Buckle Up, The Rest of This Ride Is Over Some Dangerous Terrain.

We are 100 days from November 3rd, and it is imperative that Donald Trump is removed from office. During the next 100 days he, his administration, and the Republican party will be pulling out all the corrupt and authoritarian measures possible to ensure their reelection and retention of power.

We must prepare ourselves for that, but we must also begin to prepare ourselves for what comes next. If we fail to show up and not just vote to remove Trump from office but to overwhelmingly repudiate the modern Republican platform and rhetoric on both local and national levels, they will see their reelection as not just a mandate to continue that but permission to escalate it further over the next 4 years.

We will quickly see the escalation into a Martial Law police state enforcing apartheid laws. If we do show up and repudiate them, we need to prepare for Trump and McConnell to unleash Hell upon Earth during what would normally be considered a “Lame Duck” session through the final three months of the administration’s official power.

With nothing left to lose, there will be nothing but the current House of Representatives to hold them back. And we need to be prepared for the possible necessity of a forcible transition of power for the first time since our system of government was established.

It would be bad enough if this were all happening under otherwise normal circumstances, but the fact that it will also be happening during both an avoidable health crisis and an avoidable economic crisis will increase the difficulty of navigating these issues by at least an order of magnitude.

These next 6 months will determine the future of our nation and a significant portion of the world for generations to come.

Racism Is More Pervasive Than You Think.

For today’s #Culturalinertia entry, I’d like to tell you not about systemic governmental racism, nor about individual racism, but about a pervasive form of societal racism.

This morning, I came across an article about a couple in California that the headline said “called the police on an Asian-American Doctor for visiting his parent,” because he didn’t look like he belonged in their neighborhood.

For the purposes of this discussion we’re going to acknowledge but not focus on the individual racism of the couple attempting to weaponize the police to terrorize and persecute a person of color for merely daring to exist within their line of sight. We’re also going to acknowledge but not focus on the amount of systemic governmental racism that must be in place for them to believe that would work and also actually be right.

What we are going to focus on is the description of the victim as Asian-American instead of just American, or just a doctor, while not using any color or racial terminology to similarly classify the couple as White; which they were.

As a related aspect of this discussion I have often been asked why I use “Black” instead of “African-American” when talking about Black people of color who are also Americans.

We’ll address the simplest piece first.

When using a color, such as white or black, to specify an entire grouping of people, always capitalize the first letter to indicate it is a people you are referring to and not a simple inanimate object. There are White, Black, and Brown people when discussing them categorically.

A few decades back there was a push by supposedly well meaning White people to end the overt individual racism displayed by using openly insulting racial terminology which led to identifying American people of color with a qualifier that specified their ethnicity while also using it to explain why they couldn’t be considered just actual full Americans without a qualifier. African-American (for all Black people), Native American (for the collective tribal nations), Asian-Americans (for all people of Asian descent), Hispanic-Americans (for all Americans of Hispanic heritage), and so on. There was never a need though, according to those White people to identify as White Americans. They had already established themselves as the base model of Americans that all others must be compared against and distinguished from.

Not only was this just a more subtle form of racism, but it was lazy. White Americans when they do identify themselves for family heritage purposes do it by nationality, not by generalized country or overall genetic ethnicity.

They don’t call themselves European Americans or White Americans, or Anglo Americans. They call themselves French-American, Irish-American, German-American. Because they see their individual nationality of family origin as worthy of distinction and anyone else as not worth the effort.

They didn’t want to bother learning the difference between someone of Korean, Japanese, or Taiwanese heritage because they just didn’t care, it was easier to lump them all together as Asians who weren’t quite worthy of being full Americans entitled to all rights and equality of opportunity, so “Asian-American.”

To make matters worse those Americans today descended from Black people brought here from Africa by the Transatlantic Slave Traders are not likely to know their original family name or nationality of family origin within Africa due to the destruction of records and separation of families as they were sold off individually to break any family support bonds that may have bolstered their resistance to being enslaved.

Add to this that not all Black Americans today are directly descended from that slave trade, some are from families that immigrated here from Europe, Asia, and South or Central America separate from the slave trade. By referring to them as African-American we lump them all together and deny them every aspect of their own heritage and ethnic upbringing. For the same purpose of denying them rights and opportunity through classifying them as not quite full Americans.

Whether their families were originally Asian, Hispanic, Latinx, Native, African, European or some other or combination, many of them were born here on American soil and regardless of heritage or color are constitutionally entitled to all the rights of citizenship afforded those of us who are White.

So, treat them all equally with the White base model American when referring to them. Just call them Americans and treat them as such. Just refer to them by profession when appropriate without the qualifier. if you must, for some specific reason pertinent to the content of your discussion, use a qualifier, be as accurate as you would demand others be for you to not belittle, demean, or dismiss your own heritage.

An example of when it is appropriate and how to do it right when it is necessary would be this recent headline about Madeline Swegle:

“US Navy welcomes its first Black female tactical jet pilot.”

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.

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.

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.

That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

One of the ongoing themes of this blog and the accompanying Facebook discussion page that inspired it is the concept of #Culturalinertia.

More specifically, shifting the way we think and talk about the issues that have become so ingrained in our culture that we may not even recognize the influences that prevent us from progressing forward with new thinking and approaches to the problems at hand.

