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1 hour ago, Tiger Sue said:

He's voted with the Dems on almost everything, including against Kavanaugh. I hope Tuberville is the GOP candidate and beats Jones.

Republicans have demonstrated they cannot govern, they can only exert partisan power.  Your post suggests that Alabama doesn't deserve politicians that actually try to govern as they are supposed to do. 

The continued Republican expression of pure partisan power is a threat to our democracy.

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2 hours ago, Tiger Sue said:

He's voted with the Dems on almost everything, including against Kavanaugh. I hope Tuberville is the GOP candidate and beats Jones.

Not a reader huh?

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3 hours ago, alexava said:

Not a reader huh?

Yeah I read it. It talks about him co-sponsoring some bills but that is different than VOTING. Tell me how many times he has not voted with the majority of Democrats.

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5 hours ago, homersapien said:

Republicans have demonstrated they cannot govern, they can only exert partisan power.  

Did you type that with a straight face?

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4 hours ago, Tiger Sue said:

Yeah I read it. It talks about him co-sponsoring some bills but that is different than VOTING. Tell me how many times he has not voted with the majority of Democrats.

More than any other senator in congress. As for Kavanaugh, he tried to get a one on one meeting with him prior to the hearing. Kavanaugh refused. All he had to go on was that pathetic, crying I love beer show. He did meet with William Barr and was the first democrat to endorse him. So no he does not just vote with democrats on everything. 

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22 hours ago, homersapien said:

Republicans have demonstrated they cannot govern, they can only exert partisan power.  Your post suggests that Alabama doesn't deserve politicians that actually try to govern as they are supposed to do. 

The continued Republican expression of pure partisan power is a threat to our democracy.

Democrats and Republicans. 

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13 hours ago, alexava said:

More than any other senator in congress. As for Kavanaugh, he tried to get a one on one meeting with him prior to the hearing. Kavanaugh refused.---link?

All he had to go on was that pathetic, crying I love beer show. He did meet with William Barr and was the first democrat to endorse him. So no he does not just vote with democrats on everything. 

One time is all? Do you know what his overall voting record is when going against the majority of Dems.?

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And for every one of those you can find ones with the same content and tone when Dems hold the power. To claim it's one-sided is laughable

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6 minutes ago, bigbird said:

And for every one of those you can find ones with the same content and tone when Dems hold the power. To claim it's one-sided is laughable

That's not true.   In fact it's somewhat nihilistic.

Republicans - particularly in the Senate - have been in charge of governing since 2016.


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....."McCarthy will inherit a GOP majority that since the 2010 elections has proven itself incapable of delivering on its campaign promises. In the last two years, they have fallen flat on almost all of President Trump's campaign promises as well.

Here's their sad record:

They didn't pass "repeal and replacement" of ObamaCare as they said they would.

They did nothing to bring down the national debt or balance the federal budget. In fact, they blew another trillion dollar hole in it with recent tax cuts for the wealthy.

There is no plan or funding to build a border wall.

And they have no plan for comprehensive immigration reform or a permanent fix for young people who grew up here or even served in the military — the so-called Dreamers. 

Finally, they have no plan to get control of entitlement spending. That was Ryan's dream from his first day in Congress and it never happened.

The House GOP did, however, vote to raise the debt ceiling and voted to fully fund Planned Parenthood.

Are far-right voters screaming yet? 

After the GOP Congress sent Trump a $1.3 trillion spending bill in March, he signed it saying "I'll never sign another bill like this again.”

Last week, lo and behold, the president signed another bill just like the March omnibus. This one has more deficit spending and again, no border wall. 

The Congressional GOP did pass the Trump tax cuts but they have been a dud with voters who realize that 80 percent of the benefits go to the wealthiest one percent of Americans.

A voter who backed any of these so-called conservative Republicans in the last four elections deserves to get his or her vote back. Conservative voters were given a lot of red meat on the campaign trail and in their media diet but only now can see they bought the sizzle and never got the steak. 

A McCarthy-led House GOP would have one job and one job only: to defend Trump from Democratic attacks, investigations, and impeachment proceedings. They have already shown they are willing to do that.

Let’s not forget it was Ryan who allowed House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) to run wild. Nunes protected Trump from the Russia probe.

Ryan spent eight years carping about the need for more oversight of President Obama but when it when he came time to provide oversight of Trump, he did nothing.

And when Ryan's political obituary is written — or when he attempts a political comeback as, say, Governor of Wisconsin — he will have to explain his failure to stand up to Trump."


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Republicans can win elections. But they can’t govern.

"THE GOVERNMENT shut down at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The immediate cause was Senate Democrats refusing to go along with another short-term federal funding extension, and Congress stayed in Washington Saturday in hopes of making the shutdown short-lived. But the underlying problem is GOP dysfunction in both branches of government. This is the first time the government has ever shut down while one party controlled Congress and the White House. Republicans can win elections but they cannot govern effectively.

