Let's Fix This Country
law

Rising Discontent Says It’s Time to Reform the Supreme Court…

The Supreme Court is back in session facing a docket filled with controversial cases involving abortion, gun rights, and religion that are bound to stir anger no matter how decided. The court's new 6-to-3 configuration whereby Trump's three conservative appointments have overloaded the right end of the bench has made the court itself
controversial, with a public that questions its legitimacy giving it an approval rating that has dropped to an unheard of 40% in a recent poll.

President Biden deflected the radical proposition of packing the court –adding four liberal justices to flip 6-to-3 to 6-to-7 — by appointing a commission to examine the merits and legality of how the court might be reformed. The ideas debated revealed that there is a great deal more dissatisfaction with the court than its rightward tilt.

The Court's power has attracted the most debate. Because Congress has chosen deadlock over compromise and ceded much of its role to the executive branch, it has left the courts to decide cases that should have been made unnecessary by legislation. The upshot is that the court is thought to have gone well beyond "calling balls and strikes", as Chief Justice John Roberts memorably described his role in his confirmation hearing. Republicans have long complained of an activist Supreme Court guilty of legislating from the bench, but beginning with the court deciding the presidency in Bush v. Gore in 2000 followed by hotly disputed decisions such as Citizens United and the evisceration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, it is now the Democrats who are leery of the court's activism.

A prevailing complaint is that the Court too readily confers on itself the right to strike down laws passed by Congress. The right of judicial…

national security

The Big Lie Exposed, The Coup Plan Revealed, But Trump Will Run Again

Without even touching on the troubles with Biden's economic plan, the border crisis, the debt celing, it has been a whirlwind couple of weeks with new revelations about the Trump presidency pouring forth from the Bob Woodward and Robert Costa book, "Peril", and capped by the comical announcement that Arizona recount #4 had found, contrary to its clear intent, that not only had Biden won (for the 4th time), but that they had found 360 additional votes for him than before.

Where to begin? How about how the lie became The Big Lie?

Two weeks after the election that Donald Trump said was rigged, his lawyers gathered on November 19 at Republican national headquarters
From the election to the insurrection, more revelations
to tell us in a widely viewed news conference that voting machines had used software developed in Venezuela that had been jiggered to keep Cesar Chavez in power; that the leadership of Dominion Voting Services, which produced the vote-tabulating machines, had ties to George Soros and the left-wing movement antifa. (Chavez died seven years ago.)

Hair dye trickling down his cheek, Rudy Giuliani exclaimed,

"This is real! It is not made up. It is not, there's nobody here that engages in fantasies…You should be more astounded by the fact that our votes are counted in Germany and in Spain by a company owned by affiliates of Chavez and Maduro".

But now comes the discovery that they knew all along they were turning a lie into The Big Lie. In a defamation suit filed by the actual Dominion employee who had done the software coding, an internal White House memo surfaced that had been circulated just days after the election showing the Trump legal team was indeed spewing nonsense.

The memo had been produced by a group who had…

policy

Republicans Cripple the IRS to Serve the Rich, Starve Government

The Senate has produced a 2,700 page bill to provide roughly $1 trillion for infrastructure improvement across the next 10 years but with only the vaguest notions of how to pay for it, not least because Republicans disallowed inclusion of $80 billion across those years to beef up tax collection by the Internal Revenue Service. That is in keeping with budget cuts across the years despite the IRS being the one government agency that more than pays for itself. Sure enough, the Congressional Budget Office has since estimated that the repayment plan falls short by $250 billion.

After

an 11% hike in funding by the Obama administration, money dried up when Republicans won the House in 2010 and the IRS budget has been driven downward in real terms by nearly 15% over the last decade.

The consequences have been dramatic. Since peak in 2010, the agency has had to let 19,000 full-time employees go, with the number of auditors at a low not seen since the 1950s when the country's population was half its current size. Audit rates have hit a 40-year low declining by 37% for corporations from 2010 to 2018 and by 46% for…

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law

…Not Least for There Being No Oversight

Judicial scholars are skeptical of several of the Supreme Court's practices. The court goes its own way, subject to no check and balance, and certain of its actions raise ethical questions. Unlike all other courts, the high court is uniquely free of oversight and does not even have a self-governing code of ethics much less a code imposed from without, as by Congress.

At the level below, federal courts must handle all cases appealed to them. Not so the Supreme Court, which alone chooses the cases it will hear. That was not always true. For the first 100-or-so years, the court had to review every case appealed to it. That would be hugely impractical in a United States orders of magnitude larger. But in some of the cases it does hear, the court is accused of going beyond their parameters, most consequentially in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in which the justices called for the re-argument of a case — whether a corporate-funded political movie could be aired close to the 2008 primary elections — in order to expand its decision to apply to corporate and union spending on all elections.

A significant criticism of the certiorari process by which the court picks its cases is that the justices drop hints of cases they would like to hear. Chief Justice Roberts angered conservatives for voting to strike down a Louisiana abortion regulation; consistency demanded deciding the same as the court had done four years earlier in a… Read More »

the pandemic

The Forever Pandemic: Americans Decide to Keep It Going

Consider where we were with the pandemic. America had developed powerful vaccines to thwart the coronavirus and in the spring, President Biden was on track to reach his goal of at least one dose into the arms of 70% of the adult population by the 4th of July.

Then he hit a wall, coming up against the solid core of those fighting for the freedom to do as they pleased. No government could tell them what to do. No vaccine and no masks either, because no virus could violate their constitutional right to endanger all around them.

So, hope of herd immunity forsaken, along came the Delta mutation to gain a foothold in what Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) head Rachel Walensky accurately called the "pandemic of the unvaccinated". Cases zoomed, currently at 150,000 a day. The U.S. is gaining on its January peak of 140,000 sick abed in hospitals with over 100,000 going into September, leading to over 1,500 deaths per day for
the first time since March. City after city, state after state, are sounding the alarm of no remaining beds; one in five ICUs report occupancy at 95% of capacity. The United States passed the 40 million mark in total Covid cases over the Labor Day weekend. Deaths now exceed 650,000.

Hospitals across the nation report that as high as 97% of the sick are unvaccinated. Southern states are the most affected, tracking nicely with the lowest vaccination rates. The overflow sees patients on gurneys lining hospital hallways. At the University of Mississippi, two of its hospital's parking garages were converted to Covid wards. That state’s hospital system is on the verge of collapse, says its hospital association. States are looking for refrigerated trailers to store the… Read More »

military

Can the U.S. Navy Win in a War Against China’s?

A war with China would be a naval war, and the United States Navy is not at all prepared. Long assuming our invulnerability as a navy centered on aircraft carrier strike groups while the nature of warfare changes, we have watched China rapidly develop a navy of far more ships equipped with advanced weaponry that has surpassed our own.

Compounding this mounting disparity, our navy has been plagued by mishaps. Two years ago a fire aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, a ship designed to land amphibious Marine assaults, burned for five days, so destroying the ship that the Navy decided to decommission it for scrap. The captain of the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was relieved
USS Theodore Roosevelt entering port at Da Nang, Vietnam.

of command for disputing Navy command's reluctance to evacuate the ship when a Covid-19 outbreak at sea in the spring of 2020 sickened a thousand of the 4,800 crew members and led to one death.

In June 2017, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a commercial vessel near Japan, killing seven U.S. sailors. Two months later, USS John S. McCain collided with a commercial vessel near Singapore, killing 10 American sailors. And there had been other less serious collisions earlier that year that damaged two Navy… Read More »

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