All International Institutions Are Not Good Ones

The annual clambake for the UN has come around again.  It isn’t pushed as much in schools these days as it was in the past.  At least that is my observation of my children and grandkids and their school experience.  The media and bureaucracy have long pushed for what they perceive to be institutions that are progressive and forward looking.  That was the UN back in the old days.   As schoolchildren my generation was spoon fed platitudes about the value of the UN for all mankind.  It was going to make the world a safe place and wars a thing of the past.

As a small child I remember the special presentations we had to sit through in the auditorium with films and the UN flag on display during UN month.  We were told that this organization was a celebration of all the people of the world and was there to assure a peaceful and progressive world.  In class this was further explained with details about the formation and operation of the UN and the Security Council.  We even had tests on these subjects.   We were taught to look beyond the shores of the US and find worth in all the peoples of the world.

Of course there was little mention of the Soviet influence at the UN.  Don’t remember that there was ever any condemnation of the Soviets or Stalin.  Likewise there was silence about the Chi Comms and Mao.  These special assemblies and classroom work started about third grade or so and we were still having special events honoring UN day all the way through High School.  I don’t remember any mention of the UN with regard to the Korean War.  We only got any help from the Aussies, Kiwis and I think some Indians and maybe a small  British contingent to help out.

I don’t remember my Dad talking about the UN one way or the other to influence my thinking but I was even at a very young age very leery of this organization.  I was old enough and aware enough to know that Stalin was a truly evil man and the commies were set on world domination.  They openly declared that was their goal.  They were not shy about it.  They fostered active and violent local commie organizations in Britain, France and Italy and of course East Germany was under their thumb.  Those organizations were large in each country and totally controlled from Moscow.

The UN was flawed from the git go with allowing all those “independent” Soviet territories to have separate membership and voting rights in the general assembly of the UN.  Also the Security Council was stacked with the Soviets and the Chi Coms having a veto power there.  What were Roosevelt and Truman thinking?  I am pretty old now and honestly can’t think of a single instance when the UN really did any good any where in the world.  The Berlin Airlift, the Balkans (with the replete stories and rape and pillage by UN forces), not Korea, the Middle East,  anywhere in latin America, the corrupt African countries they have been sent to like the Congo which is the very definition of a failed State.

I could never work up any pride at all in the UN even as a youngster, indeed I viewed it as an impediment to the interests of the US.  Hey I am all for world peace but believe various bi-lateral or even multi-lateral treaties are and will be more effective toward that end.  I never wanted to live in the United Nations of America, I liked the United States.  Today it is a bloated and expensive bureaucracy and pinnacle of elitism run rampant and openly hostile to the US.

Remember Governments don’t earn or make money, they only spend it after taking it from the people.

God Bless,


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Connection And Identity As American

We are bombarded daily of late with reports of the divisions within our nation.  A real US versus THEM mentality that harbors many alleged dreadful results.  Maybe there is some truth to that and maybe it is another example of historical bias–meaning that each generation thinks that whatever is going on right now is the most important event(s) and most momentous of all time.  Each generation thinks we have never seen or experienced anything like it before.  Let’s think about that and what might be at least one root cause of the current divisions.

The strongest binders of any society are its religion, language and culture.  Culture being the art, literature, social mores and conventions that are mostly accepted by a large majority and a feeling that we are indeed connected in a fundamental way with those we consider our fellow citizens.  No thinking being expects complete agreement on all the issues of the day.  Three Southern Baptist Deacons will reach five different opinions on the policy for tithing collection after all.  In the 1930’s we faced tremendous differences about the direction of the country.  There were many who really disliked Roosevelt and his big government policies and likewise there were legions that thought he was terrific.  His popularity was not nearly as big as you would think reading the paeans to him these days when he is mentioned.  He also could be a very vicious and attacking politician and spewed vitriol on his political opponents constantly.

In the last half of the 20th century we were able to form a consensus on many large issues and when we couldn’t the losing side would begrudgingly accept the democratic outcome.  We had the big matters still in some harmony– language, religion and a loose but still defined “American” culture.  Also we had the unique benefit of so many millions of men having gone through the same experience–WWII.  Veterans of the War played an outsized role in our politics for at least two generations after the War.  No matter their political differences they knew that they people there were negotiating with on the on side of the political spectrum had gone through the same or similar events as they had.  They had all gone to boot camp, lived together, fought and believed they were doing something worthwhile for their country.

