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we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.
AP’s Today in History for February 25th
Ferdinand Marcos flees the Philippines; Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounces Josef Stalin; Samuel Colt patents the revolver; Muhammad Ali becomes world boxing champ; Musician George Harrison born.
Something to think about, Breakfast News & Blogs below
The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says “State” instead of “Country” (the Framers knew the difference – see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.
In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the “slave patrols,” and they were regulated by the states.
In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.
As Dr. Carl T. Bogus wrote for the University of California Law Review in 1998, “The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search ‘all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition’ and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds.”
Sally E. Haden, in her book Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, notes that, “Although eligibility for the Militia seemed all-encompassing, not every middle-aged white male Virginian or Carolinian became a slave patroller.” There were exemptions so “men in critical professions” like judges, legislators and students could stay at their work. Generally, though, she documents how most southern men between ages 18 and 45 – including physicians and ministers – had to serve on slave patrol in the militia at one time or another in their lives.
And slave rebellions were keeping the slave patrols busy.
By the time the Constitution was ratified, hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South. Blacks outnumbered whites in large areas, and the state militias were used to both prevent and to put down slave uprisings. As Dr. Bogus points out, slavery can only exist in the context of a police state, and the enforcement of that police state was the explicit job of the militias.
If the anti-slavery folks in the North had figured out a way to disband – or even move out of the state – those southern militias, the police state of the South would collapse. And, similarly, if the North were to invite into military service the slaves of the South, then they could be emancipated, which would collapse the institution of slavery, and the southern economic and social systems, altogether.
These two possibilities worried southerners like James Monroe, George Mason (who owned over 300 slaves) and the southern Christian evangelical, Patrick Henry (who opposed slavery on principle, but also opposed freeing slaves).
Their main concern was that Article 1, Section 8 of the newly-proposed Constitution, which gave the federal government the power to raise and supervise a militia, could also allow that federal militia to subsume their state militias and change them from slavery-enforcing institutions into something that could even, one day, free the slaves.
This was not an imagined threat. Famously, 12 years earlier, during the lead-up to the Revolutionary War, Lord Dunsmore offered freedom to slaves who could escape and join his forces. “Liberty to Slaves” was stitched onto their jacket pocket flaps. During the War, British General Henry Clinton extended the practice in 1779. And numerous freed slaves served in General Washington’s army.
Thus, southern legislators and plantation owners lived not just in fear of their own slaves rebelling, but also in fear that their slaves could be emancipated through military service.
At the ratifying convention in Virginia in 1788, Henry laid it out:
“Let me here call your attention to that part [Article 1, Section 8 of the proposed Constitution] which gives the Congress power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States. . . .
“By this, sir, you see that their control over our last and best defence is unlimited. If they neglect or refuse to discipline or arm our militia, they will be useless: the states can do neither . . . this power being exclusively given to Congress. The power of appointing officers over men not disciplined or armed is ridiculous; so that this pretended little remains of power left to the states may, at the pleasure of Congress, be rendered nugatory.”
George Mason expressed a similar fear:
“The militia may be here destroyed by that method which has been practised in other parts of the world before; that is, by rendering them useless, by disarming them. Under various pretences, Congress may neglect to provide for arming and disciplining the militia; and the state governments cannot do it, for Congress has an exclusive right to arm them [under this proposed Constitution] . . . “
Henry then bluntly laid it out:
“If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress [slave] insurrections [under this new Constitution]. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress . . . . Congress, and Congress only [under this new Constitution], can call forth the militia.”
And why was that such a concern for Patrick Henry?
“In this state,” he said, “there are two hundred and thirty-six thousand blacks, and there are many in several other states. But there are few or none in the Northern States. . . . May Congress not say, that every black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this last war? We were not so hard pushed as to make emancipation general; but acts of Assembly passed that every slave who would go to the army should be free.”
Patrick Henry was also convinced that the power over the various state militias given the federal government in the new Constitution could be used to strip the slave states of their slave-patrol militias. He knew the majority attitude in the North opposed slavery, and he worried they’d use the Constitution to free the South’s slaves (a process then called “Manumission”).
The abolitionists would, he was certain, use that power (and, ironically, this is pretty much what Abraham Lincoln ended up doing):
“[T]hey will search that paper [the Constitution], and see if they have power of manumission,” said Henry. “And have they not, sir? Have they not power to provide for the general defence and welfare? May they not think that these call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power?
“This is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction. The paper speaks to the point: they have the power in clear, unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it.”
He added: “This is a local matter, and I can see no propriety in subjecting it to Congress.”
James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” and a slaveholder himself, basically called Patrick Henry paranoid.
“I was struck with surprise,” Madison said, “when I heard him express himself alarmed with respect to the emancipation of slaves. . . . There is no power to warrant it, in that paper [the Constitution]. If there be, I know it not.”
