It’s Time For Answers Instead Of Just More Questions.

Often on my social media I pose questions or point out an issue to inspire thought and discussion instead of just preaching my own viewpoints at you.

This WordPress blog page is reserved for those instances where I want to take a deeper dive into an issue and put forth my own thoughts in more detail that social media allows.

Today, I’m going to provide some answers to questions I have been asking and issues I have been pointing out for quite some time.

At the beginning of this month, I posted this message on my Facebook page:

It included a link to a series of articles by David MIlls published through Medium.

I implored people to read it them.

Please do so if you haven’t. David Mills provides us one of the more important pieces of our discussions on how to recognize the problems holding us back with our #Culturalinertia and begin to address them to force change as we progress forward.

If we could wave a magic wand and somehow make it so nobody in America ever again had a racist thought, we still wouldn’t have ended the ongoing impact of four centuries of racism embedded in our history and culture nor how it affects us today or in the future.

Similarly, giving every Black person any amount of reparations that the government might someday approve isn’t going to put an end to those policies.

Sadly; however, we can’t even take that magical step.

So, what can we really do, now, to start to make a difference?

Exposure and Removal

First and foremost, we must continue to aggressively remove people who expose themselves as racist, or bigoted in any way, from any and all positions of power and influence over the lives of those they hate and/or fear.

Second we need to redefine the concept of reparations and start making good on them.

Reparations — Redefined

To do this, we must begin to reverse the damage created by generations of societal segregation and redlining.

Investopedia explains:

The term “redlining” was coined by sociologist James McKnight in the 1960s and derives from how lenders would literally draw a red line on a map around the neighborhoods they would not invest in based on demographics alone. Black inner-city neighborhoods were most likely to be redlined. Investigations found that lenders would make loans to lower-income whites but not to middle- or upper-income African Americans.

——

Indeed, in the 1930s the federal government began redlining real estate, marking “risky” neighborhoods for federal mortgage loans on the basis of race. The result of this redlining in real estate could still be felt decades later. In 1997 homes in the redlined neighborhoods were worth less than half that of the homes in what the government had deemed as “best” for mortgage lending, and that disparity has only grown greater in the last two decades.

——

Examples of redlining can be found in a variety of financial services, including not only mortgages but also student loans, credit cards, and insurance. Although the Community Reinvestment Act was passed in 1977 to put an end to all redlining practices, critics say the discrimination still occurs. For example, redlining has been used to describe discriminatory practices by retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online. Reverse redlining is the practice of targeting neighborhoods (mostly nonwhite) for products and services that are priced higher than the same services in areas with more competition.

Federal Minimum Wage

Reversing this starts with setting a standard federal minimum wage tied to the inflation rate that maintains a living wage for a single worker working a full time job.

Universal Heath Care

The next step is moving to a universal single payer health care eliminating the need for employment secured health insurance. This can be accomplished by eliminating corporate loop holes in the tax code and having companies pay appropriate taxes and wages while not being responsible for securing and covering massive employee (and family) health insurance expenses. The people would immediately have more “disposable income” to return to the local economy, personal savings, and investments if they were no longer dealing with the massive personal expenses of their insurance premiums, deductibles, and copays.

Community Reinvestment

Another important step would be identifying the maps used for redlining (which also served as the basis for gerrymandering voting districts) and under funding school systems) and directing efforts to those same areas and neighborhoods to incentivize residents in that area receiving mortgage, home improvement, and vehicle loans, as well as small business loans for businesses in the community serving the needs of the community and run by residents of it.

All these maps still exist.

An interactive site from “Mapping Inequality” takes scores of Home Owners’ Loan Corporation maps — previously accessible only in person at the Archives or in scanned images posted piecemeal online — and embeds them on a single map of the USA. Selecting a city reveals the old map images; zooming in shows a color overlay over a modern map with street names and building outlines.

NPR

Equitable Public Education

Then we need to invest in the school systems in those previous redlined communities to bring them up to the same standards and availability of resources as those in surrounding areas. This would require a city’s educational funding to be distributed equitably based upon number of students and teachers required, not on property tax values in an individual school district.

Amended 13th Amendment

Section 1 of the 13th Amendment needs to be amended from:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

To simply:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Repeal Jim Crow

Along with this, all Jim Crow laws must be officially repealed and removed from the city, county, state, national ordinances.

Criminal Justice Audit

Logically, it would be necessary to end racial disparity in sentencing of crimes as well. An annual independent audit of sentencing disparities and automatic immediate correction of anything inappropriate for each judge would be a good place to start with that, as well as required disciplinary actions up to and including disbarment for judges who are repeat offenders. [See Exposure And Removal above.]

Demilitarize The Police

Finally, this brings us to what we can do about unjust policing.

