Archive for the ‘Senate’ Category

Until this morning, I thought that the Senate had a constitutional obligation to hold a trial if the House approved articles of impeachment. At this point, I’m not sure of that anymore. Included in David Catron’s article is this quote from “Keith E. Whittington, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University.”

Prof. Whittington is quoted as saying “The Senate could entertain a motion to dismiss the charges at the outset of a trial on the grounds that the allegations did not meet the constitutional standard of impeachable offenses, and a majority of the Senate could send the House packing without ever hearing a witness or seeing evidence. If a majority of the senators thought the House was abusing the impeachment power … there is no reason why the Senate would have to pay obeisance to the House by going through the motions of a pointless trial.”

When Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998, a trial was held in the Senate. At the time, then-Sen. Tom Harkin noted that senators were both judge and jury. Chief Justice William Rehnquist ruled that Sen. Harkin was right.

If senators have judicial authorities in an impeachment trial, why can’t they dismiss the case? If I had a $100 bill for each time I’ve heard it said that impeachment is whatever Congress says it is, I’d be semi-wealthy. If the House has the authority to say that a president’s actions are an impeachable offense, why shouldn’t the Senate have the authority to rule otherwise? I’ve seen nothing in the Constitution that states the House and Senate must agree.

In fact, the Constitution’s text suggests the opposite. If the Senate was obligated to agree with the House, there wouldn’t be a need for a Senate trial. If the Constitution said that, the Senate trial in those circumstances would be a rubberstamp. I’m certain that isn’t what the men who wrote the Constitution had in mind since they steadfastly insisted on a system of checks and balances.

If the Senate slapped down the House’s articles of impeachment on the grounds that they thought didn’t fit the Constitution’s requirements of treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors, that’s a legitimate verdict. I can’t picture the Supreme Court overturning that verdict. I’m betting that they wouldn’t want to touch it.

It’s difficult to picture anyone on Capitol Hill taking impeachment seriously, especially when it starts with this clown show:

What’s frightening is that Schiff is the more competent one between he and Nadler. In either case, the Senate should vote to drop the case on the grounds that it doesn’t rise to the constitutional requirements.

After reading this article, there’s no doubt that Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford had a sinister motive in stepping forward and making her wild accusations. At the time, I thought that it was highly possible Dr. Blasey-Ford wasn’t telling the truth. When Dr. Ford’s best friend said that she’d never met Brett Kavanaugh, I thought it was almost certain that Dr. Blasey-Ford hadn’t told the truth.

It’s worth noting that Debra Katz, a “high-powered progressive lawyer” who represented Dr. Blasey-Ford, said “In the aftermath of these hearings, I believe that Christine’s testimony brought about more good than the harm misogynist Republicans caused by allowing Kavanaugh on the court. He will always have an asterisk next to his name. When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is, we know his character, and we know what motivates him, and that is important.”

The assault against Kavanaugh has been exposed, especially in the fantastic new book Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court, written by Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist and Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network. There will be an asterisk associated with the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings but it will be attached to the far-left activists who tried derailing Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Here’s the video proof of Katz’s statements:

What’s now known is that Dr. Ford came forward for partisan political reasons, not because she had proof that Brett Kavanaugh had done the things she’d accused him of doing. Lots of accusations were thrown at Justice Kavanaugh. The most discredited accusations were made by Julie Swetnick, then represented by Michael Avenatti, aka CPL, aka Creepy Porn Lawyer. In September, 2018, Swetnick swore out a statement under penalty of perjury, stating “I witnessed Brett Kavanaugh consistently engage in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women during the early 1980s.”

In October, 2018, then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley referred both Avenatti and Swetnick for criminal prosecution to the DOJ. The Democrats’ attempt to derail the confirmation of a judge who happened to be Catholic should frighten people who think that we shouldn’t hold a person’s religious beliefs against them if they’re applying for a position within the federal government. The Constitution forbids religious tests:

but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

That text is found in Article VI, Clause 3. This is just the start. If/when Ruth Bader Ginsburg retires and President Trump still occupies the Oval Office and Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, all hell will break loose. It doesn’t take Nostradamus to figure that out. Joe Biden could even figure that out.

Saying that open-mindedness isn’t Tina Smith’s strong suit is understatement. In this article, Tina Smith sounds more like the former executive vice president of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota than an open-minded US senator. When she arrived in the US Senate, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota issued a statement congratulating her.

