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.

The Games People Play

I titled this post as I did for a very good reason … our lawmakers at every level are playing games … with our lives.  They are playing with our right to vote, with the bridges that just waiting for a heavier-than-average rush hour to collapse and kill thousands, they are playing with the rights of Blacks, Hispanics and those of Asian descent to … well, to live, actually.  And they are playing with numbers … how they can profit the most from the 98% of us who live from paycheck to paycheck.  Oh yes, folks, our lawmakers are great games players, just not very good representatives of We the People.


For the People …

Over the past 2 weeks, I have spent hours pouring over the For the People Act, the legislation that is currently collecting dust in the United States Senate.  This is legislation that, in addition to much else, would guarantee every eligible person age 18 or over the right to vote.  But the Senate seems to think … wait, let me amend that before I go any further … the Republicans and two Democratic members of the Senate … seem to think that We the People should not have a voice in the government we support financially!  The more I study this bill, the more I am growling, for there is literally NOTHING in it that should give rise for concern.  If, that is, we had legislators who put country above party, who truly cared about the future of this nation, who treasured integrity and honesty above profit and power.  Sadly, we don’t.

I will have a post, more likely 2-3 posts, summarizing this bill, what it would mean to you and I, and the Republicans’ objections to it within the next week or so, but for now, suffice it to say that as long as our elected officials care more about themselves than about us, as long as they are tethered to the former guy’s wagon, and as long as there are enough uneducated people in this nation who will fall for their lies, this bill is likely to be burned at the stake before it gets a chance to see the light of day.  It’s a damn shame that we will almost certainly end up trashing the democratic principles on which this nation was founded so that the likes of Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy can stay in power and keep the money rolling in … to their bank accounts.


Now about that infrastructure bill …

There has been much hassle over the infrastructure bill while bridges and roadways further erode, while people are still drinking water that is proven unsafe, but hey … let’s thank those bloody Republicans for keeping our tax dollars safe, shall we?  Oh yeah … rather than spend them on our safety, they can spend them to build and buy more military hardware, better guns, even more nukes that will someday in the not-so-distant future destroy us all!

Today, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) announced that the infrastructure bill, often touted as a bipartisan bill, though I question this, would add in excess of $250 billion to the already bloated federal deficit over the next decade.  Well duh … bridges, roadways, water & sewer systems … they cost money!  They also save human lives, but hey … no biggie, right?

Now, since the CBO is so happily crunching numbers … I have another request for them.  How about calculating the amount of additional revenue this nation would garner if every single person with a net worth over $1 million was forced to pay a fair share in taxes as the rest of us have been doing for all our lives?  Yeah … I want to know how much of that money required for infrastructure could be covered if the likes of Jeff Bezos, Exxon Mobile, Smith & Wesson, and every other corporation or individual worth millions paid the same rate in taxes as the rest of us do.  I’m betting these assholes could more than cover the infrastructure, upgrade our schools, and cover Medicare for All if they just opened their wallets and paid … the same progressive income tax that the rest of us pay!  How ‘bout it CBO … you game for calculating this one?

During my career years, ages 13-57, I never once begrudged Uncle Sam the amount I spent on federal income taxes.  I am a CPA and for years have prepared clients’ tax returns, but I refuse to lie or cheat on their behalf.  But I admit that I see red when I see that certain corporations paid zero income taxes, or that a multi-millionaire, nay billionaire, paid somewhere around 1% – 2% while the average John Doe is paying 12% – 25%.  C’mon, Congress, close the damn loopholes!  Tax the wealthy … they can afford it … I can’t!


On April 19th, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln spoke these words in his infamous Gettysburg Address …

“ … that these dead shall not have died in vain– that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

That government of, by, and for the people is perishing from the earth.  It has had a dagger thrust into its heart and is just now gasping its last breaths.  Are you content to let it die?  Will we sit back and watch as those with money take power unto themselves and subjugate the rest of us?  Sigh.  And on that note, I bid you a good night.

Snarky Snippets Are Baaaaack!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a snarky snippets post, though in truth almost all of my posts contain an element of snark!  Anyway … I have just a couple of short ones for you this afternoon …


Killing us softly with …

The big news yesterday was that the U.S. has seen a significant drop in life expectancy … the biggest decrease since WWII.  My first thought was … “Well duh.  625,000+ people dead in the U.S. from the pandemic – what do you expect?”  And certainly, the pandemic has played a role in the decline in life expectancy, but it isn’t the only culprit.  Turns out that the ever-expanding income disparity is one of the biggest culprits, and it has been bringing down life expectancy rates for a few years now, even before the pandemic.

During the second half of the 2010s, life expectancy fell on a sustained basis for the first time since the fighting of World War II killed several hundred thousand Americans.

