GOP power brokers are making sure that our political institutions work at every turn against majority rule. Controlling many more state legislatures than Democrats, Republicans gerrymander Democrats into oblivion in congressional and state legislative elections.
They then block Democratic efforts at redistricting reform in the Senate with the use of the filibuster, another essential antidemocratic instrument. To further obstruct voting and thwart the will of popular majorities in the administrative machinery of government, their gerrymandered legislatures pass laws expressly designed to suppress voter participation, making it harder (or, in the case of baseless voter roll purges, impossible) for some groups to access the ballot.
And then they cement their hold on the whole system by packing the courts with right-wing judges to enforce all the exclusion.
They are fortified in all this self-entrenchment by Supreme Court decisions like Shelby County v. Holder (2013) and Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee (2021), which have dismantled the Voting Rights Act and weakened the Constitution, which had both been for a brief shining moment effective guardians of the voting rights of the people.
In short, the leaders of the GOP — not just Trump, mind you — are using every trick in the book to stifle majority rule and to erase popular democracy in the same way they have been working to erase science and history.
The majority of Americans are caught in a vicious circle of anti-democracy.Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), in “Unthinkable:Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy
Jackass Of the Week Nomination – May 5, 2022
Nominated for Jackass of The Week (JOTW) — in the first of what is likely to eventually become thousands of nominations — is Texas Senator Raphael “Ted” Cruz.
In response to the leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court revoking abortion rights, Cruz, in his role as Jr. Detective, pointed the finger of blame at a law clerk for Justice Sonia Sotomayor without any evidence, whatever.
I think it is very very likely a law clerk. And it is very likely a law clerk for one of the three liberal judges. If I were to guess the most likely justice for whom the law clerk is clerking, it’s Sonia Sotomayor, because she’s the most partisan of the justices.Raphael Cruz, earning this nomination as Jackass of the Week
After the allegation against the clerks in Justice Sotomayor’s office, Cruz added, “I have no evidence of that. I’m just making an inference.”
I guess that was Trump’s position after suggesting Cruz’ father was somehow responsible for President Kennedy’s assassination, and clearly making the case that Mrs. Cruz was not an attractive woman.
From my viewpoint Cruz astonishingly accuses someone based solely on their likely political affiliation while citing partisanship as the reason for the accusation. A well-deserved nomination.
Give it a rest, Raphael. No matter how much of a jackass you truly are, the 2024 GOP nomination isn’t coming to you. Believe it!
Would A Republican Lie?
Do Yourself A Favor – Read Jill Lepore
Do yourself a favor and read the brilliant opinion piece by Jill Lepore in Wednesday’s “The New Yorker.” In the “Daily Comment” section, Lepore brilliantly counters arguments by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion revoking Roe vs. Wade.
Predictably, Alito argues that abortion rights are unconstitutional because they aren’t specifically mentioned in the constitution. Lepore points out that the women were of little or no concern to the men who drafted the document, and in fact, for all intents and purposes of the drafters, weren’t considered “persons.”
Women are indeed missing from the Constitution, as Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft opinion suggests. That’s a problem to remedy, not a precedent to honor.
Lepore continues by pointing out:
- There were no women among the delegates to the Constitutional Convention.
- There were no women among the hundreds of people who participated in ratifying conventions in the states.
- There were no women judges.
- There were no women legislators.
At the time of the Constitutional Convention, women could neither hold office nor run for office, and, except in New Jersey, and then only fleetingly, women could not vote.
Legally, most women did not exist as persons.
Do yourself a favor, and read the entire article.Jill Lepore, “Why There Are No Women in the Constitution, published in The New Yorker, May 4, 2022
Susan Collins — Wrong For Maine (Again!)
In light of the shocking release of a draft opinion by Supreme Court Justice Alito that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Senator Susan Collins said yesterday that the draft opinion was completely inconsistent with what Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh “said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office.” Of course, since 2017 lying by high government officials is no longer considered improper.
Back in 2018, during consideration of the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, Collins spoke on several issues she confidently understood Kavanaugh’s position. On the issue of abortion and the importance of precedent, Collin’s speech included this:
There has also been considerable focus on the future of abortion rights based on the concern that Judge Kavanaugh would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade. Protecting this right is important to me. To my knowledge, Judge Kavanaugh is the first Supreme Court nominee to express the view that precedent is not merely a practice and tradition, but rooted in Article 3 of our Constitution itself. He believes that precedent is not just a judicial policy, it is constitutionally dictated to pay attention and pay heed to rules of precedent. In other words, precedent isn’t a goal or an aspiration. It is a constitutional tenet that has to be followed except in the most extraordinary circumstances.
