Meet the real boss

Senator Mitch McConnell Crowns Senator Elizabeth Warren

You guys, I am so far behind in writing about politics. Every day has so much political news that it feels like I’m aging in dog years. And then how will I ever catch up?

Anyway, tonight I bring you tidings of Senator Elizabeth Warren. It’s not unusual for the liberal Massachusetts senator to throw a grenade over the fence at the populist Trump, or for the president to respond with snarky tweets about “Pocahontus”, a jab at Warren’s debunked claim of being Native American. At the same time, Sen. Warren is clearly positioning herself to run in 2020. (Watch for fireworks between Warren and Senator Cory Booker. Or perhaps they’ll be running mates.)

Saint Elizabeth

The Boss of the Democratic Party

It may have been a combination of her distaste for Trump and the desire to be in the limelight that led to this week’s spectacle. Sen. Warren was urging the Senate to vote down Trump’s appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Warren produced a copy of a letter by Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King. The letter was written in 1986, and the main premise was that Sen. Sessions wasn’t fit for a judgeship for which he had been appointed, because his record demonstrated hostility to civil rights of black Americans. Sen. Sessions didn’t get the job, possibly due in part to this letter. Sen. Warren was clearly hoping Mrs. King’s letter would work a treat to kill the Attorney General nomination for Sessions.

It was a lousy plan, because no matter how furious Elizabeth Warren gets, no matter how her voice trembled with indignation as she read this 31-year-old letter, nothing was going to stop Sessions from becoming Attorney General. Also, if racism did motivate him in the 1960s to prosecute black civil rights leaders for voter fraud, as Mrs. King suspected, he must have used the past three decades to become a little smarter. Several black citizens were called as character witnesses for Sen. Sessions during his recent confirmation hearings and they spoke glowingly of him.

Senator Jeff Sessions

Senator Jeff Sessions

But Sen. Warren was either the recipient of dumb luck, or she accurately predicted that Senator Mitch McConnell would be unable to resist snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. With the lack of excitement that characterizes everything he does, Republican Senate Majority Leader McConnell objected to Sen. Warren’s reading this letter, citing obscure Rule 19 that prohibits trash talking fellow Senators while on the floor of the Senate. If you pay much attention to Congress, you’ll know that Sen. Warren is hardly the first senator to do this. However, she was admonished, and adminished again, and again, but Warren just kept going back to the letter and finally was asked to sit down and was banned from speaking again during the debate over Sessions.

US Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell

US Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell

Elizabeth Warren could not have been more delighted with herself. She knew she had no hope of defeating the Sessions’ nomination, and she knew she was boring everyone to death. Then, like a turtle-faced guardian angel, Sen. McConnell mumbled his way to her rescue.

She revelled in leftist adulation for an entire news cycle, doing numerous interviews from the Senate floor and darkly hinting that McConnell did not really object because of Rule 19. I agree with her. But while I know he was objecting to her personally because she was being shrill and obnoxious, Warren imagines she was ‘silenced’ because McConnell was unable to control his racism and sexism. It was pretty disgusting to hear her compared to the suffragettes and sitting at a lunch counter in Jim Crow South, when all she had done was try to exploit Mrs. King’s letter. (Am I the only person who feels offended by the hyperbolic comparisons in the media? “Trump is Hitler!” “Elizabeth Warren is a Suffragette!” It makes Hitler a synonym for “I disagree”, and cheapens what the suffragettes did.)

Interestingly, Mrs. King’s niece, who had served as her Communications director, spoke out immediately against Sen. Warren, noting that her aunt wanted to bring people together and probably would have supported Sessions for Attorney General, given his current record, but that Elizabeth Warren was playing the race card and using her family’s name to be divisive.

I don’t even want to think about how mad Cory Booker is right now. He also did some grandstanding and Mitch McConnell just sat there and listened. If McConnell was a more enterprising sort of fellow, he could sell his next objection to Booker for a cool $15,000.

you may have defeated me this time, Elizabeth Warren, but I'll be back!

you may have defeated me this time, Elizabeth Warren, but I’ll be back!

The Demise of Dylann Roof

Bravo, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel and the South Carolina jury, for giving Dylann Roof an appropriate sentence for his crime.  Roof, who identifies himself as a white supremacist, was on a mission to start a race war by killing nine innocent people who were quietly praying.

