And Then There Were Two

[ Posted Wednesday, May 24th, 2023 – 16:46 UTC ]

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is now officially a candidate for president of the United States. He filed paperwork earlier today, and he will be making his campaign launch announcement in a fairly unconventional way (perhaps even as we write this) on Twitter (with Elon Musk). His entry into the race is not at all unexpected, and will have come as a surprise to precisely no one. He's essentially already been running since at least last year. But by announcing, DeSantis has now made it official -- the race for the Republican nomination is now a two-man race.

Of all the GOP candidates who are taking on Donald Trump, DeSantis is the only one who has gotten any actual GOP voters to pay much attention. The rest of the Republican pack has never caught on in the polling -- each and every announced and unannounced GOP contender is pulling anywhere from five percent to zero percent right now, according to the RealClearPolitics average of the polls. Only three of them (Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, and Vivek Ramaswamy) are polling above two percent. Or to put it another way: no other candidate in the race to dethrone Trump has garnered anywhere near the support which would be necessary to pull off such a feat. DeSantis has, but even he has only managed this in a limited way.

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When The Dust Settles, Biden Should Begin Litigating The 14th Amendment

[ Posted Tuesday, May 23rd, 2023 – 16:19 UTC ]

President Joe Biden could have avoided the political nightmare he is now caught in the middle of, if he had earlier worked with those in Congress who attempted to deal with the situation before it ever got to this point. But Biden, for some inexplicable reason, decided not to defuse the ticking time bomb and instead he counted on it not blowing up in his face. Assuming for the moment that somehow we'll all manage to safely get out of this situation in the next few weeks (which is still a rather large assumption, at this point), Biden should at least learn the lesson of his own inaction. When the dust settles on the current debt ceiling crisis (no matter how it works out), Biden should immediately move to avoid it ever happening again. Right after whatever deal is struck and passed through Congress, Biden should announce to the country that he has now determined that the debt ceiling itself is incompatible with the 14th Amendment and therefore unconstitutional and null and void. Doing so after the current crisis has been resolved would allow the issue to be litigated while there is no looming threat of default. The case could work its way through the courts all the way up to the Supreme Court with plenty of time to spare, and whichever way the courts ultimately ruled, it wouldn't cause a worldwide economic panic.

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The GOP Race For Veep Is On

[ Posted Monday, May 22nd, 2023 – 15:42 UTC ]

Senator Tim Scott announced today that he is running to be Donald Trump's running mate. The veepstakes has begun!

[Perhaps I am being a bit too snarky. Allow me start over....]

Senator Tim Scott today announced his longshot bid for the Republican presidential nomination. The political media is paying more attention to Scott than some of the other GOP candidates, mostly because he has already raised over $20 million and will be able to run ads right up to the New Hampshire primary date. This means he'll have to at least be taken semi-seriously, but the reality of the situation is that the best Scott will likely be able to do is to get Trump to name him to the vice presidential spot on his ticket.

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Friday Talking Points -- Negotiations Paused?

[ Posted Friday, May 19th, 2023 – 17:45 UTC ]

With twelve more days left in the month of May, the debt ceiling follies continue unabated. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy just "paused" the negotiations with President Joe Biden, which was a rather pessimistic note to close out what had otherwise been a rather optimistic week. There is speculation that both sides are using this "pause" merely as a political signal to their respective bases -- to show that they are negotiating hard and not giving away the store. If this is true, negotiations will likely resume at some point this weekend. But it's anyone's guess whether they'll agree even on a framework (much less actual legislative text) any time soon.

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Biden Caught In A Trap Of His Own Making

[ Posted Thursday, May 18th, 2023 – 15:14 UTC ]

President Joe Biden really has no excuse for the conundrum he has created for himself in next year's early primaries. He should have understood from the start what the outcome would be, but he apparently didn't think things through enough. If he had a different history in politics he might have had a believable excuse, but he just doesn't.

For instance, if Biden had hailed from California, the entire fiasco might be a little more understandable. What I mean by this is that sometimes I talk to friends of mine out here in the Golden State (who have lived most or all of their lives here), after they have either moved to or travelled through states east of the Mississippi River. And at some point they all uniformly say the same thing while describing their adventures: "I can't believe how small the other states are! You drive for a couple hours and all of a sudden you are in another state! And then you drive like another hour and you're suddenly in a third state!" Important to note: these people had been travelling in the Midwest and South. None of them (so far) had made it up to New England, which would truly have blown their California-bred minds.

