A Field Guide to Changing the #Culturalinertia – Part 3

I am long overdue with the release of this third part in our Field Guide to Chanting the #Culturalinertia. Follow these links to find parts One and Two. It wasn’t from a lack of trying. I had an essay planned for release in January of this year following the victory of Georgia’s Democrats in securing their national Senatorial seats and also securing what should have been a true Democrat majority in the Senate.

That article was going to address the historical origins of systemic and societal racism in America, how it is perpetuated, and what we could should have been using a democratic control of both the legislative and executive branches of our federal government for whatever time that control could be maintained. It was going to begin with Abraham Lincoln’s misguided decision to embrace confederate leadership and their “Lost Cause” efforts for the sake of “compromise” instead of allowing them to languish in defeat. Thus began the trend of allowing treasonous generals and politicians into congressional leadership, naming military bases after those same treasonous people, the establishment of Jim Crow laws and sundown towns, the creation of the DoJ to protect civil rights and deal with the KKK terrorists cells and the subsequent subversion of the federal law enforcement agency to be used as tool against any progressive progress made on behalf of People of Color, culminating in today’s school to prison pipeline feeding mass incarceration for privatized prison labor profiteering.

It was a lengthy article that I have deleted and rewritten several times since then because it was scheduled to be released on January 7th, 2021. However, the day prior, a large group of White Nationalists answered the incessant Stochastic Terrorism calls of Donald Trump, leading Republicans, and nearly all conservative media outlets to attempt a murderous insurrection to interfere with the certification of a presidential election and overthrow the legislative branch of our government while planning to assassinate both the Republican vice president and several of our elected Democrat members of Congress along with a few Republican members like Mitt Romney of whom they disapproved.

Every day for weeks after that there were new pertinent additions to be made and the essay morphed into a dissertation.

One of the most telling being that despite the win in Georgia, the Democrats had not truly obtained a Senate majority. Because two right wing conservatives had been elected by their states as Democrats; Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona. Through their refusal to help end the filibuster process, which was originally created as a tool for conservatives to fight against civil rights reforms and is still being used primarily for that same purpose, they have thwarted nearly all major important efforts of the Biden administration without the need of real effort at opposition by the Republicans.

Every time I thought my revisions were done and it was time to release it, new developments would immediately arise within the obvious injustice of the lack of consequences not only for those who perpetrated the offenses but also for those who incited them to it for their own political profiteering purposes.

After months of revisions and rewrites, I have come to an important realization regarding the never ending fight for equity of opportunity and justice. There are a few common recurring points for each side of the political debate on every issue throughout every examination of this fight at every stage of history.

Throughout American history the nation’s conservatives have been working to undermine or eliminate all progressive reforms, all attempts at multicultural equity of justice, and all attempts to establish and secure social safety and security. They strive to maintain gerrymandering, systemic oppression, redlining, and inequality based on gender, ethnicity, and religion.

They feign ignorance to divert the debate to petty points instead of real solutions. They fund and cite pseudoscience to present as real science. They resort to overt lies, which they now call “alternative facts,” gaslighting, cherry picking data, and as many other logical fallacies as they an get away with to control the framing narrative of debate. They have started a civil war and an insurrection, both based on White Nationalist racism.

At the same time, throughout all of American history, the nations liberals and progressives have worked on the assumption that reaching some form of bipartisan compromise with them is vital on every single issue.

That latter, more than anything else, is the true fatal failure of our current system.

The entire political platform of modern Republicans is to maximize suffering and death. It is the reason they fight against all efforts to establish social security, SNaP, CHiP, health care assistance, housing assistance, public health safety, environmental protections, consumer protections, worker safety regulations. It is why they constantly raise taxes on average people while eliminating them for the ultra wealthy and large corporations. They have even courted the assistance of adversarial foreign governments to accomplish it.

So, the next step in our Field Guide to Changing the Cultural Inertia is to stop seeking ways to compromise with those who harbor evil intent.

Until we have made that step, we are letting the terrorists set the terms of our future.

