When Bill Clinton was running for president against George Bush 1 the economy was not in great shape. Now Clinton and Bush had divergent ideas about the role of government, voting rights, social issues, etc. But Clinton’s key adviser told him to minimize those issues.
He had one phrase that he reminded Clinton of every day.
“It’s the Economy, Stupid”.
Talk about the economy. The failure of the Reagan-Bush supply side economics. Emphasize the economy. The economy. The economy.
It was good advice. Clinton won and by the end of his second term the US was actually paying DOWN the national debt. That ended, of course, when the Supreme Court told Florida to stop counting votes and installed Bush 2 as POTUS. He went right back to supply side and, well, you know the rest.
Now, we are engaged in a real crisis, not just an economic downturn. In fact, The MIPOTUS (Mentally Ill President of the United States) inherited the best economy since the end of World War 2. The crisis we face is a pandemic, not an economic crash.
Our current person in charge (I cannot force myself to call him a “leader”) has spent the last 3 months concerned about one thing and one thing only. The economy. No, I take that back. He has been concerned with the Stock Market. Period. Which is part of the economy, but hardly the entire economy. He has identified himself as the man behind the Obama boom he inherited. As the man who created a great economy from nothing. A legend in his own mind.
To such an extent that he and his sycophants have all but ignored the pandemic. We can easily go back to his various statements about how it was a hoax or a plot or was being overblown by the “fake news”. As long as the stock market looked good, he was unconcerned.
February . We have it under control. It will disappear. It will be like a miracle.
Now, due to the inaction and hubris of those in charge, we see the economy on the verge of a major shutdown. It is temporary, of course, because it is caused by a medical emergency, not an economic one.
But still, every chance he gets, the man in the bubble talks about how we had the greatest economy on Earth, until this pandemic hit. There will be plenty of time to dissect all the incompetency and corruption that has led us to this point. And there is plenty.
But what needs to be done now (actually 2 months ago) is an honest, open explanation of what the government is actually doing to help the states and cities fight this war. Instead of vague comments about how he is doing a great job, perhaps listing specific, reliable actions he is taking at the national level would help ease some of the fear. Of course, the problem is that the federal government is doing very little. The anti-big government mentality still holds sway. Let the states worry about it, not our problem.
To Mr. Trump and his cadre of ass kissers: It’s not the economy, stupid.
It’s a pandemic. It’s a national emergency. If you cannot handle it perhaps now is the time to announce you will not seek re-election. Then, perhaps, you can sit quietly in Mar-a-Lago and let the experts take over. The “best of your ability” is not good enough. It’s killing people.
In 2017 he was accused, and later convicted, of shoplifting. The prosecution claims he had hidden some dog toys … yes, DOG TOYS … in his girlfriend’s purse. Then they left the store without paying.
Well, they did have SOME evidence against him, to be sure. They never actually found the toys in his girlfriend’s purse. BUT. They had a video of him going to the car and bringing his girlfriend’s purse into the store. They had some empty dog toy shelves. Stuff like that.
To be clear, they didn’t catch him in the act. It was only a day later when some store employers noticed some empty packaging in the dog toy department that they investigated. Sure enough, the Sherlock-type sleuths discovered that his girlfriend had absconded with $ 186 worth of dog toys!
Some of you who do not own pets may wonder how anyone could stuff $186 worth of dog toys into a purse unnoticed. I mean, that sounds like a lot of Fido fun. Loads of doggy diversions. Now, those of you WITH pets might have a different view. I mean, where can you get a purse load of dog toys for ONLY $186? Must have been in the discount bin. Give me the address of that store. But I digress.
So, despite his pleas of innocence (his girlfriend took complete responsibility, the sweet thing) he was convicted and sentenced. To 2 to 23 months in jail. For pilfering dog toys. Well, I said he was convicted of shoplifting, but not exactly. Since he, himself, never stole any dog toys he was actually convicted of “conspiracy to commit retail theft”. YIKES. That’s sounds a lot worse than shoplifting. A conspiracy.
So poor Benjamin was convicted. But that was then. This is now.
After watching hours and hours of the impeachment trial of Donald Trump from his prison cell, Benjamin had second thoughts. The first thought was this. Being forced to watch hours and hours of the impeachment trial may be grounds for release on a “cruel and unusual punishment” claim.
Second, he wanted a new trial with Lamar Alexander as foreman of the jury.
You see, Lamar Alexander has stated, in writing, publicly that “yes”, the House managers did present a convincing case. In fact, according to Lamar, he is convinced that president Trump DID solicit (extort) the Ukrainian government to try to force them to present an announcement of an investigation into the Bidens. He had seen enough, but it was not enough to convict.
So Senator Alexander does not need any more proof. Trump is a criminal. The facts are clear. Undisputed. But, since Trump is a criminal Lamar has decided NOT to vote to remove him from office. Or to seek any more evidence which might even further prove the case already proven by the House managers. Because, after all, if we convicted criminals what would be next? Slippery slope.
Lamar’s statement: “…There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers.
“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law. But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate….”
When Benjamin saw this he leaped for joy. That is exactly the point he was trying to make. Just because he was found to have committed a crime does not mean he should be found GUILTY of committing a crime. Just because he was involved in a conspiracy, and that was proven by the prosecution, does not justify a GUILTY verdict. It was not really a crime, it was just “inappropriate” for him to conspire to shoplift. And, if we are to uphold what Senator Alexander calls “the principle of equal justice under the law” shouldn’t Benjamin go free?
Benjamin wants Senator Alexander on his jury. And Dershowitz as his lawyer. Mr Forsythe is hoping to call Donald Trump, Jr as his character witness. If he can afford the fee.
There is a new sheriff in town. His name is Lamar. His concept of the law: Some crimes are just not punishable. It all depends on who commits them.
Watching Alan Dershowitz make his arguments for presidential power was certainly mind numbing. Now, I can understand why Trump would have Dershowitz on his team. He has a long history of effectively defending people who might have otherwise been convicted based solely on evidence. OJ Simpson, Jeffrey Epstein, Claus von Bulow and others. Also, his connections with Fox “news” and his connections with the same sex ring that Trump and Clinton seemed to be part of what made him a good choice.
Nevertheless, despite his person flaws and general lack of integrity aside, let’s look at his arguments. Remember, no other Constitutional scholar was willing to sit on the president’s team. Not even Jonathon Turley who the Republicans brought in to testify to the House inquiry. So, Alan stands alone as the expert on the Constitution for Trump.
His basic argument has been this.
If the president did something illegal, but he did it for good reasons, then that is not impeachable.
Furthermore, if the president THINKS that his own re-election is in the public interest, anything he does to secure his own re-election is not impeachable. As long as the president believes his re-election is what is best for the country he may take any actions to assure that re-election and , according to Dershowitz, that would not be an abuse of power.
Here are his own words: “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest and, mostly, you’re right — your election is in the public interest,” Dershowitz said. “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.“
I taught European history for many years when it was part of the old New York State curriculum. Since then European history has been subsumed into a more comprehensive Global Studies curriculum.
Back in the day we spent a bit of time on the French Revolution and the historical basis for that event. The long term developments leading to the Revolution are rooted in the old monarchical system. In the 17th century there was a power struggle in France.
On one hand we had the monarch and on the other the nobles. The majority (98%) of the people could just pound sand. They really did not count.
In order to centralize his power Louis XIV decided that he needed to move against the nobles . Now, the power of the nobles was in the great city of Paris (Washington, DC). To eliminate that power center Louis decided to build a new power center, near the small village outside of Paris. A day’s ride from Paris. So he built Versailles (Mar -a – Lago). There he could control the nobles.
I have been to Versailles. It is mind boggling in both size and luxury. Especially when you consider it was built in the 17th century. A short train ride from Paris today, but in Louis’s time it was isolated from Paris. If a noble wanted to be part of the power structure he had to travel to Versailles. He had to genuflect to Louis. And so Louis was able to slowly bring the nobles under his control.
Most famously a quote attributed to Louis (whether he said it or not, he certainly acted as though he did) was : L’etat C’est Moi. I am the state.
What does that mean? There is no distinction between the interests of the state and the interest of the king. There is no division between what is good for the king and what is good for the state. I am the state. What is good for Mr Trump is, by definition good for the United States.
Now, if we accept this argument, then the following logically follows.
In November of 2020 Mr Trump believes that the election of his opponent is not in the best interests of the nation. However, he honestly believes that his own election is in the best interests of the nation. That being the case, on election night, the results are in.
Mr Trump’s opponent has won. But wait. The election of his opponent is not in the best interests of the nation. So, Mr Trump simply invalidates the election.
He asks Attorney General Barr offer his legal opinion and Mr Barr concurs. It is within the power of the president to annul the election because there is nothing in the Constitution that specifically states a president CANNOT nullify an election.
But wait, Congress can step and overturn the decision. No. According to the legal opinion of the Justice Department the president has unlimited power, as long as he is acting in what he (and he alone) considers is best for the country. The Congress cannot review any decision made by the president. He is above the law. The imperial presidency.
The impeachment trial of Donald Trump started last week. The House managers presented a very thorough case. Now it is the time for the defenders of the president to speak. Fair enough.
So, what should they say? Well, let’s look at what the House has presented and see how they can respond.
The House case focuses first on the withholding of aid to Ukraine and the withholding of a meeting in the Oval Office with the president of the Ukraine. Both are important to the Ukraine for what should be obvious reasons. Ukraine is partially occupied and is at war with Putin’s Russia. Not to belabor the point but again. Ukraine is partially occupied and at war with Putin’s Russia.
So, the Ukraine desperately needs military help. Which the Congress and the president have given them.They also just as desperately need Putin to understand that the US stands with Ukraine against his illegal occupation and aggression. So, both the military and political aid are essential.
It is a fact that the Department of Defense was ready to start to distribute the military aid to Ukraine on June 18, 2019. From the DOD website:
The DOD does not release any military aid unless a thorough review has been done to make sure the country is meeting the requirements for fighting corruption, insuring human rights, etc.
So, for the president’s Defense Team. The first point they need to address is why the military aid was withheld. What information came to light between June 18 and the hold on the aid? There may be legitimate reasons for withholding aid, if so, what were they? And why was the very process for withholding aid taken out of the usual channels and handed over to a political appointee, rather than a career official?
