Thursday, August 22, 2019

Last Call For Mitch, Interrupted

Everything you need to know about why Democrats should get rid of the filibuster once they get control of the Senate comes in the form of Mitch McConnell taking to the NY Times op-ed section to scold them not to.

A Democratic assault on the legislative filibuster would make the nomination fights look like child’s play. That’s because systematically filibustering nominees was not an old tradition but a modern phenomenon, pioneered in 2003 by Democrats who opposed President George W. Bush. When Republicans followed suit and held up a handful of Obama nominees the same way, Democrats could not stomach their own medicine and began a “nuclear” exchange that Republicans had to end.

The back-and-forth was regrettable, but the silver lining is that the failed experiment Democrats started in 2003 is now over. The Senate has taken a step back toward its centuries-old norms on nominations: limited debate and a simple majority threshold.

On legislation, however, the Senate’s treasured tradition is not efficiency but deliberation. One of the body’s central purposes is making new laws earn broader support than what is required for a bare majority in the House. The legislative filibuster does not appear in the Constitution’s text, but it is central to the order the Constitution sets forth. It echoes James Madison’s explanation in Federalist 62 that the Senate is designed not to rubber-stamp House bills but to act as an “additional impediment” and “complicated check” on “improper acts of legislation.” It embodies Thomas Jefferson’s principle that “great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities.”

The legislative filibuster is directly downstream from our founding tradition. If that tradition frustrates the whims of those on the far left, it is their half-baked proposals and not the centuries-old wisdom that need retooling.

Yes, the Senate’s design makes it difficult for one party to enact sweeping legislation on its own. Yes, the filibuster makes policy less likely to seesaw wildly with every election. These are features, not bugs. Our country doesn’t need a second House of Representatives with fewer members and longer terms. America needs the Senate to be the Senate.

I recognize it may seem odd that a Senate majority leader opposes a proposal to increase his own power. Certainly it is curious that liberals are choosing this moment, when Americans have elected Republican majorities three consecutive times and counting, to attack the minority’s powers.

But my Republican colleagues and I have not and will not vandalize this core tradition for short-term gain. We recognize what everyone should recognize — there are no permanent victories in politics. No Republican has any trouble imagining the laundry list of socialist policies that 51 Senate Democrats would happily inflict on Middle America in a filibuster-free Senate.

Now Mitch isn't writing this for his base, he's writing this as an open threat to Democratic voters to not elect Democrats.  For all of his posturing and scolding, the only real thing that matters is control of the Senate with 51 Senators (or 50 plus the VP).  The "historical mores" of the Senate have only resulted in years of useless gridlock, and a Republican Senate bound and determined not to pass legislation.

The best thing we could do is get rid of Mitch McConnell.

Lowering The Barr, Con't

The Justice Department under William Barr is going to take years to fix because the entire place is poisoned by Trumpified US attorneys like the one whose district includes Philadelphia, William McSwain.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain quickly blamed Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner for the August 14 shooting of six police officers who were trying to serve a warrant. In a statement released less than 24 hours after the standoff ended in North Philadelphia, McSwain, the U.S attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said the shooting was “precipitated by a stunning disrespect for law enforcement” that was “championed” by Krasner.

“The [district attorney’s office] has no interest in engaging with Bill McSwain’s inappropriate attempts to run for political office from his taxpayer-funded perch in Donald Trump’s DOJ,” Krasner spokesperson Jane Roh told The Appeal.

Seems like Trumpies will Trump, but there's always more to the story.

McSwain failed to mention, however, that alleged shooter Maurice Hill’s interactions with law enforcement predated Krasner taking office. Nor did McSwain acknowledge that the 36-year-old Hill, who on Saturday was charged by Krasner’s office with attempted murder and multiple counts of aggravated assault related to the incident, has been a federal informant for years, according to documents obtained by The Appeal.

In June 2008, Hill entered a guilty plea the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced in the case in 2010. In an April 2010 sentencing memorandum filed with the court, Hill’s attorney Wayne Maynard stated that federal prosecutors filed a motion for a downward departure from Hill’s guideline sentence because he provided substantial assistance to the federal government. “He has testified before the Grand Jury on two occasions, was willing to testify at trial, and provided information about a shooter that led to an arrest,” Maynard wrote. “He has cooperated with the Government and provided information that has and will likely continue to imperil his safety and that of his family.”

Maynard argued that Hill should receive a lower-than-average sentence because of his cooperation and that a federal prosecutor made a similar argument for such a sentence. The federal prosecutor’s sentencing memorandum was sealed by the court, so the specifics of the downward departure are unknown.

In April 2010, Hill was sentenced to 55 months in federal prison followed by three years on supervised release. That year, the average sentence for a person convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm was more than 75 months in prison, according to statistics published by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

According to the agency, roughly one-quarter of all people sentenced in federal court received a sentence below the standard guideline minimum, the majority of whom received sentencing relief for providing substantial assistance to the federal government.

Prosecutors often file substantial-assistance motions in these cases; upon such a motion, which states that a defendant has provided substantial assistance in an investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense, the court may depart from the sentencing guidelines. However, because much of Hill’s federal court record is sealed, it is unknown whether such a motion was filed in his case.

So of course, McSwain blamed Philly DA Larry Krasner for something that happened before Krasner took office, and it wasn't even Krasner who put Hill back on the streets.

It was the Feds.

Orange Snowflakes In Greenland

Donald Trump got his feelings hurt when Denmark's Prime Minister told him Greenland wasn't for sale, and now we have a full-blown international incident on our hands with yet another European ally.

President Trump on Wednesday lashed out at Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, saying the leader of the U.S. ally had made “nasty” comments about his interest in having the United States purchase Greenland.

Trump announced Tuesday night that he was calling off a planned two-day state visit to Copenhagen early next month over Frederiksen’s refusal to entertain the sale of Greenland, a self-governing country that is part of the kingdom of Denmark.

Frederiksen told reporters Wednesday she was surprised by Trump’s change in plans and also lamented the missed opportunity to celebrate the historical alliance between Denmark and the United States, saying preparations for the visit had been “well underway.”

Frederiksen called the idea of the sale of Greenland “absurd” over the weekend after news broke of Trump’s interest — a characterization that apparently offended him.

“I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “She shouldn’t treat the United States that way. . . . She said ‘absurd.’ That’s not the right word to use.”

Trump’s comment came during a rambling, 35-minute back-and-forth with reporters outside the White House, where he reversed his position on some issues facing his administration while also reiterating comments that have already sparked several rounds of controversy this week.

Trump's put a year's worth of chaos into one week, and it's only Thursday morning.

The president defended his trade war with China despite worries that his tariffs have become a drag on the economy while chastising his predecessors for not taking a tougher line with Beijing.

“Somebody had to do it,” he said before looking skyward and proclaiming: “I am the chosen one.”

He said he still wants to end birthright citizenship through an executive order — an idea that was dismissed by most legal experts as unconstitutional when he floated it late last year — while also disputing reports that he is backing away from a plan to expand background checks following recent mass shootings. 
Trump denied he is considering a payroll tax cut to head off a recession, arguing that there is no need to do so even after he confirmed it was under consideration the previous day.

He intensified his criticism of Jewish voters who support Democrats, calling them “very disloyal to Israel.”

And Trump continued to serve as the loudest cheerleader for his own record, while dismissing any criticism of his actions or rhetoric.

“I was put here by people to do a great job, and that’s what I’m doing,” he said. “And nobody’s done a job like I’ve done.”

It's exhausting, all of it.


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