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Democrats want an all-out war on Trump. Is that bad news for Sen. Bipartisanship?

Sens. Mike Lee and Amy Klobuchar
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Antitrust Subcommittee Mike Lee speaking with Sen. Amy Klobuchar before a hearing in December 2016.

On Monday morning in Washington, Sen. Amy Klobuchar was in her element: taking the lectern at the liberal Center for American Progress think tank to deliver a speech about the importance of enforcing strong anti-trust laws.

Surveying the crowd of 100 or so people, mostly free lunch-enjoying senior citizens, Klobuchar declared her approval of such a turnout for a wonky topic like this.

“I know that antitrust law may not make front-page news or even capture the attention of all of our lawmakers at any one moment,” she said. “But it’s important stuff. It’s consequential.”

She then expounded on the importance of vigorously preventing monopolies and mega-conglomerates and busting up existing ones. It had all the hallmarks of an Amy Klobuchar speech: the spotlighting of an important but unsexy topic, numerous paeans to bipartisan cooperation, mentions of her travels in rural America and a few good one-liners.

Since arriving in the U.S. Senate in 2007, Klobuchar has perfected a certain brand of politics, one that has largely eschewed strident partisanship and fiery takes on hot-button issues; instead, she’s more frequently used her public perch to plug away at important, but lower-visibility issues where she can work with Republicans to rack up legislative wins.

That approach has served her well over the past decade, taking her to the highest level of the Democratic Senate hierarchy, and to widespread popularity across Minnesota.

But times are changing. The election of President Donald Trump devastated and galvanized the Democratic Party base, which wants total war with Trump and his allies in Congress.

The front line of that war is the Senate, where progressives are holding up a microscope for any signs of weakness — also known as compromise — from Democratic senators. For Klobuchar, to whom compromise is no four-letter word, the Trump era is testing the limits of her brand of politics.

Senate Democrats scramble for influence

On January 3, the first day of the 115th Congress, Senate Democrats found themselves in a place that, just months prior, few thought they’d be: stuck in the Senate minority with Trump in the White House.

With no obvious public face of the party, Democratic Senators have jockeyed for position at the forefront of resistance to the GOP, through sharp questioning in confirmation hearings, countless TV hits, and speeches, no-votes, and days-long delay tactics on the Senate floor.

The progressive base has looked chiefly to Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the left-wing champions who are most vocally challenging Trump. Others have seen their stock rise, like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has only voted yes on two of Trump’s 19 Cabinet nominees, the fewest of any senator.

Sen. Al Franken has emerged as the viral sensation of the liberal opposition — not with humor, but with pointed cross-examinations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, exchanges widely replayed on TV and around the internet.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken
REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken listening to Betsy DeVos during her confirmation hearing on Jan. 17.

Minnesota’s other Senator has been mostly absent from these headline-grabbing moves. Klobuchar has taken few opportunities to assume the fervent, obstructionist stance that progressives desperately want from elected Democrats right now.

To those who know how Klobuchar operates, that’s not a surprise. In the era of Trump — a figure who, without question, alarms her — she has continued to search for common ground with Republicans in the service of passing law and, in some cases, trying to mitigate Trump’s agenda.

The ‘emergency brake’

Sitting in her Capitol Hill office on a recent afternoon, Klobuchar explained, briskly and matter-of-factly, what is happening right now in the United States Senate, which has been gridlocked for over two months as it handles bills and confirmation votes at a glacial pace.

“I’ve never seen a time like this in the Senate,” she said, by way of prologue. In her view, those in the upper chamber have two key duties: looking out for constituents and passing legislation. With Trump, a third duty has emerged — something she calls the “emergency brake.”

If the Trump presidency is a runaway train, then, the Senate — and Senate Democrats — are the only thing that can stop it. Or at least slow it down.

What that looks like, to Klobuchar, is pushing back against measures like the White House’s travel ban, the Republicans’ Affordable Care Act replacement, and fighting the president’s more troubling Cabinet picks.

On those items, Klobuchar has been a dutiful soldier in the Senate. Some in her party, however, want to see all-out opposition to every facet of the GOP agenda, a “no” on every Trump pick. Klobuchar has drawn criticism from that corner of the party because she’s voted in favor of nine of the 19 Trump nominees who have come up for a vote, more than the majority of members of the Democratic conference.

She departed from most of her colleagues in voting to confirm Wilbur Ross to head the Commerce Department, and Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA.

Her reasons for supporting them are revealing of her political approach: Klobuchar sits on the Senate Commerce panel, so she voted for Ross, a Trump pal and hedge fund magnate, because she anticipates the need to work with him in the future.

On Pompeo — a former House Republican who once suggested Muslim-American leaders were “potentially complicit” in terror attacks — Klobuchar voted yes in order to have someone in charge of the agency as soon as possible, which she believed to be a necessary check on the president after Trump visited CIA headquarters in January and turned a planned national security speech into a meandering diatribe against the media.

“I think there are people in our party who would say, vote against every single nominee,” Klobuchar said. “I figure I’ve gotta look at them on an individual basis… They wouldn’t be the first person I picked, but are they going to be able to govern better than just having all these employees report directly to the president? Or to Steve Bannon?”

Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Amy Klobuchar
REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Amy Klobuchar attending a news conference in Riga, Latvia, on December 28, 2016.

On that other element of Senate business, legislation, Klobuchar has maintained the high level of cooperation with Republicans that is central to her political brand.

She may even be ramping it up: so far this year, Klobuchar’s press office has sent out at least 25 releases touting the senator’s work with one or more Republican senators, from moderates like Maine Sen. Susan Collins to conservative hard-liners like Utah Sen. Mike Lee.

That bipartisan work tends to be focused on narrow problems or issues that aren’t partisan: legislation to help speed up the processing of veterans’ benefits, for example, or expanding support for families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.

But Klobuchar has also worked with Republicans on big, broadly popular items that have failed to gain traction, like allowing the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, on which she has a bill with Arizona Sen. John McCain.

She also traveled with McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, on a tour of Ukraine, Georgia, and Baltic countries after Trump’s victory to reaffirm U.S. support of NATO.

“I’ve seen more reachout from the Republicans,” Klobuchar explained, “maybe because they’re dealing with angry constituents. Look at what we’ve done since the beginning of the year — about how many bipartisan bills I’ve either introduced where I’m the lead or I’m the lead Democrat on. It’s a lot.”

‘In the most positive way, calculated’

Whatever their merits, GOP-backed bills on expanding rural broadband and vocational training and stopping fraud on seniors are not going to fire up the progressive base, or put them at ease.

In fact, many of them don’t want to see any Democrats cooperating with the GOP, and they are exploring the idea of confronting those who do with primary challengers from the left.

So far, few are clamoring for a primary challenge to Klobuchar, who is up for re-election in 2018. But to some progressives, Klobuchar’s bipartisan style is a deal-breaker for her to assume a lead role in resisting Trump — or for her to merit serious consideration as a presidential contender in 2020. (Klobuchar, along with a dozen senators and governors, is frequently thrown out as a possible candidate for the wide-open Democratic primary.)

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the popular progressive blog Daily Kos, hammered Klobuchar for her moves in the Senate, arguing that she is legitimizing Trump and is showing Democrats “how NOT to do things” in the Trump era.

Steven Schier
carleton.edu
Steven Schier

“I want to like her as a presidential contender,” Moulitsas wrote, “but then she has to go with that ‘we all need to work together’ crap and… ugh.”

According to Steven Schier, professor of politics at Carleton College, the Democratic base is craving the sharp partisan barbs that Franken is dishing out. Klobuchar’s style of politics, he said, “is pretty unfashionable in national politics, generally.”

“Trump has produced an equal and opposite reaction, and Al Franken’s part of that equal and opposite reaction,” he said. “Resist, slow everything down, don’t be seen in any way as facilitating Trump.”

“This is a problem for someone like Klobuchar who’d like to find ways to work on issues in a bipartisan way. She has to worry about her own base now, and that’s not her style.”

Even if some progressives aren’t buying what Klobuchar is selling at the moment, stalwart members of the grassroots left in Minnesota have little ill to say about her.

