America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel. —Allen Ginsberg
It is time, way past time, for all of us to put our queer shoulders to the wheel, and straight shoulders, woman shoulders, man shoulders, trans shoulders, black and white and brown shoulders, Christian and Muslim and Jewish and Buddhist sitting meditation at the wall shoulders and atheist shoulders, runner shoulders and couch potato shoulders, our mortal shoulders in the commonality of our humanness, if nothing else we are all going to die, shoulders to the wheel.
As of January 2019 five of the nation's 12 circuit courts are now composed of more than 25 percent judges channeled through the Federalist Society pipeline and appointed by the scoundrel Trump (Carrie Johnson, Trump's Judicial Appointments Were Confirmed At Historic Pace In 2018). The fiend McConnell is moving to ramp up the process going forward as insurance against the possibility that the Democrats will retake the White House and Senate in next year's elections. The goal is to protect unbridled capitalism from democracy by putting up a judicial roadblock against prospective progressive legislation on taxation, environmental regulation, health care, immigration, and pretty much any government function other than defense and police power to keep the rabble in their place at home and abroad.
Herman Cain and Stephen Moore are such egregiously partisan hacks and so manifestly unqualified that even Republicans pushed back when their names were floated for nomination to the Federal Reserve Board. Cain may already be dead in the water. What are the chances that the forever Trumpers will use the rejection of Cain to push so-called moderates to weep, gnash their teeth, wring their hands, and fold on Moore?
The Julian Assange case is tough for me. I acknowledge that I am biased because he strikes me as an arrogant, self-righteous little creep. The scoundrel Trump's routine tirades against the press provide ample grounds for concern about establishing bad precedents that could affect legitimate journalists. We will have to fight those battles as they come up. I do not think that entails going to the wall for Assange. A thoughtful friend whose opinion I respect sees it differently:
"If Ecuador wants the US money and relief that it won't give its own poor - then they had to appease the US - and that's what they've done. I am beyond grief-stricken about his arrest (and the quiet re-arrest of Chelsea Manning). Habeas corpus is gone forever and we live in a totalitarian surveillance state. Watching 'liberal' democrats here celebrate his arrest is terrifying. Assange seemed to love peacocking, but nobody would have seen US forces killing innocents without him. He is a hero." (quoted with permission)
I dissent with reluctance, hard-pressed to argue with this analysis except for the designation of Assange as a hero. He worked to get Trump elected in 2016. Those who cared to know did not need Assange to know about US forces killing innocents.
Alex Ward at Vox reports that economic factors, money, and a desire for better relations with the US did play a role in Ecuador's decision to release Assange. So too did Assange's conduct, which was downright bizarre for the guest of a country that is protecting him at no small expense to itself. He skateboarded at night, played loud music, and walked around in his underwear. The smell from his room infested the rest of the embassy, he refused to clean up or feed his cat, almost came to blows with the mission's staff, and on at least one occasion smeared his feces on the wall. As if that there were not enough, Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno "all but accused" Assange of being behind an anonymous website that released photographs showing that Moreno and his brother may have profited from offshore accounts in Panama. Assange denied having anything to do with the website. If the reports are as much as half true, the only surprise is that Ecuadorian officials put up with Assange as long as they did.
The list of references below includes two additional articles that address some of issues related to Assange's arrest and possible extradition to the US. Both are published at The Bulwark, a conservative web publication that has become a favorite for analysis whose slant differs from my usual take on things. Maybe I am getting to be little better than a damn centrist.
The scoundrel Trump has been manic of late even by his standards. The purge of high-ranking officials fussy about the legality of actions the president wanted to take is the latest example of his disdain for rule of law. Even Kirstjen Nielsen, whose record is a collage of black marks and the specter of caged children, was unwilling to go far enough over the line for her boss. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act is being abused to bypass the constitutional requirement (Article II, Section 2) that high-level presidential appointments be made with advice and consent of the Senate. This is what happens when government is put in the hands of a man who wants to run it like he runs his family business empire.
The president in effect declared war on Iran by designating the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. It pains me to speak well of the libertarian gadfly Rand Paul, but I must credit him for standing up to Pompeo the blusterer when he said bluntly, "You do not have the permission of Congress to go to war with Iran. Only Congress can declare war." Pompeo responded lamely that he would prefer to leave to the lawyers the determination whether the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force gives the administration the green light to strike Iran. The matter of who can declare war is another minor constitutional quibble with which the scoundrel Trump, Pompeo the blusterer, and Bolton the other blusterer wish not to be bothered.
The recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights may be a prelude to signing off on annexation of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank if Netanyahu the corrupt makes good on his campaign promise. There is no daylight between the scoundrel Trump and Netanyahu the corrupt. There is only darkness.
Which brings me to one last outrage, the ongoing campaign to smear Congresswoman Ilhan Omar as antisemitic. Her latest offense was to call White House adviser Stephen Miller a "white nationalist." Here is the tweet that sparked it: "Stephen Miller is a white nationalist. The fact that he still has influence on policy and political appointments is an outrage." Miller happens to be Jewish; therefore, any criticism of him is antisemitic. Omar want on to explain his views about Miller on CNN:
"You know we are talking about someone who truly believes not a single refugee, not a single immigrant, should set foot on American soil. I am appalled by that. Because unlike him and others, I haven't forgotten my roots. I know what it meant for me to get the opportunity to come to the United States to start anew" (CNN, Ilhan Omar defends herself...).
I have said this before and I will continue to say it: I stand with Ilhan Omar.
Check the Home page for links to other activist groups and organizations
Keep the faith.
References and Recommended Reading
Andrew Egger, The Overdue Downfall of Julian Assange , The Bulwark, April 11, 2019
Carrie Johnson, Trump's Judicial Appointments Were Confirmed At Historic Pace In 2018, NPR, January 2, 2019
Jen Kirby, How Trump’s overreliance on acting officials could backfire, Vox, April 11, 2019
Maayan Lubell, Israel's Netanyahu says plans to annex settlements in West Bank if reelected, Reuters, April 6, 2019
Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America, Viking (2017), 334 pp. MacLean is William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University.
Gabriel Schoenfeld, The Arrest of Julian Assange Is Not Bad for Journalism, The Bulwark, April 12, 2019
Sunlen Serfaty, Ashley Killough and Veronica Stracqualursi, Ilhan Omar defends herself after calling Stephen Miller a 'white nationalist', CNN, April 9, 2019
Alex Ward, Why Ecuador released Julian Assange: rudeness, spying, and poop, Vox, April 12, 2019
Li Zhou, Senate Republicans are using a recent rules change to push through more judges, Vox, April 12, 2019