The impasse centers on two issues that Congress should have solved months ago. First is the fate of the "dreamers" — immigrants brought to the country illegally when they were children — who know the United States as their only home and have integrated into American society. The second is the funding-starved Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which ensures that low-income families can get care for their children. Providing legal protections to the dreamers and re-upping CHIP both command overwhelming support from the public and their representatives in Congress. If congressional leaders had allowed simple up-or-down votes on these questions, lawmakers would have passed mainstream solutions, easily. But they practically ignored CHIP's funding crisis for months. They also declined to bring a dreamers bill to a vote. This reflected GOP congressional leaders' spineless practice of suppressing legislation that a majority of Congress supports, in counterproductive deference to their right wing.

After months of inaction, Democrats were understandably incensed. President Trump could have brokered a deal. In fact, he appeared ready to do so earlier this month, when he promised to sign a bipartisan compromise bill on the dreamers, if one were negotiated, and to "take the heat" for doing so. A bipartisan group presented a plan that would have given immigration hard-liners several concessions in return for a dreamers fix. Yet, Mr. Trump betrayed his promise, suddenly siding with the hard-liners who demanded a long list of policy changes in return for extending dreamer protections.

The House offered to extend CHIP funding for six years. But as it became clearer that Democrats were serious about holding up government funding until Congress finally addressed both the dreamers and CHIP, Mr. Trump should have bargained. Instead, even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) complained that the president's position was unclear. Just hours before federal funding expired, Marc Short, Mr. Trump's legislative director, insisted that the White House had already offered its plan — which was no compromise at all. In other words, the hard-liners were in control and the president would not compromise — despite his past insistence that he wanted a bipartisan bill to sign.

If GOP leaders had allowed the majority of Congress to work its will, the shutdown might have been avoided. If, when that did not happen, the president had negotiated in good faith, the government would still be open. Forcing a shutdown is a drastic legislative act that should not be welcomed. But neither should Republicans' unreason and inconsistency. This is no way to run a country."




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Why Republicans can’t govern

Sure, Donald Trump is a boob, but that doesn’t explain why Republicans can’t govern from Capitol Hill. At a time when the prospects for the middle class are in sharp decline, Republicans offer nothing but negativity.

There are many different flavors of freedom. For example, there is freedom as capacity and freedom as detachment.

Freedom as capacity means supporting people so they have the ability to take advantage of life’s opportunities. You encourage your friend to stick with piano practice so he will have the freedom to really play. You support your child during high school so she will have the liberty to pick her favorite college.

Freedom as detachment is giving people space to do their own thing. It’s based on the belief that people flourish best when they are unimpeded as much as possible. Freedom as detachment is marked by absence — the absence of coercion, interference and obstacles.

Back when the Republican Party functioned as a governing party it embraced both styles of freedom, but gave legislative priority to freedom of capacity. Look at the Republicans’ major legislative accomplishments of the past 30 years. They used government to give people more capacities.

In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act, which gave disabled people more freedom to move about society. In 1996, Republicans passed and Bill Clinton signed a welfare-reform law that tied benefits to work requirements so that recipients would develop the skills they need to succeed in the labor force. In 2003, Republicans passed a law giving Americans a new prescription-drug benefit, which used market mechanisms to give them more control over how to use it.

These legislative accomplishments were about using government in positive ways to widen people’s options. They aimed at many of the same goals as Democrats — broader health coverage, lower poverty rates — but relied on less top-down mechanisms to get there.

Over the past few decades Republicans cast off the freedom-as-capacity tendency. They became, exclusively, the party of freedom as detachment. They became the Get Government Off My Back Party, the Leave Us Alone Coalition, the Drain the Swamp Party, the Don’t Tread on Me Party.

Philosophically you can embrace or detest this shift, but one thing is indisputable: It has been a legislative disaster. The Republican Party has not been able to pass a single important piece of domestic legislation under this philosophic rubric. Despite all the screaming and campaigns, all the government shutdown fiascos, the GOP hasn’t been able to eliminate a single important program or reform a single important entitlement or agency.

Today, the GOP is flirting with its most humiliating failure, the failure to pass a health-reform bill, even though the party controls all the levers of power. Worse, Republicans have managed to destroy any semblance of a normal legislative process along the way.

There are many reasons Republicans have been failing as a governing party, but the primary one is intellectual. The freedom-as-detachment philosophy is a negative philosophy. It is about cutting back, not building.

A party operating under this philosophy is not going to spawn creative thinkers who come up with positive new ideas for how to help people. It’s not going to nurture policy entrepreneurs. It’s not going to respect ideas, period. This is not a party that’s going to produce a lot of modern-day versions of Jack Kemp.

Second, Republican voters may respond to the freedom-as-detachment rhetoric during campaigns. It feels satisfying to say that everything would be fine if only those stuck-up elites in Washington got out of the way. But operationally, most Republicans support freedom-as-capacity legislation.


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Republicans Can’t Govern

The GOP has an agenda, but no idea how to enact it.

Republicans no longer know how to govern.

That’s not to say they lack an agenda. Repealing the Affordable Care Act would have reshaped a vast swath of the American economy and transformed the social safety net, not just ending Medicaid but striking a blow against the entire project of public subsidy for health insurance. The tax reform bill passed by the House of Representatives would hike taxes for tens of millions of Americans to provide massive tax cuts for large corporations, the wealthy, their heirs, and the merely affluent. It is the culmination of a long push to radically slash taxes for the nation’s highest earners.

