In martial arts, there is a philosophy of using your opponents’ strength against them. Remember candidate Jon Ossoff (GA-6), candidate now-Congressman Conor Lamb (PA-18) and candidate Danny O’Connor (OH-12) for example. Think of all the PAC money and campaign funds that have been spent this year tying Democratic candidates to Nancy Pelosi (CA-12). In politics, pollsters and pundits talk about unfavorable numbers. I think its probably safe to say that the three politicians with the highest unfavorable are, in alphabetical order, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Donald Trump. Try as Trump may, Hillary Clinton is not on the ballot in the 2018 midterm elections. On November 6, 2018, however, it is easy to make the argument that every vote cast for Congress is a proxy vote for either Pelosi or Trump.
Here are two lists: The first list is, in alphabetical order, Kobe Bryant, Brett Favre, George Foreman, Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry Rice, and Tiger Woods. All five are incredible athletes. The second list, also successful athletes, is Tiki Barber, Jim Brown, Rocky Marciano, Barry Sanders, Robert Smith, and Annika Sorenstam. Given a choice, which list would you want to be on? What do the people on each list have in common? The first list includes athletes that are considered by many to have played too long. Conversely, the second list of athletes are often said to have retired too early in their career.
So, which is Nancy Pelosi? Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi (born March 26, 1940) has represented California’s 12th Congressional district since 1987; Pelosi is currently the 14th most senior member of the House of Representatives and the 7th senior Democrat. Pelosi has been the Democratic Leader of the House since 2003. Her tenure is not only longer than any other Democratic House Leader but also longer than the longest-serving Republican House leaders as well; Robert Mitchel (IL-18) served 14 years as Republican Leader of the House of Representatives from 1981–1995. (For comparison, the longest serving party leaders in the U.S. Senate are Mike Mansfield (D-MT) 16 years as Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate from 1961 to 1977 and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who served 11 years as the Republican Leader of the U.S. Senate from 2007 to 2018.)
In the NFL, Bill Belichick’s successful defensive strategy has been described as “taking away the opponents’ best option.” Nancy Pelosi has already made history as the longest serving Democratic Leader in the House and as the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. If Pelosi wants to help her party win control of the House, she should announce in September that she will not run for House leadership in the 116th Congress. Such an announcement would give political cover to nascent Democratic House candidates as well as vulnerable Democratic incumbents. It takes away the go-to talking points of Republican candidates, pundits, and sympathetic media. At the same time, Trump’s high unfavorable poll numbers would still be available as talking points with independent voters. Like Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos, Nancy Pelosi could go out on top. On January 3, 2019, Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) may well pass the Speaker’s Gavel ceremonially to Nancy Pelosi who would do well to pass the gavel to the next generation of House Democratic leaders.
The Counter Argument:
On January 3, 2023, the U.S. Congress will convene for the first time after redistricting from the 2020 Census, and Rhode Island will likely have an at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. It will be the first time since the 2nd Congress (March 4, 1791 – March 4, 1793) that RI will only have only a single seat, joining consistent at-largers like Alaska, Delaware, Vermont, Wyoming, and the two Dakotas.
But who will the solitary U.S. Congressman from Rhode Island be? Will it be David Cicilline? In 2023, Cicilline will be 61 years old and possibly have represented RI-1st for 12 years. On the other hand, Jim Langevin will be 58 and have possibly represented RI–2nd for 22 years. Will these two mainstays of RI politics be forced to run against each other? 20-20 hindsight won’t help determine the RI Congressional delegation in 2023.
A lot may depend on the two United States Senators: In 2020, Jack Reed will be 73 years old and will have served in the U.S. Senate for 26 years, while Sheldon Whitehouse will be 67 years old and have served in the U.S. Senate for 16 years. However, as the U.S. Senate Election of 2020 is a Class 3 election, it is not an election year for either Senate seat.
It’s unlikely that any of the four legislators will lose their seat; the last sitting members of the RI delegation to lose an election were Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) 2006, Freddie St. Germain (RI-1) in 1988, and Eddie Beard (RI-2) in 1980. Retirement is also unlikely as John Chafee (R-RI) died in office after 23 years at the age of 77, and Claiborne Pell (D-RI) served 36 years before retiring age the age of 78.
Pell’s successor, Jack Reed, however, is a perennially mentioned as a Secretary of Defense nominee or as a Democratic candidate for Vice President. Perhaps if the Democratic nominee for president needs a seasoned partner to balance the ticket as Barrack Obama chose Joe Biden, the bottleneck of RI politics will be lessened. Otherwise, a fraternal fight is brewing among RI Democrats in 2020.
