Open Letter to Judge Amy Coney Barrett

CC: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee

Dear Judge Barrett,

Congratulations on your nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States! You must be ecstatic! What greater plum could an ambitious jurist wish for, unless it’s Chief Justice? You’ll just have to wait your turn, if that is on your agenda.

So be a good sport and chill for the time being. Ask Donald Trump to give you a rain check. For the sake of the Republic. You see, you and those who vote to confirm you will be judged by present and future Americans according to how well your ascension to the highest court in the land serves the tattered remnants of our so-called republic, so please listen up.

We don’t care what an accomplished legal scholar or nice person you are; all we know is that you are being used in the most high-handed way and that this ought to disturb anyone who believes in fair play and the rule of law.

It will, after all, be up to you and your colleagues on the high court to adjudicate whether governmental authority has been overreached, either by the Executive, Congress, or the judiciary, including your very own precious Supreme Court. This, as you may know, has happened, and more so recently.

This is supremely important. For decades, our presidents have inexorably extended the reach of their decision-making authority until almost any executive order is generally deemed legitimate. President Trump has hollowed out the constitution time and time again by abrogating to himself the authority to, for example, terminate the DACA program, grab portions of federal agency budgets to build a wall at the Mexican Border using funds Congress did not appropriate for such a purpose, and send federal law enforcement agents to arrest legitimate protestors over the objection of local authorities.

Are you okay with unlimited executive prerogatives? Is the pliant acquiescence of the Republican-controlled senate to whatever the President may demand (such as ramming through your appointment scant weeks before a presidential election) prima facie an exercise in legitimate constitutional as well as moral authority?

Most people’s moral political compass would point toward declining this nomination and tell the President to try again once he is re-elected. That would be the honorable thing to do. That would comfort the nation. You must clearly understand that quick confirmation of your nomination is expeditious for the administration and its allies. Do you want to be a pawn in their game? What self-respecting person would stand to be used in such a manner?

Your deeply held beliefs may have real and possibly adverse consequence for our loved ones and descendants, but that’s not our real problem. What’s truly upsetting is that you would allow yourself to be used to further an authoritarian agenda on behalf of a president who is loyal only to himself, his pocketbook, and his overreaching ambitions. You know who Donald Trump is, that he has failed the Americans he claims to represent, and has no respect for the rule of any law he takes exception to, so why would you stand for his and Mitch McConnell’s end run around tradition and due process, even if it advances your career?

End this charade. Find a way to bow out. We suggest going through the confirmation process and then withdrawing before being sworn in. No need to explain; simply cite personal reasons. If you don’t and go on to take your seat on the bench you will have contributed to hastening the end of democracy in our republic and history will not judge you kindly.

Just Sayin’,

One Hundred Million Americans

 

September 27, 2020; updated October 7, 2020

Coronavirus as Metaphor: It’s Not Peanuts

“No problem can be so complicated that it can’t be run away from”

~ Linus, from Charles Schultz’s comic strip Peanuts

One now sees people walking along streets masked, gloved, and occasionally gowned, as if on their way to a Halloween party. The unluckiest of them are zombies who don’t yet know that they are the living dead. The situation is unprecedented and, sadly, un-presidented. Because we are human, we search for a metaphor that encapsulates the situation.

Coronovirus, bless its creepy little heart (speaking of metaphors), is the proximal cause of the disease with the unfortunate bureaucratic appellation COVID-19 (as if it were a defense program or a government dossier) that has quickly come to symbolize extreme measures presented as its palliatives. And while “nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition” (Monty Python’s Flying Circus, 1970), many public health experts have expected a pandemic to emerge for which they warned society and its masters will be ill-prepared. And now that one has presented itself and we do find ourselves unprepared, how are we to think of that? What does that teach us about our civilization?

Continue reading “Coronavirus as Metaphor: It’s Not Peanuts”

Where Was Rudy Giuliani When Democrats Needed Him?

