Category Archives: All Posts

Trail Mix Facelift

blog-facelift4We’ve got a new look, partly due to an outdated blog theme that became obsolete, and also because it was time for something different.

We’ve had so many iterations since launching nearly 10 years ago (June, 2005) I’ve lost count. But through it all so many of you have stuck around and kept our little corner of the “internets” a safe haven for reasoned and reasonable discussion.

I still have a few tweaks to do on this format. Hope this adjustment is OK with everyone so far. Thanks, Craig

Chuck in Charge

Congrats to my pal, Chuck Todd, who’s taking over NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

chuckWashington Post (Ben Terris) — People can finally stop speculating about Meet the Press. NBC News President Deborah Turness announced that David Gregory, who has been hosting for almost six years, will leave the network.

Todd came to D.C. from Miami as an undergraduate at George Washington University, and landed a job in 1992 at National Journal’s Hotline.

“He was a force of nature from day one,” says Craig Crawford who was the Hotline editor when Todd started. “He was so deep into politics that he was as enthusiastic about city council elections as presidential campaigns. He had to compromise just to keep the Hotline from being 300 pages every day.”

“There is no one with a bigger passion for politics than Chuck,” Turness said in her email. “His unique ability to deliver that passion with razor sharp analysis and infectious enthusiasm makes him the perfect next generation moderator of this beloved broadcast.”

As his former boss Crawford says, knowing the material, that’s only half the equation for why Todd will be a good fit at MTP. “The other half is having an engaging personality,” Crawford says. “He loves people, and is chattier than Gregory. He’ll be able to break down barriers and get people off of their talking points.”

Will Durst: Stuck on Stuck

Will Durst (“Comedy for people who read, or know someone who does”):

Will Durst
Will Durst

“Just following the will of the people.” That’s been the GOP rationalization for accomplishing absolutely nothing for five and a half years. Doesn’t matter what the issue is. Immigration. Jobs. Infrastructure. Climate change. Banking reform. The proliferation of substandard dental schools in Nebraska.

According to them, the people want… zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. And to mask their inaction, Republicans have coordinated a feeding frenzy that would make rabid hyenas jealous.

Something about Obama drives them crazier than chocolate banana fritters with raspberry sprinkles in a bento box. Maybe because he’s the smartest guy in the room and not the least bit shy about sharing that opinion. Maybe he’s the ultimate anti-Bush. Or there’s something about him that looks different. Extremely different. Could be the ears.

What it boils down to is… “Open Season on Obama.” The memos have circulated. The strategy is conspicuous. To derail any possible presidential accomplishment by stalling progress and tossing a continuous slew of dastardly insults onto and at his person. And the mud is flying faster than fingers in a steno pool. Different circus. Same clowns.

John Boehner plans to sue the President. For what? Not even he knows, but you can be sure, the term “smarty pants” will be bandied about. He did drop some tidbit about objecting to the President changing the employer mandate to Obama Care, but that can’t be the source of his irritation, since the GOP insisted on it. It would be like slapping some other family’s child for obeying you.

Dick Cheney called him the Worst President of his lifetime. Which is quite a coincidence, since many argue Dick Cheney was the worst president of Obama’s lifetime. Obama should actually take solace from this charge, since Dick Cheney has been pretty much wrong about pretty much everything since at least 1999… Read More

Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed political comic based in San Francisco.

Flashback Sunday: 1945

Bill Crawford
Bill Crawford

Trail Mix Southern Command (Orlando) — Rummaging through some old photos we came across this image of my parents with their high school graduation class (Mt. Vernon KY, 1945).

Bill Crawford
Toby Crawford

They were dating at the time, so not sure why they’re on opposite sides of the photograph (Dad says they were “off and on” — perhaps this was an off day; Mom says she was probably mad he skipped a date to go squirrel hunting). They celebrate their 64th Wedding Anniversary next month.

MtVhighschool
Mt. Vernon High School (KY)
1945 Senior Class
(click to enlarge)

By Craig Crawford (Chicago Tribune)
1945, What a Year — Losing FDR, Winning Two Wars, Building a New Nation

1945 Oscars

  • Best Picture:
    “THE LOST WEEKEND” — Nominees:  “Anchors Aweigh” / “The Bells of St. Mary’s” / “Mildred Pierce” / “Spellbound”
  • Actor:
    RAY MILLAND in “The Lost Weekend” — Nominees: Bing Crosby in “The Bells of St. Mary’s” / Gene Kelly in “Anchors Aweigh” / Gregory Peck in “The Keys of the Kingdom” / Cornel Wilde in “A Song to Remember”
  • Actress:
    JOAN CRAWFORD in “Mildred Pierce” — Nominees: Ingrid Bergman in “The Bells of St. Mary’s” / Greer Garson in “The Valley of Decision” / Jennifer Jones in “Love Letters” / Gene Tierney in “Leave Her to Heaven”

Top Five Songs

  • Les Brown & Doris Day, “Sentimental Journey”
  • The Andrews Sisters, “Rum & Coca-Cola”
  • Perry Como, “Till the End of Time”
  • Johnny Mercer, “On the Atcheson, Topeka & the Sante Fe”
  • Les Brown & Doris Day, “My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time”

Solar India

Our ole pal, video journalist Andrew Satter, ventured to India recently and found this. Check it out.solarindia

As I watch employees of one of the country’s many fast-growing clean energy startups install solar panels on a local villager’s roof — their sixth installation of the day — I realize I am witnessing something transformational. It is a glimpse into the future of how the world’s rural poor could access electricity: off-grid, distributed, renewable, and most importantly, affordable. It’s happening all over rural India and in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and is turning the entire narrative around energy and development on its head.”

andrew satter
 
Read Andrew’s full report at Watch How Solar Power Is Transforming Rural India
(thinkprogress.org)

Supreme Buffering

Among the lesser covered Supreme Court decisions released in the pre-vacation rush was one declaring protest buffer zones outside abortion clinics unconstitutional. Having done so the justices will now have to reconcile that ruling with their own buffer zone, which faces a lawsuit working its way through federal courts.

The Court ruled that a Massachusetts law establishing 35-foot buffer zones around abortion clinics is a violation of the First Amendment.

But what about the Court’s own rule forbidding protests on its grounds?

scotusbufferFrom the Court’s own rule book: “No person shall engage in a demonstration within the Supreme Court building and grounds. The term ‘demonstration’ includes demonstrations, picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding vigils or religious services and all other like forms of conduct that involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers.”

A Maryland man who was arrested on Supreme Court grounds for protesting police treatment of minorities has sued and claimed the law violates the Constitution. The trial court agreed with him. In September the U.S. Court of Appeals hears arguments.

It’ll be fun to watch the justices buffer their own ruling.

Declaring the 4th

As the holiday week begins it’s time for our annual reading of the Declaration of Independence, but this year with a brand new video I made using paintings from those days, and again with the great Bill Barker as Thomas Jefferson.

May the 4th Be With You!

Edited by Craig Crawford
Performed by Bill Barker of Williamsburg, Virginia

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signers of the Declaration (in the order of their signatures)

Massachusetts:
John Hancock

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple

Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Our Own Refugee Crisis

Refugee children warehoused on our southern border is not something we expect to see in our own country, but there they are, more than 50,000 kids, mostly from Central America, overwhelming border agents and child welfare officials.

How did this happen?

Brownsville, Texas
Brownsville, Texas
Texas Monthly’s Erica Grieder takes a hard look and concludes that it’s a combination of the violence and poverty in Central America, among the world’s highest, and widespread belief in those countries that we stopped deporting all children. But that change only applied to children of unauthorized immigrants who have lived here continuously since 2007.
In looking through Guatemalan and Honduran news reports about the program, though, you’ll notice that they rarely mention the fine print about which minors, exactly, are eligible. It’s not that hard to imagine how people could get the impression that the United States had decided not to deport children, or why parents in these desperately poor and crime-riddled countries would be motivated to act in response.”

The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson adds

Smugglers in Mexico are moving people into the United States for money. It’s a business proposition, and part of the smugglers’ scheme is to sell families on the idea that children and minors who get into the United States will not be deported. Mexican drug cartels are of course behind this scheme, and they’re pushing it because their traditional sources of income have become unstable.”

Iraq, What If We Had Stayed?

Pulitzer winner and Foreign Policy magazine blogger Tom Ricks is making sense, takes on claims that Iraq wouldn’t be in this mess if we had kept our troops there …

That’s nonsense. If we had the force there, what we’d be doing now is facing this question: Do we retreat ignominiously and get the troops out of the country, or do we use them in a way—or do we find ourselves forced to use them—in a way we don’t want to, supporting Maliki without reservation? Or do they just sit there inside their camp gates and everybody mocks the Americans for doing nothing? So I think by not having troops on the ground there it greatly simplified the issues for the United States and actually gave the United States more leverage rather than less.”

