The Wicked Witch of the White House is a formidable foe. He has been a sleezeball virtually his entire chronological adult life. Year after year he won the coveted “Slimeball of the Year” trophy awarded by the New York City Real Estate and Construction community to the single most disreputable builder in the city.
His winning was no fluke. He is blessed with having no morals, no ethics, and no values save narcissism. He brings to the fight an inexhaustible energy. He throws an unlimited number of punches all below the belt. Now our immature child president has brought his lack of integrity, competence, and intelligence to the national and international arenas. He is a full-time resident of an alternate reality functioning at a child level with supreme confidence that he can get enough people to believe he really is THE DONALD, the chosen one, and that only he can solve the problems (he has caused).
The Wicked Witch of the White House is not alone. Standing with him are the Flying Monkeys. These are the people who have sold their souls to their Lord and Savior assuming they had souls to sell. They have sworn an oath to take a bullet for him. They will obstruct any effort to obtain the truth. They willingly will be thrown under the bus once their usefulness ends. As always, loyalty is a one-way street.
The Flying Monkeys are well-known to the American public. They frequently appear on Fox if they do not already work there. They include:
Vice President Brown Nose
Bill Barred for Life
Nunes the Clown
Clueless Jim Jordan
Meeting-crasher Maculate Gaetz
All Angles Ingrham
The Grahm Cracker
Kelly Alternate-Reality Conway
The Huckabee Huckster
Ridiculous Rudy, Hero Attack mutt
and the list goes on and on.
The Wicked Witch of the White House and his Flying Monkeys are further aided by Trumpicans – the American people who attend his realities, ignore or disbelieve all charges against him, and cheer him on. His skill as a con artist is his ability to connect with them through his gut-instinct. He uses their pain to service his gain. The results have been spectacular.
Now the real world is closing in. Playtime is over. The Wicked Witch of the White House in the domestic and foreign arenas has to face adults. This is not scripted political professional wrestling where he can mock and insult people all he wants as the seventh-grade smart-aleck dumb-aleck he actually is. The doctored videos of him wreaking havoc against his foes will not help him in the real world of adults. North Korea, Iran, Turkey, and Russia all know he is a weeny limited to simpleminded tweets and sanctions. The only ones who fear him now are our allies as they know they can no longer rely on the United States as long as Bonespur Boy is President. It’s not Turkey who is concerned, it is the Baltics who destroyed Yugoslavia, it is Israel who knows it faces Iran alone, and it is the Kurds who know even a private message to the President of the United States will be delivered to their enemy.
This is Nancy Pelosi’s moment. This is the moment that history will look to try to understand what the American people finally did when their immature child President attempted to function in the adult world and did not have the mental necessities to do so.
At this point for all practical purposes impeachment is a done deal. As far as the Ukraine is concerned the public record itself is sufficient grounds to impeach. The hearings serve only to disclose how extensive the conspiracy and coverup were in the effort to use the American government to pursue personal political needs to get dirt on an opponent and then to hide the effort. The testimony of the people outside the power of the Wicked Witch of the White House or who defy it will simply provide the details for the articles of impeachment…not whether or not there will be any.
For those still under the sway of the Wicked Witch of the White House, their obstruction will only serve to add obstruction articles to the impeachment. Their actions will not prevent it. These people have been advised on several talking shows of their need to get lawyers for their own defense.
The number of people involved in the conspiracy raises the question of how Pelosi should proceed. The impeachment of the President is the end game but should it be the only game? As We the People were reminded again and again during the Mueller investigation, Department of Justice guidelines prohibit the indictment of a sitting president. Putting aside the issue of whether that is a Constitutional restriction or simply a matter of policy, that leaves exposed people who are not President.
My advice, for whatever it is worth, is to start with the unprotected non-Presidential people prior to the impeachment of President himself. In particular, start with the Attorney General. At minimum that should force him to recuse himself. His removal from power will make it easier to pursue the other unprotected people through the federal attorneys. Bill Barred for Life would no longer be able to curtail the work of the Department of Justice the way he declined to pursue the whistleblower’s report in the first place. In fact, that decision could easily be the first article of indictment against him.
Following the indictment of Attorney General, Pelosi could proceed week by week to recommend indictments of the remaining members of the conspiracy and cover:
Acting Chief of Staff
Secretary of State
and whoever else deserves it. Then would come the big one.
By that time, would even Republicans in the House of Representatives support impeachment? It’s possible. The 354-60 vote to rebuke the President on his Syria pullout including 129 Republicans shows that it is possible for even the majority of Republicans in the House to defy the Wicked Witch of the White House. It also identifies the 60 Flying Monkeys in the House. In other words, the brilliant strategy in Syria may create the context which the perfect Ukrainian phone call did not. Now Republicans in the House and Senate can free themselves from the power of the Wicked Witch of the White House and vote to impeach and remove him from office…maybe even in time to select another candidate for 2020. But that’s the subject of another blog or two.
In some ways, Columbus Day is Ground Zero for the culture wars. Here is where the two white sides square off in the battle for power in America. Each white side claims right is on its side and as always the American Indians are caught in the middle. This blog is a continuation of a series on the white people conflict between Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day. For those who are keeping track, the previous related blogs are listed at the conclusion of this one.
In this post, I want to focus on the words of James Axtell who in 1992 was a history professor at the College of William and Mary and the chair of the American Historical Association’s Columbus Quincentenary Committee. In that capacity, he authored an article “Columbian Encounters: Beyond 1992,” published in the William and Mary Quarterly in 1992.
Axtell began the article optimistically. He expressed his hope that the Columbus Quincentenary would be more successful than the Bicentennial had been in realizing its educational potential. He identified various reasons why it would make a deeper public and pedagogical impact than the 1776 anniversary celebration had. Since then, of course, the intensity of the culture wars has grown.
In his analysis, Axtell introduces a critical term that unfortunately has never caught on. He recommends the word “Encounter” as the theme of the Quincentenary. He does so “although natives. Critics, and activists may not approve the idea, encounters are morally neutral: the term does not prejudge the nature of the contact or its outcome.” Naturally I was quite pleased to read about his use of this term since without being aware of this article and more familiar with the term from the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” I had used that very word in my own blog in 2017 appropriately entitled Columbus Day: Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The bulk of the Axtell’s article recounts his impressive familiarity with all articles, books, conferences, exhibits, and manner of scholarship related to the Quincentenary. He is pleasantly surprised that the quality of Quincentenary scholarship is so high. Now what, he asks at the end? What should be done to keep the momentum going beyond 1992? He wrote:
My survey of the Columbian Encounter field suggests the following prescriptions:
(1) We should focus on Columbus as a man of extraordinary perseverance, skill, and luck but a man nonetheless – flawed like all men. Rather than caricaturing him as an oversized hero or villain we should see him in full perspective, pre- and post-1492, and measure him primarily against the men, ideas, and mores of his own time.
(2) We should pay more attention to Europe on the eve of colonization as the locus of experience, goals, and methods for the American incursions.
(3) We should pay much more attention to precontact America: its complexity, variety, demography, and deep reservoirs of human experience. We should make greater efforts to really hear native voices from the past and in the present, not only for Clio’s sake but to advance our own necessary and liberating education in otherness.
