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Confounding and confusing events 11/28/22

It appears that Justice Alito was the source of a tip from the Hobby Lobby case decided several years ago. Apparently, a minister who was close to those advocating for the Hobby Lobby position has identified himself and the fact that Alito aligned with leaked the decision. It makes a great deal of sense since this decision along with the Roe decision came from the same right-wing philosophic base that Alito is Elijah who leaked the Roe decision. It’s always interesting when the self-righteous are caught. Rob Schenck who identifies himself as a “once right-wing religious leader”, but now descenting evangelical voice was involved in the process and disclosed Alito’s alleged roll. It appears that a donor and Justice Alito have both denied these allegations. Alito clearly deems himself righteous and above any rules such as lying to members of Congress, during his confirmation process, and leaking Supreme Court decisions.

The day after the majority was secured by the GOP, the Republicans announced that their focus was the inescapability of legislative gridlock and appear to be headed towards Hunter Biden and a series of impeachment crusades. In addition, the Republicans are talking up the prospect of government shutdowns now that they are in control with Representatives saying we are “in a different state of play right now where people will be in part pining for government shutdowns”. Those pining could be the Freedom Caucus and those on the far right in general, but few everyday citizens will be enthused about that process. Having been there when shutdowns occurred, the impact on the military, social security, Medicare, government payroll, and all of those agencies that we need to live our lives safely are negatively impacted. This is unfortunate, and although I understand Republican anger at the Democrats with regard to Mr. Trump and his impeachments, they also know it is going nowhere in the Senate, so they are running up against the same brick wall that the Democrats did. I was never enthused about impeaching Mr. Trump irrespective of what I thought he might be guilty of, because I did not believe most citizens want Congress wasting time on things that cannot be brought to fruition with any type of a positive outcome. The most absurd was Marjorie Taylor-Greene saying that “GOP leaders are, in fact, on board with investigations into the pretrial treatment of January 6th defendants”. Given the number of convictions, this is just mindboggling nonsense.

Reports have surfaced about the US and Chinese trade officials are having discussions about bilateral trade at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings. This could be an important prelude to resolving some of issues and follow up by comments last week about the developing relationship between the Chinese Chairman and our President were encouraging.

Home sales declined for the nineth straight month in October, likely as the result of the highest interest rates in a decade, but also by the continuing fears of recession and inflation.

The results of the 22 mid-terms provide several important pieces of information for the prolife movement. Kentucky, Montana and Michigan, a swing state, voted for prochoice referendums. The abortion issue was the second most important issue for voters behind inflation and 76% for those voters voted democratic. It appears that the prolife group may have won a battle but will ultimately lose the war. Not the outcome they expected.

The negotiations continue with regard to national railroad labor contracts. The latest development has been that the conductor’s union has split with other unions, and rejected a wage

deal that had been brokered by the White House. The engineers, on the other hand, ratified the deal, albert it narrowly. This could be a major disruption to the supply chain and have an adverse impact on inflation if it is not resolved.

Kevin McCarthy has threatened to remove Adam Schiff, Ilhan Omar and Eric Swalwell from their committee assignments. This is clearly retaliation for Marjorie Taylor Greene, and sets up a situation in which this process is likely to ping-pong back and forth as Congress changes hands. I can understand the position relative to representative Omar because it could be perceived by people on the other side of the aisle as not dissimilar to Marjorie Taylor Greene. The Schiff and Swalwell removals present quite a different issue.

It looks like the Republicans, at best, will have a five-seat majority with 222 seats. This is narrow, and could be impacted by two groups, the Freedom Caucus which has 30 to 40 members, and the Problem Solvers which is more in the range of 50 who tend to be moderates, but in truth, have had little impact in past Congresses on either party. This means that the real force is likely going to be the Freedom Caucus. Note several members of this group have said they are no votes for McCarthy as Speaker.

More on Chinese- US relations. Defense officials are meeting which expands a necessary dialogue.

Democrats are moving forward with a leadership transition. This is the last act by a great vote counter, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Bill Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher and Trombley in Plattsburgh, NY and a Strategic Advisor at Dentons to Washington, DC.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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