Thursday, December 26, 2019

Tribute To My Musical Mom

Mom loved Christmas and was mastering the art of decorating at home, but it was her musical gift which made Christmas to an unforgettable yearly event for the whole family. Our living room was 33ft long and 12 ft wide and mom had a black Grand Piano in the middle. Throughout the year, my parents had monthly gatherings with another couple for house concerts. Mom would be playing the piano and sing, the other lady the flute and her husband the violin. My dad made for the appreciative listener. We kids were sent to bed, but could hear the music from the downstairs.

During the eighties mom got involved with a group of likewise local musicians performing church concerts. One gentleman knew how to produce music cassettes and he had the equipment for it. I still have a couple of cassettes with those concerts. One of them is a Christmas concert held in our local church in that little North-German village. 
And now I am listening to the angelic voice of my mother singing the beloved German Christmas songs, some of which we also know of in Canada. This concert was held 32 years ago, and it fills me with peace but also a searing pain that, 7 years ago, I have lost the most precious mom I could ever ask for.
Mom was the oldest of 3 sisters and born in 1927. She was not the only one with music flowing in her veins. Her youngest sister was just as musical as mom. She is still holding house concerts and she both sang and played the flute in those church concerts of the eighties. Where did this gift of music come from? We don't know. Her parents never played an instrument and they certainly never sang. Grandpa was a social democrat, and had a career as an engineer in the German military. He hated the Nazi government. His wife, my grandma, was a wonderful home maker. The two sister's music was a gift of God, coming out of nothing.

Despite of a happy family life at home, mom's youth was marred by the happenings of WWII. She was the only girl in a class at high school. As the war went into its last stages, Hitler recruited boys down to the age of 14. And as it happened, there were mornings at school when one or the other student was missing. They had been drafted into the war. "Feed for the canons", people said. Mom's drafted school comrades never returned to school and the number of students in class was shrinking. And some times, the teacher would sit at her desk and cry when the dreaded message came that another student had fallen. Mom told me this once in a while, and a shadow would fall upon her. We also had family near the city of Cologne and as mom was visiting there, one night Cologne was bombed. From her distance she saw the sky turn red. Like so many other people, she had to carry those memories with her for the rest of her life.

Mom's funeral was held in the church where she sang Christmas and Easter Carols in the eighties. We are still missing her.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Dreams And Plans

Hi there! Are you where you want to be right now? Or are you having dreams about going somewhere else?

I am asking cause I have had those recurring moments of dreaming about making a change again. I know some people are already starting to shake their heads. Is this guy never content and happy about where he is? Hm...mostly I am quite happy about the where-abouts. But then....there is winter. Winter comes with cold, snow and ice build-ups. After some time you can feel it - you are cooped up in the house. You think of the next outing as a freakin' freezing experience you really don't want. Now, there are also fine days during winter. Sky is blue, sun is shining and all is peachy. Hm...until the wind picks up and takes your caps off of your bald head. Or you walk over to your car and step on an icy patch. Bam....there you are on your back, hurting like crazy. Happened to me just a few days ago. Coulda been ending in a hospital that stunt. Was on the ground moaning until Dixie came running wondering...and licking my face. Well, I finally got myself into the upright again. But the day was spent on the couch - cooped up again.

And now the dreams are popping up again. Palm Trees - Sunshine - lounging outside with your legs up, yup that's what has hit me. And the winter is just starting out tomorrow! 
We have been pounded by a relentless storm aimed directly towards our house. And if you check out my last posting with the update you'll see what the storm does around here.

Anyway, the unpleasant outdoors can make a guy dream of going south again. And some times dreams have consequences. My dream materialized into the purchase of an RV again. With the help of the internet I found the very same trailer model again which we owned in 2013. It's just 2 years younger but in like-new condition. We will have to wait to pick it up until the worst of this winter is over. Come November 2020, I can see us packing up for the next 5 months. The destination is the Holtville Hot Springs LTVA in California. Yup, it's a long journey but it's the best place to stay for the winter. Here are a couple of re-cap pics. I am so glad I started blogging so I can relive those days when ever I want.
This was our start in 2013

Vistas of the West

Overnight Parking in Nevada
All set up at the Holtville Hot Springs LTVA

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Hey we went out and watched the storm waves.

One of the daily questions I am getting from our summer visitors is "How are the winters here?" The answer, my friend might be blowing in the wind, and that I mean quite literally. For wind is something you gotta live with out here on the island. You may love it or hate it, it'll still blow like crazy here.
We went from - 7C to +12 the other day and with it came strong, strong winds from the south. And when it storms like that, one thing happens for sure: It produces storm waves crashing onto our shores. And so happened today. And with the sun peeking through once and again, great views could be enjoyed. Other people were there as well, taking pictures or just standing around admiring this grand natural show. Bea snapped off a line of pictures I am showing below. Afterwards we took a walk around the campground where Dixie always has a great time exploring all the good spots and odours. It was a great afternoon for all of us!
                                       Below: Are you coming Dad?
                   So glad you took me down here....

                      Look at it...the power of the sea
                            The Man and the sea...

Thanks for coming along!

Update December 16:
Last night we had another storm and our next door neighbour lost one his trees. It fell into the power lines, which caused a short power blink last night but the power stayed on. That is until this very moment when the power company came to clean up. They shut off the power for working on that tree. Here is the picture I took this morning.

Friday, December 13, 2019

READ THIS With An Open Mind!

The article below appeared in the ATLANTIC a while ago. Some facts have not been updated to today's state. The scenario is scarily alike the one nHitler came to power under.

The Alarming Scope of the President's Emergency Powers

From seizing control of the internet to declaring martial law, President Trump may legally do all kinds of extraordinary things.

Story by Elizabeth Goitein

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, President Donald Trump reached deep into his arsenal to try to deliver votes to Republicans.

