A ‘Statement Of Concern’

The actions of Republican state legislators to curtail absentee voting, limit days for early voting and seize control of local election boards have prompted 188 scholars to sign a “Statement of Concern: The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards.” 

Their words are wise and prophetic …


Statement of Concern

The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards

STATEMENT

June 1, 2021

We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm. Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk.

When democracy breaks down, it typically takes many years, often decades, to reverse the downward spiral. In the process, violence and corruption typically flourish, and talent and wealth flee to more stable countries, undermining national prosperity. It is not just our venerated institutions and norms that are at risk—it is our future national standing, strength, and ability to compete globally.

Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations should Democrats win more votes. They are seeking to restrict access to the ballot, the most basic principle underlying the right of all adult American citizens to participate in our democracy. They are also putting in place criminal sentences and fines meant to intimidate and scare away poll workers and nonpartisan administrators. State legislatures have advanced initiatives that curtail voting methods now preferred by Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as early voting and mail voting. Republican lawmakers have openly talked about ensuring the “purity” and “quality” of the vote, echoing arguments widely used across the Jim Crow South as reasons for restricting the Black vote.

State legislators supporting these changes have cited the urgency of “electoral integrity” and the need to ensure that elections are secure and free of fraud. But by multiple expert judgments, the 2020 election was extremely secure and free of fraud. The reason that Republican voters have concerns is because many Republican officials, led by former President Donald Trump, have manufactured false claims of fraud, claims that have been repeatedly rejected by courts of law, and which Trump’s own lawyers have acknowledged were mere speculation when they testified about them before judges.

In future elections, these laws politicizing the administration and certification of elections could enable some state legislatures or partisan election officials to do what they failed to do in 2020: reverse the outcome of a free and fair election. Further, these laws could entrench extended minority rule, violating the basic and longstanding democratic principle that parties that get the most votes should win elections.

Democracy rests on certain elemental institutional and normative conditions. Elections must be neutrally and fairly administered. They must be free of manipulation. Every citizen who is qualified must have an equal right to vote, unhindered by obstruction. And when they lose elections, political parties and their candidates and supporters must be willing to accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome. The refusal of prominent Republicans to accept the outcome of the 2020 election, and the anti-democratic laws adopted (or approaching adoption) in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Texas—and under serious consideration in other Republican-controlled states—violate these principles. More profoundly, these actions call into question whether the United States will remain a democracy. As scholars of democracy, we condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms as a betrayal of our precious democratic heritage.

The most effective remedy for these anti-democratic laws at the state level is federal action to protect equal access of all citizens to the ballot and to guarantee free and fair elections. Just as it ultimately took federal voting rights law to put an end to state-led voter suppression laws throughout the South, so federal law must once again ensure that American citizens’ voting rights do not depend on which party or faction happens to be dominant in their state legislature, and that votes are cast and counted equally, regardless of the state or jurisdiction in which a citizen happens to live. This is widely recognized as a fundamental principle of electoral integrity in democracies around the world.

A new voting rights law (such as that proposed in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act) is essential but alone is not enough. True electoral integrity demands a comprehensive set of national standards that ensure the sanctity and independence of election administration, guarantee that all voters can freely exercise their right to vote, prevent partisan gerrymandering from giving dominant parties in the states an unfair advantage in the process of drawing congressional districts, and regulate ethics and money in politics.

It is always far better for major democracy reforms to be bipartisan, to give change the broadest possible legitimacy. However, in the current hyper-polarized political context such broad bipartisan support is sadly lacking. Elected Republican leaders have had numerous opportunities to repudiate Trump and his “Stop the Steal” crusade, which led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Each time, they have sidestepped the truth and enabled the lie to spread.

We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.

Full list of signatories

A Brother’s response to Sen Manchin’s OpEd

I read Senator Joe Manchin’s OpEd in the Charleston Gazette-Mail and, like our friend Brosephus, under ordinary circumstances I would have agreed with most of what he said. However, these are anything but normal circumstances and even more so for Black people who are once again in danger of losing their rights. Please take a minute to read Brosephus’ post and think about what he says — it’s important! Thank you, Brosephus!

