WHEN WORDS FAIL – Marilyn Armstrong

I was reading a comment in the Washington Post that followed my own line of thought:


Yes, the politicians are to blame — but so are we. The two trends intersect.The Republican war on science succeeded by making people distrust our medical experts. Next, there are, apparently, many fewer Americans willing to endure even minimal discomfort for the good of us all! 


I understand that politicians — neither Republicans nor Democrats — started the pandemic. And Republicans didn’t “make people” distrust medical experts. We just have an extraordinary number of really stupid people in this country who will believe anything Trump or his menagerie tell them.

That Trump and his menagerie are all liars is true but they couldn’t do it without a lot of stupid, selfish people who choose to believe them. Want to believe them. Because these morons don’t like reality, don’t want to learn, never read books, and ONLY watch Fox News. The concept of research appalls them.They hate educated people and firmly believe their ignorance is as good as an expert’s knowledge.

These are the same selfish pigs who are helping make American the pestilential center of the world. No other country has managed to have behaved as poorly as the good old U.S,A. We are the sickest country in the world and have the kind of citizens living here who think making things worse is okay because it’s their constitutional right to not be inconvenienced by a plague.

I’ve read the constitution. Nowhere does it says that our government can’t inconvenience us. They inconvenience us all the time and to top it off, they are racist and anti semitic.

Today, as the number of COVID patients has risen to an all-time high, Trump’s people went to court to kill Obamacare, The ACA. So that 20 million more people will be unable to get medical care. In the middle of a pandemic. Who are these people? What is wrong with this country? How have the rest of us been so negligent as to allow these insensitive thugs to be in charge? How can we have allowed it to happen? I didn’t vote for this government. Neither did Garry or any of my friends but a lot of people did vote and many of them, without regrets. Some wish they hadn’t, but a lot are still worshipping this sleazebag as if he is some kind of bizarre, larded god.

And more than ten percent of the voters aren’t sure who they will vote for. Aren’t sure? What would make them sure? When we are excluded from the rest of the world because we still have the disease and everyone else got their acts together and got rid of it? When nobody takes this country seriously or trusts us?

I’m boggled. I don’t even have the words to say how bad I feel and how ashamed I am of this country. It really is humiliating to be an American these days. And that is an awful way to feel.

A BRIEF AND BROKEN MINI-HISTORY OF AMERICA – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

America was born bankrupt. We won a war we shouldn’t have won and created a country without any funding or industry. That’s the good part. The rest of it, not so much.

The United States is named that because we didn’t start out as a country. We were 13 colonies, all lined up against the Atlantic Ocean. The original thirteen were  New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.


The thing we had in common was original colonization by England, The French had Maine and the Spanish had Florida. All the rest were added after we became a “single” nation. Thus the United States because, in theory, our Constitution turned us into a single nation: “E Pluribus Unum,” or one from many.

Technically, we are one country. We pay taxes to a central government. The fifty stars on the flag represent all current states. The original 13 colonies are commemorated by a stripe (thirteen stripes) on that flag.

From a cultural and historic point of view, there are huge differences between the fifty states. Texas, for example, was its own country before we took it from Mexico.

California also belonged to Mexico and many of its oldest residents are descendants from the Mexican gentry who stole the land from the Native Americans who already lived there. It’s important to remember that North America was not an uninhabited empty space waiting for Europeans to come and take over.

Nor were the original residents white or English-speaking. The language of California and Texas was Spanish, plus the dialects of Native Americans. English came later. Many languages have been spoken here and still are.

At some undetermined moment in time, pre-Americans decided that if they weren’t going to be allowed to be “real” Englishmen (and vote in Paliament), they might as well do their own thing. A lot of the bruhaha came out of Boston with the infamous tea party et al. We always were a rowdy bunch.

We tried a loose confederacy. It didn’t work. We needed a central government, an army, a navy. An economy other than importing slaves. Money that would be accepted everywhere. (Early on, each state issued its own currency.) Schools, libraries, and industry waited in the wings.

The Constitutional Convention was attended by leading figures from each colony, each of whom had his own ideas about building a country. As a group, they were intelligent, well-educated, and wealthy.

And now, enter slavery.

The North imported Black people from Africa, then sold them to Southern slave traders. Despite rumors to the contrary, there were slaves in the north. But the northern states also had a strong group of abolitionists. Although importing slaves made some people fabulously rich, it wasn’t the basis for an expanding economy. Even families who built their fortunes on slavery weren’t willing to admit it.

The south had other ideas. They had an almost entirely agrarian lifestyle. Slaves were how they managed their huge plantations. If there weren’t slaves, how could they manage to be so rich and powerful? They might have to work! They might have to pay their workers, an idea so shocking to southerners that they would not join the union if slavery was not allowed.

The battle of slavery vs. abolition began before the revolution. The south was wedded to slavery. By the years before the Revolution, the north was getting ready to move on to an industrial economy.

Then came America’s deal with the devil. We did not foresee a union that didn’t include the south, so we enabled slavery.  Which everyone knew was wrong, including the southerners. But money speaks louder than principals as we all have discovered in recent years.

Our Founding Fathers knew that ultimately, there would be a civil war. How do we know they knew it? Because they wrote about it in their diaries and letters. They talked about it and wrote down the conversations. John and Abigail Adams were strong abolitionists. For years, Abigail Adams would not live in the White House because slaves had built it.

We won the revolution but lost everything else.

Battle of Lexington and Concord revolution

A trace of our multi-colonial origins exists. State Governors have a lot of power in their domain. The government of each state is a mirror of the national government. Also, every state in the U.S. has its own little army, the State Militia. Mostly they are used to manage natural catastrophes and rioting. Sometimes we lend our troops to other states who need help. They aren’t always armed, either. They fight fires, save people from drowning, work as medics.
The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard are national — the U.S. armed forces.

FREE WITHOUT BENEFITS


The people who were freed from slavery were supposed to get some land, a mule, and a few cows so they could build their own communities, but these attempts were sabotaged. They stayed in the south and were effectively slaves, but without the benefit of getting housed and fed. Jim Crow filled in for official slavery and when that stopped working, black people moved north in the hopes of building a better life.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Somehow, in the course of years, we also put through a Civil Rights amendment that was supposed to finally put an end to Jim Crow laws and the oppression of Black people. That didn’t quite work out either. Some things are better, many are just the same, a lot is worse.


Question: If our Founding Fathers were so smart, how come they didn’t see that slavery would come back to bite us in the ass?

Answer: They knew it was wrong and knew that it would result in a civil war. They could keep slavery and form a stronger nation, or eliminate slavery and end up with two weak countries, one slave, one free. They chose what they thought was the lesser of the two evils.


It wasn’t the lesser evil. Long term, it was the greatest evil. It has twisted and corrupted our country from day one. Until we come to terms with our deeply racist past, we will never be at peace.

The Right Thing went head-to-head with The Bottom Line. The Right Thing lost. Imagine that!

Meanwhile, back in the Blackstone Valley, the American industrial revolution was aborning. In December 1789, just as the Constitution was passed, Samuel Slater Slater’s Mill was up and running. It was the first successful water-powered cotton-factory in the United States.

Mills grew along the Blackstone from Worcester to Providence, then sprouted by the Merrimack in Lowell, and eventually, throughout New England. Wherever the rivers ran, mills and factories followed.

