Platitude: a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful. Here are some examples gleaned from here and there.

Democratic liberals in Washington want to turn America into a socialist nation.

I will oppose all efforts to limit your 2nd Amendment rights.

Inflation steals from hard working people.

Stop the overreach of government mandates.

You can’t eat in New York without showing a card, but you can vote in New York without showing a card.

Our kids deserve a quality education, not indoctrination.

Big tech is censoring conservatives left and right. We have to protect free speech and fight against cancel culture.

Thank you for your service.

Thoughts and prayers.

We will never forget.


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Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.–Article I, Section 5 of The Constitution.

The Constitution is clear: each House makes its own rules. Rep. McCarthy’s challenge to the proxy voting rule was clearly frivolous, thus the Supreme Court has declined to hear it.

The proxy voting rule is needed during the pandemic, otherwise it would not have been reasonable. Members of Congress are intended to assemble and debate, not to name a proxy and leave town early.

Many who initially opposed the proxy voting rule found it convenient and made good use of it, so it may not be easily repealed. However, repeal would not be enough to restore the ideal of responsible debate and action by members of the House. It is rare now for members to listen while others speak. More often they stay in their offices until it is time to vote. Party-line voting shows that the need for legislation is overshadowed by party loyalty.

Members might better be required to be present when the House is in session. But since Members have a voice in the rules, such a rule change is unlikely.

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Some National Statistics

Nation Area (sq mi)PopulationGDP (USD)
Canada3.9 million38 million1.6 trillion
China3.7 million1.4 billion14 trillion
France210,00067 million2.6 trillion
Germany138,00083 million9 trillion
Poland121,00038 million594 billion
Russia6.6 million144 million1.5 trillion
United Kingdom50,000 67 million2.7 trillion
United States3.8 million330 million21 trillion
National Statistics

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 Letter from Birmingham Jail, August 1963

Contributed by Arthur Ahrens of Branchport, NY.

In observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. day, here is an excerpt from his Letter from Birmingham Jail, August 1963:

“I MUST make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

The letter was written in longhand while he was imprisoned as a participant in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation.

The entire letter can be read here:

It is signed:

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

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All negative, nothing positive, nothing concrete.

Republican priorities when we regain the majority next year: 1 – Hold the Biden Administration accountable 2 – Secure the Border 3 – Make our cities safe again 4 – Rein in the out-of-control inflation 5 – Stop the overreach of government mandates. — misleader Kevin McCarthy

McCarthy would blame Biden for anything he doesn’t like. There was crime when Richard Nixon was President. He was responsible mostly when he was the criminal. It was the same with Tweety.

McCarthy is dreaming if he thinks he can stop human migration. He doesn’t say how he thinks this could be done. Perhaps he envisions thousands in squalid camps in Mexico as in Belarus.

Crime statistics may show cites to have been sometimes safer, sometimes not. It is unlikely that partisan politics affects crime directly, but economic ups and downs might.

It is the Fed’s job to combat inflation which it does by raising or lowering interest rates. Congress can do little about it, and there is no consensus for what little it might do. Some say cut spending, some say raise taxes; the result is nothing is done.

As with President Obama, Republicans claim everything the Biden Administration does is overreach. Even investment in infrastructure is panned, although Republicans favor it when they are in power.

People who claim to revere the flag are often wont to desecrate it; those who claim to value The Constitution often misinterpret it; those who call loudly for fair elections often support voter suppression, some calling for “one person, one vote” don’t recognize some of us as persons. Heaven forbid we return these people to power.

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Voter Opinions

Contributed by Arthur Ahrens of Branchport, NY.


The UVA (University of Virginia) Center for Politics/Project Home Fire survey/data analytics project asked Joe Biden and Donald Trump voters their opinions on the events of Jan. 6.

  • Overall, about 30% of the combined group of Biden and Trump voters at least somewhat believe the rioters are “patriots” who should be applauded for their actions, while about 70% at least somewhat believe they are “insurgents” who should be criminally prosecuted. The single, biggest predictors of the patriots vs. insurgents divide: belief in or rejection of conspiracy theories and the “Big Lie” that the outcome of the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate.
  • This “patriots vs. insurgents” divide reveals in the starkest terms that we are now a nation at war with itself. Our democracy is effectively being held hostage to whether voters believe in conspiracy theories and the Big Lie, or not. Collectively, this analysis of the Jan. 6 events highlights in stark detail how deep, wide, and dangerous our national divide has become.

On the one hand, our analysis shows that belief in conspiracy theories correlates with a “fear of the other” and “us vs. them” mindset, support for secession, and an openness to using violence to stop the other side from achieving their political goals. Collectively, these four beliefs are most powerfully predictive of those voters who view the people who stormed the US Capital on Jan. 6, 2021 as patriots. More specifically, ranked in order of importance, these beliefs include a stronger likelihood of agreeing with the following statements:

  • Former president Barack Obama was really born in Kenya and so was not actually legally eligible to be president of the United States.
  • You/someone close to you will experience personal loss or suffering due to the effects of [OPPOSITE PARTY] policies in the future.
  • I believe that Americans who strongly support the [OPPOSITE PARTY] have become a clear and present danger to the American way of life.
  • There was a hidden “Deep state” effort to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump.
  • The situation in America is such that I would favor [RED/BLUE STATES] seceding from the union to form their own separate country.
  • Most [OPPOSITE PARTY] no longer believe in the ideas that make America great.
  • Tucker Carlson’s report, on Fox News, that the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot was actually instigated by undercover agents working for the US Federal Bureau of investigation.
  • It is acceptable for concerned Americans to use violence to stop [THE FAR LEFT/FAR RIGHT] from achieving their political goals.