Along the same lines, the defense may argue that the president can unilaterally withhold aid for any reason. In fact, the aid was held up 9 different times, with no explanation. However, the Government Accounting Office relayed a decision that what Trump did was break the law. A law that requires him to notify Congress with reasons for any hold up in aid:
“In the summer of 2019, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) withheld from obligation funds appropriated to the Department of Defense (DOD) for security assistance to Ukraine. In order to withhold the funds, OMB issued a series of nine apportionment schedules with footnotes that made all unobligated balances unavailable for obligation. Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA). The withholding was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA….”
So, the president or his staff broke the law. Period. His defense team needs to explain that and justify the hold on military aid. Why did the president think it was essential to break the law? Perhaps he had good reason.Legal reasons. What were they? And why was Congress never notified?
Furthermore, since aid was eventually released they need to answer another question. What happened to make the president change his mind and lift the hold? What new evidence emerged? Did he discover it was illegal or was there a change in Ukraine? What specific reason was there for all of a sudden releasing most of the aid?
The second charge on impeachment brought by the House managers was the obstruction of Congress. Now, it is pretty obvious that Congress was obstructed since the president refused to provide and documents or witnesses to help in the investigation. The question is, was that obstruction legal?
On Saturday the president’s team argued that the entire impeachment proceeding was illegal. So, since the proceeding was illegal they had no requirement to cooperate. Of course, this argument does have a major hole.
The position presupposes that the executive branch alone can decide for the House of Representatives what it can and cannot investigate. In other words, although the Constitution gives the sole power of impeachment to the House, the executive branch can overrule that power. The position falls flat on two levels. First, it disregards the specific language of the Constitution.
Article 1, Section 2: The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
Of course it makes no sense legally or logically for the object of an impeachment or investigation to have the power to end an impeachment or investigation.
Along the same lines the president’s defense claimed that the House violated their own rules, so therefore the very impeachment itself is illegal. Yet, here we are. The Senate, controlled by Mitch McConnell, recognized the legality of impeachment. The Supreme Court, along with Chief Justice Roberts, recognizes the legality of the impeachment. We are having a trial precisely because the House acted legally. So, once again we have the president, alone, making claims that no other branch of government agrees with.
Now, it is legal for the president to, in certain circumstances, invoke “executive privilege”. However, invoking that privilege means the president has to make a case, before a court, that the documents or testimony being withheld is being done for legitimate national security concerns. So far, Mr Trump has made no such claim.
His lawyers, however, have taken the position that he can claim executive privilege without making a formal claim of executive privilege. In their words, he can hide anything he wants for any reason he wants. In other words, the chief executive is supreme and cannot be investigated or impeached. Trump has taken this position publicly:
“…Trump was giving a speech at a Turning Point USA conference, where he predictably veered off into a tirade about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and how, as president, Trump could’ve stopped it.
“I have an Article 2 where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” Trump said. “But I don’t even talk about that because they did a report and there was no obstruction.”…”
“…During a pre-taped one-on-one interview with ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos, Trump argued that “a lot of great lawyers” agree that Article 2 of the Constitution means that the President can’t obstruct justice.
“So a president can’t obstruct justice?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“A president can run the country,” Trump responded. “And that’s what happened, George. I run the country and I run it well.”
“When the President does it, it’s not illegal?” Stephanopoulos asked….”
“I’m just saying a president under Article 2–it’s very strong, read it,” Trump said. “Do you have Article 2? Read it.”
(To be clear, executive privilege is not mentioned in the Constitution)
So, the president’s defense team will have to find a justification that he has refused to cooperate with Congress. While they may rightly point to very specific instances where other president’s have attempted (successfully or unsuccessfully) to invoke “executive privilege”, they will have to justify an unbridled power of the president to hide all his actions and documents.
Now, will the defense team address these issues raised by the House managers? Will they respond to the facts and evidence in the charges? Will they talk about how the Democrats have hated Trump from day one? Will they talk about Adam Schiff? Will they talk about the Mueller Report being a hoax? Will they claim the entire procedure is a “witch hunt”? Or will they talk about how corrupt the Biden’s are? Benghazi Redux?
In other words, will they address the points the Hose manager have made, or will they deflect ? Isn’t the answer obvious?
The McConnell Supreme Court just issued a very fascinating ruling about fetuses. They upheld a portion of an Indiana law, signed into law by the most holy Pence, that requires the proper burial or cremation of a fetus that has been aborted. Also, if the woman has a miscarriage.
Now, in Indiana about 99% of abortions are performed within the first 13 weeks. At that point the fetus is less than 4 inches long. The size of a nice string bean. Some of these fetuses will be much shorter, of course. And the fetus weighs in at a rather hefty…well…less than 2 ounces. Less than half of a quarter pounder at McDonald’s.
According to my understanding of the Indiana law this pea pod, tiny bundle of cells is now going to be given full burial rights. For purposes of disposal, this little package will be required to be buried or cremated. It’s the LAW.
This raises some interesting issues.
How many burials or cremations will this entail? Well, the last year I could find stats showed that abortions are up in Indiana. Close to 8,000 each year. That means 8,000 new burials. That comes to about 154 burials per week. That is a lot of cemetery plots. Tiny plots, to be sure, but still…..
Who decides whether the fetus is buried or cremated? Does the law take into account the wishes of the fetus? Some fetuses may object (if they could talk) to being buried. They might prefer cremation. Others, of a more fundamentalist persuasion, might demand to be buried. Otherwise, how could they rise from the dead in glory in the “Last Days” when all of god’s children meet with him ?
Which brings us to another issue. Baptism. Can the fetus be baptized? If so, into which religion? You might say the religion of the mother. But, obviously the mother is a slut who just killed her own fetus. Certainly she is going to hell. Why should she be able to decide? Perhaps a committee of religious leaders in the community could decide? A lottery system? Eenie-meenie-minee -mo? Or, heaven forbid, what if the woman is a Jew??!!!
Miscarriages are another issue. I mean, a woman who aborts her fetus is obviously evil. But what about the woman who miscarries? Well, now, in addition to the sorrow and pain she feels, she will be required to decide how to dispose of her potential offspring. additional pain and suffering. As well she should. After all, she should not have miscarried in the first place. “Sorry lady, but you should not have had that diet Coke. It’s your own fault”. Lesson learned.
Interestingly enough, the law allows for mass incineration of fetuses. The health clinic can scoop a bunch of them together and burn the little guys all at once. This hardly seems appropriate. Mass graves. Mass incinerations. Hmmmmm. What does this remind you of? Consider. Some fetuses may have names (Yes, the woman is asked whether or not she wants to name the fetus) , Some will be Jews! Some will be Muslims. Some will be Catholics. Some will be unnamed. Others will be named Roy, or Donald, Jr. or Maria Germania Cynthia Honoraria Pence. All thrown together helter skelter into one mass cremation. Awful.
What about the fetuses of our military? What if the father, for example, was in the Army or Navy? What if the father was a general? In that case, I would suggest that the 3 inch bundle of cells requires a military burial with full military honors. I am shocked that somehow the highly intelligent members of the Indiana legislature forgot to include this in the bill. An unfortunate oversight. (Or perhaps an Obama plot?)
Let us imagine. The drummers are drumming. An honor guard carries a tiny coffin draped in a tiny American flag (made in China). The bugles blow. A tiny hole is quickly dug in the cemetery. As the tiny coffin is lowered into the tiny hole the uniformed honor guard shoots into the air. A 21 condom salute.
I am not much for conspiracy theories. Most have no basis in evidence. So as a liberal I have always told myself that fascism cannot happen here. We have a long history of the rule of law and democratic traditions. There is no way the US could fall into a dictatorship. I firmly believed that.
Students of history tell us that democracies have fallen in the past. Taken over by “strong men”. Men who demanded allegiance to themselves above allegiance to the law. Who demand loyalty oaths. Who tell the “Big Lie”. Rome , in ancient times, lost the Republic to a dictatorship. It was not that long ago that the democracies of Germany and Italy fell to demagogues. Under Gorbachev, Russia was on its way to becoming a democracy, then Putin and the oligarchs took over. We are not immune.
What has been the great strength of the US has been the separation of powers. Checks and balances. The executive, legislative and judicial branches each checking the power of the others. The delicate balance of power.
So, when Richard Nixon violated the law the Supreme Court and Congress stepped in and said “No”. You cannot do that. You will not do that. We are loyal to the Constitution and the nation, not to you personally. We do not confuse the Presidency with the person currently holding that role. So Nixon was forced to resign or be impeached.
We have fewer checks and balances today. The Republican Party has , over the last 40 years, slowly morphed into a cult. It is now lead by Mr Trump. It is a personality cult whose loyalty is to him personally, not to the rule of law. The Republican Congress sits by while Mr Trump obstructs an investigation into his financial dealings and connections with Russia.
Mr Trump acts like a mobster. Mr Trump attacks citizens who are Muslims. Mr Trump attacks the FBI. Mr Trump attacks the Department of Justice. Mr Trump makes wild and unsubstantiated claims on a daily basis. He attacks the free press. He attacks individual members of Congress . And the Republicans in Congress acquiesce. Worse than that, the leadership of the GOP colludes and enables this man.
There is only a check and balance system if the legislative branch decides to honor and follow the law. This Republican Congress refused to do so. They had become lapdogs content in the lap of the “Great leader”. Now that the Democrats control the House we are finally seeing some accountability. But only some.
The Republican Senate has decided that supporting this person who is undermining the basic institutions of democracy is the thing to do. The man is above the law.
Mr Trump knows he will not face any consequences from this Senate. He can fire the special prosecutor and this Senate will do nothing. Or worse. They will follow and encourage him. He has signed their tax bill for the wealthy. He has given them 2 Supreme Court members who will, in the future, support corporate interests over individual rights. They will now return the favor.
The president wanted a wall between the US and Mexico. When the Congress refused to fund that wall, he simply said he would ignore Congress and do it anyway. The Republican majority leader in the Senate has supported the president. He has said, in effect, that the president does not have any check on him from Congress.
Any student of history that understands the rise of Mussolini, Hitler or Putin can see what happens when power gets concentrated in the hands of the executive branch. With no checks . Germany was a democracy in 1932. By 1936 it was a dictatorship. One man did not “take over”. He had plenty of help when he attacked the press (lugenpresse) and the elected assembly.
