Saturday, February 27, 2016

On Hating President Obama

Precedents for Hating Barack

Feeling overworked, I decided to relax today with a copy I unearthed of United States Diplomatic History, Volume I, edited by Gerard Clarfield

Any history book is bound to have revealing details about the past. For instance, in the Chapter on the Jay Treaty with the British Empire (or Treaty of London of 1794), I learned that John Jay (who was already the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), lacking instructions otherwise, decide to not demand payment to American slavers for their slaves that were freed by the British Army during the Revolutionary War.

But what struck me most was the hatred unleashed on President George Washington because of the treaty. The background is complex, but at that time the two major political factions in the U.S. were pro-French (and the French Revolution) or pro-British (and more conservative). The problem was the U.S. really needed a new treaty with the Empire because of unresolved issues from the Revolutionary War. President Washington did not particularly like the new treaty, but he needed it to keep the young nation out of war and with some chance to prosper economically.

One more detail before the main point: the U.S. Senate discussed the treaty in secret, and agreed that it would not be published. But anti-British Senators eventually made it available to the press.

How vitriolic was the hatred for Washington? There were riots against the treaty in Boston. The pro-French press said the President "had completed the destruction of American freedom." A series of articles accusing George Washington of theft was published. A common toast was "A speedy death to George Washington."

I certainly don't condone hatred of President Barack Obama. But I am not shocked that it exists. He is not my favorite President, but I would not slip from criticism (with occasional agreement or even praise) to hatred. But for many Americans, the vitriol of the 2008 campaign just rolled on into hatred of the man in office.

I think there is a racial component to Obama hating, but I don't think it is the main issue. Every President before Obama inspired hatred, at times, among certain people. The more famous an American President is now, the easier it is to find out why he was hated. Jefferson was hated for being pro-French and an atheist. Jackson was hated by the East Coast establishment. Lincoln was hated by the South, and so on down the line. Liberals have hated Conservative Presidents, and Conservatives have hated Liberal Presidents.

Several Presidents have been hated to the point of being assassinated, and attempts have been made on many more.

The political parties, of course, have been responsible for the whipping up of hatred. The Democrats hated Reagan and Bush. The fury unleashed by Republicans at Bill and Hillary Clinton was probably not unprecedented, but odd given that liberal Democrats considered them to be too conservative. Nor was Hillary the first First Lady to be hated. Many prior first ladies had their detractors (notably Eleanor Roosevelt). It probably started with Martha Washington, but that I have not read about, so far.

The President I hated the most was Richard Nixon. He was the President of my teen years, when I started rebelling against authority. I volunteered to campaign for George McGovern in 1972 (something Hillary and I have in common). My college roommate and I clipped pictures of Nixon and recaptioned them in nasty ways and attached them to our dorm door.

Now I see Nixon differently. He was a war criminal, sure, but I doubt he would have committed war crimes if Lyndon Johnson hadn't started the Vietnamese War. He was conservative, sure, but he accepted most of the New Deal. By today's standards he was to the left of Bernie Sanders. As Vice-President in the 1950s he had done much to advance civil rights. I could criticize him all day long, but I can no longer hate him.

Some people are just filled with hate, a few may not hate at all, but most of us live in the gray zone. We learn, over time, that most people are complicated. We can hate one thing they do, and love another. We can even disagree, or strongly disagree, without hating.

I hope Hillary becomes President, but I expect her to be the most hated President ... since Obama. I don't think she hates anyone, though I suspect she is not fond of Republicans or right-wing radio. She is the only candidate still standing who thrives on understanding complexity. And it's a complex world, so we want a President who can make decisions, understanding that the results can be complicated and even unexpected.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Good Riddance, Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Scalia was a neo-fascist who tried to destroy America

Antonin Scalia (1936-2016) died yesterday, and good riddance. Our nation would have been better off if he had never been appointed to the Supreme Court. Scalia did his best to insert fascist ideology into the American legal system and Constitution. He was dishonest, manipulative, and unpatriotic. I only wish he had died sooner, preferably hanged like the Nuremberg criminals whose ideas he promoted.

