Tag Archives: President Barack Obama

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“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.”

Martin Niemöller

We’re still in shock here in the U.S.  In just a matter of weeks, the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court undid decade’s worth of progressive social reforms.  The reversal of Roe vs. Wade last month garnered the most attention, but they didn’t stop with that.

In Vega vs. Tekoh, the High Court ruled that a violation of Miranda rights doesn’t provide a basis for civil damages.  The original Miranda vs. Arizona decision ensured people accused of criminal behavior have the right to legal counsel and to remain silent in the face of police interrogation.  Miranda was decided in line with the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, which had already established certain guidelines for addressing criminal procedures.  The Vega ruling now ensures that law enforcement can act with impunity.  I suspect it’s a response to the vitriolic reactions to high-profile police killings over the past…well, several decades; the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests and all that.  In Vega, the SCOTUS majority noted that, if the original Miranda court intended to create a constitutional right versus a prophylactic rule, it would have definitively declared that immediately upon deciding Miranda.  The 1966 Court knew how to use its words, the current Court essentially declared, and those words used were not “constitutional right.”  See how verbiage can be twisted so easily by academics?

In West Virginia vs. the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Court undercut the latter’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.  SCOTUS agreed with Republican-led states and energy companies that the 1970 Clean Air Act gave the EPA too much power over carbon emissions.  The decision was also a strike back against the 2015 Clean Power Plan – an Obama-era policy that targeted adverse climate change.  To environmentalists, it wasn’t surprising that energy conglomerates were adamant in reversing the CPP, as well as the CAA.  But the West Virginia ruling falls in line with the belief of conservatives that climate change is a hoax.  That’s why energy companies overwhelmingly support Republican candidates.  I have to note West Virginia is a top coal producer.  It also ranks as one of the poorest states in the union.

In his statement regarding the Dobbs ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the Court should revisit other high-profile rulings, including Griswold vs. Connecticut, which declared the legal usage of contraceptives; Lawrence vs. Texas, which struck down anti-sodomy laws; and Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage.  Curiously, he didn’t call for a review of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, which declared that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional or Loving vs. Virginia, which legalized interracial marriage.  I guess this is because overturning these decisions would impact Thomas, a Negro married to a White chick.  It’s amazing how some people have no problems enacting laws that wouldn’t affect them personally.

In the 1983 film “The Star Chamber”, Michael Douglas portrays a relatively young judge who becomes engaged with a group of other jurists who find the legal system has gone awry in favor of criminals and decide to enact vigilante justice to right those perceived wrongs.  They hire assassins to kill certain criminals who have escaped incarceration.  The movie is replete with scenes where highly articulate lawyers help defendants get out of trouble.  In one early scene, Hal Holbrook’s character tells Douglas, “Someone has hidden justice inside the law.”  It’s an attempt to justify the group’s brutal actions.

That’s how I often view the legal system.  Charismatic lawyers prancing around even the most heinous of crimes with carefully-crafted verbiage; a kind of Tolkien-style language only they understand, but something the rest of us have to deal with toiling away in the trenches of reality.  I certainly don’t recommend assassination as a viable resolution to our nation’s political ills.  That’s where the treasured right of voting comes into play.  People need to take their voting rights seriously and understand the significance of not voting.  We’ve seen the fruits of voter apathy in my home state of Texas.  In recent years, the right to vote has come under fire from conservatives.  As with many other rights, this isn’t a surprise.  Conservatives have always tried to suppress voting.  You know…the way totalitarian regimes like Russia have.  I’ve noted more than once that the (fair and legitimate) elections of Barack Obama prompted (mostly White) conservatives to launch their assault on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  During their convention last month, the Texas Republican Party called for repeal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which guarantees the right to vote regardless of race.  They did this because…well, because that’s what conservatives do – at least here in the U.S.  They were quick to abolish fascism in Europe during World War II, but weren’t so eager to do the same at home.

With this in mind, I wonder if many conservative queers who voted for the likes of George W. Bush and Ted Cruz are satisfied with their decisions.  Along with many mainstream right-wingers, some are ecstatic that Roe was overturned.  But now, I hate to see their reactions at the thought of reversing Lawrence or Obergefell.  But the neo-Nazi clowns who have targeted the so-called “liberal agenda” for years are coming for their faggot asses next!  I just hope they’ll be happy sitting in their designer closets polishing their Ronald Reagan Glee Club pins.

