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Censure Trump? What a Joke

June 7, 2019 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

With the Democratic base demanding action on the
Mueller Report and the House leadership gun-shy on impeachment, the
search is on for a viable alternative. A growing number of House Democrats think
congressional censure is that alternative. According to Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), censuring President
Trump will “send a clear message that the President’s
unethical and illegal conduct is wrong and hold him
accountable.”

The few successful
censure resolutions against sitting presidents have mostly faded
into obscurity.

The Democratic majority certainly has the power to pass a
sense-of-the-House resolution dressing down the president. That
move would be just as constitutional as Congress declaring it
“National Nurses’ Week” — and about as
effective.

Rep. Khanna touts censure as “a permanent mark on the
president’s record,” but history suggests it’s
more like a kid’s washable tattoo. The few successful censure
resolutions against sitting presidents have mostly faded into
obscurity.

Four presidents have been formally reprimanded by the House or
the Senate, according to the Congressional Research Service: Andrew
Jackson, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln and William Howard Taft.
For Lincoln and Taft, the resolutions were watered down by
amendment “so that they no longer clearly censured the
president.” Buchanan and Jackson received sharper scoldings,
but those episodes give us little reason to be impressed with
censure’s bite.

In 1860, as the secession crisis loomed, the House formally
rebuked President James Buchanan for awarding military contracts
based on “party relations,” a practice “dangerous
to the public safety and deserving the reproof of this
House.” The 15th president is widely considered one of
the nation’s worst, but few historians
remember the military patronage kerfuffle, and even fewer would put
that charge near the top of their list.

The Senate’s 1834 censure of Andrew Jackson over the
“Bank War” is somewhat better-known. By removing
federal deposits from the Bank of the United States and refusing to
provide a document demanded by the Senate, the resolution charged,
Jackson had “assumed upon himself authority and power not
conferred by the Constitution or the laws.” Not three years
later, a new Jacksonian majority in the upper chamber had the
measure expunged from the record.

Unless you’re a historical trivia buff, you probably
don’t remember these episodes. But most politically aware
Americans can name the two presidents who were impeached
— Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton — and the one who
resigned to avoid that fate, Richard Nixon. That ignominious
distinction is central to all three presidencies. And although
Johnson and Clinton avoided removal by the Senate, their legacies
were permanently scarred. Even if it fails to produce a conviction
in the Senate, impeachment by the House …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Stonewall Riots Apology: NYPD Commissioner Says 1969 Police Raids Were 'Wrong'

June 7, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Police crowded the Stonewall Inn, beating the bar’s patrons with nightsticks and brandishing their guns. In 1969, it was common practice for police officers in New York and other cities to harass owners and patrons of bars that they suspected of providing safe harbor for gay people.

At the time, the NYPD was engaged in a broad effort to crack down on gay bars for supposed liquor license violations.The Stonewall Inn’s patrons—drag queens, homeless youth, openly gay men—were accustomed to being hassled by the police because of their sexual orientation.

Tonight, though, they fought back. The Stonewall Riots became a landmark in LGBTQ history, setting the stage for decades of struggle for civil rights. And now, nearly 50 years after the historic uprising, the New York Police Department has apologized for its role both in the events at Stonewall and the actions it took to uphold laws that discriminated against gay people.

How the Stonewall Riots Sparked a Movement – Riots (TV-PG; 3:47)

NYPD police commissioner James P. O’Neill made the apology at a June 6 safety briefing. “The actions taken by the N.Y.P.D. were wrong — plain and simple,” he said, according to Reuters.

O’Neill’s statements—made after years of NYPD refusal to address police violence toward LGBTQ people during the 1960s—mark the first time the NYPD has apologized for its actions during an era of widespread discrimination against people who engaged in same-sex relationships. At the time of the Stonewall riots, homosexuality was considered perverted, pathological and even un-American.

During the 1950s, the State Department purged its ranks of gay and lesbian people, and anti-sodomy laws made sex between men illegal in most states. The American Psychology Association listed homosexuality as a mental disorder, and public displays of homosexuality were punished.

In 1962, the NYPD broke up the National Variety Artists’ Exotic Carnival and Ball on charges of masquerading and indecent exposure, the primary target being the trans community and men in drag.

New York police officers had a long history of targeting LGBTQ people, and regularly raided gay bars using liquor licensing as a pretext. Like many other gay bars in New York, the Stonewall Inn was Mafia-owned. For many patrons, this provided a sense of protection, as the Mafia was widely known to bribe the NYPD in exchange for the right to operate without harassment.

READ MORE: How the …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Ides of June: Kerensky's War Allowed Bolsheviks to Triumph in Russia

June 7, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

World War I resulted in two seemingly minor events which had
epochal impact: a little known army operative took over a small,
radical, racist political party in Germany and an exiled political
agitator returned to Russia. The consequences of the latter, as
intended by the German government, which facilitated his transit,
were more immediate. In just a few months the Bolsheviks
established tenuous control over remnants of the imperial Russian
state. Out of which emerged the Soviet Union, which Ronald Reagan
so accurately called the Evil Empire.

