14 votes

Weekly US politics news and updates thread - week of February 8

This thread is posted weekly - please try to post all relevant US political content in here, such as news, updates, opinion articles, etc. Extremely significant events may warrant a separate topic, but almost all should be posted in here.

This is an inherently political thread; please try to avoid antagonistic arguments and bickering matches. Comment threads that devolve into unproductive arguments may be removed so that the overall topic is able to continue.

35 comments

  1. [16]
    nukeman
    Link
    Trump has been acquitted. Seven Republicans joined the Democrats: Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah,...

    Trump has been acquitted.

    Seven Republicans joined the Democrats: Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

    16 votes
    1. [14]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      That's more than I'd thought. Unfortunately, the GOP base has spoken: there will be swift retribution for any GOP elected official who "betrays" Trump. Maybe there'd be a chance if it was a secret...

      That's more than I'd thought. Unfortunately, the GOP base has spoken: there will be swift retribution for any GOP elected official who "betrays" Trump. Maybe there'd be a chance if it was a secret ballot.

      Out of those who voted for conviction, it was so-called "moderate" block, who enjoy strong independent support in their states, plus likely retiring senators. Sasse is the notable exception; good for him, I suppose. Then again, he is in office until 26, so there's plenty of time for this to be forgotten.

      12 votes
      1. [12]
        Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        I would be inclined to support this in cases of impeachment. It's a weird system. In a normal jury trial, the concept of having all the jurors decision's heavily influenced by how they think the...

        Maybe there'd be a chance if it was a secret ballot.

        I would be inclined to support this in cases of impeachment.

        It's a weird system. In a normal jury trial, the concept of having all the jurors decision's heavily influenced by how they think the public opinion of them will change based on their vote would be absurd. At the same time, there does need to be accountability for public officials and yet there are some circumstances where they need to be able to make decisions that they believe are right without facing a PR nightmare.

        6 votes
        1. [11]
          knocklessmonster
          Link Parent
          Isn't this a requirement for representative democracy? They're supposed to represent the opinion of their constituents, and of course going against that would harm their chances for re-election. I...

          the concept of having all the jurors decision's heavily influenced by how they think the public opinion of them will change based on their vote would be absurd.

          Isn't this a requirement for representative democracy? They're supposed to represent the opinion of their constituents, and of course going against that would harm their chances for re-election.

          I don't disagree with doing it in special cases, maybe like this situation where some GOP senators have mentioned concerns about their safety influencing their vote, but generally transparency is the best rule here, I'd say. The bigger issue is basically a corrupt voting base.

          4 votes
          1. [4]
            stu2b50
            Link Parent
            Yeah, that makes this situation a bit weird. In a way, this is what is supposed to happen, I guess? Impeachment is inherently a political, not a judicial, process. Representatives bend to the will...

            Yeah, that makes this situation a bit weird. In a way, this is what is supposed to happen, I guess? Impeachment is inherently a political, not a judicial, process. Representatives bend to the will of their constituents. Unfortunately their constituents, uh, have some poor ideas, but what can you do, I suppose.

            3 votes
            1. [3]
              Omnicrola
              Link Parent
              I'm not convinced that that's the way it should work. I think that representatives should be elected and trusted to carry out legislation that is in the best interest of the people. And I think...

              Representatives bend to the will of their constituents.

              I'm not convinced that that's the way it should work. I think that representatives should be elected and trusted to carry out legislation that is in the best interest of the people. And I think that sometimes that should involve them doing something that isn't popular, but is what they believe is right. I realize that this is incredibly idealistic though.

              5 votes
              1. [2]
                RNG
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                I apologize for the wall of text, but I think it could be worth the read. Hopefully I can at least alter someone's perception of how representation in a liberal democracy works. TL;DR: There isn't...

                I apologize for the wall of text, but I think it could be worth the read. Hopefully I can at least alter someone's perception of how representation in a liberal democracy works.

                TL;DR: There isn't any doing what is "right" outside of doing what is "possible"

                It seems that the right way, the correct way to be a representative is to synthesize the varied interests of your constituents.

                This perfect synthesis doesn't happen, because it cannot happen. If you are a representative, you need to somehow communicate with your prospective constituency that you are a good option, which requires a large amount of capital. Those who have capital can get behind your campaign if you represent them or their industry favorably. Regardless of which party or ideology you espouse, meeting these interests will be how you fund your campaign. Most industries don't care which party you belong to, represent them favorably and you have their financial backing. After all, more than 90 percent of candidates who spend the most win [1].

