Mitch McConnell Likes Falling Bridges!

Throughout President Obama’s eight year tenure, one man stood out as the biggest hurdle to anything and everything Obama and his team proposed.  That man, of course, is the ignoble Mitch McConnell … the poster boy for why we need term limits.  McConnell’s power is far greater than it should be and when he pledges obstruction, you can count on him destroying everything in his path … even our lives.

Most recently, McConnell has pledged to do everything in his power to keep the infrastructure bill from seeing the light of day in the Senate.  Frank Bruni, writing for the New York Times, addresses the infrastructure bill and McConnell’s self-serving intended obstruction in his latest newsletter …


Mitch McConnell, Fickle Fiscal Prude

By Frank Bruni

Opinion Columnist

The numbers stagger me too.

President Biden is promoting more than $2 trillion for infrastructure (loosely defined). He signed legislation for $1.9 trillion for pandemic relief, economic stimulus and anti-poverty initiatives.

All of this comes after the Trump administration’s mammoth relief-and-stimulus spending in 2020, and all of this precedes what will almost certainly be yet more requests for additional trillions from the Biden administration.

We’re in uncharted waters. Experts offering assurances that all will be well — or even better than well — are giving us their best educated guesses. No one — not the cheerleaders, not the naysayers — truly knows how this will all turn out.

But here’s the thing: At some point you have to pick a path, choose a side, place your bet. In many instances the potential price of a flawed wager is almost certainly less steep than the cost of inaction. This instance, I think, is one of those. Maybe America will go too big in the end. But too small hasn’t worked for us.

Too small led to the economic dispossession and pessimism exploited by a junior-league demagogue and would-be despot who hurt this country gravely. Too small factored into our shameful and unsustainable degree of income inequality.

Too small was a culprit in America’s world-leading number of coronavirus infections and Covid-related deaths last year. By contrast, too big — or rather, big — was a partner in the speedy development and distribution of vaccines.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader in the Senate, has pledged to fight Biden’s infrastructure package “every step of the way,” as a sudden defender of fiscal discipline. I say “sudden” because his attachment to it over the past few years, before Biden took office, was as steady as a Slinky.

He was perfectly happy to run up the federal debt to stay in good with President Donald Trump, who wanted tax cuts and more gleaming military hardware. Now? We mustn’t leave crippling bills to our children and grandchildren! How horridly gluttonous! How downright immoral!

How utterly laughable. The truth about most politicians and spending is that they’re for it if the outlays bolster their electoral fortunes and against it if the other side may have more to gain. They’re not in thrall to some fixed economic ideology. They’re bound to partisan rivalries and enamored of ideological fashions of the moment.

Remember all of those fiscally principled Tea Party candidates who rocked the Republican Party and swarmed to Washington in 2010? That didn’t turn out to be any kind of revolution. Many of those candidates, along with most other Republicans, exiled their thriftiness when President Barack Obama exited the White House, then embraced Trump in all of his profligacy.

But back to infrastructure and Biden’s big-ticket legislation. Over recent decades of congressional sclerosis, America has fallen behind and imperiled its future prosperity. We’ve no choice but to catch up, and catching up, I believe, will cost more than McConnell is willing to agree to. It may cost even more than Biden is pitching.

Or not. Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the choice is between overdoing and underdoing. That it’s that clear, that stark. I’d vote for overdoing. We haven’t tried that in a while.

And my read of the American mood right now is that people are frustrated with the status quo and the timidity of politicians too focused on one another to focus on everyone else. There’s a hankering for movement of some kind — of any kind. There’s an appetite for boldness. Let’s feed it.

A Closer Look At Senator Ron Johnson

There are a number of nasty people in the U.S. Senate today, people who willfully obstruct the people’s business, people who are racist, homophobic, misogynists … but one stands out among the crowd, especially for his behaviour over the past 3 months.

ron-johnsonUntil recently, I had not heard of Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin except in passing.  And then came the 2020 election, followed by the Big Lie, followed by the attack on Congress and the Capitol on January 6th as Congress was certifying the election results, and suddenly Ron Johnson got his name in lights.  Mr. Johnson perpetuated the Big Lie, that the former guy had actually won the election and it had been stolen from him.  Mr. Johnson was one of the many Republicans who voted to overturn the election, to throw out our votes … our voices.  Ron Johnson says he wasn’t afraid that day, when Nazis and white supremacists … terrorists … broke into the Capitol, destroying public property, chanting “Kill Mike Pence”, injuring more than 140 police officers and killing more than one person.  Ron Johnson said he wasn’t afraid because …

“I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned.”

