Professor Goff’s statement echoes what I took away from the brief bits of the nine minute video of Officer Chauvin killing George Floyd that I could make myself watch. Officer Chauvin was acting the part of a terrorist, instructing his audience on the subject of what happens when law enforcement decides to kill a black person. I can kill him and I can kill you. That is what Officer Chauvin is saying.
Monday’s show led off with a visitation on the 100th anniversary of the massacre in Tulsa. If you haven’t heard the story, it is worth giving this six minute video a chance to tell you about it:
It is also worth remembering in the time and place that we find ourselves in today, that the police in America were founded from the slave patrols that were instituted during the years when slavery was a part of life in the United States:
…this system of essentially tracking black people’s movements to control them needed a similar kind of armed and/or empowered law enforcement constituency. So on one hand, you do have the growth of a formal bureaucratic nuts-and-bolts police system that emerges by the late 1860s, 1870s. You know, prisons are being remodeled or expanded and built. Prison farms are beginning to open. I say all that to say because the South had a very anemic infrastructure when it came to criminal justice by a very stark contrast to northern states. And one of the things that it doesn’t really have is it doesn’t have a formal professional police force like – certainly like big cities from Boston to New York, Philadelphia, the old colonial cities, now essentially industrial, thriving, modern places by the 1870s and 1880s. And so what does the South do? Well, Southern leaders empower vigilante groups to do a lot of the day-to-day surveillance and policing of black people, and out of that, particularly in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan is born in Pulaski, Tenn.
In the South the police force is directly descended from the KKK and slave patrols. In the North the history is different, but just slightly different. The police in those areas still establish a racial hierarchy with black and brown people at the bottom of the social ladder, they just didn’t do it because of slavery. This is the racial basis for American policing. The history that all Americans have to accept and deal with.
I liked Six Flags Over Texas back when I was a teenager and into amusement parks. I could appreciate the history of the six flags that flew over Texas that was the reference for the name, but I always knew that one of those six flags was a flag of rebels and white nationalists. The amusement park that started in Texas is too embarrassed to fly the rebel flag in places where they own parks and the rebel flag never actually flew, so they have repurposed the six flags to be some other six flags and who really cares now anyway? I’m sympathetic to their corporate problem and really don’t see why they should have to fly flags in the first place other than that they put it in their name. Apparently some people didn’t learn their history and now want to pretend it wasn’t real history. They want to force Six Flags to fly the rebel flag even though the name and the flag were specific to Texas. These are facts folks.
There are plaques up in the Texas capitol that claim that the Confederacy wasn’t based on preserving slavery, which is false. Those plaques as well as most of the statues and monuments across the South date back to various times when white nationalism was in power and acted to whitewash history, giving themselves honor that they never deserved in the first place. They used their authority to compel the schools to muddy history in the textbooks, teaching kids falsehoods that could be disproved by doing basic research on the subject of the history of the succession movement and of the racist history of the American continent under European dominance and then United States dominance.
What has become clear to me over the years since I first started paying attention to this subject is that a lot of people have been fed lies for a lot of their lives; and they are happy to go on believing the comforting lies that they were told as children. It’s time to grow up now. It’s time to embrace the truth as it transpired through history, and to make our way forward with a firm grasp on the truth. Like the confederate monuments that dot our landscape, each town square that ever held a lynching party should be required to host a token from this memorial:
…and Derek Chauvin should be forced to wear one around his neck for the rest of his life. He is the personification of the racist history of the American police system. It is long past time to rewrite that system. At least the jury did find him guilty. That is a step in the right direction.
I cannot help but think of the famous image of Deputy Sheriff Cecil Ray Price and Sheriff Laurence A. Rainey laughing at a hearing after their arraignment following the murder of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1964.
Price and Rainey thought it was funny when they were arraigned along with 16 of their friends—not for murder, because Mississippi refused to bring charges, but for conspiracy and violating the civil rights of the murdered men, both federal offenses. And why shouldn’t they think it was all a joke? The jury was all white and, after all, they were law enforcement officers.
I never thought much of that line from Star Trek: the Wrath of Khan. I mean, I’ve heard the old wounds phrase a thousand times if I’ve heard it once, from many places aside from Star Trek. Maybe I should have given the meaning more weight, or acknowledged the hazard more knowledgably. Maybe I should have tread the old memory grounds more cautiously?
