Fifty Years …

On this day in 1973, exactly 50 years ago, the United States Supreme Court decided in the case of Roe v Wade to decriminalize abortion and give women the right to make decisions about their own bodies.  The vote was 7-2 with only Justices Rehnquist and White voting against it. Until seven months ago, June 24, 2022, we thought we would be celebrating the 50th anniversary of this momentous decision, but instead we are once again fighting to be treated fairly, fighting in many cases for our very lives.

Members of the Supreme Court on April 20, 1972. Front row, from left: Justices Potter Stewart and William O. Douglas; Chief Justice Warren E. Burger; Justices William J. Brennan Jr. and Byron R. White. Back row, from left: Justices Lewis F. Powell Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Harry A. Blackmun and William H. Rehnquist. (John Rous/AP)

Above is the Supreme Court of 1973.  It would be another eight years until the first woman justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, would take her seat on the Court in 1981.  In June 2022, when the decision in the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization was handed down, there were three women on the Court, and yet women’s rights were slashed.  Six days after the Dobbs decision, a fourth woman, Ketanji Brown Jackson, would take her seat, bringing the number of women on the court to a historic four.

Formal group photograph of the Supreme Court as it was been comprised on June 30, 2022 after Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson joined the Court. Seated from left are Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito and Elena Kagan. Standing from left are Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Even prior to Roe v Wade, in most states a woman could have an abortion if the pregnancy threatened her life, but since the decision in the Dobbs case, many states have even taken that right away.  The woman is left to die, else forced to travel to a friendlier state where her life is deemed to have some value.

Since the founding of this nation, when it was written in the Declaration of Independence, signed on August 2nd, 1776, that “… all men are created equal,” leaving women out altogether, we have been fighting to be included in that ‘equality’.  Women have had to fight for the right to own property, to divorce their husband, to receive equal pay for equal work, and perhaps most importantly, to vote.  To this day, the nation has failed to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, that would codify equal rights for all citizens, regardless of gender.  The Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed in December 1923, nearly 100 years ago, and still has not managed to pass.  Its history is long and convoluted, albeit interesting.  If you’re interested, check out this article in History.com.

Now, I could make a damn good argument for why I think the Supreme Court made a huge mistake in their ruling on Dobbs, but you likely already know the argument.  Instead, I’d like to pose a question, one that has bothered me ever since I was old enough to ponder such things:

Why are women considered somehow lesser beings than men to begin with?

Is it because of that religious myth that man was created first, and woman was an afterthought created from a rib bone of a man?  Is it because we are typically smaller?  Is it because our voices aren’t as deep?  Is it because we don’t have that all-important extra appendage (I’m trying to keep it family-friendly here so as not to offend)?  Seriously, I have never understood why we are still, after all these thousands of years, considered somehow … substandard.

Women have proven themselves in every field – law, medicine, education, politics, science, business – and yet we are deprived of our rights simply because we are women.  We still struggle against that ‘glass ceiling’ in the corporate world, though we’ve come a long way.  Look at the demographics of the U.S. Congress … the most recently elected House of Representatives has 29% women, and in the Senate, 25% … though women comprise some 50.47% of the population. And this is a 59% increase from a decade ago!  You can probably guess which political party has the highest percentage of women … and it isn’t the Republican Party.

Talk is cheap.  Saying that women have equal rights, but denying them the right to even make decisions regarding their own health choices, is hypocrisy.  A man can walk into a doctor’s office and walk out 15 minutes later with a prescription for Viagra that will enable him to engage in sex all night long if he chooses, but a woman is denied the right to even birth control in many states.  A woman who is raped and becomes pregnant cannot get an abortion in many states today, but must be forced to live with the results of a crime for the rest of her life, while the child’s sire sits in a bar bragging about yet another ‘conquest’.

I don’t understand it, will never understand it, but I know it’s wrong.  Today, we should be celebrating 50 years of Roe v Wade, 50 years of women’s rights, of respect for women.  Instead, we are back to square one … no wait … we are actually at square minus one, because birth control is harder for us to get now, and even in cases where a woman’s life is at risk, abortion is illegal in many states.  We were actually better off 50 years ago.  All thanks to Justices Alito, Thomas, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Barrett, and Chief Justice Roberts.  I hope that someday, somehow, it comes back to haunt each and every one of them.

