You’re FIRED!

There was never anything that deemed Kellyanne Conway qualified to sit on the U.S. Air Force’s Board of Visitors.  She has no military experience at all and her appointment to that position by the former guy can only be said to have been a political favour.  Okay, every president has likely meted out such favours, and the next president most often reverses them if they aren’t qualified.

On Wednesday, the White House told 18 officials who had been appointed by the former guy to serve on the boards of U.S. military service academies to resign or be dismissed.  Of the 18, only one that I’m aware of was even remotely qualified for the positions to which he had been appointed:  former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.  Among the least qualified were former Trump advisor and one-time campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.  Neither had a shred of qualifying experience for the positions to which they were assigned.

A sample of one of the letters from White House assistant Catherine M. Russell read …

“On behalf of President Biden, I am writing to request your resignation as a Member of the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy.  Please submit your resignation to me by the close of business today.  Should we not receive your resignation, your position with the Board will be terminated effective 6:00 p.m. tonight.  Thank you.”

And the fight was on … naturally it was, for anything that President Biden says or does is food for the Republican gristmill.  And naturally, Kellyanne’s was the loudest voice of dissent, tweeting …

“President Biden, I’m not resigning, but you should.”

Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, whose claim to fame was his ridiculous and disproven claim about the size of the former guy’s inauguration crowd in 2017, is also flapping his wings and crying “Foul!”.  Again, not surprising but also neither mature nor professional.  Spicer, in fact, has threatened to sue current White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki for her remarks when asked to comment on the terminations …

“I will let others evaluate whether they think Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer and others were qualified, or not political, to serve on this board.  But the president’s qualification requirements are not your party registration. They are whether you are qualified to serve and whether you’re aligned with the values of this administration.”

And so, while wildfires are raging throughout the West, while floods are crippling the northeast, while more than a thousand people per day are dying in the U.S. alone as a result of COVID, while voting rights and women’s rights are being decimated on a daily basis, this … the removal of highly unqualified individuals from positions they never earned, will be in our faces, cost the government wasted time and money, and give more fuel to the GOP fires already burning out of control.  What’s next, I wonder?  The quality of food served in the U.S. Capitol?  Not up to Republican standards?  🙄

Lies, Lies, Lies — Is McCarthy’s Nose Growing Yet?

I have to wonder if Kevin McCarthy’s parents read the story of Pinocchio to him as a child.  You remember … Pinocchio, the wooden puppet who became an actual boy, but his nose grew with every lie he told.  If Kevin heard that story as a child, you’d think it might have made a lasting impression and he’d be less inclined to lie glibly on a near-continual basis.  I remember as a child, each time I told a lie, going into the bathroom and actually measuring my nose with my finger!

But Kevin does have a fairly longish nose, come to think of it.

In the past two weeks, he has told at least six blatant lies that I’m aware of, likely many more.  The question becomes, why?  Does he realize that his constituents are largely uncaring and ignorant of facts and only want to hear those things that can give them renewed purpose in hating any who don’t follow the Republican playbook?  But what about the rest of us?  Does it not matter to him that we see the smoke coming out of his mouth, that we DO know the facts, or at least are willing to spend 2 minutes looking them up?  Somehow, this ‘man’ has risen through the GOP ranks to become his party’s leader in the U.S. House of Representatives – a position that commands respect, but that respect must be earned, and he damn sure is not earning it.

Lie #1:  McCarthy claimed that oil prices are now “the highest that we have seen.”  Fact:  Crude prices peaked in 2008 under Republican President George W. Bush – more than double their level at the time McCarthy made this claim.  Crude prices were also higher at various points under Republican President Donald Trump than they were two weeks ago when McCarthy made his false claim or than they are today.

Lie #2:  McCarthy claimed that there is now “inflation at a number we have not seen.”  Fact:  While inflation was at a 13-year high in June and July, at a seasonally adjusted 5.3% on a year-over-year basis, it is not even close to the highest we have ever seen and not even close to the level of the late Carter era. Inflation was more than twice as high in every month of 1980 than it was in June and July of this year; its 1980 peak was 14.6%.

Lie #3:  Speaking about congressional Democrats, McCarthy asked, “Why aren’t they protecting the border from those 5,000 prisoners who have just left Afghanistan and — have the hope of coming across our borders?”  Fact:  There is no basis for McCarthy’s claim that 5,000 former prisoners have “just left Afghanistan” with the hope of coming to the US. And McCarthy neglected to mention that it was President Donald Trump’s own 2020 deal with the Taliban — a deal McCarthy had positive words about at the time — in which the US agreed to let up to 5,000 Afghan prisoners go free.

