hardline political news and analysis

Month: September, 2015

The Tan Man Fades

Decades ago, a cartoon in the New Yorker portrayed two women waving goodbye  as a train pulled out of a small town station. One says to the other something like, “First the rain stopped, then the crops dried up, then the cow died, so John says, ‘Dammit, I’m going to run for Congress!’” That is sort of how John Boehner arrived in Washington: one of 12 kids in a Democratic family, sweeps out his dad’s bar, goes to a local Ohio university, goes into plastics (how perfect for a child of “The Graduate era”), gets aggravated by regulations and taxes and goes into politics to get government off his back and out of his pocket.

Boehner’s spent most of his adult life pursuing that elusive dream, rising to the top of the party whose single purpose, it generally seems, is to lower taxes on rich people, with a secondary goal of dismantling a century of bipartisan regulatory action. There is a certain consistency to Boehner: his anti-spending obsession extended to congressional sacred cows like farm subsidies. But despite his predictably conservative record – 100% from groups like the National Rifle Association and the Chamber of Commerce, zero from NARAL – Boehner never was a zealot. Sure, he cowered before the Tea Party, refusing to bring up the Senate’s immigration bill and withdrawing his own halfway reasonable compromise after his party’s nativist wing attacked him; yes, he let the No Caucus shut down the government to demonstrate it was not the elixir that would make all their loony dreams come true, just like he let them vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act several dozen times, to no particular end.

Moreover, he rarely decided to stand up to his Republican House critics, recognizing that in doing so, he would jeopardize his tenuous hold on the speakership. In his resignation announcement, he pointed to slashing spending as the great achievement of 5 years in the Speaker’s chair; not much of a legacy. He could have achieved the elusive Grand Bargain (including major entitlement reform) back in 2011 when Obama, Reid and Pelosi were all set to sign off on one, but Boehner reneged when his Caucus balked at $800 billion in taxes.

Boehner came to Washington, it is my impression, not so much to promote the broad conservative social agenda as to fulfill the reliable, four word GOP message theme which has worked so effectively for close to 40 years: Less Government, Lower Taxes. And Republicans have largely won that debate among much of the electorate since the Reagan years.

It is amazing how the motive for his resignation has been misread by so much of the press. In account after account, analysts have asserted that he sacrificed his speakership so that a deal to keep the government open could be reached.

No, that is wrong. He isn’t stepping down to allow a bargain to be reached. He is stepping down precisely because he intends to cut a deal with Democrats to keep the government open while he is still Speaker, and then get out of Dodge before all hell breaks loose. He recognizes it would be infinitely more difficult for the coterie of inexperienced, dogmatic, backbench second raters he leaves in charge in his wake to cut a deal by October 1, so he will do it and leave them to figure out how to avoid calamity in three months when the CR expires.

Boehner’s departure and the coming conservative chaos is a blessing for congressional Democrats and Hillary Clinton on many levels. The three-ring circus that will have the untested Kevin McCarthy as ringleader should help Democrats in the House and Senate to make the case that one party in Washington is incapable of making government function, and it isn’t the Democrats. The Republicans might even get that shutdown they are praying mightily for. Democrats don’t have to do much to establish themselves as the “reasonable alternative” except behave halfway reasonably and plead for cooperation and reconciliation, even if they loathe the thought of working with the Republicans.

Hillary Clinton benefits as well because she can portray herself as the beacon of reasonableness in contrast to a Congress that is led (and could be again, we won’t know until after the election) by manifestly incompetent and uncooperative adolescents. Maturity will start to look like a highly desirable attribute. If the irascible Republicans are going to be in charge of Congress, many voters will rightly conclude we need a President who can counteract or balance them, not more of the same in the White House. That’s a tough case for the Republican presidential candidates to make; none of them want to look like they are chastising their own legislative allies, but it is a simple argument for Clinton. Separation of powers? Checks and balances? She’s the ticket.

The chances of Republicans self-correcting after exorcizing themselves of Boehner are slim to none. It is not my experience in politics that those who have just hung a trophy on the wall see any reason to alter their successful behavior. Quite the opposite. As with their general Orwellian view, the Tea Partiers believe “Failure = Success,” and if the resulting chaos alienates voters from politics, that suits them just fine. They believe they are reflecting the will of the American people, not confounding it.   “It was not an inside force that pushed the Speaker out,” said Boehner opponent Thomas Massie (R-KY), “the American people spoke.”