No delusions – poor governance in action

The U.S. House of Representatives is supposed to be “the people’s” branch of Congress, but today it is anything but. The goals of about half the members of the House do not align with the goal of a government that is “… of the people, by the people, for the people.” Check out what our friend Keith has to say about the House and responsible governance.

musingsofanoldfart

In case you had any delusions that the new majority in the US House would offer up good governance, please note:

– Returning Congress representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar have been seated on Committees by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, after being removed in the last Congress for their inflammatory and inane remarks. When I think of Greene and Gosar, the words reasonable and collaborative are not top of mind.

– New Congressman George Santos, the one with the highly fabricated resume, will be seated on two Committees by Speaker McCarthy. Instead of advocating for his being censured or even removed, Santos gets two Committee assignments. I guess the Speaker holds lying in higher regard than most people. Either that or he needed his vote to remain Speaker and will put up with anything.

– Numerous bills have been proposed to restrict voting. As an independent voter, the greater problem…

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The Legacy Of MLK — 55 Years Later

Sunday would have marked the 94th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, had he not been gunned down at the age of 39.  He was alive fewer years than he’s been dead, but his name and his work have not been forgotten.  Even young people who were not born until long after his murder know the legacy of Dr. King.

Yes, his legacy lives on, and yet …

  • Duante Wright, age 20
  • George Floyd, age 46
  • Breonna Taylor, age 26
  • Atatiana Jefferson, age 28
  • Botham Jean, age 26
  • Philando Castile, age 32
  • Alton Sterling, age 37
  • Freddie Gray, age 25
  • Tamir Rice, age 12
  • Michael Brown, age 18

SAY THEIR NAMES!!!

These are but a few of the Black Americans who were killed by police, some while sleeping in their own beds, others playing in a park or stopped for a routine traffic violation.  Killed for the crime of being Black. All were unarmed.  Many of them I have written about previously.  Today … we are no better as a nation than we were on April 4th, 1968, the day that Dr. King was gunned down by a white ‘man’, James Earl Ray, at 6:01 p.m. on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee.

Even today, we have lawmakers doing everything in their power to disenfranchise Black people.  Even today, there are ever-growing groups in this nation who believe, or claim to believe, that the only “true Americans” are white Christians.  Even today, Black people are shunned by some, are considered to be of lesser intelligence.  Here’s a video clip from a 1964 CBS News program Face the Nation where Dan Rather asks Dr. King a question … and the answer is prophetic.

And as Mr. Rather says in a portion of his latest newsletter …

The record shows that in the decades that followed, the grim scenario Dr. King lamented in our exchange largely came to pass. In 1968, Richard Nixon used dog whistle appeals to racism in his euphemistic “Southern Strategy” to win the White House. In the ensuing years, what had been a “Solid South” for Democrats tracing back to the Civil War became a wall of red states that helped propel Republicans to power. From Ronald Reagan’s demonizing “welfare queens” to George H.W. Bush’s Willie Horton ad, Republicans had concocted a playbook of racist appeals in order to win the white vote. With Trump, dog whistles became bullhorns.

Make no mistake, if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he would be stigmatized as ‘woke’ and attacked accordingly.

Everything Dr. King stood for is under attack in America today. You can see it in efforts to disenfranchise voters. You can find it in the whitewashing of history and the demonization of so-called “critical race theory.” Whether it’s the banning of books, attacks on labor rights, or the death knell of affirmative action, an America of ideas, engagement, and reckoning with our past is under siege. In the sneers at “wokeness,” one finds an effort by the privileged to hold onto the positions of power they feel they are owed. It is an insult to everything Dr. King hoped to achieve.

A significant proportion of today’s Republican Party has been taken over by performative hatred, lies, and reactionary attempts to undermine American democracy. This dynamic presents new and unique challenges to our journey toward justice. Dr. King would have been fearless in denouncing these forces of hatred and autocracy.

Yesterday I posted my annual tribute to Dr. King, including a portion of his “I Have a Dream” speech.  Given the lack of true progress in the 55 years since his assassination, I sadly predict that his dream will never be realized in this country.  You can legislate equality and justice for all, but you cannot control how people think, and laws are only as good as the ability and willingness to enforce them.

Today there is a growing movement to stop teaching about Dr. Martin Luther King in the schools, to stop teaching about the racism that led to his works, his activism.  Will people in 50 more years even know who he was, let alone what he stood for, what he did?  Not if some of the current politicians have their way — they would sooner erase his name from the history books.  Dr. King spent and ultimately gave his life trying to bring the people of this nation out of the darkness, but today there are those who prefer that darkness, who prefer to live in a privileged white world, who have no humanity.

