Biden ‘speaks his mind’?

Michael Kinsley, the liberal columnist and one-time TV commentator, once famously quipped that a “gaffe” occurs when a politician “speaks his mind.”

So it is, then, that President Biden well might have been speaking his own mind when during a speech in Poland he said that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”

Oops, Mr. President. You’ve just spoken against U.S. policy, which supposedly forbids any effort to bring about “regime change” in a foreign government. Oh, but wait! Didn’t we do that when we went to war in Afghanistan after 9/11 and then went to war in Iraq less than two years later while hunting down Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein?

Both those efforts resulted in regime change. The Taliban, though, are back in power in Afghanistan; Saddam Hussein is dead, having been hanged for his crimes against humanity.

The White House is trying to take back what President Biden said, that our aim isn’t to remove Putin from office even as we condemn him for launching his illegal, immoral and illogical invasion of Ukraine.

I am not going to sweat much about what the president said. He was telling us what he thinks ought to happen, not necessarily predicting that it will happen.

Biden shows ‘temper’?

Can the Russian media flacks say anything more ridiculous than what they have declared about President Biden’s comments today about thug/despot/tyrant Vladimir Putin?

The Kremlin issued a statement in which it criticized the president for flashing a “temper.” Why? Because Joe Biden called Putin precisely what he is: a butcher.

President Biden is choosing to avoid mincing words as he travels through Europe. For the record, he also declared that Putin shouldn’t be allowed to continue ruling Russia; the president in effect called for “regime change” in Moscow.

To be clear, the president of the United States is not about to launch a coup attempt against Putin. However, the U.S. president clearly is pissed off at the conduct of the Russian dictator over the Russians’ unprovoked attack and invasion of Ukraine.

Joe Biden reportedly wants Russia kicked out of the G-20 international group aimed at fostering economic cooperation among the world’s wealthiest nations. That reportedly will be a difficult mission to accomplish, according to media reports. However, it is becoming clearer by the hour that Vladimir Putin has isolated himself from most of the rest of the world … by “butchering” innocent civilians through indiscriminate bombing and artillery attacks on soft targets in Ukraine.

That the U.S. president would call him a “butcher” is not a sign of a lost temper. It is a clear signal of President Biden’s realistic view of Vladimir Putin.

Founders’ ideal is trashed

Our nation’s founders had this glorious idea when they created an independent state in the New World that there ought to be three co-equal branches of government, with one of those branches — the judiciary — set aside to be free of political pressure.

The other two — the executive and legislative branches — would be wholly political, they reckoned.

It is a sad thing to acknowledge that the federal judiciary has become a political tool of the forces that seek to determine who sits in judgment on matters brought before the courts.

We are witnessing play out yet again with President Biden’s decision to nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to a spot on the nation’s Supreme Court. She is eminently qualified to serve on the court. Her stellar legal background and her educational chops ought to be sufficient to guarantee that the Senate would confirm her.

That isn’t the case. She was pilloried and pounded during her 19 hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators — those of the Republican ilk — chose to demonize her over her duties as a federal public defender. They criticized her sentencing practices, of course taking most of it out of context.

You can spare me the “what about-ism” involving Republican-appointed judicial nominees getting roughed up during their Senate confirmation hearings. I am well aware of what happened in the past. I am not going to give anyone a pass based on recent political history for the treatment that was leveled at Judge Jackson.

My concern is that the founders’ notion of lifting the federal judiciary out of the political sewer has been flushed away. They intended the federal bench to be free of politics by establishing lifetime appointments to the federal bench. Gosh, it seems to me at this moment that the lifetime appointment provision only has worsened the politicization.

I am left merely to lament the grievous wound that has been inflicted on the founders’ ideal when they established this great nation. I’ll just hope for all it’s worth that the wound isn’t mortal.

SCOTUS fight could get more toxic

So, you might think the fight over whether to approve President Biden’s selection of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court is as toxic as it gets. Guess again.

You see, Jackson’s addition to the court doesn’t change the ideological balance on the body. It remains a 6-3 conservative majority court. Yet, Senate Republicans have chosen to demonize her in ways that I find repugnant.

The fecal matter will really hit the fan if this president gets to select a court nominee to replace one of the conservative justices serving on the nation’s highest court. Yes, I have Justice Clarence Thomas — one of the right wing’s favorite judges — in mind as I suggest that.

Just suppose Justice Thomas resigns as the heat comes to a full boil over his wife’s far-right-wing political activism. Suppose that Biden gets to select a nominee to succeed Thomas. Whoever the president chooses will be of a more liberal/progressive slant. Correct?

