Chief Justice John Roberts Moves Again Towards the Center

Supreme Court on 5-to-4 vote blocks restrictive Louisiana abortion law

By throwing his lot in with the Supreme Court liberals in yesterday’s 5 to 4 decision to block a Louisiana law that would have restricted access to a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion, Chief Justice John Roberts gave his latest signal, no doubt much to the dismay of conservatives, that he’s really not interested in having a court run on ideological guidelines.

It’s been long known that Chief Justice Roberts is more than well aware of history and how his role as chief justice will be viewed historically. The lyric from the musical Hamilton – “history has its eyes on you” – can be identified as the main theme for how Chief Justice Roberts sees his role. This seems to be especially true when it comes to long decided legal precedents. Roberts does not seem so interested in tossing the baby out with the bathwater just because the court seems less moderate and more right wing. In fact, you could describe the political views of the four very conservative justices as being more far-right than conservative.

This does not mean that Chief Justice Roberts will become the next David Souter on the court. Appointed by a conservative president, Souter went on to become one of the great liberal voices on the court during his tenure, much to the surprise and dismay of conservatives everywhere. Robert seems more headed towards the solid middle ground. He values balance more than anything else. If his court was to produce a long series of far-right decisions, it would be seen in the same ideological light as the liberal court of Earl Warren. Roberts does not seem interested in having a similar ideologically conservative label slapped on his tenure as Chief Justice.

As long as the current balance remains in the court, Chief Justice Roberts will play the role that Anthony Kennedy played for so long and Sandra Day O’Connor before him. While they tended to side with their conservative colleagues on most issues, they could not be counted on as a totally solid conservative vote and there would be times on certain important issues like reproductive choice or gay marriage when they would switch hats and vote with the liberal members of the court.

Conservatives, especially far-right conservative talking heads like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh, will be furious with Roberts because once again it looks as if their dreams of an overwhelmingly conservative court that will undo the progress that America has made in so many important issues will once again be put on the back burner. Roberts has already dealt with this with his vote on Obamacare and as we noted above, he cares more about the voice of history and he does with the voices of the far-right rabble.

For liberals, this also emphasizes the importance of the health of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the next two years. If Ginsburg were to die or be forced to resign because of health issues, Pres. Trump would no doubt appoint another far-right ideologically motivated justice that would swing the court very far to the right regardless of Chief Justice Roberts desire for more balanced court.

As an atheist, I don’t believe in prayer, but I’m superstitious enough to keep my fingers crossed that Justice Ginsburg will enjoy good health for at least the next two years and hopefully much longer. Chief Justice Roberts probably wishes the same.

Republicans Stand Behind Muslim Party Official in Texas

Texas County GOP Rejects Push to Oust Vice-Chairman Shahid Shafi Over His Muslim Faith

I actually find this story very encouraging. The fact that a group of Republicans wanted to remove Shadid Shafi from his position as the Vice Chairman of local Republican organization in the state’s third largest county because he is a Muslim is horrendous. The fact that he received so much support from fellow Republicans when the vote was held was wonderful. The effort to oust him failed miserably-139 votes for him and 49 against.

The argument used by his detractors was ridiculous. They argued that because he was a Muslim he could not represent all of the members of the Republican Party in the county. This is one step below these people arguing that you can’t elect Muslims to public office because they don’t represent all the people in their constituency. The problem with this argument, of course, is that it is too easy to turn on his head. Using their misguided, bigoted logic, you could then argue that anyone – Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, you name it – could not be elected to a position in the Republican party because they don’t represent everybody.

If you put Mr. Shafi and me in a room and asked us to state our political positions, we probably wouldn’t find that much in common. But I totally support his right as an American citizen to take part in the political process, regardless of his religious beliefs.

And kudos to Republicans in Texas for doing the right thing.

