Time To Raise The Bar

The qualifications for becoming a U.S. senator are:

  • Must be at least 30 years of age
  • Must be a U.S. citizen for at least 9 years
  • Must reside in the state he/she would represent

The qualifications for becoming a U.S. representative are:

  • Must be at least 25 years of age
  • Must be a U.S. citizen for at least 7 years
  • Must reside in the state he/she would represent

You will notice there are no educational requirements, no IQ requirements, no need to prove competency or fitness for office.  Founding Father James Madison of Virginia wrote that …

“Under these reasonable limitations, the door of this part of the federal government is open to merit of every description, whether native or adoptive, whether young or old, and without regard to poverty or wealth, or to any particular profession of religious faith.”

Perhaps, knowing what we know today, we would write that a bit differently …

“Under these skimpy limitations, the door of this part of the federal government is open to every man or woman with or without intellect, with or without conscience, and with sufficient wealth to live in a manner far above those people he represents such that he or she will never understand their needs.”

Today, there are 249 Republicans in Congress, and of those, only 26 … barely 10% … are willing to acknowledge the proven fact that Joe Biden won the November election.  On Wednesday, Trump posted a 46-minute video Wednesday evening in which he wrongly claimed he had defeated Biden and leveled wild and unsubstantiated allegations of “corrupt forces” who stole the outcome from the sitting president.  The next day, The Washington Post surveyed all 249 Republicans in the House and Senate, and here are the results …

WaPo-chart

Click here for a full listing of how each senator or representative responded.

The silence is deafening, don’t you think?  The two who claim that Donald Trump actually won the election are Mo Brooks  from Alabama and Louie Gohmert  from Texas, both of whom have been on my radar in the past for their abominable actions as representatives in Congress.

In 1787, when the requirements for office were first written, few people had college educations, few had experience in government, so it made sense to set a low bar for those seeking office.  The goal was to elect people who cared about the country, who would work to make our government one that was “by the people, of the people, and for the people.”  But times have changed … dramatically!  The goal is still the same, but the means of achieving the goal have become far more complex than they were 233 years ago.  We have failed to keep up with the times in many ways, and today the requirements for office in both the executive and legislative branches are pitifully inadequate.

That so few members of the Republican Party are willing to put the best interests of the country ahead of their own is simply unconscionable and in my book is grounds for impeachment.  They certainly have the right to their own personal beliefs, but they have an obligation to uphold their oath of office, which they have long since abandoned.

The damage that is being done to our country by their refusal to accept the results of this election will last for decades.  In essence, they are saying that our election process is null and void, that you cannot trust it, and that our votes do not matter.  WHY are they doing this?  For their own self-interest.  Except for the nutcases like Brooks and Gohmert – both of whom should have been impeached long ago – the majority of those who are silent on the outcome of the election are afraid … afraid of Donald Trump.

Only a handful support Trump’s goal of overturning the election results, of silencing our voices, but the silence of the 200+ who refuse to admit Biden’s victory are complicit by their silence.  I’ve heard people say that the Democrats refused to accept Trump’s election in 2016, but the morning after media outlets called Trump the winner, Hillary Clinton conceded and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer spoke by phone with Trump. Schumer issued a statement shortly thereafter congratulating the president-elect and calling for Americans to “come together.”  A stark contrast to the GOP response today!

Largely because of the refusal to publicly acknowledge the election results, some 77% of the republican voters now believe that the election was ‘rigged’, was ‘stolen’ from Donald Trump, and that Joe Biden is not the legitimate winner.  We don’t know yet what results this will have on our society, but an intelligent person can guess.  Violence in the streets?  A refusal to abide by anything Biden says?  Increased racial violence?  Or worse?

ryan-mcconnellThere will be no dearth of long-term effects, as well.  The people of this nation, led by the assholes in Congress, are destroying themselves.  When asked about the election results, if he accepted Joe Biden as the President-elect, Mitch McConnell replied …

“The future will take care of itself.”

How profound … NOT!  McConnell is only the lead jackass, and the rest of the braying donkeys are following his lead.  Where they are leading this nation is not a good place.  Government exists for the people … all the people.  The majority of the people spoke loud and clear on November 3rd … we are tired of an autocrat calling the shots, disregarding our very lives, and we want a return to a government that works for us … ALL of us, not only those who are wealthy or powerful.  We expect our elected senators and representatives to REPRESENT us, not to disregard our voices and pander to a madman who is destroying this nation.

