Trump’s Terrible 21 SCOTUS Picks

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I’m still having a hard time accepting and digesting that Donald J. Trump is the president-elect of these United States.  What makes it painful is knowing that Clinton won the popular by more than 2 million votes and that but for voting irregularities including Russian tampering – breaking into DNC computers and the Wiki-Leaks, all apparently with the knowledge and encouragement of the Trump campaign – and GOP voter suppression in key battleground states, she would have won the electoral college and the election as well.  Donald Trump was right – the election was rigged – he and the GOP made sure of it. Now I am in the camp that argues Clinton should demand a recount and mount a challenge where irregularities were found. Unfortunately, she has indicated that she would not and has already conceded and what’s more, President Obama has already, for all intents and purposes, handed him the keys.  I still cling to the possibility that some bombshell will drop that disqualifies both Trump and Pence or that the electors will come to their senses and nominate Clinton instead and then the House follow suit.  I know I am dreaming.  Which brings me to the topic of this post.  The Supreme Court.

In a move of extreme dereliction of duty and disrespect to the President and the Constitution, the GOP has refused to even allow hearings on President Obama’s supreme court pick after Justice Scalia’s death in February.  They argued that the people should decide when choosing the next president.  It was a risky strategy that worked. Ted Cruz and others no doubt argued that 8 justices were all we needed suggesting that even if Clinton were elected, they would not allow any of her picks to move forward. So I say now to the Democrats, game on. Chuck Schumer has indicated that the Dems would use the filibuster if Trump nominates an extreme candidate and there is every indication that he will.

The National Review, a right wing rag, is positively giddy at the prospect of Trump naming William Pryor or Diane Sykes, the later considered an “originalist” that is, she and others being considered view the constitution as a fixed and dead document that the rich, white and privileged male framers might have recognized.  These two and 9 others comprised Trump’s orignal 11 picks.  He has since added 10 more to the list. Talk about turning the clock back.  Both Pryor and Sykes, indubitably, would overturn Roe v. Wade, and specifically Sykes has made statements and rulings that are hostile to LGBTQ rights.  Sykes, the more likely pick is even to the right of Scalia on the ideological spectrum; Pryor ever so slightly to the left of him. See Wapo chart.   I am reminded of the song, “Stuck in the Middle with You.”

Trump’s list of 21 including the aforementioned joker and clown consists of people who want to turn the clock back to a time when women had no reproductive rights and LGBTQ members could not openly and safely even come out.  On this list, you will find judges and even the most ideologically extreme Senator on the Hill, whose views are hostile to immigrants, women, blacks, the middle class, the LGBTQ community, the environment, and unions.  Many are candidates who do not resepct the separation of church and state, and do not favor gun safety measures. You can bet that they would protect the Citizens United ruling, to ensure that American elections can be bought by the highest bidders for generations to come. And if Trump is lucky, and God help us all if he is, he might get as many as three picks during his tenure.  People, Dems, if we don’t apply pressure on our elected officals to block these nominations, we are doomed!

Are there any on the list who would be acceptable?  No.  But if you look at the ideological spectrum chart from the Washington Post article above, those who are the farthest to the left of Scalia would be better than ones closer to his views and preferable to those extreme ideologues to his right. Unfortunately, the article only examined candidates from the federal bench, which I think only includes 9 of the 21. The most dangerous ones, the so-called “originalists” are Gorsuch, Kethledge, Sykes and the Lee brothers.

About all I can conclude here is that Trump’s picks are pretty bad.  There isn’t one that I feel the least bit comfortable with as a progressive.  I like the idea of diversity and ideally, I would like to see another Hispanic or Black or the first Asian or Native American on the court. But as we know, diversity of background does not always make the court more ideologically diverse.  If only the President would make a lame duck appointment and install Merrick Garland.  But that’s not likely to happen.  Best case is for Dems to filibuster the most extreme of the 21.  And if that means blocking all his picks, so be it.  In the words of the GOP, slightly paraphrased, Americans should have the right to say who their next SCOTUS justice will be. I agree. Americans elected Barak Obama and are still waiting for the Senate to hold hearings on his pick.  And don’t forget that Clinton won the popular by more than 2 million votes.  Americans have spoken twice now and deserve to be heard.