Help me get this straight. Rudolph Giuliani is the President’s private attorney, or at least he still seems to be. According to CNN on 10/11/19:

“Rudy Giuliani is still President Trump’s personal attorney but will not be dealing with matters involving Ukraine, a source close to Trump’s legal team told CNN.

Earlier today, Trump wouldn’t say whether Giuliani was still his personal attorney.

‘Well I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him yesterday briefly. He’s a very good attorney and he has been my attorney, yeah, sure,’ he told CNN.

Asked later by CNN if he was still Trump’s attorney, Giuliani responded, ‘Yes.’”

As CNN went on to note:

“However, Ukraine is at the center of the current impeachment investigation being conducted by the House of Representatives into Trump. Also, the criminal indictment against two of Giuliani’s associates who were arrested Wednesday night trying to leave the US, describe an elaborate, months-long scheme to funnel foreign money into federal and state elections around the US to curry favor with politicians on behalf of at least one Ukrainian government official and a Russian businessman.”

Wasn’t Giuliani the bagman for Trump’s sordid campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens under pain of losing US military assistance—to fight the Russians, whom for Democrats seem to be the source of most of the world’s evils? Aren’t these two shady guys (Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman) his erstwhile if not indicted partners in crime? Why aren’t Rudy and his pals fodder for impeachment proceedings? This does not compute. Continue reading “Where Was Rudy Giuliani When Democrats Needed Him?”

Deval Patrick for President?

Note: It was almost one year ago (11/21/18, to be precise) that I wrote this post about Massachusetts ex-governor Deval Patrick considering the Democratic race for President on 2020. Well, it took him another year to hem and haw over it before throwing his black hat into the ring, but what made him wait until now to decide? Methinks he didn’t want Michael Bloomberg, another financier with much deeper pockets, to outflank him. But now the gang of twenty or whatever candidates have a long head start with a few debates under their belts. How is Patrick going to snuggle up?

There’s a sound bite in this BBC story about his announcement in which he says “I don’t think wealth is the problem. Greed is the problem…” All right then. Let’s outlaw greed.

Anyway, here’s my article. I don’t think much has changed.
—GD


Continue reading “Deval Patrick for President?”

Guest Post: Bernie and the Jets

This post by Jeffrey St Clair, Editor of CounterPunch and author of books on politics and the environment comes from late 2015, when it looked as though Bernie Sanders might win the Democratic nomination. Jeffrey has a way with words, and does not mince any in this takedown of the socialist candidate from the Green Mountain State.

And now, as the silly season for the 2020 vote ramps up, we have 20 or so Democratic candidates, surely with more to come. Trump, however, has but one, ex-Massachusetts Guv’ner Bill Weld, a Republican who in 2016 ran in the Veep slot with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. He’s gonna be pretty lonely.

Speaking of lost causes, though, Bernie’s back and has been the lead contender until… Continue reading “Guest Post: Bernie and the Jets”

Donald Trump Goes to Heaven

After suffering a cheeseburger infarction, Donald Trump finds himself queuing toward eternity. He shuffles up to the Pearly Gates in a foul mood for not being accorded élite status. Not relishing taking a deposition from the addled gentleman, St Peter sloughs him off to Paul, his Deputy Secretary for Lost Souls, who asks Donald to name three things that qualify him to enter the realm of eternal peace, harmony, and brotherly love.

“Well, I gave Ivanka a kitten for her seventh or eleventh birthday, something like that. She said she loved the kitten but I could tell she loved me more because she stopped biting my ankles.”

Paul asked where he had gotten the kitten.

“How the hell would I know? My secretary took care of it.” Continue reading “Donald Trump Goes to Heaven”

Guest Post: The Pieties of the Liberal Class

In this weekend’s CounterPunch, Jason Hirtler masterfully dissects the bankruptcy of the (neo)liberal world order, in which Trump’s policies are bad, bad, bad even when they hardly differ substantively from those of Obama or any other president.