I plan to write a letter to the major newspapers in my state to voice my objection to the lack of conscience being exhibited by my elected officials.  I don’t know if it will do any good, but I have to try.  Meanwhile, I think it is time to revise the eligibility requirements for members of Congress, and while we’re at it, for the president … it’s time we raise the bar, for right now the bar is lying on the ground.

Is The GOP DOA?

I have long questioned how the Republican Party could have fallen so low that they licked the boots of the worst president in our history, how they could tolerate the likes of Mitch McConnell who point blank refuses to do anything that would be in the best interest of the people of this nation … you know, the ones who pay his salary.  For the past year or so, with republicans seemingly tied by invisible bonds to Trump even at his worst, I’ve thought that the GOP must surely be dooming itself.  Do you remember what GOP stood for back in the early days?  ‘Grand Old Party’ … today, there isn’t a damn thing ‘grand’ about them … the party has become one of big business and wealth, to the exclusion of ALL else, even our lives.

Bill Press has written a column that echoes my own thoughts about the future of the GOP – that it has none, that it has, basically flushed its reputation and future down the toilet.  Take a minute to read his column … let me know what you think.


Forget The Republican Party: It’s Dead

bill-press
By Bill Press

No institution lasts forever. They get too old, too big, too tired. Eventually, they outlive their usefulness and forget their original purpose. When that happens, the best thing you can do for them is pull the plug.

It’s time to pull the plug on the Republican Party. Because, let’s face it, the Republican Party we once knew — a credible political force that offered Americans a real alternative in the form of smaller government, lower taxes, and tighter fiscal policy — no longer exists.

Most readers of this column grew up, as I did, when Republicans were not the enemy. They were just friends and family we sometimes disagreed with. Take it from me. I’m a lifelong, yellow-dog Democrat, but my grandfather and father were both Republican mayors of our small town in Delaware. My brother David was the Republican energy adviser to the Republican Governor Pete DuPont of Delaware. I went on to become chief of staff to California Republican State Senator Peter Behr, whose major environmental legislation, the “Wild Rivers Bill,” was signed by Republican Governor Ronald Reagan.

At the national level, Republicans Bill Ruckelshaus and Russ Peterson were two of the earliest leaders of the conservation movement. Dwight Eisenhower established the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act.

But that Republican Party exists no more. Today’s Republican Party’s nothing but a cult. And, worse yet, a cult devoted to slavish worship of one of the most loathsome, disgusting, revolting creatures ever to walk on the world stage. There’s no Republican Party today, there’s only the Trump Party. It’s no longer (if it ever was) the party of Lincoln, it’s the party of Trump. Its slogan is no longer GOP, or “Grand Old Party,” but TUA, or “Trump Uber Alles.”

Many credit Donald Trump for taking over the Republican Party. They’re wrong. Trump didn’t take over the Republican Party. Starting with Newt Gingrich, Republicans paved the way for Trump: encouraging nonstop political warfare, rejecting bipartisan cooperation, embracing the most-extreme elements of the party — remember the “Tea Party?” — while ignoring their racist, white-supremacist roots. All they needed was for someone to come along and dare to say out loud what they secretly believed.

Enter Donald Trump: exactly what they were looking for. An outright racist. A man who didn’t really believe in governing, and would spend no time at it. An outsider whose goal was to tear things down, not get things done. A Napoleonic monster who viewed the presidency like dictatorships he loved around the world, where he, like Putin, Erdogan, or Kim Jung Un, could operate above the law.

And what did leaders of the old Republican Party do? They not only rolled over and totally surrendered to Trump, they continued to defend him as he trashed everything that they once, supposedly, believed in. They stood by Trump when he bragged about grabbing women by their genitals and paid a porn star $130,000 in hush money. They stood by Trump when he locked little children in cages and grabbed infants off the breasts of their mothers. They didn’t make a peep when Trump increased the national debt (which he had promised to eliminate) by $7 trillion.

Worse yet, in the face of the worst world public health crisis in our lifetime, Republicans stood by Trump as he downplayed the coronavirus pandemic, encouraged people to ignore advice of the CDC, staged his own superspreader events, and cavalierly ignored the deaths of almost 280,000 Americans so far.

