Things we learned from djt

Our democracy is fragile

On Facebook last week, I made a request. What are things we learned from djt and his last four or five years in public life?

One couple has downloaded the Constitution, referring to it often for the past 4 years. Another has learned more about the document, “in particular the 12th amendment. But also the 13th and the 25th.”

Of course, I knew about the Electoral College, but prior to the 2020 presidential election, I’d thought of the post-Election Day aspects of it as often as I’ve considered gravity. The recent machinations on December 14 and January 6 are like the wedding guests storming the officiant’s office demanding to see the couple’s license.

A friend chimed in: “The legal meanings of the word treason and what distinguishes it from sedition; and the federal statutes regarding both. How martial law works.

Also, “the structure of the United States District Courts; how and the meaning of SALT (in addition to Strategic Arms Limitation Talks).” Are you referring to that Angelina Jolie movie?

My buddy Steve noted: “The difference between simple corruption and an actual impeachable offense.” I thought when he was impeached they should have gone after him over the emoluments clause.

A friend suggests “There are innumerable norms that have provided guidelines for presidential behavior.” That’s irrefutably true. Will the other members accept djt into the former prez club? Doubtful. It got me thinking of the fact that I can’t remember half the people in his Cabinet.

Who knew the Hatch Act was so ineffectual on the highest-ranking folks? Who has violated it? Ivanka Trump, repeatedly. Kellyanne Conway, ditto.  And others.

You folks have done well

A parent noted “The names of dictators around the world, as well as names of responsible world leaders.” Yow, me too, and I hadn’t thought about it. Their child wants to know whether “there is any better leadership anywhere in the world, especially related to COVID and climate change.”

“Inherently good people can become mean and vindictive when pushed to their limits. Let’s hope that’s just a temporary condition and they can heal.” Unfortunately, the “good” and “temporary” nature I’m just not feeling.

The January 6 insurrection one can trace to a time before djt. In the last four years, it runs from Charlottesville (2017) to the planned kidnapping of the Michigan governor (2020) and beyond.

Some other responses:
Our democracy is fragile
The danger executive orders pose for human/civil rights. Methods a political party uses to suppress the vote of American citizens.
The “loving thy neighbor” commandment is frustrating and confusing. I knew that already but nothing brought it home as these four years have.

What “deplorables” can accomplish when they work together and by extension what any group can accomplish when they work together.
Some people are happily embracing their prejudices, and that empathy is a quality to be embraced.
Misogyny is our biggest problem. The majority of folks would rather have a racist president than a woman President.
There are more bigots and haters than I could ever imagine. And it makes me sick

Our culture is suicidal.
There are no checks and balances in our government.
The process of the transition of the president on inauguration day.
How is it that nearly one-half of the country could support after living through 4 years of narcissism, bigotry, and daily lying?

[“I learned…”] Not everyone who lives in America loves America and respects the Constitution. The symptoms of malignant narcissism. How easily we could go from a democracy to an autocracy. That I could really hate someone with every fiber of my being.

His accomplishments

Someone I do not know says, “Anyone saying Trump didn’t do a good job as President is full of Fake News BS…Pelosi is promoting sedition and Treason…this Congress is a Malcontent Group of vindictive people…Hillary Lost…period…now listening to PBS. I’m beginning to think the Durham Durham investigations have found out WASHINGTON is Corruption…and the best way to avoid exposure is for the Corruption to Cheat and Lie. Shame on Congress…”

If you’ve read my blog over the past quadrennial, you’ll note that I have a different POV. I will give him credit for two things, though. The First Steps Act. “The act was… an effort to improve criminal justice outcomes, as well as to reduce the size of the federal prison population…”

The other is to pour money into getting a COVID vaccine. Unfortunately, he totally undercut that effort by denying the pandemic’s seriousness, contradicting CDC guidelines on mask-wearing, failing to provide any federal coordination for PPE acquisition, and holding superspreader events, among other failures.

The big lie

Unfortunately, lies can trump the truth.

There was a bit of dialogue:
“I have learned is how effective ‘The Big Lie’ technique can be.”
“A man said the bigger the lie, the more people believe it because a big lie has the quality of being unbelievable, therefore people don’t believe that someone would make it up. So they believe it’s true.”
“If everyone believes it then it must be true. I have been debating the election fraud story with believers of it. I have shown and proved how everything they believe is not factual but even then, they won’t admit to the lie or acknowledge even a part of the truth.”

And in fact, part of that quote is attributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. It probably wasn’t him, though he is cited on millions of webpages.