Honouring Dr. Martin Luther King …

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a federal holiday in the United States to honour one of the greatest men who ever lived in this country.  I first wrote this tribute to Dr. King in 2017, and each year I reprise it, with slight changes or minor additions, for I find that it still says exactly what I wish to say.  Given the increase in racism in the United States in recent years, I think the above quote seems more apt today than ever before.  Over the past year, we have seen many efforts to ban the teaching of historical racism in our schools on the grounds that it might “make white children feel bad”.  BULLSHIT!!!  There is more than enough blame to go ’round for the racism in this nation and we ALL must bear our share.  So please, take just a minute to, if nothing else, listen once again to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  In these troubled times, it is good to be reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.  More than ever, I wish we had a few Dr. Martin Luther Kings fighting for equality and justice for all today.


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” 

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

mlk-3Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15 January 1929.  He would have been 94 years old yesterday, had he lived. On this day, we celebrate not only his life, but also his legacy. Martin Luther King Day celebrates not only Dr. King, but the movement he inspired and all those who helped move forward the notion of equal rights for ALL people, all those who worked tirelessly during the civil rights era of the 1960s, as well as those who are continuing the good fight even in this, the year 2023.  Dr. King’s fight lives on, even though we have moved further away than before from his dream.

Dr. King, along with President John F. Kennedy, was the most moving speaker I have ever heard.  To this day, I cannot listen to his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech without tears filling my eyes.  If you haven’t heard it for a while, take a few minutes to watch/listen … I promise it will be worth your time.

This post is both a commemoration and a plea for us to carry on the work that was only begun, not yet finished, more than five decades ago.  Today we should remember some of the great heroes of the civil rights movement, those who worked tirelessly, some who gave their lives, that we could all live in peace and harmony someday: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Roy Innes, Medgar Evers, Stepen Bantu Biko, Booker T. Washington, John Lewis, Percy Julian, Marcus Garvey, Desmond Tutu, E.D. Nixon, James Meredith, and so many more.  I am willing to bet there are some on this list of whom you’ve never heard, or perhaps recognize the name but not the accomplishments. If you’re interested, you can find brief biographies of each of these and more at Biography.com .

Yet, while we celebrate the achievements of Dr. King and the others, there is still much to be done. Just look around you, read the news each day. Think about these statistics:

  • More than one in five black families live in households that are food insecure, compared to one in ten white families
  • Almost four in ten black children live in a household in poverty, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Among prime-age adults (ages 25 to 54), about one in five black men are not in the labor force, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Although blacks and whites use marijuana at approximately the same rate, blacks are over 3 and a half times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession
  • For every dollar earned by a white worker, a black worker only makes 74 cents
  • Black families are twice as likely as whites to live in substandard housing conditions
  • Black college graduates now have twice the amount of debt as white college graduates
  • The likelihood of a black woman born in 2001 being imprisoned over the course of her lifetime is one in 18, compared to 1 in 111 for a white woman
  • Similarly, the likelihood of a black man being imprisoned is 1 in 3, compared to 1 in 17 for a white man
  • Of black children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, about half of them will still be there as adults, compared to less than one-quarter of white children

Data courtesy of the Brookings Institute – for charts and supporting details of above date, please click on link. 

And of course the above data does not even touch upon the recent spate of hate crimes, racial profiling, and police shootings against African-Americans.  There is still much of Dr. King’s work to be accomplished. But who is left to do this work?  Most of the leaders of yore are long since gone. There are still noble and courageous people out there carrying on the programs and works of Dr. King and the others, but their voices are perhaps not as loud, and there are none so charismatic as the late Dr. King.

In the current environment of racial divisiveness, we need more than ever to carry on what Dr. King only started. Instead, the past several years have found our nation backtracking on civil and human rights in a number of areas, ranging from discriminatory travel bans against Muslims to turning a federal blind eye to intentionally racially discriminatory state voter-suppression schemes, to opposing protections for transgender people, to parents demanding a re-write of our history to salve their own consciences.  I think Dr. King would be appalled if he returned to visit today.

In a speech on April 12th, 1850, then-Senator and future President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis said:

“This Government was not founded by negroes nor for negroes, but by white men for white men.” [1]

That was wrong then, it is wrong today, and it will always be wrong.  That is what Dr. Martin Luther King fought against, that is what I rail and sometimes rant against, that is why we need activists and groups dedicated to fighting for equality for all people … today, tomorrow, and forever.

