Saturday, January 30, 2021

Problems of American Democracy and What's Wrong with Florida

Important Announcement:   There are some changes taking place in the way this blog operates.  I will continue to post new “editions” periodically (probably weekly) of which this is one, but as new items come up, rather than start a fresh posting every few days, I plan on adding them to the most recent posted version, showing the date the item was added.  They will appear at the bottom of that posting.  Scroll down right now to read the ones already added to this particular posting.  (And see recent prior postings as well.)


Problems of American Democracy

Back in my high school many years ago, seniors could take a social studies course called "P.A.D."  (Problems of American Democracy).  Well, today we indeed have a problem.  American democracy isn’t working the way it should.  Domestic terrorist mobs should not be attacking the Capitol, attempting to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a presidential election.  But it happened.


Even Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy initially blamed Trump for inciting that Jan. 6 insurrection. Ultimately though, he backed off and ran to Mar-a-Lago to pledge his loyalty.  (Sort of like 'going to Canossa.’  
 See Note Below )  He recognized that without the Trump loyalists at the extreme right of his party, including those who aided and abetted the insurrection, the Republicans had no party left.  Most State and local Republican party organizations are in the hands of Trump loyalists and this is what Trump might have thrown in McCarthy's face, I suspect. 

Mar-a-Lago, McCarthy's Canossa. 

There is a parallel with what happened in Germany during the last century even though it has been 89 years since that country's conservatives shook hands with an extreme right-wing rattlesnake, supposedly to defeat the left-wing parties.  Soon after, when they realized what they had done, it was too late.  The snake’s fangs were embedded and the poisonous venom released. Same goes for Neville Chamberlain, betraying Czechoslovakia.  Lesson: You cannot shake hands with rattlesnakes and that is what today’s Republican Party has done. 

The slogan "Never Again" has meaning today.  Some Jews and others recognized what was happening in 1932 and got out of Germany in time.  Most did not.  Some of today's right-wing extremists, often organized and armed, mean business and are not just fooling around.  The role of local law enforcement, particularly in places which support the ex-president and still believe his lies about the election results, is uncertain and adds to the problem.

A possible solution was added to the prior blog posting on January 29.  Check it out below somewhere. It recommends prompt and severe sentencing of convicted domestic terrorists, making it clear that laws cannot be broken with impunity.

Note:   (In the 1500s, the Holy Roman Emperor was excommunicated by the Pope.  To avoid the eternal damnation this would bring, he went on his knees to the Pope's winter residence at Canossa and stayed outside in the freezing cold and snow for three days to beg forgiveness for whatever he had done.)

                                                          *   *   *   * 

Florida Diseases

There are two diseases prevalent in the State of Florida.  One is the Covid19 pandemic which we all hope will subside as more and more become vaccinated. 

The other disease is the Republican Party.  It is a cancer on most of the citizens of the State, many of whom are too blind to realize it.  It endeavors to promote State regulation rather than local regulation where it can get away with it.  It emasculates the concept of free public education by encouraging and financing private, often religious, schools.  It gerrymanders Congressional Districts so that a disproportionate number of Republicans are elected.  It fails to provide unemployment and Medicaid programs which meet the needs of the State’s residents.  It flirts with banning free speech.  I have been living here in retirement for twenty years and can tell you when this disease will be remedied. Never!  Floridians, for a variety of reasons, are too stupid or gullible or bigoted to accomplish that. 

There are many wonderful things about the State of Florida.  They include its benign climate, its beaches and recreational facilities, its boating and fishing opportunities, its golf courses, its restaurants, some of its educational institutions, its museums and its numerous entertainment venues.  All of these explain why so many choose to live here despite the State being diseased by the Republican Party.  It’s a trade-off with which we manage to put up. 

But the tipping point might be the presence of Donald Trump in Florida and all the maggot-like creatures, like a decaying body, he will attract.  Then the vast emigration of Floridians, who originally came here from other, colder, places to other States (or countries) will begin.  

JL

 

(Added Jan. 31, 2021)

Unrecognized Historic Times

The people who lived in what the future eventually recognized to have been historic times may not have recognized the historic significance of what was happening around them at the time.  There are many examples of what at the time did not seem to have much significance turning out to be very important historic landmarks. 

A few examples:  the crucifixion of Jesus, the invention of the printing press, Martin Luther tacking his opinions on a church door; the introduction of slavery to the ‘new world,’ the Boston Tea Party, the firing on Fort Sumter, the Pearl Harbor attack, the 9/11 attacks.  While all of these events marked real turning points in world, and American, history, that was not evident for certain at the time they took place.

