#33 Obstruction

If you think #MAGA means anything other than Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, you are the person these tweets were written for.

Obstruction EP. 33 – 09.21.19
TrumpConLawObstruction EP. 33 – 09.21.19

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

The charge of high crimes and misdemeanors covers allegations of misconduct by officials, such as perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, unbecoming conduct, refusal to obey a lawful order, chronic intoxication, and tax evasion. Offenses by officials also include ordinary crimes, but perhaps with different standards of proof and punishment than for nonofficials, on the grounds that more is expected of officials by their oaths of office.

An example of a bad Wikipedia page.

The above came up in a Google search as an example of what the phrase High Crimes and Misdemeanors means, and it is a pretty common example of the kind of confusion that I see among the non-legally educated public. I’ve heard this dozens of times from a myriad of places; and the confusion over this phrase, like the confusion over the purpose of the Electoral College, is about to drive me nuts unless I take the time to explain it at least once.

If you were to speak to lawyers about the meanings of these terms, you would get a completely different answer than you would get out of the general public or from the mass media or social media. Specifically, High Crimes and Misdemeanors is a phrase in the U.S. Constitution. It is a term of art, not a type of crime that we must define through some mystic process in order for it to be understood. The definitions already exist.

A misdemeanor is a known quantity defined by law, just like a felony is defined by law.

Felonies and misdemeanors are two classifications of crimes used in most states, with petty offenses (infractions) being the third. Misdemeanors are punishable by substantial fines and sometimes jail time, usually less than one year. Felonies are the most serious type of crime and are often classified by degrees, with a first degree felony being the most serious. They include terrorism, treason, arson, murder, rape, robbery, burglary, and kidnapping, among others.

Findlaw – Classifications of Crimes

There are many possible misdemeanors that could be charged against the sitting president, if a president could be indicted in the fashion that a normal citizen could be charged. I would go so far as to argue that this president should be charged as if he was a normal citizen considering that he is well beneath the quality of human being that I would define as normal, but the niceties of tradition and political maneuvering hamstring most of the arguments that would allow for the direct prosecution of a sitting president for provable crimes in your average courtroom in Washington D.C. or elsewhere.

Lacking the ability to bring charges against a sitting president directly, we have, by definition, to be able to remove a president without having to meet the high standards that a criminal prosecution would require; in other words, the bar for impeachment of a official is lower than the bar for convicting an average citizen. This is because the standards of behavior are higher for political officeholders than the standards of behavior for your average fry cook.

That is why the term high crimes is used in the U.S. Constitution rather than the legal term felony.

high crime : a crime of infamous nature contrary to public morality but not technically constituting a felony

specifically : an offense that the U.S. Senate deems to constitute an adequate ground for removal of the president, vice president, or any civil officer as a person unfit to hold public office and deserving of impeachment

Webster’s Legal Definition of High Crime

It is worth noting (h/t to Chris Hayes) that treason and bribery are listed crimes which can be brought against a sitting president for the purposes of impeachment, and that both treason and bribery can be proven from the behavior of Donald Trump without even breaking a sweat trying. This is above and beyond the phrase high crimes and misdemeanors which covers everything a president might do that was beneath treason and bribery but still not things a president should do.

…and that is why I have maintained that Donald Trump was a fool to even try to run for the office of the president for three years running. This is still my opinion, and the evidence for this opinion has only increased over his time in office. Impeachment is a pro forma operation when it comes to Trump, inc. His crimes are known. I, a layman, have detailed his crimes across the hundred-odd posts on this blog that I’ve written about this subject, and there are many more crimes that I’m sure I’ve missed in the last three years of the non-stop Trump media orgy we’ve all lived through. As to the specific criminal charges relating to the 2016 election that could be brought against him, those are icing on the cake. They aren’t needed, although everyone seems to think they are what will determine the future of the Trump presidency.

They won’t, because they aren’t the crimes that can be proven here and now. The Mueller report documents the crimes of obstruction that could be brought against Donald Trump, but he rightly or wrongly refused to bring those charges against him. In any case, the job of accusing and then convicting a sitting president and removing him from office falls to the Senate once articles of impeachment are passed by the House of Representatives. The crimes that can be proven right here and now without a protracted redaction fight in the courts are the financial crimes documented by his corporate accountants, and these crimes are a subpoena away from being proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #65

People who expect Trump to last another two years should probably hang onto their seats (yes, I’m looking at you) because it is liable to get really messy over the next 18 months. No one can tell you what will happen, because nothing like this has ever occurred in the history of the United States. We are in the moment of crisis when Rome became an empire and was no longer a Republic. We are in the twilight era when the USSR was ceasing to function, but continued to grind on for a decade and more through sheer inertia.

