Tag Archives: Nancy Pelosi

Scared of the Truth — and Democracy

[H]ere we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it. — Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820, Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress. 

Picture by Hilary Stone Ginsberg

No one ever accused House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of being the sharpest knife in the drawer, but his botched handling of the run up to the vote Wednesday in the House to create an independent commission to investigate the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill rose (plummeted?) to a new level of stupidity. McCarthy committed political malpractice by revealing that today’s Republicans have absolutely no interest in pursuing truth for fear of “wherever it may lead.” Nor, as the California Republican made crystal clear, do Republicans care one whit about preserving democracy.

McCarthy, no doubt, thought he was being clever when he made demands of the Democrats that he evidently expected them to turn down. But, as former president Donald Trump can attest, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a seasoned and cagey politician, and her team is equally adept. When Democrats agreed to McCarthy’s demands, his subsequent objections to the commission revealed that his only goal was to cover for Trump — whose role in fomenting the insurrection is obvious — and himself. The last thing, after all, that McCarthy wants is to be hauled up before the commission to testify about what he saw on January 6 and what he said to Trump on the day of the insurrection.

Mr. Minority Leader, be careful what you ask for. Also, know your adversary.

Pelosi hit the nail on the head when she said after the vote, “You’ll have to ask [the Republicans] what they are afraid of. But it sounds like they are afraid of the truth, and that is most unfortunate.” An irate Representative Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, was blunter: “We have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol Police with lead pipes across the head, and we can’t get bipartisanship. What else has to happen in this country?” Apparently, when a party is in the thrall of a would-be autocrat, there is no limit to the outrages it is willing to commit and tolerate. 

The bipartisan commission probably will not happen. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — who has mastered the art of talking out of both sides of his mouth — has come out against it. But, Republicans may be making a huge mistake. They would have had equal representation on the commission, and both sides would have had equal subpoena power (both part of McCarthy’s demands to which Democrats agreed), giving Republicans the ability to influence the final report. Now, however, existing committees in the House and Senate — all under the control of Democrats — are free to launch their own investigations. A number of Republican legislators ought to be very frightened of what those investigations might uncover. Representatives Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, both of Arizona, have been accused of helping to plan the attack. 

Thomas Jefferson — quoted in the headnote above — knew that a commitment to the truth was necessary in a democratic society. The author of the Declaration of Independence, no doubt, would have recognized that the modern Republican Party is committed to neither a truthful nor a free society. Evidence of this comes in the absurd machinations in the ongoing sham recount of the November presidential election returns in Maricopa County, Arizona; the numerous voter suppression laws being passed in Republican-controlled states; and the demands around the country for recounts in both presidential and down-ballot races.

Rank-and-file Republicans across the country apparently are ready to ditch this whole two-century plus experiment with democracy. In a recent poll, two-thirds of Republicans who responded said it was important to be loyal to Trump, a frightening sign of how Trump turned the party into a cult of personality (“Hail, Caesar!” “Heil Hitler!”). Two-thirds of Republicans believe Trump won the election, despite the appalling lack of evidence to support such a claim (another indication that truth no longer matters). And, scariest of all, nearly half of all Republicans said that pushing for changes in state voting rules is more important than appealing to voters with policies and ideas. In other words, half of all Republicans are fine with cheating to win; as for ideas, who cares? Winning is everything. As is power. 

Of course, none of this is surprising. Last summer, Republican party leaders let the cat out of the bag when they decided not to adopt a platform in the presidential election. Instead, the Republican National Committee released a groveling resolution pledging to “continue to enthusiastically support” Trump. The no-ideas GOP made personal loyalty to “Il Duce” the only criterion for voting Republican. 

The Republican lack of commitment to policies has been evident throughout the Trump years. Or, more accurately, the Republican Party’s only policy is fealty to Leader Trump. Republicans do not need a platform, and they certainly do not want an independent commission to reveal the leader’s complicity in a treasonous assault on the nation’s Capitol in an effort to derail the democratic process. Republicans are thinking only in the short run, believing they have a good chance to reclaim control of Congress in 2022 and perhaps the White House two years later. Republican control of key state legislatures insures redistricting following the 2020 census will benefit the GOP. Gerrymandering and voter restriction laws increase the party’s future chances of controlling all the levers of government in Washington. Why rock the boat with all this talk about truth and democracy?

Besides, what the character played by Jack Nicholson emphatically says to Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men applies to Republicans, “You can’t handle the truth!” 

Posted May 21, 2021

The Relief Package is a Big Deal

If former Vice President Joe Biden thought the signing of the Affordable Care Act was “a big fucking deal,” what expletive describes President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill?

The measure is, perhaps, besides Obamacare, the most momentous piece of legislation enacted in decades. Not only does the bill provide $1,400 in direct payments to most Americans to alleviate distress caused by the pandemic, but it also redirects the nation away from its recent past and renews the pledge of the New Deal in expanding the social safety net. The Democratic relief bill thoroughly rejects the governing principles enshrined since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, who believed government was the problem and saw the solution to economic difficulties in policies that directly aided the rich. Biden and the Democratic Party, in channeling Franklin Delano Roosevelt, reflect the view that only an active government can cure the nation’s ills.

According to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, the relief package will cut child poverty in half and lift nearly 13-million Americans out of poverty. Unlike the stimulus package passed during President Barack Obama’s first year in office, which was too modest in a futile attempt to attract Republican votes in Congress, the Biden plan delivers a turbocharged boost to the economy. “History and a strong body of research would tell us the only way to avoid more lasting scars on households and the economy is by not doing too little,” said Ellen Zentner, chief economist at Morgan Stanley. 

The plan is bold. In addition to direct payments, the measure allows $300 per week for unemployment benefits through the summer, significantly raises the child tax credit, allocates funds for higher education, increases payments to low-income families to help with home heating and cooling costs, distributes funds to older Americans to support nutrition programs, provides housing assistance, and beefs up the vaccine distribution effort. The bill also fulfills Biden’s campaign pledge to make the Affordable Care Act more affordable for millions of Americans by expanding subsidies for health insurance for two years.

