Burning The Constitution

The United States is a secular nation, meaning that the government is officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion.  It means that the government does not favour one religion over another, that people do not have more or less rights based on their religion, that all citizens are treated equally, regardless of their religion or non-religion.

The United States Constitution is the foundation for the nation’s government.  It is the source of law and order.  It is the guidebook, so to speak, for how this nation’s governing bodies will deport themselves, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of each branch of the government.  While the Constitution does not use the phrase “separation of church and state”, what it does say in the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment is this …

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Now that I’ve made that perfectly clear, I hope, let us take a look at what Attorney General William Barr, the man who leads the Department of Justice, had to say on Friday, when asked to speak at Notre Dame University:

“We must be vigilant to resist efforts by forces of secularization to drive religious viewpoints from the public square and to impinge upon our exercise of our faith. This is not decay. This is organized destruction. Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion & traditional values.”

The head of the department tasked with overseeing the law and upholding the Constitution doesn’t even understand the Constitution?

Christians in this nation comprise some 70.6% of the population, down from 75% just two years ago.  Of that, evangelicals comprise 25.4% of the population.  Now, by Barr’s presumption, does this mean that our government only represents 70.6% of the people in this nation, and the other 29.4% of us are sh*t out of luck?  Now, if that be the case, doesn’t it follow that those of us in the 29.4% should not be required to pay taxes, since the government we are paying those taxes to does not represent us?

William Barr was far out of line in his speech and seems to have interpreted the Constitution according to his own values, or perhaps, like his ‘boss’, he has never read nor understood the document that he took an oath to uphold.

Barr, however, is not alone in cherry-picking the parts of the document he wishes to support, while ignoring the rest.  Take a look at Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, he of rather questionable morals whose nomination to the bench was shoved through at mach speed, despite credible allegations of sexual assault.

“But maybe Nixon was wrongly decided — heresy though it is to say so. Nixon took away the power of the president to control information in the executive branch by holding that the courts had power and jurisdiction to order the president to disclose information in response to a subpoena sought by a subordinate executive branch official. That was a huge step with implications to this day that most people do not appreciate sufficiently…Maybe the tension of the time led to an erroneous decision.” – Brett Kavanaugh, 1999

Say What???  It took away the power …???  Let’s be perfectly clear here … the president is not granted by the U.S. Constitution unlimited power to keep secrets and act on his own to make deals and agreements that are not in the best interest of this nation and its people!  The president is granted broad authority in certain areas, but … the legislative and judicial branches are not only granted the authority, but tasked with the responsibility, to provide oversight to the executive branch.  The purpose being to hold the president accountable for his actions.

“The House of Representatives … shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”Article I, Section 2, Clause 5

“The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7

constitution-dummiesI think that for a person with a law degree, as both Barr and Kavanaugh as well as all of Trump’s lawyers, many members of Congress and others in the administration have — including, believe it or not, Kellyanne Conway — this should be clear enough.  If you and I can understand it … why can’t the lawyers?

We have layer upon layer upon layer of corruption and dishonesty in our federal government in quantities never before seen.  Trump claimed he would drain the swamp, but instead he has further infested it with lethal, poisonous creatures … swamp monsters, as it were.  Being a republican or a democrat is largely irrelevant, but being dishonest, hiding things from the people they work for (us), and being self-serving are crimes.  It is time … past time … for us to hold these people accountable.

Today’s ‘Toons!!!

The cartoonists have been working overtime ever since Trump took the Oath of Office (an oath he never understood nor intended to keep) on 20 January 2017.  I have to hand it to them, they do one heck of a job!  I wish I had their talent.  Let’s take a look at a few of this week’s toons.


