Monday, January 18, 2021

To celebrate MLK Day is to oppose the 'Woke-folk'

I'll keep this short: To praise Martin Luther King jr. and this speech, is to rebuke the Pro-Regressive Left (and Right) and all of today's 'Woke-folk', and to deny that is to put yourself at war with reality and with your own mind.

"I Have a Dream,"  

Celebrate MLK Day.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Two Realities in Jan 6th protest - 2nd impressions: Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly

You all know that I take a very dim view of violent behavior & property damage, especially on the part of large numbers of people who then attempt to excuse such rioting as 'exercising first amendment rights', which is a despicable lie, and one which endangers us all. To cut to the chase: I have zero sympathy for any of those who knew or should have known that they were breaking into the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6th, and my thoughts tend more towards Napoleon's methods of crowd control via cannon fire, than fretting about escalation.

But. Was there a riot? Well... let's come back to that. Was there an incitement to riot? Did people who were there see a riot? And if not, what evidence is there for there having been a riot? Have the people who are claiming to be outraged over the supposed riot, shown any hint of disapproval of rioting in the past? Have those Leftists and media apparatchiks who are today speaking so reverently of the Constitution and the Rule of Law, recently and vocally sung a very different tune in advocating the burning of the flag, habitually denigrating America, violence in general, rioting and tearing down statues? If so (the answer is yes) then they and their concerns can be dismissed. 

But other concerns remain: Was Washington D.C. left in flames? Was even a single church set ablaze? Did numerous cars have their windows smashed in and get overturned and set aflame? Were entire city blocks worth of shop windows smashed in, and stores looted? Were innocent passersby assaulted? Did 'rioters' seek to lock people in the Capitol and set it aflame in the manner that BLM/Antifa besieged a federal courthouse for months in Portland? IOW, was this planned and properly permitted rally, anything like the multiple instances of BLM/Antifa riots that we've been subjected to all of last year? The evidence is pretty clear that the answer to that is a big fat 'No!'.

But. Something sure as hell happened. People are dead. Several others were injured. So what do you call it, if not a riot? Let's start with the basics. A riot is traditionally what it is called when any three people gather and produce a tumultuous disturbance of the peace, and is defined as:
"A disturbance of the peace by several persons, assembled and acting with a common intent in executing a lawful or unlawful enterprise in a violent and turbulent manner."
So technically yes, it was a riot... but was it a riot in the same manner that we saw Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi cheering on over and over again, over the summer? Was it the kind of riot where thousands of people spontaneously gathered in the streets with no permit, deliberately intentionally preventing the free movement of others, deliberately causing a disturbance of the peace, and eventually into a full on violent riot in the streets, with mass destruction of property, looting, setting cars and buildings aflame?

No, this was something entirely different. The gathering itself was planned, permitted, and peaceful in its organization and execution; there was no deliberate prevention of movement, there was no assaulting of people in their cars or on foot, there was no damaging of property as the demonstration passed by, and no looting of businesses or arson.

This was a very different reality from what we saw with 2020 vision this summer - this was more of what we might describe for the moment as an indoor riot, as distinguished from the '*normal*' street riot. When and where it DID become a riot, was with the actions of a relative few who began unlawfully breaking and entering into the Capitol Building itself, and that's when and where it became an actual riot.

How did it come about? Was there an incitement to riot or insurrection? Read Trump's speech. Perhaps opinions may vary, but this:
"...We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated. Lawfully slated.

I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. ..."
, is not what I take to be 'incitement to riot'. And as a friend of mine pointed out, President Trump had a couple hundred thousand eager fans on hand waiting on his every word, and all he could manage by way of 'intentionally inciting riot & insurrection', was to get only a few dozen of them to break a couple windows and doors in the Capitol Building and walk around taking selfies of each other sitting in representatives offices? 'Worst. Incitement. Ever.' Sad. Especially as we've just gone through an entire summer of Nancy Pelosi & Maxine Waters achieving massive and repeated rioting nationwide, with billions of dollars of property damage, and scores of lives lost, without even trying! 

Come on, man! 

No, while I think Trump's publicly attempting to pressure his Vice President, Mike Pence, to make a weighty constitutional decision through an argument of public taunting, was a desperate act of poor judgement, he made zero incitement to riot or to carry out any form of violence. So no, I'm going with there having been no call to riot, no street riot, and no incitement to riot or stage a coup.

But something most definitely did happen, we've seen videos of people charging over barricades, breaking into the capitol, physically assaulting police officers, disobeying orders to disperse (that's the point where I would've been completely fine with the police opening fire on those 'protesters'). 

But. We also have many, many people, who claim that they saw no violence, no break ins, and even several claims that they were let into the building by the Capitol police. So. What are we dealing with here?

Starting with the anecdotal, I have heard from numerous friends who were there at the rally in D.C., some with their children in tow, that they saw no sign at all of any criminal or violent behavior occurring, and many can be seen on video strolling through the capitol building, staying behind the velvet ropes as if on a tour, with capitol police clearly standing still and silent as they passed them by. What they've told me, is very similar to what this letter from the attorney of a newly elected state delegate from West Virginia describes, that he had no suspicion that anything was amiss,
"... His footage shows that members of the public were already inside the Capitol by the time he entered. Evans’ footage shows no riotous behavior taking place at that time. Protesters can be observed calmly walking around. Upon entering, Evans observed a police officer to his right, who was calmly standing watch inside the doorway through which he entered. No members of the protest were assaulting or resisting the officer in any way. Nor was the officer asking the protestors to leave. Instead, the officer gave Evans a “fist-bump” which can be observed on the video footage. This is consistent with Evans obviously having a belief that the crowd was being allowed into this public area of the Capitol at that time. Again, he had no knowledge of what had already occurred on the other side of the Capitol grounds. This area of the U.S. Capitol is generally open to the public year-round, and is only closed at the time due to COVID-19 concerns...."
Is it possible to experience two such very different realities, at the same time, and seemingly in the same place?

It may seem odd, but at a place like the Capitol Building, I think the answer is yes, that might actually be possible. I've never been to our nation's capital, but I have been to events at Missouri's state capital, which was modeled on the same plan of the building in Washington D.C., and I can tell you from our experience with holding Tea Party rallies there, while at the same time there was a hostile rally being held by fans of communism on the other side of the capitol building, at the very same time we were having ours, it is in fact very possible to have two very different realities playing out on opposite sides of the same capital building, and to do so with the people on one side having no idea what the people on the other side are doing. I'm willing to acknowledge that the intentions of the protest itself was nothing more than protesting, and that those who were let into the building by Capitol Police had at least some reason to believe that they were walking through the building by permission. I'm also willing to acknowledge that out of the hundreds of thousands of people who were attending the event, that most had no knowledge of - at least at first - of the criminal actions that were being taken by a relative few people at their fringes.

That being said, I'm still very much of a mind that, especially as things have been for the last year, that it was incredibly naïve of them, even reckless, for this protest not to have been stringently monitored and policed by the very people who were in it, and especially so for the organizers of the protest. What excuse can any of them possibly have for not having been on a heightened guard against any and all suspicious or duplicitous actions? One friend made a statement which in normal times would be considered quite sensible, that "...if they didn’t want us in the damn building we never would’ve been in the building...", but having just gone through the last 4yrs, I can't help but saying: Come on man! 

