Congress Schumer

Demanding Federal rule for State elections ? Here’s Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Samuel Corum/Pool via AP)

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Before the Congress these days is a large chunk of Federal legislation concerning voting laws in the States. Unhappily, I must oppose most of what is proposed. Per our Constitution, elections are empowered by the States united by it. Federal power cannot impose or interfere with elections in the several States except pursuant to the 14th Amendment : all State election laws — as with all State laws of any kind — must give equal protection to all who those laws obligate.

With these sanctions in mind, let me set forth for you what the proposed Federal voting bill seeks to require or forbid :

( 1 )

A set of national voter registration and mail-in voting standards: H.R. 1 requires the chief election official in each state — the secretary of state in most — to establish an automatic voter-registration system that gathers individuals’ information from government databases and registers them unless they intentionally opt out.

And it says it’s the government’s responsibility to keep that information up-to-date, based on information from agencies like state motor vehicle administrations, agencies that receive money from Social Security or the Affordable Care Act, the justice system, and federal agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, the Social Security Administration and others.

There is simply no authority given in the Constitution by which Congress can impose registration procedures upon a State, nor order a State policy. One encourages citizens to vote, of course: but it’s entirely a State matter how that encouraging becomes a legal duty. This is especially true for Federal elections. The office may be Federal, but the election of Federal office candidates is entirely a State matter, with that one proviso, equal protection. If a State pursues a registration policy that asks potential registrants to take action — to bestir him or herself — I se no reason why that fails approval. In America there is NO DUTY to vote; it is an entirely voluntary matter, and a State is fully justified in requiring potential voters to get out of bed and go to where registration can be done. Indeed, I think it preferable to seek an active electorate. Participation is the essence of a republican system.

( 2 )

Nonpartisan redistricting commissions: In an attempt to get rid of gerrymandering, the law would require each state to use independent commissions (not made up of lawmakers) to approve newly drawn congressional districts. The commissions would each include five Democrats, five Republicans and five independents, requiring bipartisan approval for districts to be allowed.

“Regardless of whether it’s a red state or a blue state, we are seeing significant manipulation in the legislative redrawing of districts,” said Tom Lopach, CEO of the nonpartisan Voter Participation Center, which has advocated for the bill. “H.R. 1 presents an opportunity for everyone to get onboard with independent, unbiased and balanced redistricting that frankly is good government.”

Everybody finds fault with State legislatures drawing Congressional district lines, but how can it possibly be better for those districts to be drawn up by anyone other than people who are elected by the voters ? The last thing we should want is for ELECTION districts to be drawn by persons not elected and thus not answerable to an electorate. And if the elected legislature does draw districts which violate the Equal Protection principle the Federal Courts are there to overturn such drawings.

Number ( 2 ) cannot stand.

( 3 )

Big changes in campaign finance law: H.R. 1 would require super PACs and “dark money” groups to disclose their donors publicly, a step Democrats say would eliminate one of the most opaque parts of the U.S. election process. It would establish a public funding match for small-dollar donations, financed by a fee on corporations and banks paying civil or criminal penalties.

This provision appears on its face a worthy reform.

( 4 )

New ethics rules for public servants: The bill would create the first ethics code for Supreme Court justices, to be created within a year of the bill’s passage.

It would also stop a controversial practice in Congress: When a member of Congress settles a sexual harassment or discrimination lawsuit, in certain cases they can use taxpayer money to settle. H.R. 1 would prevent taxpayer money from being used for such settlements.

These have nothing to do with voting. I absolutely oppose the former. Congress has no business telling Supreme Court Justices how to do their jobs, other than jurisdiction, which powers are enumerated in the Constitution but can be expanded by Federal laws. As for the latter provision, that’s a matter for Congress to do or not do within its rules setting power. I see no reason whatsoever why it should be pasted into a voting rights bill. (I also oppose it. It would encourage vicarious accusation of the sort now virulent in the social media environ we all are targets of, but as it is Congress’s business, so be it if they want it.)

( 5 )

A requirement that presidential candidates disclose their tax returns: This one is a little more relevant to recent events. Democrats have been frustrated for years that Trump never released his tax returns, and H.R. 1 would require it by law.

This, again, has nothing to do with voting rights. It also demands that candidates lose the privacy protections given to all of us by laws and thus violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection guarantee.

