Category Archives: commentary

The GOP Clown Show

It is said that insanity is repeating the same action over and over expecting to get a different outcome. At least we have a name to put on the Republican clown show on full exhibit in the House of Representatives.

With the entire world watching Republicans, who hold a narrow majority in the House, have failed to muster a majority in the vote for Speaker, the powerful leadership position vacated by Democrat Nancy Pelosi following her party’s loss in the last election.

Eleven times in three days the Representatives-elect have voted for Speaker. Each time Democrats have been unified, voting for Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Jeffries would be the first African American to lead the House of Representatives and each time he has received the most votes. But each time Jeffries has fallen short of a majority for the simple reason that the Democrats do not have the majority.

The majority is held by the Republicans, who in speech after speech have proclaimed their victory indicates a clear mandate from the American people to change the direction of government. If you believe that, I have a gavel I’d like to sell you.

The Republican majority is the result of extreme gerrymandering and a series of false steps by Democrats who, among other disasters, managed to lose four seats in the Democratic stronghold of New York.

But this is a story about Republicans, whose majority leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, has failed in eleven votes to fulfill his lifetime goal of becoming Speaker. McCarthy has a solid two hundred votes, numbering among them more than one hundred insurrectionists who voted to overthrow the legally elected president in the January 6 coup attempt just two years ago.

But McCarthy falls short because he has repeatedly failed to convince another twenty Republicans to go his way. These twenty are, if it is possible, even more insane than McCarthy and his followers. While the McCarthy crew strives to take power while exhibiting nothing in the way of policy or strategy, or any indication they are prepared to govern, the crazier twenty appear to want to destroy the government as we know it without any plan beyond the chaos they desire.

McCarthy has been reportedly making tremendous concessions to the crazy twenty, in effect turning the speaker’s gavel over to them, but it has not proven to be enough to win their votes. He has even called in the insurrectionist in chief, Donnie Trump, to make calls to the crazy twenty on his behalf. Trump’s calls did not change a single vote.

There is of course, a bipartisan compromise. It would only take a dozen or so Republicans, who actually want to see a functioning government, to agree on a compromise candidate Democrats could support. That would produce a bipartisan majority to elect a speaker. Don’t hold your breath.

And so, we sit, going into a fourth day and a twelfth ballot, with the world watching, wondering if the Republicans can get their act together.

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Our House is a Mess

For the first time in one hundred years, the House of Representatives could not elect a Speaker on the first ballot.

As the 118th Congress convenes, the first order of House business is the election of a new speaker — and current Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California is being stymied by a group of GOP hardliners demanding concessions.

To win the gavel, McCarthy needs a majority of the members-elect who are present and voting. But because the GOP holds only a five-seat advantage, a small number of defections is so far stopping McCarthy from gaining the office he’s long sought. In fact, on the first two ballots McCarthy lost his caucus by nineteen votes. That grew to twenty votes on the third ballot. The Democrats were united through it all, supporting minority leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York with their 212 votes.

The House can conduct no other business until a speaker is chosen. For the first time in a century, the vote is requiring multiple rounds.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Republicans are too divided to govern, The Democrats are too stupid to get elected.

Updates as appropriate.

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How Could You?

If you are voting for Democrats, you can leave now. This isn’t for you.

If you are voting for Republicans, or not voting at all. Stick around. I have a question for you.

What the hell are you thinking?

Do you hear the words, “Democracy is on the line” and chuckle? Don’t. It is.

There are more than three hundred people running for election who believe the Big Lie that Donnie Trump won in 2020. He didn’t. Sixty judges and scores of election officials, many of them Republican, said he didn’t. There is hard physical evidence that HE knows he didn’t. NO evidence of improper voting that changed the outcome of the election was discovered anywhere.

The big lie is a politically expedient cover for a coup, a takeover of the government. If these three hundred co-conspirators win this election, your vote in 2024 won’t matter. If their right-wing cabal wins, they will declare the election legitimate. If they come up short at the ballot box, they will throw away your votes and substitute their own. Heads they win, tails everyone else loses.

Just remember, Hitler was elected. So was Mussolini. So was Putin.

And why are you voting against the Democrats and in favor of the insurrectionists? Because your gasoline prices are too high? Guess what? So are mine.

