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The GOP Only Selectively Cares About States’ Rights

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John Stoehr writes in the Washington Monthly:

You may have noticed something peculiar going on since Donald Trump’s election. The party of federalism and states’ rights has changed. In important ways, the GOP is now the party of big government.

“Has changed” isn’t quite right. “Is changing” is more accurate. We have not yet arrived at a moment when the party’s leadership is saying what Trump surrogate Gina Loudon said on Fox News last week: “States rights don’t override federal rights.” But we are getting there. Loudon was referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to cancel an Obama-era policy of a more hands-off approach to drug enforcement, which allowed states to decriminalize pot before legalizing it. His decision has states like Colorado and California, where it is legal to buy and sell, waiting with bated breath. Others, like Connecticut, are unsure whether they should move forward with ending prohibition.

Sessions’s decision is only one of a handful of serious policy shifts indicating the Republican Party is no longer squeamish about flexing federal muscle to advance its agenda. ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said on Fox News: “We’ve got to take [sanctuary cities] to court, and we’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes.” He added Sessions should “file charges.”

I’m not willing to call this authoritarianism, at least not yet, but I am willing to call it big government, because that’s what the Republicans have been calling it since the New Deal and Great Society. I’m interested in holding those in power to their own standards, and this standard of railing against big government was partially the reason the Republican Party is now in power. For conservative voters, Obamacare was big government par excellence.

Sessions has a snowball’s chance of success in prosecuting sanctuary cities, but that’s not my point. GOP’s other big government objectives include opening up virtually all coastal waters to drilling, despite vehement objections by states; pushing for so-called “reciprocity laws,” overriding local bans on the open carry of firearms; and, perhaps most importantly, extracting hundreds of millions from red and blue states to pay for tax cuts for the rich with the elimination of deductions for state and local taxes.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last week called this “economic civil war,” and he’s close to being right.

Sure, the Republicans still favor privatizing Social Security and Medicare, as well as nixing business regulations from here to Alaska. But does this mean Republicans stand for federalism and states’ rights? I don’t think so, not when you consider efforts to challenge or undermine the gist of the Tenth Amendment. It’s more accurate to say the Republican Party stands for states’ rights when the states in question voted for President Donald Trump.

Some will say, yeah, duh. The Republicans are hypocrites. They’ve been playing both side of the states’ rights principle for years. I don’t disagree, but I suspect something deeper is going on. It feels like we are approaching a tipping point impacting both parties. Republicans may have won the White House in the past in spite of favoring big government policies, but never in my lifetime has a Republican won because he favored them. And just as the Republicans are becoming the party of big government, the Democrats—and I’m serious—are becoming the party of federalism and states’ rights.

I say I’m serious, because the Republicans have been so successful in branding the Democrats as the party of big government that to suggest they are becoming the party of federalism and states’ right sounds crazy. But how else can explain the success of gay marriage, battles over the minimum wage, pot legalization, and gun control? They didn’t win in Washington. They won in the states.

And it’s not just me saying the Democrats are becoming the party of states’ rights. According to a new book by a couple of political scientists, the era in which progressives used the federal government to advance progressive goals was, from the 1930s to the 1970s, something extraordinary. Here’s what I would add: short of an international calamity, like the Great Depression and World War II, we may never return. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2018 at 1:02 pm

Suggestion for DIYer: How to Turn a Red State Purple (Democrats Not Required)

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Mark Oppenheimer reports in Politico:

In May 23, 2012, after finishing final exams at the end of his junior year at Yale, a 23-year-old named Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins got two phone calls from people back home in Alaska. The first came from an erstwhile losing candidate for state Legislature; the second, from a longtime high school debate coach who remembered Kreiss-Tomkins as a standout from a rival school’s team. Neither one knew the other was calling, but both had the same idea: Kreiss-Tomkins should drop out of college.

Specifically, he should drop out of college, move home to Sitka and become a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives. They told him he had 10 days to decide.

