For The People Act Cannot Die — Here’s Why

After the Census Bureau released detailed population and demographic data from the 2020 census yesterday, states and local governments are set to begin the once-a-decade process of drawing new voting district boundaries known as redistricting. And gerrymandering — when those boundaries are drawn with the intention of influencing who gets elected — is bound to follow.

The current redistricting cycle will be the first since the Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling that gerrymandering for party advantage cannot be challenged in federal court, which has set the stage for perhaps the most ominous round of map drawing in the country’s history.

In the unlikely event that the For the People Act passes the Senate, gerrymandering will be relegated to the annals of history, but since that is about as likely as me growing a pair of wings and flying far, far away, I will take this opportunity to redux my explanation of gerrymandering from a post I did back in 2019:

Gerrymandering, for any who may be unclear on precisely what the term means, is a means of re-drawing district maps to manipulate the boundaries in order to favour one party over the other.  The Washington Post published an excellent article explaining the process  back in March 2015  that I urge you to take a look at.  The graphic below, taken from that article, provides a pretty good visual explanation.

Every 10 years, states redraw their legislative and congressional district lines following the census. Because communities change, redistricting is critical to our democracy: maps must be redrawn to ensure that districts are equally populated, comply with laws such as the Voting Rights Act, and are otherwise representative of a state’s population. Done right, redistricting is a chance to create maps that, in the words of John Adams, are an “exact portrait, a miniature” of the people as a whole.

Trouble is, it is almost never ‘done right’.

While legislative and congressional district shapes may look wildly different from state to state, most attempts to gerrymander can best be understood through the lens of two basic techniques: cracking and packing.

Cracking splits groups of people with similar characteristics, such as voters of the same party affiliation, or perhaps the same … skin colour … across multiple districts. With their voting strength divided and diluted, these groups struggle to elect their preferred candidates in any of the districts.

Packing is the opposite of cracking: map drawers cram certain groups of voters into as few districts as possible. In these few districts, the “packed” groups are likely to elect their preferred candidates, but the groups’ voting strength is weakened everywhere else.

While historically both parties have used gerrymandering to their advantage, today it is largely the Republicans who do so in order to disenfranchise certain groups, among them Blacks, the elderly, college students, and the working poor.  Now, coupled with the blatant voter suppression laws that are being proposed and legislated in 42 of the 50 states, and … well, you can see the problem.  Black people’s voices will be diluted, as will the elderly and others, while white Christians will have their voices amplified.  One piece of legislation can halt both voter suppression laws and gerrymandering in their tracks:  the For the People Act.

In a nutshell, this bill, which has already passed in the House of Representatives and is lying dormant in the Senate today, will …

  • Make it easier for every eligible voter to register to vote
  • Make it easier for every registered voter to vote
  • Make election day a public holiday
  • Ban partisan gerrymandering by prohibiting adoption of any map that has the intent or effect of “unduly favoring or disfavoring” one political party over another
  • Require that congressional redistricting be transparent and participatory, with open meetings and public hearings, opportunities for the public to review and comment on proposed maps
  • Require that states carry out congressional redistricting using independent commissions that:
    • prohibit current and recent lawmakers, staff, and lobbyists and others with conflicts of interest from serving on the commission;
    • include an equal number of Republican, Democratic, and unaffiliated or third-party members selected through a rigorous screening process, with voting rules designed to ensure that maps can pass only with support from all three groups; and
    • include members who are representative of the state’s demographic makeup and different geographic regions, with enough members from racial, ethnic, and language minorities to give those groups a meaningful opportunity to participate in the redistricting process

There is much, much more in this bill that would bring equity and fairness back into our election process, and I do plan to cover more of it in the near future, but … the bill is on the chopping block and desperately needs to be resuscitated.  It is subject to the senate filibuster, an archaic, racist tool that is used by the minority party to keep legislation they don’t like from ever passing any legislation.  In this case, however, We the People need to step up to the plate, we need to fight tooth and nail to get this legislation passed!  This may, in fact, be the single most important bill on the docket of this Congress — even more crucial than the infrastructure bill.

