Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The Democrats and the filibuster

Ezra Klein has moved to the New York Times, and he has a very good piece up today.  His argument is familiar to anyone who follows his work, but well-argued and definitely worth reading. 

He begins with this:

President Biden takes office with a ticking clock. The Democrats’ margin in the House and Senate couldn’t be thinner, and midterms typically raze the governing party. That gives Democrats two years to govern. Two years to prove that the American political system can work. Two years to show Trumpism was an experiment that need not be repeated.

Two years.

This is the responsibility the Democratic majority must bear: If they fail or falter, they will open the door for Trumpism or something like it to return, and there is every reason to believe it will be far worse next time. To stop it, Democrats need to reimagine their role. They cannot merely defend the political system. They must rebuild it.

Klein believes that Democrats understand the need for bold action that provides clear benefits to people who are struggling and skeptical of government.  And he thinks they know what needs to be done.  However, he is worried that good policy intentions will die in the Senate unless the filibuster is eliminated, which he believes is unlikely:

But none of these bills will pass a Senate in which the filibuster forces 60-vote supermajorities on routine legislation. And that clarifies the real question Democrats face. They have plenty of ideas that could improve people’s lives and strengthen democracy. But they have, repeatedly, proven themselves more committed to preserving the status quo of the political system than fulfilling their promises to voters. They have preferred the false peace of decorum to the true progress of democracy. If they choose that path again, they will lose their majority in 2022, and they will deserve it.

Klein makes the case for structural democratic reform as well as anyone, I recommend his piece.  Here I just want to add two additional perspectives.

Trump on his own terms

David Hopkins has an interesting take on the failure of Trump’s presidency:

Regardless of these challenges, the general verdict on Trump among historians and political scientists, reporters and commentators, and most of the Washington political community (including, at least privately, many Republicans) is guaranteed to range from disappointment and mockery to outright declarations that he was the worst president in American history. And there is little reason to expect that the information yet to emerge about the internal operations of the Trump administration will improve his reputation in the future. Instead, it’s far more likely that there are stories still to be told about the events of the last four years that history will find just as damning as today’s public knowledge.

Trump’s defenders will respond that the scholars and journalists who claim the authority to write this history are fatally corrupted by hostile bias. It’s certainly true that these are collectively left-leaning professions, and that the Trump presidency treated both of these groups as political opponents from its earliest days. So what if we tried for a moment to give Trump the benefit of the doubt by attempting to evaluate his presidency as much as possible on its own terms? Did Trump succeed in achieving what he wanted to do, even if it wasn’t what others wanted him to do?

Recommended.

Liars and Their Lies

Poor Jim Jordan, singled up with no Doug Collins, Trey Gowdy, Darrell Issa, Louis Gohmert, Mo Brooks, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, …, along side him, on 12 and 13 Jan, 2021, tried valiantly, well, at least loudly and indignantly, to pull the Republican wagon out of the ditch; the ditch that they all had taken a hand in lying the party into. Proving once again that there are none so as indignant as the scoundrel(s), Jordan indignantly rose to accuse his constituents of telling him the lies that he had been telling to them for years and was repeating at the moment and time, and to blame the Dems for letting him get by with the telling. It was all their, the both of theirs fault. All good leaders run and hide behind those they pretend to lead and all scoundrels blame those who caught them in the act.

Like Trump, before Trump, Congressman Jordan of Ohio accused Dems of doing the very things that he was defending the Republicans for having done, were in the process on doing, or were planning on doing. Always falsely, and ever loudly, making accusations meant to denigrate Democrats was Jordan’s special floor move. Now Jordan, and Trump, and the lot of this lot, want us to believe that the lies originated with their constituents, when plainly those are their fingerprints all over those lies. The lies have come home to the liars.

Henceforth: The likes of Jordan must be shouted down, ridiculed under their desks, exposed by any means for being the low-lifes they are; every time, at all times, at all turns. The sorry-assed media must no longer be allowed their mealy-mouthed false equivalencies. The armed militia groups are to be backed into the nearest ocean, or lake, and drowned by the weight of their own weaponry. Ammon Bundy, Majorie Taylor Greene, Mo Brooks, Tommy Tuberville, Lauren Boebert, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Rebekah Mercer, Steve Bannon, and some others, are to be arrested on sight and handed over to the soon to be newly sanitized FBI.

