Our Politics Smolder, Democracy Suffers

There is much to be alarmed about when reading the newspapers from day-to-day. Eastern Europe is ablaze, war crimes mount, and a madman is still alive in Moscow. But closer to home we have issues that tear at the fabric of our democracy, with the latest example coming from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

This week he stated Republicans would not have held hearings on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court if they held a majority in the Senate.

“If we get back the Senate, and we’re in charge of this body, and there’s judicial openings, we will talk to our colleagues on the other side,” Graham said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Jackson’s nomination. “But if we were in charge, she would not have been before this committee.”

Such is our politics in 2022. As a decades-long politico, I am embarrassed about the condition in which we now find ourselves. We can track the history of how we arrived at this place, and while there is plenty of specifics that can be placed on each party, that does not take away the fact that the above statement from Graham was reprehensible.

By the end of this week, the Senate could very well confirm the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. That is a significant stride for a nation that long had only white men holding those seats. Rather than honoring that moment or understanding a president has the right to his appointments, barring some egregious or illegal behavior on the part of the nominee, we instead are witnessing a very low moment in our politics.

(For the record, I have still not figured out what took place upon the death of Senator John McCain, a long-time friend of the South Carolina Senator, which unleashed a continual series of outrageous comments and behavior.)

I have long enjoyed the court nominees over the decades facing the Judiciary Committee and having views shared concerning how the law should be reasoned, probing into if and how the Constitution was a living document, and how precedent weighs into guiding authority for deciding subsequent cases. But the hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson were not what the public deserved, as they were not able to learn anything of substance over the four days.

What we were presented with, all too often, was base low-ball behavior.

I get it that the minority wants to be anything other than the minority. I get it that political points need to scored at some level, but the disrespectful questions, and then in some cases, the lack of a Republican listening to Jackson’s full response showcased what is currently wrong with our politics.

Not for the first time does this blog desire our conversations with each other to be more elevated. This blog has called out Madison radio personalities for low-brow on-air behavior, a president for cursing in public, and now the display our nation witnessed in the Judiciary Committee.

What strikes me, and I suspect a wide swath of the nation when it comes to Senate votes for court nominees, is the bipartisan nature we once enjoyed when placing new people on the bench. Here’s how our politics looked with those votes for court nominees going back to Antonin Scalia’s confirmation in 1986.

TAKE NOTE: Scalia had been the most celebrated justice on the right. He got 98 votes in his 1986 confirmation. The most celebrated justice on the left, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, got 96 votes in 1993.

What Graham said about the future of our political process in Washington is truly disturbing. How many judges nominated by President Biden will then-Majority Leader McConnell allow to be confirmed in a GOP majority chamber? Well, apparently the answer is zero. And that is simply destructive to democracy.

Our Founding Fathers envisioned several examples of possible dangerous behavior to democracy and placed solutions to them within the Constitution. But they simply could not have fathomed the degree of partisanship currently running through the Republican Party. Partisanship so deep and corrosive it would harm the nation itself.

We really do need to find some more ‘John McCains’ within the Republican Party to keep the ‘Lindsey Grahams’ tethered to democracy. Our nation demands it.

And so it goes.

Why Do Conservatives Attack Military War Veterans Like Senator Tammy Duckworth, Senator Maxwell Cleland

Not being aware of how callous the American public had become, I was sure that when Donald Trump maligned Senator John McCain, a former POW, that his presidential campaign would fade away.  One of the ‘do not ever cross’ lines had been crossed and then doubled down on by Trump.

Much of the public did not care.  In retrospect, I should have learned from that disappointing moment when the shallow end of the pool became deeper.  But I am an optimist and think we will do better. Even now when our nation has allowed itself to be shoved towards illiberal democracy I still have faith that we can correct the mess voters created in 2016.

But as I watch the political news I am aware of our nation again being confronted with conservatives attacking a member of the military–and again against one who gave more than she ever could have known would befall her.  Democratic Illinois Senator Duckworth is getting hit over and over on Fox News, mainly from Tucker Carlson.

I have often written on this blog that America is not so much land from this point to that point on a map, but rather an idea.  We are based on ideals.  What made this place most unique from the start, and still so starkly different today from many other nations, is the ability of anyone to dissent and differ with powerful words and spirited debate.