Most of his weapons were rhetorical, featuring a mix of lies and false inducements—claims that every congressional Democrat had signed on to an “open borders” bill (none had), that liberals were fomenting violent “mobs” (they weren’t), that a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class would somehow pass while Congress was out of session (it didn’t). But a few involved the aggressive use—and threatened misuse—of presidential authority: He sent thousands of active-duty soldiers to the southern border to terrorize a distant caravan of desperate Central American migrants, announced plans to end the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship by executive order, and tweeted that law enforcement had been “strongly notified” to be on the lookout for “ILLEGAL VOTING.”

These measures failed to carry the day, and Trump will likely conclude that they were too timid. How much further might he go in 2020, when his own name is on the ballot—or sooner than that, if he’s facing impeachment by a House under Democratic control?

More is at stake here than the outcome of one or even two elections. Trump has long signaled his disdain for the concepts of limited presidential power and democratic rule. During his 2016 campaign, he praised murderous dictators. He declared that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, would be in jail if he were president, goading crowds into frenzied chants of “Lock her up.” He hinted that he might not accept an electoral loss. As democracies around the world slide into autocracy, and nationalism and antidemocratic sentiment are on vivid display among segments of the American populace, Trump’s evident hostility to key elements of liberal democracy cannot be dismissed as mere bluster.The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—he is able to set aside many of the legal limits on his authority.

It would be nice to think that America is protected from the worst excesses of Trump’s impulses by its democratic laws and institutions. After all, Trump can do only so much without bumping up against the limits set by the Constitution and Congress and enforced by the courts. Those who see Trump as a threat to democracy comfort themselves with the belief that these limits will hold him in check.

But will they? Unknown to most Americans, a parallel legal regime allows the president to sidestep many of the constraints that normally apply. The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—more than 100 special provisions become available to him. While many of these tee up reasonable responses to genuine emergencies, some appear dangerously suited to a leader bent on amassing or retaining power. For instance, the president can, with the flick of his pen, activate laws allowing him to shut down many kinds of electronic communications inside the United States or freeze Americans’ bank accounts. Other powers are available even without a declaration of emergency, including laws that allow the president to deploy troops inside the country to subdue domestic unrest.

This edifice of extraordinary powers has historically rested on the assumption that the president will act in the country’s best interest when using them. With a handful of noteworthy exceptions, this assumption has held up. But what if a president, backed into a corner and facing electoral defeat or impeachment, were to declare an emergency for the sake of holding on to power? In that scenario, our laws and institutions might not save us from a presidential power grab. They might be what takes us down.
The premise underlying emergency powers is simple: The government’s ordinary powers might be insufficient in a crisis, and amending the law to provide greater ones might be too slow and cumbersome. Emergency powers are meant to give the government a temporary boost until the emergency passes or there is time to change the law through normal legislative processes.

Unlike the modern constitutions of many other countries, which specify when and how a state of emergency may be declared and which rights may be suspended, the U.S. Constitution itself includes no comprehensive separate regime for emergencies. Those few powers it does contain for dealing with certain urgent threats, it assigns to Congress, not the president. For instance, it lets Congress suspend the writ of habeas corpus—that is, allow government officials to imprison people without judicial review—“when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it” and “provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”

Nonetheless, some legal scholars believe that the Constitution gives the president inherent emergency powers by making him commander in chief of the armed forces, or by vesting in him a broad, undefined “executive Power.” At key points in American history, presidents have cited inherent constitutional powers when taking drastic actions that were not authorized—or, in some cases, were explicitly prohibited—by Congress. Notorious examples include Franklin D. Roosevelt’s internment of U.S. citizens and residents of Japanese descent during World War II and George W. Bush’s programs of warrantless wiretapping and torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Abraham Lincoln conceded that his unilateral suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War was constitutionally questionable, but defended it as necessary to preserve the Union.

The Supreme Court has often upheld such actions or found ways to avoid reviewing them, at least while the crisis was in progress. Rulings such as Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company v. Sawyer, in which the Court invalidated President Harry Truman’s bid to take over steel mills during the Korean War, have been the exception. And while those exceptions have outlined important limiting principles, the outer boundary of the president’s constitutional authority during emergencies remains poorly defined.

Presidents can also rely on a cornucopia of powers provided by Congress, which has historically been the principal source of emergency authority for the executive branch. Throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries, Congress passed laws to give the president additional leeway during military, economic, and labor crises. A more formalized approach evolved in the early 20th century, when Congress legislated powers that would lie dormant until the president activated them by declaring a national emergency. These statutory authorities began to pile up—and because presidents had little incentive to terminate states of emergency once declared, these piled up too. By the 1970s, hundreds of statutory emergency powers, and four clearly obsolete states of emergency, were in effect. For instance, the national emergency that Truman declared in 1950, during the Korean War, remained in place and was being used to help prosecute the war in Vietnam.

Aiming to rein in this proliferation, Congress passed the National Emergencies Act in 1976. Under this law, the president still has complete discretion to issue an emergency declaration—but he must specify in the declaration which powers he intends to use, issue public updates if he decides to invoke additional powers, and report to Congress on the government’s emergency-related expenditures every six months. The state of emergency expires after a year unless the president renews it, and the Senate and the House must meet every six months while the emergency is in effect “to consider a vote” on termination.

By any objective measure, the law has failed. Thirty states of emergency are in effect today—several times more than when the act was passed. Most have been renewed for years on end. And during the 40 years the law has been in place, Congress has not met even once, let alone every six months, to vote on whether to end them.

