C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.


Monday, June 29, 2020

Hello, Vlad - Donnie Calling

I'm tapering off on current events now - but I feel I have to post this for the record.



The long summary from CNN, horrifying but predictable, is here - well worth your time to read it. Excerpt:
In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America's principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials -- including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff -- that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations.

The calls caused former top Trump deputies -- including national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House chief of staff John Kelly, as well as intelligence officials -- to conclude that the President was often "delusional," as two sources put it, in his dealings with foreign leaders. The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest. . . .

One person familiar with almost all the conversations with the leaders of Russia, Turkey, Canada, Australia and western Europe described the calls cumulatively as 'abominations' so grievous to US national security interests that if members of Congress heard from witnesses to the actual conversations or read the texts and contemporaneous notes, even many senior Republican members would no longer be able to retain confidence in the President.

In other words, the alleged leader of the free world is that big, dumb, conceited, hateful, fifth-grade braggart, the brown-noser, the school-yard bully, the creep that nobody liked except a couple of his partners in crime.

Is anyone surprised? The tapes and transcripts of those calls, if ever released, will be a bigger scandal than the Watergate tapes ever were.

I wonder when the public will get to hear or see them.


Bonus, 7/1/20: This just out from the Lincoln Project:




Saturday, June 27, 2020

How Low Can You Go?




Back in the late 1980s when I was 30-something, my two girlfriends from college and I went out on the town one night at a popular new nightclub called Studebaker's - a franchise now apparently defunct. We usually got together for a long, leisurely chit-chat over lunch or dinner at some nice restaurant, but this time we decided to go see what all the fuss was about.

The joint was hopping:  a huge, brightly lit room with a crowded dance floor and a gleaming, honest-to-God Studebaker convertible perched on a dais at one end. Probably there was no motor in it, but it looked showroom-new, and people kept taking turns climbing in, sitting on the back where the top folds down, singing along to the oldies music and waving their arms to the rhythm - of course we eventually took our turn there, too. It was great fun.

The drinks were delicious, the music was marvelous, and everybody was joyously well-behaved.  At some point, the staff set up a limbo stick, and a crowd immediately lined up to go under it, dancing their way through.  Even your staid and sensible Head Trucker - normally the very soul of decorum - got into the spirit of things and joined the line.  The stick was not set very low, and people were merrily dancing their way under it with ease, leaning far backwards.  Everyone but me, that is.

Just as I got my waist under the stick, and my chin on a level with it, I realized too late that to go an inch lower would require the use of certain back muscles which had lain entirely undisturbed since I was a schoolboy climbing on the monkey bars in the playground, and who were now loath to be roused from their slumber.  Chagrined and perplexed as to how to proceed without knocking the bar down or collapsing on the floor, I hesitated for a second in order to give reverent consideration to the laws of physics.

But of course hesitation is fatal on the dance floor.  During that brief second, two other people, one on each side of me, not to be hindered for a moment, came limbo-ing through without so much as a by-your-leave, followed closely by other impatient folks.  The crowd was not about to allow time for a rethink or a redo - onward, onward, onward!  Too bad for you if you can't make it.  Out of our way!

Mortified, I somehow managed to get on through by a kind of crablike crawl - most undignified.  But this humiliating experience did teach me a significant lesson about human nature:  if you can't run with the big dogs, better stay up on the porch.  

This principle applies in ordinary, everyday life as well as in society at large.  It is one thing to dance your own dance to the music of the moment - it is quite another to be completely out of step and out of tune with everyone around you.  In the latter case, you can waste all your strength and joie de vivre in a lonely, forlorn, unwinnable battle - and what purpose would that serve? - or you can pull off the road and let the traffic diesel on by, going hell-for-leather whither it will.

Only rarely does a single determined soul turn the tide, in the name of a noble cause; but such cases are few, and beyond the strength of most.

Your Head Trucker, now old and gray, and less limber each year, cannot keep up with the mad rush of the modern world.  In the last month, I have used what little talent I have to express outrage and call for reform - just one small voice, joined to a great chorus of others.  I have said my piece, and more I cannot do.  The world is rushing madly around and beyond me, on either side - I have no power to stop the flood or divert it from what seems a looming disaster of willful ignorance and arrogance on both sides.

For several years past, I have paid less and less attention to the news of the day because it is so awful and so depressing - in this great moment of crisis, I have refocused my attention on current events, but now I notice that the upset and dismay are intruding upon my hours of rest and filling my waking mind.  News in this day of endless and often mindless reportage, 24/7, is very much an addictive drug - some people are even called, deservedly, "news junkies."

But it serves no good purpose for myself or for anyone else to fill up my thoughts, day and night, with such an obsession; in fact, it is positively detrimental to my physical and mental health. In any case, I have long since outlived my time - this present age, even before the current uproar started, is not at all to my taste. I feel myself very much a stranger in a strange land - an exile far from home. And of course, one can never go home again.

So let the current generation make of it what they will - perhaps a better world, or perhaps something even more ugly, vulgar, and brutal than the present one - even so, why should I let that destroy my serenity and peace of mind?  I have no power to help or hinder.  I am an old man without family or posterity, and much closer to the end of life's course than its beginning. Soon enough I shall be a thing that is past knowing. I have had my day, a full cup of joys and sorrows - but now the sun is low in the sky, and the night is coming when I shall rest from all labors.

