Friday Talking Points -- A Grown Man Running Against A Six-Year-Old

[ Posted Friday, May 3rd, 2024 – 18:08 UTC ]

Again, we open with a joke or two. From last weekend's White House Correspondents' Dinner, President Joe Biden got off a few good burns on the man he's running against:

The 2024 election is in full swing. And yes, age is an issue. I'm a grown man running against a six-year-old.

Age is the only thing we have in common. My vice president actually endorses me.

Continue Reading »

Biden Addresses Campus Protests

[ Posted Thursday, May 2nd, 2024 – 15:55 UTC ]

Today President Joe Biden gave a short address on the spreading campus protests and violence over the war in Gaza. In doing so, he had an awfully fine line to walk, since both the Palestinians and the Israelis have valid views and political positions that are worth respecting. So he tried to thread this needle very carefully in his prepared statement.

But instead of commenting at length on Biden's remarks, today I am just going to present them unedited. Personally, I have not written about the situation in Gaza, Israel, or on American college campuses because I find I can sympathize with both sides' arguments to some degree or another. Which translates to: "I don't have anything profound to add to the conversation either way." Perhaps this is a cop-out, but the way I see it is that both sides certainly have a point -- but also that neither side is completely blameless.

Continue Reading »

M.T.G. (Full Of Sound And Fury) Promises M.T.V.

[ Posted Wednesday, May 1st, 2024 – 16:01 UTC ]

So here we go again. Is the threat real, or it is just some furious grandstanding? When dealing with the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene, it's always impossible to tell....

Representative Greene gave a little press conference this morning where she threatened to make good on her "motion to vacate the chair"... next week. In case you haven't been following this particular soap opera, here's where things stand as of now:

M.T.G. has been threatening to force the House of Representatives to hold a no-confidence vote on Speaker Mike Johnson, pretty much ever since he took office. Johnson, upon taking the speakership, was in far too weak of a position within his own caucus to demand a change to the rule that the previous Republican speaker (Kevin McCarthy) had rashly agreed to -- which states that any one member can force the House to hold such an "M.T.V." vote at any time. As we saw last year, when McCarthy was ousted (the first speaker in U.S. history to ever be deposed), this is no idle threat. Greene has used this threat as her own personal Sword of Damocles to threaten Johnson not to do anything she didn't want him to do. Which is mostly: "getting anything at all actually done in the House -- especially if it involves Democrats." Johnson has actually bowed to reality (or, to put it another way: "done a responsible leadership job in a divided Congress") several times now, to avoid disaster on must-pass bills. He has incurred the wrath of Greene each time. A month and a half ago, when Johnson passed the budget bills with Democratic help, Greene actually did file a motion-to-vacate measure. But she did so in a parliamentary way that didn't actually force the vote. So it has just sat there dormant until now.

Continue Reading »

War On Weed To Officially Wind Down

[ Posted Tuesday, April 30th, 2024 – 15:52 UTC ]

[Irreverent editorial/karmic observation: One can't help but wonder why this story couldn't have broken ten days ago... on 4/20....]

Today it was confirmed that the federal government is finally going to officially retreat in fighting the War On Weed. The feds are backing down, for the first time in modern history. The Department of Justice is recommending moving marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to Schedule III, after a required period of public commentary. It is not a complete capitulation in the War On Weed, but it is indeed a historic step in the right direction -- and the first one ever taken. So while this is not the end of the road for the pro-legalization activists, it is an enormous milestone and should be celebrated (even as only a partial victory).

Continue Reading »

Program Note

[ Posted Monday, April 29th, 2024 – 15:57 UTC ]

I have to apologize, because there will be no new column today. I didn't even have time to put together a re-run column either, sorry!

I had outside appointments today that sprang up unexpectedly, but (conveniently-enough) the Trump trial in New York City was also on a hiatus today, so at least I didn't miss anything under the big circus tent.

Regular (new!) columns will resume tomorrow, I promise, and mea culpa for just posting this quick note today.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


Friday Talking Points -- Starting The Nerd Prom Jokes Early

[ Posted Friday, April 26th, 2024 – 17:15 UTC ]

This week was supposed to begin (for us, since we measure weeks from Friday to Friday) with a Donald Trump rally in North Carolina last Saturday. After being cooped up in a courtroom all week listening to the lawyers haggle over jury selection, Trump was going to hit the campaign trail again to bask in the glow of adulation from his MAGA faithful (even the Proud Boys showed up!). That was the plan, at any rate.

But then the rally had to be cancelled at the last minute...

[...wait for it...]

...due to stormy weather.

[pause for rimshot]

We do apologize for that, but we thought it was worth starting off with some humor, after a particularly dry and seemingly-endless week of courtroom proceedings. Also, political humor is about to hit the spotlight this weekend, with the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner (also known locally as the "Nerd Prom"), so we thought we'd get in on the fun early.

