The New Assault on the Middle Class by the Republican Party

The Party of No! has a new no nothing agenda planned for the citizens of this country. Here is a sample:

1. Repeal the new Health Care Law and give it back to the states. This fantastic idea is now being put forth by Congressmen from Arizona. Since when did the State of Arizona have any new ideas worth considering?

2. Take all private and public pensions and confiscate their assets. I could hardly believe I was hearing this one. Public pensions are under assault because some states have used the money for other projects and are now not able to fund the pensions of those who paid into them over many years. This is another example of the kind of governance we had under the Bush Administration. How is this different from the Bernie Maddoff Ponzi Scheme? The private corporations used this tactic to escape the pension plans set up by labor unions and transferred it back to the Federal Government while they abandoned the US workers and set up shop overseas. What is missing is this whole scheme is that if you take away the buying power of the retired citizens of this country the net effect is to make the US a third world country unable to support itself. The public employees retirement system(PERS) for the state of Oregon is not only solvent, but it returns a surplus of income to the State of Oregon in the amount of about one and one half billion dollars to the treasury after all the bills are paid to its employees an to its retirees.

3. The Republicans have called President Obama the most corrupt President the United States has ever had. When questioned about this they tried to retract the statement, but they have promised to spend the next two years holding hearings and wasting taxpayer money investigating ever law passed in the last two years. So the Party of No now becomes the Party of Useless Hearings wasting the taxpayers money and collecting fees from corporations who pay them to do their bidding. The TEA PARTY EXPRESS is basically being ignored while the Republican Party brings this country closer to bankruptcy.

4. Finally, I would call upon my fellow citizens to demand an accounting of everything our politicians do that does not rebuild the factories and infrastructure of this nation, that taxes corporations importing goods and materials from other countries and that does not actively reward the middle class for its labors. If we do not do so, we will have lost all that we have worked for to build this nation.

The Senate Needs to Send a Strong Message to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky

I do not know what the Senate rules are for censoring one of its own Senators, but something needs to be done when Senator Mitch McConnell apparently intends to spend the next two years making certain that President Barack Obama does not get elected for another four year term. If that is all he intends to do then he should resign from the Senate and form his own party and raise money to defeat the President if he decides to run again. Even though I am from the State of Oregon, when a Politician such as McConnell is dedicated to getting rid of the health care bill passed by the last congress because he can no longer receive money from the Health Care Industry, particularly if we should turn the health care bill into a Public Option, he should be publically censored by the Senate. I am outraged that McConnell, according to one source leads the way in receiving money from the Health Care Industry. If he is so opposed to the changes in the Health Care Industry, why doesn’t he give up his health care benefits as a Senator and buy his own health care plan on the open market as he is advocating for every ordinary citizen. Every Senator, whether he or she is directly from your own state, represents you as a citizen of the United States. So why should we allow a Senator to spend his time and our money, we do pay his salary even though he is from a different state, on the sole purpose to ensure that President Obama is a one term President of the United States.

My view is that the Republican Party has forgotten that we are the United States of America and that even though they would like to be in power, they must have more important duties than simply oppose every good idea the Democratic Party has to offer, and whether they like it or not, the Health Care Legislation while flawed is a step in the right direction.

Censoring Senator Mitch McConnell should be the first item of business by honest and patriotic Republican Senators, because in a time of war for a Senator to make it his sole priority during the next two years to defeat the President of our Great Nation sounds to me like a treasonable offense. So what about it, you who are members of the Senate, are you going to allow a member to do nothing positive for the next two years but thwart the President of the United States? Where is your oath of allegiance, your duty to uphold the constitution of the United States and to care for the welfare of all of our citizens? Have you forgotten why you were elected in the first place? Why do you not do something about the Supreme Court of the United States which has extended its powers, at the expense of both the Congress and the Executive Branches of out government? So far their policies have favored the Republican Party, but in the long term it will affect both the Republicans and Democrats, and the Executive Branch regardless of who is in power. So my challenge to both the Senate and the House of Representatives is to get off you duffs and do something positive for a change. As for the Supreme Court, you also need to set aside your petty one sided view of the world and do something to restore the power you have stolen from the other two branches of government, but your brains seem to be missing when two of your members attend a meeting of the Billionaire Koch brothers to plot ways in which to give more money and power to giant corporations. What happened to the phrase “of the people, by the people, and for the people”? It appears to be construed to mean for “of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations” or “of the Republicans, by the Republicans, and for the Republicans,” and to hell with the rest of the nation.

