Archive for ‘Campaigns Elections’

06/26/2020

IN DEFENSE OF JEFFERSON MEMORIALS

While people busily remove statues to treasonous Confederate generals, let’s review 10 reasons why monuments to Thomas Jefferson should not only be preserved and protected, but celebrated.

1) 1776: Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence with the famous phrase: “All men are created equal.”

2) 1776 Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration (before others edited it), accused the king of waging a cruel war against human nature by carrying a distant people into slavery in another hemisphere.

3) 1777 Jefferson supported a bill in Virginia to outlaw the importation of slaves. It didn’t pass, but he tried.

4) 1783 Jefferson drafted an amendment to the Virginia Constitution to end slavery. Once again other lawmakers wouldn’t agree.

5) 1784 Jefferson in the Continental Congress proposed the “Ordinance of 1784,” which would have barred all slavery west of the Appalachians, but it was defeated by just one vote. Virginia slave-owner James Monroe assisted Jefferson in that effort.

6) 1785 Jefferson wrote a book entitled: “Notes on the State of Virginia” in which he denounced slavery as “doomed to extinction.”

7) 1787 Jefferson recommended slavery be outlawed in the territories covered by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Again with the help of James Monroe, his idea was adopted and slavery became illegal in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

8) 1787 Jefferson urged Madison to include in Art I Sec 9 of the U.S. Constitution language stating the importation of slaves “shall not be prohibited by Congress prior to” 1808. By saying it couldn’t be banned “prior to,” they cleverly implied when it could be outlawed. Without those words, the slave trade may have continued well beyond 1808.

9) 1791 Jefferson urged Madison to amend the Constitution with a Bill of Rights to protect the freedoms of speech, assembly, and the rights of the accused.

10 1807 Jefferson as President signed a federal law banning the importation of slaves.

Americans should recall that in Virginia in the 1700s, all governors were plantation owners with slaves. Back then, abolitionists weren’t on their ballots. Men like Jefferson, Washington and Monroe were the best of the bunch, for they were trying to end slavery.

Jefferson inherited 30 slaves at age 14 in 1757. He was born into a slave culture, where he was indoctrinated into thinking there was nothing wrong with it. But he also became one of our most well-read Presidents. His childhood thoughts on slavery evolved and he became a voice of abolition. We should applaud his progress despite his slave ownership.

No historical evidence suggests that he ever personally whipped a slave. He was actually known for respecting their wishes. His policy was not to sell them against their will. History shows he helped some reunite with their families.

But the Jefferson slave story would not be complete without addressing the topic of his slave girl Sally Hamings. When some hear that he had a sexual relationship with his slave, they quickly write him off, but the story is much more interesting and complicated.

After Jefferson married Martha Wayles (1749-82), her father John Wayles (1715-73) had an affair with a mixed-blood slave, who gave birth to Sally Hemings (1773-1835). Martha and Sally thus shared the same father and were half-sisters. When John died in 1773, Sally was inherited by Martha and Tom. Since Sally looked like a Wayles and not like a black African, she became a privileged house slave.

Nine years later, as Martha was bleeding to death from a tragic delivery, she told Tom that she didn’t want their two daughters raised by a stepmother. She asked Tom to vow that he would never remarry. Deeply in love with his wife, he agreed to her terms on her deathbed. He was only 39.

Years later, when he was Minister to France, Jefferson commenced a sexual relationship with Sally, his deceased wife’s half-sister. Historians say Martha had auburn hair and hazel eyes and that Sally had similar features. Since interracial marriages were illegal in Virginia, Jefferson very discreetly kept his common law bond secret.

Tom and Sally began raising a family when she was 22 in 1795. They had Harriet-1 (1795-97); Beverly (1798-1873), Unnamed Girl (died 1799); Harriet-2 (1801-63), Madison (1805-77) and Eston (1808-56). Jefferson’s affair was finally exposed in the media while he was President in 1802. Modern DNA later confirmed his paternity.

So was Jefferson naughty for falling in love with a black woman, who happened to look like his deceased wife? When he looked into Sally’s eyes, was he seeing Martha? As a slave owner, Jefferson could have had sex with every female on his plantation, but it appears he instead chose a long-term relationship with Sally, extending at least 31 years from 1795 until his death in 1826. Instead of taking on a new playmate of the month, he impregnated the same woman over two decades.

It appears Jefferson’s relationship with Sally was honorable. While she technically was a slave who had to satisfy Tom sexually, her station probably wasn’t that much different from a white married woman, who also had to obey. As to sex, one might say, being a “slave wife” or a “white wife” was a distinction without a difference.

One could argue Jefferson was really about 175 years ahead of his time, as the Supreme Court did not declare the ban against interracial marriages unconstitutional until 1967. Tom followed his heart and engaged in civil disobedience as he disobeyed the “black code.” He and Sally should be celebrated for their love affair. Since three of Sally’s children, Harriet (1801), Madison (1805) and Eston (1808), were born while Tom was in the White House, perhaps it’s time we erected a monument to Sally Hemings (Jefferson), as the first black First Lady.

06/24/2020

LET WASHINGTON MONUMENTS STAND

When George Washington inherited 10 slaves at age 11 in 1743, did he have a choice? As a child, how insightful was he supposed to have been? When he received another slave and a horse for his 15th birthday, should have given them back? Would any teenager have done that in colonial Virginia? When Washington married Martha Custis in 1759, should he have instructed her not to bring the 255 slaves owned by the Custis estate, 170 of whom were legally the property of her two children?

Raised in a slave culture, the real question is why did Washington order his overseer not to lash slaves without his express written consent? Why did he refuse to break up slave families? Why did he stop buying slaves in 1772? Why did he begin auctioning them off in 1774? Why did he stop selling them altogether in 1778? Was it that he realized they could end up worse off? Can we agree not all slave plantation owners were the same?

Why did Washington propose to the Continental Congress in 1773 a suspension of the importation of slaves, saying he wanted to see: “An entire stop forever put to such a wicked, cruel and unnatural trade”? Wasn’t his evolution in the right direction?