The judge further explained that precedent provides stability, predictability, reliance and fairness. There are, of course, rare and extraordinary times where the Supreme Court would rightly overturn a precedent. The most famous example was when the Supreme Court in Brown vs. The Board of Education overruled Plessy vs. Ferguson, correcting a “grievously wrong decision” to use the judge’s term, allowing racial inequality. But someone who believes that the importance of precedent has been rooted in the Constitution would follow long-established precedent except in those rare circumstances where a decision is grievously wrong or deeply inconsistent with the law. Those are Judge Kavanaugh’s phrases.
As the judge asserted to me, a long-established precedent is not something to be trimmed, narrowed, discarded, or overlooked. Its roots in the Constitution give the concept of stare decisis greater weight simply because a judge might want to on a whim. In short, his views on honoring precedent would preclude attempts to do by stealth that which one has committed not to do overtly.
Noting that Roe v. Wade was decided 45 years ago and reaffirmed 19 years later in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, I asked Judge Kavanaugh whether the passage of times is relevant to following precedent. He said decisions become part of our legal framework with the passage of time and that honoring precedent is essential to maintaining public confidence. Our discussion then turned to the right of privacy on which the Supreme Court relied in Griswold vs. Connecticut, a case that struck down a law banning the use and sale of contraceptions. Griswold established the legal foundation that led to Roe eight years later. In describing Griswold as established law, Judge Kavanaugh observed that it was the correct application of two famous cases from the 1920’s, Meyer and Pierce that are not seriously challenged by anyone today.
Finally, in his testimony, he noted repeatedly that Roe had been upheld by Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, describing it as a precedent. When I asked him would it be sufficient to overturn a long-established precedent if five current justices believed that it was wrongly decided, he emphatically said “no.”Senator Susan Collins speech on the Senate floor, October 5, 2018
Either Kavanaugh lied to Collins, or Collins lied to the American people. One thing becomes increasingly clear — the Supreme Court is a political entity, with the Republicans now firmly in control of America’s legal system. We are heading down a seriously dark, dangerous path.
Dark Side of the Swamp
“I truly feel sorry for our friend. He’s never had a days peace. On the other side of this, he’s exposed a very dark side of the swamp that’s far worse than I ever imagined and I am not particularly optimistic for the future.”Fox celebrity Sean Hannity to White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows – December 12, 2020
Jackass of the Week Nomination
Kansas state representative from, Republican Cheryl Helmer, said she does not “appreciate the huge transgender female who is now in our restrooms in the Capitol,” obviously referring to her colleague, Rep. Stephanie Byers, the first transgender legislator in Kansas, and a Democrat.
Helmer, from Mulvane, responding in an email to a University of Kansas graduate student, saying she was a biology major in college, said that she knows “the difference biologically between a male and a woman.”
…”no surgeon can cut, remove, wop, add to change the biology that is chemically occurring in each and every fiber, bone and molecule of every human being.”Kansas State Representative Cheryl Helmer
I used to think people who made statements like those by Helmer were simply stupid. Now I think they’re just hateful.
“A doctor can inject meds and dilute but cannot destroy what God has done in the perfection of the HUMAN BEING, Helmer added. We as women have humans that are much larger, stronger, more adrenaline and testosterone and therefore possibly more dangerous and we have to share our restrooms. Not only that but our wee little girls in elementary and middle and high school are having to be exposed and many have been raped, sodomized and beaten in the restrooms by these supposedly transgenders who may or may not be for real.”
I think Helmer has gone out of her way to contradict herself. Whatever/whoever created Helmer (Mom and Pop Helmer?) clearly goofs up on occasion.
Just how hateful must your community be to elect someone like this to office?
Jackass of the Week
The first nomination for Jackass Of the Week (JOTW) goes to LA Sheriff, Alex Villanueva.
CNN reports that on Tuesday, Sheriff Villanueva “alarmed press freedom advocates by lashing out at a press conference and indicating that a Los Angeles Times reporter was under criminal investigation. Later in the day, he attempted to walk back his alarming comments, but it’s important to understand the background, including Villanueva’s highly controversial behavior and his attacks against the media.”
Of course, Villanueva is another in a long line of public officials trying their best to parrot the actions of the former president of the United States, Donald John Trump. It was Trump, more than any politician before him who convinced millions of Americans not to trust in the reporting of the press — in fact, he referred to them as the enemy of our government. If you can convince people to ignore the best source of credible information, you can get away with anything. And that’s exactly what he tried to do. In this case, a law enforcement officer who can convince the citizens to not believe the warnings and findings of the press can be extremely dangerous.