This is — make no mistake about it — a Democratic package. Not one Republican in either the House or the Senate voted for it, despite the bill’s public popularity. Polls show that upwards of 75 percent of all Americans back the relief bill, with nearly 60 percent of Republicans favoring it. That level of support is unprecedented and will put Republican candidates in a difficult spot in the 2022 mid-term congressional elections. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell anticipated that problem when he tried to preempt any future Democratic suggestions that the bill led to an improving economy. “The economy’s coming back, people are getting the vaccine, we’re on our way out of this. We’re about to have a boom,” the Kentuckian said. “And if we do have a boom, it will have absolutely nothing to do with this $1.9 trillion.”

Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi took a different tack by attempting to take credit for a bill he did not support. In a tweet, Wicker praised the “targeted relief” directed at “independent restaurant operators.” The Mississippian co-authored the amendment allotting the funds, but Wicker’s Twitter feed quickly was inundated with tweets like “Oh no, you don’t get to take credit for this. You voted no,” a sticky fact Wicker did not mention in his original tweet. Wicker’s misplaced effort to take credit only proved Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s exasperated point about Republican obstruction: “It’s typical that they vote no and take the dough.”

The relief plan marks a major evolution for the president. In his five-decade career in politics, Biden appealed largely to union workers and blue-collar tradesmen like those in Scranton, Pennsylvania where he grew up. The nearly two-trillion dollar spending package makes the crusader for the middle class also the champion for the poor. 

Biden spent most of his years in Congress concentrating on foreign policy and such domestic issues as criminal justice reform and gun control. Economic policy interested him little, but aides say the president enthusiastically has embraced his new role and is willing to use Democratic power to enact sweeping rather than incremental change. A naturally empathetic man, Biden has been moved by the unequal suffering inflicted on the poor by the pandemic. “Millions of Americans who, through no fault of their own, have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck,” the president said in January. “And now, a lot of these folks are facing eviction, or waiting hours in their cars — literally hours in their cars, waiting to be able to feed their children as they drive up to a food bank.  It’s the United States of America and they’re waiting to feed their kids.”

 “We all grow,” said Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democrat. And, we all change, which is what has happened to the Democratic Party as it has moved to the left. The progressive tilt of the party was demonstrated in the vigorous presidential campaigns waged in 2016 and 2020 by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described democratic socialist. The electoral successes of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, among others, also have turned the party into a vehicle for progressive ideas. 

Democrats have embraced a host of progressive ideas such as the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, tuition-free college, immigration reform, and democratization of the political system. The Republican Party’s laser-like focus on tax cuts and the politics of grievance leaves Democrats as the only political players seriously entertaining ideas aimed at addressing economic and social problems. And a lack of bipartisan cooperation from the opposition means Democrats have little incentive to work with Republicans on compromises, a fact of modern political life that pushes both parties to the extremes.

The president has moved with his party. He knows the problems afflicting Americans are vast and require bold initiatives. Solving those problems is good politics. Besides. “Uncle Joe’s” gut tells him that helping the poorest among us is the right thing to do. 

Sometimes good politics and good morals align. And, the result is a very big deal, indeed.

Posted March 12, 2021

Mitch the Duplicitous

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky tried to appease everyone — including all factions in the Republican Party — with his vote to acquit former president Donald Trump and subsequent delivery of a scathing indictment of Trump’s actions before and during the insurrection of January 6, 2021. My guess is he only managed to earn the well-deserved scorn of all.  

McConnell improperly hung his vote to acquit Trump of the House-passed impeachment article on the technicality that the Senate lacked jurisdiction under the Constitution to try an official no longer in office. McConnell’s vote was improper because the Senate already had voted that the trial was constitutional. As lead House manager Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, told the senators in his summation: “The jurisdictional constitutional issue is gone. Whether you were persuaded by the president’s constitutional analysis yesterday or not, the Senate voted to reject it. And so, the Senate is now properly exercising its jurisdiction. And sitting as a court of impeachment, conducting a trial on the facts. We are having a trial on the facts.” 

On the facts, McConnell agreed the former president was guilty. In a speech on the Senate floor shortly after the trial concluded, McConnell said Trump “is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events” of January 6.  Using words that could have been uttered by the House managers, McConnell said, “Former president Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty…. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.” He further said the insurrectionists were fed a “growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole” by Trump claiming the election had been stolen. “The leader of the free world,” McConnell charged, “cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things.”

But, if removal and disqualification from office was not a remedy available to the Senate under the Constitution, McConnell claimed, that did not mean Trump could escape all punishment. “President Trump,” the Kentucky Republican said, “is still liable for everything he did while he was in office” and could be prosecuted under the criminal justice system and pursued through civil litigation.  

McConnell is correct, and perhaps the Justice Department under the still-unconfirmed Merrick Garland may investigate Trump with an eye toward possible prosecution. But, regardless of Trump’s guilt, prosecution in federal courts of a former president is dangerous, and Garland should proceed carefully. Those who worry a Senate trial of a former president — where the only penalty available would be disqualification and the convicted official would not serve a day in jail — may set a dangerous precedent should be doubly worried about criminal proceedings against that official. Jailing predecessors and political opponents is the modus operandi of authoritarian regimes, which is why the Trump crowd shouts of “lock her up” in reference to Hillary Clinton were so scary. (Pursuing legal action against Trump in state and local courts is another matter.)

The minority leader’s vote to acquit on jurisdictional grounds has elements of the theater of the absurd about it. Trump was impeached by the House on January 13 for his role in the January 6 insurrection. The former president’s trial could have begun on January 14, only the then-majority leader, yes, the one and only Senator Mitch McConnell, refused to summon the Senate back into session. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed out, the timing issue “was not the reason that [McConnell] voted the way he did; it was the excuse that he used.” The hypocrisy of McConnell claiming the Senate lacked jurisdiction on January 21 to try a former official when that very senator could have begun the trial of January 14 is breathtaking — even for a politician.

