Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why I left the Democratic Party and went back to being independent.

OK, Hillary Clinton wasn't the only reason, but her candidacy was the final revulsion in a long string of signs that the Democratic party didn't want, or care about my vote.

I can really start this timeline with when I read a quote from Jomo Kenyatta something along the line of "does having two parties make you twice as democratic as we are?" Kenya was a one Party State and western democracies, such as the US, were trying to push "multiparty democracy".

One of the cold war staples was "free and fair elections", which seems laughable after the 2016 Presidential election.

I came up with this a while back (probably after the Philadelphia DNC).
My timeline is:
1980--Supported Anderson, but ended up voting for Carter, who lost anyway.
2000--Gore wins the popular vote, yet doesn't become president
2004--The Candidate I wanted to vote for, Gen. Wes Clark, dropped out before I had a chance to vote for him.
2008--Clinton v. Obama--Obama won and the pact was made for 2016
2015--Clinton is chosen to be democratic nominee before any votes are cast.  Sanders is "drafted" by popular demand.
2016--Sanders does well to my surprise, but the system is totally rigged against him.
--AP calls the primaries for Clinton before the largest state in the Union, California, has voted along with 6 other states and territories.
--Between AP calling the election and DNC in Philly, it becomes obvious that I have no voice in the primary selection process and I DEMEXIT.
--DNC Philly makes it clear the Democratic Party isn't.

US parties are supposed to be "coalitions", but that doesn't really work and the Republicans have become the party of the "right" (I won't call it conservative since it isn't),  The Democrats the party of the "Left": although many progressives and liberals are showing disgust with the Democratic Party (as are a lot of  conservatives with the Republican Party).

Sanders was willing to take his candidacy to the end of the cycle.  I have to admit that I was surprised he did as well as he did.  But the Democratic Party isn't truly "democratic" and Clinton was the chosen candidate.  It was said that the Dems preferred to lose with Clinton than win with Sanders.

But it is the lack of democracy in the process and unwillingness of either party to address this problem which drove me to the Greens.  The Greens were the only party talking election reform.  After all, Clinton was more about the big donors than the little guy (as the Sanders phenomenon pointed out).

It is the continued scapegoating with silly theories about Russian involvement, when it is pretty obvious that what cost the election was the electoral college.  Neither third party candidate on their own stole the vote from Clinton either: numbers here.

Quite frankly, the reason I voted for Jill Stein over Hillary Clinton was that Stein was the only candidate who was addressing the issues I cared for: including election reform.  I am not sure whether people who supported Clinton really knew, or cared, what she believed in.  I say this because one of the incentives for writing this is a run in with a Clinton supported who somehow believed Clinton wasn't a hawk.

Quite frankly, I don't think it made a lot of sense to try and debate hardcore Clinton supporters because I am not sure what they thought about Clinton or her politics.  I only know I didn't like what I saw when it came to her policies. 

They weren't what I believe in.

Or that I could trust her.

The problem with the Russian scapegoating is that if you analyse it, you find that the real failures were from the Democratic Party.  But it's a lot easier to blame someone else than address the systemic failings of US politics.  And I won't be voting for the two major parties unless some drastic changes happen.

See also:
The Democrats' performance as an opposition party? Pathetic

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The forgotten Second Amendment case: Presser v Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 6 S.Ct. 580, 29 L.Ed. 615 (1886)

This case should be brought into more prominence in the "Second Amendment Scholarship" since it is basically a refutation of the "unorganised militia" silliness.

The facts of the case are that Herman Presser was a member of the "Lehr und Wehr Verein", an Illinois corporation set up "for the purpose of improving the mental and bodily condition of its members so as to qualify them for the duties of citizens of a republic. Its members shall, therefore, obtain, in the meetings of the association, a knowledge of our laws and political economy, and shall also be instructed in military and gymnastic exercises." The company had no license from the governor of Illinois to drill or parade as a part of the militia of the state, and was not a part of the regular organized militia of the state, nor a part of troops of the United States, and had no organization under the militia law of the United States.

Presser was then charged and convicted of violating Illinois Military code by "unlawfully belong to, and did parade and drill in the city of Chicago with, an unauthorized body of men with arms, who had associated themselves together as a military company and organization, without having a license from the governor, and not being a part of, or belonging to, 'the regular organized volunteer militia' of the state of Illinois, or the troops of the United States."

