A Beacon of Light and Hope

Yesterday was a red-letter day for human rights in the U.S. Senate.  The senate passed a bill, the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA), that, if it passes in the House of Representatives, will codify protection for same-sex marriage.  Now, that in itself is an accomplishment worthy of a big WHOO HOO!!!  But even more encouraging, the bill was passed by a margin of 62-37 with 12 Republicans voting in favour!  I had been reading for days about the Republican/conservative backlash against this bill, so when I heard that 12 Republicans voted to protect same-sex marriage, I was stunned … in a good way!

Republican Susan Collins joined forces with Democrat Tammy Baldwin and worked across the aisle to rally support for this bill.  Those Republicans who voted in favour deserve recognition.  In addition to Susan Collins, they are …

  • Rob Portman (Ohio)
  • Thom Tillis (N.C.)
  • Mitt Romney (Utah)
  • Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
  • Roy Blunt (Mo.)
  • Richard Burr (N.C.)
  • Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.)
  • Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.)
  • Dan Sullivan (Alaska)
  • Joni Ernst (Iowa)
  • Todd Young (Ind.)

Thank you, Senators!

The RFMA repeals the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.  It also requires that every state recognize a valid same-sex marriage.  It does fall short of requiring that every state issue licenses for same-sex marriages. The reason for this distinction is to keep the bill from being overridden by the Supreme Court who has previously ruled that the federal government cannot “commandeer” states to enforce federal laws or pass specific statutes. If Congress compelled states to license same-sex marriages, the judiciary would invalidate the law as a violation of this anti-commandeering doctrine.

There has been a very real concern that the Supreme Court is poised to strike down Obergefell v Hodges, the case that requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriages.  Once signed into law, the Respect for Marriage Act will make it more difficult for the Court to overturn the 2015 decision.

As an added bonus, the bill would also protect inter-racial marriages if the ultra-conservative, backward-looking Supreme Court were to decide to overturn the 1967 ruling in Loving v Virginia the ruling that laws banning interracial marriage violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Next, the bill moves to the House where it is expected to pass, possibly by the end of this week.  If they table it until January, it will be doomed to fail, but at present there is no reason to think it won’t pass the House and be signed into law by President Biden at least by the end of the year.  Score one for human rights, for civil rights, for LGBTQ rights!  Score one for bipartisanship.

This, That, and ‘TOONS!

Until the past week, I was generally able to focus on a single issue or topic for an entire post, but my mind seems to be made of rubber these days and just bounces all over the place, hence I have done a number of posts with a variety of ‘mini-thoughts’.  This afternoon’s post is yet another such …


Apparently, some people wish to live in a nation where all people are controlled by a single religious belief set.  To those people I say, “Then please, feel free to relocate to Iran.  I would caution you, though, if you are a woman, you will be controlled, manipulated, and killed if you break the religious laws. If you are a gay person, you will be killed if it is discovered, no questions asked.”  Meanwhile, here in the United States, women are, at least in theory, given equal rights, although only for the past 100 years or so.  We now have the right to divorce our spouse, to own property in {gasp} our own name, receive equal pay for equal work, and even to … VOTE!  Okay, so we’re still working on that ‘bodily autonomy’ thing, but we’ll get there, because it’s important enough for us to fight tooth and nail for.  That’s not quite how it works over in Iran, but hey … if people want religious laws to dominate the people, they’ll just have to … get over the level of bigotry that is the foundation of such a society.  Meanwhile, here in the U.S. the majority of us fully support women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and realize it is nobody’s business whether a woman chooses to have children or who a person chooses to love.

I respect every person’s right to believe as they wish, to adhere to the religion of their choice or no religion, if that is their choice.  But what I cannot tolerate is people trying to force everyone into their own narrow-minded box.  One of the things that the United States is noted for is freedom of religion, freedom to believe as you choose.  You have the right to attend the church, mosque or synagogue of your choice and participate in the various rites & rituals of your religion. BUT … when politicians pander to a religious group that wants to impose their will on the entirety of the nation, they are attempting to rob us of one of our most fundamental constitutional freedoms.  Be a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew or a Jain, but don’t tell me that I have to believe as you do.  Freedom OF religion must also include freedom FROM religion as an option.  The United States is not and should not become a ‘Christian nation’ but is founded on the basis of welcoming people of ALL beliefs.


