DRINKING THE NEWS – Garry Armstrong

Manhattan in the mid-’60s.

I was a newbie newsie at ABC News. The kid reporter among guys who’d worked for Ed Murrow and shared tall tales about Mayor LaGuardia, Governor “Beau Jimmy” Walker, Tammany Hall grifters, speakeasies, Jazz and an era that had gone with the wind before I arrived.

I was plopped in the middle of middle and old-age, usually White guys who took no notice of my skin color unless they were talking about Joe Louis, Lena Horne, or Jackie Robinson. The jibes were about individuals — not marked by race, sexual preference or religion.

Sometimes they laughed about “pretty boys” but that usually was about fellas who were light on work effort and heavy on looking good on camera.

The bartender and owner who was usually an Irishman. He ran the local numbers game and was an off-the-books source of loans if you were short. He usually broke up the noise if the conversation bordered on trouble.

He nodded at me. It was an inference: “Hey, watch it. The kid is here.” Not sure if I appreciated being a greenhorn among the grizzled guys. Lots of famous faces came in, usually tired, looking for a little respite and no hassles.

I absorbed the stories which, years later, became woven into my own tales. Funny thing, most of the chatter, although fueled by booze, was intelligent, sharp, witty and observant of the times.

A decade later, I was in the world of Boston bars. I became a familiar face, popping up on the tube pretty much every day. Chasing bad weather and bad hombres. The conversations were animated — VERY animated if they concerned the Red Sox “Curse of the Bambino”, and another pennant lost to those damn Yankees. There were rumors about lobbyists greasing the pockets of certain pols, queries about the availability of “Tommy, The Torch” and his crew

Whispers about “Whitey” and the latest bloodbath in territorial “hits.” Now, I knew who was who and played dumb when asked for the inside stuff. There was always a fresh drink to maybe loosen my tongue. No, there was never enough booze for that.

There were the lawyers in their rumpled suits, complaining about Judges they swore were in the pockets of people who went unnamed.

There was a bar near Fenway Park which gave me the greatest joy. Baseball players, sportswriters and sports wannabees came and went leaving us with a goldmine of baseball info. Once I was “in.” I was “golden.”

I loved kicking back the rounds, swapping stories with no fear of insulting anyone. Pesky “pilgrims” were quickly shown the door before they became the source of brawls. Many “tips” were turned into legit stories which solidified my notion that I was working.

It was a bar where religious leaders could bend elbows with wiseguys and, sometimes, you couldn’t tell who was who.

Those were the days, my friend.

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST, A REALLY IMPORTANT POST THAT EVERYONE SHOULD READ

Trump would have been charged with obstruction were he not president, hundreds of former federal prosecutors assert


From left, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr. (From left: Charles Dharapak; Jabin Botsford; Bill O’Leary/AP; The Washington Post)

May 6 at 2:00 PM


More than 450 former federal prosecutors who worked in Republican and Democratic administrations have signed on to a statement asserting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings would have produced obstruction charges against President Trump — if not for the office he held.

The statement — signed by myriad former career government employees as well as high-profile political appointees — offers a rebuttal to Attorney General William P. Barr’s determination that the evidence Mueller uncovered was “not sufficient” to establish that Trump committed a crime.

Mueller had declined to say one way or the other whether Trump should have been charged, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, as well as concerns about the fairness of accusing someone for whom there can be no court proceeding.

“Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice,” the former federal prosecutors wrote.

“We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment,” they added. “Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here. . . . But, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice — the standard set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution — runs counter to logic and our experience.”

How Barr appeared to misrepresent Mueller’s findings

Attorney General William P. Barr repeatedly appeared to misrepresent or misstate special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings on May 1. 

The statement is notable for the number of people who signed it — 375 as of early Monday afternoon, growing to 459 in the hours after it published — and the positions and political affiliations of some on the list. It was posted online Monday afternoon; those signing it did not explicitly address what, if anything, they hope might happen next.

