Saturday, November 18, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Some Weekend Items

An explosion of allegations about well-known Hollywood,
media and political figures is currently pushing other (and
more immediate) news aside in newspapers, magazines and
the internet. Allegations against GOP U.S. senate nominee
Roy Moore have disrupted the special election in Alabama on
December 12. Moore had been initially favored to win in this
very  conservative state, but latest polls have his Democratic
opponent pulling increasingly ahead. National Republicans
have denounced Moore, including the GOP senate leadership
which could lead a vote to expel him if he wins the race.
Other options for blocking his election would need the
support of the state’s new governor, but she has just declared
the special election will go as planned, and that she will vote
for Moore. Increasingly isolated from his own party, Moore
denies the charges, and vows to stay in the race.

The allegations uproar has hit Minnesota where incumbent
junior Senator Al Franken has been charged with improper
behavior. A photograph shows the senator apparently doing
this. A newswoman has asserted other misbehavior. Calls for
his resignation have come from several sources, some in his
own party and in previously supportive liberal media. Franken
has admitted that he acted improperly and apologized, but the
general furor over improper behavior --- and his own, and his
party’s condemnation of accused Republican officials that has
been seen as hypocrisy --- ensures that the controversy and
the political damage to him will not go away soon. Franken’s
defense is further weakened by various supposedly
humorous sketches  and statements made when he was a
career comedian prior to his election. The state also now has
additional scandals, one involving a  Democratic legislator,
and another involving a Republican. This normally staid
midwestern state is now awash, as is the nation, in
daily-revealed scandals.

A developing and potentially region-changing series of events
is occurring in the critical mideastern kingdom of Saudi
Arabia where its new crown prince has been consolidating
power within the Saudi royal family. Prominent members of
this large and all-powerful family and their allies have been
arrested or detained. Rumors that the Saudi king will abdicate
soon abound. Behind the move is believed to be the decision 
to modernize the ancient land and its political structures in
response to extraordinary volatility and popular unrest not
only within the kingdom, but in neighboring Arab states.

Finally responding to criticism from his own party, including
President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
has decided to ignore two “blue slip” vetoes of federal
judicial nominees by President Trump which had been held
up for six months. One of those senators whose opposition is
being bypassed is Minnesota junior Senator Al Franken who
is currently embroiled in a controversy of his own (see story
above). Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice David
Stras, one of the two nominees, will now receive a senate
hearing on November 29. Justice Stras is a widely-respected
jurist strongly supported by figures in both parties, and would
be expected to be confirmed soon after that. The logjam over
President Trump’s judicial and other appointments will
probably continue to some degree, but the senate leadership’s
decision to discontinue allowing single senators to block a
nomination should relieve some of the pressure for the time

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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