A reader recently commented the following in regard to my concern for the environment:

“Time for the USA to get the message. As far as destruction of the enviro, humans cause somewhere i between 0.00020% and o.00034% of global warming. We’ve seen far bigger periods of gobal warming and ice ages throughout recorded history. Guess why the ice desert Greenland is called Greenland. It was fuxn green when the first settlers arrived there. In late Roman times they made wine in England! And we had periods of unusual warm weather but also mini ice ages and freak storms not too far in the past. Vineta (Atlantis) happened in medieval times, Tenerife will probably split in two during our lifetimes. With or without our ‘help’.”

How does one even converse with someone who is so convinced their ignorant views are correct and who looks down their nose at those of us who believe the science that tells us human activities, particularly continually increasing emissions of CO2 are creating an environment that will no longer be able to sustain human … or most other … life within a relatively few short years?  I have come to the point that I no longer bother to respond to such, for there is no give-and-take, no meaningful dialog, just arrogance and an unwillingness to consider facts.


Lindsey Graham said that if Catherine Cortez Masto beats Adam Laxalt in the race for the senate seat from Nevada, then it was fraud.  So, let me get this straight:  If the candidate Lindsey likes loses, it was fraud, but if his candidate wins, it was a fair and honest election.  Sounds to me like a rather juvenile viewpoint, rather like the ten-year-old child turning over the checkerboard and running in tears to her room and slamming the door because her dad won the game.  “No fair!  You cheated!”  But then, I guess the ten-year-old mentality is in keeping with the Republican modus operandi of late, ever since they decided to make a ‘man’ with a funny creature atop his head, a pocky complexion, a contorted mouth, and lies flowing from his mouth their “Supreme Leader”.  As of 8:49 p.m. last night, Cortez Masto is the projected winner of the race for the senate seat from Nevada, giving the Democrats a majority in the U.S. Senate.  I wonder what ol’ Lindsey will have to say this morning?  Will he have the decency to keep his mouth shut, or will he whine and demand that the election be overturned?


My jaw dropped last night when I logged onto Twitter and found that an off-the-cuff remark I had left on someone’s tweet had gained 1,281 likes, 92 retweets, and 51 comments!!!  I’M A TWITTER CELEBRITY!!!  (just kidding)  I have never had more than 30 or so likes on any tweet or tweet comment I’ve made.  Never!  This is the tweet and my response that gained so much notoriety …


And I conclude with a few political ‘toons I’ve run across over the past few days …

They {Don’t} Want Your Vote

Every citizen of the United States age 18 or older should be able to vote.  Voting is truly the only official voice we have in who runs our government and how they run it.  Sure, we can write letters, we can protest, we can make phone calls … but at the end of the day, it is our VOTE that counts, that decides what our nation will be or become.  Each and every one of us has … or should have … that right.  In some countries, nobody has that right, so we should protect and safeguard our right as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.  Voting IS a right here in the U.S., but it is also a responsibility.

Even prior to the 2020 election, certain states had very restrictive voting laws, and after the utterly false claims of widescale voting fraud and other lies following the 2020 election, nearly every state in the country proposed and passed even more restrictions on voting.  It is the opinion of this writer that if you are 18 or older, you should be able to vote.  Skin colour, literacy skills, age, gender, income level, and locale should not matter.  And yet … people of colour, poor people, young people, elderly people, disabled people, and those with prior felony convictions are often disenfranchised by unfair voting restrictions in their state.

Did you know that in Michigan it is against the law to “hire a motor vehicle” to transport a voter to the polls unless they are “physically unable to walk”?  So, anybody who doesn’t drive, doesn’t own a car, and isn’t in a wheelchair, will not be able to vote.  You cannot take a bus, taxi, Uber, or even ask your neighbor to drive you to the polls to vote in Michigan.  I imagine that law is hard as hell to enforce, but still … the very fact that it is even a law is beyond disgusting!

In 2021, 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. More than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access were introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.  Last year, Congress had the opportunity to pass two bills, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which would have protected our right to vote at the federal level, overriding restrictive state laws.  Both bills passed in the House of Representatives but failed to pass in the Senate.  Why?  Because while all Democrats voted for and all Republicans (except one) voted against, the filibuster kept the bills from passing.  The filibuster rules might have been changed to exclude voting rights legislation, but no … Republicans, aided and abetted by Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema, refused.  Why?  Because as one Republican openly admitted, if everyone could vote, Republicans would never win another election.

