My http://www.janbtucker.com/blog stat counter just made it past 400,000 page hits since the blog was launched!!!!
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My http://www.janbtucker.com/blog stat counter just made it past 400,000 page hits since the blog was launched!!!!
Unique Pages Served: 19068 Total Sessions: 181452 Total Page Hits: 400005
To understand the mostly private political viewpoint of Larry Hagman, a longtime member of the California Peace & Freedom Party, you first have to look at the context of his mother’s career. Mary Martin won Tony Awards for her Broadway appearances in South Pacific and Sound of Music. Look at the times and the themes: an attack on racism where she risked getting blacklisted and an explicitly anti-fascist movie.
The play was based upon James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Michener was a principled liberal and later served as Bucks County Pennsylvania Chairman of John Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1960. When Kennedy won the state, Michener was Secretary to the Pennsylvania College of Electors convention. When Mary Martin starred in the role of Nellie Forbush in 1949, it was not exactly without controversy, as explained in the Wikipedia Article:
The musical explores the theme of racial prejudice in several ways. Nellie struggles to accept Emile’s mixed-race children. Another American serviceman, Lieutenant Cable, struggles with the prejudice that he would face if he were to marry an Asian woman. His song about this, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”, was criticized as too controversial for the musical stage and called indecent and pro-communist. While the show was on a tour of the Southern United States, lawmakers in Georgia introduced a bill outlawing any entertainment containing “an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow.” One legislator said that “a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American way of life.” Rodgers and Hammerstein defended their work strongly. James Michener recalled, “The authors replied stubbornly that this number represented why they had wanted to do this play, and that even if it meant the failure of the production, it was going to stay in.”
Now, here’s the song Wikipedia references, “You’ve got to be carefully taught“–
You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!
Larry Hagman joined many literary and entertainment industry members in joining the Peace & Freedom Party when it qualified for the ballot in 1967 in California. Amongst others, California PFP members included:
Apparently afraid that he could risk blacklisting like his mother while portraying J.R. Ewing in the original Dallas series and basking in the popularity of the role that spawned “J.R. For President” bumper stickers throughout America, Hagman re-registered for a time as a Republican. Later he re-joined the Peace & Freedom Party with his fame and fortune established to a point where he didn’t have to worry.
Anyway, with his death yesterday, the real Larry Hagman, the lifelong radical, will be missed by me, while others will be missing the J.R. Ewing that he really wasn’t.
Two things happened this week which by coincidence or fate brought back a flood of memories and emotions about my father, Saul Selwyn Tucker. First, the son of the Hollywood Reporter‘s founder apologized for that paper’s role in blacklisting. Three days later I received two emails that left me simultaneously proud and humbled. Jeffrey St. Clair of Counter Punch [http://www.counterpunch.org/] invited me to become that magazine’s Criminal Justice Columnist and Scotty Reid of Black Talk Radio [http://blacktalkradionetwork.com/] asked me to become a regular commentator on his program. As to the Hollywood Reporter’s belated discussion of their issue, Associated Press reported:
SANDY COHEN | November 19, 2012 07:51 PM EST | AP
LOS ANGELES — The son of The Hollywood Reporter founder Billy Wilkerson is apologizing for his father’s and the trade paper’s role in the 1947 Hollywood Blacklist that destroyed the careers of writers, actors and directors accused of having communist ties.
In an article published Monday by The Hollywood Reporter, Willie Wilkerson, 61, calls the Blacklist era “Hollywood’s Holocaust” and says, “On the eve of this dark 65th anniversary, I feel an apology is necessary.”
He says his father supported the Blacklist to exact revenge against the Hollywood titans he felt denied him entry to their club when he wanted to establish a movie studio in the late 1920s. Billy Wilkerson founded The Hollywood Reporter in 1930, and after World War II, used the paper as a vehicle for a series of editorials attacking communist sympathizers and their influence in Hollywood.
“In his maniacal quest to annihilate the studio owners, he realized that the most effective retaliation was to destroy their talent,” Willie Wilkerson writes. “In the wake of this emerging hysteria surrounding communism, the easiest way to crush the studio owners was to simply call their actors, writers and directors communists. Unfortunately, they would become the collateral damage of history. Apart from being charged with contempt, for refusing to name names, none of these individuals committed any crimes.”
One serious mis-perception created in large part by Hollywood itself about blacklisting is that it only happened to entertainment industry people and/or journalists (as in 1991’s Guilty by Suspicion or The Front in 1976). I have one friend who’s father was a janitor and it happened to him. My father was a millwright-machinist and likewise he was fired from government service, harassed by the FBI when he got private sector employment, and his nascent writing career came to an abrupt halt.
My dad had a heart murmur from childhood rheumatic fever and so was rejected when he tried to enlist in all the armed services, so to do his part he got a civilian job with the Army Air Corps at Hickam Field in Hawaii as a millwright-machinist. Working class, progressive, and militantly against discrimination, as I would later find out from his FBI and U.S. Army intelligence files and from his own anecdotes, he spent his spare time helping to organize pineapple workers for the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU which launched a Hawaii sugar strike in 1946), participating in an integrated recreational organization (I know that from watching home movies) known as the Hawaii Trail & Mountain Club, attending a meeting of the United Public Workers of America (UPWA-CIO) to hear Abraham Flaxer speak, and becoming an activist with the Hawaii Association of Civic Unity (HACU). The Civic Unity associations around the United States were dedicated to ending discrimination of all sorts and were well ahead of their time. It was pointed out in the context of explaining why the organization was (to the writer, Army Col. Innes Randolph) obviously Communist because HACU’s constitution called for:
Horrors! My liberal and conservative friends see this and are aghast, usually opining something along the lines of “but I thought that was what America was all about.” In my father’s case it got him fired from his job.
