Monday, September 25, 2017

Respecting The Flag and Service

The Flag of the United States is a symbol of the United States.  There is an unofficial flag code that says you should stand for the flag as it passes by.  There is also a request that you stand during our national anthem.  None of these are laws.  Not doing so is, perhaps, rude.  To some, it's disrespectful to the anthem (or the flag). 

I served in the US Army (and reserves) for 12 years (the vast majority of that was reserve time, full disclosure).   One reason I did so was to help pay for school, but the other, the more important is that my family (and I) have deep and long-standing feelings that this experiment, this democratic example, represented something special.  It represented a nation committed to protecting the rights of  those who were unpopular, a nation committed to making sure people were represented without restriction, were free to speak, free to vote, and where they could grow up believing the government acted, in general, with good purpose to protect everyone and pursue democracy FOR everyone, regardless of race, or religion, or ethnicity, or creed.  One which, the vast majority of time, acted with integrity because WE, Americans, for the most part, did so, and expected nothing less from our government.  I felt that was honorable and something to be preserved, even at the cost of life, even my life, if needed.

The foundation of that system of government was a Constitution which was elegant in it's simplicity, yet rich in meaning.  There were letters and words which constructed the stated rights, but more importantly, there were ideas behind the words which expressed an intent.  That intent may have been more (or less) limited due to the age in which the words were drafted, but equally clearly, the drafters expected views to evolve.  They expected not just that the document might be altered to adjust to the times, but that the understanding and application of the words would evolve.  That's not a point for debate, they said exactly such, especially Jefferson who did much of the authoring.

A fundamental protection which ensures the preservation of that democracy, that ideal, is that people have the right to protest without fear of reprisal by the government.  Reprisal doesn't have to take the form of overt use of force against those who are dissenting from an action by the government to be sinister and effective in shutting down dissent.  Putting people on black-lists, saying they should never be able to work in their field again (as Joe McCarthy requested) is tremendously effective in shutting down the voices of others who might have spoken out against the government.  Saying the employer should turn over the comments which employees make in private, on social media, to the government and then having some governmental representative request some sort of reprisal by the employer, would have the same effect. 

In the case of the President of the United States asking employers to fire those who do not agree with his opinion about the "flag code" would, equally, have the same effect.  It will, if he were effective, would result in those who would otherwise want to protest anything, refrain from doing so.  In fact, we've seen that effect with Colin Kapernick.  Capernick was a moderately capable NFL QB who was the first to show his displeasure with the state of policing in the US by declining to stand during the playing of our national anthem.  His employers, NFL owners, decided to act against Capernick, by failing to continue to employ him.  They said it was due to his lack of talent, and that may be part of the reason, but when others, others who were clearly talented enough to be employed, chose to do so, the owners were put in a bind, either fire those (or suspend those) who were speaking out (and potentially embarrassing the NFS in the owners' minds), or, as they have done, acknowledge their employees often come from a rough background, and in some cases, the neighborhoods they grew up in, and the neighbors they still know and love, might be being subjected to profoundly unfair treatment by the police (and by the courts), and so, by the government.  So, they were using the form available, the forum MOST likely to reach people, to protest. 

We can argue whether they should do so, but we CANNOT/MUST not shy away from the reality that it is not the government's place to act against them.  If we want to maintain our democratic institutions, we have to push back on the government when it starts acting to squelch dissent. 

So, to me, it's FAR more important to stand up for people's right to speak out than it is to worry about wrapping ourselves in a symbol (a flag) or an anthem.  Those symbols pale to irrelevance next to the value we embrace and preserve when we stand up for people's rights to protest, and stand up and speak out against an unfair (or even brutal) system which we, the people, have allowed to develop in response to our fears.  Freedom is often a balancing act of weighing our individual safety against the rights of other individuals to act as they chose.  Freedom is rarely ever needing to choose between individual rights and the trappings of nationalism.   That choice is normally only required in states which lack freedom, in totalitarian states.  Mr. Trump is asking our citizens to boycott the business where people are protesting brutality.  While I'd embrace Mr. Trump's right to do so if he were a private citizen, once he becomes President, it instead looks like the government seeking to limit speech and in specific, Mr. Trump looks to be squelching dissent about himself.

Standing up for the rights of those with whom we disagree is, therefore, to me the far greater respect for our flag and our country and our ideals than any number of people standing up when a song is song will ever provide.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Good resources on the electoral college and how it distorts the vote.

The first one is this report from the Pew Charitable trust on how the Electoral College distorts the vote.

The second is this map at which demonstrates that Green voters did not sway the election.  Yes, I could have wasted my vote on Clinton adding to her popular vote victory, but it would have done fuck all in the long run other than piss me off.

The lesson of Bernie Sanders was the US system of elections is anything but free and fair, which means the US is neither a democracy or a republic.

FairVote has a really good section on the Electoral College and how it does none of the things it is claimed to do.  It doesn't give the smaller states any equality and it doesn't create a national president. In fact, the 2016 campaign was pretty much in 4 states!

And let's not forget that the Electoral College was to prevent incompetents from being president as well as foreign powers somehow influencing the election.

Seriously, the Electoral College needs to go along with a lot of other electoral reforms before you can say this is a republic or a democracy.

Monday, September 18, 2017


That sounds pretty dumb doesn't it, but that is sort of what happened if you listen to the Clinton supporters.  They liked playing the woman card in both 2008 and 2016.

