congress

No Way Out

“There’s no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is — other people!”

– Jean-Paul Sartre, “No Exit” / “Huis Clos”

The latest in the interminable blame-game handoffs that are what passes for normalcy in Washington D.C. is upon us — again. And, as always, it’s everyone’s fault and no-one’s.

(more…)

Healthcare: Tear It All Down

I’ve never understood why it is that otherwise intelligent people instantly assume that a simple, massive change is the only solution.

(Brace yourselves. This rant has been building for a while.)

It’s a truism that every single complex problem has a simple, easy-to-understand, common-sense wrong answer. What’s wrong with complex solutions for complicated problems?

(more…)

So. Juneteenth.

A bill has been passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress making Juneteenth (June 19th) a national holiday. President Biden then signed it into law in record time, leaving government offices scrambling to shut down on a moment’s notice. (Fortunately, most of them have had practice.)

For those of you who don’t understand the holiday: This date marks the anniversary of the June 19, 1865, announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army general Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas. It doesn’t mark the end of lawful slavery in the U.S., mind; that took another year or two. But it was enough to start a regular celebration in Texas — Jubilee Day, first celebrated in 1866 — which gradually spread to other states.

(more…)

Who Is Elise Stefanik?

Today, the House G.O.P. selected a new leader for their Conference to replace Liz Cheney. Rather than a divisive conspiracy theorist or a decrepit senior member, they went with newcomer and relative unknown Elise Stefanik, a moderate representing New York’s border North Country.

But who is Elise Stefanik — really? Well, here are a few things you should know.

(more…)

The Price Of Freedom (Part 2)

In the last article, the statement was made that “it’s because of the First Amendment that the Second can be discussed”. The price of freedom is freedom; the ability to discuss a topic makes it inevitable that such topic will be brought up. As such, it well behooves us to be prepared for that conversation when it comes, whether on a personal or a national level.

(more…)

The Filibuster

While it may seem a strange way to conduct business, the filibuster within the Senate has existed as a procedure since 1806. It originated seemingly accidentally as an unforeseen consequence of a simple rules change, and has in one form or another regulated the legislative process ever since.

It has a much longer history; the first recorded filibuster was by Cato in the Roman Senate, opposing one of Caesar’s proposals in 60 B.C. However, the weight of tradition alone is insufficient to maintain this tool; one of McConnell’s unlauded triumphs was its preservation in the rules of the present Congress by passive opposition to the transfer of Senate leadership until language defining and guaranteeing it was inserted into the agreement. Otherwise, it may have been ended immediately with the convening of the new Senate — and it may well be again in 2022.

What is for us to consider rather is whether this tool is valuable enough to preserve, or instead fully deserves to be discarded as a relic of a long-outmoded past.

(more…)

H.R. 1: Voter’s Rights Versus Election Security

Opinion

The headline’s boring, because I don’t write clickbait (no matter what Justin says). It’s also inaccurate, because the debate is being framed by two partisan groups who have skin in the game.

I’ll spell it out: While it would be nice to be able to say that Republicans are genuinely concerned about securing elections from fraud, or that Democrats are trying to make sure that everyone who wants to vote can vote, we really can’t. Oh, sure, when it comes to voters, that might well be their actual concerns, but that’s only because that’s what’s being hammered into them as what’s important by people they trust to tell them about things. The very simple version of the truth is, the Democrats want this to pass because it will mean they win more elections, and the Republicans don’t want it to pass for the same reason.

(more…)

Retribution Is Coming.

All Cops Are Bastards, until they’re beat up by a right-wing mob. When that happens, they’re heroic defenders of our proud democratic institutions, and the flag goes to half mast. They should be defunded — until you don’t have enough force to stop that angry mob. Which, by the way, was a tenth the size of any of the other angry mobs we’ve faced this year. We’re horrified to watch police violence on television, until the moment when the dumbass eating the nightstick is wearing the wrong color of hat — or the wrong color of skin, as some news outlets would leap in to mention, salivating over their ratings bump.

Oh, I get rooting for the home team. You’re a Democrat; you hate when Democrats get beat up. You’re a Republican; you’re embarrassed when Republicans riot and do dumb shit on a selfie cam. That’s perfectly normal. Last thing you want to do is identify with the loser, so naturally you justify the riot and blame someone else. All summer BLM has been blaming the right wing fringe for the fires and looting; now, Republicans are blaming antifa for busting down the doors. Yet it’s perfectly obvious to all and sundry that there’s plenty of room for copious and extravagant dumbassery on both sides of the political aisle.

(more…)

Why We Do This

I was posed a question over Christmas. It was respectful and well-meaning, but the gist of it was, “Why do you bother to do this? You’re no expert, and sometimes you’re wrong.”

And that’s perfectly true: I have no degree in political science, nor even one in journalism. From time to time I’ll make a mistake — sometimes an egregious one. It’s even possible that the entire premise of an article might be completely off-base. These are all quite valid points, and it’s worth remembering them when you read: I might be wrong.

On the other hand, it’s occasionally possible everyone else is wrong.

(more…)

Lame-Duck Stimulus

Congress has been fighting for months over the size of the next stimulus package. Now that the election has been more or less decided, there remains a chance that the lame-duck session might pass something in time for Christmas. But should they, and if so how much?

(more…)