Thursday, September 15, 2022

Constitutional Scholar Criticizes SCOTUS For Overturning Dobbs



Lawrence Tribe is a professor at Harvard Law School. For years he has been one of the most highly regarded constitutional authorities.

He wrote an article, Deconstructing Dobbs, in which he severely criticizes the recent Supreme Court's (SCOTUS) repeal of abortion rights in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case.
The New York Review published Tribe’s article online for their 9-22-2022 magazine issue. It's clearly written and easy to understand. 
Find it here: 

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I have been doing a lot of background reading about SCOTUS, including the Dobbs majority opinion and the multiple dissents. I fully agree with Laurence Tribe's opinions in Deconstructing Dobbs.
I also agree with what Joseph A. Califano, Jr. wrote in his book Our Damaged Democracy (Califano, 2018) about the politically polarized Supreme Court:
  • "To paraphrase the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, the struggle for control of the Supreme Court, and often the work of the court itself, has become the continuation of political war by other means."
From the many books I've been reading about SCOTUS, it is very clear that the Republican former presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump used their "dog whistles" to tell their base voters that they would fill the Supreme Court with the very most conservative justices in order get a 5 to 4 majority repealing Roe v. Wade.  
These SCOTUS Justices were the majority that overturned Roe v. Wade: Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
        For references, see the relevant page on the website.
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Sunday, September 11, 2022

Vote, Based On Objective Facts--Not Just On Favorite Personal Opinions


President Biden beat Trump in the 2020 in presidential election in which there was no fraud. And an election recount, requested and supervised by Republicans, found about 200 more votes for Biden and no fraud.

As of June 1, 2022:
90% of registered democrat voters Agree that Biden was legitimately elected.
Only 25% of republican registered voters Agree that Biden was legitimately elected.

OBJECTIVE FACTS and PERSONAL OPINIONS are very different things. Good thinking skills require that we understand the differences. Then we can better know what’s real and what’s not. And then we have an adequate basis for making decisions and taking effective action—whether in daily life or in voting.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan earned great respect in the U.S. Congress during his 24 years of service. He made an often quoted comment: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” 
Paul Krugman, Nobel prize winner, political blogger, and author of the book, Arguing With Zombies, followed up that Moynihan quote by writing about our polarized America and our relative ineffectiveness in government.
Krugman wrote that in America “[A] lot of people do believe they’re entitled to their own facts” (Krugman, 2021). According to Krugman, pundits and politically inspired “experts” are making up their own numbers to sell false ideas even about serious economic issues! 
I’ve already blogged about the lying and cheating which routinely occurs in politics. So today I’m just going to teach something very basic but crucially important: the differences between objective facts and personal opinions.
  • BY THE WAY. . . Is it legal in America to vote for a candidate who mostly lies and grossly distorts actual realities? Absolutely legal. But when a politician confidently says he is telling the truth, how do you know he’s not lying?
As voters we cannot afford to be naïve [Naïve means: uninformed, easily lied to and robbed of our common sense.]

1. Learning the definition of objective facts and how they differ from personal opinions.
2. Knowing what you want the Federal government to do for you as a citizen. These are our “issues” that we want government to help us with. Examples of issues are: jobs with higher pay, women’s freedom of reproductive choice, keeping Medicare and Social Security, or even ending Medicare and Social Security as some conservatives propose. 
3. Learning lots more about how government works. Anything you learned about government in high school is now out of date, and it was too elementary to begin with. 
4. On important issues in our personal lives we will make the best decisions by seeking positive and negative personal opinions on such things as: what car to buy, what stores to shop in and what products to use. We might read Consumer Reports magazine and read their objective facts about products they tested in their labs. 
Read here about what is an OBJECTIVE FACT
It is an event or a thing that really exists or happened, not just in the mind. It is out there in the world. It is separate and independent from the mind.
For example: You are checking out at a store and the clerk tells you your 50-dollar bill tests out as counterfeit as shown by the red color from the testing pen he swiped on it. You and the clerk saw it happen. It wasn’t just the clerk’s opinion; you also saw the test result color on the money. 
Or another example: An ultrasound showing the sex of a 20 week old baby in the womb, is an objective fact. It’s not a mother “feeling it’s a boy.” It’s not a parent of three boys saying he/she believes, “This one’s going to be a girl.” But it is a physical photograph which when viewed stimulates many strong feelings in the brain.
Test results are good and objective evidence. We could even get our own copy of the results! 
State and Federal courts seek the objective facts. If there are no objective facts to prove guilt, the case gets dismissed. Objectivity is highly important and any false testimony is a big deal--the false witness can get into serious trouble.

