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House Democrats soon will meet to plan for the new session of Congress that starts in January. There are many decisions to be made such as picking who will be the Speaker of the House and who will serve in the other key roles. House Democrats will also scrum over who gets what committee chairman seats and whether to change any of the legislative procedures or other rules. It will be contentious for sure, as these biannual gatherings always are.….(Read more)


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Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, our leaders have had the duty to draw on the government’s public health expertise and vast trove of data on COVID-19 to both explain the threat and teach us practices to diminish the damage it can cause. Instead, President Donald Trump downplayed the virus, likening it to seasonal influenza and saying it would go away by Easter. He sent conflicting messages about the value of shutdowns, social distancing, and masks. He used White House pandemic briefings to show videos that were blatant advertisements for his presidential campaign…. (Read more)


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I first paid attention to an election and participated in one in 1988 — long ago. Every election is different, and the 2000 Gore v. Bush experience was rough.

But this autumn’s contests have me on the edge of my seat.

For sure, I am curious to see which candidate will win the presidency, and who will win in the various congressional elections.

But I also am intrigued to see how well the elections system performs. And I use that word “system” loosely — there are more than 178,000 voting precincts in this country, and these precincts are scattered over 6,500 jurisdictions. America has national elections but these elections are administered locally, and local officials have great discretion to set policy about who votes, when, and how….(Read more)


The US Postal Service (USPS) generally does not make much news, but it burst into the headlines
during the summer of 2020. The media and social media were suddenly full of allegations that the
Donald Trump administration has unleashed “attacks” designed to “cripple” the Postal Service
to justify its eventual privatization and undermine the election….(Read more)


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Article I of the U.S. Constitution assigns Congress many significant authorities over foreign policy. The legislature may “regulate commerce with foreign nations,” and “define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations”… (Read more)


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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at the Democratic National Convention, Denver, Colorado, August 25–28, 2008. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith. Source: Library of Congress.

America is way deep into the presidential race, and the party conventions are fast approaching. Democrats gather in Milwaukee on August 17 and Republican start their whoop-up a week later.

In the coming weeks, the media will produce an ocean of purple prose on these Cow Palace jamborees. If the past is prologue, much of the media coverage will be dreck. Why this is so is illuminated by Joan Didion’s clear-eyed essay, “Insider Baseball” (1988).

Partially, it is a product of the conventions being a multi-day hooplas where the end is preordained. They are, as Jay Cost notes, “spectacles,” shows scripted for producing narratives. Additionally, It is not easy to fill great chasms of air time and column space when so much of what is happening is unremarkable: various hyper partisan individuals mulling about with one another while waiting for some political figure to take the stage to gas bag — -often at painful lengths — — about the evils of the other party’s nominee and the gloriousness of the home team’s pick. Making such bland fare appealing to any viewers and readers necessitates that politicos and media alike contrive excitement. Even their most successful efforts — -think Pat Buchanan’s culture war speech — — fail to attract notice beyond the elite political class, the very small percentage of the population who pays any attention. …


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America is way deep into the presidential race, and the party conventions are fast approaching. Democrats gather in Milwaukee on August 17 and Republican start theirs a week later.

In the coming weeks, the media will produce an ocean of purple prose on these Cow Palace jamborees. If the past is prologue, much of the media coverage will be dreck. Why this is so is illuminated by Joan Didion’s clear-eyed essay, “Insider Baseball” (1988).

Partially, it is a product of the conventions being a multi-day hooplas where the end is preordained. They are, as Jay Cost notes, “spectacles,” shows scripted for producing narratives. Additionally, It is not easy to fill great chasms of air time and column space when so much of what is happening is unremarkable: various hyper partisan individuals mulling about with one another while waiting for some political figure to take the stage to gas bag — often at painful lengths — about the evils of the other party’s nominee and the gloriousness of the home team’s pick. Making such bland fare appealing to any viewers and readers necessitates that politicos and media alike contrive excitement. Even their most successful efforts — think Pat Buchanan’s culture war speech — fail to attract notice beyond the elite political class, the very small percentage of the population who pays any attention….(Read …


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The recent reports on President Trump’s foreign policy efforts have been brutal. A few weeks ago excerpts from a book by John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, portrayed the President floundering at foreign policy — terribly.

John and Jane Q. Public have learned that Russia, whose autocratic leader the President has been solicitous, paid bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops. Also revealed last week was that Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders often have been wet hot messes, complete with rambling, misstatements of fact, and counterproductive results. Were all that not enough, Americans have been reminded that the President’s much ballyhooed courting of North Korea failed. …


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The autumn issue of Presidential Studies Quarterly carries my review of Josh Chafetz’s engaging and erudite book, Congress’s Constitution. The essay begins:

“How should we understand Congress’s power vis-à-vis the other branches of government? This is no academic matter, as indicated by the recent interbranch battles concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and expenditure of appropriated funds on a border wall. Josh Chafetz of Cornell Law School tackles this big question in Congress’s Constitution. He structures his inquiry by first advising readers on how to think about interbranch conflict, and whether Congress can be expected to be an active contestant in such battles (Chapters 1 and 2). Chafetz then spends the great portion of his book laying out the powers of Congress and explicating how they can and have been used (Chapters 3 through 8). …


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Source: USAToday.com.

Three out of five elections since 2000 have been close. And now we’re dealing with a pandemic.

Recent polls show President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in a virtual tie in national polls. State polls show the race as a tossup. Come November, the country may find itself in a situation where neither candidate has sufficient electors (270) to win.

This is where Congress comes in. The 12th Amendment requires it to settle contingent elections. The process requires members of the House of Representatives to vote for the president; and the Senate votes for the vice president. Since the passage of the 12th Amendment, Congress has decided two elections: In 1825, the House chose John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson, who had won a plurality of the popular vote and 99 electors to Adams’ 85. In 1877, Congress intervened after a dispute over ballots in a handful southern states, forming the Federal Election Commission and ultimately granting victory to Rutherford B. …

About

Kevin R Kosar

Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC. My books: Congress Overwhelmed (2020) and… See http://kevinrkosar.com

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