So I think I will now attempt to redirect my thoughts and spirit to more peaceful things, abstaining from further comment on current events, unless something truly earthshaking happens - and please God, it won't. In the past month on this blog, I have stated very clearly where I stand, and I am sure that my stand is very much in line with the moral arc of the universe, and of the highest Good - that patient, impartial, eternal Love that moves the stars.

So this old dog is going to lie back down in that shady spot on the porch.  If any of y'all want to run yourselves crazy chasing cars, have at it. I'm done.

Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

--Ecclesiastes 4:6



Friday, June 26, 2020

Happy Pride 2020


Imagine if there was a President who celebrated Gay Pride . . .




A few dates to remember in the progress of gay rights over the last half-century:

June 28 - July 3, 1969: Stonewall Riots, New York City

June 28, 1970: First Gay Pride marches, NYC and other cities

May 20, 1996:  Romer v. Evans

June 26, 2003: Lawrence v. Texas

December 22, 2010: Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed

September 20, 2011: DADT repeal implemented

June 26, 2013: United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry

June 26, 2015: Obergefell v. Hodges

June 15, 2020: Bostock v. Clayton County


Today's quote:
I do have things I would like to see adopted on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people:  they include the right to marry the individual of our choice; the right to serve in the military to defend our country; and the right to a job based solely on our own qualifications.

I acknowledge that this is an agenda, but I do not think any self-respecting radical in history would have considered advocating people’s rights to get married, join the army, and earn a living as a terribly inspiring revolutionary platform.
--Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), 2008


Bonus: The Night Michelle Escaped from the White House





Thursday, June 25, 2020

To Make Myself Clear


I am in process of listening to a podcast by CNN's Don Lemon about racism, doing it slowly so I can take notes and be sure I catch all the points that are made; perhaps I will summarize it here when I get done listening.  For now, though, I just want to say that I think I have made my thoughts and feelings very clear in the last few weeks about where I stand on the burning issues of the day:  police reform and equal justice under law.

Those issues - at the top of a long list of issues - need immediate attention, and are getting it, even as I type, in Congress as well as in many big cities and small towns across the breadth and depth of this country, with impetus from politicians and ordinary citizens alike.  Well and good.  What I call "a revolution of hearts and minds" has made a remarkable beginning and should be sustained at all levels until it is accomplished - by reasonable and lawful means.

I am on board with peaceable assembly and petitioning for redress of grievances, as the Constitution puts it; these are fundamental American rights, and the free exercise thereof has been essential from the very beginnings of this country in our never-ending progress towards "a more perfect union."

What I am NOT on board with are mindless rioting and hell-raising just because young hotheads can get away with it.  A protest and a riot are not the same thing.  Nor am I on board with mob violence and undemocratic destruction of public monuments.  If need be, a statue or monument can be removed to private property; there is no essential need to destroy it.  What is needed is to change people's attitudes, which violence does not do.  It gets people's attention, sure - but not the right kind of attention.

NOR am I on board with the cunning rhetorical trick of calling everything and everyone you don't like an example of "white supremacy" and "systemic racism."  That is painting with far too broad a brush; it is unfair, unjust, and untrue.  (I know - I grew up in the segregated South.  No one under 50 today has any idea of what legal white supremacy looks like.)

It will also not get the victims of police reform and political oppression what they want.  In society, as in physics, for every action there usually is an equal and opposite reaction.  An unreasonable, unjust push in one direction will likely provoke an unreasonable, unjust shove in the the opposite direction.  A punch in the eye invites a return punch on the nose.

It will also lose them the goodwill and support of many innocent bystanders and people of good will.  It is a fundamental rule of human life that if you want to get respect, you have to give respect.  It's not all about you.

And now - as I have privately feared - this orgy of destruction threatens to go far beyond the bounds of any conceivable justification.  There are voices - perhaps only a few, and certainly unreasonable - voices now calling for the destruction of monuments to Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and anyone else who does not meet an absurd 21st-century purity test.

Not even Lincoln - the closest thing we have to a secular saint in the pantheon of presidents - is exempt from condemnation.  Voices are calling for the destruction of his statues.  And for the destruction of Mount Rushmore.

And even for the destruction of all images of "white Jesus."

Okay, obliteration of identity, history, and religion - what does that sound like, folks?  What is the logical next step - a "final solution" to end the threat of "white supremacy" forever?  Huh?  Where is that line of thought going?

This is madness.  This is hateful.  This is would-be tyranny.  This is evil.

This is not America.  Two wrongs do not make a right.

This is the time to settle down and think carefully about how to make our union more just, more equal, more perfect.  For everyone.

It is not the time to strike a match to the powder keg, and destroy the good and the bad in one big blowup.

You have been warned, people.  Don't listen to the crazies on either side.  Don't go there.

Back off.  Please don't go there.  We would all regret it, and we would all suffer.  Horribly.


P.S. - Nobody has anything to fear from me - I'll be hiding under the bed, out of the crossfire.


More mindless violence: Gay state senator beaten, kicked in the head by rioters at Wisconsin statehouse. The Hill reports, "Demonstrators also tore down two statues, including Wisconsin's motto Forward and the likeness of Col. Hans Christian Heg. Heg was a Norwegian migrant and an abolitionist who died for the Union Army during the Civil War. The Forward statue stood outside of the state Capitol and is a symbol of progress and devotion, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society."


Monday, June 22, 2020

Notes from the Revolution, 6/22/20

. . . a revolution of hearts and minds . . .

Today in Talladega - see story below.
Click to enlarge.

An assortment of recent news stories that give food for thought and inform the conversation on the momentous issues now gripping this country. Your Head Trucker may have more to say about some of these things another time, but for now, take a look and see what you think.