Presser uses the argument put forth by the people who want to say that they are somehow part of a militia because they belong to the "reserve" ("unorganised") militia, not understanding that they aren't really a constitutional militia unless their "militia" is organised under USC Article I, Section 8, Clause 16.

The US Supreme Court upheld Presser's conviction and said
It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the states, and, in view of this prerogative of the general government, as well as of its general powers, the states cannot, even laying the constitutional provision in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security, and disable the people from performing their duty to the general government. But, as already stated, we think it clear that the sections under consideration do not have this effect...

It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the states, and, in view of this prerogative of the general government, as well as of its general powers, the states cannot, even laying the constitutional provision in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security, and disable the people from performing their duty to the general government. But, as already stated, we think it clear that the sections under consideration do not have this effect.

It cannot be successfully questioned that the state governments, unless restrained by their own constitutions, have the power to regulate or prohibit associations and meetings of the people, except in the case of peaceable assemblies to perform the duties or exercise the privileges of citizens of the United States, and have also the power to control and regulate the organization, drilling, and parading of military bodies and associations, except when such bodies or associations, are authorized by the militia laws of the United States. The exercise of this power by the states is necessary to the public peace, safety, and good order. To deny the power would be to deny the right of the state to disperse assemblages organized for sedition and treason, and the right to suppress armed mobs bent on riot and rapine.
This decision's significance in the Second Amendment Jurisprudence is that it makes it clear that the Amendment relates to the forces set up under Article I, Section 8, Clause 16, and not individual purposes.

US v. Miller made clear that the Second Amendment has the "obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces (organised in accordance with USC Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 & 16), the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view."

Justice William O. Douglas, who was a member of the Supreme Court explained Miller in his dissent in Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S 143, 150 -51 (1972):
The police problem is an acute one not because of the Fourth Amendment, but because of the ease with which anyone can acquire a pistol. A powerful lobby dins into the ears of our citizenry that these gun purchases are constitutional rights protected by the Second Amendment, which reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

There is under our decisions no reason why stiff state laws governing the purchase and possession of pistols may not be enacted. There is no reason why pistols may not be barred from anyone with a police record. There is no reason why a State may not require a purchaser of a pistol to pass a psychiatric test. There is no reason why all pistols should not be barred to everyone except the police.

The leading case is United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, upholding a federal law making criminal the shipment in interstate commerce of a sawed-off shotgun. The law was upheld, there being no evidence that a sawed-off shotgun had “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.” Id., at 178. The Second Amendment, it was held, “must be interpreted and applied” with the view of maintaining a “militia.”

“The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia – civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.” Id., at 178-179.

Critics say that proposals like this water down the Second Amendment. Our decisions belie that argument, for the Second Amendment, as noted, was designed to keep alive the militia.
The problem is that Heller-McDonald gave credence to a legal theory with no basis.  The worst part of those decisions is that a bogus legal theory was been given an official sanction.

There is an upside, Heller-McDonald are very limited in their scope.  Not to mention very friendly to firearms regulation.  Since "Gun rights" are not a legitimate right, there is no reason they should not be strictly regulated.  As I said before, the Second Amendment does say well regulated.

And regulated means under rules, as Article I, Section 8, clause 14 makes clear.

It's time this case made it back into the Second Amendment jurisprudence where it belongs. It questions the "individual" nature of the right as belonging outside of the militia context.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What if HIllary Clinton had "won" the 2016 election?

This is one of those "alternative history" scenarios where you don't have to look too far since Hillary DID win the popular vote with 65,853,516 (48.5% votes) to Trump's 62,984,825 (46.4% votes), but lost in the electoral college by receiving 232 (43.1%) of the electoral votes to Trump's 306 (56.8%) votes.

That makes this question a bit like the "what if the British won the War of Independence?" Where one should just look at Canadian History.

Anyway, Hillary Clinton would have won the election if the electoral college didn't exist, but she would have been stuck with a legislative branch that was controlled by the opposite party.  Not to mention a party which dislikes her intensely (as do quite a few democrats).

I would guess that we would have another ineffective Clinton administration that would probably last only one term.

But, don't get your hopes up about it being much better than the situation the US is currently in since the legislature would have been the same as it is now.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Penigma reveals the Russian mastermind who led to Trump's"surprise" Presidential Victory!

Catherine the Great!

Yep, you got that correct, Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great (Екатери́на Вели́кая, Yekaterina Velikaya),  Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796.

