Passing and Impeachment…

I guess one can’t write about politics without mentioning the passing of George H. W. Bush, aka Bush 41 so…

One down, one to go…

The truth is, I suspect Bush 41 was the last President of the United States from the old order.  Reagan began the coup but 41 failed to follow through.  Reagan initiated the government-strangling tax cuts for the wealthy.  41 used the policy to get elected but when he saw the damage that was already starting, he raised taxes again.  BAM!  One term President.

But Clinton returned to the plan, finalizing the destruction of independent media, and each “President” since has moved forward with the Oligarch-supporting arrangement.  (Republicans do it nakedly, aggressively.  Democrats have to pretend to “lose the fight” but the result is always the same: comfort the comfortable, afflict the afflicted…)


SO…Paul Manafort is playing both sides of the fence, is he?  It will be interesting to see if the so-called “President” (or, in this case, Trump) will try to give him a pardon.  If he does, it will certainly set up a Constitutional crisis.  See, Article II, Section 2, subsection 1 of the Constitution of the United States grants the President the power of pardons “…except in Cases of Impeachment.”

I suppose those trying to defend this train-wreck of a human being will argue that since Trump hasn’t been impeached he still has full authority to grant pardons to anyone.  Sure, that would be stupid but that doesn’t mean his apologists won’t argue the point, like, forever.  The reason it’s a stupid argument is that it takes time to build a case for impeachment.  If the President (or in this case, Trump) can just pardon people for participating in impeachable crimes as they occur, it would become literally impossible to impeach any President (or even Trump).  Cons would only acknowledge this, though, if the President in question had a ‘D’ after his name…

BUT…if Manafort is being prosecuted for crimes like money laundering and other white collar crimes that have nothing to do with the President (or in this case, Trump), then Trump should, by rights, have the authority to pardon Manafort.

Also, what if it’s an impeachable offense but nobody it planning an impeachment?  I suppose the newly Democratic House can draft Articles of Impeachment even knowing the Senate won’t ever follow through.  That could stop Trump from pardoning his cronies willy-nilly.

Does the United States have a President or a dictator?  The whole world waits with bated breath…


I’ve noticed a fairly new trend: Democratic party members are starting to inhabit faith-based politics in a way previously seen only in conservative circles.  The Dems have been selling a story about what happened in the 2016 “election” and insisting that everybody agree with the tale.  Progressives, who prefer facts and therefore reject the party line, are written off as “purists.”  If you want to be a mainstream Democrat today, you’ve GOT to subscribe to the ‘Russia-did-it’ story.

I’ve even seen loyalist Democrats in social media gleefully declaring “Fuck the WWC!”  (‘WWC’ is ‘White Working Class.’  In context, they actually mean non-college educated white working class because of their beliefs about who voted for Hillary and who didn’t.  It’s part of the faith message and helps them protect themselves from the reality that many (most?) of those with degrees qualify as ‘white working class’ as well.)  The message they seem to be trying to convince themselves of is that college-educated, party-loyal Dems no longer need the support of independent Progressives.

I’ll tell you this: I suspect they’re trying to press the message because they’re planning on running Hillary again.  I guess time will tell how well that works out for them…

On Freedom…


Recently, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this “freedom” my conservative brethren are always on about.  I’m not sure I know – hell, I’m not sure THEY know – exactly what it is they’re referring to.  Then I see the above meme.  It’s AWESOME as a piece of political propaganda but has little or nothing to do with reality.

I’m a progressive.  I think this means I’m at liberty to speak for all progressives everywhere on every topic that might come up.  So, speaking for every progressive in the history of progressives, I can say with 100% certainty that nobody is asking anybody to give up their “religious liberty, guns, and free speech” and I feel certain that, on the subject of taxes, progressives would simply prefer that the very super-duper, hyper-wealthy participate in our society at the same rate as they extract from our society.

Look, I don’t care which invisible super-friend you choose to “worship”.  I just don’t want you making actual rules in real-life based on your delus…er…”beliefs.”  I don’t care if YOU have a gun.  I would just like to find a way to keep them out of the hands of crazy, stupid, and/or irresponsible people.  “Free speech”?  Wait a minute…wasn’t it conservative George W. Bush who introduced the concept of “Free Speech Zones”, thereby implying that there are places in America that may not be eligible for free speech?

Does this not mean, then, that the “freedom” conservatives are “defending” is a fantasy position?  Sure, that has the advantage (to the thought shapers) of being an area of discord they can mine endlessly.  That is, since the “freedom” conservatives seek seems to be fantasy-based, it can never become reality and conservatives can be stirred up about it always and forever.

I’d like some help from my conservative friends out there.  What IS the “freedom” you seek?  Are you looking for the “Jeremiah Johnson, mountain man” freedom where you do exactly what you want, when you want?  That doesn’t exist.  It didn’t even exist for him.  Even mountain men had rules of acceptable behavior.  The issue becomes much more clear when one considers this question: What about when the OTHER “mountain man” exercises HIS “freedom” to do what HE wants all over YOUR “freedom” to do what YOU want?