Lie #4:  McCarthy said, “We have watched state after state where Democrats have left the state.”  Fact:  Texas is the only state whose Democratic legislators left the state under Biden or Trump to deny Republicans the minimum attendance needed to pass elections legislation.

Lie #5:  McCarthy said Democrats’ new elections bill “would ban voter ID in every state.”  Fact:  The Democratic bill would not prohibit states from having voter identification laws and would not prohibit states from checking the IDs of in-person voters. Rather, it would require states to give voters an alternative to showing the ID the states normally demand — specifically, to allow voters who do not show that ID to instead submit signed statements under penalty of perjury attesting to their identity and eligibility to vote.

Lie #6:  McCarthy claimed, based on an anonymous report, that the Department of Justice has concluded that Donald Trump did not cause, incite, or provoke the violence on January 6th.”  Fact:  The report is anonymous, not an official FBI report, but is suspected to be a report published by Reuters news agency that said merely the FBI has found “scant evidence” that the January 6 riots were coordinated.  No idea where they got their misinformation.

I’m sure there are more lies, but these are enough to spread disinformation far and wide among Republican voters who are already heavily influenced by the conspiracy theories put forth by QAnon and others who seem to have members spread throughout the GOP.

Anybody have a tape measure?  We really ought to measure ol’ Kevin’s nose!!!  Or wait … maybe we should measure the noses of every Republican in Congress, for the GOP motto seems to be “Why tell the truth when a lie will work just as well?”

The Good, The Bad, The Hopeful

A few days ago, my dear friend Ellen sent me Maureen Dowd’s column from the New York Times.  She says so much that the topic of the column rather defies description, but her vision of where this nation is today is spot on.  She also gives us hope in a more positive, yet realistic assessment of President Biden’s policies and actions than we’re used to hearing these days.


Drowning Our Future in the Past

By Maureen Dowd

Opinion Columnist

It isn’t a pretty picture.

One coast is burning. The other is under water. In between, anti-abortion vigilantes may soon rampage across gunslinging territory.

What has happened to this country?

America is reeling backward, strangled by the past, nasty and uncaring, with everyone at one another’s throats.

Post-Trump, we let ourselves hope that the new president could heal and soothe, restore a sense of rationality, decency and sanity. But the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be just a firefly.

We feel the return of dread: We’re rattled by the catastrophic exit from Afghanistan; the coming abortion war sparked by Texas; the Trumpian Supreme Court dragging us into the past; the confounding nature of this plague; the way Mother Nature is throttling us, leaving New Yorkers to drown in their basements. And now comes Donald Trump, tromping toward another presidential run.

It feels as if nothing can be overcome. Everything is being relitigated.

We’re choking on enlightened climate proposals but the disparity between the disasters we see, and what’s being done in Washington, makes it feel as though nothing is happening except climate change. We’re so far from getting a handle on the problem, the discussions around it seem almost theoretical.

Joe Manchin, tied to the energy industry, balks at climate change provisions in the reconciliation bill. He should be looking for ways to get West Virginia in touch with reality rather than living in the past.

“Manchin’s claim that climate pollution would be worsened by the elimination of fossil fuels — or by the resolution’s actual, more incremental climate provisions — is highly dubious, if not outright false,” The Intercept reported, noting that the truth is that Manchin’s personal wealth would “be impacted.” Since he joined the Senate, The Intercept said, he has grossed some $4.5 million from coal companies he founded.

With its new abortion law, sending women back to the back alley and encouraging Stasi-like participation from the citizenry, Texas now becomes the capital of American unreason. The law “essentially delegated enforcement of that prohibition to the populace at large,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

There were medieval fiefs more enlightened than the Lone Star G.O.P.

Between putting women in danger by pushing that law and putting children in danger by imposing his anti-mask mania on school districts that want to mask up, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has become a scourge of the first rank.

A cynical slice of the Republican Party — and this includes Trump — privately denigrates anti-abortion activists as wackos, but publicly moves in lock-step with them in order to cling to that base and keep power.

But the anti-abortion forces were somehow clever enough to hijack the Supreme Court and Republicans will have to contend with the backlash when the court tosses Roe v. Wade aside.

