The Gorsuch Comments; Checkers or Chess?

Neil Gorsuch made comments to Senator Blumenthal that were critical of Donald Trump.

For a Supreme Court nominee to do such a thing before his nomination hearing much less the Senate vote raises questions. Is Gorsuch playing checkers, whereby we can assume he just made a comment he shouldn’t have made or is he playing chess, whereby he made a comment that will give the impression that he is not under Trump’s thumb and lure Democrats into voting for him so that he gets the 60 votes to put him on the court? Read more about it below, but for me, it’s the opening gambit of a very smart man. Pawn to G5.

U.S. Supreme Court nomineeNeil Gorsuch told a Democratic senator he foundDonald Trump’s comments “disheartening” and “demoralizing” when the president criticized the judiciary over a federal court order that blocked his immigration ban.

SenatorRichard Blumenthal of Connecticut told reporters about Gorsuch’s comments after meeting privately Wednesday with Trump’s first U.S. high court nominee.Ron Bonjean, a spokesman aiding Gorsuch in the confirmation process, confirmed Blumenthal’s account of their conversation in an e-mail and said Gorsuch “used the words disheartening and demoralizing.”

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“He certainly expressed to me that he is disheartened by demoralizing, abhorrent comments made by President Trump about the judiciary,” Blumenthal said outside his Senate office. “But I will be asking for more specific and forthcoming comments to those kinds of questions before I determine how I will vote.”

Trump on Feb. 4 criticized a federal judge who blocked his travel ban as a “so-called judge.” On Wednesday, the president argued that his power to limit immigration shouldn’t be challenged in courts.

“The courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would be able to read a statement and do what’s right, and that has got to do with the security of our country, which is so important,” Trump told a conference of police chiefs and sheriffs in Washington.

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Gorsuch’s strong criticism of Trump could help convince skeptical Democrats, angry over the president’s reaction to the travel-ban ruling, to give Gorsuch more serious consideration. The exchange between Gorsuch and Blumenthal, who serves on the Judiciary panel that will hold the judge’s confirmation hearing, comes after demands from Senate Democrats that Gorsuch demonstrate his willingness to be an independent jurist and a check on potential abuses of power from the executive branch.

Blumenthal had told reporters Tuesday that he planned to call on Gorsuch to repudiate Trump’s statements about the judiciary.

The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary of Scotland had been Queen of France for a year. She also had a valid claim tp the English Crown, now worn by her cousin Elizabeth I. She was accused of treason and beheaded by Elizabeth,  who then left the English crown to Mary’s son James, who was James VI of Scotland, but James I of England.  He was King James of Bible fame. It is a great story.  

A Death:

Shrewsbury: ” … Madam you must die, you must die!…”

The executioner held up the severed head of the Queen of Scots for all to see — but horror as the hair separated from the head, and the head dropped to the floor. There was a stunned silence from the spectators — the Queen, once considered the most beautiful woman of her time, had lost her hair and vanity dictated the wearing of a wig.

The Dean of Peterborough stood over the corpse of the dead Queen and uttered the words all longed to hear: “So perish all the Queen’s enemies”.

The body of the dead Queen was stripped, in readiness to be received by the embalmers — but the dead Queen’s corpse held yet another surprise. Concealed within her skirts was a small terrier, which positioned itself betwixt the severed head and the body, and nothing could move it. It alone remained loyal to the Queen.

But the indignity of the execution of the Queen of Scots was not over. The execution block, her clothing and any other object which could be considered a relic was burned at Fotheringhay, which was in lock down.

It was not until approximately four in the afternoon that the Queen of Scots’ body was prepared for burial — but not the burial one would associate with a monarch. No — the Queen’s lead coffin was walled up within the precincts of Fotheringhay Castle. It was not until her son succeeded as James I of England, that the Queen was accorded a suitable and more Christian burial at Westminster Abbey.

A Life:

Mary was born 8 December 1542 at Linlithgow, Scotland, the daughter of James V of Scotland (d. 1542) and Mary of Guise (d. 1560). From the day of her birth, Mary was betrothed to the future Edward VI of England — the vetoing of this marriage led to war with England.

In the ensuing conflict, the Scots were defeated at Pinkie (10 September 1547) by forces of the Duke of Somerset. A French alliance was decided upon. Mary was sent to the French court aged 5 (1548), where she received a Catholic upbringing under her Guise uncles. Mary married the Dauphin Francis at Paris, France (24 April 1558). Her husband succeeded to the French throne as King Francis II (1559).

Mary became Queen of France but shortly after, Francis died (1560/1561). Mary was returned to Scotland (1561), and upon her arrival promptly proclaimed herself rightful Queen of England as the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret Tudor.

