Tag Archives: Congress

Our House is a Mess

For the first time in one hundred years, the House of Representatives could not elect a Speaker on the first ballot.

As the 118th Congress convenes, the first order of House business is the election of a new speaker — and current Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California is being stymied by a group of GOP hardliners demanding concessions.

To win the gavel, McCarthy needs a majority of the members-elect who are present and voting. But because the GOP holds only a five-seat advantage, a small number of defections is so far stopping McCarthy from gaining the office he’s long sought. In fact, on the first two ballots McCarthy lost his caucus by nineteen votes. That grew to twenty votes on the third ballot. The Democrats were united through it all, supporting minority leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York with their 212 votes.

The House can conduct no other business until a speaker is chosen. For the first time in a century, the vote is requiring multiple rounds.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Republicans are too divided to govern, The Democrats are too stupid to get elected.

Updates as appropriate.

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How Could You?

If you are voting for Democrats, you can leave now. This isn’t for you.

If you are voting for Republicans, or not voting at all. Stick around. I have a question for you.

What the hell are you thinking?

Do you hear the words, “Democracy is on the line” and chuckle? Don’t. It is.

There are more than three hundred people running for election who believe the Big Lie that Donnie Trump won in 2020. He didn’t. Sixty judges and scores of election officials, many of them Republican, said he didn’t. There is hard physical evidence that HE knows he didn’t. NO evidence of improper voting that changed the outcome of the election was discovered anywhere.

The big lie is a politically expedient cover for a coup, a takeover of the government. If these three hundred co-conspirators win this election, your vote in 2024 won’t matter. If their right-wing cabal wins, they will declare the election legitimate. If they come up short at the ballot box, they will throw away your votes and substitute their own. Heads they win, tails everyone else loses.

Just remember, Hitler was elected. So was Mussolini. So was Putin.

And why are you voting against the Democrats and in favor of the insurrectionists? Because your gasoline prices are too high? Guess what? So are mine.

You sit on your rears and let the MAGA Republicans, I use that term because Republicans in the mold of the party of Lincoln could never win a primary in today’s Republican party, tell you that President Biden is to blame for the higher gas prices, and for inflation overall.

Those lies are amplified by the jackals of the right-wing media, led by the Rupert Murdock brigade at Fox. Anyone with a high school education in arithmetic who is willing to do a little research can demonstrate that these are lies. But that takes a little work, and you can’t be bothered.

The principal cause of the current inflation is pent-up demand. We are making up for the Covid years. Remember them? For two years we stayed at home. We didn’t drive. We didn’t fly. We didn’t buy gasoline. Now we are.

There is little President Biden or Congress itself can do in the short run to lower prices. The Federal Reserve can, and is, raising interest rates. That will snuff out the flames of inflation eventually. But the Fed will have to be very skillful, and lucky, to do that without causing a recession.

The Republicans also complain that the Covid stimulus spending was inflationary. Yes, it was. But it was a tradeoff and well worth the balance. Inflation now while cushioning the impact of Covid then. The stimulus kept food on the table. It kept people from losing their homes. It raised disadvantaged children above the poverty rate.

And it helped make the huge loss of jobs a temporary phenomenon. The unemployment rate is now fully recovered from the Covid spike. And this all happened on Joe Biden’s watch.

In fact if you check you will see that the Covid impact was much worse in America than other countries. That’s because of the denial by Trump and the Republican governors. It cost hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

The national debt, which grew during the Covid downturn, has stabilized under the Biden administration. And despite all the caterwauling by the Republicans, the debt does NOT historically rise under Democratic administrations. It DOES rise under Republican administrations because their one and only economic strategy is to lower taxes on the wealthy and corporations so that the richest people in the country get richer and many of the most profitable companies pay little or no tax on their profits. Cut revenue and the debt goes up. Got it?

Go ahead. Look it up. “America,” as the great writer Aaron Sorkin once wrote, “isn’t easy.” Do the work. Stop listening to the lies of Trump, and Steve Bannon, and Rupert Murdock, and Tucker Carlson. Think for yourself.

The Republicans have no plan for inflation. Give them control and all they will do is cut taxes for the rich. Then cut Social Security and Medicare for the rest of us. They will reverse attempts to lower the cost of medicine. And investigate and impeach anyone and everyone in the Biden administration, tying up the government with a few shutdowns along the way until 2024.

And if crime is what’s bothering you, do the homework. Violent crime rates are NOT skyrocketing. Violent crime rates are higher in the red states than in blue states. MAGA Republicans are lying to scare you. And you are falling for it.