As botched as the withdrawal from Afghanistan was, at least Joe Biden was trying to move into the future and do triage on one of America’s worst mistakes.

And unlike other presidents — J.F.K. with the Bay of Pigs, L.B.J. with the Vietnam War and Barack Obama with the Afghanistan surge — Biden did not allow himself to be suckered by the generals, the overweening Ivy Leaguers and the Blob, the expense account monsters who keep this town whirring and always have a seat at the table, no matter how wrong they were, and are.

The Afghanistan tragedy, as James Risen wrote in The Intercept, was just two decades of Americans lying to one another, and it “brought out in Americans the same imperial arrogance that doomed the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.”

Unlike his three predecessors, Biden risked Saudi ire by directing the Justice Department and other agencies on Friday to review and declassify documents related to the F.B.I.’s investigation into 9/11. Families of 9/11 victims had been pushing for the release of the secret files to learn more about the role the Saudis played in the attacks.

The enablers of our misbegotten occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have been shrieking like banshees at Biden, trying to manacle him to their own past mistakes as he attempts to lift off.

With peerless chutzpah, Tony Blair called Biden’s decision to depart cynical and driven by an “imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars.’”

But Biden knew enough not to spend more lives and treasure to prop up a kleptocracy. He oversaw some bad weeks in Afghanistan but George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld should be blamed for 20 bad years.

Remarkably, as Jon Allsop pointed out in The Columbia Journalism Review, the word “Bush” was not mentioned once on any of the Sunday news shows the weekend Kabul was falling.

“He looks like the Babe Ruth of presidents when you compare him to Trump,” Harry Reid, the former Democratic Senate majority leader, told The Washington Post’s Ben Terris, for a story this past week on Bush nostalgia.

With a memory like a goldfish, America circles its bowl, returning to where we have been, unable to move forward, condemned to repeat a past we should escape.

Perhaps We Trusted Too Much

If you were born with pale skin in the United States in the last 150 years, you have led a life of great privilege, though you might not realize it.  You might begin to realize it if you could exchange brief life stories with someone your age born in Ghana, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Iraq … most any other non-democratic nation.  But here’s the thing … we are so used to that life of privilege that we no longer appreciate it, we take it for granted.

Since you were old enough to talk, you’ve understood that this is a mostly free nation, that people have certain ‘unalienable’ rights.  You can choose your own career path, can choose to be well-educated … or not.  You can choose, within the confines of your economic status, where to live, what sort of car to drive.  You are not told who, or even if you must marry.  You are not forced into any religion.  And perhaps most importantly of all, you have the right to vote in order to keep people in government who are dedicated to preserving your rights.

You were told when you first learned about the founding of the U.S. and the U.S. Constitution that this document was the foundation of our nation and was the primary safeguard against the country ever becoming a Nazi Germany ruled by a madman.  You were told that the Constitution guaranteed that religion and government would always be kept separate, that you would never be beheaded for not believing in any religion.  It is your right, you were told, to be a Jew, Muslin, Hindu, Christian, or atheist.  It is your right to marry whomever you choose.  It is your right to have the final say over your body.  And you thought all this was guaranteed, that those ‘rights’ could never be taken away from you.

It may just be that you were wrong.

We became lazy, we became complacent, we became inured to the little things that were chipping away at our lives, our freedoms, as we didn’t even realize it.  We trusted in our government and its foundational separation of powers that would always keep any one branch of government from having too much power.  We never asked ourselves what would happen if two or even three of those branches plotted to join hands and become all-powerful.  We had the utmost faith in the impartial, non-partisan, 9-member Supreme Court that would always rule in favour of ‘right’.  We trusted in the ‘Separation of Church and State’ doctrine to keep us free of bigoted, restrictive rules imposed by religious sects.

But a funny thing happened as we travelled through the decades.  Men became intoxicated by power and the smell of money. And then they lied to us.  They lied about little things, they lied about big things.  They manipulated us, told us that those who try to help people in need are ‘socialists’ and ‘communists’, even though the majority of people do not even understand what those terms mean, but these greedy men gave us their interpretation and … we were too lazy to educate ourselves with facts, to learn the truth of the matter.