Time For The Hard Questions

Multiple states are passing new abortion laws in an attempt to pressure the Supreme Court to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling and they are also passing other “trigger laws” which cannot legally be enacted now but are scheduled to take effect 30 days after that ruling is overturned.  Texas never even repealed its abortion law that Roe v. Wade was about, it is still on the books and will take effect immediately upon reversal of the Supreme Court decision. There are several others states that are in a similar situation.

Below we will attempt to engage in some critical thinking with some thought exercise discussion prompts.  In order to help with this, we will need to make a few important stipulations.  First, we will refer to the two major stances as Pro-Choice and Anti-Choice, because those are the true essential stances.  Those who adhere to a Pro-Choice stance are not Anti-Life and are not Pro-Abortion, with few exceptions they would advocate for a choice of carrying to term but would consider abortion a viable option as one of those choices based on a variety of factors. The extent of those factors is open to debate within this group.  Those who adhere to an Anti-Choice stance do so often by professing it is a Pro-Life stance, some are open to exemptions from their ban on abortions for rape, incest, developmental disorders, and/or health concerns for the mother or unborn fetus, many others are not open to any exemptions at all.  I urge you as we focus on the legal and scientific aspects of this, as well as the religious doctrine and moral arguments, to try to leave your emotional triggers and logical fallacy arguments at the door.

The Constitutional Issues

The primary holding of the Supreme Court’s ruling was:

“A person may choose to have an abortion until a fetus becomes viable, based on the right to privacy contained in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Viability means the ability to live outside the womb, which usually happens between 24 and 28 weeks after conception.”

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/410/113/”

That due process clause is section 1 of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which states:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv

Based upon this, we can see that the Constitutional rights of personhood begin at birth on American soil or naturalization as an American citizen for an immigrant.

Many of these Anti-Choice laws being created and passed are extending the rights of personhood to the fetus prior to birth; in many cases even before the actual brain or heart of the fetus has developed into a functional form.

For this to be legal, it would require another Constitutional amendment moving the point of personhood protections to prior to birth. 

This raises some questions that must be clarified under the law.

  1. At what point do the rights of the fetus and its health concerns overrule the rights of the pregnant woman?
  2. Would the fetus of all pregnant women have to be counted as a person during census taking and all legal decisions based upon census totals once personhood rights are established?
  3. Do parents get a child tax credit/refund if filing prior to birth once personhood rights are established?
  4. Is the fetus counted towards family SNaP nutrition benefits, housing assistance, and other social safety net programs once personhood rights are established?

Non-Constitutional Legalities

Pennsylvania just advanced multiple bills in their legislature that will, if passed, require women who miscarry to file a fetal death certificate with the state authorities and open those same women up to imprisonment for a miscarriage.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a controversial bill that bans nearly all abortions into law Wednesday evening.

It’s considered the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. The law makes it a crime for doctors to perform abortions at any stage of a pregnancy, unless a woman’s life is threatened or there is a lethal fetal anomaly.

Under the new law, doctors in the state face felony jail time up to 99 years if convicted. But a woman would not be held criminally liable for having an abortion.

Texas Governor Abbott took a slightly different approach, signing this week another of the nation’s strictest abortion measures, banning procedures as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Instead of having the government enforce the law, the bill turns the reins over to private citizens — who are newly empowered as unofficial agents of the state — to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps someone get an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The person bringing the suit would not have to be connected to someone who had an abortion or to a provider to sue.  It does not include any exemption for rape, incest, or health concerns.  

Under this law, the pregnant woman seeking an abortion cannot be punished, but any “concerned citizen” can sue any family or doctor that helps someone receive one.  Any unfriendly vindictive neighbor or coworker, any religious zealot, can file such a lawsuit.  Even a rapist or sexual abuser within a family could legitimately bring such a suit.

The entire purpose of all of these laws is to further punish women who have already been traumatized by abuse or miscarriage, for their “failure” as an incubator.

This is going to lead to a huge increase in suicides among pregnant women and girls who see no other way out of an already impossible situation due to familial, health, and economic concerns after finding out they are pregnant.

