We Need Rule Of Law To Remain A Democracy

If you are considering whether the US will be another “democracy” to fall to authoritarian rule/fascism here’s a question to ask: Is the Democratic Party committed to Rule of Law? Will it fight to protect us and our democracy? How about the Justice Department?

Brett Kavanaugh – Apparent Criminality At The Highest Levels

Here is a test of that: Are Dems willing to fight apparent criminality at the very highest levels? Will the House of Representatives or Justice Dept. investigate the allegations that Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh committed perjury during nomination hearings, and will the Justice Dept. indict, or House Dems impeach Kavanaugh if their investigation concludes he did?

Set Aside The Other Stuff

Keep it simple. There’s too much other stuff about Kavanaugh, muddying the issue. Set aside the other stuff.

Set aside out the questions about why Justice Kennedy resigned when he did (and how it might relate to Deutsche Bank and the Russia investigation), who paid off Kavanaugh’s debts, and the larger issue of the “dark money” machine that puts Federalist Society candidates into judgeships.

And never mind the sham FBI “investigation” of sexual misconduct allegations made against Kavanaugh. (The Trump-appointed FBI Director is one more Federalist Society member.)

Other “Other Stuff”

And, of course, that other “other stuff:

Nearly a year after Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to a lifetime appointment in the Supreme Court, the New York Times has reported a new allegation of sexual misconduct from Kavanaugh’s college years, as well as new corroborating information about Deborah Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at Yale.

In his confirmation hearings Kavanaugh made several statements about his drinking and sexual misconduct that were obviously not true. (Just one obvious one: His yearbook referred to “ralphing” and Kavanaugh testified that meant eating spicy foods.)

Kavanaugh Perjury

It looks very much like Brett Kavanaugh committed perjury on other issues during nomination hearings for his appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as well as his Supreme Court nomination hearings.

Among many, many reports on Kavanaugh’s contradictions between his testimony that these hearings and evidence that has since been revealed, Pema Levy and Dan Friedman write at Mother Jones, in Five Times Brett Kavanaugh Appears to Have Lied to Congress While Under Oath,

During his 2004 hearing, Kavanaugh denied ever receiving any of the documents Miranda stole. Asked if he “ever come across memos from internal files of any Democratic members given to you or provided to you in any way?” he replied, “No.” In 2006, also under oath, he again denied ever receiving stolen documents.

But newly released documents show that Miranda had indeed sent Kavanaugh information from the stolen internal documents. The nominee continues to deny he knew the information was stolen. But he can no longer deny he received it.

And,

At a 2006 confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that he knew nothing of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, launched under President George W. Bush, until the New York Times revealed it publicly in 2005. Kavanaugh insisted he’d heard “nothing at all” about the program before that, even though he was a senior administration aide. But a September 17, 2001 email provided to the New York Times this week shows that Kavanaugh was involved in at least initial discussions about the widespread surveillance of phones that characterized the NSA program.

Similarly, Kavanaugh testified he had nothing to do with Bush’s torture policies while records now show he was involved in at least 3 discussions of detainee policies.

Kavanaugh also said in hearings he had not been involved in William Pryor’s nomination to the 11th Circuit, new documents and emails show he was “heavily’ involved.

And finally he said in hearings that he was not involved in the nomination of Charles Pickering when new emails show he was.

So Yeah… There’s A Lot Going On

So yeah, there’s a lot going on. And is this such a big deal?

Well yes. A guy is on the Supreme Court and everyone knows he’s a liar and possibly a lot of other things. But the people and institutions that are supposed to do something about that aren’t doing ANYTHING about that. And it’s right in front of our faces.

And on top of that, the guy is doing serious damage to our country!

So … once again WHERE ARE THE DEMOCRATS? Where is the Department of Justice? Where is the Rule of Law?

There is a short time left to hold the authoritarians and the fascists and the liars and the “dark money” accountable, and restore the Rule of Law (and decency). If that doesn’t happen then in the next election the 1776 experiment in self-government will end, and the Cruelty will again be THE POINT.

We all came out and voted for the people who said they would DO SOMETHING ABOUT THESE THINGS. When is it going to start happening?

We Deserve A Vote To End The Filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Schumer should call a vote on ending the filibuster. We deserve to know which Democrats vote for democracy and which oppose it.

This is especially important when the filibuster is being used block bills that prevent states from suppressing non-white voters.

We need to know which Democrats are helping Republicans block democracy. Every elected Democrat needs to take a public stand on this.

Until this happens, until most Democrats are demanding a public vote on this, until they force a vote on this, all Democrats should be held accountable for keeping these anti-democracy rules in place.

I Quit Twitter. Is Trump In Jail Yet?

I got off Twitter, for a while at least, and it’s wonderful. My concentration is returning. I’m able to go to the bathroom without my phone. And I’m even writing a blog post! (For better or worse.)