There’s an old adage out there that says that your freedom to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.  It’s a metaphor, although I submit that it’s quite literally true, as well.  Basically, it means you really can do pretty much what you want – until it interferes with someone else’s ability to do what they want.  (And vice-versa, of course.  It’s not “aimed” at conservatives…)  Don’t we, the people need an arbiter?  I know conservatives support the court system but are you REALLY saying that the same (or similar) conflicts should be litigated over and over and over again?  Jeez, talk about frivolous lawsuits…

Setting aside the fairly recent trend of special interests buying protective legislation, most rules and – dare I say – regulations are about balancing the “freedoms” of one individual or group against the “freedoms” of another.  There are so freaking many of us, it can sometimes be a tricky situation.  Of course “the arbiter” doesn’t always get it right or sometimes conditions change.

I’ll tell you this: If the “freedom” you demand is the “freedom” to prey on society, I’m not on board and I never will be on board.  So, please…tell me.  I’m asking because I want to know.  What, exactly, does this “freedom” you seek look like?

A Right to Health Care?

Recently, I’ve seen an increase in the assertion that Americans don’t enjoy a right to health care.  I’ll stipulate that I don’t see anywhere in the Bill of Rights any kind of statement that says anything like, “All Americans have a right to health care”, ok?  Agreed.  But don’t jump to the end.

Starting at the beginning of the Constitution, one discovers the founders expressed their opinion about why this new government should exist in the first place.  They defined, in general terms, their vision of the most basic responsibilities of government.  They wrote:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (sic), promote the general Welfare (emphasis added), and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Only 26 words into the document it says: “…promote the general Welfare…”

I started thinking about the word “Welfare” as it might have been understood in the late 18th century – as opposed to today’s social safety net.  Checking my (admittedly not 18th century) dictionaries, I found that my American Heritage Dictionary defines welfare as “Health, happiness, and general well-being”.

I turned next to the Internet and the Oxford English Dictionary.  OED is one of the most respected dictionaries of the English language.  Ok, they charge for access so I looked at the Compact Oxford English Dictionary online.  They define “welfare” as “the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group”.

Turns out, one can’t define welfare – as it relates to the human condition – without including health.  Well, in fairness, Webster’s tries.  They leave out ‘health’ and put in ‘well-being’ but when you look up ‘well-being’ in the same dictionary, it specifically includes “the state of being…healthy…”

The Founders were a clever group of guys with a solid command of the English language.  I think they knew what the word ‘welfare’ meant when they wrote “promote the general Welfare”.  They could have written, “promote the general health, happiness and general well-being” but they didn’t need to.  There’s a word for that: welfare.

If one plans to take the position that Americans don’t have a “right” to health care since such a right is not clearly delineated in the Bill of Rights, then one must simultaneously argue that one does not enjoy a right to vote.  Voting, after all, is not spelled out in the Bill of Rights, either.

But whether or not one defines health care as a “right”, certainly the Founders described it as a fundamental function of government and I’ll tell you this: without question, I have the right to expect my government to perform its most basic functions…

(Note: this is a re-post from 2010.  I like to do that from time to time, just to show how the situations change but never change.  This essay had been correct for years before I wrote it and it’s still correct seven years AFTER I wrote it.  Damn.  The “edit” is because I forgot to add this note so I was just basically plagiarizing myself…)

When Rome Looked Like the US…

Fortunately, I’m good at depression.  I mean, I’ve been practicing for years.  After awhile, you don’t really expect to feel…anymore.  You work out ways to get through another day without spewing – to the extent possible – your internal darkness around everywhere.  People prefer jokes and smiles.  I can do that, normally.  But it’s got me today.

I spend a lot of time with history.  I spend a lot of time paying attention to the “doings” of politics.  I’ve been watching a war play out daily in this once great nation for something like 35 years and I pretty much see the end-game in progress.  It’s the war between the “haves” and the “have-nots” – a class war the “haves” initiated with the “election” of Ronald Reagan and the “have-nots” didn’t even know they were – or should have been – fighting.

One can see the parallels in this once-great nation to two different periods in time: France, just before their revolution and Rome, just as the Republic failed and shifted to empire.  Neither period proved beneficial to the increasingly impoverished masses.  In BOTH cases, the rich were doing just fine.  Too fine, some might say.

Today, I’m more focused on Rome.  Most people know about the Roman Empire.  Many people don’t realize the empire was born a Republic.  They even had a Senate.  Today, history understands Julius Caesar as Rome’s first Emperor but nobody called Caesar the Emperor at the time.  The people of Rome, the work-a-day folks going about their business, didn’t even realize a change had occurred.