75-Train-NK-014a

Photo: Owen Kraus

By the early 1900s, the Blackstone River in Massachusetts was grossly polluted. In 1971, the Blackstone River was labeled “one of America’s most polluted rivers” by Audubon magazine. It was a low point for the region. We’re still cleaning up.

72-Heron_145

As for slavery, it’s illegal. But low-end employees of corporations are in no better position than slaves. They work for almost nothing and if they get laid off, their payoff is nothing.

We have a very long way to go.

THE MAKING OF AMERICA – RICH PASCHALL

It Isn’t Great, by Rich Paschall

After 100,000 have died, millions have lost their jobs and America’s cities burn, we can hear the right-wingers now. “You can’t blame this on Trump. This is not Trump’s fault.” But here’s the problem. It IS Trump’s fault, just about all of it.

LIAR in Chief

The amount of lies Trump has told the American people is staggering. This is not just a wild assertion as some on the right side of the aisle may claim.  It is a well-documented fact. This is not just put out there by the Washington Post, but also by many fact-checkers around the country. If the Post is too liberal for you, you can find a variety of sources. If he is talking or tweeting, he’s probably lying. Now he wants to stop Twitter from fact-checking him.

Opportunist  in Chief

Despite something known as the Emoluments Clause, Trump has taken the opportunity to further enrich himself and his rich friends. He plays a lot of golf on the taxpayer’s money, then has the secret service and others in the entourage stay at his lodging, also at taxpayers’ expense. This is the way to funnel your money to himself.

Clause 7   The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

He would not know the meaning of this, nor would he care.

Tax Cutter in Chief

OK, this was never meant to help you.  This was all about giving himself and his rich friends a tax break. In other words, the rich got richer.

Hater in Chief

You may think this one is pretty strong. Am I actually calling out someone as a hater? His whole term in office is about hate speech and defending “some very nice people” with confederate or Nazi flags and automatic weapons.

Anarchist in Chief

The statements by someone already in an office that are meant to undermine local, state, or even federal government are outrageous, to say the least. He has used his position of authority, not to work with others, but to bad mouth mayors, governors and US Senators, and Representatives. His provocative speech has indicated to his base of supporters that it is OK to “Liberate” states. It is ok to challenge public officials. That white nationalist protestors include some very nice people. White Racists, including the KKK, favor Trump. In fact, the KKK endorsed him in the last election.

Mis-manager in Chief

He had the opportunity to take the lead in times of crisis. He blew it. He blamed China, he blamed governors, he blamed scientists, he blamed Obama. He blamed everyone for not getting out in front of this crisis but himself. As we write this at the end of May, the virus is on the rise in many states. Trump encourages the opening of states because it would help the economy. The only thing it may help is the death toll.

Leaders of some countries took early and decisive action. Trump dismissed it
“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”  – January 22nd.

The World Health Organization warned of a worldwide pandemic, Trump called it a Democratic hoax: “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power … to inflame the CoronaVirus situation.”  – March 9th

Other countries took action to help their people. Trump and the Republicans blocked a second stimulus payment. They work toward legislation to protect companies from any liability for forcing employees back to work. They threatened to cut off unemployment benefits. Trump refused to cancel student loans.

Nero in Chief

He may not know how to play the fiddle, but he is doing a good job of pretending to be Emperor while the cities burn.  Here is why it is his fault:

Robber in Chief

Yes, there are people who are taking advantage of a bad situation to do bad things. Some are looting stores for their own personal joy or gain. Some are causing destruction to make one side or the other look bad. As I write to you, my emergency alert on my phone is not announcing bad weather, it is announcing a city curfew.  There is violence in the streets.

There are lawbreakers among the protestors and rioters, that’s for sure. And no matter what any of them may steal tonight or in the days to come, Trump has already stolen from them the most important thing necessary to make and keep America great. He has stolen HOPE. He has left many Americans broken and alone while he sits on his toilet, or wherever, sending tweets of hate into cyberspace. Meanwhile:

  • Is there any hope that situations will improve between big-city police departments and communities of color?
  • Is there any hope that economic opportunities will come to the communities of color?
  • Is there any hope that gun violence and people violence will subside in our country?
  • Is there any hope that immigrant families, ripped apart at the border, will be united?
  • Is there any hope that a leader will step forward and unite America with one voice through this pandemic?
  • Is there any hope that that the poor and middle class will find more assistance during extended unemployment, as other countries have done for their citizens, or will stimulus really be a way to hand more money to the rich?

People who take to the streets in protests that turn violent have lost hope that change will come by any other means. They have been driven down and stepped on and had a knee put to their collective throats. They are sick and tired of it. The words from the Orange Menace in Washington signals to the people of the nation that indeed, there is no hope.

On Monday Limbaugh and Hannity and Trump will all rage away. Will anyone offer hope to the masses?

UP IN THE AIR WE GO FLYING AGAIN, BUT WHEN AND WHERE IS DOWN? – Marilyn Armstrong

It is difficult to find a place to land these days. Not long ago, Garry stopped watching the news. Okay, not entirely stopped, but he has about a five-minute window before he begins to get crazy. At which point I suggest changing the channel would be a better choice than throwing things at the television. We can’t afford another TV and right now, we need one.

We’ve been watching (repeatedly) “The West Wing.” First, because Aaron Sorkin wrote (writes) brilliant dialogue, but mostly because on so many levels, it reminds me of what is wrong with MY party, ye old Democrats. How hard, as a political party, we try to make everyone happy. As a result, we end up making no one happy including ourselves.

When in power, how many toothless bills do we pass that never solve the problem they were supposed to solve because we might offend a Republican, a donor, or some Democrat who’s not on the same page? How hard do we try to be good guys, despite which our “middle of the road” path inevitably ends up with us being crushed by a truck or running down pedestrians.

Right now, our world is a hot mess. We didn’t get to this chaotic position in 2016, though for many of us November 2016 was our wakeup month. We had been heading this way for more than 200-year since the day our founders agreed that slavery — for a while — was okay. Even though they knew it was not okay, they also knew it would lead to war. They were grateful they wouldn’t be alive when the nation erupted.

Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, our Constitution is not a perfect document.

There were and are so many things that need doing, but they never get done. In many cases, some bizarre interpretation of the Constitution is the cause.  Instead of getting money OUT of politics, the Supreme Court managed — by making corporations “people” — to infuse more money into politics.

It’s time to recognize that despite its elegant wording, our constitution needs significant updating. We need to dump the electoral college and become a real democracy.

We need to clarify the meaning of the second amendment which does not mean that anyone can carry a big gun anywhere and if they just happen to get pissed off and start killing people, their having a gun made a big difference in the body count. Guns don’t shoot themselves and people can’t shoot without guns. It’s the combination that’s so lethal. We need to reword the first amendment so we aren’t in a continuous guessing game about what it means. It’s possible we need to rewrite the whole thing in modern English.

We need to punish public bigots. We can’t control what people think but we can control what they spew from their mouths.

Someone should have mentioned that petitions to the government, while not illegal, are ignored completely and accomplish nothing.

We should have a parliamentary government. Even when it is functioning, our government is clumsy and slow. Maybe it’s time to recognize we made a mistake. These days, I feel as if we don’t have a government. Whatever this mess is, it’s not working.

