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DMC

US Politics: Show Trials & Tribulations

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While it's fun to throw out all the retrospective possibilities on how the GOP would've impeached Obama, the fact they couldn't find anything that even they would think would be politically palatable as a basis for impeachment is quite the testament to the competence and "cleanliness" (I can't think of a good term right now for "avoidance of scandals") of his administration.

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In somewhat surprising news, Trump has agreed to join the 1 trillion trees initiative (I guess because they dont cause....stump cancer? Who knows. Maybe its because trees are not politically fraught). I suggest we not look this gift horse in the mouth.

Of course, other initiatives are also necessary, but lets not let the perfect be the enemy of good.

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11 minutes ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

In somewhat surprising news, Trump has agreed to join the 1 trillion trees initiative (I guess because they dont cause....stump cancer? Who knows. Maybe its because trees are not politically fraught). I suggest we not look this gift horse in the mouth.

Of course, other initiatives are also necessary, but lets not let the perfect be the enemy of good.

Probably something like being able to get volunteers to plant trees at the edges of his golf courses to better seclude them from the peasants outside.

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Matt Gaetz is praising the Dem managers and ripping Trump's defense team?  I need to go get checked out.

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5 hours ago, Zorral said:

You gonna fly in a Boeing Max? Hold  Ukraine aid hostage until Rand's personal demands are met?

This is another version of make government a corporate business. Totally Trumpian mode, and how we've gotten where we are right now.

Also the only reason Johnson didn't get removed from office was that the railroad lobbyists provided so much money to bribe so many senators, and particularly that single vote by which conviction was lost.  The bribery bought senators who then could also dangle offices, appointments and other favors to other senators.  And threats too.  That's what we've got right now.  Tech corps will only make it worse.

~~~~~~~~

Evidently the best way to get your message through, whatever it may be, is the Bloomberg Way: Spend a Billion of Mine Very Own Money to Blanket the Voters With What I Want Them To Know.  I wish he'd do that about trump's plans for Medicare and Social Security.

~~~~~~~~

As far as voting by mail -- trump is also working to privatize the post office, which will then be part of that government like a corporation.  My, how easy it is to lose mail -- or make it too expensive to use.  This is the intent, along with, he thinks, putting Amazon out of business.

 

 

 

If Trump wants to put Amazon out of business, the best way is for him to run it. 

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1 hour ago, DMC said:

While it's fun to throw out all the retrospective possibilities on how the GOP would've impeached Obama, the fact they couldn't find anything that even they would think would be politically palatable as a basis for impeachment is quite the testament to the competence and "cleanliness" (I can't think of a good term right now for "avoidance of scandals") of his administration.

Funny you chose that word. I believe it was Sen. Reid who said that Obama’s best attribute isn’t that he’s handsome, or that he’s a great orator, but that he managed to emerge from Chicago’s cesspool political world clean, and that indicated to him that Obama would run a safe Administration.

56 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

That man has resting asshole face.

The first thought I had the first time I saw him was “I bet that dude cheats on all the women he dates.”

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2 hours ago, DMC said:

While it's fun to throw out all the retrospective possibilities on how the GOP would've impeached Obama, the fact they couldn't find anything that even they would think would be politically palatable as a basis for impeachment is quite the testament to the competence and "cleanliness" (I can't think of a good term right now for "avoidance of scandals") of his administration.

Its a testament to how messed up our government is and how much it doesn't give a hoot in hell about the Constitution. Obama SHOULD have been impeached for the extra-judicial assassination of 6 US citizens by drone strike, one of whom was a 16-yr old young man from Colorado who had the audacity to be related to someone the USGov declared was a terrorist. That's Treason via Corruption of Blood which is specifically BANNED in Article III of the US Constitution. The fact the a POTUS ordered the murder of a US citizen without so much as a show trial and then tried to justify it with a rationale that is absolutely proscribed in its founding document shows just how much the US is broken beyond repair.

As for Drumpf, he's a symptom, not a cause, of the dysfunction.

