Election Connection: Welcome to the Biden Administration

Standard

The Election Connection series will be a bit more sporadic, posted on a need-to-know basis now that we have an Administration that cares about its citizens in all the important and even in the most mundane ways. I still feel waves of PTSD at moments and then I see Press Secretary Jen Psaki swatting stupid questions, not arguing with White House correspondents, and offering experts to give briefings and answer questions, and I remember that it’s all going to be okay. It’s like the last four years were a dream, and I’m Pamela Ewing.

Unfortunately, the last four years weren’t a dream, and as nightmarish as it was to live through, it wasn’t a nightmare either. It was very real.

We need to take that same energy from the last years, the same energy brought to the Georgia Senate race, the same energy brought by the summer protests, and we need to focus it unrelentingly on the next two years, and then the two after that, and then the two after. We can never get complacent again.

Complacent = Complicit

We came very close to losing our republic. As it was, we witnessed a coup attempt, an insurrection that struck at the heart of our democracy. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer, but hundreds of others were injured. Two members of law enforcement have committed suicide. And still, there are Republicans who refuse to comply with law enforcement requirements to go through a magnetometer before entering the House floor. I mean, let’s be realistic and honest here, they’re also refusing to wear masks despite common sense and Executive Order, putting their colleagues and staff at risk (four members of Congress plus one spouse became covid infected because of Republican negligence on January 6th, and that was without their obvious complicity in the attack on the Capitol).

So, it’s time for a Civics lesson, and I will go extra slow as if I were speaking to the newly elected Senator from Alabama (this one) who doesn’t know the three branches of government (see below*) or a Supreme Court justice (this one) who doesn’t know the five rights guaranteed in the First Amendment (see below*).

Some things are etched in stone – the Constitution including the Bill of Rights is one of those things. The Constitution may be amended, and there are procedures in place to do that. In fact, we have amended the Constitution twenty-seven times, most recently in 1992.

Some things are not – Number of Supreme Court justices, the use of the filibuster. Supreme Court justices were based on the number of circuit courts, which have increased to thirteen. This is why many experts feel that the Supreme Court should be expanded to cover each circuit court with its own justice (as established in 1869 with what is known as the Circuit Judges Act).

The filibuster is not part of the Constitution, which makes it easier to change than amending the Constitution would be.

A couple of points:

Unity does not mean to continue to allow ourselves be abused or gaslit.

Unity does not mean giving in to bullies.

Unity does not mean power sharing when Democrats have a clear mandate.

Below the cut are Twitter follows of the Biden Administration, the House Managers of the Impeachment Trial, a selection of podcasts, and other accounts that I follow regularly and find are very informative and honest. Add your own in the comments and I can include them in the next Election Connection.

*Branches of Government
| | |
Legislative Executive Judicial

*5 Rights Enumerated in the First Amendment:
1. Freedom of Speech
2. Freedom of Religion
3. Freedom of the Press
4. Freedom to Assemble
5. Freedom to Protest the Government

Continue reading

Election Connection: One Week. Seven Days. We’ve Got Work To Do.

Standard

I’ve already voted. I made my plan and followed through. I voted on Saturday. In a typical year, that would mean I’m done for the next twelve months. But this is not a typical year.

Even though I’ve cast my vote for Joe Biden, my work (and yours) is not finished until the end of Election Day.

At that point, others may take up the baton, but hopefully the landslide and mandate will express crystal clearly the will of the American people.

As I was working on what this post was going to be eight days before Election Day, and even as I was writing my notes late last night, things happened that need to be brought to light for prospective voters.

The first is the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court. This was an illegitimate process to confirm a justice whose beliefs are so far opposite of the American people that that alone should disqualify her. Her lack of litigation experience is a second disqualification. Confirming her eight days before the end of an election after sixty million people have already voted is a despicable act by the Senate GOP and especially the evil*, hypocritical Majority Leader McConnell.

Clicking this photo will take you directly to Vote Save America’s Voting Plan. Twitter. (c)2020

The second big item was a Supreme Court ruling that while ballots in Wisconsin can be postmarked by Election Day, they cannot be counted after Election Day. What this means in the real world is that if you mail your ballot in, it may not be counted. Again, McConnell (evil hypocrite) and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have consistently kept Congress from including voter security monies for the post office and have sabotaged key sorting equipment nationwide. Because of this partisan hackery, please, either vote early  or on Election Day in person or hand deliver your absentee ballot to an official ballot box, to your board of elections, or at the polls on Election Day.

To be sure your vote is counted, have a plan. The following are resources to help you from now through Election Day.

Remember – speak to your family and friends about voting. Be prepared to answer any questions. Direct them to the Biden website to read up on his policy proposals and priorities.

Make sure they’re voting.

Offer to drive people to the polls.

Volunteer – it’s not too late to help (see the links below).

*see his debate with Amy McGrath in Kentucky laughing about not bringing covid relief to the floor for a vote.

Clicking this photo will take you to volunteer opportunities at the Vote Save America website.


