Stop trying to keep your job and start doing your job

I am brain-dead today, but fortunately our friend Keith is not and his thoughts here are well worth sharing. It often seems that while we dutifully pay our taxes, part of which goes to pay our elected representatives, we are not being represented. The politicos seem far more intent on keeping their power and enhancing their wealth than on doing their duty to We the People. Thank you, Keith, for putting this in perspective for us … now if only we can get the people in Congress to listen!

musingsofanoldfart

Too many legislators and elected incumbents focus on trying to keep their job rather than doing their job. As a result, things do not get done, as every issue becomes a wedge issue rather than one that needs to be solved. I have grown long past weary on this lack of leadership and stewardship.

In my career, I have consulted on and actually been a part of several mergers between organizations, both for-profit and non-profit entities. Effective mergers require due diligence, planning and diplomacy. It should not surprise people, but the majority of mergers fail to be as accretive to the cumulative value of the two separate entities as first envisioned. Some actually are dilutive to that combined value – in other words, they fail.

One of the reasons is people involved tend to focus on keeping their jobs or getting good money to leave. They get overly protective of…

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We Have Met The Enemy …

Numerous things are weighing on my mind today and as I was scrolling through the latest news today, that old Pogo saying came to mind …


Georgians love ‘batshit crazy’

I foolishly believed that people, even republicans, still had some values, some sense of right and wrong, but that notion was dispelled this morning when I read that despite every horrible thing Margie Greene has done, the voters in her party still think she is great.

At the Georgia Republican Party convention this weekend, many attendees were seen wearing “We love Marjorie” pins and when asked about her appeal, more than 20 party activists and officials mentioned her disregard for political correctness and approach to politics as a “Washington outsider.” Many said they appreciate her willingness to say what she believes, even if it is inaccurate or dangerous — the same traits they admired in the former guy.

Some of the comments …

“If that were me up there, I’d be doing the same thing. Though she probably does it with more tact.”

“She’s very dynamic, very personable. She’s someone who’s different from the typical politician.”

“When you go to her district and talk to people about her, they’re going to tell you, ‘we like the job she’s doing.’”

My advice is to stay out of Georgia … there’s something toxic in the air there!


Da judge is WRONG!!!

I don’t typically purport to have greater intelligence or better knowledge than judges, but in this case I do.  On Friday night, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of the Southern District of California overturned California’s longtime ban on assault weapons, saying the state’s law was unconstitutional and that prohibiting such firearms for decades was “a failed experiment.”

The judge not only said that sections of the state ban in place since 1989 regarding military-style rifles violate the Second Amendment, but he compared weapons such as the AR-15 to a Swiss army knife, saying …

“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”

BULLSHIT!!!!  Now tell me, which of these two would you rather confront?

              

California Attorney General Rob Bonta plans to file an appeal on behalf of the State of California.  I agree with Bonta when he says …

“Today’s decision is fundamentally flawed. There is no sound basis in law, fact, or common sense for equating assault rifles with Swiss Army knives — especially on Gun Violence Awareness Day and after the recent shootings in our own California communities.”

Let us hope that the appellate court has better sense than Judge Benitez!!!


The fox guarding the henhouse

You remember Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, right?  He’s the one who attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election by filing lawsuits against four states – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – claiming that pandemic-era changes to election procedures in those states violated federal law and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the states from voting in the Electoral College.  He wanted the Court to simply throw out the votes of every person in those states!  His efforts failed, for even then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr, another Trump toadie, stated that there was no evidence whatsoever of the voter fraud Paxton and other blind fools were claiming.

At any rate, Paxton is back in the news and in my book should be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and charged with treason.  Why?  On Friday Paxton appeared on Steve Bannon’s program and said that if he hadn’t blocked a large number of postal votes in 2020, President Biden would have won in the state of Texas!  He openly admits to rigging the election!!!

“If we’d lost Harris County—Trump won by 620,000 votes in Texas. Harris County mail-in ballots that they wanted to send out were 2.5 million, those were all illegal and we were able to stop every one of them. Had we not done that, we would have been in the very same situation—we would’ve been on Election Day, I was watching on election night and I knew, when I saw what was happening in these other states, that that would’ve been Texas. We would’ve been in the same boat. We would’ve been one of those battleground states that they were counting votes in Harris County for three days and Donald Trump would’ve lost the election.”

