Grim SCOTUS

Most religious groups are no doubt applauding the latest Supreme Court ruling, but when you dissect it, the ruling is actually one of the biggest blows to religious freedom in the history of this nation. Clay Jones of Claytoonz has an excellent cartoon and accompanying commentary on the SCOTUS ruling …

claytoonz

cjones11292020

The biggest takeaway from the Supreme Court’s ruling that churches in New York can remain open, because placing restrictions on them is infringing upon their Constitutionally-protected religious freedom, is where the court will be years from now.

The court ruled on similar cases just a few months ago, and ruled 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberals, that the government can place restrictions on churches. On Wednesday night, it was another 5-4 ruling, this time in favor of the churches and again, with Roberts joining the liberals.

The big takeaway here is that Amy Coney Barrett was the vote putting it over the top. The last time the court voted on this, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was on the court and actually understood the case.

The argument here is that New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, was being harder on churches than places like retail businesses. But the thing is…

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America’s Wake Up Call — Will Democrats Finally Take the Courts Seriously?

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, the Notorious RGB dies and now we have yet another reason that the upcoming elections are the most relevant, most critical, and most chaotic in the history of the U.S.

For this segment of mine and Jeff’s project to inform our readers about the various aspects and issues of the election, Jeff has addressed the situation regarding the Courts, the Judicial branch of our government.


Will Democrats Finally Take the Courts Seriously?

Posted by Brookingslib

In March, as part of myself and Jill’s project to help get out the vote in 2020, I warned about impending doom as it pertains to the courts in America. I highly recommend you read that particular post because it lays out all of the issues we’ll be facing in the coming months. Decisions await in many areas of concern, including the viability of the Affordable Care Act, Roe V Wade, and climate change.

Unfortunately, now we must deal with something I was hoping would not come to fruition. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Notorious RBG as she came to be known, passed away almost two weeks ago, after a long and gallant fight with pancreatic cancer.

Our worst nightmare is now upon us. The current president is again upending the norms and precedents exhibited by previous presidents by nominating Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she will replace one of the most legendary and magnificent legal minds we’ve ever seen – not even five weeks before the American people are about to make their choice for president.

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Lindsey’s Looming Loss: A Lesson on Loyalties

Whatever traits Lindsey Graham may possess, character, integrity and honesty are NOT among them. Our friend Jerry over at On the Fence Voters compares him to a ‘remora’, sometimes known as a suckerfish, and the comparison is apt, as Jerry will show us. Thanks, Jerry, for this spot-on post!

On The Fence Voters

Poor Lindsey Graham; he’s facing a legitimate—and downright tough—challenge for his seat in the U.S. Senate. The Republican senior senator from South Carolina recently bemoaned on a Fox News interview, “I’m being killed financially. This money is because they hate my guts.”

Graham’s Democratic opponent, Jaime Harrison, has raised $3.5 million in campaign support.

Why might Graham, a three-term senator, be facing this unfamiliar uphill battle? Why do so many South Carolinians hate his guts?

Loyalty: The Absent Attribute

Graham is a conservative in a solidly conservative state; he should cruise to victory. In 2002 he gained the senate seat by a 10-point margin, then he won by a nearly 16-point margin in 2008, and by 10 points again in 2014. Yet, in this crucial election cycle, polls show Graham tied with Harrison, his Democratic rival. What happened? Might Graham’s slide be tied to his gross miscalculations on the character…

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Two great talents, two big hearts pass away

Our friend Keith pays tribute to two ‘good people’, people who had hearts of gold and left an everlasting legacy to this world. Thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

Rightfully so, the passing of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a huge loss for our country. Her diminutive stature belied the large intellect and courage to fight battles, first for herself, and then for women and the disenfranchised.

There are several stories whose theme is around the only woman in the room, be it the first female rocket scientist, Mary Sherman Morgan, or the first black female NASA mathematician, Katherine G. Johnson. Ginsburg was often one of only a scant few women in the room, be it Harvard or Columbia law schools or when she first joined the Supreme Court following Sandra Day O’Connor. Being told you do not belong, either directly or implicitly, requires a courageous heart.