McConnell’s blistering attack on Trump reeks of even more hypocrisy. McConnell sat quietly for four years through all of Trump’s aberrant behavior because the senator made a Faustian bargain that tolerating Trump was worth tax cuts and stacking the federal judiciary with conservatives. McConnell never condemned Trump, and his silence — and that of the bulk of the Republican Party — only encouraged Trump further. McConnell’s coddling of Trump for the senator’s narrow political goals set the pattern for the rest of the Republican Party from which it is now difficult for the GOP to break free. McConnell also refused to recognize Joe Biden’s electoral victory until mid-December of last year, six weeks after the votes were cast. On the Senate floor, McConnell gave Trump space to pursue his absurd claims of electoral fraud, saying Trump was “100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities” in the election. True, but the minority leader could have given the nation his opinion on whether there were any electoral “irregularities.”

The brilliant Black writer James Baldwin once wrote, “A civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.” The jury is out on the wickedness of McConnell and the rest of the Republicans who voted to acquit, but their spinelessness has been on display for years. They subserviently follow a man who has no knowledge of or devotion to the Constitution. They believe he is their ticket to future electoral success, though the possibility of Trump and his sycophants winning new voters in battleground states after the January 6 insurrection is unlikely.

Nihilism triumphed in the decision to acquit Trump. The Republican Party may not have convicted Trump, but it convicted itself of blatant disregard for public safety. And, Mitch McConnell and his colleagues only increased the likelihood of future threats against our Constitution and electoral processes. True, 57 senators voted to convict, and that number included seven Republicans. So, in one sense, the trial was a success because a bipartisan majority agreed on Trump’s guilt. But, Trump and his supporters will take the outcome as a victory, as an exoneration of his actions. As Ted Lieu, a California Democrat and one of the House managers, said, “I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years; I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose because he can do this again.” 

Or, to put it another way, an unpunished failed coup becomes a training exercise.

Posted February 16, 2021

Why 17 Republican Senators Should Vote to Convict

Conventional wisdom holds that former president Donald Trump — though evidently guilty — will be acquitted in a constitutionally appropriate Senate trial that begins Tuesday.

I am not so sure.

It is true all but five Republican senators out of 50 supported Trump in a test vote on the constitutionality of holding a trial of a public official no longer in office. But, in another vote, on the structure of the trial, only 17 Republicans voted against organizing the Senate for the trial. Probably neither vote is a reliable guide to the final tally.

To be sure, the Republican Party — including Republican members of Congress — steadfastly has ignored Trump’s many indiscretions, misdeeds, and illegal actions during his presidency. Republicans looked the other way as evidence of his collusion with Russia during the 2016 election mounted. They closed their eyes to his attempt to extort Ukraine for his own political gain. They remained silent during his many racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic tweets and public comments. 

Democrats will not succeed in finding the requisite 17 Republican votes — assuming all 50 Democrats vote to convict — by invoking the GOP’s “better angels.” No appeal to the rule of law and constitutional safeguards will sway enough Republicans. The likelihood of 17 Republicans acting on a political issue through the prism of morality is very slim. That train — the one linking Republicans with moral behavior — left the station a long time ago. It was only a one-car train.

No, any possibility that 17 Republicans will agree that Trump is guilty rests not on what is right but on what is politic. And, on that basis, I can envision enough Republican senators voting to convict because of some important trends buffeting the Republican Party in recent weeks.

The trial reveals the civil war within the Republican Party between the Trump wing and the more moderate, business-oriented faction. The latter group — led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — tolerated Trump and his so-called populist appeals because both wings approved of the tax cuts enacted early in the Trump administration and the appointment of right-wing judges to the federal judiciary. Any revulsion among more moderate Republicans over Trump’s actions paled before the success he had in bringing new voters to the Republican Party and raising money for the party’s coffers. But, since Trump left the White House, many Republicans are finding reason to question his ability to bring his loyal followers to the polls and his knack for raising money.

Trump’s political success rested on his ability to spread disinformation among his supporters. In recent weeks, his command of social media and the air waves has been compromised, limiting his reach among Trumpistas. Two social media giants, Twitter and Facebook, have banned Trump, denying the former president his most effective tools for communicating directly with his followers. Other platforms have followed suit. 

Lawsuits and legal threats from small technology companies are curtailing the flow of misinformation in right-wing media. FOX Business canceled its top-rated show, “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” last week after Dobbs, one of the most vociferous conduits of lies about electoral fraud, was named in a $2.7 billion lawsuit brought by Smartmatic. Another pro-Trump channel, Newsmax, cut off a guest who ranted about electoral fraud. Dominion Voting Systems, another company accused by Trump and his acolytes of rigging votes, has sued two of Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, effectively silencing them.

Money certainly talks, and with Trump deprived of access to social media and right-wing television outlets limiting their recitation of rigged voting, Trump and his sycophants are finding it increasingly difficult to shape the narrative in ways favorable to Trump. And, in the realm of political fundraising, major Republican donors now are unwilling to donate to anyone who voted to challenge the counting of electoral votes on January 6, 2021. Nothing concentrates the mind of a politician more than an inability to rake in big money!

Thousands of Republicans have ditched the party since the January 6 insurrection. Trump’s approval rating has plummeted amid his wild accusations following the election, and in a new poll, 56 percent of Americans say Trump should be convicted and barred from holding office again. Republican politicians can read these tea leaves, and they also know that, with Trump in the White House, the party lost the House, the Senate, and the presidency after capturing all three in 2016. If Republicans could not win with Trump as president, how can they expect electoral success now, given all these adverse trends? It will only get worse for the GOP if the party allows Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia to be its public face. Her support of wackadoodle QAnon conspiracy theories and mouthing of anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric will drive more money and more votes from the Republican Party.  

