Wise Words And A Question

ACBAlways a voice of reason, Nicholas Kristof has written yet another introspective and timely column in yesterday’s New York Times.  Whereas I tend to rant, Kristof is the calm voice of reason, yet even he admits that the United States may be on a backward-facing treadmill.  He concludes his column with an important question for us all.  I urge you to read what he says …

Will We Choose the Right Side of History?

In Amy Coney Barrett, Republicans are once again backing a Supreme Court nominee who could take us backward.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

Amy Coney Barrett has been following recent precedent in her confirmation hearing before the Senate, pretending that she has never had an interesting thought in her life.

Is it illegal to intimidate voters at the polls? She didn’t want to weigh in. A president postponing an election? Hmm. She’d have to think about that.

What about climate change? “I have read things about climate change,” she acknowledged, warily emphasizing that she is not a scientist. “I would not say I have firm views on it.”

If she had been asked about astronomy, she might have explained: “I have read things about the Earth being round. I would not say I have firm views on it.”

But for all the obfuscation, which nominees of Democratic presidents have engaged in as well, there is no hiding the essential truths that Barrett: A) is very bright; and B) would solidify a conservative Supreme Court majority whose judicial philosophy has been on the wrong side of many of the great issues of my lifetime.

We sometimes distinguish between “liberal judges” and “conservative judges.” Perhaps the divide instead is between forward-thinking judges and backward-thinking judges.

Partly because of paralysis by legislators, partly because of racist political systems, forward-thinking judges sometimes had to step up over the last 70 years to tug the United States ahead. Those judges chipped away at Jim Crow and overturned laws against interracial marriage, against contraception, and fought racial and sexual discrimination.

Just this week, Bernard Cohen, the lawyer who won the interracial marriage case in the Supreme Court in 1967, died — a reminder of how recent such progress is. In that case, Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and Black woman who married in Washington, D.C., had moved to Virginia, where the police barged into their home at 2 a.m. and arrested them in bed for violating an anti-miscegenation law. Forward-thinking justices struck down such laws — and that wasn’t about “activist judges” but about decency, humanity and the 14th Amendment.

It was as recent as 2003 that enlightened Supreme Court judges struck down state sodomy laws that could be used to prosecute same-sex lovers. Three backward-thinking justices, including Antonin Scalia, Barrett’s mentor, would have allowed Taliban-style prosecutions of gay people for intimacy in the bedroom. (Barrett refused in the hearing Wednesday to say whether the case was rightly decided.)

It is true, as some conservatives argue, that this path toward social progress would ideally have been blazed by legislators, not judges. But it is difficult for people who are denied voting rights to protect their voting rights, and judicial passivism in these cases would have buttressed discrimination, racism, sexism and bigotry.

That brings us to another historical area where conservatives, Barrett included, have also been on the wrong side of history — access to health care.

Over the last hundred years, advanced countries have, one by one, adopted universal health care systems, with one notable exception: the United States. That’s one reason next month’s election is such a milestone, for one political party in America is trying to join the rest of the civilized world and provide universal health care, and the other is doing its best to take away what we have.

The G.O.P. is succeeding. Census data show that even before the Covid-19 pandemic the number of uninsured Americans had risen by 2.3 million under Trump — and another 2.9 million have lost insurance since the pandemic hit. Most troubling of all, about one million children have lost insurance under Trump over all, according to a new Georgetown study.

I’m not trying to scare readers about Barrett joining a conservative majority to overturn the Affordable Care Act. My take is that Democrats are exaggerating that risk; the Republican argument in the case, to be heard next month, is such a legal stretch that it’s unlikely to succeed fully, even if Barrett is on the court.

But it is possible, and that would be such a cataclysm — perhaps 20 million Americans losing insurance during a pandemic — that it’s worth a shudder. It should also remind us of the importance of renewing the imperfect, on-again-off-again march of civilization in America, away from bigotry and toward empowerment of all citizens.