If anyone in the U.S. believes democracy is functioning just perfectly and nothing is wrong, they need to consider this: five of the current justices on the Supreme Court were chosen by presidents who did NOT win the popular vote.  George W. Bush didn’t really win the 2000 presidential election and he barely won the 2004 election; yet he was able to appoint two justices – Samuel Alito and John Roberts.  Donald Trump certainly didn’t win the 2016 presidential election (perhaps the most corrupt in U.S. history), but he was able to appoint three justices to the Court: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney-Barrett.  Gorsuch’s selection came because Republicans refused to grant President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, the decency of a hearing upon the death of Antonin Scalia in 2016; claiming it was an election year and the next president should choose the nominee.  However, Barrett’s nomination came after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2020.  The same band of Republicans who denied Garland a hearing rammed through Barrett’s confirmation without hesitation.

I don’t know if most Americans fully comprehend the significance of the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe.  It could lead to much worse.  But this is what happens when people don’t bother to vote in even the most mundane of elections.  Liberals seem especially reticent to take local races seriously.  I can only recommend everyone concerned about our democracy to make that concerted effort to vote.  I understand how many people feel their votes don’t count, particularly after the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections and all the corruption involved in both.

Yet, democracy is not a natural form of governing.  Humanity is more likely to construct an oligarchy-style system.  In worse case settings, totalitarianism can take root, as it almost did with Donald Trump in the White House.  People need to be wary of the current U.S. Supreme Court and its fascist leanings, disguised as social conservatism.  (Then again, fascism and conservatism are pretty much the same ideology.)

It’s starting with the Roe reversal.  Unless we place more moderates into public office, it will only get worse.

Bottom image: Michael de Adder

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Worst Quotes of the Week – June 11, 2022

“I vote to make sure that those parents be held for child abuse.  There is no such thing as trans kids, there are only abusive parents who are pushing that evil, evil sexual orientation onto their child’s mind. I want to make sure that those parents have been held accountable.  We should start putting some of those parents in jail for abusing their child’s minds. Especially in the school system, any teacher that is teaching that LGBT, transgenderism, furries, the groomers, any sexual orientation communication in the school system should be immediately terminated but [teachers should also] be held for abusing young children.”

Mark Burns, self-described pastor running for the U.S. Congress from South Carolina

Burns, who lied about his military service, declared that – if he’s elected – will reinstate the House Un-American Activities Committee so the government can “start executing people” guilty of treason.

“And of course, above all, they lie about the reason that January 6 happened in the first place. And you know what it is – the entire country watched Joe Biden get what they claimed was 10 million more votes than Barack Obama himself. Joe Biden got 10 million more votes than Barack Obama got. And a lot of those votes arrived after the election.  In a lot of places, voting was stopped in the middle of the night. Why? In the biggest states in the country, voter ID was optional. Why is that okay? A lot of the protesters on January 6 were very upset about that, and they should have been. All of us should be. But the January 6 committee ignored all of that completely. Instead, on the basis of zero evidence, no evidence whatsoever, they blame the entire riot on white supremacy.”

Tucker Carlson, about the January 6 Committee

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Worst Quotes of the Week – March 20, 2021

“It was Barack Obama himself who knew about the dangers of ballot harvesting in the state of Texas because under his administration, he sent his U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, as well as the FBI, to south Texas to arrest and to prosecute people who were involved in ballot harvesting that were using cocaine to buy votes through the ballot harvesting process in the state of Texas.”

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), claiming efforts by the Democratic National Party to secure elections would result in people using cocaine to buy votes

Abbott went on to say, “And when you look at some of the things that they are talking about with regard to H.R. 1, they are trying to institutionalize voter fraud in the United States of America. They want to make mail-in ballots permanent. Everyone knows – including Democrats in Texas – have said that one of the easiest ways to cheat in elections is through these mail-in ballots.”

