Monday, April 12, 2021

The Case For Treason and a Fearsome Chain of Events


Important Announcement:   Between now and the next full posting on this blog, new items will continue to come up.  Rather than wait for the blog's next full posting, they will be added ... with the date they are added shown ... at the tail end of this posting.  Scroll down right now to read the ones already added to this particular posting, if any.  (And see recent prior postings as well.)  Come back and check out what's new on this blog every day!

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The Case for Treason  

John Marshall, Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court from 1801 until 1835

  *   *   *   *

Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution reads as follows: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” It is the only crime important enough to be specifically defined in the Constitution.

There is no question that the insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol on January 6, 2021, were not “adhering” to any enemy of the United States, or “giving them aid or comfort.”  Hence, charging them with treason would depend on whether what they did qualifies as “levying war” against the United States. Either way is an available pathway for accusations of committing acts of treason, clearly separated in the Constitution by the word “or.”  Only the “levying war” definition, however, is applicable to the January 6 insurrectionists.

In researching this, it becomes clear that to qualify as “levying war,” (Article III, Section 3, Clause 1), that act requires an assemblage of men who actually carry out their plans to levy war against the United States.  Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall (in Ex Parte Bollman and Ex Parte Swartwout, 8 U.S. 4 Cranch 75 75 1807 … stemming from the trial for treason of Aaron Burr) points out that planning to do this without actually taking action did not constitute treason but that ‘if war be actually levied, that is, if a body of men be actually assembled for the purpose of effecting by force a treasonable purpose, all those who perform any part, however minute, or however remote from the scene of action, and who are actually leagued in the general conspiracy, are to be considered as traitors.”

The January 6 insurrectionists, an organized body of men, including armed groups, invaded the Capitol by force to prevent the Electoral College vote from becoming official thereby transferring the presidency to the winner. This was not just “planning.”  It was an actual act in which government police defending the Capitol were injured and in at least one instance, killed.  This was a “treasonable purpose” and hence, those who carried it out should be tried for treason and those who “perform any part, however minute, or however remote from the scene of action, and who are actually leagued in the general conspiracy, might also be considered as traitors.” 

Trump, in whose name and interest the insurrectionists were acting, might be considered as having been in league with the “general conspiracy” and might fall into this category.  Senators Cruz and Hawley, however, do not seem to have been “leagued in the general conspiracy” and therefore, unlike Trump, are probably not subject to being included among those accusable of treason.  Certainly though, their encouragement amounted to violation of other statutes.

Careful reading of this part of the Constitution and of the opinion of Chief Justice John Marshall in 1807, as cited and quoted in part above (and which got former Vice President Aaron Burr off the hook) should be done to understand what actually constitute acts of treason.  The Department of Justice should be telling the January 6 insurrectionists and Donald J. Trump that “we’ll be seeing you in court.”

(One might ask about those whose acts against the United States took place during the Civil War. Weren’t they treasonous?  An argument against that might be that they had renounced loyalty to the United States and became citizens of another nation, the Confederate States of America. Hence, a court might rule that the provisions of the Constitution and the opinion of the Supreme Court were not applicable to them.  It’s a fine distinction, but while they were “rebels,” they were not traitors because the nation to which their loyalty was directed was the Confederacy and not the United States. The courts avoided considering this possibility because doing so would risk giving a degree of legitimacy to the Confederacy.  When Confederate President Jefferson Davis was apprehended, the Federal government really didn’t know what to do with him and ultimately released him after a few years in custody. The January 6 insurrectionists, however, professed loyalty to the United States and their acts were clearly treasonous.)

 Could it Happen This Way?

Sooner or later the following will take place.  

(1) Voter repression laws will be passed by many Republican controlled State legislatures.  

(2) The Supreme Court will uphold these laws.  

(3)  The Democrats will finally realize that there will be a sufficient decline in their support because of these laws to give control of both Houses of Congress to the Republicans in 2022.  

(4) The Democrats will rush to admit Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia as States, giving them more power in the Senate and the Electoral College, and to announce plans to expand the Supreme Court.  

(5) Neither will be accomplished in time for the 2022 election so President Biden will turn to Executive Orders as the best way to preserve democracy in America, precipitating a crisis of unknown and unpredictable dimensions.

Joe Biden, Ever the Optimist

Liberal and progressive Americans (most Democrats of today and most  Republicans of the 1860's and early 1870's) underestimate the ignorance and gullibility of the American voter.  Conservatives and reactionaries never do.



Item added on April 14

RoboCalls ....  Am I Serious or Just Angry?