That's because the only thing which made Donald Trump president was the electoral college, an institution created by the US Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2-4).  So, if there really WAS any "Russian" influence in the process that made Trump president of the US, it would have had to have been produced during the reign of Catherine the Great!


The Fact is Hillary Clinton won the popular vote with 65,853,516 (48.5% votes) to Trump's 62,984,825 (46.4% votes), but lost in the electoral college by receiving 232 (43.1%) of the electoral votes to Trump's 306 (56.8%) votes.

Of course, it is far easier to blame the Russians for this defeat than it is to address the real issues behind Clinton's loss.

Although, that is a strategy that is sure to backfire since any claims of "Russian" interference result in the faults of the Clinton Campaign: her being a weak candidate, DNC misconduct, and pretty much everything that was common knowledge to Sanders' supporters and Clinton opponents.

Any real discussion of Clinton's loss must include the faults of the US system of elections: especially the radical overhaul of the electoral college, which was supposed to have prevented foreign interference in the US presidential process ( The Federalist Papers, No 68).

It is blatantly obvious that the Electoral College serves no useful purpose, but that won't be addressed as long as people refuse to address the real cause of Trump's becoming president.

Then again, any real investigation of the US election would be a threat to the current Democrat-Republican duopoly. The duopoly thrives on the illusion that US elections are somehow "democratic", but it is hard to make that claim when an institution designed to be anti-democratic is allowed to continue its existence.

See also:

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July to our Penigma readers
Why the Yankee Pennamite Wars matter in the 21st century


Image result for Yankee Pennamite War, image
Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania
(location of the three Yankee Pennamite Wars)
Crospey Francis Jasper, 1823-1900


As we celebrate the founding of our nation with the Declaration of Independence, in the more recent context of the challenges this nation faces in our modern era, it is worth reviewing a bit of history.  The American Revolutionary War ended with the Peace of Paris, aka the Treaty of Versailles (there have been many other treaties of Versailles) in 1783.

We began and fought the War of Independence as a nation founded not by the US Constitution but by the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.  That perpetual Union did not last all that long, ending in 1786, when it was replaced by the current, much modified United States Constitution which went into effect in 1789.  The Declaration of Independence almost presciently anticipated that change to our current form of government.

From the official web site of the US Senate:
Written in 1787, ratified in 1788, and in operation since 1789, the United States Constitution is the world's longest surviving written charter of government. Its first three words –– "We the People" –– affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens.

Sadly few of my fellow Americans, and then mostly newly naturalized immigrant citizen, are knowledgeable about our history.  When you look at the original foundation of this country, founded in bloody revolution, and then look again at what amounts to a second bloodless revolution with the replacement of the Articles with the Constitution, changing profoundly who we are today and how we became our modern nation.

There were middling better known events, like Shay's Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion, that contributed to the need to create a better, stronger, and very different founding document.  Less well known but perhaps more indicative of those stresses were the Yankee Pennamite Wars, aka the Pennamite Yankee Wars, of which there were three.  The wars primarily involved Pennsylvania and Connecticut, but other states involved themselves as well.  The final resolution came in 1799, when the disputed Wyoming Valley became part of Pennsylvania.

Because of the vagaries of early cartography, there was a part of what is now Pennsylvania that was awarded in colonial land grant days to more than one claimant colony, subsequently involving multiple states in this series of conflicts.  In brief summary, the first Pennamite 'war' ran from 1769-70, the second in 1774, and the final conflict, which the more limited federal government of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was inadequate to address --- and the distant government of the UK which had created the problem was inadequate and impotent to do so as well.

The two important elements to take away from this relatively obscure bit of our history are the need for a strong and adequately large federal government, in part to resolve conflicts between the states and between local jurisdictions as well, in order to have a strong and functional nation.  Another element is that any such federal government must exist not to serve special interests, but must exist to serve the people of this country --- and corporations are not people.  But the most important lesson, one that had to be relearned only a little more than a half century after the resolution to the third Yankee Pennamite War, was that we CAN resolve the challenges to this nation peacefully, without bloody revolution, without shooting our fellow Americans.

I wish all of our readers and their friends and families a happy and safe celebration of our Independence Day, and I hope this humble post will contribute to any thought you give the topic today and going forward.

If this leads you to browse a little history, I hope you consider checking out the Yankee (Connecticut) and Pennamites (Pennsylvanians) conflict.