Category Archives: Democrats

7% of the way there

Well we have just passed the 100 day mark for the Trump administration. (Though I hate using the word ‘mark’ as that reminds me of the ultimate designation of the American Public under this President – marks.) Out of the 1461 days for the 4 years expected from a presidential term we have endured seven percent, only 93 more to go.

I have seen people giving the administration its 100 day grade, the most ridiculous being an A+ because Trump is not Hillary Clinton. (Nice to know that Conservative would grade Stalin an A+ because he also was not Hillary Clinton.)

My own take is that the administration is a hot radioactive dumpster fire of incompetence and corruption but there have been and continue to be bright spots.

Our institutions are strong and fulfilling their constitutional duties. Trump has discovered that being a petulant man-baby with delusions of strength carries no weight in a court of law. Repeatedly his most egregious actions have been slapped down by the judiciary.

The Body Politic appears to be awakening from its slumber. More and more people are paying attention to the business of politics and that bodes well for reforms and participation.

The GOP is being forced to confront the contradictions of their heated, angry rhetoric with the reality of governing. The incendiary fire that has boiled the GOP down to a concentrated base of its most reactionary components is utterly incapable of the necessary compromises of governance. The first 100 days of a presidential term is the period when the public still has good feeling towards the newly hatched executive and with a united control of the government, the passing into law of major policy goals should have been a given, but that has proven to be beyond the reach of the GOP. Sure they have managed to undue some of hated Obama’s regulatory actions, but no major legislation has passed and it is not because of the opposition party.

The GOP has majorities in both house, what the GOP does not have is rationality. IN part due to the drumbeat of purity that drove out the ‘RINOs’, in part due to the shrill voices of the GOP news/entertainment arms, and also in part due to ‘safe districts’ the Republicans have engineered a majority that cannot agree with itself.

The ‘Hassert Rule’ means that every sizable faction within the GOP’s elected member has an effective veto over legislation. No faction can be ignore or eliminated and the hard core purists will not compromise while the moderates have no inclination to commit electoral suicide .

It is so much easier to bitch, complain, and criticize than it is to do anything and that goes even more so for a complex mechanism like government. Except for Guns, Abortion, and Taxes there is precious little that the GOP faction agree with and zealotry has an inverse relationship with competence.

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A Smart Bomb is no Good to a Dead Man

So the Democrats are launching a filibuster in the Senate to try and derail Trump’s Nominee for SCOTUS. Majority Leader McConnell is threatening to invoke the ‘nuclear option’ and finish the job the Democrats started in killing the filibuster. (Though it should be noted that Threat and the Name for the act started with the Republicans but was not invoked at that time due to the action of The Gang of Eight)

Some have said that the Democrats should hold off, that if they invoke a filibuster all they will achieve is forcing the GOP to change the rules and kill it off, winning nothing. The most cogent argument I have read is that they should hold off until there is a nominee or issue that has more than 50 GOP member willing to vote for it, but not willing to change the rules over it and the nominee.

That’ doesn’t seem wise to me.

The unprecedented obstruction shown by the GOP, refusing even a hearing for the last president’s nominee indicates that there is no deal to be made, no compromise that will stand. The GOP will do whatever it takes, break whatever norm stands in their way to achieve their goals and the Democrats should adapt to the new battlefield.

To those who say invoking it only forces the GOP to kill it I answer, it you can’t use it because you will lose it, then what good is it anyway? If you have a resource you can not utilize then it is no resource.

Failing to take that stand will have consequences. The liberal elements of the political body are energized and they are not in a make nice and let’s all get along mood. Any Democratic Senator who acquiesces to trump’s will without a fight will find that they are in a fight anyway but with their own base.

To me the only logical move is to resist, make your stand clearly with your base, and keep your eyes fixed on tomorrow.

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How to make Hillary President

Oh, the bonfire that is the Trump Presidency burns hotter, fiercer, and larger than I had ever imagined during the election. There is ample cause to suspect that corruption, incompetence, and out right collusion with a hostile foreign power go all the way into the Oval Office.

(Suspect! I hear some of you cry, and Renault remains Shocked to find gambling going on at Rick’s. Nothing has yet been proven so I leave it to you to follow your own noses in tracking the stench that is the Trump operation.)

One thing I think is clear is that the modern GOP is quite unlike that one of the 70’s and they will never remove Trump from office no matter the stink, the mud, and the crime, but there is an election next year and that could change everything.

Now what follows is fanciful but within the realm of possibility and law; as a speculative fiction writer it fun for me to dream up implausible for possible futures.

One: The Democratic Party wins the election taking back the House and the Senate next year. The hill remains steep in the House but Trump is proving disastrously bad as a president and he might sink the GOP’s majority.

