Christopher Brauchli

These two GOP senators are in a head-to-head battle for most disgraceful man in the chamber

This is what you shall do... stand up for the stupid and crazy...
— Walt Whitman, Preface to the first edition of Leaves of Grass

A number of readers wondered whether, following my recent piece on The Triplets in the House of Representatives, I was being unfair to the United States Senate, a body that includes at least two people deserving recognition as much as the triplets in the House. I can only acknowledge my oversight with a mea culpa and make amends by directing the readers' attention to two Senators who, with each utterance, warm the cockles of the trumpian heart and the hearts of all who love and miss the trump.

The two Senators are Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Josh Hawley of Missouri. Great minds can differ on which of the two men is the dumbest man in the Senate. NBC's Joe Scarborough bestowed the label on Josh, calling him the dumbest guy in the Senate, but I prefer to bestow that honor on Wisconsin's Ron Johnson. Ron does not have the academic credentials of Josh. Josh attended Stanford, and Yale law school. The lack of those credentials does not, however, deprive him of the right to being first, not second, in the competition.

Ron has served in the Senate since 2010. During that time ample opportunities for him to show his stupidity have presented themselves, and he has rarely failed to take advantage of them. In 2021, however, he has taken positions that in the opinion of this writer give him an insurmountable lead over Josh Hawley. Among his most memorable demonstrations were his comments on the rioters who stormed the United States Capitol as Ron and his colleague took refuge in a safe space in the Capitol building. Ron said of his time being sequestered in a safe space in the Capitol that: "I never felt threatened I didn't foresee this. They made up their own standards in terms of incitement. The first question was 'Was this predictable? Was it foreseeable? And the answer was no, it wasn't. I don't know any Trump supporters who would do that."

In an interview in March he said of the rioters that: "I know those were people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn't concerned." He went on to say that had the rioters been members of the Black Lives Matter crowd he would have been more concerned for his safety. He did not explain why he joined his colleagues in being taken to a refuge where they were protected from the people showing their love for the country by storming its capitol nor has he explained why more than 400 of them have been criminally indicted for trying to prove their love of country.

Ron's observations about the good intentions of the rioters by themselves, would perhaps not earn him the distinction I have granted him. It is also his expertise on the Covid-19 vaccine. He has repeatedly downplayed the need for people to get vaccinated against the virus. In an interview with Vicky McKenna on April 23 he explained that if a person had the vaccine he or she didn't need to worry about whether anyone else got the vaccine. As he explained: "So if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not. I mean, what is it to you?... So why this big push to make sure everybody gets vaccinated?" The more than 570,000 American who have died could explain why taking the vaccine is important. Anthony Fauci responded to Johnson's comments saying they were nonsense. He said we have very effective vaccines and it makes no sense to take the Johnson position that if he's been vaccinated no one else needs to take the vaccine.

Johnson's competitor is Josh Hawley. Josh is better credentialed than Ron. Josh received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and his law degree from Yale Law School. Both of his degrees have served him in poor stead proving, as a president of Harvard once said, the mere fact that you graduate from a great university does not mean you are an educated person. On December 30, 2020, Josh announced by means of a trump like tweet, that he would refuse to certify the vote that Joe Biden had been elected president. "I cannot vote to certify the Electoral College results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws." Not content to express his unwillingness to certify the electoral college results, as the rioters gathered on January 6 preparing to launch their attack on the Capitol, Josh walked by them pumping his fist in the air in a gesture of support. What happened next is history.

Commenting on Josh's tweets and conduct, John Danforth, a former Missouri Senator said: "Supporting Josh Hawley. . . was the worst decision I've ever made in my life. He has consciously appealed to the worst. He has attempted to drive us apart and he has undermined public belief in our democracy. And that's great damage." Senator Danforth got that right. Josh Hawley is a national disgrace. So is Ron Johnson. The nut jobs in the House of Representatives have not upstaged the ones in the Senate. The electorate has made sure there are enough to go around.

