We’ll Need a New Birth of Freedom

On this day in 1863 the Battle of Gettysburg had entered its third day. In places called the Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield, and Devil’s Den, troops engaged in some of the most brutal fighting of the war. It was on this day that Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain ordered a legendary bayonet charge, and his men of the 20th Maine swept the Confederates off Little Round Top, saving the Union’s flank. And on this day the seige of Vicksburg, Mississippi was on its 45th day. Two days later, on July 4, Confederate Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton would surrender to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, giving the Union complete control of the Mississippi River. Upon receiving this news, President Abraham Lincoln famously said, “The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea.” Although the war continued for nine more months, those July days in 1863 were a turning point.

So, the nation has been in tight places before. But I almost envy the fellows of the 20th Maine, out of ammunition after holding off repeated charges by Confederates from Texas and Alabama commanded by Gen. John Bell Hood. The bayonet charge was a do-or-die move. But it was something they could do, and they did it.

What are we supposed to do, now?

My days of marching in demonstrations are over, unless I can get access to a wheelchair and someone to push it. While I am making ends meet of late I don’t have any extra money to donate to campaigns. I tried watching Rachel Maddow for a while last night and bailed after about 20 minutes. We’re not going from bad to worse, but from bad to planetary doom.

Everything is now scrambled. The sentencing for Trump’s 34 felony convictions will probably be postponed. The judge and lawyers need to sort out if and where Trump’s newly bestowed immunity applies.

Although the Manhattan case does not center on Mr. Trump’s presidency or official acts — but rather on his personal activity during the 2016 campaign — his lawyers argued on Monday that prosecutors had built their case partly on evidence from his time in the White House. And under the Supreme Court’s new ruling, prosecutors not only cannot charge a president for any official acts, but also cannot cite evidence involving official acts to bolster other accusations.

I can’t think of anything pertaining to the New York convictions that comes anywhere close to an “official act” of the President. This just makes absolutely no sense. But we’ll see how it works out.

The one dim ray of hope I saw this morning involves the J6 prosecution. Alan Feuer writes for the New York Times:

The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday about executive immunity makes it all but certain that former President Donald J. Trump will not stand trial on charges of seeking to overturn the last election before voters decide whether to send him back to the White House in the next one.

But the ruling also opened the door for prosecutors to detail much of their evidence against Mr. Trump in front of a federal judge — and the public — at an expansive fact-finding hearing, perhaps before Election Day.

This hearing is to be held in the Federal District Court in Washington in front of the Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, and I do have hope that Judge Chutkan will want to get this done asap.

Otherwise, we’re screwed.

Stuff to read:

The John Roberts Guide To Doing A Coup And Not Getting Caught

The Supreme Court Took A Sledgehammer To American Democracy

The Supreme Court’s disastrous Trump immunity decision, explained

A Five-Alarm Fire for Democracy

SCOTUS: Actually, Presidents Are Kings

What to know about presidential immunity after the Supreme Court ruling

23 thoughts on “We’ll Need a New Birth of Freedom

  1. "I tried watching Rachel Maddow for a while last night and bailed after about 20 minutes. We’re not going from bad to worse, but from bad to planetary doom."

    I have never been able to stomach more than 30 seconds of her show. The worse thing that ever happened to the GOP is FOX news and the worst thing that ever happened to the democratic party is msnbc. When people with partisan political leanings are fed a steady diet of what they want to hear for decades it's not constructive. Eventually things don't go your way, you can't spin everything. It amazes the hell out of me how Biden can have one bad debate and liberals want to feed him to the wolves. He's old we knew that before the debate, he's frail and stiff we knew that before the debate, he's not a used car salesman habitual liar like Stump so he's never going to give the bobble-heads what they want. I don't give a rats ass what any pundit on any cable channel or any partisan website has to say, it was one debate, I seem to remember Obama having a terrible debate as well (he never lost an election) it happens, time to move on and get Old Joe re-elected, enough with the pearl clutching already!

    •  the worst thing that ever happened to the democratic party is msnbc

      I completely disagree. I try never to miss Maddow and Chris Hayes especially. I love Maddows long, nerdy stories. I didn’t stop watching because I was annoyed with Maddow, but because the news was so bleak.  

