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Juvenile Political Violence In Congress

[ Posted Wednesday, November 15th, 2023 – 17:36 UTC ]

What is one to make of the sudden rise in physical altercations (or threats thereof) in the halls of Congress? Well, you can play it for comedy, that's certainly the first impulse. Or you can adopt a sort of "Tsk, tsk!" tone and go for the moral highroad. Then there is the traditional fallback of the opposition party using it to score political points. But in these uncertain times (to say the least) one might be tempted to fit this into a bigger picture and say it is part and parcel of a dark and very dangerous trend in American politics right now: the normalization and acceptance (by one party) of political violence.

Let's take each of these in turn. Feel free to support any of them -- they all make a certain amount of sense, and they're not mutually exclusive (you can mix and match). And only time will tell whether this trend accelerates or continues at the school-playground level it's been at this particular week.

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Budget Bill Passes House

[ Posted Tuesday, November 14th, 2023 – 17:17 UTC ]

The House of Representatives actually did their job today -- which is surprising enough right there -- but the truly shocking part (to me, at any rate) is that they did so three whole days early! America is facing the possibility of a government shutdown just after midnight Friday, which normally would have resulted in a standoff right up until the last possible minute -- followed by a legislative frenzy to get something on President Joe Biden's desk to avoid the shutdown. That the House passed a bill late on Tuesday seems like progress, at least using the measuring stick of how things normally happen in one of these standoffs.

The vote was 336-95, with 209 Democrats and 127 Republicans voting for it and two Democrats and 93 Republicans voting against it. Although this is very similar to what Speaker Kevin McCarthy did in the last round of "shutdown showdown," it seems for the moment that Speaker Mike Johnson will be able to keep his job afterwards. The hotheads in the GOP seem to be giving Johnson a free pass on how he passed the bill (and what it contains), due mostly to him inheriting the entire situation right at the beginning of his speakership. Or perhaps they just don't want to go through the chaos of trying to pick another speaker right away. For whatever reason, Johnson's job appears safe -- for now, at least.

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Trump's Dystopian Plans For A Second Term

[ Posted Monday, November 13th, 2023 – 17:38 UTC ]

Donald Trump is not being coy about what he would do if he became president a second time, and his vision for his second term is downright frightening. He would rule as a strongman or dictator and implement all of the darkest fantasies both he and his even-more-frightening advisors have been having for years. This is not an overblown or hysterical thing to say anymore -- if anything, it is the polite and watered-down version, since I didn't use the words "Nazi" or "Hitler" in describing Trump's dystopian plans.

Think I am overreacting? This past weekend, Trump gave a speech on the subject of Veterans Day. Here's the important part, delivered towards the end:

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Friday Talking Points -- Women's Freedom Wins The Day

[ Posted Friday, November 10th, 2023 – 18:03 UTC ]

There were supposed to be three big political stories this week, but in the end two of them turned out to be duds. Donald Trump testified at his New York fraud trial, but without video or audio recordings of him answering questions under oath, the impact was significantly lessened. The other Republican presidential candidates (the five who qualified, at any rate) met for their third Republican debate, but it mostly turned out to be a snoozefest.

Tuesday night, however, more than lived up to expectations. The off-year elections which were held ended up as a big night for Democrats almost across the board. Put quite simply: abortion rights won. Big time. Everywhere.

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Examining The Whole Field

[ Posted Thursday, November 9th, 2023 – 17:05 UTC ]

So last night we got the third Republican debate and it wasn't even worth taking notes for. I kept thinking to myself that it was the most pointless exercise in politics around, really. To be fair, with fewer candidates on the stage, they each got plenty of screen time to talk, there were only one or two dustups where people talked over each other (when Vivek Ramaswamy tried to bully Nikki Haley, to no avail), and the subjects they discussed were indeed substantive ones. It was a real presidential debate, in other words -- nowhere near as much of a circus sideshow as the previous two.

But the most notable aspect of it was the sheer meaninglessness of it all. Donald Trump was not on the stage, and he is consistently polling in the high 50s among Republican voters. This means at this point he's got an absolute lock on the Republican nomination, with roughly two months to go before the first caucus or primary is held. Unless one of the candidates from last night catches fire in a big way, it's hard to argue anything other than that it is all but inevitable that Trump will win the nomination. And nothing anybody did last night seemed like it was nearly enough to catch any kind of fire with the GOP base voters.