With the Global Climate Strike yesterday, and the United Nations’ Youth Climate Summit today, and the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday, needless to say climate change is on everyone’s mind this week.  The U.S., specifically Donald Trump, is working hard to add fuel to the fires of the global climate crisis by rolling back environmental regulations, trashing the Clean Water Act, and attempting to forbid states from enacting their own, stricter emissions standards.  To add insult to injury, while world leaders from around the globe travel to New York for the UN Summit on Monday, Trump has announced that he will be too busy at some religious conference to attend the Climate Summit.  So it is only right and proper that the cartoonists have made the U.S. and Trump the brunt of their humour.

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It’s been just three weeks since the last mass shooting in the U.S., and the subject of gun regulations is never far from most of our minds.  We the People (at least the sane majority of  us) have been calling for gun legislation for … forever, I think.  Expanded background checks and a ban on assault weapons is a good place to start, but when you mention either of those, the gun nuts in this country go so crazy that you’d think we were asking them to give up their wife and kids.  Well, actually I think some of them would give up their wife and kids with less argument than they would give up their guns!

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Ol’ Brett Kavanaugh, the only person I’ve ever seen who can make even uglier facial expressions than Donald Trump, is back in the news this week, as a new book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh:  An Investigaton, by two New York Times reporters, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, was released on Tuesday.  The two reporters covered Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing and they say that the “foundational mission” of the book was not just to learn more about the allegations against Kavanaugh but to get “a much better context for who he was as a person and what his educational years and career were like, and who is the man who has been portrayed in these two starkly polarized ways.”  I haven’t read it, and am not sure that I can stomach reading an entire book about such a horrible excuse for a human.

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Recently, Ivanka was asked what she had gotten from her parents, and she said that from her father she got her moral compass!  🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Ivanka


You’ll remember Trump’s juvenile antics, re-drawing the path of Hurricane Dorian on an official map, with a Sharpie?  When you do something that bloomin’ stupid, you gotta expect it to catch the eye of the cartoonists for quite a while …

sharpieweather


Lies.  Trump lies.  Most every time he opens his mouth, he lies.  Need I say more?

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And I end with just a bit of humour at the expense of former White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer.  Sean-Spicer


Have a nice weekend!

 

Snarky Snippets … Yes, Again!

Will there ever be a day that there isn’t so much to be snarky about?  Not in my lifetime, I suspect.  A number of things came onto my radar late last night … here are a few of them:


Keeping it in the family …

Imagine that!  Ol’ Mitch McConnell’s wife, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, is under investigation for possible ethics violations!  Who would’ve thunk it, eh?  Yesterday, the House Oversight and Reform Committee opened an investigation into whether Ms. Chao may have used her connections to benefit Foremost Group, a shipping company owned by her family, and whether hubby McConnell may have received preferential treatment.  A few salient points from the letter sent to Ms. Chao …

  • Several reports indicate that you have used your official position to benefit Foremost Group, a shipping company owned by your father and sisters … These reports suggest that you used your official position to elevate Foremost Group’s influence and status with the Chinese government, which has extended hundreds of millions of dollars in low interest loans to the company …

  • In addition, you have appeared alongside your father, the founder of Foremost Group, in at least a dozen Chinese media interviews – many of which were behind the official seal of the Department of Transportation (DOT). During some of these interviews, your father touted your influence with the United States government and boasted about his access to … Trump on Air Force One.

  • DOT reportedly was forced to cancel an official trip you were planning to take to China in October 2017 after ethics officials at the Department of State challenged your attempts to include your family members in official meetings with the Chinese government.

  • Questions have also been raised about your involvement in the decisions to deprioritize or reduce funding for DOT programs that benefit U.S.-flagged vessels in the foreign trade, decisions that could benefit your family’s company, which owns entirely foreign-flag ships.

  • Given the decline in the number of U.S.-flagged vessels in foreign trade, DOT’s approach to these programs may threaten national security by increasing the likelihood that our military will be dependent on foreign-flagged vessels during times of war or emergency.

