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As far as I know, the most famous and ruthless gangster of all time has to be Al Capone. In the movie The Untouchables, a disloyal Lieutenant was beaten to death with a baseball bat by none other than Al Capone. So, I feel pretty confident that if I had spit in Al Capone’s Cheerios, there would be some serious and harsh consequences, like my death. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner chief, did exactly that to Vladimir Putin. Several months ago, Prigozhin took his army of mercenaries and marched to Moscow. This was a coup attempt. He had little or no resistance. Suddenly, just hours from Moscow, he turned the convoy around and announced that the conflict had been resolved. What? We all knew how this was going to end. No, he wasn’t beaten to death with a baseball bat, but a plane that he was on mysteriously blew up. To misquote Thanos from the Avengers – his untimely death was inevitable. Vladimir Putin is a gangster. He is ruthless. He has proven his willingness to assassinate enemies. Yevgeny Prigozhin knew better than to challenge Vladimir Putin. Personally, I feel sorry for the other passengers on the plane. They were collateral damage.

Donald J. Trump has been indicted for the fourth time in five months. He has been booked. He has been fingerprinted. His mug shot has been plastered all over the Internet. Once again, following the proceedings, he held a press conference where he, once again, declared himself innocent. Somehow, this indictment is different. This is not a federal indictment, but instead, it is a state indictment. This is the state of Georgia.

In essence, Donald Trump and 18 co-conspirators have been indicted for their efforts to try to overturn the election in Georgia. Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, has been investigating this issue for more than a year. She is an experienced prosecutor. This is a complicated case that will take time to wind through the courts. Yet, it has the potential to be the most devastating against Donald Trump.

To me, the bigger question is the 14th Amendment. Specifically, section 3 of the 14th amendment states: No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

As far as I know, the 14th Amendment has not been repealed. It is still active in our Constitution, and therefore, it is a law that we abide by. If we believe that Donald Trump instigated or participated in the insurrection on January 6th, then we are obligated to remove him from every presidential ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This isn’t a choice. It’s an obligation. We are a nation of laws. We follow the law. It is really that simple.

The bigger question is how? How do we follow the law? One of the large misconceptions is that Donald Trump needs to be proven to be an insurrectionist in a court of law. This is not true. The House committee proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Donald Trump and others participated in the insurrection on January 6th. This is our proof. The 14th Amendment has satisfied the committee. Now, I think that any American citizen can petition the courts to remove Donald Trump and other insurrectionists from the ballot. Unfortunately, we must do this one state at a time. For example, a lawyer in Florida has filed a case in the Southern District of Florida that is asking for Donald Trump to be disqualified and removed from the ballot. No matter how this case is decided, I suspect it will go through the courts and finally end up in the Supreme Court. Now, this will test our system! Should the justices that were appointed to the Supreme Court by Donald Trump recuse themselves for conflicts of interest? This is going to get really interesting.

By |2023-11-12T15:15:49-04:00November 12th, 2023|Party Politics, Sports|Comments Off on Disqualified

Life is Precious

Although I wrote this a couple of months ago, it really is still very relevant. There is a guy on the loose in Maine who killed 17 and wounded dozens.

OceanGate is a company that took paying tourists to see the wreckage of the Titanic. Yes, tourists would pay $250,000 for the privilege of seeing, up close, a ship that sank over 100 years ago.

By now, everyone knows that the submersible Titan imploded, and all five passengers died. Life is precious. These five souls understood the risks and decided that the risks were worth taking.

Okay. I have to respect their decision. That is not a decision that I would make. I’m not climbing Mount Everest. There are people who have flown with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to outer space. Nope, I’m not doing that, either. Even if I had $250,000 sitting around, I think that I could find something else to do with it that didn’t involve me defying death.

I guess the thing that I find most remarkable about OceanGate was the fly-by-night nature of the operation. If I’m going to go into a submersible to the bottom of the ocean where the pressure can be as much as 2 tons per square inch, I would want the most high-tech submersible on the planet. If you are using an Xbox controller to steer the sub, which they were, I’m sorry. I’m out.

We saw an extraordinary event last month. Putin’s close confidant Yevgeny Prigozhin suddenly turned against him. Prigozhin was once nobody. He was a prisoner. On release, he opened a hot dog stand. That grew into a chain, and then he became Vladimir Putin’s chef—and got contracts to feed the entire Russian army. Somehow, using that Kremlin money and Kremlin cronies, he became the head of the Wagner group, a fighting force that is not officially part of the Kremlin or the Russian Army—in other words, a privately owned military force.

