Women’s Rights Is Only The Beginning

Today the Supreme Court, once a fair and non-partisan branch of our federal government, is hearing a case to decide whether to uphold the recent Mississippi law banning abortions.  The general consensus is that the Court will, either in this case or the next one, do significant damage to Roe v Wade, if not completely overturn the 1973 decision that gave women the right to control their own bodies.

Make no mistake … this is NOT simply about abortion, about the fate of a fetus that might or might not otherwise become a human.  No, people, this is about women’s rights, about where women stand in the grand scheme of this country.  Make no mistake – the United States is still very much a man’s world where men, regardless of how corrupt, how cruel, how ignorant they are, are revered over women, considered somehow ‘superior’ to women by the majority of people.  Don’t believe me?  Look at the U.S. Congress and tell me how many women you see there?  144 women hold seats in the U.S. Congress, just under 27%, while women comprise more than 50% of the total population of the country.  Also notable is the disparity between parties … 105 of those 144 women are Democrats, while the other 39 are Republicans.  And frankly, among the Republican women in Congress are the likes of Margie Greene and Lauren Boebert … radical conspiracy theorists who are not in any way representative of women in this nation.

What’s next in the fight for women’s rights?  Will they take our right to vote?  To own property?  To divorce our husbands?  Women in this nation have had to fight tooth-and-nail for every single right we have, and now, thanks to the bigotry of the former guy and his court appointees, we stand to lose, stand to be shoved back into the dark ages of the nation’s history.  If the bigots have their way, a young girl raped by her father or an uncle will be forced to give birth to a baby, her life forever changed, forever damaged.  Thousands of unwanted children will be born into households where they stand no chance of a normal life, where food is scarce, where parents are ill-prepared to cope with another mouth to feed.

Given the current structure of the Supreme Court, I no longer hold out any hope for justice, for equality, for human rights to win the day.  The Court today is merely an extension of the Republican Party, the minority party and the radical religious right.  Separation of church and state is destined to become a tenet of the past as the Court supports the bigotry that is ingrained in the evangelical doctrine.  Sadly, women’s rights are not the only ones on the chopping block, but also LGBT rights and voting rights stand to take a knife in the back under today’s Court.

There is only one possible means of overcoming the radical right majority currently in the Supreme Court and possibly salvaging the third branch of the federal government, and that is for President Biden to add seats to the Court.  This is not as simple nor as straightforward as some would have us believe, but it may well be the last best hope this nation has of salvaging its democratic principles.  Without the checks and balances on the power of any one branch of the federal government, we are destined to become a nation ruled by religious bigotry, by men more interested in their own power and wealth than the well-being of the citizens of the nation.  I don’t know about you, but that is not a nation I would be proud to call home.  Think about it.

The Justices Have Been Busy!

The Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have been busy little beavers this week.  Their rulings are something of a mixed bag … more to raise my hackles than not, but let’s start with the good news.


ACA survives to save more lives

Once again, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, was on the chopping block, and yet again, for the third time, the Court saved it from the Republican hatchet in the case of California v Texas.  The most interesting vote in my book was that of Justice Clarence Thomas.  Thomas, who voted against ACA the first two times it came before the Court, voted in favour of it this time, saying …

“Whatever the act’s dubious history in this court, we must assess the current suit on its own terms. And, here, there is a fundamental problem with the arguments advanced by the plaintiffs in attacking the act — they have not identified any unlawful action that has injured them. Today’s result is thus not the consequence of the court once again rescuing the act, but rather of us adjudicating the particular claims the plaintiffs chose to bring.”

He’s not exactly the head cheerleader for the Act that has allowed so many to have access to healthcare when they otherwise would not have, but a statement of fairness, at least.  I was also surprised that Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett voted in favour of ACA this time ‘round.  It is estimated that if the Court had struck down ACA, some 21 million people would have lost their access to healthcare.  There are still larger issues related to ACA that the Court has not yet addressed, but for now, it lives to see another day, to help people be able to take their sick children to a doctor.


The Court upholds bigotry

This one, Fulton v City of Philadelphia, involved the city of Philadelphia and a Catholic adoption agency who refused to work with same-sex couples.  Philadelphia had stopped placements with the agency, Catholic Social Services, after a 2018 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer described its policy against placing children with same-sex couples. The agency and several foster parents sued the city, saying the decision violated their First Amendment rights to religious freedom and free speech.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for six members of the court, said that the Catholic agency …

“… seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else.”

