1st Amendment, Civil Liberties, Democrats, Election, GOP, Politics, Racism, Religion, Tea Party, Violence, Women, WWII

So much hate…

It’s everywhere, and it’s getting worse.

In the last couple of days, really since last week’s worth of Primaries, Caucuses, and debates on both the Red and Blue sides of the aisle, the extreme hate rhetoric has heated up. Some might suggest it’s reaching the boiling point.

I suspect that won’t actually happen until we’re much closer to June because people are still denying that a Trump or Cruz presidency is possible, or that a Clinton or Sanders presidency is possible (depending on your particular brand of wishful thinking).

On my Facebook feed three distinctly different pieces of evidence have popped up that seem to be focusing the hate and ratcheting up the nastiness. The First Amendment, the right to free speech and free assembly, doesn’t belong to specified groups, and yet that’s what this country has become – a nation of echo chambers unable to bear even silent witness to the hatred and vitriol.

I’d call them all parts of the problem, mainly because of the responses each is getting.

First, closest to home, there’s the Fairfax, Virginia mom who reported on her FB wall some hideous information about her son’s classmates. Shaun King’s post on FB was sufficient to stir up horrified comments from friends on my own wall, recognizing how racist adult opinions affected the third graders in this child’s class, but the briefly visible additional vitriol spewed on the mom’s post, claiming it was a lie because it couldn’t happen here or, amazingly, that it was somehow justified. That Shaun King’s own post by nature was wrong because he’s not black. And that’s just the tamer stuff. The mom was smart to change the post back to private, if only to protect herself and her son. These days you can’t be too careful.

Second, there’s Lauren Underwood, the college student who attended a Trump rally and her experience there. (The original FB post is still visible here: https://www.facebook.com/TurnUpTheBass/posts/10206924362926071?fref=nf&pnref=story.) Her treatment, and that of another silent witness, tell everything you need to know about Trump’s not so silent supporters. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has a “Hate Map” on its site. If you check out the locations of those groups, you’ll see an unmistakable correlation with the GOP. These things should come as no surprise. Sadly, there are people who will reject this information because they believe the SPLC are themselves a Hate Group. It’s so easy to project these things onto others today. Just witness the tone-deaf “All Lives Matter” counter-movement to see what I mean.

Then, finally, there’s this image, that’s circulating in connection to Slate’s article on a different Trump rally, in Orlando, Florida, land of the happiest place on Earth. The other two stories are anecdotal. We can only see through the eyes of the women who experienced the pain, but this? This is visceral.

513917024-people-raise-their-arms-as-republican-presidential_1-crop-promo-xlarge2

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

I’ve seen it before. So have you, if you’ve been paying attention.

420px-bundesarchiv_bild_102-124052c_bad_harzburg2c_jubelnde_nsdap-anhc3a4nger

Nazi salute at the Harzburg Front rally in Bad Harzburg, October 1931

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_salute#Sieg_Heil)

It’s no longer funny to call a halt to a conversation about politics by pulling Godwin’s Law. Even Godwin himself says the law no longer applies.

The Silent Majority stands with Trump. Silent. The people who are coming out of the woodwork to vote this year in the Primaries and Caucuses belong, in some part, to these people, many of whom haven’t voted in decades.

Why?

Because this election is for all the marbles and they know it. Not only that, but they’re so solid, so SURE that the Democrats can’t pull this one out, they’re voting in droves to guarantee it. Members of the media are dismissing the effects of this year’s primary votes. All the reports talk about percentages and wins.

The numbers? They don’t lie. I’ve been watching the Primary and Caucus numbers as they’ve rolled in. Adjusted the spreadsheet to include the type of contest. As of last night two states so far (Maine and Nebraska) have had sufficient issues they’re still not certified as 100% on AP’s list of 100% votes counted. Today’s events in Hawaii (Closed Caucus), Idaho (Closed Primary), Michigan and Mississippi (both Open Primaries) will take us closer to the main party conventions.

Based on everything I’ve seen, numbers are way up since 2008 (the last major administration change) and virtually all of the contests have seen an increase in Red voters and a decrease in Blue (though not everywhere). The numbers will become MUCH clearer at the end of March, when over half of the states will have had at least part of their votes counted.

With the disaffection of the Green party and Independent voters because of their high principles, the “Anyone but Hillary” movement is building momentum, driven by the GOTP and their “Swiftboating” tactics, general confusion about the massive differences between Bernie Sanders’ Democratic socialism, Marxism-Leninism (commonly referred to as Communism) and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis), the Silent Majority are dead sure they’re going to win it all this year, and they may well be right.