Has no one ever seen the old B-movie trope of a prisoner having his cell door '*accidentally left open*' so that the unsuspecting prisoner would step outside his cell to be immediately shot dead for attempting to escape? Was no one on the lookout for the tangled webs that are weaved by those plotting to deceive? Apparently not, as the entire crowed strolled right into a dangerous web of clashing realities. They should have realized that this 'StopTheSteal' event was not taking place in the context of the 2010 Tea Parties, but in the dangerously different context of our just having gone through four years of an officially trumped up impeachment effort against a sitting and duly elected president, orchestrated by hostile factions within our own government, and even by people within the FBI! And add to that the fact that many of those organizers and attendees have been loudly calling for secession and wanting to 'fight for Trump', not to mention the fact that you had members from the ludicrous 'Proud Boys!' joining in with your demonstration, reports of some antifa planning to infiltrate them, and a dude in a friggin' buffalo costume(!); and your excuse for walking wide eyed into the Capitol Building is that they wouldn't have let you in if they didn't want you to be in there? Did it really not occur to anyone that maybe they really did want you in there, but for more nefarious reasons than letting you experience a free tour?

Come on man!

Everyone at that protest should have been made to be extremely wary of, and on their guard against, not only being associated with or framed for criminal mischief, or just foolish behavior from overly enthusiastic supporters, but also to be on the lookout for any oddly welcoming invitations being extended to them in a situation where their presence alone could so easily make them all into usefully convenient patsies for the spinning of scandalous stories that would serve up very different agendas than their own. It seems to me that there was a massive failure on the part of both organizers and attendees to give a due regard to the weighty responsibility involved in bringing such a large gathering of people together, for political purposes, in times of high tensions and deep divisions. Major precautions should have been taken, and if they were, I haven't heard of them, and more importantly, if they were taken they clearly didn't work.

And while it does seem to be true that the numbers of bad actors at the protest amounted to only a handful (something like 50 have been arrested, with as many more still being sought), yet it also seems apparent that most of those who knew or should have known that they were in the building illegally, were from the Right, some of them even filmed themselves boasting of having put 'cops on the run'. Yes, a few of them do seem to have been with antifa/BLM, but that doesn't absolve a sizable number of the 'innocent crowd' from having enabled those wrongs that did take place. Sure, when some of the despicable few began trying to break a window, many shouted 'Stop! Traitor!', which is swell and all, but why weren't those vandals physically overwhelmed and body slammed on the spot when they continued trying to break those windows? Why were people simply walking by as the one police SUV that was damaged, had its tires slashed by one amongst the protesters? Why weren't those situations dealt with and nipped in the bud? My guess is that, at the very least, it is because there was no organized message plan for dealing with such issues, or if there was one it wasn't disseminated into the groups, and I cannot find any way of excusing that.

But even with that being the case, what occurred in our nation's capitol on January 6th was not another instance of the 'mostly peaceful protest' that set last summer aflame, but an actually peaceful protest on one side, and a lawless and criminal action on the other, in the same general place, at the same time, by people with two very different perceptions of what 'peaceful assembly' and 'petitioning your government', are all about. 

A constant theme of mine before, during and since the Tea Party, has been that it is not enough to simply feel Pro-American, you've got to understand and stand up for those beliefs in a way that doesn't undermine them. That didn't happen, effectively at least, on January 6th.

But charging either Trump or the vast majority of the crowd there with riot? Insurrection? A coup?! Hunting them down and getting the fired and ostracized from society? Nope. Sorry. Doesn't apply.

What most comes to mind when listening to friends who were there talking about how they were just there to show their support, to 'do something!', and to fellowship and take in the sights, while entirely unawares that anything untoward was happening nearby and under the cover of their presence, is:
"Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly..."
Something very strange happened in our nation's capitol last week, with two very different sets of experiences going on simultaneously, and whether by mischance or deliberate design, or both, the result has been pure chaos - a woman was killed in the Capitol Building, a police officer was killed in our nation's capitol building, a person was trampled to death - Saul Alinsky would be so thrilled, and it stands to reason that those still employing his 'principles' are as well. 

There is no excusing any misbehavior that actually did take place in our nation's capitol last week.  And the chaos attending January 6th, which yours truly tried to warn folks about the possibility of, has led to a new round of 'never let a good crisis go to waste' being employed, with developments coming fast and furiously which, just weeks ago, would've seemed an alternate reality that few would have given any credence to, even in the year 2020. The spider must be feeling pretty confident that it has caught its fly.

For instance, picking just a few of the more obviously sticky issues off the top:
  • Joe Biden, while speaking of unity, has likened Senators Cruz and Hawley to Nazi propagandists.



  • Twitter & Facebook have deleted the sitting President of the United States account.
  • Twitter and Facebook have deleted tens of thousands of accounts of 'Right Wing' users.
  • Google & Apple have both removed the Twitter competitor Parlor from Android and Apple app stores.
  • Amazon's Web Services is shutting down Parlor's servers on January 10th, which will very likely shutter the company for at least a week while they scramble to find another service to host them.
  • The sentiment of many leftists has been an eagerness to eliminate anyone associated with Republicans from any participation in public life, which is not only twisted attitude to hold towards half of the population, it's an ominous one to be advocating for.
  • , and the list goes on, and on, and on.

    No amount of 'Buts' can excuse what happened last week, and the alternate reality it has generated is a new fact of life that America is waking up to this week, and though it seems too akin to a dystopian sci-fi story to be taken seriously, it is what is to be seen all around us when we look outside today. Two very different realities are shaping up into a gritty competition for our future - neither one of which is a future that many of us would have ever imagined that any Americans would have any interest in ever seeing, at all.

    And yet we're here.

    Use your head folks, think about what you mean by America, and good luck.

    NOTE: This was first published without the draft that included the section defining what a riot is, and distinguishing between the 2020 Street Riot, and last week's interior riot in the spider's parlor. My face is very, very, red.

    Thursday, January 07, 2021

    Chaos, Power, Law and our Electoral Roadside Bomb - First reactions to Jan 6th

    I haven't spent so much time pointing to the uncertainties involved in a contested presidential election (see here, here, here, and here) in hopes of changing the result we've been told should be accepted, but because those uncertainties are there in our laws while most of the American people are either unaware of them, or were denying them, and in some cases people have even been deliberately misleading people about them. As I said before the mayhem began,
    "...I raised it because the Electoral Count Act is poorly written, unclear law, which has never been tested in court, and has been left waiting like a roadside bomb for the right circumstances to set it off..."
    Well that roadside bomb went off yesterday, and it did so with a blast that left one woman dead inside in our Capitol Building, and the building itself surrounded and overrun, even though the 'oh so wise' amongst us preferred to pretend that that bomb wasn't there and couldn't go off. 

    So yeah, I absolutely question the wisdom of those who've deemed themselves to be the 'oh so wise' amongst us.