Consider the context: this was 1946 -47 and it was still well before the Henry Wallace Progressive Party presidential campaign forced Harry Truman to order the desegregation of the armed forces on the basis of race. Not to mention, calling for an end to sex discrimination wouldn’t even be considered a responsible, reasonable, or even sane demand by liberals (let alone everybody else) until the feminist revolution of the 60s. It was only radicals like my dad who dared propose and fight for these ideals in the 40s and they paid a dear price for their activism.
President Truman signed Executive Order 9835, the so-called “Loyalty Order,” on March 21, 1947. This was well before Joe McCarthy had started his rampage against civil liberties in America. Under the Loyalty Order, around 3,000,000 federal employees were subjected to witch hunt type investigations. Around 5,000 simply quit. Only about 3-400 contested their firings. My father was one of them. Another was the EEO officer of the Roosevelt administration who’d pushed to create the unit that became known as the Tuskegee Airmen (his name escapes me). I met his son at a Tuskegee Airmen L.A. Chapter event in January 2009. Like my dad, his father was subjected to a worse than Kafkaesque proceeding (Kafka’s “The Trial” might have been bizarre, but at least the victim was allowed to attend his own trial; under 9835 proceedings you had no right to know who the witnesses were or what the evidence against you encompassed).
The reason I now know what the evidence that was used against my father is because I got it eight years after he died under the Privacy Act, 5 USC 552a, which didn’t exist when he was facing his persecution. In addition to his having attended the UPWA meeting and his activism with HACU, his being Vice President of the Hawaii Trail & Mountain Club was also used against him. Seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried.
According to a report by the 401st Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) of the Navy, which had an informant in the club, at the meetings, “Tucker never said anything good about the United States and never said anything bad about Russia.” One might think that the “confrontation clause” of the United States Constitution would mean that my father had a right to confront (Sixth Amendment) his accuser about this statement but he never even knew it was evidence used against him in these secret proceedings. One might also think that under normal rules of evidence in a nation that prides itself on “due process of law” (Fifth Amendment) evidence of what somebody did NOT say would be inadmissible. In fact, it should have been considered to be ridiculous, but in 1947 it was a statement in the record used to fire my father.
There is also this little problem of the right to counsel in these proceedings, especially in Hawaii. My father, and many like him in Hawaii, were defended by Harriet Bouslog.
Harriet Bouslog had a truly extraordinary life and career in an era when it was rare and almost impossible for a woman to become a lawyer. For a biographical work, see http://www.hawaii.edu/biograph/biohi/bouslogguide.pdf. As the Honolulu Advertiser wrote:
From the outset of her legal career Harriet Bouslog relished her role as the champion of the underrepresented in the community. Long before the advent of the Legal Aid Corporation and the Office of the Public Defender, she chose to offer her legal services to clients at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale.
And for the record, she never turned away a client or a cause because of a lack of funds.
She certainly didn’t turn away my father. A longstanding principle of the legal profession is [as enshrined for example in California Business & Professions Code Section 6068(h)] the concept for an attorney to “Never to reject, for any consideration personal to himself or herself, the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed.” For her efforts of defending the poor and the unfortunate she too came under attack by the system, disbarred by the Hawaii Territorial Supreme Court. She had to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to get her suspension overturned on a narrow 5-4 vote. Ostensibly, Bouslog’s right to practice law was suspended on a complaint from the Hawaii Bar Association because of a speech she gave to ILWU members regarding her defense of their members who were accused of illegally being members of the Communist Party. In In re Sawyer – 360 U.S. 622 (1959) [Sawyer was Bouslog’s married name], Justice William J. Brennan Jr. wrote for the majority that:
Petitioner’s clients included labor unions, among them the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union. Some of the defendants in the Smith Act trial were officers and members of that union and their defense was being supported by the union. The meeting at Honokaa was sponsored by the ILWU and was attended in large part by its members. The petitioner spoke extemporaneously and no transcript or recording was made of her speech. Precisely what she did say is a matter of dispute. Neither the Territorial Supreme Court nor the Court of Appeals saw the witnesses, but both courts, on reading the record, resolved matters of evidentiary conflict in the fashion least favorable to the petitioner. For the purposes of our review here, we may do the same. The version of the petitioner’s speech principally relied upon by the Court of Appeals, 260 F.2d, at 197-198, is derived from notes made by a newspaper reporter, Matsuoka, who attended the meeting and heard what the petitioner said. These were not Matsuoka’s original notes – the originals were lost – but an expanded version prepared by him at the direction of his newspaper superiors after interest in the speech was aroused by Matsuoka’s account of it in the newspaper……The summary will illumine the basis of our conclusion that the finding that the petitioner’s speech impugned the integrity of Judge Wiig or reflected upon his impartiality and fairness in presiding at the Smith Act trial is without support. The fact finding below does not remove this Court’s duty of examining the evidence to see whether it furnishes a rational basis for the characterization put on it by the lower courts. See Fiske v. Kansas, 274 U.S. 380 . Speculation cannot take over where the proofs fail. We conclude that there is no support for any further factual inference than that petitioner was voicing strong criticism of Smith Act cases and the Government’s manner of proving them, and that her references to the happenings at the Honolulu trial were illustrative of this, and not a reflection in any wise upon Judge Wiig personally or his conduct of the trial.