                This is good for the young, idealistic representative. "There's a couple of folks who's toes I can't step on, but ultimately their backing will help me make the changes I like in the world." Problems arise, however. Some industries have antagonistic interests with each other; Comcast would benefit from losing net neutrality, but Netflix would suffer. Now you need to organize which benefactors you will side with. That oil company and the green energy start up have wildly different takes on pending environmental legislation.

                Our hypothetical idealist representative now is up for re-election. They realized that they've necessarily put themselves in a position where the money from Exxon and Comcast has decreased since last cycle, and that green start up just doesn't make the ends meet. Their challenger has seen their funds go up. The representative's carefully managed web of benefactors still secures their win.

                The topic of carbon taxes, net neutrality, or any other topic comes up again. Now, their position is more "nuanced," they aren't as aggressive on these issues because they are playing the long game. Don't rock the boat too much, and you likely can squeeze another win 3 years from now. Heck, back otherwise objectionable legislation that isn't too horrible on the conscience, win new benefactors, and you might even get to take on the oil company somewhat more aggressively next time. "It's not great, but better it be me in power in three years rather than the guy who is really schmoozing the oil company."

                Repeat X election cycles. There isn't any doing what is "right" outside of doing what is "possible," e.g. what comports with their benefactors' interests well enough that they can either continue their campaigns or won't be outspent by their competition.


                Are you skeptical? Is this too reductive? Consider that For House seats, more than 90 percent of candidates who spend the most win. There are edge cases that don't comport with this story; the billionaire who can just represent himself, the rare truly grassroots candidate. But these edge cases aren't where power is primarily concentrated in a liberal democracy.

                I have far more links and discussion on these sorts of critiques of liberal democracy if anyone is interested, like how the DCCC (the main funding arm of the DNC for house candidates) suppresses left-wing democrats, from trying to get them to drop out [2], putting up primarily challengers [3], or just withholding funding. If I can convince you to do anything, please watch the video on #2.

                [1] https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/money-and-elections-a-complicated-love-story/
                [2] https://theintercept.com/2018/04/26/steny-hoyer-audio-levi-tillemann/
                [3] https://theintercept.com/2018/01/23/dccc-democratic-primaries-congress-progressives/

                5 votes
                1. RNG
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  Off-topic side note: For the uninitiated, this can also be used as an oversimplified primer on some basic Marxist concepts, namely that those who own capital, as a class, are the class that holds...

                  Off-topic side note:

                  For the uninitiated, this can also be used as an oversimplified primer on some basic Marxist concepts, namely that those who own capital, as a class, are the class that holds actual political power. This is why the capitalist class is referred to as the ruling class within Marxist theory.

                  I think the second contention of Marxism, that the capitalist class (those who own businesses) and the working class (those who work for a wage at said businesses) have interests that are in tension is something worth exploring elsewhere.

                  I think an intellectually honest defense of capitalism and liberal democracy starts from a "all boats rise" or "best of all possible modes of production" argument, rather than seriously arguing that "the people" hold actual political power.

                  4 votes
          2. [4]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            It seems like there are alternatives? In a jury trial, the jurors are representative of the community without being accountable to it. (Not that jury trials always go the way you want.)

            It seems like there are alternatives? In a jury trial, the jurors are representative of the community without being accountable to it. (Not that jury trials always go the way you want.)

            2 votes
            1. [3]
              knocklessmonster
              Link Parent
              Sure, but I'm not elected to a juror, I'm chosen by the plaintiff's and defendant's lawyers in that case. I don't completely disagree with the notion of hiding votes like this if needed, like for...

              Sure, but I'm not elected to a juror, I'm chosen by the plaintiff's and defendant's lawyers in that case.

              I don't completely disagree with the notion of hiding votes like this if needed, like for safety (which is a variable in our current political climate, unfortunately), but not if it's just an issue of public opinion.

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                They're not hand-picked. It's a random draw, and then the lawyers get to filter it. I think there's something to be said for choosing representatives randomly. This is called sortition.

                They're not hand-picked. It's a random draw, and then the lawyers get to filter it.

                I think there's something to be said for choosing representatives randomly. This is called sortition.

                3 votes
                1. knocklessmonster
                  Link Parent
                  The court chooses randomly from a pool of valid jurors, but both lawyers still ask questions and eliminate others in the jury selection process. It's random up to that point, but they pick who...