So I think back to that New Yorker cartoon and suspect that just as it described Boehner’s frustrated motivation for coming to Washington in 1990, it describes his exasperated departure as well. I can almost hear him saying, “First the Tea Party challenged my election as Speaker; then they shut down the government; then they blocked my Grand Bargain; then they forced me to plead with Democrats to pass all the essential bills. Dammit, I’m quitting Congress!” Who can blame him?

Thanks for all the comments on my op ed in the New York Times on September 26. JAL


Getting the Straight Story

If there is one lesson that is emerging already from Campaign 2016 it is the ability of the media – both traditional and social – to drive the discussion. A few incidents of this week bear a brief discussion in this regard.

Scott Walker, RIP: I had been predicting this exit virtually from the Wisconsin governor’s entry into the Republican race, so nothing could have been less surprising (well, given how the Republican race has been going, that may be an over-statement). Despite the media’s early focus on him as a strong contender, Walker was a supremely inept candidate, initially hoping to project a picture of Mid-West conservatism combined with the fortitude to stand up to the public unions and the radicals in Madison. For my tastes, he exuded “lightweight” from the get-go, as well as a thinness of accomplishment other than surviving in power. He could (and did) dress himself in leather and plop himself on a Harley, but he still looked and sounded like a one-trick pony.

His exit gives further weight to my observation that Trump’s continued presence is good news for the more “moderate” (I can barely type the word) of the GOP hopefuls: Bush (though he seems to be doing him damndest to drive down his own numbers), Rubio (another lightweight of no record, but with a more interesting story and more electoral appeal than Walker) and Kasich (preternaturally glum and dour, but with the most appealing story and the strongest claim to a place on the ticket). Trump is simply sucking all the oxygen out of the loony Right of the party, until he inevitably disintegrates and takes with him the nativist, racist, inexperienced, alarmist lot of them. Those left standing will be the establishment candidates.

Carly Fiorina: I watched part of the second debate, as long as I could, and was bemused by Fiorina’s transparent effort to defuse the accusation that she lacks the foreign policy/national defense chops to be President. Of course she does! She has no, as in, “zero,” experience, that would remotely suggest she should manage the nation’s security; not an hour in public service, never working on defense issues in Congress, never having published or developed any expertise of any type. Naturally, therefore, she has been merrily suggesting we throw troops and weapons into hot-spots all around the globe, a strategy that has not worked remarkably well for decades. What startled me during the debate was not her ability to regurgitate the numbers someone had worked up for her on the urgent need for “50 army brigades, 36 Marine battalions, 350 ships,” but the utter failure of either the moderator or any of the other Republicans (who apparently take unlimited military spending as an axiom) to ask her (a) what are you going to actually do with all those shiny weapons and crisp uniforms, and (b) how much is this all going to cost and where is the money coming from?” Certainly not from shutting down Planned Parenthood, her other laser-like focus.

Walter Pincus’s column in Tuesday’s Washington Post (“Fiorina’s Misleading Military Proposals”) did an excellent job of chastising Fiorina for her uninformed assertions. Her facts were wrong – the 6th fleet isn’t shrinking and doesn’t need growing; the Bush anti-ballistic missile system is being replaced with a newer and more reliable system; we have just completed joint maneuvers with the Ukranians rather than having abandoned them. And it is little wonder she avoided discussing that issue of cost: Pincus estimates at least $20 billion for the Fiorina wish list, most of which we already have or don’t need.

My point here is not to ding Fiorina on her charlatan-like efforts to appear to be well informed. She is not long for this campaign either. I won’t even criticize her for uttering inane, schoolyard taunts concerning Putin (“I wouldn’t talk to him at all. We’ve talked way too much to him”). If she isn’t careful, she is going to start competing with Trump for cringingly embarrassingly adolescent ravings (“We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning.”) My complaint here is that the press/media let Fiorina get away with nothing more than reciting some Heritage Foundation recommendations off a cheat sheet without asking any follow-up or challenging her presumed expertise. I blame the press for letting her get away with it so as not to taint her supposed rise to the first tier of GOP contenders.

