To Women, Young People, People of Color

About the only thing I can urge is that women and young people and persons of color pay very close attention to the Kavanaugh hearings at the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Here are the players for the U.S. Senate (The links to their bios are all wikipedia.)  I have added the ages of the listed individuals.  Which group, Republican or Democrat, most reflects the “America” in which you live?

Chuck Grassley (R-IA, Chair) – 85

Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – 84

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – 63

John Cornyn (R-TX) – 66

Mike Lee (R- UT) – 48

Ted Cruz (R-TX) – 47

Benjamin Sasse (R-NE) – 46

Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – 55

Mike Crapo (R-ID) – 67

Thom Tillis (R-NC) – 58

John Kennedy (R-LA) – 67


Diane Feinstein (D-CA Ranking Member) – 85

Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – 78

Dick Durbin (D-IL) – 73

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) – 62

Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) – 58

Christopher Coons (D-NE) – 55

Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) – 72

Mazie Hirono (D-HI) – 70

Cory Booker (D-NJ) – 49

Kamala Harris D-CA – 53


Mitch McConnell (R-KY Senate Majority Leader) – 73


Anyone who has been following the rush to pack the Courts with “conservatives” will be familiar with the above, the decision makers about Kavanaugh, et al.  The simple numbers: 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats on the Committee.  All the Republicans are white men; 5 of the ten Democrats are white men.  The Republicans will likely not back down.  They are up by a single vote in the Senate.  In this polarized environment, one vote is an immense margin.

This is the political party which rails against government, but loves that same government, so long as it can control the outcomes.  Welcome to Election 2018.

Of course, I have feelings:  I’m part of the class which the “conservatives” would love to see as permanently disempowered.  That, I would submit, is their greatest weakness, ultimately their fatal flaw.  Divided we fail.  My favorite symbol is an eagle, which cannot fly without both wings working together.  How can a political eagle be any different?

“Messenger of Peace” – Eagle at MN Landscape Arboretum, Chanhassen MN Oct 2008.


Anyone who has spent much time around the Law – I spent most of my career in very close proximity to assorted kinds of Law and their application – learns quickly that whoever enacts the laws and who then interprets those laws must be on a constant quest to stay on top; to be in control.  Of course, as in the natural world, thus who are on top are constantly threatened with losing.  A “win-lose” society, as we seem to have become, is not a healthy society.

Many lawmakers are lawyers by training….  Judges in almost all cases must be lawyers, first.

That favorite lawyer word, “clearly”, is rarely very clear once the interpretation battle begins in, or on the way to, court.

Lawyers and Judges interpret laws.  More so than ever, preferred Judges are people likely to be in philosophical agreement to interpret laws to the advantage of those who appoint them.  The winner always is cognizant of the fact that he can end up losing, so efforts are made to perpetuate influence.  How better to make a permanent legacy than appointing lifetime judges?  So goes the quest.

Today is the ascendance of Trump and the largely white male Republican and Evangelical Christian political establishment, and not only at the national level.  These men are accustomed to being in control, and are terrified of losing any control.  Controlling the legislative process at all levels, and selection of judges sharing their values, are their most important battlegrounds.


(Justice is often portrayed as “Justice is blind“; Justice often symbolized by a woman holding a scale.   Oh, if only there were at least a little truth to this.  Woman didn’t even gain suffrage until 1920.  We know the history of treatment of minorities of all sorts.  Young people are supposed to wait their turn….  Often, ours has not been a kind and gentle society.)

Who makes the laws, and who controls the courts, are very important.

Think about this as the debate about Kavanaugh continues.  This debate is not only about Kavanaugh, it is about the future of our society.


If you’re worried about things as they are, get on the court, now.  This is everybody’s concern.

For the great numbers of us who, like myself, greatly prefer resolution of differences through negotiation rather than winners and losers, there is a paradox: to return to more sanity in the political conversation requires, first, winning.  And changing course is a difficult process.  As the great Nelson Mandela observed about South Africa, which is still struggling, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with them.  Then he becomes your partner.

Postcard Sep 1, 1910, sister-to-sister. Women’s Suffrage was still ten years in the future.


from Fred: Well said. You did a nice job in pointing out the makeup of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It says a lot about the Trump Party and the Democrats.

from Melvin: Good message and great photo of the eagle.

from Dave:Hogwash written by a liberal Dick,

My wife, sister and sister-in-law are more conservative than me. They are “white women” and have been all their lives.   As for “…a rush to fill the court with conservatives….” what would the liberals do if the shoe was on the other foot?  For the answer check history.  Certainly you must be somewhat embarrassed by the conduct of the liberals during the hearings. Harris and Booker among others.  Don’t forget the visitors who were paid to disrupt the proceedings.
There is one African-American on the Supreme Court and he was not placed there by the liberals.  Who was the first women placed on the Supreme Court?  In case you cannot recall, it was Sandra Day O’Connor.  Appointed by Ronald Reagan as you should know.
I have voted for and against three different Presidents.  Bet you can’t say that.
Open both eyes Dick,
Response to Dave from Dick:  Thanks for the comment.  I’ll add it to the blog “from Dave”.  My post probably didn’t surprise you; your response didn’t surprise me, per past exchanges.  No problem from my point of view.  We just have different opinions.

