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andym's Journal
andym's Journal
June 22, 2021

The filibuster is a big tradeoff, but there is a compromise to move forward: new exceptions

The filibuster protects Democratic legislation like the ACA from being repealed or a GOP majority from forcing extreme partisan bills like they have been doing on voting rights in the states, but it also prevents almost any consequential bill from being passed right now.

But already exceptions exist for the filibuster:
federal judges
supreme court judges
budget reconciliation

So why not some more?

Really, what should be done is create new exceptions for the filibuster:

Civil rights legislation would be a natural (this could include voting rights)
Perhaps any fundamental rights bill

Does this sound reasonable?
Any other suggestions for exceptions?

June 13, 2021

Washington Republicans have just one move

Washington Republicans have just one move
Analysis by John Harwood
Updated 7:50 AM ET, Sun June 13, 2021

"The Republican answer is no.
What's the question? Just about anything important a Democratic president is asking.
Resistance to change is, to be sure, expected from the nation's conservative political party. An intellectual icon of the modern GOP, William F. Buckley, once described a conservative's role as to "stand athwart history, yelling 'Stop!'"

But in the era of partisan polarization, that impulse has hardened into resistance to governance itself. On issues that rile them most -- the changing face of America, domestic spending programs, tax increases -- congressional Republicans have flashed red lights at Democratic and Republican White Houses alike.
The failure of bipartisan compromise need not quash Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda, which in addition to infrastructure investments includes expensive new programs to help struggling families up the economic ladder. Biden could advance it through the special budget process known as "reconciliation," which requires only a simple majority vote rather than a filibuster-proof 60 ayes in the Senate. That route, which Democratic leaders have already set in motion, would not require any Republican votes. It would require every Senate Democrat and nearly every House Democrat to say yes."
Just a friendly reminder that Republicans have been opposing progress since at least the Reagan era, and that 'No' is their answer to any legislation that is not a tax cut. It's why bipartisanship is obsolete given GOP recalcitrance.

June 12, 2021

"There's nothing "delusional" about Donald Trump's conspiracy theories. They are working"

"There's nothing "delusional" about Donald Trump's conspiracy theories. They are working:
Trump's conspiracy theories aren't delusional, they are aspirational — and so far, they are working for him"
PUBLISHED JUNE 4, 2021 12:57PM (EDT)

Delusion." "Off the chart bonkers." "Insane." "Objectively nuts." These are some of the terms that pundits — both on the left and on the right — are using to describe Donald Trump's reported belief that he will be "reinstated" as president in August, a belief that is tied to the growing enthusiasm in QAnon circles for a Myanmar-style coup d'état. It's a comforting story: that Trump is a doddering fool who is lost in a pathetic fantasy. After all, there is no process to "reinstate" a former president. Moreover, the people who Trump is clearly getting this idea from are total kooks like his former lawyer Sidney Powell and pillow salesman Mike Lindell. And Trump himself is the "inject bleach" guy, no one's model for rigorous empirical thinking.

As I note in today's Standing Room Only newsletter, Trump loves the "will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?" style of giving orders, where he just puts a wish out into the world and hopes other people will pick up what he's putting down. As his former lawyer Michael Cohen famously noted in his testimony before the House before he went to prison for crimes committed on Trump's behalf, "He doesn't give you questions, he doesn't give you orders. He speaks in a code." It's a strategy that shields Trump from consequences while his self-directed minions, like Cohen or Giuliani or the Capitol rioters, take the fall. It also means less work for Trump.
One of the most common misconceptions about conspiracy theories is that they are sincere expressions of belief. Sometimes that's true, but just as often, conspiracy theories are better understood functionally, not literally. They are tools that conspiracy theorists use to further their larger goals. It's irrelevant whether Trump "believes" that he could have kept power by stopping the electoral vote count on January 6 or that he'll be reinstated in August. What matters is how he uses these conspiracy theories, to promote the ideological belief that a multi-racial democracy is bad, that a white conservative minority deserves to rule over the majority, and that any means necessary to make that happen are on the table.
This particular conspiracy theory has a twofold function. The first and most obvious is to keep pushing the Republican party towards fascism. But of course, they're already going there, so probably didn't need more of a push from Trump. The second, and perhaps more important to Trump himself, is that the conspiracy theory keeps him at the center of this story. As Axios founder Jim VandeHei said on MSNBC Friday morning, Trump is "frustrated" and "having a hard time getting through" because "people are no longer obsessed with what Donald Trump has to say."
A link to this article appeared in General Discussion a few days ago, but I thought the points chosen here from the article are important to reiterate to prevent GOP from going fascist and ending democracy as we know it in the US.

