Notorious RBG and a Last Wish


by Roxanne Tellier

I was preparing dinner in the kitchen on Friday night, when Shawn came into the room and said, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died.”  

One hand flew to my mouth, the other to my heart, and I gasped in shock, a reaction that I know was echoed by many in the 24 hours following news of her passing.

How can it be that one small, 87-year-old woman, riddled with cancer, became the only check in the vaunted checks and balances meant to keep an entire nation democratic? How did she become the last bastion of sanity and decency in a country that claims to be ‘exceptional’? Why did it take the loss of her presence on the Supreme Court to wake hundreds of millions of Americans to the stripping away of civil and human rights that awaits them, as early as next month?  

While those who claim to be pro-life insist that their religious beliefs should trump the rights of all women to control their own bodies, the Trump administration is already lined up to strip away the health care rights of EVERY American – male, female, black, white, young and old – when their request to invalidate the Affordable Care Act is heard. Some 20 million Americans, many of them low income, will lose health care coverage, and be denied any form of coverage due to pre-existing conditions (something that every single American may have following the COVID pandemic), and will discover that these changes will also disallow children from staying on their parents health plans until the age of 26.

Trump has repeatedly promised that he has a ‘beautiful! New!’ health care plan in the works, but after more than three years of these idle promises, no one should be holding their breath for that to emerge.

Roe v Wade, the case that legalized abortion nationwide nearly fifty years ago, is also on the line. Tom Cotton, one of trump’s proposed new jurists, is on record stating that this would be his first priority.

Short of overturning Wade, there are still several cases in the pipeline that could effectively restrict access to the procedure, including one case already before the court in which the trump admin has asked the justices to overturn a federal judge’s decision that lifted restrictions on telemedicine abortions during the pandemic. And in terms of the most common second trimester abortion procedure, the D&C, (dilation and evacuation) at least 10 states are on record seeking to outlaw clinics providing this option.

Women’s rights to control over their own body is not the only controversial issue. There’s even talk of rolling back the landmark case, Brown v Board of Education (1954) which famously dismantled segregation. The more recent cases that decided on the rights of the LGBTQ, the handicapped, and other minority communities will also be on the table with a fifth Conservative Supreme Justice.  

One small, fragile, senior, woman held back that tide of discrimination, prejudice, and misogyny for as long as she physically could. But within two hours of her death, and in defiance of her stated last wish that her seat remain unfilled until a new president was in power, trump was already declaring his intent to fill her seat with a person of his own choosing.

And that follows in a horrific pattern in which four out of five of the conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court (Roberts, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) were nominated by Republican presidents who lost the popular vote

Two of trump’s most loathsome minions, who campaigned ruthlessly to prevent President Obama from appointing a Justice in his last year of office, have reversed their ‘hand on the bible’ statements from 2016.

And today ….

But they are not the only Republican Senators displaying blatant hypocrisy, and a lack of ethical morality, in their decision to blindly follow in their leader’s doddering steps.

The very idea that matters considered so integral to how justice is allowed or denied should be in the hands of judges who profess fealty to a specific political party boggles the mind. Having trampled upon any pretense of a separation of church and state, the modern Court openly skews either liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. That can’t be right. The law must be the law, not something that can be warped to suit the needs of the politicians currently in power. If the decisions are made based on party, then the decisions are only opinions, frothy and transitory, as worthless as the blatherings of a drunk at the end of the bar.  The justices lose all credibility, cease to be the ultimate legal decision makers, and are instead mere pundits. .  

“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Mitch McConnell seems determined to rush the seating of a lifetime justice, in hopes that, regardless of the outcome of this election, the conservative, Republican ideals will remain the law of the land for decades to come. McConnell is cementing his position as the man who broke American democracy, and brought the pillars of American justice down around it’s citizens, the modern-day Benedict Arnold, made mad thru his insatiable lust for relevance and power.

“According to American political scientist Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements: a political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; the active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; protection of the human rights of all citizens; a rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.”  (Wikipedia)   

During this administration, each of those pillars has been systematically mocked, repeatedly attacked, and is in peril of becoming a dead issue.