Have Trump Voters Changed Their Minds?  CNN's Van Jones reports (June 19 2020):




Black Georgia Sheriff Justifies Shooting of Rayshard Brooks:  CNN's Brianna Kellar discusses the shooting with Burke County Sheriff Alonzo Williams (June 16, 2020):




I'm Gonna Talk about You, Connie: Local activist Gary Chambers calls out the Baton Rouge School Board in no uncertain terms last Thursday in Louisiana:



More video and background here. At the end of the meeting, the board did vote to change the name of the school.


Cuomo Fears Election Setup: Governor Andrew Cuomo believes Trump's objections to mail-in ballots are a ruse to ensure a contested election in November (June 22, 2020):




I Stand with Bubba:  Fellow NASCAR drivers and crews gave a massive, moving show of support to driver Bubba Wallace in Talladega, Alabama, today:




Richard Petty's statement of support.  Click to enlarge.


Update, 6/23/20: No Charges in NASCAR Noose Incident.  The FBI says that noose was the tied-up pullcord of a garage door, and had been hanging there that way since last fall.  Well, if it wasn't an act of hatred, it was certainly the occasion for a wonderful display of love and unity in Talladega.


Update, 6/25/20: NASCAR Releases Photo of the Noose. NASCAR president Steve Phelps said at a press conference that "a thorough sweep of the 29 tracks and 1,684 garage stalls at the speedway, authorities found 11 pull-down ropes tied in a knot -- but only one noose," the one found in Bubba Wallace's stall. "We further determined that the noose was not in place when the October 2019 race weekend began but was created at some point during that weekend," Phelps said. "Given that timing and the garage access policies and procedures at the time, we were unfortunately unable to determine with any certainty who tied this rope in this manner or why it was done."



Sunday, June 21, 2020

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Pot and the Kettle


I don't feel like posting much today, but I will say this:  over on Joe.My.God., commenters are gleeful about the Republican infighting over the Empower Texans audio clip that trashes Gov. Greg Abbott and mocks his disability.  Well, that's fine - a couple of potty-mouthed Republicans inadvertently blowing up their own party is a fit subject for scorn and ridicule.

I have no personal feelings about Abbott one way or the other - he is an elected official at the head of the Republican hegemony in this state, and that's all I need to know.  But I notice that about half the commenters are ALSO mocking Abbott's disability themselves.  This is filthy.  It doesn't matter which end of the political spectrum you are on.  If you do that, you are no better than the creeps on the audio clip - at the bottom of the moral cesspool.  Despicable.

In the past, commenters on JMG have frequently said much worse things about other people, as well as relished the thought of another civil war in this country - "Yeah, bring it on, we'll kick their racist butts," and such as that, as if it would be like a teenage street-corner rumble - not giving a single thought to what immense harm and ghastly suffering it would cause many millions of people who, unlike their prissy, petty little selves, are not young and agile and fleet of foot.  For this reason I have tried to train myself in these last few years not to look at the comments on JMG and other websites - in fact, I wish comments would disappear from news sites altogether.

You cannot claim the moral high ground - the "right side"of any argument - if you are just as nasty and hateful as your opponents.  God forbid any of these neanderthal, rock-throwing creeps on either side gets the upper hand in our society - I can't support any of them.  The political spectrum is not flat - it is a ring, and at either end, extremism and egotism end in government-by-thug; there is very little difference between a thugocracy, a dictatorship, of the right or of the left.  Both are abominable.

Hatred is not an American value, and neither is contempt for the disabled.  This is not about freedom of speech at all - it's about simple decency, without which there can be no society worth living in.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Notes from the Revolution, 6/16/20

. . . a revolution of hearts and minds . . .

Police chief Joseph Wysocki marching with protesters
last week in Camden, New Jersey.

Starting Over:
"The City That Really Did Abolish the Police," at Politico. Excerpt:
As a movement grows in American cities and suburbs to overhaul police departments and confront their long records of racially unjust, violent enforcement, Camden [New Jersey] is one rare—and complicated—success story, a city that really did manage to overhaul its police force and change how it operated. And it took a move as radical and controversial as what some activists are calling for today: Camden really did abolish its police department.

And then the city set about rebuilding the police force with an entirely new one under county control, using the opportunity to increase the number of cops on the streets and push through a number of now-heralded progressive police reforms. And with time, the changes started to stick in a department that just years earlier seemed unfixable.

Over the past two weeks, Camden has become an example of reform that works—cited in articles, tweets and on network shows as an example of what can go right. And it’s true that the reforms produced real change in the statistics: The excessive use of force rates plummeted. The homicide rate decreased. And new incentives laid the groundwork for a completely new understanding of what it meant to be a good cop.

“You had to change the underlying principles of the way police officers were being trained and taught, and the culture in the department,” said former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who supported the changes in Camden. “The most effective way to do that was to start over.”


Then and Now: CNN asked black activists who were on the front line of civil rights protests in the 1960s to comment on the current demonstrations.  Excerpt:
It's not that things have gotten so much worse (now). It's just it is so much more obvious and apparent to everybody.--Charles Black, a leader of the 1960s Atlanta Student Movement

You've never seen as many white people marching (as now) -- never in history. We've been carrying this burden by ourselves, and you feel, they say, (like you are) carrying the cross. You feel like the cross is a little lighter today because you see other people carrying the cross with you.--Miller Green, one of the Freedom Riders

What's different is the variety of people at those marches, and that is sweet sunshine from heaven to me ... This is a wake-up call, and more people woke up this time than before.--Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the Little Rock Nine

The March on Washington, 1963


Dancing in the Street: Last week in Atlanta, National Guard troops and protesters danced together - something that never happened in the 1960s:





Also last week, Politico interviewed ten National Guard troops about their presence in Washington, D. C., in the now-notorious Lafayette Square photo op:
Many Guardsmen said they felt uncomfortable with the way they were used to handle the unrest because demonstrators lumped them in with the police. They felt that while they swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, their presence at times intimidated Americans from expressing their opinions and even escalated the tension.