Here is a bit of trivia you may not know about Dr. King …

  • King’s birth name was Michael, not Martin.
    The civil rights leader was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929. In 1934, however, his father, a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. As a result, King Sr. changed his own name as well as that of his 5-year-old son.

  • King entered college at the age of 15.
    King was such a gifted student that he skipped grades nine and 12 before enrolling in 1944 at Morehouse College, the alma mater of his father and maternal grandfather. Although he was the son, grandson and great-grandson of Baptist ministers, King did not intend to follow the family vocation until Morehouse president Benjamin E. Mays, a noted theologian, convinced him otherwise. King was ordained before graduating college with a degree in sociology.


  • King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not his first at the Lincoln Memorial.
    Six years before his iconic oration at the March on Washington, King was among the civil rights leaders who spoke in the shadow of the Great Emancipator during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom on May 17, 1957. Before a crowd estimated at between 15,000 and 30,000, King delivered his first national address on the topic of voting rights. His speech, in which he urged America to “give us the ballot,” drew strong reviews and positioned him at the forefront of the civil rights leadership.


  • King was imprisoned nearly 30 times.
    According to the King Center, the civil rights leader went to jail 29 times. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience and on trumped-up charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.


  • King narrowly escaped an assassination attempt a decade before his death.
    On September 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s department store when he was approached by Izola Ware Curry. The woman asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr. After he said yes, Curry said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” and she plunged a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. The tip of the blade came to rest alongside his aorta, and King underwent hours of delicate emergency surgery. Surgeons later told King that just one sneeze could have punctured the aorta and killed him. From his hospital bed where he convalesced for weeks, King issued a statement affirming his nonviolent principles and saying he felt no ill will toward his mentally ill attacker.


  • King’s mother was also slain by a bullet.
    On June 30, 1974, as 69-year-old Alberta Williams King played the organ at a Sunday service inside Ebenezer Baptist Church, Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols and began to fire shots. One of the bullets struck and killed King, who died steps from where her son had preached nonviolence. The deranged gunman said that Christians were his enemy and that although he had received divine instructions to kill King’s father, who was in the congregation, he killed King’s mother instead because she was closer. The shooting also left a church deacon dead. Chenault received a death penalty sentence that was later changed to life imprisonment, in part due to the King family’s opposition to capital punishment.

Dr. King fought and ultimately gave his life for the values I believe in, the values that should define this nation, though they often do not.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a hero of his time … thank you, Dr. King, for all you did, for the values you gave this nation, and for the hope you instilled in us all that your dream will someday come true.

[1] (Kendi, 2016)   stamped

Note:  Our friend TokyoSand has written a post with ideas for how each of us can help carry on Dr. King’s legacy … I hope you’ll pay her a visit!

Working Hard To Take Away Our Vote

For a while over the last two years, our attention was focused on voting rights.  After the false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, states – particularly predominantly Republican states – used the claims as an excuse to pass restrictive laws, allegedly to make elections more secure, but in reality, to disenfranchise the sort of voters who are more likely to vote for Democrats.  These groups include single working moms, Blacks & Hispanics, college students, and low-income families.

I’ve never heard of Robert Spindell before, and unless you live in the state of Wisconsin, you probably never have, either.  Spindell is a longtime GOP activist in Wisconsin, and also the chairman of the GOP’s 4th congressional district in Milwaukee.  He was one of the fake electors who claimed that Donald Trump won in Wisconsin, and he faces three lawsuits for his role in that attempted fraud.  But none of that is why he crossed my radar last night.  Here is what he said that brought him to my attention …

“In the City of Milwaukee, with the 4th Congressional District Republican Party working very closely with the RPW, RNC, Republican Assembly & Senate Campaign Committees, Statewide Campaigns and RPMC in the Black and Hispanic areas, we can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.”

Bragging about disenfranchising some 37,000 Black and Hispanic voters!!!  WTF???

The information was verified by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel …

“Milwaukee had the biggest proportional decline of any municipality in the county… Some 17% fewer ballots were cast in the city than in 2018, a drop off bigger than other communities in the county.”

Spindell was so proud that he wanted to take sole credit for the decline in voters, claiming it was a result of his “well thought out multi-faceted plan,” that included …

“Biting Black Radio Negative Commercials run last few weeks of the election cycle straight at Dem Candidates, and a substantial & very effective Republican Coordinated Election Integrity program resulting with lots of Republican paid Election Judges & trained Observers & extremely significant continued Court Litigation.”