Barrett is not a horrible person; on the contrary, she seems to be a smart lawyer with an admirable personal story. Yet she’s working with a gang of Republican senators to steal a seat on the Supreme Court. This grand larceny may well succeed. But for voters, this hearing should underscore the larger battle over the direction of the country.

Voters can’t weigh in on the Barrett nomination, but they can correct this country’s course.

Here’s the fundamental question: Will voters reward the party that is working to provide more health care, or the party that has painstakingly robbed one million children of insurance? Will voters help tug the United States forward, or will they support the backward thinkers who have been on the side of discrimination, racism, bigotry and voter suppression?

At the polls, which side of history will you stand on?

33 thoughts on “Wise Words And A Question

  1. I’ve finally got the word I have been looking for to sum up Trump’s supporters Democratophobes. They will bear any burden, pay any price to make sure Democrats and Liberals do not have a say in the running of the nation. It is all that matters to them; if Democrats are for it, they are against it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a perfect word! Since others are inventing such stupid words as “cancel culture” and others, we can invent our own word, and Democratophobe captures perfectly the disease that has infected those who call themselves ‘Republicans’. ‘Scuse me now … I need to get on Amazon and order up a baseball bat to bash a few heads in!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill, Nicholas Kristof is a two-time winner and five-time nominated Pulitzer Prize winner. He approaches his work with seriousness of purpose. So, his words should be read and heeded. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s almost as though the Evangelists feel they are born to rule and when they do no-one will need to shout out about Sharia law anymore. Trump doesn’t have a religious bone in his body so I’d say they’re intending to drop him if they win and rely on Pence, Pompeo and other rabid Evangelists including those on the Superior Court to give them powers over every aspect of American life. There will be penalties for not praying enough.

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    • You are quite right … the evangelicals DO think they should rule, that it is their “god-given right”, for they claim to believe that their beliefs are the one and only ‘right’ ones. Most people in this country screech at the very mention of Sharia Law, but what they don’t understand that Sharia Law is quite simply the rule of the religious … and that is what the Republicans seem to want for this nation. Hypocrisy breeds more hypocrisy, yes? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I guess I will have to go to debtor’s prison, then, for I would never have enough money to pay the penalties for not praying enough … since I believe in action rather than praying for some unseen spirit to take care of my business. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. (Yeah, I’m snarky again tonight. Sigh.)

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        • You’re right … ‘interesting’ is putting it mildly! 😄 But lately, I find I might like just a little less ‘interesting’ in my life, for it is giving me ulcers on top of everything else! You have a great weekend too, Brian! Have plans for anything fun and exciting?

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          • Yeah. Let’s lower the interest a bit…
            We’re going for a walk in the forest/picnic with dauhgter #2. Daughter #1 and the grandkids are out, because grandson had a bit of a fever. Which is most likely due to DTP vaccine, but his MD mother doesn’t want to take a chance… It should be nice to be out in the woods 🌳

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              • Thank you. It was extremely nice. Far form the madding crowd. Grandson still had a bit of fever last night, but he will be fine. His doctor parents took him for testing, he’s fine. It’s just the normal reaction to the vaccine…
                Have a great week Jill. We’re only a few weeks away form the big day. I’ll keep you posted on the poll/Trends tendencies. 🤞

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                • I’m so glad you had a brief respite from “the madding crowd” … we all need that sometimes. I’m glad your grandson is only experiencing the normal reactions to his vaccines. These days, I think we forget that people do still catch common colds and such, and we jump to the ‘worst case scenario’ conclusion when someone has fever, cough, etc. Yes, my friend, only two weeks left. The girls and I have voted this weekend, so apart from trying to motivate and inspire others, I’ve done all I can do. I’m hoping the polls are more accurate this time than they were in 2016, for I don’t see how this nation can possibly survive another 4 years of this buffoon in charge. Sigh.

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                  • We do. Need to escape. Grandson looks fine.
                    I commend you on voting already. I see the figures on advanced/postal voting, they’re amazing. Which must frighten the buffoon. He would thrive on abstention… I will probably do a post early next week on polls and Trends… Have you seen my first one?
                    (We can do it!)