WHY I SIGNED THE HISTORIANS’ STATEMENT ON THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP By SEAN MUNGER

SIGNING THE IMPEACHMENT STATEMENT – SEAN MUNGER

This week I was asked by a professional contact in the history community to add my name to this statement, called the Historians’ Statement on the Impeachment of President Trump. It was an easy call for me to do so. But, as has become evident over the last few days, this statement was much more than just another “online petition.” The historians who have signed this statement, now more than 2,000 of them, have had a measurable impact on the events that occurred in Washington, D.C. this week. Indeed, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi referenced the statement in her floor speech beginning debate on the impeachment of Trump. As you know, the House of Representatives voted to impeach him. We historians have joined numerous other professionals whose expertise is relevant to the impeachment process, such as Constitutional legal scholars and public prosecutors, in stating that impeachment is warranted under the standards of the Constitution.

Some of the historians I joined in signing include Ken Burns (documentary historian), Robert Caro (biographer of LBJ), Ron Chernow (author of the biography of Alexander Hamilton that was the basis of the Broadway musical), John Fea (fellow history podcaster and author of the wonderful Way of Improvement Leads Home blog), Alan Taylor (Pulitzer Prize-winning historian), Matthew Dennis (my former academic advisor), and many, many more.

While the statement speaks for itself, I thought I would add a few words to explain why I signed it.

I marched in favor of women’s rights and solidarity on the day after President Trump was inaugurated in 2017. That action was political. My signing of the Historians’ Statement goes beyond politics.

Reason one: Trump’s actions are unquestionably impeachable.

The Constitution’s standard for impeachment is deliberately vague: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The fact that it’s vague doesn’t mean it’s always difficult to tell when the standard has been reached. The impeachment inquiry has proven beyond all doubt that Trump committed bribery by conditioning aid to the government of Ukraine on their investigation of the Biden family. That’s bribery. As for other “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” it seems difficult to argue that this standard hasn’t been reached either. If we could go back in time to the stuffy room in Philadelphia where the Founders met in the summer of 1787 to create the Constitution and give them the example of Trump’s actions, it’s abundantly clear that they would agree, probably to a man, that this is the kind of behavior they had in mind when they wrote the impeachment clause. The evidence is uncontroverted. I say that both as a historian and as a lawyer.

Reason two: The Constitution and its processes must be protected.

America was created with the notion that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Flawed, yes; imperfect, yes; subject to change in interpretation by future generations who are entrusted with it, certainly. But some things about it are absolute. If the Constitution’s standard for a President’s removal from office is reached, not taking the Constitutionally-required action to set that process in motion does violence to the primacy of the Constitution and its principles. Letting Trump’s unconscionable behavior slide, giving it a pass, is itself an affront to the Constitution and everything it stands for.

The action of impeachment entails considerable political risk. While it’s true that I voted for the other lady (you know, the one who got more votes than Trump did), I’m certainly not happy with the idea that, if Trump were to be convicted, his successor would be Mike Pence, a man whose bedrock principle is that I, as a member of the LGBT community, do not deserve basic human and civil rights, and once in office he’ll likely mobilize the power of the government to strip me of those rights–because he’s done it before. But that’s a political calculation. The risk to the Constitution in turning a blind eye to Trump’s crimes transcends politics, and it should. That’s what the primacy of the Constitution means.

The men who met in this room in the summer of 1787 believed they were serving principles larger than themselves. I think we have to honor that commitment, however imperfect the Constitution was (and still is).

Reason three: Trump must be taught that his wrong actions have consequences.

Even if the Senate takes the cowardly way out and does not convict him, the impeachment of Trump has considerable value on its own. One of them is to teach him something he apparently hasn’t learned during his nearly two years in office: he can’t just do anything he wants, and his bad actions have consequences. Apparently, he has learned that lesson. There is a report out of the White House this week that Trump was surprised, astonished and furious that he was impeached, and that he’s gone through violent mood swings as a result. Indeed, an aide is quoted as saying, “He’s very angry. It’s made a deep impression.” Trump is a man impervious to facts (such as the proven scientific reality of human-caused climate change) and incapable of empathy (such as when he ordered children to be placed in concentration camps). But if impeachment can get through to him on such a deep level, and tell him that his actions will receive push-back, from the Constitution if from no other source, then the impeachment is worth it on that score alone.

Reason four: Historical precedent shows impeachment has the effect of reining in a wayward President’s actions.

If you look back at the two Presidents who have previously been impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, you’ll see that, although neither was removed from office, impeachment had a profound effect on both of them: they took care to stop doing the actions that got them impeached in the first place. Andrew Johnson, in particular, was every bit as pugnacious and defiant about his impeachment as Trump is about his own. Yet, after the impeachment and Senate trial in May 1868, Johnson suddenly went quiet: he stopped trying to interfere with Congress’s power over Reconstruction and he took no significant action for the rest of his term.

Clinton, similarly, toned down his act in his last two years in office. And you can bet that, at long last, for once in his life, he stopped running around with young women and lying about it. Both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were/are deeply flawed men who did monstrous things. But impeachment did put brakes on their reckless behavior. Even as defiant and vengeful as Trump is, I seriously doubt he’ll ever call up a head of state and ask them to interfere in our elections again. There’s no telling what other more subtle effects it will have that can serve the public good.

Andrew Johnson was, like Trump, a racist man, a white supremacist, and deeply incompetent at his job as President of the United States. But, his impeachment in 1868 did have an effect on his behavior.

I don’t like to see our Constitutional system tested and tarnished by the actions of President Trump. Our government has many important things that it could be doing right now, like taking immediate and drastic action on climate change. But the Constitution must be protected, and sometimes its enemies are within the walls rather than without.

I stand by the Historians’ statement. I only hope it’s not too late for our republic to be saved from the damage being done to it by self-serving people like Donald J. Trump.

All images in this article were either taken by me or are in the public domain.

Please check out Sean’s blog at: https://seanmunger.com/

IS RECUSAL IN ORDER? by Gordon C. Stewart – A Relevant Reblog

I had been thinking the same thing, but he says it so much better than I could.


 

Views from the Edge

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has greater reason to recuse himself from participation in the Senate impeachment trial than Jeff Sessions had for recusing himself from the DOJ investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

An online dictionary defines ‘recuse’ as “the withdrawal of a judge, prosecutor, or juror from a case on the grounds that they are unqualified to perform legal duties because of a possible conflict of interest or lack of impartiality.”

Until the day Mr. Sessions made his announcement, the terms ‘recuse’ and ‘recusal’ were unfamiliar to most Americans who work outside the court system. Though Mr. Sessions’ decision angered the president, it was the right thing to do. Senate Majority Leader McConnell should do the same.

U.S. Senate floor

If public perception is nine-tenths of reality, a Senate trial that is not a trial will deepen and spread the cynicism that threatens the survival of…

View original post 365 more words

THE HOW AND WHY OF IMPEACHMENT – Reblog – THE SHINBONE STAR

As much as you may view this as politics, it is also education. Impeachment is a complicated business with a single motive: to protect the American Constitution.

I can see all the sides of this impeachment. I understand why Nancy Pelosi wanted to wait and I can see why she changed her mind. I agree with the three scholars who feel that if Trump doesn’t warrant an impeachment, no one does. On the other hand, I also completely understood the one who felt we needed to give the people time to absorb the data and get on board.