We are living in such times right now.  Our country has survived under its Constitution for 232 years.  It was tested by some of the events mentioned above, but it always survived.  Conceivably, it might not have survived the Civil War or the Second World War but it did, fueled by a strength from within the nation. Today’s threat is different because it is based on belief in a fictitious alternate reality which millions of Americans are sufficiently gullible or ignorant enough to believe.

Those who have bought into an alternate reality range from those who simply will not accept the 2020 presidential election results to those who believe in wild conspiracy theories and who confuse criminal behavior deserving punishment with heroism leading to martyrdom.  Some of these invaded the Capitol on January 6. There are varying levels of alternate reality.  Not all are the same.  But once accepting one level, it is easier to be convinced of others.

If we look at the numbers from the 2020 presidential election, 81 million voters voted for President Biden and 74 million voted for Donald Trump. There is no question as to the veracity of these numbers except in the minds of those who live in an alternate reality, and those that go along with them for various reasons.  Seventy-four million Americans who are convinced that their alternate reality is the real thing cannot just be ignored or told to leave.  “Re-education,” as it is called in China, on that scale is impossible in our democracy. 

The only course of action is to find and address the reasons why those who have accepted a fictitious alternate reality have chosen to do so. These may be social, demographic or economic in nature.  That is what must be done.  It may sound overly simple, but what we do will be viewed in the future as historic.  It may not seem obvious to us today, but I believe we live in historic times, times which will turn out to be as significant to our nation as are 1492, 1619, 1776, 1789 and 1861.

JL

(Added Feb. 1, 2021)

Today's New York Times included a lengthy article about what Trump did between the election and Biden's inauguration.  It's enough to warrant not only impeachment of the ex-president but his criminal prosecution as well, and that of others.   Read the article by CLICKING HERE.  

If it moves you enough, Sen. Rubio's phone # is 202 224 3041 and Sen. Rick Scott's is 202 224 5274.  

Won't help much though.  Scott was the CEO of the health care company which stole milllions from Medicare.  Only by 'taking the fifth' did he avoid conviction and likely, imprisonment.  He probably has advised Trump to do the same.

JL

(Added Feb 2, 2021)

What Alexander Hamilton Wrote

A few blog postings ago, a column dealing with the filibuster by the New York Times’ David Leonhardt was mentioned in which he briefly quoted Alexander Hamilton.   I wrote that I would get back to that later in greater detail, which I am now doing.

In campaigning in New York State for the passage of the new nation’s Constitution back in 1788 and 1789, three of its advocates, James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, wrote pieces explaining why the State should approve it.  They were all signed “Publius” and collectively form what is known as the “Federalist Papers.”  Number 22 of the series, written by Hamilton, contained many ideas worthy of note today.

“Every idea of proportional and every rule of fair representation conspire to condemn a principle which gives to Rhode Island an equal weight in the scale of power with Massachusetts or Connecticut or New York; and to Delaware an equal voice in the national deliberations with Pennsylvania or Virginia or North Carolina. Its operation contradicts the fundamental maxim of republican government which requires that the sense of the majority should prevail.”

“To give a minority a negative upon the majority is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser.”

“Its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations of a respectable majority.”

“Hence, tedious delays, continual negotiations and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good.”

“We are apt to rest satisfied that all is safe, because nothing improper will be likely to be done, but we forget how much good may be prevented … by the power of hindering the doing what may be necessary.”

The writers of the Constitution addressed Hamilton’s concern by having two separate legislatures, the less democratic features he cited being permitted to continue in the Senate, but to a far lesser extent in the House of Representatives.

Hamilton was also concerned with the powers granted to the head of state and what to do to limit them.  Let’s listen to him again:

“A hereditary monarch has so great a personal interest in the government ... that it is not easy for a foreign power to give him the equivalent for what he would sacrifice by treachery.”

“In republics, persons elevated from the mass of the community to stations of great pre-eminence and power, may find compensations for betraying the trust.”

Obviously, Hamilton believed in impeachment.  And that was written into the new Constitution.  But a law isn’t very much if it cannot be enforced;  therefore, he also bemoaned the lack of a judiciary power in the Articles of Confederation and wanted a “Supreme Court.”

“Laws are a dead letter without courts to expound and define their true meaning and operation.”

“There are endless diversities in the opinions of men.  We often see not only different courts but the judges of the same court differing from each other … all nations have found it necessary to establish one court paramount to the rest … authorized to settle and declare in the last resort a uniform rule of civil justice.