Scalia was of Italian descent, and was the first-Italian American on the Supreme Court. Too bad, because there were many Italian-Americans with American values who would have made better Supreme Court judges. [disclaimer: I am of one-fourth Italian descent]

I do think being raised a Roman Catholic had a lot to do with his moral degeneracy. Roman Catholicism is at the root of fascism and other authoritarian political trends. But I should point out that many American Roman Catholics traded in their Dark Ages values for American rationalism during the very era that Scalia slimed his way through. [disclaimer: I was raised Roman Catholic and attended Catholic schools through the eighth grade. I have long been a atheist with a positive, nature-centric philosophy.]

Scalia became a committed ultra-conservative Catholic while attending a Jesuit-run school in New York City as a teenager. Depending on how you look at it, he either was smart or just spent a lot of time memorizing Jesuit nonsense. He then attended a Roman Catholic college, Georgetown University. By the time he reached Harvard Law School he was so deeply entrenched in lies and casuistry that he never emerged from the black pit. Instead, he worked hard all his life to suck American down into that pit.

I will leave it to others to try to analyze what was in Antonin's genes or childhood experiences that turned him to the dark side. Nor can I take on his opinions in thousands of Supreme Court cases in a short essay. What I want to convey to readers is his general method of attempting to destroy the Constitution. Contrary to his many eulogizers today, he did not invent these methods. They were conveyed to him. He simply reinvigorated them.

Suppose someone said to you: the right to bear arms, when the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution, meant only the right to own muzzle-loading weapons requiring those who wish to fire them to dump some gunpowder and a bullet into the barrel each time.

Scalia, when it was convenient, promoted "originalism" and "textualism" for interpreting the Constitution. In this theory the words of the Constitution mean exactly what they say and cannot be interpreted in modern terms. They have to be interpreted the way George Washington and crew interpreted them.

Except when originalism and textualism where inconvenient to right-wing agendas, as with gun control laws, which he consistently ruled against.

This enabled Scalia to deny that women have rights other than the right to vote. He denied that Congress could create good laws and programs, unless they were specifically listed by in the Constitution. He even ruled that Congress cannot regulate campaign donations as part of its duty to regulate elections, because that is trumped by the right of wealth individuals, corporations, and labor unions to spend all they want on an election.

But originalism and textualism were a phony agenda, a means to an end. Scalia did not rule that guns using technology more modern than that of 1780 could be used only the the U.S. military and police forces. No, he even voted to overturn parts of the Brady Bill.

Scalia's real agenda was to push the nation towards an authoritarian, right wing, Christian (and evenually Roman Catholic) government. Perhaps with slight variations from the Pope Pius, Mussolini, Hitler, General Franco model. But certainly in the direction of the fascist model.

Some people say Scalia could be charming in person. People said the same thing about Mussolini and Hitler.

Scalia denied the reality of the Evolution of Species. He tried to force religious theology to be taught in public schools.

Scalia denied the rights of people to affirmative action. Affirmative Action is Justice, because it makes up for past injustice. But Scalia wanted to steer the nation towards ever increasing injustice.

Scalia was un-american. He was against democracy and human rights, including the right to the pursuit of happiness, instead of misery under a Pope. He wanted to push America into a purposefully ignorant society of obedient religious nutters.

Scalia was a liar and a scumbag in a black robe, which is pretty much what his Jesuit teachers were aiming for.

Within the Catholic Church Scalia refused to accept the move away from fascism known as Vatican II. While we may be unfortunate that he was ever appointed to the Supreme Court, and to some point he did manage to persuade people to find ways to interpret our Constitution in a fascist manner, we are lucky he was just one of nine.

More on Antonin Scalia by William P. Meyers: Impeach Antonin Scalia [June 28, 2012]

Friday, February 5, 2016

Bernie Sanders: Progressive, Socialist, or just Liberal?

Is Bernie Sanders a really a Socialist or just another Liberal?