Senate Republicans will go ballistic, just as they did in 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died and President Obama sought to replace him with a moderate judge named Merrick Garland.

All of this is my way of condemning the toxicity that infects every single decision these days in Washington, D.C., a place that once sought to pride itself on bipartisan collegiality.

It now relishes its new role as a snake pit. I am not predicting any of this will occur. I merely am preparing everyone for the bloodbath that could occur if it does.

How about impeachment?

Now that I am on the record calling for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign, let’s look briefly at another option available to those of us who value judicial integrity: impeachment.

I fear impeaching the justice would produce the same result as the two impeachments of Donald Trump: He would escape conviction by a U.S. Senate that lacks sufficient Republican belief in doing the right thing.

A brief review: Thomas’s wife, Ginni, is a political activist who allegedly sent numerous text messages to the White House chief of staff urging him to overturn the 2020 presidential election result that elected Joe Biden. Trump has fought against Biden’s free, fair and legal election by fomenting The Big Lie about phony “widespread voter fraud.” Ginni Thomas in league with Trump, who lost a Supreme Court vote on whether he could claim “executive privilege” by denying the House committee looking into the 1/6 insurrection access to his presidential documents. The court voted 8-1 against Trump; the lone dissent came from Clarence Thomas.

Do you get where I’m going here?

If he won’t quit, then perhaps the House could impeach him and bring a torrent of publicity on how Thomas’s lack of integrity has compromised the SCOTUS. The Senate won’t convict him, but the bad pub might be sufficient for Thomas to call it quits and perhaps spare the court on which he is now its senior member additional embarrassment and shame.

Hey, it’s just a thought.

I still believe Justice Thomas needs to resign.

Resign, Justice Thomas!

All right, enough is enough! I have seen and heard all I need to see and hear about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s obvious conflicts of interest involving Donald J. Trump, his own wife Ginni and The Big Lie that Trump has pitched contending there was “widespread voter fraud” during the 2020 presidential election.

Justice Thomas needs to resign from the Supreme Court if only to enable his wife to continue her political activism and to avoid further damaging the integrity of the court on which he has served for more than three decades.

Go home, Mr. Justice!

I say this without any reservation. It is clear to me that Ginni Thomas’s activism has compromised her husband’s role as a supposed “impartial” arbiter of cases that come before the court. Some of them have involved The Donald’s preposterous claims of executive privilege. Justice Thomas, I need to remind everyone, was the lone dissenting vote against The Donald’s claim of executive privilege as he sought to prevent the National Archives from handing over presidential documents to the House select committee examining the 1/6 insurrection/riot. Why is that significant? Because Ginni Thomas attended the damn rally on The Ellipse on that day, but left before it got totally out of hand.

Now we hear from credible media reports that Ginni Thomas pushed, prodded and pressured White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to do all he could to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which The Donald lost to Joseph R. Biden Jr.

She did all this and then went home at night to the same residence she shares with an associate Supreme Court justice. How in the name of juris prudence can this be dismissed? How is that not a direct conflict of interest? How does Justice Thomas explain his ghastly vote to grant executive privilege to Trump when every lower court has ruled against it — along with all eight of his SCOTUS colleagues?

I have had enough of this charade being perpetrated on Americans by the most senior member of the nation’s highest court.

Get the hell out of office, Justice Thomas!

Mitch says ‘no’ on KBJ

Let’s put Mitch McConnell’s announcement today that he would vote “no” on Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court into some perspective. So, bear with me for a moment.

The Senate Republican leader can’t support Judge Jackson because she declined to say whether she supports progressives’ call to expand the high court from nine members to, say, 15. McConnell said Judge Jackson should have offered an opinion, even though the jurist erred on the side of remaining impartial or, shall we say, above the battle that surely would erupt if such a notion were to gather momentum.

Let’s examine briefly McConnell’s recent political history, too.

This man obstructed President Barack Obama’s effort to name a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly in early 2016. McConnell said that because a presidential election would occur 10 months later, we needed to wait to see which candidate would win and then allow that person to make the nomination. Obama selected Judge Merrick Garland, but Garland never got a hearing … thanks to McConnell’s obstruction and raw political power grab.

McConnell also blamed Donald J. Trump for the insurrection that erupted on 1/6. He said in a Senate speech that The Donald was “singularly” responsible for “provoking” the riot that sought to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election, which Trump lost! Then he voted against convicting The Donald on the impeachment article that came from the House as a direct result of the riot that McConnell said Trump instigated. Go figure.