A couple of years ago, an article (Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2019) was posted indicating that only $6,790 Of $208 Million In Robocall fines have been collected by the FCC. The laws against such calls are unenforceable for a variety of reasons such as the criminals disappearing, their never have been in the country to start with or their constant changing of phone access.  Apparently it is easier to apprehend a murderer or a rapist than to catch the criminals behind Robocalls.  The same goes for emails and text messages aimed at scamming the recipient.

I’ve had a few slippery calls over the past few days, one supposedly from my electric company and the other from someone who said the credit card I use on Amazon had been compromised.  (Once I heard their messages I deleted both calls which initially appeared to come from legitimate sources.)  While the Eighth Amendment outlaws cruel or unusual punishment, I think it should be suspended for a limited time and the death penalty imposed on officers of companies sending out such Robocalls and those involved in such calls “live” as well as for criminals carrying out similar scams on the internet.  After a few executions here and assassinations outside of the country where we are unable to extradite the criminals, I think there will be a reduction in such calls.  After a year or so, the Amendment can be reinstated.

Until that is accomplished, the telephone service of everyone reading this, as well as internet service, both of which we pay for, will remain compromised. These criminals are forcing you to limit the use of something for which you pay good money. 

Another way of stopping such messages from contaminating your telephone and internet service might be by making the providers of these services criminally culpable for transmitting them, and subject to the same penalties suggested above, or reducing your bills proportionately based on how many such messages get through to you.  Unfortunately, such solutions would cost a lot of money which would be reflected in increased cost to you and probably not work.  Simply, it would be better, and less expensive, to just execute the criminals when they are identified and convicted.  At least for a year or two.

Item added on April 15

Here's a "My Turn" guest column from today's Palm Beach Post.  I agree with him.  Floriduh offers many things but not quite enough to counteract the vile disease which the State has ... the Republican Party ... and millions of voters too dumb to recognize it for what it is!  

Florida Republicans kill democracy  ...  

"The people be damned."

Jim Carroll 

Jim Carroll was the Democratic candidate for the Florida House in 2020 for District 85, in north and western Palm Beach County.

You’ve heard of death by a thousand cuts. Florida Republicans have inflicted the thousandth cut on democracy in this state. Democracy in Florida is just about dead. The state effectively has a one-party (Republican) regime.

Florida Republicans acquired their overlord status in large part through voter suppression. After the November 2020 election in which many more Democrats than Republicans voted by mail, Republicans had to suppress that. Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley introduced SB 90, which retroactively voids as many as 6 million already-filed 2022 mail-voting sign-ups and bans mail-ballot drop boxes, which were used without incident by 1.5 million Florida voters last year. It’s voter suppression on steroids.

Even Georgia’s vicious new voter-suppression law, doesn’t go as far as SB 90 in suppressing vote-by-mail.

Florida Republicans say the bill is needed to combat voter fraud. The fact there wasn’t any voter fraud in Florida’s November election, out of more than 11 million votes cast, doesn’t matter. When you’re a one-party regime, you can do what you want.

The only election-related fraud actually going on in Florida is the brand practiced by Republicans. In 2020 Republicans attempted to steal three state senate elections by putting up phony candidates to trick voters and siphon off Democratic votes. In one, Republican former state Sen. Frank Artiles put up a fraudulent no-party candidate with the same last name as Democratic incumbent Jose Javier Rodriguez. It worked. They beat Rodriguez by 32 votes.

Over $500,000 in dark money reportedly was spent perpetuating the fraud in these three elections. Two Republicans have been indicted so far.

Republicans aren’t worried about what voters might think. The Republicans’ real constituents aren’t the voters, but Big Sugar, the Koch brothers and the like. These rich allies get them elected every term, regardless.

That’s why, after 65% of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 giving ex-felons the right to vote, Republicans didn’t hesitate to pass legislation essentially nullifying the amendment. They’re now taking the knife to the $15-minimum-wage amendment approved by 60% of the voters in November.

What about the business of the people? The people be damned.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Something YOU Must Read

Important Announcement:   Between now and the next full posting on this blog, new items will continue to come up.  Rather than wait for the blog's next full posting, they will be added ... with the date they are added shown ... at the tail end of this posting.  Scroll down right now to read the ones already added to this particular posting, if any.  (And see recent prior postings as well.)  Come back and check out what's new on this blog every day!

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A link to the following essay appeared on Professor Heather Cox Richardson's "Letters from an American" daily posting on April 4.  Passed on by a follower of her site, it's by Cree Hardegree, an attorney practicing in Georgia, and appeared initially a few days ago on a site found at, with which I was not familiar.  It should be read and re-read and passed on to anyone you know who is interested in saving democracy in the United States.   It points at the surrender of the North to the South in the Compromise of 1877 and questions who actually won the Civil War and continues to influence our country.  It contains a lot of history pertinent to us today. Please read it.


