1449 days to go
So far we’ve had one or two Constitutional Crises depending on how you want to count. In fiction writing you always want to increase the stakes and the tension and this administration has been doing that, but in reality.
We’ve also had a selection of cabinet nominees who are by just about any measure the most unqualified group that’s ever been put forward by a president. Makes me wonder when “the really good people” are going to be put forward. Most of the nominees have a history of not liking the missions of the departments they’ve been asked to head and have in the past sworn to oppose them, dismantle them, and have actually fought against them. One nominee, Rick Perry, seemed to not understand what his department does. Most of these nominees have ties to businesses that would benefit if those departments didn’t demand that they do things. Things that improve the well being of this country. Things like not destroying our air, water, land and the planet. But they got to make a profit right?
So much for the really terrific people pledge.
This is a review of what happened yesterday and I wish yesterday had been Monday, not Tuesday, because then I could have called it Mangled Metaphor Monday, which has a nice assonant ring to it. Unfortunately, I’m Left with Mangled Metaphor Tuesday (MMT) or Terrible Analogy Tuesday (TAT) one sounds like a designer drug made from bath crystals and the other from an odd sexual practice, but that’s what we’re stuck with.
Yesterday was breathtaking. Not as in “beautiful” but as in “OMG can you believe this sh*t! ???” It was kind of subtle at first, but when you sit back and consider the entirety of it, “It blows your mind, Man.” (Thanks Cheech.)
I was sitting in the car dealership while getting the cars inspected and I was watching the committee considering Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary. When I first started listening the Democratic senators were making their arguments as to why they found her wanting. I’ll leave their reasons alone for a bit while I go to Richard Burr (R-NC) and his thoughts on why her nomination should go forward. He, to me, epitomizes what is wrong with Washington. Years ago, when he was my senator and the Dems were in charge. The Senate Armed Forces Committee was meeting. Apparently, if you go past 2 o’clock or within two hours of quitting time (not sure which it is but it has something to do with two hours.) The chairperson, in this case Lisa Murkowski, has to ask if the members of the committee would mind staying. In other words Do you mind working a full day? On this day a front line general fighting in either Iraq or Afghanistan was on the docket to testify. He needed to get back to the war effort, you know to keep America safe and all that.
What do you think Senator Burr’s response was? “I don’t have any objection personally, but some in my party do, so I must object.”
I usually try to stay away from ad hominem arguments (i.e. personal attacks) but I make an exception for this person, because as I said he represents what is wrong in Washington: a mealy mouthed, spineless hunk of protoplasm doing his masters’ bidding. I hope he never visits Russia because Putin would make him his lap dog.
Burr needed to stay in the good graces of Mitch “The Turtle” McConnell so he could stay on the Veterans Affairs Committee and do the good work of blocking every bill trying to provide aid to veterans with his wimpy reasoning of “Gee, I’d love to but we can’t afford it” response. War? oh sure no problem.
Let’s listen to Senator Burr’s response to the Democrats’ objections to DeVos. Here’s the basic shuck and jive, “Gosh, here’s a woman who saw a problem (Detroit schools) and tried, really tried, and you don’t want to give her a chance? She even contributed some of her own money, and Senator Franken I find it unconscionable that you went on The Rachel Maddow Show and said you Democrats had been on a retreat and came up with a strategy to block her nomination and all the nominees.”
Pretty devastating right?
If you’re going to take on one of the best comedy writers of one of the most successful satirical comedy TV shows of all time I’d advise you to at least have your facts straight. But before we get to Senator Franken’s response let’s hear from Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA). Take it away Johnny!!!
“Ya know, a person coming into a new job can’t be expected to know every little thing about that job. My wife’s been a teacher for 48 years and I pledge that I will personally help Ms. DeVos with whatever she needs to learn.”
Well isn’t that special? (to quote Church Lady) The Democrats’ main problem with Ms. DeVos was that she knew nothing: nothing about the job. So old Johnny would be mighty busy. He’d have to object to staying a full day because he’d have to run over and explain to Betsy what was what and we have no idea what he knows about education. Was he offering to run between his teacher wife and Ms. DeVos with whatever he had learned? Hard to say.