(4) In our writing and teaching of colonial history, we should rescue the sixteenth century from undeserved neglect. Without it, we have no hope of making sense of its more familiar sequel.
(5) We must learn to do justice to Hispanic America, first by ridding ourselves of the Black Legend and then by pursuing its history beyond the short conquest phase into the less sanguinary settlement period of city building, imperial bureaucracy, sugar plantations, cattle ranches, and widespread acculturation. We should also do a better job of integrating the Spanish borderlands with the histories of North America and the United States.
(6) By the same token, we should incorporate the history of the Caribbean, where Europe often fought its intercolonial wars before landing on North American soil, because the sugar islands were so valuable to the mother countries.
(7) We should continue to pay attention to the role of disease and biological imperialism in the conquest and depopulation of the Americas. But we should refine our estimates of mortality to accord with the best available evidence and with common sense.
(8) While well-publicized historical anniversaries occasions for them, we should curb the temptation worse, predetermined moral judgments on the enough after we have done our homework thoroughly.
(9) Whenever possible, we should resort to the insights and viewpoints of other disciplines, such as anthropology, archaeology, ethnohistory, cartography, historical geography, and colonial discourse. Even the historical fiction of Latin American novelists such Abel Posse, Alejo Carpentier, and Antonio Benitez-Rojo stretches the imaginative limits of our understanding of the Spanish and Indian heritages of that first, vast, other America.
(10) On a similar tack, we should employ whenever possible a comparative perspective on the American Encounter-comparing French, Spanish, English, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, and Russian efforts with each other and American efforts with colonial efforts in other parts of the world-in order to separate the unique from the typical.
(11) The well-modulated public and scholarly success of the Quincentenary should inspire us to design future historical anniversaries as opportunities less for celebration than for cerebration. We must also be very careful about who is included in, and who feels excluded from, “We the
People.” Ethnic, gender, and racial sensitivities are likely to grow; parity of treatment and attention-and, perhaps as important, the appearance of parity-must be extended to all citizens, past and present. We can start by rethinking our historical vocabulary: Old and New World, discoverer, discovery, Indian, Amerindian, America, American, Latin American, and the West are factually, morally, or culturally problematic.
(12) Finally, we should all study to become better citizens of the “global village” we now inhabit, the foundations of which Columbus laid in I492. If we do not learn to protect, respect, and sustain its people and to conserve and renew its resources, it will be much poorer when the Columbian sexcentenary occurs. Perhaps some of the lessons we draw from our study of the first Encounter will prevent such a fate.
I make no judgement as to what has happened in the academic arena. I leave that to the scholars in the field. In the public arena, the story is more telling. With the passage of time, Columbus has become even more of a villain to politically-corrected white people. We are quicker to pass judgement now and more vehement and vicious in so doing. The interest now in pre-contact American Indians has more to do with the superiority their way of life to that of white people with all white peoples of all nations being lumped together. Instead of the Encounters leading to a better understanding of all the people and peoples involved, two-dimensional clichés trump all other concerns.
Can we do better? Consider this example from Lewiston, New York, on what one community is doing better and that there is more to be done. From the Historical Association of Lewiston newsletter which is sent to me:
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY
Please support scholarship fund
Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to celebrate and honor Native Americans and to commemorate their shared history and culture. The Village and Town of Lewiston celebrate both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day simultaneously.
At the Historical Association of Lewiston, we decided to honor our Tuscarora neighbors, by awarding a scholarship to a deserving Tuscarora student. It is our hope to make this an annual award given out every year on Indigenous Peoples day in front of the Tuscarora Heroes Monument on Center Street in the Village of Lewiston.
As a non-profit organization, the Historical Association is soliciting public donations to help sponsor the scholarship. We hope you will find it worthy of your generosity and urge you to support this cause. Your donations can be made to the Historical Association of Lewiston, P.O. Box 43, Lewiston, NY 14092. Make a note that you want your donation to go to the Tuscarora Scholarship fund. We can provide you with a receipt for tax purposes if requested. Thank you!
The good news is that the community is recognizing the Tuscarora. The shortcoming is that the Tuscarora are not included in the title of the holiday. With Columbus, there is a proper noun and no confusion as to who is being celebrated. With Indigenous, the people honored could be anywhere in the world: indigenous Canadians, indigenous Australians, indigenous Latin Americans (see Columbus Day versus Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Part II – Columbus and America). If Lewiston has a Tuscarora Heroes Monument then it should have Tuscarora Day as well and it should be on a day most relevant to the Tuscarora.
Here is another example, this time from the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY).
Native American Heritage Day
Sunday, October 13, 11am–12pm
Celebrate the vast history and contemporary voices of Native American New Yorkers who come from Tribal Nations across the country. Enjoy storytelling, songs, and dances performed by the renowned Thunderbird American Indian Dancers, the oldest resident Native American dance company in New York. See Lenape objects in New York at Its Core and contemporary art by Native American New Yorkers in Urban Indian: Native New York Now, and create art to take home.
Notice the dichotomy. The Thunderbird American Indian Dancers call themselves American Indians while the MCNY quickly switches to its preferred politically correct term. But it does call the Lenape by their name and does use the term “Indian” in the exhibit name.
At the recent James Fenimore Cooper & Susan Cooper Conference: “E Pluribus Unum: Cooper, Cosmopolis, and American Identity” (SUNY Oneonta, September 25-25, 2019), there was a Commanche presenter. She always referred to herself as a Commanche or to American Indians in general. It was the white people who used the term “Native Americans.”
In the New York Times on October 13, 2019, just after October 12 and before the Monday holiday, in an article entitled “Sharp Cuts in Immigration Threaten U.S. Economy, Austan Goolsbee wrote about the positive impact immigrants have:
…the evidence increasingly says having immigrants here makes workers born in the United States more successful.
That’s partly because immigrants start companies at twice the rate of native Americans.
How the New York Times let this reporter get away with such politically incorrect language is a mystery. And if you read the sentence aloud, how could you distinguish between “native Americans” and “Native Americans” anyway?
The Encounter theme proposed by Axtell back in 1992 is the way out of this morass if we want a “win-win” resolution rather than a “zero-sum” war. It applies not only to Columbus Day but to the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution which is now gearing up (we have a meeting tonight on this event).
In New York, where I live I can consider three excellent places where to have encounters, perhaps annual rotating conferences).
National Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian – this location in lower Manhattan is the area where Hudson and the Lenape made contact leading to the creation of New Amsterdam and then New York.
The William Johnson state and private historic sites in the Mohawk Valley – Irish Johnson was the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs whose career involved him with numerous Indian tribes and nations and European nationalities.
Battle of Oriskany in the Mohawk Valley – This prelude to the Battle of Saratoga revealed that not only was the American Revolution a civil war among European peoples, it was a civil war among Indian peoples where two members of the Iroquois/Haudenosaunee confederation, the Seneca and the Oneida fought on opposite sides against each other.
One could add Cooperstown of Leatherstocking fame, Thanksgiving, Lewis and Clark, Little Big Horn, and a slew of western sites as places of encounters. As things stand now, slice and dice trumps We the People but I prefer to believe that there will come a time when American Indians are recognized as being part of the American experience and Columbus is an individual human being.