                  The court chooses randomly from a pool of valid jurors, but both lawyers still ask questions and eliminate others in the jury selection process. It's random up to that point, but they pick who they want from who the court presents as options.

                  1 vote
          3. Thra11
            Link Parent
            You don't have to have a representative democracy. Historically, sortition has also been used to select political officials in democracies. It does have some advantages over election in cases like...

            Isn't this a requirement for representative democracy? They're supposed to represent the opinion of their constituents, and of course going against that would harm their chances for re-election.

            You don't have to have a representative democracy. Historically, sortition has also been used to select political officials in democracies. It does have some advantages over election in cases like this, in that their votes have zero effect on their chances for re-election.

            1 vote
          4. Rez
            Link Parent
            In the abstract that's true, but given the structure of the Senate, gerrymandered House districts and voter suppression efforts, Republican politicians increasingly represent only those who vote...

            Isn't this a requirement for representative democracy? They're supposed to represent the opinion of their constituents, and of course going against that would harm their chances for re-election.

            In the abstract that's true, but given the structure of the Senate, gerrymandered House districts and voter suppression efforts, Republican politicians increasingly represent only those who vote in Republican primaries. Not the general electorate. Most people wanted Trump convicted.

            1 vote
    2. Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      The outcome is simultaneously entirely unsurprising, and incredibly dissappointing.

      The outcome is simultaneously entirely unsurprising, and incredibly dissappointing.

      11 votes
  2. [4]
    Deimos
    Link
    Trump's 2nd impeachment trial recap, day 1 - After four hours of arguments by each side, the Senate affirmed by a vote of 56-44 that it is constitutional to try a former president. Highlights and...

    Trump's 2nd impeachment trial recap, day 1 - After four hours of arguments by each side, the Senate affirmed by a vote of 56-44 that it is constitutional to try a former president.

    Highlights and details available in the linked article.

    12 votes
    1. spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      Direct link to the 13 minute long video on C-SPAN's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivVOPWrFfW4

      Lead impeachment manager Raskin played a video montage of Trump speaking at the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally, followed by footage of the violent mobs ransacking the Capitol. Some of the rioters were heard chanting, ""We are listening to Trump, your boss!"

      Direct link to the 13 minute long video on C-SPAN's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivVOPWrFfW4

      9 votes
    2. [2]
      MonkeyPants
      Link Parent
      Trump lawyer offers bewildering defence statement

      Trump lawyer offers bewildering defence statement

      "Castor and Schoen must be the most incompetent legal representation of any modern president, incumbent or otherwise," tweeted Michael Beschloss, a historian of the presidency.

      Longtime Trump critic Susan Collins said she was left "perplexed" because Mr Castor "did not seem to make any arguments at all, which was an unusual approach to take".

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. MonkeyPants
          Link Parent
          https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-lawyers-dddccaa09cfaf5aded0baa963c1f6ce1 (And before you trot out the hung jury fear, realize that the most important function an attorney performs is jury...

          Trump fumed from his perch in Mar-a-Lago, and some in his circle said he should fire his lawyers. But he may not have many more options. And his legal peril is growing, most recently with a new criminal investigation into his election conduct in Georgia.

          Trump’s legal needs will likely accelerate, with the investigations in New York, Georgia and possibly Washington, D.C., where prosecutors will have the power of subpoena.

          https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-lawyers-dddccaa09cfaf5aded0baa963c1f6ce1

          (And before you trot out the hung jury fear, realize that the most important function an attorney performs is jury selection. )

          1 vote
  3. [3]
    Deimos
    Link
    Removed yet another instance of the "are all Republicans awful people?" argument, since I already know it was going to go on forever and absolutely nobody was going to change their opinion in the...

    Removed yet another instance of the "are all Republicans awful people?" argument, since I already know it was going to go on forever and absolutely nobody was going to change their opinion in the slightest.

    11 votes
  4. skybrian
    Link
    A majority of the people arrested for Capitol riot had a history of financial trouble

    A majority of the people arrested for Capitol riot had a history of financial trouble

    Nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records for 125 defendants with sufficient information to detail their financial histories.

    The group’s bankruptcy rate — 18 percent — was nearly twice as high as that of the American public, The Post found. A quarter of them had been sued for money owed to a creditor. And 1 in 5 of them faced losing their home at one point, according to court filings.

    9 votes
  5. [2]
    dubteedub
    Link
    To save America, destroy the Republican Party of Trump, insurrection and conspiracy nuts I think this entire article is important and we need to recognize that the Republican Party is a party of...

