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.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Will Not Act Like Brett Kavanaugh

If you wonder what it might be like for a polar bear to be stranded on a drifting and melting slab of ice look no further than the bedraggled face of Governor Andrew Cuomo. His political crisis can hardly get worse following the news that both United States senators from New York have thrown the once most powerful man in the state into the cold waters. The quickening pace of the almost surreal series of events in Albany has caught the attention of the country.

It comes as no surprise at the gleeful ease so many have piled onto Cuomo. Having a long track-record of being harsh with his foes and friends, alike, there are not many who now will expend any of their own political capital to defend the charges being made against him. It would seem, however, someone with heft in the city might offer some pushback, given the all-of-a-sudden rush by a number of people to all at once speak out about his boorish behavior. That is not to say Cuomo did not act as he is being accused, but no one can miss the amazing orchestration of this political take-down.

That is what has this blogger watching hour-by-hour for the next development. I simply do not see how Cuomo can stay in office following the events in the past 36 hours.

But it needs noting that the other reason the nation is watching–apart from the need to see the crash occurring in slow motion–is how this event is in such stark contrast to other women making charges against other powerful men. If you are keeping score of the women who have spoken out concerning the sexual predator who sat in the Oval Office over the past four years it would total twenty-six. The severity of many of their allegations against Trump makes Cuomo appear to be a choir boy.

But unlike the avalanche of Democrats who have called for Cuomo to step down, there were only crickets to be heard when Republicans were asked to hold their leader accountable. We recall the indignant nature of the ever-single and womanless Senator Lindsey Graham when confronting the accuser of Brett Kavanaugh. Gone were the stern words from a conservative about personal responsibility as the senator all but licked the shoes of the nominee to the high court.

So it is newsworthy that Democrats are the ones showing what consistency looks like with this issue to a nation that has not seen much of that from the other party. Democrats are demonstrating they have the same concerns be it a Republican, or not, who faces the allegations. And I suspect that theme continues in the days to come, with Cuomo meeting his call to his larger duty.

Kavanaugh should have acted like a man with some shred of decency and removed himself from the nomination. That would have been best for the court. Unlike that episode, I predict Cuomo writes a powerful statement and removes himself from office. Knowing that is what a man does who understands amends must be made, and how a pol acts for the greater good.

And so it goes.

GOP Has Lost All Credibility

Phil Hands, the editorialist for the Wisconsin State Journal, has nailed the national condition of the Republican Party with his latest drawing.

There is no moral center, no regard for the nation, no higher calling for their party than mere partisanship.  The GOP sold their last shred of decency and self-respect to Donald Trump who has proven he will sink to any level, and commit any action to further his personal enrichment and ego-stroking.

The GOP can no longer prattle on about Ronald Reagan, family values, strong national defense, or tight fiscal strategies.  They can no longer speak from any elevated position about any topic.

They have kneeled and bowed to Donald Trump.   They have chosen their master.   And in so doing they have demonstrated bootlicking is almost an art form.    As Aunt Lindsey proved on Face The Nation this morning.

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Where We Are Tonight With Trump Blustering Over Special Counsel Mueller

We are in one of those moments in history where our future hangs on the actions of my fellow Americans.

For the second straight day, President Trump was unrestrained in his commentary about Robert Mueller’s expanding investigation, which is probing not only Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible links to his campaign, but also whether the president has sought to obstruct justice, according to the Washington Post.  

These are truly dire and troubling times.  If Republicans cared for our nation they would step up for the good of the nation–as opposed to partisan maneuvers.  Sadly, tonight there are only a few brave ones who know the rule of law must prevail, and that the needs of the nation must be asserted as Trump blusters and threatens.

Senator Lindsey Graham warned Trump not to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, Reuters reports.

Graham said, “The only reason Mr. Mueller could ever be dismissed is for cause. I see no cause when it comes to Mr. Mueller. I pledge to the American people as a Republican, to ensure that Mr. Mueller can continue to do his job without any interference.  As I have said before, if he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule of law nation.

Meanwhile Congressman Trey Gowdy urged Trump and his lawyer to stop flailing at special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and to let the probe continue unimpeded, Politico reports.  “When you are innocent… act like it. If you’ve done nothing wrong, you should want the investigation to be as fulsome and thorough as possible.”

Americans need to heed their inner convictions as we near a time when Trump may use autocratic means to achieve his ends.

The question what will you do when that time arrives?

Senator Graham This Is How To Pronounce “Niger”

This week, thanks to CNN for asking a question about the American soldiers killed during a military mission in Niger, the Trump Administration is being forced to respond.  The awkward lack of honestly from Trump regarding his contact with the families of the dead soldiers, and then the tortured way be talked to those in emotional pain made for endless news cycles.  Once again Trump stepped on a whole week of messaging about policies the White House had hoped to stress.   While the media is now holding those with knowledge about this matter accountable thus ensuring the  military mission will be investigated and explained there is one thing everyone needs to agree on right now.

And that is how to pronounce the nation of Niger.

This week I was pleased when a news anchor correctly pronounced the name but then was dismayed when Senator Graham, who is supposed to be steeped in international relations, was not able to correctly pronounce the African nation.

So lets set the record straight.   Lindsay, that is not a pun aimed at you!  (But come on buddy, and at least open your closet door and wave to the rest of us!)

First of all the way Graham stated it as “NYE-jur” is wrong.  The proper way to say it is to use French-sounding “nee-ZHER,” and emphasize the second syllable so the word makes an approximate rhyme with “Pierre.”

And for record, Lindsay, the word for a bubbling brook is not “crik” but “creek”.

Just saying.

McCain, Graham Strike Back Hard Over Trump Muslim Travel Ban

The Republican backlash starts with heavy hitters.  The global outrage is boiling, too

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina broke the GOP silence on Capitol Hill on Sunday to issue a scathing condemnation of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“We fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism,” McCain and Graham said in a joint statement, adding that Trump’s executive order “may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said Sunday the administration should immediately make revisions to the executive order. 
 
“We all share a desire to protect the American people, but this executive order has been poorly implemented, especially with respect to green card holders,” said Corker. “The administration should immediately make appropriate revisions, and it is my hope that following a thorough review and implementation of security enhancements that many of these programs will be improved and reinstated.”

Senator Graham: Donald Trump Statement Is “Most Un-American Thing…Since Joe McCarthy”

Sen. Lindsey Graham has now urged Republicans who have backed Donald Trump to rescind their endorsements.  That is now reported by The New York Times.

The uproar regards the remarks about Judge Curiel from Donald Trump where the crazed billionaire continues to press that a person’s ethnicity holds people suspect as to bias.  On Sunday Trump expressed doubt that a Muslim judge could remain neutral in the same lawsuit that has become front and center with Trump University.

Therefore the words of Graham are most reasoned and appropriate.

This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy. If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it. There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.

Best Line From Senator Lindsey Graham

Best line from Lindsay Graham about Ted Cruz. “If you kill Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you.”