Disposable Neighborhoods ?


Once again a favorite nemesis of mine, Michael Hicks, is advocating that government abandon the less fortunate members of our communities by abandoning their neighborhoods. Hicks is the Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University.  In case you missed it, Ball State was in 2016 the recipient of a 3.25 million dollar grant from the Charles Koch Foundation and John Schnatter, the owner of Papa Johns and a Ball State alumnus.

Hicks is a frequent guest columnist in the Indianapolis Star whose columns typically appear on the editorial page of the Sunday edition. Interestingly, today’s column appears on the first page of the Business section. The heading, “Sustaining middle-class areas is key in the Rust Belt,” is as misleading as are his usual arguments. Although he mentions how small expenditures by local governments can avoid decay in middle-class neighborhoods, the thrust of his column is the necessity to avoid such expenditures in distressed neighborhoods. He argues that the recovery of distressed neighborhoods in a decade or two is unlikely. He writes of the inevitability of shrinking “urban footprints” in smaller cities, that he attributes to long term population decline which he forecasts will persist through much of the twenty first century.

What he scrupulously avoids is any discussion of the cause of this. This avoidance is most telling when he cites vacancy rates in Terre Haute, South Bend and Muncie but makes no mention of Muncie’s close neighbor, Anderson, which is far more distressed. The reason for that avoidance is most likely the undeniable cause of the decay in Anderson, the departure of General Motors to Mexico and China facilitated by the provisions of the WTO and NAFTA. Conservative commentators typically ignore globalization as a cause of unemployment and the resulting urban decay and the rust in the Rust Belt, consistently arguing that it is a consequence of technological development.

In a post on February 20, 2017 (still available on this blog archive), I addressed a column in the Indianapolis Star by Hicks in which he offered the mechanization of agriculture as evidence that our current economic angst was caused by technology , not globalization. I responded with historical fact that demonstrated the absurdity of his argument.

A part of the Hicks argument is correct. Technological gains have made the problem worse but did not start it. Those gains will continue and will make the problem worse .Walking away from it, as Hicks seems to advocate, ignores the impact on people. He also ignores the reality that those middle-class neighborhoods he values will slowly, or maybe not so slowly, become like the neighborhoods he proposes to abandon. Notice that when he speaks of neighborhoods he never mentions people.

He also fails to mention the bigger cities such as Indianapolis and Gary where the decaying and decayed neighborhoods are populated by racial and ethnic minorities. Maybe he did not notice or maybe the mention of that would offend Charles Koch.


What’s In A Tweet

At 12:14 p.m. on December 2, 2017, a tweet was published from Donald Trump’s Twitter account which stated, in part, that he had fired General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. The inclusion of the allegation that lying to the FBI was part of the reason for firing General Flynn was a new disclosure and it almost immediately provoked questions that if Trump knew this when he fired Flynn why was he just now disclosing it. In other words, it was incriminating. Shortly thereafter John Dowd, one of Trump’s lawyers, stated publicly that he had drafted the tweet and had done so sloppily. In an interview with Axios this morning, Dowd said the tweet was his mistake and he was “out of the tweeting business.”


Later Dowd told NBC News that he drafted the tweet and then sent it to White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino to publish. When asked for the original email he sent to Scavino, Dowd said he dictated it orally. When asked how frequently he did that he said. “Just this once”.


When I saw the first Dowd disclosure on Facebook, I commented that Dowd had just waived the attorney-client privilege. At the time I made some assumptions that I still think may be correct, Mr. Dowd’s assertions to the contrary notwithstanding. However, even if my assumptions are correct, the situation is more complex than my original comment, and if Dowd’s statement is completely true, they may be even more complex.


In the interest of full disclosure I have some history with Mr. Dowd. In late 1983 I conducted an internal investigation for a client which resulted in the expulsion of a person who was a subject of a federal criminal investigation. Mr. Dowd represented that person. It was a brief but turbulent interaction. Nothing that Mr. Dowd does or says surprises me.


My assumption was that after Flynn’s guilty plea, Dowd rather impulsively drafted the tweet in question and advised Trump to publish it, which Trump did. Then the internet lit up with remarks that Trump had just incriminated himself. My next assumption is that Trump started raising hell with Dowd, who agreed to take responsibility by publicly stating that he had drafted the tweet, and Dowd promptly did so.