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                    • I had not seen your first one, but when I read this, I went in search of … found and commented there! I do believe that Joe Biden is on track to win both popular and electoral votes. But … obviously there is much that can happen between now and January 20th, and that concerns me. Plus, Trump & Co are working diligently to further destroy the nation before being ousted in January. I have to believe that you are right, that we can do it, but … somewhere in my head I wonder what will be left. Sigh.

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                    • Nations are resilient. It’s relatively easy to bring a country down. Ask Venezuela. And it takes more time to put it back up. But… it can be done. How shall I put it? “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst?” 😉

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                    • Like anything else … you can burn a house down in a matter of minutes, but it can take years to build it back. I think the biggest thing that has been lost in this nation is trust, and that is one of the hardest things to regain once it is lost. Yes, I am hoping for the best and trying to prepare for the worst, but … it’s not easy to do that.

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                    • No, it’s not. I’ve often thought America was not a country. (What?) Bear with me. America is not a country, it’s a contract. Based on the law. A contract between the People and the Union. A contract between the people. And as any contract, it can only work if all parties trust each other… And trust the Law. Believe me I’ve spent most my life in countries where there is no Law. No society can live without Law. That’s what is at stake now…

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                    • Well said, my friend. Yes, that is what’s at stake now … there is almost no trust of our government, and little trust among the people. The incumbent taunts and derides the people, and encourages violence … a very dangerous situation that needs to be stopped quickly! Too damn many people in this country have an arsenal and aren’t afraid to use it.

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                    • Indeed, it is scary … and yet another reason that we must replace the madman in the Oval Office before someday he decides to “make somebody pay” and unleashes the end of the world as we know it. You’re right that the debate was a waste of time, but … if I didn’t watch it, then I couldn’t very well critique it, so I watched. 😵

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • Yes, I did, and I didn’t even throw the laptop across the room! I’m learning restraint 😊 You are correct … he has paid less than most people making minimum wage in this country! And he’s cheated contractors and others all his life. What a great guy, eh? He claims that means he is smart … in fact, he has claimed that he’s smarter than anyone! Can we say, egomaniac?

                      Liked by 2 people

    • Putin and his band of merry men are already hard at work … they actually never stopped. The FBI reported this on more than one occasion to Trump, but he pooh-poohed it, calling it “fake news” and a “witch hunt”. Naturally he would, since they are in his court. Imagine what he’d say if Putin et al were helping Joe Biden!


  4. Excellent post. I know, as my husband reminded me, that she had a weird upbringing, but I stand by my discernment that, anyone who can speak of their past and its pitfalls has an obligation as an adult to change the course of their conditioning. If excuses are made for ruthless racist, homophobic pandering politicians, then why do we have ANYone on death row? Anyone who truly believes a murderer or serial killer was born with a desire to kill has watched one too many demon possession movies. We are all products or our experiences from the time we are born and many are horrific. But we cannot pick and choose who is to be held accountable for their actions. That is why we have judges to begin with. In my lifetime I have seen what I believed to be a fair and honorable view of the American Judicial system crumble into dust through so many political elections, deceptions and personal disappointments in what I was taught to believe protected honest, innocent human beings. Instead, it is just another game of chess, with the innocent as pawns. 🤬😞

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    • Weird upbringings, a traumatic childhood, a lifetime of doing good … none of those are criteria for a Supreme Court Justice. Interpretation of the Constitution, application of the law … those are the things that matter in these circumstances. If Ms. Barrett had answered the questions that were put to her, even if I didn’t agree with all her answers, I might have gained some respect for her as a jurist. Given that she played Trump’s card of deflecting and obfuscating, I now have ZERO respect for the woman and definitely do NOT want her making decisions that will affect large swaths of the population. She is, I believe, a bigot, a misogynist, a racist, and a homophobe. NOT what we need sitting on the highest court in the land.


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