January 2022 Archives

Dear America,

A couple of days ago, I sent this letter to the New York Times:

Old Joe has always been a "go along to get along" guy.  That's what bipartisanship really is: going along to get along, as if it should matter to the American people that the ruling class in America like each other enough to agree.  But the reality is that there will always be divergent sides on important issues, and going along means disregarding your will, America.  This is, at least putatively, a democracy.  That doesn't' mean that we all have to find a way to the path of least resistance.  It means that the majority prescribes the future, and the minority submits to it until it becomes the majority.  We do need to keep peace, there's no denying that, but the means to that end is peaceful compliance with laws made by the majority of our countrymen.  For example, I didn't pick up an assault rifle and go to the capital when "W" fabricated a cause to invade Iraq.  I knew it was a bad idea, but there was nothing I could do about it and so I accepted it peacefully, as did tens of millions of us.  When the Dodd-Franks bill was being considered, I didn't invade the halls of congress looking to hang Mitch McConnell when he put together a confab of financiers and bankers to see what they wanted in the act.  Maybe I should have, but I didn't because I believed that the majority would prevail, which it largely did, though not enough as far as I'm concerned.  And of course the list of things for us all to be "up in arms" about goes on and on, but the vast majority of us don't go out in the street with guns to show it.  In fact, we as a nation have been smart enough, for the most part, to see that the morons who did so were not patriots; they were just a gang of thugs.  What I'm saying is that the time for going along to get along is over, and that's what Old Joe said last week.  He's not going along anymore, and if that means that he can't get along...with Mitch McConnell for example...so be it.

Many people form their opinions about politics based on which of their biases their favorite editorialists confirm, and lately, those editorialists on both sides are taking Old Joe to task, whether validly or not, for failure to put together a bipartisan majority for the Build Back Better bill and the two pending voting rights protection bills.  But they are all ignoring one particular point The President made during the speech he made that McConnell characterized as a rant as he gave his own.  In 2006, all Republican senators voted in favor of renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which the five Republican-appointed majority of Supreme Court justices eviscerated in 2013 with Shelby County v. Holder.  The Shelby County travesty is what made the currently pending voting rights bills necessary, but likely not to succeed in passing, largely because those 16 Republican senators from 2006 who still serve have forgotten their principles, or choose to ignore them in favor of partisan loyalty.  For both those voting rights debacles as well as the interdiction of the bill that would make work possible for so many of those less fortunate than those senators, we have the Republican Party to thank, especially those 16 Republican senators who saw the necessity for the original voting rights law to endure in 2006 but refuse to speak up for the remedy to its 2016 essential evisceration by their Supreme Court.  

So, now comes one of their conciliatory enablers, having ascended to the presidency, saying enough is enough.  Disabuse one another of the understanding that building back better is necessary if you will, but do not tell me that fighting for voting rights in a nation that the Republican Party is trying to purloin with dubious, if not devious, alterations of the laws that it took the 1965 law to create in order to ensure that the majority rules in this democracy.  And to specifically respond to some of those editorial opinions, there is noting remote about the concerns of most Americans about equal rights to vote or the legislation to ensure it.  And January 6 didn't enable The Senate to pass the relief required by our nation suffering under the yoke of a pandemic disease.  It was compassion for the mass of Americans that did that, and even then it was anything but easy to get the Republicans to go along, and we largely have the bombast and conspiratorial instincts of Mitch McConnell to thank for that.  And as to the liberal criticism of President Biden for abandoning bipartisanship, what bipartisanship.  The Republican Party in the person of Mitch McConnell publicly confessed to making failure of a Democratic President and his majorities a failure, and the commitment of his party to serve and follow him is palpably evident in today's events...or should I say non-events.  It takes two parties to have bipartisanship, and the Republicans aren't interested.  In fact, they are doing everything they can to interdict it.  Now here's the point.