Finally, Hamilton seems to have wanted more government positions filled by popular vote rather than by State legislatures.  In that, he failed, the prime example being the Electoral College, and until 1913, even the Senate.  He concludes Federalist Paper Number 22 with these mighty words (and the CAPS are Hamilton’s, not mine):

“It has not a little contributed to the infirmities of the existing federal system that it never had a ratification by the PEOPLE.  Resting on no better foundation than the consent of the several legislatures, it has been exposed to frequent and intricate questions concerning the validity of its powers … The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority.

I believe that Hamilton, were he alive today, would be a strong advocate of the direct election of the president by national popular vote.

JL

 


Sunday, January 24, 2021

Patriotism and Slavery

Important Announcement:   There are some changes taking place in the way this blog operates.  I will continue to post new “editions” periodically (probably weekly) of which this is one, but as new items come up, rather than start a fresh posting every few days, I plan on adding them to the most recent posted version, showing the date the item was added.  They will appear at the bottom of that posting.  Scroll down right now to read the ones already added to this particular posting.  (And see recent prior postings as well.)


Patriotism

What is patriotism?  A dictionary definition might be “the love of or devotion to one’s own country.” That might be expanded to include the institutions which are basic to that country.  And further, it might include things that serve to represent that country. 

Following this reasoning, an American patriot clearly loves the United States of America, its Constitution and the American flag.  From elementary school on, Americans “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands.”  Those words mean a lot, but they may mean different things to different people.  There are differing interpretations as to what the Constitution says.  That’s why we have a Supreme Court to interpret it.  And some disagree that that Court should even be doing that.  But that’s alright!

That Constitution guarantees the right of free expression and this opens the gateway to many different interpretations of what “the Republic for which it stands” actually means.  Are adherents of some of these differing interpretations less patriotic than those who interpret them differently?  Certainly not.

All are entitled to honor the flag, and consequently, the “Republic for which it stands,” even if their ideas of what that Republic is, or should be, differ.  But those of one belief are not entitled to claim to be more patriotic than others believing otherwise, no matter how closely they associate themselves with things that represent the country, such as the American flag.

Wrapping oneself in the flag, or having many of them fluttering in the background, doesn’t make anyone more patriotic than if the flags weren’t there.  And using the flag to hide unpatriotic ideas is wrong.  Traditionally, soapbox orators in New York’s Union Square Park have a flag posted on their platform.  That doesn’t necessarily make what they are saying patriotic, but it does celebrate the Constitution’s First Amendment, allowing them to speak there.

The misguided thugs who invaded the Capitol during the Trump-inspired insurrection on January 6, in an effort to prevent the Electoral College votes from being certified, draped themselves in American flags, to give their unpatriotic acts the appearance of legitimacy.  They were a disgrace to those flags, and “to the Republic for which they stand.”   Some carried the Confederate flag with them, representing sedition and insurrection, further debasing any patriotism on their part.  Yet, they thought themselves to be patriots in some perverted way.

Look around you.  Notice the American flag on the shoulders of many Americans other than government employees identifying them as such.  Notice the flag decals on the helmets of college and professional football players.  Look at the flags, often very large, flying from the sides of pick-up trucks.  What does that have to do with patriotism?  What do they stand for? Sometimes it gives legitimacy to individuals who are not patriotic at all and think the flag represents their ideas exclusively.  In an incident during the recent presidential campaign, vehicles attempting to drive a Biden campaign bus off the road were draped in American flags. They were not driven by patriots.

  *   *   *

Slavery

Slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833.  If we had lost the Revolutionary War, and remained a part of Great Britain, slavery would have been abolished here much earlier than it was, and the Civil War, our tragically unsuccessful Reconstruction period and much of our present unrest, might have been avoided.  If we were still part of the British Empire in 1833 when they abolished slavery, I doubt that Americans would have then rebelled against the Crown for the sake of preserving slavery here … although even today rightwing extremists still continue to do all they can to see that many descendants of slaves are deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

JL


(Added on 1/25/2021)

A Column You Should Read

In her column of January 19, distributed by Creators Syndicate, Mona Charen concludes by saying that The damage to the nation must be repaired by a chastened Republican Party.” That damage consists of their perpetuating the lies which led to the January 6 Trump insurrection attempt at the Capitol. 

Charen is no flaming liberal.  Her conservative Republican credentials are beyond reproach.  That is why it is important that you read this column, and more importantly, that Republicans do.  

Check out the column by CLICKING HERE.