So, it can happen here. Don’t doubt it.
Liberals need to stop lying to themselves about the far right that has taken over the Republican Party. They do not hold to the same core beliefs as the founding fathers.
Liberals have been far too passive in dealing with the right wing in this country. We have been victims of our own belief in the American values and basic honesty and decency. Liberals understand that the conservatives, especially since 1980, simply do not believe in the US Constitution. They do not believe in the Bill of Rights. They do not believe in democracy. Liberals must understand that and act accordingly.
The Republican party has ceased being the party of small business and fiscal responsibility. It has become a tool of corporations and a radical right wing. Worse, it has morphed into a personality cult devoted to the “fearless leader”. Dangerous. Only the utter destruction of that party will open the door for real change.
One of the lies liberals tell themselves is that we always move forward toward a better, more tolerant society. Two steps forward, one step backward. But always moving forward in the end.
Yet, the facts speak otherwise. For example, average worker incomes, adjusted for inflation, have barely budged since the 1960s. And for lower wage workers the increases have sometimes not kept pace with inflation. In the 1970s tuition costs were approximately 7% of the median male income. By 2015 the tuition costs were 25% of the median male income.
What does this mean? A higher education is the path for the working poor to a better life. Always has been. That is how we train teachers, scientists, engineers, etc. As tuition rises, relative to income, it does two things. First, it prevents many children of the working poor to achieve a higher education and therefore better paying careers. Second, for those who do borrow (the only way to finance the education) they start their adult life burdened with massive debt. The opposite of progress.
Take the healthcare system. Since the time of FDR we have known we need some permanent health care solution for everyone. FDR could not get it done, though he tried. Along came Medicare and Medicaid. Slow progress that guaranteed the poorest of the poor and the elderly would have access to basic care. But not the younger working poor. They were left out. Until the ACA. Which is now under attack and being cut slowly but surely. The opposite of progress.
We can look at the end of the EPA, the Department of Education, the National Parks, the Consumer Protection Agency. All being gutted . All under the control of people who want to turn back the clock on basic human progress. Major steps backward.
We see the same thing with the unrelenting attacks on women’s basic health services. The Supreme Court rules that a company (Hobby Lobby) can deny basic coverage to their employees if that coverage somehow does not fit the beliefs of the owners of the company. The mentality that the business owner owns not only your labor, but your health care. The Supreme Court majority, which calls itself “strict constructionists” finds in the Constitution the right of a corporation to have “religious beliefs”. And to impose those beliefs on its workers. Of course, there is not a single mention of the term “corporation” in the Constitution. The Bill of Rights, envisioned to protect individual citizens from the government, is turned on its head and used to deprive citizens of rights.
We see that new voter suppression techniques are being used to deny some people the franchise. In 2019 the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives proposed their first bill, HR 1. That bill would guarantee people the right to vote and provide resources for that purpose. The conservative in charge of the Senate refused to bring it to a vote . He called it a “power grab” by the Democrats. The American people voting, according to the far right, is a liberal “power grab”. Progress is a power grab. Democracy is a “power grab”.
Liberals need to learn that progress is not automatic or inevitable. The reactionary forces are strong and currently hold power. And they are stripping the safeguards that took so long to develop. In the end, they want to privatize and deregulate everything.
Liberals tend to believe in fairness. We should treat others fairly. Justice systems should be fair and honest. Above all, elections should be fair. So the real will of the people can be expressed. So the voice of the people can be reflected in the legal system. If systems are fair, we believe, all will eventually be right with the world. And we expect other Americans to feel the same way.
We are wrong. As the last 25 years have demonstrated, the right wing sees “fairness” as an obsolete concept. No longer part of our political life. The goal of the right wing is simple. Win. Win any election by any means necessary. Win by lying. Win by cheating. Win by suppressing votes. Win. Win. Win.
Of course, this is hardly new in American politics. It is seen most clearly in the election process. After all, the Jim Crow voting laws south of the Mason-Dixon line effectively disenfranchised American blacks for almost one hundred years. The Voting Rights Act passed in the 1960s finally (in theory) gave blacks the same voting rights as white Americans. Basic fairness. A liberal ideal.
Then, the right wing majority on the US Supreme Court, in Shelby County vs. Holder, gutted the Voting Rights Act. It was no longer needed. The ultra-right wing argued that no longer did certain states intentionally seek to disenfranchise black voters. So the Court ruled. Basic fairness had been achieved. What happened next?
Two HOURS. Two HOURS after the decision was released by the SCOTUS the Texas Attorney General (now Governor) Abbott announced that a new voter ID law would go into effect immediately. Alabama followed suit. Within two months North Carolina had instituted new voter restrictions. So did Mississippi. In Florida, GOP governor Rick Scott ordered the purge from voter rolls (which failed). But Florida did move a voting center (used primarily by blacks) to a new site without access to public transportation. South Carolina instituted new voter restrictions.
Jim Crow has returned. Fairness? Not an issue. Win by suppressing Democratic votes. Win by undermining the very concept of fair elections.
Of course, even before the gutting of voting rights there were ways to prevent fair elections. Nothing was more clear than in the 2000 Florida election. When the governor, who happened to be the brother of a candidate for president hired a company to purge the voting rolls. Over half of those purged were African-Americans. Who voted overwhelmingly for Democrats. And when the private company itself pointed out that , based on the state requirements, it would be purging thousands of voters who were legally entitled to vote, Governor Jeb Bush’s staff told the company to purge them anyway. We do not know how many of these thousands of black Americans showed up at the polls and were turned away with no recourse. The election was handed to George Bush when the SCOTUS refused to allow Florida to recount its votes. It worked.
In North Carolina there was an organized effort, which succeeded, in voter fraud. A GOP candidate actually hired a man who had a history of illegal activities. He paid relatives and others to collect absentee ballots and mark those ballots with the GOP candidate. Even after this corruption was revealed and exposed, the North Carolina GOP insists that the fraudulent election be upheld. Voter fraud is okay.
Beyond voting, liberals tend to believe the lie that the vast majority of our fellow citizens believe in fairness in the justice system. But the fact is that our justice system is not designed to produce “fair” results. It is designed to “win” cases. Whether for the state (prosecution) or the individual (defense). Justice is not relevant. It is no accident that those who can afford to hire the best lawyers win. We see a case in Texas where a defense attorney SLEEPS during the trial, but the appeals court lets a conviction stand claiming the defendant still had “adequate representation”. (Decision finally overturned by the Fifth Circuit) .Those who can afford to stand up to the state with a competent legal team need not worry about justice.
Public defenders, with very limited budgets, seldom prevail. So, we see young adults without resources convicted of petty crimes and given criminal records while white collar criminals steal millions and walk away. Or make “restitution” and are forgiven. So, this lack of fairness has created a new money making industry, private prisons. A funneling of poor , overwhelmingly minority, Americans from the poorest neighborhoods into the private prisons, all for profit.
Fairness, a liberal lie. Liberals still cling to the ideal, which is fine. But we need to accept the fact that in government, in voting rights and in the court system “fairness” is a commodity in short supply. We also need to accept the fact that many of our fellow citizens think this is just fine. They do not see “fairness” as a legitimate goal of government. Win at any cost is their mantra.
Lies Liberals Tell (Confessions of a Born-Again Liberal)
Copyright 2017,2018,2019 Joseph Urban
Part 1 of a 7 part series.
The elevation of Donald Trump to the position of most powerful human being on the planet Earth should make all of us re-examine our most basic beliefs about mankind. Of course, Donald Trump did not win the majority of votes. (Latest count shows him losing by almost 3,000,000 votes) So his philosophy and beliefs do not reflect the values of most Americans. Nevertheless, he was able to garner enough votes in enough states to win the electoral college majority. So, while he is a “minority” president, the mere fact that he was even close in the popular vote this election gives us pause and causes us to reconsider where we stand as liberals. Furthermore, the fact that he exercises immense power with little or no regard to the desires of the majority must make us more than a little worried.
As a lifelong liberal I have had a number of core beliefs challenged by this development. Perhaps liberals have been lying to themselves about America and what it stands for. Perhaps we need to dispose of illusions and lies we have been telling ourselves. In this short 7 part series I will discuss some of the beliefs, which have turned out to be lies, that liberals have held for years. Things we thought were true. We have been dead wrong.
I am not suggesting that we abandon these ideas and beliefs. But we need to accept the reality that significant minorities of our population do not hold the same core beliefs that we do. We can no longer take for granted that most Americans share these core values and beliefs. In order to go forward in a practical way, we need to accept the reality that we have been, in large part, lying to ourselves about a significant number of citizens of The United States.
Lies are organized into the following categories.
Inevitability of Progress
It Can’t Happen Here
Lie # 1: We are all in this together in society.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish thisConstitution for the United States of America.”
Those are the first words of the US Constitution. “We”. Not “I”. We . We will establish a government that supports society. Remember that after the Revolutionary War the 13 colonies formed a union. The Articles of Confederation knit together the colonies in a loose union based on the interests of individual states. The United States , in the sense that we know it today, was not an easy sell. (See the Federalist Papers for a thorough discussion of the issues).
To form a more perfect union. The founding fathers discovered that a loose union would not last. It would either break apart into sectionalism or completely dissolve as each state demanded sovereignty and independence. The result would be a weakened group of states. Easy prey for European nations seeking dominance. The weakness would be an invitation to chaos and interference by foreign powers.
The solution was to develop a document that guaranteed some unity among the diverse parts of states along the eastern seaboard. The Preamble to the Constitution establishes the philosophical framework for that unity. An attempt to pull together the north and south, the rural and urban, the large states and small ones, into a cohesive society. Only by uniting the divergent elements into a new society could unity be secured.
So, we have, at the very beginnings of the United States, the fundamental understanding that “society” was the key to success. And how do we attempt to build this new society? By establishing the purposes of government. Clearly, these purposes were to unite , not divide. The divisions were already there. Clear. The need was to superimpose on those divisions a system that would lead to national unity.