Why, exactly, don’t the Republicans want to allow the For the People Act to see the light of day?  Because in a fair and honest election, few Republicans would stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected.  Ever since they showed their racist side in response to a Black man being elected president, and then backed a raving madman with zero qualifications for the presidency in 2016, the Republican Party has been on a downhill path, eschewing sound policymaking and instead engaging in lies, cheating, conspiracy theories, and such nefarious practices to win elections.  In 2016, their hero lost by 2.8 million votes, but due to gerrymandered districts, was placed in the Oval Office by the Electoral College.  The minority ruled.  Last year, that same hero lost by more than 7 million votes, and the Republicans are determined not to allow that to happen again, even if it means stopping the votes of the majority.  And if all else fails, there is little doubt in my mind that they will have a ‘Plan B’, likely something along the lines of what happened on January 6th.

If we care at all about this nation, if we care about how our government spends our hard-earned tax dollars and how they treat people, then we must DEMAND that the Senate pass this damn bill!!!  Otherwise, welcome to the Plutocracy of the dis-United States.

The Good, The Bad, And The … Funny!

I vaguely remember the days, back before the year 2016, when I went to bed at night feeling safe and secure.  I can almost remember the days when I didn’t automatically associate the word “Republican” with hatred, racism, greed, cruelty, cheating, lying, and obnoxious.  Ahhhhh … those were the good ol’ days!  Long story short, I have more snark built up since my last snippets post, so … let me share just a few with you!


Kiran Ahuja has a new job!

On Tuesday, the Senate voted on President Biden’s nominee for the Office of Personnel Management, Kiran Ahuja.  Ultimately Ms. Ahuja, a civil rights lawyer and veteran of the Obama administration, was confirmed, but only after Vice-President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote, because not one single Republican was willing to vote to confirm her.  Why?  Well, for one thing she is an Indian-born immigrant.  According to Josh Hawley – you remember him, the guy who did a fist pump in a show of solidarity with the terrorists who attacked the Capitol on January 6th

“I’m concerned that as the federal government’s H.R. director, Ms. Ahuja could use her platform to promote radical ideologies that seek to divide rather than unite the American people. She could bring critical race theory back into federal government training.”

GASP!!!  She could … require sensitivity training by those who make hiring decisions for the federal government!  Oh, wouldn’t it be awful to teach people that it is wrong to discriminate!  She could actually insist that hiring decisions be based on the skill level of the applicants rather than the colour of their skin!

Apparently, the congressional Republicans want an all-white cabinet, and the difficulty of Ms. Ahuja’s appointment was not the first sign of trouble.

Shortly after taking office, President Biden nominated Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Ms. Tanden is also Indian American, and this time, Biden pulled her nomination once Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (yes, he of filibuster and voter suppression fame) made it clear he would not vote to confirm her.  However last month, the President appointed her to be a senior White House advisor, a position for which no senate confirmation is necessary.  Take that, Republicans … and Republican wannabe Manchin!

And then, there was Deb Haaland, a Native American who was chosen to be Secretary of the Interior, a department that has a long history of being used as a tool of oppression against America’s Indigenous peoples.  Ms. Haaland was ultimately confirmed in March, but only after being grilled at length as Republicans tried to paint her as a radical.  Said Republican Senator Steve Daines from Montana …

“I’m deeply concerned with the congresswoman’s support on several radical issues that will hurt Montana, our way of life, our jobs and rural America.”

Um, Mr. Daines … the population of Montana is less than 1% of the population of this country … put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I am very thrilled that the Biden cabinet looks much different than that of the former guy, that there is diversity and qualified people with experience making the everyday decisions that affect our lives.  I sincerely hope that I never see the day when there is a Republican president and a Republican majority in the Senate again, for all this progress would likely be undone within a matter of a few weeks.


But there was a big, bright spot today!

Judge Peter A. Cahill sentenced former police officer Derek Chauvin to 22.5 years for the murder of George Floyd.  This sentence will not bring Mr. Floyd back to life, but … it is consequential, and I am very pleased.  This is very nearly the longest sentence any police officer has received in this country for unnecessary killing in the line of duty and it is long past due.  It is, to the best of my knowledge, the longest sentence given to an officer for the murder of an unarmed Black person.