NEWSFLASH … Donald Trump DID lose the election, and based on Paxton’s words, he lost by far more than we are told!  The people of Texas ought to be gunning for this asshole, ought to be demanding his immediate resignation!

The Week’s Best Cartoons 6/5

One thing I love about Saturdays is the collection of the week’s best political/editorial cartoons that our friend TokyoSand publishes weekly.  This week’s topics range from Pride Month to the ignominious senate filibuster to racism to the current state of freedom in the U.S. to the killing of the January 6 commission and more.  Thank you, TS, for this great collection!


Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons over at Political Charge!

Was 2020 Just A Dress Rehearsal?

If you thought the chaos and violence that surrounded last year’s presidential election was bad, many speculate that what will happen in 2024 will make 2020 look like a walk in the park.  Take a look at what Washington Post editor Fred Hiatt has to say … a view that is shared by many political analysts today.


Voter suppression is bad. But this tactic is even worse.

Opinion by 

Fred Hiatt

Editorial page editor

President Donald Trump’s effort to steal the 2020 presidential election fell short. Now Republicans across the country are promoting changes to laws and personnel that could allow him — or someone like him — to succeed in 2024.

I’m not referring to the hundreds of GOP proposals in statehouses across the country that will make it harder for many people, in particular Black Democrats, to vote. Those measures are egregious and offensive. They are the strategy of a party that has given up on winning by putting forward more appealing policies and candidates and so hopes to win by keeping as many of its opponents away from the ballot box as possible.

What I’m talking about is in some ways even more insidious: an insurance policy to potentially steal the election if the vote-suppression strategy fails.

Recall Trump’s post-election campaign last fall. Having lost decisively, he thought he could pressure local and state officials to nullify the results.

He implored the Republican majority in the Pennsylvania legislature to defy their people’s will and appoint a slate of electors who would vote for him in Washington.

He urged the Georgia secretary of state to claim that Joe Biden’s victory there was fraudulent.

He pressured the Michigan Board of State Canvassers not to certify Biden’s clear victory in their state.

He failed because enough local officials had more integrity and courage than a majority of the Republican caucus in the U.S. House has mustered. The leaders of the Pennsylvania legislature said they didn’t have the authority to do what Trump was demanding. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger simply refused to go along. One of two Republicans on the Michigan board caved to the pressure, but the other, Aaron Van Langevelde, listened to his conscience, and his vote alongside the board’s two Democrats was enough to turn aside Trump’s attempted theft.

All of this was inspiring to many of us. To the anti-democracy forces ascendant in the Republican Party, it provided a challenge and a road map.

Michigan Republicans chose not to nominate Van Langevelde to another term. Raffensperger will face a primary challenge from an amplifier of Trump’s lies about election fraud, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), who already has Trump’s endorsement.

“At the end of the day, there were good people on both sides of the aisle who were determined to protect people’s right to vote,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said in a meeting with Post reporters and editors this month. “If those people change in 2022, then you have a scenario in 2024 where the good people who protected their states in 2020 aren’t there any more.”

Nor are the anti-democracy forces focused only on top officials. Another Democratic secretary of state, Arizona’s Katie Hobbs, told us that “people around the state are very worried that they’re going to come infiltrate poll workers in the next election.” The law requires a balance of Republicans and Democrats as poll workers — but, Hobbs noted, “it’s very easy to change your affiliation from R to D.”

As they target the people and positions that stood in their way last time, they also are attempting to change the rules, so a pro-Trump legislature could more easily override the will of the people — and the objections of any honest secretary of state who stood in the way.

“In 2021, state legislatures across the country — through at least 148 bills filed in 36 states — are moving to muscle their way into election administration, as they attempt to dislodge or unsettle the executive branch and/or local election officials who, traditionally, have run our voting systems.”

That is the conclusion of a recent report, “A Democracy Crisis in the Making,” by two nonpartisan organizations, States United Democracy Center and Protect Democracy, and a nonprofit law firm in Wisconsin, Law Forward.

“Had these bills been in place in 2020,” the report found, “they would have significantly added to the turmoil that surrounded the election, and they would have raised the alarming prospect that the outcome of the presidential election could have been decided contrary to how the people voted.”

One such measure was included in Georgia’s recent electoral “reform.” While many of us paid attention to the mean-spirited ban on giving water to people waiting in line — and understandably so — the intrusion of the legislature into the counting process could have far more nefarious consequences.