Why We Need the John Lewis Voting Rights Act

Lewis in 2006

Hunting Island sits off the South Carolina coast, twenty miles out from Beaufort. It’s covered with a maritime forest so dense it chokes out the sun, so desolate it intermittently engenders fears of being lost on the narrow sandy trails.
The end of the island is restricted but we easily went around the gates with our bicycles. Just around the curve, the reason for the restricted access was obvious — the road was missing. We biked on across the sand and found another section of a broken-up blacktop road. Then more sand. Large trees were uprooted everywhere; the cabins that had faced the water were empty and abandoned.

Not the result of a hurricane or an earthquake — the sea is simply reclaiming its territory.

It left me with such an odd feeling.

So much wasted effort.

So much desolation.

Such futility.

Back in town, I had the same feeling when we rode around Succession House on ironically-named Craven Street. That’s where the eighteen-hundred’s equivalent of men like Cruz and Hawley and McConnell and Kemp secretly met to plan South Carolina pulling out of the United States and forming a confederacy with other slave-states.

So much wasted effort.

So much desolation.

Such futility.

Five blocks down Craven Street, left on Carteret Street, right on Prince Street is the Smalls House where Robert Smalls was born into slavery.

In 1862, only a hundred years before I was born, Smalls escaped the bonds of slavery in the middle of the Civil War that had been planned just a few blocks from his home.

A year earlier, the Southern traitors had fired the first shots of the Civil War from cannons mounted in the Charleston Harbor, out against the walls of the United States Army’s Fort Sumter located on a barrier island.

The Union Army later laid siege to Charleston Harbor, forming a blockade out in the ocean.

One night Robert Smalls and a crew of slaves were left alone in the harbor on a heavily armed Confederate guard ship while the white officers went into town. Smalls skillfully guided the ship out of the harbor, giving the proper signals as he passed Confederate forts Johnson and Sumter, before lowering the Confederate Flag and replacing it with a white bed sheet his wife had brought along when he stopped to pick up her and other family members.

The Union blockade welcomed the surrendering Confederate ship and congress passed a bill awarding half the value of the ship to Smalls who used the money to purchase his birth home on Prince Street in Beaufort as soon as the war ended.

The 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870 giving black men the right to vote. With the large number of formerly enslaved black men in his district — Charleston had been the slave capital of America — Smalls was elected to Congress in 1874 and served two terms before a trumped-up scandal (for which he was pardoned) caused him to lose in 1878. He returned in 1880 and served three more terms.

But the sensitive white men in the South were feeling persecuted.

Federal oversight was allowing black men to gain power.

The presidential election of 1876 was hotly contested. Democrat Samuel Tilden had won the popular vote and had 184 electoral votes of the needed 185. Republican Rutherford B. Hayes only had 160. South Carolina and Florida and Louisiana controlled 19 electors which had not been awarded because both parties were claiming victory in all three states. A single electoral vote from Oregon was also in question as one elector and been removed and replaced.

The parties were switched back then — Republicans were the enlightened liberals; Democrats were the former Confederates who had fought to preserve slavery and would now do anything to keep the formerly-enslaved people from voting.

The Compromise of 1877 ended the dispute — the racist white-supremacist Democrats in congress known as “Redeemer Democrats” would agree to award the 20 outstanding electors to Republican Hayes, giving him the required 185 electors to become president, if he would agree to implement the racist Redeemer platform: remove federal troops from the occupied-South and end the federal oversight of the South known as “Reconstruction.”

As soon as the federal troops were gone, the Redeemer Democrats — who later became Dixiecrats before becoming today’s Republicans — began instituting voter suppression laws to keep black men from voting. This was their only hope of gaining and retaining power — they couldn’t rely on democracy because in many places in the South, black men outnumbered white men.

These Jim Crow laws passed in the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds enforced segregation, successfully removed most black men from the voter rolls, and decimated the growing black middle-class.

They were enforced all the way up until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In the one-hundred years between the ending of the Civil War in 1865 and the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, more than 5,000 black men were murdered by Southern white supremacists.

As a result of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, former slave-states had to get approval from the Department of Justice before implementing any changes to voter laws.

This worked well until 2013 when the US Supreme Court struck down that provision in the case of Shelby County Alabama vs. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Chief Justice Roberts said the election of President Obama in 2008 proved racism no longer exists in the United States — federal oversight of the voting laws in Southern states was no longer needed.

The racist Redeemer Democrats/Dixiecrats now known as Republicans, went to work immediately passing new laws to make it harder for black people to vote.

