When Someone Tells You What They Are, Believe Them. Political Parties, Too.

The Huffington Post was only one of several outlets reporting on the confirmation of yet another unqualified (but politically and ideologically acceptable) nominee to the federal bench.

The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm one of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, Leonard Steven Grasz, despite the fact that Grasz earned an embarrassing and unanimous “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association.

Every Republican present voted to confirm Grasz, 56, to a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. That includes moderates like Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), as well as retiring Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). Every Democrat opposed him in the 50-48 vote.

It is extremely rare for the Senate to confirm a judge with such an abysmal rating from the national legal organization. The ABA has reviewed more than 1,700 federal judicial nominees since 1989, and only three, including Grasz, have been deemed unanimously unqualified. The other two, both nominees of President George W. Bush, were withdrawn and replaced with other nominees after the ABA’s assessment came in.

Lest you be tempted to dismiss the ABA’s rating, the panel had interviewed more than 180 people familiar with Grasz, who had served as Nebraska’s chief deputy attorney general for 11 years and was thus well-known to practitioners in the state.

He was described by people who knew him and lawyers who’d worked with him as “gratuitously rude.” Far more concerning, a number of people reported having an “unusual fear of consequences” if they said anything negative about him because of his “deep connection” to powerful politicians in Nebraska. (Perhaps his evident petulance and thin skin are what commended him to Trump, who exhibits similar characteristics.)

So why would the GOP elevate someone who appears to be an unqualified asshole to a circuit court position requiring a modicum of tact and a judicial temperament? There are literally hundreds of highly qualified Republican lawyers–why choose someone so unfit to serve?

ABA members also raised concerns that Grasz would be “unable to separate his role as an advocate from that of a judge,” given his record on issues like LGBTQ and abortion rights. Among other things, Grasz served on a nonprofit board that backed so-called conversion therapy for LGBTQ kids, and in a 1999 article argued that lower courts should be able to overrule Supreme Court decisions on abortion rights because “abortion jurisprudence is, to a significant extent, a word game.”

Putting someone on the bench who believes that a circuit court could–or should–“overrule” the Supreme Court when they issue a decision he dislikes is incomprehensible. Or should be.

In the wake of the elections in Virginia and Alabama, I’ve begun to hold out hope that Trumpism will be limited–that the 2018 elections will put adults back in charge of Congress, and that Trump/Pence will be gone once Muller completes his work. Worst case scenario, by 2020 much of the damage being done–to our position in world, to the environment, to public education, to the poor–can be undone, or at least mitigated.

But not the courts. The ideologues and incompetents being nominated and confirmed to the federal courts will be there for life, and if there are enough of them, they can change the course of American jurisprudence for a hundred years.

There are many things the Congressional GOP is doing that horrify me–passing policies that hurt the most vulnerable while enriching their donors and patrons, “culture war” tidbits they are throwing to their frightened, racist and uneducated base to keep them subdued. But subverting the rule of law by  placing zealots and know-nothings rather than principled conservatives on the federal bench ranks as the most despicable action of all.

I think it was Maya Angelou who said “When people tell you who they are, believe them.” Today’s Republican party is telling us who they are, and it isn’t pretty. In fact, it’s nauseating.


  1. We’re entering a different era. Nebraska likes this guy, and Nebraska likes Trump. Definitely a different time and different people now.

  2. Sheila,

    “When people tell you who they are, believe them.” Today’s Republican party is telling us who they are, and it isn’t pretty. In fact, it’s nauseating.”

    They are a group of BUMBLING NAZI SYMPATHIZERS using an UPDATED PLAYBOOK. It is as simple as that. Let’s don’t complicate it.

    sym’pa-thize’ (-thiz) vi. -thized, thiz’ing 1. to share the feelings or the ideas of another 2. to feel or express sympathy—sym’pa-thiz’er n.

    ~Webster’s New World Dictionary

  3. They don’t like to use the word Nazi because of its association with NATIONAL CATASTROPHE. That’s the reason they keep using new BRANDS like the TEA PARTY.