Petitioner said that the Honolulu trial was really an effort to get at the ILWU. She wanted to tell about some “rather shocking and horrible things that go on at the trial.” The defendants, she said, were being tried for reading books written before they were born. Jack Hall, one of the defendants, she said, was on trial because he had read the Communist Manifesto. She spoke of the nature of criminal conspiracy prosecutions, as she saw [360 U.S. 622, 629] them, and charged that when the Government did not have enough evidence “it lumps a number together and says they agreed to do something.” “Conspiracy means to charge a lot of people for agreeing to do something you have never done.” She generally attacked the FBI, saying they spent too much time investigating people’s minds, and next dwelt further on the remoteness of the evidence in the case and the extreme youth of some of the defendants at the time to which the evidence directly related. She said “no one has a memory that good, yet they use this kind of testimony. Why? Because they will do anything and everything necessary to convict.”
We start with the proposition that lawyers are free to criticize the state of the law…..But all are free to express their views on these matters, and no one would say that this sort of criticism constituted an improper attack on the judges who enforced such rules and who presided at the trials. This is so, even though the existence of questionable rules of law might be said in a sense to produce unfair trials. Such criticism simply cannot be equated with an attack on the motivation or the integrity or the competence of the judges. And surely permissible criticism may as well be made to a lay audience as to a professional; oftentimes the law is modified through popular criticism…..
So, by one single vote of the U.S. Supreme Court, Harriet Bouslog was able to continue her career as an attorney…..but many of her clients, without her even having the legal ability to learn what the evidence against them was, were not so lucky. Fired from government service, my dad also lost his budding career as a freelance writer.
My father had only a high school education. He’d learned his trade as a millwright – machinist with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) at one of their projects in Woodstock, New York (he was always ahead of his time….I guess he was with the original “Woodstock Generation”). He was an avid reader and a brilliant writer. By the age of 24 he’d been published in the Honolulu Star Bulletin and nationally in the Ladies Home Journal. Following his firing and blacklisting the only publication in America that ever accepted his writing again was Compressed Air. Nevertheless, he kept writing and submitting articles without success, only to receive rejection slips. One could read between the lines to recognize when editors were simply afraid to print something with his name on it.
When I was a little boy, my father took me to meet a friend, another blacklisted writer, who’d changed his name to Will B. Heard, in opposition to his blacklisting. So in honor of Will, my dad, and all those like them, call me Will B. Heard II as a pen name.
So that is why it is both humbling and a source of pride for me to be asked to use my media talents with Counter Punch and Black Talk Radio. I carry with me the burden of keeping true to my father’s ideals and to vindicate his existentialist struggle for, as Hannah Arendt might have characterized it, “species immortality,” or as the Emperor Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco (Pre-Columbian Nahuatl culture of the Central Valley of Mexico) might have expressed it, his predisposition for “in cuicatl, in xochitl.”
You can help me keep on this fight. If you have on-record story ideas or information to impart that I can help publicize, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If on the other hand you need to remain as a confidential source under which I will invoke the immunity of California Evidence Code Section 1070 (the journalists’ “Shield Law”), then email it on the record but not for attribution to email@example.com.
Venceremos, Jan B. Tucker
Trying to second guess prosecutorial decisions in the criminal procedure (as one of my grad school profs explained, he named his course “criminal procedure” as opposed to “criminal justice” because the use of the term “justice” to describe our system is a value judgment that political scientists should avoid) system is to enter into a maze. It is also an example of how federal and state authorities have tunnel vision and fail to recognize the laws that can be enforced by their counterparts and colleagues in other branches of government.
There are some public servants that have served the Compton-Carson-Long Beach area with great integrity. Others have left much to be desired. Either way, it seems that with some notable exceptions it seems that if y0u’re a Black or Brown politician your odds of being prosecuted go way up in the Los Angeles area. If you do the same thing as a white public official it is frequently hands off, no matter how solid the case is. Let’s get down to cases.
Compton Mayor and later Rep. Walter R. Tucker III won Merv Dymally’s congressional seat [http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/10/08/mervyn-dymally-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly/] when Merv retired in 1992. He was accused to taking bribes by the federal government when he’d been Mayor of Compton, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to jail. Walter was a stand up guy, loyal to friends, and when we’d appear at public forums we’d kid each other and the audiences that we were cousins (as I always say, I’m the proverbial “honky in the wood pile”). At the same time as that prosecution was going down, I had reported to the District Attorney, the State Attorney General, the Los Angeles County Counsel, the Sheriffs Department and the FBI the fact that (a) I was an eyewitness to the Bradbury City Clerk’s (at the time a virtually all-white, gated community) office falsifying a government document in my presence (a felony under the government code) and (b) the public recording of a bribe made to a Bradbury City Planning Commissioner (which I also complained about to the Fair Political Practices Commission).
Nobody would do squat about the falsification of the public record. I literally had to force the Sheriff’s Department to even accept a criminal complaint right after I witnessed the crime. First they claimed it wasn’t a crime. Then they claimed they didn’t have a copy of the Government Code when I cited the sections violated. When I demanded their written procedures under Section 832.5 of the Penal Code for filing a personnel complaint, they conveniently “found” a copy of the Government Code and made a report.