A good example is a September 21 story by Jennifer Rubin in the Dallas Morning News. “She might not be experienced in government,” Rubin wrote, “but she is expert at dealing with the media, reeling off concrete foreign policy proposals, thinking on her feet and doing other tasks that for better or worse have become the skills candidates need to be elected.” With all due respect, “reeling off concrete foreign policy proposals” such as sending the 6th fleet where they already have been, is not a qualification to be president. Rubin goes on to lionize Fiorina for possessing “poise, intelligence, wit, confidence and tenacity,” which are nice in a president, as long as they have the substantive knowledge and practical political experience the job requires, and which Fiorina sorely lacks. Rubin, and others, of course are trying to make the parallel to President Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience before his election (hardly uncommon: note FDR, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush). No one disputes we elect people who aren’t yet qualified to pin on their fourth star; but that’s no basis for pretending someone is more qualified because he, or she, can reel off a few statistics and facts, most of which are false.

Hillary! What would a blog be without addressing Mrs. Clinton, whom for some reason I cannot comprehend, I find myself defending at every turn? Well, one reason is that she is so often the subject of unjustified criticism. Not that she doesn’t invite the reproaches, but on several central issues, they are simply wide of the mark. What is most aggravating to many is Clinton unwillingness or inability to defuse them; incoming attacks are nothing new to her, and should she be the nominee and elected, we will all be enduring unrelenting castigations every single day of her Administration and for decades thereafter. That’s just the way it is with Clinton, but she is right not to allow the mean-spirited attack dogs chase her out of the race.

Clinton’s alleged passion for obfuscation has been demonstrated on two key issues: Benghazi and her emails. Both lines of attack are misplaced.

Let’s be clear: there have been at least 4 congressional inquiries into Benghazi, all run by Republicans, and all concluding that Clinton did not do anything improper. This is not especially surprising since it was fairly clear at the time, to those who understood the extremely volatile situation in Libya and the marginal capabilities of U.S. ground and air forces, that the disastrous turn of events in Benghazi was not the result of any decisions or lapses of judgment by then-Secretary Clinton. It goes without saying the investigations will continue for a generation to come.

Then there is the email brouhaha. Here, too, the hysteria has far outstripped any fair reading of the facts. Clinton should have moved more aggressively to dispatch the conspiratorial allegations. She has lived with outsized speculation about her allegedly nefarious activities (e.g., murder, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, to name a few) for so long that her exasperation is understandable. We will be revisiting this debate ceaselessly over the next year and a half and there is likely no way to contain the damage now. However, I cannot help but muse that the hysteria that has flared over this story is precisely the kind of carnival feeding frenzy that likely led Clinton to decide to keep her emails as close to the vest as possible rather than on State Department servers where any of dozens of lower level Republican holdovers might selectively leak them to her disadvantage.

A long piece in Sunday’s Post by Elizabeth Goitein [“Five myths about classified information”] helps explain why determining what is and isn’t “classified” is a bit more complex than critics – like the Washington Post’s headline writers and reporters – might realize, and is certainly too lengthy for use in the campaign. Clinton, however unwisely (as she has acknowledged for months) used a private server like other Cabinet officials, turned materials over to the FBI and others to review, did not wipe clean the server, and (it appears) did not receive or transmit emails containing information “classified” at that time.

Little wonder even the most political junkies seem already exasperated by the campaign season.

The Speakership Circus

Time for a little “Congressional Jeopardy.” The answer is “Speaker Boehner.” What’s the question: well, could be, “Who is the Speaker of the House.” Or, if you believe the current rumors swirling around Capitol Hill, could soon be, “Who is the most recent former Speaker of the House?”

Do the rumors of a palace coup by disgruntled Republicans have real legs, or are they more in the “end-of-summer-let’s-make-up-some-hysterical-stories” tradition? Now that Hillary Clinton has said she is “sorry,” or that she’s sorry we are sorry, we sure need a new crisis.

Enter the “Dump Boehner” movement. The Republican Conference, which whipped itself into a frenetic whirl five summers ago with the phrase “Fire Pelosi,” now may be turning its heavy guns on another Speaker: its own. Just before leaving for the August break, North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows announced that he might just demand a vote on a motion to vacate the chair (i.e., to tell Boehner, as Donald Trump might tell someone on The Apprentice, “You’re fired!”). Rep. Dave Brat, who knows a thing or two about dumping Republican House leaders (he successfully primaried Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014) is skeptically watching his leadership’s handling of upcoming decisions on the continuing Resolution, Planned Parenthood, the debt ceiling and the Iran agreement, and he doesn’t sound inclined to sign up for membership in Boehnerland. “We’re fed up,” Brat bratily says. “It’s tsunami time. Throw everybody out.”