One conservative commentator, James Wigderson, says that …

“It’s as if the cruelty is the point. If Spindell had been in charge of elections during Jim Crow, he would’ve bragged about literacy tests and poll taxes suppressing the Black vote.”

But the fact is that what Spindell said was just saying what most Republicans were thinking but not saying. Voter suppression has rather fallen onto the back burner of our attention of late, but believe me, friends, it’s still very much alive and well.  In my own state, a new voter suppression bill was signed into law just last month that will make it harder for the disabled and the elderly to vote.  We have no excuse absentee voting, but they are limiting ballot drop boxes to one per county, and demanding a photo ID even from absentee voters, something that has never been required in all my years of voting in this state.  Until now, we’ve only had to provide a signature for comparison purposes and either a social security or driver’s license number to request a ballot.

And if 37,000 people were disenfranchised in Milwaukee alone, then …

Granted, mid-term elections typically draw fewer voters than presidential elections, but still … this one was more relevant than most mid-terms and more people understood the stakes, so … what did happen to those 46 million voters?  Suppressive voter laws, apathy, or something else?

Spindell isn’t the only one working hard to keep voters away from the polls.  The conservative Heritage Foundation based in Washington, D.C., spent more than $5 million in 2021 lobbying for laws to block voting rights.  The foundation has a two-year strategy to spend $24 million in just eight states to press Republican-controlled legislatures to impose strict restrictions on voting, including limits on mail-in voting and early voting days.

Numerous states have either passed or are pursuing even more restrictive measures to disenfranchise certain groups, mainly the poor, Blacks, Hispanics, and college students.  There are many members of Congress, primarily found in the Republican Party, who merely pretend to bend to the will of the people while working to replace democracy with autocracy.  The aforementioned Spindell is but one, and a minor player at that, as compared to the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan and others who wield some very real power.  Some of those even sit on the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last year, Congress had an opportunity to pass significant voting rights legislation, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, but both were blocked in the Senate last January.  I would say it’s time to try again, but with McCarthy et al having taken over control of the House and being genuinely afraid of losing at least 1/3 of their seats if every person 18 and older could vote, it would be a waste of time and money.  Any improvement in voting rights for the moment will have to come at the state level.

Meanwhile, let’s keep this at the forefront of our minds, let’s not miss any opportunity to let our elected officials at all levels know that this is important to us!  The right to vote was better protected 50 years ago than it is today!  And as for Mr. Spindell … the world really does not need people like him.

Hakeem Jeffries — Man Of The Hour

While the Republicans played games and conducted a three-ring circus from Tuesday until the wee hours on Saturday morning, finally doing just what we expected all along by electing Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker of the House after 15 ballots, the Democrats remained consistent, staying for all 15 ballots and voting unanimously for the House Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries.  Nancy Pelosi left a pair of mighty big shoes to fill, but while I do not know a lot about Mr. Jeffries, from what I’ve seen he will do a good job at filling those shoes as the House Minority Leader.  His speech on Saturday, after House members had taken their oaths of office, was inspired and inspiring, and in some ways his demeanor and passion reminded me of President Obama.  He is passionate and I believe he will fight hard to work with the majority Republicans in the House, without sacrificing the values he speaks of.  His job for the next two years will not be an easy one, and he will no doubt sometimes be discouraged as he tries to work with a group of people whose values, or lack thereof, differ greatly from his own, from ours.  But if anybody can survive it and make a difference, I think Hakeem Jeffries can.  Take a look for yourself … what do you think?

Only In America

Imagine for a minute that you’re in your local grocery store, perhaps perusing the canned veggies to re-stock your pantry after the holidays, when suddenly you encounter a man wearing body armour and carrying or wearing all of these …

What do you do?  If your heart doesn’t stop, I imagine you abandon your cart of groceries and head for the nearest exit, perhaps stopping to inform a member of the staff that there is a heavily armed terrorist in aisle 8, then when you are safely outside and close to your car, you dial 9-1-1.

It happened in Atlanta, Georgia in March 2021.  A 22-year-old man, Rico Marley, was discovered in the restroom of a Publix supermarket with one of the rifles leaning against the wall, the others on his person or in his hands.  A delivery driver had entered the restroom, quickly assessed the situation, and exited quickly in search of the store manager to report what he had seen.  Quick thinking led to Mr. Marley being arrested moments later as he exited the restroom, clothed in body armour with four loaded handguns in his pockets and a rifle and a shotgun, both loaded, in a guitar bag.

