, Speaker Tip O’Neill was technically acting as president for a few hours.

So unless Trump and Pence are both incapacitated at the same time (and for any length of time) through some unbelievable set of circumstances, Paul Ryan isn’t getting anywhere near the Oval Office.

There’s a historical precedent for what happens under the rules currently in force when a president leaves office.

You may recall – I hope – that when Nixon resigned, VP Gerald Ford was inaugurated as President. That left the office of VP vacant. Speaker of the House Carl Albert did NOT automatically become VP. At best, he became ACTING VP – but I don’t see any provision in the rules that allows that to happen.

Section 2 of the 25th Amendment deals with the situation when there’s a vacancy in the office of Vice President:

“Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.”

Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. Ford was inaugurated that same day. On August 20, Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller – then the governor of New York – to become his VP. Congress debated and discussed the nomination (it took a while; there were a number of financial improprieties in Rockefeller’s career that needed to be clarified), eventually giving their approval. He took the oath of office on December 19.

So if Trump is booted and Pence becomes President, one of his very first acts had better be the nomination of a new VP. Ryan may have something to say about the nomination, but he won’t automatically become VP himself. Even if something happens to put Pence out of commission for a while during the nomination process, Ryan isn’t likely to be more than a temporary placeholder.

Ryan will have even less to say about the process should the Democrats take control of the House in 2018. That will give them the right to pick their own Speaker of the House. So if we Democrats can hold our horses until then (and concentrate on winning Congress), we will be in a great position for dealing with and controlling a President Pence.

Here’s a fun scenario to think about: Given the GOP’s control of Congress, and that they are not likely to turn on one of their own, impeachment / removal doesn’t start until the Democrats win control of both houses of Congress in 2018. Trump is shown the door and asked to hand over his keys in early 2019. Then, President Pence is essentially forced to choose a VP who is liked and approved by Democrats. They browbeat him into nominating Hillary Clinton (who handily wins approval). Then, Pence is told to take a hike….