Author Archives: J. Allan Wolf

About J. Allan Wolf

J. Allan Wolf is a writer, a physician (OK, retired), a nerdy ham radio operator, and a bad guitarist. (The groupie thing just hasn't worked out very well.) Read his two books, Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe (very science fiction-y) and Zendoscopy (very, very funny but also serious in places and explicit -- don't read it if you're a prude). If you buy my books (print or e-book format at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and elsewhere) I won't have to go without lunches or clean underwear. So, thanks in advance.

Guns

By the time I was 12 years old, I was highly proficient with both rifles and handguns as a result of time spent learning to shoot at a camp I attended over several summers. My father belonged to the NRA and had a subscription to at least one gun magazine. We had guns in the house: two rifles and at least one handgun. Safety was paramount, and both my brother and I learned to respect firearms and the risk they presented if handled carelessly.

I didn’t give much thought to the societal impact of widespread gun possession until that awful day, November 22, 1963. I was a senior in high school and in my second period gym class when the teacher called us together and said – I remember his words precisely: “The President has been shot. Go take your shower and get dressed with dignity.”

Shortly after, the announcement came that President Kennedy had been fatally wounded. School was dismissed and my mother came to pick me up. When we arrived home, I went immediately to my bedroom, where I lay down and cried. If you are part of a generation that has followed mine, this may be difficult for you to imagine. But for us it was the sudden and devastating end to an era of idealism connected to the Kennedy Presidency that we had come to call “Camelot”. For my generation and even that of our parents, the world changed on that day and has not been the same since.

Over the four days that followed the assassination, the country sat, riveted to television, as the shocking aftermath played out with the killing of  the murderer, Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby. We watched in grief the funeral of the slain President. Lyndon Johnson, who bore no love for the Kennedys, was respectful and did his best to reassure a shocked nation that our country would all get through the ordeal. Many of us weren’t so sure.

It was then that I decided I would never shoot a firearm again — ever. I was 17, idealistic and impressionable when Kennedy was assassinated. Now I am 71 and in many ways much the same person I was in 1963.  I have remained true to the vow I made back then. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, innumerable killings and mass shootings later – all of these have served to reinforce my resolve over the use of firearms as well as my disappointment over our collective, ongoing failure to deal with guns and the price we pay for misinterpretation of the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment of the Constitution states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The NRA and its members and supporters conveniently ignore the “well regulated militia” specification of the amendment, stressing only “the right to keep and bear Arms”. In other words, few or, preferably, no, restrictions on gun ownership is the policy pushed  by a powerful lobbying organization and supported by a large segment of its members and sympathizers  The influence of the NRA and its gang of aspiring vigilantes has quite effectively stymied reasonable efforts at firearms regulation and, in so doing, has done much to enable both individual and mass murder in the U.S.

What can be done? It is abundantly clear that all the tears and hand wringing, prayers and speechifying after each new violent episode are useless in bringing action by  a Congress that has been bought by the NRA. In fact, there really is only one solution, one that will, in fact, work. In the words of our deranged President, “Believe me.” But it’s not likely to happen anytime soon, unfortunately. That’s because what it will take is for an overwhelming public expression at the ballot box, electing candidates who stand for placing reasonable limits on gun ownership and, very specifically, the processes associated with acquiring guns and ammunition. Put simply, national policy won’t change until elected representatives in Congress – both the House and the Senate — are voted out of office and replaced by individuals who can’t be either intimidated or bought by the NRA. Those of us who vote simply aren’t a big enough group to produce the change without help from the largely apathetic segment of the population that doesn’t seem to care. Can they be mobilized? Today, it seems like a longshot.

I’m old enough, with my youthful idealism now tempered by a slightly cynical dose of realism, to understand that it probably won’t happen in my lifetime. Still, I can hope. After all and if it’s any indication, a lot of folks in Las Vegas may have changed their mind about speaking up after this past weekend’s mass killings.

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President Donald Trump, E.D.

OK, here it is up front: President Trump is an Evil Doofus.

