Another Highly UNqualified Candidate!

When, somewhere in the early years of my political/constitutional education, I learned that there are virtually no requirements to run for and hold most public offices, such as president, senator, representative, I was appalled!  What?  No requirement that they even studied Constitutional Law, or have any combination of education/experience relevant to the job they seek?  The only requirements are related to age, citizenship, and domicile, not to whether they have the necessary knowledge to do the job!

We have seen the results of this oversight lately in such congressional newbies as Margie Greene, and Lauren Boebert.  Greene has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and her only career experience prior to winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives was as a gym owner and trainer.  Boebert dropped out of high school and her career consists of working at McDonald’s and later owning a restaurant called Shooters, where the wait staff all carry guns.  These two do not belong in Congress, but there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prevents it.  And now, we have on the horizon one who is equally unqualified and distasteful, a former athlete named Herschel Walker.

Herschel Walker did go to college, but it appears that his only goal was sports and to pursue a sports career, for he dropped out without graduating and went on to join the United States Football League, and later the NFL.  I gather he was a very good athlete, and I give him kudos for that, but … he has absolutely nothing that would qualify him for a seat in the United States Senate!  Yet that is exactly what he’s vying for, challenging the incumbent senator, Ralph Warnock, for his seat this November.  From everything I’ve read, Walker is an arrogant man, believing that playing football, having a black belt in taekwondo, and having competed in the Olympic bobsled competition somehow mean he should be voted into a senate seat.  This would be akin to me saying that I’m qualified to be the Queen of Poland because I can speak Spanish!  (For the record, they speak Polish, not Spanish, in Poland, and they don’t have a Queen)

Now, not only is Mr. Walker highly unqualified for the senate, but he should be disqualified for some of his antics.  He has been a staunch supporter of the Big Lie, even spreading numerous conspiracy theories about the election.  He also said of the January 6th attempted coup that it was a “well planned” distraction from election fraud.

But Mr. Walker does have one qualification that is requisite for today’s Republican Party, and that is that he is a consummate liar.  He falsely claimed that he had graduated from the University of Georgia, and in the top 1% of his class, when in fact he dropped out a year short of completion.  He has a history of exaggerating the number of people employed by his companies and the assets held by his companies, and the failure of several business enterprises led to creditors bringing lawsuits.  He has claimed that he was once a police officer for the Cobb County Police Department, and also that he was once an FBI agent.  Neither one is true.

He also seems to have a very short fuse.  In 2001, he took a gun to chase a man who was late delivering a car.  Also in 2001 his wife filed for divorce, claiming he had been “physically abusive and extremely threatening.”  She said that Walker pointed a pistol at her head and said, “I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out.” She also said he had used knives to threaten her.  In 2005, a restraining order was imposed on Walker regarding his wife, after her sister stated in an affidavit that Walker told her “unequivocally that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her boyfriend in the head.”

Now for the real kicker … Herschel Walker and Senator Ralph Warnock are tied neck-in-neck in the race for the U.S. Senate seat representing Georgia.  TIED!!!  Ralph Warnock is a good man by all accounts, an honest man, a man of integrity.  How can there be any question of who is best qualified?  But then, this is Georgia, the state that also sent us the QAnon supporter, conspiracy theorist Margie Greene.  🙄

C’mon, people … is this really the kind of crap you want sitting in our Senate, making the decisions that will affect the lives of every person in this country???  Surely even the Republicans cannot condone a person like this … can they?  Is this an example of the new Republican Party since they swore their oath of fealty to the former guy?  Conservative columnist Michael Gerson was spot on when he said that the GOP is a party in decay.  Herschel Walker is but one of the many examples that prove it.

Close The Road From Senate To Oval Office?

