If the election of President Donald John Trump accomplishes nothing else, it appears it has given the Republicans in the Senate some backbone.

The Republicans, all except two, stuck together and confirmed the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education.

Then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did the unthinkable – silencing Sen. Elizabeth Warren for violating Senate rules when speaking about Sen. Jeff Sessions, who also happens to be the nominee for attorney general.

These are the same Republicans who, when they won the majority in 2014, didn’t seem to know that they were in charge. It was difficult to tell the difference between the Republican majority and the Democratic majority.

Now the Republicans in the Senate appear to have come to the realization that they are in charge and are using their majority.

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The mainstream media are incredible. If you listen to Rep. Nancy Pelosi for any length of time, she is going to say something either really dumb or just plain wrong, like this week when she was talking about the current president and called him “Bush.” She didn’t clarify which Bush she was referring to and she didn’t correct herself. None of the reporters at the press conference bothered to ask her if she meant to say “Bush.” No one asked her if she knew who was currently president of the US.

Rep. Maxine Waters said that Putin was “continuing to advance into Korea.” Giving her the benefit of the doubt, that she meant to say Crimea, she’s still wrong. Putin is not advancing into Korea and he already has all of Crimea so there is nowhere for him to advance.

But there wasn’t even a follow-up from the press, asking her what in the world she was talking about.

This is one of those places where the overwhelming bias of the press is evident. If a Republican representative had made either one of those mistakes, it would be headlines all over the country, but Democrats can do it and it is only mentioned on conservative websites.

By the way, both of those women appear to be proof that Botox does in fact affect the brain.

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To a lot of liberal Democrats, the question of whether the Senate Democrats should filibuster Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is simple. Gorsuch is a strong conservative who believes in the Constitution as it was written, not as he would like for it to be. He is everything the liberal Democrats hate, so of course the Senate Democrats should use what little power they have to block his confirmation by the Senate.

But the question is much more complicated. The Democrats can filibuster Gorsuch. The Republicans have 52 votes and it takes 60 to override a filibuster. So the Democrats have the power to hold up the nomination. But this is Trump’s first Supreme Court nomination and the single biggest move he has made since becoming president. The Republican senators need to demonstrate that they can get conservative appointments and conservative bills through the Senate.

And the Republicans have the power to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments, and also to eliminate the filibuster all together. Some have argued that the filibuster gives too much power to the minority and should be eliminated as a matter of course. There is no such thing as a filibuster in the House. In the House the majority rules, period.

If the Democrats filibuster, Trump’s nominee, who meets all the requirements that in the past have been considered necessary for a Supreme Court nominee, which is that he has impeccable credentials and an unblemished record as a judge, then they are asking for trouble.

There are no skeletons in Gorsuch’s closet. He is a greatly respected jurist, and so highly thought of that when he was appointed to the Court of Appeals, his nomination was confirmed by the Senate with a unanimous vote.

The opposition party is never going to agree with the politics of a presidential appointee, but Supreme Court nominees have been confirmed by the opposition party if they couldn’t find some reason to oppose them other than their political beliefs.

If the Democrats choose to use the filibuster to block Gorsuch, it is on purely political grounds and it dares the Republicans to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, just as the Democrats did for all other judicial and presidential appointments in 2013, when Sen. Harry Reid was the majority leader. The Democrats did it when they wanted nominees to get through the Senate despite Republican opposition, which opens the door for Republicans to follow suit.

The problem here is that giving the Republicans good reason to eliminate the filibuster will kill the Democrats power in the Senate.

It is generally accepted that Trump will have several Supreme Court appointments during this four-year term. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83 years old and has twice survived cancer. She may be in good health for an 83-year-old, but nobody lives forever, and any day she could come down with an illness that would result in her resignation. It’s not likely that when Trump’s term is coming to an end in four years she will still be on the court.

If the Republicans eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees then Trump will have much more freedom to appoint his second Supreme Court justice. He won’t have to worry about what the Democrats think at all.

Furthermore, if the Republicans are going to eliminate the filibuster for all nominations, why not just eliminate it all together? It will be tempting, and since the Republicans in the Senate are showing some backbone, it may happen.

They might as well because the Democrats already started the process. One fear among Republicans is that they only have a narrow 52-to-48 majority, and if they lose that majority they will need to use the rules to have power.

However, the Democrats already did away with the filibuster when they needed to for appointments. Anyone who thinks the Democrats, if they gained power, wouldn’t do away with the filibuster the next time it was necessary haven’t been paying attention. The Republicans can do it now and take advantage of it or they can wait until they lose the majority and let the Democrats do it and make them ineffective.

It appears to be a no-brainer.

