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.

The Subversive Brilliance of the House Managers.

The House Managers have effectively wrapped up two days of opening statements, and I’ve taken the night to reflect upon them as a whole.

Having done so, I have a few comments on the overall all strategy and my impressions both as they happened and in reflection.

First the critiques I felt as it was happening:

I felt it was a mistake not only to address the Biden conspiracy theories Trump used as a motivation basis for the actions for which he has being impeached. It opens the door for the defense team to really dig into that at great length.

I also felt that they went a bit over the top with the droning repetition of the same points as they continued to build upon the context framework.

Finally, I believed they used the term “Quid pro quo” far too often and should have instead said variants of “Coerce” and “Extort” to drive the point of illegality home more thoroughly.

But, let me address why reflection shows these were both actually subversively brilliant strategy.

The House Managers began their opening statements with the history of impeachment law and abuse of power, to refute the expected defense claim that a president cannot be impeached, and even if a president could that these offenses don’t rise to an impeachable level.

They then explained the irrefutable evidence of the timeline of the actions of the president and his agents.

Next they combined the timeline with the law to show exactly how and where the violations occurred.

The annoying repetition throughout ensured that those attempting to tune it out or stepping out of the room to avoid being exposed to hearing it or seeing the visual evidence presented would be unable to completely avoid it no matter how hard they tried.

The repeated use of “Quid pro quo” is also nothing but bait for a trap of the defense team which will feel compelled to outline and stipulate to the actions in their attempt to prove it doesn’t qualify, and in so doing they will have to admit what was actually done and why.

Their focus on once again debunking the Biden conspiracy theories seemed to unfortunately lend credence to the arguments as worthy of examination (if only to refute them again). However, there are many Trump loyalists in the Senate and his defense team is likely to be unable to pass the opportunity to seize on this as a massive part of their defense

They will see this as grounds to force their own witness and evidence subpoenas upon the Biden’s to both stall the proceedings and delay the final vote. Even Trump will be hard pressed not to try to force this to happen. But to do so, they will have to allow witness testimony and further evidentiary discovery, which is how the House Managers get the opportunity to force the Administration and government agencies to comply with discovery submission also.

Finally, just in case the ploy for additional witnesses and evidence fails, they presented extensive video and documentary evidence during their opening that fully proved their case for any viewer with any reasoning capability at all, and Schiff wrapped it all up with a powerful instruction for sentencing on the expectation that his these opening statements have a great possibility of also serving as their closing statements.

In my lifetime, whether in reality or fiction, I have never seen a more masterful display of courtroom strategy than that of the House Managers this week.

The House Impeachment Managers are not using Schiff’s final moments last night to close out entirely though, and will spend their remaining time Friday detailing the obstruction charges.

If you cannot be there for all of it, be there for the final 30 minutes to see Schiff finish up one last time.

I expect it will be his best yet.

Image source

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