Water Chronicles

Snyder is the first Michigan governor or former governor to be charged for alleged criminal conduct while in office.

Former Michigan governor and GOP golden boy Rick Snyder has pleaded not guilty to charges of willful neglect of duty, stemming from poisoning the city of Flint’s water supply in 2014.

Flint had been declared a state of “financial emergency” near the end of 2011. Michigan’s governor and both legislative houses were staunchly Republican, and strongly believed in local control… except when they don’t. Governor Snyder appointed an emergency manager to take control of the city. To save money, the officials he put in charge of Flint’s finances switched the source of the city’s water from the Detroit River to the polluted Flint River. Two outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease, with twelve fatalities, soon followed. Tests found E. coli and lead in the city’s new water supply. Thousands of Flint residents now suffer long-term damage from lead in their water.

After a two-year investigation, a grand jury recently brought criminal charges against Snyder and eight others. Snyder’s former top aide faces felony charges of obstruction of justice and extortion. Two former state health officials each face nine counts of involuntary manslaughter.

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Inauguration Follies

Andrew Jackson decisively won both the popular and the Electoral -College vote and thus the presidency in 1828. He had been the popular-vote winner in 1824 and received more electoral votes than his opponents, but not a majority. After some wrangling and deal-making, the House of Representatives awarded the presidency to John Quincy Adams.

The first to become president after losing the popular vote, four years later Adams achieved another first; the first president to be defeated in his bid for re-election. (John Calhoun was voted vice-president in both elections.)

Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson gained fame for his exploits in the War of 1812. He led U.S. troops against Creek Indians—who were allied with the British—and later repelled the British in the Battle of New Orleans.

The 1828 campaign was notable for its vituperation. Jackson and his wife Rachel were vilified with accusations of adultery and bigamy. (Rachael died shortly after the election.) Similar accusations were flung at Adams. Still, Jackson’s popularity with the working classes carried him to victory.

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Handy Anti-Democracy Guide

Newly-elected representative Cliff Bentz, the sole Republican in Oregon’s congressional delegation, cast his first votes last week. The freshman congressman joined 138 other representatives and eight senators voting to overturn election results.

The New York Times has provided us with a handy reference, including portraits, of the 147 legislators who cast votes against democracy.

Click here for the list of those with whom Rep. Bentz’s name will forever live in ignominy.

Electoral College Follies

The Constitution of the United States went into effect March 4, 1789. The Electoral College, as prescribed in Article II, Section 1, elected George Washington president that same year, with 69 votes. Washington was re-elected with 132 votes in 1792. John Adams received the second-most votes, thus winning the vice-presidency, both times.

Presidential elections worked smoothly all the way up to the vote in 1800. Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each received 73 votes, sending the election to the House of Representatives. (Jefferson thought he was running against John Adams; Burr was Jefferson’s intended vice-president.) The Constitution had not foreseen the possibility of a tie. After thirty-six votes, the House named Jefferson president and Burr vice-president.

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Richard Nixon’s Other Legacy

Richard Nixon departed the White House in ignominy after resigning the presidency on August 9, 1974. The Watergate scandal had finally done him in. (Even today, a political scandal is labeled “-gate.)

Since Nixon’s leaving, the Electoral College has given the U.S. several Republican presidents. With an exception or maybe two, each was lazier and oversaw an administration more corrupt than his predecessor.

But I digress.

President Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on New Year’s Day, 1970.

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40 Acres and a Mule

Blacks don’t want enough to be successful. So said boy wonder Jared Kushner, who, as we know, worked hard for all his success.

Senators Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand announced they will introduce the Justice for Black Farmers Act. The proposed legislation will address the precipitous drop in land ownership by African-American farmers.

Is this another attempt at reparations for some unfairness a hundred-and-fifty years ago? Why should there be giveaways to people who were not directly harmed? The short answer is no, because much of white wealth is the result of giveaways to their ancestors, while non-whites were excluded from access.

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