Continue Reading »

The Trump Legal Marathon

[ Posted Thursday, April 25th, 2024 – 16:15 UTC ]

There was activity in three separate court cases against Donald Trump today: two major courtroom events, as well as a ruling in an older case. The big ones were the continuation of Trump's current criminal trial in New York for another day of testimony (which ended with the start of the first cross-examination of a witness by the defense), and the Supreme Court finally (after a pointless two-month delay) hearing Trump's sweeping claims to presidential immunity. The ruling was from a judge in New York who just rejected Trump's move to hold a new trial or at least reduce the damages in the $83 million civil judgment against him for defaming E. Jean Carroll. The judge shot down both notions, so Trump's still on the hook for the full amount. But it was the two other courtrooms which were splashed across the headlines.

It can be tough to read the Supreme Court tea leaves and guess how each justice is going to rule on any particular case, but the consensus that seems to be emerging among court-watchers today is that Trump's breathtakingly-broad claim to presidential immunity (which included his lawyers struggling to justify how a president could order SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political opponent, or even to stage a coup, without facing any sort of legal risk for doing so) will almost certainly not survive intact. However, the consensus also seems to be that the appellate court decision that denied all of Trump's claims might be amended by the high court.

Continue Reading »

Arizona Republicans Relent On Draconian Abortion Law

[ Posted Wednesday, April 24th, 2024 – 15:25 UTC ]

Arizona Republicans (a few of them, at any rate) just pushed back against the extremist forced-birth movement within their party, in a big way. The lower house in the Arizona legislature just passed a measure that will repeal the state's Draconian abortion law. This is the law that was written during the Civil War and only had one exception in it: abortions were permitted to save the life of the mother. Rape and incest victims weren't included. Abortions were prohibited -- complete with a jail sentence for the doctor -- from Week Zero. This is precisely the type of law the most extreme forced-birthers want to see nationwide, it bears mentioning. If your position is that abortion equals murder, then there is no justification for any abortion that isn't done to save the mother's life, period. So to have Republicans cast the deciding votes to repeal such a measure is a very big deal, because it is the first time since the Dobbs decision was handed down that a Republican-run legislature has voted to relax forced-birth laws.

The motives behind such a move are pretty transparent. The three Republicans who voted with all of the Democrats did so for reasons of self-preservation. They thought (quite rightly) that their chances of being re-elected in their moderate districts would improve if they supported getting rid of this law. In fact, they may have improved the chances of the Republican Party at large in the state, although the Republicans who voted to keep the Civil War law in place probably don't see it that way.

Continue Reading »

Trump's Cameraless Trial

[ Posted Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024 – 16:55 UTC ]

Today I found myself -- while reading the liveblogging from the lucky reporters who are covering the criminal trial of Donald Trump this week -- wondering how everything would be different if television cameras were allowed inside the courtroom. The reporters themselves occasionally lapse into petulant complaining about the restraints put on them by not having access to modern devices, and so their reporting has a kind of old-timey flavor to it (in a way). You can even picture one of them in a dapper hat with a "PRESS" card shoved in the hatband racing to a bank of pay phones to diligently phone in their copy and scoop their competitors. Well, you might have to try hard to picture that (depending on how old you are), but it's at least fun to contemplate while waiting for the next update from the courtroom. But how would this all be different if the whole trial were being carried gavel-to-gavel on cable news? And would this be a good thing or a bad thing, in general?

Many commented, after the death of O. J. Simpson, how his murder trial changed American courtrooms -- and television -- forever. Not having personally watched a single minute of it when it took place, I cannot attest to the truth of this, but I guess it is a fair point to make. So how would The People of New York v. Donald Trump be different if he were getting the full O. J. treatment right now?

Continue Reading »

House Republicans In Disarray, Once Again

[ Posted Monday, April 22nd, 2024 – 15:53 UTC ]

Republicans in the House of Representatives truly are their own worst enemy. It has been this way since the Tea Party revolt, more than a decade ago. And it shows no signs of changing or abating any time soon.

Here is the basic dynamic: House Republicans want to accomplish things, but most of the time they can't even get their own act together enough to get bills passed through their own chamber. The hardliner faction among them takes a "my way or the highway" approach and demands 100 percent of everything on their agenda. A lot of this is seriously radical stuff, so the more-moderate Republicans balk at voting for it. The speaker makes a choice and either puts the totally radical bill on the floor or he strips their stuff out and puts a more-reasonable bill on the floor. Either way leads to furious infighting among the GOP. For the radical bills, no (or very few) Democrats vote for them. Any radical bills that pass (most of them fail because some Republicans from swing districts refuse to vote for them) then go over to the Senate, where they immediately die. For the reasonable bills, Democrats vote for them en masse (as long as there aren't any deal-breaking "poison pills" in the bill). Reasonable bills pass with all (or almost all) Democrats voting for them and the reasonable Republicans (about half of them, give or take) also voting for them. But this inevitably leads to the hardliners trying to force out their own speaker. This already happened to John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and Kevin McCarthy -- and now Mike Johnson is threatened by the same fate. The infighting is fierce during these challenges to the party leadership. Some Republicans enjoy fighting with fellow Republicans more than they enjoy sparring with Democrats, it seems.

Continue Reading »