After Trump’s 2020 loss and the Democrats’ gain of two senate seats in Georgia, the emboldened racist Republicans passed the most draconian attack on voting rights since the Jim Crow laws of a hundred years ago.

Republicans point to some provisions that could actually expand voting rights, if implemented.

But those are the fruits of a poison tree and must die along with the tree. As Delta belatedly realized, the good provisions its team was able to get written into the final bill, do not in any way mitigate against the fact that the entire bill was based on the Big Lie that was fomented and spread by Trump and supplicant Republicans.

Kemp and the Republicans knew it was all a lie. When Kemp had the power and authority and opportunity to call the legislature back into session in December and rectify whatever “fraud” had occurred, he did nothing. When Republican Georgia senate leader Mike Dugan had the power and authority and opportunity to sign onto a request asking the governor to call the legislature into session, he did nothing.

They did nothing because they full-well knew there was no fraud. They are exactly like the lawyers involved in the 60 lawsuits that went nowhere. Lawyers stood before microphones and lied their asses off to the public. But when they walked into the courtroom, they had to tell the truth because a lie to the court will result in the loss of their license to practice law. They were willing to perpetuate the Big Lie for Trump in public, but not willing to lose their ability to continuing practicing law.

When they would have had to actually show evidence of fraud, Kemp and Dugan choked and refused to call the legislature back into session, completely abandoning Trump. But when the danger of being required to actually present evidence had passed, they resumed the big lie in a contemptuous attempt to justify their draconian voting laws.

If there had been any evidence of fraud, they would have called the legislature back into session.

Instead, they abandoned Trump to save their own asses.

And now — terrified of being primaried for abandoning Trump — they have designed the most black-suppressing bill possible in order to redeem themselves with the white racist Trump-worshiping evangelicals.

Any good the bill would purport to accomplish is completely nullified by the worst provision in the bill — the process that allows the Georgia legislature to remove a local election board and replace it with an appointed administrator.

This is racist to its core; it is the point of the bill — it is aimed squarely at predominantly-black Fulton County, Republicans’ favorite target for race-based claims of “incompetence.”

Delta and Coca-Cola are equally full of shit.

Both have a team of lobbyists that studies each bill. They were not caught by surprise. Their silence and acquiescence as the bill was being passed, followed by their outcry now, is by design — they are trying to have it both ways. They allowed the bill to pass with not a word of objection, in order to please Republicans; now that it is too late to stop it, they feign outcry, in order to please Democrats.

The new John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed the House on March 3, 2021 and is now in the Senate designated as “Senate Bill 1.”

It restores federal over sight of voting laws and will preempt the new laws in Georgia.

If Delta and Coca-Cola are serious, they and other corporations need to exert every possible ounce of pressure on Manchin and others to reform the filibuster and support passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. They need to lead with ~actions~ as the MLB is doing; not just words, spoken too late.

Items added on April 4

A follower of this blog claims I did not make it sufficiently clear that the piece directly above was not written by me, but by Georgia attorney, Cree Hardegree.  I agree with her, but the words are hers.  Okay?

In today's Washington Post,  Catherine Rampell's column suggests that by  refusing to vote for President Biden's programs in Congress, even though they are supported by a vast majority of Americans of both parties, the G.O.P. is walking away from taking credit for any of these program, and leaving full credit for them with the Democrats.  Republicans are terribly afraid that any sign of cooperation with Democrats will bring primary challenges from the Trumpublicans who still believe the "big lies" being spouted by the former president.  You may, or may not, be able to read the article by CLICKING HERE.  (I'm not sure.) 

Too many Republicans still adhere to super-libertarian Grover Norquist's recommendation that "government be drowned in a bathtub" and Ronald Reagan's belief that "government is the problem."  They equate anything government does for the people as "socialism," which few of them understand and if they had the opportunity, would abolish Social Security, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and all of the regulatory agencies which stemmed from the New Deal under Franklin Delano Roosevelt back in the 1930's.

Item added on April 7

Yesterday’s ruling (4/6) by the Senate Parliamentarian that the reconciliation procedure, requiring a simple majority, could be used at least one more time, was good for Democratic programs.

The hitch is that reconciliation only can be used for legislation regarding the budget. This is helpful for costly infrastructure legislation, but not so much for voter reform legislation, like Senate Bill 1 (the John Lewis Voting RightsBill). Perhaps that bill, already passed by the House, could be changed to involve spending money on voter reform, and hence, get it passed with 51 votes rather than 60. This is another tool, along with filibuster reform, for the Democrats to use in passing legislation.

Item added on April 8

Where Do You Look For Answers?

