Commentary: 100 Days of Trump: How Mark Twain Correctly Pegged the Democrats in Congress

by Jeffrey A. Rendall
March 22, 2017

At the same time the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch was going before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, the real main “front” of the legislative “war” was still a few blocks away on the House side – and I’m not talking about the testimony of FBI Director James Comey.

With a vote coming up soon on the contentious Ryancare bill there was quite a lot of focus and vote counting going on between the president, congressional leaders and the conservatives who still aren’t satisfied with the Mark Twainproduct the establishment is offering.

Rachel Bade, Josh Dawsey and Burgess Everett of Politico report, “Multiple administration and Hill sources close with GOP leadership now expect a couple smaller tweaks to the legislation this week before the vote. But by-and-large they feel talks with the far-right are just about done, and that they can’t give conservatives everything they want.

“That marks a major shift in the White House’s recent posture — news that will come as music to House GOP leaders’ ears. The White House last Monday instructed Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to make a number of smaller concessions to conservatives, including allowing optional work requirements for Medicaid.”

The Politico article further indicated that Trump’s people expressed confidence they’d have the numbers to pass the bill by Thursday (the scheduled day of the vote).

It’s important to remember even if the Republican House passes the bill with a straight party-line vote (with a number of conservative dissenters), it doesn’t guarantee the Senate will follow suit. The House has its Freedom Caucus; but the Senate has its own conservative line of defense, namely in the persons of Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz.

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has also been a frequent and boisterous critic of the Ryancare bill, so by no means is passage assured on the Senate side. There are likely more conservative senators with their own concerns as well, though we won’t likely discover their identities until the bill passes the House and moves over to the Senate where the real fight will commence.

Cruz and Lee went down to Florida last weekend to fight for the conservative group.

Ian Kullgren of Politico reports, “The Texas Republican said on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ that he went to the Florida estate with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) to talk with ‘the president’s team.’

“’I have got to tell you, I am spending night and day meeting with House members, meeting with senators, meeting with the administration,’ Cruz said. ‘Just yesterday, I spent three hours at Mar-a-Lago with … Mike Lee and Mark Meadows negotiating with the president’s team, trying to fix this bill.’

“Cruz didn’t say what specifically he talked about with Trump’s staff, other than that they discussed ways to lower costs for consumers.”

According to the Politico report above, Cruz’s appeals didn’t get far. Trump is apparently moving to get enough votes to pass the Ryancare bill with only slight modifications due to fears of losing too many “moderates” if the conservative reforms are included.

All of this disagreement and worry over whether “moderate” Republicans will support the bill flies in the face of leadership’s and the administration’s claims that they’re only trying to tailor the bill so it can pass both houses of Congress.

At least from what I can tell, the only intense “pass or else” lobbying effort that’s been mounted thus far was in the direction of the most limited government principled conservatives. Therefore, it only makes sense the bill must contain all the big government goodies the “moderates” love along with retaining a healthy dose of government interference in the market that is the root of the problem in the first place.

It will be argued the president himself cannot be blamed in this particular instance because he’s never been counted with the conservative faction on the healthcare issue. All in all, Trump has been fairly consistent in his approach to the subject. One, he’s said Obamacare needs to be repealed. Two, coverage must be universal; and three, that he wants more free market principles incorporated into the health system once the first two are achieved.

Trump hasn’t called it “single payer” recently but it almost seems like he’s very much in favor of keeping government heavily involved in the system.

The question for conservatives is if they go along with the intense strong-arming of administration officials and the party leadership on healthcare, will they get more concessions in the future by having a bigger say in the bills introduced on the subject?

I wouldn’t wager money on it. Heck, I wouldn’t take a gentleman’s bet either.

Conservatives don’t need to give in if they can stay united. The Freedom Caucus’s power stems from sticking together, which essentially gives them veto power over any legislation the leadership introduces (unless the establishment starts going vote begging to Nancy Pelosi, a bad strategy under any circumstances). This concept was never truer than for the current GOP intra-party differences on healthcare.

Or, it could very well be this is the best “deal” Trump is willing to make and conservatives must now choose whether to accept it or face the consequences — whatever they may be.

The only other alternative is to allow the bill to die and let nature take its course with the implosion of Obamacare. Then it becomes a finger pointing contest between the two parties that will look kind of like this:

Republicans to Democrats: “You passed Obamacare without us; we told you it would fail and you did it anyway. And you had years to come up with reasonable fixes. Instead, you just delayed the pain for the public and Obama passed a lot of regulations. You own it.”

Democrats to Republicans: “You saps have been vowing for years to repeal the ACA if you controlled Congress and the White House – we’re not going to help you. Unlike us, you can’t even get your own people to pass a law, procedure and ethics be damned. We admitted all along Obamacare wasn’t perfect and needed tweaking, but didn’t want your solutions that would throw millions out in the cold, starve orphans and undocumented workers and push granny off a cliff. You own it.”

The American voters will be the ultimate arbiters of who is right. As I’ve said a lot recently, there’s a political lifetime to go before the 2018 elections. But if the Republican leadership doesn’t start showing a genuine interest in listening to the concerns of the grassroots, it will be 2006 all over again.