But to govern means to solve problems; to examine and tackle the issues and challenges facing the public. As a candidate for president, Donald Trump pledged to do just that, promising to solve big problems around health care and the economy. Republican lawmakers did the same. During the election, House Speaker Paul Ryan promised a “better way.” “Our ambition is a confident America where everybody has the chance to go out and succeed no matter where they started in life. That is the American idea,” Ryan said last year. “For the last number of months, this entire conference has been working hard to find the legislation to put the plan out,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy at a press conference rolling out the “Better Way” program.

This, the language of problem-solving and pragmatism, is the language of governing. It looks for common ground, accepts compromise and seeks solutions that benefit everyone at the negotiating table. And so far, Republicans have rejected this approach entirely.

The bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act—dubbed the American Health Care Act and the Better Care Reconciliation Act—were radical experiments in partisan legislating. They were crafted in secret without outside input or expertise. Republicans didn’t just reject Democratic input, they worked to keep liberal ideas out of the project entirely. Once completed, the bills were rushed through their respective chambers in an effort to avoid serious scrutiny. Republican lawmakers had a hard time explaining what the bills would even do. And this was beyond the fact that the bills failed to solve a single problem; few if any Americans would have received more or better coverage as a result of the legislation, and tens of millions would have lost their access to health insurance entirely.

You can say the same for tax reform. The only problems solved by either the House bill or Senate proposal are those created by the legislation itself. Despite historically low tax rates for both high earners and corporations, Republicans want to slash them even further, cutting rates for large corporations, establishing new loopholes and deductions for wealthy households, and reducing the taxes on estates to almost nothing. But this is expensive. The corporate tax cuts alone cost more than $1 trillion over 10 years. Other rate cuts cost hundreds of billions of dollars over a similar time frame. To cover those costs without raising taxes on the wealthy, Republicans have proposed slashing tax benefits for poor families, middle-income households, college students, and people who live in areas with high state and local taxes. Indeed, Republican lawmakers have been shockingly open about how tax reform is a donor-driven project.

“My donors are basically saying get it done or don’t ever call me again,” said New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins to a group of reporters. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned that “financial contributions will stop” if the GOP doesn’t accomplish tax reform.

Republicans, it should be said, seem to know that they aren’t governing as much as they are delivering benefits (“goodies,” to borrow from Mitt Romney) to key constituents. It’s why they refused to sell Obamacare repeal on the merits, and are doing the same on taxes. Despite crafting a bill that puts most of its burden on middle- and lower-income earners—and gives most of its benefits to the wealthiest Americans—Republican lawmakers insist on calling their proposal a “middle-class tax cut” that delivers meaningful relief to ordinary families.......



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We Have the Numbers: Republicans Really Can’t Govern

Blame the ‘Do-Too-Much’ Senate and Its Obamacare Fixation

With a Republican-controlled White House and Congress, lawmaking in Washington is not quite going as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) might have dreamed and schemed about last year when they agreed to back Trump. They probably expected him to sign anything they put before him, which would have been a virtual avalanche of right-wing legislation, to make a Trump presidency palatable.

Well, he’s kept up his part of the bargain—partly. He has signed everything that’s been put before him—all 60 bills, and nothing of any real significance. At this pace, Trump may get to sign 80 bills into public law before the year is out and the 115th Congress could put some 200 laws on the books by the end of next year—the lowest number in four decades, easy.

But maybe what no one counted on was the drag the Trump presidency would have on the Senate and its ability to get anything done. Trump, Ryan and McConnell all deserve a piece of the blame for trying to ram one bad bill after another in a fruitless effort to kill the Affordable Care Act and health insurance for millions of Americans. Those repeated efforts have clearly wasted everyone’s time.

The second factor: the ever-sprawling investigations into the Russian interference in our 2016 election that are being handled by two separate Senate committees, the Judiciary and Intelligence committees. The Senate has also had to confirm Trump cabinet picks and agency heads—the nominations for which are also well behind.

We don’t have a do-nothing Congress, we have a do-too-much Senate. Because when we get down to the numbers, it’s the Senate that seems to be the bottleneck here.

Let’s start with the House of Representatives. So far this year, Congress has introduced a total of 3,828 new bills. Of those, 28 were signed into law and 304 have moved onto the Senate. When you include amendments and resolutions, the pieces of legislation that have been in front of Congress grow to about 5,000, according to the Library of Congress.

The Senate has had a total of 1,846 bills introduced this year with 71 passing the Senate to date and 11 becoming law. With amendments and resolutions, legislation before the Senate this year has totaled 3,286.

And though the Graham-Cassidy bill, the latest effort in the GOP’s plan to kill Obamacare, was DOA, there’s already talk of another one in the works. Which means, we can expect more weeks wasted on Capitol Hill.

And just to put this all into sharp relief, let’s compare this Republican-run government to past presidencies and legislation passed.

Under President Barack Obama, the previous Congress, the 114th, made 327 bills into law. That was a most contentious relationship between a president and House and they still managed to pass that many laws, even with Obama vetoing 10 bills. During his eight years, he averaged 323 laws per congressional term with a high point of his first two years in office when he signed 385 bills into law with the 111th Congress of 2009-2010.