Every day it’s something new as he stumbles ever onward in his malignantly ignorant, incompetent, unethical, and immoral crusade to destroy the country and everything it has, admittedly imperfectly but at least aspirationally, stood for since its founding.

You know the particulars, so this won’t be a litany of his greatest (?) hits. No, let’s just look at this from a thirty thousand foot level to see where we are and where we might be going.

Trump has become like a marooned shipwreck victim, the only soul on an otherwise deserted island. He’s alienated much of Congress including ranking members whose support he would need for his agenda if he had one. He’s also losing support from independents who voted for him and even beginning to see erosion of his base, although not a hard core of low information voters so ignorant of what’s going on (Fox News rots the brain) that they don’t even know who Robert Mueller is or what he’s doing. He fired soulmate and Chief Yeti Bannon (who’s now cozying up to the Neanderthal Congressional Freedom Caucus) and it may not be long before the Executive Wing’s resident ghoul, Stephen Miller goes, too. Not much heard from Jared and Ivanka lately. Maybe they’re not too comfortable with Trump’s embrace of white supremacist, anti-Semitic neo-Nazis. But, then Jared’s an Orthodox Jew and Ivanka converted. It’ll likely make for some interesting family gatherings over the High Holidays. And finally, his just-made deal with Pelosi and Schumer, an act reeking of revenge against Congressional Republicans, won’t really endear him in any long term way to Democrats. In fact, he was snookered by Nancy and Chuck, who’ll be right back at him in 90 days.

So here we have poor, lonely, angry, stupid, malevolent Trump, the Evil Doofus, all alone except for his greatest object of worship: himself. One wonders, what is it that rattles around in his largely empty head as what might generously be said to pass for thought? Does he have any insight into his total lack of fitness, ability, and temperament for the Presidency? Does he have any sense of how empty a shell he really is? That he has no higher purposes in life than sating his own personal ego and pursuing more and more filthy lucre? Is it actually all just unmitigated narcissism? We don’t know but we certainly know how it looks. On the other hand, does it matter?

At base, I’m a behaviorist, so what might be flitting around inside the man’s cranium is of little to no importance to me. What is important to me is what spews out of that idiotically hair-pieced excrescence atop his neck. And on nearly a daily basis, each new government-by-tweeted pronouncement adds itself to a collection of what most likely will go down in history as the most idiotic body of work ever authored by a U.S. President.

So, where to from here? September is upon us, and it’s going to be a doozy of a month as Congress continues to fume impotently over his debt limit deal linked with hurricane Harvey relief. And then there’s the new hurricane on its way, and Trump’s cynical dumping of responsibility for a final DACA disposition on Congress with implied if not overt pressure to attach it to funding for his ridiculous border wall, which Congress probably won’t support. This could lead in December to an epic standoff with Trump threatening again to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t allocate wall funding and Congress telling him to go fuck himself. Bear in mind that a government shutdown would preclude provision of further Federal aid for hurricane recovery. The extreme right wing would gloat while victims continue to suffer.

It has become apparent that Trump doesn’t really care about much of anything. Willing to turn on staff, to abandon prior positions and even deny that he ever held them, and supportive of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, he is attempting to take us headlong into an Orwellian world of newspeak, where language and truth are malleable and mean only what is intended by him and a sycophantic entourage too dumb to realize that loyalty with the man is a one way street. Trump’s vision, if one dares to call it such, is of fascistic autocracy and Nazi-like national expulsion of those he sees as non-white, non-Christian, and not loyal either to him or to the police state he would oversee as Exalted Poobah, a man with unlimited power and authority, a mad barbarian and a philistine to boot.

Of course, it’s possible that he’ll be impeached before the end of his term, but the wheels of justice turn slowly so breath holding is not recommended. Our best hope at this time is for Democratic party dominance in the 2018 midterm elections, with enough power gained in Congress to restrain both him and the far right wing in their efforts to dismantle every humane program and every agency dedicated to the protection of our environment, health and welfare, and national security. Of course, the Democrats have a stellar history of being unable to get it together but, who knows? Maybe after 2018 Congress will even be able to force the Evil Doofus finally to name an ambassador to South Korea. Go Dems, and keep up the good work, Nancy and Chuck!

