Category Archives: General

Since I don’t like uncategorized as a category for my post, I use general for anything I write that doesn’t fall into any specific categories.

Why the Colorado 14th Amendment case should be watched by all

Constitution and the Flag of the United States
Constitution of the United States

There has been a great deal of talk about the several cases trying to remover and/or keep Donald J. Trump’s name off of the Ballot next year. Most of the talk has been about Trump being kept out of the elect, to prevent him from being elected President once again. A while this is very important it may not be the most significant issues to be decided in these cases. I would like to place just a few of the “lesser” issues that I have been shown by the “legal eagles” out there. They are not given in any particular order. Just as they come to mind as I write this. Also as the Colorado case is the first in the Que I will just be talking about it.

Above I am sharing the Section (AKA “Clause”) that is what is in question. Next please remember that what is really going to be argued about is both a question of fact and questions of definition or meaning. With just a dash of intent. This last point I’m not going to address here. What we are going to be looking at is just what this Am

To me one of the most interesting questions brought up is “Is the President an Officer of the United States”? A before you go, “Of course he/she is.” The Constitution does not explicitly say the President and/or the Vice President are “Officers of the United States”. Just take a moment to look at the arguments for why he/she may not be. There are many arguments to be made and the one being used by many is the ‘Textualism Doctrine’ view. While I have many disagreements with this Doctrine here my problem is with the idea that if something is not explicitly in the Constitution then the federal government has no authority over it. This is often know as the “Constitution Stands Silent” principle. And it is very tricky to use.

First there is the problem that in the modern world there are a great many thing that were not even dreamed of when the Constitution and/or its Amendments were first written. Just to name three we have “railroads”, “Air travel”, and “electrical communications (radio, telegraph, internet, etc”. None of these common everyday things in the modern world existed when Just take a moment to look at the arguments for why he/she may not be. Railroads were not around when the constitution and the first 10 amendments were adopted. Maned flight was around when a majority of the Amendments were adopted. An the internet was just a wild dream in some SF writers minds in 1971when the latest Amendment was adopted. Does this mean that the Federal government has no power over them? Do we leave it all up to the States? What about when they cross State borders?

An those are just the start of the questions that need to be addressed. That is why I take the position that looking at the actual text is just a starting point and why the “Stands Silent” doctrine needs careful handing. What needs to be asked is “Why does the Constitution stand silent?” Three things need to be addressed

  1. Did the Authors know or could have known about the subject at hand?
  2. If yes to one, is there any evidence that the Authors deliberately ignored the subject?
  3. Is there any reason to think that the subject had already adequately covered in the text?

These are just three of the questions that need to be addressed, I am sure you can think of more.

Finally I’d like to point out that the Authors of the Constitution and it’s Amendments were are all well educated, well read, thoughtful people. You can take it for granted that they didn’t do something just for giggles, even when we see things now that make no sense. (I’m thinking of the 3/4ths clause). With just a little digging you can usually find good reason for why it was done. (Agian the 3/4ths clause). So when you see an interpretation of the Constitution that makes no sense, that is a good indicator of bad reasoning. This is my position on saying that the President and Vice President are Officers of the United States. To say everyone in the Executive Branch, except the President and Vice President are “Officers of the United States”, on the face of it, makes little to know sense.

Next time my take on the Originalist take of the question.

Some Observations on the House of Representatives

Congress
The House of Representatives in Session.

I thought I’d be a nice guy and give the U.S. House of Representatives a chance to actually get itself in order by electing a new Speaker but it looks like it is not going to happen anytime soon. The problem, as I see it, for the GOP House caucus is both simple and complex. It is simple in that the fundamental issues are easy to identify and define. It is complex because there is no easy way to resolve conflicts between these issues.

The first issue I’m going to identify is the newest and least expected. The major the GOP caucus has in the house is microscopic only three votes over the 218 needed to elect a speaker and only 9 more that the Democrats. This tight a margin makes for difficult going for any political leader but it is especially difficult if the party is badly fractured like the Republicans in the House currently are.

This brings us to the next issue facing the GOP, it is a badly divided party and the Republicans has historically not dealt with competing political factions well. Ever since its founding in the 1850’s the Republican Party has usually had a dominant faction that controls the party. This dominate faction then makes deals with either the minority faction(s) in it’s own caucus or, failing that, the could find the votes they needed south of the Mason/Dixon line in the Democratic Party (note: I call this strategy the Dixiecrat strategy). The few time this strategy was either not used or did not work the Democrats could gain control. The Dixiecrat strategy stopped working once the new “Nixon Southern Strategy was adopted in the late 60’s early 70’s.

Still things could, and did, be made to work in the House but then came the Newt Gingrich Revolution and the concept of constant conflict as the way to get things done in the House. An while this strategy work a little in the house it did not play well with the Senate.

So now we come to that one of the biggest mistakes made, the idea that Politics can be successfully modeled using ‘Zero Sum’ game theory. This is a very seductive idea because it looks so simple. The problem is that you can end up worse off using a game theory that is incorrect than you can using the correct game theory a loose. Also most people who just have a casual understanding of Zero Sum game theory is that it has one deadly trap, there are actually three results possible. You can Win, you can loose and you can end in a draw. Even worse is that given the rules of the game you can end up where ending is a draw is the most likely result. Don’t believe me, talk with a ‘rated’ chess player.

An now to the last issue, seeing your opponent as the embodiment of everything you despise. This can be expressed as anything “D” touches we have to oppose. This is the death knell to getting anything done in a democratic polity where compromise is the name of the game.

So that is where the Republicans in the House find themselves. They have a small (45) subgroup (the Freedom Caucus) that is to the extreme right of the party and they see everything in a win/loose view. Worse yet they see it as if ‘they win’ I have to have lost. Next the majority of the Republicans in the House have very little to trade away to the Democrats and nothing that doesn’t mater much to their local base. So we end up with game after game after game in a draw, but what is worse is that the larger game, that game of running the country is about to be lost.

Next Posting: Thought experiment “What happens if the congress can not function for 6/12/18 months?”

Another Thought Experiment

NAZI American Flag
NAZI American Flag

Just for fun, let us try to think about the structure an Authoritarian United States would look like. I’m not talking about how it would come about, nor what life would be like but what the government and formal structure would look like. An yes this is a nerdie Political Science experiment.

First some rules:

  1. No magic, nor any fantastic science can be used. So no ancient evil demons or gods. No mind controlling computers.
  2. Keep the changes as clean and simple as possible. So no writing a completely new constitution. Amendments are ok, but no replacing whole articles with totally new text.
  3. Don’t get rid of the States. Yes you can reduce or remove their power but they have to still exist and function to some degree.
  4. You have to show how it would work. Think of how you would explain our current system to someone who has never heard of the USA.

Now I know a some few of you say this is not possible but I would like to point out that Caesar Augustus did this to the Roman Republic two thousand years ago. So think about what offices need to be changed and how. What changes to the three branches would need to be made? How they work together? Who controls what and when. How would you change things to get the several states to fall in line and do as they are told.

So lets get to it!

What is Coming For the Republican Party

Rebranding the GOP
The Rebranding of the GOP

Of late I’ve been hearing a great deal about just what is going to happen after the 2024 election. Most of it is quite negative for the ’libertards’ and the Democratic Party. Some even talk about the coming total dominance of of the GOP and Donald Trump. I’d like to take sometime to look at it a little differently. From the view of a student of the American Civil War and the decade that proceeded it.

While most Americans know that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President few know that the Republican Party did not exist in 1850. Only ten short years before Lincoln’s election. Nor do they know of just how troubled the politics of the US was in the 1850’s. Many of the issues we are dealing with today we were dealing with then. Immigration, race, states rights, and political corruption, just to name a few. All of these issues, and how they were dealt with can give us some clues as to what is going to happen now.

The 1850s was the true spread of new communications technology that greatly increased the speed and easy of communications with the spread of three innovations…..The steam Boat, The railroads, and finally the telegraph. Let’s just look at two, Trains and the Telegraph. With the spread of trains that could reach the unheard of speed of 50 MPH. Just think of it, in one hour you could travel the same distance that would have taken you two days hard travel by foot or horseback. The telegraph had even bigger effect as news could spread across the country in hours instead of weeks. Just think of it, what happened New Orleans in the afternoon would be in the morning edition of the Boston newspapers. We in the 21st Century like to marvel out how much Smartphones, Social Media, and the internet have changes (speeded up) our world. But rest assured our ancestors of the 1850s were just as amazed as we.

This is why I feel that we can learn a lot from a careful study of the USA in the 1850’s. We gone thru this before. The problems we face now have antecedents then and the solutions they found, no mater how good or bad they were can help us make sense of what is happen now and what we can and should do and not do. So that said, lets get on with my ideas of what is to come.

First and foremost by the election of 2032 the Republican party will no longer be a major player. Like the Wigs of 1860, they will still exist here and there but they will no longer be one of the big two. What the new party will be like I have no clear idea. Just like in 1852 few, if any, people would predict just what the Republican party of 1860 would be like. I am confident that it will consider itself ”Conservative” what ever that means.

In the area of political corruption I fully expect the problem of gerrymandering will ether be solved or its solution identified and being worked on. The same with the issue of ’Dark Money’. I hope that the ’Dark Money’ solution will entail dealing with the gross miss-use of LLCs. As always corruption is always found in both business and politics and therefore the solution(s) will be in business and politics.

Well, that’s all for now. To those who were expecting ideas on how to deal with the problems show here, sorry. I’m having enough of hard time trying to clearly identifying the problem. I do promise to continue my research into the 1850s in hope of identifying possible solutions. Hope you, dear reader have been encouraged to do the same.

The Sheldon Crisis: Next Phase

Foundation
Hari Sheldon

With the election over but for the shouting I thought I’d put in a few words on the continuing ”Sheldon Crisis” happening. While we still have something like 12 House seats to be called at this writing it is still anybodies game on who will control the House in the next Congress. The best numbers I’ve been fallowing give the GOP control with 218-220 (1 to 3 seat control) I toght I’d just point out some things the House GOP will be facing soon.

First some things to keep in mind are: First in the last Congress the Dems, for once, did not have as fractious caucus as the GOP will have in the new Congress. Next is that the last time we had a Congress with such a slim majority for a party and the Majority party had such a fanatical member caucus was way back in 1856, or there about. Finally Kevin McCarthy has little to no experience running a majority Caucus.

So what can we look forward to in the coming weeks…..

First I expect to see a knock-down drag-out battle over leadership in the GOP House Caucus. An not just for the speakership, keep you eyes on who gets to be the Whip and who gets to be the Chair of the GOP Leadership. If any of these three go to members of the “Freedom Caucus” then things are going to get wild.

Depending on the results of the Leadership battle I expect to see little or nothing done (best case scenario) to hearings after hearing investigating all things Biden and/or Democratic and/or things MAGA hates. If MAGA gets the Speakership the only real question will be if Biden is Impeached two or three times.

An the worst case scenario is for the GOP to fail to fund the government and close down everything for several weeks. I really don’t expect this last one because the last time they tried this they got totally sandbagged in the next election.

So that’s all for now.

From Times to Come

The Great Big Boss

The other day I came across, on my daily walk, what I took to be ”Time Capsule” that appeared to have been washed down from the mountains. The only problem is that everything seems to be dated from 220 AT. When I first saw it I thought it might be from the early Spanish Mission period of the San Fernando Valley. It was a square box of about 11” and about 5” tall. It seemed to be made out of kilned backed adobe. Upon closer examination I detected the use of a wire meshing made of coper wire. So definitely not from the Spanish Mission period.

The contents of the box turned out to be what appear to be some kind of analog sound recordings (3). Five USB sicks, and two SDD drives. Along with over 40 pages from what appears to be magazines, but not made of paper. Most pages did have pictures and many have what appears to be dates but have no relationship to any known calendar.

3 Ivana 211 AT

11 Baron 193 AT

29 Don 219

This last goes with a picture that show what seems to be some kind of ceremony taking place in the Capital in Washington D.C. It is captioned “The Assumption of power by Barron III, Trump and Autocrat of all the States”. In the picture is one person, presumably Barron III, before a line of men, no women are in the photograph, who are placing there hands between his, while they are kneeling.

Another photo is of a woman inspecting what appears to be a heavily fortified wall with a large number of bones on one side. The photograph is captioned ”Ivana II inspecting the Great Wall of the South”. Most of the pages with out photographs, have drawing and seem to deal with the Great accomplishments of Trump (again this seems to be a title and not a persons name). Other pages deal with the accomplishments of what are called Boss of Bosses, Great Boss, Bosses, and Little Boss. It seems that the Boss of Bosses is appointed by the Trump, but just what their responsibilities are is not clear. The Great Bosses seem to run the States, the Bosses counties and the little Bosses cities and towns.

This last maybe in error as there are several references to State governors, and Mayors of large cities. It is quite possible that the term “Boss” in all it’s forms is just slang. Until further study of the Box and it’s contents can be done any conclusions drawn are pure Speculation. Finally, the idea that the ”Time Capsule” is actually from either the future or an alternate time line is pure fiction.

Don’t Trust Anyone Under Sixty

Wild in the Streets
Don’t trust anyone over 30.

I was a teenager in the 60’s (I turned 13 in 1964) and it just struck me why the radical right sounds so familiar. It is almost exactly what we were saying back then about ”the Man”, ”The Establishment” et al. Who hasn’t heard the MAGA crowd (or the Tea Party) crying about how bad the government is. How corrupt and untrustworthy the ______ is? (Fill in the blank). An now, in the past few days they are now attacking both the DOJ and the FBI as tools of the Deep state.

it has really taken me back to the Swinging Sixtes.

There are a few differences:

  • Then: It was Teenagers talking
  • Now: people with teenagers taking
  • Then: it was ”the Man”
  • Now: It is ”Hillary” or ”Obama” or ”Sorros”
  • Then: It’s all a Lie
  • Now: It’s all a plot

An let us not forget, ”never trust any over 30” and now it is ”never trust anyone under 60”. So if I seems to take all the noise and fury from the radical right it is I heard it all before from the radical left of my youth.

And for those of you who don’t recognize the photo above it is from the 1968 movie ”Wild in the Streets”.

The Tail of Three Outcomes

U.S. Capital

With the Midterm Elections well into the Primaries I thought it would be nice to talk about the four possible outcome. They are, simply put,

  1. No significant change in either chambers
  2. The Republicans gain control of both the House and the Senate
  3. The Democrats expand their control of both the House and the Senate
  4. Control of one chamber is controlled by each party

I’ll be starting with number 2 because this is the expected (traditional) historical results. If we go by history the GOP will pick-up enough seats to be the majority party they need to pick-up 8 seats and this is quite doable given the past 30+ years of midterm elections. The problem with only getting 13 seats is this would give the GOP 218 to the Democrats 216, a majority of only two seats. History shows the GOP picking up something over 12 seats, but that is still a very razor thin majority. An with just how restive the “Freedom Caucus” this could make for the election of a very weak Speaker.

If the ”Freedom Caucus” does flex its mussel in the election of the Speaker it could very well encourage other caucus’ in the GOP to also make demands of House leadership. It is even conceivable for the House to be tied up trying to elect a Speaker. It has happen before when the Congress was highly partisan (See the political history of the 1850’s). This kind of battle could be very bad for the survival of the Republican Party.

As far as the Senate goes, the GOP just needs to pick up one seat and historically that is quite possible. Unfortunately to be filibuster proof they need to pick up ten seats, much more unlikely to happen. This will then force the Senate Majority leader (Sen. McConnell) to either live with what the GOP has done to the last two Democratic Administrations and have to deal with the Democrats stoping anything that they don’t like with the Filibustered. Or just getting rid of the Filibuster. Neither option is very palatable.

Now lets look at option 1, with all that has happened since the start of the primaries; 1/6 hearings, the Dobs decision, the Secret Service scandal to name just three, this option has become much more likely. With little change in just what is happening in D.C. from the last two years. The President and Democrats trying to get things done and the GOP in the Senate doing everything in their power to prevent anything from happening.

Now, lets look at number 4, the worst of the worst when it comes to making any rational forecasts. This is because what actually happens depends on too many variables. The variable is how control breaks. How controls what: House controlled by the GOP and the Senate controlled by the Dems? Or the other way around? An how strong is the control? These are waters I will decline to swim in for now. Although I would find it fun, and terrifying to live; so ”no thank you“.

An finally let us go on to number 3, the MAGA-GOP’s worst nightmare and my personal favorite. An not because I’m a Democrat, I am, but because it is the prediction I have made do to my reading of history. Like option 1, option 3 has become much more likely do to events that have taken place and continue to take place during this year. As stated before Mid-terms Send tend to be rather sedate and boring elections. A rest after the noise and fury of the Presidential election two years earlier. But this time the noise and fury has not died down. If anything it is ramping up. We are looking forward to more exciting things from the 1/6 (or as it seems to now to be called the ’Insurrection’) committee this September. Along with a large number of very poor GOP candidates (lots of ’MAGA’ faithful) and very divisive case being heard by SCOTUS before the election. An let us not forget the ’ham handed’ act of the GOP in the Senate like what just happen with the ’Vet’ bill.

As I said above, number 3 is my personal favorite because of my reading of history. I think we are living threw the end of one political party, the Republicans, and the beginnings of a new party. I shall refrain form trying to give it a name. in any case we just have to wait and see what happens.

The American War on Science

Orange Koolaid

Ever sense the spring of 2020 and the struggle began against the Covid-19 pandemic we have been able to see the American War on Science shown in all it’s ferocity. I say the American War because America has been of two minds about science since the first colonist arrived on these shores. Part of us are children of the Enlightenment and another part are children of hyper religious dissidence. These two groups have never gotten along with each other and for the same reason. They perceive the other as a trying to destroy the other. An in away they are right.

First lets look at the basic philosophical positions of both sides:

Let us first look at the Children of the Enlightenment and their handmaiden, Science. I shall be using “Science” from here on out for brevity’s sake. Science, as seen by many, has as a central principle that there is nothing that can not be questioned. Even the most fundamental concepts and principles can be questioned. An by questioned I mean ‘put to the test’. We teach science both by lecture and actual hand on experimental experience. We have students conduct experiments for many reasons but one of the most important is to check the results of all the experiments that went before. An sometime, very rarely, a student will get a result that will like a spark in their mind that will lead to great and new findings.

Now lets pause right here because I’m sure there is someone reading this who will know, either personally or otherwise, a time when someone was “don’t question” X. It is a ‘fundamental law of nature’. An this happens much to often but it is not the philosophy of science that says this, but individuals who say it. People are human and so will have all of the failings of humans. All we can do is ‘smile sweetly’ and keep on questioning everything.

Now on the other side are people (both the Puritans and Quakers just to name a few) who believe and accept the philosophy of ‘“absolute truth”. There are somethings that are true for all time and therefore can not be questioned. Ever. And these things can not be discovered by asking questions, they can only be ‘revealed’. An there lies both the problem and the strength of Religion. It provides the comfort that a young child gets from asking a parent to deal with an impossible/unsolvable problem. And it provides the security to the one providing the answer of “Because I Say So.” An this is excepted. An the fundamental problem with reviled truth is there is never just one truth revealed.

Looking at the history of this country we have many many examples of intractable problems facing our body politic. From the ‘Devine right of kings’ in the 18th century, to who is ‘sovereign’ (the states or the federal government) and slavery of the 19th century. To segregation and racism of the 20th century. An none of these problems can be resolved from ‘reviled truth’. Why? Mostly because there is more that one reviled truth being referenced. And even when all sides agree on the source of the “truth” (in the USA it is often the Bible) they end up with a battle of scriptures. By a battle of scriptures I mean where all sides can find one or more lines in the reviled truth to support there position. Both are ‘right’ but we have no way of testing for who is right.

But wait you say, that happens in science all the time. Well, yes and no. Yes we get heated debates where all sides point out the “Math”, “Observations” and or experiments that ‘Prove’ there theory is correct/wrong. But unlike in Religion, in Science you have to answer the question “How do we test it?” One of the greatest challenges to “How do we test the theory?” If it can’t be tested it can’t be accepted as fact, no mater who says it is true.

So now we come to the “War on Science”. This is not a unquietly American phenomenon. But it is new in a historically as what we now call ‘science’ is new. Science as we now know it came in to being with the ‘Scientific Method’ in the 17th Century and the ‘Age of Enlightenment’. The ‘Scientific Method’ was and still is by some, seen as a direct challenge to ‘Reviled Faith’. Originally because science was seen to challenge reviled truth that dealt with the observable world. An not just in esoteric fields like chemistry but in very day to day issues like Astrology. After all if moving the sun to the center of the ‘universe’ (or solar system) makes doing ‘accurate’ astrological charts for your king or emperor your going to use it even if the church says the Earth is at the center of all things.

The problem this war has in America is that most of the people who came here to colonize were of the ‘very hard headed’ (some would say pig headed) verity. Both those of the Enlightenment and Regions verity. Next is the problem we have faced ever sense 1792 politicians have seen taking sides in this fight as an excellent way to win and keep voters. More on the ‘Reviled Truth’ side, mostly because they are less likely to respond to hard data and reasoned debate than those of the enlightenment bent.

So there you have it. Don’t get depressed about this “War on Science”. It not new. In fact it is a grand old American tradition we have been practicing since the founding of the country.

Election Day!

Election Day

Be Warned my contrarian nature is in full throated Roar

Yes there is no election where I am now, but we do have off, off year elections in some places in this country. An in many many ways, these elections are more important to our democracy than the BIG Presidential elections. At least to my way of thinking.

It is the ‘small’ elections that mater because they are the ones too many people ignore. They are the bedrock of any democracy because the small elections are the foundation the big election build on. These are the ones where the politicos get there fundamental data on what the electorate are interested in. This is where we identify the true ‘base’ of political moments and parties. It is where we look to see who is an ‘up and comer’, who has new ideas and/or can express ideas clearly and inspire his/her listeners. An this election is more important than most.

Why do I say that? Because the bast decade or so America has not been looking closely at these elections and has not been listening to what has being said. Yes, some Politicos have been listening but not many and the ones that have been are either not saying much about what they hear. Or they are not being paid much attention to. If they had we’d be in a totally different place than we are in now. We would not have one political party looking for, and accepting as, their candidates people with little or no public service.

I think that in 50 to 75 years from now, when Historians write about the politics of the 2020’s they will point back to the election of Geo. W. Bush and the rise of the “Tea Party” republicans as the starting point of our coming time of troubles. And like all of the Historians who have tried to say, “Here, at this point! It all started” they will be both right and wrong. I have, in an early posting said where I think things start along the path we find ourselves so I shan’t bother to repeat myself.

We have a long row to hoe and it is going to take some time to get it done. But the place to start is with the small elections like we are having now. So I call upon you all, get out and vote. Don’t listen to the people telling you your vote won’t count. That the elections are all rigged. That is is a sure thing. Or what ever. Your Vote Maters, it Counts! Not because your vote is one among many or one among few. It maters because you mater and it is your Vote!