ChrisWeigant.com

Congress Taking Historic Steps To Retake Some Powers

[ Posted Tuesday, February 26th, 2019 – 18:24 UTC ]

Just before I sat down to write this, the news broke that the House of Representatives had voted (245-182) to nullify President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. But rather than focusing on the personality-driven nature of this particular vote, I think it is worth taking a step back and looking at it through a bigger-picture lens. Because this isn't the only historic action Congress is currently considering when it comes to retaking constitutional powers that it had previously handed over to the executive branch. Taken together with the upcoming Senate vote on ending American involvement in the war in Yemen, this represents what could be the beginnings of a historic shift in power back to the legislative branch, which would return some power to the legislature that the framers of the Constitution never intended the president to have in the first place.

I say only "the beginnings of a historic shift," because neither effort is guaranteed to succeed, and even if both did it wouldn't fundamentally alter the power structure that is currently in place. That would require further action by Congress, and would likely need veto-proof majorities to accomplish. But we'll get to that in a moment. First, let's take a look at how we got to where we are now.

The two Article I powers in question are the power of the purse and the power to declare war. Both are important powers that were given to the Congress by the Constitution. The president is not empowered to declare war, and the president must strictly follow the budgets that Congress passes. But over time, both of these powers have been diluted.

America has not fought a declared war since World War II. We did not declare war in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq (again), Syria, or Yemen. And that's not even a complete list of places America's military has been involved with over the decades, it's worth noting. All of these were euphemistically deemed "police actions" or "limited warfare" or "peacekeeping" or other obfuscatory labels. But no matter what it was called, the president ordered in the troops, and the troops went off to wage war without the benefit of Congress actually declaring a war. This was due to various reasons, sometimes involving domestic politics and sometimes due to geopolitical concerns. But when young American men are on a battlefield shooting at an enemy who is shooting back, such semantic word games don't mean very much to those involved.

Vietnam was the most contentious of these conflicts, at home. During Vietnam (and during Korea), young men were drafted into the military. Since then the draft has never been used, which has made all the other conflicts in the past 40 years less contentious in domestic politics, since it was only a matter of life and death for those who voluntarily chose to join the military. But Vietnam caused a major shift in the politics surrounding how America goes to war. This wasn't a even really partisan issue, it's worth pointing out, since Democrats John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson got us into the war in the first place, and Republican Richard Nixon continued the war in an even bigger way during his own presidency.

But as America's war efforts finally wound down, Congress acted to restrain future presidents from getting us into such monumental messes. Or, at least, they tried to. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 was passed to address the power struggle between the commander in chief (who up until that point could order the military to war on his own) and the Congress (who was supposed to declare wars, but hadn't done so for Korea and Vietnam). This resolution limited the president's ability to wage war for extended periods of time without explicit approval from Congress.

The only problem with this scheme is that the War Powers Resolution itself may not actually be constitutional. Legislatively defining a separation of powers that the Constitution already defines is always legally dicey. To give just one example, the Supreme Court overturned the "line-item veto" law that Congress passed because they decided it gave the executive power that the legislature should properly have retained. Divvying up the power to wage war would be even more problematic, one assumes.

One has to assume this, because it has never actually been tested in the courts. For the most part, presidents have gone along with the War Powers Resolution's procedures, and for the most part, Congresses have also kept within its boundaries. No Congress has directly challenged the president's power to involve America in foreign wars under the provisions of the War Powers Resolution, in part because nobody's sure exactly how the courts would rule on such a challenge.

We may be about to find out, though. Both houses of Congress have now passed resolutions which would end America's involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, but they've still got some work to do before the challenge is officially made. The Senate successfully passed such a measure last year, but it died when a new Congress was sworn in after the midterms. The new House has now passed such a measure, and the Senate could vote on it again in the next week or so. There have been delaying tactics by Republicans, so even this round may not be the final one -- the measure may have to go through at least one more iteration before it succeeds passing both houses in exactly the same format. But it now appears that it has the votes to do so, after the stalling tactics are dealt with.

If it does pass, this will be the first time that the War Powers Resolution of 1973 will be invoked in such a fashion. Congress will directly be challenging the president's ability to intervene in a foreign war. This isn't even a war with American boots on the battlefield's ground, but it still will be a historic first for Congress. It's also worth mentioning that this effort is a bipartisan one, which it almost has to be to make it through a Republican Senate and a Democratic House.

In addition, the House today challenged the president's power to declare a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act, which was also passed back in the 1970s. This legislation was intended to address true emergencies that require the president to act quickly -- without having to wait for Congress to authorize actions he feels necessary to take. This was a giveaway of power from the legislative branch to the executive, but no one in their right mind ever envisioned a president who would use such power for anything other than a true and obvious emergency. That, of course, is no longer the case.

The National Emergencies Act has built in to it a check (or balance) to the power Congress gave to the president. Congress can vote to overturn a national emergency declaration, but (almost by design) this vote has to have a veto-proof majority. What president would sign such a measure after declaring an emergency, after all?