As to the latter problem, you’ve got to be wondering how and why on Earth anybody would publicly record a bribe???? Well, you would if you were white and rich and knew that nobody would do anything about it and that you got to keep the bribe even if anybody did. On May 21 of the year this happened, a developer and his wife signed (and had notarized) for a $950,000.00 mortgage on a piece of property and made out a grant deed for the property for a one-half undivided interest to the planning commissioner and his wife. The deal apparently was that the mortgage would be paid off by the developer so based upon the actual value of the property, the bribe amounted to more than half-a-million dollars. The night of the meeting (I got the tape recording of the planning commission meeting) the commissioner moved for, argued for, and voted for approval of a development involving a real estate tract. That tract was precisely the one in which I had witnessed and reported the falsification of documents on. The planning commission met on May 25. The next morning, May 26 promptly at 8:00 a.m. when the County Recorder opened for business, the deed of trust and the grant deed were promptly filed and recorded.
Nobody would do anything about this bribe except the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). They fined the planning commissioner for failing to disclose the bribe as income on his Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests. The fine: $1,500.00. He got to keep the bribe itself.
Okay, so let me get this straight: Walter Tucker goes to jail for what amounted to chump change and a rich white planning commissioner gets fined $1,500.00 for failing to report over $500,000.00 that he gets to keep? H. Rap Brown said at the height of the civil rights movement that “Justice in America means ‘Just Us White Folk.'” Can the contrast be any sharper?
Fast forward to Walter’s successor in Congress, Juanita Millender McDonald. She promotes her son, Roderick Keith McDonald to run for State Assembly in the 55th District. He registers to vote at her home address in Carson which is in the district. I get assigned by one of his opponents to do opposition research on him and lo and behold, he lives a mile outside the district in Long Beach and under penalty of perjury he signs for a homeowner exemption for property tax purposes at his Long Beach house meaning that the house is supposed to be owner-occupied!
Although a Sacramento judge at least ruled that if elected, Roderick won’t be able to take office, he isn’t disqualified from the ballot (he does lose the primary). The House Ethics Committee ignores and does not even respond to my complaint about his mom letting him register to vote at her house (which is also under penalty of perjury). As usual with my complaints, everybody else ignores it. Compare that to the current prosecution of my old college buddy Richard Alarcon for supposedly not living in his City Council District, a far, far weaker case than one where you’ve got two different documents signed under penalty of perjury (one with a tax consequence) with two different addresses sworn to be true and correct. Go figure. Richard’s busted but on that Roderick never was.
Roderick did get his just rewards later, because even though everybody ignored my complaints, he eventually was sentenced to prison by the feds for mail fraud, conspiracy to commit extortion under color of authority, and money laundering.
Fast forward again. Laura Richardson succeeded Juanita as representative for the district. When Laura was young and just starting out on her political career, I met and was impressed with her when she appeared before the “Wednesday Group,” a coalition of women’s political organizations that met on Wednesdays for joint interviews of candidates. I represented San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles NOW. At the time I was the only male allowed to participate (prior to me they’d begun a female only rule to get rid of a real sexist pig and jerk who’d been showing up but relaxed it when SFV/NELA NOW wanted me as their representative).
For some background on the issues that have recently plagued Richardson, see my last blog on the subject: http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/11/09/will-laura-richardsons-luck-follow-arturo-danaire-frazier/. The case of what Laura Richardson did to her staff brings up some interesting questions for whether she could be prosecuted under California law, a matter which has drawn no attention by the mainstream press. Just to review a few facts for background, in not one but two elections, 2010 and 2012, Richardson’s staff was unlawfully forced to work on her congressional campaigns. For example, it was widely reported that her District Director, Samuel J. “Joey” Hill Jr. “…was often out of the office working on campaign issues, and when he was present, he did campaign work at the office” according to the House Ethics Investigative Subcommittee Report, p. 47 [House Committee on Ethics, 112th Congress, In the Matter of Allegations Relating to Representative Laura Richardson, Appendix A, Report of the Investigative Subcommittee in the Matter of Allegations Relating to Representative Laura Richardson, August 1, 2012 (Investigative Subcommittee Report)]. Hill, was a former staffer for former legislator Teresa Hughes (and husband of Hughes’ daughter, current Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Deirdre H. Hill) who was defeated by Herb Wesson for State Assembly in 1998 and has since continued work as a legislative and congressional aide.
According to the Ethics Committee report, Richardson also retaliated against staff for cooperating with the committee investigation, one of her aides falsified a staff member’s employment record (time report), threatened staffers, and suggested false testimony for them to give in the committee’s investigation. This goes back to my initial point: why hasn’t the State of California taken any action to protect the California Labor Code rights of the employees at her Long Beach office? These are some of the laws that apply and violation of them are misdemeanors under Section 1103 of the California Labor Code:
1101. No employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy: (a) Forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office. (b) Controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees. 1102. No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity. 1102.5. (a) An employer may not make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation. (b) An employer may not retaliate against an employee for disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation. (c) An employer may not retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation. (d) An employer may not retaliate against an employee for having exercised his or her rights under subdivision (a), (b), or (c) in any former employment. (e) A report made by an employee of a government agency to his or her employer is a disclosure of information to a government or law enforcement agency pursuant to subdivisions (a) and (b). (f) In addition to other penalties, an employer that is a corporation or limited liability company is liable for a civil penalty not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each violation of this section. (g) This section does not apply to rules, regulations, or policies which implement, or to actions by employers against employees who violate, the confidentiality of the lawyer-client privilege of Article 3 (commencing with Section 950), the physician-patient privilege of Article 6 (commencing with Section 990) of Chapter 4 of Division 8 of the Evidence Code, or trade secret information.