I attended the opening night of Hamilton on Broadway. It was easy. The tickets went for sale at 9:00. At one second after 9:00, I was on the website. The theater was empty. I had my choice of seats as none were taken. I could have bought as many as I wanted…and for as many performances as I wanted. If I had known better, I would have cashed in my IRA!
At the opening performance everyone was excited. The buzz was palpable. Ron Chernow was there looking somewhat shell-shocked that his book was a Broadway musical. Then the musical began. Suddenly something strange happened. A white guy appeared on stage. He was singing British pop not hip hop. He was King George III. The song he was singing was “You’ll Be Back.” He brought down the house. Apparently, it was the first song Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote for Hamilton and he did so on his honeymoon. Even though Jonathan Groff’s performance lasted a mere nine minutes per show, he received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.
The tone and much of the language for this song appears to come from an actual address King George III made to Parliament on October 27, 1775. In the address, as in the song, George uses the words “loyal” and “subject” several times, followed by a proclamation that he will use force to put a speedy end to the revolt in America. From the address:
They have raised troops, and are collecting a naval force; they have seized the public revenue, and assumed to themselves legislative, executive and judicial powers, which they already exercise in the most arbitrary manner, over the persons and property of their fellow-subjects: And altho’ many of these unhappy people may still retain their loyalty, and may be too wise not to see the fatal consequence of this usurpation, and wish to resist it, yet the torrent of violence has been strong enough to compel their acquiescence, till a sufficient force shall appear to support them.
King George III may yet prove right. As we approach the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence from England, the desire for a monarchy, a life-long position where you are legally untouchable, looms large with the current president.
Let’s look at the record as Shepard Smith would have reported it.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce We the People under absolute Despotism, it is our right, it is our duty, to impeach such Government, and to provide new Constitutional and statutory guards for our future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of We the People; and such is now the necessity which constrains us to impeach the current Government. The history of the present President of the United States of America is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over We the People. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has disparaged the first President of the United States because he did not name anything after himself the way the great kings of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia had.
He has asserted that Article II gives him the authority and power to do whatever he wants.
He has asserted that as President he cannot even be investigated yet alone indicted, tried, or convicted.
He has asserted that as President he and he alone can decide what checks and balances are to be adhered to.
He has asserted that as President he and he alone can decide what subpoenas to obey and what legislative requests to follow.
He has asserted that as President he and he alone can decide if an impeachment inquiry is valid.
He has asserted that as President that he cannot be guilty of obstruction since everybody who works for him or who is directly connected to him or by six degrees of separation is connected to him is covered by executive privilege and not subject to Congressional subpoenas.
He has asserted that whistle-blowers are traitors and should be treated as spies who should be executed.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A President whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of the Country, solemnly publish and declare, That We the People are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent People; that We are Absolved from all Allegiance to this President, and that all political connection between We the People and Donald Trump, is and ought to be totally dissolved. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Not exactly. On a recent Erin Burnett show, Kim Wehle, author of How to Read the Constitution and Why, expressed the view that Americans should be familiar with the Constitution. We are not a monarchy. She was correct to point out that was true in 1776 but that does not mean it is true in 2019. Maybe Hamilton’s King George III was right after all and we do want a king…or at least many Americans do.
A judge found the behavior of the current President to be “repugnant” and at odds with the Constitution – but where were the lawyers to tell their client the President that it was repugnant and in gross violation of the Constitution?
A judge regurgitated the Fox talking points in legalese in a 2-1 defeat of the President – but suppose there were more Trump-appointed judges on the bench were called upon to rule in such cases, who would win then?
Trump-appointed judges still have cases to adjudicate – how will they rule on ‘L’etat c’est moi’ cases?
Suppose ‘L’etat c’est moi’ cases reach the Supreme Court – how will the Court rule?
Already people speculate on how the Supreme Court judges might rule. It is taken for granted that the Trump-appointed judges will rule in favor of their leader. It is taken for granted that the Republican-appointed judges also will rule on behalf of THE DONALD…except maybe for the Chief Justice in an otherwise tie. It may well be that the continued existence of the United States as a Constitutional country depends on the continued existence of RBG.
King George III demanded loyalty. So does THE DONALD. King George III demanded loyalty to him as an individual. So does THE DONALD. As we begin the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, we have the opportunity not only to remember what happened but to relive it. We know there are many LOYALISTS. We have just seen them in Minnesota and Louisiana. They are united. They are passionate. They are committed. They are dedicated. And just maybe they will demonstrate that Hamilton’s King George III was right.
Sean Hannity has a beautiful mind. His skill in connecting the dots is unrivaled. If there was a Nobel Prize for connecting the dots, he would be the winner.
Who can forget his performance in the Story of Seth Rich? Night after night, week after week, month after month, duped-by-Russia Hannity would regale his rapt audience with the story of how this murdered individual that no one had ever heard of was the critical lynch-pin to exposing the evil shenanigans of the Democrats and the Deep State to undo the legitimately-elected President.
In his performance, duped-by-Russia Hannity was insistent, consistent, and persistent. In the time Rachel Maddow would have spent on one of her long opening essays before getting to the point, duped-by-Russia Hannity would have delivered his message multiple times. All the pieces fit together. All the dots were connected. Buckle up and hear the truth.
There was only one slight problem with duped-by-Russia Hannity’s performance – there was no truth to it. The unfortunate murder of this individual who happened to have worked for the Democratic Party was one of the chance events that sometimes occur in the big city. It was not part of some Jason-Bourne-007-Jack-Clancy intrigue….unless you wanted it to be.
Russia wanted it to be. Give credit where credit is due. The Russian “KGB” quickly seized on this seeming minor event and made it into a political thriller. According to the “real story,” Seth Rich was on his way to talk to the FBI about corruption by the Clintons when he was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for them. It was right there on the web. You could read it for yourself. The alt-right did. So did Fox. What was the source of the story? The Russian “KGB.” Fox had been duped.
What are the lessons to be learned from this experience?
1. The Russian “KGB” is very good. It responded very quickly and very decisively to concoct a story and to disseminate it on the web. It “proved” that the alleged Russian collusion was really Democratic Party dirty tricks led by Crooked Hillary. These actions demonstrated a familiarity with the American political arena, the willingness to act in it surreptitiously, and the skill to do so successfully.
2. It also demonstrated a technique that the Russians would use again and again to meddle in American politics. It succeeded in duping Hannity because it gave him exactly what he wanted. The Russians knew their audience. They crafted a story that appealed to the conspiracy people eager for a story that confirmed all there predispositions. The Seth Rich story did exactly that.
So why not use that approach again?
The Russians did with the Steele Dossier. That really had originated as a Democratic-funded initiative to get dirt on the Republican opponent. In effect, the Democratic Party had broadcast exactly what it wanted. The effort made clear it was looking for precisely the kind of information that would undermine the political prospects of the Republican candidate.
Guess what the Democrats got in the Steele Dossier?
The Steele Dossier provided the Democrats with exactly the information they wanted. The Steele Dossier was nothing if not dirt on THE DONALD. If the allegations made in the Steele Dossier were true, they would be more than embarrassing, they might even prove fatal. Now the Democrats had been duped. How much time was spent on the elusive and illusory meeting in Prague? And what about Carter Page?
