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I like Dr. Seuss

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A guest opinion by Matthew Meador, a long-time writer and political staffer in the Northwest.

I like Dr. Seuss. I have since I was a kid. The quirky creatures shown in playful line drawings accompanied by whimsically cadenced text are enough to capture the imagination of any child. As a kid who loved gadgetry and Rube Goldberg devices, I was a fan. I still am.

There’s just one problem. Yes, like so many latter-day heroes, it turns out the beloved Dr. Seuss was deeply flawed, too.

Now, wait, before you start, you don’t know what I am going to say until you actually read it so don’t assume. First, please note: I said “I like Dr. Seuss.” That was present tense, not past.

Second, Dr. Seuss isn’t being cancelled, despite what you’re hearing from the angry hand-wringers all over social media. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company that owns and manages the rights to Dr. Seuss books, announced Tuesday it would no longer publish six Dr. Seuss titles because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” With nearly 50 books to his credit, half a dozen titles won’t ruin or cancel the author Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

It’s true two of the six currently rank in Amazon’s top 10 best-selling children’s books. When I was a kid, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” was my favorite Seuss book so my childhood nostalgia wants to be a little sad to see that one go. The other best-seller is “If I Ran the Zoo.” The two books were originally published in 1950 and 1937 respectively. The other four titles are “The Cat’s Quizzer,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!” and “Scrambled Eggs Super!”

You’ll find an example of Seuss’ racism in the accompanying graphic and several of the disqualifying images in the comments — only a moron could argue they’re not racist. But that’s not even the point. This isn’t new news — 25 years ago, I did a double-take when I read Mulberry Street to my daughter and encountered Seuss’ clearly racist imagery.

Here’s the deal: white people do not get to be the arbiters of defining what non-white people perceive as racism. As the self-appointed masters of the universe who spread out across the globe to colonize and subjugate, it was white people who decided early on that people of features and coloring different than theirs were somehow inferior. Without this history, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. In a world that’s hurting worse than at any other moment in my lifetime, white people now must stand down. In the U.S., the problem has reached a crescendo.

It’s our turn now to sit down and listen. Just hear what people of color have to say. Chances are, you’ll be surprised by what you hear. You will almost certainly be shocked at times and deeply moved. I know I am.

Yeah, what about me? I listen, too — more today than I ever have. As a white man writing about race, I must tread a very careful line. I do not speak for any person of color and I know no person of color wants me even trying. Further, I do not speak TO any person of color — it is not my place to address any person of color on matters of race. As a human moral failing, overpowering and eliminating racism should be very near the top of every white person’s personal and public priorities. This moral principle should transcend politics, religion, philosophies, everything. This is why I write. If I can help ignite an anti-racist zeal in a few of the world’s clueless whitefolk, I must do so.

Back to the topic of Dr. Seuss, alter-ego Geisel also served as a political cartoonist during the 1930s and 1940s. During that period, he produced the most offensive work of his career, by far. While many white people will argue he was a product of his time, that doesn’t make it right but you already know that, even if you won’t admit it.

Fortunately, it’s pretty well-documented that even though Dr. Seuss diligently perpetuated racism for the first half of his life, he performed an about-face and worked vigorously as an anti-racist for the second half. By nearly all accounts, he succeeded — the man atoned for his sins. In fact, Seuss’ book “The Sneetches” actively deals with the subject of combating racism.

If I had to guess, I’d say Dr. Seuss Enterprises will sit on the titles for 10 or 20 years before possibly reworking them to eliminate racist imagery and language — we may see an updated Mulberry Street again, yet. But if we don’t, we shouldn’t mourn the old racism that rightly lost its place in modern culture.

So, yes, I do like Dr. Seuss, present tense. I believe the colorful whimsy coupled with moral rectitude Seuss demonstrated in his later years still holds a place in children’s libraries. Seuss’ history as a fallible man who worked for decades to achieve redemption might even act as a moral lesson for our older kids, too.
 

Preserving the constitution

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From a press release from one of our regular columnists, Jim Jones.

The Idaho Constitution is under attack...from Idaho legislators.

A group of Idaho lawyers has formed to protect the Idaho Constitution from repeated attacks by the Idaho Legislature. Former Idaho Attorney General Jim Jones said today that the group, the Committee to Protect and Preserve the Idaho Constitution, will engage in a variety of activities to prevent the Legislature from subverting constitutional rights of the people, as well as constitutional checks and balances.

“Legislators have shown an alarming disrespect for our State Constitution this session and it is incumbent upon members of the legal profession to call them to account,” Jones said. “The mission of our group is to blow the whistle on legislation that threatens the integrity of the Idaho Constitution and to use every legal avenue to oppose it.”

“We can’t and won’t stand idly by while the Legislature tries to deconstruct the remarkable Constitution that the Constitutional Convention delegates carefully crafted back in 1889 to guide our State into the future. It is fitting and appropriate that we announce our defense of this treasured document during the same week that Idahoans celebrate Idaho Day on March 4.”

“Senate Bill 1110 would make it almost impossible for the people to put an initiative or referendum on the election ballot. The bill is a direct attack on the bedrock principle of our Constitution--the right of the people to control their government. Article One states that the people, “have the right to alter, reform or abolish” the State government “whenever they may deem it necessary.” The Legislature would effectively take that right away from the people, if it passes Senate Bill 1110.”