In recent history, President Ronald Reagan signed the most bills into law. The peak was the 100th Congress which put 713 laws on the books from 1987 to 1988. In the eight-year Reagan presidency, each congress averaged 618 new laws.

In the years George H.W. Bush was president, the 101st Congress put 650 laws on the books and the 102nd Congress followed with 590.

President Bill Clinton signed on average 454 laws during his eight years in office, which was exactly matched by that of his successor, President George W. Bush, according to the Library of Congress.

Trump and team are itching to dole out some tax cuts to their rich friends as their next agenda item. If they tackle things as swiftly and brilliantly as they’ve handled the repeal and replacement of the ACA, this administration could just be a lame duck from start to finish—and bring down the 115th Congress with it.


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David Ignatius: Republicans failed to govern, but Democrats have a chance to succeed

WASHINGTON — Last week was a vivid demonstration of the inability of conservatives to deliver results after the great populist revolts in 2016 in Britain and America. And it showed that there is a golden opportunity for liberals in both countries to tackle the public concerns that motivated the mistaken decisions to vote for Brexit and Donald Trump.

To put it bluntly, the Tories under Prime Minister Theresa May and the Republicans under President Trump have failed as governing parties. That's because they can't reconcile their inflammatory rhetoric with the practical realities of economic and social policy in the 21st century. The conservatives talked big to aggrieved voters, but they have come up empty.

This past week offered a rare chance to test the propositions on trade, immigration and other issues that have been polarizing British and American politics. Conservatives presented easy solutions — for Britain, a Brexit escape from a meddlesome European Union; and for America, a border wall (and other symbols) to address the real strains caused by immigration.

But the conservative quick fixes didn't work. They were ill-planned, half-baked, jingoistic responses to serious issues. Rather than remedy the inequities that bothered middle-class Brits and Americans, they instead sought to turn back the clock with proposals that simply didn't fit today's globalized world.

May's Brexit plan was an attempt to negotiate an exit from the EU that she never fully believed in herself. She had to compromise to the point of incoherence because a hard Brexit and total separation would have been unworkable for Northern Ireland and unacceptable for Scotland, risking the potential breakup of the United Kingdom, not just its departure from the EU.

Trump's border mania was different. It has been political demagoguery dressed up as policy. The inflammatory campaign seemed to work the first time in 2016, helping Trump get elected, but not the second, in the midterms.

When Trump tried real policy to deal with immigration and trade over the past 18 months, he produced little. His fire and fury toward Mexico produced only modest revisions in NAFTA, and his separation of migrant families as a deterrent to seeking asylum shocked the conscience of the country and the courts, and has mostly been shelved.

And finally, Trump's tantrum last week on television, threatening to shut down the government if he didn't get his promised wall, embarrassed even Republicans. It was a sign of how empty Trump's cupboard has become, that political leverage is the threat to implode his own administration. Whatever else the past two years have shown, it's that the Republicans under Trump cannot govern effectively, even when they controlled both houses of Congress.

Well, those days are over. They lost their chance. What about the Democrats?

Now that Steve Bannon's nativist road map has led to dead ends in Britain and America, it's tempting simply to see this as vindication — and take comfort in the shambolic predicament of the other side. But I'd argue that it's a perfect moment to revisit the issues that fueled the populist revolt in the first place, and offer policies that actually help angry middle-class voters, but don't offer false hope that it's possible to escape the realities of the 21st century.

Any party that wants to govern Britain must embrace the reality that "leave" voters were right in their dissatisfaction with a feckless, over-bureaucratized EU system that's better at delivering rules than results. "Brussels" has become a code word for a kind of elitist, we-know-better rule by unelected masters. The diktats of Brussels are as resented among working-class voters in France, Spain, Italy and the rest of Europe as in England. Every poll I've seen shows that broad dissatisfaction.

A new "Revote/Remain" campaign should begin with a pan-European alliance for reform — one that urges Britain to remain in a better "more perfect" union. The British Labor Party won't be a plausible governing party, alas, as long as it's led by the old-left relic, Jeremy Corbyn. He's a big reason why the Tory Party remains in power despite its current nervous breakdown.

What should the resurgent Democrats do on immigration after their midterm capture of the House? A modest proposal: Democrats should make clear that it's not unethical or un-American to want a clear, enforceable border — and that not every migrant who wants to come to America can do so.

Many Trump voters think the Democrats are an elitist party captured by identity politics. Now, with the Republicans in disarray, is the Democrats' moment to show that they can do what the GOP can't — govern America fairly and equitably for all its citizens.


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Republicans prove they have no clue how to govern

The inability of a Republican Congress and a Republican president to repeal Obamacare, or even just dial it back, is yet the latest demonstration that Republicans simply aren't ready to govern.

The facile explanation for this is the unresolved division, within the party, between its radical tea party populist wing and its more moderate, business-friendly establishment wing. But the bigger issue is that the party's elected politicians are unwilling to make the trade-offs that are the essence of what governing is about.

On health care, for example, they promised to lower premiums but refused to embrace any of the three approaches that could accomplish that: increase co-payments and deductibles, squeeze the incomes of doctors, hospitals and drug companies, or finance more of the country's health care through higher taxes.