Somewhere along the line the Democrats must have been accused of not liking charter schools because Ms. DeVos was a big advocate of them. At least if they were Christian and she had a stake in the business, and if it drained money from the public schools.
Here were the Democrats concerns:
- Warren: DeVos has no public school experience, She didn’t answer any of the questions satisfactorily. She has no loan experience and the Department of Education oversees a one trillion dollar student loan program.
- Franken: Echoed Warren’s concerns and elaborated that not only could DeVos not answer a single question competently but she showed no understanding of the basic education issues facing the country.
- Murphy: (I think it was Murphy) Yes, DeVos had done some charter school work in Detroit, which had funneled money out of the Detroit public schools leaving them worse off, and which he believed she had a financial interest in those charter schools. Those schools performed more poorly than the Detroit Public Schools. (That’s saying something if you are doing worse than one of the worst public school systems in the country btw imho.)
- Murray: Wanted to change the committee rules to come in line with other similar committees and demand three years of tax returns of any nominee. DeVos had not been properly vetted by the Ethics Committee and they still didn’t know the extent of her finances, especially in regards to for profit charter schools. (Republican chairman Alexander said she had given the committee some paper with numbers on it that were her stated income etc. so he was satisfied.)
Another Democratic Senator whose name I didn’t catch has a son with special needs. She said she was shocked to learn that DeVos didn’t know much, if anything, about the Child with Disabilities Act.
Several of the Democratic Senators made a point of saying they weren’t opposed to charter schools as the Republicans had suggested. Some had some very good well functioning ones in their states. DeVos had drained money out of the public school system to put money into religiously based charter schools that didn’t do a good job. Also, the senator with the special needs child pointed out that if you were forced to enroll in a charter school because the public school didn’t have the facilities for your child you had to give up your rights for that child to get the care they needed from the public school, and if you couldn’t afford the charter school because the voucher you got didn’t cover the tuition completely and you were poor and couldn’t make up the difference – too bad, so sad.
Then Senator Franken responded to Senator Burr. (This was the only sort of discussion that I saw. Otherwise, it was Senators talking into microphones with no response from the other side.) What did Al have to say to Richard? Well, yes he had been on The Rachel Maddow Show, and he was asked a specific question and he has the transcript if the senator would like to see it. The question he was asked was had the Democrats decided on a strategy to block all the nominees? He had told her, “No.” In fact, as evidence he had already voted for three of the nominees. The problem with DeVos was she not only knew nothing about the job, what it entailed, or how to deal with it, she had a demonstrable record of failure in the area of education. As far as Democrats going on a retreat and coming up with a strategy. Yes, they had done that. He asked, “Have you ever done that?” This was the only time I heard laughter and it came from the peanut gallery.
I was wondering if they were laughing thinking about the time Obama, early in his Presidency, went to a Republican retreat in Baltimore to try and work with them, to get their support. This is where I first saw the work of Paul Ryan. He was praised as one of the up and coming stars of the Republican party, the boy wonder. He had created a budget, and that was printed up and on display at this retreat. I remember Boehner holding it up to his chest like he was carrying a holy book, or maybe he wanted to make sure it would catch any bullets to the chest. Obama shows up and says, “Let’s work together.” Okay, fine. They’ve got this budget. Fox News is covering it live. What was it 440 Republicans to 1 Democrat? Obama says, “Great you got a budget. Let’s see it.” He flips to a page and reads. It says something like “We want to reduce the cost of government.” Obama says, “You can’t govern from this.” There’s silence. Fox News all of a sudden has something else to do and cuts away. It turns out Ryan didn’t include any numbers in his budget other than page numbers. This is the boy wonder who’s going to save the Republican party? God help them. Or was the laughter because they were thinking about the famous steakhouse conference before Obama got inaugurated where the leadership of the Republican party decided they would block and obstruct everything Obama tried to do? Screw the people. It’s hard to say. Franken went on to say, “If you don’t (have a strategy) you better.” It was left unsaid that the orange one was in the White House signing Executive Orders like he’s an emperor, not consulting with anyone.
