congress

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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You Don’t Need A COVID-19 Test

…probably.  Yes, one or two of you do, but if so you’re in the hospital right now because you can’t breathe, and so you’re probably not reading this.

Bear in mind:  I’m writing this with a persistent sore throat, bad lungs, and a massive case of paranoia.  It might just be the damned cherry blossoms and the annual pollen dump; it might be the coronavirus.  I have no (more…)

Tough. Chicago Tough.

Chicago.

Home of the Cubs, Harry Dresden, deep dish pizza, and hot dogs dragged through the garden.  The city where Al Capone became a folk hero.  A place where you can visit Sue the Dinosaur, Inez at Graceland, and the oldest tobacconist in America; where the river runs backwards, guns are banned, and shootings are everywhere.  Ten percent of the country lives within a hundred miles of here, and the graveyards all vote Democrat.

We joke about it because what’s the choice?  There’s (more…)

Deporting Veterans

This is Hector Barajas.  He served in the 82nd Airborne.  He was honorably discharged in 2001.  And then he was deported.

The story became major news in 2016, but it’s been a known problem for a long time:  American immigration law demands the deportation of every green card holder convicted of a crime, and military service does not automatically confer citizenship.  Soldiers ending their time in uniform are far more likely than average to have trouble with the law.  And, until recently, the (more…)