M is for Lisa Murkowski

There were three Republican Senators who voted against the so-called ““skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare in July 2017. One was John McCain of Arizona, who made a dramatic return to DC that week after a diagnosis of brain cancer. The other two were women who had been bucking their party all that week, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. All, it could be argued, put principle before party.

The female senators were on receiving end of insults from male officials. “They were told that they… deserve a physical reprimand for their decisions not to support Republican health-care proposals.

Senator Murkowski is particularly interesting to me because she has won three full terms to the Senate, yet has never won a majority of the vote. “Murkowski was appointed to the U.S. Senate by her father, Frank Murkowski, who resigned his seat in December 2002 to become the Governor of Alaska. She completed her father’s unexpired term, which ended in January 2005. She ran for and won a full term in 2004,” with 48.5% of the vote.

“She ran for a second term in 2010. She lost the Republican Party nomination to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller. She then ran as a write-in candidate and defeated both Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams in the General Election,” with 39.5% of the vote, “making her the first U.S. Senator to be elected by write-in vote since Strom Thurmond [of South Carolina] in 1954.”

In fact, I predicted that victory in this very blog on 2 November 2010:
“But I will go out on a limb to say that I think Lisa Murkowski will barely retain her Senate seat in Alaska. Three-way polling is much less reliable than that done for a two person race. Good news: her name will appear on a list of potential write-in candidates. Bad news: there are about 100 people on the list. Good news: she has great name recognition in the state. Bad news: she’s been around a long time, and her father before her. Good news: it is established that a vote for a write-in candidate must be counted, if the intent is clear. So someone drawing the three pictures on this page could be seen as voting for Murkowski, like so:”

mer

cow

ski

The French word for sea is MER + COW + SKI = Murkowski.

In 2016, she won again, with 44% of the vote. The political threats to her has not fazed her, maybe because she doesn’t have to run for office again until 2022.

For ABC Wednesday

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Shooting off their mouths


Referring to the 154th mass shooting in 2017, the Los Angeles Times noted:

“Even though members of Congress were attacked Wednesday by a gunman on a ball field just outside the capital, nothing is likely to change in the Washington debate over gun control, save the addition of Alexandria to the list of blood-soaked postmarks.

“The two sides of the debate are simply too dug in, the political forces too firmly entrenched, the worldview of opposing sides so vastly different it is impossible to see how the gulf narrows even slightly, however close to home the latest attack.

“Underscoring that notion, the one thing both sides shared after the latest mass shooting was the capacity to look at precisely the same event and see it in a way that buttressed diametrically opposing views.”

All that wonderful unity at the charity baseball game, yet:

A GOP Congressman Thinks It’s Obama’s Fault. Some Republicans on the far right point to “vitriolic rhetoric on the left,” which could be to blame for the gunfire that hit a GOP leader and others at a congressional baseball practice. GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa says that “the violence is incited by the leading cultural voices of the Left.”

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi responds, “How dare they?”, noting the dramatic escalation in hate crimes from the “alt right” and white supremacists, and GOPUSA scolds Pelosi for breaking the “unity”.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot and nearly killed by an assassin, called for sympathy and understanding, which was met with hate.

There’s a reasonable observation in the right wing Legal Insurrection about getting off the rhetorical merry-go-round: “The collective desire to be ‘right’ and to prove wrongness is hindering our ability to find even the smallest shred of consensus” is counterproductive, and other sensible points. But as Red State, another rightist publication noted, the comments section of the LI article is riddled with condemnation for the writer.

Arthur wrote: “”Claiming that only ‘the other side’ is responsible for the current disgusting nature of US politics—as always happens when there’s something like this shooting—is merely part of that same sick politics, boiled in its broth of seething resentment and baked within its self-righteous shell.”

As is often the case, the Onion gets the last word: “In the wake of [the] mass shooting in Alexandria, VA, every single American from across the political spectrum was reportedly able to cite the tragedy as irrefutable proof that they had been right about everything all along.”

Waste of time and money: dividing California

California6I read, from Evanier, but also elsewhere, that some joker has promoted a ballot initiative to split the Golden State into six states. Even if the ballot initiative somehow won in November – and I have relatives there (sister, niece – Don’t Vote for This Nonsense!) – it still wouldn’t go into effect. Evanier noted, in a conversation about whether Texas, which had been its own country briefly, and would theoretically have the right to splinter:

“You have to consider Article IV, Section 3 of a little document called the United States Constitution. That particular section says…”

New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.

If you are a US Senator from a small state, populationwise, such as Delaware or Alaska, would you want there to be 12 US Senators from CA when there were two? And if you were from a large state, say Florida or Illinois, why would you want them to have many more Senators than your state?

BTW, Chuck Miller, my fellow blogger with the Times Union, came up with what a divided up New York State might look like. It was a highlighted blog for that day.

Given the disdain with which most of the American people see Congress, creating MORE members, with the requisite expense, does not seem like a winning scenario.

The 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Lyndon_Johnson_signing_Civil_Rights_Act,_July_2,_1964
It was late February, the week between when the Arizona state legislature passed S. 1062, allowing a “religious exception” to provide service to people, presumably gay people, and when Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill. I was watching JEOPARDY!, in real time. A clue popped up about the Greensboro Four, the young black men who, in February 1960, sat in at a Woolworth’s “whites only” lunch counter.