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Thank You President Obama

Whether you supported President Obama or not, you should be thankful to him for his service.  And while it has been a tumultuous 8 years in which the GOP did all they could to to derail his presidency, unsuccessfully I might add, his accomplishments are many and all the more impressive.  As you evaluate the next presidency, keep President Obama’s achievements in mind.   Then decide if you and the country are better off in 4 years.

Terrorism: No ISIS or Al-Queda terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. The attacks in San Bernadino, Orlando and the Boston Marathon bombings were perpetrated by lone actors.

Unemployment: 4.9% as of October 2016. President Obama took office after the finanical markets crashed and a recession set in.  He injected a stimulus plan, bailed out the U.S. auto industry, and stabilized the economy. As a result, he’s presided over 6 straight years of declining unemployment.  Since 1920, only the Clinton adminstration can boast a better record of straight years of unemployment decline, at 7.

Gas Prices: I just filled my tank for $20 at $2.11 a gallon.  Yes, I have a small car with a small gas tank but still, 20 bucks! In 2012, Trump said that because of a deal the President made with the Saudis, that after the 2012 election, gas and oil prices would “go through the roof, like never before…” Wrong. Gas prices actually fell through the roof since Trump’s comment and are at their lowest levels, factoring in adjutments for inflation, since 2003 when gas prices begin to sharply increase during W’s adminsitration.

Immigration: For the record, I’d like a more welcoming policy.  That said, more undocumented immigrants settled in the U.S. during the W. Bush adminstration than during the Obama administration.  And among those, more overstayed a visa, than crossed the border, which calls into question the need for an expensive wall that U.S. taxpayers would be required to purchase.  Mexico isn’t paying for a wall and even Newt Gingrich confessed that Trump’s promise was nothing more than a rhetorical device a/k/a a blustering lie.

The Markets: If you have a 401k plan, thank Obama for your gains.  The markets respond favorably to calm and stability.  The Dow Jones has increased steadily and reached historic highs since the market crash of 2008.

Health Care: Say what you want about the Affordable Health Care Act, but more than 20 million previously uninsured citizens now have health care coverage. And while health insurance premiums are on the rise, fewer people are dying for lack of care. Were Obama care repealed and not replaced, (and the GOP does not have a detailed workable replacement plan) an estimated 15 million people would lose their insurance.  Folks, guaranteed heath care should be a human right in a wealthy country and part of our social contract. Actually, one of the main reasons premiums are going up is because not enough of the uninsured have enrolled in Obamacare.  Some people are willfully and defiantly paying the penalty to avoid having to buy health insurance at all, some, admittedly for financial reasons, but some purely on principle.  Nothwithstanding the reasons, the  insured are forced to absorb the costs through increased premiums.  And were those who have opted out to get seriously sick or have a costly medical emergency, who do you think would foot the bill if they can’t?

LGBTQ protections:  Human rights matter, including support for marriage equality, and anti-discriminatory laws to protect federal workers and students.

DACA: Immigrant rights matter. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival protects the children of undocumented immimgrants  who meet certain conditions from being deported.  Also, he supported the Dream Act which would have allowed certain undocumented youth who were pursuing education or were in the military and had been in the country for a certain length of time the possibility to earn citizenship.  Though it unfortunately did not pass Congress, the Dreamers’ plight could be addressed in an immigration reform bill which the President had hoped would be taken up before the end of his term in office.

The Supreme Court:  Diversity matters.  President Obama nominated two women to the high court and the first Latina in Sonia Sotomayor. Prior to Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, there had only been 2 other women ever to serve on the court.  He also nominated 171 women for federal judicial vacancies, more than any other President.

Diplomacy:  Just that, as a starting point.  I happen to think the Iran nuclear deal is in the best interest of humanity. They stop tying to weaponize their nuclear program and the world becomes a safer place.  Additionally, we’ve normalized our relations with Cuba after many years of failed sanctions that only hurt the Cuban people and did nothing to bring about political change there. I’ve always thought that the minute we lifted sanctions, the Castro regime would weaken. And it has in some ways such that soon, for better or worse, Havana will become the world’s playground again and hopefully, the Cuban people will benefit from the economic boom.

