Science

Think impeachment has been a self-defeating crusade for Democrats? Think again
Ukraine call may be old news, but don’t discount its moral power in a trial

The punditocracy may say that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have overplayed their hands on impeachment, but the latest Iowa Poll pokes holes in that argument, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

[OPINION] DES MOINES, Iowa — The recently unveiled Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll is considered the gold standard for deciphering the opening-gun Feb. 3 Democratic caucuses. But a polling question asked of a sample of the entire Iowa electorate may be more important for understanding the upcoming impeachment trial.

The question never mentioned the words “Donald Trump.” Instead, it asked registered Iowa voters, “Do you think it is OK or not OK for a U.S. presidential candidate to try to gain political advantage over an election rival by seeking help from foreign countries?”

Climate-focused Democrats hope for November reward
They seek to solidify themselves as the party of climate action

Jane Fonda, center, and Susan Sarandon, red scarf, march toward the Capitol on Friday during a weekly rally to call for action on climate change. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats know that their “comprehensive” climate plans are unlikely to see the light of day in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate and face vetoes by a president who has at times rejected the scientific consensus on global warming.

But there’s a strategy afoot to solidify Democrats’ election-year banner as the party of climate action and lure young, independent and even Republican voters disgruntled with the Trump administration’s retreat on environmental issues, analysts say.

Reapportionment could force a Rhode Island showdown
Smallest state projected to lose a House seat after 2020

Rhode Island Reps. David Cicilline, left, and Jim Langevin may have to duke it in a primary in 2022 with their state projected to lose a seat after the next census. (Tom Williams/Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

This year’s census will likely prompt a political showdown between longtime members of Congress in the nation’s smallest state.

An analysis based on Census Bureau population projections has Rhode Island losing its second congressional seat in 2022, one of 10 states that could lose representation in Congress. The projections show a tight margin for the last few congressional seats, according to an analysis from Election Data Services. The Ocean State stands 14,000 residents shy of the seat, or about 1 percent of its population.

Chris Allen, Senate Finance Committee GOP tax aide, has died
Allen handled pensions and tax-exempt organizations issues under Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley

Chris Allen, right, with Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., in an undated photo. (Courtesy Sen. Pat Roberts)

Chris Allen, a Senate Finance Committee GOP tax aide, has died, according to his former boss, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

“Chris was beloved by everyone who had the privilege of meeting him,” Roberts said in a statement. “He had a brilliant mind, a generosity of spirit and a passion for serving the country in the United States Senate. His gentle soul made him an amazing husband, father, son, brother and friend.”

Emails show Boeing employees derided FAA and worried about 737 Max simulators
Chairmen investigating FAA's handling of ill-fated aircraft say 'incredibly damning' messages show 'troubling disregard for safety'

Boeing 737 Max airplanes are stored on employee parking lots near Boeing Field in Seattle. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Long before two separate Boeing 737 Max airplane crashes killed 346 people, employees of the company exchanged internal messages displaying deep concern about the aircraft’s simulators as well as disdain for federal regulators.

In dozens of pages of messages released to congressional committees investigating the October 2018 crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia and the March 2019 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft in Ethiopia, employees expressed dismay about a flight simulator used to test the aircraft, criticized the culture of the company and bantered about tricking regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the aircraft.

When science fiction becomes environmental fact, it might be time to worry
Storylines from ‘The Twilight Zone’ are now playing out in real time

A bushfire burns in the town of Moruya, New South Wales, Australia, on Sunday. As the country burns, many of its leaders remain unmoved on the science behind climate change, insisting Australia does not need to cut its carbon emissions, Curtis writes. (Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images)

OPINION — How did you spend your holiday? If you’re like me, one guilty pleasure was devouring TV marathons, designed to offer relief from the stresses of the season. Reliable favorites include back-to-back episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and, on Turner Classic Movies, one whole day devoted to science fiction, imaginings both cautionary and consoling of what the future holds for our world.

But usual escapes didn’t quite work this year, not when fact is scarier than anything “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling might have dreamed up, though the serious Serling who introduced each episode of his iconic series, all furrowed brow and cigarette in hand, did signal he suspected what was coming if mankind didn’t shape up.

Former Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, brother of Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, dead at 56
Pennsylvania Republican was consistently rated one of the most bipartisan lawmakers

Former Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., has died at the age of 56. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick, brother of current Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, has died at age 56.

The Pennsylvania Republican represented Bucks County from 2005 to 2007, losing his seat to Patrick Murphy in a 2006 Democratic wave driven by unrest over the Iraq War. But he returned to Congress in 2010, winning his seat back and holding it again from 2011 to 2017. His death was confirmed to The Bucks County Courier Times by Pat Poprik, the county Republican Party chairwoman. 

The year in Political Theater: Our favorite 2019 podcasts

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One has not quite lived until Werner Herzog tells you on your own podcast: “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no ... You are wrong.” Lesson learned: Don’t argue with headstrong German filmmakers about 19th Century Russian poets. 

That was just one of the many highlights of 2019’s Political Theater podcast. Of course we also examined the world of politics, what it means to be a member of Congress, the effect of President Donald Trump on the journalism, and the advice a respected and garrulous former member of Congress for the newly elected.

Census effort gets $7.6 billion funding, ‘friended’ by Facebook
Spending bill passed on same day Facebook pledges to remove false census posts, ads

Facebook announced it would remove misleading 2020 census information from its platform. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Census Bureau got a slew of new tools Thursday in preparation for next year’s census count, making congressional allies and advocates cautiously optimistic about the effort. 

The same day Congress sent the White House a sweeping spending package that includes $7.6 billion for the Census Bureau, Facebook announced it would remove incorrect or misleading census information from its platform next year. The social media giant’s announcement follows steps by Google and the Census Bureau itself to keep online outreach efforts on track for the 2020 count.

Rules, privacy issues loom for fintech industry in 2020
Advocates foresee sparse congressional activity for 2020

Facebook changed the fintech industry's focus this year when the social media giant announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency called Libra. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

The nascent financial technology industry started the year faintly optimistic that the 116th Congress would pass bills in its favor. But as 2019 comes to an end without legislation, the industry isn’t even expecting action in 2020. And for that, they’re feeling relieved, not disappointed.

Facebook Inc.’s midyear announcement that it planned to launch a cryptocurrency, Libra, upended the industry’s focus, tilting the legislative strategy from pressing hard for beneficial bills to staying clear of measures aimed at checking the social media giant’s ambitions to transform commerce.