As a result, the president has access to emergency powers contained in 123 statutory provisions, as recently calculated by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, where I work. These laws address a broad range of matters, from military composition to agricultural exports to public contracts. For the most part, the president is free to use any of them; the National Emergencies Act doesn’t require that the powers invoked relate to the nature of the emergency. Even if the crisis at hand is, say, a nationwide crop blight, the president may activate the law that allows the secretary of transportation to requisition any privately owned vessel at sea. Many other laws permit the executive branch to take extraordinary action under specified conditions, such as war and domestic upheaval, regardless of whether a national emergency has been declared.Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

This legal regime for emergencies—ambiguous constitutional limits combined with a rich well of statutory emergency powers—would seem to provide the ingredients for a dangerous encroachment on American civil liberties. Yet so far, even though presidents have often advanced dubious claims of constitutional authority, egregious abuses on the scale of the Japanese American internment or the post-9/11 torture program have been rare, and most of the statutory powers available during a national emergency have never been used.

But what’s to guarantee that this president, or a future one, will show the reticence of his predecessors? To borrow from Justice Robert Jackson’s dissent in Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 Supreme Court decision that upheld the internment of Japanese Americans, each emergency power “lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.”
Like all emergency powers, the laws governing the conduct of war allow the president to engage in conduct that would be illegal during ordinary times. This conduct includes familiar incidents of war, such as the killing or indefinite detention of enemy soldiers. But the president can also take a host of other actions, both abroad and inside the United States.

These laws vary dramatically in content and scope. Several of them authorize the president to make decisions about the size and composition of the armed forces that are usually left to Congress. Although such measures can offer needed flexibility at crucial moments, they are subject to misuse. For instance, George W. Bush leveraged the state of emergency after 9/11 to call hundreds of thousands of reservists and members of the National Guard into active duty in Iraq, for a war that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Other powers are chilling under any circumstances: Take a moment to consider that during a declared war or national emergency, the president can unilaterally suspend the law that bars government testing of biological and chemical agents on unwitting human subjects.The president could seize control of U.S. internet traffic, impeding access to certain websites and ensuring that internet searches return pro-Trump content as the top results.

One power poses a singular threat to democracy in the digital era. In 1942, Congress amended Section 706 of the Communications Act of 1934 to allow the president to shut down or take control of “any facility or station for wire communication” upon his proclamation “that there exists a state or threat of war involving the United States,” resurrecting a similar power Congress had briefly provided Woodrow Wilson during World War I. At the time, “wire communication” meant telephone calls or telegrams. Given the relatively modest role that electronic communications played in most Americans’ lives, the government’s assertion of this power during World War II (no president has used it since) likely created inconvenience but not havoc.

We live in a different universe today. Although interpreting a 1942 law to cover the internet might seem far-fetched, some government officials recently endorsed this reading during debates about cybersecurity legislation. Under this interpretation, Section 706 could effectively function as a “kill switch” in the U.S.—one that would be available to the president the moment he proclaimed a mere threat of war. It could also give the president power to assume control over U.S. internet traffic.

The potential impact of such a move can hardly be overstated. In August, in an early-morning tweet, Trump lamented that search engines were “RIGGED” to serve up negative articles about him. Later that day the administration said it was looking into regulating the big internet companies. “I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they’re really treading on very, very troubled territory. And they have to be careful,” Trump warned. If the government were to take control of U.S. internet infrastructure, Trump could accomplish directly what he threatened to do by regulation: ensure that internet searches always return pro-Trump content as the top results. The government also would have the ability to impede domestic access to particular websites, including social-media platforms. It could monitor emails or prevent them from reaching their destination. It could exert control over computer systems (such as states’ voter databases) and physical devices (such as Amazon’s Echo speakers) that are connected to the internet.

To be sure, the fact that the internet in the United States is highly decentralized—a function of a relatively open market for communications devices and services—would offer some protection. Achieving the level of government control over internet content that exists in places such as China, Russia, and Iran would likely be impossible in the U.S. Moreover, if Trump were to attempt any degree of internet takeover, an explosion of lawsuits would follow. Based on its First Amendment rulings in recent decades, the Supreme Court seems unlikely to permit heavy-handed government control over internet communication.

But complacency would be a mistake. Complete control of internet content would not be necessary for Trump’s purposes; even with less comprehensive interventions, he could do a great deal to disrupt political discourse and hinder effective, organized political opposition. And the Supreme Court’s view of the First Amendment is not immutable. For much of the country’s history, the Court was willing to tolerate significant encroachments on free speech during wartime. “The progress we have made is fragile,” Geoffrey R. Stone, a constitutional-law scholar at the University of Chicago, has written. “It would not take much to upset the current understanding of the First Amendment.” Indeed, all it would take is five Supreme Court justices whose commitment to presidential power exceeds their commitment to individual liberties.
Next to war powers, economic powers might sound benign, but they are among the president’s most potent legal weapons. All but two of the emergency declarations in effect today were issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, or ieepa. Passed in 1977, the law allows the president to declare a national emergency “to deal with any unusual and extraordinary threat”—to national security, foreign policy, or the economy—that “has its source in whole or substantial part outside the United States.” The president can then order a range of economic actions to address the threat, including freezing assets and blocking financial transactions in which any foreign nation or foreign national has an interest.

In the late 1970s and ’80s, presidents used the law primarily to impose sanctions against other nations, including Iran, Nicaragua, South Africa, Libya, and Panama. Then, in 1983, when Congress failed to renew a law authorizing the Commerce Department to control certain exports, President Ronald Reagan declared a national emergency in order to assume that control under ieepa. Subsequent presidents followed his example, transferring export control from Congress to the White House. President Bill Clinton expanded ieepa’s usage by targeting not just foreign governments but foreign political parties, terrorist organizations, and suspected narcotics traffickers.

President George W. Bush took matters a giant step further after 9/11. His Executive Order 13224 prohibited transactions not just with any suspected foreign terrorists, but with any foreigner or any U.S. citizen suspected of providing them with support. Once a person is “designated” under the order, no American can legally give him a job, rent him an apartment, provide him with medical services, or even sell him a loaf of bread unless the government grants a license to allow the transaction. The patriot Act gave the order more muscle, allowing the government to trigger these consequences merely by opening an investigation into whether a person or group should be designated.