Other links:

Vote Save America – Donate to relieve this country of Mitch McConnell’s “leadership”

Vote Save America – Have a Plan to Vote

Vote Save America – Volunteer

I Will Vote

When We All Vote

Follow Marc Elias on Twitter.

What do you do if there is voter intimidation at your poll? Call 1-866-687-8683 (1-866-OUR VOTE)

What do you do if armed “militias” are at your polling place? Georgetown Law has information for all fifty states.

Clicking the photo will take you to We The Action where, if you’re a lawyer, you can sign up to volunteer to protect our vote.

Election Connection: 5 Weeks: SCOTUS

Standard

[OPINION]

I think it’s important to look at this SCOTUS nomination in its totality, and not simply whether or not we like this nominee choice of Amy Coney Barrett. I also think we need to take care not to conflate our strong feelings for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and keep our biases in check when we talk about Barrett’s personal life and instead stick to her judicial record, which is scant. I also believe a little humility is necessary by those pressing for this nominee. Whatever judicial strengths she has, she cannot compare to an icon of RBG’s stature. RBG’s work for women and first head of the ACLU’s Women’s Project steered much of the equal rights we women (and men) enjoy today. Not everyone can be a Thurgood Marshall or a Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and that doesn’t necessarily disqualify someone, including Judge Barrett.

As a matter of course, this nomination absolutely should not go forward. Even without Mitch McConnell’s blatant hypocrisy, we aren’t too close to an election – we are in the middle of an election. Over one million voters have already spoken with millions more to vote between now and the conclusion of the election on November 3rd.

I do understand Barrett’s unwillingness to step aside somewhat; the President would only choose someone else, although stepping aside on principle would show us what principles she has, as not stepping aside has already shown us.

Very simply, my opinion is clear-eyed.

This President, who was impeached earlier this year, and has now been reported to have engaged in tax fraud should not be the person to nominate a new Supreme Court justice. There are still allegations that a deal was worked out for Justice Kennedy to retire. This President admitted on tape his malfeasance in conducting the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it invaded its way across our country. He failed in his stewardship, and he should not be rewarded by the complicit and cowardly Senate; the same Senate and Majority Leader who refused to work with the nation’s first Black President on any legislative agenda. The same man who let his racism cloud his solemn oath to guard the Constitution.

The Election is now. People have voted. People are voting. Right now.

When the election is certified, if President Trump wins re-election, he can then nominate someone (including Amy Coney Barrett) for SCOTUS. However, if the President-Elect is Joe Biden, then we, as a country must wait until after the inauguration on January 20, 2021, and let the duly elected President follow the will of the American people, and nominate the justice who will fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat.

Although irreplaceable, someone will eventually take her place on the High Court and that someone should be nominated by the President chosen by the American electorate.

Go to Vote Save America and see how you can help get out the vote!

Justice John Paul Stevens (1920-2019)

Standard

​I have always been fascinated by the legal system and the law. My whole life, including reading for pleasure has included government, history, and legal issues. I have an analytical and argumentative mind and nothing comes close to both of those attributes more than the law.

In high school my favorite class senior year was Everyday Law, which would most likely be compared to a civics class – what to do if you get pulled over? What are your rights when approached by a polic officer? Your neighbor is infringing on your property, what do you do? That sort of thing. It was an elective, and I still really believe this type of class should be required for students to prepare them for the real world they are about to enter.

I have been privileged to live in a time where I have witnessed the ascension of the first African-American, the first woman, and the first Latina to the Supreme Court (Marshall, Day O’Connor, and Sotomayor, respectively).

When I served jury duty, the cover of Time magazine was Chief Justice William Brennan who was retiring. He was one of my favorite justices and his court more than any other cemented my philosophy firmly on the liberal side of things, although I would characterize my views as less liberal and more founded in civil rights and equality.

I continued reading and studying the law throughout my life, and majored in political science/pre-law for two years of college. Constitutional Law was my favorite class, and I loved my professor who I had for all three of my law classes. I still have all of those textbooks and I’ve added The Law of Writing to my collection. My enthrallment has never subsided.

Until 2010 when he retired, for as long as I can remember, Justice John Paul Stevens has been a staple on the Supreme Court. As the Bush years passed, and the liberal wing was replaced by more conservative jurists, Justice Stevens remained stalwart, continuing the tradition of upholding the Constitution through law and not political partisanship. It is essential to remember that Justice Stevens was appointed by a Republican, President Gerald Ford as was Brennan (by President Dwight D. Eisenhower).

John Paul Stevens was the third longest serving justice on the Supreme Court. When he joined the Burger Court (soon to become the Brennan Court), I had just turned nine and for my entire life since, Stevens became a member of one of the most iconic groups of justices. While all generations have heroes to look up to and all Supreme Courts make important, life changing, country-wide decisions, I was blessed with the ability to follow the Supreme Court that included John Paul Stevens as well as his iconic colleagues.