Several bills would infringe on the Attorney General’s constitutional power to handle the legal business of State agencies. When Idaho’s Constitution was being fashioned in 1889, the delegates clearly understood and agreed that the Attorney General would be the sole source of legal services for the State. Two bills, Senate Bill 1090 and House Bill 118, would prohibit the Attorney General from representing the Idaho Department of Lands. House Bill 101 would allow State agencies to hire their own attorneys. “These bills are unconstitutional, as the Attorney General has advised the Legislature, but that advice has been rejected.”

House Bill 135 proposes to limit the Governor’s ability to respond to an emergency or disaster. The Attorney General has advised that some provisions are not constitutionally permissible, but the bill passed the House anyway.

“It is difficult to understand why legislators completely disregard sound advice from our elected Attorney General and persist in attacking the constitutional framework of our government. They have done so in a number of instances in the past, causing the State to pay millions of dollars to attorneys who have successfully challenged unconstitutional legislation enacted by the Legislature.”

The Legislature established the Constitutional Defense Fund in 1995 to defend the State’s sovereignty, which has included defending legislation that offends the U.S. Constitution. Thus far, the State has paid out over $3 million to attorneys who have successfully challenged the constitutionality of State laws, many of which were enacted despite warnings from Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

“The Legislature’s Constitutional Defense Fund has primarily paid out funds to groups challenging Idaho laws in federal court for violation of the U.S. Constitution, but we intend to focus on protecting our State Constitution in State courts. If those actions are successful, we will seek fees from the Constitutional Defense Fund.”

Founding members of the Committee include former Idaho Attorney General Tony Park, former Deputy Attorney General Clive Strong, and long-time private practitioner, Bruce Smith, a senior lawyer of the Idaho Bar.

Park said, “In the coming days, we will be gathering legal talent from around the State to protect Idaho’s constitutional form of government. There is a good deal of concern in the legal community about the impact of these unconstitutional measures on the integrity of our government. If litigation becomes necessary, we intend to rely on volunteer lawyers who will donate their services to the benefit of the Constitution.”

Strong noted, “The Office of Idaho Attorney General serves an essential role in ensuring elected officials are given the legal advice they need to hear, not what they want to hear. The importance of preserving the role of the Attorney General is evident from constitutionally suspect legislation pending in the Idaho Legislature.”

Smith expressed concern that the bills designed to usurp the Attorney General’s constitutional powers are not only violative of the separation of powers, but would dramatically increase the State’s outlays for legal services. “The sponsors of House Bill 118 could not even estimate how high the cost would go.”
 

A question, with no good answer

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A guest opinion by Matthew Meador, a long-time writer and political staffer in the Northwest.

My lifelong friend called to ask the saddest question I have ever been asked. It was rhetorical, mind you — my friend knew I wouldn’t have the answer. But I understood the need to ask sometimes outweighs the existence of an easy solution.

In this time of nationwide turmoil, my friend’s sister was a well-known attorney in St. Louis, an arbiter who had the gift of gab and a fiery temperament to back it. For 15 years, her radio show captivated and motivated Midwesterners to reject the status quo and advocate for positive change. During the Ferguson riots in 2014, my friend’s firebrand sister was all over the national news, her lucid commentary offering an alternative to what had always been, before — what had never worked. But then, unexpectedly, my friend’s sister died. She died, leaving behind an 11-year-old son.

And my friend called me.

“How,” asked my friend, “am I going to raise a Black male child in this world?”

It pains me that I need to spell it out but my friend is a Black man. And he asked, “How am I going to raise a Black son in this world?”

It’s weird how you’re hit with it — hit with the magnitude of a question that doesn’t have an answer. You know it the moment it’s asked and you know no one will ever ask you a sadder question — a question with so many wrong answers.

“How am I going to raise a Black child in this world?”

What my friend meant was: how am I going to shepherd this Black youth through the labyrinth of complicated lessons that makes a Black man thrive in a world that doesn’t seem to want him to even survive? These are lessons white men don’t ever see. The term white privilege has been bandied about in recent months but it might be better described as Black non-privilege. If you find the term objective, please keep reading — I’ll explain it in terms that are clear and deeply personal.

Recently, I listened to a white person lament her upbringing. “I was raised in an alcoholic home, my entire childhood was ruined by alcoholism — I had no privilege!” she exclaimed, angry. “My early years are proof there is no such thing as white privilege,” she insisted. Everyone, she said, has their own hurdles — because her early life sucked, white privilege can’t possibly exist. “I had no privilege!” she insisted. “There is no white privilege!”

Actually, she did and does have white privilege and she is totally missing the point.

White privilege has nothing to do with how difficult a white kid’s childhood was, how hard a white child had it growing up. White privilege is not related to an abusive childhood, to general poverty, to awful parents — it’s not related to any experiences transcending race, religion, color, culture or any other grouping. People from any origin can experience a difficult upbringing or a trying adolescence. Rather, white privilege manifests itself in the details you never thought about because you didn’t have to — details Black people face constantly.

White privilege isn’t anything to be ashamed of — you didn’t ask for it. White privilege isn’t something you can give up but, to understand your friends of color, you should be aware of it. It makes your life easier in ways you never thought of — ways through which my friend must now shepherd his unexpected Black son.

