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.

Wise Words And A Question

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


Will We Choose the Right Side of History?

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

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inhumane, Cruel and Unconscionable

Yes, of course I am talking about the current occupant of the White House … who else?  I am so damn sick and tired of writing about Donald Trump … and yet, it is he who poses the gravest threat to not only our own well-being, but to the lives of people all around the globe.

For the past week, he has been an even bigger jackass than before, starting with his unhinged behaviour during last Tuesday’s debate and culminating with his untimely return to the White House from Walter Reed hospital last evening.  And now, predictably, he is continuing to put the lives of his family, the White House staff, people in his administration, Secret Service agents, members of Congress, and others at risk for the sake of his own ego.

Worse yet, he is putting my life and yours at risk by convincing his not-too-bright base that the coronavirus isn’t dangerous after all, and that they should return to their everyday activities sans precautions.  This was tragically predictable, that if he lived and suffered no lasting effects, he would say, “See … it was nothing … just like I said … nothing to worry about.”  And some will believe him and they will take risks that put others at risk, and the chain is endless.

I have said it before, but perhaps now people … at least thinking people … will believe me when I say this ‘man’ has no conscience.  He is an abuser … he has abused his own children, his wives, other women, his staff, and now he is abusing this nation.  Yet just yesterday I read a comment by a woman claiming that he was put in this position by god and that made him godly.  Oh please, spare me …

A number of Trump’s minions have claimed that he is living proof the protocols called for by the medical community – mask wearing, social distancing, etc. – don’t work because … well, because Trump caught the virus, too.  TRUMP DID NOT FOLLOW THOSE PROTOCOLS, FOOLS!  He mocked people who did, he ‘demanded’ that businesses and schools reopen well before they should have, and he never wore a mask, thus exposing himself and everyone around him.  Knock off the damn lies, the obfuscation and the gaslighting!

The day that Donald Trump leaves office, hopefully at 12:01 p.m. on January 20, 2021, I hope there is a huge class action lawsuit filed against him for the lives he has cost us and for making our own lives a living hell on earth.

Three senators now have the coronavirus, Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, and Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.  Two of the senators, Tillis and Lee, are on the Senate Judiciary Committee that will oversee the confirmation hearings for Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett.

Mitch McConnell has announced that he will delay the Senate’s return for two weeks, in light of the three who have the virus and others who may have been exposed.  However … he claims that the hiatus will not impact the confirmation hearings scheduled to begin on October 12thSay WHAT???  So, no useful business will be conducted, but he will continue to ramrod Barrett’s confirmation so that she can be seated before the election, or at the very least before the inauguration of (hopefully) Joe Biden in January.  I don’t know how he expects to do it, with two members of the Judiciary Committee out, or how he will gain a vote of 50 with three senators out and two, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, pledging they will not vote to confirm Barrett for they believe it is wrong to rush this confirmation.

Senator Ron Johnson is so eager to confirm Ms. Barrett that he said, “But if we have to go in and vote, I’ve already told the leadership, I’ll go in in a moon suit. We think this is pretty important.”  What an ass.

So, the people’s business will not be conducted in the Senate for the next two weeks, but a bigoted homophobic misogynist woman will be seated on the Supreme Court.  Wonderful, just what this damn country needs.  Well, ol’ Mitchie might find it harder than he thinks, especially if a couple more senators test positive for the virus and must quarantine.  Fingers crossed.  Sorry if that seems cruel, but the stakes are high here.

For four years now, I have been saying that this is no longer a country I recognize, and today that is truer than ever.  After the election, I will decide whether my family and I can continue to live here.  It isn’t just Trump or the bootlickers in Congress who have sold us downriver, but it is the 40% or so who even today, even after all that has happened, still cling to their “leader” and refuse to see or hear how far he has driven this country toward becoming a banana republic.  I don’t know that I can continue living among such people, nor that I even want to.

Until the election, though, I am full-steam ahead, and will continue to opine on the events of the day, to work with Jeff on our project to try to enlighten and encourage people to oust the clown in the Oval Office, so … hang on to your hats, my friends!  Twenty-eight days … exactly four weeks from today … until the election.