The Democrats had been played by the Russian “KGB” just as the alt-right, Fox, and duped-by-Russia Hannity had been. Remember how Democrats were practically foaming at the mouth in anticipation of a great victory by destroying THE DONALD thanks to the Steele Dossier. How did that work out? Not so well for the Democrats. As it turns out, they were just as eager to believe what they wanted to believe as duped-by-Russia Hannity was.
The Russians were not done. Why not try offering dirt to THE DONALD on Crooked Hillary? We do not know what “dirt” the Russian “KGB” had manufactured in this effort. It does not seem to have amounted to much. But the words of the son who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer says it all: “I love it!” Although this particular gambit failed, it highlighted the validity of the Russian effort to manipulate the American election: give the people what they want and they will run with it even when there is no truth to it whatsoever.
The Ukraine is the final example of this approach…at least so far. The Ukraine maneuver suits Putin’s needs. It assigns the blame for the intervention into the American Presidential election to his enemy the Ukrainians. Therefore the sanctions levied against Russia should be removed and Russia should be restored to its rightful place in the world just as his American asset has been trying to do. The Ukrainian ploy solves the problems of both leaders. It legitimizes the election of the current present and gets the Russian leader off the hook. All the problems are due to the Ukrainians. Seth Rich lives. The Steele Dossier is accurate. The Americans have been played.
Putin was a former KGB agent. How long do you think it took him size up THE DONALD? How long did it take the alpha male to recognize that the immature-child American President was a submissive, simpleminded, ignoramus? If your answer was more than a nano-nano second, then you are not fit to write about American politics and should never be invited as a talking head on a TV or radio show. Putin does not watch Fox, he dupes Fox. He quickly realized that the weak, superficial, narcissist was a person he could manipulate. Russia did not intervene in the American election, it was the Ukraine.
There are consequences to being the victim of the Putin’s ploys. For Fox, it is being sued by the Rich family. For the Democrats, it was following a bogus trail and undermining the Mueller report. For THE DONALD it was being impeached and watching his whole stack of lies being undone. The drones used to bomb the Saudi oilfields did not cost much. Neither did Russia have to spend much to totally disrupt the American political process. Who knew it would be that easy?
To become a profile in courage is not easy. First there needs to be a situation where there is a need for someone to be a profile in courage. Second, one of the people in that situation then needs to rise to the occasion. One cannot always know when such a situation will arise. Typically we think of military figures and athletes in all-or-nothing or do-or-die moment, but sometimes such opportunities sneak up on when you least expect it. Sometimes it is the result of your own action which got you into the mess in the first place.
Since everything you need to know about life you can learn from Star Trek, let us examine what another Mike Pence experienced. The show is “Bread and Circuses” which aired on March 15, 1968. In that show, Captain Merik and his crew from another spaceship are missing. The Starship Enterprise crew locates the crew on a planet governed by a 1960s version of the Roman Empire. It is a world where the Empire did not fall but continued to exist for another two millennia.
On the planet, Captain Merik sells his soul to the Roman Emperor, to Caesar and not to Christ. It is not an exact match to V.P. Mike selling his soul to his Lord and Savior, the chosen one, blessed be his name, but it is close enough. Pence’s performance in the Cabinet meeting where he thanked God for enabling him to share the same space-time continuum as The Donald will forever define him. In its own way, it is even more pathetic than Captain Merik’s abject submission in the TV show.
Be that as it may, both Mike and Merik have violated their oath. Merik has violated the Prime Directive by interfering in the planet and sharing knowledge of the existence of the Federation of Planets along with the awareness of a superior technology to that a 1960s country possessed. Vice President Brown Nose has been submissive in his behavior but whether he has crossed the line or not is another issue…until the current scandal
Now he faces a moment of truth. He was present during the violation of the Constitution and the cover-up. What will he do? He was part of it. Will he tell the truth? He has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. He knows that people around him like the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General have no intention of keeping that oath. When Pompeo decided to tell the truth about his presence during the Ukrainian telephone call, it was not because of his pangs of conscience for not telling truth before. It was because he realized that multiple people in the State Department were going to tell the truth. They were going to expose that he had not. So Pompeo does not qualify as a profile in country.
The less said about Bill Barred-for-Life the better.
What about Pence? What will he do? In the Star Trek episode, Merik redeems himself. In the moment of truth, Merik rescues Kirk and Co. enabling them to beam back to the Starship Enterprise and escape the clutches of the imperial order. He pays for that decision with his life. Sometimes being a profile in courage can be fatal. Just because you demonstrate the right stuff to go into the arena does not mean you will survive the ordeal and emerge a victor. In the TV show, Merik did not.
What about Pence? In the early months of this administration there was a lot of silly talk about the 25h Amendment. Somehow V.P Brown Nose was going to lead a cabinet coup against the mentally impaired immature child President and restore decency to the Oval Office. The idea that Pence would rise to the occasion was so absurd as to be completely laughable. None-the-less, adult human beings even with college educations, would discuss this option as if it were a real possibility.
This time the stakes are different. This time the impeachment drive is moving full speed ahead. This time people with integrity are eager to testify and tell the truth. This time each passing day reveals another facet of the violation and cover-up. Should he just stand on the sidelines, watch it happen, and be indicted? The DOJ rules do not apply to the positions of the other co-conspirators. Pompeo and Barr are not immune, they are not exempt, they are not above the law. Neither is the Vice President. He may even catch on to the fact that loyalty is a one-way street with this narcissistic President. You owe him loyalty, he owes you nothing.
What will Mike Pence do? He prides himself on his Christian values. Will he tell the truth? He prides himself on never dining alone with a woman who is not his wife. Will he tell the truth? He prides himself on his integrity. Will he tell the truth? He thinks he is part of God’s plan. Will he tell the truth?
No. Even his staff knows the truth does not register with him.
He will not rise to the occasion.
He will not be a profile in courage.
He never would have been picked for the position of Vice President if he was.
On September 8, I had the honor of boarding the Amistad docked in Yonkers, New York. The event was a last minute one arranged in part through the African American Westchester 400 (AAW400) and the City of Yonkers. I am a member of that committee. Although the 400th anniversary of the event is over, the work continues to tell the story of the African contribution to the creating and building of our country, our state, and our county.
1. When I reviewed the situation in the spring of 2019 of the commission created by law in 2016, the status was dismal. At that point, nothing had been done, deadlines were not being met, and the prospect of funding to organizations to hold programs had not been realized. Not surprisingly, that condition persisted throughout the spring and summer.
2. The events that did occur through the commission operating through the National Park Service tended to be in Virginia at or near the site where the first Africans to the British colonies arrived. There was no national presence. The closest action at the national level probably was the Sunday Magazine section of the New York Times dedicated to 1619. That garnered attention. With the related curriculum materials and articles/podcasts, the New York Times likely is to be the most prominent player in the national arena on the subject of 1619.
Yes, it could have happened through the federal commission but it did not. One wonders if the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution which also has a federal commission will repeat this scenario.
States also had the opportunity to act. In New York, an act establishing the 400 Years of African History Commission passed the state Assembly and Senate. It has not been signed into law although in theory it still could be signed by Governor at any time even though the legislature is not in session. According to the stipulations, the commission is scheduled to submit a report yesterday on October 1 summarizing its planned activities, funds received and spent, and recommendations.