To some Minnesota Democrats, the well of trust that Klobuchar has built in in the state is deep enough to excuse a political track record that isn’t 100 percent in line with what they want.

Kaela Berg, director of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition and a Sanders delegate at the 2016 Democratic convention, said she doesn’t want to see any Democratic "yes" votes on Trump appointments but is willing to give Klobuchar the benefit of the doubt.

“I don’t know her reasons behind the votes she’s taken on the cabinet,” Berg said. “I know we’re a little surprised by them.” But Berg has come to regard Klobuchar as a thoughtful and intentional politician — “in the most positive way calculated,” she said.

“Knowing how Amy operates, having confidence because of the history of her leadership, the only way I can reconcile her giving a yes vote is there is a possible positive outcome for the yes vote she took.”

Ahead to 2018 — and 2020?

For her part, Klobuchar does not seem especially worried about increased heat from the Democratic base, though she does appear deeply attuned to the criticism that comes her way. When asked a broad question about her cabinet votes, Klobuchar cut right to explaining why she voted for Ross and Pompeo, without even mentioning their names.

Unlike Franken, Klobuchar has her own re-election next year to worry about. If she doesn’t have a challenge from the left, she still must navigate an electorate that was a few thousand votes away from putting Minnesota in Trump’s column in 2016.

Democratic operatives describe Klobuchar as a deeply cautious politician — one who, as one Democrat put it, is reluctant to count her chickens even after they’ve hatched. That can sometimes frustrate people like Berg, who said progressives get nervous at the length of time it takes her to come out with positions on certain issues important to them, like trade.

But her careful approach and outreach to Republicans helped her secure a landslide re-election in 2012, with widespread support in areas of the state that voted for Trump four years later. Whichever Republican faces her will have their work cut out for them.

As for any 2020 aspirations, Klobuchar answered diplomatically, as she always does. “I think right now we have a lot on our plate to stand up for the people of our states and our country, that’s what I’m focused on right now. That's why I decided to run for Senate again," she said.

What kind of Democrat should run in 2020, then?

“People ask that a lot, ask about me some, ask about, who’s the perfect candidate — I think we kinda did that the last election,” Klobuchar explained, flashing a self-effacing smile. “We probably need a bit of a competition.”

If that competition will reward a compromise-oriented Democrat like Klobuchar or a progressive warrior like Warren — whom top Democrats, like former Senate leader Harry Reid, urged to consider running — remains to be seen.

For now, Klobuchar says she feels the progressive base’s pain. But governing, she said, demands a different set of priorities — tackling the not-so-front page news, like anti-trust law, and getting things done where you can. Even if it means working with Republicans.

“When you’re in government and have to rule and govern and try to do the right things… You have to understand that emotion because it’s real and I feel it myself every day,” she said.

“But then you have to figure out, do we need a vets’ secretary anyway? Because we need someone in charge. Do we need a Department of Defense general in charge? Well, we do.”

Klobuchar has no love for Trump. But she calls as friends the people tasked with implementing his agenda.

“If Trump continues along these lines of this kind of rhetoric and actions and orders, there’s going to be a lot of fights,” she said. “That still doesn’t mean that you don’t look for some common ground. If he says he wants to do something about the capital gains tax, great. You have to look for those common ground moments.”

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Comments (99)

Most Liberals do not see compromise as a four lettter word

Its just that centrist/bipartisan Democrats don't seem to understand what the word means. It means give and take, you give a little and i give a little, but lately, actually for a long time its meant Democrats give and Republicans take. Compromise means, I start here, you start there and we meet somewhere comfortable for all of us. Obamacare is a good example. Its basically a Republican program with a few tweaks that Centrist Democrats liked. Medicare for all never even came up in the discussions and a public option was shot down before the negotiating even started. So there was nothing to compromise on, Democrats started with the Republican plan, whose gonna win in that deal?

Democrats have the wind at their backs in the 2018 elections but too much "compromising" to appease trump voters will surely demoralize an energetic base. They've already started that with the election of Perez, too much and they're going to blow the best chance they've had to win the Senate and maybe even the House in a long long time.

Medicare for all is single payer!

Why would it come up? Only those who believe that Big Brother Govt makes their life better would even entertain Medicare for all. Let's see Big Govt help the Vets first (VA is a disaster for our most valued citizens) then maybe someone who tries to think about Big Govt programs as to whether they work or not (not just how it sounds) might give it a second thought.

No

Germany has a system where insurance is provided to all residents by private insurance companies, but under tight government regulation. All policies are the same, so companies compete on the basis of service, not price.

Germany's system won't work here

The problem is that our government has never done "regulation" well. Our "regulators" always end up captured by the industries they're supposed to be regulating or hobbled by legislative hostility or the whims of temporary executives. The USDA just got the authority to issue mandatory recalls of contaminated food and it still hasn't used that authority for example. In THIS country the successful and efficient public programs have always been run either directly by the government such as the post office or indirectly as with Medicare Medicaid.

Medicare already exists, it's up and running, it's more efficient and cost effective than any private plan, and it can easily be expanded to cover everyone. We could never anywhere near the savings and efficiency equivalent to MFA from a private insurance industry, we'd simply be trapped in the same regulatory swamp we currently wallow in with everything else we try to "regulate".

It would come up because Medicare is a very successful

and efficient program. Administrative costs are about 2%. Private insurers claim 17%, which is probably low balling it, but even if you take their word, that's a 15% savings right off the top. Only a person whose been indoctrinated to fear everything run by the people (I.E. big Government.) would think paying 15% more to the private sector would be a good thing.

The VA is not a disaster, it has its problems, but show me one vet who'd trade the care they get with dealing with private insurance. Republicans have been meddling with the affairs at the VA for years, appointing cronies to run it and quietly cutting its budget, people suffer, but folks get to say things like "VA is a disaster" and complain about "Big Govt." Republicans don't want Government programs to work, so they actively seek to destroy them, they've done it to the VA, they are doing it now with Obamacare and Medicaid and they'll go after Medicare next. Hopefully you've made enough money to pay $12-20 grand a year for coverage in your old age, but judging by your writing I doubt it.

Why again

If governments are so efficient in running things, why did the countries where governments run everything have always failed so miserably?

All or Nothing

I love it when conservatives do this, painting in broad brushes with only two colors, black and white.

The rest of us live in the real world, where there is a lot of grey. Who is proposing Russia's medical system? I've not heard that, so I'd like to hear your source.

If outcomes in most (all?) of Europe are better than ours and a lower cost, what's wrong with looking at other countries? Is it just a matter of American Exceptionalism? The idea that causes us to say, "We're the best in everything, and if they are different they must be wrong?"

No one is proposing the government take over the entire economy, so please stop acting like someone is.

A lot of conservatives complain about the horrors of government health care, but when they turn 65 they all become card carrying socialists. I've never heard of one of them turning down Medicare; even Ayn Rand didn't do that.

Hellholes

Norway, Denmark.... gives me the shivers just thinking about those places.

Goverments

Mr. Phelan, I think Mr. Willy mentioned Russia’s health care in a positive way somewhere here, in the comments to this piece… And Michael Moore praised Cuban system… Anyway, how do you define positive outcome in European countries? There are plenty of examples showing that it doesn’t work there that well. And why do kings and queens come to Mayo, not to Paris or Stockholm? On the other hand, I am always for learning and using positives from other countries – nothing wrong with that at all. It’s just that we need to understand advantages and disadvantages and how it works before adopting something. Some things are location specific.

Yes, no one proposes government’s takeover of the entire economy but, logically, if government is more efficient than private business, it may make sense and people would go in that direction. The problem, of course, that government is not more efficient and even Medicare efficiency is a myth https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2011/06/30/the-myth-of-medica....

Mr. Everson, Denmark is not America but we can compare us to Denmark… for example, how much Denmark spends on defense because we pay for that or how diverse Denmark is… Denmark is a monarchy and has a government-supported state religion and church of which 80 percent of Danes are members (who pay on average 1% of their income to this church). All Danes pay 8% minimum tax – regardless of income - while there are only two tax brackets after that – 6% and 21% (which is way less than Americans pay) so to compensate for that, there is a 25% flat VAT, or sales tax in layman’s terms, meaning that, again, everyone, whether rich or poor, pays this tax when buying anything; clearly, the Danish system is relying on taxing the poor much more than the American one does. And Norway lives off its oil in addition to all of the above… But both are wonderful countries to visit and, probably, to live.

