Should Ukraine trade territory for peace?

How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing. –Neville Chamberlain Sept. 27, 1938

Reportedly, Henry Kissinger suggests Ukraine should trade territory for peace. My reaction:

  • Why should we care what Kissinger thinks?
  • Our European allies wouldn’t like that idea, which would set a dangerous precedent.
  • Would Russia be interested in such a deal?
  • How would peace be guaranteed? No deal is good if you don’t know what you get from it.
  • How much territory?
  • What are the alternatives?

Certainly peace is highly desirable and might well come at a high cost, but I don’t see that Kissinger’s suggestion promotes it.

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Abortion, Common Core, CRT, …

Abortion, Common Core, Critical Race Theory, and now ESG–Environmental, Social, Governmental–is the new war cry. Should business consider only profit, or are decisions which take social and environmental consequences into account now acceptable?

When our children are prematurely pregnant, poorly educated, and drought, wildfire, and devastating storms have become the new normal, will we notice? When a tornado strikes as far north as Gaylord, Mi., will the citizens of Gaylord vote for denialists? I wouldn’t bet against it.

Reportedly Florida will screen Social Studies texts as well as Math books for politically objectionable content. Perhaps History texts will be censored next.

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Rep. Tenney responds to mass murder with a fundraising message

Rep. Tenney responds to mass murder with a fundraising message. She writes:

According to the president, the MAGA crowd is the most extreme group in history. More extreme than Nazis. Worse than the KKK, even!

Those groups (MAGA, Nazis, KKK) have much in common with Rep. Tenney. Claudia Tenney pointedly omits what happened in Buffalo from her list of examples of extremism. In her facebook posts, as in her fundraising email, she omits any mention of far-right extremism. She invites you to pitch in $20 to join her fight against far-left extremists in Washington.

Posted in Congress, Gun Violence, Political, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Hard to believe

If something seems wrong, it likely is wrong. A guest columnist, writing in a local paper, complained about historian Heather Cox Richardson. He wrote “her blanket condemnation (of white American evangelicals) is dishonest partisan demagoguery.”

Heather Cox Richardson is a prominent Historian. I have read some of her writing, which I found honest, forthright, and responsible. This made me wonder to the guest columnist had a valid point. So I checked.

Did Richardson really write “white evangelicals have a Holocaust mentality and despise multiculturalism” on April 17th? She did not. The word Holocaust occurs once in Richardson’s April 17th post in another context and “mentality” never. Did Richardson really write “white evangelicals despise multiculturalism?” She did not. “Multiculturalism” occurs once in this context:

Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, an ally of Putin’s, has been open about his determination to replace the multiculturalism at the heart of democracy with Christian culture, stop the immigration that he believes undermines Hungarian culture, and reject “adaptable family models” for “the Christian family model.”

Did Richardson write that “white evangelicals are intolerant? She did not. “Intolerant” occurs nowhere in her April 17th post.

If something seems dubious, one had better check. It likely is wrong.

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Leaked or Hacked

Fifty years ago news of Roe v. Wade was leaked to the press. News, not a draft or the written opinion. A clerk talked to a reporter without realizing that the story would appear hours before the decision was announced. The clerk’s apology was accepted; he wasn’t fired or forced to resign.

Fifty years ago Supreme Court documents were typed. Justice Blackmun kept drafts locked in his desk in his office. He was careful not to share his opinion even with Mrs. Blackmun, whom he knew would be pleased with it. The world is different today; court documents are most likely kept on computers, possibly cell phones, and could be emailed.

Investigation seems focused on finding a culprit. The most likely culprit is the Court’s computer system (for which Chief Justice Roberts is responsible) or the Justices themselves, whose devices may have been hacked. We may never learn what happened, but hacking seems a likely explanation.

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Leaks from the Supreme Court are rare.

Leaks from the Supreme Court are rare. Surprisingly, the 1972 Roe decision was leaked. The following quotes are from Woodward and Armstrong’s 1979 book: The Brethren.

The day of the scheduled abortion decision the Chief sat in his chambers reading the latest edition of “Time” magazine. “Last week TIME learned that the Supreme Court has decided to strike down nearly every anti-abortion law in the land,” an article said. The abortion decision had been leaked.

Burger drafted an “Eyes Only” letter to the other Justices. He wanted each Justice to question his law clerks. The responsible person must be found and fired. Burger intended to call in the F.B.I to administer lie-detector tests if necessary.

Brennan summoned his clerks and read them the Chief’s letter. It was another example, he said, of the Chief usurping the authority each Justice had over his own clerks. “No one will question my law clerks but me,” Brennen said. Then in a softer voice, he added, “And I have no questions.

Marshall asked what his clerks knew about the incident. When he was assured they knew nothing, he told them to forget it.