There are a few conservative journalists who speak with a rational, intellectual voice and George Will is among them.  He left the Republican Party in 2016, for reasons that should be obvious to us all.  In his latest piece, he suggests we need a constitutional amendment to bar senators from ever running for president.  I’m not sure that I agree completely with him, for if our presidents don’t come from the Senate, then where?  But, he makes some valid and interesting points, and it does often seem that members of Congress spend more time campaigning for their next job than they spend doing their current job. Take a look and see what you think …


Amend the Constitution to bar senators from the presidency

By George F. Will, 27 April 2022

To conserve the reverence it needs and deserves, the Constitution should be amended rarely and reluctantly. There is, however, an amendment that would instantly improve the legislative and executive branches. It would read: “No senator or former senator shall be eligible to be president.”

Seventeen presidents were previously senators. Seven of them – Harding, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Biden — became senators after 1913, when the 17th Amendment took the selection of senators away from state legislatures. The federal government’s growth, and the national media’s focus on Washington, has increased the prominence of senators eager for prominence, although it often is the prominence of a ship’s figurehead — decorative, not functional. As president-centric government has waxed, the Senate has waned, becoming increasingly a theater of performative behaviors by senators who are decreasingly interested in legislating, and are increasingly preoccupied with using social media for self-promotion.

In Jonathan Haidt’s recent essay for the Atlantic, “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid,” the New York University social psychologist says social media users by the millions have become comfortable and adept at “putting on performances” for strangers. So have too many senators. Haidt says social media elicits “our most moralistic and least reflective selves,” fueling the “twitchy and explosive spread of anger.”

The Founders feared such incitements, long before social media arrived.

Politicians, and especially senators with presidential ambitions and time on their hands, use social media to practice what Alexander Hamilton deplored (in Federalist 68) as “the little arts of popularity.” Such senators, like millions of Americans, use social media to express and encourage anger about this and that. Anger, like other popular pleasures, can be addictive, particularly if it supplies the default vocabulary for social media.

Today, the gruesome possibility of a 2024 Biden-Trump rematch underscores a Hamilton misjudgment: He said in Federalist 68 there is a “constant probability” of presidents “pre-eminent for ability and virtue.” Banning senators from the presidency would increase the probability of having senators who are interested in being senators, and would increase the probability of avoiding:

Presidents who have never run anything larger than a Senate office. Who have confused striking poses — in the Capitol, on Twitter — with governing. Who have delegated legislative powers to the executive — for example, who have passed sentiment-affirmations masquerading as laws: Hurray for education and the environment; the executive branch shall fill in the details.

And who have been comfortable running the government on continuing resolutions (at existing funding levels) because Congress is incapable of budgeting. There have been 128 CRs in the previous 25 fiscal years — 41 since 2012. Why look for presidents among senators, who have made irresponsibility routine?

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee debate on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court on April 4. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The 328 senators of the previous 50 years have illustrated the tyranny of the bell-shaped curve: a few of them dreadful, a few excellent, most mediocre. Although Josh Hawley, Missouri’s freshman Republican, might not be worse than all the other 327, he exemplifies the worst about would-be presidents incubated in the Senate. Arriving there in January 2019, he hit the ground running — away from the Senate. Twenty-four months later, he was the principal catalyst of the attempted nullification of the presidential election preceding the one that he hopes will elevate him. Nimbly clambering aboard every passing bandwagon that can carry him to the Fox News greenroom, he treats the Senate as a mere steppingstone for his ascent to an office commensurate with his estimate of his talents.

The constitutional equilibrium of checks and balances depends on a rivalrous relationship between the executive branch and houses of Congress that are mutually jealous of their powers. “The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place,” and government will be controlled by “this policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives” (James Madison, Federalist 51).

This institutional architecture has, however, been largely vitiated by party loyalties: Congressional members of the president’s party behave as his subservient teammates; members of the opposing party act as reflexive opposers. This changes the role of the House, whose members are generally not so telegenic and are more regimented, less than it does the role of the Senate, which degenerates into an arena of gestures, hence an incubator of would-be presidents.

One of today’s exemplary senators, Mitt Romney, surely is such partly because, his presidential ambitions retired, he nevertheless wants to be a senator. Were all persons with presidential ambitions deterred from becoming senators, this probably would improve the caliber of senators, and of presidents, and the equilibrium between the political branches.