I really did not like McGovern’s big government approach and what I considered socialistic tendencies.  But I could never forget that during the War he was a B-17 bomber pilot.   Our boys had a distinct American culture they brought with them around the world on land and sea and the air.   That culture prevailed in the War.  If you don’t think our culture was distinct then ask some of the surviving Brits about out boys over there.  We had the same language and mostly religion but we were definitely American.  The Brits believed we were  “overfed, overpaid and over there”.

I sure ain’t wishing for WWIII but I do  worry about the loss of a commonality as a people.  We have become very segmented over the last 30 years or so. It concerns me that we are losing that cultural glue that binds us as one nation.

Maybe it is just us old guys with too much time on our hands and no audience that will pay attention to us anymore.   Just want my grandkids to have a country that will seek, search, dare, have moral fiber and a very strong sense of right and wrong.  Everything is not morally equivalent.

Time for some more reading and learning.  I have found that even a not so good history book will always have a few nuggets worth knowing.

Someone blow out the candle.

God Bless, olcranky

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Historical Note or Tomorrow’s Headline

Imagine if you will a sophisticated society with a form of democratic government.  It is far from perfect but there is no king or autocrat running things.   The elites mostly run things but they are very sensitive to the mood and temper of the “man on the street”.  Indeed the average Joe has some say so in the running of government even though it is indirect.  They do get to elect representatives even if those representatives are from the upper crust only.  But those reps to have a powerful tool in being able to veto almost any legislation from the upper chamber were the elites initiate all laws.  This hoi polloi is called out on lots of occasions to riot in the streets on behalf of one political personality or another.  Some come from emotional or ideological convictions and then there are others who turn out because they have been hired to do so by one of the leaders of the senate.

Now in that upper chamber imagine there are several competing factions.  Each is “led” by a senator of eloquence and influence.  Those senators have usually distinguished themselves through military service or accumulating great wealth.  Each develops their own following.  They have “clients” and they are the patron.  The clients agree to support they goals whatever they may be and in return the patron offers them positions and advantages when the opportunity arises.  Both are honor bound to do so and also compelled to do the bidding of the other because know one else would have them since it is publicly known they are pledged to a particular patron.  The patron won’t ask for something often but a request made can’t be refused, a la Godfather style.

Discord and disagreement is rampant and there is no apparent room for compromise between various factions governed by the leading Patrons.  The street violence is rising and tension mounts every day.  Now the most famous and one of the most influential of these senators is rising high in most public esteem and even among many of his fellow senators.  He has a strong following among the street crowd and wants to greatly expand the franchise and distribute public land to veterans of whom he led many.  He is viciously and vehemently opposed by many of his fellows.  They hate his populist appeal, they hate and envy him personally.  It is visceral.

A group of his opponents decide that for the good of society, and themselves and their power, that he must be assassinated.  They don’t do it in the dark of the night or make any attempt to hide their actions.  They all join in the killing on the steps of the capital and slay the famous celebrity.  They don’t immediately flee.  Indeed some tout the act publicly, others try  to slip away quietly.  The immediate reaction from the elites and the street is a mixed bag.  Some celebrate the death openly many others bewail and bemoan the death.  The victim is portrayed by some as a wanna be tyrant, others praise him as a possible savior of the land.

That all really happened in 44 BC to Caesar.  There was anguish and confusion  and riots on the streets for a while as various factions and supporters of Caesar and his opponents jockeyed for public support among both the elites and the “head count” as the ordinary joes were known.  Ultimately civil war broke out.  You know most of that story if you’ve seen Cleopatra at the movie house. Augustus, a nephew of Caesar, and Mark Antony, a former war companion of Caesar in Gaul, went toe to toe.  It was bloody and a fight to the finish.  As you know Augustus was the victor and Rome indeed rose even higher for several more centuries.  What might have destroyed Rome did not.  Its basic institutions and culture allowed it not only to endure the strife but to actually flourish even more.