Our Unconstituional Supreme Court

Whenever SCOTUS rules, as it did in predictably protecting the status quo of the business world in the Aereo case, or in passing judgment on President Obama’s recess appointment, I am mindful of how it has no right of judicial review in the words of the Constitution, except for the fact that it simply assumed that role without justification.

The Supreme Court’s power to interpret the Constitution stems from an exceedingly liberal reading of the document. It was simply made up, having no basis in the Constitution’s words.

Today, we take it for granted that the Supreme Court can strike down laws that it deems unconstitutional, or interpret their adaption as it sees fit. But that was not considered legally possible until more than a decade after the Constitution’s adoption, when a Virginia frontiersman invented a new role for the judiciary.

“It is, emphatically, the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is,” wrote Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury vs. Madison, an 1803 Supreme Court opinion that forever changed American constitutional law.

Marshall, a western Virginia woodsman and Revolutionary War hero, had persuaded his fellow justices to declare a federal law unconstitutional, even though the Constitution specifically gave that power to no one.

In assuming a right to decide what the Constitution means, Marshall, then 48, created a legal principle that reached well beyond his 34 years at the helm of the Supreme Court. His work underlies momentous rulings issued generations later, for good or ill.

John Marshall
John Marshall

“Marshall had the wit and courage to make the most of his opportunity,” said former Chief Justice Warren Burger in a London speech in 1972. “He was the Great Chief Justice on our side of the Atlantic. How could there have been a greater one?”

It was during his Revolutionary War years that Marshall saw a need for strong central government, a lesson he remembered on the court as he engineered ways to strengthen federal powers.

At age 21, Marshall served with Gen. George Washington during the miserable winter at Valley Forge, when the loosely knit Colonies nearly bungled their bid for independence. Even though clothing, food and ammunition were plentiful, the lack of centralized authority kept the supplies from reaching the soldiers.

Seeing this handicap led Marshall later to write an opinion expanding the power of the federal government to control transportation networks.

Marshall’s career as a leading federalist began soon after the war. He debated Patrick Henry, the most eloquent anti-federalist, in favor of ratifying the proposed Constitution.

Washington offered him several jobs in the new government, including those of attorney general and minister to France. Marshall declined in favor of making money to compensate for his family’s losses in the war.

He spent only two months in law school, but his natural skills as a tactician and an incisive speaker made him one of the country’s highest-paid lawyers, earning more than $5,000 a year. Not intrigued by the philosophical debates of his more educated contemporaries, he preferred the thrill of arguing real cases.

Even so, a few potential clients were put off by Marshall’s eccentricity. Shunning the powdered wig and satin breeches favored by most lawyers, Marshall wore plain linen clothes and bundled his hair in a ponytail. A bit absent-minded, he sometimes misplaced important court documents, and his eyes wandered during conversations that bored him.

Marshall’s financial success eventually allowed him the luxury of public office. After stints in the Virginia Legislature and the U.S. Congress, he became minister to France under President John Adams.

As Adams prepared to leave office, the post of chief justice became vacant for the fourth time in 12 years. The Supreme Court was not considered a very important branch of government in its early days, and few were interested in serving on it.

Adams knew that this time he needed a strong federalist in the job — someone devoted to a strong central government. Thomas Jefferson was taking over the presidency, and as a staunch anti-federalist he could be expected to weaken much of the federal power gained by Washington and Adams (although he turned out to be far more friendly to power once he had some).

Adams turned to Marshall. In his third year of office the new chief justice entered a showdown with Jefferson in Marbury vs. Madison. Although Marshall’s invention of the court’s right to interpret the Constitution escaped immediate notice by the press and public, Jefferson was enraged.

Jefferson warned that letting the court decide what the Constitution means would make the document “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the justices.” He believed that each branch of government “has an equal right to decide for itself what is the meaning of the Constitution in the cases submitted to its action.”

With the Marbury decision, Marshall began the practice of issuing written opinions. During his next three decades on the court, he often pleased the federalists by using interpretation to expand many powers granted to the federal government under the Constitution.

The jurist’s immeasurable contribution to federalism led Adams to call his appointment of Marshall “the pride of my life.”