The mission of the state commission if created was similar to the national commission. It was to promote awareness and education of the African presence in the United States since 1619. Although New York was mentioned by name in the proposed legislation its purview was the entire United States. Funding was to be available for communities, organizations, and research. None of this has happened so far at the state level and now that the anniversary has passed, it remains to be seen if anything will happened. No specific government funding was included anyway.
These developments reminded me of the creation of the Amistad Commission here in New York in 2005.
New York State’s Amistad Commission is charged with researching and surveying the extent to which the African slave trade, American slavery and its aftermath and legacy is included in the curricula of New York state schools; and make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature regarding the implementation of education and awareness programs into schools curricula. The Commission will focus on the contributions of African-Americans in building our country, American History including Abolitionists, Civil Rights movements and other developments to create a greater awareness about the nation’s involvement in slavery to inspire acknowledgement and informed dialogue.
In 2005, New York’s Legislature created an Amistad Commission to review state curriculum regarding how American slavery is taught. All people should know of and remember the human carnage and dehumanizing atrocities committed during this period of American history and consider the vestiges of slavery in this country. It is vital to educate our citizens about our nation’s involvement in slavery to nullify the pervasive myth that Northerners, especially New Yorkers were innocent of slavery. The intention is to explore how slavery is interpreted to our students and the public and seek informed, balanced approaches. We will focus on historical content as well as pedagogy on how to teach slavery, with the hope that it be presented with sensitivity in learning environments and will contribute to the principles of justice, and dignity in a civilized society.
New Jersey, Illinois and New York have each created commissions to review how African American history and 250 years of slavery is taught in America’s classrooms.
That commission was the subject of a blog The New York State Amistad Commission: Do Black Lives Matter? In 2016 after I learned about it. I was critical of the commission for its inactivity and its focus on the United States as a whole. It seemed to be downplaying the African and therefore slavery presence in this state while seeking to tell the story of slavery in other states, meaning the South. One obvious datum demonstrating its shortcomings was its designation of its co-chair. At the time when I wrote the post, the Commissioner of Education named on the website was no longer in that position. He had left two years earlier. I checked again just now and he is still listed on the site EVEN AFTER HIS SUCCESSOR HAS RESIGNED! Does New York even need a new commission when it already has the dormant Amistad Commission? Or should it finally remove the Amistad Commission from the state website and start over?
I was reminded of the Amistad Commission both by the arrival of the Amistad on September 8 and an announcement I received earlier in the summer from the New Jersey Amistad Commission. As the New York website notes, New Jersey was one of the handful of states which also established such commissions. Apparently it is still going strong as evident by the announcement of this summer program. As you read the notification below please note the references to the THIRTEENTH annual teach institute and the normal TWO regional institutes. In other words, it has been a continuous active presence since its founding at the same time as the New York Amistad Commission.
The New Jersey Amistad Commission is proud to present its Thirteenth Amistad Commission Annual Summer Institute for Teachers to be held August 19-24, 2019. This year, the two regional institutes are combined into one large curriculum development and pedagogy consortium for administrators, and classroom teachers. Our aim is to teach additional methodological and pedagogical techniques using special topics in history, pursuant to our mandate to infuse African American history into the K-12 curriculum (NJ Rev Stat § 52:16A-87-89 (2013)).
This summer’s Institute is timed to correlate with the international recognition activities commemorating the 400-year anniversary of the first documented arrival “20 odd” captured and enslaved Africans to the Jamestown settlement on August 24, 1619. It is a five (5) day residential program designed to give New Jersey educators unique access to prominent colonial history scholars onsite Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg and Tidewater Virginia.
These historic places offer visual and interactive history, unearthed archaeological exhibits and re-enactments that tell a hard story about the beginnings of involuntary servitude in America. The experience is designed to facilitate educators’ meaningful study and better understanding of this period in history.
The aim of the institute is to make the most of this experience in historic places by supplementing existing methodological and pedagogical techniques, using hands-on or experiential learning, stimulating creativity, reacquainting users with primary and secondary resources, providing lectures, multimedia presentations, teaching strategies, lesson plan writing and alignment of curriculum to New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards (NJCCCS) and Amistad Curriculum.
A significant aspect of the professional development curriculum training is enabling educators’ experts use of the Amistad web-based multimedia curriculum resource, An Inclusive Journey Through American History (www.njamistadcurriculum.net).
There is no comparison between the success of the New Jersey program in contrast to the complete and total failure of the New York State Amistad Commission. At this point, there is no constructive purpose in trying to approve the current proposal in New York for the 400 year anniversary commission. Instead of focusing on events in Virginia, Texas with the Juneteenth, and the Amistad, we should be focusing on events here in New York. That is why I am working with my local state senator to create the Bicentennial Freedom Commission in recognition of the end of legalized slavery in New York State on July 4, 1827.
Playtime for The Donald is over. For much of his presidency up until now it has been fun. He got to be the center of attention. He got to demean and mock people. He got to be the center of attention. He got to help rich people get richer. He got to be the center of attention. He got to reverse almost everything Obama had championed. He got to be the center of attention. He got to promote his resorts, hotels, and businesses to people who wanted to buy his favor. He got to be the center of attention. He got to perform in professional political wrestling arenas before adoring crowds of worshipers. He got to the center of attention. He got to play golf and watch TV to his ego’s content. He got to be the center of attention. And he got to throw rolls of paper towels at people clamoring for his attention. He really did get to be the center of attention.
The real world moments were few and far between. Yes, he thought the Mueller report would expose his entire sleazy tawdry life from being a corrupt slime ball real-estate developer to being a corrupt slime ball president. But that turned out to be a nothingburger. Yes, he has not built the wall but he keeps trying and may be making progress even if it is at the expense of national security and in violation of the Constitution. Yes, he has not denuclearized North Korea and won the Noble Prize. Yes, he has not eliminated healthcare. Still over all, he has taken pride in having the greatest first two years of any American President and undoubtedly deserving of having his face alone carved on the biggest mountain he can find. After all, how can he be impeached with the economy being so great? The sad part is that is actually how his brain operates.
The real world functions differently. There are limits as to how long you can deceive it. Eventually even the Soviet Union was exposed as not being the wave of the future. The same applies to our immature child president attempting to pass for an adult and struggling to maintain the con as the real world presses in. Two recent events have exposed the immature child behind the curtain as not being The Donald. The first was with Iran and the second was with the Ukraine.
Iran provided The Donald with a major opportunity to reverse Obama. He kept his campaign pledge to withdraw America from the nuclear treaty that prevented Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Now Iran was free to develop them since there was no treaty prohibiting them from doing so. Take that Obama!
While withdrawing from the nuclear arms treaty, he ramped up the sanctions. His goal was regime change without military intervention. The sanctions would make life so horrid and stressful that eventually the people would rise up and remove the government for us. After all sanctions had a proven record of regime change and behavior modification in Cuba, Russia, and North Korea, so why wouldn’t they work in Iran as well?
Naturally, as an immature child he lacked the mental necessities to think things throw. He was unable to recognize the possibility of consequences other than the collapse of the country. Another possibility was that Iran would lose patience with the efforts of European nations to circumvent the American sanctions and instead would take matters into their own hands. To no surprise to anyone who stopped to think about it, that is exactly what Iran did. It initiated a series of escalating attacks that culminated so far in the bombing of Saudi Arabian oil facilities. Each action provided the Iranians with the opportunity to gauge the mettle of The Donald. What would Bonespur Boy do in the real world when confronted with a direct assault on his manhood?