Forthwith, Fox News, Facebook, and YouTube are to be sued into penury as an example to others.

Historians are going to be very busy for a long time.

Impeachment, again

I want to revisit my earlier post on impeachment.  I am more inclined to support impeachment today than I was 6 days ago, although it is still far from clear that impeachment makes sense. 

Trump has done great damage to this country by making clear that congressional Republicans will allow a lawless, authoritarian president who is popular with Republican primary voters to get away with almost anything.  Many of them would have let Trump subvert the 2020 election.  Our goal should be to prevent another Republican from using the Trump playbook. 

Given the current alignment of forces in U.S. politics, to prevent another Trump from attacking our democracy our priorities should be 1) to help Democrats win elections by discrediting the Republican party, especially its Trumpiest members, and 2) to discredit the right-wing conspiracy mongers and especially the terrorist groups that have thrived with Trump’s encouragement.  These are the factors that should drive our thinking about impeachment.  (If you think that impeachment should be judged without taking these broader political consequences into account, here’s a question for you:  would you really prefer impeaching Trump and having Democrats lose the House and Senate in 2022 to letting Trump scamper away unimpeached but having Democrats keep control of Congress?)

It is far from clear that impeachment will help safeguard our democracy. 

Will impeaching Trump prevent another Republican authoritarian from using Trump’s playbook?  This seems unlikely.  Impeaching Trump does little to prevent another Republican from using Trump’s playbook.  Punishing Trump because he attempted to overthrow an election in a violent but inept and buffoonish way at the end of his term when many in his party consider him a liability and are ready to be done with him will not deter future authoritarians.  Future authoritarians may have better opportunities to undermine democracy (a closer election, more popular support).  Or they may be better able to exploit opportunities to undermine democracy.  (Think President Cruz or Hawley, both of whom undoubtedly think of themselves – probably rightly – as much more strategic and operationally capable than Trump.  What makes them less likely than Trump to successfully subvert an election is lack of charisma and populist appeal.)

Exploiting the Stupids: The Intellectual Foundation of Movement Conservatism

Exploiting the Stupids: The Intellectual Foundation of Movement Conservatism

 From about the age of 8-12, I read a lot of sci-fi.  Along the way, I stumbled across Robert Heinlein, in particular his novel The Day After Tomorrow, initially published as The Sixth Column.  It was so crudely racist I avoided from then on anything with Heinlein’s name on it.

The plot went like this: The evil PanAsians have conquered America and set up a vicious tyranny.  A few scientists, holed up in a secret lab in the mountains of Colorado, have discovered a powerful weapon that can turn the tide.  They’ve tweaked it so it can kill only “Asians”, leaving white people unaffected.  How to organize a nationwide resistance that can take advantage of it?

The PanAsians, to pacify their subjects, have permitted religious activity to continue, so the scientists organize a new religion.  They use their skills to perform “miracles” that suck in the ignorant masses.  Meanwhile, a cadre is secretly recruited who use the religion as a front in order to disseminate the new weapon and train an underground army who know how to deploy it.  

Simple Commenting Practices at Angry Bear

Commenting Information & Practices

  1. We do not see every comment made on every post. We are also not at Angry Bear all the time.
  2. Notify us about offensive, discriminatory, etc. comments. Dan, Eric or myself will review them and take action if needed. Understand, we do not see everything.
  3. Confine your actions to reporting. Try not to answer someone who is making offensive, discriminatory, etc. comments as it may encourage them.
  4. Becoming indignant with us for offensive, discriminatory, etc. comments does not make the comment go away.
  5. Making an offensive, discriminatory, etc. comments will likely result in a comment ending up in the trash “initially.”
  6. If a commenter persists in bad commenting practices, the commenter will end up in “spam” and banned.
  7. To my knowledge, Authors can see the comments to their posts.
  8. To my knowledge, authors do have the ability to trash a comment.