A Few Grumblings & Grousings

My motivation is skating on thin ice the last day or two, probably because I’m not sleeping well and thus not feeling at the top of my game.  But a few snippets came to me yesterday that I thought to share …


France’s very own Trumpian figure …

Marine LePen is back.  In case you’ve forgotten, she was the right-wing populist candidate who ran for president of France back in 2017 and lost to Emmanuel Macron, gaining only 33.9% of the vote.  LePen is much like other populist candidates including Trump … she talks a good talk, says what she believes people want to hear, but has no plan of action and much of what she promises is simply un-doable in a democracy.  Just as when Trump was defeated in the 2020 election and I expected (hoped) he would disappear into oblivioun, I hoped the same for LePen after the 2017 French election.  But, like Trump, like a bad penny, she has stuck around and is now … yep, you guessed it … running against Macron yet again this year.

I’ve heard the populist agenda so much that I could almost write the script:  harsh restrictions on immigration, nationalism (“America” or “France” First), tax cuts, increases to people’s pensions, etc.  The reality is that none of this is simple, much of it is both undesirable and counter-productive.  This IS a global world now, not one where individual nations can safely or productively stand alone as LePen, Bolsonaro (Brazil) or Trump would like to portray it.

The election in France is being held today, and the likelihood is that there will be no clear winner, meaning a run-off election will be held on April 24th.  Currently, most pollsters project Macron to win at that time, albeit by a slim margin that seems to get slimmer day-by-day.  For the sake of the people of France, but also for the sake of the larger world, I hope Ms. LePen is trounced once and for all and goes back into whatever hole she crawled out of!


Back here in the U.S. …

Of late, a number of highly unqualified people have run for congressional seats … some have even won, like Margie Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Madison Cawthorn.  In the upcoming mid-term elections, there are at least two that stand out like sore thumbs:  “Dr.” Oz, and J.D. Vance.  Let’s follow the yellow brick road and start with Oz …

Dr. Mehmet Oz is a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon.  That said, his days of practicing serious medicine in order to save lives are long since forgotten.  In the days since, he has pushed misleading, science-free and unproven alternative therapies such as homeopathy, as well as fad diets, detoxes and cleanses. Some of these things have been potentially harmful, including hydroxychloroquine, which he once touted would be beneficial in the treatment or prevention of COVID.  He has become a joke, a laughingstock, a media circus clown.  And now … he wants a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Oz is running as a Republican for Pennsylvania’s open US Senate seat.  What qualifications does he bring to the table?  None.  But then, this is 2022 when ‘qualifications’ are deemed irrelevant and persona is the test that must be passed to lure the voters.  Please, Pennsylvania … do not vote for this circus clown!

J.D. Vance is not a doctor, but rather a published author of exactly one book:  Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.  Not having read the book (and having no intention of doing so) I cannot critique his literary work, but I can address his run for the seat in the U.S. Senate being vacated by Ohio Senator Rob Portman.  His platform speaks for itself, including such things as ending women’s rights, ‘protecting’ second amendment ‘rights’, an “America First” foreign policy platform, and stiff restrictions on voting rights.

Handing Oz and Vance seats in the U.S. Senate would no doubt turn the Senate into as much of a clown show as the House of Representatives is today.  There was a time when I would have laughed, knowing that these two bozos weren’t going to get within 50 miles of the U.S. Capitol, but the populace of this nation has proven me wrong, has proven that the goofier, more outspoken and outrageous a candidate is, the more appealing he is to the uninformed masses.


And that’s it for now, folks, but I thought you might enjoy this clip from a very old … OLD … television show, What’s My Line, that Dan Rather sent in his daily email yesterday …

Wise Words From A … Republican?