Isn’t Washington deserving of a monument for leading us to independence from Britain? Shouldn’t we honor his willingness to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in 1775? Few would have had the courage to take on the most powerful military in the world. Shouldn’t we recall that that at that time all Americans, white and black, were slaves to a tyrannical master in England?

After some initial Revolutionary War loses reduced the American army to just 3,800 men in 1776, why didn’t Washington just give up and go home? What propelled him to cross the Delaware for our great victory at Trenton? After additional disappointments in Penn, how did he keep his troops together during the harsh winter at Valley Forge?

When slave owning legislatures in South Carolina and Georgia both refused to send 3,000 black troops as requested in 1778, why did Washington proceed to arm black regiments from MA, CT and RI? As the Americans defeated the British at Yorktown, why were some of the heroes from the 1st Rhode Island Black Regiment? Who was the white commander who let them bear arms?

After the war, why didn’t Washington make a serious effort to recover all of the 15 slaves the British freed from his plantation? Why did he write the following to John Mercer on Sep. 9, 1786: “I never mean to possess another slave by purchase, it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted by which slavery in this country may be abolished…”

Yet Washington still brought some of his black “servants” to the White House in 1789. Although he lacked the authority to free slaves owned by his wife’s family, as President he signed a “Slave Trade Act” (1794), which outlawed the construction of ships fitted for slave trafficking. He could have vetoed that bill, but he didn’t.

Upon leaving the Presidency in 1796, a statue sculpted by Jean Houdon of France was erected to him in Richmond. As a private citizen, Washington then asked the Virginia lawmakers to abolish slavery in 1797: “I wish from my soul that the legislature of this state could see the policy of a gradual abolition of slavery. It would prevent much future mischief.”

On Aug. 17, 1799, four months before he died, he pondered the fate of his slaves as well as the “dower slaves” owned by the Custis estate. He wrote to Robert Lewis: “To sell them…I cannot, because I am principled against this kind of traffic in the human species. To hire them out is almost as bad, because to disperse the families I have an aversion. What then is to be done? Something must or I shall be ruined.”

In his last will and testament, Washington decided: “Upon the decease of my wife, it is my will that all the slaves that I hold in my own right shall receive their freedom.” George died four months later on Dec. 14, 1799. Within a year of his death, Martha ordered all the slaves free.

We must remember that George did not create the institution of slavery. His immigrant great-grandfather John purchased them as he became a Virginia planter in 1656. His grandfather Lawrence inherited them in 1677. His father Augustine likewise inherited them at age four in 1698. Slavery was simply an integral part of the Virginia economy.

It’s unfair to George to argue that he needed to be the lone voice against slavery when he inherited slaves as a child. What is noteworthy is that he evolved. It took a lifetime, but he said the right things and did the right thing in the end. We should not judge Washington on the sole issue of slavery, as that was not the key issue in his day.

We memorialize Washington for liberating America from the tyrannical rule of an un-elected king. Without that first step, Lincoln could not have made the second. While history often does not move fast enough, it moves. While statues to Confederate traitors should be removed, because they sought to preserve slavery, all of us should honor Washington for defeating the King of England. We should preserve and protect his monuments. Washington’s face should forever remain in granite at Mt. Rushmore.

11/26/2019

Impeachment Under Federalist 65

When Alexander Hamilton discussed impeachment in Federalist #65, he wrote regarding a trial in the Senate: “The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” He further stated: “…they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

The Constitution provides in Art II, Sec. 4: “The President…shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

While treason and bribery are relatively easy to understand, what did the Founders mean by the words: “other high crimes and misdemeanors”? What “other” “high crimes”? What “other” “misdemeanors”?

In addition to Trump’s attempted bribery of the Ukraine President, he committed “other” crimes and “misdemeanors,” such as repeated sexual assaults, prostitution, slanderous defamation, habitual lying and a loss of the public trust as to perjury, attempted malicious prosecutions of political opponents, co-conspiring with supporters to engage in battery, disorderly conduct, witness intimidation, obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress, contempt of court, and willful violations of lawful subpoenas issued by federal and state prosecutors and the Congress.

Trump committed at least fourth degree “sexual assault” against a multitude of women. The evidence that he paid at least one high-priced call-girl over $150,000 shows a willingness to engage in “prostitution” and a lack of the sort of “virtue” the Founders thought Presidents should possess.

Trump routinely abused his position of trust by tweeting out a torrid of “defamatory statements.” He made so many false comments about people it’s impossible to recite them all in one article. Persons previously unknown to the public, like the Ambassador to the Ukraine, have been singled out and subjected to false, vile and slanderous comments.

Trump’s tendency to lie about demonstrably true facts goes well beyond normal political rhetoric. It evinces a loss of the public trust as to the crime of “perjury,” since the President clearly doesn’t understand the basic difference between what is true and what is false.

Trump abused his position of trust by using his powers to wrongfully encourage the “malicious prosecution” of his political opponents. Apparently unaware of how power is transferred in a republic, he recklessly threatened to lock-up his 2016 rival Hilary Clinton.

Trump at rallies publicly encouraged his hard-core supporters to engage in unprovoked physical acts of “battery” against media employees and those who merely disagreed with him. He then co-conspired with his thugs by telling them he would pay their legal fees.

Trump engaged in “disorderly conduct” on many occasions, as he tried to provoke public disturbances.

Trump silenced some would-be accusers and attempted to mute others, as he used his twitter account to engage in “witness intimidation,” a federal crime. While brave people appeared before the House to speak the truth as to his corrupt practices, he tried to silence them.

Trump is guilty of “obstruction of justice,” the “obstruction of Congress,” and of “contempt of court,” not only with respect to his tax returns, but also as to his unlawful orders to subordinates that they disobey subpoenas and their higher oath to the Constitution. He blatantly abused his power and violated his oath of office, which is to uphold our Constitutional form of government and the rule of law.

Hamilton believed the President would only be a man of “virtue.” When he wrote Federalist #68 he explained that the electors who would attend the Electoral College would not choose a President of “low intrigue.” He thought “…the Office of President will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” He added: “There will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters preeminent for ability and virtue.”