To update the information on Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, in the recent election, he raised more money than all of the seven other members of the Senate and House combined, i.e., $20,652,563. Six of the other members raised less than $2,000,000 and one raised less than $1,000,000. My question is: “How much money did Mitch receive from lobbyist to increase his own wealth?” Until we as members of the public understand how politicians at all levels profit from public service, to the extent that they will do anything to protect themselves and other millionaires from tax increases, we will continue to have politicians whose only goal is to obstruct any legislation which benefits the working class of this nation and continue the shipping of jobs to China and other nations which do nothing to provide manufacturing and innovation in scientific and technical pursuits which have made this nation a leader in the world.

New Technologies for a Oil Free Future

We keep hearing about becoming independent of the Oil Companies and their million dollar contributions to judges, representatives, senators and any other person or entity that alter a vote, or provide legislation favorable to big oil. We need to quit trying to guess what the oil companies want and need and try to look at what is best for the common good of the people of this nation. How about considering some of the following:

1. Develop Hydrogen as a source of energy for the nation. I am certain that with a concerted effort such as occurred in World War II, we could have a Manhattan project to develop a nation wide project to use hydrogen as a fuel source. A recent article suggested using ammonia as a source of hydrogen. Other sources of hydrogen incorporate using a catalyst to break the hydrogen bonds and creating hydrogen by demand either at the home level as suggested in Switzerland or in moving transportation as suggested by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Still others suggest using solar panels as a means of breaking the hydrogen and oxygen bonds in water to create hydrogen on demand. Many of these do not demand a nationwide system of pipelines and storage facilities for a complete system for the use of hydrogen as a fuel.

2. Green buildings are not only affordable but are easily built as new construction or as a retrofit. Using the latter, building simple rooftop gardens on existing buildings can save millions in the loss of heat or in air conditioning costs which result from black roofs which absorb heat in the summer. Using silver colored shingles can cut the costs of air conditioning in the summer. Retrofitting buildings with solar panels and new low e windows can effectively lower the cost of heating and the loss of heat via conventional windows. Also, there are some new buildings either under construction or already completed which utilize solar panels, vertical windmills, and rooftop gardens to move this country toward self sufficient sources of energy so that our nation is not held hostage by foreign oil.

3. The move toward a self sufficient oil free future needs to be done on a national scale with the federal government supplying incentives to US based industries, and state and local governments to provide the means of developing and using and employing our own citizens to develop such a system. The Manhattan project was begun in World War II to develop the atomic bomb and became an example of the cooperation of all levels of industry and the universities to develop an atomic bomb before Germany and Japan did. It is amazing that when our security is truly threatened that we as a nation can unite and use our vast resources to protect ourselves. Practically every country subsidizes research and development to help its own citizens to earn a living. It is considered a Patriotic Act. In this country, the idea of considering our own citizens first has been labeled Socialism or Fascism or Communism. Patriotism means using our common resources to build a proud and self sufficient nation. If we want to continue as a nation, we have to rebuild this nation with our own citizens and with jobs provided in the United States. Out sourcing all of our manufacturing to other nations while neglecting our own citizens is a prescription for national disaster.