Forget political parties. Concentrate on what, in my opinion, are the “bad” things that have happened in America’s history, regardless of the political party in office.  Some of them include:

  • the development of a great part of the nation’s economy based upon human slavery,
  •  the abandonment of the Reconstruction process to remedy that after he Civil War,
  •  Jim Crow legislation, in both the South and, less formally, in the North,
  • emasculation of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments,
  • anti-labor laws as industrialization grew,
  •  discriminatory immigration laws, aimed particularly at Southern Europeans, Jews and Asians,
  •  reduction of government regulations to protect our environment and that of the planet,
  • moving many “safety net” programs from the Federal Government to the States, without providing necessary resources,
  •  deterioration of the nation’s health care system,
  •  tax laws which favor the very wealthy and large businesses,
  •  encouragement of gun violence by misinterpretation of the Second Amendment,
  •  legislation perpetuating discrimination by sex or gender,
  •  privatization of government functions such as prisons,
  •   toleration of harmful misinformation spread by electronic media, as a     First Amendment right, and
  •   de-emphasis of public schools in favor of private and religious institutions.

 I can go on!

All these “bad” things (at least in my opinion) have one thing in common.  They were carried out at State and federal levels by legislators, by judges, by governors and by presidents, all of whom were elected or appointed in a proper and legal, democratic, manner.  To that extent, these “bad” things reflect what the American people wanted, as made possible by the people they voted to put into office.  In dealing with the challenges the nation faces today, in attempting to return America to the greatness it once had achieved, Americans must pause for some introspection.  What do we really want?  Do they exclude the “bad” things enumerated above … or are enough Americans comfortable enough with some of them to vote for candidates whom they know will ultimately vote to perpetuate them. Look within yourself for answers.

Item Added on April 9

In a recent (Mar. 29) column, the Washington Post's Catherine Rampell said that "The 'swamp' that desperately needs draining isn’t in Washington, D.C. It’s in state capitals around the country, where undemocratic, anti-majoritarian officials are seizing rights from voters and flagrantly thwarting the will of the people."  

I agree ... but what are we to do if these States succeed in repressing the will of the American voter ... and put the country back in the hands of those who acquiesced to our "wannabe" dictator from 2017 to 2020, those who fail to see how the actions of January 6 at the Capitol fit precisely into the Constitution's (Art. 3, Sec. 3) definition of treason.   What do we do then?  (The only alternatives I see are the uncomfortable acts  of admitting Puerto Rico and D.C as States, giving the Democrats four more Senators, and increasing the Supreme Court's size.  Nasty medicine, surely, but how else can we drain the swamp?)  Any ideas?

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Some Historical Perspective for H.R. 1

Important Announcement:   Between now and the next full posting on this blog, new items will continue to come up.  Rather than wait for the blog's next full posting, they will be added ... with the date they are added shown ... at the tail end of this posting.  Scroll down right now to read the ones already added to this particular posting, if any.  (And see recent prior postings as well.)  Come back and check out what's new on this blog every day!

History, Slavery, Three Amendments and H.R.1.

I’ve read a few reports indicating that some conservatives now feel that Fox is not conservative enough for them.  They seem to dislike that Fox does not attack the legitimacy of President Biden and reported his victory in November. They are now turning to Newsmax and OANN (One America News Network). The positions voiced on these two news sources, however, often perpetuate the “big lie” that Trump really won the election and President Biden “stole” the election.  This reinforces those who actually believe these lies. 

These outlets also minimize the severity of some of the acts of insurrection carried out by right wing extremists at the Capitol on January 6. Such seditious acts did not even take place in the nation’s capital after the Civil war, but they did occur in the South in some of the States which were being brought back into the Union with “reconstructionist” governments and where the defenders of slavery, the losers in the Civil War, did not accept them.  It’s still the same battle going on today, but never before had it been brought to the nation’s capital, as it was on January 6 when the flag of those seceding States, the Confederacy, was taken into the Capitol.  That was an abominable act which should be punished.  

Andrew Johnson,
17th President,
was no foe of slavery

The Thirteenth Amendment (Emancipation), the Fourteenth Amendment (Defining citizenship) and the Fifteenth Amendment (Voting rights) were designed to protect the rights of the newly freed Black population after the Civil War.  Since their passage in the late 1860s, the losers in the Civil war have been attempting to bypass them through the loopholes in them which, of necessity, were included to help their passage in Congress and by three fourths of the States.  

Over the years, they have been aided by a President who really favored slavery, a Democratic Party which until 1964, catered to the States of the former Confederacy in order to get their votes in Congress, the withdrawal of troops from the defeated South in 1877 and a usually compliant Supreme Court.  An observer from another planet as the Nineteenth Century came to an end might think that the Confederacy had actually won the Civil War, not the Union, 35 years earlier.