The Mind of Brosephus

Sen. Joe Manchin, I read your Op-Ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, and I have a few questions for you. You are well within your rights and responsibilities as a member of the Senate representing West Virginia with your concerns over the filibuster. In a perfect world, I think your arguments would have merit. In case you haven’t been paying attention for the past decade or so, we don’t live in a perfect world. In fact, Black Americans have never been within an Apollo rocket shot reach of a perfect world in America.

You may or may not be aware of the particular struggles of Black Americans, but I can assure you life here for us is no Saturday morning picnic. Our right to vote in America was enshrined into the Constitution in 1870 by the Fifteenth Amendment. It wasn’t until the passage of the Civil Rights Act…

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The Week’s Best Cartoons 6/5

One thing I love about Saturdays is the collection of the week’s best political/editorial cartoons that our friend TokyoSand publishes weekly.  This week’s topics range from Pride Month to the ignominious senate filibuster to racism to the current state of freedom in the U.S. to the killing of the January 6 commission and more.  Thank you, TS, for this great collection!


Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons over at Political Charge!

The Week’s Best Cartoons 5/29

Naturally the main topic of this week’s editorial cartoons was the Republican filibuster that put the brakes on the much-needed investigation into the origins and events of January 6th.  As I have said previously, those who voted to kill this bill must have had some role in the attack, something they are desperate to hide.  The cartoonists had a field day with this one!  There was other news, however, such as mass shootings, the new Texas open-carry law that allows any fool to carry a gun without even having to register it or pass a background check, the ‘Matt Gaetz-Margie Greene show, and more.  And so, as she does every week, our friend TokyoSand has searched the world over and found for us the best of the lot!  Thank you, TS!

Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons over at Political Charge!

Remember These Names!

Yesterday, the following 44 republicans and two democrats flipped us the proverbial bird …

State

Senator

Party Affiliation

Alabama Richard Shelby Republican
Alabama Tommy Tuberville Republican
Alaska Daniel S. Sullivan Republican
Arizona Kyrsten Sinema Democrat
Arkansas John Boozman Republican
Arkansas Tom Cotton Republican
Florida Marco Rubio Republican
Florida Rick Scott Republican
Idaho Mike Crapo Republican
Idaho Jim Risch Republican
Indiana Mike Braun Republican
Indiana Todd C. Young Republican
Iowa Joni Ernst Republican
Iowa Chuck Grassley Republican
Kansas Roger Marshall Republican
Kansas Jerry Moran Republican
Kentucky Mitch McConnell Republican
Kentucky Rand Paul Republican
Louisiana John Neely Kennedy Republican
Mississippi Cindy Hyde-Smith Republican
Mississippi Roger Wicker Republican
Missouri Roy Blunt Republican
Missouri Josh Hawley Republican
Montana Steve Daines Republican
Nebraska Deb Fischer Republican
North Carolina Richard Burr Republican
North Carolina Thom Tillis Republican
North Dakota Kevin Cramer Republican
North Dakota John Hoeven Republican
Oklahoma Jim Inhofe Republican
Oklahoma James Lankford Republican
Pennsylvania Pat Toomey Republican
South Carolina Lindsey Graham Republican
South Carolina Tim Scott Republican
South Dakota Mike Rounds Republican
South Dakota John Thune Republican
Tennessee Marsha Blackburn Republican
Tennessee Bill Hagerty Republican
Texas John Cornyn Republican
Texas Ted Cruz Republican
Utah Mike Lee Republican
Washington Patty Murray Democratic
West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito Republican
Wisconsin Ronald Harold Johnson Republican
Wyoming John Barrasso Republican
Wyoming Cynthia Lummis Republican

These are the people who said to the citizens of this nation:

  • We do not value your lives
  • We do not honour our oaths to protect and defend the Constitution
  • We do not care about democratic processes
  • We care only for our own continuation of power
  • We are loyal lapdogs to the former ‘president’

It should also be noted that six Republicans did find their conscience and voted in favour of the commission.  My thanks go out to …

  • Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Senator Susan Collins of Maine
  • Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
  • Senator Rob Portman of Ohio
  • Senator Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska

On January 6th, a mob of thugs, domestic terrorists, white supremacists attacked the U.S. Capitol.  Five people died that day, and 140 police officers were injured.  They were protesting a fair and honest election, attempting to stop the democratic process of certifying the results of that election.  Why?  Because they had been told by the former guy and by some number of members of Congress that the election was not fair, that President Biden was not the true winner, and that somehow, they should attempt to stop the process of certifying the election.  They were encouraged and instigated by not only the former ‘president’ but also by certain members of Congress who provided them with information about the tunnels under the Capitol, about who would be where, and other vital information.  They were instigated by a member of Congress who gave them a fist-bump to show his support for their criminal activities.