Designations under Executive Order 13224 are opaque and extremely difficult to challenge. The government needs only a “reasonable basis” for believing that someone is involved with or supports terrorism in order to designate him. The target is generally given no advance notice and no hearing. He may request reconsideration and submit evidence on his behalf, but the government faces no deadline to respond. Moreover, the evidence against the target is typically classified, which means he is not allowed to see it. He can try to challenge the action in court, but his chances of success are minimal, as most judges defer to the government’s assessment of its own evidence.

Americans have occasionally been caught up in this Kafkaesque system. Several Muslim charities in the U.S. were designated or investigated based on the suspicion that their charitable contributions overseas benefited terrorists. Of course if the government can show, through judicial proceedings that observe due process and other constitutional rights, that an American group or person is funding terrorist activity, it should be able to cut off those funds. But the government shut these charities down by freezing their assets without ever having to prove its charges in court.

In other cases, Americans were significantly harmed by designations that later proved to be mistakes. For instance, two months after 9/11, the Treasury Department designated Garad Jama, a Somalian-born American, based on an erroneous determination that his money-wiring business was part of a terror-financing network. Jama’s office was shut down and his bank account frozen. News outlets described him as a suspected terrorist. For months, Jama tried to gain a hearing with the government to establish his innocence and, in the meantime, obtain the government’s permission to get a job and pay his lawyer. Only after he filed a lawsuit did the government allow him to work as a grocery-store cashier and pay his living expenses. It was several more months before the government reversed his designation and unfroze his assets. By then he had lost his business, and the stigma of having been publicly labeled a terrorist supporter continued to follow him and his family.

Despite these dramatic examples, ieepa’s limits have yet to be fully tested. After two courts ruled that the government’s actions against American charities were unconstitutional, Barack Obama’s administration chose not to appeal the decisions and largely refrained from further controversial designations of American organizations and citizens. Thus far, President Trump has followed the same approach.

That could change. In October, in the lead-up to the midterm elections, Trump characterized the caravan of Central American migrants headed toward the U.S. border to seek asylum as a “National Emergency.” Although he did not issue an emergency proclamation, he could do so under ieepa. He could determine that any American inside the U.S. who offers material support to the asylum seekers—or, for that matter, to undocumented immigrants inside the United States—poses “an unusual and extraordinary threat” to national security, and authorize the Treasury Department to take action against them.Americans might be surprised to learn just how readily the president can deploy troops inside the United States.

Such a move would carry echoes of a law passed recently in Hungary that criminalized the provision of financial or legal services to undocumented migrants; this has been dubbed the “Stop Soros” law, after the Hungarian American philanthropist George Soros, who funds migrants’-rights organizations. Although an order issued under ieepa would not land targets in jail, it could be implemented without legislation and without affording targets a trial. In practice, identifying every American who has hired, housed, or provided paid legal representation to an asylum seeker or undocumented immigrant would be impossible—but all Trump would need to do to achieve the desired political effect would be to make high-profile examples of a few. Individuals targeted by the order could lose their jobs, and find their bank accounts frozen and their health insurance canceled. The battle in the courts would then pick up exactly where it left off during the Obama administration—but with a newly reconstituted Supreme Court making the final call.

The idea of tanks rolling through the streets of U.S. cities seems fundamentally inconsistent with the country’s notions of democracy and freedom. Americans might be surprised, therefore, to learn just how readily the president can deploy troops inside the country.

The principle that the military should not act as a domestic police force, known as “posse comitatus,” has deep roots in the nation’s history, and it is often mistaken for a constitutional rule. The Constitution, however, does not prohibit military participation in police activity. Nor does the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 outlaw such participation; it merely states that any authority to use the military for law-enforcement purposes must derive from the Constitution or from a statute.

The Insurrection Act of 1807 provides the necessary authority. As amended over the years, it allows the president to deploy troops upon the request of a state’s governor or legislature to help put down an insurrection within that state. It also allows the president to deploy troops unilaterally, either because he determines that rebellious activity has made it “impracticable” to enforce federal law through regular means, or because he deems it necessary to suppress “insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy” (terms not defined in the statute) that hinders the rights of a class of people or “impedes the course of justice.”

Presidents have wielded the Insurrection Act under a range of circumstances. Dwight Eisenhower used it in 1957 when he sent troops into Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce school desegregation. George H. W. Bush employed it in 1992 to help stop the riots that erupted in Los Angeles after the verdict in the Rodney King case. George W. Bush considered invoking it to help restore public order after Hurricane Katrina, but opted against it when the governor of Louisiana resisted federal control over the state’s National Guard. While controversy surrounded all these examples, none suggests obvious overreach.

And yet the potential misuses of the act are legion. When Chicago experienced a spike in homicides in 2017, Trump tweeted that the city must “fix the horrible ‘carnage’ ” or he would “send in the Feds!” To carry out this threat, the president could declare a particular street gang—say, MS‑13—to be an “unlawful combination” and then send troops to the nation’s cities to police the streets. He could characterize sanctuary cities—cities that refuse to provide assistance to immigration-enforcement officials—as “conspiracies” against federal authorities, and order the military to enforce immigration laws in those places. Conjuring the specter of “liberal mobs,” he could send troops to suppress alleged rioting at the fringes of anti-Trump protests.Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty

How far could the president go in using the military within U.S. borders? The Supreme Court has given us no clear answer to this question. Take Ex parte Milligan, a famous ruling from 1866 invalidating the use of a military commission to try a civilian during the Civil War. The case is widely considered a high-water mark for judicial constraint on executive action. Yet even as the Court held that the president could not use war or emergency as a reason to bypass civilian courts, it noted that martial law—the displacement of civilian authority by the military—would be appropriate in some cases. If civilian courts were closed as a result of a foreign invasion or a civil war, for example, martial law could exist “until the laws can have their free course.” The message is decidedly mixed: Claims of emergency or necessity cannot legitimize martial law … until they can.