Currently, the passage of H.R. 1 would continue to do the job that these three Amendments were intended to do.  The battle over H.R. 1 in Congress is merely an extension of the struggle to bring Afro-Americans, and other minorities, fully into our society which has been going on since the Civil War.  The legislation just passed by the Georgia legislature and similar legislation pending in other States where the Republicans control State government are simply more attempts to get around these three Amendments.  These legislators are un-American. 

We are living in a historical process which started in 1619 when slavery was brought to these shores and which continues today, as we try to rid the nation of the misery it has caused the enslaved, their descendants and the country.


Item added on April 2

Basketball Jerseys

When I see some college basketball players in the NCAA tournament wearing jerseys with the word “Equality” emblazoned on them, I am reminded of Michael Bellesiles’ 2020 book, “Inventing Equality … Reconstructing the Constitution in the Aftermath of the Civil War” which I just finished.  In it, the author deals with:

·         the lack of equality in our country prior to the Civil War,

·         the failure of the Constitution to live up to the promises of the Declaration of Independence and

·         the efforts to bring about equality after that war through the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, abolishing slavery, defining citizenship and establishing the right to vote.

He goes on to point out how the Supreme Court, in effect, eventually negated these Amendments without objection from a nation which did not seem to mourn the ending of Reconstruction’s promises of equality. While Americans might have been outwardly proud of the patriotic words of these Amendments, they often showed a preference for “inequality” when it affected them personally.  In the courtroom, we are beyond that point today, but too many Americans still prefer a degree, however reduced, of what is still "inequality."

“Equality” should be more than an aim affixed to a basketball jersey.  Passage of H.R. 1 and successful enforcement of its provisions would be steps in the right direction toward “Equality.” We still have a long, long way to go.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Muscle Behind H.R. 1

Important Announcement:   Between now and the next full posting on this blog, new items will continue to come up.  Rather than wait for the blog's next full posting, they will be added ... with the date they are added shown ... at the tail end of this posting.  Scroll down right now to read the ones already added to this particular posting, if any.  (And see recent prior postings as well.)  Come back and check out what's new on this blog every day!


For the People

The “For the People Act” (H.R.1) is a bill in the United States Congress to expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, limit partisan gerrymandering, and create new ethics rules for federal office holders.  

If passed by the Senate (It already passed in the House with a party-line vote), it will counteract the many voter suppression laws being passed by Republican controlled State legislatures.  In Constitutional terms, it would impose a Federal government leash on such reckless State legislation.

Playing Hardball

I see it as
a softball approach to preserving democracy in the face of voter suppression. If it fails in the Senate, I see the Democrats going to a hardball approach which might include the admission of the D. of C. and Puerto Rico into the Union and an expansion of the Supreme Court.

Republicans know and fear that and this just might bring sanity to a few of them, enough to bring an end of the filibuster and at last, start an honest discussion of the issues H.R.1 addresses and also, of the the gross misinterpretation of the Second Amendment as well which, besides being the refuge of those who see the government as an enemy, also opens the door to gun violence as illustrated by our weekly mass killings.


Item added late on March 23

Ten days before the Boulder, Colorado, supermarket shooting, a judge overruled Boulder's ban on assault weapons.  Like Lady Macbeth, there is blood on his hands which cannot be washed off.  He reasoned that cities couldn't institute such bans. The killer's weapon was purchased six days before the shooting. (I don't know if it was purchased in Boulder, but does that really matter?  Weapons are available at gun shows and if against the law, by crossing a State or muicipal borderline.)   

I think we should repeal the Second Amendment and replace it with one which permits licensed weapons for law enforcement, hunting, target shooting and self-protection in one's home or business.  Period.

There is no reason for civilians to have a weapon ready if called to serve in a state "militia" these days.  That was the real intention of the Second Amendment, despite misinterpretations by the SCOTUS. The Amendment's authors feared the Federal government would crack down militarily on those States where slavery was legal. They would have to be prepared to fight back. That finally happened in 1861, when they saw that history was not on their side. That need is gone today.  Putting politics aside, Supreme Court justices should know that, even the late Justice Scalia, who in this instance put politics ahead of history.

Item added on March 24

How Republicans gain control of State legislatures:  They know that if voters cast ballots based on what is in their best interests, they would always lose.  That is because they do not recognize government’s role as being “of, by and for the people.” They view it as pathway to getting re-elected.  And to do this they need money and votes ... which have nothing to do with benefiting “the people.”

To get money, they support legislation favorable to businesses, to real estate developers and to the wealthy and which reduces the tax burdens on these folks and results in generous donations to their campaigns.