  4. This nation’s entire legal/judicial system is fraught with problems at all levels. Lack of experience and qualifications, as well as political patronage currently led and upheld by Congress, appears to be one of the major problems. Look at SCOTUS and McConnell ignoring the Constitutional REQUIREMENT to simply hold hearings on President Obama’s nominees to fill court vacancies and the rush to fill the SCOTUS vacancy with Trump’s choice. Now the Republicans appear to be scurrying to overload the judicial system they refused to consider acting on, with frightening speed to put their appointees in place before they themselves are ousted. I think – maybe it is only hope – they will be ousted, but their lifetime appointees appear young enough to have many years of lack of service ahead of them and will be there long after all McConnels and Ryans are gone.

    Will the Republican appointees seek the necessary knowledge to bring justice to those appearing before them? No need to put that effort into their day jobs; they will be their for life.

  5. Save Social Security and Medicare. Reduce Pentagon war and Foreign Aid war budgets. Increase (not cut) taxation.
    Stop one-way flow of annual off-budget tax-free funds from U.S. Treasury to foreign treasuries such as Israel’s.
    DO NOT vote any crooked, self-serving GOP.

  6. If life time judicial offices were created (by people, not a god), cannot that law be changed, reversed, uncreated, come a badly needed revolution?

  7. On the other hand, if Trump and his lackeys, funded by the oligarchs, succeed in our annihilation due to global warming (polar bears are dying as the ice melts) who gives a tinker’s damn? Grasz’ lifetime appointment will be irrelevant.

  8. A variation on Maya Angelou’s comment is When politicians speak extemporaneously, they are telling what they think. When they later “clarify” their comments, they are telling what their handlers told them they had to say.

  9. There is a qualifier to that “lifetime” appointment. “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior…” They can, in fact, be impeached.

  10. Where do the majority of attorneys stand when they see politicans bending or dismantling the rules of law that they swore to uphold?
    And is there anything they can do about it.

  11. You don’t have to ask a Republican politician, or a Republican voter where he/she stands. You only need to look at what they do when the votes are cast or the poor need help.

    Words are cheap…. actions are where the truth is.

  12. In order to better understand, we need to make things as simple as possible. For a start: From my humble perspective, except for the OLIGARCHY, there are only two types of Americans, those that have been SCREWED and a few like me who tried not to be screwed, but ended up, SOCIALLY AND FINANCIALLY RUINED.

    I’d LOVE to hear from someone one out there who doesn’t fit in either of the 3 categories.

  13. Ray R Irvin; to answer your first question, the Republican lawyers cheer them on and push to get them nominated ASAP to high court positions, preferably lifetime appointments. The Democratic lawyers, shake their heads and ask themselves “is there anything we can do about it?”.

    To answer your second question; only Congress or the Judicial system can “do anything about it” and that won’t happen unless and until we vote out the current Republican Congressional majority and as many Republicans at state levels as possible. Can’t do that till 2018 and then, IF it happens, we have to wait till after they are inaugurated on January 1, 2019.

    Evidently, too many of we Democratic voters have been sitting with those Democratic lawyers, shaking our heads and are now asking “what the hell can we do about it?”

  14. I have felt like a lonely voice in the wilderness since the first court nominee was sent to the Senate for confirmation. My concern has only grown more “-ugely” as each utterly unqualified person (no woman, please note! has been proposed for the courts.

    The media JUST awakened to the pattern being established: THE COURTS ARE BEING PACKED, SHEEPLE!!!! Yes, judges can be impeached, but, oh, what damage they can do prior to that action. Yes, the damage can be undone, but, oh, the price our society will pay!

    The Senate’s rubber stamping approval for the Cabinet positions and lesser appointments. is equally inexplicable. Our country is blatantly being gutted, to use a hunter’s terminology!

    Midterm elections are coming in 2018. If we don’t speak out with our vote, heaven help us. Welcome to the 1930s!


  15. These unqualified ideologues aren’t the vulgarian’s picks, they’re his pet poodle’s. It doesn’t hurt that the vulgarian can use the nominees to pander (judicial bread and circus), but I don’t think he’s that strategic. I could be wrong, and he’s planning a bigger power grab than we think, but I’m more inclined to believe these nominations have Pence’s grubby fingerprints all over them. And yes, the party that goes along with this travesty should be voted into oblivion.