This is a very timely issue. With the well-reported threats by employers to shut down their workplaces or lay off employees if President Obama won re-election, where there are laws in place that protect workers from political coercion, they should be applied and enforced vigorously. If that means taking on a now defeated member of the House of Representatives, so be it.
But frankly, I’m not holding my breath.
If present day petitions circulating around the United States seeking the right to secede were simply manifestations of “Romantic Nationalism” [“RN” for brevity], they’d be bad enough. In point of fact they go beyond traditional notions of RN and are based upon popular mythology with no basis in history, constitutional law, or international law. For a traditional notion of RN, we can look to Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s (an acolyte of Immanuel Kant) “To the German Nation” in 1806, which exhorted German resistance to Napoleon Bonaparte:
Those who speak the same language are joined to each other by a multitude of invisible bonds by nature herself, long before any human art begins; they understand each other and have the power of continuing to make themselves understood more and more clearly; they belong together and are by nature one and an inseparable whole. …Only when each people, left to itself, develops and forms itself in accordance with its own peculiar quality, and only when in every people each individual develops himself in accordance with that common quality, as well as in accordance with his own peculiar quality—then, and then only, does the manifestation of divinity appear in its true mirror as it ought to be.
The Terminology of Diplomatic Recognition
Before discussing the legal and historical assertions being bandied about by advocates of secession, the best argument is seemingly ‘we used to be independent and joined the United States voluntarily so we can get out if we want to.’ I realize that I can be accused of making a “straw man” (or “straw person”) argument as defined in logic, but I think my characterization of this argument for secession is fair from what I’ve read going around the internet. There are five (5) situations where that argument has a minimally plausible basis. Keep in mind that to be a “valid” argument, the conclusion must logically follow from the premises, while to be “sound” the argument must be “valid” and the premises must also be true. The five (5) historical situations where at least there is sort of a basis for claiming pre-existing independence include the “Green Mountain Republic” (Vermont), the Republic of West Florida (part of Louisiana), the so-called California Republic (or Bear Flag Republic), the Republic of Hawaii, and the Republic of Texas.
Before getting to the history though, it’s important to understand the various forms of diplomatic recognition that are accorded to nation states and to movements of people that control territory that do not necessarily constitute a nation state. Some of the important terms are De Facto, De Jure, Belligerency, Occupation, Annexation, and Cession.
De Facto diplomatic recognition is accorded to a government which is in actual control of a geographical area. A perfect modern day example is Taiwan, or the Republic of China as it calls itself. In the theories of both the Chinese Peoples Republic (the mainland) and that of Taiwan, each government is the “legitimate” or De Jure government of both the mainland and Taiwan. Most governments around the world recognize the mainland government as being the De Jure government but recognize the reality that the De Facto government in Taiwan is the government that calls itself the Republic of China.
Belligerency is a form of diplomatic recognition accorded when control of a geographical area — usually in a state of rebellion against a sovereign government — is accorded to a military force which may also be accompanied by a civilian form of government. This is precisely the kind of diplomatic recognition that was accorded to the Confederate States of America (CSA) by Great Britain, France, Brazil (which was sympathetic as a fellow government that still allowed legal slavery) and some other European nations, but no nation appointed formal diplomatic representatives.
Occupation is the formal recognition of a status, usually presumed to be temporary, when military forces of a nation state takes control of the geographical area of another. This is the status that most nations in the world accord to Palestine, as an area occupied by Israel. Annexation occurs when a part of one nation state is determined to have been legally incorporated into a nation state which has Occupied that territory. Israel contends that it has annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights Law of 1981 passed by the Israeli Knesset replaced military administration in the area with civil administration, but no other nation recognizes the legitimacy of the annexation and the United Nations officially considers it a violation of the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Convention. Another example of Annexation was the United States seizure and incorporation of the Northern half of Mexico by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Because Mexico never actually received everything it was supposed to get under the Treaty, such as respect for the rights of Mexicans on the United States side of the border that was established, Mexican textbooks described the USA “Southwest” as Mexican territory temporarily occupied by the USA (EEUU) until around 1946. Cession of Mexico’s North to the United States of America is technically what happened as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, albeit that there was a gun (an Army of Occupation in Mexico City) to Mexico’s head and it took the apparent bribery of at least two Mexican Senators by the United States to get the whole matter ratified after it had initially been voted down.
California–26 Days of Rebellion in a Single County
There is a distinct difference between a “revolution” and a “rebellion.” When a “rebellion” succeeds, it becomes a “revolution.” If it loses, it remains in history a rebellion.
The entire so-called California Republic consisted of the raising of the “Bear Flag” in the town square of the City of Sonoma, the arrest and incarceration of some Mexican officials, and the formal dissolution of the so-called Republic 26 days later when those who’d declared its existence found out that the United States was at war with Mexico and that the US was going to annex California anyway. It was never recognized by the United States, Mexico or any other nation, never controlled any significant territory even within California, and never set up any formal government.