Among the high-profile signers are Bill Weld, a former U.S. attorney and Justice Department official in the Reagan administration who is running against Trump as a Republican; Donald Ayer, a former deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush Administration; John S. Martin, a former U.S. attorney and federal judge appointed to his posts by two Republican presidents; Paul Rosenzweig, who served as senior counsel to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr; and Jeffrey Harris, who worked as the principal assistant to Rudolph W. Giuliani when he was at the Justice Department in the Reagan administration.

The list also includes more than 20 former U.S. attorneys and more than 100 people with at least 20 years of service at the Justice Department — most of them former career officials. The signers worked in every presidential administration since that of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a federal prosecutor before he became a lawmaker, joined the letter after news of it broke, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted his support for its premise .

The signatures were collected by the nonprofit group Protect Democracy, which counts Justice Department alumni among its staff and was contacted about the statement last week by a group of former federal prosecutors, said Justin Vail, an attorney at Protect Democracy.

“We strongly believe that Americans deserve to hear from the men and women who spent their careers weighing evidence and making decisions about whether it was sufficient to justify prosecution, so we agreed to send out a call for signatories,” Vail said. “The response was overwhelming. This effort reflects the voices of former prosecutors who have served at DOJ and signed the statement.”

What’s in the Mueller report?

A redacted version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report was released to the public on April 18. Here’s what’s in it. 

Weld said by the time he reviewed the statement, it already had more than 100 signatures, and he affixed his name because he had concluded the evidence “goes well beyond what is required to support criminal charges of obstruction of justice.”

“I hope the letter will be persuasive evidence that Attorney General Barr’s apparent legal theory is incorrect,” he said.

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department referred a reporter to Barr’s previous public statements on the subject.

Many legal analysts have wondered since Mueller’s report was released whether the special counsel believed he had sufficient evidence to charge Trump and was just unwilling to say it out loud.

By the report’s account, Trump — after learning he was being investigated for obstruction — told his White House counsel to have Mueller removed. And when that did not work, according to Mueller’s report, Trump tried to have a message passed to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of Mueller’s authority. Of that episode, Mueller’s team wrote there was “substantial evidence” to indicate Trump was trying to “prevent further investigative scrutiny” of himself and his campaign.

“All of this conduct — trying to control and impede the investigation against the President by leveraging his authority over others — is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials and people in powerful positions,” the former federal prosecutors wrote in their letter.

They wrote that prosecuting such cases was “critical because unchecked obstruction — which allows intentional interference with criminal investigations to go unpunished — puts our whole system of justice at risk.”

Mueller’s team, though, wrote that it decided not to make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” in part because of the Justice Department opinion on not indicting sitting presidents and because the evidence obtained “presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved” if they were to do so.

“At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mueller’s team wrote.

After receiving Mueller’s report, Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein reviewed the case themselves and determined the evidence was not there. He offered a robust defense of that decision at a recent congressional hearing, detailing for lawmakers possible defenses Trump could have raised in each episode.

“The government has to prove things beyond a reasonable doubt,” Barr said. “And, as the report shows, there’s ample evidence on the other side of the ledger that would prevent the government from establishing that.”


I do not usually reblog items from the Washington Post, but this article is so important, I felt it deserved the bigger airing. I am a subscriber and I find it frustrating that I can’t make some of these posts available, but usually, I assume someone else will post the same material. I’m sure someone else will post the material, but nobody writes it better or with more clarity than the Post. 

This is a completely non-profit blog (I wish it were a little less non-profit) so this is truly public service!

TO IMPEACH OR NOT? IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION? – By TOM CURLEY

RDP-Sunday– ROAD

Ever since the Mueller report came out, sort of, the topic on most people’s mind (or at least all the pundits on cable news) is whether or not to start impeachment hearings against the Twittler-in-chief.

In the last few weeks, with the addition of Attorney General William (I’m Trump’s Roy Cohn) Barr it has become clear that this administration has thrown any and all respect for the constitution out the window.