Some Republican senators are ignoring the obvious and blaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the January 6 insurrection or claiming the rioters were really “Antifa” supporters masquerading as Trumpistas. But, Mitch McConnell and his more centrist allies know better. They also know that the only way to staunch the bleeding — the thousands deserting the party and the drying up of political funds — is to cauterize the wound. It only takes 17 Republicans to do the right thing (more, if not all Democrats vote to convict).

Who cares if they base their decision on political grounds?

Posted February 9, 2021

QAnon and the New McCarthyism

mccarthyism (the kevin variant) n. 1. the behavior of a craven, amoral politician eager to advance his or her political career at the expense of the security and safety of the nation. 

2. The antithesis of patriotism.

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“I think it would be helpful if you could hear exactly what she told all of us — denouncing Q-on, I don’t know if I say it right, I don’t even know what it is,” House Minority Leader  Kevin McCarthy (Q-Calif.) said after he defended the bigoted, conspiracy theorist freshman Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-Ga.) for her heinous remarks and actions. His defense is a classic example of the new McCarthyism.

Nice try, Representative McCarthy, but pulling the old Trumpian dodge — “I know nothing about QAnon” — will not get you off the hook. Here is the problem with that formulation, Mr. Minority Leader: The rest of us know enough about QAnon and its loony conspiracies to condemn it. And, here is another problem, Mr. Craven Politician: You are on tape, on FOX News last August, condemning QAnon. “Let me be very clear: There is no place for QAnon in the Republican Party. I do not support it,” you said then. I know you do not have a reputation as the sharpest knife in the drawer, but surely, Mr. McCarthy, your memory is better than that. But, selective amnesia is a part of the new McCarthyism.

Of course, the gyrations of the Republican House leader on Greene reflect the state of today’s Republican Party. There may have been no place for QAnon in the Republican Party six months ago, but, today, McCarthy and the bulk of the Republican House caucus are more than willing to carve out a spot for her, with some members giving her a standing ovation at a contentious meeting Wednesday night. Think about that: Republicans in the House gave a standing ovation to a colleague who wants Speaker Nancy Pelosi assassinated. The reasons are simple: Greene mirrors the views of millions of voters to whom the party appeals, and she is close to former president Donald Trump. Greene may hold idiotic notions, but she is savvy enough to know when to invoke Trump’s name, which she did last weekend as the furor over her intensified. “I had a great call with my all time favorite POTUS, President Trump! I’m so grateful for his support,” the QAnon lawmaker tweeted. 

It is hard to see this McCarthyist cowardice as a winning strategy. Republican loyalty to Trump led to the party losing the White House, the House, and the Senate after controlling all three in 2017. Sure, a public vote to remove Greene from her committee assignments might result in a primary challenge against a member from someone even further out in la-la land, but what is the value in staving off a primary challenge only to lose in the general election?

Actually, many Senate Republicans understand the danger of hooking the party to QAnon. “Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and the country,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The second-ranking Republican in the Senate, John Thune of South Dakota, asked whether Republicans “want to be the party of limited government… or do they want to be the party of conspiracy theories and QAnon? (The Senator might want to withdraw the question as he might not want to hear the answer.) Utah Senator Mitt Romney said, “Our big tent is not large enough to both accommodate conservatives and kooks.” 

Many Senate Republicans know Greene spells disaster for the Republican Party. Already, the Democratic Party is running an advertising campaign making Greene the face of the GOP. But, Senate Republican condemnation of Greene rings hollow given the party’s past tolerance of Trump’s lies and embrace of conspiracy theories. Remember, Trump came to political prominence pushing “birtherism.” Along the way, he claimed Senator Ted Cruz’s father helped assassinate John Kennedy; Barack Obama founded the Islamic State; TV anchor Joe Scarborough, when a congressman, murdered one of his staffers, and many more “looney lies.” Trump’s penchant for conspiracy theories culminated in the big lie of a stolen election in 2020 that led to the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The dynamic in the House is different. Republicans in the lower chamber refused to take any action against Greene, settling, instead, for a tortured McCarthyist statement from their leader in which McCarthy said Greene’s “past comments now have much greater meaning. Marjorie recognized this in our conversation. I hold her to her word, as well as her actions going forward” before pivoting to attacking the Democrats for wanting to more effectively rebuke the Georgia representative. House Republicans assume a racist, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist who has not apologized for any of her assaults on decency will behave decorously in the future. Good luck with that!

Republicans also took up the future of Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the third-ranking House Republican. Cheney, a consistent conservative, ran afoul of the Trumpistas in the party for voting to impeach Trump for instigating the Capitol riot. Cheney survived by a vote of 145 to 61, but only, one suspects, because the vote was secret. On the open vote Thursday on removing Greene from House committees, only 11 Republicans voted in the affirmative. The vast majority of Republicans were unmoved by the emotional appeal of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer who displayed a picture of Greene posing with an assault rifle juxtaposed with photos of three progressive Democratic congresswomen of color above a caption, “The Squad’s Worst Nightmare.” “When you take this vote, imagine your faces on this poster,” Hoyer said to his Republican colleagues. “Imagine it’s a Democrat with an AR-15. Imagine what your response would be.”

The cowardice of the new McCarthyism is unfathomable. Just two years ago, McCarthy stripped Iowa Representative Steve King of his committee appointments because of his history of white supremacist remarks. Odious as King’s racism was, it seems tame compared to the egregious behavior of Marjorie Taylor Greene. But, according to the new McCarthyism, it is acceptable for members of the United States House of Representatives to threaten other members on the other side of the aisle with assault rifles.

Fortunately, at least for now, the Democrats have a majority in the House.

Posted February 5, 2021

The Republican Party is a Terrorist Organization

The Republican Party is a terrorist organization, unwilling, apparently, to convict a known terrorist for inciting insurrection, unwilling, evidently, to purge terrorists within its ranks, and, unwilling, ostensibly, to condemn the lies that aid and abet terrorism. It pains me to conclude that one of our nation’s two major political parties is a terrorist organization, but facts are facts. 