As for Trump:
These 4 reasons explain Trump's actions in general and his gaslighting about reinstatement in particular:
1. Attention addict-- can't stand being out of the spotlight-- Twitter ban really threw him for a loop. Outrageous statements bring media attention. Rallies coming soon.

2. Throws out any crazy idea, to see if it somehow might help him. Examples: bleach for Covid, wanted states to find votes, encouraged insurrection. Probably secretly hoping some treasonous military will attempt a coup to bring him back to the White House in August.

3. Follower of Norman Vincent Peale's "The Power of Positive Thinking." Really believes in this stuff. Leads to dangerous magical thinking and inability to accept or learn from losses.

4. Potential coming indictments can be politicized and excused by his followers, if he is the "real" President being hounded by enemies

June 6, 2021

What Joe Manchin's constituents think of his bipartisanship

Story by Dan Merica, CNN
Updated 9:05 AM ET, Sat June 5, 2021

Farmington, West Virginia (CNN)When Joe Manchin was in the fight of his political life, vying for reelection in a state where being a Democrat had long been out of fashion, the senator's opening message to voters focused on the place he knew best: Farmington, West Virginia.

Manchin argued throughout his last reelection campaign that it was his upbringing in the small Appalachian town set on the banks of Buffalo Creek -- from working at his family's local grocery store to watching how relationships in his hometown transcended political lines -- that helped make him a politician who would listen to even his most ardent detractors and use his power to make sure every bipartisan avenue was exhausted before he picked the best option for the people of his state.

That persona has served Manchin well, to date. He's survived election after election in this increasingly Republican bastion to become the most conservative Democrat in an evenly divided Senate -- a role that allows him to put his stamp on anything his party wants to accomplish, which includes just about everything these days. Manchin has wielded this influence to change the coronavirus relief package, force Democrats to try and work with Republicans on infrastructure and squash any talk of getting rid of Senate rules that would make it easier for the Democrats, currently in the majority, to pass President Joe Biden's agenda. But back home, Manchin is facing a set of opposing forces. Republicans in the state, loyal to former President Donald Trump and consumed with the partisan politics of the moment, have grown annoyed at how Manchin signals a willingness to break with Democrats but often votes with the party in the end. And many Democrats in the state, worn down by years of Republican domination, worry that Manchin's undying focus on bipartisanship is no longer possible when the Republican Party is unwilling to meet in the middle.

This tension has forced the tenets of Manchin's personal and political story to run up against a changing world....
His while career has been built trying to find common ground with Republicans, even when Democrats dominated WV--it's unclear whether he would ever change, even though both Democrats and Republicans are often dissatisfied with his approach.

March 23, 2021

Idea: Put an excessively high tax on conventional ammo to discourage mass killings

but not on non-lethal ammo like rubber bullets. The tax would strongly inhibit the use of guns as lethal weapons outside of the military. Hunters might be granted a very modest amount of ammo tax-free. Why? The new conservative Supreme Court will never allow banning of guns, yet taxes are certainly allowed and can be used to discourage gun use, which is probably the only way to stop mass killings as all sociopaths or psychopaths can't be identified in advance or even prevented from having weapons.

March 7, 2021

The liberty bill Senate filibuster proposed exception for the bill of rights

Why not create another exception for the Senate filibuster for bills expanding liberty, by this, we mean democratic practices and rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights as well as the 13,14,15,19,24, and 26th amendments. HR1 could then fall within this exception.

This would fall under the rubric of weakening but not eliminating the filibuster. Exceptions already exist for the budget (reconciliation), federal judges and Supreme Court judges.

February 19, 2021

The Republican 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Reagan, Ailes, Limbaugh and Trump

The 4 Horsemen of the Conservative apocalypse remade and are remaking the Republican Party-- now the Trumpubican party in all but name.

