Of course, a term of endearment. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.
Tag Archives: Congress
Glass empty. The faux representative of many names is providing endless comedic fodder, but his presence in the House is damaging its already declining reputation. Every rep’s credibility will be questioned a little or a lot more. Everyday he “serves”, people’s trust in the legislative process will erode further. Fairly or not, when it comes to our worst colleagues, we are often guilty by association.
Glass full. Keep an eye on MGP, a different kind of Demo.
Do We Have Three Parties Already?
I think so. At least that’s my conclusion after reading Slate’s “Progressives May Be Making a Huge Error in Trying to Save Their Agenda”. Republicans, moderate Demos, and progressive Demos.
“The GOP is full of loons and nihilists these days, and planning a legislative strategy partly around the hope that they’ll come to a responsible bargain in a few years’ time seems a little Pollyannaish.
In the end, I’m guessing Democrats will settle on a combination of . . . approaches. They may make a paid leave program permanent, but only temporarily extend Biden’s child tax credit, as is currently the plan, anyway. But personally, as a somewhat risk-averse human being, my impulse is to do fewer programs and pay for them to be permanent, so Americans can actually begin planning around them with at least a tiny bit of confidence. LBJ didn’t set Medicare on an egg timer, after all. Imagine how much frailer our safety net might be if he had.”
90 Year Old Legislators
A story, compliments of The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer:
“In a hearing on November 17th, Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who, at eighty-seven, is the oldest member of the Senate, grilled a witness. Reading from a sheaf of prepared papers, she asked Jack Dorsey, the C.E.O. of Twitter, whether his company was doing enough to stem the spread of disinformation. Elaborating, she read in full a tweet that President Trump had disseminated on November 7th, falsely claiming to have won the Presidential election. She then asked Dorsey if Twitter’s labelling of the tweet as disputed had adequately alerted readers that it was a bald lie.
It was a good question. Feinstein seemed sharp and focussed. For decades, she has been the epitome of a female trailblazer in Washington, always hyper-prepared. But this time, after Dorsey responded, Feinstein asked him the same question again, reading it word for word, along with the Trump tweet. Her inflection was eerily identical. Feinstein looked and sounded just as authoritative, seemingly registering no awareness that she was repeating herself verbatim. Dorsey graciously answered the question all over again.”
If that’s not concerning enough, how ’bout this:
“Schumer had several serious and painful talks with Feinstein, according to well-informed sources. Overtures were also made to enlist the help of Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum. Feinstein, meanwhile, was surprised and upset by Schumer’s message. He had wanted her to step aside on her own terms, with her dignity intact, but “she wasn’t really all that aware of the extent to which she’d been compromised,” one well-informed Senate source told me. “It was hurtful and distressing to have it pointed out.” Compounding the problem, Feinstein seemed to forget about the conversations soon after they talked, so Schumer had to confront her again. “It was like Groundhog Day, but with the pain fresh each time.”
What the hell is going on? Why did Californians elect an 87-year old for a six year term? Was it because there wasn’t anyone a little younger and of sounder mind? And as Mayer makes clear, it’s not just California. Other citizens in other states are doing the same thing.
The Beginning Of The End For The (dis)United States
As one part of my history major, I studied Central and Latin American history in college. And there was one thing I could never figure out. Until this weekend.
I didn’t understand why, whenever a populist, land-reform promising political party gained control of political power, they never managed to follow through on their promises to upset the status quo, distribute power more fairly, and improve ordinary people’s lives.
Forty years later*, I realize it’s because the idealists’ hatred for their predecessors became so all encompassing it distracted them from the day-to-day work of building a brighter future.
The common good took a backseat to getting even with the bastards in the other party for the sometimes decades-long laundry list of political grievances including massive corruption, and in some cases, government sponsored death squads.
The political class in the (dis)United States thinks the (dis)United States is superior to any country to the south, so my reference is irrelevant. But it’s dead wrong, human nature doesn’t respect political boundaries. We are prone to the exact same desire to get revenge. I know that because I feel it in a more visceral way this weekend than ever before. Others do too, no doubt.
Consequently, we are on the precipice of a very similar downward spiral that’s seemingly inevitable when every political party assumes the worst of the other.
Listening to the Senate Majority Leader, the President, and other Republicans unprecedented, unapologetic politicizing of the Supreme Court convinces me that they care way more about their party’s interests than the country’s.
The Democrat’s refrain this week will be, “Never forget.” Democrats risk being overwhelmed by anger at the Republican’s historic hypocrisy. When they gain power, which they inevitably will sooner or later, they are likely to seek revenge. And when the Republicans regain it, which they inevitably will sooner or later, they will do the exact same.