So, for this obstructionist and coward to offer a negative critique of a stellar jurist such as Ketanji Brown Jackson is simply, to be candid, not credible.

He sickens me.

Elections do matter

You have heard it said that “elections have consequences.” I have stated as much many times on this blog platform and I still believe it to be so very true.

We are seeing how those consequences are playing out in President Biden’s nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Biden won the 2020 presidential election and, thus, has been granted the opportunity to find a qualified jurist to take her seat on the nation’s highest court.

This process plays into the notion of “presidential prerogative,” meaning that presidents earn the right to select whomever they desire simply by winning the most recent election.

What you might not remember, though, is that I have carried my belief in presidential prerogative across party lines. I am a dedicated supporter of Democratic Party ideals, but I also recognize that elections that produce Republican presidents also have consequences equal to those that produce Democratic presidents. Accordingly, I recognize that Donald Trump’s election in 2016 entitled him to select the three individuals who currently serve on the SCOTUS.

When President George H.W. Bush selected Clarence Thomas in 1991 to succeed Thurgood Marshall on the high court, I said the same thing. Same with President George W. Bush, when he chose John Roberts to become chief justice and Samuel Alito to an associate justice position.

All of these individuals are technically qualified to serve and the presidents who nominated them were entitled under the Constitution to select them.

I want to revisit this notion because of the hassles that President Biden is getting over his choice of Judge Jackson to join the court. Senate Republicans are digging in for a fight. They belong to a government branch that is entitled under the Constitution to reject or approve any nomination that comes before them. They are fighting Judge Jackson for reasons that escape me.

Joe Biden’s standing as president allows him to find a qualified candidate for a lifetime appointment. He has done so and therefore he deserves to have the individual he has chosen approved by the Senate and then be allowed to take her place on the Supreme Court.

One of the harshest challenges to this prerogative occurred in 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly. President Obama selected Judge Merrick Garland to succeed Scalia. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell then decided to play political hardball by denying Garland any confirmation hearing, saying that because it was an election year that the winner of the next election deserved to select the individual he or she wanted for the court.

The winner turned out to be Trump. McConnell’s strong-arming of the constitutional process was a hideous display of politicking and I am one American who never will forgive him for denying a sitting president the chance to seat a qualified jurist on the Supreme Court.

Juxtapose that with the speedy confirmation process that McConnell allowed when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died just weeks before the 2020 election; Amy Coney Barrett received Senate confirmation in a record-setting fashion. Any sign of hypocrisy there? Oh, yes! Absolutely!

Elections always have consequences, indeed … and they should.

She’s become ‘KBJ’!

This is excellent news! I just read — or maybe I heard it in the background noise of the TV set — that someone has referred to Ketanji Brown Jackson, the next justice to be seated on the Supreme Court, as “KBJ.”

Why is that cool? It’s because the media along with the public usually reserve those identifications by name initials to those who are held in generally high esteem.

You know: JFK, LBJ, RFK, MLK Jr., FDR. I have taken to referring to other more contemporary individuals as well by their initials: Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, aka AOC is one and, yes, I have referred to the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene as MTG and Donald Trump as DJT.

It is a strange phenomenon that not all public figures get that designation as a matter of regular practice. BHO is one of those who’s been left out of the initial-ID name club. George W. Bush is known as just plain W., or Dubya.

So … welcome to the newly formed Club of Iconic Figures, Judge Jack … er, KBJ.

Enter the Three Stooges

It is tempting, I suppose, to attach some sort of label to three U.S. senators who “distinguished” themselves with their pitiful performances at the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Ketanji Brown Jackson, selected by President Biden to join the Supreme Court.

Three Amigos? Nah! Three Musketeers? Nope.

How about … Three Stooges? Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Sens. Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley all were disgraceful in their own respective ways as they sought to tear down a distinguished jurist’s record by ascribing all sorts of phony nefarious motives to decisions she made from the bench and in practice as a public defender.

They all sickened me. Yes, I am on record as wanting Judge Jackson to take her place on the nation’s highest court. I also am on record as loathing the way Republican senators reacted initially to President Biden’s selection of Judge Jackson and then to the way they behaved during the confirmation hearing.

I will hold out a sliver of hope that some GOP senators — maybe two of ’em — will see fit to confirm her when the full Senate casts its vote.

As for the Three Stooges — two of whom (Hawley and Cruz) apparently want to run for POTUS in 2024 — I just will be content to scoff at their antics and to hope eventually they all get booted out of the Senate. I don’t want any of them voting on laws that affect my family and me.