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.

How Versus Why–And Why It’s Important

The newest member of On the Fence Voters wrote a very thoughtful … and thought-provoking … post yesterday that I would like to share with you this afternoon. I hadn’t thought to categorize people in this way before, and I suspect that most people are some combination of these two, but what he says makes a lot of sense. Take a look …

On The Fence Voters

Keeping in mind the crucial caveat that there are exceptions to almost every rule, I will attempt to persuade those reading this missive that we can accurately place every human into one of two categories. Category one is made up of how people. Category two is made up of why people. How people tend to be doers; they accomplish beneficial tasks–or at least want to do so. Why people tend to be dreamers, thinkers. They might also accomplish beneficial tasks, but they are more likely to want to discover why those tasks the how people accomplish are beneficial.

How People

How people tend to be hard-working blue-collar folks. If they attended any college, it probably was a community college or a trade college. It’s likely that during their career-preparation years they had only marginal interest in subjects outside those that pertained to their chosen profession…

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Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Discord & Dissension Part I Intro

Discord & Dissension Part II (a) How Did We Get Here?

Discord & Dissension Part II (b) How Did We Get Here?

Discord & Dissension — Part III — Where Do We Go From Here?

Discord & Dissension Part IV(a) Voting & Voters

Discord & Dissension Part IV (b) Voting & Voters

Discord & Dissension Part IV (c) Voting & Voters

Discord & Dissension Part V Corruption

Discord & Dissension — Part VI — Disinformation

Discord & Dissension Part VII Engagement

Discord & Dissension — Part VIII — On The Issues

Discord & Dissension Part IX The Courts

Discord & Dissension — Part X — Bernie or Bust?

Discord & Dissension — Part XI — The Climate

Discord & Dissension – Part XII – Fight For The Senate

Discord & DissensionPart XIIIThe Administrative State

Discord & Dissension — Part XIV — How To Lose An Election

Discord & Dissension-A Pause

 

Be Better …

I did not plan nor want to write a post about the Red Hen.  Or about Kirstjen Nielsen or Sarah Huckabee Sanders and their restaurant choices.  It is ridiculous and a waste of my time and yours.  BUT … there is a bigger issue here and it is an important one:  R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I do not dislike Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for I do not know her.  Never met her, never had a conversation with her.  I do not like the fact that she perpetuates Donald Trump’s lies, I do not like her denigration of certain members of the press, and I think as far as the job she does as White House Press Secretary, she is without values.  That said, if I saw her eating in my favourite restaurant I would not harass her, would not so much as give her a sidelong glance.  I would either ignore her and leave her to eat in peace, or if I felt I could not do that, I would quietly leave and go elsewhere.  The same applies to Kirstjen Nielsen, Stephen Miller and any of the rest of Trump’s entourage.

U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California who is, like myself, passionate about causes and often outspoken, added fuel to the fire:

“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents.”

My baser instincts, the part of me that is sick and tired of this circus that surrounds Donald Trump, applauds Ms. Waters, but my head, my intellect, is screaming, “NO NO NO NO NO!!!”  This is not the path to bringing an end to the Trump regime, but only fans the flames that feed the frenzy of his supporters.  Not to mention Trump, whose ignominious response via Twitter was …

“Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!”

Never mind that Ms. Waters’ IQ is almost certainly far above Trump’s and never mind that she did not call for harm to anybody and did not even mention his supporters. And never mind, even, that no other president in the history of this nation has ever spoken in this manner in public. What his supporters and others will hear is what Trump said, even though it is not true.  This is not a time when people who slavishly follow Trump are seeking facts, but a time when they believe what comes from his mouth.  Period.

There are just over four months until the mid-term elections and if Democrats have any hope of taking a majority in either or both chambers of Congress, we … all of us … are going to have to act better.  The Republican Party, such as it is today, has very low standards of behaviour, but if Democrats lower themselves to those standards, I can guarantee you that all is lost.

Stephanie Wilkinson, the owner of the Red Hen restaurant who asked Ms. Sanders and her party of 7 others to leave, was wrong.  She did so in a respectful manner, and she did so with just cause, however she was still wrong.  I am appalled that the Supreme Court recently affirmed the rights of the baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.  If you have a business, you serve your customers … all your customers.  I would hold Ms. Wilkinson, though I understand her reasons, to the same standard.

Maxine Waters is also wrong, though again, there is a part of me that would love to applaud her words, but I cannot.  Nearly every day I sit with this baby Dell on my knee, writing about values, about humanitarianism, criticizing ‘the other side’ for their lack of values, for their vulgar speech & actions, for their intolerance of those who may be different than them or have different ideas.  So how can I condone or praise the actions of Maxine Waters or Stephanie Wilkinson when they are acting in the very manner I am railing against?