And today they stand by Trump as he attacks the very core of our democracy: the sanctity of our right to vote and elect our own leaders. By refusing to accept the results of the election, attacking state election officials, filing frivolous lawsuits, and claiming our entire election process is rigged, Trump is attacking America. And he only gets away with it because today’s Republican leaders — Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and all the rest, cowards all — let him get away with it. History will not treat Donald Trump kindly, but it will be even more critical of his spineless enablers.

The Republican Party we once knew is dead, and it’s not coming back. Better to replace it with a new party that believes in America. Until then, I stand with H. L. Mencken: “In this world of sin and sorrow, there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.

Welcome to America, Where the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer

Yesterday, I wrote of my frustration with this nation’s apparent inability or unwillingness to unite — left vs right, Republican vs Democrat.  Today, Robert Reich’s column in The Guardian shows us that the divide is a calculated one, a manipulation by those with billions of dollars in their portfolio, aided and abetted by the GOP.  Reich proposes that the real division is the 1% vs 99% and that a middle ground no longer exists, nor can it.  Take a look …


Trump’s refusal to concede is just the latest gambit to please Republican donors

Robert Reich-4by Robert Reich

Millions who should be ranged against the American oligarchy are distracted and divided – just as their leaders want

Leave it to Trump and his Republican allies to spend more energy fighting non-existent voter fraud than containing a virus that has killed 244,000 Americans and counting.

The cost of this misplaced attention is incalculable. While Covid-19 surges to record levels, there’s still no national strategy for equipment, stay-at-home orders, mask mandates or disaster relief.

The other cost is found in the millions of Trump voters who are being led to believe the election was stolen and who will be a hostile force for years to come – making it harder to do much of anything the nation needs, including actions to contain the virus.

Trump is continuing this charade because it pulls money into his newly formed political action committee and allows him to assume the mantle of presumed presidential candidate for 2024, whether he intends to run or merely keep himself the center of attention.

Leading Republicans like the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, are going along with it because donors are refilling GOP coffers.

The biggest beneficiaries are the party’s biggest patrons – the billionaire class, including the heads of the nation’s largest corporations and financial institutions, private-equity partnerships and hedge funds – whom a deeply divided nation serves by giving them unfettered access to the economy’s gains.

Their heist started four decades ago. According to a recent Rand study, if America’s distribution of income had remained the same as it was in the three decades following the second world war, the bottom 90% would now be $47tn richer.

A low-income American earning $35,000 this year would be earning $61,000. A college-educated worker now earning $72,000 would be earning $120,000. Overall, the grotesque surge in inequality that began 40 years ago is costing the median American worker $42,000 per year.

The upward redistribution of $47tn wasn’t due to natural forces. It was contrived. As wealth accumulated at the top, so did political power to siphon off even more wealth and shaft everyone else.

Monopolies expanded because antitrust laws were neutered. Labor unions shriveled because corporations were allowed to bust unions. Wall Street was permitted to gamble with other people’s money and was bailed out when its bets soured even as millions lost their homes and savings. Taxes on the top were cut, tax loopholes widened.

When Covid-19 hit, big tech cornered the market, the rich traded on inside information and the Treasury and the Fed bailed out big corporations but let small businesses go under. Since March, billionaire wealth has soared while most of America has become poorer.

How could the oligarchy get away with this in a democracy where the bottom 90% have the votes? Because the bottom 90% are bitterly divided.

Long before Trump, the GOP suggested to white working-class voters that their real enemies were Black people, Latinos, immigrants, “coastal elites”, bureaucrats and “socialists”. Trump rode their anger and frustration into the White House with more explicit and incendiary messages. He’s still at it with his bonkers claim of a stolen election.

The oligarchy surely appreciates the Trump-GOP tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and the most business-friendly supreme court since the early 1930s. But the Trump-GOP’s biggest gift has been an electorate more fiercely split than ever.

Into this melee comes Joe Biden, who speaks of being “president of all Americans” and collaborating with the Republican party. But the GOP doesn’t want to collaborate. When Biden holds out an olive branch, McConnell and other Republican leaders will respond just as they did to Barack Obama – with more warfare, because that maintains their power and keeps the big money rolling in.

The president-elect aspires to find a moderate middle ground. This will be difficult because there’s no middle. The real divide is no longer left versus right but the bottom 90% versus the oligarchy.

Biden and the Democrats will better serve the nation by becoming the party of the bottom 90% – of the poor and the working middle class, of black and white and brown, and of all those who would be $47tn richer today had the oligarchy not taken over America.