White privilege starts very small — it’s me crossing a crosswalk as the older white woman in the Lexus waiting for the light to turn green ignores me. White privilege is the same older woman hitting the loud electric car door locks when she sees the Black youth crossing six feet behind me.

White privilege is me shopping at Nordstrom, free to wander without scrutiny while the security staff is closely watching the Black teenager who came in right after me. White privilege is another department store offering a wide variety of makeup colors for white women but few for women of color. White privilege is a white woman entering a boutique with a large shoulder bag and being allowed to browse at her leisure while the Black girl behind her is asked to surrender her bag at the counter before she can shop.

White privilege is me enjoying excellent service at my favorite bistro while the Black couple three tables over experience lousy service because the waiter incorrectly assumes they’re lousy tippers.

White privilege is another resident holding the lobby door of my secure apartment building open for me even though he doesn’t know me but him quickly pulling the door shut behind me because a Black man is heading in next.

White privilege is me relaxing poolside at a resort, unmolested by security staff while the Black family two rooms down is repeatedly asked for their pool pass, their parking permit or to show their room key to prove they are legitimate guests.

White privilege is me ordering the Grand Slam at Denny’s, settling the bill when I’m finished while the Black party seated across the dining room is asked to pay in advance because the white manager thinks they look “suspicious.”

White privilege is me applying for a loan to buy a house and getting approved, even without stellar credit when a Black family of similar means is denied repeatedly. White privilege is a Black home appraised well below its market value but increased by a full third when the bank orders a second appraisal before which the homeowners “whitewash” or remove all objects indicating the occupants are Black.

White privilege is me able to win a seat in our state legislature and freely canvass neighborhoods in my constituency while the Black woman elected in the next district has the police called on her repeatedly as she hands out reelection campaign leaflets in her district neighborhoods.

White privilege is me carelessly fumbling with my documents when a police officer stops me for a minor traffic violation while the Black man the cop stopped earlier had to very carefully maintain awareness of where he slowly moved his hands, asking permission each time he did so, trying not to appear to be reaching for a weapon. White privilege is the same cop allowing me to remain in my car while he writes me up when the Black motorist would have a much higher chance of being handcuffed — emasculated, humiliated — detained and left to sit on the curb before being released and handed his ticket.

Remember when I said my white privilege was deeply personal?

White privilege is me getting busted on federal cocaine charges in the early 1990s and enjoying a complicated adjudication that included six months in a cushy federal halfway house instead of jail time when my Black friend would likely still be serving his prison sentence for the same crime, even as I type these words.

That, my friends, is white privilege.

People like George Floyd pay for alleged minor crimes with their lives, a permanent sentence that white privilege would almost certainly spare them. That’s white privilege.

Each of these examples I have witnessed myself. I have felt pain in my heart when I’ve looked at the eyes of a Black man who is asked for the thousandth time to prove he belongs in a place where some nosy white person thinks he shouldn’t be — it’s a look of utter resignation. And most Black people I know bear this burden with grace and good humor even though doing so must be immensely difficult.

My friend must now teach his new adolescent son how to behave in a world that gives me a free pass in a thousand ways I never consider even as it has already tried and convicted my friend’s child before he leaves his home. If you’ve been unfairly asked to show a parking permit or to leave your purse at a shop counter, please remember these things happen to Black people with mind-numbing regularity — way more than happens to white people. Next time you hear the term white privilege, don’t dismiss it or mock it — it’s not a personal condemnation. Instead, please think of my friend who asked me the most heart-wrenching question I’ve ever heard: How can I raise a young Black son in this world?

(photo)
 

Call for special counsel

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A guest opinion by Everett Wohlers, a former deputy secretary of state in Idaho.

In a display of spinelessness, 43 Republican Senators on Saturday February 13 voted to give Donald Trump a pass for his brazen attack on the Constitutional order in the form of his attacks on the validity of the election and his incitement of the insurrection against the Capitol and the counting of the electoral vote by Congress.

Most of those Senators, including both of Idaho’s, explained their votes to acquit by invoking the decisively debunked argument that the Constitution does not permit impeachment and conviction of a President after he leaves office. None of the Republican Senators who voted to acquit argued that the ex-President was not guilty of the offense with which he was charged. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell even got up and agreed in some detail with the House managers that Trump was guilty as charged.

So we are left with an ex-President who remains eligible to hold future office, including the Presidency, despite having violated his oath of office in the most egregious way possible – by attacking the most fundamental feature of a functioning democracy, the peaceful transfer of power to the choice of the people. What must be done about it, and by whom?

The nature of the offenses committed by the ex-President and his many co-conspirators is criminal under federal law. To not pursue justice under those laws would in effect say to the world that powerful people are above the law. So action under the relevant federal laws must be pursued, but by whom? The US Attorney for the District of Columbia could take on such a case, since that is the venue where the core of the criminality occurred. But there were many related criminal acts that occurred in remote swing states such as Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia, so the US Attorney for DC would face logistical and jurisdictional problems.

Alternatively, prosecutions could be divided among the US Attorneys for the venues of different criminal acts, but that would create a disjointed effort, with possible conflicts. Another possibility is that the new Attorney General, presumably Merrick Garland, could bring the action, but that could be seen as a partisan effort by many, putting the legitimacy of the outcome in doubt in many eyes.