The House just passed such a measure, which is again historic because it is unprecedented. No president has ever had a national emergency declaration challenged in this way before. The measure passed on a (minimally) bipartisan basis, but only 13 Republicans joined the Democrats in voting to deny President Trump his border "emergency." All the other Republicans who have long railed against (Democratic) "imperial presidencies" are now shown to be nothing short of hypocrites, but that's a side issue to the big picture.

The measure now moves over to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell will be forced to bring it up for a vote (he can't just conveniently bury it). Passage in the Senate is not assured, although three Republican Senators have already indicated that they'll be voting for it with the Democrats. All it needs, if the Democrats remain united, is one more GOP vote to pass, since it only needs a majority vote. If it does pass, Trump has already sworn he will veto it, which is not surprising (seeing as how it is such a direct challenge to him).

If the measure does pass the Senate by a slim margin and if Trump does veto it, the veto will likely not be overturned. So nothing will really change, in the end, at least on Trump's so-called border "emergency."

But whether it fails or not, this is still a historic step. Congress, in both the Yemen and national emergency cases, will have issued direct challenges to presidential powers that have never previously been challenged in such a fashion before. This may signal that Congress has a newfound appreciation for regaining powers it has either let atrophy (declaring war) or given away voluntarily (emergency powers). Both may end up in court challenges, with the ultimate outcome uncertain.

To really regain these powers would mean further -- and more fundamental -- action by Congress. Nothing has been formally proposed yet, but some are already considering revisiting the National Emergencies Act in order to clearly define what constitutes a valid "national emergency." This is probably now a necessity, since Donald Trump has shown that a president acting in bad faith can use the fact that the National Emergencies Act has no definition or limits to what can be considered a national emergency within it. It really wouldn't be that hard to add some commonsense definition limiting this power, and there may actually be bipartisan support for doing so (one big goad Democrats are currently using on Republicans is to ponder what a Democratic president might one day consider a national emergency, now that Trump has thrown this door wide open). If the War Powers Act challenge is upheld by the courts, then no further changes may be necessary, but if the courts reject the challenge then it would create some incentive to revisit this issue as well.

Constitutional branches struggling for power between themselves is nothing new, of course, but what both these congressional actions represent is a newfound appetite for Congress to reassert itself on some basic constitutional powers. The outcome of both efforts is still uncertain, and they both may wind up coming to naught. But even if this turns out to be the case, the mere fact that they are even happening is still historic news, because such efforts are unprecedented in both cases. So while it's easy to get caught up in the partisan nature of the current political battles, they're both interesting in a much larger sense. Neither one really rises to the level of a "constitutional crisis," but both are (at the very least) constitutional power struggles between the executive and legislative branches. This hasn't happened -- in either case -- over the past four decades, which is why both are so historic in nature.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

76 Comments on “Congress Taking Historic Steps To Retake Some Powers”

  1. [1] 
    Paula wrote:

    Nothing has been formally proposed yet, but some are already considering revisiting the National Emergencies Act in order to clearly define what constitutes a valid "national emergency."

    One of the many things we've learned during the DJT/GOP reign of disgrace is that a number of things we've taken for granted are going to have to be turned into rules and laws. The GOP has shown how much damage can be done by people for whom rules, precedents, history and facts are expendable.

  2. [2] 
    neilm wrote:

    Paula [1]

    Spot on. We used to have an expectation of decency. I'm not disappointed in Trump, he is just the manifestation of how low the Republicans currently are in the "ends justify the means" game. Remember, the Merrick Garland disgrace was pre-2016.

  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    if we're going to really trace roots, the weaponizing of our government's customs and traditions dates back to the reagan administration. conservatives, still bitter over what happened to nixon, decided government was "the problem," and to go as reactionary as possible. so, reagan started this game of one-upsmanship that resulted in the deterioration of our institutions.

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    somewhere i read that the tone of the current conservative movement has a lot to do with the evolution of the political climate in california.

    any historical analysis on this assertion, CW?

  5. [5] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    "First, let's take a look at how we got to where we are now."

    Congress gave up their powers to the presidency and sold out to the Big Money interests and we kept/keep voting for them.

  6. [6] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    NEWSFLASH !!! The word is out, Cohen is going to testify to congress that Trump is a crook, a liar, and a cheat!

    I'm equally as astounded to hear that as was the German officer who was SO appalled to discover that gambling was going on in Rick's American Bar in Casablanca!!!

    I wouldn't be surprised if Cohen also revealed that water is wet, the bear shits in the forest, and Russians hacked the DNC emails!!

    Just ain't NO END to the shocking goin' on these days!!

  7. [7] 
    TheStig wrote:

    "America has not fought a declared war since World War II."

    Yes indeed - but Congress has issued a declaration of war only four times BEFORE WWII. From its inception, The United States has fought literally dozens of wars, most of them small, short and successful, with nominally sovereign powers, most of them small and economically weak.