Presented with this ambiguity, presidents have explored the outer limits of their constitutional emergency authority in a series of directives known as Presidential Emergency Action Documents, or peads. peads, which originated as part of the Eisenhower administration’s plans to ensure continuity of government in the wake of a Soviet nuclear attack, are draft executive orders, proclamations, and messages to Congress that are prepared in advance of anticipated emergencies. peads are closely guarded within the government; none has ever been publicly released or leaked. But their contents have occasionally been described in public sources, including FBI memorandums that were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act as well as agency manuals and court records. According to these sources, peads drafted from the 1950s through the 1970s would authorize not only martial law but the suspension of habeas corpus by the executive branch, the revocation of Americans’ passports, and the roundup and detention of “subversives” identified in an FBI “Security Index” that contained more than 10,000 names.

Less is known about the contents of more recent peads and equivalent planning documents. But in 1987, The Miami Herald reported that Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North had worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to create a secret contingency plan authorizing “suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the United States over to fema, appointment of military commanders to run state and local governments and declaration of martial law during a national crisis.” A 2007 Department of Homeland Security report lists “martial law” and “curfew declarations” as “critical tasks” that local, state, and federal government should be able to perform in emergencies. In 2008, government sources told a reporter for Radar magazine that a version of the Security Index still existed under the code name Main Core, allowing for the apprehension and detention of Americans tagged as security threats.

Since 2012, the Department of Justice has been requesting and receiving funds from Congress to update several dozen peads first developed in 1989. The funding requests contain no indication of what these peads encompass, or what standards the department intends to apply in reviewing them. But whatever the Obama administration’s intent, the review has now passed to the Trump administration. It will fall to Jeff Sessions’s successor as attorney general to decide whether to rein in or expand some of the more frightening features of these peads. And, of course, it will be up to President Trump whether to actually use them—something no previous president appears to have done.
What would the Founders think of these and other emergency powers on the books today, in the hands of a president like Donald Trump? In Youngstown, the case in which the Supreme Court blocked President Truman’s attempt to seize the nation’s steel mills, Justice Jackson observed that broad emergency powers were “something the forefathers omitted” from the Constitution. “They knew what emergencies were, knew the pressures they engender for authoritative action, knew, too, how they afford a ready pretext for usurpation,” he wrote. “We may also suspect that they suspected that emergency powers would tend to kindle emergencies.”

In the past several decades, Congress has provided what the Constitution did not: emergency powers that have the potential for creating emergencies rather than ending them. Presidents have built on these powers with their own secret directives. What has prevented the wholesale abuse of these authorities until now is a baseline commitment to liberal democracy on the part of past presidents. Under a president who doesn’t share that commitment, what might we see?
Imagine that it’s late 2019. Trump’s approval ratings are at an all-time low. A disgruntled former employee has leaked documents showing that the Trump Organization was involved in illegal business dealings with Russian oligarchs. The trade war with China and other countries has taken a significant toll on the economy. Trump has been caught once again disclosing classified information to Russian officials, and his international gaffes are becoming impossible for lawmakers concerned about national security to ignore. A few of his Republican supporters in Congress begin to distance themselves from his administration. Support for impeachment spreads on Capitol Hill. In straw polls pitting Trump against various potential Democratic presidential candidates, the Democrat consistently wins.

Trump reacts. Unfazed by his own brazen hypocrisy, he tweets that Iran is planning a cyber operation to interfere with the 2020 election. His national-security adviser, John Bolton, claims to have seen ironclad (but highly classified) evidence of this planned assault on U.S. democracy. Trump’s inflammatory tweets provoke predictable saber rattling by Iranian leaders; he responds by threatening preemptive military strikes. Some Defense Department officials have misgivings, but others have been waiting for such an opportunity. As Iran’s statements grow more warlike, “Iranophobia” takes hold among the American public.

Proclaiming a threat of war, Trump invokes Section 706 of the Communications Act to assume government control over internet traffic inside the United States, in order to prevent the spread of Iranian disinformation and propaganda. He also declares a national emergency under ieepa, authorizing the Treasury Department to freeze the assets of any person or organization suspected of supporting Iran’s activities against the United States. Wielding the authority conferred by these laws, the government shuts down several left-leaning websites and domestic civil-society organizations, based on government determinations (classified, of course) that they are subject to Iranian influence. These include websites and organizations that are focused on getting out the vote.The Voorhes

Lawsuits follow. Several judges issue orders declaring Trump’s actions unconstitutional, but a handful of judges appointed by the president side with the administration. On the eve of the election, the cases reach the Supreme Court. In a 5–4 opinion written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Court observes that the president’s powers are at their zenith when he is using authority granted by Congress to protect national security. Setting new precedent, the Court holds that the First Amendment does not protect Iranian propaganda and that the government needs no warrant to freeze Americans’ assets if its goal is to mitigate a foreign threat.
How to Build an Autocracy
Why Trump Supporters Believe He Is Not Corrupt
America’s Slide Toward Autocracy

Protests erupt. On Twitter, Trump calls the protesters traitors and suggests (in capital letters) that they could use a good beating. When counter protesters oblige, Trump blames the original protesters for sparking the violent confrontations and deploys the Insurrection Act to federalize the National Guard in several states. Using the Presidential Alert system first tested in October 2018, the president sends a text message to every American’s cellphone, warning that there is “a risk of violence at polling stations” and that “troops will be deployed as necessary” to keep order. Some members of opposition groups are frightened into staying home on Election Day; other people simply can’t find accurate information online about voting. With turnout at a historical low, a president who was facing impeachment just months earlier handily wins reelection—and marks his victory by renewing the state of emergency.

This scenario might sound extreme. But the misuse of emergency powers is a standard gambit among leaders attempting to consolidate power. Authoritarians Trump has openly claimed to admire—including the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan—have gone this route.