Establishing justice. A liberal idea, that justice is the key to any acceptance of a new system. People should be treated fairly and justly. For society to function people need to accept that they will be treated fairly. To do otherwise leads to dissolution or revolution. After all, the Revolutionary War was fought because a large segment of the population felt that British tax laws were unjust.
Promote the general welfare. The idea that government should be active, not passive, in developing plans and assistance to benefit society. Government has been established to facilitate what is good for people and society in general. So we see in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution a laundry list of practical steps Congress should take to promote the general welfare. Among them are such things as coining money and regulating trade. Building roads for the public. Establishing post offices. Doing whatever is needed to promote science and “useful arts” by securing patent rights. To raise money and pay debts as needed for the military and general welfare.
We see an active national government. One that does not sit back. One that actively pursues, through taxation and other legal remedies, the general welfare of society. A government involved in people’s lives in order to help make those lives better and fuller. A government, by its very nature, designed to benefit its citizens individually and collectively .
This basic concept, that the US Constitution is established, in part, to provide for a just and good society, was at the core of the Constitution. It has also been a core belief of liberalism. Because, the fact is, the designers of the Constitution were extremely liberal for their time. While they were still acting in ways that we would consider reactionary today, but that the overall sense of the document is certainly liberal at its core. A new type of government. Designed to assist the people and develop society, as opposed to the old way of thinking that government should serve the elites at the expense of the peasantry.
Don’t all Americans agree with this fundamental truth? This is the first liberal lie we tell ourselves.
American liberals tend to accept the idea that the proper role of government is to assist and support society. That includes society’s weakest members as well as the most fortunate ones.
However, the emergence of the “new right” under Ronald Reagan and continuing through the Bushes and Trump puts that belief to the test. John F Kennedy, in his inaugural address said: …”Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country…” (society). Ronald Reagan replied in his first inaugural address: “…government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem”.
Reagan and those who follow his philosophy turn the Preamble to the US Constitution on its head. Government, they believe, is not supposed to “promote the general welfare” Quite the opposite. Government should promote the elites and let society devolve into a dog-eat-dog world. Greed is good. Regulation is evil. Society exists only as a battleground of self-interest and self-promotion, not as a cooperative venture where all of us have a stake and where all people can participate fully. Some must lose big time so others can win big time.
Liberals need to recognize that the seductive “me-first” ideology has taken hold of a very significant portion of people in America. They have been propagandized into accepting the notion, which is at odds with the Preamble, that they should reject idea of the “common good”. That the “common good” is seen as equivalent to communism or Marxism. This distorted notion of the role of government has taken hold and forms the basis for the “new right”. They incorrectly assume that any “public good” must inevitably lead to some kind of communistic equality. They are blind to the Constitutional mandate to promote the general welfare.
So, liberals need to recognize that millions of Americans no longer hold to the founding fathers’ core belief. Of course, to liberals the contradiction is glaring.
For example, the states that consistently vote for the “less government”, new right, largely Republican candidates are the very states that benefit most from the federal treasury. These “welfare states” take much more from the federal government than they send to Washington, DC in taxes. While they condescendingly refer to others as “takers” they themselves have not paid their own way in years, if ever.
Nevertheless, liberals need to deal with the reality. Millions of Americans no longer support a key tenet of the Constitution, that government has a significant role in maintaining a just society and is responsible for promoting a good society.
Last year at this time I made my New Year’s predictions for 2018. As is the current custom, I will grade myself on how well I did.
I predicted that the Philadelphia Eagles would score more points than the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. (Keep in mind that 12 teams had a shot at the SB when the prediction was made). I thought the refs would give the game to NE anyway, and I was wrong on that. Nevertheless, I give myself 100 points for my prediction,
I predicted that the Cleveland Browns would be thrown out of the league. The Browns are still in the league and did quite well this year. So, since I predicted they would still be a football team I am giving myself 75 points for that one.
I predicted that Mueller would be accused on a crime as a way to try to derail the Trump crimes. Well, a site called “Newspunch” has reported that there is a SECRET indictment against Mueller. We can’t see it because it is secret, but it shows he is a criminal!!! So, I give myself 100 points on that one. I also predicted that Trump would fire Mueller. I give myself 50 points on that one because if he wanted to he could have.
I predicted people would die of boredom watching baseball. The World Series was a 4-1 yawner. My sources tell me that over 145 people dies of “unknown causes”during the series. I give myself 50 points .
I was wrong about FEMA and Puerto Rico. I thought by now the island would have electric power. Instead, we discovered that FEMA had actually shipped all emergency materials OUT of Puerto Rico two weeks before the hurricane hit. One way to keep resources safe!! I give myself 37 points for this one for underestimating the lack of preparedness by FEMA and the corruption.
Thought Scott Pruitt would make a fool of himself denying global warming. (OK, that was easy). I didn’t think he would be caught in a corruption scandal, like Price, etc. So, I ony get 6 points for the obvious.
I predicted the pope would be caught denying the existence of god. I missed on that one. But he did condemn sexual deviance by his priests and bishops. A step in the right direction. So , I give the pope 10 points .
I predicted that Zinke of the Interior Department, whose job it is to protect our national parks, would sell off national parks. He had suggested at least 27 national monuments be taken off the monument list. He also proposed a 13% budget cut in maintenance for our public parks. Is he still in office or has he also resigned due to corruption? I can’t keep up. 100 points for me.
I also predicted that Congress would be virtually useless in 2018 as Trump would simply ignore them. And they would acquiesce. I give myself 1000 points on that one.
So, it was a mixed bag. However, since I am grading myself I have to say I am the BEST prognosticator ever. Without doubt. And I will do even better next year. I know more than all the generals.
As soon as the Democrats whupped Donald Trump in the midterms he immediately fired Jeff Sessions, his Attorney General.
Jeff Sessions was lockstep in implementing all of Trump’s policies. He refused to act on any voter suppression cases. He refused to enforce the Voting Rights Act. He refused to enforce environmental laws. A Trumpster all the way.
Jeff Sessions was the first US Senator to endorse Trump. He was the first Senator to wear that goofy hat. Like Trump, he has a long history of racial discrimination. Birds of a feather.
BUT, following the required law, Sessions had to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe. Because he, himself, had met with Russians and later lied about it. This made Trump mad. Not the meeting part. Not the lying part. The recusal part.
So, another in a long line of Trump sycophants is thrown under the bus. Or out the window of Trump Tower. Into the Trump fecal pond. So be it.
Now, Trump has appointed a new acting Attorney General (emphasis on “acting”). A Fox news guy who has long held that the Supreme Court is not allowed to interfere with the president. That the president is above the law.
OK. So he is a Trump stooge. What else is new?
Well, according to Trump this guy is a great man. People in the White House say he is a man who Trump has met with a number of times. A man highly respected. They get along real good. Or, do they ? Uh…wait a minute.
Well, Trump, who just appointed this totally unqualified weight lifter to become the HIGHEST attorney in the land NOW claims he doesn’t even know the guy.
“Who are you? Do I know you? Wanna be Attorney General? Okey dokey, you got the job. Gotta run. ”
He just appointed this complete stranger to the leadership of the Department of Justice.
According to the NY Times ..the “FAILING” NY Times….
“Mr. Whitaker, who now oversees the investigation, has visited the Oval Office several times and is said to have an easy chemistry with the president, according to people familiar with the relationship.
“I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he left Washington for a weekend trip to Paris. “Matt Whitaker is a very highly respected man.””
Appointing someone he does not even know. Hmmm. If it were true it just might be a step in the right direction.
In 2016 the folks who voted for Donald Trump got what they wanted. Donald Trump. The Republican party took control of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the White House and the Supreme Court.
Since the election Mr Trump and the Republican party have been able to name 2 new justices to the Supreme Court. These justices will help determine the laws for the next 30 years. They will likely overturn a woman’s right to choose. They will likely continue to support voter suppression laws. As promised.
Since the election Mr Trump and the Republican Party have passed a $1,500,000,000,000 tax cut, with $1,200,000,000,000 of that going to the top 1%. As promised.
Since the election Mr Trump and the Republican Party have done much to gut the Affordable Care Act and cut spending on social programs. They have gutted environmental protections. Sold public land to gas and oil and timber leases for corporate profit. Built the pipeline. Added billions to the military. As promised.
Since the election Mr Trump and the Republican Party have dropped out of the Global Warming agreements, dropped out of the US-Asian trade agreements, imposed tariffs on China and Europe and in general done everything possible to destroy international treaties and cooperation. As promised.
So, why are they so mad? Why are they so unhappy? Why are the Trump supporters still chanting “Lock Her Up”? Why are they frightened all the time? Why do they fear 5 year old Honduran girls? Why so much hate? Why so much whining and complaining?
They wanted a conman, a xenophobe and a racist. They got it. They wanted a political party that suppressed the votes of minorities and that redefined American as “white”, not “diverse”. They got it. They wanted a political party that put profits ahead of people. They got it.
So why the whining? The Republican Party and Donald Trump have had complete control of the political process for 2 years and have accomplished almost everything they wanted. So, why the whining?
There is nothing they cannot make a law about. So, why the whining?
Never in US history have so many “winners” turned into so many “whiners”.
It would be interesting to find out why the folks who won the last election are so miserable.
Brett Kavanaugh is a man of many faces. Many lives. Many lies. Many reincarnations.
There was the Brett Kavanaugh who demanded the Starr inquiry go after Bill Clinton’s sex life. He wanted every lurid detail made public. Nothing should be out of bounds. The people had the right to know.
There was the Brett Kavanaugh who worked in the Republican Party in the hard fought, controversial 2000 presidential election. He was a state’s rights conservative. He believed in the power and laws of the state governments. Then helped Mr Bush in his court case that ended the election without a recount of the Florida votes. Even though, BY FLORIDA LAW, a recount was mandated. Disregarding the laws of the state of Florida. So much for “state’s rights”.
There was the Brett Kavanaugh who was subsequently rewarded, by placing him on the White House staff. He vetted and advised the president on all judicial appointments. He was Mr Bush’s conservative aide. He was central to the decision making process. Did he advise on the Iraq invasion? On torture? On the stolen Democratic documents? He won’t say. We don’t know. The Senate is not allowed to know. Why? Because 90% of his written work has been withheld from the public and from the Senate.
