To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. – Frederick Douglass
Today I provide independent commentary about the following items for this edition of The Wednesday Read:
- Betsy DeVos
- Daines & Warren & McConnell
- Nutjob Bills in Montana Legislature
The Senate approved the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education by a vote of 51-50.
By the way, 5150 was a great album by Van Halen.
Vice President Mike Pence had to cast the deciding vote for DeVos. As for Montana’s Senators, Democrat Jon Tester voted no and Republican Steve Daines voted yes.
Ironically, Daines was the 50th “Yes” vote for DeVos which led me to guess that he might have been checking his campaign bank account to see how many more millions in donations had been received from the DeVos family before he headed in to cast his vote.
Right afterward, the press releases were rolled out from Daines, Tester, and the Montana Democrats.
In his press release, Daines used some quotes from Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen who I think said something about wanting DeVos to come to Montana to attend a school carnival fundraiser at a school where Arntzen was once a principal. (Just kiddin about that quote).
Note – Daines’ press release was not published on his senate website by the time this column was posted.
In his press release Tester said more than 8,500 Montanans contacted his office asking him to oppose DeVos. I’m sure these names and addresses will come in handy for a fundraising email.
In their press release, the Montana Democrats’ executive director said, “Senator Steve Daines just sold out Montana teachers and public school students for $70,000 in campaign cash.”
The Great Falls Tribune has other reactions to the vote HERE.
No matter how you spin it, DeVos is not qualified to be the Secretary of Education. She is not the first, nor will she be the last, person to fill a cabinet position who is not qualified.
We heard the Democrats talk for about 24 hours on the senate floor about DeVos not being qualified and there were millions of calls made to senators for and against DeVos.
Face it, the Democrats have themselves to blame for some less than stellar people being confirmed for the Trump cabinet. Back in 2013 when they controlled the Senate, they changed the rules to eliminate the use of the filibuster on executive branch nominees and judicial nominees, except to the Supreme Court. If that rule was still in place, Betsy DeVos and several other Trump nominees would not be confirmed because they would have needed 60 votes to stop the debate.
What helped the Democrats in 2013 seems to have bitten them in the ass in 2017. Maybe the Democrats will take out their frustration on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee – which will need 60 votes (unless the Republicans change those rules).
Daines & Warren & McConnell:
There were some fireworks last night in the U.S. Senate during the debate about U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions being the Attorney General in the Trump Administration. The fireworks included Montana’s junior U.S. Senator, Steve Daines, who was taking his turn presiding over the senate.
The Hill reports:
The Senate voted to bar Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) from speaking on the floor Tuesday night, after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said her blistering comments about fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s pick for attorney general, broke Senate rules.
Warren was reading comments from the late Senator Ted Kennedy and from the late Coretta Scott King from 1986. That was when Sessions was nominated by President Reagan for a U.S. District Court judgeship. Both their comments were already part of the senate record.
In case you did not know, Sessions’ nomination did not make it out of the Senate Judiciary committee in 1986. The New York Times reported back then that the nomination was opposed because of a number of racially insensitive statements Mr. Sessions was accused of making while serving as United States Attorney in Mobile, Ala.
Daines warned Warren that she was “on the brink of violating Senate Rule 19. Senators are not allowed to “directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”
A few minutes later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got involved and Warren was barred from speaking. A vote was held and the ruling was upheld 49-43.
Daines, for his part, looked lost during the showdown. The Hill reported:
Daines — who at times was repeating words being said to him by GOP Senate floor staff — initially interrupted Warren to warn her that she was on the brink of violating the rule.
It should not be a violation of “Senate Rule 19” to read what someone else wrote or said about a nominee in a previous nomination process.
Warren then took to social media outside the senate chamber and read Coretta Scott King’s letter. You can see it HERE.
When Daines brought up the violation of Rule 19 (which probably happens almost every day and is seldom ruled on) all he and the Republicans did was give Warren and the Democrats publicity. Nobody would be writing and talking about it last night and today and it would have gone unnoticed if not for Daines and McConnell pulling their little trick.
The fact is that Sessions, in 2017, is going to be the next Attorney General. His nomination to be a federal judge was defeated in 1986.
Another fact is Senator Elizabeth Warren is now the face of the opposition to Trump and the Republicans thanks to Daines and McConnell.
Nutjob Bills in Montana Legislature:
The Montana Cowgirl blog has posted a column called “Nutjob Bills in the 2017 Legislature” which is quite funny. The Cowgirl says:
Here are some of the ridiculous pieces of legislation that have been put forward in 2017 by some of the crackpot Republicans who control the Montana legislature. This is not a joke.
One of the bills was from a Democrat (see below).
I can’t wait for part two when the Cowgirl lists all the ridiculous pieces of legislation put forward by some of the crackpot Democrats.
My personal favorite was SB 173 from Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena, “Prohibit dousing oneself with out-of-state deer urine.”
For some reason, the first thing I thought about when reading the information about Cohenour’s bill was Donald Trump…
Here are a few funny ideas for bills that I made up and have heard from others:
- Install a webcam inside the Governor’s plane, so we can monitor it like we do snowplows and bird nests.
- Play circus music inside the capitol when the legislature is in session
- The leaders of the senate and house have to dress like clowns on Friday
- Have a non-native Montanan “purge” day (like the movie) for all non-native Montanans. (This one scares me)
You can read the Montana Cowgirl’s column HERE.