Ginsburg was unable to get a job with a law firm since she was a female and a mother. Her husband, Marty was quickly able to gain employment as…

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Well, what do you plan to do about it? – you must VOTE

Once again, our friend Keith is spot-on in his assessment of the current situation regarding the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Far too many of those who are crying ‘foul’ helped bring about this situation by their failure to vote in 2016. Thank you, Keith, for your wisdom and for reminding us how very important our right to vote is.

musingsofanoldfart

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a hero to many, especially women and the disenfranchised. Her career must be celebrated. Like Thurgood Marshall before her, her record of success in arguing cases before the Supreme Court, justified her inclusion in this institution. She served America well.

As for the indicting language directed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over holding a vetting process and vote of a new SCOTUS nominee before the election, this is the normative process. Yet, we must also understand when McConnell conducted his treachery. It was in 2016 when he chose to not follow normal process to vet and vote on a pretty well respected candidate named Merrick Garland, who won near unanimous consent for his current position. When a politician does not follow normal process, take it to the bank it is political. And, McConnell cannot go to the bathroom without it being political.

Now, we are…

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A Matter of Principles

Today, while the nation mourns the death of one of the most consequential figures on the Supreme Court in modern times, other forces are working to further decimate the democratic processes and take this nation another step closer to an autocracy.  Robert Reich, as always, sums it up well.


Rushing to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, McConnell shows power trumps principle

The justice who died on Friday night stood for the integrity of democracy. The Senate leader stands only for Republican gains

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

People in public life tend to fall into one of two broad categories – those motivated by principle, and those motivated by power.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday night at the age of 87, exemplified the first.

When he nominated her in 1993, Bill Clinton called her “the Thurgood Marshall of gender-equality law”, comparing her advocacy and lower-court rulings in pursuit of equal rights for women to the work of the great jurist who advanced the cause of equal rights for Black people. Ginsburg persuaded the Supreme Court that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection applied not only to racial discrimination, but to sex discrimination as well.

For Ginsburg, principle was everything – not only equal rights, but also the integrity of democracy. Always concerned about the consequences of her actions for the system as a whole, she advised young people “to fight for the things you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you”.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, exemplifies the second category. He couldn’t care less about principle. He is motivated entirely by the pursuit of power.

McConnell refused to allow the Senate to vote on Barack Obama’s nominee to the supreme court, Merrick Garland, in February 2016 – almost a year before the end of Obama’s second term – on the dubious grounds that the “vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president”.

McConnell’s move was a pure power grab. No Senate leader had ever before asserted the right to block a vote on a president’s nominee to the supreme court.

McConnell’s “principle” of waiting for a new president disappeared on Friday evening, after Ginsburg’s death was announced.

Just weeks before one of the most consequential presidential elections in American history, when absentee voting has already begun in many states (and will start in McConnell’s own state of Kentucky in 25 days), McConnell announced: “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

This is, after all, the same Mitch McConnell who, soon after Trump was elected, ended the age-old requirement that supreme court nominees receive 60 votes to end debate and allow for a confirmation vote, and then, days later, pushed through Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

Ginsburg and McConnell represent the opposite poles of public service today. The distinction doesn’t depend on whether someone is a jurist or legislator (I’ve known many lawmakers who cared more about principle than power, such as the late congressman John Lewis). It depends on values.

Ginsburg refused to play power politics. As she passed her 80th birthday, near the start of Obama’s second term, she dismissed calls for her to retire in order to give Obama plenty of time to name her replacement, saying she planned to stay “as long as I can do the job full steam”, adding: “There will be a president after this one, and I’m hopeful that that president will be a fine president.”

She hoped others would also live by principle, including McConnell and Trump. Just days before her death she said: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Her wish will not be honored.