There was the Brett Kavanaugh who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Calm. Intelligent. Respectful. Politely evading answers to even even the most basic questions. Cool Hand Brett. A man who, by his calm temperament, demonstrated the fair mindedness expected of a jurist. A serious student of the law. No time for foolishness. A man for the ages.
And then Dr Ford happened.
She described how a young Brett Kavanaugh and a buddy tried to rape her when she was a 15 year old girl. And laughed at her. Others came forward to talk about his drunkenness and how he behaved when he had too many beers. How he became belligerent when drunk. Mean, Aggressive.
Then another Brett Kavanaugh showed up. Angry. Emotionally unbalanced. Distraught. Accusatory. Sarcastic. Snarky. Belligerent. Mean. Aggressive.
The mask was off. The real Brett Kavanaugh emerged. A man who believed, in all his heart, that it was his birthright to be appointed to the Supreme Court. A man who answered simple, direct questions with angry, hostile sarcasm. A man whose temperament demonstrated not the calmness of a judge, but the arrogance and nastiness of a political hack. A man of character whose character showed through loud and clear, but especially loud.
So, now we are left with a further investigation by the FBI . Maybe something new will be discovered, maybe not. In either case, we have seen the real Brett Kavanaugh beneath the mask. And it ain’t a pretty sight.
But perhaps we should all take a deep breath, stop, and remember these words written in a memo at a different time and place concerning a different political/sexual scandal.
“He has lied to his aides.”
“He has lied to the American people. He has tried to disgrace you” — meaning Mr. Starr — “and this office with a sustained propaganda campaign that would make Nixon blush.”
“It may not be our job to impose sanctions on him, but it is our job to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear — piece by painful piece,”
“Aren’t we failing to fulfill our duty to the American people if we willingly ‘conspire’ with the president in an effort to conceal the true nature of his acts?”
Perhaps we should heed the words of the author while we contemplate the fate of Brett Kavanaugh. After all, those are the words of Brett Kavanaugh in one of his previous lives, as a member of Ken Starr’s prosecution team.
As Mr Kavanaugh said to the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. “What goes around comes around”.
Two events coincided this weekend for me. One was the accusations and explanations regarding Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his possible sexual predatory behavior when he was a young man. The other was my 50th high school reunion.
First, Mr Kavanaugh. He has been accused of attempted rape when he was drunk and in high school. The accuser will be heard next week in the Senate committee hearing. He has denied any untoward behavior. In his defense a former Republican Congressional candidate named Gina Sosa came to his defense. I guess.
“I mean, we’re talking about a 15-year-old girl, which I respect. You know, I’m a woman. I respect,” Sosa told CNN. “But we’re talking about a 17-year-old boy in high school with testosterone running high. Tell me, what boy hasn’t done this in high school? Please, I would like to know.”
That got me thinking about my old high school buddies. As I said, the 50 year reunion just took place and I had not seen most of these guys in, well, 50 years. Like Brett Kavanaugh, I went to an all male Catholic High School. My class size was about 100, so we got to know each other fairly well. Now, my memory is not the greatest but I do not recall attempting to rape anyone.
As I looked around the hall at my 50th reunion I saw men who had traversed a wide variety of life paths. Ph.Ds. Scientists. Entrepreneurs. Teachers. Musicians. A whole lot of successful, fulfilled lives. Of course, I remember us all as teenagers. Goofy. Smart. Athletic. Funny. Serious. Mentally undeveloped. Full of potential.
As I looked around the room I could not imagine any of us at the age of 17. Or 27. Or 57. Any of us at any age attempting to rape a girl. Jim? Ed? Jack? Tim? Tom? Dan? Dave? Nope. Not a rapist in the group. Were we the “oddballs” of America? Unsuited to the title of “typical teenage boy”? Should we be embarrassed by our lack of real manhood? According to Gina Sosa we were far out of the norm. I hope not. I think not.
Which leads me to another point. In the attempt to “prove” that Brett Kavanaugh did not attempt to rape this girl, he has produced a calendar. A calendar he kept as a 17 year old boy. This piece of evidence demonstrates beyond a doubt that this young man never attempted to rape anyone. While I personally think keeping a calendar of your activities at 17 is a bit odd. So be it. What is even odder is keeping that calendar for 30 years. So be it. But, to his credit, Brett nowhere mentions that he raped anyone. A careful check of all entries and no “Attempted rape tonight” showed up anywhere. Case closed.
This line of thought lead me to investigate myself. Sure enough, in the barn in an old cardboard box covered with bat guano I found my own old high school calendar. After all, what boy would be without such a record. Just as Mr Kavanaugh is able to prove his innocence by his words, I have included some of my own entries below. Like the good judge, I am allowed to pick and choose what the people will see.
October 12. Went to party. Stood around for 3 hours. Ate cake. Went home. Read Playboy. Going to confession tomorrow.
November 7. Worked on homecoming float. Gina S . wore a tight skirt. She almost talked to me. Stayed up half the night. Going to confession tomorrow.
December 3. Asked Gina S. for a date. She said yes. Going to see a movie tomorrow. Can’t wait. Stayed up half the night.
December 4. Got to first base with Gina S. Well, almost. Was in the batter’s box and got “hit by pitch”. Still. She said she would go out with me again. Yippeee. Going to confession tomorrow.
December 13. Out on a date with Gina S. Got to first base!!!! Then, big mistake. Tried to get to 2nd base and was picked off the bag. Thrown out of the game early. Told me she would call me if she wanted to see me again.
April 1. Gina S called!!!! I got excited. Then she said “April Fool”. Still, just having her call made me think of her. Going to confession tomorrow.
May 20. Got together with 8 of my buddies and gang raped a 12 year old virgin. Now we are real men!!! Gina S. called and said she now considers me “normal”. Wants to go steady!!
All I can say is: Boys will be boys. And the boys I went to school with became men. Perhaps Gina Sosa needs to hang out with a better quality of “boy”.
I have not blogged in awhile because I have been preparing for my job interview. I am seeking a permanent position, with a guaranteed life long appointment. This job should come with good benefits and be completely independent of any other authority. I don’t do well with bosses.
As fate would have it, just such a plumb job came open this year. It has something to do with the government. It is an opening on something called a “SCOTUS”. A SCOTUS, as I best understand it, is a bunch of people who decide what rights you and I have. They have this job for life. Can’t be fired.
So, I said to myself, “Sounds good. Short hours. And I have opinions. So, what the hell”.
Well, the interview with some guy named Grassley went like this.
Grassley: So, Mr Urban, you want to be on the Supreme Court.
Me: The Supre…oh, wow…so that is what SCOTUS stands for. Who would have guessed. ..Oh, yessir, I do.
Grassley: And your qualifications are ?
Me: Well, I have opinions. Good opinions. Thoughtful opinions.
Grassley: Do you have a resume? Or any written materials?
Me: Oh, of course. I have an extensive resume. 10 pages long. And I have been authoring a blog for years. Many years. Hundreds of blog posts.
Grassley: OK. So, can you give me this information?
ME; Well, I can give you one page of my 10 page resume. The other 9 pages you don’t need to see. I will give you the one page that I think is best for you to consider. Forget the other 9. Not important. Only 1 is important. I keep the other 9 under the title of “confidential”.
Grassley: Oh. I see. Well. If you say they are confidential then who am I to pry. After all, this job only lasts a lifetime. And it only entails you making decisions that will affect the lives of millions of people for the next…oh…maybe 50 years or so. So, I guess 1 page out of your 10 page resume will be fine. Now, what else do you have?
Me: Well, I have a blog. I have been writing it since 2011 or 2012. So, I have a whole lot of ideas. My philosophy of government is pretty much laid out over the course of these years.
Grassley: Great. That will be helpful. So, can you provide me with this blog?
Me: Certainly. Although, to be fair, some of it is not so good. So, I have labeled some of it “Top Secret”. Not that I am hiding anything, just a matter of privacy. What I will do is hand pick 10% of my blog posts and send them to you. That should give you a pretty good idea of where I stand. You don’t need to read everything I write, it might distort.
Grassley: Well, what if I look at all of them and decide what is important and what is not? Would that be ok? I mean, we do need to know your entire thoughtful philosophy, not just part of it.
Me: Nope. That does not work for me. I’ll decide what to share with you and what not to share. Then you can make your decision on this lifetime appointment. After all, it’s my blog. You are lucky I am sharing anything with you.
Grassley: Is see, Mr Urban. So, you refuse to hand over 90% of your resume. And you refuse to hand over 90% of the documents outlining and describing your political philosophy. And you want a lifetime appointment to the SCOTUS, on which will decide the fate of millions of people. Is that right?
Me: You got it, dude.
Grassley: OK. Thanks for coming in. We’ll be in touch
Oddly, they never called me back. Kind of pisses me off because they gave the same deal I wanted to this guy Kavanaugh.
There is a very strange argument that is made by politicians, the NRA gun manufacturing lobby and some others concerning the 2nd Amendment and the rights entailed therein. The argument goes like this:
The Second Amendment guarantees any person’s right to own any kind of weapon.
They take the 2nd Amendment and parse it out, emphasizing some of the words and ignoring others. Kind of like when Betsy asks me to take out the garbage. Me? Take out? OK , Let’s order a pizza.
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
They kind of skip the first 13 words and then start reading. Speed reading? Skimming for the general idea? Hmmmm.
The obvious intention of the founding fathers was that, in the 18th century, there would be times when the local government would need a call to arms. Maybe the injuns were coming or the Brits had decided to try to retake the village. Or perhaps the Canadians were on the march attempting to impose universal health care on our children and widows.
Hence the first 13 words. A well-regulated militia. Pretty clear. Well…regulated …militia.
Some folks, however, ignore those words. They don’t like them. The 13 words not only imply a strict government control over arms, they specify it. We may need a local militia, so you should keep a gun handy. That does not mean you can have a gun for any other reason.
Of course, if the founding fathers INTENDED that everyone should have access to a gun for any reason they had no need for those 13 words. They could have kept it much simpler, as in the 1st Amendment. Short and sweet.
So the first argument supporting the notion that anyone can have any kind of weapon for any purpose is easily shot down and understood by anyone with a modicum or more of cognitive ability.
Of course, because the Constitution is interpreted by the Supreme Court, it really does not matter what the founders were thinking. The Supreme Court decides what the words mean, not the founders.