And if Trump loses, the even more silent Christian Dominionists will win. To be clear, Cruz is no better. In fact, in a lot of ways, he’s much, much worse.

And that, friends, is what has me terrified.

On Sunday, while a chunk of my FB feed was howling with pain because Downton Abbey aired its last episode, CNN aired the latest in a series of Democratic debates. During the debate, Denise Ghattas, an undecided voter, asked, “Senator Sanders, do you believe that God is relevant, why or why not?”

Bernie’s response has finally sparked the conversation I’ve been expecting since he got into the race as a secular Jew. He’s getting it from both sides as a result. Reading the comments, those who think he’s not Jewish enough are questioning his faith and ability, and those who think he’s too Jewish are dismissing his views at the same time they’re dismissing his heritage. Those in the latter category also include Holocaust deniers, well-known for their white supremacist views, and McCarthy-style declarations, it’s quite possible that everyone will be fair game after January, 2017.

If you’re still “anyone but ___” after reading this post, you’re still not clear on the concept. This might be the last election, if the GOP wins. You have the ability to keep them out of the White House.

Share the hell out of any post (including this one) that lays bare history and the reality of the Holocaust. Learn from history or be doomed to repeat it.

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Election, GOP, Politics, Racism, Religion, Tea Party, WWII

And another thing…

I’m going to riff off the post I made earlier on FB, because it summarizes the problem we’re facing today. If you already read my post, feel free to share it. I’m following on from my last post, Connecting the Dots, Part 4, where you’ll find the current stats for the 2016 Primaries and Caucuses.


 

What did the GOP establishment think was going to happen when they kept comparing President Obama to Hitler, told their constituents they ALL had to have guns to protect themselves, that the country is in crisis and only the GOP will save them, and then put up a field of candidates who couldn’t actually deliver?

When the real deal–a pure fascist demagogue–comes along with actual authoritarian values, charismatic appeal to the basest senses of fear and loathing, and stirs up the spoon-fed population of fully armed racists, bigots, misogynists and zealots and tells them he’ll do everything their narrow-minded hearts desire, who are they going to follow?

Make no mistake here: The GOP establishment and their crony capitalist billionaire thugs built this, and they’ve intentionally rigged the system with deceptive voting machines, voter ID laws and outright fraudulent counting practices just to ensure their candidates can’t lose. When Trump sweeps in come November, it will be because of everything WE let them do in the last eight years in service to the government they’ve sworn to destroy.

What they’ve all failed to remember–every last one of them–is what Germany looked like for DECADES. The Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and the final reunification took place in 1992, almost 50 years AFTER the end of World War II in 1945.

Think about that for a while, as you chew on all the rhetoric that says it can’t happen here, that Trump isn’t electable, that somehow Bernie Sanders or Hillary Rodham Clinton will win and we’ll all be okay.

The Right doesn’t recognize fascism because they think it’s a 54 year-old black man from Kenya.

Think about it.


Addendum 1: 

This just crossed my feed. It doesn’t name names or call the question of where ALEC derived, but everything I’ve been saying since 2012 is here. What we’re seeing is the natural progression of decades of hate and manipulation, coalescing around Trump and Cruz (recently compared elsewhere in my feed to Mussolini and Hitler).

They built this.

Vote Libertarian and you suck votes away from the GOP. Vote Green or Socialist and you suck votes away from the Dems. And if, as I suspect, Cruz moves forward and takes the nomination away from Trump, there will rise a third party, that will split the GOP straight down the middle. IF Cruz gets enough support.
Regardless, that is the ONLY WAY this election won’t produce a Republican for the White House. Your choice: Authoritarian Fascist or Christian Theocrat. Which is worse: Concentration camps or the Spanish Inquisition?
Take your pick.
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ALEC, Election, GOP, Politics

Connecting the Dots, Part 4

Authoritarian personality is a state of mind or attitude characterized by belief in absolute obedience or submission to one’s own authority, as well as the administration of that belief through the oppression of one’s subordinates. It usually applies to individuals who are known or viewed as having an authoritative, strict, or oppressive personality towards subordinates.
Authoritarianism is characterized by highly concentrated and centralized power maintained by political repression and the exclusion of potential challengers. It uses political parties and mass organizations to mobilize people around the goals of the regime.[5]Adam Przeworski has theorized that “authoritarian equilibrium rests mainly on lies, fear and economic prosperity”.[6]
–Wikipedia

Okay, y’all. We’re two months into the process now, and the numbers are starting to roll in. Based on what I’m seeing so far, it’s time to start shopping for prime real estate across the border.