America–whither thou goest?

A rosy sunrise is an inspiring and wonderful time for morning prayers.  Those coral skies aren’t just an accident of atoms and photons.  God Bless,



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Correlation Isn’t Causation

How often is the title ignored?   The media is filled constantly with some alleged research that “proves” , “shows”, or “research confirms”  that such and such is a consequence of a particular series of events.  You see a lot this these days because of the virus scare but it is and has been a pervasive factor is reporting for decades.  A very popular example are the series of books by that Gladwell fellow.  I have read a couple just for giggles and in my opinion that is about all they are worth.

Some psychologists or anthropologist will conduct a survey and definitively conclude that children with one green eye and one blue eye are 30% more likely to be left-handed.  Thus subject to an inherent bias by society against those who operate from the distaff side of things.  If you haven’t lived with a lefty then you have no idea how much  everything around the house changes when the lefty is going about the daily routine.  Even after 58 years with my child bride I still am turning everything around in the fridge, the bathroom cabinets and countertops.  They insist on putting everything away backwards.  Even the items on the clothes hangers are on backwards.  She doesn’t get it and gives me the evil eye when she sees me reversing things back to the “normal” setting.

You can find a “correlation” to almost anything and everything if you look long enough and measure enough and of course slant it with your preconceived notions.  Look hard and you’ll find some ratio between this and that and might even be able to replicate the ratio.  But does that prove anything?

What if I made a thorough and detailed survey of honey bees and multi-millionaires.  I mean I checked every last one of those bees and those rich folks.  As a result of that survey I found that 77.3 percent of the multi-millionaires had 83.1 percent more honey bees on their property than those of the median income.  Does that mean that if you run out and buy a couple of honey bee hives and put them in your back yard that you have significantly increased your odds of becoming a millionaire?  The correlation may be absolutely correct and true and capable of meeting the scientific method requiring replication of an experiment.  But do the honey bees cause wealth?

Yet over and over you will see misleading, at best, comments from the “experts” of all stripes that use a correlation and “sell” it to the public as a causation.  This is especially true when it comes to demographic and social studies.  So when you next see some article or tv commentary comparing one thing to another and implying or stating that x caused y please think a moment and make your own determination whether x caused y or x is merely correlated to y in some mathematical way that proves nothing other than a math curiosity.

Mary Todd Lincoln’s youngest brother and three stepbrothers all fought for the Confederacy.  None were slaveholders.  It was a more complicated war than headline news.

God bless from olcranky

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Verbal Irritants

Don’t know about you but I have really gotten fed up with certain repeated verbs, expressions and idioms that are constantly bandied about in the media.  I dread watching so much of the news regardless of network or delivery system because my ears and brain are offended by such banal, self serving and jejune words and usages.  They are the verbal equivalent of “you know” or worse because they seek to imply some arcane “coolness” that only the select know how to use.  In no particular order, these are some of the language barbarities I detest.

“Hey”,,,,,can any reporter, anywhere begin his broadcast segment without that word  back to whoever it was that called on them to give an update, report or alleged insight.  What are they?  A bunch of 13 year old Valley girls?  Just start speaking like an adult talking to another adult.

“That’s a good question”,,,,Again what a waste of human breath.  The listener is far more interested in what the response is going to be and such an expression is a classic waste of time and words.  Furthermore a listener might not agree it is a good question.  Maybe it is a “when did you stop beating your wife” setup.  It might even be a really dumb question but Lord help us if ever a responding person were to say that on the air.  All questions are not created equal.

“So”,,,,where to even start with that one.  Does every sentence have to start with that exclamation or whatever it is supposed to be.  Have our linguistic skills diminished so low?  Simply state what the facts are or what is on your mind.  That start is as bad as an “er” or “huh”.

“At the end of the day”,,,,It is a fine old English phrase that only became popular during the first Gulf War when we had the Brits as our strong ally against Saddam.  It was used often by the British military leaders interviewed on CNN and other networks and I can only venture that some of the journalist thought it sounded very sophisticated and adopted it.  How about “when all is said and done” or the “denouement” as a substitute like a little yeast in the verbiage.