The Science Issues

Most women do not know they are pregnant until they have missed at least one of their menstrual cycles, for those who already experience an irregular cycle it may even be more.  So, these plans pushing bans on abortion to as early as six weeks are pushing the window for a decision prior to the point where many women will even know they are pregnant and far before they will know about pregnancy related health conditions or fetal development problems.

The argument for the six week ban is based on the point at which what is called a fetal heartbeat can be heard on a fetal heart monitor.  But this isn’t an accurate assessment of development.  At this stage what can be heard is a throbbing pulsation of blood through fetal tissue that has not yet developed its own heart and is far from developing its own brain, let alone human cognition.

British researchers analyzed scans of the hearts of healthy fetuses in the womb and found that the heart has four clearly defined chambers in the eighth week of pregnancy, but does not have fully organized muscle tissue until the 20th week.

This is much later than expected, according to the study published Feb. 20 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface Focus.

Previous studies of early heart development in humans have been largely based on other mammals — such as mice or pigs — as well as adult hearts and samples from dead people.

The data being collected by the University of Leeds-led team is being used to create a computerized simulation of fetal heart development. This will help improve understanding about normal heart development in the womb, and could lead to new ways to detect and treat some fetal heart problems early in pregnancy, according to the researchers.

Human fetuses have a regular heartbeat beginning at about 22 days of pregnancy, which is one reason why the researchers were surprised to find that there is little organization of human heart cells until 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“Fetal hearts in other mammals such as pigs, which we have been using as models, show such an organization even early in gestation, with a smooth change in cell orientation going through the heart wall. But what we actually found is that such organization was not detectable in the human fetus before 20 weeks.” 

https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=167987

The Supreme Court decision mentioned above based their determination for the cutoff for legal abortions on the medical viability of the fetus, or its possibility of survival.  Even at that point, and with the medical advancements in the nearly five decades since, survival is far less likely prior to 24 weeks, the majority of those delivered extremely premature do not survive, and the majority of those that do survive have long term — often lifelong — developmental issues requiring extensive and expensive care. 

Medical advances mean that we are getting better at treating preterm babies but the chances of survival still depend on gestational age (week of pregnancy) at time of birth.

  • Less than 22 weeks is close to zero chance of survival
  • 22 weeks is around 10%
  • 24 weeks is around 60%
  • 27 weeks is around 89%
  • 31 weeks is around 95%
  • 34 weeks is equivalent to a baby born at full term.

The Religious Issues

The United States is supposed to be a nation fundamentally based upon the Freedom of Religion. The ideal being that you are free to practice whatever religious beliefs you hold as long as the practice of them brings no harm to people with other beliefs; and they are too. This means you can worship the Aztec gods if you choose to, but you cannot go take a prisoner and offer them up in a ritual sacrifice. It also means you can’t stone someone in public because they have committed what your religion considers a sin.

Those that are atheist or agnostic do not hold the same religious objections as those who are and their decision either way has no bearing upon others at all.

But the religious concept of the beginning of life varies greatly from religion to religion. For example, the Jewish believe that life begins with the first breath. This is why Israel has legalized abortion for years within their nation’s universal health care. Since it is funded by the government, the argument could be made that American military fund assistance to Israel helps subsidize it They were even exempted from Trump’s presidential ban on foreign aid to countries that allow such procedures within their government’s health care programs.

What happens under these laws if a Jewish doctor performs an abortion for a pregnant Jewish woman or girl and then claims the religious exemptions that the Supreme Court has recently been upholding to avoid punishment?

The Catholic church has long had a stance against abortion as well as against all forms of birth control that might prevent a birth or conception.

However, the anti-Choice movement of American Evangelicals is far more recent. The most prominent myth about the origin of their embrace of the movement is that it was in response to the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling. But this simply isn’t true.