But the southern fears wouldn’t go away.
Patrick Henry even argued that southerner’s “property” (slaves) would be lost under the new Constitution, and the resulting slave uprising would be less than peaceful or tranquil:
“In this situation,” Henry said to Madison, “I see a great deal of the property of the people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tranquility gone.”
So Madison, who had (at Jefferson’s insistence) already begun to prepare proposed amendments to the Constitution, changed his first draft of one that addressed the militia issue to make sure it was unambiguous that the southern states could maintain their slave patrol militias.
His first draft for what became the Second Amendment had said: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country [emphasis mine]: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.”
But Henry, Mason and others wanted southern states to preserve their slave-patrol militias independent of the federal government. So Madison changed the word “country” to the word “state,” and redrafted the Second Amendment into today’s form:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State [emphasis mine], the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Little did Madison realize that one day in the future weapons-manufacturing corporations, newly defined as “persons” by a Supreme Court some have called dysfunctional, would use his slave patrol militia amendment to protect their “right” to manufacture and sell assault weapons used to murder schoolchildren.
Two simple changes to U.S. law, both things based in other laws that we already know and like, could solve most of America’s gun violence problem:
1. Treat all semi-automatic weapons in a similar way under the same laws as fully-automatic weapons.
2. Regulate gun ownership and usage the same way we regulate car ownership and usage.
Here’s the backstory and how each would work:
The grand total for all political ad spending in the 2016 election cycle, according to Advertising Age, was $9.8bn. The ads allegedly produced by inmates of a Russian troll farm, which have made up this week’s ration of horror and panic in the halls of the American punditburo, cost about $100,000 to place on Facebook.
The ads themselves are now thought to have been the product of highly advanced political intelligence. So effective were the troll-works, wrote Robert Kuttner on Monday, that we can say Trump “literally became president in a Russia-sponsored coup d’etat”.
For thoughts on the finely tuned calculations behind this propaganda campaign, the Washington Post on Saturday turned to Brian Fallon, a former Hillary Clinton press secretary, who referred to the alleged Russian effort as follows: “It seems like the creative instincts and the sophistication exceeds a lot of the US political operatives who do this for a living.”
Of what, specifically, did this sophistication consist? In what startling insights was this creativity made manifest? “Fallon said it was stunning to realize that the Russians understood how Trump was trying to woo disaffected [Bernie] Sanders supporters …”
The Post added a few suspicious examples of its own. The Russian trolls figured out that battleground states were important. And: they tried to enlist disgruntled blue-collar voters in what the paper called the “rust belt”.
Okay, stop here. Since when is it a marker of political sophistication to know that some states are more persuadable than others? Or to understand that blue-collar voters are an important demographic these days?
If you’re one of those people who frets about our democracy being in serious danger, I contend that the above passages from the Post’s report should push your panic meter deep into the red.
This is the reason why: we have here a former spokesman for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, one of the best-funded, most consummately professional efforts of all time, and he thinks it was an act of off-the-hook perceptiveness to figure out that Trump was aiming for disgruntled Sanders voters. Even after Trump himself openly said that’s what he was trying to do.
For a veteran politico to be stunned by this unremarkable fact, one of two things has to be true: either Democratic “political operatives” are incredibly bad at what they do, or else they are feigning amazement in order to get themselves off the hook for the lousy job they did in 2016. They themselves blew millions and came up empty, but to this handful of bargain-basement Russian trolls they ascribe all manner of ability. Clinton’s glittering Jedi army was simply powerless against them.
Yes, go after the Russian trolls. Prosecute them for their alleged crimes. Punish Putin if he tried to jack with us. But understand that this sort of operation is not going away.
Its extremely modest price tag guarantees it, as does the liberals’ determination to exaggerate its giant-slaying powers. This is rightwing populism’s next wave, and in an oligarchic world, every American plutocrat will soon be fielding his or her own perfectly legal troll army. Those of us who believe in democracy need to stop panicking and start thinking bigger: of how rightwing populism can be undone forever.
Trump and the crisis that caused him
…We’re asked to consider Trump and Trumpism as an outcome–an effect that, like all other things in this world, must have had a cause or causes. Just as a powerful storm emerges out of weather patterns which came before it, so Trump’s rise must be explained by the conditions that preceded him.
And those conditions are the Obama era. The years 2008 to 2016 contain the most recent clues to Trump’s success.
Lance Selfa, the editor of this collection, writes in his contribution “From Hope to Despair: How the Obama Years Gave Us Trump” that the first symptoms of the Trump infection showed up in the 2010 midterm elections.
In 2008, Obama rode a wave of popular enthusiasm into the White House. “Two years later,” Selfa writes, “the formerly discredited and out-of-touch Republican Party scored a historic landslide in the 2010 midterm election. In the largest congressional midterm victory since 1938, the Republicans captured sixty-three seats, ending the four-year Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.”