I understand his view, but I still think it is wrong to allow any public agency to discriminate on any basis.  It’s a slippery slope … what comes next?  Will they confine their selection of potentially adoptive parents to only those with white skin?  Or perhaps only those who identify as Catholics?  The ‘right’ to freedom of religion is sacrosanct, however it should never infringe on other people’s rights, especially the rights of children to be placed in a loving home.


Human Rights … depends on who’s asking

The third case, Nestlé USA v. Doe, was brought by six citizens of Mali who said they were trafficked into slavery as children. They sued Nestlé USA and Cargill, saying the firms had aided and profited from the practice of forced child labor.  Note that the claim itself was not in dispute … it happened.  What was in dispute was whether the U.S. corporations involved in human rights violations outside the U.S. could be held accountable.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said the companies’ activities in the United States were not sufficiently tied to the asserted abuses.  And that was the end of that.  So, corporations can operate facilities to manufacture their product outside the U.S. using child labour, paying next to nothing, and the laws of the U.S. will support their activities.  Seems rather odd to me for a nation whose very foundation is built on human rights.  A nation who screams bloody murder when a [white] person is denied any right.  A nation that is a member of the United Nations, an organization dedicated to human rights around the globe.  Hypocrisy?  Oh yeah.  But then, what would you expect from a nation that is attempting to deny the poor, the elderly, Blacks and other minorities the right to vote?


June is the busiest month for the Supreme Court, the last in its annual term and quite often the most controversial cases are saved for June.  One that is on the docket is Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, a case concerning voting rights.  The Court will decide whether to uphold Arizona’s racist and restrictive voting laws that allow the state to a) discard ballots cast at the wrong precinct, and b) make ‘ballot harvesting’ a crime.

Next year will be especially confusing for some voters, as newly drawn district maps may change the location of their polling place.  So, if John Doe casts his ballot at the same place he did in 2020, not realizing there had been a change in the boundaries of his district, his ballot will be thrown out under the new Arizona law.  And if someone collects the ballots from residents of a senior care facility and takes 20 or 30 ballots to the drop box, that person would be in violation of the law and those ballots not counted.  Discriminatory as hell!

However, the larger question is whether the ruling will be so broad that it will also effectively endorse new voting laws that states have passed this year.  The Court, under Chief Justice John Roberts, has generally sided with Republican state officials when they have restricted voting access.  Keep your eye on this one, folks, for it may be the seed that determines whether We the People will continue to have a voice in our government, or whether our civil rights will be jerked out from under us.

Five Years Later …. “ 🏳️‍🌈 ‘It Still Hurts! Gone Too Soon’ – #OrlandoUnited 🏳️‍🌈 …. “!!

Due to circumstances largely beyond my control, Part II of my “Celebrating Pride Month” post has been delayed by a day until this afternoon. However, as my friend Larry points out, PRIDE Month is about more than parades and celebrations, it is about history and heartbreak as well. Five years ago, 49 people were murdered and 53 others injured in a mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. My dear friend Horty Rex is looking back at that night, remembering those people, and I think her post is as important to honouring PRIDE Month as are the parades and celebrations. Thank you, Horty, for this beautiful tribute to those people.

It Is What It Is

~~June 12, 2021~~

PULSE NIGHTCLUB MASSACRE

Five years ago today, I remember waking up to the horrific reality, perpetrated on my local LGBTQ+ community in Orlando.

#OrlandoUnited

Gone but not frogotten!!

The majority of the victims were Latin/Hispanic … that was another blow to one of my demographics. It’s something that can’t never, ever be fogotten!!

#49Angels

… who will live in our hearts and memories for all eternity!!

HortyRex©

ORLANDO

~REMEMBERING THE PULSE 49~

Five years ago, 49 families learned their mothers, fathers, siblings and friends would not be coming home after a gunman opened fire on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Each one of the 49 people killed, now known as the 49 angels, on June 12, 2016, left behind a legacy.

Before they were victims, the 49 were mothers, fathers, recent graduates, veterans, breast cancer survivors, dreamers, artists and so much more.

~~Published April 28, 2017~~

On…

View original post 79 more words

Religious Freedom Or Persecution?