Demilitarize police and end warrior training programs for them.

Routine independent review of body camera footage with appropriate disciplinary action for any abuse of power. A full body cam audit for any officer found to have committed an infraction during routine review.

The creation of a national database and its mandatory use by all law enforcement in the US identifying any officer fired for abuse of power or racially/bigoted misconduct as ineligible for rehire at any force.

Decriminalize a large number of offenses in which no person or property is damaged, commute sentences and/or pardon convictions for those already imprisoned for such offenses.

Treat drug addiction and mental health issues as health care problems instead of policing problems. Redistributed funds police departments had earmarked for such things and their militarization to community enrichment programs, trained mental health first responders, homelessness, rehabilitation centers, and other outreach programs.

Require all officers to carry professional liability insurance just like every other profession entrusted with the lives and welfare of others.

Eliminate qualified immunity and union protection for malpractice and abuse of power.

Fire as many polices officers as necessary and then hire and train properly to end the Organized Crime mentality within many police forces. Reward those officers who come forward to report problems within their ranks as the community heroes they are, instead of allowing their careers to be ruined and treating them as “rats” to be ostracized and removed or exterminated.

If we can accomplish these things we will not have eradicated racism, nor will we have made up for 400 years of slavery and oppression. But we will have laid the foundation for a much more equitable and peaceful future less influenced by them and placed everyone on the path toward it.

Sad, Hard, Brutal Truth

Fair warning, this is the kind of political post that results in everyone being mad at me and private message hate mail from both sides filling up my inbox. but it needs to be said.

Republicans are accusing Democrats of being hypocritical on their support of sexual assault victims because they’re not being more supportive of Tara Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden, while aggressively demanding Trump answer for the massive collection of allegations against him.


Democrats are accusing Republicans of being hypocritical in demanding Biden step down from the Presidential nomination and face charges while dismissing far more, and more recent, allegations against Trump.

For the most part they are both right.

For a moment, lets set aside the fact that Trump has openly admitted on many occasions in live audio and video interviews and recordings that he is an unrepentant habitual sexual predator. We’ll come back to that.

Let’s also set aside, for a moment, that opening learning that Ms. Reade had filed a formal complaint with the Senate committee back when the alleged Biden incidents occurred, he asked for all the reports and investigative documents from it to be produced now for review. We’ll come back to that.

Let’s also, for a moment, set aside the argument over whether Ms. Reade’s specific allegations are “credible” or not. We’ll come back to that. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape are serious allegations and should be properly investigated when claimed.

Our society has a history of re-victimizing, terrorizing, and traumatizing those who do come forth, (male and female, adults and children) and our internal mechanisms have a way of screwing up our own memories of trauma, so it isn’t surprising that the “story” of the incident changes over time.

This is why every case should be properly and thoroughly investigated to determine if there is merit to it, and if so, what legal action is appropriate in response. Regardless of the age, gender, sexual identity, political affiliation, marital status, religion, citizenship status, etc…. of the victim or the accused.

However, until proven, it also shouldn’t end the career of the accused, especially when the probability of an ulterior motive for the allegations is readily apparent. This doesn’t mean the the allegation should be dismissed, merely that the investigation needs to be thorough in all its aspects.


Democrats were quick to turn on Al Franken when it would have been politically expedient and beneficial for them to defend him.

Republicans have been quick to attack victims at every opportunity accusing any of their own, they essentially put Dr. Christine Blasey Ford through a public federal trial and deconstruction of her life for daring to speak about her experiences with (now) Justice Kavanaugh. They made up every possible excuse to disregard evidence and avoid any real investigative inquiry into the credibility of her allegations.

Now, we must add the historical and continuing problem of sexual assault allegations being disregarded by authorities and poorly investigated as a whole, especially when the accused is a prominent and powerful, or the victim is a person of color and the accused is White. Or worse, all of that. Knowing this, we must often accept the fact that justice will not be attained through our legal system, and we must rely upon investigative journalism to root out and expose the truth as best it can.

Then we must rely on the public society to make a collective decision of the merits. But to properly do that, they have to know the credibility of their news sources and vet the data.

The victims then have the option of civil court to gain some semblance of justice and retribution. In the case of celebrities, the pubic can turn them from famous A-listers to infamous has-beens almost overnight.

In the case of politicians, we are left with the ballot box as our last means of speaking out against them and their actions.

So, lets come back to those three things we set aside. I don’t know if Tara Reade’s accusations hold merit or not, I do believe they are credible complaints of sexual harassment, at the least, and possible sexual assault at the worst. And if guilty Biden should be held accountable, and if not it shouldn’t prevent him from pursuing the presidency, regardless of how we feel about him as an actual candidate.


