Forget the Presidential Race. This One is Way More Important

“We’ve already seen how he did, how he acted, the week after impeachment. Can you imagine this man after re-election?”
— Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor to Pres. Obama and author

Party affiliation of the Senate of the 111th Congress

If impeachment taught us one thing, it has to be the importance of flipping the Senate from Republican majority to Democratic majority. Had Democrats controlled the Senate during the trial, evidence would have been pursued, witnesses would have been both called and believed, and Donald Trump would have been held accountable for his naked power grabbing.

Likewise, even if Donald Trump wins in November, with a Democratically-controlled Senate joining the Democratically-controlled House, he will get nothing done. He will be rendered the ineffectual red-faced crybaby that he is if he has no enablers to make his dreams reality.

Not convinced that the Senate races are more important in 2020 than the presidential contest? The next president will almost certainly get to nominate two Supreme Court justices — but those people will have to be approved by the Senate. We’ve already seen who Republicans approve. Having two more justices like the first two will change life as Americans, particularly progressive Americans, know it. […]

Under Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republicans’ Obstruction of Presidential Nominees Has Been Unprecedented

Think Progress:

After five years of filibusters, obstruction, lengthy waits for confirmation and arguments over whether the party that failed to win either the White House or the Senate nonetheless has the power to hold top government jobs open for as long as Barack Obama is president, Senate Democrats finally decided that enough is enough. On Thursday, nearly every member of the Democratic caucus invoked a procedural maneuver that will allow the Senate to confirm several blocked nominees by a majority vote. The era of minority rule is over, at least where it comes to almost every confirmation.


Senate Adds Record Number of Women

Voters responded to the Republicans’ War on Women by sending more troops into the field. Women elected to the U.S. Senate yesterday include senators-elect Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; and Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska.

Sen.-elect Baldwin will be the first openly gay U.S. senator, and Sen.-elect Hirono will be the first Japanese native to serve in the upper body.

If we’ve got the count right, that means there will be 20 women in the Senate in 113th Congress. Technically, that still leaves a deficit of at least 31 women members in the world’s most exclusive club, but it is progress nonetheless.

Pennsylvania GOP Senate Candidate Equates Pregancy from Premarital Sex with Pregnancy from Rape

The Hill:

A second Republican Senate candidate has waded into rough waters while explaining his conservative stance on abortion.

Tom Smith, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), said Monday that he believes in outlawing abortion, with no exception for rape victims. He then appeared to compare pregnancies from rape to pregnancies that result from consensual sex between people who are not married.

Smith was asked to explain how he would tell a victim of rape to continue with her pregnancy.


The Line: October 27, 2011

  • photo-paul-ryan-150Jonathan Chait dissects Republican pols’ facility at papering over facts they find to be inconvenient. They all do it but Chait fricassees the GOP’s Big Thimker, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, whose big speech at the Heritage Foundation yesterday on income equality (or whatever) turned out to be nothing more than a retread of the same manure Ryan has been spreading for years.
  • In a piece titled “John Galt Clutches His Pearls,” Digby marvels at Ryan’s speech, too: “One of my favorite right wing quirks is their ability to shape-shift from Rambo to Aunt Pittypat in the blink of an eye.”
  • Elizabeth Warren did not take credit for #OccupyWallStreet, despite the right-wing propaganda ministry’s claims. Dave Weigel uses the right’s “dogpiling” on Warren as a case study in how they twist Democrats’ words to bolster their narrative that liberals are elitists, vain and out of touch. (Similarly, Al Gore never said he invented the Internet.)
  • photo-rick-perryIf your candidate’s fumbling, befuddled debate performances are killing his campaign, what do you do? If you’re Rick Perry’s campaign team, you quietly announce that the candidate won’t be participating in any more debates. Kevin Drum reacts: “So there you have it. Perry’s not hiding from anything. He’s just choosing to stay off national TV because it makes his dimness a little too painfully obvious to voters who are trying to choose a leader of the free world. Better to focus instead on what he’s best at: attack ads and laughably flimsy policy proposals.”
  • New polls out in the congressional districts find 12 seats that are ripe for Democratic pickups, including five in California: Dan Lungren (CA-7), Jeff Denham (CA-10), Elton Gallegly (CA-26), Mary Bono Mack (CA-36), Brian Bilbray (CA-52). Relatedly, the district of GOP House Rules Committee Chair David Dreier (CLOSET-1) was disappeared by California’s new nonpartisan redistricting committee. Democrats need to win 25 seats to win control of the House next year.
  • Via Pork News (seriously): The GOP’s drive to install racist Arizona-style “papers please” anti-immigrant laws in the Old Confederate states could result in losses in the tens of millions in agricultural production next year. Turns out, farmers can’t find “legal” Southerners who’ll take jobs doing back-breaking farm work in the fields.
  • For the tenth anniversary of the USA PATRIOT Act, I have a piece up at Gore Vidal Now tracking some of Vidal’s writing about the act, which he described as being “as despotic as anything Hitler came up with — even using much of the same language.”