“Bombshell”,,,,We have allegedly had so many bombshells the last several years that you would think the landscape must resemble the Somme battlefield.  I am advising the producers of all network news programming that the selected headline lead for the day is very much not likely to be significant in a matter of days.  Just report the news please and let us decide to importance of the event.  The media needs to be far, far more humble.  Such use of the term is weak journalism and can be quite deceptive.  Let the power of the actual story or events speak for themselves.  We don’t need cue cards prompting our response from the wings of the stage.

English is a beautiful language and incredibly versatile when used correctly.  Shakespeare, King James Version, Milton, Updike, Hemmingway, Melville.  Or just read the Federalist Papers for succinct and well organized arguments.  I deplore the lowering of the bar to the carnival language we see and hear now.  Newscast language should edify and please the ear and eye.

The barbarians are at the gates and they carry press badges.

My great granny Hickey must have been a pretty tough and resilient little gal to escape the destruction of Sherman’s march through Macon, Ga.  Else I wouldn’t be here.  Thanks granny and I still remember those bonnets you always wore.

God Bless,  olcranky


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Defeat of Evil

In the 1960’s  I was privileged to have the acquaintance of a WWII survivor of the Bataan Death March and three years as a prisoner of the Japanese.  He worked for the NM Highway Commission where I was working in the legal department as a young lawyer.  He was called to mind as I listened to a NPR segment this morning about the bombing of Hiroshima.  It was a pure propaganda piece about the evil of the US killing so many civilians that day and related how it was a war crime by current definitions.  No historical context whatsoever or any mention of the savagery of the Japanese during the entire course of the War.  A man from Mars listening would have thought there was some minor dispute with the sons of Nippon and we decided to slaughter as many as we could without any regard to the moral context of the War.  The report angered me and was a vilification of so many young boys of ours who fought that terrible foe.

Seventy-five years ago Colonel Paul Tibbets and his crew set off for the fateful mission.  There were three B-29s on the run; one for the bombing, one with photographic crews and one with measurement instruments.  The flight was accompanied for much of the flight by P-51 mustangs.  Everyone was young.  In their twenty’s and a few in their 30’s.   They only knew they were carrying a really big bomb.  That was all they needed to know for security reasons.  The bomb worked, some thought it would malfunction.  Thousands of Japanese were killed but actually less than those that died a few months earlier during the fire bombing of Tokyo with incendiary explosives.  It was comparable to the fire bombings of Hamburg and Dresden in Germany from a bit earlier in the War in terms of destruction and civilian deaths.  A recent biographer of Tibbets related how he got interested in the Tibbets story because when he was a young boy he and his dad were walking down the street of the Ohio town where they and Tibbets lived.  His dad when he saw Tibbets remarked to his son that “there is the man who saved my life”.  His dad was one of millions scheduled for the invasion of Japanese homelands.

We were in a total war, winner take all.  Decent civilization needed to defeat the Nazis and the Japanese.  This was not a college debate.  The Japanese killed literally untold millions of Chinese and Koreans.  Remember the Rape of Nanking.  They enslaved millions and treated them like cattle.

The man mentioned I knew told me of some of his pains and sufferings during the War at the hands of the Japanese.  It is one thing to read about such events but entirely another to sit with someone who had to endure the cruelty and inhumane treatment at the hands of the Japanese.  I was very cautious about how I approached the topic because I realized that remembering those events could be quite unpleasant and disturbing.  I would just ask general questions about when he joined, when they shipped out to the Philippines.  I let him go to the imprisonment when he wanted and how he wanted.  I still wonder at how he even survived.  It was as bad or worse than those scenes for the “Unbroken” book and movie.  I did tell him I regretted deeply the suffering and pain he endured and greatly appreciated the sacrifice he and all the others made for us who never had to make such sacrifices. I wish I could have made my gratitude even more apparent.  If the bomb had not brought and end to the War my dad would have been part of that invasion and battle for Japan.  He was recovering from an injury on Enewetak island at San Diego when the bomb was dropped.  But he was a trained gunner’s mate and for sure that fall would have been re-assigned to the invasion force.  He was already trained and experienced.  I am glad he did not have to go.   All the vets I talked to or listened to including my uncles and dad’s friends were to a man thrilled we used the bomb and that they didn’t have to invade Japan.  The Japanese had already formulated their defense plan for the home islands.  It called for mass suicide attacks by everyone, not just the military.  They had thousands of kami kaze planes still available and miniature suicide subs to attack ships.   At Okinawa about 5000 sailors were killed and tens of thousands of marines and soldiers.   Estimates for our casualties to invade the home islands were 250,000 dead and some estimates were higher still.