“In fact, the Southern Baptist Convention, they actually passed resolutions in 1971, 1974 and 1976 – after Roe v. Wade – affirming the idea that women should have access to abortion for a variety of reasons and that the government should play a limited role in that matter, which surprised us. The experts we talked to said white evangelicals at that time saw abortion as largely a Catholic issue. [The real answer is} in short, desegregation. Two years before Roe v. Wade, in 1971, there was a Supreme Court case [Green v. Connally] that began to pull white evangelicals into politics.”

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/20/734303135/throughline-traces-evangelicals-history-on-the-abortion-issue

For those that don’t realize it, Southern Baptists have a long history of racism and segregation, which the leadership has in recent years denounced, but the church members have been slow to embrace that rejection.

In fact, it was Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, who saw the Roe v. Wade ruling as an opportunity to get the racism of the White Evangelicals politically energized by allowing them a lynchpin single issue voter stance that would mask their racist motivations against racial desegregation in a time when the federal government was openly expanding civil rights for people of color.

“The new political philosophy must be defined by us [conservatives] in moral terms, packaged in non-religious language, and propagated throughout the country by our new coalition,” Weyrich wrote in the mid-1970s. “When political power is achieved, the moral majority will have the opportunity to re-create this great nation.” Weyrich believed that the political possibilities of such a coalition were unlimited. “The leadership, moral philosophy, and workable vehicle are at hand just waiting to be blended and activated,” he wrote. “If the moral majority acts, results could well exceed our wildest dreams.” But this hypothetical “moral majority” needed a catalyst—a standard around which to rally. For nearly two decades, Weyrich, by his own account, had been trying out different issues, hoping one might pique evangelical interest: pornography, prayer in schools, the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, even abortion. 

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/religious-right-real-origins-107133

This requires us to ask:

If this religious belief is not a deeply held matter of religious doctrine for your religion, but a political construct of White Nationalism and White Supremacy, how exactly can anyone who is not inherently racist continue to adhere to it as a religious objection?

For those whose objections stem from a professed Pro-Life belief, we can see the fallacy for anyone who does not also support pro-life stances for the already living.

A Pro-Life religious stance claiming that it is a mortal sin to take a life, would also require opposing war and the death penalty, as well as advocating for doing everything possible to make sure all the living had access to at least a bare minimum of health care, food, and shelter for all people, regardless of their own religious beliefs or ethnicity. Then there is also the consideration of unplugging someone who is on life support and brain dead, how is the argument different for a fetus that has not yet developed a functioning brain?

The Moral Implications

All of the above requires us to examine our moral stances and justifications, whether we consider ourselves to be Pro-Choice or Anti-Choice.

At what point of development should a fetus be considered a legal citizen with the constitutional protections of personhood? Is it when there is a fetal heart beat, a real heart beat, a developed brain, the first actual breath?

At that point, do the rights and concerns for protecting that fetus outweigh or override the rights and concerns of protecting the pregnant woman carrying it?

Since the fetus is both unaware and unable to make informed medical decisions for itself, should each pregnant mother apply for full medical conservatorship of their fetus in order to circumvent the laws.

What rights should the biological father have in such a decision, especially if the pregnancy was the result of rape or forced incest?

What if the parents have different religious beliefs; whose take priority? Is the answer a matter of who will have to carry the pregnancy or is it a matter of giving one religion a higher legal standing and precedent over others?

Shouldn’t the punishments for incest, rape, and sexual assault be far more severe than the punishment for an abortion resulting from such an attack?

Any claims that a woman or girl who has been impregnated should be forced to carry to term and put the baby up for adoption ignores the the health and economic issues that may make that impossible and the roughly 100,000 to 125,000 children in orphanages and foster care each year that do not get adopted for various reasons. Shouldn’t we find a way to properly take care of them before adding to their ranks?

These are not the only questions, and none of them are simple, but they must be answered.

Until they are, these laws are nothing but a war on women and often one that is deeply entrenched in a history of racial hatred and oppression.

Georgia demoted McConnell; what comes next?

Joe Biden will begin his presidency with a legislative majority in both the House and Senate for the first two years of his presidency.