Douglas treated the letter as he had treated a request from the Chief the previous term that all clerks be instructed to wear coats in the hallways. He ignored it.

Powell was out of town, so one of his clerks opened the Chief’s letter. The clerk had talked to the “Time” reporter, David Beckwith, trying to give him some guidance so he could write and intelligent story when the decision came down. But the delay in announcing the decision had apparently left “Time” with a scoop, if only for half a day.

The clerk called Powell and told him about the Chief’s letter and his own terrible mistake in talking to Beckwith. He volunteered to resign.

That would not be necessary, Powell said. But a personal explanation would have to be given to the Chief.

Chief Justice Roberts said the current leak will be investigated. I wonder how the Justices will react and what, if any, will result. The 1972 leak wasn’t motivated by dissatisfaction with the Court’s opinion, but the motivation for the 2022 leak may have been.

Posted in Supreme Court | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Rest of the Story 

The Rest of the Story was a radio program hosted by Paul Harvey.

Paul Harvey understood that the rest of the story is often vital to understanding the news. Journalists I. F. Stone and Molly Ivens also often reported the rest of the story. Rep. Claudia Tenney’s facebook posts often beg the questions, omitting reasons for and against. She posted these examples in the span of four days.

The Biden Admin is considering diverting VA medical personnel to the border to coverup their failed immigration policies. I just cosponsored the Veterans First Act to stop this. Vital resources and care should never be taken away from America’s veterans!

President Biden’s sweeping student loan forgiveness plan is an insult to American taxpayers, a giveaway to the wealthy and elite universities, and a slap in the face to all those who worked hard to pay back their loans.

Diesel prices in NY are SOARING. One small biz owner in NY-22 told me this week that his shipping costs alone have TRIPLED b/c of sky-high diesel prices. Failed Biden policies are hurting the American people & further deteriorating our supply chains.

Biden should let DHS focus on stopping record- breaking illegal immigration instead of forcing them to censor the American people.

Rep. Tenney fails to explain why the reported plan to use VA personnel at the Southern border might be in the public interest or how it would harm veterans. She fails to explain why many Americans favor student loan forgiveness. She fails to explain which Biden Administration policies might cause petroleum prices to rise. She fails to explain how the Dept. of Homeland Security censor’s the American people.

Her posts are divisive and inflammatory, replete with buzzwords:

  • coverup
  • failed policies
  • insult, slap in the face
  • record- breaking illegal immigration

Her posts offer no positive alternative to ideas she dislikes.

The “Veterans First Act” that Rep. Tenney cosponsored is H.R.7637; there are 30 cosponsors, all Republicans. This bill is political propaganda, with no chance of consideration by the 117th Congress. As Rep. Reed explained at his “farewell meetings,” Congress will do little but political campaigning for the rest of the year. Rep. Tenney might better join a positive bill with a chance of success rather than a negative gesture.

Presumably a candidate for reelection in one district or another, Rep. Tenney would do well to explain what she favors in some detail more often than what she opposes.

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Two Dangerous Ideologies

On April 28,2022, Heather Cox Richardson discussed  “two right-wing, antidemocratic ideologies.” About the first she wrote:

One is pushed by Texas governor Greg Abbott, who is embracing a traditional American states’ rights approach to attack the active federal government that has expanded equality since World War II. The Trump years put the states’ rights ideology of the Confederacy on steroids, first to justify destroying business regulation, social welfare legislation, and international diplomacy, and then to absolve the federal government from responsibility for combating the coronavirus pandemic. Then, of course, the January 6 insurrection saw state legislatures refusing to accept the results of a federal election and rioters carrying the Confederate flag into the United States Capitol. 

About the second she wrote:

The other new ideology at work is in the hands of Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who, as Beauchamp pointed out, is trying to recreate Orbánism in the U.S. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has eroded Hungary’s democracy since he took power for the second time, about a decade ago. Orbán has been open about his determination to overthrow the concept of western democracy, replacing it with what he has, on different occasions, called “illiberal democracy” or “Christian democracy.” He wants to replace the equality at the heart of democracy with religious nationalism. 

The first ideology, asserting “states rights” to head off federal legislation he opposes, describes Tom Reed fairly well. Of course Tom only asserts states rights when it suits him. However Tom was at least wishy-washy on public health measures, did accept the results of the 2020 election, and decried the Jan. 6th insurrection.

Rep. Tenney, who possibly still seeks to succeed Tom Reed in office, surely adheres to the first ideology: she generally opposes most public health measures and many regulations.

Neither Tom Reed nor Claudia Tenney, both Trump supporters, would likely agree with the second ideology. However, Richardson concludes:

Trump’s type of family autocracy is hard to replicate right now, and our history has given us the knowledge and tools to defend democracy in the face of the ideology of states’ rights. But the rise of “illiberal democracy” or “soft fascism” is new to us, and the first step toward rolling it back is recognizing that it is different from Trump’s autocracy or states’ rights, and that its poison is spreading in the United States. 