“Even though those thousands of people that were marching to the Capitol were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned… Now, had the tables been turned – Joe, this could get me in trouble – had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”

Sen. Ron Johnson, on the January 6 Capital Hill riots

“There’s old sayings in Texas about, you know, find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree.  You know, we take justice very seriously and we ought to do that.  Round up the bad guys.  That’s what we believe.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), mentioning lynching as a form of justice during congressional hearings about anti-Asian-American violence

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Best Quotes of the Week – November 21, 2020

“A president is a public servant. They are temporary occupants of the office, by design.  And when your time is up, then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego, and your own interests, and your own disappointments.”

Barack Obama, on CBS’ “60 Minutes”

“My whole campaign was about ‘COVID, COVID, COVID,’.  And when I talked to people through their storm doors, they would say they wanted responsible COVID management.”

Dr. Kristin Lyerly, Democratic candidate for a Wisconsin State Assembly seat, on what incited her campaign

“We’re stuck with Dan Patrick and a $1 million bounty for a fraud that never happened.”

Houston Chronicle contributor Cort McMurray, on Texas Lte. Gov. Dan Patrick’s monetary offer to anyone who can prove voter fraud in the elections

“I think the hardest thing to watch is that people are still looking for something else and a magic answer and they do not want to believe COVID is real.  Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening.  It’s not real.’”

Jodi Doering, a South Dakota nurse on how some of her patients prefer to believe they have pneumonia or something other than COVID-19, even if they’re dying and despite seeing their positive test results

“Yes, the Trump administration is a bit like the COVID pandemic. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the worst — the last chapter is just the worst.”

David Brooks, on Trump’s refusal to concede

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Retro Quote – Barack Obama

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. If you go out and make good things happen, you fill the world with hope. And in doing so, you will fill yourself with hope.”

Barack Obama

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Barrett Block

“It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), February 14, 2016, “Meet the Press”

“The court — we are one vote away from losing our fundamental constitutional liberties, and I believe that the president should next week nominate a successor to the court, and I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day,” Cruz said. “This nomination is why Donald Trump was elected. This confirmation is why the voters voted for a Republican majority in the Senate.”

Cruz, September 18, 2020, hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

If hypocrisy was a virtue, many politicians would be among the most honorable of citizens.  Sadly, political environments seem to have no room for such people.  Hypocrisy reigns, as U.S. Senate Republicans rammed through the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett this week, in order to fill the seat left by the death Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month.  Ginsburg’s failing health and ultimate death had been the subject for years among Supreme Court watchers.  Liberals and even moderates feared her death would come at such a pivotal moment in U.S. history as we’re in now.

Allegations of a double standard aside, my biggest concern with Barrett is her unwillingness to answer questions regarding one particular issue, the most sacred element of democracy: voting.  I’ve always found it odd that conservatives will move mountains to protect gun rights, but unleash similar amounts of energy to thwart voting rights.  It’s obvious this matter is critical because we are on the cusp of a presidential election.  Yet, the right to cast a ballot has come under threat since Barack Obama fairly and legitimately won his first election in 2008.  (Understand there’s never been any question of the validity of Obama’s elections.)  States with predominantly Republican legislatures suddenly became concerned with voter fraud and began implementing measures to combat it.  Similar reactions erupted after passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and ratification of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1971.

My home state of Texas, for example, was among the first to tighten voter identification.  College ids and utility bills were nearly eliminated as proof of one’s existence or residency, but they retain their positions as supplemental forms of identification.  Other measures, such as fingerprints and retina scans were proposed – all in a futile attempt to combat the mystical voter fraud; much the same way Ted Cruz managed to fight off myriad communist sympathizers on the manicured grounds of Princeton University.

In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of standing in crowded places to cast a ballot made many people shudder.  Generally, senior citizens and the disabled were among the few granted the privilege of mail-in voting.  But, as the novel coronavirus remains highly contagious, mail-in voting became more palatable.  Then, as if on cue, President Donald Trump and other right-wing sycophants raised the ugly specter of voter fraud.  And, of course, mail-in voting – just like the overall right granted by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – was in jeopardy.

When voting rights advocates tried to compromise by pushing for drop-off ballot boxes, conservatives again balked.  On October 1, Texas Governor Greg Abbott mandated that only one drop-off box would be acceptable per county.  That works great for tiny Loving County (pop. 169), but not for massive Harris County (pop. 4.7 million).  U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman overruled Abbott; denouncing the governor’s proclamation as “myopically” focused.  But the governor persisted, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with him.