Religious freedom … now there’s a term that has almost unlimited definitions.  My own, and one that I believe is in synch with that of the Founding Fathers back in 1787, is that each person has the freedom to believe in and practice his/her religion without interference from the government.  But today, there are those who define it as having the freedom to declare that their beliefs are the only correct ones and that every person should be forced to follow their religion and believe as they do.  Well, that ain’t how it works, and if you study history, you will see that this line of thinking has led to many of the wars that have been fought throughout past centuries. 

The United States is a secular nation.  This means that government and laws are not based on any religion and do not favour any one religion over others.  Many today seem to want to call this a “Christian nation”, but that is so wrong it makes my teeth hurt.  This is not a Christian nation, for we have a most diverse population that includes Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Jains, atheists, agnostics, and more.  Each person, regardless of religious beliefs, has the exact same rights and responsibilities under the U.S. Constitution.

Religious freedom means the right to practice and believe any or no religion.  It does NOT mean one religion has the right to impose their views on others.  Period.  Every religion on earth has its biases, and in the U.S. those biases have led to discrimination against others such as the LGBT community and women.  Today, there is a bill working its way through Congress called the Do No Harm Act.  Our friend Nan has written an excellent post about this bill, so rather than re-invent the wheel, I will let her tell you about it … thank you, Nan!

Nan’s Notebook: Religious Freedom

This bill, if passed, would not take away anyone’s rights to observe their religion as they wish, but rather it would restore the civil rights of all, would make it illegal to discriminate based on religious beliefs.  It’s really so simple.

It’s Time To Burn Bigotry

Just a short update before I delve into my main topic this morning …


Bye-bye DeJoy

In his testimony before Congress yesterday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy arrogantly said that he plans to stay in his current position, despite opposition, “… for a long time.  Get used to me.”  Well, we’ll just see about that, because on the same day that he so cockily said that, President Biden nominated three people to the USPS Board of Governors.  Those three – Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar and Amber McReynolds – once confirmed by the Senate, would create a Democratic majority on the Board and DeJoy could easily be fired from his position.  Fingers crossed on that one, for while I don’t like to see anyone fired, this arrogant man has all but destroyed the U.S. Postal Service and has unabashedly spoken of his intent to further slow the mail and raise prices.  I shall dance on the day he is told to pack his bags!


Equality Act

The Equality Act has passed its first hurdle … it passed in the House yesterday with a vote of 224-206 and even three Republicans voted for it.  What is the Equality Act?  It is an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act to provide protections for LGBTQ individuals.  The bill would ban discrimination in various areas, including the workplace, housing and education, in addition to federally funded programs. The legislation also would expand the 1964 bill to cover public accommodations to include places like shopping malls, sports arenas, and even websites.  Pretty simple, right?  People should not be punished for being LGBT.  Period.  They are human beings just like me, just like you, and they deserve the same legal protections.

The Republicans in general, however, don’t quite see it that way.  With the exception of the three who crossed the aisle to vote for the bill, they are dead set against it.  Why?  Truth is because they are bigots, homophobes who would disown their own child if he/she told them he/she was gay.  They believe that the only people who deserve the best life has to offer are white, straight, Christian males.  But they have a remarkable excuse for their homophobia … they claim it takes away people’s religious freedom.  Yeah, really … go figure.

One portion of the Republican argument, as well as religious leaders’, is that the bill doesn’t limit “public accommodations” to exclude churches.  Religious leaders want to be able to forbid LGBT people in their churches.  Well, guess what, Mr. Bigot … I doubt any LGBT person would want to enter your “house of worship.”  Keep it filled with racists and homophobes …

Another part of the argument against the bill claims that giving equal rights to the LGBT community would “alter the country’s social fabric by blurring gender lines in women’s sports and other cultural practices.”  Bullshit!  I’ve never heard such a crappy excuse in my life!  Our society, our lives, and our culture are enhanced by the diversity, and any who cannot see that are culturally and socially blind.

The infamous Marjorie Taylor Greene crossed a line when she hung an anti-transgender sign outside her office, claiming “there are TWO genders: MALE & FEMALE”.  Bad enough to say under any circumstances, but what made it even worse is that the office across the hall from hers is that of Representative Marie Newman, whose daughter is transgender.  Ms. Greene, as I have said on multiple occasions, does NOT belong in Congress.

One comment I saw to this story stirred my ire …

“This pieces [sic] of legislation is just another way for “the establishment” to keep us divided as a nation. All people are created equal, I certainly don’t need the DC establishment to pass legislation for me to understand this Fact.”

