Saturday, July 24, 2021
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Teddy Goodson


Why Governor McAuliffe Needs Ralph Northam as Lt. Governor

Democrats need to think more than one move ahead. If we can see to it that Terry McAuliffe becomes Virginia's next Governor, then we have to see to it that he is a successful Governor, that his brilliant agenda is enacted by the legislature---- and not stymied by the usual (mostly)  Republican obstructionism. That means that Governor McAuliffe needs a Lieutenant Governor who, as President of the Senate, knows the ropes, understands how to work with the rampant Senatorial egos on both sides of the aisle, who knows how to manipulate Senate rules, who knows where the bodies are buried (so to speak, of course) --- and who is not following his own agenda, sparking ideas right and left, in what could well amount to a rival program.

McAuliffe, hyper-active and brimming with energy himself, needs someone calm and experienced presiding over the Senate, someone who can be an anchor, a steady hand capable of pushing through what will undoubtedly be red-flag-anathema legislation to conservatives, and that clearly is Senator Ralph Northam. Without a politically experienced hand at the helm of the Senate, McAuliffe's agenda could well be toast.

I understand progressives' fascination with Aneesh Chopra,  I feel the same pull myself, I understand how Chopra wants to re-define the office of Lt. Governor, and agree with him in that respect. He is brilliant, with stunning new ideas---- just not right now for this election.  There should be a place for him in the McAuliffe administration, and I believe he should eventually serve Virginia in state-wide elected office, he is too valuable to waste.  

The 2nd Amendment Reincarnated, and What Happens Next? Part II

In Part One we traced the17th century English roots of the Second Amendment and how they were modified in the 18th century by one of our Founders, James Madison, who, in the American Bill of Rights, crafted the Second Amendment mainly to protect the Southern states' militias (frequently used as "slave patrols"), making it yet another of those delicate political compromises which underpin our Constitution.

In the 21st century, the Amendment's "well regulated Militia" and "right to keep and bear Arms," has been broadened from a "collective right" into a demand for an "individual right" to unlimited firepower in the hands of private citizens, mostly thanks to lobbying by the National Rifle Association. The unspoken hidden subset of this individual right is the right to insurrection (against the national government). Without the insurrection theory there can be no rationale for a civilian in America to own an arsenal of assault weapons with huge magazines.

I believe it is easy to see the continuance of those Southern state militias, that is slave patrols, in the night riders of the KKK, and in most of the skin-head militias today; the insurrectionist theory is in full bloom among today's states' righters. They vigorously deny any racism, but are clearly the heirs of the plantation culture of the original states' righters in Philadelphia in 1787 in their deep suspicion of the federal government. For most of them, their new home is in the Republican Party and its fringes.

The 2nd Amendment: Where Did It Come From, What Does It Mean Today?


Today's American NRA gun enthusiasts and their opponents, gun control advocates, are parsing every word (and comma) of the Second Amendment to make their cases, and thus determine public safety policy. We are even presented with re-written history and made-up historical narratives, based on twenty-seven words:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

To most Americans, these words conjure up visions of minutemen rushing to the defense of liberty at Lexington and Concord; it is assumed that must be why the Founders inserted a "well-regulated" militia in The Bill of Rights. This misleading myth has cooked in the American collective consciousness for years, reflecting  what Dr. Carl Bogus, writing in the 1998 UC-Davis Law Review called the judicial  "collective rights" theory, in which the Second Amendment "grants people a right to keep and bear arms only within the state-regulated militia."

Public Safety and Personal Responsibility

The debate about gun control has raised the usual themes, centering around the Second Amendment and the sacred right of a free citizenry to bear arms versus the outraged sentiments of victims of gun violence and their loved ones--- a debate  with such limited parameters that it could take place nowhere  else in the world but in the  United States of America. Every time we have another mass carnage, Second Amendment buffs immediately claim the answer is to arm everyone, so the "deranged" shooter could be stopped in his tracks by a well-armed good guy... thus turning a settled, civilized society into a Wild West shoot out. "Guns are the answer to more guns." If this sounds counter-intuitive, that's because it is.