BULLSHIT.  bullshit

They were destroying property, breaking windows, pooping on the floor, killing people!  They would never break the law???  Their very presence there was in violation of the law, and what they did once they got in was not just illegal, but seditious, treasonous, and their intent was to overturn this country’s government and install a dictator.  But Ron Johnson thinks these … these heathens … are “good people”.  But, it should be noted that Johnson further qualified his remark by saying he would have been concerned if the invaders had been Black.  Get that man out of Congress!!!

So, now that Ron Johnson has shown his proverbial ass, I decided to look back at his past … people don’t just turn into goats overnight, so I was fairly certain he’s been one for a long time.  I was right.

Johnson is everything that is wrong in the Republican Party.  First elected to the Senate in 2010 with no prior experience in government, and no relevant education, having only a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Minnesota.  He was a businessman, CEO of a plastics company.  He objected to the stimulus plan of 2009 under the Obama administration, yet he applied for stimulus money for an education council he led.  Yeah, scratch your head over that one!

He is not overly popular … in 2010 he won with 52% of the vote, and only 50.2% in 2016.  He is up for re-election next year … PLEASE, people of Wisconsin, vote this asshole OUT!

He is a climate science denier, having called scientists who attribute global warming to manmade causes “crazy,” saying the theory is “lunacy,” and attributed climate change to causes other than human activity.  Hmmmm … I didn’t see any science degrees or experience listed on his CV.

He is a strong advocate of gun rights (but you already figured that, didn’t you?) and has co-sponsored a bill that would prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloging the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns.  In April 2013, Johnson was one of 12 Republican senators to sign a letter threatening to filibuster any newly introduced gun control legislation. That month, Johnson joined 45 other senators in defeating the Manchin-Toomey Amendment, which would have required background checks on all sales of guns, including between individuals.  Sure … just let anybody and everybody have as many guns as they wish and do with them as they will, right?

Healthcare?  Hah!  He was one of only 8 senators to vote against the $1,200 stimulus checks last year.  He is against the Affordable Care Act, has voted to repeal it, and when John McCain famously turned his thumb down on the effort to repeal ACA, Johnson basically blamed it on McCain’s brain tumour and said he wasn’t in his right mind.

And then there were the conspiracy theories he spread about the FBI and Trump–Ukraine scandal, promoted false claims of fraud in the 2020 election, suggested that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was at fault for the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.  And I could go on, but in the interest of time and sanity, I won’t.

Suffice it to say that Ron Johnson is one of the faces of the new Republican Party – a man without intellect and without conscience.  Let us hope that in November 2022, the people of Wisconsin use their intellect and conscience to get this goat out of the United States Senate.

Government Of, By, And For The People … Going Once, Going Twice …

I have always believed that in order for democratic processes to work properly, we need two viable political parties.  It just makes sense … in theory, it leads to a meshing of ideas and results in compromise that is good for the nation, good for the people.  It also ensures that no one person or party will hijack the power of the federal government, turning it into an autocracy.  Today, those two parties are so polarized that they are destroying the nation and the people are paying the price.  I guess the keyword in my first sentence is ‘viable’.  I don’t believe the Republican Party of today is a viable party, certainly they are not representative of the people of the United States, nor do they any longer even pretend to represent us.  One case in point …

Just over a week ago, on March 11th, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus stimulus bill, but also much more to help people, small businesses, and cities recover from the pandemic that has thrown a wrench into our lives and prosperity for over a year now.  Not one single Republican in Congress voted for the bill, though a few are not above taking credit for it.  But now … Attorneys General around the nation are actually suing President Biden over the bill!  Thus far, 22 states’ Attorneys General have filed lawsuits, the latest being Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

According to The Washington Post …

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued the Biden administration Wednesday over its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, alleging the federal government sought to impose “unconstitutional” limits on states’ ability to access some of the aid.

The lawsuit from Yost, a Republican, follows a day after 21 other GOP attorneys general issued their own veiled legal threat in a move that ratcheted up tensions between states and Democratic policymakers in Washington over one of the largest rescue measures in U.S. history.

Republican attorneys general threaten key element of the $1.9 trillion stimulus

The Ohio lawsuit centers on a $350 billion fund meant to help cities, counties and states cover the costs of responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The stimulus law opened the door for cash-strapped local governments to tap federal aid to pay for expenses, including for first responders, although it prohibited states from using the money to directly or indirectly offset new tax cuts.