    Among all these massive tasks, there is only one that will make the others possible: We must destroy the Republican Party as we know it.

    The dog whistles and coded white nationalism Republicans have used to gain power intentionally divided this country for more than a half century. And when the right recognized that this approach wasn’t enough to win in an increasingly diverse country, it fixated on unnecessary voting restrictions and unconscionable gerrymandering. The caricature of democracy invited conspiratorial extremists into the party, and then into the White House and Congress.

    In the wake of the Capitol assault, some members of Congress are afraid that other members may try to kill them. And why wouldn’t they be? Adherents to QAnon conspiracies believe without any evidence or sense that their political opponents are cannibals and pedophiles. There are at least two Republican members of Congress who have expressed support for Q’s blood libel.

    You need to take on not only the conspiracy freaks but also “legitimate” Republicans who objected to confirming the election results and keep pushing the Big Lie that Trump’s 7-million vote loss wasn’t legitimate. And you can’t stop there. You have to defeat the likes of Rep. Bill Huizenga. He learned nothing from this debacle and has called for a further perversion of our democracy by gerrymandering Michigan’s electoral votes to minimize the power of the state’s Black voters.

    I think this entire article is important and we need to recognize that the Republican Party is a party of undemocratic reactionaries, conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, insurrectionists, and those that are willing to look the other way in order to maintain power.

    6 votes
  6. Omnicrola
    Link
    Senate Votes To Call Witnesses, Throwing Trump Impeachment Trial Into Uncertainty

    Senate Votes To Call Witnesses, Throwing Trump Impeachment Trial Into Uncertainty

    House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., wants to subpoena Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., about a conversation she had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
    ...
    But the adviser dismissed the Democrats' move, saying there's a risk that it will drag out the trial for weeks, all so that they can depose a witness whose contribution was already made public in a press release.

    Trump attorney Bruce Castor said his side would call "lots" of witnesses.

    6 votes
  7. [5]
    eledrave
    Link
    I think this impeachment trial is necessary but the conclusion is already known. I listened to the argument for whether it is constitutional or not and it seemed plain and obvious that it is...

    I think this impeachment trial is necessary but the conclusion is already known. I listened to the argument for whether it is constitutional or not and it seemed plain and obvious that it is constitutional. So much so, that the 56-44 vote is ridiculous.

    If the trial result is also 56-44, we will know that everyone has already made up their minds and it was mostly a waste of time. But I'm curious if anyone with a statistical background knows what the likelihood of change would be. I would hope that some are open-minded enough to change their mind based on the evidence? With one hundred people, is there some expectation that the final number would change? In a reasonable world, would we expect changes in either side to cancel each other out?

    5 votes
    1. spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      Making statistical predictions about the impeachment vote is more or less impossible, because of how small the sample sizes are. However, regardless of the final vote, I don't think it will have...

      Making statistical predictions about the impeachment vote is more or less impossible, because of how small the sample sizes are.

      However, regardless of the final vote, I don't think it will have been a waste of time. It's important for history to get all the facts about the insurrection into the public record. And it's important to require every sitting Senator to take a yes-or-no stance on Trump's involvement in the insurrection with a recorded vote.

      9 votes
    2. [3]
      nukeman
      Link Parent
      I wouldn’t call it an entirely forgone conclusion that Trump is acquitted. The two sides have yet to make their full case. Additionally, the Constitution does not require a two-thirds majority of...

      I wouldn’t call it an entirely forgone conclusion that Trump is acquitted. The two sides have yet to make their full case. Additionally, the Constitution does not require a two-thirds majority of all 100 Senators, only of those present. So it is entirely possible that a dozen or more Republicans walk out in protest just before the vote, enabling conviction. (The tin-foil side in me thinks Schumer has cut some sort of deal like this with McConnell.)

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        Really? I was unaware of that. I thought I read during the first impeachment about how all the Senators are required to be seated and not using their electronic devices for the duration, and could...

        the Constitution does not require a two-thirds majority of all 100 Senators, only of those present

        Really? I was unaware of that. I thought I read during the first impeachment about how all the Senators are required to be seated and not using their electronic devices for the duration, and could in theory be enforced by the Sgt-at-arms.

        4 votes
        1. nukeman
          Link Parent
          Article I, Section 3: “And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.“

          Article I, Section 3:

          “And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.“

          6 votes
  8. Removed by admin: 11 comments by 4 users
    Link