There is a better option that does not suffer from those problems. After Merrick Garland is confirmed as Attorney General, he should appoint a Special Counsel to investigate and appropriately charge those who committed federal criminal offenses in connection with the ex-President’s attempts to overturn the results of the election. The Special Counsel’s remit should be broad so that it can charge any crime by any person that was committed in connection with the effort to overturn the election results, to include the insurrection against the Capitol and the electoral vote count.

While the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation and prosecutorial actions would not be limited to them, there are three relevant laws under which charges could be brought that come to mind immediately.

First, 18 U.S. Code Section 595 makes it a crime for any government official to use “his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the . . . election of any candidate for the office of President. . . .” The efforts of Trump and his surrogates to intimidate election officials in the swing states such as Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania and particularly Georgia to “find” votes appear to clearly fall within the purview of this law.

Second, 18 U.S. Code Section 2383 makes it a crime to incite “insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or [to give] aid or comfort thereto . . . .” The Senate impeachment trial established that Trump and a number of his surrogates did exactly that in inciting the attack on the Capitol and Congress’ count of electoral votes.

Third, 18 U.S. Code Section 2384 makes it a crime for “two or more persons . . . [to] conspire . . . by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States . . . .” The clear evidence from the impeachment trial shows that Trump conspired with a number of others, including Giuliani, Flynn, Kremer, Jones, et.al. to cause the mob to disrupt the count of electoral votes that is required by the Constitution, and that the mob’ actions did in fact “hinder or delay” completion of the count.

If no person is above the law, these and any other relevant crimes must be charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, regardless of political considerations. One of the new Attorney General’s first actions upon confirmation should be the appointment of a Special Counsel with a broad remit to investigate and prosecute all of those who have committed federal crimes in connection with the ex-President’s attempts to overturn the election result, to include the ex-President and his co-conspirators.
 

The case for conviction

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A guest opinion by Everett Wohlers, a former deputy secretary of state in Idaho.

Senate Republicans have over recent days argued that the Constitution does not permit the impeachment and conviction of a President after he leaves office. On January 26, 45 Republican Senators voted not to proceed to trial on the impeachment voted out by the House, invoking that argument, i.e. that the Constitution precludes conviction of an impeached former President. Since they lost that vote, the Republican Senators have been using that argument to justify their anticipated votes to acquit former President Trump in the impeachment trial this week. That argument is plain and simple poppycock. There is no need for complicated legal interpretation of the Constitution in this respect. Any literate person can figure it out.

Debunking the “Unconstitutional” Argument

The language of Article I, Section 3, paragraph 7 of the Constitution is clear on its face.  It says, "Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of Honor, Trust or Profit under the United States. . . ." [Emphasis added.] That is, it allows imposition of either or both of the remedies (removal and disqualification), so long as no further remedy is imposed.  To impose only one of the remedies authorized by paragraph 7 does not extend further than them, but less, which is not prohibited.  Since those limitations in paragraph 7 are the only limitations on paragraph 6's grant to the Senate of “the sole power to try all impeachments,” it is clear that the Senate can try an impeachment for the sole purpose of disqualification of the impeached person from ever again holding federal office.  The position of the 45 Senate Republicans is, then, totally contrary to the clear language of the Constitution.

The Substantive Case for Conviction

The likely reason that the Republican Senators are relying on that specious argument is that the substantive case for conviction is so clear that a vote to acquit would be a clear violation of their duty to the Constitution, while they fear the consequences to them in their next election of voting to convict the object of fealty of their voting base. The bases for the substantive case for conviction are succinctly set out in the Article of Impeachment that was delivered to the Senate on January 26.

The first two sentences of the Article of Impeachment set out the legal standards for impeachment and conviction of the former President. The first sentence cites the standard of Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, which is commission of “high crimes and misdemeanors” by the subject of the impeachment. The second sentence cites Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits the holding of federal or state office by any person who has “taken an oath . . . as an officer of the United States . . . to support the Constitution of the United States [and who has] engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same . . . .” They are examined separately as follows.

--High Crimes and Misdemeanors

As to the commission of “high crimes and misdemeanors, there are at least two relevant crimes in federal law which the former President could be found to have committed. The first of those is set out in 18 U.S. Code Section 2383, which says in relevant part, “Whoever incites . . . insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto . . . .” The second crime is set out in 18 U.S. Code Section 2384, which says in relevant part, “If two or more persons . . . conspire . . . by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States . . . .” The facts establishing the former President’s guilt under both of the cited sections were witnessed in real time on electronic media by the whole country.