  • The committee is also investigating your failure to divest of stock in one of the nation’s largest construction companies, Vulcan Materials Company (Vulcan), where you served on the Board of Directors for nearly two years immediately before becoming Secretary of Transportation. Vulcan’s annual revenue depends heavily on annual infrastructure funding allocated by the DOT.  Vulcan granted you approximately 3,000 “deferred stock units” for serving as a director, giving you a significant and direct personal financial interest in the company.

The letter goes on to describe in further detail the ethics breaches the committee is questioning and requests a number of documents and written explanations for the above.  In addition, there are questions about special consideration being given to husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection.Mitch-ElaineCorruption?  Nah, surely not!


Paying for them to play …

The Secret Service wants jet skis.  Why?  So that they can ride along while the Trumps – Ivanka, Junior, and Eric – are participating in water sports.  HELLOOOOOO???  Tell me again who pays for all this? The Secret Service wrote…

“President Trump and his family spend several weeks throughout the year in Mar-a-Lago, Florida and Hamptons, New York. The first family is very active in water sports.  Several family members along with their guest participate in open water activities for which USSS Special Agent Rescue Swimmers are responsible. SA’s have rented watercraft with their own personal funds to allow them to be near our protectees in various water environments to fulfill the USSS Rescue Swimmer mission.”

donald-trump-jr-kids.jpgThe cost of the requested vehicles, made by Kawasaki, runs from $9,999 to $15,299. These won’t be normal jet skis, though, as they will feature special rescue saving equipment, such as rescue sleds.  While most of us struggle to even afford a small vacation to the beach or the mountains, WE are paying for the entire Trump entourage to frolic in the surf and for them to have maximum protection while doing so.  Tell me again how Trump & Co are not benefiting from his office?  BAH HUMBUG!


Brett Kavanaugh — back in the news

New allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose Senate confirmation was pushed through without the initial allegations ever being properly investigated.  Comedian Trevor Noah sums it up well, and with a bit of humour …

 

The Supreme Court Has Lost Its Way …

The Supreme Court, the branch of the federal government that is supposed to be most independent, that is intended to hold the executive and legislative branches accountable, has made two major decisions today that indicate they have fallen and landed squarely in the camp of Donald Trump.  I am beyond disappointed … I am incensed, and I see our rights as citizens of this plutocracy going down the drain. supreme court justices


Supreme Court revives Trump’s transgender military ban

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to go ahead with its plan to restrict military service by transgender people while court challenges continue.  The court split 5-4 in allowing the plan to take effect, with the court’s five conservatives greenlighting it and its four liberal members saying they would not have.

Until a few years ago service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender. That changed under President Barack Obama. The military announced in 2016 that transgender individuals already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly. And the military set July 1, 2017 as the date when transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist.

Trump, of course, had to undo that, for two reasons:  a) it was a decision made during the Obama administration, and Trump has a goal to undo every single thing Obama did, and b) because Donald Trump and his supporters are homophobic bigots.  There is no viable reason to ban transgender people from the military, and this decision does not reflect the feelings of the majority in this nation!

Supreme Court returns to gun rights for 1st time in 9 years

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up its first gun rights case in nine years, a challenge to New York City’s prohibition on carrying a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun outside the city limits.  The court’s decision to hear the appeal filed by three New York residents and New York’s National Rifle Association affiliate could signal a revived interest in gun rights by a more conservative court. The case won’t be argued until October.

New York’s ordinance allows people licensed to have handguns to carry them outside the home to gun ranges in the city. The guns must be locked and unloaded.  The city residents who filed suit want to practice shooting at target ranges outside the city or take their guns to second homes elsewhere in New York state.  The city’s top lawyer, Zachary Carter, urged the court to reject the case, arguing that the restrictions allowed New York police to reduce the number of guns carried in public.

Just about the last … the very last … thing we need in this country is an expansion of 2nd Amendment ‘rights’!  The NRA has already nearly ensured that gun deaths in the U.S. will continue to be the highest per capita on the globe.  What do we want … are we shooting for some sort of record here … “let’s see if we can top last year’s gun deaths”?