And in the case of Guardsmen involved in the Lafayette incident, some felt used.

“As a military officer, what I saw was more or less really f---ed up,” said one D.C. Guardsman who was deployed to Lafayette Square last Monday and who, like some others, spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely. The official line from the White House that the protesters had turned violent, he said, is false.

“The crowd was loud but peaceful, and at no point did I feel in danger, and I was standing right there in the front of the line,” he said. “A lot of us are still struggling to process this, but in a lot of ways, I believe I saw civil rights being violated in order for a photo op."

What I Say:  It has done my heart good to see the innate respect for civil liberties and American ideals shown by many police and military all across the nation, from the front lines right on up to the highest command levels.  Despite the killings and beatings and horribly bad decisions some have made, it does seem to me, surveying the scene from my seat high up in the digital bleachers, that the majority of police and military people are - like most civilians - aghast at George Floyd's brutal murder as well as committed to safeguarding every American's inherent right peaceably to assemble and to seek redress of grievances.

Last week, a two-block-long parade of demonstrators marched right by the house here, and the police were marching with them, escorting them through town with police cars fore and aft: protesters and police all moving together with a common goal of peaceful assembly at the town square - which is as it should be.  Unfortunately, your Head Trucker was asleep at the time; had I been awake, I would have gone out and waved my American and rainbow flags in support.

If you were to survey the list of recent protests all across the nation, especially in the South, as I have done over on Wikipedia, and if you were to take the trouble to look at the source citations, as I have done, and watch the local news videos from all sorts of small towns and small cities, as I have done, you would notice crowds of blacks and whites mingling freely with united purpose.   This would not, could not have happened in my childhood in the segregated South.

This is not to deny the existence of racist attitudes in all parts of this country, as the nightly news keeps reminding us.  To be sure, hateful bigots still infest the backwoods and back alleys of the South and North - some of them are highly placed, and some are even pillars of the church - but there are many good and decent folks in those small towns too.  And in almost every demonstration I looked at in those small Southern towns, the police, the sheriff's deputies, and often the mayor were out in force - not against the protesters, but in solidarity with them, guaranteeing their right to safely protest.

In other words, they and we are all one American people, in or out of uniform, regardless of race, creed, sex, or color: a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  And that gives me hope that we will all get through this time of outrage and sorrow together, make right what is wrong, and build a more perfect union - the unending task and high duty of every generation in these United States.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Supreme Court Rules: You Can't Be Fired for Being Gay


Wow!  Oh my, what a happy, happy day - the Civil Rights Act protects the gays and trans folk too:
Sometimes small gestures can have unexpected consequences. Major initiatives practically guarantee them. In our time, few pieces of federal legislation rank in significance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There, in Title VII, Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.

Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result. Likely, they weren’t thinking about many of the Act’s consequences that have become apparent over the years, including its prohibition against discrimination on the basis of motherhood or its ban on the sexual harassment of male employees. But the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands. When the express terms of a statute give us one answer and extratextual considerations suggest another, it’s no contest. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit. 
Hooray!  Read the Court's 6-3 ruling (172 pages, PDF) here.


NBC News reports today's stunning decision:




And your Head Trucker is ashamed to report that he did not really get the whole trans thing until he learned about Aimee Stephens - who, sadly, died last month of kidney failure:



According to the ACLU, this is the first trans civil rights case ever heard by the Supreme Court.


In short:  If you don't have time to read the whole decision, Amy Howe at Scotusblog offers an overview of the ruling, written by Justice Gorsuch - remember how everybody feared he would be such a conservative jurist? - as well as the dissenting opinions.  Among other things, she notes:
Gorsuch addressed some of the broader concerns that the employers had raised in the three cases, about the effect of the court’s ruling on issues like bathrooms in the workplace, locker rooms and dress codes. None of those issues, Gorsuch reiterated, were before the court in these cases. Instead, he stressed, the court is ruling only that an “employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” Whether sex-segregated bathrooms or locker rooms or dress codes might violate Title VII “are questions for future cases,” Gorsuch wrote.

The same is true, Gorsuch added, for questions involving the relationship between Title VII and federal laws and constitutional provisions protecting religious freedom. Although “other employers in other cases may raise free exercise arguments that merit careful consideration, none of the employers before us today represent in this Court that compliance with Title VII will infringe their own religious liberties in any way.”
Caution:  It appears from a quick glance at the Wikipedia article on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that the law applies only to an employer "who has fifteen (15) or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year"; however, your Head Trucker is no lawyer, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about the law.

Silver lining:  Michelle Goldberg opines in the New York Times on the irony of this decision in the era of Trump:
[T]he thrilling 6-3 decision the Supreme Court just issued upholding L.G.B.T. equality wouldn’t be as devastating to the religious right if it had happened under a President Clinton.

Before Monday, you could legally be fired for being gay, bisexual or transgender in 26 states. Now the court has ruled that gay and transgender people are protected by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex. The decision has extra cultural force because it was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, and joined by the conservative chief justice John Roberts. . . .

