The First Debate

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on October 1, 2020

The Angels sat this one out: I watched the entire debate because, and only because, this is such an important election. I have two take aways. First, this event will not change many minds. This is a clear reflection of the two candidates and opinions of them are already almost completely baked in. Besides, voting has already begun.

Second, without picking sides, it is clear that this debate format isn’t working.

Both of these are good reasons not to have another debate, and absent a change in format, or at least technology, Biden shouldn’t do any more, and I certainly won’t watch any more.

Did Trump plan this approach, or could he just not control himself? (Some insiders say he took a completely different tack than the one rehearsed in his debate prepping.)

I suspect Trump knows exactly what he is doing. He knows he can’t win a fair and free election and has given up trying. He is planning what comes after November 3 and is setting us up for it by sowing chaos wherever he can. Either way, debates such as the first one can’t be repeated. Options:

Forget debate. Just let the candidates talk on a subject for two minutes each with one-minute rebuttals, uninterrupted. And have some mechanism(s) to thwart interruptions.

In professional bass fishing, if a fisherman (they’re all men presently), catches a fish and it touches the deck of the boat while being brought on board or being unhooked, the fisherman loses two minutes of fishing time, which can be a meaningful penalty. The debate could adopt the same rule and if a debater interrupts, he loses a two-minute turn.

Also, the moderator should have control of the mics and turn off the one of the candidate who isn’t supposed to talk, or at least have a kill switch. If the debater’s mic is off and he talks even without one, he still loses his two minutes.

The Trump campaign is resisting rules changes, but they are on sandy soil. What good are the current rules if the campaign can’t muzzle their cur? Trump agreed to the present rules and then ignored them. The mic control and kill switch is probably the best option. Call is an anti-bloviator switch.

On the whole, I could do without any more debates. It’s embarrassing for other countries to see our president behave like this. But I suppose other world leaders already have baked in opinions about the candidates also.

BTW, I do not fault Chris Wallace for this debacle. He tried his best to get the debaters to follow the rules, but Trump doesn’t follow rules, and when he broke them, Wallace was powerless to stop the big orange bully.

To Blog or Not to Blog

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on February 25, 2019

A decision point is at hand: to blog or not to blog. The annual fee to retain my domain is coming due or I will lose it. Frankly, I’m ambivalent. I haven’t been blogging much since Cynthia died, and blogging, nor much of anything else, hasn’t seemed as important to me since she passed away. On the other hand, there’s a lot of disgusting stuff going on about which to bitch and moan.

I’ve decided to continue the blog until the next presidential election in 2020, and retire the domain thereafter, whatever the election’s result. During this time, I intend to write about threatened rights, such as freedom of speech and privacy, beginning below.

My position as an absolutist regarding freedom of speech is being challenged currently. There’s some particularly disgusting speech being thrown around today. Hate speech, politically motivated lies to frighten or motivate voters generated by bots, out and out lies about just about everything  from President Trump and resurrected, unfortunate comments about race and gender by public figures made years ago, to name just a few.

Which brings me to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who posted a picture of himself in blackface on his medical school yearbook page. Many have called for him to resign over it. I support Governor Northam’s refusal to do so for three reasons relating largely to freedom of speech issues.

First, there is nothing illegal about wearing blackface. It’s offensive, it’s stupid and it’s antiquated, but it does not rise to a high crime, nor even a misdemeanor. For that matter, it’s not a crime to be a bigot, even if Northam were one, which I doubt, because…

Two, in public office, Northam’s actual deeds have been liberal and in my view enlightened on social issues. He has evinced little if any bigotry or xenophobia. In fact, just the opposite. He has, for example, supported moving Confederate statues and monuments from the public square to a museum, which is where they belong.

Finally, popular opinion has changed dramatically, and for the better, since Northam was in medical school. In this new environment, the 80s seem a long time ago, in absolute years (30), and certainly in the light years speed of social change. I’m not comfortable judging peoples’ past remarks and behavior by present standards, particularly when current behavior is so much more enlightened. We grow.