We should be more inclined to believe the more serious collection of allegations against Trump, Not because the victims are actually more credible, but because of Trump’s own oft confessed and extremely well documented and publicized history of sexual predator behavior.

No level or rank or authority or fame should shield a person for the consequences of being guilty of this behavior, but unproven allegations also shouldn’t end their career.

The accuser should be given the benefit of the doubt and their claim investigated. The accused should be given the benefit of the doubt as to their guilt until there is sufficient reason to do otherwise. And then the punishment should be appropriate.

If your morals are situational and can be suspended for personal benefit, they’re not actual morals, but emotional weapons.

We aren’t likely to see any kind of justice levied against Trump or Biden if they are guilty, so we’re stuck with having to evaluate the information available and making the best informed decision we can.


So, do some research between now and November and make a choice.

Understand though, no matter what you decide, no matter who you vote for, as long as both of these men are alive come inauguration day, one of them is going to be president. There is no aspect of their lives, not even this one even if they are both actually guilty of what they have been accused, in which they can be seen as equally dangerous or problematic over the next 4 years.

A third party vote for a non-viable candidate, and a refusal to vote at all, are both in reality a vote cast in favor of letting decades of Republican gerrymandering, voter suppression efforts, and the problematic Electoral College decide for us, which we will be stuck with.

And I can guarantee that we will all end up feeling assaulted with no recourse of justice if we leave the decision up to them.

No Excuses

It is imperative that, this November, you remember that the first reported case of COVID-19 occurred in China in mid-November of 2019. A few months prior the Trump administration had terminated the position of the CDC doctor embedded with China’s version of the CDC to provide us with an early warning of any outbreaks there. This was after disbanding all of the people and protocols that President Obama had put in place to deal with such pandemic outbreaks during the early states of the Ebola epidemic. It was also after cutting funding to the CDC and diverting much of it’s remaining funding toward an idiotic border wall.

U.S. Intelligence officials were aware of the outbreak in China and began briefing Trump in December of last year, but he; himself, admits that he doesn’t give credence to their agencies nor does he read all of their briefing reports.

You can be sure that when Trump was briefed, so were the House and Senate intelligence, foreign affairs, and commerce committees. Yet the Republicans on those committees continued repeating Trump’s lies and dismissals to conservative media audiences.

In January, major American retailers began taking note of the situations developing with their supply chains in China. H.E.B, one of our nation’s leading grocery chains, began preparing then for what they expected to become a national shelter in place order similar to the regional quarantines already starting in Wuhan and other regions of China at that time.

The first case of COVID-19 was reported in the U.S. on January 20, of this year.

Still our government would do nothing.

Trump would spend the following two months downplaying it and decrying it as a hoax and partisan diversion instead of handling it.

As Americans continue to suffer and die due to this illness, and others experience loss of income and economic devestation due to our delays in responding appropriately as well as the malevolent incompetence of our presidential administration, Trump is playing games with their lives, demanding fealty from opposition party governors before helping the citizens of the nation as a whole.

First he told them to get their own medical supplies, then he outbid them for those same supplies with federal funds so he could control which states could and could not get them based on whether their governors openly support or oppose his politics and policies.

Now it is March 29th, and this is where we are at:

Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

The fact that New York is home to nearly half of the United States’ reported COVID-19 infections is not so much an indication of them as a “hot spot” of illness but of testing.

Realtime states at: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

With that lack of testing across the rest of the nation, the U.S. is still averaging 374 infections per million people of population and 7 deaths per million. And those are just with the cases we have tested and reported.

The respective global averages are 86.9 and 4.1.

We are nearly double the global average death rate and quadruple the global average infection rate based on available testing data.

Realtime stats at: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

That is a failure of both a populace that refuses to comply for the common good and a for profit health care system.

Dealing with it doesn’t have to tank our national economy, that is a failure of a system we have accepted despite being based on feudal lords and Robber Barons.

This pandemic, and our response (or lack thereof) to it, is trying to teach us some important #Culturalinertia lessons.

Will we be willing to learn them and change direction as we come out of the stall, or will we just start ourselves right back down the same path, racing blindly and unprepared toward the next preventable crisis?

As a start, if you are still alive in November of this year, you better damn well find a way to vote. Not just for the office of president, but for every position at every level of government. Everyone involved in protecting, enabling, or participating in this malevolent incompetence must be removed from any positions of power over the lives of the rest of us.

Who Deserves Your Presidential Primary Vote?

Image Source: Getty Images

The Nevada Democratic party presidential debate was held on Wednesday Night, February 2020.