An Answer To My Letter …

You may remember the letter I wrote to Senator Rob Portman a week or so ago regarding the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  One thing I will say about Senator Portman is that he always responds to my emails, and this was no exception.  On Saturday I received this response …

rob-portmanDear 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

My response, if I felt inclined to respond, would be to remind him that the United States Supreme Court is intended, by the Constitution he places so much stock in, to be non-partisan.  They are supposed to judge cases by their constitutionality, not by how the results play into the hands of one political party or another.  What I hear in Senator Portman’s response is that he will continue licking the boots of the Ass in the Oval Office and will vote to confirm the nominee, for he hasn’t the cojones to stand up to either Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell.  I hope I’m wrong.

Dear Kentucky, Please do us a Favor

Mitch McConnell is the poster boy for why we need term limits … the man has long overstayed his welcome in the U.S. Senate and needs to be put out to pasture. Our friend Jeff has written an impassioned plea to the good people of the State of Kentucky to please remove this wart from our posterior! Actually, Jeff phrased it far more kindly than I would likely have done, which is why he’s so great at what he does! Thank you, Jeff … let us hope Kentuckians are listening!!! The few I know are ready to dump Mitch, but they obviously don’t speak for the whole.

On The Fence Voters

A letter to the voters of the great state of Kentucky:

For the last 36 years, you have elected Mitch McConnell to the United States Senate. The loyalty shown to Mr. McConnell is genuinely something I’m sure he takes quite seriously and appreciates greatly. However, this year, I’d like to ask you a favor. Would you please consider removing Senator McConnell by voting for Amy McGrath on November 3, 2020?

Yes, I know. Who am I to ask such a thing? Well, I’m a concerned American who currently resides in the great state of Oregon. I’m about as far away as you can get from your state, not just in miles, but also in political ideology. But I’m also an individual who believes that we can and should do better for all Americans. And the truth is, your Senator has almost singlehandedly stopped hundreds of pieces of legislation.

Now, you…

View original post 1,067 more words

Letter to Members of Congress

This is the letter I wrote yesterday to my two senators, Senator Rob Portman, a republican and Senator Sherrod Brown, a democrat, and my single useless Representative, Warren Davidson, a republican and member of the ignoble House Freedom Caucus.  I sent the letter via regular USPS mail, as I did not wish it to become lost in the tens of thousands of emails they receive daily.  I am angry with the entire lot of them, democrats and republicans, members of the House and Senate.  They are wasting time when there is important work to be done and they are allowing Donald Trump free rein to do exactly as he pleases … quite often abusing the limitations on the power of his office.


Dear Senator/Representative ___________________,

As a taxpayer, a voter, and a citizen of this country, I am beyond disappointed in the job Congress has done and is doing.  It matters not to me if you are a Republican or a Democrat … you are an elected official who swore an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, to do your job with the best interests of the country and its people as your goal.  Congress as a whole has let We the People down in so many ways that I’ve lost count.

Per the aforementioned Constitution, it is the duty of Congress to oversee the executive branch, ie the president, and in this, you are failing miserably.  By ‘you’, I mean the body as a whole, but each member must share responsibility for allowing the many atrocities that are being forced upon the people of this nation.  I have a few questions I would like answered:

    • Why is Donald Trump being allowed to fire the Inspectors General who are tasked with overseeing the various departments and agencies within the federal government? It is rather like allowing a child to fire its nanny!
    • Why is he being allowed to continue his false accusations against such honourable people as President Barack Obama, Vice President and candidate Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and others? These are merely a smoke screen intended to distract the public, and Congress, from the real issues at hand.
    • Why is he being allowed to threaten to cut off federal funding to states that adopt absentee and mail-in voting this year in order to make voting safe for everyone?  This is not within the bounds of his authority, yet who will stop him, if not Congress?
    • Why is Congress so divided along party lines that literally nothing of value is being accomplished, yet you are all taking your monthly pay?  Can you not set aside your differences to act in the best interest of the nation at this, a time of genuine crisis?  Is the power of your position more important to you than our lives?
    • Why did you so easily give up your oversight function regarding the last stimulus bill, such that the money was grossly misspent?  Small businesses received little, and corporations with ties to Trump and his cronies received money to which they had no right.

Today I read that Donald Trump is threatening states that are planning to use absentee and mail-in ballots in the upcoming November election.  This is an obvious ploy to disenfranchise many voters of both parties.  Do you plan to continue sitting on your haunches and allow him to get by with this?  He claims he will withhold federal funding from those states that plan to allow mail-in ballots … you CAN stop him from doing this, but will you?