The main accomplishment of the California Republic was the commission of an atrocity and a war crime against General Mariano Guadalupe who peacefully surrendered to the Bear Flaggers by inviting them into his home and giving them food and drink, just to be rewarded by being incarcerated over a swamp at Sutter’s Fort. He contracted malaria as a result. Of his experiences he later wrote:
If the men who hoisted the ‘Bear Flag‘ had raised the flag that Washington sanctified by his abnegation and patriotism, there would have been no war on the Sonoma frontier, for all our minds were prepared to give a brotherly embrace to the sons of the Great Republic, whose enterprising spirit had filled us with admiration. Ill-advisedly, however, as some say, or dominated by a desire to rule without let or hindrance, as others say, they placed themselves under the shelter of a flag that pictured a bear, an animal that we took as the emblem of rapine and force. This mistake was the cause of all the trouble, for when the Californians saw parties of men running over their plains and forests under the ‘Bear Flag,’ they thought that they were dealing with robbers and took the steps they thought most effective for the protection of their lives and property.
Green Mountain Republic
Vermont existed in the context of a pre-revolutionary war dispute between New Hampshire and New York. It had a functioning government and had declared independence from Great Britain in 1777. However, before the Treaty of Paris was signed between the United States and Great Britain, military hero Ethan Allen — who had also represented Vermont in negotiations to join the Articles of Confederation — entered into negotiations with the British authorities of Quebec in hopes of bringing Vermont back into the British Empire as a separate state or province of Canada. When the negotiations with the British were publicly exposed, they were dropped.
The existence of the Green Mountain Republic was predicated upon resolving the conflicting claims of New Hampshire and New York over its territory and its desire to become part of the United States was never really at issue. Eventually Vermont was admitted as the 14th state in a compromise wherein Kentucky was admitted to the union to keep the balance between free and slave states.
Republic of Hawaii
The annexation of the Republic of Hawaii was as scurrilous as the annexation of Northern Mexico. United States troops supported the overthrow of the monarchy–which had a functioning legislature–and when this element was uncovered by the Blount Report, commissioned by Democratic President Grover Cleveland (who’d replaced Republican Benjamin Harrison who’d been up to his eyeballs in supporting the coup d’etat which overthrew the monarchy led by the descendants of American missionaries) the United States backed off on the annexation requested by the government of Sanford Ballard Dole.
In 1898, Republican President William McKinley signed a treaty of annexation negotiated with Hawaiian President Dole, but it failed to receive Senate ratification after 38,000 Hawaiians signed a petition against annexation in support of restoration of the constitutional monarchy the Americans had overthrown. Eventually the joint congressional “Newlands Resolution” unilaterally annexed Hawaii over the objections of the Hawaiian population.
With this history, Hawaii has the best claim of legitimacy to secede since there was never anything consensual about the annexation and its legitimacy was even rejected by a President and couldn’t pass muster in the Senate to annex by treaty.
Republic of West Florida
Wikipedia explains that:
The Republic of West Florida was a short-lived republic in the region of West Florida in 1810. The United States and Spain held long, inconclusive negotiations on the status of West Florida. In the meantime, American settlers established a foothold in the area and resisted Spanish control. British settlers, who had remained, also resented Spanish rule, leading to a rebellion in 1810 and the establishment for exactly ninety days of the independent Republic of West Florida.
On October 27, 1810 President James Madison simply issued a decree, without any congressional authority (other than to claim that the area was part of the Louisiana Purchase from France) purporting to annex the territory. Its President and legislature wanted to resist and to negotiate terms of annexation into the United States but eventually backed down.
Republic of Texas
The key economic reason for the revolt of Texas against Mexico was because Mexico had abolished slavery and was intent upon suppressing the United States Southern illegal immigrants to its territory that had brought their slaves with them and were intent on keeping them in bondage. After revolting against Mexico, Texas established a government which was recognized by France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Yucatan, which like Texas had revolted against Mexico. Markedly, neither Britain nor Mexico ever recognized the legitimacy of the Texas Republic.
The first treaty negotiated between Texas and the United States for annexation was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 16-35 (not even a majority let alone the required 2/3 vote for treaty ratification) on June 8, 1844. Similar to what would later happen with Hawaii, Texas had to be annexed by a Congressional joint resolution, which provided that if it later saw fit, Texas could be divided up into as many as four (4) separate states:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled, That Congress doth consent the territory properly included within, and rightfully belonging to the Republic of Texas, may be erected into a new State, to be called the State of Texas, with a republican form of government, to be adopted by the people of said republic, by deputies in convention assembled, with the consent of the existing government, in order that the same may be admitted as one of the States of this Union.
2. And be it further resolved, That the foregoing consent of Congress is given upon the following conditions, and with the following guarantees, to wit:
First, Said State to be formed, subject to the adjustment by this government of all questions of boundary that may arise with other governments; and the constitution therof, with the proper evidence of its adoption by the people of said Republic of Texas, shall be transmitted to the President of the United States, to be laid before Congress for its final action, on or before the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and forty-six.
Second, Said State, when admitted into the Union, after ceding to the United States, all public edifices, fortifications, barracks, ports and harbors, navy and navy-yards, docks, magazines, arms, armaments, and all other property and means pertaining to the public defence belonging to the said Republic of Texas, shall retain all the public funds, debts, taxes, and dues of every kind, which may belong to or be due and owning to said Republic of Texas; and shall also retain all the vacant and unappropriated lands lying within its limits, to be applied to the payment of the debts and liabilities of said Republic of Texas, and the residue of said lands, after discharging said debts and liabilities, to be disposed of as State may direct; but in no event are said debts and liabilities to become a charge upon the Government of the United States.