    I also question what it is that people think The Law is there for, especially those who consider themselves to be so expert in it. The law is not there, IMHO, so that experts can tell people with grievances to "Stow it, I've read the law and I know that there are several rules and judgements which mean that you haven't a hope of winning, so go away!" One of the primary maxims of the law is to 'Hear the other side', and not only is it not enough to say 'You can't win, go away', but saying so is detrimental to the fundamental nature and purpose of having the Rule of Law in the first place - to provide Justice - and justice cannot be enjoyed if the grievances and defenses of the parties involved are not properly heard. 

    'There oughta be a law' - because why?
    One of the first blockbuster trilogies in the Western world is Aeschylus's The Orestia, which gives a dramatic presentation of the chaos that the passionate and unbounded powers that violent vengeance will devastate a society through. More importantly, it shows how the 'first' Athenian court of law was established so as to contain and direct those dangerously passionate powers, through a rational means of airing grievances by the Rule of Law, which can then safely contain and manage those elemental powers in a society, and enjoy a state of justice.

    That's at the core of what our laws do, and why we have them. But for our laws to be able to even attempt to achieve justice, it is important and necessary that the parties to a dispute be provided a means to be heard in a reasonable and methodical manner, by rules of evidence and argument, so that each can feel that they've presented their case as best it could be, so that a reasonable judgement can be rendered. Only then is it possible for both parties to feel - even when losing - that the issue has been resolved in a fair manner.

    For that sense of resolution to be achieved and to enable We The People to live comfortably within them, it's necessary that those laws be clear. Whether a law operates at the level of the courtroom, or extends into providing for government to establish and maintain those courts, or involves the larger system of laws for legislating and upholding all of our laws, and/or providing for the security and defense of the land within which those laws apply, the laws must be clear and understandable.

    In those cases when our laws are written ambiguously and unclearly, it is one of the purposes of the courts is to identify them as being poorly written laws by rendering opinions on them, so that legislatures can rewrite or repeal those laws. But too often, poorly written laws are not dealt with and they remain 'on the books', and are negligently left there. And too few of us see the problem with that. Such laws pose a danger to us all because their unclear directions and confused purposes, fail to provide an orderly means of containing that power, which is the entire reason for those laws existing in the first place. 

    That sense of resolution and ease with our laws is essential to our system of government and to the rule of law. 

    When those on one side of an issue  - especially one which involves the apex of our laws (such as electing its chief executive)  - are told that their grievances will not be heard, even though reasonable person can find a means through those laws they must live with, that they not only should be heard, but that they can 'see a path' to winning the dispute if they were to be heard... well, then your laws (or those telling you to endure them) are not geared to resolving disputes, but to inflaming them. 

    Unclear laws provide a means for people to imagine 'legally' taking actions which cannot be taken without also abusing the laws and rights of those they were written to protect. Such laws bring about injustice instead of justice, as both parties are given reasons for feeling justified in their positions. Such laws and the confused justifications they encourage, threaten to burst open and release those dangerous societal powers which The Rule of Law was originally intended to contain, and it's likely that they will do so with unpredictable and chaotic results upon all of We The People

    That's where we've found ourselves, courtesy of the recent contested election for the President of the United States of America, courtesy of a set of laws governing those elections which are themselves unclear, confusing, and do nothing but add to the lack of resolution which so many people feel over the election(s) itself.

    President Trump didn't just dream up his expectations for wanting Vice President Pence to choose which counts he'd count, he was told by legal scholars that that was a realistic option! Other scholars will say that isn't possible, and still others will give still other conflicting opinions upon the same matter. The Electoral Count Laws were written to resolve a particular set of disputes in counting competing slates of electoral votes. Whatever those law's original intentions may have been, they are unclear and confused in their directions and purposes, so much so that their infamous lack of clarity (legal disputes exist over what they even mean by the words 'count' and 'fail', and worse) have encouraged numerous legal experts to 'find' in them any number of interpretations and justifications for competing and contradictory challenges and actions to be taken in that most dangerous moment of all, the peaceful transfer of power at the very top of our national government. 

    That my fellow Americans, is a recipe for the very disaster we find ourselves in today, and not only should no one be surprised by it, but our discussions of the last month should have ensured that no one would be surprised by it, but because so many chose to dismiss or ignore it, here we are. Surprise.

    I haven't been urging this discussion in order to enable one goal or another to be realized, but so that active discussion and debate would make people aware of the potential confusion and chaos inherent in them, and so provide a means to clarify what could happen, and what would be best to happen, and for our political representatives to be made aware of our awareness and expectations of them, and vice versa.

    We did not do that. Many among us refused to even consider ("...it's not a cult! har har...") doing that. Some ignored that, some ridiculed the possibility that anything could 'go wrong' on their merry way to inauguration day and saying 'buh by' to the big bad Orange Man. 

    But that legal roadside bomb was there, and it was triggered, and it went off in our nation's capitol yesterday with a loss of life and impact on the operations of our nation's government in one of its most critical moments. And that won't be the end of it. One of the many downsides of bad laws is that they provide a means for people feeling justified in unreasonable expectations, which is a veritable nursery for further resentment and turmoil, and if not dealt with, it will soon burst open upon us all once again.

    This particular legislative bomb has been present in our laws for over a century, and it's still there actively waiting to explode upon us again in the future, and my advice is that maybe this time we shouldn't behave as if it'll just go away if we ignore it.

    There's much more to be said on this, but at the moment I'm out of time. Back later.

    Monday, January 04, 2021

    An unexpected 'Paper Chase' begins on January 6th - a rant

    Over the weekend eleven more senators, including Senators Cruz, Johnson, Lankford, Daines, Kennedy, Blackburn, Braun, declared their intention to join with members of the House of Representatives during the Electoral College certification process on January 6th, "...in forcing votes in both houses on whether to accept the presidential electors being challenged...", concluding with:
    "...Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given' and ‘lawfully certified' (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed.

    "We are not naïve. We fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise. But support of election integrity should not be a partisan issue. A fair and credible audit-conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20-would dramatically improve Americans' faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next President. We owe that to the People.

    "These are matters worthy of the Congress, and entrusted to us to defend. We do not take this action lightly. We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it. And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and to do everything we can to restore faith in our Democracy."
    These senators were immediately met with heavy criticism from the editors of National Review, some charged them with not only taking unconstitutional actions, but even of being opposed to the 'electoral process' and the Constitution itself, and of risking the 'legitimacy of the election' (psst! Half of America already questions its legitimacy, the question now is how to resolve that). And that was just what came from the Right. The Left went bananas. Then there was the rest of 'the Right', who've been positively jubilant over the news and are confident that 'it will work'. Here's a question for you: What happens if this electoral challenge does 'work' (an exceedingly small possibility)? What do you suppose happens with those who've been hoping for that and it doesn't work? What about everyone else who've been blindsided by this and are now shaking their heads and saying 'WTH is this all about?!?' Sounds chaotic, doesn't it? Wow, go figure, who could've seen this coming... oh, that's right, anyone who was willing to look! 

