Uncommon Sense

July 2, 2022

The Two Party Choice—Between Despicable Republicans and Impotent Democrats

I have been thinking about the stolen seat on the SCOTUS recently, During this debacle, the Senate Republicans refused to do their duty, advising and consenting to President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, Merrick Garland, and the Democrats sat by the side wringing their hands. So, what would I have done?

Here is a description of the role of the Vice-president of the U.S. with regard to the U.S. Senate: the Constitution names the vice president of the United States as the president of the Senate. In addition to serving as presiding officer, the vice president has the sole power to break a tie vote in the Senate and formally presides over the receiving and counting of electoral ballots cast in presidential elections.

Hmm, “in addition to serving as presiding officer.” At the time, the VP of the U.S. was Joe Biden, a long-term Senator who knew the rules of the Senate inside out. I would have sent the VP up to the Senate every day that it was in session to take up his job as “presiding officer.” Sure, that has never been done before, but the Senate has never refused to consider a Supreme Court nomination like that before.

Biden’s job then would be to declare every topic the Senate chose to address as being out of order, until the president’s SCOTUS nominee was addressed. The Senate might have responded by doing absolutely nothing for that year plus and whining about the Democrat’s blocking any action being taken, but the reason for the Democrats “blockade” would have been in the news every single day. Their meme would be “Senators, do your job!” Americans are required to do their jobs to earn their salaries. How far would an average American get by picking and choosing what they will and won’t do out of what they were hired to do? Two weeks notice?

Everyday, day in and day out. “Out of order!” is the mantra of the Presiding Officer of the U.S. Senate. Maybe this would not work, but at least the Democrats would be seen as at least fighting unfair behavior on the part of their opponents.

Consider now that the GOP has stacked the court with incompetents who will vote their way. (I say incompetents because they find it necessary to lie and misrepresent situations, ignoring provided facts, to have their way.) They have just got what they claimed was the goal 50 years ago, the repeal of Roe v. Wade. And the Democrats have responded to questions of what will they do now with “What can we do?” The GOP spent 50 years plotting and working to reverse Roe v. Wade and when they finally do, we find out that the Dems have spent that 50 years doing what? Fund raising on the threat? Wringing their hands? Having only 50 years to prepare has left them flat-footed, unable to respond.

It is clear that we need two new political parties: one not steeped in lies and deceit, the other focused upon being effective for the American people they represent.

I imagine the wealthy people actually in charge of this country are welcoming the distraction from their real interests, their economic instructs. While we are bemoaning a rogue SCOTUS’s actions, the plutocrats are trying mightily to blame the current state of inflation on wages that are too high and employment that is too high. It is based upon neither, but facts are not important now in political battles. They only need to get the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates excessively, which will slow growth (and probably create a recession) but that will slow hiring and reduce wage increases, which makes it okay with the plutocrats.

June 26, 2022

If We Held the Senate . . .

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:45 am
Tags: , , , , ,

It is clear that all of the Trump’s nominees for the Supreme Court lied when they stated that Roe v. Wade was “settled” law. And, well, you know that lying to Congress under oath is against the law . . . and . . . Supreme Court Justices are impeachable. Just sayin’.

For you history buffs, the only Justice to be impeached was Associate Justice Samuel Chase in 1805. The House of Representatives passed Articles of Impeachment against him; however, he was acquitted by the Senate. But this court is all for breaking new ground, setting aside precedents, so we could do it.

June 24, 2022

The Law of Unintended Consequences in Action, Again!

According to an article in The Guardian:

“Donald Trump, who spends summers at his Bedminster golf club, is a TV guy, a ratings guy. So the widely televised hearings of the congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US. hit him where it hurts.

“The former US president has reportedly been glued to them – and has not liked what he’s seen. As the panel has presented a carefully crafted case against Trump as the leader of a failed coup, he is said to be livid that there is no one in the room to speak up for him.”

Aw, poor baby.

Actually, it was the Ex-president’s party that forbade participation by Republicans in the Congressional panel. The only two Republicans participating have paid for that participation, one through the loss of his seat in the House and the other by the loss of all of her committee assignments in the Senate.