Third, New States, of convenient size, not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas, and having sufficient population, may hereafter, by the consent of the said State, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provisions of the federal constitution. And as such States as may be formed out of that portion of said territory lying south of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, commonly known as the Missouri compromise line, shall be admitted to the Union with or without slavery, as the people of each State asking permission may desire. And in such State or States as shall be formed north of said Missouri compromise line, slavery, or involuntary servitude, (except for crime) shall be prohibited.
3. And be it further resolved, That if the President of the United States shall in his judgement and discretion deem it most advisable, instead of proceeding to submit the foregoing resolution of the Republic of Texas, as an overture on the part of the United States for admission, to negotiate with the Republic; then,
Be it Resolved, That a State, to be formed out of the present Republic of Texas, with suitable extant and boundaries, and with two representatives in Congress, until the next appointment of representation, shall be admitted into the Union, by virtue of this act, on an equal footing with the existing States as soon as the terms and conditions of such admission, and the cession of the remaining Texian territory to the United States be agreed upon by the Governments of Texas and the United States: And that the sum of one hundred thousand dollars be, and the same is hereby, appropriated to defray the expenses of missions and negotiations, to agree upon the terms of said admission and cession, either by treaty to be submitted to the Senate, or by articles to be submitted to the two houses of Congress, as the President may direct.
Approved, March 1, 1845.
That Texas had the right to secede as a result of the joint resolution is simply nonsense and mythology.
Texas seceded from the United States on February 1, 1861 and joined the Confederacy on March 2, 1861. When then-Governor (and former President of the Republic of Texas) Sam Houston was evicted from office on March 16, he wrote in refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy and refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of secession:
Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas….I protest….against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.
Null and void is precisely what the United States Supreme Court would later rule, 5-2, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in Texas v White (April 12, 1869) 74 U.S. 700, 74 (1 Wall.) 700; 19 L. Ed. 227; 1868 U.S. LEXIS 1056:
The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and arbitrary relation. It began among the Colonies, and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. It was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war, and received definite form and character and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. By these, the Union was solemnly declared to ‘be perpetual.’ And when these Articles were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained ‘to form a more perfect Union.’ It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?
Consequently, Chase wrote that “Considered therefore as transactions under the Constitution, the ordinance of secession, adopted by the convention and ratified by a majority of the citizens of Texas, and all the acts of her legislature intended to give effect to that ordinance, were absolutely null.“
The bottom line is, while some of us would (tongue in cheek) be glad to see the so-called “red states” stop meddling in the politics of America, we would no more abandon women to the compulsory pregnancy laws that would likely result and the rain of terrible laws that would oppress, repress, and generally fuck over just about everybody who wasn’t an angry white male. Secession in that event would likely lead to another civil war.
Representative Laura Richardson would be out of luck if she didn’t have bad luck….and as they say, bad luck comes in threes.
First she comes under scrutiny over a foreclosure on her Sacramento home. She’d received a Washington Mutual loan in excess of $535,000 with no down payment: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/19/local/la-me-richardson-20101019
Next, she gets reapportioned into a district where she has to run against another Democratic member of the House, Janice Hahn.
Finally, she gets nailed by the House of Representatives on ethics charges and is personally fined $10,000 in the middle of her campaign to retain her seat against Janice Hahn: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/02/news/la-pn-house-disciplines-rep-laura-richardson-for-ethical-misconduct-20120802
So now it looks like one of her aides has the same kind of luck. 34 year old Arturo Danaire Frazier of Compton and former Compton City Council aide is rumored to be in the running for Compton City Council. Here are a couple of the skeletons in his closet that he’ll have to contend with. Vehicle Code violation definitions:
14601.1. (a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle when his or her driving privilege is suspended or revoked for any reason other than those listed in Section 14601, 14601.2, or 14601.5, if the person so driving has knowledge of the suspension or revocation. Knowledge shall be conclusively presumed if mailed notice has been given by the department to the person pursuant to Section 13106. The presumption established by this subdivision is a presumption affecting the burden of proof.
14601.5. (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person’s driving privilege is suspended or revoked pursuant to Section 13353, 13353.1, or 13353.2 and that person has knowledge of the suspension or revocation.
12500. (a) A person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, unless the person then holds a valid driver’s license issued under this code, except those persons who are expressly exempted under this code.
23109(c) A person shall not engage in a motor vehicle exhibition of speed on a highway, and a person shall not aid or abet in a motor vehicle exhibition of speed on any highway.
23152. (a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.
Last night was an outstanding night for me.
First, I’m breathing a big sigh of relief that Mitt Romney is not the President of the United States. I didn’t vote for President Obama; I voted for Roseanne Barr on the Peace & Freedom Party ticket for a lot of reasons, both positive for Roseanne and negative for Obama. That said, Mitt Romney has proven himself to be so incompetent that he’d probably get us into a war through sheer stupidity.
Payback is a Bitch
Second, Brad Sherman appears to have beaten the hell out of Howard Berman in the 30th Congressional District. Note that I really don’t like to use the “B” word as above, but it is an old saying with meaning that’s apropos to the situation. As of 2:00 a.m. these are the results so far in the 30th:
|HOWARD L BERMAN||DEM||28,753||40.05|
|% Precincts Reporting||27.39|
My family lived in Sicily (according to my DNA) from the year 70 until they were expelled by the Spanish Inquisition (Sicily was then part of Spain) in 1492. The Sicilian proverb about revenge is of course, “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” as found in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. My maternal grandmother was from Gorodieshe in the Ukraine, where the proverb is, “Revenge gives you a warm feeling inside.” So I was happy to have a part in dishing it up cold to Howard Berman and it gave me a warm feeling inside.