With respect to Section 2383, then-President Trump engaged in a number of actions, some of them repeated many times, that incited the mob to storm the Capitol to stop the final count of electoral votes. A few of the more significant of those actions were: (1) Near constant public events at which he told his followers that he had really won the election, but that it had been stolen from him by massive fraud, and that they must “stop the steal;” (2) Having his legal team file some 60 meritless (and quickly dismissed) legal actions in courts charging election fraud in swing states won by Joe Biden; (3) Issuing a public call-out at an event on December 19 for his followers to come to Washington, DC, on January 6, the day of Congress’ formal count of the electoral votes, telling his followers to ““Be there, will be wild!” – a message that he reinforced in tweets on at least December 27 and 30, and on January 1; and (4) Immediately following speeches by his acolytes such as Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump, Jr., that urged the assembled crowd on the Ellipse on January 6 to engage in “war” to stop the count of electoral votes, Trump gave an incendiary speech in which he: recounted that he had won the election, but that it was being stolen from him; repeatedly urged his agitated followers to go to the Capitol where Congress was engaged in counting the electoral votes; and told them to “fight like Hell” and to “take back our country.”

If the then-President’s intent was not sufficiently clear from his speech, it was made so after the mob invaded the Capitol, when he pointedly ignored multiple frantic calls from members of Congress pleading for him to call off the mob before it killed them, and when he refused to mobilize the DC National Guard until evening. The violent insurrection was clearly predictable and connected to then-President Trump’s assemblage and incitement of the mob that he knew was prepared to do violence to the Capitol and members of Congress, and it was further enabled by his refusal to quickly call off the mob or to call out the National Guard. He was, therefore, guilty of the crime set out in Section 2383.

With respect to Section 2384, it is clear that then-President Trump did not plan or act alone in his attempt to stay in office by preventing completion of the formalities of election of Joe Biden by Congress’ count of electoral votes. In the period between the November election and the inauguration of President Biden, then-President Trump actively plotted and worked with a wide variety of acolytes to find a way to prevent the transfer of power to the President-elect. Those people included, among many others, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Flynn, Amy Kremer, Mike Lindell, Sidney Powell, Alex Jones, Charlie Kirk, Donald Trump, Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle. The accounts of their meetings and planning are too voluminous to cover here, but are available in many public sources. Further, on January 6, several of the speakers that preceded then-President Trump on the podium urged the mob on with clear allusions to using violent means to stop the count of electoral votes, including Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump, Jr.

The planning and coordination among these people and Donald Trump by definition constituted conspiracy. And their objective was to prevent Congress from completing its legal duty to count the electoral votes. That is, they conspired to “by force . . . prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of [a] law of the United States.” Then-President Trump and his co-conspirators were clearly guilty of violation of Section 2384.

-- Engagement in Insurrection

Donald Trump took his oath of office as President on January 20, 2017. The presidency is a “federal office.” The oath of office includes swearing to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The discussion above of the-President Trump’s actions in the context of 18 U.S. Code Section 2383 clearly establishes that he “engaged in insurrection.” Therefore, he is barred by Section 3 of the 14th Amendment from ever again holding any federal office.

It is clear that Article I, Section 3, paragraph 7 of the Constitution permits the impeachment and conviction of a former President for the purpose of barring him from future federal office, so there is no procedural reason for the Senate not to convict Donald Trump. It is also clear, based on his violations of 18 United States Code Sections 2383 and 2384, that he should be convicted under the provisions of Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, relating to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” And finally, it is clear that he should be forever barred from holding any federal office, as provided both by Article I, Section 3, paragraph 7 of the Constitution and by Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Opening the door

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An opinion piece by Tom Henderson, a veteran Northwest journalist (at the McMinnville, Oregon, News-Register, the Lewiston Tribune, Corvallis Gazette-Times among others.

Say whatever mean things you want about state Rep. Mike Nearman, and oh I intend to, but the man respects the rule of law.

And the law is the law.

How dare people cherry-pick the laws they will obey and the ones they will simply ignore? Of all the nerve! This is especially true when it comes to borders and boundaries.

Never mind the sob stories, never mind "extenuating circumstances." If people go where they're not supposed to go, they have violated the law. They must be prosecuted. Period. No exceptions. No sanctuary. If that means separating families and putting children in cages, well, the scofflaws should have thought about that before they scoffed at the law.

And the law is the law. Did Nearman mention that?

Actually, there might be just one teeny-tiny exception where people can go where they're not supposed to go. Say they happen to be armed and angry thugs who want to storm the Oregon State Capitol Building and do God-knows-what to anyone who disagrees with them. Then Nearman is all for open borders.

Immigrants, after all, are only suspected violent criminals. For actual violent criminals, Nearman opens the door of the Capitol and lets them charge right in.

Hold on. To be fair, the charge that Nearman slunk to a side door of the Capitol during a Dec. 21 special session of the Legislature and opened the door for violent right-wing extremists who immediately charged in has not been properly adjudicated. It would be wrong to judge the man by trusting the evidence clearly caught on camera.

Nearman says he's being subjected to "mob justice." Oh, heaven forfend. Mob justice is wrong. We wouldn't want to open the door to something like that. Mobs are dangerous. Already, Nearman says, he and his wife have received threats.

How horrible. It must be terrifying to feel threatened. It must feel something like, I don't know, the way the people in the Capitol felt after Nearman let in the angry mob.

I imagine having club-wielding lunatics in the corridor might even be more unsettling than a threatening email. The latter is not uncommon. Show of hands. How many people in the Legislature have received threats? For the matter, how many people who have expressed a public opinion have received threats? I myself have been shot at, spat upon, pelted with beer cans, threatened at knifepoint and burned in effigy.

And I'm just a journalist -- a lovable one at that.

