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Counterintelligence

When I was in the military, many years ago, I was in military intelligence. I was trained as a battlefield interrogator, which meant that between 1991 and 1995 I did nothing remotely related to my training. In my military intelligence unit, in addition to the “human intelligence” operatives (the interrogators), we also had soldiers trained as counterintelligence specialists, as well as signals interception and...

Power and the House of Representatives

It’s not just your impression. It really is harder to lead the US government today. Trump is in the news bashing the Freedom Caucus. But the inability of the House Speaker to pass bills is not just personality or talent. It is structural. In the “old days” before Nixon, the Speaker of the House had significant power over the rest of the legislature. He (it was always a he back then) could make or break the...

The Obstruction of the House Freedom Caucus

The House Freedom Caucus will sink Trump. These are hardcore, fundamentalist Republicans. They refuse to “compromise” on anything. If they get anything less than 100% of what they want, they vote against. This is the kind of obstruction that made it impossible for Boehner to do anything with Obama (remember the Grand Bargain from 2011, when Obama was going to trade entitlement reforms for higher taxes/balanced...

The Republican dilemma

The biggest problem for Republicans is that the policies they stand for are not actually very popular, even among their base. I’m not talking about the identity stuff, which is quite popular. I mean economic policy: massive tax cuts for the rich, ending the estate tax (which only kicks in above $5 million), removing health care, reducing or eliminating social security and medicare. None of this stuff is popular –...

Can we impeach Trump for events during the campaig...

The Constitution provides that the President can be impeached by the House for “high crimes and misdemeanors” (upon impeachment he/she is then tried by the Senate, with the maximum penalty removal from office with a lifetime ban on public service). The Constitution is silent on when the crimes need to have been committed. As is so often the case in these Constitutional gray areas, the framers intended (as...

Is Ken Buck interested in constituent input?

So today I called my Representative, Ken Buck (R-CO) – a Tea Party Republican – to share my thoughts on the health care act. And of course my call goes to voice mail. I say “of course” because every time I call his office, it goes to voice mail, and I leave a message. But today I get a “mailbox full” message. I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Is this a “tired of hearing...

Echoes of the USSR

Today the Washington post is reporting that the White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to be Trump’s eyes and ears. This is reminiscent of the Soviet “political advisors” who were embedded in all departments of the government of the USSR and were paired with military officers at all units to ensure loyalty to the Communist Party. Cross a political advisor and you go to the gulag. Meanwhile the...

Blocking Gorsuch

How should Democratic Senators vote on Neil Gorsuch? This is an interesting question. On the one hand, Gorsuch is undoubtedly qualified, so this would suggest that Democrats have to vote for him, since his credentials are impeccable. And in normal times, that would be the end of it. However, these are not normal times. Because if qualifications were all that mattered, Merrick Garland would be sitting on the Supreme Court...