Kreiss-Tomkins was dubious. There were plenty of reasons to say no. First, he had already planned out the year ahead: A relaxing summer in Sitka, with its 17 hours of sunlight, before starting the White House internship he’d lined up in the fall, then returning to Yale in the spring to finish his political science degree. Even if he could convince himself that giving all that up would be worth it, the race would be a steep uphill climb. Of the 40 members of Alaska’s Statehouse, only 16 were Democrats, several of whom caucused with the Republicans. Kreiss-Tomkins would have to campaign across a district made up of hundreds (if not thousands) of islands, strewn over an area the size of Connecticut. The incumbent Republican, Bill Thomas, chaired the House’s powerful Finance Committee and was widely seen as unbeatable, having eviscerated every opponent since his first election in 2004. In sum, it all added up to a sobering explanation for the phone calls: Alaska’s Democrats couldn’t find anyone else who would run, and turned their lonely eyes to a 23-year-old college student 2,900 miles away.

But why him?

By the time I had met Kreiss-Tomkins earlier that semester in a course I taught at Yale, he was already a campus semilegend, known for his serious hobbies (mountain climbing and ultramarathons) and singular appearance: bald, with a fringe of snowy blond hair and bright blue eyes—at once prematurely aged and precociously youthful, old man meets newborn.

What the folks back home knew—and his college friends didn’t—is that as a teenager, Kreiss-Tomkins had been, in his words, “autodidactically ferocious” about politics. While in high school, he’d memorized all 50 state attorneys general, all 100 U.S. senators, and a couple hundred members of the House of Representatives. At 14, his organizing prowess on Howard Dean’s presidential campaign earned coverage from NPR, The Washington Post and The New York Times Magazine. From his home on a “remote Alaskan island,” the Times Magazine reported a month before the 2004 Iowa caucuses, “Kreiss-Tomkins has become especially adept at finding pen pals and online friends, and he now uses that skill on behalf of the Dean campaign, recruiting supporters through the Internet and then sending lists of e-mail addresses to the campaign.”

In college, feeling a bit of “been there, done that” syndrome, as he put it, he had dropped political organizing. But the phone calls from home,urging him to run for office stirred something inside. “I see politics in VORP-like terms,” he explains, using the baseball stat-nerd acronym for “value over replacement player.” Would he be better than a hypothetical average candidate recruited to run for the seat? The deadline approached. Finally, he made up his mind. On June 1, 2012, on his way to the Newark airport to fly home for the summer, he took a detour to the FedEx/Kinko’s in Times Square. “It was the last fax I ever sent,” he remembers. He got his paperwork in just under the wire, “at 8 o’clock Eastern time”—4 p.m. Alaska time. He was in.

Over the next five months, Kreiss-Tomkins campaigned doggedly. He went door to door, by foot, ferry and bush plane. He visited Alaska Native villages, arriving with only a backpack containing a change of clothes, a tube of Ritz crackers, some peanut butter and a stash of business cards.

Thomas, his opponent, hung back, slow to awake to the seriousness of the challenge. Meanwhile, Kreiss-Tomkins, sounding a populist note, hammered him on a vote Thomas had taken to cut taxes for the oil industry. “I framed my candidacy primarily as a referendum on that vote,” Kreiss-Tomkins says, “because I thought his vote on such an important issue directly conflicted with the public interest.”

The election went down to the wire, then past it as absentee ballots arrived from Alaskans around the world—“from a military person in Bahrain, from somebody living abroad in Cambodia”—the closest contest of the season in Alaska and possibly the whole country. State Democrats watched with gnawed-down fingernails and high bar tabs. If Kreiss-Tomkins lost, the Alaska House Democrats would have just nine members, below the one-fourth of the assembly that is required to be considered an official caucus—at which point, according to the Legislature’s rules, they could be excluded from committees and even denied funds for hiring staff. “At one point, my race was dead-even tied,” says Kreiss-Tomkins. “The tabulation would change by the day. Up by two, down by seven. Then there was a recount.”

On December 3, 2012, Kreiss-Tomkins was declared the victor by 32 votes. And although he had no way to know it at the time, it was the beginning of something very unexpected.

In the five years since Kreiss-Tomkins’s upset victory, a most unusual thing has happened: Alaska—which elected Sarah Palin governor and has not supported a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon B. Johnson—has turned from red to a bluish hue of purple. Throughout the state, unknown progressives, like the kind Kreiss-Tomkins once was, have been winning. Before the elections of 2012, conservatives controlled all the major seats of power in Alaska: the governorship, both houses of the Legislature, and the mayoralty and city assembly of Anchorage, where 40 percent of the state’s 740,000 residents live; now, progressives and moderates control all of those offices but the state Senate, which has been gerrymandered beyond their control. More than half of the 40-member Alaska House of Representatives has been newly elected since 2012, most of them Democrats or independents, and they have remade the Democratic-independent caucus into a 22-18 majority.