President Trump is a smart politician; he knows where his political bread is buttered. Hopefully he’ll soon start making the right choices himself.

Democrats obsess – again — on Russia during Comey testimony before the House

With the Democrats clearly losing the public relations battle over the confirmation hearings of the impossible-not-to-like Judge Neil Gorsuch, they were looking for something – anything – to steer the conversation back towards a topic they prefer to dwell on.

FBI Director James Comey provided it to them yesterday.

Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner reports, “The FBI is investigating whether President Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Russians against the Democratic party during the 2016 election, the FBI director confirmed on Monday.

“’The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating Russian efforts and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts,’ FBI Director James Comey told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.”

Comey also said he had no evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claim a few weeks back that Obama “wiretapped” his phones. Upon stringent questioning from Republicans the top FBI man also expressed concerns about the leaks coming from within his community, admitting that several top level Obama people would have had access to the information.

From the portion of his testimony I saw, Comey looked mostly bored and noncommittal as the Democrats poked, probed and pontificated in trying to get him to acknowledge the FBI is looking specifically into informal Trump advisers Roger Stone, Carter Page and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

During the hours of testimony there were quite a few Democrat questions on the Russian invasion of Crimea and Ukraine. I’m not quite sure how they claim the Trump campaign is connected to the Russian military action there but hey, if you’re a Democrat and you have x number of minutes to fill, why not ask about the size and brand of Vladimir Putin’s undershirts?

After the testimony pundits took turns expressing astonishment at Comey’s admission that there’s an active investigation into some people connected with the Trump campaign, saying it was a potential “bombshell” that could blow up on the administration if…the allegations were true.

How so? Comey already said the Russians actively tried to influence the election in Trump’s favor yet also emphasized the voting itself was in no way compromised. He also predicted the Russians would continue with their activities in the future – just as they have in the past. The only difference in 2016 was the Russians were “loud” (Comey’s word) about their hacking efforts, almost like they wanted to be discovered.

Where’s the issue here? While it’s accurate the Russians supposedly hacked and released true information about the inner workings of the corrupt Democrat party and its nominating system, there still isn’t any connection to the general election. What’s there to see?

And if the investigation has been going on since last July – and hence covered at least three and a half months of the fall campaign – doesn’t that mean the United States intelligence agencies were collecting indirect and direct information on Trump during the campaign? The Justice Department ordered a criminal investigation into Trump? Who did it? Who leaked it?

This is yet another case of selective outrage, a perpetual Democrat contest to see who can act the most shocked over the spying activity of foreign rivals all the while completely ignoring the fact that Obama officials were watching the Russians – and Trump — at the same time.

As usual the media will pick out the parts of Comey’s transcript that suits them…and more than anything, it looks like they’ll have something juicy to report on for the indefinite future.

The real question is whether the public will care or even pay attention. I’m guessing only a little less than half will at all.

Democrats give truth to Mark Twain saying about idiots and Congress

As the confirmation hearing of Judge Neil Gorsuch began on Monday, I was struck by the truth of an old Mark Twain saying:

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.”

The saying certainly describes the Democrat senators on the Judiciary Committee who used their opening statements to drone on and on about how bad Trump is and how damaging Gorsuch would prove to be to the country if he joined the Supreme Court.

The long-dead Twain (Samuel Clemens) couldn’t possibly have anticipated just how stupid Congress has become in some respects, but it sounds like he had a pretty good grasp on the institution back in his day.

As for 2017, Democrats couldn’t let the past alone, especially in relation to the current vacancy on the Court.

Ariane de Vogue and Ashley Killough of CNN report, “Monday was the first day of four hearings on Gorsuch a federal appeals court judge from Colorado, likely to carry on the conservative legacy of the late Justice Antonin Scalia and be an early legacy-establishing win for President Donald Trump.

“It was also a setting for Democrats to revisit their feelings about the snub last year of President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.”

Like with just about everything else they do, the Democrats’ endless grousing over the ignored nomination of Judge Garland is ridiculous. The fact is no Supreme Court vacancy that arose during the last year of a presidency has been filled since the first half of the 20th century.

Mitch McConnell was entirely justified in waiting for the voters to decide. And decide they did. But facts aren’t stopping Democrats from whining about it.

Again, the CNN reporters wrote, “Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said the actions blocking Garland and subsequent Gorsuch nomination ‘is part of a Republican strategy to capture our judicial branch of government. That is why the Senate Republicans kept the Supreme Court seat vacant for more than a year and why they left 30 judicial nominees who had received bipartisan approval of this committee to die on the Senate calendar as President Obama left office.’”

Seeing the Democrats complain about the treatment of judicial nominations is nothing short of nauseating considering they’re the ones who set precedent by bringing endless delay tactics to a process that used to be fairly streamlined and bipartisan.

But what’s good for Democrats isn’t necessarily good for others. They’re elitists. They know best, right? When you add the Russia obsession demonstrated by the House Democrats during Comey’s testimony, you’ve got a solid collection of real honest-to-goodness idiots all throughout Congress.

For his part Gorsuch gave a very inspiring and emotional opening statement. The senators’ questioning begins today. I’m not hopeful the “idiots” will do any better for themselves.

Reprinted with permission from

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