Good Riddance, Filibuster … I’ll Miss You

Politicians volunteering to shut up? This can’t last.

Senate GOP leaders go “nuclear” to blow up that revered institution, the filibuster. A filibuster means if your political party doesn’t have the votes to get your way because the voters didn’t elect enough of you to justify it, you can just bypass majority rule and endlessly whine, bitch and moan until the majority party gives in like wimpy parents whose kids figure out that “no” actually means “OK, but don’t tell your father.”

I will miss Ted Cruz saying “green, eggs and ham” one million times to ban health care for the bottom 99 percent. Who can forget Strom Thurmond back in the 60’s reading phone books backwards to deport Rosa Parks.

This week Democrats just wanted to run their mouths without bathroom breaks for a losing cause, opposing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Democrats must get their loser fix regularly or the nation might just misplace them for good.

The filibuster might not be in the Constitution — don’t forget George Washington didn’t talk much, just raised an eyebrow now and then to signal his slaves to change shifts — but the talkathon’s venerable roots do go back to the Roman Senate. It was a last resort by the top 1% hoping to thwart Julius Caesars’s plans to spread wealth through land reforms.

Love it or hate it, depending on whether your party is in power, the filibuster seems about as healthy as tulips in Alaska (until the ice melts). It’s grip is eroding across the spectrum, not just for court nominations.

Just think Democrats, it’ll be a pisser for now, but get yourself some of those American voters the experts talk about and, armed with old-fashioned majority rule, you could one day make Republicans feel the fallout of this nuclear option.

[Cross-post via The Huffington Post, 4/5/2017]

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Trump Attacks Syria: Our Security Interest? On What Authority?

What is our national security interest in attacking Syria? On what authority was it done?

A dictator gassing children is a horrible thing, but launching a $100 million slew of missiles without congressional authority or any clear threat to our national security is certainly questionable.

If our policy is now to attack dictators who do bad things, without any finding of a threat to our nation, then we’re on a slippery slope.

Congress faces a choice whether to let yet another president degrade its constitutional war powers.

Trump tossing bombs at Syria is like throwing rocks in a hornets nest. Just makes them more dangerous.

This attack is being defended as a need to “do something.” That’s not a strategy, just a hissy fit.

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Our Town

By SJWNY, a Trail Mix Contributor

A few years back Mr. Crawford posted a painting & matched the various people in the scene to Trail Mix contributors. It was fun & pretty much dead-on.

For enlarged pic Click Here

In the same spirit, how do you “see” the various members who make up this blog?

To me everyone here is a supporting player: individual contributions add & enhance the overall effect. I’d much rather be a Mary Wickes or John Fiedler than a big name. More variety, more opportunities, more fun.

When I wake up or come home from work my routine is the same. First, check email; second, check Trail Mix. The former can be an annoying chore. The latter is always a joy.

Thank You to everyone here for creating, if not a perfect world, at least one that is based on information, intelligence & humanity.

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So, What’s Up Susan?

By Pogo, a Trail Mix Contributor

Over recent days we’ve seen reports Susan Rice repeatedly asked to unmask the identities of Trump transition members who were incidentally surveilled. Sources: Bloomberg, NYT, Fox, Wapo, The Atlantic.

From the Atlantic:

Ever since Devin Nunes’s mysterious announcement of supposed surveillance of Trump transition team members two weeks ago, the story has operated on two levels. The first is why Nunes behaved the way he did—with mysterious cloak-and-dagger maneuvers—and who he got his information from. It now appears that despite rushing to brief President Trump on his news, the GOP chairman of the House Intelligence Committee received his information from the White House in the first place.

The second, and more obscure, concerns the actual material that Nunes had. He was cagey about it, in part because it is apparently classified. He said that Trump transition team members were subject to “incidental collection,” which refers to U.S. persons being caught up in legal surveillance of foreign targets. There was no indication of illegality, but the names Americans who are incidentally collected are typically meant to be redacted, and Nunes said some names were possibly improperly revealed, or “unmasked,” by the Obama administration.

If that is true, who was behind the unmasking? Bloomberg View’s Eli Lake reports one answer Monday:

White House lawyers last month discovered that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Lake further reports that Rice’s pattern of requesting unmasking was discovered by Trump National Security Council staffer Ezra Cohen-Watnick, whom The New York Times reported last week was one of Nunes’s sources. Cohen-Watnick informed the White House Counsel’s office, Lake reports.

Rice has not commented on the report. It would likely be legal for Rice to request the unmasking — “The standard for senior officials to learn the names of U.S. persons incidentally collected is that it must have some foreign intelligence value, a standard that can apply to almost anything,” Lake notes.

As Lake notes, nothing he — or anyone else — has uncovered lends credence to President Trump’s outlandish and unsupported claim that Obama ordered surveillance of him at Trump Tower prior to the election. Nor does the new story suggest any illegal behavior on Rice’s part. As with each step in the story, this one offers only a small sliver of information. Many experts seem to think the Bloomberg View story does not imply anything improper or unusual. Others withheld judgment, saying there’s simply not enough information to judge.

The article goes on …

So what’s a poor Congress to do with this?  Rand Paul wants Susan Rice under oath about it before Congress.  My question is “Why?” Although the “revelation” is new, there is no indication anything Rice did was illegal, and I’ve seen nothing indicating it was outside normal channels.  Most importantly, it does nothing to back up Trump’s bogus claim about Obama surveilling Trump Tower.  The information should come out though – to determine if anyone on the Trump team was doing what Eric Prince (Betsy DeVos’ brother) was doing to open back channel communication with our enemies.  Now THAT would be worth investigating.

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