With Dowd’s claim that he drafted and published the tweet, the attorney-client privilege would not be implicated, if he did not get Trump’s consent to make the public assumption of responsibility, since it would not be a disclosure of an attorney-client communication. Dowd has not specifically denied that Trump knew of the drafting and publication of the tweet.

I suspect that Dowd will soon get a subpoena from Mueller. So will Scavino.  Dowd will also certainly be asked why he made the statement that lying to the FBI was one of the reasons for firing Flynn. If my assumption is correct that Dowd is trying to cover for advising Trump to publish a tweet that was true but incriminating, Dowd’s appearance before the Grand Jury may be his most difficult appearance in his long career. Honest answers to the questions may incriminate him on several theories or, depending on the answers, might incriminate his client.


In Defense Of Bernie or What’s In a Name

The Washington Post recently carried an article titled The Party Is Over which discussed the impact of social media on U.S. political party discipline. After detailing the obvious many fractures in the Republican party, including the election of a president who ran on the Republican ticket and recognizes no obligation to the party, the article claimed that the Democratic party was at least as fractured although it was not so public.

“The internal bloodletting is at least as fierce, though perhaps less public, among Democrats. They, too, nearly lost control of their presidential nomination last year. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) showed scant desire to be a Democrat through his long political career in Vermont, but he has decided late in life to pursue an ideological takeover. The septuagenarian revolutionary continues to galvanize the left wing against leading Democrats, and neither he nor his people are interested in making nice”. WASHINGTON Post, October 20, 2017

My Facebook post of the article stimulated a lengthy debate among three commenters, two of whom were female. At least one urged that Bernie Sanders was not a Democrat and implied, I thought,  that for that reason he did not deserve the support of Democratic voters. I know he does not claim to be a member of the Democratic party,  whatever that means, but the issues he espouses have a long history in the Democratic party. Also, I think it is nearly certain that the voters in Vermont who have elected him to various offices through the years are Democratic voters. Those same voters have elected Patrick Leahy to the U.S. Senate repeatedly since 1975. I also note that Sanders caucuses with the Democrats in in the Senate. Further, it is my recollection that he campaigned for Hillary in the general election, after dismissing claims by Republicans about her emails in a debate with her during the primaries.

Politics is the art of coalition. The failure of the Republican party to coalesce around an opponent of Trump secured him the nomination. It is not clear that a failure to coalesce caused Hillary’s loss in the general election , mostly because there are several other plausible causes. In the last three presidential elections the  Democratic party has had a healthy majority of the popular vote, but if coalescing means voting, it is not happening in the off year elections, at least in numbers sufficient to offset gerrymandering, which has resulted in Republican control of Congress with a minority of votes. And the nearly three million popular vote margin Hillary received was not enough to offset the Republican advantage in the Electoral College. We can blame the Founders for that who insisted on that to preserve slavery, and it was very effective until it elected Lincoln.

The key to constructing an electoral majority is compromise. I think the Democrats did that at the organizational level in the general election, as evidenced by the popular vote majority. But there is conjecture that Bernie’s primary voters in the formerly blue rust belt states either did not vote or voted for Trump. That poses two questions, the first of which is whether they would have voted for Bernie rather than Trump in the general election, and the second is whether Hillary’s voters would have voted for Bernie.

I think a more relevant question is whether the Democrats were waging an identity campaign rather than an issues campaign. Trump managed to do both, although we now know that his issues platform was mostly fraudulent.

The Democrats lost the election in those previously blue states in the rust belt, the economies of which have been ravaged by the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico and China. The losses to Mexico are directly attributed to NAFTA. Conservatives are quick to argue that automation is the culprit, but there is no evidence that any factories were ever moved to Mexico to automate them.

Perhaps those formerly blue state  Democratic voters recalled that NAFTA was ratified by a majority of Republicans after it was submitted for a vote on ratification by President William Clinton who urged its ratifications. Maybe those blue state voters did not want him anywhere near the White House.

The Limberlost and the Paris Accords

(Guest post by Jennifer Bowman, who regularly writes about nature, travel and life at The Trailhead.)

Loblolly Marsh Preserve in northeastern Indiana

Up until the late 19th century, there was a vast wetland in my home state of Indiana that stretched across five or six counties, called the Limberlost. The Limberlost featured now-unimaginable heights of biological diversity; it was home to huge numbers of plants, birds, moths, and other creatures. Full of life, the beautiful, terrible Limberlost was also notorious for its quicksands and its questionable characters. It must have been an extraordinary place.

A woman named Gene Stratton-Porter, born in the middle of the Civil War, made a life and a career in writing and photography on the edges of the Limberlost. She turned out more than twenty books inspired by nature as it was found there, including A Girl of the Limberlost, The Keeper of the Bees, and Moths of the Limberlost. Stratton-Porter mastered photography when it was still relatively new, after her child had gone to school and she’d done the daily work that was required, back then, for a woman to take immaculate care of her home and family. In her free hours, she plied the wetlands of the Limberlost with the dedication of a monk, dutifully recording, photographing, and observing its inhabitants and features.

As her life and career progressed, she was forced to watch as the Limberlost was, in her words, “cleared, drained, and ploughed up,” having “fallen prey to commercialism through the devastation of lumbermen, oilmen, and farmers.” The Swamp Act of 1850 encouraged the wholesale draining of swamplands throughout the country, and by the early part of the twentieth century, most Indiana wetlands  had been decimated, including the Limberlost. There is nothing left of the original Limberlost today, though a tiny portion of it has been carefully restored by a few heroic souls. The Loblolly Marsh Preserve, located in what was once the heart of the Limberlost, now spans about 440 acres. The original marsh was more than 13,000.

When I first began reading about Stratton-Porter’s life, I wondered what it had been like for her to watch the source of her life’s work drained to its inevitable death, stripped of its lumber and converted to farms, as the moths and other life Stratton-Porter wrote about and photographed died out slowly.

I wondered about that again this week, as the United States announced its withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, a voluntary set of agreements designed to set the world on the path to ameliorating and slowing global climate change. I realized there is a good chance that will be the lot of my generation and those after me, all over again – to watch as the natural world I love is slowly baked into devastation or stripped and paved over. Already since my birth in 1970, a huge amount of wildlife – by some estimates, as much as half – has been decimated. As I write this, there is a massive crack forming in the Antarctic ice shelf – 11 miles of it in the last six days. Eight more miles, and an iceberg the size of Delaware will calve off, forever changing the Antarctic Peninsula. I wonder if the most fundamental lesson of our time will be that human beings were sufficiently sophisticated to create the technology sufficient for environmental destruction, but too tribal and cultish to find the will to avert it.

I hope that’s not the case. My usual tendency is to look for the hope in a given situation, but I’m not sure that’s justified or appropriate here. And anyway, hope isn’t entirely required or even relevant. We’ll do what we need to do, because it’s the right thing to do, and because there is no other choice. Governors and mayors will become more important in the absence of federal leadership on renewables. Business will continue to prepare for the inevitable policy changes that have been only delayed, not barred forever, because ignoring climate change has become bad for the bottom line. That’s why we saw the likes of Elon Musk, Tim Cook and other CEOs criticizing the Paris withdrawal. One reason for that is, simply, public opinion. That means the opinion of ordinary people, like me, who will continue to press for environmental responsibility, because I don’t want to watch the slow death of any more Limberlosts.

So progress will continue to be made. But we are in a bit of a race against time, and the certainty of the outcome can no longer be the most prominent factor in responsible environmentalism. We just have to do the right thing because it’s the right thing.

The Limberlost is gone. There will likely be a great deal of the natural world gone, too, by the end of my life. My state is just now beginning to ameliorate the environmental destruction that occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as smaller restorations of prairies and wetlands, like the Nature Conservancy’s Kankakee Sands and DNR’s Goose Pond, pop up all over the state. There has been destruction, and then recovery and restoration, albeit on a much smaller scale, and much later. This seems to be the human way – we are often unable to stop ourselves before we’ve trashed the place, and while we often have restorations, or truth and reconciliation commissions, or war crimes tribunals – essential to the human process of learning and accountability — there is no way to recover the lost life.
As the Limberlost shrank, Gene Stratton Porter had to pick up and move to the north end of the wetland which hadn’t yet been drained, enabled to do so by the financial rewards of her earlier writing. But eventually, she moved to California, where she died in 1924. Stratton-Porter was fortunate that the environmental destruction she lived through was localized, and she had places to move. Future generations won’t be so lucky.


I am not aware of any evidence pointing surely and unerringly to the guilt of Donald Trump or Mike Pence of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ but I am aware of a long list of circumstantial evidence pointing toward Trump and more recently some pointing toward Pence.

Many members of the media and many members of the public talk of impeachment of Trump and now also of Pence. Significantly, both Congressional Democrats and Republicans for the most part discourage such talk, although Democrats in Congress and elsewhere speak frequently and loudly of the need for investigations both criminal and Congressional, primarily focused on Russian interference in the 2016 election and the possible collusion of the Trump campaign with that effort by the Russians. It is certainly reasonable to avoid urging impeachment in the absence of strong evidence that it is warranted.

But there is something else at work the avoidance of which is not so easily justified. The lack of conclusive evidence in the face of so much suggestive evidence would seem to require some expedition in the investigations slowly underway in both the House and the Senate. Foot dragging describes it as well as anything and that is clearly the responsibility of Republicans who control both houses of Congress and therefore all the committees that could investigate the issues. It is fair to say that recently the Senate committee appears to be through with delay.

Whether or not to delay presents the Republicans with an agonizing political choice. From one perspective it would seem they have an easy choice. If they impeach and convict Trump they get Pence, the one they would clearly prefer. But that would cost them many Trump supporters, who constitute perhaps half of their base, and their voter support in the last election added up to a minority. So delay may be a rational option politically. The recent progress of the Senate committee may be explained in part by the fact that the Republican chairman has announced he will not seek re-election. Furthermore, delay is not without its political cost. The lingering uncertainty about the Russian issue, coupled with Trump’s obvious instability and continual favoritism towards Russia is like a Chinese water torture directed on the Republican party. The longer it goes on, the better the chances of the Democrats in 2018.

Now suppose, after months of delay, late in 2018 Mr. Mueller’s investigation results in one or more multiple count, multiple defendant indictments, one of which names Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator. Even if it came earlier in 2018, the political pressure on the Republicans in the House to bring a bill of impeachment would be enormous.

Timing would become critical. If the process could be started and completed before the new Congress, Pence could pick the new Vice President if he could get a majority in both houses to ratify his choice. Depending on the choice, that might be difficult.

If one of those indictments also named Pence as an unindicted co-conspirator, either in one that named Trump or in a separate one, a plethora of questions without precedent would arise. Would they be tried together? If Trump were tried first and convicted Pence would automatically become President. Would Congress consider any choice of Vice President he made under those circumstances. It might if he named Paul Ryan.

Another question without precedent is what the consequences would be if impeachment was pending but not yet tried by the Senate when the old Congress expired in January, 2019. The most likely answer is it would be whatever the new Senate decided. Such a decision is not reviewable by the Courts.

If both Trump and Pence were impeached and convicted and Pence had not been able to name a Vice President, Ryan would become president if that happened before the new Congress took office. If that happened in 2019 and the Democrats took control of the House in that election the new President might be Nancy Pelosi. Will that motivate the Republicans to hurry?

The Riddle That is Flynn

When I first read the story about General Flynn’s lawyer publicly requesting immunity from prosecution in exchange for Flynn telling his story and assuring all that Flynn had a story to tell, I thought it was a case of a lawyer with experience in civil law working in an area in which he was not qualified. There were several reasons for that conclusion.

Negotiations of the type he sought to start are rarely, if ever, initiated in public for very good reasons. In a complicated conspiracy case involving numerous potential defendants, it can become a race to the prosecutor if it becomes known that one of the potential defendants wants to cooperate with the prosecution in exchange for some advantage. The advantage usually sought in such a case is a deal for a guilty plea to a lesser offense than those that could be charged. Sometimes the deal is for immunity from prosecution but that unusual event is usually in a situation in which the evidence against the deal seeker is not strong and the testimony on offer is strong against one or more of the other potential defendants and not otherwise readily available to the prosecution. That would not seem to be the fact in this case. The facts set forth in the numerous media reports strongly suggest there are several charges that could be brought against Flynn based on his behavior alone in addition to one of conspiracy in which the evidence is not so clear in the public domain. If the media reports are true, Most of the non-conspiracy charges would be easily provable.