The phrase “But Gorsuch” is shorthand for how conservatives justify all the moral compromises they’ve made in supporting Trump; controlling the Supreme Court makes it all worth it. So there’s a special sweetness in Gorsuch spearheading the most important L.G.B.T. rights decision since the 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

This isn’t simply Schadenfreude. The fact that this momentous ruling was written by a right-wing judge sends a message that progress on L.G.B.T. rights will be very hard to reverse.

More is needed:  Justice Kavanaugh's dissent is well-written, well-reasoned, and well worth reading in full, going as it does to the very heart of constitutional government in these United States.  Susan Howe summarizes:
He began by acknowledging that the arguments for “amending” Title VII “are very weighty.” He also observed that the Supreme Court “has previously stated, and I fully agree, that gay and lesbian Americans ‘cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth.’” But, he continued, the job of judges is “not to make or amend the law,” and, as it currently stands, “Title VII does not prohibit employment discrimination because of sexual orientation.” . . .

Kavanaugh contended (and appeared to agree with his colleagues in the majority) that courts should follow the ordinary meaning of the words in a statute, because that is how both members of Congress and the public would understand the law. . . .  And here, in Kavanaugh’s view, the ordinary meaning of the phrase “discriminate because of sex” does not extend to discrimination based on sexual orientation. . . .

Kavanaugh concluded by acknowledging “the important victory achieved today by gay and lesbian Americans. Millions of gay and lesbian Americans have worked hard for many decades to achieve equal treatment in fact and in law. They have exhibited extraordinary vision, tenacity, and grit—battling often steep odds in the legislative and judicial arenas, not to mention in their daily lives. They have advanced powerful policy arguments and can take pride in today’s result.” But Kavanaugh reiterated his belief that Congress, rather the Supreme Court, should have been the source of that result.

Frankly, your Head Trucker is inclined to agree with Justice Kavanaugh on the simple basis of plain English.  In all honesty, it does seem like doublespeak for Justice Gorsuch to say on the one hand that the Court must be bound by the plain text of the law; and on the other hand, to define the word sex with a meaning that is not part of the plain English meaning.  To say that cat means all four-legged creatures is not to state the meaning of the word, but to add meaning to the word.

However, if a law were to forbid, let us say, cruelty to cats, and you interpret it to mean that cruelty to all four-legged animals is forbidden, then that is good morality, but bad English and bad interpretation, and highly liable to be contradicted by another interpreter.  Because it is good morality, we will accept what the Court has so graciously given us; but can we count on it to be a lasting gift as years go by?  Or merely a cupful of smoke?

It's also important to note that the Court's ruling does not rest on any constitutional right; the justices based their decision solely on the Civil Rights Act, which is merely a federal law, not the Constitution itself.

Therefore, to remove all possible doubts and objections in future, it is imperative that Congress itself amend the Civil Rights Act to specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Do keep that in mind, fellas, as we move forward - always remember that the Supreme Court can change its collective mind, and often has, down through the years. The protections we received today must be cemented into federal law at the first opportunity.

The same goes for for the right to same-sex marriage declared by the Court five years ago in Obergefell v. Hodges - which Chief Justice Roberts angrily dissented from at the time as another example of "legislating from the bench."

Of course, Congress can change its mind, too, and laws can be repealed; even provisions of the Constitution can be changed or removed by amendment.  Nothing in this life is ever entirely sure and certain forever; but a law enacted by vote of the People or their representatives is somewhat harder to overturn than a court decision, especially if it reflects the popular will of the time.  And according to the polls, it seems that equal rights for gays and trans folk is indeed the popular will in America at this time, by about 2 to 1.  So let's be sure to nail this ruling down in law.

Meanwhile, again I say: Hooray! The gays are people too. We have a right to exist. And work and live and love, just like everybody else on this planet. Hooray!  Hooray!  God bless America!

And I have lived to see this day.


Bonus:  Former President Obama tweeted out this message today:



Sunday, June 14, 2020

Cuomo to Protesters: You Won, You're Right, Let's Fix the Police

In a news conference yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he is giving all 500 cities and counties in the state until April 1 to reform or redesign their law enforcement agencies - or lose all state funding. Wow. Now that's a leader.




That's also your Head Trucker's idea of a real man: cool and calm, steady and strong, going straight to the heart of a problem and fixing it without fuss or muss. Clear-sighted and straight-talking.  No pretense, no bullshit.  Knows what to do and does it, boom.  Doesn't push people around, but is no pushover himself. That's what we call a cowboy out here in Texas.  A good guy.  A rock.

Why is he not President?


Sunday Drive: Saint-Saens, The Swan

As performed by British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason:




Gayle King interviewed 19-year-old Sheku on CBS This Morning in October 2018,  a few months after he performed at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex:




Friday, June 12, 2020

Dear Joe: It's Kamala, of Course


Headline on Joe.My.God. this morning:

Biden’s Veep List Narrows: Harris, Warren, Rice, Others

And here is my open letter to Joe Biden:
Hey Joe - buddy! - you know you're a great guy in my book, always have been, always will be.  But listen, I wanna ask you something.  What's up with all this hesitation and delay?  Just backroom politicking?  Gotta get all your ducks in a row before the convention?  Oh sure, sure, I can understand that.

But you know in your heart - don't you? - it's got to be Kamala for veep.  Has to be.  That's a no-brainer, man.  Everybody can see that.