To be fair, Nearman says the invective hurled at him has been filled with hate and profanity. Strange, the hate mail I receive is always so nice. ("With deepest regrets, I wish to notify you of my intention to fill one of your body cavities with black powder, which I will then ignite. No offense. Have a nice day. Yours in Christ, Billy Bob.")

All the same, threats come standard issue when you, to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Justice John Marshall Harlan II, thrust yourself into the vortex of controversy. Nearman really should think about that before he risks looking like one of those whiny, sniveling, professional victim snowflakes that conservatives detest so much.

I think it was Harry Truman who once said, "If you can't stand the heat, don't open the door of the Capitol to a bunch of unhinged wack-a-doodles, Rep. Numb Nuts."

Although the Capitol was officially closed to the public Dec. 21 due to the threat of COVID-19 and unhinged whack-a-doodles, Nearman took it upon himself to interpret the law. "The Oregon Constitution says that the legislative proceedings shall be 'open,'" he said in a statement. "It means open."

He has a point. Clinically, it's known as his head. But he does have one. With the doors locked, there was no way the public could know what was going on in the Legislature's star chamber proceedings -- unless they watched it on live streaming.

Wait a minute. Did Nearman admit he took it upon himself to decide a rule establishing a boundary should be disobeyed? I thought he hated that sort of thing. I guess there were extenuating circumstances. These weren't brown people fleeing violence, These were white people inflicting violence.

Under those circumstances, Nearman no doubt felt entitled to interpret the Constitution as a one-man Supreme Court and open the door to mob justice. Aren't there laws against that sort of thing? I think so.

And the law is the law.
 

State of the (Carlton, Oregon) city

Linda Watkins of Ridenbaugh Press was publicly sworn in Tuesday as mayor of Carlton, Oregon; she was elected to the post in November. At her first council meeting as mayor, she delivered the city's first State of the City address. From it:

It’s not been done before, but Carlton’s citizens ought to have a general update on our city’s activities and general condition.

So, here’s Carlton’s first “State of the City,” with a little bit of history included.

Starting three years ago, with Kathie Oriet’s retirement as mayor after 16 years,and accompanied by the retirement of 6-year City Manager Chad Olsen, Carlton has been facing one major challenge after another: The selection of a new city manager, and now three years later another selection process for that position; another change in the mayor’s office, and almost complete turnover on the city council, with three newly elected members - my replacement, yet to be selected will make a fourth.

Fortunately, we have a long-term, professional staff with the experience and confidence to fill in the gaps these changes have created. I have every confidence they will provide the best service they can for all of us. From our Administrative staff to Public Works to our Police department, Carlton’s city employees have stepped up to the challenges of dealing with new city managers and elected officials, departing city managers, and pandemic procedural guidelines that seem to change weekly, all while keeping our city running smoothly and helping citizens under challenging circumstances. That we’ve experienced few glitches in our system is to their credit and they deserve our thanks as they try to ensure all of our needs are met.

With all of our Council, Committees, and Staff in place, we will be in good shape to handle whatever challenges we will encounter in 2021. We don’t know what changes will come with the availability of the Covid vaccination; we don’t know how our businesses will come out of this whole situation, nor how each of us individually will survive. Covid-19 has become a good reminder that we can never take our health and safety for granted; and that we always need to consider – before we act – how our actions will affect everyone around us.

We will soon have a new City Manager. This recruitment process is very different from that used for the prior manager and while we want to get this done as soon as possible, we’re not feeling the urgency that accompanied the previous selection process. To ensure citizen participation one of the four interview committees is composed of citizen volunteers, and there will be a virtual “reception” for all city residents that I hope you all will attend. Written comments from all of these events will be given to the Council when we meet to make our final decision. In the meantime, the four final candidates under consideration have been announced, and I urge you all to do your research.

2021/22 will also bring us (barring complications) the long-awaited dredging of our city’s water supply reservoir and the replacement of our main water transmission line from that reservoir. Staff have been working the last two years on the preliminary surveys, environmental studies and reports, and other logistics associated with this project. We anticipate the actual dredging will begin in late spring/early summer this year. At that time, we need to have the water use agreement with McMinnville Water and Light signed as we will, for at least four months, be depending on them for water while the work on our reservoir proceeds.

And speaking of water, I’ve talked with hundreds of people around Carlton in the last couple of years, and no subject of concern comes up more often than our water rates. This year, with the Covid-relief, restaurant rebate program, income from water billing is down, and we’re going to be facing additional water costs incurred with buying McMinnville water during the reservoir work. At this time, we don’t know what those costs will be. Staff started work last year to figure out how we can deal with the loses and cost increases without making life even more difficult for all of us, but I warn you – and I’m not happy about having to say this – that we will be facing some price increase. But before we approve any increase, you will know exactly what and why and it will be the absolute minimum. The city staff is already working to provide a more precise and transparent explanation of our monthly water bills and we’ll be exploring ways to control those costs.

We are grateful that with the help of State Senator Brian Boquist, and State Representative Ron Noble we have close to ten million dollars total in grants that will pay for the dredging and the replacement of the main water transmission line. This is one cost the city will not have to bear but without that help our water bills would be even worse.