The Senate vote Tuesday on the constitutionality of proceeding with the trial of former president Donald Trump signals that the proceedings likely will end with Trump’s acquittal on the charge of inciting the January 6 riot at the Capitol. The evidence against Trump is overwhelming, and more emerges almost daily. His constant lies about electoral fraud and his tweets urging his followers to come to Washington to contest the certification of electors along with his speech just prior to the mob storming the Capitol prove his culpability. But, 45 of the 50 Republican Senators agreed with Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, that there is no constitutional basis for trying a former president.

Most constitutional scholars disagree, and precedents exist for the impeachment and trial of officials who no longer hold office. Democrats believe a trial is justified, arguing that Trump must be held accountable for his role in the riot. Conviction also can be followed by a vote to bar Trump from ever holding office again. 

By raising a bogus constitutional issue, Republicans have given themselves a public relations out for voting to acquit. They can get credit among hard-core Trumpistas for not voting against their cult hero, while saying to more moderate Republicans that they merely acted on constitutional grounds without assessing Trump’s guilt. As a political dodge, the argument on constitutionality may work; from a moral perspective, any vote to acquit puts the Republican Party on the side of terrorists. Historical accountability will be severe for the GOP.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has played his usual duplicitous role in the run up to the Senate trial. After the January 6 riot, McConnell announced that Trump had “provoked” the mob, suggesting he favored impeachment. But, in the week after the House impeached Trump on January 13, while he was still majority leader, McConnell refused to reconvene the Senate, guaranteeing that the trial would occur after Trump left office and paving the way for Paul’s cynical constitutional gambit.

I suppose it is conceivable for a senator to vote against the constitutionality of a trial and then turn around and vote to convict Trump. A public official may have constitutional qualms about an issue, but once the question of constitutionality is resolved by the appropriate authority, that official must do his duty according to the law. Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman, who is not running for reelection in 2022, but still voted with the majority of Republicans against going to trial, says, “But I’ve not made me mind up, I’m a juror.” But, it is going to be a heavy lift for Democrats to persuade at least 17 Republicans to vote for convicting Trump.

Republicans condoning terrorism goes beyond the Senate vote. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who said Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack on the Capitol, traveled to Florida Thursday to grovel before Trump in an attempt to mend relations. It may be one thing for Republicans in the Senate to vote to acquit on the spurious argument that a trial of a former president is divisive, but it is quite another to actually cozy up to Trump-the-terrorist. Apparently, congressional Republicans believe placating Trump is the key to winning elections. “We cannot take the House and the Senate back without his help. That’s just a fact,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. Of course, with Trump in the White House, Republicans lost the House in 2018, and with Trump at the head of the ticket, Republicans lost the presidency and the Senate in 2020. That is a whole lot of help, Senator!

McCarthy seems amenable to rewarding terrorists. He placed Representative Majorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who identifies with the QAnon cult and refers to deadly school shootings as “false-flag” operations by gun-control advocates, on the House Education and Labor Committee. Greene should be condemned, not rewarded, by the House GOP leadership for liking a comment on her Facebook page saying “a bullet to the head would be quicker” in removing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Greene also liked comments about executing FBI agents, who she believes are part of the “deep state” working against Trump. Urging the assassination of the speaker and the execution of agents of the federal government are terrorist acts. Greene should be removed from all House posts, and Republicans should purge her from the party. Action should be taken against other terrorists within Republican ranks, such as Alabama Representative Mo Brooks, who said, at the rally before the storming of the Capitol, that January 6 was the day “American patriots start… kicking ass.” Similarly, some form of punishment is warranted for those members of Congress who encouraged and may have aided the mob.

Republicans have been complicit spreading lies that fuel terrorist acts. House and Senate Republicans did Trump’s bidding by lying about electoral fraud. Eight Republican senators and two-thirds of the Republican House caucus voted to overturn the election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania after the riot that endangered them. All but 10 Republicans voted against impeaching Trump, despite evidence that his actions put their lives at risk on January 6. 

Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney harshly condemned his colleagues for failing to disown the lies about electoral fraud. “I say, first of all, have you gone out publicly and said that there was not widespread voter fraud that Joe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States?” the former presidential candidate asked. “If you said that, then I’m happy to listen to you talk about other things that might inflame anger and divisiveness.” But, Romney asserts, do not claim a trial or condemnation of terrorists within the Republican Party is divisive, while continuing to spread lies.

Republicans must hold Trump accountable for his role in the terrorist attack on the our nation’s Capitol, condemn the terrorists in their ranks, and repudiate their own lies about the election. Failure to do so brands the Republican Party as a terrorist organization.

Posted January 29, 2021

Call for Unity

Donald Trump left the White House several hours before Joe Biden was sworn in Wednesday, January 20, 2021, as the nation’s 46th president. A small person to the end, Trump broke a long-standing tradition by declining to attend his successor’s inauguration. Just as well, as the presence of former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama testified to the sanctity of the American tradition of the peaceful transfer of power while highlighting Trump’s petulant refusal to concede he lost.

Biden’s Inaugural Address was a clarion call to unity, asking Americans to put aside “this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal.” But, Biden uttered more than platitudes. The president also called upon America to live up to its core values of truth, equality, justice, and acceptance of diversity of opinion. “Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war,” Biden said. 

The new president’s appeal to our “better angels” contrasted with his predecessor’s constant stoking of division, distrust, and hatred. Other contrasts between Biden and Trump were the evident openness of the new administration — the new press secretary briefed Wednesday evening — and the eagerness of those at the top to get down to work. Biden signed several executive orders only hours after becoming president, and Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the swearing-in of three new senators in her role as President of the Senate. Trump always showed little interest in actually being president, in the work of the presidency, and in the weeks following his electoral defeat he did little but stew, lie about the validity of the election, play golf, and issue pardons to his cronies.