Then they went outside, peed on it, shit on it, let it dry out and peed and shit on it again. They are refusing all subpoenas issued by Congress. They are not allowing anyone to testify in front of any Congressional Committee. Even though many of those people don’t even work for the government anymore. The AG has lied to Congress and then refused to show up for a House Committee hearing because he didn’t want to be questioned by an actual lawyer!

The administration has said to Congress “FUCK YOU!” We don’t care if we’re breaking the law. What are you going to do about it?

Here’s the thing. No administration has ever done this before. Yet another “political norm” bites the dust.

What has become abundantly clear in the last two years is that our government has lasted for over 200 years because the people in it had some sense of civility. Some sense of decency. Some sense of shame. We never realized how much of government relied on everybody “doing the right thing.” We all just did it. It wasn’t written “black letter law.”

Then along came Cheesy McCheese Head.

A man with no civility. No sense of decency. No sense of shame. No regard for “Political Norms.” And as far as anyone can tell, no conscience.

If it isn’t written down as being illegal, fuck you, he’ll do it. And his and the whole Republican Party’s attitude is “even if it is written down, even if it is against the law, fuck you, we don’t care. What are you going to do about it?”

Here’s the most depressing thing. It turns out that Congress may not have much they can do about it. They can issue a subpoena, which in our previous reality was a really big deal. But this administration has just said “Fuck you, we don’t care. What are you going to do about it?”

Turns out they can hold a person who ignores a subpoena with a Contempt of Congress citation. Oh, that’s bad, right? What happens then? Congress sends the contempt citation to the Department of Justice, who then brings the cited individual up on criminal charges.

What if the person under the contempt citation is the HEAD OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT? What does he do?

Nothing. He ignores it. Fuck you. What are you going to do about it?

Congress requests the President’s tax returns be made available under an ironclad law written in the 1920s after the Tea Pot Dome scandals. They were intended to make sure no President or administration can hide corruption.

It was written to leave no wiggle room for a President or member of his cabinet to weasel out of providing those returns. So what does the Secretary of the Treasury, a person who has no right to interfere, do?

You guessed it. He says “Fuck you, I’m not going to allow that to happen. What are you going to do about it?

Theoretically, Congress can take all these issues to court, where they are on solid ground and will probably win. They always have in the past. What the current Supreme Court would do is questionable.

All the lower courts are going to say is, “Are you fucking kidding me? This is illegal as hell. Honor the subpoenas and turn over his friggin’ tax returns.”

Okay, they probably wouldn’t say friggin’. I’m just making a point. I like to speak in the vernacular. Okay, that’s not true either. I just wanted to use vernacular in that sentence.

The problem is, all of that would take a lot of time and we need speed. There is a good chance even if Congress wins, the administration will still say, “Fuck you. We’re not going to do it. What are you going to do about it?”

What can Congress do at this point? They have a thing called “Inherent Contempt” which allows them to actually jail someone they hold in contempt and fine them.

But their “jail” is merely a room in Congress’s basement. The Sargent-at-Arms of the House of Representatives doesn’t have a large force of well-armed troops.

That option is iffy.

You want me to do what? Are you kidding me? All I’ve got is this old sword! WTF!

So the only thing left that Congress can do is Impeach the mother-fucker. Not my quote, but a quote from a member of the House, the Speaker of the House, and many top Democrats are resisting this.

Their reason? They know the Senate will never convict, so why bother?

Because they have to do something. They simply cannot allow all of this to happen and do absolutely nothing, even if the end result isn’t an actual conviction.

Their reasoning is badly flawed but I understand why they think this way. When the Republicans impeached Clinton the majority of the country didn’t want them to do it. They did it anyway. On their own. On a party-line vote.

The result? The House Republicans impeached. The Senate didn’t convict. They knew the Senate wouldn’t convict when they impeached him. They did it anyway.

