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“It’s…alive!” Public domain photo courtesy John Locke Foundation

The Senate sitting as an impeachment jury is not faring well in the court of public opinion.

I’ve even heard people I would have thought knew better criticize the Framers for the procedural steps they wrote down as prerequisite to nullifying an election. I’ve now watched three impeachments, four if you count the involuntary departure of Richard Nixon, and the claim of election nullification is always lurking.

Of course, it’s true that the result of an election is being nullified. Would it sound better if described as “giving the voters a mulligan?” Donald John Trump did not bring to the White House the education or the experience we have come to expect, he never got a majority…


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Grand Older Party Image from PublicDomainVectors

Poor Donald John Trump.

I have but one and a half remarks before I ask my Buick 6 to whisk me to the Temple VA where I get my second COVID 19 shot.

First, jurisdiction is a sticky thing. In the law, we claim jurisdiction “attaches” to a set of parties as if with screws or bolts. Actually, the first image that stuck in my mind as I saw Mr. …


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Trump as a Legend in His Own Mind. Photo by Pixels in Public Domain.

If some contemporary admirer of JFK (or Ted Sorensen) wished to write a second volume to Profiles in Courage, it would be a very short book.

The last senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), seemed to take pride in his nickname, Grim Reaper, perhaps because it was directly connected to the source of his power, his ability to steer the senate away from situations that might require “his members” to cast a difficult vote. The primary difficulty to be avoided was controversy in their home states.

The issue is not having one’s true position smoked out by the vote. There might not even be a true position. The issue is having to cast the sort of vote that is bound to cost political support among those…


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We could always eat them! The crickets, not the Republicans. Photo from Pixnio.

The new President of the United States, Joe Biden, says we need to get in harness and pull in the same direction if we want to get anywhere. That is a self-evident fact given the way our Congress works. It’s much easier to stop legislation than to pass it.

The fact of how to break the logjam begs the question where do we wish to take the logs when we have them floating free? Biden suggests we are facing four interlocking crises that must be addressed.

(Russell digression™ There is another problem big enough to choke a Clydesdale that is too widely distributed in space and time to describe it as a crisis. Biden is not saying it out loud for the sake of the need to construct something resembling national unity to get anything at all done about the four crises he is proposing to engage.

Underlying all…


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Washington to Mar-a-Lago Photo From Pixabay

Written without the technicality of winning an election.

I guess it’s a bit arrogant to think of your own life as a history, but, well, there it is. Maybe it helps that the narrative is largely a process of bouncing off other people, of what they taught me or the mysteries they left.

This is started the day before Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. — -“Joe” to most folks — will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. The country survived the 45th, but I’m not the only one who thought that issue was in doubt several times. The outgoing president was so fond of being…


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Photo by Katarzyna Modrzejewska on Pexels. Royal Pussy.

You few, you proud, you readers of my memoir, Lighting the Fire (Miniver Press 2020), might remember how, in the mid-fifties, I discovered a trunk full of old issues of Reader’s Digest. I attacked the magazines by my usual method: front to back. Some of what I learned from the contents of that trunk sticks with me in my elder years.

I noticed for the first time that natural disasters like tornadoes, floods, or pandemics do not hunt up bad people to kill. They kill anybody they can reach.

I learned that a condensed book is to a book as condensed soup is to soup.

Relevant to today’s sermon, I caught an anecdote about Queen Elizabeth II that drags me smack into the middle Joe Biden’s inauguration. In 1952, the article claimed, Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth at age 25, and the running joke she played on her security detail got less funny.

During World War II, lots of women learned…


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MAGA INAUGURAL PHOTO BY Fernando M.Velázquez ON UNSPLASH

In my second career, I taught criminal justice, a natural progression from a first career as a judge and the various roles I played in the justice system before taking the bench.

Sometimes people assume that all my students were future police officers. That’s not quite so, but they were a practical bunch and most were happy to describe their ambitions

More of them intended law school than were destined to get admitted, and I got more than an even share of them because I taught all the law focused courses at one time or another. I did my best to match them all with a law school where they would have a chance.

From watching my graduates, it appeared that most of them spent time as probation or parole officers. Maybe…


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Photo by roya ann miller on Unsplash

Il Duce, “the leader,” was the preferred title of the man who led the Italian prong of the Axis in World War II, Benito Mussolini.

Before he took over the Italian government, he ran the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento. Italians have reputations for being out in front of fashion, and the political fashion about to catch on was Fascism.

Fascism was the alternative flavor of autocracy for those who did not like the flavor of communism or could not read Karl Marx. The Axis Powers — -Italy, Germany and Japan — set out to dominate the world, but there was Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal, lesser lights in Easter Europe, and even the powers that stood in the way of Fascism — France…


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Jean-Pierre Houël, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I am writing on January 7, 2021, the day after a mob stormed the Capitol at the urging of the leader of the insurrection — Donald John Trump — -with the stated purpose of stopping or at least disrupting the effect of the 2020 elections. The mob was tens of thousands strong, but was only lightly armed.

Congress was in joint session for the purpose of accepting reports originating in the states of the election results. It is a largely ceremonial process, since Congress is in line behind the Electoral College, and I cannot recall it ever being televised before. The state election results only began with the numbers generated as vote totals.

Mr. Trump publicly announced that the election was “rigged” months before election day and refused to commit to accepting the outcome — unless, of course, he was reelected. He recruited teams of lawyers and deployed them in swing states to the purpose of exposing…


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New Government Complex. Photo on Unsplash by Gautam Krishnan.

Call them the “Framers” of the Constitution or the “Founding Fathers” of the nation.

To give them their historical due, worship is not necessary, and it might be more realistic to admit they benefitted from a lot of luck. It’s true that the American Revolution struck longer lasting blows for democracy than other contemporary uprisings, but why is open to debate.

Hundreds of years later, the revolutions in the name of “the people” — -always in the name of “the people” — -look cheek by jowl after the Peace of Westphalia, when it became clear that the vicar of Christ, the Roman Catholic Pope, was going to lose his grip on secular political power.

Steve Russell

Steve Russell is enrolled Cherokee, a 9th grade dropout, retired judge, associate professor emeritus of criminal justice, and (so far) a cancer survivor.

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