Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fort Sumter to Charlottesville: A letter from two Montgomery Blairs to two Presidents

On Friday, April 12, 1861, at 4:30 a.m., Confederate batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, firing for 34 straight hours.  On Saturday, April 13th, the Fort was surrendered by it commanding officer, U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson, and evacuated. Confederate troops then occupied Fort Sumter for nearly four years, resisting several bombardments by Union forces before abandoning the garrison prior to William T. Sherman’s capture of Charleston in February 1865.

Most historians agree that the abandonment of Fort Sumter by Major Anderson would play a major part in triggering the Civil War. In the days following the abandonment of the Fort, more Southern states including Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee cast their lot with the Confederacy.  When the Civil War finally ended, some 620,000 people had been killed in the Civil War.

Could this Civil War slaughter have been avoided? And what does Fort Sumter have to do with the riots at Charlottesville, Virginia and subsequent masked insurrections by the oxymoronically-named anti-fascists --”antifa”?  The “antifa” group is known for its black-clad protesters wearing masks, physically attacking those it opposes and causing damage to property during its protests. One of its leaders, Scott Crow, said members use violence as a means of self-defense and they believe property destruction does not equate to violence. "There is a place for violence. Is that the world that we want to live in? No. Is it the world we want to inhabit? No. Is it the world we want to create? No. But will we push back? Yes," Crow said.

A month before the surrender of Fort Sumter, President Lincoln, on March 14, 1861, asked each of the members of his Cabinet their opinions on whether to provision or abandon Fort Sumter.  His Post Master General -- and my great, great, grandfather -- Montgomery Blair responded the next day by letter.  In that letter, Montgomery Blair wrote in part:

Post Office Department,
Washington, March 15, 1861.
To The President.  
Sir: In reply to your interrogatory whether in my opinion it is wise to provision Fort Sumter under present circumstances, I submit the following considerations in favor of provisioning that fort.  
The ambitious leaders of the late Democratic party have availed themselves of the disappointment attendant upon defeat in the late presidential election to found a military government in the seceding States. 
To the connivance of the late administration, it is due alone that this rebellion has been enabled to attain its present proportions.  It has grown by this complicity into the form of an organized government in seven States, and up to this moment nothing has been done to check its progress or prevent its being regarded either at home or abroad as a successful revolution.  
I, in common with all my associates in your council, agree that we must look to the people of these States for the overthrow of this rebellion, and that it is proper to exercise the powers of the Federal Government only so far as to maintain its authority to collect the revenue and maintain possession of the public property in the States; and that this should be done with as little bloodshed as possible. How is this to be carried into effect ? That it is by measures which will inspire respect for the power of the Government, and the firmness of those who administer it, does not admit of debate.  
They for the most part believe that the Northern men are deficient in the courage necessary to maintain the Government. The evacuation of Fort Sumter, when it is known that it can be provisioned and manned, will convince the rebels that the administration lacks firmness, and will therefore tend, more than any event that has happened, to embolden them; and so far from tending to prevent collision, will ensure it unless all the other forts are evacuated and all attempts are given up to maintain the authority of the United States.  
This would completely demoralize the rebellion. The impotent rage of the rebels and the outburst of patriotic feeling which would follow this achievement, would initiate a reactionary movement throughout the South which would speedily overwhelm the traitors. It will in any event vindicate the hardy courage of the North, and the determination of the people and their President to maintain the authority of the Government, and this is all that is wanting, in my judgment, to restore it  
I am, sir, very respectfully, Your obedient servant,  
Montgomery Blair 
The correlation of the “rebels”  of South Carolina with the “antifa” movement of today makes Montgomery Blair’s March 1861 letter as relevant and prescient today as it was 150+ years ago. Antifa has “availed themselves of the disappointment attendant upon defeat in the late presidential election” to justify their violent action against those they deem in opposition to their agenda.  As in 1861, “nothing has been done to check [antifa’s] progress or prevent its being regarded either at home or abroad as a successful revolution.”

Then, as now, the question is “How is [the establishment of federal authority] to be carried into effect? That it is by measures which will inspire respect for the power of the Government, and the firmness of those who administer it, does not admit of debate.”  In 1861, the necessary “measures” were the provisioning of Fort Sumter so it could resist any attempt to remove it from federal control.  In 2017, the virtual Fort Sumter at issue is the ability of Citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to “petition” peacefully without the threat of violence by antifa.

Hence, were Montgomery Blair writing President Trump today, I believe he would recommend measures against antifa-like violence from whatever part of the political spectrum it emanates that would “inspire respect for the power of the Government” to maintain the cornerstone right to peacefully assemble to petition.  This being done regardless of the odiousness to the sensibilities of the public at large of the substance of the “petition” being made.

Montgomery Blair today would write President Trump and recommend "provisioning" the Department of Justice to investigate, and when warranted, criminally prosecute antifa members and their cohorts on the opposite end of the political spectrum for their grotesque 18 U.S.C., Section 241 - Conspiracy Against Rights violations.

As Montgomery Blair noted, “It will in any event vindicate the hardy courage of the North, and the determination of the people and their President to maintain the authority of the Government.”


Monday, February 27, 2017

America’s Got Talent, My Grandmother, My Mom and Planned Parenthood

Recently, Singer and America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon doubled down on his criticism of Planned Parenthood, saying the abortion provider was designed to “exterminate” black people.