We Need Innovative Thinking and Solutions to Our Current Problems

We have many problems including the oil spill, the monetary problems with the banks, insurance companies, and stock market, the political deadlock in Congress, the Right leaning excesses of our Supreme Courts, and what has become a nation by the corporation, of the corporation, and for the corporation. We are not in danger of becoming a socialist nation, but we are being dominated by multinational corporations who care nothing about the citizens of the United States. The idea of loyalty and patriotism and personal sacrifice to the welfare of this nation has slowly declined since World War II. The wealthiest one per cent of this nation care only about their personal wealth and will do anything to protect themselves from paying taxes by removing their money into secret and protected off shore accounts. The bailouts of the banks and insurance companies came about due to the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which was passed after the 1929 stock market crash to prevent the wild speculation that occurred in the past decade and resulted in two costly stock market declines and then the meltdown of banks and insurance companies. The instrument used to bring about this meltdown was the derivative which should have been a commodity product with a margin requirement. Instead it was allowed to be sold to very wealthy individuals without a margin requirement so that the banks and insurance companies could leverage the money a thousand to one or more. This would be like buying a house for $500,000 with a down payment of $50.00. Not only was there no margin requirement, there was no transparency so even the investors had no idea of how their money was being invested. Let say you had a CD of $500,000 invested in a bank, and the bank could take your money and invest it in a derivative without a margin requirement. The bank was essentially using your money as collateral for a smoke and mirrors derivative, but the investor did not have to post a margin of 20%, 50%, 75% or at best 100%. To give you an example of how risky this kind of transaction can be, the Hunt family tried to corner the market on silver in the 1970’s, and ended up have to sell valuable properties at a discount because they could not meet the margin requirement. They lost millions of dollars partly because the Silver Commodities Board changed the margin requirements for the purchase of silver in midstream and made them retroactive in order to punish the Hunt family. So if you had purchased $100,000 of silver with a margin requirement of 50%, you would have had to pay $50,000 to own a $100,000 worth of silver. If the margin requirement was changed to 75% in midstream, you would have to pay an additional $25,000 to own the $100,000 of silver. This was what was done to the Hunt family by the Silver Commodities Board, except there were millions of dollars involved. Also, if you purchased 10,000 ounces of silver at $10.00 per ounce, with a 50% margin, and the price went down to $9.00 and ounce, you would have to add $10,000 to bring your margin back to 50%. However, the banks and insurance companies had no margins plus they could hedge their bets by placing a put or call to make money if the price went down or went up. What a sweet arrangement for the banks and insurance companies. They had your funds on deposit and were free to play with your money in any irresponsible manner they chose and when they got in trouble, they went to the treasury for a bailout of taxpayer money. If a private citizen did this kind of fraudulent transaction, they would be put in jail. So when your congress person or supreme court makes a statement or makes the corporation a person and rewards that corporation, bank, or insurance company with additional funds without any penalty, just remember our government is no longer of the people, by the people, and for the people, it is of the rich, by the rich and for the rich, or you can substitute corporation for people.

A Clearing House for Green Technology Is Needed

With the recent announcements by President Obama that he will be pushing the construction of nuclear power plants and drilling for oil in Alaska, on the Eastern Coast and the Western Coast of the US, it is abundantly clear that Green Technology is being ignored as an alternative to oil and nuclear power.

1. The construction of Nuclear Power Plants has long term consequences such as the raising of the temperature of the surrounding regions because the amount of cold water to keep the reactor core cool is enormous. France, which has the largest concentration of nuclear power plants, has had to move some of its vineyards for their wine industry to Great Britain because the warmer climate caused by the heat produced by the nuclear power plants has warmed the surrounding atmosphere to such an extent that the grape vines cannot grow properly. Trying to build nuclear plants in the Western United States is a losing proposition because the entire region is too arid to support its population, provide water for irrigation for agriculture and for the millions of acres of lawns, and to provide water for its cities.

2. The problem of what to do with the spent nuclear waste is not only a political problem but a long term health problem. In Oregon we still have a problem with two environmental hazards left over from World War II. These are the Hanford Nuclear Facility located near Kennewick and Pasco, in the State of Washington. which has allowed the nuclear waste to leak into the Columbia River. Across the river in Oregon near the town of Boardman, we still have enough nerve gas to kill the entire population of the Northwestern States. The containers for this nerve gas has been leaking for years. About fifteen or more years ago, the US Army was supposedly going to build an incinerator which would be used to burn the gas and render it harmless. I have no idea the present state of both of these hazards because the tendency is to keep everything quiet until a problem is discovered by the press. The eastern states would like to ship all of their waste to the western states where it would eventually leak into our aquifers and politute our water for thousands of years.

3. The western states have been the most active in their efforts to clean up the pollution brought on by mining, nuclear power plants, nerve gas and many other activities, but with corporations being granted the same rights as persons by the stupidity and crass behavior of five Supreme Court Justices, the efforts to clean up environmental disasters is enormous and costly. Individual states do not have the financial resources to fight the corporations who are responsible for much of the environmental disasters.