Shortly after reading the sentence from the bench, Judge Cahill issued a 22-page memorandum about his decision, writing, “Part of the mission of the Minneapolis Police Department is to give citizens ‘voice and respect.’” But Mr. Chauvin, the judge wrote, had instead “treated Mr. Floyd without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings and which he certainly would have extended to a friend or neighbor.”

The maximum sentence possible would have been 40 years, and the presumptive sentence would have been 12.5 years.  I think the main thing to take away from this sentencing is that it sends a strong message to police officers that the blanket concept of ‘qualified immunity’ isn’t going to protect you when you use excessive force, that times are changing and police, just like anybody else, can be held accountable for their actions.

In the end, Judge Cahill said two “aggravating factors” had affected his decision to sentence Mr. Chauvin to more than 22 years: Mr. Chauvin had acted with particular cruelty, the judge said, and had abused his authority as an officer of the law.  This needs to become the rule, not the exception!  Mr. Chauvin, who is currently 45 years of age, will likely be eligible for parole after serving 2/3 of his sentence, or in about 15 years.


For the People … yeah, right

I am still furious over the Senate Republicans’ unanimous vote to deny even debate on the For the People Act that would have ensured our rights to vote, despite nearly every state in the nation attempting to suppress that right.  But yesterday, there was a glimmer of hope.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that the U.S. Justice Department is suing the state of Georgia over its new voting law, saying that the controversial measure is intended to restrict ballot access to Black voters.  In his news conference yesterday, AG Garland said …

“Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”

Thumbs up to the Attorney General!  👍 👍

The bill, SB202, has already passed the Georgia State Legislature and been signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp.  In effect, it makes sweeping changes to the state’s absentee voting rules, adds new voter identification mandates and nearly cuts in half the amount of time for voters to request a mail-in ballot.  It also outlaws passing out food or drinks to voters within 150 feet of a polling place or too close to voters waiting in line.

These voter suppression tactics, while aimed largely at Blacks, will also negatively impact Hispanics, working mothers, the elderly, college students, and the poor.  I sincerely hope that the Justice Departments case wins the day, thereby sending messages to other states, but my best guess is that more lawsuits will be required.

Y’know … We the People have a lot of rights per the U.S. Constitution, but I think perhaps there is none more important than our right to vote, to have a voice in our government.


Late night host/comedian Stephen Colbert talked a bit about the travesty of justice regarding the For the People Act, as well as a number of other issues I’ve written about recently, and his monologue actually brought a laugh gurgling up from my throat, so I hope you’ll check it out and maybe you’ll laugh too!

Open Letter To Every Republican Senator

Dear Republican Senator …

YOU had the unique opportunity to pass legislation that would have protected mine and others’ right to vote for the foreseeable future, and you stupidly passed up that opportunity for reasons that are completely incomprehensible to me and my fellow citizens.

When you took that Oath of Office and swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, did you think it was a joke?  Did you think you were just saying words that had no meaning, that carried no responsibility?  Why did you even run for office if you had no intention of acting in the best interests of the nation and the people who live here, who work their asses off to survive and pay their taxes so that you can be paid every month?  It appears to me that you did not run for office because you wanted to help this nation or the people, but only so you could take donations from wealthy corporations to feather your own nest.

You, Senator, do not deserve the position you hold, the office you occupy.  The people who you have caused grievous harm to are people like me … the elderly, college students, Black and Hispanic people, and single working mothers.

I sincerely hope that one way or another, you are forced out of the United States Senate and soon, for you have let the people of this country down, you have been derelict in your duties, and you are a greedy, racist person who I have lost any respect I once had for.  I do not respect you or any of your republican cohorts in the United States Congress.  You failed miserably today, and you have no excuse … not a single one of you even voted to debate the bill!  Do you really hate the people you represent that much such that you will not even spend a few hours considering protecting our rights?

I expect a reply to this letter … it is the very least that you can do, since you have robbed me of my constitutional rights and made me wish I lived anywhere but this ‘shithole country.’

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison – citizen, taxpayer, VOTER

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.