To get votes, they support popular positions which override the best interests of the voters.  Two illustrations: First, there are enough people who oppose abortion rights for religious reasons (many Roman Catholics, evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews) who give that issue priority over all other issues.  Secondly, there are enough people who believe laws which limit their access to personal weapons are bad because they feel a gun is better protection than the law provides, despite the gun violence and deaths which accompany the proliferation of guns in our society.

So, even if a Republican candidate really doesn’t give a hoot about the availability of abortion to a woman who wants or needs one and recognizes that the availability of weapons repeatedly causes all too many needless deaths in our country, they will still be strongly anti-abortion and pro-gun.  That will guarantee them re-election by catering to these groups which see no further than one, or both, of these issues.  And that is all that matters.

When HR 1 passes, this year or sometime in the future, protecting the right to vote of millions, a right which Republicans attack on a daily basis, that will be the end of the Republican Party.   Good riddance.

Item added on March 30

It's all very simple. 

The Union won the Civil War. The Confederacy lost the Civil War. Its real reason for rebelling was to preserve slavery and allow its spread. After that war, Reconstruction was to remedy this. It worked until 1877 when it was politically betrayed. We must now resume the validation of the Union victiory in the Civil War, and pick up where we left off in 1877. It is too late to send the troops back in for that purpose (as was done to enforce Brown vs. Board of Education), but the same thing can be accomplished by laws such as HR 1 for which we should fight so that those who died in the Civil War "shall not have died in vain." That's what the 16th President said, and much more. It's all very simple. 

(And there is no role in validating the Union victory for today's Republican Party which is the successor to those who betrayed the Union in 1877, when the troops were withdrawn from the defeated Confederacy. If there is a enemy today, it is not the South. It is the Republican Party.)

Monday, March 15, 2021

A Flaw in Democracy and What a Good Lawyer can do for You

Important Announcement:   Between now and the next full posting on this blog, new items will continue to come up.  Rather than wait for the blog's next full posting, they will be added ... with the date they are added shown ... at the tail end of this posting.  Scroll down right now to read the ones already added to this particular posting, if any.  (And see recent prior postings as well.)  Come back and check out what's new on this blog every day!

Legal Advice

Here's an item I intended to mail in to the Palm Beach Post, but decided against doing so.  They have been ignoring my letters lately.  It pertains to local matters but really is true elsewhere as well.

“Sure, it’s probably against the law, but go ahead and do it anyway. Once it’s done, they’ll come after you but then, it’ll be too late and we can figure out some way of making it legal afterwards. Probably a lot cheaper than fighting it out in court beforehand, because what is done, is done.” That’s the kind of legal advice that results in a big lake being built out in western Boynton for waterskiing and a landmark house being demolished in Delray Beach, not to speak of a permanent resident being allowed to live in a Palm Beach mansion “as an employee,” where such residency was otherwise not allowed as one of the conditions for turning the place into a private club some years ago. Good lawyers know how to break laws with impunity."

A Bit of History

Back in 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act which said that residents of new States coming into the Union could decide by voting whether they wanted to allow slavery or not to allow slavery.  This passed a democratically elected Congress. 

Against the Expansion of Slavery and Finally, Against Slavery

Ultimately, it caused the demise of the Whig Party which was progressive on everything except slavery, about which it was fatally ambiguous, and the birth of the Republican Party leading to the election of Abraham Lincoln six years later ... and the Civil War.

On this key issue, the Republicans were merely against expansion of slavery into new States, not its abolition, but that was enough to prompt secession by the Southern States.  (Those who wanted to abolish slavery entirely were far to the left of the Republicans and were a scorned minority in Congress.)  What we must understand is that all of this took place as the result of actions by democratically elected legislators. 

Today, we have a Republican Party that recognizes that it cannot win elections in a nation where the majority of voters vote for Democrats.  Hence, its efforts on the State level, through democratically elected legislatures and Governors, which it controls in a majority of States, is to suppress voting and get as few people to vote as possible.  That is the only way they can get elected.  But this suppression is done by those elected through democratic processes.  (The gerrymandering which often makes this possible in some States is done by democratically elected State governments.)

The point I want to hammer home is that the actions which led to the Civil War and those engaged in voter suppression today were and are the result of democratically elected governments on the State level.  

Thomas Jefferson, who believed that people would ultimately do the "right" thing, was aware of this flaw in the democratic process and thought education would remedy it.  It has not.  Alexander Hamilton, on the other hand believed that people were likely to do the "wrong" thing and wanted a strong central government, not leaving these decisions to democratically elected State governments.  Well, the Federalists, led by Hamilton, lost out and our flawed democracy survived with the States calling the shots.  It was true in 1854, in 1877, when post-Civil War reconstruction ended, and today as State mandated voter suppression remains the platform of the Republican Party.

