On the Campaign Trail – 1

I haven’t been paying that much attention to the Democratic Presidential Campaign. It’s way too early, and there are far too many candidates. The need for the Democrats to not only unseat El Presidente but retake the Senate and keep the House is too important to worry about who wins the eventual nomination – especially when any one of them is good enough to win. There’s strong reasoning behind the “Vote Blue – No Matter Who” slogan.

Of course, that’s not going to stop me from having opinions.

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Burying the Lede

I did not watch Mueller’s testimony yesterday, but I did read about it – even following a liveblog. I was not expecting much, since all the information was already out there. And, being a professional and as bipartisan as he could be, Mueller wasn’t going to be tricked into saying anything damning (that wasn’t already covered in his report).

Even so, there were still things that need to be mentioned. Unfortunately, the press is far more concerned with the “optics” of the hearings (the tone of the questions, Mueller’s uncertainty and reticence) and picking winners and losers than discussing the content.

So instead of headlines like “Six Takeaways from the Hearings” and the usual “Dems Disappointed”, I would have gone with something completely different if I had any front page editorial control:

MUELLER CONFIRMS TRUMP NOT EXONERATED

* Says Trump lied to cover up his involvment
* Trump can be indicted once out of office
* Schiff calls Trump “Disloyal”
* Russia still trying to interfere in our elections

See? It’s not hard.

One might come across some of these (or similar points from the hearings) buried deep in the later paragraphs of a story. To bury the lede like that is a colossal failure of journalism. I cannot tell what is in the minds of the mainstream press. Perhaps they are trying to maintain a sort of bipartisan neutrality in the matter, and not come down on one side or another. Or maybe they want to milk any “controversy” for as long as they can in order to keep readers. Or worse, they just don’t care. It can’t be that they are afraid of any pushback from daring to criticize El Presidente, can it….

Thankfully, there are still a handful of journalists (and the places that publish their work) who know what their proper role is.

A US election was hijacked. Trump stood by as it happened and profited from it. And ever since he has attempted to cover up this original sin of his presidency. At the hearing, Mueller did not rail about Trump’s serious misconduct. But in the quiet way of an institutionalist who respects norms and rules, Mueller made it clear: Trump engaged in treachery. This is not news. But it remains a defining element of the Trump presidency that deserves constant attention.

David Corn, Mother Jones

The “failure” is not of a prosecutor who found the facts but might be ill equipped to make the political case, but instead, of a country that won’t read his report and a media obsessed with scoring contests rather than focusing on the damning facts at issue.

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

What should be important to all of us is that the world heard (again) that the Russians continue to undermine our democracy, that the Trump campaign was not averse to accepting Russian help in the 2016 presidential election and actively sought to cover up its actions, and that there was convincing evidence the president of the United States obstructed justice. And those are just some of the things that were discussed at the hearings….

But when folks follow [Trump’s] lead and focus on performance and visuals rather than the substance, they’re playing Trump’s game on Trump’s turf. And when that happens, Trump wins. So if you’re playing that game and still wondering how Trump always seems to get away with the outrageous and the unconscionable, you should just look in the mirror.

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post

If only we were paying attention……

Celebrating America

It seems that on the Left these days, America is taking quite a pounding. Our collective Sins of the Past are being dragged out into the open, and held up as examples of what is (still) wrong with the country – and we can never seem to atone for them to their satisfaction. Institutionalized oppression of (insert minority group here). Economic inequality resulting in an entrenched, oligarchic government. Interference with the governments of other nations and peoples. Unchecked militarism. Environmental degradation. There are even serious essays being published that claim we’d be better off if we had never won our independence.

Given the barely concealed contempt for this country, one has to wonder why they aren’t leaving for greener (to them) pastures.

I am led to wonder – is there anything about the United States of America and its system of government that is worth celebrating?

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Is It Impeachment Time Yet?

As the president shows more of his general unfitness for office on a daily basis, the calls to impeach him are steadily growing more frequent and more strident from those on the farther left. Their frustration is evident, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to brush the matter aside, saying that in effect, they’ll do it when the time is right.

Pelosi is correct, of course. The time is not yet right to begin the proceedings. It’s not that we don’t yet have sufficient evidence; it’s that impeachment – though conducted as if it were a criminal proceeding – is a political process. And the situation isn’t politically ripe to even start holding hearings.

A quick review of the procedure is in order. Continue reading

On Medicare For All

Now that the Green New Deal has been placed on the back burner, so to speak, the Big Issue on the Left is getting Medicare for All (MfA). This would be a complete overhaul of one of the larger sectors of the national economy (health care spending is about 18% of the GDP).

I am in favor of some sort of national health care plan (just as I am in favor of much of the Green New Deal). But as someone who will hopefully be living through the transition period, I’d like to know what I’ll be getting into.

While any sane person has to agree that making sure every American has equal access to health care, regardless of their income or financial situation, the people pushing MfA seem to be letting some serious questions about it slide. Maybe they don’t want to answer them; maybe they haven’t even thought about them enough.

So of course I’m going to ask them.

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Reporting on the Report

Now that the “suitable for the public’ version of the Mueller Report has been released, and we’ve had time to read it and mull over the contents, what have we learned?

First, it seems that we were overreacting about the possibility of Attorney General William Barr going overboard with his redactions. The amount, where they came in the report, and the general reasons for them, seem to actually be reasonable. Most of them were in the section about Russia’s cyberattacks and interference in the 2016 election campaign. And given that those threats are still active and being fought by the relevant intelligence agencies, it’s reasonable that one would not want to let any of the details be made public. Making them available to important members of Congress is entirely justified, though.

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On the Green New Deal

The freshmen class of Democratic representatives (and one or two on the Republican side of the aisle) came up with this nice little legislative proposal to attack global warming head-on, and deal with a few other pet social and economic issues.

As a set of policy goals or a proposed platform, it’s a lot like Wilson’s Fourteen Points. As a detailed legislative package, well, it’s a lot like Wilson’s Fourteen Points….

And it doesn’t help that its backers, so far, seem to be adopting the tactic of browbeating the opposition until they cry “Uncle!” and give up. Hanging out in the halls of Congress harassing people isn’t going to win them over to your side. Yes, the matter is extremely urgent, but why not come up with a better approach – one that explains the dangers if we don’t do anything, gives some ideas about what will have to be done to avoid that fate, and makes the necessary steps more palatable?

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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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