Both of my eyes are wide open, and have been for a long while.  I follow this stuff.  If you look at the right hand of the blog, I call myself a moderate, pragmatic Democrat, and that is what I am.

In the same batch of e-mails was one with an opinion essentially opposite of yours.

Presidential votes and feelings:
1950s – Dwight Eisenhower was President in high school years, and I still describe myself as an Eisenhower Democrat.  He could have run as either a Republican or Democrat.
1960 – Not old enough to vote then, but would have voted for Kennedy.  But I was very impressed by Nelson Rockefeller who came through Valley City ND in 1960.  Given Rockefeller vs Kennedy, had I been 21, I would probably have voted Rockefeller.  I looked back in the old college yearbooks, and I wasn’t involved in either Young Democrats or Republicans.
1964 -Voted for Johnson, I’m pretty sure, though at that point in time my attention was completely taken up by my wife’s ultimately fatal kidney disease and our 6 month old son.
1968 – Voted for Humphrey.  He’s Minnesotan.  And I liked and respected him a great deal.  (He grew up in country South Dakota, as you probably know.)
1972?  I’m not sure, likely George McGovern?  I would have liked him, but not enthusiastic.  Less enthusiastic about ‘tricky Dick’
1976 & 1980.  Jimmy Carter.  I felt, and still feel, he was one of our greatest presidents.  Military man, Farmer, Businessman.  I worked hard for him in the 1980 election.  I know that history very, very well.
1984 – for Mondale, former vice-president and U.S. Senator, another Minnesotan, and another great man, still living.
1988 – Voted for Dukakis from MA, though not with much enthusiasm, but I have always respected GHW Bush.  He seemed a class act.  If I recall, this is about the time hatchet advertising was being perfected by people like Karl Rove and Lee Atwater.
1992 & 1996 – Voted for Bill Clinton.  He was a very effective President, though most of the time the Congress was Republican dominated, much like today.
2000 – Voted enthusiastically for Al Gore.  It was a tragedy that he ‘lost’ (in quotes, because he didn’t lose).  I still have the newspapers from November 2000.  I had nothing particular against George W (see comment about his Dad, above), but I couldn’t see that he was offering much of anything – just inheriting a mantle of a dynasty.
2004 – Certainly didn’t vote for George Bush, John Kerry would have done a great job.  I was one of the 6% who were against bombing Afghanistan [October 2001].  I could see nothing good coming out of trying to avenge 9-11-01.  I turned out to  be correct.  We are still in that quagmire,
2008 – George Bush, Dick Cheney and the boys didn’t even attend the Republican Convention here.  September of 2008, ten years ago, our economy was in active meltdown – a real national emergency.  In 2008, I supported Hillary Clinton till the nomination process ended, then strongly supported Barack Obama, who will go down in history as one of our greatest presidents.  Of course, I voted for him in 2012 as well.
2016 – I voted for Hillary Clinton,  proudly.  I have never seen a hatchet job like the one that was done on her in the campaign.  History says I was correct in supporting her.
I will add only one other postnote: my political mentor and hero was a former Republican Governor in Minnesota, a wealthy businessman, and progressive politician.  I wrote his eulogy for the Minneapolis Star Tribune when he died.

From Carol:   I disagree: Obama will go down in history as the WORST President.he never had a yr with 3% economic growth / he was trying to derail

American democracy / his health care was/is a sham / he lies.

He is trying to take credit for Trump’s victories.

Hillary should be in Prison: she was trying to blame Trump for a Russian kolusion(sp) when she was the one who colluded with the Russians to frame Trump.   (it’s been proven)



2 replies
  1. Gregory T Halbert
    Gregory T Halbert says:

    Lots and lots of words written about appointments to lifetime positions as a federal judge. This important issue can be summarized in the following sentence: Elections have consequences. If you win the election you decide who sits on the court. End of story.

    • dickbernard
      dickbernard says:

      Not necessarily “end of story”, though I basically agree. Remember President Obama nominating Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court many months before the end of his term, and the Republicans refused to consider the nomination. At the same time, those who are the decision makers, the voters, are extraordinarily sloppy, which leaves us in the dismal situation we are now.


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