Update from the Sunland
12.10.20 – 18.10.20
Congressional hearings for the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barratt were held this week. Judge Barrett’s constitutional law professorship at the University of Notre Dame served her well. Her tone in answering senatorial questions was markedly better than the responses of Brett Kavanaugh. I watched the questioning of Judge Barratt and listened intently to her answers. I will note that she is a most impressive person. I liked and appreciated her answers. As a jurist, she appears to be imminently qualified to take the seat vacated by Justice Ginsburg’s passing. If she had been nominated to replace Justice Scalia, I would enthusiastically support her confirmation. One third of senators and all representatives would normally be campaigning in the last weeks of the silly season. Not so here. They are striving mightily to confirm Judge Barratt and pass another stimulus bill before the election. The Senate Republicans have the votes they need to impose their will upon all of the rest of us. However, these are not normal times. Two important, relevant, and vital facts contribute to my rejection of Judge Barratt’s nomination.
1.) Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans violated the Constitution in 2016 in their refusal to consider or hold a vote in accordance with the Constitution regarding President Obama’s nominee to fill Justice Scalia’s seat nine months before the election. President Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty; the Republican-controlled Senate of the day did not. Worst, the Republicans do not care a hoot about the Constitution or the gross hypocrisy; they only care about their political power. If the Senate Republicans had not stolen President Obama’s constitutional nomination, I would feel differently; however, tit-for-tat is appropriate.
2.) As noted above, if Judge Barrett was being considered to replace Justice Scalia, I would support her confirmation, but she is not. She is being considered to replace Justice Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg was not an originalist; Judge Barrett is a self-professed originalist. The potential impact of such a dramatic shift in the Supreme Court ideology is incalculable. I fear for our freedom of choice and fundamental right to privacy with Judge Barratt on the Supreme Court. She is the moral projectionist’s dream come true.
I know, recognize and acknowledge that the BIC’s loyal supporters do not care a hoot about the Republican shenanigans, after all it is their tribe that benefits. They stole a Supreme Court seat—so what! All’s fair in love and war, and this is war to protect the power of our tribe. So yes, the BIC and the Senate Republicans have the constitutional right to do what they are doing now despite the fact that it is a morally reprehensible action. Morality, smo-rality, who cares? They are getting us the white, male, conservative judges we need to retain power as a diminishing minority, and of course, the ends justify the means. So, what’s next? . . . extra-judicial killing of anyone who opposes the Republican tribe? The blatant, public, overt, voter suppression actions by Republican governors in Texas, Georgia, and elsewhere are just additional demonstrations of how bloody desperate Republicans are to retain their grip on the instruments of State. While the BIC and Republican statements, words, actions, and activities are deeply depressing, I have faith that freedom shall prevail. It may take a generation or two, perhaps long after I am gone, but I still have faith that freedom shall prevail
Notable was Senator Cruz’s absence and virtual participation because he was exposed in close proximity to a COVID19 positive person. He chose to not attend as a cautionary action. On the other hand, Senator Lee of Utah, who has tested positive for COVID19 decided it was his right to show up at the hearings without a mask to prove what a freedom-loving tough guy and staunch supporter of the BIC he is. Point made! Message received! Cruz claimed all 29 times that the supreme court nominations arose during an election year. He was betting that none of us would know the history. He falsely stated the facts as I illuminated in last week’s Update . Further, he grossly distorted the facts to justify the unconstitutional action by the Senate in 2016.
The Republicans raised the aspect of religion; not the Democrats. Perhaps the Republicans are feeling guilty. I can only surmise their repeated focus on religion was intended to stimulate the BIC’s base of support.
For these reasons, I urge senators to reject Judge Barratt’s confirmation.
I finally got around to watching the HBO Documentary Films presentation of “Agents of Chaos” initially broadcast 23.September.2020. The film is a documentary directed and narrated by Alex Gibney and centers upon a Russian troll farm known as:
Internet Research Agency (IRA)
55 Savushkina Street
Saint Petersburg, Russia
The two-part, four-hour, documentary illuminated Russian cyber-warfare capabilities, activities, and successes beginning in 2013 against the Ukraine. The film was not kind to either Hillary Clinton or the BIC, for vastly different reasons. The film demonstrated the consequences of Clinton’s decision to use her private eMail server for both private and official government communications—an unprecedented vulnerability exploited by the Russians. The film was no less harsh on the BIC and his 2016 campaign for his outright collaboration, if not collusion, with the Russians. Russian trolls harmonized the BIC’s rhetoric and enhanced the divisions. The Russian trolls stoked the conspiracist’s appetite for intrigue and malfeasance. Putin’s strategy only works because the United States is a vulnerable country as a consequence of our societal divisions and tribalism. I do not think there was sufficient detail to answer the chicken-and-egg question, i.e., did the Russians lead the BIC or vice versa? The BIC’s affinity for conspiracy theories and his willingness to spread those theories made him a very ripe target. Add in his apparent indebtedness to former Soviet lenders compounded the vulnerability. If you have even the slightly curiosity or concern about Russian cyber-warfare activities, I strongly urge you to watch the “Agents of Chaos” when you can devote careful attention to the detailed information provided.