You’re also likely to see stepped-up activity by the Oregon Department of Transportation as they prepare for the Highway 47 realignment, which will ultimately restore ownership of Main Street to our city. Many thanks to the citizens who have stepped up to volunteer for the ODOT Realignment committee, which will work closely with ODOT to ensure that our citizens’ concerns are heard and addressed as ODOT plans out the project.

As a side note: This summer you’ll see ODOT doing some ADA ramp work on Main Street...this is being done as part of a statewide project and bears no relation to the Hwy. 47 realignment.

One of the less discussed, but critically important, activities in the next couple of years will be the work of our Planning Commission, who will be updating our development code…a project that has been needed for quite some time and which, had it already been in place, would likely have saved a considerable amount of heartburn over the JR Meadows 1 and JR Meadows 2 subdivision requests.

The Commission will also be tasked with creating development standards for 5-G transmitters in anticipation of the increased use of that technology in the very near future.

Their focus for all of this will be on ensuring one of our on-going city goals of livability receives more attention. This is a vision that will drive future housing planning, parks, and infrastructure – including sidewalks and streets – always with the goal of retaining the historic charm and warmth that has made Carlton the place we all call home.

I’m happy to say that for the first time in several years every seat on our Planning Commission is filled and they deserve a vote of thanks from all of us for stepping up.

I also want to take a minute to express my appreciation for our city’s police department. Our police department doesn’t have an easy job, and over the last ten months, the Covid lockdowns and financial stress for our residents have made their jobs even harder. That we as a community don’t hear a lot about the increases here in domestic and neighbor disputes can be attributed to the watchfulness of a department that believes in keeping in touch with their citizens and trying to derail potential disputes before they devolve into situations where one or both parties find themselves heading to jail. This year will see the addition of a fourth officer… the first officer addition in more than 20 years.

Make no mistake: Carlton is not Mayberry, and while we don’t see our city getting crime headlines, the potential is here. We decided several years ago that we wanted the focus of our police to be on preventative, community policing and the lack of those headlines is proof that is what we’re getting.

Another project that has been hanging around and that requires some resolution is the question of a new city hall. Our current city hall doesn’t meet seismic standards, and we’re going to need improvements sooner rather than later. But, until we determine what our economic position is going to be after the national economic fallout from the last year, we need to proceed with caution, if at all. And whatever we do, we need to make the need clear and make sure that YOU are actively involved from early stages onward rather than being presented with a “done deal.”

And last, I’m looking forward to finally getting the Bee City program up and running. This is one of those projects that, like Planning, Tourism and the Carlton Business Association will focus on bringing encouraging volunteerism and get us all thinking about what we collectively can do to bring our community closer together.

We have a big job ahead of us folks, and I’m reaching out to you now because I want you to be informed and prepared. We’ll all need to step up to make these things happen, despite the unknowns that we’re all dealing with – and I believe that as long as our priorities are to keep our community strong and our neighbors cared for, we’ll be fine.

My thanks to each of you – you’re the reason Carlton is the great little town we live in.

Please, be kind to each other. It’s what we all need most right now.
 

He called for martial law

readings

A guest opinion from Everett Wohlers, an Idahoan and long-time deputy in the state's secretary of state's office. It previously appeared in the blog Informed Comment.

On Tuesday, December 1, Michael Flynn, the beneficiary of President Trump’s recent pardon, published a manifesto calling on President Trump to suspend the Constitution and declare martial law so that the military could organize and run a new election for President to void the recent election which was lost by the President. The core of the manifesto called for the President to “immediately declare a limited form of martial law, and temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections, for the sole purpose of having the military oversee a national re-vote.” Flynn’s position was immediately amplified in print and electronic media by far-right groups such as We The People Coalition (WTPC).

It appears that the President was listening because on the day after Flynn’s manifesto and the related WTPC ad were released, his 46 minute Facebook rant included a call for a re-vote. While Flynn’s manifesto is ludicrous on its face because it amounts to incitement of a coup against the Constitution, the President has demonstrated in the weeks since he lost the election that he is becoming increasingly unhinged such that it is not inconceivable that he could take Flynn’s call-out seriously.

That begs the question of what would happen if President Trump were to actually adopt Flynn’s position and declare a suspension of the Constitution and attempt to impose martial law. Because of the President’s fragile mental state and desperation to overturn his loss of the election, this question needs to be considered so that we know what the range of outcomes would be and what to expect.

If the President were to decide to act on Flynn’s proposal, he would first issue an order to declare martial law, to suspend the Constitution, to declare the recent election void as to the office of President, and to order a new election. He would then have to give orders to the military leadership to implement martial law and to undertake organization and administration of the election. By decapitating the civilian leadership of the Pentagon in early November, including Secretary of Defense Esper and the leadership layer immediately below him, and replacing them with totally incompetent, but personally loyal, operatives, Trump has assured that he will get no pushback against such orders from the civilian level.

The same cannot be said of the military leadership, both at the Joint Chiefs level and at the level of operational commands. Military leaders and the Judge Advocate officers who support them tend to take their oath of appointment to “support and defend the Constitution” very seriously. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, is the leading case in point. In August of this year, in responding to questions from members of the House Armed Services Committee about how he would respond to an order from the President to use the military for political gain, he said forcefully, “I will not follow an unlawful order.”