It was clear that few of the candidates made any significant new policy statements to sway anyone to change who they are supporting, with the exception of Bloomberg. He blew the debate in several ways, most importantly showing he can’t hold his own on the debate stage against a much milder version of attack than Trump will be throwing at the final candidate in the general election later this year. The Republicans will tear him apart in that campaign now that they know he is incapable of responding without a production crew and script writers propping him up and polishing it all in post production before the public sees it.

The remainder of the candidates on stage spent more of their time attacking each other’s policy stances and history than explaining their own, because at this point they have all already explained those as well as they intend to.

The most important thing for any non-Republican primary voter to consider is that regardless of policy stances, if the current Senate majority is not flipped, not one of these candidates will get any of their plans pushed through Congressional approval, and that means everything they hope to accomplish will have to be accomplished by Executive Order.

So the questions we must answer are:

Which candidate has the best chance of drawing enough disenfranchised voters back to the polls to defeat Trump in November, especially in the traditionally politically red and purple states with the most vital electoral college votes?

And,

Which candidate will inspire enough general election voter turnout to swing the Senate majority and defeat other Republican Trump supporting candidates further down ballot in the House, Governor’s races, and local elections.

Based on all current polling the progressive and moderate voters are divided nearly equally among the six current candidates, each will eventually coalesce behind two specific candidates much like in 2016.

So, instead of endorsing a specific candidate based on my views, here we will explore the best for you to vote for based upon your own views.

If you are a progressive liberal, your choice is between Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Either candidate will have the entire corporate lobby political infrastructure working overtime against them in favor of Trump if they win the party nomination. Sanders also carries the heavy political baggage of the willful ignorance of most American voters when it comes to an understanding of the Democratic Socialism label he has given himself. However, he is a massive draw for voters under the age of 40. Warren though, will be a bigger draw for female empowerment voters, especially those wanting to send a message against Trump’s incessant misogyny.

If you are more of an establishment moderate, Amy Klobuchar is your best bet. She has a proven track record of success in Republican states with far less of the earned and unearned political negative baggage that Biden carries along with him. She will also have the female vote support in general election for the same reasons mentioned above for Warren. Biden, deserving or not, has been damaged with those disenfranchised voters by Trump’s attacks, his own background of patriarchal misogyny, and guilt by association for all the closeted racists. To make matters worse, he exudes the same sense of entitlement that so badly damaged the Clinton campaign in 2016.

If you are a Democratic Corporatist, Pete Buttigieg is your most viable alternative. He has the corporate backers and he has the ability to remain calm and stoic under attack. His primary drawback will be inspiring homophobic voters to turn out for the down ballot races. As much as that shouldn’t be an issue, it is dangerously naive to believe it won’t be.

If you are a disenfranchised Republican that isn’t a homophobic, racist, toxic misogynist, then Buttigieg is still your best bet.

If you are a disenfranchised Republican that does have homophobic, racist, or toxic misogyny tendencies then your only choice from the six candidates on that debate stage would be Mike Bloomberg.

Regardless of whether your preferred candidate wins the primary or not, if you want to put an end to Trump, his policies, his criminality and crimes against humanity, and those that enable and protect him. You must not only show up and vote for the candidate that did win, you must also vote all those down ballot races. And you need to encourage others to do the same.

Finally, just so they are not left out, if you still identify as a Republican voter, your primary choice has been predetermined for you, but if you want to overcome your party’s de-evolution into morally bankrupt criminality and treasonous actions, clear those incumbents out of the down ballot races.

The Trump/DeVos Illusion of Choice

There was a moment in Trump’s 2020 State of the Union that specifically deeply bothered me as a parent concerned for the future of our nation.
I have until this point refrained from discussing it because I wanted to fully evaluate and organize my thoughts on the situation prior to putting them forth here.

sotu
With the additional information presented in this article I have the final piece I need to give you a more informed explanation of why I took issue with it.
“Janiyah and Stephanie are in the gallery this evening,” Trump said. “But there is more to their story. Janiyah, I am pleased to inform you that your long wait is over. I can proudly announce tonight that an Opportunity Scholarship has become available, it is going to you, and you will soon be heading to the school of your choice.”
During the speech Trump used the moment to create the optics of granting a young girl of color an educational scholarship with the pretense of proving he is not racist and that the government is helping people of color, just prior to giving one of our nations most infamous and politically influential racists the Medal of Freedom.
We now know; however, that it truly was just manufactured optics and not anything to actually benefit this young woman or anyone else. That was the final piece I was missing.
Trump stood there as part of his state of the union attacking the public school system which he called “Government schools.” Instead of putting five billion dollars into the federal funding of those schools, the quality of which the government is directly responsible, he announced that they would put that money toward selectively helping certain kids opt out of the public school system for privatized schools.
They are not going to help this young girl get a quality education nor are they intending to use the selective government funding (created to undermine the governmental educational system) to pay for what they did offer her.
Instead the Secretary of Education is going to personally pay for a single year of her education after which she and her family will have to find a way to continue paying on their own or she will have to return to those underfunded “government schools.” All this, while funneling a significant portion of that aforementioned five billion dollar government program into the private school system in which DeVos is personally, privately invested.