You don't have time for long letters, I know, so let me just spell it out quick and easy - cc this to your staff:
  • Black.
  • Female.
  • Senator.  With friends in Congress, and she knows how it works over there.
  • Smart as a whip. And it shows.
  • Criminal justice creds out to gazoo.  She knows how state government works, too.
  • Articulate.  Poised.  Dignified.  Grounded.  Real.  
  • Very classy, very likable, very relatable - appealing to people all over the spectrum.
  • A tough, smooth fighter:  Did you see how she reduced Barr to jelly without ever raising her voice or talking trash?  And how she tore Gabbard to shreds without stopping to draw breath?
  • Just the right age:  Old enough to have learned some life wisdom, but not over the hill.  (I love you, Joe, but hey, let's face it - we're neither of us spring chickens anymore. You're doing better than me, but still.)  And God forbid anything ever happened to ya, Joe - I'd cry my eyes out - but I do believe she could pick up the reins without even blinking.  A strong woman.  Fierce.
  • And last but not least:  Fabulous dress sense.  You do want the gay vote, don't you?
OF COURSE IT'S KAMALA.  She is exactly what the nation needs at this crucial time - and Biden/Harris will be an unbeatable team: black/white, male/female, east coast/west coast, old hand/new blood.  It's so completely OBVIOUS that there's just no other choice.

So come on, Joe.  Step up to the plate.  Just do it.  Because it's the right thing to do and she is the right person for the job.  A winner in every sense.  So do it, Joe - give the nation HOPE and CHANGE again.  Hell, give the whole world hope, and show 'em what America is really all about:  liberty and justice for ALL. 

You won't regret it.  And I can sleep better at night.  Hugs to Jill.

Your pal for Victory in November,

Russ

With Barr:




With Gabbard:




And Senator Harris has a special message for Trump:








Thursday, June 11, 2020

Killer Cops - The Why and the How

Well, this explains everything.

I have found a couple of horrifying videos that confirm what I have suspected for some years now: the police have been systematically trained to kill as an automatic response, without hesitation and without remorse: human killing machines. And they have been loaded up with tons of military gear just like soldiers going into battle. No wonder all these simple traffic stops and sidewalk arrests result in cold-blooded murder of civilians. No wonder.

And has there ever been one single city, county, or state official or administrator, not a law enforcement officer, who reviewed these brainwashing practices and said, "Oh no, this is so wrong, we can't have this"--? And if not, WHY NOT?

A policeman is not an executioner. This is so simple and so obvious, it shouldn't even need to be said. And further I will say, without consulting any lawbooks, that from the moment an arrest is made, the police have a bounden duty to protect that suspect and deliver him safely - and alive - into the hands of the justice system. No other interpretation of their duty is possible - unless the "rule of law" is merely an empty phrase.

The videos that follow go to the heart of what is catastrophically wrong with the police forces in this country.  I'm sure there are still plenty of good cops doing the necessary work they were hired to do - and it is imperative that they be recognized and rewarded and encouraged in a dangerous, difficult, but honorable profession.  The bad ones must be expelled or reprogrammed, starting right now.

It's late at night as I post this, so I will skip further commentary and just put these videos out here for everyone to see - and I hope every citizen of the United States does.


The Police Trainer Who Teaches Cops to Kill (2017), from the New Yorker:




Trailer for Do Not Resist (2016), independent film by Craig Atkinson:




It all makes sense now - and what a ghastly picture it is - the utter perversion of the duty to "protect and serve."


How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody (June 1, 2020), from the New York Times, brings together films of the murder from several vantage points:




Thank God for Darnella Frazier and her courage - MSNBC report (May 30, 2020) on the teenager who stood her ground and filmed the murder for all the world to see:





Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Notes from the Revolution, 6/9/20

. . . a revolution of hearts and minds . . .

After his funeral in Houston today, George Floyd was carried
to his final resting place in a horse-drawn hearse.




- - - o o o O O O o o o - - -

As I said in Sunday's post, I can't keep up with all the news that's going on right now, but I will continue to post from time to time, under the above heading, my thoughts about where we are as a nation and where I think we ought to go, and how.

And let me say, for the benefit of any new readers, something that I suppose has been apparent to my longtime truckbuddies:  I represent a party of one, and this blog is my personal forum in which I express my own independent thoughts, not all of them necessarily in tune with the zeitgeist of the modern world.  My party's platform includes the Golden Rule, the Golden Mean, and the Baptismal Covenant, as well as a plank in favor of the Oxford comma, and another one denouncing the use of gift as a verb.

Being fairly well versed in the English language, I say what I mean and I mean what I say: it's my privilege as a free, though flawed, man in a free, though flawed, country.  I don't want to argue with anyone.  If you don't agree with me, just move on and find someone else you do agree with:  that's your privilege.  There are millions of other voices in the world, and mine, small and obscure, has no influence over the course of events, one way or the other.  Which may be all for the best; at least it passes the time for me here in retirement.

- - - o o o O O O o o o - - -

"Defund the Police" Needs a Rebrand:  It certainly does, for all sorts of obvious reasons. As Kevin Drum says:
We can write thousands of pieces telling people that “defund” doesn’t really mean defund, but honestly, you can hardly blame people for nevertheless thinking that defund means defund. That is, cut police budgets to zero and get rid of them entirely.