ONE: “ a political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections;

Despite having won (by Electoral College) the presidency in 2016, trump attacked all forms of voting, insisting, despite his own repeated investigations that found no tampering, that all American elections were fundamentally flawed and rigged. With the pandemic impairing the ability of citizens to safely vote in person, he then first verbally attacked mail-in voting, intentionally underfunded the Postal Service, and then appointed Louis Dejoy as Post Master General, who viciously decimated staff and equipment in the nation’s postal offices, bringing the mails to a slowdown unlike any in it’s history, and making the handling of the volumes of mail ensured by election mail-in voting nearly impossible to consider.

As some Americans opt for early voting in states like Virginia, trump’s goons are swarming polling locations and would be voters, in blatant acts of voter intimidation. Trump has already admitted that these acts of intimidation will be severely ramped up on Election Day, November 3. He has also admitted that he might challenge the 2020 election results, or even stay in the White House, despite a loss. It is quite likely that the final results may be delayed by days, or even weeks, based on these restrictions, and while a late decision on who has won is actually not illegal, trump’s mouthpieces are spreading disinformation on the legality of such a delay.

Two:  “the active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; “

Trump’s first town hall meeting in, I believe, the entirety of his four-year term, was held just this past week. The people allowed to question him were thoroughly vetted, and most questions were fairly straightforward and logical. However, his answers merely echoed the beerhall rants familiar from his rallies – mainly incoherent, highly self-congratulatory, and rarely with any semblance to the real world everyone but trump is inhabiting.

Three: “protection of the human rights of all citizens; “  Since the first month of trump’s ascendency to the presidency, the rights of all citizens, American or otherwise, were secondary to his platform. Within hours of his first day in office, he began the process to repeal Obamacare, and within days, had put into place executive orders to set in motion travel bans and restrictions on refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. By April, 800,000 ‘DREAMers’ had their lives upended and their futures made uncertain.

By the spring, new armies of ICE agents began arresting and deporting many immigrants who were in the process of becoming citizens. And of course, the infamous border wall, persecution of would be refugees, and camps for kids weren’t far behind.  

Four: “a rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.”  Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present Attorney General William Barr … personal lawyer to the POTUS, and expediter of pardons and the overturning of legal decisions.

America is in crisis. American democracy is on its last legs. And as the citizens limp towards the election, burdened with a lethal pandemic, massive unemployment, and the threat of homelessness looming over the heads of about 40 million people, they must also contend with almost daily revelations informing them of trump’s knowledge of exactly how deadly this pandemic is, and that he hid that knowledge from the people, for his own re-election plans.

Rather than shore up America’s defenses, rather than trust the people whom he took an oath to protect and defend from this deadly virus, trump has instead relied on the snake oil sellers he’s seen hawking junk on FOX to its addled viewers. And now, finally, he’s admitted … his plan is to not have a plan, but instead to gamble on ‘herd immunity’.

This new non-plan will kill as many as 3 million people. “Trump has a plan for coronavirus: herd immunity. Say goodbye to your parents, your neighbors, and your friends. Because the Trump plan will kill millions in the next four years.”

And in the midst of all of this madness, and with a plan that’s not a plan but rather an abdication to the power of the virus, trump has told the American people that he believes that he alone has the right to name yet another conservative judge to the Supreme Court, to join the previous two that were foisted upon the nation.

Despite the last wish of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said, ‘ My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed’.

A NEW president. Not this used up condom of a failed, incompetent, wannabe dictator.

If Americans want to fulfill her last wish, with the added bonus of saving the nation from plunging into fascism, they’re going to have to vote like their lives depend upon it.

Because it does.

John Baird – Bouquets and Brickbats


Political junkies were surprised and excited when rumours began that Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird would resign his position, effective immediately, and also resign as an MP, to take effect within days. Speculations as to woil prices cartoonhy, and especially as to why NOW, filled the mainstream and social media.

Was this the beginning of a Conservative meltdown, as oil prices tanked, the loonie dived, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper sabre rattled and proposed new security measures accused of restricting civil liberties?

National Post columnist John Ivison speculated that there was a rift between Baird and Harper over Canada’s sanctions on the Russian government. Some wondered if being pelted with eggs and shoes by dozens of Palestinian protesters in January 2015 had shaken his resolve. (Activists from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party earlier called for a boycott of Baird because of Canada’s Baird Palestineperceived pro-Israel stance, and its opposition to a Palestinian bid to pursue war crime charges against Israel.)