There is evidence that the sway of Trumpism is diminishing. The Proud Boys, the far-right group asked by Trump at the first debate with Biden to “stand back and stand by,” is rethinking its undying loyalty to the former president. After the election, the Proud Boys wrote in an online message on a private channel “Hail Emperor Trump.” But, as soon as Trump departed the White House, the White-supremacist group referred to him as a “shill” and “extraordinarily weak.” It may be a positive sign that no militias descended on Washington, D.C., and state capitols and no anti-Biden protests occurred, despite warnings from the FBI of the potential for violence and the threats of far-right activists to mobilize in the days leading up to the Inauguration.

One place where divisiveness still lingers is the Capitol. Biden is quite right to call for unity and to appeal for bipartisan cooperation, which may occur as some Republicans search for ways to work with Democrats on much needed legislation, such as economic relief from the ravages of the pandemic and rebuilding the nation’s decrepit infrastructure.

While unity and bipartisan cooperation is a worthy goal, some accountability is needed for those who worked to undermine American democracy by pushing the “big lie” of election fraud. That there was no significant fraud and that Biden fairly won election as the next president was evident immediately after November 3. Yet, a significant bloc of Republican senators and a majority of the House GOP caucus voted against certifying the electoral returns of two states. They did so only hours after a mob — encouraged by Trump and congressional opposition to certification — stormed the Capitol, putting the lives of members of Congress in jeopardy.

The United States cannot pretend this did not happen. Obviously, we will never forget those frightful images of insurrectionists desecrating the “people’s house.” But, we also must never forget the role played by prominent Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is a case in point. Two weeks ago, McCarthy was a prominent challenger of Biden’s victory, telling constituents, “I agreed with objections that were made to two states.” Yet, Wednesday, McCarthy had the temerity, the gall, the nerve to stand in Statuary Hall and tell Biden and Harris he was “very proud of you both.” The California Republican added, “I listened to your [Biden’s] speech today. You talked about tension and division. Our task as leaders is to bind this nation’s wounds and dedicate ourselves to the values that all Americans hold dear.”

Not too proud, evidently, to vote against Biden’s and Harris’ certification as president and vice president. Politics is not a profession that emphasizes self-introspection, but really, Mr. Minority Leader, how lacking in self-awareness can you be? On Inaugural Day, McCarthy also said, “As leaders, we are judged not by our words, but by our actions.” Indeed! Mr. Minority Leader, your action in objecting to electoral certification before and just after the insurrection of January 6 speaks much louder than those words you spoke on Inaugural Day!

McCarthy is not the only Republican who requires scrutiny. Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas fanned the flames of insurrection by their words and actions. Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin called the behavior of Hawley and Cruz “inexcusable” and said the Senate must  “seriously” investigate their actions. Some Republicans in the House may have given aid to the mob before and during the storming of the Capitol. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “there will be prosecutions” if evidence shows that members of Congress “aided and abetted an insurrection in which people died.”

Public understanding of the role of elected officials in undermining the peaceful transfer of power — a bedrock of republican government — needs to occur not because Americans are vengeful but because knowledge is the most effective tool for preventing future betrayals. We know that lies — deliberate lies told by people who knew better or ought to have known better — unleashed the mob on the Capitol. The only way to fight lies is with truth and the truth will only emerge when the culprits are named and their abettors come to grips with their betrayal of constitutional government. Only then will the unity of which President Biden spoke truly occur. 

Posted January 22, 2021

Do the Right Thing

The 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday deserve credit for political courage.

The 197 who voted in the negative deserve continued scorn for their willingness to abet Trump in his heinous behavior.

It is that simple.

Trump is a recidivist who will say whatever he is told is necessary to avoid criminal and political liability, but once he believes he is in the clear — or his worst impulses get the better of him — he will revert to norm, which, in this case, means encouraging his supporters, once again, to attempt to overthrow the government of the United States. We have seen this movie before, most notably after White supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. So, yes, Trump released a clearly scripted video Wednesday evening urging his supporters to avoid violence, but he strikingly avoided accepting blame for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. The day before Wednesday’s impeachment vote, he called remarks to his supporters before the riot — urging them to march on the Capitol and show “strength” — “totally appropriate.” Who knows what he will say tomorrow?

Trump’s propensity to cause mayhem is one reason — in addition to sending a signal to other would-be dictators and supporting the rule of law — why the Senate must convict him of the House’s charge even after he leaves office next week. The constitutional penalties for conviction include removal from office and “disqualification” from ever holding federal office again. While Trump cannot be removed from office after January 20, he still could run for the presidency again. The Senate must insure that never happens. As noted constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe points out in The Washington Post, there are precedents in American history for convicting impeached officials — judges — after they left office. 

Trump is not the only Republican who needs to take responsibility for abetting insurrection. Complicit also are the nearly two-thirds of the Republican House caucus who voted on January 6 to overturn a free and fair election and the 197 Republicans who voted on January 13 not to impeach. A trial in the Senate, incidentally, will force Republican senators to go on record as supporting or opposing the Constitution and the rule of law. The public needs to know who among its leaders is patriotic and who would overthrow the government.

There are indications and rumors that some members of Congress actively aided the insurrectionists. Democratic representatives have accused unnamed Republicans of giving tours of the Capitol to insurrectionists the day before the siege. Representative Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat from New Jersey, said some of her GOP colleagues “incited this violent crowd.” Democrats are furious at gun-toting new Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado who tweeted the morning of the insurrection “Today is 1776” and, then, in the midst of the attack, revealed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had left the floor of the House chamber. The House should expel these members, as well as Alabama’s Mo Brooks who told told the MAGA-clad thugs on the National Mall — before the riot — “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”

The defense of the president offered by the 197 Republicans who voted against impeaching him ranged from the absurd to the pathetic to technicalities. There was the usual “whataboutism” offered by Ohio’s Jim Jordan — “they spied on his campaign” — and Florida’s Matt Gaetz — “Speaker Pelosi stood at the rostrum and tore through the president’s State of the Union speech” (oh my!). Jodey Arrington of Texas said the president showed “poor judgment” in his speech to the rally — as if Trump had told an off-color joke at a state dinner.  Most were oblivious to the cynicism of claiming impeachment would only further divide the nation, as if their repeated lies about a fraudulent election were not divisive. None praised the president, and Michael McCaul of Texas worried that he might regret his decision, saying future revelations might “put me on the wrong side of this debate.” Note to the representative: You already are on the wrong side!