Accusations regarding Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax are a different story. He’s accused of sexual assault, an actual crime. I’m still uncomfortable about judging people’s past deeds in a period when attitudes are changing rapidly, but a crime is a crime, and just because it may have been ignored or tolerated in the past doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be enforced now. If charges against Fairfax are proven, I think he should go.

I don’t know enough about Virginia’s Attorney General, who is also being looked at askance due to earlier behavior, to comment on his situation, but it sniffs of overwrought political correctness from this distance.

No mas, at least for a while longer

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on October 21, 2018

In my last political blog, when I wrote that I was taking a news break, I said I would consider re-engaging in commentary around October 15. This is not going to happen. The news is actually more disgusting now than when I stepped back, and I want no part of it. Perhaps after the election, depending upon the results.

That said, I do have a few brief observations, due to the impossibility of evading the news entirely.

Saudi Arabia is not our friend, and never was. As with their own people, the family buys us, which with our current president is extremely easy. He is a more venal president than Harding.

Saudi Arabia is as primitive and barbaric and mendacious as North Korea, only with oil. The reason the Saudi Prince had a nuisance journalist murdered and dismembered on foreign soil is because he saw Russia do it and Trump not say a peep about it, so he concluded he could get away with it too. In Trump’s mind, this kind of extraterritorial assassination, particularly of media members and inconvenient opposition, is no biggie.

Our national debt rose 17% in the last fiscal year, thanks to Trump’s corporate tax cuts and gift to the wealthiest among us. The deficit will leap again next fiscal year, just as every respectable economist and fiscal analyst, or anyone with any common sense, predicted. Republicans will want your Social Security and Medicare to pay for it, and make you poorer still.

Susan Collins is the new Jeff Flake. She speaks with feigned sensibly then votes like an insensitive thug.

If you hire a workforce whose job requirements include that employees must be male and remain celibate throughout their careers and beyond, you will attract a large number of applicants with serious sexual identity and confliction issues. If you then put those employees in charge of working with young people, you will preordain the mess that the Catholic Church has created for itself. It’s beyond stupid and the solution is obvious, though non-biblical, apparently.

Immigrants and refugees are two different things. Those who exploit ignorant xenophobes and racists conflate the two.

Afghanistan is a pile of rocks. These rocks – the minerals nor the inhabitants – can be defeated or rehabilitated, and are not worth fighting over for a minute. The blood of every American soldier who has died there is on the hands of our government and ourselves, going back to the George W. Bush administration.

A pot dispensary is analogous to a liquor store, no more, no less.

Our president is a horse part.



John McCain

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on August 28, 2018

John McCain, one of my own personal senators, passed away last weekend, so I feel I should write something about him. In these circumstances, the Shakespearian “Mark Anthony” rule typically applies, but I have written about McCain before, so in the interest of intellectual consistency, these remarks cannot be all praise. I refer to him as the senior senile senator from Arizona, for crying out loud. But let’s begin with the praise.

McCain behaved as a true patriot and statesman regarding the Vietnam War, which gave him some significant moral suasion with me:

When he was offered release from a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp, where he was being tortured regularly, he refused to leave until his men were released also, so there he remained there until the end of the war. That is pure courage and heroism.

Thereafter, he opposed President George W. Bush regarding our own torture of prisoners of war, and bless him for that.

Likewise, he was among the first public figures to argue for reconciliation and return to normal relations with Vietnam after the war. A lesser man would have remained angry and vengeful, but McCain was able to look forward.

Later, at a campaign event against Barak Obama in the 2008 election, he politely corrected an ignorant, wretched woman, a religiously intolerant xenophobe, who called Obama an Arab, but she meant Muslim and nigger, and said Obama was a decent man, when it was clear the Republican base didn’t feel that way at all. That took political courage and decency.