    I would argue that this state of affairs is/was COMPLETELY in accordance with the US Constitution. I would also argue that the notion that this somehow unconstitutional is a modern anachronism....a visceral response to 20th Century conflicts that have have not resulted in a clear US victory. Korea and Vietnam loom large on The National Memory. Atomic Weapons loom large in the National Calculus.

    The Constitution gives Congress the power to create, finance and regulate the armed forces of the United States. The President is the Commander in Chief who decides what to do with the military structure Congress creates.

    Declarations of War are simply declarations of fact:

    "excuse me, fellow nations, there is a shooting war about to occur, or already in progress. You might want to divert your shipping, alter your vacation plans and find new trading partners until further notice. We are sorry for the inconvenience."

    Throughout history, formal declarations of war between nations are an exception, not the rule.

    The United States has elected an unqualified, nominally unpopular and quite possibly seriously deranged man as President and (therefore) Commander in Chief. Among Congressional solutions to the problem, if they collectively think it's a problem, are power of the purse (military and nonmilitary), impeachment, creative use of the War Powers act and/or waiting out the clock until the next election. It is going to be a long two years.

  8. [8] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Paula-
    Not sure how more rules and laws are going to have an effect on people for whom rules, precedents, history and facts are expendable.
    ------

    Neilm is right that we used to expect decency and that Trump is just a manifestation of how Republicans are in the end justifies the means game.

    And Republicans are how they are because Democrats are how they are in the end justifies the means game.

    And the Democrats are how they are because people keep falling for the end justifies the means excuse that Democrats use for selling out to the Big Money interests that they have to take the Big money to compete with the Republicans that are more corrupted by the Big Money they take.

    And people keep voting for the Democrats.

    Our system is set up so that when we don't get decency from our representatives we don't vote for them anymore.

    It does no good to expect decency while validating indecent behavior.

    Facts, history and precedents show that Big Money legislators pass legislation that benefits the Big Money interests over ordinary citizens no matter what the legislators promised during the campaign.

    Validating that behavior with a vote for more is not going to change the behavior.

    It's time for CITIZENS to take some historic steps to retake the power they have ceded to the Big Money interests by participating in One Demand and end the charade that the two party Big Money controlled political process is anything more than a show to keep people from uniting against the Big Money interests.

  9. [9] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    You Weigantians are dreaming, blaming Trump on Republicans.

    YOU guys elected Trump, by nominating Hillary!!!

  10. [10] 
    SF Bear wrote:

    Is it true that Trump just offered to make North Korea the 51st state?

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    pie!

  12. [12] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    9

    You Weigantians are dreaming, blaming Trump on Republicans.

    YOU guys elected Trump, by nominating Hillary!!!

    Apparently in the throes of your ever-present Can't Remember Shit disease, you have conveniently forgotten the MAGAts and GOP minions and morons like yourself who nominated Trump.

    People in glass houses, CRS, but what does it say about a group like yours that would fall for the Trump con and nominate a "piece of shit" (your term) like Trump?

  13. [13] 
    neilm wrote:

    YOU guys elected Trump, by nominating Hillary!!!

    You conveniently forgot the primary process - Republicans nominated Trump. People then believed a lot of nonsense about email servers and the FBI bungled their job trying to be scrupulously fair and expecting a Hillary win.

    Hillary was an excellent candidate and would have need an excellent President. However the Republicans fell for a con man then ran a dirty tricks and smear campaign, while ignoring the obvious fact that Trump is totally unfit to run a buffet, let alone a country.

    Now your party CRS is a complete joke. This is sad for you, but for Pete's sake man up and accept it instead of trying to blame yet another woman for your own failures in judgement.

  14. [14] 
    neilm wrote:

    have need -> have been

  15. [15] 
    Kick wrote:

    SF Bear
    10

    Is it true that Trump just offered to make North Korea the 51st state?

    Likely not true, but I would wager without hesitation that if Trump made such an offer to the DPRK, the GOP spineless MAGAts and minions would be okay with it. :)

  16. [16] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Re "Republicans nominated Trump", and "Your (my) party is a complete joke".

    Sorry guys, I am not and never have been a Republican, (although I've voted for many Republicans in my life), but I am a member of the Libertarian party, and I've never participated in anything even remotely connected to supporting, nominating or electing Trump.

    Would tht you two could say the same about Hillary!

  17. [17] 
    Kick wrote:

    neilm
    13

    Jinks. GMTA but Neil said it best. :)

  18. [18] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Both the Republicans nominating Trump and the Democrats nominating Hillary in 2016 were the culmination of years of citizens validating the show by choosing and voting for one of the sides controlled by the Big Money interests created to divide ordinary citizens making it possible to manipulate citizens into supporting a false opposition to the other side so ordinary citizens do not unite against the Big Money interests.

    All you have to do is read the comments to know it's working. And it's no joke. It's a scam.

    This is sad for supporters of both parties, but for Pete's sake man up and accept it instead of trying to blame others for your own failures in judgement.