It’s hard to imagine a more alarming sign of a society’s well-being than an inability to keep its citizens alive. While some of the reasons are mysterious, others are fairly clear. American society has become far more unequal than it used to be, and the recent increases in mortality are concentrated among working-class Americans, especially those without a four-year college degree.

For many, daily life lacks the structure, status and meaning that it once had, as the Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have explained. Many people feel less of a connection to an employer, a labor union, a church or community groups. They are less likely to be married. They are more likely to endure chronic pain and to report being unhappy.

These trends have led to a surge of “deaths of despair” (a phrase that Case and Deaton coined), from drugs, alcohol and suicide. Other health problems, including diabetes and strokes, have also surged among the working class. Notably, the class gaps in life expectancy seem to be starker in the U.S. than in most other rich countries.

Covid has also caused sharp increases in racial inequality. As a Times article on the new report explains:

From 2019 to 2020, Hispanic people experienced the greatest drop in life expectancy — three years — and Black Americans saw a decrease of 2.9 years. White Americans experienced the smallest decline, of 1.2 years.

Covid has also killed more men than women, Case and Deaton pointed out, increasing the mortality gap between the sexes, after years in which it had mostly been shrinking. Life expectancy was 5.7 years longer for women last year, up from 5.1 years in 2019. The gap had fallen to a low of 4.8 years in the early 2010s.

The bottom line: Covid has both worsened and exposed a crisis in health inequality. But that crisis existed before Covid and will continue to exist when the pandemic is over – if it ever is.


Spot on!!!

You all know my feelings on rich bastards wasting their money on not-so-cheap thrills like building a rocket ship and flying to the edge of space for no other reason that they can afford to do it.  The latest was Jeff Bezos, and frankly I’m so disgusted with this ‘man’ and his lack of compassion, lack of humility, that I am seriously considering canceling my Amazon account permanently.  Anyway … talk show host Gayle King got the best of him in my view yesterday when she spoke with Bezos on CBS This Morning and she asked him …

“All of you keep saying this is not a competition, and I find that so hard to believe because you’re all type A personalities. Don’t you want to be first? It really to you isn’t a game of whose is bigger? Honestly, it really isn’t?”

I nearly choked with laughter!  Penis-envy run amok!


Filiwhat?  Filiwho?  Filihow?

President Biden made an appearance here in Cincinnati, Ohio yesterday and at the end of the day he participated in a CNN Town Hall along with Don Lemon.  When asked about the filibuster and whether it should be killed off in the Senate, he was far less forceful than I would have liked.

“There’s no reason to protect it other than you’re going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done. Nothing at all will get done.”

WTF???  Nothing at all is getting done now!!!  The Senate Republicans have all but killed the For the People Act, the infrastructure bill, and anything else that might be on the table with their damned filibuster!  Joe did say he wouldn’t mind seeing it altered to the ways of yore, when senators actually had to stand on the floor of the Senate and expound for hours, but let’s face it … the Republicans have enough hot air in them to ramble and rant for days without coming up for air!


Moscow Mitch said WHAT???

You may have noticed that a number of Republicans have been urging people in this country to get the Covid vaccine this week … people like Mitch McConnell, Steve Scalise, and even Fox’ Sean Hannity.  I note we haven’t heard the positive take from the absolutely disgusting Tucker Carlson, but then he marches to the beat of a different drummer, so don’t hold your breath.

I’m not sure what triggered the Republicans’ sudden faux concern for people, but hopefully their constituents listen to them, for as long as we continue to have some 30% of the nation refusing to be vaccinated, we are NOT going to end the pandemic.  Period.  One of my favourite late-night comedians has a humorous take on the newly-discovered consciences that I think will give you a chuckle or two. This is, in my opinion, one of the best Colbert has done!

Random Thoughts From A Bouncy Mind

Just a few thoughts from the bouncing mind inside my head …

I had to laugh when I read in a news aggregator that with both Senate and House back in chambers, we should prepare for what “… could be a frantic couple weeks of legislative action.”  Legislative action???  In today’s inert Senate???  Who do they think they’re kidding?  The most action we are likely to see from the United States Senate in the coming weeks are them posturing on various news shows and faux news shows to trash talk the other side.  If any meaningful legislation comes out of the Senate anytime soon, I will be in shock.

The Senate has been discussing the infrastructure bill for months now.  It is allegedly now a bi-partisan bill that the Republicans insisted be pared down from its original status, but even then, it doesn’t have enough Republican support to overcome the damn filibuster.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is trying to move things along and asking for a cloture vote on Wednesday, and the Republicans want to know what his big hurry is!  As I said, they’ve been playing tiddly winks with it for months … meanwhile, roadways, bridges, water and sewage facilities and more continue to deteriorate.  WHAT THE SAM HELL do the Republicans think they’re doing?  Nothing … that’s what they’re doing.  Not one damn thing.  Oh wait … they ARE still collecting their paychecks, so I suppose that qualifies as doing something.  That amounts to a minimum, by the way, of $6,692 twice monthly.  Do any of you make that kind of money for sitting on your patooties all day?  No, I didn’t think so, but you ARE paying these jerks!