This would require that Democrats abandon the fiction of political centrism and establish a countervailing force to the oligarchy – and, not incidentally, sever their own links to it.

They’d have to show white working-class voters how badly racism and xenophobia have hurt them as well as people of color. And change the Democratic narrative from kumbaya to economic and social justice.

Easy to say, hugely difficult to accomplish. But if today’s bizarre standoff in Washington is seen for what it really is, there’s no alternative.

CRAZY … They Are CRAZY!!!

Just a minute … {deep breath}  {another deep breath}  {a series of deep breaths} … okay, I think I’m fine now.  Sorry ‘bout that, folks … I was so mad that I think I forgot to breathe for a few minutes!  Okay, let me back up.  I have concluded that there is something fundamentally wrong with the brains, such as they are, of most republicans.  Yes, nearly half of them were so blind that they voted for Trump last week, but even that pales in comparison to what certain congressional republicans are up to.

First, they are pouring gasoline on Trump’s baseless claims about “massive voter fraud”.  Mitch McConnell is encouraging Trump, saying that he has every right to demand recounts and pursue litigation.  Well, he certainly has the right to ASK for recounts … I’m not crazy about that word “demand”, but in every state but one, I think, the margin by which Biden won is not likely to be altered by a recount enough to make a difference.  Does he have the right to file case after case of non-existent claims of voter fraud?  I think not. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars.  And all his little lawsuits are basically being thrown out of court at a laughable rate.  But what really set me off was …

In Georgia, the two republican senators who will face democratic challengers in runoff elections on January 5th, are calling for the head (resignation) of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, because his office said there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the state.  These two senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, have ‘demanded’ Raffensperger’s resignation … there’s that word again!  Is that all republicans know how to do … demand???  That explains a lot!  Kelly Loeffler, for the record, is not yet an elected senator, and she did not beat her opponent, Raphael Warnock, on November 3rd.  She was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp to replace Johnny Isakson, who retired in 2019. She lost her bid to retain the Senate seat on November 3rd to Warnock by a 7 point margin.  She is also the one, you may remember from previous posts, who is accused of insider trading, selling off stocks after being briefed on the coronavirus pandemic.  Fingers crossed for democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossof to beat the pants off of Perdue and Loeffler on January 5th!

loeffler-warnock

Kelly Loeffler / Raphael Warnock

Perdue & Loeffler claim there were “too many failures in Georgia elections this year” but offered not a single shred of evidence to back up their theory.  If, by some chance, both of these fools were to lose their runoff in January, then the Senate would be tied at 50 democrats and 50 republicans, and voting ties would be decided by Vice President Kamala Harris – this is why the congressional republicans are trying so hard – lying, cheating and stealing – to find some way to deny We the People our choice.  And I am furious about it.  DAMN IT, people, we voted and Joe Biden won fair and square.  Period.  Dot. 

Raffensperger hit back at the senators’ demand, saying he would not be resigning and calling the accusations of a lack of transparency “laughable.”

“I know emotions are running high, politics are involved in everything right now. If I was Senator Perdue, I’d be irritated I was in a runoff, and both Senators and I are all unhappy with the potential outcome for our President. But I am the duly elected Secretary of State. One of my duties involves helping to run elections for all Georgia voters. I have taken that oath, and I will execute that duty and follow Georgia law.”

WHOA … a decent Republican — one with integrity? Listen up, Mitchie, Lindsey, Matt, Rob, Susan, and all you other boot lickers.

The margin between Biden and Trump in Georgia was 11,413 votes, and thus far no winner has been called in Georgia either by the media or the state.  Doesn’t much matter in the sense that Joe Biden is ahead of Donald Trump even if Trump were to somehow win Georgia! 

Now, any normal human being would have, by now, accepted the results and be making plans to do their job to the best of their ability no matter who is president.  Any … ANY other president would have already called Joe Biden and congratulated him on his win.  That is the mark of a man.  Donald Trump is not one of those.  And think about it, folks.  Joe Biden didn’t just win the most electoral votes and the most popular votes … he did so despite numerous adversities and hurdles.  He did so in spite of an out-of-control pandemic that curtailed his ability to hold rallies and speak directly to people.  He did so in spite of Russian influence on social media and elsewhere.  He did so despite the blatant lies that Trump and other republicans made up about him and his family.  And still … he won.  He won, not because of millions of fake ballots, not because election officials threw away Trump ballots … he won because he is a good man, because he has plans for curtailing the pandemic, for taking care of the environment, for ending systemic racism in our police departments, for re-building our education system, and so much more.  He has plans to bring us together, to unify the people of this nation.  This, my friends, is how Joe Biden won – by being honest, by being a man of integrity and values, and by being both intelligent and compassionate, by caring for ALL the people in this country, not just those who swear an oath of fealty to him.