All in all, the Democrats’ voting rights bill fails to improve voting and does much to demean it. There are proposals now in debate, in several States, which would hamper the registration to vote process and squeeze the available hours of voting as well as methods. Limiting voting days and hours almost never looks good, but let us remember hat until recently, voting could be done only on voting day. Early voting was a convenience reform, not a Constitutional requirement . The same was true of absentee voting, although here physical necessity required some provision be made.

Early voting is a potentially bad decision. What does the early voter do about events that happen to candidacies after a voter votes early ?

I personally would get rid of early voting entirely and instead make election day a Federal holiday.

As for voting by mail, if States want to have it, that’s on them. As long as Equal Protection is accorded, that’s an end of the matter as far as the Federals are empowered.

Lastly, the Democrats’ Federal bill, like many State legislative bills proposed by Republicans, doesn’t even disguise being proposed for strictly partisan advantage. Its bad enough that we have political parties, to advantage zealotry over common sense and one side’s fantasies over another side’s fears. the last thing our electeds should do is to sell us the stink of such merely partisan — and monumentally un-Constitutional — fish bait.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



head to head, face to face : the filibuster is a symbol of passionate opposition, once upon a time actual fighting, today the trials and troubles of debate

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Much talk has arisen concerning a Senate tactic we call “filibuster.” It is a venerable device, about whose beginnings these mid-19th Century observers had these words to say :

FILIBUSTERING is a term lately imported from the Spanish, yet destined, it would seem, to occupy an important place in our vocabulary. In its etymological import it is nearly synonymous with piracy. It is commonly employed, however, to denote an idea peculiar to the modern progress, and which may be defined as the right and practice of private war, or the claim of individuals to engage in foreign hostilities aside from, and even in opposition to the government with which they are in political membership. [Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, January 1853]

The noun in the legislative sense is not in Bartlett (1859) and seems not to have been in use in U.S. legislative writing before 1865 (filibustering in this sense is from 1861). Probably the extension in sense is because obstructionist legislators “pirated” debate or overthrew the usual order of authority. Originally of the senator who led it; the maneuver itself so called by 1893. Not technically restricted to U.S. Senate, but that’s where the strategy works best. [The 1853 use of filibustering by U.S. Rep. Albert G. Brown of Mississippi reported in the Congressional Globe and cited in the OED does not refer to legislative obstruction, but to national policy toward Cuba.]

About these observations I will have more to say later. Right now, I want to express my view that the filibuster at it is practiced is a necessary foundation of minority power during the legislative process. Properly wielded, it forces the majority to negotiate a compromise in which the minority sees some of its amendments incorporated into the bill which the majority wants. Or, in some cases, a filibuster may oppose the bill completely.

Why do we allow such a custom ? We do so because our Constitution, and our political practice, is skeptical of majorities. We see how readily a majority for x may change into opposition to x. We see also that today’s elected majority is tomorrow’s defeated majority, and thus we ask that bills proposed by today’s majority be able to attract enough minority support that when today’s minority becomes tomorrow’s majority, the bill, if enacted, does not get repealed. After all, most of us prefer stability in the law; input from a minority helps us get to there. We all see how in Massachusetts, legislative consensus assures that reforms stick. If everybody has a stake in what is enacted, how can an opposition gain traction ?

Such are the arguments in favor of filibusters. The question then comes, what sort of filibuster make for good legislative days ? I guess that my preference is the same as expressed yesterday by President Biden : a filibustering minority in the Senate must actually stand up and speak –debate the issue — contribute to the discussion. It is not enough merely to threaten a debate. The objector must actually argue his objection.

This is the same position now taken by centrist Senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia being the foremost. I understand that minority leader McConnell passionately wants no change to current filibuster standards, and he has reason to be stubborn : once you begin to alter the standards, it becomes hard to stop further alteration. I share his worry; yet the majority has rights of brag as well, and it is a majority, however temporary, and presumably advocates laws that a majority of voters support. Although our Constitution is not a majoritarian agreement — far from it — it does grant numbers to the majority, and we should dilute said numbers only when necessary : I say ‘necessary’ because advantage is not enough reason to curtail a majority; something more urgent must be at hand. Thus, necessity.

