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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 09:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,610

About Me

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

Journal Archives

Democratic lawmakers blast Supreme Court commission for 'both-sidesing' court politicization

Yeah, there's a one-sided politicization problem on this court.
Democratic lawmakers blast Supreme Court commission for 'both-sidesing' court politicization

Four congressional Democrats wrote a scathing letter to President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court reform commission this week, calling out the commission’s failure to address or even examine the degree to which dark money groups with well-funded lobbying campaigns have influenced the court, both in terms of the justices appointed and their decisions.

In the letter, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, and Georgia Representative Hank Johnson remind the commission that they’ve already called this issue out: “We wrote to you earlier this year to emphasize that the issues your Commission is tasked to consider cannot be addressed without grappling with pressing judicial ethics concerns, including the role of secretive special-interest influence in and around the Court.” The commission released its first discussion drafts last month, showing that it was failing to address some of the Court’s fundamental problems—like the politicization of the court through groups like the Federalist Society—and downplaying others.


The lawmakers also strike at the core of the commissions’ failings, it’s insistence on “both-sidesing” the politicization of the court. “This view that ‘both sides’ are equally to blame for the politicization of the Court, and the implicit assumption that members of the Court are themselves insulated and apart from this politicization, is an unproven proposition,” they wrote.

“In the face of overwhelming evidence that the Court has been captured by partisan donor interests, it is wrong to perpetuate the fiction that it has not been,” the lawmakers write. “By grounding its draft report foremost in the concern that the public must perceive the Court to be legitimate and independent, the Commission fails to consider the very real and much more dangerous possibility that it might not be.”

The updated draft of the commission, released ahead of a Friday public meeting, shows that the commission is still not dealing with that fundamental challenge of this court. That’s not too surprising—the commission includes a few staunchly anti-abortion lawyers and Federalist Society members.


The impeachment of President Biden and other American nightmares coming in 2023

The impeachment of President Biden and other American nightmares coming in 2023 | Will Bunch
With polls, gerrymandering making a GOP House all but inevitable in 2023, Americans need to ponder a year that could tear the nation apart.

Imagine this: It’s a gray, chilly day in Washington, D.C., in March of 2023. A handful of protesters from left-leaning groups like Indivisible are huddled outside against the icy Potomac winds, but mostly there’s a climate of disbelief in the nation’s capitol as the GOP-dominated House of Representatives wraps up debate over the impeachment of Josephy Robinette Biden Jr., 46th president of the United States.


This is America’s immediate future, and yet — with all the sometimes ridiculous inside-the-Beltway speculation about less urgent and less likely matters like whether Democrats ditch Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — it’s clear that neither the press, the public, nor the political classes are truly ready for the year that is going to shake American democracy to its core: 2023.

A couple of developments this week brought the collision course that looms a little more than a year from now into sharper focus. On Capitol Hill, the bitterly partisan fight over Wednesday’s censure of Republican right-wing zealot Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona — who’d tweeted a cartoon video of him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — revealed the depths of the GOP’s obsession with political revenge if and when the party retakes control of Congress. Said McCarthy, currently the minority leader: “What they [Democrats] have started cannot be easily undone."


If anything, what Republicans are willing to do with Trump out of power could ultimately prove an even greater threat to democracy than actually having the authoritarian-yet-inept Trump in the White House. Democrats need to begin sounding this alarm today — that voters who turned out in near-record numbers in 2020 to defeat the culture of Trumpism need to defy history and show up next November, to prevent something even worse. Yes, today’s electorate is tired of chaos, but they should wait until 2023 — because they ain’t seen nothing yet.

planning contingencies for a constitutional crisis and how to remove the president


Reuters unmasks Trump supporters who terrified U.S. election officials

Reuters unmasks Trump supporters who terrified U.S. election officials
Law enforcement has taken little action as backers of Donald Trump aim stark threats at election officials. Reuters tracked down nine of the harassers. Most were unrepentant.

This story contains text, images and audio clips with offensive language.

In Arizona, a stay-at-home dad and part-time Lyft driver told the state’s chief election officer she would hang for treason. In Utah, a youth treatment center staffer warned Colorado’s election chief that he knew where she lived and watched her as she slept.

In Vermont, a man who says he works in construction told workers at the state election office and at Dominion Voting Systems that they were about to die.

“This might be a good time to put a f‑‑‑‑‑‑ pistol in your f‑‑‑‑‑‑ mouth and pull the trigger,” the man shouted at Vermont officials in a thick New England accent last December. “Your days are f‑‑‑‑‑‑ numbered.”