American Democracy is a work in progress.

(Republicans, when they have an agenda, have a backward-looking one, viewing the nation as it was 50 to 70 years ago as a goal to recapture.  (MAGA??)  Voters will reject this so that is why voter suppression is such a major G.O.P. program in the States it controls.  An exception to this is a State like Florida, where there are millions of older age retirees to which such "rear view mirror" images still appeal.  They will never change.)


Item Added - March 16, 2021

Republican Quandry

There’s a big disconnect between what Republicans say and what they do.  Senate minority leader McConnell strongly criticized the former president for inciting the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol but did not vote to impeach him.  Senator Wicker supported the American Rescue Plan, providing relief for damage done by the Covid19 pandemic as well as improving the lot of those harmed by it, when he praised its economic benefits but refused to vote to pass it.  

These scoundrels want to have their cake and eat it, and actually believe that Republican voters are ignorant or gullible enough to believe that all Biden is doing is taking credit for things actually achieved by the former president.  Republican voters, especially those who still have immense loyalty to the former president, still favor an agenda, knowingly or not, sympathetic to the wealthy, to business and the white supremacists who attacked the Capitol and which does little or nothing for them.

Despite Republic legislation at the State level to suppress voting which is the only way they can win elections (except in Florida where the voters are so dumb that suppression isn’t even necessary to assure Republican victories), I don’t believe their efforts will be enough for them in 2022.  Because of the benefits of Democratic sponsored programs, the growing popularity of President Biden, the prosecution of the January 6 insurrectionists and the stench which will arise as legal actions involving the former president occur, an overwhelming outpouring of Democratic voters nationwide ought to suffice to end the G.O.P.’s reactionary dreams, perhaps forever, and despite voter suppression.  

(That the former president is cutting off Republicans who refuse to pledge loyalty to him from using his name and picture in fund raising should further widen the split which is destroying the Republican Party and accrue to the benefit of the Democrats. This split will ultimately extend to the State and local level where a choice will be faced: Either give up trying to get support from more centrist voters or go broke. The few G.O.P. Senators who voted to impeach, for example, face this choice.  In future history textbooks, the Republicans will get about as much space as the Whigs do today.)

Item Added - March 17, 2021

If you read one book this year, it should be "Caste" by Isabel Wilkerson, with heavy documentation of how "caste" existed or still exists in India and the United States, and came to fruition in Nazi Germany.  Example:  Did it ever occur to you that we had concentration camps in the United States, even before the internment of Americans of Japanese heritage during World War Two?  We called them "plantations," a much more picturesque and polite designation.

Items Added - March 18, 2021

Hold your breath!  Here comes a favorable comment about the former president!  He is to be credited with fast-tracking the development and production of vaccines with which to fight Covid19 (Operation 'Warp Speed'). He did this despite a year of his minimizing the threat the virus posed to America, his dismantling of the existing estblished structure to battle epidemics and his failure to give a thought to how the fast-tracked vaccine would be distributed.  Many died because of this. Today, not departing from his career of hypocrisy and lies, he is not encouraging those who listen to him to become vaccinated. That might lose him support from the nut jobs who believe the lies about vaccination prevalent in right wing media.  Anyhow, here's credit, however minimal it might be, where it is due, Donald.

The Russians' "Useful Idiots" Among Us

Many Trumpublicans continue to be ignorant and gullible, and support racist policies as well as far-right conspiracy theories in an effort to undo everything good the United States has accomplished since FDR and create dissent among Americans. They even attacked the Capitol on January 6.

This saves the Russians the job of convincing the world that American democracy is a failure and their autocratic system is better. So long as the Republican Party does that job for them, they don't even need "Manchurian" candidates. Acclimated by the former president to accept lies, Republicans can't even identify Russian lies when they repeat them themselves. Yes, there are many idiots among us and the Russians are not reluctant to use them for their purposes. Their intelligence people refer to them as "useful idiots."  They are many in our Congress.

Item Added - March 20, 2021

Murder in Atlanta

The Atlanta murders should direct our thoughts in three directions: (1) the need for gun control legislation, (2) the growing need to identify and help the mentally ill and (3) more attention being paid to the “deeply religious,” as the Atlanta murderer was described, when their beliefs are transferred from a relationship to a Creator toward actions directed elsewhere, fueled by an ignorance and gullibility such as that which legitimatized our former president's words.

And speaking of gun control, For the past few years I have had a homemade sign visible through the rear window of my car reading "Want an Assault Rifle? Join the Army!" At first I was a little cautious, but thus far, nobody slashed my tires, possibly because I also have a veterans' cap visible back there too.