JL

(Added on 1/28/2021)

Democratic Florida Candidates in 2022

In 2022, Florida will elect a Senator and a Governor.  In the 2020 presidential election, the Republicans defeated the Democrats by 300,000 votes.  Despite this, the Democrats have a tremendous opportunity to win both of these 2022 races because of the split in the Republican Party between the extremists, loyal to Trump and who still will control the State Party and the more traditional “business” Republicans who may defect from “Trumpublican” candidates.  

Rubio’s refusal to go along with a Trump impeachment and DeSantis’ failure to properly organize the Covid19 vaccine distribution properly will work against both of them, reducing their Republican support.  The key is having Democratic candidates who not only represent and will appeal to Democrats, but to defecting Republicans as well.  In 2022, who the Democrats run in these two races will determine their results.

 

 

Hamilton is More than a Musical  

In writing about the filibuster in today’s (1/27/21) New York Times, David Leonhardt quoted Alexander Hamilton. “What at first sight may seem a remedy,” referring to supermajority rule, “is in reality a poison.”  If a majority could not govern, he explained, it would lead to “tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good.”   This comes from Federalist Papers #22 by Hamilton.  More about that to come!

 

All Politics is Local – Curse of the G.O.P.

Former House Speaker Tip O'Neill once said that "all politics are local." In local politics, regardless of party (town, city, county, even State), it's the activists who hold leadership roles and call the shots. The Trumpublicans still control their party on that local basis. That's why the nation should not ignore those 74 million voters who voted Republican in November and the reason President Biden is proceeding carefully to reduce that vile number which certainly included many Republicans who might not be so extreme as their party's local leadership is.

Therefore, Because the Republican Party seems to be becoming the party of the domestic terrorists, and of those Republicans in Congress and in many State Governments who in varying degrees are sympathetic to them, it's time for the rest of the Republicans to become Democrats, Independents or form a new, Lincoln Project-based, new party.

And Speaking of the Lincoln Project, there are Billboards up to Impress the Senators

The “Meidas Touch” which is associated with the Lincoln Project has erected virtual billboards outside the Senate showing video of the Capitol insurrection 24-hours a day with plans to put additional billboards up. Keeping the visuals alive! It is worth a look if you want to see it: https://twitter.com/MeidasTouch/status/1354573211392856070

 

Accountability Counts

Let not musings over the future of the Republican Party and its anticipated attempts to sabotage legislation in the Democratic Congress divert our attention from the continuing threat to democracy in America presented by those who incited and carried out the January insurrection. We cannot ignore that. It cannot be underestimated. There must be full Republican accountability. The other day, Connecticut Senator Murphy pointed out that robbers of banks are not arrested for merely trespassing there, but face more serious charges.  And trashing the Capitol, with five resulting deaths, is as least as serious as bank robbery.

JL

 

Added on 1/29/21

No Kid Glove Treatment of Domestic Terrorists

Republicans in Washington react to their base as manifested by local Party leadership in towns, counties and even States.  And that leadership is still loyal to Donald Trump.  Republican House leader McCarthy’s “flip-flop” on the cause of the January 6 insurrection is an example of this.  

The best way to take away control of local Republican Party leadership from domestic terrorists and those that aid and abet them is to throw the book at those convicted of “trespassing” and worse in the Trump-incited insurrection on January 6.  Conceivably, their number can include elected officials who encouraged these criminal acts, and make no mistake about it, they were criminal acts.  

Once they see that such violations of law for those convicted can mean ten years or so in a place like Guantanamo Bay, local Republicans will back off from aiding and abetting these criminals now secured in the G.O.P.’s midst.  But it must be done quickly, while the crimes are fresh in the minds of Americans.  Even now, “insurrection-deniers” are at work blaming it on “Antifa.”












JL

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Danger from the Enemies of Democracy

Important Announcement:   There are some changes taking place in the way this blog operates.  I will continue to post new “editions” periodically (probably weekly) of which this is one, but as new items come up, rather than start a fresh posting every few days, I plan on adding them to the most recent posted version, showing the date the item was added.  They will appear at the bottom of that posting.  Scroll down right now to read the ones added to this particular posting.  (And see recent prior postings as well.)


Know The Enemies of Democracy!

Richardson
As some of you may know, I am a follower of Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s daily (it usually carries the date of the preceding day since it is written the night before it is sent out) “Letter from an American.”   Her posting dated January 16 explains the history of the extreme right movement in the United States.  To read it, which I ask you to doPLEASE CLICK HERE.  If that doesn't work, just paste this on your browser line:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/WhctKJWJLghxfNKVRpMSZvrqVMWVZbFTWgHNpcMwrFxSPppgvpRqxdFFjHcSLGTpwGxXvgL  

It’s free, although you can sign up for $5 a month to join in the healthy back and forth discussion between subscribers which follows the free “Letter from an American” each day.   As Thomas Jefferson may, or may not, have said or written, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  Clicking on “Letter from an American” helps you to at least keep your eyes open.  We are living in perilous times. 