Those who attacked the Capitol must be punished to the fullest extent of the law, however those who operated behind the scenes from a position of trust must be punished even more severely.  Yesterday, members of the Republican Party in Congress and two members of the Democratic Party voted or showed by their lack of vote that they are arrogant assholes, cowards who are more afraid of the former ‘president’ than they are of the people of this nation.  We elected these asses, we pay their salary, and what do we get in return?  Not one damn thing.  They turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to our pleas, to our needs, to our very lives.

Were it in my power, I would expel each and every one of these asses from Congress tomorrow.  Sadly, it isn’t, but what IS in my power is to use my voice, such as it is, to wake up the people of this nation and ensure that these asses are voted OUT of office the very next time they come up for re-election.

The truth will come out … there will be investigations either by a special House committee or by the Department of Justice.  It is my fondest hope that before the 2022 mid-term elections, we have direct evidence of the roles in the attack by such as Matt Gaetz, Margie Greene, Josh Hawley, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Kevin McCarthy and others, not to mention the former ‘president’.  These people do NOT deserve their positions, they do NOT represent us, and frankly in my book they are wasting precious resources like air, food, and water by their very existence.

Yesterday was a dark day for the United States, perhaps the darkest in my lifetime, perhaps even darker than 9/11, for yesterday we were told in no uncertain terms that the Constitution is null and void and that our lives do not matter.  This country took a huge step backward in terms of democratic principles, of fairness, honesty and integrity.  Domestic terrorists have been given a green light for future endeavours.  Ultimately, the truth will come out and justice meted out to all guilty parties.  Meanwhile, our elected officials care more about their own fortunes than about our lives.  Remember that, my friends.  Remember the names at the start of this post, for every last one of those senators has something to hide … I’d bet my life on it.

Is Bipartisanship Dead Or Merely Asleep?

Many of us have often spoken of ‘bipartisanship’, especially as it relates to the business of the United States Congress.  It’s a no-brainer, for no one party has all the best ideas and a collaboration between both parties is likely to lead to laws that are fair to all.  In theory, at least.  Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson gives us his views on bipartisanship and how impossible it has become in the reality of today’s political climate …


Bipartisanship is overrated, especially with these Republicans

Opinion by 

Eugene Robinson

Columnist

May 27, 2021 at 4:07 p.m. EDT

Bipartisanship is overrated. President Biden and Democrats in Congress should stop fetishizing it and get on with the work they know must be done.

Of course, it would be nice if a serious, responsible Republican Party willing to stand up for its principles, make substantive policy proposals and negotiate in good faith existed. As is becoming obvious, though — even to the high priest of the hands-across-the-aisle cult, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) — no such Republican Party exists. Today’s GOP is so unserious and unprincipled that it will not even support a blue-ribbon commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

“There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for,” Manchin said Thursday on Twitter. “[Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They do not believe the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear.”

His continued fealty to the filibuster notwithstanding, Manchin’s statement seemed intended to draw a line in the sand beyond which he’s not willing to give McConnell an effective veto over almost all legislation in the name of process.

If so, it’s about time. Voters snatched control of the Senate away from the Republicans and handed it to the Democrats. It’s reasonable to assume that those voters wanted forthright leadership, not hapless surrender.

McConnell’s decision to oppose the Jan. 6 commission is the perfect test case for the starry-eyed view — held by Manchin, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and a few others who are less vocal about it — that the Senate can still be made to function the way it did in the past.

Even though McConnell declared earlier this month that “one hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” surely the GOP would agree that there should be a comprehensive, nonpartisan investigation of the violent invasion of the Capitol, which left scores of police officers injured and endangered members of Congress as well as then-vice president Mike Pence. Surely, as Manchin said Thursday, there must be at least 10 Republicans willing to vote to advance legislation that has already been shaped and reshaped to accommodate the GOP’s demands. Right?