Thus far, he has pulled this country out of critical international agreements, such as the Paris Accords and the Iran nuclear deal, and now he has ceased critical funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), which he is threatening to make a permanent cessation.  Will you truly allow this?  It is not within his power to do so, unless you simply sit back and do nothing to stop it.

As I said, I do not care what your party affiliation is … I myself am an independent who has voted at various times for people in both parties.  But, I DO care whether our elected officials, people whose salaries we pay with our hard-earned tax dollars, are doing their jobs, and it appears today that most of them are not.  Most seem to be more concerned with collecting their campaign donations from the NRA and corporations, rather than protecting the people of this nation.

I write this letter in hopes of opening your eyes to the fact that things need to change, and they need to change NOW.  You need to understand that the madman in the Oval Office is NOT your employer … We the People are!  You need to open your eyes and engage your brain and see what is in front of those eyes … a corrupt and evil person who has aspirations far beyond what the office of president allows.  I hope that you will take my concerns to the floor of Congress, allow me to have a voice, and that you and your peers will act to stop this runaway train before it dooms us all to life under a dictatorship.

Sincerely,

Jill E Dennison, voter & taxpayer

Discord & Dissension – Part XII – Fight For The Senate

So far, Jeff and I have focused solely on the presidential election in November, and granted, that is the single most important of the many elections coming up in November, but it is not the only crucial one.  We will come back to the presidential election soon, but for today I want to talk about the Senate races.

There are 35 senate seats up for grabs on November 3rd, 23 of which are currently held by republicans.  The current demographics of the Senate are 53 republicans, 45 democrats, and 2 independents who caucus with the democrats.  So, the democrats, in order to gain a simple majority, will need to flip at least a net 4 of the 23 republican-held seats.  Can they do it?  I think there is a better-than-average chance that they can and will, but as we saw in 2016, it doesn’t pay to take anything for granted.

But before I get into the specific races that I think will be integral to re-gaining a democratic majority, let’s talk for just a minute about the down ballot, also known as the coattail effect.  For those who may not be familiar with the term, it is the tendency for a popular political party leader to attract votes for other candidates of the same party in an election. For example, in the United States, the party of a victorious presidential candidate will often win many seats in Congress as well; these members of Congress are voted into office “on the coattails” of the president, as happened in 2016, giving Congress a republican majority in both chambers.

However, it also works in the opposite direction, and that may be to the democrats’ advantage this year, as Trump is almost certain to lose popularity the longer the pandemic crisis goes on, the more lives are lost due to his ineptitude, egomania, and continued disregard for the lives of the people of this country.  Those republican senators like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham who have almost slavishly cast their lot in with Trump, are almost certain to suffer if Trump is falling in the polls, as I expect to see happen (fingers crossed).

Twelve of the twenty-three republican seats up for grabs are considered to be safe for the republican party, so at this time there isn’t much point talking about flipping those seats, so I will focus on the other eleven.  They are …

  • Martha McSally – Arizona
  • Cory Gardner – Colorado
  • Kelly Loeffler – Georgia
  • David Perdue – Georgia
  • Joni Ernst – Iowa
  • Pat Roberts – Kansas *
  • Mitch McConnell – Kentucky
  • Susan Collins – Maine
  • Steve Daines – Montana
  • Thom Tillis – North Carolina
  • John Cornyn – Texas

Martha McSally and Kelly Loeffler were never elected to their senate seats, but rather were appointed by their state’s governors to fill seats on the death of Arizona Senator John McCain and the poor health of Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson.  Neither are particularly popular in their states, and both have been the source of some controversies, the latest involving Kelly Loeffler and insider trading when after a briefing by top government scientists about the coronavirus in January, she immediately sold stocks that later tanked. She then turned around and re-invested in Citrix, a technology company that offers teleworking software and whose share price is one of the few that has risen since the crisis began.

For now, in the interest of both time and space, I will focus only on the four races where democrats stand the best chance to take over a republican seat, and I will come back to the others in a future post.

