Dems Warn GOP on Kavanaugh Confirmation
This week, Brian Fallon, former press secretary on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, warned Republicans not to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, saying "they will pay dearly at the polls for putting a man accused of sexual assault in this high position."
"It's not as if sexual perverts are underrepresented on the Court," Fallon asserted. "They already have Clarence Thomas—an accused dirty talker—to protect their interests in cases coming before that august body. Do we really need to add an accused groper?"
Fallon pointed to the absence of proof of Kavanaugh's innocence, calling it "very telling that Judge Kavanaugh cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Dr. Ford's allegations are false. He lived in the general area and during the possible dates where and when the assault took place. The calendar of activities he offers in his defense is not comprehensive. It doesn't account for every minute of his time over the summer of 1982. Further, in as much as Dr. Ford isn't certain the attack didn't occur in 1981 or 1983, there are a wide array of other possible opportunities for sexual assault that cannot be ruled out."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) concurred in Fallon's analysis and added that "we need to keep in mind that it isn't just one woman who has accused Kavanaugh. Two others have come forward to point the finger at him. How many allegations do we need to hear before we are persuaded of this man's unfitness for office? If Kavanaugh had any decency he would withdraw himself from consideration."
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) argued that "I can't understand why my Republican colleagues don't comprehend how the rude comments Kavanaugh made about flatulence and barfing in his high school yearbook disqualify him. This kind of immature behavior is not something we should tolerate from a man who aspires to sit on the highest court."
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) contended that "Mr. Kavanaugh's anger over the allegations displayed a temperament inappropriate to what is expected of a Supreme Court Justice. Compare this with the calm demeanor demonstrated by President Obama'a appointees Sotomayor and Kagan during the hearings preceding their confirmations. This country doesn't need one more angry white man in a position of power. Voters can ensure this doesn't happen by electing Democrats to Congress who will put a stop to it."
Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore) announced he is filing suit to ask a court to bar the Senate from conducting a vote of Kavanaugh's confirmation "until a full record" is available. Asked to clarify what a "full record" entails, the Senator replied "I'll know it when I see it. There are millions of pages of documents that Kavanaugh has touched in his career as a Bush Administration official and appeals court judge. I think it is only fair that the court hold up the confirmation process until these documents are fully reviewed and analyzed."
Taxes Cost More than Food & Clothing
Bureau of Labor Statistic's data on consumer expenditures for 2017 reveal that the average non-welfare-dependent family had to pay more in taxes ($16,749) than they did for food and clothing combined ($9,562). The 2017 tax burden was down from 2016's $17,153.
Reactions to this data split along partisan lines. The Trump Administration lamented the continuing high tax burden, but took some encouragement from the decline from 2016 to 2017. Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow acknowledged that "reducing the tax burden is an essential step in the President's effort to revitalize the US economy. It's a shame that the government takes such a large share of every wage-earner's income. The modest progress we've made so far at least puts us on the right path."
Democrats have a different perspective. "What Republicans aren't telling voters is that a significant portion of the taxes go toward buying food and clothing for people who are unwilling or unable to buy it for themselves," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said. "This is the 'social safety net' that was initiated by FDR's New Deal back in the 1930s. Do voters really want to undo that deal? Is keeping a few hundred more dollars a year from your salary more important than being your brother's keeper? We're confident that Trump's plan will be repudiated at the polls. Voters know that Democrats can be trusted to make better use of the nation's scarce resources than the greedy individuals who clamor for tax cuts."
New Immigration Standard Called "Unfair"
The Trump Administration's new standard requiring immigrants seeking permanent residence to demonstrate they will not become welfare-dependent was assailed by top Democrats as "fundamentally unfair." The new rule would require that would-be new residents have the demonstrated ability to earn an income greater than 250% of the poverty level. Over the last five years more than 70% of immigrants from Latin America fell short of this standard. In contrast, more than 70% of immigrants from Asia met the standard.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) charged that "it is the height of selfishness for a rich country like America to want to restrict the entry of indigent people across the globe from access to their rightful share of the Earth's bounty. Our Statue of Liberty explicitly invites the poor and tired to come here. This latest attempt to require arrivals to be self-supporting reneges on this promise."
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) saw an even more "sinister scheme to suppress Democratic votes. The right of people to elect representatives who will redistribute wealth from the haves to the have-nots is a fundamental principle of democracy. The restrictions Trump wants to place on who will be admitted as permanent residents violates this principle. The kind of self-sufficient people Trump's immigration policy would favor are likely Republican voters. I don't see how the courts could possibly allow this politically discriminatory new rule to stand."
Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen wondered whether the policy "may be racist in intent. Racial minorities are disproportionately represented within the lower income groups. A rule that favors the self-supporting would tilt immigration away from Latinos and toward whites and those, like Asians, who act white. In my view this seems to violate the 14th Amendment."
1st Amendment Protects Harassment
CNN host and legal expert Don Lemon chided Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex) for objecting to being harassed and threatened in public last week. Out for dinner at the DC restaurant Fiola, Cruz and his wife were accosted by activists from a group called Smash Racism. This group deems it their right to "disrupt the peace of right-wing scum." Cruz and his wife temporarily left the restaurant and reentered later via the back door. Smash Racism has since added Fiola's to their list of "right-wing scum," warning the owner and his employees that "you are not safe."
Lemon contended that "this type of citizen feedback is what Cruz signed up for when he decided to run for public office. As a so-called 'strict constructionist' of the Constitution, the Senator is well aware that freedom of speech protects a citizen's right to approach him anytime and anywhere to air his grievances. There's nothing in the First Amendment that says the speech has to be polite or that it can't be loud."
"I think the kind of citizen activism shown by Smash Racism is healthy for our democracy," Lemon added. "We shouldn't expect everyone to feign tolerance for abhorrent views or politicians. An insistence that decorum must prevail favors the more educated. If knowledge and verbal skills are allowed to dominate, famed political debaters like Cruz will thrive. But this shuts out the ignorant and inarticulate whose main hope of being heard is to drown out those they disagree with. Maxine has it right. We need to show supporters of Trump that they are unwelcome anywhere, anytime in our democracy."
In related news, former President Obama bristled at the "passive aggression" shown toward him by young attendees at a recent speech of his and demanded that they "put down your damned phones and listen to me." The great irony here was that many of the phones in use were free "Obama phones" given out during his administration.
Old Soviet Excuse Recycled
This week Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) tried to blame bad weather for the population drain affecting his state. Marc Molinaro, his Republican opponent in the race for governor, pounced on the excuse and pointed out that "Stalin and the old Soviet Union said the same thing after their disastrous collectivization of farms led to a sharp decline in output and widespread famine."
"Weather is a variable that has always existed," Molinaro observed. "Individuals have coped with it for thousands of years. The capitalism and free markets that have prevailed across the United States have enabled individuals to mitigate and overcome difficult changes in the weather. The decline in population in our state is more related to the high taxes favored by the Democratic Party. Productive people are taking their brains and their capital to states that have lower taxes. If we want to retain the best and brightest in our state we need to copy the policies of the low-tax states, not concoct lane theories blaming the weather."
Cuomo sought to defend his contention by pointing out that "most of the states gaining population are warm-weather states. Since warm weather and low taxes seem to go together in the states gaining population, I defy anyone to prove that weather is not the primary cause of the population shift. I'm confident that voters will give me the benefit of the doubt when they go to the polls in November."
In related news, President Trump told a United Nations audience that "socialism and communism only produce suffering, corruption, and decay." The Washington Post's global opinions editor Karen Attiah called Trump's remarks "chilling. He's basically disrespecting the social systems chosen by most other countries around the world. I mean, just this week in Venezuela, President Maduro announced that taxes would be raised to astronomical levels to save the socialist revolution. So, even if we suppose Trump is right in his analysis, destroying another country's firmly held beliefs is no way to conduct diplomacy."
Woman Arrested for Saving Dogs & Cats
In North Carolina, Tammie Hedges rescued 27 dogs and cats from drowning when Hurricane Florence hit the state. She provided shelter, food, and medicine to animals fleeing the flooding. After the storm ended she turned the rescued animals over to government authorities who promptly arrested her for "operating a shelter without a license." She is currently out of jail on a $10,000 bond.
North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokesman, Henry Hoseman explained that "Ms. Hedges lacked the proper credentials to undertake the actions she took. She may have felt that she was doing the right thing, but she is not qualified to make that determination. We have rules for a reason. If we allow exceptions based on presumed extraordinary contingencies we open the door to an untold string of abuses and the inevitable tragedies that would ensue."
Hoseman discounted the value of saving these animals lives by pointing out that "our state is overrun with dogs and cats. The fate of a couple of dozen pales in comparison with our obligation to enforce the laws against unlicensed animal care. If we make an example of Ms. Hedges others may be deterred from similarly taking the law into their own hands."