Seriously, buddy?  Don’t you think that if Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, and LGBT were all treated equally, we wouldn’t even have needed the Civil Rights Act?  Don’t you think that if everyone treated everyone equally, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation?  What keeps us divided is not that the government is trying to protect people from discrimination, but rather that there are bigots out there who would lynch a Black man, who would kill a transgender person on sight.  There are landlords who would refuse to rent housing to them, employers who would refuse them a job, and even businesses … oh, say like a bakery that specializes in wedding cakes … that would refuse them service!  Sadly, the bigots have to be forced to do the right thing and treat people right!  And they call themselves “Christians”.  Ask me again why I consider religion the source of most of what’s wrong in the world!

Next stop for the Equality Act is the Senate.  This same bill was passed by the House in 2019, but when it got to the Senate, Mitch McConnell refused to even bring it to the Senate floor, so there it died.  I think it will be different this time, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised that the legislation will get a floor vote “at exactly the right time.” But … it will need 10 Senate Republican votes in order to beat back a GOP filibuster.  Are there 10 Republicans in the Senate with any form of a conscience?  Apparently not, given the outcome of the impeachment trial.  DAMN the filibuster!  I have a brilliant idea … remember how many were calling to ‘defund the police’ last summer?  Let’s start a movement to ‘defund republicans in Congress’ until they start acting like adults!

I will be composing a letter to the republican senator for my own state in the next day or two … not that it will matter or change his mind, but … I have to try.

Two Thumbs Up For Supreme Court Today!

Score one … no wait, score two … for justice today!  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on two separate cases this morning that I’ve been watching.


The first is the case brought by District Attorney Cyrus Vance of New York, seeking access to eight years of Donald Trump’s financial and tax records.  This case has been tied up in the courts for years now, often hindered by U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, who served as Trump’s lapdog and protector.  But today, the Court denied the motion by Trump’s attorneys to keep his tax records hidden in a one-sentence order with no recorded dissents.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Music to the ears!  What this means is there are no further appeals and the accounting firm Mazar’s will turn over the subpoenaed tax records to Cyrus Vance’s office within a matter of days.  Last year, the New York Times obtained more than two decades of tax return data of Trump and his companies and published a series of articles about them.  Trump, the articles said, sustained significant losses, owes enormous debts that he is personally obligated to repay, has avoided paying federal income taxes in 11 of the 18 years the Times examined and paid just $750 in both 2016 and 2017.

The scope of Mr. Vance’s inquiry is not known. It arose partly from an investigation by his office into hush-money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, relationships the president has denied. But court filings by prosecutors suggested that they are also investigating potential crimes like tax and insurance fraud.

Vance responded to the court decision with a three-word tweet: “The work continues.”


The second Supreme Court ruling that gets a thumbs-up is in what should be the next-to-last case challenging the 2020 election results.  This one sought to throw out a portion of the postal votes in the state of Pennsylvania, based on the fact that some were received and accepted in the three-day period after election day.  Never mind that this was Trump’s own fault, for placing Louis DeJoy in the position of Postmaster General with the sole goal of slowing the mail to a snail’s pace so that postal votes would be delayed.  The Court basically told Trump to sit down and shut up, and even Justices Alito, Gorsuch and Thomas acknowledged that the number of ballots received after Election Day would not have been enough to threaten President Biden’s victory margin over Trump.

The next and final case challenging election results will be heard on March 5th, challenging the use of ballot drop boxes in the state of Wisconsin.  I have no idea why these cases have not been dropped, for all claims of widespread voter fraud have been disproven time and time again over the past four months, and there is no case that would have changed the outcome of the election.  It’s a complete waste of both time and money when the Court has more important things to concern itself with.


And in upcoming legislation …

You may remember the Equality Act, a bill that would significantly expand LGBTQ protections.  The bill was passed by the House in 2019, but languished in the Senate where then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to even bring the bill to the floor.  Last week, Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island re-introduced the bill, which is expected to pass in the House, but may face an uphill battle in the Senate.

The bill, if passed and signed into law, would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to include LGBTQ Americans, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for housing, education, employment and in other areas.  A no-brainer, right?  But … well, the congressional republicans claim it will interfere with religious freedom!

