Wisconsin’s Voter-ID Law Suppressed Votes? – A Misleading Account

The Nation published a story yesterday by Ari Berman with the headline “Wisconsin’s Voter-ID Law Suppressed 200,000 Votes in 2016 (Trump Won by 22,478).”  Here’s a definitive statement that 200,000 votes were in fact suppressed by Wisconsin’s Voter-ID law.  And a blunt inference that, but for this suppression, Trump would not have won in Wisconsin.  The problem with Mr. Berman’s headline is simple.  It is not supported by the facts.  It is yet another example of a media outlet misleading its readers.  And an example of a failure of a published reporter to demand of himself accuracy in his reporting.  Shame, shame, shame. Continue reading “Wisconsin’s Voter-ID Law Suppressed Votes? – A Misleading Account”

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Tyranny of the Majority on Campus – An Assault on Free Speech

A dangerous and continuing assault on free speech is growing on our campuses and across our society.  It is a threatening wave of illiberalism. Tocqueville long ago warned that a tyranny of the majority was the principle danger inherent in any democracy.  Majority despotism could overwhelm public discourse, ultimately leading to the danger of a restructured and intolerant government.  This despotism, he observed, is rooted within the majority’s values and mores, and pose the greatest threat to liberty.

Tocqueville’s concerns are in full display today at Middlebury College, Berkeley, Auburn and other universities.  Protesters at each institution suppressed the expression of political views seen as opposed to their own.  These protesters claim their actions are justified because these views offended their sense of social and personal acceptability.  And further, they completely silenced these voices before words were ever uttered, deploying uncivilized tactics.  In turn, each of these institutions were willing accomplices to the speech suppression.  Each was unwilling to create and protect an environment of full and free political speech, a base necessity for any institution of higher learning in the United States. Continue reading “Tyranny of the Majority on Campus – An Assault on Free Speech”

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Death of the Filibuster – Brought to You By Our Principled U.S. Senators

The death of the filibuster is at hand, at least for Supreme Court nominations.  But slaying of the filibuster dragon requires a whole bunch of U.S. Senators to raise their hands on the Senate floor and proclaim for all to hear, “I am a hypocrite.”  You’ll see why below.

This hypocrites hall of fame list includes each and every Senator, as it turns out, who has said they will filibuster the Gorsuch nomination.  But before we put our Scarlet Letter around the necks of each of those likely luminaries, let’s pay homage to the scant few who stand for some principle. Any principle.  To the few who understand that the business of the United States requires accommodation, compromise, and respect in order to move forward the business of the people, if only in small steps. So who populates that list?

Hat’s Off List

First and foremost, a large tip of the hat to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.  Sure, he’s up for re-election in a State President Trump won by over 40 percentage points.  And yes President Trump made his big political move to support coal the other day.  Manchin may have his own personal political reasons for refusing to filibuster – can you say, political survival? But supporting a vote on the nominee is still supporting a vote, so a large tip of the old visor to Senator Manchin.

Second, a small tip of the hat to the Senate’s most senior Democrat, Vermont’s Pat Leahy, who said he’s “not inclined to filibuster” the nomination.  But that “inclination” was not a final decision, even for the allegedly-principled Leahy: “I am never inclined to filibuster a [Supreme Court nominee].  But I need to see how Judge Gorsuch answers my written Qs, under oath, before deciding.”  Leahy is the former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.  Having presided over two Supreme Court nominations by President Obama, he should know better.

Death of the filibuster

 Death of the Filibuster – The Hypocrites List

This list is a bit longer.  Actually, a lot longer.  So sorry, but we just report the facts, we don’t make them.  The death of the filibuster is no easy matter.  But we’ll start at the top and work our way down:

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer

The first rule for the Senator in the leadership position is to – lead.  It looks like our Minority Leader also leads our hypocrites list.  You be the judge. Here’s the principled Senator, in his own words:

Regarding a vote on the Garland nomination: “Our system of checks and balances requires nine Supreme Court justices.  Playing politics only weakens our democracy.  The Senate’s job is to hold hearings and vote on nominees.  The Senate has a responsibility to give advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees and stop playing judicial politics.”

Not one to play politics with this advice and consent responsibility, here’s New York’s senior Senator now:

Regarding a vote on the Gorsuch nomination: “I say if this nominee cannot earn 60 votes – a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees and George Bush’s last two nominees – the answer isn’t to change the rules.  It’s to change the nominee.”

Editor’s Note: Excuse us, Senator Schumer, but could you point us to the Constitutional provision requiring 60 affirmative votes in the Senate for confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee.  We know there are a couple of Constitutionally-mandated Senate super-majority vote necessities – treaties and impeachment come to mind – but we don’t recall the one regarding the Supreme Court.