Both of these issues are beyond merely concerning on their own merit, but the even greater concern is the trend that is appearing.  It is a trend we all feared when first, Neil Gorsuch, then Brett Kavanaugh were seated on the Supreme Court.  It is deeply disturbing that the Supreme Court appears to be making decisions strictly along partisan lines rather than considering issues on Constitutional merit.  The real concern, however, lies on the path ahead.  There are two prior Supreme Court rulings that ultra-conservative republicans, evangelicals, Trump’s base, want to see overturned:  Roe v Wade, and Obergefell v Hodges.  The first guarantees a woman the right to make decisions about her own body, her own life.  The second guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.  Both were long, hard-fought battles and are, in short, about human rights … civil rights.

In addition to those, it is highly likely that the Supreme Court will soon be asked to hear cases involving gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement.  Our constitutional rights … all of them … may be in jeopardy if the Court cannot manage to overcome it’s partisanship.  After Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation, Chief Justice John Roberts, in an effort to quell growing concerns of partisanship on the Court, made the following statement:

“… We do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle, we do not caucus in separate rooms, we do not serve one party or one interest. We serve one nation. And I want to assure all of you that we will continue to do that to the best of our abilities, whether times are calm or contentious.”

Prove that to us, please, Chief Justice.

A Thumb-Up For The Chief Justice

In the past week, since the November 6th mid-term elections, we have seen the very worst of Donald Trump.  He has acted alternately like a madman and a two-year-old, determined, it would seem to do as much damage to the nation, the government, and the Constitution as he possibly can before the 116th Congress is seated on January 3rd.  It has been, frankly, de-moralizing and we have had a forewarning of the tyranny Trump might yet inflict upon this nation.  But just in the past couple of days, a few people have slowly begun waking up … people in power are beginning to push back against Trump, to say, “No, sir, you cannot do that”.

One such person is Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who has finally had enough.  I have had concerns that Roberts was letting the Supreme Court be turned into a partisan arm of the government, that he was turning out to be yet another of Trump’s boot-lickers.  But, yesterday he seems to have found his cojones and spoke out after Trump denigrated yet another federal judge.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar of San Francisco issued a nationwide restraining order barring enforcement of the policy Trump announced Nov. 8.  Trump’s policy would have allowed only people who cross at legal checkpoints to request asylum, a transformation of long-established asylum procedures, codified both at the international level and by Congress.

“Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” ruled Judge Tigar. The ruling is in effect until December 19th, at which point it will be argued before the courts.

And predictably, Trump threw one of his tiresome tirades …

“That’s not law. Every case that gets filed in the Ninth Circuit we get beaten. It’s a disgrace. This was an Obama judge. Everybody that wants to sue the United States, they file their case in the Ninth Circuit, and it means an automatic loss no matter what you do, no matter how good your case is. I’ll tell you what, it’s not going to happen like this anymore. The Ninth Circuit is really something we have to take a look at because it’s not fair. People should not be allowed to immediately run to this very friendly circuit and file their case.”

It was the part where he called Judge Tigar an “Obama judge” that raised the hackles of Justice Roberts …

Chief Justice John Roberts“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

I have not always been pleased with Justice Robert’s decisions, especially in the last two years, but I give him a thumbs up on this, for it is important for all to remember that the courts do not answer to either Congress or the president but are indeed intended to be a fully independent branch.  Trump appears not to understand that, and in truth, now that Brett Kavanaugh holds a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court, I am seriously concerned about the independence of the judiciary.

But then, of course, the fool on the hill had to hit back …

“Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country. It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an ‘independent judiciary,’ but if it is why are so many opposing view cases filed there, and why are a vast number of those cases overturned. Please study the numbers, they are shocking. We need protection and security — these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!”