Democrats need to take a lesson from the Republicans who have proven themselves wholly unfit to govern, and use that majority to its full effect to put out a full and complete repudiation of McConnell and Trump’s legislative policy.

First priority, after correcting the COVID Vaccination rollout, should be appointing an Attorney General who will investigate and prosecute the crimes committed by the Trump administration.

Second priority should be addressing their assault on the judicial branch of government through impeachment, where possible, of his appointments and by adding seats to the Supreme Court bench to eliminate the Republican majority and the power of the three Trump appointed Justices.

While all that is happening, rebuilding the CDC, reconnecting with the WHO and UN, treating white supremacy militias as domestic terrorism cells, releasing the caged immigrants and returning their abducted kids back to them, rejoining the Paris Accords, police reform, and ending funding to the border wall should all be taken care of.

Improving the ACA and working toward a single payer health care system needs to begin. 

A national minimum wage that provides a living wage, tied to inflation rates needs to be established.

And, the government needs to make a massive commitment to national infrastructure including job training and placement programs to create and fill the jobs necessary, not just to repair and maintain the current infrastructure, but to also upgrade it for the future.

Biden may not be the progressive I wanted, but he is an improvement over Trump, he will assemble a competent cabinet and empower them to lead without heavy handed micromanagement, and he will sign the bills put in front of him by a Democrat majority congress.

This means he will be as progressive as the Congress we, as voters, give him.

So, while we expect him to get to work on repairing the damage of the McConnell/Trump era, we need to get to work on the 2022 midterm elections to provide him an even stronger congressional support system to write the policies and create the budgets we want signed by the President.

The incredible work to drive record breaking voter registration and turnout to defeat Trump and flip the Senate was just the first step, not the end game. Don’t sacrifice the momentum. This is our opportunity to truly start checking and correcting our #Culturalinertia.

Don’t Fear the Reaper… Defeat Him or Avoid Him.

When it comes to climate change policy, economic stimulus and pandemic relief efforts, health care, or anything else that might actually benefit the majority of Americans instead of a few of the ultra rich, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had this to say about himself before the 2018 midterms, and he still believes it now:

“If I’m still the majority leader of the Senate after next year, none of those things are going to pass the Senate. They won’t even be voted on. So think of me as the Grim Reaper: the guy who is going to make sure that socialism doesn’t land on the president’s desk.”

Source: CBS

This means that unless we help folks like Stacy Abrams and organizations like Fair Fight and Act Blue in Georgia do everything possible to flip both of its Senate seats during the January runoff elections, for Biden to be effective he will have to do one of two things, either compromise with Grim Reaper or find a way to thwart him.

We cannot allow the new administration to compromise on matters of civil and human rights, we cannot allow him to ignore the science and reality pertaining to pandemic prevention and its necessity to protect both our people and our real economy instead of protecting stock prices to the detriment of everyone and everything else.

So, how will that work?

Presidential Appointments

To create an effective cabinet Biden is limited to two options as long as the self-labeled Grim Reaper remains Senate Majority Leader.

Option 1 is compromise and only install right leaning moderates to cabinet positions in order for McConnell to bring them to a Senate confirmation vote and push the Republicans to approve them.

Option 2 is to follow Trump’s lead and appoint a host of permanently “Acting” cabinet members and officials without ever seeking Senate approval until McConnell can be removed.

Executive Orders

First, any action or policy that Trump created or ended by Executive Order can be reversed the same way.

For some issues that can be an instantaneous fix, for most it will take time to self-correct. The various departments and agencies will have to update the policies and procedures and retrain, and if the change requires a public notice and comment period that will still have to be honored by each affected organization.

While others, such as reconnecting separated refugee families with their abducted kids, may actually prove to be impossible depending on the record keeping and evidence destruction of Trump’s criminally complicit sycophants within the agencies responsible.

Secondly, Biden can follow Trump’s leads and create new policy through Executive Order. We know that without legislative support any policy made this way will only be as lasting as a new president changing it the same way as described above, or both the House and Senate working together to pass a law which will either solidify or override it.