Wrong. Given McConnell’s opposition, only a few GOP senators seem prepared to support the commission bill. The Capitol had not been breached since British troops sacked and burned it in 1814. But McConnell and the Republicans are taking the position that there is nothing worthwhile to be learned by a wide-angle investigation, conducted in a setting less rancorous than congressional committees, and that it is already time to move on.

McConnell’s reasons are purely political. He does not want to anger former president Donald Trump, whose support he and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) believe they need to regain control of Congress in 2022. He does not want GOP senators and House members to have to answer inconvenient questions about their own possible roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection. He does not want Republican candidates having to answer questions about Trump’s “stolen election” lies as they campaign for the midterm elections. And he does not want to give Biden and the Democrats anything they can tout as a “win.”

The question that Biden, Manchin and others obsessed with bipartisanship must ask themselves is this: If Republicans will filibuster and block a thorough investigation into a shocking, violent, unprecedented attack on our democracy, why would they hesitate to obstruct everything else the Democrats might propose, no matter how worthy or necessary?

The White House described the Republican counteroffer on the infrastructure bill as “encouraging.” Given that the proposal nominally spends only about half of what Biden has proposed — and actually allocates even less new funding overall and none for initiatives Biden describes as vital, such as moving to a clean-energy economy — it’s more of an insult.

The GOP appears to see political benefit in coming to an agreement on police reform. But it is unclear whether those negotiations will actually reach the finish line.

And federal legislation to guarantee voting rights — an urgent priority for the Democratic Party — is a total nonstarter for Republicans. Their strategy for regaining power in 2022 appears to consist of putting as many obstacles as possible between the Democratic-leaning electorate and the ballot box.

None of this looks encouraging to me. None of it is good-faith engagement. The only glimmer of light is Manchin’s growing frustration with McConnell’s obstructionism.

Bipartisan consensus on these issues would be ideal. A sincere effort to improve Democratic bills would at least be something. But the alternative cannot be to let Republicans control the Biden administration’s agenda. Choosing powerlessness in the name of an abstract principle isn’t just weak. It’s an unseemly sacrifice of everything else Democrats say matters.

What Are Our Options?

At some point today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will call a vote to end debate on the creation of a bipartisan commission to study the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6. It will — barring some massive change — fail, doomed by the unwillingness of 10 (or more) Senate Republicans to vote for it.  Mitch McConnell has given Republicans their marching orders:  vote against it, or else.  Mitch and every other Republican are clearly eager to make the events of January 6th disappear.  I believe that if they could, they would remove January 6th from the calendar altogether.

The primary reason Republicans are so damned determined to erase January 6th from our memories is the 2022 mid-term election.  If, when the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz, Margie Greene and others come up for re-election, January 6th is still clearly in our minds, and if by then some of this crew have been shown to have played a role in the events of the day, their chances for returning to Congress in 2023 are slim-to-none.  Which is as it should be, but … Republicans don’t play by the rulebook, they play for power and are perfectly willing to break every rule in the book, even as it hurts the very people they claim to represent.

So, the idea of a commission to investigate is going to be dead on arrival by the close of today.  What next?  We simply cannot let it drop, cannot ever forget this any more than we can forget 9/11, for it was a threat to our country, our lives.  Washington Post journalist Greg Sargent recently interviewed political scientist Norman Ornstein about the options open to us.  I found it a thoughtful and thought-provoking dialog …


Republicans are likely to kill the Jan. 6 commission. But we have other options.

Opinion by

Greg Sargent

Columnist

May 19, 2021 at 4:56 p.m. EDT

Now that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has come out against the commission to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection, it’s looking increasingly like Republicans will kill it. This is especially likely given that Donald Trump has commanded them to end this entire discussion “immediately.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is set to hold a vote Wednesday on the bipartisan deal reached in the lower chamber to create a commission. That compromise was very fair and made concessions to both Republicans and Democrats.

But with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) opposed as well, it’s unlikely to get the stampede of support from House Republicans that might forestall a GOP filibuster in the Senate.

Now what?

Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein is well positioned to explain this moment and where we go from here. That’s because he was an early and very prescient observer of the GOP’s radicalization against democracy who also happens to be an expert on congressional procedure.

I spoke to Ornstein about what happens now. An edited and condensed version of our conversation follows.

Greg Sargent: What are the chances that 10 Republican senators vote for this commission?

Norman Ornstein: Once McConnell flatly opposed any commission, it created an uphill battle for getting 10 Republicans. If you got 50 Republicans in the House, then maybe it could happen. But it’s not likely.

Sargent: Let’s walk through the alternatives. One would be that Nancy Pelosi could set up a select committee tomorrow if she wanted to, right?

Ornstein: Pelosi could craft a plan for a special committee. We’ve had them many times in the House. You’d undoubtedly have the votes to do it.

Sargent: What would a select committee look like and what might be the problems with it?

Ornstein: Most select committees have an even number of members from both parties, because the whole idea is to take them away from being partisan. But there’s nothing that mandates that a select committee have equal Democrats and Republicans.

You could set it up with a slender majority of Democrats or with a larger majority. But the big challenge is the political one. You’d have to let the Speaker and the Minority Leader, or their representatives, choose the members.

Kevin McCarthy is going to do whatever he can, first, to block a committee, and second, to stack it with members designed to turn it into a farce.

Sargent: How can we have a bipartisan select committee investigate an attack that Trump incited against democracy, when one party was heavily complicit in inspiring that attack, doesn’t want to admit its own culpability for that, and is in the process of abandoning democracy?

Ornstein: It’s why I do not believe a select committee can possibly work. Republicans don’t want information to emerge about what happened on Jan. 6. They don’t want to focus on the role of the president — or their own party members.

Sargent: Could you theoretically construct a select committee to give the chair unilateral control over subpoenas?

Ornstein: Yes, you could give the chair unilateral subpoena power. But remember, congressional subpoena power is theoretically extraordinarily powerful. Practically it can be subverted fairly easily. We’ve seen instance after instance of people defying subpoenas, taking it to court, and stretching it out for years.

Sargent: A select committee would have to consist of current members, correct?

Ornstein: Yes.

Sargent: So what is our alternative?

Ornstein: There are two. One I would not like is to have the president create a group by executive order, a commission.

Sargent: You’re talking about something like the Kerner Commission created by LBJ to investigate the causes of urban rioting?

Ornstein: Yes. You could do a Kerner-type commission. And the president could pick some remarkably distinguished Republicans and Democrats to do that kind of inquiry.

For things like the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President Kennedy, there was national consensus that this was a hugely significant thing that we need to get to the bottom of.

We don’t have a party on the Republican side willing to create that national consensus. [So] it’s better if the president is not directly linked to any of this.

The whole assault was based on the “big lie” that Joe Biden didn’t win the election. If Joe Biden creates the group looking into this, it’s going to provide fodder for Trump and his acolytes to turn it against him.

Sargent: There isn’t going to be a serious inquiry into what happened that’s bipartisan.

Ornstein: The only way to make this work otherwise is if we can find a way to have the attorney general pick a group that uses the power of the Justice Department — not like a special prosecutor that can itself bring actions against people, but that could make recommendations where action by prosecutors was warranted or not. Justice Department subpoena power is a completely different matter.

Sargent: What would be the legal authority or mechanism for creating something like this?

Ornstein: The Justice Department has the responsibility to look at potential criminal violations, especially those that involve sedition. So doing it in an innovative fashion makes sense.

Whether the attorney general can do this on his own, I’m not entirely sure. If you had to have some kind of executive order, I’d rather have it done in a fashion that empowers the attorney general to do this [with] a commitment from the attorney general that he’d be hands off once this group were created.

But it seems to me you could be innovative here. The attorney general under the regulations of the Justice Department has some ability to create groups like this.

Sargent: In essence, it would be an investigation to determine whether there was criminality, and then it would produce a report on what happened, no matter what it recommended in terms of criminal charges?

Ornstein: That’s the idea. You could have a public report.

Sargent: There isn’t going to be a bipartisan effort at accountability as long as one party is committed to covering up what happened.

Ornstein: That’s the tragic and infuriating bottom line here. It’s hard to imagine something like this that doesn’t have full buy in from everybody who has a drop of patriotic blood running through his or her veins.

