Category: Congress

Iran Nuclear Deal

Reality Check 1: Trump is not able to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran. Only Congress can do that. Only Congress has treaty power. It’s in the Constitution and is also how it works in practice. They have 60 days to decide whether to stay in, which I think most adults would acknowledge is a good idea, including the many many congressional incumbents who are the ones who signed the deal in the first place. Also, the head of the senate foreign relations committee is Bob Corker and if you don’t know why that’s significant, search his name it’s fun.

Reality Check 2: National media needs to stop cutting to live Trump press conferences. He just makes stuff up. It’s not news. It’s like cutting to a puppet show, but a scary puppet show. C-SPAN can air all of it live and unedited because that’s their thing. The rest of you, come on.


Bipartistan Baseball Outreach

I’ll be rooting for the Republican congressional baseball team on Thursday. (The Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park has not been cancelled despite the shooting.) Since this is hard to do from a distance, I’ll pretend to like Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham. BUT ONLY FOR 24 HOURS AND THEN I’LL GO BACK TO THINKING HE IS THE WRONG MAN FOR ANNIE. He does give some good baseball advice, and that’s clearly something she values.

Another Healthcare Repeal Attempt

Senate GOP paves way for ObamaCare repeal bill” (Jordain Carney, The Hill)

Watch out for this. But also, don’t misinterpret it. Normally, you wouldn’t expect McConnell to bring a bill to the floor of the Senate unless he thought it could pass. However, with this healthcare-killing bill, because congressional Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to try to sneak it through without needing any Democrat votes, they’re in a jam: they can’t use that same procedural trick on any other bill while it’s still up in the air.

The Republican leadership wants to ram through a tax cut package for billionaires. They can’t do that with this healthcare turd clogging the pipe. McConnell is probably trying to flush it. (Maybe you’ve heard some of them grousing about how they “should have done tax cuts first” and wondered why they couldn’t pursue several legislative agendas simultaneously, like normal people. It’s because they have to use this cheat/exploit since their ideas are unpopular, and it’s strictly one-at-a-time. I’ll leave it to you to write a “camel through the needle’s eye” homily on the subject.)

So basically, worst case but unlikely scenario: this repeal passes. Best case but still bad scenario: it fails which lets them roll up their sleeves and start manfully widening the wealth gap so their pitiful wealthy selves don’t have to give up any comforts to feed the detestible poor. (Those housing-insecure kids should really get jobs. Non-voting losers.)

go work for some other FBI

I’m not a big Comey fan, but the “why didn’t you resign when the President acted shady” questions are a ridiculous way to discredit him. It’s not like there’s some other massive domestic surveillance/intelligence network that isn’t part of the executive branch, and “oh, I’ll just hop over there.”

If there’s a private-sector FBI, I want to know about it.

Then I want to shut it down.

(It doesn’t exist.)

(For obvious reasons.)

It’s a bit like asking internal affairs investigators why they don’t quit the second they realize the police are doing something improper.




Comey Testimony liveblogs

I’m simultaneously following the fivethirtyeight liveblog of Comey’s testimony (serious, astute) and the AV Club’s liveblog of Comey’s testimony (Simpsons references). From the incomparable Sean O’Neal at the AV Club:

Roy Blunt: “If the president hadn’t fired you, would you still have your job?”

Roy Blunt: “What is the difference between being in the room with him and being with him on the phone?”

This thing turned into an existentialist Samuel Beckett play so quickly.

Army Protection Racket” is one of my favorite Monty Python sketches, and is also my understanding of James Comey’s tenure during the Trump administration.

One-Party Rule

More authoritarian dictator shenanigans. If you’re from a state or district which is represented by Democrats in congress, know that as of now, executive branch agencies have been asked to behave as though your representatives are not members of the U.S. government.

In an expected bit of doublespeak nonsense, “A White House spokeswoman said the policy of the administration is “to accommodate the requests of chairmen, regardless of their political party.” There are no Democratic chairmen, as Congress is controlled by Republicans.”

White House orders agencies to ignore Democrats’ oversight requests” (Burgess Everett and Josh Dawsey, Politico)

Betsy DeVos and the Legacy of Separate but Equal

This congressional hearing [link is to C-Span video] happened yesterday (May 24). I want you to watch Betsy DeVos saying that in no case—none at all—would she deny a school federal funds for discriminating against black students, gay students, special needs students. Not even in the case of a specific (real) private school which expels students for the crime of having a queer or gender noncomforming relative. (Contamination!) Betsy DeVos still wants to give that school taxpayer money via vouchers.

DeVos’s slogan that we need to ditch a “one-size-fits-all” education is just a gloss on “separate but equal.” Which was itself code for “get your gross kids away from mine.” And it is hugely, hugely disrespectful to the millions (millions) of teachers and administrators who spend every day forging personal, individual connections with their students—listening to their fears, cheering on their accomplishments, and tailoring every lesson to their individual needs.

I want you to also watch Katherine Clark, the blue-suited woman asking the questions, who is one of my favorite people in the House of Representatives. (She happens to be my Rep. She’s the stuff.) You can tell she’s an attorney. Specifically, she used to be Massachusetts’ general counsel for the state Office of Child Care Services. She also chaired a local school board. She is not somebody who smiles at vague, time-wasting evasions about whether kids are being protected. She came loaded for bear. (No, I have not forgotten Wapiti.)

Nic says: Things like this are why I really hate the “politicians are all the same, liars, cheats blah blah” narrative. I am mostly in awe of people like this who are well informed, spectacularly clever and using their intelligence and strength to fight for the people they are there to represent. And I don’t think they are a minority. Just like I think most backbench MPs in Westminster are there solidly working for their constituents.

I think there’s some kind of success bias where a proportion of the bad ‘uns rise to the top maybe because they’re not so concerned with their actual responsibilities. But then again maybe not and it’s rising to the top that warps your moral compass, just as coming into huge wealth can completely change how you see people who are struggling. In any case thanks for so often sharing these great examples. And honestly if I was a hard working MP or Representative and constantly having to listen to people say what scum politicians were, I might think “well fuck em” and start doing what I could for myself. The fact that I might act that way is why I’m not a selfless enough person to become one in the first place though.