And while on this subject, in an email to the local Democratic group in our community, its Chairman, Bruce Brodsky, compared the acts of the extreme right with the “Profiles in Courage” about which John Fitzgerald Kennedy wrote, and referred to their position as “Profiles in Cowardice.”

He wrote that …

 “they point fingers, blame others, promote dissent and have no interest in working for the common good.  They define what is good as what is good for themselves.  Times have changed and so has America.”  

 “They tell the lie, make it bigger by repeating it over and over again and while they are at it, they luxuriate in victimhood.  They scream that they are the victims, that their voices alone are being censored, that the liberal left, you know, all those Commie pinko liberal Hollywood types and Jews and blacks and all of the “others” are taking their country away from them, taking their religion away from them, taking their jobs away from them and the liberal media working with the radical left, continues to wrongfully accuse them of acts they are innocent of.   They relish the role of being the victim.  They thrive on being the victim.  They need to be the victim because if they are not victims and what they are saying or doing is not right, how could anyone disagree with them?  The only conceivable answer is victimhood.  They hold up the bible, they wave the flag, the bigger the better, they stand and sing the Star Spangled Banner showing the world that they are the only true Americans.  They love the country and if you don’t love it as much as they do, they are willing to show you their guns and threaten you by their presence.  Times have changed and so has America.”

These words ring with truth. While we earnestly hope that the forty-fifth president will soon be no more than a bitter memory, which is not a certainty, those that supported him, and whose votes he was able to steer to elect legislators favorable to his ideas, will still be around.   

We must monitor them very carefully in days and years to come.  Some are already angry at Trump for not having succeeded in changing America to the undemocratic, bigoted, dictatorship they so desire, a nation where the only things that are good are those which are good for those who share their agenda, an agenda which excluded many from life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And many of them are willing to fight for that dark agenda.

And if you haven't yet read today's "Letter from an American," please  CLICK HERE.

JL

(Item added 1/18/2021)

Those of you who remember the first Trump impeachment hearings certainly recall the impressive testimony of National Security Council appointee, Fiona Hill, She was honest and pulled no punches, but of course swayed none of the Trumpublicans who voted against that impeachment in the House.  Last week, Ms. Hill explained the "coup" which Trump unsuccessfully attempted on January 6.  To read her Politico article, JUST CLICK HERE.  (I wonder if the eight Senators and 147 House Republicans who assisted in Trump's attempt, either knowingly or not, by voting not to accept the Electoral College results from one or more States will ever admit to their aiding and abetting it.)  

JL


(Item added 1/18/2021)

Today, we honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King.  Here is the text of his Washington, DC, 1963, "I have a dream" speech.

JUST CLICK HERE FOR ITS FULL TEXT


(Item added 1/19/2021)

Trump's Contamination of Law Enforcement


Remember back in 2017 when Donald Trump spoke before a group of police officers, all ranged behind him on the stage. (It was in Suffolk County, New York, I seem to recall.) He frequently spoke to such groups. They weren’t there to protect the President.  Really, they were his audience that day.  When they applauded, it established a link between them.  Could they not applaud?  After all, he’s the President and he had come to speak before them.  

And when Trump said, “please don’t be too nice. Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head, you can take the hand away, okay,” that sent a message to them … and to law enforcement all over the country. 

The way things work out, much of the work of local law enforcement in this country is in Black and Latino neighborhoods.   Often, people there need the police more than elsewhere to preserve law and order and to protect them.  Often, that’s where the “bad guys” are.  But make no mistake, many officers feel they are following the leadership of the President when they try to operate the way his words suggest they want him to, not being “too nice.”  And that means that many of those who live in such neighborhoods are potentially suspects to start with in the eyes of misguided local law enforcement.  And then bad things happen in places like Minneapolis by overly zealous, Trump-inspired law enforcement.

And this attitude goes for Border Patrol and Drug Enforcement people as well.  They know the President’s feeling toward those with whom they deal and act accordingly.  He’s their boss, ultimately, in their eyes. 

All these officers wear a badge on their chests, but they often, even if they are not Federal officers, wear an American Flag shoulder patch as well.  In the minds of some, this puts them on the same team as the President who was always surrounded by many American flags when he appeared in public.  He’s their commander in chief, just like in the armed forces. 