If Your Friend Jumps Off a Bridge...

Just because we spend an ungodly amount of our treasure on our military (it's not for defense when you have 100's of bases around the world) doesn't mean we should expect or demand that other nations act as foolishly as us. The thought that we are defending Denmark is laughable. No one wants to invade Denmark.

Maybe someone does...

Swedes do think that someone is threatening them so Sweden just reintroduced military draft https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/world/europe/sweden-draft-conscriptio.... And Finland, Denmark, and Norway have had it all the time. And All Eastern European countries beg for American guarantees. And Germany doesn’t want American military bases to be closed. And NATO can’t handle Yugoslavia and Libya without American help. So yeah, we do defend them…

Well

Its called pro-active: Helps prevent a war from starting,

Yes, strong America is the

Yes, strong America is the only thing that prevents the world from falling into perpetual war everywhere…

But we have the best ladders

"Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?"

Of the 155 countries where hundreds of thousands of people were asked that question in a survey, the ones in which people saw themselves highest up on that ladder are:

1) Norway

2) Denmark

3) Iceland

4) Switzerland

5) Finland

The U.S. was number 14

www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/world/worlds-happiest-countries.html

Practically all those

Practically all those countries above the US do not spend practically anything on defense allowing them to spend more on social issues (thanks to America) and are pretty much homogeneous when it comes to population… I have pointed that out many times in the past.

Yes indeed

"In 2014, the most recent year available, the United States led the world in military spending at $610 billion, marking 34 percent of the world total, SIPRI found.

"U.S. expenditures were nearly three times higher than China, the second-highest nation with an estimated $216 billion in military spending. Russia was in third place at $84.5 billion.

www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jan/13/barack-obama/oba...

"The United States spends more on national defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan combined."

www.pgpf.org/chart-archive/0053_defense-comparison

"The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $5 trillion so far, and that total could rise even higher in the years to come."

www.militarytimes.com/articles/war-costs-report-brown-university

Do you think it MIGHT be possible for us to spend a little less?

Or do you fear that would mean homeland and worldwide catastrophe?

Without America Europe could

Without America Europe could not manage Yugoslavia or Libya. And without America Russia would grab the entire Ukraine and more and Chine will grab the entire Southeast Asia and Iran would grab the entire Persian Gulf, etc. Do you not see this as a problem for the world? So yes, I am sure, it is possible to spend a little bit less, just because as any government institution, military is not very efficient in spending money… But I don’t want to risk the world being on fire (which we are pretty close to even now, thanks to Obama’s policies). But if other NATO countries step in, we can save some big bucks so I all for that.

Medicare for all

I doubt that the VA is a disaster for most veterans. I'm sure most of them would prefer the VA to what existed before WWII. Which was pretty well summed up by the government's response tothe bonus marchers in 1932. The VA certainly has its problems but not because it's like Medicare. There's no comparison at all in fact. The VA is a system of hospitals and medical professionals providing direct health care to veterans, many of whom are very satisfied with the care they receive. My Dad and my Uncle were very happy and grateful for the care they received from the VA before they passed.

Medicare by contrast is a highly efficient form of health care insurance that delivers benefits at a fraction of the cost of the insurance business which is riddled with inefficiency and wasteful overhead costs. Medicare beneficiaries still pay for supplemental insurance but that's still far less than any of the insurance plans offered on the single member plans today. Health care finance is a public good which we all could afford if the government took it over completely. I know people in Sweden pay about half of their incomes in taxes. But incomes are also higher there over all and taxes cover very generous health care, paid leave and long term care for seniors.

"Fake Freedom"

An opinion piece in the Sunday New York Times in the review section "The Fake Freedom of American Health Care" by Anu Partanen makes the case for universal health care, or maybe single-payer, based her own experience growing up and living in Finland. The author points out that present American health care system with its bloated, expensive, inefficient and complex insurance bureaucracy to her appears more like socialism than anything she every experience in Finland. Our choice is really not between freedom and what? (slavery?). It's between big government and big business. At least with big government, there is some possibility of accountability.

who was that guy?

You know who I mean? Let's see...oh yes, Mitch McConnell. If I remember correctly...it was such a long time ago wasn't it? Anyway, didn't he say their only aim was to prevent Obama and the Democrats from getting anything done as long as he was in the white house?! That they'd fight again Obamacare for as long as it took?! I think he did. I think it was echoed by quite a few of the GOP. I'm pretty sure it was! All the important people in the GOP were standing by Mitch's side every time he said it publically! I mean...he said it publically!

Now then...what could Mitch have really meant? (I'm sticking more to the storyline here. Bipartisanship? Good or bad.) If memory serves, he was against Medicare for all. And if one looks deeper, like Ryan, they aren't happy with Medicare at all. Ryan, who lately just explained to everyone how insurance works, and that he's not for it!

Big Brother Government is a government lead by a few people in permanent power. Not here in the US. Big Brother Governments are like Russia is governed. Small and where one leader gets rid of his opponents! If you haven't read '1984' you should. Here big government is about employing people, people who aren't thinking about ways to hurt Government programs like the VA. When the VA is 'hurt' monetarily it's generally those in charge of the hospitals, meaning just a few who figure they can get away with skimming...and occasionally by cost cutting minded Republicans.

ComradeCare

Speaking of Russia, their cost of health care in 2014 was $1,836 per person and 7.1% of GDP.

www.who.int/countries/rus/en/

"U.S. health care spending grew 5.8 percent in 2015, reaching $3.2 trillion or $9,990 per person. As a share of the nation's Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.8 percent."

www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-r...

And, according to PBS, that per person cost rose above $10,000 in 2016:

"$10,345 per person: U.S. health care spending reaches new peak"

www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/new-peak-us-health-care-spending-10345-per-...

Although (almost) nobody wants to see the aspects of Russia's "less savory quality of life" you point out taking root here, the $8,000 per person and 10.7% of GDP difference in the cost of health care is interesting.

Different problem

“Here big government is about employing people, people who aren't thinking about ways to hurt Government programs like the VA.” No big organization may be efficient; if people who work there are not directly and personally interested in the outcome, it will be even more inefficient. This is not a result of one leader getting rid of his opponents but of the nature of the government… which wants more and more power and becomes more and more inefficient. And by the way, speaking of Russia, you have to be rich to have good service…

Evidence please:

“Here big government is about employing people, people who aren't thinking about ways to hurt Government programs like the VA.” No big organization may be efficient"

Aren't corporations big organizations? When does small become big, got the magic numbers? Got the magic efficiency numbers? Word is the IRS and medicare are some fo the most efficient organizations on the planet,

Of course big corporations

Of course big corporations are inefficient. And a magic level, from my personal experience, is when first level managers stop being owners who do some work themselves and know everyone in the company… So no, Medicare is not efficient at all https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2011/06/30/the-myth-of-medica....

Then why?

“Compromise means, I start here, you start there and we meet somewhere comfortable for all of us. Obamacare is a good example. Its basically a Republican program with a few tweaks.” Then why did every single Republican voted against that?

Maybe...

cause they though that down the road t it was a lead-in to insurance coverage for everyone....."Oh no, please don't say that !"

Every single Republican voted

Every single Republican voted against Obamacare, because it was proposed to Congress by America's first black President.

McConnell opposed everything Obama did, and in the case of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), it didn't matter one bit that Romneycare in Massachusetts was its model.

It was all about not letting Obama have any legislative successes, on anything. That's why Obama was forced to do so many Executive Orders in the second half of his second term in office (American voters liked him, and his programs, and that was the danger McConnell saw).

Maybe

Mr. Litfin, if it was Republican program, they knew what it would lead to, right?

Ms. Sullivan, in general, Republicans don’t vote the same way and McConnell really couldn’t make Republicans unite (just see what is going on in the Senate now). So are you saying that every single Republican senator is racist who opposed Obama just because he is black? I would say you have to have more proof than just one vote otherwise it seems similar to what Trump is doing now… And if Americans liked Obama’s policies so much, why did they keep voting Republican and didn’t elect Clinton, who insisted that she was the second coming of Obama (a motion supported by Obama himself)?