Under Senate Rule XX, there is something called the "nuclear option."  It allows the majority leader, in this case the poltroon Chuck Schumer, to effectively end a filibuster and mandate a vote.  Of course, as things stand the two voting rights bills would not pass, but what would happen if every senator had to vote on the record and then go back to his constituents and tell them why he or she wasn't in favor of voting rights protection.  All of the no voters would have to explain what they were afraid of, and when it comes to allowing the most people to vote, they'd need a lot of casuistry to prevail, not to mention self-disinterest among their constituents who to a man and woman benefit from democracy.  So Chuck, be a mensch.  Do it.

Your friend,

Mike  

P.S.: Last night, Schumer did just that, but he couldn't get the 51 votes, including that of the vice president, necessary to pass it.  There are 49 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two independents, both of whom caucus with the Democrats in The Senate, and two of the Democrats, Sinema and Manchin, voted against Schumer's motion.  Both Sinema and Manchin aren't up for reelection until 2024, but already there have been rescissions of support for Sinema from organizations that pursue liberal causes, and increasing numbers of Democrats are supporting primary challenges against the two Democratic apostates in earnest.  We're back to Old Joe.

It is now up to President Biden to vigorously muster whatever opposition to Sinema and Manchin that he can to assure their electoral defeats.  It's time to take a page from Trump's book and mobilize from the "bully pulpit" what popularity he still has to defeat those two "PWIC", that is Principled When It's Convenient, Democrats, and get the party as a whole back on the good books of many who have yielded to the conclusion that the Democratic Party is weak in its commitment to principle.  The 2022 and 2024 elections hang in the balance.  The issue is voting rights, and there can be no party loyalty on that score.  Every politician's loyalty should be to democracy, not to the self-protective ways of a bunch of senators who want to pretend that their opposition to voting rights guarantees through use of the pseudo-filibuster is a genuine function of the gentlemanly decorum facade they want to continue to feign.  




Dear America,

Over the course of the pendency of the two voting rights bills in The Senate, the Republicans have unanimously stanched the Democratic effort to ensure the ability of vote to all Americans, and now, their eristic-in-chief, Mitch McConnell, has doubled down on that partisan stance with nothing but the lame excuse that the Democrats are contemplating passing the bills without them.  They have engaged in the technical equivalent of a filibuster to keep the bill from even being debated because they don't want to admit publicly that they fear a surge of Democrat votes if the polls become more accessible than the state legislators who passed anti-access bills are preventing them from being.  What other reason could there be for their refusal to even publicly utter their objections to the bills, senator by senator, for all their constituents to hear.  If they had good reasons, they would be glad to utter them on the evening news, don't you think?  After all, they utter captious partisan absurdity with alacrity; if they had something meritorious to say, they would surely be glad to say it to the nation.  But the coup de grĂ¢ce was the iteration by Biden and others that there are 16 senators in the Senate today who voted for the reauthorization of the voting rights act in 2006, as did all other Republicans.  Yet today, they are unwilling to step over party lines to admit that they favor enhanced democracy over partisan megalomania, including those 16 who voted for it more than fifteen years ago.  

The point is that any balderdash about a failure by the Democrats to work with Republicans...to practice bipartisanship...is an overt, abjectly immoral, transparent deviation from the truth.  The Democrats have invited discussion and a vote on the floor of the Senate and the Republicans have not only opted to eschew the opportunity to express objections to the elements of the current iteration of the old voting rights bill, which was gutted by a conservative Supreme Court, they have interdicted the efforts of the Democrats to debate the bills and cast votes on them as well.  It is obvious that they have a motive other than to vindicate bipartisanship or to maintain senate tradition by leaving the filibuster unaltered.  It is notable that there are dozens of exceptions to the filibuster rule already amending the filibuster.  One more, especially one that protects voters' right to vote and access to the polls is more important and indubitably virtuous than any of the rest.  It is fundamental to our governance and thus to our way of life and ethos.

I don't want to belabor the issue any further, but I do want to say this.  This is not some ad hominem political rant.  This is a direction of attention to the true purposes of our two major political parties.  One, the Democrats, wants to ensure that as many legitimate votes as possible get passed.  The other, the Republicans, want to avoid that.  So when you go to the polls this November, and especially in 2024, remember who is on your side.

