Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls …

It tolls for Democracy

Hyper-partisanship is likely to be the death of the United States.  It used to be that each of the two major political parties stood for something.  The Republican Party stood for fiscal conservatism, the Democratic Party stood for government helping people, but at the end of the day compromises were settled on.  Today, the word ‘compromise’ might just as well be written out of the dictionary. 

The most glaring example I see is the response to the events of January 6th, when a group of (mostly Republican) men and women attempted, with the blessings of the then-president, to overthrow our votes, to tell us that our voices do not matter, and to crush the democratic foundation of the nation.  The biggest problem is that it doesn’t take a majority to accomplish what the January 6th insurrectionists were trying to accomplish … all it takes is a relatively few radicals who believe their voice is more important than ours, and a handful of corrupt politicians planning from behind the scenes.

I was astounded to see the latest poll showing that while the majority of people do not support those who implemented the attempted coup on January 6th, some 19% of people actually do support it!  26% of Republicans support the insurrectionists … no real surprise there, I suppose, since it was the Republicans who were the planners behind it … but even 16% of Democrats support the actions of those who attempted to silence our voices, to murder this nation, to turn us into another Hungary or Russia!  And 8% of Independents support the insurrectionists.  What the Sam Hell is wrong with people???

The same poll asked people how they view each of the parties in regard to certain behaviours.  Turns out that Republicans are more known for creating violence and undermining election integrity, while Democrats are best known for protecting voting rights and democracy.  

To add insult to injury, just yesterday a judge acquitted one of the insurrectionists of four misdemeanor counts: entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

In my book, each and every person who illegally entered the Capitol on that day is guilty of attempting to overthrow an election and thereby a legitimately elected government.  There should be no acquittals, no light sentences or slaps on the wrist … there should be time spent in prison, no excuses!  Nobody … not one single person … who entered the Capitol on that near-fateful day, came there in peace to support our free elections.  No, they came with one purpose only … to kill democracy by overthrowing the results of a free and fair election.  That was the goal and not a single one of them care about the police officers who died as a result of that day, or the trauma that some will never outlive.

It shouldn’t matter, but the judge in this case, U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, was among the first round of Trump appointees in mid-2017.  It shouldn’t matter, for judges take an oath swearing to judge cases on merit and without partiality.  But perhaps it did matter in this case, for no impartial judge could have simply acquitted Matthew Martin.  No doubt, though, the 19% of people who support the insurrectionists are doing a happy dance over Martin’s acquittal while the rest of us lose sleep wondering how many more will be released into society to complete the destruction of democracy in the next few years.

One bright note today:  I have no less than 5 ‘breaking news’ updates on my phone telling me that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has been confirmed in a senate vote, 53-47!!!  Welcome to the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Jackson!!!

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good …

First, the good.  Yesterday, Senator Susan Collins of Maine announced that she is planning to vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson next month.  I have long felt that if any Republicans would stray from the party line and follow their conscience, it would be Collins, Murkowski of Alaska, and Romney of Utah.  We can only hope that with Senator Collins stepping forward with her courage, others may follow suit, realizing perhaps that their oath to We the People matters more than their oath of fealty to party.

UNITED STATES – MARCH 8: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Bidens nominee for Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in her office on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“After reviewing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s extensive record, watching much of her hearing testimony, and meeting with her twice in person, I have concluded that she possesses the experience, qualifications, and integrity to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court.  I will, therefore, vote to confirm her to this position.”

It’s not often these days that a member of the Republican Party has the courage to go against the flow, and I think it’s important to give kudos to those who do.  Thumbs up on this one, Senator Collins.  👍

The Bad …

From Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter on Tuesday night …

Russian state TV featured a Russian government official calling for “regime change” in the United States, asking the people of the U.S. to replace President Biden with Trump “to again help our partner Trump to become President.”

Our partner???  Well then … can there be any clearer statement than this to confirm what most of us realized early in 2017 … that Russia did assist in the former guy’s election in 2016 and would happily do so again today?  Why?  Because Putin realized early on that Trump was enough of an egomaniac that he could be played like a fiddle.  But this, a Russian official calling for intervention to unseat a sitting president, is even worse, for it is an attempt to not only overthrow an election, but a duly-elected president who is already in office and has been for 14 months!  And yes, for the record I did verify this news via a number of sources.

The Ugly …

Every former president that I can think of in my lifetime has left the limelight with grace and dignity at the end of their term … even Richard M. Nixon tucked his tail between his legs and slunk off into the night.  We did not hear Nixon calling for revenge, nor trying to control the Republican Party from afar.  In fact, we heard very little from Nixon over the years after his exit from the Oval Office on August 8, 1974, and frankly, what Nixon did to force his resignation pales in comparison to what the former guy did during and since his time in office.  So why is the former guy still in the news on a daily basis?  Why is he being allowed by the GOP to continue to make utterly stupid remarks, sparking the wrath of the nation – except, of course, for his rabid followers who would love him even if he threatened to murder their children.

The latest?  From his ‘home’ in Mar-a-Lago, he called on Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to ‘find dirt’ on the president’s son, Hunter Biden.  It’s not the first time … in fact, Trump’s first impeachment came as a result of him asking Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy to ‘dig up dirt’ on Hunter Biden in exchange for military aid that had already been approved by Congress.  But today, he is in no position of power, has no role in our relations with either Russia or Ukraine!  As White House Communication Director Kate Bedingfield, filling in for Jen Psaki who is out with COVID, said yesterday …

“What kind of American, let alone an ex-president, thinks that this is the right time to enter into a scheme with Vladimir Putin and brag about his connections to Vladimir Putin? There is only one, and it’s ****** *****.” [name deleted to protect the integrity of this blog]

What kind indeed?  The kind who, according to his own niece, would burn down an entire nation to protect his own ego.  The kind who thinks, erroneously, that he is some sort of a great mind, when he cannot string together a simple sentence.  The kind who will never care for others, who considers himself the only important being in the world.