4. The western states have the greatest land mass of the United States yet we are treated as if we do not exist by the politicians in Washington. If and when we have a policy for Green Technology, we need to have a say in where the efforts to achieve energy independence are being focused, with the western states having a larger proportion of the political clout. We in the west should not become the dumping ground for nuclear waste or any other waste produced in the states east of the Mississippi River.

5. In view of the disaster with the British Petroleum, it would be interesting to have the Supreme Court comment on their ruling making this negligent corporation a person, since the so-called little people appear to be the neglected pawns of this giant corporation. Also, the Supreme Court should now be required to give monthly press conferences to explain their decisions to the general public. We also need a better mechanism to remove Supreme Court Justices from their posts than an Impeachment by the House of Representatives.

THE SUPREME COURT HAS GIVEN BIRTH: A CORPORATION IS NOW A PERSON!

By Walter Bell, Ph.D. 01/2011

Since the Supreme Court has now declared that a Corporation is a person, I now have many questions about this person:
1. Does a corporation have a Mother and Father? Was the birth of this person conceived by sexual intercourse or donated sperm?
2. Is the corporation a US citizen, an illegal alien, a terrorist, or a naturalized citizen of foreign birth? This question is important because if it is not a US born citizen, it cannot run for the Presidency. If we re-instate the draft, could a gay corporation serve, or would it have to be drummed out of the military? This makes me wonder if Cheney’s favorite corporation, The Blackwater Group, is gay? If so, we could send them off to do other tasks that have nothing to do with killing civilians in places such as Iraq.
3. Since a corporation is now a person, does it have to file an income tax return, receive its own Social Security number, and can it file for disability, and/or receive social security, medicare, or medicaid benefits?
4. How is the sex of the corporation/person determined? What if it is gay? Could it marry another gay, under some kind of same sex marriage laws which is illegal in most states?
5. Can this person/corporation involve itself in bribery such as paying a Member of Congress, a member of the Supreme Court, or a member of the Executive Branch for a favorable vote as a Lobbyist?
6. Can a member of the Supreme Court become a corporation and pay lobbyists to give money to a Member of Congresss to vote for an outcome favorable to the member of the court? Since Justice Scalia and Dick Cheney are such good buddies, maybe we will soon see a corporation, known as Scalia/Cheney, Inc. with a subsidiary known as Waterboarding/Hunting Club,Inc. with a corporate slogan: “If Waterboarding doesn’t work, then have our hunting club Shoot them for target practice.”
7. Or, since Justice Alito, is such a staunch supporter of the Unitary Executive Theory making the President a Dictator, will we soon see his favorite organization, the Federalist Society, run for President so that all the members of the society can become a collective President known as “President Federalist.” In this way, Alito could remain a Justice of the Supreme Court and a Collective President known as “President Federalist, et.al.”
8. Since a Corporation is now a Person, why not merge the right wing members of the Supreme Court into a Corporation which could pay Senators to vote for more potential right wing court members so that there would be no more 5 to 4 court decisions? We would have all 9 to 0 decisions.
9. I am certain, that my readers will come up with many questions of their own. In fact, maybe we could form a Corporation known as The Supreme Court Lunacy Voting, Inc. We could then run for Congress, hire lobbyists to help other members of Congress to vote our way. It now occurs to me that we could eventually have a Congress made up of Corporations only, and we could work to have one giant corporation become the Supreme Court, the Congress, and the Executive branch all combined into one. This corporation could be simply called the UNITARY EXECUTIVE CORPORATION which would greatly simplify decision making. Our Unitary Executive Corporation’s motto would be “It is our way or the highway.”

MAKE GOVERNMENTAL HEALTH INSURANCE AVAILABLE FOR EVERYONE–THIS IS THE ULTIMATE PUBLIC OPTION

Make Governmental Health Insurance Available for Everyone

As it now stands, we have the Medical Associations, Senators, Representatives, and Pharmaceutical firms all claiming we are headed for bankruptcy, socialism, and probably a satellite of China, if we provide health care for the rest of our citizens. Those 50 million citizens amount to the combined population of Canada and Australia. Of course we could easily finance the cost of Medical Insurance for all of our citizens if we would make it a mandatory five year sentence for any Representative, Senator, or any other governmental employee who receives money from outside sources to pay for a vote either for or against medical care. To raise the ante, we could make it a mandatory seven year sentence for any company or member of a Medical Company who contributes money pay for a vote.