Meanwhile, the For the People Act seems to have been all but forgotten … I haven’t heard mention of it from any member of Congress recently.  FOR THE PEOPLE!  Even its name should stir some tiny shred of conscience among our elected officials, but what are they doing?  Playing games … with our lives!  How many of them have appeared on Fox News in the past month?  They have time to go preen their ugly mugs, but not time to give serious consideration to a bill that would protect this nation from autocratic bigots!

I read last night about some of the arguments that lawyers are using to attempt to keep their clients who infiltrated the Capitol on January 6th out of prison.  Leave it to high-paid lawyers to twist words and infer motives.  One guy’s lawyer says he shouldn’t be found guilty because his mother says he has “an amazing work ethic” and that he bought clothes and shoes for the residents of a nursing home where he worked as a nurse’s aide.  Never mind, I guess, that he is a member of the radical militia group the Three Percenters, and never mind that he entered the Capitol on January 6th wielding a baseball bat and a noxious chemical spray.

Overall, the lawyers are blaming everyone except their clients, the people who perpetrated the crimes.  Among those they blame are the media, naivete, trauma, unemployment, the pandemic, Washington elites, and their clients’ childhoods.  Sorry, fellas, it doesn’t pass the smell test.  These were people old enough to know better, so forget all the excuses.  They did what they did despite knowing that it was illegal, that it was likely to result in injuries or death … as in fact it did.  In my book, every single person who entered the Capitol without just cause that day should serve a minimum of five years in prison, no exceptions.  Those whose violence ended in property destruction or injury to others should serve 20 years in prison, no quarter given.  End of story.  Make an example of them so that next time, people will think long and hard before participating in an insurrection.

Nicholas Kristof is one of my favourite New York Times columnists, and I have shared his work more than once here on Filosofa’s Word.  A Pulitzer Prize winner, Kristof has written an op-ed column about international human rights and the disenfranchised for the New York Times for two decades.  Rumour has it that Kristof is now considering running for governor of Oregon, his home state, to replace the current governor, Kate Brown, who will reach her term limit in 2022.  So far, it’s just a rumour, but rumours have a way of becoming reality.  Kristof has the right sentiments, but I’m not sure he has the right temperament for the job.  Politics is dirty business, but … hey, it would be good to see a man of conscience, a man with an actual functioning brain and heart, in a position of power.

Thumbs up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for rejecting two of the five Republicans chosen by Kevin McCarthy to participate on the committee that will be investigating the events of, and those leading up to, the January 6th attack on Congress and the Capitol.  The two she rejected are Jim (aka Gym) Jordan from Ohio and Jim Banks from Indiana.  Both voted against certifying the election on January 6th, which in my mind is reason enough to keep them off of this committee.  I know more about Jordan than I do Banks, but Jordan is a real piece of work that I wouldn’t trust to clean up the dog poop from my yard, let alone trust with something this important.  There is no doubt in my mind that McCarthy’s purpose in selecting these two Jims was obstruction.  Personally, I’d like to see him choose Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney … republicans that have shown they have a conscience, that they put country before party.

Well, I think I’ve shared enough of the thoughts from my bouncy mind for now.  Have a great afternoon!

My Worst Nightmare

Many things bother me at the moment:  Those who are actively rejecting the COVID vaccine; the determined obstruction by the Republican Party in Congress; climate change and those who refuse to so much as lift a finger to help reverse decades of man-made damage; wealthy people not paying their fair share in taxes; the ignorance of those who still believe in the former guy’s Big Lie, and the list goes on … and on.  However, the one thing that is keeping me awake nights, is bothering me more than any other single issue in this nation, that has made me contemplate seeking a new country to call home, is the current push for voter suppression and the fact that Congress and the Courts are doing NOTHING to stop states from attempting to move this nation back to the days of Jim Crow.

If you share my concerns, I hope you’ll take a minute to read Charles Blow’s latest column regarding voting rights … or should I say lack thereof …


Welcome to Jim Crow 2.0

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

In the wake of the Civil War, liberals in the North went about establishing Reconstruction, passing the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, greatly expanding the rights of Black people in America, and putting severe restrictions on Southern states before they could be readmitted to the Union.

But of course, the Northern liberals soon grew impatient with and tired of dealing with Reconstruction and the racial issues in the South. At the same time, racial terror was regaining strength in the region.

After Reconstruction was allowed to fail, the last remaining federal troops — who had helped protect Black people from the terrorists — were withdrawn from the South. Even though there was a large percentage of Black voters in many of these states — and Black voters were the majority in some — the terrorists were able to significantly reduce that voter participation through intimidation and violence.

In Mississippi, where Black voters were the overwhelming majority, this suppression succeeded well enough that in 1890 the state called a constitutional convention to write white supremacy into the DNA of the state and to restrict the Black vote.