Finally, among his very last votes in the Senate, he put an end to Republicans’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Now to the unpraiseworthy stuff. McCain was not a Maverick, but a garden variety right wing conservative until circa 2000. But after he was smeared viciously by President Bush in the South Carolina primary, he sensed where the wind was blowing in the Republican Party and shifted to the rabid right, remaining there, with the ACA vote exception, for the rest of his life.

McCain never saw a war he didn’t approve of, or want to join or to start. He stood shoulder to shoulder with John Bolton in this regard (Senator Lindsay Graham sat at McCain’s feet). As head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he saw the answer to every problem as a war.

Campaigning for the presidency against Barak Obama, he selected for his Vice Presidential running mate Sarah Palin, a women as unfit for the office of president, should it have come to that, as its current occupant. It was an unconscionable decision.

And on his very last important vote in the Senate, McCain supported the odious tax cuts that enriched himself and a very small number of other extremely rich people at the expense of the general American population. Hardly a principled vote.

That is both sides of my view of Senator McCain.




What will it take to break the fever?

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on August 16, 2018

Forget about achieving bipartisanship. What will it take to end the febrile animosity between the parties enough to get something, anything, constructive, logical, and reasonably farsighted done?

I’m not even sure where all this began, but I have a theory. Some say it began with the Vietnam War; some say the murders of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr.; and some point to Nixon and the Watergate scandal, all of which damaged our trust in our institutions, and they should have.

The Roe v Wade decision in 1973 certainly animated religious conservatives.

“Women’s lib” unsettled a lot of misogynistic, self-satisfied males. Then there’s income inequality, which began up-ticking circa 1980, when President Reagan told us greed is good, and many were stupid enough to believe him.

Some think it’s the dawning on us of the realities of (inevitable) globalization. President Clinton’s alpha male indiscretions off put many, even though he was a popular, successful president, and somehow this offense was transferred over to his wife, who has suffered for it.

And, of course, the flashpoint today is fear of the increase of Hispanics in the country and their influence on our culture.

But we’ve had all of these issues before – turmoil over wars, poor presidents, economic disruption and scandal (remember the Gilded Age?) and immigration fears – without such fever for so long.

The answer seems to me that these events were as kindling piled one piece on another over time, which were ignited by the election of Barak Obama. A black man in the white house was the last straw for some people.

The resulting revulsion put an egregiously unqualified man in the white house instead, one deplored by the majority but adored by a base of very angry people. A big chuck of this base, demographically, are white, uneducated males and their mates and, to put mildly and politely, religious conservatives (read wingnuts). In other words, the base got one of its own, or at least someone who talked and acted like one.

It is clear to me that I am a part of the problem. I do not respect these people. I don’t like ignorance, particularly determined ignorance; or bigotry, or misogyny, or xenophobia. I just don’t like people who think like that – in fact, I loathe and despise them – and I look down on them, which they obviously sense and resent from people like me.

That said, there is no doubt that both major political parties have failed these fellow citizens. But they have also failed themselves, particularly in regard to education.

Most civil wars – for that is what this vicious polarization has become – end from exhaustion. Both sides just wear themselves out fighting to the death over every little issue, however trivial, until things just melt down. (Frankly, I’m pretty sure that most people don’t really want this nonsense to continue any longer, already.)

Maybe that will happen here, but I’m skeptical it will happen soon. I anticipate a reaction to the antics of the current administration in November, but if that occurs, it won’t make Trump’s base any less angry. Channeling Punxsutawney Phil, it will just forecast six more years of contention.

But by then, I think something else will occur to alter our distasteful stalemate: the demographic shift that is already well underway, inexorable, and irreversible, will begin to swamp the current reactionary thrust. Politicians will recognize it and react to it or perish, just as they did when blacks became a dominant voting population in the south.