  16. I agree with Marv completely, that using the term “NAZI” to describe the actions of the Trump administration is not a reach. The Republican bastards are emulating and recapitulating the very actions that Hitler’s regime enacted in the 1930s. It didn’t take him long to suspend government and take complete control of his country. History shows how well that worked out.

    As each of these judicial “appointments” occurs, our liberties and our freedoms become less viable. Our Constitution is under threat from right-wing extremists being put in places of power that are dangerous to democracy itself.

    On a side note: How is it that Indiana has produced two of the dumbest and least qualified vice-presidents in our history? How in the world did Dan Quayle and Mike Pence ever get enough attention to warrant being a heartbeat away from being president?

  17. Vernon @ 10:00 am: I agree with Marv completely, that using the term “NAZI” to describe the actions of the Trump administration is not a reach.

    I disagree. Do you see any Brown Shirts in the streets beating people up, smashing windows?? Do you see any large groups of people rounded up and forced into railroad freight cars for transportation?? Have you observed or have first hand knowledge of pits being excavated and people lined up and shot in them??? Do you know of any Concentration Camps, Slave Labor Camps or Death Camps???

    Comparing today’s Republican Party or Trump to a Nazi, diminishes the true industrial scale evil of the Nazis.

  18. Vernon,

    “I agree with Marv completely, that using the term “NAZI” to describe the actions of the Trump administration is not a reach. The Republican bastards are emulating and recapitulating the very actions that Hitler’s regime enacted in the 1930s.”

    You’re absolutely right. I guess I can understand this in a deeper vein since I was an indirect recipient of benefits from the most powerful member of the Dupont family, Ed Ball, the brother-in-law of Alfred I. Dupont.

    Alfred’s brother, Lamont, was the leader of the attempted FASCIST coup in 1935, which General Smedley Butler stopped when he testified in front of Congress that year. Alfred was the richest and most powerful of the brothers. His home was a massive estate on the shores of the St. John’s river in Jacksonville. Alfred died in the late 30’s and his brother-in-law, Ed Ball, “stepped into his shoes.”

    In 1948, when I was only eleven, I had a private dinner along with my father with Ball in his private railway dining car. Ball was the owner of the Florida East Coast Railway. The conversation during the dinner was only between Ball and myself. After dinner, he commented to my father, “you haven’t said a word, you must be one brilliant man.”

    He then consented to passing on the Railroad’s private estate on the St. Johns river to my father and his friends. As I have mentioned before, my father was a great basketball player during the mid-30’s.

    HOWEVER, HE COULD HARDLY READ OR WRITE. He used me. He was now empowered. But, he couldn’t make a major move without using me. I hated him. He was a FAILED pedophile. Ed Ball didn’t know that. I was being raised by my maternal grandparents. I did have a small room in the back of my mother and father’s home. It wasn’t my home. I just had a “temporary prison cell.”

    I’ve been tracking those BASTARDS ever since. As Milton Mayer wrote in “They Thought They Were Free” about understanding Nazi Germany, you have to be especially astute and know both the beginning and the end.

    Mayer had been a partner, with my partner Harvey Wheeler, at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara. See http://www.StrategicPower.org

    For the past 70 years, I’ve kept my MEETING WITH BALL to myself, until NOW. It is time for all of us to wake-up.

  19. Monotonous,

    “I disagree. Do you see any Brown Shirts in the streets beating people up, smashing windows??”

    They don’t need to. The Germans fought back in the 20’s and 30’s. There has been no REAL challenge whatsoever in this country.

  20. Vern – Quayle and Pence became vice presidents because they had an R beside their names. The really dumb ones are the ones who voted for them because of such mere designation. I have been a lawyer for 62 years this October and I am sworn to uphold the law (as the Supreme Court views it) whatever my personal view of such holdings. I did not and still do not like the Taft-Hartley Labor Law of 1947, for instance. Nor am I enamored with Hobby Lobby, Citizens United, state “right to work” laws et al., but I am (unlike Moore) ethically sworn to uphold such findings and conclusions of our ultimate court of appeal, however reluctantly.