Scot Lehigh in his excellent column about the filibuster, in today’s Boston Globe, notes that our Constitution already grants a minority important buttress: by way of allocating two Senators to each state regardless of population. This was done expressly at the insistence of small States, who rightly feared being power-swamped by large states had a purely majoritarian legislature been agreed to. Filibuster frosts an additional layer of objection onto said cake, a layer not included in the Constitution and therefore precarious. It arises from the world of fighting opposition — from actual violence — and is that opposition’s formalized symbol. Today it exists at the pleasure of a Senate which sets its own rules every term. Having thus to pass muster every two years, filibuster has to compromise just as its use asks for compromise. I see no reason why the present request, to require actual debate of those who would filibuster, is not a just solution to this particular paradox of governance.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



(L-R)Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony at the White House after they participated in the signing of the Abraham Accords where the countries of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recognize Israel, in Washington, DC, September 15, 2020. – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates arrived September 15, 2020 at the White House to sign historic accords normalizing ties between the Jewish and Arab states. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

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Back during the Bill Clinton administration, there was a chance — a very good chance — that Israel and its West bank enemies would settle their differences. Those differences were deep and hard, but a compromise was offered by Israel prime minister Ehud Barak. Then West Bank leader Yasser Arafat did not accept.

More about that decision later. Let me now talk about the current state of things in the land called “holy” and the prospects going forward.

One of Mr. Trump’s few successes as President was the campaign to bring Israel and its Gulf Arab neighbors into full accord. The UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia all opened diplomatic and economic relation s with Israel, an opening which has now become an established reality. Israelis visit Dubai all the time now; flights between Israel and the according states take place daily.

Granted, that the impetus for these embraces came from outside: the imperial aspirations of Shi’ite Iran, whose fanatical leaders have fomented war and terrorism in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and, occasionally, in the Gulf States. As Israel wields the region’s most powerful and combat-ready military force, what better for the Gulf States than to fall in under Israel’s shield ?

So far, so good : Israel has now become as normal a Middle East entity as its neighbors have long been. Like them, its enemy is Iran and Iran’s proxy militias in Syria and Lebanon. So here’s the deal : the Gulf States oppose Iran, Israel fights Iran’s proxies. This is a sensible apportionment of force.

Now that Israel’s external security is settled (we hope), one can revisit the internal matter at hand : what to do about the residents of the West Bank and Gaza, who call themselves Palestinians and who have never accepted Israel’s right to exist ?

Yes: what about them ? They number about 2 million people; Gaza has another million.) Seventy years ago, about 40 percent were Christian — 98 percent in Bethlehem — but constant persecution of West Bank Christians by the Sunni Muslim cadres of Fatah, occasionally violent, has reduced Christian numbers to little more than five percent. As Fatah cadres have done to their Christian neighbors, so much the more violence have they wreaked against Israelis. You might forget what happened at the 1972 Olympics, or at Uganda’s Enteppe airport; you might set aside numerous terrorist attacks and individual murders on Jerusalem buses or of the occupants of cars on highways near the West Bank border; five wars with the terrorists of Gaza, and four battles with Iran’s Hezbollah proxies in South Lebanon, but Israel cannot forget these. Deaths caused thereby are a family hurt for almost every family in Israel.

Meanwhile, West Bankers will tell you about the Israeli military’s often high-handed occupation of West Bank cities. I find it understandable, however, that Israeli soldiers, having seen their own and their neighbors executed, might often not be kind to people whom they suspect of harboring, even encouraging, such murders. Recall that even today, West Bank children are taught that Israel has no right to exist. Granted that soldiers as well disciplined as the IDF (Israel Defence Force) should never give way to feelings of anger, it happens, and the bad feelings perpetuated add to the unlikelihood of any two-state agreement such as might have happened in 1999.

Fact is, that Arafat did not accept Ehud Barak’s offer — to make Jerusalem an open city with shared governance — because he knew that if he did accept, he would be assassinated by his own Fatah militias. He had seen Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin murdered by an Israeli irreconcilable, and he knew of the murder of Michael Collins by IRA fanatics back in 1922 after Collins had accepted a compromise agreement with Great Britain. Assassination is the way of fanatics everywhere, but that was and remains the point. Though West Bank negotiators may in good faith wan t to live in peace with Israel, and though most Israelis would like to settle their 75 year battle with the West Bankers, fanatics hardened by 75 years of zero-sum battle won’t let it happen.

My prediction : there will not be, ever, a “two state” peace between Israel and its West Bank neighbors.

No Arab nation wants anything to do with the grievances of West Bankers, much less the thuggery wreaked upon the hapless citizens of Gaza by the rapacious gang that calls itself “Hamas” that controls Gaza while subjecting itself — and its captive civilians — to Iranian militias because no one else will have anything to do with them. Life for Gaza’s million residents isn’t pleasant, but rescue isn’t coming, not from Egypt nor from Israel.