None other than Marjorie Taylor Greene, a freshman representative who has already stirred up trouble more than a few times since taking her oath of office last month, opposes the bill calling it “an attack on people of faith.”  BULLSHIT!  If “people of faith” are so bigoted that they would deny equal rights to people in the LGBT community, then I suggest they re-evaluate their ‘faith’.  Greene tweeted earlier today …

“Just to make myself clear, I WILL BE VOTING NO TO THE DISGUSTING, IMMORAL, AND EVIL #EqualityAct!!! It has nothing to do with stopping discrimination against the LGBT community, that could be done easily without this. It has everything to do with attacking God & believers.”

My own representative, Warren Davidson, made the same claim on Twitter just this morning.  Are all republicans homophobes, then?  Are they all bigots?  Perhaps they should have a big “B” tattooed on their foreheads, ala The Scarlet Letter.

If the Senate refuses to pass this one (it will require a 60-vote majority to avoid a filibuster), then I suggest that every single senator who votes against it be shown just what discrimination feels like.  Let them be denied service next time they go to a restaurant.  Let them be shunned in public.  Cross to the other side of the street to avoid them.  Give them just a taste of what it’s like to be discriminated against.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

It should be noted that members of Congress represent ALL the people in their district/state, not only straight, white, Christian males!

All Eyes Are On Georgia — Part I

There are 26 days left until the two Georgia runoff elections to determine who will occupy Georgia’s seats in the U.S. Senate.  Ordinarily, those of us who don’t live in Georgia wouldn’t likely give more than a passing glance to these elections or the candidates, but with the demographics of the senate hanging in the balance, all eyes are on Georgia.  These two elections will play a huge roll in President-elect Biden’s ability to get his cabinet nominees confirmed, for starters, and down the road will be a determining factor in just how much of his legislation will be passed by Congress.  It will also determine whether the iron-fisted Mitch McConnell will continue to lead the Senate in his obstructionist manner.

So, let’s talk a little bit about the Senate candidates from Georgia, shall we?  This will likely be a two-part post, for I want to cover a bit about each of the four candidates … Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock on the Democratic ticket, and David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on the Republican side.  Let’s start with the race between Raphael Warnock and Kelly Loeffler.


warnockRaphael Warnock has been the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta since 2005, following in the footsteps of his childhood hero, Dr. Martin Luther King. Warnock came to prominence in Georgia politics as a leader in the campaign to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  Ordinarily, I would not favour a religious leader running for a seat in Congress, but everything I’ve heard and read about Warnock tells me that he would take seriously his oath to defend the Constitution and would always act with the interest of We the People in mind.

I often complain that our members of Congress were mainly born with a silver spoon in their mouth and cannot possibly understand the plight of the average people or the poor in this nation.  The same cannot be said of Raphael Warnock who grew up in public housing as the eleventh of twelve children.  He knows what it’s like to struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table.

In March 2014, Warnock led a sit-in at the Georgia State Capitol to press state legislators to accept the expansion of Medicaid offered by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He and other leaders were arrested during the protest.  Kind of reminds me a bit of the late John Lewis and Elijah Cummings, both Civil Rights activists.


LoefflerKelly Loeffler currently holds the Senate seat for which she and Warnock are vying, but she was never elected to that seat.  Rather, she was appointed a year ago by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp after Senator Johnny Isakson stepped down due to health issues.  Far more is known about Loeffler than Warnock, none of it particularly impressive in my book.

Loeffler is, and has always been, a businesswoman, not a politician.  Which in and of itself would not disqualify her, but her bigotry and shady dealings should.

She was previously chief executive officer (CEO) of Bakkt, a subsidiary of commodity and financial service provider Intercontinental Exchange owned by her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher. She co-owns the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Loeffler has strongly aligned herself to Donald Trump and frequently bragged about her “100 percent Trump voting record” during the campaign.  She and other senators, including the other republican in this runoff election, David Perdue,  took advantage of non-public information to sell stocks earlier this year before the pandemic caused the market to decline … insider trading.  On January 24, 2020, the Senate Committees on Health and Foreign Relations held a closed meeting with only Senators present to brief them about the COVID-19 outbreak and how it would affect the United States (would have been nice if they had briefed We the People, huh?). Following the meeting Senator Kelly Loeffler and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, made twenty-seven transactions to sell stocks worth between $1,275,000 and $3,100,000 and two transactions to buy stock in Citrix Systems which saw an increase following the stock market decline.