So instead of a microanalysis of sheer meaninglessness, I decided to write today about the rest of the field, which grew in two significant ways today. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced he would not be running for re-election (which just about guarantees a pickup for the Republicans in the Senate). And Jill Stein announced she would be the Green Party's presidential nominee this time around.

Manchin is not exactly being coy about his plans, either. He is making his bid for the presidential nomination from the "No Labels" effort -- which has tens of millions of dollars behind it and is already getting itself on state ballots in multiple states. Manchin wasted no time in making this pivot, as evidenced by his statement of retirement:

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Women's Rights Win Big

[ Posted Wednesday, November 8th, 2023 – 16:27 UTC ]

What was previously merely obvious has now become downright undeniable: the right to have an abortion is the most potent political issue around right now. When women's reproductive rights are on the ballot, it is a winning issue. Every time. This is going to help Democrats and continue to hurt Republicans for as long as women's rights are not universally protected in every state in the Union.

Looking back, it is rather amusing now to remember that right after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many political pundits were predicting that the issue would fade so quickly in the public eye that it probably wouldn't even resonate in last year's midterms (held only a few months after the decision was handed down). "Voters have short attention spans," they told each other, "so by November everyone will have forgotten all about it -- or it won't change their vote, at the very least."

They were wrong.

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Republican Field Prepares For Its Third Round

[ Posted Tuesday, November 7th, 2023 – 17:00 UTC ]

And then there were six... or five, really. The Republicans just announced who will be allowed on their debate stage tomorrow night, and they have once again winnowed their field. This time around, only six presidential candidates made the cut: Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie, and Tim Scott. However, Trump has already said he's not going to show up, which will leave only five on the debate stage. Asa Hutchinson did not qualify for his second straight debate (making me wonder why he's still in the race), and this time around Doug Burgum also got shut out (which he is not happy about). Mike Pence completely took himself out of the running last week, so the debate field has shrunk down to manageable proportions. Each candidate should get a decent amount of speaking time with only five of them on the stage, to put this slightly differently. And the moderators won't have to waste time on the longest-of-the-longshots.

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Three States To Watch In Tomorrow's Elections

[ Posted Monday, November 6th, 2023 – 16:42 UTC ]

This week is going to be chock full of big political stories, including Donald Trump testifying in his fraud trial in New York today and the third Republican debate on Wednesday. But today I thought it was worth taking a look at the other big political story of the week, since tomorrow's elections have several interesting possibilities that could reverberate beyond the borders of the states where they are held. Three states in particular are going to be impactful, no matter what the outcomes may be: Mississippi, Virginia, and Ohio.



While there are other governor's races worth paying attention to tomorrow night (Kentucky in particular, where a popular Democratic governor is being challenged by a Republican who is trying to paint him as Joe Biden's best buddy), the one in Mississippi is likely going to be the most interesting.

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Friday Talking Points -- Republican Chaos Still Reigns

[ Posted Friday, November 3rd, 2023 – 17:50 UTC ]

Republicans are in disarray. Let's start with that this week, shall we?

This week in the Senate, Republicans spent five whole hours ripping into one of their own. A group of GOP senators tried to force the hand of Senator Tommy Tuberville over his petulant hold on fast-tracking all military promotions, but to no avail.

The House, meanwhile, voted for an Israel military aid bill that is going nowhere in the Senate because (among other reasons) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is diametrically opposed to the strategy.

The House also took the time to vote down a censure of a Democrat that drew Marjorie Taylor Greene's wrath, but also voted to let George Santos keep his seat. On both votes, there were significant numbers of Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with the Democrats.

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Will Nine Republicans Step Up To End Tuberville's Tantrum?

[ Posted Thursday, November 2nd, 2023 – 16:16 UTC ]

Senator Tommy Tuberville has never worn a uniform (unless you count a football jersey). And yet he feels he knows the United States military better than those who are serving or have served. In particular, he feels that his blanket hold on military promotions is an acceptable political-theater tactic, no matter the impact on people's lives or on the readiness of our military. Last night, members of his own party publicly took him to task for his tantrum, but they didn't succeed in changing his mind. The next step would be for the Senate to vote to essentially ignore Tuberville's parliamentary tactic and get on with what used to be a routine and non-controversial duty of the Senate: approving high-level military promotions. But to achieve this would require 60 votes, meaning at least nine Republicans would have to vote to shut down Tuberville's obstructionism.

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