I would say that every republican in both houses

Treated Obama like a second class citizen. Look in the mirror after today's non event clowns

Proposed by America's first black president?

Interesting word added. Why even go there??

Nonetheless, every single Republican voted against the ACA because of two reasons, they were not even included in any of it since the Dems had a strong majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate. The Dems rammed it down knowing it was the only opportunity they had. After all, Pelosi was preaching to just vote on it to find out what is in it, not to read it (unlike her tune from last week). Would you vote for something that you were not offered to give any input on? Probably not.

The other thing is that the Republicans knew what the end result was going to be of what the ACA would cause. The case of keeping plans and doctors and saving insurance premiums never happened just as the Republicans said it would. Also, the cost and coverage has been an exploding nightmare for families. So now the American public saw that the ACA as it was passed as just snake oil, they're ticked. And who predicted this?

Add to it the stagnant economic growth and widening gap of the haves and have nots by Obama's policies that favored the well to do, that is against what conservatism is. And some people wonder why Obama was objected to on many things?

I went to "America's first

I went to "America's first black President" because that's a major part of Senator McConnell's--and the Republican party's--opposition to Barack Obama: he is black (as we define that).

The Republicans' solid bloc of opposition to Obama is a fact that we can't afford to omit in our discussions of Obamacare, and even of how Republicans dismiss the fact that, under Obama, our economy because ever more solid--a brilliant comeback. Under regulations! There is significant racist reaction to Obama, and I'm not going to cover that over.

Obam tried to collaborate with Congressional Republicans, and actually got along fairly well with Boehner, Speaker of the House, who unfortunately had to face strong opposition from Tea Party/Libertarian extremists in his own group. At various points I found myself getting angry at how Obama seemed to be giving away the store, in attempts to draw Republicans to policy compromises. They wouldn't even attend state dinners at the White House while he was President.

You got another explanation for the ways they "dissed" this black guy? I don't see one. [I'm white, by the way.]

How do you know

Again, how do you know that Obama’s “blackness” is “a major part of Senator McConnell's--and the Republican party's--opposition to Barack Obama?” What is your proof? And if you don’t have any, how is it different from Trump’s wiretapping claim? Yes, Republicans’ opposition to Obama is a fact but economy’s becoming more solid under Obama and Republicans’ racism are not facts. Of course, I have another explanation for the ways Republicans opposed Obama: Obama’s policies. No one would say that Democrats oppose Trump because he is white, right?

The Race Card

A charge of racism is prima facie evidence of racism; it is accepted. Claiming that the race card has been played is also considered evidence of racism. Charges of racism are accepted and cannot be disproved. Even when you make a clear and logical case against a position of President Obama, it is considered racially motivated. While many claimed that America entered the post-racial period of American history when we elected a black president, we did not. In fact, race relations deteriorated, which is due in part to this racism rhetoric.

What "clear and logical case against his positions"?

I disagree with your claim that the term "racism" can never be used in debate. You're trying to eliminate the question of racial attitudes and behaviors from the arena of political and social perception, as if no racism existed in the United States. Just "political correctness."

Please.

Republicans never used any "clear and logical" rationales to oppose Obama's policies. They simply opposed them, all of them, all of the time, and with all Republicans talking and voting the same way. That was blind obedience to Republican leadership, without precedent.

Its that bloc of consistency against Obama, without rationale adduced, that many Americans have noticed. Republicans refused to acknowledge that he was President, in fact (check the Garland nomination for Supreme Court more than a year ago: can't let this guy pretend that he's still President and the one the Constitution deems responsible for nominating SCOTUS folks, right? Or the "You lie!" shouted at Obama in his first address to Congress in 2009, also unprecedented disrespect).

I see that as racist behavior on Republicans' part. And I will not be bullied into some corner where we can't even SAY that someone is behaving or talking in a racially-biased mode. Sorry. We should all try to curb the racist attitudes we were brought up with, and that begins with questioning ourselves, not everybody else who is "racist" because they see racism out there.

Never said that

"the term "racism" can never be used in debate." Never said that, and don't believe that.

Your words from above, "Every single Republican voted against Obamacare, because it was proposed to Congress by America's first black President." You provided no backing for your charge of racism.

Why do you call it Obamacare? It is the Affordable Care Act, even it's name carries a lie. It is not affordable, and anyone paying attention knew it from the start. For the average American family it missed by $7000; a plan that was to stated to save $2500 per year cost +$4500 per year. And not everyone can keep their plan nor their doctor. And, we don't like it because of the President's race?

Regarding the Supreme Court pick getting a hearing; that should be called the Biden rule. He explains it in detail.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1SUn0zTGUQ

Barack Obama himself accepted calling it "Obamacare."

He said he had come to like the term, and could even use it.

Otherwise, I know it's the Affordable Care Act. It did stop the rapid and extreme rise in premium costs for a bit, until the insurance companies lost patience with waiting for the deluge of formerly uninsured sick people to make their way through a modicum of actual health care in the first several years of Obamacare and the system calmed down.

The problem is health care costs. Not Obamacare, which has so many good things in it that are not being talked about. Including a requirement that health insurance actually cover something!

Of course, racism existed in

Of course, racism existed in America but, for all practical purposed, doesn’t anymore. Racists still exist (and most likely, will, for a very long time) but racism, as a force preventing certain groups from achieving its objectives, does not. So just as we cannot attribute Democrats’ absolute resistance to Trump to Trump’s being white, we cannot explain Republicans’ resistance to Obama by Obama’s being black. Attributing Republicans’ resistance to Garland to their racism is in the same category as Trump’s winning popular vote: No proof whatsoever. So sure, you can say that “someone is behaving or talking in a racially-biased mode” but you need to provide some proof of it to be taken seriously. By the way, I was not brought up with any racist attitude and neither were my children…

No racism anymore in the

No racism anymore in the United States?
Wow.

Correct

Yep, no institutional racism in America anymore. Would you care to prove its existence if you think otherwise?

Snarky ageist comment

Hey, Sam! What does this mean? "mostly free lunch-enjoying senior citizens"

Did you interview the attendees or is this simply your bias showing?

" mostly free lunch-enjoying senior citizens"

That phrase was probably used because there was a free lunch and they were mostly senior citizens.

How pathetic is it that a

How pathetic is it that a politician is criticized for being thoughtful, intentional,
considerate, a compromiser? "Unfashionable?"
Go Amy! Show your mouthy colleagues
how to get some work done.

How pathetic is it

that one side blocks EVERYTHING that the other is trying to do, yet some politicians refuse to see it and think they can make nice while the other side walks all over them.

The "united" part of the United States

Our country is made up of a huge range of political beliefs. If we trim off the excessive ends, both left and right, that leaves the great majority of us more or less in the center, or at the least, not extremists. How do we find common ground? We meet in the middle of where we are, once the far out positions are excused.
I am decidedly on the liberal end of things, but I would never assume that everything done nationally should fit the liberal bill. We need to keep focused on our common ground.
Much as I want to scream and rage and say NO! to everything Trump says and does, I also don't want the liberal position to be close minded. I'm ok with a balance of conservative and liberal. But Trump is the extremist, far outside any norm of a modern state. His elected supporters are his enablers to the extent that they fail to cast a critical eye at what he says and does. He must be held accountable at every turn, but obstructing the entire system is a bad idea, as it was when the Repubs did it these past eight years.

What do you do

when that middle ground keeps moving further and further to the right? If you are a Liberal and you've been paying attention you've seen that the right has been moving to the extreme for decades and now we have arrived at a place where someone utterly completely and unquestionably unqualified for the position has taken over the White House. He's installed white supremacists in his cabinet. We have Russia interfering with our elections and very suspicious activities and connections between the White House and Russian Officials and its being portrayed a normal by the Republican party and apparently by some Democrats. Have you SEEN the Republican Budget? Their ACA replacement? What there do you see Democrats as supporting? If they support any of it, they will lose in 2018, just as they have in every midterm for the last decade.