I broke something in myself last week. I didn’t know I was breaking it until it was broken, and I don’t know how to put it all back together again the way it was before. I don’t even know that I want to put it back the way it was. It was painful even the way it was, and digging out the painful bits has revealed something about myself that I really never thought about before. I don’t think it is a good thing and I probably should change it.
What I do know is that I’ve listened to a lot of music that takes me back to 1983 in the last week, and I may have finally stumbled across a story that will compel me to finish it or it will kill me. I hurt like I haven’t hurt since those years, except maybe in the days following my mother’s death. Too much trauma in the last four years. I don’t know how much more I can take.
There has to be an invisible sun It gives its heat to everyone There has to be an invisible sun That gives us hope when the whole day’s done
I love that this documentary exists. I need to say that first. I love the fact that one of my favorite actors had such a prominent role in diversifying NASA. Nichelle Nichols was the daughter’s idol as a child. She has a version of every Uhura doll that has been released since they first started making Star Trek toys back in 1974. The vendor who sold her that doll cried when she ripped it out of the package and started playing with it right there in front of him back in 1996. She is a fan and the daughter of true fans of Star Trek, the only series.
Got that? Good. I love the fact that this documentary exists, but I won’t be subscribing to Paramount+ just to see it. This documentary should be available streaming everywhere. Why won’t I subscribe to Paramount+ just to see it?
I won’t subscribe because we are forgetting the very lesson that Nichelle Nichols is promoting in the documentary.
Where are my people?
They aren’t visible because they were denied information. They were not just denied access, but they were denied even the information that would allow them to do jobs at NASA. This was done as part of the pursuit of insuring that the majority of the benefits created by technology landed in white men’s hands. They weren’t told that this was something they could do, and so consequently there were few who even asked if they might do it.
You would never have seen this movie made by a Hollywood studio at any point prior to 2016. Barack Obama’s election made Hidden Figures possible, because the popularity of Obama made movie investors sit up and take notice, be willing to hazard real money on a movie about the black women who were the pioneers of diversity in American government.
These women had to overcome obstacles that the average person has no way to understand. Not only the fact that they were women and they were black in the United States of the 60’s, but that the information that they needed to be who they were was reserved for people who could pay to access that information.
Information is for everybody who wants it, everyone who needs it, not just the people who can afford it. Information is not just for the people who subscribe to the correct entertainment channels and pay the right amounts to the right people. Information is for everybody, and we are allowing profit motives to re-segregate us into smaller and smaller groups. We are allowing copyright to Trump the best interests of our nation and our world.
This has to stop. We have to stop allowing copyright holders to refuse access to their products unless you are willing to pay them for it. This is the basis for the creation of libraries, the understanding that information should be available to everyone. The library should be a thing that you can access by computer or cellphone. You shouldn’t have to get in a car and go find a building somewhere in your city in order to borrow something from your library.
I look forward to seeing Woman in Motion and Hidden Figures played to children in schools, to adults who don’t think women and blacks should be allowed to do the same things as white men. They are the people who need this experience, and it should be made available to them, not just to the people willing to pay Paramount or Disney or any other copyright holder directly for their jealously hoarded intellectual property.
I never am really satisfied that I understand anything; because, understand it well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand about the many connections and relations which occur to me, how the matter in question was first thought of or arrived at.
A hat/tip is owed to The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe #818; however, I could find no source for the quote. I haven’t decided if it is worth the effort to go through all her papers in order to find it or not find it.
Ada Lovelace helped write programs for a computer before there was a computer to run them on. She translated articles on Babbage’s analytical engine from other languages. She experimented with electricity and tried to write a calculus for the brain to explain why we think and feel the way we do.
Not only was she born before her time, but I would say that her time has not yet arrived. Imagine what she could have achieved had she been born tomorrow?
[The Analytical Engine] might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine.
What is more important to be about change as a society; changed individuals or a changed social structure? The answer to that is very simple because, if you don’t start out with individuals who are determined to change a thing, you will never get a political consensus.
there were many factors that went into creating the energy disaster with which Texans are now dealing. But at least in one respect, the problems in Texas are a product of an approach to the energy business that Lone Star State companies like Enron pursued at the end of the 20th century.