That America’s policies foreign and domestic scarcely vary from one administration to the next seems beyond the mass media’s myopic ken, but doesn’t escape the clear-eyed Mr. Hirtler. His well-chosen words both sting and entertain.

Read his analysis of the Democrat’s duplicity and overreaching and let us know if you think he’s off the mark or not. And while you’re over there, please chip in, because CounterPunch is entirely a reader-supported enterprise, and one of the few fearless publications willing to speak truth to power. A world without such blowback would be unthinkable, and perhaps uninhabitable.

So give. A better world will thank you.

The Pieties of the Liberal Class 

Deep State 102: The Weaponization of the Democratic Party

In a penetrating essay that could cause you to lose sleep, stage, screen, and cultural critic and radical playwright John Steppling peels away the all-inclusive veneer of the Democratic Party to reveal its rotten core, eaten out by slick financiers and world supremacists. He begins by politically disrobing current Dem darling Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, upset winner of a well-publicized primary battle in the Bronx, likening her to Bernie Sanders but not in a good way. They are both “sheepdogs,” he says, political animals whose task is to nudge left-leaning voters back into the fold. We saw how well that worked in 2016, right?

Naming names, he follows up by itemizing disgraceful legislation congressional Dems have promoted and putrid GOP bills they took passes on, such as the obese $700B defense budget they collaborated on that overshot what was requested by a healthy margin. And lest you think that’s as bad as it gets, he unmasks a depressingly extensive host of Democratic primary candidates as ex-military, State Department, and CIA operatives, set to infiltrate Congress on a mission to fully weaponize all federal activities. Having long ago swallowed the White House, civil service, and mass media, the Secret Team has decided it’s time to ingest Congress.

Below the fold, fellow travelers, I give you John Steppling.

Continue reading “Deep State 102: The Weaponization of the Democratic Party”

Pity the Immigrant Warrior

How NPR Elides Facts to Further Hegemony

It’s universal. We all gripe about how news media—TV and radio network news, newspapers, and Internet news sites—intentionally distort and selectively oversimplify reality, and we like to say so in letters to the editor and online comments. Complaints about media bias are as old as the town crier, and today are institutionalized online. A bunch of watchdog groups, such as FAIR and Media Matters on the left (progressive foes of corporate media) and Media Research Center to the right (whose “sole mission is to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media”), specialize in skewering the press. They’re all worth considering if a balanced view is what you aspire to.

Both sides regularly take aim at the same targets for different reasons. One of them is NPR (National Pubic Radio), criticized by the right as a card-carrying member of the “liberal media” conspiracy and by the left as a corporatist sell-out. While it tends to steer left of and does more investigative reporting than our TV networks, its political liberalism stops just to the left of David Brooks. (Speaking of whom, should it appeal and you can spare $15, you can buy a roll of toilet paper printed with his visage and quotations. Monies fund The Baffler magazine’s crankiness.) Continue reading “Pity the Immigrant Warrior”

Franking Privileges: Barney and the Jet Set

Remember good old Barney Frank, the loudmouth former legislator from Massachusetts’ 4th District? (Even after 50 years in the Bay State, he still talks Joisey.) He’s gay and proud (having first outed himself privately in the late 70s and then publicly in 1987), and still sports a progressive patina that over time has become a tad tarnished.

He first showed up on my radar as a twenty-something grad student at Harvard’s Kennedy Institute of Politics who ditched his dissertation to work for the Mayor of Boston. He soon entered politics as a state rep, taking a law degree from Harvard while he served his west-of-Boston suburban constituency. By 1980 he was a Congress-critter, and by the time he bowed out in 2013 he had risen to Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee (demoted by the 2010 mid-terms to Ranking Member). Unless it happened in High School, he never lost an election. Continue reading “Franking Privileges: Barney and the Jet Set”