Caesar maintained the Senate.  He even allowed for the presence of dissenters, so long as there weren’t so many as to create actual dissent.  The creep of empire was relatively slow.  Romans didn’t go to sleep in a Republic one night and wake up in an empire the next morning.  That’s not how it works.  It’s a slow but steady movement away from the norms of Republic to new “norms”.  Things that aren’t supposed to be…but are anyway.

Things like enriching oneself and family by not only accepting but openly requesting emoluments from people who have business with the ruler; “tributes”, let’s call them.  Systematically replacing people trying to do the Republic’s work with toadies who will do as they’re told and NEVER counter the ruler is another step in the parade to authoritarianism.  A larger governing body – in Caesar’s case, a Senate – that refuses to stand up to the abuses of the ruler in order to protect their own positions, or in the belief that they’re doing so, until it’s far too late.

Yes, the Roman Senate eventually stood up to Caesar but the damage was done.  Rome maintained the trappings of a republic but was never a true republic again.

As it stands right now, it seems like the American Congress is going to support Trump regardless of how outrageous his or his family’s behavior becomes.  It appears, to me, like the transition is pretty much complete.  It all LOOKS the same.  We still have a Congress but they’re clearly not going to challenge Trump.  We still have a “Supreme Court” but they’ll keep making decisions that serve the privileged elite at the expense of the masses.  For many of us, the day-to-day realities of just getting through will seem unchanged.

In France, once the aristocracy had just gone too far for the masses to tolerate, the people rose up in one national riot and began lopping off heads – some deserving, some…not so much.  Maybe the same thing will happen here so the US won’t get hundreds of years as the dominant empire of the day.  But a Reign of Terror as the “hopeful” offset to brutal empire?

I’ll tell you this: I find it all pretty depressing…


Yesterday Guiding Tomorrow…

This once-great nation was first established under the Articles of Confederation.  The Articles called for a weak central government with a strong emphasis on states rights.  It lasted about ten years before failing.  The time came to replace the Articles of Confederation and the members of the Continental Congress looked at other governments around the world.  They had the advantage of history to guide decisions they were making about the future…

When Alexander Hamilton was establishing the economy of the United States after the Constitution we all recognize today was created, he looked again to historical examples.  He was able to pick and choose the parts that worked well and discard things that hadn’t been as successful…

These days, I find myself using the same techniques to try and divine the future and offer up some ideas that I think might help in the next iteration of the United States.  If the inference is that the United States 1.0 has failed, I believe it.  I can explain but that’s not what I’m on about today.  For now, suffice to say there’s going to be trouble in the country.  Big trouble.  It’s a prediction of history.  My concern, here, is that when it happens, I fear the uprising will throw the baby out with the bath water by which I mean they may decide that, because the Constitution failed, they should go in some other direction.

But I think our Constitution was very well done.  It didn’t fail so much as it was “undone.”  As it happens, it needs only a few tweaks here and there to correct the errors that allowed the selfish few to bring it down.  The problem, as I see it, is one of those that have existed since time began: everyone thinks of themselves as ethical and upright.  This means the Congress critters of the late 18th century were not concerned enough about instituting controls over themselves or certain protections which have proven necessary over time.

So I’ve looked outward and backward and attempted to pick and choose ideas that will help when it comes time to start again.  I’ll give you an example.  After years of study and consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that the loss of the independent media in America was the single most important victory for the privileged elite who mean to turn this country into their own personal fiefdoms.  They managed it by simply buying most of the media outlets.  Now we don’t get actual news anymore.  Now we get “infotainment” and there’s nothing people can do about it…because of the First Amendment.  You see, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech but freedom of speech includes freedom to lie.

I wouldn’t change that for individuals but accurate information is vital to the survival of a free society.  Unethical individuals have proven, now, that the destruction of accuracy in media equates to the destruction of the Republic.  It might seem as though the balance  – individual freedom of speech vs a requirement for honesty in news – is too difficult to achieve but look at one small addition to the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  Notwithstanding this guarantee, any organization that purports to be a news agency may not deliver false or misleading information.

One sentence.  It’s not even MY sentence.  I borrowed it from a successful model: Canada.  It does nothing to stop the Rush Limbaughs of the world and it shouldn’t.  Opinions are opinions and everyone has one but news…well, that’s important.  When websites or Russians or whomever flood social media with “fake news” it would be nice to have a place to go for REAL news; actual journalism, investigative reporting, that kind of thing.

A rule that requires news organizations to be honest is a rule that protects the Republic.  Yes, Fox “News” might have to change their name but not their content.  OR, their content if not their name but that’s exactly the point.  I hold that ANY source that pretends to be “news” but delivers misleading and/or outright false information is harmful to America.

I’ll tell you this:  I’ve given this idea a great deal of thought.  I know some will say it’s a bad idea but I can’t escape the notion that the people who will say so are the very same people who want to lie to you for their own benefit…

Am I wrong or am I right?