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.

Voting Is Imperative, And Not Enough.

What I am having the hardest time grasping isn’t why the Republican leadership is supporting Kavanaugh.

That is, sadly, entirely within character for the party leadership and not at all surprising. They need this man on the bench, more than any other, because they know he’ll protect them at the highest levels of our court system from repercussions for their actions in support of this administration even if the balance of power in Congress shifts.

It isn’t why the die hard Trump supporters are either, they’ve already demonstrated that they’re willing to screw over themselves with their votes and campaign donations as long as they think they people they hate are getting screwed over more.

What I don’t get are all the parents out there of teen and pre-teen children. The ones with those kids just starting to become aware of political discourse as their school social studies classes turn to current events. The ones with kids in the early years of high school that will be voting in the fall of 2020.

I don’t get how they can watch these discussions of what it ultimately means to be male or female in our society with their kids, and remain idle, apathetic, or worse supportive of those that strive to keep it this way.

Discussions of why young men shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions, especially if those actions are a result of reckless underage drinking.

Discussions of why young women need to have a stricter dress code than men so they don’t tempt boys to treat them poorly. Why young women have to be more careful at parties and never leave their drinks unattended in case someone might drug them. Why women should always travel together, even to the bathroom in public spaces, so they have strength in numbers. Why young women shouldn’t make accusations of assault against their attackers because we don’t want to ruin a young man’s promising future. Why women shouldn’t make accusations against their assaulter because we don’t want to ruin a man’s career or reputation. Why women should expect if they come forward about an attack to have every aspect of their life — attire, attitude, past history, other sexual experiences, sexual identity, sexuality, friendships, social circles, drinking habits, recreational drug use/experimentation, and more — ripped to shreds in order to find an excuse for the way her assaulter treated her so we don’t have to actually blame him. Why women shouldn’t be allowed the choice to have an abortion even if their pregnancy is the result of a non-consensual sexual assault. Why women who have kids before they’re ready, even as a result of such attacks shouldn’t be provided aid and assistance as single parents.

Discussions of why no man should have to bear the hardship of being accused unless the woman can provide physical DNA evidence, at least 2 eye-witnesses, and preferably a video recording of the incident (which the court and jury will be shown to further traumatize her) and even with all of that, why she’ll still have to endure all of the crap mentioned above being done to her just to give her accuser a couple months jail time and possible registration on the sexual offenders list if he can’t plead his way out of it.

How do they look at their daughters, and say “This is what you’ll have to endure the rest of your life, and I’m not going to try to do anything to fix it.”

How do they look at their sons and say “No matter what we’ve tried to teach you about manners, etiquette, moral and ethical conduct, this is what society will accept and expect of you, and I’m not going to do anything to try to fix it.”

Yes, voting is essential.  It is a moral imperative.  Please vote.

But voting is not enough.

We must change our culture. We must break free of the #Culturalinertia that has us mired in the acceptance of this. In the use of the terminology and mindset that allows it to continue even as we talk about how unfair and not right it is.

These people that condone this and profit off it and remain in power through it need to be removed. Those people that stand idly by and allow it to continue need to be corrected and/or removed.

We need to get off our asses and force the change that needs to happen. Because it isn’t going to happen without us.

Ask yourself “Who has to be victimized before I have had enough?”

Then ask yourself, “Am I really willing to wait for that to happen?”

Because honestly, statistically the odds are, no matter who you named in that first question, it’s likely begun to happen already.

If not us, then who?

If not now, then when?

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

Can We Trust An Amoral Source To Lead The Resistance Against An Amoral President?

All right, bear with me here.
Discussions on the Tim’s Timely Topics Facebook Page and elsewhere over the last two days have led me to better shape my thoughts on the New York Time’s Op-Ed from the “White House Resistance.” I’d like to share those thoughts with you here, in one message. I am also including this link to the original piece to allow you easy access to full context of any quotes I pull out.
I do not think the decision to release a statement exposing the President’s incompetence to be cowardly.   This president has a long and well documented history of using whatever power available to him to personally and professionally destroy anyone who dares to defy him.   And he currently has access to a considerable amount of power to use toward such goals.
I do not think writing this letter was an act of bravery either though.   No proof of the claims made is provided to be used by us, the readers, to force correction.   No specific incidences of wrong doing are given.
The author, and whatever group is working with him/her, are showing the worst of both aspects here.  They refuse accountability or responsibility while complaining of problems and providing no means to address them.
They do this because they want the problems to continue.  It is to their advantage to create more chaos within the White House, as long as they are suspicious of everyone, they won’t zero in on anyone.   This allows them to keep doing exactly what they are doing.    Which is no better than the president himself.
My original thought, and I still believe it to be the best guess available, is that it was authored by the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats. I also believe that it does matter who wrote it, beyond whether it was legitimately written by a member of the White House staff.
1200px-dan_coats_official_dni_portrait
Let me start by saying that I am grateful to know that there are members of the staff that see the problem with Trump’s dangerous lack of morality.
“The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.
 