Earlier this week, however, Judge Barrett couldn’t seem to bring herself to declare the importance and value of voting rights.  Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked Barrett about the freedom of the formerly incarcerated to regain their voting rights.  She highlighted one of Barrett’s 2019 dissent in Kanter v. Barr that voting should be granted only to “virtuous citizens.”  In the Kanter case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled it reasonable that the litigant, Rickey Kanter, lose his right to own firearms after a felony conviction for mail fraud.  Barrett was the only member of the 3-judge panel to resist and brought up the “virtuous citizens” remark, which subsequently invoked discussions of what constitutes virtuous.  As with any moral declaration, the concept of virtue can be purely subjective.  Yet Barrett didn’t stop there.  In her dissent, she went on to write that the application of virtue should limit the right of citizens to vote and serve on juries.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard conservative political figures announce their support for ex-convicts to regain their right to bear arms, if they’ve served their full sentences.  None, however, have expressed similarly ardent advocacy for the same ex-convicts to earn back their right to vote.  I suspect this is because they all realize the significance of the power of voting and the power it gives even to the poor and disenfranchised.  Hence, measures in the past with poll taxes and “grandfather clauses”.

Barrett still wouldn’t clarify what she meant by “virtuous”.  In response to Klobuchar, she said, “Okay. Well, senator, I want to be clear that that is not in the opinion designed to denigrate the right to vote, which is fundamental … The virtuous citizenry idea is a historical and jurisprudential one.  It certainly does not mean that I think that anybody gets a measure of virtue and whether they’re good or not, and whether they’re allowed to vote. That’s not what I said.”

Klobuchar persisted.  In citing Justice Ginsburg’s writing in the landmark voting rights case Shelby County v. Holder, she asked, “Do you agree with Justice Ginsburg’s conclusion that the Constitution clearly empowers Congress to protect the right to vote?”

Shelby County v. Holder was crucial in the contemporary assault on voting rights.  It addressed Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices and Section 4(b), which contains the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting.  The seminal 1965 act was not-so-subtly aimed at southern states.  When the case arrived at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, where a 5-4 ruling declared Section 4(b) unconstitutional because it was based on data over 40 years old.  The high court didn’t strike down Section 5.  Previous research had showed that both sections had led to increases in minority voting since the 1960s.  Contemporary voting advocates, however, claimed that recent efforts – especially after Obama’s 2008 victory and mainly in the South – made it easier for election officials to impose greater restrictions on voting.

Again, Barrett just couldn’t (more likely wouldn’t) bring herself to state her position clearly.  “Well, Senator, that would be eliciting an opinion from me on whether the dissent or the majority was right in Shelby County,” she told Klobuchar, “and I can’t express a view on that, as I’ve said, because it would be inconsistent with the judicial role.”

Klobuchar then brought up alarming news that Atlas Aegis, a Tennessee-based company, was trying to recruit former members of the U.S. military to show up at various polling places while armed; all in a supposed effort to ensure the security of voting.  The image of such activity has become plausible as even President Trump advocates for armed poll-watchers to prevent voter fraud.  Whether these people should be armed with bazookas or cell phones hasn’t been made clear, but the threat is obvious.

“Judge Barrett,” asked Klobuchar, “under federal law, is it illegal to intimidate voters at the polls?”

“Sen. Klobuchar, I can’t characterize the facts in a hypothetical situation and I can’t apply the law to a hypothetical set of facts,” Barrett said.

Well, that’s a nice, safe response.  And I have to concede it’s only proper in such a setting.  A fair jurist can’t logically state a position without knowing the facts.  As the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett’s self-admitted idol, once declared, “I want to hear your argument.”  But that should apply only to specific cases.  There should be no doubt about the concept of voting.

Barrett was also evasive in answers to other questions, such as abortion – the perennially key issue among conservatives – and the Affordable Care Act.  Trump had made it clear from the start of his presidential campaign that he wanted to overturn both the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and the ACA.  While he and social and religious conservatives offer no concessions for Roe, the president often mentioned a replacement for ACA, which has yet to materialize and – as far as I’m concerned – doesn’t exist.  Roe will always remain a thorn in the fragile ribs of conservatives, but the idea of eliminating health care coverage for all citizens – particularly while we remain mired in this pandemic and flu season already underway – is infuriating.  Not-so-ironically the high court is set to review the validity of the ACA next month.  As with the upcoming election, Trump wants to ensure a conservative majority on the court before both events.