The Trump administration and its minions, especially Fox News, conflate immigration and “illegal” immigration to stoke xenophobic impulses. So called “illegal” immigrants can’t vote. They are no threat to politicians, only a convenient target. Immigrant citizens, on the other hand, are a growing, necessary fact, and I do not think they – legal, voting immigrants – will forget how they are being characterized by Republicans today, for a long time. (Likewise, I think Republican black voters will be counted on the fingers of one hand forever after Trump. Ditto, Asians.)

We need immigrants. We need skilled immigrants and unskilled one, and we sure as hell aren’t going to attract them from Norway. First, there aren’t enough Norwegian immigrants to meet our demand (though there were many in the 1800s). And second, who in his right mind would migrate here from Norway in this political environment? On the other hand, I would move there in a heartbeat myself if it weren’t so damn cold.

When we were in college together, a dear friend opined that he would be glad when we are all the same shade of brown. He has forgotten that observation, but I remember it vividly, and I understand and agree with his sentiment, which was to see an end to racial turmoil.  But I don’t want us all to be the same shade. It’s too monotonous, not to mention monotone. I welcome the diversity, now more than ever, and I think that, in the long term, it will ultimately break the fever.

Our Democracy under stress

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on July 27, 2018

Many historians, politicians and pundits are saying that, on the whole, our institutions and our democracy are holding up against the onslaught of the Trump administration. Presidential historian Jon Meacham’s new book, and Meacham himself in interviews, says we have had better times than this certainly, but we have also had worse times than this and gotten through them.

I am skeptical of this opinion on both sides of it. I can’t think of a worse time, and I’m not confident we are going to get through this one undamaged.

Our system of government is structured with three branches designed to create checks and balances on each other, but it just isn’t happening, is it?

Our Legislative Branch hasn’t functioned credibly for about two decades. It is paralyzed by cowardice and partisanship. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it panicked and cowered and let President Bush lead us into a disastrous war and ruin the global economy without so much as a whimper of dissent or a modicum of rational discussion, let alone action.

When President Obama was elected and succeeded in enacting Obamacare, Republicans gained control of Congress and spent six years in complete opposition and obstruction to anything Obama proposed thereafter, regardless of merit, with the result that little got done, and what did get done was done by executive action, which filled the vacuum somewhat, but was not what the Constitution intended.

The low point of Legislative Branch malfeasance occurred when Senate Leader Mitch McConnell denied Obama the right to perform his duty to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, which not only abused the Constitution at the expense of the Senate’s integrity, but damaged the credibility of the Supreme Court as well.

This was a truly dastardly deed, and while popular with conservatives today, will be looked on historically as a monumental disgrace. I think McConnell will ultimately be placed in the sedimentary layer of Senatorial history along with Calhoun, Helms, Eastman and Thurmond, that level of ignoble quality.

Today’s Republican controlled legislature has done exactly four things since President Trump was elected: kiss Trump’s ring after each assault he has made on our institutions, fill the Supreme Court vacancy McConnell stole, name some post offices and pass a tax cut that gave all our money to the very richest of us, will send the national debt through the ceiling and our economy into a ditch deeper than even George Bush could manage, and leave us no money with to do anything else, however important.

The Judicial Branch no longer functions as a judiciary at all. Judges are appointed on the basis of political ideology rather than merit, like the patronage system of the 18th and early 19th centuries, and the Supreme Court since Antonin Scalia, is as completely committed to partisan politics as the Legislative Branch.

For their part, the Senate now tends to vote on nominees along party lines.

Dahlia Lithwick, who writes about the Court and whose work I enjoy reading on, opines that Chief Justice John Roberts avoids though cases and prefers very narrow rulings to avoid the partisan heat of the times, but that in so doing is leaking the Court’s credibility with his caution. In my view, this is true, but it is also apparent that when it does rule on major issues, it rules radically and unfeelingly to the right at the expense of the will of the majority of average citizens and the Constitution.