I also understand that since the President’s office has categorically refused to provide any of the documents or testimony required by subpoenas, is there any value in waiting when — even if the Supreme Court nods in the Democrat’s direction — it does not necessarily mean the President or his coterie of evil-doers will comply. It would not be the first time an American President refused to obey an order from the Supreme Court.

So what are we to do? If it were possible — if the election weren’t so close — I would slow it down and allow more Americans to understand why impeachment is critically important to us. 

Is it possible to slow it down? I don’t think so. But I don’t have answers. Just many more questions.


The Constitution gives Congress the authority to impeach and remove “the President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States” upon a determination that such officers have engaged in treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

The last word in this sentence is very important in today’s political world.

Without doubt, Donald J. Trump and members of his entire crew aboard and piloting his Ship of Vipers have amassed enough misdemeanors by their refusal to abide by the numerous subpoenas they are ignoring at his order.

The charge of high crimes and misdemeanors covers allegations of misconduct by officials, such as perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, unbecoming conduct, refusal to obey a lawful order, chronic intoxication, and tax evasion. Tax evasion is a key phrase here and the reason Trump is fighting so fiercely to prevent the House or anyone else from accessing his returns.

The Constitution does not define bribery. It is a crime that has long existed in English and American common law. It takes place when a person gives official money or gifts to influence the official’s behavior in office. For example, if defendant Smith pays federal Judge Jones $10,000 to find Smith not guilty, the crime of bribery has occurred. It seems to fit Trump to a T. Only this time, he withheld money from Ukraine for a political favor against his political opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, and son Hunter.

It should be remembered that the impeachment process is political, not criminal.

According to the rules of impeachment:

  1. The House Judiciary Committee holds hearings and, if necessary, prepares articles of impeachment. These are the charges against the official.
  2. If a majority of the committee votes to approve the articles, the whole House debates and votes on them.
  3. If a majority of the House votes to impeach the official on any article,  the official must then stand trial in the Senate.
  4.  For the official to be removed from office, two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict the official. Upon conviction, the official is automatically removed from office and, if the Senate so decides, may be forbidden from holding governmental office again.

Rule 3 doesn’t give Mitch McConnell or Lindsey Graham — or anyone else the right to block the impeachment.

The oath used today has not changed since 1966 and is prescribed in Title 5, Section 3331 of the United States Code. It reads:


“I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”


In contrast to the presidential oath, where it’s used only by tradition, the phrase “so help me God” has been part of the official oath of office for non-presidential offices since 1862.

Each and every one of them swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

When the subject of an oath arose during the Federal Constitutional Convention in 1787, the founders were divided. Should an oath be required in a free country at all? And should state officials swear allegiance to the federal Constitution, or should federal officials swear to uphold state constitutions as well as the U.S. Constitution?

According to the History, Art And Archives web page of the House of Representatives: “Delegate James Wilson of Pennsylvania viewed oaths as ‘left-handed security only’ and that ‘a good government did not need them and a bad one could not or ought not to be supported.’ The lexicographer and political writer Noah Webster called oaths ‘instruments of slavery’ and a ‘badge of folly, borrowed from the dark ages of bigotry.’ Both Wilson and Webster argued that people would be naturally inclined to support just governments, so oaths were unnecessary.  Many others thought such concerns were overwrought. In his 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story wrote that requiring oaths for government officials ‘would seem to be a proposition too clear to render any reasoning necessary in support of it.’”

The web page continues: “The current practice for swearing-in Members is an innovation of Speaker Nicholas Longworth of Ohio, who abandoned the practice of Members taking the oath by state delegations in 1929. Longworth altered the practice because he hoped the mass swearing-in would better ‘comport with the dignity and solemnity’ of the ceremony and, according to some historical accounts, to avoid a potential attempt to challenge the seating of Oscar De Priest of Illinois, the first African- American elected to Congress in the 20th century.

“While subsequent Speakers went back to the original method, in 1937 Speaker William B. Bankhead chose to return to the en masse swearing-in and this has remained the practice. Since the 80th Congress (1947–1949), Members have also been required to sign an oath, which is held by the Clerk of the House.”

During the Constitutional Convention, James Madison of Virginia successfully argued that an election every four years did not provide enough of a check on a president who was incapacitated or abusing the power of the office. He contended that “loss of capacity or corruption . . . might be fatal to the republic” if the president could not be removed until the next election.

This is an excellent defense to the oft used mantra of “let the voters decide.” George Mason of Virginia proposed adding “maladministration.” He thought treason and bribery did not cover all the harm a president might do.

As we can sadly see, Mason’s fears were well-founded.

If the Founding Fathers could see how our entire governmental process has been stolen by the Republican Party, they would likely suffer apoplexy.

Likely if the Democrats were the target of impeachment charges, they would vote party line to quash the impeachment. It’s how every presidential impeachment attempt has ended.

In a perfect, ethical and moral political world one can only dream that the Democratic Party would stand erect and purge their embarrassment. Obviously, the Trumplican Party will cling to their crooked, vile captain and vote nay. Like Captain Queeg in “The Caine Mutiny,” Donald Trump, Captain of his Ship of Vipers, sits and juggles his marbles — as it were.


Check out the original on The Shinbone Star. They have written some brilliant material that can answer a lot of questions. No, they are not a neutral voice, but they are also right.

TWAS THE NIGHT ‘FORE IMPEACHMENT – NOT BY TOM CURLEY

OK, I have to be honest. I didn’t write this. I wish I did. I found it in the comments section of some article I was reading. I don’t remember the article, I read so many. But I loved this. It was posted by someone called “Zoltan Kamarchuk.”  If he wrote it, kudos to him. If he didn’t, I’m glad he posted it.

I’m currently watching the impeachment hearings against Boss Tweet and thought it would be a  good time to share this.


Twas the night ‘fore impeachment and all through the House
The only thing stirring was Lindsey the Louse.
He placed flowers and notepads in the Chamber with care
and hoped that gosh darn it, the trial would be fair.

McConnell was nestled all smug in his head
With dreams of dismissal and more states turned red
While Trump in his bathrobe hands Melania a box
And then settles in for nine hours of FOX.

When suddenly Grisham burst in on the scene
Startling LIndsey, who he thought quite mean.
Her hands were both shaking, she was white as a sheet
As she held in her hand you-know-who’s latest tweet.

” The trial is a hoax. There was no collusion”
Forget what you saw, it was all an illusion.
The whole things a witch hunt, there’s nothing to find,
That Nancy Pelosi is out of her mind.

Graham jumped into action, he had to be quick
To show his support and not miss a trick
He speed-dialed the number, the signal was sent
But with caller ID, off to voicemail, it went.
Going back to his office, he happened to see
CNN down the hall and decided to flee.
But he wanted to look, so he quickly turned ’round.
And there was Jim Jordan, a publicity hound.

As soon as the camera had half caught his eye,
Jordan tore off his jacket and loosened his tie.
He carefully answered each question he got
With some previous talking point, he had been taught.
The fault wasn’t Donald’s, he said with a sniff
It was Biden and Clinton, Pelosi and Schiff.
The President hasn’t done anything wrong.
He stood up to China. Made America strong.
He gave trillions to farmers and that isn’t all.
He built everyone an un-climb-able wall.
But no moat filled with gators, piranhas or snakes.
That would have stopped ’em. Oh well, them’s the breaks.