Wallace Takes Sanders to School and Stuffs Her Attempts to Lie About Terrorists at Border

Fox News’ Chris Wallace Shuts Down Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Claim About Terrorists Crossing Border

For the talking heads at Fox News, there is nothing that Pres. Donald Trump or anyone of his minions can say that will be refuted. For Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson or Jeanine Pirro, Trump et al. can lie at will and no one will bother to point out that they are lying.

But the Fox News “news” division are not lackeys. Their noses aren’t brown and they haven’t spent the past two years licking Trump’s boots. Today’s exchange between presidential press secretary and professional liar Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Fox News journalist Chris Wallace showed the dramatic difference between the real journalists who work at Fox News and the bootlickers. Sanders tried her very best to lie her butt off, but Wallace was prepared and would not let her do so.

That’s the weird thing about real facts. Whether you’re a liberal or a conservative, facts have a nasty way of showing you for the mendacious prevaricator that you are at heart.

How Russian Money Bailed Out Trump

How Russian Money Helped Save Trump’s Business

A great investigative piece by Foreign Policy that shows just how much Donald Trump owes to Russian oligarchs and banks.

As the early 90s, American banks were finished with Trump and his money-losing ways. He was a terrible businessman. As late as 2003 he was in desperate financial trouble and pressed his siblings to sell off his late father’s estate which Fred Trump had warned them not to do when he was alive. Then he declared bankruptcy again in 2004.

But Trump made a comeback largely due to an influx of foreign capital in particular from Russia.

But remember, he has no business dealing with Russia. The Donald told us so himself…

Faces of a new capitalism: How Millennials are embracing socialist values

I’m not sure why socialism is a “new capitalism,” but this is still a good piece from the Christian Science Monitor and spot on. As a longtime socialist myself (and a strong supporter of the NDP in Canada) I have seen much of this change in my own children and their friends. It’s been seven years since the Occupy Wall Street movement. While it didn’t make big inroads at the time, its ideas spread, particularly among young people.

On the one hand, you see the growth of corporations like Amazon, which has been tagged as being anti-worker for many of its practices. Yet even Amazon is paying its workers more money these days, attuned to the change in public perception about the way businesses treat workers.

There is something happening in the American economy. It’s not gonna happen all at once. But ten years from now the American economy will be a much socialist (in the Canadian or European model) as capitalist. Can’t happen fast enough for me.

Climate Change and Ostriches…Better Known as Republicans

Most Americans want action on climate change. Republicans are the exception: Poll

Recently my wife and I had a discussion about Republicans. Basically, I don’t like them very much. She said that we needed to be able to do more to work together than just branding people as one thing or another. I know that’s true but it’s so hard to do when you have results on such important issues like this one, where once again Republicans just bury their heads in the sand about an issue so important to humanity.

Most of the rest of the world knows about the reality of climate change. For a long time, too many Americans were just plain stupid about it. An issue that should reside outside of politics – you know, basically saving the world – became enmeshed in nothing but politics. So now if you’re a Republican and you support the president, throw common sense out the window and ignore the fact that the world is burning despite all the evidence that this is what is happening.

I do know it’s not all Republicans. There are many who know the dangers of climate change. But as long as greasy politicians like Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Sen. Mitch McConnell from Kentucky and Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas encourage the fossil fuel industries to pour money into their pockets, they will refuse to admit the reality of climate change and not change anything. And the Trumplodytes will go right along with them.

I have reached the point where I no longer believe that political compromise is possible. The only answer is what happened in the 2018 midterms. We have to take power away from these people otherwise they will condemn us all to a future that none of us want.

Musings 12/17/19: Trump is losing it.

Trump: ‘Unfair’ coverage should be tested in courts

Oh, if you think it’s bad now Donald, just wait until you see the headlines after the Democrats take control of the House. Or after the Mueller report comes out.