Two: The House names Hillary Clinton as their New Speaker of the House. (Nothing in the constitution or the House rules require that the Speak be a sitting representative.

Three: Trump has proven himself corrupt enough that the Democrats impeach and remove him from office.

Four: They follow that up with impeachment of President Pence, provided that they can make those charges stick and given the grime that appears to be swirling around this administration it might be possible.

Five: Hillary Clinton as Speaker of the House become the 47th President of the United States.

Wait, I hear you Bernie supporters screaming about Step two, because after all if anyone can be named Speaker of the House and third in line for the Presidency why not your guy, Sanders?

Quite simply, he’s not the popular vote winner of the last contest and to me that carries weight. However if you want someone other than Hillary I would suggest that you go with someone who meets the requirements for the officer but who would be Constitutionally ineligible to seek a term via the 2020 election, (The 22nd Amendment prevents presidents from being elected to more than two terms.), so they just give the job back to Barak Obama.

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Our National Wound

Trump has lost two senior advisers, one who had been placed National Security Advisor, due to improper ties and communication with Russia, a country that many in our intelligence community believes worked to not only disrupt our presidential election but whose preferred outcome was the election of an untested narcissist.

I do find it ironic that many of those who have repeated allegations as fact that Edward Kennedy sought Soviet help in stopping Reagan’s election are suddenly so silent and insistent upon airtight evidence in the Trump allegations. It always depends on whose ox is getting gored.

I have also heard people on the liberal side calling for some sort of special election; in effect a presidential do over. People, that is not going to happen. To the best of my knowledge there is no provision whatsoever in our constitution for a special presidential election. If you truly want to remove all of the Russian tainted personnel from the executive branch there is only one way to get that done before 2020. I am not saying it is something that can be achieved, too many people have tied themselves to the wheel of the Sailing ship Trump and they are hoping that the storm doesn’t sink them.

Step One: VP Pence steps down. No so far nothing his tied him directly to any of the Russian issues but he’s Trump’s pick ad that alone is a taint.

Step Two: The truly impossible step – Trump names someone as the new VP that is a Republican who is acceptable to the Democrats in the Congress. No Tea Party, Freedom Caucus, is going to make it but it would have to be someone most conservative would call a ‘RINO.’ It has to be that way because the fact of the matter is that the GOP controls Congress and no one is going to be approved except a Republican.

Step Three: The new VP leads the Cabinet in removing Trump as president under the 25th amendment and both houses of Congress approve.

Step Three: The newly minted President fires everyone hired by the last one and we reboot the Administration.

All of this is within the constitution but it is not going to happen. Trump would not play ball, Pence may not, and with the current enmity in congress even the possibility of a foreign power holding influence over the white house will not spur the left and right to work together.

No, we are stuck with Trump until Pence and the Cabinet remove him or he is impeached but both options require the GOP to possess a spine.

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A Missed Opportunity

The recent kerfuffle with Senator Mitch McConnell leading the Republicans in censoring Senator Elizabeth Warren over her attempts to read Mrs. King’s letter concerning Jeff Sessions when he was nominated and rejected for a Judgeship represents a blown communications opportunity for the Democratic Party.

Certainly people are making hay of McConnell’s ‘She Persisted’ quote. Turning it into empowering memes and it may even become part of her re-election slogans, but that’s not where the Democrats should have had their eyes. Everything should have been about Sessions and not anyone else.

They had no chance to stop this nomination. If Devos or Carson could be confirmed then barring some truly outrageous scandal everyone that President Trump sends up will be confirmed. There is no filibuster and after eight years of opposing Obama’s administration the GOP have learned to close ranks and hold the line. The nominees will be confirmed, so what the Democrats should do is make sure that ever wart, every bit of bad news gets as much play as can be had for future use. Having the conversation be about Senator Warren and double standards between men and women does not advance their cause and turns the spotlight away from Sessions.

A number of other Senators took the floor of the Senate reading the same letter, but my understanding is that they all altered or omitted the language that McConnell has objected to. Now it is entirely beside the point if that language mattered in its substance, all that really mattered is that McConnell did not want it read it into the record. What each and every Democratic Senator should have done is read exactly the parts that McConnell silenced Warren over. Either McConnell is then forced to move against them in the same manner, and the news of the day becomes ‘Is this language, and by extension its subject, Sessions unfit for the floor of the Senate?’ The coverage would be about those lines, about Sessions, and what was McConnell so fearful of? Or he backs downs, looks weak, and it gets read into the record. Either way the result would be favorable for the Democratic position. What they did only played into McConnell’s hands and now everyone is talking about Warren, and if women are treat harsher than men when they speak out and such. Now those are not bad conversations to have, but they pulled the attention away from Sessions and why the Democrats, rightly or wrongly, opposed his nomination.