Ivanka and Jared were at the train station.
Having both felt the need for a sudden vacation.
They wanted to leave without rocking the boat,
but to stay in the will, they did each leave a note.

Jared’s was quiet, Ivanka’s was sweet.
Donald Junior decided to just send a tweet.
Tiff was in Europe but she had to stay on.
Eric did send a card…that was written in crayon.

Again, to who ever wrote this, well done.
And to all a good night.

IT’S CONSTITUTIONALLY SIMPLE: TRUMP HAS VIOLATED THE LAW: THE SHINBONE STAR – Marilyn Armstrong

From the U.S. Constitution (as amended; emphasis added)

“It shall be unlawful for a foreign national directly or through any other person to make any contribution of money or other thing of value, or to promise expressly or impliedly to make any such contribution, in connection with an election to any political office or in connection with any primary election, convention, or caucus held to select candidates for any political office; or for any person to solicit, accept, or receive any such contribution from a foreign national.”

It’s this simple: Read the Constitution. It states it’s “unlawful” to “solicit” help from a foreign national to dig up dirt on a potential political opponent. It’s a crime. It’s spelled out in black and white for anyone and everyone to read.

The Constitution does not provide a political partisan spin on what’s legal or illegal. The document crafted by our founding fathers — sustained as the foundation for the safety and security of our republic for more than 240 years — is clear, crystal clear on this topic.

To repeat loudly from the Constitution: It’s “unlawful” for any person “to solicit, accept, or receive any such contribution from a foreign national.”

Notice no mention here of any need for a “quid pro quo” to make a solicitation of aid illegal. Simply asking for help is against the law.

Just to make certain the facts of the issue are clear in all of our minds, here’s what pertinent portions of a White House-provided “memo” — a heavily edited and heavily redacted “transcript” of the July 25 phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky — reveals. It’s important to note this is not a “perfect” phone conversation.

UNCLASSIFIED
Declassified by order of the President
September 24, 2019

MEMORANDUM OF TELEPHONE CONVERSATION
SUBJECT: Telephone Conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine
Participants: President Zelensky of Ukraine
Notetakers: The White House Situation Room
Date/Time: July 25, 2019/9:03-9:33 am EDT
Place: Residence

“President Zelensky: … I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people. The server: they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it … Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.

President Zelensky: Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier … I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine … I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you.

The President: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great … The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”

So ignore all the noise that Trump has done nothing wrong, nothing impeachable, coming from the White House and Republican lawmakers across the country as public testimony begins in earnest Wednesday in the House impeachment investigation. All the nonsensical ravings from these lunatic minds are aimed at distracting “we the people” from the “unlawful” (illegal) and corrupt activities undertaken by government officials during the past few months at the direction of the current Oval Office occupant.

Focus on this fact: Trump has violated the law and is feverishly working to obstruct the Constitutionally-authorized impeachment inquiry by ordering White House officials familiar with particulars of the Ukranian phone call not to testify before House Committees involved in the impeachment process.

Focus on this fact: Ignoring a subpoena to testify is an “obstruction of Congress” or an  “obstruction of justice” both criminal acts. So, in essence, Trump is ordering executive branch employees — paid for with taxpayer dollars — to commit a crime

Focus on this fact: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated emphatically that if the House passes articles of impeachment against Trump he will personally make certain the articles are “taken care of.” In other words either no Senate trial or no conviction.

Focus on this fact: House Democrats engaged in the impeachment inquiry continue to work up legislation to address many of the key issues that directly impact “we the people,” including measures on gun control, minimum wage, and health care. These bills once approved are sent over to the Senate where McConnell, in his role as majority leader, ignores them.

Focus on this fact: It’s the “do-nothing Senate Republicans” intent and obsessed with defending an unlawful president who are not going about the business of governing the country. Apparently, they can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

The facts, Constitutionally speaking, show Trump is acting “unlawfully,” attempting to once again solicit help from foreign governments in order to win reelection as president (remember Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in order to get their man into the White House).

Our country, the global community, can not afford to allow this type of anti-American, treasonous behavior to continue. Focus on the facts provided by our Constitution, not the fiction flowing from the White House.

WE KNEW WHO WE’D BE – Marilyn Armstrong

It has been pointed out to me that there’s a lot we don’t know about the people who came before us.

How — why — they dressed and spoke and related to each other as people in their society. We are fuzzy about a lot of cultural material and mostly, we take our best guess as to what they were thinking as they lived from one day to the next in whatever capacity they lived it.

We have no clue about how our great-grandfather confessed his love for great-grandma. We don’t know what words he used, or his tone of voice. We don’t know if they had a moment of passion because they left no evidence for us. They spoke differently, yet surely they held the same emotions we do.  We base our fiction on that assumption.

We could be entirely wrong. It’s guesswork based on some facts.

The United States Slave Trade

On the other hand, we know precisely — anyone could know this because it’s easy information to find. The people who drew up our Constitution understood how deeply wrong slavery was. They knew failing to remove this horror would cause a war. A big war.

Many expressed gratitude they would not live to see it.


They knew right from wrong.

They spent agonizing hours, weeks, months and years writing about it. Discussing it. Keeping notes about what they said and what others said. They didn’t for a minute think building a nation on slavery was “okay.” Abigail Adams, for one, didn’t want to live in the White House — not merely because it wasn’t finished, but because slaves built it. Yet without the compromise of making slaves three-fifths of a person – a person who would never vote or have anything to say about his or her own life – there would not have been a Constitution or a country.

I used to think it was the right decision, but I’ve changed my mind. We should have fought to do the right thing.


When you start doing what you know is evil, righteousness
does not follow.

Getting the country to be a country was, ultimately, what mattered. Under this devil’s decision lay the future in which we are now living.


We didn’t get here by accident. It wasn’t a bad election or even a few. It was not a couple of unfortunate choices. The path on which we are walking was being laid out for us before our nation existed. The issues we now face have always been there. Waiting. 

The northerner’s objections to slavery didn’t mean there were no slaves in New England or New York. Southern plantations bought slaves, but New England sea captains brought them here.

The first port of call for southern slave owners were the slave markets of New York and New England. Until the Constitution when northern slavery was formally abolished, there were plenty of slaves up north, too.

About those Native Americans from whom we grabbed this land and who we slaughtered to keep it? We knew it was wrong.

Maybe not every unread slob understood it, but anyone with a trace of education got it. We still know it, even if we have tried our best to tuck the information as far from “common knowledge” as we can. We don’t want to think about what we did to get this place — and what we are still doing.

Did our ancestors understand this? Yes.

But they wanted this country. They wanted it beyond any moral compunctions. If that meant slaughtering entire tribes — see Andrew Jackson for more on that — so be it. Why should “those savages” get this rich and beautiful country?

They didn’t deserve it. It should be ours. To make this officially righteous, we made up a bunch of crap about white being better than not white, but we didn’t get that from anyone’s religion. We quite simply made it up because we needed to believe it.

So, as has happened throughout history, we did what we wanted. We took everything, killed anyone who got in our way.

We have pretty much continued to do that ever since. Was it the first or last time an invading group of foreigners stole a nation from its native inhabitants? Obviously not.


I do not buy any concept which says “we didn’t understand what we were doing.” We knew. Our ancestors might not have talked the way we do, but they were better at acknowledging good and evil. 