    • When people with partisan political leanings are fed a steady diet of what they want to hear for decades it's not constructive. Eventually things don't go your way, you can't spin everything.

      That's not true, *if* the news source's first and foremost ideal is reporting the truth. 

      If there was a newspaper with a Republican slant, and a dedication to the truth, they'd be saying that "Trump cooked the books, which he knew was illegal, and did so in furtherance of other crimes. Let's remember this is a first time offense, a nonviolent crime, blah, blah, blah." *THAT* is a respectable slant. "Okay, fine, so he did it, and we were fibbing when we said it was a partisan witch hunt."

      Now, if you're saying that MSNBC will always report Ds as gods and goddesses, just like Fox News does for Rs, well, that's a darn shame, but I've never seen any real evidence that MSNBC will bury the truth, rather than admit it.

      I *have* seen Fox bury bad news for Rs, and, help me out here, are they admitting Trump committed 34 crimes, and urging leniency since it was a nonviolent first offense? Or are they still saying "partisan persecution"? And, help me out here, again, didn't they get zinged for some 750 million bucks for flat out lying to help Trump in his autogolpe?

      So, Fox doesn't just lie, to help Republicans. It lies in enormous ways, ways so amazingly egregiously that a *news organization* was about to be clobbered in a defamation suit, due to such reckless disregard for the truth, that the First Amendment rolled out the red carpet to the plaintiffs, "see, this is a *perfect* example of actionable defamation!"

      I haven't heard anything like that about MSNBC, so, I assume they're just slanted, not lying sacks of the excrement of the male bovine.

      If there *was* a left-wing fox-equivalent, I do want to make it clear: I wouldn't watch *that* either. Fox spreads hate, and pretends it's patriotism. I don't need leftwing hate either.


  2. So, the nation has been in tight places before. But I almost envy the fellows of the 20th Maine, out of ammunition after holding off repeated charges by Confederates from Texas and Alabama commanded by Gen. John Bell Hood. The bayonet charge was a do-or-die move. But it was something they could do, and they did it.

    What are we supposed to do, now?

    Friend, you're asking a question that's been bugging me since the 90s. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Your days of marching are over? Oh, do I hear you, and I'll bet I'm 10-20 years younger, with better legs (I used to be a runner). Though I didn't know it, I haven't been able to write (or read/speak/listen) normally for the past 30+ years. I didn't feel it was exhausting me, but it was.

    What do you do, when you have nothing you can do, and all of life is making you miserable?

    First, keep living. That doesn't get said often enough. (I'm not afraid you *won't* but people in my state need to keep the reminder "keep living/don't die" high on the list.)

    Second, keep your eyes open – you might find a place where you can do something.

    Third, remember that you must care for yourself first – just like in an airplane, put on your mask, then help others if needed. If the news is driving you to despair, stop watching. You can, and should.

    Fourth – do you have any favorite Young Adult books, or similar fun reading (I won't judge if you like romances…) that you can dive into, and renew your supply of good stories? If you've got your brain buried in the MAGAmuck, it can take some pleasure reading to de-muck your brain, and remind ourselves of why the good people have an advantage over the bad guys. We'll look out for each other, while they'll always look out for themselves, first and foremost.

    Fifth – I'm sorry, CFS kicked in, and now I think this is all syrupy-sweet garbage. So I'm temporarily back on rule 1.

    I hope you find some good answers for what to do when there's nothing to do. I'm frustrated that I have sought the same sorts of answers and come up empty, but for the fluff above. But it does help some folks… even if they know it's fluff.

    To use a crude metaphor, a lot of people fantasize during sex, and it can get their motor running, even though it's fake, aka, fluff. We humans can easily respond to imagery, if we let ourselves go along with it.. So fluff works because sex fantasies work. Maybe not the *best* science example ever, but I'm fatigued.


    • I have to agree with what was said here. 

      I have an addition to “Second” on the list; Maha, you underrate what you ARE doing with this blog. You lead a community of like-minded people who are better informed than they would be without Mahablog. Knowledge is power.