Finally, if the government wanted to compel Flynn to testify they would not have to grant him immunity from prosecution. What Flynn’s lawyer requested is what is known as transactional immunity .If Flynn were called before a grand jury and when questioned claimed his Fifth Amendment privilege from self-incrimination the government could compel his testimony by granting him use immunity, which is immunity from any direct or derivative use of his testimony against him. He would still be subject to prosecution In this case it is difficult to see why they would have any reason to do that unless his testimony would implicate someone against whom other evidence was weak or nonexistent.

In any event, if the government was going to negotiate any kind of deal for his testimony they would require him to tender a written proffer of the testimony he could give and do so in specific detail. Such a document would be subject to direct and derivative use immunity even if the parties did not reach a deal. Because of that the government would be reluctant to request it unless they already had the evidence they wanted to use against Flynn.

Those considerations were in my mind when I first concluded that Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, was not usually involved in criminal defense. To confirm that suspicion I went to Google and started researching. I found that he is a partner the highly regarded law firm of Covington and Burling. One of his three areas of practice is criminal defense. So much for that assumption.

Then I learned that he opposed Trump and supported Evan McMillin. Since Trump fired Flynn I suppose it should be no surprise that Flynn hired a lawyer who opposed Trump. But I had thought that the firing of Flynn was a sweetheart deal between Trump and Flynn necessitated because of Flynn’s failure to be truthful with Pence, who was an innocent bystander to the conspiracy I suspected. Could that still be the case? Since Kelner’s actions are so atypical and his proposals so unlikely to be accepted, could it be that their purpose was to create the impression that Trump and Flynn are genuinely adversarial and thus not co-conspirators? Or is this just a spiteful playground fight in which Flynn wants to suggest that he has the goods on Trump. In a conspiracy case it is difficult to have the goods on someone unless you are also implicated. Maybe it is just as simple as Flynn deciding he is not going down alone. I do think time will reveal the answer.



Trump claims that Obama wire tapped Trump Tower during the election campaign. Based on what we know today, I would be amazed if that did not happen. Let me explain.

On January 17, 2017 I published on this blog a post titled “A Lingering Uncertainty.” You can still read it here and I suggest you do so if you are interested in this episode in our ongoing national drama. It makes complete sense out of Trump’s claim. In that post I set out an extensive, detailed review of what the public knew at the time about the Russian interference in the November election. It described a document created by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 agent with numerous contacts in Russia which reported, among other things, numerous allegations of cooperation between Trump and Russia in implementing the benefits to the Trump campaign of the documents obtained through the Russian hacking of the DNC. The document had been given to the FBI.

My post also states that an unconfirmed report stated that the FBI had begun an investigation of Russia’s interaction with the Trump campaign, which investigation included the presentation of an affidavit for a search warrant to a FISA judge seeking a warrant for a search directed at Trump aides’ contact with Russian officials. The application was denied twice, but after some revisions was granted on a third request to a different FISA judge.

That is the key to understanding what I said about Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped his campaign. We do not have a copy of the application or the warrant but we can be reasonably sure that it did not direct a physical search or we would have heard about it when it happened. Physical warrant searches of highly public people and places are very visible events. What it probably authorized was a clandestine tap on the Trump campaign phones and/or those of campaign personnel. If the FBI had that authorization we can be certain they used it. Any action by an agency of the executive branch of the US government is taken in the name of the President. Therefore the claim that Obama tapped Trump’s phones is literally true but grossly misleading.

The question is whether Trump found it out or finally figured it out.

He then compared this revelation (to him) to Nixon and Watergate. Once again, there is an underlying truth in what he said but not in the sense he meant it. Once again, let me explain. I view this in anticipation of a multi-defendant indictment in which Trump, like Nixon, will be named as an unidentified co-conspirator. The reason is that under our Constitution a sitting President cannot be charged with a federal crime. Before that can occur, he must be impeached and convicted. Of course, if he wants to expedite the process he can resign, like Nixon did.