Years ago, it occurred to me we shouldn’t depend on the courts so much, and focus on the legislative branch. Going to the Court was like going to mama to tattle. Things work out best when Congress, not the courts, make the call. When everyone feels they – at least through their representative – had a vote, decisions are more agreeably accepted.

I still believe that, but, sadly, about the time I reached this conclusion, Congress went into its current state of cowardly paralysis, too fearful take a vote on anything. The House, which has the sole authority to declare war, has  yet to vote on a war resolution  regarding Afghanistan, though President Bush began the war unilaterally 17 years ago in October, 2001, and President Obama specifically asked for that authority without response.

But, I still can’t see going back to this Court. I don’t trust it to do anything but swing more and more wildly to the right and decades farther back into the past.

Then, we come to the Executive Branch, which statistically is now the worst branch of them all. In the 21st Century, just 18 years in, we have elected, without a majority of the popular vote but via the Electoral College, perhaps the two worst presidents in our history. Bush is solidly the worst, but Trump may overtake him before he is finished.

To sum up, our government is failing Democracy 101, (despite heroic efforts by our Fourth Estate), and there are just two tests left for it to improve to a passing grade.

The first is the Mueller investigation – what, if anything, it finds, and how we as a country react to the findings. The second is the November mid-term elections. If ever a course correction were needed, this is the time. If none occurs, it is a short steep slope to the end.

I suppose some other event could blossom from a pop quiz into a full blown test, such as a Republican or two saying “Enough,” but I don’t expect it.

My  best hope, and frankly my expectation (keep in mind  that I expected Clinton to win the presidential election) is that the Democrats will win the House, subpoena Trump’s tax returns, which will show that not only has Trump been engaging in tax fraud for years, but has been laundering money for Russia. It’s the only way to explain Trumps’ behavior toward Russia. Putin has him by the legal scrotum.


Re-thinking Roe v Wade

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on July 11, 2018

Frankly, I’m sick to death of hearing about Roe v Wade. (Of course, I am only a man, and I don’t have a vagina at risk.) Abortion is the craziest, bloodiest most irrational battle in the culture wars, and has been raging ever more viciously since the Supreme Court handed down the decision in 1973. Skirmishes are unceasing, and every one incites more outrage on both sides.

For the record, I am a firm believer in abortions being available to those who choose to have them. More precisely, I believe people should have peace and privacy when making such a difficult decision.  Since Row was decided on privacy grounds, I think it was rightly decided, but the situation is complicated.

To me, this is a no brainer. I’m old enough to have seen what it was like before abortions became legally available nationally, and some of the results were tragic: unwanted children; forced marriages (which have doubtless contributed to a higher divorce rate); unaffordable children, which can throw people into poverty and bind them there; deformed and mentally deficient children, which are in the best of circumstances an enormous drain on social resources and capable of overwhelming families; and risky, dangerous, sometimes fatal illegal abortions in unsafe circumstances.

The counter arguments are based, in my view, on absolutist interpretations of an antiquated text, and a mean-spirited desire to punish those who commit the unpardonable sins of being pregnant, poor and colored. I would say to those holding such opinions, if you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one. Just don’t deny them to those who do.

Full disclosure: I’ve been the sperm contributor in a few abortions myself, though none of them illegal. Also, having lived in the 60s and early 70s in Oklahoma and Indiana – two determinedly hidebound states – while in college, and then living in New York, NY where abortions were legal before 1973, I hosted friends at my place during their trips there to have an abortion in a safe hospital.

The Supreme Court is, despite the myth, at heart political. To remain relevant, it must move with the times to accommodate changes in the public will, and deal with issues unimagined by the Constitution’s authors. Generally, though not always, the Court moves as there is enough public sentiment regarding its decisions to approve, or at least accept, with perhaps some grumbling, but no rebellion.