Hey there, Henk

Not long after reading your comment (about the right moving to what looks like it must be SOMEwhere near the furthest possible edge of right -- before falling off the face of the political earth), I saw a woman on the Charlie Rose show talking about "The blow-it-all-up billionaires," got compelled to look it up, found myself thinking about the above as I was reading and wound up saying "Wow" to myself most of the way through the article.

http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/mercers/

A good look at a prime example of the result of Citizens United.

The answer to the question of, "Where in the hell did Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon come from?"

"Highly influencial people" who talk to cats, think Jeff Sessions is a near-genius and that the Koch Brothers network is "hopelessly soft on trade and immigration."

People who used (a little) of their money buy a company that claimed to have the expertise and software "to manipulate voter behavior through something called psychographic modeling" that would provide its owners with "enormous influence over messaging and strategy."

People who feel (very strongly) that they are entitled to exceptionally direct say in the direction the president is and will be trying to take America.

Quite the article.

And, no matter what anyone thinks of Amy Klobuchar, a good illustration of the kind of people she or any other Democrat is contending with and a good look at the kind of people she (or just about any other Democrat) is definitely not.

Amy Klobuchar is not a leader

Amy Klobuchar is not a leader in the sense of articulating a forward-looking vision for our country and trying to persuade people to move in that direction. She is a legislative technocrat, concerned with making small advances on non-central (if important) issues where only certain almost under-the-radar interest groups know the score. That's why nobody, not even in Minnesota or Minneapolis--she's a neighbor of mine, actually!--is aware of much of anything she does in the Senate.

It's hard to criticize her activities, because she is pretty much silent and all but invisible; she refuses the limelight and leadership when the going gets tough. Maybe Senator Klobuchar is the main throwback to the Old Boys' Club U.S. Senate, where comity reigned and deals were made, a la Lyndon Johnson or HHH.

In her last electoral campaign I heard several interviews where she was asked sharp questions on issues and she gobbledeegooked her way around any answer. It was frustrating to listen to. Time and again she euphemized and avoided direct language, much less any clear stance on any side of an issue.

I think she votes, still, as a Democrat or liberal (except for the Cabinet nominees Sam mentions, but Trump has the right to his own people, however desperately unqualified they are and how much sabotage of their agency they have promised). In Minnesota, her appeal to the right will probably get her re-elected, and that's not bad as long as she votes with her party's ideals.

We are fortunate Amy Klobuchar represents us in the US Senate

Amy Klobuchar is the real deal: smart, hardworking, and non-idealogical with deep roots in Minnesota. I appreciate so much about her: her office's constituent support; her commitment to stay in touch with Minnesotans by visiting every county in the state every year (a big deal and a lot of work); her careful--yes--but also forthright, answers to questions; and her work with moderate Republicans. We are fortunate to have her serving us!

Re-election

Trump came close in Mn, in November, because a few hundred thousand traditionally democratic voters chose to stay home. If the new health care law get's passed, and some part of the Trump budget, and the mere mortals in this country start feeling the impace, Amy will have a much easier time getting re-elected than many of her GOP counterparts.

Amy Klobuchar article

Mr. Brody,
Thank you for an excellent article. It has given me some good insights into Amy's style.

Not many legislators look at

Not many legislators look at the liquid above the half way line anymore. This drastic change came about when, as referred to earlier, McConnell and his fellow regressives stated at the very begging of Obama's first term as our President that they would do everything they could to obstruct his Presidency...and you know the specifics of those years.

You do remember Republican Congressman, Joe Wilson's "You Lie" outburst during Obama's speech. Now I did not see anything like that during Trump's first speech from Democratic representatives ........think about it.

That’s right, many Democrats

That’s right, many Democrats just didn’t come and made a big deal out of that, too.

Bipartisanship

While there are many that wish that Sen. Klobuchar would take a more aggressive stand against the Trump policies, imagine how much could be accomplished if more of the Senate had her cooperative attitude and willingness to listen. Obstructionism is not the way to get things done. While I hate the Trump agenda, I believe his administration will implode due to its internal divisions and lack of care and concern for the American people. Sen. Klobuchar represents a way of dealing with divisiveness with a productive outcome.

Where have all the compromisers gone?

Where have all the compromisers gone? That could be the title and topic of a folk song, perhaps performed by the Kingston Trio.

If you review the comments made here on MinnPost made by those on the left over the past eight years, there are a couple of recurring mantras.

1) Republicans are the Party of NO.

2) Republicans in Congress are obstructionists; they are not doing their jobs!

As if their jobs was to carry an agenda with which they did not agree; for instance, the ACA.

These are the same folks that believe that the President is just one bad tweet from impeachment. Of course, this was the same belief and the resultant behavior that got him elected. Stuff too good to be made up.

Tough position

Fundamentally, there are Win-Win, Win-Lose, Lose-Win, Lose-Lose and no deal scenarios. Our politics seems to have evolved to everything but win-win, I think Amy tries to operate in the ever shrinking window of win-win or no deal.

As stated here before,

it is not the fact that Dems are opposed to everything Trump and GOP will do, it is the fact that Americans by the thousands have rejected the liberal overreach of the past 8 years. Democrats didn't lose over 1,000 seats, both Houses in DC, the White House and many Governorships since 2008 by being adverse to GOP policies, they lost by backing Dem policies. Regular folks want jobs not Govt handouts. Voters want a secure border not Sanctuary Cities. People want Govt to use our tax dollars not waste our tax dollars.

The refusal of the left to understand it is not fighting the GOP that has hurt them it is the rejection of the voters to their liberal agenda that has hurt them.

We have to repeat every once

We have to repeat every once in a while that a huge majority of American voters last November voted for Hillary Clinton for President. She got more than three million more votes than Trump did. No one has ever had such a huge vote advantage over a rival and still lost the election.

Maybe the Russian help that Trump got--via misinformation they spread through our "news" channels and strategic "leaks" to Wikileaks of their cyberhacking of Americans--helped Trump with those 90,000-some votes that gave him the four states' electoral votes that gave him the win despite the popular vote.

Constance, I am referring

to the 1,000 seats lost since the 2008 election. Yes, there were more votes cast for Clinton but explain both Houses being lost, Governorships lost, White House and State Houses lost during Obama's 8 years.

Can

you say gerrymandering?

Huge Majority?

First of all, what was leaked was truth and not misinformation.

So far this Russian connection has not been confirmed; it seems that it should been verified by now if that is how it came down. If the Russians hacked the election, why did they allow Hillary a "huge majority" in popular vote? Is 2% (48.5% v. 46.5%) a huge majority?

Russian connection

The Russians did hack the election, we know that. It's pretty well confirmed that it was the Russian secret service that did so. The open question is whether Trump or people with his campaign knew of it or aided it in any way.

In fact,it not for certain that what was leaked was all true. There may be have disinformation and fake facts planted with the leaked dump of documents. It may take months or years to know, assuming someone's taking the time to review them all.

It doesn't help when those involved in the investigation are either lying or not cooperating. Several people with the Trump campaign lied about their contacts with Russian officials, like the Russian Ambassador before the election. Trump buddy Roger Stone first denied having any contacts with the leakers.Then it came out that he did have contact with the Russian hacker Guccifer, whom investigators suspect but aren't sure is really a front for Russian counterintelligence. Stone may not have had any meaningful contacts but his changing story looks suspicious under the circumstances.

So, if the Russians didn't win a landslide for Trump, why the big deal? Does that mean it's OK to interfere with another country's elections? Putin has pointed out the US is hypocritical in that regard. He's right that US administrations have secretly done this. But it was probably illegal. This goes on year after year. look at Iran Contra. Look at the Bush administration. Many officials in the Bush administration to use one example were never prosecuted for crimes for which there was ample public evidence. If it's OK, maybe we ought to just extend Citizen's United to allow any foreign government to pour in as much money as they like to finance our elections and just be up-front about it.

But maybe Russian hacked the Democratic servers and e-mails as a favor to Trump. Trump has plenty of deals and connections to Putin and his government. It just happened that their favor hit paydirt for trump and tipped the scales just far enough. It was still illegal.

A False Narrative

A false narrative and one that has become accepted by endless repetition.

The Russians did not hack the election. Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee Monday morning (March 20), NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers and FBI Director Comey stated that there was no evidence that Russians manipulated election machines to affect the election outcome. What we do know about the vote in Michigan, due to the halted recounted, is that 37% of precincts had more votes than they had voters. And we also know that Detroit was a place of strong Trump support.