Google and Facebook prohibit users from posting dangerous falsehoods that promote violence. Politicians promoting violence with falsehoods, get kicked off. Trump’s so called “Truth Social” is no longer available on Google Play.

Read here about how to separate PERSONAL OPINION from objective fact.
We all have personal opinions about what we like or don’t like. Or, about what we experienced or believe. Nothing wrong with this. Our feelings and opinions exist in our mind. They might even exist in a diary or journal; so they exist as history of what was in our mind. But just because something is written in history, does not mean it’s an objective fact. It could be a piece of propaganda, for example. 
Here’s an example of a boy’s personal opinion that he brushed his teeth, but really didn’t:
A eleven year old boy replies to his mother’s question, “Did you brush your teeth?” with, “Yes Mom I did!” The boy gave his subjective opinion, which he felt right in doing because he doesn’t like brushing his teeth and doesn’t accept that hygiene is all that important.
  • He didn’t brush his teeth and tried to get away with it.
  • Mom will want to confirm the truth of her son’s statement. Truthfulness training is ultimately highly important in child rearing. So she tells him to breathe out so she can smell his breath and then checks to see if his toothbrush is wet. Busted! This mom is thorough and she discourages lying by regularly checking her child’s honesty. Eventually she’ll be able to trust him. He will learn that lying doesn’t get him anywhere good.
In our daily lives, much of what we say and claim to have done is out of sight. So, lying and getting away with something is an easy option for people to give in to. But they won’t feel comfortable when the get found out. 
Those whose minds are contaminated with conspiracy theories still feel they have the truth. Unfortunately, their feeling that feels so right is only in their mind--but it's not anything in objective reality. Feelings are not objective facts, such as who won or lost an election. An election is an observable fact, independent of what a person feels about it. It is a fact that Biden lives in the Whitehouse. 
It is objective fact that dozens and dozens of courts have dismissed Trump's election lawsuits. 
My opinion is that 95% of republican congressmen and women always knew Biden won and Trump lost. But they selfishly would never admit the truth because Trump's Big Lie served their self interest. Republican voters were deceived by their very own representatives! The Republican Party has been deceiving their loyal voters for the last eight months. 
Trump's own Attorney General, Bill Barr, called Trump's election fraud claims "Bullshit." And Mitch McConnell, the most powerful republican senator, publicly and simply stated Biden won and would be the next president. Barr and McConnell are both conservative Republicans!

Psychologists have been studying thinking skills and thinking failures for many decades. The research shows that most adults believe they are good thinkers--but usually they aren’t. People believe they can be logical but when their skills are tested they mostly operate on feeling and vague impressions. The research shows that when average people are given more information to help them make a good logical decision, they actually make more logical errors (Bennett, 2004). 
From the simple examples above, it may seem that separating objective facts from personal opinions is pretty obvious. But the abstract concept is what’s important. To use the concept one must stop, think about what they’re seeing, hearing or reading; compare multiple versions; and draw conclusions. Lawyers and police get trained in this but not most people. One must be on guard for falsehoods and confusions; must mentally penetrate the incoming facts and opinions; and do some interrogating to discover the objective facts. That’s more work than fun; but once we have this skill we will find it precious indeed-- because we are less vulnerable to someone trying to cheat us. 
Wise mothers are routinely lovingly skeptical of what their kids say. They ask the right questions and check for evidence!
In American politics today, there is plenty of good information on the internet by which to know the objective facts of situations. But in today's internet world the actual facts are obscured by thousands of "alternative facts," outright lies, and distortions from self-interest.


            For references, see the relevant page on the website.

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Thursday, September 1, 2022

Biden's Success And Trump's Pathetic Diminishing. . . .



President Biden is a 79 year old lifelong politician who was humble enough to resist the initial recruitment efforts to make him the democratic candidate running against Trump in the 2016 election. Biden is, above all, a decent man and one whose political career has benefited America. 
Currently, as Trump’s popularity with voters has diminished to an almost record low, the Biden administration has been effectively working with the Congress and in recent months seen to the passage of substantial legislation. And Biden’s popularity has improved.
I have personally seen on TV some of President Biden’s verbal mistakes or pauses suggestive of confusion—but he recovers; and most importantly, President Biden is surrounded by staff who help him get the job done. 
Most of the American press have treated him with the respect he deserves. Most importantly, President Biden is a decent man who with his assistants is performing at least adequately. He is not dangerous and is more loyal to America than to any of his own self-interests. 
For the record, I grew up in a republican home, have been a registered republican my whole life, voted once for Trump and most recently for Biden. 

In the run up to the 2016 election, I watched all the republican forums and debates. Trump was the extreme outlier. He never actually debated anyone; instead, toward his fellow debaters he showed clear-cut disrespect by simply denying their point, mocking them, and pivoting to draw attention to himself. He made himself a scene to behold-- something more crazy than ever before in politics, such that you could not stop watching what was going to unfold next. And unfold it did. Boom! He was going to solve the crisis at the border by building a 2000 mile long wall. When asked who would pay for it, he didn’t pause at all. He nonchalantly said Mexico would pay for it. Mexico said no we won’t; and they didn’t.
Trump’s tactics never changed: grab people’s attention, speak what’s outlandish, give no respect appropriate to the occasion, no political correctness, no empathy, and arrogantly show no concern for the non-outliers on the stage. He only cared about his showmanship and capturing the audience. With his strategy, he never in his campaign produced a legitimate, stable platform to offer to American citizens. His impulsive randomness was always front and center. 
On the international scene, when then president Trump landed in Britain on a state visit, he found occasion to publicly insult the Mayor of London even before he had met him! Trump’s inappropriate official state visit comments led the Mayor to say that Trump’s behavior was what would be expected of an eleven year old boy. 
Former Director of the FBI Robert Mueller performed a thorough investigation of Trump’s alleged wrong-doings (there were seven charges in the indictment) which led to the first of his two impeachments. Mueller did not conclude that the Trump administration colluded with the Russians to affect the 2016 election; but Mueller identified activities which could be obstruction of justice; Mueller, appropriately , did not take the role of judge and say Trump had obstructed justice—that would be for the impeachment process in Congress to do.
With this short background, the point I want to make is as follows:
  • The Mueller report contains many, many incidents of Trump’s grossly inappropriate behavior and his own staff trying to protect Trump from himself—warning him about negative consequences.
  • But he ignored his staff’s warnings and charged ahead.
  • When the bad consequences came, he blamed his critics as just being political, or he mocked them, or he claimed it part of a hoax. 
  • Before during and after Trump’s two impeachments, he never changed. 
  • He never changed when he lost a significant case in federal court and the judge said, “You are not a king” (and above the law).
  • He never changed after he lost the election for a second term. Instead, he openly made wide-ranging efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including his prompting of the insurrection attempt January 6th.
  • Before, during and after two impeachments the Republicans in the Senate let Trump off the hook and did not convict him of the charges. Instead they continued to support Trump. And 95% of the republican Congressmen and women turned hostile and mute to the Democrats’ attempts to hold him responsible and prevent his further damage to democracy.

Could America have avoided and escaped all together the Trump 2017-2020 presidency?  Yes! 
They could have by listening to Senator Mitt Romney. 
On March 3, 2016, toward the end of the Republican debate series, I watched on TV,  Mr. Romney’s speech in which he called out Trump as a fraud.
I watched and listened closely to Senator Romney’s speech. It was clear and the publicly known facts justified his opinion. 
Because Trump has always been such a self-promoting and personally revealing public figure, what Mr. Romney had to say was not surprising at all. Trump’s obvious character flaws and lack of political office experience, along with his chronically disruptive behavior during the primaries—all of this made it seem impossible that he could be allowed to become the Republican candidate for president.

It was the machinery of the Republican National Party (GOP for short) which caused him to be the candidate. Their rules ruled and the republican delegates from all over the country cast their votes at the convention. He needed 50%. He got 70% of the delegate votes, making him the presidential candidate by a considerable margin.