However, during her absence, things had changed in Scotland, and Mary had to adapt to the anti-monarchical, anti-Catholic, anti-French elements that now dominated Scotland. Then Mary embarked upon an ill-considered marriage to her cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (29 July 1565) at Edinburgh, Scotland. Mary soon gave birth to a son, James VI (of Scotland) & I (of England) (1566).

The following year Mary was caught up in the scandal surrounding the murders of her Secretary David Riccio and her husband, Darnley (1567). From then on, Mary made mistake upon mistake. Soon after both deaths, Mary made a scandalous third marriage to James Hepburn, 4th Earl Bothwell (1567), who just happened to have been recently acquitted of Darnley’s murder. Mary claimed that this marriage was made under duress — but none were convinced. There was an immediate uprising of Scottish lords which resulted in military defeat for Mary at Carberry Hill and Langside (1568).

Mary fled Scotland for England and threw herself on the mercy of Elizabeth I, who kept her imprisoned in various strongholds. Following numerous intrigues to rescue her and place her on the throne of England, Mary was placed on trial (Oct. 1586). She was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death (25 October 1586).

After delaying for as long as possible, Elizabeth reluctantly signed Mary’s death warrant (1 February 1587) and Mary was executed at Fotheringhay (8 February 1587).

A Question of Legality:

Was the execution of a monarch of one country by a monarch of another lawful?

Mary was initially brought to trial under the English Act of Association (1585) — which in the eyes of the English made Mary just as guilty as those who conspired against the Queen of England, either with or without her knowledge. Guilt by association — a phrase I am sure we have all heard of.

Mary herself said: ” … as Queen and Sovereign, I am aware of no fault or offence for which I have to render account to anyone …”

In fact, just how was it legal for a Queen of a foreign country to be tried for treason by a Queen whose subject she was not; in fact, how could one then execute this foreign sovereign?

The sovereignty of any monarch, at this period in time, was taken with all solemnity. Elizabeth I herself was fully aware of the implications — if Mary could be treated and punished like an ordinary subject, then what could Elizabeth herself expect should she venture beyond the English Channel? In fact, Mary could only be judged by her peers — and to this end, only Elizabeth filled this position — not the privy councilors or nobility.

The English jurists pondered over this question — if Mary committed treason, she should have been expelled from English soil. But in the end, the legal minds of England came up with a suitable solution. King Henry VIII claimed suzerainty over Scotland; thus, Mary was a subject of the English Queen and could be tried (and executed) for treason under English law.

As author Antonia Fraser wrote: “In the case of the trial of Mary Queen of Scots the traditional blindfold across the eyes of Justice was ruthlessly torn aside by English commissioners so that the desired verdict might be reached.”

The Day Buddy Holly Died

The Day the Music Died

Michael Ochs Archives / Corbis

Buddy Holly and the Crickets perform on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 26, 1958 in New York City, New York.

When Elvis Presley died, 25,000 people gathered outside Graceland in the sweltering Memphis heat. John Lennon’s murder drew millions of people to Central Park for a silent vigil. But when Buddy Holly’s plane went down in an Iowa cornfield at a little past 1 a.m. on Feb. 3, 1959, there was nobody waiting for him among those swirling snowdrifts. The Lubbock, Texas singer never had a vigil. His home did not become a pilgrimage site and his family never held a memorial service for his fans. Yet with each passing decade, the myth of Buddy Holly has grown by substantial degrees. (See rare photos of Buddy Holly.)

If you go by the numbers, Buddy Holly’s career — which lasted a year and a half with only one number one single — hardly seems the stuff of legend. He only accepted top billing on the 24-day, 24-town “Winter Dance Party” tour alongside the Big Bopper (of “Chantilly Lace” fame) and Richie Valens (“La Bamba”) as a way to dig himself out of bankruptcy. And yet his influence on early rock ‘n’ roll is almost unmatched. Holly was barely out of high school when he opened for Elvis Presley in 1955. He popularized the two guitar, one bass, one drum lineup that so many acts (the Beatles, the Kinks, Talking Heads, Weezer) would later adopt. When a self-conscious Roy Orbison saw Holly’s black rimmed glasses and slim jim ties, he decided not to let his homely, face-for-radio looks hinder his singing career. (For a while, John Lennon even adopted the style). Holly wrote his own material and used his signature pitch-changing hiccup to move seamlessly between country, R&B and rockabilly. When he died, he was only 22.

On February 2, 1959, Holly and his tourmates were on the eleventh night of their Winter Dance Party tour through the snow-covered Midwest. It was a Monday — a school night — but 1,100 teenagers crammed into Clear Lake, Iowa’s Surf Ballroom for two sold out shows. They wore blue jeans and saddle shoes and screamed for 17-year-old Richie Valens, whose single “Donna” was about to go gold. Between sets, Holly solicited people to join him on the charter airplane he’d hired to fly to the next show in Moorhead, Minnesota. The musicians had been traveling by bus for over a week and it had already broken down once. They were tired, they hadn’t been paid yet and all of their clothes were dirty. With the airplane, Holly could arrive early, do everyone’s laundry and catch up on some rest.