    On seeing the senator's statement, I posted the following:
    "So. The results of November's Presidential Election, which so many have so carelessly been proclaiming to be a 'settled issue', a 'sure thing', is beginning to look somewhat less so. Surprise. Multiple Representatives, and now at least two Senators, are going to challenge it on January 6th. To be sure, that may not change a thing, or it may reverse it, and/or it may lead to complete chaos. I've said all along that I've absolutely no clue how a contested presidential election will turn out, but one thing I do know, those who've been leading so many to think it was 'a done deal', will bear more than a little responsibility for the intensity of what may follow from their surprise at learning that it never was. Happy New Year, 2020 + 1."
    Someone I know who is an accomplished and highly respected constitutional lawyer, has argued cases before the supreme court, and is one of the few who has actually won an election fraud cases, soon replied to my post, commenting that:
    "This is false. There is no lawful, constitutional path by which Donald Trump can be declared the winner of the November election. So in that sense, the result of the election is indeed a settled issue. The question is whether a sufficient number of Republicans will choose to act unlawfully and unconstitutionally in order to nullify the result of the election. A distressing number of Republicans are lining up to do so. That they are willing to abandon the Constitution and the rule of law in hopes of preventing a Biden presidency (or perhaps just casting a pall of illegitimacy over Biden's presidency) says horrible, horrible things about those engaged in this charade."
    Respectfully, he missed my point. When he states that "There is no lawful, constitutional path by which Donald Trump can be declared the winner of the November election.", three points which spring to mind:
    1. Whether or not Trump can be declared the winner of the election has never been my point, my point has always been - stated repeatedly and repeatedly ignored by those I've been arguing it with - that there is the potential in our laws for great turmoil ahead which should be acknowledged and discussed and debated, and it shouldn't be pretended as if it's a done deal with nothing but smooth sailing ahead into inauguration day.
    2. "There is no lawful, constitutional path..." As accomplished as my friend is, Sen. Cruz, who has also argued cases before the Supreme Court, and served as solicitor general of Texas, is no slouch on the Constitution either, and he clearly has a different interpretation than my friend's interpretation. It would be swell if they could argue this out in court, but guess what: If that ever happens, it will only come well after the actual incident which is now certain to take place, beginning on January 6th.
    3. This is an active legislative and political process operating within the bounds of the constitution and some poorly defined laws written under it, and as the SCOTUS has never ruled on any part of it, differences of opinion on what is and is not lawful are going to be playing out in real time before us, beginning this week. Poorly written laws lead to differing interpretations of how to apply that law, and one of the purposes of the Supreme Court, under our Rule of Law, is to examine and render judgement on such actions - once that has happened, there will there begin to be a benchmark for saying which approach was, or wasn't, found to be constitutional, but at this point in time, it's all opinion and conjecture.
    The laws that've been written to 'fix' our electoral process, are not clear laws, and no one reading them can be certain of having a clear understanding of what most other people will think they mean, and no one knows or can know how others in power will act upon these laws, or how still others will react to those actions, and no one can know for certain how events will play out this week, now that these laws actually have in fact been triggered. 

    That much is and should have been obvious to anyone reading them. Yet the editors of the National Review, and many others on the Right and Left, and especially in the media, are expressing how shocked they are over the senator's statement. In their view, representatives were simply not expected to object to the Electoral Count, and no Senators - let alone twelve - were expected to declare their support for such an objection (never mind that twice in the past a senator has joined with House Members to object to the electoral count). This is an incredibly serious matter, and not just for this election, but for all of these people who expected the process to go rolling smoothly on, simply because they wanted it to.

    [Pardon a brief aside - if you haven't read or seen the movie or tv series "The Paper Chase", there are two scenes from it that come to mind today. The first is when a student in the fearsome Professor Kingsfield's law class, makes a foolish assumption on the first day of class and is 'shrouded' by the professor, symbolically made dead to the class, and he's advised by all to drop out of the professor's class. The student, Mr. Hart, who idolizes Kingsfield, figures out how to get the professor to physically remove his shroud, and becomes a living part of the professor's class once again (that scene from the tv series can be found here). My point is not to cast my friend as Professor Kingsfield, or myself as anything like Mr. Hart, but only to point out that The Law can make us all feel as if we have no part in it, and that we should not meddle in its matters. or question what its 'experts' say it means. That is an illusion, and one which the founders of this nation rejected wholeheartedly, and we should as well. Our Constitution was written, and its laws were intended for, We The People to understand them and in some sense, to oversee their management. That we've let ourselves be intimidated by it, or mystified by it, and worse have let ourselves become governed by bad laws, is something that must be put to an end, and it has to be done so by us. Particularly at this moment in time, we should be taking notes on just what a mess some of our most important laws - such as those governing our elections - have become, and insist that they be revised so that they can be understood and understood to be constitutional, or be repealed. It is time for us to stop leaving our laws to lawyers and legislators. It won't be easy, but it must be done. Ok, back the real life paper chase before us].

    Those who'd like us to ignore that this election has been contested since the day after election day, would have us believe that the Constitution, and particularly it's 12th Amendment, are all that's in play at the moment, but as noted, that is not the case. The problem is that after the last major electoral disruption, Congress wrote The Electoral Count Act of 1887, primarily to handle competing slates of electors being sent to Congress by the states (BTW, no matter how official they may or may not be, we do now have seven states 'submitting' competing slates of electors) but the Electoral Count Act goes further than that and gets muddier than simply selecting the slate of electors to be counted, and it does so with a notable lack of clarity, a lack which has not yet been tested in any court, and that lack of clarity was and is a clear opening for the unexpected to stroll into one of the most volatile moments of our collective lives, that being in the midst of the transfer of presidential power from one administration to the next (the process of electoral counts has since been objected to in 1969, and in 2001 (possibly more than you want to know about the interpretation at that time), and 2005, and against Trump in 2017). I cannot for the life of me figure out how anyone with any knowledge of the process, hasn't been raising red flags about it. It doesn't require a person to support these challenges, to see them coming and to warn people that they are in fact there, that there is in fact a potentially dangerous pothole in the road to the inauguration before us. That is something that we should have been doing everything possible to make people aware of, and we should have all been intently discussing and debating this matter, rather than deriding others for mentioning even the possibility of it, and pretending it 'won't ever happen'.

    Please note that I'm not making a claim about the validity of the charges of fraud (I definitely have my suspicions, but I'm also curious about why when a Wisconsin judge gave Trump's team an opportunity to argue their case in court, they passed?), I'm only saying that where our laws are unclear, actions are likely to be taken whose results cannot be predicted, and we should have been aware of and preparing for that. And unclear laws are exactly what we're dealing with here, numerous experts have been saying so for decades, in statements such as this one noted in the National Constitution Center's post on electoral disputes:
    "...Election scholar Edward Foley wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in early December about the act’s language issues. “I have spent much of my academic career trying to parse its meaning, and I still find it impenetrable or, at the very least, indeterminate,” he admitted. Various problems Foley pointed to included unclear roles of state governors and other state officials as “certifiers” and what role the vice president can play in the process..."
    That the wording of the law invites impressions such as that, practically screams out an invitation for the unexpected to occur. I don't know what's going to happen, and I'm unconvinced that anyone else does either - people, highly competent & informed people believe that they have very good reasons for what they think it means, and for what they say should happen, but that's not the nearly the same thing as knowing what will actually happen. For those just now beginning to try figuring this process out, here's the Congressional Research Center's interpretation of The Electoral Count Act of 1887.