(And a question for another day is how much of this insurrectionism is present in those armed forces, who supposedly take orders from a commander-in-chief, who turns out to be sympathetic to domestic terrorists?  And this also can involve veterans who maintain this loyalty.)

Sometimes, this feeling extends into the politics of some law enforcement people. Some clearly were overly gentle, too polite, with the white domestic terrorists who invaded the Capitol during the Trump Insurrection on January 6.  Some might have even been part of it, and they should be severely punished.

How do we resolve this problem?  How do we de-politicize law enforcement?  As good citizens, they certainly should have the right to engage in political activities and to vote.  But that should in no way affect the way they do their jobs.

Never. Ever.  


(Items added 1/20/2021)

Take a breath!  By the time you are reading this, Donald Trump will no longer be our president. Our job now is to remove the stain, as Nancy Pelosi called it, that he left on the presidency. Halleluyah! 

                                            *   *   *

For years, Florida has been a place of refuge for law-breakers and those on the path to becoming law-breakers.  Miami and Miami Beach were often the destinations of those who felt safer in the sunny South, particularly those with Mafia or shady business connections.  Well, it's still going on, but those coming here these days are white supremacists who feel comforted by the presence of ex-president Trump here, and many others on the far right who enjoy lying to the many ignorant and gullible residents of Florida ... and the rest of the nation.  Read the article in today's Sun-Sentinel about one of these groups in West Palm Beach by CLICKING HERE.  


(Item added 1/21/2021)

Accountability

On the evening of the Trump-incited insurrection, January 6, and into the wee hours of the next morning, both the House and the Senate voted to certify the Electoral College results of the 2020 presidential election, despite the insurrection’s violent efforts, in which five people died, to stop those votes from taking place. 

Because they chose to believe the unsubstantiated lies circulated by the Trump administration, even in the shadow of the insurrection taking place in the Capitol, eight Senators and 147 House Representatives, all Republicans, voted not to certify the results from at least one State.  They did so to maintain the loyalty of their extremist base, some of whom supported domestic terrorism on that day in person or from afar.  Some legislators even had encouraged the insurrectionists.

Before the new administration can work to bring all Americans together, some sort of accountability for the actions of these Senators and Congresspersons must occur.  Their actions cannot be swept under a rug.  Only then can the nation, under the leadership of President Biden, move ahead. 

JL


(Items added 1/23/2021)

Covid19 Vaccinations

As I see it, although the supply of vaccines is growing, its  method of distribution to the public, right now basically those over age 65, is “all over the place.”  The vaccine supply is often in the wrong places (like hospitals whose staff and patients already have been vaccinated).  No program should require non-patients to visit hospitals for vaccinations.  I don’t think that’s a good idea.

The problem is that setting up appointments at the right places for those in line to be vaccinated is in the hands of various State and local government entities, or even hospitals or pharmacies, not prepared for the enormity of the task. Overwhelmed websites (or phone lines) are frequently changed from what they were “last week,” often crash, and people cannot get appointments to get vaccinated. But those skillful or patient enough to manage to negotiate this maze do get appointments.

Right now, those over 65 in Palm Beach County can try to get an appointment (even if it is in Broward County) by calling 866-201 6313.  The online websites apparently have been abandoned.

Obviously, while administering the vaccine through local government facilities and pharmacies is the way to go, the setting up of vaccination appointments should be a federally managed program, through websites or by telephone.  

The Federal government’s Medicare and Social Security websites have far greater capacity to do this than do pitiful local efforts.  It should be a program which recognizes and coordinates where the ever-changing inventory of vaccine is and where those seeking appointments are.  We have the technology to put man on the moon and travel in space.  Certainly we can do this as well.

JL

Free Speech for Insurrectionists?

Yesterday, Press Secretary Psaki mentioned 'respect for constitutionally protected free speech and political activities' in approaching the problem of domestic violent extremism. This has to be carefully balanced with how we deal with those who still advocate sedition and insurrection, including some in law enforcement, the military and those with background in those areas, not to mention the ex-president.

JL





Monday, January 11, 2021

The 14th Amendment - Section 3 and a Book Review



Important Announcement:   There are some changes taking place in the way this blog operates.  I will continue to post new “editions” periodically, but as new items come up, rather than start a fresh posting every few days, I plan on adding them to the already posted version, showing the date the item was added.  They will appear at the bottom of the original posting.  Scroll down right now to read them.