A 21-year-old pilot named Roger Peterson had agreed to take the singer to Fargo, North Dakota — the closest airport to Moorehead. A snowstorm was on its way and the young pilot was fatigued from a 17-hour workday, but he agreed to fly the rock star to his next gig because, hey, he would be flying Buddy Holly. The second show ended at midnight. The musicians packed up their instruments and finalized the flight arrangements. Holly’s bass player, Waylon Jennings, was scheduled to fly on the plane but gave his seat to the Big Bopper, who was suffering from a cold. Holly’s guitarist Tommy Allsup agreed to flip a coin with Richie Valens for the remaining seat. Valens won. The three musicians boarded the red and white single-engine Beech Bonanza around 12:30 on Feb. 3. Fans flocked to the tarmac, waving and crying and asking for autographs. The musicians waved back and then climbed onto the plane. Snow blew across the runway but the sky was clear. Peterson received clearance from the control tower, taxied down the runway and took off. He was never told of two weather advisories that warned of an oncoming blizzard.

The plane stayed in the sky for only a few minutes; no one is quite sure what went wrong. The best guess is that Peterson flew directly into the blizzard, lost visual reference and accidentally flew down instead of up. The four-passenger plane plowed into a nearby cornfield at over 170 mph, flipping over on itself and tossing the passengers into the air. Their bodies landed yards away from the wreckage and stayed there for ten hours as snowdrifts formed around them. Because of the weather, nobody could reach the crash site until the morning.

In Texas, a neighbor told Holly’s mother to turn on the radio. When the news report came out, she screamed and collapsed. In Greenwich Village, Buddy Holly’s pregnant wife heard the news on television and suffered a miscarriage the following day, reportedly due to “psychological trauma.” In the months following the crash, authorities would adopt a policy against releasing victims’ names until after the families had been notified.

The Winter Dance Party tour continued, with Waylon Jennings singing Holly’s songs and other teen sensations, including 18-year-old Frankie Avalon, flown out to finish the tour. Holly’s body was shipped back home to Lubbock, Texas. His Baptist family never approved of his music and none of his songs were played at his funeral.

Then a strange thing happened. Holly’s last single, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” had endured sluggish sales. The music industry had not yet discovered the commercial allure of untimely deaths, and record executives were shocked to see the song shoot up to number 13 on the charts.

Months went by, yet Holly’s albums continued to sell. Decca rushed out a greatest hits album, which would float on and off the Billboard charts for another seven years. Britain devoured Holly records faster than the record company could produce them. Demo tapes, B-sides, previously unreleased recording sessions — they all shot up the British charts and turned Holly into one of the forefathers of the British Invasion that would strike America five years later. Both John Lennon and George Harrison learned to play guitar in part by listening to Buddy Holly records. The first Rolling Stones’ single released in the U.S. was cover of Holly’s “Not Fade Away.” (See a video of Buddy Holly singing “Peggy Sue.”)

The first song memorializing the musicians — Eddie Cochran’s “Three Stars” — was recorded just one day after their deaths. But Don McLean’s 1971 single “American Pie” turned the plane crash into a metaphor for the moment when the United States lost its last shred of innocence. McLean envisioned that last Buddy Holly concert in Clear Lakes, Iowa: teenagers in pink carnations and pick-up trucks, dancing and falling in love and dancing some more. The snow fell silently outside as the country teetered on the brink of the 1960s; no one in the ballroom had any idea what would happen next.

Mexico’s Disastrous Treaty With The US

Below is a discussion of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed today in 1848. Mexico ceded 500,000 square miles of territory, including California. That then was a dry, underpopulated region, however, the article fails to mention that gold was discovered near Sacramento in 1849. The rest, they say, is history.

War’s End

The Treaty of Guadalupe HidalgoTreaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

by Richard Griswold del Castillo

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the U.S.-Mexican War. Signed on 2 February 1848, it is the oldest treaty still in force between the United States and Mexico. As a result of the treaty, the United States acquired more than 500,000 square miles of valuable territory and emerged as a world power in the late nineteenth century.

Beyond territorial gains and losses, the treaty has been important in shaping the international and domestic histories of both Mexico and the United States. During the U.S.-Mexican War, U.S. leaders assumed an attitude of moral superiority in their negotiations of the treaty. They viewed the forcible incorporation of almost one-half of Mexico’s national territory as an event foreordained by providence, fulfilling Manifest Destiny to spread the benefits of U.S. democracy to the lesser peoples of the continent. Because of its military victory the United States virtually dictated the terms of settlement. The treaty established a pattern of political and military inequality between the two countries, and this lopsided relationship has stalked Mexican-U.S. relations ever since.