The 2020 election had the highest voter turnout of this century with nearly 67% of all eligible voters actually casting a vote.  In part, the reason was that many states went the extra mile to make it easier to vote by mail or ballot drop box in light of the pandemic.  Also in part was a concentrated effort to unseat the person who was, at the time, sitting in the Oval Office.  However, I find it pathetic that even with easier access to the ballot, only 67% voted.  WHERE WERE THE OTHER 33%???

With just 53 days until the mid-term elections on November 8th, it’s time for us to all be giving some serious thought to voting.  In most states, you can check online to make sure you’re registered – DO IT!  Some states are quite aggressive in removing people from the list of registered voters without cause, so it’s important to make sure you are registered.  If your state supports no-excuse absentee voting, by all means save yourself considerable time and angst by requesting an absentee ballot.  If you have the wherewithal (time and vehicle) to help transport people in your neighborhood to the polls on election day, please do so.  Your vote … is so important.  Every single vote matters.  Let’s not let the bastards keep us away from the polls, let’s not throw away our one opportunity to be heard, to have our say in who is making the decisions that affect the lives of each and every one of us.  If you won’t do it for yourself, then do it for your children and grandchildren who will inherit the world we create today.


Warning:  This blog will frequently contain posts, including some updated reprisals of past posts, about voting and voting rights between now and November 8th.  I make no apologies … this may be the single most important election thus far in our lifetimes and we need to understand the issues, the candidates, and what is riding on our choices.  Thank you for your patience.

What Drives The Election Roller Coaster?

The upcoming elections remind me watching a game of tennis, or ping pong … back, forth, left, right, back, forth.  Round and round she goes, where she lands no one knows.  To say that it is stressful is an understatement!  Frank Bruni’s latest column sums it all up fairly nicely …


Live By the Trump, Die By the Trump

By Frank Bruni

8 September 2022

Democrats were doomed. We prediction-mad pundits felt predictable certainty about that. The recent history of midterm elections augured disaster for the party in power. Inflation would make the damage that much worse.

So why are Republicans sweating?

Their overreach on abortion and the subsequent mobilization of women voters explain a great deal but not everything. There’s another prominent plotline. Its protagonist is Donald Trump. And its possible moral is a sweet and overdue pileup of clichés — about reaping what you sow, paying the piper, lying in the bed you’ve made.

Republicans chose to kneel before him. Will he now bring them to their knees?

Thanks in large part to Trump, they’re stuck with Senate candidates — Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Herschel Walker in Georgia, Blake Masters in Arizona — whose ineptness, inanity, immoderation or all three significantly diminish their chances in purple states at a propitious juncture.

Thanks in even larger part to Trump, voters ranked threats to democracy as the most pressing problem facing the country in a recent NBC News poll. That intensifying concern is among the reasons that President Biden went so big and bold last week in his intensely debated speech about extremism in America. He was eyeing the midterms, and he was wagering that Republican leaders’ indulgence of Trump’s foul play and fairy tales might finally cost them.

Trump is also a factor in Republicans’ vulnerability regarding abortion rights. For his own selfish political purposes, he made grand anti-abortion promises. He appointed decidedly anti-abortion judges, including three of the Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. He as much as anyone fired up the anti-abortion movement to the point where Republicans may now get burned.

With two months until Election Day, Republicans want to focus voters’ attention on unaffordable housing, exorbitant grocery bills and the generally high cost of living. They want to instill deeper and broader fear about immigration and crime. They want to portray Democrats as the enemies of the American way.

But that’s more than a little tricky when Trump had America’s secrets strewn throughout the bowels of Mar-a-Loco. When his excuses for mishandling those classified documents change at a dizzying clip, contradict previous ones and often boil down to his typical infantile formula of I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I. When he uses Truth Social, the media penal colony to which Twitter and Facebook sentenced him, for all the old falsehoods plus new ones. When criminal charges against him aren’t out of the question.

The progressive excesses of some Democrats pale beside the madness of this would-be monarch.

Democrats could still have a bad, even brutal, November. That is indeed how the pendulum historically swings, and two months is plenty of time for political dynamics to change yet again. Biden could overplay his hand, a possibility suggested by that speech.