Trump has already stated – as he did in 2016 – that he will only accept the results of the election if he wins.  Whatever fool is surprised, please raise your hand now, so we full-brain folks can laugh at you!  Loudly.  Yet it’s clear: Trump realizes this election could end up like 2000, when the Supreme Court ordered the state of Florida to stop its ballot recount and thereby hand the presidency to George W. Bush.  That Bush’s younger brother, Jeb, was governor of Florida in 2000 wasn’t lost on most.  The “good-old-boy” network was alive and well at the turn of the century!

And it thrives in the anti-First Amendment actions of Republican governors across the nation.  I feel that Barrett is basically their puppet; their tool in resolutions to ensure a conservative majority in the Supreme Court.  As with any justice, Barrett’s place on the court could impact generations of people.  As a writer, I’m a strong free speech advocate, which equals the right to vote.  They’re intertwined.  And I feel that many conservatives view the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as available to only a handful – people like them.  People who share their narrow view of the world and what is appropriate in order to function within it.

Thus, the U.S. Senate’s kangaroo confirmation hearings for Barrett are ominous.

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So This Is Who We Have?

“I don’t make jokes.  I just watch the government and report the facts.”

Will Rogers

Both the 2020 Democratic and Republican National Conventions have come to an end, and I couldn’t be happier.  Last week former Vice-President Joe Biden accepted the Democrat’s nomination for president, while Sen. Kamala Harris accepted the vice-presidential role.  And, over the last few days, incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence accepted their respective nominations from the GOP.  Aside from watching these political love fests conclude, the only thing that excites me more about this entire process is that the demise of the 2020 presidential race is in sight.  I feel even more disenfranchised than I did four years ago.

Okay, one other thing that truly excites me is the prospect that Donald Trump will be voted out of office in November.  But I have to concede that I’m not too thrilled with the idea of a Biden presidency.  Joe Biden was good as vice-president, but I feel less secure with him in the role of Chief Executive.  I’m certain, though, he’ll be much better than Trump.  Hell, a stray dog would be better than Trump!

In 2016 I voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.  A physician, Stein had been the Green Party’s candidate four years earlier.  I knew Iceland would see 80-degree temperatures on Christmas Day before Stein would win the U.S. presidency.  But I didn’t like either Trump or the Democratic choice of Hillary Clinton.  Clinton supporters blamed people like me for Clinton’s loss in 2016.  But we didn’t cause Hillary Clinton to lose the 2016 presidential election.  Hillary Clinton caused Hillary Clinton to lose the 2016 presidential election.  Her and the Russians.  As we now know, Russia essentially elected Trump; just like the U.S. Supreme Court elected George W. Bush in 2000.  America’s role as the beacon of democracy seems to have been shredded over the past 20 years.

I just never liked Hillary Clinton.  I loved Bill (Whose Your Daddy?) Clinton, but I never took a liking to Hillary.  By 2016, she had acquired top much baggage; more baggage than a Samsonite warehouse or a Lufthansa flight fresh in from Berlin.

And I definitely didn’t like Trump.  Donald Trump had been running for president for some 30 years by the time he made it official in 2015.  The idea had arisen back in the 1980s, when his name and persona first became public, and much of the nation had grown enamored with the concept of rapid-fire wealth and public prestige.  As AIDS and cocaine rampaged, many in the U.S. found the likes of Trump appealing.  He survived the collapse of the financial industry related to the savings-and-loan crisis and the string of high-profile prosecutions that ensued.  It seemed there was a price to pay for fiduciary recklessness.  No one knew at the time, though, that Trump was actually a womanizing failed businessman and tax cheat.  We know that well enough now.  But he’s president.  And, as another massive health crisis grips the nation and the world, we see how incompetent and ineffective Donald Trump really is.

I’m sure Joe Biden can do better.  But I keep thinking Biden should have called it a political life after his vice-presidency ended in January of 2017.  He should have retired to his estate in Delaware to consult on other political campaigns, give speeches and write books.  He’d served his time in office; he’d done his duty.