Commenting to Posts

  1. Stay on topic to a Post. Off-topic comments can be deleted.
  2. Each week, Dan puts up an Open Thread. Off-topic comments or subjects can be posted to the Open Thread. The rules are the same for offensive, discriminatory, etc. comments on the Open Thread.
  3. If you disagree with the author on the a post subject, you need to post your own references to support your point.
  4. Picking a fight with the author of a comment is not going to help you make your point.

I believe just about everyone understands this. It is no different elsewhere.

Unfit

For eight years Mitch McConnell did everything in his power to block any initiative by President Obama; no matter the cost to the nation. It simply wouldn’t do to have the Democrats governing, to have a Democrat in the White House; especially not a popular black President. He never was much on democracy. McConnell couldn’t thwart the will of the people in the 2008 presidential election, but, from the start, it was ‘whatever it takes’ to ensure that Obama was a one-term president. Things didn’t get any better; Throughout the eight years. whenever Obama reached out his hand, McConnell spat in it.

In Obama’s last year in office, the year before Trump took-over, McConnell, single-handedly, unconstitutionally, denied him an appointment to the Supreme Court after Justice Scalia died in February of 2016. But one of many appointments denied during those last four years, this was the most egregious. One he bragged about for years.

In 2016, when the Obama Administration briefed McConnell on Russian interference in the election, McConnell threatened to accuse Obama of trying to tilt the election in Hillary Clinton’s favor if the Administration went public with the confirmed information. This after he had approved the expenditure of thousands of hours of the Senate’s time and millions of taxpayer dollars on an investigation into the Benghazi Incident, one that McConnell knew was a sham, an investigation meant to harm Clinton’s chances if she ran in 2016. Mitch could never find a good reason to do the right thing.

Thoughts on the Invasion of the US Capitol

Thoughts on the Invasion of the US Capitol

 It’s all happening as I write, but here are a few reactions:

1. Fortunately we see Q-Anonics, Loud Boys and other right wing crazies invading the Capitol Building and not Black Lives Matter or the Left.  Think how many lives would have been lost if it had been the other way around.

2. It will be interesting to see how deeply investigators will delve into the lax security preparations for today’s senate meeting.

3. In the end, it all comes down to one question: where do the loyalties of the police and armed forces lie?  That is always the bottom line, but we can go for decades without confronting it directly.  When the left challenges state authority the issue is never in doubt, at least in the U.S.  When the challenge comes from the right we have to hold our breath.  There were video images a few moments ago of police gently escorting Trumpists out the door and down the stairs with no apparent thought to arresting them.  This indicates at least some softness toward the cause on their part.  On the other hand, I don’t expect there will be military or police resistance to the eventual securing of the building.  If the folks in uniforms were to go over to the other side, that would be the end of the political order.

Open Threads for Off Topic Comments

Each week, Dan puts up an Open Thread post for people to use to discuss topics not related to posts. “Redundant alert,” off-topic comments or subjects to posts can be discussed in the Open Threads.

The rules are the same for hateful, discriminatory, etc. comments on an Open Thread. Don’t do it or you will be trashed or tossed into “spam.”

We do not see everything written. If we miss it, take a moment and let us know directly rather than comment on a thread.

The GOP has crossed the Rubicon

The GOP has crossed the Rubicon

 – by New Deal democrat

In the Roman Republic, military leaders automatically lost their legal authority to command at the Rubicon River in northern Italy. When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his legions, it was an act of war against the Republic. With the filing of their  Amicus brief in the Supreme Court this past week, the GOP as represented by their Congressional delegation similarly finally broke with the idea of American democracy itself. 


For the first several weeks after Trump’s railing against the election results, the GOP simply took the position that he was entitled to pursue legal remedies if he believed he was wrong. The mask was ripped off, and that pretense abandoned, when in their brief, the GOP took the core position  not just that there were allegations of errors which were entitled to be explored, but rather ***asserted as a fact*** that millions of votes in 4 swing States were invalid and should not be counted. Not because dead people voted, or people not properly registered had voted, but rather simply on the flimsiest of assertions that actions by Courts and Executive officials carrying out their respective States’ election laws rendered all of the votes cast in good faith reliance upon the law by millions of voters in those States null and void.


Here’s the “Summary of Argument” from the GOP Brief: