History Monday #92

Impeachment is the buzzword in Washington

We’re barely into the new year, and there’s talk of impeachment. Of course, some of that is current rhetoric against Pres. Trump, but today’s #HistoryMonday is all about impeachment of a president who refuses to follow congressional rules and has a tumultuous cabinet.

Pres. Andrew Johnson

On this day in 1868, the House of Representatives adopt articles of impeachment against Pres. Andrew Johnson. These in response to continued efforts by Pres. Johnson to remove his Secretary of War. Leading the impeachment effort against Pres. Johnson was Thaddeus Stevens (R) of Pennsylvania. Stevens was quoted as saying, “This [impeachment] is not to be the temporary triumph of a political party” which sounds remarkably similar to the most recent statements about Pres. Trump’s impeachment.

Pres. Johnson had earned the ire of Congress prior to ascending to the presidency in 1865. Following a policy of Pres. Lincoln to extend mercy to Southerners, Pres. Johnson sought to forgive Confederate sympathizers after the end of the Civil War. This was hardly surprising as Pres. Johnson was a Democrat from Tennessee who wasn’t opposed to slavery in the South but was opposed to the secession from the United States. Republicans who wanted to punish Southerners for seceding equating it to treason were opposed to Pres. Johnson and others’ leniency during Reconstruction.

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Edwin M. Stanton, Sec. of War (1862-1868)

During Reconstruction, the South was divided into districts to be governed by the military. These military governors would be overseen by the Secretary of War. Pres. Johnson was at odds with Sec. Edwin M. Stanton who tended to agree with the Republicans who pushed for stronger discipline against the South. Congress had passed the Tenure of Office Act in 1867 to prevent the President from firing officials who are confirmed by the Senate without submitting the request to fire the official to the Senate for the same advice and consent. While the law was worded ambiguously, it was understood by most to be a protection for Stevens.

Pres. Johnson knew the Tenure of Office Act didn’t preclude him from suspending officials during congressional recesses, so in August of 1867 he took advantage of that loophole. While Stanton was suspended, Pres. Johnson appointed Ulysses S. Grant as Interim Secretary of War. When Congress reconvened later that winter, Grant resigned to avoid punishment by Congress. In response, Pres. Johnson selected Lorenzo Thomas as Interim Secretary of War on February 22, 1868 when he submitted the name to the Senate and asked Thomas to relieve Stanton of his duties. Stanton then barricaded himself in his office and had Thomas arrested.

The Republicans in Congress who wanted to keep Pres. Johnson in check and asked Stanton to withdraw the arrest of Thomas in order to proceed towards impeachment. Reviewing the acts leading to that point, Congress passed a resolution to impeach Pres. Johnson 126-47, which fell mostly along party lines. Although 4 Democrats voted for the resolution, and 2 Republicans voted against. Oddly enough, 17 representatives abstained from voting.

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Congress drafted 11 articles of impeachment against Pres. Johnson on March 4 after the resolution to impeach. Most of these articles were specifications of the impropriety about Stanton’s suspension and firing, as well as appointing others to the position that couldn’t assume it since the office was improperly vacated.

The Senate began its trial later that same day with Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presiding over the trial. As this was the first instance of impeachment, Chase wasn’t sure of his authority and neither was the Senate. After objections to early rulings, Chase decided not to issue rulings to keep the peace. A challenge was presented for ruling but was left undecided regarding the president of the Senate pro tempore, Benjamin Wade. As there was no Vice President at that time, Wade would accede to the presidency should Pres. Johnson be convicted and removed from office. So, it was argued that this was a conflict of interest for Wade, who did vote to convict.

On May 16, the Senate voted 35-19 that Pres. Johnson was guilty of the 11th Article, falling one vote shy of the threshold to convict. The Senate took a 10-day-recess and voted on the 2nd and 3rd Articles, and again missed by one vote to convict. The Senate then adjourned without addressing the other eight articles. Inquiries from both sides determined that patronage and bribery had been employed to sway votes. Given these improper attempts to influence the votes, it made sense to move on.

Of course, we have seen in the last five decades that impeachment is still a tool of Congress to keep an eye on the President and attempt to maintain a balance of power and check on authority of the executive. In those five decades, we have seen an impeachment process begun against Pres. Richard Nixon, Pres. Bill Clinton, and Pres. Donald Trump. Pres. Nixon resigned before the impeachment trial in the Senate, so it’s unclear what might have happened with their decision(s). The two most recent impeachments also resulted in acquittal like Pres. Johnson. Given the high threshold to convict, it’s unlikely that an impeached president is convicted in the Senate unless that president grossly and/or maliciously violates the law.

Should Pres. Johnson have been impeached?

Current Event Friday #95

After an exciting start to the Daytona 500 with Pres. Trump as Grand Marshall, the finish becomes even more exciting

We’re at the finish line of another week again and today’s #CurrentEventFriday looks at the wild events that played out of the finish line of the Great American Race—the Daytona 500 on Monday. More specifically, the attention paid to the fourth-place competitor.