And now, it is time for Donald Trump and the rest of the republicans in Washington to put on their big boy undies, accept their losses, and move on in the fashion of professionals instead of schoolyard bullies.  This nation needs a chance to heal … it will be hard if we have to listen to the voices of fools who have a 7-year-old mentality.

Good Night

Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Matt Gaetz, Susan Collins, Joni Ernst and many other horrendous, conscienceless, corrupt members of Congress have been re-elected.  Worse yet, at this point it looks very much like Herr Trump will continue as the Dictator of the nation formerly known as the United States of America.  As of this writing, there are at least 65 million very stupid people in this country who have just signed the death warrant for the country and its 330 million inhabitants.  Thank you, assholes.

Filosofa is OVER and OUT.

The Pressure Builds.

A couple of days ago, our friend David wrote a piece on his blog, The Buthidars, about our upcoming (in 4 days!!!) election, the confirmation of Amy Barrett to the Supreme Court, and other current issues. Interestingly, his post coincided with the thoughts I was having about asking some of our non-U.S. readers for a guest post regarding their views on our election. Often I find that our readers from Canada, Australia, the UK and EU have a better perspective than we do about our situation. I shall start with David’s post this morning, and invite any and all from outside the U.S. to email me if you are interested in writing a guest post sharing your own views. Thank you, David, for sharing your views, and for allowing me to share them with my readers/friends.

The BUTHIDARS

In Wales we are under a Firebreak Lockdown. That’s new rules on top of the Lockdown I mentioned in my last post. It was set to last 17 days and if the Gods are smiling it should end on November 9th. That of course is going to depend on how bad the Coronavirus is in the areas that were spiking. one of which would appear to be mine. I certainly don’t mind about these rules for the sake of our health, after all I’m high risk in a high risk area and may not survive a bout with this illness. What both surprises me and annoys me in equal measure is the number of people who are happy to walk around without masks, If they want to infect themselves well and good, it’s their choice, but why take a chance on infecting me.

Another little niggle is that what they…

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Character Matters? Not to This GOP

The majority of people in this country, including republicans, felt the confirmation and swearing in of Amy Barrett was improper and inappropriate, that a nomination should have waited until after January 20th when we have a new (please, please, please …) president. The entire confirmation process was rushed through, and Barrett is not at all qualified for the position, never even having tried a case! She can never fill the shoes of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg … perhaps nobody can, but Barrett damn sure cannot. Our friend Jeff has put into words what I think the majority of us are feeling. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

Back during the Clinton years, all you heard from the Republican Party was how important character was for a president of the United States. Now, of course, you’ll never hear that word in any shape or form from the current Republican occupants in Congress. Gee, I wonder why?

It’s a trend that’s been going on for a while now. Embracing the current president as they’ve done for nearly four years shows that the party could give a rat’s you know what about character. They parked themselves squarely in Donald Trump’s orbit, rarely a whisper or a peep of discontent, other than the occasional “privately, many Senators are appalled at the president’s statements.” Privately?

Cowards – every damn one of them.

And while we’re speaking about character, how about we address a certain newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice by the name of Amy Comey Barrett? Can we please talk about her…

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ABOMINABLE!!!

The symbol for the Republican Party is the elephant, and for the Democratic Party is a donkey.  I think somebody got it wrong, for quite frankly every republican in the current administration and in Congress is a Grade-A Jackass, aka a donkey.  They wasted no time last night, not only confirming Amy Barrett to the United States Supreme Court, but also swearing her in right then and there.  The two most unconscionable moves that senate republicans have made this year were giving Donald Trump carte blanche to destroy lives when they failed to do their duty in February and refused to convict him at the end of the sham of an impeachment trial, and this, shoving through a closed-minded, religious freak on to the Supreme Court within short weeks of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.

I echo the words of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer …

“The American people will never forget this blatant act of bad faith. They will never forget your complete disregard for their voices, for the people standing in line right now voting their choice, not your choice.” 