      But you are not smiting the enemy directly. (Chamberlain's charge.) Putting a soldier in battle always required work and sacrifice by the home guard. If everyone exposed to this blog affects one person to turn out to vote and not vote stupidly, you led something meaningful. 

      May I point out that the margin of loss in 2000, in the "hanging chads' state of Florida was only a few hundred votes. Some say Gore actually won. But had Gore been ahead by that margin, the USSC could not have called it for Bush. EVERYONE is predicting the election will be close. How close and where is unknown but the actions of a few may make the difference. 

      Today Bannon went to prison and Rudy was stripped of his law license in NY. I think Alex Jones is on the cusp of being out of business. Yeah, he can do a podcast, like Tucker Carlson. The point being we're counting ever point when we take a glove, but we're dealing it out pretty good. While you are in the ring is a bad time to try to keep score. You just try to deal it our better then you take it.

      On Biden: I'd like to be in a better situation than we are. I did not want Biden to go for a second term. Harris should have been groomed to take the top spot two years ago. But we're too deep in the fight to change strategy UNLESS Joe decides it's the best move. I'm sorry, nobody OUTSIDE the ring has as much authority as the boxers in the ring. The "experts" telling Joe to throw in the towel should STFU.

      I like the hook Maha hung this post on – Gettysburg. This country has seen dark times. Washington damn near lost the Revolutionary War several times. Our second president passed the "Sedition Acts" and he not only could, he DID throw journalists in prison for criticizing him. We;ve had an Imperial President. The Sedition Acts were repealed, not overturned by the Supreme Court. The First World War was supposed to end all wars. Didn't turn out that way – a few decades later, we were back in an even worse conflict. D-day was won – barely. The actions of a (relatively) few made the difference. Had the Allies been driven back, Hitler might have secured a negotiated peace and historically been normalized. For  everyone in those conflicts, it felt like the end of the world was imminent. 

      We've never been as close to racial equality as we were a few years ago. We were never as close to ecumenism as we were before the rise of  the Evangelicals. In my lifetime, the majority of US citizens had at least a partial understanding of what we did to Native Americans. Non-traditional sexual lifestyles were being accepted as mainstream. It frightens me to see so much progress in peril. 

      As a country, we have screwed up badly, righted the ship of state, progressed, and then screwed up again. I'm worried about the dark times that may happen but I'm certain that the values of true democracy won't evaporate from the hearts of patriots if Trump wins. The idea of justice can't be wiped out by Presidential Decree, even if the USSC says he can. Secular Humanism is a belief system millions embrace even if the term is foreign. 

      I want to quote someone who knew, and said it with more authority than I can ever muster. He was right then and it applies now.

      “We’ve got some difficult days ahead,” Martin Luther King, Jr., told an overflowing crowd in Memphis, Tennessee, on 3 April 1968, where the city’s sanitation workers were striking. “But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land” (King, “I’ve Been,” 222–223). Less than 24 hours after these prophetic words, King was assassinated by James Earl Ray.

  3. For a history of this time to be correctly written, our problems stemmed from Mitch McConnel and DJT. who gave us the judicial stink tank we have today.  They were just the point people and had the backing of the likes of the Kochs and the right-wing media machine.  It took them years to establish this rule of the few over a democracy.  

    This is more a question than a statement on my part.  I know it just fixes the blame and not the problem.  It is Joe's problem at the moment, and he can declare a national emergency and take action.  I don't have that kind of power, but I do think we are in a national emergency.  If you don't believe it just review Trump's debate points.  They were all based on lies we know but we also know that truth and character does not count for a large number of people. 

    • If only RGB had stepped aside when there was still time. Seeing Kamala Harris attempt the impossible task of defending Joe's debate performance with Anderson Cooper, making and articulating the points that should have been made during the debate itself, kind of made it obvious to me that we are in the same spot again. There’s still time. If Joe resigns and Harris becomes President it will go much further towards uniting the Party and securing a win in November than a convention fight.

      • There are valid solid arguments this would make a mess.  The last thing we need is more mess.  The last thing the Palestinians need is more mess.  The last thing we need is more mess.  That is why both of us are in the same condition.  