On the other hand, our analysis revealed a rejection of the Big Lie together with social justice concerns, support for the expansion of voting rights and access, and belief in the idea that government should and can work for people as most powerfully predictive of voters seeing the events of Jan. 6 as initiated by insurgents’ intent on subverting the electoral process. Ranked in order of importance, these include:

  • The 2020 presidential election was essentially secure and free of fraud and Joe Biden won “fair and square.”
  • Concerned about reducing police violence against minorities.
  • Concerned about reducing economic and wealth inequality in America.
  • Concerned about preventing state legislatures from passing laws that give them a legal right to overturn or nullify elections in their states.
  • Support for the expansion of access to voting in elections across all 50 states.
  • Concern for making health care affordable for all Americans.
  • Concern for reversing the harmful effects of environmental and climate change.
  • Support for investing in the construction of roads, bridges, rail lines, ports and other types of “hard infrastructure.”

Collectively, this analysis of the Jan. 6 events highlights in stark detail how deep, wide, and dangerous our national divide has become.

Excerpted from

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Two Republicans on Agriculture

Tom is Tom. I am me. There are things we agree on, but there are also a lot of things we disagree on. — Joe Sempolinski

Tom Reed: Agriculture is the backbone of our local economy. Our region features a wide variety of agricultural products, from specialty crops to dairy and livestock. I have had the privilege of visiting countless farms across our region and speak with local growers about the issues they face every day. I have used this valuable input to make informed decisions and enact policies that support our local agricultural industries. I have advocated for local farmers as a leader of the Congressional Wine Caucus, the Northeast Agriculture Caucus, and the Congressional Dairy Caucus. These caucus’ allow Members from across the country and political spectrum to come together and develop practical solutions to the issues that impact farmers, including trade, taxes, research, and crop insurance. One issue that is critically important to local producers is the ability to access a reliable and stable workforce. I am working with my colleagues to improve the H-2A guest worker visa program by modernizing and streamlining the application process.  In addition, I cosponsored HR 281, the Family Farm Relief Act. This bill would allow visa applicants to file H-2A applications online, require the Department of Agriculture to create a user-friendly online system, and end burdensome requirements on advertising and prevailing practice surveys.

Joe Sempolinski: The Southern Tier and Finger Lakes are some of the most beautiful agricultural regions in America. Wine, dairy, fruit and many other agricultural industries form the bedrock of the local economy. Joe will work to support our local farmers and make sure that the federal government works with them to ensure their businesses are viable. Too often the federal government can be a hindrance to agricultural industries instead of a partner.

There does seem to be a difference: Tom would enact policies that support our local agricultural industries including some immigration reforms. Joe would make sure the federal government works with them (agricultural industries) to ensure their businesses are viable.

Talk is cheap; it is unlikely that any member of Congress could do much to help local farmers and agricultural industries, unless that help extended to many other parts of the country. H. R. 281, for example, died in Committee.

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Rep. Andy Kim on Jan 6, 2021

Compiled / tweeted by Rep. Andy Kim:

Remember what Republican leaders said before amnesia set in. I took notes that night:

Mitch McConnell (Jan 6): “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people…They tried to disrupt our democracy, they failed…This failed insurrection.”

Kevin McCarthy (Jan 6): The violence, destruction, and chaos we saw earlier was unacceptable, undemocratic and unamerican. It was the saddest day I’ve ever had as serving as a member of this institution…We saw the worst of America this afternoon…”

Kevin McCarthy on Jan 13: “last week’s violent attack on the Capitol was undemocratic, un-American and criminal…those who are responsible for Wednesday’s chaos will be brought to justice…The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.”

VP Pence on Jan 6: “Today was a dark day in the history of the United States capitol…We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms…To those who wreaked havoc today, you did not win.”

Rep Steve Scalise on Jan 6: “Once you start taking violent actions against law enforcement you’re not a protestor anymore, you are an anarchist. Whether it’s anarchy or terrorism, they were trying to storm the Capitol and stop our democracy from working.”

Rep Stefanik (R) on Jan 6: “This has been a truly tragic day for America, and we all join together in fully condemning the dangerous violence and destruction…violence in any form is absolutely unacceptable, anti-American, and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Rep Mike Gallagher (R) on Jan 6: “Mr. President. You have got to stop this. You are the only person who can call this off. Call it off. The election is over. Call it off. This is bigger than you. It is bigger than any member of Congress. It is about the United States of America.”