Ken Lay was George Bush’s best friend, back when George Bush was governor of Texas. That was what Ken Lay would tell you, if he was still alive today. The story is more slanted now that Ken Lay has been convicted of felony crimes and his flagship business, Enron, went bankrupt and took $40 billion dollars and the fortunes of thousands with it. Also, Ken Lay is conveniently dead of natural causes, so it is easy to blame him for all of the greed that was behind the drive to deregulate the energy sector in the United States.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (book) (movie)
It is because of Ken Lay’s friendship with Governor and then President Bush that the Texas and California electrical grids ended up being the mess that they are today. It’s just taken longer for Texas’ grid to fall apart than it did California’s, which has been on the ropes since Enron arranged for it to start suffering rolling blackouts back at the turn of the century.
I watched/read The Smartest Guys in the Room when the movie/book came out back in 2005. The story itself was just another nail in the coffin of my belief in market solutions, the death of my libertarian delusions. Every time that the fraudsters finally convince someone in authority to deregulate, it doesn’t take long to prove that government regulation had been there for a very good reason after all. Enron bought energy companies and then created energy markets for their power to be sold on. That was what those regulations stood in the way of, huge profits on Wall Street.
One of the last acts of desperation in the failing business that Enron became after its meteoric rise on the stock market was to turn off power generation in California’s electrical market in order to drive up the price of electricity and put money in the pockets of Enron executives and traders. Enron created rolling blackouts on purpose in order to profit from the suffering of California citizens. One of the last acts of desperation of the Texas Public Utility Commision during the recent winter storm was to set the price of electricity high enough on the Texas market to inspire power generators to turn on their excess capacity and flood the Texas power grid in their time of need. It’s just too bad that there wasn’t any capacity to be had because the power generators hadn’t bothered to insure against freezing by weatherizing their supply systems. Just too bad that electric energy generators and their investors were more interested in profiting off of the suffering of Texas citizens than they were in spending money weatherizing against winter storms that they hoped would never show up, but still manage to show up about every ten years anyway.
Millions lost power. Hundreds died. How did this happen? KUT’s Mose Buchele explores what happened during the worst blackout in Texas history, how we got the electric grid we have today and what could be done to fix it.
Shares of Macquarie rose 3.4% in Sydney on Monday after the company raised its profit outlook. They are now down 2.8% over the past 12 months.
One customer told the Dallas Morning News that his electric bill for five days stood at $5,000, the amount he would normally pay for several years of power. Another told the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate that he had been charged more than $16,000 for February.
It is also too bad that Texas’ hostility to federal regulation caused it to seek an isolated grid through ERCOT, which meant that most of Texas went without power when it’s isolated grid went down and no one could send it power to keep it afloat. Unless you were lucky and lived around El Paso, which (along with Amarillo and the panhandle) are not under ERCOT and consequently only saw minor interruptions in service.
This is what happens when you make the essentials for survival into profit-driven commodities; commodities that no one can understand how to profit from unless they are scarce enough to drive demand over available supply. When there is more demand than there is supply of the essentials some people won’t survive. The death toll across Texas due to the winter storm and resulting power outages is still unknown but is likely to be well over 100 people, and a bank in Australia made 200 million off of those deaths.
Texas is misnamed. Texas (tejas) supposedly means friend or ally. Nothing could be further from the truth than seeing Texas as your friend or ally. That is the ploy of the confidence man, the demand to trust him even though he seems to be oilier than all get out. The Texas mascot should be the irresponsible teen who wants to shirk all the day long because he can. It should be the grasshopper that whiles the summer away instead of storing food for the winter. Like the grasshopper and the irresponsible teen, Texas is always unprepared for adversity because of these infantile behavior patterns. Texas is a great place to be young and healthy, because there are no worries about tomorrow here, and no requirement to save anything for that day of need. Texas is a horrible place to be old or sick in because there is no place to go when you reach your hour of need. No allowance for the slackers that we pretend to be fond of, but throw out in the cold the minute that things get tough.
The true beneficiary of Texas largesse is the corporate raider, the false priest, the con artist. Texas is made for thieves. Personal and corporate greed are rewarded here, rewarded more highly than any human virtue. Just look at Ken Lay. He understood what Texas was for. He rode that pony hard and put it up wet counting on not being there when the tax man came for his cut. He died a millionaire, of the diseases of old age he could have avoided if he had straightened up and flown right. Why bother? No one gets out of this life alive.