This is why it matters so much that Trump continues to lie about 2020, and that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and most of his party have abjectly surrendered to the lie. It’s not just about history. The lie is being used to give cover for actions that in 2024 could turn the big lie into the big steal.

I Tried To Be Nice … It’s Hard!!!

Let me start by saying that today is National Say Something Nice Day.  I may struggle with this one … let me try, though … … … … … …  🤷

Well, okay, that one didn’t work out so well, did it?  Perhaps I’ll try again later, but for now I’ll stand by that old adage “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.”  Have a nice day!

Oh wait … that qualifies as saying something nice, doesn’t it?  I mean, it even has the word ‘nice’ in it!  So now, I’ve fulfilled my obligation to say something nice and I can carry on with my normal grumbling and grousing!


In case you hadn’t heard, QAnon, the conspiracy theory group, held a ‘conference’ in Dallas, Texas, over the weekend.  QAnon must surely require that its members have an IQ under 50 in order to join, for there was, from what I’ve read, not a single bit of intelligence uttered at any point.  Reporters were largely banned from the event.  For starters, there was the infamous Sidney Powell, the attorney who filed multiple phony lawsuits on behalf of the former guy attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election that President Biden won by over 7 million votes.  Ms. Powell lost every single one of those cases.

At the QAnon conference, wearing a leather biker vest covered in Trump stickers, she spouted more nonsense, saying of the former guy …

“He can simply be reinstated. A new inauguration date is set, and Biden is told to move out of the White House, and President Trump should be moved back in. I’m sure there’s not going to be credit for time lost, unfortunately, because the Constitution itself sets the date for inauguration, but he should definitely get the remainder of his term and make the best of it.”

She’s a lawyer???  She must surely have gotten her JD out of a box of Cracker Jacks, for any sane person who ever took a course in Constitutional Law knows that what she said is pure bullshit.  But she received lots of applause and cheering for her words … there were a whole lot of fools in Dallas this weekend!

And then there was there was Louis Gohmert, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas … a man who should be held to a higher standard than to attend a meeting of a bunch of fringe lunatics!  Gohmert spent his time on stage denigrating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and claiming that the attack on Congress on January 6th was really no big deal, that no investigation is necessary, and that it wasn’t just right-wing extremists, but also the left – a theory that has been disproven multiple times.

Gohmert also suggested that the insurrection shouldn’t be a serious concern because the United States has weathered worse, including foreign attacks.

“Some of us think Pearl Harbor was the worst attack on democracy, some of us think 9/11 was the worst attack. Some of us think that those things were worse attacks on democracy.”

Pearl Harbour and 9/11 certainly took more lives than January 6th, however … they were not attacks from within, not attacks attempting to overthrow our government.  Gohmert has once again shown that he is not fit to be a member of Congress, perhaps not even fit to walk among us!

But perhaps the must heinous, most inhumane comments came from none other than Michael Flynn, the former National Security advisor who lasted only 22 days in the position before being forced to resign as a result of lying about his role in helping Russia interfere in our 2016 election.  Flynn is a former Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army and former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency … not someone you would expect to encourage a military coup, but that is precisely what he did at the QAnon conference last weekend.

During the Q&A session, Flynn was asked this question by a low-IQ attendee …

“I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can’t happen here?”

To which the traitorous Flynn replied …

“No reason. I mean, it should happen here.”

Michael Flynn would be in prison today if he had not been pardoned by the former guy.  Instead, he is spouting dangerous rhetoric to a group of people who are too stupid to have a clue what is happening in Myanmar.  Despite his response being recorded on video, Flynn later tried to weasel out and say it wasn’t what he said … or what he meant … or who knows what the man meant.

And lastly, what would a QAnon conference be without the deplorable Roger Stone?  Although I don’t think Roger showed up in person, his ‘social media advisor’, Jason Sullivan, made quite a stir.  Referring to Hillary Clinton as that “god-awful woman,” Sullivan then made a noose gesture around his neck, which was greeted with wild applause by the audience.

The real danger in all this lunacy is that there are a large number of people who actually believe the conspiracy theories.  A recent poll shows that 15% to 20% of Americans believe in tenets central to the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory movement — a minority, but not an insignificant number.  Fifteen percent of all Americans and 23% of Republicans said they agree that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”  As we saw on January 6th, these people are willing to act on their beliefs, to attempt to overthrow the government, to burn the Constitution, and fools like Sidney Powell, Mike Flynn and others are encouraging them, are pouring fuel on the fires of hatred.