It’s easy to become immune to the rantings and ramblings of one political party complaining about the words and actions of another.  Liberals, myself included, opined last week during the senate confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the ludicrous questions that were asked by senators on the right side of the aisle, and insinuations snidely made by the likes of Marsha Blackburn, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and others.  The selection of a Supreme Court justice should not hinge on petty partisan politics nor on personal grudges, racism, or other forms of bigotry.  So, when a man of intellect and a member of the Republican Party critiques the behaviour of those in his party, perhaps it’s time for the party members to sit up and take note.

Michael Gerson is a well-respected journalist and a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush … he is also a staunch conservative.  I don’t often agree with Gerson’s views, but I respect him for putting thought into his opinions rather than simply spouting from emotion in his column for The Washington Post.  One of his OpEd pieces last week caught my eye and I thought I would share it with you today, for his thoughts mirror my own — that the Republican Party is in need of a major overhaul …


The Jackson confirmation hearings show a Republican Party in decay

By Michael Gerson

Columnist

March 24, 2022 at 1:51 p.m. EDT

If the Senate’s current exercise of Supreme Court advice and consent needed a title, it might be “The puzzlement of Judge Jackson.”

When Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has fielded a question about the influence of critical race theory on children or has been asked, for the record, to define a woman, she has often reacted with a puzzled pause before offering a measured response. What must she be thinking? Should she advocate for sleeping infants rather than woke ones (a populist cause if ever there was one)? How current are Republican senators on their sex ed? Should she start with the birds and the bees?

Jackson’s performance during her confirmation hearing this week has been impressive for its restraint and general grace. But the deliberations of the Senate Judiciary Committee might be remembered for her understandable confusion about topics that make complete sense only among movement conservatives. On the evidence of Jackson’s most tenacious questioners, this is now what it takes to win prominence in the modern GOP: a quiver full of culture-war attacks and a stout willingness to look foolish in public.

It is sad and sobering to have seen the decline of the Supreme Court nomination process firsthand. I worked in the Senate in the 1980s and 1990s. When I wrote the floor statement of my conservative Republican boss, Sen. Dan Coats, supporting Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nomination, we were applying an older tradition of confirmation that looked mainly at disqualifications. Did the nominee lack integrity, impartiality or a judicial temperament? Had he or she violated any ethical or professional standards? The power of appointing Supreme Court justices was generally thought to reside in the executive branch. The president was given wide latitude. The Senate acted as a filter of unfitness.

In the post-Robert Bork era — after a lot of mutual recrimination and a period of adjustment and (sometimes) inconsistency — this undoubtedly changed. The focus of conservatives turned to judicial philosophy, particularly the constraints of originalism and textualism. This was the ascent of ideology, in which Republicans grew very comfortable criticizing judicial overreach. Everyone knew the real game was Roe v. Wade. But the standard of public judgment was provided by the Federalist Society. (Rather slyly, Jackson defused this debate during her hearing. “I am focusing on original public meaning because I’m constrained to interpret the text,” she said. This “adherence to the text is a constraint on my authority.”)

What we have seen among Republican senators this time around — with a few notable exceptions — is a departure from what preceded it. And it says far more about the state of the GOP than it does about the views of the nominee.

Jackson’s main Republican questioners are not focused on qualifications, temperament or even judicial theory. Their clear objective has been to trip up the nominee by asking about the latest Republican culture-war debates. It is surprising to me how little Republicans have emphasized judicial theory. For now, the culture war is all.

This is not just change; it is decay. Republicans have gone from arguing about the intent of the Founders to reproducing the night’s lineup of questions from Tucker Carlson.

This has, no doubt, been favorable to the judge’s confirmation. In the comparison of intellectual seriousness, Jackson is the clear winner. She is a responsible judge of moderate temperament, as well as an admirable human being, who will often do liberal things on the high court. What else could Republicans expect in this circumstance?

The GOP performance is particularly disturbing because it is not the direct result of incitement by Donald Trump. The former president does not lack for provocation. As a district court judge, Jackson joined in decisions that limited executive privilege. “Stated simply,” she wrote in November of 2019, “the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings. … This means that they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.”