On this day, May 7, 2016, UN Special Representative Ján Kubiš said more than 50 mass graves have so far been found in parts of Iraq that were previously controlled by so-called Islamic State (IS). Ján Kubiš is a Slovak diplomat and was formerly Secretary-General of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the continued killings, kidnapping, rape and torture of Iraqis by ISIL (IS), which may constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and even genocide.”
Mass graves and ethnic cleansing is not new in Iraq. After the deposing of Saddam Hussein, International Experts found an estimated 300,000 victims in mass graves of Shia Muslims and ethnic Kurds killed for opposing the regime between 1983 and 1991.
In April 2007, a bus in Mosul was hijacked, Muslims and Christians were told to get off, the remaining 23 Yazidi passengers were driven to an eastern Mosul location and murdered.
Then ISIS/ISIL/IS came to town… Hawija, Kirkuk, Mosul… you name it….
…2014, the peak of the Yazidi Genocide. Civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar… hundred of Yazidi women were taken as slaves and over hundreds more men, women, and children were killed, some beheaded or buried alive in the foothills, as part of an effort to instill fear and to supposedly desecrate the mountain the Yazidis consider sacred.
The mass flight and expulsion of ethnic Assyrians from Iraq… beginning before ISIS, back during the Iraq War in 2003, but continues to this day. Leaders of Iraq’s Assyrian community estimate that over two-thirds of the Iraqi Assyrian population has fled or been internally displaced. Reports suggest that whole neighborhoods of Assyrians have cleared out in the cities of Baghdad and Basra; and that Sunni insurgent groups and militias have threatened Assyrian Christians over the years. Following the campaign of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in northern Iraq in August 2014, one-quarter of the remaining Iraqi Assyrians fled, finding refuge to Iraqi Kurdistan, and, ironically in Turkey…
On February 3, 2016, the European Union recognized the persecution of Christians by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as genocide. The vote was unanimous. The United States followed suit on March 15, 2016, declaring these atrocities as genocide. The vote was unanimous. On April 20, 2016, British Parliament voted unanimously to denounce the actions as genocide. And where are those voices today as the Rohingya are murdered, assaulted, and exiled in Burma?
The ability of the predominantly Christian countries and the mostly Christian members of the US Congress’ to recognize a Christian genocide but not Muslim genocide is almost as self-serving as those perpetrating religious and ethnic violence against civilians around the world. It is a manifestation of the selective indignation, selective application of legal principals, and the inability to see all men and women as sisters and brothers.
If you’ve never read it, read Jeff Stein’s piece from October 17, 2006, in the New York Times. Still, to this day, one of the best and most disturbing journalistic articles. Willie Hulon, chief of the FBI’s national security branch, Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis, Chair of the House intelligence subcommittee charged with overseeing the C.I.A.’s performance in recruiting Islamic spies and analyzing information, Congressman Terry Everett, Vice Chair of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence. The very people who voted to invade Iraq. Don’t know the difference between Sunnis and Shi’as. Do we think they know the difference between an Assyrian-Iraqi, a Kurdish-Iraqi, a Yezidi-Iraqi, and an Arab Iraqi?
It’s easy to blame the crimes against humanity on the sectarian violence in Iraq, but those same pointing fingers seem to avoid asking the question of who destabilized the region and who armed Saddam Hussein with all those weapons in the 1980s. Perhaps it’s time to think more about American national responsibility, than labeling other acts of violence as genocide. After all, those Americans who identified the Assyrian Genocide so correctly are woefully silent on asking what happened to the pre-Columbian Native Americans population of the United States or even, if you want to stick to a more recent century, what happened to the Armenians in 1915. The same Administration that labeled the Assyrian, Yazidi crimes against humanity as a genocide, has not called the 1915 massacres by our Turkish allies a genocide… I mean, sure, they call it a genocide on the campaign trail while pandering for votes, but Trump, Obama, Bush, and Clinton all seem to have genocidal amnesia once entering the Oval Office.
Yes, on this day, May 7, 2016, UN envoy Ján Kubiš condemned the continued killings, kidnapping, rape, and torture of Iraqis which he said might constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and even genocide. Would that he was wrong. Would that the ethnic and religious genocides in Iraq and around the world were limited to time and space. Sadly, humanity’s propensity to kill itself, is matched only by our ability to be blind to the blood on our own hands and deny genocide when it’s insignificant. After all, its not 2016 anymore. Its 2018, and genocide has now reared it’s evil in Burma, where are the same clamoring voices speaking out against the Rohingya Genocide now?
That’s all for today’s segment of This Day in Today, and remember,
Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.
Thank you for listening!