Climate change:  Our President believes in science and has joined with the rest of the world to try to do something about it.  As a father, he cares about what kind of planet his daughters inherit.

This is not an exhaustive list.  And I could publish a part II.  And while I disagree with some of Obama’s policies, it must be said that he was an exceedingly thoughtful and effective President who was graceful under fire and took the high road when gratuitously attacked.  I will miss him.

Top 10 Reasons to Vote Against Trump

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10.  Trump is a serial liar.  I’m not even sure he knows he lies as much as he does.  It’s as if he only has a short-term memory and a very tiny and selective long-term memory.  He seems to remember only slights and compliments.  He said he was against the Iraq war but is on record as saying he was for it.  He says he never met the disabled journalist he mocked at one of his rallies and yet the said journalist had interviewed him multiple times.  He said he respects women but is on record as saying he doesn’t and his actions and comments suggest otherwise.  He said his taxes are under audit, but has provided no proof that they are.  He and his surrogates have said he has given hundreds of thousands of his own money to his foundation but there is no proof that this is true.  He said Hillary Clinton is under investigation by the FBI and she technically is not. He said she is going to lock her up when he is elected and he can’t.  This is something done by Fascist regimes, not in a Democracy. He said he’s going to bring back jobs to America but leaves out that his own businesses manufacture outside the U.S. and buy products made in other countries that are also made in the U.S.  He said he met Putin, then said he doesn’t know Putin.  He has told so many lies and distorted the truth so many times about Hillary Clinton’s record that I’ve lost count.  Fact checkers reveal that Trump routinely lied during the debates and continues to do so at his rallies.  Trump says he is a great businessman, yet his companies have filed bankruptcy papers 6 times.  And amid fraud claims, Trump University folded.

9.  Trump might govern as an authoritarian dictator. He was inspired by a quote from a notable fascist, Benito Mussolini  which reads, “better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep,” and has praised Vladimir Putin repeatedly for being a strong man and for complimenting him for being “brilliant” which turned out to be a bad translation.  Putin himself clarified that he meant Trump is colorful or flamboyant, not brilliant.  Putin salivates at the prospects of using Trump as a puppet, which he seems to be doing to influence U.S. elections. Trump even went so far as to encourage the Russians to hack the missing 33,000 emails. This is outrageous – encouraging a foreign country to commit espionage on the U.S. and some would consider treasonous. Trump prides himself on being a strong man, with large hands and once bragged of being the best baseball player to come out of New York.  His masculine pride notwithstanding, Trump has shown a shocking lack of understanding and respect for democratic principles.

8.  Trump disrepects women.  He is on record as saying he likes to kiss them and grab them because he can get away with it.  A number of women have alleged that he sexually assaulted them.  His response has been that he doesn’t know the women and that after the election he is going to sue them all.  He is also on record as saying that women who obtain abortions should be punished.

7.  Tump has made racist and bigotted comments, calling Mexicans rapists, and denouncing a Mexican American judge as being biased in a case against Trump “University.” He was slow to denounce David Duke, a former KKK grand wizard who endorsed him.  He called for a ban on Muslims entering the country and even suggested the need to close down mosques.  He has essentially blamed the entire Muslim American community in the U.S. for not rooting out the terrorists among them – as if it were their sole responsibiltiy. He has shown very little concern for the humanitarian plight of Syrian refugees and argued that the U.S. should not accept any until we establish a vetting process, which we already have.  Trump has repeatedly dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement, has insisted that blacks live in hell, which many blacks take issue with, and has called for more policing.  He called for the death penalty for the black men who were wrongly convicted and subsequently exonerated for the rape of a central park jogger. And his father’s company, of which Donald was an employee, repeatedly discriminated against blacks in their housing properties and was fined by the Justice Department for doing so. Trump has appealed to white nationalists who blame immigrants for the ills of the country by promising to build a wall that Mexico will pay for to keep them out. Additionally, white supremcists groups including the KKK have endorsed Trump because they identify with his values. And now he is calling for people to go to the inner cities and watch (code for intimidate) for voter fraud in clear violation of the consent decree that the GOP was hit with in the 80’s for committing voter intimidation in New Jersey. One of the more egregious racist actions he has taken was questioning Obama’s citizenship and thus his right to be President. Then Trump tried to partially walk it back by suggesting that it was the Clinton camp in 2008 who started it all.  He tried to suggest that the many years he pushed this crazy birther conspiracy was somehow excusable because the story may not have begun with him.  And to top it off, he’s floated other consipiracy theories about whether Obama even attended Ivy schools demanding that he submit transcripts to prove he did.  This from a man who won’t even release his tax returns.