The Enron legacy is ERCOT and every other Texas boondoggle ever hatched. Every scheme that amounted to nothing more than stealing from public coffers and crafting a golden parachute for yourself. If we had those billions that Enron stole from us, that the deregulation scheme stole from us, we wouldn’t need to go without water or power, the average Austinite wouldn’t have to be out there hand-delivering necessities to people on the verge of death during a pandemic. This lunacy has to stop. The question is, will we pay attention long enough to make it stop?
They don’t go into the facts of Texas’ continued reliance on power systems that were set up for Enron to make profits from. The fact that power systems in all areas where Enron was active are still suffering from the after effects of Enron’s malfeasance.
Governor Greg Abbott made off like a bandit after the legislative session that did not fix the Texas power grid, but not nearly as much of a bandit as one of the owners of Texas’ power generation facilities:
Winter Storm Uri cost us an estimated $293 billion in damages and some estimates put the actual death toll closer to 700. Nearly 5 million Texans lost power; many more went days without water. Remember?
One Texan who hasn’t forgotten is Dallas resident Kelcy Warren, although not because he worried that he and his family were in any danger. Warren, co-founder and now executive chairman of Energy Transfer Partners, lives in a 27,000-square-foot ivy-covered stone castle on nine acres in North Dallas. He bought his humble abode in 2009 for a reported $29 million. We can imagine that the heat stayed on in the Warren manse (or perhaps the family repaired to its private island off the coast of Honduras.)
What the pipeline tycoon remembers, we suspect, is not the nearly $300 billion that the storm cost Texas. It’s the figure $2.4 billion. As Justin Miller reports in the current issue of the Texas Observer, that’s the profit Warren’s company collected during the blackouts, a sizable portion of the $11 billion profit the natural gas industry as a whole collected by, in Miller’s words, “selling fuel at unprecedented prices to desperate power generators and utilities during the state’s energy crisis.”
Warren, a hefty donor over the years to former Gov. Rick Perry, former President Donald Trump and other Republicans, made sure that Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t forget either.
On June 23, Warren wrote out a check to Abbott’s reelection campaign in the amount of $1 million. That’s the biggest check Warren has ever given a Texas politician, according to campaign finance reports. And it’s four times the usual $250,000 gift that Abbott has gotten from his reliable Dallas benefactor nearly every year since he was elected governor in 2014.
This is the Enron legacy, in spades. This is what the for-profit power generation scheme that Ken Lay wanted put in place is there for. It is there to make billions of dollars for people who control access to the power of the state. We are fools to continue to allow this fraud to continue at our expense, at the possible cost of our own lives. If you vote for Republicans in Texas, you are the biggest fool of all.
It’s 1804. Aaron Burr kills Alexander Hamilton but he’s still the vice president, runs out of town. Back, 1805, he’s in the chamber. He’s still dispensing advice in the Senate. And Burr says, you’re a great deliberative body but a really great chamber has a very clean rulebook and yours is a mess. And he singles out that previous question motion. They get rid of it in 1806, not because they wanted to create filibusters, right, not because they saw the great deliberative body of the Senate and they needed a right way to protect the rights of minorities. That rule was gone because Aaron Burr told them to get rid of it and it hadn’t been used yet.
This was originally published as a quote from this episode of On the Media, near the date when the episode released. Since this is a problem that we are still talking about four years later, I have moved it forward to today and added more of my thoughts on the subject, like I had originally intended to do when I set the quote aside to be published later, and then published even later after my thoughts evaporated.
This is the thing that started the thoughts back up again:
The filibuster is a Senate rule requiring a 60 vote supermajority to pass legislation, which means a minority of Senators can often block legislation that the vast majority of Americans want and need.
It’s not in the Constitution. In fact, it is arguably unconstitutional. Alexander Hamilton considered a supermajority rule as “A Poison” that would lead to “Contemptible Compromises of the public good.”
Even without the filibuster Senate Republicans already have an outsized influence. The 50 of them represent 41.5 million fewer Americans than the 50 Senate Democrats.