  19. [19] 
    Kick wrote:

    This ain't rocket science, GOP: Michael Cohen was Trump's fixer; Trump chose Cohen.

    So at what point do y'all think it'll hit the spineless morons in the Republi-Con Party that Michael Cohen was the liar/fixer in the service of Trump and that now they're performing the same function in his stead?

    Trump's 10+ years of close companionship with Mikey Cohen is not unlike Trump's current "love" and "special relationship" with the leaders of the DPRK and Russia. When these "bonds" of Poor Donald's fall apart and Kim Jong and Putin are repeatedly branded by the GOP as liars, Trump and the spineless minions will absolve themselves entirely: "I mean, whose you gonna believe, Trump or those murderous dictators!?"

  20. [20] 
    neilm wrote:

    Sorry guys, I am not and never have been a Republican

    Nonsense. You pretend you aren't a Republican, but you are just a Libertarian who thinks of himself as too good to associate with either of the main parties.

    When push comes to shove, and it is Democrat vs. Republican, you vote Republican. When you don't need to (e.g. voting for Trump in an already deep red state) you get to play at being a Libertarian. We see the same thing in California with Greens who are too good to vote Democrat because they can afford not to.

    I have a whole separate category of contempt for these people.

  21. [21] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    16

    You seem blissfully unaware that all the BS you've posted on the Idaho State Journal Politics website is easily searchable and in direct contradiction to the BS you're posting here now.

    Would tht you two could say the same about Hillary!

    Would that you'd stop making shit up for a cheap thrill, old man. :)

  22. [22] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    I haven't posted a single thing about "BS" (presume you refer to Bernie Sanders, right)

    If you're saying that something I've written contradicts my claim to being a lifelong Libertarian, you're full Of B.S., and that AIN'T got nothing to do with Bernie Sanders!

  23. [23] 
    Kick wrote:

    The Idaho voter registration rolls... just like the government farm subsidies... are also searchable, Stucki.

    Nice try, though, old man. *laughs*

  24. [24] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    Words can scarcely convey the true measure of pain that your "contempt" inflicts upon my tender heart!

    You pontificate, I suspect, out of ignorance of the difference(s) between Republicans and Libertarians.

  25. [25] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    People who are philosophically alligned with 3rd parties have to cope with the political fact of life that our system really doesn't accommodae them, which gives rise to confusion regarding forms and other paper work.

  26. [26] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    25

    The paperwork is pretty damn self-explanatory and easily completed unless you're an inveterate moron.

    https://idahovotes.gov/media/voter_registration.pdf

    In Idaho, you simply check the box marked "Libertarian," and you've have to be blind and/or stupid to accidentally check the "Republican" box.

    You lied... again. :)

  27. [27] 
    Paula wrote:

    [20] neilm:

    When push comes to shove, and it is Democrat vs. Republican, you vote Republican. When you don't need to (e.g. voting for Trump in an already deep red state) you get to play at being a Libertarian. We see the same thing in California with Greens who are too good to vote Democrat because they can afford not to.

    I have a whole separate category of contempt for these people.

    Yep!

  28. [28] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    You, like neilm, pontificate out of ignorance.

    As I understand it, we have "closed primaries" in ID, meaning if you register Libertarian, you are defacto excluded from voting in the primaries, (which are pretty much whole shebang, seeing as how Dems/Libs are an endangered species here, except for Sun Valley, where the Hollywood types live.)

    However, accommodating that fact of life of the two-party system does not in any degree influence my Libertarian philosophical inclination.

  29. [29] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    28

    Sorry guys, I am not and never have been a Republican. ~ C. R. Stucki

    Just admit you lied and stop blaming Neil and I for your inability to check a simple box on a simple form. Asshat! :)

    As I understand it, we have "closed primaries" in ID, meaning if you register Libertarian, you are defacto excluded from voting in the primaries, (which are pretty much whole shebang, seeing as how Dems/Libs are an endangered species here, except for Sun Valley, where the Hollywood types live.)

    Save us all some time and admit you're a Registered Republican. Idiot. :)

  30. [30] 
    Kick wrote:

    Hey, Stucki:

    It's so complicated, right?

    https://idahovotes.gov/media/party_affiliation.pdf

  31. [31] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    Yup, I'm a "registered Republican", but I voted for Anderson, so what does THAT make me, an 'apostate' registered Republican?

  32. [32] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    31

    Yup, I'm a "registered Republican", but I voted for Anderson, so what does THAT make me, an 'apostate' registered Republican?

    It makes you an inveterate liar, but I would wager we all knew that already from you prior posts full of repetitive bullshit and "smug" (props to Neil) ass-holiness.

    If it makes you feel better, you aren't the first and certainly won't be the last ignorant Republican who claims not to be one. :) #SSDD

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This used to be a place for enlightened debate for a good percentage of the time.

    It's a very sad commentary on and for American democracy that the level of discussion here has, for the most part, devolved into an endlessly boring back and forth consisting primarily of childish name-calling.