Justice Stevens read briefs, and listened to oral arguments, deciding cases such as Hamdan v Rumsfield, Massachusetts v EPA, and dissenting on Citizens United v FEC and Bush v Gore as well as DC v Heller. Related to this case, he believes the 2nd Amendment should be readdressed, whether appealed or amended is still to see. He hasn’t been on the court in nearly a decade, but his voice will be missed in our world.

Rest in peace, Justice Stevens.

As a matter of constitutional tradition, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we presume that governmental regulation of the content of speech is more likely to interfere with the free exchange of ideas than to encourage it. The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship.
“Excerpts From Ruling on Internet: ‘Statute Abridges the Freedom of Speech'”. http://www.nytimes.com. June 27, 1997. 

Whenever we remove a brick from the wall that was designed to separate religion and government, we increase the risk of religious strife and weaken the foundation of our democracy.
Church & State Editorial, http://www.au.org. May 2010.

A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.
Dissenting, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. ___ (2010)

Preet Bharara had a lovely reflection on Justice Stevens

Justice John Paul Stevens – A Maverick on the Bench Dies at 99

Justice Stevens with Justice Elena Kagan, who took his place upon his retirement. Photo from Supreme Court government website. (c)2019

Election Reflection – 21 DAYS TIL MIDTERMS

Standard

VOTE!

Vote Save America – check your registration. People are being purged and voters, especially minorities and Democratic voters are being suppressed. If Republicans had a message and could take the responsibility of governing, they wouldn’t need to cheat by suppressing legal voters from making their choices.

In Georgia, the Republican running against Stacey Abrams is also the Secretary of State of the state of Georgia, and is the one who validates the security and legitimacy of the election, including certifying the election. Currently, there are 53,000 voter registrations that are being held up. 70% of them are African-American voters.

Georgia Lawsuit is Latest…
The Supreme Court just ruled, merely a few weeks ahead of this year’s election that the North Dakota law requiring street addresses (rather than post office boxes) is legal and upheld. This disenfranchises many Native Americans voters, a voting group that primarily goes for the Democratic party. Living on reservations and on rural routes, the post office does not assign street addresses. This is significant.

Native Americans Decry Supreme Court Ruling on Voter ID in ND

Indiana is trying to purge voters in the weeks before this midterm election.

Federal Judge Blocks Indiana…

Again, I ask, what are Republican politicians afraid of?

We are still at risk from Russian election interference. Nothing has been fortified since the 2016 election that has been proved to have been compromised.

I’m worried.

You should be also.

Check your registration, drive your friends to the polls, and VOTE!

Dr. Ford and Justice for All

Standard

​I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about these past two weeks than I normally would for a political rant, so maybe this isn’t exactly a rant or a venting, although the smoke is spiraling out of my ears, nostrils, and hair follicles and just like in the cartoons, I can hear the whistling.
To start, I want to state unequivocally that I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Judiciary Committee testimony in its entirety. Anyone who doubts her memory didn’t watch the testimony. She was incredibly careful and was clear to clarify her statements, and to say she didn’t know or didn’t remember if that was the case. She didn’t lose her temper or her composure despite the biased, some stupid questions from the Arizona prosecutor that the Judiciary Republicans hired (Senate Majority Leader McConnell called her a female assistant) because they couldn’t be human or decent to Dr. Ford.

Continue reading

Now What? The Testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

Standard

​I planned my entire Thursday around Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. When I went out in the morning to grab something to eat, I listened to Senator Chuck Grassley’s opening remarks on the radio, and I was home in time for Senator Diane Feinstein’s. From that point on, I watched, without interruption.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t planned on watching Judge Kavanaugh’s, but I thought in the interest of fairness (and a cleared afternoon schedule), I decided that I would watch it live rather than wait for that evening’s analysis. Continue reading

Recs – A Collection of Articles

Standard

I’ve been saving these and thought this snowy week when many are snowbound was a perfect time to share them:

These 48 Trans Women and Men Changed the World

LGBTQ Children in Catholic Families: A Deacon’s View on Holy Family Sunday

8 Ways to Get Rid of Paper Clutter

9 Lists to Keep Updated, And Keep Handy

52 Things, Ideas for Writers 2015

The Playboy Conversation: Patton Oswalt and Wil Wheaton

A Writer’s Toolbox

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

Wartime Secrets of the Female Codebreakers of Bletchley Park

Transgender Man has Private Audience with Pope Francis

Most Important Thing on TV this year is this Super Bowl PSA

Simeon, Anna, and Phil and The Many Facets of the Second of February

SCOTUS Decides Vaccine Debate (110 Years Ago)

Supreme Court Decides an Employer’s Right to their Employees’ Reproduction Decisions (My Opinion)

Standard

I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with my priest before today. He is usually apolitical even though by virtue of being a priest, you kind of know where he stands on most issues. We are currently in the middle of the fortnight for freedom. It’s two weeks of daily prayer for religious freedom.

At the same time, yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Hobby Lobby case having to do with an employer’s religious beliefs. I’m a little incensed, so I’ll be touching on these and other related topics. If I’ve got facts wrong, please message me and I will most definitely look into it.

Continue reading