While the rest of us were watching the New England Patriots execute the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, winning their 5th Vince Lombardi Trophy, former president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were in the British Virgin Islands — on Richard Branson’s private island — soaking up the sun and kite surfing. You know he was chill because he had his hat turned backwards.
Of course in the fevered world of the right wingy conspiracy theory nuts this is a signal of some sort to the Chicago gangs, or the Muslim terror groups, or something. If a Black man wears his hat backwards he’s a gangbanger. If a white guy does it, he’s just being chill. The only people that are cool wearing their hats backwards are baseball catchers and photographers/videographers.
At times it feels like a good idea to write just about sports. At least we can bet on sports.
The big story though is President Donald J. Trump.
Just 20 days into his presidency we’ve seen millions of women, men and children take to the streets around the world to protest the groper-in-chief. Almost three million just here in the U.S. Nearly all of his cabinet picks have issues, with the two exceptions being two retired Marine Corps generals: James Mattis and John Kelly, for Department of Defense and Homeland Security, respectively.
On Wednesday the completely unqualified Betsy DeVos was confirmed on a 51-50 vote in the U.S. Senate — the first ever cabinet nominee to require the Vice President of the United States to cast a tie-breaking vote to be confirmed.
Before that the Trump Administration issued its Muslim ban, calling it a travel ban, that wasn’t a ban, even though they called it a ban. That’s in the courts now, waiting on a decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for a decision. It’s not looking good for the president. The lawyers representing the government could not come up with any evidence that the seven countries named had been a threat to the United States.
The plaintiffs, on the other hand, provided evidence that the Muslim ban did harm to them. The plaintiffs represented tech companies and states with public universities staffed and attended by people from those seven nations. Then there is all the recorded, on videotape, evidence of then candidate Trump and his surrogates calling it a Muslim ban and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani telling Fox News how the Trump Administration would get around violating the First Amendment so a Muslim ban could be legal.
To lend some weight to his claim that the Muslim ban was needed, the president told a room full of military people a blatant lie. He said, “Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland as they did on 9/11, as they did from Boston to Orlando, to San Bernardino and all across Europe. You’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported, and in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”
Then the administration put out a list of terrorist attacks from around the world — all of which had been covered in the media to some degree. Then there is this little … issue: in his little lie the president says they, the CentCom audience saw it. And where would that have seen it? On the news … Begs the question: doesn’t anyone in that administration think this stuff through?
Obviously not because we also found out President Trump doesn’t review these executive orders before he signs them, which is how Steve Bannon became a principle member of the National Security Council and the Head of the Joint-Chiefs-of-Staff was removed, along with the Director of National Intelligence. Steve Bannon removed tow vital members of the Security Council and took their places. A political guy who is a anti-Semite, anti-Muslim racist.
That’s got even Republican heads spinning.
And let’s not forget his personal finances being affected by his being the president. Drain the swamp? Hell no, he just inserted his own critters.
Now we have the specter of Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III becoming the next Attorney General of the United States. Democrats tried to block it with another 24-hour talk-a-thon. By most accounts Sessions will get by with a partisan vote and take the office at the Department of Justice.
No one really questions whether Sessions will be a curb on the excesses of the president — we all know he won’t. In any other year being a complete toady to the president would sink his nomination. But let’s be real: the truth is the AG serves at the pleasure of the president so they have all paid some allegiance to the man that appointed them.
At question for Senator Sessions is his commitment to civil rights. Senator Jeff Sessions has never been a champion of civil rights. He did help prosecute two Klansmen that murdered a black 19-year old in Alabama, but other than that Sessions has opposed civil rights legislation: Sessions voted NO on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, voted YES on a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage, voted YES on recommending a Constitutional ban on flag desecration, voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes, Voted YES on ending special funding for minority and women-owned businesses, voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping — he wants to make it easier for the government to tap your phone — and he co-sponsored the State Marriage Defense Act which says a state’s definition of marriage supersedes that of the federal government.
So one senator after another stood in the well of the U.S. Senate to denounce their fellow senator’s appointment as the Attorney General of the United States. Until the Junior Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren took the podium. She laid out the case against Sessions once again, like others had done before her. “I hope there are enough senators here who understand the United States is careening over a Constitutional cliff.” She wanted the Senate to confirm an Attorney General that would fight back against “… lawless over reach by an out of control president.” Although she knew a majority of them would not.
She read into the record how Sessions has been against immigration, even legal immigrants, how he believes children born in the U.S. should not be legal citizens if their parents are not citizens — how Sessions is one of the key architects of Trump’s Muslim ban; how as a U.S. Attorney he brought a case against civil rights workers who were trying to help people legally vote in Alabama.
She pointed out his racist comments as the Attorney general of Alabama and his opposition to marriage equality. Senator Sessions said, “… is a threat to the American culture.”
Then Senator Warren did the unthinkable, at least to the Republicans in the chamber, especially Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Elizabeth Warren began to read a letter by Coretta Scott King, the widow of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that was meant for the record in 1986 when Jeff Sessions was selected to be on the federal bench.
Leading Senate racist at the time, Strom Thurmond, kept the letter from being read into the record, so Elizabeth Warren attempted to do it. In the letter King said, “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”
But that was too much for the Majority Leader. He had the president of the Senate at the time stop Warren from any further comments and then had a vote taken to censure Senator Warren for the rest of the discussion on the nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to be the Attorney General of the United States.
Elizabeth Warren was formally silenced in the U.S. Senate for breaking Senate Rule 19, imputing the conduct and motives of another Senator, a rule that wasn’t used when Senator Ted Cruz of Texas (R) called Mitch McConnell a liar.
Explaining his actions, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Now, thanks to McConnell, the Democrats and their base have a new rallying cry going into the 2018 mid-term elections: “Nevertheless she persisted.”
If Elizabeth Warren wasn’t a frontrunner for the Democrats’ 2020 nomination for president before, she is now. On Twitter and Facebook you can use the hashtags #LetLizSpeak and #ShePersisted to read all the support given to Senator Warren.
California’s newest senator, Kamala Harris, created a set of memes (pictured here) with McConnell’s words on the photos of prominent women in history: Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Shirley Chisholm, Sonia Sotomayor, Wendy Davis, Ibitaj Mohammed — the woman peacefully standing against riot police — and of course Elizabeth Warren. Harris and her team are probably still making them.
To underscore the sexist appearance of McConnell’s words and actions, several male Senators read the same letter, or parts of it, into the record without interruption or objection.
As of this morning in many of the tweets and Facebook posts people are thanking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for giving them a slogan to use for the next four years.
“Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Top photo: YouTube shot of Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking shortly before being silenced