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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired for two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Friday, June 10, 2022

06-10-2022 - The Bad Guys Who Won't Quit (Even After the TV Hearings), Our Imperfect Democracy that Allows That to Happen, Fear of the Supreme Court , and a Suggested Phone Call or Email to Senators


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There is only one overriding issue of political concern right now, encompassing much of what has been appearing periodically on this blog. That is how to defeat Republicans on Nov. 8, about 22 weeks from now. The future of democracy in the United States, however imperfect it may be, is at stake. Really. 

To win in November, Democrats must capture the votes of women and persons of color, groups whose interests Republican actions consistently attack, including preserving both abortion rights and voting rights. 

JL 
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Supreme Court Up to No Good

From David Leonhardt’s column in the New York Times (6/8/22)

'The month of June at the Supreme Court — when the justices tend to announce their biggest decisions — has had a similar rhythm over the past few decades. There is usually an ideologically complicated mix of decisions, with some pleasing the political right (on voting rights and business regulation, for example) and others pleasing the left (on health care and L.G.B.T. rights).

This month, however, looks as if it might be different. “The right may well run the table on the big cases,” Adam Liptak, a former lawyer who covers the court for The Times, told me.   

The five most closely watched cases include one each on abortion, gun control and climate regulation and two on religion. All five decisions are likely to be announced this month (unless the court extends its term into early July). Based on the justices’ questions during the oral arguments in each case, conservative rulings appear likely.'

 

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In my opinion, this spells trouble for the majority of Americans who disagree with the Supreme Court’s decisions and which probably will be supported by only a minority of Americans.  In my opinion, if Liptak’s prediction holds true, it is time for President Biden to try to add Justices to the Court while the Democrats still have the votes to do that, and in addition, resort to executive orders, which he has been reluctant to do.  The SCOTUS might force him to act in that direction.

JL 

Footnote:  The guy who was arrested outside of Justice Kavanaugh's house for planning to shoot him, and then commit suicide, was the one who called 911 in an effort to stop himself from acting.  I can see his defender in Court claiming insanity with his phone call showing he was suffering from schizophrenia.  More likely, he just chickened out.
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Phone Call to Senators

Rick and Marco:  Call 'Em Up!

Here’s a message I sent to my two Senators, Marco Rubio (202 224 3041) and Rick Scott (202 224 5174).  Please do the same.  If their lines are busy, go to their websites and send it via email.  If you are not in Florida and have a Republican Senator, communicate with them.

Senator _____________.  

Imagine if your children or grandchildren were students at the schools in Uvalde, Sandy Hook, Columbine or even closer, Parkland.  THEY MIGHT BE DEAD TODAY.  And if they survived, they would forever be carrying the memories of their schoolmates and teachers being shot down. 

For a change, forget that you are a Republican and vote like an American on legislation to curb gun violence. All of it!

Your children and grandchildren deserve it.

(Be sure to finish off your phone call with your name and city of residence.)

JL

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Some of My Thoughts               

Rather than quote others today, I include two short (?) pieces on the way I feel about the crisis, and it is a crisis, that today envelopes our country. 
Here they are:
 
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The Bad Guys Never Give Up - Despite the Select Committee Hearings

Despite what the Select Committee hearings reveal, those who inspired the January 6, 2021 violent attack upon the Capitol and upon the Constitution’s rules for electing our president, those who want to attack the government of the United States, will not be deterred. That’s bad news. They will not give up.  The struggle goes on.

Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards testifying
before House Jan. 6 Committee about 
the 'Stop the Steal' rioters who
stormed the Capitol, injuring her
.
But here's the good news.  The House Select Committee got off to a fine start last evening on nationwide prime time TV outlining what will follow next week in similar telecasts.  They will pull no punches in putting the blame on the defeated former president for instigating and inspiring a coordinated attack on the Capitol and the Constitution by armed groups.  

Carefully choosing his words, he had tweeted messages like 'Will be wild,' avoiding saying who would be wild and precisely to whom these words were directed.  Hmm. a sentence without a subject, object or even a verb!   Believe me, though, they knew what the defeated former president meant ... and indeed on January 6, 2021, they were 'wild.'  He chose his words with this vague quality so that they might not hold up in a sedition trial.  After the riot, he said that he 'loved' them.  That was safe enough not to be used to help put him behind bars.


Cheney to Republicans: "There 
will come a day when Donald 
Trump is gone, but your 
dishonor will remain.”
G.O.P. Congresswoman Liz Cheney made it clear that it was time for Republican leadership and Republican voters to cease 'defending the indefensible,' and walk away from the defeated former president's claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, an argument found to be fallacious in court and initially by many in Republican leadership roles.  (Later, some like Senator McConnell and House leader McCarthy changed their minds, fearing reprisal by those loyal to the defeated former president.)