He is absolutely correct … we will never forget what the following jackasses have done to us:

  1. Alexander, Lamar — Tennessee (retiring at the end of this term)
  2. Barrasso, John — Wyoming
  3. Blackburn, Marsha — Tennessee
  4. Blunt, Roy — Missouri
  5. Boozman, John — Arkansas
  6. Braun, Mike — Indiana
  7. Burr, Richard — North Carolina
  8. Capito, Shelley Moore — West Virginia
  9. Cassidy, Bill — Louisiana
  10. Collins, Susan M. — Maine
  11. Cornyn, John — Texas
  12. Cotton, Tom — Arkansas
  13. Cramer, Kevin — North Dakota
  14. Crapo, Mike — Idaho
  15. Cruz, Ted — Texas
  16. Daines, Steve — Montana
  17. Enzi, Michael B. — Wyoming (retiring at the end of this term)
  18. Ernst, Joni — Iowa
  19. Fischer, Deb — Nebraska
  20. Gardner, Cory — Colorado
  21. Graham, Lindsey — South Carolina
  22. Grassley, Chuck — Iowa
  23. Hawley, Josh — Missouri
  24. Hoeven, John — North Dakota
  25. Hyde-Smith, Cindy — Mississippi
  26. Inhofe, James M. — Oklahoma
  27. Johnson, Ron — Wisconsin
  28. Kennedy, John — Louisiana
  29. Lankford, James — Oklahoma
  30. Lee, Mike — Utah
  31. Loeffler, Kelly — Georgia
  32. McConnell, Mitch — Kentucky
  33. McSally, Martha — Arizona
  34. Moran, Jerry — Kansas
  35. Murkowski, Lisa — Alaska
  36. Paul, Rand — Kentucky
  37. Perdue, David — Georgia
  38. Portman, Rob — Ohio
  39. Risch, James E. — Idaho
  40. Roberts, Pat — Kansas (retiring at the end of this term)
  41. Romney, Mitt — Utah
  42. Rounds, Mike — South Dakota
  43. Rubio, Marco — Florida
  44. Sasse, Ben — Nebraska
  45. Scott, Rick — Florida
  46. Scott, Tim — South Carolina
  47. Shelby, Richard C. — Alabama
  48. Sullivan, Dan — Alaska
  49. Thune, John — South Dakota
  50. Tillis, Thom — North Carolina
  51. Toomey, Patrick J. — Pennsylvania
  52. Wicker, Roger F. — Mississippi
  53. Young, Todd — Indiana

The ones in (red) are up for re-election next week … VOTE THEM OUT!  Meanwhile, if you have ever voted for any of the above people, you should first write a letter of apology to We the People, then go bash your head against a concrete wall 50 times to see if you can knock some sense into it!

Yes, I’m angry … no, wait … not angry … FURIOUS!

The ignoble Mitch McConnell plainly stated that they did not act in the interests of We the People, nor did they act out of any sort of values or conscience … they acted only because they could, because they had the majority.  Oh, in case you’re interested, Susan Collins of Maine was the only republican to vote “nay”, but don’t give her too much credit, for she has licked Trump’s boots enough times in the past, and by her own admission, she wasn’t actually against Barrett’s confirmation, just against the way it had been ramrodded through against the will of the people of this nation, some 70+% of whom supported waiting and letting the next president nominate the justice who would try to fill the shoes of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Ms. Barrett damn sure cannot fill those shoes!

So, republicans … while we’ve all talked about working together to narrow the partisan divide in this country, you 53 people, and any who support a single one of these unconscionable asses, have just widened the gap even more … something I didn’t think possible.  I hold each and every one of these 53 people responsible for what happens in the future to our right to healthcare, to LGBT rights, and to women’s rights, for Ms. Barrett is against all of those and more.

Until tonight, I have had strong reservations about the next president adding justices to the court, but as of tonight, I do hope that Joe Biden adds a minimum of four more justices and nominates fair, impartial, honest justices, not narrow-minded bigots like Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and now Barrett.

Food For Thought …

Today it is likely that Amy Barrett will be confirmed by a majority in the U.S. Senate.  Unconscionable?  Yes, for many reasons, but nonetheless inevitable.  In yesterday’s edition of The Guardian, Robert Reich wrote about what needs to happen next, assuming that Joe Biden is the next president and that the democrats can keep a majority in the House and gain a majority in the Senate – once considered unlikely, but far more realistic today.