Contrast the pusillanimity of the Republican majority with the brave 10 who voted to impeach. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House and no flaming liberal, said, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution…. The president of the United States summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.” Washington’s Dan Newhouse announced he was voting yes because “there is no excuse for President Trump’s actions.”  Another Washingtonian, Jaime Herrera Beutler, perhaps said it best. “I’m not afraid of losing my job, but I am afraid that my country will fail,” she told her colleagues.

Because of the actions of the president — who incited a violent insurrection against the government he leads — troops are bivouacking in the Capitol for the first time since Confederate armies threatened to cross the Potomac during the Civil War. This is all because a vain, narcissistic, ignorant man refused to recognize the results of a legitimate and free election, lying that he won but his victory was stolen. It is also because Republicans in a position to do something about Trump and his malignant actions refused to act for four years.

Republicans were furious in early 2020 when Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California, speaking at the Senate trial after Trump’s first impeachment, quoted an anonymous threat warning Republican senators that if they voted to acquit they would wind up with their “head on a pike.” It was meant metaphorically, of course, but Republicans in Congress were always afraid of Trump’s wrath and its influence on their constituents, which is why they repeatedly overlooked the president’s offenses and why it took courage for Beutler to say she was “not afraid of losing my job.” All the others, sadly, were afraid. Some Republicans, according to Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat, were afraid for more than their jobs, fearing for their lives and the safety of their families if they voted to impeach the president. Representative Peter Meijer, a Michigan Republican, says some of those who voted to impeach are “altering our routines, working to get body armor… [because] our expectation is that someone may try to kill us.”

Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second ranking House Democrat, told Republicans, “It is never too late to do the right thing.” Only 10 in the House listened. Let us hope enough Republican senators heed Hoyer’s advice and do the right thing at the trial of Donald Trump.

Posted January 15, 2021

  

   

Never Again!

We are learning new and even more disturbing details about the storming of the nation’s Capitol by Trump supporters, right-wing extremists, and QAnon conspirators (overlapping groups, to be sure) last Wednesday. The revelation of additional information indicates how close the United States came to anarchy and/or the overthrow of our democracy. The information reinforces the determination that such events — the election of an unfit, amoral president, the overthrow of truth, and an insurrection— never happen again. 

Michigan Representative Peter Meijer said a fellow Republican in the House voted against supporting the results of November’s election even though the member knew the election was free and fair. Meijer said his colleague voted against certification out of concern for the safety of the member’s family. In an opinion piece in The Detroit News, Meijer wrote, “My colleague told me… voting to certify was a constitutional duty” that this member shunned out of fear. “An angry mob succeeded in threatening at least one member of Congress from performing what that member understood was a constitutional responsibility,” Meijer concluded. Meijer added that worse were the members who “doubled down, repeating lies of a stolen election” and voted not to certify after “a dead woman’s blood dried mere feet from our chamber.” 

Think about how scary Meijer’s revelation is. His information means that the machinations of President Donald Trump, the sinister ploy of Republican senators such as Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, and the drumbeat of deliberate misinformation by right-wing media, which all contributed to riling and provoking Trump’s base, at a minimum, succeeded in intimidating at least one member of Congress. It means that one member — afraid for his or her family — was cowed by vicious thugs into voting against the truth and the elected representative’s conscience.

More than 100 Republicans in the House voted against accepting the results of the election. They were joined in their traitorous votes by eight senators who supported one or more of the challenges to electors. These Republicans are guilty of an attempt to overthrow the Constitution. I do not know how many of them are so dumb as to believe the nonsense Trump and his cohorts spewed or how many made a cynical calculation that voting against the truth was good for their presidential ambitions or how many feared being “primaried” by someone nuttier than they. It makes no difference. There must be a reckoning for all of them.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution says, “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress… [who] shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against… the United States.” The amendment was one of the three Reconstruction amendments enacted to preserve the gains of the Union victory in the Civil War. It is relevant in this case. Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday that Democrats are considering invoking the amendment to expel Republican lawmakers who supported overturning the results of the November election and encouraged the insurrection. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are discussing the relevance of the Fourteenth Amendment following last week’s riot.

Evicting 120 or so Republicans from Congress is not likely. But, perhaps the willingness of Democrats to ponder the Fourteenth Amendment’s relevance indicates an eagerness among loyal Americans to impose some form of punishment on disloyal members of Congress. Perhaps, censure is in order. In any event, those Republicans who voted against truth and law forever will be remembered for their crimes.

The other disturbing piece of news from this weekend confirms what was suspected all along. According to Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Trump “was delighted” while watching the televised events unfolding Wednesday at the Capitol. Sasse told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that “senior White House officials” conveyed to the Republican senator that “Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was” by a mob storming the Capitol. 

Trump was “delighted” while millions of Americans were appalled. Trump’s delight suggests that Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, was being naive when he said Sunday, “Now, my personal view is that the president touched the hot stove on Wednesday and is unlikely to touch it again.” Blunt’s assessment echoes Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins’ justification for voting against convicting Trump during his Senate trial for attempted extortion of Ukraine on the grounds that the president learned “a pretty big lesson” and would not engage in future illegalities. Yes, Trump learned something. He learned he can get away with just about anything. 