I am certain that we could easily provide medical insurance for everyone without going bankrupt, becoming a satellite of China, by adopting the same medical insurance that Representatives and Senators now enjoy. We need to remove bribery as a way of life from the our elected and appointed officials, because bribery may in fact be a form of Socialism for the privileged members of our nation. It is hard to believe that one life is more important than another.

We as citizens must make our voices heard and tell our members of Congress that we expect them to forgo accepting bribes for votes. The health of our citizens should be as important as their own health.

THE FEUDAL SYSTEM IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE UNITED STATES

The Feudal System Is Alive and Well in the United States

The recent turmoil in the financial markets stem from changes brought about during the Reagan Administration and culminating with the Clinton Administration. If the word derivative has any meaning to you, you are in the minority because much of the present and past Congress and Senate do not seem to have a clue. This financial instrument came about as the result of the deregulation efforts brought about by the Republican Party under Reagan and under the advice of people like Arthur Laffer and Allan Greenspan. During his Presidency, the national debt went from $700 billion to $3 trillion. A recent news report, that I cannot substantiate, stated that Reagan borrowed $1 trillion from the Social Security Trust Fund telling Greenspan that no one would ever find out about the transaction. His notable activity leading to a renewal of the Feudal System started with the firing of 11,345 air traffic controllers when they went on strike for better wages and especially better working conditions. It is ironic, that Reagan, who was once President of the Screen Actors Guild which was in reality a union, turned against unions. Doing away with unions has been the mantra of the Republican Party ever since. In the last primary contest every Republican candidate repeated Reagan’s name as if this was the high point of all the the Party had achieved throughout its existence.

The unions whose origins began in Europe in the 1830’s were brought about to improve the conditions of laboring men, women, and children in the textile industries and mines, primarily in Great Britain. As the United States grew into an industrial power, the robber baron era of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s gave little thought to the plight of the workers. The desire by the workers gave rise to the formation of unions in the 1920’s and 1930’s with the owners of the corporations doing everything they could to intimidate the workers who wanted to join a union and have some say in their working conditions, pay and retirement. Much of the benefits won by the unions including safety features in the work environment, pay, retirement, and health care have slowly eroded for several reasons. People became complacent and forgot or never knew how the job benefits were achieved. Areas such as state and municipal workers including teachers from K-14 grew to become the dominant unions at the present time, while industrial workers under union contracts have declined. The days when John L. Lewis could call a coal miners strike and paralyze the nation have passed. Also, the illegal behavior of the union bosses, particularly, the longshoreman’s union have not helped. With the rise of the high tech industries , the unions either did not try or were unable to get enough interested people willing to form a union. As seen in the latest scandals involving the giant insurance companies such as AIG the robber barons have arisen once more. We once again have a feudal system in the United States.

Under a feudal system the workers have little or no rights under the system run by the corporations or the individuals they work for, and they can be fired, laid off, or transferred without cause if they have no one to represent them, and in order to have representation, you either have to have the money to hire an attorney or a union to hire the attorney for you. With no union representation, particularly in an economy such as the one we are currently experiencing, the workers in high tech, in banking, in the insurance industry, and in the auto industry have no one to look out for their interests. It is interesting that the Senators and Representatives in the Southern States, particularly in the Republican Party, have fought to prevent federal funds from being distributed to the auto industry. Only Ford, GM, and Chrysler have alliances with labor unions. The Southern States auto companies, Honda, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and others I may have forgotten, do not have labor unions. Labor unions change the social and political equation from one of feudalism to one where the laboring class and low paid professionals can climb the economic ladder, receive pensions, and health care for life, as well as invest in IRA’s and other financial instruments to supplement their income in retirement. If labor unions are strong and viable, there is no longer a special class of wealthy people who can hold the rest of humanity hostage while they enjoy both economic and political privileges. In the South, the reason for this attitude is that, from the time of slavery to the present, the South has supported a kind of feudal system whereby the working class has been without labor rights and representation. This same lack of labor and legal support for workers has crept to the Northern States, as well , and led to the decline of textile mills, furniture companies, steel mills, and industrial plants of all kinds. The crowning blow to this situation, was the rise of NAFTA and other free trade agreements whereby all the countries involved were going to open up free trade and the world was going to be a rosy place for all. What has happened is the the American worker has been forgotten in all of this. We have outsourced our industrial base to any place in the world where there are no labor laws and where labor is cheap. We have given companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Ford, Chrysler, GM, GE, to name a few, tax incentives to set up plants all over the world. We are no longer the great industrial power we once were, and if we ever have to fight a World War again we will not have the industrial base to support such a war nor the workers trained to work in these industries.