There seems to be, among some of Trump’s loyalists, a prevailing notion that if he is the president, he can say and do anything he wants.  Funny, but when Obama was president, these same people took the opposite view, that if Obama did virtually anything, he was overstepping his bounds.  At least as of today, 22 November 2018, Trump is only a president, not a dictator, and no, he cannot do whatever he pleases.  He does not have the right to change the law to suit his whims, he does not have the right to do as he has already done and send troops on a costly fool’s mission to the southern border to “defend the nation” against old men, women and children!  Donald Trump is not, at least at this time, above the law and his position gives him only limited privileges.  It’s time that he and his loyalists realize and accept that, for the rest of us are sick and tired of his mouth.

The GOP Ain’t Atticus Finch!!!

In the past weeks, and especially the past few days, I have seen some of the most asinine comments come from the mouths of men and women who are supposed to be well-educated, reasonable human beings. Men and women who are paid a sizable chunk of money by us to represent us.  That would be … us … all of us … as in, We The People.  It isn’t bad enough that they are not doing their job, that they are playing games with our lives, gambling away the future of this nation, but on top of that, we have to listen to them spout ugly and stupid rhetoric!

Tonight I focus on one such fool, John Cornyn III, a United States Senator from the State of Texas.  A brief bio …

John_Cornyn_(cropped)Cornyn is a graduate from Trinity University and St. Mary’s University School of Law, receiving his LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Cornyn was a Judge on Texas’ 37th District Court from 1985 to 1991, until he was elected an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court, where he served 1991 to 1997. In 1998, Cornyn was elected Attorney General of Texas, serving one term until winning a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2002. He was re-elected to a second term in 2008 and to a third term in 2014.

Cornyn was the subject of a number of controversies during his single term as Attorney General of Texas, involving deals with the Koch brothers, injecting religion into schools, and others that I wish I had the time and space to delve into, but for tonight I shall stay the course.  What has set me off now is his inane comment about the republican senators who shoved Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation through, despite at least five valid reasons not to do so.  He had the unmitigated gall to compare these jerks to the fictional character Atticus Finch, from Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird.

atticus-finch-qoeAtticus Finch, you may remember, played by Gregory Peck, was a lawyer in a small fictional southern town of Maycomb, Alabama.  Finch was representing a black man, Tom Robinson,  falsely accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell.  The character of Atticus Finch represents morality and reason.  He is soft-spoken, believes in fighting for justice and equality, and is a moral hero in every sense of the word.

John Cronyn and his bunch are definitely not Atticus Finch.

“Some commentators have called this our Atticus Finch moment. We all remember that Atticus Finch was a lawyer who did not believe that a mere accusation was synonymous with guilt. He represented an unpopular person who many people presumed was guilty of a heinous crime because of his race and his race alone. We could learn from Atticus Finch now.”

The comparison is 180° off base, for while Atticus Finch was defending a Black man from a white woman who had accused him of a rape he didn’t commit, in the Jim Crow South, the GOP are trying to ensure a privileged white judge gets an even more privileged position on the Supreme Court.

And while Cornyn’s is the most bombastic comment, others in the GOP, now that they have gotten their way and feel they have nothing to lose, have dropped the masks of decency and are showing their true colours.Mitch McConnell said that the allegations made against Kavanaugh were “uncorroborated mud” and that blocking his nomination would be a “fundamentally un-American precedent.”  Never mind, I suppose, that McConnell was the force behind blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland, a highly qualified candidate, under President Obama, for more than a year!

Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, has accused Democrats of spurring an “unethical sham”, and is insisting that democrat Amy Klobuchar apologize for the “smear campaign”.  Such nice language these so-called professional men use, eh?