However, Roe seems to have been decided when public sentiment was still extremely split, and much of the country simply wasn’t willing to live with the Supremes’ decision. Maybe, just maybe, the issue should have been left to percolate a little longer, though to be fair to the Supremes, at the time, majority opinion already favored abortion being available.

So, what might happen if Roe were overturned? I assume the Supremes would return the abortion question to the individual states, and not outlaw them entirely. The reaction to a national ban would be untenable.

With abortion left to the states to deal with, at first at least, almost half – 22 of them – will outlaw abortions entirely, or put so many restraints on them to render them unobtainable. So, the number of states on either side of the issue will be split, but not popular opinion. A significant majority of voters will still prefer abortion to be legal, and I would expect this majority to increase in the face of this new reality.

In states where abortions are prohibited, the demand for abortions will not cease. There will be anguish and scrambling around to find alternative places or methods to have them. There will be illegal abortions and there will be predictably tragic events.

There will also be greatly increased voter activation and resentment within both sets of states. It’s been a long time since Rowe v Wade became law. Perhaps many women have become complacent about abortions being nationally available, despite the obvious chipping away at them from the right. This might galvanize more women them into more aggressive action against anti-abortion legislators.

Many politicians have been skating on abortion, saying they oppose them to appease their conservative voters, but knowing that they are safe behind the Court’s decision not to have to vote on the issue. Once the decision is overturned, they may find themselves facing serious new opposition.  

Medical technology has advanced since 1973. There is better contraception and abortion pills. Like everything else, so called day after pills could be available through Amazon, which offers free delivery within two days with a Prime membership. Then, there’s always Canada’s pharmaceutical houses. They’re cheaper anyway. In any case, I see the market, and the black market, for these products skyrocketing.

Outlawing abortions will take some pressure off of organizations like Planned Parenthood. Now they will be able to provide other medical services to women without being hounded by crazies.

I see abortion clinics being set up in states where they are allowed right on the borders with states where they are not, making it easier in many cases for people in non-abortion states to get them relatively conveniently. (Of course, this won’t work with non-abortion states all of whose borders abut other non-abortion states.)

I can also see crowd sourcing sites – something else new since 1973 – gathering funds to help women in non-abortion states with the expenses required to travel to pro-abortion states to have one.

But mostly, I can see a lot of highly pissed off and motivated women making a lot of legislators’ lives a misery until the issue is addressed through meaningful legislative action at the national level, overriding the Court, instead of the other way around.

One final comment re: Roe v. Wade. The Wade in this case was a truly despicable piece of filth named Henry Wade, who was at the time a District Attorney of Dallas County, TX.  Wade, a vile racist, which is redundant as I think about it, dragged innocent blacks off the streets, seemingly at random, and tried them before often equally racist juries, or at least juries indifferent to justice in the case of blacks, and get them convicted of crimes they didn’t commit,

At least 15 such Wade’s convictions have been overturned with the advent of DNA evidence, and it is certain that other innocents suffered their entire sentences in prison. Some who were innocent of their crime likely were executed. I’m not a fan of anything vaguely related to Henry Wade.


Trump’s Second Supreme Court Nominee

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on July 7, 2018

President Trump has said he will announce his candidate to fill the Kennedy vacancy on the Supreme Court on Monday night, during a prime time TV spectacular. Given Trump’s shameless promotion proclivities and Miss America association, one might wonder if we’ll see a swimsuit competition among the candidates.

This blog is to put down thoughts about the process before the candidate is announced. These thoughts are informed by:

1.     My understanding of, and respect for the Constitution

2.     My recent realization that the Founding Fathers framed the Constitution assuming everyone would do his or her job, about which they are being proven wrong in the present day.

3.     History and experience.

I’m old enough to remember when Supreme Court Justices were selected based on particularly outstanding merit rather than ideology. Typically, the quality and character of the nominees was so great and so apparent, that the candidates were generally consented to by high percentages of the advising Senators, often unanimously.