Still others noted that, by not running in 2015, Baird also qualifies for his pension, of $100,00 per year, under an old rule, at age 55. Parliament increased the qualifying age to 65 years old but that policy only covers those who are elected or re-elected in 2015.

Or maybe it was just that, after two decades in public office, he’d simply decided it was time to seek other opportunities, possibly in the private sector. He is said to be finalizing two offers.

Mohamed FahmyOn Monday, Baird reported that Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who is in jail in Cairo, would be released imminently, which would be his last diplomatic victory.

Although Baird’s stances were often provocative, even prompting Conservative colleagues to tease him of having a partisan nature, he was well liked by many in the other Parties.

“I quickly learned thoBaird resignsugh to make a difference, to really make a difference, you can’t be defined by partisanship, nor by ideology. You need instead to be defined by your values,” he said in his resignation speech.

Since being named foreign affairs minister in 2011, Baird has spoken out against controversial issues at home and abroad.

In 2012, he addressed a British audience on human rights, saying that Canada would not stand by while its “Commonwealth cousins” criminalized homosexuality and ignored other fundamental freedoms, including the rights of women, minorities, and the right to practice religion. Homosexuality is illegal in 41 of 54 Commonwealth member states.

child marriageIn 2013, Baird spoke at a United Nations session called “Too Young to Wed,” about child brides forced to marry. Baird said “It’s been felt that in some cultures, in some places, this was a social reality. And for the good of the conference, would I mind shutting up,” adding that forced marriage is “unacceptable” and can be ended within a generation.

But he’s made a few gaffes along the way – his request for gold-embossed business cards was outed and ridiculed. He was always on the move, traveled more often, and to more out of the way places than any Canadian foreign minister before him. To his credit, he traveled commercially, but some of his trips didn’t make much sense, and were thought to be a drain on taxpayer funds. He recently flew to Brazil for President Rousseff’s second term swearing in, and attended Persian Gulf conferences that were not important to Canada’s needs.

John BairdIn 2013, a scandal occurred when CTV News reported that Baird and six friends stayed for eight days at the official residence of Canada’s high commission to Great Britain, Macdonald House.

His diplomats were not fond of his frequent, high-maintenance visits. Apparently he wasn’t very fond of them either. In 2014, Baird quietly ordered his department to cut millions of dollars out of a foreign aid program and to call the cut a “surplus.” He blamed the cuts to the program on the bad performance of Canadian diplomats. Associate Deputy Minister Peter Boehm revised the figures in a May 13, 2014 memo, which read “per your instructions, $7 million was declared surplus.”

foreign aid surplusThe NDP Foreign affairs critic, Paul Dewar, felt the minister was being deceptive. “It’s what I would call a parlour trick, to make it appear like they’re sound fiscal managers, when in fact in this case, Minister Baird is trying to make people believe that his cut of $7 million is in fact a surplus. This is exactly the same thing that they did with regards to lapsed funding.”

Canada’s former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, wrote  “The Conservative government has managed the austerity program launched in the 2012 budget with deliberate secrecy. They did not inform Parliament of the details of their spending plans…Austerity is difficult and they did not want to pay a political price for making difficult trade-offs…their strategy was to limit planning information to shut down debate and evade accountability.”

baird_IsraelDuring his time as Foreign Minister, his critics have also accused him of selling embassies and ­unflinching support for Israel, diminished backing for multi-lateral institutions and a “distinctly un-Canadian” stance on foreign policy.

However, he leaves behind many who say he played a large part in shaping Conservative foreign policy and personalizing Canada’s diplomatic relations with the international community

NDP MP Paul Dewar, his party’s foreign affairs critic, told Embassy that Mr. Baird brought the Conservative Party’s foreign policy “into the limelight.”

Canada in the world“John Baird made Foreign Affairs—for good or bad—relevant again within the Conservative government. Prior to that, it really wasn’t a portfolio that was important to the government because of the players involved. They didn’t have as much of an interest or an understanding of the role,” he said.

Harper has appointed International Trade Minister Ed Fast as the interim foreign minister.