The Senate isn’t a democratic body. It is a body created to ensure that states had a voice in the federal government. That is its reason for existing and that is why it is made up the way that it is. But that doesn’t mean that the rules that govern the Senate should be broken in such a way that it can’t get business done because the minority wants to roll around on the floor like a temperamental child that doesn’t get what it wants (Yes, Ted Cruz. I’m imagining you with chocolate smeared on your face and wearing an OshKosh jumper rolling on the Senate floor right now, destroying my fond memories of Green Eggs and Ham. Petulant. Small. Child. Ted Cruz) The Senate simply needs to restore the motion to call the previous question that still exists in the House rules and in the basic parliamentary rules that govern most legislative bodies (Robert’s Rules of Order) Striking that rule in the Senate is what has lead to the impasse of the filibuster.
It is amusing to me that the rule was originally struck because it was thought that Senators were too civilized to need to end debate with a vote since no Senator had ever refused to stop talking when it was clear that he was not convincing anyone. Had the original Senators known the future, known that John C. Calhoun would use the filibuster in defense of slavery to bring the United States to the brink of Civil War, that Mitch McConnell and his Republicans would use it to stop the Senate from being able to get anything done, they would have left the ability to call the previous question in place. If we could talk to them today they would probably marvel at our inability to simply set the filibuster aside as a bad idea that has long outlived its usefulness. They had just voted themselves as no longer subject to the King of England a few decades earlier. Don’t like the rules? Change the rules.
As someone pointed out soon after I had published the piece, I seem to contradict myself on the subject of the filibuster when it comes to Wendy Davis and her filibuster in the Texas Senate. Not really. I’m all for using the rules to get your way. I have done this myself at Libertarian Party meetings. I would do it again if I had to. This is the point in having rules in the first place and learning the rules as part of the process.
The filibuster can be used for both good and bad reasons. I happen to think that Wendy Davis was making the good fight back in 2013. I also happen to think that Ted Cruz is a moron for reading Green Eggs and Ham on the U.S. Senate floor protesting against the Affordable Care Act. Wendy Davis had to stand up for less than a day and defend her filibuster, which resulted in the legislation she opposed being left unpassed and required the Governor to call a special session in order to pass later. Legislation that was later gutted by the courts. Ted Cruz rolled around like a spoiled child knowing that he would never succeed at what he wanted to do because he’d have to stop sometime, and the Senate would simply gavel through the measure anyway. Which they promptly did as soon as he wiped the snot off his face and left the Senate floor.
The broken U.S. Senate rules could be fixed at any time and should probably have been fixed decades ago. The same goes for the Texas Senate, another legislative body that borrowed the rules it utilizes from the broken U.S. Senate. If they leave those loopholes in the rules they will be used, and they will be used by minorities to impede the will of the majority. The majority in Texas is simply wrong on the subject of women’s health. A whole state full of misogynists, but that is a story for another article.
For every Senate race in 2022, the Democratic candidate should be running on ending the filibuster. “If you vote for me I will vote with the Democratic caucus to put an end to the filibuster.” It seems crazy that we would have to vote on ending this BS that Aaron Burr started, but that is life in the modern United States.
I queued up the latest episode of Throughline when it came out on the 14th of January, and I wondered what take they would give on the subject of impeachment now that we were in the second impeachment for Donald Trump:
The episode turned out to be a rebroadcast of a previous episode (High Crimes and Misdemeanors,Feb. 28, 2019) but as I was listening to the episode I was thinking “yeah. I wrote an article about my experience reading this book. What happened to that?”
After looking through my online drafts, I can tell my self from the middle of January what happened to it. I flushed it. I flushed the whole article. I was so disgusted with the results of President Trump’s impeachment in 2019 and trial in the early months of 202o (what feels like a decade ago now) that I didn’t see the point in adding an article about this book to the blog. I mean to say, the book and the first impeachment of a President in United States history had no bearing on the results of this modern President’s flirtation with perhaps being punished for his infractions by being impeached for some of them. The tale had no bearing other than that he was left in office just as Andrew Johnson had been, to the disgust of everyone who cared about the future of the country and the plight of the former slaves who were betrayed by Andrew Johnson.
Because I’m fanatical about saving everything I write somewhere, it turned out that there still was a draft of the article sitting in my backups waiting to be dusted off and revisited. Since President Trump has been so enormously stupid as to attempt to overthrow the United States government and not even understand that he should probably run away after failing so spectacularly to do even that job correctly, he has been impeached for an unprecedented second time, almost exactly thirteen months since he was impeached for the first time. Impeached for sedition. That’ll look good on his resume. What follows is an amended set of thoughts on the subject of the book and the relevance of the first impeachment of a sitting President with the current governmental tragedy that we are witnessing.