No one has issued a more direct assault on the philosophic basis of Trumpism — that one former president should effectively be king. But Trump has said next to nothing about the Jackson nomination. Instead, he talks endlessly about the illegitimacy of the 2020 election. So the approach among the senators is moving on its own power and momentum within the Republican Party.

The MAGA world now has animating manias beyond Trump’s immediate priorities. The circus in the Senate is how ambitious elected Republicans understand the avenue to influence — with or without Trump’s direction. And they are probably reading the base of the GOP correctly. The problem, as usual, is deeper and greater than Trump. The shallowness and cynicism of the nomination process may well be previewing our political future.

The Bright Star Of The Confirmation Hearing

On Wednesday, after all the Republicans had finished their infantile attempts to tie Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to anything and everything that they could think of to tear down her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Senator Cory Booker, a Black senator from New Jersey, gave the speech that brought tears to Judge Jackson, to onlookers, and to me as I watched the video clip from his impassioned speech.  Here’s what one of my favourite columnists, Eugene Robinson, had to say about it in his column in The Washington Post, followed by a short clip from Booker’s speech.


Cory Booker cut through the GOP’s ugliness to celebrate Judge Jackson

By Eugene Robinson

Columnist

24 March 2022

The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson have been rife with racism, sexism, feigned outrage and general ugliness. But Wednesday’s proceedings brought one moment of such powerful eloquence that it brought Jackson, and me, to tears. Thank you, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), for speaking truth and for celebrating this historic moment as it deserves to be marked.

Booker’s turn to question Jackson came toward the end of the session. She had been badgered all day by Republicans who pretended to be outraged by the sentences she imposed in several child pornography cases when she was a U.S. district court judge. Republican Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.) had been particularly obnoxious, interrupting Jackson repeatedly and trying their best not to let her defend herself.

Booker greeted Jackson with a broad smile. “Your family and you speak to service, service, service,” he began. “And I’m telling you right now, I’m not letting anybody in the Senate steal my joy. … I just look at you, and I start getting full of emotion.”

The senator said he had been jogging that morning when an African American woman, a stranger, “practically tackled” him to explain how much it meant to her to see Jackson sitting in the witness chair.

“And you did not get there because of some left-wing agenda,” Booker said. “You didn’t get here because of some ‘dark money’ groups. You got here how every Black woman in America who’s gotten anywhere has done. By being, like Ginger Rogers said, ‘I did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards, in heels.’ And so I’m just sitting here saying nobody’s stealing my joy. Nobody is going to make me angry.”

Booker noted that he was just the fourth African American to be popularly elected to the Senate, rather than appointed to his post or elected by a state legislature. He said that during his first week at the Capitol, an older Black man who worked on the cleaning crew came up to him and began crying. “And I just hugged him, and he just kept telling me, ‘It’s so good to see you here.’”

He said Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who also is African American, understood what he meant. Booker and Scott are at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum — Booker a progressive Democrat, Scott a far-right Republican — but he credited Scott with having given “the best speech on race — I wish I could have given as good of a speech. … Talking of the challenges and indignities that are still faced. And you’re here.”

Booker recalled that during a meeting at the White House when President Biden was trying to decide whom to nominate, he and Vice President Harris exchanged the same “knowing glance” that they used to share when Harris was a senator and she sat next to Booker at Judiciary Committee hearings.

It is a glance that every successful African American is familiar with. It says: I know what you went through to get here. I know the hoops you had to jump through, the hurdles you had to surmount, the obstacles thrown into your path. I know you saw less talented White colleagues rise smoothly and steadily to the top while you had to prove your excellence time and again. I know that you could never let your bosses and colleagues see you get angry, never let them see you sweat.

Booker told Jackson that he knew she was “so much more than your race and gender” but could not look at her without seeing his mother or his cousins, “one of them who had to come here to sit behind you … to have your back.” He told Jackson that when he looked at her “I see my ancestors, and yours … Nobody’s going to steal that joy.”