But I have a few questions:

– Has Trump or anyone at the top of things been held accountable for anything yet? I mean actually indicted for their crimes — not “stern letters” from Democratic senators. (Remember that report that detailed how Trump committed Obstruction but couldn’t be indicted because he was resident? Tell the Justice Dept. he’s not president anymore.) (PS His lawyer went to jail for a crime he committed with Trump but Trump couldn’t be indicted because he was president. Tell the Justice Dept. he’s not president anymore.)

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Infrastructure “Deal”

So there’s a “bipartisan deal” on infrastructure that cuts out much of the original infrastructure plan, which was supposed to be urgently needed for the country. They say it can’t pass without an accompanying guarantee of a Reconciliation bill to pass the rest of what was proposed.

So in other words, we’ll get the entire original proposal (or maybe nothing) through reconciliation except months later than we would have if we had just passed it using Reconciliation in the first place, but leaving little time for much of the rest of Biden’s agenda, never mind all the bills the House has been passing.

This “deal” is because Biden, who was going to convince Republicans to work with him, couldn’t convince Democrats like Manchin to work with him. And Biden caved on taxing the rich.

Also you have to “pay for” something that will bring us trillions in future economic gains? But one way they are going to “pay for” it is by selling public infrastructure to private interests who can then charge US a fee to use OUR infrastructure.

PS For those who mistakenly think the US govt “borrows,” the interest rate is close to below zero when inflation is added in, so we actually “make money” if we “borrow.” But we absolutely can’t issue T-Bills to “pay for” the infrastructure that will bring us trillions of benefit.

PSS The US govt MAKES dollars. It doesn’t borrow them. It also chooses to sell T-Bills, for different reasons.

PASS Also, Republicans can now take credit for the infrastructure spending the public wants, even after cutting it by 2/3. Or is that 3/4?

We Are In Pre-WWII Germany

I was thinking about the emotional desire for normal times we see in so many of our elites. It’s dangerous right now. It leads to a blindness about what is really happening.

A lot of our Dem Representatives want to legislate, going through all the motions of passing bills even though pretty much nothing that passed the House has gotten through the Senate since Obama was elected. And they demand austerity even though austerity breeds fascism. People in the media cover the horse race as if several states aren’t going to overturn election results when Dems win.

I want to see my Representative recognize what is going on and put her body in front of the Senate Chamber doors to make a point to the public. Instead she attends mark-ups, and holds town halls to talk about the bills the House is passing. I want to see the media cover the (international) fascist movement as a fascist movement.

I think that people who write about/are in politics, etc these days should look at what they are saying and doing and ask themselves, “How would this look if I were writing/doing it in pre-WWII Germany?”

Looking at pre-war Germany, who do we remember?

Blog Hero Award — Atrios

I used to give a Blog Hero Award. Now “Atrios” has written one of the best blog posts ever so I’m reviving the award.

Atrios is hereby awarded a coveted (and rare) Blog Hero Award for his post, The Sensibles:

Start with a proposal that does 80% of the job, whittle it down to 60% to make it cheaper just because, cut that in half to please Republicans who won’t vote for it anyway, throw in some additional complication and means testing to please random “moderate” Democrats, and you’re left with something that is complicated and confusing that you’re unable (or justifiably unwilling) to take credit for. Then spend another 3 months “debating” it just to give time for people all over the spectrum to point out why it’s shit.

This is what the supposedly sensible, moderate, grown up politicians do. Then they can blame The Left because twitter user TrotskyChavez420 tweeted, “fuck the pigs.”

Is Biden Another Carter?

The Carter admin was a short interim between bad and much worse, and enabled the much worse to get into power. I am fearing Biden is failing to see the urgency of the moment, thereby enabling the very worst.

Previously I was surprised and enthusiastic about how the Biden admin started out. Big programs, etc. Lately not so much. The guy who promised he could work with Republicans can’t even get Democratic senators to support democracy.

I do not see administrative efforts to uphold democracy. Democracy requires accountability. No one has been held accountable for anything from the prior admin. Example: Trump was a co-conspirator in a case that put his lawyer Cohen in jail. That indictment could have come the minute he was not in office. So far, nothing. Never mind the obstruction of justice outlined in the Mueller Report.

It is looking like Biden has backed off several very important policies. Not cancelling student debt, not giving climate the urgency required. This is not just bad coverage, these are things he could just do himself and hasn’t. (Carter took on the oil companies and spoke to the public about the energy crisis all the time.)

Also, politically, the admin is not effectively getting the word out to the public about the good things they have already done.

There is a serious clock ticking. At any moment a Dem senator could fall ill or worse, Republicans gain the majority, and that is the end of the last hope. But they’re letting Republicans “negotiate” to run that clock out.