Really? Is Boehner so flawed, so inept, so disloyal that he should suffer a fate unlike that of any other modern Speaker: involuntarily tossed from the podium mid-term? To hear Boehner loyalists tell it, such an action would be wholly unjustified since, as Politico reported this week (evidently with a straight face), “Boehner insiders argue [this has been] one of the most productive sessions of Congress in a long time.” How long? Since 2011, when the Republicans took over, and since when they have done little but (a) vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act 55 times and (b) kept government open and not in default?

Actually, it is precisely those housekeeping measures that infuriate the 50-60 Tea Party zealots within the GOP conference who then intimidate a significant number of other Republicans who are not anxious to face multi-million dollar primary challenges. One is hard-pressed to find any vote of substance since the Republicans became the majority where Boehner (or Cantor, before his humiliating demise at the hands of Mr. Brat) could scare up the necessary 218 votes without begging Democrats to supply the needed votes, which enrages the Far Right.

That dissatisfaction led a record number of Republicans to oppose Boehner’s re-election as Speaker last January. Just two years earlier, he had barely cobbled together the needed number when Tea Partiers criticized him for his earlier collaboration with the hated Democrats. As that 2013 vote neared, I advised friends in the press that only 17 defections would doom Boehner’s campaign for a second term with the gavel. The reporters scoffed at my predictions, asserting Republicans would never vote for Nancy Pelosi (the Democratic nominee for Speaker), but as I pointed out, they didn’t have to vote for Pelosi, they just needed to withhold their support for Boehner, deny him a majority of those voting (the constitutional requirement), and there would be a second ballot that likely would not feature Boehner as the leading candidate.

Ted Cruz may have been the most public face of the GOP’s “shut-it-down” faction last year (an event which cratered the Republican brand, from which it has not recovered), but there are plenty of House Republicans who would view a government shut down as a welcome victory. A poor performance by Congress is nothing to be feared in the Tea Party playbook, because incompetence helps enhance a vision of Congress (and the federal government) as a failed institution. Very Orwellian: failure = success. Where’s the problem?

Boehner evidently doesn’t think there is one yet. The threat of the coming confrontation “does not make it more difficult,” he professes. “I’ve got widespread support in the Conference and I appreciate that.” Yes, but does he have 218 votes to pass key legislation, without again asking Nancy Pelosi for Democratic assistance? If not, seeking her assistance will add fuel to the simmering fire to take out Boehner before the end of the current Congress.

Democrats have some real opportunities in the likely confrontation, quite apart from whether they have a strong possibility of regaining the majority in 2016. Boehner’s need for Democratic votes empowers Pelosi and the Democrats. Add obnoxious riders to those bills (think a ban on funding Planned Parenthood), and forget about getting Democratic votes. The more Democrats in the House, the greater their leverage to keep appropriations and other urgent bills clean of the kinds of goofy riders Boehner would otherwise attach to satisfy his extreme faction.

Democrats can ramp up their demands. There has always been resentment that Republican leaders come to Democrats late in the process, after the CRs have been written with insufficient funding for Democratic priorities. Democrats have had to clench their teeth and vote for a lot of legislation they had no role in writing because they are unwilling to allow government to close down. As it becomes apparent that Boehner is stuck without a working majority, Democrats can increase their demands, if they are willing to stare down Boehner over a shutdown for which he would undoubtedly bear the blame. The Democratic leadership could make it clear to Boehner that the price for Democratic votes must include action on long-stalled legislation that enjoys widespread bipartisan public support including climate change and responsible gun measures.

It goes without saying that any capitulation by Boehner would make life with his “No Caucus” even more difficult. Well, that’s why the Speaker gets the big office and the larger salary. And yes, it may mean that come January, 2017, the votes may not be there for Speaker Boehner, but the way things seem to be trending, that might happen anyway, and sooner. Boehner needs to put the functioning of Congress ahead of his own status as Speaker of a demoralized and derelict institution.