But for the moment, Republicans are spooked. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, has decided to try to recapture the party’s long-ago Contract-With-America magic by detailing a “Commitment to America” that will no doubt omit what should be the most important commitment of all — to the truth. It also won’t erase the fact that 196 of the 529 Republican nominees running for the House, the Senate, governor, attorney general or secretary had “fully denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election,” according to a chilling FiveThirtyEight analysis of the party’s nominees as of Wednesday.

That morally corrupt position was probably a political asset in their primaries, just as having Trump’s endorsement usually was. But in the general election? As Republican nominees pivot toward that, at least a few of them are realizing that it’s a different ballgame — and that Trump is trouble. They’re taking baby steps away from the world’s biggest baby.

Good luck with that. He’ll never let them go, never muffle himself long enough or behave well enough for there to be a Republican narrative that doesn’t revolve around him. That was clear to Republicans from the start. To hang with him is to hang with him.

Da Snark MUST Be Shared!

Ever notice how in certain weather, your head and chest just seem to fill with ‘stuff’ and you sneeze, wheeze, gasp and cough until you think surely you’ve coughed up a lung?  Well, in certain political climes, my head just fills to the gills with snark, and there’s only one way to alleviate the symptoms … share it!


You could’a knocked me over with a feather …

Yesterday was a red-letter day in the United States Congress!  Why?  Because the Senate … members on both sides of the aisle … actually agreed on something and voted 95 to 1 to allow Sweden and Finland to join NATO!  95-1 … can you believe it???  I think this is the most cohesion we’ve seen in the Senate since … since … maybe 1867 or thereabouts!  Granted, there is little reason to object to allowing these two nations to join NATO … it is a win-win, for it adds strength to NATO and provides protections for Sweden and Finland, but these days, there doesn’t seem to be a need for a reason to split the two sides!

Oh … that single ‘nay’ vote?  That was ol’ Josh Hawley, the brunt of many jokes since the January 6th committee aired video showing Josh of fist-pump fame running desperately from the insurrectionists that day!  His reason for naysaying the treaty expansion was, in his words …

“NATO expansion would almost certainly mean more U.S. forces in Europe for the long haul. In the face of this stark reality, we must choose. We must do less in Europe (and elsewhere) in order to prioritize China and Asia.”

No, it made no sense to me, either, but then … it’s Josh ‘fist-pump’ Hawley, so I don’t expect intellect, but merely nonsense.  Rumour has it that he sees himself as a presidential candidate in 2024 🤣 🤣


Religious freedom?  I think not.

It was on June 27th, just over a month ago, that the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the case of Kennedy v Bremerton School District.  In a nutshell, the case was filed by Joseph Kennedy, a public-school football coach, who had taken the practice of praying at the middle of the field immediately after each game. The school board were concerned the practice would be seen as infringing on the Establishment Clause separating church and state. They attempted to negotiate with Kennedy to pray elsewhere or at a later time, but Kennedy continued the practice. His contract was not renewed, leading Kennedy to sue the board.

The Supreme Court ruled that the school’s actions against Kennedy violated his rights under both the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.  This decision has bothered me for over a month now, and last night I had a thought that I would share with you, my friends.

I don’t deny that Mr. Kennedy or anybody else has the right to pray … here, there, or anywhere.  However, public schools are not the place for public displays of religious acts!  They are institutions of learning … learning math, science, literature, history, and more … not religion.  In case the U.S. Supreme Court has not noticed, this is a secular nation.  We have people of every religion here and many of us are non-religious … that is our right, per the U.S. Constitution!  So, the thought I had was this:  Would the United States Supreme Court justices have been so quick to defend the man’s ‘right to prayer’ if he were a Muslim publicly praying to Allah?  I’m betting not.

Some of the boys on the team Mr. Kennedy coached said they were uncomfortable with his habit … some boys joined in, and those who did not believe or did not wish to join in were made to feel left out, felt that to belong, they had to join in.  THIS IS NOT what public education is about, my friends!  I would take umbrage if my child or grandchild were subjected to a teacher or other school employee praying in public during school hours or activities!  Again … if it had been a Muslim … can you just imagine the furor?