But the bad actors honestly believe that they are defending democracy and traditional American values that they believe are being destroyed by the Democrats. That's why they showed up on Januaray 6, 2021, in support of the defeated former president's hallucinatory dream, which actually for most Americans, would have been a nightmare.

They see everything that Democrats favor, things like government regulations for health and safety, redistribution of the nation’s wealth through higher taxes on the wealthy, a ‘safety net’ for those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, equal rights for all citizens regardless of race or sexual orientation, gun safety laws, allowing women to choose to have abortions, guaranteed voting rights, involvement in providing health insurance, even Social Security and Medicare, etc. as evils to be fought!   And of course, they now disparage, as overblown political theatre, the Congressional hearings into their January 6 attempt to overthrow the Constitution.  

They have been convinced of this through a combination of ignorance, gullibility, and existing prejudices including disbelief in climate change, in medical science, in public schools, and topped off with the idea that the only true Americans are White and Christian.

The dying Republican Party, with no solutions for anything whatsoever but still hungry for support, has adopted these ideas either openly or covertly and is the agent for giving them the flavor of legitimacy.  That's why many Republicans even join in saying that the loser in the 2020 presidential election was really the winner, even if they know better.  And when that position was blown away in courts, that was when they turned to justifying the January 6 attack mentioned above.  There are many House Representatives and Senators whom this describes.  They have bought into accountability for January 6 along with the defeated former president and must eventually pay the price, as he will.

And they support the Second Amendment and oppose any effort at gun safety reform just in case their extreme element eventually need weapons to carry out their aims of getting rid of our nation’s present government, which they view as tyrannical.  That's the problem with Republicans.  They sold their once good name to the 'bad guys' for their votes.

These extreme ideas are readily available to them because of the First Amendment, on the internet, especially in ‘social media’ and on traditional media such as FoxNews and much of ‘talk radio.’ 

(FoxNews, to keep its vast number of viewers in the dark, has relegated the Select Committee’s hearings to its 'business' channel which has far fewer viewers.  In fact, yesterday, before the hearings went on TV, I saw an announcement on FoxNews from Sean Hannity urging people to watch him later when he would explain all about the 'sham' hearings.  This is the kind of poison the First Amendment allows charlatans to spew out to their listeners.  The only 'shams' involved are Hannity himself, a 'sham' journalist working for a 'sham' news channel, and the defeated former president, perhaps the greatest 'sham' in American history.) 

But the pathetic foot soldiers of January 6 are not to be blamed. The blame rests with the defeated former president who undoubtedly inspired and approved of their action. The continuing hearings will prove that.  In a less democratic country than the United States, he would have been jailed months ago.  That, unfortunately, is the Achilles heel of democracy, built into how we elect our president and our Congress.

Behind it all are those who are against 'government' simply because they object to its putting its hands into the pockets of taxpayers.  Most Americans, even Republicans, don’t mind this because the government provides them with necessary services not otherwise available. Those aimed at destroying our democracy ignorantly call such services ‘socialism’ or ‘communism,’ and that includes Social Security and Medicare.

But when the amounts to be subject to taxation of various kinds is in the hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, those individuals who have such wealth, individually, corporately, or sequestered offshore, eagerly finance strategies and tactics to destroy their tax-imposing enemy, our government.  You may be familiar with the Koch family but there are many more whose identities are well concealed.  We've all heard their 'jokes' about abolishing the IRS.  Well, these people are serious about that! They didn't specifically hire the defeated former president to be their dishonest circus midway pitchman, but his megalomania fit into their plans beautifully, so they used him, just as by flattery, he was used by the Russian government.  But I digress. It is these American oligarchs who should be held accountable as well.

Grover Norquist, a conservative activist who was the darling of our 43rd president, George W. Bush, famously preached 'drowning government in a bathtub,' even at periodic White House luncheons.  That is close to the position of today’s Republican Party, which is still able to attempt to do that, even as a minority.  As a majority, they will quickly dismantle our government, but first, it will be necessary for them to destroy our rights. State governments in backward places like Texas and Florida are already trying to do that. That’s what the 2022 election is all about. 

Remember, the 'Bad Guys' never give up. Neither must we.

It is the duty of every loyal American to work their butts off registering voters and seeing that they vote for Democrats on November 8 to save what’s left of democracy in America, as imperfect as it may be.  