Fair point

OK. Fair point. The Russians didn't hack any voting machines. What I meant was that it 's been pretty well proven that Russian counterintelligence was behind the hacking of the Clinton and DNC servers and Clinton campaign Chair John Podesta's e-mails and the subsequent release of the hacks.

And you're right, the actual hacking earlier in the year is not connected with FBI Director Comey's comment that the hacking was being investigated on the Friday before the election. Still, it does make one wonder. I assume Mr. Comey made a mistake and that his comments were not intended to influence the election in some way.

Mr. Comey may vindicate himself yet if his agency learns that there was or is a connection between the Trump campaign and the Russian hacking.

Are you kidding?

A 2% advantage in presidential popular votes is HUGE in the United States! Clinton won--in Trump's lingo--by a YYUUGE amount.

George W. Bush "won" (by Supreme Court vote majority) in 2000, but Al Gore really won, by about 500,000 citizen votes. Compared to the three million Hillary Clinton had over the Trump total in 2016.

And: What, precisely, was "the truth" in the Clinton campaign emails, besides routine campaign matters? No crimes, and nothing outside the ordinary partisan vitriol (including some criticism of the candidate herself by campaign insiders; gossip really for most of us). In the much-ballyhooed private server emails Clinton used while Secretary of State: There was nothing wrong there! No crime! Not even a bit of information that was--at that time--marked "Classified." Compare that to what General Petraeus did with his computer files: shared them with his adulterous lover, for her book on him. Strangely, he didn't go to jail for it.

Give us a break. Just because the Trump campaign made lots of noise about "the email scandal," doesn't mean we have any information that there was anything wrong. Much less criminal.

The Trump scandal is about possible ties between Trump's campaign staff and advisors, and the Russians. Maybe even between Donald J. Trump himself and this or that Russian. They don't want that rock turned over, because they know what's under it, and it probably ain't pretty. Their Russian connectioons might even be criminal.

Trump folk and the Republicans generally are insisting we concentrate on the messenger--the leaker or leakers--rather than the message. Which is not Clinton emails, but massive cyberhacking and the contacts or collaboration with Russian attempts to derail our election, by Trump's campaign. Even maybe Trump himself.

If you think the Russians pushing our election one way, and collaborating with one of our presidential candidates in that push, is not a larger and more dangerous matter than "who leaked?" then you and I really, really have different values.

It takes a poorly ...

It takes a poorly run campaign to win the popular vote by 2% and lose the election; it is unprecedented. If I wanted to win Wisconsin, I would show up there more than zero times during the general election. I am not a politician, but that seems kind of basic.

Regarding emails, the most damaging revealed how Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton colluded to deny Bernie Sanders a fair shot at the nomination. As you may recall, Wasserman Schultz resigned in the wake of this scandal. It didn't do a lot for party unity nor for getting Bernie supporters to vote for Hillary. Susan Sarandon had a fair bit to say about it.

Read about Wasserman Schultz in the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hacked-emails-cast-doubt-on-hope...

There is still a lot of Russia blaming, but the narrative is short on hard facts.

I remember when Republicans

I remember when Republicans we pounding on DNC and Podesta’s e-mails, Democrats were trying to deflect attention to the Russians as hackers. Now they are trying to deflect attention from leakers from Trump WH to Trump. Consistency is the key! I also wonder what should be done about collaboration between NBC and WaPo in leaking a ten year old Trump’s tape… I guess saying that Clinton had never done anything wrong (along with accusing all Republicans of racism) got Trump elected (at least, partially).

The point is that they

The point is that they couldn't get Clinton herself on anything! It was Podesta, or the DNC chair, etc.,but not a misstep by her. Check the eleven-hour stint Clinton performed in unsuccessful questioning by Goudy, on the unproductive and sleazy "Benghazi" marathon that lasted a couple of years with: no Clinton wrongdoing. Nevetheless, Steve Miller led Trump-rally chants of "Lock her up!" (for what, we still don't know).

Hillary Clinton, who is a reader (Trump never reads more than newspaper articles about himself, by his own admission), reveals her subtle intellect by stating her belief in the conclusion that we ALL--not just Republicans--are implicit racists. That's America, as she knows, and we ALL, including herself, have to deal with it.

And: there is a categorical difference between Russians intervening in the U.S. election by spreading misinformation--as they routinely do in Eastern Europe, in formerly Soviet-bloc countries that have tried to democratize in the past 25 years--and Debbby Wasserman trying to push the scales for one of the two candidates for her party's nomination. We have to remember that Bernie Sanders was not a Democrat in the first place; he just caucused with Congressional Democrats until he decided to run for President in late 2015.

"they couldn't get Clinton herself"

"they couldn't get Clinton herself", but yet they kept her from winning the election.

Perhaps Hillary rearranged the chairs before she knew she was sailing on the Titanic. Wasserman-Schultz, a former Clinton campaign manager, became DNC Chair after Tim Kaine stepped aside. Now Clinton had herself a campaign manager inside the DNC and Kaine had himself a spot on the presidential ticket. It doesn't take much to figure out two plus two, unless you already have a different answer.

Bernie didn't deserve fairness from the Democrats because he was an outsider. That's good, except it sunk her ship.

There were many

“Not a misstep by her (Clinton)?” Then why didn’t she win the election? If she didn’t do anything wrong, was it her message that people didn’t like? And not being criminally charged is way different than not doing anything wrong… So how does being an American make us all racists? Guilt by association? And not even with certain people but with the past? Are all Europeans anti-Semites? Doesn’t make any sense… And what misinformation did Russians spread? That DNC wanted Clinton to win? But that was true. On the other hand, the media was continuously spreading misinformation about Trump (racist, xenophobe, sexist, etc.)

There is a difference:

There has never been any legal charge against Hillary Clinton for any crime or misdemeanor. Despite all the dirt thrown at her, all the vile false accusations.

Her not winning the electoral college total (despite solidly winning the election in popular votes) is the CONSEQUENCE of the truly ugly, vicious screaming against her that Trump's people (staff and fans at rallies) made into the main campaign theme.

Many factors went into her losing the Electoral College votes, some of which involved Russian meddling in our campaign to help Trump win and possible Trump staff collusion on that. Some involved her campaign mistakes. Some was just plain resentment of an intellectual and political elite she represents, and misogyny--that old hatred and fear of women theme .

"the truth"

Your question, “What, precisely, was "the truth" in the Clinton campaign emails, besides routine campaign matters?” If collusion within the national committee to deny a candidate a fair shot at the nomination is emblematic of your values, then yes we do really have different values.

“ Just because the Trump campaign made lots of noise about "the email scandal," doesn't mean we have any information that there was anything wrong.”

As the title of this column aptly suggests, “Democrats want an all-out war”. They find themselves where they are because they were warring amongst themselves without regard to the rules of warfare, and they put forward a flawed candidate who ran a dismal campaign that assumed voters would show up and check the box marked “D”. That is a provincial notion from an obsolete paradigm.

Speaking of that rock

Many people who know more about these things than me say one simple and easy to thing the president could do to bring a halt to all the "Russia blaming" (and "leaker outrage") would be to release the income tax returns he's filed over the last few years.

But until that happens, and until Congress, the FBI, NSA, CIA -- most of the U.S. intelligence community -- gets done investigating Russia's interference in the election and any involvement on the part of people in and around the president's campaign and Cabinet, anyone who didn't hear it MIGHT be interested in reading or watching Adam Schiff's opening statement in Monday's Intelligence Committee hearing.

Especially his summary of "some of the matters drawn from public sources," as he put it.

That summary can be read or watched here:

www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2017/03/20/intelligence-committee-leader...

(The video is at the end of the summary)

His full statement can be read here:

http://time.com/4706721/read-rep-adam-schiffs-opening-statement-on-russi...

As far as the things the pubic record points out being "short on hard facts" goes, how should a person categorize the firing of campaign manager Paul Manafort, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the under oath and repeated "misstatements" of Attorney General Jeff Sessions when viewed in the context of the above?

And, given the nature of the extraordinary possibilities, would anyone say that whatever leaking is involved was as, or more, important than the subject of those leaks if the subject turned out to be true, real, backed up by "hard facts"?

