Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Why You May Never Learn the Truth About Anything in Washington

I hang around some pretty intelligent people who have smart friends commenting on their facebook pages. The first part of this post is from a comment on Claude Scales’s Facebook page by William R. Everdell. I think it fits with the NYT article Claude referenced. The second part of this is a shorten version of the NYT Opinion article “Why You May Never Learn the Truth About ICE,” Matthew Connelly, Professor of History, Columbia.

George Orwell in “‘1984’, Winston Smith was dropping documents into the ‘memory hole’ by his desk at the Ministry of Truth – Minitrue

‘Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’

The Department of the Interior and the National Archives have decided to delete files on endangered species, offshore drilling inspections and the safety of drinking water.

This turns out to be just one action in a series of Trump administration attacks on the National Archives and the laws and funding supporting it, all of them aimed at preventing citizens of the republic learning from History.” William R. Everdell, Historian – Facebook

Examples of how this is happening have yet to be examined by Congressional Hearing.

Early in the new year, a photograph of the Women’s March – 2017 was put on display for the “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote,” exhibit. The photo was altered to purposely distort Trump’s name and any words “referencing female anatomy” on depicted posters. Archivist of the United States David Ferriero later apologized for the distortions.

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: February 8 – 9, 1869

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: February 8 – 9, 1869

Note: I fell a little behind on this project. I hope to be fully up to date by the end of this weekend.

On February 8 and 9, 1869, the Senate did something I daresay it would never consider now: it pulled an all-nighter! Despite numerous requests to adjourn, the session ran nearly 24 hours straight, only ending at about 11:30 AM on the 9th (and picked up again at 1 pm).

The text goes on for close to 100 pages, so I can only hope to hit a few highlights here. Numerous subjects were addressed.

Several members, e.g., Sen. Hendricks again posited that the Congress did not have authority even to amend the Constitution if it impinged on the ability of States to pass laws with regard to suffrage:

There is a particular proposition in the Constitution of the United States that it may be amended. Where … does the power of amendment stop? I say the power of amendment is limited to the correction of defects that might appear in the practical operations of the Government; but the power of amendment does not carry with it the power to destroy one form of overnment and establish another.

This was a small minority opinion, which was quite sensibly met with the Supremacy Clause. For example, here is Sen. Freylinghuysen:

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 29, 1869 (3)

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 29, 1869 (3)

Later in the evening debate, Representatives Boutwell (who supported the narrow 15th Amendment language) and Shellabarger (Republican from Ohio) (who supported broader “right to vote” language similar to that espoused by Bingham) had the following exchange on the issue of State voter registration laws:

Boutwell [discussing the narrow non-discrimination based on race proposal]: I am not sure that it will not go so far as to put it out of the power of States to establish a registration law. It certainly does abolish those qualifications in some States which require the voter to pay a small capitation tax …. I think that by arraying against this proposition all the peculiarities of the different States we put the proposition itself in danger. I think it better, therefore, as a matter of practical wisdom, to address ourselves exclusively to those great evils which have existed [already].
Shellabarger: [T]he [braoder, right-to-vote] proposition which I submit is not amenable to the objection … that by it the States would be deprived of the power of passing registration or election laws. Plainly that cannot be so. The Constitution itself in express terms provides that ‘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.’

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Live-blogging Congressional power to ensure fair federal elections: January 28, 1869

Live-blogging Congressional power to ensure fair federal elections: January 28, 1869

As I described in my earlier post today, the power of Congress to determine the manner in which Congressional elections are to be conducted, including power over the districting process, came up in a speech by Rep. Stewart on January 28, 1869. Since this is of critical importance as to Congress’s ability to prohibit gerrymandering of at least Federal elections, below are selections from another important speech.

James B. Beck, Democrat from Kentucky, discussing the proposed Civil Rights Act, addressed the issue of Congress having the power to set the “time, place, and manner” of voting for Representatives. After declaiming at length about the States having the right to determine who formed their electorate, and to determine the times, places, and manner for elections to the State legislatures, he turned to the issue of elections for the US Congress:

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 28, 1869

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 28, 1869

Note: I have fallen a little behind, due to traveling. My apologies! I am making a concerted effort to catch up. Today’s installment is particularly important on the issue of gerrymandering.

On January 28, Rep. Charles Stewart, a Republican from New York, spoke with reference to the proposed Amendment that had been voted out of the Judiciary Committee, which had been amended from:

No State shall deny or abridge the right of its citizens to vote, and hold office, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

to read:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote, and hold office, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Here is a brief excerpt from his speech:

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Will The “Impeachment Charade Fade Quickly”?

Will The “Impeachment Charade Fade Quickly”?

We have not yet had all the final speechifying where GOP senators attempt to justify their votes to make this the first US federal impeachment trial in history (there have been 15, mostly of judges) not to have any witnesses, as well as the foregone acquittal.  But the battle over how it will be viewed in both the short and medium and long runs is already going on.  A sign of this is a column in yesterday’s Washington Post by Hugh Hewitt entitled, “This impeachment charade will fade quickly,” with Hewitt viewing the “charade” part not to mean the refusal of the Senate to have witnesses, but the entire trial itself, which he Trumpisly declares to have consisted of “fake history,”  because Trump will be viewed in 50 years as an “outsize personality” with “a growing list of achievements.”  Claims like this will clearly underpin Trump’s reelection campaign, even as several GOP senators up for reelection will probably find that their votes for the charade of not having witnesses will not “fade quickly” and may well do them in, even if Trump manages to squeak through to reelection.

Here is the list of things Hewitt things are achievements, almost none of which I think are, and most, if  not all, will be viewed as mistakes or Bad Things 50 years from now to the extent they are remembered at all, my comments in brackets.

