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Franken for President?

Assuming we have an election in 2020, which may be an unwarranted assumption, the Democrats could do worse than Al Franken as their nominee. This is great:

via Crooks and Liars

For those unfamiliar with the case they’re discussing: It involved a truck driver who sued his employer for firing him. His trailer broke down and was unsafe. The cab was still functioning. He called his employer, who told him to stick with the truck. He made the aware that it was below zero weather and he would likely freeze to death. They insisted he stay with the truck. He did until it became clear that he would, in fact, soon freeze to death, at which point he detached his cab and left for safety. Gorsuch was a minority of one in a conservative court that said his firing was lawful.

Two things I love about this video. Franken asks the obvious question: “What would you have done”, and Gorsuch squirms. Second, I really love Franken’s comment that as a former comedian he knows absurdity when he sees it. Law school grads will be immediately reminded of Justice Potter Stewart’s claim that although he couldn’t define obscenity, he knew it when he saw it.

We need more like Franken.

Interesting Question

A friend of mine raised an interesting question about all this Russia stuff. Apparently the FBI has been investigating Trump and his merry band of Russophiles since at least this past summer. What was it that led them to start the investigation in the first place? So far as I know, this question has been neither publicly asked nor answered. Inquiring minds should want to know.

No, he doesn’t get it

I must take issue with this:

Democrats don’t seem to be united on how to deal with the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, which is “no way, no how.” Richard Blumenthal gets it:

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said Sunday that he would filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and “use every tool that we have” if Gorsuch fails to disavow litmus tests on abortion and guns, among other things.

     Gorsuch’s multi-day confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET on Monday.

Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, began by saying on MSNBC Sunday that Gorsuch would have to tell the committee that a ban on any religion is unconstitutional. Judges have said that religious bias motivated President Donald Trump’s recently blocked travel ban.

“Even if he can’t comment on the specific immigration case, he has to at least show that he respects the principle that the government can’t discriminate on the basis of religion; that a Muslim ban would violate the Constitution,” he said.

Blumenthal said he would hold Gorsuch to the same standard on Roe v. Wade, which set a precedent establishing abortion as a fundamental right, and gun control laws.

via Crooks and Liars

Sorry, if this is an accurate reflection of Blumenthal’s position, then he doesn’t get it.

Gorsuch has a record. He should be judged by that, not by anything he might say at the hearing. Blumenthal is a lawyer. He knows very well that Gorsuch could say that of course we cannot discriminate against Muslims, while leaving himself free to rule that Trump’s orders do not, in fact, discriminate against Muslims, for any of a variety of bullshitty legal reasons. I could write the decision for him if he wants.

Same goes for abortion. He can spout some gibberish that gives Blumenthal cover but still leaves himself wide open to rule to overturn Roe v. Wade. In any event, we know perfectly well that he would vote to overturn Roe, and that’s a fact. Nothing he says during that hearing can outweigh a lifetime record of reaction. If Blumenthal really “got it”, he would be on board with a filibuster with no ifs, ands or buts. And if that means the end of the filibuster, well, it’s no good having it in theory if you can’t use it.

What is wrong with Democrats? Can’t they see that after Merrick Garland, there must be payback? Even if Gorsuch were reasonable they should consider filibustering. But he’s not. He is anti-labor, anti-woman, anti-consumer, pro-corporate and securely in the pocket of the .01%. He’s worse than Scalia and likely to live a long time. No real Democrat would even consider allowing a vote to go forward if they could stop it.

Allow me to repeat myself

Republicans speak (and usually lie) with one voice. Democrats don’t even harmonize. I have griped about this for years. One consequence is that Republican memes, no matter how ridiculous they may be when logic is applied, dominate the discourse.

Here’s yet another example I just chanced upon, as I scanned the Crooks and Liars posts in my RSS reader. Here and here two Republicans lie about Trumpcare, spouting exactly the same lie. In this case it’s the explicit and implicit lie that the Medicaid expansion is a welfare program, that participants in Medicaid expansion are lazy louts, and that “able bodied” people should not be allowed on Medicaid. They both also spout tripe about wanting to bring the free market to health care, which will surely solve all our problems.

All a load of bullshit, of course, but that doesn’t mean it is ineffective, particularly if there is no coordinated response, which there never is.

As a side note, Joy Reid does a good job of destroying the Georgian congressman in the video at the first link, but it left me wondering about something. She was ready with facts and figures but, at least in the part I watched (there’s only so much bullshit a sane person can stand), she never made an obvious point about the “free market” meme. That being, if the free market worked in the health care context, why would we have had to pass Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare in the first place. Shouldn’t we have been in a state of health care bliss back in 1964 when the free market was successfully inpoverishing the elderly and ripping off the rest of us? Of course, they were pikers back then compared to the vultures that run insurances companies today, but still…

Grammar lesson

Typing remains painful for me, but I feel I must pound my keyboard, nonetheless, in defense of the English language and its punctuation marks.

I refer to the Trumper’s defense of his wiretapping lie, an example of the reporting thereon here:

“I think there’s no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election,” Spicer said. “The President used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities.”