They wanted to give everyone the freedom not to buy any health insurance — but also the freedom to show up at hospital emergency rooms and demand free care, or to buy insurance the moment they got sick.

Republicans vowed to eliminate all the Obamacare taxes — but not the healthy insurance subsidies for working families that those taxes were meant to pay for.

They wanted to allow insurance companies to lower premiums for the young and healthy — while denying that the inevitable consequence would be higher premiums for the old and the sick.

They wanted to shift more of the responsibility to the states for providing health care to the poor — without shifting additional resources to go with it.

They wanted to give more power to state insurance commissioners to regulate policies — while at the same time offering insurers the freedom to ignore state regulation by selling across state lines.

Republicans wanted to give every American a new tax credit to help them pay for health care or health insurance — while refusing to curtail the current subsidy, the tax exclusion for employer-provided health benefits.

They promise to solve the opioid crisis — while eliminating the requirement that insurance policies cover substance abuse treatment.

This same inability to make trade-offs has also prevented action on a host of other Republican priorities.

They want to increase investment in infrastructure — but don't want to raise taxes or user fees to pay for it.

Republicans want to cut corporate tax rates nearly in half — but can't identify even a single corporate tax loophole they would close to prevent the deficit from ballooning out of control.

They are hellbent on dramatically increasing defense spending — but won't vote to authorize current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They think they can deport every undocumented immigrant — without raising labor costs for businesses and prices for consumer.

They complain about the slow pace of getting the president's appointments confirmed — but refuse to give up their three-day workweeks and four months of politicking and fund-raising.

Republicans complain of a lack of bipartisan cooperation from Democrats — while insisting on drafting all important legislation at meetings and luncheons of the Republican caucus.

Since gaining control of Congress and the White House in January, Republicans have been on a frantic and futile search for the political and economic free lunch. It would be overly charitable to say that, when it comes to governance, they are rusty and out of practice. In fact, they have now exposed themselves to be rank amateurs and incompetents who don't have a clue about getting important things done.

As a group, they have demonstrated a breathtaking lack of policy knowledge and sophistication, a stubborn disregard for intellectual honesty, lousy political instincts and a broken moral compass. Their leaders have forgotten what it means to lead, if they ever knew, while their backbenchers don't have a clue of what it takes to be constructive followers. If there were a bankruptcy code for politics, it's safe to say the Republicans would be in Chapter 11.

This complete abdication of governing responsibility was confirmed Tuesday when the party's nominal leader, President Donald Trump, announced to the country, "I think we are probably "in that position where we will just let Obamare fail ... I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it."

Even Sen. Shelly Caputo, the reliably party-line toting Republican from West Virginia, was moved to distance herself from that cynical win-at-any cost strategy. "I did not come to Washington to hurt people," she said.

"It's almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world ... listening to the stupid (expletive) we have to deal with in this country," Jamie Dimon, the chairman of JPMorgan Chase, said in an unguarded moment last week. Dimon was quick to add, reflexively, that it wasn't a Republican or a Democratic issue, but he knows better than that. Republicans were handed a golden opportunity to govern and they have blown it. This one is on them.


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Have Republicans forgotten how to govern?

On election day last year, American voters gave the Republicans a powerful gift - unified control of the presidency and Congress for the first time in a decade. But turning a governing majority into enacted policies is proving to be a challenge for a party that spent the past eight years throwing political bombs from the sidelines.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan took to the lectern for a press conference on Thursday morning facing a crisis. The healthcare reform legislation he has tried to shepherd through Congress is in serious peril.

Conservative members of his chamber, like Dave Brat of Virginia, were savaging the legislation for not fully dismantling the existing Obamacare system.

Moderates and even some middle-of-the-road Republicans, like Florida's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said they could not support it because cuts to the Medicaid programme for the poor were too severe.

Mr Ryan has been forced to walk a political tightrope, balancing the competing and often conflicting interests in his caucus in an attempt to get the first step in a multi-part reform effort through the House.

It is a feat that will require a combination of diplomatic finesse, political muscle, relentless focus and more than a bit of luck.

That's not what reporters wanted to talk about, however.

Instead, the first question was about Donald Trump's allegation - and continued insistence - that his communications had been monitored by Barack Obama's White House during the 2016 presidential campaign.

And therein lies the heart of the problem facing conservatives just a few months into the Trump presidency. At a time when a concerted political effort on the part of Republican leadership in Congress and the White House is essential to the success of a key part of their agenda, distractions and dissent rule the day.

While Mr Ryan is undertaking his juggling act, the president seems intent on throwing baseballs at his head.

Time and again the president has undermined Republican political priorities with off-message comments and tweets.

Behaviour that helped throw opponents off-balance and demonstrate his unorthodoxy during the campaign are proving less helpful when conducted from the confines of the White House.

Mr Trump's remarks about wiretapping and earlier allegations of widespread voter fraud, wholly unnecessary given his victory last November, have forced the White House to scramble with after-the-fact explanations and thrown unwelcome obligations on congressional Republicans to conduct investigations.

On Wednesday, a visibly frustrated Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee and Trump ally, straight-up said Mr Trump was "wrong" about the surveillance.