charter
Source: New York Times

Trump and DeVos are not offering a choice of education. They are taking direct steps to continue under-funding and devaluing public school education in order to pilfer the government funds they created under the pretense of offering a choice. In order to do so they are putting their racism on open display by using a false display of helping a youth of color with the intent of discarding her once her usefulness has been served. The end result is creating an educational system where all funding and quality is out of the reach of the masses and available only to those with the money and resources to buy their way in and the favored few they personally select to elevate and separate from the rest. They are making every effort to keep the rest of those masses they consider undesirable and unworthy under-educated so they won’t have the ability to develop the resources needed to rise up, resist, demand and force change.

Enough!

It’s time to put some things in perspective.

As I write this, at 12:30 p.m. eastern time on August 4, it is the 216th day of 2019.

Based on the statistics at the Gun Violence Archive this is where we stand right now:

gva2019

So, lets do some averaging to put things in perspective.

So far this year America has maintained:

  • A rate of 153 incidents gun related incidents per day.
  • Over 40 gun related deaths per day.
  • In excess of 80 gun related injuries per day.
  • Nearly 2 daily deaths or injuries of children between the ages of birth and 11 years old by guns.
  • More than 9 daily deaths or injuries of children between the ages of 12 and 17 due to guns.
  • More than one daily mass shooting even with 4 or more victims — not including the shooter — injured or killed by gunfire.
  • Nearly 1 officer involved shooting daily that results in the injury or death of a police officer.
  • More than 5 officer involved shootings per day that result in the injury or death of a suspect.
  • More than 5 uses of a fire arm during a home invasion each day.
  • Over 4 defensive uses of a fire arm daily.
  • More than 4 unintentional discharges of a fire arm daily.

Keep in mind, that these tallies only include those incidents that were reported and verifiable.

Here are some definitions for their methodology:

methodology

Now, let’s also take a look at more than one year. The folks at Gun Violence Archive have been keeping these tallies since 2014.

gunviolence

So, in just over 5.5 years, the United States has experienced:

  • 309,626 gun related incidents
  • 80,233 deaths as a result of gun violence.
  • The injury or deaths of 19,814 children aged 17 and under due to gun violence.
  • 1,923 mass shooting events resulting in the injury or death of at least 4 people not including the shooter.
  • The injury or death of 1,598 polices officers in officer involved shooting incidents.
  • 10,967 suspects injured or killed by police gun fire.
  • 13,293 uses of a firearm during a home invasion.
  • A defensive use of a firearm 9,798 times.
  • 10,386 unintentional discharges of a firearm.

Enough is enough.

Of all the wars the United States has been involved in since its foundation only the American Civil War and two World Wars have claimed more American lives than we have sacrificed in just the last five and half years by our refusal to well-regulate our gun ownership rights.

We could solve it if we wanted to. So, why don’t we want to?

It would not be difficult for a nation with our resources and technological capabilities to:

 

  1. Properly interpret the entire text of the 2nd Amendment.

  2. Properly regulate and enforce that interpretation with laws that would make it harder for criminals, mentally ill people, domestic abusers, and unattended minors to easily gain access to them. Training requirements, annual registration, licenses, etc…

  3. Properly treat all racist rhetoric as hate speech and all acts of overt racism as hate crimes and/or acts of terrorism.

  4. Properly investigate and punish perpetrators of domestic violence.

 

 
The fact that a Venn Diagram depicting people strongly against doing these has a massive intersection with very little room for outliers not in support of all of it, should tell us much about their motivations and reasoning.
 
It wouldn’t be difficult to draw the conclusion that they want to not only protect racial hatred but to use it, and the ready availability of such weapons, as a tool to stoke and fuel racial violence.
 
If so, it wouldn’t be difficult to draw the conclusion that low level support of such things is offered because they want to cull the population of people of color and terrorize the remainder as well as the women subjected to domestic violence into subservient submission. Nor that the high level support is to use the resulting violent hate crimes, and the inevitable violent backlash against it as means of escalating police state enforcement over the general populace to “crack down on the violence” without addressing the actual problem.
 
None of these problems is actually difficult for us to truly address as a society, if we as a society choose to do so.
 
Instead we have endless debates over semantics and the intentions of long dead politicians and statesmen.

 

In regards to the 1st Amendment:

 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

 

 

As explained on the Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute site explains:

 

The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition.  It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices.  It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.  It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.   