As I wrote in this blog on October 18:
It’s no secret that the policy wonk for years behind Democratic Party gerrymandering schemes in California has been Howard Berman’s brother Michael and at this point, let me make the same conflict of interest disclosure publicly that I made for the Same Page/Misma Pagina interview committee. In 1978 my candidate (Peace & Freedom Party) for State Assembly in the Northeast San Fernando Valley got 4% of the vote and the Democrat lost by 2%. In 1980, I ran against ranking California Congressman James Corman who that year alone had voted for the MX Missile, the Neutron Bomb, and Draft Registration (all of which his Republican opponent opposed, as did I). Additionally, the only candidate in the race supporting the NAACP-ACLU “Together for Integrated Education” program was me. I polled almost three times as many votes as Corman needed to win, and the Berman brothers were majorly pissed because it completely upset the apple cart for their reapportionment (read gerrymandering) plan for the State of California. As far as I know, this was the only time in California history that a third party had achieved “balance of power” status in two back to back elections in the same geographical area with the ability to knock off incumbents.
Michael Berman came up with plan A and plan B for reapportionment. Normally, political parties get thrown off the ballot in America for not getting enough votes. In authoritarian countries, like the old Soviet Union, Burma, and Nazi Germany, parties get thrown off the ballot because they actually have support. Michael Berman’s plan A was throw the Peace & Freedom Party off the ballot with what Democratic Party hacks publicly called “the Jan Tucker bill” so that they could cut district lines with 1,500 vote Democratic Party margins, or else they had to use plan B in which they failed to kick PFP off the ballot and instead had to cut districts with 3,000 vote Democratic Party margins.
Howard Berman and his “gang of four” in the Assembly shoved the bill through that house with threats and coercion. There were several hold out Democrats defying the “caucus vote,” including Larry Kapiloff, Ken Meade, Sam Farr, Tom Hannigan, Mike Roos and even former Assembly Speaker Leo McCarthy. When you vote against an official “caucus” position, you can be stripped of all of your committee assignments, so it’s not something one does lightly and then only out of absolute conscience. Berman was one vote short for the bill, so he went over to Tom Hannigan and threatened him with loss of his committee assignments and twisted his arm into becoming the 41st vote for the bill.
There are many reasons and many states where we depend on the Voting Rights Act, like the San Fernando Valley where it’s supposed to protect us from the Berman Brothers.
We killed the bill in the State Senate where it never came up for a vote. We pointed out that in the entire 20th Century up till that point, no African American, Asian American, Mexican American, or Native American had wound up on the general election ballot in the four (4) California counties that have prior Voting Rights Act convictions–unless they were running on the Peace & Freedom Party ticket. If the bill passed and we won a Voting Rights Act conviction, that fifth conviction would have put California under the “pre-approval” process like the old thirteen (13) former Confederate States.
If I ever felt any guilt for knocking off Jim Corman in 1980 it was only because I opened up his seat for Howard Berman. Now by helping to take him out of Congress (I’ve been getting furious emails and calls from his campaign and supporters since Saturday when an endorsement letter under my signature went out to many of the district voters in support of Brad Sherman) this little bit of history has come full circle.
Seeing Old Friends & Comrades
Next, I was delighted to see several members of of San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles NOW at Brad Sherman’s victory party, including Dan McCrory, Patricia Nazario, and Heather Martin. Also ran into Sherman aides Aubrey Farkas, John Alford and Scott Abrams.
But completely unexpected and long overdue was running into former Assembly Member (and hopefully soon to be Los Angeles City Council Member) Cindy Montanez.
In the 2002-3 legislative term, I drafted and Cindy introduced AB 1617 in an attempt to put teeth into the laws against workplace harassment and discrimination by amending the Fair Employment & Housing Act. Although business groups kept it from passing, its principles went on to be adopted nationally by civil rights organizations as a model. It’s one of my proudest achievements.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered!
Finally, I rounded out the night at the California Legislative Black Caucus victory party in Culver City which had been thrown by Isadore Hall, re-elected tonight in the 64th Assembly District with 100% of the vote. Isadore is a great friend, an effective representative of his community (based in Compton), and a proven leader. But the evening missed out being absolutely perfect.
Just as I sit down and change my Blackberry battery, who sits down at the table right next to mine? Stevie Wonder! Here I’m in the middle of re-booting the phone so I can’t get a photo of him! Damn! But his performance of Signed, Sealed, Delivered: I’m Yours made up for it. Isadore had called Stevie’s people and told them to get his a…over to the Culver City Studios for the official Obama Victory Party and sure enough, Stevie was signed, sealed and delivered to the studio to highlight the night’s entertainment.
At the end I was reminded of election night 2008 which I also spent at Isadore’s first election victory party for the State Assembly and Barack Obama’s election as our first black president. Compton was the place to be that night as Virginia and North Carolina in the old South went for Obama, and then to see the crowd’s ecstasy when he was declared elected. Like 2008, this crowd was jubilant as Obama’s re-election was Signed, Sealed and Delivered.