Again: How do we know this? Let me reiterate.

They wrote about it. At great length. In documents, diaries, letters, newspapers, and books. We don’t have to guess: they told us.

What a great job we’ve done with the place!

The reason the Trump White House can do what it is doing is that there’s so much hatred in this country. All he needed to do was play to the haters and leave the windows open.

We don’t know what our so-called “leaders” believe, but we know who and what they hate. I don’t care how many other countries are pursuing the same ugly scene. That doesn’t justify it happening here. If the whole world needs to clean up its act? So be it.


The majority is not necessarily right.

For my entire life, I believed my country was improving and becoming more of what it said it wanted to be. We were struggling but trying to become a moral light in the world.

I’m not seeing that today.

Are there many individuals still fighting the good fight? Yes. But as a nation, that isn’t what I see. I cannot begin to tell you how deeply disturbing I find this. How is your conscience doing these days? Having a bit of a rough patch?

GOOD TIMES, HARD TIMES, AMERICAN PROPAGANDA AND THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong

I never thought America was the international good guy. Read far too much actual — not school — history for that. What I did think is that we had a fundamental sense of right and wrong and that when nip came to tuck, we’d do the right thing … and right had nothing to do with the Soviet Union, either. Remember, that Berlin wall came down when I was pretty young. I really thought — for a while until, like most illusions, it was shattered by reality — that the old U.S.S.R. might, without their antique soviet rulers, be free enough to make good choices.

I remember a world where people were more polite to each other and where however individually corrupt our pols were, they still believed in “the good of the country” above and beyond their individual agendas. That belief has been falling apart with the passing years. I really thought at least some of them cared. I wish I’d been right about that. We could use some caring.

This horror in which we live right now? It didn’t start with Trump. It started when we decided to create a nation, we would allow slavery and it was okay to slaughter the Natives. We sold our collective souls to the devil before we even had a constitution or anything resembling a country. Oh, we had a nicely written constitution and some idealistic people who did some good, sometimes, when they were allowed.

Overall? We have always owed our souls to whoever had the most money because that was what the slavery deal was about — letting the south keep slaves so they could hold on to their plantation and not (heaven forbid) have to actually work.

Standard Oil went half a dozen rounds with Theodore Roosevelt and theoretically, Rockefeller lost over and over in court, but really, he lost nothing. He literally laughed at the court rulings and nothing changed. J.P. Morgan had a good laugh too as TR tried to break up his ownership of the railroads and many other corporations.

Today’s Exxon is Standard Oil with a cooler name. It is bigger, uglier, and more ruthless than ever. Huge corporations never lose, not today or ever. Money is power.

I don’t remember that nearly perfect world, nor does Garry. Maybe only white middle-class people remember it. The rest of us were under no illusions about where we stood in the great scheme of things.

I do remember a world where there was more personal communication between people. There was also more opportunity to make progress in the game of life. Those opportunities have largely disappeared. The big corporations have bought out, sold off, or absorbed most (almost all) of the smaller organizations which had been the stepping stones for individuals trying to climb the ladder.

Today, we are feudal. If we are born a serf, we will die a serf.

There is an assumption by our kids including my granddaughter that we remember a perfect world.

We don’t. There’s a lot of assuming going on. Some old people want to remember that world. Maybe they lived in one of the white suburbs and never had to bump into a dark-skinned person and treat him or her as an equal.

Then again, maybe age has rosied their memories so now they remember what they wish it had been.

Yup. Lots of assuming going on.

I miss people being polite and talking — even arguing — together. I never believed our propaganda, probably because my mother and father didn’t believe it either. There’s a lot of youngsters out there who are so deeply ignorant they think the boomer generation destroyed the world. We did everything. Built the corporations, fought all the wars — even the ones that occurred before we were born.

All of the problems if this world were created by my generation. And probably yours, too.

The level of ignorance and stupidity going around the world is breathtaking. I think I’ve gotten past being shocked. Now, it’s closer to disgust.

War is never out of style. There has always been a war going on as long as I can remember, which goes back to Korea. I remember listening to the news of the war on the radio with my mother. I remember her talking about it, wondering why in the world we were there in the first place? What did we think we were going to accomplish? I must have been four or five, but I understood. How? Maybe it’s not my first life.

We destabilized Asia. That’s what we did. We are still trying to deal with the consequences. Mom was ahead of her time.

Then, later, I was in my mid-twenties. It was during Vietnam. There were protests and I was involved in some. Not most. I had a little one and a fulltime job, so there were time limitations.  I had friends, a husband, dogs, cats, and a house where sometimes it seemed the immediate nation congregated every evening. A lively social life.

I pointed out to my mother (like I had just discovered this, silly child) if we weren’t sending all that money to make war in Vietnam, there would be money to do things here, at home. Maybe we could do something about healthcare.

My husband and I went effectively bankrupt following my spine surgery and we had insurance. It didn’t cover everything and my surgery — and the four months in the hospital which followed — was wildly expensive. I remember asking Jeff if we didn’t pay them, would they take me upstairs and re-break my back? Because we couldn’t pay. We were going to have to pay them off, month by month for years to come.

Then Owen was born with two club feet. It was the final blow. Wiped out. We never rebuilt our finances. Even way back in the 1960s and ’70s, my issue was healthcare because everyone thought their work insurance was plenty. They hadn’t had a major medical crisis. They would learn.

But, I digress.

My mother raised an eyebrow and looked at me. She said:

Thus spoke my mother. Because cynicism isn’t always wrong.

I was taken aback. I thought she was being too cynical. But you know? She was right.

Wars end and the war-making money vanishes. Never does it go toward healthcare or education. It just disappears as if it never existed and no one seems to question it.

Just once more, I’d like to hear our politicians across party lines look for ways to do what’s best for the country and the people they serve.

ABOUT THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE – BETTER LATE THAN NEVER – Marilyn Armstrong

Independence Day Quiz

1] July 4th 1776 is famous for what?

The official signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was completed on July 2nd and hand-distributed to the people at the convention. The 4th is when the printed version was finished and distributed to the colonies.

2] How many American colonies went to war with Great Britain in the War of Independence?

Thirteen. Our lucky number.

3] Where was the first shot fired in the American Revolution?

Either Lexington or Concord. Garry thinks it was Lexington. The actual battle was fought on a field between the two towns (they are very close together) and is recreated annually at dawn on April 19th (1775). That’s why we have a Massachusetts holiday called Patriot’s Day on or about the 19th of April. It’s a state, not a national holiday. That’s when we have the Boston Marathon. It’s a big deal, at least in Massachusetts.

I’ve been to the recreation of the battle a couple of times when Garry was covering the story.

4] Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?

Philadelphia. Independence Hall. Been there. Have pictures.

5] Which Founding Father did NOT sign the Declaration of Independence?

Robert Livingston — who was one of the authors — felt it was too early to declare independence and didn’t sign.

“Founding fathers” isn’t a real “thing.” The people who signed the Declaration of Independence were the heads (governors and senators or just really rich guys) who controlled the colonies rebelling against George III –and were important members of their houses of Congress or otherwise elected officials.

There were other people who were significant in the founding the country though many were not important until AFTER the war was over, like Hamilton who was essentially a kid when the declaration was signed. So many who did not sign it hadn’t achieved the status they got after the Revolution. Also, some were very young when the Declaration was signed. They were founding fathers too, but a bit young to be signing anything.