This is absolutely a problem, and we need people to buffer the world from the damage it could cause while we work to remove him.
But, there’s the rub.
This so called resistance isn’t really attempting to protect the people from the President as it claims.

 

“That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”
This is not at all what they are doing.

 

What they are doing is protecting themselves and their corporate donors from the President’s complete lack of understanding of economic and ecological policy and foreign and domestic diplomacy needs.

 

 

They are willing to not only overlook but help obstruct the investigation into his conspiracy with adversarial foreign powers to usurp the Executive Branch of government, and they are willing to overlook and even participate in his stocking of racial hatred and religious bigotry to achieve their party line goals.

“Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more. But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective. From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.”
They even went so far as to consider invoking Article 4 of the 25th Amendment to declare him unfit for the office in order to bypass impeachment and remove him.
“Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”
To sum it all up, this man operating from the shadows for fear of retaliation from both sides, has told us there is a faction in the White House Presidential Administration working against the both the people and the President.   They are overlooking the worst aspects of this president and all the damage he is doing to the American people, economy, and geopolitical power structure, for as long as possible solely so that they can force their own agendas through without us knowing it was them.
They are using the President to shield themselves from accountability to us, and they are protecting him from his own accountability to us to do so.
If they believe that we have a dangerously amoral, incompetent, ignorant, Commander-in-Chief n office then they are duty-bound to do everything within their considerable power to remove him, not to use him to their advantage.
The most truthful, and self-aware, passage in the entire Op-Ed essay is this one, where they tell us they recognize the problem, and have specifically chosen to abdicate themselves from responsibility to fix it at as long as it continues to benefit them:

 

“The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.”
They have the power to fix this, and they have chosen not to for personal gain.
What could be more amoral than co-opting amorality to further a personal agenda?
There is no moral high ground for them to claim here.
If they want our respect and gratitude, they must fulfill their duty to the people, and make the hard decisions.
Step forward.  Step up.

Colorblindness Is Still Racism

With the resurgence of White Supremacy in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and electoral college victory, I am once again seeing many people return to attempting to exempt themselves from any guilt in the resulting racial discord by declaring themselves “colorblind.”

They uses phrases like “I don’t see color, I see people.”

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Image Source

This has been an approach used by White people since the civil rights era of the 1960s, to deflect accusations of racism from being made against them.

As Dr. Williams pointed out in a 2011 article for Psychology Today:

At its face value, colorblindness seems like a good thing — really taking MLK seriously on his call to judge people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. It focuses on commonalities between people, such as their shared humanity.
However, colorblindness alone is not sufficient to heal racial wounds on a national or personal level. It is only a half-measure that in the end operates as a form of racism.

Ideally, the only reason skin color would need to be mentioned would be as a descriptive device, much like shirt color or hair color.

But that isn’t the case.

People are judged by their skin all the time. And we know all know it, regardless of our own skin color.

Those of us without dark skin haven’t had to cope with that knowledge as it led to our own disadvantage and mistreatment by society, economy, and law enforcement encounters though.

Many years ago renowned sociologist Jane Elliot went around the country asking a single question of White people who had trouble understanding what it meant to be victimized by discrimination.

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She would ask full auditoriums of people “If you as a White person would be happy to receive the same treatment that our Black citizens do in this society, please stand.”

You can view the video of one such instance here.

Invariably, no one would stand.

Ms. Elliot has been a civil rights advocate and educator on the issues of discrimination for decades now and her body of work is quite impressive. I encourage you to research her further.

Just a few weeks ago. this large White man was resisting arrest to the point that three officers have to wrestle him to the ground to subdue and cuff him.

Even as this was happening, he knew deep in his core that being roughed up by the police is something that’s only supposed to happen to Black people.

You can hear him in the video complaining that “You’re treating me like a fucking Black person.”

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He’s basically saying, in the middle of being arrested, “No matter what I did wrong, I don’t deserve to be treated as badly as a Black person.”