This is akin to a child suing their own parents for trying to take care of them!  In essence, the argument is that in order to qualify for the federal funding, states cannot pass new tax cuts.  Well, folks, every tax cut that has passed anywhere in the last four years has benefited only the wealthy in our nation, the big corporations and their stockholders.  The tax cuts of 2017 did not benefit the average working class one damn bit, and they did absolutely nothing to help the poor.  As a result, this nation is now in debt to the tune of $28 trillion, which comes to about $223,893 per taxpayer!  Why? Because many corporations and most wealthy people pay relatively no taxes and others pay a lower percentage of their income than you or I do!

It seems unconscionable to me that when we finally, after 4 long, dry years under the former guy, have a president who cares about the people as well as the true economy, not just the damn stock market, the Republican Party is showing its true colours, fighting him at every single turn.  Another case in point …

Mitch McConnell has made threats to “blow up” the Senate if the Democrats attempt to alter the filibuster rule.  McConnell, in a floor speech, called out Senate Democrats who believe eliminating the rule would be a “tidy tradeoff” that would allow them to pass major legislative priorities free of the need for 10 Republican votes.

Nobody in the Senate, McConnell warned, can “imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like,” asserting that it would make the partisan gridlock that defined the last three presidencies look like “child’s play.” McConnell warned he could gum up the works in the minority by requiring at least 51 senators be physically present in order to proceed, which would grind the chamber to a halt given that Democrats have 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris wouldn’t count.

The minority leader also laid out a laundry list of policies his party would try to ram through if they retook the majority, including “sweeping” abortion restrictions, a “hardening” of the U.S.-Mexico border, nation-wide right to work, defunding Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities and passing concealed carry reciprocity in all 50 states.

In other words, Mr. McConnell would, without so much as a pang of conscience, ensure that not a single piece of meaningful legislation would pass in the Senate for at least the next 21 months, and that if his party wins a majority in the Senate as a result of the 2022 elections, he will pass legislation that would harm every person in this country.  Because to him and his cronies, it’s all a big game … see who can wield the most power.  The 330 million people in this country?  Oh, they’re fine … just as long as they keep paying their taxes, it’s all good.

So, we have the Republican Party suing the president and his administration and making threats against We the People.  If you ever had any doubts before, let me clarify that this is no longer Abraham Lincoln’s government “… of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  That concept has been dead for a while now, largely since we elected a Black man to lead the nation, not once but twice.  If you have any doubt that most of what the Republican’s are attempting has its basis in racism, put those doubts to bed.  Almost everything they support would take this nation back into the Jim Crow era.

I end where I began … this nation, in order to survive as a democratic republic, must have two viable parties, an exchange of ideas, and compromise.  Today, the Republican Party is not working for the people, and therefore is not a viable party.  If they do not clean up their house, come up with a platform that supports the people of this nation, then they must be replaced.  There is entirely too much at stake — voting rights, minimum wage, gun regulation, women’s rights, police reform, civil rights, climate change, immigration and more — to let Mitch and his band of not-so-merry men bring our government to a crashing halt.

Check out what Late Night Comedian Stephen Colbert has to say about McConnell’s threats and other newsworthy events

Let’s Talk About Joe Manchin

Our friend TokyoSand has given us an overview of Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia.  She reminds us that he is a Democratic Senator from a heavily Republican state, and as such, he cannot be expected to vote favourably on legislation that will be unpopular with the people in his state (he’s a politician, not a philanthropist).  Take a look at her post for a better understanding of Senator Manchin …


Senator Joe Manchin is in the news a lot now, because he represents the key 50th vote in the Senate. Let’s look at Manchin’s background to see what clues there are for how he might operate under President Biden.

When we won the two Senate seats in Georgia and made the Senate 50-50, it was inevitable that Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia was going to start getting a lot of press. Which he has.

To put it mildly, Manchin is a rare bird when it comes to politics today. And I want to see the Democrats pass a lot of important legislation, and getting Manchin on board will be crucial to that goal, so I set out to understand him a bit better.

It’s About West Virginia

To say that Joe Manchin is a West Virginian politician is an understatement. Unlike those Senators who have an eye on the presidency, Manchin is about West Virginia, and West Virginia only. He was born there, raised there, got his college degree there, and has spent a lifetime in politics there, starting as a state representative and rising through the ranks up to the governorship, prior to becoming the Senator in 2010 in a special election. He is not interested in what the rest of the country thinks of him, he is only preoccupied with his own state and its voters.