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It didn’t get much press, but here is further proof that the liberal mainstream media are even more liberal than most people realize.

The conservative website Independent Journal Review broke the news that Trump was going to appoint Gorsuch to the Supreme Court hours before the official announcement. All the news outlets were after the information, but because the news agency that had the information was conservative, the mainstream media newspapers and news organizations wouldn’t touch it. If, for instance, CNN or The Washington Post had come up with the scoop, it would have been all over the news. All the other news agencies would have picked it up. But because the source was conservative, for the most part they ignored it.

It appears the mainstream media are going to have to get used to the idea that as Trump weeds the liberals out of the government they are going to be getting fewer and fewer leaks. The leaks, of course, won’t stop. The federal government is about as good at keeping a secret as a 3-year-old. But the leaks will be targeted to news organizations that support the administration, not those who oppose every single action no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential.

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I’ll have to say that there is a part of me that was intrigued by the fact the students at Berkley rioted, beat up people, destroyed property and looted a Starbucks.

From the videos it appears the vast majority of students involved were white. Since it is reported that they were college students, it’s a safe bet most of them are middleclass. So we have middleclass white students rioting because they didn’t want a gay speaker on their campus. Doesn’t that, by the mainstream media’s definition, make them homophobes?

But the larger issue is that this large crowd of white middleclass homophobes ran rampant and destroyed everything they could. It proves once again that if the police decide not to enforce the law, mobs will riot and destroy things regardless of race or economic status.

Those who said anything critical about the rioters in Ferguson or Baltimore were deemed racists because most of the people rioting were black. But since I am middleclass and white, although not a homophobe, I should be free to be as critical of the students at Berkley as I want.

Some are going to say that it wasn’t the sexual orientation of the speaker that the mob objected to, but his political statements. I disagree. I don’t think you can believe what the rioters say because in my opinion they were just making political statements to cover-up their true beliefs. Just like those who were critical of the rioters in Ferguson and Baltimore – on the grounds that they were breaking the law, endangering the lives of people and destroying the property of hard-working fellow Americans – were deemed to be lying about why they were opposing the rioters. The real reason, according to the mainstream media, was that those critical of the rioters were racists.

I have to admit I’m starting to like the way the mainstream media defines people. Because you can take it one step further. If the rioters were homophobes because they were rioting against a gay speaker, doesn’t it make those who supported the rioters and made excuses for their behavior homophobes also?

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The mainstream media were reporting that the US, because of the actions of Trump, had a diplomatic crisis with Mexico. How in the world can we have a diplomatic crisis with Mexico? The US doesn’t need Mexico but Mexico needs the US. About 80 percent of Mexico’s exports are to the US and it is a small drop in the large bucket of our economy. Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto know that if Trump orders the border closed it will cripple the Mexican economy. By the same token, if Mexico refused to export to the US it would cripple the Mexican economy, and maybe Americans would have to pay more for tomatoes in the winter, or whatever produce we import from Mexico.

It may be a two-way street, but the US is an 18-wheeler and Mexico is a unicycle. It’s high time for the US to take advantage not just of its military power but of its economic power. If Mexico doesn’t like trading with the US, let them sell their goods to China.

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It appears we are in the midst of a crisis in our democracy. The founding fathers didn’t anticipate the judicial activism that is now rampant. The Constitution has a built in system of checks and balances to keep either the legislative branch or the executive branch from running amuck.

For a bill to become law, it has to pass both the House, where representatives are elected based on population, meaning each representative represents roughly the same number of people – with the notable exception of some of the smallest states where they represent fewer people because each state is guaranteed at least one representative.

The Senate is a completely different animal, where each state, no matter how large or how small, has two senators. So for a bill to become law, not only do the majority of representatives who represent the population have to vote in favor of it, but it also has to pass the Senate, which means the majority of the states have to also be in favor. Then the president, elected by all the people of the country, has to sign the bill. If he vetoes the bill then it takes a super-majority in both houses with their divergent bodies to pass it.

However, if one judge somewhere in the US decides for whatever reason he doesn’t like the law, he can invoke a restraining order for that law not to go into effect. The lawsuit against the bill will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court, where nine justices appointed for life and not answerable to anyone can decide to negate the law or, what has become ever more common with the Supreme Court, rewrite the law to something the justices like.

There is no way to overrule a Supreme Court decision except with a constitutional amendment, which is an extremely lengthy process. No constitutional amendments have been added to the Constitution since 1992. In the 228 years since the Constitution was ratified, only 27 amendments have been added. If you eliminate the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments that were ratified in 1791, in 226 years there have only been 17 additional amendments.

The American people are hesitant to amend the Constitution, but it appears that an amendment may be needed to limit the power of the courts.

