Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| July 22, 2022 7:00 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact.

A recent sampling:

The recent rash of decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, from various sources: revoking the constitutional right to an abortion, decided 6-3; sided with a public school coach who prayed publicly at games, decided 6-3; Maine cannot exclude religious schools from receiving state tuition funds, decided 6-3; the U.S. President has full authority to end “remain in Mexico,” decided 5-4; imposed limits on the EPA’s ability to reduce greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, decided 6-3; a 6-3 decision struck down a New York gun law and said Americans have the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, expected to impact 25% of the population.

The justices responsible for the most divisive decisions claim if a topic is not in the Constitution, it has no legal standing, an Originalist philosophy.

Politico reported that Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion to the Roe vs. Wade decision, said fellow Justices “should reconsider” past rulings on contraception, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.

He did not mention interracial marriage, likely because he is in one.

Many see the recent stance by Supreme Court ultra-conservatives as contrary to the Founders intentions, such as pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

To re-balance the court, court reform proposals, shared by Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary: term limits for Justices, enforce ethics standards, require financial disclosures, expand the court (done seven times before) and rotate justices.

With the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, Katanji Brown Jackson was recently sworn in.

To overrule a Supreme Court decision requires approval from two-thirds of state legislatures, which initiates a constitutional amendment. To ratify an amendment requires three-fourths of the states, something that has occurred 17 times in the nation’s history, The New York Times wrote.

On June 29, the House Jan. 6 hearings got a riveting earful from Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to former President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

From that testimony, shared by various media sources, numerous legal experts have told media the likelihood that Trump will face criminal charges is heightened, since prosecutors will be able to meet the burden of proof for solicitation to commit a crime of violence, and Obstruction of Congress, as well as possibly for seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Under oath, Hutchinson shared: Meadows told her on Jan. 2 that “things might get real real bad on Jan. 6.” [Nine people did die.] She was with Trump and others backstage before Trump’s Jan. 6 speech; he was angry that the area for the crowd was not full.

When told it was because security was slow because of using magnetometers to screen for weapons (another aide had told Meadows that people were armed with knives, bear spray and other weapons),

Trump said the detectors should be taken down and he didn’t “f*ing care” if people had weapons because, “They’re not here to hurt me,” even though plans included marching with armed people to the Capitol where the presidential vote was to be counted.

Hutchinson said Trump was adamant about joining marchers to the Capitol, and when the Secret Service refused to take him, Trump said “I’m the f*ing President, take me to the Capitol now!”

Enraged, he reportedly lunged at a SS agent. (Hutchinson also testified to a Trump tantrum, wherein the president threw his lunch at a White House wall and broke plates when his Attorney General told him the election was not stolen.

She was warned to not help clean up and to stay clear of Trump.) Video shown by the House committee included Trump’s former security advisor, Michael Flynn, taking the Fifth Amendment when Committee member Rep. Liz Cheney asked him if he believed in the peaceful transfer of political power.

He also pleaded the Fifth when asked if the Jan. 6 Capitol violence was legally justified. Hutchinson was asked by White House counsel Pat Cipollone to “please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol; we’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable.”

His concerns were “obstructing justice or obstructing the electoral count” and looking like “we were inciting a riot.” After the riot started, Hutchinson said she heard Meadows tell Cipillone that Trump didn’t want “to do anything about it.”

Then discussion about rioters calling for hanging Vice President Mike Pence saw Cipillone telling Meadows, “We need to do something…he [Trump] doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong, and [Trump thinks] Mike deserves it.”

It took hours for Trump to tell the rioters to go home. Hutchinson said the next day Trump was advised to deliver remarks about national healing, but Trump faulted Pence, not the rioters, for the riot. Concerned that invoking the 25th Amendment would relieve him of the Presidency, Trump did offer public remarks, but refused to say “this election is now over.”

At least two more House hearings are scheduled for July.

In speaking recently at the Reagan Presidential Library, Rep. Liz Cheney drew applause when she said "…Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution.”

Regarding Ukraine, their pro-Russia neighbor Belarus is soliciting massive military enlistment.

Blast from the past: After 30 years missing, a family in Brazil recently found their beloved turtle in the attic.

Turtles can live up to three years without food; they suspect theirs survived on termite larvae.