They Still Walk Among Us … WHY???

The majority of the people who have been charged with attacking Congress and the Capitol on January 6th are not in jail.  On average in the U.S., only about 25% of people charged with a crime are released while awaiting trial, but among this bunch of thugs and white supremacists, 70% are out on bail at this time.

Eric Munchel, known as “Zip Tie Guy”, who was photographed wearing tactical gear and carrying wrist restraints in the Senate chamber, was released in late March, along with his mother, after an appeals court questioned whether he posed any danger outside the specific context of January 6th.

Richard Barnett, the Arkansas man photographed with his foot on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, was released in late April, nearly two months after screaming during a court hearing that “it’s not fair” that he was still in custody when “everybody else who did things much worse are already home”.

Legal experts are predicting that a substantial swath of the alleged rioters may not serve any prison time at all, even if they are convicted or plead guilty.  According to Erica Zunkel, associate director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School …

“I’m both surprised and not surprised. Most of these people are white. The majority of people in the federal system are people of color.”

And there, no matter what other excuses we may be given, lies the crux of the matter.  Racism rears its ugly head, even in matters of treason, of attempting to overthrow the government, in matters of attempting to murder the U.S. Constitution.

At least 440 people have been arrested on charges related to the January 6th attack, according to the justice department, including at least 125 charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.  Of those, 330 or more have been released from custody pending trial.  44% are charged only with misdemeanors, such as entering a restricted building or disorderly conduct.  BULLSHIT!  Each and every one was a part of a larger movement that was intended to murder people such as Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, and worse yet, to murder whatever shred of democracy remains in this country.  They fully intended to take away our votes, to turn the tables and hand over the Oval Office to the biggest thug of them all!

Richard Barnett has a webpage soliciting donations for his legal defense!  Barnett breached the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, put his nasty feet on her desk, stole her mail, and left her an obscene note, and yet he is not behind bars today.  According to the website …

For a $100 donation, “Richard will send you an autographed picture of him sitting in Pelosi’s office personally addressed to whomever you like. Richard sends his deepest thanks & appreciation for any amount of money. His employment was terminated because of public pressure to fire him after his arrest.”

The site also says that “He is instead asking those who disagree with him to reconcile the federal government’s all-out prosecution of January-sixers with its failure to prosecute the 200+ Code Pink demonstrators” from the Cavanaugh hearings.  The site also notes that this is a private campaign, as GoFundMe refused to allow his campaign.

And then there’s Federico Klein, a former State Department appointee of the former guy who participated in the attack on January 6th.  Klein was still working for the State Department on January 6th when he helped lead the assault, physically fighting against the front line of officers, even assaulting officers with a riot shield he’d stolen from them.  According to the Court filing …

“Klein’s willing and enthusiastic participation in violence against police officers protecting a lawful proceeding of Congress, for which he is charged with multiple felonies – including a crime of violence – weighs heavily in favor of detention. Not only was his individual conduct and encouragement to other rioters violent and dangerous, but his actions heightened the overall violence and dangerousness of the day.

Notably, one video captured Klein encouraging other rioters to attempt to breach the Capitol by shouting, ‘We need fresh people, we need fresh people’ multiple times.”

Arrested in March, Klein was released on an unsecured bond last month, and worse yet, it is reported that Justice Department lawyers are considering offering a plea deal to Klein.  Say WHAT???  WHY???  This is a man who served as a political appointee in the State Department from 2017 until his resignation on January 19th, 13 days after he attacked Congress.  This is a man who had taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, who had top security clearance!

On Friday, the United States Senate, by its action to deny the establishment of a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6th, told us that they do not take the assault on our government, on We the People, seriously.  They told us that We the People no longer matter.  It appears that the Department of Justice and the Courts feel the same as Congress.  So, are they going to simply give these people a slap on the wrist and tell them to behave, give them the freedom to do the same or worse after the election in 2024?  Think about it.

Just A Bit Of This ‘N That

I’m not ranting tonight, but just have a couple of little things that crossed my radar …


The cost of a letter

I remember when it cost a nickel, 5 cents, to mail a letter.  And then it was a dime.  Through the years, the cost of mailing a letter or a package has increased, which is to be expected as the cost of delivering the mail has increased.  However, the announcement yesterday that the cost of mailing a letter will soon become 58 cents, more than half a dollar, rattled me a bit.  Gone are the days when I can afford to buy and mail 50 Christmas cards to send to friends ‘n family.  Thankfully, there is email.  However, we still like to send physical cards to friends and loved ones at birthdays and holidays, and not all of us can sneeze at 58 cents to mail a damn card.  Worse yet, on average it costs $30 or more to mail a package from the U.S. to the UK … that will, no doubt, also increase to the point of costing an entire day’s pay just to mail a package.