The senator noted that Jackson’s parents, despite the oppressive racial discrimination of their times, “didn’t stop loving this country, even though this country didn’t love them back.” He quoted from the Langston Hughes poem, “Let America Be America Again.” He spoke of the struggles of Irish and Chinese immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community, who also loved this country and had to demand that it love them in return. He recounted the life story of Harriet Tubman and told of how she looked up at the North Star as a harbinger of hope. “Today you’re my star,” he told Jackson. “You are my harbinger of hope.”

The attacks from Republicans would continue, Booker said. “But don’t worry, my sister. Don’t worry. God has got you. And how do I know that?” Booker’s voice cracked with emotion. “Because you’re here. And I know what it’s taken for you to sit in that seat.”

Thank you, Mr. Robinson … and now a short clip from Senator Booker’s speech …

Time for a Change

Well, folks, the U.S. Senate finally managed to pass a piece of legislation. Don’t get too excited, though … as fellow-blogger Joseph Urban tells us with his usual tongue-in-cheek humour, there is really nothing to see here. No applause for the U.S. Senate today!

The Old Liberal

Looks like the US Senate has finally agreed to throw aside partisan politics and solve some important issues. After years of mindless squabbling for partisan advantage, they have come together to deliver a victory to the American way of life.

Hunger? Latest estimates claim that 17,000,000 American children go hungry every day. Nope.

Gun violence? 20,726 gun deaths in 2021. Excluding thousands of suicides. Not today.

Health Insurance? In 2020, over 28,000,000 Americans did not have health insurance at some point during the year. Oops.

Voting rights? State after imposes new hurdles to stop black folks from casting a ballot. No big deal.

Nope. Those issues, while important to some, pale compared to the tough choices made by the Senate.

Time. What time is it? Time for a change. The issue bringing together Mark Rubio and Corey Booker is the issue of time. Is it 5 PM or 4 PM?…

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YO SENATORS!!! Remember Those Oaths???

Today my thoughts (and snarky side) turn to two of President Biden’s nominees … one who was likely doomed from the start, and another who will likely succeed, although not before being run through the grist mill.


Sarah Bloom Raskin

Once again, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has put his own self-interests above the interests of the nation.  This time, he has said that he will not vote to confirm President Biden’s nominee for the Federal Reserve vice chair of supervision, Sarah Bloom Raskin.  Why?  In a nutshell, because she “has written in the past in support of the Fed increasing its attention to financial risks from climate change.”  Manchin, you see, has vested interests in the production of coal, one of the worst offenders to our environment.  He has holdings valued at between $1 million and $5 million in Enersystems, Inc., the coal brokerage business he founded.

Thus ends Ms. Raskin’s nomination for the position, as Republicans have made it clear that as a block they intend to oppose the nomination.  It’s not about what’s best for the country, y’know, but about “loyalty” to the ‘Party’.  In fact, the Republican senators successfully blocked her nomination from advancing to the Senate floor for discussion and a vote.  Yesterday, after Manchin’s self-important, bloated announcement that he would not vote in support of her, Ms. Raskin sent a letter to the White House asking to withdraw her name from consideration.  President Biden then announced that he would withdraw her name.

When a member of Congress puts his own financial self-interest ahead of the best interests of not only the nation, but the entire world, that person has long since forgotten that Oath of Office he took and should be expelled from Congress.  But, of course, if we expelled every member of Congress who has blatantly shredded his or her Oath of Office, we would have very few legislators left in the Capitol.


Ketanji Brown Jackson

And then there’s Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement.  Jackson is well-qualified and well-respected, even by those in the Republican corner, but you’d never know it to hear them.  Mitch McConnell complains because of her history as a public defender, saying “the soft-on-crime brigade is squarely in Judge Jackson’s corner.” 

One line of attack by Republicans appears to be that Jackson tried too hard when representing terrorism suspects. The Republican National Committee said Jackson’s “advocacy for these terrorists was ‘zealous,’ going beyond just giving them a competent defense.”  Um … ‘scuse me but … isn’t that what a public defender is supposed to do?  According to D.C. Bar’s rule of professional conduct, “a lawyer shall represent a client zealously and diligently within the bounds of the law.” It seems to me that Judge Jackson did precisely what she was supposed to do.