Only one Black delegate was invited to the convention.

When Mississippi established its Jim Crow Constitution, it didn’t submit it to the public for a vote. Instead, it simply declared that “This Constitution, adopted by the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, shall be in force and effect from and after this the first day of November, A.D. 1890.”

If it had gone before the people, Black voters would have surely voted it down.

Because the Constitution was not put before the voters, there was some question about its validity, but that was put to rest in 1892, when, as The New York Times reported, “The Supreme Court today settled the point, which was made in a contested election case, holding that the Constitutional Convention was the embodiment of the sovereignty of the people, and that it was competent for it to put into effect the new Constitution without submission to be voted on.”

Without the courts or Congress stepping in to protect voter rights, Mississippi served as the shining beacon of a way forward, and state after state in the South followed, copying the Mississippi example and calling state constitutional conventions of their own, establishing Jim Crow in the South.

The racist South may have fallen in defeat in the Civil War, but it rose in victory in the ballot war.

Once Jim Crow was established, Washington was in no hurry to dismantle it. Liberals simply worked around it. For decades, they simply accommodated Southern racists so as not to offend them and to retain the possibility of earning their votes.

Black voters in the region, disenfranchised and therefore disempowered, were essentially written out of the political calculus.

It would take more than seven decades before Congress would fully restore voting rights for Black people in the South. So, a 30-year-old Black voter in Mississippi who was disenfranchised in 1890 very likely died never having cast another ballot.

These voter suppression efforts were so effective and so emboldening that they even led to a movement — though unsuccessful — to repeal the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed Black men the right to vote.

In 1903, Representative John S. Williams of Mississippi, a proponent of the repeal, called the 15th Amendment “one of the greatest crimes in political history.”

Fast forward to the present, when Donald Trump is calling his election loss “the greatest fraud in the history of our country from an electoral standpoint,” in part because it was made possible by the votes of Black and brown people.

Most of Trump history was a failure and embarrassment, but one of its great ignoble successes is that it is ushering in Jim Crow 2.0.

Just as in the 1890s, the courts and Congress are not doing much to stop the march of voter suppression. In 1890, Benjamin Harrison, a business-minded liberal who believed in Black people’s right to vote, was in office. He endorsed the federal elections bill that would protect Black people from raging voter suppression in the South.

The bill passed in the House but languished and died in the Senate — even though liberals controlled both chambers — in part because those liberals were more focused on other issues.

Then, as The Washington Post reported, around the time of the Mississippi constitutional convention, “African Americans from 40 counties in Mississippi had protested to President Benjamin Harrison, but he declined to intervene.”

President Biden hasn’t declined to intervene, but he has dragged his feet and not used the full force of the bully pulpit and still hasn’t given a full-throated endorsement of ending the filibuster to protect voting rights.

America is having a déjà vu moment, reliving in real time a horrendous history of more than a century ago, and it is impossible to understand how Democrats in Washington don’t see that.

There is no reason to believe that this round of voter suppression is the end of those efforts, and every reason to dread that any successful implementation of them would serve as an accelerant of further suppressive efforts.

Voter suppression is like an invasive weed. Either snatch it up by the root at the first sign of a sprig or it will spread, unchecked, and consume the whole garden.


I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a country that robs half of its people of the right to participate in government, the right to make their voices heard.

The Good, The Bad, And The … Funny!

I vaguely remember the days, back before the year 2016, when I went to bed at night feeling safe and secure.  I can almost remember the days when I didn’t automatically associate the word “Republican” with hatred, racism, greed, cruelty, cheating, lying, and obnoxious.  Ahhhhh … those were the good ol’ days!  Long story short, I have more snark built up since my last snippets post, so … let me share just a few with you!


Kiran Ahuja has a new job!

On Tuesday, the Senate voted on President Biden’s nominee for the Office of Personnel Management, Kiran Ahuja.  Ultimately Ms. Ahuja, a civil rights lawyer and veteran of the Obama administration, was confirmed, but only after Vice-President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote, because not one single Republican was willing to vote to confirm her.  Why?  Well, for one thing she is an Indian-born immigrant.  According to Josh Hawley – you remember him, the guy who did a fist pump in a show of solidarity with the terrorists who attacked the Capitol on January 6th

“I’m concerned that as the federal government’s H.R. director, Ms. Ahuja could use her platform to promote radical ideologies that seek to divide rather than unite the American people. She could bring critical race theory back into federal government training.”

GASP!!!  She could … require sensitivity training by those who make hiring decisions for the federal government!  Oh, wouldn’t it be awful to teach people that it is wrong to discriminate!  She could actually insist that hiring decisions be based on the skill level of the applicants rather than the colour of their skin!

Apparently, the congressional Republicans want an all-white cabinet, and the difficulty of Ms. Ahuja’s appointment was not the first sign of trouble.