I won’t go through the entire scenario of the past twelve years or so, but here we are today … dangerously close to the precipice, to that thin line that separates a democratic republic from an autocracy.  Even now, when we nearly lost our voices and our freedoms on January 6th, far too many people believe that the men lying to them on a near-hourly basis are the good guys, the guys in the white hats.  They have allowed themselves to be brainwashed into believing that white folks like themselves are being pushed into a minority and that … somehow this is not a good thing.  They have been convinced that climate change is a hoax, that the pandemic is but a minor blip on the radar, and that somehow all evil stems from one side of the political spectrum.

A quote by Nelson Mandela speaks volumes here …

The United States is at a crossroads.  We can continue to allow the politicians, our elected representatives, to lie to us, to rob us, to cheat on us, as we take comfort in the fact that we have a job, a comfortable home, a ‘happy’ life, or we can educate ourselves, wake up and realize what could happen, how drastically our lives could change over the coming few years if we simply do nothing, continue to believe that somehow it will “all work out in the long run.”  A lot of people in Germany 90 years ago made the same mistake.

Differences

A view from across the big pond. Why is it that our friends outside the U.S. can so often see our situation with far more clarity than we can? Thank you, David, for an open-eyed view of what is happening here.

The BUTHIDARS

Kevin McCarthy’s statement

Image

In response, representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) tweeted the legal code: 18 U.S. Code § 1505: “Whoever…by any threatening letter or communication…endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede…the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any…investigation is being had by either House…Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned…”

My Response.

Kevin McCarthy, Marjie Greene, Matt Gaetz, and even Mitch McConnell’s attempts to gag private companies with undisguised threats puts every American at risk of not knowing the naames and degree of involvement certain politicians had in the attempted insurrection of January 6th 2021. Without this information American citizens are in danger of becoming subjects of a new form of dictatorial Government possibly under an already failed leader Donald Trump where a large part of the population would not even be allowed to vote. The words Surveillance State are used with the purpose of scaring the…

View original post 245 more words

Let There Be Consequences

Y’know … some mornings I wake up and wonder what alternative world I have stumbled into.  Nothing is as it once seemed, norms that I’ve known for some 7 decades have been shattered, replaced by utter stupidity and conspiracy theories, and I am not sure how to cope with this not-so-brave new world.  It’s tempting to simply stay in bed surrounded by books, disconnect from the rest of the world, and never come out of my cocoon.  In the past, I have mocked people for doing just that, but now … I understand.  When it seems we have absolutely zero control over what is happening in the world, when the minority are paving the way to chaos while the majority sit quietly on the sidelines wringing their hands, I wonder just how much longer this nation can survive.

I did manage to find one sign that there is still a bit of sanity left in this country …


Remember in the days and weeks immediately following last year’s election when the former guy refused to acknowledge that he could possibly have lost?  He had countless lawyers filing frivolous lawsuits attempting to get courts to overturn the election results without so much as a single shred of evidence that the results, by which President Biden won by more than 7 million votes, were anything but legitimate.  The court cases dragged on, costing more and more money, each one thrown out for lack of credible evidence.

I wondered at the time why any self-respecting attorney who had worked hard to get to this point in his/her career would associate with the likes of the former guy, a known con artist and liar.  I think the key word there is ‘self-respecting’ … the attorneys who filed these cases were not serious about their career in law, but rather wanted to make a name for themselves, sought to trail in the spotlight that seemed to be constantly on the former guy.  Fame & fortune?

And now, those same attorneys who will never again be trusted by honest people are being sent back to school!  Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker imposed sanctions on Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and seven other pro-Trump lawyers in a strongly worded denouncement of what the court called a frivolous election fraud lawsuit, saying they “filed this lawsuit in bad faith and for improper purpose.” That’s an understatement if ever I’ve heard one, but okay.

As part of the sanctions, the attorneys must take legal education classes and also reimburse attorneys’ fees that the city of Detroit and Michigan state officials paid in seeking the sanctions.  I hope the next step is disbarment, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.  This ruling was over one case in Michigan … dozens of frivolous suits were filed late last year … if every single one comes before a conscionable judge and more sanctions are heaped on, then perhaps we can rid the public of yet another clump of human trash.

Torn To Pieces

This country, the United States, is being torn into pieces.  I have never actually despised as many people as I do today, and I know that I am not alone.  We cannot seem to agree on anything, not even the safety of the nation’s children.  We cannot agree on whether or not to be vaccinated against a deadly disease, or whether to wear a mask for protection against that deadly disease.  We cannot agree on whether money should be spent to repair our crumbling physical infrastructure, and we certainly cannot agree that in this, the time of a massive, wide-spread pandemic, people should be helped.