Not all of these newcomer state legislators are typical progressives—“the NPR-listening liberals hunt, fish or camp here,” says Joelle Hall, political director of the Alaska AFL-CIO—but in defeating more conservative candidates, they accomplished something that didn’t happen anywhere else in November 2016: In a state that went for Trump by 15 points, they flipped a red legislative chamber to blue. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

12 January 2018 at 5:39 pm

Corporations are winning the cultral war

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A very interesting NY Times column by David A. Hopkins, an associate professor of political science at Boston College and the author of “Red Fighting Blue: How Geography and Electoral Rules Polarize American Politics.”

At the 1992 Republican National Convention, Pat Buchanan famously declared that American politics had become a “cultural war.” In the years since, social issues and identities have become more important in dividing Democrats from Republicans.

Traditionally, the two parties fought mostly over economics. But now cultural issues like abortion and gun control divide Americans more sharply along regional lines than economic policies. One impact of the rise of the culture war in the 1990s was to reorder the popular coalitions of the parties — for example, by attracting evangelical Protestants to the Republicans while propelling secular voters toward the Democrats. This also redefined their geographic constituencies.

But while it has been fueled by widening divisions over social issues within the American electorate, this regional realignment has left a much larger imprint on the direction of federal economic policy than on the nation’s prevailing cultural zeitgeist.

You might say that the winner of the culture wars is neither Democrats nor Republicans. In legislative terms, American corporations have claimed the biggest victories so far.

The growing sectional divide — the coasts and a handful of Midwestern and Mountain West states vote blue, while voters in the culturally conservative heartland of the South and interior West largely vote red — is magnified by winner-take-all electoral rules that concentrate representation in the hands of local partisan majorities. The Alabama Senate race was an exception, but this largely produces a stable arrangement of “red” and “blue” states and districts that seldom deviate from their normal partisan alignments regardless of the individual candidates seeking office.

On balance, the trend of rising geographic polarization has worked to the advantage of Republicans in both houses of Congress. The Republican Party has captured more seats in culturally conservative red America than it has relinquished in culturally liberal blue America, allowing it to control at least one legislative chamber in all but four years since 1994 after six decades of near-permanent minority status.

Senate Republicans especially benefit from the equal representation of thinly populated states in the nation’s midsection, which once regularly elected moderate Democrats like Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Max Baucus of Montana but increasingly favor Republicans in congressional races. Red states now substantially outnumber blue states; in the 2016 election, Donald Trump carried 30 states to Hillary Clinton’s 20 despite his loss in the national popular vote, while the outcome of every Senate race matched the state presidential result — a foreboding sign for the future fortunes of Senate Democrats.

The contemporary geographic coalitions of the parties primarily reflect the nation’s roiling cultural conflicts, but the representatives chosen via today’s electoral map are equally polarized over economic policies — and it is pocketbook issues, not social matters, that dominate the business of Congress. Increasingly unfettered by a declining bloc of dissident party moderates from the Northeast and Pacific Coast, ascendant red-state Republicans have prioritized an ambitious conservative economic agenda encompassing regulatory rollbacks, repeal of the Affordable Care Act and substantial cuts to federal taxes — like the tax bill passed last week — and entitlement programs. Departures from this small-government approach, such as the No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D programs enacted during the George W. Bush presidency, have fallen out of fashion among post-Tea Party Republican leaders increasingly devoted to the pursuit of ideological purity.

Political analysts often argue that the rise of the culture war has had an acrimonious effect on American politics by expanding the battlefield of partisan disagreement to include a set of policies that provoke moral fervor, like abortion and gay rights, or activate fundamental personal identities such as religion and ethnicity. These divisions, they suggest, do not lend themselves to negotiation and compromise as readily as differences over economics, where horse-trading and difference-splitting are more feasible solutions.