War is brutal, nasty and always to be regretted.  But sometimes necessary to preserve decency, civility, and some common sense of morality.  And to defeat evil.  Japan was a pure evil empire.

“when a thing is done, even a fool sees it”—-Homer



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Many of us have memories of the various “firsts” in our lives.   Some of those memories and events are quite mundane to the world in general but can have powerful emotional pull for us as individuals.  I was blessed with great parents so my negative memories are mercifully few and none related to them.  My negative memories were all of my own making and foolish decisions.

My first Christmas memory was when I was about 4 I would reckon.  We lived in a duplex on Monticello in Oak Cliff.  I got a train set.  It was the old fashion kind made out of really heavy metal.  It had an engine and several cars and my dad had it all set up when I came down stairs that morning.  I loved running that train round and round and in a figure eight.  That was all the track I had.  I am sure they are all wireless these days but then it had a big box with wires to the track and a switch that controlled the amount of electric juice to the track that controlled the speed.

I do remember my first day at school when I was allowed to go home by myself.  Mom had walked me there and picked me up for a few days.  School was about a mile or so from home.  That first time I decided to walk  home with a buddy.  I said we went this way and he said another.  After a few blocks I realized I was wrong and headed into a strange neighborhood.  We backtracked to school and started over.  He was right about the direction.  Good lesson in humility at an early age.  Mom was waiting for me at the corner off Edgefield and our street.

When I started to school it was from our first house that we owned.  It was on Savoy street in a neighborhood where the developer had served during the War.  Most of the streets were named after battle sites in Italy and north Africa–Bizerte, Anzio, Salerno etc.  Dad and mom were really proud of that house.  Today it would be considered very lower middle class at best.  It was two bedrooms, one bath and maybe 900 square feet at most.  It had one of those faux fireplaces in the living room.  The were popular then to give the house an upscale look.  It had an inset in the wall and a very small mantle over it.  In the inset we had a gas space heater with the fake logs.  I am sure today they would not meet code.  The gas line was just an exposed hose running from the gas outlet to the heater.  You turned the knob to let the gas flow and lit it with a match.  We thought it was top drawer. On winter days if you got within a few feet of it you could feel the warmth.  Once my brother got too close and caught his pjs or robe on fire.  But not to worry his yelps brought rescue quickly.

First car with air conditioning was probably our ’56 Chevy.  Prior to that all the cars had vents in the front fender panels you could open to let in the air on your legs and all the cars had small windows on the driver side and passenger side to adjust the air flow from outside on hot days and there were many of those.  First car with automatic transmission was I think the Chrysler New Yorker, a ’49 model.  That was also quite an advance at the time and the auto manufacturers had special catchy names for their transmissions, like “Powerglide”.  My first car and even second car were still manual transmissions.  The old Ford convertible, a ’46 model I got in 7th grade and then a maroon Buick.  The Buick transmission was funky.  I had to hold it in place for second gear or else it would slip out every time.  So sometimes my start from a red light was a bit awkward.  You guys know how to hold the clutch just right at a light on a hill so the car doesn’t roll back?  Each clutch was a bit different and you had to adjust the pressure on the pedal.  My wife’s first car was a ’54 Chevy with auto transmission.  She had it in high school and we were still driving it when I started law school.  It was some kind of rosy and cream color.  First car with seat belts would have been the Ford station wagon I suppose in early ’70’s.  The Volkswagons in the ’60’s for sure didn’t have them, the Karman Ghia, the van and two bugs.

I must be wearing you out.  I’ll hang it up for now. Maybe more memories another day.

Nothing is more important than family.  It is the tie that binds.