For the Democratic Party, the 2020 presidential campaign had started with high promises and an extraordinarily bright future.  The field of candidates was the most diverse that had ever existed among any political party.  But, by March, we’d ended up with two old White guys: Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.  Kind of like the Republican Party.  And I say this with all due respect to old White men.  I mean, I’m a mostly White man myself – in the golden days of middle age.  And, as I’ve declared before, White men aren’t the nexus of evil in America they’re often portrayed to be.  But I personally had hoped Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be the Democrats’ choice.  I would definitely be more excited with her at the head of the ticket.

As usual, there has been no real mention of either the Green or Libertarian Parties.  They’ve essentially been locked out of the convention hall – again.  And Americans are overwhelmed by the demagoguery of the Democratic and Republican Parties – again.  Indeed, the U.S. is becoming less and less like a democracy and more like an oligarchy.  Does my vote – or the vote of any individual – truly count?  Throughout the year the U.S. has seen covert attempts by the Trump Administration to thwart the right to vote – one of the foundational pillars of any free society.  That’s typical of social and political conservatives.  While the Republican Party of the 19th century pushed for the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it was the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that propelled many conservatives into the arms of the GOP.  Recent efforts to enforce voter identifications, calls for limiting early voting days and ongoing battles to undermine mail-in voting prove that conservatives – the ones who will move Heaven and Earth to protect their sacred gun rights – will do anything possible to circumvent the voting process.

And here we are: stuck with two old men who represent more of America’s past than its future.  I was enthralled with Bill Clinton and I liked Barack Obama.  Yet, I just can’t bring myself to get excited with the current campaign.

My two biggest fears?  If Trump is reelected, the nation will descend further into social chaos and economic madness.  If Biden is elected, he may die in office, which will send the nation into equally unending chaos.

I know I will vote nonetheless.  People have fought and died for this right – even within the past 100 years.  There are literally millions of people across the globe who would relish the chance to choose between the lesser of two or three evils.  The people of Belarus certainly wish they had that opportunity now.  Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic and a rash of voter suppression tactics, I will stand in line to select a candidate for the U.S. presidency.  It’s my right and my obligation.  Besides, I have nothing else to do two days before my 57th birthday.

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Truth Amid the Obstruction


No time is right for a health pandemic, but COVID-19 couldn’t have arisen at a more inconvenient period for Americans: at the start of the 2020 presidential election race.  Things had been proceeding somewhat normally until March, when concerns about the “novel coronavirus” began altering the social landscape.  When I saw that this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo had been postponed – possibly to next year – I knew our world had been capsized by this invisible biological menace.  Viruses, like facts, always have a way of sneaking into our lives and making us rethink everything we’ve ever learned.  Facts, however, are good things.  But, while a crisis of any kind can bring out the best humanity has to offer, it can also bring out the worst.

Right now political conservatives in the U.S. are trying to finagle the COVID-19 miasma into an obstructionist nightmare for the voting populace.  Last week thousands of voters in Wisconsin were forced to leave their homes and venture out to designated polling places to cast their votes for a candidate in the Democratic primary.  On April 6, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, refused to allow an extension of absentee voting in Wisconsin; thus, forcing the primary to go on as planned on April 7.  On April 2, a federal judge had ruled that absentee voting can be extended.  But unsurprisingly, the Republican National Committee appealed the ruling, which landed on the docket of the High Court.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that “the court’s order, I fear, will result in massive disenfranchisement.”  She went on: “Because gathering at the polling place now poses dire health risks, an unprecedented number of Wisconsin voters – at the encouragement of public officials – have turned to voting absentee.  About one million more voters have requested absentee ballots in this election than in 2016.  Accommodating the surge of absentee ballot requests has heavily burdened election officials, resulting in a severe backlog of ballots requested but not promptly mailed to voters.”

Political conservatives don’t like it when people they consider insignificant actually have the audacity to practice their right to vote.  For a good part of American history, they’ve done just about everything they could – including intimidation and violence – to stifle voting rights; which, they’ve obviously forgotten, is one of the fundamentals of a democratic society.  The right to vote is clearly mentioned in the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution!  Then again, they may not necessarily forget about it, as they just ignore it.  And they always seem to skip over to focus attention on the 2nd Amendment, which addresses firearms.

