Biden's First Veto Stands

[ Posted Thursday, March 23rd, 2023 – 17:50 UTC ]

The House of Representatives tried to override President Joe Biden's first veto today, but the effort failed in a 219-200 vote -- far short of the two-thirds necessary to override (290 votes in a full House). This was the first-ever veto from Biden, on a bill Republicans had convinced a few Democrats to cross the aisle for. The bill itself would have changed a rule from the Labor Department to remove the freedom of conscience in the investment world. To put it another way, Republicans wanted a Big Government solution to a problem that essentially only exists within their own minds. Most Democrats were right to oppose imposing ideological limitations on what pension fund managers can and cannot do, and President Biden was right to veto it.

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The Court Of Public Opinion

[ Posted Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023 – 16:16 UTC ]

There's a recurring theme in both American fiction and actual American history, of playing to the crowd in legal situations. And, at times, it can actually work wonders. Trying a criminal case "in the court of public opinion" can make its own mark on history -- no matter the outcome of the actual court case. Think: the Scopes Monkey Trial. Or John Brown. In both cases, the public eventually wound up on the side that actually lost the case in court (Scopes lost, and John Brown's body wound up "a-mouldering in the grave" after he was executed).

Unsurprisingly, this theme has been reflected many times in popular culture. Three movies sprang immediately to my mind, when considering the subject. The first is graphically violent and brutally portrays how even a pair of vicious serial killers can use the media's appetite for this theme to great effect: Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. The second is a lot more lighthearted and uses musical numbers to create its own condemnation (or celebration?) of the power of the media to warp a court case beyond all recognition: Chicago. And the third one is my personal favorite of the three, because it is either a total spoof or an absolute farce (take your pick), which as a bonus also features a cameo from Patty Hearst: Serial Mom, from director John Waters.

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Personal Note: Ready For Spring

[ Posted Tuesday, March 21st, 2023 – 16:13 UTC ]

Spring, according to my calendar, is supposed to have officially sprung. The weather in California apparently didn't get the memo yet, however, as all day long the power has gone off and on while the rain continues to pound down with winds blowing up to 80 miles per hour. This has been the wettest winter I have ever experienced here since I first moved to California back in the 1980s.

I know, I know... my complaints will get little sympathy. Those who live outside of California sneer at our "winter," and with good reason. Any place that experiences actual winter -- complete with frozen water regularly falling out of the sky -- wouldn't think much of what we've experienced, even with all the flooding and trees down and landslides. The concept of "cold" is one that coastal Californians never actually experience in any sort of meaningful way. I realize all this -- I am not a California native, therefore I have experienced real winter and know people elsewhere are right to scoff at what happens here.

To people who live within California, my complaints break a major Golden State taboo, since it is never acceptable to complain about the rain. "We need the rain" is the preferred mantra, instead. But you know what? We really don't, at this point. We've got all the water we need for the rest of the year. Reservoirs are filling up or full and the snowpack is twice normal. There won't be a drought for at least another year, to put this another way.

So can it please stop raining now? Can we revert to the normal sunny skies and pleasant temperatures? Or at the very least can the power stop going out every half hour?


Regular columns will resume tomorrow. Weather permitting, of course.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


Arrestmas Is Coming?

[ Posted Monday, March 20th, 2023 – 16:40 UTC ]

First, there was the rather-disappointing Muellermas. Now, millions of Americans are waiting (and tweeting about) the impending "Arrestmas." For those using the hashtag, their schadenfreude is off the charts. Which is completely understandable, since people have been waiting for over two years since Donald Trump left office for him to face any sort of legal comeuppance whatsoever. And what seems like the first indictment out of the chute is the most minor, in terms of legal consequence and criminal culpability. Still... we may see Trump in a "perp walk" this week, and at this point, who doesn't want to see Trump in handcuffs... or at the very least, see his mug shot?

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From The Archives -- It's A Long, Long Way To Tipperary

[ Posted Friday, March 17th, 2023 – 18:04 UTC ]

[Program Note: Well, I forgot to anticipate it last week, but this year St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday. Which means our usual Friday Talking Points column is going to be pre-empted due to meself having to talk to a man about a horse, down at the pub (so to speak). So instead of looking back over the week that was, I'm going back eight years to my travelogue of a vacation I took with my authentically-Irish wife back to the Emerald Isle. The following ran as the first part of this review, so for those who are interested (who may not have read it previously), you can check out Part 2 and Part 3 of the trip as well (both of which cover Northern Ireland). I guess I picked this one to run this year because it has a "Biden gaffe" in it... ah, memories! In any case, never fear, Friday Talking Points will return next week, and for the time being I heartily encourage everyone to go out and have some fun (and kiss someone Irish, just because) to celebrate Paddy's Day. And to all, whether lucky enough to be Irish or not, a heartfelt Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!]


Originally published March 23, 2015

Greetings from Ireland!