There’s not a Democratic politician alive who thinks we should do this, and keeping the phrase in use is just an invitation for unnecessary conflict between politicos and their base. Maybe it’s too late, but can’t we come up with something better? Rebuild the Police? Reform the Police? Demilitarize the Police? There’s got to be something.
Notice how Senator Kamala Harris, a former state prosecutor, struggles to explain what the phrase really means - "not that we get rid of the police, of course not" - which is baffling to any intelligent listener who believes that words have meaning:



Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis was booed out of a protest march on Saturday after he refused to accede to the demand to "defund the police." He was quite right to decline, in my opinion. Here he explains his stand:




Now I certainly agree with Sen.  Harris that increased funding for public schools, healthcare, job creation and training is necessary to make better communities:  you get what you pay for.  Although I do have to wonder why, more than fifty years after LBJ called for the building of a "Great Society" in America - and the countless billions of dollars that have been spent on those very issues - why is our society not great?  Why are black communities still impoverished, with all the unhappy outcomes that go with poverty?  Why have fifty years of massive federal aid to cities and minorities had no better effect on its intended beneficiaries than what we see today in this country - the richest and most powerful in the world?

Please understand that I do not know the answers - I am simply asking the questions.  Questions that are long overdue a proper answer free of bias, one way or the other.

Some uninformed people in this great country think that it was established as an exclusively Christian nation and intended to be such forever.  The facts are otherwise, but even if that were true, they should not boast about it, but weep.  Jesus did say, "The poor are always with you."  But this hardly justifies complacency about the fact; I think it likely that He was quoting, in part, Deuteronomy 15:11, where God commands the Israelites:
For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.
And of course, Jesus himself told the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, enjoining those who love God to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, care for the sick, and comfort the prisoners; in other words, to do whatever was needed to alleviate poverty and misery.  In the Sermon on the Mount, He blessed the poor, saying the Kingdom of Heaven belonged to them.

Now, you need not believe in God or Christ or the Bible to grasp the exalted moral imperative here, which is expressed in different words in all other religions worthy of the name:  love your neighbor as yourself.  Believer or non-believer, conservative or liberal, rich or just getting by - if we are not barbarians, we must as individuals and as as a nation do what needs to be done to help and heal and lift up the poor among us - poor in body, mind, or spirit - and that is what will truly Make America Great Again.


Monday, June 8, 2020

Five Minutes of Hot Tea

Fabulous, funny, and true:  a Texas native tells it like it is, bitch. And I can tell you that everything he says about small-town Texas people is the God's truth.





By the way: As spot-on as this satire is, there is a greater point to be made here. It's not just about Texas, and it's not just about the South. I'll just say two words: Minneapolis. Brooklyn.

Racism and bigotry know no borders.


Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

What it's all about:  liberty and justice for all.

From Wikimedia Commons.

Well, fellas, during this momentous week just ended, I've posted a number of reports and videos that I thought were especially significant, out of a sea of memorable words and deeds that keep on flowing past our eyes and ears. But I am an old man, whose physical powers are not what they used to be - and to my dismay I find that a similar decline seems to be occurring with my mental powers, which were always keener than the former. I simply don't have the stamina to keep pace with all the frenzy of events now happening, though I hope perhaps what I have already posted has reached someone, somewhere, who might not otherwise have seen it, and opened an eye or sparked a new thought.  Knowledge is power.

Never before in all my life have I seen such a united and nationwide outpouring of public protest, not even in the turbulent 1960s. The horrific murder of George Floyd has galvanized the whole nation, if not the whole world, awakening the consciences of millions to the urgent need for reform, and return to fundamental American values. Though tempted to despair, somehow I feel sure that out of this dark night in the nation's history, a righteous dawn will come, and soon, if we seek it together - all ages, races, and sexes.  A way must be found to knit this country back together again as one united people - how to do it, I don't know, but it must be done.  Or else.

Today is Sunday, ostensibly a day of rest and reflection - though how often in our busy modern world do we work or play even harder on Sunday than on the other days of the week? - and instead of once again spending hours combing and sifting through the news, the best thing I can think of to honor the Sabbath Day is to present for your contemplation the sublime words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948 as the sum of human aspirations for a world of liberty, justice, brotherhood, and peace. Now is exactly the right time to remind ourselves of what the life of this nation, and of all mankind, can be, and should be.

Preamble

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Continued after the jump . . .

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Notes from the Revolution, 6/6/20

. . . a revolution of hearts and minds . . .


Today:  Massive Protests in America and Worldwide:
People across the U.S. and other parts of the world are gathering in major demonstrations on Saturday against racism and police violence, marking the 12th consecutive night of protests since the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota last month.

In Washington D.C., thousands of people are expected to stage what could be the city’s biggest demonstration yet, and the police department there said it will close many streets until midnight.  Massive demonstrations have also broken out across the world from Europe to Australia, with tens of thousands of protesters calling for an end to racism and police brutality in their own countries.

More than 43,300 National Guard members are on duty on Saturday in 34 states and D.C to respond to protests, many of which have been peaceful. In some cases, peaceful protests have been followed with looting and violence at night. 




All living former Presidents Condemn George Floyd's Murder, Call for Justice, Reflection, and Reform:



Obama on Black Lives Matter in 2015 and 2016:






What I Say:  Of course any halfway intelligent person who speaks English recognizes instantly that the phrase "Black Lives Matter" does not at all imply that only black lives matter. There is no "only" at the front of that phrase; but there is an implied "too" at the end. Even a first grader would understand that without being told. Anyone who thinks differently is being willfully obtuse and dishonest:  a racist bigot. And that's all that needs to be said about it.


Former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi Warns: "I'm calling the next five months in the history of our country the coming chaos."