The impeachments should not be limited to Trump, either. The Attorney General, the Treasury Secretary, even the Vice President are all open targets based solely on their behavior within the Trump administration. The emoluments clause remains the albatross hanging around all of their necks, collectively. They have all conspired to allow Donald Trump to profit from the office of the president, allowed him to steal funds directly from all of us to further his own fortunes. This cannot be tolerated.

The Trump administration will end a longstanding requirement that certain nonprofit organizations disclose the names of large donors to the Internal Revenue Service, a move that will allow some political groups to shield their sources of funding from government scrutiny.

New York Times

We The People not only expect but demand that we be told who buys whom and at what price, no matter how much power that person or group believes they have. This will be true for as long as as bribery, private financing for campaigns, is allowed. Mnuchin answers directly to Trump. He should be indicted along with Trump and the rest of his administration for high crimes and misdemeanors. This is no longer a request. #ImpeachTrump or join him on the dock to be charged with him. Pick one.

If you are afraid of where the truth might take you, if your loyalty is to a would be king and not the nation, then you are complicit. If you’re outraged at my words instead of at the thought of what that process might find, if you don’t want to know the truth, well, then you’re the problem.

Stonekettle Station

A Real Witch Hunt

I didn’t watch the witch hunt that was televised today (Thursday September 28th, 2018) although I have seen several stories in the media telling me how everyone else did watch. That would be their time to waste in watching the execution of a good woman’s reputation. I didn’t watch just like I didn’t watch the debates with the Orange Hate-Monkey. Brett Kavanaugh is lying now, just like the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) was lying then. Everyone knows Kavanaugh is lying. They know he is lying because he refused to ask for an FBI investigation when prompted. Repeatedly. So everyone in that Judiciary Committee hearing knew he was lying, but they all have to stick to their scripts.

The Judiciary committee Senate did burn the woman. The professional. The established doctor with a life and reputation of her own on the line. They always burn the woman, or as I said recently, #IBelieveHer and That Still Isn’t Enough People.

Do you know how we know that Mueller’s investigation isn’t a witch hunt? There are no women accused. There are no women accused and the Orange Hate-Monkey is still in office two years later. If the OHM had been a woman, if Hillary Clinton had won the election in 2016, there would already be a high rise built on the spot where her body was burnt eighteen months ago. Because witch hunts come to a speedy conclusion and they inevitably convict innocent people.

I started to watch the debates between Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz last week. Ted Cruz was lying before he even got out of his opening comments. What’s the point of listening to defacto, demonstrable liars? People who start off lying and never stop lying, playing dirty, blaming others for their behavior? Save yourself some time, spare yourself and the furniture the wear and tear of torment like that. They’re lying, they’re going to keep lying, so let’s get on to the next thing. What is the next thing, you ask? filling the streets of Washington DC with enough people that normal life comes to a standstill until this travesty of a Presidency comes to an end. That has been the next thing that needs doing since January 20, 2017.


Illness got in the way of my documenting the travesty of the Kavanaugh confirmation (as mentioned here) I’m going to append the material I intended to include in the further documentation to this post in a largely unedited format.

LatinoUSA, The Immigrant Woman Who Confronted Senator Flake, Oct. 2, 2018

I’ve shared that post widely. Many people who don’t follow Stonekettle Station expressed agreement with the words. It hadn’t occurred to me to think what might have happened had Kavanaugh not channeled the Orange Hate-Monkey until I read that post. Then it struck me. He was right. Kavanaugh’d be on the court already, if he had simply done the standard wring your hands I’m sorry bullshit. If he had done that instead of blow his top, they would have held the full Senate vote that day. Trump inspired him to destroy his own career by telling him to go hard. Whatever it is he’s hiding will come to light now, just as Trump’s dirty laundry airs on a nearly nightly basis these days.

…tell me again, why do people think the OHM knows anything about politics? Because I don’t think he knows thing one about the subject. 

…also, I’m hoping the FBI does what the interrogator did to Kavanaugh at the hearing. Probed in sensitive spots in such a way that the skeletons fall out of the closet. “Oops, we didn’t mean to do that!” But you are probably right. The White House is going to try to orchestrate the investigation.

Facebook comment backdated to the blog.

