Politics, January 2019

I haven't written in a while, and I realize that I won't always have the perfect wind-up for a good essay. Here are some thoughts that warrant consideration.

The Shutdown, after a month.

Trump and McConnell are, at the moment, the ONLY people to blame for the continuing government shutdown. Trump is not bending on his requirement of border wall funding, nor is he providing ideas for additional incentives he would accept to help Dems come to the table.

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell is unilaterally preventing any bills from consideration in the Senate unless Trump will sign it. To allow otherwise would just be "for show", he says. There is an issue with this, though. He is a part of the Legislature, not the Executive. The House of Representatives have passed several bills for ending portions of the shutdown. They aren't ideas, they're bills. Actual law for consideration! And Mitch is playing stooge to the President. Even some Senate Republicans are getting fed up, such as Lindsay Graham. There is even rumor of a "gang" of Senators trying to work on compromise legislation. Sounds good, right? Well, Roy Blunt, a top Senate Republican, has mocked the idea. As if sitting on their asses is a better way to spend time than by trying to stop making the US government look like it needs to call a credit counsellor.

I would like to see Dems continue to put real bills to the Congress, even some that give all Trump's demanded funding. Why aren't we talking about comprehensive immigration reform? Sure, let's fund the wall. Let's also fund tripling the Border Patrol, signing DACA into law, and setting a path to citizenship for all current nonviolent undocumented residents. Let's put a timeline into place that will eventually, after current residents have some kind of temporary status, would punish employers of new illegal aliens.

  • More Border Patrol
  • A wall
  • Bring people from the shadows and get them in the books
  • Prevent the primary motive of illegal immigration

Sounds great, right? There is no way in Hell Republicans will support it.


Regarding the Majority Leader of the Senate:

How does he have so much power? What Senate rule grants him alone the unilateral authority to allow or block bills from a floor vote? I looked through the "Rules of the Senate" on their website, as well as a fair amount of Googling, and can't see anything. The closest thing I saw regarding that role was something about how they "set the Daily Calendar"

I should get on "the Twitter" and hit up a journalist or Congressional staffer for an answer to this.

Oh yeah, the President is a foreign asset.

The Boston Globe has a great opinion piece that hits on why Trump is almost certainly compromised in some form or fashion by Russia. It details the incredible amount of coincidence in Trump's behavior and his completely out-of-place parroting of Russian talking points that all add up to what seems obvious to many people, but is ignored by the cable-news Right (and thus by many Conservatives).

I saw a post on Reddit talking about Trump's Russia connection (on the Texas sub, I think). I noticed a ton of posts all saying the same thing, without context or discussion: "What about Obama and Medvedev?!"

That is right: All of a sudden, the thing to counter this avalanche of evidence from Trump is a rebuttal of Obama saying to Medvedev, and I paraphrase, "Let's talk about missile defense after the election". Aha! Proof that DEMOCRATS can also COLLUDE with RUSSIA (or something).

It says several things:

  • They can't defend Trump's behavior on its own merits
  • They acknowledge he wheels and deals with Russia
  • They can't see the glaring differences (or don't care and are being dishonest)

No reasonable person would suggest that an administration can't have private communications with other countries. The most honest negotiations often happen behind closed doors, away from the passions of the public. The Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved in part by JFK privately assuring the Soviets that the U.S. would move missiles out of Turkey - though it would have been unpopular politically, no one would have accused Kennedy of acting as a stooge.

Just to be clear on the most recent talking point:

  • Obama was President, not a Candidate.
  • Obama's private comments were not to be hidden from his own Cabinet.
  • Obama wasn't capitulating to something that the foreign policy establishment thought was insane (like siding with Kremlin over our own intelligence agencies in Helsinki, or suggesting we leave NATO).
  • Obama didn't have a history of business dealings with Russian officials.
  • Obama wasn't under investigation by several of his own government for unethical or illegal collusion with Russians for his own personal acquisition of power.

This is another example of "whataboutism". It is so shocking just how rare it is for a Trump supporter to defend his poor behavior and decision-making without looking backward to someone else, and providing mismatched comparisons.


Lots of people bitch; fewer people give alternatives. Things we should be working on:

A government shutdown in this manner should never be possible.

Either funding should continue at existing levels when a new budget is not agreed to, OR worker protections need passed that guarantee backpay for everyone except Congress and their staffers. The latter would take a Constitutional amendment, but it's the closest thing to "dissolve the government" we can get without being a Parliament.

Or perhaps, the Congress passes a bill that they cannot leave the city limits of Washington until a budget or CR is signed into law.

The Senate should be compelled to vote on legislation presented to it by the House.

It is unreasonable for the Majority leader of any party to have one-person control over the core function of the Senate.

Congresspeople and the President should be voted on using Ranked Choice Voting.

Instead of choosing one person, each citizen can rank their preferred candidates for a position. When votes are counted (all the #1 choices), if no candidate gets 50% of the vote, the lowest scoring candidate is removed, and those ballots are recounted with the #2 choice. This continues until someone gets >50% of the vote.

This warrants an entire post on its own, but I support this structural change more than any other single piece of legislation. The primary benefit is that third parties are no longer "wasted votes". No more would a vote for your "ideal candidate" be a backhanded support of your most loathed candidate.

People could finally show their support for who they want - it would increase the meaning and the legitimacy of votes, and allow challengers to the two main parties to be viable and taken seriously.

Most importantly, it would allow the Republicans to put up someone who isn't a deranged, lying foreign asset from being the face of their party, and it wouldn't necessarily hand the Democrats the election in 2020.

More on this later.

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