Not everyone who was later very important to the country was a member of the group who wrote and released the document. And yes, Benjamin Franklin definitely DID sign. He was the Ambassador (one of them) to England and France, so he was there. And he signed. He was also very important in convincing the southern contingent to sign the Declaration AND the Constitution — and sadly, one of the people who helped keep this a slave-owning country. I understand why he did it, but it was the Devil’s bargain and we have paid heavily for it.

Many of the people who DID sign the Declaration of Independence were not founding fathers, but they were important to the states they represented. Probably anyone who signed the Constitution was a founding father, but that was in September 1787 — eleven years later and a very different thing.

The founding of this country wasn’t an event. It was a process. As I said, “founding fathers” isn’t an official thing. There’s no list of who they were because essentially everyone who was important in creating the government for the first few dozen years was a founding father.

Signers of the Declaration of Independence:

      • John Adams
      • Samuel Adams (John’s cousin and later the guy who made beer — really, no kidding and his family still make beer and ale)
      • Josiah Bartlett
      • Carter Braxton
      • Charles Carroll
      • Samuel Chase
      • Abraham Clark
      • George Clymer
      • William Ellery
      • William Floyd
      • Benjamin Franklin
      • Elbridge Gerry
      • Button Gwinnett
      • John Hancock
      • Lyman Hall
      • Benjamin Harrison (grandfather of the Benjamin Harrison who became a U.S. President).
      • John Hart
      • Joseph Hewes
      • Thomas Heyward, Jr.
      • William Hooper
      • Stephen Hopkins
      • Francis Hopkinson
      • Samuel Huntington
      • Thomas Jefferson
      • Francis Lightfoot Lee
      • Richard Henry Lee
      • Francis Lewis
      • Philip Livingston
      • Thomas Lynch, Jr.
      • Thomas McKean
      • Arthur Middleton
      • Lewis Morris
      • Robert Morris
      • John Morton
      • Thomas Nelson, Jr.
      • William Paca
      • John Penn
      • Robert Treat Paine
      • George Read
      • Caesar Rodney
      • George Ross
      • Benjamin Rush
      • Edward Rutledge
      • Roger Sherman
      • James Smith
      • Richard Stockton
      • Thomas Stone
      • George Taylor
      • Charles Thomson (Secretary, attested to Hancock’s signature)
      • Matthew Thornton
      • George Walton
      • William Whipple
      • William Williams
      • James Wilson
      • John Witherspoon
      • Oliver Wolcott
      • George Wythe

There were TWO signings.

The first, before it was printed and distributed took place on July 2, 1776. Everyone signed the official and PRINTED version (July 4, 1776). This is a well-argued point of historical order. Most people feel anyone who signed the final printed version is “official.”

6] When did July 4 become a federal holiday?

In 1870 it became a national holiday. However, unofficially, it was celebrated from the beginning, especially in New England.

7] Name of the film starring Bill Pullman, Will Smith & Jeff Goldblum

Independence Day, but it had nothing to do with Independence. I always wondered how Goldblum’s computer worked after running full on for more than a week without ever being recharged. I want THAT battery.

8] Which president was born on July 4?

Calvin Coolidge.

9] But which presidents died on July 4th?

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died simultaneously on July 4,  1826. Ironic, because they were enemies and hadn’t spoken to each other for many years. I think they had reestablished a written relationship toward the end of their lives. Weird, but true. Monroe died on the 4th in 1831.

10] Name of the film starring Bill Pullman, Liam Hemsworth & Jeff Goldblum

Independence Day 2 or whatever they named it. I did not see the movie, not even on TV.

11] Which monarch reigned over the colonists at the time of the American Revolution?

George III

12] Who said, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me Liberty or give me death!”

Supposedly Patrick Henry in a speech he gave in the Virginia House of Burgesses. He didn’t sign the Declaration either and he isn’t a founding father, but he did make great speeches.

13] Which is the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence?

John Hancock. He was also the richest signer of the Declaration, so maybe that’s why he signed it so big.

14] Who was appointed as the commander in chief of the British army in America in April 1776?

Howe, I think. I forget his first name. He was not the last or only one. There were a bunch of them.

15] “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”? is found on which document?

Declaration of Independence. But they didn’t mean anyone who wasn’t white. Some people meant it (the northerners), but the rest of them didn’t.


And how, you ask, did I actually know this stuff off the top of my head (no, I didn’t look it up except for the second Independence Day movie which I’ve never seen)?

Glad you asked. I judged the history category of the Audie Awards for a couple of years. One year, I swear I listened to a thousand pages of American history, mostly about the revolution and the Constitutional Convention. I hadn’t done much reading in that area of history, but I sure did catch up!

Also, note that George Washington was not a “founding father” because he wasn’t part of the group who wrote the Declaration. He WAS part of the group who wrote the constitution. He gained a lot of points for winning the Revolution.

RURAL LIFE AND THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Los Angeles County is bigger in population than at least 40 entire states. Not only does it have a huge population — more than 10 million and counting — but it is physically bigger than the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Probably physically larger than a few other states, too — like Rhode Island and Deleware.

This is because in California, they can (and do) keep making counties and cities bigger and bigger as the population swells. Other places have a thing called “city and county limits,” but California doesn’t. In California, there are no limits.

Because L.A. County is so big, many people declare that the Electoral College is a scam. This presumes that the only criteria for power ought to be population density. In a pure democracy, which the U.S. isn’t, that would theoretically be true.

In fact, almost no country is a pure democracy. In most parliamentary countries, you are not voting for individuals but a party platform so even though a very unpopular government can be brought down for a new election, who actually represents you? It’s up to the party. If we think party politics is totally nuts in this country, trust me, it’s wacko most other places too.

In the U.S., we believe in bigger is better. Take away the Electoral College and the largest, most densely populated areas would rule the country. Is that good or bad?

I suppose that depends on whether you agree with whoever wins and whether or not you believe they are going to address your local issues.

I understand people who live in big cities will definitely feel they get cheated by the electoral college because it’s intended as a field-leveling tool. It’s not democratic and it’s not supposed to be. But, in the U.S., our motto has always been “bigger is better.” Whether it’s businesses, cities, schools or whatever — we like’em big. More always wins while less doesn’t count.

The problem is, I think I should count too, no matter how big Los Angeles County becomes.

The electoral college is not a scam. It has been grossly mismanaged and misused, but the concept is sound. It has needed a massive, non-political overhaul for a very long time. As a result of gerrymandering and political chicanery, it may finally be obsolete, but that’s because we’ve turned it into yet one more political football. If we lost the electoral college, what will be the next political football? I’m sure we’ll find one.

If we want to retain the concept of being a “Constitutional Republic,” we need a better way to count votes. We also need more votes from more people in more places. We need a fully voting population of at least 50% because otherwise, how can we claim that most people are represented when most people don’t vote at all?

The point of having an Electoral College was to prevent Los Angeles, New York, and Texas from overwhelming Worcester County or for that matter, all of New England from Connecticut to Maine.