The reason the GOP didn’t want to play in the investigation was so they could claim that the Congressional investigation was a partisan political attack by Democrats on Republicans. That didn’t work and so Mafia Don didn’t have any allies on the committee to feed him inside information and, well, the majority of the witnesses so far have been Republicans, not only Republicans but conservative Republicans who wanted to see Donald Trump re-elected. So, “The Don” isn’t complaining about RINOs. These are good, solid Republican officials trying to do the right thing.

After watching the hearings yesterday, June 23rd, I was impressed that none of the witnesses criticized Mr. Trump. Not one word about or any attack on his person at all. They all stuck to the facts and offered no opinions on the President’s behavior/actions. That they were capable of such attacks was evident in their comments regarding Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark who was excoriated for breaking DOJ rules, his own promises, and attempting to step up to Acting Attorney General despite not having the qualifications for the post, simply based upon Mr. Clark’s willingness to do the President’s bidding.

Mr. Clark might have been someone willing to stand up for the Ex-president but he was too busy claiming his Fifth Amendment right against incriminating himself, reportedly well over 100 times when he was questioned by the committee’s staff.

The Law of Unintended Consequences—unbeaten, untied, and still champion!

Freedom!! Freedom!!

The GOP advanced their Freedom Agenda today, when their hand-picked Supreme Court Justices overturned Roe v. Wade which established abortion as a valid option for pregnant women everywhere in the country.

By voiding Roe, the GOP’s minions have established their small government, freedom loving vision upon the country. The government is expected to stay out of the private lives of citizens . . . , uh, well, except when a woman gets pregnant and the state steps in and exercises control over that woman’s uterus.

No other organ is thus “protected” by the state. The state (federal or local) cannot require you to accept an organ transplant, nor require you to donate any of your organs to another (even blood). The state cannot require you to protect your heart and lungs by not smoking. But uteruses, well, they’re special, you see.

And while the SCOTUS justices may have been correct that the constitution right to privacy may not be the shield Roe needed, there is this small matter of . . . the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” So women are secure in their persons, except when the anti-abortion states step in and exercise control over their uteruses. And determining that a woman is pregnant, how is that not an illegal search? How does that make any sense at all? And what about “equal protection” of the law? The Fourteenth Amendment states that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” but that apparently doesn’t apply to the United States collectively. So, in the United States, a women will get an abortion in one state and be arrested and tried for murder, but another woman, just on the other side of the state line, will get an abortion, paid for by her insurance company. This will happen because the U.S. itself doesn’t provide equal protection under the law.

Clearly the current crop of SCOTUS ne’er-do-wells were just looking for legal-schmegal language cover for what they wanted to do for their religiously inspired agendas.

The Republicans orchestrated this. The only solution is to vote them out, vote them all out.

June 21, 2022

Ex-President “Mafia Don” Trump

I was watching the Congressional hearings into the Attack on the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 today. I had some revelations.

One is that there are a great many honest, good, hard-working public servants out there, trying to do a good job for the rest of us. This is one reason I bristle when people attack “the government” as if it were some sort of alien attack force. It isn’t. It is just “us, aka We the People, acting collectively.” If it is not behaving as we would wish, it is up to us to correct those behaviors as they are representing us.

Republicans have countered that these hearings are partisan and, well, they are. So far, we seem to have heard the testimony of only Republicans. Definitely not fair and balanced. And, I do notice that none of the “push back” by Republicans consists of them claiming the facts are wrong or “President Trump didn’t do that,” or really anything of substance.

I was especially appalled at the Trump apparatus giving out the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of many of the state officials they were trying to subvert, including lowly poll workers. In one case, they gave out this sensitive information for the grandmother of one such poll worker. The 70+ year-old grandmother then receive threats from armed thugs at her front door and received a great many spurious pizza deliveries during the night that she didn’t order. What did Mr. Trump and his goons think was going to happen when they gave out that information? Did they expect deliveries of Girl Scout cookies? I think they knew exactly the kind of harassment that would flow out toward those people, which makes Mafia Don Trump and his minions the most despicable of people.