When it was all over? Clinton’s approval ratings were in the ’70s.

So what? The Republicans won the next election. Granted the won because the Supreme Court appointed Bush as President, but nonetheless, they ultimately won.

Why were Clinton’s approval ratings so high? Because the MAJORITY of Americans thought getting impeached because you lied about getting a BJ from a consenting adult was bad, but NOT AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE!

The group MoveOn.org was created because most Americans wanted to “Move On” from this silly impeachment bullshit. Back then, I was working for CBS News Up To The Minute news.

Every night, we would air a three-minute piece about how the latest polls showed most Americans didn’t give a crap about Clinton’s affairs. No one wanted more stories about Monica Lewinsky.

The very next piece was inevitably about Monica Lewinsky.

After months of this, one night I asked the line producer if he actually watched the news block he just produced. He replied, “What do you mean?”

I replied, “You just aired the umpteenth poll showing how nobody cares about Monica Lewinsky and the Clinton scandal and your next piece is about Monica Lewinsky.”

His reply? “What’s your point?”

To this day, after 40 years of working in Network News, I still don’t exactly know what a news producer does. Now that I’m retired, I’m not sure I care.

The difference between then and now is simple. Back then, the majority of the country thought to impeach Clinton was silly. He got a blow job.

This president is under 14 CRIMINAL investigations — not counting the Mueller report — which documents at least 10 instances of provable obstruction of justice.

Now he is obstructing Congress daily — in plain sight! The overwhelming victory for the Democrats in 2018 was due to the majority of Americans wanting this President to be reined in.

To be impeached. Speedily. Then sent forth to a place of imprisonment, clapped in irons at least until his political string runs out forever and we know he can’t come back.

It looks bleak. The checks and balances of this country and our Constitution contained some serious hidden flaws. Mainly, the Founding Fathers assumedand we all know what assumed means — that the members of Congress would do their jobs.

Which is checking and balancing and keeping the country on an even keel.

The Republicans are not doing that. The current administration isn’t following the Constitution. Essentially, they are spitting on it with the result that our system is falling apart.

The reason we are not impeaching is that the House of Representatives know they can’t get a conviction in the Senate. This is totally stupid.

Only two and a half Presidents have been impeached. Nixon only counts as a half because he was never impeached. Congress was going to impeach him, but he quit before they could do it. In the other two cases, Clinton and Lincoln’s Vice President Andrew Johnson were impeached, but neither was convicted, although Johnson came close.

He won by only one vote. And that guy had to be brought into the Senate on a stretcher. He was near death. Nobody’s ever been convicted by the Senate. So that’s not an excuse to not impeach.

Here’s my argument. No, sorry, it’s not my argument. It’s from a far more reputable source than me. Who?

Otter.

Who’s Otter? I’m talking about Otter, the character from the movie Animal House played by Tim Matheson.

Specifically, the scene where Dean Wormer has closed down Delta House and the whole fraternity was getting thrown out of their frat house. Otter comes into their living room after just having the crap beaten out of him by the bad guy Frat house Omega Theta Pi.

And here Otter gives the speech that drives the rest of the movie. And this speech should drive all of us now.

“Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!”

And there you have it. It appears to be a futile gesture and thus stupid. But this situation absolutely requires a stupid gesture to be done on somebody’s part. We’re the only ones who can do it.

It will most likely fail, but we have to try. Hell, it can be the Democrats campaign slogan. “We Tried to Impeach the Mother Fucker. What Do You Want From Us?”

The only problem is WTTITMFWDYWFU doesn’t fit on a hat.

We’re going to need a bigger hat.

FOWC with Fandango — Speed

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.

DO WE WANT TO ELECT ANYONE? – Marilyn Armstrong

I was just glancing through another post on The New Yorker asking whether Joe Biden is electable.

I have read similar stories in the Washington Post and other newspaper, online and offline about every potential candidate. It’s almost as if we don’t want to find a viable candidate because there’s something wrong with everyone.