When that is done, especially from a person who had both legs blown off in an explosion in Baghdad, there is reason to give some license for the words offered.  That is just the decency factor that is built into coming back to our nation with fewer limbs than one had when leaving to serve in our military.   When we can not allow for that trade-off to be heard and respected than we have lost something about that idea of America.

Perhaps the shallow end of the pool is getting deeper, again.

Let it not be forgotten that Republicans and conservatives have been attacking military veterans for a long time. Recall Maxwell Cleland, a Democratic politician from the state of Georgia, a disabled Army veteran of the Vietnam War, a recipient of the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for valorous actions in combat?  He was slammed around by Republicans in some of the most vile political attacks I had seen used against a member of the military.  One would have thought he was nothing more than a traitor if only the campaign ads from his opponents were known about.  But what we must not forget—ever–is that due to the severity of his wounds, doctors amputated both of Cleland’s legs above the knee and his right forearm. He was 25 years old.

But that did not stop conservatives from kicking him again and again while maligning him.

“I’d never seen anything like that ad,” McCain said at the time of the spot, which was widely condemned by Democrats. Putting pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden next to the picture of a man who left three limbs on the battlefield is “worse than disgraceful,” said McCain. “It’s reprehensible.”


Now conservatives are kicking Duckworth–another soldier who gave more than any FOX News commentator ever will.  It is disgusting what that network allows on the air–in the guise of news and commentary.  Surely even the average FOX News viewer must have some moral fiber that allows them to find Carlson’s attempt at increasing his ratings unacceptable.

I have hope that advertisers will help flush the Fox system.  But then I had hoped the public was not so devoid of patriotism when McCain was attacked.  I have come to learn that even with optimism there are always some conservatives who continuously play their dark diseased deeds.

And so it goes.


Historical Moment In America With Peaceful Protests, Republicans Need To Heed Call For Justice


There is no way not to be moved emotionally, filled with pride, or awed by the historical moment that has filled our streets with peaceful protesters.  The vast majority of the protesters are peaceful but justifiably angry over the number of black men who have died at the hands of police.  There is no way to witness the death of George Floyd and not be resolved to make a change in the nation.  We all need to be determined at working to end the behavior we witnessed by the police officers in the video of Floyd’s death.  That type of officer shames all the men and women who wear blue uniforms around our nation.  AND IT HAS TO STOP. 

Over the long arc of our history protest movements have had measurable effects on the citizenry and have swayed elections.  President Lyndon Johnson is proof of that fact. History also shows that riots can play to a political use that allows for some candidates to use the fear card.  President Richard Nixon is proof of that fact.

Both of those men can claim the same year, and events, as proving those points.

A peaceful protest is a right, even when a president wants to make them disappear for a photo op. What Trump authorized this week against protesters outside the White House was disgusting and deplorable.

But a riot and the destruction which follows is not a right.  The riot places a huge ugly blemish over the work the peaceful protesters are doing.

Marching and shouting are basic constitutional rights.  Looting a merchant’s store is a crime.  That’s not just the law, it’s how most people, and most voters of all races, understand our nation to operate.

Our nation must address in a meaningful way the deaths of so many black men at the hand of officers who are clearly racist and in dire need of anger management classes. Our nation also needs to address the racist words, either out loud or through ‘dog-whistles’ which comes from Donald Trump and so many of his conservative brethren.  If they do not denounce his words they are as culpable as if they said them.  For too long the Republican Party has sided with the most despicable elements in order to secure balloting success.

It was not so long ago we saw a prime example of how Americans should behave when presented with vile racism. Senator John McCain was running for president on the Republican ticket. 

A woman at a McCain rally said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not, he’s not — he’s an Arab.”

Her comment prompted McCain to immediately shake his head and take the microphone from her.

And with that action, and the following words, he made a point about what makes this nation solid, and how to move forward as a people.

“No ma’am,” McCain said. “He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

Republicans need to shed their racist words and deeds and strive for higher ground.  Our national story gives them the light to see that path…all they need to do is find their inner compass to again be the Party of Lincoln.

And so it goes.