Villanueva has repeatedly singled out LA Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian, who is just doing her job by covering his department. Tchekmedyian has published a series of stories about an incident in which a deputy kneeled on an inmate — including an article on Monday regarding an allegation that Villanueva was implicated in a coverup.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Villanueva displayed and pointed to a photo of Tchekmedyian, plus one of his political rivals and the sheriff’s inspector general. Arrows implied a connection between all three. Villanueva referred to video of the incident that Tchekmedyian had obtained as “stolen property.” And he declared that he was investigating “all parties” involved in the matter. When repeatedly asked whether Tchekmedyian was specifically under investigation, Villanueva responded that “all parties to the act” were being probed.
Of course, Villanueva’s up for reelection this year.
Villanueva gets our first nomination for JOTW. We’ll be watching.
Select Committee Filing Narrows Meadows Inquiry
In a 68-page filing on April 22, 2022 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Case No. 1:21-cv-3217-CJN), the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capital (Select Committee) posits that because of information they’ve obtained from other sources, they are now able to narrow the focus of the issues they need Meadows to address with the Committee to “seven discrete topics”:
- Testimony regarding non-privileged documents (including text and email communications) that Mr. Meadows has already provided to the Select Committee in response to the subpoena, and testimony about events that Mr. Meadows has already publicly described in his book and elsewhere;
- Testimony and documents regarding post-election efforts by the Trump campaign, the Trump legal team, and Mr. Meadows to create false slates of Presidential electors, or to pressure or persuade state and local officials and legislators to take actions to change the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election;
- Testimony and documents relating to communications with Members of Congress in preparation for and during the events of January 6th;
- Testimony and documents regarding the plan, in the days before January 6th, to replace Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Mr. Jeffrey Clark so that the Department could corruptly change its conclusions regarding election fraud;
- Testimony and documents relating to efforts by President Trump to instruct, direct, persuade or pressure Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes on January 6th;
- Testimony and documents relating to activity in the White House immediately before and during the events of January 6th; and
- Testimony and documents relating to meetings and communications with individuals not affiliated with the federal government regarding the efforts to change the results of the 2020 election.
On September 23, 2001, the Select Committee issued a subpoena to Mark Meadows, former White House Chief of Staff under former president Donald Trump. Meadows agreed to appear before the Committee to provide testimony on December 8, 2021. Meadows, on December 7, 2021 informed the Committee that he had changed his mind and would not appear the following day as originally agreed.
Instead, Meadows filed suit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the Select Committee. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, asks the court to invalidate two subpoenas that the panel had issued to Meadows and Verizon, the carrier for his prior personal cell phone, calling them “overly broad and unduly burdensome.”
On December 14, 2021, the House voted 222-208 to hold the former White House Chief of Staff in criminal contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with the Committee.
The most recent filing by the Select Committee asks that Meadows’ suits be dismissed
Committee Report rationale for contempt citation
In it’s report filed in the House (Report:117-216), the Committee explains it’s rationale for the charge:
“To be clear Mr. Meadow’s failure to comply, and this contempt recommendation, are not based on good-faith disagreements over privilege assertions. Rather, Mr. Meadows has failed to comply and warrants contempt findings because he has wholly refused to appear to provide any testimony and refused to answer questions regarding even clearly non-privileged information — information that he himself has identified as non-privileged through his own document production.
Mr. Meadow’s relevant documents and testimony are necessary to the Select Committee’s investigation for many additional reasons. Mr. Meadows also reportedly participated in meetings and communicated with senior Department of Justice (DOJ) officials about unsupported election-fraud claims and litigation aimed at disrupting or overturning the election results. Mr. Meadows reportedly participated in a contentious meeting at the White House with private individuals and others linked to Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign during which Mr. Trump and others discussed seizing voting machines and invoking certain laws including the National Emergencies Act for election-related purposes because of purported fraud in the election. Mr. Meadows reportedly joined a January 2 call with Mr. Trump and State and Federal officials to discuss overturning certain States’ electoral college results on January 6, and later sent the former Vice President’s staff a memo drafted by a Trump campaign lawyer urging the Vice President to delay or decline the counting of votes from certain States. Mr. Meadows was also reportedly in contact with at least one of the individuals who planned and organized a January 6 rally, one of whom may have expressed safety concerns to Mr. Meadows about the event. In short, Mr. Meadows appears to have participated in, and been a witness to, critically important communications and events that took place before and on January 6, and the Congress is entitled to hear his first-hand testimony regarding his actions and knowledge. The Select Committee expects such testimony to be directly relevant to its report and recommendations for legislative and other action.”