It started by saying “United States Senator Tina Smith will be a powerful, moving force for justice and continue her life’s work to improve people’s lives. In every position Senator Smith has held, she has brought her strategic leadership, her finely honed negotiating skills, her business acumen and her passion for women’s health and rights, and we are all better for it. Smith has been a strong voice for women’s health and rights in Minnesota. As our United States Senator, Tina Smith will be a calm, sensible leader who understands that women can’t earn a living or support their children if they don’t have access to the reproductive health care they need.”

Here’s what Sen. Tina Smith did after Judge Kavanaugh was announced:

Standing on the Supreme Court steps at a Monday night rally, Smith accused Trump of picking the D.C. federal appeals judge from a list drawn up by “far right ideologues” who believe he’ll cast the deciding vote on overturning legalized abortion under Roe v. Wade.

“It’s clear that President Trump, the Heritage Foundation, and the Federalist Society believe they can count on Judge Kavanaugh to cast that decisive fifth vote to overturn Roe, dismantle basic consumer protections in our health care laws, and gut regulations that protect workers and the environment,” Smith said at the rally, according to remarks provided by her office.

Later, she said, “I am here tonight because I’m a United States senator. But I’m also the only senator who has ever worked at Planned Parenthood. And I know that when women do not have the freedom to make their own choices about their reproductive health care, they have lost the freedom to direct their own lives.”

Spoken like a true far left ideologue. I’m betting that more people think of Planned Parenthood as ideological extremists than think that the Heritage Foundation is an extremist organization. Here’s Sen. Smith at the anti-Kavanaugh protest:

The Uterus Caucus, aka NOW, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights organizations were totally determined to prevent anyone on President Trump’s list that they prepared in advance:

By comparison, Karin Housley’s response sounded rational:

State Sen. Karin Housley, the Republican frontrunner to run for Smith’s Senate seat this November, called Kavanaugh an “excellent choice” on Trump’s part. “At a time when our nation’s founding principles are increasingly called into question, Judge Kavanaugh will make a tremendous addition to the high court,” Housley said in a statement, in which she said Smith “has shown she is in lockstep with the radical, left-wing brand of Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren.”

Sen. Housley should’ve also included Kamala Harris in her list of “radical, left-wing” nutjobs. Here’s why:

Tina Smith is just as nutty as Harris, Schumer or Warren.

Senate Democrats insisting on obstructing President Trump’s agenda got a shot across their bow this afternoon from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

“Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president’s nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled. Senators should expect to remain in session in August to pass legislation, including appropriations bills, and to make additional progress on the president’s nominees.”

Democrats have insisted on using every trick in their book to obstruct President Trump’s nominations to cabinet positions, Supreme Court justices and appellate court judges. They haven’t stopped using those tactics because they’ve never paid a price for their obstruction.

This afternoon, that changed. This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he’s cancelling the Senate’s August recess. That means 10 vulnerable Democrats will lose time to campaign in their home states while their opponents campaign and fundraise.

Sherrod Brown, are you feeling better today than a month ago? While Jim Renacci is campaigning throughout the state during August, you get to slog through appropriation bills and judicial confirmation votes. Trump won Ohio by 400,000+ votes in 2016. I’m pretty certain his voters will turn out, especially after you voted against the Trump/GOP tax cuts. Good luck this November.

Bob Casey, are you feeling better today than a month ago? You, too, voted against the Trump/GOP tax cuts. Now, you won’t have as much time to campaign as you’d anticipated. Good luck in November.

Jon Tester, how’s that long flight back to Montana? You thought you’d have the month of August to campaign. You really needed it after making those baseless accusations about Ronny Jackson. Instead of campaign in August, you’ll be spending your time in DC wading through appropriations bills and confirming Trump’s judicial nominees. Good luck in November.

Mitch is playing this properly. If Democrats want to play hardball, let them lose some Senate seats as a result.

This Bloomberg News article opens by saying “The House and Senate were in session Sunday with a federal government shutdown in its second day amid a spending-bill impasse in Congress.” Apparently, Democrats, including Lindsey Graham, didn’t get the memo. They think the bill that funds government operations, aka an appropriations bill, is the perfect opportunity to codify into law a DACA fix.

Once Vice President Pence returns home from his trip to Israel, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should schedule a vote to change the rules of the Senate that would require only appropriations be allowed in appropriations bills. I know that sounds like a radical concept but people not living in that sphere of insanity known as Washington, DC, would find that rule change sensible. Further, the Senate should require an up-or-down vote on appropriations bills.

One of the primary functions of congress is to fund the government. Political party shouldn’t be allowed to stop that process dead in its tracks. That’s what the Democrats are doing. The Senate rules should let them do their job. Period. It’s time that Democrats learned that elections have consequences.