 

As I wrote in October of 2016, “Freedom of Speech ≠ Consequence Free Speech”

 

The 1st Amendment protects you from governmental persecution, prosecution, incarceration, or execution in order to silence your message.

It does not guarantee you a platform from which to speak. You are not entitled to have your words mass distributed by a social media or news outlet. You are not entitled to a microphone or news camera to extend the reach of your words. You cannot force people to listen to your message.

It does not prevent an employer from terminating your employment if they do not want to have their business or professional reputation associated with the opinions and words you are expressing.

It does not protect you from public ridicule, ostracization, or rebuttal in response to the words and opinions you express.

 

Nowhere does it protect the right to espouse hate speech or the use of it as a shield for stochastic terrorism to incite violence without personal consequence.  That is an interpretation we have allowed to embed itself within our own cultural inertia to the point that we don’t recognize how much it is harming us to cling to it any more.

 

This brings us to the 2nd Amendment:

 

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

 

Every modern interpretation of this amendment to our constitution completely ignores the first thirteen words it includes and their relevance to the entire right as outlined.

 

Make no mistake, there is currently nothing at all well regulated about American gun ownership or American militias.   In point of fact, those private militias are one of our greatest sources of large scale gun violence as domestic terrorism and the source of radicalization of many of the perpetrators.

 

As ‘Frontline’ for PBS reported in 2012, “while conventional wisdom suggests that an individual’s right to bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the Constitution, it is, in fact, a relatively recent interpretation.”

 

It really started to change with the rise of the modern conservative movement in the ’70s and ’80s. You had Ronald Reagan, Edwin Meese, who was his attorney general, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in the Senate, really making a very sustained argument that the courts had misunderstood the Second Amendment for hundreds of years, and the NRA was an indispensable partner in this moment. And it became the conservative conventional wisdom that the Second Amendment gave an individual the right to bear arms.

1977 is really a key moment here, because that’s when the National Rifle Association went from being a largely apolitical gun-safety organization to a mobilized political operation that was dedicated to fighting gun control. … It both reflected and reinforced the growing conservatism of the Republican Party generally.

 

We would be well advised to remember one this statement from one of the key writers of our nation’s founding documents.  As Thomas Jefferson said:

 

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

 

This is exactly why the ability to amend and ratify our Constitution as our society evolved beyond the vision of the document’s authors was included for us to use when necessary.

 

So, what is it about our Cultural Inertia that forces us to cling to such mindsets that are so obviously harmful to huge swaths of our society?  

 

Is our cultural acceptance of racism and rape culture so deeply embedded that we are willing to pretend that the practice of them are protected constitutional rights that outweighs the rights of the victims?

 

What line would actually have to be crossed before you, personally, have had enough and start advocating and working toward shifting the cultural inertia in the right direction?

Interview with Chris Johnson

On Saturday, July 20, 2019 Chris Johnson interviewed me for his internet radio show “MSR After Dark” which airs on markskinradio.

At least a few people who missed the show due to short notice have expressed interest in hearing it, and Chris was kind enough to make the audio available for us.

The interview was scheduled to run for about 15 minutes, but as we talked Chris was kind enough to let the segment run long, the full interview aired for roughly 45 minutes.

In it we discuss the origins and purpose of my Facebook page and blog, my obsession with pointing out how to recognize and overcome various aspects of the #culturalinertia we sometimes unknowingly cling to that prevents progress and improvement, the dangers of #stochasticterrorism (a phrase we both managed to mispronounce), and a good bit of the news of the day including touching on some politics here and there.

I hope you enjoy it and come join our discussions on Facebook.

I will attempt to give more notice the next time an interview occurs.

The Most Important Thing We’re Not Talking About

Stochastic Terrorism

 

In January of 2011, writing for the Daily KOS, a blogger known as G2Geek first coined the phrase.

He defined the term as:

 

“the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.”

 

The remainder of the article explains at length how this applies especially to the myth of the “lone wolf” terrorist, and has since been updated to include some clarification.

 

“The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.

 

One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act.   While their action may have been statistically predictable (e.g. ‘given the provocation, someone will probably do such-and-such’), the specific person and the specific act are not predictable (yet).

The stochastic terrorist then has plausible deniability: ‘Oh, it was just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I’m not responsible for what people in my audience do.’

 

The lone wolf who was the ‘missile’ gets captured and sentenced to life in prison, while the stochastic terrorist keeps his prime time slot and goes on to incite more lone wolves. “

 

In 2015, Valerie Tarico, a psychologist and writer from Seattle, Wash., further breaks down how the process works and declares it “perversely brilliant,” as she explains how “Chirstianist Republicans Systematically Incited Colorado Clinic Assault” on a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Using her article as a baseline, Reverb Press extrapolated for their own December 2015 article.