Republicans do have plans to convert most government jobs from civil service into political appointments, creating a huge patronage army of loyal subjects. They will make sure the only promotions in the real army go to officers who are willing to use force to achieve their right-wing goals. What Trump, called, “My generals.” They will place a religious litmus test on judicial appointees, who Donnie called, “My judges.” And purge the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and the offices of inspectors general of anyone who would follow the law and stand in their way.

They will delete references to science in government studies, websites, or in Department of Education approved curriculum. They will remove the United States from world organizations and from the world stage and give a green light to and support any authoritarian government the holds out a hand.

And of course, they will enact national restrictions or even a ban on abortion. MAGA Republican Mehmet Oz, running for the senate from Pennsylvania, the state next to his home in New Jersey, told us so. He says the federal government should have no say in a woman’s decision to have an abortion. He believes that decision should be made by the woman, her doctor, and her local government representatives. You can’t make this stuff up

They will also legislate against LGBTQ rights, affirmative action, free speech, immigration reform, and any other so called “woke” movement most of us call civil liberties. They profess to favor civil liberties, but that in their eyes means the liberty to be whatever they believe in.

This is not debatable. The MAGA Republicans have made their intentions clear. And every political poll that I follow indicates they will win.

Samuel Adams said to have a villainous ruler imposed on you was a misfortune. To elect him yourself was a disgrace. The disgrace is upon us. It has been nearly 250 years since the founding. As representative democracies go, it was a decent run.

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Guns for All!

I’m beginning to think I have been going about this the wrong way. I write about the never-ending string of mass shootings. I tell the history of the Second Amendment. I deplore the right-wing Republican judges who overturn even the most reasonable legislation designed to curtail the endless supply of weapons. But here we are with another mass shooting. And on the same weekend, a single killing which would have been worse had it not been for some heroism by a church congregation.

A majority of the American people favor placing stricter limits on the ownership of guns. But the political leaders do not.

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Republicans Engage in “Legitimate Political Discourse”

There was a time when our two major political parties took policy matters seriously. I remember my first political convention, the Democratic meeting in Miami in 1972 which nominated George McGovern to face, and be pummeled by, the incumbent Richard Nixon. One of the things that impressed a then young reporter was the work of the platform committee.

The committee met and considered the issues of the day. They heard presentations, took testimony, and in the end voted on a position to take. At first, I wondered how valuable the exercise was. While the platform represented a compromise position so the party could say what it stood for, it could not bind all its members. And with opposition when it came time to govern, there is no way to expect the positions of the platform committee to translate directly into policy.

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A Breath of Fresh Air

It some ways it was certainly unusual. But mostly its normalcy made it a breath of fresh air. For more than an hour President Joe Biden delivered a report to Congress, the nation, and the world on the state of the state one hundred days into his administration. He laid out the achievements already accomplished, the programs now under way, and the proposals he is sending to Congress for enactment into law.

One way the speech was unusual was that there were two women behind the president. Presiding over the joint session of Congress were Vice-President Kamala Harris, who is President of the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. That was a historic first. Another way was that the chamber, which normally holds 1,600 people for these events, was limited to 200 by pandemic protocols. The audience members were socially distanced and most were masked.

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Twice Impeached

Another record for the man who is everything. Donald Trump is now the only person to have been impeached twice by the House of Representatives. Whether or not he is found guilty when tried by the Senate, he also has the distinction of being a president of the United States accused by a bipartisan coalition. Ten Republican House members voted to impeach the titular head of their party. Four others abstained from the vote.

It is not difficult to see why. The impeachment came one week after a violent mob, encouraged by Trump, came to Washington and attacked Congress in an attempt to keep it from counting the certified election results sent in by all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Trump, leader of the executive branch of government, was demanding the mob stop the legislative branch from performing its constitutional and statutory function and instead disenfranchise millions of voters and install Trump as a literal dictator.

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Parliament: At Least Debate

One of the more esoteric debates in academia for those studying politics is the contrast between the American form of government, with a strong executive and an elected legislature wielding equal power, with the democratic parliamentary system in which the elected legislature is the ultimate power, the head of state subservient to it and the executive chosen by it. In other words, America v. England.

I frequently got into this debate with my father, a true Anglophile, and we never resolved the issue. The compare and contrast form of discussion was, in many way, ironic because of the historical circumstances. England had a strong executive at the time of the American revolution. King George III reigned at that time, had considerable real power compared with today’s Queen Elizabeth II, and was for Americans the perfect example of a leader to be avoided.

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