Just like that, if it hasn’t already, the organizing principle of our politics will become revenge. Instead of looking to the future, we’ll be mired in the past. And our national debt will grow large; our natural environment will grow more inhospitable; our infrastructure will erode further; racial justice will remain more illusive; and more people will struggle to meet their basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing.
And I will take zero joy in being right.
*better late than never
Saturday Assorted Links
1. Alison Byrnes’s dream vacation. Maybe yours too?
2. Kate Wynja, high school golfer of the year.
“. . . it broke my heart for the team.”
3. Restaurants of the future. Count me as pro simplification.
4A. Female members of congress by party affiliation.
4B. The future of the Democratic Party. Maybe.
5. Republicans’ latest tax con.
Easter service at Good Shepherd Lutheran brought a surfeit of babies. One particularly endearing one craned her neck to look up at the ceiling lights one minute and head butted her grandpa the next. The red-headed one, sadly, didn’t get quite as much attention as the blonde head butter.
Those babies may live until 2118, which prompted me to think how differently a President might govern, a Congress might legislate, and a Judiciary might rule if they focused their attention on the later years of Good Shepherd’s littlest Easter service congregants.
What if our news cycles were ten years long and all of us adopted 2118 thinking?
We’d reign in our federal debt, we’d conserve natural resources, and we’d focus on reducing global poverty. In contrast, the Associated Press reports, “The Trump administration is expected to announce that it will roll back automobile gas mileage and pollution standards that were a pillar in the Obama administration’s plans to combat climate change.”
Is that what he means by “Make America Great Again”?
Peak United States
How do we know if we’re in decline? What are signs of slippage? Do mirrors help? What about comparisons to other people and places?
What psychological barriers prevent us from acknowledging our decline?
Why, despite being very well educated and very comfortable with numbers, do I not understand our tax system well enough to prepare my family’s taxes? Why do I have to pay an expert to prepare them?
Why are there 1,000+ deductions? Why is Congress so susceptible to accounting firms’ lobbyists? And realtors’ lobbyists? Why hasn’t there been meaningful tax reform since 1986? Why does our tax accounting system benefit members of Congress more than their constituents? Why do well-to-do, stock owning citizens, pay less in taxes than others? Why do most other developed countries have far more simple, fair, and efficient tax systems? Why aren’t more people agitating for answers to that question? Why have citizens allowed their representatives to defend the status quo for 30+ years?
Why, despite being very well educated and very comfortable with numbers, do I not understand my health insurance? Why am I told what my doctor visit, biopsies, surgical consultation, and minor surgeries all cost a few weeks afterwards? What if restaurants didn’t have menus, but instead, just told you what you owed after you ate? Why are there initial charges and secondary “what insurance allows” charges? Why does Kaiser-Permanente make me go to a “surgery consultation” when the surgeon said it was unnecessary, “but Seattle won’t let us do our own scheduling”? Why was I charged $206 for the unnecessary 20 minute “consultation”?
Why is Congress so beholden to medical insurance lobbyists? Why do many other developed countries have far more simple, comprehensive, and efficient health insurance systems? Why are so many citizens resigned to health insurance pricing and paperwork lunacy? Why do citizens continue to elect representatives who preserve the medical insurance status quo?
How does anyone of sound mind claim that the U.S. is “the greatest country on God’s green earth” when our tax and health insurance systems are fucked up way beyond our compromised legislative body’s ability to fix them?
When Monopolies Take Over
Businesses grow as a result of superior customer service. As a result, they sometimes come to completely dominate their market, then the quality of their customer service deteriorates. Often markedly.
A congressional committee—I don’t know which one would be most appropriate—should give this audio tape a listen. I’d title it something like “What our post-free-market consumer experience will be like”.
Give it a listen, then forward it to your political reps. I know, naive of me to think Congress might do something.
The caller’s preternatural calm is mind boggling. My favorite line, “Are you punking us?”
Thanks to Ryan Block and Veronica Belmont for lifting the curtain, I’m sorry to say, on my internet provider.
Congress in a Nutshell
And our national debt.
From today’s WSJ:
Rep. John Garamendi is known as a staunch advocate for cutting unnecessary defense spending. But the California Democrat avidly defends one program: a fleet of high-altitude surveillance drones that the Pentagon wants to scrap.
While Mr. Garamendi says the drones are a critical Pentagon tool, there is another reason he is a vociferous defender of the unmanned aircraft: Pilots who control them work at a base in his congressional district.