Read the rest of the story …

Bloomin’ Fools Abound (in the GOP)

Lots of little annoying things to stir my angst bouncing about on the radar tonight …


Taking credit where none is due …

It amazes me how somebody can take credit for what someone else has done, for what they themselves attempted to undo.  But that’s exactly what at least one Republican senator, Roger Wicker from Mississippi has done.  Not a single republican voted for the stimulus bill that, despite them, passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law by President Biden yesterday.  Mr. Wicker had the unmitigated gall to tweet …

“Independent restaurant operators have won $28.6 billion worth of targeted relief. This funding will ensure small businesses can survive the pandemic by helping to adapt their operations and keep their employees on the payroll.”

Fortunately, people aren’t as stupid as he thinks and he received thousands of negative responses, including my own (I’ll likely get another suspension from Twitter for this one!).  Speaker Nancy Pelosi hit the nail on the head when she said …

“It’s typical that they vote no and take the dough.”


How in the Sam Hell?

Florida governor Ron DeSantis is a bloomin’ fool.  The latest?  Well, when he refused to put in place a statewide mask mandate last year, a number of counties and cities imposed local mask ordinances and fined businesses that failed to follow the law.  Makes sense to me, especially given that Florida has the third highest number of total cases in the country.

Well, apparently some people complained, so yesterday Governor DeSantis signed an executive order forgiving any fines related to local government COVID-19 restrictions on people and business.  The order states any fines imposed between March 1, 2020, and March 10, 2021, fines imposed by any political subdivision of Florida related to local government COVID-19 restrictions are canceled.

Heather Wooding, the owner of Country House Restaurant in Winter Garden, was fined in December after several warnings and several customer complaints that some employees were not wearing masks. Says she …

“I just didn’t feel it was right, so we were going to fight it.”

Wooding says she reqires no one to wear masks as she defies the county order and supports the governor’s new order eliminating fines.

“We have people coming here because we don’t wear masks. They want to be normal. And they are happy to come to a place that does not wear masks.”

Well, Bully!  We all want to be ‘normal’, but first we have to be alive, fool!


Floridians sure do know how to pick ’em …

And another bloomin’ fool in Florida … do they breed them specially down there?  Senator Rick Scott, who also did not vote for the stimulus bill, is beseeching states and cities across America to refuse federal aid and put politics over policy. In a letter sent to governors and mayors in Red states just after the bill was approved on Wednesday, Scott called the widely praised piece of legislation as “massive, wasteful and non-targeted.” He encouraged state and local leaders, by way of sending back the aid, to demand that Congress “quit recklessly spending other people’s money.”

WAIT just a darned minute here!  He doesn’t seem to have a problem spending other people’s money on himself (salary, travel, meals, perks) does he?  But he just doesn’t want people who actually need a boost to get one!

Oh, and by the way … it is reported that Scott is meeting this week with the former guy, if you needed further proof that he’s a fool.  If Scott and DeSantis are the best that the GOP has to offer, then it’s no damn wonder they feel they have to take our right to vote away from us, for anybody with half a brain ain’t gonna vote for these two fools!


Meanwhile, back from Cancún

And another bloomin’ fool, though this one is from Texas … none other than the ignoble Senator Ted Cruz … you remember, the guy who took off for the warm beaches of Cancún last month while the people of his state were freezing to death?  Well, after that little fiasco, I predicted that his political career would be over, but it seems he’s found a way to revive it … not a legal or moral way, but when has that ever mattered to Cruz?

His latest scheme to fundraise for his next campaign is to autograph Dr. Seuss books … for a donation of $60 per book!  Who in their right mind would pay $60 for Ted Cruz scrawl on a book that he didn’t even write???  This strikes me as the worst form of plagiarism!  In an email sent to prospective donors, Cruz says that he will personally autograph a copy of “Green Eggs and Ham” in exchange for a $60 campaign contribution.

“Look at this as your 2021 “cancel culture collectible from Team Cruz … it will be a great conversation piece.”

I suppose it’s not quite as bad as the former guy autographing bibles a few years ago.  Seems there is no low to which these guys won’t stoop.


Give the man a big, fat “F”!