These options may provide the Biden/Harris administration with their only option for working around a Senate Majority Leader intent on killing all of their proposed legislative efforts before any can ever see the possibility of a chamber vote.

Legislative Compromise

The last and least desirable option, in my opinion, is to attempt to find a legislative compromise with the Reaper. McConnell has; however, proven himself to be one who does not negotiate in good faith, and his idea of compromise is “You surrender to my blackmail terms.”

The only bargaining chips Biden has, as long as we hold him to a requirement of being uncompromising on human and civil right, factual science and truth, are these:

  • Increased tax breaks for the rich.
  • Less corporate regulation and oversight
  • Less environmental protections

How do we defeat the Grim Reaper?

If you want to avoid all that, you better damn well be doing everything you possibly can to ensure the Democrat candidates for Senate in Georgia, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, win in the January run-offs.

If both win, the Grim Reaper will be demoted to the Senate Minority Leader and the Biden/Harris administration will have a thin majority in both the House and Senate allowing them to pass any legislation that does not require a supermajority vote in either chamber.

Come on baby, don’t fear the reaper
Baby take my hand, don’t fear the reaper
We’ll be able to fly, don’t fear the reaper
Baby I’m your man

(Don’t Fear) The Repear,” Blue Oyster Cult, 1976

A Field Guide to Changing the #Culturalinertia – Part 2

Over the years, this blog, and the accompanying Facebook discussion page, have contained an ongoing theme of identifying and discussing ways to address the aspects of our culture we cling to consciously or subconsciously to hold us back. We have been calling this our Cultural Inertia.

Over the next several months, I will be posting an ongoing, and cumulative guide on how we need to start dealing with this. Each post will give us the next step to begin working on to make dramatic overall shifts. This is Part 2.

In Part 1 we addressed the importance of aggressively confronting malevolent incompetence, lies, criminality, fascism, racism, sexism, religious bigotry, and weaponization of faux (and real) Christianity anywhere and everywhere we find it in our own day to day lives, especially when we encounter it among our family and those we believed were friends.

Now, we need to have a talk about the fact that we had an excellent opportunity to flip several down ballot seats in the Senate and also flip the Senate majority out of Republican control, and we didn’t. We even had a net loss of seats in the House, barely maintaining the majority there.

The why of that matters.

One of the key aspects of the Biden/Harris campaign was wooing disenfranchised Republicans, and to some notable extent they succeeded.

They got a significant portion of anti-Trump Republicans to vote against Trump’s behavior while still supporting the entirety of Republican policy intentions which haven’t changed much at all since the time of Nixon, Trump merely has the audacity to speak out loud about them.

They are the ones that want the return to the negative peace of plausible deniability of quiet White privilege while still maintaining it.

This is the often self-defeating cost of prioritizing compromise with the enemy over finding ways to re-engage the disenfranchised who are in overall general agreement with you on key issues.

We do need to celebrate the win, but we also need to recognize that it is just the first step on a long journey and be ready to plod ahead immediately.

That is exactly why, like John Legend, we should all have Georgia on our minds.

Thanks to a massive effort led by Stacy Abrams within the state to get People of Color to register and show up to vote and to stay in line despite wait times in excess of 8 hours, both Senate seats for the traditionally Republican state were forced into a runoff that will take place in early January. If you haven’t seen the documentary “All In” which highlights her efforts, you should.

https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/News/inside-stacey-abrams-fair-fight-2020-operation-election/story?id=65486966

The same people that led that effort are already at work to flip both of those seats to the Democrats. If successful, it will bring the Senate to a 50/50 split, forcing with Vice President-Elect taking over as President of the Senate and the tie breaking vote immediately after inauguration. And the switch from Pence to her in that position will change the Majority position to the Democrats, demoting Mitch McConnell to minority leader.

And with that, we have reached:

STEP 2

You don’t have to be in Georgia to help them.

The simplest method is obviously to pull up the candidates personal campaign websites and donate.

However, your money and time can go even further when combined with the efforts of these organizations. You can donate money to their efforts, you can volunteer your time with phone bank calls and mailing efforts. If you live in Georgia, you can door canvas.