        To my argument I want to add a fact, and a big one. I would cite the reference to this fact but it is a technical manual I no longer have ready access to.  All people as they age loose listening comprehension skills.  No matter what was the maximum you attained in life, if you are past your twenties your ability to listen and understand is getting weaker by the year.  This fact was established scientifically with a very large and well selected sample of the American population.  

        Trump sat through a trial where a jury of 12 people found him guilty of 34 felonies.  He "listened" to all of it.  I see no indication he understands even the possibility he did anything wrong.  I try to think of who gets through to him, and he appears to understand people like Steve Bannon and used to admire and play golf with Rush Limbaugh who he also seemed to understand.  As far as I can see he listens to and understands nothing from anyone who has any academic or literary authority.  Even a remote chance of him being elected constitutes a national emergency.  He can a will probably take the whole earth down as a habitable planet. 

        We have a problem!!!  We need a solution fast!!!

      • I'd be very comfortable with President Kamala Harris, but nearly every time I see her name mentioned anywhere there's some kind of disclaimer about how she's "not popular" and somehow would scare off voters. I don't know exactly who decides these things — I have suspicions — and maybe if voters got a good look at her she'd win them over. I don't know. Now that some time has gone by I'm leaning in the direction of thinking that Biden should, very soon, step out of the race and endorse his replacement. Otherwise he's going to have to take big steps to rehabilitate his image, and only those close to him can judge if he has it in him to do that, and that debate night was just an off night. And I have no idea who would be a sure-fire winner of a replacement. 

  4. Wait!!

    According to my official Florida public and private history books the Right Cause Of The Confederacy led the golden South to an overwhelming victory at Gettysburg that led to the resignation of Lincoln and won the war for the Stars and Bars and the glory of humidity.

    General Ron Desantis proudly accepted the surrender of General Grant and the slaves cheered the victory because they were so happy to be slaves as they learned a trade and could live without the iron boot of too much government.

    I also hear this event is prominently mentioned in Project 2025.

    Citations can also be found in the National Ministry of Truth in Mar-A-Lago in what used to be called Georgia but will soon be identified as The Woke Education Concentration Camp# 37729.

  5. I can’t believe the so called liberal media asking Biden to step down after 1, just 1 bad debate.  He has been pretty good for 3 1/2 years.  I didn’t see them telling Trump to step down after being convicted of rape and more, why?  I kind of believe they want Trump, even if he is bad for the country.  It get the readers to click on stories on all the crazy things he says, versus Biden is boring.  It’s always about money here.

    I am stopping watching the news and reading the NYT and WAPO.  Now I’ll concentrate on reading all the bad stuff happening in France on Le Monde, for a change.  And spending more time watching le Tour de France.  

    I joined thousands of young people in the 1960s marching on Market Street in San Francisco against the Vietnam war.  Where are the young protesters? They are not afraid to lose their democracy? don’t they understand what has just happened?  So much passivity here.  It’s breathtaking to me, a dual citizen, when in France they go out and protest for the smallest problem.  Why are the people here so apathetic?

  6. I've had a lot of thoughts starting with last Thursday's debate. The thoughts have evolved day by day, partly from observing the reactions to the debate, but also due to the second blow on Monday with the SCOTUS ruling.

    I'll need to break this into more than one post. Hope y'all will cut me some slack.

    Let me start with a summary statement of the destination I’ve reached. Whatever the Democratic ticket looks like after the convention, the broad multi-faceted coalition that put Biden-Harris in office in the 2020 election absolutely needs to be totally unified and totally committed to preventing another term for TFG. I’ll leave this topic on the side for now, because it’s a complicated thing to try to pull off at this point in time.

    Debate Night: That night I posted a brief comment here.  Something like “This debate is a disaster.” I was shocked.  Let me be clear, I’ve been aware for a long time (all the way back to fall of 2020) that Biden “looks” old.  I put that in quotes because it’s more than the color of his hair, the looseness of the skin of his neck, the shuffling gait, the odd squint. And even though a lot of people understand he has a stutter, and that a stutter in no way impairs the ability to think, the often halting delivery is part of it.  Biden “looks” old the same way the average young person’s grandfather “looks” old.  For some younger people, old people are like: Oh, that’s just my Grampa, he’s a good guy, but he’s not as sharp as he used to be, occasionally he gets confused and sometimes his mind jumps around, and he sure does like talking about how things were when he was younger.