This brings up the question of who actually wrote the executive orders?
Had the president seen them before he signed them? Why was he reading part of them out loud before signing?
Could he even see them? It had been reported that he has a fear of stairs, but that might be explained by poor eyesight. He had to grab hold of the British Prime Minister at one point when walking down a flight of stairs.
Now we get to the Muslim ban. It’s not a Muslim ban it’s an immigration order, remember? I love boy wonder Ryan’s statement, “We need to pause to get it right.” Get what right? What plans do you have to do that? You know to get it right?
There is, was, no problem. (Except and until the mind of Donald Trump said there was and lo there was a problem. And the Donald said there was a problem and the minions said Yes, there is a problem. What they asked “is the problem?”)
So I’m betting after a pause they’ll announce they’ve solved the problem or they’ll double down and put us on red alert or some such and throw a few more countries on the list (but none where Trump has business ties.)
Then it came out that Republican staffers has volunteered to work on the immigration ban and they had signed non-disclosures. According to a lawyer who had actually read the EO (Executive Order) and argued against it in court, he said the order was vague and it wasn’t clear whether it applied to green card holders or not. See, this is the funny thing about lawyers, they read. Then based on what they read they go into court and say, “According to what I read.” Strange huh? If there was a team of Republican staff volunteers working on this EO and the best they can do is come up with a vague statement that a judge, and all the lawyers in the room aren’t sure of its meaning then I’d say they need to go back to law school or something. Wait? What? They didn’t actually write the order they just advised? Maybe, Steve Bannon is getting a little OJT? (On the Job Training) Who knows. The one person I’m sure didn’t write the order was the president.
It will be interesting to see how the new temporary Attorney General (AG) has his lawyers argue the ban, and even more interesting how Jeff Sessions would argue it, if he gets appointed, because there is now a tape of Sessions questioning the woman who was fired if she had to choose between backing the President or following the law, which would she do? She said she’d follow the law. She did and got fired.
Here’s another interesting tidbit. Usually, executive orders are created within a department and sent to the President. Typically, the President and the departments talk about how to word something and how they, the department, will carry out the order. Not now. Not this White House. I’m guessing Bannon writes it up, Trump has a big ceremony and signs it and then they give it to the department. If the department says, “What is this?” They’re fired. Yeah, run the White House like the reality show you used to host. And what’s up with that weird gold giant star medallion with green bunting behind the president when he’s doing his little signing ceremonies? It looks like Kremlin throwaway stage props.
It’s interesting how the right wing talking heads and websites say if she couldn’t do the job she should have resigned. What she did, was her job. She showed courage, moral fortitude, and backbone. Something oddly missing in most of the Republicans elected to Congress. (Speaking of which where is “Make ‘em Squeal” Jodi Ernst? I haven’t heard a peep or a squeal out of her.)
It’s frightening to think that perhaps our best chance to save our democracy lies in the hands of “sane Republicans.” I’m not sure there are many. I’ve never thought much of Lindsey Graham until recently, but he’s leading the way in decency with humor, conviction, and spinal strength.
Supreme Court Nominee, anyone?
Trump was given 21 names of folks from a religious right wing radical Christian group. All willing to overturn Roe vs Wade.
In a stage setting reminiscent of the Apprentice or the NFL Draft night Donald picked Gorsuch. The argument given for why we should support him was, “He’s the best of the bunch.” i.e. He’s not as bad as . . . But he’s still bad!
Then there’s the laughable statement from Mitch “The Turtle” McConnell that “the American people won’t stand for” (in this case) holding the seat open for four years. Really Turtle Man? You were willing to hold it open for almost a year, and pledged that if Hillary Clinton was elected you’d hold it open for another four. There’s a term for what you are; something about a sack of excrement lying on the floor. No wait, that’s not quite right.
