Editorial: Elections matter. Our government is out of whack

Elections have consequences.

That will be on stark display in the days, weeks and perhaps months ahead as President Trump, Congress and the nation battle over the replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

We speak to Democrats today because our government is out of whack. At a time when Republicans control two branches of government and are about to lock up the third, there is a desperate need to politically rebalance the nation — to return to a centrist equilibrium.

For left-leaning Democrats, that means remembering that political purity must not become the enemy of party survival. And for California Democrats, that means remembering that the rest of the nation isn’t like the Left Coast.

We are at a moment where issues once thought resolved — none more so than abortion rights — are potentially back in play with Trump’s second nomination to the Supreme Court.

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Kennedy has repeatedly been the swing vote on the high court, providing liberals victories on abortion access, same-sex marriage, the environment and limits on capital punishment. And backing conservatives on gun rights, unlimited campaign spending and Trump’s travel ban.

With Kennedy gone, Trump’s nominee will almost certainly cement the conservative majority. And looming in the background is the question of how much longer liberal, 85-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will stick around — how much longer until Trump has yet another pick.

Democrats will cry foul. They will rightfully point out that President Obama two years ago was denied even a hearing on his nominee, Merrick Garland, to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

They are correct that if the no-hearings-in-an-election-year standard was appropriate in 2016, it should be the standard again today. The fact is …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Democrats cannot win the fight to replace Justice Kennedy. They can only prepare for the next battle.

The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court finally brings the 2016 election to fruition. While the consequences of electing a Republican president with Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress were understood clearly at the time, they were hypotheticals for some unspecified time in the future.

That time has arrived.

As President Trump prepares to cement a solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court for the first time in decades, and likely for many years into the future, all of the factions of the American left are asking the same question: How can this be stopped?

Here is the answer: It can’t.

While it would be wonderful to learn that some heretofore secret Senate parliamentary trick could be unveiled at the last second to bring about a Hollywood ending, such a thing does not exist. The intellectual and emotional energy of people who oppose Republican rule will be better spent focusing on how to move forward from here. The correct question is not “How can we stop this?” It is “How do we fix it?”

The Democratic Party simply isn’t in a position to stop this conservative takeover of the Supreme Court without the filibuster, and even with the filibuster rule in place the Democratic leadership has shown little to no inclination to fight. Furthermore, the Senate Democratic caucus right now includes several members running for re-election in Trump-won states — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and more — who can hardly be counted on for a bare-knuckle fight. Even if Chuck Schumer decided to die on this hill, he’d face defections from the likes of Doug Jones.

What little Senate Democrats can do is delay — not stop — the impending confirmation process. Tony Madonna, professor of political science and expert on …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


Three states, gas-tax repeal, rent control and property tax breaks for seniors: What is on — and off — the ballot

SACRAMENTO — Californians will vote this fall on such sweeping questions as whether to split the state into three and repeal a new transportation tax generating $5 billion per year — but they won’t be weighing in on lead paint clean-up, internet privacy or a proposal to make it harder to raise local taxes.

Struck from the list of 12 November ballot measures — finalized late Thursday — were contentious proposals nixed after agreements with the Legislature.

In a surprise twist, Sherwin-Williams, ConAgra and NL Industries balked at placing a $2 billion environmental cleanup initiative on the November ballot — an effort to reverse an unfavorable ruling on a landmark case that found them liable for lead-paint cleanup, a widely criticized tactic that some lawmakers called “unprecedented.” In exchange, lawmakers agreed to continue discussing legislation related to the clean-up of older homes and to put on hold bills they had introduced in response to the initiative.

“We pushed back against the lead paint industry and won,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, in a statement. “Their effort to trick voters into paying for the harm they caused had to be stopped.”

Also yanked was an internet privacy measure, after the Legislature passed a similar proposal that doesn’t take effect until 2020.

And — after much hand-wringing — lawmakers agreed to ban new local soda taxes through 2030 if proponents of a constitutional amendment to make it even harder for local governments to raise taxes dropped that measure. The agreement with the soda industry elicited disgust from both sides of the aisle before it passed on Thursday, but its passage avoided what Democratic lawmakers calculated to be a worse fate for local government budgets.

“This is a pick-your-poison sort of situation, a Sophie’s Choice if you will,” state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Rep. Waters cancels events due to death threats

By Felicia Sonmez | Washington Post

Rep. Maxine Waters, whose call for public protests of Trump administration officials has triggered a debate over civility in politics, said Thursday that she has canceled events in Texas and Alabama this weekend after a “very serious death threat” made against her.

In a statement reported by CNN, the California Democrat said that after President Donald Trump took aim at her Monday on Twitter, “even more individuals are leaving threatening messages and sending hostile mail to my office.”

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“There was one very serious death threat made against me on Monday from an individual in Texas which is why my planned speaking engagements in Texas and Alabama were cancelled this weekend,” Waters said in the statement.

A Waters spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.

Waters had been scheduled to speak Saturday morning at the annual legislative conference of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women in Birmingham, Alabama. The organization’s president, Karen Camper, told the Alabama news website AL.com that Waters had canceled her appearance because of security concerns.

The details of Waters’ Texas event were not immediately known.

Waters has been rebuked by Republicans and Democrats after calling at a Los Angeles rally last weekend for demonstrators to harass Trump’s Cabinet officials wherever they go amid an escalating debate over immigration policy.

Taking to Twitter, Trump fired back by calling Waters “an extraordinarily low IQ person” and warning her to “be careful what you wish for.”

According to CNN, Waters said in the statement that Capitol Police are investigating several other threats in which people have vowed “to shoot, lynch, or cause me serious bodily harm.”

Eva Malecki, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, said the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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