The Senate Intelligence Committee would later issue a statement that they found "no indications of monitoring Trump Tower by any element of the United States government".

Mr Trump's own words, as well as statements made by his advisors since inauguration day, also helped torpedo the president's second effort at instituting a travel ban on some majority Muslim nations.

"The record before this court is unique," wrote the federal judge who suspended the travel order on Wednesday. "It includes significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus driving the promulgation of the executive order and its related predecessor."

Even without the travel ban and wiretapping controversies roiling Washington politics, Republicans were going to have a challenge transitioning from being the party of opposition, intent on thwarting the efforts of the Obama administration, to the party of action.

While it was easy for the conservatives in Congress to pass straight-up Obamacare repeal legislation when they knew Mr Obama would veto it, crafting legislation that the party has to stand behind - and explain to voters in coming elections - is much trickier.

During a Wednesday night televised town hall forum on healthcare there was a telling moment when Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price listened to a cancer patient lament that he would lose his medical coverage under the Republican plan.

Mr Price's response was to criticise past Democratic promises on healthcare.

The questioner wasn't buying it. Republicans have to come up with solutions now, not just identify problems.

As any Democrat in office during the past eight years will explain, saying "our plan is less bad than the existing system" isn't a recipe for political success.

Yes, it's still the first few months of the Trump presidency, and the drive to pass something, anything on healthcare after eight years of promises will be strong.

Mr Trump could find new focus and use some of his much-advertised dealmaking acumen to pull competing factions within the Republican Party together. His party has the votes in Congress to get things done, and with a bit of positioning he could put significant pressure on Senate Democrats up for re-election next year in states he carried in 2016.

Then again, Mr Trump has shown few signs of easing back on his social media rants.

He says he will hold large public rallies every few weeks, where his unscripted comments often set off new controversies.

There also may be powers within the White House - such as senior advisor Steve Bannon - who would be happy if the Republican congressional agenda comes crashing down, bringing the remnants of the party's establishment with it.

For Republican congressional leadership, healthcare reform is only the first piece of the legislative puzzle. The longer that takes, the less time will remain for comprehensive tax reform, which has its own sticky political issues.

A massive budget fight, with the threat of a government shutdown, also looms on the horizon.

Mr Trump's aggressive funding priorities are already coming under fire. Democrats are digging in to defend social programmes on the chopping block.

Some Republicans object to billions of dollars for Mr Trump's border wall and sharp reductions in foreign aid and agricultural subsidies.

If negotiations over healthcare reform go south, Republicans in Congress will be less inclined to give Mr Trump the benefit of the doubt in the coming days. Democrats will smell blood, and the subsequent political lifts will be all the more difficult.

By next year members of Congress will be focused on the coming midterm elections and less inclined to take risks on big legislative actions with uncertain prospects.

There's already evidence of a time bomb underneath the Republican Party. Polls show uneasy independents and near universal opposition to their agenda from Democrats, but for the time being their supporters held firm.

If those numbers dip, however, and enthusiasm diminishes, it could spell ruin for congressional Republicans in 2018.

Ever since Mr Obama swept to power with Democratic congressional majorities in 2008, Republicans have been promising their voters that real conservative change is just an election away.

Yes, they won the House of Representatives in 2010, but they still needed the Senate. Yes, they won the Senate in 2014, but the presidency was in Democratic hands.

Now they have Congress and the presidency, leaving few excuses. After two months of intra-party bickering and a president who can't keep his hands off his Twitter account, it may only be a matter of time before their base gets restless.

Conservative humourist PJ O'Rourke once quipped that "Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it".

For the past few months that line has seemed less of a joke than a prophecy.


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I'll throw in this last one as a bonus, since it is highly related to my claim that Republicans can't govern, they can only exert (undemocratic) power.


The Corruption of the Republican Party

Why has the Republican Party become so thoroughly corrupt? The reason is historical—it goes back many decades—and, in a way, philosophical. The party is best understood as an insurgency that carried the seeds of its own corruption from the start.

I don’t mean the kind of corruption that regularly sends lowlifes like Rod Blagojevich, the Democratic former governor of Illinois, to prison. Those abuses are nonpartisan and always with us. So is vote theft of the kind we’ve just seen in North Carolina—after all, the alleged fraudster employed by the Republican candidate for Congress hired himself out to Democrats in 2010.

And I don’t just mean that the Republican Party is led by the boss of a kleptocratic family business who presides over a scandal-ridden administration, that many of his closest advisers are facing prison time, that Donald Trump himself might have to stay in office just to avoid prosecution, that he could be exposed by the special counsel and the incoming House majority as the most corrupt president in American history. Richard Nixon’s administration was also riddled with criminality—but in 1973, the Republican Party of Hugh Scott, the Senate minority leader, and John Rhodes, the House minority leader, was still a normal organization. It played by the rules.

Republican majorities are rushing to pass laws that strip away the legitimate powers of newly elected Democratic governors while defeated or outgoing Republican incumbents are still around to sign the bills. Even if the courts overturn some of these power grabs, as they have in North Carolina, Republicans will remain securely entrenched in the legislative majority through their own hyper-gerrymandering—in Wisconsin last month, 54 percent of the total votes cast for major-party candidates gave Democrats just 36 of 99 assembly seats—so they will go on passing laws to thwart election results. Nothing can stop these abuses short of an electoral landslide. In Wisconsin, a purple state, that means close to 60 percent of the total vote.