Let us remember, folks, that neither the former guy nor Hunter Biden are president of this nation … our president is Joe Biden and he is doing a damn fine job, given all that’s been thrown onto his plate in the past 14 months since he took his Oath of Office!  Meanwhile, I call on the Department of Justice to proceed with all due haste in the indictment of the former guy so that he may reside in a federal prison with few venues for his hateful communications.

And I call on those who still consider themselves disciples of the former guy to search high and low for your consciences, for your integrity …

The Week’s Best Cartoons 3/26

Let’s start this Sunday out with the week’s best political cartoons from TokyoSand over at Political Charge, shall we?  Many topics to tackle this week … the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the Russian war in Ukraine, fuel prices, the emails between Clarence Thomas’ wife and Mark Meadows … whew … it’s enough to wear us out, but the political cartoonists are at their best!  Thank you, TS!

Here’s some of the great cartoons I saw this week about the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the war in Ukraine, and more.

See all the ‘toons at TokyoSand’s Political Charge!

The Bright Star Of The Confirmation Hearing

On Wednesday, after all the Republicans had finished their infantile attempts to tie Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to anything and everything that they could think of to tear down her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Senator Cory Booker, a Black senator from New Jersey, gave the speech that brought tears to Judge Jackson, to onlookers, and to me as I watched the video clip from his impassioned speech.  Here’s what one of my favourite columnists, Eugene Robinson, had to say about it in his column in The Washington Post, followed by a short clip from Booker’s speech.

Cory Booker cut through the GOP’s ugliness to celebrate Judge Jackson

By Eugene Robinson


24 March 2022

The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson have been rife with racism, sexism, feigned outrage and general ugliness. But Wednesday’s proceedings brought one moment of such powerful eloquence that it brought Jackson, and me, to tears. Thank you, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), for speaking truth and for celebrating this historic moment as it deserves to be marked.

Booker’s turn to question Jackson came toward the end of the session. She had been badgered all day by Republicans who pretended to be outraged by the sentences she imposed in several child pornography cases when she was a U.S. district court judge. Republican Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.) had been particularly obnoxious, interrupting Jackson repeatedly and trying their best not to let her defend herself.

Booker greeted Jackson with a broad smile. “Your family and you speak to service, service, service,” he began. “And I’m telling you right now, I’m not letting anybody in the Senate steal my joy. … I just look at you, and I start getting full of emotion.”

The senator said he had been jogging that morning when an African American woman, a stranger, “practically tackled” him to explain how much it meant to her to see Jackson sitting in the witness chair.

“And you did not get there because of some left-wing agenda,” Booker said. “You didn’t get here because of some ‘dark money’ groups. You got here how every Black woman in America who’s gotten anywhere has done. By being, like Ginger Rogers said, ‘I did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards, in heels.’ And so I’m just sitting here saying nobody’s stealing my joy. Nobody is going to make me angry.”

Booker noted that he was just the fourth African American to be popularly elected to the Senate, rather than appointed to his post or elected by a state legislature. He said that during his first week at the Capitol, an older Black man who worked on the cleaning crew came up to him and began crying. “And I just hugged him, and he just kept telling me, ‘It’s so good to see you here.’”

He said Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who also is African American, understood what he meant. Booker and Scott are at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum — Booker a progressive Democrat, Scott a far-right Republican — but he credited Scott with having given “the best speech on race — I wish I could have given as good of a speech. … Talking of the challenges and indignities that are still faced. And you’re here.”

Booker recalled that during a meeting at the White House when President Biden was trying to decide whom to nominate, he and Vice President Harris exchanged the same “knowing glance” that they used to share when Harris was a senator and she sat next to Booker at Judiciary Committee hearings.

It is a glance that every successful African American is familiar with. It says: I know what you went through to get here. I know the hoops you had to jump through, the hurdles you had to surmount, the obstacles thrown into your path. I know you saw less talented White colleagues rise smoothly and steadily to the top while you had to prove your excellence time and again. I know that you could never let your bosses and colleagues see you get angry, never let them see you sweat.

Booker told Jackson that he knew she was “so much more than your race and gender” but could not look at her without seeing his mother or his cousins, “one of them who had to come here to sit behind you … to have your back.” He told Jackson that when he looked at her “I see my ancestors, and yours … Nobody’s going to steal that joy.”

The senator noted that Jackson’s parents, despite the oppressive racial discrimination of their times, “didn’t stop loving this country, even though this country didn’t love them back.” He quoted from the Langston Hughes poem, “Let America Be America Again.” He spoke of the struggles of Irish and Chinese immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community, who also loved this country and had to demand that it love them in return. He recounted the life story of Harriet Tubman and told of how she looked up at the North Star as a harbinger of hope. “Today you’re my star,” he told Jackson. “You are my harbinger of hope.”

The attacks from Republicans would continue, Booker said. “But don’t worry, my sister. Don’t worry. God has got you. And how do I know that?” Booker’s voice cracked with emotion. “Because you’re here. And I know what it’s taken for you to sit in that seat.”

Thank you, Mr. Robinson … and now a short clip from Senator Booker’s speech …