I might not mind the cost increases so much if there were some signs that efficiency is being restored to the United States Postal Service (USPS), but instead, the current head of the USPS, Louis DeJoy, has ‘promised’ to slow down the mail, to cut efficiency … in exchange for charging us more!  DeJoy took over the job as Postmaster General in May 2020, appointed by the former guy and given the mandate to slow the mail in order to discourage and interfere with postal voting in the 2020 election.  Despite DeJoy’s best efforts, a large number of us did manage to post our postal votes either by dropping them in ballot boxes or mailing them early enough that even DeJoy couldn’t delay them past the deadline.  DeJoy should have been fired long ago, but the USPS Board of Governors seems to be pleased with his denigration of what was once a highly efficient operation serving the people of this nation well.

Where’s da ‘Joy’?

It would seem that DeJoy, just as is the case with Republicans in Congress, is still taking his marching orders from the irrelevant former guy.  Yesterday, the Senate finally managed to confirm President Biden’s three nominees to the Board of Governors.  They are Anton Hajjar, former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union, Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general, and Amber McReynolds, who leads the nonprofit National Vote at Home Institute.  It is my fondest hope that the addition of these three to the USPS Board of Governors will result in the firing … or at the very least hamstringing … of Mr. DeJoy.  We the People deserve better.


An update …

Last month I wrote about Nicole Poole Franklin, the white woman who intentionally ran down two children, one Black and one Hispanic, with her car because she didn’t like the colour of their skin.  That happened in December 2019, and Ms. Franklin was only charged last month.

On Friday, Franklin was sentenced to two 25-year sentences, one for each child she attempted to kill, to be served concurrently.  She also faces two federal hate crime charges for hitting the children because of their race and national origin. She is expected to be sentenced on August 19th for those charges and faces up to life in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for each offense.  I have no empathy for this woman and frankly hope she never walks out of prison.


This Seth Meyers clip brought me a few chuckles … perhaps it will do the same for you.

Remember These Names!

Yesterday, the following 44 republicans and two democrats flipped us the proverbial bird …

State

Senator

Party Affiliation

Alabama Richard Shelby Republican
Alabama Tommy Tuberville Republican
Alaska Daniel S. Sullivan Republican
Arizona Kyrsten Sinema Democrat
Arkansas John Boozman Republican
Arkansas Tom Cotton Republican
Florida Marco Rubio Republican
Florida Rick Scott Republican
Idaho Mike Crapo Republican
Idaho Jim Risch Republican
Indiana Mike Braun Republican
Indiana Todd C. Young Republican
Iowa Joni Ernst Republican
Iowa Chuck Grassley Republican
Kansas Roger Marshall Republican
Kansas Jerry Moran Republican
Kentucky Mitch McConnell Republican
Kentucky Rand Paul Republican
Louisiana John Neely Kennedy Republican
Mississippi Cindy Hyde-Smith Republican
Mississippi Roger Wicker Republican
Missouri Roy Blunt Republican
Missouri Josh Hawley Republican
Montana Steve Daines Republican
Nebraska Deb Fischer Republican
North Carolina Richard Burr Republican
North Carolina Thom Tillis Republican
North Dakota Kevin Cramer Republican
North Dakota John Hoeven Republican
Oklahoma Jim Inhofe Republican
Oklahoma James Lankford Republican
Pennsylvania Pat Toomey Republican
South Carolina Lindsey Graham Republican
South Carolina Tim Scott Republican
South Dakota Mike Rounds Republican
South Dakota John Thune Republican
Tennessee Marsha Blackburn Republican
Tennessee Bill Hagerty Republican
Texas John Cornyn Republican
Texas Ted Cruz Republican
Utah Mike Lee Republican
Washington Patty Murray Democratic
West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito Republican
Wisconsin Ronald Harold Johnson Republican
Wyoming John Barrasso Republican
Wyoming Cynthia Lummis Republican

These are the people who said to the citizens of this nation:

  • We do not value your lives
  • We do not honour our oaths to protect and defend the Constitution
  • We do not care about democratic processes
  • We care only for our own continuation of power
  • We are loyal lapdogs to the former ‘president’