McConnell, sharpened by eight years of parliamentary battles against Obama and his people, is a sharp cagy man and the Democrats will need to get better if they intend to win political wars and not just news cycles.

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Rules for Working with Trump

This advice, as silly as it seems to write it; I have no connection to anyone in power and they have no inclination to listen to me, is for the movers and shakers of Washington in the era of Trump.

It is a mistake to think that Trump is motivated by the same concerns and desires as the politicians you have battled before. Fight him like a traditional political opponent and he’ll win and the GOP will have his back. You can win, you can prevent disaster but first learn the rules.

Rule One: This rule supersedes all other considerations when dealing with or planning to deal with Donald J. Trump. Trump is a narcissist. Anything or any promise that does not flatter and inflate his ego is doomed to be, at best, a short duration success. Every proposal and every action must reflect this basic reality.

Rule Two: Trump will never admit fault or error, all arguments to sway his opinion must not only obey Rule One they must never require an admission of past error. Past errors are best unspoken and consigned to their status as unhistory.

Rule Three: Aside from family, loyalty for Trump runs only in the direct of himself. He is incapable of loyalty to anything that does not carry his blood or name.

Rule Four: All unsecured cash flows towards Trump. Secure your cash at every turn and never rely upon any agreement concerning payments from Trump in any direction other than towards himself and his family..

Rule Five: In Trump’s world there are enemies to be crushed and lackeys. Once he thinks he has crushed an enemy he’ll expend no more thought and anything said in the crushing is immaterial. Play the lackey and you may be able to steer him using the rules above.

 

Notice that none of these rules have anything to do with political ideology. Political thought is irrelevant when dealing with Trump. There are few things on which he can be counted on to be consistent. Count on tax breaks, see Rule Four. He will be favorable to Russian and autocrats. Some of these issues you simply have to let slide for the next two years, the united front of Trump and the GOP will do what it does. On some fronts, such as Russia, it will be possible to sow division between Trump and the GOP, but the most gains are possible in area where the GOP are ideologically locked but Trump is not.

By using the Rules and playing the man not the politics it is possible to expand healthcare and a number of other issues. If Trump feels something will grow his popularity, it will feed his ego and make him want these things. Best case outcome is he frightens the GOP members enough that some of it can be passed, worst case is he and GOP fall into infighting and thereby they limit their damage.

The game is poker and Trump doesn’t realize that at this table he is the Chump.

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The C.O. is Always Responsible

Imagine a military ship sailing in the early hours of darkness near a shore. The Captain is asleep all is quite when the vessel suddenly grounds on a sand bar and tug is dispatched at dawn to free the ship. Who pays the price for the foul up? Whose career is threatened? The Captain. It goes with the power of the position, the captain is responsible for everything that happens on his or her command, period.

So, who is responsible for the Democratic loss at the last presidential elections?

Hillary Clinton. It was her ship, her command, and her responsibility.

Yes, the Russian sowed chaos to assist Trump.

Yes, Republicans used their position in the House of Representative to publicly hound fairly minor scandals.

Yes, the news media chased every leak with the Pavlovian response of a kitten chasing a laser spot.

All this is true and all this was known at the time. It is the C.O. jobs to deal with, and to deal with it effectively. I would further argue that these factors are relatively minor factors considering that Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the popular contest by nearly three million votes but the election is not determined by the popular will but by the state by state arcana of the Electoral College.

The Democrats relied on a ‘blue wall’ through the rust belt to hold Trump away from the White House and that wall turned out to have been eaten away. The weakness in these states was no surprise. Upset by Sanders gave clear warnings that things were not standard this election cycle. Alarm bells and calls for urgent assistance from local politicians and campaign workers went unheeded. Why? Why was such a critical front left undefended?

When I read the book Game Change that recounted the 2008 election I was truck by how much the Clintons, both of them, valued loyalty over competence. It’s my opinion that justly or unjustly the Clintons live in perpetually psychological state of siege. They seem to act as though that they must expect any and all attacks from all quarters and as such their inner circle are chosen as people that the trust and trust if the quality that value the most.

Because they distrustful of anyone not in their tight inner circle they horde power, micromanaging situations and shutting out those who are suspect, and anyone who is not part of the inner circle is automatically suspect.

When during he primary Sanders surprised them they didn’t open up their command to new voices and refused to learn that their predictive models were seriously flawed. When local pols in the rust belt screamed for help and warned that the candidate was in danger of losing votes due to people staying home, the alarms were rebuffed as they did not come from the trusted circle. It is astonishing that during the campaign Hillary Clinton never visited the union halls of Michigan, a state that if simply two more people per precinct has gone to the polls and voted for her she would have carried.