If McConnell cannot muster the Senate votes needed to confirm Trump’s nominee before the election, he’ll probably try to fill the vacancy in the lame-duck session after the election. He’s that shameless.

Not even with Joe Biden president and control over both the House and Senate can Democrats do anything about this – except, perhaps, by playing power politics themselves: expanding the size of the court or restructuring it so justices on any given case are drawn from a pool of appellate judges.

The deeper question is which will prevail in public life: McConnell’s power politics or Ginsburg’s dedication to principle?

The problem for America, as for many other democracies at this point in history, is this is not an even match. Those who fight for power will bend or break rules to give themselves every advantage. Those who fight for principle are at an inherent disadvantage because bending or breaking rules undermines the very ideals they seek to uphold.

Over time, the unbridled pursuit of power wears down democratic institutions, erodes public trust and breeds the sort of cynicism that invites despotism.

The only bulwark is a public that holds power accountable – demanding stronger guardrails against its abuses, and voting power-mongers out of office.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg often referred to Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous quote, that “the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people”.

Indeed.

May we honor her legacy with action.

A Sad Day … R.I.P. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Tonight, people all across the nation are broken-hearted over the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  No, it wasn’t unexpected, but still it was a shock.  When I received the first notification on my phone shortly after 7:30, I felt the tears immediately welling, as I’m sure many others did.RBG-1I wish that I could simply write a tribute to Justice Ginsburg without bringing politics into it, but unfortunately that is not possible.  Still, let me take a few minutes to tell you a few things you may not know about RBG as she is affectionately known.

Rejected after law school for a Supreme Court clerkship because she was a woman, she began her legal career as a law professor and pioneering advocate for women’s legal rights.  She got her first teaching position at Rutgers University, where she was paid less than her male counterparts because her husband already had a well-paying job.

Ginsburg went on to a number of other roles in academia, and worked to develop programs to strengthen legal protections for women. She’s credited with making significant advancements for women under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

Former President Carter nominated Ginsburg to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980, where she served until former President Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court in 1993.  She was confirmed by a Senate vote of 96-3.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said that she wanted to be remembered “as someone who did whatever she could, with whatever limited talent she had, to move society along in the direction I would like it to be for my children and grandchildren.”  I think there can be no doubt that she will be remembered as such, and more.  In some ways, this tiny woman stood taller than many of her colleagues. rbg-4Justice Ginsburg has long been an advocate for justice, for women’s rights, human rights, civil rights and has weighed in on some of the most important cases during her tenure.  At another time, I will write about some of these, and how important Justice Ginsburg has been to the development of this nation in the 20th and 21st centuries.  But for today, I must unfortunately discuss the potential ramifications of Justice Ginsburg’s death just 46 days before what will arguably be the most consequential election of our lifetime.

You will remember February 13th 2016 when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died.  With nine months left until the presidential election, President Barack Obama nominated a moderate, Merrick Garland, to fill the seat left vacant by Scalia’s death.  However, the Senate, as directed by none other than the unconscionable Mitch McConnell, refused to even interview Garland, let alone hold a confirmation hearing.  Why?  Well, according to Texas Senator Ted Cruz …

“It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”

Within hours of Scalia’s death, McConnell released the following statement:

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.  Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

And yet, tonight, within an hour … a single hour after the news that Justice Ginsburg had died, McConnell said …

“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Amazing how in just four short years he has completely changed his opinion, isn’t it?

Now, we all know that if Trump is allowed to place yet another Justice on the Supreme Court, justice in this nation will become a thing of the past for at least two decades, for it will leave the court heavily weighted in favour of those justices who tend to have conservative ideologies that believe women and minorities do not deserve the same rights as white men.  Plain and simple.  Call a spade a bloody shovel.

But there’s something even more ominous, I think. Consider this tweet I saw tonight from Robert Reich …

“GOP now arguing Senate must replace Ginsburg now because if the election is litigated, just 8 justices risks a deadlock, and constitutional crisis. Rubbish. Giving a last-minute Trump appointee power to decide whether Trump is the next president would be a constitutional crisis.”