Two days earlier in Boulder, Colorado, a 21-year-old man went on a shooting spree in a King Soopers grocery store, killing ten people.

Common sense and logic would tell you that there is no good reason for Rico Marley to have carried six fully loaded lethal weapons into a grocery store, nor for him to be wearing body armour.  None!  While it is often said that we cannot assume a person’s intent, it seems quite obvious to me that he intended to emulate the actions of the Boulder shooter.  Why else would he have come fully armed and ‘loaded for bear’ into a place where people are doing naught more than trying to buy food to feed their families?

But the law doesn’t always follow the same logical patterns that my mind does.  Prosecutors initially went all in on Mr. Marley’s case, charging him with 11 felonies: five counts of criminal attempt to commit a felony and six counts of possession of a weapon “during commission of or attempt to commit certain felonies.”  But alas … the following February all charges were dropped, and Marley was released from jail because, as his attorney, Charles Brant argued, he had not made any threats or fired any shots and had legally purchased his guns. Mr. Marley did not violate Georgia law, Mr. Brant said; he was “just being a person, doing what he had the right to do.”

So … let me get this straight.  The rights of a person to arm themselves to the teeth in public supersede my rights to enter a grocery store and safely buy food for my family?  Only in America do the laws protect gun owners far more than law-abiding people going about their business.  Only in America.

All but three of the fifty states have laws that allow open carry, meaning that everywhere except Illinois, Florida and California, it is perfectly legal to walk the streets, enter a grocery store or church or movie theater with a loaded gun in hand.  Isn’t it ironic that while our voting rights are being drawn tighter, making it more difficult than ever to cast a vote in some states, gun rights are being made ever broader?  While women are being stripped of their rights to make their own medical decisions, people are being given expanded rights to terrorize and intimidate with lethal weapons?

Methinks the people of this country who elect the lawmakers have a skewed set of priorities.

Letter To Incoming Senator J.D. Vance

What follows is the letter I wrote to incoming Senator James David (J.D.) Vance, the man elected to replace outgoing Senator Rob Portman of Ohio.  Feel free to alter and use, if you feel so inclined.


Senator James David Vance

448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

03 January 2023

Dear Mr. Vance,

At noon today, you will take your Oath of Office whereby you will say …

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”

I hope that you understand the tremendous responsibility you are taking on with those words.  Your responsibility is not only to the people of Ohio, but to every living being in the United States, and around the globe.  It is a solemn responsibility, not one to be taken lightly, not one to be made a mockery by playing political games.

You are new to government and have no previous experience.  For that reason, as well as some of your more questionable views and associations, I did not vote for you.  However, I believe in democracy and that the results of a free and fair election must be honoured by all, for if they are not, then our democratic foundations will crumble.  And thus, for better or for worse, you will represent the people of Ohio in the United States Senate.  I ask you to consider a few things as you take your seat.

  • Your commitment, your obligation, is to We the People, not to the Republican Party. The GOP as it is otherwise known, has largely set aside such things as values and integrity, opting instead for putting on a show to please a, shall we say less-educated, base.  I hope you will not fall into this trap, for this nation is struggling in several areas and we need serious lawmakers who come to Congress in order to address problems, to look after the best interests of the nation and its people.
  • Please do not be conned into a false set of priorities by others in your party. The things that matter most to this country are such things as the environment, gun violence, education, civil rights, wealth inequality, affordable healthcare, voting rights for all, and more.
  • Remember that your job is to legislate. Some in your party believe that their job is to seek retaliation against those in the opposing party, and to spend the bulk of their time campaigning for their next re-election bid.  This is not a playground and you are not a 6-year old child, so please try to remember that and take your job seriously.  We the People elected you and we work damn hard to pay our taxes that pay your salary.  In return, we expect you to do the work of the people, not the work of your political party, per se.

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, and I see both parties clearly, not through a partisan lens.  I have voted for members of both parties throughout my lifetime, but today I see a Republican Party in chaos, a party that has no platform, no ideology, no concern for the people, only for their own wealth and power.  If you follow along those lines, you will be a huge disappointment to the people who hired (elected) you and who pay your salary.  So please, try to take your job seriously.  If you do, you will succeed.  If you fail to, then you will be hearing from me and others and in six years (or less) you will be unemployed.