You sit on your rears and let the MAGA Republicans, I use that term because Republicans in the mold of the party of Lincoln could never win a primary in today’s Republican party, tell you that President Biden is to blame for the higher gas prices, and for inflation overall.

Those lies are amplified by the jackals of the right-wing media, led by the Rupert Murdock brigade at Fox. Anyone with a high school education in arithmetic who is willing to do a little research can demonstrate that these are lies. But that takes a little work, and you can’t be bothered.

The principal cause of the current inflation is pent-up demand. We are making up for the Covid years. Remember them? For two years we stayed at home. We didn’t drive. We didn’t fly. We didn’t buy gasoline. Now we are.

There is little President Biden or Congress itself can do in the short run to lower prices. The Federal Reserve can, and is, raising interest rates. That will snuff out the flames of inflation eventually. But the Fed will have to be very skillful, and lucky, to do that without causing a recession.

The Republicans also complain that the Covid stimulus spending was inflationary. Yes, it was. But it was a tradeoff and well worth the balance. Inflation now while cushioning the impact of Covid then. The stimulus kept food on the table. It kept people from losing their homes. It raised disadvantaged children above the poverty rate.

And it helped make the huge loss of jobs a temporary phenomenon. The unemployment rate is now fully recovered from the Covid spike. And this all happened on Joe Biden’s watch.

In fact if you check you will see that the Covid impact was much worse in America than other countries. That’s because of the denial by Trump and the Republican governors. It cost hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

The national debt, which grew during the Covid downturn, has stabilized under the Biden administration. And despite all the caterwauling by the Republicans, the debt does NOT historically rise under Democratic administrations. It DOES rise under Republican administrations because their one and only economic strategy is to lower taxes on the wealthy and corporations so that the richest people in the country get richer and many of the most profitable companies pay little or no tax on their profits. Cut revenue and the debt goes up. Got it?

Go ahead. Look it up. “America,” as the great writer Aaron Sorkin once wrote, “isn’t easy.” Do the work. Stop listening to the lies of Trump, and Steve Bannon, and Rupert Murdock, and Tucker Carlson. Think for yourself.

The Republicans have no plan for inflation. Give them control and all they will do is cut taxes for the rich. Then cut Social Security and Medicare for the rest of us. They will reverse attempts to lower the cost of medicine. And investigate and impeach anyone and everyone in the Biden administration, tying up the government with a few shutdowns along the way until 2024.

And if crime is what’s bothering you, do the homework. Violent crime rates are NOT skyrocketing. Violent crime rates are higher in the red states than in blue states. MAGA Republicans are lying to scare you. And you are falling for it.

Republicans do have plans to convert most government jobs from civil service into political appointments, creating a huge patronage army of loyal subjects. They will make sure the only promotions in the real army go to officers who are willing to use force to achieve their right-wing goals. What Trump, called, “My generals.” They will place a religious litmus test on judicial appointees, who Donnie called, “My judges.” And purge the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and the offices of inspectors general of anyone who would follow the law and stand in their way.

They will delete references to science in government studies, websites, or in Department of Education approved curriculum. They will remove the United States from world organizations and from the world stage and give a green light to and support any authoritarian government the holds out a hand.

And of course, they will enact national restrictions or even a ban on abortion. MAGA Republican Mehmet Oz, running for the senate from Pennsylvania, the state next to his home in New Jersey, told us so. He says the federal government should have no say in a woman’s decision to have an abortion. He believes that decision should be made by the woman, her doctor, and her local government representatives. You can’t make this stuff up

They will also legislate against LGBTQ rights, affirmative action, free speech, immigration reform, and any other so called “woke” movement most of us call civil liberties. They profess to favor civil liberties, but that in their eyes means the liberty to be whatever they believe in.

This is not debatable. The MAGA Republicans have made their intentions clear. And every political poll that I follow indicates they will win.

Samuel Adams said to have a villainous ruler imposed on you was a misfortune. To elect him yourself was a disgrace. The disgrace is upon us. It has been nearly 250 years since the founding. As representative democracies go, it was a decent run.

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Watch Out!