You can also get involved with their national efforts as they are already beginning preparation to continue their success with the 2022 midterms.

https://fairfight.com/
https://secure.actblue.com/donate/peachstate?fbclid=IwAR2wz5INOs9TLgBTt98KXQVVIgD-tuPyJklLjK2hQnDgKelSr4sZFN9RaEM#social

Keep working on Step 1, every day. Do everything you can do help with Step 2 between now and January 5th.

Once next year’s Senate is truly finalized, we can move on to step 3.

A Field Guide to Changing the #Culturalinertia – Part 1

This is not about the candidates for President this election cycle, but the people voting in the election.

Over the years, this blog, and the accompanying Facebook discussion page, have contained an ongoing theme of identifying and discussing ways to address the aspects of our culture we cling to consciously or subconsciously to hold us back. We have been calling this our Cultural Inertia.

An evaluation of the current election results so far has proven to me that I need to approach discussing our #Culturalinertia a bit differently. Over the next several months, I will be posting an ongoing, and cumulative guide on how we need to start dealing with this. Each post will give us the next step to begin working on to make dramatic overall shifts.

As of the time of this writing, 68.6 million people, and counting, have voted for at least four more years of malevolent incompetence, lies, criminality, fascism, racism, sexism, religious bigotry, and weaponization of faux (and real) Christianity through legislation. That’s over 5.5 million more than voted for Trump in 2016.

We can’t not have a serious talk about this.

We cannot truly have freedom in a multicultural society while any of these people remain in positions of power and influence over the lives of others and adhere to these belief systems. Whether that power and influence comes from the office of the presidency, elected or appointed members of government, judges, doctors, nurses, police, first responders, loan approval officers, Neighborhood Watch groups, Home Owners’ Associations, or anywhere else is irrelevant. What matters is that the power to oppress must be removed from the people that would take advantage of it.

Which brings us to:

Step 1

Stop watching what’s happening and passively saying and thinking that “This isn’t America” or “This isn’t my America.”

Because this is America.

This is the America we have always had.

Trump didn’t change the hearts and minds of half of American voters. He simply gave them permission to be open about it to others.

Some still cannot bring themselves to openly admit their believes, so they lied to the poll takers, and their friends, and their family and said they would vote against him. Then they went in the voting centers and pulled the levers, punched the tickets, placed their mark, and pressed the buttons to select his name on the ballot anyway.

As Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station recently stated:

This is the America people of color have been telling us we were part of since its founding.

What Trump has done for the rest of us is remove the blinders so we can no longer pretend we don’t see it happening all around us.

We now know we have neighbors and family members who are among those who adhere to these abhorrent ideologies.

So, what can you do about it?

Start telling yourself, “This isn’t the America I want in the future,” and start actively working to change it by aggressively standing up and calling it out every single time you see it.

No matter who is doing it.

Be Bold. Be relentless. Be uncompromising.

Do not back down.

Do it online and offline, in public and in private.

Don’t fall into the trap of maintaining negative peace. Don’t avoid the necessary conflict to resolve a problem at the expense of allowing the problem to fester, spread, and worsen.

Do not agree to disagree on matters of human and civil rights.

Do not accept that we are all entitled to our opinions when challenging an opinion that is harmful or detrimental to others.

“Get in good trouble.” ~U.S. Rep. John Lewis

Focus on that step for a while, and then I’ll give you Step 2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I implored people to read it them.

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

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

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

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

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

Exposure and Removal

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

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

Reparations — Redefined

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

Investopedia explains:

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

——

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

——

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

Federal Minimum Wage

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

Universal Heath Care

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

Community Reinvestment

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

All these maps still exist.

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

NPR

Equitable Public Education

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

Amended 13th Amendment

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

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

To simply:

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

Repeal Jim Crow

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

Criminal Justice Audit

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

Demilitarize The Police

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

Demilitarize police and end warrior training programs for them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sad, Hard, Brutal Truth

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

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


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

For the most part they are both right.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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.