Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Making Progress, Slowly


Too, also — per the Washington Post:

The House will vote next Tuesday on whether to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and former White House counsel Donald McGahn in contempt, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) announced.

“This Administration’s systematic refusal to provide Congress with answers and cooperate with Congressional subpoenas is the biggest cover-up in American history, and Congress has a responsibility to provide oversight on behalf of the American people,” Hoyer said in a statement Monday night.

The announcement comes amid rising frustration among Democrats at what they view as stonewalling by the White House. It also comes on the same day that Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said his panel will vote on whether to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to comply with a bipartisan subpoena for documents on a Trump administration plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census…

To the Repubs, Women Aren’t People

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The only tiny sliver of consolation is that the GOP may have ham-fisted themselves firmly into ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ territory. Dahlia Lithwick, at Slate“SCOTUS was all teed up to quietly gut America’s abortion rights. Then Alabama happened”:

There are easy and near invisible ways for the high court to end Roe. That has always been, and remains, the logical trajectory. As Mark Joseph Stern has shown, when Brett Kavanaugh came onto the court, with his dog whistles and signaling around reproductive rights, it became clear that he would guide the court to simply allow states to erect more and more barriers to abortion access (dolphin-skin window coverings on every clinic!). The five justices in the majority would do it all while finding ways to say that such regulations were not an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose. The courts and state legislatures could continue their lilting love songs to the need for the states to protect maternal health and to help confused mommies make good choices, and nobody need dirty their hands by acknowledging that the three decades’ worth of cumbersome clinic regulations and admitting privileges laws were just pretexts for closing clinics and ending abortion altogether.

But the state of Alabama runs now to the Supreme Court with its mask of tender solicitude for women and their health askew. The briefest look at the debate as Alabama on Tuesday passed the cruelest and most punitive abortion regulation in modern American history shows exactly how much concern they have for the health of pregnant women or the suffering of future children…

Why, then, do I feel sorry for John Roberts? Because what keeps the Supreme Court in business is often the polite subterfuge of complex legal doctrine. We don’t so much suppress minority votes as protect the dignity of the states. We don’t so much enable dark money to corrupt elections as invite free speech. And we don’t so much punish women for bearing children as celebrate God and babies. This is all the kind of democracy-suppressive language the justices can get behind. It’s why Americans don’t riot on the streets…

Just as President Obama’s election exacerbated, and exposed, the ugliest racist undercurrents of modern America, Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote in 2016 unleashed the never-very-hidden misogyny and sexual terrors of entirely too many of our fellow citizens. Sunlight is not the swiftest disinfectant, but we can’t cure the rot until we can see how deeply it’s embedded.
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Friday Morning Open Thread: Sometimes Small Things Are Big Enough

Teresa Vargas, in the Washington Post:

When I wrote about Alice’s Kids earlier this month, I did so with the hope of showing what child poverty in this nation looks like on a day-to-day level.

Many of the requests for short-term financial help that come into the Virginia nonprofit are for seemingly small items that make significant differences for children whose families can’t afford them. Among the things asked for are shoes that fit, instruments that soothe and new glasses for children who have relied on broken ones.

The organization has paid for band trips that wouldn’t have been attended otherwise, birthday parties that wouldn’t have been held and, in one case this month, funeral clothes for a teenager who unexpectedly lost her mother.

Most of that financial help, I noted in that column, benefited children in the D.C. region and some as far as California and Texas. But now, because of you, even more children, in states that previously had no connection to the organization, will find help.

After the column was published, so many of you contacted Alice’s Kids, offering donations, and in some cases your time, that the small nonprofit run out of an Alexandria home office is expanding its reach to other cities across the country and anticipates helping more children this year than it has ever had the capacity to do in its eight-year history…
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There was a lot of coverage of Pelosi’s comments on impeachment a few days ago, and if you read the quotes by Nadler and Schiff in this piece, they sure aren’t ruling it out. I’ve not been too hot on impeachment either, since there’s almost no chance that the Senate would convict and, unlike Nixon, Trump has no shame, so he won’t resign. But impeachment is just one of the institutions that Democrats need to reclaim, slowly but surely. Here are some others:

  • A functioning appropriations process, where bills funding the different departments are generated by committee and work their way through Congress. The current habit of funding the government by hostage taking and continuing resolution does not move the country forward.
  • Meaningful Congressional oversight of departments like the FAA, who need to be called to answer for the 737 MAX debacle.
  • Reforming the elections process, and rooting out voter suppression.

This list could be endless, so you can add on in the comments. Republicans have plundered this country’s institutions, and when Democrats control Congress and the Presidency, we can’t go slow or shy away from moving from the current broken status quo back to working institutions. Impeaching Trump, with a transparent process detailing just what a crook he is, would go a long way to reclaiming impeachment after it was weakened by the Clinton blowup. Hearings on Trump’s many different criminal schemes that are held without grandstanding, using committee counsel and well-briefed members (think AOC with Cohen as a model), whether or not they lead to impeachment, will go some distance to reclaiming Congressional oversight after the Benghazi horseshit crusade.

This post is boring, and a lot of the solution is somewhat technical and also boring. So we can’t count on the press – certainly not the DC press – to have the slightest interest in it. It’s going to be a long, tedious slog to make things right, but our survival as a country depends on it.

Breaking: The US Is Withdrawing From Syria (According To Trump)

We (the royal we) are declaring victory.

[I use screenshots of Trump’s tweets for two reasons: not to give him the clicks, and sometimes he deletes them.]

This is something of a surprise to everyone, although he attempted it some months back, only to be stopped by those in the administration who want a war against Iran or maybe Russia.

I tend to agree with the folks who say it’s the right policy decision, but badly executed. Additionally, it may well be reversed when those desiring a war with Iran or Russia get into the Oval Office for a friendly chat. Developing.

Open thread.