In which case, where does Israel go from here ? Whence the West Bank ? Perhaps it is time for West Bank leaders to accept Israel’s right to exist and to blend its economy with the Israeli economy so that its people can at least live and prosper despite a political vacuum. Worse outcomes could certainly happen. They already have. Why not try economic agreement ? It works much more readily than political agreement and more often.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


One day in early 1957, a young blues harpist named James Moore took his place at the mike at Jay Miller’s Shreveport, Louisiana studio, gave the sign to Miller’s studio band — drums, guitar, bass — and, using the song name Slim Harpo, sang his bit : “well…I’m a king bee, buzzin’ around your hive…I’m a king bee, want you to be my queen…”

The song became an instant hit, a classic later covered b y almost everybody with a blues gene in his or her flesh, including, famously, the Rolling Stones. However, it is not the song’s history that I want to talk about today but instead Moore’s use of the “king” and queen” metaphor. It is, of course, ironic: Moore is no king, and the lady he is seducing is no queen. It’s also, therefore, comic : bees do sting, and to prick with king’s venom the queen bee in a hive takes, perforce, a king bee — right ? Haha.

We Americans don’t have kings and queens. We don’t have titled nobility at all. Titles are expressly forbidden by the Constitution which we profess to honor. Why, then, do many of us find kings and queens a must to attend to ? Why is the British royal family of such interest to us ? It has a queen, and many princes, princesses and duchesses: so what ? We are not British but American. What does the Windsor family, on its throne and living in its palaces and dressed now and then in frou frou, medals, and gowns, to do with us ? Certainly they are not kings, etc. in the sense that Slim Harpo asked a “queen” if he might be her “king.”

Perhaps what interests us is that a Windsor prince, Harry by name, has married an American. Yet that isn’t a miracle. Many British high-ups have married American women. Winston Churchill’s mother was American — did our forbears go ga-ga about her ? If so, I don’t recall reading of it. American women have attracted the suit of many European big shots. Nazi Germany had no less than three Americans in its entourage ; the mother of Ernest “Putzi” Hanfstangl; the mother and both grandfathers of Baldur von Schirach; and the mother of Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht. Of course reference to Nazi Germany isn’t my resort here. American women have, since our nation’s rise to great riches and power, been sought after by titled European nobility and impoverished dandies everywhere. I am unaware that any of these women became media stars, or interview subjects of gossip hosts. Nor did any that i am aware of beget a frenzy for addressing as king or queen any American living in America.

There is, in the land these days, a custom now, among certain groups, of dubbing a young achiever as “King” or “queen.” Far from irony or comedy, the address seems slated to prop up those whom the society at large may overlook, or denigrate, or dismiss on account of skin color or national; origin., I have no doubt that such young people well deserve all praise and then some; denigrating anyone, much less an achiever, for his or her biology or ethnic history, is an absurdity. Nor am i certain that the young achiever applauded as “king”: or “queen” will not one day want to discard such a cloak and begin to dress him or herself in the ordinary clothes of achievement, which is its own reward.

Myself, I never do it. When faced with a young achiever’s achievement — assuming it is an achievement and not a matter of “everybody gets a prize,” a commonplace in today’s non-schools, in which actual achievement is cheapened out of existence because to applaud singular achievement is, so they tell us, to offend, or to wreak trauma, and perish forbid that we should ever offend anyone or wreak trauma — I always say “good job !” or some such; because actual achievement is its own reward and merits its own applause. Without frosting its cake with king and queen ersatz.

Which brings me back to Slim Harpo. Back then, in 1957, irony and comedy were understood as such. They were the courtship skills of rakes and flirts at a time when flirting was a serious art and rakery a notable gamble. “I am young and able, can buzz all night long,” cries Harpo, “let me come inside ?” The question mark is there, you can hear it in the down note that carries the word “inside.” She can definitely say “no.” He knows it; goes ahead to have his band prove his claim : “buzz awhile” — the bass line buzzes — and “sting it then” — comes a descant guitar lick. After which Harpo repeats his boast, and then adds “I can buzz better, baby, when your man is gone.” Yes, his plea is illicit, and it offers the lady the thrill of behaving badly, of doing forbidden mischief. Of such treats are the words “king’ and “queen” made here in an America, in which the Windsor family is an offstage irrelevance.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi : a relief bill passed with only Democratic votes

Not a single Republican in Congress has voted to give Americans a $ 1400 stimulus check; or to extend a $ 300 per week unemployment addition through September 6th; or to relieve $ 80 billion of multi-employer pension liabilities; or to fund billions for Covid vaccination, States’ depleted funds, or support small businesses. The question is, WHY ? Why HAVEN’T a single Congressional Republican voted Yes ?