It’s funny, isn’t it, that the republicans got their way, by hook or by crook … mostly crook, for the FBI investigation was not an investigation, but a farce, and many credible allegations were simply ignored … and yet they still feel a need to push conspiracy theories, lie, and denigrate innocent people.  At first I was confounded by this behaviour, but then I recalled that they are only talking to their own base, the minority, if you will, of the population of this nation.  Remember that, folks, when you are tempted to lose heart, when you feel like the guys in the black hats are winning the game.  They are only winning amongst about one-third of the country, for the rest of us are not buying their snake oil pitch.  The thing we must do is take away their rosy glow next month at the polls.  It’s our last, best hope … our only hope for a semblance of sanity, of decency to return to at least one branch of government.mlk quote

Super-Snarky Friday …

Well, Jeff Flake and Susan Collins will vote to confirm Kavanaugh. surprise. not.  The Senate has the votes to confirm the jerk and by Monday, no doubt he will have donned his robes. And that is all I have to say about that. PPBBBBBTTTTTHHHH.


For those of you who may have wondered whether I retain the capacity of logical thought, allow me to share with you a conversation between me and myself this morning as I went about the Friday house chores:

Me: Chris’ birthday is on the 26th.  If it’s a weekday, we should send her flowers to her office.

Myself:  What day of the week is it?

Me:  I dunno.  What’s today?

Myself:  Friday.

Me:  No, stupid, I mean the date.

Myself:  I dunno.  Yesterday was the 4th.

Me:  (pulls cellphone out of pocket, clicks on calendar app)  Hey!  It’s a Friday … three weeks from today.

Myself:  Duh.


Juan Romero died on Monday of a heart attack.  He was only 68, one year older than me.  Who, you ask, is Juan Romero?Juan RomeroJuan was 18 years old in 1968 and was working as a busboy when Robert F. Kennedy was fatally shot in the kitchen of the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles, California.  Juan has carried the guilt of Kennedy’s death with him his entire life, for he had reached out to shake Kennedy’s hand and as Kennedy stopped to shake hands with the young busboy, the shots rang out.

“If I wouldn’t have extended my hand, he wouldn’t have gotten shot,” he once told his daughter Josefina.  Of course, we all know better, and perhaps so did Juan, but he nonetheless carried the guilt for 50 years.Juan Romero-2


Melania Trump is touring Africa … nobody is quite sure why, other than she wanted to get as far away from her husband as possible – who can blame her?  Anyway, my friend Senam – he calls me his Big Sis and he is my li’l Bro – who lives in Ghana wrote to me a couple of nights ago to say that she was visiting Ghana, but that it was very low key … “Nobody really cares.”

Rather a fitting statement, don’t you think?Melania-jacket


Ben and Jackee Belnap of Salt Lake City, Utah are not very happy campers today.  They had borrowed money from Ben’s parents to buy University of Utah American football season tickets, and had been saving to repay them.  Finally, they managed to save the $1,060 (for football tickets???  What were these people thinking???) and had taken the money from their locked safe and put it on the counter so they wouldn’t forget it when they went to visit the parents.

Enter two-year-old son, Leo.  Now, at two years of age, I find this one hard to credit, but the Belnaps have already shown they aren’t the brightest bulbs in the pack, right?  Apparently Jackee had taught little Leo to use the family’s office paper shredder.  When Leo spotted that envelope full of cash cluttering up the kitchen counter, he decided to be helpful … and … yeah, you got it … Leo shredded the entire $1,060!  Where were Ben & Jackee?  Who knows, but they weren’t watching Leo!  Shredders are dangerous things … they can mangle fingers and other body parts.  In my opinion, being in full snark-mode today, this couple got exactly what the deserved.  And Ben’s parents will need to wait a while longer to get their money, but hey … they raised Ben, so maybe they get what they deserve too!


Maybe I do have one last thing to say regarding the Kavanaugh fiasco.  This morning, the a$$ in the White House declared that the two women who confronted Jeff Flake in the elevator last week were paid to do so.

“Don’t fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love!”

Way to go, Republicans, for voting this jackass into office.  Thanks a million.


And on that note, I shall stop for today.  I am obviously in no mood to play nice.  I hope you all have a great weekend and I’ll be back in the morning with Saturday Surprise!