In one recent such conversation, my friend made a further point (after an extended visit to Ohio): "I can't believe how much state and local boosterism there is -- all the college logos and team logos and state pride, it was just everywhere." Well, yeah. People take pride in their state and the smaller the state is, sometimes the fiercer that pride gets.

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A Good Election Night For Democrats

[ Posted Wednesday, May 17th, 2023 – 16:34 UTC ]

A small wave of primary and special elections happened yesterday, and the results were summed up in a Washington Post headline today: "Republicans Keep Having Bad Elections." This continues an 11-month streak of good showings at the ballot box for Democrats, which began immediately after the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision threw out Roe v. Wade. And while off-year primary elections and midterms aren't always a good predictor of what will happen in the next presidential race, the trendlines certainly do seem to be favoring Democrats.

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Budget Talks Seem To Go Well

[ Posted Tuesday, May 16th, 2023 – 15:38 UTC ]

May is half over. June looms.

That is where we are, as President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy try to hammer out some sort of deal which will allow the nation not to default on its debt. Nobody's really sure if June first will actually be the deadline -- the "drop-dead date" is constantly in flux as money comes into government coffers and flows back out again. If we make it to mid-June, the drop-dead date could shift as late as August or September, for instance. But we can't count on that happening -- we must act before the earliest possible date it could happen, which is the first of next month.

There was a big meeting today between Biden and McCarthy and the other three congressional leaders (Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and the most significant thing that appears to have been decided is that the other three will largely bow out of the final negotiations and leave it to staffers from Biden and McCarthy to finalize a deal. That is progress, of a sort, since such negotiations will be easier between only two parties.

It sounds like at least the outlines of a deal are coming into focus, although there is one remaining large sticking point that both sides seem to be drawing red lines on -- adding work requirements to federal programs (which would really be "expanding work requirements," since they already exist). Putting that aside, it seems that much has been at least tentatively agreed to already.

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Biden's Rope-A-Dope Strategy Still Working

[ Posted Monday, May 15th, 2023 – 16:21 UTC ]

President Joe Biden continues to goad House Republicans into doing exactly what he wants them to do. This is a bit of rather astonishing political jiu-jitsu which has only been possible because House Republicans refuse to publicly admit exactly what they want to slash in the federal budget. If Kevin McCarthy's House Republicans had kept their campaign promises and passed a budget as one of their first orders of business, then Biden wouldn't even have this opportunity (he'd have other opportunities, depending on what cuts Republicans were proposing, but they'd all be out in the open in that case). This week, Biden continuing to heap scorn on the Republican budget plans may serve up another victory for him, which clueless Republicans are going to try to tout as their own victory. Biden, though, has already moved on and has picked a new target. He will likely continue to do this for endless line items in the federal budget (with an emphasis on the ones that Republicans have traditionally supported).

Politico reported on this today, while completely buying in to the GOP spin with their headline: "House Republicans plan to debut their veterans spending bill this week, strategically undermining one of Joe Biden's talking points against them in the debt limit fight." But who is really undermining whom, here? Here is how they reported it:

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Friday Talking Points -- Coming Home To Roost

[ Posted Friday, May 12th, 2023 – 16:51 UTC ]

Let's make sure we all get this correct. Donald Trump is now technically not a "convicted rapist." He's not a convicted anything, because the verdict handed down against him this week was in civil (not criminal) court. And the jury balked at declaring that Trump had raped E. Jean Carroll, but they did find Trump liable for sexually attacking her and defaming her publicly. To the tune of $5 million. It only took them about three hours to do so, meaning the case was pretty iron-clad to begin with. So Donald Trump is merely the first ex-president to be found liable of being a sexual predator rather than being an actual convicted rapist.

Legal semantics aside, this week might become known as the point when the first chicken came home to roost for Donald Trump. For once, he didn't skate away scot-free and he wasn't even able to make the case disappear (or be endlessly delayed). That is an achievement on its own. Perhaps it will embolden prosecutors to bring some actual criminal charges against him, who knows?

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How Do You Tame A Volcano?

[ Posted Thursday, May 11th, 2023 – 15:37 UTC ]

Of all the reactions to last night's CNN town hall with Donald Trump, the most interesting came from Michael Fanone, a former D.C. police officer who was attacked and almost killed by the mob of violent insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. His take on Trump's CNN performance: "It's worse than I could have ever imagined. It's an absolute disaster. There's no way to fact-check this guy in real time. He's a volcano of bullshit."

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