However, there was a ton of pushback that Jim got from elsewhere on Facebook, leading him to write an even longer post on the subject two days later.

I was NOT suggesting Kavanaugh cop to rape. Again, you MUST have seen enough of this to know how it works. There’s a list a couple hundred deep on Wikipedia of American politicians caught with their pants down.

I mean, you guys read the paper right? You watch the news? You know this is NOT the first guy with a shady sexual history nominated for office, right?

Lawyers write non-apology apologies for politicians all of the time without admitting anything. Kavanaugh IS a lawyer. The Senate committee confirming him are almost all lawyers. The SENATE is mostly lawyers. You people HAVE to know how this game is played? Right? You’ve seen it often enough.

There’s a formula for this: The guy makes some sort of vague tearful apology written by a lawyer without admitting anything. The powers-that-be use that to justify their approval AND their dismissal of the victims and any public protest. Confirmation. Business as usual.

Now before you start misinterpreting THAT statement, I didn’t say it was right. This formula. I said it IS. Call it the Patriarchy. Call it White Privilege. Call it Politics As Usual or the Swamp or whatever.” 

Stonekettle Station

It literally blew my mind that people did not understand what the first post was getting at. That he had to write a post three times longer than the first one just to get the key points across. As if this was grade school and you have to lead these people by the hands to get them to understand. I write, too. I get that narratives are hard to construct. But seriously, some people should stick to watching children’s cartoons rather than trying to master big words and hard concepts.

Reviewing the evidence revealed by the talking heads I listened to, talking heads endlessly discussing the hearings, I came away with the fact that Christine Blasey Ford, the prosecutor that the Senate Judiciary Committee had hired to cross-examine now Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, got him to reveal his character by making him lose his cool. He had secrets he was hiding, and he wasn’t going to reveal them willingly. He probably should have played with himself before going into that hearing. It might have made him less of a raging asshole, but I doubt it.

After this groundbreaking revelation, that Kavanaugh was lying on the stand, an impeachable error for a sitting justice, the Republican leadership of the committee fired Christine Blasey Ford, burning another witch. They had two witch burnings in one Senate hearing, and they counted that as a success. I know that Lindsey Graham saw it that way. The Senate Republicans burned the witches and pretended none of that bad stuff that Justice Kavanaugh was accused of ever happened. Just as they did with Justice Thomas. #IBelieveHer and That Still Isn’t Enough People. The outcome of the hearings was preordained by the Republican leadership of the Senate. Holding the hearings were just a sham.

On top of that, justice Kavanaugh was drunk on the witness stand. Pull up the video of his Senate hearing. Look at the flush on his nose and cheeks. That man is one angry drunk. I pity his wife and children.

Only stupid people like the Orange Hate-Monkey and his MAGA supporters fell for the charade that the Senate performed that day. Now we have two people accused of sexual assault sitting on the SCOTUS and the stage is set for the drama that conservatives have been waiting breathlessly for ever since Roe was decided, convinced that they’ll be able to put women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant as often as they can put them there. They’ve got their pandering Trump card stacking the federal courts in conservative favor. A task that was made possible by a Senate Majority Leader who should have been removed from office for dereliction of duty in 2010 when he stated his plans to do nothing for Obama while he was president.

#IBelieveHer and That Still Isn’t Enough People

I want to tell you a story. No, scratch that introduction. This is not something I want to do. I need to tell you a story. This is a story that has needed to be told for quite some time. It’s a true story, so I will take a little literary license with the details to masque the identities of those involved; but the story remains true enough that those involved will know the truth of this story. Both the guilty and the innocent will know the truth of this.

It was 40 years ago. A young woman stumbled into a frat party near a  lake. She was naked. Her hair was matted with twigs and dirt. She was half-drowned, very drunk and confused. She said she had escaped from someone trying to kill her. She was raving. She sounded crazy. Someone had snuck up behind her while she was answering the call of nature. A few too many beers, she said. He had raped her, tried to strangle her, and then dumped what he thought was her dead body in the lake. “I’m a good swimmer” she declared, triumphantly.

No one that found her knew who she was. She had been brought to the party by friends from another frat. Just looking at her, you could tell, she had been through some serious trauma. So these benefactors, these people who had no idea who she was, took her to the hospital where it was confirmed that she had been raped by someone. The police were called. Yes, she said. I want to press charges. Yes, she said, I know who it was that raped me and tried to kill me. She gave his name to the police.

…and that was when the trouble started. This young man was well known, a hometown kid. She was a nobody. She had been shipped off to this far-away place because she had gotten pregnant.