The committee also played excerpts of Mr. Trump haranguing state election officials in a manner that sounded as if he were auditioning for an acting job on the Sopranos reboot. What a thug.

June 2, 2022

The GOP’s Climate Change Strategy

The GOP has a simple strategy regarding any action to be taken to stem climate change: it is too expensive! Basically, they claim it will cost too much (and besides the scientific data are weak). Well, the scientific data are not weak. And, yes it will be expensive. But allow me an analogy to explain why “it will cost too much” is not an adequate defense.

Let us say that you noticed a strange odor in your basement and when you investigated you found what looked like a leak in your sewage pipes. So, you called a plumber and got an estimate and who boy! That was way too much money to pay for a repair. So, you decided that you would do nothing and hope for the best.

I assume you can guess what happens, sooner or later. A major sewage leak causes your entire basement to need cleaning by a professional service, along with an even higher plumbing bill.

Dealing with climate change now will be expensive. It will require some changes in our lives. But it will never be cheaper in the future. And, if you think that a techno-fix will solve the problem easily in the future, you haven’t been paying attention. Any number of techno-fixes have been suggested to date. None have been implement. Why? Take a guess . . . they were too expensive.

Remember the car repair commercial in which the greasy mechanic drops the line “Well, you can pay me now or pay me later”? The implication is that if you don’t fix your car now, it will cost more later. A transmission service now could stave off a transmission replacement later. A valve job now may stave off an engine replacement later, etc.

The cost of dealing with climate change just keeps going up. Waiting will not make dealing with it any less expensive.

So, the GOP’s rational for doing nothing is bogus, so why are they doing it? Well, their paymasters are making so much money under the current system to allow the boat to be rocked. So, like the NRA, they nix any legislation that will fix all or part of the problem.

June 1, 2022

Guns Don’t Kill People, . . .

The is some irrefutable logic in the gun violence story of the U.S. For example, research shows that the number of children killed by guns in the US is 36.5 times higher than in other high income countries. However, European societies that come close to US rates of gun ownership, in terms of gun owners per 100 people, such as Finland and Norway, are among the safest societies internationally with regards to gun violence.

The NRA has had a meme for quite a long time and it was “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” I think they have been proven right.

As a consequence, the vast majority of Americans cannot be trusted with a gun, a weapon optimized for killing things. Just as we would be horrified if we saw a toddler with a screwdriver fiddling with an electrical socket, or climbing up onto the top of a hot stove, we should be equally horrified at ordinary Americans with a gun in their hands. Just as ordinary toddlers cannot be trusted in many unsafe situations, ordinary Americans cannot be so trusted either. The Finns and the Nordmenn have shown that they are trustworthy, but American yahoos just love trigger pulling and if people die, well, they should have had better return fire. The number of Americans who can actually be trusted to have a gun in their hands is very, very small and gun ownership laws should restrict gun ownership to these people. For hunters, guns should be restricted to holding two cartridges at the same time. If you go “bang, bang,” you have to reload. You don’t need a machine gun or semiautomatic, 30-cartridge capacity rifle to take down a deer or a dove. If you need more than two shots, you need to practice more. If a local ordinance forbids the firing of firearms in a community’s boundaries, owners of said firearms need to store them “off the premises,” so to speak, at an armory or repository at a gun range, etc. And nobody needs high capacity semi-auto firepower. The self-defense justifications for these weapons are just sad and stupid.

Criminals using firearms to commit crimes need to have the full weight of the law fall on their shoulders. Even if an unloaded gun or a realistic toy gun is used as a threat, the punishment should be the same as had it been real, loaded, etc.

And, no guns in Texas at all. Texans cannot be trusted with owning guns. (Proof: Ted Cruz.)

In countries in which gun ownership is restricted to those who can be trusted, there are not ongoing harvesting of school children and political minority groups. Imagine that.