But the growth of cultural conflict has polarized Democratic and Republican politicians on economic issues as well, by  . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2017 at 8:08 pm

Americans are dying younger than people in other rich nations

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That seems to be an ominous trend (which belies the “best healthcare system in the world” boast). Christopher Ingraham reports in the Washington Post:

American lives are shorter on average than those in other wealthy nations, and the gap is growing ever wider, according to the latest data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As recently as 1979, the typical American could expect to live roughly 1.5 years longer than the average resident of one of the other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — a group of 35 wealthy, predominantly Western nations.

The typical American baby born in 1979 could expect to live about 73.9 years, while the typical baby born in one of the other 34 OECD countries would live roughly to age 72.3.

But by 2015 that gap had flipped. The average American born that year could expect to live a little less than 79 years, while the typical baby born in an OECD country had an expected life span of nearly 81 years.

In 2016, U.S. life expectancy dropped for the second year in a row, a statistical event that hasn’t happened since the early 1960s. Numbers for the remaining OECD countries aren’t yet available, but if prior trends continue, the gap between the United States and the rest of the wealthy world is likely to grow even larger.

The United States remains one of the wealthiest countries in the world. So what happened?

We can start with our health-care system, which is frankly something of a mess. We spend thousands of dollars more per capita on health care than any other country in the world, but in return we live shorter lives than people in most other rich nations.

While the care itself is generally quite good (it ought to be, for the price we’re paying), access to it remains spotty: The United States is the only OECD country without some sort of universal health-care coverage, and as a result millions of Americans have no form of health insurance. The recent repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate will cause that number to swell by millions more in the coming decade.

Violence is also taking a toll on our life expectancy. While our homicide rate has been steadily falling since the early 1990s, Americans are still more likely to be murdered than people in nearly any other rich nations. A 2016 study found that “US homicide rates were 7.0 times higher than in other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher.” Easy access to guns is the big factor there.

The United States also stands out for the stinginess of our social safety net relative to other rich countries. A 2014 review noted while plenty of individual factors lurk behind our short life spans — tobacco use, obesity, violence and disease among them — the lion’s share of the difference between American life spans and those in other countries can be explained by “variations in non-medical determinants of health, some of which result from dramatic differences in public policies across the US and other OECD countries.”

Among other things, that study noted:

A study published in December of last year found that if these and other social welfare factors were brought up to the OECD average, it would add nearly four years to our collective life expectancy. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2017 at 11:54 am

Kevin Drum: Here’s Why Republicans Are Hellbent on Passing an Unpopular Tax Bill

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Kevin Drum writes at Mother Jones:

The Republican tax bill is massively unpopular. It polls at about 30 percent approval—the worst showing of any major bill in recent history—and doesn’t crack 50 percent even among Republicans. And yet, the GOP leadership is hellbent on passing it. What’s going on?

Bear with me for a bit. I have an idea of what’s going on, but it’s the endpoint of a story. Here it is.

Beginning in the mid-60s, the Republican and Democratic parties consciously chose opposing long-term strategies. Democrats became the party of the marginalized, defining themselves in terms of civil rights, immigration, social justice, feminism, gay rights, and so forth. Republicans chose to become the party of whites and the party of the Bible Belt.

At first, this was mostly a matter of policy choices. Republicans opposed things like school busing and affirmative action and supported private schools. As those things gradually lost salience, they reached out for other, more process-oriented ways of leveraging the white vote. In the 90s it was pack and crack, which shoved black voters into a small number of congressional districts, leaving more white districts for Republicans to pick up. Karl Rove moved the ball forward with more sophisticated ways of driving white evangelical turnout. Fox News amped up its coverage of things like illegal immigration and black crime.

Over time, the returns from these strategies became smaller and smaller. The white share of the population wasn’t growing, so Republicans became desperate to pick up every possible crumb. Photo ID laws became a big push in the late aughts even though it’s unlikely they affected the vote by more than a percent or so. The post-2010 gerrymandering efforts were good for a dozen seats in Congress. The party got tougher on immigration. Republicans on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. But finally there was little left to do. They lost to a black man in two straight elections, and the 2012 post-election autopsy made it clear that Republicans needed to attract more of the non-white vote. This was based on some simple but brutal arithmetic: There was a limit to how much turnout they could squeeze from the dwindling share of white voters, and that meant they had to reach out to minorities, pass comprehensive immigration reform, and dial down the anti-gay rhetoric. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

16 December 2017 at 11:16 am

The G.O.P.’s Legislative Lemons

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Michael Tomasky, a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, writes in the NY Times:

After a secretive, whirlwind negotiating session, Capitol Hill Republicans have agreed on a tax package. They’ve taken this from the Senate version and that from the House version, and it looks as if it’s going to become law.