See, here’s the thing. I’ve been connecting these dots for a while now. First time, October 23, 2012, I was talking about Romney and his connections to Bain, shady dealings, and backroom politics. Second time, April 6, 2013, it was ALEC and the Tea Party, and how broken the system really was. Third time? November 21, 2015 and fascism.

I’ve been skirting the problem, but I didn’t have all the pieces.

Until tonight.

The following link is to a VERY long article that neatly sums up everything that’s wrong with today’s Republican party, from Trump’s loose cannon popularity to the dysfunction in congress and more.

Worse, it’s a damning illustration of why the current electorate may turn this country on its ear, come November, if Trump wins the nomination, because there’s a near zero chance he won’t have a Tea Party-backed VP to shepherd his moves and keep the conservatives who aren’t quite so enamored of Trump’s behavior in the party line.

The rise of American authoritarianism:

A niche group of political scientists may have uncovered what’s driving Donald Trump’s ascent. What they found has implications that go well beyond 2016.

In the interest of testing a theory, I set out tonight to do some calculations based on the numbers from this year’s primaries and caucuses. The results are cataloged in the spreadsheet below, and in the following table, if you don’t want to deal with the spreadsheet.

Primary and Caucus Statistics for 2016 Presidential Election

What it tells me is that either the Democrats are staying home from the primaries in droves, or something is very VERY wrong with the way the primaries are being handled this year.

Continue reading

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14th Amendment, 5th Amendment, Civil Liberties, Constitution, Patriot Act, Politics

Slippery slope…

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Clearly I’ve struck some nerves recently and folks are beginning to ask for my opinion. That makes me feel less like I’m shouting into the wilderness. Which is good, except that this might be a very short term opportunity to get the point across if the government gets its way with Net Neutrality…But I digress.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think government is great for a lot of things, most notably caring for its citizens and ensuring that we’re treated fairly and safely. Except, well, when we’re not, because we’re not something we should be.

See, here’s the thing: This inconvenient clause in the Constitution that protects us from self-incrimination, the Fifth Amendment (part of the Bill of Rights) is supposed to keep us safe from harm. Combined with the Fourteenth Amendment, which covers equal protection under the law, and we ought to have ways to ensure that we are covered in case another citizen within the reach of government decides we’ve done something wrong.

Some of us have come to expect the safety of due process, and the value of privacy. Unfortunately, others view these same things as hindrances to Truth, Justice and The American Way TM.

We are seeing the argument play out right now, in the public eye, as the FBI exerts pressure on Apple to crack its iPhone privacy code, so that the former can investigate the contents of the iPhone discarded by the San Bernardino shooter whose name remains undisclosed here.

Well, okay, so maybe they have a point. After all, it’s possible the contents of that phone could hold valuable data. Certainly it was used for a variety of things, which the FBI wants to see. Even Bill Gates has some concerns about the issue, though considering the sheer weight of snoop involved in Win10, I’m surprised he was willing to weigh in at all.

The question is, where does it stop?

The FBI says it’s focused on finding and following any leads it can.

“Maybe the phone holds the clue to finding more terrorists. Maybe it doesn’t,” FBI Director James Comey said in a statement released Sunday night.

89.3 KPCC: What the FBI might be looking for on San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

See, if it was just this one phone, and just this one time, it might be okay, just this once. But, and I can’t say this clearly enough, it’s NOT this one phone, this one time.

No. In fact, as far as we know right now, there are over a dozen phones IN ADDITION TO this one phone, that they’d love to check if they can only figure out how to crack Apple’s security.

And that, friends, is what has me worried.

Have you read the USA PATRIOT Act? The capitalization is not an accident. It’s an acronym that stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.

According to the Department of Justice’s archive, the Act was passed with bipartisan support by both the Senate (98-1), and the House (357-66). This legislation has damaged the right to privacy guaranteed by the above-listed amendments to the Constitution, and the Act’s provisions used repeatedly in controversial ways I’m certain the Founding Fathers would have rejected out of hand.

(Don’t like Wikipedia? Great. Follow the footnotes and go read WHY these items exist in the entries the way they do.)

Fast forward to December 3, 2015 and the guy who finally had enough of the racist remarks that he and his wife decided to make their Bonnie and Clyde-style exit, 2A-protected guns a-blazing, and now all of a sudden we see that we need yet another way to infringe on our rights to privacy because his phone might lead to other Lone Wolf shooters.