Rebutting Conservative Economic Theory

The Indy Star of Sunday, February 19, 2017 carried a column by Michael Hicks, the Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University. His website is titled “Weekly Commentary.” I have read his articles in the Star previously but I can’t say if they carry him weekly. What I can say is his column always carries an ultra-conservative economic argument. Occasionally I agree with some of his generalizations but I am in strong disagreement with his efforts to minimize the impact of globalization on employment and economic well-being.

His method is similar to one I have noticed is frequently used by conservative economic theorists, which is to contend that globalization has more benefits than detriments and most unemployment is consequence of technology, not globalization. Of course, the reason for this argument is technology cannot be stopped or slowed so there is nothing to be done about it, but globalization is a consequence of political decisions which could be undone, such as joining the WTO and signing NAFTA. This enables them to avoid being confronted by the awful reality of the consequences of globalization visited on the people, communities and states of the Midwest.

But let’s focus on Hick’s Sunday column. He claims that technology played “an outsized role” in job losses in one Hoosier industry, which he later named in the column as agriculture. He writes that technology is responsible for the internal combustion engine, the skill of chemists and the innovations of GPS satellites, and this has caused the loss of 1.5 million jobs in agriculture in Indiana alone. He contends that the gains from this globalization have been accompanied by devastating losses to related industries and job losses among the most vulnerable demographic groups. He cites no statistics for this claim.

It is beyond dispute that over the course of the 1900’s there were dramatic changes in the structure of the agricultural industry in the Midwest, including the displacement of labor by machines, mostly powered by internal combustion engines. Here is what he does not mention. The creation of those machines and the automobiles, trucks and buses that were being manufactured in the US, and many in the Midwest, were creating many more jobs than were being lost to agriculture. They were not creating jobs for the 14 to 18 year olds who he claimed were dropping out of school to work on the farm, which most would see as a benefit, although it is well to remember that machinery did not replace labor instantly. That happened over time.

The manufacture of those machines provided the economic engine that began to roll back the effects of the depression and then powered the US industry that overcame Nazi Germany and Japan in World War 2. It went on to power the highest standard of living in human history.

Now why would he never mention that? There is a reason for his silence on that point. It is the same reason he wanted to write about the mechanization of agriculture as though it happened in a vacuum. That manufacturing industry has been devastated in the Midwest by globalization under the WTO and NAFTA, the forces that are not mentioned in his column.

The extent of this destruction, which is very much like the destruction he described as a result of technology on agriculture, is described in detail in a book published in 2008 titled “Caught in the Middle“ by Richard Longworth. The damage he describes cannot be effectively summarized in an article of a length appropriate for a blog post, but I can provide vignettes of evidence.

Federal unemployment figures can be misleading. They do not accurately quantify unemployment in the US. They do not include those who have given up trying to find employment for which they are qualified. Those people are no longer considered a part of the labor force in the US for statistical purposes. This fact gives us a way to determine their approximate number. They are about the number of the difference between the size of the pre NAFTA labor force and the size of the present labor force, which in spite of population growth and increase in employment numbers since the 2008 recession, are significantly lower. Those employment numbers also do not reflect the long term underemployed. Those numbers can only be determined by visiting the communities still experiencing the impact of jobs moving to Mexico and China. They once thrived. Could that be the reason Hicks wanted to focus on the impact of technology on Agriculture? Here is another piece of evidence. In 1980 UAW membership in Madison County, Indiana was 64,000. Today, UAW membership in the US is about 64,000. It should be no surprise that the workers in Mexico and China are not unionized. Nor did companies move their plants to Mexico to automate them.

Finally, it is difficult to see how “the skill of chemists” and “the innovations of GPS satellites” contributed to the loss of 1.5 million jobs in Hoosier agriculture. Maybe he will tell us in next week’s commentary.

Elizabeth Warren, persistence and the Constitution

Of course she persisted. It was the rational and lawful thing to do. In all the discussion of Senator Warren being silenced for violating Senate Rule 19, a very important point seems to have been obscured, and perhaps that was part of McConnell’s plan, if he had a plan and was not acting on the spur of the moment. The controversy seems to have focused on his sexism. That will not hurt him with his base, and it diverts attention from the substance of her remarks to who she is – a woman.