Other Nationally Prominent Senators

The light will shine on whomever it must.  Try to find the guiding principal behind the advice and consent philosophies of these leading Senators:

Bernie Sanders, Vermont, and former Presidential candidate

Regarding a vote on the Garland nomination:  “I call on . . . Leader McConnell to bring the [Garland] nomination to floor of the Senate if Judge Garland is approved by the Judiciary Committee.”

Regarding a vote on the Gorsuch nomination: “I will not support Republican efforts to change the rules to choke off debate and ram the nomination through the Senate.”  He supports the filibuster.

Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts

Regarding a vote on the Garland nomination:  The Senator’s tweet – “Heading to the Senate floor now to tell the @SenateGOP:#DoYourJob and give judicial nominees a vote.”

Regarding a vote on the Gorsuch nomination: “I believe Judge Gorsuch’s nomination should be blocked.”

Dick Durbin, Illinois, and Senate Minority Whip

Regarding a vote on the Garland nomination:  “There’s no excuse for the Senate to ignore its constitutional responsibility – time to give Judge Garland a public hearing and a vote.”

Regarding a vote on the Gorsuch nomination: “I just announced that I’ll be voting against Gorsuch and for the filibuster – basically require 60 votes.”

Editor’s Comment:  Another leading light pointing somewhere into the ether to find that Constitutional 60-vote requirement. Keep looking, Senator.

Tim Kaine, Virginia

The former Vice Presidential candidate’s views:

Regarding a vote on the Garland nomination:  The Senator’s tweet – “Senate has an obligation and consitutional duty to advise and consent on the President’s [Supreme Court] nomination.  It’s part of the job description.”

Regarding a vote on the Gorsuch nomination: “The way I look at it is the Supreme Court is the only position that requires you to get to a 6o-vote threshold, which means it mandates that there be some bipartisanship and that is appropriate.  Life tenure.  Highest court in the land.  Should have to get to 60 votes.”

Editor’s Note: As we observed, there is no 60-vote threshold.  The Senator is incorrect.  He was referring to the Senate’s filibuster-debate cloture rule.  As to “bipartisanship”, he couldn’t be more wrong.  Supreme Court advise and consent should involve no partisanship at all.  In theory (and in today’s world, that’s all we have left) the nominee should be considered on the merits, and that’s it.

Cory Booker, New Jersey, Talked-About 2020 Presidential Candidate

Regarding a vote on the Garland nomination:  He tweeted “No Dem consoled Congress denied hearings or a vote.  This shouldn’t be about partisanship but about doing their job.”

Editor’s Comment: No, Democrats would never deny a vote, Senator Booker, of course not.  And you are right – this shouldn’t be about partisanship.

Regarding a vote on the Gorsuch nomination: “I’m going to oppose Judge Gorsuch every step of the way.  A 60-vote threshold is not something new for Supreme Court nominees to overcome.  It helps ensure that presidents seek nominees whose views are in the mainstream.”

Editor’s Comment: No, Senator, the 60-vote threshold for confirmation is something new.  And we all know that “mainstream” is the code-word for “people who share my political views.”  Yes, that’s certainly not partisan.

Others

So we grew tired of publishing a full compilation.  But here’s the current list of other Senators who will filibuster a floor vote on Judge Gorsuch. And in each case, they took the opposite view regarding Judge Garland.

  1. Patty Murray, Washington
  2. Tom Carper, Delaware
  3. Bill Nelson, Florida
  4. Ron Wyden, Oregon
  5. Al Franken, Minnesota
  6. Ed Markey, Massachusetts
  7. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland
  8. Martin Heinrich, New Mexico
  9. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
  10. Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire
  11. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire
  12. Gary Peters, Minnesota
  13. Debbit Stabenow, Michigan
  14. Kamal Harris, California
  15. Chris Murphy, Connecticut
  16. Jack Reed, Rhode Island
  17. Mazia Hirono, Hawaii
  18. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island
  19. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin
  20. Jeff Merkley, Oregon
  21. Bob Casey, Pennsylvania
  22. Tom Udall, New Mexico

Death of the Filibuster – The Principle

So we’re headed to the death of the filibuster.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?   Some claim its death gives us more democracy.  Others fear it just grants a small majority further, and enduring, control over the lives of the minority.  A fair debate.

But it’s a list of principled men and women, yes indeed, who walk the Senate’s hallowed halls.  They bring us the death of the filibuster. Not because it is right or wrong to do so.  But because they are pure partisans, through and through.

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Glorious Time to Be Russian – Free Speech in the Moscow Springtime

What a glorious time to be Russian.  Governed by a constitution that provides “freedom of ideas and speech” for everyone.1  And other wonderful freedoms, including a “freedom of conscience” and a “freedom of religion.”  A Russian can’t “be forced to express his views and convictions or to reject them.”  Thank God “censorship shall be banned.” A Russian “shall have the right to association” and “the freedom of activity of public association shall be guaranteed.”  In fact “fundamental human rights and freedoms are inalienable and shall be enjoyed by everyone.”  Yes, it’s a glorious time in Russia!