Today, ideology, partisanship and “litmus tests” are the primary criteria for a nomination, and even qualified candidates, and the occasional one clearly not, get on the Court by small majority votes. Clarence Thomas is a smear on the history and standards of the Court. Samuel Alito. Are you kidding me?

There are differing opinions on where this shift began. Many presidents have nominated a clunker or two: Johnson (Abe Fortas); Nixon (Haynsworth and Carswell); Reagan (Bork and Ginsburg).

Presidents George H.W. Bush (Souter and Thomas), Clinton (Ginsburg and Breyer) and Barak Obama (Sotomayor and Kagan) had no Supreme Court nominee rejections, though Bush should never has nominated the truly mediocre Thomas in the first place.

The process descended into farce when George W. Bush nominated Harriet Meyers. But this downward spiral hit a nadir when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused even to hold hearings on President Obama’s third Supreme Court nominee – Merrick Garland – thus stealing an appointment from Obama and severely damaging the integrity of both the Senate and the Court in the process. I will never feel the same about either again. McConnell’s act was a doubly dastardly dirty deal, and that’s how history will record it.

Trump is certain to select a conservative nominee, one expected to be favorable to his initiatives, including even overturning Roe v Wade, which decision the Court handed down in 1973, and about which I will write more next week.

My only comment on Trump’s announced contestants on his game show, is that there is a dull, ordinary sameness to them, cookie cutter credentials, and no exceptionalism.

This nomination is happening while Democrats are still seething over the McConnell betrayal, and many Democrats want to do a tit for tat if they can, which is doubtful anyway. But this is the classic example of two wrongs only making a greater wrong, which is no way to treat the Constitution, just because some particularly smarmy pig part did.

Democrats must be better than that. Place the nominee or nominees, depending on how the process goes, under serious scrutiny. Some may crack. Some may surprise pleasantly. If they don’t display exceptionalism, vote against them. If they do, vote for them. Don’t vote either way for political convenience.

Live with the final decision – under the Constitution it is Trump’s to make – and take what comfort we can in these truths: 1) Trump, and his party, will be held to political account for his decision, which is likely to tickle his base but disturb and activate the majority of Americans, and 2) Ultimately, the Court does not decide. The people decide. Unpopular decisions change the Court, through popular consensus and political change. In the meantime, the Constitution is faithfully served by at least one political party.

Revisiting John McCain at Home

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on June 30, 2018

When Kelly Sadler, a minor minion in a disgraced White House communications department– said, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” reaction was immediate and furious. While Sadler’s comment was tasteless, insensitive and disrespectful, reaction to her comment was overblown.

For one thing, she is partially right. If McCain is too ill to return to Washington to cast a No vote, his opposition holds no physical weight, only a moral one. It would serve the White House right if Sadler’s remark inspired McCain to come to D.C. for a vote, but I think that is unlikely. No, John McCain is back home with us in Arizona, and likely to remain here. I expect we will be writing reflections about him soon.

What does matter about Sadler’s comment is this: First, it reflects the standards, practices and principles at the top of the organization – President Trump – which are low and meager, indeed. Sadler would not have made such a statement in a principled administration, and if she had, she would have been gone, or at least publically reprimanded.

(As it is, Sadler is going to carry this albatross around for the rest of her career, and perhaps even her obituary, though not at this White House. That may be enough punishment for her in the long run.)

Second, and even worse, precious few Senate Republicans, where and with whom John McCain has served long and honorably, if not always wisely in my view, have spoken publicly in support of their fellow senator and elder statesman, though it’s reported many are furious. They have left John McCain to fight his last battle alone, such is their cowardice and their disgrace.

As a practical political matter, Arizona is bereft of representation in the Senate. McCain is too ill to be there, and the aptly named Senator Flake is a lame duck. Flake has talked a good game since announcing his intention not to seek re-election, but in practice, he’s useless as teats on a boar hog. (The use of animal metaphor and simile is deliberate and apt.)