All federal judges are appointed for life. One judge should not be able to stop a law from being enacted, nor should five justices on the Supreme Court be allowed to make laws. But recently the courts have become more and more powerful and active.

If the US is not cautious, instead of being ruled by elected officials, we are going to become a country ruled by nine men and women appointed for life, and our democratic republic will be gone.

Of course, one solution is to appoint judges who are not judicial activists but rather judges who believe that it is their job to interpret the law and not to make laws. But at the federal District Court level there are already so many activist judges, it’s going to take time for them to retire or die.

Before things get entirely out of hand it might be time to pass a constitutional amendment to limit the power of the courts. Of course, the courts would probably rule the constitutional amendment unconstitutional and then we’d be right back where we started.

Even worse, one federal District Court Judge appointed for life should not be able to overrule the president of the United States, who was elected by the people. It is insane for each of the 677 federal District Court judges to have the ability to overrule the president of the United States. The president should only be overruled by the Supreme Court.

The system is crazily upside down, with judges, for instance, who have jurisdiction over just part of one state having the power to overrule the president. North Carolina has three federal court districts and a sitting judge in any one of those districts can evidently make a ruling that has effect nationwide. We don’t need to have elections if the federal judges are going to run the country.

Federal judges have decided that only they have enough knowledge and ability to redistrict North Carolina’s congressional districts, state House and state Senate districts and even City Council districts. Federal judges should have better things to do than to be drawing lines on maps, but it appears that is the next step. Even though the North Carolina Constitution gives the power of redistricting to the North Carolina legislature, elected by all the people of the state, that legislation can be overturned by an activist judge. If the people don’t like the way the state has been redistricted they can elect new state representatives and senators. If the people don’t like the ruling of a federal court judge, all they can do is complain.

It’s wrong and it has to be stopped.

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One of the reasons the Democrats and some Republicans in the Senate give for opposing Trump’s cabinet nominations is because they don’t know about every government program their prospective department handles.

These senators are missing the point of the people who voted for Trump, who had no government experience before being elected president. These voters want new people running the government, not the same tired old hacks that have been there for 30 years. Of course, someone who has never worked for the federal government doesn’t understand every program or hand out from the federal government that runs through the department they are going to head.

The idea is to get some new blood in there who will ask, “Why in the world are we doing this?” And the answer, “Because we’ve always done that,” will not be considered acceptable.

The way it has worked in the past is that a new Republican president is supposed to go out and hire all the old Republican appointees who lost their jobs when a Democrat took office.

It’s a new day in Washington and, so far at least, the majority of Republican senators have realized that when you hire people from outside the government they don’t know all that insider stuff.

It’s the same on the local level. If you watch a forum for the Greensboro City Council candidates, the current city councilmembers always know more about city programs and expenditures than the challengers. It doesn’t mean that they will make better city councilmembers, just that they have been to meeting after meeting where these things are discussed.

Without that experience, it is nearly impossible to be as knowledgeable as someone who has served in office.

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Trump is learning something about the people who work for him. Not the people he has appointed, but the vast number of federal employees who are outside of his control, or might appear to be outside of his control.

The private conversations that the president has with other heads of state should be private. But people in the White House are leaking them as soon as the president gets off the phone.

It won’t be pretty, but Trump needs to clean house. He can’t fire federal employees, evidently only God can fire a federal employee. Once someone is hired, if they are not a political appointee they have a job with the federal government for life, no matter how incompetent, dishonest, lazy or partisan they happen to be.

So Trump, despite the fact that he won the presidential election, can’t fire the leakers in the White House. But he can transfer them, and he should. He should start transferring people to the worst jobs he can find. Send a group to work at the weather station in Nome, Alaska, or some federal facility in Bismarck, North Dakota, and he should keep transferring people until the leaks stop.

Trump cannot be an effective president if every conversation he has is made public the moment he has it. Particularly since his conversations are being mischaracterized. It’s easy to take a few words from a long conversation out of context and make them sound bad. Evidently Trump offered help to Mexico with their drug cartels. This was interpreted by the mainstream media as Trump threatening to invade Mexico. It is an absurd implication, but the mainstream media believe any lie they are told about how horrible Trump is, and conveniently don’t believe that he is capable of doing anything good.

The media continue to report that Trump made fun of a handicapped reporter when five minutes of research shows that he did not. But it doesn’t matter. People talk about it all the time because they heard it on the news, and the mainstream media, which know it isn’t true, never bothered to correct that story.

Trump needs to take a deep breath, slow down for a moment and get the White House in order. In the long run it will be well worth the effort.

 

Parisian Promenade at Bicentennial Garden