I was thinking about the retirement of Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and what effect it could have on America’s future. Even though Kennedy was a conservative he often acted as the swing vote in a Court of four liberals and four conservatives. If Trump appoints a conservative the Court would five-four conservative and America’s resent could revert to America’s past along with its future being very uncertain.
A five-four Court could put the hopes of continued social and economic equality on hold for a generation, or more. So, the question is, how can a minority of Democrats in the US Senate protect a balance on the Court. The only viable answer is for the Senate to find the courage to only confirm a moderate or centrist nominee.
On last night’s news there was a story about a convicted felon, a black woman, who mistakenly thought she was permitted to vote in last year’s election. She found out later that Texas felons lose their right to vote and she had unwittingly broken a law. This past week a Texas court sentenced her to five years in prison. As a follow-up NBC cited several examples in which the felon was a man and got off with probation and/or a small fine.
This story reminded me of something that took place around Greenfield back in the 1960s. I was living in California at the time so I only knew what was in the local papers my parents sent me on occasion. It’s also been so long ago I don’t remember all the details.
That said, the story basically involved an area farmer who got involved in a check kiting scheme and before it was over the total dollar amount exceeded a million dollars and several area bank officials got more than a knuckle cracking.
When it was finally settled my parents sent me the local paper and the lead story stated that the farmer ended up walking out the door a free man. The irony was, immediately following this story was a short story about a local woman who was found guilty of writing a bad check and she sentenced to jail.
These are just a couple more examples of American justice not being totally blind. Too often justice turns its blind eye away from women and minorities.
Midnight Express was a powerful film released in 1978. The story was about an American being arrested in Turkey where the onus was on him to prove his innocence. The exposure of the Turkish legal and prison systems was so great it almost destroyed that nation’s tourist industry.
Most Americans strongly support the idea that the burden of proof lies with the government. That a person is innocent until proven guilty. Turkey is one of several nations where the opposite exists.
While I’ve always supported this basic premise I may be changing. Frequently TV cops and lawyers justify incarcerating someone by arguing, “well they may not have done this crime but they’ve done enough other things.” I so believe that Donald J. Trump and members of his family are so guilty of plural crimes I find myself increasingly willing to turn away from this innocent crap. There seems to be so many stinking turds in the Trump closets that somehow one had to be placed there by someone named Trump.
Came across this must read today and just felt I had to share it. The deans of Harvard and Yale law schools put their heads together and wrote an editorial in opposition to Trump’s anti-democratic attacks on the judicial branch. The following appeared February 13, 1017 on Law.Com.
“The deans of Yale Law School and Harvard Law School have joined the growing chorus of lawyers publicly condemning President Donald Trump’s attacks on the judiciary.
I’m sure there are others but the Washington Post and Newsweek Magazine have been seriously digging into Donald Trump’s financial activities. In a major story Newsweek detailed Trump’s international business dealings and pointed out the tremendous risk of conflicts of interest if Trump were to win the White House.
Just this morning Newsweek’s featured article is an exposé of Trump’s highly illegal business involvement with Cuba in 1998. At that time it would have been illegal for any American to invest a single penny in the Cuban economy but one of Trump’s companies, with his knowledge, spent almost $70,000 trying to win influence in Castro’s islands and then hired a company to show them how to hide the illegal activity as a charitable donation.
The Washington Post has published several stories about how Trump’s foundation is used to channel monies from individuals and corporations that owe Trump, into his foundation. Such donations would actually represent income to Trump and therefore subject to income tax. Trump has not claimed it as income and thereby risk charges of tax evasion or fraud.
On many occasions Donald Trump has fired up his crowd with claims that Hillary Clinton hates the 2nd Amendment is if elected is going to absolve the right to bear arms. On at least two occasions Trump has overtly suggested that “2nd Amendment people” may need to resort to violence to protect their rights.
I’ve followed the 2016 presidential race since it began and more closely as it enters the final weeks. No place have I heard Clinton or the Democratic Party issue a policy that threatens the private ownership of firearms. Clinton does have a gun policy and it would limit the ownership of certain types of weapons and it would close a couple of huge loop holes in our gun ownership laws.
This is Constitution Week in America. We are “a nation of laws” and it is the US Constitution that makes us such. One of the great divides in America is over what the Constitution requires of the government and we the people. The historical division has been between strict and liberal construction. It’s like the Bible, is every word to be taken literally or are many things parables that set a general course of behavior?
Strict constructionists believe that if abortion isn’t mentioned in the original words it is then something the federal government has no control over. The 10th Amendment therefore gives the power over abortion to each state to decide for itself. Liberal constructionists believe the original work sets a basic framework that is meant to be flexible as time evolves. You see this in the 2nd Amendment fight over arms. The stricts believe they have a right to own any and all firearms while the liberals believe the authors of the Constitution would never have authorized the civilian ownership of today’s military style weapons.
I was going to stay out of the debate involving the San Francisco quarterback’s refusal to stand during the playing of the National Anthem. But then too many Americans opened up with the overly worn crap about “love it or leave it” and not being able to resist, into the fray comes running the Constitutionally ignorant Donald J. Trump.