Impeaching a President implies that we make mistakes, grave ones, in electing or appointing officials, and that these elected men and women might be not great but small—unable to listen to, never mind to represent, the people they serve with justice, conscience, and equanimity. Impeachment suggests dysfunction, uncertainty, and discord—not the discord of war, which can be memorialized as valorous, purposeful, and idealistic, but the far less dramatic and often squalid, sad, intemperate conflicts of peace, partisanship, race, and rancor. Impeachment implies a failure—a failure of government of the people to function, and of leaders to lead. And presidential impeachment means failure at the very top.
I picked up The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple after hearing her interviewed on several podcasts over a few weeks in August, 2019. I listened to it over the course of a month or so in fifteen minutes stretches as I got ready for bed and then tried to go to sleep. When I dusted off the first abortive attempt to write an article about this book, I decided to listen to it again while editing this article and adding to it. I have now been listening to the book for two days straight and finished it on the morning of the third day. It is much better than I originally thought, and it is packed full of relevant details about the current president and his predicament.
It isn’t the most sleep inducing of books, which is a point in its favor, but I have to keep relistening to chapters in order to try to keep all the players straight. This is a flaw in the narrative that has been constructed for the story of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson to be told in. I have read better histories over the course of the years, but there is nothing particularly bad about this one. It flows well from chapter to chapter, I simply can’t keep all the names straight because I don’t understand their place in the overall story. In case anyone else is having this problem, I’ll attach a list of the obscure characters that the author seems to insufficiently touch on at the end of this article, as well as include a few quotes from them interspersed in the text. I looked them up out of curiosity anyway, I might as well list their names and what I took away from stumbling across them online here in this article. However, the best way to learn about the subject of the book, Andrew Johnson and his direct impeachers, is to just read the book or read one of the numerous other books that have been written about him and them.
Here’s an example of why this book is relevant today:
I cannot believe there is really any danger of armed resistance to impeachment. The force which Johnson could command is so small and the suicidal folly of the course so evident. Still, Johnson is an exception to all rules.
Andrew Johnson and Donald Trump resemble each other in character. Vain, narcissistic and borderline sociopaths, with a certain kind of charisma that they both used to raise crowds to their defense when they were speaking extemporaneously, but when looked at later in the cold light can be seen to be voicing sentiments that are almost completely without merit. They are cut from very similar cloth and neither of them should have ever been allowed near the levers of power, and abused their power when it was given to them.
The story of the first presidential impeachment stems out of the first assassination of a United States president, which followed directly on the heels of the Civil War, a conflict that finally put to rest the question of slavery that had badgered American reality and morality since the founding of the United States following the separation of the American colonies from Great Britain.
I recommend that anyone interested in this subject also read Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin or at least become passingly familiar with the subjects that swirled around in political circles of the day. Because, while the book is entertaining and self-contained from the perspective of explaining most of what you need to know about the subject of the first impeachment of a president, it isn’t going to tell you just how embedded the common notion of white supremacy was, a concept that was later scientificated into eugenics, which in the modern day is inseparable from white supremacy itself, even though it is still an active science in several countries.
Without that understanding, you will not be able to credit just how hard it was to find enough people of power to make the kinds of changes in the South stick that needed to stick without turning the entire project into another form of genocide:
Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
Threading that needle, avoiding the mass slaughter of the plantation owners for the purpose of providing property and means for their now freed slaves, while at the same time allowing the former slaves enough space to be able to exercise their newly-granted legal rights, was the task before the country when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the task that Andrew Johnson was not capable of executing. A fact that he demonstrated many times before the House of Representatives was forced to impeach him for his transgressions of the law.
I especially loved the explanations that Benjamin Butler came up with to explain what it is that falls within the realm of ideas encapsulated by the phrase High Crimes and Misdemeanors:
An impeachable misdemeanor might be an act that subverted the principles of government, such as one that violated the Constitution or that flouted an official oath or duty or law. It could be an act that abused or usurped power.