The Iranians were quick to expose the truth of The Donald. What did they learn from seizing ships, shooting down drones, and bombing oil fields? They learned that he is a warrior on Twitter and in professional political wrestling arenas but not on he field of battle. As Ali Bigdeli political analyst in Tehran put it: “He is not a lion, he is a rabbit.”
It may even be said that the Iranian officials boasted after the attacks about the leverage they had gained. Iran could give Little Donnee-Wanee the finger and pay no price in the global arena.
The world was watching. “If we were to believe everything Trump has said for the past three years, there would have been war with China, North Korea and Mexico,” said Joseph Fahim, an Egyptian film critic back in June. “The guy’s a joke, he’s not serious. We don’t know if these threats are something to believe in, or just another of his many stunts.” Abdulkhleq Abdulla, political scientist United Arab Emirates said: “Trump, in his response to Iran, is even worse than Obama.”
The unfavorable comparison of The Donald to Obama for his lack of manhood is low blow indeed. Now everybody can see The Donald as a weeny. No matter how he is provoked he will not respond beyond sanctions and tweets. That is his limit. Iran knows it. North Korea knows it. China knows it. Russia knows it…not that it was ever worried about what its asset would do. Our allies know it too. Of course, thanks to transactional relationships on trade, The Donald has done such a superb job of alienating allies that he has created a world of America Alone. What ally would rely on the United States to come to its aid if under attack as long as Donald Trump is president?
The new question is how much longer will be President? Here we once again can see how quickly the scandal of the day moves on. Remember Greenland. Remember Alabama. Remember Corey Lewandowski. Remember Kellyanne Conway:
“Blah, blah blah. If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work. Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”
Answer: it starts when there is a Democratic president and the rule of law returns to the White House.
The Ukraine is a whole new ball game. Ironically it was the Mueller report and the Mueller testimony in Congress that gave The Donald the green light to go forward in the Ukraine with its new administration. Now he would prove that Seth Rich really was behind the hacking, I mean that the Ukraine was. Now he would prove that the witch hunt really had been a hoax. Now he would prove that the wrong people had been targeted and that the real villains had gotten off scot free. Now he would prove that conspiracy theories exposed by Fox were true. Now he would have his revenge.
So far … and the story is still unfolding… things have not worked out as he had hoped. There turned out to be a whistleblower who deserves a medal unless Putin, Saudi OJ, or the 2nd Amendment boys get him first. There turned out to be an acting intelligence chief who has integrity. The now-resigned- Ukraine envoy probably has integrity too. There turns out to be more hidden phone call transcripts that will expose The Donald. More and more will be revealed as time goes by. The impeachment might even include obstruction charges!
The real world is not like Hollywood. For a child to pass for an adult is not easy. It is not like 13 year-old Tom Hanks becoming big. It is not like Jennifer Garner going from 13 to 30. It is not like teenage Lindsay Lohan becoming Jamie Lee Curtis. As the pressure mounts, the challenge to cope with the adult world will increase. Instead of being a comedy, we are watching a person go off the rails. As David Axelrod suggests, let Trump be Trump. Who knows what he will tweet next that only amplifies his political and legal jeopardy.
At this point, the issue of impeachment seems more of “when” and not “if.” What remains open is what will happen in the Republican Senate now that The Donald has been exposed as a combined Mafioso little-bunny-wunny Rabbit.
The story continues.
Will Mike Pence Become a Profile in Courage?
Will Sean Hannity Become a Profile in Courage?
To paraphrase Barbra Streisand, historians often exist in an isolated vacuum but need fellow historians to thrive. Consider this situation: you spend years in graduate school and then working on your dissertation. Finally you are done and you get a job at a college. How many colleagues will you have who share the same interest? Yes, there may be other history professors there but not necessarily with the same expertise or interest you have. So what do you do?
Once upon a time scholars believed that if you build it, they will come. As it turns back in the before time, first we gathered, then we built it. We are a social species and storytellers so we periodically need to gather with other people. That is human nature.
Last summer (is it really over!), I attended the annual conference of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR). The conference provides an opportunity for scholars of similar interest to gather together and present papers (I will get around to writing about the conference itself). But it also provides an opportunity for people to see each other and break bread together. Finally after months of being trapped alone on a college campus with no adult who has the same interest, you are among your own kind, people who speak your language, who share your concerns.
Actually, this annual get-together at SHEAR is supplemented by a range of opportunities during the school year to be united with your fellow historians. Already emails have started about early American history seminars being held this semester up and down the east coast. There are programs in Boston, Providence, New York, Binghamton, Philadelphia and points south and west just to name a few. I get some of the notices and sometimes they include the possibility of downloading a paper if one cannot attend in person. Such presentations draw from scholars within a reasonable travel distance of the host site and generally include a meal. They exist because we are people who typically do not want to be limited to our silos but want to get together, catch up, share knowledge, and eat.
Earlier this month, I attended the annual conference of the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS). The conference location rotates around the state (never in New York City!). The attendance varies depending on the location and who is in close driving distance to the site so they can avoid lodging charges. Again it provides an opportunity for the municipal historians of the state who typically work with no contact with any other historian to do exactly what the history professors and grad students at the SHEAR conference are doing.
In this case, there are no monthly seminars. The state is divided into 12 regions. Each region is encouraged to have a spring conference to provide a second chance to meet-up. As a one day event, the regional conference draws people who cannot attend the more distant statewide conference with travel and lodging costs that usually are not reimbursed by the municipality. They would be if the mayor, police chief, or town clerk attended a state conference but not so much for historians. With 12 regions, as you might expect, the success of the spring conference varies, but still there is a recognition and attempt to bring people together.
One of the reasons why I advocate for county history conferences including both municipal historians and history organizations is to bring such meetings as close as possible. People who live only miles apart and do the same type of work may have no contact with each other, a major problem of the job along with the lack of reimbursement for state conferences. Do mayors never talk to other mayors? Police chiefs to other police chiefs.
One organization that has fully embraced the concept of meetups is the Museum Association of New York (MANY). Like SHEAR, APHNYS, and the New England Museum Association (NEMA), it has an annual conference that geographically rotates around the region served. In addition it has a very robust series of regional meetings throughout the state. Part of the reason it can do this is it has fulltime staff. Executive Director Erika Sanger then has the good fortune of being able to travel around the state to the ten regions (versus the APHNYS 12).
These meetings provide an opportunity to meet and perhaps get a behind the scenes tour of the host site. But they also accomplish another goal. MANY has a lobbyist. It has someone who advocates with the State Legislature on certain bills that are relevant to museums. It also is able to learn about legislation originating outside the history community that may affect the history community. Either way, by having these statewide meetings, Erika is able to bring the members of the organization up-to-date on what is going on at the state capital. MANY also had had conference calls on the legislative status. But MANY is not yet at a point where it can arrange its own advocacy day at the state capital the way so many other interest groups do.
In addition, in five of the 10 scheduled meet-ups for the fall, there is day program prior to the afternoon/evening program. That day program does have a registration fee.