Trump Supporters Paid Taxes For This Work To Be Done

What happens when a bone spur president gets miffed with a national American war hero?
The White House wanted the U.S. Navy to move “out of sight” a warship named for the late Sen. John McCain, a war hero who became a frequent target of Trump’s ire, ahead of the Trump’s visit to Japan last week, according to an email reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
“A tarp was hung over the ship’s name ahead of Trump’s trip… and sailors were directed to remove any coverings from the ship that bore its name. After the tarp was taken down, a barge was moved closer to the ship, obscuring its name. Sailors on the ship, who typically wear caps bearing its name, were given the day off during Mr. Trump’s visit.”
And Trump supporters, with their tax dollars, paid to have this done.

Americans–Minus Mouth Breathers–Stand With John McCain

Except for the mouth breathers Americans are in agreement.  Senator John McCain was a war hero, and a fine American.

I grew up in a home where dad was a veteran of World War II.  While I was not always in alignment over the years with my father politically on matters of defense policy or military engagements  there was one thing we always were in agreement about.  When it came to the military service that men and women performed they were to be treated with respect.

This blog shows that following the first disgusting words by Donald Trump in 2015 about John McCain I felt the moral correctness of the nation would step up and defend our national norms.

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

I was wrong.   Those comments from Trump were not be his downfall.   And look at the cesspool we landed in as a consequence.

I know we smirk a lot at those who drink the Trump Kool-Aid.  And we smirk for good reason.  Can my readers image the complete meltdown from Republicans had President Obama talked this way about a war hero who was a POW?   Or had Obama talked with such disdain about a deceased war hero?

Mr. Obama, of course, has class and manners so such gutter talk would never happen.  But the same can never be said of Trump.  Today a new low was set.  How many times each week does our nation suffer the embarrassment of Trump?

Keep in mind that John McCain has been dead for seven months, but Trump’s feud with him is very much alive, and ramped up today in front of a military audience!  Trump, ever the biggest jerk in the crowd, said he gave McCain “the funeral he wanted, and I didn’t get ‘thank you”, which was not only in very bad taste, but also yet another lie that is to be added to the over 8,000 others which have been reported.  The funeral was arranged by the family with Washington National Cathedral.  The lying in State was totally the province of the Congress.

Trump prattled on today that McCain did not “get the job done for our great vets” and then continued to dig into the sewer by saying, “I have to be honest, I’ve never liked him much,—- probably never will.”

Just another sickening moment for deplorables to applaud.

I personally do not care why Trump feels a need to create a diversion so some other story is not covered or talked about by Americans.  I could give a damn what’s going on in Trump’s squirrel brain.  But what I know with certainty is there is no excuse for these kinds of un-presidential outbursts.

Observant readers know I never use the title for Donald Trump in my blog posts.  President Obama gets his due and even President Putin gets his.  But Trump is a graceless, cruel, mean-spirited bully who doesn’t deserve the respect of the title ‘President’.

Meanwhile John McCain was a hero, a statesman, and an honorable man.  Real Americans know that fact.

The rest of them. like Trump, are mouth breathers.

Final Thoughts About John McCain

The pageantry from the National Cathedral was most remarkable today. The life honored was most remarkable, too.

As I watched the service something struck me about John McCain. Like McCain, I too love to read history and have done so for decades. Since the fall of 2015 I have immersed myself even more in the past as a way to steel myself for the present times. So it was when hearing, once again, that McCain undertook numerous opportunities to reach across the aisle to attempt a compromise, that it became even clearer how truly American this man was.

The traits that this nation finds most compelling, and why we all have gravitated this week to honoring McCain’s life, is because history shows the greatest chapters revolves around political compromises.

McCain would have fit nicely at the famed dinner at Thomas Jefferson’s home where the war debt and the future sight of the national capital were dealt with. And he would have been a soul mate to the governing style of Henry Clay, another skilled with compromising.

The foundations of McCain were as solid and old as the nation itself. Not a bad place from which to be remembered.

One Photo Sum Up Service For John McCain At National Cathedral

The Pageantry Of National Cathedral Service For John McCain

The pageantry of the service for John McCain at the National Cathedral was so bitter-sweet to see play out.  As I watched and listened it struck me that what I was feeling was what our nation once resembled.  Here are some photos that give that feeling of what the day meant. I trust they convey your feelings, too.