I have a hot flash for you:
NO ONE IS PERFECT.

There is no perfect candidate waiting to run for office. There may be perfect people — somewhere (though I’ve never met one) — but none of them are interested in politics. Personally, I doubt there is a perfect person anywhere and if there is, I’m sure he or she would run screaming in terror should someone suggest they run for office.

We have turned running for office into the worst job interview on Earth. We are dredging up everything and anything that anyone ever did, no matter how many years ago it happened. We are dredging this stuff up without any context, either. Without any attempt to understand what else was going on.

Let’s take Joe Biden. He was not perfect. He has been in office for 50 years and has done stuff about which I’m sure he is ashamed and embarrassed. On top of everything else, he is being picked on for being “too huggy.”

Too huggy?

Seriously?

We have a racist pig as president — and you want to disqualify a man who is too friendly in a non-sexual way?

Do you want to re-elect Trump?

Everyone has stuff in their past they would just as soon not make public. Me too. You too. My husband, my friends, my son. I’m sure even my dogs have something about which they would be embarrassed if they could remember that far back, but being dogs, they are more interested in right now and when is dinner?

At a time when we should be looking for reasons why a person might BE electable, we are doing that classic Democratic “let’s pick apart every possible candidate, disqualify all of them, then pick someone who offends nobody and also has nothing of value to offer anyone. Let’s run him or her for office and be shockedSHOCKED! … that he or she is not elected.

We’ve done it before and we seem to be ready to do it again.

Banning Kate Smith for a recording she made decades ago, probably because her record company told her to do it and in those days if your bosses said “Cut this record,” you cut that record.

Actors made movies they hated and about which they still can’t bear to speak. People said things they didn’t mean, or intended as jokes. Are bad jokes enough to keep you out of office? Meanwhile, no attempt is made to figure out what the context was that created what was done or said. We ask for perfection from candidates we never require of ourselves.

Are we going to hold every single thing that anyone has ever done or said against them?

I know if someone asked me to run for office, I would say “Not on your life.” Garry was actually asked to run — locally — and said “No way.”

No one wants to do it because they know they are going to be shredded. Torn to bits by their own party, the press, bloggers and for all I know, their own family. If we are going to turn all potential candidate into bad people for something that happened a long time ago, we aren’t going to have anyone worth electing. There needs to be a limit to anyone’s liability for things that weren’t even crimes.

Okay, if he turns out to have been a murderer or bank robber or treasonous … but that’s not what’s happening. We not looking to see if someone actually did something felonious. We’re just looking for anything, everything, even nothing.

Indiscretion is not a crime. Even bad jokes — 30-year-old bad jokes — are not a crime. If you look at some of our great presidents, they were far from perfect men. Both Roosevelts had plenty of lumps and bumps and a few shameful incidents to boot. It didn’t mean they weren’t great presidents.

Maybe some personal indiscretions should be left in the dusty closets where they have been lying all these years. Some of these folks have good ideas. Vision. They might be great if you give them half a chance.

If we are going to demand perfection, we will get the kids no one liked in school. Our candidates will all be losers. Not Trump’s version. I mean real losers.

If we cannot tolerate anything living people do in the course of life before we allow them to be a candidate for office, the only people who will run for office will be people no one wants.

The priggish. The voiceless. Those who have no opinions, no vision. The intellectual who doesn’t know how to talk to “real” people. The stupid and the unthinking.

We are approaching that stage now.

How else do you think we got Trump? And the rest of his party of bottom-feeders?

PROUD TO BE CIVIL – Marilyn Armstrong

Politically correct. What outrage that term produces! How dare anyone tell me how to behave, how to speak? I can say anything I want. I mean … look at our president!

Yeah. Look at our president. Take a good look.

To be politically correct means to tread carefully on other people’s feelings and sensibilities. I’m for that.