 

A Book Review 

Michael Cohen
Over the past few months, I’ve read several books purporting to tell the truth about Donald Trump, giving some ideas as to what makes him tick.  They included Michael Schmidt’s “Donald Trump v. the United States,” John Bolton’s “The Room Where it Happened,” Bob Woodward’s “Rage” and most recently, Michael Cohen’s memoir, “Disloyal.” By far, the last mentioned gives the most insight into our forty-fifth president.


That is because Michael Cohen is a similarly slippery scoundrel himself and if ever the words were true, they fit here. “It takes one to tell one.”

As a Long Island teenager, Cohen worked summers and weekends in a country club where he encountered individuals connected to New York’s mafia families.  He was never part of their structure but he was able to witness the high lives they lived, the way they behaved, the way they got things done, making their own rules, their codes of silence, their organization and their crude feelings of brotherhood and loyalty.  He liked the way they would order something done, often with a nod and no specific instructions but well understood by all present.  Except for the fact that he was a nice Jewish boy who ended up going to a second-rate law school, he always harbored a silent desire to have the respect that a mafia “made man” received.  But he was content to become independently wealthy practicing on the shadier sides of the legal profession.

Until he met Donald Trump.  At last Cohen found a safe way to live a life like the mafiosi did, without the killing of course, but getting the feeling of belonging to an organization which made its own rules, did whatever they wanted and supposedly provided rewards for loyalty to it and most importantly, to its “Boss” or “Capo.”  He wouldn’t be asked to “whack” someone literally but doing so “figuratively” became his stock in trade in the Trump Organization.  It was like being a “soldier” in a mafia family rising through the ranks.  He became the “fixer.” He loved being given, eventually, the big jobs by the “Boss,” deriving great pleasure from it as part of his rewards.  And of course, most of the time, that “Boss” did not have to tell him precisely what to do.  He already knew.

Briefly citing from “Disloyal,” here is how Cohen took his orders from Trump. (page 337):

“Over the years, I had become fluent in the language Trump used to communicate his desires and demands.  He used inferences, nods, silences, euphemisms, signals.  It was similar to how Trump never used email, for the simple reasons that it created a digital fingerprint that would permanently record his words – and thus potentially ensnare him.  Like a crime boss, Trump wanted no evidence that could connect him to any of his deeds, or deeds that he indirectly or directly ordered others to do.  The same applied with conversations.  If the President explicitly said what he wanted, or needed, it could potentially be used against him.  Better to say nothing that could be held against you, but surround yourself with people who can translate your intentions.  Trump’s mind was so permeated with deception and delusion – of others, but also of himself – that I had to be prepared to literally depart from reality and enter a kind of fantasyland when I spoke with the President.”

Eventually, because loyalty was a one-way street with Trump, the President abandoned Michael Cohen, letting him be sentenced to three years in prison for a series of questionable financial transactions, but primarily for his lying about carrying out Trump’s instructions in bribing Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claimed she had had a sexual encounter with Trump, who was never charged with anything.

And that is the genesis of Michael Cohen’s book which conclusively documents the wickedness of the piece of shit who served as our forty-fifth president, a book written by someone greedy enough to want the feeling of power only a high ranking mafioso might enjoy, and was willing to be covered with Trumpian feces in order to accomplish that.

Anyone willing to admit to that deserves to be believed. 

(Included in the appendices to Michael Cohen’s book, “Disloyal,” are copies of many legal documents mentioned in it.  There are also copies of what appear to be photocopies of many of the pages from the Steele Dossier, with very few deletions.)

JL


                                                                *   *   *   *   *

How to Deal with Law Breakers in Congress


Senator Hawley encouraging Capitol terrorists

Here is the text of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.  I would hope that the presiding officer of the United States Senate, Vice President Harris, once she has taken her new position, will read it aloud in the Senate chamber, after which the expulsion of Senators Cruz and Hawley will be voted upon, two-thirds of the Senate’s votes being needed to cancel any such expulsion. 

No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

(Actually, this also applies to the President and many Republican House members as well, but the particularly blatant cases against Cruz and Hawley stand out like sore thumbs.)  


      
JL            



(Added 1/12/21)
Here is the text of a letter to the Palm Beach Post which I sent earlier this week: 


It is not enough for Republicans to be appalled by the violence which took place in our Capitol building last Wednesday.  Despite this, some are still heard questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election and taking pride in what they consider some positive aspects of the Trump administration.  Saying “enough is enough” as Lindsey Graham has done is not enough. What these people must get through their heads, and I include Florida’s two Senators, its governor and most of its Representatives in the House, is that they were the ‘enablers’ who made it possible for Donald Trump’s madness to besmirch American democracy and all for which it stands.  No matter how deeply they are appalled by Wednesday’s violence, they must share in the responsibility for it.  Their “enabling,” in exchange for the support of the far right, made it possible. Shame on them.  