Dylann Roof was convicted in December on 33 counts by the federal government. Today, he was sentenced to death and the families could give impact statements. Roof apparently stared straight ahead, refusing to look them in the eye. Perhaps that shows some kind of decency, but at first blush, it sounds very cowardly.

Charleston

Everyone knows the story, but here goes: Roof showed up at AME Emmanuel Baptist church in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine strangers, including some senior citizens, were kind enough to invite him to join them. He sat with them for an hour. When they rose to pray, he opened fire with his .45-caliber Glock and killed:

  • Rev. Clementa Pinckney
  • Rev. Daniel Simmons
  • Susie Jackson
  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
  • Depayne Middleton-Doctor
  • Cynthia Hurd
  • Myra Thompson
  • Ethel Lance
  • Tywanza Sanders

Nobody ever imagined that Roof could be innocent. He freely admitted his guilt and said his motive was to spark a race war. What he could ever have gained from that is unclear, but he has shown no regret over his actions.

A journal he kept after being arrested reads, “I am not sorry.”

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Let me throw out an unconventional idea. Many crimes are senseless and cruel but I am not completely satisfied with the “race war” explanation. It does not ring true. No one is ever going to look at this crime and say, “I see where he’s coming from.” No, this is a crime that unites black and white people in sorrow and revulsion. Dylann Roof may not be too sharp, but he probably isn’t that stupid. What I’ve been wondering – I’m being sincere – is whether he might be possessed by some demon or malignant spirit.

I still remember those families coming forward and forgiving him. I’ve never seen anything like it. I respect them enormously but Can’t imagine that kind of forgiveness.

I worried that Roof, the 22-year-old mass murderer, would be shown some kind of extra consideration because of his young age. But the judge and jury wisely agreed to condemn the defendant.

I do feel bad for Dylann Roof’s family, who are also victims, as they will lose their son/brother/nephew. They will still be able to see him as he sits on death row though, and they can take some time to come to terms with his demise. That’s more than these victims and their families got. Nevertheless, they said they love him but are bewildered by his cruelty “which caused so much pain to so many good people.”

The families of criminals are invisible to us, but sometimes they are good people who are horrified and ashamed by what has taken place. Some, like Roof’s family, will (eventually) lose their loved one, too. Because of their association, it’s hard to muster sympathy and there is sometimes a degree of anger directed at them, too. But they are suffering, too.

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott commended the jury and wished “closure” for the surviving victims and the families. It’s a kind thought, but let’s be real. What could help these people move on? A murder conviction? A death sentence? After all, as Melvin Graham said today, “My sister is still gone.”

No, we will do what we can to bring justice, but it isn’t fair to ask these people to ever move past this moment.

putin-didnt-hear

What in the World is the Obama Administration Doing?

Soon-to-be-former President Barack Obama has been busy. He sprints through the final days of his term like a bargain basement, determined to have something significant Trump can’t undo. To that end, the president has devoted last week to bridge-burning with our allies.

It began when a UN resolution was passed that condemned Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The U.S. historically vetoed anti-Israeli bills like these but they didn’t this time. No explanation for the about-face on U.S. policy was given to the public, but Secretary of State John Kerry gave Israel a patronizing lecture that contained a few clues. “You can be Democratic or you can be Jewish, but you cannot be both,” he said. Note: This is the only documented instance of John Kerry saying anything interesting on record. Who cares if it’s nonsense?

Planned talks for a 2-state solution collapsed two years ago, and it didn’t trouble Obama until last week. His refusal to stand by Israel is more likely a byproduct of his icy relationship with Netanyahu.

netanyahu

No bromance here

Trump sent a tweet calling Kerry a traitor and inexplicably referring to him as “the worst import from Vietnam”. He appeared with Don King for a mini-press conference (because why not?), and the boxing promoter waved small U.S. and Israeli flags. Trump said relatively little about Kerry except his speech “spoke for itself.”

The Israeli government responded quickly: “We have ironclad information that the Obama administration really helped push this resolution and helped craft it.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Secretary Kerry of supporting terrorism, which was unfairly harsh. Kerry doesn’t originate ideas or map out strategies. His only skill is reading in grave, statesman-like tones; he probably thinks the West Bank settlement is a condo community in Georgetown. 

Seriously, I don't know anything. But I look just like Andrew Jackson, right?

Seriously, I don’t know anything, but I look a lot like Andrew Jackson.

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