We can never know if Sanders, as is supporters insist, would have won the campaign. What we do know is that the Democratic candidate outpolled the Republican by millions of votes but bungled the tactical battlefield and lost the war

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Gravity Always Asserts Itself

As a kid I watched countless hours of Warner Brother cartoons and among my favorite were the Roadrunner and the Coyote. Invariably at some point in his futile attempts to catch the Roadrunner the Coyote would find himself suddenly without ground beneath his feet. For the first few moments, everything was fine, but once became aware of the fact, gravity took command and his fall began.

For more than six year the Republican Party has railed against the ACA and encouraged their political base to view it as an evil that must be destroyed. That destruction has been their premier promise in every election cycle and now, with control of both congress and the White House, it is within their grasp. However, like the Coyote they have discovered that the ground beneath their feet is not what they believed it to be.

Immediate repeal means throwing twenty million or more people off of their insurance. Even if you are not inclined to think of the news media as hostile to conservatives there is no universe where that plays well on the evening news and with number that large nearly every person will know someone who lost their coverage. It will be a painful, personal, and powerful storm of anger.

Not repealing means enraging the base, encouraging the dreaded ‘primary opponent’ that all officials in safe districts fear, and sparking intra-party warfare between the more pragmatic and Freedom Caucus wings.

Repeal and delay, vote for repeal but word it so that the effect occurs two, four, or more years down the road throws a hand grenade into the individual insurance market. What company will want to participate when the market will cease to exist in just a short time? Insurers flee, people loose their coverage, mandate are not enforced and a death spiral for the industry is a real possibility. That means people with deep pockets and political connections will be very angry.

Complicating this terrain is the fact that the President-elect is well known for his lack of consistency. Is he committed to repeal for ‘conservative’ reasons? This is a man who has praised single-payer nationalized healthcare, hardly a conservative policy. And just recently his spokespeople have affirmed that under the President-Elect’s plans no one will their coverage, no one.

They have dashed off the precipice, there is no ground under them save the disastrous and countless distance below, and no one will be inclined to give them any aid.

If they do manage to repeal, without dealing with the very thorny and difficult issues infusing this problem, (Which is likely because in six years they have advanced zero legislative packages to institute a ‘conservative’ solution.) they will have done more to hasten single-payer in this country than any ten liberal politicians.

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Chaos in the Electorate

Last year, when Trump and Sanders made their announcements I dismissed either as have a serious impact on the race. Clearly I was wrong.

This is the election cycle of the unpredictable, angry electorate. On the left and on the right there is a great clamoring for change. Now I would still bet against Sanders winning the nomination, the rules are stacked against him and he needs to really outperform, consistently, the rest of the primary to get the delegates needed. That is not to say he can’t Clearly this is the wrong cycle to make bold unwavering predictions. However, the hill is still quite steep for him.

Trump is starting to fall, but not from first. 538’s delegate tracker has him missing his targets in order to reach 50%+1 before the convention. He may get the majority, but it seems equally possible he may miss, but not by much. If that happens and they can’t settle it on the first ballot, it’s fireworks for the GOP in Cleveland. (An early clue may be the rules for the convention. If they are adopted without much fuss or fight, then expect a single ballot to nominate someone, if the rules are fought over long and hard then we may be in for a bumpy ride.)

It’s stunning to think that California’s late primary may actually be relevant.

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A quick comment aimed at the left this time

So in the last few weeks I have seen several times on social media a petition to strip the National Rifle Association (NRA) of their non-profit status for the opposition to gun control. This petition is a ridiculous and pointless exercise, but it also shows a blindingly insulting level of short-sightedness.

Setting aside that any non-profit that has not violated the law is safe from the mob justice of a petition, the proponents of this idea have given zero thought as to the outcome should they in some fantastically unlikely event become successful.

Stripping the NRa’s non-profit status via gathering enough angry signatures and for purely political purposes would off course open up all non-profits to such tactics.

Should Planned Parenthood lose their non-profit status if enough social conservatives sign an on line form?

Should Unions be stripped if enough pro-business people gather the requisite signatures?

Or maybe we could go after NOW, or Equality Now, the Human Rights Council? Hell maybe fan run science-fiction and the SCA can be targets as well!

Those of you who shared this idiotic meme, do you really want the same standard placed upon your groups and your interests?

Yes you do not like the NRA, yes they stand against your thoughts and goal on gun control, but they also have broken no law and they truly do represent a dedicated number of voters. Agree with them or disagree with them, but do not try to use the political process to strip them of their rights lest others do the same to you and yours.

Of course if you want to argue that *all* non-profits should lose that status, that is a far different argument and one I am more inclined to agree with.

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