The three had much in common. All described themselves as patriots fighting a conspiracy that robbed Donald Trump of the 2020 election. They are regular consumers of far-right websites that embrace Trump’s stolen-election falsehoods. And none have been charged with a crime by the law enforcement agencies alerted to their threats.


No Time to Lose: Why Democrats Should Include Voting Rights In Their Build Back Better Compromise

No Time to Lose: Why Democrats Should Include Voting Rights In Their Build Back Better Compromise


Nothing is more important to the future of the republic and to the future of the Democratic party than voting legislation.

This is increasingly clear to many across the political spectrum (it is equally clear that the fate of the republic is now indissolubly linked to the fate of the Democrats, for the Republican party has become an anti-system party in thrall to Trump). Last week’s “Open Letter in Defense of Democracy” is one sign of this.

And it is quite astonishing that there seems to have been no public discussion of the most obvious way for Democrats to move beyond the current stasis—for the compromise about Build Back Better to actually be linked to voting legislation.

It’s simple. Why can’t Progressive Democrats get with Congressional leadership, and with the White House, and then announce a proposal tailor-made for Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema:

They will agree to support the much-scaled back, $1.75 Build Back Better plan, and to vote to pass the “Bipartisan” Infrastructure Bill immediately, in exchange for immediate passage of the Freedom to Vote Act engineered by none other than Joe Manchin.


The Democrats need some such compromise in order to avoid disaster at the polls in the next few election cycles. If Democrats can build their majority, then they can live to fight another day among themselves about the more ambitious policy agenda that the country needs, that Biden promised, but that, alas, he simply cannot now deliver.

If Democrats do not act now, on voting rights, then the party, and the republic itself, will be in grave danger.

The fate of social policy is inextricably tied to the fate of democracy.

It’s time to state this clearly, and to act on it, by linking the two matters to craft a legislative compromise.

There is no time to lose.

A note to Joe Manchin

A note to Joe Manchin
Joe, you know what you must do on voting rights. But will you?

Okay, Joe. Enough evidence for you? The two major voting rights bills that you support — the Freedom to Vote Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — have now been blocked in the Senate by Republican filibusters.

Of course you know that federal voting rights legislation is necessary to counteract the wave of new voting restrictions from Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country, all premised on Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

Yesterday, Senate Republicans blocked the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which you support. The original 1965 Voting Rights Act was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013, on the dubious logic that it was no longer needed because states with a history of suppressing Black votes no longer did so. (Within 24 hours of the ruling, Texas announced it would implement a strict photo ID law, and Mississippi and Alabama soon followed.)


On October 20, Senate Republicans blocked the Freedom to Vote Act, which you helped craft as a compromise bill. You had hoped to get ten GOP votes, enough to overcome a filibuster. But in the end not a single senate Republican voted to advance the legislation. The Freedom to Vote Act would set national minimum standards for early voting and voting by mail, create new requirements for groups not currently required to disclose their financial donors, and establish Election Day as a national holiday, among other things. It also included standards for states that require voter identification, something you said was your priority.


Joe, you know as well as I do that the deck was stacked even before the post-Trump deluge of state voter-suppression laws. Registered Republicans make up only about 25 percent of the American electorate. But rural and mostly white Republican states like Wyoming (with 574,000 inhabitants) get two senators just as do diverse urban ones like California (with nearly 40 million). And Republican states have gerrymandered districts that elect House members to give them an estimated 19 extra seats over what they’d have without gerrymandering.

So without you, Joe, voting rights are dead. Without you, history will show that Republican senators were more united in their opposition to voting rights than Democratic senators were in their support of them. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, do you Joe?

Joe! Please! The future of our democracy is at stake.

Does Mundane, Democratic Small Ball Make Sense Against War-like Trumpian Nullification?

Does Mundane, Democratic Small Ball Make Sense Against War-like Trumpian Nullification?


We need a wartime president. Instead, we have a well-meaning, professional, Nice Guy Negotiator (like Obama) who trusts that reasonable, politics as usual will work against lying, bad-faith foes. As FDR may have quipped, when friends pressured him to fight discrimination, “Now go out and make me do it.” In effect, create such public pressure you force presidential boldness – not bad advice today.

Dumb, deluded and impenetrable, Trump’s rugged individualism, geared for warfare, lacked FDR’s discretion, worshiped gut instincts, and fell on his face. FDR understood in our system the power of majority leverage. But FDR believed in the sovereignty of the people, that certified elections matter and only the seditious dishonor the democratic choice.