That you have one party which has as a singular goal evading responsibility and covering up what happened is almost beyond description.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 3/27

As she does each week, TokyoSand scoured the internet for the best of last week’s political cartoons.  Needless to say, mass shootings and guns led the way, followed by the attempts to overthrow the right of We the People to vote, to have a say in our government, who runs it and how.  These days I wish I had some shred of artistic talent, for I would love to be able to opine in a ‘toon!  But alas, a cracked egg shell is about the extent of my talents!

toon-1toon-2toon-3toon-5

See All The ‘Toons!

Tidbits From A Snarky Mind

As I said in yesterday’s Snarky Snippets post, it is getting easier to find positive things to snark about, but today I’ve got a bit of snark rolling out of my ears in the form of steam, so … I shall share it all with you!


Has Grassley’s time come?

Grassley-1Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa is still debating whether to run again in 2022 for another 6-year term.  Grassley is 87 years old and has been in the U.S. Senate for 41 years.  He is currently serving his 7th term.  While he may not have made up his mind, it seems that the people of Iowa have decided it’s time for him to retire.

According to the latest Des Moines Register poll, 55% of Iowans want Grassley to end his political career next year as compared to just 28% who said they would like to see him run for another term. More than one-third of Iowa republicans say the time has come for him to retire.  I would agree. He, like Mitch McConnell, is a poster boy for term limits.

At 87, he is the second-oldest member of the chamber — only California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is older — and if he did run and win an 8th term, Grassley would be 95 by the time it ended.  Grassley has consistently been popular among Iowans, and it is widely believed that he is the best bet for the Republican Party to hold on to that senate seat, but it seems the people aren’t too keen on voting for a man 89 years old, as he will be by election day.

If Grassley decides not to run, he will be the 6th Republican senator to decide not to seek re-election in 2022.  Let us hope there aren’t even worse ones waiting in the wings.


Lunacy in Ohio

I am sickened and disgusted that two Ohio state legislators, Jon Cross and Reggie Stoltzfus, have proposed legislation to make June 14th a state holiday in honour of the former guy.  To date there are 11 cosponsors for the bill.  People have lost their bloomin’ marbles!!!  If they succeed, I will do everything in my power to move myself and my family out of this state of numpties!  But wait … there’s more!

In North Eastern Ohio there is a park named Mosquito Lake State Park.  Another Ohio state representative, Mike Loychik, wants to rename the park after the former guy!  I swear I don’t know why I live in this state with this bunch of loons!


Filibuster mania

President Biden has been quiet on the subject of the filibuster, but yesterday during an interview with ABC News he opined …

“I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster; you have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days. You had to stand up and command the floor, and you had to keep talking. It’s getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning.”

And that is the truth, my friends.  For years now more bills have failed in the senate largely because of the filibuster than I can count.  There are some critical bills coming up in the Senate, covering voting rights, gun laws, police reform, etc.  To have them all fail simply because the Republicans in the Senate are determined to play games with our lives is unconscionable.  Mitch McConnell, however, is throwing threats around, should the rules for the filibuster be changed to make it more difficult to obstruct legislation.

“Everything that Democratic Senates did to Presidents Bush and Trump, everything the Republican Senate did to President Obama, would be child’s play compared to the disaster that Democrats would create for their own priorities if — if — they break the Senate. Let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues. Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin — can even begin — to imagine what a completely scorched earth Senate would look like — none. None of us have served one minute in a Senate that was completely drained of comity, and this is an institution that requires unanimous consent to turn the lights on before noon.”

As I said before, McConnell is a poster boy for why we need term limits … his power has gone straight to his head and he no longer believes that good governance is important or that he has a responsibility to the people of this nation!  Sadly, McConnell’s term doesn’t end until 2026, so there are only two ways he will be leaving the senate:  voluntary retirement or death.  He’s just stubborn enough to refuse to do either.

**Note to readers:  It is now 1:00 a.m., and I put this post on the schedule two hours ago.  Just this minute did I realize that … OH SHOOT … this is Wednesday … Good People Doing Good Things day!!!  My sincerest apologies … this is the result of a cluttered and aging mind.  Good People will be on Thursday morning this week … thank you for your understanding and patience!

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.