    The plain fact is that the Electoral Count Act of 1887 (see also 'Counting electoral votes in Congress' 1948) has been in place for over a century, supposedly responsible leaders in congress have been well aware that it is an unclear and horribly written law that entire time which almost ensures a disaster of misinterpretations and calculated uses & misuses if ever fully triggered, and it's seemed fairly obvious since early November that it would likely be triggered. What are we doing?!

    The Electoral College is not a stand alone process, it is a feature of the Constitution which operates within it, and within those laws written under it, and contesting it does not make you opposed to the Constitution. The Constitution itself, in certain circumstances, gives final say not to the Electoral College, but to Congress. Congress has itself written further laws, such as in the Electoral Count Act, which further define how the Electoral College votes are to be received, and or called into question. Unfortunately, those laws are not models of clarity, which means and has clearly meant for over a century, that if an election were ever contested, no one can say for certain how it will turn out when it comes time for those laws to be triggered.

    What are we doing allowing such important issues to go unaddressed? Pretending as if it simply wouldn't be acted upon because it seems (and possibly is) unconstitutional, is not going to keep it from being acted upon by those with their own opinions and best of intentions for how it can and should be used. I've tried my best to point this out almost since the day after the election to point this out. I think it's been a tragically missed opportunity that it was brushed aside, the issue should have been the center of popular discussion and debate for the last month, and if it had it might've headed off, or at least reduced, the turmoil which may be coming our way in the coming weeks. Instead, far too many informed people chose to mock and ignore the possibility of it, and I can find no sense in that.

    I am in no 'camp' on this but that of the concepts and principles that our Constitution was derived from, and the laws written under it. The only position I have taken on this, is that of one with eyes to see the problem that was plainly laying in wait for us. I'm not arguing the soundness or legality of the allegations of fraud. I'm of course still hoping that Biden will lose, and I know that affidavits of fraud have been filed, charges have been made, irregularities have been alleged and in at least one case, clearly identified (PA Lawmakers: Numbers Don’t Add Up, Certification of Presidential Results Premature and In Error), but my hopes have no standing in the matter, and neither I nor anyone else have seen evidence of fraud being presented, tested and determined to be publicly proven (or disproven) in a court of law - I would very much like to see that process carried out, but at this point that is no longer the point. 

    One point that should be considered, is what powers do our courts have to do anything about it, if they do discover proof of massive voter fraud? What's the plan? What laws have been written to address that dangerous possibility? Almost none. People have been hiding their heads for a very long time. The point is, that our laws - which We The People are responsible for - have put this situation in our path, and those who were in a position to make Americans aware of it, and to face that fact (media, academics, political leaders on all sides), have not only failed to do so, but have actively sought to deny the possibility of it. We should have been facing and debating that, and letting our representatives know that we were aware of that and had expectations for how they should handle the situation, and those representatives should have been busily informing their constituents about it, and/or alternatives to it. Instead, we've received smarmy and snide comments about any thoughts that the election wasn't yet a 'done deal'.

    The fact is that once this election became a contested election, we were no longer on the track of 'the same old thing', and I think it was foolish for anyone to deny that,  it was foolish and reckless to go along with childish notions of a 'Office of the President Elect', when the electoral process was still very much in question, and it was and is beyond foolish to tell people 'it's over, deal with it', when a plain reading of the 12th Amendment, the Electoral Count Act of 1887 (and related laws passed since - there are even some claiming that the 20th & 25th Amendments could somehow be brought to bear) make it obvious that when contested, there's no way to know - not guess, know - how it will turn out. And I'm not referring only to who will be sworn in on January 20th, but to what response Americans will continue to have to the full process that leads up to that. That is what I've been saying all along, but people who preferred to let their feelings and partisanship cloud their eyes, have refused to see beyond what they've wanted to see. We could have, and should have, been discussing and debating the obvious problems ahead, but now that 'never going to happen' is absolutely going to happen this week on January 6th.

    Keep in mind that it's very possible that the representatives' objections will be raised, argued, and dismissed within a few hours on January 6th, with no further surprises for us on through to inauguration day. 

    We'll see. But either way, it's better to be prepared for the unexpected, than to be completely surprised by it. I don't know how this is going to turn out, but unlike others, at least I can say that I actually knew that much to begin with.

    The person who is sworn in (hopefully) on January 20th will be President of the United States, and that fact doesn't need or depend upon something so silly as whether or not I 'support them'. Whether or not I think that they and their policies & actions should be supported or opposed, or even warrant impeachment (please, that door's wide open), is a very different matter from who the president will be, and some of the responses that people will have will be more pointed because of what 'unexpectedly' happens this week. Who will be POTUS after what happens between the 6th & 20th, and beyond, I won't hazard to guess.

    See ya on the 7th.
    /rant

    Thursday, December 31, 2020

    A Shocking New Year's Resolution 2021: Prefer being alone with your own thoughts, to an electric shock

    As the year 2019 2020 comes to a close, and a new  the decade begins continues, ask yourself this: Can you spend fifteen minutes in a room alone with yourself, with no digital devices, TV, music, books or anything else but your own thoughts? According to a study, 67 percent of men, and 25 percent of women, would rather give themselves painful electric shocks, than spend an uninterrupted 15 minutes of being alone with their own thoughts, without any distraction at all. Apparently there's a connection between that, and why “depending on where you get your numbers, somewhere between 81 percent and 92 percent of New Year's Resolutions fail.

    Can you face fifteen minutes alone with your own thoughts? I'll just add, that anyone who expects America to continue while filled with Americans who can't stand being alone with their own thoughts, is... to put it politely... a fool.

    While I have zero interest in making New Year's Resolutions, that seems like a worthy one to strive for!

    This is an interesting article on how most people fail to face themselves without distraction:
    "...What is striking, is that simply being alone with their own thoughts for 15 minutes was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid.

    Wilson and his colleagues summarized their findings this way: “The untutored mind does not like to be alone with itself....”
    Their 'studies say' that your resolutions to avoid snacking, drinking, surfing online fail, because you need those distractions from yourself, and that,
    "...We reach for a donut the same way some study participants reached for the electric shock.

    Is it a surprise that we turn to celebrity gossip or Facebook again and again? Anything seems better than an uncomfortable feeling. Coping works for a few minutes, but then we reach for a distraction...."
    If you too would rather indulge in any distractions, even to the point of experiencing pain, over the prospect of being alone with your own thoughts, might I suggest that rather than making New Year's Resolutions to break bad habits... which you are 80% to 90% likely to fail at, that you instead begin the novel notion of getting comfortable with your own thoughts, by, wait for it: Thinking upon things worth thinking about?

    I've suggested some of this for beginning a New Year before, and for giving thanks within the year as well, but now that 'studies show' that my suggestions might have a 'scientific basis' for them 😎, I'll suggest again that instead of making New Year's Resolutions, I propose some old questions to be newly asked. And while you won't have to return any membership fees if you fail to answer them, if you get in the habit of just asking them, you might also get to the the point of preferring your own company, to that of a painful electric shock!