I laugh when I think of the name of this country:  The UNITED States.  There is no unity left today … and why?  Political posturing.  There are two distinct sides with little in the middle and that’s just how the politicians want it.  It’s a power play that is costing us our lives.

One of the most blatant examples of the divisiveness in this nation is the Big Lie being perpetuated by men of greed, power-hungry men who are very well aware that the former guy did NOT win the 2020 election but will cross their fingers behind their back while spending millions of taxpayer dollars to claim that he did win.  Now, if President Biden had won by only a narrow margin, say 250 or even 1,000 votes, then I could see the rationale in challenging the results.  However, he won by more than 7 million votes … ain’t no way in hell that is not a legitimate win, folks!

President Joseph Biden has been in office for seven months now.  For the entirety of those seven months, and the two-and-a-half months before the inauguration, the former guy and his unconscionable minions have been spending time and our money attempting to prove their guy won.  He didn’t, but here’s the point:  We the People pay these representatives to work … to do the work of the people.  Pandering to Donald Trump is NOT the work of the people, it is a waste of time and money … time and money that belong to US.

After the circus in Arizona which, I understand, is still ongoing but not a legitimate audit by any stretch of the imagination, now Wisconsin is spending beaucoup taxpayer dollars to do an audit … 9 months after the election, after nearly 100 lawsuits that proved nothing, and after countless recounts and audits!  Does the state of Wisconsin really have nothing better on which to waste taxpayer dollars??? Wisconsin state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced that the ‘audit’ would cost several hundred thousand dollars … I wonder how the people of Wisconsin feel about their hard-earned money being thrown away in such an irresponsible manner?

The lead investigator in the Wisconsin ‘audit’ is Michael Gableman, a hardcore Trumpeter who has spoken at Trump rallies and who attended the pillow dude’s laughable cyber-symposium in which, allegedly, proof of widespread election fraud would be presented. (It, um, wasn’t.)  Now, do you really think Gableman is a ‘neutral’ party who will oversee a fair, honest audit of the election results?  Actually back in November, a full recount of the votes was done and there was no evidence whatsoever of any unusual activity or fraud.  Should that not suffice … people, let’s move on with our lives here!  President Joe Biden won the damned election … put it to bed!

I don’t know what hold the former guy has over the GOP, for he is no longer in power, no longer has power except as they choose to allow him to make their decisions for them. We voted Trump OUT of office because we no longer wanted him controlling our government, making piss poor decisions, and destroying our nation, so why would we want our elected representatives to force his ideas on us?  There’s something here I’m not seeing, frankly.  But this slavish devotion to the former guy is a large part of what is tearing this country apart.

If We the People don’t find some common ground soon and hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, or lack thereof, I fear for the fate of this Divided States of America.

Accomplishments After 206 Days …

Today, I would like to thank Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson for reminding us of the positive things that have happened since January 20th.  Yes, we have much to worry about, such as the For the People Act, gerrymandering, voter suppression, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, racism in both police and populace, the end of the eviction moratorium, but … to have been in office only 206 days, President Biden and the U.S. Congress have actually accomplished a lot!  There’s still a lot of work to be done, but let’s take heart in what has already been done.


Maybe it’s time for doubting Democrats to press pause on the angst

Opinion by 

Eugene Robinson

Columnist

Yesterday at 4:01 p.m. EDT

It’s time to entertain the possibility that President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually know what they’re doing and are really good at their jobs.

Their fellow Democrats seem to have doubts, because, well, Democrats always have doubts. Dwelling on worst-case scenarios is somehow wired into the party’s DNA. Every victory must have some downside; every step forward must lead toward some potential pitfall. If worrying had been an Olympic sport in Tokyo, Democrats would have swept gold, silver and bronze.

This angst is richly nourished by voluminous news media analysis and commentary adhering to the convention of anticipating what might go wrong. What if progressives in the House won’t swallow hard and vote for the “hard infrastructure” bill passed by the Senate? What if House moderates insist on a quick vote on the Senate measure and threaten to withhold their votes on the budget with its huge “human infrastructure” spending? What if an asteroid strikes before Biden can sign these transformational pieces of legislation into law?

Let me suggest that Democrats squelch their inner Eeyore for just a moment to appreciate, and celebrate, what their party has accomplished.