God bless,


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American Pioneer Spirit

I don’t maintain that each and every frontiersman or pioneer was pure of spirit and completely noble of intent as they made their way West.   Sam Houston, Davy Crocket and Jim Bowie come to mind.  They like many others headed West because of trouble back home.  They were leaving behind failure of one kind or another.  Sometimes it was failed politics, failed marriages, creditors or the law.  But even with those flaws they did help to build something that we benefit from even today.

I recommend for your edification the Turner Thesis.  My child bride and I both had to study it in our respective courses in the American West.  It is short but quite persuasive in its main argument that America, its spirit and zeitgeist, its economic progress was mostly influenced by our march West.  It would seem at a glance to be at odds with all the progress that had its birth in the East, the coastal areas of the country.  After all that was where the industrial revolution thrived.  The telegraph, telephone, railroads, steamboats, steam engines, Bessemer steel and so many, many other improvements had their birth.  In spite of that fact the West is what drove us to always seek that progress.  The West included what we think of now as Appalachia and the western range of those mountains.  Daniel Boone and his ilk kept moving the boundaries.  Sure they did it for hoped for profits but they did it for more than that.  You don’t endure what they did merely for money.  All our early leaders were real estate developers in one way or another–Washington, Franklin,  Jackson, Jefferson and so many others invested in or surveyed lands to the West.

In their thousands, then hundreds of thousands they moved from the relative safety and comfort of the East and headed West, whether to early Ohio, then Illinois, Nebraska, Colorado and then the Pacific coast.   There may have been law there but no or very limited law enforcement.  No doctors, USDA, food stamps, social security and  only primitive and sparse trails, not  roads.  You were on your own.  The axle broke on your wagon you had to figure out how to get it fixed yourself.  There was no AAA to call.  Pirates on the Ohio river and Mississippi and bandits might lurk around the next curve in the road.  Of course you also had to contend with the Indians.

But out West your could become what you wanted to be if you had the talent, tenacity and gumption.  You could be a lawyer a la Lincoln or an architect, doctor or lawman, like Earp.  You could acquire cheap land but then the hard part came because you had to make it arable and profitable.

They had a saying about the people who made it West and those who didn’t.  The timid never even started the journey West and the weak in body or spirit died on the way West.  They truly were those Americans that had an individualistic attitude.  They were all John Waynes in one way or another.  They darn sure weren’t counting on the Government to take care of them and many didn’t want to the Government in their lives.  They were resilient. Remember “faint heart never won lady fair”. They sought the freedom to fail or succeed on their own.  Many of their grandchildren won WWII.   With their faults and shortcomings I am still very proud they set an example for future Americans.

At our core do we still have that pioneering spirit and the Sinatra slogan of “doing it my way”? I for one would rather be that lone wolf managing for myself than the sheep “protected” by the shepherd.

Bad company makes for bad morals.  Paul, 1st Corinthians.

God bless to all,


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Criminal Law in a Civil Society

From the earliest recorded history society in whatever form established some sort of criminal code.  The Bible is a good example in the Pentateuch and you will find other early outlines of what is considered criminal from Sumerian and Babylonian eras.   As soon as we became a settled agricultural people and built cities he need for those prohibitions became evident.  Of course in those earliest days it was the King or local ruler of whatever description that set the rules.  But even in that autocratic system the King did try to set forth criminal rules that were to the benefit of those he ruled.  Even the most despotic ruler wants his folks to prosper and have security.  In exchange for his steel grip rule he promised safety.  The King didn’t want to rule over a mob.  He would want tranquility himself.  So even though the King was the big banana and had all the clout those criminal laws were a true reflection of the overall desire of society to have some order and procedures for dealing with the murderers or rapist or thieves in their midst.  If the King let the criminals roam freely without consequence then what was he ruling over?  And importantly to him, could he continue to rule in such a society.

Even though society then and now might be rough around the edges, society does want and need a criminal code and established procedures for trial and punishment.  A crime is against society even though the victim is an individual.  If you are the victim of a brutal assault by thugs it is a crime against society.  You probably have never thought about it or cared but  the formal indictments today against the accused are brought by the State.  You seen in those cop shows where some victim won’t testify for fear or they been bribed and the prosecution drops the case.  But that is not always what happens.  Remember you are the victim but the offended entity is the State.  Occasionally it happens that some victim doesn’t want to bring a case but the prosecution will proceed anyway.