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Ryan Blaney (12) attempted to pass Ryan Newman (6) whose car suffered a dangerous wreck. Denny Hamlin (11) would win the race. 

The finish of the race saw the second-closest result in the race and was won by Denny Hamlin. After this win, Hamlin won his third Daytona 500 race and the second in consecutive years. Before crossing the finish line, Hamlin was running in third place but was able to gain the lead in the last few hundred feet as Ryan Newman lost the lead while being spun out by Ryan Blaney.

What makes this noteworthy is that Newman lost the lead while blocking Blaney from performing a bump-and-run maneuver that sent Newman into the outside wall and turned Newman’s car upside down which was then struck by Corey LaJoie’s car. After being struck by LaJoie, the car piloted by Newman began to ignite.

Hamlin’s crew and team owner began to celebrate their victory while many fans booed the celebration given the damage to Newman’s car and Newman himself. Newman was rescued from the car and was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

NASCAR officials released a press statement about Newman’s condition later that night. Many took to social media to offer thoughts and prayers for the veteran driver. Of course, many were concerned about his condition eliciting a parallel to the announcement following 2001’s Daytona 500 that ended with Dale Earnhardt’s death.

Thankfully, for Ryan Newman there are several safety measures and equipment in place after Earnhardt’s death. The modern car includes a Head and Neck Safety (HANS) device that protects the driver’s head and neck, a roll cage with several reinforcements including an Earnhardt Bar and a Newman bar that were added after previous crashes that injured the driver the bars are named for.

As these safety measures have become standard and protect the driver’s more each year it’s no surprise that Wednesday afternoon that Newman was released from the hospital, alert and walking. Some on social media created memes of Dale Earnhardt acting as a guardian angel for Ryan Newman. Surprisingly, many who passively follow NASCAR demonstrated concern for Newman while he was hospitalized and celebrated his release.

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Corey LaJoie (32) praying for Ryan Newman after Lajoie’s car struck Ryan Newman’s car at the end of Monday’s Daytona 500.

For LaJoie and Hamlin’s part they were both concerned for Newman after the race and offered prayers and support for his recovery. An image of LaJoie praying for Newman near his  own still smoldering car was shared on social media. Roush-Fenway the company that Newman drives for announced that Ross Chastain will drive the car until Newman is medically cleared to return to the car.

An interesting wrinkle in this story involves Ryan Newman and his wife Krissie. Just before the Daytona 500, the couple announced that after 16 years of marriage they were separating. In statements from both Ryan and Krissie, they announced they would raise their two young children as co-parents despite their own relationship.

After the accident and subsequent hospitalization, Krissie posted on Twitter & Instagram a photo of Ryan awake and posing with the girls and later a video of Ryan walking out of the hospital with their children. Some fans believe that after this brush with mortality, the Newmans may reconsider their separation. Neither Ryan or Krissie Newman has offered an update on their marital status since the accident, so they may still proceed towards separation amicably or they might reconcile. Optimists no doubt are pulling for the latter over the former, and why not stranger things have happened.

Did you watch Ryan Newman’s accident?

Poetry Wednesday 90

Honoring “Her Hair” is the latest effort for an original poem

“Her Hair”

Can’t explain why the beauty of a woman’s hair enchants me

I’ve got my reasons to appreciate her tresses no matter what color they may be

Whether styled and swept back as a sashed curtain or as bangs just above the brows

I wonder whether she keeps it completely trained or what she simply allows

 

She has to know she’s not the only one paying attention to her style

Not going to lie, I’m a fan whether it’s kept short and tight, or long like a mile

Colors aren’t dealbreakers either—golden blondes, brunettes, or fiery reds

One of the first traits I pay attention to with females is the cover on their heads

 

Hoping to get lost in her locks as we lock lips when we kiss

A flowing figure of a woman, her hair flows as lava, so molten

Please be careful that your hair is treated well to avoid unwanted moltin’

Hair is such an interesting object, doesn’t have to learn how to fall, that’s such bliss

Not going to worry about hair that’s even more personal, mine

Her comb’s teeth are a homonym for the description of my hair’s quality, fine

 

© Ryan Stroud 2020

History Monday #91

Let’s go to the art show

Another week is upon us, and that means it’s time to discuss an event in history, and today’s event is all about being framed. Now, this isn’t about people being unfairly convicted of a crime, but about works of art being celebrated and displayed. Today’s #HistoryMonday looks at of all things an art show that was the first of its kind in the United States.

On this day in 1913, the International Exhibition of Modern Art opens in the National Guard’s 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. The location of this exhibition would give it its more familiar name, the Armory Show.

Art shows in the United States were nothing new in 1913 of course, but this show featured works of modern art. Among this classification, styles like Fauvism, Cubism, and Futurism were observed by Americans for the first time. These schools had already achieved acclaim in Europe, but now had a chance for Americans to see these new works.

