Al Merrick

18 Jul 19
Imagine, for a moment, what 2009 would have looked like if the Senate’s Democratic supermajority showed up for its first day of work and immediately nuked the filibuster. In such a world, the White House didn’t have to beg Republican senators for the votes it needed to enact President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. Though Democrats eventually achieved a 60-vote supermajority in the 111th Congress, it was only after Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter switched parties and after Minnesota Sen. Al Franken prevailed in a protracted electoral recount. The result was a watered-down bill short $110 billion in stimulus that three Republicans demanded as the price of their vote. Indeed, in the world without a filibuster, the White House also could have ignored conservative Senate Democrats whose desire to fix the economy was tempered by their fear of deficits. The result would have been a stronger economy in 2010 that could have mitigated Democratic losses in that year’s elections. In a world without the filibuster, conservative Senate Democrats also could have been sidelined during the Obamacare negotiations. The result likely would have been something more similar to the House health care bill, which included more generous subsidies, a larger Medicaid expansion, and a “public option” that would have allowed many Americans to opt into a publicly owned health insurer. In the world without a filibuster, Obama could have filled the federal courts with lions of the civil rights, criminal defense, poverty, and consumer protection bars. If the economy continued to struggle into 2010, Congress could have enacted a second stimulus bill and potentially saved the Democratic House majority. Buoyed by additional stimulus, the economy would have been stronger in 2016 — potentially strong enough to give the incumbent party just enough of a bounce to keep President Donald Trump out of the White House. But of course, the idea that Senate Democrats would have removed the biggest roadblock to democratic governance in 2009 is a fantasy. Less than four years before Obama took office, several Senate Democrats capitulated to the Bush White House’s demand to confirm three very conservative judges in order to prevent filibuster reform from happening in 2005. Around the same time, many liberal operatives launched misguided and, at times, ridiculous campaigns to save the filibuster — such as an ad campaign “in which an animated character, Phil A. Buster, asks viewers to help ‘save checks and balances.'” There simply wasn’t a meaningful call for filibuster reform within the Democratic Party in 2009, and there wouldn’t be one until Democrats spent more than a year discovering just how effectively the Republican minority could wield the filibuster to sabotage their agenda. Flash forward 10 years, and no one is creating animated mascots for Senate obstructionism. To the contrary, as Politico reports, a coalition of 15 left-of-center organizations launched a campaign to push senators to abolish the filibuster. The groups include old guard unions such as the American Federation of Teachers and juggernauts of the newest class of progressive groups, such as Indivisible. As one of their first initiatives, the coalition will “spend six figures on digital and print ads pushing [Sen. Michael] Bennet to support a bill making D.C. a state — and to do so with just 51 Senate votes, bypassing the filibuster.” This initial move appears to be a warning shot over the bow of other Democratic leaders tempted to oppose procedural reforms that would make the nation more democratic. Bennet, who supported the 2013 filibuster reforms allowing most presidential nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority, has since reversed his position on that vote. He also argued, implausibly, that if Democrats didn’t attempt to filibuster Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court — thus leading Senate Republicans to change the rules to allow Supreme Court justices to be confirmed by a simple majority — that Republicans would not have made this rules change during the fight to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The name of the coalition fighting for filibuster reform is “51 for 51,” a reference to the coalition’s twin goals. It seeks to admit the District of Columbia as the 51st state — and to allow the Senate to vote for D.C. statehood with a simple majority of 51 senators. Senate malapportionment is, if anything, an even greater threat to democracy than the filibuster. The bloc of senators who confirmed both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh represent less than half of the nation. Similarly, the bloc that prevented Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, from receiving a confirmation vote also represented less than half the country. And it’s going to get worse. By 2040, according to a University of Virginia analysis, about half of the country will live in just eight states — which means 16 senators for one half of America and 84 for the other half. Meanwhile, there is a strong correlation between population density and partisan voting, with less dense areas tending to favor Republicans. That means that Republicans may soon have a permanent supermajority in the Senate regardless of what the voters prefer. Admitting D.C. as a state will not solve this problem. The Senate is so fundamentally rigged in favor of less populous states that re-balancing it would likely require chopping up large states like California into many smaller states. But permitting the overwhelmingly Democratic voters of the District of Columbia to elect two senators would at least mitigate the unfair advantage Republicans now enjoy in the Senate. Ultimately, the most important lesson of Obama’s first two years in office is that good ideas, a popular president, and even a crushing electoral victory are not enough to ensure American self-governance. If the next Democratic president hopes to be more than a figurehead, they will need to think in terms of structural reforms that will restore some resemblance between the popular vote and the composition of the United States Senate. And they will become a failed president if a majority of Senate Democrats are not also committed to these reforms.
16 Jul 19
Dr. Eddy Bettermann MD

Source: Hemp Extract Benefits: Get Calm, Sleep Better, and More! by Dr. Edward Group   Suddenly, hemp is everywhere! Thousands of new hemp products have flooded the market seemingly overnight, and you might be wondering what the excitement is about. Hemp products offer an astonishing number of health benefits, from boosting your mood and calming stress to easing […]

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what is the best smartphone camera

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Research Methods

There are many definitions of a focus group in the literature, but features like organised discussion (Kitzinger 1994), collective activity (Powell et al 1996), social events (Goss & Leinbach 1996) and interaction (Kitzinger 1995) identify the contribution that focus groups make to social research. Here is the explanation of this method in a mind map […]

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Lowmiller Consulting Group Blog

People wait in line to enter the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans on Tuesday to hear arguments on whether Congress effectively invalidated the Affordable Care Act when it zeroed out the tax imposed on those who choose not to buy insurance. (Gerald Herbert/AP) With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro […]

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The Canadian press – 8 July 2019 / 11:16 | History: 260684 Photo: The Canadian Press Hundreds of Swoop passengers are climbing after the ultra-low-cost airline has canceled or delayed 23 flights in the last four days. Swoop says that the wave of cancellations, which hit the flights between 5 July and 10 July, was […]

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Feminist Fact Sheets

A collection of information to support an understanding of and opposition to the oppression of females by males.  Topic: Violence Against Women & Children/Male Violence “Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their […]

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By Ralph Apples If Joe Biden’s brain was a coat, the threads would be loosening and the sleeves tearing away from the shoulders. The vest pocket, stuffed full of old notes of political battles long since relegated to the ancient history of a dying Republic, should be screaming, “Retire, Joe!” His recent remarks about working […]

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The sheer volume of films on Netflix — and the site’s less than ideal interface — can make finding a genuinely great movie there a difficult task. To help, we’ve plucked out the 50 best films currently streaming on the service in the United States, updated regularly as titles come and go. And as a […]

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Creative Arts in Public & Private Schools (CAPS)

Thank you to our school & community partners, PTA’s, teaching artists, and funders whose generosity helped CAPS reach over 27,480 students, facilitate 339 programs (including artist residencies, workshops, master-classes and performances) in 90 schools & community spaces throughout Durham, Chapel-Hill, Granville and Orange counties. What’s below ~ Highlights in pictures CAPS FY19 sponsors Schools & Community […]

28 Jun 19
The official Washington D.C. news site -

Politics & Government Joe Biden gets defensive during debate over his work with Mitch McConnell By Lesley Clark June 27, 2019 08:15 PM ORDER REPRINT → Ryan: To beat McConnell “this better be a working-class party” During the first debate in the Democratic primary on June 26, 2019, Tim Ryan said, “We have a perception […]