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Confounding and confusing events 5/30/22

Recently, Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas called out the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court with regard to the atmosphere on the court before 2005, and he is quoted as saying, “We actually trusted each other. We may have been a dysfunctional family, but we were a family and we loved it.” This clearly implies that Justice Roberts has somehow disrupted that process. It would seem to me from observing the Court, that the person who is most disruptive, dower and sour is Justice Thomas himself, and when combined with Justice Alito, one can only imagine the negative, unhappy group that they makeup, and thus, fail to contribute to any sense of harmony on the Court. The continuing comments by Justice Thomas, the disclosures about his wife and his inability to see that he has to recuse himself in certain matters in incredibly disturbing.

A new report coming out of the Southern Baptists Convention indicate that leaders routinely silence sexual abuse survivors, and a small group of the executive committee kept this information largely secret for twenty years with their rational being that the Southern Baptist Convention would be subject to money damages if the abuse victims later sued. Had they implemented calls for policy changes to stop predators rather than dismissing any reforms they wouldn’t appear just like Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts and other organizations which have been vilified for this behavior. I trust that appropriate investigations will be conducted by the state’s Attorney Generals and local prosecutors to ensure that victims receive justice.

Representative Stefanik continues to be vilified in various publications arising out of her fund-raising ads, tweets, and other public comments. The Lincoln Project recently pointed out even though may large businesses came forward after the George Floyd murder and pledged funds and changes in attitude at their organizations, they, nonetheless, continued to give heavily to Ms. Stefanik even as she supported the replacement theory. The language in her recent ad, which I quoted last week, certainly would qualify. Recently, Vermont public radio also castigated her.

So far, corporate donors, as I have noted above, have not shied away from giving to Republicans, and, in particular, Ms. Stefanik who have supported the replacement theory. Obviously, there is some real danger for these corporations because as this becomes widely known, there may be backlash against them.

At the same time her mentor at Harvard University has come down hard on her, as well, essentially saying that she has moved to the dark side as further evidence by her replacing North Country staffers with people that you and I might know with basically maga-sincifants, who we don’t know and who don’t know us. The Harvard mentor, John Bridgeland, left a senior position in the George W. Bush Whitehouse and joined Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in the fall of 2004, and had assigned to him an eager student as a student fellow, and facilitator of his seminar. Miss Stefanik was impressive and did a great job with Bridgeland indicating that he thought the world of her, then she got to Congress and initially established herself as a moderate. Maybe this was always a façade. That gradually evaporated over her first three terms where she went from truly a moderate voting record to a right-wing voting record, while still trying to claim that she was bipartisan. She now grasps the Great Replacement Theory as the cornerstone of her philosophy. This is incredibly dangerous for us, and hopefully for her.

Epidemiologists are now advising that we are seeing an uptick in a wide variety of viruses that appeared to be dormant for the last two years. Likely, as a result of wearing masks, social distancing, people working from home, the number of viruses that were spread was dramatically reduced. The issue that this creates is not one of surprise because of the resurgence of viruses, but the fact that people’s immune systems have been weakened relative to these viruses, thus making large swaths of the population more vulnerable to them. This creates the opportunity as the develops flu viruses, gastrointestinal viruses, etc. to keep many at home sick, although not likely for as many days, but nonetheless, it could create. Covid keeps on giving.

There is much being written about Mr. Trump not getting the results he wanted in Georgia, while in other locations he has done much better, particularly in deeply red states, or at least where the base of the Republican party is very strong and comes out to vote in big numbers in primaries. I wonder whether or not the real issue here for Mr. Trump is that his message is solely a negative about 2020, and its clear that he seeks vengeance with no other purpose. I suspect, just like people are tired of Covid and wearing masks, they are tired of listening to the negative commentary. It is worth noting that Mr. Trump, to the best of my knowledge, has not once, nor have any other Republicans that I have heard, come forward with a message of how to fix inflation, the supply chain nor the other issues that the country is facing. Like the Democrats need a positive message that is focused on what voters want, and need, the Republicans also must do the same, otherwise, you could see a dramatic drop in voter turnout, the consequences of which are very hard to predict.

Canadian dairy quotas will again be the subject of a trade dispute with a new filing by the US under the USMCA. Note, the US did not impose sanctions because they must be proportional, so the government and the Ag advocacy groups got more press from this process. A little cynical, maybe.

Bill Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher and Trombley in Plattsburgh, NY and a Strategic Advisor at Dentons to Washington, DC.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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