The probability that the Republican-controlled Senate will not convict or remove Trump from office is no excuse for not voting in favor of Articles of Impeachment in the House as to the offenses outlined above with respect to a man who has absolutely no virtue.

11/25/2019

Impeachment & Federalist Papers

When Alexander Hamilton wrote Federalist #68 in an effort to convince New Yorkers to ratify the Constitution, he explained that the electors who would attend the Electoral College would not be choosing a President of “low intrigue.” He thought “…the Office of President will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” He added: “There will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters preeminent for ability and virtue.”

The Founders believed that only a qualified man of “virtue” would be entrusted to hold the Presidency.

Hamilton discussed impeachment in Federalist #65. Regarding a trial in the Senate, he wrote: “The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” He further stated: “…they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

The Framers provided in Art II, Sec. 4 of the Constitution: “The President…shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” While treason and bribery are relatively easy to understand, what did the Founders mean by the words: “other high crimes and misdemeanors”? What “other” “high crimes”? What “other” “misdemeanors”?

In addition to Trump’s attempted bribery of the Ukraine President, is he also guilty of “other” “misdemeanors,” such as sexual assault, prostitution, slanderous defamation, habitual lying and perjury, attempted malicious prosecutions of political opponents, co-conspiring with supporters to engage in battery, disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice, and willful violations of subpoenas issued by prosecutors and the Congress?

Trump committed “sexual assault” against a multitude of women. The evidence that he paid at least one high-priced call-girl shows a willingness engage in “prostitution” and a lack of “virtue” of the sort the Founders believed a President should possess.

Trump routinely abused his position of trust by tweeting out a torrid of “defamatory statements.” He made so many false comments about people it’s difficult to list them all. Persons previously unknown to the public, like the Ambassador to the Ukraine, have been singled out by him and subjected to false, vile and slanderous comments.

Trump’s tendency to lie about demonstrably true facts goes well beyond normal political rhetoric. It evinces a mindset willing to commit “perjury,” since he appears not even to understand the basic difference between right and wrong.

Trump abused his position of trust by using his powers to wrongfully encourage the “malicious prosecution” of political opponents. Unaware of how a democracy works, he recklessly threatened to lock-up his 2016 rival Hilary Clinton.

Trump at rallies publicly encouraged his hard-core supporters to engage in unprovoked physical acts of “battery” against media members and those who merely disagree with him and he then co-conspired with his thugs to pay their legal fees.

Trump engaged in “disorderly conduct” on many occasions, as he tried to provoke public disturbances.

Trump is guilty of “obstruction of justice,” the “obstruction of Congress,” and of a “contempt of court.” As he ordered subordinates in the Executive Dept. to disobey House subpoenas, he blatantly abused his power and violated his oath of office, which is to uphold our Constitutional form of government.

The probability that the Republican Senate will not convict or remove Trump from office is no reason not to support Articles of Impeachment in the House of Representatives.

10/03/2019

IMPEACHMENT OF DONALD TRUMP

The United States Constitution provides the following procedures for impeachment:

“The President…shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Art. II, Sec. 4.

“The House of Representatives…shall have the sole power of impeachment.” Art. I, Sec 2 (5).

“The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. Art I, Sec (3) (6).

“When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside…”Art I, Sec 3 (6).

“…No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present.” Art I, Sec 3 (6).

“Judgement in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the U.S.…” Art I, Sec 3 (7).

The Constitution states the oath Donald Trump took in Jan. 2017:

“Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation: Art II, Sec. 1 (8)

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Art II, Sec 1 (8)

(Note: The Founders did not include the words “so help me god” in the Constitution and that language is not part of the oath, though many recent Presidents like Trump have included them)

Among the various Presidential duties set forth in the Constitution is the obligation that: “he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Art II, Sec 3.

The duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” requires the President to enforce all federal laws and implicitly bars him from violating them. Since the President is not above the law, any act that is illegal for ordinary Americans, is also unlawful if committed by the President. Since it is illegal for ordinary Americans to combine or conspire with foreign governments or officials to interfere in American elections, it is likewise unlawful for the President to do it. The President is not exempt from the very laws he is constitutionally obligated to enforce.

06/14/2019

DEMOCRATIC DEBATE CANDIDATES

INITIAL COMMENTS RE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES WHO WILL BE DEBATING ON JUNE 26th AND JUNE 27th

Ten Democrats will debate on Wed. 6-26-19 and 10 more will take the debate stage on Thurs. 6-27-19. Before the debates begin, I have the following preliminary thoughts about the candidates.

10 DEBATE CANDIDATES (WED 6-26-19)

SEN AMY KLOBUCHER, MN: (YES) I see Sen.  Klobucher as a credible Democratic choice for President or Vice-President. As a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, she has won statewide. She has experience campaigning in urban and rural areas. She has shown an appeal to middle-of-the-road and independent voters. Amy comes from the Upper Midwest, a region where Democrats must prevail. Trump took Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2016. Klobucher would have the ability to speak to such audiences. I haven’t heard Amy make any outlandish comments of the sort that Republicans could use in negative ads. She is a former prosecutor who chooses her words carefully. There are a few minor flaws in her presentation, but nothing to disqualify her. I would recommend taking a look at her.

SEN CORY BUCHER, NJ: I do not see Sen. Cory Bucher as the best choice for the Democrats in 2020. Although he won in New Jersey statewide, I’m skeptical about his ability to campaign in rural Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn. His experience was as a mayor of an urban city, namely Newark, New Jersey. The issues he experienced are vastly different than those in the rural areas, where Democrats need to win. Also, while it is not his fault, the country recently had a black President, and the novelty of that issue is now behind us. John Kennedy was a novelty when he became the first Catholic President in 1960, but the U.S. has not had a Catholic President since. Biden would be the second. The point is Booker would not receive any help from those who just wanted to elect a black for the first time, as in the case of Obama in 2008. This is not the year to nominate an urban candidate.