Her high school sweetheart had been insisting they should have sex for most of their senior year. They had just graduated. It was time to celebrate, so she finally gave in to his desires and her own. And why not? She wasn’t going to the college she wanted to attend. Her parents had refused to send her to Europe, to the conservatory that had invited her to attend. A full scholarship, if she could only get there. To Europe, where her musical talents could be properly honed. They refused to buy her a plane ticket, even though they could pay for it. “You can’t make a living playing music” they told her. So here she was, in the arms of the man she thought she would marry. There was little else to look forward to, from her perspective.

She wasn’t stupid. She knew that she could get pregnant, but she loved him. She thought he loved her, until she found out she was pregnant and told him. Then he disavowed her. He said he’d never had sex with her, so it couldn’t be his child. He was going to the college he wanted, after all. He couldn’t stay there, get married and raise kids. That just wasn’t his plans for his future.

Alone and pregnant, she was sent away to live with foster parents. Sent away to a place where none of the friends and family would know of her dirty little secret. The dirty secret that she had been foolish enough to believe a man when he told her he loved her.

She did the right thing. She carried the child to term, because that’s what you are supposed to do. She carried the child to term and gave it up for adoption. That was the christian thing to do. Accept your punishment for having sex, and give birth to children you can’t afford. Children that you give away to strangers who can afford to raise them for you. She went through all of that, because that was what she was supposed to do.

With the embarrassment of nine months of a belly she didn’t want, a child she couldn’t keep, couped up with people she barely knew but strangely adopted as parents anyway; with all of that behind her, she set her sights on doing the best with what she had left of her life plans.

She still had her musical talent, even if she wouldn’t be touring Europe as part of an orchestra, the role she really was suited for. Her college friends envied her her gift, a natural ear for music and the ability to pick up nearly any instrument and play it well enough to shine in state competitions. But teaching music was the best she could hope for now. She didn’t relish the thought of teaching others to play, but if that was the best she could do, that is what she would shoot for.

A few months into her delayed college education, she was invited to that fateful party. She had a little too much to drink. She had the misfortune of needing to relieve herself. She left herself vulnerable to the jealous and the talentless, albeit well-liked, hometown boy. A hometown boy with a grudge.

Once again, she did the right thing. The thing you are supposed to do. She knew her attacker, even though she was drunk at the time. She knew what he had tried to do to her, had actually thought he had achieved. He thought she was dead when he left her floating in the water. She would be just another body found washed up on a beach somewhere.

A tragic accident. Except it was rape and attempted murder, and you don’t let that go unpunished. She pressed charges against the hometown boy, faced him in court. She accused him of the crimes that there was far more than sufficient evidence for. She accused him from the stand, and yet he was found not guilty by the jury.

Why was he found not guilty? Because she had done the right thing, over and over. She had yielded to the man she wanted to marry. She had carried the resultant child to birth and given it away. She had shrugged it all off and made the best of what she had left. She had the temerity to stand tall and not be embarrassed by the things society told her were embarrassing. Why should it be embarrassing? Doing the right thing should be praiseworthy. Shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t it?

“But,” they said, “she was a loose woman.” This was evident because she had given birth recently. Given birth instead of having an abortion and hiding the evidence of her improprieties, her loose ways. Loose women just want to have sex, and clearly she wanted to have sex with this hometown boy. When he rejected her, she staged the entire scene. Choked herself, tried to drown herself, rolled around in the dirt, naked, and threw herself on unsuspecting strangers in order to malign the hometown boy. Who was the court to believe? This loose woman, spirited away from her family and friends in order to save their reputations? Or should the court believe this fine, upstanding hometown boy who, while musically talentless, was still a handsome young man with a promising future? Who indeed?

Who indeed? Not guilty. Case dismissed. Free as a bird, he flew. Still flies. As I said, a true story. True enough, anyway.

So when I read stories about why didn’t they come forward? In the news these days, news about high profile judges and corporate leaders and politicians galore, men of high stature accused of the wrongs that they’ve hidden in plain sight until finally some woman has had enough that she just won’t take it anymore and risks everything to shine the light of justice on these loathsome individuals, I don’t even have to ask

Why don’t they come forward?

I know why.

They didn’t come forward before, and most of them will not come forward now because they won’t be believed. As the latest accusations about Brett Kavanaugh circulate, while the Pussy Grabber-in-Chief defends him, and the same old song and dance plays out. The women are condemned while the guilty men fly free. Just like it always has happened before.