Let’s look at the substantive point, which is the applicability of the rule. Here is the text. “… no Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words, impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”

In 1986 the United States Senate rejected Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions for a federal judgeship because of his racism. They certainly would have considered evidence of that. We know that Coretta Scott King sent a letter with a ten page attachment to Senator Strom Thurmond to present to the committee considering Sessions for the judgeship. It is not clear that Thurmond, a committed racist himself, placed it in the official record. It is clear that the Senate would have considered the issues raised in the letter. That is the same letter Senator Warren was reading from when she was silenced

In 1986 Sessions was found by the United States Senate not fit to be a federal judge because of his racism. In 2017, in a debate on the floor of the United States Senate, he could not be accused of racism, by a majority vote of the Senate, because he was a sitting Senator.

That interpretation and application of Rule 19 is illogical and unconstitutional. The illogic is apparent. The unconstitutionality requires some context. Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution vests the power of appointment of officers of the United States with the President “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” Rule 19 as applied to Senator Warren would render the Senate unable to debate the relevance and/or the credibility of the accusation of the most offensive and disqualifying behavior of the appointee, if the appointee was a sitting United State Senator. The United States Senate, by a majority vote, approved that illogical and unconstitutional constraint on its advice and consent.

Apparently Senators had second thoughts when Senator Sanders began quoting from the King letter. Could it be that if they did not change course, they would have been compelled to silence nearly one half of the Senators. No adjective can adequately describe the negativity of the optics that would have attached to that spectacle.

Rule 19 has a very reasonable application. It prevents one Senator from addressing a personal insult to another Senator in debate, rather than addressing the substance of that other Senator’s argument. This is something President Trump does every day, but he is not restrained by Rule 19.

We now have an Attorney General who was found by the United States Senate to be unfit for a federal judgeship because of his racism. It would have been useful to hear if he had changed since 1986. His actions in the Senate gave little or no evidence of such a change

The following link is to the King letter and the ten page attachment:


#ReSister: A view from the Women’s March

This is a guest post by Friend-of-Hoosier Pamphleteer Rose Hook, who attended the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., ,and offers some observations below. You can follow Rose on Twitter here.

This is my “content” face. Not a toothy smile for the cameras – not trying to look pretty – not a flattering pic – yet radiating happiness from within, awash in pink pussycat hats. 💕😻💕


As a WOC – and Asian – which typically doesn’t get a lot of of press:

1) I was tickled to see an Asian woman Speaker wearing a cap that said – “Not a model minority.”

2) Speaking to the issue of white privilege, no doubt it exists – yet as a biracial woman – I’ve experienced the ignorance, hate, and discrimination from both sides – White/Caucasian & Asian.

a) In Middle School I was ambushed and spit on by three white boys who yelled, “Go back to your own country!” (This caused me shame & conflict as I have an ancestor who fought in the U.S. Civil War as a Union soldier and I grew up in the USA. This IS my country. My mother said at the time, “But you don’t even have an accent. I don’t understand. I wanted you to grow up in America so you would have a better life. If you grew up in Korea you would be a 2nd class citizen having mixed blood.”)

b) The mother of my Korean boyfriend of 2 years in college warned him not to get too serious about me because my mother was most likely a prostitute (having married a white man).

c) And we have mixed children like my daughter who has blond hair/blue eyes yet will call out classmates who do the “Ching Chang Chinese eyes” – STOP – That’s racist! My mom is Korean!

3) To all my Sisters – I stand with you – and acknowledge your struggles for EQUALITY & life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

4) Let us not become a house divided. Our white sisters who haven’t experienced racial discrimination – have experienced discrimination as a woman (sexism & misogyny) – and when they join hands with us to learn, to seek understanding, to help – let us embrace them & inform them, (not wag an angry, punitive finger at them). Anyone who wants to SEE me and the issues I face, and stand up with me – I will embrace them and accept their love – it comes from a good place. (Just as I was embraced by the struggles of many that I learned more about at the march, and continue to learn to gain a better understanding.)

5) And yes, let it be known I was taking notes. Very Asian of me. And I was/am feeling loved and seen. This is the first time since the election I was able let go of the anger/despair and celebrate life. That is the best thing we can do – is to show our oppressor that we’re not afraid – we will freely live & love out loud! ❤️

#ReSisters #womensmarch #WomensMarchOnWashington