Yevgeny Prigozhin has been an outspoken critic of the Russian Army. Yet he was being pushed aside by the secretary of defense and ultimately by Vladimir Putin himself. All the Wagner soldiers were forced to sign onto the “regular” Army. This single move would leave Prigozhin with nothing.

So he decided to take his Army of over 20,000 men and march on Moscow, getting within 125 miles of the Kremlin. The president of Belarus negotiated peace between Vladimir Putin and Yevgeny Prigozhin. As quickly as the display of force rose up, it was gone. Does this mean that Vladimir Putin is weaker than ever? I don’t think that we know. The whole thing is weird. Just weird. I guess what Winston Churchill said about the Soviet Union in 1939 is still true of Putin’s Russia: “A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

By |2023-10-28T12:03:11-04:00October 27th, 2023|Domestic Issues, Supreme court|Comments Off on Life is Precious

News Roundup – Aaron Hernandez, Edward Snowden, The Voting Rights Act

I wish I were able to find something intelligent and thoughtful to say about Aaron Hernandez. To those of who you don’t follow football, or even sports for that matter, Aaron Hernandez is the All-Star tight end for the New England Patriots. Two years ago, it could be argued that Aaron Hernandez, along with his partner, fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski, revolutionized the NFL. Most of the time, when a team comes out with two tight ends, they’re showing you their running formation. Both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are relatively fast. They run good routes and they have good hands. Suddenly, teams don’t know if the Patriots were going to run the ball or pass the ball. Injuries to both tight ends really hurt the New England Patriots last year. Right now, I have nothing intelligent to say about the fact that Aaron Hernandez appears to be embroiled in a murder investigation. All I know is that if I were a 23-year-old football star earning millions of dollars to play a game, I would do everything I could to make sure that I could play that game as long as I possibly could.

Oh my goodness, could we give it a rest!!! Every time I turn on the radio or TV somebody’s talking about Edward Snowden (here, here, here, here there’s more). Where is he? Why did he leave Hong Kong? Why is he in Moscow? Why didn’t he make his plane? I don’t care. Seriously. I really don’t care. Between today and yesterday, I was listing to progressive radio and I heard callers, on one hand, praise Edward Snowden as one of the greatest Americans since George Washington. On the other hand, another caller was badmouthing him for giving secrets to the Russians. People, get a grip. Right now, all we know is that Edward Sowden was smart enough to get a job working for some company that was contracted by the NSA. We also know that he’s taken some sort of technology. He is told us that our government has the ability to spy on us with little or no provocation. That is it. I’m sorry, I don’t know if he’s a good guy or a bad guy. I wish I knew. I wish I could get caught up in this frenzy and either erect a statue to Snowden in my front yard or to start burning effigies of him. I don’t know. Do you? (By the way, don’t listen to the mainstream media. They don’t know either.)

When I first moved to North Carolina back in 2005, I was surprised at how easy it was to vote. I didn’t need to give a pint of blood. I really didn’t even need my voter registration card. I went in and I gave them my name. They looked me up and asked me to verify my address and that was it. I was ready to vote. I did not have to vote on a specific day. I had several days, actually a couple weeks in which I could vote. It was easy. That is thanks to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now, like the Andy Griffith Show, those days are gone. Today, the conservative justices on the Supreme Court earned their pay. It has been 50 years since the Voting Rights Act passed and conservatives have been plotting to kill it ever since. So, today, instead of killing the whole Voting Rights Act, they decided to simply gut the middle of it. Andrew Koppelman wrote, “The Supreme Court has a long history of declaring that the problem of racism in the United States has been solved. It did that in a series of decisions just after the Civil War, striking down civil-rights and anti-lynching laws and paving the way for decades of racial segregation. And today it has just done it again.” I agree with him 100%. He goes on to say, “The fact that things have gotten better hardly means that the act is no longer necessary. It may just mean that it is operating successfully. Ginsburg writes: “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” Still more, “When it struck down the lynch laws in the 1880s, the court lectured Congress on the need to rewrite its statutes to comport with previously unheard-of constitutional limitations. No rewriting occurred. There was no more Federal civil-rights legislation until 1957.”  Professor Koppelman is correct. He knocks it out of the park. To be honest, I don’t see any easy fixes. I don’t see Congress rushing to the rescue because there are enough conservatives in the House to prevent any meaningful legislation to pass. Our best bet is to take back the House in 2014. I’m not sure how we can do that if the ballot box is stuffed against us.

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