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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps We Trusted Too Much

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

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

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

It may just be that you were wrong.

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

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

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

A quote by Nelson Mandela speaks volumes here …

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

Differences

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

The BUTHIDARS

Kevin McCarthy’s statement

Image

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

My Response.

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

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The Return Of Snarky!

Snippets, Snippets, have I ever got snippets today!  My body may be feeble, but there’s nothing wrong with my mind!


Today, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval for the Pfizer vaccine against COVID.  This does a number of things.

First, it removes the excuse the anti-vaxxers have been using for not getting the vaccine.  They said, “not without full FDA approval!”  Well, folks, now you’ve got that, so get your fat asses out there and get vaccinated … TODAY!

My granddaughter, astute for her young years, said, “I bet now they’ll say it was too fast.”  And lo and behold, just an hour after she said that I read this headline …

Goalposts Moved: Fox News is Now Complaining That FDA Rushed the Vaccine Approval Process

And if Fox says it, you know the nudniks will believe it.

Second, it allowed the Pentagon today to announce it is making the vaccine mandatory for its 1.3 million active-duty service members.  Bravo!!!

The time for argument and delay is past.  This was the last possible hurdle.  Now it’s time to think of others, put petty whining aside just for once, and do the right thing.  If a large portion of the population continue to resist, then I vote we build something akin to leper colonies and house them there until the threat has passed.


In just a few hours, Governor Andrew Cuomo will fade into oblivion … we hope.  Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take her oath of office at one minute after midnight.  I detest the confrontational attitude that Cuomo has adopted in his last weeks in office, for he is only paying the price for his own actions – nobody forced him to sexually harass women.

That said, all people are some combination of good and bad … well, most people anyway.  While Cuomo’s current crimes must be remembered, must serve as a warning to future politicos, he has also done much good during his decade in office and I think that should be remembered as well.  It is a part of his legacy, just as is his sexual misconduct.  When Pete Rose was banned from baseball for betting on the sport, I thought that right and proper, but when he was denied a well-earned place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, I thought that was wrong.  In the same way, I think it is right for Cuomo to step down, but that it would be wrong to paint Cuomo with only a single, dark brush.

Remember the good as well as the bad and take a lesson from both.


When I was trying to catch up on the news earlier today, I felt as if there were a conspiracy to direct our attention in so many directions that no single news item would stand out, would capture our full attention.  Afghanistan, of course, is at the forefront of our minds, as it should be.  Climate change and the terrible climate-related disasters happening all over the globe – floods, hurricanes, droughts, water shortages, wildfires – are critical to our future on this planet.  Getting vaccines into stubborn mules and masks onto their faces seems a never-ending struggle and is critical, for failure to do so affects the health and well-being of every man, woman and child on earth.  But what seems to have fallen through the cracks may be, at least for the people of the United States, the most important issue of them all:  voting rights.

The U.S. Senate under the minority leadership of the ignoble Kevin McCarthy is somehow determined to draw our attention away from the bills S1 and S4 so that, with our attention elsewhere, they can sweep them under the rug and wash their hands of our voting rights.

Interestingly, Maria Bartiromo of Fox ‘News’ interviewed McCarthy the other day and she surprised me.  Here’s a brief snippet from that interview …

Bartiromo:  “You a moment ago mentioned the HR 1 voting bill. I’ve got to tell you there are viewers of this program who have lost faith in the Republican Party leadership, lost faith in Mitch McConnell and in you because we do not know if you have your arms around free and fair elections.  How come there’s no discussion about all of the states that are changing their voting laws right now?  How come there’s no discussion about the audit going on in Arizona right now? What are you going to do? Can you prove to the American people that you are in control here and able to ensure that we will have free and fair elections in 2022 and 2024?”

McCarthy:  “We’re fighting every single day. Now we’re watching Democrats trying to cheat within elections, inflation at a number we have not seen. This is Jimmy Carter on steroids. And this is just eight months into this administration.  We will fight and we will win and the next century will be the American century because we know how to govern.”

That is a non-answer if ever I heard one!  He did not even begin to answer the question, not even to address the fact that some Fox viewers, according to Bartiromo, have lost faith in the Republican Party leadership, but used his answer as yet another opportunity to criticize the Democratic Party!  Get off your fat ass, McCarthy, and do your job!  We the People want the For the People Act (S1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (S4) passed and we want it done before the end of this year!!!

Folks … this one is top priority, even though it seems to have faded out of view in light of the chaos of the Afghanistan troop withdrawal.  Let’s keep it hot, okay?  We cannot allow our politicians to simply shrug their shoulders and let these two all-important bills die in the Senate.  Once again, I’m asking you, contact your Senators and let them know you have not forgotten … you will not forget.