The fact that no plausible election outcome can check the abuse of power is what makes political corruption so dangerous. It strikes at the heart of democracy. It destroys the compact between the people and the government. In rendering voters voiceless, it pushes everyone closer to the use of undemocratic means.

Today’s Republican Party has cornered itself with a base of ever older, whiter, more male, more rural, more conservative voters. Demography can take a long time to change—longer than in progressives’ dreams—but it isn’t on the Republicans’ side. They could have tried to expand; instead, they’ve hardened and walled themselves off. This is why, while voter fraud knows no party, only the Republican Party wildly overstates the risk so that it can pass laws (including right now in Wisconsin, with a bill that reduces early voting) to limit the franchise in ways that have a disparate partisan impact. This is why, when some Democrats in the New Jersey legislature proposed to enshrine gerrymandering in the state constitution, other Democrats, in New Jersey and around the country, objected.

Taking away democratic rights—extreme gerrymandering; blocking an elected president from nominating a Supreme Court justice; selectively paring voting rolls and polling places; creating spurious anti-fraud commissions; misusing the census to undercount the opposition; calling lame-duck legislative sessions to pass laws against the will of the voters—is the Republican Party’s main political strategy, and will be for years to come.

Republicans have chosen contraction and authoritarianism because, unlike the Democrats, their party isn’t a coalition of interests in search of a majority. Its character is ideological. The Republican Party we know is a product of the modern conservative movement, and that movement is a series of insurgencies against the established order. Several of its intellectual founders—Whittaker Chambers and James Burnham, among others—were shaped early on by Communist ideology and practice, and their Manichean thinking, their conviction that the salvation of Western civilization depended on the devoted work of a small group of illuminati, marked the movement at its birth.

The first insurgency was the nomination of Barry Goldwater for president in 1964. He campaigned as a rebel against the postwar American consensus and the soft middle of his own party’s leadership. Goldwater didn’t use the standard, reassuring lexicon of the big tent and the mainstream. At the San Francisco convention, he embraced extremism and denounced the Republican establishment, whose “moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.” His campaign lit a fire of excitement that spread to millions of readers through the pages of two self-published prophesies of the apocalypse, Phyllis Schlafly’s A Choice Not an Echo and John A. Stormer’s None Dare Call It Treason. According to these mega-sellers, the political opposition wasn’t just wrong—it was a sinister conspiracy with totalitarian goals.

William F. Buckley—the movement’s Max Eastman, its most brilliant pamphleteer—predicted Goldwater’s landslide defeat. His candidacy, like the revolution of 1905, had come too soon, but it foretold the victory to come. At a Young Americans for Freedom convention, Buckley exhorted an audience of true-believing cadres to think beyond November: “Presuppose that the fiery little body of dissenters, of which you are a shining meteor, suddenly spun off no less than a majority of all the American people, who suddenly overcome a generation’s entrenched lassitude, suddenly penetrated to the true meaning of freedom in society where the truth is occluded by the verbose mystification of thousands of scholars, tens of thousands of books, a million miles of newsprint.” Then Goldwater’s inevitable defeat would turn into “the well planted seeds of hope, which will flower on a great November day in the future, if there is a future.”

The insurgents were agents of history, and history was long. To avoid despair, they needed the clarity that only ideology (“the truth”) can give. The task in 1964 was to recruit and train conservative followers. Then established institutions that concealed the truth—schools, universities, newspapers, the Republican Party itself—would have to be swept away and replaced or entered and cleansed. Eventually Buckley imagined an electoral majority; but these were not the words and ideas of democratic politics, with its ungainly coalitions and unsatisfying compromises.

During this first insurgency, the abiding contours of the movement took shape. One feature—detailed in Before the Storm, Rick Perlstein’s account of the origins of the New Right—was liberals’ inability to see, let alone take seriously enough to understand, what was happening around the country. For their part, conservatives nursed a victim’s sense of grievance—the system was stacked against them, cabals of the powerful were determined to lock them out—and they showed more energetic interest than their opponents in the means of gaining power: mass media, new techniques of organizing, rhetoric, ideas. Finally, the movement was founded in the politics of racism. Goldwater’s strongest support came from white southerners reacting against civil rights. Even Buckley once defended Jim Crow with the claim that black Americans were too “backward” for self-government. Eventually he changed his views, but modern conservatism would never stop flirting with hostility toward whole groups of Americans. And from the start this stance opened the movement to extreme, sometimes violent fellow travelers.

It took only 16 years, with the election of Ronald Reagan, for the movement and party to merge. During those years, conservatives hammered away at institutional structures, denouncing the established ones for their treacherous liberalism, and building alternatives, in the form of well-funded right-wing foundations, think tanks, business lobbies, legal groups, magazines, publishers, professorships. When Reagan won the presidency in 1980, the products of this “counter-establishment” (from the title of Sidney Blumenthal’s book on the subject) were ready to take power.

Reagan commanded a revolution, but he himself didn’t have a revolutionary character. He didn’t think the public needed to be indoctrinated and organized, only heard.