McSallyIn nearly every poll, McSally trails behind her democratic opponent, former astronaut Mark Kelly by a margin of between 5 and 12 points.  Mark Kelly is very popular, and I personally don’t foresee McSally being able to pull a rabbit out of her hat.  McSally is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, but she uses that almost as a weapon sometimes, a bit too much to suit most people.  She lost the 2018 election to democrat Kyrsten Sinema but gained her senate seat later that year after the death of John McCain.  I do think this is one the democrats can flip with relative ease.

gardnerTurning our sights now to Colorado where Senator Cory Gardner has become so unpopular that his approval rating is a mere 37%.  His democratic opponent is almost certain to be former Colorado governor and former presidential candidate, John Hickenlooper.  There are few Colorado polls out at this time, but the most reliable one puts Hickenlooper 12 points ahead of Gardner.  Another I think can be won by democrats, for even Trump has lost a good bit of his popularity in the state.

Susan-CollinsBy all rights, Susan Collins should be a pariah, an outcast in her home state of Maine.  Her democratic opponent, Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon, is in fact leading in the polls, but by a small margin.  Ms. Collins has been in the Senate since 1997 and like some of her fellow senators, namely Mitch McConnell, is the perfect example of the need for term limits.  She lost some of her popularity when she referred to then-nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, as “an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband, and father”, despite credible accusations of sexual misconduct.  She then added: “I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”  Then she plunged a bit further during the impeachment trial when, after having said a few months prior that Trump had made “a big mistake” in asking foreign countries for political favours, she turned around and voted not to convict Trump.  She claimed she believed that Trump “has learned from this case”.  Within days, it became obvious that he hadn’t, and Ms. Collins became the butt of many jokes.  Currently, she is polling between 2.5 and 4 points behind Ms. Gideon and given that there are still some 200 days until the election, it is likely that she will say something else that proves her unfitness for her senate seat.  We can hope, at any rate.

thom-tillisIn North Carolina, the race between republican incumbent Thom Tillis and democrat Cal Cunningham is considered to be a toss-up at this point.  Only two polls have rung in, one putting Tillis ahead with a two-point lead, the other in favour of Cunningham by 5 points.  One thing that may help Cunningham is that North Carolina’s approval rating for Trump is only in the 43% range, and this may be where the down-ballot comes into play.  I’m less certain of this one than I am Arizona, Colorado and Maine, but it is definitely one where anything could happen.  Remember, there are 6+ months left …

Those are the four senate seats most likely to be flipped.  Two others, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Moscow Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, bear watching and, by some accounts, may be easily switched, and we’ll talk a bit more about those, as well as others at another time.  Meanwhile, though, remember I said that to gain a majority in the Senate the democrats would need to gain a net 4 seats.  So, if the democrats are able to persevere only in the above four states, they must also hold all their current seats for a majority.  There is, fortunately, only one seat held by democrat Doug Jones of Alabama, that is in jeopardy, but it is a serious jeopardy.

doug-jonesSenator Jones earned his seat in a special election in 2017 to fill Jeff Sessions’ seat after Sessions became the Attorney General.  At that time, Jones ran against the scandal-ridden infamous Roy Moore, racist extraordinaire.  While at this time, there are three contenders for the republican nominee, and the primary has been postponed until July, most surveys are showing that any of the three, one being Jeff Sessions himself, could easily beat Jones.  I think, realistically, this is one that the democrats will lose, giving them a net 3 new seats, and tying the Senate 50-50.

Now, one last thing.  If, as most reading this are hoping, Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump for the office of president, a net 3 gain will suffice, for the vice president is the one who would break any ties.  However, if Donald Trump should win his bid for re-election, and there is a tie in the Senate, the republicans would prevail, as they have for the past three years.  One way or another, we must make sure this doesn’t happen.

Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

Sherrod Brown Speaks … Boy Does He Ever Speak!!!

There are very few politicians in Ohio for whom I have the least bit of respect.  Jim Jordan and Warren Davidson are the lowest of low in my book, and after Tuesday’s fiasco, I’d like to take a baseball bat to Governor DeWine’s head.  But Senator Sherrod Brown has always seemed like a good guy who cares about the people he represents.