    Start off with some basics:
    "...Western Civilization didn't catch on because of its answers... those are still being argued about more than 3,000 years on... but because of its questions, and its method of comparing your answers to reality, and pursuing the questions which those answers lead to. Questions such as:
    • What is real and how do we know it?
    • What is Good? Why should we care?
    • How can we recognize what is not Good?
    • What is a Good life?
    • What is Happiness?
    • Should what is Right and Wrong, guide our actions?
    • What is Beauty?...What is Truth?...What is Justice?
    • What does it benefit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his soul?
    Ask the right questions, and your listeners [even if that listener is you] will question their own answers, and reality will do the rest...."
    Most of all, question what you assume to be true.

    There is of course also another very practical, and very important reason, to get comfortable with asking yourself these questions, and for questioning what answers you might first come to, and that is that they are consequential to your life, and to the future of this nation in the year 2020, and for the coming decade of the 20's. The immediate impact of considering such questions is in fact very likely to be far more compelling to our new present, than when I first suggested asking yourself them five years ago:
    "...As the old year slips out and the New Year opens up, it's a particularly good time to ask questions that have to do with what is timeless... lest auld acquaintance with them should be forgot. And while it might not seem so, on the surface, these questions we've been asking most definitely involve issues that are timeless - see if you can see how. For instance: Where do you think you fit in, in today's world, are you Pro-Progress, or Pro-Regress? Are you for the Rule of Law, or the Rule of Rules? Are the 'Big Ideas' of Western Civilization something you think much about, or do you mostly shrug them off and just kinda make a snap judgment on various news stories that happen to flit into your view, now and then... and then forget about 'em? Or are you one of the many of us who don't see the point of considering such questions at all, especially not in the midst of the current events raging around us today - ''I'm not getting sucked into THAT mess!'? I hate to cast a pall upon the coming New Year, but I have a sad suspicion that what most people think doesn't matter, isn't going to matter much longer.

    Can anyone really think that the precious snowflakes on our college campuses, or the SJW (Social Justice Warriors) brigades in our streets who are openly advocating to eliminate the Freedom of Speech, or 'unbiased' newscasters talking openly of how those they violently disagree with are 'enemies of the state', can anyone really think that these types are going to be tolerant towards those who say 'Oh, I don't pay attention to that stuff' for much longer? How much longer? And when that vocal 'majority' refuses to allow others the choice to either disagree or evade deciding, what do you suppose is going to be the reaction of those who do disagree with them, and what options will they have to do so?

    Will the one side have any option left open to them, but to take the other side at their own words, as being their enemies?

    No, the time is coming where all will have to decide, one way or the other, where they stand on these issues, because they are what is driving our current events, and your place within them, and brushing them off cannot remain an option much longer. Each person is going to have to choose what they support, and what they will reject. But for those who haven't been paying attention, those - Left, Right, Libertarian and the target rich Moderate center - who've been coasting along on the strength of their snap judgments on this and that - what are they going to base those decisions upon?..."
    Again, don't worry so much about whether the answers that come to your mind are correct, just focus on questioning them. Even questioning just one or two of those questions, is likely to carry you through at least fifteen minutes of time. And at the very least, the results are likely to be less shocking than being left alone with nothing to distract you from them.

    And remember, as the 'studies show' showed,
    "Try to notice: Right before you reach for the habit you want to break, do you experience an uncomfortable feeling that you are trying to distract yourself from?

    You won’t break a habit if you are not comfortable with being uncomfortable...."
    Break the habit. Prefer the company of your thoughts for fifteen undistracted minutes, to getting an electric shock, for after all, the new year, not to mention the new decade, is going to be very much longer than 15 minutes!

    Happy New Year!


    Friday, December 25, 2020

    What gifts has Christmas brought you?

    (With a post from 2011, here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas!)
    What meaning is there to be found in Christmas, even by those who find no meaning in Christmas at all?

    First off, grant that the false alternative of 'Not all Christians are good, therefore Christianity is bad', is in fact a false alternative, one that you should not burden your thoughts further with. Don't look at how Christians often misbehave as badly or worse than non-Christians, or that Christianity has failed to make heaven on earth, look instead at what is here in our lives as a result of the birth which Christmas commemorates.

    Christianity has given us the ability to see that each person, peasant or prince, is as beloved of God as another, and that their choice is such a holy a thing that even God himself does not attempt to prevent it - not even with the choice of whether or not to accept God into their lives - Christianity declared that every man has the ability to accept God into their life - or to reject him - and that such godlike power is given to every man, the power to gainsay the will of All Mighty God - now there's a gift worth giving.

    And every man, Christian or Gentile, has profited from it.

    It has brought us the concept that the mistakes you make are of little value against what you eventually get right and true. Even if everyone of your choices were to reject God and what God wanted for you... your change of heart is enough to restore you to him... as if you who had persisted your whole life in adding two plus two and behaving as if the answer were three, or one, or any number of other numbers - the fact that you might finally see, and admit, that two plus two equals four, wipes your slate clean (note: it doesn't claim that the consequences of your errors will be wiped away, only that you would be accepted as finally whole and true).

    Western Civilization is inextricably a Greco/Roman Judeo/Christian One
    Through Christianity and the philosophy of the Greeks and Romans; the Good, the Beautiful and the True, are not just ideals, but principles of eternal Truths attainable by every person, birthrights, no matter their station in life. With this understanding comes the realization that every man, woman and child has the God given right to pursue them, and that the worldly power of government should be devoted to defending their choices in that pursuit. That is an ideal that would not exist, America would never, could never have been, without Christianity having come into the world first.

    Phenomenal.

    Has this realization made men better? Perhaps not entirely so. But it has made it possible for men to see that they can, and should, be better, and because of that the world is immensely better off than it was before the advent of Christianity.

    Prior to the Judeo-Christian views, the world was ruled by power without rival. Even on those rare occasions where truth and wisdom was sought, and an effort to see the scales of justice balanced was made - Greece and Rome - nowhere did the desire to do good have value in and of itself, so much so that people would expend great amounts of time, effort, blood and treasure in an attempt to improve the lot of others, to bring them not just goods but Goodness, nowhere else did this occur upon the globe (and I do not mean do-gooders, a mirror image, and often a rejection of doing good).

    Charities are something you will look in vain to see in pre or non-Christian cultures, and those few exceptions which you might find some semblance of them, simply prove the rule.

    Even Art - not as decoration or garish depiction, but as an idealization of truth and goodness and a means of mending and lifting the soul - that is not found outside the Greco/Roman-Judeo/Christian, world view (and no, do not attempt to compare an oriental gong or pipe to Gregorian Chants or Bach, do not attempt to equate a golden Buddha with the Sistine Chapel - do not).

    More than all of that, Christianity has brought with it the idea of 'you must be born again', or 'born from above' to a central position in every life; even to secular views this brought the conviction that your ideals and actions must come from and align with higher principles, rather than settling for greater quantities of measures and pleasures; that Quality is infinitely greater than Quantity. With the idea that God became Man, came the possibility of the idea that man could participate in the divine, and that even though you will never become perfect yourself (itself a monumental realization), you can strive to become more perfect through aligning your ideals with those of God - the meaning of progress itself is meaningless without that.

    And that is Good.

    And through this, there comes the possibility that men can, and should, strive for peace on earth and good will towards all. And whether or not you believe that Jesus was ever even born, let alone the Christ, the idea that he was, has opened the possibility of more meaningful lives for all in this world, than was ever possible before Christ.

    Merry Christmas to all!