 

(1) A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons.


(2)
 With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous—arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.\


(3)
 Violent images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past “purges” against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language—all of these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.

(4) When violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence condemn it—claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the “tragedy.”

 

Time and again we see this play out.

We saw it from the manifesto of Dylann Roof explaining why he opened fire in the historically African-American Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

We saw it when InfoWars and the conservative press pushed the blatantly false “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory resulting in an armed man showing up a restaurant with the intention to serve “justice” himself.

We see it regularly with the increase in hate crimes throughout the United States as a direct result of the Republican — particularly Donald Trump — use of hate speech and violent rhetoric against people of color and their embrace of the American “Alt-Right” and its base of modern American neo-Nazi and Confederate “Lost Cause” racists as well as violent “incels.

We see it in the remarkable frequency with which Fox News incites its viewers to violence.

We saw it again last night as the President continued his practice of whipping his willfully ignorant fan base into frenzied levels of uninformed outrage with his incessant verbal assault on the media culminating in one of his supporters attacking a BBC cameraman at the event.

At this moment Stochastic terrorism is the single greatest National Security threat to the lives and safety of the American people.

Until we hold those accountable for inciting it as responsible as those that ultimately commit the crimes that were incited it will remain so.

No wall we can build will reduce to it.

But incessant hate-filled White Nationalism rhetoric from those with power and broadcast access will continue to increase it.

 

 

A Bold Agenda

Whether you support or dislike Bernie Sanders, look beyond the fact that he wrote this and evaluate the actual plan presented.

United States Senator Bernie Sanders wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post on Wednesday outlining a plan for the incoming Congress, his major point being that the incoming Democrats and Progressives along with the remaining incumbents to have an well defined policy plan to aggressively pursue over the next few years, especially with their new found party influence at the state level in many traditionally conservative states.

I’ve pulled out the actual plan itself and added some additional commentary below.

Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and indexing it to median wage growth thereafter. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage that must be increased to a living wage — at least $15 an hour. This would give more than 40 million Americans a raise and would generate more than $100 billion in higher wages throughout the country.
A path toward Medicare-for-all. The Medicare-for-all bill widely supported in the Senate has a four-year phase-in period on the way to guaranteeing health care for every man, woman and child. Over the first year, it would lower the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 55, cover dental, hearing and vision care for seniors, provide health care to every young person in the United States and lower the cost of prescription drugs.

These two items combined would increase annual household incomes dramatically for the vast majority of American families. Most companies would also save considerable money under this. Yes, higher wages would be a higher expense for companies, but not having to cover the cost of employee health care would certainly offset that for the vast majority. Household taxes would go up to cover the expenses, but what family wouldn’t pay an extra thousand or so a year in taxes to eliminate their annual insurance premiums which are considerably higher?

Prices might rise or jobs might be cut, but recent studies of areas that have already raised the wages considerably prove this far less likely than the conservatives would have us belief. Meanwhile, the economy would get a massive boost of readily usable funds in the hands of the people most likely to spend it, while still allowing them the opportunity to also increase their savings and investments.

There is also the fact that despite the high price tag on Medicare for All (or some other single payer health care system), the total is still trillions less than the amount the government actually spends on health insurance now.

Bold action to combat climate change. The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made it clear we have just 12 years to substantially cut the amount of carbon in our atmosphere, or our planet will suffer irreversible damage. Congress must pass legislation that shifts our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and renewable energy. We can lead the planet in combating climate change and, in the process, create millions of good paying jobs.

In addition CNN reveals that

A new US government report delivers a dire warning about climate change and its devastating impacts, saying the economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars — or, in the worst-case scenario, more than 10% of its GDP — by the end of the century.
The federally mandated study was supposed to come out in December but was released by the Trump administration on Friday, at a time when many Americans are on a long holiday weekend, distracted by family and shopping, [while the President simultaneously spent the same weekend issuing climate change denial messages on his official social media account.]
David Easterling, director of the Technical Support Unit at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, emphasized that there was “no external interference in the report’s development.” He added that the climate change the Earth is experiencing is unlike any other.

Climate change is already becoming a major factor in driving refugees, as coastal fresh water sources are compromised by rising tides and resources become more scarce, both intra and international migration of refugees will become a serious issue for every nation on Earth.

Fixing our broken criminal-justice system. We must end the absurdity of the United States having more people in jail than any other country on Earth. We must invest in jobs and education for our young people, not more jails and incarceration.

Ending the mass incarceration of our minority and lower income populations by profit driven prison systems using their outsourced labor to bypass labor laws, wage requirements, and benefit needs would return jobs to the economy, and end the driving factor behind the nations “need” to mass incarcerate.