Louis DeJoy is still Postmaster General, though hopefully not for much longer else I’m going to go bash his head in myself.  I’ve written enough times about this conniving man and his attempt to completely destroy the United States Postal Service, so I don’t need to remind you.

Yesterday, testifying before the House Appropriations subcommittee on financial service, DeJoy asked for additional funding … get a load of this … to slow the mail down even more than it already is!  Oh, and he still plans to raise the price to mail a letter or a package.  Hell, I could walk a card to the UK quicker than the USPS can get it there, and a hell of a lot cheaper!

But that’s not even the very worst of it.  When asked by Representative Mark Pocan to assign himself a grade for his 10 months in office, DeJoy awarded himself an “A” for “bringing strategy and planning and effort.”  Seriously???  My damn package took nearly two months to get from here to Wales even after I paid extra for expedited shipping, and he calls that ‘strategy’???

Pocan shot back that service declines, including historically poor on-time delivery rates during the holiday season, were hardly deserving of high marks.  DeJoy must go, and I don’t really care at all how we get rid of him … as long as he goes and somebody competent and honest replaces him!

Rats Deserting A Sinking Ship?

Five Republican senators have announced that they will not run for re-election next year.  They are Rob Portman (Ohio), Richard Burr (North Carolina), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania), Richard Shelby (Alabama), and Roy Blunt (Missouri).  I found the reason Burr gave for his decision to retire particularly interesting:

“I think the country in the last decade or so has sort of fallen off the edge, with too many politicians saying, ‘If you vote for me I’ll never compromise on anything,’ and the failure to do that — that’s a philosophy that particularly does not work in a democracy. We’ve seen too much of it in our politics today at all levels, and rather than spending a lot of time saying what I’d never do, I’d spend more time saying what I’d try to do and be willing to move as far in the direction of that goal as you possibly could rather than saying, ‘I’ll never do this.’ ”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what he’s talking about.

Rob Portman is one of the more reasonable Republicans in the Senate, if any can be said to be reasonable, and his stated reason for retiring was …

“… honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision.”

I wasn’t too concerned about Portman’s retirement until this morning when I read that none other than Geraldo Rivera is strongly considering running to replace Portman next year.  I see this as a sign that our Congress is turning into a three-ring circus and has been ever since the former guy, who was far from presidential material and more of a circus act, took over the Oval Office in 2017.

Like the former guy, Rivera has zero qualifications for the job:  he is not an intellectual, he is not a thinker, he is not a humanitarian … he is an entertainer and not a particularly good one at that.  He is a sensationalist rather like Alex Jones or Sean Hannity, and in fact has worked for Fox for a number of years now.  The controversies surrounding Rivera are numerous, from giving away military secrets that got him expelled from Iraq, to shoving aside a woman so he could have a photo op.  But the one that made me the angriest was when he claimed on March 23rd 2012 that Trayvon Martin would not have been shot if he had not been wearing a hoodie.  No, this is not the ‘man’ I want to see replace Rob Portman in the U.S. Senate!

The five who are retiring constitutes 25% of the Republican senators up for re-election next year, and I won’t be surprised to see a few more decide it’s time to leave.  I think that sends a loud, clear message about the current state of the Republican Party.  What will be left will be the those who would turn the United States Congress into a spectacle that would rival anything Barnum & Bailey ever did.

From where I sit, it seems obvious that the time has come for the Republican Party to step back and assess their values, or lack thereof, to make some changes in their ideology rather than blindly throwing their lot in with entertainers who will do almost anything to stay in the limelight, to get attention.  This nation needs two viable political parties … competition is a good thing and leads to compromise that benefits everyone.  But instead of trying to improve the party, to remedy past mistakes, their tactic is to rob the people of this nation of their voice, their right to vote.  If that is the only way they can win elections, then they are already a failure.  Just like back in college, some find it easier to cheat than to study.

Some Good News, And A Mini-Rant

Let’s start with the good news today … the Senate confirmed Merrick Garland as Attorney General in a 70-30 vote!  This was the best news I’ve heard all week … maybe all month.  As Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois said …

“Attorney General Garland will lead the Department of Justice with honesty and integrity.  He has a big job ahead of him, but I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have in his place.”

I second that motion.  It’s been a while since we’ve had an honest person leading the Department of Justice and it will be a welcome relief.  Even Mitch McConnell played nice, saying …

“I’m voting to confirm Judge Garland because of his long reputation as a straight shooter and legal expert.”