It should also be noted that six Republicans did find their conscience and voted in favour of the commission.  My thanks go out to …

  • Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Senator Susan Collins of Maine
  • Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
  • Senator Rob Portman of Ohio
  • Senator Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska

On January 6th, a mob of thugs, domestic terrorists, white supremacists attacked the U.S. Capitol.  Five people died that day, and 140 police officers were injured.  They were protesting a fair and honest election, attempting to stop the democratic process of certifying the results of that election.  Why?  Because they had been told by the former guy and by some number of members of Congress that the election was not fair, that President Biden was not the true winner, and that somehow, they should attempt to stop the process of certifying the election.  They were encouraged and instigated by not only the former ‘president’ but also by certain members of Congress who provided them with information about the tunnels under the Capitol, about who would be where, and other vital information.  They were instigated by a member of Congress who gave them a fist-bump to show his support for their criminal activities.

Those who attacked the Capitol must be punished to the fullest extent of the law, however those who operated behind the scenes from a position of trust must be punished even more severely.  Yesterday, members of the Republican Party in Congress and two members of the Democratic Party voted or showed by their lack of vote that they are arrogant assholes, cowards who are more afraid of the former ‘president’ than they are of the people of this nation.  We elected these asses, we pay their salary, and what do we get in return?  Not one damn thing.  They turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to our pleas, to our needs, to our very lives.

Were it in my power, I would expel each and every one of these asses from Congress tomorrow.  Sadly, it isn’t, but what IS in my power is to use my voice, such as it is, to wake up the people of this nation and ensure that these asses are voted OUT of office the very next time they come up for re-election.

The truth will come out … there will be investigations either by a special House committee or by the Department of Justice.  It is my fondest hope that before the 2022 mid-term elections, we have direct evidence of the roles in the attack by such as Matt Gaetz, Margie Greene, Josh Hawley, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Kevin McCarthy and others, not to mention the former ‘president’.  These people do NOT deserve their positions, they do NOT represent us, and frankly in my book they are wasting precious resources like air, food, and water by their very existence.

Yesterday was a dark day for the United States, perhaps the darkest in my lifetime, perhaps even darker than 9/11, for yesterday we were told in no uncertain terms that the Constitution is null and void and that our lives do not matter.  This country took a huge step backward in terms of democratic principles, of fairness, honesty and integrity.  Domestic terrorists have been given a green light for future endeavours.  Ultimately, the truth will come out and justice meted out to all guilty parties.  Meanwhile, our elected officials care more about their own fortunes than about our lives.  Remember that, my friends.  Remember the names at the start of this post, for every last one of those senators has something to hide … I’d bet my life on it.

Is Bipartisanship Dead Or Merely Asleep?

Many of us have often spoken of ‘bipartisanship’, especially as it relates to the business of the United States Congress.  It’s a no-brainer, for no one party has all the best ideas and a collaboration between both parties is likely to lead to laws that are fair to all.  In theory, at least.  Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson gives us his views on bipartisanship and how impossible it has become in the reality of today’s political climate …


Bipartisanship is overrated, especially with these Republicans

Opinion by 

Eugene Robinson

Columnist

May 27, 2021 at 4:07 p.m. EDT

Bipartisanship is overrated. President Biden and Democrats in Congress should stop fetishizing it and get on with the work they know must be done.

Of course, it would be nice if a serious, responsible Republican Party willing to stand up for its principles, make substantive policy proposals and negotiate in good faith existed. As is becoming obvious, though — even to the high priest of the hands-across-the-aisle cult, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) — no such Republican Party exists. Today’s GOP is so unserious and unprincipled that it will not even support a blue-ribbon commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

“There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for,” Manchin said Thursday on Twitter. “[Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They do not believe the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear.”

His continued fealty to the filibuster notwithstanding, Manchin’s statement seemed intended to draw a line in the sand beyond which he’s not willing to give McConnell an effective veto over almost all legislation in the name of process.

If so, it’s about time. Voters snatched control of the Senate away from the Republicans and handed it to the Democrats. It’s reasonable to assume that those voters wanted forthright leadership, not hapless surrender.

McConnell’s decision to oppose the Jan. 6 commission is the perfect test case for the starry-eyed view — held by Manchin, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and a few others who are less vocal about it — that the Senate can still be made to function the way it did in the past.