But despite this open display of cognitive awareness of racial injustice along with awareness of and demands for racial privilege, he’s still wrong.

Even as he is tackled by all three of them, he is afforded the privilege of being White.

A Black man of this size requiring three officers to subdue him in this same space would have been lucky to be tasered, likely to be beaten either during or after being subdued, and been at significant risk of being shot.

As an aside; I wonder if, when he gets out, he’ll start to #TakeAKnee to protest police brutality?

Clearly nobody deserves to be treated as poorly as our society treats people of color, especially not the people of color that are actually treated that way.

By claiming to be color blind, we aren’t claiming that we will treat them as well as everyone else. We’re claiming that we refuse to see or acknowledge the hardships, discrimination, overt and systemic racism that they face on a daily basis.

We are telling them that their struggle isn’t worth our attention.

We are telling them that they have to stop seeing their own color as well, so they’ll stop feeling like they receive this treatment because of their color.

People shouldn’t have to deny their cultural and ethnic heritage to “fit in.”

We shouldn’t have to deny their cultural and ethnic heritage or their experiences because of it to accept them.

We should not be color blind.

We should revel in our multiculturalism.

We should celebrate the things that make each ethnicity and culture unique and special while also celebrating and embracing the things that expose our similarities.

We are after all, all one race of humans, separated and shaped by our culture, family histories and personal experiences.

Far too many people love “ethnic” foods while despising the people and cultures that created them.

This is what creates cultural appropriation.

We need to allow our nation to be the multicultural melting pot that our history of immigration was meant to become.

Understand that an educated person of color isn’t surprisingly articulate, they just have an educated vocabulary.

Don’t use natural ethnic and cultural hair styles and dress to be an excuse to suspend children or to bar them from an education, as long as the clothing doesn’t leave them improperly covered for society’s legal standards, the clothing shouldn’t matter.

Don’t ignore the fact that a black person has to teach their kids how not to even appear threatening or intimidating just by having good posture and making eye contact.

Don’t ignore the fact that every time you feel like standing up to a perceived injustice, a black person has had to make that decision 100 times over knowing that their career, future, freedom, and life is on the line for daring to speak out.

Whether we’re talking about White kids that adopt the dress and hair styles of Black, Asian, and South American cultures, or people talking about “Down Home Southern Cooking” without acknowledging the fact that those traditional dishes were the result of the work by the slaves in plantation kitchens, and spread by poor southern Whites aspiring to eat like their wealthy White counterparts.

“We need to forget about this so we can heal,” said an elderly white woman, as she left my lecture on the history of enslaved cooks and their influence on American cuisine. Something I said, or perhaps everything I said, upset her.
My presentation covered 300 years of American history that started with the forced enslavement of millions of Africans, and which still echoes in our culture today, from the myth of the “happy servant” (think Aunt Jemima on the syrup bottle) to the broader marketing of black servitude (as in TV commercials for Caribbean resorts, targeted at white American travelers). I delivered the talk to an audience of 30 at the Maier Museum of Art in Lynchburg, Virginia. While I had not anticipated the woman’s displeasure, trying to forget is not an uncommon response to the unsettling tale of the complicated roots of our history, and particularly some of our beloved foods.

The paragraphs above are from the Smithsonian article:

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Don’t appropriate cultural differences while discarding the people and cultures that brought them to us.

Celebrate those wonderful differences, acknowledge and honor where they came from.

It really is okay for Black people to wear khaki pants, polo shirts, and socks with sandals if they want to. Well, at least as okay as it is for White people to do such things.

It’s okay for Native Americans to wear jeans and cowboy hats.

It’s okay for White people grow their hair out and style it into dreadlocks or like rap music.

It’s okay for anyone from any culture to like and honor aspects of any other culture in their own lives.

It is not okay to do so as a means of mocking those of the culture you’ve appropriated it from.

It is not okay to do discriminate and mistreat the people and cultures that provided it to us.

It is okay to want to eat traditional Mexican food.

It is not okay to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement because you don’t like the fact that the people who cooked and served it were speaking Spanish instead of English.

This returns us to the article by Dr. Williams that we started with:

The alternative to colorblindness is multiculturalism, an ideology that acknowledges, highlights, and celebrates ethnoracial differences. It recognizes that each tradition has something valuable to offer. It is not afraid to see how others have suffered as a result of racial conflict or differences.
So, how do we become multicultural? The following suggestions would make a good start (McCabe, 2011):
  1. Recognizing and valuing differences,
  2. Teaching and learning about differences, and
  3. Fostering personal friendships and organizational alliances
Moving from colorblindness to multiculturalism is a process of change, and change is never easy, but we can’t afford to stay the same.