Watch:  Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin, keeping it real in a powerful statement at the memorial service for George Floyd held today in Raeford, North Carolina, near Fayetteville, where he was born:
We, as law enforcement authorities, don't have the authority to bully and push people around and kill them because we have on a badge and a gun. . . .  Enough.  Don't let the life of George Floyd be in vain.  It has become a sacrifice.






One more thing: I missed this outrageous news story when it happened last year, but I'm utterly appalled that this rich white bitch down in Houston was NOT charged - of course - for assaulting a biracial couple taking birthday pics of their 1-year-old. It doesn't rise to the level of murder, but her arrogant attitude sure does need to change.  It's despicable.





Friday, June 5, 2020

Notes from the Revolution, 6/5/20

. . . a revolution of hearts and minds . . .

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: "Who are we?  Where are we?  How did we get to this place?
Cuomo lays out a plan for police reform, and the necessity of avoiding false dilemmas.



This is the clearest, most intelligent response to the current crisis I've heard yet. Damn, why is Cuomo not President?

I should also tell you that when I first saw the video of 75-year-old Martin Gugino being violently knocked down by bully-boy police, I thought, "That could be me." I'm not all that much younger than he, and subject to stumble and fall on my own without any help from others. Though I must also say that your Head Trucker would not have the temerity to step in front of a marching phalanx of armed men as he did.


Unconscionable: California: Vallejo police kill unarmed 22-year-old, who was on his knees with his hands up



This, of course, is just one of many stories of egregious,sickening police savagery occurring, with most grievous irony, during this week of nationwide protests against police brutality. Unfortunately, I can't find videos of all of them in a format I can post here. But likely you have seen some on TV or the internet already. Police reform must be the first step of reformation and healing in this country. I can tell you, even from my very mild, infrequent brushes as an old white man with traffic cops in the last two decades, police in Texas have gotten very heavy handed and mighty damn arrogant. Who taught them to behave like that? I shudder to think what they have been like with blacks and other minorities, here and across the nation. No more!


Interesting:  Suddenly, Public Health Officials Say Social Justice Matters More Than Social Distance  Excerpt:
The experts maintain that their messages are consistent—that they were always flexible on Americans going outside, that they want protesters to take precautions and that they're prioritizing public health by demanding an urgent fix to systemic racism.

But their messages are also confounding to many who spent the spring strictly isolated on the advice of health officials, only to hear that the need might not be so absolute after all. It’s particularly nettlesome to conservative skeptics of the all-or-nothing approach to lockdown, who point out that many of those same public health experts—a group that tends to skew liberal—widely criticized activists who held largely outdoor protests against lockdowns in April and May, accusing demonstrators of posing a public health danger. Conservatives, who felt their own concerns about long-term economic damage or even mental health costs of lockdown were brushed aside just days or weeks ago, are increasingly asking whether these public health experts are letting their politics sway their health care recommendations.

Also:  In reversal of position, WHO tells public to wear masks if unable to distance
The WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan stressed that putting on a fabric mask is primarily about preventing the wearer from possibly infecting others, rather than self-protection.


Lester Holt of NBC News summarizes the day's events:





Thursday, June 4, 2020

Notes from the Revolution, 6/4/20

. . . a revolution of hearts and minds . . .

The Reverend Al Sharpton:  "Get Your Knee off Our Necks"
Excerpt from the memorial service for George Floyd in Minneapolis today; the full sermon here is something all Americans should watch.




Houston Police Chief to Trump:  "If you don't have something constructive to say, please keep your mouth shut."  Followed by a great exposition of what American policing should be.




Pope Francis speaks out: "We cannot turn a blind eye to racism"
Dear brothers and sisters in the United States, I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr George Floyd. My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we have to recognize that “the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost.” Today I join the Church in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and in the entire United States, in praying for the repose of the soul of George Floyd and of all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism. Let us pray for the consolation of their grieving families and friends and let us implore the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn. May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, intercede for all those who work for peace and justice in your land and throughout the world. May God bless all of you and your families.

Former President Jimmy Carter speaks out: "We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this”:
Rosalynn and I are pained by the tragic racial injustices and consequent backlash across our nation in recent weeks. Our hearts are with the victims’ families and all who feel hopeless in the face of pervasive racial discrimination and outright cruelty. We all must shine a spotlight on the immorality of racial discrimination. But violence, whether spontaneous or consciously incited, is not a solution.

As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans. As a politician, I felt a responsibility to bring equity to my state and our country. In my 1971 inaugural address as Georgia’s governor, I said: “The time for racial discrimination is over.” With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later. Dehumanizing people debases us all; humanity is beautifully and almost infinitely diverse. The bonds of our common humanity must overcome the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.

Since leaving the White House in 1981, Rosalynn and I have strived to advance human rights in countries around the world. In this quest, we have seen that silence can be as deadly as violence. People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say “no more” to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy. We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations.

We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis Denounces Trump as a Threat to the Constitution:   "He tries to divide us. . . . We can unite without him."
IN UNION THERE IS STRENGTH

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 [Note: Actually, it's Federalist 41, third paragraph--Russ.] that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.
For my overseas truckbuddies who may not catch all the allusions to our Constitution and history in Mattis's unprecedented censure, CNN provides an annotated version here.





A powerful message: "End Trump's American Carnage" from Republican Voters against Trump




White House Fence Enlarged, Expanded actually, this project has been in the works for months, but coming at this particular moment, it seems highly symbolic of a bunker mentality.

Artist's rendering - National Park Service






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