Remember Bush vs Gore back in 2000?  A short refresher for those who may not remember.

On November 8, 2000, the Florida Division of Elections reported that Bush won with 48.8% of the vote in Florida, a margin of victory of 1,784 votes. The margin of victory was less than 0.5% of the votes cast, so a statutorily-mandated automatic machine recount occurred. On November 10, with the machine recount finished in all but one county, Bush’s margin of victory had decreased to 327.  Florida’s election laws allow a candidate to request a county to conduct a manual recount, and Gore requested manual recounts in four Florida counties. The four counties granted the request and began manual recounts. However, Florida law also required all counties to certify their election returns to the Florida Secretary of State within seven days of the election, and several of the counties conducting manual recounts did not believe they could meet this deadline.  Long story short, after much back-and-forth between the Florida Secretary of State, the counties, and ultimately the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court ruled in George W. Bush’ favour in an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia.

Now fast-forward to November 4th, the day after the election.  Assume that Joe Biden has acquired the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election, but not by any major landslide.  A difference in just one swing state might change the results.  Trump has been screeching about “voter fraud” (a figment of his imagination) for months now and has already broken the law by nearly shutting down the United States Postal Service, making mail-in voting less attractive to many.  Imagine if he disputes the vote, demands a recount, and for one reason or another it is left to the Supreme Court to decide.  What if Trump has just appointed another boot-licker like Brett Kavanaugh?  Can you guess the outcome?  I can, and it will no doubt keep me awake tonight.

The nation will miss Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  She spent her life powerfully and effectively advocating for America to make good on its promise of equality and opportunity for all.  Rest in Peace, Ruth Bader Ginsburg – you have earned it.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 7/18

And to end the day with a bit of humour, I bring you TokyoSand’s excellent selection of political cartoons from last week! Thank you, TS!!!

Political⚡Charge

ByJack Ohman, The Sacramento Bee

Every week, I enjoy searching for editorial cartoons responding to the news and sharing them with you on Saturdays. This week, there are some recurring themes plus some new ones.

Let me know which ones resonate the most with you in the comments!

Rest in Power, John Lewis

ByAndy Marlette, Pensacola News Journal

Back to School?

ByBill Bramhall, New York Daily News

ByMike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ByAndy Marlette, Pensacola News Journal

By Walt Handelsman,The Advocate

COVID

ByMonte Wolverton

ByMatt Davies, Newsday

ByGraeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator

ByBill Bramhall, New York Daily News

ByKevin Siers, Charlotte Observer

ByAnn Telnaes, Washington Post

ByPat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

Goya

ByBill Bramhall, New York Daily News

ByLalo Alcaraz

ByRick McKee,

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More Snarky Snippets

The headline catches my eye …

Fox News: The Arrest Of Roger Stone Was Worse Than Benghazi

I ponder … dig through my dusty memory bank.  As I recall, there were a number of fatalities during the attack on the American diplomatic compound and the CIA annex, four of them U.S. citizens. And I seem to remember 11 non-fatal injuries, again four of them U.S. citizens, the rest Libyan.  So … were people killed when FBI agents pounded on Mr. Stone’s door, yelling, “Open up … FBI!”?  Who died?  I hadn’t heard that there were deaths and injuries, had you? fox-stone-raid

I read the article …thearticleI really liked both of the comments. Look, Fox people, Roger Stone is far from an innocent citizen peacefully minding his own business.  He is into the Trump-Russia scandal so deep that I’m surprised he can still breathe.  Stone has been a piece of trash for decades.  For once, he got a taste of what he deserves.  Enough said. Grow up and knock off with the Benghazi comparison, for there simply isn’t one.