Look to your right. Now look to your left. Look ahead. Slowly, without drawing attention to yourself, turn and look behind. See all the people? Any one of them could be carrying a concealed weapon. They may be deranged. They may have no logical reason to be armed. But the Republican Supreme Court says they can carry weapons. And there is not a thing you can do about it.

The Republican hypocrites on the Court, all six of them, fulfilled the dreams of every member of the National Rifle Association by striking a New York law which had served that state well for one hundred years, setting standards for the carrying of concealed weapons. For the conservatives who hide when convenient behind the idea that states should be able to set local standards on these matters, the hypocrisy is exposed for all to see. This was not unexpected. Republicans have been fighting attempts to restrict guns for years. The vote was 6-3, strictly along party lines. All of Donald Trump’s three appointees voted to strike the law.

The New York law required concealed carry permit applicants to demonstrate a special need for a license, beyond a basic desire for self-defense. Writing the opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the so-called “proper-cause requirement” prevented “law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.”

“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need,” Thomas wrote for the majority. “That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joined the opinion.

The ruling’s broad sweep amounts to a complete overhaul of the court’s Second Amendment doctrine and is expected to call into question a wide range of other gun laws. The court’s decision clears the way for legal challenges to similar restrictions in Maryland, California, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Massachusetts. It follows recent mass killings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, horrifying acts of violence that spurred Congress to advance bipartisan legislation strengthening federal gun laws.

The court’s three Democrats, in dissent, accused the Republican majority of failing to consider “the potentially deadly consequences of its decision.” A 52-page dissent by Justice Stephen Breyer began bluntly. “In 2020, 45,222 Americans were killed by firearms,” he wrote, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. History alone shouldn’t govern the Second Amendment’s application, he wrote, for “it is constitutionally proper, indeed often necessary… to consider the serious dangers and consequences of gun violence that lead States to regulate firearms.”

So now it is done. I have been writing about this ad infinitum, ad nauseam. I am ready to throw up. And to morn. I can now look forward in the years ahead to writing about more gun control laws being stricken by the Republican Supreme Court. And I can plan on writing about more killing and carnage. Make no mistake about it. The carnage does and will lie at the feet of the Republican Party, which favors guns over children. And takes the blood money of the NRA to win elections.

I know I have broken the tradition by referring to the Supreme Court justices as political partisans. Too bad. I call them as I see them. Today’s ruling has been the result of a fifty-year crusade by the NRA and its Republican syncopates to change the meaning of the Second Amendment and to take control of the Court. The second shoe is expected to fall any day with the overturning of Roe v Wade.

With this ruling, the Court continues the strained logic of its 2008 opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller. In Heller, the then 5-4 Republican majority bent over backwards to conclude that the first words of the Second Amendment, “A well-regulated militia,” didn’t actually require regulation nor a connection to a militia. Apparently these strict textualists, who in other places argue that the words of the Constitution are paramount in its interpretation, conveniently relegate those key opening words of the Amendment to the status of an ink blot to be ignored.

Let’s face facts. The Constitution does not mean what it says. It means what a majority of Supreme Court justices say it says.

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A Doolittle for Ukraine

What Ukraine could use is a Jimmy Doolittle. James (Jimmy) Doolittle was a pilot, a Lieutenant Colonel in 1942, when he led a bombing raid on Tokyo. It was just five months after Pearl Harbor, where the Japanese struck the American Naval base in a surprise attack.

Doolittle led sixteen stripped-down B-25 bombers carrying extra fuel and a reduced bombload taking off from the U.S.S. Hornet – a feat never attempted – and struck Tokyo. Fifteen of the planes then flew to the Chinese coast where they ditched and the crews were recovered by Chinese nationalist allies, while the other bomber landed in the Soviet Union.

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In Memoriam

Memorial Day, along with Veterans Day, are the days on which we honor the men and women in uniform who have given their lives to defend our nation. I have always had respect for those who wear the uniform. And I wonder if I would have been able to show their courage and dedication had I been called to do so.

I mean no disrespect, and I certainly hope our soldiers and veterans will not think ill of me, but I find myself moved to commandeer their day to mark another memorial and to write, for what seems the umpteenth time, about a mass killing in America. The twenty-one souls whose faces appear at the top of this columns died at the hands of an eighteen-year-old killer at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

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