I want to include a disclaimer here in that I do not place all the blame on the Republican Party, because much of the outsourcing started in the Clinton Presidency, and the joint action of both Political Parties, North and South, worked against the US workers in NAFTA and in 1999 abolished the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which prevented Insurance Companies and Banks from selling securities. Not only were banks and insurance companies allowed to sell securities, but a brilliant woman, Brooksley Born, was removed from the Commodities Trading Commission because she insisted that there needed to be margin requirements for a newly named commodity called derivatives. On the advice and urging of Allen Greenspan, Robert Rubin, and Larry Summers(currently one of Barack Obama’s economic advisors), Arther Levitt fired Brooksley Born because she insisted that derivatives were commodity instruments and should be under the commodities laws which would have required margin requirements just as you have to post when you buy a future on a commodity such as feeder cattle. Rubin stated that money was not a commodity which is very interesting because one can buy both gold and silver through a commodity account, but you do have to stipulate a margin for such an account.

In a book by Saul K. Padover, Jefferson, published in 1942, he tells about Jefferson’s time spent in Europe as a roving ambassador prior to the French Revolution. Jefferson stated that while he had made friends with many of the leading families in Europe, he was glad to return to his home in Virginia where he could interact freely with people of all economic levels. In Europe, he found that about 1% of the citizens had 99 % of the wealth while the rest of the population was barely above the starvation level. In Jefferson’s fight against the Federalist Party, to which Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito belongs, it was the same haves and have more group that President George Bush referred to in his speech about four years ago. The only people deserving of the rights and freedoms of this great nation were the wealthy. Anyone belonging to a labor union was responsible for our present inability to compete with the rest of the nations of the world, so that it was necessary to ship all of our manufacturing overseas and allow the other 99% of the population to sink to the level of the population of Europe during the feudal system.

We even approached the same level of censorship under Bush with his misuse of the FISA Act as we did under the Federalist Party when President John Adams and his cohorts in the Federalist Party tried to reinstate the privileges of the Royalty through the passage of the Alien and Sedition Act of 1978, to prevent any criticism of the second president. This act allowed the President to expel all those whom he should “judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States,” or should have “reasonable grounds to suspect are concerned in any treasonable or secret machinations against the government.” The Sedition Act provided for a fine of no more than $2000.00 and a term of prison of no more than two years. When President Adams and the Federalists introduced the pomp and circumstance of Royalty, Thomas Jefferson, his Secretary of State, quietly, via letters and other writings, set about the task of rallying the Republican cause of strengthening the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence(note, my reference to the Republican cause does not mean the same as the current Republican Party of today which was created by the demise of the Whig Party.) Various newspapers published articles stating that they had no respect for Adams and could not support the Federalist attempt to reintroduce a monarchy. The result was the passage of the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798, which allowed the President to expel all those whom he should “judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States,” or should have “reasonable grounds to suspect are concerned in any treasonable or secret machinations against the government.” This sounds very much like the reasons set forth by President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney in their misuse of the FISA act in spying on both U.S. citizens and aliens.

The choice of who to try under the Alien and Sedition Act was interesting, and even more interesting were the Supreme Court Justices chosen to try the cases. The first person to be convicted, in October 1798, was Matthew Lyon, a Congressman from Vermont, born in Ireland, with a record as a patriot and soldier in Washington’s army. His crime was to criticize the pomp of Adam’s administration and its continual grasp for power. William Patterson, Justice of the Supreme Court, tried this case and one other related to it. The second case, with the same judge and jury, was Anthony Haswell, Editor of the “Vermont Gazette”, who had written that Lyon was brutally treated by the Marshal who had arrested him. Haswell was born in England and the father of thirteen children. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase tried two of the cases under this law. The third man to be convicted was Thomas Cooper, and English born educator and scientist, who did little more than make general remarks about President Adams. In the fourth case, Justice Chase was arrogant, rude, and dictatorial. In one instance he made jokes about the counsels involved with the defense, and told others to shut up and sit down. This case involved the indictment and the conviction of a Virginian, James Thomas Callender, a Scottish born political writer, for the grave crime of criticizing President Adams. The case was sensational because Callender was defended by three of the best lawyers in Virgina–William Wirt, Thomas Nicolas and George Hay who quit in disgust because of the behavior of the Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase.

