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Republican Infighting Is Getting More Noticeable

Because the Democrats have the trifecta in Washington, their dysfunction tends to get most of the attention. However, 10 months away from an election that is expected to go very well for them, quite a few chinks in the Republican armor are showing themselves. Several noticeable rivalries are on display for all to see; to wit:

Obviously, all of this internecine squabbling is not the greatest thing for a minority party who is hoping to gain ground in a midterm election. And the scary thing is that if the Republicans get some actual power—like, say, control of the House—the squabbling is all but certain to get worse. (Z)

Letitia James Wants to Chat with the Trump Kids

Well, that didn't take long. Just back from the holiday break, and with a brand-new partner in Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg, New York AG Letitia James announced subpoenas of Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump as part of the ongoing probe into the finances of the Trump Organization.

James' office already interviewed Eric Trump back in October. The subpoenas for Ivanka and Donald Jr. were issued on the same day (Dec. 1) as the one issued to their father, but only the latter was public information before yesterday. It appears that the two kids are a part of Donald Sr.'s suit seeking to block the subpoenas, but since the suit had zero chance of succeeding, it's only a matter of time until all three of them get the pleasure of sitting down with James for an interview. And this news once again makes clear that whatever the New York AG is working on is far from over, as she inches her way up the Trump Organization ladder. (Z)

Schumer Preparing to Throw Down the Filibuster Gauntlet

Letitia James is not the only one to hit the ground running in 2022. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to all of his fellow senators, one that he also graciously posted to the Internet, so everyone could be in on the fun. The letter starts with some of the less-than-savory things that have been done by Republican officeholders in the last year or so, and then gets to the meat of the matter:

The Senate was designed to protect the political rights of the minority in the chamber, through the promise of debate and the opportunity to amend. But over the years, those rights have been warped and contorted to obstruct and embarrass the will of majority—something our Founders explicitly opposed. The Constitution specified what measures demanded a supermajority—including impeachment or the ratification of treaties. But they explicitly rejected supermajority requirements for legislation, having learned firsthand of such a requirement's defects under the Articles of Confederation. The weaponization of rules once meant to short-circuit obstruction have been hijacked to guarantee obstruction.

We must ask ourselves: if the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the State level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?

We must adapt. The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before. The Senate was designed to evolve and has evolved many times in our history. As former Senator Robert Byrd famously said, Senate Rules "must be changed to reflect changed circumstances." Put more plainly by Senator Byrd, "Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past."

The fight for the ballot is as old as the Republic. Over the coming weeks, the Senate will once again consider how to perfect this union and confront the historic challenges facing our democracy. We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections.

In short: (1) The Founders wouldn't have approved of the filibuster as it currently exists, (2) the Senate should not be less able to pass voting rights legislation than state legislatures and (3) something is going to have to change, and we're going to debate and vote on or before Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

Schumer is under no illusions that "our Republican colleagues [will] change course and work with us." But he does want to get them on the record as opposing voting rights. He also wants to turn the screws on Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Thus far, that pair has not had to choose between voting rights and preserving the filibuster. They say they support both, but they cannot have both, and so now they will have to pick which one is more important to them.

After releasing the letter, Schumer appeared on Joy Reid's program on MSNBC, and she asked him if he had any reason to believe that Manchin and Sinema were willing to budge on the filibuster. One one hand, he said that three members of his caucus are working hard on twisting their arms, and that those three members have gotten some hopeful signs, particularly from Manchin. On the other hand, the Majority Leader, channeling his inner Rick Perry, could not remember the name of one of the three arm-twisters. The exact quote:

We have a group of three senators who [are] constantly talking to them. Angus King, um, uh, Jon Tester, and um, uh, the senator, uh, from Virginia as well, saying to them "we were not for changing the rules but we've changed our mind. Too much is at stake."

The Virginia senator who has recently had a public "come to Jesus" moment on the filibuster is Tim Kaine (D-VA), so that is presumably the name Schumer was reaching for. Maybe it was just a senior moment, or maybe it's an indication that the arm-twisting efforts are nowhere near as substantial as Schumer implied. (Z)

Bobby Rush to Announce Retirement...

It may be a new year, but the trend of Democratic House retirements is not abating. The latest member to call it a career is Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), who will make a formal announcement today. Rush began his career as a public figure by founding the Illinois Black Panther Party, though he became a less radical and more mainstream civil rights activist before commencing a career in politics in 1992. He has scheduled his press conference today for the church in Illinois where the funeral of Emmett Till was held; this is to draw attention to Rush's Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which the Representative hopes to get passed into law before he departs Washington. Rush insisted that he's not retiring, he just wants to devote his full attention to his work as a minister.