Political Keystone Cops

I’ve said it before and, unfortunately, I’m saying it once more: it’s hard to know where to begin. In fact, I had to force myself to sit down and write about the current political situation yet again but, as in the case of train wrecks, it’s horrble but impossible to look away.

The sheer incompetence of Trump and his coterie of Keystone Cops, aided and abetted by a cowardly and self-interested Congress, seems bent on destroying what’s left of our country’s grand democratic experiment. How, in just over 100 days, Trump has inflicted such severe damage to our political system is simply breathtaking. Worse, there is a substantial segment of the American population that is still cheering him on. Last evening, for example, I attended a meeting of a non-political organization I have belonged to for over twenty years, and one guy actually showed up wearing the infamous red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap. There is no arguing with this guy. Trump could be an ax murderer and the fellow would still be a totally devoted member of the cult.

And so, to the subject at hand: the crisis in the wake of James Comey’s abrupt firing. And if ever there was an example of confusion and incompetence, this has to be its epitome. Let’s begin with the ludicrous assertion by Trump and minions that the firing was because of Comey’s fumbled treatment of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server. Trump’s inconsistent behavior about this was – is — jaw-dropping.

Last July, he railed against Comey for not pursuing prosecution against Clinton. Then, eleven days before the November election, when Comey announced re-opening of the e-mail investigation, Trump lauded the FBI Director for his action. Finally, as his rationale for firing Comey, Trump cited Comey’s arguably incompetent management of the matter. In support of this, he cited a memo which he had requested from nominally recused Attorney General Lawn Gnome Sessions and his un-recused Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. Transparently ridiculous, this “justification” wasn’t (isn’t) accepted by anyone with an IQ above idiot level. Timing and circumstance were clear. The firing was because of Comey’s failure to swear allegiance to self-appointed deity Trump and his pursuit of the investigation into possible Russian interference on Trump’s behalf in the November election. Furthermore, shortly before the firing, Comey had requested additional resources to pursue the Russian investigation, perhaps the final straw that precipitated Trump’s abrupt action.

Now, while Trump’s loyal robots were out on their tightly held extension cords promoting the laughable idea that the firing was because of Comey’s mistreatment of Clinton, Trump decided to give an interview to Lester Holt on NBC. And guess what? Trump threw his entire staff under the figurative speeding campaign bus (you’d think it would have gone into storage after November, but you’d be wrong) by saying that he was going to fire Comey regardless of what the memo from Rosenstein said. In other words, he discounted his own initially stated reason for the firing. This is a guy who not only knows nothing. He also can’t remember anything he says or thinks from one day to the next.

So, cutting to the chase, what we now have is a clear case of obstruction of justice, and this is a sufficient reason to consider impeachment. Still don’t see it? Well, here it is in simple terms: Trump and lackey Devin Nunes initially prevented Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying before the House Committee chaired by Nunes regarding what she told the Trump administration (on three occasions) about concerns regarding General Michael Flynn’s contact with the Russian ambassador and participation in a discussion regarding sanctions reduction. Then, Trump, obviously afraid of where the investigation would lead, fired Comey in a clear attempt to derail it. None of Trump’s bleating about fake news and the “hoax” of Russian intervention rings true in the slightest, and every contradictory  pronouncement simply increases the impression of an incompetently executed cover-up. And this attempted cover up, despite it’s clumsiness and failure to convince anyone, constitutes obstruction of justice.

We have now arrived at a point at which ongoing damage caused by this imbecilic demagogue with no moral or ethical center can no longer be tolerated. It’s clear that Congress isn’t ready to act yet, but I believe that he must be removed from the Presidency with all due haste. I say this with the full knowledge that in doing so we will then be stuck with a President Pence. This will constitute an awful outcome, but “awful” somehow still seems better than “intolerable”.