    Would anyone in private enterprise or elsewhere other than government give a lifetime job to an employee who was manifestly unqualified to do the job? I hope not. An R or D beside one’s name is hardly a qualification for a thoughtful jurist. I have known both Democrats and Republicans who were good judges. Indeed I have sat pro tem or special judge for both Democrats and Republicans, including those at the juvenile, superior and circuit levels. I have also known judges, both Democrats and Republicans, who I thought did not measure up to the standards of what I thought made a good judge. I have won and lost cases before both at the trial and appellate levels in both state and federal courts. Unlike The Apprentice, one’s won-lost record does not describe success or failure of counsel – lawyers don’t make the facts; they have to deal with them, and as I tell my children and theirs > “If a guy walked into my office and tells me he just killed his wife and six kids witnessed by a dozen people and wants me to plead him
    not guilty, I would tell him I’m a lawyer, not a magician.”

    What we are witnessing is a McConnell-Trump design to pack the courts as soon as possible with their right wing adherents irrespective of such adherents’ fitness and qualifications for the job given the possibility that Democrats may recapture the Senate in 2018. If history is any guide, some of them will liberalize as they serve and become more moderate in the views they
    held that got them the job, since the likelihood that they will be impeached (though possible) is next to zero short of mass murder in the public square. As we are (bitterly) finding out, the old dictum of “elections matter” matters.

  21. i read the rise and fall of the third reich when i was 12, being in my childhood neighborhood, i sat with WW2 vets,and some WW1 vets, who talked about the war,and the lead up to it. The old neighbors were, union,middle class,(most) some less. many were blacks,english,germans,jews,italians,poles,hungarians,french,irish. they played checkers at the park, lawn bowling, sat and read the newspapers,and talked about the news,together.. Whats the point here, I made a reason to,listen,and believe in America,from what others described in detail,the horrors of someone or some political party over ruling the people,and acting to take over the nation for its own,so called good. damn be the majority,and the rage of it. When the teabaggers came to power,up here in the plains states, i was reminiscent of what i was taught,and what to listen for. this was a breach of trust from the public to personify their own grand illusuions,and take over at any costs. ( remember gordon kahl?) its not a game, its alive and has taken over halls of congress and the presidency. though you can brush aside one opinon here, at least follow the,money……. when hitler gained the industrialists, he gained the banks and politicains too.. we see wall street here,and dont raise the eye brows,look at who this attention is focused with,and what, throws the money. Im tired of hearing how some poor fool made it big, or how some minion of trumps worked so damn hard to get here..I guess the working mans sweat,the ones who man the guns at war,the ones who worry about their childrens future,and thier demise,at such a state as today. were handed another debt for the rich,(the present tax scam)a following debt from china on their credit card to have a war,(iraq,afgaistan)(great we owe a communist country money for supporting finacially our war) look at that debt were saddled with along with paying to run a country our congress flushes with bribes,jails,military complex,debt after school,and a runamock finacial system all gained on the backs of americans. Marv Kramer has a real piece of this pie,and its still alive from back when.We have sat back and only pointed fingers,now its time to give the finger to them. its a take over,plain and simple, but what are you going to do about it? If Mueller is fired,I hope we all take some time off and show some support for our democracy this time,protests,make a rabid take no prisoners debate,and get the congress to support the impeachment,or face a election like no other..its time we put the pipe down and swung alittle democracy here. like i say, mentor,and help all to vote. it actully still works… in the meantime,theres plenty of ink,and a taxpayer goverment supported web page for all, to voice an opinion,and show up at any, town hall meeting with these minions…who ever they are…

  22. Vern,

    “On a side note: How is it that Indiana has produced two of the dumbest and least qualified vice-presidents in our history?”

    There’s much racism in Indiana. However, in some cases there’s a difference in style, for example, from an East Texas racist in the Bible Belt where I practiced law. It might be labeled: MORE CLEAN-CUT. It makes for a much wider appeal.

  23. Mr Stinson, thanks, your words now recorded for my file. thanks for recognizing what we face,and where we need to be..I wish you a fine holiday.. Mike

  24. Who needs competence on the bench when the autocrat/king rules the roost? This is exactly where Trump is heading and explains why his cabinet picks, other than General Mattis at DOD, have been so abysmal and sycophantic like his Treasury Secretary. It’s almost like a spell has been cast on these people that so far, because he is man of great character, Jim Mattis is immune to. Perhaps it’s his long and distinguished service in the United States Marine Corps has made him immune what is happening to the rest of these people where he is the odd man out in a sea of mediocre individuals who reside in Cabinet positions that they are woefully unqualified for.