Shortly after taking office, President Biden nominated Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Ms. Tanden is also Indian American, and this time, Biden pulled her nomination once Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (yes, he of filibuster and voter suppression fame) made it clear he would not vote to confirm her.  However last month, the President appointed her to be a senior White House advisor, a position for which no senate confirmation is necessary.  Take that, Republicans … and Republican wannabe Manchin!

And then, there was Deb Haaland, a Native American who was chosen to be Secretary of the Interior, a department that has a long history of being used as a tool of oppression against America’s Indigenous peoples.  Ms. Haaland was ultimately confirmed in March, but only after being grilled at length as Republicans tried to paint her as a radical.  Said Republican Senator Steve Daines from Montana …

“I’m deeply concerned with the congresswoman’s support on several radical issues that will hurt Montana, our way of life, our jobs and rural America.”

Um, Mr. Daines … the population of Montana is less than 1% of the population of this country … put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I am very thrilled that the Biden cabinet looks much different than that of the former guy, that there is diversity and qualified people with experience making the everyday decisions that affect our lives.  I sincerely hope that I never see the day when there is a Republican president and a Republican majority in the Senate again, for all this progress would likely be undone within a matter of a few weeks.


But there was a big, bright spot today!

Judge Peter A. Cahill sentenced former police officer Derek Chauvin to 22.5 years for the murder of George Floyd.  This sentence will not bring Mr. Floyd back to life, but … it is consequential, and I am very pleased.  This is very nearly the longest sentence any police officer has received in this country for unnecessary killing in the line of duty and it is long past due.  It is, to the best of my knowledge, the longest sentence given to an officer for the murder of an unarmed Black person.

Shortly after reading the sentence from the bench, Judge Cahill issued a 22-page memorandum about his decision, writing, “Part of the mission of the Minneapolis Police Department is to give citizens ‘voice and respect.’” But Mr. Chauvin, the judge wrote, had instead “treated Mr. Floyd without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings and which he certainly would have extended to a friend or neighbor.”

The maximum sentence possible would have been 40 years, and the presumptive sentence would have been 12.5 years.  I think the main thing to take away from this sentencing is that it sends a strong message to police officers that the blanket concept of ‘qualified immunity’ isn’t going to protect you when you use excessive force, that times are changing and police, just like anybody else, can be held accountable for their actions.

In the end, Judge Cahill said two “aggravating factors” had affected his decision to sentence Mr. Chauvin to more than 22 years: Mr. Chauvin had acted with particular cruelty, the judge said, and had abused his authority as an officer of the law.  This needs to become the rule, not the exception!  Mr. Chauvin, who is currently 45 years of age, will likely be eligible for parole after serving 2/3 of his sentence, or in about 15 years.


For the People … yeah, right

I am still furious over the Senate Republicans’ unanimous vote to deny even debate on the For the People Act that would have ensured our rights to vote, despite nearly every state in the nation attempting to suppress that right.  But yesterday, there was a glimmer of hope.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that the U.S. Justice Department is suing the state of Georgia over its new voting law, saying that the controversial measure is intended to restrict ballot access to Black voters.  In his news conference yesterday, AG Garland said …

“Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”

Thumbs up to the Attorney General!  👍 👍

The bill, SB202, has already passed the Georgia State Legislature and been signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp.  In effect, it makes sweeping changes to the state’s absentee voting rules, adds new voter identification mandates and nearly cuts in half the amount of time for voters to request a mail-in ballot.  It also outlaws passing out food or drinks to voters within 150 feet of a polling place or too close to voters waiting in line.

These voter suppression tactics, while aimed largely at Blacks, will also negatively impact Hispanics, working mothers, the elderly, college students, and the poor.  I sincerely hope that the Justice Departments case wins the day, thereby sending messages to other states, but my best guess is that more lawsuits will be required.

Y’know … We the People have a lot of rights per the U.S. Constitution, but I think perhaps there is none more important than our right to vote, to have a voice in our government.


Late night host/comedian Stephen Colbert talked a bit about the travesty of justice regarding the For the People Act, as well as a number of other issues I’ve written about recently, and his monologue actually brought a laugh gurgling up from my throat, so I hope you’ll check it out and maybe you’ll laugh too!

DON’T Take It For Granted

The Republican Party lives in a fairy-tale world, one where reality has no place.  They don’t want to hear those realities that might awaken their sleeping consciences and make it uncomfortable for them to proceed with their platform of obstruction and lies.

The most recent example came yesterday when the 50 Republican senators voted against even discussing the For the People Act that would have ensured the right to vote for every eligible person in the U.S.  They wouldn’t even discuss it!  Why?  Because they might hear some valid reasons that this bill is the best thing for the people of the United States.  The bill is extremely popular among voters, even those in the Republican Party, but no no non nunca nyet!  What We the People need and want has zero relevance to the Republicans in Congress.  The fewer people vote, the more likely the Republicans can hold onto, or even increase, their power in Congress, thus their power to rule with an iron fist.