What follows is a collection of evidence for voters to keep in mind and act upon to protect America from Trump, who spreads conspiracy theories, lies, and routinely contributes to the dysfunction of all. Trump is dangerous to democratic government and there is no reason to believe that the 76 year old Trump will ever change. 
Voters need to read and understand why Trump can still be dangerous because he is a showman, has a following, and to this day continues to explore ways to violate the laws of this country. He wants to win. To win for the sake of winning. He is a man who, when president, and in his ignorance, flirted with the idea of pardoning himself for the crimes of which he has being accused. Or maybe he was just toying with public opinion.
Trump continues on with the Big Lie of election fraud. He just recently has been demanding the 2020 election be undone, like it never happened, so we could have a new election! The height of Trump’s arrogance and presumptuousness is that he has been kicked off from some major social media for spreading misinformation and racist attitudes; he had to resort to creating his own new social media site called, “Truth Social.” And on “Truth Social” he is just being the same guy with the Big Lies. Lately, his audience on “Truth Social” has been decreasing; and, a wished for merger has been put on hold. Not promising. Some news media find signs everyone is getting tired of his antics.
In 2019 Michael Cohen, the attorney known as Trump’s legal problem “fixer,” explained how Trump was like a mob boss who escaped consequences of illegal activity by only implying what subordinates needed to do—and then they would do so. Cohen predicted well how Trump as president would successfully avoid being held accountable. Cohen pled guilty and testified at great length to Congress about Trump and his history of wrong-doing. Trump showed us everything Cohen warned us about.
These Trump associates have pled guilty or been convicted of crimes related to their loyal service to Trump. Not unexpectedly, Trump pardoned several of them prior to leaving office, but not Cohen, of course.
Allen Weisselberg (CFO of Trump Organization)
Rick Gates
Paul Manafort
Michael Cohen
George Papadopoulos
Roger Stone
Michael Flynn
George Nader
Elliot Broidy
Steve Bannon
The republicans in the Senate insured Trump would not be found guilty of any of the charges from the two, separate impeachments. This fact is the biggest reason Trump has not been held accountable so far. He never admits error. I’ve never seen or read of him apologizing or taking responsibility for misbehavior.
Almost all republican congressmen have never publicly acknowledged Trump’s wrongdoings. And right wing conservative states have passed hundreds of laws trying to fix election fraud, fraud which was non existent.  But those right wing conservative states have been passing dozens of laws impeding voting rights with measures which likely will affect minorities the most.
All of the federal courts have dismissed the dozens of lawsuits brought by Trump with his Big Lie conspiracy theory of election fraud. The only election fraud which has shown up in national news is Trump’s attempts to “find” himself more votes in Georgia to make him the winner in the last election. The consensus and expert opinion results on the 2020 election was that it was the most accurate and fraud free ever. Trump's claims were just that Big Lie once again. Several of Trump’s lawyers have already or will lose their licenses to practice law because of their ethical violations. 
In 2019 a British medical journal (Lancet) published research estimating and concluding that 40% of the first 500,000 COVID-19 American deaths were preventable; and these researchers concluded that Trump dismissed the seriousness of COVID-19 even though he privately believed it to be serious. They said he refused to support interventions which were known to be helpful:
He politicized mask wearing, and held indoor events “[A] ttended by thousands, where masks were discouraged and physical distancing was impossible.”

Americans will be voting this November in the mid-term elections. Everyone should make every last effort to vote. Individual voters must somehow sort out which actual, nitty gritty ISSUES are most important for OUR COUNTRY’S WELFARE. 
In this blog I’ve been clear in saying that President Biden is a decent man worthy of respect. He is a man with a reasonable agenda for helping the vast majority of citizens. There also are republican politicians, apart from Trump, who are decent men and would be capable presidents.

What’s coming up in future blogs. I’m digging deeper and deeper into (1) why we the people have surprisingly little voting power over our government; and, (2) why the supreme court with all their intellectual capacities can confuse themselves on certain cases. Some cases and findings I’ve been reading defy common sense.


  1350 Words   INTRODUCTION Here’s what happened in America   on January 6 th , 2021: “After refusing to concede the 2020 U.S. preside...