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"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars"

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Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren
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The Merriam-Webster dictionary has just announced that more than 1,000 new words have been added to its latest edition.

One of those new words -- snollygoster -- arrives just in time to apply to Republican members of Congress, who shut down Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) as she was reading a letter from Coretta Scott King on the Senate floor.

According to Merriam-Webster, a snollygoster is "a shrewd, unprincipled person". The word has a history in American English as far back as 1846.

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The dictionary cites one use by former President Harry Truman who "lamented that Dwight Eisenhower had given in to congressional 'snollygosters' -- unprincipled politicians."

One of the darker moments in this one-sided cabinet battle in a Republican controlled Senate, came when Senator Warren was not allowed to participate further in the Senate debate over Senator Jeff Sessions, to become Attorney General.

Following a second straight all-night session, Warren's Democratic colleagues came to her support. Several male senators took to the floor to read the letter. They were not shut down for "breaking Rule 19."

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Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a floor speech Wednesday, "I think Leader McConnell owes Senator Warren an apology." He joined other Democrats who "were particularly chagrined that a Senate rule could be invoked to prevent a member from criticizing someone who is up for confirmation before the body."

National Public Radio covered the story Wednesday:

"A day after Senate Republicans invoked a conduct rule to end Sen. Elizabeth Warren's speech against the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King urging the Senate to reject Sessions' nomination as a federal judge is gaining new prominence.

"Warren was reading aloud from the letter by King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when she was interrupted by the presiding chair of the Senate, who warned her of breaking Rule 19, which forbids members from imputing to a colleague 'any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.'

"The warning mentioned Warren's earlier quote of Sen. Edward Kennedy, who had called Sessions, then a U.S. attorney, a disgrace. But it was King's letter that -- more than 10 minutes after Warren finished reading it aloud Tuesday night -- prompted Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call her out of order. That resulted in Warren being silenced on the Senate floor."

King's letter was posted online by The Washington Post.

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When Senator Sessions was confirmed Wednesday night 53-47, in a party-line vote, his confirmation was the second narrow confirmation. The only Democrat who supported him was Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a state that voted 67.9% for Trump and 26.2% for Hillary Clinton.

Betsy DeVos, an anti-public school, billionaire fund-raiser, from Michigan, who has never attended a public school nor sent her children to a public school, became Secretary of Education by an unprecedented single vote (for a cabinet member) cast by Vice President Mike Pence.

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)
 

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