These women are not believed by far, far too many people. It’s too convenient not to believe if believing means you have to change who and what you think is right in the world. You wouldn’t come forward if you were them, and you are deluded if you think otherwise. Until these guilty men are punished there are not enough people who believe the women. That is the simple fact in front of all of us right now. Until they are punished, there will be no justice for women in this world.

You tell me the world has changed much since 1994.

And yet here you are, telling me that we should put that same old mindset, boys will be boys, all boys do it, on the Supreme Court and you know, it’s hard for me to see that much of anything has changed at all.

Stonekettle Station
I’ve always liked this photo. A calming image for a troubling article.

A Lakeside Encounter

Naked and wet, she stumbles out of the tall grass near the lake’s edge and collapses at my feet. To my eyes she looked like a goddess, limned in a halo of light from the far-off city streets behind her, as I caught first sight of her. It’s probably the alcohol we’ve all been drinking affecting my judgement. Or maybe she was a ghost, a vengeful spirit come to exact her toll upon unsuspecting campers and night fishermen. And then there she was as real as the beer can in my hand lying at my feet in her birthday suit.

“I made it” she giggles and then burps prodigiously, shattering the unearthly image. “Excuse me!” she exclaims and seems genuinely mortified. “I’ve had a little too much to drink” she offers “maybe even a lot too much” she adds hesitantly, looking around and suddenly noticing things are not quite adding up right, that there seems to be a few things missing.

“You’re gonna want to go find your clothes” I offered helpfully. Ever a gentleman, I think to myself. “Yep” she says “I am naked alright” as if finally figuring out what was missing in the equation. “How did I get naked?” she starts to cry “Where are my clothes?”


Editor’s note. A fictionalized intro to the true story I created a narrative for in this article.

Monuments to Traitors

Statues of Confederate figures are coming down all over the country, but the names of generals who fought for the South during the Civil War remain on U.S. military bases.

Ten Army posts in the South are named for Confederate officers — including the nation’s largest, Fort Bragg in North Carolina. It’s named for Gen. Braxton Bragg, who commanded 40,000 troops battling the Union Army.

NBC

Military bases should not be named for traitors anymore than we should have monuments to traitors on our soil. This really is a no-brainer of a problem, especially when you realize that most of the Confederate monuments were installed as part of the resurgence of White Supremacy in the early part of the 20th century, not part of remembrance for true American war heroes.

This is basic common sense, monuments are to people who deserve to be admired, not to people who fought on the wrong side of history attempting to extend the time that their peculiar institution could be practiced without being seen as the injustice that it was. The names should be changed, the monuments removed and replaced with more appropriate remembrances. Maybe each statue should be replaced with a lynching memorial, a reflection of the true legacy of slavery.

New York Timesmuseumandmemorial.eji.org

A radically expanded Facebook status.

Quentin Tarantino Doesn’t Hate Cops

The title of this piece over on the Washington Times was enough to set me off,

“Quentin Tarantino called police on home intruder less than two weeks before anti-cop speech”

For instance, the speech wasn’t “anti-cop”, that is simply repeating the misinformation spread by the police union representative. So even the title is inaccurate on its face. Tarantino had an interview on MSNBC yesterday in which he spelled out the context of his speech, and the reason why he used the term murderers in relation to the specific murders which have been committed by cops.

ALL IN – Quentin Tarantino responds to controversy – Nov. 4, 2015

The hysteria surrounding the population’s willingness to film and confront police officers who are clearly not acting in the best interest of the general population is just that. Hysterical. As in, hysterically funny.  My response to this is to start a Quentin Tarantino viewing marathon.  To plan on watching his new film even though I hadn’t even heard of it until this story broke. Congratulations fear-mongering police supporters, you’ve made money for Tarantino with your stupidity on this subject.

Robert Reich’s Big Picture for Fixing the Economy

The series of  linked videos below highlight ideas to fix the economy, the top 11 12 points on Robert Reich‘s mind when it comes to our current economic problems.  These aren’t rocket science or socialism, just some pretty hard-nosed factual recommendations; and we’d do well to follow them.  They run contrary to the long debunked refrain of Reaganomics or trickle-down economics that has held sway in the US since Ronaldus Maximus was President, long before most of the people currently breathing on this planet were born.

They also run counter to most current libertarian economic theory. It is painful to say this, but most libertarian thought on the subject of economics is so woefully uneducated that I almost balk at calling them out. Doing so is not likely to be profitable based on the standard of keeping old friends. As I was crafting this article a post from a good friend on Facebook showed up, trumpeting the flat tax proposals of Libertarian darling Rand Paul.