Around here, “P.C,” means you can’t go around spewing racist epithets thinly disguised as humor or these days, as pure hatred. PC is designed for all the morons, bigots, racists and the socially challenged. It is a simple rule: “DON’T SAY THAT,” works much better than sensitivity training.

So many amongst us have no sensitivity to train.

Even if the morons who insist they don’t mean it — in which case why are they saying it? — I feel any rule or law that protects me from having to listen to hate is political capital well spent.


I would not call it political correctness.
I would call it civility.
Good manners.
Common decency.

If anyone feels that not calling other people insulting names is cramping their style, these are the exact people for whom these rules were intended. These are precisely the folks who most need them. Normal people have enough intelligence and good manners to know when to shut up without being told. They don’t need those rules. They already “get it.”

For everyone else, we have rules. Call it whatever you want. PC, good manners, civility, sensitivity, or politeness. It’s the same thing.

When we are amongst friends and we know each other well, we relax, let out guards down. Especially when we are a minority among others like us with similar culture and history, it’s all good. We are family, we act silly like family. But if you are not one of us, leave your mouth outside. I don’t need to be insulted. I don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Many people still think racism is sort of cute. I think they should be eliminated from the gene pool.

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION FOR THE UNKNOWING – Marilyn Armstrong

Every nation revises history. They leave out the bad bits  — slaughters of the innocent, unjust wars against minorities and civilians. They invent heroes, turn defeats into victories.

American history is no different.

It’s relatively easy to make our history match our myths when such a large percentage of U.S. citizens haven’t learned any history since third grade. There’s some question about how well third-grade lessons were absorbed. Recent studies show a troubling pattern of ignorance in which even the basics of history are unknown to most of our natural-born citizens. Ironically, naturalized citizens are far better educated. They had to pass a test to become citizens. The rest of us got a free pass.

College students don’t know when we fought the Revolution, much less why. They can’t name our first president (George Washington, just in case you aren’t sure). Many aren’t clear what happened on 9/11.  I’ve been asked which came first, World Wars I or II — indicating more than ignorance. More like deep stupidity.

All over Facebook, morons gather to impress each other with the vigor of their uninformed opinions. They proclaim we fought the Revolution to not pay taxes and keep our guns. Saying that’s not how it happened is insufficient. I lack the words to say how untrue that is.

Why did we have a Revolution? How come we rebelled against England rather than peaceably settling our differences? Wouldn’t it have been easier to make a deal?

Yes, it would have been easier to make a deal and we tried. Unfortunately, it turned out to be impossible. We fought a revolution when we exhausted every peaceful option. Petitions and negotiations failed, but we kept trying, even after shots had been fired and independence declared.

We didn’t want a war with England. There were lots of excellent reasons:

      • Our economy was entirely dependent on trade with England. Through English merchants, we could trade with the rest of the world. Without them, we were stuck with no trading partners or ships
      • We were ill-equipped to fight a war
      • We had no navy, no commanders. No trained army. We barely had guns
      • Our population was too small to sustain an army
      • We had no factories, mills or shipyards
      • We relied on England for finished goods other than those we could make in our own homes, including furniture, guns, clothing, cutlery, dishes, porcelain
      • We needed Britain to supply us with anything we ate or drank (think tea) unless we could grow it in North America.

All luxury goods and many necessities came from or through England. We had some nascent industries, but they were not ready for prime time. It wasn’t until 1789 we built our first cotton-spinning mill — made possible by an Englishman named Slater who immigrated from England and showed us how to do it.

Our American colonies didn’t want to be Americans. We wanted to be British. Why? Because there was no America. There was no U.S.A. Creating the U.S.A. was what the war was about, although taxes, parliamentary participation, and slavery were also major components.

We wanted the right to vote in parliamentary elections, to be equals with other British citizens. The cry “no taxation without representation” didn’t mean we weren’t willing to pay taxes. It meant we wanted the right to vote on taxes.

We wanted to be heard, to participate in government. Whether or not we would or would not pay a particular tax was never the issue. Everyone pays taxes — then and now.