Your friend,

Mike


Dear America,

Yesterday, Mitch McConnell characterized President Biden's demand for passage of two voting rights bills as "a rant."  And I have to say that I was glad to hear it.  For once a prominent Democrat could be heard over the Republican hypocrisy that flows like the Mississippi through our country.  The President even said during his speech that he was tired of being quiet, so the characterization of his plaints by the main object of them as a rant was a gratifying relief from the constant drone of subdued conservative dissemblance and outright deceit in which the Republican Party indulges constantly.  On the other hand, notably missing from McConnell's speech on the senate floor with its feigned southern gentleman's tone was any rational excuse for his party's refusal to even debate two bills that secure the rights of voters nationwide.  Of course, there's not much he could have said without admitting that Republicans are not in favor of universal suffrage.  After all, how can there be too many guarantees of the right to vote or for that matter, too many measures meant to make it easier to do so?  How could McConnell have defended such a position without exposing the fact that his claims that voting is a states' rights issue rather than an underpinning of democracy in this country is nothing but subterfuge.  At last, we are hearing a loud voice from a prominent Democrat, and in the past week we have heard it twice in Biden's two speeches on the subject of the voting rights bills.

McConnell's demurely delivered, audaciously preposterous claim that it was his ox that had been gored...that our president had reneged on his commitment to bi-partisanship...was palpably absurd after what he and his party did to the Supreme Court in consortium with our previous miscreant of a president, Donald Trump.  After pretending that the voters should choose who fills the next vacancy on that court because the end of the Obama administration was imminent, McConnell and his party refused to even meet with Merrick Garland, Obama's candidate for the seat Scalia's death opened, a whole year before the 2016 election.  But they put a justice on the court within the last couple of months of the Trump administration, in fact less than two weeks before the 2020 election loss of their depraved candidate without compunction or even acknowledgment of the principle by which they had denied Garland his place on the bench.  And all three Trump justices were confirmed along party lines.  None of that was not bipartisan.  And then there's the "Build Back Better" bill.  The Republicans have taken a univocal silent stand against the bill, presumably because they believe that if the Democrats do this for the people they will win in November at least, and in 2024 possibly as well.  But they shed crocodile tears over the death of bi-partisanship purportedly at the Democrats' hands because the Democrats presume to try to guaranty sovereignty to all of the American people, not just the ones the Republicans want to have vote.

When I hear McConnell say these things, I always wonder how he has the gall to say them with his bare face hanging out.  I've always thought of people who can do such things as pathological, and maybe he is.  After all, he was Trump's enabler until the January 6th last straw turned McConnell away from blatant partisan loyalty and toward the welfare of the nation in its stead.  But that one moment of Republican apostasy doesn't make him sane, and the overtly dishonest puling he is doing now certainly suggests pathology to me.  I mean, how can he stand there and say that the other side is doing something bad when everybody saw him do far worse on the television news week after week in the recent past.  Is he so deluded as to think that no one noticed?  The Republican Party, the "conservative" wing of it at least, will do anything to get their way since they are in the electoral minority and have been for much of the last thirty years, and they can't achieve it in any legitimate way.  But even they must blanch at McConnell's naked deviations from the truth.  Albeit Kentucky has sent two such senators to Washington, Rand Paul the other, to join two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both being of McConnell's ilk, every other state, I would think, would crave some integrity in their candidates, so all of their prevarications, McConnell's in particular, can't possibly serve his party's political interests...can they?

Well, it's going to be several months until we know about the state of the nation when it comes to our electorate's position on truth.  I'm sure that all of you, America have noticed that to some of us, falsehood is not just acceptable, it's a source of pride like Trump's self-professed satisfaction over getting away with cheating on his taxes; he's actually said in public that it just means he's smart.  Let's just hope that President Biden stays loud.  Maybe then the majority of the American people will show how smart they are.

Your friend,

Mike

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