Probably no Republican response is better stated than Senator Susan Collins’s. This is how she justifies her Nay vote :

“There is widespread support in Congress to pass a sixth package to increase funding for the distribution of the vaccine and to help struggling families, workers, small business owners, and health care providers. I led a group of 11 Republican Senators in proposing a targeted $650 billion bill that would have done just that. Among other provisions, our amendment would have supported rural health care providers, helped students return to their classrooms, extended unemployment assistance, sent direct $1400 checks to low- and middle-income Americans, expanded access to child care, increased resources for substance use and mental health, bolstered nutrition assistance programs, and sustained small businesses and jobs across the country.“Regrettably, there was no interest from Democratic Leadership in negotiating a targeted, bipartisan relief package that meets the challenges at hand. Instead, Democrats chose to ram through a partisan bill using a partisan process. The only thing bipartisan about this package was the opposition in the House. Under the guise of providing COVID-19 relief, the Democratic leaders proposed a bloated $1.9 trillion package stuffed full of provisions that have nothing to do with fighting the coronavirus, from either a public health or economic perspective. The bill also picks winners and losers. For instance, rather than allocating state aid based on population size as Congress did previously, a new formula will result in a cut of $155 million for the State of Maine.

Fair enough, as far as it goes: yet her statement doesn’t really go very far. What are the features of the Covid relief bill that “have nothing to do with fighting the coronavirus” ? She doesn’t say. Here are the major provisions :

  • $1,400 stimulus checks capped at individuals making less than $80,000 per year and households earning $160,000.
  • $300 per week jobless benefits through September.
  • $350 billion for states and local government.
  • Payments up to $3,600 per child.
  • $34 billion to expand Obamacare subsidies.
  • $14 billion for vaccine distribution.
  • $130 billion for schools.

There is more, of course. i will get to it. First, let me address the provisions listed above. Of course the $ 34 billion for Obamacare subsidy isn’t directly a Covid relief matter. Yet All major Federal spending bills include dozens of earmarked items. Congress members all have local interests to advance as well as interests entrusted to them by actiuv9ist and donors., it has been thus since the beginning and is of the nature of a government by representation. One wants to say that the Republicans’; objection isn ‘t to earmarking but that the wrong interests have received earmarks. that’s hardly a persuasive objection except to partisans.

Much of the $ 1.9 trillion goes to very specific budget items, State and local. These allocations don’t make for headlines but to enumerate them is to grasp their crucial Covid relief nature :

  • The Senate bill provides $510 million for the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program. That money would support homeless services providers for overnight shelter, meals, one month’s rent and mortgage assistance and one month’s utility payments.
  • The Senate version expands the Employee Retention Tax Credit for start-up companies and other businesses hit by the pandemic
  • The bill also increases the value of the federal COBRA health insurance program from 85 percent to 100 percent
  • The bill adds a $10 billion infrastructure program to help local governments continue crucial capital projects.
  • The bill makes all coronavirus-related student loan relief tax-free.
  • The bill increases the total amount of Amtrak relief funding by $200 million.
  • For education funding, the bill sets aside $1.25 billion for summer enrichment; $1.25 billion for after-school programs and $3 billion for education technology
  • The Senate bill also adds $8.5 billion in funds for the Provider Relief Program to assist rural health care providers.

Much of the $ 1.9 trillion gows to a one-year child tax credit which sends up top $ 3,000 per child aged 6 to 17 and 4 3,600 per child aged up to 6 years old :

  • Under the Senate plan, most Americans would receive $3,000 a year for each child ages 6 to 17, and $3,600 for each child under age 6.
  • The provision in the bill would last one year and be sent via direct deposit on a “periodic” basis. It is also a major expansion of the existing child tax credit, which currently provides $2,000 a year for children from birth through age 16.
  • More regular payments are intended to help offset costs families face day to day, instead of sending families one annual payment.