Garland has said his first priority will be the investigation into the January 6th attacks on Congress by domestic terrorists, and to that end he is planning to meet this week with FBI Director, Christopher Wray, and with Michael R. Sherwin, the departing top prosecutor in Washington who has led the Justice Department inquiry.  But Garland has many more things on his plate, such as civil rights, police reform, and restoring the trust that has been missing under the last two Attorneys General, Jeff Sessions and William Barr.


And now that I’ve given you the good news, let’s move on to the bill currently passed by the House, For the People Act, aka HR1.

On February 26th, 1869, Congress passed the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The Amendment was ratified by the people on February 3rd of the following year.  Sections 1 and 2 read …

Section 1

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2

The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The language is straightforward … even s 5-year-old child could understand it.  So WHY do we have 43 states doing the very thing that they are forbidden under the Constitution to do???  What the hell is so difficult to understand here?

Why should Congress have to pass a bill to do exactly what has been the law under the Constitution for 151 years now?  It isn’t rocket science to figure that every citizen of this country has the right to vote in elections!  It’s actually pretty much common sense!  Here is a rundown of what HR1 contains:

  • A set of national voter registration and mail-in voting standards
  • Nonpartisan redistricting commissions
  • Big changes in campaign finance law (long overdue!)
  • New ethics rules for public servants
  • A requirement that presidential candidates disclose their tax returns

I think that the last few years have shown us how critical those last two are.  It should also be noted that Mr. Lee is facing a re-election next year.  But the biggest issue the congressional republicans seem to have is setting federal standards for voter registration and postal voting.  Why?  Because, my friends, if every eligible voter actually votes, the Republicans will get only crumbs.  They are not wildly popular these days among Blacks, Hispanics, women, LGBT people, or basically anybody who cares more about people than money.  They have to cheat in order to win, and if what the do is unconstitutional … they really don’t care.

I was incensed yesterday when I read what Senator Mike Lee from Utah said about HR1 …

“I think I disagree with every single word in HR1, including the words ‘but,’ ‘and,’ and ‘the.’ Everything about this bill is rotten to the core. This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself. This takes all sorts of decisions that the federal government really has no business making. It takes them away from the states, makes them right here in Washington D.C. by Congress.

Apparently in an effort to ensure an institutionally, revolutionary-democratic party of sorts. One that can remain in power for many decades to come. It does this by taking away these decisions. Elections in America have always been conducted at the state and local levels…

They are completely flipping that principal on its head so that all these things can be micromanaged from Washington. That’s wrong. That’s really wrong, it’s bad policy. As much as anything else, it’s wildly unconstitutional.”

I wonder if Mr. Lee has read the U.S. Constitution?  It should also be noted that Mr. Lee is facing re-election next year.  The argument republicans are making against HR1 is that it takes election laws out of the states’ hands and puts them in federal control.  Another day, under other circumstances, I might back that argument, but this time my response is that since the states are attempting to disenfranchise half the voters, they’ve lost the privilege of making their own election laws.  Period.  As I’ve said at least a few million times, ‘rights’ come with responsibilities and the states … at least 43 of them … are shirking their responsibilities to We the People and We the People are not going to stand for it anymore!

We should not need federal legislation to force states to allow every eligible person to vote, but because this nation has shown a desire to return to the days of Jim Crow, we do need it.  It’s a sad statement about some of the people in this nation that they still think it’s okay to treat those who don’t look, act, or believe exactly like them as second-class citizens.  A sad statement that makes me ashamed of this country, ashamed to be a part of it.

The Republican Party has proven three things to me:  they are not honest, they do not care about the people of this country, and they are blatant racists.  Yes, that’s a broad brush … go ahead, Senate republicans … prove me wrong!  I dare you!  Do the right thing, don’t filibuster HR1 but give it a fair and fighting chance, or better yet, vote “aye” instead of “nay” on the bill and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll apologize for what I said.

Where Are We With Biden’s Cabinet Nominees?

Last week I fully intended to write a post about the status of Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees — who has been confirmed, who hasn’t, etc., but as often happens, my best-laid plans go astray.  This morning I logged on and one of the first things I saw was that TokyoSand has done an assessment and also added some enlightening information, so … again, why re-invent the wheel when she’s done such an excellent job of it?  Thank you, TS!

A quick rundown on President Biden’s Cabinet nominees. Who has been confirmed, who has been approved but not yet received a vote, and who is still stuck in committee.