But this wasn’t the first time the Republican Party has interfered with our rights …

Last month, the Republican Party blocked the formation of a January 6th commission to investigate the events and what led up to the attack on Congress on January 6th of this year.  Wouldn’t you think they would want to know who the key players are, who put their lives and the very foundation of our government in danger?  But no, they do not want to be confronted with the evidence.  Why?  Because the truth will implicate some of them and will prick the conscience of others, making them look differently at their colleagues, perhaps even making them question the lack of values in their party.  Right, Kevin McCarthy?

Going back a few months further to February, the former guy was impeached by the House of Representatives a second time, this time for his role in inciting the attacks of January 6th.  When the Senate held a trial to determine if he should be convicted (typically, this trial would also determine whether to remove him from office, but as he had already been voted out, that was a moot point), the then-Republican-dominated Senate refused to allow the impeachment lawyers to call witnesses!  They refused to even hear the evidence – and yes, there was plenty of it – against the former guy because … then they might have to dust off those sleeping consciences and for once in their time in office, actually do the right thing.

Where does all this leave us?  The Republicans have a chokehold on Congress … nothing, I repeat NOTHING that helps shore up the democratic foundations of this nation and hold people accountable for their actions will be allowed.  Nothing that helps secure our constitutional rights, such as the right to vote and participate in our government, will be allowed.  Nothing that helps those in our nation who are struggling and need help will be allowed.

Last week, China raided the offices and froze the accounts of Hong Kong’s popular pro-freedom newspaper, Apple Daily.  They also arrested five of the paper’s top editors and warned the citizens of Hong Kong not to repost articles from the paper.  Today, with no choice left, the paper announced that it is closing.  I strongly suspect that the Republicans in the United States Congress look at China’s hold over Hong Kong and drool, for they lust after just such power and control.

Today in the United States, we still have a free press, and because we do, the events of January 6th are being investigated and eventually we will have the answers as to who participated in the planning of the attack.  Because we do still have a free press, we are almost immediately informed when the Republicans in the Senate do something unconscionable like refuse to even discuss a bill to fortify our voting rights.  And because we have a free press, those who would like to turn this into a nation that is ruled rather than governed must watch what they say and do.  Yes, we still have a free press … today.  But don’t … DO NOT take it for granted, because given enough power in certain places, it could be taken away someday — perhaps sooner than you think.

It is up to We the People to vote next year to remove the poison that is infecting our lawmaking body, the U.S. Congress.  Yes, we need two viable parties that can come to the table to discuss issues and compromise such that we end up with laws that, while not perfect, are in the best interest of the nation.  However, the Republican Party is no longer a viable party, but rather a party attempting to seize control for purposes that will not benefit us. The Republican Party has become dictatorial in nature and that is NOT in the best interest of anyone, except perhaps a few very wealthy people.

Why is the GOP Against The For the People Act?

There are two major issues happening in Congress that the Republicans are hellbent and determined to block. One is the formation of a January 6th commission to attempt to identify all those who contributed in one way or another to the attempted coup at the Capitol on that day. The other is the For The People Act, a bill currently being held up in the Senate that would protect our right to vote, to have a say in our government. I’ll let Jeff tell you more about that one … thanks, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

It’s far past time we start to hold the GOP accountable, especially as it pertains to The For the People Act, already passed as H.R. 1in the House, and S. 1, its mostly similar companion legislation pending in the Senate. It’s a simple question that needs to be asked: Why on earth are you against this piece of legislation?

Because once you take a look at it, you can only wonder what it is that keeps our GOP friends in Congress from supporting the bill. Because, folks, this bill will transform our politics for generations to come if it were to become law. And for the better.

The opportunity to truly remake our democracy in the 21st century is within our grasp. Failure to capitalize is not an option. Yes, we can talk about Senator Joe Manchin, if you’d like, because who in the hell knows where…

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“United” States??? What A Joke!

Are you as sick and damn tired as I am of the constant criticism of members of the Republican Party toward anything and everything that wasn’t their own idea, of anything that promotes common sense and racial equality?  They claim to want unity, but then they act as if they are the only ones whose opinions or ideas have a shred of value.  Frankly, I’m sick of it, sick of the blatant racism, homophobia, and utter stupidity.  On Tuesday, Texas Governor Abbot announced that there would be no more mask mandate and that businesses in Texas could now re-open.  On Wednesday, Mississippi followed suit, eliminating all pandemic-related restrictions.