There are other organizations which also promote such get together. For example, tomorrow or for you today when you are receive this blog, the Greater Hudson Heritage Network(GHHN) will be holding its annual meeting at Bear Mountain. Even in a region like Hudson Valley, it is sufficiently large to warrant rotating the location to draw people. GHHN too offers programs during the year. Some are technical in nature and require a fee; others are late afternoon/early evening get togethers and include a behind-the-scene tour of the host site.
This survey is not complete. It is meant to highlight the importance of people getting together with colleagues, with people who share similar interests and problems. My favorite session at the APHNYS session is the new historian session. You are the new historian. Now what? I love hearing the stories of people new to the position tell of the challenges to figure out just what exactly they are supposed to do (another area of weakness in the municipal historian position in New York State).
This year the sessions was doubly gratifying. I was able to prevail on the mayor of the village and town supervisor of the village and town where I live to appoint a municipal historian. It happens to be the same person but that’s fine since you really cannot tell the story of the former founded in 1868 without telling the story of the latter founded in 1660 and vice-versa. The new historian was also able to attend the conference (possibly even to be reimbursed!). And I know he greatly appreciated the chance to meet his fellow new historians and to learn about what other historians are doing.
If you can attend an annual meeting do so.
If you can attend a regional meeting in your state do so.
If you can attend a county meeting do so.
If you do not have a county meeting, create one.
You should never feel that you are in this alone and you should never be in the position alone.
1. When organizing a meeting keep in mind the National Park Service and state historic sites. Frequently these people are left outside the invited list. True they often are not allowed to attend such conferences unless on their own time, but the information at least should be sent to them to give them the chance.
2. I have omitted specialized conferences on specific topics. For example, following the GHHN conference at Bear Mountain there will be a James Fenimore Cooper conference including a field trip to Cooperstown. Maybe there are too many conferences! That is why I cannot keep up with reporting on them in these blogs.
September 17 is the anniversary of the passage of the document that constitutes the very form of government under which We the People live today. Subsequent to its passage by the Constitutional Convention it was ratified by the states and it has been amended multiple times since. It is easy to overlook the fact that though we are a new political entity we are an ancient nation when it comes to being governed continuously by a constitution. England still does not have one as it is painfully dealing with now and other European countries have had multiple constitutions.
Despite all this, Constitution Day is not a national holiday. There have been some efforts to pay homage to it on this day but such attempts are few and fleeting. Obviously, it is a difficult time during the school year to teach the Constitution. The school year has just begun and it will be months before the class gets up to the 1787. As a result, the day generally passes unnoticed.
By chance, on September 17, I attended a board meeting of the social studies conference covering Westchester County where I live, Putnam County to the north, and Rockland County on the other side of the Hudson River. In the planning for the December conference, there were two civic presentations I want the Board to consider.
1. Mapping Early American Elections, 1788-1825 with the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and a professor I know at a Lehman College in New York. I saw a presentation at the annual conference this summer of the Society for the History of the Early American Republic (SHEAR).
2. Voter Education, a fifth grade program offered by the Rockefeller Archive Center for the Tarrytown school district. I learned about the program at a planning session for the American Revolution 250th.
New York State also is getting into the civics promotion business with legislation passed by the Assembly and the Senate to create a Civic education fund. The fund is be jointly managed by the Commissioner of Education and the State Comptroller. Private contributions to the fund are welcomed. According to the bill not (yet) signed by Governor Cuomo:
Monies from the fund shall be expended only for community-based organizations, non-profits and other non-traditional organizations to implement civics education projects including, but not limited to, universities, museums, libraries, and cultural institutions. Such funds may also be expended for civic education projects including, but not limited to, mock trials, debate forums, voter registration activities, and projects that demonstrate an understanding of the connections between federal, state and local politics including issues that may impact the students’ community.
At this point, it is too early to tell how much funding there will be, how one obtains such funding, and whether it will really work or not. In any event, it demonstrates a commitment to civics.
BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE. Then that very same day there was Corey Lewandowski. It was altogether fitting and appropriate that on the anniversary of the passage of the Constitution, that Lewandowski would trash it. All the civic lessons taught in the schools pale in significance to the Constitutional lesson taught by Lewandowski live on national TV. Is there really anything a teacher can do to counter that display of how the Constitution fails to work in the real world?
Think back a few months ago, when checks and balances were all the rage. Remember how the 2018 elections were going to change Washington. Now the Democrats in the majority of the House of Representatives would be able to exercise oversight responsibility. The Democrats would be able to call people to testify. The Democrats would be able to subpoena people to testify when they refused to do. The Democrats would be able to turn to the Courts to enforce the subpoenas.
How has that worked out so far?
After nine months it is safe to say that the Democrats in the House of Representatives have no oversight function. There is no compliance. Even when someone does show up it quickly becomes a joke. For all practical purposes, regardless of the system of checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution, the House of Representatives is a nothingburger. It is easy to see why Nancy Pelosi would be upset with Jerry Nadler. At this rate of investigation hell will freeze over before anything is accomplished. Certainly we will be well into the campaign cycle at which point such inquiries will be rendered moot.
As Corey Lewandowski stated with great enthusiasm and determination, he has no obligation to speak the truth to the American People. He has no obligation to speak the truth to the press. He has no obligation to speak the truth to Congress or under subpoena if the President says not to do so. He considers these affirmations to be a winning ticket for election to the Senate. He recognizes that his word will be worthless in the Senate should he be elected to it. He recognizes that no one n the Senate has to tell him the truth either. This makes life a lot easier for him. Lewandowski will have no campaign promises because who would believe him? Therefore he will break no campaign promises because he has none to keep. And he will never break his word to another Senator because no Senator would be stupid enough to trust him in the first place.
BUT WAIT. THERE IS MORE. Statutory law has no meaning either for the would-be President for Life. Tax returns are to be submitted only if the President wants to comply. Regardless of what the legislation says, the President has the option to determine if the request is for a valid reason and then, and only then, to turn over his taxes. And that applies even if there is a Democratic President.
BUT WAIT. THERE IS MORE. Same with state law. Just as the President is above the federal law, so too he is above the state law. It is right there in Article II. It was hidden so no one noticed for lo these 222 years. In fact, the President cannot even be investigated for a crime while in office yet alone indicted for one. And that applies even if there is a Democratic President.
BUT WAIT. THERE IS MORE. Same for funding. The President is obligated to spend monies in accordance with rules laid down by Congress. If Congress allocates funding for Program X, the President cannot spend them for Program Y…unless he wants to. Forget about Article I and the power of the purse being relegated to Congress. It’s up to the President to decide how money should be spent. And that applies even if there is a Democratic President.
BUT WAIT. NOW THERE IS REALLY MORE!!!!! Same with whistleblowing. It does not matter what the procedures are. It does not matter how clear cut they may be. Just as with the legislation involving tax returns or the subpoenas issued by the House, there is an unwritten rule that trumps everything. No law, no rule, no statue has to be obeyed unless the President chooses to follow it. And that applies even if there is a Democratic President.
I had always intended to write a blog on September 17 about the Constitution…but not this blog. As previously written, one of the reasons nothing sticks is because before you can digest the current scandal it is on to the next one. Remember Greenland? That was years ago. How about Alabama? Wasn’t that months ago? Remember Corey! It is easy to understand why Republicans forced to pose as Trumpicans are throwing in the towel and abandoning ship. Do they really want to defend a President using the power of the Presidency to seek dirt from a foreign country to create his own Steele Dossier? Do they really want to see a President pull the plug on defending Eastern Europe from Russia in the hopes of one day being able to build the Moscow Trump Tower…or is there some other reason he is doing what is doing?