A flat tax will do nothing to recapture the ill-gotten gains of the wealthiest Americans, the people who profited from the latest boom and bust, as well as the previous boom and bust cycles. Cycles that have grown shorter and shorter since deregulation went into effect under…  Ronald Reagan, who was also influenced by libertarian ideas of his time.

Recapturing this cash and redistributing it to the vast majority of Americans through increased pay and investment in infrastructure is essential if we are going to build a functioning economy and not fuel the next cycle of boom and bust.  It is the outrageous amounts of cash that allow the 1% to engage in risky stock market betting like we’ve seen since the 1980’s.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A word about the composition of this post. Linking videos that are native on Facebook is a stupidly fiddly process, and Facebook is where I found these videos first. Consequently the text intro for each is a Facebook link, while the videos are from Youtube, giving me the ability to watch and comment on each video while it is running.

#1 is raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

MoveOnThe Big Picture: Fight for $15 with Robert Reich – May 11, 2015

There are several common misconceptions about the minimum wage. He hits most of those points in the video. The free market types who object to minimum wage laws on the basis that it interferes with employer/employee contracts, or that it could cause inflation, only see part of the bigger picture which Reich addresses in the video.  Commerce relies on the majority of the population being able to afford the goods generally available to that population.  That means paying the working class enough for them to live on.

#2 is to make work family friendly.

MoveOnThe Big Picture: Help Families Work with Robert Reich – May 11, 2015

I quit my regular job to raise our second child. We could not afford to put our child into expensive daycare, and I really wanted to spend time at home with what I knew would be our last baby, having missed seeing much of our firstborn in her early years due to the demands of an architectural career in the job climate prevalent in the US.  Had it been possible for me to take on outsource work at home, work from home, etc. the impact on our families’ finances would have been less drastic. Had it been possible for the Wife to spend meaningful time with the baby while still working in her tech career, I might not have had to give up architecture for a few years longer, might have enjoyed my final years in my chosen profession before being sidelined with a disability.

#3 is to expand Social Security.

MoveOnThe Big Picture: Expand Social Security with Robert Reich – May 18, 2015

As a current Social Security beneficiary, I should probably recuse myself from commenting on this video. Still, it bears mentioning that the the cap that he focuses on is far too low (because of past inflation) and that rather than set a dollar figure cap, if a higher cap is the compromise solution, there should be a median income calculation involved in determining what the cap should be.  Inflation will continue. Wages will continue to rise. Upper range incomes will continue to get higher unless we re-institute confiscatory income tax (90% as it was when introduced) for high wage earners. Might as well write laws that take it into account.

#4 is to bust up Wall Street.

MoveOnThe Big Picture: Tame Wall Street – May 18, 2015

How I wish this one stood a chance of happening.  I only do business with a bank when I’m required to; unfortunately that happens more today than it did in decades past. The reason for this is the lax rules on banks that should never have been relaxed in the first place.

Most of what is happening today is reminiscent of what occurred at the turn of the last century.  One of the books I’m currently reading is The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism much of the battle the occurred then is re-occurring now.  Nearly daily I get a sense of deja vu reading the news.  I recognize this struggle.  It is a shame that more people do not learn from history.

#5 is how to reinvent education.

MoveOnThe Big Picture: Reinvent Education – May 20, 2015

This one carried no real news for me. Having gotten one child through college and working on getting the second one through high school, and being an involved parent, has left me with few delusions about the state of US schools.  They are pathetic.  So pathetic, in fact, that I paid for private school for my children (Montessori) until their needs weren’t met by the school. Then I took the time to make sure they went to good charter schools, magnet schools, etc.  Anything except the standard schools offered to average Texans.

The objection often raised to charter schools is that they are religious in nature.  While it is true that some alternative schools are religious, the schools I selected for my children have actually had less religious content (generally) than the public schools in Texas promote.  Sometimes people seek alternatives for very good reasons.

#6 is to end corporate welfare.

MoveOn The Big Picture: End Corporate Welfare – May 25, 2015

This is an old favorite of mine.  If corporations get handouts then everyone should get handouts; because the corporations demonstrably don’t need anything to continue existing.  They have no physicality to maintain, being figments of law in the first place.  We would be much better off handing money to every citizen rather than handing it out to corporations.

#7 is to strengthen labor unions.