SEN ELIZABETH WARREN, MA: Sen. Warren is a creature of the East Coast and therefore not what we are looking for in 2020. She has the dubious distinction of being from Massachusetts, the state that gave us losing campaigns from Michael Dukakis (1988) and John Kerry (2004). It’s easy to brand a Massachusetts liberal and that’s certainly what the Republicans would do if Warren were on the ticket. While she is a professor, who has written detailed policy statements, only a few voters base their votes on such information. They instead look for the “it” factor. Sadly, Elizabeth does not have “it.” Someone I know recently referred to her as a flake. I frankly do not think Warren would beat Trump in the critical battleground states.

GOV JAY INSLEE, WA: Gov. Inslee of Washington State won statewide, but he did it in a left-leaning state. Compare Inslee to Bill Clinton. Gov. Bill Clinton won the governorship of Arkansas as a Democrat four times. He was clearly a tough campaigner, as he was forced to address conservative audiences. He knew how to campaign in battle-ground areas. I’m not sure Inslee would do as well in swing states. He appears to spend much of his time on environmental issues like climate change. While that is ok, as many scholars have said, most eventually vote their pocketbooks. I’m not sold on an Inslee appearance on the national ticket.

REP TULSI GABBARD, HI I am very favorably impressed by U.S. House of Representatives member Tulsi Gabbard. She is a military veteran for peace and the best of the six women in the race. Although she has not won statewide, as a governor or as a U.S. Senator, she has credibility in Washington DC as a member of the House. She has foreign policy knowledge and she looks and sounds Presidential. She avoids the pitfalls of one-issue politics and instead appeals to a broad cross-section of voters. I think she would definitely carry Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn. She would wipe out Trump 60-40, if the election was today. I am not sure why she is not polling better. I would like people to check her out.

REP TIM RYAN, OH: House of Representatives member Tim Ryan of Ohio, who is the voice of the forgotten blue collar worker, would also destroy Trump if he had the chance. I really like this guy. He’s quick on his feet and well-informed. He comes from Ohio, a perennial battleground state. Although he has not held a statewide office, he has a following in the U.S. House. I think the country would embrace him. He’s level-headed. I have not heard him make any comment that could be considered foolish. He is worth watching.

FORMER REP BETO O’ROUKE, TX: While former U.S. House member Beto O’Rouke of Texas is articulate and he “almost” won a U.S. Senate seat in Texas, the bottom line is he did not. Yes, Texas is a red state and we should give him some credit for doing well, but if we put a House member on the ticket, I would select Rep Gabbard for her overall ability, or Rep. Ryan for his appeal the battleground areas of the Upper Midwest. I would not feel bad if O’Rouke were the VP candidate, but I’m still not sure his presence would even help the Presidential nominee carry Texas.

FORMER REP JOHN DELANEY, MD: I have to admit I do not know much about this former Congressman. If we are going to choose a House member, I’ve already mentioned Rep. Gabbard, Rep. Ryan, and former Rep. O’ Rourke. Given the three of them, Delaney would not be on my list.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NY: I do not support Mayor De Blasio. First, he doesn’t hold a statewide office or even a U.S. House seat. While he may know something about New York City, there is a whole lot of territory in between New York and California. I’m afraid the mayor wouldn’t connect in the middle of the country, where Democrats need to win.

FORMER HUD SEC JULIO CASTRO: I get the impression someone asked former HUD Sec Castro to run so there would be a Hispanic on stage. Identity politics is killing the Democratic Party. We have to get away from the “Hispanic candidate,” the “black candidate, the “female candidate,” the “gay candidate” and so on. Divide and conquer is what Republicans do. If Democrats divide themselves up into small fractional camps, all the Republicans will have to do is just sit back and win. I saw Castro on TV a few times and I was not impressed by his performances. I think he would lose to Trump.

10 DEBATE CANDIDATES (6-27-19)

FORMER VP JOE BIDEN: I like former VP Joe Biden. I think he would beat Trump. While Biden is in his late 70s, Trump isn’t far behind. If Biden won, he might become a one-term President due to health, but who knows? I think Biden does have baggage from being around Wash DC since 1972. Why did he vote for the Iraq War? Has he been in DC too long? Is he too beholden to foreign policy interests, who do not have the best interests of the U.S. in mind? Again I would take Biden over Trump any day, but I’m willing to wait and see if someone else emerges.

SEN BERNIE SANDERS, VT: When Sen. Sanders ran in 2016, he nearly won the nomination, because Hilary Clinton was such an awful candidate. This time, with 20 in the race, Democrats have a greater selection, and I’m not sure Bernie will get the nod. Back in 2016, I supported Sanders in the Wisconsin primary, but he raises some issues that concern me. Politics is all about how issues are framed. Bernie calls himself a “Democratic Socialist,” which is ok with me, but that label will certainly be used by Republican henchmen to make ads that may cost Democrats some swing areas. Bernie vocally opposed the Vietnam War, which again was fine, but hawks will use it against him. Let’s remember Trump had multiple deferments. I’d rather vote for an honest antiwar candidate like Bernie than a “chicken-hawk” like Trump. I find it very annoying when a guy like Trump avoids service, but then talks tough with threatens of force. Bernie could beat Trump, but it would be a nail-biter.

SEN MICHAEL BENNETT, CO: I hate to be blunt, but Sen Bennett of Colorado seems somewhat bland. I question whether he could inspire a large turnout. Perhaps I need to hear more from him. I assume he would carry Colorado, but I’m not sure he could do the same in the other Western swing states.

SEN KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, NY: While Sen. Gillibrand is photogenic, she won’t get my vote. I saw her on the News Hour telling the moderator she would be “the woman’s candidate!!!!” That was about as foolish as Hilary going around telling people she was going to “break the glass ceiling.” What bothers me about identity politics is that by appealing to one sub-set of the electorate, they necessarily exclude another group. Why would white male swing voters vote for a female candidate who goes around saying she will be the woman’s President? Why say such things? Why not campaign to all voters? Campaign on issues like foreign policy and the economy. I wasn’t impressed by Gillibrand.