6. The Trump Foundation appears to be a fraud.  Apparently, people have contributed to the foundation and Trump has used some of this money to settle law suits and to buy a life-size portrait of himself. “Billionaire” Trump has said that he has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Foundation, but there is no evidence of this.  See David Fahrenthold’s reporting.  Not only is the Foundation fraudulent, but his business practices are suspect as evidence by the multiple contractors and small businesses who claim they were not paid for work done for Trump.  That coupled with his anti-union practices make Trump unfit to make anything about America or Americans great again.

5.  Trump refuses to release his tax returns that almost every presidential candidate in modern times has done before him, even his own running mate. He says he’s under audit and will release them after.  Nixon once released his while under audit.  There is nothing in the IRS code that prevents Trump from releasing tax returns while under audit if in fact he really is under audit.  He is obviously hiding something.  Could it be that he isn’t a billionaire?  Could it be that he has never given the charitable contributions that he said he has? Could it be that he does not pay taxes at all?  Actually, the one leaked release indicates that he did not and Trump subsequently said in a debate that the fact that he doesn’t pay taxes makes him smart.  A man who doesn’t pay taxes not because he’s poor but wealthy and privileged is a shameful man who is NOT a patriot.  Tax dollars fund education, defense, roads, entitlements, to name a few.  He is ok with YOU paying for these services and thanks YOU for paying them for him.

4.  Trump claims he is religious but is not, and apparently knows very little about religion.  Not that that religion is a test I use for a candidate, but he has shamelessly pandered to evangelicals suggesting that the Bible is his favorite book.  He does not seem to hold or practice ANY Christian values that I can detect raising doubts in my mind as to whether he has even read the Bible.

3. Trump seems to want to begin a nuclear arms raceHe has said that South Korea and Japan should have their own nuclear weapons.  He doesn’t understand why we have them if we can’t use them and has not ruled out their use in the future.  He is also on record saying that he likes war. What’s more, he has taken a pro-Russian position against NATO calling it ineffective and expensive and intimating that we should break our alliances in Europe. This is what I mean about Trump being Putin’s puppet – his Petrushka.

2.  Trump has no interest in governing.  He had even said that he would leave the buisness of governing to his running mate and simply go around the country making America great again, presumably by holding pep rallies. This is code for promoting his business brand which his children will continue to operate if he became president in an obvious conflict of interest.  He doesn’t seem to get how governing works and that he can’t just rule by decree.  He has repeatedly said that he will appoint supreme court justices without any mention of the senate’s role in the advise and consent process. Actually, the president can only nominate and there is no guarantee that the nomination will be confirmed by the senate or even get a hearing by the judiciary committee.  President Obama’s nominee, Garland, has yet to get a hearing and it has been nearly a year since Justice Antonin Scalia died leaving a vacancy on the court.

1.  His policies would simply be disatrous.  He calls for tax breaks for the rich.  He would end regulations that ensure safe food, water, drugs and air quality.  He would invest in practices that contribute to global warming which he denies is caused by humans.  He would end Obamacare resulting in millions losing health insurance. He might enact protectionist policies and start a trade war with China and Mexico.  The markets would respond disastrously and we would all lose our retirement savings and Social Security which Trump will probably have privatized.  If we are not wiped out by a nuclear war or swept away by rising ocean levels first, his policies will create a depression so deep it will make your head spin.