I wish you the best.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, citizen, taxpayer, voter

The Next Two Years …

Looking ahead to the next two years in the United States Congress, I think we all foresee chaos.  I don’t anticipate that the work of government, the work of We the People will be done, since the Republican-led House of Representatives has already told us they have no intention of doing their jobs.  They have made it clear they plan to obfuscate and obstruct the will of the people by impeaching not only the president (not for any crimes, real or imagined, but simply in retaliation for the twice-impeached former guy), and then they plan to defund the FBI, but only after a lengthy, costly investigation led by the likes of Gym … er, Jim Jordan, himself a criminal.  So, it would be easy to slip into despair, wondering why we are even bothering to pay taxes to keep the government running if they aren’t planning to do a damn thing about such important issues as the environment, guns, healthcare, education, voting rights, women’s rights, and the multitude of things that we hired them to address.  But Robert Hubbell has a slightly different take, one which I think deserves some pondering.  Here is a portion of his post …


The next two years.

Robert Hubbell

02 January 2023

As we enter 2023, there is no escaping the fact that we are beginning the long march toward the presidential election of 2024. As we start that journey, we have every reason to be confident about our ability to rise to the occasion. We did so in 2022, as we did in 2020 and 2018. The lesson of each of those campaigns is that our biggest challenge is overcoming the persistent media narrative that the Democratic Party is in disarray while the MAGA wing of the Republican Party is ascendant. That has not been an accurate description of the political dynamic in America since 2016, but the media has been like a dog with a bone—it won’t give up the negative narrative about the Democratic Party despite all objective evidence to the contrary.

          On the Democratic side of the scale are the results of the last three elections (or four if you consider the popular vote in 2016). On the Republican side are four losing elections and truly daunting challenges entering 2023. While we should never count on Republicans to defeat themselves, the narrative is misleading if we focus exclusively on the challenges facing Democrats—a favorite journalistic technique whenever a story is needed to predict doom for the Democratic Party.

          The stories circulating at the top of the news cycle this week highlight the challenges the Republican Party will face as it begins to awake from a six-year binge with a strange bedfellow whose appearance in the harsh morning light of 2023 should give the GOP a sinking feeling of regret and panic. Let’s see what the GOP sees in the mirror at the dawn of a new year.

The impossibility of breaking up with Trump.

          A sizable portion of the Republican Party is done with Trump—but it will be impossible for the GOP to break up with Trump. He will either be the 2024 GOP nominee, or he will destroy the party in the process of losing the nomination. Worse, just as MAGA extremism appears to have crested at the polls, Trump is forcing contenders for the nomination to “out-Trump Trump” in their quest for the 2024 nomination. See, e.g., Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, and Kari Lake.

          Trump began the new year by sending a warning shot across the bow of the Republican Party. Last week, Trump posted an article titled The Coming Split on his vanity social media platform, Truth Social. The article urged Trump to run as a third-party candidate if the GOP does not nominate him for president in 2024. See Huff Post, Trump Appears To Float Third-Party Threat If GOP Won’t Back Him | HuffPost Latest News.

          The author of the article, right-wing journalist Dan Gelernter, wrote the following:

Do I think Trump can win as a third-party candidate? No. Would I vote for him as a third-party candidate? Yes. Because I’m not interested in propping up this corrupt [GOP] gravy-train any longer. . . . What should we do when a majority of Republicans want Trump, but the Republican Party says we can’t have him? Do we knuckle under and vote for Ron DeSantis because he would be vastly better than any Democrat? I say no, we don’t knuckle under.

          As noted in the HuffPo article, current RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told Trump that if he runs as a third party, “We [the GOP] will lose forever.” McDaniel is right. If Trump leaves the GOP, it will be nearly impossible for another GOP candidate to win in a general election. And the result will be the same if Trump mounts a third-party challenge or merely sulks at Mar-a-Lago, hurling insults and raising money for Trump-affiliated PACs that he spends on legal defense and tacky parties.

          Despite Trump’s weakened state from the midterms and mounting legal problems, Kevin McCarthy’s inability to secure the votes to become Speaker is directly related to Trump’s continuing gravitational pull on the GOP. The Freedom Caucus and assorted crazies in the GOP are demanding that McCarthy veer to the extreme edges of MAGA extremism to garner their support. For example, McCarthy has floated the idea of Jim Jordan leading a Judiciary Committee investigation into FBI Director Christopher Wray because . . . . well, you know. In MAGA-world, “FBI bad, Oath Keepers good.” Trump appointed Wray as FBI Director but has been highly critical of Wray’s unwillingness to pursue Trump’s revenge agenda against Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, etc.