    Tuesday, December 15, 2020

    How would Secessionists secede from themselves?

    Just in time to celebrate the 229th birthday of our Bill of Rights, we have talk of 'secession' making the rounds again, coming this election season from the Right, just as last election it came from the Left (with bonus points to the Left for 4 years of '#resistance!' - sheesh). While then as now it's a (dangerous) bi-partisan foolishness, as it has been brought up, it's worth taking a bit of a different perspective on the matter for those who think it a good idea, which this very worthwhile article has brought to mind. So if you think that secession would be a good idea, I've got a quick two part question for you to consider:
    • With which state(s), and with who?
    What I mean by the first part of that, is that presumably you want some states to secede so as to distance yourselves from your fellow un-American states, and avoid being sucked into a civil war (...um...), right? So there must be one or more states you have in mind whose populations aren't as bitterly divided by 40%-60% of their own people fighting with each other over the very same issues that've prompted this secession talk, so that... you know... your seceding state(s) won't fall into their own internal civil wars... right? So for these state's whose populations are solidly 70% or more 'likeminded' with you on all of today's most divisive issues - I assume you have more of a basis for believing that than they all like the flag and stand for the Star Spangled Banner, right? What makes you think that these likeminded Americans of yours will have a better understanding of what America once was and should now be - did its people somehow avoid public schools? No? Huh. And as for the second part of that question: What will you do with that 30% or more of their populations who don't support your secessionary notions? And what if they would rather that your state went with their group of states?

    Maybe you've got all of that covered, which would be fantastic news, but for you and your likeminded fellows who think they're up to the task of renewing America, I've got an even quicker question for you (see the opening of the article just mentioned), which, I should probably apologize in advance for, as I suspect it will likely decimate the ranks of your 70%. Brace yourself, it's a doozy - ready? Here we go:
    • What is the name 'Cincinnati' derived from, and what is its relevance to America and being an American?
    What? Do you know? You do?! That is fantastic! Now, go ahead and ask it of your selected likeminded fellow Americans. I'll wait. It's ok, I don't think I'll have to wait for too long, because I, like the author of this article, have found that most people, and probably especially most of those with college educations who will imagine themselves to be your new leaders, have no clue whatsoever that 'Cincinnati' refers to anything other than the name of a city in Ohio.

    So what, you say? So what, is that this is more than just a trivia question, it's a leading indicator of the kind of knowledge that is tragically absent from the minds and character of those living in America today. That little question is a reminder that the problems that we're facing today involve more than just what that 'other' political party, or parties, thinks or does, it has more to do with what we are no longer thinking of, or with, at all. I won't give away the answer (go read it, I'll wait), but I agree with the author, that,
    "...Not that long ago, just about any American knew as much or, even more, probably could even have named a few of the most famous Cincinnati. Today, not so much. But our forgetting is not limited to interesting historical facts. What has been forgotten includes the purpose of essential elements of the Founders’ design...."
    That is not a trivial matter, and it is of the utmost significance to anyone who'd rather help than harm America. Our nation was first and foremost founded from and upon an understanding of an ideal that was supported and made possible through a set of knowledge and beliefs which fired the varied peoples of those thirteen individual colonies into forming themselves up and into a new nation. We The People today, do not have that set of knowledge and beliefs - and so more pointedly the question becomes, with whom are you going to secede and reform America?!

    IMHO we don't 'get America back' without a population that understands and believes in what made America possible in the first place. Having a population who've simply been born here and grew up watching many of the same TV shows and sporting events, isn't going to cut it. If you disagree, if you think that your birth certificate is all it takes to make you an 'American' (look around you), I'm sorry to tell you that the 'blood & soil' thoughts you've been thinking with have far more in common with ideas of tribalism, monarchism & fascism, than with what first made America possible and exceptional.

    The problem here is that America isn't something that can be established by a physical fight alone, in the way that an ethnic nationality or kingly bloodline could just fight over land and then... be themselves. America began as a set of ideas that were known and understood first, and only then were they able to create the tangible 'thing' of America which could then be physically fought for.

    John Adams described the moment when the idea of America was lit in the soon to be revolutionaries hearts and minds, which was during an assembly in 1761, when James Otis rose to speak out against King George's 'Writs of Assistance' , when, as Adams recalled it,
    "...Otis was a flame of fire! With a promptitude of Classical Allusions, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events & dates, a profusion of Legal Authorities, a prophetic glance of his eyes into futurity, and a rapid torrent of impetuous Eloquence he hurried away all before him. American Independence was then & there born. The seeds of Patriots & Heroes to defend the Non sine Diis Animosus Infans; to defend the Vigorous Youth were then & there sown. Every Man of an immense crouded Audience appeared to me to go away, as I did, ready to take Arms against Writs of Assistants. Then and there was the first scene of the first Act of opposition to the Arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there the Child Independence was born. In fifteen years i.e. in 1776. he grew up to Manhood, & declared himself free..."[emphasis mine]
    We no longer even recognize the relevance of 'a promptitude of Classical Allusions' which Otis fired his listeners with, let alone an eloquence that could stir men's souls with the firm goodness required to stand and fight for that understanding of liberty which meant more than simply doing whatever you felt like at the moment. We don't have that understanding in enough numbers today to be able to confidently recognize each other as being worthy of rallying around. The question isn't whether or not we have enough people with patriotic feelings, it's are there enough patriots who know and understand what they'd actually be fighting for, to the point that they wouldn't soon fall to fighting amongst themselves soon after? As you've guessed, IMHO the answer is 'no'.

    Voting Away America
    And here's another very non-trivial question, for those of you who are (rightly) up in arms about the latest election:
    • When did America first consciously take constitutional steps to distance itself from its Founding?
    The answer to that is in 1913, when, before the two party system was fully cemented into our body politic (it was a big part of the final preparations for it), in that year We The People we took two very large steps backwards, first with the 16th Amendment, which established the federal income tax & federal reserve - and was tragic - but even more critical to our problems today, was the 17th Amendment. This same article notes how the 17th Amdt has had a great deal to do with the weakened state of our federal system and the sickly nature of 'the vote' as we know it today, and of how its power is now being used so very differently than it once was:

    "...Many of us do not know that senators were originally chosen by the state legislatures—and this change was made not that long ago. In 1913, around the beginning of the Progressive Era, the 17th Amendment to the Constitution tossed aside this critical feature of the Framers’ design, replacing it with the direct election of senators we have today.

    The Founders would certainly have opposed the 17th Amendment because they would have understood that it would throw the system they gave us completely out of balance, as it, in fact, has done. It was perhaps the single change that would do the most to undo what the Founders had accomplished by means of the Constitution.

    Americans in 1913 showed by their votes they had forgotten the purpose of the Framers’ design for the Senate. We today, by and large, have even forgotten that generation’s forgetting.

    The consequences of this change to America’s constitutional order have been many and profound. Probably the most obvious has been the inevitable erosion of the independence of the states and of their ability to counterbalance federal power.