The U.S. is a nation founded in part by religious freedom.  That does NOT mean that one religion, ie Christianity, dominates the spirit of the nation.  It doesn’t.  The Court made a grievous error on June 27th, one that some were just waiting for in order to pounce and turn our schools into religious institutions.  We must not allow that to happen.


Say WHAT???

Ryan Kelley was running in the GOP primaries for governor of Michigan.  He lost.  In fact, he lost by a lot, coming in at fourth place with only 15% of the vote, or 165,016 votes as compared to the leader, Tudor Dixon, who received 434,673 votes, or 40.6%.  (I will have more about Tudor Dixon at a later date)  Now, one would think ol’ Ryan Kelley would tuck his tail betwixt his legs and go home to lick his wounds or cry in his beer, yes?  But nope.  He is planning to contest the election!

Kelly made the announcement early Wednesday morning as primary election results began to roll out that he refuses to concede and is contesting the election results.  Oh … and it may not surprise you to know that Kelley was one of the insurrectionists who was arrested for his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election on January 6th by breaking into the Capitol, destroying property, attacking Capitol Police, and calling to hang Mike Pence!  And it surely won’t surprise you that he was endorsed by the former guy who incited the attempted coup.

Methinks he can contest until the cows come home, but he ain’t gonna be the one running against Democrat Gretchen Widmer in November!

Say WHAT???

I was stunned to see a headline reading …

Herschel Walker Is A Messy Candidate, But The Georgia Senate Race Is Still A Toss-Up

Say WHAT???  How?  I wrote about Walker not long ago. This is the ‘man’ who lied about having been in the FBI, who sired three children out of wedlock by different women … children he does not support.  This is the ‘man’ who supports the Big Lie and has promoted other conspiracy theories, who put a gun to his ex-wife’s head and threatened to “blow [her] f*ing brains out”, and who chased a delivery person with a gun for being late.  And this is the ‘man’ whose view of climate change is …

“Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air, so when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then, now, we got we to clean that back up.”

This is a college-drop-out’s view of environmental science … stunning, isn’t it?

Simply the fact that he is even allowed to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate is mind-boggling, but the fact that he is running only slightly behind the far more intelligent, more competent incumbent, Ralph Warnock, begs the question:  what the heck are they smoking down in Georgia???  Remember they are also the ones who sent Margie Greene to the House of Representatives in 2020!  I repeat … what are they smoking???

In the RCP average of polls, Warnock is leading Walker by 2.8 percentage points … too close for comfort.  Warnock has been in the Senate for nigh on two years now and has proven himself to be competent, honest, and a man of good conscience.  He co-sponsored a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15, and supports the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.  He is pro-choice, opposes the death penalty, is pro voting rights, is pro LGBTQ rights, and has received a grade of ‘F’ from the National Rifle Association (NRA).  All of which earns him a big thumbs-up in my book.

And yet, some Georgians would prefer a liar, a cheater, and a wife abuser to represent them in the Senate?  Where’s the logic???

One analysis I read claims that part of Walker’s appeal is his ‘status’ as a football player.  Excuse me, people, but the United States Congress is a far cry from a football field!  I can cook a great Jambalaya, but that doesn’t qualify me for a seat in the Senate!!!

And another part of Walker’s potential success is simply partisanship.  Georgia went from red to blue in 2020, but with President Biden’s approval ratings not-so-good right now, it may be leaning back toward the right.  As one analyst said …

“There are X number of people where it doesn’t matter, they’re just going to pull the R lever.”

I’ll never forget when I was in my early 20s, newly married and living in Virginia, near the Tennessee border. A neighbor told me that …

“My daddy was a Republican, his daddy before him was a Republican, and by god I’m gonna die a Republican too.  I’ll never vote for a damn Democrat!”

That, my friends, is a mentality that is almost impossible to reason with, to appeal to with logic.  Let us hope, fingers crossed, that Senator Ralph Warnock can retain his seat in November, because I really, really don’t want somebody sitting in the Senate who points a gun at his own wife, who believes that our “good air” went to China, and who lies more than he tells the truth.  C’mon, Georgians … clear your heads of whatever it is you’re smoking and wake up!

I have an idea!  Congress should pass legislation that each state can only send one nutjob to Congress in any given year!  It’s not fair to the nation for a state to send both a Greene and a Walker at the same time!  We deserve better!

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.