    Hopefully, it can be said that we're better than this!

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Paula[1]

    One of the many things we've learned during the DJT/GOP reign of disgrace is that a number of things we've taken for granted are going to have to be turned into rules and laws.

    Good point.

    What do you think about returning to a Senate where 60 votes are necessary for Supreme Court nominees etc.?

    A wise man once said that the Democrats would rue the day that they reverted to a simple majority required for votes in the Senate. He was right, I think.

  35. [35] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Liz,

    This used to be a place for enlightened debate for a good percentage of the time.

    It's a very sad commentary on and for American democracy that the level of discussion here has, for the most part, devolved into an endlessly boring back and forth consisting primarily of childish name-calling.

    And it still is a good place for enlightened debate...that also includes a good helping of “childish name-calling” mixed in for fun. If anything, it has gotten a lot nicer since “He who shall not be named” — screw it — since Michale tucked tail and found a new home to troll!

    We are better than this... when we choose to be!

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The name-calling doesn't come across to me as fun. I'm bored by it. It's so, oh, I don't know, Trumpian.

    I suppose I'll just have to get used to it … :(

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    By the way, Russ, the best debate I've ever had around here was one on the subject of torture. My debating partner? None other than Michale. Not one instance of name-calling or any other form of denigration. Go figure ...

  38. [38] 
    Kick wrote:

    EM
    33

    This used to be a place for enlightened debate for a good percentage of the time.

    It still is.

    It's a very sad commentary on and for American democracy that the level of discussion here has, for the most part, devolved into an endlessly boring back and forth consisting primarily of childish name-calling.

    FACT 1: The "childish name-calling" has actually decreased.

    FACT 2: The board policing and whining about the posts of others had also decreased until quite recently.

    Hopefully, it can be said that we're better than this!

    It can be "said" ad nauseam, but no one will actually "hear" it unless you compose a post and then invoke "Submit Comment," conveniently located beneath the box.

    Besides, who is this "we" of which you speak? I think you "said" it best when you posted:

    Why can't people just ignore what they don't want to read here by people they don't like without always making a big issue out of it.

    If you (generic you) can't do that, then you are part of the problem (general disrespect) that plagues this site. ~ Elizabeth Miller

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2018/09/14/ftp500/#comment-127106

    Hopefully "we" could do a whole lot less preaching what "we" practice and doing a whole lot more practicing what "we" preach.

    I am ever the optimist that "we" can. :)

  39. [39] 
    Kick wrote:

    Russ
    35

    On my honor as an honorable man, I posted mine before I read yours, Russ.

    You pretty much nailed it! :)

  40. [40] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Kick,

    "Why can't people just ignore what they don't want to read here by people they don't like without always making a big issue out of it.

    If you (generic you) can't do that, then you are part of the problem (general disrespect) that plagues this site." ~ Elizabeth Miller

    Actually, the you I was referring to there was, ah, you. Heh.

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I am ever the optimist that "we" can. :)

    I know YOU can but, only if you try.

  42. [42] 
    Kick wrote:

    MY LATEST BRIGHT IDEA

    I think a future Democratic POTUS should declare a "National Emergency" and appoint an additional two Supreme Court justices.

    Who's with me?! ;)

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I am!

  44. [44] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But, you don't need a national emergency declaration for that, do you?

  45. [45] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I still think a 60 vote rule would be better and I hope the next Democratic president acts with Congress to implement that.

    What are the odds? ;)

  46. [46] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS:

    The Libertarians are a separate party, and also a part of the Republican Party, based on convenience.

    It is an analog to Greens who identify as Green, but realize that in a two party system they have to vote strategically and align with the Democrats. I have no problem with this unless they get all up on their high horse about the Democrats and get to "protest" vote Green when it doesn't matter.

    Don't get me wrong, there are true Green party members who always vote Green regardless of the impact, but most of the ones I know vote for Democrats if it is a crunch vote.

    I view Libertarians and their relationship with the Republican Party in the same way. Since you admitted you voted Republican in the past you fall into the Republican/Libertarian camp (there are also the Republican/Evangelical camp and the Republican/Country Club camp making up the three largest parts of the Republican Party).

    Since subsequent research shows you registered as Republican, you can't really argue with the accusation that you are a Republican.

    At least be proud of it. Stand up and have the self dignity to say "I'm a Libertarian-leaning Republican".

  47. [47] 
    Paula wrote:

    [34] Liz: RE: 60 vote for Supreme Court, etc.

    To me that's putting the cart before the horse. The problem isn't really the "rules" so much as it is the fact that Republicans use and abuse them on a transactional basis. When one party consistently abuses rules then the specifics of the rules themselves become almost irrelevant.

    The idea of a 60 vote requirement for SCOTUS judges is supposed to force a degree of bipartisanship which is supposed to force both sides to select judges based on some kind of genuine merit that is respected by all. But this group of Repubs has been voting in judges who are rejected by members of the Bar, who espouse horrible beliefs, etc.