Finally, Republicans should highlight the fact that Democrats care more about illegal immigrants than they care for vulnerable children or the military. BTW, it’s time to kill the sequestration caps. They’re killing the military in terms of training and readiness.

In his farewell speech to the US Senate, Sen. Franken said that as “I leave the Senate, I have to admit that it feels like we’re losing the war for truth. Maybe it’s already lost. If that’s what happens, then we have lost the ability to have the kinds of arguments that help build consensus.”

Later in that speech, Sen. Franken said “Often, the ‘debate’ here in Washington can sometimes seem arcane and tough to understand. Other times—especially in recent years—it can be so bitter that it doesn’t even feel like we’re trying to resolve anything, just venting our spleens at each other. I get that. I get why people want us to stop arguing and start, well, doing stuff. But since I am leaving the Senate, I thought I would take a big risk and say a few words in favor of arguments.”

What BS. Literally the day after all Democrats in the House and Senate voted against the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, Sen. Franken is attempting to justify the Democrats’ refusal to cooperate with Republicans in cutting people’s taxes. This is a Democrat difficulty. It isn’t just Sen. Franken who has difficulty working with Republicans. So-called moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester made initial ‘friendly noises’ before voting like Elizabeth Warren.

It used to be said that the US Senate was the “greatest deliberative body in the world.” It isn’t that anymore. The definition of argument is “an oral disagreement; verbal opposition; contention; altercation.” Meanwhile, the definition of deliberation is “careful consideration before decision.”

With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Democrats immediately opposed the legislation before the first page was written. That’s the opposite of deliberation. There’s nothing deliberative about that. That fits the definition of argument more than it fits the definition of deliberation.

Here’s Sen. Franken’s final speech on the Senate floor:

There isn’t any proof that Sen. Franken tried identifying the truth. That’s why it’s one of the first casualties upon entering Washington, DC. Rather than lamenting the death of the truth, Democrats should try employing it more consistently.

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It isn’t a stretch to say that the DFL hates cutting taxes. Further, it isn’t a stretch to think that the DFL doesn’t understand economics. When Democrats, whether they’re in the US Senate or the Minnesota legislature, complain about tax cuts for “the rich”, I’m reminded of Ronald Reagan’s cliché that you can’t create jobs if you hurt employers. There’s indisputable proof that companies are leaving the US for low-tax countries. Not all companies leave but there’s no doubt that many companies do.

Yesterday, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Dayton’s veto of the legislature’s operating budget was constitutional. At the heart of that fight is Gov. Dayton’s hatred of tax relief. If Gov. Dayton understood the power of pro-growth tax policies, he wouldn’t have objected to the Republicans’ tax relief bill.

Further, after watching every DFL legislator vote against the tax relief package last spring, it isn’t a dishonest statement to say that the DFL hate pro-growth tax policies. At what point will the DFL admit that pro-growth tax policies work? Will they ever admit that?

It isn’t just DFL legislators that hate pro-growth tax policies. By now, most LFR readers have seen this fight between ‘Uncle Orrin’ Hatch, (R-UT), and Sherrod Brown, (D-OH), during Thursday night’s mark-up of the Senate Tax Cuts and Job Act:

Way to go, Uncle Orrin! That’s what I’d call a beat-down! Beyond seeing Republicans fighting Democrats over the benefits of this pro-growth tax policy, that exchange is instructive because Sen. Brown said something totally stupid. Specifically, Sen. Brown said “And I get sick and tired of the rich always getting richer.” Let me state this clearly. I can’t imagine a politician saying something more foolish than that. Why wouldn’t you want the rich to keep getting richer? If they aren’t getting richer, that means that they aren’t making a profit. People that aren’t making a profit can’t continue employing people.

I don’t know who Republicans will run against Sen. Brown but whoever they run should run that clip morning, noon and night against Sen. Brown. I’d finish the ad by asking ‘Was Sherrod Brown just gratuitously grandstanding? Or is he that economically ignorant?’

Seriously, how can a U.S. senator be that stupid? That’s painful to watch.

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First, I’ll stipulate that there’s no such thing as a permanent majority. Next, though, I’ll state that Democrats have radicalized themselves so much that it’ll take a decade (or more) to become a viable national party. Right now, they’re a bicoastal minority party. That isn’t just my opinion. It’s 538.com’s opinion, too.

In his article, David Wasserman writes “Even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than 3 percentage points — a pretty good midterm by historical standards — they could still fall short of the House majority and lose five Senate seats.”