Conversely, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” That’s a quote by Maya Angelou

Back in August of 2020, he said, “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.”‘ He was announcing his strategy for undermining the election, attacking the postal service, et al. That was the birth of the series of baseless post-vote challenges.

In the midst of a 2020 election debated, he made a statement to the Proud Boys. “Stand back and stand by.” That dog whistle was blown just a few months later. Afterward, he tells the insurrectionists, “We love you. You’re very special. Go home.” How sweet.

The new US citizenship test

obsession with battles and wars

constitutionYou may have heard about the new citizenship test that went into effect in the past month. Immigrant advocates have called it more difficult than previous versions. “Iit is longer, more nuanced and, in some questions, has a tinge of politics.” According to Politico, it’s full of conservative bias – and dotted with mistakes.

“The previous iteration of the test, last revised in 2008, required applicants to answer six of 10 questions, drawn from a pool of only 100.” Now it’s 12 out of 20. “Several new questions call for biographical details about Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Dwight Eisenhower.” “Another asks for ‘the purpose of the 10th Amendment.'” Please go to the nearest intersection and ask random people to describe Amendment 10. If you get more than one in ten, I’ll be shocked.

Let’s say your first citizenship test question is “Who does a U.S. senator represent?” In 2020, “the only approved answers from the USCIS study guide, now embodying the [regime’s] revisionist approach to government. ‘No, it’s not all people of their state — the ONLY acceptable answer has been changed to CITIZENS of their state.'”

Even more rights than that

65. What are three rights of everyone living in the United States?

• Freedom of expression
• Freedom of speech
• Freedom of assembly
• Freedom to petition the government
• Freedom of religion
• The right to bear arms

“Notably missing from the UCSIS answer list are the rights to counsel, due process, equal protection, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment or unreasonable search and seizure. An aspiring citizen who gave one of those responses could presumably be marked wrong” on the oral test.

“There are other problems with the civics test, including its unnecessary complexity, its obsession with battles and wars… Only a single answer set includes any women by name (there are 11 naming men). The word ‘democracy’ appears just once. The first section on the 2008 test was titled ‘Principles of American Democracy,’ now ominously replaced by ‘Principles of American Government.'”

The regime’s discriminatory legacy on immigrant rights is intact.

I should note, once again, that immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy in many ways. “They work at high rates and make up more than a third of the workforce in some industries… Immigrant workers help support the aging native-born population, increasing the number of workers as compared to retirees and bolstering the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. And children born to immigrant families are upwardly mobile, promising future benefits not only to their families but to the U.S. economy overall.”

Oh, yeah, What IS the purpose of the 10th Amendment? (It states that the) powers not given to the federal government belong to the states or to the people.

“Will” versus “shall” in the Constitution

Plain Language

shallHere’s a question I received from Uthaclena.

I am told that there is a Constitutional difference between the words “shall” and “will.” Since you took PoliSci, do you know what that difference is?

I must admit I had had never heard this. So I decided to look at the document itself. The word will shows up about four times. Twice, interestingly, it appears a very familiar sentence. “I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Whereas shall can be found over 300 times, starting in Article 1, Section 1: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” In fact, shall appears in every part of the Constitution except the Preamble and Amedment X.

Compare and contrast

Does this suggest a differential of obligation in these two examples? Probably not. As the Wikipedia notes: “Historically, prescriptive grammar stated that, when expressing pure futurity (without any additional meaning such as desire or command), shall was to be used when the subject was in the first person, and will in other cases.”

Thus, the Simple Future Tense with no assertion of intention is I/we shall but you/he/she/it will. “I shall go to the store. She will go too.” Whereas Simple Future Tense with an assertion is more pointed. And the words are reversed. I/we will but you/he/she/it shall. “I will survive.” “He shall clean his room if he wants to go to the party.” “Thou shalt not kill.”

The phrases “I will faithfully execute…” and “All… Powers… shall be granted…” are both using Simple Future Tense with an assertion. Therefore, they are both indicating something mandatory. Got that?

Attorneys!

In common parlance, will has all but replaced shall altogether. From the Wikipedia: “Shall is… still widely used in bureaucratic documents, especially documents written by lawyers. Owing to heavy misuse, its meaning can be ambiguous and the United States government’s Plain Language group advises writers not to use the word at all.” Attorneys and plain language? What a concept!

“Other legal drafting experts, including Plain Language advocates, argue that while shall can be ambiguous in statutes (which most of the cited litigation on the word’s interpretation involves), court rules, and consumer contracts, that reasoning does not apply to the language of business contracts. These experts recommend using shall but only to impose an obligation on a contractual party that is the subject of the sentence, i.e., to convey the meaning ‘hereby has a duty to.'”

Here’s more about will versus shall here and here and here.