MoveOnThe Big Picture: Strengthen Unions – May 28, 2015

I’ve never been a fan of unions; still, it is hard to argue against the positive effects that collective bargaining can bring to the employment side of the equation.  Collective bargaining levels the playing field when negotiating with large employers.  Unionization lead to days off, 8 hour work days, breaks for meals, extra pay for overtime, etc, etc, etc.

When capitalists spit at socialism in my presence these days, I point out the benefits that have come to the working masses due to the influence of socializing forces like unionization.  If you don’t want to go back to working nude in the same place you sleep, with your children huddled around you at night for warmth because your employer is too cheap to heat the workplace (read The Bully Pulpit as mentioned previously) unions are a good thing to have.

(Putting employee representation on the board of public corporations, making corporations worker owned, would do more to fix the uneven playing field more quickly than creating an adversarial relationship between employers and employees with traditional labor unions. -ed.)

#8 is to raise the estate tax on the very wealthy.

MoveOnThe Big Picture: Raise the Estate Tax – Jun 2, 2015

Everyone who can work, should work.  The existence of a wealthy class who feel entitled to live off of the earnings of their parents and grandparents is contrary to the ideals that the US was founded on. Contrary to the Midwestern work ethic most of us grew up with. It is hard enough for me as a disabled person who is lucky to get from the bed to the chair some days to justify not working.  I can’t even fathom the thought processes of the 1% who wouldn’t dream of working for a living.

Or to quote Chris Rock ‘If poor people knew how rich the rich are, there would be riots’.

The following video isn’t one of the series I’m commenting on here, but it bears reposting.

politizaneWealth Inequality in America – Nov 20, 2012

It and the other videos in the playlist talk about this same subject, how wealth inequality is worse than it has been in almost a century, and the last time it was like this, the economy didn’t improve until after we fought the second world war.  That should not be a direction we should head in this time around.

Also in that playlist is a trailer for Robert Reich‘s excellent film Inequality for All.  I have viewed the film several times on Netflix and recommend it to anyone who wants to get a feel for the problems America currently faces.  This as opposed to repeating trickle-down mantras in the hopes that they will self-correct and prove themselves true in the long run.

#9 is to make polluters pay US.

MoveOnThe Big Picture: Make Polluters Pay – Jun 8, 2015

I can still hear the screaming raised against the carbon tax back when President Obama first took office and suggested some of these very things.  Six plus years later, it is even clearer that the only solution is to do exactly what this video suggests. Make the oil companies and energy companies pay to use carbon producing fuels.  Incentivize the use of green technologies.  CO2 is over 400 now.  We can’t keep adding it to the atmosphere.  We just can’t, if we want our species to continue.

#10 End mass incarceration, now!

MoveOnThe Big Picture: End Mass Incarceration – Jun 16, 2015

This is probably the biggest point of agreement with libertarian/anarchist thinking on the subject of governance and the economy. The kind of thinking I was most frequently exposed to while active in the LP of Texas for about a decade. The business of keeping prisoners has been a target of small government types for years, long before the average American or the re-emerging liberal majority took notice of it. It is a serious embarrassment that the US has 2.5 million members of its population behind bars; more than any other nation on the face of the planet.


Needless to say, as soon as the 10 were out, there was a glaring need for one more item on the list (isn’t that the way it always works?) So here is the latest one;

#11 Medicare for all.

MoveOnThe Big Picture: The Medicare Solution – Jun 17, 2015

The problem with most free market approaches to healthcare is that modern medicine is too complex. It’s ability to function, to deliver its product (if health is even a product that can be sold) is tightly linked to corporate structures that are themselves an imposition on free markets. Price gouging is a part of the calculation of every new drug introduced to the market, how much can we get away with charging for this drug? And testing and development of these drugs requires large staffs, deep pockets, wide access to the population. The only way to counter the corporate nature of modern medicine is to either subject them to public control directly (which would be socialism with all the baggage that a state-run organization brings to the table. This would stifle innovation) or to leverage the pricing of the drugs and services produced with collective bargaining. It has to be one way or the other. Neither solution is pretty, but the group purchasing option that medicare provides leaves the companies free to do what they do best, produce goods for the general public.


He swears this is the last one.  Makes an even dozen.

#12 Get Money Out of Politics.