But it doesn’t add up, and the American people know it. The bill is wildly unpopular: Approval for it languishes around 30 percent in polls. In fact, it’s the most disliked piece of major domestic legislation of the past quarter-century — most disliked, that is, except for the Obamacare repeal undertaken this past summer by this same Congress. That effort, which failed only because of Senator John McCain’s dramatic 1 a.m. thumbs down, was polling at 23 percent.

On what basis do I assert that these two bills are the most unpopular pieces of major domestic legislation of the past quarter-century? On the results of research conducted by Chris Warshaw, a political scientist at George Washington University who specializes in studying the link between public opinion and political outcomes — whether the government is doing what its citizens want it to do.

It struck him, Professor Warshaw explained to me recently, that the Republicans of this 115th Congress had spent the entire year trying to pass two enormously unpopular acts. He got curious about whether any party had tried something like that before in recent history. He examined 15 pieces of major domestic legislation going back to 1990 and studied 17 polling firms’ approval ratings for those bills when they were being voted on.

After crunching the numbers, he found that the tax bill and the Obamacare repeal effort were at the bottom on the list in popularity, ranked 14th and 15th. But here’s what was even more interesting: Of the 15 bills, nine had an approval rating above 50 percent at the time they passed or failed. And of those nine, eight pursued what could broadly be defined as liberal goals, like gun control and environmental protection.

At the top of the heap was the so-called Brady bill, which mandated background checks and waiting periods on gun purchases, and which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993. It polled at 85.7 percent. And by the way, most Republicans in both houses voted against this bill, which was backed by seven out of eight adult Americans — 28 to 16 in the Senate and 119 to 54 in the House.

The next most popular was the minimum-wage increase of 2007, which checked in at 83.5 percent. That passed easily, and with substantial bipartisan support in the Senate, because apparently if a Republican president proposes doing a decent thing for poor people, it’s all right. But even that logic didn’t obtain in the House, where Republicans voted against it 116 to 82.

Checking in third at 77.7 percent was the 1994 assault weapons ban. Of course, Republicans opposed this popular piece of legislation too, and again by large margins. And as you’ll probably recall, a 2013 attempt to pass a new ban after the murder of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, five years ago Thursday, was also enormously popular — and also opposed by Republicans.

Next up, at 77.5 percent, were the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990. These votes were different from the first three, since they occurred before the Republican Party took up residence in its own parallel universe. So these amendments sailed through both houses. Even the lone Republican in the Georgia House delegation then, Newt Gingrich, voted yea.

Only one bill that we can fairly call conservative, the Bush tax cuts of 2001, polled above 50 percent at time of passage (56.6 percent). Every other popular bill was liberal. And virtually all of them were opposed by Republicans.

Conservatives might complain that  . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

15 December 2017 at 10:48 am

Jennifer Rubin asks, “Will McCain defend the bipartisan process?”, along with harsh words

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Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post:

The first significant fight following Doug Jones’s stunning victory is well underway in the U.S. Senate. Unsurprisingly, Democrats are demanding that Republicans abide by the same process they afforded Scott Brown when he was elected to the Senate in a special election in Massachusetts in 2010, namely to hold the final vote on the tax bill (last time it was Obamacare) after the Jones is sworn in.

Democrats are already tripping down memory lane, circulating video of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) thanking Democrats for allowing Brown to be seated. “No gamesmanship will be played by the other side,” McConnell said. He cited a brave Democrat, Jim Webb of Virginia, for refusing to proceed before seating Brown. (“Well, at the risk of being redundant, what I think is being clear is that there will be no further action in the Senate thanks to Senator Webb until Scott Brown is sworn in.”)