So far as I know, no one has asked Mr. Spicer for another example of the use of quotation marks to imply that the words contained within those marks are not to be taken literally, but are meant to be interpreted in a broader sense. That is, in fact, the exact opposite of their commonly accepted use. One uses quotation marks as a means of precisely reproducing what someone else has said.

I use quotation marks a lot, both in this blog, and in legal briefs, and it has always been my understanding, an understanding that is absolutely correct, that the words within quotation marks are the exact words used by a source, whether named or unnamed. Trump’s use of quotation marks, if one follows the universal understanding, means that he intended to convey to his mindless followers that someone with knowledge had used the very words he was using to describe what Obama was doing. It usually implies, additionally, that the writer (in this case, Trump) believes the source is to be trusted, though with Trump we can be certain that the opposite is true.

Recently people have started using “air quotes” when they speak. We’ve all seen it. Someone pauses, puts two fingers of each hand in the air, and brings them down as they utter the air quoted words. The use of air quotes implies two things: that the speaker is using the same terminology as the person they are quoting, and that the speaker is metaphorically rolling their eyes and calling bullshit on the quoted person. You can probably use air quotes in a piece of writing, but you have to telegraph your meaning, and in any event, it’s obvious that Trump was not calling bullshit on his source, although if he had any sense he would have known that the stuff he read was, in fact, bullshit.

There is one other use of quotation marks, which I utilized in the previous paragraph when I put quotation marks around “air quotes”. Quotation marks are also used to indicate that a word or phrase is being referred to in its capacity as a word or phrase. If Trump were using his quotation marks in that sense, his current defense still makes no sense.

This is today’s grammar lesson.

You’re welcome.

Earth to Trump voters: tough shit

Are these people stupid, or just Fox viewers. Probably both. One of several Trump voters now facing reality:

Los Angeles Times: Kathy Watson- A 55 year old former small business owner who credits Obamacare with saving her life, said that when she voted for Trump she dismissed his pledge to scrap the ACA as bluster

After struggling for years without insurance, the 55-year-old former small-business owner — who has battled diabetes, high blood pressure and two cancers — credits Obamacare with saving her life. Watson also voted for Donald Trump, believing the businessman would bring change. She dismissed his campaign pledges to scrap the Affordable Care Act as bluster. Now, as she watches the new president push to kill the law that provided her with a critical lifeline, Watson finds herself among many Trump supporters who must reconcile their votes with worries about the future of their healthcare.

via Hullabaloo

She believed all his lies, but the one thing he was telling the truth about, she didn’t believe. Anyone with brains could see that if a Republican captured the White House, Obamacare would be under attack. My heart ain’t bleeding for her or any of the rest of the Fox watching idiots profiled in the linked article. They voted to lose their healthcare. They should be happy, cause after all, he’s keeping his promises.

Excuse my cynicism

I wish I could agree with this article, which argues that Michael Flynn has retroactively registered as a foreign agent in order to set himself up for leniency when Trump and Pence are investigated.

It still begs the question of why Michael Flynn is suddenly doing this. By registering now as a foreign agent, he’s admitting he broke the law by not registering while he was on the take. He’s voluntarily implicating himself in a past crime in an attempt to now get himself on the right side of the law. You know who does that? Someone who’s listening to his lawyer. And you know what else lawyers tell their guilty clients? Flip on your bosses and sing like a canary in exchange for leniency or immunity. Flynn is already Trump and Pence’s worst nightmare – and it’s just getting started.

I think we are past the point where Republicans can be held accountable for anything. They control all three branches of government, and they will quite blatantly misuse their power to avoid both investigations and prosecutions. I hope I’m wrong, but I think the rank and file are more interested in enriching the rich than preserving (or should l say, recovering) our form of government.

A certain justice 

Interesting chart here. It appears that the extent that Trumpcare will screw the states is roughly proportional to the extent they voted for Trump. So they’re getting what they asked for.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folks. It speaks volumes about how confident the Republicans are that they can continue to manipulate their base while continuing to screw them.

A year ago today

In addition to writing on this blog, I’ve been keeping a journal on my iPad. It has a feature that shows you entries from previous years. My entry from last year on this date, among other things, reproduced a post I put on this blog giving my reasons for considering Hillary Clinton a flawed candidate. It stands up rather well, though I was wrong about Hillary being scandal proof.

I honestly don’t remember being quite so pessimistic about Hillary’s chances, but my other diary entries from this period are along the same lines. By the time the election rolled around I’d convinced myself she was going to win. Well, mostly convinced myself.

Only a year ago, but it seems more like a lifetime.

On Sabattical

I’ve gone silent lately, not for lack of anything to say, but due to an inability to say, or more accurately, type it. An old shoulder injury, I think, has come back to haunt me, and typing more than 30 seconds is almost impossible. I am ensnared in the health care system. I am keeping track of the impeachable offenses that are piling up and will have a full report once I’m able to pound a keyboard again.

Something to ponder: would it be a good or bad thing if Trump had the same problem I do? Do we went him tweeting, or do we not?