Posted in Impeachment, Political | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A New House Select Committee on Aging

The “House Permanent Select Committee on Aging” was a permanent select committee of the House from 1974 to 1992. Now there are proposals for a new committee.

H.Res.583, “Amending the Rules of the House of Representatives to establish a Permanent Select Committee on Aging,” was introduced by Rep. Cicillini (D-RI) on August 10, 2021. It currently has 46 cosponsors, all Democrats. “This resolution establishes a House Permanent Select Committee on Aging.” (CRS Summary) Four of the cosponsors are from New York.

Rep. Tenney (R-NY) introduced a competing resolution on April 26, 2022: H.Res. 1064. “There is hereby established in the House of Representatives the Select Committee on Older Americans.” H.Res. 1064 has one cosponsor.

Democrats Resolution H.Res. 583, 46 cosponsorsRepublican Resolution H.Res. 1064, 1 cosponsor
PermanentTemporary
Broad ScopeNarrow Scope
Referred to Rules CommitteeReferred to Rules Committee
No focus specifiedFocus on Covid 19
Two Resolutions

From the text of the Democrat’s Resolution H.Res.583:

There is established a Permanent Select Committee on Aging which shall not have legislative jurisdiction but which shall have jurisdiction—

“(1) to conduct a continuing comprehensive study and review of the problems of the older American, including but not limited to income maintenance, poverty, housing, health (including medical research), welfare, employment, education, recreation, and long-term care;

“(2) to study the use of all practicable means and methods of encouraging the fevelopment of public and private programs and policies which will assist the older American in taking a full part in national life and which will encourage the utilization of the knowledge, skills, special aptitudes, and abilities of older Americans to contribute to a better quality of life for all Americans;

“(3) to develop policies that would encourage the coordination of both governmental and private programs designed to deal with problems of aging; and

“(4) to review any recommendations made by the President or by the White House Conference on aging relation to programs or policies affecting older Americans.”

From Rep. Tenney’s summary of the Republican resolution:


• The House Resolution establishes a temporary, bipartisan Select Committee on Older Americans made up of six members from each party to serve as a forum for inquiry into the unique economic, health, housing, and social issues facing older Americans. The Select Committee is charged with specifically looking into the challenges facing older Americans arising from the COVID–19 pandemic.


• Further, the Select Committee will conduct hearings, collaborate with Congressional committees, and entities of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government to raise awareness and promote initiatives and recommendations to the U.S. House of Representatives.


• The Select Committee will produce interim reports every 120 days starting after the appointment of its members. Finally, the Select Committee will submit a final report to the House no later than 2 years after the appointment of its members, detailing the findings, policies, and recommendations. The Select Committee will be terminated on the day the final report is submitted.

Rep. Cicillini’s resolution has yet to be approved by the Rules Committee for a vote; Rep. Tenney’s resolution is unlikely to be approved. If Rep. Tenney were serious about aging, she might have cosponsored Rep. Cicillini’s resolution.

Posted in Congress, Legislation, Political, Social Security, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Redistricting Revisited

New York’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that Democratic leaders had violated the State Constitution when drawing new congressional and State Senate districts, ordering a court-appointed special master to draw replacement lines for this year’s critical midterm elections instead.“The New York Times”

There is no certain method for drawing fair districts. I suspect no one knows what the special master will do. In the past, districts were considered fair if they were reasonably compact. The Appeals Court now has added a new requirement–that they not be politically biased.

How new districts might be drawn is unclear.

  1. Republican or Democratic proposals of the bipartisan redistricting commission might be used as a start.
  2. Present 2010 districts might be tweaked, eliminating a district upstate or downstate.
  3. Overturned 2020 districts might be tweaked, adding Republican voters to Democratic leaning districts and Democratic voters to Republican leaning districts.
  4. New districts might be drawn dividing the state according to some geographical criteria.
  5. New districts might be drawn according to some political criteria, with a number of Republican leaning districts in proportion to the number of registered Republicans.

Whatever is decided is sure to be arbitrary.

  • The first suggestion would politically biased, the very problem the court seeks to fix.
  • The second would be blatantly political
  • The third wouldn’t change much, possibly making some contests closer.
  • The fourth might create radically new political alignments, to the advantage of one party or another and to the disadvantage of some incumbents.
  • The fifth seems unfair — courts shouldn’t decide how many Republicans NYS sends to Congress; independents and members of minor parties shouldn’t be excluded from a role.

The New York Times says the decision can’t be challenged, but I think a challenge in the Supreme Court on Constitutional grounds might be possible:

Times, Places, and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; —.

Whatever happens, new districts are sure to be controversial and disruptive. It will be interesting to see the results.

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