I have a confession of my own.  This morning, one of the people who mow and trim the lawns in my apartment complex chopped down our sunflowers with a weed whacker.  Every year since Miss Goose was about knee-high, she and I have taken joy in planting sunflowers in our tiny postage-stamp front yard.  We lovingly tend them and watch them grow, squeal with excitement when the first one shows its beautiful yellow face.  And in less than 10 seconds, they were gone.  My confession?  I flew out the door in a rage and forced myself to stop a few feet short of the worker, else I would have strangled him.  Through tears and with fury I called him every name that came to mind, and acted, in general, like a 2-year-old.  Then I came inside, sat down on the stairway and cried for 30 minutes.  I had every right to be angry, to be hurt, but I did not have the right to launch a venomous attack on the man who was only doing what he thought was his job.  It was not one of my prouder moments.

This is what the past two years have done to us all, but … we are better than this.  We must be better than this, else Donald Trump and his supporters will have the last laugh.  Hate the behaviours, the ideology, the attitudes if you will, but for the sake of this nation, for all of our sake’s, do not emulate them.  Rise above what you see on the news and in the streets every day.  Be better.

United We Stand … Divided We Fall

Donald Trump, it would appear, has decided to disavow the very Constitution that he swore to uphold a short 17 months ago.  He has decided to take the law into his own hands and do what he wants to do, deporting immigrants without either trial or appearance before a judge.  This is a direct violation of the Fifth Amendment that states, in part, “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”  Is Donald Trump above the law?  He obviously thinks he is.

“I don’t want judges. I want border security. I don’t want to try people. I don’t want people coming in. Do you know, if a person comes in and puts one foot on our ground, it’s essentially, ‘Welcome to America, welcome to our country’? You never get them out, because they take their name, they bring the name down, they file it, then they let the person go. They say, ‘Show back up to court in one year from now.’”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

Senator Elizabeth Warren visited a detention center where she had been told that separated migrant families were being reunited, but there was no evidence of that happening.  She spoke to nine immigrant mothers, none of whom even know where their children are, and only one of whom has been allowed to speak to her child.

Stepping up onto my soapbox …

Donald Trump does not own this nation and does not make law.  Laws are made by Congress, the legislative branch of the government.  There is a Constitution that provides the framework for laws and every member of Congress, as well as the president, has sworn to uphold that Constitution.  To those who still support Donald Trump, I say this:

I understand that you were caught up in the frenzy of the campaign two years ago, and I understand how you bought into his fear-mongering rhetoric. I hold none of that against you.  But you have now had 17 months of lies, of failure, on which to judge him, and surely you must find that he is lacking in every area.  If you approve of his tax cuts, so be it … you will wake one day and realize that you have less money in your possession than you had a year ago, and you will be in the same boat as all of us, so get over it.  If you approve of his reversal of environmental protections that were intended to try to stop the destruction of the air we breathe and the water we drink, that is on you, also, and I hope you enjoy the 100-degree temperatures with 90% humidity next week.  But you cannot possibly approve of the man you elected subverting the rule of law, destroying families, and sending some people to an almost-certain death simply because it is what he wants.

The two most shameful, anti-humanitarian, and embarrassing things this nation had done in the past, aside from slavery, were the internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent during World War II, and turning away thousands of Jewish refugees during the same war.  There is nothing we can do but hang our heads in shame, for we cannot bring back the lost years or the lives we cost those people.  What Donald Trump is doing today is worse than the Japanese internment camps, and every bit as bad as turning away the Jewish refugees.  Have we, in fact, learned not one damned thing from history?  Are we as shallow, narrow-minded and greedy as our ancestors?

How, today, can one single woman who has children of her own support a ‘man’, and yes I do use that term loosely, who would separate 3,000 children from their parents simply because it is what he wants?  Republican, Democrat, Christian, Atheist, White, Black, Male, Female, Straight, Gay … it matters not.  We are all, before religion, before gender, before race, before party affiliation … we are human beings.  We care about one another, regardless of where we come from, what religion or lack thereof, what our politics.  Or at least I thought we did, but today I have to wonder.  Animals in the wild treat each other better than the people of this nation are treating their fellow humans.

Somehow we must find a way to stop this madness before it is too late.  If Donald Trump is allowed to take the law into his own hands, to disavow the Constitution, to deport asylum seekers without due process of law, then we will have slammed the door on the Constitution, on democracy, and on all rights and freedoms we once thought we had.  Our fate is intermingled with that of those migrants being detained at the southern border.  If they lose, then so do we.

This is a nation of immigrants.  You, me, every single person reading these words is here because somewhere in the past our ancestors were welcomed to this country, were given an opportunity to live in a land where our opinions mattered, our voices were heard.  Donald Trump’s grandparents were allowed to come here from Germany.  Mine from Spain and Wales and Germany.  And together our ancestors helped make this nation what it was until 17 months ago when a madman entered the White House.

We the People can only do so much, but we must all be on board.  Yes, even those of you who voted for Trump must wake up and realize that he is not what you believed him to be.  United we stand, divided we fall.  Those are the words of founding father John Dickinson in his pre-Revolutionary War song “The Liberty Song”, first published in the Boston Gazette in July 1768. In the song Dickinson wrote: “Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!”  Truer words have never been spoken, and they are as relevant today as they were in 1768.

Stepping down off my soapbox now … G’day my friends.