As a sequel to this sad saga, Thomas Jefferson, who was Vice President under President Adams, succeeded Adams as President and took steps to have Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase impeached and removed from office. Jefferson described the impeachment process a farce when Chase was found not guilty. In my lifetime, I have listened in detail to the McCarthy hearings on the radio, to the President Nixon hearings on TV, to the attempted impeachment and indictment of President William Jefferson Clinton, and read about the misuse of power through signing statements by President George W. Bush, which allowed him to ignore the FISA Court, and any other laws he did not like. President Bush used the signing statements more than all of the other Presidents combined–I have heard of numbers of 480 to over 1000 signing statements. He frequently cited Supreme Court Justice Samuel Allito’s paper on the Unitary Executive Theory, in which Allito wrote, “Congress, to be sure, has a substantial and essential role in both foreign affairs and national security. But it is crucial to recognize that judicial interference in these domains destroys the purposes of vesting primary responsibility in a unitary Executive.” As a sitting judge on the federal bench, Judge Alito advocated his personal legal view supporting executive theory before the Federalist Society in the year 2000. He also wrote a memo while in the Reagan Administration recommending the expansion of presidential power through an increased use of presidential signing statements which allows a president to effectively ignore or alter laws passed by Congress and increase Presidential Powers and diminish those of the Congress.

As a nation, we have a problem in trying to preserve the democratic principles to which we all tacitly adhere and at the same time keep a proper balance between the coequal branches of our government. We cannot allow any branch of the government to assume powers without the consent of the citizens of this nation. The Supreme Court should never have assumed the power to appoint a President just because the State of Florida or Ohio choose to ignore the right of our citizens to vote in the 2000 election and the 2004 election respectively. We need to change our election laws so that one does not have to be wealthy in order to hold public office, or allow corporations the hold any branch of our government hostage by bribing members of Congress, the Executive, or the Supreme Court. We need to allow the working class to form unions without intimidation by Corporate executives, because without labor unions representing the workers we will continue to allow the wealthy to treat their workers as slaves or serfs as has been common in many countries throughout history. Each generation must work to preserve the benefits attained in previous generations and not assume that those benefits have always been present. If our so called multinational corporations allow China to dictate that their citizens working for such corporations must be allowed to form unions, then any multinational corporations who does so must be required to allow their stateside workers to form unions. Lastly, if we are to remain a democratic and sovereign nation we must be willing to pass and enforce laws which benefit the working class and not just the wealthy. A case in point is the solvency of the Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. We should not allow those persons who earn more than $100,000 dollars to be exempt from paying Social Security benefits on amounts greater than $100,000. To change this one benefit enjoyed by the wealthy, the Social Security System would be financially solvent. Even the wealthy can draw Social Security benefits, so they should have to pay according to their income.

CHICKPEAS, MULES, AND WATER–THE SIEGE OF VICKSBURG

Chickpeas, Mules, and Water–The Siege of Vicksburg

If you have ever gone through a Memorial which is dedicated to the fallen soldiers and civilians who have died or survived a horrific battle between two armies, you cannot come away from the memorial without a feeling of sadness and despair. This was the experience my wife and I had when we spent about three hours driving through and viewing the memorial of the seige at Vicksburg, Mississippi about fifteen years ago. If you read the account of the battle in Wickipedia, you do not get the same feeling nor do you get much more than a recitation of the Generals who commanded the armies who fought in this terrible battle. The scene of the battle was a grassy knoll where the Union Armies with supperior manpower and weapons laid seige to Vicksburg which lasted about six weeks. The feeling we got was eire. It was almost as if we had come upon the battle as it was being waged. The loss on the Union side was approximately 4 to 1, although the Wickipedia version does not tell the true story because it counts the men of the Confederate side as casualties even though they surrendered. I have never seen an account of a battle which counted those who surrendered or were captured as casualties. It reminds me of a professor I talked to who told me if you want to make history you have to write it.

