Thursday, July 11, 2024

After Biden's Presser, No Sure Answer

As I listened to CNN analysts parse Joe Biden’s performance during his press conference Thursday evening it became obvious that sizzle not substance has become the determining factor in U.S. political discourse. 

Comparisons by analysts to Donald Trump’s governing acuity were virtually non existent. Biden displayed 59 minutes of in depth understanding of real world and domestic issues. Could anyone seriously imagine Trump would be equally capable without numerous exaggerations, fabrications and manipulations of the truth? 

Biden is the most qualified to be president. From either party. 

Optics. Yes, Biden made some blunders (once calling Trump, not Kamala Harris, his vice president). And he will continue to be the Norm Crosby of politicians (Google him if you have no idea who Norm Crosby was). But who among us doesn’t fumble words and names at times? For sure, Trump does it lots of times, but hardly anyone makes a mountain out of his molehills because of all the lies he tells before and after his verbal gaffes. 

Why do we require perfection from Biden? 

Bottom line: Biden did nothing to advance calls for abandonment of his pursuit of a second term, other than give long-winded, detailed answers that only policy wonks would appreciate. Those hoping for fire-in-his-eyes were disappointed. Biden said he was in it for the long haul of saving America and the world from Trump, not the glory. 

So, were minds, including mine, changed? Should Biden give up the quest? 

Based on Thursday night, no. Can Biden maintain rebound momentum? Only time will tell. Democrats hope what we saw during the debate with Trump was the aberration. They have to hope the time clock stops ticking before their August convention so there’s enough time to unite behind the party nominee, no matter who it is.   

Thursday, July 4, 2024

If He Wins, Trump's Name Will be Everywhere

 If he wins election to a second term, Donald Trump, or at least his name, will be front and center for decades, if not eternity. 

No, I am not talking about a plan to keep him president beyond the next four years, as per the limit as to what is constitutionally permitted. Trump, of course, is not always in sync with the Constitution, bending it to his will and a compliant Supreme Court, but staying beyond January 20, 2029, may be more chutzpah than even he can muster.

Rather, I am referring to pliable Republican House and Senate majorities in Congress that would slap his name on existing and new buildings, monuments, stamps, parks and infrastructure projects such as airports. Look for similar expressions of fealty from state and local governments.

Unlike residents of apartments along the West Side Highway in Manhattan who successfully removed his name from their private buildings, the cult of Trump will eagerly display their fawning admiration. 

Doubtful his visage would fit on Mount Rushmore. But cult members throughout the land no doubt would be eager to slap his name on any number of federal, state and local roadways, buildings, schools, and new monuments.

If you’re wondering if all this toadying up can happen while Trump is still alive, it can. U.S. Senate Rule 7(d) of the Environment and Public Works Committee states, “The committee may not name a building for any living person, except … a former President or Vice President of the United States.” (I don’t think there’s any chance Mike Pence would be so memorialized.) 

If all this Trumpism isn’t enough to scare you into voting for Joe Biden or whomever is the Democratic presidential nominee, I am at a loss for words. 

Monday, July 1, 2024

Presidential Immunity May Be Decided Today

Now I know how a ping pong ball must feel, if it was more than an inanimate object propelled generally by human, not mechanical, force back and forth until finally one player makes a decisive or clumsy return. 

With each passing hour, argument and counterargument flood my inbox: Biden should stay the course. Biden should pass the torch to the next generation. A vote for Biden is a vote for Kamala Harris as the next president. Replacing Biden without anointing Harris would destroy Black support for Democrats (unless Biden is replaced by Corey Booker or Wes Moore).

The Biden watch has taken the focus off what may be the single most important Supreme Court decision in history, whether presidents enjoy absolute immunity for all of their actions in office, up to and including ordering the assassination of Americans, even their political rivals.  

A decision on presidential immunity is expected Monday.

Will the justices find a president is not above the law, or will they find a president has impunity to do whatever he or she wants? In this particular case, acting to overturn results of an election that scores of courts ruled were legal and without fraud, resulting in what should have been the orderly transfer of power. 

Heaven help us if the Supremes grant blanket presidential immunity.  

Given the conservative leanings of more than half the court, and their abhorrence of many restraints on the actions of executive and business power, a carte blanche presidential rule is not beyond possibility. 

The conservative justices have been steadily working to erode laws that govern actions by industries. They are eroding marital freedoms and healthcare choices and erasing the separation of church and state. 

Last week’s reversal of the Chevron Deference Principle, in effect for four decades, will catastrophically dilute the ability of government agencies to rein in corporate malfeasance and environmental abuses. 

Long-standing and new regulations and approvals issued by government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration will have their actions challenged, often to be thrown out in court. 

A most contentious possibility is that FDA approval of the abortion pill Mifepristone will be rejected by the judiciary once the pro-life community finds plaintiffs who can meet the court’s requirement for “standing,” the missing element in the recent attempt to block the distribution of Mifepristone. 

What Joe Biden decides will not change Supreme Court decisions in the near term, but it should be clear to any voter paying attention that electing a president has consequences that affect the nomination of future justices and the rights currently enjoyed by the LGBTQ+ community, reproductive rights including IVF treatments and contraceptives, marital rights, religious freedoms, voting rights and election integrity. 

Monday will be a momentous day.