Not, you know, like this one, or this one, or even this one. Nope.

Tell me, because I’m really curious, just what unlocking one–or even a dozen–iPhones will do to protect your safety or mine? How much do YOU use YOUR cellphone every day, for all sorts of things, like figuring out how to get from Home to Work, or to the school, or the doctor’s office, or any of hundreds of different locations? How often do you search for things on your phone that might be questioned?

Imagine: I write these articles after I search for material. Sometimes Duck Duck Go won’t produce the results I want, and I don’t always (mostly never) remember to use Google’s Incognito function.

Am I a terrorist? Hardly. I don’t even own a gun, though I do know how to shoot and when I was younger I was a fairly good shot.

Idealist? Yeah, but more pragmatic, really. Cynical, even, which is why I view this latest push the same way I view those innocuous cameras that watch us EVERYWHERE, on the road, at the ATM, at Walmart, buying dinner at McDonald’s. And why every time I pull out my ATM card, I worry that the next time I could make a mistake and discover that I can’t buy a thing because I no longer have access to my money.

It’s not that I’m fearing for my own life, really. I make a relatively small noise in a really REALLY HUGE pond, so I’m not that concerned I’m suddenly going to attract the sort of scrutiny that makes one fear jail time. Not at the moment, at any rate. But with the USA PATRIOT Act still in place, all this time, and knowing what we do know about the effects of extremism at home and abroad, it does make one wonder just what the authorities would do if they could peek into the dark corners. It certainly makes me think that curtains on the windows aren’t just for blocking sunlight.

If you think these issues of privacy are overblown, I invite you to (re)read George Orwell’s book 1984 and see if you still hold that opinion afterward. You could simply read this letter written by Orwell to Noel Willmett in May, 1944, three years prior to writing the book.

How did Orwell know?

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Constitution, Election, GOP, Politics, SCOTUS

The hole in the middle…

While I would like to say I was completely immune to the tasteless celebrations of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday night as the news broke, I would be lying. I have known too many people who suffered directly and personally because of decisions Justice Scalia handed down in almost 30 years on the bench.  Continue reading

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Constitution, Democrats, Economics, Election, Entertainment, GOP, Politics

It’s the little things…

So I managed to tune in to the big game at the exact moment that commercial came on. You know the one. There’s not enough eye bleach in the world to get that image out of my mind.

Who was it for? I’ve forgotten, because ICK!

I was going to watch the rest of the game, even had an invite to go to a party for the purpose, but by the time I got my dinner together and actually sat down, the Broncos had already scored the first 10 of their points against the Panthers. I’m just not invested in football, unless I have someone to share the commercials with, and my heart wasn’t into the blogging aspect of game watching this year.

I opted to watch last week’s Downton Abbey episode, followed by the new one that aired on Sunday at 9. Ironically, it’s about a very rich family coming to terms with reality in the decline of a major empire, in the lull between wars.

So I missed Lady Gaga’s performance, and Beyonce’s, but I caught the very worst commercial of what everyone seems to agree was the very worst game in the 50 year history of the Superbowl. (Nope. Won’t post links. I couldn’t find a reliable source for the official videos and the sources I did find are questionable. Sorry.)

Meh.

Meanwhile, there’s this. I suggest swallowing, because you’ll regret it later.

Addicting Info: President Makes Surprise Appearance After Super Bowl – And He Has Jokes (VIDEO)

It’s good that the President is relaxed enough to make these jokes, and I appreciate his sense of humor, but it feels just the teensiest bit like Nero fiddling while Rome burns. Not, you know, like this guy, by a long shot, but still.

In other news, I just finished my taxes, and I managed to make it just enough that I didn’t owe anything to either the feds or state, even though I sucked more money out of my IRA so I could buy my fixer upper and get out from under the ridiculous rental market. And it’s a good thing I did it when I did, because today’s little stock market dip is outrageous.

At a point where we ought to be able to celebrate paying less than half of what we were for fuel when President Obama took office, nobody’s happy. Banks are engaging in risky investments again, and every time they play that game, folks who’ve trusted the system and put their money in IRAs suffer the consequences.