    So right now the reality is Dems, should they regain presidency and/or Senate will be faced with an opposition party that operates in bad faith. For years Dems have tried the tack of being honorable when they held power followed by periods of GOP abuse followed by Dems trying to hold the line again, followed by GOP abuse. Each time Dems regained they've had to dig out of a hole. And post-Blotus we'll be in a canyon.

    So my feeling is Dems need to use every tool and rule available to reverse practically everything the GOP has done and that might require a round of court stacking, impeachment of tainted judges, lots of prosecutions and new rules with teeth. And, obviously, Dems need to do everything possible to neuter the GOP; rout them and drive as many as possible out of government.

    We don't have the luxury of worrying about 60-vote thresholds right now.

  48. [48] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    This is all well and good, but did anyone hear anything today from Cohen they hadn't heard before?

    The sleazy business dealings, the racism, the messy affairs and the cheek by jowl Russian ties, all assumed and digested.

    I smirked at the 'greatest infomercial in history' quip, it does go a long way in explaining the nonchalant, clumsy dealings, with the Russians, we know Trump and his gang went about.

    Cohen also lit the light with his...'they want to know what I know about mr Trump, but not one question about mr Trump' in reference to the GOP donothings of the committee. Is it any wonder GOP run inquiries into Russian election meddling have all come to naught? To add to their collective shame and hypocrisy, the GOP members spent most of their time lambasting Cohen's character and how the proceeding was a waste of time and tax payer dosh. Obviously it's lost on these doorknobs that this weak-chinned shyster was at one time their president's most trusted and loyal confidant and that these birds of a feather once thought themselves smarter than the thinking world and able to keep their machinations under wraps. Makes one wonder what the right-wing cover up is; Trump and his slippery 2016 con-job or the GOP's cowardice and reluctance to own the Trumpian era... History will have to judge which, and most likely both, are true.

    LL&P

  49. [49] 
    Kick wrote:

    EM
    40

    Actually, the you I was referring to there was, ah, you. Heh.

    You don't say!? Did it ever cross your mind that this was quite obvious to anyone reading it who had a pulse... with the possible exception of yourself... and that you were preaching that which you weren't willing to practice... or as they like to say around here: "asking for receipts for which you weren't willing to proffer"?

    I reject your incessant prattling and double standard. Always have and always will. :)

  50. [50] 
    Kick wrote:

    EM
    43

    I am!

    Well... there is a modicum of hope for you yet. ;)

  51. [51] 
    Paula wrote:

    Also: Repubs have shown a bottomless ability to obstruct purely to deprive any Democrat of any success. So Dems need to jettison any rules that arbitrarily prevent them from their agenda items. I don't want Dems to be "abusive" - but I also don't want them to be so fearful of accusations of abusiveness that they bend over backwards and hamstring progress. Repubs will accuse them of behaving badly no matter what they do - they can't let that drive their actions.

  52. [52] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    We don't have the luxury of worrying about 60-vote thresholds right now.

    I can wait ... I guess.

  53. [53] 
    Kick wrote:

    EM
    44

    But, you don't need a national emergency declaration for that, do you?

    Good question!

    I am highly suspect that very much like the "stupid wall," a future Congress (to be determined later) of a future Democratic POTUS (also TBDL) would be highly unlikely to pass legislation required to appoint an additional two justices to the SCOTUS, and that's where the "national emergency" concept that is being rubberstamped by today's GOP would naturally kick in. :)

  54. [54] 
    Kick wrote:

    JTC
    48

    This is all well and good, but did anyone hear anything today from Cohen they hadn't heard before?

    Yes, sir.

    A: Cohen stated under oath that he knew that Donald Trump denied speaking with Roger Stone about Julian Assange/Wikileaks in a written answer to Mueller.

    B: Roger Stone stated the same thing about Trump and also denied under oath that he had spoken with Trump about Julian Assange/Wikileaks... for which he was arrested.

    A + B = C

    C: Mueller has credible evidence that Stone lied or he wouldn't have indicted/arrested him for it. If Stone lied under oath, then Trump lied in his responses to Mueller.

    We have foreign allies who routinely intercept conversations and turn them over to the USIC, and then there are moles and other such things. Poor Donald... it isn't easy being the target of a crossfire hurricane. :)

  55. [55] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    CRS, much like Michale, claims not to be a “Republican” despite always defending the GOP and attacking anyone who criticizes their actions. They can claim to be whatever title they want to give themselves, but the one that best fits them is that they both are “anti-liberal for the sake of being anti-liberal”.

    Which brings me to the question:

    Do Republicans deny climate change just to keep from having to admit the Democrats are right about something?

    Let’s face it, the GOP doesn’t think highly of their voting base. They prefer to keep things very simple - “if the Democrats support it, it must be horrible!” - so not to confuse them.