SEN KAMELA HARRIS, CA: I was interested in Sen Harris at first, until I heard that she also fell prey to “identity politics” as she allowed herself to endorse black “reparations,” a losing campaign plank if there ever was one. While slavery was no doubt an abomination, the remedy is not to go into a Northern swing states like Wisconsin and Michigan and to ask the relatives of Union soldiers to pay reparations for a slavery, an institution they never had as a Territory or as a State. Yes, we can have social programs to remedy the long-lasting ill-effects of race discrimination, but the answer is not to use the word “reparations.” Sen Harris convinced me she didn’t think through the issue and that she knows little about the Upper Midwest, swing states once solidly in Abe Lincoln’s camp. Maybe Harris can redeem herself, but like Obama, she can’t be the black candidate. She must talk about representing everyone.

FORMER GOV JOHN HICKENLOOPER, CO: Former Colorado governor Hickenlooper does not have my support. He lacks the “it” factor. There is something about him that makes me think he’d lose to Trump. While I’m sure he would be a fine caretaker in the White House, I question whether he would stimulate much interest in his campaign or defeat Trump.

REP ERIC SWALWELL, CA: House member Swalwell of California hasn’t won any statewide race as governor or U.S. Senator. I’m not sure he made the case as to why he should be on the national ticket. The other four current or former House members will debate on the first night and at least some of them offer strategic reasons for being on the ticket, like Ryan of Ohio or O’Rouke of Texas. Since Swalwell is a white male, he fails to offer what House member Gabbard would bring to the table as an articulate female. I see no place at the table for Swalwell. Run for Senate or governor first.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, SOUTH BEND, IN Mayor Buttigieg sounds great, but he has never won statewide. He in fact recently lost a statewide race in Indiana. By now, it should be clear that I oppose the divisive nature of identity politics. Buttigieg is gay and that’s alright, but the question is whether his status will cost the Democrats swing voters, irrational as that may be. While Pete, as a 37-year-old candidate, is appealing to many young primary voters, we need to be careful not to put someone on the ticket who didn’t even carry his own state.

NO OFFICE MARIANNE WILLIAMSON: I could not believe the PBS News Hour actually gave air time to this candidate. There has to be a threshold for being taken seriously. This candidate has never held any public office of any kind. Under Trump, we’ve been going through a daily White House amateur hour. We don’t need another candidate who knows next to nothing about how the political system works.

NO OFFICE ANDREW YANG: I think I saw this guy speak once. He has absolutely no chance. Without ever holding an elected office, he has no credibility on stage. Frankly, he should not be up there with those who have prior experience in office.

12/01/2018

George H W Bush (1924-2018)

George H. W. Bush, born in Connecticut in 1924, enlisted as a teenager in WWII, and as a Navy pilot, he was shot down by the Japanese over the Pacific, before being rescued by an American submarine in 1944, and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Upon returning home, he married Barbara Pierce in 1945, and they had six children, one of whom would become President. After Bush graduated from Yale in 1948, he moved his family to Texas and founded an oil company.

Bush turned his attention to Texas politics in 1964, as he lost his first bid for the U.S. Senate. Two years later, he won the first of two terms in the House. As a Northern-born Republican in Houston, he supported the Open Housing Act of 1968, but then paid the price, as he lost his second try for the U.S. Senate against Lloyd Benston in 1970.

After President Nixon named Bush UN Ambassador in 1971, Bush became the Chair of the National Republican Party in 1974, and was handed the unenviable job of telling the President he had to resign or face a certain conviction in the Senate on impeachment charges. Once Nixon left office, President Ford named Bush U.S. liaison to the Peoples Republic of China in 1974, and from there, Bush was promoted to CIA Director in 1976.

In the 1980 Presidential Primaries, Bush defeated Reagan in the Iowa Caucuses, but ultimately lost the nomination and instead served as Reagan’s Vice-President (1981-89).

After Bush won the Republican nomination for President in 1988, he picked Sen. Dan Quayle as his running mate, and they defeated Gov. Dukakis in the general election by borrowing Nixon’s Southern strategy, as Bush endlessly ran ads reminding voters that Gov. Dukakis had once paroled a black repeat offender named Willie Horton.

By modern standards, the First Lady was actually a moderate, as Barb favored the Equal Rights Amendment for women and the Supreme Court’s pro-choice decision on abortion. She hugged a baby afflicted with AIDS to demonstrate she had no fear of gays or the illness.

In foreign affairs, Bush looked on with great interest as Chinese students staged a courageous high-profile protest against their totalitarian government in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He simultaneously watched young Germans dismantle the Berlin Wall, during the tolerant era of Soviet leader Gorbachev. He further monitored changes in South Africa in 1989, as President De Klerk unraveled apartheid policies imposed by an earlier racist regime. South Africa released Mandela from prison in 1990 and repealed their apartheid laws in 1991.

While peaceful changes were occurring around the globe, Bush challenged international law as the U.S. military invaded Panama, ostensibly to seize President Noriega in 1989. Bush’s military also acted in the Mediterranean, as U.S pilots shot down Libyan fighters.

As Bush stationed U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia to stage an invasion of Kuwait in the Gulf War (1991), he unknowingly triggered the rage of Osama Bin Laden, who 11 years later would mastermind the 911 attacks our of revenge for what he considered an insult to his Muslim holy land. As Bush imposed sanctions against Iraq in 1991, he unknowingly again set the stage for his son’s subsequent invasion of Iraq, 12 years later.

During the Bush Presidency, Premier Gorbachev, who would be called the greatest man of the 20th Century, stood back in 1991, as he single handedly allowed his various republics to dissolve the Soviet Union. Although Gorbachev could have interfered as the Czechs conducted their Velvet Revolution against totalitarianism, he did not. Likewise Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa was permitted leave the Soviet sphere.

Bur Europe was not entirely peaceful during the Bush era, as the Serbs began what would become a crisis in Bosnia. Bush was slow to act in response in 1992, and the job of doing something about the Bosnian-Serb crisis would be left to President Clinton. Also, in North Africa, trouble brewed in Somaliland in 1991, and after Bush sent U.S. troops to provide humanitarian relief in 1992, that crisis would also be left to the next President.