What's missing from the debate are two other bedrock myths beloved by conservatives: personal responsibility, and the profit motive--- two equally sacred themes running through American political discourse. Consider how the conservatives demand that people take "personal responsibility" for their retirement, think about the "makers" and "takers" and how the right wing dismisses the poor as slackers. Also, consider how they believe that everything society needs can be provided by private enterprise for a profit---- if there is no profit to be had, then society must not need it. We use taxes and tax loopholes to encourage behavior we think beneficial for society as a whole. So, why not apply these principles to the gun debate?

Why Is The Government Not Working?

Did anyone seriously believe the election would end the partisan rancor, or that gridlock would melt away now that the voters have spoken?  Of course not.  It is status quo ante.... and this situation will continue for the foreseeable future, because the Republican Party has been travelling a road for 30+ years which has led them to this destination. They have left behind the practical pragmatism which created the American experiment in self-government, and made it work for over 200 years through ad hoc compromises and a willingness to abide by the results of fixed-term elections. The Republican Party is now ideologically no longer disposed to participate in a meaningful way in a congressional system based on popular free elections, one in which they are expected to cooperate with another party in governing the country, win or lose.

That pragmatic set-up has apparently run its course. It has collided with the non-negotiable demands of the modern Republican party, a party convinced it alone is possessed of the holy Truth, about which it would be a fatal mistake to compromise, if not an outright sin. To a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, all other parties are unpatriotic and have no legitimacy. That is, Republicans are no longer simply a traditional "conservative" party; they appear to be both authoritarian and more like a religious cult than a political party. Most observers have been reluctant to come right out and say it, but the truth is, the dominant faction in today's Republican Party can only be described as an American version of fascism.


It must be driving Republican operatives nuts:

Why does the good Lord keep arranging black swans to swim suddenly into view to lend Barack Obama a helpful nudge? How else to explain the two latest----the arrival of Hurricane Sandy just in the nick of time, enabling him to pose theatrically as a competent, caring President (such an obvious contrast to Republican George W. Bush and Katrina), thus providing an unfair boost before the final poll in November, the only poll that counts? Even worse, the weather then turned out fine all day on November 6th, so all those people-not-like-real-white-Americans got to the polls in time, and had no inclement weather to discourage their standing in line, waiting to vote.... Why couldn't Sandy have arrived a few days later?

And now, the fiscal cliff! No matter how hard Speaker Boehner tries, he cannot seem to convince the country that Obama is not negotiating in good faith, and that Obama is really the one who is forcing America over the cliff and into another recession. Once again, Obamaluck holds. Almost everyone in America has just  seen the movie "Lincoln," which is all about  how President Lincoln managed to push the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution  abolishing slavery through Congress in 1865 near the end of the  Civil War. Almost every viewer has the same take-away; they saw how Lincoln never compromised his principles, never negotiated away any significant morsel, but instead used extreme political jiu jitsu to collect the votes he needed to achieve his greater purpose. So now, the public cannot be spun by Boehner into turning on Obama as he hangs tough on the fiscal cliff---- the voters see Obama as Lincoln, fighting for his principles, forcing Tea-Party-Republicans to agree  (oh, the horror!)  to raise the tax rate on the wealthy, while extending tax cuts for the middle class in order ro achieve his "balanced" attack on the deficit. It's enough to make even the staunchest Republican wonder if God is not on their side after all. No wonder Senator DeMint is bailing out. Oh, the horror!

We Do Have a Mandate—- So What?

Congratulations to all the Democratic grassroots, to an outstanding campaign team, and to President Obama and Vice President Biden.  What, exactly did we all win? Democrats still control the executive branch and half of the legislative, and the Republicans still control the other half of the legislative branch (thanks to some exotic redistricting) and the top of the judicial branch, SCOTUS.