Oh sure, there’s the little matter that “the propaganda or agitation instigating social, racial, national or religious hatred and strife shall not be allowed.”  Not to worry if a few of these terms aren’t defined.  Actually, none of them are.  But we Russians have a long history of trusting our leaders.  We’re quite sure our freedom of speech and right to public association won’t be impaired by these couple of undefined tawdry little words.  And yes, we know that our exercise of “the rights and freedoms of man and citizen shall not violate the rights and freedoms of other people.” But in government we trust. Continue reading “Glorious Time to Be Russian – Free Speech in the Moscow Springtime”

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Republicans Beware! There’s a Russian Political Witch Hunt and You’re It.

McCarthyism is not dead.  Now it’s called the Putin-scare.  Republicans beware.  If any of you spoke with a representative of Putin’s government at any time during or since the presidential election cycle, you’d better tell us now. We will find out anyway.  And in either case, we know you and Putin are coordinating efforts to undermine our government.  You’re a Putin lackey even if you just thought about meeting with anyone who was ever associated with the Russian government.  Because we’ll find that out too. If you can just point to Russia on the map, well that’s enough; turn yourself in.  Anyone wearing red – we know what that means.  Reds fans, and we don’t mean from Cincinnati, will all wind up on the gallows.  We’ll be photographing anyone attending Red Sox opening day, too.

We’re gonna convene hearings.  Lots and lots of hearings.  And it’s going to go on for at least the next four years; maybe eight if that red party is still in the White House.  We’ll be on every corner and in every alley.  You know we are recording every conversation everywhere in the country. We’ve got a program for that too.

Republicans Beware!

Republicans beware!  We’re better at this than you think.  We’ve gotten rid of Flynn.  Boy was that easy!  We’ve got Sessions out of the way.  All we had to do there was check his appointments log.  That was easy too.  That Sessions, he’s not too bright.  Imagine, a brief conversation with the Russian ambassador after leaving a podium.  Yes, perhaps there were a few other ambassadors around, and Sessions may have spoken with them too.  But that doesn’t matter!  He spoke to that Russian in public, of all things.  God only know where this trail leads!

Republicans Beware
Russian Ambassador (spy!) Kislyak

Yes, we know that the Washington Post is telling us that this Russian ambassador “shows up everywhere and tries to talk to everyone.”  We know that’s what diplomats do.  But this guys a spy!  Why the heck would the Post tell us that this Ambassador Kislyak “is not considered especially close to Russian President Vladimir Putin”?  That’s really not helpful, you know.  The Post wouldn’t even stop there.  They brought up the old “current and former U.S. officials” telling us stuff, that “[f]or Kislyak to have sought contacts with . . . Flynn and . . . Sessions . . .should come as no surprise.”  Memo to the Post – please stop printing that kind of stuff!

And it would be better if ex-Obama people like Michael McFaul wouldn’t make comments like this: “[The Russian Ambassador] doesn’t get as much credit as he should, in my view, for being savvy about developing relationships with people all over [Washington].”  Geez, McFaul was Obama’s guy in Russia.  Somebody better tell him, no more interviews until we’re finished.

McFaul, pay attention.  We need more guys out there like Obama’s ex-CIA director John McLaughlin.  He got the memo.  Take a listen to his comment that “it does strain credibility” that Sessions could’ve forgotten meeting with Kislyak.  After all, Kislyak is “a hard guy to forget if you’ve met him.”  Now that’s more like it!

Republicans beware!  Better fess up now, you Russian sympathizers.  Turn in your Senate keys.  Turn in your Congressional keys.  And most certainly turn in your White House keys.  We’re gonna get all of you.  And don’t forget.  We are everywhere.  We’re trolling every website and every blog . . .

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Defense of Free Thought in the Face of Illiberalism – The Pillars of Free Thought

We live in interesting times.  They are times of uncertainty and danger. They are times that threaten our core principles of freedom and the fabric of our society.  It is time to make a defense of free thought.

Illiberalism and a Defense of Free Thought

A growing tide of illiberalism surrounds us from both sides of the political spectrum.  An illiberalism that burns in our hearts, that forces us further apart. An illiberalism that seers our conscience and spreads through our communities.  Some on the right lead it.  They promote social inequalities and class vitriol that threaten the left.  Some on the left also lead it. They repudiate tolerance and free expression and seek to muzzle and silence those with whom they disagree. Both sides seek to use government – force – to impose their views on others.  Both are unwilling to lay down their arms and compete in the open marketplace of ideas. Continue reading “Defense of Free Thought in the Face of Illiberalism – The Pillars of Free Thought”

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Impeach President Trump, So Says Congresswoman Waters – But There’s the Constitution…

That didn’t take long. It’s time to impeach President Trump.  So says California Congresswoman Maxine Waters.  She is ready for articles of impeachment barely three weeks into his presidency.  Now we may or may not be fans of the President.  Staying faithful to the rules of our blog, we take no side on this one.  At least not yet.  But Congresswoman Waters does a disservice to herself, her constituents, and the country, with talk of impeachment.  There is no constitutional basis for it.  The Congresswoman would do well to bury herself in the constitution that she took an oath to uphold.