The Senate was bound by no law, either statute or common, that should limit your constitutional prerogative. The Senate, acting as a court, was a law unto itself. Bound only principles of equity and justice where the laws of the people was supreme.
The Senate is not required to be certain beyond a reasonable doubt in order to hold the president accountable for the crimes he has been charged with, an idea that is also encapsulated in this article from The Atlantic, as well as my own article on the subject. These definitions did not stand in the way of the president’s defenders then and now, insisting that there were no laws broken so the impeachment could not be a valid one but only a political one. Even a political impeachment is valid, if the reasons for the impeachment are dire enough.
If there was a movie made of what happened after Lincoln was assassinated its title should be Betrayal. Betrayal is what Andrew Johnson did to the visions of Abraham Lincoln. A betrayal of the formerly enslaved people in favor of the wealthy white landowners. If these downtrodden people had been given the voice they were promised back in 1865, we wouldn’t have needed to impeach a white supremacist president in 2019, and then impeach him again in 2021.
Mitch McConnell comparing the Republicans who impeached Andrew Johnson to the Democrats who have impeached Donald Trump did get one thing right. Both impeachments were undertaken late, and both impeachments will likely end with injustice done to the Constitution and the ideal of the rule of law. In the case of the impeachment of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell is already on record as being intent on doing injustice.
The modern record should not distract from the historical though. It is the process of following the trends through history that provides the illumination for current events, not the other way around. Andrew Johnson never did get the justice that he so richly deserved, and that is yet another reason why we remain in this quandary today.
Putting aside such causes of the Senate’s action as women, whiskey, cowardice, greenbacks, Free Masonry, Negro-hate, offices for one’s sixteen pine-tree cousins, a diseased Chief Justice, spite, dyspepsia and noodleism – It is evident, on the face of things, that while a very large majority of the people, and specially of the Republican party, wished its success, there was a very strong doubt among the party leaders whether such success would help the party.
Roughly listed in the order that they appear in the book:
Edwin Stanton – Perhaps the most famous of Lincoln’s cabinet. You see a different side of the man in this history than you will see in other histories.
William Seward – Secretary of State under both Lincoln and Johnson. A much more despicable figure than I had understood him to be from other histories I have read. What a strange man he must have been.
Thaddeus Stevens – Leader of the abolitionists in the House. Played memorably by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie Lincoln, he has never been treated more kindly as a character anywhere other than in that movie, and that is a shame on our nation and what our nation means. Stanchly even handed, but willing to manipulate the rules of the House of Representatives to serve the needs of the nation itself, we need at least one legislator equal to him in today’s Congress. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have any of them.
Charles Sumner – Leader of the abolitionists in the Senate. No one seems to like him, and there is little of him in this book. Still, we should understand who he was if we are to understand his place in history. I’ll have to try to find more to read about him.
Lyman Trumbull – Coauthor of the thirteenth amendment. Author of some of the freedman’s legislation. Senator from Illinois.
James Mitchell Ashley – Proposed the resolution to impeach Andrew Johnson. For this and for his stance on educating the populace (including former slaves) he was soundly defeated in 1868 and never held elected office again.
Benjamin Butler – Benjamin Butler would open the House Manager’s prosecution case against Andrew Johnson in the Senate. More should have been written about the history of this man, given how important his role is in the impeachment trial. Butler provides the definitions for the offenses that Andrew Johnson was impeached for, quoted above.
Betsy Peratrovich, granddaughter of the civil rights activist, told Google her thoughts about her legacy. “She and my grandpa Roy were quite a team,” she said. ” He liked to give her all of the credit, as she continually inspired him to strive to improve the lives of Alaska Native peoples.
“But my dad recounts that they both used to sit around the dining table at night where together they typed letters, wrote and practiced speeches, and strategized on how best to secure equal rights for all,” she added.
I thought I’d put out an article on the actual day that is hers. That is today. At least, in Alaska today is her day. Everywhere else in the US we still hold native Americans as second class citizens. Unofficially.
You were in the capitol that day. You know what the mob did. You know who sent that mob to the capitol, looking for your blood and the blood of your fellow legislators as well as the blood of the Vice President who loyally served him for four years. The guilty person I’m referencing is Donald Trump. In 2016 he said he wouldn’t accept a vote outcome that showed that he lost, even though he planned on losing. That is the poor excuse for a human being that Donald Trump has always been. He reiterated this unwillingness to accept defeat before the 2020 election was held, after the election results were known, and still refuses to allow anyone to call him the former president within his earshot.