The ignorant and gullible who will vote for spineless Republicans who have sold out to those who are hell-bent on destroying democracy based on their ill-founded belief that they are saving it MUST be defeated.  

Remember, the 'Bad Guys' never give up. Neither must we.

And don't forget to watch the rest of the hearings on TV next week!  And ask your Republican friends to do so as well!

JL

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Our Imperfect Democracy

America’s democracy was a great innovation, a never-before-tried experiment in 1789.  But it has endured, even with its glaring imperfections.  Other nations have improved on what we started but we have not kept up with them.  American democracy was an improvement over existing autocratic approaches to governing and still is, just as Henry Ford’s Model T was an improvement over the horse and buggy.  But other nations now have adopted updated versions of what we started.  They are driving 2022 automobiles while we are still driving around in Henry Ford’s Model T.  Let me explain.

The Constitution divides our government into three branches, Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. 

We do not directly elect our Judicial branch.  Federal Judges and Justices, including those on the Supreme Court, are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. 

We do not directly elect our president, head of our Executive branch, either.  Our president is chosen by an artificial structure, the Electoral College, made up of members from each State equal to their total number of Senators and seats in the House of Representatives.

Only when we get to the Legislative branch does our democracy kick in nationally through the mechanism of popular elections, but that mechanism is an imperfect exercise of democracy, and since the Legislative branch is the instrument through which Federal judges and Supreme Court justices are confirmed and is the numerical basis for the Electoral College as well, that imperfection infects the Judicial and the Executive branches as well. Let's look more closely at that Legislative branch to see what is wrong with it.

Let's start with the Senate, which was never intended to be democratic. The ‘Union,’ originally thirteen independent States, were all given equality in that body with two Senators each, regardless of their population.  And up until 1913, with the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment, they weren’t even elected by the voters of the States but were chosen by their State legislatures.   A resident in a populous State had the same representation in the Senate as did a resident of a barely settled State. And this continues today, with California, for example, with over 39 million residents having the same number of Senators, two, as does Wyoming, with its under 600,000 residents.  As I said, the Senate never was intended to be democratic.

But the real tragedy of the Senate's undemocratic structure is that its inequities extend into the composition of the Electoral College and the Senate’s function of confirming judicial appointments.  Thus, the Judicial and Executive branches reflect the undemocratic nature of the Senate.  In the Senate, the voices of the people are not totally stifled, but they certainly are minimized.  

The framers of the Constitution recognized this by providing for a ‘people’s house,’ our House of Representatives.  That ‘House’ has certain exclusive powers supposedly to balance the undemocratic nature of the Senate.  These include the roles of initiating revenue bills, initiating the impeachment of Federal officials when necessary (both functions also eventually requiring ultimate referral to the Senate) and finally, choosing a president in the case of an Electoral College tie.  But it is clear, at least to me, that the more democratic House is the junior partner to the undemocratic Senate, which can second guess House measures. Though these words do not appear in the Constitution, Congress certainly does have an 'upper' house and a 'lower' house.  Guess which is which.

The fixed number of 435 Representatives (since 1929) in the House of Representatives is divided among the States based on their populations. This might sound good, but looking at the House more closely, one sees that this more democratic approach in the House of Representatives is an illusion and fails to balance the undemocratic Senate because it is left to each State to determine the composition of its share of its representation in the House.

State politics, often governed by local issues, then come into play and a governor and State legislature of one party make sure that House districts in that State are designed, or gerrymandered, so as to give their party more Representatives in the House than the political demographics of that State would suggest.   This often results in a State where one party has a small majority of voters ending up with a large majority of its delegation to the House of Representatives coming from that party.  A State with twenty Representatives where one Party has a 55% majority is likely to have perhaps fourteen or fifteen of that Party's members in Congress rather than the eleven the math suggests would be fairer and more democratic.

This is what I mean when I refer to our form of government as an ‘imperfect’ democracy.  I have tried to explain how these undemocratic imperfections in our two-house Legislative branch, the only branch of our national government for which we can vote, come about, and how that Legislative branch's imperfections affect the Executive and Judicial branches.  Perhaps ‘flawed’ would be a better adjective or going further, it might even be called an ‘ersatz’ democracy. 

Don't walk around convinced that American democracy is the epitome of that form of government.  It is not.   It is not something about which to brag.  Our Constitution enabled enslaved human beings to be deprived of their 'inalienable rights' for three-quarters of a century while many other countries were outlawing slavery, and it continues to permit gun violence unheard of in other civilized democracies.  

Certainly, there are better versions of democracy available for which we might trade in our Model T.  
                                                                
JL

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JL
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