There is not much risk that Rush's seat will change hands just because there won't be an incumbent on the ticket. Under the new Illinois maps his district, IL-01, is D+41. One wonders if the Republicans will even be able to find a candidate willing to be crushed. In any event, as we have pointed out many times, the Democratic exodus speaks to the lack of optimism that the caucus has when it comes to the upcoming midterm elections. (Z)

...And Devin Nunes Makes It Official

Don't have a cow when we tell you this, but Devin Nunes has followed through on his announced plans, and has resigned from Congress. He is going to go run Donald Trump's latest, the former president's attempt to start a social media platform. That means that Nunes will be able to reach every single person on that platform with a single keystroke or mouse click. In other words, you're never going to hear from him again.

While most states allow their governor to fill a vacant Senate seat, Art. I, Sec. 2 of the Constitution requires that a special election be held to fill a vacant seat in the House. The logic is that governors and senators represent the same electorate, while representatives do not. Under California law, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has up to 14 days to set the date of the special election now that the resignation is official. There is a fair bit of weediness, given that there are a couple of upcoming holidays, but the primary could be held anytime between March 8 and April 5 and the general election could be held anytime between May 10 and June 7. Presumably, Newsom will be a good soldier and keep the seat open as long as is possible, just as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) did with the still-open seat that was held by Alcee Hastings.

It will be interesting to see who decides to jump into the race to replace Nunes. The term is only going to last about 6 months, and the district, which is currently R+6, will be redrawn for the next election. That means that the candidate is either going to have to commit to a short political career, or else is going to have to run in two separate districts simultaneously (special election for one district and primary for another). And running in "the district that contains Fresno" both times is probably not a winner, since that district is going to go from R+6 to D+11. Like we said, it will be interesting. (Z)

Why Did Keisha Lance Bottoms Quit?

It is one of the minor mysteries of modern politics. A couple of years ago, Keisha Lance Bottoms was one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party after her response to the George Floyd protests made her a national figure. She was given serious consideration as a possible running mate for Joe Biden and, when that didn't come through, there was talk that a run for the U.S. Senate or the Georgia governor's mansion was in her future. It was also taken as a given that she'd run for reelection as mayor of Atlanta, and would win going away. However, after encouraging the reelection talk for a little while, Bottoms announced that she would stand down. And, as of yesterday, she is a private citizen once again.

What the heck happened? How did someone seen as potentially a better version of Beto O'Rourke—young, charismatic, able to unify the various factions of the Democratic Party—end up out of politics so rapidly? Zak Cheney-Rice, writing for New York magazine, was interested in the answer to that question. And the answer, in short, is "crime." Specifically, the increase in crime that happened in the last year or so, and which particularly affected big cities like Atlanta.

In some ways, Bottoms is the yin to New York City mayor Eric Adams' yang. That is to say, when crime gripped NYC, the former cop Adams was seen as "the solution." On the other hand, the then-in-power Bottoms was seen as "the problem." And so, her base of support crumbled, and her case for being a potential Democratic conquering hero basically collapsed. Add in the nastiness of life in the big chair these days—vicious attacks, all the time, particularly if one is a woman or is Black—and the fact that Bottoms' father passed away suddenly at around the same age Bottoms is now (early 50s), and she was ready to throw in the towel.

It is yet another reminder that things change quickly in the world of politics, and that today's rock star can easily end up on tomorrow's trash heap (ahem, Sarah Palin). As to Bottoms, she does not sound like someone who is eager to return to the fray ever again. And, of course, she left office on a down note. Given that the Democratic bench is pretty deep in Georgia, and that there are people in line ahead of Bottoms for just about any office she might pursue, there's an excellent chance that her new status as a private citizen will be permanent. (Z)

Looking Backward: How Did The Readers Do?, Part I: Donald Trump

It is now time to start considering the readers' predictions. Here are the previous predictions pieces:

We may adjust the scoring system, but for now we're sticking with up to 5 points for accuracy, and up to 5 more extra credit points for the boldness of predictions that proved accurate, for a potential total of 10 points. And now, the readers' 2021 predictions for Donald Trump:

We have that as 41 points of a possible 160, for a batting average of .256. Not bad! (Z)

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