Monday, November 14, 2022

In the News: Significance of Dems Holding Senate Majority (It's About the Judges); MAGA White Christian Cruelty; Youth Vote; Musk and Twitter

Photo of stack of newspapers by Daniel R. Blume, Wikimedia Commons

Joyce Vance, "Democrats Hold the Senate—and the Ability to Appoint Federal Judges," explains why the Democrats retaining control of the Senate is so important: it's about judicial appointments: 

Joe Biden went into the midterms with one of the most successful records on judicial vacancies in modern history. Trump appointed 51 justices and judges during his administration. In addition to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, as of November 1, 2022, the Senate had confirmed 83 Biden judicial nominees to the courts of appeal and the district courts.

But there are still close to 100 judicial vacancies, 57 of them with nominees, others awaiting them and, some, “future vacancies”—seats where a judge has already advised the White House they plan to retire at a later date. Despite the fast pace the Biden White House set, confirmations take time, and they ran out of it. It’s important to note that some of those vacancies are in states where there isn’t a nominee for one or more vacancies, because Republican senators declined to return blue slips on well-qualified potential nominees for no reason other than the fact that they are the picks of a Democratic president. It’s the raw hypocrisy of politics at its worst, and it’s time for the Biden White House to reject across the board use of the blue slip, which is meant as a courtesy to home state senators but has become a tool of obstruction.

Joe Biden now has the opportunity to begin to undo some of the worst damage of the Trump era. With the balance of the House still undecided, it’s not clear that he’ll be able to pass the legislation he’s promised to take on if he has the votes in Congress. But he can reshape the federal judiciary, with control of the Senate for confirmation. The House is not involved, and since confirmation requires only a simple majority of senators present, Biden has the votes.

Pithy one-liners summing up the significance of last week's election, from SenDem at Daily Kos and Steven Beschloss: Sen Dem, "Broken Republican Party goes all in on their most evil strategy: Performance cruelty," writes:  

Say what you will about Donald J. Trump, but at the very least, he exposed these Bible-thumping, right-wing phony “Christians” as what they really are. 

Steven Beschloss, "Red Waving, Fox News and Sanity's Survival," states,

Let’s be clear: Cruelty was on the ballot.  Americans made clear what they think of that future.

And will the mainstream media — looking at you, New York Times — learn a blessed thing from their conspicuous failure in prognosticating election results this go-round, and in telling the public the unvarnished truth and ditching the mendacious both-sidesism? Of course not. See this report from Marcy Wheeler about what New York Times is now choosing to do.

It strikes me that major media outlets like the nation's "paper of record" are about on a par, when it come to arrogance and the belief that no voice counts other than their own, with the current Supreme Court.

This observation from John Della Volpe about the effect of the youth vote in the recent elections seems to me highly significant: 

Voters under 30 cancelled out every vote of those over 65 in US House races in 2022.

First, this is heartaning news. It's high time that the long-predicted shift in demographics as my boomer generation bows out of control takes place. Second, it's crystal clear, to me at least, that one reason young voters turned out in such numbers this election cycle is that the Supreme Court energized them by ripping away from half of citizens a long-held right. 

I watched DeSantis's blasphemous "I'm sent by God" ad (shades of Salvini and his rosary, Bolsonaro and his statue of the Virgin Mary, of Orbán and Putin), and what struck me so strongly about it was how it was directly pitched to the large elderly population of Florida. The black-and-white photography, the pseudo-grave 1950s voice-over in a mid-American accent, the precious pictures of the 1950s trophy wife and children sitting passively and smiling on a sofa: this was all about getting older voters out to vote in Florida. Why that focus? I suspect it's because Republican pollsters anticipated a large youth vote nationwide and knew they needed every vote possible from upper age groups. 

Keep cancelling the votes of my generation, whose dead hand on your future can only yield a stillborn future, is all I can say to young voters.

Regarding what Musk is doing to Twitter, Aaron Rupar and Noah Berlatsky ask, "Is Elon Musk evil or simply a fool?" (Their answer: both). They write,

Musk purchased Twitter in large part because he wanted to be in a position to harm many of its core users — journalists, liberals, Democrats, trans people, and other marginalized communities. Twitter is a flawed but nonetheless invaluable place where these groups have come together to talk, to strategize, to fundraise, to organize, and to hold the powerful accountable. ...

Musk doesn’t want to destroy Twitter in the sense of rendering it a smoking ruin with a URL that leads to the abyss. But he does want to destroy Twitter to spite his enemies. Loosely defined, that means he wants to destroy it for everyone who questions the righteousness of a world ruled by white male billionaire tech bros.

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