Then of course there was that time that she wrote in a ruling against Donald Trump, “Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings.” Although the Republicans cannot afford to admit it, this simple and truthful statement might actually be the second biggest reason the Republicans will give Jackson a hard time during the confirmation process, for they are irrevocably tied to the coattails of the former guy.  The first reason, you ask?  Her gender and the colour of her skin, of course.  Did you really even need to ask?

I think that despite the hassle Judge Jackson will no doubt endure from Republicans during the confirmation hearings, she will be confirmed, for her credentials are excellent.  That is, of course, unless she speaks about clean energy and disengaging from fossil fuels, in which case Senator Manchin might refuse to vote for her!

Good News, Bad News

Starting with the good news …

The U.S. Supreme Court made a right and proper judgment on Wednesday (for a change), ruling against the former guy in his attempt to hide evidence of his own and others’ involvement from the House committee investigating the attempted coup on January 6th 2021.

Trump wanted to prevent the Congressional committee investigating the insurrection of January 6, from gaining access to White House records for that day and the days leading up to it, invoking executive privilege. The justices overwhelmingly, 8-1, ruled against him.  Executive privilege can only exist while you’re an executive … which Trump no longer is!

The ruling on Wednesday opens up a trove of documents to congressional investigators who have sought them to determine Trump’s actions and mindset in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack, as well as what he did as his supporters were rioting at the Capitol.

Among the documents sought by the committee are speech drafts, call and visitor logs, handwritten notes and other files previously kept by senior Trump aides like chief of staff Mark Meadows, adviser Stephen Miller, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and White House associate counsel Patrick Philbin.

The only member of the high court who signaled he would have granted Trump’s request for emergency relief was Justice Clarence Thomas who has proven time and time again that he has outlived his usefulness on the Court.  To me, the surprise in this ruling was that the three justices appointed by Trump during his tenure in the Oval Office, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, all voted against his interests and for truth, justice, and democracy.

A half of a thumb-up for the Court for (finally) doing the right thing.


And then, the bad (really bad) news …

The two bills languishing in the Senate that would have protected our constitutional right to vote, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, are DOA – Dead On Arrival, thanks to 52 people … 50 ‘Republicans’ and Joe Manchin and Kyrsten B. Sinema.  Given the draconian laws that have been passed in some 40+ states that would disenfranchise Blacks, Hispanics, the poor, the elderly, and the young, voting will no longer be ‘fair and equal’ or just or democratic.

The last best hope, and it is a slim one indeed, is that the courts rule against the states’ aggressive measures to skew the outcome, but given recent history, I’m not holding my breath on that one.

A number of groups have already said they will withdraw their support from Manchin and Sinema over their unwillingness to protect our voices at the polls, but unfortunately neither of them are up for re-election this year.  Both will be up for re-election in 2024, leaving us with few choices for removing them from the Senate for another three years.

The United States Constitution gives the Senate the power to expel any member by a two-thirds vote, but given the current makeup of the Senate and the fact that the 50 Republican Senators seem to love Manchin and Sinema (and why wouldn’t they, for both are Republicans at the core), the odds of that happening are slim-to-none and it has not happened since 1862.

I wrote a scathing letter to my own Republican Senator Rob Portman tonight indicating that I was highly disappointed to find that neither he nor any other Republican in the Senate could find even a smidgeon of conscience.  Under ordinary circumstances, I would have informed him that I would be actively seeking to ensure his bid for re-election fails, but I cannot do that, because he is retiring at the end of this term.

And so, we are left with few choices and little voice.  One thing we can and must do to whatever extent possible, though, is offer to help those who would otherwise be disenfranchised by helping them with unwieldy registration forms, providing transportation, child care, or whatever else they need to ensure they can cast a vote and vote the clowns out of office in November!

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!