So today there’s pounding on the leaky roof, water soaking the furniture, and the response so far is to hunt up half-gallon buckets? How about “systemic reforms,” at least flashing wartime emergency lights? That ain’t Santa Claus on the roof, wielding his ax but the orange ghost of Christmas past bemoaning elections done and gone. Trump works hard to spur his sideline battle, mainly for fundraising, but for him and his base he remains at war, nameless, noxious enemies out to do him in.

All things being equal (which they never are), Biden is hardly the worst Democrat, and even with improbable GA senate wins faces an uphill grind. But whether pushing progressive or moderate legislation, he has not learned what FDR (and the Godfather movie) knew: when you face unprincipled vicious opponents who’ll do anything to win (laws and rules are loose feathers), the successful match power with power, recognize the siege and orchestrate full-throated responses. That means rejecting the filibuster, twisting arms, adding Supreme Court judges, reducing student debt, pushing family support hard, and reforming immigration.


Declare the need for judicial speed

Democrats should apply maximum pressure to accelerate prosecutorial decision-making about indictments of law-breaking, across the spectrum of misconduct. Americans must know who honors the law and who holds it in contempt – another non-negotiable issue.


Deficit shrinks in the first year of Joe Biden's presidency

Defncit shrinks in the first year of Joe Biden's presidency
When it comes to the deficit, we've endured a consistent pattern for four decades. As the deficit shrinks in the Biden era, the pattern remains intact.

It starts with a Republican presidential candidate denouncing the deficit and vowing to balance the budget if elected. That Republican then takes office, abandons interest in the issue, and expresses indifference when the deficit becomes vastly larger. Then a Democrat takes office, at which point GOP lawmakers who didn't care at all about the deficit suddenly decide it's a critical issue that the new center-left president must immediately prioritize.

During the Democratic administration, the deficit invariably shrinks — a development Republicans tend to ignore — at which point the entire cycle starts over with a new round of national GOP candidates denouncing the deficit and vowing to balance the budget if elected.


That was plainly true. The White House and congressional Republicans swore up and down in late 2017 that they could slash taxes for the wealthy and big corporations without increasing the deficit because, as they repeatedly insisted, "tax cuts pay for themselves." We didn't need additional evidence that their ridiculous belief was, and is, wrong, but the evidence soon followed anyway.

And then, of course, the pandemic hit, at which point the deficit reached record levels.

The latest data shows the deficit shrinking once more, just in time for GOP officials and candidates to start pretending to care about the issue again.

Why journalists are failing the public with 'both-siderism' in political coverage

Why journalists are failing the public with ‘both-siderism’ in political coverage

American politics has changed dramatically since my post-Watergate generation of journalists began covering the story. Political journalism hasn’t kept up.

For years it was easy to cover “both sides” — Republicans and Democrats — as equally worthy, and blameworthy, partners in democracy. While we reporters had come of age as witnesses to the unprecedented resignation of a Republican president who’d tried to corrupt the institutions of government to affect an election — imagine! — what remained was a Republican Party still capable of a creditable role in a healthy two-party system. After all, Richard M. Nixon was forced to resign when congressional leaders of his party began abandoning him. Again, imagine that, Kevin McCarthy.

Now, when reporters or pundits use the words “both sides” in regard to some political problem, I stop reading or listening.

I started to chafe at false equivalence a quarter-century ago, as a congressional reporter amid Newt Gingrich’s Republican revolution. One party — his — was demonstrably more responsible for the nasty divisiveness, government gridlock and norm-busting, yet journalistic pressure to produce seemingly “balanced” stories — pressure both ingrained and imposed by editors — prevented reporters from sufficiently reflecting the new truth.

By 2012, as President Obama dealt with the willful obstructionists, conspiracists and racists of an increasingly radicalized Republican Party, political scientists and long-respected Washington watchers Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein put the onus for the dysfunction squarely on the GOP in their provocative book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks.” Significantly, they implicated journalists: “A balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon is a distortion of reality and a disservice to your consumers.”


Democrats can’t be expected to deal with these guys like they’re on the level. Nor should journalists cover them as if they are.

I read an article in the NYT this morning...

authored by a bunch of so called "moderate repubs" about joining forces with conservative Democrats to vote to keep the Q's from winning Congress back in the midterms. They say they want to protect the country from extremists in both parties. To me it's classic bothsiderism, there is no comparison between the wingnuts on the right and our progressive lawmakers. To top it off they say they respect and admire McTurtle. That was it for me, they can't be be taken seriously if that is what they want to end up going back to.

And then I saw Christie Whitman on Air Melber's show and she spewed the same bothsiderism talking points. So before we join with the people that brought us this madness we better be sure what we would be getting into.
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