Of course, Trump might also choose to act entirely outside the law. Presidents with a far stronger commitment to the rule of law, including Lincoln and Roosevelt, have done exactly that, albeit in response to real emergencies. But there is little that can be done in advance to stop this, other than attempting deterrence through robust oversight. The remedies for such behavior can come only after the fact, via court judgments, political blowback at the voting booth, or impeachment.

By contrast, the dangers posed by emergency powers that are written into statute can be mitigated through the simple expedient of changing the law. Committees in the House could begin this process now by undertaking a thorough review of existing emergency powers and declarations. Based on that review, Congress could repeal the laws that are obsolete or unnecessary. It could revise others to include stronger protections against abuse. It could issue new criteria for emergency declarations, require a connection between the nature of the emergency and the powers invoked, and prohibit indefinite emergencies. It could limit the powers set forth in peads.

Congress, of course, will undertake none of these reforms without extraordinary public pressure—and until now, the public has paid little heed to emergency powers. But we are in uncharted political territory. At a time when other democracies around the world are slipping toward authoritarianism—and when the president seems eager for the United States to follow their example—we would be wise to shore up the guardrails of liberal democracy. Fixing the current system of emergency powers would be a good place to start.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Getting Into The Christmas Mood

It is 10pm and I am standing outside in the cold wintry air. The ground is white and crunchy. Up ahead is Dixie looking for a suitable place for her last business of the day. She likes to have someone with her. I think she is a bit afraid of the unknown lurking in the dark. When she is out alone in the dark she tends to bark. I think it is a form for anxiety, an attempt of letting anyone know she's there and "don't you dare to come near me".

The sky above me is clear, sparkling stars are visible and there is a part of the good old moon. A slight breeze is standing off the bay, makes me shiver. Behind me our Christmas decoration lightens up the porch. I can feel's getting Christmas. 
We have gotten another year behind us, I am now older than my Dad was when we got married. The old man is gone now and he may be looking down from somewhere up there among the stars. I am sure he met mom again there as well. "I am here guys and I am Ok. We are doing alright and we love you".

Dixie is back with me and starting towards the door. I let her in, switch off the Christmas lights. It's time to go to bed.

Dixie climbs on her bed, waiting for her Good-Night Cookie. 

On her bed
Yes, she always needs that. Then she lays down for the night.
Some times I think she is a human in disguise. The way her beautiful eyes look at me, or when she comes to me burying her head in my lap, telling me "it's time for our walk Dad" and she lets out a soft groan. "Dad, I want to walk now".  Then we go for a walk along the beach or take a forest trail. She is always off-leash and she stays in sight. And if she ever is too busy to sniff up a scent, and I am way ahead of her, she suddenly realizes the distance and comes running after me. 

After 4 dogs, Dixie is the 5th. I have loved everyone of them, and cried out my eyes when they went across the rainbow bridge. Dixie will be no different except that it is getting worse every time. I am scared of time passing so fast. Didn't we just get her? Wait...that is now more than 2 years ago. November 11 2017 we picked her up in southern Maine.
First Pee Stop after pickup in 2017

She was so tiny and so scared of the long journey from Arkansas. But our love made her what she is today - well except when she is outside in the dark, I guess.

Sleeping peacefully after the long journey

Now that the ground is white she is hard to see in the snow, so we tie an orange neckerchief around her neck. Dixie is also very good with other dogs. She always wants to play. Our neighbour's "Ollie". a tiny Yorkshire, has no fear of Dixie, and yesterday Dixie met her friend "Beau" a heavy Retriever, on the beach. Her array of friends is always getting bigger. "Sammy" a black labrador is another great guy to play with.

Yes, Dixie is a big girl now. At 83 pounds I cannot lift her anymore.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 2, 2019

California Dreamin.

All the leaves are brown
and the sky is grey
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day

I'd be safe and warm
If I was in LA
California dreamin'
on such a winter's day

Stopped into a church
I passed along the way
Oh , I got down on my knees
And I pretend to pray

You know the preacher likes the cold
He knows I'm gonna stay
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day

All the leaves are brown
and the sky is grey
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day

If I didn't tell her
I could leave today
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day

California dreamin'
On such a winter's day.

Yes, folks, we are getting there, snow is in the forecast and I'm afraid this time we are not getting away. Storm casts have already been pounding this island, bringing the wind chill way down. It's time to lay plans for next winter (see above....)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

It Seems Silly But I Watch It Every Year

You have a favorite movie you simply need to see over and over again? I guess many people have favorite movies they have seen at one time and remember for years and decades. I have one too. It is Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacations. 

Ever since I saw that movie the first time (it was in Norway) I am addicted to it. Before Christmas rolls around, I look it up on YouTube and I have a wonderful time with this crazy American family chasing a dream of the perfect family-style old-fashioned Christmas. 

It is nothing but a persiflage of American customs depicting certain types of American behavior and so full of enjoyment and American Tradition.

The movie has its comical moments and the actors are giving their best. It's popular even in Europe and has made many families to start decorating their homes the American way. Some have even gone so far as to purchase light chains in the U.S. and installing equipment to change voltage from the European 220V to 110V.

The movie also emphasizes the romantic notion of a "White Christmas", and as a boy I remember the disappointment we always felt when we had no snow at Christmas.
On the other hand we had a hard time containing our excitement when snow finally arrived. Our European-style sleds came out and we were heading off to the next slope to have hours of fun, often returning home shortly before complete darkness. We could steer the sleds by putting one foot in the snow or brake it by using both feet as a brake. I remember mom coming with us once. We had one extra-long sled and mom was sitting behind me holding on to me in the front. The sled ran over a bump, made a jump and broke under us when it landed. Chevy Chase has a scene in the movie running down a slope on a metal disc. It always reminds me of my own experience.