Wasserman explains this phenomenon by saying “In the last few decades, Democrats have expanded their advantages in California and New York, states with huge urban centers that combined to give Clinton a 6 million vote edge, more than twice her national margin. But those two states elect only 4 percent of the Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans have made huge advances in small rural states, think Arkansas, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and West Virginia, that wield disproportionate power in the upper chamber compared to their populations.

This is a better explanation for what’s happened during the weakening of the Democratic Party: the Democratic Party has spent far too much time courting environmental activists and too little time connecting with blue collar workers. Democrats focused so much time on Hispanics that they forgot that there’s a ton of blue collar voters in America’s heartland.

If Democrats don’t get their act together, they’ll quickly become the minority party for a generation. It’s that simple.

Now that the new Congress has been sworn in, Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court has faded into history’s mists. With the nomination’s passing came the obligatory statements from the Senate Majority Leader and the new Minority Leader.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “I’ve been clear throughout that the next president would name the next Supreme Court justice. Now, the president who won the election will make the nomination, and the Senate the American people just re-elected will consider that nomination.”

New Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-NY), issued a sour grapes statement through his spokesman, saying “What Senate Republicans did to Judge Garland, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution was appalling. Judge Garland is respected on both sides of the aisle. That he did not even get so much as a hearing will be a stain on the legacy of the Republican Senate.”

To the average voter, that sounds like “BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.” It sounds like sour grapes. The truth is that Democrats wanted to shift the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation when Justice Scalia unexpectedly passed away. Republicans essentially said ‘Not without a fight first.’

While Democrats express their sour grapes, the American people will move on. They’ll worry whether Senate Democrats will attempt to force families to continue using the ABACA. They’ll worry whether Democrats will insist on not protecting the US-Mexican border. People in Chicago will wonder if the Trump administration will be called in to deal with all of the gang-on-gang violence or whether they’ll be frequent targets of gang-on-gang violence.

Sen. Schumer has more than a little pressure on him. If he makes deals with President Trump, he’ll get booted by Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren for being too soft. If he takes a Warren-like hard line, he’ll imperil somewhat moderate Democratic senators for their 2018 re-election campaigns.

This MinnPost article poses the hypothetical question of whether Sen. Klobuchar will run for governor in 2018 rather than run for re-election to the US Senate. That’s a good question.

The article describes Sen. Klobuchar as “a political heavyweight”, which is fair considering the fact that she’s won her Senate races fairly handily. I don’t know, though, that she’s unbeatable. In the Senate, she’s co-sponsored lots of meaningless bills with Republicans. So what? She hasn’t distinguished herself as a leader on the biggest issues of the day. In fact, she’s avoided the toughest issues of the day.

There’s another consideration that Democrats haven’t talked about, which is that 2018 promises to be a difficult year for Democrats. There’s a definite possibility that Republicans could win enough seats in 2018 to have a filibuster-proof majority in 2019. If that happens, Sen. Klobuchar’s presidential ambitions immediately disappear forever. I can’t picture Sen. Schumer not pressuring Sen. Klobuchar to run for re-election to prevent that filibuster-proof GOP majority.

I don’t doubt that DFL readers of LFR are questioning my implication that a Republican would win that seat if Sen. Klobuchar ran for governor. That’s fair. Still, if Klobuchar ran for governor, I’d bet big money that a Republican like Pete Hegseth would jump in and defeat the DFL-endorsed candidate fairly handily.

Klobuchar could bridge Minnesota’s rural-urban divide: One of the loudest messages of the 2016 election is that many rural residents don’t feel understood or heard by the political establishments in Washington and St. Paul. In particular, many rural residents were upset by the costs of health care.

Sen. Klobuchar voted for the ACA, which means she’s partially to blame for Minnesota’s skyrocketing premiums and expensive premiums. It’s impossible to vote for that disaster, then insist that you’re blameless in the matter.

The only way she’d have credibility is if she voted with Republicans to repeal and replace the ACA. If she did that, the DFL base would treat her like she’d just proposed building a coal-fired power plant in Minneapolis.

Sen. Klobuchar is a formidable opponent. Still, I don’t want Republicans to think that she’s unstoppable. When she ran in 2006 and 2012, she ran in very pro-Democrat elections. That won’t be the situation in 2018. Further, she was protected by the media from scrutiny. While it’s true that the Twin Cities media will still protect ‘St. Amy of Hennepin County’, Sen. Klobuchar’s nickname, Minnesotans are in a totally different mindset.

I still find it difficult to believe she’ll give up her cushy Senate seat to run for governor.

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