Now, remember I cautioned you yesterday that while we are watching that giant Trump-a-ganza of a circus complete with clowns and elephants, there are things going on that we should be aware of?  Well, here is one of those things …

Trump plan to reclassify nuclear waste alarms environmental groups

The Trump administration wants to reclassify some radioactive waste left from the production of nuclear weapons to lower its threat level and make disposal cheaper and easier. The proposal by the U.S. Department of Energy would lower the status of some high-level radioactive waste in several places around the nation, including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state — the most contaminated nuclear site in the country. Reclassifying the material to low-level could save the agency billions of dollars and decades of work by essentially leaving the material in the ground, critics say. – Associated Press, 10 December 2018

hanfordsiteFacilities which would be affected include the country’s most highly contaminated: the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, which takes up an area half the size of Rhode Island. Opened in 1943, the site produced the plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945, according to its website. The production of nuclear materials carried on until 1987, leaving behind waste that threatened the local environment, prompting the state and federal authorities — including the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — to pledge in 1987 to clean up the site, without success.

Other facilities mentioned in the plans are the Savannah River Plant, South Carolina and the Idaho National Laboratory, according to the Associated Press.  Oh … and speaking of the Savannah River site …

US secretly shipped plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada

WTF???  According to the AP report …

The U.S. Department of Energy revealed on Wednesday that it secretly shipped weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to a nuclear security site in Nevada months ago despite the state’s protests.

The Justice Department notified a federal judge in Reno that the government trucked in the radioactive material to store at the site 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Las Vegas before Nevada first asked a court to block the move in November.

Department lawyers said in a nine-page filing that the previously classified information about the shipment from South Carolina can be disclosed now because enough time has passed to protect national security. They didn’t specify when the one-half metric ton of plutonium was transferred.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said he’s “beyond outraged by this completely unacceptable deception.” He announced at a hastily called news conference in Carson City late Wednesday the state is now seeking another court order to block any more shipments of plutonium as it pursues “any and all legal remedies,” including contempt of court orders against the federal government.

Secretary of Energy … Rick Perry … the same Rick Perry who, back in 2017, said that increased use of fossil fuels will lead to a reduction in sexual assaults.  Save a buck at the potential cost of ours and future generations lives.  What could possibly go wrong?


Here we go again …

Last week, the Trump administration announced it will allow a ministry in South Carolina that only works with heterosexual Christian families to participate in a federally funded foster care program.

That means Miracle Hill Ministries can receive federal funding to participate in the program while discriminating against non-Christians, as well as the LGBT community.

WTF???  When did it become okay for a religious organization to receive federal funds?  And when did it become okay to discriminate???

The organization was in violation of a regulation issued by the Obama administration that states organizations receiving funds from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can’t discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.

But Trump’s HHS, under Secretary Alex Azar, issued an exemption for the ministry to participate in the program, writing that to force it out would be a violation of its religious freedom.  No, no it would not be a violation at all of its religious freedom, but it is a violation of the concept of separation of church and state to allow this bigoted religious organization to collect federal funding.  Period.  What is so damn hard to understand about that concept?


From the ‘You’ve Got To Be Kidding?’ Annals …

You remember Sebastian Gorka, right?  He served briefly as an ‘advisor’ to Trump in 2017, until his connections to an anti-Semitic group in Hungary became known.  He’s never quite gone away though, and is now a contributor to Fox News.  His latest …gorka-rbg

First of all, Gorky, Ruth Bader Ginsburg does NOT ‘have to’ attend the State of the Union address.  If you will look back to last year, she did not attend the State of the Union address then, for she was in Rhode Island for a late-morning “fireside chat” at Roger Williams University’s law school before speaking at a temple in Providence later that evening.  There is no ‘requirement’ that anybody attend!  And second of all, YOU cannot even spell her name right!

But there’s even more.  Remember that fringe group, Q-Anon?  They have put forth the conspiracy theory that RBG is hiding a secret illness, or she is dead.  FOR PETE’S SAKE — do these fools have nothing better to do than sit around and think up fairy tales???  Couldn’t they, perhaps, do something useful to contribute to this world?


Well, now that I’ve got all that out of my system, I’m going to bed.  G’day, my friends!