Between a slow transition thanks to the feet dragging of the previous administration, the second impeachment trial, and then the negotiations to get the American Rescue Plan (COVID relief bill) passed — (pausing to celebrate that achievement!!!) — the Senate has gotten fairly behind getting all of President Biden’s Cabinet positions confirmed.

Normally, a month into a President’s first term, the average is to have about 84% of the Cabinet confirmed. (source) But with Biden, we’ve only seen 13 out of the 23 confirmed, which is only 56%. That said, his Cabinet is already shaping up to be the most diverse in our nation’s history.

View entire post

The Rich Get Richer While The Poor …

The minimum wage increase to $15 per hour is essentially dead in the water … for the moment.  I saw a comment from a woman in the state of Washington that every member of Congress should be forced to answer …

“I live in Eastern Washington state and we are fortunate to have a much higher minimum wage for our workers. Our neighbors in Idaho are not so lucky. Many people who are able to live in Idaho work in Washington to benefit from the higher wage. The wage a person earns should be equal to the amount of effort that is required to do the work. I would really like to know though why our politicians think they deserve to make so much money. They say they care about the average worker and want a better life for all Americans, but when was the last time they tried to live on minimum wage?”

She makes excellent points, especially when you consider the fact that nearly half the members of Congress are millionaires!  Many members of Congress live in wealthy enclaves, use expensive healthcare services, and send their children to private or high-income schools.  Never once in their lives have they had to put something back at the grocery store because the total came to more than they had.  Never once have they had to make a choice between paying the rent or the electric bill.  Never once have they lived, even for a single week, in poverty.  Never once have they watched through tear-filled eyes as the repo man took their car away.  And yet, these are the people who make the decisions about our lives.

The current minimum wage of $7.25 equates to $15,080 per year.  The lowest paid member of Congress ‘earns’ $174,000 per year, which equates to $83.65 per hour, or 12 times what the minimum wage earner makes.  Think about that one for a few minutes.

Time in Washington is disproportionately spent fixated on the needs and desires of America’s wealthiest citizens, for they are the donors on which politicians’ campaigns rely.  I have said before that I think every candidate running for a seat in Congress should have to spend one full month in public housing, paid $7.25 per hour for a 40-hour week, and have zero access to their own money or resources.  I think it would be a tremendous eye-opener for many who have spent far too long in ivory towers and cannot possibly understand the challenges most of us face every day.

Amazing, isn’t it, that with the country deep in debt ($28 trillion), Congress was able to find it in their hearts to pass a tax cut benefiting almost exclusively the wealthy, but they cannot find it in their heart to increase the minimum wage that has remained stagnant for twelve years now, despite consistent increases in the cost of living!

Today, the Senate began debate on the pandemic relief bill that was passed by the House on Wednesday night.  The bill would provide a payment of $1,400 to individuals earning under $75,000 and families earning under $150,000.  Personally, I think those limits are too high and it should be reserved for those who are truly struggling … a family earning $150,000 is hardly struggling.  But to the point, the republicans in the Senate are against the bill, they want it to be far less, saying that the economy is coming back, people are going back to work, therefore they don’t need that much.  Tell that to the mother of three who is about to be evicted from her home because she can’t pay the rent!

Republican senators plan to delay passage of the bill by proposing numerous amendments, forcing valuable time to be spent debating each amendment, then voting on it.  Yesterday, thanks to Senator Ron Johnson, valuable time was wasted by forcing clerks to read the entire 628-page bill aloud to an audience of one – Senator Johnson.  Some people, meanwhile, cannot pay their electric bill and are in danger of having their electricity shut off.  The 535 members of Congress have never been in that situation and therefore cannot comprehend what it’s like.  I have been there and worse, and likely many of you have been too, but the people we elect and whose salaries we pay have no idea what being poor means.  They are blind to how the people they say they represent live, and yet they arrogantly say that $7.25 is enough for a family to live on, that the same family does not need a $1,400 stimulus payment.

A word of caution to members of Congress in both parties – keep up the delaying tactics, keep pushing the poor further and further into poverty, and there will be a price to pay.  Enough is enough, and We the People are sick of their greed and arrogance at our expense.  Some claim the U.S. is a democracy – it isn’t.  It is a plutocracy:  government by the wealthy.

We The People Lose Again! Thanks, Senators!

