Will tomorrow be any different at the White House? Since we all seem to now be living in Bizarro World, wouldn't that tend to make you think that we'd get no foolishness from our president on April Fool's Day? I mean, in an April Fool's Year, shouldn't one day be set aside for nonfoolery? Maybe even that's too much to ask from this fool's paradise of a White House.
Archive of Articles for March, 2017
The Path to Marijuana Reform, introduced today by Senator Wyden and Congressman Blumenauer is a package of three bills that pave the way for responsible federal regulation of the legal marijuana industry, and provide certainty for state-legal marijuana businesses which operate in nearly every state in the U.S.
A second nuke is about to be dropped in the Senate. Metaphorically, of course. Democrats are about to mount a filibuster against Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, and in response Republicans are about to do completely away with the ability of the Senate to filibuster Supreme Court nominees. That all seems certain, at this point. But it does raise a larger question: is the practice of filibustering legislation also in danger of extinction?
There's a meme running around inside the Beltway this week concerning the likelihood of Democrats in Congress working with Donald Trump to get some legislation passed. However, much of the gossiping ignores one key question, because so far the speculation has mostly been focused on: "Will they or won't they work together, and what will it mean politically for both?" That's a valid thing to ponder, but the essential part most of this speculation misses is that any collaboration between the two is going to heavily depend on the substance of the issue, and precisely what's being proposed. Substance matters, in other words, even if it is more fun to wonder what the political fallout may be.
A little more than two months in, Donald Trump's presidency is already unique in a number of ways. One of these that has so far gotten little attention (since there's so much else going on) is Trump's complete lack of a honeymoon period with the public. Trump's job approval polling started out pretty bad and it's only gotten worse. The first few months of a presidency isn't always indicative of how successful any president will wind up, of course, but Trump is truly in a category of his own in the polls so far -- and not in a good way.
Never were the words of the Grateful Dead so fitting in the world of politics. "Trouble ahead, trouble behind" is indeed a perfect description of the spot Paul Ryan and Donald Trump found themselves in today. Because Casey Jones faced precisely the same no-win situation, and it didn't work out so good for him, either.
The Tea Party is, once again, flexing its muscles. Little noticed in the 2016 election results was the changing ratio between Tea Partiers and the Republican caucus as a whole in the House of Representatives. Republicans lost seats, but not many of these losers were Tea Partiers. This meant the relative strength of the Tea Party increased, overall. The real power dynamic, though, is that when the Tea Partiers hang together, they've got a big enough bloc to halt any Republican-only legislation cold. Which is what they've just accomplished, on the Ryancare bill. Paul Ryan was forced to concede that there will be no vote today, which means he will be robbed of symbolically voting on Obamacare's replacement on the day Obama signed it into existence, seven years ago.
You'll have to forgive me for writing this so early, since the tradition is to give a new president 100 days before such an evaluation, but these are not normal times. It's only been two months since Trump took office, but it certainly feels like a lot longer than that. Trump's pace has been pretty frantic during this period, which is the main reason why I decided to take a quick look at how Trump's presidency measures up to his campaign rhetoric.
What are the chances that the Ryancare bill will pass Congress? We are now two days from its first test, and the answer is as unclear as ever. Whatever happens is going to take the measure of the relative political strength of Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, and the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. If the Tea Partiers win this struggle, it could doom any chances for actual governance from the Republican Congress for the next few years. If the Tea Partiers lose, there may be a frenzy of primary challenges for sitting Republicans in Congress in 2018. Either way, the next two days could be definitive.
Donald Trump will doubtlessly go down in history as many things, but what we're all coming to grips with right now (a bare two months into his presidency) is that Trump will also surely be remembered as the first "Conspiracy-Theorist-In-Chief" in American history. Trump, in fact, personifies the old adage: "I've made up my mind -- don't confuse me with the facts!" This was on full display today, as the heads of the F.B.I. and the N.S.A. testified before a House committee that there is simply no evidence whatsoever that can in any way, shape, or form validate the wild claim Trump made two weeks ago -- that Barack Obama had personally wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign. This adds to a long list of people (who all have the highest security clearance and full access to such things), all of whom have now said the same thing: no evidence exists whatsoever to back up Trump's bizarre accusation. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.