Now that I am old looking back at those gone-by days, I am more than happy when we have a green Christmas instead of having to deal with all that pesky snow.
Image result for Alter Rodelschlitten
Are the kids still having such fun? Probably, even though they might have it with different type of equipment.
Enjoy the peace where ever you are!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Parallels

Recently I viewed an extensive documentary about "The Democratic People's Republic of North Korea". It was accomplished during an extensive journey through the DPRK. You have to see it, if you want to understand it. But there is some thing I noticed while watching the production.

What North Korean people are supposed to do (and they do it) is showing their endless respectful servitude and deference to "the dynasty of the Kims". North Korea exists as a personal cult to their leader. The country is literally doused in statues and graphics showing the dominating presence of the Kims and, by that, the dominance of the government. And that is exactly the reason why Trump is so impressed with Kim Jong Un and his rule. The U.S. president wants a Military Parade North Korea Style. He'd love his picture at every street corner and a statue on every big plaza of the nation. And just as Kim Yong Un he is giving a Fu**ing Sh*T about the common man on the street. But he is a master of manipulating uneducated idiots appearing at his rallies.

He hates the U.S. constitution limiting him to excel in endless power. He dreams of being a stable genius and ruling the country in his "great and unmatched wisdom". (Citation: As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey

The U.S. President, a repeat draft dodger, is seeing himself as a supreme ruler of the nation. Unfortunately for him, he suffers from a severe lack of intelligence, which ultimately will lead to his demise.

His days are now full of angry mood swings for he is facing sure-fire impeachment and an embarrassing trial in the senate. 

And in his helplessness all he knows how to act, is throwing insults to just about anybody who has been or is contradicting him. His steady and daily produced lies on Twitter makes him the most ridiculous president in the history of the United States. 

Fortunately, the U.S. does have a constitution built on democratic principles, even though the G.O.P. is doing everything to put aside the constitution to empower and support their supreme leader and by that keeping themselves in the seat. Egoism is the order of the day!

It will ultimately be up to the American public to decide whether they want to live in North Korea-Style-America or if they prefer a social democracy for themselves and future generations.

And before I forget it, here is the YouTube link for the documentary. It's quite long and very detailed but also very educational for an ignorant G.O.P. American.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Dixie And I Almost Met A Moose

Regardless of the weather I have to take Dixie out for a walk every day. It is a grey day today but no rain nor snow. We still have snow-bare trails on the island. So I decided to take one of the brand new trails the Roosevelt Park created this summer. Those trails are just so beautiful and you never meet anyone.

So also today. The trail goes on for a about 1.5 miles, it's untouched, it's closed for vehicles and the fresh gravel didn't show any foot prints.

The trail is a dead end, meaning we gotta walk back to the parking lot. We were on our return walk and Dixie, being off-leash, was strolling through the woods, but always staying close to the trail, I was enjoying the peace on the trail itself.

Suddenly, I noticed tracks on the trail. BIG tracks and they were coming off the tree stands on the upside of the trail. DARN...those tracks hadn't been there just a few minutes earlier. I identified them as Moose tracks. Moose tracks can resemble those of a horse. The indentations in the gravel indicated a big heavy animal. The tracks were running ahead of us. I began being worried that the moose might be still standing still some where in the forest ready to attack Dixie, who was still strolling through the woods on my left side. I called her over with the magic word COOKIE and she came right over. I put her on her leash and we continued cautiously along the trail. When coming at the fork from where the trail runs left into a bog area and the other part right up to the parking lot, I saw the moose had taken to the left into the bog.
I was mad with myself that I had not taken my camera or my phone with me, so you have to take me by my word. Needless to say I was a bit shaken as it must have been just minutes I had missed the meeting with the "King of the Forest".

Sunday, November 10, 2019

I Almost Incinerated A Cake

Ask my friends, neighbours or family....I am a cake-man. I would walk miles for the right cake. And if it's Sunday and I have no cake I'm getting restless - until a decision comes to the forefront. I'm getting myself to the kitchen and start mixing cake ingredients to a dough. 

You guessed it. It's Sunday and I was outa cake. Some apples into it and raisins, topped off with a slight sprinkle of cinnamon. There it goes right into the preheated stove, set the clock to 40 minutes and relax. I know that cake, have made it hundreds of times. All good.

Then Bea's American relative called. We talked and talked. Suddenly I noticed a peculiar smell from the kitchen. 


But 40 minutes aren't over, there is the clock - 5 minutes left.

Arriving in the kitchen I have difficulties seeing the stove. Blue smoke is obscuring the picture, and.......MAN that smell. Something burns or what?

I run to open doors and windows. When getting to the stove I can make out a ring of coals. Geez...what's happening???

Gosh, my cake has turned into a ring of coals. I rip out the form, run for the outdoors.

The hot cake ends up in the garbage container. PRONTO! It will take a while to get rid of the burn smell in the house. 
Meanwhile, Bea has finished off her phone conversation. It's confession time for me.

Realizing I lost my cake, I grab the car keys. Next stop is the grocery store in Lubec Maine... They got some good stuff there.
Arriving at the US border the officer is asking the usual question about where I am heading. 
I tell him "we have a cake emergency and a bad smell in the house. I'm heading to the IGA in town". He's breaking down in laughter. Good for him.

I got a coupla nice pieces of cheesecake, which we then ate with whipped up cream. Sunday afternoon was saved. Now I have to scrub the cake form. Oh well...... 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

An Ever So Slight Taste Of Winter

It must have something to do with me getting older, but I think summers are getting shorter and winters are approaching faster. It's only the beginning of the 2. week of November, but the temps fell like a rock from comfortable 55-60F to 26F. And then there was the weather forecast blabbering about snow at copious amounts.

Bah...I thought, not here at the coast. Water is too warm yet. 
                  A white dusting of fresh snow

Hate to admit it, but I was proven wrong and the weather man was right. Friday afternoon snowflakes were flying by horizontally down the street. Darn....and before I knew it the outside world had turned white. 