Remember "Obama Bros"?  And there is talk that the Barack Obama was a Kenyan Muslim began with somebody from Clinton's campaign back in 2008.

Given that the ad hominem attack is the sign somebody is losing the debate, we could indeed say Clinton lost before she even started running.


People need to ponder the significance of this picture since it pretty much sums up what is wrong with politics in the US.

While Hillary's running wasn't the main reason I voted Green, it was one small factor in that decision.

And it reflected that the current state of US politics is broken.  Hillary was the symptom, not the disease.

ANYONE who isn't aware of this and discussing what the real problem is can't really make an accurate statement about what went wrong.  So, they are going to say silly things like "misogyny caused Clinton the election", "Jill Stein and the Greens caused Hillary the election", or "Russians stole the election".

Even if all those reasons are total BULLSHIT.

The Fact is Hillary Clinton won the popular vote with 65,853,516 (48.5% votes) to Trump's 62,984,825 (46.4% votes), but lost in the electoral college by receiving 232 (43.1%) of the electoral votes to Trump's 306 (56.8%) votes.

That means the only thing which made Donald Trump president was the electoral college, an institution created by the US Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2-4). 

I'm not sure who or where this was posted in a newsgroup, but it sums up the thinking of the Jill Stein voters:
So let play something out, if we vote for Jill Stein (which we will) and she gets enough electoral votes that it keeps either Hillary or Donald from receiving enough electoral votes to grab the nomination, then Congress will vote from the top three to be the next president. We all know how much both parties hate Donald and that they are to corrupt to vote for Jill. So who does that leave? So in all actuality a vote for Jill isn't a vote for trump. And if we get enough people to vote for her we will get a third party. If everyone voting fear because they are scared of Trump voted for Jill she would win hands down. Here is the true argument we should be telling the fear voters. And if no one gets enough electoral votes, we will then see in full view that it is rigged by the fact both parties will vote for her. So in the least a vote for Jill is a vote for Hillary, at most a vote for Jill is a vote for Jill. Either way we would at the least have a third party nationally recognized from now on. Lets push this talking point. I think it might sway the scared people into voting their conscience knowing Donald won't get the presidency.
I know that my reasons for voting for the Green Party relate to a broken system: and not anything else.

See also:
Why Electoral College wins are bigger than popular vote ones | Pew Research Center

Thursday, September 14, 2017

United States v. Cruikshank 92 U.S. 542 (1875), the "lost" Second Amendment case

The Second Amendment part is short, very short:
The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendments means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government.
One would have to say it is cryptic. At least on first glance.

But, it is quite pithy.  Why would the Second Amendment right only mean that the "right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution"?  Why is it that the right granted " shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government"?

Presser v Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 6 S.Ct. 580, 29 L.Ed. 615 (1886), discusses Cruikshank, but it doesn't really go beyond what was said above.  Like McDonald, Presser was looking into the application of the Second Amendment to state law, but it came up with different results altogether.

Maybe because the Second Amendment right only relates to Congress' power under Article I, Section 8, Clause 16:

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
This would mean that the first three US Supreme Court cases ALL said that the right related to this power.  Or as US v Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), stated:
The Constitution as originally adopted granted to the Congress power- 'To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.' U.S.C.A.Const. art. 1, 8. With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view.

The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia- civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.
The emphasised portion demonstrates that Scalia was correct when he said that Miller was not helpful to his analysis. Prior Supreme Court cases found that the right related to militia efficacy, not private arms or self-defence. Scalia was correct, the case law and precedents of the Court as stated in Cruikshank, Presser, and Miller totally contradict the Heller and McDonald decisions.

By the way, Justice William O. Douglas, who was on the Supreme Court at the time Miller was decided, glossed Miller in his dissent to Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S 143, 150 -51 (1972).

McDonald was an absurdity which I am amazed four justices could tolerate, but it probably came about because the sentiments of the time are to rip the Second Amendment from the constitutional framework of providing for the common defence.

The US Constitution is silent on the topic of self-defence. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius.

Anyway, one of the many failings of the gun control side in the Heller debate was its failure to rely on stare decisis since SCOTUS's case law was on board and most of the primary sources support the "civic right" interpretation. Now, we are stuck with two bad legal decisions from a high court to cause mischief. Fortunately, Heller-McDonald was limited, but there is more than enough case law to show "well-regulated" means under strict control (including USC art I,sec. 8, clause 14).

Monday, September 11, 2017

What about the parents?

DACA is Deferred Action for CHILDHOOD Arrivals, which makes me wonder what about the parents?


First off, the parents of these kids are the ones responsible for the kids' lack of proper immigration status, but more importantly what is the status of the parents?  I think it might be safe to assume that the parents are also unlawfully present in the US.

Let's toss in that these caring parents have chosen a path which could lead to the children being deported and barred for anywhere from five, ten, or 20 years, and in some cases, ever being able to return to the U.S. at all. Not to mention that is could mean NEVER becoming a US citizen.

Why isn't that being discussed?

So, we are supposed to feel sorry for these poor children who came here unlawfully because mommy and daddy weren't willing to obey the rules.  The kiddies are being snatched from a nation where they don't have a legal right to be (immigration is a privilege, not a right).

And families are being broken apart.


But if the parents are being deported, shouldn't the children as well?

Anyway, I would rather have someone like Abdi Iftin or a few hundred thousand Rohinga Muslims who are willing to follow the rules enter the country than allow someone who should be barred from citizenship according to US law to be fast tracked into citizenship,