Trump assaulted American democracy – here’s how Democrats can save it

Amy Coney Barrett is heading for confirmation but supreme court and Senate reform is possible if Biden wins and acts fast

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

Barring a miracle, Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed on Monday as the ninth justice on the US supreme court.

This is a travesty of democracy.

The vote on Barrett’s confirmation will occur just eight days before election day. By contrast, the Senate didn’t even hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, who Barack Obama nominated almost a year before the end of his term. Majority leader Mitch McConnell argued at the time that any vote should wait “until we have a new president”.

Barrett was nominated by a president who lost the popular vote by nearly 3m ballots, and who was impeached by the House of Representatives. When Barrett joins the court, five of the nine justices will have been appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote.

The Republican senators who will vote for her represent 15 million fewer Americans than their Democratic colleagues.

Once on the high court, Barrett will join five other reactionaries who together will be able to declare laws unconstitutional, for perhaps a generation.

Barrett’s confirmation is the culmination of years in which a shrinking and increasingly conservative, rural and white segment of the US population has been imposing its will on the rest of America. They’ve been bankrolled by big business, seeking lower taxes and fewer regulations.

In the event Joe Biden becomes president on 20 January and both houses of Congress come under control of the Democrats, they can reverse this trend. It may be the last chance – both for the Democrats and, more importantly, for American democracy.

How?

For starters, increase the size of the supreme court. The constitution says nothing about the number of justices. The court changed size seven times in its first 80 years, from as few as five justices under John Adams to 10 under Abraham Lincoln.

Biden says if elected he’ll create a bipartisan commission to study a possible court overhaul “because it’s getting out of whack”. That’s fine, but he’ll need to move quickly. The window of opportunity could close by the 2022 midterm elections.

Second, abolish the Senate filibuster. Under current rules, 60 votes are needed to enact legislation. This means that if Democrats win a bare majority there, Republicans could block any new legislation Biden hopes to pass.

The filibuster could be ended with a rule change requiring 51 votes. There is growing support among Democrats for doing this if they gain that many seats. During the campaign, Biden acknowledged that the filibuster has become a negative force in government.

The filibuster is not in the constitution either.

The most ambitious structural reform would be to rebalance the Senate itself. For decades, rural states have been emptying as the US population has shifted to vast megalopolises. The result is a growing disparity in representation, especially of nonwhite voters.

For example, both California, with a population of 40 million, and Wyoming, whose population is 579,000, get two senators. If population trends continue, by 2040 some 40% of Americans will live in just five states, and half of America will be represented by 18 Senators, the other half by 82.

This distortion also skews the electoral college, because each state’s number of electors equals its total of senators and representatives. Hence, the recent presidents who have lost the popular vote.

This growing imbalance can be remedied by creating more states representing a larger majority of Americans. At the least, statehood should be granted to Washington DC. And given that one out of eight Americans now lives in California – whose economy, if it were a separate country, would be the ninth-largest in the world – why not split it into a North and South California?

The constitution is also silent on the number of states.

Those who recoil from structural reforms such as the three I’ve outlined warn that Republicans will retaliate when they return to power. That’s rubbish. Republicans have already altered the ground rules. In 2016, they failed to win a majority of votes cast for the House, Senate or the presidency, yet secured control of all three.

Barrett’s ascent is the latest illustration of how grotesque the power imbalance has become, and how it continues to entrench itself ever more deeply. If not reversed soon, it will be impossible to remedy.

What’s at stake is not partisan politics. It is representative government. If Democrats get the opportunity, they must redress this growing imbalance – for the sake of democracy.

Two Senators — Two Responses

You may remember that on September 21st, I wrote a letter to the republican senator for my state, Rob Portman, regarding Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat on the Supreme Court vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.   I also sent the letter to the other senator for my state, Sherrod Brown, a democrat.  I posted the response from Senator Portman on September 29th  and today I received a response from Senator Brown.  Compare the two letters and tell me which one seems to you to be more concerned about preserving the Constitution, the rights of We the People.  For the purpose of comparison, I have included both here …

Senator Brown’s response …

Dear Ms. Dennison:

Thank you for contacting me about President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The process of appointing a Supreme Court justice is designed to maintain the separation of powers and ensure that the nominee is highly qualified for a position on the nation’s highest court. The Senate should not be voting on a nominee to fill Justice Ginsburg’s vacant seat on the Supreme Court until after the presidential inauguration in 2021.