The exhibition was informally organized by a handful of artists in 1911. As they and other influential folks in the art world had continued discussion, they formed the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS) to promote contemporary art. After forming as the AAPS, the members began to plan the International Exhibition of Modern Art, and selected the Armory for its large space needed to display the works of art.

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Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 by Marcel Duchamp (one of the works featured at the Armory Show)

Conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp drew the most attention for his Cubist/Futurist work Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2. The work features successive images of a human figure superimposed on each other in a Cubist style. These images are similar to stop motion art like flip books and cartoons. Although the Cubist style makes the human features indistinguishable, the title gained attention. Even Pres. Teddy Roosevelt who saw the work disparaged it, comparing a Navajo rug as a better work of art than Duchamp’s. Other well-known artists featured in the show include Pablo Picasso, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, and Wassily Kandinsky just to name a few.

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Oddly enough, this was the only exhibition that the AAPS mounted. The organization did take the show to two more locations after the success in New York City. The second city to feature the show was not surprisingly the Second City—Chicago at the Art Institute of Chicago nearly a month after its opening in New York. The final location was at The Copley Society of Art in Boston, although the works by American artists were soon removed from the show as this location lacked enough space for all the works.

Many who observed the modern art were scandalized by the shift from realism that had existed in the centuries prior. The odd use of colors, subjects, and unconventional techniques caused many to question the legitimacy of the works as art. Like Pres. Roosevelt’s critique of Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, many others lampooned or criticized the newer works as folly and not worth the attention of serious artistic folks.

Not everyone was opposed to the newer art and many found elements of art in the works featured in the show. The exhibition has been recreated in other locations in the United States during the 20th Century, including one in 1966 featuring performance artists at the 69th Regiment Armory. Centennial celebrations of the show were held in a handful of locations in 2013 including the 69th Regiment Armory and the Art Institute of Chicago like the original show.

As modern art has given way to postmodernism, other art shows have featured even more unconventional and provocative works. Of course, as the envelope is pushed further each successive generation, the debate draws more attention to the shows than if presented without the debate. Admittedly, much of the modern art and postmodern art is not my cup of tea, and I probably would side with Pres. Roosevelt and others that satirize and critique the newer and unconventional art.

Do you like works of art by Picasso, Duchamp, or Cassatt?

Current Event Friday #94

A man attacks a recliner and it has nothing to do with a furniture store

Remember when air travel was an exciting event that people dressed up for and looked forward to? Those days have gone the way of records, analog televisions, and cursive writing. Now, air travel provides opportunities for people to become angry as they are hopefully trying to escape stress to a vacation hotspot or they’re returning rested and refreshed. Sadly, two passengers couldn’t get along and are today’s #CurrentEventFriday.

A traveler flying from New Orleans to Charlotte with American Airlines on Jan. 31 posted an incident from that flight to her social media, and the video quickly went viral. In the video posted, another traveler, an unidentified man begins punching the woman’s seat.

Reading that summary, it’d be easy to say that the would-be-boxer is in the wrong and should apologize. Yet, the woman posting the video had reclined her seat and when doing so it invaded the unidentified man’s space. So, maybe he has at least a legitimate gripe with the woman. Given that airplanes don’t really offer that much space, having a passenger in front of you take away any more of that space by reclining could be a point of contention.

Of course, most of us would just be angered and vent to family or friends after disembarking. But both of these passengers decided if they’re going to go at it over something so trivial, they should turn it up to eleven. The video shows the two passengers loudly arguing about who is in the right, and eventually a flight attendant tries to intervene. The woman posting the video claims the flight attendant asked her to stop the recording and offered the angry man an alcoholic beverage to calm down.

That should be the end of the story, but no such luck. Now the woman who posted the video is seeking legal action and plans to sue the punching man and the flight attendant. She adds that she has reported the incident to the FBI. To support her case, the woman claims she has had to have x-rays, suffers from headaches and has lost time from work.

The legal action is why people tell lawyer jokes. Parents with kids who kick their seats in cars are no stranger to the same issue as the lady posting this video. When’s the last time you heard one of these parents having headaches or missing work from their kids throwing these tantrums? I’ll admit the guy should have refrained from punching the seat and it wouldn’t have risen to this level. Even those who are angry in the moment about strangers’ behavior on planes usually find passive-aggressive ways to deal with it or as the cool conflict managers and elementary teachers instruct, “use their words” to solve problems.

I’m also probably the last person to weigh in on no space on airlines. I’m 5’6” so I don’t take up much space on planes anyways, so I’m not bothered, plus I’m pretty sure that airplane seats barely recline anyways. It’s not like automobile seats that recline to nearly 90o that end up on the laps of backseat passengers.

Regardless, civility and understanding are sorely missed in society nowadays. Airplane travelers need to be aware that other people are on the plane and realize those travelers might be a little stressed from early wakeups or long security checks too. Basically, if everyone could remember the lessons of kindergarten and respect others and their spaces, we’d be better off.

Should the lady who posted the video been more understanding?