What Trump never learns is the right lesson. Everyone knows that, or should. It is abundantly obvious. President Trump is an amoral man whose narcissism insures that he looks out only for himself. He cares nothing for his followers or his loyal sycophants. On the issue of Trump loyalty, Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe told Tulsa World that Vice President Mike Pence was “angry” because the president was attacking Pence for the vice president’s refusal to act illegally and overturn the Electoral College returns. Inhofe said, “I had a long conversation with [Pence]. He said, ‘After all the things I’ve done for [Trump].’” As for Trump’s disdain for his followers, reflect for a moment on his remarks on the Ellipse to the crowd before it headed to the Capitol and mayhem. After repeating his baseless claims of election fraud, the president egged on his supporters, urging them to “walk down to the Capitol… and I’ll be there with you.” Well, perhaps he meant in spirit, because Trump apparently watched the insurrection on television. Granted the Secret Service would not allow the president to walk in such a crowd, but, let us be honest, this president would not want to be bothered. 

A member of Congress scared by a president “delighted” to lead an insurrection against the government he heads must never happen again! The way to guarantee a return to sanity is to punish the truth deniers and the inciters. Trump and all the others who incited the storming of the Capitol must be held to account: Trump via impeachment and conviction; his abettors by the full weight of the legal system; and members of Congress by expulsion and/or censure.

We are learning just how fragile our constitutional framework is and how easy it is to circumvent truth and the law. We must punish the guilty to guarantee that such recklessness as we witnessed last week never occurs again.

Posted January 12, 2021

2045 and the Court

Remember the year 2045 when trying to understand what is at stake in the battle over who should appoint the next Supreme Court justice. 

That is the year — according to the Census Bureau — when the United States will become a majority-minority nation. Not only will White people no longer be a majority, but fifteen years later — in 2060 — the number of Hispanic children will equal the number of White ones. By then, the Republican Party will either cease to exist or be a remnant no longer able to contest national elections. Even today, the GOP clings to power only because the Electoral College allows Republicans to overcome losing the popular vote in presidential elections, the Senate favors small rural states, and gerrymandering provides additional conservative seats in the House.

Seen against this demographic backdrop, the Republican determination to ram through Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement is a fight to preserve control of the one institution not directly answerable to the popular will. If Republicans can name the next justice and if that justice is young enough, the GOP can cement control of the Court for decades, despite losing control of the country. A strongly conservative Court could erase healthcare for millions, block effective measures to fight climate change, challenge the presence of immigrants in America, preserve income inequality, eviscerate minority rights, overturn progress in gender equality, strip women of their right to choose, and attempt to enshrine conservative Christian values in a nation becoming less religious.

Power is at the center of what amounts to a Republican coup d’etat against the future. Republican legislators tried to claim the moral high ground in 2016, asserting a seemingly convincing, if fraudulent, principle that the people should decide who should appoint a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia. Their invented rule ignored the inconvenient fact that the people had decided when reelecting President Barack Obama. Principle was never involved, only power as attested to by the naked power play of opposing Obama’s replacement for a justice who died in February of 2016 while accepting President Donald Trump’s replacement for one who died in September of an election year. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican caucus who go long with this power grab are certainly hypocrites. But, to accuse them of hypocrisy is beside the point. McConnell and the others have no shame, so accusations of hypocrisy roll off them easily. For them, hypocrisy is not a character flaw; it is just another tool by which they cling to power, along with voter suppression, gerrymandered districts, and inventing rules that apply only to Democrats — such as not holding a confirmation vote on a judicial nominee in an election year.

Violating the popular will comes naturally to Republicans. If they succeed in naming Ginsburg’s replacement, it will mean that more than half of the justices will have been appointed by presidents who did not win the popular vote. These five justices — John Roberts, Samuel Alioto, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Trump’s latest appointee — will sit on the Supreme Court as justices selected by presidents in the White House only by the grace of the Electoral College and approved by a Senate in which 70 percent of the members represent only 30 percent of the population and in which, as Ezra Klein points out, a voter in Wyoming has 66 times as much power as a voter in California.

What can Democrats do? Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats “have our options. We have arrows in our quiver,” but she ruled out leveraging a government shut down as a weapon to derail Republicans from voting on a court nominee. Certainly, Democrats have to organize and get out the vote, and they should make clear what they intend to do if they win control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress in November. Admission of Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia as states would give Democrats four more senators, further pushing the GOP into the minority. Republicans will accuse Democrats of a power grab, but both Puerto Rico and the District deserve statehood. It is the right thing to do, regardless of the court fight, and only Republican intransigence has stood in the way of what should have been done long ago.

Similarly, the time is long overdue to eliminate the filibuster in the Senate. The filibuster if a relic of a racist past when segregationists used it to frustrate civil rights legislation. Now, it survives only to frustrate the rights of the majority. Also, a constitutional amendment must be introduced to abolish the Electoral College, which was written into the Constitution because the Framers distrusted the will of the people and southerners wanted bloated influence in presidential elections to preserve slavery. 

Another popular suggestion is for Democrats to retaliate by adding two justices to the Supreme Court as replacements for the two seats stolen by Republicans. The size of the Court is not fixed by constitutional mandate, and the number of justices varied until 1869 when Congress designated the number at nine. Court-packing has an odious reputation, but a valid case can be made for its justification in this instance. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and other conservatives, will scream about the sacredness of nine on the Court. Cruz will forget that he is on record declaring that if Hillary Clinton had won in 2016 the Republican-controlled Senate should not replace Scalia and let the number of justices remain at eight. But, then again, hypocrisy has no meaning for the shameless.

Still, adding justices should be carefully considered because it might unleash a cycle of retaliatory acts that would undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. The nation’s high Court functions because it is considered above politics and nearly all Americans accept even those decisions with which they disagree. Court-packing threatens to make the Supreme Court into just another political institution subject to the vitriolic partisan divide that rules America today.

McConnell has been notably silent on the timing of a vote for Trump’s nominee. The Kentuckian — involved in a tough race for reelection — may want to hold hearings on a nominee before the election and schedule a vote for after the November 3 to spare Republican senators in close races from having to go on record voting for an ultra-conservative to the bench. But, McConnell would not hesitate to have a lame duck Senate hold a confirmation vote.

Either way, McConnell is determined to put another conservative on the Supreme Court, the only institution the Republicans can hope to control as they shrink into a minority in a nation becoming less White.  

Posted September 22, 2020