Will the Republicans in Congress grow cojones and do what’s right? Maybe, if we demand it, but as of today I’m not taking any bets. Write to your Congressional representatives. If we stay silent, we’ll deserve the dictatorship we’ll get.

The Tragedy of Sean Spicer

As anyone who’s been watching the news this past week knows, Sean Spicer had a terrible week, as did those of us who unfortunately were exposed to the utterings of this empty-headed, moronic, Trump sycophant spout his ignorant comments about Hitler and the Holocaust, all garnished with the mangling of Bashar al-Assad’s name not once, but multiple times. It is commonly known that when in a hole, the best way to get out is first to stop digging, a lesson Mr. Spicer should not have had to learn at such a late stage in his career.

Of course, Spicer has had zero credibility ever since his infamous inauguration attendance lie in support of President (urp!) Trump, but the difference between that outright lie and the ignorant misstatement he spouted regarding Hitler’s use of poison gas in what he amazingly called “holocaust centers” took him to a new level of incompetent buffoonery.

One may(?) be tempted to ask, how the President’s Press Secretary could be possessed of such ineptness. Was it ignorance? Stupidity? Born of Holocaust denial?

Well, here’s my theory, at least.

Spicer was born in 1971. He’s neither a member of Tom Brokaw’s “greatest generation” nor a baby boomer. In other words, he’s two generations removed from World War II. He’s a product of the combination of a failing American education system, contemporary Republican ignorance and misunderstanding of history, and the ongoing, virtually endemic racial and religious bigotry that’s come to reside at the core of the Republican Party. These multiple forces have come together in Spicer to create a person who, unfortunately, is not a one-off in contemporary American society but has become one of its outstanding exponents. I strongly doubt that Spicer is willfully malevolent. More, he’s simply naïve, ignorant, and oblivious, and it’s a problem we will likely face increasingly in the future. “Sad.”

Many of us who pride ourselves on being liberal and progressive are justly horrified by what we see happening in and to our country. Those ideals we have grown up respecting seem to be getting trampled (Trumpled?) with ever-increasing frequency and an almost vengeful intensity. As the three branches of government, all now controlled by a party that would take us back to days of Jim Crow, isolationism, and a world that they erroneously believe was somehow idyllic, we face the real possibility that the minority in our country, soon to be a minority-majority, will revolt. And this is how revolutions, often violent, happen.

It is imperative that the majority of Americans, whom we know to disagree with the direction in which we are now being taken – remember that Clinton won the popular vote – become vocal and politically active. And we must express ourselves at the polls. Millennials, who stood on idealistic principle for Bernie Sanders and refused to vote for Clinton, sacrificed a view of the possible for the unattainable perfect. If they do not come out with other minorities and liberal progressives and vote in 2018 to help take back the Senate and chip away at the Republican margin in the House, the reactionary headlong rush to the Dark Ages will continue, and women’s rights, science and medicine, the environment, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, separation of church and state, and the living conditions of the poor will all suffer as the Constitution continues to be trampled in the name of creating a more “Christian America” run by robber barons and right wing religious fanatics.

Finally, it never ceases to amaze me how so many people who are the victims of Republican policies continue to support the party. Trump, both directly and aided by his spokespeople, continue to lie and then act in ways damaging to those who elected him. Which brings me back to Sean Spicer, a man whose time should never have come but has, and should be given the boot immediately. The man has no credibility and is nothing more than a simple, ignorant, Trump toady, afraid and probably unable to stand up to the boss and speak intelligently to the press and American public. He needs to go, and he needs to go now.

Subversion of Purpose: Subversion of Country

When I began this blog a little over two years ago (yes, this is entry #104), I stated its main purpose as a literary one. Partly it was to flack my own writing, and partly it was to discuss writing, publishing, and culture in general. The turn taken since then in national politics, however, has led me to write much more about social and political trends and, in particular in recent times, my concerns over the willfully ignorant, bullying, narcissistic, misogynistic, science denying, and generally incompetent Neanderthal who now occupies the White House. Oh, and his coterie of fellow moral degenerates, ignoramuses, and incompetents.