On the home front, Bush earned points as he appointed David Souter to the U.S. Supreme Court, as he was a moderate, who steered clear of right-wing extremism. Clarence Thomas, Bush’s other appointee to the Court, would however prove to be a disaster.

Perhaps Bush’s crowing legislative achievement was the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990). Conversely, his low skill lottery Immigration Act (1990) would prove unpopular even within his own party.

As Bush watched a brutal beating of a black man by law enforcement officers in Los Angeles in 1991, for the first time Americans actually had video proof of the realities of police abuse. They then had to endure a violent black reaction, as the police who beat Rodney King were acquitted. To his credit, Bush signed a law in 1991 that allowed higher damage awards in Civil Rights cases. As to firearms, Bush deserves some credit for seeking a ban against the importation of semi-automatic weapons in 1992, despite the usual opposition by the National Rifle Association. Barbara also favored gun control.

Bush lost his bid for a second term to President Bill Clinton, thanks mainly to a third party run by the Texas billionaire Ross Perot, who split the vote three ways, and allowed for a Clinton plurality.

In comparison to the current occupant of the White House, Bush I certainly ranks much higher, and he will be remembered as one who handled the job of President with dignity.

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03/16/2017

Presidents Jackson and Trump

by Jeff Brinckman

President Andrew Jackson, put on a militia uniform at age 13, during the American Revolution, and was quickly transformed into an angry young man, upon being captured by the British, and marched 40 miles to a wretched stockade, where his brother would die. He was then cut by a sword for refusing to polish an English officer’s boots. After a case of smallpox, he acquired a lifetime cough from TB, which would remind him from then on of abuses he would never forgive.

President Donald Trump, who has Jackson’s portrait in his office, also had his personality shaped as a teen. Although he avoided the army, despite being of draft age throughout the Vietnam War (1964-73), he was such an incorrigible behavioral problem by age 13, that his parents sent him to the NY Military Academy (1960-64), where he was drilled into an angry dictatorial type we see today. Trump has since looked up to Jackson as a role model, and has followed his playbook.

Jackson did not hide his violent personality. When he married Rachel in 1791, it turned out her divorce papers had not been completed, and she was still her first husband’s wife. After Jackson remarried her in 1794, she was subjected to name-calling. When Charles Dickinson used a choice word to describe her in 1806, Jackson took the law in his own hands, got a gun, challenged him to a duel, and killed him. Jackson would become President despite this well-known homicide.

Trump was also elected despite several well-publicized scandals involving women. His three marriages were to: 1) a Czech model (1977-90); 2) an actress (1993-99); and 3) yet another model (2005). During the campaign, when a political blogger speculated that an older man like Trump could not have married a gorgeous model 24 years his younger, unless she was a high-priced call-girl, Trump defended her honor, sued for libel, and settled recently on favorable terms.

As a candidate, Jackson was radically different from his predecessors. The first six Presidents were well-educated, diplomatic, and enlightened philosophers. Jackson on the other hand was unschooled, undignified, and tactless. He had just joined the Senate in 1823, and when he first ran for President in 1824, he lacked experience. His quick temper and violent propensities sharply distinguished him from the Founders. He was called hot-headed, unfit, and dangerous. He wasn’t taken seriously, as his only claim to fame was his military celebrity from the War of 1812.

Trump’s background also led to assertions he was unqualified, as he totally lacked any government experience, not even a political apprenticeship. During the 2016 campaign, he gained attention by insulting his Republican primary opponents and then Sen. Clinton. He was known basically for his TV celebrity, as he gained headlines with unsupported outlandish claims about the issues.

Jackson’s income came mostly from buying and selling land and from gambling, but instead of casinos, he bet on his own race horses. As a realtor, he knew the Native Americans west of the Appalachians held some of the best farm lands, and he resented it. Although the first six Presidents granted treaty rights to the Indians, Jackson advocated the deportation of all natives from the Appalachians to the Mississippi, and rural whites elected him on that platform in 1828.

Trump’s wealth likewise came primarily from land deals. As a real estate tycoon, he also profited from gambling casinos, multiple bankruptcy filings, a low-level university, and by fighting tax audits. Interestingly, as soon as Trump became President, he figuratively went to war against Native Americans in North Dakota, over a dispute between their treaty rights and an oil pipeline.

Despite a personal conflict of interest as a realtor, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act (1830), which the Cherokees challenged in the Supreme Court, as contrary to treaty law that shielded them from deportation. Five Justices, appointed by the Founders, along with Jackson’s first nominee McLean, ruled (6-1) for the tribe in Worcester v Georgia (1832). But instead of enforcing the law, an outraged Jackson declared: “Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!” As the Indians were pushed west across the Mississippi in IL and WI, the Black Hawk War (1832) broke out, and in the South, a Trail of Tears followed, as natives were marched on foot to Oklahoma.

Trump pursued a similar white racist campaign, as he pledged to deport millions of Hispanics, even though many had ancestors who occupied the Southwest long before the first Anglos arrived. He promoted a populist fiction that North America was originally all-white, as he waged a dog-whistle campaign promising to “make America great again.” Trump’s racism was not limited to Latinos, as he routinely suggested our first black President was not an American, despite Hawaiian newspaper baby announcements that clearly showed President Obama was born there in 1961.

Jackson’s real estate background led him to accuse the East Coast bankers of rigging the money supply to make it difficult for western farmers to obtain mortgages. Upon becoming President, he refused to re-charter the U.S. Bank, arguing it was unconstitutional, despite contrary Supreme Court rulings. When Jackson ordered the Treasury Dept. to withdraw all funds from the U.S. Bank and transfer them into State Banks, Secretaries McLane and Duane both refused, until Roger Taney finally carried out the deed, in an act that would earn him a Supreme Court seat.

As to the banks, although Trump promised to drain the financial swamp, he quickly got knee-deep in the muck by working with the Republicans and Wall Street bankers on a repeal of the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Law, which was designed to prevent another Great Recession.