There was, for a time, a brief glimmer of hope that the federal minimum wage rate would be raised to a living wage of $15 per hour.  That hope has now had a stake driven through its heart and is DOA – Dead On Arrival.  Why?  I could offer up a lot of reasons, such as the Senate Parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has deemed it isn’t appropriate to tie the minimum wage to the coronavirus relief bill, but the bottom line is that it won’t fly because … the Republicans in Congress don’t want it to.

Note that some 75% of the people in this nation do want the minimum wage rate increased, and that includes 62% of Republican voters.  Also note that it has remained stagnant since 2009, twelve long years, while inflation has not.  But, of late, the Republicans in Congress do not choose to represent their constituents, the people of this country, but rather their wealthy donors, most of whom are corporate bigwigs who, quite simply, don’t want to be forced to pay their employees more than the $7.25 some of them now pay.  Here’s another way of looking at it:  If the minimum wage rate had been increased by only 65 cents each year since 2009, it would now be over $15 per hour.  Just 65 cents per year!

Still, with a tied Senate, and the tiebreaker being Vice President Kamala Harris, one might foolishly think that any piece of legislation raising the minimum wage, could be passed.  And it could, but for one little word:  filibuster.

A brief explanation of what the filibuster is:

Senators have two options when they seek to vote on a measure or motion. Most often, the majority leader (or another senator) seeks “unanimous consent,” asking if any of the 100 senators objects to ending debate and moving to a vote. If no objection is heard, the Senate proceeds to a vote. If the majority leader can’t secure the consent of all 100 senators, the leader (or another senator) typically files a cloture motion, which then requires 60 votes to adopt. If fewer than 60 senators—a supermajority of the chamber—support cloture, that’s when we often say that a measure has been filibustered. 

Senators who are against the bill being considered, but know their views are not shared by a simple majority, will refuse to end debate simply to force a filibuster, or a supermajority requirement for passage of the motion.  Rarely will you see a situation in an equally divided Senate where 60 of the 100 will agree on any damn thing!  But there are options, as New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie explains in his recent newsletter …


jamelle-bouie

The Senate has bound itself with fake restraints

By Jamelle Bouie

Opinion Columnist

I know I am more than a little obsessed with the Senate filibuster. But my preoccupation is not without reason. I think the filibuster — or to be precise, the de facto supermajority requirement for legislation in the Senate — is both bad on the merits and a symbol of the sclerotic dysfunction of our Congress.

In the face of multiple, overlapping crises — and at least one long-term existential crisis — our elected officials refuse to act, much less take steps that would give them freedom of movement in the legislature. Instead, they hide behind rules and procedure, as if they are powerless to change both.

All of this is apropos of the news that the Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has ruled a proposed federal minimum wage hike as non-germane to the Covid relief reconciliation bill. Her ruling is not binding, but Vice President Kamala Harris, who also serves as president of the Senate, will abide by it. This means that if the Senate wants to increase the minimum wage, it will have to do so through ordinary legislation, making it subject to the supermajority requirement.

That means it isn’t going to happen, at least not anytime soon, but the point I want to make is that these are fake constraints. The Senate determines whether it will abide by the parliamentarian, and the Senate decides whether it wants to operate by supermajority. The Senate, and its Democratic members in particular, are handcuffing themselves and reneging on their promise to millions of American workers.

That Democrats are doing it to maintain their fragile coalition — to keep Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema from sinking the entire package — is only a testament to how these fake constraints render the entire process of lawmaking a farce. I would rather the Senate take a simple up or down vote, and for individual lawmakers to show where they stand, than listen to some of the most powerful people in the country explain why they are bound by rules they could change at any time, for any reason at all.

Related to this, I want to share this 2010 Connecticut Law Review article titled “The Unconstitutionality of the Filibuster,” by the congressional scholar Josh Chafetz. The key point is this: A Constitution written in the name of “We the people” is necessarily one that cannot abide a supermajority requirement for the ordinary business of lawmaking. Here’s Chafetz:

The mere fact that our Constitution has some anti-majoritarian elements should not serve as a bootstrap by which any anti-majoritarian device is made constitutionally legitimate. … Rather than use some deviations from majoritarianism to justify still others, we should take note of the essential popular sovereignty foundations of our Constitution and insist that, in such a polity, minority veto cannot be piled atop minority veto indefinitely. The Constitution — our higher law — specifies certain deviations from majoritarianism. But the exceptions should not be allowed to swallow the rule, nor should antimajoritarian devices in higher law be used to justify antimajoritarian devices in ordinary law.

We can have a supermajority requirement for legislation or we can have meaningful self-government. We can’t have both.