Monday, July 15, 2024

Exhilarating

Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.

-- Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), British politician and statesman, The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter X

Friday, July 12, 2024

A Bridge

Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else.  There's an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me.  They are the future of this country.

-- Presidential Candidate Joe Biden speaking to Democratic leaders in California, 9 March 2020

Thursday, July 11, 2024

A National Tragedy

Mr. Trump has shown a character unworthy of the responsibilities of the presidency.  He has demonstrated an utter lack of respect for the Constitution, the rule of law and the American people.  Instead of a cogent vision for the country’s future, Mr. Trump is animated by a thirst for political power: to use the levers of government to advance his interests, satisfy his impulses and exact retribution against those who he thinks have wronged him.

He is, quite simply, unfit to lead. ...

It is a national tragedy that the Republicans have failed to have a similar debate about the manifest moral and temperamental unfitness of their standard-bearer, instead setting aside their longstanding values, closing ranks and choosing to overlook what those who worked most closely with the former president have described as his systematic dishonesty, corruption, cruelty and incompetence. ...

When someone fails so many foundational tests, you don’t give him the most important job in the world.

-- The editorial board of the New York Times (11 July 2024)

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

A Curious Thing

The past is a curious thing.  It's with you all the time.  I suppose an hour never passes without your thinking of things that happened ten or twenty years ago, and yet most of the time it's got no reality, it's just a set of facts that you've learned, like a lot of stuff in a history book.  Then some chance sight or sound or smell, especially smell, sets you going, and the past doesn't merely come back to you, you're actually in the past.

-- George Orwell (1903 - 1950), pen name of British novelist, essayist, and journalist Eric Arthur Blair, Coming Up for Air, Part I, Ch. 4 (1939)

Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Analyze

You cannot analyze data you don't collect.

-- Don Appleman, while working for NovaNET a few decades ago, and occasionally since, on the subject of how much data (usually on work done and throughput) should be collected by software

Monday, July 08, 2024

Friday, July 05, 2024

The Crowd

If it has to choose who is to be crucified, the crowd will always save Barabbas.      

-- Jean Cocteau (1889 - 1963), French poet, novelist, painter, and filmmaker, Le Coq et l’Arlequin (1918)

Thursday, July 04, 2024

Harmony And Affection

Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind.  Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things.

-- Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826), third president of the United States (1801-1809), First Inaugural Address (4 March 1801)

Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Unsettled Overnight

What has once been settled by a precedent will not be unsettled overnight, for certainty and uniformity are gains not lightly sacrificed.  Above all is this true when honest men have shaped their conduct on the faith of the pronouncement.

-- Benjamin Cardozo (1870 - 1938), long-time Justice of the Court of Appeals of New York; he was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1932, The Paradoxes of Legal Science (1928)

Tuesday, July 02, 2024

We Believe, Yet

We believe that all men are created equal.  Yet many are denied equal treatment.  We believe that all men have certain unalienable rights.  Yet many Americans do not enjoy those rights.  We believe that all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty.  Yet millions are being deprived of those blessings -- not because of their own failures, but because of the color of their skin.

-- President Lyndon B. Johnson in a statement made upon signing the Civil Rights Act, 60 years ago today (2 July 1964) h/t The Washington Post

Monday, July 01, 2024

Immune, Immune, Immune

Today’s decision to grant former Presidents criminal immunity reshapes the institution of the Presidency.  It makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government, that no man is above the law.  Relying on little more than its own misguided wisdom about the need for “bold and unhesitating action” by the President, the Court gives former President Trump all the immunity he asked for and more.  Because our Constitution does not shield a former President from answering for criminal and treasonous acts, I dissent.

Looking beyond the fate of this particular prosecution, the long-term consequences of today’s decision are stark. The Court effectively creates a law-free zone around the President, upsetting the status quo that has existed since the Founding. This new official-acts immunity now “lies about like a loaded weapon” for any President that wishes to place his own interests, his own political survival, or his own financial gain, above the interests of the Nation. The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the country, and possibly the world. When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution. Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune. Let the President violate the law, let him exploit the trappings of his office for personal gain, let him use his official power for evil ends. Because if he knew that he may one day face liability for breaking the law, he might not be as bold and fearless as we would like him to be. That is the majority’s message today. Even if these nightmare scenarios never play out, and I pray they never do, the damage has been done. The relationship between the President and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law.

Never in the history of our Republic has a President had reason to believe that he would be immune from criminal prosecution if he used the trappings of his office to violate the criminal law. Moving forward, however, all former Presidents will be cloaked in such immunity. If the occupant of that office misuses official power for personal gain, the criminal law that the rest of us must abide will not provide a backstop. 

With fear for our democracy, I dissent.

-- Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Kagan and Justice Jackson, dissenting in Donald J Trump v United States, in which the majority held that former presidents are immune from prosecution for most acts taken while in office