There was no way, said the conventional wisdom, that Schumer (D-N.Y.) was going to get Republicans to support any kind of meaningful infrastructure bill. There was no way the bipartisan gang of senators trying to craft a compromise measure would succeed. There was no way Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would allow anything on infrastructure to pass, thus giving Biden a win. There was no way more than a handful of Republican senators would defy all the threats streaming from Mar-a-Lago and collaborate with Democrats on anything.

Yet here we are. Nineteen Republicans — including McConnell — joined every Senate Democrat in approving $1 trillion worth of desperately needed infrastructure spending. Included are not just funds to fix roads and bridges, but also big money to provide broadband Internet to Americans who can’t afford it; upgrade the power grid in ways that facilitate the switch to renewable energy; and create a coast-to-coast network of electric-vehicle charging stations.

Okay, but there was no way (according to the conventionally wise) that the whole Senate Democratic caucus, from Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on the left to Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) on the right, would agree on a budget framework. Yet they did, and the massive $3.5 trillion resolution — which Democrats can pass through the reconciliation process, without GOP votes — addresses all the party’s major spending priorities, including the urgent need to address climate change.

Well, said worrywarts, there was absolutely, positively no way that the creaking, dysfunctional Senate could possibly do both those things — infrastructure and the budget — at the same time, as Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democrats were demanding. Yet, again, that is precisely what Schumer accomplished. Done and done.

So now we’re hearing that the hard part actually lies ahead, because Pelosi will inevitably face an uprising by her progressives, her moderates or both. Indeed, this could happen. But I would submit that Pelosi’s record demonstrates she knows a lot more about how to get the House to do what she needs than any of the Cassandras predicting her certain failure.

I would also submit that Democrats in both chambers are acting quite pragmatically, regardless of what they might be saying. Sanders’s first hope was for $6 trillion; he settled for $3.5 trillion. Manchin now says even that smaller amount is too much — but he voted for it anyway. Progressives in the House are vocal in their demands — they pushed Biden into extending the eviction moratorium — but thus far, at least, they have given Pelosi their votes when it counted.

Democrats should realize that if you add in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which gives unprecedented support to low- and middle-income families with children, Biden is steering the most progressive sea change in U.S. governance in half a century. And he, Schumer and Pelosi are doing this with a 50-50 Senate and just a single-digit majority in the House. I, for one, am impressed.

All right, if you must worry about something, worry about voting rights. Schumer is now working with Manchin, Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.) and a few other senators to draw up a voting rights bill the whole Senate Democratic caucus will support. There may come a point when Manchin has to decide whether to let the Republican minority filibuster — and kill — a measure he himself wrote. He could make the wrong choice.

But for now, Democrats, give yourself at least a few days to admire all that is being accomplished. For a change, take yes for an answer.

Note to readers:  I was unable to respond to your comments yesterday, for I was very much under the weather.  After 12 hours of sleep, I’m about 50% better today, and I will try to get to all your comments, but if I am not able to, I apologize.

For The People Act Cannot Die — Here’s Why

After the Census Bureau released detailed population and demographic data from the 2020 census yesterday, states and local governments are set to begin the once-a-decade process of drawing new voting district boundaries known as redistricting. And gerrymandering — when those boundaries are drawn with the intention of influencing who gets elected — is bound to follow.

The current redistricting cycle will be the first since the Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling that gerrymandering for party advantage cannot be challenged in federal court, which has set the stage for perhaps the most ominous round of map drawing in the country’s history.

In the unlikely event that the For the People Act passes the Senate, gerrymandering will be relegated to the annals of history, but since that is about as likely as me growing a pair of wings and flying far, far away, I will take this opportunity to redux my explanation of gerrymandering from a post I did back in 2019:

Gerrymandering, for any who may be unclear on precisely what the term means, is a means of re-drawing district maps to manipulate the boundaries in order to favour one party over the other.  The Washington Post published an excellent article explaining the process  back in March 2015  that I urge you to take a look at.  The graphic below, taken from that article, provides a pretty good visual explanation.

Every 10 years, states redraw their legislative and congressional district lines following the census. Because communities change, redistricting is critical to our democracy: maps must be redrawn to ensure that districts are equally populated, comply with laws such as the Voting Rights Act, and are otherwise representative of a state’s population. Done right, redistricting is a chance to create maps that, in the words of John Adams, are an “exact portrait, a miniature” of the people as a whole.