MoveOnBig Picture: Get Big Money Out of Politics – Jun 23, 2015

I’ve been on this bandwagon for about a year now.  Maybe longer.  I blogged about this subject after reading several scholarly articles on the subject of campaign finance, and reading Lawrence Lessig’s book Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It which is free online now. In my article from last November, following the election, I list the various groups working to get money out of politics.  If you want to get involved in politics, if you want to see any of these many points acted on and made policy, then I suggest you contact one of those groups or get involved in your local precinct for whichever flavor of the two major parties that you prefer (D or R) if you object and say “I want more choices than that” then I need to be frank with you.  Including more choices than those two on ballots requires more work than even the 12 points addressed here would require.  You’re welcome to engage in that struggle if you have the strength for it. Or just go vote when the time comes. If you don’t know where that is, go here.

His book Saving Capitalism should be in bookstores (if you can find one) soon.  You can vote on which one of these 12 ideas will be a new campaign for Moveon to promote here.  Has to be #12 for me.

It’s Called Torture

I have resisted writing on this subject. I’ve resisted writing on this subject because it’s black and white to me.  As a matter of course you treat innocent people (people not convicted of a crime) as if they haven’t done anything wrong. People are in the wrong place at the wrong time even when you’re fighting a battle in a third world country.

This view puts me at odds with most law enforcement, even in the US, where any visit to the holding cells for people recently arrested will result in horrified outrage at the treatment of people awaiting processing. But depraved conditions in the local holding pen because of the tight-fistedness of local government is nothing compared to intentionally causing physical and emotional pain to people simply because we can, because we are in charge and want to assert our authority.

There is an excellent essay up on Stonekettle Station right now on this subject.  Jim Wright has the experience to back up what he says when it comes to the subject of taking prisoners in a time of war, of just how hard it is to take a high moral road when you really are in the thick of it.

I, me personally? I would do whatever it took, including torture, if that was the only way to save the city, if that was the only way to save my family, if that was the only way to save you. As a military officer, yes, I would. Absolutely. I wouldn’t order my men to do it, I’d do it myself. I shove a hose up the bastard’s nose and turn on the water. I’d shoot out his knees. I’d cut off his balls. You bet. If that’s what it took. I’d do it without hesitation.

And I’d do it knowing I was breaking the law, and I would expect to be tried for the crime and sent to prison.

I would.

Because even if I saved the day, I’d be wrong.

Good intentions do not justify evil.

A just cause does not justify injustice. No more than if I donned a cape and tights and drove around Gotham in the night killing criminals without trial or due process.

Stonekettle Station

It’s worth noting, in our depraved current era, that not even Batman killed the subjects he pursued in the original comic books.  The same is true for all the heroes of previous generations.  They didn’t kill, they didn’t torment, they didn’t torture. That was what the villains did. That was why the Punisher was a villain when introduced in the comic sphere.  Because he killed, he tortured. He was evil.

Nowadays our heroes are not heroic in any sense of the word.  Sports stars pummel their wives unconscious on video and go unpunished. Beat their children to the point that they need medical attention, and expect to be let off without suffering consequences. Police officers are filmed strangling and shooting unarmed men, and remain unprosecuted. Politicians don’t even flinch at being caught in hypocrisy any longer. They just explain it away as some thing they said but didn’t really mean.

I only have one response for people who think we should be subjecting prisoners to torture, which is what enhanced interrogation techniques are.  You can be seen as free of hypocrisy, supporting the systematic use of torture, if you willingly undergo it yourself. I mean, if innocent people can be subjected to this kind of treatment, then anyone should be able to undergo the treatment without ill effects.

Christopher Hitchens thought waterboarding was no big deal, until he allowed himself to be waterboarded. here’s the video of it.

Vanity Fair (via Archive.org) & Christopher Hitchens
Youtube Video – Christopher Hitchens Gets Waterboarded

I expect Dick Cheney to submit himself to waterboarding, or to the Hague for prosecution for war crimes.  He should do so within the week.  Unlike someone subject to waterboarding, I wouldn’t suggest you hold your breath waiting for that.

GUILTY – A Verdict in the Charlie Lynch Case

Here’s a travesty of justice:

ReasonTVGUILTY – A Verdict in the Charlie Lynch Case – Aug 7, 2008

Dear Jury Foreman (Forewoman?) It’s legal to dispense Marijuana in California, because California says it is. The judges, and the federal prosecutors, are lying to you. How do you find the defendant not guilty? You disregard the instructions from the judge and determine the rightness of the application of the law in this case (as described here) and then you state, The Defendant is Not Guilty.

…it’s actually quite easy, but good luck being seated on a jury if you admit to having even heard the acronym FIJA.