Lastly, what would happen if a challenge to Boehner materialized in the next month or so? He might need Democratic votes to retain the speakership of a Republican Congress (the vote would not be Boehner versus Pelosi, as at the beginning of the Congress, but whether to vacate the chair). Would Democrats vote to keep Boehner in place, knowing of the torrent of abuse he will receive from his nihilist faction? Would they let him lose to promote the first-rate chaos that would ensure? Would Pelosi emerge as Speaker?

Whaaat? Well, no, she wouldn’t, of course. But the speculation about chaos in the Speaker’s chair reminds me of the greatest case of such confusion in political history. Willie Brown had been speaker of the California Assembly for a record 14 years when the Republican tidal wave of 1994 resulted in an Assembly composed of 40 Republicans, 39 Democrats and one independent. It certainly looked like the end of the Brown era: but the wily Willie had one more maneuver up his sleeve.

Brown secured the expulsion of one Republican because he had simultaneously been elected to the state Senate. Now things lined up the way Brown liked them: 39 for the Republicans, 39 for the Democrats, and one independent (though really a Republican), Paul Horcher of Whittier (birthplace of Richard Nixon; can it get better than this??). Horcher was no fan of GOP Speaker-in-waiting Jim Brulte, so he did what any troublemaker armed with such a mischievous opportunity would do: he voted for Brown!

Republicans were dumbfounded. A month earlier, they had won the Assembly by campaigning against Speaker Brown and now, the new Speaker was … Willie Brown. Horcher, for his trouble, was promptly recalled by voters in his district. Six months later, Brown (who had yielded some of his powers to a bipartisan committee) decided it would be more fun to be mayor of San Francisco, and prepared to depart the Assembly. Again, the Republican thought they finally would capture the speakership for Brulte.

Actually … no. Brown engineered the election by a 40-38 margin of Orange County Republican Assemblywoman Doris Allen who was annoyed at the lack of GOP party support in her recent re-election campaign. Speaker Allen – elected with all Democratic votes plus her own – only served three months before she, too, was recalled. Finally, a Republican got to serve as the Speaker of the Republican Assembly, but for less than a year, because Democrats won back control in 1996. By which time, Willie Brown was Mayor of San Francisco.

Moral of the story for House Republicans: be careful, you may not be able to control the political firestorm you ignite, especially if a crafty San Franciscan is in the House.

The September Scenario

See you in September.  See you, when the summer’s through…

 Well, thank goodness this summer is through. Even by the current abysmal standards of journalism and political discourse, the summer of 2015 has marked a new low in so many ways that one can only cower in terror about what awaits us when the political season gets serious next week.

I’ve taken a little time away from DOMEocracy to work on my book on the Class of 1974 and congressional reform. So by way of catching up, here are some thoughts on three of the more immediate issues: Trump, Clinton, and the Iran nuclear agreement.

Trump. Little has occurred since my last blog (“Trump’s Tirade”) to change my mind that, when all is said and done, Trump will have been largely a flash-in-the-pan summer story. Yes, he has “surged” in several states; but he is still winning a fraction of the votes of GOP voters; in most polls, three-quarters of Republicans support other candidates and a majority of Republicans declare they will never vote for him.

Why are people surprised by Trump’s early support? Hello, have you been paying attention to Republican politics in the last 5 years? His message is hardly inconsistent with the steady stream of anti-government vitriol that has passed for political discussion from the Right since Obama took office. Trump is actually less absolutist than many Republicans on issues like taxes (endorsing an end to the “carried interest” tax break enjoyed by hedge fund managers) and health care (he embraced single payer, at least for Canada).

The racist claptrap that generates the greatest response in his speeches is little different from the loony nativism spewed in the Congress by the likes of Tom Tancredo and Steve King in recent years. At its heart, this is what the boomlet for Trump is really all about: affluent white males who fear their status is endangered by the changing demographics and politics of the country. Trump intimidates the other Republican candidates just as the Tea Party minority in the House intimidates the less extreme wing of the GOP which is loathe to cross the energized base and invite primary challenges.

Trump’s success could actually benefit the more moderate Republicans like Bush (whose performance has been inept even by Bush family standards) and Kasich (who probably has the surest likelihood of being somewhere on the Republican ticket in 2016 if he doesn’t do something incredibly stupid). Trump sucks up all the oxygen from the Far Right candidates like Paul, Carson, Cruz, and Perry who have been unable to get traction amid the Trump blitz. Others, including Graham, Christie, Walker have underimpressed. When the dust clears, these candidates may find their moment consumed by Trump who then faces off against the more establishment candidates (Bush, Kasich), one of whom will eventually get the nomination and may well, together, form the GOP ticket.