He lost, yet he refuses to admit the truth of this to anyone, including himself. He is an active threat to all of us individually and to you personally as a locus of power inside the American government, power that can oppose his will and the will of the mob that he controls even to this day. He and they will come for you eventually. Sooner or later there will come a time when he and they draw a line that you won’t cross, and then you will be eliminated in your turn just as every person that refuses to back his play has been betrayed over the decades that he has been in business, let alone in power as the president. This is an unavoidable course once you start down the road to dictatorship, the kind of country that Donald Trump and his supporters want to remake the United States into.
There is only one way for you to avoid this fate, avoid it for all of our sakes. You must convict Donald Trump for the many, many crimes he has committed over the last four years as well as for the ones he committed since last November when he lost his chance to be president again. Convict him and then bar him from ever holding public office again. Only then will we be free from the fear and hatred that Donald Trump wields as a weapon. We may still have to fight the White Nationalists that his behavior and your blindness in supporting him have empowered over the last four years, but at least they will not have Trump to lead them anymore.
If you don’t convict him for his crimes and bar him from ever serving in public office again, you will have loosed the hounds of war as surely as if you released them yourself. The White Nationalists will be empowered, and Trump will lead them to take control of the United States government again, just as they are taking over the state governments under the colors of the Republican party right now, while you blindly continue to pretend that it isn’t happening.
Hell is coming, Senator. On February 5th of last year, when you didn’t convict Donald Trump at his first impeachment trial, you set us up to lose half a million lives to the coronavirus under his leadership. All that blood is on your hands. The death toll will be even higher if you fail to uphold the law this time. Millions will die as the country tears itself apart from within, killed by your willingness put party over country and not remove the threat that resides within your own political party. Killed by the enemies from within the country that back this cancerous growth in your party.
May the blood of your evil deeds ever lie heavily upon you for that vote last February and for the actions that your partisan blinders keep you from taking now. Hell is coming for us all, unless you act to convict this cancer named Donald Trump and bar him from ever holding office again. If you fail us, I pray that hell will find you and yours sooner than it finds me and mine. Hell may spare me and mine if I am clever enough to avoid the scythe that death wields, but it will certainly not spare you.
Convict Donald Trump and bar him from ever holding public office again. That is the right choice, and no one knows these facts better than you do. Back the prosecutions that are mounted against him and his supporters for the crimes that they have committed. Dedicate yourself once again to the country that you took an oath to preserve, and perhaps you will be spared like Scrooge on that fateful night when he saw the error of his ways. No one knows the future. The known acts of President Trump warrant his conviction and his demonstrated willingness to subvert the rule of law requires you to bar him from ever holding office again. These things we do know. They now require you to act.
A letter I sent to our Texas Senators
Here is a video of the first day of the House managers arguments as recorded on C-Span:
On January 6, President Trump left everyone in this Capitol for dead.
Those of the forty-three Senators that openly stated that the question of the rightness of trial was their reason for why they voted to acquit, should be censured and removed from office for their violations of their oaths to the constitution. It can’t be more simply stated than that. If they cannot be bound to their own decisions of less than a week prior, then they have no moral backbone on which they can base future judgements. They should be replaced as soon as possible with people who can stand by their own decisions, and the decisions of their own legislative bodies. Yes. I am looking at you Ted Cruz and at you John Cornyn. You have disgraced your office, your state, and yourselves. You cannot justifiably presume to represent any Texas citizen in good standing, no matter what justifications you offer for your actions.
Those were your people once, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Cornyn. The talking heads on the podcast and their audience of tens of thousands of subscribers. Now they are your opponents.
When the Democrats took over the House again in 2019, I posted this status on Facebook:
I’m wallowing in schadenfreude. Every stormtrumper on the planet is realizing that Speaker Pelosi is two impeachments away from being President Pelosi. The indigestion they must be having right now. Priceless.
The comments that followed were more than slightly contentious. I was wrong on the substance, that I’ll admit. Who would’ve thunk it though, eh? Two impeachments. Two. Two impeachments and the Republican party let him keep the office until the very end anyway. Just out of spite.
Republicans have no soul. They sold their souls for power. I hope it was worth it.