I vaguely remember the days, back before the year 2016, when I went to bed at night feeling safe and secure. I can almost remember the days when I didn’t automatically associate the word “Republican” with hatred, racism, greed, cruelty, cheating, lying, and obnoxious. Ahhhhh … those were the good ol’ days! Long story short, I have more snark built up since my last snippets post, so … let me share just a few with you!
Kiran Ahuja has a new job!
On Tuesday, the Senate voted on President Biden’s nominee for the Office of Personnel Management, Kiran Ahuja. Ultimately Ms. Ahuja, a civil rights lawyer and veteran of the Obama administration, was confirmed, but only after Vice-President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote, because not one single Republican was willing to vote to confirm her. Why? Well, for one thing she is an Indian-born immigrant. According to Josh Hawley – you remember him, the guy who did a fist pump in a show of solidarity with the terrorists who attacked the Capitol on January 6th …
“I’m concerned that as the federal government’s H.R. director, Ms. Ahuja could use her platform to promote radical ideologies that seek to divide rather than unite the American people. She could bring critical race theory back into federal government training.”
GASP!!! She could … require sensitivity training by those who make hiring decisions for the federal government! Oh, wouldn’t it be awful to teach people that it is wrong to discriminate! She could actually insist that hiring decisions be based on the skill level of the applicants rather than the colour of their skin!
Apparently, the congressional Republicans want an all-white cabinet, and the difficulty of Ms. Ahuja’s appointment was not the first sign of trouble.
Shortly after taking office, President Biden nominated Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Ms. Tanden is also Indian American, and this time, Biden pulled her nomination once Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (yes, he of filibuster and voter suppression fame) made it clear he would not vote to confirm her. However last month, the President appointed her to be a senior White House advisor, a position for which no senate confirmation is necessary. Take that, Republicans … and Republican wannabe Manchin!
And then, there was Deb Haaland, a Native American who was chosen to be Secretary of the Interior, a department that has a long history of being used as a tool of oppression against America’s Indigenous peoples. Ms. Haaland was ultimately confirmed in March, but only after being grilled at length as Republicans tried to paint her as a radical. Said Republican Senator Steve Daines from Montana …
“I’m deeply concerned with the congresswoman’s support on several radical issues that will hurt Montana, our way of life, our jobs and rural America.”
Um, Mr. Daines … the population of Montana is less than 1% of the population of this country … put that in your pipe and smoke it.
I am very thrilled that the Biden cabinet looks much different than that of the former guy, that there is diversity and qualified people with experience making the everyday decisions that affect our lives. I sincerely hope that I never see the day when there is a Republican president and a Republican majority in the Senate again, for all this progress would likely be undone within a matter of a few weeks.
But there was a big, bright spot today!
Judge Peter A. Cahill sentenced former police officer Derek Chauvin to 22.5 years for the murder of George Floyd. This sentence will not bring Mr. Floyd back to life, but … it is consequential, and I am very pleased. This is very nearly the longest sentence any police officer has received in this country for unnecessary killing in the line of duty and it is long past due. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the longest sentence given to an officer for the murder of an unarmed Black person.
Shortly after reading the sentence from the bench, Judge Cahill issued a 22-page memorandum about his decision, writing, “Part of the mission of the Minneapolis Police Department is to give citizens ‘voice and respect.’” But Mr. Chauvin, the judge wrote, had instead “treated Mr. Floyd without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings and which he certainly would have extended to a friend or neighbor.”
The maximum sentence possible would have been 40 years, and the presumptive sentence would have been 12.5 years. I think the main thing to take away from this sentencing is that it sends a strong message to police officers that the blanket concept of ‘qualified immunity’ isn’t going to protect you when you use excessive force, that times are changing and police, just like anybody else, can be held accountable for their actions.
In the end, Judge Cahill said two “aggravating factors” had affected his decision to sentence Mr. Chauvin to more than 22 years: Mr. Chauvin had acted with particular cruelty, the judge said, and had abused his authority as an officer of the law. This needs to become the rule, not the exception! Mr. Chauvin, who is currently 45 years of age, will likely be eligible for parole after serving 2/3 of his sentence, or in about 15 years.
For the People … yeah, right
I am still furious over the Senate Republicans’ unanimous vote to deny even debate on the For the People Act that would have ensured our rights to vote, despite nearly every state in the nation attempting to suppress that right. But yesterday, there was a glimmer of hope.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that the U.S. Justice Department is suing the state of Georgia over its new voting law, saying that the controversial measure is intended to restrict ballot access to Black voters. In his news conference yesterday, AG Garland said …
“Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”
Thumbs up to the Attorney General! 👍 👍
The bill, SB202, has already passed the Georgia State Legislature and been signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp. In effect, it makes sweeping changes to the state’s absentee voting rules, adds new voter identification mandates and nearly cuts in half the amount of time for voters to request a mail-in ballot. It also outlaws passing out food or drinks to voters within 150 feet of a polling place or too close to voters waiting in line.
These voter suppression tactics, while aimed largely at Blacks, will also negatively impact Hispanics, working mothers, the elderly, college students, and the poor. I sincerely hope that the Justice Departments case wins the day, thereby sending messages to other states, but my best guess is that more lawsuits will be required.
Y’know … We the People have a lot of rights per the U.S. Constitution, but I think perhaps there is none more important than our right to vote, to have a voice in our government.
Late night host/comedian Stephen Colbert talked a bit about the travesty of justice regarding the For the People Act, as well as a number of other issues I’ve written about recently, and his monologue actually brought a laugh gurgling up from my throat, so I hope you’ll check it out and maybe you’ll laugh too!