Of course this large subsidy isn’t all a matter of Covid relief; yet it addresses an economic problem that the Covid crisis aggravated : child poverty. The child credit will greatly increase the consumer spending power of millions of low income families. I do not see how that can be anything but hugely beneficial for the economy as a whole.

Republicans seem unready to accept the basic facts of money in an economy : that it does not stop moving; that allocating dollars to one purpose does not end the flow of those dollars; that increasing the flow of money, and the breadth of its flow, lifts the entire economy, which consist, or should consist, of all who live within that economy.

I am not advocating equality of money distribution, far from it : a major gradation of money allocation spurs ambition, innovation, and dedication to work. But I Am saying that a society suffers badly if many people in it live in poverty, require public assistance in order to get by, and cannot participate in the discretionary economy. wages in America have decreased for at least 40 years relative to process and asset values. this cannot stand. It cannot co0ntiue for even another day. People who work must be able to earn enough to spend into the discretionary economy and to not need public assistance. We cannot pass a $ 15/hour minimum wage in a budget bill, of which this Covid relief is one, but we can take such budget measures as will enable similar economic benefits. And we have now done this. I do not find Republican objection valid in any way.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^^ Paul the Apostle writes his letter to his church at Corinth, saying the words I am using as my lede.

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In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul the Apostle wrote the following : When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

His admonition speaks to us today. Paul reminds us that the child is not the adult, and that we shall be judged not as we were as a child but as an adult. This is why societies establish rites of passage for their young: before, they are children; after, they are members of the society. But not before.

I recall Paul the Apostle to you because I have just finished working on a political campaign in which my candidate was savaged, likely by a rival, for things he is alleged to have done when in high school — in short, as a child.

The savaging was bad enough. Who is presumptuous enough to judge somebody else’s childhood ? Isn’t that for the child’s parents ? But enough of this. Worse than the minding somebody else’s business was the response to the savaging. My candidate had been endorsed by a number of big-name politicians, including the legislator for whom he had, until the campaign, worked as chief of staff ! Upon publication of the accusations, all four disowned my candidate. DISOWNED the man they had only a week prior endorsed ! Remember : all four had known my candidate well for years; he had worked hard on the campaigns of three of the four, and they were glad to soak up his help when they needed him. Yet when he most needed him, they went “who ? Never heard of him” or “these accusations are grave and BAD.”

We have seen this act before. My candidate is hardly the first to be accused of sexual improprieties in his school days (which somehow in the telling become predation). We all recall the shock and awe thrown at Judge Brett Kavanugh during his confirmation hearing for the office of Supreme Court Justice. Though Kavanaugh at hearing time was 53 years old, and had enjoyed 30-odd years of distinguished adult life, his “I thought as a child” years were — as the objectors screamed — so disqualifying that he was to be rejected for office, forced to resign as a Judge, and personally ruined forever.

As we recall, the attack did not work. Because Kavanaugh had the power of a political party backing him — a majority party at the time — he survived the vilification. I am no fan of political parties, which in our nation have become the wholly owned playthings of zealots and greedy donors, but in the Kavanugh affair, a strong party in support saved his reputation and his appointment to the High Court.

My candidate in the 19th Suffolk Democratic primary yesterday is not Brett Kavanugh, but it was no mistake for supporters, rejecting the attacks upon him, to quip that he was “being Kavanughed.” My candidate is now 33 years old, 15 years out of high school. In what way are his high school capers relevant to his responsible life as an adult, a life that until accusation day everyone in Democratic politics was glad to make use of all the time ?

Unfortunately, in Democratic party primaries, being accused of a sexual impropriety — only accused, mind you, and of course accused in the press; no court action need be brought, where evidence and proof would be obligatory — has become poison. If Vladimir Putin’s poison squad regularly novachuks the life out of critics like Aleksey Navalny if they can, accusers in the Democratic party’s candidate fights are allowed — encouraged, even — to poison reputations. And the party’s primary voters don’t fight it.

The Republican party is no better. It is actually worse. There, the lies of a Republican President become truths which, if you do not believe them, subject you to electoral poison. Where Democratic character assassins destroy only individual reputations, Republican character killers seek to destroy the nation., Obviously that’s a much deeper threat; but I am not assuaged by sacrificing only one life rather than an entire people. Character poisoners should be shunned at all stages. Those of us who know the person poisoned m,ust rush to his or her aid, lance the poison, and punish the poisoner, not the poisoned.

Every. Single. Time.

i am not holding my breath….

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere