A Republican Nightmare


The GOP elephant is on his deathbed.

With the election year off to a staggering start I have yet to hear much about just who Donald Trump will select as his V.P. This could end up being of critical importance to the GOP and/or the nation as a whole. I say this because if Trump does get elected President who his Veep is could be critical.

I say this because the odds of Trump living another five years is low. His mental state being good is even lower. Trump is 78 this year so it is a coin toss how long he could live. What concerns me more is his mental state. I have now had to deal with several people who have suffered from loss of mental acuity as they aged. Two were some form of dementia while loss of memory and reasoning was another. In all cases they suffered from a degradation of there judgement and reasoning.

Now, sense the Trump/MAGA campaign has seen fit to bring up Pres. Biden’s health, both physical and mental, it is only fair we look at Trumps state. The easiest of these to look at is his mental acuity. We just need to listen to him when he is speaking. NOTE: I recommend that no one use his blogging/texting etc as there is no way to be sure this has not been either edited of ghost written. I’d even go so far as to only go by what was live in front of a group of people. Interviews can also be edited.

I leave it up to you, my dear reader to draw your own conclusions. But think on this; Trump gets returned to the Presidency in this election and then suffers either a physical or mental breakdown. Say like Pres. Wilson did. Something so bad that even if he doesn’t die he is severely disabled and can not do his job as President. If and until his cabinet and his Veep invoke the 25th Amendment the the person or persons who control access to the President will be controlling the government.

Now let us consider this scenario as stated above. Given the past performance of the MAGA/GOP leadership and just how much importance Trump places on personal loyalty it seems likely that we can expect to see one hell of a knock-down drag out of a fight over two things. First who controls the access to the Presidential sickroom. Second getting a majority of the cabinet to certify that Trump is not physically and/or mentally able to execute the office of the President. An all the while this is going on the executive branch will be lock up and the congress will most likely be too. Now add in all of the cyberspace rumors that will be flying.

Now let’s add in that the Veep and the several and several of the cabinet members have strong connections with MAGA and any or all of them are willing to do what it takes to be in control. Or let’s say the Veep selected for just ‘Hollywood’ reasons and doesn’t have much strength at all. Or let’s say the Sec of Defense is willing to call out the “Army” ? What if the Army leadership doesn’t want to get involved? Or it splits?

A real dystopian nightmare, isn’t it.

A Theory On Hell

As many of you already know I don’t believe in a HELL as is common in Christo-Judaic theology. I shan’t go into why right now, just go along with me that I just believe in a Heaven. Sometime ago I did come up with why what could look like a HELL but isn’t could exist and I want to share it with you now.

First some Postulates:

  1. God doe not make any errors, ever.
  2. God has already forgiven every “sin” you have ever committed
  3. All you have to do is accept your failings, admit them to God and bingo your in what you think of as Heaven.
  4. There was never a “War in Heaven” and there are no “Fallen Angels”.
  5. Some people can not accept their failings and feel that anyone who has such failings deserve HELL
  6. Some peoples idea of heaven is getting to punish “bad” people.

So stay with me on this.

When people die and stand in judgment before God they just can not forgive themselves, be truly repentant, and therefore feel they must be condemned to HELL for punishment. They have been told that they are forgiven and be truly repentant and all is good, they don’t believe or accept it. God has all the time in the universe and then some so he gives them what they expect and will welcome them once they are ready. (Think about a four year old beating his head to punish his parent(s). They will wait and watch to be sure they do no great harm knowing full well they will get tired sooner or later.)

Now think of those people who think that the most heavenly thing is to be able to punish all those people who were “bad people”, sinners if you will. They also get sent to a “Heaven” that looks like HELL. They know they are in a HELL, but it seems like heaven to them because they get totally punish all the “bad people”. They are both Happy and Miserable at the same time. Happy because they are getting to punish everyone the wanted to wreck revenge upon in life, and miserable because they have to be in HELL to do it. This is where all the demons of the classic mythology of Christianity come from. An in a way they are the “Fallen Ones”, they just haven’t made it to being angles yet.

Crazy, No?

Bad Numbers are Good

Biden and Harris

Note to reader:

I have taken this long to write about the “Bad” polling numbers of the Biden 2024 campaign just to be sure it is not my fundamental “contrarian” nature exerting itself. I am now reasonably sure it isn’t.

To start things off, to all those out there who are sure of the inevitable victory of Donald J Trump in the November election I would just like to remind you of 2016’s election and the expected ending of President Hillary Clinton’s second term. No one who was not working in the 2016 presidential elections was more surprised and aghast than me that night when Hillary gave her concession speech. The numbers thru almost all of the campaign should Hillary winning hands down. Trump was a joke! There just was no way he could win. But he did. And now, in 2024 we are living thru all that means.

For me it meant, among many many other things, taking a hard hard look at just what and how political polling is taken, analyzed, and reported in the early 21st century. After eight years I’m still in a quandary and still working out just what is going on. The one thing I’m reasonable sure of is that it is not telling us what we think it is telling us and we have a lot of work ahead of us.

So, just why am I saying “Bad Numbers” are good. It is quite simple. Motivation of the electorate. It has been a long standing principle (over 50 years now) that high voter turnout helps the “Liberal” aka Democratic candidate(s). Back in 2016 I was quite worried that the independent and/or moderate voter turn out in swing states should be low, and they were. Very low. This has been shown in Political Science elections studies to be greatly influenced by the idea that Hillary was a shoe-in. That their vote wasn’t needed. Etc. They were wrong.

In 2020 this same electorate was motivated to get out and vote. Again, studies have demonstrated the validity of this, even when actual voter turn out was expected to be low do to the pandemic a respectable number of the independent voter was quite noticeable and is often given credit for Trump’s defeat.

The 2024 election is promising to be anything but nice. Anything but a sure thing. Not for Pers. Biden and not for Donald Trump (no mater what the MAGA machine says). A bad numbers along with the new campaign being started by the Liberals and Democrats it should make the independents and casual Demographic voters realize that there vote is vital. They will get out and vote.

That is what I think, now I get to wait and see if I’m right.

Why I’m Optomistic About Thing To Come

The Future of Telephones in 2000
Telephones of the Year 2000

As I write it is 2 January 2024. In the past year I’ve been asked why I’m optimistic about the future. An while the answer is not particularly complex I have found it hard to explain to others. After much thought I’ve come to understand it comes down to two things. I know the history of what we thought the future will be like and I know the history of doom I have personally lived thru.

Let’s start with the History of the future and by that I mean what did we think the future would be like back in the day. The two pictures above show to distinct images of the future. One from around 1920 and one from 1973. The top one is wildly optimistic and the other is wildly pessimistic. Both are quite inaccurate in their vision. I can go on and on with examples and I invite the reader to try looking for their own for examples. They are surprisingly easy to find.

My second reason for being optimistic is I have personally lives thru three “we are DOOMED” events. Back when I was just a boy (1950s) it was the “Atomic Bomb”. Quite a few of the SF movies of the era delt with both the “Atomic War” and or it’s aftermath. Some, like “On the Beach” were very well done. Others like “Panic in the Year Zero” not very good at all. Most were made to be “B” reel movies. Like the movies, the written SF of the time that dealt with “Atomic War” tended to be only fair to poor and were mostly pulp fiction. They all had a few things in common. First the “Atomic War” was inevitable. Next nobody wanted it and last “It just Happened”. An finally it almost always ended up where everything was “Bad”, with wildly varying degrees of ‘Bad’. As of this writing the “Atomic War” has yet to happen.

The next, second, “we are DOOMED” even started in the 1960’s, over population and is in the second of my images above. I selected “Soylent Green” because it is set in the ‘far distant future of 2022’. None of what it predicted has come to pass. Although we do seem to be working our way to the ‘permanent heat wave’ of the story. There have not been as many movies/stories about the “over population crisis” as the “Atomic Bomb crisis” but it was not as “flashy” as an atomic explosion.

The third and last event was the short lived “Ozone Layer”. This “Dooms Day” event could be easily missed if you blinked hard as it was going by. Needless to say the Ozone Lay is still with us.

We are now in a new “We are Doomed” crisis with “Climate Change (AKA Global warming). I don’t know how we are going to solve this one, thankfully it is not my job or responsibility. An that brings me to why I’m optimistic. It is simple, I have faith that the up and coming generations will find solutions to their problems just like mine found solutions to its “crisis” events. I feel this way because they are just like my generation it what is important. They don’t know what is impossible. They do not accept that there are “Insolvable Problems” and they, like us, are ready, willing an able to tackle what comes their way.

Now don’t ask me what the solutions they will find will be or look like, I don’t have a clue. But I do know it will most likely not look like, if even be, what we can imagine today. That is why I have the first picture. To show how right and wrong our current visions are. We have the video phone, and no, they don’t look or work like anything imagined back then. But it will happen and it will be wondrous.

Interesting Times for SCOTUS

Formal group photograph of the Supreme Court as it was been comprised on June 30, 2022 after Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson joined the Court. The Justices are posed in front of red velvet drapes and arranged by seniority, with five seated and four standing…Seated from left are Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito and Elena Kagan. .Standing from left are Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson…Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The coming months are going to be very interesting for us court watchers. SCOTUS has at least two and possibly more critical cases coming before it. Some of them are also time critical. Some will allow the court to demonstrate that they really do believe in the judicial/constitutional philosophy thus exposed in recent and controversial decisions.

On the last point, the Colorado case (Anderson v. Griswold) removing Trump from the primary ballot seems to be the most likely case in point. In several recent decisions the court has used both the “Originalist” and “Textualist” doctrines to justify their rulings. The “Textualist” doctrine gives the court the best course to rule against Trump and the “Originalist” gives them two ways to rule one for Trump and one against.

Now let me state right here I do not expect SCOTUS to use any of these paths. I fully expect the court to find some way to totally dodge the issue, most likely using some arcane procedural reasoning. This court all too often has shown itself to have the backbone of a slug. That said let’s dive into the issues as I see them.

The “Textualist” ruling deals almost exclusively with the 14th Amendment and its 3rd Section, probably one of the most overlooked clauses of the Constitution. The only real issue is whether the President is an “Officer” of the United States. Given both the customs of the time and the debate on the Amendment it is clear that the President is an “Officer” of the United States. Let us totally bypass the illogic of saying that the only two offices that “Insurrectionist” could hold are the two highest offices in the nation. We are, after all talking about the “Radical” Republicans of the post Civil War and given the detailed list of the offices it is not reasonable to hold that the offices of President and Vice President are excluded.

This now lead us into one of the more interesting arguments “Originalist” reading can give us. Does the Amendment apply to all insurrectionists, past, present, and/or future? It can be argued that the “Insurrection” being referred to by the Amendment was the Civil War and it only applies to that one “Insurrection”. If that is the case then section 3 is a dead letter as the last surviving vet of the war died over 50 years ago. Unfortunately this kind of “Originalist” reading of the Constitution leads down a very twisty road as how do we deal with the following.

Given the above interpretation of how “Originalist” doctrine is would be applied, the 1st Amendment protection of free speech can only apply to the spoken or printed word. So it would not apply to Radio/TV/Movies as these Media did not exist nor even imaged when the amendment was written. The same for the Second Amendment, it could only apply to those kind of “Arms” that existed at the time of writing. To be fair we can say it would apply to modern ships and cannons but not to aircraft or spacecraft. I can see arguments both ways for submarines.

I shall leave you with just this point, these are just two of the problems facing SCOTUS using the “Originalist” doctrine in one case currently before it. The are several more now before it and I’m sure more to come in the near future. So keep your ears open and your head down it is going to get very very interesting.

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.

Head, meet Wall

USA Constitution
U.S. Constitution

Once more I am moved to bang my head against the wall and talk about gun violence. I wish to talk about why someone/anyone’s 2nd amendment right to own any gun they wish trumps all other rights we have. An surprise it is logical but not reasonable.

The right to own any kind of gun is superior to all other rights because of the basic postulate the person starts with. Most of the time this postulate will not be acknowledged but it is there none the less. It is simply stated as follows “I get to do what I want to do because I want to do it.”

This translates into the debates on rights simple as “My rights are superior to everyone else’s rights.” Therefore your right to life must give way to my right to own any gun I want. This works if and only if a personal rights have either a Hierarchy or are unequal. Many people who have not studied the history and evolution of thought on constitutional rights fall into. No right is superior or takes precedence over any other right. They are all equal. The problem is when they come in to conflict. Or when someone uses a right to do wrong. Usually these conflicts are easy to identify when they happen. Unfortunately the misuse of guns it is not.

The other problem we have to deal with is what do we do when a right is misused? Usually the law try’s to make whole, again, when the right is miss used. Like damages for libel/slander when the right of free speech is misused. Again, unfortunately, when a gun is misused it is often impossible to make whole the victim of the miss use. How do you restore life to the dead, or an arm, leg, and or eye?

So I ask you, what should we do? The misuse of the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms all to often has irreparable effects and the victim can not be made whole no mater what we do?

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!

A Thought or Two on the 14th Amendment

USA Constitution
U.S. Constitution

With the filing of a lawsuit to bar Donald Trump from that states Primary and General ballots we have now given Donals Trump what many, if not all, Presidential Candidates want……A truly historical election. Article III of the 14th Amendment has rarely been invoked and never been tested in the federal courts completely. We now have the chance to see just what, if anything it means in a practical real world way.

I will not be addressing whether what is happening is a good thing politically; I leave that for a later posting. Rather I want to encourage everyone to read up on the 14th Amendment, both its history and legal scholarship. I think you will be both shocked, surprised, and disappointed by what you find. I was but I was also please to note one thing. Since the Civil War the United States has had no significant insurrections , in fact I found only three possible candidates and all three could be and are no more than what happen on January 6th 2021 (excepting the occupation of the Capital). An until now the 14th’s Section 3 has been little thought of and invoked even less. Why this should be makes for a great history paper and I will refrain from do that here.

What is going to be happening, starting now, is a test of just what the 3rd article of the 14th Amendment really means. With the death of the last person to ever fight in the Civil War in 1959 is the 3rd article a “dead letter”? There are good arguments for this. The debate on the 14th Amendment hardly touched on the 3rd article an I have found nothing in the debates about disqualification. (See CREW for details of disqualification)This will be the first time since the 1860’s anyone on the level of a National office is in danger of being disqualified. This is important for both legal and political reasons. With Donald Trump facing this problem rest assured the MAGA-GOP will, somehow, take actions to apply disqualification to the first non-MAGA-GOP to run for President or Vice President. It will happen.

As for the law? I don’t know. I do know that every American needs to watch the coming trials carefully. I mean not just the trials of Donals Trump and his Co-Conspirators but also all of the trials dealing with who is allowed on the ballot(s). Even the most radical judge can be a good judge when they know they are being watch. Watched not only by their peers, nor the scholars of law, but by also by the electorate at large. You don’t have to do much, just let anyone and everyone know you are watching. An unlike the radical right, the common electorate needs no threats, just their eyes and minds.