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6 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Simon,

I think there is a point here.  Is the repeated unsuccessful use of impeachment damaging to the process?  Or is the repeated symbolic use of impeachment where you know it will not succeed important unto itself.  

If Presidents were frequently impeached and never removed from office it would certainly turn impeachment into an empty threat.  There have been three impeachments in US history, so far, none of them have been successful.  Therefore, as it stands, impeachment is still a big deal in its own right even if it isn't successful in removing a President from office.  That President will always have an asterix by their name.  

If we suddenly see impeachment as a purely political tool and it is normal for a House of Representatives controlled by a party different from the President to impeach.  

This is a fair point, and I am certainly a registered democrat, but this situation with Trump seems so corrupt on so many levels, I feel like something has to be done, even if it's purely symbolic. I agree with you that impeachment can't just become a tool of the opposing party to gum up the works. I feared that Obama might be impeached for that very reason. But in this case, Trump's corruption seems so deep that it can't be ignored. Maybe I can't see through my party blinders? I am open to that possibility. 

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There has to be some mechanism to remove a sitting president.  Even if it's as toothless* as impeachment. 

*Nixon would have been impeached if he didn't resign.  So even at 25% it's not exactly a toothless mechanism.  If there was no possibility of impeachment Nixon would not have resigned.

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5 hours ago, Fez said:

My ideal solution, which of course will never happen, is let actual experts take over, give them real power to enact changes, and sit back and see what happens. But since that won't happen, I gravitate towards politicians that at least won't make things worse by either 1) cutting funding (so Republicans are out) or 2) wanting to replace functional private structures with what the government currently is (so the far-left is out).

The dissertation I just (finally!) finished is on how the bureaucracy influences policymaking in three facets (and papers):  (1) Unilateral action, or executive orders; (2) Delegation models or specifically the interbranch budgetary process; and (3) the president's legislative agenda.  My approach is largely based on the structural characteristics of agencies, relying upon Selin's (2015; 2013 working paper) two dimensions of politicization - limits on the appointment of key decision makers - and centralization - limits on political (i.e. presidential) review of agency policy decisions.

In terms of this dichotomy, one of the main takeaways from my findings across all three papers is that agencies that are more politicized have significantly more influence or "success"* compared to agencies that are more centralized.  (And there is an identifiable tradeoff between the two.)  While this is not the same thing as agency "effectiveness" or positive policy outcomes, which is what you're getting at, it is highly correlated. 

So what you want to do with agencies is actually "politicize" them in terms of the president staffing the higher levels of the agency with people she feels comfortable with and will have aligned preferences.  Basically the "fulcrum" model Resh (2015) develops where the president builds trust with expert careerists through high-level political appointees to solve vertical coordination dilemmas.  This is the optimal way in which an agency's expertise can be realized through policy outcomes.  Agencies are decidedly less "successful" when their structure is centralized, or when the president and the WHO take a more active role in overseeing the agency's policy implementation.  While Selin's measures are constant (i.e. not time-varying), the problem is that across the past three (now four, but Trump ain't in my dataset) administrations, presidents have an increased tendency to try and centralize most agencies that don't have strong statutory independence.  

The other systemic problem I emphasize in papers 2 and 3 is the decreased level of congressional committee staff since the 1994 Republican takeover (see here for the House in terms of raw numbers**).  This leads to horizontal coordination problems with any legislation - the breakdown of the classic "Iron Triangle" between agencies, Congress, and interest groups.  That "Iron Triangle" construct often has negative connotations, but it is essential for bureaucratic expertise to impact policy, or "learning while governing" (Gailmard & Patty 2013).  Instead of Congress accounting for their inherent information asymmetry problems vis-a-vis the bureaucracy through cultivating institutional expertise, in its place we now have to rely upon revolving door lobbying thanks to polarization.  So while agencies are still going to perpetuate themselves at least in terms of funding in the way Weber, and hell even Balzac, criticize the bureaucracy, their expertise is both not being put to good use and no longer shares institutional memory in interbranch coordination with Congress.  Thanks polarization..I mean Obama.