And what about this part of Adam Schiff's statement?

"Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated, and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt U.S. persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere. We simply don’t know, not yet, and we owe it to the country to find out."

Is he right? Or should we just assume it's all conspiracy theory fake news, a witch hunt being pushed by Democrats who can't get over losing the election, forget about it, let it go and move on?

Your source?

Your source is "Many people who know more about these things"? Tell these many people that the government has all of his tax returns, and that they had them when he was merely candidate Trump. I am sure that a judge has granted investigators a look at them.

This story tells about some Presidential picks that didn't pan out. Timothy Geithner gets an honorable mention for becoming secretary of treasury in 2009 even though he got caught for nonpayment of taxes.

https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2017-01-11/4-key-time...

Investigations will be conducted and findings will be reported. In the meantime, let the Russia speculations continue.

Excuse me

I must not have been clear. I thought from your comments that you were familiar with the way in which the president releasing his tax returns (which he promised to do during the campaign but is now refusing to do) could help clear up some of the controversy related to whether or not he has any financial dealings with Russia or Russian individuals.

When I said people who know more about it than me, I was referring to the relative multitude of articles that have been published on this aspect of the phenomena. Here's a link to one of them. A search on something along the lines of "How Trump releasing his tax returns could help clear up Russian controversy" will bring up an extensive list.

www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-russia-tax-returns_us_58a60f68e4b0760...

I looked at the article you referenced but didn't see any examples of anyone being fired because of the disclosure of their connections and dealings with people associated with the Russian government.

And I'm not so sure about any investigators having been given permission to look at the president's tax returns. From what I can gather, the administration and Republicans in Congress are working hard to prevent that from happening. But if you have information on which investigators have been given that access, or links that show that to be the case, be sure to let us know.

Audits

The IRS audits Donald Trump every year because of the size of his business. If he was doing something illegal, we would all know about it (it would be part of public records).

Because he is an international businessman, he has contacts and transactions in many countries - Russia is likely included among them. So what? Did this just clear something up. If Russia is not among them, the issue is closed? That is laughable.

So what?

Well . . . I'm not sure you're quite getting the part about the potential problems his worldwide transactions that may include Russian folks might present (or not), and what light his tax returns would shed on that, no matter how legal his returns prove to be (or not). You might want to take a look at this article (from last July) for a little more insight on that aspect of things.

www.washingtonpost.com/politics/inside-trumps-financial-ties-to-russia-a...

Another place those global business dealings could be a problem has to do with something else you might want to take a look at when you've got a little time: That thing in the Constitution called "the emoluments clause" and how our president MAY have been violating it since he took the oath of office (or not).

Just add his name to the beginning of that phrase in a search and see what pops up.

Or if you're not up for that, here's one of the (many) stories that goes into it:

"What is the ‘Emoluments Clause’? Does it apply to President Trump?"

www.washingtonpost.com/politics/what-is-the-emoluments-clause-does-it-ap...

You may come to (or already have come to) the conclusion that's all laughable too, but what the heck? It's always good to have something to read, no?

Thanks for the Reading Assignments

Here is one for you, from the Yale Journal of Regulations

Should Congress Impeach Obama for His Emoluments Clause Violations?

http://yalejreg.com/nc/should-congress-impeach-obama-for-his-emoluments-...

U of M Law Proffessor Richard W. Painter (S. Walter Richey Professor of Corporate Law), who graduated
Harvard University, B.A. and Yale Law School, J.D. argues the definition of emoluments that make Obama guilty of impeachable offenses. But that is all in the past; we are interested in impeaching this President!

Trump's tax returns

The IRS may not legally reveal to anyone the tax returns of a citizen or resident of the United States of America. Only Donald J. Trump may reveal--release to public scrutiny--his tax returns. He has refused to do so, despite campaign promises to do so.

Oh I forgot! A week or two ago a former NY Times reporter (known to Trump, who lived in NYC at the time the reporter did financial journalism for that paper) received "over the ransom" or unsolicited, two pages of Trump's 2005 tax return. The pages were stamped "Client's Copy." There is general acceptance of the idea that Donald J. Trump himself had those two pages "leaked" to a newspaper of record. Because it showed that he did pay some federal tax that year, where here we all thought his gigantic bankruptcy debt in a prior year would keep him from having to pay any federal tax for many years.

That 2005 two-page 1040 form showed that Trump paid tax only because of the Alternative Minimum Tax provision in the tax code, which exists so millionaires don't get away with paying no taxes (in this case, on Trump's more than $150 million income in 2005). Of course, the Alternative Minimum Tax is a tax code feature that Donald J. Trump has proposed be eliminated.

He serves himself first. And it's his decision to hide his tax returns, or not.

Over the Transom?

I see we can speculate about what Trump may or may not have done, but that cannot be done for Hillary, her hands are clean in the DNC collusion against Bernie.

So it seems that Trump leaked his own tax return. That makes sense, as the document was brought forward and revealed by Trump surrogate Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.

Denial is a really bad basis for politics

You can't "compromise" with people or groups that will only accept capitulation. If Klobuchar thinks she can buy a place at the republican table or cooperation from any of these nominees with her vote she's deluding herself; and that delusion has been a democrat problem for a couple decades now, it's a delusion that managed to make a republican party that couldn't organize a one man parade the most powerful political party in America today. Republicans will just take Klobuchar's vote and demand more.

Worse, Klobuchar is telling us that she doesn't vote for nominees based on their actual qualifications, rather she'll vote for unqualified nominees for specious reasons. Does she really think putting poorly qualified nominees where they can wreak havoc on the agencies their supposed to run is better than leaving the seat open until a qualified candidate is nominated? And since all of these nominees will get seated without her vote anyways, what's the point of consenting to incompetence?

The bipartisan ship ran aground long ago, it's not "threatening" to run aground now because some democrats have finally realized that sometimes you just have to defeat your opponents and initiatives. We can all hope that bipartisan governance of some kind returns to American politics someday but in the meantime democrats should have long ago realized that they were dealing people who have no shame, no integrity, and no interest in sharing power. Obama squandered his popular support by reaching across the "aisle" with the bizarre expectation that he'd get some cooperation from a part full of magical thinkers who were obviously planning to stall he presidency in any way they could. The result was that Obama's popularity began a slow decent while republicans captured elections all over the country for the next 8 years. Klobuchar was there, she should have learned the lesson.

Poorly framed premise for an article

I think the premise for the article is poorly framed and obscures the political reality we're trying to work with.

Few if any democrats or liberals consider "compromise" and bipartisan cooperation to be four letter words. In fact one could argue that on the contrary democrats have wasted valuable time and political capital with futile attempts at compromise for almost two decades, and some like Klobuchar would contintue to do so.

To the extent that democrats may abandon bipartisan attempts it's not because they no longer believe in cooperative governance, they've just finally accepted the fact that they can't expect any bipartisan cooperation from contemporary republicans, a realization that's long overdue. Democrats would happily accept any substantial cooperation or return to bipartisan governance if republicans offered it, but that kind of political maturity and reality based problem solving was taken off the table by republicans long ago. We can all hope that reality based republicans make a come-back some day but in the meantime we have face facts and work accordingly.

The proper frame of reference for this discussion can't be the "imminent" collapse of bipartisan governance since bipartisan governance collapsed long ago. Feisty democrats who want war can't collapse something that's already lying in a heap of debris. Such framing might satisfy a requirement for "objective" style reporting, but in reality it a assumes a false equivalence that obscures political reality.

What we really have here is a situation where some democrats have finally realized that cooperative governance with the republicans is simply not possible at this time. (Again, we can all hope it will possible at some point in the future). Those democrats that are facing this reality aren't succumbing to a belief that words like "compromise" are bad words, they're just working the problem given current political reality. Reality based problem solving is good thing, not a bad thing.

By the way, this is what Sanders is talking about when he advocates "revolution"; on a basic level it's just a call to acknowledge political reality in America today and take substantial and necessary steps to change it. The divide in the democratic party today isn't between warmongers and negotiators, it's between democrats who recognized the need for substantial and somewhat radical change, and those who are still invested in the status quo and think they can make the status quo work. THAT's the frame of reference that discussion should flow out of.