When she was asked about the Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump discusses groping women, Loeffler replied that she was “not familiar with that”. When she was separately asked about a recording of Trump telling Bob Woodward that he was intentionally downplaying COVID-19 in public, she responded that it was “fake news”.  Never mind, I guess, that it was a taped conversation?

Loeffler supports ending the Affordable Care Act that provides health insurance to millions who would not otherwise be able to afford it, and she is staunchly anti-abortion and anti-LGBT rights.  In fact, she is so opposed to women’s and LGBT rights that in the past year, she has donated large portions of her Senate salary to anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights organizations.  Yes, you read that right.  Of course, she didn’t need the money, for with a net worth of $500 million, she is the richest member of Congress.

In October 2020, shortly after Donald and Melania Trump were diagnosed with the coronavirus after attending events where they closely interacted with other individuals while maskless, Loeffler, who often appeared at rallies and gatherings without wearing a mask, posted the following ignorant tweet:

“China gave this virus to our President @realDonaldTrump and First Lady @FLOTUS. WE MUST HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE.”

Never mind that as of today, nearly 300,000 people in the U.S. have died from the virus, and never mind that the Trumps were given treatments that none of the rest of us could possibly afford, and never mind that … oh never mind.  Kelly Loeffler is an ignorant, arrogant rich bitch.  Please, Georgians, DO NOT return her to Congress on January 5th!  She is the antithesis of what this nation stands for … or once stood for.

The latest polls show Warnock leading by 2-3 points … let’s hope it stays that way, or even that his lead strengthens … which could well happen, given that Trump is telling republicans not to bother to vote in the runoff elections, that they would be ‘rigged’ – one of his favourite words.  The election has been coloured with nasty, untrue ad campaigns by Loeffler, attacks against Warnock, and I’ll say no more on that, for I am sick and damn tired of hearing the republican lies and watching people fall for the conspiracy crap.  For my part, I will stick to facts.

I will write about Jon Ossof and David Perdue, probably tomorrow morning since this sort of post is better done late at night when I have some uninterrupted time to read and research.

Wise Words And A Question

ACBAlways a voice of reason, Nicholas Kristof has written yet another introspective and timely column in yesterday’s New York Times.  Whereas I tend to rant, Kristof is the calm voice of reason, yet even he admits that the United States may be on a backward-facing treadmill.  He concludes his column with an important question for us all.  I urge you to read what he says …


Will We Choose the Right Side of History?

In Amy Coney Barrett, Republicans are once again backing a Supreme Court nominee who could take us backward.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

Amy Coney Barrett has been following recent precedent in her confirmation hearing before the Senate, pretending that she has never had an interesting thought in her life.

Is it illegal to intimidate voters at the polls? She didn’t want to weigh in. A president postponing an election? Hmm. She’d have to think about that.

What about climate change? “I have read things about climate change,” she acknowledged, warily emphasizing that she is not a scientist. “I would not say I have firm views on it.”

If she had been asked about astronomy, she might have explained: “I have read things about the Earth being round. I would not say I have firm views on it.”

But for all the obfuscation, which nominees of Democratic presidents have engaged in as well, there is no hiding the essential truths that Barrett: A) is very bright; and B) would solidify a conservative Supreme Court majority whose judicial philosophy has been on the wrong side of many of the great issues of my lifetime.

We sometimes distinguish between “liberal judges” and “conservative judges.” Perhaps the divide instead is between forward-thinking judges and backward-thinking judges.

Partly because of paralysis by legislators, partly because of racist political systems, forward-thinking judges sometimes had to step up over the last 70 years to tug the United States ahead. Those judges chipped away at Jim Crow and overturned laws against interracial marriage, against contraception, and fought racial and sexual discrimination.

Just this week, Bernard Cohen, the lawyer who won the interracial marriage case in the Supreme Court in 1967, died — a reminder of how recent such progress is. In that case, Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and Black woman who married in Washington, D.C., had moved to Virginia, where the police barged into their home at 2 a.m. and arrested them in bed for violating an anti-miscegenation law. Forward-thinking justices struck down such laws — and that wasn’t about “activist judges” but about decency, humanity and the 14th Amendment.

It was as recent as 2003 that enlightened Supreme Court judges struck down state sodomy laws that could be used to prosecute same-sex lovers. Three backward-thinking justices, including Antonin Scalia, Barrett’s mentor, would have allowed Taliban-style prosecutions of gay people for intimacy in the bedroom. (Barrett refused in the hearing Wednesday to say whether the case was rightly decided.)