JL    

(Added 1/14/21)
Trump Looking For a Job

Donald Trump, whom I now understand is looking for a job as a sports reporter, submitted this sample of his work to several papers.

“It’s time for the truth to come out!  Let me extend my congratulations to the Ohio State Buckeyes for winning the College Football Playoffs, trouncing a hapless University of Alabama team by a huuuge score on Monday evening in Miami!

I know that the fake news media reported, and the supposedly live TV coverage broadcast, a game which Alabama falsely appeared to have won … but some people who actually were there and who saw the game know what really happened on the field.   It was an Ohio State romp!  Believe me, the Buckeyes won, but the public will never know that because of the fake media, which spread the phony story of the made-up Alabama victory using clever computer generated graphics to steal the victory from the true winner, Ohio State .  Alabama wasn’t even close.  Even the failing New York Times was in on the hoax, going overboard in their lying by reporting that Alabama had won by the score of 52 to 24.  Never happened!

Compounding this was the awarding of the game’s MVP title to Ohio State’s Heisman Trophy winner, DaVonte Smith. Those who watched the game on TV saw Smith in an Alabama uniform, but that wasn’t really what took place.  All those passes he caught were actually Ohio State touchdowns!  They probably  just ‘photoshopped’ the color of his jersey.  Sad.”   

JL        


(Added 1/15/21)
What's With the Covid19 Vaccine?

Yes, as far as Covid19 vaccinations go, Palm Beach County is a frigging disaster.  The miniscule number of doses received by the county have gone to nursing homes and the general population in a disorganized, scattershot, haphazard manner, some to hospitals, some to firehouses, some to churches, some to individual communities.  Here are some stories about how folks in Palm Beach County get vaccinated.

There are over 100,000 residents over age 65 waiting for appointments for which they signed up via the County’s frequently inoperative website.  At the present rate that vaccines are received by the County, it appears it will take many months to get these people vaccinated here.  So they look elsewhere.  Nevertheless, some residents who signed up early in the game are now getting appointments in Palm Beach County as the limited number of doses slowly increases.  If you are not already signed up, it can be done (name, date of birth, phone number, and mention where you live (Boynton, Delray, Boca, etc.) at 

chd50feedback@flhealth.gov.

I personally know of people who have traveled as far north as Sebastian, at their doctor’s instruction, for vaccination.  Others have gone as far south as Homestead.  These are two to three-hour drives.  Many have taken advantage of the relatively ample supply of vaccine in nearby Broward County to register for vaccination at the many locations there if they can manage to catch their website when it is operative.  People I know who have gone this route tell me that anyone in line at some of the locations there can get vaccinated, appointment or not, once they complete the paperwork.  (I have an appointment there next week.)

I keep hearing rumors that wealthy people from New York City are able to fly into Miami or Fort Lauderdale, get their vaccination and fly back up north, with an appointment to come back in three or four weeks.  Personally, I know of none.

Back in Palm Beach County, the VA hospital is now offering vaccinations to veterans signed up to receive health care there.  But some County residents indeed have gotten their shots.  One I know received his at the Kings Point residential community where a token supply was received there each day last week.  It was available to non-residents waiting in line once those who lived there received the vaccine.  It took standing in line for two or three hours on three successive days before that day’s supply ran out, before he and his wife received the vaccine.  Another friend received a call from their PB Country ‘concierge’ physician to come to his office where ‘concierge’ patients could get the vaccine.  And of course, much of what little vaccine was initially made available to the County went to well-heeled Palm Beach Island, rather than the less organized larger communities.  Some residents there, big dollar donors to private senior communities which including nursing facilities, were vaccinated along with the nursing home residents.

And the senior community where I live is still trying to get Walgreens, once their nursing home work is finished, to set up vaccinations here, as they do annually for ‘flu’ shots.  Meanwhile, the State seems to be working with the Publix Supermarket chain to arrange for vaccines to be given at some of their locations, but none in Palm Beach County. 

My personal recommendation is to find out where the Governor is speaking that day about the vaccine, drive there, and get in line for a vaccine dose which certainly will be available at that location for a photoshoot.
JL        

(Added 1/16/2021)
Reading for the Weekend:  

Check out historian Timothy Snyder’s essay, “American Abyss,” published in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.  Learn the difference between Republican ‘gamers’ and ‘breakers’ and a hell of a lot more about the January Coup.   Visit  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/09/magazine/trump-coup.html  

Or just
    
JL                         

All About the Supreme Court plus a Quote

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