    You have the GOP still denying climate change even as Big Oil has acknowledged it as a problem that we must address. So why do they insist on ignoring/ denying the truth? Normally, we’d say that they are protecting their corporate masters; but their masters admit it is a real problem.

    I am sure that Putin has told Trump that only wimps believe in climate change, which is why he’s putting together another group of experts to prove his delusions are reality. I cannot understand why the rest of the GOP continues to deny it, given the stakes.

  56. [56] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Listen WYH

    Actually I'm one Rep/Con/Libertarian/etc. who fully acknowledges the reality of 'global warming'.

    Well into my 9th decade as a 70 yr plus, life-long gung-ho hobby gardner, I'm probably far more cognizant of the reality of it than are most of you much younger Dems.

    When I started gardening in the late 50's, folks in my high elevation, short growing season area normally set out our frost-vulnerable crops the last two wks of May, and experienced the first frost (end of growing season) between 9-1 and 9-10.

    Now, 65-70 yrs later, not much has changed for spring planting season, still last two wks of May, but these days the first killing frost normally arrives mid to late Oct., basically giving us an extra 5 -6 wks of growing season.

    Words can scarcely convey the degree of misery and hardship it (global warming/climate change, etc.) imposes upon me to have to endure an extra 5 wks of those terrible home-grown, vine ripened tomatoes!

    I can hardly wait until you coastal types quit burning all that fossil fuel, so I no longer have to endure such an extended abundance of fresh veggies!

  57. [57] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    56

    Now, 65-70 yrs later, not much has changed for spring planting season, still last two wks of May, but these days the first killing frost normally arrives mid to late Oct., basically giving us an extra 5 -6 wks of growing season.

    This typical "where I live in Podunk" spew of yours reminds me of that time many of us had quite a vigorous discussion of price-gouging laws because... despite all evidence presented to the contrary... you repeatedly insisted that price-gouging laws don't exist. That asinine insistence to deny laws exist and/or aren't enforceable even if statute seems to be quite a habit of yours, but I digress. If I recall correctly -- which I am actually trained at and therefore have a nagging habit of doing -- your "proof" of the nonexistence of price-gouging laws was your whining recollection of that time the price of honey at your local grocery store increased threefold, proving without doubt that you didn't understand the basic concept of statutes that exist to protect consumers from being price gouged on the price of essential items. *laughs*

    You should allow yourself to entertain the idea that laws exist that limit prices as well as free speech, among other things... because they do.

    But now back on topic...

    Words can scarcely convey the degree of misery and hardship it (global warming/climate change, etc.) imposes upon me to have to endure an extra 5 wks of those terrible home-grown, vine ripened tomatoes!

    While an extension of the polar vortex was overtaking the United States last month, January 2019, producing dangerous record numbers of bone-chilling freezing in North America, in portions of Australia they were simultaneously suffering through their hottest month in recorded history and life-threatening heat.

    You epitomize the ignorance and blind-eye turning of the GOP where global warming is concerned by equating weather with climate. I suspect that if you represented Podunk in Congress, you'd be like that ignorant old fool of the GOP who carried a snowball onto the floor of the Senate in 2015 in order to mock the idea of climate change by spewing ignorant bullshit about the weather outside his current location. In retrospect, 2015 was the hottest year on record climate wise but was soon eclipsed by the record setting climate of 2016.

    You should allow yourself to consider the fact that things are happening in the world that can't be measured by what's going on in your tiny little speck of dirt in Podunk... because they are. :)

  58. [58] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    You obviously don't grow veggies, not to mention, lack common sense.

    You seem to think I'm denying 'global warming' My point was that the longer frost-free season that evolved over the last 3/4 century in my part of the country, is evidence FOR 'global warming', asscap. And not only that, but also that I'm totally happy for 'global'warming', I say let's have more of it!

  59. [59] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    58

    You obviously don't grow veggies, not to mention, lack common sense.

    Of course I grow vegetables, among other things, but I suppose you think stuff only grows in soil, right old man? You should get educated and learn about hydroponics, moron. :)

    You seem to think I'm denying 'global warming' My point was that the longer frost-free season that evolved over the last 3/4 century in my part of the country, is evidence FOR 'global warming', asscap.

    "Asscap"? *laughs* Oh, come on, Stucki! Is that really the best you can do? What in Hell is an "asscap"? Oh, wait! I know what it is. It's those ignorant red and white things the MAGAts wear on their heads, right?

    If you're going to use "childish name-calling," at the very least you could learn to use the terms correctly... it's A-S-S-H-A-T... "asshat." :)

    And not only that, but also that I'm totally happy for 'global'warming', I say let's have more of it!

    Yes, I got that you thought is was an awesome thing, Stucki; anyone reading it wouldn't be able to figure that out. That's why I said you epitomized the ignorance and blind-eye turning of the GOP... because you're a-okay with doing nothing at all about the problem because... so far... nothing bad happened in Podunk.

    And that makes you a typical Republican asshat! :)

    I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you IN THE ASS!