It is true, as some conservatives argue, that this path toward social progress would ideally have been blazed by legislators, not judges. But it is difficult for people who are denied voting rights to protect their voting rights, and judicial passivism in these cases would have buttressed discrimination, racism, sexism and bigotry.

That brings us to another historical area where conservatives, Barrett included, have also been on the wrong side of history — access to health care.

Over the last hundred years, advanced countries have, one by one, adopted universal health care systems, with one notable exception: the United States. That’s one reason next month’s election is such a milestone, for one political party in America is trying to join the rest of the civilized world and provide universal health care, and the other is doing its best to take away what we have.

The G.O.P. is succeeding. Census data show that even before the Covid-19 pandemic the number of uninsured Americans had risen by 2.3 million under Trump — and another 2.9 million have lost insurance since the pandemic hit. Most troubling of all, about one million children have lost insurance under Trump over all, according to a new Georgetown study.

I’m not trying to scare readers about Barrett joining a conservative majority to overturn the Affordable Care Act. My take is that Democrats are exaggerating that risk; the Republican argument in the case, to be heard next month, is such a legal stretch that it’s unlikely to succeed fully, even if Barrett is on the court.

But it is possible, and that would be such a cataclysm — perhaps 20 million Americans losing insurance during a pandemic — that it’s worth a shudder. It should also remind us of the importance of renewing the imperfect, on-again-off-again march of civilization in America, away from bigotry and toward empowerment of all citizens.

Barrett is not a horrible person; on the contrary, she seems to be a smart lawyer with an admirable personal story. Yet she’s working with a gang of Republican senators to steal a seat on the Supreme Court. This grand larceny may well succeed. But for voters, this hearing should underscore the larger battle over the direction of the country.

Voters can’t weigh in on the Barrett nomination, but they can correct this country’s course.

Here’s the fundamental question: Will voters reward the party that is working to provide more health care, or the party that has painstakingly robbed one million children of insurance? Will voters help tug the United States forward, or will they support the backward thinkers who have been on the side of discrimination, racism, bigotry and voter suppression?

At the polls, which side of history will you stand on?

Letter To Republican Senator

What follows is the letter I wrote this morning to the republican senator from my state, Senator Rob Portman.  Feel free to amend and use as a template to send to your own senator, if you feel so inclined.


21 September 2020

Dear Senator Portman …

I am writing to you today to ask that you withhold your vote on the confirmation of any candidate for the Supreme Court between now and January 20th.  I’m sure you have received many such letters, as well as some by those who hold the opposite view, but please hear me out.

First, in February of 2016, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, when President Barack Obama nominated a very moderate judge, Merrick Garland, to fill Scalia’s seat, you stated in part …

“I have concluded that the best thing for the country is to trust the American people to weigh in and to have the confirmation process take place in a less partisan atmosphere. Awaiting the result of a democratic election, rather than having a nomination fight in this contentious election-year environment, will give the nominee more legitimacy …”

To change your mind about that now, when the country is even more divided than it was in 2016, is the ultimate hypocrisy and I must question your motives.  I know that Mitch McConnell is an unconscionable sycophant of Donald Trump, as are many of your other colleagues, but I always thought you were better than that.

Throughout your nine-year tenure as a U.S. Senator representing Ohio, I have seen you as a moderate, and while I disagree with you on some things, I was proud when you changed your mind and came out in support of same-sex marriage and voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.  Granted, I’ve been disappointed by your stance on climate change … too little too late … and other issues such as abortion, but overall you have always seemed one of the better republicans in Congress.

Now, however, you appear to be willing to compromise the integrity of the United States Supreme Court, and I must ask you why?  Do you not realize the implications of a court divided 6-3?  Do you not realize that not only will Roe v Wade be endangered, and thus women’s rights, but also Obergefell v Hodges, thus endangering the rights of the LGBT community?  Do you remember that the Court is supposed to provide checks and balances on the Executive branch, not simply rubber-stamp the president’s wishes?

I would like to remind you that you were elected to represent ALL the people of not only Ohio, but the United States.  Donald Trump appears to believe that he is obligated only to those who slavishly support him, but I would like to think you are a better man than he is.  Please remember that your constituency includes both democrats and republicans, as well as those like myself who are independent.  Your constituency includes people of all races, and people of every and no religion.  You do not solely answer to white, male, republicans, but to every man, woman and child, regardless of party affiliation, ethnicity or religion.