As our country faces a pandemic that has already killed 200,000 Americans, my top priority is keeping Americans healthy and safe – not packing the courts with judges that will side with corporations over workers and create a path to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the courts, kicking millions of Americans off of their health insurance. Instead of moving heaven and earth to rush through the confirmation process and install a justice that will put American’s health care and fundamental civil rights in danger, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should do their jobs to help Americans struggling amid a pandemic.

I am already deeply troubled by the recent trend of Supreme Court decisions that strip rights away from Ohioans, including workers, voters, and women, and I have serious concerns over Judge Barrett’s ability to apply the law fairly and impartially. That is why I voted against her confirmation to the United States’ Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in October 2017. During her past three years on the Seventh Circuit, Judge Barrett has issued a number of opinions that have done little to assuage these concerns. Working people need justices who will put their rights first, not justices who will side with insurance companies over cancer survivors, financial scammers over customers, or massive corporations over American workers. The Senate should take the time necessary to explore Judge Barrett’s views on these issues, not adhere to a political timeline in order to confirm a nominee to our nation’s highest court, weeks before a major election.

While the President has the responsibility to select and nominate a justice, the Constitution requires that the Senate provide advice and consent on all Supreme Court nominees. As a result, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate must conduct a comprehensive review of Judge Barrett’s background, record, and qualifications. I am concerned by Senator McConnell’s attempt to ram this nominee through the Senate confirmation process. His compressed timeline, tailored to fit a political agenda, is not adequate to ascertain Judge Barrett’s views or consider the factors relevant to her nomination.

Ohioans and millions of other Americans across the country are already voting, and they deserve to have a say on the court that will decide the fate of their health care, workplace safety, criminal justice reform, and civil rights. In a matter of weeks we will know who Americans have elected to serve as president, and that person, given a mandate by the American people, should have the opportunity to nominate the next Supreme Court justice.

I will not support any justice who would take rights away from Ohioans. Thank you again for reaching out to me.

                                                             Sincerely,

                                                             Sherrod Brown

                                                            United States Senator

It goes without saying that I agree with him.  And Senator Portman’s response …

Dear Jill,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter and the opportunity to respond.

As the second woman in history confirmed to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg served our country in this important role for 27 years. Her death on September 18, 2020 created a vacancy on the Court.  The U.S. Constitution provides that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint… Judges of the supreme Court.” Considering we are less than two months from a presidential election, there is controversy regarding whether the Senate should take up a nomination before the election.  The Senate’s historical precedent demonstrates that when the same party controls the presidency and the Senate and a vacancy arises during a presidential election year, the Senate almost always confirms a nominee.

In the more than two dozen vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court that have arisen during a presidential election year in our nation’s history, the sitting president made a nomination in every single case.  Leader McConnell has said that he will hold a vote on any nominee President Trump sends to the Senate, and I intend to fulfill my role as a U.S. Senator and judge that nominee based on his or her merits. The president was elected in 2016, in part, based on a commitment to nominate men and women to the judiciary who would fairly and impartially apply the law and protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, not advance public policy goals by legislating from the bench.  Likewise, in both 2016 and 2018, the American people have re-elected a Republican Senate majority to help President Trump fulfill that commitment.

In 2016, when the vacancy occurred following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, I said “the president has every right to nominate a Supreme Court justice … But the founders also gave the Senate the exclusive right to decide whether to move forward on that nominee.” Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposing-party president’s Supreme Court choice when the vacancy occurred in a presidential election year.  In contrast, when the presidency and the Senate are controlled by the same party – as it is today –the precedent is for the president’s nominees to get confirmed. In the occasions that a vacancy has occurred when the President and the Senate are of the same party in a presidential election year, the Senate has confirmed the nominee and filled the seat in every instance but one where there was a bipartisan ethics concern. I look forward to seeing who President Trump plans to nominate and thoroughly assessing his or her qualifications for this important role.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. For more information, I encourage you to visit my website at portman.senate.gov . Thank you, and please keep in touch.

Sincerely,

 Rob Portman

U.S. Senator

It also goes without saying that I considered this response to be a pile of crap … the Republican Party line, a load of b.s.  Not relevant, but I did find it interesting that Senator Brown addressed me as ‘Ms. Dennison’, a term of respect, while Portman addressed me as simply ‘Jill’ … more familiarity than he is, perhaps, entitled to under the circumstances.

And now, I shall finish preparing to watch tonight’s bloodbath, otherwise known as a presidential debate.  Wish me luck, please.