Jackson resumed trade with the British West Indies (1830), made a treaty with Russia (1832), and negotiated the first trans-Pacific trade arrangement in Siam (1833). Despite his free trade policies, he also took a middle ground by enforcing tariffs. When Sen. Calhoun of South Carolina threatened secession over tariffs, Jackson responded: “If you secede from my nation, I will secede your head from the rest of your body.” Congress quickly gave Jackson a military force to collect tariffs.

Trump also made trade a centerpiece, as his anti-free trade pitch won the election for him in the industrial Midwest. As President, he quickly dumped the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We can soon expect some kind of a deal with Russia. Even if Trump abrogates NAFTA between Mexico, Canada and the U.S., all three nations agreed to the same free trade terms under in the World Trade Organization Treaty, so nothing much will change, and Trump will likely take a middle course.

As to the Supreme Court, in Jackson’s eight years, he nominated six Justices, most of whom negatively impacted jurisprudence. Taney, Wayne and Canton joined in the horrendous Dred Scot (1857) majority, where a (7-2) Court held Congress unconstitutionally infringed on slave owner property rights by banning slavery in the territories. Only one Jackson Justice, McLean, dissented.

Trump will also have a lasting imprint on the Court, as two liberals Ginsburg (83) and Breyer (78), and swing vote Kennedy (80), are already beyond normal life expectancies. In addition to his nomination of Gorsuch (49), if Thomas (68) resigns, Trump may send four more right-wingers to join Alito (65) and Roberts (61), leaving just two liberals, Sotomayor (62) and Kagan (56).

Jackson’s victory in 1828 triggered political party realignments. He didn’t destroy Thomas Jefferson’s “Democratic-Republican Party,” he merely hijacked it and renamed it the “Democratic Party.” A coalition of his opponents formed the Whig Party in 1832. Although the populist Jackson won again in 1832, as did his successor Van Buren in 1836, the Whigs finally took the White House in 1840 and 1848, and later merged with the new Republican Party in 1854.

Trump’s win in 2016 will also lead to party realignments. He didn’t destroy the Republican Party, he simply did a “hostile takeover” and now it’s his. It’s not the Republicans who need reinventing, for that already happened. The Democrats will now need to choose to put on a white face and talk about rural blue-collar economic concerns, or double down on urban social issues for blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, gays and women, and perhaps lose again, yes, to Trump. He may be re-elected, unless something unforeseen happens, like a depression, or a death in office.

Our first great depression was caused by Jackson’s tinkering with the money supply. When he ordered the acceptance of only gold or silver as payment for government obligations, his 1836 policy created gold shortages, triggered inflation, and raised interest rates. The depression that hit just as Jackson was leaving town in 1837, would be blamed on his successor Martin Van Buren. Only time will tell if Trump’s policies will trigger a depression.

As to death in office, Jackson’s closure of the U.S. Bank led to the first assassination attempt on a sitting President. Richard Lawrence, who thought he was King Richard III, and believed the U.S. government owed him money, blamed Jackson for not being paid. So, he took two shots at Jackson outside the Capitol in 1835, but since his gun misfired twice, Jackson was able to subdue Lawrence by using his cane to beat the living daylights out of him.

With modern Secret Service protections, it’s unlikely Trump will be shot, but since he’s over 70, the prospect of a natural death is not outside the realm of possibilities. If Trump survives, and chooses to run again in 2020, he’ll certainly follow Jackson’s playbook. If the Democrats are smart, they’ll take him seriously, and will begin right now studying how Jackson won his second term.

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12/26/2016

WHAT WILL TRUMP DO AT HOME?

Abortion: Trump will soon have the power to nominate Supreme Court Justices. One constitutional issue remains a woman’s lawful right to an abortion. At one point in the campaign, Trump was of the opinion that women who have abortions should be jailed. While that will not happen, the Court is now likely to further restrict 5th and 14th Amendment liberty rights as to abortion. On top of that, the Republican Congress will cut funds for Planned Parenthood, even though 90% of their activities have nothing to do with abortion.

Campaign Finance: With a Republican Congress, there is no hope any useful legislation restricting big money in politics will be enacted. Nothing will change. Lobbyists will continue to inhabit the swamp. Big money will not be drained out of it, as Trump promised.

Cities: Nothing much will change in black inner cities. The Republican Congress doesn’t care much about them and Trump himself knows little about how poor people actually live. Trump said blacks would have to be crazy not to try something new with him, but they knew better, and most voted for Clinton. While Ben Carson and other token blacks will be paraded around by Trump, nothing much will improve in minority communities.

Citizenship: Trump said he wanted to end constitutionally protected “citizenship by birth.” With regards to persons born in the U.S., the 14th Amendment makes it crystal clear that they are both citizens of the U.S. and the state where they reside. Trump apparently doesn’t understand how difficult it is to amend the Constitution. Outlawing citizenship by birth will never happen.

Economy: Trump talks about creating a 6% to 7% growth rate. I don’t think he knows what he’s doing. He’s not going to be able to stimulate such high growth. The greater fear is that his lack of understanding of international trade may trigger another recession or depression.

Environment: There is no doubt the oil and coal industries will benefit under Trump. With an Exxon chief running the State Dept., they will get what they want in global trade. Environment treaties that are in the way will be abrogated. The Keystone Pipeline will be completed. Any Native American who gets in the way will be dealt with the same way the U.S. has always dealt with Indians.

Government: Like most Republicans, Trump said he would eliminate some government agencies and departments. Sadly, the Republican Congress will only propose eliminating the most effective and useful regulatory bodies, and they’ll expect Trump to sign such bills. Since I doubt Trump will actually read any law presented to him, he’ll probably just go along with whatever they give him.

Guns: There is no hope during the next four years that anything useful will be done regarding the proliferation of guns, or the massacres they routinely generate. The Supreme Court will uphold the right wing’s twisted view of what the Founders intended by the Second Amendment.