But conservatism remained an insurgent politics during the 1980s and ’90s, and the more power it amassed—in government, business, law, media—the more it set itself against the fragile web of established norms and delighted in breaking them. The second insurgency was led by Newt Gingrich, who had come to Congress two years before Reagan became president, with the avowed aim of overthrowing the established Republican leadership and shaping the minority party into a fighting force that could break Democratic rule by shattering what he called the “corrupt left-wing machine.” Gingrich liked to quote Mao’s definition of politics as “war without blood.” He made audiotapes that taught Republican candidates how to demonize the opposition with labels such as “disgrace,” “betray,” and  “traitors.” When he became speaker of the House, at the head of yet another revolution, Gingrich announced, “There will be no compromise.” How could there be, when he was leading a crusade to save American civilization from its liberal enemies?

Even after Gingrich was driven from power, the victim of his own guillotine, he regularly churned out books that warned of imminent doom—unless America turned to a leader like him (he once called himself “teacher of the rules of civilization,” among other exalted epithets). Unlike Goldwater and Reagan, Gingrich never had any deeply felt ideology. It was hard to say exactly what “American civilization” meant to him. What he wanted was power, and what he most obviously enjoyed was smashing things to pieces in its pursuit. His insurgency started the conservative movement on the path to nihilism.

The party purged itself of most remaining moderates, growing ever-more shallow as it grew ever-more conservative—from Goldwater (who, in 1996, joked that he had become a Republican liberal) to Ted Cruz, from Buckley to Dinesh D’Souza. Jeff Flake, the outgoing senator from Arizona (whose conservative views come with a democratic temperament), describes this deterioration as “a race to the bottom to see who can be meaner and madder and crazier. It is not enough to be conservative anymore. You have to be vicious.” The viciousness doesn’t necessarily reside in the individual souls of Republican leaders. It flows from the party’s politics, which seeks to delegitimize opponents and institutions, purify the ranks through purges and coups, and agitate followers with visions of apocalypse—all in the name of an ideological cause that every year loses integrity as it becomes indistinguishable from power itself.

The third insurgency came in reaction to the election of Barack Obama—it was the Tea Party. Eight years later, it culminated in Trump’s victory, an insurgency within the party itself—because revolutions tend to be self-devouring (“I’m not willing to preside over people who are cannibals,” Gingrich declared in 1998 when he quit the House). In the third insurgency, the features of the original movement surfaced again, more grotesque than ever: paranoia and conspiracy thinking; racism and other types of hostility toward entire groups; innuendos and incidents of violence. The new leader is like his authoritarian counterparts abroad: illiberal, demagogic, hostile to institutional checks, demanding and receiving complete acquiescence from the party, and enmeshed in the financial corruption that is integral to the political corruption of these regimes. Once again, liberals failed to see it coming and couldn’t grasp how it happened. Neither could some conservatives who still believed in democracy.

The corruption of the Republican Party in the Trump era seemed to set in with breathtaking speed. In fact, it took more than a half century to reach the point where faced with a choice between democracy and power, the party chose the latter. Its leaders don’t see a dilemma—democratic principles turn out to be disposable tools, sometimes useful, sometimes inconvenient. The higher cause is conservatism, but the highest is power. After Wisconsin Democrats swept statewide offices last month, Robin Vos, speaker of the assembly, explained why Republicans would have to get rid of the old rules: “We are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in.”

As Bertolt Brecht wrote of East Germany’s ruling party:

Would it not be easier

In that case for the government

To dissolve the people

And elect another?


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22 hours ago, Tiger Sue said:

Yeah alexinva  I read it. It talks about him co-sponsoring some bills but that is different than VOTING. Tell me how many times he has not voted with the majority of Democrats.

I'm still interested. Just didn't want it to get buried in all of Homer's one track mind garbage in derailing your thread.

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On 9/3/2019 at 2:49 PM, Tiger Sue said:

I'm still interested. Just didn't want it to get buried in all of Homer's one track mind garbage in derailing your thread.

Mind your own business Sue. 

I was responding to a direct question from another poster.  If you want to comment on the contents of my response you are free to do so, but take your sophomoric sniping to the Trash Talk forum.

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On 9/3/2019 at 11:22 AM, bigbird said:

And for every one of those you can find ones with the same content and tone when Dems hold the power. To claim it's one-sided is laughable

Bird, you are not holding the Talking Points line.

Democrats are 100% Good, in all situations, at all times, on all topics, whether they are Corporate Dems or Justice Dems does not matter.

Orange Man Bad.

GOP 100% Evil. 

You see, leaving thinking to those that write thje talking points is always best. You dont have to read, or interact with others. Well let me correct that. When you interact with others that do not follow the TPMs you just shut your ears to anything they say or any evidence they may have and just respond with vitriol, venom, and hate. If you actually listen to them and allow discourse with them, then that takes 5 minutes of your life to listen and will just confuse you. So shut up and regurgitate the TPM 100% of the time, Right or Wrong just keep drinking the kool-aid. 

Bird you are asking folks to think and use their brain. Some of them are so "open minded" their brains fell out years ago.

Image result for open minded their brains fell out meme

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