          Likewise, Ronna McDaniel is trying to keep her job as the Chair of the Republican Committee by saying that the top priority of Republicans in the new congressional term is “getting to the bottom of Hunter Biden’s laptop.”  That should be a pretty easy task since Rudy Giuliani has had a copy of the hard drive from Hunter Biden’s laptop since October 2020. If there is anything on the laptop worth getting to the bottom of, it should have emerged by now. More importantly, the obsession with Hunter Biden’s laptop illustrates that the Trump revenge agenda is eclipsing the ability of the GOP to pursue a substantive agenda.

          So, there you have it. Trump won’t let the GOP walk out the door without starting an internecine war that may destroy the party. And even without Trump actively trying to destroy the party, he has unleashed reactionary forces that even he cannot restrain. Over the weekend, McCarthy reportedly offered a concession to the radical wing of the Freedom Caucus that would allow a handful of Representative to call for a “no confidence” vote on the Speaker—something McCarthy previously said he would “never” do. As a result, the extremists in the GOP, like Matt Gaetz, will be controlling the GOP agenda in Congress. See Newsweek,  Steve Bannon says Matt Gaetz Will Be ‘De Facto’ Speaker After McCarthy Concessions.

          [Update: McCarthy’s humiliating offer to allow a “motion to vacate” by five members was rejected in a letter by nine Republican members sent on New Year’s Day.]

          Whatever challenges Democrats face as they move toward 2024, those challenges do not include an inevitable struggle for control of the party that will inflict grievous injury no matter the outcome. Democrats face challenges, too, and we will be reminded of them early and often by the media. So, keep in mind that the next two years will be extraordinarily difficult for the GOP, even if the media fails to mention that fact.

Dealing with the polls over the next two years.

          It was not your imagination. Polling regarding the 2022 midterms was not only wrong, it was so wrong that it may have negatively affected Democratic prospects in some contests. The NYTimes published a lengthy analysis of the polling errors in 2022. See NYTimes, The ‘Red Wave’ Washout: How Skewed Polls Fed a False Election Narrative. Kudos to the Times for engaging in introspection about how the media amplified misleading polls. The Times does not mention its own prominent role in distorting the narrative to the detriment of Democrats.

          The lengthy analysis in the Times can be distilled to the following:

  • Polls are not elections.
  • In a closely divided electorate, polls communicate virtually no useful information.
  • Republicans have figured out how to manipulate polls.
  • Polling aggregators like Fivethirtyeight.com and the media amplify the misleading polls generated by partisan affiliates of the GOP.
  • Misinformation from junk polls depressed Democratic turnout in certain instances.

          The ability of Republican pollsters to distort the media narrative had real-life consequences on the outcomes in 2022. Democratic funders abandoned Mandela Barnes in his race against Ron Johnson when garbage Republican polls began to suggest that Johnson was pulling ahead of Barnes by five points (or more). In the end, Barnes lost by one percentage point. But the “negative narrative” resulted in a fundraising edge by Ron Johnson of $26 million.

          What if Democratic funders had not abandoned Barnes based on misleading polling? Would Barnes have fared better if the Democrats had not ceded the fundraising advantage to Ron Johnson? We will never know the answers to those questions for certain. But we can stop falling for the same stupid Republican games in the future.

          So, here’s the point: Don’t stress out over polls during the next two years. We must go about our business as if every vote might be the deciding vote in every election.

The Blame Game

Our friend Keith is tired of the people we elect to do the “peoples’ business” wasting their time and our tax dollars playing the blame game, pointing fingers across the aisle to blame the ‘other side’ for their own failures. It’s time for We the Voters to wake up and understand that nothing of value gets done as long as our elected officials are acting like playground bullies. Thanks, Keith, for a timely assessment!

musingsofanoldfart

In our age of zero-sum politics, where one side must lose when the other side wins, the people who always tend to lose in these equations are the voters that put them there. Far too little gets done. Most legislators are too busy constantly running for office and blaming the other side to do what they were hired to do.

Quite simply, the “Blame Game” has to stop. Legislator, do your job, the one you were hired to do. When I see a legislator or wanna-be legislator online or TV and I hear the Blame Game start up, I turn it off. The other side is at fault for something.

I don’t want to hear it. What I want to hear is if that is a problem, what do you intend to do about it? Don’t just tell me why something is wrong or wrong in your mind, what is…

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