More thoughts on Immigration

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on June 20, 2018

Ross Douthat, the New York Times’ token conservative columnist, wrote some in the NYT Sunday edition something with which I agree, up to a point, and which, like me, he has been advocating for a long time.

(I respect Douthat, even though I seldom agree with his positions. He has a cogent, intellectually consistent personal philosophy and can articulate it clearly. Also, Douthat is capable of creative thinking, which is not to be found among typically ideological conservatives.)

Specifically, Douthat argues to strengthen the E-Verify system and mandate its use for every hiring. He opines this is less cruel than Trump’s current deterrence policy of separating children from their parents. Duh!

Immigration is like the drug trade, or any other classic supply and demand market. There is demand for drugs in the U.S., so people smuggle them in to meet it, at great risk. Likewise, there is a demand for labor (read job opportunities for immigrants) in the U.S., so people smuggle themselves in to meet it, at great risk. Cut off the demand – the jobs – and the supply – the immigrants – declines.

When I wrote above that I agree with Douthat up to a point, I did not mean that he has gone too far. Rather, I mean that he has not gone far enough. It is insufficient to leave it there.

First, there have to be real teeth in the E-Verify mandate. Employers who violate it must pay a heavy price, by which I mean jail, not fines.

Cutting off the supply of job opportunities is easy with a robust E-Verify law (though I would prefer a more robust, technologically advanced national identity card). The reason we don’t have one now is because many employers want the labor and the penalties for violation lie more heavily on the immigrants than the violating employers. Send a few business owners to jail, including some big agribusiness owners, and it will reduce employment opportunities for illegal immigrants to near zero rapidly.

Note: with this done, we won’t need is an expensive border wall. Control of the labor supply will render it superfluous. We can invest the money in national identity card technology.

So, now comes the tough part. We must still come to grips with how much immigration we want, and what kind, decisions that have bedeviled us for years. And, we must come to grips with the workers and their families who are already here, as well as the Dreamers, and children who are piling up at the border as I write. If something isn’t done about the child abuse we are inflicting on those children, President Trump’s prediction will come true. We will end up with a bunch of immigrants who may be socially unfit for our society when he is done with them.

(I had drafted something here about Trump’s intransigence, but it is out of date as of today. He has been, as always, playing to his base, which is among other things, virulently xenophobic. But that base is shrinking, at least at the margins (read suburbs and among mothers), and if Trump couldn’t see it, others in his party could, and took action. (I suspect what we were hearing from Republican Congresspersons in public is far different from what Trump was hearing in private.)

Perhaps this is the time to relate a personal experience. During an extremely acrimonious divorce, two of my children were withheld from me for a brief time – three weeks, maybe four or five; it seemed longer. Fortunately for me, justice prevailed quickly, but the experience was one of the two most painful and agonizing of my life. I can appreciate vividly how those parents whose children were taken from them feel.

Now we’re hearing that some of the parents and their children may never be able to be reunited, almost predictable given the incompetence of the Trump administration. If this is the case, some high ranking members in the administration need to go to jail, maybe for as long as those parents and children are suffering, which would be a long time indeed.

Immigration law is the job of our legislature, which, unfortunately, hasn’t been functioning for almost two decades for any purpose much beyond naming post offices. We must elect people willing and able to resolve this. (Perhaps the one and only bright spot in the Trump presidency is that it may shift the composition of the Legislative branch to the point it will fulfill its function again, but it is still a long shot.)

The solutions to our immigration policy are as obvious to me as I assume the solutions of the xenophobic Trump base are to them, and we are poles apart. But we must thrash this out. If it were easy, anybody could do it. Well, it’s not easy, so it will take capable people, of whom we have too few in Congress today. There are some out there. Let’s sift through the résumés carefully and hire better ones this November. Sadly, solutions may have to wait until then, maybe longer.