Farewell Last Bastion of Justice

Barring anything significantly changing, Brett Kavanaugh will likely be confirmed to the United States Supreme Court, despite having lied under oath, despite having taken off the mask and shown himself to be a man possessed of a whiny and cruel temperament, and despite the numerous allegations of sexual assault.  Even if the democrats win every possible seat in the Senate next month, and even if there is a democratic majority in the House of Representatives come January, Brett Kavanaugh will not be impeached in 2019.  That said, let us for a moment look beyond the three-ring circus that this confirmation process has become and address something even more significant:  The U.S. Supreme Court itself.

In February 2017 I wrote a piece titled The Supreme Court – Our Best Hope which I began with

“Now that Congress has ‘fallen into line’ and is pandering to Trump’s every whim, licking his boots and kissing his posterior, there is one last bastion of justice remaining:  the United States Supreme Court.”

This was a time just before Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, when I hoped that the three oldest Justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Anthony Kennedy would be able to hold on and keep working for a few more years.  It was a time when I still believed Donald Trump would be gone from office within a year.  It was a time when there was still hope that our nation would be turned around before any lasting damage took place.  It was a time, apparently, when I was still wearing my rose-coloured glasses.

The intention of the framers of the U.S. Constitution was that the Supreme Court would be above partisan politics.  Surely, they realized that every man, even Supreme Court Justices would have their own set of beliefs, their own ideologies, but when they are sitting on the bench, they are expected to set aside their personal feelings and make decisions according to their interpretation of the Constitution based on the facts at hand.  It is an idealist philosophy, and hasn’t always been strictly followed, but by and large it has worked well.  This is how we saw Roe v Wade passed in 1973 with only two dissenting opinions:  Byron White and William Rehnquist.  The court deemed abortion a fundamental right under the United States Constitution, a ruling that has seen controversy since its birth, but that has not been successfully challenged, nor should it be.

This post is not specifically about Roe v Wade, but rather I use it as an example of how the Supreme Court is supposed to function.  A look at the justices in 1973:

Harry Blackmun – appointed in 1970 by Republican President Richard M. Nixon, became one of the more liberal justices on the court.

William Brennan – appointed in 1956 by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a recess appointment, became known as the leader of the Court’s liberal wing.

Lewis Powell – appointed in 1971 by Richard M. Nixon, was a conservative, but known for compromise and often was the swing vote.

Thurgood Marshall – appointed in 1967 by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, was the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court.  Marshall was a former Civil Rights activist, and expectedly his views were liberal to the extreme.

Warren Burger – appointed in 1969 by Richard M. Nixon, Chief Justice Burger was a conservative, but voted as a liberal when he felt it was right.

William Douglas – appointed by Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939, Douglas was primarily a liberal and a strict literalist in terms of interpreting the First Amendment.

Potter Stewart – appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, was firmly a centrist, often a swing vote.

William Rehnquist – appointed in 1972 by Richard M. Nixon, was a strong conservative.

Byron White – appointed by Democratic President John F. Kennedy in 1962 was neither liberal nor conservative, but by his own admission was a fact-based justice.

Nixon, a republican, had appointed four of the nine justices on the court when Roe v Wade came up for consideration, and Eisenhower had appointed two.  It is worth noting that all nine justices were males. Six justices had been appointed by republican presidents, only three by democrats, and yet legalized abortion became the law of the land.  This is what is meant by a court that rises above partisanship.  This is how it is supposed to work.  This is how ‘justice’ happens, folks.  It does not happen when a president appoints justices solely because he expects them to vote according to his wishes every time!