Update

So much is at stake. So much. I’d like to see some things happen that make me less pessimistic: Indict Trump on that charge Cohen went to jail for. Or for obstruction. Tell the public about the good things that have been done for them so far in the Biden admin. Put the hammer on Dem senators who are risking killing the Biden presidency and democracy — they might be playing out a strategy but the Senate is one vacancy away from Republican control. Stop the ridiculous “negotiating” with Lucy as she runs out the clock before pulling away the football. Give speeches about the urgency of the climate crisis. Get the Justice Dept moving.

Senate Dems Are Complicit In These Shootings

More shootings, nothing happens. Decades of shootings nothing happens. Millions of guns on our streets is hundreds of millions of gun manufacturer corporate profit and we all know that is why nothing happens. (Same for climate, healthcare, tobacco, you name it. It is blatant corruption and we all know it.)

I am just so sick of this. The public has been begging the Congress to do something about this for so long. Begging. Children in schools have to do “active shooter drills.” I had to do “duck and cover” nuclear war drills and it was traumatizing, imagine children doing these drills and then hearing about school after school being shot up. The adult public also lives with fear of being in a mass shooting.

41 Republican senators represent 21% of the public. The filibuster blocked anything from happening and Dems would not end the filibuster. That is the definition of “complicit.” Dems who allowed the filibuster to continue before this are complicit in this week’s shootings. Any Dems still allowing this to continue are complicit in every future shooting.

Right now we have fascists walking the streets with assault weapons openly displayed. That is fucking terrifying.
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The #FightFor15 Minimum Wage WAS The Compromise. #FightFor24!

The minimum wage should be $24 if it had kept up with the gains in the economy.

Instead all those gains went to a top few.

CEPR: This is What Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace with Productivity

While the national minimum wage did rise roughly in step with productivity growth from its inception in 1938 until 1968, in the more than five decades since then, it has not even kept pace with inflation. However, if the minimum wage did rise in step with productivity growth since 1968 it would be over $24 an hour today, as shown in the Figure below.

$15 WAS the compromise!

$15 is a compromise already. If the minimum wages had kept pace with the gains in the economy it would be $24 or so per hour now, which is around $96K per year for a couple. What this means is that if labor’s share of the economy had stayed the same the minimum lifestyle equivalent would be what a $96K lifestyle today is. The house you’d be able to buy, etc. That would be our minimum.

#FightFor24

If they kill the $15 compromise there is no reason to keep fighting for $15. It should be $24 and we should all rightfully be fighting for that. It just gets us back to where we were before the great financialization, the great separation of labor wages from the economy, the great inequalizer.

So fuck 15, #FightFor24

Always Say “Jim Crow Filibuster” or “Racist Filibuster”

Always use the phrase “Jim Crow Filibuster” or “Racist Filibuster.” This takes away the cover of pretending the filibuster is a “norm” or “tradition” as an excuse for not killing it.

Senators like Manchin should not be asked if they support “ending the filibuster,” they should be asked if they support “keeping the racist filibuster.”

The Senate filibuster has a racist past and present. End it so America can move forward.

The nature of the filibuster, its rules and norms, is hardly an iron-clad tradition. It has changed and adapted greatly over the years since it first became popular in the civil rights era. But what hasn’t changed is its enduring connection to racism. The filibuster has always stood in the way of racial progress, whether employed by Southern Democrats of the Jim Crow era or the Republican Party today after a major shift in the party’s stance on racial equality. When you understand the filibuster’s racist past, it becomes clear that it has a racist present as well — and that we need to get rid of it.

Call it what it is, don’t let them take cover under “tradition.”

Dems Getting Things Back To Normal

Looks like Biden and Dem leadership are ready to get things back to normal.

Back to normal means back to refusing to hold Republicans accountable and face consequences thereby encouraging even more bad behavior, asking permission from Republicans before trying anything that might make people’s lives better, imposing ridiculous means-testing restrictions on anything that might benefit people, refusing to use the power voters gave them because it might have “bad optics” or “make Republicans retaliate,” being intimidated into doing nothing, and imposing austerity that breeds fascism, and refusing to tell voters about any good things they actually do.

It’s surprising anyone votes for Dems.

On “Speaking Fees,” Biden and Yellen

In the 90s there was a scandal about “buckraking,” where journalists were reporting positively about certain moneyed interests while raking in huge “speaking fees” from them. (A good example was 1996’s Money Talks by Howard Kurtz, Part 1, Part 2.)

While Congress has since banned honoraria for its members, the market for reporters and pundits who speak to business audiences has never been hotter. Some big-name media people routinely receive $15,000, $30,000, even $50,000 for a single speech. And the bulk of that money comes from corporations and lobbying organizations with more than a passing interest in the issues the journalists write about and yak about for a living.

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