Earlier today, a friend sent me this video clip and … WOW!  You tell ’em, Sherrod!  Take a look for yourself …

The Little Boy Who Cried 🐺

Remember the story about the little shepherd boy who cried wolf?  You don’t?  Aw, c’mon … you’re not so old you’ve forgotten that one.  Well, the story goes that the little boy got bored while tending his master’s sheep, and I suppose to get attention, kept crying “Wolf!!!”, even though there was no wolf after him (not to mention that wolves aren’t bad guys anyway).  The townspeople all ran to his rescue, only to find there was no wolf, no threat, the kid was just bored. Then one day, a wolf really was after the kid, or more likely the sheep, and though he kept crying “Wolf!!!”, nobody came to his rescue, for they were all onto his tricks.  Thus, the wolf ate all the sheep and the little boy, mostly to get him to shut up (poor wolf had a severe case of heartburn for days after).  And the moral, according to Aesop, is “this shows how liars are rewarded: even if they tell the truth, no one believes them”.thinking wolfSo why, you ask, do I tell you a fairy tale on this Saturday afternoon?  I wish I could remember!  I know I had a purpose … but I cannot remember it just now.  So, I shall just proceed with a few snippets and perhaps it will come back to me, eh?


The impeachment trial, for those who might not know, is in its fourth day.  Funny, the senators haven’t done a bit of work all year, but they are so eager to get this trial out of their way, supposedly so they can, as one senator claimed, “get back to doing the work of the people”.  What work???  What “people”?  They haven’t passed a piece of meaningful legislation in the Senate in over a year now!  They don’t even discuss meaningful legislation.  Oh wait … they voted to re-name a few federal buildings … that was pretty important to us all, wasn’t it?

Anyway, one Senator, Roger Wicker from Mississippi, responded to the impeachment charges that Trump had acted inappropriately, had abused the power of his office, in attempting to withhold aid to the Ukraine in exchange for personal gain …

“I do things every week that are inappropriate. So no, I’m not going to go down that road.”

Yo!  Mississippi voters … are you listening here?  Your ‘esteemed’ Senator does things that are inappropriate every week!  Now, I might make mistakes on a near-daily basis, but … ‘inappropriate’ carries a connotation of corruption, of a lack of morals, of values.  I think you Mississippians better be keeping a closer eye on ol’ Senator Wicker!

wicker

He looks a little confused, don’t you think?


Funny, but the republicans seem a mite on edge these days, don’t you think?  For example, yesterday Mike Pompeo apparently didn’t like some of the questions asked of him by NPR radio host Mary Louise Kelly.  His answers were brief non-answers, but it was what happened after the interview that is telling.  As he walked out of the room, he stopped at her desk, leaned in and silently glared at Kelly for several seconds before leaving the room.  Within a minute, an aide asked Kelly to follow her into Pompeo’s private living room at the State Department without a recorder.

She would have been wise to decline, but curiosity got the better of her, I suppose, and she went.  According to Ms. Kelly, Pompeo shouted his displeasure at being questioned about Ukraine. He used repeated expletives, according to Kelly, and asked, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?”   Either the republicans are nervous about something and on a short fuse these days, else they are trying to win brownie points by emulating their idol, King Trump.king-trump


And then there was the freshman senator from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn – a real nasty piece of work in my book.  It seems almost as if each republican picks his or her own target to vilify, and Ms. Blackburn’s target is Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.  Vindman, you’ll remember, testified to House impeachment investigators about Trump’s July 25th phone call to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and concluded that he considered it to be inappropriate.

blackburn-2

Notice anything about the mouth … the exaggerated contortions … reminds me of???  And didn’t women stop teasing their hair in the ’70s?

Blackburn has been busily tweeting, appearing on television and social media that she considers Vindman to be vindictive and a coward.  A coward?  Excuse me, but Vindman is a combat veteran of the Iraq War. He served in Iraq from September 2004 to September 2005. In October 2004, he sustained an injury from a roadside bomb in Iraq, for which he received a Purple Heart. He was promoted to the rank of major in 2008, and to lieutenant colonel in September 2015.  That, to me, is not the career path a ‘coward’ would take.

During his Army career, Vindman earned the Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, and Parachutist Badge, as well as four Army Commendation Medals and two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, yet Ms. Blackburn writes …

“Alexander Vindman broke the chain of command and leaked the contents of the President’s July 25th phone call to his pal, the “whistleblower.” Over a policy dispute with the President! How is that not vindictive?”

“Vindictive Vindman is the “whistleblower’s” handler.”

“Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot. How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?”

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support any of her claims.

I think Tennesseans, like Mississippians, need to re-think their choice of people to represent them in Congress!toon-1


I still don’t remember quite where I was going with the ‘little boy who cried wolf’ story, but perhaps you guys can come up with something?  Ah well, it’s a good story anyway.  And now, I shall return you to your weekend activities!