It seems as if we are being assaulted on a daily basis with mean-spirited and potentially dangerous actions and pronouncements of this group of evil clowns, and there is little evidence that anyone has either the courage or the wherewithal to bring them to heel. Of equal and even greater concern is the fact that the extremism of the administration has served to unmask the true nature of the more extended Republican mindset and the heretofore somewhat repressed racism and religious bigotry of much of the American public, some 35% of which (as of today) remains solidly behind Trump and the Republicans.

What is the ugliness that has been set free upon us? The spectrum, unfortunately, is a broad one. Here are a few elements of the current American deconstruction.  The list is far from complete, as new ones appear every day and some that we aren’t even learning about until well beyond the tweets and Executive Orders:

  • The Trump-Ryan American Health Care bill: This, of course, was a doozy. Trump probably never read the bill, of course, since he doesn’t like to read. And so, while promising “terrific” health care for everyone, he backed a bill written by Speaker Ryan that would kick 14 million souls off the insurance roll within a year, and 24 million within ten years. When it appeared that it would fail because of the no votes of the wildly misnamed “Freedom Caucus” (29 angry white males) and some moderate Republicans, the proponents offered to make it better. How? By attacking such things as pre-existing condition coverage and the creation of an excluded diagnosis list. Yes, terrific for everyone. In the end, of course, it didn’t please anyone. It wasn’t mean enough for the Freedom guys and it wasn’t generous enough for the moderates or, of course, the Democrats. Trump tried to blame Democrats, in part, for the failure of passage. But, then, maybe he forgot that the Democrats already have a health care bill, the ACA (Obamacare). Now, Trump has hinted that he might actually try to sabotage the ACA in order to get what he really wants.
  • The Trump immigration ban: The first attempt was blocked by a judge, as was the “improved” bill. Several aspects of this are quite noteworthy. First, the original seven countries, all predominantly Muslim, have no Trump business interests. Other predominantly Muslim countries in the region do and, of course, were left off the list. Second, the ban was overtly religious in nature and therefore in violation of the first amendment. Put simply, you can’t ban a whole religion for no reason other than pure bigotry. Third, the original ban was written so poorly, was so sloppy, that it banned people with legitimate visas and green cards from entering the country. Duh. Fourth, there was no evidence that the ban would do anything to prevent acts of domestic terrorism. The U.S. already conducts extensive vetting activities, and immigration is limited to those who can and do pass careful review. Furthermore, it is simply unreasonable to impose a blanket ban upon a group of people because some lone terrorist might be among them. And, in case Trump hasn’t noticed, there have been no terrorist acts committed in the U.S. by immigrants from any of the initial seven banned countries.
  • Trump’s appointments: What the hell is it with Trump’s appointments? Flynn is out as the first casualty of the Russian affair. Bannon was just pulled from his seat on the National Security Council because, the administration says, he’s no longer needed there to oversee Flynn. Wait a minute. Trump put someone on the NSC that he didn’t trust? Yikes!!! And now Bannon is apparently pissed over being pulled, so maybe Flynn’s departure wasn’t the real reason Bannon was yanked. Will we ever know? Not from Trump, and certainly not from Spicer, who’s got about as much credibility as Trump, himself, being as he is Trump’s ass-kissing lackey. And then there’s Rick Perry. I don’t even know what to say about this guy, who wanted to get rid of the agency he now heads and, as it turns out, had no idea of what the agency actually does. Ben Carson for HUD Secretary? The man who thinks the pyramids were built as grain storage facilities? And this man was a practicing brain surgeon. Maybe he was just on a career search for his own.
  • And speaking of appointments, there’s perhaps the biggest doozy of all: Betsy DeVos, a person so ignorant about education that she’s both horrifying and a laughingstock among everyone except religious nuts, those who oppose the fundamental American value placed upon public education, and those who don’t actually think guns in classrooms are necessary for the prevention of bear attacks. DeVos is the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live, except that she’s frightening instead of funny. Now, isn’t that special? (My apologies to Dana Carvey.)
  • And, although the list could go on and on, say, to deal with efforts to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, build the “beautiful” wall, the wiretapping allegation against former President Obama, and more, we shouldn’t leave out foreign relations: Russian hacking, North Korean nuclear saber rattling, relations with China, issues surrounding the administration’s attitude toward NATO… It’s never-ending, and too much to get into in this piece.