Clinton. If Trump has enjoyed a summer fling with voters, Hillary Clinton has continued to take a beating. The take on the Clinton campaign is that it is a slow-moving disaster led by a deeply flawed candidate who inspires tepid support and monumental anxiety. Well, there is a point to be made there.

On the other hand, Clinton remains dominant among Democrats in money and support; as my mother would say, any of the other hopefuls would give their eye teeth to be where she is. Still, the dichotomy that is the Clinton campaign can be found daily in the press: just a few days ago, MSNBC ran both of these headlines: “Hillary ‘Is On A Trajectory That Is Dramatically Downward’” and “Hillary Clinton Flexes Muscle As She Racks Up Endorsements.” On September 2, the Washington Post breathlessly headlined, “Clinton Wrote, Sent Classified E-mails on Private Server.” The story notes, however, that the e-mails in question were determined to contain classified information after she sent them, indeed, “after Clinton left office.” Still, that doesn’t stop the Post from concluding that this revelation “appears to contradict earlier public statements in which she denied sending or receiving e-mails containing classified information.”

No, it doesn’t. Clinton asserts she never sent classified e-mails; “government officials” – whoever they are – now postulate some of the information in her e-mails may have become classified at a later time. Clinton undercuts her assertion by repeatedly saying that she “did not send or receive classified material.” Why not simply say, “I didn’t send or receive any material that was classified at the time.” To my knowledge, no one has contradicted that statement as yet.

Of course, Clinton knows (as do we all) the charges and allegations will never stop, and it is understandable that she is loathe to let such histrionics drive her from a race she could easily win. But that determination doesn’t make us any more sanguine about the prospects of moving into a restorative phase of American politics anytime soon.

Thus the summer fling with Sanders who says all the correct things and endorses all the right policies, and has less chance of effectuating them than he does of getting elected in the first place. Democrats need to keep in mind we are electing a president, not picking a valedictorian; the goal of selecting a nominee is not to pick the person with whom we agree most often, but rather the one who has the best chance of getting elected and actually implementing what he, or she, has promised. That isn’t Sanders.

Fortunately Sanders’ supporters will likely be able to embrace Clinton and hopefully turn out in reasonable numbers, as Clinton’s supporters accepted Obama in 2008. They won’t be happy, but the serious implications of a Republican presidency will be evident, particularly given the possibility of a Republican Congress (not to mention an aging Supreme Court). You can almost hear Clinton imploring, “Compare me to the alternative, not to the Almighty.”

On the issue of Joe Biden: not happening. Biden knows that he would have to confront Clinton head on and vigorously take down her candidacy, and he will not be willing to do that, nor should he. Even if he were successful, the ramifications for the women’s vote in November would be calamitous. He carries a lot of baggage of his own, starting with hundreds of controversial votes in the Senate accumulated over a third of a century. He may not remove himself irrevocably, in the event Clinton collapses, but as to an active candidacy against her: nope.

Iran. The press spent the summer breathlessly awaiting the declarations of each Democratic senator as the number endorsing the agreement approached the 34 votes needed to sustain the presidential veto (achieved last night with Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s announcement). As usual, there has been an excess of attention to the Senate. It is quite possible the senators will never even have to vote on the override because the vote could come first in the House, where Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has spent the summer tying down and releasing the names of Member after Member who support the agreement.

This is Pelosi at her meticulous best, counting her votes, re-counting her votes, over and over, talking to her doubtful members, leaving nothing to chance. She has been the Democratic Leader and Speaker since 2003, but she has also never stopped being the inexhaustible and peerless Whip, the position in which she entered the Democratic leadership. As soon as the Republican majority agreed to require only a vote of disapproval on the agreement (which could be vetoed and sustained with just one-third of either house) rather than a vote to approve it, the scene was set for Pelosi to work her magic.

That September song sung by The Happenings’ (from Paterson NJ) warns “there is danger in the summer moon above.” As we prepare for the return of Congress and votes on Iran, the continuing resolution, the highway trust fund, the debt ceiling and who knows what other “cliffs,” as well as more presidential debates and Trump tirades, there’s plenty of danger in the September moon as well.