Suddenly, the Daughter started singing this song, about it, Rosa Parks, and the Little Rock Nine like events, which I had never heard before:

“Some young men in Carolina sat down at a counter and asked for something to eat
Cause they had a dream, yes they had a dream
And when no one served them, they just kept sitting, they never missed a beat
Cause they had a dream, yes they had a dream
They had a dream that all our children could live in harmony
And go to school together and work in the land of liberty”

It was actions such as the Greensboro sit-in, several retaliatory incidents of violence against blacks and of whites who supported them, capped by the peaceful August 1963 March on Washington, that prompted Congress to take action. From the Senate Judiariary committee webpage:

The House Judiciary Committee approved the legislation on October 26, 1963, and formally reported it to the full House on November 20, 1963, just two days before President Kennedy was assassinated. On November 27, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson asserted his commitment to President Kennedy’s legislative agenda, particularly civil rights legislation.

“No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the Civil Rights Bill for which he fought so long.”

The House of Representatives passed a final version of the Civil Rights Act on February 10, 1964…

After a 54-day filibuster of the legislation, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced a compromise bill. The legislation… was ultimately passed on June 19, 1964, by a vote of 73 to 27. On July 2, 1964, the House voted to adopt the Senate-passed legislation… President Johnson signed the bill into law that very afternoon. The Civil Rights Act paved the way for future anti-discrimination legislation, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Here’s another narrative from ten years ago. Check out Bryan Cranston on playing President Lyndon Baines Johnson in the play All the Way.

President Obama has been saluting the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and honoring LBJ for his work to make it so. There is no doubt that the Act irrevocably altered the American landscape, and for the better.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Yet the notion that we could, or should, as a nation, not only allow, but tacitly encourage, discrimination, based on sexual orientation, is quite troubling to me. That we should use religion as the basis of that discrimination is abhorrent to me.

Do we need another Greensboro sit-in, say in Mississippi, which passed a bill, signed by the governor, as onerous as the Arizona bill? Not advocating that (yet), but the thought DID cross my mind.

M is for Monsanto, modified foods and mischief

Monsanto, a large agricultural entity in the US, apparently needs protection, for the US Congress has passed, back in the spring of 2013, what has been dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act, which, critics claim, “effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future”. The bill has been recently reauthorized in the House, but not the Senate. (Meanwhile, while supporting corporate welfare, the House GOP axes food assistance for millions of Americans.)

So what’s the issue with GMOs? It is believed that GMOs are not safe. “They have been linked to thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals.” Continue reading

Constitutional allies

It’s Constitution Day!

Earlier in the year, I was inclined to agree with Jon Stewart of The Daily Show that most of the Constitution seems to be under attack, except that the Second Amendment right to bear arms seemed to be sacrosanct. For instance, the Supreme Court has chipped away at the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

Worse, it felt that only a relative handful of people were concerned. That has visibly changed, and the opposition to governmental overreach is bipartisan.

Item from Newsmax:

“The American Civil Liberties Union is joining tea party activists in opposing the use of armed drones and other counterterrorism operations to kill suspected terrorists, even American citizens.
Continue reading

N is for National Elections on November 6

If you’re not from the United States, you may not be aware of the fact that the US is having its national election on Tuesday, November 6.

CONGRESS

Approximately 1/3 of the US Senate is up for election. Senators are elected on a statewide basis for six-year terms.

All 435 members of the House of Representatives are up for election. The number of districts in each state is dependent on its population. The breakdown changes every 10 years, after the decennial Census. The results of the 2010 Census will alter the makeup of the House for the 2012 election. Continue reading

July Rambling: the God particle, and Key’s defense of slavery

Cognitive Deficit: How Budget Cuts Could Prevent Scientific Breakthroughs
“The Higgs boson isn’t just one missed opportunity – it represents how much the U.S. stands to lose if we don’t give our scientists the support they need. The Congress of the early ’90s might have pulled the plug on a $10 billion particle accelerator, but it’s hard to imagine today’s Congress even contemplating such a project when attempts to fund basics like unemployment insurance and infrastructure repair result in partisan gridlock.”
Also:
We’re ALL Immigrants, Higgs is Our Common Ancestor.
Why the boson is like Justin Bieber.

Remembering when Francis Scott Key, the man who penned “The Star-Spangled Banner,” defended slavery in court. Continue reading

Yes, there was a real Vidal Sassoon

I was on Facebook recently, and someone, who I believe considers herself a bit of a fashionista, wrote: “Did you have ANY idea Vidal Sassoon was a real person? I did not.” She must be even younger than I thought, because that means she never saw this commercial, and others like it. This made me feel rather old Continue reading

Hardly Kosher Bacon

One of the e-mail items I receive regularly comes from the Citizens Against Government Waste, who are vigilant against roads to nowhere and $16 muffins. CAGW regularly names a Porker of the Month, “a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.”

For September 2011, the designee was Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) “for suggesting that the United States Postal Service (USPS) can solve its financial problems by embarking on a new advertising campaign. During a September 6, 2011 Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing at which Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe speculated that USPS could be out of business by the end of the year, Sen. McCaskill stated, ‘I really believe that if somebody would begin to market the value of sending a written letter to someone you love, you might be surprised [by] how you could stabilize first-class mail.’ Continue reading