Both states will pay a heavy price for these decisions, for the pandemic is far from over, not even under control.  Abbott claimed he had consulted with doctors about his decision, but the doctors deny his claim and say it was the wrong decision.  There isn’t a shred of doubt that these two states will see a rise in the number of cases and deaths before the end of the month.  President Biden responded …

“I think it’s a big mistake. Look, I hope everybody’s realized by now, these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms. The last thing — the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it.  It’s critical — critical, critical, critical — that they follow the science: Wash your hands, hot water, do it frequently. Wear a mask and stay socially distanced. And I know you all know that. I wish the heck some of our elected officials knew it.”

What he said was a hell of a lot nicer than what I said when I heard about Texas and Mississippi, but of course the damn fools on the right had to jump on what he said.  Senator Marco Rubio from Florida claimed Biden should seek “training on unconscious bias”WHAT BIAS, Marco?  Facts are facts!  It was neanderthal thinking … worse yet, it was lunacy.  And picking a fight over this is … or should be … beneath the dignity of elected lawmakers who have a job to do and don’t need to be wasting their time and our money nitpicking every word out of the president’s mouth!  Especially given that they supported the former guy who never uttered a sincere or kind word in 4 years!

But, there is an even more serious issue on which congressional republicans are determined to fight.  The issue is HR1, aka For the People Act, a bill that primarily deals with anti-corruption and voting reform.  The bill passed on Wednesday night in the House and now moves on to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle, especially among … yep, you got it, Republicans.

HR1 is not actually a new bill … it was passed by the House in 2019, but like most every other bill during the reign of Mitch McConnell, it sat gathering dust as he refused to even open it for discussion.  A few of the key components of the bill are …

  • Instituting nonpartisan redistricting commissions to end partisan gerrymandering
  • Creating a national system for automatic voter registration
  • Putting in transparency requirements for political advertising

When the bill was first introduced back in 2019, it had broad public support.  It might have even passed in the Senate, had Mr. McConnell allowed it to see the light of day.  Today, the criticisms of the bill are infuriatingly false.  For example, a recent Facebook post claims the Act will “permanently destroy voting in America.”  My my my … what drama queens they are!  Actually, the Act would make it easier for people to vote by mail, which would benefit us all, but especially the poor and minorities who often have difficulty getting to the polling places in time.  It would require states to implement automatic and same-day voter registration.  In short … it would allow every eligible voter to vote!!!  What the Sam Hell is so hard to understand.

The Facebook post makes alarmist claims, such as that murderers will be allowed to vote, and broad generalizations suggesting that the bill will lead to regulation of freedom of speech. While the post doesn’t use the phrase “voter fraud”, it leaves readers with the misleading impression that the bill aims to weaken election security. The bill actually includes provisions to increase security through grants and cybersecurity improvements.

43 states currently have some 250+ bills on their dockets that would restrict voting rights, make it far more difficult for people, especially those who happen to not have white skin, to vote.  WHAT the hell is fair about that?  Oh, Black people are supposed to work hard, pay their taxes, but not be allowed a voice in how those taxes are spent?  And you call this liberty???

The crux of the matter is this:  The Republican Party is in the minority, is not particularly popular with people who use their brains to think instead of playing silly putty with them, and the only damn way they can win in some areas is if they can repress the vote.  So, they criticize, they lie, they cheat, and they steal!

Mike Pence, for whom I actually had a bit of empathy after his life was nearly taken and still he proceeded to do the right thing, certifying the electoral vote on January 6th, has written an opinion piece in The Signal, a far right-wing publication, where he claims …

“After an election marked by significant voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election.”

WHOA … let’s stop right there for a minute!  After 60+ lawsuits where not a shred of evidence was provided to support the former guy’s claim of election fraud, this statement by Pence should have caused his nose to grow by at least an inch!

“Congressional districts would be redrawn by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. Illegal immigrants and law-abiding American citizens would receive equal representation in Congress. Felons would be able to vote the moment they set foot out of prison.”

Yeah … so … your point, Mikey, is what???  I don’t want elected bureaucrats drawing district maps … I want independent, non-partisan people drawing them so we don’t see maps that make no sense other than to cram minorities into as few districts as possible.  There is no such thing as an “illegal” immigrant!  If an immigrant is working and paying taxes in this country he/she ought to be able to have a voice.  And why do you think released felons ought not to be allowed to vote?  They are citizens.  They work and pay taxes once they are released.  WHY the hell do you think they ought not to have a say???  BIGOT!  Next, you can look for Pence, who is a blatant homophobe, to try to take away the LGBT community’s right to vote!

Okay, enough about what Mike Pence and the rest of the bigots in the Republican Party have to say, for my blood pressure is already somewhere up in the stratosphere. Does HR1 stand a snowball’s chance in hell of passing in the Senate?  The short answer is ‘no’, for in order to avoid a filibuster it would require a 60-vote majority … and it’s already obvious that not more than maybe one republican will vote for it.  There is a path … a very narrow path … if the senate democrats are committed enough to it, then they can partially amend Senate filibuster rules to allow democracy reform legislation like HR1 to advance on a simple majority vote and therefore potentially be able to pass on a party-line vote. That would be different from fully blowing up the filibuster, but it still could get pushback from Senate institutionalists even in the Democratic Party like Senator Joe Manchin, a staunch advocate of keeping the filibuster in place, though I have no idea why.