When the “Great War,” as the conflict was originally
known, began in August 1914 the Entente’s members proved to
be skilled propagandists. They said they were fighting a war for
democracy and against Prussian militarism. It was the war to end
war, a fabulous phrase even though the very definition of oxymoron.
The maladroit and heavy-handed Germans inadvertently did much of
the allies’ work.

Still, the Russian Empire was a great embarrassment to the
Western allies. Belgium was perhaps the most murderous colonial
power and revenge animated French military policy, but the Tsarist
autocracy, a backward anti-Semitic despotism, most dramatically
undercut Entente image-making. Under pressure the dynasty had been
liberalizing, but remained far from liberal or democratic.

It took 74 years —
and how many lives? — to begin to correct his
mistake.

Then came a “constitutional” revolution in March
(February in the old calendar) 1917. The Entente’s slogans
suddenly seemed true even in Russia.

However, the Provisional Government was weak and political
stability was beyond reach. Royalists, liberals, socialists, and
communists all struggled for power. Foreign Minister Pavel Milyukov
promised the allies that the government would continue the war and
uphold the original annexationist war aims, which inflamed popular
opposition.

For men in the ranks the conflict was a purposeless horror.
Soldiers’ committees formed, calling for “peace without
annexations or indemnities.” Urged on by former exile
Vladimir Ilych Lenin’s Bolsheviks, military personnel mixed
with civilians in calling for Milyukov’s resignation. In
early May Milyukov and Defense Minister Alexander Guchkov were
ousted. The latter was replaced by 36-year-old socialist Alexander
Kerensky, who embarked upon a speaking tour at the front,
supporting continuation of the war. “There is no Russian
front. There is only one united allied front,” he expounded.
And he plotted a new military offensive.

The latter was a disastrous decision. By June few Russians
outside of Petrograd (St. Petersburg was renamed in 1914 to sound
less German) backed participation in the conflict; the soldiers, in
particular, expected the new authorities to end the war. The impact
of his rhetorical efforts quickly faded; soldiers initially
captivated by his eloquence soon remembered the inanity of the
conflict. Lenin called …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How Lithuania Destroyed the Soviet Union

June 7, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Lithuanians like America. Their unofficial slogan might be
modeled after the famous Mexican lament: “So close to Russia,
so far from America.” Although Vilnius is a member of the
European Union and NATO, Lithuanians look to Washington as their
protector. Their desire to strengthen that relationship led the
Atlantic Council, a think tank founded in 1961, to organize a trip
for some Washington policy nerds to visit.

Lithuanian fears over Moscow’s possibly malign ambitions
are understandable, if probably overstated. Vladimir Putin is no
friend of liberty, but attacking any of the Baltic states would
result in far more costs and risks than benefits. A pragmatic
authoritarian, he is unlikely to start a conflict that would, in
the best of circumstances, dramatically intensify his
government’s diplomatic and economic isolation and, at worst,
lead to nuclear war, while yielding little in valuable booty.

Still, one can understand concern over Moscow’s behavior.
Lithuania spent much of its history as an involuntary part of the
Russian and Soviet empires, suffering especially badly under the
latter.

Decades of stubborn
resistance have resulted in today’s free and prosperous
state.

The first united Kingdom of Lithuania arose in 1253. For a time
it was paired with Poland. In the late 18th century Lithuania was
absorbed by the Russian Empire, a backward, ramshackle, and
authoritarian agglomeration of different peoples. Under pressure,
Russia began to liberalize. Then came the Great War, of which the
tsar may have been the single greatest casualty. After little more
than two years of carnage, the monarchy tottered and moderates
launched the first revolution.

However, they continued the purposeless and destructive war, an
act of political madness. The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Ilyich
Lenin, organized and agitated, while promising food, peace, and
bread; in November they staged a putsch against a provisional
government whose support had ebbed away. A bitter, brutal civil war
ensued, as the new authorities negotiated terms in Germany.

Lithuania declared independence, which was affirmed by the
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk between Berlin and Moscow. Germany expected
Vilnius to be a puppet state, but Berlin’s defeat in the west
ended the latter’s imperial aspirations. Lithuania then had
to successively fight Russia, with the Poles’ assistance, and
then Poland, to preserve its nationhood. A military coup soon
ousted the democratic government, though Lithuanians prospered
economically despite their lack of geopolitical security.

As World War II loomed, the country remained focused on Poland,
the Lithuanians told me. However, while plotting Poland’s
demise, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union coldly bargained over the
Baltics, with Lithuania ending up in Moscow’s sphere of
interest. In October 1939, Moscow insisted on stationing troops in
Lithuania; the following year the USSR issued …read more

Source: OP-EDS