Feel the Bern

So Bernie Sanders has tossed his hat into the ring. In one day, he raised kajillions of dollars, and that was enough to make him the “front runner” in the primary campaign. Nevermind that fundraising does not directly correlate with votes, and that the first actual primary is a year away, his supporters from 2016 (perhaps “fans” or “acolytes” would be a better term) are rallying around the banner.

His campaign was questionable back then, and it has some questions now. This time around, because the circumstances are quite different, he’s got a few additional hurdles in the way. We’ll leave out the fact that he’s four years older….

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Fixing the Senate

I’ve been reading a bit lately about a general dissatisfaction with the construction of the Senate. Seems people aren’t happy with the rule that gives every state, regardless of population, two senators. Such an arrangement gives a drastically unequal representation to the citizens of the states. Why should Wyoming have the same number of senators as California (to use the example most frequently cited) when they only have about one seventeenth of the population?

This would be a very strong argument – if it weren’t for one thing.

The Senate isn’t the only part of Congress.

There’s also the House of Representatives, which *does* have proportional representation.

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Now That The Smoke Has Cleared

Well, almost cleared. Or at least cleared enough for us to see the lay of the land after the elections. Technically, there’s a Senate seat from Florida that’s heading for a recount, and in Georgia, Stacey Abrams isn’t going to concede until every single vote has been counted (seriously, why are we letting one of the candidates in *any* election be the person who sets the rules for that election?).

The Forces of Democracy did very well. Though they lost a few seats in the Senate (taking control of that house was a long shot), they did garner control of the House of Representatives. Of considerable importance as well, they won a goodly number of governorships and state offices. And several states also passed decidedly Democratic measures (like Florida, where over one million residents got their voting rights restored).

So, now what?

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On the Kavanaugh Matter

NOTE: I strongly disagree with Judge Kavanaugh’s political views. But he is entitled to them, and they are not in themselves reason to keep him off the Supreme Court. His probable perjury before Congressional committees, questionable finances, and inability to give a straightforward answer to simple questions on his judicial philosophy are.

I think (at least I *hope*) we can all agree that the vast majority of men are not sexual predators, perverts, or even creeps. But “Distinguished Man Treats Women Properly” isn’t going to sell any papers, so we’re constantly bombarded with stories of Men Behaving Badly.

The latest one has to do with a successful jurist being accused of an attempted rape that he is said to have committed over thirty-five years ago.

Whatever you think of Judge Kavanaugh or statutes of limitations, it shouldn’t be hard to see why a lot of men are nervous.

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Chuck Schumer’s Dilemma

I’m not saying we should feel sorry for the Senate Minority Leader. But he’s got no really good options when it comes to the matter of confirming Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

Not only does the GOP have all the good cards, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is making up the rules.

Let’s say Schumer holds the line and fights the confirmation tooth and nail like the left wing of the Democrats wants him to do. He rallies every single Democratic and Independent senator to the “No” side, and manages to convince one or two Republicans to join in.

Is the next nominee going to be any better? What about the Democratic senators from “red” states that are up for re-election? Fight too hard, and there’s a significant chance you’ll hurt their chances at re-election – and then taking control of the Senate.

Put up just enough of a protest to save face, tell the Red State Senators to do whatever they need to do to get re-elected, and you’ll face the incandescent wrath of the Far Left, with no guarantee that the Democrats will get control of the Senate from the Mid-Terms.

Stall, and hope that there’s something in the vast pile of documents that you want to have released that could sink Kavanaugh’s nomination? McConnell is going to fight and delay that every step of the way, deliberately interfering with the Mid-Term Campaign Season. And the group mind of the GOP isn’t likely to be deterred by anything that could come up. And again, who’s next on the list?

Whatever path Schumer takes, there are going to be risks.

None of this is easy. The rabid Far Left, with its insistence on fighting to the death in every battle, isn’t helping. Schumer is not in control of the Senate, and he has limited political capital to spend. He has to pick and choose his fights carefully, keeping his eye on the future (the good possibility that the Democrats take control of the Senate as well as the House). What good is winning this particular battle if you lose the war?

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 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 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….