On Women’s Rights And The ERA

Women’s rights … it has taken us centuries to have the right to own property, to marry who we choose, to divorce him if it doesn’t work out, to VOTE, to earn equal pay for equal work, to have the right to make our own decisions in matters pertaining to our bodies.  What may have taken centuries to build, has taken very little time to destroy.  Two cases caught my eye in the news yesterday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has ruled that Texas may prohibit a common second-trimester abortion procedure.  Isn’t it funny that people claim they have control over their body when it comes to getting vaccinated or wearing masks, but when it comes to we women having control over our body for something as life-changing as pregnancy, the Courts will decide what we can or cannot do?  I think, in order to avoid being seen as sexist, or a double standard, the Courts should immediately order every person over the age of 12 to be vaccinated!

Out in California, one of the most progressive states in the union, Larry Elder is one of the candidates hoping to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom next month.  Elder is, apparently, a misogynist, or as we used to call them, a male chauvinist pig.  It is illegal to ask a female employee when or if she plans to become pregnant.  Mr. Elder, however, sees no reason for that law.  He says …

“Are there legitimate business reasons for a venture capitalist to ask a female entrepreneur whether & when she intends to have children? Hell, yes. I’m not quite sure why it’s the govt’s business to intrude on it.”

What a guy, eh?  Now, seems to me that if he supports asking women that question, it would also be only fair to ask male employees and applicants when and if they plan to sire a child, and how many?

Why do we have to keep fighting the same old battles?  The U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1787, yet it would be 133 years later, in 1920, before the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, ensuring women the right to vote.  And it would be 1984 before the State of Mississippi finally ratified the 19th Amendment, granting women in that state the right to vote.

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade makes abortion legal.  And ever since, religious groups have been trying to get it overturned.  This isn’t about, as they will try to tell you, “right to life”, for the proponents in favour of overturning Roe don’t care about life.  They largely support the death penalty, they hunt to kill, most own guns … no, it isn’t about the right to life, it is about controlling women, it is about taking back women’s rights.

In 1923 the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced. It says, “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”  Today, nearly 100 years later, the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been passed by Congress!!!  Can anybody explain this one to me?

Phyllis Schlafly … you remember that witch, right … campaigned against the ERA saying that the measure would lead to gender-neutral bathrooms, same-sex marriage, and women in military combat, among other things.  😱  Oh horrors!  Every single one of those things came to pass anyway and our nation is a better place because of it!  Take that, Ms. Schlafly!!!

By 1977, only 35 states had ratified the ERA. Though Congress voted to extend the ratification deadline by an additional three years, no new states signed on. Complicating matters further, lawmakers in five states — Nebraska, Tennessee, Idaho, Kentucky, and South Dakota — voted to rescind their earlier support.

Tell me again that this isn’t very much a man’s world!  We women, in their minds, serve at their pleasure.  Period.

Open Letter To All Republicans In Congress

Dear Sir or Madam,

Never in my 70 years have I been as disgusted with the Republican Party as I am today.  You have taken politics to an all time low, completely disregarding the will of the people and the best interests of the nation.  Your only goal seems to be to take over the nation and hand the reins of power to a cruel and evil dictator.

Note that your party is in the minority, both in Congress and in the nation, yet rather than trying to develop policies that would help people and thereby attract new members, you push people away with your hateful, guttersnipe rhetoric.  One example, Margie Greene, the QAnon conspiracy theorist who sits in the House of Representatives.  Just since returning from her Twitter ban, she has said that she will personally spend money to ensure that every one of the 19 senators who voted for the infrastructure bill will face a primary candidate next year.  Why?  Only because they worked across the aisle in an attempt to do their jobs.  And then, she claimed that she is drawing up impeachment papers against President Biden … no reason given.

And speaking of the infrastructure bill, there’s Ron Johnson who tells us that he hasn’t even read it and doesn’t plan to … he just knows he plans not to vote for it no matter what is or isn’t in it.  This is obstructionism to the nth degree.

Politics is a career intended to be peopled by educated people who understand how government works and who are dedicated to the principles enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.  Instead, what we get from your side of the aisle is gibberish that makes less sense than a kindergarten child on the playground.  Those of us who have even a basic knowledge of the Constitution and understand a bit about how government is supposed to work are appalled by your actions of the last decade or so, and especially the past year.

We elect you to act in our best interests, to put our welfare ahead of your own personal wealth and lust for power, but thus far you have not done that.  We elect you, then pay you a fair salary, and in return we expect you to show up for work every day, to read every bill you are asked to consider, to give those bills due consideration, debate them, and then make a decision based on whether this bill will be good for the nation and its people.  That’s really all we ask of you!  We don’t ask you to flit about the country holding rallies in which to spew a message of hate.  We don’t ask you to visit the former guy to help him work up his campaign strategy for the next election that is more than three years away.  In fact, that is a conflict of interest and We the People would be well within our rights to call for the resignation of those who have done so.  We don’t ask you to tweet condemnation of every single thing the president says or does – that’s not in your job description.

We the People are your employers, not Mitch McConnell, not Kevin McCarthy, and for damn sure not Donald Trump!