*Success is operationalized as the agencies role in an EO's "policy significance" for paper 1; "budgetary discretion" for paper 2 (see here for details); and whether a bill an agency advocated for via SAPs (statements of administrative policy) is successfully passed in paper 3.

**The equivalent CRS report for the Senate no longer works, which is..concerning for me professionally.  I'm glad I have the data on an excel file, but that's quite weird.  If that paper ever does get out of R&R and published, I'm probably gonna have to inquire with CRS.  Also, I have a graph that really hammers home the drop in average standing committee staff upon the 94 takeover, but I can't figure out how to link or copy and paste it here, sorry.

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Interesting read (Salon, I don't think limited clicks)--it's an interview with academic Harvey Kaye who says that Democrats must embrace their progressive side (this election) or the country is fucked. I tend to agree. I found this point particularly compelling (in response to the people who say we have to vote for someone who can "win" or is "electable"):

"All I can do is talk about history. I would tell such people the following: Look, we're in the midst of a crisis here in America. It has been 45 years of the Democrats running from the FDR tradition and the Greatest Generation's legacy, and what have we seen? Their achievements are under siege. You folks on the coasts are so keen on a centrist figure because it means you're not going to lose any of the status and income and wealth that you have. The time now is to speak to the nation as a whole — and out here, in Michigan, Wisconsin and elsewhere, the kinds of things we need are serious, progressive and radical action. Joe Biden represents a dead end politically. The more Bernie can speak to what it means to be an American, I think the better off we're all going to be."

As I said a thread or two ago, when I hear someone say now isn't the time for someone non-moderate, I think you don't understand how many Americans are out of time already.

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3 hours ago, Simon Steele said:

snip

This is the question, isn't it?  Many of the pieces I've been linking have touched on this question one way or the other.  I'm agonizing because I just don't think it's clear what the right move is, and I sort of question whether anyone really does.  

Even if one were to break it down to something like "run a moderate vs. run a progressive" I still think that it could still also come down to which progressive and which moderate and even then those choices could play out differently at this time against Trump than against another candidate in another time.  

I am more open to going with Sanders as the choice than I've ever been at this moment, and recent polling suggests that a Sanders v. Biden drawn-out primary is quite possible.  I know that Bernie ought to smoke Biden in terms of youth vote and general energy.  But then I see in our dear threads here how there's a solid subset of consistent Dem voters who really don't like the guy.  And then I still have a lot of anxiety about running on M4A even though I think it could be a great policy if enacted.  It's that whole paradox where tons of folks who can see problems galore with the health system write large are kind of OK with their own situation with private, employer-provided insurance.  I worry that even a lot of Dem voters will have serious anxiety about M4A.  Loss aversion.  

 

Switching gears to impeachment I saw a Frank Rich piece at NYmag that gave me some hope that some GOP Senators will really regret this stance down the road as way more dirt will come out, and this vote will look worse as times goes on.  A few Senator names he threw out as having vulnerable seats if this goes in that direction were Joni Earnst of Iowa, Tom Tillis of North Carolina, and Jon Cornyn of Texas.  

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God. The Trump admin is psychotic on healthcare policy. This is their response to Trump's tanking numbers on healthcare? They appear to want to lose the election if it will allow them to harm a few sick people somewhere, even if they only get to do it a few months. Possibly Trump personally hates sick people.

I think it more likely this is just yet more of his poor management. It's kind of like how the government went hard after vaping for no apparent reason. Some rich donor or government official had some kind of crusade against vaping. And because Trump is asleep at the switch, this led to a massive crack-down on vaping, before the government backed off due to the politics.

Trump administration finalizing Medicaid block grant plan targeting Obamacare
The plan is guaranteed to enrage critics and invite attacks from Democrats in an election year.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/23/trump-targeting-obamacare-102887

Quote

 

The Trump administration is finalizing a plan to let states convert a chunk of Medicaid funding to block grants, even as officials remain divided over how to sell the controversial change to the safety net health program.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma plans to issue a letter soon explaining how states could seek waivers to receive defined payments for adults covered by Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, according to seven people with knowledge of the closely guarded effort. An announcement is tentatively slated for the end of next week, more than one year after Verma and her team began developing the plan.