We wanted seats in Parliament and British citizenship.

King George was a Royal asshole. His counselors strongly recommended he make a deal with the colonists. Most Americans considered themselves Englishmen. If the British king had been a more flexible, savvy or intelligent monarch, war could have been averted. We would be, as the Canadians are, part of the British Commonwealth. There would have been no war. A bone-headed monarch thought a war was better than compromise. He was a fool, but it worked out better than we could have hoped.

Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown

We declared war which many folks here and abroad thought was folly. We almost lost it. We would have lost were it not for two critical things:

      • British unwillingness to pursue the war aggressively
      • French ships and European mercenaries.

Without French assistance and hired mercenaries from central Europe, we would have been squashed by the British who were better armed, better trained. They had warships and trained seamen to man them.

We didn’t have anything like that. French participation was the key to possibly winning the war. Oh, and we promised to pay the war debt back to France. Lucky for us, they had their own Revolution, so when they asked for the money, we said “What money?”

Just as we considered ourselves English, albeit living abroad in a colony rather than in England, British soldiers and commanders were not eager to slaughter people they considered Englishmen. They didn’t pursue the war with the deadly determination they might have. If they had, who knows?

Did we win because the British were inept and couldn’t beat an untrained ragtag rabble army? That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

I side with those who think the British found it distasteful to shoot people with whom, a short time before, they had been friends and with whom they hoped to be friends again. And of course, many British soldiers had family in “the colonies” and vice-versa. It was a painful fight, similar to a civil war.

Boston massacre

Many British citizens sympathized with the colonists including a big percentage of troops. Sympathy ran high even in the upper echelons of the British government. Many important people in England were none too happy with King George. They did as they were ordered but without enthusiasm.

No one in the British government — or high up in the army — believed the colonies had any chance of winning. They were convinced we’d work it out by negotiations. Eventually. Many felt the fewer people killed in the interim, the lower would be the level of hard feelings afterward.

The Beaver and the Tea Party Museum in Boston

But, there was one huge miscalculation. The British did not expect the French to show up. As soon as the French fleet arrived, a few more battles were fought and the British went home. Had they pursued the war with vigor from the start, we wouldn’t have lasted long enough for the French to get here, much less save our butts.

British surrender at Yorktown

The mythology surrounding the American Revolution is natural. Every nation needs heroes and myths. We are no exception. Now that we have grown up, we can apply some healthy skepticism to our mythology. We can read books and learn there’s more to the story than what we learned as kids. Like, the second part of the Revolutionary War also known as “The War of 1812.” It was really the second of two acts of our Revolution — which we lost fair and square when the British burned Washington D.C.

We did not win the Revolution. We survived it. Barely.

Andrew Jackson’s big win at New Orléans in 1814 kept the British from coming back. The battle took place a full 10 days after the war ended. Losing it would no doubt have encouraged the British to return, but the Battle of New Orléans was not decisive. By then, the war was over.

Battle of New Orleans (10 days after the Revolutionary war ended)

No one had a cellphone, so they didn’t know the war was over. I contend the course of history would be very different if cell phones were invented a few centuries earlier.

Only crazy people think guns and killing is the solution to the world’s ills.

Guns and killing are the cause of most problems. It horrifies me such people gain credence.

Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown
Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was no better form of government than ours — or at least as ours used to be. No government offered better protection to its citizens.

Intelligent people don’t usually throw away the good stuff because someone lost or won an election, or a jury brought in a bad verdict. At least that’s what I used to believe. I’m not sure I was right.

An educated citizenry and a free press are our best defense against tyranny. As long as you can complain openly and protest vigorously against your own government, and the people on TV and the news can say what they will about the government — whether or not we agree with them — we are living in a free nation.

That’s a rare and wonderful thing.

Ignorance is the enemy of freedom.

It allows fools to rush in where angels would never dare. Support education. Encourage your kids to read. Let’s all read.

Education benefits everyone.

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