Are Democrats Finally Getting Mad? Sen. Feinstein Unofficially Kicks off Reelection Bid with Attack on GOP-Tea Party

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein unofficially launched her third reelection bid at the state Democratic Party Convention in Sacramento on April 30 with a fiery (for her) speech attacking congressional Republicans. Here’s a transcript of an excerpt from the video, starting at about minute 02:20:


KY Sen: Democrat Jack Conway Trounced Tea Bagger Rand Paul in Debate on GOP-Fox Channel

You probably won’t be hearing about the Kentucky U.S. Senate debate on the GOP-Fox channel on Sunday. Fox certainly is not promoting it — for example, as of now, Monday morning at 6:15, there’s no link to the debate anywhere on the homepage of the Republican channel’s website. (By contrast, there is a link to a story about the California governor’s debate, but nothing about the Kentucky Senate debate that was held on their own network.)

Obviously, if their guy, the infamous tea bagger Rand Paul, had won the debate, it would be front and center on the Fox website. Conversely then, the absence of a link is a tacit admission of the obvious: The Democrat, Attorney General Jack Conway wiped the floor with Dr. Paul.

Conway displayed a command both of the facts and his positions, as well as an energy level that signaled that he had come there to win. Rand Paul came off as a laid-back sad stack — seriously, was he stoned? — who apparently believed that because he was playing on Fox, his home turf, all he had to do was phone it in — and, not to worry, if Conway walloped him, Fox would simply make the story disappear.



GOP Fails to Stop Obama’s Small-Business Credit-Relief Bill in Senate

Huffington Post:

In a win for President Barack Obama and his political allies, Senate Democrats on Tuesday won a crucial vote to clear the way for a bill to create a $30 billion government fund to help open up lending for credit-starved small businesses.

Democrats cracked a GOP filibuster of the bill with the help of two Republicans: Sens. George Voinovich of Ohio and George LeMieux of Florida.

The 61-37 tally sets the stage for a final vote later this week to return the measure to the House, which is likely to approve it for Obama’s signature.

The bill is probably the last piece of Democrats’ ambitious jobs agenda that would become law before midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats keep their majorities in the House and Senate…

The new fund would be available to community banks with less than $10 billion in assets to encourage lending to small businesses. The bill would combine the fund with about $12 billion in tax breaks aimed at both large and small businesses over the coming decade.

Democrats say banks should be able to use the lending fund to leverage up to $300 billion in loans, helping to loosen tight credit markets.

The bill is paid for by adding a new option that allows individuals to convert 401(k)s into Roth accounts in which taxes are paid up front and then the money is released tax-free upon retirement.

With New Senator, Unemployment Bill Should Pass on Tuesday

Almost Sen. Carte Goodwin
The Senate’s newest, and youngest, member is set to be sworn in Tuesday, just in time to vote “Yes” on a bill extending unemployment benefits. Carte Goodwin, 36, a lifelong Democrat and West Virginian, was selected by that state’s Gov. Joe Manchin to fill the spot left when the Senate’s oldest member, Robert Byrd, recently died.

Manchin plans to assume the seat himself in November, and appointed his former legal counsel as a place-holder until the voters can choose. Let’s hope Manchin has better luck with that than Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. When Crist picked his most trusted counsel, George LeMieux, to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Mel Martinez last year, LeMieux looked like a safe and loyal pick. But after Crist left the Republican party to run for the Senate with no party affiliation, LeMieux — seen by many as having further political ambitions — abandoned his former boss and friend and announced he was supporting Republican/Tea Party candidate Marco Rubio.

Goodwin, whose wife Rochelle is state director for West Virginia’s other senator, Jay Rockefeller, has also been described as a “rising star” in party circles. As Manchin’s general counsel, he helped craft new regulations in response to West Virginia coal mining disasters in 2006. At the same time, he opposes limiting carbon emissions in proposed cap and trade legislation, because he says it threatens old technology energy jobs.

For the present, his vote on the unemployment compensation extension will be party-line. With Goodwin, 59 Democrats are expected to vote in favor of the bill, with only Nebraska’s Ben Nelson opposing. All Republicans except possibly Maine’s Olympia Snow and Susan Collins, are expected to vote against it.