There are myriad examples of grossly inflammatory rhetoric, but this one deserves my illumination. Actor Scott Baio publicly stated, “If you’re not hiring me because I’m a conservative, shame on you. If there’s a civil war, then don’t forget who has all the guns.” Well, ol’ Scott, I do believe you are delusional just like your vaunted BIC. If there is to be another civil war, you and your tribe are not the only citizens who own and know how to use firearms. Some of “the others” took a solemn oath of office, believe in that oath, and are prepared to defend the principles that founded this once grand republic.
A friend and consistent contributor sent along two relevant articles for consideration.
“The Beginning of the End of American Exceptionalism”
by The Interpreter
New York Times
Published: October 13, 2020
To which, I replied:
I agree fully and expansively. I would add further that American exceptionalism is exactly what brought us the Ugly American Syndrome, a trait I historically and resoundingly condemn. American exceptionalism also defies the very essence of the principles that founded this once grand republic that “all men [in the broader, more expansive, generic context of mankind] are created equal.” How on God’s little green earth can we possibly believe we are superior and still believe all men are created equal. American exceptionalism has misled us and caused far more injury than any American would care to admit. Our American predecessors sought to impose freedom on other peoples in that sense of superiority and that rendered us to another version of the oppressor. Some people choose Communism; some people choose the dictator. The reality and equality of it is that is their choice, not ours. We have always tried to walk a fine line in supporting those who seek freedom, but that notion has induced us to make gravely dangerous mistakes. History is replete with examples. The closing line says it all: “Perhaps that is what makes losing faith in American exceptionalism so painful: confronting that it may have never been as real as Americans wanted to believe in the first place.”
The second article:
“How the Democracy Sausage Gets Made — or Doesn’t”
by The Interpreter
New York Times
Published: October 15, 2020
To which, I replied:
Another one I agree with 100%. The signs of blatant Republican voter suppression are far too obvious, undeniable, and reprehensible. These are the actions of a violently desperate minority [“stand back and stand by”] struggling mightily to hold onto some tenuous grasp of power. I see this election more and more as the moment we must relegate that whole group to distant, powerless, and ignorable minority status. Their time has passed. No wonder the Russians are so energetic in their election malfeasance; one little flick of the finger and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. I suppose we should thank ol’ Vlad’ Putin and his orange lackey, AKA the BIC, for exposing the real America. We are a third world, banana republic with a pretty face and some fancy lipstick. ‘Make America Great Again’ . . . I could puke. I just hope and pray the citizens of Kentucky are strong enough to be rid of ‘Moscow Mitch.’ The damage he has done is incalculable.
Dueling town halls as a consequence of the BIC’s cowardly refusing to participate in the Debate Commission’s non-partisan town hall occurred on Thursday evening. Joe Biden’s took place in Philadelphia. I was not as much concerned about policies since a president is not a dictator or king (regardless of what the BIC thinks of himself). There were clearly topics he did not want to answer. I was impressed that he stayed after the event to follow-up with several attendees. The BIC’s was held in Miami. Savannah Guthrie dominated the early part, it was just an interview; she certainly challenged him, but he did his usual deny, deflect, confuse, bounce over everywhere. He was combative, not responsive, and continued with his blatant lies. He looked and acted healthy, so his COVID19 treatment worked for him. He waves his hands, makes outrageous claims, and does nothing other than serve his tribe. Positivity is good, false positivity is a lie and destructive. The BIC claimed he was OK with masks, tells people to wear masks, but he saw something somewhere that 85% of those wearing masks became infected with COVID19. He does this all the freakin’ time. He distorts and outright lies; he cannot give us the facts. The BIC says he knows about the radical left, but he knows nothing about the radical right. And, he expects us to believe him. I do not think so.