Health Care: Trump repeatedly said he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The question is with what? He said he opposes the more efficient single-payer model. So, if we continue using private insurance, how are we going to keep working people insured without subsidies? The only alternative is to regulate prices in the health care industry. Since “regulation” is a dirty word to most Republicans, no useful law will come out of this Congress. Health savings accounts are not going to cover galloping inflation rates in the health care industry. There is also little chance a Republican Congress will break up the virtual monopolies that exist in the health care delivery system, or in the pharmaceutical sector. Without subsidized insurance, people will either just die, or they’ll return to the more expensive government-subsidized emergency room.

Presidency: Since Trump has not previously been elected to anything, not even dog catcher, he will be on a tremendous learning curve. He will soon learn that the 435 House members and 100 Senators collectively have much more power than he does. While he can use the “bully” pulpit (a description that certainly fits), Congress controls the purse strings, and nothing happens without money. To be sure, Trump will continue to blame everyone but himself, but in the end, he may be forced to deal.

Religion: The U.S. Constitution endorses no religion. It doesn’t even mention the word “god” or “Christianity.” It speaks of religion in only two places. First, it bars all religious tests, and second, it prohibits an establishment of religion, such as Christianity. A Muslim U.S. Citizen, who happens to be a follower of Islam, is fully protected under our Constitution. Trump cannot do anything to them based on faith alone. He is not going to round up Muslims, or make them register, or do any such things to American citizens.

Retirement: During the campaign, Trump said he would not touch the retirement age. The problem is the Republican Congress doesn’t appreciate how much ordinary elderly people need their Social Security checks, and they will propose to raise the age. If this happens, I would hold Trump to his word and ask for a veto.

Supreme Court: While campaigning, the Republicans made Trump sign a paper promising to nominate one of 11 pre-approved right-wingers to the Supreme Court. Any one of them will be readily accepted by the Republican Senate. As a result, for perhaps another generation, the Court will remain conservative, particularly if Kennedy, the remaining Republican swing vote, or one of the four Democrats retires or dies.

Taxes: Like a typical Republican, Trump promised to lower everyone’s taxes. I’m sure the Republican Congress will gladly give him several tax reduction bills, and he will sign them. As a real estate tycoon, Trump will first and foremost help the real estate industry (as if they need additional tax breaks). He will also cut taxes for big business. The problem with taxes is the Republicans love to spend on costly military adventures, but they fail to raise taxes to pay for them. One thing is almost certain, Trump will not even begin to move us towards a balanced budget, or a lower national debt. The debt will almost certainly get much worse under Trump. I’m still hoping that some whistle-blower at the IRS discloses Trump’s tax records, so we can finally see who he’s been dealing with, and what if any taxes he’s paid.

Transportation: Although the Republican Congress has no use for public works projects that might put regular people to work (as evidenced by their failure to support Obama’s Great Recession proposals), they will throw Trump a bone, and they’ll give him something to sign creating some jobs, fixing roads and bridges in rural areas. This will be so he can say he did something.

Wages: While Trump acknowledged that working people have not had any real wage increases in a long time, there are only a few ways to increase incomes. One is to raise the minimum wage, which is something the Republican Congress will never do. Another is to strengthen unions, which again the Republicans will not do. So, it is unlikely wages will improve under Trump. The only possibility is that they go up due to supply-and-demand employee shortages. If this occurs, it won’t have anything to do with Republican policies or Trump.

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07/26/2016

TRUMP IN A WORD

by Jeff Brinckman

WEALTH: inherited; FINANCES: bankrupt; TAXES: undisclosed, suspicious, evasive; PHILANTHROPY: greedy, self-centered; BUSINESSMAN: gambler, speculator, profiteer; TRUMP UNIVERSITY: corrupt, fraudulent, phony; SHOWMAN: carnival barker, “step right this way,” elixir salesman; MILITARY: deferred, 4-F, unfit; HAIRSTYLE  awful, nasty, ugly

CANDIDATE: opportunist, pretender, impersonator; EXPERIENCE: apprentice, amateur, beginner; QUALIFICATIONS: trumped-up; KNOWLEDGE: minimal, superficial; SPEECH: arrogant, loud, obnoxious; RHETORIC: alarmist, extremist, outlandish; HABITS: exaggeration, repetitiveness, “excuse me”; POSITIONS: contradictory, opinionated, outrageous; SOURCES: inaccurate, incorrect; SKILLS: lacking.

COURTS: litigious, accusatory, argumentative; JUDGES: contemptuous; CREDIBILITY: deceptive, misleading, unbelievable; MORALS: unethical, unprincipled, unscrupulous; HONESTY: crooked, deceitful, untruthful; REPUTATION: character-assassin, shady.

PERSONALITY: disturbed; DELUSIONS: self-importance, grandeur; MENTAL DEVELOPMENT: adolescent, immature, incorrigible; MANNERS: annoying, insulting, rude; RIGIDITY: difficult, obstinate, stubborn; SELF-IMAGE: egocentric, self-absorbed, self-righteous; SELF-WORTH: boastful, conceited, pompous; TEMPERAMENT: hotheaded, irritable; DIAGNOSIS: abnormal, maladjusted, unbalanced; PROGNOSIS: incurable, hopeless.

POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY: dictatorial, tyrannical, totalitarian; FOREIGN POLICY: dangerous, reckless, risky; DIPLOMACY: tactless, imprudent, uncompromising; USE OF FORCE: aggressive, belligerent, naïve; POSITION ON TORTURE: barbaric, uncivilized, against international law; WATERBOARDING: abusive, cruel, misguided.

MUSLIM BAN: bigoted, intolerant, unconstitutional; HISPANICS: judgmental, narrow-minded, prejudicial; OBAMA: birther nonsense; WOMEN: discourteous, insensitive, offensive; RELATIONSHIPS: divorced, promiscuous, disrespectful.

OVERALL: despised, disliked, unpopular; CANDIDACY: absurd, laughable, ridiculous, total disaster; HISTORICAL PLACE: footnote, inconsequential, also-ran; TOMBSTONE: loser.

 

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