So, I’ll bring it to a close with a few questions. When is enough going cross into too much? When will the conflicts of interest, the lying and the gross incompetence lead either to impeachment or removal through the 25th amendment. When will the Republicans grow a set and realize that they’ve become the party of angry, mean-spirited, and bigoted tolerance? When will they have the courage to take action against a demagogue? And when will American citizens finally stand up and say we’re angry and depressed, and revolted by what we see, and we’re not going to take it anymore?

NOTE: As I was finishing writing the entry above, the airfield attack with Tomahawk missiles ordered by President Trump was being carried out. As some toadying politicians of both parties congratulated him for his bold action, others, including myself, were not so thrilled. What the President did was unconstitutional. The constitution does not permit the President to initiate an act of war against a foreign government and, especially, one posing no immediate threat to the safety and security of the United States. What President Dumpkof should have done was seek authorization from Congress for the action. The precedent set by his failure to do so, one that reeks of power-mad dictatorship, is horrifying. If the President can do this, what other country might he, on his own and without advice and consent, attack? What weapons might he unleash without restraint? And yet even more questions present themselves. Why did the Generals proceed with implementation of a clearly illegal order? Are we facing the unholy alliance of a dictator with the military? And what is to be said of a Congress that is not only complicit in its own developing impotence, but is even cheering its support as it is being thrust into irrelevancy?

Donald Trump, Deconstructed

Here are a few questions about Donald Trump:

  • Why does he avoid teleprompters?
  • Why does he love the poorly educated? (He said so, remember?)
  • Why did he not realize that he had signed an executive order placing Steve Bannon on the National Security Council?
  • Why does he not type most (or at least many) of his own tweets but, rather, dictate them to staff to type?
  • Why has he refused to take daily briefings from intelligence and national security staffs?
  • Why does he not read lease agreements?
  • Why does he not read books?
  • Why does he speak at no greater than a fourth grade level?
  • Why does he surround himself so closely with Don, Eric, and Ivanka?

The answer may be as simple as it is shocking: President Trump can barely read. Whether it’s dyslexia, ADHD, or just simply that he never learned to read above lower grade school level, all indications are that it’s not just that he doesn’t read. It’s that he literally can’t read.

Inability to read explains much of what we saw during the campaign and, certainly, what we’ve been seeing in the weeks since his inauguration. And I am totally serious, here – this is not a joke. I think the man is functionally illiterate. How else can we explain what we’ve seen? His grown children stay close because they are clearly aware of their father’s inability to read. They protect him by filtering all that goes in and out. They know, and they cover for him.

It accounts for why he doesn’t read his briefing documents, newspapers, or other materials. He simply can’t assimilate them, and so he is totally dependent upon his staff and television to give him what is ultimately highly filtered and potentially biased input. Thus, he is easily manipulated by those around him, accounting for how Steve Bannon ended up on the NSC. Bannon simply had him sign the order, knowing that it would not be read before the signature was affixed. The proof of this is that Trump now says he “wasn’t briefed” about what he was signing. The ugly and frightening truth is that Steve Bannon is more the President than is Trump, a fact terrifyingly satirized by Saturday Night Live, when the actor playing Bannon (dressed as the grim reaper) took over the President’s role, relegating an infantile Trump played by Alec Baldwin to the side, where he sat at a child’s desk and played like an idiot with a toy.

Trump, the real estate mogul, has stated that he does not read lease agreements and, on one occasion documented on video, when challenged to do so he was unable to interpret one. Trump, the politician, disparages teleprompters because he can’t read them. And Trump, the ersatz everyman, says he loves the poorly educated. Of course he does: he’s one of them.