Trouble is, it is almost never ‘done right’.

While legislative and congressional district shapes may look wildly different from state to state, most attempts to gerrymander can best be understood through the lens of two basic techniques: cracking and packing.

Cracking splits groups of people with similar characteristics, such as voters of the same party affiliation, or perhaps the same … skin colour … across multiple districts. With their voting strength divided and diluted, these groups struggle to elect their preferred candidates in any of the districts.

Packing is the opposite of cracking: map drawers cram certain groups of voters into as few districts as possible. In these few districts, the “packed” groups are likely to elect their preferred candidates, but the groups’ voting strength is weakened everywhere else.

While historically both parties have used gerrymandering to their advantage, today it is largely the Republicans who do so in order to disenfranchise certain groups, among them Blacks, the elderly, college students, and the working poor.  Now, coupled with the blatant voter suppression laws that are being proposed and legislated in 42 of the 50 states, and … well, you can see the problem.  Black people’s voices will be diluted, as will the elderly and others, while white Christians will have their voices amplified.  One piece of legislation can halt both voter suppression laws and gerrymandering in their tracks:  the For the People Act.

In a nutshell, this bill, which has already passed in the House of Representatives and is lying dormant in the Senate today, will …

  • Make it easier for every eligible voter to register to vote
  • Make it easier for every registered voter to vote
  • Make election day a public holiday
  • Ban partisan gerrymandering by prohibiting adoption of any map that has the intent or effect of “unduly favoring or disfavoring” one political party over another
  • Require that congressional redistricting be transparent and participatory, with open meetings and public hearings, opportunities for the public to review and comment on proposed maps
  • Require that states carry out congressional redistricting using independent commissions that:
    • prohibit current and recent lawmakers, staff, and lobbyists and others with conflicts of interest from serving on the commission;
    • include an equal number of Republican, Democratic, and unaffiliated or third-party members selected through a rigorous screening process, with voting rules designed to ensure that maps can pass only with support from all three groups; and
    • include members who are representative of the state’s demographic makeup and different geographic regions, with enough members from racial, ethnic, and language minorities to give those groups a meaningful opportunity to participate in the redistricting process

There is much, much more in this bill that would bring equity and fairness back into our election process, and I do plan to cover more of it in the near future, but … the bill is on the chopping block and desperately needs to be resuscitated.  It is subject to the senate filibuster, an archaic, racist tool that is used by the minority party to keep legislation they don’t like from ever passing any legislation.  In this case, however, We the People need to step up to the plate, we need to fight tooth and nail to get this legislation passed!  This may, in fact, be the single most important bill on the docket of this Congress — even more crucial than the infrastructure bill.

Why, exactly, don’t the Republicans want to allow the For the People Act to see the light of day?  Because in a fair and honest election, few Republicans would stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected.  Ever since they showed their racist side in response to a Black man being elected president, and then backed a raving madman with zero qualifications for the presidency in 2016, the Republican Party has been on a downhill path, eschewing sound policymaking and instead engaging in lies, cheating, conspiracy theories, and such nefarious practices to win elections.  In 2016, their hero lost by 2.8 million votes, but due to gerrymandered districts, was placed in the Oval Office by the Electoral College.  The minority ruled.  Last year, that same hero lost by more than 7 million votes, and the Republicans are determined not to allow that to happen again, even if it means stopping the votes of the majority.  And if all else fails, there is little doubt in my mind that they will have a ‘Plan B’, likely something along the lines of what happened on January 6th.

If we care at all about this nation, if we care about how our government spends our hard-earned tax dollars and how they treat people, then we must DEMAND that the Senate pass this damn bill!!!  Otherwise, welcome to the Plutocracy of the dis-United States.

Revisionist History … Then And Now

There are so many critical issues happening in the country, in the world today, that it should be possible to write two posts a day without ever repeating myself.  But there are a few issues that take precedence over all else:  racism, voting rights, climate change, the corruption of certain legislators, and the assault on the very foundation of our country.  So, please forgive me if I seem to repeat these topics, for they simply cannot be allowed to fade into oblivion as some would like to see happen.