 

 

 

Edited by Martell Spy

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It appears that Senators from both parties are finding the proceedings less than riveting:

 

Quote

US senators have been accused of falling asleep, playing games and breaking other rules during President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Jim Risch and Jim Inhofe are among members who have apparently nodded off during the lengthy hearings.

Crossword puzzles, fidget spinners and at least one paper airplane have been spotted with senators.

...

The upper chamber of US Congress prides itself as a hallowed sanctum of decorum.

But some of its members - Republican and Democrat alike - have this week been accused by US media of acting like bored schoolchildren.

...

Mr Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, was spotted on Wednesday by an NBC reporter appearing to briefly doze off before he was nudged by Senator Todd Young, an Indiana Republican who sits next to him.

Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, was observed leaning on his right arm with his hand covering his eyes for 20 minutes.

On Thursday, Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, handed out fidget spinners, a children's toy, to fellow senators to help them while away the hours in the chamber.

...

Pat Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, was heard drawling "my precious" as he retrieved his phone from the cubby outside the chamber.

Some senators have apparently found a way around the strict rules by wearing smart watches.

Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, reportedly worked on a crossword puzzle and made a paper airplane as Democratic prosecutors laid out their case on Wednesday.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic front-runner for the 2020 White House nomination, was spotted by an ABC News reporter playing an unspecified game on paper.

It's pretty amusing to see what people will do if you take away their electronic devices and force them to sit through something lengthy, boring and pointless. The paper airplane is rather impressive though; one would not expect that from a Senator.

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11 minutes ago, Altherion said:

It appears that Senators from both parties are finding the proceedings less than riveting:

 

It's pretty amusing to see what people will do if you take away their electronic devices and force them to sit through something lengthy, boring and pointless. The paper airplane is rather impressive though; one would not expect that from a Senator.

When I see this all that my ape brain sees is "I Altherion think this impeachment is a witch hunt by the Dems and hope I'll influence a few others while pretending to just find it interesting that Senators on both sides of the aisle are made tired by inherently tiring proceedings."   Maybe I'm overthinking it though.  

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11 minutes ago, Triskele said:

When I see this all that my ape brain sees is "I Altherion think this impeachment is a witch hunt by the Dems and hope I'll influence a few others while pretending to just find it interesting that Senators on both sides of the aisle are made tired by inherently tiring proceedings."   Maybe I'm overthinking it though.  

He went a whole post without mentioning the ‘elites’, thank god for small mercies. 

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1 minute ago, Triskele said:

When I see this all that my ape brain sees is "I Altherion think this impeachment is a witch hunt by the Dems and hope I'll influence a few others while pretending to just find it interesting that Senators on both sides of the aisle are made tired by inherently tiring proceedings."   Maybe I'm overthinking it though.  

You are overthinking it. Who is there in this thread who would be thus influenced? I merely started reading DMC's post about bureaucracy influencing policymaking and thought that this thread needs something lighthearted.

Incidentally, I don't think of it as a witch hunt, I think of it as a spectacle.

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Just now, Altherion said:

You are overthinking it. Who is there in this thread who would be thus influenced? I merely started reading DMC's post about bureaucracy influencing policymaking and thought that this thread needs something lighthearted.

Incidentally, I don't think of it as a witch hunt, I think of it as a spectacle.

Well, but also on that note, who in this thread would give a shit that tired Senators are tired?  

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9 hours ago, DMC said:

While it's fun to throw out all the retrospective possibilities on how the GOP would've impeached Obama, the fact they couldn't find anything that even they would think would be politically palatable as a basis for impeachment is quite the testament to the competence and "cleanliness" (I can't think of a good term right now for "avoidance of scandals") of his administration.

That or the thumb of the media on the scale.  Sending pallets of cash to Iran isn't regular business nor is sending guns to Mexican drug lords.  Siccing IRS on political opponents might be standard for Dems but the media wouldn't have let Reagan or Bush or Bush get away with it.  

Or telling the Russians you ll scratch there back after the election...far bigger quid pro quo but the media is largely Democrat auxiliaries.

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