The man elected to the Presidency of the United States is an ignorant, arrogant, bullying, misogynistic, impulsive, functionally illiterate dolt who is at risk of, and is likely already a victim of, manipulation by those around him, Steve Bannon being arguably the most dangerous. He has appointed a Cabinet of the most unqualified, individuals imaginable, and the team as a whole is committed to a vision of America that will only do grave damage to those who gave him his greatest support but are too blind to see what they’ve done and what is about to befall them.

There is an old saying: the fish stinks from the head. Look no further here. It’s that guy who can’t read the handwriting on the wall. I almost, but not quite, feel sorry for him. I do feel sorry for those of us who know what’s coming.

Where, Oh Where, Do We Begin?

It’s been less than two weeks and it’s already hard to know where to begin. The irrational, executive order on immigration and refugees? The firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates (instantly making her a martyr), the firing of the ICE Director, the directive to start building the wall, threatening to send U.S. troops into Mexico, hanging up on the Australian Prime Minister? Well, these among other travesties and incompetent acts are all worthy of discussion, but for now I’d like to say a few words about President Lout’s appointment of the man likely to be our newest Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch.

First, a bit of review. In the presence of a vacancy on the Court, it is the Constitutional duty of the President to make a nomination, following which it is the responsibility of the Judicial Committee of the Senate to vet the nominee and of the full Senate to confirm or not confirm the nominee, as the case may be.

In the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death last year, President Obama fulfilled his Constitutional duty by nominating Judge Merrick Garland, a universally respected, highly qualified, moderate jurist to take the deceased Scalia’s seat on the Court. Senator Mitch McConnell, aka “The Turtle”, vowed that no nomination made in the final year of President Obama’s term of office would receive any consideration by the Judicial Committee. In doing so, he excused his raw and unconstitutional action by citing what he called the “Biden rule”, a nonexistent rule based solely upon something Joseph Biden said several years ago but having no basis in legislative law. McConnell. thus laid the groundwork blocking any fair and required action on the nomination. This disgraceful act resulted in the theft of the nomination from President Obama, and left the Court one justice short of its normal complement of nine individuals. The Court responded by failing to take on a number of cases that it otherwise might have considered.

So now, Presidential Lout, fulfilling a campaign promise to pick someone acceptable to the far and evangelical right, has nominated an extreme conservative to fill the empty slot, and Republicans are gloating over their unconstitutional triumph. Worse, it should be noted that the Lout’s gang is accusing Democrats of being obstructive by threatening to filibuster the nomination. This, of course, is utter hypocrisy given prior Republican behavior.

It seems inevitable that Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed, although the Democrats may be able to delay confirmation to some minimal extent. But I do believe that an additional protest is warranted. I suggest that when the roll is called for confirmation, EVERY DEMOCRAT SHOULD, INSTEAD OF VOTING “NO” OR BOYCOTTING THE VOTE, LOUDLY PROCLAIM A VOICE A VOTE FOR MERRICK GARLAND. This will do nothing to change the outcome, but at least it will get the attention of the public and remind everyone of the disgusting and obstructive behavior of Senate Majority Leader Turtle and his cohorts in governmental crime.

As a final comment regarding Neil Gorsuch, there are those who have suggested that the Lout might not be getting quite what he is expecting with the appointment. Gorsuch is a strict constructionist, yes, and a far right conservative, yes, and takes a radical view of religious rights (the Hobby Lobby decision) and, consequently, is no friend of women’s rights, but because of his belief in strict adherence to established principles embodied within the Constitution and legislation, there is a glimmer of hope that he at least will not mindlessly support the wild decrees of the Lout. If true, this would be at least one positive in what so far seems an abysmal turn of affairs in our beloved country. Not enough to justify, in my mind, his confirmation to the Supreme Court, but the simple fact is that he will be confirmed, so we need to take whatever small hope there may be that he won’t be the disaster we’re nevertheless expecting.