Impeach President Trump
Maxine Waters

So we will take a look at the impeachable offenses, according to Congresswoman Waters.  We see four possible counts, according to the Congresswoman.  And we also turn to the Constitution, and history, for a little guidance on what’s required to impeach a president.  Is Ms. Waters right? It is already time to impeach President Trump?

Continue reading “Impeach President Trump, So Says Congresswoman Waters – But There’s the Constitution…”

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More Political Hypocrisy – The Sad Tale of Senator Jeff Merkley

Our campaign against political hypocrisy continues.  This has become a full-time avocation.  The latest sad entry comes from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, one of the key architects of the November, 2013 change to the Senate filibuster rules.  It seems that Senator Merkley, a strong proponent of eliminating the filibuster, has become the filibuster’s greatest champion.  It took less than four years, and a change in the party of the presidency, for this remarkable turnaround.  It’s another example of why faith in our political leaders is at an all-time low.  When will anyone – anyone – stand up on consistent principles?  It’s more political hypocrisy.

The principled Senator Merkley has a deep and enduring respect for his Constitutional responsibilities.  So, according to Senator Merkley, should the filibuster be available to the minority side in the Senate?  Well of course not – except when “we” are the minority.  All of which somehow allows him to claim the moral high ground when it comes to U.S. Supreme Court nominations.  Is there more political hypocrisy here?  You be the judge. Continue reading “More Political Hypocrisy – The Sad Tale of Senator Jeff Merkley”

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The Decline of Ethics in Journalism – The Huffington Post and Trump’s Immigration Order

Will the sad decline of ethics in journalism ever end?  There’s no mystery why the public doesn’t trust the media.  It didn’t used to be this way. Journalists focus less on reporting facts and more on drawing attention. They frequently distort or omit relevant information.   Sometimes, they use more indirect means to mislead, such as applying inaccurate labels to facts, or using inappropriate words to create false inferences or connotations.  Truth and accuracy are sacrificed to sensationalism.  They are victims of the competitive push for eyeballs and profits.

The Decline of Ethics in Journalism – The Trump Order on Immigration

Which brings us to the Huffington Post.  On January 25, 2017 they published an article entitled “Read Draft Text Of Trump’s Executive Order Limiting Muslim Entry to The U.S. (EXCLUSIVE).”  Now, that headline really got our attention.  For one, it sure sounds like President Trump actually went ahead and limited Muslim entry into the U.S.  We’ve got to read about that!  The headline also emphasizes the word “exclusive” in bold print.  The article must contain unique information that we really need to read because we won’t find it elsewhere. Continue reading “The Decline of Ethics in Journalism – The Huffington Post and Trump’s Immigration Order”

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Was The Election Result Illegitimate? More Political Hypocrisy

It has been a remarkable, perhaps unprecedented, year in American politics.  Rancor, if not outright fear and hatred, prevails.  Half-truths, mis-truths, name calling and a litany of much worse.  A centerpiece of this blog is that those who would lead can only lead with integrity.  So we have taken up the tasks of identifying and exposing political hypocrisy. We have written about it here and now focus on it again with Donald Trump days away from the Presidency.  The context here is the simple question, was the election result illegitimate?

The Third Presidential Debate and the Threat to Democracy

We recall the famous remark during the third Presidential debate. It sparked furious claims that the foundations of our democracy were being jeopardized.

Election result illegitimate
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Debate

[Chris Wallace]: Will you absolutely accept the results of this election?

[Donald Trump]: I will look at it at the time.

And then came Mrs. Clinton’s equally famous reply:

That is not the way our democracy works.  [The United States has been] around for 240 years.  We’ve had free and fair elections.  We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them.  And that is what must be expected [from a Presidential candidate].

Mr. Trump’s comment was claimed to be monumental.  Some called it “a stunning moment that has never been seen in the weeks before a modern presidential election.”  Mr. Trump’s position was so bad that it “threatens to cast doubt on one of the fundamental principles of American politics – the peaceful, undisputed transfer of power from one president to a successor who is recognized as legitimate after winning an election.”

So here we are after the election and, guess what?  We have a challenge to our democracy – but this time from the losing Democratic side that had not expected to lose. Continue reading “Was The Election Result Illegitimate? More Political Hypocrisy”

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