If HR1 fails, then the 43 states who are trying so hard to rob us of our voice in the government we support financially will likely succeed and this will no longer be a nation I can bear to live in.  If every single person, regardless of skin colour, ethnicity, gender identification, or religion cannot vote, then what’s the point in even holding elections?  Perhaps it’s time to admit that this is by no stretch of the imagination the “United” States?

A “Power Grab” or Democracy?

Elections in most countries are held on a weekend.  Why?  Because people don’t have to worry about how to make it to the polls after work or on their lunch break.  Because it makes it more convenient for voters.  And thus, it makes it more likely that more people will get off their arses and vote!  The United States is one of the few exceptions, where elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  Out of 68 nations that hold regular elections, the only ones that do not hold them on weekends are Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, South Korea, and the United States.  Some of the countries that hold weekday elections declare election day a public holiday, others permit across-the-board absentee ballots or postal votes.

The voting date in the U.S. makes it harder for poor people and minorities to vote, thus concentrating the vote and expanding the impact of the upper class, the wealthy voters, the WASPS.  In addition, we’ve made it harder for those people by closing many polling places in poorer neighborhoods, thus requiring some to make a trip by bus.  Add to that the restrictive voter ID laws that exist in some states and, well, what we end up with is the majority of the voters being middle or upper income and white.

US voter turnout trails most developed countries. During the 2016 presidential election, less than 56% of the estimated voting-age population in the US voted.  While the majority of US states have voter leave laws that guarantee certain employees a modicum of time off to vote, no federal law currently mandates that employees get time off to cast their ballots. So, when faced with choices like having to take unpaid time off work to vote, waking at the wee hours of the morning to vote so that they’re not late to work, standing in hours-long lines with everyone else who waited until after the workday to cast their ballot, or simply not voting at all, many choose the latter. Of the nonvoters surveyed by the US Census Bureau about the 2008 presidential election, the 2012 presidential election, and numerous other elections, the most commonly cited reason for not voting was being too busy or having conflicting work schedules. Obviously, we need to make some changes.

This month, House democrats introduced a bill known as the For The People Act, or HR1. It is a 571-page compendium of existing problems and proposed solutions in four political hot zones: voting, political money, redistricting, and ethics.  Obviously, I cannot address the entire bill in this post, but one portion of the bill calls for election day to be made a federal holiday in order to make it easier for everyone to vote.  Because of the large number of issues covered by HR1, it is highly unlikely that it will become law any time soon, for it would need to pass the Senate and be signed into law by Trump.  The #2 Fool on the Hill, Mitch McConnell, has already mocked and criticized the idea, saying “Just what we need, another paid holiday for federal workers”.  And how many days off do you take, Mitchie???  And then this …

“So, this is the Democrats’ plan to ‘restore democracy. A political power grab that’s smelling more and more like what it is.”

A “power grab” to ensure that everyone has a chance to vote?  I think not.  I think it’s called “democracy”, Mitchell.  Last September, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a bill in the Senate, S.3498, titled The Democracy Day Act of 2018, that would have declared election day to be a federal holiday.

“Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote.  While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy.”

Needless to say, Sanders’ bill was DOA in the republican-controlled Senate led by Mitch McConnell.

Other points in HR1 pertaining to voting:

  • Voter registration would be made easier. Citizens could register online or get registered automatically, via data from driver’s licenses or other government sources. For federal elections, states would have to provide same-day registration and at least 15 days of early voting. Election Day would be a federal holiday.

  • The bill would crack down on efforts to take voters off the rolls or prevent them from casting ballots. Felons could regain their voting rights after finishing their sentences.


  • Federal elections would require paper ballots to prevent computer tampering. State chief election officials couldn’t get involved in federal campaigns.


  • The bill would declare an intent to revive core anti-discrimination provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were effectively shut down by the Supreme Court six years ago. It would also state that failing to vote isn’t grounds for taking away a person’s voter registration.

There is much more of substance in this bill that I cannot cover in a single post, but NPR has a highly informative, easy-to-understand article covering the highlights that I suggest you take a look at.  Campaign finance, ethics, and gerrymandering are also covered, all of which sorely need to be addressed if we are to have a chance at fair elections.  Sadly, as I noted before, I don’t think the bill has a snowball’s chance of passing the Senate, for the reality is that if every eligible voter had cast a vote in 2016, we would be writing today about President Hillary Clinton, and McConnell and his band of merry thugs are well aware of it.  Mitch and his cronies are well aware that those disenfranchised voters would put an end to this picnic they’ve been having and hold them accountable for their responsibility to ALL the people of this nation, not only those who hold the nation’s wealth in their dirty hands.