    Now, for me this “looking” old is not a problem.  I understand that it’s superficial and that he deserves enormous credit for the monumental accomplishments of his presidency, especially given the narrow margins that he had in the first two years. I could tout that forever. But I have two worries: 1) In an election as close as this, are there enough undecided voters who can look past this age question and pull the lever for Biden?  Or will enough of the swing voters either leave the President row on the ballot blank or go third party? That’s worry number one. (We got enough young voters in 2020 to squeak by, and young people are really upset about Gaza).  2) If you can view this on a humanity level first…what if Biden has suffered one or more real medical aging problems that actually mean that what we saw last Thursday night is going to happen repeatedly going forward? I think it is empathy on my part to think that maybe the pressure of this election of all elections is not something we should ask of him. The stress will be huge. Is he really the only person in the party who can defeat TFG? I don’t know the answer to any of those, and my point is that right now nobody knows the answer to those questions outside his family and close circle. He might be fully capable of doing another 4 years at the level of his first 3.5. Regardless, for him to be off the ticket, that would have to come from him; it would have to be his choice.  And if that happens, I will believe that he came to the conclusion that it would be the best thing for the country in the long run.

    That’s as far as I got on debate night. Please don't draw conclusions yet.  I have a couple more steps to go.

  7. “We are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be,”  Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts

    WTF does that mean? I can't read minds, but the way I read the comment is that the guy leading the Heritage Foundation thinks they are going to prevail with the help of the USSC to secure an Imperial Presidency for Trump. He's also aware the left won't take it laying down. Trump's first day as POTUS in 2017 attracted more people to DC than the inauguration the previous day. 

    Mass civil disobedience is a powerful weapon. Republicans know that media coverage of brutal repressive tactics will cost them future elections. The media lives for violent events. "If it bleeds, it leads." So IMO, what Heritage was saying is/was that they intent to suppress any protests as hard and as quickly as possible, with the objective of silencing the media and frightening the left (voters and members of Congress) into abject submission BEFORE the midterm election.

    In my lifetime, in the Civil Rights Movement, Black Americans assembled "illegally" to protest government-sanctioned racial oppression. In a lot of cases, they were attached by cops with fire hoses and police dogs or cops wielding clubs. We know this history. Non-violent civil disobedience AND the free press broke the back of organized, institutional discrimination. (No, I am not saying we've eVer had real equality.) But after Black Americans stood up for justice and took the beating publicly, the Civil Rights Act was passed. 

    Does that kind of moral fibre exist in "woke" Americans today? I think so. Kevin Roberts is betting it does not. 

    • "WTF does that mean?" We're supposed to surrender without a fight. Or without mass demonstrations. Or small demonstrations. Or letters to the editor. Can't have that. Obviouly, liberty requires us to stifle ourselves. 

    • Yes. More specifically, we need to limit the Constitutional Amendments to undoing the bad decisions that the USSC and construct guard rails that prevent any future court from the same mistakes.

      I'd put women's rights to control over their bodies and lives at the top of the list. That is – restore Roe. It's not the government's business to intervene until and unless the fetus is viable outside the womb. Look at related issues where the right has been proposing to intrude.

      Contraception, as long as it's been through standard FDA research and certification is the business of the persons involved. (Male contraception might become a thing.)

      Protect no-fault divorce.

      Protect non-traditional sexual orientation for adults (18+).

      Protect the rights of parents, following the advice of certified professionals, to allow medical care to facilitate sexual orientation of their kids.

      Pass the ERA.

      Repeal the Electoral College.

      Prohibit gerrymandering by both sides. 

      Ban big money in politics. I wrote extensively about that in my book. It's not complicated unless you're plan is to ban big money for them but allow it (sorta) for your side.

      Expand the USSC and put strict limits on "gifts" with requirements for reporting and authorize criminal penalties for failures. 

      A new 2nd amendment that guarantees gun ownership as a right – if you are mentally sound, properly trained, and insured. (Different guns for different purposes require different training and certification.)

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