We have explored, and will continue to explore, many aspects of this cultural phenomenon.

One of the things that makes this Cultural Inertia difficult to expose is the emotional attachments we form to the thinking that has us bogged down and stuck on the path we’ve been on for so long, especially if we attempt to deal with specifics that we all have strong opinions about.

The issue today is the concept of “Innocent until proven guilty,” and how it applies to our society outside of a court of law.

It has been a core tenant of our American legal philosophy that even someone suspected of committing a crime is to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law before a jury of their peers.

However, over the years, that has expanded to a societal claim that we as a society must treat others with this same presumption of innocence.  Despite this claim, society does not function this way.  It never has.  It is not supposed to.

We have seen many people lose their jobs over the #MeToo movement without a criminal trial regarding the allegations.  We have seen many people lose their careers and public standing over videos of them giving racist rants in public spaces have surfaced, without a court of law making a determination of discrimination or assault.

After Dylann Roof confessed to killing multiple people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and his personal manifesto was found along with motivations posted on his social media, I commented on his guilt.   I was told we needed to wait for a court of law to decide his guilt at trial before we could speculate.

He had confessed.  We had witnesses.  We had proof.   Everyone knew he was guilty.  That wasn’t the issue, the issue was could the evidence be presented in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt without committing a procedural violation allowing the cased to be dismissed on a technicality.

Even if the court had found him “not guilty’ for any reason, it would not have changed the fact that he had committed this crime.

Saying he did would not open us up to charges of “defamation” or “slander” for which we could then be sued.

This is exactly why courts use “Not guilty” instead of “Innocent” as a final verdict option.

For an example of the other perspective, our current President famously took out a full page advertisement in a major United States newspaper calling for the execution of five young men that had been accused and convicted of a horrible crime.   They were later exonerated of all charges, actually proven innocent of the crime for which they had been convicted.

Those men have no legal recourse against the man who called for the public to execute them for something they had not done.   Their accuser is now President of the United States, he has never retracted or apologized for this.   He has actually defended it.

The important points being that it is possible to be convicted of a crime of which you are innocent and it is possible to be found guilty of a crime of which you are not innocent.

Now it is also important to note that while there is a statute of limitations preventing some criminal charges from being prosecuted after a specific amount of time has passed, there is no such statute of limitations on public outrage.

This is an important distinction, especially when we get into evaluating personal and professional qualifications for elected and appointed governmental officials.

A political campaign or a political confirmation hearing are not criminal law courts (with the exception of a Senate impeachment trial) and do not operate under the same presumption of innocence.

When running for mayor, governor, Senate, House of Representatives, President, or any other elected office, the candidate is basically put on public trial.   In this process, the press serves as prosecutor, the campaign team serves as defense, and the public serves as the jury. This jury must only reach a majority verdict not a unanimous one, and in the event of a tie, a retrial (run-off election) is performed.

Both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were known to have, and admitted to, using drugs in their youth.  Clinton with marijuana and Bush with cocaine.   The public elected them both despite these issues, neither of which they could have been arrested and tried for at the time they were running for President due to the amount of time that had passed and the lack of proof beyond a confession offered while not under oath and not having been read their Miranda rights prior to confessing.   If they had confessed to or been suspected of murder instead of recreational drug usage, every aspect of that would have been much different.

Now we as a people are faced with a Supreme Court candidate that has been credibly accused of an attempted rape.  The only third party witness is also a named accomplice and he refuses to testify.  So it is the word of two different people against each other with no physical evidence available to provide proof.

 A court of law would not convict him based on this allegation.  Nor would it provide him, nor any government official, grounds for a “defamation” law suit.

 

 

According to many courts, a public official is a government employee who has, or appears to the public to have, a significant role in the business of government and public affairs. Such people are considered to be held in a position that would draw or even demand public scrutiny. They also are considered to have significant ability to defend themselves regarding such public scrutiny and therefore cannot claim defamation unless the statement is not only proven to be false, but the defamer is proven to have shown reckless disregard for that falsity. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254.
This rule also applies to public figures. Not all courts have not specifically defined “public figure,” but they do identify candidates for public office and people who have achieved pervasive fame or notoriety as fitting this description. Curtis Pub. Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130, 87 S.Ct. 1975, 18 L.Ed.2d 1094 (1967). A public figure could also be someone who voluntarily enters the public eye because of a particular public issue or controversy.
Courts have upheld this rule based on the U.S. belief that the public should be able to freely discuss national issues without fear of repercussions. If a public official or public figure believes that he or she has been defamed, he or she must prove with convincing evidence that the statement is false. The public official also must prove that the defamer showed reckless disregard for that falsity, either because the defamer knew the statement was false or should have known. Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153, 99 S.Ct. 1635, 60 L.Ed.2d 115 (1979).

 

 

Just as a defendant is supposed to be set free if they cannot be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; a nominee for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be deemed unimpeachable beyond a reasonable doubt at the time of appointment.

From allegations of sexual abuse, clear proof of multiple counts of perjury, and possible qualification discussions with members of Trump’s personal defense firm, far too much reasonable doubt exists for his confirmation.

There is no requirement for presumption of innocence in the court of public opinion nor is there a statute of limitations on public outrage and outcry.

 

Image source:  DailyDot