How did this happen? When Obama took office two years before, with the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress, his administration quickly proceeded to appoint Bush-era officials to top positions in the Treasury and Pentagon.
The fiscal stimulus law passed weeks after Obama’s inauguration, while significant, excluded jobs programs to ease rising unemployment. The administration imposed sweeping concessions on unionized workers through the auto industry bailout, even while corporate executives continued to be rewarded with lavish payoffs.
As the business elite found a willing partner in the new White House, poll after poll showed that Americans had begun to associate Obama and the Democratic Party with big finance.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
INSTEAD OF urgent relief and uplift, most people in Obama’s America were confronted with stagnating or worsening conditions at work, growing debts and a rising cost of living, alongside ongoing injustices such as police brutality and mass deportations. The groundswell of hope and optimism gave way to painful disillusionment and demoralization, which paved the way for the Trump disaster.
But the road to Trump was long and winding, extending back over the reigns of two Bushes, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter–through a 40-year ruling class offensive to constrict the conditions of working class existence, which came to be known by the name of “neoliberalism.”
Sharon Smith’s contribution to U.S. Politics, “Chickens Coming Home to Roost for the Democratic Party?” lays bare the devastation. The “wreckage of neoliberalism,” as Smith calls it, is strewn everywhere. Organized labor was smashed up, declining from 20.1 percent of the workforce in 1983 to 10.7 percent in 2016, and a frightening 6.3 percent in the private sector.
While CEOs saw their compensation double, triple and quadruple–and then quintuple, sextuple, septuple, octuple…–salaries for working-class wage-earners either stagnated or shrank.
“Inflation-adjusted pay for manufacturing jobs fell from $33,600 in 1990 to $28,000 in 2013,” Smith writes, and “average real hourly wages of production and nonsupervisory workers fell by 15 percent between 1973 and the mid-1990s.” All this at a time when the state provided less and less in services, leaving households to do more and more just to survive.
The stark fact is that the U.S. once had the highest-paid working class in the world, but today, even though they live in the wealthiest country on earth, U.S. workers are the poorest among all 35 member states of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which represents the world’s leading economies.
This ruthless assault on working class-life explains why the hopes in Obama to produce something different were so great–and why the hurt of the betrayal when change didn’t come ran so deep. …
Teen Confronts DCCC-Endorsed Candidate Over His 100 Percent NRA Rating
Kate Aronoff, The Intercept
AT A NATIONALLY televised town hall on Wednesday, a high school student from Parkland, Florida — who survived a deadly shooting on Valentine’s Day — challenged Sen. Marco Rubio, R.-Fla., over his donations from the National Rifle Association. The same night in New Jersey, a similar confrontation took place. After a public forum, 17-year-old Emily McGrath went toe-to-toe with a state senator and House candidate over his own contributions from the controversial gun lobbyist.
That politician is a Democrat who just received the blessing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“Senator, you lied,” McGrath said after a debate for Democratic candidates in Northfield, New Jersey, citing evidence that Jeff Van Drew had accepted donations from the NRA in previous election cycles. The video was posted to Twitter by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Amy S. Rosenberg. Earlier in the evening, McGrath noted on camera, Van Drew had said he had “never” accepted funds from the NRA when he spoke to her AP government class the day before. Another local woman, Donna Challender, told Van Drew that, “I don’t have any faith that you will ever vote for universal checks … you’re 100 percent NRA.”
Indeed, as of 2017, Van Drew enjoyed a 100 percent rating from the NRA for his position on gun rights, having routinely pushed forward efforts to loosen gun laws, and fought against efforts to tighten restrictions. He has yet to make a public statement about the Parkland massacre. …
- Reject Trump’s judicial nominee for his “complicity in torture”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth
- Why Workers Are Losing to Capitalists
- Sanders’s New Book Announcement Spurs Speculation About 2020 Run
Something to think about over coffee prozac
LONDON (Reuters) – An English pub has canceled a charity snail race scheduled to take place on Saturday after unseasonably icy weather made potential competitors too slow to compete.
“The cold snap has led to a medical problem with our racing snails – it’s called hibernation,” the Dartmoor Union Inn in southwest England said on its Facebook page.
Temperatures across much of Europe are below normal for the time of year, and British weather forecasters have warned of bitterly cold winds and snow that could disrupt transport and cut off rural communities over the coming week.
England’s public health authority said on Friday the prolonged cold weather posed a danger to elderly people and young children if they could not heat their homes.
The Dartmoor Union Inn said it planned to reschedule what it had billed as “The 1st International Snail Grand National”, in aid of a local air ambulance service, once the weather warms up.
(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Mark Potter)