For Constitution Day, please watch 13th

from 300,000 inmates in 1970 to over 2 million today

13th amendmentMy daughter has watched the documentary 13th (2016) about a half dozen times. She compelled me to watch it recently as well, and now I commend it to you.

13th refers to the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The problem is that section that is italicized section effectively meant that people, specifically black people, would be arrested on minor charges such as vagrancy or loitering, and ended up being leased out to industry. It was Slavery by Another Name.

This was followed by Jim Crow segregation and lynching, enhanced in no small part by D. W. Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation (1915). The modern civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s arose from the death of Emmett Till. But it was stifled by the mass incarceration efforts of Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton, which affected blacks disproportionately.

Even Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, noted in the film that the much greater sentencing for crack, more often used by blacks, than for powder cocaine preferred by white people.

The country went from having about 300,000 inmates in 1970 to over 2 million today, about 40% black because of various sentencing guidelines. The US has 25% of the incarcerated in the world, though it has but 5% of the world’s population.

13th was directed and co-written by Ava DuVernay, who had directed Selma (2014). Participants include Michelle Alexander, Cory Booker, Angela Davis, Henry Louis Gates, Van Jones, Grover Norquist, Charles Rangel, Bryan Stevenson, and several others. Plus archival footage of Lee Atwater, and every President after JFK.

Watch 13th HERE (96 minutes). See the preview HERE.

Listen to:

Letter To The Free – Common ft. Bilal
Work Song – Nina Simone
Human – Rag’n’Bone Man

Sept. rambling: “I want you to panic”

Dustbury on Kim Kashkashian

1973 male entertainers
1973 benefit. Larry Karaszewski tweet: “We Are The World”. From HERE

Don’t Use These Free-Speech Arguments Ever Again

Follow-up to “How Should We Rewrite the Second Amendment?”

The spy in your wallet: Credit cards have a privacy problem

The Focus on 1619 as the Beginning of Slavery in the U.S. Damages Our Understanding of American History

The White Power Movement From Reagan to Trump

Pediatricians reveal that racism can negatively affect children’s health

#MeToo-era study says Women facing ‘massive increase in hostility’ in workplace

Government Cannot Select the Right Immigrants

On climate change, “I want you to panic”

Alaska’s Sea Ice Completely Melted for First Time in Recorded History

The legacy of ‘boys will be boys’ on American life

Trump is Abnormal, It’s His Superpower

Trump’s Scottish resort: Air Force crew made an odd stop on a routine trip

Dumber than a box of markers

Unions make us strong

I learn something from criticism because when it comes from sources you respect you always examine it and learn. – Maurice Strong

How Do You Decide What’s Right and Wrong?

In defense of reading the same book over and over again

The language rules we know – but don’t know we know

AP Stylebook Changes Hyphen Guidance, Ushering In Total Chaos

Outraged Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Mayor bans comic due to kiss; kiss plastered over international media. STORY

It’s OK to Cry

Appreciation: Valerie Harper and the timeless cool of Rhoda Morgenstern

Howie Morris would have been 100

‘Dustbury’ blogging pioneer Charles Hill completes final tour

Ken Levine: Meet Corporal Klinger – Jamie Farr

Mark Evanier: 100 things I learned about the comic book industry

Welcome to the World of Competitive Wiffle Ball

The new old people

Dustbury: Amusement is where you find it

How to Increase Your Laptop Battery Life

Now I Know: New York City’s Late Pass and The Man Who Beat the Scratch Lottery and The Crime-Busting Pizza Topping and Let There Be Lighght and The Man Who Beat the Scratch Lottery and The Russian Plot to Replicate the Moon and How Not To Use a Very Fast Internet Hookup

The Perfection of the Paper Clip

NOT ME: In Kibler, Police Chief Roger Green rescued an elderly woman from her flooded home about 4:30 a.m. Saturday

MUSIC

Sleep by Eric Whitacre – VOCES8

Dustbury: Several short works by György Kurtág, performed by Kim Kashkashian

Coverville: 1276: The Elvis Costello Cover Story and 1277: Cover Stories for Barry White and The Stranglers

It’s Quiet Uptown – Kelly Clarkson

2011 Tony Awards, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. show close with a rap number summarizing the evening, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tommy Kail

How Hamilton Works: 10 Reasons 10 Duel Commandments Is Amazing

Michael Kamen’s score for Highlander

Something – The Beatles: Take 39 /Instrumental/Strings Only and 2019 Mix

K-Chuck Radio: Taylor Swift’s not so new idea

Dustbury: An emo version of Baby Shark

Jazz Is a Music of Perseverance Against Racism and Capitalism