And here we see an interesting phenomena. The conservative justices who CLAIM to be “strict constructionists” have actually changed the meaning of the 2nd Amendment. Now, I don’t mind the Court trying to keep up with modern times. I think the Supreme Court should do so. But I do find the hypocrisy of the conservatives on the Court somewhat amusing.
These same justices who claim to interpret the Constituion based on the “original” document and words of the founders tend to let this one slip by. The “originalists” suddenly found, after more than 200 years , that the founders didn’t realy mean “militia” when they wrote “militia”. The majority opinion in the Heller decision goes through more contortions than a Chinese acrobat trying to justify that one. But, they had the votes. So be it.
The Heller decision, giving all of us the individual right to own a gun states, in part:
“Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
So, the founders were simply wrong when they wrote “well-regulatedmilitia“. So much for the “strict constructionist” viewpoint.
But that’s ok. Everyone now has an individual right to own a gun. We all agree because the Supreme Court says so.
Which brings us to a second argument made by the NRA gun manufactuting industry and their employees in Congress. It goes like this.
Since I have the right to a gun, that means I have the right to ANY gun. And that means I can carry any gun anywhere I want. Therefore, no state or national government can make any laws restricting my right to own my gun or where I can wander around with it. Any government that does that is trying to take away my gun.
The obvious fallacy of that position is clear. If you want to think about it. It would mean that the only unlimited right granted to citizens by the government is the right to have a gun. All other rights have associated responsibilities and limits, but not my right to a gun. It places the 2nd Amendment in a different category than every other right.
Of course, that argument is easily refuted. Just look at the 1st Amendment. We have the right to free speech. It’s right there, in black and white. But that right is not unlimited. We have libel laws which restrain speech. We have regulations as to what words can be used on non-cable tv stations. We have slander laws. We have laws against threatening to kill others, especially political leaders. Try telling a joke about having a bomb in your backpack when you are boarding a plane and you will see how quickly your “free speech” is dealt with.
The same is true of freedom of religion. You have the freedom to worship in the church or mosque or synagogue or basement of your choice. You can pray to anything you want to pray to. Some Native American churches are even allowed to void anti-drug laws because they have a longstanding use of peyote in their rituals. But if you are an Aztec and believe in human sacrifice, that is a no-no. A fundamentalist Mormon may believe he can have numerous child wives (and some do) but that is illegal. You can believe it is your right and religious duty as the “father” of the house to beat your kids and wife. But that is not tolerated. Limitations.
So, every right has legitimate, common sense restrictions. Even in the Heller case, the most conservative of the justices, Justice Scalia, pointed out that this right is not unlimited. Specifically stating, in his majority opinion, that schools and government buildings are places where restictions may be logically imposed. Also, certain categories of people, like felons, could be legally restriced from owning guns. Further, he stated that the government has the ability to restrict certain kinds of firearms, like military weapons, as well.
So, the idea that every person has an unlimited right to any type of gun he wants does not pass muster. Even the most conservative member of the Court, Justice Scalia, recognized that, while you have an individual right to a weapon, that right is not without proper government restrictions.
In essence, the most radical arguments of the NRA gun manufacturing lobby and the extremists goes down the toilet. The only question that remains is: What are reasonable restrictions?
Lately there has been much ado about the Nunes “top secret” memo which proves that the FBI is corrupt. Some claim that Nunes, who worked on the Trump transition team, was selective in his use of evidence. Like he left stuff out and kind of only used a few facts. So, the Dems wanted to release their own memo. But Nunes, who runs the Intelligence Committee, said: NO WAY!!! Only MY memo counts. You lose!
In the spirit of transparency I am releasing my own memo which outlines the rights we have in the Bill of Rights. This is top secret, so please do not share this with the Democrats.
Please note, I am using ONLY THE ACTUAL words of the Bill of Rights. These words are not transposed or altered in any way. They are in the exact order in which they were written. The “founding fathers” wrote these words, so they are to blame. Their lack of patriotism shows through. So don’t blame me, I’m just the messenger.
Amendment 1: Congress shall make…law…abridging the freedom of speech…of the press…the right of people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government….
Amendment 2: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall…be infringed.
Amendment 3: …Soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner….
Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects…shall…be violated, and no Warrants shall issue….
Amendment 5: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime…any person…shall be compelled …to be a witness against himself…private property taken…without just compensation.
Amendment 6: In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy … the crime….
Amendment 7: In suits at common law…no fact… shall be… examined in any Court of the United States….
Amendment 8: Excessive bail shall…be required…excessive fines imposed…cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment 9: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall …be construed to deny or disparage others….
Amendment 10: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,… prohibited… to the States… to the people.
And, as a bonus,
Article 15: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall… be denied or abridged … by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
It is pretty clear by my memo that the founding fathers HATED freedom and were intent on taking away our rights. After all, memos don’t lie!!!
This is the time of year when we think about the new year and what it will bring. My new year predictions for 2018. While a couple might be a little off, I remain confident that my overall predictions will hold true.
The Cleveland Browns football team will be allowed to leave the NFL and play against selected college teams. While they do not fair well against Southeastern Virginia Disability Institute and the Outer Waco Texas Girls Ballet School the season is not a total loss. They will end up with a 1-11 record, having eked out a 3-0 victory over the Northern Idaho School for the Blind.
Robert Mueller’s third cousin on his mother’s side, 12 year old Cynthia Woggles, will be investigated by a Congressional Committee headed by Trent Gowdy. The investigation, which will cost $ 7,000,000 and the calling of 98 witnesses, all of whom are commentators on Fox and Friends, will discover that Woggles voted for Hillary Clinton in her 6th grade mock election in 2016. (Not to be confused with the national mock election held the same year) Mr Trump will use this evidence of bias to fire the Republican Mueller. In his place Mr Trump will appoint Roy Moore to take over the investigation. Moore immediatley calls Woggles for a play date.
Major League baseball will announce that after a study of fan injuries at 6 ballparks they have discovers 14 fans who had died during the game. At first the cause of the deaths was a mystery, since none of these fans were hit by foul balls or bats. Medical examiners confirm that these deaths can be attributed to a cerebral shutdown of the inner brain, caused by intense boredom.
The US will recognize the following new capitals. Scotland. Former capital: Edinburgh. New capital: Trump International Golf Links. China. Former capital: Beijing, Forbidden City. New capital: Shanghai, Ivanka Shoe Factory. Iran. Former capital: Tehran. New capital: Jersusalem. USA. Former capital: Washington, DC. New capital: Mar-A-Lago, Florida. Congress passes a law concuring.
FEMA will announce, sometime in June, that they have devised a plan to bring power back to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has not had full electric power resumed since Hurricane Maria in September, 2017. Despite the fact that the FEMA response was the “best response ever” to a catastrophe (a close second being the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) . The new plan calls for running an extension cord from Merida, Mexico to the island to bring power back on line to the millions of foreigners living in Puerto Rico. As long as Mexico agrees to pay for the cord.
The 1st Annual Scott Pruitt “Global Warming is a Hoax” seminar takes place in a yacht named “The Golden Dollar” off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina in July. Guest speakers include climate experts Sean Hannity, Clint Eastwood’s empty chair and the entire Duck Dynasty family. The conference is cut short when a family of polar bears swims past searching for ice.
In the Vatican, Pope Francis is caught on mike saying that he thinks “this god stuff is a bunch of BS”. Nevertheless, he speaks out against war, violence, disease, global warming and hatred. He calls on all government leaders of the world to join in peace and harmony. No one calls back.When asked what common people should do to solve these problems he answers: “I tell you, I’m all outta ideas. Reality sucks so you might as well pray to a fantasy. Gets ME through the day.”
The New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, 17-14, on February 4 in a thriller over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have 7 TDs called back by the replay officials in NY, who are nowhere near the actual location of the game in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Days later it is discovered that the league officials in NY had mistakenly been watching the replays of the Bournemouth vs. Stoke City English Premier League soccer match of February 3, in which no one scored. As usual.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announces the closing of all National Parks, except for Mount Rushmore. All parks will be sold to the Koch Brothers at a deep discount and the proceeds, which are tax deductible, will be spent renovating Mount Rushmore. The faces of Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington , Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln will be sandblasted away to make room for giant head of Donald Trump, surrounded by his three wives. The monument will be renamed: Best Monument Ever. Congress concurs.
On a strict liberal vs. conservative vote the Supreme Court approves Executive Order 5,678 on the topic of voting rights. Since the court had previously ruled , under Citizens United, that money equals speech, they extend that ruling to include voting. Under the new ruling “money equals voting”, as well. Based on the principle of “one dollar equals one vote” the 2018 election will be determined by a new voting method. Every citizen must bring in their tax returns to show their gross income from wages and investments. Each dollar will count as one vote.
North Korean leader, professional golfer and all around bozo Kim Jung Un announces a new building plan. He has signed an agreement with Trump University to open up a “Kim-Donald School For Learning Stuff” in Pyongyang. The school will focus on business related seminars including: How to Get Stuff For Free; 12 Ways to Evict “Those People”; Tax Evasion 101: Avoiding Those Nasty Import Fees; and, Bankruptcy, The Real Estate Developers Best Friend. Eric Trump attends the ribbon cutting ceremony which is a disaster as none of the Korean made scissors are sharp enough to cut the paper ribbon. Eric calls the “Kim-Donald “school the “best university ever” and announces at the same time that the US will begin selling nuclear technology to Kim as a gesture of good will.
Finally. Congress votes itself a 50% pay raise for a “job well done”. The legislative branch passed a total of three bills. They were: 1. “The Amazing Trump is the Best President Ever” bill awarding the Trump Medal of MAGA to the best person in America. This year’s recipient? Donald Trump. 2. “The FBI Traitor” law. Which labels all members of the FBI, former and current, official “enemies of the people” and subject to immediate permanent detention and prosecution for doing “bad stuff”. Mueller is the first to be perp walked. 3. “Congressional Vacation Act” which allows Congress to take a vacation for a period including January 2 through December 30, with pay and expenses for fact finding travel. Mr Trump signed all three bills and praised Congress for their services… which will no longer be necessary.
When I was little we had an old lady living with us. We called her “Busia” (boo-shah). She had been born in Poland and came to the USA in 1913 by boat, two small kids in tow. In steerage. She was meeting her husband, who was already in the USA working in the mines.
When I knew her she was already pretty old. She didn’t speak English because she had had a stroke. It also left her right arm partially paralyzed so the time I accidentally slammed the car door on her she didn’t feel a thing. Small favors.
Her husband, who I never met, was long dead. Her only son went to war against the Nazis. He was shot down and killed over Germany. She had a flag. The US government had sent her a flag.
She cheated at cards. And when you tried to call her on it she could not (or pretended she could not) understand what you were saying. Hopeless. But she made the best potato pancakes I ever have had. Been trying to duplicate them for 50 years. Haven’t succeeded.
Who was this old lady? For a long time I thought she was a close family member with a “bone fide” relationship. For a long time I treated as though she was a member of the family.
The other day I found out I was wrong. The USA’s new, improved “travel ban ” from a number of countries has gone into effect. No longer can anyone emigrate to the USA. The only exceptions are people from these countries who are close family members. Who have a “bona fide” relationship to a citizen or legal immigrant. I think that is not such a bad idea.
So, who is included as a “close family member”? Parents, spouses, siblings, fiances and children.
And who is specifically EXCLUDED from the category of “close family member”? Who cannot claim a close family relationship. Who is, for purposes of sponsoring immigration, a “stranger”.
This may surprise some of you whose children have had children. Among those not in the category of “close family member” are “grandparents”. Grandma and grandpa are not “close family members” Fiances are. But not Gramps.
Which brings me back to Busia. Busia was my mother’s mother. Who lived with us off and on for many years. She was my grandmother. Who , at the time, I THOUGHT was a fairly close relative of mine. Not so. My mother’s mother was something else. What was she?
(Special guest article by Consuela von Hauftmann, Donald Trump’s longtime nanny)
My little Donnie has always had trouble thanking people for their help. He simply believes he gets what he deserves by right. Divine Right. I have TRIED to get him to write thank you notes, but it is impossible to get him off Twitter. So, as usual, I will send the thank you notes for him. He is just too busy ! So, here goes. This year’s thank you notes to those who made him president of the USA.
To: Rupert Murdoch, Fox Entertainment
Rupey. Thank you so much. For starting an entertainment network devoted 24/7 to shouting out that government is bad. The constant “liberals are evil”, “government is bad”, “facts are silly” message has taken root. Because of you millions of Americans no longer think for themselves and no longer even try to evaluate information. Thank you so much for helping make facts and evidence irrelevant in the political process. Without you my little Donnie would never have had any shot at the nomination.
To: Fred “Daddy” Trump
Although you are no longer with us and Donnie never thanked you I know that you are the one who made him what he is. Thank you for the $15,000,000 “loan” that Donnie never paid back. With that tiny bit of seed money Donnie built a great brand. He showed others what they could do with just a small bit of help! And your insider contacts with NY Mayors Carey and Koch allowed Donnie to get special treatment from the city that allowed him fantastic tax breaks and not too much “oversight” when he used your money to develop “his” properties. Your financial support also helped the local government “ignore” Donnie’s connections with the mob “fixer” Roy Cohn. It takes a village to build a real estate development. Although Donnie would never thank you, I do.
To: The 5 activist members of the Supreme Court
It only took 5 of you, but you got the job done. Thanks so much for 2 decisions. Even though you are highly principled and believe strongly that the SCOTUS should not “make the law” by overturning Congress, at least in two cases you put aside that principle to”make the law”. Kudos and thanks.
In the Citizens United case you overturned the law and allowed all kinds of money to influence US elections by coming in through the back door. Now we have PACs and 501(c)4 organizations which can raise money anonymously and spend it in nasty attack ads which need have no basis in fact. And the best part? No one needs to take responsibility. As a result at least $17,000,000 was spent by foreign held companies to elect the POTUS in 2016. (Well, that was the REPORTED amount…who really knows). And millions more were raised anonymously right here in the US by either citizens or foreigners. All legal. You have made US elections a truly international contest where companies and various leaders from all over the world can now help elect a US president.
In the Shelby County v Holder case you generously overturned the Voting Rights Act, another law passed by Congress. This law for years has made sure that voters in selected states were protected from Jim Crow style voter suppression. Because of your judicial activism you have allowed many states to immediately reimpose Jim Crow style voter restrictions, aimed specifically at voters likely to vote for Democrats.Within hours of announcing your decision some states imposed new voting restrictions. Thanks for your judicial activism! You helped suppress the Democratic vote.
To: The Republican “moderates”
Republican rank and file voters gave my Donnie less than 45% of the vote in the primaries. Why? Because they thought he was crude, vulgar, crass, ignorant, unqualified, a bully, a pussy grabber and an overall idiot. They thought he was uniquely unqualified to be the leader of the USA. But when push came to shove, you came through.
Millions of Republicans who call themselves “conservative” or “moderate” hobbled off to the polls and cast their voted for my Donnie. They did not let their judgement interfere with “party loyalty”. Even though the saner members of the GOP refused to accept Donnie, you came through and put him in the White House. You helped us make the White House WHITE again! Thank you.
To: Vladimir, Julian and the 9 Benghazi committees
Thank you all. By simply keeping the idea that “emails” are somehow “criminal” you accomplished what Donnie could never do. You were able to make a public servant who has devoted her life to children and good government seem like some evil, corrupt politician. By “leaking” innocuous emails and pretending the very idea of “leaking” implies criminal acts you were able to destroy the reputation of a woman who has been the most transparent candidate in history. You were able to convince many voters that there “must be something” wrong, even though no evidence supported that conclusion. Innuendo and gossip worked. Donnie could not have done it without you!
To: Jill Stein and the Green Party
In the end it was your help that put my Donnie in the White House. While he will never admit it, he could not have done it without you! Thanks so much. Just as Ralph Nader and his 97,000 votes in Florida kept Al Gore out of the White House and put GW Bush in, so your votes did the same for Donnie.
By refusing to throw your support to the “lesser of two evils”, Hillary Clinton, you managed to give the election to my Donnie! Thank you for sticking to your guns and not supporting the liberal candidate. You certainly showed her who was boss! You demanded “purity” and you got it. My pure Donnie!
In Pennsylvania my Donnie won by 44,292 votes. Thank you Jill for your vote total of 49, 941. If those liberals had voted for Hillary my Donnie would have lost the state. And in Wisconsin my Donnie won by only 22,871 votes. Thank you for siphoning off 30, 934 possible liberal votes and help give Donnie the state! Of course, I also thank you for your work in Michigan. Out of over 4,000,000 votes cast my Donnie won by just 10,704! Thank you Jill for your 51,463 votes, more than enough to have turned the state to Hillary.
So, thanks to the Green Party votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan my Donnie will be president. Thank you for standing on your principles and refusing to vote for the liberal who was not “pure” enough.
To: Rudy and Chris
A special thank you. You stood by my Donnie. You supported him through it all. Rudy even got the help of the FBI involved at the last minute. Sorry that Donnie can’t come through on the jobs he promised you. You lose. No cabinet posts for you. That is just the way he is !
Tonight is supposed to be the third debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. A debate between 2 people who want to take on the job of most powerful and influential human being on the face of the Earth for the next 4 years.
I am still waiting for the first debate.
So far, all we have heard about is sex , lies and emails. Insults. Smirking. Sniffling. Name calling. Promises of prison. Just a bad reality TV show. Not a debate. A spectacle encouraged by an unprepared press. Seeking ratings, not truth.
When is the first debate? Where is the moderator who will ignore sex. Ignore emails. Ignore polls. And just ask substantive questions. And then DEMAND substantive answers.
There was some of that in the first two shows, but hardly enough to learn anything about what the candidates actually would do. This is especially true for Donald Trump. A man who specializes in used-car-salesman assurances and generalities rather than hard facts.
So, let’s have a moderator who asks , then demands straight answers. And one who factchecks and calls out the candidates when they are simply wrong about the facts.
Try these on for size:
What would you do to try to bring jobs back to the US? What kinds of jobs would you try to help create? What is the proper role of the federal government is helping create those jobs?
What is your overall tax policy. What should the rates be for various income levels? Do those rates generate the needed revenues to pay for the increases in spending you are calling for?
What are some areas in which you would hope to increase spending and decrease spending? By how much? Why are you focusing on those areas?
In terms of foreign affairs, what should the US role be in the Middle East? In regards to Russia? In regards to nuclear proliferation? In regards to the Palestinian – Israeli problem? In regards to the refugee situation in Syria?
What is your approach to illegal immigration? What, specifically do you see as the problem and what, specifically do you see as a solution?
As you know the President can do nothing without a Congress that is willing to compromise. What makes you think you can get Congress to work with you? To what extent are you willing to compromise to reach agreements?
What is the proper role of the Supreme Court? What kind of justices would you appoint? To what extent would you depend on the American Bar Association and other legal groups for vetting? Is there a litmus test for your judges? What is it?
So, will the moderator ask questions and hold the candidates to answers? Will he push them for specifics on policy?
Chris Wallace of Fox News. Fair and Balanced? Will he direct the candidates to policy and substance or focus on trivialities?
The United States of America has, in its long history, faced a number of issues of massive importance. The debate over the very founding of the nation and the separation of powers. The issue of slavery, debated by Lincoln and Douglas and finally determined by war. The issue of Jim Crow. The woman’s suffrage movement. Civil Rights.Various conflicts between the federal and state governments.
I remember George Wallace standing on the steps of the University of Alabama, pledging to deny entrance to young Americans of color. The federal government nationalized the Alabama National Guard troops to move the governor aside. Momentous.
Now, we add to the list, the battle over bathrooms.
The greatest nation on Earth. The nation of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Reagan is facing another Constitutional Crisis.
To pee, or not to pee. That is the question. Shall the people of North Carolina be granted the freedom to pee in the toilet of their choice? Or should the iron hand of government compel them to pee in approved lavatories? Shall freedom be taken away and driven into the night or shall all men, and women, and transgender men or women, be allowed to urinate and defecate in the restroom most fitting to them? Each to his or her own?
Can the great state of North Carolina demand a birth certificate as proof of one’s right to pee in a specific place? Should the federal government join in and demand that all men, or women, or transgender men or women, have the right to eliminate in the facility of their choice? That, my friends, is the question facing America.
