CINCO DE MAYO

Tomorrow, many of us will eat tacos and enchiladas and drink margaritas in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Typically, most Americans have no idea of the significance of the holiday. They may assume that it is some religious festival or has something to do with Mexico’s independence from Spain. That would be wrong and wrong.

Back in 1861 France invaded Mexico. Napoleon III, the ruler of France at the time, correctly perceived that Mexico was “ripe for the picking.”  The Mexican-American War of 1846-48 had virtually bankrupted the country. The US was distracted by its impending Civil War and thus, unable to oppose France in Mexico. The other European powers, notably Spain and England, were not in the picture.

At first, the French, with their superior numbers, equipment and training, routed the Mexicans, but on May 5, 1862 the Mexicans surprisingly defeated the French decisively in a major battle near Puebla, halting their advance. The Civil War ended in 1865, and, thereafter, the US was able to assist Mexico. Eventually, the French needed their military assets at home to prepare to fight the Prussians [in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)], so they abandoned their plans to conquer Mexico and withdrew.

The battle at Puebla was significant for several reasons:

1. Though largely symbolic, this victory gave the Mexicans a much-needed infusion of patriotism and national pride.
2. Since then, no country in the Americas has been invaded successfully by a European country.
3. Most importantly for the US, many historians believe that France’s ultimate goal was to enable the South to break away from the North. Mexico could have been used as a military base from which France could have funneled men and equipment to the Confederacy. If they had not been defeated at Puebla, who knows how far north their army would have pushed and who knows what military and political pressure they would have brought to bear against the US. Consequently, it can be posited that that victory helped preserve the Union.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated not only in Mexico, but also in many other countries. Cities in the US, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand and Japan hold festivals featuring Mexican music, food and drink and celebrating Mexican culture. Technically, Cinco de Mayo, though recognized as a day of celebration throughout Mexico, is not a national holiday, although it is a holiday in the State of Puebla. Throughout the country, the public schools are closed and many towns hold parades or re-enactments of the battle of Puebla. It should be noted that Cinco de Mayo is NOT to be confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16.

CONCLUSION

In another example of PC overreach, this year the University of New Hampshire has decided to call May 5 “Unity Day” instead of Cinco de Mayo.  Why?  Apparently, last year “some members of the Latino community” were “offended” when some students wore sombreros and ponchos.  They viewed that as “cultural appropriation.”  Well, boo hoo!  It’s not as if they painted offensive sayings or mocking cartoons.  Those actions did not rise to the level of, say, anti-Semitic scribblings on walls or fire-bombing synagogues.  THOSE are offensive, or worse.  Wearing sombreros and ponchos merely strikes me as students getting into the holiday spirit, not being mean-spirited.  Besides, I would wager that one could count the numbers of protestors on one hand.

Once again, we are all being subjected to the tyranny of the vocal minority.  I have to say that when I was in college if the administration came out with an inane suggestion like that, a bunch of us would have made sure to parade through the campus wearing sombreros and ponchos dancing the Mexican hat dance.  Times have sure changed, and not for the better.

Someone should inform these protestors and the university’s administrators, for that matter, that Cinco de Mayo is a great source of pride for people of Mexican descent, as well it should be.  It commemorates a significant military victory over a better-equipped, numerically superior force. As denoted above, the victory held historical significance not only for Mexico but for the US as well. In my opinion, if the administration wants to hold a “Unity Day” to foster better race and cultural relations, fine, but do it on some random day.

So, tomorrow, when you raise a glass of Tequila or dig into an order of guacamole give a toast to the brave men of Puebla.  And, if you want to wear a sombrero or a poncho, by all means, do so.

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TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

Should President Trump be impeached?  That question has been percolating among Americans virtually since the day after he was elected.  It didn’t matter what he did or what he said, they wanted him out, even before he was inaugurated.  Voter fraud, collusion, any “trumped up” charge would do.

According to most polls about 40% of the electorate are in favor of impeachment. As one would expect, the issue is extremely divisive: about 70% of African Americans and Dems are in favor, compared to only 30% of whites.  Hispanics and women are virtually split.

Let’s examine the situation.  Although I am a Trump supporter I will endeavor to be objective.

First of all, it is important to understand what impeachment is, what are the criteria for it and what the procedure is.  I maintain that few of us who are not constitutional lawyers have the foggiest idea of the answers to those questions, which, to me, casts doubt on the validity of those aforementioned polls.

  1. Basically, impeachment is the process by which certain officeholders can be removed.  In this case we are discussing the possible impeachment of the President.
  2. The constitution lays out the procedure.  Firstly, the House of Representatives, brings charges, aka the articles of impeachment.  Passage would be by a simple majority of those present and voting. Passage means the President has been impeached, but it does not mean he is removed, not by a long shot.  It is merely the first step, much like an indictment in a criminal case.
  3. The Senate then tries the President.  The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over the trial.  Conviction (and removal) requires a 2/3 vote.
  4. The constitution spells out the grounds for impeachment as “treason, bribery, or other ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ ”  It does not clarify what exactly constitutes a “high crime and misdemeanor,” but in 1970 then-House Minority Leader, Gerald R. Ford famously opined that an impeachable offense is “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”  Some examples would be perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets or dereliction of duty.

Only two presidents have ever been impeached, and neither was convicted. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for violating the Tenure of Office Act.  (This law, which was annulled in 1887, restricted the authority of the President to remove certain officeholders without Senate approval.)  Remember, Johnson, who was very unpopular, had been elected vice president, not president, and had succeeded to the presidency upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  Although a simple majority of the Senate (35 – 19) voted for conviction it fell one vote short of the required 2/3 majority, so Johnson was acquitted.

President Clinton was impeached in 1998 on the grounds of perjury and obstruction of justice.  He was also acquitted.

CONCLUSION

The “bar” set by the constitution is very high and deservedly so.  Overturning the will of the voters in a legal election should NOT be undertaken lightly.

Furthermore, you will note that the grounds for impeachment DO NOT INCLUDE disliking the President or his policies.  I would “bet the farm” that a large majority of those voting in the aforementioned polls do not understand the process or the criteria, and many of them did not even deign to vote in 2016.

Roughly half of the country dislikes Mr. Trump intensely.  Fine.   In my opinion, much of their animus has been fueled by an extremely biased media and an opposition that 18 months later still cannot believe how they could have possibly lost the 2016 election.  But, that doesn’t matter now.  There are no “do-overs.” Mr. Trump won fair and square, and the constitution does not consider disliking an officeholder to be grounds for impeachment.

In my opinion, if we had impeached every president who was unlikeable, personally, or a womanizer very few presidents would have been able to serve out their terms.  Think back through history, and tell me I am wrong.  My message to Trump-haters is get over it and work harder to vote him out of office in 2020.