    We’ve all been talking into the ground how Trump views his current position, as an autocrat/king, totally contrary to established norms of behavior, norms to go back all the way to George Washington. Well, this is what it looks like and if we don’t get on top of this as soon as we possibly can we are going to witness something absolutely dreadful-the demise of this country as a constitutional Republic, with power only emanating from its very top and everything else and every level being subservient to that centralized power.

    I think Trump gave this away a very early on right after he took office where he assigned his son in law, Jared Kushner, the role of chief Middle East negotiator, a position he is in no way anywhere near being qualified to be in, since he is the Crown Prince. I think we have to get it in our heads and do so as quickly as possible that this is how Trump views his position as President of United States and how he is getting people, obviously of dubious character as well, that serve in the Legislative and Judicial branches of our government to go along with this. What they have done with this tax legislation and all of the other aberrant legislative actions shows that their allegiance is not to those who elected them but rather who paid their bills and all of those people side with Trump. Perhaps right now they’re contemplating their roles in the evolving Royal Court.

    I have never in my wildest dreams contemplated keying anything anywhere close to what I’ve keyed above. I sit here only as an observer who at times wishes he had chosen another major other than political science and international relations to study and have as an avocation so I could be just as oblivious to was going on as it appears so many other Americans are. I sincerely hope that I am way off the mark in what I’m thinking but I don’t think I am and wish more than anything that what we’re seeing and what we will be seeing isn’t going to come to pass in a country that prides itself in its democracy and freedom, something it and its people have enjoyed and defended for over 240 years through thick and thin.

  25. Vern,

    I needed to say what I did about my background. I got the idea and motivation to do it from the INTRODUCTION to your book which I still highly recommend. We all have different family backgrounds. Backgrounds can make a big difference. What happens in our youth is hard to erase. That’s not always a bad thing.

  26. Tom,

    “Well, this is what it looks like and if we don’t get on top of this as soon as we possibly can we are going to witness something absolutely dreadful-the demise of this country as a constitutional Republic, with power only emanating from its very top and everything else and every level being subservient to that centralized power.”

    From participating on this blog for the past 2 1/2 years, I’m confident we have the ability to GET ON TOP OF THIS if we can REVEAL the deception that’s been created from the billions of dollars
    that have been directed to the charade from the likes of the Koch Brothers et al.

    They aren’t invincible. A better word might be VULNERABLE. Who knows?

  27. I am not a beltway insider by any stretch of the imagination so I can only speculate about things work there. While this debacle joins the growing ranks of insects eating our house it strikes me as less a Trump doing and more a RNC and Ryan/McConnell heist. Trump is in his counting house counting all his money and dreaming of his Christmas gift from them, a massive transfer of wealth to pay him back for services rendered. He is well insulated from the court system by a large collection of very busy lawyers.

    In a few days we will be in the calendar year in which we can thank the RNC for their services. We only need a few scalps to stop their destruction but I keep thinking that booting a whole bunch would send an effective message and handcuff the entire Trump gang which is existential in priority.

    It’s not too early to start organizing us indians for the Republican’s Little Big Horn. We can start hoping for no survivors.

  28. Pete,

    “It’s not too early to start organizing us Indians for the Republican’s Little Big Horn.”

    It’s not that difficult. Just push over their TROJAN HORSE.

  29. Marv, I do too and I always will but the threats we are facing are dire! I think were going to see that “getting on top of this” in a very big way very soon!!!

  30. Tom,

    I believe like Sun Tzu, the best intelligence wins. See http://www.Sonshi.com You have to understand yourself as well as your enemy. With all due respect to Charles Koch, I have a 20 year lead on him and “all the money in China” can’t overcome that.

  31. Tom,

    I’m feeling my youth again. This is going to be a lot of fun, if war can be called pleasurable. I might be 80 but most people think I’m in my late 60’s. Experience must count for something. Right?

  32. They’ve gotta be kidding. I’m going to stand around as I lose my medicare. They must think everyone else is as cowardly as they are. Screw’em.

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