The intellectual titans of the USA, that beacon of freedom, are now engaged in a debate over the very hearts and souls of toilet bowls. To flush or not to flush? Put the seat down or leave it up?
Can you think of anything more humiliating or embarrassing than a government, whether local, state or federal, becoming enmeshed in where one goes to the bathroom? I can’t.
I know, sometimes major universal truths and rights are determined by small incidents. Does it matter where you sit on the bus? Does it matter that a school closes it’s doors to you because of your skin color? Does it matter whether or not a baker has to bake a cake? I suppose it does.
At the same time, not everything needs to be a court case. Not every principle needs to be fought over . Sometimes we can let stuff slide. Even stuff that is wrong. Maybe a little perspective?
We are not talking about getting an education. Or a job. Or the right to vote. Or the right to dine in any public establishment. Someone just needs to use the toilet. Does the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina and the United States of America really need to get involved? Is this an issue worthy of a Constitutional crisis? Do we need a “law”?
Do we have more pressing problems?
I am reminded of the first time I traveled to Guatemala. Early in the morning I was watching some man walking past a side street in Antigua. He must have already had his morning coffee. He stopped, glanced around (he didn’t see me), and proceeded to urinate against the side of a building. Zipped up. Walked on.
Evidently the ancient Romans did not know Antonin Scalia.
I have no problem writing ill of Scalia. He’s dead. He won’t read this. And if he did I could care less.
Scalia was not, as his supporters like to claim, the voice of “conservatism” on the court. More likely, he qualifies as the voice of the “reactionaries”. Those who want to return to an imaginary past. He was not, as his supporters claim, a “strict constructionist” devoted to the Constitution. He was, in essence, a “reactionary” devoted to the Articles of Confederation.
You may recall that the Articles of Confederation were the first plan of government after the revolution. It gave massive power to individual states and little power to the central government. It guaranteed no rights nationwide. It was an abysmal failure. It was because the “states rights” concept failed so miserably that the Constitution was formed.
Scalia was more devoted to the Articles than to the Constitution. Some examples.
In 2000, in Bush v Gore. Scalia sided with the 5-4 majority is overturning the Florida Supreme Court.That Florida court had ruled that it was necessary to recount the Florida voted because under Florida Constitution and law a vote so close had to be recounted. The Florida Supreme Court wanted to get it right.
Scalia, siding with the majority, supported the very odd decision that counting all the votes fairly would impact negatively on the Bush campaign. The vote count was stopped. The right of the state of Florida to follow its own election laws was overturned by the SCOTUS. Justice Scalia had a son who was in the lawfirm directly involved in the Bush appeal to the SCOTUS, which should have been a reason for his recusal.
Scalia opposed the right of citizens to health care under the ACA. He used a rather foolish broccoli analogy to suggest that the federal government had no right to implement any law requiring people to..well..do anything. (Actually, Scalia was the prime target of a 2012 blog post on this matter…. https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/scalia-and-the-broccoli-conundrum/)
Scalia opposed the rights of gays to marry. He took the position that only the individual states can decide on whether or not an adult can marry. State’s rights, ignoring the amendments guaranteeing equal protection under the laws.
Perhaps the strangest case ever for someone who claimed to be a “strict constructionist” was the Citizens United fiasco. Overturning federal law to regulate money in politics. The decision basically created a new class of citizens, called “corporations”. According to Scalia, corporations had first amendment rights to spend money on candidates. No where in the Constitution is there any indication that the founding fathers sought to make corporations “persons” in the same sense as you and I are persons. this was a complete contortion of the reason for the Bill of Rights in the first place. To protect INDIVIDUALS from governmental power. Another example of Scalia claiming to be a “strict constructionist” and then ignoring the Constitution.
And, adding to this fantasy. A corporation called Hobby Lobby was granted “religious” reasons for not providing adequate health care to its employees. A total perversion of the meaning of the First Amendment. And Scalia was there. Leading the charge.
Scalia consistently refused to support individual rights. He opposed a woman’s right to abortion He supported overturning the Voting Rights Act. He supported the idea that individual states could deny classes of citizens certain rights. He was the most reactionary justice since WW2, perhaps since the Civil War. There is no doubt that he would have been very comfortable voting with the majority in the Dred Scott case. After all, slavery was a “state’s rights” issue.
So. I speak ill of the dead. But, in fairness to me, I spoke ill of him when he was alive. His death does not make his decisions any more palatable. The fact that he has passed from political power can only be seen as a positive step for individual rights. His loss is not one to mourn.
Kim: Welcome to the Kim Davis Employment Agency. May we, with the help of the Good Lord, find you a job?
Joe: Yes. I see you have an opening for a Social Studies teaching position. I would like to apply.
Kim: Good. Do you agree with all the terms of employment?
Joe: Well. Not really.I am supposed to teach about Buddhism and Islam but I don’ want to do that.
Kim: No problem. It is your right not to teach about heathens.
Joe: Also. I find it against my beliefs to show up for work on Mondays or Thursdays. Is that okay?
Kim: No problem. You should not have to compromise your beliefs.
Joe: But I still get full pay, right?
Kim: Of course, no one should be denied pay because of their beliefs.
Joe: A minor problem, perhaps. I am not a certified teacher. I never went to college because all colleges are full of atheists and communists. It was against my firmly held beliefs to associate with intellectuals.
Kim: No problem. We cannot punish you for your desire to remain ignorant and narrow. It is your constitutional right under the 2nd Amendment. So, do you want the job?
Joe: Let me consider. Full pay. No work on Mondays or Thursdays. No degree needed and teach whatever I want . Praise Jesus. By the way, it is also against my religion to pay employment placement fees.
(Reblogged from Siskil and Egbert’s Movie Reviews.)
A review of “The Three Faces of Reed”, (a remake of “The Three Faces of Eve”) newly released in the NY 23rd Congressional District.
Starring Jason Alexander (George Costanza of the Seinfeld TV series) as the inimitable, playful and sometimes a little off-center Congressman of NY’s 23 Congressional District, Tom Reed.
This film is set almost entirely in the psychiatric offices of an anonymous shrink in the Southern Tier of New York state. The shrink takes the Congressman back in time through hypnosis (since he cannot otherwise remember what he said or to whom he said it). It is a fascinating study of multiple personality disorder, otherwise know as PAU complex (Politics As Usual). Jason Alexander does a wonderful job (an Academy Award nomination is in the works, I do believe) of portraying a politician who is able to assume different personalities almost at will. A man, who is short, balding and stubby but sees himself as tall, rugged and tough.
There is the (in his mind) tall, rugged, no nonsense, strong-jawed Congressman who is wined and dined by ALEC, the Hydrofracking industry and the NRA. He makes it clear to these lobbyists that he is at their beck and call. For example, a scene in which a widow sits outside his office waiting for an appointment to see him about his vote to destroy the ACA.
(Scene:) Widow sitting quietly as secretary gazes into a computer screen. Muffled noises from the inner office slowly become louder and more distinct.
“Yes sir. …..Yes , sir…..Yes , sir……. Whatever you say , sir……. Of course, sir……. Just leave the bill on my desk and I will sponsor it…Yes, sir….Yes, sir….Yes, sir…Oh, no need for that….Well, if you insist…Thank you so much , sir….Yes, sir… ”
Three middle aged men, wearing Armani suits, emerge from the office, glance and sneer at the widow and give each other high fives. “He belongs to us, no doubt about it”. (End of scene)
Then there is the Constitutional scholar whose career as a mortgage broker has made him an expert on the Constitution, foreign affairs and women’s physiology. Another scene from the movie illustrates this Tea Party personality.
(Scene): The Congressman is standing in front of a group of carefully selected “constituents” and delivering one of his most profound and thoughtful speeches. Reed sees himself as 6 foot 5 inches tall and wearing an American flag draped over his shoulder as he peers, steely-eyed, into the carefully selected crowd.
“Founding fathers. 2nd amendment. Safe Act unconstitutional, I don’t care what the courts say. (applause) Obamacare BAD, unconstitutional.(thunderous applause) I don’t care what the courts say. Heroes. We need to do more for our heroes. Our Veterans. (applause and standing ovation) We need to give them better care. We need to stop spending tax dollars on health care.(applause) We need to give our heroes better health care. Stop spending tax dollars on pork. I brought millions of dollars of federal aid to NY. We need to eliminate pork.
I support health care for our females. Stop Planned Parenthood. (standing ovation, thunderous applause, Star Spangled Banner playing in background) No more funding for abortions. Not on my watch. Stop funding services for women. We need better health care for our women. Stop Obamacare. Keep government out of our lives. Make abortion illegal. No more welfare. (applause) Love the unborn. End welfare for children. End birth control. 2nd amendment. No deal with Iran. No nukes for Iran. Nuke Iran. (thunderous applause along with a few “Heehaws”)Founding fathers. OK. Gotta go now”. (End of scene)
Then there is the third personality. The moderate. The sensible Mr Reed who only wants to do what is best for all of us.
(Scene): The Congressman appears at a photo op at the opening of a new gas station.
” I support small business. I love small business. I love America. I support women’s rights. I support sensible government. I support the flag and America. I think we can do better. We need to do better. I support those who support doing better. We can do better if we can only strive to do better. Liberty for all. Let’s do better together. Together we can do better. Is that better? Don’t be scared. I really mean it (wink)” (end of scene).
So, who emerges at the end of the movie when all the personalities are finally joined? Will it be the “you wash my back and I’ll wash yours” politician in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry and the NRA? Will it be the Tea Party crazy who can’t decide if he wants to destroy health care for the poor, scuttle the arms deal with Iran and take away a woman’s right to choose or all of the above? Or will it be the smooth talking, say nothing, do nothing , just get re-elected politician who has no real values or ethics?
We won’t tell you the ending. In the original film it was said that Eve and her personalities were finally joined. But a few years later she again disintegrated back into the multiple state. (Now called DID “Dissociative Identity Disorder”).So, she was never “cured” of her affliction.
What will happen to the Congressman in the end? Will his true personality ever emerge? Stay tuned. This reviewer suspects that there is a very lucrative lobbying career on the horizon at the end of the Hyrdofracking Rainbow for one of those personalities….