Can you imagine telling anyone you are friends with, “Let’s pretend that nothing that happened before you met me matters in any way to either of us, because I can’t see your history and still view you as a worthy human.”

Can you imagine anyone telling you such a thing. How would you respond to them?

That is what you are doing when you claim to be racially colorblind.

You’re telling them:

“I cannot like you or treat you fairly if I allow myself to see and acknowledge all of what has made you into who you are now, so please don’t make me.”

Why would you expect anyone to be okay with that.

You know you damn well wouldn’t be.

We Shouldn’t Need Color Filters To See The Humanity In Each Other.

Resist, Protest, Persist.

Step 1:  Bust up the unions to eliminate collective bargaining ability.

Step 2:  Implement ironically named “Right to Work” laws that allow employers to fire any employee at any time for any reason without having to prove cause.

Step 3:  Eliminate requirements for vacation/sick leave benefits after allowing businesses to fire people for needing a day off.

Step 4:  Put as many people as possible into non-standard work schedules so they can’t predict from one week to the next when their shifts will be.

Step 5:  Tie health care to employment so people are afraid that if they lose they’re current job they’ll lose their family health care.

The order of the steps is irrelevant, once completed, not only have you made it difficult for many people to be able to get to an open voting center, but you’ve eliminated their ability to be able to coordinate protest and resist injustice without fear of completely losing their ability to provide care for their families.

People all over the world are asking why Americans are not in the street every day right now protesting what is happening in our Congressional Halls, White House, and Federal and Supreme Courts.

This is the answer.

In addition is the fact that far too many of us are allowing ourselves to have what protest efforts we can manage divided. Some people fight for Black Rights, others fight for Women’s Rights, others are fighting Immigration injustices, some fighting the attacks on the press, others fighting environmentally destructive policies, yet others are fighting against voter suppression efforts, and on and on…. that we’re not coming together to deal with the underlying causation of all of them.

No matter what issue is raised about this president it all boils down simply.

We need to remember that we are fighting against a small group of kleptocrats put in power by an adversarial government with the purposes of dismantling America’s democracy and its international influence, and they are using willful ignorance, racism, misogyny, religious bigotry, and divisive partisan politics to accomplish it.

When viewed in that light, every single thing he has done, and everything others are doing to defend him, makes perfect sense.

And THAT is what all of us need to be protesting.

As many of us as possible, every moment of every day.

We need to protest at the ballots.

We need to protest in the streets.

We need to protest online.

And we need to never give up.

It isn’t just your rights, freedoms, safety, and future you are fighting for. It’s everyone’s. It’s your kid’s. It’s your kid’s kid’s. Whether they understand it or not it is even that of those that voted for and still defend him after all that he’s already done.

Is There, Really, A Case For Impeachment?

The question keeps coming up about whether a president can be charged, or maybe even be investigated, while in office.

The Constitution has clear instructions on what to do if a president is removed based upon conviction of certain crimes, which could not happen without such an investigation being held and charges being filed.

Article II Section 4 of the Constitution of the United States reads:

 

Article 2 – The Executive Branch
Section 4 – Disqualification

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

 

Bribery and other high Crimes and Misdemeanor charges are no doubt already forthcoming from the Mueller staff based upon everything we have already seen, especially the developments from this last week.

Mueller is now up to 192 indictment charges, nearly thirty people and three companies are among those charged already and the indictments clearly indicate charges against more as yet unnamed conspirators coming soon.

Roger Stone openly admitted that not only was he likely the unnamed “U.S. Person” serving as the conduit between a Russian operative and the President’s campaign but that the only person on that campaign he had contact with during that time was Donald Trump.   Thus, openly confessing live on CNN not only his own guilt but that of President Trump.

 

According to the indictment: “The Conspirators, posting as Guccifer 2.0, also communicated with U.S. persons about the release of stolen documents. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank u for writing back…”

“In initially denying that this passage referred to him, Stone stepped in it, bigly. He told CNN (emphasis mine) that he didn’t think he was the unnamed person in the indictment because, ‘My contact with the campaign in 2016 was Donald Trump. I was not in regular contact with campaign officials.'”

And then, “I think I probably am the person referred to,” he said on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time.