Grandmother Virginia Blair

I can't speak to what Planned Parenthood has become, but I must speak for my Mother and Grandmother -- as they can't -- as to what Planned Parenthood was designed to do and did during their tenure.  My Grandmother, Virginia Blair, was on the original Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood when Margaret Sanger founded the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) in 1942. Among other initiatives, PPFA: "worked to publicize health problems of African Americans and the scarcity of contraceptive services in black communities."  I can say unequivocally that "exterminating" black people was never on my Grandmother's agenda. Indeed, just the opposite.
Mom, a/k/a The Rev. Blair

My mother was even more involved.  Starting in 1962 as a "dirty volunteer", Mom would clean the exam rooms in the Rochester, New York Planned Parenthood clinic after each gynecological examination  In due course, she rose to become President of the Rochester, New York Planned Parenthood, then President of Planned Parenthood Northeast and ultimately from 1974-1976 the Executive Director of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).   

Thus for Mr. Cannon to exclaim through his public megaphone that Planned Parenthood was designed to "exterminate" black people, is not only offensive, but it is simply ignorant.  Had he known my Grandmother and Mother, he could not in good conscience utter such an offensive remark.

Mom gave an extensive interview to Radcliffe College in 1976 about the early days of Planned Parenthood.  I find it interesting that back then Mom, when talking about Planned Parenthood and the African-American community, said: "We'd been through the closing of the clinic and seen the black women insisting that we open the clinics. Oh, this happened in Pittsburgh. The black people, the black males, had said this is genocide and forced 'the clinic to closeand the black  women said, "You're not raising the babies, we want the clinic."

So Mr. Cannon, perhaps you know not of what you speak. Just because fate has given you a public megaphone doesn't relieve you of the truth from Mark Twain's famous quote:
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Could the 9th Circuit “Travel Ban Case” Judges Be Removed from the Bench?

Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson Ticket
A  Public Policy Polling survey released Friday showed that  46 percent are for impeaching the 45th president and the same percentage are against the extreme measure.  Of course, Public Policy Polling has been intelligently criticized for it poor polling practices and extreme liberal bias. I think this is particularly true on a poll asking non-legally trained individuals about “impeaching” the President.  Clearly, President Trump can only be “impeached” pursuant to the U.S. Constitution Article II, §4 which states: “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Even those most vehemently opposed to President Trump have not claimed that he has committed treason which is defined at18 U.S. Code §2381 as “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason.”  President Trump is not leveeing “war” against the United States.  Just as clear, no one is alleging that President Trump has accepted “bribes” as President.  

Which leaves the question of whether by any stretch of the imagination President Trump has committed any “other high crimes and misdemeanors.”  The phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" is not defined in the Constitution or in statute. It was however used in many of the English impeachments, which were proceedings in which criminal sanctions could be imposed upon conviction. See: Federal Impeachments, 64 U.P.Law Review 651, 676-695 (1916). Thus, under the broadest possible definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, President Trump would have to be accused of some sort of criminal infraction.  This, of course, is an accusation that no one is credibly making. 

Hence, for the Public Policy Polling to ask “Would you support or oppose impeaching Donald Trump?” is akin to asking: “Do you hit your wife with your right hand or your left?”  It assumes facts that are not present in order to evoke an emotional response to the end of supporting a public narrative for political ends.

Which brings me back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges William Canby, Richard Clifton and Michelle Friedland and the now-pertinent question: “Can these judges be removed from their judicial offices?”  I believe they could – and should – be removed and here is why:

The U.S. Constitution at Article III, §1 states: “The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour. . .” Thus, if Judges Canby, Clifton and Friedland engaged in the opposite of “good behaviour” – or stated another way for convenience, “misbehavior” they could be removed from their judicial offices.

“In England, the Crown was obligated (presumably by custom) to lend its sanction to forfeiture [of judicial office] cases when a private citizen complained of misbehavior.” 4 Matthew Bacon, A New Abridgment of the Law, 416 (London, Worrall 3rd Ed. 1768).  English law provided a  proceeding to forfeit the office by a writ of scire facias. An act “contrary to what belongs to his office” resulted in forfeiture of the office appears in the Abridgments of Viner and Bacon and in the Digest of Cromyns, which faithfully reflect these cases. Did Judges Canby, Clifton and Friedland, by entering their Travel Ban Order, act “contrary to what belongs to [their] office”?

I say: Yes. “What belongs to” a judicial office was clearly laid out in in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 177 (1803) where Chief Justice Marshall for the U.S. Supreme Court stated: “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each.. . .This is of the very essence of judicial duty.”

Here, the statutory provision President Trump cited as the legal basis for his order – 8 U.S. Code §1182 – requires the President to give a reason for suspending visas. Such reasons can include anything from individuals having spreadable diseases to them posing a risk to the American public's safety. 

However, in their Travel Ban Order, Judges Canby, Clifton and Friedland ignored 8 U.S. Code §1182 as apparently inconvenient to their politically-motivated decision. This ignoring of their "judicial duty" to decide on the “operation of each” – here 8 U.S. Code § 1182 and their claimed First  and Fifth Amendment concerns – breaches their Marbury duty.

Thus, I argue that Judges Canby, Clifton and Friedland have “misbehaved” and thus are subject to an action to forfeit their judicial offices. Otherwise, judges can usurp power not delegated to them and act like an unelected, super-legislature and decide cases and create law without any reference to conflicting and settled principles of law and statutes.

This is, of course, the very definition of tyranny. But that is just my opinion.