Gorsuch is the son of Anne Grouch Buford, former director of the EPA under Reagan. Nixon signed the EPA into law with the purpose of cleaning up our air, water, and toxic waste sites. If you need to know why this was a priority look at pictures of downtown LA or the NYC skyline in the 1970s. They were clouded in a brown haze. Reagan came in on a wave of “too much regulation” and Anne Buford was put in charge of the EPA to do something about it. She proposed cutting the budget by 45% and gutting as much of the agency as she could. I’ll bet that made for interesting dinner table conversation for little Neil. But that’s not him. What’s he done? In a single word – Hobby Lobby. (How many of you picked up on the fact that it was two words?)
You know Hobby Lobby? Those nice Christian folks who have been on the forefront of pushing a radical Christian agenda? They had been paying their employees health care for years, decades, and then came that devil incarnate, muslim black man and his right wing Heritage Foundation based health care system and all of a sudden they dug deep and found even more religiosity.
“Certainly, you can’t expect us to trample on our new found religious principles because of the law?” Gorsuch agreed and it went to the Supreme Court where they won and the American people lost.
(I’m sick and tired of these deeply religious people of whatever stripe who think because they deeply believe something they have a moral duty to inflict it on the rest of us. There was an internet meme with one of the Downton Abbey ladies pictured and it said, “Religions are like penises. It’s all right to have one, but don’t go waving it around in public.”) I might add don’t hit me over the head with it or slap my cheeks with it and try and make me swallow it. This does make me think that there could be a new line of work: Religious Porn. Wow, think of the ad in the church bulletin, “Have you considered being a religious porn star? Immediate openings for our full length feature movie . . .” But I digress.
Let’s quickly review the recent history of Supreme Court nominees. There’s been lots of talk about good olde Anthony Scalia. What an affable guy he was. How he and Ruth Bader Ginsberg were buds, etc. Have people forgotten “Argle Bargle” and other quotes?
I suggest folks go to the Supreme Court website and read the Heller decision. That’s the D.C. gun law case. The decision starts with the dissenting opinion, which is clearly written. It gives a good history of gun laws, not only in this country but in other countries at the time of the writing of the Second Amendment. It makes several cogent arguments for upholding the D.C. law. Then comes Scalia’s majority opinion. It starts by disagreeing and arguing with the dissenting opinion. It wanders into some of the most tortured grammar and sentence structure I’ve come across and then it winds up with “It is so ordered.” Talk about “Argle Bargle” What is so ordered? What does it refer to? I went back and reread but ultimately gave up.
Recent Supreme Court appointees include:
- Roberts – asked by W to find a good nominee and ta da he came up with himself (in the Cheney school of appointments.)
- Alito – known as a great legal mind. He gave W legal cover saying that he could make signing orders that contradicted the laws he was signing because there were areas of this that had never been legally examined. Boom, on the court.
- Thomas – Papa Bush wanted a black man. He got one. One that was accused of sexual misconduct. There was a woman waiting to testify to them about this but somehow the Senate didn’t know about her and confirmed him. What? This is when I learned we the people may have better intel than our elected officials. (Remember Papa Bush being stunned by the use of barcodes? Years and years after they had been in use?)
Many have pointed out that Scalia was an “originalist” that is he tried to ferret out the original intent of the Founding Fathers. So I suggest that if we want to keep his flame alive we got back to original intent and only have six justices or if you want to get radical move to seven as the court did a little later on.
There’s so much more but how much can you or I take in a day?
As a cheap sci-fi movie would no doubt say, “We must remain vigilant!” Or would that be a greek fictionalized drama?
Still to come, but it will have to wait: McConnell’s wife. We haven’t heard from her since Enron. There’s also Munchkin or however you spell his name. He admitted he wasn’t completely truthful at his confirmation hearings. That money in the Cayman Islands? The ones that were almost all for non-profits and churches? Yeah, well not exactly true. There’s a lot of foreign money in there. Hum. There’s a word for not being truthful, completely or otherwise. It escapes me at the moment. When a person isn’t being truthful they are said to be … What’s the word?