At a news conference today, Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) reiterated his call for fairness:

Well, today we Senate Democrats are calling on Mitch McConnell to hit pause on this tax bill and not hold a final vote until Doug Jones is sworn into the Senate. Doug Jones will be the duly elected senator from Alabama. The governor did not appoint him, he won an election. It would be wrong for Senate Republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the newly elected senator from Alabama the opportunity to cast his vote. Now that’s exactly what Republicans argued when Scott Brown was elected in 2010. Referring to health care, listening to what Leader McConnell said, what we ought to do, McConnell’s quote: “what we ought to do, as we said repeatedly throughout the month of December as you know, we were here every day, we ought to start and stop over, and go step by step to concentrate on fixing the problem.” He said of the election, the one of Scott Brown, “I think the majority has gotten the message. No more gamesmanship. No more lack of transparency.” What did Leader [Harry M.] Reid do when Scott Brown was elected? He said, “we’re going to wait until the new senator arrives before we do anything more,” on the health-care bill which was then handled. What is good for the goose is good for the gander, and what is good for the gander is good for the goose. McConnell ought to do what he said ought to be done in 2010 and what we did in 2010 — delay until Doug Jones gets here and can cast a vote. Plain and simple.

So far it does not appear McConnell has any intention of doing so. (Recall he refused to give Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a vote for more than nine months, effectively holding the seat for now-Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.)

That won’t be because lack of effort on Democrats’ part. On Tuesday night, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said at a news conference, “I am hoping that Republican leaders accept the will of the people of Alabama and halt their attempt to jam through massive tax cuts for the rich until Senator-elect Jones is seated.”

An energetic Democratic aide dug these remarks by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) out from the congressional record following Brown’s win: “I congratulate Scott Brown. I congratulate our new colleague not only for standing up for what is right but also for articulating the frustration of the American people about this process we have been through,” McCain said then. “So here we are, and now the rumors are that they will jam this proposal through the House of Representatives and then bypass what has always been the normal legislative process. They should not do that. The American people have spoken. The people of Massachusetts have spoken for the rest of America.” He urged, “Stop this process, sit down in open and transparent negotiations, and let’s begin from the beginning.”

The question may boil down to this: What will McCain do when the shoe is on the other foot? In knocking down an irregular, partisan process on health care, he told his colleagues:

Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires. …

This place is important. The work we do is important. Our strange rules and seemingly eccentric practices that slow our proceedings and insist on our cooperation are important. Our founders envisioned the Senate as the more deliberative, careful body that operates at a greater distance than the other body from the public passions of the hour.

We are an important check on the powers of the executive. Our consent is necessary for the president to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and in many respects to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the president’s subordinates. We are his equal!

This development tests once again McCain’s sincerity. McCain’s office did not reply to a request for comment.

Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute is not optimistic that the Republicans will treat Democrats as they were treated in 2010. “There is indeed a sharp contrast on Scott Brown and Doug Jones. There is always a delay between an election and the certification required for a new senator to be seated. Reid could have used his 60 votes in the interregnum but did not. (Of course, it is also possible one of the 60, maybe [Sen. Joseph I.] Lieberman, would have objected.) But Reid respected the election results. McConnell simply does not care.” He added, “I had hoped that McCain meant it when he gave his eloquent plea for the regular order. But the tax bill he voted for in the Senate was as great a distortion of the regular order as I have seen.” He observes that Republicans have staked everything on tax cuts. “To McConnell and most of his colleagues, this tax cut is the key to everything. It is a big accomplishment, the first one. It is a big wet kiss to the major donors who will cut off the funds if they don’t get their billions.” That means process mostly likely will be reduced to rubble.

Jared Bernstein, former chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, concurs. He tells me, . . .

Continue reading.

And, for good measure, the conclusion of a different post she blogged:

It is one thing to ask snippy questions of a captive witness, but it is quite another to accept an attack on the legitimacy of the special counsel, and more generally, the rule of law. Should Trump decide to fire Mueller or to issue mass pardons to family members and even himself, he risks his presidency. Republicans, with one eye on the polls and another on Trump’s aberrant, unhinged and delusional conduct, may very well choose to jump ship — or enough of them will jump to provide a majority in Congress willing to call for resignation and/or impeachment. Moreover, the voters — in places much less conservative than Alabama — will have a direct voice in the matter. While impeachment is a verboten topic for Democrats, who prefer to talk about economics and health care, a Trump-style “Saturday Night Massacre” firing of Mueller (and likely Rosenstein) or mass pardons will bring us to a constitutional crisis. The voters will eventually need to decide if they want to remain Trump cultists in defiance of fact, reason and our democratic tradition, or if they want to fight to preserve the rule of law.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 December 2017 at 2:09 pm

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