It’s easy to make fun of Donald Trump and his anger that every media outlet in the world doesn’t follow the Fox News rules about covering Trump: only softball questions, only positive coverage, only ever telling him he’s the greatest. But what is most worrisome about these infantile twitter tirades is that it shows how little Donald Trump cares about the U.S. Constitution, you know the one he swore to uphold when he took the oath of office a couple o years ago. His contempt for freedom of the press, for the rule of law, for our allies and friends, for all the things that have made America the great country that it is, show why more than anything else he should be impeached and convicted.

I know that will never happen because of Republican control of the Senate. That doesn’t mean though it’s a bad idea. Donald Trump will go down in history as the most corrupt, biggest liar, most anti-democratic and the worst president of the United States ever.

New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweep

This new report, prepared for the US Republican-controlled Senate, shows that Russia used every media outlet possible – social and otherwise – to get Donald Trump elected. No wonder he likes Vladimir Putin so much. Basically, Putin was his most effective campaign manager. Sorry KellyAnne.

A new category, just for Donald Trump

Meet the Bottomless Pinocchio, a new rating for a false claim repeated over and over again

Well, to be completely truthful it’s not just for Donald Trump. The bottomless Pinocchio is for any politician or individual who makes a false claim more than 20 times. He is, however, the inspiration for the new rating awarded by the Washington Post. And so far he’s the sole winner, dozens of times in fact. Trump lies so frequently, so consistently and so boldly that no other politician in recent memory comes as close to being such a fabulist as our current president.

And give him credit, he just doesn’t lie about big things. He lies about many things of different shapes and sizes and importance. Donald Trump lies the way some people breath – it’s automatic and he doesn’t even think about it. It’s a true mark of the huckster and the grifter that he is. No matter how wrong he is, no matter how off-base, no matter how made up, no matter how many times he’s been told he’s wrong, Trump continues to lie with the ferocity of an Atlantic category five hurricane.

Musings:12/09/18 – Say Hello to the New Boss, Same As the Old Boss

William Barr Is Jeff Sessions Without the Baggage

Just in case anyone thought that William Barr will bring a new approach to the Justice Department needs to remember that this is Donald Trump’s administration. Trump would not have chosen Barr, who’s been auditioning for the position for several months now, if he did not think that Barr would not only continue Jeff Sessions’ far-right approach to issues like police reform or criminal justice reform but also give him a man in the Department of Justice who he could count on to obstruct the Russia investigation as much as possible.

As this article in Slate explains, Barr is basically Jeff Sessions without the baggage. Perhaps not as racist, certainly as homophobic and who can certainly be counted on to continue Sessions’ battles against civil liberties and civil rights. Really not much of an upgrade.

Ex-Harper immigration minister calls out Scheer over ‘factually incorrect’ statements on UN migration pact

It really must be embarrassing for Canadian conservatives almost every time Andrew Scheer opens his mouth. Because every time he opens his mouth he seems to stick his foot in it. Scheer, who wants to pretend he is Canada’s Donald Trump (only without the money and the “big brain”) does share some of Trump’s greatest features: he doesn’t seem to care much about reading or actually learning the facts of the situation.

It’s pretty embarrassing when a member of your own party and former minister in the government of Stephen Harper (a group not known for being warmhearted towards any issue of immigration) basically tells you not only are you wrong but you are very wrong.

Watching Andrew Scheer’s performance from afar is like watching a car wreck unfold before your eyes. You really can’t do anything to stop it but it’s fascinating to watch.

Harvard’s Bipartisan Congressional Orientation Under Fire For Being Too Corporate

Boys, there’s a whole bunch of new sheriffs in town and they are not just going to go along to get along. If the Democratic Party thinks that the new progressive members elected in the 2018 midterms will just quietly lineup support the status quo, I think they are starting to realize that it ain’t gonna happen. The great danger is, of course, that this new progressive group within the Democratic caucus will become the “Freedom Party” of the left. Time will tell.

But it is obvious from the reaction to the overwhelmingly corporate nature of the orientation at Harvard, and its complete lack of any voices from labor or from any other progressive area, that these new voices are going to demand some changes and they are not going to do so quietly.