In closing, I ask you to seriously consider what I have said, seriously consider withholding your vote on Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, in order to give We the People an opportunity to have our voices heard.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, citizen, taxpayer, voter

Pandemic Of Stupidity

I’m not a fan of name-calling and don’t much like applying the term ‘stupid’ to people.  But there are times that no other word will fit, times when you just have to ‘call a spade a bloody shovel’, as my friend Mary says.  Of late, there seems to be a pandemic of stupidity in the United States.  A few examples …


louie-gohmertU.S. Congressman Louie Gohmert, a republican from Texas, has contracted the coronavirus.  Now, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise, for ol’ Louie has steadfastly refused to wear a face mask or observe the precautions that most of us are following.  Louie, though, doesn’t think he contracted the virus from breathing in other people’s germs, or from picking up the germ on some surface he may have touched.  Nope, ol’ Louie thinks he got the virus from … wait for it … wearing a mask!

“It’s really ironic because a lot of people have made a really big deal out of my not wearing a mask a whole lot, but in the last week or two, I have worn a mask more than I have in the whole last four months.  I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, if I might have put some germs, some of the virus on the mask and breathed it in.” 

Well, there’s a new one for the record books, eh?  But Louie’s stupidity doesn’t stop there.  On Wednesday morning, after being informed that he had tested positive for the virus, he returned to his Capitol Hill office and told staff he wanted to inform them ‘in person’ instead of them finding out from news reports.  WHAT … a phone call or an email wouldn’t have worked just as well?  And this man has a Juris Doctor degree from Baylor Law School and has held a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2005 – fifteen years!  How did he manage all that with so little intelligence?


vince-ginnThen there’s Vance Ginn, another Texan.  Vance is the chief economist for the Texas Public Policy Foundation.  In Texas, as in most states, minorities make up a disproportionate number of the deaths from the coronavirus, as do the elderly.  Mr. Ginn, citing the demographic data of the coronavirus deaths, tweeted this …

“Why not #openschools, end universal mandates, target vulnerable & check those from #Mexico?”

First of all, while the elderly may be more susceptible to the illness and more likely to die, and while the Hispanic population may not have access to the same level of medical care, therefore more likely to die, the total number of deaths also includes non-Hispanics and young people.  Second of all, is he saying, then, that Hispanics and the elderly are expendable?  And third, of course, is the fact that children bring the virus home to parents and elderly relatives such as grandparents.  Ginn has since taken the tweet down after a hue and cry, but … how do people as utterly stupid as him get into such high-level positions in the first place???


At the North Dakota state GOP convention earlier this month, Republican delegates voted on a package of 53 resolutions that “determine the group’s values and stances on various political and moral issues”.  Among them was Resolution 31 which advances the common Republican position that marriage should only be defined as a union between one man and one woman, but it also includes a rejection of any laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, often referred to as “SOGI.”

  • “SOGI bills grant protection to voyeurs who wish to prey on members of the opposite sex.”
  • “Research has shown that causes of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) compulsions are primarily developmental and not genetic as in color and gender.”
  • “SOGI laws empower those practicing LGBT behaviors to assume positions of mentorships of minors often over objections of parents, influencing their emotions and thereby recruiting for their lifestyles.”
  • “Many LGBT practices are unhealthy and dangerous, sometimes endangering or shortening life and sometimes infecting society at large.”

The final line of the resolutions says the party “opposes the passage of legislation which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to our Century code as protected classes.”

Party Chairman Rick Berg said Wednesday, July 22, that the resolution relates to an individual’s religious liberty and protecting business owners from lawsuits such as the Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission suit from 2017.  North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum issued a statement denouncing the resolution last Thursday …

“As I’ve long said, all North Dakotans deserve to be treated equally and live free of discrimination. There’s no place for the hurtful and divisive rhetoric in the NDGOP resolutions.”

Y’know, folks … the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and everyone in this nation has the right to choose what to believe, what, if any, religion to follow.  HOWEVERnobody has the right to impose their own religious beliefs on others.  Nobody has the right to insist on discriminatory laws based on their own religious values.  It is the same with abortion.  If you don’t wish to have an abortion or hang out with LGBT people, then fine … don’t.  But don’t shove your bigotry and narrow-mindedness down the throats of the rest of us who believe that everyone has a right to be who they are!