    ~ Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper, Jaws

  60. [60] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    Sorry A-S-S-B-O-N-N-E-T-T, you don't have control over the headgear "childish name calling" protocol.

  61. [61] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    nypoet22 [4] -

    Not sure what you're referring to in CA, but perhaps it's the whole Proposition 197 thing? [That number's from memory, could be wrong]

    Pete Wilson decided to go full-on anti-immigrant way back in the 1990s. Ads were run showing immigrants streaming over the border that got compared to the Willie Horton ads (which were fairly recent, at the time, remember).

    Wilson went on to win re-election, so the GOP thought this was a dandy strategy.

    But what the real legacy turned out to be was the wholesale decline and near-death of the GOP in CA. Since that time, Dems have absolutely dominated statewide offices and our House delegation (with the exception of Ah-nold, of course, who wasn't really a true Republican). The deep blue nature of CA today can be traced back to the anti-immigrant GOP tactic in the 1990s.

    At least, I think that's what you're referring to...

    TheStig [7] -

    Yes indeed - but Congress has issued a declaration of war only four times BEFORE WWII.

    OK, lemme guess... 1812 (Britain), Spanish-American (Spain, obviously), Mexican-American (Mexico), and WWI (Germany), right?

    The Revolution predated what we call Congress, so that one doesn't count, and in the Civil War we didn't have an actual foreign enemy, so they probably didn't have an actual declaration of war, I would think.

    C. R. Stucki [9] -

    Hey, don't blame me, I voted for Bernie!

    Heh.

    SF Bear [10] -

    Nope, that was a thing on Jimmy Kimmel's show... amazing how many people agreed with the fake interviewer, though... P.T. Barnum was right...

    Kick [42] -

    I've heard this, and I've even heard the idea that Dems should just go whole hog and appoint FOUR more justices.

    Seems fitting payback for Merrick Garland, personally.

    neilm [46] -

    When California had open primaries, I used to register as a member of the "Rock and Roll Party." I had read an article that said there were hundreds of thousands who had so registered (even though such a party does not, in fact, exist), so I thought it was a great idea.

    Then we closed the primaries again, so now I register as a Democrat.

    OK, for the rest of it...

    I am a firm believer in coining new words, so any assheadgear is OK with me.

    HOWEVER, I agree that the namecalling has gotten too out of hand here, and would urge everyone to get more creative and on-point in their insults.

    As was once said: Profanity is the crutch of the inarticulate mother--

    Well, maybe I shouldn't finish that last word, upon reflection...

    Heh.

    -CW

  62. [62] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    As was once said: Profanity is the crutch of the inarticulate mother--

    Indeed.

  63. [63] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    60

    Sorry A-S-S-B-O-N-N-E-T-T, you don't have control over the headgear "childish name calling" protocol.

    Okay, nice try, but very poor spelling! *wink*

    Call me whatever you want; I love it. I actually used to get paid by taxpayers' dollars to insult people on a regular basis... while I trained them, of course. It was literally my directive to knock some sense into them. :)

    There is literally nothing that anyone can hurl in my direction that bothers me one whit, and I actually give points for creativity... so bring it on, old man. Having said all that, I do take exception to one thing, and I ain't going to tell you what it is because then you'll prattle on and on about that very thing unabated. :)

  64. [64] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW
    61

    As was once said: Profanity is the crutch of the inarticulate mother--

    When hurled alone, I tend to agree. When surrounded by articulate subject matter and sprinkled in to make a point, I have seen Balthy, Neil, Paula, TS, and particularly yourself employ its use to very great effect. :)

  65. [65] 
    Kick wrote:

    Oops... my bad. I inadvertently left out Russ in [64]. Yes, I listen when I hear. ;)

  66. [66] 
    Kick wrote:

    EM
    62

    Indeed.

    Whining incessantly about profanity is also the crutch of the inarticulate mother--

    ;)

  67. [67] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    Tell us all about it, asschapeau!

  68. [68] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    67

    Beg more! ;)

  69. [69] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    Your wish is my command, Asssombrero! Or, how about Asshut (Ger.)?

    Sorry, I'm running out - how about Asshatski, in honor of Trumps "collus " - oops, I mean "conspiracy", same thing!

  70. [70] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS

    Asshut!? Well, okay. I will give you an "E" for effort.

    Additionally, you appear to be learning something here... whether or not that was your intention. ;)

  71. [71] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    Why do you question "Asshut"? Evidently you don't speak German, right?

    Sorry, no "learning" going on here.

  72. [72] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Pitching in...

    Assgatspy
    Buttberet
    Fezanus

    ...to name three

    LL&P

  73. [73] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    bootybeanie?

  74. [74] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    71

    Evidently you don't speak German, right?

    Wieder falsch.

    Sorry, no "learning" going on here.

    Natürlich nicht. *lacht*

  75. [75] 
    Kick wrote:

    JTC
    72

    Not bad. :)

  76. [76] 
    Kick wrote:

    JL
    73

    bootybeanie?

    Okay. :)

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