Remember—guns don’t kill people, people kill people. And so we must restrict gun ownership to those disinclined to kill people, which is really a very few. Many of whom would official, trained members of state militias, presumably held to very high standards when it came to handling their guns (as the Constitution Framers desired).

May 24, 2022

Solutions to Republicans Concerns

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 1:05 pm
Tags: ,

Instead of sweeping their problems under a rug, solutions to the societal ills claimed by Republicans don’t seem to be so difficult, but I guess that they have given up on trying to solve problems. Maybe this will get them started again.

Critical Race Theory
For parents concerned with critical race theory distorting their children’s sense of patriotism, well CRT is only taught in law schools, so—Solution: Don’t send your child to law school.

Voter Fraud
For GOPers worried about the effects of voter fraud, the usual solutions are available—Solution: make voter fraud a capital crime subject to the death penalty. Since GOPers think the death penalty is a deterrent to crime, that should about reduced voter fraud to a small enough size that it can be drowned in a bathtub.

The Great Replacement Theory
This “theory” asserts that the Democrat Party is working assiduously to replace white voters with black and brown voters. The solution is obvious—Solution: Most corporations are run by old white guys who are typically Republicans. To make yourself irreplaceable, you just have to please your corporate bosses. They have a long history of avoiding hiring black and brown employees, plus why would people trained as field hands be comfortable in a corporate environment anyway?

Clearly abortion is just murder under a different name and contraception is second-hand murder, but there is a solution well within the grasp of any GOP member—Solution: Stop having sex. No sex, no pregnancies. No pregnancies, no abortions. This is absolutely foolproof.

If that is not acceptable, then legalize abortion, but only for black and brown mothers. The banning of abortions largely results in more black and brown babies, so this must be reversed. Contraception for black and brown people must also be kept legal, maybe even made mandatory.

The War on Christianity
It is also clear that Christianity is under attack. Some solidarity is needed. Even though Catholics are not True Christians™, they are tolerable in the form of Supreme Court Justices who vote the evangelical line. Solution: Then above and beyond that, all atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. must surrender their rights as citizens. Clearly they are un-American and form a threat to American Democracy. At best they should be tolerated as legal aliens (with no voting rights, of course).

Prayer in Schools
You will be shocked at how easy this problem is to solve! Solution: train Christian children to go to school and pray silently. Soon, the schools will be brimming with prayers. We can do the same for all local meetings of town councils and school boards, etc. Christians just need to show up and pray silently. The Lord will hear your prayers and overrule the Libtards!

This solution may be a tough pill to swallow but it is clear that—Solution: All forms of socialism need to be banned. Social security, gone. The post office, gone. The fire departments, gone (except the for profit ones, of course). Charity hospitals, gone. The military, all branches, gone. Public schools? Way gone! These changes must be implemented as soon as we construct replacements for these programs that are capitalistic.

This has gotten out of hand. Women don’t know their place anymore and it is creating anxiety. Solution: All women need to ask the man closest to them in their life for guidance. The men so asked, need to consult the Holy Bible (King James version, none of those false ones) and then make up the rest.

Since it is a well known fact that only Christians are moral (all the other religions can’t consult Jesus), all moral discussions must be centered upon Christian morality, and as soon as we can find a clear statement about what that is, we’ll be good to go.

Sex Education
This should be a graduate level university course (not taught in puny colleges), open only to Ph.D. candidates in the appropriate fields, of which currently there are none. Ignorance was good enough for our grandparents and parents, it should be good enough for us. You don’t see a shortage of people around now, do you?

Same-Sex Marriage
Since this is officially an abomination, mentions of it should only show up in the penal codes.

Bi-racial Marriage
Since this is officially an abomination, mentions of it should only show up in the penal codes. Exceptions will be made for Supreme Court Justices who will be grandfathered in.

Transgender Rights
Since God, He made them male and female in his own likeness (why god is such a strange dude is part of the mystery) there should be no such special treatment for people who are confused about their gender. Do we give special rights to people who were confused about high school algebra? No. So, same here.

We are not sure the controversy needs be taught. Creationism covers all of the bases so we see no need to include evolution, the fact or the theory.