I cannot point out too many times that people tend to see specific a word as representing a specific, real object. But we all have had the experience that one word can mean many things, and that specific things may have more than one name. Words of the day: socialist and progressive.

The Democratic Party Presidential debate in New Hampshire on February 4, 2016 provided lessons in both semantics and real politics. It was a long debate. Anyone who listened to it, or who reads the transcript, might reasonably select different points to emphasizing in reporting on it. Not surprisingly, Bernie advocates believe he won the debate, while Hillary advocates believe she won the debate.

I am not concerned with who "won" the debate. I am not registered in any political party, but I certainly have a political agenda. And I have priorities. I put the environment first, international peace and justice second, and American economic & legal justice third. But I have an opinion about just about every detail of politics, society and culture.

To me the debate was an important read on Bernie Sanders' foreign policy. Hillary Clinton is too hawkish for my taste, but of course she is much closer to mainstream sentiments than I am.

Bernie harps on Clinton's vote to attack Iraq (which was a war crime, if you use the Nuremberg criteria for war crimes). But Bernie's rabble rousing speeches always fail to mention his vote to attack Afghanistan (which was a war crime, if you use the Nuremberg criteria for war crimes). When pointed out, he changes the subject, as he did in the debate. When it is pointed out to his supporters, they usually go back to the Clinton Iraq vote.

In the debate there was a second part to the question. Both Hillary and Bernie were asked, by the moderators: what would you do about the U.S. troops currently in Iraq. Hillary gave a clear answer without hesitation: she would leave the troops there, subject to the situation changing. Bernie tried to evade answering, but when pinned down said, or I should say mumbled, that he would leave the troops there.

Bernie is also for fighting ISIS, preferably with other nation's armies. It is a hypocritical position for someone who claims he has been screaming for 50 years about American job losses. Isn't killing ISIS soldiers a paid job? Why should that skilled labor go to foreigners?

Forgive me if I wax sarcastic. It's the "I'm perfect," from Bernie, "He's perfect" from his chorus of followers chanting that has become irritating. But then I'm from California, in fact northern California, where a Bernie Bot seems to be lurking in every smoke-filled room. No, not tobacco.

In short, when pushed to comment, Bernie was just as hawkish as Hillary. Too hawkish for me.

I was surprised and pleased that Hillary finally started poking at Bernie's allegedly perfect Progressive credentials. I think earlier in the campaign she and her advisors assumed she would beat Bernie easily. She did not want to alienate his followers, as she will need their support in November. But his follows drank his kool-aid, not knowing, as he himself remembers, what a bad little boy he has been these past thirty years.

Hillary pointed out that he voted to deregulate derivatives. Bernie did not deny it, he just went on to change the subject. Bernie Bots would be all over Hillary if she did something like that. They would claim it is proof that she is just a pawn for Goldman Sachs. But in all the commentary I've read today (admittedly just a fraction of what there is), I have seen no Bernie Bot criticizing Bernie for that vote. Maybe Bernie Bots don't know what a financial derivative is.

The Democratic Party is no home for Socialists. I would say the Democratic Party is socialist-influenced. Sanders bought the socialist line in college (so did I). Now, in his dotage, apparently doing something about it is on his bucket list. Great. Do something about it, if you can. I personally favor mixed systems, though I would probably argue about what specifically should be socialized and what should be left to free markets. Also I favor worker ownership of business, not the centralized government bureaucratic ownership of business that Sanders favors. Though I might make an exception in some cases, like localities owning their own utility companies.

So hurray for Bernie, but I've had enough of old white socialist male domination in my lifetime (most of my friends were fellow leftist activists). I'd like to try old white female liberal domination for 4 years, especially since the alternative is Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.

I have watched a lot of bullying done by Bernie supporters both on the Internet and in my local area. At the comments section of the New York Times, for instance, you would think 98% of the Democratic Party voters favor Bernie. I've found that if I even hint to many voters around here that Hillary might be the better candidate, suddenly they want to talk. The rabidness of the Bernie Bullies is not something they can turn off. Most people need that personality defect to maintain a leftist stance in America. But bullying does not a Democracy make.