Reagan united the evangelicals with the old-fashioned conservative Republicans-- his revolution made it OK to believe unscientific hokum like "trees were the major cause of pollution" leading to denial of global warming while setting in motion the anti-big government, ultra pro-private market bias of the GOP.

Ailes founded Fox News as a Republican propaganda network, that he thought would prevent future Nixon's from getting impeached.
Lee Atwater should get an honorable mention for being the greatest propagandist in recent American history. Fox has brainwashed more folks than just about any other source, using a mix of real news with biased news and an outpouring of noxious opinions from pundits. Ailes is the "man behind the curtain, even more so than Rupert Murdoch Fox's other co-founder."

Rush Limbaugh was king of the radio talkers and probably the most influential radio host in history. He single-handedly helped convert rural America into a bastion of right-wing bias through his humorous but ugly show every weekday.

Trump broke so many political norms, and amped-up political division to levels not seen in America since the Civil War, he politicized a pandemic leading to over 500,000 deaths and he incited an insurrection against the Capital in a bid to steal an election he lost by 7 million votes. Most Republicans support him to this day, and believe his version of reality, which is in la-la land, revolving around whatever he perceives is in his own best interests.

Honorable mention to Q, who has redirected the part of the GOP toward bizarre conspiracy theories, preparing them for the next big lie, and the one after that. Honorable mentions to the Koch brothers for the Tea Party and (as suggested by a poster) Newt Gingrich who was a politically talented hack serving as Speaker who with divisive rhetoric pushed policies that would harm the US for years.

Now only Trump and Q remain (and Q could be more than one person)-- who will replace the others?

February 14, 2021

Graham, Cruz and friends should be referred to as "Donald J Trumps" similar to "Benedict Arnolds"

since they don't seem to recognize that his name now conveys someone who promotes violent sedition through lies, backstabbing his own VP, putting Pence's life in danger, all in an attempt to cheat his way to an election he lost. They would probably be honored by the appellation until they subsequently realize what connotation it will eventually have for the general public.

February 14, 2021

Wonder why all those republicans who thought the trial unconstitutional didn't abstain

That IMHO would be the proper response to an unconstitutional trial, which is what they have stated about the impeachment-- certainly guilty or not guilty verdicts are not appropriate if the trial itself is not "legal." Ironic that Mitch McConnell was the one who ensured the trial would start after trump left office.

The House managers should have raised this alternative for those senators who did not believe there should be a trial. Oh well, the answer is probably that they would be considered traitors by Trumpers even for doing that.

February 13, 2021

The Republican party has lost its way since Watergate and 1974

In the modern era, since the 1920s, the Republican Party has traditionally been focused on self-interest-- lower taxes, less government, individual liberty, etc, so it's not surprising that GOP Senators of today act in THEIR own perceived self-interest, not the interests of the country. That was not always the case though. In 1974, it was his loss of support from GOP Senators that forced Nixon to resign. Of course, the country then itself was more supportive of American political traditions and wary of would-be autocrats.

There is no doubt that GOP Senators would have voted to convict him in an impeachment trial in 1974 forcing Nixon's resignation. His resignation ended his political career in disgrace. Trump's career should have ended in disgrace with a conviction in the Senate for inciting an insurrection against the country whose Constitution he had sworn to uphold, but thanks to craven, self-interested GOP Senators, he could easily run again in 2024. He will even claim vindication by not being convicted.

Why the difference between then and now? The quality of character of those elected to Congress (many had fought in wars like WWII against authoritarian regimes), and the culture of party-first created by a right-wing propaganda machine perfected first by Nixon's trainees, like Roger Ailes and Lee Atwater. Ailes' Fox News and their propaganda-spewing ilk coupled with social media of today, basically have created a party ripe for a man with authoritarian impulses like Trump. their Frankenstein monster, to take control. As a footnote, Ailes himself started Fox News so that another Nixon, a corrupt GOP President, would never be forced from office again, and he has indeed prevailed, though no longer alive to celebrate.

Our country faces a very uncertain future because our system favors a two-party system to ensure stability by balancing political power and one of the parties, the GOP, has now been completely corrupted by a manipulative self-reinforcing propaganda system that will lead to authoritarian leaders and the inevitable loss of American freedoms gained over more than 200 years.

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