Right now as I am writing this post there still is much that is unknown. In any event, if you are interested in teaching the Constitution, then current events provides all the necessary ingredients. What is the meaning of Article I? What is the meaning of Article II? What is impeachment? Is the President above the law? Is the systems of checks and balances still relevant? Is it true that if he murdered someone on Fifth Avenue that not only wouldn’t he not lose support, but that Rudy Giuliani would defend him? FAKE NEWS!!! That should be enough for at least one 45-minute civics class!
Historians and journalists are not the same. By the time journalists wakes up in the morning, they already may be behind the curve. The daily maelstrom generated by an immature, impulsive, ignorant, erratic President of the United States incapable of telling the truth or obeying the law may leave one gasping for breath, struggling to keep up with the onslaught of fake news pouring forth out of the White House. Who knows what the Class 5/Richter scale 10/asteroid/comet-hurtling-towards-earth President will do? Sometimes it is only Fox & Friends who know what is coming since they are the ones who set the table daily. For a reporter, it may be especially hard to develop the longer term perspective required of an historian given the challenge to merely stay afloat in a fast-moving current.
For historians the situation is quite different. Time is required to gained perspective. Time also is required simply to know how things worked out. Take for instance the transformation of the Republican Party into the Trumpican Party. To some extent, this could have been predicted. For many years the Republicans have ceased to be the party of Lincoln. However, exactly what it would become instead was less clear. It was only after the 2016 elections did the new party begin to become take shape. Gradually all candidates at all levels are expected to pledge loyalty to their lord and savior, the chosen one, blessed be his name. Closet Trumpicans may cling to their Republican identity for a time being but eventually they will have no choice but to abandon ship just for their own mental health.
What will happen to Republicans who refuse to become Trumpicans?
Will the Democrats remain a single party?
What will are immature child do while he remains in power?
One can speculate all one wants, but no one knows. Witnessing the birth of the Second Party System in the 1820s or the Republican Party in the 1850s is not the same as being able to write about it historically. You do not know what will happen.
There will come a time when people, historians, seek to bring order to chaos. Historians will attempt to make sense of how we got to where we are today and what happened since. In the meantime, it is difficult to keep up. Today (September 16), Stephen Collinson on CNN writes “It’s nearly impossible to track all the scandals swirling around Trump.” Later that very same day Rachel Maddow on MSNBC laments the difficulty of trying to keep up with the ever increasing scandals. No rest for the weary.
To make life easier for current newscaster and future historians, I propose a Trump taxonomy be created to catalog the events in an organized manner. If this is not done now, it will become the task of doctoral students and historians in the future to sift through the debris to make sense of our world. The more the data can be organized now, the more people will be able to focus on interpreting it and les on having to accumulate it.
What follows then is a proposed taxonomy for categorizing the events of the present. Obviously this is subject to change and other people may wish to propose a different system. The key is develop a standard classification system that is readily accessible.
1. Trumps – Sir little donnee waney is incapable of telling the truth except by accident. So far he has trumped over 12,000 times. In this instance, the number of occurrences is being tracked. Unfortunately news organizations do not display a bar chart with the ever increasing numbers or announce each day how many additional trumps were told the previous day.
2. Hissy fits – Here is where the seventh-grade-smart-aleck-dumb-aleck is in his natural habitat. It is easy to see how much he enjoys demeaning people. He demeans people as individuals, by ethnicity, by race, by religion, by appearance and he has great fun doing so. He especially enjoys responding to criticisms about him by others by insulting them personally. He would not rape someone because she is not his type but did not volunteer who his type was.
3. Bozos – This category refers to the statements by the very stupid moron that display his true ignorance. Who knew that Canada burned the White House after the patriots captured the airports? Who knew that 306 Electoral College votes was a landslide? It is important to distinguish between bozos and trumps. If he says that two plus two equals five, then you need to make a determination. Does he know that the correct answer is four and deliberately misstates the answer? That is a trump. Or is he genuinely ignorant of the correct answer? In that case, it’s a bozo. For example Paul Krugman writes tirelessly and frequently about the economic ignorance of the Wharton graduate. When did he display his ignorance? How many times did he do so? Have those times been catalogued? The historians writing about this administration are going to need that information. Who is maintaining the list?
4. Alabamas – This is a new term for a long-time action of his. When the immature child is caught in a mistake, whether an honest one or a bozo or a trump, what is his reaction? He always doubles down. He never admits he made a mistake. He will demand other people who work for him to trump at the cost of their integrity and possibly their job if that what it takes to cover up his mistake. He will never man up, he will always carry on like the immature child he is. In the classifying of actions as Alabamas, one always needs to link them to the underlying bozo or trump that made the Alabama necessary. The database needs to have cross-referencing capabilities.
5. Ka-chings – Part of the reason for his running for President was to make money. As President, he has worked ceaselessly to bring home the bacon.If China offered to build Trump Resorts in the South China Sea, he would cave in a moment. It’s all about the Benjamins. We need a running tally of the ka-chings both as to the number and the dollar value.
6. Swamp Builder – There once was a time when some news outlets tracked the number of resigned appointees in this administration. Clearly far from hiring the best people available, he aims for people like himself – people who know how to game the system, people who sexually assault or harass women, people who are ignorant. As long as they are loyal to him what does he care? And if he does hire a competent and honest person, how long do such adults last in the White House anyway? How many appointees have there been and how many turned out be ignorant criminal scam artists…including those who still are in power?
7. Flip Flops – If you do not like what he says, wait a while and he may say the opposite; if you do like what he says, do not count your chickens before they are hatched. He will release his tax returns. He will release his tax returns after the IRS completes its audit. He will release his tax returns after hell freezes over. He will meet with Iran without pre-conditions. He never said he would. He will support gun control. No, he will not. You will have to pry his assault weapons from his small cold dead hands. Again there is a need for cross-referencing. The original pronouncement before he flips probably was a trump.
8. Hide and Seek – The most transparent government in the history of the United States (classified as a trump) will reveal nothing. No law, no regulation, no subpoena, no court ruling will ever cause him to reveal anything. Based on the concept of six-degrees-of-separation, this means that everyone in the United States is prohibited from testifying against him because they have some connection to him. How many outstanding unanswered requests for information are there? Historians will want to know.
9. Unfilled Promises – After the election he will sue each and every woman who accused him of sexual harassment. He will balance the budget. He will pay off the debt. He will bring back coal. He will present a beautiful beautiful health care plan. AND MEXICO WILL PAY FOR THE WALL!
The application of this classification system will change the way news is reported. Now each broadcast will begin something like:
On day 969 of this presidency, there were 7 trumps, 3 hissy fits, 2 bozos, 1 Alabama, a ka-ching with the value of $x, 2 swamp builder indictments/investigations, 4 flip flops, 8 hide and seeks, and 9 unfilled promises. If you played the lottery number 732112489 then you are a winner. Tune in tomorrow for another exciting day of As the Trump Turns. It may be your lucky day.
P.S. The unpresidential library will be organized with separate rooms for each category.