If you think you’re immune, consider:

  • Most traditional pension plans are gone. Even the government has largely divested of pension plans, except for certain sectors like the US Postal Service.
  • Unemployment numbers fail to include folks over 50 who are increasingly forced to admit they won’t get a job to replace the one they lost in the recession
  • The permanently disabled who can no longer qualify for full-time and can’t collect unemployment don’t count either.
  • Neither do the kids who’ve never had a job before and who never qualified in the first place.
  • Cost of food hasn’t dropped. Neither has the cost of other goods, except when discounts apply at special sales, and even then we know some places intentionally inflate the cost of goods so the “sale” really isn’t one. And it’s a long time till Christmas again.

It’s enough to induce heartburn in anyone who’s paying attention.

Small wonder I wasn’t in the mood last night to party. And when it gets right down to it, why I’m not all excited just because I’m presently paying about $1.67 for gas.

I don’t believe it’s going to last.

I think it’s a temporary dip in prices, and that dip is going to go away again the moment we let the GOP win. Because their interests, in every way, lie in oil prices.

They’re punishing the rest of the world right now, on Wall Street, because oil prices have slipped so far. If they manage to leverage themselves into position to take the White House, to ensure a permanent majority in the House and Senate, to rewrite the Constitution, you’d better believe the only ones who’ll win already count their annual salaries in 10 digits or higher.

New Hampshire’s Primary is tomorrow. Who’ll come out on top: A Democrat and at least three Republicans. After tomorrow, there’ll certainly be fewer choices on the Red side of the aisle. We’ll be one state closer to November. And one more step closer to the end game for American Democracy.

What did you do last night?

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Constitution, Democrats, Election, GOP, Oligarchy, Politics, Racism, Tea Party, War

What’s at stake…

Presidential elections are different from all the other elections we have in this country. If you aren’t familiar with the process, you’d better get familiar, and fast.

After Monday’s Iowa caucus, we have nothing but caucuses and primaries between now and summer, when the political parties get together for a week and then settle the question of which candidate(s) will represent their interests best. We’re done with pure speculation, though the media in general might think otherwise. Folks are finally exercising their right to vote. That is, as long as those rights haven’t been infringed.

While I could trot out all the ways in which campaigns smear candidates in service to proving their worth, I am only going to post two links and then I’m going to ask a lot of the questions I’m getting from Millennials on one hand and conservatives on the other.

With the demonizing of Muslims, backlash against African Americans and Central American refugees recast as “migrants,” Afghanistan, Iraq and (if the GOP get their way) Iran and Syria, we are in our own Wiemar Republic-style Liberal/Conservative war, bringing us to the Election of Exhaustion.

First, from Mother Jones: Here Come the Crazy Clinton Conspiracies of the 1990s

Second, from Amazon.com: The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

Now that I have those things out of the way, let me make my own position clear: I support Bernie Sanders in the Primaries, including my own in Maryland, where I am a registered Democrat. And I support the winner of the nomination when the Democrats select their candidate in late July this summer. It will be hot as hell in Philadelphia, and oh, so appropriate for the election this time.

So, before New Hampshire’s primary next week, let’s have that conversation.

How does the President win an election?

Every state does it differently when it comes to primaries. Some states, like Iowa, hold caucuses, others have elections. Some of these are open–meaning a voter can cross party lines–but most are closed. No matter how the candidate is selected, at the party convention, where the candidate gets the official nod, we discover the running mates (Vice Presidential candidates) and from then on, the campaigns are all about which candidates will win. But here’s the thing. If you think you’re voting for your candidate, you’re not. You’re voting to select the members of the Electoral College, who will THEN vote for your candidate, assuming they do the job they were sworn to do.

This artifact of the original founding fathers and the first Constitutional Convention in 1787 is destined for retirement eventually. Until that happens, you’d better understand what your vote actually does, or you’re likely to regret your choice, come November.

If I don’t like a candidate I can just write in my own choice, can’t I?

Well, no. It’s not that simple. Sorry. If your write-in candidate isn’t registered in the state that way, your vote goes into the trash. Nice try, but that’s not how it works.

What else am I voting for in November?

Members of the US Senate serve six-year terms and are elected in thirds. One third of the Senate is up for election each two year cycle. In 2016, from (http://www.periodicalpress.senate.gov/reelection-2016/) these senate seats are up for grabs:

DEMOCRATS   

Michael Bennet (Colorado)
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut)
Barbara Boxer (California) retiring in 2016
Patrick Leahy (Vermont)
Barbara Mikulski (Maryland) retiring in 2016
Patty Murray (Washington)
Harry Reid (Nevada) retiring in 2016
Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
Charles Schumer (New York)
Ron Wyden (Oregon)

REPUBLICANS

Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)
Roy Blunt (Missouri)
John Boozman (Arkansas)
Richard Burr (North Carolina)
Dan Coats (Indiana) retiring in 2016
Mike Crapo (Idaho)
Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
John Hoeven (North Dakota)
Johnny Isakson (Georgia)
Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)
Mark Kirk (Illinois)
James Lankford (Oklahoma)
Mike Lee (Utah)
John McCain (Arizona)
Jerry Moran (Kansas)
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
Rand Paul (Kentucky)
Rob Portman (Ohio)
Marco Rubio (Florida) retiring in 2016
Tim Scott (South Carolina)
Richard Shelby (Alabama)
John Thune (South Dakota)
Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania)
David Vitter (Louisiana)

The House of Representatives is selected during every even year election. If you wanted to, you could replace every one of your House representatives every two years. Democrats only need 30 additional seats to take control back from the GOP.

Why should I care?

The Presidency is only one branch of government and the President doesn’t write law. He can ask for law to be enacted or, with strict limits, make executive decisions regarding legal interpretation, but it’s the House that writes the budget and only in cooperation with the Senate. If the House and Senate agree with the President and he sides with corporate interests (Oligarchy, Plutocracy), the people lose their rights to Democracy.

Theoretically, both the House and Senate should be providing laws that enhance or clarify the Constitution. In reality, there’s a wide margin of interpretation regarding what is and isn’t Constitutional, and a majority of law is now written to protect the wealthy and screw the poor and lower middle classes. And there is presently nothing to stop them from adding whatever riders (commonly known as “pork”) they want to bills that must pass, like the NDAA, which also pays our service members’ salaries.

So what? What does that mean to our current government?

Well, if the House and Senate disagree about what the President thinks will help the people of our country, they can stop legislation from reaching the President or, through a series of tacked on amendments, push through their own agenda by adding riders to bills that force the President to do things that aren’t in the best interests of the people. Without a majority on the side of the President, nothing gets done.

Some people are fine with that, but they’re generally not the ones who need help the most.

Well, if it’s not Constitutional, who fixes the problem?

Theoretically that’s where the third branch comes in. That’s the court system, led by the Supreme Court. And here’s the biggest problem we face today, in February, just as the 2016 election year gets underway.

Why is that a big deal?

The Supreme Court consists of nine lifetime appointments. It’s the Justice’s decision to retire if he or she doesn’t die in office first. While there is an impeachment process outlined, no Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached.

At present, the following justices are over the age of 67 (legal retirement age):

  • Clarence Thomas (age 67)
  • Stephen Breyer (age 77)
  • Anthony Kennedy (age 79)
  • Antonin Scalia (age 79)
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (age 82)

Five Four of the nine eight are old enough to retire from ordinary service. Three of these are on the liberal side of the courts. And there is virtually no chance whatsoever that the next President won’t be required to appoint at least one new member. The general age range of new court justices appointed is 50-55. They tend to serve at least 20 years on the bench, but Scalia is was just 8 months shy of his 30th anniversary.*

While the President can appoint a justice, the Senate has to agree on the appointment. So chew on this: If the Senate retains their GOP majorities, but the President is a Democrat, approval will be difficult at best. If the GOP wins the presidency, and the Senate retains its majority, there is no chance whatsoever that the court will see another liberal appointment. Possibly ever.*

[Now that one of these is gone, how will it work in practice instead of theory? I can’t predict the future, but this might be the year the Senate suspends the summer recess. – bmd]

What else is going on?

Well, now that you mention it, there’s that little matter of a Constitutional Convention. Remember when I mentioned it a few paragraphs ago? Did you know we are somewhere between two and five states away from having enough states to call one? True. It only takes 34, and Texas’ declaration is the most recent. Imagine the Constitution without any of the amendments beyond the Bill of Rights. That’s 17 additional amendments some conservatives would dearly love to see abolished.

So what does all this mean?

It means that if you choose to throw your vote behind any candidate except the one that wins the Democratic nomination, you are voting for the GOP. And if that happens, and they get control of all three branches of government, this could be the last time you get to vote on anything. Imagine what this country would be like under President McCain or President Romney. Now imagine President Cruz. It’s not terribly far-fetched.

Considering what the court system has done to eliminate voting rights protection, women’s rights to health and work, fair wages and so much more, what are you prepared to risk, to support your passion?

[* Edited to fix inaccuracies regarding the approval process (2/15/2016), and to correct grammar (2/29/2016). -bmd]

 

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