D Day, November 6

Next Tuesday, November 6, 2018, is a crucial day in our history.

The United States Constitution is a masterpiece of Eighteenth Century Enlightenment mechanics. Part of its genius is in the system of checks and balances that protects against the concentration of power in the hands of a single actor or group within the constitutional system.

Different actors are beholden to different electorates and some roles are selected at different times to provide overlapping periods in power. The effects of momentary passions are tamped down through these and a variety of other means. People in different power roles are accountable to different electorates and are chosen at various times to reflect and sometimes neutralize the passions of the day.

Thus, the nation has survived some perilous times and, often, the effects of incompetent leaders.

However, when all three branches of the government come under control of a single party, we have a problem. Assuming an ordinary level of party discipline, the checks and balances are upset and any hegemonic entity – we usually think of the presidency – has relatively unrestricted power to impose its will on the polity.

That brings us to our urgent need to get out and vote on Tuesday, November 6, if you have not already participated through early voting.

The president currently operates without any effective check on his power. Even if you love the man and his leadership, you should hope for a change of power in the Congress so that he will not operate unchecked any longer. While he provides some policy outcomes that some voters prefer, he has many disturbing leadership traits that ought to make any “small d” democrat very uncomfortable.

There is no need to list these traits here. If you read a newspaper at all you are well aware of his anti-democratic behaviors and the terrible example of his amoral leadership. He seems to know next to nothing about our country’s history, our leadership in the world, the ethic of sharing, or the constitution he is sworn to preserve, protect and defend.

Furthermore, the world hangs in balance as he ignores science and commits us to a course that will almost certainly make the planet uninhabitable by human life. Our summers get worse with fires, storms and floods. Each new announcement coming out of climate science seems to confirm that all their earlier alarms were underestimates of the damage already done, its irreversibility and the amount of time left to take action before we hit a final tipping point.

Our job on November 6 is as serious as the job of the allied forces waiting in the English Channel in June, 1944. The labors they undertook and the sacrifices they sustained were profoundly more daunting than anything required of us to go vote next Tuesday. But what we do may be just as important for the future of mankind.

Your vote is a right. It is a responsibility. And this year you need to vote for Democrats at least for the Senate and House of Representatives. For us Lake Jackson folks, that means a vote for Beto O’Rourke and Adrienne Bell. They will be a major part of the constitutional structure that will hold this president accountable. Even better, they are both excellent candidates and people.

And they really will keep the pre-existing conditions requirement of the Affordable Care Act. They were in favor of it before it was cool.

I Meet Our New Justice . . . He Likes Beer

I had no plans for watching the Kavanaugh hearing today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I had heard about all I needed to know about the president’t nominee for the Supreme Court. And somehow I knew I was going to feel a little dirtier if I spent a day watching the U.S. Senate at work.

But I turned it on early, just after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had been sworn in. Her testimony was riveting as the Republican majority sat off to the side and had a local government sex crimes prosecutor ask all the questions. They apparently didn’t want to risk seeing themselves later in their electoral opponents’ campaign commercials questioning Dr. Ford. They didn’t want to make it too easy for to show them as what they are: white male Republicans with no aptitude for empathy.

I decided to continue watching after lunch and saw our future justice performing most un-judicially for the next three hours. He was angry. He was aggressive. He was rude. He interrupted U.S. Senators. He cried. He told touching stories about his family. He blamed everyone else and took no responsibility for anything. He congratulated himself at every opportunity on how great he is. He had finally mastered the skills of a reality television star. He conducted himself a lot like his new role model, Donald J. Trump.

So much for judicial temperament.

Good luck, America.

What Will It Take?

If the president’s performance today at the press conference in Helsinki isn’t recognized for what it is by Republican leaders, America’s democratic legacy and leadership in the world is seriously at risk.

Where are you Congressman Randy Weber? I have only you to count on to help correct this situation. It’s not as if there is some single mistake or transgression. He has committed numerous “high crimes and misdemeanors” since taking office – and probably some treason and bribery, as well.  Your voters have a decision to make in November.

In my opinion, the highest of his high crimes is his daily violation of his oath of office.

If you feel he abides by this oath, I invite you to comment and leave your argument.

This was a day of shame for all Americans, most especially the ones who voted for him. To those folks, this is a bandwagon you should abandon to save your conscience, your reputation and your self-respect.

 

Madeleine Albright: An Interview in The Guardian

This is one of the most interesting articles I came across today. Madeliene Albright, the former U.S. Secretary of State has a new book, Fascism: A Warning. She was interviewed by Andrew Rawnsley of The Guardian. Check out the interview here in The Guardian.

Ms. Albright does not offer us much comfort. From the interview:

“The things that are happening are genuinely, seriously bad. Some of them are really bad. They’re not to do with Trump; it is the evolution of a number of different trends. All the various problems that we have, they can’t be solved by simple slogans. But it’s easier to listen to some simple slogan.”

Yet simple slogans seemed to be what a significant number of voters responded to in 2016.