Even though McConnell declared earlier this month that “one hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” surely the GOP would agree that there should be a comprehensive, nonpartisan investigation of the violent invasion of the Capitol, which left scores of police officers injured and endangered members of Congress as well as then-vice president Mike Pence. Surely, as Manchin said Thursday, there must be at least 10 Republicans willing to vote to advance legislation that has already been shaped and reshaped to accommodate the GOP’s demands. Right?

Wrong. Given McConnell’s opposition, only a few GOP senators seem prepared to support the commission bill. The Capitol had not been breached since British troops sacked and burned it in 1814. But McConnell and the Republicans are taking the position that there is nothing worthwhile to be learned by a wide-angle investigation, conducted in a setting less rancorous than congressional committees, and that it is already time to move on.

McConnell’s reasons are purely political. He does not want to anger former president Donald Trump, whose support he and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) believe they need to regain control of Congress in 2022. He does not want GOP senators and House members to have to answer inconvenient questions about their own possible roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection. He does not want Republican candidates having to answer questions about Trump’s “stolen election” lies as they campaign for the midterm elections. And he does not want to give Biden and the Democrats anything they can tout as a “win.”

The question that Biden, Manchin and others obsessed with bipartisanship must ask themselves is this: If Republicans will filibuster and block a thorough investigation into a shocking, violent, unprecedented attack on our democracy, why would they hesitate to obstruct everything else the Democrats might propose, no matter how worthy or necessary?

The White House described the Republican counteroffer on the infrastructure bill as “encouraging.” Given that the proposal nominally spends only about half of what Biden has proposed — and actually allocates even less new funding overall and none for initiatives Biden describes as vital, such as moving to a clean-energy economy — it’s more of an insult.

The GOP appears to see political benefit in coming to an agreement on police reform. But it is unclear whether those negotiations will actually reach the finish line.

And federal legislation to guarantee voting rights — an urgent priority for the Democratic Party — is a total nonstarter for Republicans. Their strategy for regaining power in 2022 appears to consist of putting as many obstacles as possible between the Democratic-leaning electorate and the ballot box.

None of this looks encouraging to me. None of it is good-faith engagement. The only glimmer of light is Manchin’s growing frustration with McConnell’s obstructionism.

Bipartisan consensus on these issues would be ideal. A sincere effort to improve Democratic bills would at least be something. But the alternative cannot be to let Republicans control the Biden administration’s agenda. Choosing powerlessness in the name of an abstract principle isn’t just weak. It’s an unseemly sacrifice of everything else Democrats say matters.

What Are Our Options?

At some point today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will call a vote to end debate on the creation of a bipartisan commission to study the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6. It will — barring some massive change — fail, doomed by the unwillingness of 10 (or more) Senate Republicans to vote for it.  Mitch McConnell has given Republicans their marching orders:  vote against it, or else.  Mitch and every other Republican are clearly eager to make the events of January 6th disappear.  I believe that if they could, they would remove January 6th from the calendar altogether.

The primary reason Republicans are so damned determined to erase January 6th from our memories is the 2022 mid-term election.  If, when the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz, Margie Greene and others come up for re-election, January 6th is still clearly in our minds, and if by then some of this crew have been shown to have played a role in the events of the day, their chances for returning to Congress in 2023 are slim-to-none.  Which is as it should be, but … Republicans don’t play by the rulebook, they play for power and are perfectly willing to break every rule in the book, even as it hurts the very people they claim to represent.

So, the idea of a commission to investigate is going to be dead on arrival by the close of today.  What next?  We simply cannot let it drop, cannot ever forget this any more than we can forget 9/11, for it was a threat to our country, our lives.  Washington Post journalist Greg Sargent recently interviewed political scientist Norman Ornstein about the options open to us.  I found it a thoughtful and thought-provoking dialog …


Republicans are likely to kill the Jan. 6 commission. But we have other options.

Opinion by

Greg Sargent

Columnist

May 19, 2021 at 4:56 p.m. EDT

Now that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has come out against the commission to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection, it’s looking increasingly like Republicans will kill it. This is especially likely given that Donald Trump has commanded them to end this entire discussion “immediately.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is set to hold a vote Wednesday on the bipartisan deal reached in the lower chamber to create a commission. That compromise was very fair and made concessions to both Republicans and Democrats.

But with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) opposed as well, it’s unlikely to get the stampede of support from House Republicans that might forestall a GOP filibuster in the Senate.

Now what?

Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein is well positioned to explain this moment and where we go from here. That’s because he was an early and very prescient observer of the GOP’s radicalization against democracy who also happens to be an expert on congressional procedure.

I spoke to Ornstein about what happens now. An edited and condensed version of our conversation follows.

Greg Sargent: What are the chances that 10 Republican senators vote for this commission?

Norman Ornstein: Once McConnell flatly opposed any commission, it created an uphill battle for getting 10 Republicans. If you got 50 Republicans in the House, then maybe it could happen. But it’s not likely.

Sargent: Let’s walk through the alternatives. One would be that Nancy Pelosi could set up a select committee tomorrow if she wanted to, right?

Ornstein: Pelosi could craft a plan for a special committee. We’ve had them many times in the House. You’d undoubtedly have the votes to do it.

Sargent: What would a select committee look like and what might be the problems with it?

Ornstein: Most select committees have an even number of members from both parties, because the whole idea is to take them away from being partisan. But there’s nothing that mandates that a select committee have equal Democrats and Republicans.

You could set it up with a slender majority of Democrats or with a larger majority. But the big challenge is the political one. You’d have to let the Speaker and the Minority Leader, or their representatives, choose the members.

Kevin McCarthy is going to do whatever he can, first, to block a committee, and second, to stack it with members designed to turn it into a farce.

Sargent: How can we have a bipartisan select committee investigate an attack that Trump incited against democracy, when one party was heavily complicit in inspiring that attack, doesn’t want to admit its own culpability for that, and is in the process of abandoning democracy?

Ornstein: It’s why I do not believe a select committee can possibly work. Republicans don’t want information to emerge about what happened on Jan. 6. They don’t want to focus on the role of the president — or their own party members.

Sargent: Could you theoretically construct a select committee to give the chair unilateral control over subpoenas?

Ornstein: Yes, you could give the chair unilateral subpoena power. But remember, congressional subpoena power is theoretically extraordinarily powerful. Practically it can be subverted fairly easily. We’ve seen instance after instance of people defying subpoenas, taking it to court, and stretching it out for years.

Sargent: A select committee would have to consist of current members, correct?

Ornstein: Yes.

Sargent: So what is our alternative?

Ornstein: There are two. One I would not like is to have the president create a group by executive order, a commission.

Sargent: You’re talking about something like the Kerner Commission created by LBJ to investigate the causes of urban rioting?

Ornstein: Yes. You could do a Kerner-type commission. And the president could pick some remarkably distinguished Republicans and Democrats to do that kind of inquiry.

For things like the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President Kennedy, there was national consensus that this was a hugely significant thing that we need to get to the bottom of.

We don’t have a party on the Republican side willing to create that national consensus. [So] it’s better if the president is not directly linked to any of this.

The whole assault was based on the “big lie” that Joe Biden didn’t win the election. If Joe Biden creates the group looking into this, it’s going to provide fodder for Trump and his acolytes to turn it against him.

Sargent: There isn’t going to be a serious inquiry into what happened that’s bipartisan.

Ornstein: The only way to make this work otherwise is if we can find a way to have the attorney general pick a group that uses the power of the Justice Department — not like a special prosecutor that can itself bring actions against people, but that could make recommendations where action by prosecutors was warranted or not. Justice Department subpoena power is a completely different matter.

Sargent: What would be the legal authority or mechanism for creating something like this?

Ornstein: The Justice Department has the responsibility to look at potential criminal violations, especially those that involve sedition. So doing it in an innovative fashion makes sense.

Whether the attorney general can do this on his own, I’m not entirely sure. If you had to have some kind of executive order, I’d rather have it done in a fashion that empowers the attorney general to do this [with] a commitment from the attorney general that he’d be hands off once this group were created.

But it seems to me you could be innovative here. The attorney general under the regulations of the Justice Department has some ability to create groups like this.

Sargent: In essence, it would be an investigation to determine whether there was criminality, and then it would produce a report on what happened, no matter what it recommended in terms of criminal charges?

Ornstein: That’s the idea. You could have a public report.

Sargent: There isn’t going to be a bipartisan effort at accountability as long as one party is committed to covering up what happened.

Ornstein: That’s the tragic and infuriating bottom line here. It’s hard to imagine something like this that doesn’t have full buy in from everybody who has a drop of patriotic blood running through his or her veins.

That you have one party which has as a singular goal evading responsibility and covering up what happened is almost beyond description.