More specifically with respect to the possibility of an order to have the military intervene in the electoral process, he said, “I foresee no role for the U.S. armed forces in this process.” At the levels of command below the Joint Chiefs, a commander who receives an order that is of questionable legality will automatically consult with his or her Judge Advocates, who will assess the legality of the order. If it is determined that the order is unlawful, the commander is obligated not to obey it. The question of whether President Trump’s order to implement martial law will be implemented by the military, then, comes down to whether it is determined by the military leadership, with the support of their Judge Advocates, to be lawful.

There are two possible ways in which the President could order the military to implement martial law. One might be called “martial law lite” because it is not true martial law, but rather the use of the armed forces as a “posse comitatus,” i.e. as a law enforcement body to carry out the President’s directives. The other is actual martial law, whereby civil authority is suspended and military authority is imposed in its place, i.e. the military takes control of all law enforcement and judiciary functions pursuant to a suspension of the Constitution and existing laws. The military leadership and their Judge Advocates would have to determine the lawfulness of whichever of these two forms they were ordered to implement, as follows:

– Posse comitatus – Federal law, specifically the Posse Comitatus Act, 18 U.S. Code Sec. 1385, prohibits the use of the armed forces as a posse comitatus, i.e. in civilian law enforcement, except as “expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress. . . .” There is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes use of the armed forces as a posse comitatus. The only statutory provision to which the President could potentially point for such authority is the Insurrection Act, 10 U.S. Code Sec. 252, which is supplemented by the provisions in 10 U.S. Code Sections 332 through 334. Sections 252 and 332 both provide that if the President finds “that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings,” he may call the National Guard of the state to active duty or use the active duty armed forces “to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.” [Emphasis added.] The scope of the Insurrection Act is, then, limited to specific cases of unlawful actions or rebellion against federal authority. Further, it may be invoked only against actions within a state, not across the entirety of the United States. It is clear, then, that a Presidential order to suspend the Constitution for the purpose of holding a new election under military control, purportedly under the authority of the Insurrection Act, would not be lawful. First, there are no ongoing actions that could reasonably be deemed to be an “unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion. . . .” Second, there is no way that conducting a new election could be framed as a response to such actions, even if they existed. And third, such an order would apply to the entire country, not a state. Therefore, an order to the military based on the Insurrection Act would on its face be unlawful, and therefore would not be obeyed by the military.

– Martial law – The imposition of full-blown martial law whereby all of the existing law enforcement and judicial functions are displaced by military law and structures pursuant to suspension of the Constitution is nowhere permitted by the Constitution, so would be unlawful on its face. The only provision for suspension of any legal protection in the Constitution is the provision in Article I, Section 9, paragraph 2, which provides that, “. . . Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” Note that this limited provision is in Article I, which governs the Legislative branch, so it is not available to the Executive branch. Flynn’s manifesto and the related WTPC ad cite President Lincoln’s invocation of martial law, which required the suspension of Habaus Corpus, as precedent supporting a President’s power to suspend the Constitution in its entirety and to impose martial law. Aside from the fact that Lincoln’s suspension of Habeas Corpus would in no way serve as precedent for wholesale suspension of the entire Constitution, as Flynn and WTPC suggest, Flynn and WTPC totally overlook the fact that the Supreme Court held Lincoln’s action to be unconstitutional in the case of ex parte Milligan (71 US 2 [1866]). The Court in Milligan closely limited the circumstances in which martial law is permissible in saying, “If, in foreign invasion or civil war, the courts are actually closed, and it is impossible to administer criminal justice according to law, then, on the theatre of active military operations, where war really prevails, there is a necessity to furnish a substitute for the civil authority. . . .” The Court went on to say, “Martial rule can never exist where the courts are open, and in the proper and unobstructed exercise of their jurisdiction. It is also confined to the locality of actual war.” There is no “actual war” going on inside the United States, nor are the civilian courts “actually closed.” It could not be clearer that imposition of martial law under a suspension of the Constitution is absolutely impermissible, and any order given by the President in such case is on its face unlawful. Such an order would not, therefore, be obeyed by the military.

The conclusion is that the military, from GEN Milley down through the operational commands, would not obey an order to enforce martial law and to administer a new election. The question remains as to what would follow the military’s refusal. The simplest answer is that nothing would have to happen – civil authority would go on until the problem is resolved on January 20 when Donald Trump leaves the White House, either voluntarily or kicking and screaming at the hands of the Secret Service under the direction of President Biden. But it is likely that there would also be litigation that could reach the Supreme Court on an expedited basis, which should change nothing – not even the Republican-packed Court could find a way to make President Trump’s action lawful.

There is a question whether such an action by the President, as well as the contributing actions of Flynn, WTPC and others who advocated for the action, could be charged under 18 U.S. Code Sec. 2385, which makes it a crime to advocate overthrow of the government. But that can be addressed at a later time, if it becomes ripe.

In closing, I will add a comment that is personal to me as a retired military officer. Michael Flynn is a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General. When he was commissioned many years ago, he swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; [and to] bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” That oath does not lapse. His call to suspend that Constitution, to forcibly implement martial law, and to conduct an election in violation of the Constitution, stains the uniform which all of us who are or were members of the armed forces wore. Even if he never faces legal consequences for his blatant violation of his sacred oath, he will forever bear the shame of it.