The Nielsen Ratings for the dueling town halls clearly favored Biden—14.1 for Biden, 10.9 for the BIC (or a cumulative 13.5 for the whole NBC network). That factual reality has to really grate upon the BIC’s malignant narcissism—biggest crowd ever.
The dramatic contrast came on the same day when Governor Chris Christie, who had been in the ICU with COVID19 induced pneumonia, publicly stated, “I was wrong to not wear a mask.” At least, Christie is man enough to admit when he was wrong.
Then, we have Senator Benjamin Eric ‘Ben’ Sasse of Nebraska who slammed the BIC for his outrageous conduct.
The way he kisses dictators' butts. I mean, the way he ignores that the Uyghurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn't lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers. I mean he and I have a very different foreign policy. It is not that he just fails to lead our allies, it is that United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership. The way he treats women and spends like a drunken sailor. The ways I criticized President Obama for that kind of spending I've criticized President Trump for as well. He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He's flirted with White supremacists. I mean the places where we differed on the COVID. At the beginning to the COVID crisis, he refused to treat it seriously for months. He treated it like a news cycle by news cycle PR crisis rather than a multi-year public health challenge, which is what it is.
-- 15.October.2020 [Emphasis mine.]
As is his nature, the BIC was not happy with such criticism, especially from a Republican senator; no need to repeat the BIC’s words—just more of the same. No, the BIC has made our choice in two weeks, very, very easy. He has done this to himself.
Bottom line: the two programs were a dramatic contrast between the two men. Again my threshold is very low—stability and humanity. By that low threshold criteria, the contrast was graphically obvious, and my decision is very easily made. I want a president who acts presidential, not like a common schoolyard bully.
A week ago Friday, the BIC suffered yet another judicial defeat; this one in the continuing legal challenge to the BIC’s emergency declaration and diversion of military construction funds in his attempt to plump up the congressionally authorized funds for segments of the BIC’s beloved border wall. The 2-1 9th Circuit panel ruling dealt with the presidential declaration and a host of plaintiffs including 18 states—Sierra Club v. Trump [9CCA No. 19-17501; D.C. No. 4:19-cv-00892- HSG; California v. Trump: Nos. 19-17502 (2020), 20-15044 (2020), D.C. No. 4:19-cv-00872-HSG]. Congress allocated only US$1.375B of the US$5.7B he requested for border wall construction. Not satisfied, the BIC issued Proclamation No. 9844, invoking §1601 of the National Emergencies Act [PL 94–412; 90 Stat. 1255; 14.9.1976] and directed the Secretary of Defense to divert US$3.6B of congressionally mandated funds from approved military construction projects to make up the gap in border wall funding for 11 border wall projects totaling 175 of 1,954 total miles of land border with Mexico. The court determined the law did not support the BIC’s actions. The court affirmed the district court’s permanent injunction. I assume the BIC will appeal to the Supremes, although there is no guarantee the court will accept the appeal. For a man who claims he never loses, the BIC has suffered quite a few defeats in court, and I suspect his list of losses will continue to grow.
Comments and contributions from Update no.978:
Comment to the Blog:
“Per the New York Times this morning, while Sweden is notable for not bothering with masks and some of the other nonsense, they have instituted a ban on large gatherings. Hence, the White House ‘superspreader’ event in support of Judge Barrett couldn’t have happened there. Sweden’s plan to deal with the virus is proceeding.
“You’re too deep in your own context. Please mention the content of Trump vs. Vance.
“I’m a policy voter. As such, I’m used to ignoring words in favor of actual results. The Chump’s results are abominable.
“In re our discussion of voting: it turns out our ballot has a limited number of candidates. The Libertarians are running a woman, Jo Jorgensen, for president. I disagree with some of their policies, but I encourage those who have not voted to study their platform https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/what-you-should-know-about-the-2020-libertarian-party-platform/ because it’s reasonable that they will actually try to carry it out if they succeed. I’ll admit to finding much to agree with there. The Green Party is not named on our ballot but their candidate, Howie Hawkins, is. Hawkins is at least under 70, and those are almost exactly my policy positions. Hawkins got my vote. Those are the only candidates with ballot access to at least 270 Electoral College votes. That is enough to win if the candidate got all of them.
“You had a busy week with comments. That’s probably a good thing.
“One of your other commentators describes Senator Harris as appealing to ‘extreme’ voters. On what planet?
“If your other correspondent didn’t want to be on a blog (“this is a friendly email”), they should’ve requested it be private.”