The treaty in draft form was brought to Mexico by Nicholas P. Trist, the U.S. peace commissioner, in the summer of 1847. In its basic form it called for the cession of Alta and Baja California and New Mexico, the right of transit across the Tehuantepec isthmus, and the Rio Grande as the southern border of Texas. In exchange the United States would pay up to $20 million to Mexico and assume up to $3 million in U.S. citizens’ claims against Mexico. In subsequent negotiations the demand for Baja California and the right of transit were dropped.

After the military campaign, which had resulted in U.S. occupation of most of Mexico’s major cities, the Mexican government agreed to meet with Trist to discuss peace terms. Just before negotiations were to begin, however, Trist received instructions from President James K. Polk ordering him to return to Washington, D.C. Trist, however, decided to stay on and meet with the Mexican representatives, even though he lacked official status.

Negotiations began in earnest in January 1848. The Mexican government, headed by the ad interim Mexican president Manuel de la Pena y Pena, quickly agreed to the boundary issues: Texas’s southern boundary would be the Rio Grande, the cession of Alta California would include the port of San Diego, and Mexico would give up its territory between Texas and California, with a boundary to be surveyed. Mexican peace commissioners Luis G. Cuevas, Bernardo Couto, and Miguel Atristain spent a good deal of time on various drafts of Articles VIII and IX, which dealt with the issues of property rights and U.S. citizenship for Mexican citizens in the newly ceded regions. The Mexican commissioners succeeded in amplifying the texts of the two articles. They also introduced Article XI, which gave the United States responsibility for controlling hostile Indian incursions originating on the U.S. side of the border. (Article XI proved to be a source of irritation between the two nations and was subsequently negated by the Gadsden Treaty of 1854.)

On his own initiative, Trist offered an indemnity of $15 million, judging that this would gain acceptance for the treaty among those who felt that the United States had already paid enough in “blood and treasure.”

Trist asking Mexico for peaceAfter reaching agreement on all these issues, Trist drew up an English-language draft of the treaty and Cuevas translated it into Spanish, preserving the idiom and thought rather than the literal meaning. Finally, on 2 February 1 1848, the Mexican representatives met Trist in the Villa of Guadalupe Hidalgo, across from the shrine of the patron saint of Mexico. They signed the treaty and then celebrated a mass together at the basilica.

Signing the treaty was only the beginning of the process; it still had to be ratified by the congresses of both the United States and Mexico. No one could foresee how the Polk administration would receive a treaty negotiated by an unofficial agent; nor could they know the twists and turns of the Mexican political scene for the next few months. In both the U.S. and Mexican governments there was opposition to the treaty. In the United States, the northern abolitionists opposed the annexation of Mexican territory. In the Mexican congress, a sizable minority was in favor of continuing the fight. Nevertheless both countries ratified the document. The signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo marked the end of a war and the beginning of a lengthy U.S. political debate over slavery in the acquired territories, as well as continued conflict with Mexico over boundaries.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo looms larger in the history of Mexico than in that of the United States. Partly because of the loss of valuable territory, the treaty ensured that Mexico would remain an underdeveloped country well into the twentieth century. Mexican historians and politicians view this treaty as a bitter lesson in U.S. aggression. As a result of the humiliation of the war and the loss of more than half of the national territory, young Mexicans embraced a reform movement, headed by Benito Juarez, governor of Oaxaca, who had opposed the treaty. In the 1850s the reformers came to power in Mexico vowing to strengthen the country’s political system so that never again would they be victims of U.S. aggression. Benito Juarez’s La Reforma was the start of a political and economic modernization process that continues to this day in Mexico.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo has had implications not only for relations between the two countries but also for international law. Interpretations of the provisions of the treaty have been important in disputes over international boundaries, water and mineral rights, and the civil and property rights of the descendants of the Mexicans in the ceded territories. Since 1848 there have been hundreds of court cases citing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo as a basis for land claims, but few Mexican claimants were successful in retaining their land.

Since 1848 Native Americans and Mexican Americans have struggled to achieve political and social equality within the United States, often citing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo as a document that promised civil and property rights. Although the treaty promised U.S. citizenship to former Mexican citizens, the Native Americans in the ceded territories, who in fact were Mexican citizens, were not given full U.S. citizenship until the 1930s. Former Mexican citizens were almost universally considered foreigners by the U.S. settlers who moved into the new territories. In the first half century after ratification of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, hundreds of state, territorial, and federal legal bodies produced a complex tapestry of conflicting opinions and decisions bearing on the meaning of the treaty. The property rights seemingly guaranteed in Articles VIII and IX of the treaty (and in the Protocol of Queretaro) were not all they seemed. In. U.S. courts, the property rights of former Mexican citizens in California, New Mexico, and Texas proved to be fragile. Within a generation the Mexican-Americans became a disenfranchised, poverty-stricken minority.