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 27, 1869 (1)

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 27, 1869 (1)

I have gotten a little behind in this project. Congressional activity picked up considerably in the last week of January 1869.

Rep. Charles A.Eldridge (D-Wisconsin) addressed a civil rights bill by Massachusetts Representative Buckalew under the 14th Amendment as well as the proposed 15th Amendment:

I have not the vanity to suppose that anything I say will cause them to hesitate or consider. Party ends must be accomplished, party purposes must be carried out even though it should revolutionize the Government, overthrow the Constitution, and destroy the Republic.

Hamilton on the same subject in No. 59 of the Federalist … [said], ’Suppose an Article had been introduced into the Constitution empowering the United States to regulate the elections for the particular States, would any men have hesitated to condemn it, both as an unwarranted imposition of power and as a premeditated engine for the destruction of State governments?’

In those days no man would have hesitated to condemn it. The Constitution could never have been adopted if it had contained the grant of power to Congress to determine the qualification of voters for officers of the States. Such a work is left for these days of revolution and usurpation — to the mad fanatics who for particular ends would destroy our Republic of States.

The power to determine the qualifications of electors was, in the States conferred … by the people of the States…. All the powers of the Federal Government come up from the States and people, and it never had and never can have the rightful authority to exercise any power not granted in and by the Constitution. The exercise of any other is rank usurpation.

[I]t seems to me that this bill and resolution for the amendment of the Constitution … for the evils which exist in his judgment with reference to the persons who ought to exercise the right to suffrage, is a filo de se [crime of suicide].  If the power exists in the Federal government to pass this bill, … then I admit that Congress has the right to control the whole question of suffrage and the qualification of electors of all officers ….

Sir, I do not think the gentleman from Massachusetts gave a proper consideration to the fourteenth amendment, as it is called. I will not consider the question of whether this amendment is part of the Constitution; for myself I do not believe that it is….

Source: Congressional Globe,  40th Congress, Third Seeking, pp. 642-45 

What is remarkable about this speech is that Eldridge is not just addressing the Civil Rights bill proposed by Buckalew, but also claims that the even Constitutional amendments are invalid to alter Federal vs. State powers. He considers the power of suffrage in the States to be beyond the control of any proposed revisions to the Constitution itself. Even Chief Justice Roberts, who in the Shelby County case found a right of States to be treated equally in all legislation out in the Constitutional ether, did not go this far.

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Senate Impeachment Trial Day 3, Opening Arguments from Representative Adam Schiff : January 22, 2019


“In this first portion of day 3 of the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), the lead House impeachment manager, began opening arguments by explaining the history of why the framers included impeachment in the Constitution. He then laid out the specifics of the charges against President Trump. Throughout his presentation, Representative Schiff used digital slides, graphics, and videos, including footage from House impeachment inquiry hearings as well as clips of remarks by the president and from White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney during a news conference. ”

Let me know what clips you wish to see. C-SPAN

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 7 and 11, 1869

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 7 and 11, 1869

January 7:  Remarks by Rep. Benjamin M. Boyer, Democrat from Pennsylvania:

Mr. Chairman, the issues supposed to have been settled by the election of General Grant to the Presidency formed the subject of an elaborate speech by the honorable gentleman from Maine [Mr. Blaine] a few days before the adjournment of the Congress for the holidays* in December….. I propose to make [a few brief remarks] upon this the first occasion I have had for reply.  [*Note: oh noes! The War on Christmas in 1869!] 

The late Presidential election decided, of course, that the Republican Party should continue to administer the government through the elected Chief Magistrate of their own choice and a majority of the Forty-First Congress. But it settled scarcely anything else ….

The gentleman lays it down as an inevitable consequence of General Grant’s election that negro suffrage must be accepted as a permanent establishment in the southern States, ‘and at no distant day throughout the entire Union.’ Yet if negro suffrage, which is the very corner-stone of the entire Radical reconstruction, had been divested of all other issues and had been fairly submitted to a vote of the whole people, what man acquainted with the national sentiment will deny that its defeat would have been overwhelming? No other proof is needed to establish this proposition than the decisive vote upon this question when lately presented by itself in several of the great Republican States of the North and the continued exclusion of negroes from the polls in nearly all of them?

It is said, however, that negro suffrage ‘is of necessity conceded as one of the essentials of reconstruction.’ But has the Radical policy of reconstruction itself been so approved and established that it can never be disturbed by future elections? Is there nothing to be apprehended from the continual violation of natural laws and a possible collision of races? Are the reconstruction laws themselves so firmly entrenched upon constitutional grounds that a general revulsion of feeling upon the superior race might not find a ready excuse for sweeping from its foundations the whole work of Radical reconstruction?

…. Those caricatures of republican government imposed by the stranger and the negro upon the disenfranchised white race of the South had become abhorrent to the public mind of the North long before the late presidential election….


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The 2020 Electoral College playing field expands for Democrats

The 2020 Electoral College playing field expands for Democrats

Polling firm Morning Consult has an interactive graph measuring Trump approval by State for each month since January 2016. You can visit it here.

The map has some interesting insights for the 2020 Presidential election race. In the first place, while it would be too cumbersome to show here, in general Trump’s disapproval has spread and intensified over the course of his term. As the latest map, for December, does not include reaction to his reckless warmongering with Iran, I am going to guess that January’s map will be worse for him.

Anyway, while there is obviously some variation from month to month, the latest two months shown below in chronological order, November and December, show – in shades from light pink to red – all of those States that the Democratic candidate has the most decent chance of carrying:

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