Another problem with Klobuchar's rationale

If Klobuchar really does vote for nominees thinking that her vote buys her some attention or cooperation once a nominee gets confirmed, she's actually promoting disfunctional government. The idea that once confirmed, these people can only be expected to work with those who voted for them is a new and extremely toxic assumption that no one, much less democrats, should be normalizing in any way. Such assumptions actually turn the whole process of Senate confirmation on it's head. Public officials are supposed to work with everyone... why would anyone want to change that to a system that give's officials a litmus test to wield against those who didn't vote a certain way?

Getting back to the whole bipartisan problem these kinds of attempts at conciliation and compromise by democrats have actually contributed to the collapse of cooperative government by normalizing toxic partisan expectations. The narrative that someone like Klobuchar is seeking bipartisan cooperation by a acceding to partisan demands is a logical non-sequitur. The act of capitulating to partisan demands can only weaken bipartisan cooperation. Klobuchar can't break down partisan barriers by normalizing partisan barriers.

So again, we're back to the fact that any attempt to frame this discussion as battle of some kind between democrats like Klobuchar who believe in bipartisan governance against some other democrats who don't believe in bipartisan governance is simply incoherent.

Bipartisan governance cannot be the objective in-and-of itself for democrats because it's already collapsed. The objective has to be the promotion of rational policies and the enactment of laws based on those policies with or without republican cooperation or despite the lack of republican cooperation. This is the political reality given the fact that republicans have refused to cooperate with rational policy initiatives for over two decades now.

Please confirm

Will you please confirm your position: Democrats have never done anything to ruin bipartisanship and it is all Republicans’ fault? And all policies promoted by Democrats are rational and all policies promoted by Republicans are irrational? They usually say that it is impossible for one side in a conflict to be totally wrong…

“Obama squandered his popular support by reaching across the "aisle" with the bizarre expectation that he'd get some cooperation from a part full of magical thinkers who were obviously planning to stall he presidency in any way they could. The result was that Obama's popularity began a slow decent while republicans captured elections all over the country for the next 8 years.” So all those people who switched their votes from Democrats to Republicans in the last 8 years did so because they thought that Obama tried to cooperate too much with Republicans? I just can’t see any logic here…

Of course there's no logic there.

Some of us believe that those Democrats who voted for Trump did so for emotional reasons. Very complex emotions not based on facts, but perceptions.

And misinformation--that Russian thing that curiously there seem to be a lot of people not wanting us to examine very closely. I mean, the FBI and the rest of our intelligence community agree: the Russians used massive and varied attempts to influence the way Americans perceived their democracy last year. They fed the "alternative media" with lies, etc.

Lots to this, so we should avoid reductionism, Ilya.

Democrats who Voted for Trump

What sunk Hillary was Democrats who didn't vote for her. We know that Bernie Sanders got over 18,000 votes in Vermont; he got votes in all 50 states. Some Democrats voted for others and some stayed away from the polls.

What should have been abundantly obvious to anyone paying attention, is that she was a loser from the start. Hillary was a deeply flawed candidate, carrying more baggage than an Airbus A380. Her opponent, arguably flawed too, was defeatable, but not by her. It was called and explained right here on MinnPost (link below) two years before the election, before there was a Trump candidacy. It was her turn, and the DNC agreed, colluding against Bernie to seal the nomination. There was some isolated outrage, like Susan Sarandon, but for the most part y'all went along for the ride and arrived surprised at the inevitable destination.

https://www.minnpost.com/eric-black-ink/2014/11/does-history-show-hillar...

Who is opposed to examining "that Russian thing"? Please cite a reference for that.

President Trump doesn't want

President Trump doesn't want us to delve into "that Russian thing." Are you listening to him, at all?

Just a quick note about democrat votes

There weren't a lot of democrats who actually voted for Trump, it was "independent" votes that put Trump over the line (in the battle ground states). Democrats who didn't want to vote for Clinton tended to vote third party, or not vote at all, at least for president.

But yeah, while I can understand perfectly the reluctance or even refusal to vote for Clinton, I have yet to comprehend any vote for Trump that could be anything other than stupid or ignorant. I'm not trying to insult anyone but I've been talking to, reading, and listening to Trump voters for months now and I just can't find a way to convert that vote into any semblance of an intelligent decision.

The most popular reasons for voting trump seem to have been:

1) He's speaks his mind
2) He's not a politician
3) He knows how to run a business
4) He'll work for the little guy (i.e. create jobs, etc.)
5) He'll "secure" America (i.e. the wall, closed borders etc.)

In short: When he speaks his mind he reveals almost incomprehensible levels of ignorance and stupidity. My dog isn't politician, should we put him on the ballot? Trump's "businesses" have failed spectacularly all over the world to the tune of billions of dollars. To the extent that Trump is wealthy, he's built that wealth by screwing "little guys" all over the world be they contractors, investors, or bank depositors. There has not been a single terrorist attack or any other kind of attack launched in this country by an illegal immigrant who sneaked across the US-Mexico border. Violent crime in and around immigrant communities and among immigrants regardless of documentation is lower than that found among people who were born in the US. Security regimes organized around walls and religious discrimination are obviously based on an incoherent understanding of "security" and will inevitably decrease security and endanger those who are supposed to be protected.

There are other reasons of course but they all have the same basic characteristic in common: They are either ignorant on their face, i.e. he's not a politician; or they rely on ignorance: i.e. Sure, he says he'll work for little guys, but you have to stupid to actually believe that he'll work for anyone other than himself if he gets elected. The guy has NEVER in his life EVER worked for anyone else, what makes you think he'll start doing it now? The guys 70 years old and he has absolutely no record or history of any public service if any kind. Since elected he's clearly remained preoccupied with himself and his own fortunes be they political or financial.

If you're a Trump voter and any of this surprises you... If you're a Trump voter and NONE of this bothers you... Either way, "smart" doesn't make it into the equation.

My favorite quote (so far)

Last week I heard a brief radio snip of a supporter who said, "I hate Obamacare and don't care if they repeal it and take it away from me because I'm gonna be getting my coal job back."

A (relatively) good MPR program

I was listening to MPR tonight and the topic of an hour long discussion was why voters vote against their own self-interests (of course, the point was to talks about Trump voters so they asked those from the Red states to call with explanations). Many people did and the basic idea was that the country was going in the wrong direction and they, as patriots, were ready to sacrifice their own immediate interests in the name of the country (remember, think of what you can do for your country?) and, on the other hand, they think that in the long run this will be in their own best interests when economy grows (so sure, if one has a good job, no Obamacare and food stamps would be required). In other words, those people, contrary to liberal beliefs, think and vote the way they think they should. And I am not even talking about those people being afraid to discuss their preferences or not being listened to by their liberal friends which added insult to injury. So maybe they are not that stupid? By the way, would anyone believe that Clinton cared about little guys?

Yes

I'm saying republicans and their conservative supporters have demolished cooperative government (for the time being). It's important to understand that a collapse of "bipartisan" governance does NOT require inflexible partisanship by everyone involved. In any cooperative endeavor, specially those involving only two participants, the recalcitrance of one participant is sufficient AND necessary to scuttle bipartisan governance. By definition compromise requires everyone's participation. Compromise between to participants fails if either refuses to compromise. It's false equivalence to assume that any breakdown in a cooperative process requires intransigence on all or both sides. While that kind of breakdown can happen, it's not how the collapse of bipartisan governance came about in the US over the last three decades.

Republicans started shutting the government down on State and Federal levels back in the 90's by refusing to compromise, and they and they alone refused to hold confirmation hearings for Obama's SCOTUS nominee. We may well see today the fact that republicans can't even compromise with each other in order to pass legislation.

Now, republicans always disagree and try to point to examples of democratic intransigence, but those attempts always end up revealing the fact that such republicans and their supporters simply have no coherent concept of cooperation beyond getting what they want. Furthermore, republican denials are always ironic in the sense that they deny responsibility for a divided government that they've been seeking to create for decades... ironic because these are supposed to the: "personal responsibility" guys. In essence, they finally get the government they've been dreaming about and fighting for for decades... and now they deny being responsible for it. Heh.