You might think Obama's strong win was proof that the voters re-approved his message and his accomplishments in his first term; the election could be regarded as a referendum on Obama and his "liberal" policies. Not so fast. Already, we hear The Establishment pundit class stating in no uncertain terms that we are still a "deeply divided nation," half and half, with the always-to-be-expected insistence that, well, Yes, Obama won, but... but half the country voted for Romney, so, of course Obama must now "move to the middle," and compromise with the losers--- who, remember, lost.  This demand was not, so far as I can remember, imposed upon George W. Bush, who was appointed to his first term not by the voters but by the Supreme Court; he governed as ferociously as if he had received an overwhelming mandate, and charged off down an utterly disastrous road

Subliminal Messages in the First Presidential Debate

Prior to the first debate, many Democrats were metaphorically high-fiving each other, doing a pre-victory dance in the end-zone. After the debate, the revived Republicans powered up their CEO smirk- machine, crowing that their man's aggressive performance buried an obviously weak President, revealing him as an amateur in over his head.  

The next day came one analysis after another from upset liberals, disappointed supporters, and know-it-all pundits, some piling on with criticism of President Obama's "passive" or "listless" performance, some rationalizing that "the President just had a bad day," some pointing out that Obama  plays a masterful "long game," and was giving Romney rope enough to hang himself (witness the new attack ads based on Romney's lie-a-minute self-contradictory statements), and all of them taking note of Romney's rudeness, his bullying behavior, and his refusal to play by the rules. All have agreed that Obama does not debate well, and never has; all have agreed that Romney was hyper-aggressive, domineering, and, some hinted, may have illegally used hidden notes which he smuggled on to his podium (an as-yet-unconfirmed accusation).

Upon reflection, I believe the debate offers two very interesting subliminal narratives, one for each side. They are not mutually exclusive; one, both, or neither may have been deliberately employed, and each delivers a powerful psychological punch, if, as I believe, politics is power, and is a form of warfare.

The Return of Torture As National Policy Under Romney

A chilling article in The New York Times by Charles Savage indicates that, if Romney is elected, he will probably re-institute the "enhanced interrogation" methods approved by President George W. Bush, which Mr. Obama, in one of his first acts as President, abolished by executive order. You will recall these "enhanced" techniques included "prolonged sleep deprivation, shackling into painful 'stress' positions for long periods while naked and in a cold room, slamming into a wall, locking inside a small box, and the suffocation tactic called waterboarding,"  as well as other methods such as slapping, head-grabbing, and withholding solid food (starvation tactic).

The Bush doctrine on torture as national policy, once disclosed, "ignited a heated debate," one in which Republican Senator John McCain tried to codify limits on torture in our domestic statutes, over strenuous objections from the Bush administration. In 2006 the Supreme Court ruled against Bush, holding that the Geneva Conventions applied to wartime al Qaeda prisoners---- but I suspect that some forms of torture did continue under the Bush regime, excused by a kind of picky bureaucratic hair-splitting.

ALEC Announces Recall and Replacement of Romney-bot

In a stunning late night press conference, the Alien Legal Entity Corporation announced the re-call of its premier artificial human, the Romney-bot (also known as ShamMan). Mr. Josh A. Lot, Chief Information Officer at ALEC, said the current Romney-bot, version 2.55, is being replaced overnight by the much enhanced version 3.0. He claimed they expected the transition to be smooth and utterly seamless. A reporter from The Times asked, if this was going from version 2.55 to 3.0, how many earlier versions of Romney-bot had there been, and wouldn't people notice the change?

Mr. Lot smiled a lot, pointing out, "We have had at least 16 versions of our marvelous plastic politician, and the general public has never noticed when we modified or replaced one version with another, so it will be no different this time. " He distributed copies of a condensed "Story of Romney-Bot" to the press corps:

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