As much as to anyone, I’m aiming this at my fellow veterans of the US military. Think back to that moment when you raised your hand and said these words:
“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
At the time you first said these words you may have been too young to fully comprehend what you were avowing to do. But give it some hard thought. You took an oath to uphold the law of the land, the Constitution. To be fair, your promise legally ended on the date of your discharge. But for me, it never did end, all these years later I still feel as honor bound to support and defend the Constitution as I did as a seventeen year old.
I’M THE LAW & ORDER DUDE: Trump says he’d solve crime with tougher cops. Claims Chicago PD told him it would take less than a year if tough cops were unchained. Isn’t tough policing what helped give reason for Black Lives Matter?
I’ve been in a lot of political discussions since the elections of 2016 began. For most of those months I was a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders. When it became clear that Bernie wasn’t going to be the Democratic nominee I bit my lip and got on board the Hillary train.
There are many reasons why I now support Hillary but the most important has to do with who will pick the next members of the US Supreme Court. For decades the Court has been basically divided in a five to four split favoring conservatives. With the death of Scalia and the refusal of the GOP controlled Senate to confirm Obama’s nominee the Court is split four to four and at times has been unable to reach a consensus on important cases.
BULLSHIT: A man is sitting in the parking lot of an auto glass repair center waiting on his appointment to have his windshield replaced. A deputy sheriff pulls in an writes the guy a ticket for having a cracked windshield.
Seems if everyone has a card to play today. Let a woman complain and it’s said she’s playing the female card, African-Americans play the race card, etc. The problem is that too many times those complaining have legitimate gripes but are accused of “playing” the card as a way of undermining or demeaning the complaint.
But on occasion the card really does get played and the player needs called out for it. Take the case of Connie Brown, Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Florida. Brown, along with her chief of staff Elias Simmons, were recently indicted on 22 counts of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, making false statements, wire fraud, and more.
This is a horrible way to begin an essay but if I read, think and type fast enough I may get it competed before the next mass gun related killing spree takes place.
Gun violence statistics in America just keep getting worse. Following the most recent mass murder in Oregon the news sources have been flooded with gun violence statistics. Here’s but a small sample:
In the first ten months of 2015 we have witnessed forty-five school shootings. That’s more than one a week.
In the first ten months of 2015 there have been two hundred and sixty mass shootings.
So far this year 10,064 Americans have been killed by gun fire and 20,482 have been injured.
Since September 10, 2001 3,380 Americans have been killed by domestic terrorist attacks while 406,496 have died from non-terrorist related gun violence.
These numbers are horrible and far exceed those of any other developed nation. There are people in other countries who fear traveling to America just as Americans have feared traveling to places like Columbia in the midst of their drug wars.
There was a time in America when deaths, other than for natural causes, could be more easily understood. Someone got killed during a crime, a domestic violence turned bad, a woman got tired of being beaten by a man, life became too much and a person ended theirs, a hunting accident, a misfire while cleaning a gun, and such. But I simply cannot remember any incident involving someone taking a firearm and setting out to kill as many people as possible before someone took theirs.
That is, until 1966. That was the year when a twenty-five year old student and former Marine climbed atop the University of Texas’ clock tower and with multiple weapons for ninety-six minutes rained death and destruction to those below. When it was over thirteen people were dead and thirty more wounded.
That was forty-nine years ago and what so shocked us then is still shocking us today, even though it occurs today on an almost weekly basis. So far this year, 2015, we have experienced forty-five mass shootings in the United States and with each we collectively express our outrage, our disgust, and our lack of understanding.
What we don’t do is come to agreement over what we’re going to do about it. President Obama recently said that nothing will change until our political leaders decide it will change and that doesn’t seem too likely. The NRA and other pro gun right-wing groups have so radicalized the issue of Second Amendment rights that there is a vocal portion of the citizenry who are so totally entrenched in their “more guns are better” mentality that we can’t have a meaningful discussion. There is a much weaker and less financed element on the left that is maybe just as entrenched in ridding America of all guns.
The politicians don’t seem interested in pursuing solutions because the gun lobby and its NRA minions are so financially powerful the pols won’t risk taking them on. Even appearing to be against the arms industry is enough to cost one their career in politics.
In the meantime the killings go on, the gun nuts continue their “not from my dead fist” defense, and America continues to not question why we are so much worse off than other nations where people own guns. We refuse to look elsewhere and consider how the examples of Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and others could be adapted for our needs.
So what we have, and will continue to have, is a culture in which we will almost weekly collectively express our horror while as best we can, avoid walking past any college clock towers.
The seemingly never-ending saga of Kim Davis hasn’t dropped out of the news cycle yet. Like so many people I’m getting tired of hearing about it. But, unlike lots of people, as a former US Government teacher, I see it as a teachable moment and if I were still in the classroom we’d be all over this one as a means of displaying how the Constitution works.
One of the best teachable moments in my career was the controversy regarding the showing of John Mapplethorpe’s photographs in a Cincinnati art museum. It was a great opportunity to talk about the issue of free speech how the courts had interpreted it over the decades. Basically the courts have said that not all speech is protected but offensive speech is. When some tried to prevent the Westboro Baptist Church from spewing their insults about dead American service persons the Supreme Court ruled that even though their actions were offensive we the people aren’t protected from being offended.