The events of January 6th are being lied about, Republicans are doing everything in their power to make the country forget that but for some very dedicated police officers, we might today be living in an autocratic state, the results of our vote last November having been cast to the wind.  Columnist Dana Milbank has written of the attempts to whitewash the event, comparing this to the Civil War which southerners tried to claim was not about slavery, but about states’ rights, and that the Confederates were the true ‘patriots’, in much the same way that some are calling the terrorists who attacked the Capitol ‘patriots’.  We must never forget what happened on that day, who instigated it, and what the goal of the attack was.  Mr. Milbank explains it far better than I can …


We can’t let the terrorists rewrite the history of Jan. 6

Opinion by

Dana Milbank

Columnist

History, the adage goes, is written by the victors.

Would that it were true.

In the Civil War, the U.S. Army, at a staggering human cost, eventually crushed the traitors who took up arms against their own country. But Lost Cause mythology rewrote the rebellion as a conflict over states’ rights, portrayed Confederates as gallant heroes fighting impossible odds, romanticized plantation life and sanitized slavery. The fictions, taught to generations of southerners, fueled Jim Crow and white supremacy.

In the retelling of Jan. 6, we see an echo of Lost Cause mythology. On that terrible day, terrorists took up arms against the United States, sacking the seat of the U.S. government in a deadly rampage. White supremacists marauded through the Capitol. It was a coup attempt, aimed at overturning the will of the people with brute force, encouraged by a defeated president and his allies. The Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police, badly outnumbered, ultimately prevailed in putting down the insurrection.

But now the losers are trying to rewrite the history of that day. The terrorists were “patriots.” Theirs was a “normal tourist visit.” They weren’t armed. They were “hugging and kissing” the police. A woman, shot as she breached the last barrier keeping elected representatives from the mob, was a martyr shot in cold blood. The Capitol Police were ill-trained. It was Nancy Pelosi’s fault.

The losers, again, are trying to write the history. They must not be allowed to succeed — for if they do, they will certainly try again to attack democracy.

President Biden joined the battle against the revisionists on Thursday as he presented the Congressional Gold Medal to the police who saved democracy on Jan. 6. “We cannot allow history to be rewritten,” he said.

In a speech honoring the heroism of the police, Biden, at one point brushing a tear from his eye, called the attackers what they were. “A mob of extremists and terrorists launched a violent and deadly assault on the People’s House and the sacred ritual to certify a free and fair election,” he said. “It was insurrection … It was unconstitutional. And maybe most important, it was fundamentally un-American.”

To that list of labels, Ty Seidule adds one more: “It was a lynch mob.”

Seidule is qualified to say so. A retired U.S. Army general, he taught history for two decades at West Point. Now at Hamilton College, he’s the author of “Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause,” a disembowelment of Lost Cause lies he learned in his own upbringing as a White southerner.

He told me of the disgust he felt when he saw a photo of an insurrectionist in the Capitol on Jan. 6 carrying the Confederate battle flag — “the Flag of Treason,” he calls it — past a portrait of Charles Sumner, the abolitionist senator nearly caned to death by Preston Brooks, a proslavery congressman from South Carolina. Seidule wanted to suit up in his old uniform and fight the Capitol terrorists. “The people who did that need to be in orange jumpsuits and shackles,” he said.

In his book, Seidule writes of the importance of words in defeating the Lost Cause lies. It wasn’t “Union” against “Confederate,” he argues. It was the “U.S. Army fighting … against a rebel force that would not accept the results of a democratic election and chose armed rebellion.” Confederate generals didn’t fight with “honor”; they abrogated “an oath sworn to God to defend the United States” and “killed more U.S. Army soldiers than any other enemy, ever.” It wasn’t “the War Between the States,” as Lost Cause mythology would have it; the Civil War was, properly, “The War of the Rebellion.” They weren’t “plantations” as glorified by Margaret Mitchell, but “enslaved labor farms.” Writes Seidule: “Accurate language can help us destroy the lies of the Lost Cause.”

So, too, can accurate language destroy the lies now being floated to justify Jan. 6.

These were not tourists. These were not patriots. They were terrorists, as D.C. police officer Daniel Hodges, savagely beaten on Jan. 6, labeled them in congressional testimony. They were armed — with rebar, poles, knives, bear spray, tasers and an untold number of firearms — and they were unspeakably violent in their attack on the duly elected government of the United States.

The revisionist history serves a purpose: Sanitizing sedition so the foes of democracy will be able to attack it again, but successfully. This is why those who still revere our democracy must answer the lies with the true stories of Jan. 6 — again and again. “We’re not going to let them win the narrative,” Seidule said. “History is too important.”