In a town like this where we don’t even have a bus or a taxi, how likely are we to have similar requirements to Los Angeles or New York or even Boston? I’m from New York and I love it, but this town has different needs. Large cities would barely consider Uxbridge worth noticing. Even in Massachusetts, Boston and its nearby suburbs get most of the attention — and the money. The rest of us in more rural areas — actually rural is most of the Commonwealth — we beg for scraps.

What if Boston itself becomes one of the scraps? Where do we fit in then?

If only big cities run everything, what happens to small towns? Will anyone notice we’re here? Would anyone care we’re here? I’m not sure anyone cares now, so are rural areas officially obsolete?

We don’t even make it into the weather reports.

Before everyone jumps on the “ban the Electoral College” bus, maybe you should wonder if the place you live would fit into a world where only big cities seem to have a say in what gets done.

Does the Electoral College need overhauling? Absolutely. But maybe not elimination. It isn’t a scam. It is, however, a major constitutional issue that urgently needs repairing. It was never supposed to be a political tool — for either party. Like so many other parts of our government, it is being used for purposes for which it was never intended. Kind of like the Senate and maybe, the Supreme Court. And the presidency.

TERM LIMITS ARE A REALLY BAD IDEA – Marilyn Armstrong

So you believe term-limits will solve our political problems.

Interesting.

Why would you think that? Are “old timers” in Congress the problem as opposed to the bloated egos and narrow minds of Tea Partyites and Trumpets? How about those right-wing religious nutters? Most of them were just recently elected, have no understanding of how government works, and to top it off, care nothing for America.

 

Exactly what problem do you think you solve by making terms shorter? Is that likely to attract better quality candidates? Will it convince people to vote for better candidates? Doesn’t our most recent presidential election prove that people will vote for a bad candidate even when all logic and reason should tell them he or she will not serve their interests?

So you believe we will get better government if no one in congress gets to stay for a long time. Why would inexperience result in better government? Would you choose an inexperienced surgeon? A lawyer fresh out of law school? A barber who has never cut any hair? In what field do we prefer raw recruits to proven veterans?

Oh, right, the presidency. How’s that working for you?

Why do you want amateurs making your laws?


Our founding fathers specifically excluded term limits. Their experience under the Articles of Confederation (the document that preceded the Constitution) proved to them that good people are not interested in temporary jobs for lousy pay in a distant city. The people elected to office under the Articles walked away from their positions — or never took them up in the first place.

There saw no future in it.

When the Constitution was drawn, its authors wanted to tempt the best and the brightest to government service. They wanted candidates who would make it a career. They weren’t interested in amateurs and parvenus. The business of governing a nation has a learning curve. It takes years to get the hang of how things work, how a law gets written. How to reach across the aisle and get the opposition to participate.

The Articles of Confederation contained exactly the ideas people are promulgating today. They failed. Miserably. Do we need to learn the same lesson again?

The absence of term limits in the Constitution is not an oversight. The writers of the Constitution thought long and hard about this problem.

A little more history


Under the Articles of Confederation, our country fell apart. Elected representatives came to the capital (New York), hung around awhile, then went home. Why stay? The job had no future. Their salaries didn’t pay enough to cover their costs while serving and nor pay enough to keep their families alive.

Term limits were soundly rejected at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. They were right. The Constitution aims to get professionals into government. Term limits remove any hope of building a career in government. It becomes a hard temp job without a future.

Myth Busting 101: Congress isn’t overpaid


Maybe they are paid more than you and me but compared to what they could be earning elsewhere, they are paid poorly. What you cry? How can that be?

Most members of Congress are lawyers. The 2011-2012 salary for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate was $174,000 per year. A third-year associate at a good law firm will do that well and after six to twelve years (1 – 2 senate terms), a competent attorney in a good market makes much more.

Senators and representatives have to maintain two residences, one in their native state, the other in DC. If you think $174,000 will support two houses and send the kids to college, you are living in a fantasy world. Which is why many members of Congress have other income streams.

Curiously, our Founding Fathers expected congressmen, especially senators, to be men of means. They felt only wealthy people would be able to afford government service. And they would be less susceptible to bribery. On the whole, they were right. What they didn’t foresee was how many kinds of corruption would be available. Bribery is the least of our problems.

Skill and experience count


Writing a law that can stand up to scrutiny by the courts and other members of Congress takes years. You don’t waltz in from Anywhere, USA and start writing laws. Moreover, great legislators are rare in any generation. A sane electorate doesn’t throw them away.

We are not suffering from an entrenched group of old-time pols stopping the legislative process. We are suffering a dearth of the old guard, the folks who understood how to work with the opposition. It’s the newly elected who are stopping progress.

Sadly, our savvy, experienced Senators and Congressional professionals got old and retired. Or died. They have been replaced by imbeciles.

Above and beyond the skill it takes to write legislation, it takes even longer to gain seniority and peer respect. Frank Capra notwithstanding, Mr. Smith doesn’t go to Washington and accomplish miracles. Newly elected congresspeople hope to build a career in politics. With luck, one or two of them will become a great legislator, a Tip O’Neill, John McCain, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Bob DoleTed Kennedy or any of the giants. Anyone you name connected to important legislation was a multi-term representative or senator.

Term limits eliminate great legislators


Term limits guarantee a bunch of amateurs — or worse — fumbling their way around Congress. As soon as they figure out where the toilets are and get reasonably good at their jobs, they’ll be gone. Does that make sense? Really?

Garry and Tip O’Neill

If you think your congressman or senator is doing a crappy job, replace him or her with someone you believe will do better. That’s a fine example of term limits.

Don’t elect them if you don’t believe in them


We have term limits. They are called elections.

Throw the bums out. Vote for the other guy. Term limits were disastrous in 1788 and they haven’t improved with the years. Watch the news to see how our wonderful, inexperienced government is doing. If that doesn’t argue against the treasured (but stupid) belief that what Washington DC needs are outsiders, I don’t know what will convince you.

We have outsiders.

Assuming we survive 45s reign and are still a democracy, we will need intelligent, knowledgeable people to set America back on course.

We don’t need term limits. We need better candidates, better representatives. We need men and women willing to learn the craft, who have ideas and can work with each other and other nations to get America’s business done. Our government does not rest on the Presidency. It rests on 435 congressmen and 100 senators.

The President isn’t supposed to run the country


Congress writes legislation and votes it into law. Ultimately, it’s you, me, our friends and neighbors who choose the people to make laws, pass budgets, approve cabinet members and Supreme Court justices.

Whatever is wrong with Congress, it’s OUR fault


The 435 members of Congress are chosen by us and if you don’t like yours, don’t vote for him or her. If someone gets re-elected over and over, you have to figure a lot of people voted for him or her. You may not like him, but other people do.

That’s what elections are about. It doesn’t necessarily work out the way you want, but changing the rules won’t solve that problem. Make the job more — not less — attractive. Treat candidates better so qualified people will want to work in government. Otherwise, you’re creating a job no one wants.

Be careful what you wish for.

Ultimately, it’s all about America. Partisanship, special interests, regional issues, party politics, and personal agendas need to take a back seat to the good of the nation. We need to agree what that means, at least in broad strokes.

If we don’t know what we want from our government, we won’t get it. Term limits won’t fix the problem, because that’s not what’s broken.

Vote for people who believe the good of the country is more important than their personal agenda.

Vote for intelligent people who understand compromise, who have an understanding of law, justice, and believe in this country and what we supposedly stand for.

That will produce a change you will like.