School Choice
Vouchers and charter schools, especially if they aren’t run under government interference, are sure to be superior to the government schools we are now burdened with. If you can’t make a profit at something, then it is un-American, in this case Socialism! Extracting profits from school budgets just has to make them better! (Has to, has to, has to. . . .)

We need to double down on the War on Drugs, except those that are making fortunes for Big Pharma, of course. If we included those all of their donations to the GOP would dry up. Same for all of those donations from the private prisons we have been locking up those weed-smoking drug fiends for the last twenty years. Try to be sensible in discussing this emotional topic.

There, all solved. Wasn’t that simple?

May 12, 2022

Roe v. Wade Politics

I say fuck the GOP, and fuck the current SCOTUS. I also say fuck the Democrats because they decided that having a woman’s abortion rights in play was too important of a political football to be fixed, which they could have done long ago.

Lodging the Roe v. Wade decision in the privacy rights vaguely attested to in the Constitution was a mistake. They should have been lodged in the 4thAmendment to the Constitution, which begins “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

The states considering laws making anyone who leaves their state pregnant and returns not so to be a criminal will be violating the 4th Amendment. “Alright, lady, turn out your uterus.” Similarly any search of a woman as to their pregnancy is protected from government intrusion. Any ban on abortion pills involves the same problem. To prove their case, they would have to search for a pregnancy before and after the event, which is not allowed. People are to be “secure in their persons.”

May 11, 2022

Judicial Activism Unchecked

In the 1960’s, the real conservatives of the time railed against “judicial activism” which basically meant that courts were legislating from their benches. Well, if that were true, those prior justices were pikers compared to the current Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS).

There are a number of checks on judicial power, the Congresses ability to legislate, etc., but one of the foundational checks on judicial power is the principle of stare decisis.

Stare decisis is a legal doctrine that obligates courts to follow historical cases when making a ruling on a similar case. Stare decisis ensures that cases with similar scenarios and facts are approached in the same way. Simply put, it binds courts to follow legal precedents set by previous decisions. Of course, following this principle, like so many things involving the SCOTUS, is voluntary. (Unlike all lower courts, for example, SCOTUS has no ethics code.)

Just to be complete, a precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive without going to courts for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts. (Source: Wikipedia)

Now, here’s the kicker: if the wording “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start” in the leaked Alito opinion remains intact in the final opinion, it basically creates a precedent that precedent no longer exists. It would effectively kill off the legal doctrine of stare decisis as a check on judicial power. All that would be necessary for the court to take off in any direction it wants is to declare that all of the precedents are flawed.

This is not a scare tactic. The court has been blowing off precedents in droves lately. In the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which declared that corporations had the right to donate unlimited amounts of money to political entities, but not candidates or parties, and that money was a form of political speech and so is protected under the First Amendment, the court actually sought out such a case and ignored a great many precedents in ruling on it. Same goes for (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) which added to the concept that corporations are legally people with the right of free speech, to include that they have religious rights.

Some basic impossibilities are involved here. In the Hobby Lobby decision, the religious beliefs of a corporations owners were decided to be in play. While this may be the case for private corporations, what about pubic corporations? Are not all of the shareholders co-owners of the corporation? Would not any action in this arena therefore require a poll of the shareholders? Have you heard of such a thing?

In Citizen’s United decision, what is this “person” who has these political rights? Is it the owner(s) or just the CEO? Is it the Board of Directors? And, wouldn’t those people also have personal political rights? So, they are creating a class of citizen that isn’t in the “one man, one vote” class. These citizens have multiple votes and multiple channels of free speech. Could not the corporation grant the CEO a “bonus” (for performance, of course, wink, wink, nudge, nudge) which then gets donated to this or that candidate (which the corporation cannot do directly)?

Talk about creating an unnecessary nest of snakes. A fiction created in the 19th Century to facilitate corporations (actually to privilege them) is being turned into an über-citizen creation device. The SCOTUS has been pro-business in the extreme for a long time and we have no reason to believe they will not continue on that path. So, this is by far not the limit of their activism; they are just getting warmed up.

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