Senator Lindsey Graham on Jan 7:“When it comes to accountability the president needs to understand that his actions were the problem not the solution.”

Senator Rand Paul on Jan 6: “Chaos, anarchy. The violence today was wrong and un-American.”

Rep Chip Roy (R) on Jan 6: “Today the people’s house was attacked, which is an attack on the republic itself…People need to go to jail… and the president should never have spun up certain Americans to believe something that simply cannot be.”

Senator Thune (R) on Jan 6: “I hope that the types of people who stormed the Capitol today got a clear message that they will not stop our democracy from moving forward…We need to get our work done and this kind of thuggery would not keep us from doing the people’s work.”

Rep Dan Crenshaw (R) on Jan 7: “On Wednesday the Capitol of the most powerful nation the world has ever known was stormed by an angry mob. Americans surely never thought they’d see such a scene…It was a display not of patriotism but of frenzy and anarchy.“

Senator Ben Sasse (R) on Jan 6: “This building has been desecrated, blood has been spilled in the hallways…what happened today isn’t what America is…There are some who are trying to burn it all down, and we met some of them today.”

Senator Rob Portman (R) on Jan 6: “I condemn the violent and criminal acts that took place at the US Capitol today. These shameful actions to disrupt a session of Congress and vandalize the Capitol building should never happen in our great republic.”

Senator Barrasso (R) on Jan 6: “The violence and destruction have no place in our republic.”

Senator Roy Blunt (R) on Jan 6: “The events unfolding at the Capitol are shameful. There is no justification for violence and destruction. It has to stop now. This is not who we are as a nation. Thank you to the Capitol Police who are keeping us safe.”

Senator Blackburn (R) on Jan 6: “These actions at the US Capitol by protestors are truly despicable and unacceptable. While I am safe and sheltering in place, these protests are prohibiting us from doing our constitutional duty. I condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”

Senator Cynthia Lummis (R) on Jan 6: “Call it what it is: An attack on the Capitol is an attack on democracy.”

Senator Rick Scott (R) on Jan 6: “No one has a right to commit violence. What happened today at the Capitol is disgraceful and un-American. It is not what our country stands for.”

Rep Cathy Rodgers (R) on Jan 6: “What we have seen today is unlawful and unacceptable…I have decided I will vote to uphold the Electoral College results and I encourage Donald Trump to condemn and put an end to this madness.”

Senator Rubio on Jan 6: “There is nothing patriotic about what is occurring on Capitol Hill. This is 3rd world style anti-American anarchy.”

Senator Rick Scott (R) on Jan 6: “No one has a right to commit violence. What happened today at the Capitol is disgraceful and un-American. It is not what this country stands for.”

Senator McConnell: “Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty. There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

These are their words from a year ago. Let’s not let them forget.

Thanks to Ellen Kuebrich Agnello for finding Rep. Kim’s tweet. Kudos to Rep. Kim for compiling it.

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Elizabeth Kolbert on Hyperpartisanship

Elizabeth Kolbert, in an article titled “How Politics got so Polarized”, which appeared in the Jan. 3 issue of “The New Yorker,” discusses hyperpartisanship. She notes that only about a quarter of new posts on facebook by Democrats are viewed by Republicans and vice versa. She writes: “When people confer with others who agree with them, their views become more extreme.”

Kolbert concludes: “Could “superordinate goals” help depolarize America? There would seem to be no shortage of crises for the two parties to work together on. The hitch, of course, is that they’d first need to agree on what these are.”

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Three Candidates on the Issues — Health Care

Andrew McCarthy: Big pharma’s predatory practices have left our nation sicker and poorer than ever before. Costs are going up, life expectancy is going down, enough is enough. Solutions like price transparency, disruptive innovation, cheaper and more readily available generic drugs, and a change in research and development regulations are areas in which I have professional and policy research experience. Bringing down the cost of essential medications like insulin will be my top commitment in office. I support a means tested public healthcare option for those who cannot afford private insurance. My office will also commit to protect Medicare without hesitation. American’s have paid into Medicare for decades and our seniors deserve to enjoy their retirement with good and affordable healthcare. 

Rich Moon: Patients must become the center and priority of healthcare coverage. Huge companies control too much. We need common-sense solutions that will allow New Yorkers to receive the highest quality in medical care without the government’s constant overreach. Front line nurses, doctors, nurses, providers, and support personnel are the caring lifeblood of our system. The bureaucracy gets in their way of caring for us.

Joseph Sempolinski: Joe is against single payer health care. A government run health care system will not allow the competition needed to drive costs down and stimulate innovation. The key to getting people access to care is lowering costs not government control.

The COVID vaccine was a major achievement of the Trump administration. It should be available to all who want it, especially those at high risk of COVID complications. However, Joe is against government mandates forcing people to take the vaccine to work, attend school or participate in the life of our nation.

Does Andrew McCarthy favor allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices? Build Back Better would lower the cost of insulin, but few if any Republicans support it. Would Rich Moon support single payer to eliminate the insurance industry bureaucracy? If competition would drive costs down, why hasn’t that happened yet, Joe?

Vaccine mandates save lives, don’t you know?

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