    The Senate was once a barrier to the passage of federal laws infringing on the powers reserved to state governments, but the Senate has abandoned that responsibility under the incentives of the new system of election. Because the state governments no longer have a powerful standing body representing their interests within the federal government, the power of the federal government has rapidly grown at the expense of the states. State governments increasingly are relegated to functioning as administrative units of today’s gargantuan central government...."
    How we elect our elected officials - particularly Senators and the President - is an extremely important and non-trivial issue, and in much the same way that the 'Cincinnati' question is not a trivial question, what the relation of 'the Vote' is to Representative Government, are not trivial issues, and our treating them as if they are, is the very means by which our once vaunted sense of American Exceptionalism, has been trivialized to the point that it has been today.

    We got to this point slowly, 'progressively', and I think it'll take a long stretch of time to get back out of it. Our slide began in the schools with an evermore corrupting form of 'education' (even by respectable Founder's such as Noah Webster, who devised the educational poison of modern 'Textbooks' so as to help steer students away from learning a 'promptitude of Classical Allusions'), and it'll take a return to an actual education, to correct it. If you'd like some advice on how we might begin our journey back from this pro-regressive nightmare, here's a couple steps that I think would actually be useful:
    • Step 1 - get your kids out of the schools, and get your friends & family to get their kids the hell out of the schools, and talk - a lot - about what needs to be known to become an American.
    • Step 2 - establish a consistent, verifiable voting system where paper votes can be securely cast by legitimately registered (and breathing) citizens who - except in isolated instances - cast their votes in person, and establishes a secure audit trail.
    • Step 3 - spread steps 1 & 2 and... wait.
    The bottom line is that if you want to fix America, we should each of us first start with ourselves so that we can at least be certain that the population of actual Americans living in America will have been increased by at least 1. The good news is that you can begin doing so together with friends & family and so increase the population by several persons all at once.

    That 2020 Vision
    I still am not willing to guess at who'll be sworn in as president at the end of January, because I know it would be nothing more than a guess (keep your eyes on Jan 6th though), and that says more about the chaotic nature of our voting systems and of what We The People know of our own laws, than about the bizarre nature of 2020. There is one thing I do know has led us into this mayhem, and that's that the election laws we currently have - while they may enable charging particular individuals with having committed electoral crimes, they are pitifully inadequate for applying to broader organized electoral fraud, and they are entirely unable to do anything at all, once a ballot (or a pallet of them) have been added to the 'ballot box'. At that point, a legitimate ballot and one stuffed in, cannot be distinguished, and the final count of votes is something we are then left with taking on faith.

    That's a problem.

    What's an even more disturbing problem, to me, is that it's beginning to seem that the nature of the 'Secret Ballot' - a 19th century innovation which I've never questioned the value of before - essentially ensures an unaccountable system which invites corruption and the suspicion of it. 

    Could our voting systems be made more effective, secure and auditable, by replacing the 'secret ballot' with a 'private ballot' - where ballots are cast in person (on paper) by an identified, legitimate, and registered voter, so that each ballot could ultimately be traced back to having been legitimately cast? Could that be done without actually identifying that individual voter? And if not, would applying even more legal penalties for unauthorized 'peeking' at a citizen's voting history than is incurred for doing so with tax returns, keep that history private? 

    Those who've had their Tax Records leaked or mysteriously 'audited' by the IRS are probably shaking their heads No.

    That too, is a problem. Nevertheless, looking around me today, I'm thinking that our current unaccountable system needs to come to an end. Fast.

    In short: The system is the way it is, because of the way it is - if we want a change, we'll have to make significant changes to the way it's set up, and that'll likely mean doing so on the federal level (repeal the 17th Amendment!), and also state by state, locality by locality, and person by person.

    But to begin with, let's try taking Step 1, Step 2 & Step 3, and rinse and repeat... and please, lets try doing so as Americans, together - the alternative can be nothing but worse.

    Happy 229th Birthday to our Bill of Rights - and please God may there be many more!

    229 years ago today, December 15th, 1791, our states united in ratifying the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America! How many of the individual rights protected by these amendments as being essential to living in liberty, are what We The People are most divided over, and by, today? 

    We should all pay especially close attention to the preamble that I've put in bold below - IOW: if our Founders didn't trust govt led by the Founding Fathers themselves... why should we trust the bunch we've got in our government(s) today?!

    It's a convenient turn of providence that the first two amendments originally proposed, weren't ratified at the time (one of those two was ratified in the 1990's), because the keeping of government out of religion and its practice, and barring it from tampering with the freedom of speech, the press (which, BTW, doesn't exclude you), the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances should be the first set of individual rights protected from abuse by governmental powers (even and especially if the We The People are urging it to 'do something!' about something), followed immediately, as it now is, by the right to keep and bear arms in their defense, as the 1st & 2nd Amendments do. 

    If you too would like to see our Bill of Rights enjoy many more birthdays, I strongly suggest that you click the links below, and read some of what was in our Founder's minds, when they proposed, debated, and ratified them.

    Proposed Amendments and Ratification
    1789 Elliot 1:338--40

    Congress of the United States;
    Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4th of March, 1789.

    The conventions of a number of the states having, at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added; and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;--

    Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the legislatures of the several states, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all or any of which articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said legislatures, to be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, namely,--


    Articles in Addition to, and Amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the Fifth Article of the original Constitution.

    Art. I. [Not Ratified] After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than one hundred representatives, nor less than one representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred representatives, nor more than one representative for every fifty thousand.

    Art. II. [Not ratified... for two centuries, now the 27th amendment] No law varying the compensation for services of the senators and representatives shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

    Art. III.[1st] 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.

    Art. IV [2nd]. A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    Art. V [3rd]. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law.

    Art. VI [4th]. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon principal cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Art. VII [5th]. No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service, in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject, for the same offence, to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

    Art. VIII [6th]. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right of a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.

    Art. IX [7th]. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reëxamined, in any court of the United States, than according to the rules in common law.

    Art. X [8th]. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    Art. XI [9th]. The enumeration, in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    Art. XII [10th]. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states, respectively, or to the people.

    FREDERICK AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG,
    Speaker of the House of Representatives.
    JOHN ADAMS, Vice-President of the United States,

    and President of the Senate. 
    Attest. John Beckley
    Clerk of the House of Representatives.
    Samuel A. Otis, Secretary of the Senate.
    Which, being transmitted to the several state legislatures, were decided upon by them, according to the following returns:--

    By the State of New Hampshire.--Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 2d article.
    By the State of New York.--Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 2d article.
    By the State of Pennsylvania.--Agreed to the 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th articles of the said amendments.
    By the State of Delaware.--Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 1st article.
    By the State of Maryland.--Agreed to the whole of the said twelve amendments.
    By the State of South Carolina.--Agreed to the whole said twelve amendments.
    By the State of North Carolina.--Agreed to the whole of the said twelve amendments.
    By the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.--Agreed to the whole of the said twelve articles.
    By the State of New Jersey.--Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the second article.
    By the State of Virginia.--Agreed to the whole of the said twelve articles.
    No returns were made by the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia, and Kentucky.

    The amendments thus proposed became a part of the Constitution, the first and second of them excepted, which were not ratified by a sufficient number of the state legislatures.


    The Founders' Constitution
    Volume 5, Bill of Rights, Document 12
    http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/bill_of_rightss12.html
    The University of Chicago Press
    Elliot, Jonathan, ed. The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. . . . 5 vols. 2d ed. 1888. Reprint. New York: Burt Franklin, n.d.