 

The Mueller investigation has already documented quite a few different ways the Russians were funneling money to the Trump campaign, including through the NRA, so bribery has easily been established.

Each of these by itself is grounds for impeachment and conviction, which would then invalidate the placement of the entire administration under the Constitutional article referenced above.

Now, after the Helsinki Summit, we’re hearing talk of Treason.

Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them Aid and Comfort has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. The term aid and comfort refers to any act that manifests a betrayal of allegiance to the United States, such as furnishing enemies with arms, troops, transportation, shelter, or classified information. If a subversive act has any tendency to weaken the power of the United States to attack or resist its enemies, aid and comfort has been given.

However, the Treason Clause applies only to disloyal acts committed during times of war. Acts of dis-loyalty during peacetime are not considered treasonous under the Constitution. Nor do acts of Espionage committed on behalf of an ally constitute treason.

It is also important to note that under Article III a person can levy war against the United States without the use of arms, weapons, or military equipment.

In 2012, the Pentagon concluded that computer sabotage by another country could constitute an act of war.

 

The officials emphasize, however, that not every attack would lead to retaliation. Such a cyber attack would have to be so serious it would threaten American lives, commerce, infrastructure or worse, and there would have to be indisputable evidence leading to the nation state involved.

 

Saundra McDavid, Faculty Member of School of Business at American Military University, explains:

Actions that would qualify as acts of war are 1) the disruption or destruction of a nation’s financial institutions and nuclear command and control systems, and 2) computer-induced failures of power grids, transportation networks or financial systems that might result in physical damage or economic disruption of Department of Defense (DoD) operations. These events would rise to the level of cyber attacks that could prompt a declaration of war.

We have linked the cyber attack to Russia, both through social engineering, through hacking efforts against the DNC and Clinton campaign, through manipulation of our voting machines, and our voter registration databases.

We have established links for the funding of it through the NRA.

We have linked both the Russian operatives and the the NRA operatives to the Trump campaign and directly to the President through Roger Stone, at the very least.

The result of these actions is the destruction of American environmental protections by Trump appointed EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

The near complete undoing of Civil Rights by Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos in the Justice and Education departments respectively.

The stoking of racial and religious hate crimes by the President himself.

The threat of abandoning our allies in the United Nations along with the agreement to pull back from North Korea leaving all the former territories of the U.S.S. R. unprotected and ripe for re absorption by Putin’s Russia.

Starting trade wars that are detrimental to American farmers and businesses, and our allies, but beneficial to Russia who will fill the gap in product loss on the international markets caused by the tariff wars.

Trump is dismantling our government from the top of every organization downward.   He is destroying long standing economic alliances.   He is putting American jobs at risk while claiming the corporate profits are rising.  He is putting American lives at risk by removing environmental protections of them and stoking violent hate crimes.  His administration is committing crimes against humanity at our southern border, by actively abducting and trafficking in immigrant children while extorting their families for political purposes.

No matter what issue is raised about this president, and his administration, it all boils down simply.

 

We need to remember that we are fighting against a small group of kleptocrats put in power by an adversarial government with the purposes of dismantling America’s democracy and its international influence, and they are using willful ignorance, racism, misogyny, religious bigotry, and divisive partisan politics to accomplish it.

 

When viewed in that light, every single thing he has done, and everything others are doing to defend him, makes perfect sense.

The president of the United States accepted bribes from a hostile foreign government and conspired to assume power and put that government’s interests in advance of Americans to the determent of American lives.

The attack on our elections was an act of war directly resulting in the disruption or destruction of a nation’s financial institutions and nuclear command and control systems and financial systems that might result in physical damage or economic disruption of Department of Defense (DoD) operations.

It has threatened American lives, commerce, infrastructure and worse, and there is indisputable evidence leading to the nation state involved

This is treason.

This is every single issue the founders said could individually result in not only the removal of the President, but also his Vice President and every civil service member of his administration.    This should invalidate any appointments or laws executive orders issued by such a president as well.

Any member of congress who, knowing all of these things, continues to obstruct Mueller’s investigation is just as guilty as those already convicted of these acts.

There will be pressure, very soon, from Republicans on Trump to resign, as Nixon did, to prevent impeachment.  If this happens, and the investigation stalls as a result, the rest of the Trump administration and cabinet will be allowed to remain in place.

There is enough evidence already to impeach and remove them all.

Barring that, absolutely no further appointments should be confirmed until the investigation has completed, especially not life long judicial appointments.