A  real indictment reads “The State of Texas (or others) vs. Joe Blow”.  It is not your name versus Joe Blow.  The indictment is the first thing presented to a jury in a criminal case after the jury has been sworn and seated.  Most DAs just read through it like a weather report.  I remember one local DA who read his very deliberately like Act Three from Hamlet.  Lot of fellas thought it was corny and not persuasive.  I had to defend a few when he was the lead prosecutor and frankly I thought it was pretty darn effective.  I think it made the jury realize they were part of something important even if the alleged crime was relatively minor. The indictment will set out the time of the crime if known and the details of the assault, in this hypothetical.  It will  conclude something along the lines of “and against  the peace and dignity of the State of Texas.”  Again you see it is society that has been abused and offended not just you.

Our society in the US like all others is either guided by a profound respect for the law or submissive to coercion in whatever form.  As a society we renew that commitment to law and order daily or not.  How a society decides what is lawful or unlawful we will leave for another day.  Your attention span can only handle so much.

Why is it that the darn bermuda grass will not grow and spread in the bald spots in my yard but sprouts up in every dagburn crack in the sidewalk?

Is that fresh coffee I smell?

God Bless,



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Republican Government

Article Four, Section 4 of the Constitution reads in part as follows  “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government,…”.  Just a little known and rarely discussed provision in the document.  I have searched and can’t  find any extensive exposition of that section in the Federalist Papers and only a brief passing reference once by Lincoln.  In those very brief comments the thrust is such provision would relate to domestic insurrection or disturbance.

I have not done any new legal research, after all I am a man of leisure these days and above such mundane requirements.  But I do recall from my Con Law class there was only one case I remember that concerned this provision.  Maybe there were fifty but I don’t think so.   In fact would bet real money on that.  There was a case that arose from some challenge to the Nebraska legislative scheme.  It has a unicameral legislative system.  Someone was unhappy about that and took it to court.  I do not recall if the case made it to the Supremes.  But that doesn’t really matter in the grand view of things.  The Federal judiciary essentially punted on the case.  It did uphold the Nebraska form of government but did not chart out the requirements for republican governmental form as they so often do.  They made clear that the State legislatures would have great latitude in the establishment of their ruling legislative bodies.  The case assumed there was a functioning State government.

But with recent events in Seattle and Portland one should have pause about the invocation of this provision by the Federal government.  It would not be hard to imagine officials or ordinary joes calling on the Feds to “restore” order.   They could quite reasonably allege that the rule of law had collapsed and that the mob was ruling the day and that the citizens no longer had a Republican form of government.  It is not a stretch to imagine legislators or Governors being physically intimated or threatened by the mob and thereby thwarting the normal functioning of Government.  You might have a Governor who decides for personal safety or political calculation that it is best to join the mob and rule by executive order (decree) and dismiss the legislators.  History is replete with such occurrences so don’t just dismiss that notion.  Many happened within the last century.  When the mob takes over is there a Republican form of government any more?

Frankly I am not sure the Judiciary would have a proper rule if the citizens of a State asked for Federal help to restore order and provide for a Republican form of government.  Even if you argue that it would have a role, would circumstances and the violence supersede any deliberation of the Court?  Exigencies might well cause any ruling of the Court to be ignored.  Just as Lincoln did when he ignored the Court’s ruling on Habeas Corpus for the Maryland legislators at the beginning of the War Between the States.

It has never been invoked that I know of for domestic disturbance but there is always the first time.  I do worry about it down the road.  When you have one party in control of the executive and legislative branches and the majority of the States and some minority party  is protesting and demonstrating in a State they still control politically will that majority manufacture a “crisis” and answer the call for a republican form of government there with military force?

I don’t know the future but I can read and know a little history.  If you think no politician would ever take advantage of such a call to “help” people have a republican form of government when it would benefit his prospects and his party, then you know a completely different brand of politicians than I do.

That provision means something.  It can’t just be brushed off.  I don’t like the idea of that provision being invoked by anyone.   But it probably will some day.  If we can think it we will do it at some point.  Ponder this.

Ok,,,,cynical lesson of the day done.

God Bless,


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