The Siege of Vicksburg was a turning point in the Civil War, or as the Southerns call it “The War Between The States.” The reason the siege of Vicksburg was so important, had to do with its geographical location on the Mississippi River. Vicksburg is located on a high bluff overlooking the river where the Confederate forces mounted their big cannons and could blow any Union ships out of the water coming from the north or the south. The Union forces were determined to drive out the Southern forces in order to split the South into two regions. The siege of Vicksburg began about May 19, 1863 and ended about July 19, 1863. To get to Vicksburg, General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union Army of Tennessee had to bring his army down the west side of the Mississippi River and in some places had to build a canal to get his supplies and munitions so he could cross the river south of Vicksburg through some very. swampy land, with his army besieged by mosiquitos, knats(called by the Indians as”no-see-um’s”, snakes, probably alligators, and heat, because by the end of February, Mississippi gets very hot and miserable. An aside, having lived in Mississippi, I can personally attest to the misery the “no-see-um’s” caused me when raking leaves or working outside, so Grant’s Army had to be miserable while marching through this terrain.

Once General Grant arrived near Vicksburg, he approached it from the east with about 35,000 troops which later grew to about 77,000 troops, which compared to the Confederate Army forces of about 18,500, commanded by Lt.Gen. John C. Pemberton, was a very lopsided conflict. However, as my wife and I read about the conflict as we drove through the memorial, the Southern forces were very good at defense. Their forces were able to look down upon the Union forces and they were well defended with gun emplacements, tunnels, etc. When the Southern forces surrendered, according to the Wikepedia account , the Union forces had 77,000 men with 4835 dead and the Confederate forces had 32,697 with about 3,202 dead. I am not certain whether the Confederate forces who surrendered included civilians as well as soldiers or not.

I found out in talking to people currently living in Vicksburg an interesting detail that I had never seen mentioned in any of the history books written about the Siege of Vicksburg. According to the locals, the main sources of food as the siege continued were chickpeas and mule meat. Much of the population were living in caves to escape the artillery shells fired by the Union Army, so the casualty rate was very low, and the primary reason for the surrender of the Confederate forces was not because they were being overwhelmed by the Union forces but for a different reason entirely. The South was experiencing a very severe drought, and Vicksburg did not have wells but cisterns, which could only be filled by local streams or rainwater. So, while a diet of chickpeas and mule meat might have gotten very tiresome to eat, the population could not survive without water. So the Confederate Army at Vicksburg was forced to surrender. The Union Soldiers were so in awe of the bravery and the defense put up by the Confederate Soldiers that they lined up and shook hands with them as they surrendered. The Confederate soldiers were allowed to return to their homes because the Union Army could not provide food for so many men and did not want to divert their forces from bringing an end to the war.

In one Southern home we visited, there was a bulge in the wall in the entry hall to the home which was plastered over and left because am artillery shell was logged in the wall. It was too dangerous to try to remove it, because there was no way of knowing whether is was live or not. Two unmarried sisters had lived in the house during the Civil War and as well as after the war. It was obvious that at one time they had been well off, but the war changes the fortunes of many. This included the two women living in this home. The wisteria vines had not been trimmed so they came in one window of a very large room and went across the room and out the other side through another window.

Our next stop on our tour of Vicksburg was to go to the bluff and look down upon the Mississippi River. It is an awesome sight because it is a very long way down to the river bank. If the Union forces had tried to scale the cliffs the casualties would have been very great. I think one reason for our reaction to Vicksburg, was that I am certain that both my wife and I had family members fighting on both sides of the Civil war. We probably had more on the Confederate side since our ancestors were primarily Southerns. The soldiers on both sides of this conflict usually went to join a unit as friends. My Grandfather was 18 years old during the Civil War but did not serve because he broke his leg. By the time it healed, all of his friends had already gone of his had already gone to war. Serving in the Civil War with friends was a common practice as depicted in a book I just finished reading. This book, by Harold Coyle, “Until The End,” is about the conclusion of the Civil War, and follows two other books he has written about the Civil War. “Until The End” takes place in the Eastern states and is well worth reading.