My response to the Blog:
You know, I must confess that I have become numb to the idiocy of the BIC. The BIC’s consistent total disregard for the anti-contagion guidance has pushed me to the threshold of I-don’t-care-anymore. Let them gather up together and infect each other. Let them kill themselves off—Darwin’s theory is in play. We will just have to pray we will not need a hospital ICU bed until they have killed each other off in sufficient numbers to reduce demand on hospital capacity. We are witnessing a form of mass suicide, not unlike the Jim Jones induced mass suicide of 18.November.1978; I am pained to watch, but the BIC’s magic snake-oil elixir is just a slower acting version of Jim Jones’s grape Kool-aid. The challenge to the rest of us (while they kill each other) is to avoid becoming collateral damage like Leo Ryan was.
In short, the various versions of Trump v. Vance are a judicial contest on whether a sitting president must comply with a state grand jury subpoena. [Just an FYI: the companion case is Trump vs. Mazars that deals with compliance with federal (congressional) subpoenas, although the SDNY appears close to joining.] Both cases center upon the BIC’s tax returns.
I am curious and intrigued by policy, but presidents do not make law. I am far more focused on character. Does the candidate have the traits of leadership, integrity, morality, and just common sense? I have been quite vociferous against the BIC from a long time before he even declared his candidacy. He has proven my assessment correct far beyond my wildest imagination—unfortunately. As I stated earlier, my bar is very freakin’ low; I just want stability and humanity in the next president. Joe Biden is the best of the lot in the current silly season.
Jo Jorgensen is a better Libertarian candidate than Gary Johnson was in 2016. She qualifies by my very low standard. However, as stated earlier, presidents do not make laws, so how would a Libertarian president get anything done? The same applies to the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins.
Yeah, it was a busy week last week. Better that we are conversing and debating issues . . . well, at least expressing ourselves.
I can offer no explanation for the comments/opinions of others.
. . . Round two:
“In a more moderate view, perhaps the Chump’s remaining in-person rallies, tightly packed as always, will make enough of his followers ill with COVID or flu to cut GOP turnout in some close races.
“Presidents don’t make a law directly but, as we are seeing, they affect those who do. The Constitutional checks and balances assure that. Character plays a part, but let’s not mistake appearance for performance. History remains the best predictor of future performance.
“Were a Green or Libertarian candidate elected, they would have the power of their office. Also, the fact of their election would change the actions of others seeking votes.”
. . . my response to round two:
There is always that. We, the People, do not get to decide. The BIC has decided that defiance is the way to go for him. So, while the BIC’s magic snake-oil elixir may not itself be toxic or deadly, the consequence of consumption of that noxious substance have already become deadly, e.g., Herman Cain after attending the BIC’s Tulsa rally without a mask. How many more will die as a result of attending one of the BIC’s defiant campaign rallies will likely never be known. One is too many.
Quite so. In full agreement. Case in point: FDR’s Lend-Lease Program passed in three months in a highly isolationist nation.
Perhaps. Teddy Roosevelt came the closest to testing that hypothesis, but unfortunately, the theory has not yet been tested. I know you have railed against a simple anti-BIC vote and rightly so I must say. However, as I have repeatedly stated, I see the BIC singularly as a clear and present danger to this once grand republic. He must be removed from office and stripped of his handling of the instruments of State. Diluting or spreading our votes among other non-BIC candidates does NOT serve that purpose. These are NOT normal times thanks almost solely to the BIC. Extraordinary action is required, IMHO.
. . . Round three:
“My point about the Chump's rallies is not deaths, though. I found a death rate (from the CDC in May) of 0.25%. However, this virus is quite contagious, and the timing of rallies right now is such that cases of the virus would peak very near Election Day. The flu virus has a different cycle, but peak season is beginning. People infected next week would be sick on Election Day. Of course, early voting could be a factor in this, but The Chump has scared the daylights out of his followers about the mail-in part of that, which a person could perform while ill.”
. . . my response to round three:
Quite right. I should have been more complete in my response. You are, of course, quite correct. The central issue is the infection rate—the contagiousness of the virus. The transmission of the virus to others is the root matter. The virus, may or may not, prove life threatening or fatal to an infected person, but he might well infect others for whom the virus is indeed fatal. I do not see COVID19 as generally different from Ebola, HIV, syphilis, or another other potentially fatal contagion. The individual who does not abide the anti-contagious guidelines is waving a slow-acting gun at all of us—may not be fatal but very easily could be. The law does not differentiate—attempted murder is just as serious as realized murder.
My very best wishes to all. Take care of yourselves and each other.