The art of 'court packing': Trump has appointed almost one-fourth of all active federal judges in the US

"[T]he Senate is much given to admiring in its members a superiority less obvious or quite invisible to outsiders. . . ."

— Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1907)

Federal courts are a lot like suitcases as events over the last 5 years have shown. There are many different ways to pack them. This would be of no particular interest except for the cries of alarm being sounded by the packers in chief. They keep demanding that presidential candidate, Joe Biden, disclose whether, if elected president, he would use the only method of packing the United States Supreme Court that Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, have not needed to employ—expanding the number of Justices who sit on the United States Supreme Court.

The question is posed not because Republicans object in principle to the idea of increasing the size of the United States Supreme Court in order to create a majority aligned with their views, but because of the success they have enjoyed packing the entire federal court system without resorting to such an obvious tactic. There is strength in numbers and that has enabled Mitch and his cohorts to effectively pack the United States Supreme Court, and many Federal Courts of Appeal and Federal District Courts with conservative judges. Their success ensures that the political alignment of those courts will comport with the politics of the packers far into the future.

The first method of packing that was demonstrated by the Republicans took place in 2016 after Justice Antonin Scalia's death. Following years of precedent, when Scalia's death created a vacancy on the Court, President Obama did what all presidents before him had done on such occasions. He sent to the Senate the name of a replacement. Mitch did what had never before been done by a Majority Leader of the Senate-he refused to meet with the person who had been nominated by the president or to hold hearings or permit a vote on the nomination. Even though the 2016 election was 10 months away, Mitch said that a successor should not be selected until after the election and the people had spoken. The vacancy remained until after the 2016 election when the vacancy was given to the trump to fill, a much-valued gift that was the first example of Mitch and his colleagues packing the Supreme Court without expanding its size. If the Scalia vacancy had been a suitcase, upon arrival at its destination the traveler would have discovered the suitcase was well stocked with the traveler's needs.

The next example of packing the suitcase and the Supreme Court occurred 3 ½ years later when Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, died less than 2 months before the 2020 election. With her death, the opportunity to select her successor was presented to Mitch and his cronies. Notwithstanding their earlier concern that any seat of a Supreme Court Justice who died in the same year as an election should remain vacant until the election had been held, Mitch concluded that his reasoning, following the death of Justice Scalia was wrong. The vacancy was immediately filled by Mitch and his gang thus once again demonstrating what had become their tried and true method of packing the Supreme Court.

Of course lower courts, like suitcases, can also be packed and Mitch and his followers did that throughout the last two years of the Obama administration and the 3 1/2 trump years. During the last two years of the Obama administration, Mitch effectively blocked the appointment of new Judges to the United States Courts of Appeals. In contrast, during the administrations of Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and Bush, the latest nomination to a Court of Appeals made by them and confirmed during the end of their respective tenures was submitted in the same year as the presidential election and they were confirmed that same year. Of the seven Obama nominees submitted by him in 2015 and 2016, none was confirmed, and their seats were vacancies that Mitch and the trump were able to fill after the trump became president.

Of course the Mitch method of packing the court applies equally to the Federal District Courts. There were 42 unconfirmed Obama nominees to the Federal District Courts when the trump became president. Nineteen of them had been nominated in 2015 and 23 of them had been nominated in early 2016. Those were vacancies that, before packing, would have been filled by the Senate before the election in 2016. Instead, and to the Trump's and Mitch's great delight, they were all filled after the trump's election by nominees submitted by the trump and confirmed by a Senate controlled by Mitch and his colleagues.

According to one study, the trump has appointed almost a quarter of all active federal judges in the United States, That's a record of which Mitch can be proud. Demanding to know whether the Democrats might try to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by adding Justices to the Court, the only means of packing the Republicans did not need to invoke in order to change the political make-up of the Federal Judiciary for many years to come, seems disingenuous. There's a reason. It is.

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