Conservatives established and enforced such obstructionist tactics as “grandfather clauses”, literacy tests, and poll taxes.  Voting advocates had to fight for confidential voting.  Early feminists had to do the same to get the 19th Amendment ratified.  When President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, he conceded that he and his fellow Democrats had probably handed the South to the Republican Party.  And he was right!  Slowly, but surely, over the ensuing decade, many White southerners began switching to the GOP.  A number of well-known U.S. politicians, such as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, also changed their allegiances to the Republican Party.

The election of Barack Obama solidified in the minds of many conservatives the horrors of expanded voting.  They then launched a number of efforts – both at the national and state levels – to ensure that would never happen again.  A slew of voter identification rules were suddenly enacted.

The COVID-19 scourge has prompted calls across the nation for expanded absentee voting, such as mail-ins, which has been rebuffed by conservatives who holler voter fraud could result.  This week Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opined that fear of catching the virus does not qualify voters to vote by mail

But State Judge Tim Sulak ruled that Texans afraid of catching COVID-19 should be allowed to vote by mail during the pandemic, using the state’s disability clause in the state’s election code, and said he will issue a temporary injunction.  The Texas Democratic Party and several had filed a lawsuit over concerns that voters in this July’s elections, including the primary runoffs, could come in contact with infected people when voting in person.

“Based on the plain language of the relevant statutory text, fear of contracting COVID-19 unaccompanied by a qualifying sickness or physical condition does not constitute a disability under the Election Code,” Deputy Attorney General Ryan M. Vassar wrote in a letter to Fort Worth State Rep. Stephanie Klick, a fellow Republican.

And, of course, Paxton was “disappointed” that Sulak had “ignored the plain text of the Texas election code to allow perfectly healthy voters to take advantage of special protections made available to Texans with actual illness or disabilities.”

The voter fraud claim is the default mantra of right-wing politicians every time they enact legislation that impacts the voting process.  Texas Republicans have long opposed the expansion of mail-in voting.  In 2017 the GOP-dominated state legislature stiffened penalties for election fraud.

“Our state is better off when more Texans participate in our democracy,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party.  “Voting by mail is safe, secure and accessible.  It allows more voters to participate in our democracy, and it’s a common sense way to run an election, especially during a public health crisis.”

Like the Texas Innocence Project, you know the Texas Democratic Party has their work cut out for them!

Currently, residents over age 65, military members, those who will be away from their residence during voting and people with disabilities can request mail-in ballots.  Democrats argue that a disability, defined as a “sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring voters’ health,” covers all Texas voters under the age of 65, including those who are afraid to catch the COVID-19 virus.

In his letter to Klick, Vassar naturally disagreed, stating that fears of catching the virus is neither a sickness nor a physical condition, but an emotional reaction to the pandemic is not “sufficient to meet the definition of disability”.

It’s ironic that Vassar regards concerns of contracting COVID-19 as emotional.  Throughout Obama’s presidency, conservatives screamed that his administration would ban all firearms, abandon Israel, and force churches to conduct same-sex weddings.  None of that happened.  It never has and most likely it never will.  Yet, liberals are always justifiably concerned that voter suppression is a real possibility when conservatives are elected to office.  Justifiably concerned because many state legislatures, such as Texas, actually have moved to enact legislation to combat the ubiquitous pandemic of voter fraud.

During Black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, news cameras captured horrific scenes of police physically assaulting individuals or using water hoses to attack groups of African-Americans.  I’ve seen some of that footage – startling black-and-white images of mostly peaceful citizens wanting to vote or be able to enter a restaurant and have a meal.  We don’t see that now.  Instead, we see elected officials use the power of their position to suppress voting.  Firearms have metamorphosed into pens – but they pose no less of a risk.

While I have my own doubts about the effectiveness of the voting process – the fraud-ridden elections of George W. Bush and Donald Trump being the most recent examples – people in any truly democratic society have the right to cast a ballot.  And eventually, the obstructionist tactics of those elected (not ordained) politicians will reveal the truth behind their dubious motives.

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Best Quote of the Week – December 20, 2019

“I’m absolutely confident that, for two years if every nation on Earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything… living standards and outcomes.”

President Barack Obama, speaking in Singapore

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How a REAL President Responds to a Tragedy

This is the official response President Barack Obama issue to the dual tragedies in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

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