This morning it was 26F and a strong cold wind made be shiver even though I was in my thick winter jacket. 
I tried to walk through the woods, but there I was in the shade. 
Hard to see Dixie in the pic to the left, but there she was. White dog in the snow


Looks like Christmas already
Beach was better as we had full-blast sunshine and a sharp reflection . I let Dixie stroll back and forth and we walked up to the outlook above Herring Cove. A bit colder there so we crossed back over to where I had parked the van.

Dixie had been very good this morning so I had a few treats for her. Two days ago it didn't go so well. Bea had taken her on a longer walk in the Roosevelt Park where Dixie had found some yucky stuff, and of course, she had rolled in it. When she got home that day I thought somebody had emptied a pail of rotten mussels in our living room.

Something needed to be done and the "something" was a trip into the bathroom.

"Bathroom" is an area of the house Dixie hates to be in. It was not easy to get her through the door. But even more adventurous was the move into the tub. She fought against it with all her 83.3 pounds of weight and there wouldn't have been a way to do this for one person alone. Bea was hunched inside the tub ready to do the job, while I cautiously had to lift Dixie into the tub. When it was done Dixie was really mad at us. She retreated onto her bed and slept the rest of the day. 

Dogs have a physical tiredness and a mental one. This time around Dixie was both. Even the next morning she was late down from her bed. Was that a gloomy look she just gave me? I really don't know, but I did feel very sorry for her.

Meanwhile, she seem to have restored her trust in us. It'll be a long time until her next trip to the tub.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

In Case You Missed It:

When ever we stayed in the southwestern area of Arizona or California we heard discussions about whether or not it would be safe to take a trip to Mexico. Lately, the country has outpaced the U.S. in violence and I have no doubt that traveling to Mexico is not advisable for anyone, especially since Mexican law enforcement is neither capable nor willing to clean up the horrendous crime. The following article appeared in the New York Times and should keep you from even thinking of entering that country.

At Least 9 Members of Mormon Family Are Killed in Ambush in Mexico

Six children were among the victims in a massacre attributed to organized crime. Other children were rescued, some of whom hid along a roadside.

By Azam Ahmed, Elisabeth Malkin and Daniel Victor
Nov. 5, 2019Updated 4:12 a.m. ET

MEXICO CITY — At least three women and six children in a prominent local Mormon family were killed on Monday when their vehicles were ambushed in northern Mexico by gunmen believed to be members of organized crime, family members said. The attack alarmed a nation already reeling from 
record violence this year.

Members of the LeBarón family, American citizens who have lived in a fundamentalist Mormon community in the border region for decades, were traveling in three separate vehicles when the gunmen attacked, several family members said. They described a terrifying scene in which one child was gunned down while running away, while others were trapped inside a burning car.

Two of the children killed were less than a year old, the family members said. Kenny LeBarón, a cousin of the women driving the vehicles, said in a telephone interview that he feared the death toll could grow higher.

“When you know there are babies tied in a car seat that are burning because of some twisted evil that’s in this world,” Mr. LeBarón said, “it’s just hard to cope with that.”

Mexico has suffered a string of violent episodes in the last month, each as devastating and infuriating for citizens as the last.

Fourteen police officers were killed in the state of Michoacán in the middle of last month, in an ambush stemming from violent clashes in the state. Days later, cartel gunmen laid siege to the city of Culiacán in the state of Sinaloa, forcing the government to release one of the sons of the infamous drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera, after having captured the son hours earlier.

In both cases, the stark challenges of public security were laid bare, raising questions about the government’s seriousness in combating the spiraling violence.

But Monday’s brutal killings seem to have hit a new low, with infants, children and their mothers murdered in broad daylight. It threatened to become a galvanizing moment for citizens fed up with the endless bloodshed and the government’s inability to do much about it.

Details of the attack remained murky early Tuesday, as state and local authorities struggled to determine the extent of the violence, and how exactly it unfolded.

It was unclear whether the attackers intentionally targeted the family, which has historically spoken out about the criminal groups that plague the northern border states of Sonora and Chihuahua, or whether it was a case of mistaken identity.

Julian LeBarón, a cousin of the three women who were driving the vehicles, said in a telephone interview from Bavispe, Mexico, that the women and their children had been traveling from the state of Sonora to the state of Chihuahua.

His cousin Rhonita was traveling to Phoenix to pick up her husband, who works in North Dakota and was returning to celebrate the couple’s wedding anniversary. Her car broke down, Mr. LeBarón said, and the gunmen “opened fire on Rhonita and torched her car.”

She was killed, along with an 11-year-old boy, a 9-year-old girl and twins who were less than a year old, he said.

About eight miles ahead, the two other cars were also attacked, killing the two other women, Mr. LeBarón said. A 4-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl were also killed, he said.

Family members said several children were rescued, some having hidden by the roadside to escape the attackers.

“Six little kids were killed, and seven made it out alive,” Mr. LeBarón said.

The women had married men from La Mora, which is in the municipality of Bavispe in Sonora. The surviving children were being taken by helicopter from Bavispe, the town closest to the La Mora community, to a hospital, he said.

He expressed bewilderment over what could have precipitated the attack. “They intentionally murdered those people,” Mr. LeBarón said. “We don’t know what their motives were.”

One of the women even got out of her car, Mr. LeBarón said, and put up her hands. “They shot her point blank in the chest,” he said.

Mr. LeBarón said the family had not received any threats, other than general warnings not to travel to Chihuahua, where they typically went to buy groceries and fuel.

As he watched the helicopter fly off with the injured children, Mr. LeBarón said that perhaps the killings would finally spur enough outrage to force change.

“We need the Mexican people to say at some point, we’ve had enough,” he said. “We need accountability; we don’t have that on any level.”

The massacre came a decade after two other members of the LeBarón family 
were kidnapped and murdered after they confronted the drug gangs that exercise de facto control over the empty endless spaces of the borderlands south of Arizona.

A family member and other Mormons settled a town in Mexico in the 1940s; many of its residents speak English and have dual citizenship.