Comprehensive immigration reform. The American people want to protect the young people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and to move toward comprehensive immigration reform for the more than 11 million people in our country who are undocumented. And that’s exactly what we should do.

We must get a handle on current migration as well as make a plan for the mass climate driven migration we know is coming as people move within and to our country en masse. Not having a viable plan will prove to be disastrous.

Also as a large amount of our workforce ages into retirement or, sadly, death, and our population hasn’t replenished at a rate sufficient to replace them, without an influx of immigrants to fill jobs, the economy will have no recourse other than to either downsize or further overburden workers with additional tasks.

Progressive tax reform. At a time of massive and growing inequality in both income and wealth, Congress must pass legislation which requires wealthy people and large corporations to begin paying their fair share of taxes. It is unacceptable that there are large, extremely profitable corporations in this country that do not pay a nickel in federal income taxes.

Along with the increased wages and shifting of the health care cost burden, revamping the corporate tax rates would eliminate the need for government programs to make up for the shortfall in corporate wages and health care plans just to make sure that their employees can survive. Food stamps, CHiP, Housing assistance, and more would all be greatly reduced as the vast majority of the population was elevated out of the income bracket requiring the need for such assistance programs.

A $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Every day, Americans drive to work on potholed roads and crumbling bridges, and ride in overcrowded buses and subways. Children struggle to concentrate in overcrowded classrooms. Workers are unable to find affordable housing. The structures that most Americans don’t see are also in disrepair — from spotty broadband and an outdated electric grid, to toxic drinking water and dilapidated levees and dams. Congress should pass a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to address these needs while creating up to 15 million good-paying jobs in the process.

Repairing and updating our infrastructure would secure jobs nation wide, improve overall health (better water and energy systems), decrease the transit costs of delivering goods, improve ecological conditions as more could and would opt for better mass transit options, and make more jobs more accessible to more people through those mass transit improvements which would also create a larger talent pool for companies to hire from.

Lowering the price of prescription drugs. Americans pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs because, unlike other countries, the United States doesn’t directly regulate the price of medicine. The House should pass legislation to require Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices and allow patients, pharmacists and wholesalers to purchase low-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. It should also pass legislation to make sure that Americans don’t pay more for prescription drugs than citizens do in other major countries.

Fixed price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies as a result of a single payer health care system would dramatically lower prescription drug costs. Getting people the care and treatment they need will mean less sick days from work, a longer ability to work, and a society that can actually afford to focus more on preventative care instead of reactive management of illness.

Making public colleges and universities tuition-free and substantially reducing student debt. In a highly competitive global economy, we must have the best-educated workers in the world. Every young person in America, regardless of income, must have the opportunity to receive the education they need to get a decent job and make it into the middle class. The House should pass the College for All Act to make public colleges and universities tuition-free and substantially reduce student debt.

Again, we all know that terms like tuition free do not actually equate to free. It means that we as a society work together to make education freely available. I personally believe that this should not just mean college though but trade-skill and skilled labor schools. I would also like to see apprenticeship programs for many of those skilled labor professions that pay the apprentice for work performed as an alternative to college or trade-skill for those that want to pursue such options.

This combination would mean that everyone from every income level would have equal opportunity to achieve their personal goals and be a greater individual contributor to society without having to incur massive personal or family debt in the process of just getting started.

Expanding Social Security. When 1 out of 5 seniors is trying to get by on less than $13,500 a year, we must expand Social Security so that every American can retire with dignity and security. The House should pass legislation to expand Social Security benefits and extend its solvency for the next 60 years by requiring that the wealthiest Americans — those making more than $250,000 a year — pay their fair share of Social Security taxes.

The only reason social security is at risk for not being solvent is that conservatives have been finding reasons to raid the funds for other purposes for decades with no intent to ever replenish/repay them.

This is not an entitlement program. This is an insurance plan that people have been paying the premiums on for their entire adult lives, and now the benefits that they’ve paid for are being stripped from the most vulnerable of them.

As Senator Sanders makes clear in his op-ed:

It is not good enough for Democrats to just be the anti-Trump party. If they want to keep and expand their majority in the House, take back the Senate and win the White House, Democrats must show the American people that they will aggressively stand up and fight for the working families of this country — black, white, Latino, Asian American or Native American, men and women, gay or straight. This means addressing the crisis of a broken criminal-justice system and reforming inhumane immigration policies. But it also means fighting to expand a middle class that has been disappearing for more than 40 years, reducing inequality in both income and wealth — which has disproportionately hurt African Americans and Hispanics — and aggressively combating climate change, the most urgent threat facing our planet.

We need a bold agenda.

A Bold agenda requires bold leadership.