Sure and it's a long, long way to Tipperary, as they say. How long? I really have no idea, since it's not on our itinerary this trip. Finding the answer might be something worthwhile to do on my next trip, I suppose.

Wry attempts at humor aside, here's a quick rundown of our trip so far. Oh, and before I begin: this, it should be obvious, is not going to be the usual sort of column here at, since it's not going to have anything to do with American politics at all. Well, OK, there is one Biden gaffe to mention, but aside from that.... Anyway, you have all been warned -- skip this article altogether, if travelogues aren't your cup of tea.

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War Is Over?

[ Posted Thursday, March 16th, 2023 – 15:29 UTC ]

Today the Senate voted on a repeal of two authorizations for war, the first from 1991 and the second from 2002. The first authorized the president to conduct the Persian Gulf War (or "Gulf War I") and the second authorized the invasion and overthrow of Iraq (or "Gulf War II"). These two wars will be unofficially over if the bill passes both chambers of Congress and is signed by President Biden. That's a historic thing to achieve, obviously.

Of course, these two wars were never official -- because the United States hasn't formally declared war on any country since World War II. Instead, in both 1991 and 2002, Congress passed an "Authorization for the Use of Military Force" (A.U.M.F.) which gave congressional consent to an American president waging a long war in a foreign country. There is a dicey question that has been argued over since Vietnam about who is really in charge of sending America troops to war -- the president or Congress -- so this left no doubt that both would be on the same page, but without going so far as to formally pass a declaration of war. What the legislation which moved forward today would do would be to officially revoke both of these A.U.M.F.s .

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Don't Count Chris Christie Out

[ Posted Wednesday, March 15th, 2023 – 15:31 UTC ]

When pundits handicap the possible Republican presidential field these days, several names almost always lead their lists of those who have not yet declared their candidacy (but probably soon will): Ron DeSantis (of course), Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and Tim Scott. These are all the current favorites, and all have been at least making some moves towards actually declaring and running. Then there's a second tier of possibilities that usually gets mentioned as well: Chris Sununu, Glenn Youngkin, and maybe Kristi Noem or Greg Abbott to round things out. But for some reason, Chris Christie is almost always treated as an afterthought -- someone barely worth a mention in a tertiary list that might be called: "Oh, these people also might run, too." I've always thought this was a mistake because it seems to me that Christie is all but champing at the bit to take on Donald Trump.

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President Biden To Visit Ireland

[ Posted Tuesday, March 14th, 2023 – 16:38 UTC ]

Politics can be a dreary subject at times, but every once in a while a story pops up which is nothing but cheerful news. This week's feel-good story comes from President Joe Biden -- only the second Irish Catholic to ever become president of the United States. Biden just made this auspicious news by accepting an invitation to visit Northern Ireland, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Accords. This was timely indeed, since it happened during the week which ends on Saint Patrick's Day. Biden, in accepting the invitation, made a point of saying he'll be visiting both Belfast (in Northern Ireland) as well as the Republic of Ireland.

The invite was personally extended by the United Kingdom's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, but Biden had a standing open invitation to visit the Republic as well. This week, Biden will also meet with Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar for the traditional Paddy's Day "giving of the shamrocks," to show America's solidarity with the Irish Republic. Varadkar will no doubt offer his own personal invitation to Biden at the time.

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It's Time For Some Banking Re-Regulation

[ Posted Monday, March 13th, 2023 – 15:49 UTC ]

In the past few days, two large American banks have failed. Everyone in the financial world is now holding their collective breath, hoping that this will be the full extent of the damage and that we won't see more banks shutter their doors as well. The bank failures (even if they stop at two) will have other widespread economic consequences as well. This all might just convince the Federal Reserve not to hike interest rates another half a percent when they meet next week (which was anticipated by many) and instead leave them where they are for now. Rising interest rates played a role in the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, the first to fail. There will likely be political fallout as well, as Congress holds hearings and investigates and possibly even passes some changes to the banking laws. This would be appropriate, since the real reason these banks failed is that they were allowed to run too much risk.

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Friday Talking Points -- Biden Takes The Fight To The MAGA Republicans

[ Posted Friday, March 10th, 2023 – 17:45 UTC ]

We have to warn everyone up front here that this week's Friday Talking Points column is not going to follow the normal format. Most of it is actually going to review the speech that President Joe Biden gave yesterday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Biden went to Philly to introduce his annual budget proposal, which was publicly released just before he spoke.

Rather than do what many Democratic presidents do when faced with an unruly house of Congress run by the opposition -- which is to go into a defensive crouch and try to compromise on just how much the federal budget needs to be slashed -- Biden instead took the fight to the Republicans by showing America that if we would just tax the ultra-wealthy enough to pay their fair share, this country could accomplish all kinds of good things and reduce the deficit at the same time. That is surprisingly refreshing to see from a Democratic White House, we have to say!

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