The Supreme Court has most always been looked upon with respect and dignity.  Historically, it has been a place where a lay person feels they should whisper, so as not to waken the ghosts of the many great men who have passed through its halls.  Once Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, that dignity will be gone, for he brings baggage that will soil the landscape, that will remove much of the honour that was brought by some of the greatest judges the nation has known:

  • John Marshall, Chief Justice 1801-1835
  • Earl Warren, Chief Justice 1953-1969
  • Louis Brandeis, Associate Justice 1916-1939
  • William Brennan, Associate Justice 1956-1990
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Associate Justice 1902-1932
  • John Marshall Harlan, Associate Justice 1877-1911
  • Hugo Black, Associate Justice 1937-1971

And many other fine men and women.  The dignity, the non-partisan justice of the court will be another bastion of our democratic process gone.  When Senator Jeff Flake commented the other day that there is no value in reaching across the aisle to work toward compromise solutions, we knew Congress was no longer accountable to We The People.  If Brett Kavanaugh is allowed to take his place on the Supreme Court, then the court will no longer belong to We The People either.  Both Congress and the Court will have become a tool of the madman in the Oval Office.

You will find Fareed Zakaria’s column in The Washington Post to be of interest on this same topic.

The Trump Circus

I mentioned to a few people yesterday that the thing that bothered me the most about Trump’s mockery and denigration of Dr. Christine Ford at one of his rallies on Tuesday was the fact that the audience approved.  They laughed.  They applauded.  Even far-right republicans, I thought, surely couldn’t approve of this b.s. by Trump, but it appeared that they did. Even women, some of whom surely had also been victims of sexual abuse, cheered.  I find this deeply disturbing.  This morning, as I was perusing various news outlets, I stumbled across an editorial by Charles M. Blow of the New York Times.  I believe Mr. Blow has hit the nail squarely on the head with his explanations for that crass behaviour that is so often exhibited these days at Trump rallies, and I thought his ideas were worth sharing with you …

Charles BlowThe Trump Circus

By Charles M. Blow

03 October 2018

It is a scene that has become all too common, and dare I say dangerously close to becoming mundane: Donald Trump said something outrageous at one of his political rallies and his supporters, those hopelessly beguiled by the bully, cheered.

This week, Trump trekked to Southaven, Miss., where he took the degenerate step of mocking Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

Trump imitated and chided her:

Thirty-six years ago this happened. I had one beer, right? I had one beer … How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where’s the house? I don’t know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.

It was a repulsively grotesque spectacle, and yet from the assemblage of thousands came applause and roars of approval for Trump.

It is at moments like these that I try to step back from the particulars, to create some distance, so that I can ask myself the larger, more profound questions. How did we as a country arrive at the point where this is even possible? And how are there so many Americans willing to accept Trump’s corrosion of our culture and our discourse, to gleefully follow him as he plumbs the depths, probing for a bottom of acceptability that, in his world, seems to have been obliterated?

There are multiple explanations, to be sure: racism, xenophobia, ethnic hostility, Islamophobia, nationalism, Fox News, reduced access to privilege, lingering anti-Obama sentiments, a pronounced distrust of media in particular and truth writ large.

But I believe there are two other explanations that are much more base: entertainment and ownership.

First, the entire Trump presidency is a show, and many Americans find it quite entertaining, viewing Trump as its antihero.

He is brash, unconventional, emotional, sometimes raging and sometimes funny.

His rock-and-rage rallies (he has held nearly two dozen since being elected) are simply an extension of that, only more raw and raucous. Trump brings the big show and the big media with their big cameras to places and people who feel forgotten and isolated, looked over by the bustling coasts and the urban centers.

He is their entree to power, a personification and articulation of anger and anti-intellectualism, a way to wrap their hatreds in humor.

The rallies are part tent revival, part circus, part call-and-response game show. Like-minded people with look-alike faces populate them. They are orgies of sameness in which crowd dynamics produce and escalate a tornado of affirmation and acceptance until it is perfectly admissible to surrender any remaining morality to the mob.

It is a religious experience of conversion and immersion, a born-again baptism in which people emerge bound to one another and bound to Trump.

Trying to pry them apart from Trump, to make them somehow see the light and turn on him, is a time- and energy-wasting exercise. Trump is wielding a Jim Jones-level of influence and control over these people, and deprogramming the members of his cult would take more effort than most are willing to commit.