In 1854, your party was founded for a very noble purpose:  to stop the spread of slavery.  Throughout the years, the Republican Party has made some positive contributions to this nation.  But today?  You contribute only to the angst of the people who need help, who need you to put on your grown-up underwear and step up to the plate, do the right thing.  You have an opportunity to make vast improvements in the Republican Party, but instead you are more concerned about increasing your own power and wealthy at the expense of the very people to whom you owe your jobs.

For far too long now, the Republican Party, once known as the Grand Old Party, has been the “party of ‘no’”, the obstructionist party with no relevant goals or policies other than to naysay any legislation that is proposed by the Democratic Party.  Well, guess what … at least they have ideas!

It is time for the Republican Party to reassess their values, to step back and ask yourselves exactly what are you contributing besides chaos?  With all the challenges that face us today, I would think this would be the time to set partisan politics, greed and arrogance aside and work toward fixing the problems, toward making this a safer, more equal nation.  Instead, you are doing the exact opposite.

Think about it.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, independent voter, taxpayer, citizen

Torn To Pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accomplishments After 206 Days …

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


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

Opinion by 

Eugene Robinson

Columnist

Yesterday at 4:01 p.m. EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For The People Act Cannot Die — Here’s Why

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Speaking of Voting Rights …

I had considered doing a Saturday Surprise post today, but … frankly, my heart wasn’t in it and my mind kept going back to an editorial I read yesterday by Attorney General Merrick Garland.  Perhaps there might be a Sunday Surprise tomorrow, but for today, please read AG Garland’s words, think about them, put them into the context of the post I wrote yesterday about Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964.  Then ask yourself … WHERE are we headed?  WHY should a person’s right to vote be infringed upon because of the colour of their skin?  And WHAT, if anything, can We the People do to stop this runaway train that will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, rob them of their voice in our country’s government?


Merrick Garland: It is time for Congress to act again to protect the right to vote

Opinion by Merrick B. Garland

Friday, 06 August 2021

Merrick B. Garland is attorney general of the United States.

Our society is shaped not only by the rights it declares but also by its willingness to protect and enforce those rights. Nowhere is this clearer than in the area of voting rights.

Fifty-six years ago Friday, the Voting Rights Act became law. At the signing ceremony, President Lyndon B. Johnson rightly called it “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom.”

Prior attempts to protect voting rights informed his assessment. The 15th Amendment promised that no American citizen would be denied the right to vote on account of race. Yet for nearly a century following the amendment’s ratification, the right to vote remained illusory for far too many.

The Civil Rights Act of 1957 marked Congress’s first major civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. That law authorized the attorney general to sue to enjoin racially discriminatory denials of the right to vote. Although the Justice Department immediately put the law to use, it quickly learned that bringing case-by-case challenges was no match for systematic voter suppression.

Things would not have changed without the civil rights movement’s persistent call to action. By the time a 25-year-old John Lewis was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the Justice Department had been embroiled in voting rights litigation against the surrounding county for four years. Although the county had approximately 15,000 Black citizens of voting age, the number of Black registered voters had only risen from 156 to 383 during those years.

By 1965, it was clear that protecting the right to vote required stronger tools. The Voting Rights Act provided them. Central to the law was its “preclearance” provision, which prevented jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices from adopting new voting rules until they could show the Justice Department or a federal court that the change would have neither a racially discriminatory purpose nor a racially discriminatory result.

By any measure, the preclearance regime was enormously effective. While it was in place, the Justice Department blocked thousands of discriminatory voting changes that would have curtailed the voting rights of millions of citizens in jurisdictions large and small.

One thwarted change involved McComb, Miss. A large group of Black residents in the city had long voted at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, which was close to their homes on the east side of railroad tracks that run through the city. In 1997, the city tried to move that group’s assigned polling place to the American Legion Hut on the west side of the tracks. To cross those tracks, Black voters on the east side — many of whom lacked transportation — would have had to travel substantial distances to find a safe crossing. Recognizing that difficulty, the Justice Department blocked the change.

While the Voting Rights Act gave the Justice Department robust authority, it also imposed checks on that power. Jurisdictions had the option to go to federal court to show that their voting changes were lawful. This ensured fairness and accountability, but without the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness that existed prior to 1965. It was a balance that worked and received broad support: Congressional reauthorizations of the act were signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970, President Gerald Ford in 1975, President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and President George W. Bush in 2006.

That invaluable framework was upended in 2013, when the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder effectively eliminated the act’s preclearance protections. Without that authority, the Justice Department has been unable to stop discriminatory practices before they occur. Instead, the Justice Department has been left with costly, time-consuming tools that have many of the shortcomings that plagued federal law prior to 1965.

Notwithstanding these setbacks, the Justice Department is using all its current legal authorities to combat a new wave of restrictive voting laws. But if the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance provision were still operative, many of those laws would likely not have taken effect in the first place.

In a column published after his death, Lewis recalled an important lesson taught by Martin Luther King Jr.: “Each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something.”

On this anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we must say again that it is not right to erect barriers that make it harder for millions of eligible Americans to vote. And it is time for Congress to act again to protect that fundamental right.